Vampires and Zombies

Vampires and zombies seem to be a big theme in a lot of movies now days. I grew up watching old black and white vampire movies with Bela Lugosi and a few zombie movies with witch doctors in the Caribbean but I never thought there would be the plethora of movies on such themes as there are today.

I asked some of my older children, who are in their late 20’s, why young audiences are so fascinated with these movies. They were not so much into the vampire motif as much as the idea that there could be a global disease epidemic creating zombie like people. Perhaps a post war or apocalyptic occurrence. Very gruesome, however, not much different than the cheesy 1950’s black and white movies dealing with a post nuclear war scenario.

I also noticed a lot of kids like to put the death and decaying makeup on for Halloween these days. I suppose I would have like to have done that when I was a kid. There used to be a few Dracula costumes roaming about on Halloween when I was a kid. As I recall, I was a little uncomfortable with the Dracula and blood sucking vampire thing. When I was about ten I saw a movie where a teenager was bit by his girlfriend and he turned into a vampire. I had trouble sleeping that night, and it made me suspicious of girls for a while. I also saw a movie where a Caribbean voodoo witch doctor would put pins in a doll, and then turned people into zombies. I hated that movie. Consequently for the last 45 years I have avoided such movies.

Having said that I did include a situation card in the board game Treasure Trove where one gets bit by a bat thereby losing their next turn.


Western Adventure

Anytime I think of treasure, I often think of treasure out west, that is the American West.  Many of my favorite treasure books tell stories of lost treasure on the western frontier.  Even if it is not treasure, I still like stories about the wild west.  I love the adventure, the romance, the gun play, the good guys versus the bad guy theme.  I grew up watching many westerns:  Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West.  One of the situation cards for Treasure Trove gives a player a chance to draw from one of the six decks of situation cards included in the game.  Of all the hundreds of westerns I have seen, the closing scene in Shane is still probably my favorite, the one where Alan Ladd takes out Jack Palance.  The quickest to draw.

Mountain Swim

I like to hike, often alone, but I enjoy it more with friends or family.  When our children were small we would take them camping.  The hours passed easily as we messed around the campfire or threw rocks in the stream.  We were always up for a short hike almost daily but would plan for one day where as a family we do a good hike of about four or five miles.  It seemed for years and years I ended with one of the little ones on my back.  They get heavy, especially if you are going uphill.  I was younger and stronger then so I guess I found a way to manage.  My favorite hikes occurred when we camped in New Mexico.  The forests are beautiful, cool and refreshing.  It is called the Land of Enchantment and rightly so.  Our favorite trip each year is our annual trek to the mountains of New Mexico.

One hike I remember vividly in New Mexico started with a sign that said, “Lake, two miles.”  That sounded doable, but let me tell you, I did not realize it was a steep two mile uphill hike.  I had to carry my smallest on my back most of the way.  My heart was pounding as we ascended, plus the altitude difference always had some effect on me whether we were hiking or just sitting at the stream.  I was very glad to reach the top and since the sun was out we were actually hot.  Once at the top we realized it was not much of a lake, more than a large rancher’s tank.  The water was not as cold as I would have thought which tells me it was not too deep.  Since the small lake was only about 100 yards wide I mentioned to my wife we ought to give this a swim.  We were all warm from our trek up the mountain.  I was pleased when she agreed to.  The youngest fell asleep so we built an awning with our coats and tucked him under it.  We walked to the other side of the lake and shed our clothing down to our skivvies.  I quickly ran the clothing and shoes of all of us back to where we would finish our swim, where the littlest was sleeping.  I barefooted it along the shoreline in the soft mud back to the family and was the first to enter the water.  My daughter eagerly followed, she loves to swim:  then my son, and soon the wife.

The kids have always been good swimmers but my wife is not exactly relaxed when swimming in water above her head.  I fell back to keep an eye on her.  The water was quite cool at first but not too bad for mountain water.  The water was not as clear as I would have expected but it was a fun experience.  It did not take too long to traverse the small lake.  The little one was still asleep.  We all laid in the bright mountain sunlight to warm up, eventually putting our clothes on, and just in time.  A group of hikers from a trail that had started in a different location came walking by.  I doubt we would have swam if we had known several trails crisscrossed this lake.  It was fun and an adventure I will never forget it.

I am not much of a risk taker but I do love to experience life if the adventures taken are safe.  TreasureTrove is board game that lets players travel the world collecting treasures.  There is also an element of adventure as players traverse the world.  Please visit our website at

Mocha Dick


Gregory Peck in the movie Moby Dick

“Call me Ishmael.”  That is what I remember about the opening scene in the movie Moby Dick.  The black and white movie had Gregory Peck as the evil Captain Ahab.  I remember as a young child thinking I was going to like the movie but do not recall enjoying it.  I stared at the peg wooden leg as mean Captain Ahab snarled at the sailors on his ship.  I wasn’t sure why.  I think I feel asleep until my older brother woke me when the whalers encountered the infamous white whale named Moby Dick.  The most vivid scene in my mind was when Captain Ahab got tangled up in the ropes and was pulled under by the huge beast.  When the whale finally did surface the mean Captain Ahab had drowned.  I assumed he got what he deserved and as a small child I did not understand why he hated the whale so much.  I also did not know why the whale did not swallow him.  I was well acquainted with the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale.  I just assumed the whale did not want to eat him but just drown him in order to get the whalers to leave him alone. 

            It is fun to recall some of our earliest remembrances of movies or books read to us.  Of course, I now know more of the story of Moby Dick.  I remember memorizing for English class that the book was written by an American named Herman Melville.  Sadly, I could not remember if the novel was written for some purpose other than an adventure tale.  Fortunately, it is quite easy today to quickly explore the internet to retrieve some interesting facts concerning this famous novel.  

sculpture of Mocha Dick

Herman Melville served as a sailor aboard a whale ship in the early 1840’s. His writing was influenced by other American writers who used fiction based on real events to tell their stories.  The characters in the writings would bring in the romanticism and drama element that was prevalent in early 19th century American novels.  As to what all the nuances in the book represent is still open for debate among literary critics.  For example, why Captain Ahab throws his pipe overboard, and the imagery it represents is open for debate.  What about the mysterious Fedallah, the harpooner, who seems to have some dark influence on the captain.  I am not acquainted with the novel well enough to merit much discussion on these regards.  Let me share what fascinates me about the story.

            Melville had heard stories of whales big enough that several accounts of lost whale ships had been due to their ramming by the whales.  One famous whale off the coast of Chile near an island named Mocha survived many dozens of encounters with whalers for many years, by some accounts for almost 30 years.  The huge whale was distinguished not only by his size but that he was white.  They called him Mocha Dick.  He served as the inspiration to Melville’s Moby Dick.  Mocha Dick was first encountered around 1810 and when he was killed in the late 1830’s he had several harpoons within him besides the many scars on his body from eluded previous whaler attacks.  Is there any truth to the existence of a white whale, an albino whale?



                                                                                                     In the early 19th century white whales were reportedly observed off the coasts of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Australia.  Sightings have diminished since those times for all whales,especially for sperm whales such as Moby Dick.  An albino humpback whale referred to as Migaloo has ocasionally been seen near Port Douglas, Australia.  

 photo courtesy of

Mocha Island near Chile,photo courtesy of

            The story of Moby Dick and the possibility of a large white whale continues to fascinate me.  I wanted to place a white whale somewhere on the game board of TreasureTrove because it would be a treasure to behold if an individual could captured it on film. I am sure it be worth a lot of money.  When I first created the game I was not totally sure a white albino sperm whale actually existed.  I knew there were Beluga whales in the Arctic Ocean that are white.  I placed White Whale near Canada and had it drawn like a sperm whale even though I knew it was doubtful many sperm whales migrate that far north.  I now wish I had placed it somewhere near Chile on the game board but at least if a child is playing the game they may learn there are actual whales in the northern oceans that are white, the beluga whales. I have sense learned that there are the occasional albino whales seen in the wild.  I have also learned that whales, some of whom are the largest of any animals to have ever live on earth are actually not capapble of swallowing a person.  Their mouths and throats are designed to swallow smaller fishes.  Ironically, the sperm whale is the only whale that could potentially swallow an adult human being.  In the bible most versions say a large fishswallowed Jonah, not a whale.  Treasure hunting entails adventure and Moby Dick is one of the great adventure novels. 


Dark Waters

          The silhouette of a tree line could be discerned if you looked closely.  A few electric lights here and there in the distance, otherwise mostly dark.  No moon this night.  I knew what the landscape looked like in daylight so I pretty much knew what was on the other side of the lake.  The distance was somewhere between a kilometer and a mile in order to cross over.  I had done the swim during the day but for some reason it is a little more intimidating at night.

           It was about 5 a.m. when I entered the dark water.  I always do so with hesitation because those first few chilly steps always jolt me.  Fortunately, not too bad.  The older I get, the less I like cold.  The temperature of the water would be fine once I got kicking.  I did not see any boats, nor could I hear any.  That is my biggest fear, a fishing boat scooting across the water anxious to get to where it needs to be.  They could accidentally be upon me before they could react soon enough.  Hopefully if I hear them coming I can take evasive action appropriately.  But the darkness.  There is something about dark water that unsettles me, especially the ocean.  If I go scuba diving on a boat out into the ocean at night with a group I always want to be the first off the boat after we gear up.  It gives me some sort of rush:  that momentary feeling of dropping into the dark, the unknown.  Of course I wouldn’t do if I thought it was unsafe.  If I hear of any sharks are in the area then I’m not so gung-ho.  I my swim in the ocean at night alone, but if I’m with a boat, then I choose not to be alone. 

           My wife is annoyed when I choose to swim at night, especially when I’m alone.  She detests me swimming in the ocean at night.  Nevertheless, with some reluctance, she graciously accepts my need to do endeavors such as swimming across the lake at night.  The waves were not bad at all, only occasionally slapping me in the face when I was taking my breath in.  For the most part the swim was uneventful, actually enjoyable.  With no moon it was quite dark and a little hard to determine how far it was to the opposite shore.  The swim took less than 30 minutes.  

           My running shoes were waiting for me as I had deposited them prior to driving to my starting point of the swim.  The jog back to my car was enjoyable as I watched for shooting stars.  I spotted a faint one and then a few minutes later a very bright one.

            The 30 minute drive home with reflective music and the sun creeping on the horizon kept my morning on a positive note.  I love to eat a breakfast when I’m hungry.  My wife made me a nice breakfast and my day was just getting started.  I love the sensation of being alive, especially for one in his late 50’s and his physical abilities slowly diminishing.  In the meantime I will enjoy life’s gifts.  Simple things like a morning swim and watching for shooting stars is an adventure to me.  I think each of can choose to make life an adventure wherever and whatever circumstances we are in. 

           For an adventure in travel as you explore for the world’s fabled riches please visit our website at


              As a child growing up my family played a lot of board games.  During adolescence I began to really enjoy strategy games.  With three brothers I was not alone in enjoying war games.  One that I remember that really captured my imagination was the game RISK.  I was eleven when I first played the game in 1965.  Each player has armies as they try to conquer the world.  I loved looking at the map of the world and learning names I had never heard of:  Madagascar, Irkust, Yakust, and my favorite, Kamchatka.  I love the sound of that; Kamchatka.

            My mind still conjures up imaginative thoughts of far away places in the remoteness of cold and relatively unknown areas of the globe such as parts of Siberia.  It was not until a few years back that I watched a TV documentary on  grizzly bears in Kamchatka that renewed my fascination with Russia’s eastern most province.  It was also about that time I read a National Geographic article on the numerous volcanoes once active in that region, similar to our Yellowstone Park.  The area is host to many eagles and the land is thought to probably hold oil deposits.

kamchatka brown bear

water in volcano top

beautiful kamchatka region

           My wife and daughter do not like board games requiring strategy so when I decided to create my on game it was to be one that would be easy enough as traveling the world collecting trasure pieces. When I was making a map of the world to for the board game TreasureTrove whereby players search for lost treasure I wanted to include remote, far away places that most of us will never have the opportunity to visit.  I could not resist placing Kamchatka on the game board.  The game includes 72 situation cards which can be good or bad.  Some of the cards are worth money, some cause a player to lose a turn, and some give a player a choice of several destinations on the board to journey to.  One of the cards gives a player the opportunity to journey to one of several places in search of oil, one of which is Kamchatka.  Most of the treasures to be found or discovered while playing the game are lost pirate treasure, diamonds or gold.  Oil is included because the reality is that oil is the greatest natural treasure ever discovered.  The card reads as follows:


            Also included with the game is a 40 page booklet that describes the treasures on the board game.  The following is the description for the treasure to be found in Kamchatka:

  Kamchatka:  Your adventurous spirit takes you to Russia’s Far Eastern province to search for oil.  Its natural  beauty inspires you to instead establish a tourist destination that ends up being much more valuble. (see footnotes)         

            The booklet also includes a footnote section highlighting many of the world’s greatest treasure finds and facts about destinations on the game.  The following is in the footnote section:

 Kamchatka:  This remote but beautiful land is home to more brown bears than anywhere on earth.  Some of the world’s largest eagles, boar, and moose are there too.  It has over 100 active volcanoes.

             Our search for treasure in this life is often not only a journey but can be an adventure.  More importantly we sometimes discover somehing of much more value than what we are actually searching for.  Please visit our website www.TreasureTrovegame to learn about the game.

Kamchatka on game board