Shark Island

I was watching an interview of Michael Phelps by Bob Costas about Michael’s future plans.  As of today, Michael has no desire to swim in the next Olympics.  He expressed a desire to scuba dive, and with sharks.  One of his swimming competitors at the Olympics is from South Africa and invited Michael to visit him and swim with Great White sharks.  Michael did say that he would be in a cage underwater, not actually in the open water with the sharks.  Sharks are his favorite animal he expressed.  Now it was time to have a little fun in life.  Michael is not alone in his fascination of sharks.  Most of us are, especially Great White sharks.   


I choose to place a number of islands on the game board of Treasure Trove such as Crocodile Island, Dragon Island, Skull Island, Treasure Island, and a Shark Island.  There are a several actual Shark Islands throughout the world, and I choose the one near Australia to place on the game board.

Included within the booklet of instructions for the game is an eight page footnote section talking about actual treasure findings throughout history, as with as information regarding places on the game board.  The following is from the footnote section about Shark Island.

            There is an actual Shark Island off Nambia’s coast in southwest Africa.  One of the Cocos Islands is named the “Island of the Sharks” off Costa Rica’s west coast in Central America because of the large numbers of sharks present.  Shark Bay is off the west coast of Australia.  There is also tiny Shark Island off Cornulla Beach, New South Wales, near Australia’s southeast coast.  It is a world famous spot to surf with its huge waves.     

I love to scuba dive, but actually enjoy the little fishes rather than sharks.  I also know people and especially kids are fascinated by sharks.  It was only fitting to include a Skull Island on the game board.  I also hope Michael Phelps has a safe excursion on his travels to Africa.



















Galapagos Islands

Biographies have interested me since I was a child.  Each week my classroom at school would venture to the library for about 30 minutes.  I was always jealous of the girls who were good readers.  They seemed to polish off their reading quite easily while mine was a slow slog.  It is still that way for me. I learned early on that I liked history and biography.  Each week I would check out a book about some famous person. 

I remember reading about Thomas Jefferson and how he was challenged to a swim race by an Indian.  The Indian was stronger and a better swimmer but Jefferson won the race because he paced himself.  So what?  I don’t know, it is just something I remembered when I read his biography.  Same goes for Henry Ford when he built a car and could not get it out of the garage.  He had to tear down the garage door to get the car out.  How about Abraham Lincoln liking to wrestle?  Just quirky little things that I remember.

            One day in the biography section I picked up a book called Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle.  At least that is what I recall.  I had never heard of him.  He was an Englishman who had journeyed to an island that had all kinds of strange animals.  It opened up my mind to people who study plants and animals.  I guess at the time I just called them scientists because I had no idea what a botanist or a zoologist was.  I also had not realized prior to reading the book that there were giant turtles.  I don’t remember anything special about Darwin and also do not recall the book saying anything about evolution.  I suppose it did, but it did not register on my radar screen.  I just remember him encountering a lot of weird animals and writing in his book to categorize them.

            I choose to place Galapagos Islands on the game board of Treasure Trove because it has an unusual name and because they are unusual islands.  I was hopeful it would be of interest to kids who play the game.  I never really knew why they were called the Galapagos.  Sounded like one of the strange animals that was found there.  Well, that is partially true.  Galapagos in Spanish means saddle.  The Spanish sailors who discovered the islands encountered very large turtles that had shells shaped like a saddle, hence they named the islands after the large tortoises.

            The Galapagos is an archipelago of about a fifteen islands 60 miles west of Ecuador, discovered by the Spanish in 1535.  English pirates frequented the islands for centuries waiting to raid Spanish galleons of their gold and silver.  Charles Darwin arrived in 1835.  There are about three dozen indigenous species to the islands which are now a national park of Ecuador.       

Mysterious Island











Some of my favorite movies as a kid were Journey to the Center of the Earth(1959) and Mysterious Island(1961).  The problem was I often had to wait years before a TV station would air one of the movies.  This was long before VCR’s much less Netflix.  Both movies captured my imagination.  I may not know the dialogue verbatim but I can just about tell you what the next scene will be.  A few years ago I enjoyed watching the original Journey to the Center of the Earth with James Mason.  It was also just a few years ago that I saw the remake at thre theater.  The remake was not bad, but I still like the original. 


This past weekend I ventured to the theater to watch the remake of Mysterious Island.  My wife and I really enjoyed it.  The Rock did a good job.  I’m glad Hollywood wants to revisit this classic tales of adventure.  I’m not sure why movies get more unbelievable rather than more plausible, but that seems to be the pattern now.  It was still good entertainment.

            On my original version of the board game Treasure Trove I had a “Mysterious Island,”‘ because it is such an interesting name.  I placed it near Indonesia.  Most of the other Islands, if not all, that I did choose to place on the game board in reality exist.  For example, there really is a Buccaneer Archipelago, a Dragon Island, a Crocodile Island, a Shark Island, and so forth.  The two that are stretched a bit are Castaway Island, which I placed in the Indian Ocean, and Skull Island that I placed near Indonesia.  There is not actually a Skull Island but there are islands near Borneo where people do place the skulls of their ancestors inside caves for burial.  There were a group of French sailors sranded as castaways on an isalnd in the South Indian Ocean in the 17th century for many months.

Treasure Trove is a game of collecting treasure, but it is fun to think of all the exotic places on this globe that would be fascinating to visit, especially if there were treasure there.  Treasure Trove is a quest for fabled wealth but it is also an adventure.  I think it is something kids enjoy experiencing in the process of play.  I choose not to place Mysterious Island on the final version of Treasure Trove because I did not think many people had heard of the Jules Verne novel Mysterious Island, much less the movie made in 1961.  Now that a remake of Mysterious Island has been made, I wish I had left it on the game board.





     I will always enjoy adventure movies to exotic and remote destinations, especially if there is an element of treasure involved.

Island of the Apes


Tiwai Island on the Moa River

All of us are familiar with the Planet of the Ape movies.  I think there are three or four sequels to the original movie made in the late 1960’s.  The first was OK, but that is the only one I recall enjoying.  My favorite ape movie of all time was the original 1930’s King Kong.  More so than the 1970’s remake or even the more recent remake.  The original black and white captured my imagination.  The ship lost in a foggy mist as it approaches an unknown island somewhere in the remote corner of the earth near Indonesia.  My family watched the movie together on TV in the early 1960’s as dad shared with us he had seen the movie at the theater as a child.      


    Islands and their remoteness as well as exotic names easily are naturally intriguing to us.  Mysterious Island, Easter Island, Shark Island: to name just a few.  There is no island called Ape Island, but with a little search on the internet I found there is a place called Island of the Apes.  It is not located in the remote South Pacific but actually in Africa.  It is a small island located within the confines of the Moa River in northwest Africa that has a large congregation of primates and chimpanzees, as well as other wildlife.  Island of the Apes was something I wanted to add to the game board of TreasureTrove.  An exotic place that would be an adventure to visit.






Please visit our website at www.treasuretrovegame .com

Penguin Island

Picture for the movie March of the Penguins


Georges Island also known as Penguin Island is a tiny island of one square mile in size located on a remote tip of Antarctica in the direction of Argentina.  It is part of the South Shetland Islands discovered by the British in 1820.  The island is called Penguin Isle by South Americans is home to an abundance of wildlife including millions of penguins.  It is also a tourist destination for hikers and volcanologists because the island is a dormant volcano, Deacon’s Peak. 

            Penguins have never been my favorite animal, but they have always interested me.  As I child living in San Antonio we often visited the large zoo there.  I always looked forward to going to the reptile house to see the snakes.  Years ago they also had a fish house.  Now of course there is Sea World.  At the zoo I always looked forward to the Penguin house.  I loved stepping into the cool building getting a respite from the Texas heat.  They were funny looking to me.  I did not know if they were a bird or a fish.  They would jump in the cold water and then fly out to land.  This was before my biology classes, and of course I now know they are mammals.  I enjoyed the movie March of the Penguins in 2005 which did a good job of bringing to life the story of the penguins on Antarctica.

When I first created my board game TreasureTrove in the late 1980’s, I was wanted to have a number of interesting places on the game board that might invite the interest of the players, especially children.  For example, I wanted there to be a Shark Island, a Dragoon Island, Dinosaur Valley and so forth.  One of the pathways on the board traverses from the southern tip of South America to the southern tip of Africa.  I wanted all the pathways on the board to have a variety of treasure spaces or interesting destinations so I wanted to come up with something on that remote trek of the southern hemisphere.  I placed a spot on the board and called it Penguin Island.  This was before the internet and I did not know if there actually was such a place but at least we would all understand that that is where lots of penguins are.  For kids it would be a point of geographic interest. 

Penguin Island on the game board of TreasureTrove

  I was pleasantly surprised when I brought my game to production many years later that there is in reality a place known as Penguin Island off of Antarctica.  I have since learned there is also a Penguin Island just off Western Australia.

            To enjoy a journey around the globe searching for treasure and experiencing exotic animals and places please visit our website at

Friday the XIII

robinson crusoe golden book


logoWhen I was a boy, my older brothers had golden books.  At first I could not read them but  enjoyed hearing the stories and  looking at the pictures.  One of my favorites was the story about Robinson Crusoe.  I found his adventure to be very fascinating and I looked at the book many times in my younger chilhood years.  I remember him carving out a hugh log for a boat but was unable to drag it to the water.  I was also uneasy about cannibals. Years later I enjoyed reading the story about Crusoe to my children because my parents kept those same golden books so we could one day share them with our children.

The castaway story came to my mind as I was creating my own board game called Treasure Trove in the late 1980’s. Looking for treasure entails adventure and so I recalled Daniel Defoe’s story of a lonely soul shipwrecked and isolated on a deserted island.  The fictional story was written in the early 18th century and took place in the Caribbean.  It is assumed the novel was loosely based on the actual life of a Scottish castaway who was marooned on a Pacific island off of the west coast of South America for four years before his eventual rescue.  The Spanish called the island “ Mas a Tierra,”  located 400 miles off the coast of Chile.  The government of Chile renamed the island “Isla Robinson Crusoe” (Robinson Crusoe Island) in 1966.

robinson crusoe ocean island robinson crusoe island scene

The novel was published in 1719, about 13 generations ago.  In the book a white castaway named Crusoe meets a native who he names “Friday.”  In the ordeal of the two of them surviving together they became good friends.robinson crsoe island

At first I wanted to put “FRIDAY XIII” on the board game itself and therefore people would wonder, “what is that?”  I was going to have a brief narrative in the game’s booklet describing the space to read as follows:

You journey to a distant island to spend some time alone, however one Friday, that is Friday the 13th, meet Friday the XIII, a native of the islander who ends up becoming a friend of yours. He says one of his great ancestors befriended a white castaway here about 13 generations ago.robinson crusoe island


I decided not use Friday XIII on the board game because it has the connotation of the horror movies “Friday the 13th.”  I have never seen any of the movies, nor do I intend to ever do so. I also do not believe in any superstition concerning Fridays that occur on the 13th of  the month.

In the late 1980’s, when I was researching places to put on the game board of TreasureTrove, I learned there is actually an island named after the famous novel.   I thought I was fairly well educated in geography but that was one fact that had eluded me.  I could not pass up the opportunity to place Robinson Crusoe Island on the game board.  I think adults playing the game will find that  interesting.

The booklet narrative describing Robinson Crusoe Island reads as follows:

Peace and quiet are something to be valued.  Visit this remote island and spend some much needed time alone.  One Friday, however, you meet a stranger native to the island.  The two of you enrich each other’s lives through friendship.


To learn more about the game go to www.TreasureTroveGame.comboxtop