family vacation

Spring Break Reading List

By Jeffery Robichaud

If you have kids like my wife and me, Spring Break is probably coming up. However, if you are lucky enough to be heading somewhere warm with a hammock, consider tossing these tomes into your tote.

COD – Sorry video gamers, this doesn’t stand for “Call of Duty”, rather Cod as in the book’s subtitle, A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. I was born on the seacoast of New Hampshire and remember visiting the Isles of Shoals, so named because in the 1600s monster schools of cod frequented the islands churning up so much water that the entire area looked like waves were breaking on shallow rocks. How can you pass up a book about history, economics, science, and VIKINGS. Long before Deadliest Catch and Lobster Wars there was Cod Wars. I don’t eat fish, but as an extra bonus there are recipes for Cod-lovers.

Where Underpants Come From – Think Bill Bryson meets Milton Friedman. I always enjoy chuckling while I’m learning something, and this book weaves (poor pun intended) a tale of the global economy from a pair of underpants back through the supply chain to China.

Live from Cape Canaveral: Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today –This might not be the most in-depth history of the space program, but it was written by the only correspondent who has covered every manned space mission and is an extremely quick read. As we approach Earth Day, it is easy to forget that just 50 years ago, when John Glenn circled the Earth, we still had no idea what it looked like. Thanks to NASA our first full picture of earth was one for the ages.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck – No it is not the Lorax. It is not even my favorite, the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. But if you pick up this lesser known Seuss work for your kids, you can also be a science hero and kill a couple more hours of Spring Break by making your own non-newtonian fluid based on the story.

I’m still trying to work through a backlog on my e-reader , but any recommendations that you Care to Share?

About the author: Jeffery Robichaud is Deputy Director of EPA’s Environmental Services Division in Kansas City. He is a second-generation scientist with EPA, who began his career in Washington, DC in 1998.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Nature, History, Family and other things

I just got back from a brief family vacation in Puerto Rico. Since my 7-year old had never visited the island, I decided to play tour guide so she would “discovery” the Island.

In order to experience different sites and sounds, we decided to venture outside of the San Juan Metropolitan area. We started with a visit to El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest part of the U.S. Forest Service. This area of 28,000 acres is well known for its biodiversity. More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year. My daughters were truly impressed by the luscious greenery and sounds of the rainforest. I had to convince the little one that the chirping came from little frogs, the coquis, not birds. We all enjoyed El Yunque. It has the potential of being designated as one of the new 7 wonders of the world!  Definitely has my vote!

Another escapade took us to the southeastern town of Salinas which faces the Caribbean Sea. My daughters were struck by the rich aquamarine colors of the sea. We had lunch at an open terrace restaurant right at the coast. The children were entertained by a family of crabs that was playing on the sea-bathed rocks.

During another day excursion, we walked through the cobblestone streets visiting the historic sites of Old San Juan including forts, museums, and a pigeon park. A short film at the San Felipe del Morro Fort described the role these forts had played in defending the capital of Puerto Rico during Spanish colonial times. After exploring the historical venues, we enjoyed tropical flavored Puerto Rican snow cones commonly referred to on the Island as piraguas.

During the course of our vacation, we took time to visit with family, attend my high school reunion, and enjoy the beaches. When it was time to bid farewell, we took one last drive along Piñones, an area along the northern coast outside of San Juan to enjoy some Puerto Rican culinary delights (alcapurrias and bacalaítos) which we washed down with some fresh coconut water. We drank it straight from the coconut. It was truly a memorable experience.

We packed many events during our brief sojourn in Puerto Rico. We’ll have to schedule day excursions to visit the karst region, Camuy Caverns, and the bioluminescent bay in Vieques. Next time.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

El Morro bridge and beach closeup of bright red flamboyan flowers Sentry box over the ocean dense green jungle foliage Lamina Falls flowing through the jungle trees

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Naturaleza, historia, familia y otras cosas

Acabo de regresar de unas breves vacaciones familiares en Puerto Rico. Como mi hija de 7 años de edad nunca había visitado la Isla, decidí servir de guía para ayudarla a “descubrirla”.
Para experimentar sitios y sonidos diferentes, nos aventurarnos fuera del área metropolitana de San Juan. Empezamos con una visita al Bosque Nacional del Yunque, el único bosque pluvial tropical que forma parte del Servicio de Bosques de EE.UU. Esta área de 28,000 acres es conocida por su biodiversidad. Más de 100 mil millones de galones de precipitación caen anualmente. Mis hijas estaban impresionadas por el exuberante verdor y la riqueza de sonidos. Tuve que convencer a la pequeña que el supuesto gorgojeo que escuchaba provenía de pequeñas ranitas, los coquíes, no de aves. Realmente disfrutamos El Yunque. Tiene el potencial de ser designado como una de las siete maravillas del mundo! ¡Voy a él!

En otra escapada fuimos al pueblo costero del sudoeste de Salinas que mira al Mar Caribe. Mis hijas estaban impresionadas con la gama de tonos aquamarina del mar. Almorzamos en un restauran de terraza abierta frente a la costa. Las niñas se entretuvieron mirando una familia de cangrejos que jugaban sobre las rocas bañadas rítmicamente por las olas.

Otro día caminamos por las calles de adoquines para visitar los sitios históricos del Viejo San Juan incluyendo fuertes, museos y el Parque de las Palomas. Una breve película sobre el Fuerte de San Felipe del Morro describió el papel que desempeñaron estos fuertes en la defensa de la capital de Puerto Rico durante la época colonial española. Después de explorar los sitios históricos, disfrutamos de unas deliciosas piraguas* con sabores tropicales

Durante el curso de nuestras vacaciones, también aprovechamos para visitar a familiares, asistir a mi reunión de escuela superior, y disfrutar de las playas. Cuando llegó el momento de despedirnos, decidimos guiar por Piñones, un área a lo largo de la costa norte entre San Juan y Luquillo para disfrutar de especialidades culinarias puertorriqueñas como alcapurrias y bacalaitos que nos tomamos con agua de coco bien fría. El agua de coco la tomamos directamente del coco y nos comimos lo que en Puerto Rico se conoce como “la telita.”’ Fue una experiencia inolvidable.

Aunque tuvimos la oportunidad de realizar varias actividades durante nuestra breve estadía, todavía nos queda por visitar la región kárstica, las Cuevas de Camuy, y la Bahía Mosquito bioluminiscente de Vieques. Ya será la próxima vez.

*Piragua—un refresco granizado puertorriqueño

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

El Morro bridge and beach closeup of bright red flamboyan flowers Sentry box over the ocean dense green jungle foliage Lamina Falls flowing through the jungle trees

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.