The Long Journey Home



The West Indies are an interesting place. The natural surroundings are undeniably beautiful.  The water is so clear and blue, you can see everything underneath you for 50 feet or more. It’s like swimming in the world’s largest swimming pool. The beaches are serene, the wind rustling through palm trees elicit a level of calm that’s hard to reach on the mainland, and if you are lucky enough (as I was) to live on a mostly undeveloped residential island, it can be truly, almost heaven. Almost.

The journey started back in 2008 when my wife (GF at the time) and I decided it would be fun to disappear into the caribbean for a spell while the economy played out it’s grand guignol. We had our minds set on a small island next to St. Thomas called Water Island. Knowing that it would be a huge adjustment to just up and move there from the relative reality of Orlando, we took a halfway-step and moved to Key West. We lived there for four years, then made the move to the VI.

During our time in Key West I really got some traction with this CopperSteam stuff.. I think I really made some progress on the direction and feel of what I was trying to accomplish with it. I’m still honing in on it now, and don’t expect to ever really stop changing directions, but those four years were really the foundation of the thing.

When we moved to St. Thomas, I kind of hit a logistical wall.. shipping anything to the VI is expensive and slow, and they have virtually NO local options for buying any kind of supplies but for the Home Depot up on the mountain, and even they have a limited cross-section as far as Home Depot’s go. My tools all rusted immediately because of the salt content in the air (We did live on a cliff overlooking the Ocean, so I guess I should have seen that one coming), and polishing copper and brass was a tremendous exercise in futility, as it would begin to tarnish immediately. Needless to say.. not the best environment to construct an evil scientist’s lab.

Despite all the difficulties, I was able to construct one of my favorite pieces to date.. the SteamAmp II, a commissioned piece for a gent in Connecticut. It cost a fortune to get the materials shipped, and I had to re-do every piece I finished at least once, but perseverance paid off and it came out great. I vowed to never again attempt another physical artwork while I was living there.

Apart from the difficulty of trying to build stuff there, life was pretty much a waking dream. I drove around in my golf cart, floated in the pristine waters on our little beach, drove to work in a dinghy… and dreamed of fresh fruits and veggies and cheap and plentiful meat and dairy. You see, while liquor (especially Rum) was a fraction of the cost on the island, the food-supply chain to the VI is slow and expensive, and getting good groceries was really quite a challenge. A small price to pay I suppose, for living literally a two minute drunken golf cart ride to one of the best beaches ever. Water island was a balancing game.. the sooner you just learned to go with the flow, the more you could just relax and enjoy the beauty of it all.

So, as fate would have it, just as I decided to kick back and only work on conceptual design stuff, and play out my days in a dark rum-fueled version of some Hunter S. Thompson novella, Christina got a job offer she couldn’t pass up back on the mainland. After no small amount of deliberation, we decided to come back early.

And so it comes to pass, I am back in Florida, three weeks from moving back into our house that we’ve had renters in for 6 years, and planning my grande return to the original Ævil Laboratory… and oh the fun we will have then!

So stay tuned kiddies, I’m dusting off the workbench!

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