Living in South Florida you get used to the exotic animals that surround us. We may be lacking lightening bugs, but we do have cockroaches the size of smart cars. In addition to our cute lizards crawling around everywhere, we also have 12 foot alligators. Even local rivers and beaches are now dealing with the beautiful, but poisonous lion fish. I can get used to most creepy crawlies, but I draw the line at dragons!
It’s true. A small colony of nile monitor lizards have moved in along the banks of the C51 canal in West Palm Beach. These lizards (that are indigenous to Africa) are so big they are sometimes called dragons. They can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds. They have a vicious bite and can be very aggressive.
I checked state records and found a dozen or so have been found over the past year from Palm Beach International Airport to the Turnpike along Southern Boulevard. A five footer was even caught inside of a screened in porch. The lizard got there by entering a doggie door.
The state is now trying to catch and kill off the breeding lizards. They’ve lost the battle in Cape Coral in Southwest Florida. A large colony is currently terrorizing that small town. The lizards are even breaking into foreclosed homes and breeding inside of them. Yes, the lizards are also breeding in West Palm Beach. I know because the state sent me a picture to prove it!
Most Floridians can take a lot when it comes to exotic animals. Boa constrictors moving into the Everglades and eating alligators is ok for most, but the idea of a monitor lizard moving in next door is not. Personally that’s where I have to draw a line.
My oldest son Vejas just turned 4 years old! For his birthday my wife and I had a long debate on if he was ready for his first bike. I won and he got an awesome silver bike with a shark face on the front, an annoying horn on the handlebars and training wheels on the back.
He loves it! Not only does he love riding the bike, but he had his first taste of freedom. On his first ride through the neighborhood we went up the coastal ridge that runs along West Palm Beach’s historic Flamingo Park. His little legs worked hard to get up the steep Florida hill, but on the way down he was in heaven. He lifted up his legs to the top bar and screamed like a cowboy on a bucking bull. I too was screaming! I kept saying. “Put on the breaks! Put on the breaks!” At the last possible moment before heading into the street Vejas did put on the breaks. After I had a heart attack and finally caught up to him he said, “Lets do it again!!”
I was hoping he would not tell his mother about our “guy” adventure, but the first thing out of his mouth once inside the house was, “Mama I went down the big hill.” Mama was not pleased, but Vejas keeps on asking when he can go down the “big” hill again.
My wife suggested we let him ride on the Lake Trail on Palm Beach. Trying to explain bike trail etiquette wasn’t easy. His idea of being polite is to pass someone by honking his annoying horn 100 times and then sharply cutting them off! The But, the toughest lesson for him was looking forward. He wants to look at everything around him, including what’s happening behind him. Even after a dramatic fall, we’re still working on it.
It’s a strange feeling as a parent to see your first child ride a bike. You want them to enjoy it and do it, but you also realize that your relationship with them has just changed. Your first born now knows that one day he will be able to do everything by himself and he likes it.
“You are crazy!” I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. My friends can’t believe that my wife Audra and I took our kids to the Alps on vacation. When I tell people of our adventure they first ask, “Who watched your boys while you were gone?” Vejas just turned 4 and Kovas is almost 2, so when I break the news that they came along, their questions change to just “WHY?”
I’m puzzled every time I’m questioned about our decision to show the boys the world. My parents would never think of leaving me and my sister home for a family vacation. On the other hand, the most exotic vacation my parents ever took us on was to Virginia Beach, VA, and 18 hours of traveling by car and plane was not necessary.
The kids were awesome, but no matter how much we talked to them about jetlag they couldn’t understand why they wanted to be up at 3AM to eat and play.
Once in France the kids loved exploring their new environment. From the funny shaped rooms in our chalet to the view of the mountains, the kids soaked it all in. We even hiked on high altitude trails around Mont Blanc. Kovas rode in a backpack, while Vejas jumped around like a mountain goat. Every patch of snow the boys found turned into a snowball fight.
I won’t lie to you. This trip was made harder because of the needs of the kids. I’ve told my wife I do not want to go to a restaurant for a long time. Service in France is slow and the kids would terrorize the entire restaurant by screaming and throwing things until the food arrived.
Looking at our pictures the tough moments are fading fast. I’m glad we took the kids on our vacation to the Alps, even if most people think we are crazy for doing it.
Last Tuesday was the hottest day in South Florida for nearly 5 years! I went outside and thought, “Wow that’s refreshing!” I haven’t gone crazy, but I have picked up Bikram Yoga. Its nickname is hot yoga because you practice it in a room that’s 105 degrees (making our 98 degrees in West Palm Beach on Tuesday feel chilly).
I’ve never done yoga before, so naturally I decided to start with the most punishing version of it. Each class runs for 90 minutes as you work through 26 muscle and mind bending poses. It’s tough! In fact one instructor told me, “If you enjoy this workout there is something wrong with you.”
Despite the warnings, my only true fear was being the only man in the class. Boy was I wrong with that assumption. In each class there have been a handful of men, but women usually outnumber the guys 4 to 1. During my first class a fellow compatriot told me to take it easy since men can’t bend the same way as women. I soon found out he was speaking the painful truth. I attended another class where the instructor was a man. He proudly told me after class that men have it a lot harder than women during yoga. I loved the comment, but the ladies nearby did not!
During my first class I focused on just staying in the room and not passing out from the heat. After my second class I had to go to work and anchor 3 newscasts. I swear I didn’t make sense the entire night. Later, I asked if it was normal to be exhausted after a Bikram workout. I was told by two fit yogies, “Yoga is the only exercise that gives you energy instead of taking it away. You must not be focusing on your breathing.” I said, “Breathing!?! I’m focusing on not getting heat stroke.”
I didn’t give up. I’ve taken a few more classes and I am feeling energized afterwards. I sleep better, but best of all I handle my stress a lot better. Despite the benefits, during a hot yoga class I always think this is torture. The two fit yogies wouldn’t admit it, but I bet they think the same thing.
Eric Roby CBS12 News Anchor West Palm Beach