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Side Streets: Even in island paradise, there's no place like home in Colorado Springs

By: Bill Vogrin
August 20, 2014 Updated: August 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm
Caption +
A thunderstorm rolled in from the Caribbean Sea and produced a dawn waterspout over the North Sound on Grand Cayman Island on Aug. 14, 2014. Gazette Side Streets columnist Bill Vogrin captured this photo from the balcony of his hotel room. The next day, the photo ran on the front page of the Cayman Compass. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

No matter how far I roam, it seems I never leave my life as a journalist far behind.

And I can't shake Colorado Springs.

I don't consider myself a workaholic. I like to unplug, go for a long bike ride, collapse on the couch and veg out in front of "SportsCenter."

But when it comes to news, I guess I'm just hardwired to report the stuff I see happen.

And that means telling people who might care.

In my case, that means the people of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.

When I was in Europe on a boat on the Danube River last month, I thought of friends and neighbors and readers who may have been stationed overseas or who share my joy of travel or history.

I wanted to let them in on cool places and people I encountered.

That's what happened last week, as I was on an island paradise in the Caribbean Sea.

My family and I had taken a quick trip to Grand Cayman Island so my youngest, Ben, could get his scuba certification by doing his first open-water dives amid spectacular coral reefs and abundant tropical fish.

My wife, Cary, and I snorkeled while Ben was diving.

I must confess, Grand Cayman is one of the few places I might dream of living. It's small and isolated and not ruined, yet, like Cancun, Mexico.

It's an English-speaking country with a friendly currency.

It offers miles of amazing beaches as well as jagged iron shores where crashing waves smash blow holes in the rock, creating explosive geysers of sea spray.

Thriving coral reefs packed with colorful tropical fish surround the island attracting all sorts of sea life.

An airport makes travel to Miami and points beyond convenient.

And best of all there's a daily newspaper, the Cayman Compass, that reports on the island government and businesses and island life.

As I lay in a hammock under palm trees last week, I dared imagine myself working and living there. (It's a dream bolstered by the fact I'd be joining a former Gazette colleague, Judy Isacoff.)

It was the rainy season, and we were treated to some spectacular thunderstorms. Our hotel sat on the shore of the sprawling North Sound, which is about 5 miles wide where it meets the sea.

On Thursday morning, before dawn, I watched a storm roll in.

As the sun rose, the storm moved closer, and I noticed its dark clouds churning ominously.

My spider sense began tingling, and the reporter in me reached for my camera.

As I stood on our second-floor balcony, my instincts proved right as I watched a waterspout spin out of the clouds and churn the sound.

It stayed around long enough for me to wake Cary and get several photos.

My reporter's reflex also told me to post the photos on Facebook as soon as possible for the folks back in the Pikes Peak region to enjoy.

I've seen a tornado or two. And several dust devils. (Folks in the newsroom might recall my excitement a few years ago at seeing one spin up over the concrete plant on East Costilla Street.)

Best of all, when Judy saw my photo, she decided readers of the Compass would enjoy seeing it. The next day, the photo was published in color on the front page!

And I have to admit I'm proud. I still get excited about landing on A1 after nearly 35 years in the newspaper business.

I just thought it was something cool I wanted to share with my friends.

And that is why my dream of maybe packing my swim trunks and heading to the islands for good is just that . a fantasy.

No matter where I go, and what cool stuff I see, I can't stop thinking about the folks back home . here in Colorado Springs. After 
20 years' living here, meeting my wife and raising my family here, working at The Gazette, this is my home.

And it's a paradise every bit as much as Grand Cayman Island.

So, I hope you don't mind me sharing my far-flung adventures and exploits.

And I hope you don't mind if I stay another 20 years.


Read my blog updates at

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