Planned and Past

At Sea – 3

Today another day at sea – actually we will be at sea for two days before we get to San Blas Island, Panama. The water is fairly rough and we are regularly having waves crash over our cabin’s portholes. The ship does have stabilizers so it’s not too uncomfortable walking on deck or in the cabin but it is necessary to be careful and keep one hand on something when not sitting down.

We had a bit of excitement this morning when the captain announced we were responding to a distress call from a vessel off the coast of Columbia. Turned out to be a freighter with engine problems that only kept from being swept ashore by it’s anchor. Eventually our captain was able to relay communications so a (commercial) tow vessel would come out to help them.

When snorleling the other day I got a small amount of sea water into my nose and now it is feeling very uncomfortable. Otherwise today we have been been sitting on deck enjoying the sun and sea breezes. I could get used to this life.

We had a wonderful anniversary last night.  The ship was having some sort of barbecue shin-dig for dinner by the pool deck.  Jan and I wanted to have a romantic dinner so we ate ashore at a place called Salsa.  It was wonderful!  Had a bottle of a good South African wine and a meal of fish soup, gamba’s (a kind of shrimp I think) and a curry dish for two with Wahoo, beef, and other stuff I don’t remember.  Topped off with Death by Chocolate.  This will probably be remembered as one of our best anniversary meals ever.

Today we are in Aruba after a rough night at sea.  Lots of wind, waves and rain but, luckily, neither Jan nor I had problems with it, other than being awakened by waves crashing against the porthole.  This morning we took an excursion on a small submarine down to 130 feet depth.  Saw glorious fish and coral.  Jan and a new friend then went shopping – something available in abundance in Oranjestad.

We hear about the bad weather hack in the states.  We don’t think our being in a warm place is in any way the cause of the storms.

Next – two days at sea heading towards Panama.


We had docked at Bonaire last night – earlier than expected.  This morning we were greeted with a heavy rain shower with some strong winds.  Since we were scheduled for a snorkeling adventure at 9am this was a concern.  But things gradually cleared up and we boarded a unique vessel – the Samur, a sailing junk built in Thailand in the 60’s.  Our scheduled snorkeling was at a beach of a nearby island which is also a wildlife sanctuary with nesting grounds for four different types of sea turtles.

I had a great day in the clear water and the reef was full of fish.  Saw some really huge parrot fish and some huge schools of an unidentified (by me) type of fish.  While we were there some conservation officials were checking on hatchlings of Hawksbill turtles.  They found one nest where eggs had hatched and there was still one tiny turtle remaining.  They brought it down to the shore and released it.  It was fascinating to see it’s efforts to make it to the sea while the waves kept pushing it back on the beach.

After that we wandered some shops in the town and looked for a place for dinner tonight.  This is our 33rd anniversary and Jan and I thought we would like to eat alone rather than attending the on-deck barbecue.

Tomorrow we sail to Aruba.  We will be interested to see it again as we were there in 1986 and wonder how it has changed.

At Sea – 2

Today was another day at sea, sailing from Isla de Margarita to Bonaire.  We weren’t supposed to arrive until the morning of the 7th but favorable winds got us into port on the night of the 6th.  Not a lot of excitement today. Mostly sitting on deck reading and talking with other passengers.  We have to be up early tomorrow for a catamaran snorkle trip.  I’m looking forward to that.

Isle de Margarita

Today we pulled into the harbor around 8am at Isle de Margarita, 18 miles off the Venezuelian coast.  It’s actually quite a large island, 20 by 41 miles.  I had never heard of it before this cruise but there are probably plenty of places I don’t know exist.

For some reason Jan and I were late waking up this morning.  We have both been sleeping very well on this cruise, maybe due to staying up later than we usually do, maybe due to all the fresh air or maybe the very comfortable bed in our cabin.  Anyway, we just barely made it to breakfast on time and were a little late catching the tender over to the dock.

One of the HUGE Princes Cruise ships was in the port at the same time so there were people all over the place.  As a consequence most of the little stalls selling crafts and jewelry were open – I doubt they would have bothered if it was just for our little ship and its small number of passengers.  We wandered around for a while but didn’t buy anything except a beer at an outdoor bar by the beach.

The weather is hot and humid but with a little relief from clouds and a nice breeze.  There were even a few dark clouds that looked like rain but nothing materialized.

Tomorrow will be another day at sea, on our way to Bonaire on the 7th.  We are planning a snorkeling excursion while there and that is also our 33rd wedding aniversary.

At Sea

Today we will be at sea for the entire day. We are on our way to Isla De Margarita, Veneuzala but won’t arrive there until the morning of December 5th.

So far the ship has been very enjoyable, even though it is small. For example, the pool is smaller than our dining room at home. But the small size makes it quite easy to get around, unlike the large ship we were on before. The only negative is that shade is at a premium on the deck. The food has, so far, been wonderful with enough variety to satisfy a ‘picky eater’ like me.

The other passengers have been great and, because there aren’t so many, we are already getting to know a good number of them by face if not by name. There seems to be a good mixture of ages and backgrounds on board although none that are very young. Not a lot of wild nightlife on board either. Jan and I seem to be the closest thing to ‘party animals’ among the passengers and that’s only becaues we like to stay up late by the pool bar, looking at the clear, un-light-polluted sky.

Latest Adventure

I’m trying something new and I hope this will work. Jan and I are onboard a cruise ship, currently at the island of Bequia.

I decided to try the internet access from the ship and it seems to work okay for email and the web but I am not sure how blog posting will be. If this works, then you can expect posts from us every day or so – probably without a lot of pictures but I’ll try to hit the highlights.

The adventure so far involved flying to Miama on 11/29 and then on to Barbados on 11/30. We spent two days on Barbados because I ship was late arriving in port. Finally boarded yesterday and set sail at midnight last night. We are still trying to get adjusted to the ship and getting our “sea legs”


Our drive from Fairbanks to Denali National Park was easy though we had some worries about the weather. As we neared the park the sky looked very dark but it turned out to not be rain but smoke. We had heard of fires farther south on the Kenai peninsula but didn’t expect to be affected until we were in that area. As it turned out winds had brought the smoke north and it was very thick around the park. Visibility was very poor and the smoke smell was very strong.

We had planned on a whitewater raft trip that afternoon but decided to cancel it due to the smoke. Instead we drove around the area, checked out the park visitors center and found another great place for lunch (The CreekSide Cafe.)

By the time we had checked into our hotel we were glad we had canceled the raft trip as visibility was growing worse. Instead we wandered around some shops near the hotel and just took it easy. The following day we were scheduled for a 13-hour long bus tour of the park and we were worried that it would be a complete bust due to the smoke.

That night it rained and in the morning (06/23) the air was clear of smoke. Our bus picked us up on time and we were on our way. As we got farther into the park the weather continued to improve.

The first wildlife we spotted were Dall Sheep. I find it hard to believe how they can manage these rocky, steep crags.More Dall Sheep

Not much later we spotted our first bear. This one was just snoozing out in the meadow, completely oblivious to the busses on the road. Our driver explained that the Grizzlies in Denali are much lighter in color than those in other areas. He described them as the “Marilyn Monroes” of Grizzly Bears.Snoozing Grizzly Bear

Around the next bend in the road we came across a herd of Caribou. They were ambling over the hill in the direction of the bear above. Grizzly bears are a major predator on Caribou so they are careful to stay away from them. The bus driver stopped and we watched while the Caribou discovered the bear in their path. Here is a picture of the herd after they changed direction away from the bear (to the right of the photo).Caribou notice the bear.

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Coldfoot to Fairbanks

Coldfoot is north of the Arctic Circle and we were there on the Summer Solstice (6/21). This meant we experienced 24 hours with the sun above the horizon. You sort of loose your sense of time-of-day under those circumstances.

When we left Coldfoot in the morning we backtracked a ways north to visit the settlement of Wiseman. It’s a one-time mining town founded when gold miners left the old Coldfoot for richer diggings The population was 21 as of the 2000 census. Here is a shot of the Wiseman Museum which contained all maner of artifact from the gold mining era.Wiseman Museum

Wiseman is definitely an “off the grid” place with wind and solar power prominently visible.Solar & Wind

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Deadhorse to Coldfoot

On the morning of June 20th we left Deadhorse for a two day trip by van back to Fairbanks. We had only been on the road a short while when we saw our first tundra wildlife, an Arctic Fox. This one was just starting to change from its winter white to its darker summer coloring.Arctic Fox

Not many more miles down the road we spotted a pair of Gyrfalcon(s?). They are the largest true falcons in the world with wingspans up to 64 inches. They are classed as a threatened species by the IUCN.Gyrfalcon

Next was the first of many Caribou we would see, both here and in Denali National Park. They seemed to be quite content to graze alongside the Dalton Highway while large noisy trucks passed putting much dust into the air.Caribou

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