Denver Colorado. Friday, September 2, 2016

Although this is not a current trip, I am trying to clean out my backlog of photos and unposted trip reports. If you are not interested, then just delete. Otherwise come along on another Excellent Adventure. Believe me, this was a most excellent adventure, with lots of the interesting people, beautiful scenery, delectable food and a few great fish pictures thrown in to boot!

We are out west for a week before the wedding of our dear friend’s daughter in Beaver Creek, Colorado. As you all know, Steve enjoys fishing and always looks for a way to catch some fish on our way to anywhere. Steve had heard about a ranch in De Beque, Colorado called High Lonseome Ranch. Although High Lonesome’s main summer season was over, they would be able to accommodate Steve and I for a few days. Steve would fish every day, and hopefully I would ride on a few of the days.

My second cousin who lives in the Denver area had been wanting to get together with me on one of our trips out west. I hadn’t seen him in forty six years and was eager to see him again. Our plan for the trip was to fly to Denver, stay overnight in Golden, Colorado, have dinner with my cousin and his wife and then drive to High Lonesome in DeBeque. Then we would drive to Beaver Creek and attend the wedding.

We had a very fun flight to Denver. We took Southwest and on Southwest, seating is unassigned. You can pay to get a better place in the boarding line, which we did. Even then we still were not the first to board. When we boarded the plane I was looking for seats near the front, with one seat on the aisle for Steve and one in the middle for me. A lady spied us and frantically waved us over to sit in the second row with her. We decided to follow her directions and sit with her. She later told me she was looking for someone who was skinny, so she wouldn’t have someone spilling over into her seat!

I had a great conversation with her the whole flight out. Steve tried to read, but with so much jibber jabbering going on it was difficult. As usual, with anyone I am having a conversation with, I asked her lots of questions. This caused my new friend to think some deep thoughts, about her life and life in general. We were from completely different backgrounds. I am a heterosexual Republican. Let’s just say that she is not, nor ever was!

My new friend has a serious illness and we talked a long time about end stage of life decisions. She told me that she wanted to take the “cocktail” when the time comes. The “cocktail’ is a life ending combination of smashed up pills in coke, the outcome is that you don’t wake up the next morning. We had a lot of fun talking about what she hoped her final days would be like. So of course, I helped her plan out her final candle lit dinner party, where she would be drinking the cocktail. Some might think it morbid, but it was comforting for her. She told me later that I was an angel sent to her from the cosmos. You can imagine what kind of preening I did at hearing this! We have stayed in touch, but have yet to fly out to San Diego where she now lives. I think that Steve is secretly afraid that I would leave him for my new friend!

Let’s get back to the trip to Denver, we found the Hampton Inn in Golden, Colorado without any problem. It was then off to the restaurant where Steve and I would meet my cousin and his wife.

We met at a restaurant called “The Fort”.

It was not a fort, but was built to look like a frontier fort.

Now all the cars are parked outside instead of horses being outside of the building!

Green salad on pewter looking plates.

Rolls and yummy teeny tiny blueberry muffins.

Ruby trout with rice pilaf for me. I also had a Moscow Mule.

Liz, my cousin Larry’s wife had a special steak with a fried egg on top and some spicy sauce. This was not something this east coast girl had ever seen before. Liz said that it was fantastic.

Steve had the elk chops. Not as good as veal chops, but what ever is? Steve did say that these elk chops were very tasty.

My cousin Larry had the elk, quail and buffalo. Another entree that would be too adventuresome for me, but Larry enjoyed it very much.

Here we are!

Larry’s father and my father were first cousins. That makes us second cousins.

We are blocking the Denver skyline. But who wants to see Denver, when you can see the four of us!

We had a great time catching up with each other. I hope that it won’t take another forty six years to see my cousin again as then we will likely be both dead.

One of the perks of charging a lot on my Hilton credit card was that I became a Diamond Member. That entitled me to a better parking spot and an extra bottle of water. I have since moved my spending elsewhere!

What is your life expectancy?

Have you made your end of life departure plan?

Do you think that I ask too many questions?

A trip to Philadelphia and Charlottesville, October 25-26, 2019

I’m back! Did you miss me?

Steve and I have enjoyed seeing “The Crown”, on Netflix. When I found out that Winterthur in Wilmington, Delaware was having an exhibit on the costumes for the series, I told Steve we need to check this out on our way to the Sherlock Holmes Copper Beaches Dinner meeting. That is one long run on sentence. Perhaps my longest in these series of blog postings. Since I have had an unusually long hiatus from blogging that sentence may be apt. Or I could have done a really short sentence also. Oh well!

Before we saw the exhibit we had a tram ride through the gardens. We found this pink burning bush delightful.

Here are some of the props used during the coronation scene.

The Queen’s coronation robe and gown.

Prince Phillip wore this robe.

Phil did not get a crown, but a ducal coronet.

Prince Phillip’s fancy dress uniform. My Steve never looked this fancy, but he did look equally like a prince on our wedding day. (Do you think he will buy me an extra bauble for posting this?)

This is a dress worn by Queen Mary, wife of King George V, Elizabeth’s grandmother. Many refer to her as a “magpie” because she helped herself to many jewels that were owned by others.

The jewels looked much better in the show, than in the exhibit. Steve who read all the placards told me that is because real jewels are so sparkly they look fake on TV. One of the blogs that I follow had postings about each episode and how they got the jewels correct and incorrect.

The brooch pinned to the neckline represents the Cullinan III and IV diamond. The Cullinan diamond was discovered in 1905 in South Africa. It originally weighed 3106 carats and was cut into nine stones. The oval stone is over 90 carats and the square stone over 60 carats. The Cullinan I diamond weighs 530 carats! That is the big rock in the scepter above. Those are some stones!

This is a replica of the gown worn by the then Princess Elizabeth. Like quite a few other museum goerS, I got scolded because I wanted a look at the back of the dress. That was a no no!Here is a view of the train so you don’t have to worry about being yelled at in my blog post. Steve and I had a lot of fun looking at all the costumes. It is worth a road trip to see, so go!

Then it was off to Philadelphia to check into The Union League where we were to spend the night. This was for the fall meeting of the Copper Beeches, the Sherlock Holmes Group of Philadelphia . Steve and C attend meetings in the spring and fall. We missed it in April as we were in Argentina. (To be reported on someday!)

Here are J and I on the front steps at The Raquet Club. You recall all the other years, where I take a picutre of Steve and C. J and I ended up going to the dinner. I wore that top again this past week and noticed that I was missing a button on the garment. Now I know that I had already lost it prior to Philadelphia. I guess I may have to do some button rearranging. Looks like my hair wants some rearranging also. That one lock looks like it wants to go North. Some might say west, however I know what direction I was standing and that hair frond is pointing North. J looks very happy. I am not sure why. Perhaps she knows a secret that I don’t, or she is just in a good mood.

In fact, here are Steve and C. Steve has one lock that look’s like it is pointing straight to Hell. The back end is going straight to heaven. Steve would say “I need a haircut!” C must be looking at his beloved wife J who is a real trooper, and his been to many Sherlock Holmes events with her husband. I think that she needs more baubles also, don’t you?

This is the inside of the Racquet Club in Philadelphia where the event is held.

This is the room where the Sherlock dinner was held. I thought that the meeting was “fine”. I found the toasts a little bit long winded, and the food not so great. I sat across from the future leader of the BSI, and probably committed a future career ending incident by telling him that I thought these “Sherlockians” were “wackadoodles”, however as his wife is not a Sherlockian, he probably took it all in stride and had heard worse. What intrigued me the most about the event was another couple that sat across from us. (Not C and J, who sat next to us.) This couple had their hands all over each other. At least she had her hands all over him. Steve remarked to me that the ladies hand was rubbing up and down her male friend’s leg. Perhaps she had been given a bauble earlier?

We ended up seeing the new incoming head honcho again later that evening back at the Union League lounge and at breakfast the next morning. He must not have found me terribly offensive and probably tolerable as he sat next to me at breakfast. The night before at our impromptu get together I peppered him with lots of questions. I was suitably impressed with myself when the gentleman next to me (an attorney-who usually has lot of questions of his clients and adversaries) remarked after every other question “What a good question!”. (No, I did not offer him a bauble, but I did remark to Steve and the group “See, he likes my questions!”)

I offered for Steve and I to drop Mr. Future BSI head off at the airport, but as he had not packed yet and Steve and I needed to be on the road to go see Elliott and Kanna in Charlottesville he declined. It was a good thing that he did not take us up on my offer as it took us over an hour to get out of Philadelphia. In fact it took us an hour to pretty much circle back to where we had started. Don’t get me going on the poor signage and ramp closures in Philadelphia!

We finally made it to Charlottesville and got to check out Elliott and Kanna’s new apartment. It has a lovely Mountain View. Then it was time to go to dinner. As we didn’t have a reservation we were told that we would have a 90 minute wait for dinner. Thankfully it was only 45 minutes. I think a lot of people wanted to eat early so they could watch the World Series. I ordered the fried artichokes. I think it gave Elliott the creeps. My drink. I think it was some kind of funky monkey cocktail. Rum, some kind of exotic fruit purée and some other stuff. It was really good. Except for the new trend of paper straws. I prefer plastic, although seeing pictures of sea turtles with straws in their nostrils does make me very sad.

Steve ordered the beef carpaccio with arugula and cheese. Steve loves this type of dish. For some reason it gives me the creeps. I guess now he knows why I really don’t care to share it with him!

I ordered the eggplant parmigiana. I prefer it in a ramekin with tons of cheese on it.

Steve ordered the steak.

After a big discussion Steve ordered gelato for dessert. I wanted to skip it, but Steve wanted it, so I made a big deal that he should in fact order the gelato. It didn’t really taste that great after all, so he probably should have skipped it!

My plan was to get a dessert at Wegman’s on the way home. We stopped and did a tour. It is not as big as the Wegman’s near my Mother’s old place in DeWitt. We did buy some groceries, but no dessert unless you call the chocolate chip cookies dessert.

The next morning we woke up to pouring rain. We went to Moose’s Diner that was nearby and had no wait.

They didn’t have any French toast or waffles, so I ordered the eggs over medium. I was going to send the home fries back as they were warm and not hot. Instead I just didn’t eat them.

Steve had homefires, a biscuit and an omlette. I think there must have been spinach and mushrooms in the omelette.

Elliott had a Western omelette, biscuits and home fries. He was the last one to finish, he claimed that he spent a lot of time handling the biscuit. Either that or he is a slow eater.

Kanna ordered scrambled eggs, home fries and biscuits.

We departed shortly afterward for a long trip home. As usual we took the western way home via 81 and then 84. There was a rain storm all along the east coast, but our route took us west of the rain, so “It was all good”. Long but good!

Do you know J’s secret?

How many times do you do a room check, but not a kitchen check for your groceries that you bought the previous night or your ipad charger?

How many times a day do you think your wife is a nag and should leave you in peace?

Bonus Post-Communication Breakthrough!

This is for all those people (you know who you are) in fact you are most of the readership!

An easy way for you to reply to my blog post without going through word press and signing up all you need to do is to reply to the email directly.

Thank you to my new assistant Mr. Peter Mantle! He was tired of hearing me nag about not getting comments and thought it was too much trouble to go through the “likes” and going through multiple clicks to make a comment. He discovered that all one needs to do is to just to reply to the email!

Yay to Peter! Yay to Jane, who was busy washing my dirty dinner dishes while the rest of us sat around on our tight butts.

Speaking of tight butts, or not so tight butts, here is a picture that I took today at the flea market in Winchester.

I am looking forward to an influx of comments on my posts due to my cooperation from my loyal readers!

63rd Birthday trip to England starts tomorrow. Unless I don’t get any comments posted to this message!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guayaquil, Ecuador and then on Home. Saturday, January 28, 2017

We wake up, have breakfast and Steve says a quick goodbye to the iguana statue in the lobby of the hotel. Good thing we didn’t have room in the luggage or Steve would have brought it home! Although I would rather have him than a Moai!

Since this will be a short post, I thought that I would let you see pictures of our upgraded room at the Oro Verde hotel.

We got our room key and were directed to a different set of elevators then on our last visit here. We got a junior suite this time! The living room.

Half bath off the living room.

The bedroom. Unfortunately it was the same hard Ecuadorian bed!

Main bathroom sink area. Separate doors for bath and shower.

Lots of closet space, and lots of room to change in!

View of the living room from the bedroom. I was mucho pleased with the room!

In our hotel there was a lovely jewelry store. The only purchases that I made on the trip were a sunhat, my Pattagucci jacket and a woven top for our daughter S.

It’s early morning and not many people are out and about yet. This one way street is eight lanes across!

We drove past the massive mausoleums.

We saw this lady in the traditional dress of Ecuador. Notice the black hat. The airport was the only place that we saw people in traditional clothes. Her people are called Chola Cuencana. Please don’t ask me to pronounce that!

If you are planning a trip to The Galapagos, do it before 2020. A new airport is being built here in Guayaquil. The current airport is with in the city limits. It took us only 10 minutes to get to the airport from our hotel. The new airport is going to be an hour away!

We didn’t have a Dream Liner going back to the United States, so no magic ceiling color changes!

Not sure when we will be in South America again, I just hope that next time we won’t be this much under water!

Good-bye Guayaquil and the rest of South America!

A fun fact to know. Many Ecuadorians name their children after American Presidents. I already mentioned our new friend Washington in an earlier blog post. Our guide this morning to the airport was named Jefferson. Lorena, our guide from yesterday, told us that Phillips Magnesia is also a common name. Guess what name has become very popular for a baby name? Trump!

Hello airline breakfast.

Hello Panama!

Do you think that these boats are heading to the canal?

Hello Cuba!

Lunch on the plane, no cookies, no dessert!

Boats heading into they New York City Harbor.

Some big estates near Woodmere Country Club on Long Island. Dues are around $15,000 per year if you want to join. I have no idea what the initiation fee is. You are going to have to find out that information on your own. I can’t be expected to know everything, can I?

Once we got home we found out that the boiler in the house had stopped working on our trip. We were very lucky that the temperature in the house had only gotten down to 47 F, and the pipes didn’t freeze! The furnace was only a few years old! We called up the installer and they quickly came to fix it. Since then we have installed Nest thermostats in the house, that have wifi capability so we can always check the temperature. I can only hope that the wifi is connected to the generator so if the power goes out we can still find out the temperature. Unfortunately if the cable goes out due to a storm we are SOL!

The steam is from Steve making dinner. This is what happens when you boil water in a house that is 47 degrees F! The room has warmed up to 51 F now that the repair man came! We usually don’t leave the house in that shape when we leave for a trip! I hope that you enjoyed our first trip to South America!

Did you enjoy traveling to South America with us?

What is the lowest temperature your house has ever been?

Would you name your child Trump?

Bonus question: Do you expect me to know everything?

Galápagos Islands and then on to Guayaquil Ecuador. Friday January 27, 2017

We go up to the Dining room for breakfast and what do we see on the coveted table? Success! The staff reserved our table for us on our last day! Even Steve looks happy at my triumph!

The manager told me was going to talk to staff about dining room policies. We said it would be good if they had more round tables. These were the only chairs that were comfortable for Steve also. As Steve was so tall, he had problems fitting his knees under the tables!

It is amazing how little things make me happy! Chocolate on my pillow at a hotel and a reserved sign with my name on it at the best table in the house! I almost wanted to take the sign with us!

Last night we were all packed and sitting around reading in bed after dinner when we realized the air conditioner didn’t seem to be working properly. It would cool a little and then shut down after an hour. Then I would turn it back on. This happened all night long. Finally it stopped working at 4 a.m. It sure did get hot in that room! It was easy to wake up in the morning, we were tired of being hot!

Let’s hope we have better luck in Guayaquil tonight. Then we will be on an airplane and soon we will be home sweet home!

Orange shirt, blue hat was not happy that we had the outside table! She gave me quite the stink eye as she walked by.

Now you might wonder why we didn’t ask to get our room changed last night. We thought that they only had a number of rooms with working equipment. Mr. And Mrs. J were supposed to be in the casitas, but they had no TV or hot water for 24 hours and were then upgraded to a villa. I have no idea if our TV worked as we never turned it on!

On the way to the airport I noted two bags. When I was little I used to get gold nugget bubble gum. Tiny yellow guy pieces were packed in small draw string bags. I think that they contained coffee and were supposed to be given to us as gifts. We never got them, so maybe they were to be brought home to Mrs. Taxi Driver!

So now we have left the highlands and are heading toward the lowlands. Vegetation is getting more sparse, with the land more arid, although there is still some green.

The familiar islands in the distance.

The boats in the harbor where we will pick up the ferry to Baltra where the airport is. The main harbor is in Puerto Ayaro.

Steve is ready to start the trip home. I had checked out mentally a few days ago. We agreed to limit trips to no more than 21 days.

Off in the distance you can see the highland on Santa Cruz Island. This is where we stayed. Most of the lowlands is part of the national park.

Here are the remains of a building that used to be part of a United States Base during World War II.

It was very dry here. The bus had to stop many times on the way from the ferry to the airport for iguanas that were trying to cross the road.

These green things are the planting of prickly pear cacti.

It’s not a big airport.

Remember about how I was wondering if I had people that I might dislike on a cruise? At the airport today we met a gentleman who had just been on a cruise. He said they had several people on his cruise who were always late! That would drive me nuts, or at least a bit more nutty than I already am!

No red footed boobies for sale in the gift shop at the airport, but they did have penguins!

Our plane was delayed so every one got a snack as compensation.

It was strange to see 0 latitude!

Good-bye Galapagos. We are not sure if we will ever go on a cruise. Steve and I have both agreed that we have never been on a boat where we hadn’t wanted to disembark before they let us! Although Steve does enjoy being on his boat, I only like it when the weather is just right, not too hot, just the right breeze and low humidity.

Our flight path.

We did get another snack on the flight. Some of the people worried that as they had gotten one snack already they wouldn’t get the regular snack!

We saw this billboard at the airport. This will be our hotel for the night. We stayed here the night before we left to go to the Galapagos. Many of the flight crews stay here. Last time at breakfast the KLM air crew had a table reserved for them. I didn’t begrudge them as it was a table just like all the others, just reserved for them.

This statue is of Guayas, the ruler the city is named after.

Beyond the fence is the grave yard. As Guayaquil is at sea level and the river floods often the graves are in above ground mausoleums. They can be used four times, then you must pay again.

Here we are at the flower market. It is conveniently located next to the cemetery.

You can also get beautiful arrangements for a candle lit dinner party.

Ecuador is the number one place for rose growing. There are huge farms up on the slopes of the Andes where flowers are grown for export. The weather there is cool and misty. Labor is also very inexpensive. Although England is famous for its roses, it can’t beat long stemmed Ecuadorian roses.

Quinceanera parties, baptisms, first communions, you come here.

The roses that don’t qualify for export are sold here. Usually it is because they are a little too ripe for export. It was a good thing we didn’t get out of the car, I would have spent hours examining all the arrangements. Our guide Lorena told me that she takes guests on trips to the rose farms. She also takes people to banana plantations.

Here is a statue given to the city of Guayaquil by the French.

I’m not sure what she is doing up there, but she looks graceful!

There was a big fire during the turn of the 20th century. These buildings reflect the French influence.

This was a former chocolate trader’s house. The chocolate business was on the main floor and the family lived above. The French loved chocolate. There is much French influence in the architecture of the city.

University of the Arts.

This seal represents Ecuador. From the Andes to the sea.

Here is a statue of Guayas and his wife Quil. When his city was conquered, he killed his son, wife and himself to prevent capture by the Spaniards when his city was doomed. Guayaquil was named after both of them.

The clock tower on the Promenade. It has an Arabic Byzantine dome. A levee has been built to prevent flooding.

Una Via. One Way. Simple things like this make me so happy. That and no table hogging!

Here is the plaza in honor of Simon Bolivar. Bolivar and San Martin freed Ecuador from Spanish rule in the early 19th century.

The Cathedral for Guayaquil is in the background. It was modeled after Norte Dame. It seems the Ecuadorians liked the French better than the Spanish. Our guide Duncan in the Galápagos told me that the Ecuadorians think the accent of Spanish people is too harsh!

This is a banyan tree, it has interesting roots.

This park is famous for its iguanas.

It was almost like Jurassic Park.

Except with pigeons also!

Marching on the ground!

Or up in the trees!

Or even sleeping off a hangover!

Iguanas, pigeons, oh my! It was just the greatest!

There were vendors selling food for the pigeons and iguanas.

Of course there was a sign saying that it wasn’t permitted, but many people just seemed to ignore the prohibition.

You looking at me?

There were snapping turtles.

We were told the fish were tilapia. They looked like carp or koi.

This is Saint Narcissa, the first Saint of Ecuador. Her dress reminds me of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!

There was an earthquake in 2015. There was much damage to the altar and ceiling. Chile has lots of earthquakes, Ecuador not so many. As it was the first bad earthquake in 300 years, it was a pretty big deal.

Pope John Paul I asked Cardinal Ratzinger to visit Guayaquil in 1978. He later became Pope Benedict XVI.

The clock tower again from the other side.

This statue is made of teak. The promenade was built to prevent the river overflow and flooding of the city.

This is a yellow mango tree.

This is a yellow mango tree.

This tree had red mangos. They are called blood mangos!

Here was a heron that was in the tree.

This is Steve and Lorena, she had no trouble finding us in a crowd. She only had to look up. When he took the kids to Disney World our daughter said she never had problems finding us in a crowd as we were so much taller than many of the guests!

There was an amusement park at the other end of the promenade.

Lorena is telling Steve about the rubber trees. I’m still thinking about the Iguanas!

The statue to honor Bolivar and San Martin.

Everyone wanted to get their picture taken in front of the festive Guayaquil sign.

A view of the Andes across from the promenade.

The plaza was named in honor of Ecuador’s independence from Spain on October 9.

Another old chocolate house.

Off to the market where we can see many dollar stores. Many stores and much selection. Lorena had her eye on a beautiful white dress in the window. Steve may or may not have been looking at the brassieres.

Lots of people were wearing yellow jerseys to support the local soccer team that won the day before.

This store sold bras. I am sure that Steve’s eyes were looking elsewhere.

Next we shall drive to the colorful shanty town on the hill.

We could walk 300 steps up behind the wooden barrier. Let’s not and say we did!

The homes were given money for the outsides to be gaily painted.

We had some view of the city. There are 14 million people who live in Ecuador. Three million live in Guayaquil. There aren’t many high rises so the city is spread out. How many of you have heard of Guayaquil before my lessons ?

These people represent one of the 10 political parties who are vying in the coming election.

We invited our guide Lorena to have dinner with us. Her choice was Lo Nestro, which means “our thing” in Spanish. Most restaurants in South America don’t grow a crowd until after 8 pm.

We were early diners, the place was packed when we left. There were family graduation celebrations, with young graduates in formal gowns. Tourists like us too! It was the best restaurant in town.

At dinner Lorena told us if you sneeze three times in a row you wish for health, wealth and good luck. If you sneeze four times in a row, you are also wished good sex!

To go along with the bread we were given two spreads. A cheese spread was on the left and a spicy one on the right. The cheese spread looked like mayonnaise.

The bartender made me an Ecuadorian Pisco Sour. Traditionally only Peruvians, and Chileans drink Pisco Sours. So don’t be a fool like me and order a Pisco Sour in the wrong country!

A display of their specials.

I had the fried flounder and fettuccini with carbonara sauce. I didn’t think it was an Ecuadorian dish, but Lorena told me it was.

Steve had the spicy sea bass with garlicky linguini. You’d swear we were in an Italian restaurant. Steve said the fish was really tilapia.

At dinner we sat at the table on the right. The people sitting to the left were on our flight from the Galápagos. The photos and the memorabilia were from Julio Jaramillo Laurido. He was a famous Ecuadorian singer and was quite the ladies man. He fathered 40 children with 10 ladies. He must have been quite the crooner!

Here is a link to one of his songs from YouTube. https://youtu.be/3kvEKW6bSwI

No room for dessert but here was the cart on the way out of the restaurant.

Are you a table hog?

Would you have bought food for the Iguanas or Pigeons?

Do you believe all underwear should be white, black or nude?

Do you call the top part of women’s underwear bras or brassieres?

Seymour Norte and Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador Thursday January 26, 2017

We got to breakfast and saw that the covered outside table was once again reserved for the J Party. Did they arrange this when they checked in that they would get this table for all their meals?

We headed indoors, and one of the nice members of the group asked us if we wanted to sit outside as we hadn’t had breakfast there yet. So we did, and I thought better of some of the members of the J group. Later when the rest of the group got to the dining room, there were a few glares in my direction. So I have since decided to forgive the group, even after getting a stink eye from some of them. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and I do not wish digestive issues on them anymore! How magnanimous of me! It really was a lovely spot for breakfast.

After breakfast we walked to the bus stop where we would be picked up for our last full day in the Galapagos.

These are the castitas, where some of the J party stayed in. Two of the group ended up getting their rooms moved as they had no hot water in their room and were moved to one of the villas, like ours. I was not sure if they got the Presidential villa or not!

The professional pictures used a much better camera angle!

We loaded into the van and were off for another action packed day with Natalie, The J group and the rest of the gang on the Sea Finch! We had some new people on the cruise also. Today we hoped to see some sea lions, marine iguanas, on Seymour Norte (or North Seymour!), and in the afternoon go swimming on a beach on Santa Cruz.

Here is Steve in his spot on the boat. Bags on the right were tossed there the J foursome. They sat there maybe an hour on our seven hour trip. My bag is behind Steve. The cushions were very wet, so I sat on the bag most of the time.

I am all bundled up for another day in the Galapagos. Could you tell it was me? Many people had gloves on also to prevent sun damage. Having a shirt a couple of sizes too big, really helped in trying to create a breeze. I wore a buff that Steve uses bonefishing in the Bahamas. My shirt was one of Elliott’s .

We are off. The hatch in front is for the crew below who were working below making lunches and stuff. I was never sure how many crew there were. The guy working the Zodiac was wearing a hat, buff and glasses. I couldn’t tell if he was the man making our lunch! Were they the same person or not?

Steve is enjoying the view. He always has a good attitude when we are traveling. I would say with confidence that he would be an excellent companion if you were looking for a traveling partner. However you must tolerate your traveling companion going off fishing at times!

This is Mr. J. He did know about cameras, scuba diving and snorkeling. In fact, we learned about full face snorkeling masks through him and his wife. They were using them, and they worked well. We ended up buying them for our trip to the Maldives in January 2018. If you want to, you can reread those blog posts. Or not.

Now even though I have forgiven them, I still get to report on their behavior on the trip!

Looks like I could still get a sunburn on the bridge of my nose and the v of my neck. I had Sally’s Go-Pro on. We won’t know until I get back if I got any good video. I think the device would be really good for skiing and riding down hill on a dirt bike. Possibly fishing, but your would probably have a lot of wasted film. It’s kind of hard to remember to turn it on if you have a fish on.

It is two years after this trip and we have still not reviewed our Go-Pro video. That is a terrible turn around time!

Here are two blue footed boobies. We never got to see any of the red footed ones. A disadvantage of doing the land based tours is that you only get to a few of the islands. We were unable to see penguins, red footed boobies, and the flightless cormorants. There are two loops for the sea based tours also, so even if you were to go for a week, you might see only half the islands!

We did see a swallow tail gull. It is the only nocturnal gull.

Another blue footed booby! People just love saying booby! Especially our guide, Nadine who sounded like Inspector Clouseau. Our guide Lorena, from Guayaquil, told us when Hooter’s opened, they were offering the waitresses $1000 to get breast implants.

Here is the famous frigate bird with his red breast all puffed out, trying to attract the female sitting next to him in the tree.

Here we see two frigate birds sitting in a tree. No, they are not k-i-s-s-i-n-g! The bird on the left is the male, “pooch”, and the all black female is on the right. The frigate bird is also called the pirate bird as they steal food from other birds mid flight!

Here is a land iguana sitting in the shade of the prickly pear cactus. Can you find him? It was very hot on our excursions. Island excursions for those staying in boats, usually went out 8-10 am and then 4-6 pm. Those that stayed at hotels and then went out on boats were on the islands from 10-2 pm. This was the hottest part of the day. During this time boat based excursions would rest or snorkel and swim.

Here is a land iguana. The sea iguana can stay under water for over an hour!

Can you see the birds in the nest?

A better view.

This is a dead bird. Unfortunately they don’t all survive. Survival of the fittest.

Another land iguana. Not as yellow as the one I had shown you previously.

These are abandoned nests of the boobies. The white rings are guano (poop). The boobies were done nesting.

Two frigate chicks in the nest.

Again, the closeup. The bird on the left is older than the bird on the right.

Here is a video of the frigate birds flying and soaring around. At times you could see the red pouch filled with air. Or as Natalie would say “pooch”! She told us that sometimes the birds can even sleep when they fly!

Another blue footed booby. Below, is a picture taken by a professional with a better lens.

We will have to come back and see the other islands and the animals that we missed. We would have to do a cruise, and get the transdermal patch to prevent sea sickness. However what will I do if I am surrounded by people on the boat that annoy me? I just have to blog about them!

The rock on the left looked like a popular spot for birds to poop on. It was interesting to see how the powerful surf both flattened and stacked the rocks!

The water was a gorgeous blue. The island on the right is called Gordon Rocks. We thought it was Gordon Ricks due to Natalie’s accent. It is a favorite scuba diving spot. The diving here is supposed to be good, but very expensive. As Steve and I don’t dive I couldn’t tell you if this is true.

Another dead bird carcass. This one was picked clean.

The brown blob center top is a sea lion!

Here is the Alpha Sea Lion patrolling the beach. He is looking out for sharks who might want to eat the sea lion pups.

The alpha male, sea lion!

Can you spy the iguana?

There he is!

One last shot of a sea lion frolicking near our approaching Zodiac. You might wonder why he has a white belly. I thought that it blended in with the guano on the rocks. Steve says it is to blend in with the sky when you look at them from below in the water. I think Steve is correct. He sometimes is, you know!

You can see orange shirt in my picture. I should have cropped her out, but I have more fun making nasty comments about her, trying to hog into my life!

Great crashing surf. We had trouble landing due to the surge. One elderly gentleman on our group had difficulty getting in and out of the boat so he didn’t go on our afternoon expedition to the beach.

Long whiskers, little ears, strong flippers and muscular bodies on the sea lion. Hmm. Reminds me of Steve when he had his beard! Except Steve has body appropriately sized arms and hands!

The snorkeling group was ready for their adventure. Nadine in the bikini has an amazing body. You could have one too if you snorkeled, swam and hiked every day! That, and genetics also. The man on the left was wearing a bathing suit, it was just riding low! Mrs. J was wearing a pink hat, and Mr. J had on a tan hat and a snorkel shirt.

You can see one snorkeler here, the rest were in the area. The Zodiac boat would stay close, you only had to signal and the driver would come and get you. This time I elected to stay on the boat and out of the sun. I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman who teaches reading for people with dyslexia. He was brought on an all expensive paid trip here to teach a young boy whose parents run a tented eco lodge on Santa Cruz Island.

Lunch was a buffet. Chicken, rice, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and I think apple slices. Sometimes they tasted like apples, and sometimes not. It was amazing how much of an appetite we worked up hiking in the sun. The hikes were about 90 minutes, with plenty of stops to admire the wild life. Just no shade! No parasols or selfie sticks are allowed in the parks of the Galápagos.

Carrot cake for dessert.

We have now taken the Zodiac and landed at on Santa Cruz Island. We will take a hike and then go for a swim at Las Bachas Beach.

This is called a wet landing because you do get wet!

Here is Nadine holding an empty carcass of a Sally Lightfoot Crab that had discarded its old shell. You can see the human body on the right that also needs some shedding.

In this area, sea turtles lay their eggs. We didn’t see any sea turtles on land today.

The vertical lines near the shrubbery are iguana tail prints.

A sea turtle swimming.

This is a marine iguana. You can tell the difference because this guy has spines on his back.

This is a brackish pond. There is a pink flamingo in the back, but he was hard to see. There was only one at the pond today.

The iguanas were so much fun to watch!

Some of the marine iguanas and land iguana mate on Santa Clara Island. However the offspring die before they reach sexual maturity. We did not go to Santa Clara.

Aren’t we cuties? The people from the hotel that I dislike were going on a one week catamaran cruise with 16 people and then a 2 week tour of Peru. Not sure if I could travel for a month with anyone. I tolerate Steve but then we have been going out for 40 years. The anniversary of our first date is February 5. We went to see Family Plot, an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I can tell you that I wore jeans and a Huk-A-Poo shirt as that is all that I wore back then. Plus my brown shit kicker boots.

Here is the group swimming in the ocean and an incoming frigate bird. Would you believe that no one on our trip was pooped on by a bird?

Steve keeping his glasses on and his head above water. He said that there were very strong currents. I sat on the beach in water up to my waist, until a big wave came. I think that I brought many small shells in my bathing suit back to our room, but not on purpose! I was very good and didn’t remove any rocks or shells from The Galápagos Islands!

We are heading back to the Zodiac, and then to the Sea Finch where we will disembark and take the van back to the Royal Palm.

Here is where a lot of cargo is transferred to Santa Cruz Island. Food is vey expensive on the island. Recently there was a change in contracts of the cargo handlers to friends of the government. Prices have skyrocketed. The elections are coming in two weeks. All of the Ecuadorians that we talked to are very unhappy with the present government. They have been in power for the past twelve years. A lot of contracts go to friends of the government. A lot of the oil money has disappeared. People are also unhappy that the Chinese have bought many mines.

Our last sunset.

We had fish again.

Dinner was inside again as the veranda table was reserved by the J party. Not only was the circular table reserved, but the picnic table next to it was occupied by the group! I got pretty steamed by then. Why was the table reserved for them from 6:30, as they didn’t eat until 8:30? Couldn’t they just reserve it for 8:30, and others could use it earlier?

We thought we weren’t going to see stars tonight as it was partly cloudy earlier. However the clouds lifted and we got to see some stars. We had gone in earlier, so they weren’t as bright as last night’s.

Do you use pictures on your Christmas cards?

Do you need to shed some pounds?

Does your bathing suit accidentally fall off on purpose?

Bonus Question: Have you ever been pooped on by a bird?

Super Bonus Question: Would you take Hooter’s up on their offer to increase your breast size? Why or why not? Please limit your answer to 250 words.

Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador Wednesday January 25, 2017

Today we were going to spend the day with Duncan, our guide who took us to visit the Darwin Museum and the fish cleaning on the docks. See that building in the middle of the picture? That is Picaya, a new luxury resort for those people who want to stay on land. We weren’t given the option of staying there on our trip. I wish we would have as they have their very own super deluxe yacht for their guests. I have looked up their price point since, and it is very high. Oh well. If you want a review, I suggest you head to TheGoodTheBadandtheLuxurious.com. It is a fantastic blog about luxury hotels. As we did not bring enough water with us for our walks we stopped off at the little mini mart for water. Only 60 cents for a bottle of water! Yay, my Ecuadorian grocery store! Another notch on my belt!

We drove further into the highlands to see some coffee trees.


Come along for the walk up the hill to enjoy the vista.

I forgot that I wanted a panoramic shot, but this will do.

We went back down the hill and got in the van, and saw this guy crossing the road. As he wasn’t a chicken, I didn’t bother asking him why he was crossing the road!

They were big, this one was shy.

Here is Duncan, you can compare the size of hunky man and tortoise!

This was another one down the road. He was pretty curious.

We went to see a crater, but thankfully only looked into it!

Here is a blooming prickly pear. See the yellow flowers?

These two trees are unusual to see growing near each other. The prickly pear on the left usually grows in the desert. The tree on the left generally only in the Highlands.

We went to the beach to do some sea kayaking. Let’s just say that we did it once, so I never had to do it again. It was a most unpleasant experience. My hips don’t like to be in a sea kayak. I was in a lot of pain and Steve had to paddle most of the time. We did see a few birds. From now on if sea kayaking is suggested we just say “No!”

Steve and I came back to the Royal Palm Hotel RoyalPalmGalapagos.com for lunch. Steve is trying to give me goo goo eyes because he knows I am all set to go off on a toot.

And lookie here. This is the alpha female of the foursome that hogs all the best spots. She came back from her morning’s adventures and is back, on the one table on the veranda. They sit here all breakfast, are here for lunch, and they will claim it again this afternoon to discuss the next day’s events, and then eventually order dinner. They were on the boat yesterday and one of the group gets on the boat first and nails the prime spots on the prow of the boat. Last night I asked the waiter if we could reserve the table for dinner tonight. This is why we usually don’t go on group tours. I am extremely sensitive to other people’s behaviors. My behavior of course, is exemplary. (Well, maybe not all the time!)

Steve and I only take less than an hour for dinner. What would have been nice, is if every group took turns sitting at the table. There were only six of us staying at the hotel at the time. So, it was quite annoying that they were able to sit at the table outside all the time. They could have sat at the table while planning the next day’s events, then had cocktails around the pool while we had our dinner at the table , and then they could have returned to the table for their dinner. But NO, it didn’t work out that way!

This was the lunch we had back at the hotel before our afternoon adventures. That hamburger has some seriously gloppy cheese on it!

Hmm, I wonder what foursome had their belonging strewn all over the chairs, but were no where in sight?

Lava Tunnel picture from the hotel website.

I took this picture. Our adventure of the day continued with explorations of a lava tunnel on the grounds of the Royal Palm. The former owner was said to have stored either his wine, or mozzarella cheese or both. I wasn’t sure what the real story was.

There were helmets and flashlights waiting for us in the bag.

Here we are, all helmeted up and ready to go! Steve always looks like the camera lens is off in the distance behind the camera. I, on the other hand am always ready for my close up!

This is a lava tunnel. It formed over 1 million years ago when a lava flow crusted over and hot lava continued to flow under the crust which is 2-3 feet thick. This tunnel has a nice path made by the hotel. Much easier going that’s the tunnel on Easter Island.

Here is a picture of what is called coral lava. It is not made from coral, it just looks like coral.

Here we see an upper and lower portion of the lava tunnel.

These are not stalactites, just lava that dripped and cooled as it hardened.

Here we are near the end of the lava tunnel. It was a much more pleasant trip than the Easter Island Lava Tunnel!

Up the ladder and on toward day light.

Next we are going to visit Ranch El Manzanillo, a coffee farm that has Galapagos Giant Tortoises on it! I call that a Double Play! Perhaps we might be able to make it a Triple instead! You can see the red coffee beans. They are all picked by hand. It is quite labor intensive.

We then drove off in search of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Did you know that the word Galapagos derives from the Spanish word for Tortoise?

The back feet are more stocky, and the front feet more flexible.

This is tortoise dung. You did want to see it, didn’t you?

It’s pretty big!

Tortoises can’t swim but they can float. They love to cool off in the water.

This tortoise is not very old. You can compare his size to Duncan’s leg.

They eat a lot of grass.

They bend the front leg over when they walk.

Sneaking up on a Galapagos Tortoise. Duncan knows just the shots to take!

In captivity a full grown Galapagos Tortoise can weigh up to 900 pounds! In the wild they are 500-600 pounds. It is said that they can live up to 200 years, but some of the data is anecdotal.

This guy is walking in shallow water. You can tell the female from the male tortoise as the female’s shell is muddier and scratched from wild Tortoise sex. No, we didn’t get to see any tortoise copulating!

Here you see a little video of the Galapagos Tortoise. Enjoy!

The Dashing Duncan Devine brought us to see Sr. Guerrero and his sugar cane distillery and coffee farm.

Here is Sr. Guerrero showing us where the sugar cane is crushed to make rum.

The sugar cane goes into the machine and out comes the juice into a metal bowl. The donkey that normally turn the wheel was not available so Steve and Duncan acted as he-men to push the wooden poles around. I got to try and feed the cane while Steve and Duncan pushed. I then tried to push while Steve fed the cane into the machine but it ended up “seizing up” and nothing happen. Steve’s family has stories about machines “seizing up”, I will likely have a chapter in my book about that!

The cane juice is put through a strainer.

It’s mixed with fresh ice and is ready to drink. The juice looked clear at first, but was a cloudy green when it was mixed with the ice.

This is Sra Guerrero with Sr. Guerrero.

We also got to try the sugar cane booze straight up. It was 60% alcohol or 120 proof. Steve says it’s called rum, not sugar cane booze.

Some of the rum cut with the sugar cane juice. It was refreshing, but packed a wallop!

The juice from the sugar cane is boiled down to a molasses.

Then it goes into the silver still.

And then into the wooden barrel. Salud!

We also got to see how coffee was roasted. Enough about how adventure, let’s go back to the Royal Palm.

We had a beautiful sunset again!

The hotels signature drink, called the Bachelor’s Delight. I told them I was renaming it the “Happily Married Woman’s Delight”!

So since the ugly American table hogs went to dinner in town, we got to sit at the outside table. Yay! You can see the tables in the background where they could have sat and done their planning for the next day. I am doing the crazy happiness pose for Steve. Since our stay the hotel has added more tables for people to sit at, and comfortable chairs to hang out on. I had suggested this when we checked out of the hotel.

The snapper we had for dinner was excellent. Too bad only the vegetables look good!

On the way back to our room we looked at the stars and saw Mars, Venus and Uranus! I would call the day a home run, we saw Galapagos Giant Tortoises wandering about, visited a coffee plantation, saw how rum was made and scored the coveted outside table!

Why can’t we all be friends?

Have you ever seen Galapagos Tortoises having sex?

Do you call it rum or sugar cane booze?

Do you have a cave to store wine and cheese in your back yard?

Galapagos, Ecuador Tuesday January 24, 2017

The flowers are gorgeous here. We said goodbye at breakfast to the lovely Cecilia and her husband Washington. Did you know that it is very popular in Ecuador to name your children after famous American Presidents ? Yes, indeed, there are many Washingtons, Lincolns, and in fact Donald Trump was so popular that the naming registry put a halt to naming your son after our current President! Presidential names were not the only popular names, in fact Milk of Magnesia was also a common name! I kid you not!

Today we are going on an excursion to South Plaza Island. We were met by a bus that brought us to the pier where we had been dropped by the ferry yesterday. Our yacht was called the Sea Finch. It had an air conditioned room that you could sit in, and or lay out on the front deck area. There were a limited number of seats where you could stretch your feet out. I nabbed one. Steve got the bench. We had lunch in the air conditioned area. There was also a bathroom and changing area on the boat. We approached Plaza Island and were met by many sea lions. The red creature on the left is a Sally Light Food Crab. The guy on the right is a sea lion. But you already knew that!

This is a picture of Nadine, our guide. She was from France and often times sounded like Inspector Clouseau.

Nadine is telling us about seals in this videoclip.

This is a blue footed booby on the cliff. I better get a better picture of one for this trip. In case I don’t get a better picture here is a professional one. I should probably just tell you the names of the animals and have you look them up. You won’t even need to read my blog then!

These are cacti, the land iguanas eat them for food. I feel bad for this guy. He wore a black shirt, black pants, and has very dark hair. My hair is very dark, I call it the color of bittersweet chocolate. If I don’t wear a hat in the sun, my head heats up lickety split.

Here is an iguana. Here is a dead iguana. We finally turned around to head back to the Sea Finch. I don’t think that the altitude app on my iPhone works worth a ding dang. Steve says they do have a big margin of error! We saw this yacht on the way in to the dock in Puerto Ayora. Oftentimes the town is mistakenly called Santa Cruz, but that is the name of the island.

Here I am with Sally’s Go pro on my head. I will be lucky if any of the pictures turn out. Steve thinks that I look like a member of the Borg Collective from Star Trek-The Next Generation. Steve ended up going snorkeling. I didn’t as I can’t see well enough without my glasses on, and Nadine, our guide, said that you couldn’t wear glasses and a snorkel mask. No pictures of Steve and the group snorkeling, although I went out on the Zodiac with them, and I was afraid that I would drop my phone in the water! Here is a picture of me in front of a fruit shop. I am hot and bedraggled. I am going to count this as a visit to a grocery store if we don’t visit on on Friday when we go back to Guayaquil. Otherwise I am going to have to give up my streak of visiting a grocery store in every state or country that we go to!This is a lovely view of the pool and the restaurant where we had our breakfasts and dinners.

After watching the sunset at the hotel we had dinner. No pictures of food tonight, I am tired of being away, and just want to sleep in my own house and do laundry again.

Have you ever been to The Galapagos?

Do you think that you will return in your next life as a Blue Footed Booby?

Do you speak with a French accent?

Bonus question! Would you rather name your child Trump or Milk of Magnesia?

Guayaquil, Ecuador to Galapagos, Ecuador Monday January 23, 2017

This was the breakfast buffet at the hotel. They actually had a roast turkey, if you wanted to eat something heavy in the morning. I sure didn’t!

What I did like the best was the display of breads. This hotel was the preferred hotel for one of the airlines. There was a hotel table reserved for the flight crew. When we went through the sliding doors to exit the terminal last night our guide told us to hurry to the awaiting car. It turns out there were lots of flying insects. This morning while waiting at the gate to get on our plane to the Galapagos a man next to me started to jump up and down like crazy, and look down on the floor. I asked him if he had dropped anything. “No, there was something in my pants!” I looked on the ground and saw one of these crickets on the ground. Looks like the cricket got through security! This the flight path to Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands from Guayaquil. Baltra Island is also know as South Seymour.

This is our snack on the flight.

These appear to be dried banana chips. I didn’t have a window seat so I asked my seat mate if I could use some of her pictures from her phone. Here is another one of the islands. I don’t know the names of them.We have landed!

This is a map of the Galápagos Islands. We are doing a land based adventure as we have no desire to be trapped on a boat with people that we won’t like. Don’t try to click on any of the islands as there are no direct links. We will be staying on Santa Cruz Island and taking some day trips. We will only be able to go to few of the islands that are close to Santa Cruz. For the people that stay on catamarans or the larger boats you have a choice of which island groups you want to see. The stops on the islands are heavily regulated by the government, no spontaneous stops allowed!. Steve is off to the terminal. Here the dogs were sniffing for taboo items. Like drugs! The mad scrum for luggage after the dogs were done checking for illegal substances. Then we got ready to board the bus.After we paid our processing fee of $100 cash to enter the Galapagos, and got our luggage we boarded the bus. No, that is not El Chapo behind us! You can tell that we have real teeth and not implants as our teeth are not optic white and large. Did you know that some people do get implants that are just a wee bit irregular so that they look more natural? True!

The bus took us to a ferry that was taking us to the island that our hotel was on.

To another bus that would take us to our hotel -The Royal Palm. Steve and I both suffer from seasickness so we didn’t want to go on a cruise. Plus, I get a little claustrophobic and being trapped on a boat for a number of days was not too exciting an idea to me. I figure if I am on land, I can always walk around the property, even though I can’t leave the islands until it is time for our next flight.

Here are containers at the ferry dock watching to be brought to town. On our way to the hotel I noticed a long line of vehicles. They were a combination of busses, taxis, and delivery vehicles waiting for the next ferry from the airport to arrive.Here is the view from the back of the bus of the airport way in the distance on another island. The white speck is the airport. Where we were located on the island they get a lot of rain.There are several areas in the Galapagos where it is desert like. Our hotel was in the highland area of Santa Cruz. Most people who visit the Galapagos take cruises of the islands. Either big boats of about 90 people, or catamarans of under 20 passengers. The Royal Palm would be our stay for the next few days. It was considered a five star resort when it was first built. Would it remain so? Stick around and you can make your own judgement. A picture of the reception area from the hotel’s website. We were given glasses of refreshing juice at check in. There were bowls of sea sickness pills in quite a few areas of the resort. This is a map of the grounds. We would be staying in villa 4. The resort had a beautiful pool. There was a tennis court for those that wanted to play a few sets while on vacation. We were staying in a Highland Villa. The outside of our villa. I think our villa was the furthest from the main dining area and pool. I didn’t like the walk at all. I am indeed lazy. Let’s go in, shall we. This was the view of the room as you walked in. Living room before you, and an enclosed porch beyond that. Another view of the villa. The main entrance was the door on the left. Although there was a fireplace, I don’t know if you would ever need it. Our bedroom was through the bifold doors. The bed was very attractive. There were plenty of outlets next to the bed. One thing I noticed about Ecuador is that the beds are very hard!

This is the bathroom. The shower was the door to the back left. They had plenty of bottles of water. We could not use the tap water to drink, or brush our teeth. You needed to use bottled water. The enclosed porch was very strange. There was a deep soaking tub. The chairs encouraged a view, but it was just of the grounds. You really couldn’t see the ocean in the distance. The room was very hot, there was no air conditioning in this room at all.

We were met at 3 by a taxi to take us to the Darwin Center in Puerto Ayaro. It took us about twenty minutes to get into town. It took us about 30 minutes to take us to the ferry to the island where the airport was.

This tortoise is called Diego. He is about 130 years old! Diego is an Española tortoise. He is from the San Diego zoo. It did take me a bit to figure that out why he is called Diego. I am only smart on certain days. He has had about 1700 offspring! They are hoping to release him into the wild in the next few years.