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?

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?

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?

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. This is a land iguana. He is orange as it is breeding season.

I got pretty hot outside so we went into the visitor center. Here is Steve and our guide. This picture of Darwin was made from …Stamps!

Look at the size of this tortoise shell! These are the three types of tortoises. Saddleback, dome shaped, and intermediate. The tortoises from the Galapagos are the largest in the world. The males can weigh as much as 900 pounds. They are the longest living of all vertebrates (animals with backbones).

After we cooled off a bit our guide asked us if we would like to see the fisherman cleaning the day’s catch in town. Birds were flying all over to catch the scraps!

It was fun to watch them fight over the pieces of fish guts. Just click on the arrow!

A sea lion showed up to join the party and even an iguana!

Here is more video. It was fun to watch until a few of the pelicans got pieces of fish get caught in their throats the wrong way down their throats. Then they would hack and try to barf up the fish carcasses. Sometimes the birds die as they choke to death because the pieces of fish are too big and they get stuck.

Back to the hotel for a drink. Sunset is always a good time for a Pisco Sour! They had a fire going in the restaurant although it was really hot!

On the bus to our hotel this morning we met a lovely couple and asked if they wanted to join us for dinner. Of course, they said yes! They live in Quito Ecuador. Unfortunately Quito is at an elevation of 9450 feet and they live on the 14th floor of their building so we won’t be able to check out the views in her apartment. I don’t tolerate high altitudes at all. Although she and her dashing husband Washington have an apartment in Miami. I may have to meet her there. I will tell you tomorrow why her husband is called Washington. Good night everyone!

Are you a vertebrate?

Do you have implants? Teeth or Breast?

Do you refuse to stay in a room without air conditioning?

Easter Island, Chile Thursday January 19, 2017

Good morning from Easter Island!

Before we eat anything, let’s take a look at the kitchen. Here is the display of all the fresh juices and fruits available at breakfast.

There are many seats to choose from. We will have our dinners and lunches here also.

Steve appears to look a little worried. I would be also if I was married to myself!

Ah, nothing to worry about, his beautiful omelette has arrived!

The red marker shows you where our hotel is located. Orongo is the crater and the little island south west of it is Moto Nui, where part of the Bird Man ceremony occurred. Ahu Tahai is the restored ceremonial site. The quarry or Rano Raraku is located in the eastern part of the island. Near there is Ahu Tongariki, where the 15 Moai are located.

Here is a topographic map. The green areas are all National Parks.

I have left off at the three stages of of cultural development of Easter Island. Most scientists think that the first peoples arrived in the eastern Polynesian triangle from some point west of here around 800-1100. The eastern Polynesian triangle consists of Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand. The first people to settle Polynesia left 3000 years ago from Taiwan, then spread to the Philippines, then Micronesia then East to Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and other islands. Oral history tell us that a group of seven explorers were the first to arrive to Rapa Nui.

The men saw the land was a good place to live and returned with women. Great stone Moai were carved which transferred mana, the spiritual power of their ancestors. Below the Moai, the bones of revered ancestors were buried. Moai were erected facing the town, and eyes were installed last, to guide and protect the people. Only when the eyes were inserted could the Moai’s mana protect the people.

Later when the European sailors arrived they spread disease. The first European on Easter Island landed on Easter Sunday in 1722, hence the name Easter Island. Europeans all wanted to see the Moai. Then slavers from Peru carried off a large portion of the population. The Rapa Nui people felt that they were no longer being protected by the ancestors. So the Moai were destroyed.

Our first stop of the day was the Hana Roa lookout. We had a great view of town and the freighters carrying cargo that were out at sea.

Our next stop was Orongo, the ceremonial village for the Bird Man challenges.

A yearly bird migration flew to a small rocky island off the south eastern tip of Rapa Nui. During the 16th and 17th centuries the carving of the Moai was abandoned and the Bird-man competition began. Thus began the second stage of development on the Island.

A competition was held to be the first man to return with an egg from the island. The very first competition elected the king, we have heard from our different guides that there was a new king every year or that the subsequent completions were for pride. Notice on the head of the warrior an egg holder. These guys look like our modern day hipsters with man buns.

Here is a picture of the island, Moto Nui, that the participants from all over the island would swim to. It was believed that the ancestors chose who would win the contest by giving that warrior extra strength and the Manutara (Sooty Tern) would lay an egg nearest the divine choice. The participants would stay for days or weeks waiting for the first egg. The last competition was in 1867.

Here is Lilli, our guide for the morning. She was the female winner of the Koro Nui Tupena festival in 2012. This sporting and cultural event was introduced to establish a bond between the young and the ancestral traditions, It gives tourists a chance to witness what Rapa Nui rituals and competitions were like before the colonization period. We will have to comeback another year for that! We saw many young people out running in preparation for the coming festival in February.

We walked to the ceremonial village. There was a gigantic Moai here that was removed and presented to Queen Victoria and is in the British Museum.

This house is opened to show tourists what the homes looked like inside. Very dark and confined inside, but the people only slept in their houses.

Over time the petroglyphs in the homes have been damaged or removed.

Most of the stones for the walls were very thin. They were from a special kind of basalt. Other stones used in different buildings or platforms for the Moai statues are different types of rock.

This was a short walk morning.

A closeup of the islet. This is where we would have done native style rock fishing if the wind had allowed.

The island has a wet and dry season. we are at the tail end of the wet season. it rained every day, but not at every place we were on the island.

At last we arrive at the crater. The crater was 600 feet deep filled with water 30 feet deep. With a mat of reeds floating on it. In some places it was said that the mat was so thick cattle could stand on it without sinking.

It was a long way down. The crater was 1.6 Km wide.

There was an option of hiking up to the crater. Only 5.4 miles one way with an ascent of 896 feet. We opted for the van ride!

Crazy pose!

Here is Lilli, Beauty was not the only reason she won the contest in 2012. She said that she is a great dancer also.

On the road to the crater was this house with signs on it. I asked Lilli about it.

In previous years the Chilean government collected all the visitor fees. This made the Rapa Nui people very unhappy and they barricaded all the parks. This naturally was very bad for tourism.

Those hotels who had guides from Rapa Nui could enter the parks. The strike was settled and all monies collected to visit the parks now do not go to Chile, but to the Rapa Nui people. I’m sure Chile taxes the airlines and collects its money one way or another.

All our guides were of Rapa Nui ancestry.

On the way back to the hotel we see the business of the richest man on the island. He has a business of renting cars, ATV’s, motorcycles and other types of bikes!

We pass by a farmer who is selling pineapples off the back of his truck. There are no stop lights or street signs on the island. It makes it difficult for those visiting the island to know where to go or where they are!

Here we see a freighter parked at sea. There is no large wharf so smaller ships must bring back the cargo to town. It can take many days to unload a ship. Those black dots are people surfing!

There was a bit of a traffic jam in town. Streets were very narrow, and the drivers were crazy. I observed much sign language among drivers!

Here are the boats the fishermen would go out to sea and fish from. We were hoping to do some ancestral fishing but the wind was too strong. After seeing them I was happy that we couldn’t go. That would be very dangerous with any type of chop in the water. The fishing was with hooks, line and rocks. Bait was pieces of chicken. This is the same method as the drop-shot that Steve has such good luck in Lake George. However Steve uses artificial bait.

Lots of different businesses in town, these guys offered tours. There is no standard for being a guide, so if you didn’t stay at a reputable place you might end up with a guide spouting nonsense, All the guides from Explora had several months training and supervision. All our groups were to have a maximum of eight travelers. Steve and I were often the only ones on our outings.

Here is the Catholic Church. Priests who arrived from Europe were able to convert most of the people to Catholicism. Offering schools, hospitals and food, they filled the needs of the people. The population had decreased to around 110 people! Now there are about 7000 people of whom 3000 are Rapa Nui.

This is someone’s Christmas tree!

More free range or town horses.

The countryside is so green. They even grew big puddles with all the rain!

Here is one of the many cows that we saw on our travels on the island. Many were still nursing their newborn calves and often many of the teats would be engorged with milk. It looked painful.

In the afternoon we are heading in this direction to see the 15 (15 Moai on a platform) and then walk along the cliffs to a beach. I hope it stops raining by then and our walk is a stroll and not a hike!

But first, we see some kind of pit and a fire back at Explora. We heard that there was to be a special dinner tonight…

Carrot soup for lunch. Black and white sesame seeds as a garnish.

I had the lamb chops.

Steve had fish.

Who can resist chocolate guava cake? I couldn’t.

Steve’s and my leis were looking uglier and uglier as the days progressed. I threw them out after I took this picture.

In the van with us this afternoon are two new incoming guests. They are S and G from British Columbia. I take an immediate dislike to them as they look like real hikers. They have serious hiking boots on, we have just sneakers with us as we have a weight limit on our trip to the Galapagos. Yes, we could have worn hiking boots, but then where would the other shoes go?

We jump in the van and head off to see Tongariki, the collection of 15 Moai.

We pass by the house of Mr. Richest Man on the island. You will remember that I had mentioned earlier in this post that he has the largest rental car dealership on the island; 100 vehicles!

We saw lot of horses that were laying on the ground. We were told that since the horses were free to roam all over the island they frequently ate plants that would make them sick, and then die.

Our trip often took us along the coast where we had great views.

On our way we pass the quarry, Rano Raraku. I hope you remember that there were over 450 Moai in different conditions here. No where near that number were in good shape. Some were probably used for practice or experimentation.

This is a popular place!

Why don’t my pictures look like the professionals’ ?

Anu Tonariki is the platform with 15 intact moai. Behind the platform is what is called a crematorium. It is the resting place for the bones of revered ancestors. A group of German archeologists paid to have the moai erected. In 1960 a tsunami knocked the Moai 100 meters inland! They were re-erected on the platform, which the tsunami did not move.

Remember all of the erect Moai are a reconstruction. Only those at the quarry remained erect, as they held no mana in them and therefore hold no power or value.

Here is Natalie, our guide. She is telling Steve the stories. In front of us is a Moai. You can see the serious hiking boots of our fellow guest. This Moai is quite eroded.

It is all so dramatic!

The 15 are all different.

Only one had the Pukao or top knot. It was formed from a different stone than the rest of the Moai, and represented long hair dyed red and styled into a big bun. Only men with powerful mana were allowed to wear their hair this way.

The archeologists can generally tell which Moai are older by the characteristics of the Moai. The early Moai were all different. They later became more stylized with the ski jump nose exaggerated jaw and elongated ears.

Notice how they are all different. This platform was used by two neighboring tribes that got together and said let’s make something special! Now what I hadn’t realized before, was that over the years the Maoi were constantly knocked down and new ones were erected. These two tribes designed the platform to hold many moai.

Here is the back side view. The lady with the red hair was not from our group.. She was concerned about the rising of the worlds sea levels and that the Moai would be soon under water.

Some old Moai that had been destroyed.

Here you can see the cement line where the Moai on the right was put back together again after it was damaged by the Tsunami.

This guy was one of my favorites!

The closer I am, the better he looks!

Here is Sharon. She was really into the lighting and her husband had a serious camera. Most of my pictures had to be brightened as it was so difficult to see the details of the Moai.

We started our walk along the cliffs. Here is a piece of obsidian that Natalia found. It is illegal to take any rocks from the park.

Our hike begins.

Here is a sick horse. He ate lupine. He shouldn’t have. He will get sicker, drink sea water and then eventually die. We saw two recent victims on our hike.

The walk went on for a long time. I think we started just below those three hills on the left of the picture.

We gathered here to look at something, I have no idea what it was!

Natalia kept on leading us onward.

We arrived at a rock called Te Pito Kura. It is believed that the high iron content in the rock makes compasses go crazy. The four small stones mark the points of the compass. Rumors are that touching it increases fertility. I’m to old for it to do any good.

I was never so happy to see our van! Our short easy hike was actually 3.6 miles! We hopped on the van for a short drive to Anakena Beach.

At Anakena Beach were a group of seven Moai, called Ahu Nao, Nao, not to be confused with Ahu Akivi or The Seven, that we will see tomorrow! You can see that two of the Moai have deteriorated.

Those with heads have the top knots.

This is Anakena beach. It is the only beach on the island. Although we hiked all afternoon with our bathing suits under our clothes, we didn’t have time to take a dip in the ocean. We had to hurry back for the special dinner.

Steps for the day were 13367! We will now head back to the van and go back to Explora. Natalia is really cheating here. She has a flower in her right ear signifying that she is single. She has a husband, so I was teasing her that she was actually doing a “Lemme, lemme, upgrade!”

The pit where the special feast was cooked.

Dinner’s ready!

Taro, sweet potato and chicken. This taro must have been mixed with banana as it tasted like banana!

We had a dance performance. With many costume changes!

Let’s watch a video our talented dancer, shall we?

I teased Steve about what would happen if her knot got loose!

At the regular dinner which was next I had invited ourselves to dine with C, the elderly French Canadian woman and her friend F, and a couple from Georgia, that we had seen yet not met. They were very kind, and said “Please do!”.

I had the fish for our main dinner. I was so full from all the other food. Our couple from Georgia was very interesting. They have traveled all over the world.

After dinner we decided to try the hot tub, and to see if we could also see the stars. Unfortunately it was overcast. We did see lots of bugs scurrying around the towel baskets. I was freaking out, as I hate bugs! Upon getting out of the pool I made sure to shine my iPhone camera app on my robe and sandals to make sure that no bugs had crawled into my clothes during our soak!

What is your honest opinion on man buns?

Do your hips lie?

Do uninvited bugs in your clothes freak you out? Notice I said uninvited…

Valparaíso to Easter Island, Chile Wednesday January 18, 2017

We had to get up early to drive south from Valparaiso to the airport in Santiago to catch our flight to Easter Island. It wasn’t hard to wake up early as we barely slept. The gulls outside our windows drove us crazy all night long! Wake up call at 5:30 for a 6:00 car pickup.

Good bye Valparaiso graffiti!

This was a picture of a haunted street. I really didn’t understand the story but you were not supposed to linger here, but to drive by fast. So we did.

The sun began to rise on our way to Santiago.

Steve tried to sleep in the car as he had a bad night’s sleep. Between no air conditioning, the gulls, and my snoring-I mean purring, and a sore throat Steve had a very bad night. Even with the soothing sounds of a fan on the app on his iPhone, he slept very poorly. He went to bed at 9:30. I went to bed at 10:30. I woke up at 12:30, and thought great, I have five more hours to sleep. Which I told myself every hour decreasing the amount of time to sleep the rest of the night!