Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Early Sunday morning, October 25 (Happy Anniversary, Dad and Mother!)

EARLY (7 a.m.) Sunday morning, golf was out on the beach with her snorkel equipment (and me). Basing her decision on where to snorkel on the placement of the jetty of rocks and her research on Google Earth, she figured the best place for snorkeling was the east end of the beach.

Of course, I had to oversee it a little bit. I suggested she go out on the west side (between me and the rocks) of the jetty of rocks, just a little farther along the beach from where I'm sitting on the beach chair here.

She did so -- and found very shallow water and the "dark" areas she saw on Google Earth were just seagrass (or whatever you call that underwater "grass" -- not coral, unfortunately). She paddled around for a little while but didn't see many fish -- not even any convict tang, which are usually rather prevalent in Caribbean waters. Finally, when she got out about 50 yards beyond the rock jetty, she started seeing the neon blue tang. Frustratingly, at that point, she noticed that her new air mattress was losing air. Granted, she wasn't really in very deep water but she was rather far out, so she paddled on back to shore (to find the reason the mattress was deflating was not because of a leak but because she had not fully inserted the plug -- yes, she felt rather . . . . . embarrassed/dumb/hey-she's-a-blonde -- never mind . . . . )

So she just gave up (since she wasn't spotting any special fish) and just took pictures of the beach for Larry, since he hasn't seen Bolongo Beach. Below I'm sitting at the rock jetty and this is the east end of the beach.

Sun is coming up a little more in the picture below.
From where she was at the east end of the beach, looking back toward the west end, this is the edge of the bay farthest out into the sea.

One camera turn in toward shore . . .

And for the third part of triptech, the shore west to east to the rock jetty.

She retired back to the condo unit to pack up and get ready to head out. Out on the balcony, she was fooling around on the laptop, checking email and flight status, etc., and took these pictures of her view of the west end of the bay, over the beach outside her second floor condo unit. Note the "wedding arch" trellis where there had been a wedding on Saturday evening at sunset.
Nice little boat in the bay. But note the waves -- a little too much surf for snorkeling here, but maybe that's where one is supposed to snorkel to see the good fish. They sure weren't where she tried on the east end!

So after this rather disappointing morning (in terms of snorkeling -- she was still enjoying a very nice morning beachside on a tropical island, for crying out loud!), she packed up and checked out and headed to the airport for the trip home.

Which leads to an ENTIRELY different story that she's not ready to deal with right now (at least in the public domain). Maybe in a few days, she'll come to see the humor of the episode. (I'm LMAO!) But for right now, let's give her a little "come to grips" time and I'll reveal all as soon as she is willing to concede her stupidity and 'fess up. She usually has a good sense of "black humor" and the ability to ridicule herself. Right now, she's just too embarrassed. I'll cut her some slack -- this time!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday, October 24 -- Back in St. Thomas! Yea!

We are back in St. Thomas, this time at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. This resort "ain't much to write home about" -- the buildings are pretty old, but the furnishings seem updated and it does have a kingsize bed. And the beach itself is nice, though from what golf found out when she waded a little bit into the water just before sundown, once past the sand, it's rather rocky. Here's the view from our balcony.

Bath is rather small, but the resort does furnish little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, little bars of soap and a hair dryer (Sapphire Village didn't in every unit, depended on the owner, I guess). (Yes, that's golf's laptop on the bathroom counter -- the bathroom had the only available electrical plug she could find to re-charge the battery on the laptop, which she ran down on the flight down, using GoGo internet ["free for one flight for new user" for which she signed up so she could email Larry about the flight, but then he wasn't paying attention to email because he didn't know golf was using it! [gnash teeth] AAAAGGGGHH!!!)
Kitchen, though, hardly qualifies as a kitchen. A tiny wet-bar size sink, a small microwave, and a half refrigerator with no ice trays, much less an ice-maker. golf had to go buy a little styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice (she didn't take a picture of those).
By the way, St. Thomas is on Atlantic time, so it's an hour ahead of Atlanta except when Daylight Savings Time is in effect, and then it's the same time.

Now, as to how we (golf and I) got here. Larry and golf, with their smoking vice, had used up all the cigarettes golf got when she was down here in August, so it was time for another cigarette run. golf was able to get on the 10 a.m. flight down here (stand-by) without an problem, but this time she wasn't in First/Business Class. Bummer! (Is she spoiled or what?) Picked up her rental car, made it through "downtown" Charlotte Amalie (she's learning her way around pretty well) and to the resort without any major setbacks. Got all her stuff into the rental unit and seriously thought about going snorkeling first, BEFORE the cigarette run to K-Mart, but then she decided maybe she ought to do that run before dark, since this time she was taking a cross-island road that she hadn't driven (on the left side of the road, remember!) before, plus the water looked pretty surf-y (i.e., larger waves than she wanted to deal with while snorkeling).

So, golf figured she'd make the K-Mart run and be back in time to snorkel for a little while. "The best laid plans . . . " and all that. The extra stop to have to get ice and the styrofoam cooler added a little too much time to the trip. Nevertheless, golf gave it her best shot and changed into her swimsuit, blew up her inflatable raft, loaded up the snorkel gear, and headed for the east end of the beach. Where she discovered that the loopy thingy that holds the snorkel to the mask -- was MISSING! Had she been able to get her equipment in order, I think she would have gone in the water for 10 minutes or so, just to see if there were any fish there. But without that one little piece of equipment, she reluctantly resigned herself to no snorkeling today. HOWEVER, the resort does have its own dive shop, so she diddly-bopped over there and purchased a new loopy thingy for $2. Of course, by this time, it was too late to go in the water, but she's set for tomorrow morning (YES, she did check her luggage to be sure the loopy thingy hadn't just fallen off in the bag, but, alas, it had not -- or yea! it had not, since she had just spent two bucks to buy another one). Oh, yes, along the line of talking about buying things, the unit may have little bottles of shampoo, etc., but it has virtually NO drinking glasses -- only three mini-orange juice size glasses. So along with the cigs at K-Mart, golf also bought a cheapo set of four "old fashioned" drink size glasses (good for margaritas) and a souvenir-stamped West Indies plastic insulated mug for her diet orange Sunkist in the morning (okay, okay, she KNOWS she can't buy Diet Sunkist here, so she packed four cans of that in the bag she checked [extra bag to be checked for more cigarette cartons room] -- and they made it through the flight without exploding! So she has her version of "morning coffee" -- she never learned to like coffee).

Also, since she hadn't had anything to eat all day but a few grapes before she went to the airport this morning, a Burger King croissandwich at the airport, a couple of cinnamon cookies on the airplane, and a handful of peanuts, she figured she ought get something for dinner. She bought a frozen (what her generation calls a "TV dinner") at the grocery store, so I guess she better go cook it in her little mini-microwave . . . . though now she's not hungry . . . . good thing she decided against the $40 lobster dinner at the restaurant here at the resort. That $40 will buy a lot more than one 1-lb. lobster at our local Kroger . . . .

Signing off for tonight (while I still have whatever internet connection she's managed to piggy-back onto for tonight). !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 17, 2009 -- Another Arachnid

No, this is not turning into a Nat Geo blog -- we just haven't been anywhere to DO anything recently (though I believe golf has something stirred up for this weekend . . . . )

Anyway . . . . although Larry and golf keep "losing" their argiopes, they seem to keep an eye out for potential new visitors. On about October 13-14, Larry found a HUGE web in the back yard -- it stretched from the river birch tree to the ground and over to the patio, a span of about 15 feet. The web didn't cover all that area -- it was just in the center of the area for about a span of 3 feet, but the strands stretched that far. Never found the spider though, and the web didn't look like Ariadne's, Venus', or Emily's as it didn't have the center zigzag stabilizer - it just had a hole in the middle. And it was a very "disorganized" web -- but then it was pretty big to be very detailed. We had a lot of rain over this time period, and I think it was after midnight one night (Thursday, October 15) that Larry went outside looking for the spider and finally found her on the web, busily repairing and respinning the web. He tried to get pictures, but his camera wouldn't focus in the dark. The next night he went out with our old Sony video camera that has a light and filmed the spider again. Our spider expert advised us this is an Eriophora ravilla, a southern orb weaver, usually found in the tropics. Here's a picture of one (not ours, we didn't take this picture).

However, HERE is the video Larry shot. It's not all that good because we don't have professional night-time photography or video equipment. But it's clear enough to see this little lady. We didn't have time to name her before she blew away in a storm the next day and since then the temperature has dropped below freezing at the house (yes, fairly unusual for October in Atlanta), she's probably long gone. Don't know that we'll find any more this year . . . . :-(

(Now what is really neat about this video is that the spider drops and starts swinging on a strand and Larry is able to follow her [in the dark!] and track her as she swings, gets to the ground and moves along in the grass a little, then skitters back up the thread [or another one] -- he was really good at following her in the first place, even if the video is not totally in focus all the time. That he got this much action at all is very commendable, in my opinion.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8: We interrupt this program . . . .

Are you getting tired of reading about Hawaii? Well, that's fine, I'm tired of writing about it. So I'll get golf to stick some other "news" in here. First of all, we have a new spider!!! If you followed along for the sagas of Ariadne and Venus . . . ., well, now we have Emily (golf flatly refused to name her Charlotte -- "Everyone names his/her spider Charlotte!!" -- so she decided on Emily -- get it?) And here she is (Emily, not golf), in all her glory.

Now, secondly, October 1 was golf's birthday. As usual, she got for herself what she wanted sometime back in March and just kept it hidden until her birthday, when she advised Larry of what HE had gotten for her. Ta-da!!

Is that a good birthday present, or what? It is an actual jacket given out to the crew during the filming of the show. She got it on eBay from a former crew member. She's stoked! Her Magnum-Mania.com buddies asked her if she was going to frame it. Uhhhhh, she never thought of that. She's planning to WEAR it -- when it gets cool enough to need a jacket.
So, whaddaya think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maui, Sunday, September 20 - Boat Snorkel Trip

Here is the Pacific Whale Organization catamaran boat that we headed out on at 8:30 Sunday morning. golf catches a quick shot of me with the wake of the boat behind me.

Coming up on Molokini, a crescent-moon-shaped crater that is a nature reserve and therefore protected.

Aerial view (obviously not taken by us)

Approaching the area where our boat tied up and we were allowed to snorkel within a triangular area from the boat reaching out left and right to the cliffs where the landmass goes down into the water -- couldn't actually anchor or touch anything there due to preservation rules.

Here we FINALLY saw a few more yellow tangs and a few Moorish idols. But mostly we saw a lot of black Hawaiian triggers. These look pretty cool "live," as that white band on their bodies looks almost neon light blue in the water. Here is a rock formation at Lana'i, where we headed after about 45 minutes of snorkeling at Molokini. It took about an hour and a half of boat ride to get from Molokini to Lana'i.

There we snorkeled for about another 45 minutes or so. It was very nice snorkeling in terms of fish seen, but it's hard to beat the manta rays and the spotted eagle rays . . . . . which, by the way, we never saw again. Larry told golf not to be unhappy about not seeing them again, as it was almost a "once in a lifetime" experience to see them at all!
After their return and another steak at home, they went back to the beach for the sunset (EVERYONE does this on the west sides of the island every night!), where this time there was a wedding going on.
golf again attempted to get big splashes of the waves breaking on the rocks.

And more color in the sky as the sun descends.

Another Day in Paradise

Saturday, September 29:

Since apparently snorkeling was so disappointing around Kihei, Larry and golf decided to go north again this morning, this time up around and past Lahaina and Kapalua, attempting to find Honolua Bay, which is recommended in the guide books as a good place to snorkel, but hard to find. They went as far as Honokohau Bay before they figured they had actually passed it. Went too far back south to D. T. Bleming Beach Park, where there was some kind of canoeing race going on, so it was crowded, headed back north and finally found the stairway going down to Honolua. But the water was WAY too rough for swimming, much less snorkeling. So they gave up and went back to Kaanapali Parkway and parked at the beach access underground parking for Black Rock. That was really crowded (not the parking -- the beach), and hoards of kids were leaping off the rock into the pathway of snorkelers trying to view the fish! This was not conducive to snorkeling around the area for the obvious reason of risking getting landed on by the kids leaping into the water and then the fish aren't likely to be hanging around where big objects are leaping into the water. So they paddled out past that distraction and explored around the rocks there. Still no yellow tang or Moorish idols (well, later Larry said he saw a couple of each but golf never did) BUT they DID see TWO spotted eagle rays, swimming together with the smaller one under the larger one, as in mother protecting youngster. They have NO knowledge that this might be the case, but it was lovely to see! (Again, not their picture, but here's a spotted eagle ray so you can see what they saw.)

Oddly enough, they didn't take any pictures during this foray north!
When they got back to the condo, the travel time on Tuesday and the excited going-going-going for the next three days caught up with them, and they crashed. They didn't have the energy to do anything much. Larry started browsing some of their tourist magazines and found the Pacific Whale Organization boat trip for snorkeling to Molokini and Lana'i for less than some of the usual tourist boat trips, plus the proceeds go to the Whale Organization and benefit the Pacific environs and sea life. So he booked them a trip for Sunday.
One more sunset at the Keakawapaku Beach park . . . .

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another Maui Report

Friday, September 18: Larry and golf are still getting up early. And here I am on the lanai of our condo waiting for them to get ready for snorkeling first.This morning, they went back to Waimea Beach, where they had explored on Wednesday but didn't go in the water. They didn't see anything here as impressive as the manta rays at Ulua; still, they enjoyed it, though they are beginning to conclude that the number of fish are greatly reduced, compared to what they used to see around Maui and on the Big Island. They are seeing virtually NO yellow tangs or Moorish idols. These cut little yellow tangs

( Moorish idol below)
used to be so prolific, you got tired of seeing the schools of them swim by. Where have they all gone??? Now they are seeing convict tangs, instead, and not even huge schools of them.

They are used to seeing the convict tangs around St. Thomas (along with blue tangs and brown tangs) but not in Hawaii.

Anyway, here I am on Waimea Beach.

After snorkeling, they decided to go way north past Wailuku and play at the Waiehu Muni golf course. They had played here once before, when they were on Maui in October 2004, and it was VERY windy. They got there earlier than they expected, so they stopped at the beach park just north of the course.

Waiehu was still as windy, but not as crowded as it had been when they played it before. Here I am in the cart on the first tee.

This is golf, swinging hard to drive off the tee into the wind.

She stopped at the top of a hill to get a picture of me with the ocean in the background, but the wind was so strong, it kept blowing me off the fence before she could get me placed and the picture snapped!
Again, she's repeating her thing about putting me in trees . . . . . but I really don't object to this one. This is one unusual tree!
And she keeps posing me with her Himalayan cat driver club cover -- named Kia after a sealpoint Himmie she had from 1976 till 1990.

After golf, Larry grilled a steak for them and then they went down to watch the sunset at Keakapaku Beach Park, which was across the street from our condo at Maui Hill (right in front of the Days Inn, which used to be the Best Western, where they stayed one night in 2004, and where they snorkeled then and saw all the things they haven't seen this time!) Watching the sun set . . . . .
Larry took a picture of golf taking a picture of me.
And Larry got a picture of Larry walking along the lava rocks on the shore.