Pandemic 2020

I want to transition my posts away from travel to what is happening right now, around the globe.  The COVID 19 Pandemic.   The worldwide pandemic that at first was a conversation, perhaps a concern,  and quickly turned into a nightmare for all of us, all over the world.  Since 1918 with the Spanish Flu, the death toll was estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.[3]

I want to update this post as things change for good or bad and document things in the world and in my own country and state, WA state,  as this virus spreads and kills.

As of today Sunday October 18th, 2020 219K dead in the United States alone, 1.1 million dead worldwide.  This Trump administration is shameful, inept, and corrupt.  They are pushing drugs that are also killing people and they have gutted all agencies like the CDC because the president cannot stand to be wrong. But he is WRONG, very wrong about this virus, along with most other things that come from his mouth.

The virus does not discriminate.  It is taking young, old, brown, black, rich, poor, religious, non-religious, sick, healthy, gay, straight, it does not care, it will take you.

There are many conversations about how we got the virus, man-made, lab-created, a wet market in Wuhan China, accidentally released, intentionally released,  etc.  Most scientists now, May 2020, 7 months after the first infection, are pretty much in agreement that it was not created in a lab.  But it really does not matter where it started what matters now is how to save lives, how to get tested, how to make and get a vaccine to everyone, all over the world.  How long that will take, The bill and Melinda Gates fountain suggest it could be 18-24 months for all those things to happen.

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-not-human-made-in-lab.html 

As a frequent traveler, our lives have been put on hold, quickly.  Not just internationally but domestically.  And though, stopping our personal travel is not a tragedy in the world of tragedies, with people dying and dying quickly and frequently, it certainly has changed our life.  It has changed all our lives.  And I doubt life will be the same again.

We are on a soft lockdown, shelter in place.  We don’t leave the house except to go for walks, and perhaps a drive in the sun once in a while.  We have food delivered, we have booze delivered, we have everything come to our home.

We are asked to wear masks if we go in public where we may come in contact with people.   I even have friends who are making masks and distributing them in our own community for health care workers and regular people alike.  Masks have become part of most people’s regular attire these days.  And the scramble to get them because of the ineptness and corruption of the Trump Administration has been unacceptable at best.

We wear our pajamas all day, work and personal relationships are all done online now.  My husband works 100% from home and though that is not a huge deal, it certainly was a transition for him to not be with his team in the flesh.  And though he can manage everything he needs to from home, it’s still hard and hard on his team.

A transition for me as I am a full-time housewife and am used to having the home to myself all week. Now it is filled with 8-10 hours of conference calls and texts and late-night emails and messages as he and his team and corporation all transition into a new corporate life.  I have learned to use my laptop in other parts of the house and or wear my headphones in the office if I need my main machine for writing or doing business.

Almost everything has been closed down, hair salons, nail salons, gyms, malls, restaurants, bars, parks, beaches.  Businesses have scrambled to figure out how to keep their businesses running.  Online orders, take out only, pick up, delivery.   There are no doctors appointments, no dentists, no hair cuts.

There are workers who are considered essential.  Grocery store workers and most food stores are open for business but on limited hours and staff.   Liquor stores are all open, limited staff, most people have things delivered or we order online and pick up at the store, outside the store.

Airlines are at a standstill, and business including large retailers like Nordstrom are beginning to close and file for bankruptcy.   What remains after this is over, is far from easy to predict.

We have canceled almost all vacations for the year and though we spend most of the summer having BBQs and parties and cocktails and birthdays and anniversaries, those plans have also had to change.

We have figured out how to have “social distancing” cocktails with friends.  They bring their own chairs, and booze and snacks and we set up chairs in the front driveway, far apart and we air high five, a virtual hug, and still do out best to enjoy our friends considering the situation.  Our backyard has a huge fire pit that seats about 16 or so and we can easily, now that the weather is getting nicer, have someone over to enjoy the music, the fire pit, the company.

We always sit 6 or more feet apart with friends and we touch nothing together.  We use Lysol and purell on anything that we gift or any place a friend has to use a part of the home, like a guest bath.   We don’t entertain inside and though all these transitions have been hard, we are learning how to do it and we all have figured it out together.

We are fortunate because my husband can work from home, we can pay our bills and order anything we need.   We are healthy and we live in a fantastic place where we can easily drive somewhere just to enjoy the drive or sit on the side of the road and have a picnic.

We don’t take a single healthy day for granted nor do we take our friends for granted.  We try to check on everyone as often as we can.   We make calls, and send emails and have video conferencing as often as we can.   We text, we send cards, we write letters and we wake up every day grateful.

On a huge side note and emotional topic.

I hope most of my family is well, safe, during this pandemic and every day really, since they choose not to speak to me, or us over our religious differences. I keep hearing the phrase “you left us” ring in my ears.  When the reality is I left no one.  I am here, always have been.  They are making those choices not me.  I have no restrictions on my love.  I have no conditions on my love.   Their view is that their religion is somehow more powerful than god.    I have learned painfully that there is no way a god of any kind would think that not speaking to family or old friends is acceptable.   A god of love would always want people to be kind and loving to one another and especially during trying and hard times, to be there for one another with no strings, no conditions.   I think about my sisters and my nieces and brother-in-law’s and my father who is in an assisted living home in Georgia, every day.  My heart is heavy for those we have lost, for the mess this country deals with every day for the doctors and nurses who put their lives and their loved ones lives on the line every day because of this pandemic.  If anyone out there from my past is listening or cares, we are good, healthy, and living the best we can during this time.  It is acceptable and fine to reach out to me, to us, to call, to email, to text, to check in on us, as we have on you, yet you refuse to reply or acknowledge our existence.  That is unacceptable, period.  It seems nothing allows their god to love unless it has rules and laws that are man-made and painful and hurtful to others.   Friends and family should be there for one another, PERIOD.  That is what real and true love is.  Love has no conditions, no strings, no laws, no rules.  It is love, and it should cover everything and everyone.

Our new life has proven what true family and friends are. And we are all there for one another during good times and bad.   It never occurs to them or us to simply brush aside our friendship because a cruel god said we should.   Love is love, period.   Friends are friends or they aren’t.  There should be no middle ground and when the entire world is on lockdown, sick, dying, this is when we need each other.  But many choose to ignore real humans for their own silly and twisted agenda.  Their own selfish and ignorant views.   It’s the 21st century, wake up.

That part of my rant over.   I will update this site when appropriate.   Please reach out to me at any time.   My calendar is not very full these days.   🙂

Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Cheers from Seattle.

Africa! South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe

Off on another adventure, almost a month on the road.  This time, 4 more countries in Africa.  Africa literally captivates the hearts of all who visit.  It’s an incredible place with the most amazing people, stories and history.   I wildly implore you to go.

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Namibia Dunes.  2019 Copyright Angela Wright Photography

We flew Business class on Emirates, Seattle to Dubai, then off and running we went.  I was going to post a very long explanation of our trip but I decided to just share our itinerary from the very company that planned it for us.  Lucky for us they happen to be very close to our home.  So that made it easy and convenient to plan this very special trip.

https://itinerary.ultimateafrica.com/Itinerary/Destinations/1bf43d22-3dbe-4b52-8dd8-98e4639f0f47#destination-9

A few things to note as usual:

Emergency Kits:  Always carry a medical emergency kit with you.  If you get sick or hurt in some countries you won’t easily be able to get medical treatment.  But you should always carry Cipro for your tummy, a Z-Pack, motion sickness meds, anti-fungal, Benadryl, Bite cream, bandaids, Neosporin, Aspirin, Activated Charcoal pills, Aleve and or Ibuprofin, Iodin Swabs (which you should be able to get for free from your doctor or pharmacist) and make sure you have all your prescription medications and supplements with you.   If you are going to be gone a long time and you don’t want to carry every single bottle I recommend this for your everyday medicine and supplements Folding Pill Organizer

Weather:  The weather can vary in parts of Africa, as in parts of the United States.  We found that the early mornings were very chilly.  Especially since we were mostly in open-air vehicles.  They did provide hot water bottles and blankets for us.  But I highly recommend taking a coat, one that can be easily packed, perhaps folded into itself.  A hat, gloves and a scarf.   Its easier to peel clothes off when you get warm, then to not have enough clothing when it’s cold.  Also, pack wool socks and regular socks for the changing weather.  Make sure your shoes are comfortable and for walking over rough terrain and or getting wet if necessary.  Salomon makes the perfect shoes for this kind of trip.  Make sure you pack sunscreen because when the sun comes up and you are in an open-air vehicle you are going to need it.  And really good sunglasses.  Perhaps a hat to keep the heat out also, I always recommend Tilly.

Toiletries: Be sure you have everything you need in your toiletry bag.  I always recommend bags like this, for easy travel and convenience in your rooms and or tents.  If you are gone for two weeks or more make sure you have all the things you need, you will be hard-pressed to get those things in many parts of Africa if you are on safari in remote places.   Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, q-tips, floss, extra contacts, lotion for face and hands, face scrub,  Tampons, pads, hair accessories, brush, comb, safety pins, small sewing kit, toothpicks.  Anything that you use daily that you may not be able to get on this trip.

Wi-fi/Cell service:  It was very rare on our trip that we had any kind of cell service or Wi-fi service.   We were fine with that as we didn’t really need it for anything.   But because of this, I recommend that you treat it like the old days.  Keep copies of your itinerary on paper, with you, make sure you leave a copy back home for friends just in case, and copies of your passport back home, just in case.  Keep a list of all phone numbers written somewhere just in case there is an emergency.  And pack your kindle or books, there will plenty of downtime and for the most part no internet.

Tented camps:  The camps are so lovely, lots of great food, comfortable rooms, and places to sit and relax, read, have a cocktail, etc.  But there is no AC or heat in the tents.  So just be prepared in the evenings and early mornings to be a bit chilly.  Most places will provide blankets and hot water bottles in your beds for you.   But warm socks, warm jammies, are always a good idea to pack.   And in the afternoons it can get very hot in the tents, some have fans but that is about it.   So be prepared to sweat.  It’s an adventure for sure.   And the showers are all solar so sometimes you will be asked to shower in the evenings because that is when you will have hot water.  You don’t want to wake up in the chill of the morning with no heat and no hot water.  That’s not a great way to start the day.

Vaccinations: Always check the  CDC  and  WHO  websites before you travel anywhere to get the latest on vaccination requirements or medications that you need to bring or take with you as you travel.

Also here is my husband’s delightful site with photos and his take on our trip.  https://trips.wrightholdings.com/

I hope you enjoy reading about our trip and seeing our incredible photos of this magical Continent.   If you have a chance to go, do it.  You will never be disappointed with your choice.   If you have any questions or feel I need to add something please reach out to me at any time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois!

My very dear friend has now moved from WA state to Massachusetts.  She wanted to get her car there and of course, how do you do it?  Yes, you drive it all the way over I-90 to its new home.   She asked me to join her on the adventure and away we went.

My final stop along the way was going to be Chicago as she went on to meet her family in Decatur Illinois a family because she was adopted that, thanks to ancestry and DNA, she just found,  and then on to Boston she went. Decatur has come up a lot in my household lately just by coincidence, or is it?  hmmm   (Yes, a funny side note, my husbands very unstable X wife is now living in Decatur Illinois because she is friends with my husbands X girlfriend.   I guess she has run out of places to run or people to take advantage of.  Anyway, I digress. )

So we started out on a Monday morning, had things planned along the way, the only restriction was that we needed to be in Chicago by Thursday afternoon.   The driving would, in the end, be 34 hours.   We stopped along the way in hotels and we saw some great things.

Mt. Rushmore for one, Mt. Rushmore!  I had never seen it before and was very excited about it.  It was as cool as I imagined.   It’s pretty neat driving on the road around the mountains in anticipation of where it will be.  And you do literally come around a bend and there it is.   It’s huge and so amazing.  Thinking about how long ago it was built, the trouble it took, the mapping of it, the tools they used, no safety features and how many people died carving it.  It’s pretty crazy.

RED_5047It’s only 10.00 to park your car in a secure lot, to see the mountain.  It’s a very short walk up through a new layout that has all the state flags and dates.  You can pretty much see the mountain from the second you come into this particular area.  There are small places to get ice cream and sodas, etc.  Plenty of places to get great photos.  It’s worth the trip.  And it was fun to hear families and kids talking about the Presidents and getting some real history instead of just sitting on their devices.

We also stopped and saw The Badlands in South Dakota The Badlands.  Now that is some impressive scenery.  We drove through just looking and admiring and taking photos.  This is also a must if you are on a cross country road trip.

There was so much to see along the way, the HUGE Wind Turbines in South Dakota, the constant land beauty of Montana and the rolling green hills of Wisconsin. I crossed the Mississippi River for my very first time in a car and MAN was it just beautiful.

I-90 will literally take you from Seattle to Boston.  Most of the speed limits are 80 and though there was a lot of construction along the way, we did very well and did make our destinations every evening, checked into hotels, had dinner, slept, got up early the next day to continue on our way.   I was SO excited to get to Chicago.   I had never been and its where my husband is from and most of his family still lives.

A few random photos along the way of rest stops, the land, structures, etc.  I have more on my phone to share at some point.

Then we got to Chicago around 3:00 on Thursday afternoon, exactly when we needed to be there.  I said goodbye to my friend and she was off, back into the Chicago traffic, which was as bad as we were told,  to go meet her family in Decatur, for the first time.

I checked into the Blackstone Hotel and the photo you see on the front page, that beautiful room with a full view of Soldier Field, the fountain, The navy pier, The fields museum, the Planetarium, and Lake Michigan, that was the very room I had for my three-night stay.  It was the best room in the hotel I am told. And it was really fantastic. The service was great, the hotel just beautiful and it was so convenient, right at Grant Park.

I was ready to see everything while I was there.  I walked to Grant Park that morning and the first thing I saw was Buckingham Fountain and of course lots of weddings!  Buckingham Fountain

 

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The city was a bit hard to see for both days, because of the haze and a couple of thunderstorms that came in.  It was hot, but not terrible to walk around in.   I loved all the Pride Flags on the buildings, the Pier, the Ferris Wheel.  There was going to be a Pride Parade on the Sunday that I was leaving.   And there was a huge community of LGBTQ people who lived there, who had come in for the parade etc.  I met a lot of them and it was so great to be present with such a diverse crowd of people.  Also, it was very different than Seattle.  People would literally just come up and start talking to you, sitting at your table asking where you were from, etc.   I really loved it!  I was so glad I was able to experience this entire trip.

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I got to spend time with my friend, the weather was great and I was able to drive through 5 states that I had never been to before.   So now that puts my count of states to 25 that I have seen myself.   Now just 25 more.  Pretty sure that will come with Brad’s retirement in a couple years.

Cheers, all I hope you get a chance to see some great places this summer.   Now OFF to Africa again, looking forward to those posts later this summer.

 

French Polynesia, Tahiti and Master Liveaboard

Once again we find ourselves in the airport off to a new adventure.   French Polynesia on the Polynesia Master Live-aboard.   It’s relatively easy to get here, we took Alaska Airlines to LAX, then we took Air Tahiti, to Papeete.   A little more than ten hours of flying, and there is only a two hour time difference between Tahiti and Seattle, so no jet lag.  Win, win.

tahiti

We stayed at a resort for three night before getting on the boat.  Since we had never been here before Brad thought it might be nice to experience the beauty of the place.  The Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort was the name of our accommodations.  Our room was pretty nice, large.  Two stories, with a large bathroom and king size bed on the top floor, a couch, bar, fridge, bathroom on the second floor.   AC, clean, a bit older so it had a few updates it needed like the paint, some of the tiles on the floor, the curtains.  But otherwise, it was a nice place.  This is a large resort.

We had dinner our first night, at the restaurant, the food was really nice, the service was decent, the prices were not terrible, though French Polynesia is a very expensive place to visit, so be prepared for that if you are going anytime soon.

There is a nice pool, and the resort is right on the ocean front, you can walk on the black sand beach and hear the waves crashing as you sleep in the evenings.

We got a cab to and from the airport, it was not hard to do and it was not expensive.  Most people speak English here as well as French so you are pretty much guaranteed to get around and find what you need.

After three nights we were ready to go back to the airport and catch a plane to meet the boat for a week of diving.   We took a small commuter plane it was about a 45-minute flight.

We were met at a VERY remote small airport by the crew of the Master boat we were going to be on.    They tagged our luggage for our rooms, gave us water and put us on a bus to take us to the boat.

This Master Liveaboard was very nice.   We had a very bad experience on the Bahamas Master so my expectations were kind of all over the place.   BUT this boat was NICE.  The rooms were very big, large bathrooms, full shower, clean, well kept, etc.   It didn’t even smell like a dive boat, which some of them do.

The dive deck is very well planned.  I believe in the end it was 24 divers in all.   You use a zodiac to go to the dive sites and the back of the boat has a nice huge back platform.  They put the gear in the center of the zodiacs and you gear up when you arrive at the site.   It can be a bit rough to take a big camera but after a few dives you get it figured out how to maneuver it on the zodiac etc.

They do not dive in pairs because the French have special diving rules.  So you have to dive in groups.  Usually groups of 4 or 5 with a dive master.  And if someone in the group has to abort the dive, then everyone has to abort the dive.  It seemed to work for most of the dives.  There was only once or twice where a whole group had to come back because of one divers equipment issues, or air problems.

Brad said the diving was good, not the best he has ever had but decent.  The water is very warm so swimming and snorkeling are very easy.   We had a lot of choppy days so sometimes the visibility was not great and there was no way to snorkel because it’s just too choppy on top.

But in the end I did get to snorkel with the dolphins, they came right up to me and played and I saw Baracuda and giant clams, and plenty of schools of fish.   It was a good break and a fun trip.

I am not sure we would go again, there is an odd vibe from the French people and how they treat the Polynesians.  And though it’s their country we were not super excited to see the arrogance and the rudeness to their own Polynesian people.  And in some places, like hotels and bars, it’s very expensive.  This is most surely not a trip on a budget kind of place.

Next for us is more places in Africa this summer.  I will update when I can. As always reach out about anything.   Travel, it makes you a better human.

 

Master Liveaboard, Bahamas Shark Diving

Off to the Bahamas again.   We love it there so much.     As it will probably be our retirement spot for winters in a few years we are trying out most of it now.  🙂  Its clean and lovely and the water is so warm and clear.   And it’s not overcrowded in places like Grand Bahama.

Sunsets

Bahamas sunsets are the best

This time to Freeport, Bahamas.   We took AA from Seattle to North Carolina and then on to Freeport.   Delta airlines which we prefer over AA, canceled their routes to this area.  Which makes this trip a bit longer than it needs to be.  You have to take a red-eye to North Carolina, not my favorite.   We had a 7-hour layover in that airport.  But then home we came through Miami.  Miami is a really busy but modern and well laid out airport.   Their business/first class lounges are pretty good, shower, full bar.   But usually pretty full.

We were once again on a liveaboard.  This is a trip that Brad has wanted to do for a very long time.   Diving with the sharks.  And no this is not cage diving, this is actual diving in the water, with the sharks.   Tiger sharksGreat HammerheadsReef Sharks and Lemon Sharks.

 

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Great Hammerhead 2018, Bahamas,  Brad Wright Photographer 

 

The divers are trained for a couple of days on how to sit in a formation on the bottom of the ocean, how to be alert, how to listen to the dive masters for oncoming sharks, to be aware and alert at all times.   The sharks are fed by one or two dive masters and they will come right up to you as you can see in the photo above.

The diving is never deeper than 6 or 7 meters.  You can see the divers and the sharks from the boat deck.

Brad said that its a heart-pounding, exhilarating experience.  These creatures are large and fantastic.

There have been very few accidents on these trips.  But they do tell a couple of tales of people not following instructions and getting bit or hurt.

The boat is part of the Worldwide Dive and Sail fleet, which includes the Masters and the Sirens.

This was not the best liveaboard we have been on.  It was run down, needed a lot of work.  We did have one of only two large cabins on the boat.  But it was in need of great repair.  The bed did not fit in the space that they allocated for it, the curtains were hand towels duct taped to the windows, the tiles in the shower were coming up and sticking to our feet each time we took a shower.   There was rust along the shower head and the soap dispenser.

It did have working AC and the room was a good size.

There were a few concerns by the divers.  There was rarely a safety diver on the boat deck and no one was ever ready with the zodiac for a real emergency.

I think that they have some real issues to clean up on this particular dive boat.

The food on the boat was good, the staff was good sometimes but its the first time on a liveaboard that I saw so much flirting between the staff and sometimes even getting our dinner late because some of the staff was too busy making out.   LITERALLY!

They were not always prepared to serve the boat.  Most nights we had to pour our own drinks and get our own snacks.   All things I have already complained about.  But….

We met some really great people on this trip, from all over the world.  Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Malaysia, and Missouri, California, Florida.   It was the first liveaboard I have been on where we ALL got along the entire trip and had a splendid time and lots of laughs.   Usually, there is at least one asshole on a boat like this.  One guy or girl who thinks very highly of themselves or is a very unsafe diver.  But we were like family and it was great fun!!

Bahamas 2018

Met great people on this trip. Jill Jurgens, Paige Stewart

  • NOTE:  There were a couple of cooler evenings so bringing a light sweater or jacket is a plus.
  • There are crossings where the water is rough, so motion sick pills are a plus.   We prefer these as they have no side effects, don’t make you tired and don’t affect your ability to dive.   Motion sickness pills.
  • Brad dove with his Shark Skin which is equivalent to a 3M suit.  The water is pretty warm.
  • There are sharks on every dive so swimming or snorkeling on this particular trip is very unlikely.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, always a must

I always recommend the Bahamas for a family trip, a couples trip, retirement, etc.   It’s a beautiful place.  Still has fresh clean water with plenty of sea life.   It’s not outrageously expensive and its fairly easy to get to.

We will be on another master liveaboard in February in French Polynesia so here’s to hoping it will be better in all ways.  The photos look better, but you never know.

As always if you have any questions or complaints please feel free to email me, or find me on Twitter, or Facebook.

Cheers and happy travels.

The Philippines, Bohol. Magic Oceans Dive Resort

Another adventure!  We left Seattle on Delta airlines to Seoul Korea, 11 hours.  Then we flew from Seoul to Cebu Philippines.   Stayed the night in the Waterfront Aiport Hotel, overnight.   It’s a comfortable place to have cocktails, get a good nights sleep.   You can get a quick shuttle from the airport to the hotel.   It’s not easy to just walk there from the airport but you can see the hotel from the airport.

On the way home, we flew through Narita.

Then the next morning we took a 1.5-hour drive to a ferry, a 2-hour ferry ride, another 1.5-hour drive to the resort.

Magic Oceans

Magic Oceans Resort, Bohol Philippines

Magic Oceans is the name of the resort.   This is a very nice resort.  Here are a few features.   The resort is small, only 14 bungalows.  There are 5 of them right at the pool, the others are just down a bit.  But they are all the same size, king beds, and another single bed in the room that is also a lounge to sit in.  The rooms are big, a nice table for your laptop and camera or what not, side tables, a closet-like space, with shelves to hang things and store things.   It has s small refrigerator for whatever you choose and it is stocked with soda, water, snacks, all for the buying at about 90 pesos a piece.  They also have a coffee maker and coffee and tea in the room for you.   There are plenty of plugs, AC, hot water showers.

They will provide water in the room for you for drinking and brushing your teeth.  They do not recommend using the tap for those things.

The restaurant is really good.  Fresh food, soups, bread, noodles, meats.   You get shrimp, chicken, and pork as your meats, no hamburger or steak.  The hamburgers they do serve are pork patties.   The menu is very large and there is plenty to choose from.  Even snacks during the day and plenty of things to drink.   The chef and kitchen staff were very competent.

The scuba diving is pretty good I am told.  Lots of frogfish and small things.  They did see a whale shark one day.    But the dive resort needs a few upgrades both in the way they run things and the dive operation.

First of all, you have to pay 8.00 a tank for Nitrox since they do not have their own mixing stations at the resort.   They do not label the tanks and they do not even tell you when the tanks are filled or not.   They do not wash your gear for you and they rarely if at all clean and or rinse out the rinse tanks.  Some of the washing equipment is rusted so you cant use the hoses, for example, to wash off your camera gear.

If the weather has been bad they take down the Jetty so you have to either walk through the iron shore to go diving or you have to take a long hot open truck ride to the boat or the dive site.   You have to wear your wetsuit on the ride.  They do take your fins, BC, tank to the boat for you in another vehicle.

The boats are wood and they are not equipped with any emergency gear.  There is no oxygen, or first aid kit, or defibrillator on these boats.   I find this very disturbing especially considering that I noticed there were more than a few new or beginner divers on this trip alone.

And I do not think that any resort or any certified place should allow scuba divers to take a course if they do not know how to swim.   If you can’t swim, you cannot SCUBA, that should be the rule.   Not being able to swim puts everyone around you in danger.   But this resort seems to have some lax rules on some things like this.

The dive masters were good, Brad had an O-ring failure on one dive 20M down, and the dive master he was with did exactly as she should have, giving him her Octo and helping him get safely to the surface.

However, the boat crew does not seem to see much urgency sometimes in taking care of things, or people in the water.     This is really something that should be addressed.

All in all, we had a nice time.   The resort is remote enough to be off the beaten path, but it had some great guests and we made some great new friends and had wonderful diving and great evenings drinking and laughing with people from all over the world.

This resort is not expensive as you will find in most places in The Philippines.

I think you will enjoy it!  Now go, travel!

 

Komodo Indonesia, Indo-Siren & Amed

Here we are home from another adventure.   We drove to Vancouver then took Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific to Bali.  Then a one hour hop from Depensar to Bima.

We then were on our way to the Indo Siren, our liveaboard boat for 10 days.  This is without a doubt the best dive boat and operation I have been on in ten years.  The Indo fleet is the biggest dive fleet in the world.   The owner of the boat is Frank Van Der Linde from Worldwide Dive and Sail.  He and his daughter were actually on the boat with us this trip.   He is a great guy and his boats and staff are top notch.

You get three full meals a day on the boat, plenty of snacks, tea, coffee, water, and booze.  The sodas and beer and water and sparkling waters are all included in the price of the trip.  The wine is very expensive but that is because it is so hard for them to get.   But you are fully taken care of.  You can even get massages on the boat.  There is place to hook up your music.   The cabins are big and comfortable.   You will not be disappointed in this operation or these boats.

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We had a friend with us this time.  He got SCUBA certified about 2 years ago and now he is Brads dive buddy.   He said he could not have had a better time.  The diving was incredible and they had a wonderful time.

Brad and Shawn

SCUBA diving in Indonesia. Indo Siren.

The dive sites are Bima Bay, Sangeang Island, Gilli Banta, Gili Lawa Laut, Current City, Rinca Island, and Komodo Island.

At each place there were at least four dives a day.  One in the morning, then breakfast, one in the afternoon, then lunch, one after lunch and one in the evening.   Most people did all four dives each day.   But that is a lot of diving so for some they would skip the evening dive.

We actually got to get off the boat and walk on Komodo Island and see the Komodo Dragons.  They are spectacular creatures.  Very dangerous.   We had several guides.  But if you ever get to see them outside of a zoo, you will be fully impressed.

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After the dive boat we took a flight from Bima to Bali.   Then we took a 3 hour drive to Amed.   We stayed in this incredible Villa.  Villa Candi Matahari

This place was spectacular.   The owners Paul and Staci were such gracious hosts.   The rooms are large and comfortable with outdoor showers and amazing beds.   There is an infinity pool that you wont ever want to leave.

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You get breakfast included in your stay.   There are several restaurants around the Villa where you can get fantastic food.  Fresh seafood, steaks, salads and wines to die for!

Indonesia is one of our favorite places in the whole world.   It takes a while to get there, but once you are there, you wont want to leave.   Your dollar goes very far here, things are very inexpensive, even the everyday living.   The locals are kind and easy going.

If you are thinking of taking a trip here, and dont know where to start, reach out to me and I would be happy to help you figure things out.

Cheers and Happy Traveling!

Argentina, Chile, Patagonia region and Antarctica 2016

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Well hello friends.  Its the end of another great year.  We met some amazing people, had some grand adventures and saw some amazing sites.  And I still cannot believe that I set foot in Antarctica.   If you have the chance to see it, do it soon.  Especially with the US current administration who does not believe or support climate change, Antarctica could be gone before you know it.  And what a colossal disaster that will be.

We flew American Airlines from Seattle to Buenos Aires.   We had a 15 hour layover there, so we decided to get a hotel room, to freshen up and sleep before we had to get up and catch a 3:00 am flight to the Domestic airport where we caught our next flight.

This adventure would have a lot of hiking, and seeing the country side.   Everyday we hiked new mountains and stayed in great lodges along the way.   We ate amazing food and got to know some people from around the world who were also traveling with us.  We hiked in both Chile and Argentina.   We hiked all over Patagonia and the mountain region Fitz Roy:

That is the region that you see on all your Patagonia clothing, that is the mountain that we hiked and the areas around it.   The weather was cool and sometimes windy, but really beautiful.  We saw icebergs, and animals, and water falls and flowers for miles.  Its was really incredible.

The hiking is tough in some places, lots of hills and tons of rocks.  You really need to be prepared and a pretty experienced hiker to enjoy the hikes and not get too tired.  Its hours of hiking each day.  I did most hikes each day.  There was one that I simply could not finish.  I knew that if I went all the way to the end, I would not have enough energy to make it back to our lodge.

There are many sites that can show you the hikes we did, this one shows pretty much every adventure we took on that trip.  Hiking

*NOTE: You need to have a very good pair of hiking boots, great wool socks that dont rub, a light jacket and a heavy one, both should be able to pack well in your backpack.  Hat, gloves, scarf, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a good bottle for water.   You will also need to pack protein bars, fruit, nuts, protein sticks.   Your hikes are long and hard and some days you get very hot.   You will not want to be stuck on a hike without the proper food and hydration.  I of course always recommend electrolyte tablets for your water.   These are the ones we take, Nuun.

Then we were off to Antarctica.   Most of the people that were on the tour with us were also going on the boat with us, the Polar Pioneer.   This is the same boat we took through the high Arctic and Norway in 2007.   It holds approximately 50 guests.  Its a great boat, with an exceptional Russian crew.  Three meals a day, prepared by chefs, snacks all day, coffee, tea, juices.  There is also a full bar on the boat with every kind of liquor, beer and wine you might like.

The hardest part of the journey is the 40 hours through the Drake Passage 

It is some of the roughest waters on earth.   I never get sea sick but coming back through the Drake on our journey home, even I was sick one afternoon.

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Antarctica 2016

*NOTE: On this trip they provided us with a very nice coat, it was part of the package.  But you will also need scarves, gloves, hat, very good wool socks, waterproof and windproof pants, they need to be warm.  Wool undergarments, and sheep skin lining for your boots (they provide the boots) also I HIGHLY recommend hand and feet warmers.   If you are in the zodiac for a long time with the cold water and wind you will get very cold.   Be prepared.   Be prepared to get in and out of a zodiac, walk in the snow, over slippery rocks, in water, on land, etc.   You will also be walking in a lot of animal poop.

Seeing Antarctica was an incredible experience.   Once in a lifetime thing.  I highly recommend you consider this adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 2016

My husband loves diving in the Galapagos Islands, this is his third trip.   It is one live-aboard that I do not go on with him because the currents are very strong, so snorkeling, though not impossible, is a real challenge.

So he decided to share part of the trip with me this time and do a week of land based stuff before he headed off to the boat and I came home.

We flew Delta airlines from Seattle to Atlanta and Atlanta to Quito.  Not a bad trip, about 13 hours all in all, with layovers.

We stayed a couple nites in Quito and used one day for walking the city.  We went to the large cathedral at the other end of town, and it was fantastic.  I love old churches, their history, the architecture, etc.  quito

This was almost the very top of the cathedral.  It was a great day and an incredible view. Cathedral

I recommend walking all of the cathedral. The stairs to the top on both sides etc.  You get a great view.  Its totally worth it.

We then went to Isabela Island, Galapagos.  It was wonderful.  We had such a great hotel right on the ocean.  Hotel La Casa Marita

  • The only thing negative I have to say about this particular hotel is that the food service is some of the slowest I have ever experienced.  One evening it took an hour and 1/2 just to get our meal.   I think they only have ONE cook for the entire hotel and maybe two servers.  And though I respect its “island time”, this was even to slow for us.  Two evenings of dinner, took over an hour.  If you want dinner quicker, you should start ordering around 5:00.  Not joking.

So we had a few activities planned here, first was hiking the Volcano Sierra Negra

Here are some good notes and advice before you hike this Volcano.

NOTE:  It is hot!  To actually enjoy your experience there are some things you need to have and know.

Wear a GOOD hat to keep the sun off your face, neck and chest.  (I always recommend the Tilly hats)  Remember you are at the Equator, the sun is brutal.  There are only a few places with shade on this walk, very few.   So make sure you also have a good sun protection shirt, light weight, but covering your chest, arms etc.   Good hiking boots and socks.  Also bring walking sticks!  Remember this is a 10 mile hike there and back. Good trekking, hiking pants and Sunscreen, sunglasses and chap-stick with SPF.  Also you will need to bring your own water on this trek.  I suggest something like this:  Water Bottle .  If you are hiking with someone, like a friend or a spouse, you will really need three of these bottles between the two of you.  Or two bottles a piece.  You will be glad you had them, you will drink all that water on this hike.  ALSO they provide you with a lunch, (as it was) it was bread with cheese in the middle and some fruit.  I suggest you bring your own snacks, peanut butter crackers, protein meat sticks, protein bars.  (you can bring these items into Galapagos, but you cannot bring seeds, fresh fruit, or cooked items) The hike is not difficult as far as terrain is concerned.  The last 30 minutes of the hike, you are actually on Lava rocks, that part can be brutal and by this time you are hot and tired.  

If you like hiking, this is worth it.  You leave early in the morning and are home around 2:00 in the afternoon, so you have plenty of time to freshen up, enjoy the beach and a few cocktails before dinner.

We also did some snorkeling with white tip sharks and rays and tons of other fish.  This snorkel is about an hour long.  The water is COLD!  I recommend you bring your own wet-suit, fins, mask etc.  (if you bring your own a three mill will probably be sufficient) I used a lava core bottom and a shark skin, short sleeve top.  It was perfectly warm for the entire snorkel and the boat ride home with no issues.  (but you can rent your gear from the boat if you choose)

We also did a morning of Kayaking.  We had a private guide and we got to see some really cook stuff!  Rays jumping out of the water, penguins that came right up to our Kayak, sea lions, etc.  It was really fun.  Even if you have never kayaked before, you can totally do this.  We had a great time.  The waters are pretty calm.  This is about an hour long.

Ecuador was a surprising adventure!  It is modern, clean, beautiful beaches, friendly people, inexpensive.  The food was not exceptional but it was still good.  The wines are nice, and nothing is outrageously expensive.

If you are diving here dry suits are usually the norm.  The water is very cold.  But the diving is for experienced divers.  The currents can be very bad.

I highly recommend Ecuador and the Islands, for a quick getaway or even a honeymoon.  The beaches are beautiful, the ocean amazing.

Cheers!

 

 

The British Virgin Islands 2016

So here we are another adventure under our belts!

Brad and I had a Tekdive show to attend in Miami so we met our friends in Tortola on a Sunday evening.

It was a pretty easy flight for us, Seattle to Miami and Miami to Tortola.  You can land there at the tiny airport and then take a morning ferry to the docks where you boat is waiting.

Let me go back a bit.  In 2004 my husband and I had decided that living on a Catamaran sometime in our retirement years, would be something to consider.  So we went to DC the next year for the Boat Show.  There we fell in love with Catamarans.  Especially the  Lagoon Catamarans.  We have seen them, walked on them, become familiar with them and have been watching them grow and change over the past 15 years or so.    Last year we went back to the boat show to see the Lagoons again, along with 100’s of other catamarans.   This time we knew which boat we loved, its the one we first fell in love with, the 42 foot Lagoon.  What a great boat!  Plenty of room, not to big, built to order.   🙂

We then decided to go ahead and charter this particular boat from The Catamaran company.   We got a great deal!  We spoke with 5 of our friends and when they were all in, we chartered it!  7 days in the BVI’s.   We paid $1200.00 extra the week for a captain, but otherwise we decided that we were all competent adults and didn’t need a full crew.   So for the 7 of us, with a captain and food, it was $4000.00 a couple for the 7 days.  Great deal!

BVI girls

So back to where I was… The Catamaran company handles most everything for you, you decide what food you want on the boat, what booze you want on the boat, and the day you arrive they deliver it all to the boat.   Then you and your friends put it in its place.  Brad and I had a   TekDive USA show to attend in Miami so we met our friends already on the boat.

One couple flew from their home in Texas, to Miami and then to Tortola.  Our other local friends flew from Seattle to Miami and on to Tortola.  You then take a cab to the ferry dock and the ferry to where the boats are docked.

The boat is roomy, with a large kitchen, sitting area.  There were 4 full cabins and 4 full heads on this boat.   It was the perfect size for the 7 of us.  The fly bridge was large enough for the captain and for 4 or more friends to sit with the captain and gab and keep him or her company.  When Brad was captaining the boat, he loved having people hang out with him up there.   And it has a great view.

Then we sailed each afternoon, usually to a place where we tied up to a buoy, and then we could swim, snorkel, swim to the beach, etc.   Most days we snorkeled, floated on rafts, swam, etc.  Then when we were done we would sail to the island that we would anchor or tie up to for the evening.

Brad and his friend Shawn did some open circuit diving three mornings out of the 7.  The captain arranged for a SCUBA boat to meet us and take the guys and bring them back in the afternoon.  Easily arranged at the Dive shop where your boat is docked.

We had ordered enough food on the boat to be able to have three meals a day for all of us. Plus snacks, fruit, etc.  So we only ate out to dinner one evening on land.  Otherwise the boat is equipped with a stove, an oven, and a grill on the back deck.  Two freezers and two refrigerators.

We all pitched in with the cleaning, the cooking, the chopping, the grilling.   We were a great team.  The 7 of us got along great on this trip and we had a blast.

I totally recommend doing this trip with your friends.   Its easy, inexpensive and you see some of the most beautiful places.

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NOTE: The BVI’s are clean, modern and beautiful.  Remember you will need your passport as it is partially British property.  As I always recommend, take your passports wherever you travel, its just the smart move.   Also, this time of year was not too hot, it was just right.  We did have one nasty day of rain, but it was our last day sailing back.   There were minimal mosquitoes.   But take bug spray and or wipes.  Take sunscreen, take a good hat, and bring your own beach towel or towels as they do not provide that.   There is minimal marinades on the boat, if you want to marinade say your meats, bring stuff for that. Otherwise the boat is pretty well stocked with everything.   You can get long hot showers when you dock if you prefer that over using the showers on the boat.  But there is plenty of water as long as you are cautious about its use.

Its also a great way to bond with people.  You get time to talk, play cards, lay in the sun, drink, eat, etc.   I am so glad we decided to take on this adventure and so glad we got to share it with some of our very dear friends.

Cheers!!