Galapagos – 17 – Wed, April 16, 2016, Española Island

We went to Española island in the morning, also known as Hood Island. This volcanic island was formed from one volcano.  We had a dry landing and walked the island to see Marine Iguanas, just one pair of nesting blue footed boobies, but many other blue footed boobies moving about, lava lizards, mocking birds and some juvenile Nazca boobies.

Above was just the first few minutes getting off the panga


Notice the group of Marine Iguanas, they are hard to see

This was our first time seeing the endemic Albatross.  They mate on this island.  The males arrive first, then the females. Each time a female flies over the males get up and make noise. They pair for life and come back to the same nesting site, although the birds will change mates if one does not come back.  It takes approximately 45 days for an egg to hatch; then they care and feed hatch-ling for about 5 months.  The Albatross leave the island separately after about 5 months.  The offspring will come back to the same island but not for 5 years when they are ready to mate.  We saw the territorial fights of young males coming back into nesting areas trying to hold an area and attract a female.


This is the landscape where the Albatross nest

We walked to the cliff area and watched the blow hole.


Walking across the island to the cliff side


A pair of Blue Footes Boobies we passed on our way across the island


The blow hole and cliff area, lots of birds, seals and marine iguanas

Near the end of the 2.5 hour walk we saw 2 Galapagos Hawks.  Many males will mate with one female and then all of them will feed the hatch-ling. The most common food for hawks are Marine Iguanas.


Galapagos Hawk, they keep their distance from tourists

We went back to boat had lunch and they moved the boat to a deep water snorkel at Gardner Island, which is just off shore of Española Island.

Much clearer water than yesterday. Small area with lots of rocks on the bottom with a very steep drop off.  Some also saw more Galapagos sharks.  We also saw rays, many types of tropical fish and schools of brightly colored fish.


2nd deck of the Anahi with Gardiner Island in the background

Briefly back on the boat, then off to Gardner Bay to a very long, fine white sand beach.  Shallow snorkeling, swimming, walking along the beach. Aqua marine water, sort of shallow and quite warm today.

Great day and a beautiful evening!



Anahi in the sunset

Galapagos – 18
Galapagos – 16

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Galapagos – 15, Tortoises on San Cristobal Island

Day 13, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 San Cristobal Island land tours

Another early breakfast then back on the panga (rubber boats like Zodiacs used to get to/from the ship) to town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island.  We went by bus for approximately 45 min to Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado or Cerro Colorado Galapagos which is a Giant Tortoise Breeding Station and protected area for tortoises.  This area is also part of the National Park. This is a large area and facility.


A tortoise using the walkway into the center

Saw baby Tortoise about 1 month up to 200 years old.  Also saw 10 year olds.  The 10 to 20 year old ones are only about 15 inches across,  they stay separate from the mature ones. The older ones cannot be returned to the wild but the hatch-lings are kept until 5 years old and then released on the island.  They try to simulate actual conditions with the hatch-lings so they can be released. Only 14 eggs are laid,  versus 100’s for sea turtles.  Mature ones can go a year without food or water. Eggs are not sex determined when laid.  A higher temp incubation produces female eggs, colder males. According to our guide, the program manipulates the temperature based on what they want to put into the wild.

Tortoises come together to feed or mate, generally they are solitary


We even saw mating tortoises as we walked the reserve.  You hear them first!

Stayed in town after the bus trip. Bought drinks and used WiFi at the restaurant as we didn’t have any WiFi on the boat. We went back to the boat for lunch. Baby sea lion came all the way up to 1st deck and was checking out the shoes, then decided to take a nap.


Seal came up to the deck


Seal decided to nap; so Bob imitated the seal

We sadly said goodbye to the 7 group members that had signed up for just 5 days.  Most left before lunch and a few left after lunch.  Today 8 more passengers arrived for the last 3 days of the cruise.

Went to a natural history museum for Galapagos after lunch. The architect for the building was our guide Andreas’ father.  Covered the history both cultural and physical for the Galapagos Islands. Centro de Interpretacaion Ambiental Gianni Arismeni.

Then went to public beach in town. Went in the water to cool off, surprisingly cold water. Stayed about 1.5 hours there then walked back to town, about 10 minutes.  Got picked up by the panga at the dock and went back to the boat to meet our new group members.


One of the many tour stores in town


Beautiful sunset while we waited for the panga

Another good day given it was a transition day for the ships crew.  Next up Espanola Island with many animals to see.

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Galapagos – 14

Monday, April 25, 2016, Pitt Point, Kicker Rock, San Cristobal Island, Lobos Island


Day 4 Schedule


East & West Itineraries

Early breakfast at 6:30am so that we could hike the San Cristobal island trail from 7:15 to 9:30 at Pitt point or Punta Pitt.  We had a wet beach landing and shoe change.  Then up the beach passing sea lions to take the trail up into the mountains. We went about up for about 25 min on a rocky, steep trail to midway up the Ash Mountain  (very much like shale rock). Then we did a trail around the flat plateau and saw an amazing amount of Blue Footed Boobies both doing mating dances and some nesting with their eggs.  To think I almost didn’t go on this hike because Andres had said that if you start you must finish as he couldn’t break up the group.  I didn’t want my fear of heights to spoil this for the group.  I spoke with Andres separately and he encouraged me that from what he’d seen me do, I would do fine.  And I did! The Adventurous Chicken is doing more!


The beautiful beach at Pitt Pt. Much larger than it looks from this distance.


Thru the vegetation to the trail up the mountain; we will come back to see the sea lions

At the point where we stopped climbing, the trail leveled out to an gentle incline along a plateau over to the cliff area.  As we walked we saw the mating dance of blue footed boobies multiple times.  Closer to the cliffs, we saw the ‘Changing of the guard ‘ as the male or female bird would take turns sitting on the eggs while the other bird went out to feed.   Blue footed boobies often sit on 3 eggs. Andres said that most likely only 2 will hatch and then probably one will make it.  We only saw 2 eggs at most, as other birds and reptiles will steal the eggs when they can.  Boobies whistles are male, female sound is more like a honk. Females also have larger eyes, actually it is the pupil. Male pupil is smaller than the females. So it looks like they have smaller eyes.

 The sequence of steps we saw for the mating dance

( I wish I could put the video here for you to hear the whistles and honks as they go thru this.  When I get Kai’s video and Bob’s  video’s ready for the website, I will put a link on the last page.  I think I will be able to put the video’s on another site of mine and then just link to it.)  Click on the above pictures and you can see them using a carousel slideshow.

The picture below by Annie and Ryan is a great still capture of the fancy footwork that goes on during this dance.

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Blue Footed Boobies, fancy footwork!

In the distance we saw red footed boobies in the trees. Many small lizards. Continuing on the trail towards the cliffs we saw Blue Footed Bobbies with eggs.  Both the female and male take turns sitting on the eggs and going out to see to feed.  Below is a sequence of photos where we witnessed the changing of the sitting bird.

Walking to the cliff area we saw many more birds and views back down the trail. It was a wonderful hike!

Then back down the trail. Fog lifted. Much warmer. We were very lucky to have an early time for the hike. This is supposed to be the hardest hike on the 8 day trip. Many other groups were just coming up.

We had time to see the sea lions now.


All ready for my picture!

Time to head back to the Anahi, we took off our shoes, rinsed shoe bottoms and got back in the pangas.  They took us on a panga tour around a small volcanic rock island to see many sea lions, 2 pelicans, tons of storm petrals, frigate birds soaring, both blue and red footed boobies on the ledges.

Back on the boat, we change to swim suits and sail to Kicker Rock for another deep water snorkel.  Plan is to see big fish and sharks there. Kicker Rock is also known as Leon Dormido, sleeping lion.  Shape of rocks can be interpreted as a lion laying down.
Snorkeling was advanced, deep water and current. Saw many big Galapagos Sharks with white line on body. Bat rays and Manta rays.  The visibility was ok, not as good as yesterday. They say visibility changes approx every 15 days. Coldest water gives the best visibility at Kicker Rock.


Kicker Rock in the distance


First view of Kicker Rock

The many views of Kicker Rock as we sailed around it


Note the panga, it gives you an idea of the size of Kicker Rock. Again, need to post the underwater video to give the full impact of this snorkel.

Next we took the pangas to Lobos Island to see more sea lions, frigate birds, boobies, sally light-foot grabs and pelicans. Interesting geology as the island was formed as the volcano pushed up the island leaving the old island where what is now coral sand and all along the shore is pillow volcanic rock that formed under water and now surrounds the island.  The  coral sand is back from the surf line anywhere from 20 to 100 ft.


The rocks are ‘pillow volcanic rocks’. Kicker Rock in the background.


Lizard on ‘pillow rock’


Protecting his female


Rejected suitor taking off


Our wonderful group, unfortunately 7 of the group signed up for just 5 days. Our group got along so well, we hated to see them go!

Sailed to main town on San Cristobal, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the area and a harbor. Went in to check emails and walk around the town. Many day trip tours can be done from here. The is very nice.  This would be a good place to stay for part of a trip here if we came back to do day trips from the islands.


Beautiful town from the harbor, we went in on the pangas


Beautiful sunset to end a fantastic day!


Captain and crew at evening cocktails for part of the groups last night


More of the great crew

Farewell to these new friends and Kai, Karla and Sayoa that for some reason I don’t have pictures to share.

The end to an exhilarating and wonderful day.  Tomorrow,  we go to see tortoises. New passengers will join after lunch tomorrow.

Galapagos – 13

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Fall Roadtrip..Crater Lake, Klamath Falls and home

We slept in and then left Medford via Oregon Hyw 62 to Crater Lake.  The storm had brought in rains and winds but we decided to keep our plans to go to Crater Lake and then over to Klamath Falls for the night. Off we went towards Crater Lake with the big Pacific Northwest Storm making itself known.  But we had some beautiful trees on the way!


The vibrant red just doesn’t show up with the rain


Beautiful color contrasts

We stopped at a Rouge River trail and scenic overlook to see and hear the power of the flowing river.


The beautiful river

As we were enjoying the beautiful autumn colors of all the trees, I spotted a car coming towards us with snow on the roof.  The outside temperature was about 48 so we assumed it must have snowed overnight at Crater Lake. As we continued on, snow was along side the road.  Then as we got to the Visitors Center it was snowing, heavily!  Snow was not a problem for our Subaru but surprised us. Luckily, the park service does plow part of the roads and will open up more roads after a storm has passed.

Most of the park roads were closed due to the snow. But they were plowing the road from the Steel Visitors Center to the Rim Village and Crater Lake Lodge which normally have spectacular views of Crater Lake.


Our disappointing view at the Rim atop Crater Lake

We saw a flyer for this Historic Hotel and may give it a try next time we go to Crater Lake from Oregon. If you want to see some beautiful photos and information about Crater Lake check out this site.

We stopped into the Rim Visitors Center, Store and Cafe and drove past the Crater Lake Lodge which was open but very quiet. Luckily we had been to the lake in summer about 20 years ago, but we will be back! We drove out of the park and headed towards Klamath Falls, Oregon.


Beautiful fall foliage



Looking out at the beautiful sky & pasture land on the way to Klamath Falls

Klamath Falls was not nearly as busy as the town I remember from my Southern Pacific days visiting there for work.  But the Klamath upper and lower lakes are very pretty and we had a great dinner at the local pub, Klamath Basin Brewing Company.  Best fries I can remember and great Rib Platter and many good beers on tap.  Bob really liked their Notch Eight IPA, I was driving.

Leaving Klamath Falls until we reached I5, we had some rain, but also some beautiful views.


Rainbows along Highway 62 heading toward I5

Our trip home was long with terrible weather from Weed, CA until we got down to Corning on I5.  The storm hit northern California and we had lots of wind and rain.  Three big rigs jack-knifed on the windy I5 it what seemed like 25 miles.  It was evident that some of the trucks were going way to fast for that weather.  Originally, we had thought about extending the trip from Klamath Falls either by staying in Shasta City or going over to the California coast but the weather deterred us, so we carried on home.


So much rain!

Well, sadly all good trips must come to an end so you can take time to plan another one! Also, I need time to finish the Galapagos Island posts.

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Fall Roadtrip. .Southern Oregon 

Up early and we took Oregon Hwy 238 from Medford, thru Jacksonville and out to Applegate to visit our friends, Marcos and Heidi. They bought a 68 acres abandoned farm with woodland area last year. It’s their new ‘life project’ to renew the farm land with grape vines, large vegetable garden and remodel the 100 year old farmhouse from the ground up while living in it. Also, they plan to recondition many of the outbuildings for farm use again.


Looking down on the farm house and out buildings from the wooded hillside

The area is beautiful and they are working very hard to dry in the house and prepare the land before winter arrives.


The hillside where they are preparing to plant a vineyard.  It is all prepared and should be planted April 2017.


Great ‘Crooked Barn’ that they plan to restore for use but keep the ‘crooked’ look.

With a light rain falling, we walked the farm and heard their wonderful plans.


Marcos and Heidi taking their first day off in many months to take us wine tasting.

Then we decided to go wine tasting at a few of the Applegate Valley’s wineries. All were great! So nice to visit on a weekday and enjoy the beautiful trees and gardens in bloom.

First, was Red Lily Vineyards. Beautiful barn restored and reinforced for an event center, nice tasting room and a large winery operation building all tied together with the same architecture. Tastings were ‘testings’ and presented in test tubes lined up in a wooden test tube holder.

Next on to Troon Winery set up as a Tuscan villa with beautiful gardens and cooking class kitchen. The tasting room bar is set up so that guests look out large bay windows to a perfect view of the vines and the mountains. Irina introduced us to the Troon wines, she is a very knowledgeable sommelier and created a great experience.

Next we went to Wooldridge Creek Winery and Creamery.  They also had wonderful wines and gardens too.  With the added joy of various goat cheeses made on the premises available for purchase. Their website also has many wonderful recipes.

Last but not least, we went to Plaisance Ranch which is both an active cattle ranch and great winery. We were given a tour of the facilities and enjoyed a full discussion of wine making with the wine maker and his wife, Joe and Suzi. They were very generous with their time, wine and information. I encourage you to explore their website as it is filled with story, history, recipes and beautiful photography. The wines are wonderful and not to be missed!



Joe, winemaker and owner

The end to a perfect day was a BBQ at Marcos and Heidi’s friends house as the big storm moved in. We cannot thank Heidi and Marcos and Tom enough for such a wonderful day and great dinner company


We were probably a little ‘tipsy’ by the end of the day, but Heidi was driving!

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Fall Roadtrip..Burney Falls, CA

A beautiful morning, had a quick breakfast at our motel. Then headed back to Hyw 89 North to Burney Falls State Park.  We heard about this from our good friends that passed thru this region as they completed the Pacific Crest Trail this year.
First, we drove out to Lake Britton which is part of the park. Beautiful tree lined lake, so quiet now.  But you could imagine it packed during summer. We loved the stillness and watching the fish jump in the lake.


Lake Britton, large side


Lake Britton, opposite the boat docks

Next, Burney Falls. ..Unbelievable; the beauty, full and powerful sound of the falls!


Location Map


Burney Falls details


Bob and Vicki, picture from the overlook

We walked from the lookout point to the loop trail down to the falls.

Then, across the bridge to up above the falls where we saw some fisherman. What a gorgeous walk for an early morning.


The falls thru the trees near the top of the loop trail


The stream, just above the falls

We followed Hwy 89 North to Shasta City.


Mt. Shasta from Hwy 89

We have driven Hwy 5 many times to Shasta Lake and beyond but had never stopped in the town of Shasta Lake. What a nice town, vibrant yet quaint.   We had even better views of Mt. Shasta which stands at 14,752 ft.


Mt. Shasta from Town of Mt.Shasta

Finally,  had to get on Hyw 5 to make it to Oregon.  Very different landscape near Weed, CA. Reminds me of coming into Southern Spain thru the mountains towards Malagra.

We stopped in Ashland, OR to walk thru Lithia Park, around downtown and to peek into the Shakespeare Theater. We had attended a few performances there when our daughter was in High School.  Unfortunately, we had not made reservations ahead so we just enjoyed the town.

From there we drove the back roads to Jacksonville and Medford. Everywhere you looked, the trees were putting on a display of colors. Beautiful country with vineyards and small farms. We forgot to take pictures in Jacksonville,  but it is so cute and walking friendly that I recommend everyone plan a visit there.

Stayed in Medford, OR for two nights.  Tomorrow, off the visit our friends in Applegate Valley near Jacksonville.

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Fall Roadtrip..Hwy 89 North

Beautiful Highway 89 North from Truckee, CA.  We left Truckee searching for beautiful fall colors and new destinations for us.  Driving north towards Hobart Mills, thru the small cattle town of Sierraville, on to Graeale a golfers retreat, Quincy and Keddie. We had been this far in the past.


Small creek from Lake Almanor heading to the Feather River along Hyw 89


We continued on to Lake Almanor. A large lake with many access points and looks like it will require a return visit for kayaking next spring.


Lake Almanor near the dam.  A much larger lake than we expected.
Onward on Hwy 89, to the Scenic Volcano Legacy highway which leads into and out of Lassen Volcano National Park.


First view of Mt. Lassen in the background

Starting at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitors Center we oriented ourselves and set out to explore the park.


First stop,  ‘Sulphur Works’ to see the boiling mud pots which were very close to the road. Prior to the 1952 purchase of this area from the Supan family it had been a bathhouse and dining hall since 1865.


The Supan family operated a resort and dining hall


A sulfuric mud pot

We had a picnic at Lake Helen which is at the base of Lassen Peak.


Lake Helen


Lake Helen with Mt. Lassen in the background

Next stop was the Bumpass Hell parking area, overlook and trailhead. The trail is about 1.5 miles down to a great boardwalk thru the geothermal area. Then, be prepared for 1.5 miles back up, but well worth the hike. You may notice the altitude as the trail starts at 8,000 feet.


Trail view over Lassen Park


Beautiful stream, looking down from the trail


The mountains seem to go on forever


Looking down to see Bumpass Hell boardwalks


Making our way down to the boardwalks


One of the boiling pots


On the boardwalks


A large hydro thermal pool

We stopped at various view points on the 32 mile road thru the park.


Sun streaming in


More views of the park


Lassen Peak trail, see it?


Traditional Mt. Lassen shot with the snow

Our last areas were called ‘Devastated Area’  and ‘Chaos Crags’ and ‘Jumbles’ which helped to show the power of the volcanic eruptions in the 1800’s and 1914!


Moon over Chaos Craig Mountain area


Jumbles Scenic pullout –  rocks piled up to 300 ft deep, rocks were blasted out of mountain at 100 MPH during the eruptions in 1914 and 1915

A beautiful park which definitely needs more exploration and hiking. We didn’t realize that we could have downloaded an audio guide to all the points of interest before we went to the park.  Most of the part did not have cell service.  Go here to download the audio guide to your phone before going to Lassen Volcano National Park.

We continued north on Hwy 89 along the beautiful Hat Creek and it’s watershed area.  We turned onto Hwy 299 to spend the night at Burney, CA before we will continue north on Hwy 89.

Mostly an RV town with a few hotels.  We stayed at the Charms Motor Lodge which was basic but clean, remodeled and good for the night. Tomorrow, we visit Burney Falls.