Featherdale Wildlife Park

Source: Featherdale Wildlife Park

We recently came back from a trip to Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Hawaii.  I plan to start blogging about the trip soon.

For now, wanted to share our picture at Featherdale Wildlife Park outside of Sydney where we had our picture taken with a sleeping Koala Bear.


Australia was wonderful…great people, great sights and wonderful landscapes.

More soon.  Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

Salt Point State Park, California

Salt Point State Park and nearby areas

In late November we were back at one of our favorite places, the north coast of California.We drive thru Petaluma, CA and out to the coast on the Bodega Bay Highway until we connected with Highway 1.  After going north, we reached a beautiful spot where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean at Jenner, CA. The beach changes with the seasons and is not always open to the river.

During this trip while doing some work on our cabin, I had the opportunity to join some wonderful ladies that have an unusual hobby. Particularly considering that most of the group is past retirement age!


Salt Point Visitors center sits above Gerstle Cove

Below, the view from the back of the visitors center looking at Gerstle Cove which is a Marine Reserve.

The women try to get together weekly to put on their wetsuits. Grab their fins and masks and hike down to the Salt Point State Park Gerstle Cove shore.  From there they swim out into the cove, snorkel, ‘bob’ around and spend an enjoyable time checking out the seals, fish and underwater views in this protected cove.  After their ‘bobbing’ the ‘Bobettes’ as they call themselves, hike up to the top of the hill to dry off, and have a cup of hot tea and snacks before heading off for their workday in the local area.  I find it quite amazing that they do this almost weekly all year.  They have no concerns that no one is on shore waiting for them to check if they are safe.  They say that they can all take care of themselves and each other.  How brave and empowering! Of course, they say, ‘it’s no big deal’.


Final steps before heading out, note that one woman is already past the surf line


Paddling out into the cove


The small black dots are the ‘bobettes’ near the entrance to the cove


The cove down at the water line


Looking from the cove up to the Visitors Center

The Salt Point State Park area is quite large with various sections.  It includes two campgrounds, various small parking areas off Highway 1 and some lovely trails both along the shore and in the dense Redwood, Pine and Douglas Fir forest areas.

At the North end of Salt Point Park, the Kruse Rhododendron Trail is great anytime, but probably most lovely in May when the wild Rhododendrons and wild Azaleas are in bloom.  The short loop trail has lots to see.  If you have more time, there are also longer trails nearby.  During the raining season many types of mushrooms grow, some of which are deadly if eaten.


Baby mushrooms just coming up


Large mushrooms, some are up to 5 inches across

At Stump Beach, there is a parking lot, picnic tables and trails.  Our favorite trail is down to Stump Beach itself.  This is not an area to access the ocean but it is a beautiful place to look at the ocean.  Stump Beach has tremendous waves that can sneak onto the beautiful beach and quickly sweep you out to sea.  This is not a place to turn your back on the ocean!

From the beach is an easy trail to climb to the bluffs along the ocean.  In the spring this trail is filled with wild flowers.  In the fall and winter, it is filled with breathtaking ocean views of crashing waves. The last time we took this trail we were lucky enough to see a sea otter hauled out on the rocks below the bluffs. The trail can be followed back to the main parking areas at Salt Point State Park and down to Gerstle Cove which is often a great place to enter the ocean.


Back at the outer edge of Gerstle Cove


Walking trail from parking area near Gerstle Cove

It’s nice to think about these nice hikes and sunny days as I sit today watching another snow storm in Truckee.  This has been quite a winter. More snow in January 2017 than the average snowfall for a full season.  Unfortunately, we have not had an average snow season for over 5 years.  We have snow piled everywhere and they say to expect 1 foot to 3 feet more snow before the end of this weekend!  At least, for now, California is no longer in drought conditions. Yeah!  However, due to global climate change they say that we can expect more extreme weather patterns with long periods of drought followed by storms with erratic yearly patterns.  It has been over 10 years since we have had anything close to this much snow around the house.


Digging our our friends car, late January 2017. Notice how high the snow is piled around the driveway! Still that high!

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com

US National Parks blog to visit

If you haven’t already found this blog, please take a minute to look at the beautiful photos and information about United States National Parks.  The photos are exquisite and the writing about the visits is wonderful.  I highly recommend following it so you get their updates.  For now, here is a link to all the parks they plan to visit and each one with a photo instead of just a title is where they have already visited.  I usually go to the site and do one park a day when I want to ‘arm chair travel’.  I just started following this blog when they were at Glacier Bay National Park .   Hope you like this blog as much as I do!

The Greatest Road Trip blog link.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  We are blessed with health, friends and family and hope you have many blessings too.

Below are a couple of pictures to inspire your journeys to US National Parks:


Grand Canyon National Park


Mt. Lassen at Lassen Volcano National Park

Grand Canyon picture is from a 2015 trip that I should write up for you.  The Mt. Lassen picture is from the Highway 89 road trip posts.

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com



Galapagos – 20, Goodbye to the Galapagos

Enjoy the magnificence of the Galapagos Islands! These beautiful photos are from our amazing naturalist, Andrés Moreano.  He did an absolutely wonderful job leading our tours on all the islands, helping everyone with photo ideas and always trying to help our group see everything possible on our trip.

We enjoyed Peru and the Galapagos Islands so much!  It truly was a trip of a lifetime.  We hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts and maybe it has inspired you to plan your own ‘bucket list’ trip.  At the very least, we hope you enjoy this as ‘armchair travel’ and it inspires you to find out more about these wonderful places.  We are so thankful to the Anahi Catamaran for the outstanding crew, captain, tours, food and accommodations. Also, Rainforest Cruises for helping us select this boat and upgrading our cabin on this amazing trip.

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com

Galapagos – 19, More Tortoises!

Not ready to leave the Anahi, I do believe we should have taken the 15 day trip! Up early and we bring our airport bags down to the main deck.  The crew takes the bags and leaves us with just our backpacks for the days adventure.  We take our last trip in the panga to the boat dock at Puerta Ayora, Santa Cruz island. Part of our group had stayed on this island before the cruise and some were staying here tonight.

We took a walk up the main street to meet a bus to the Charles Darwin Station which is a research and animal protection facility.


The long paved road up to the facility

The facility has many areas of study but we were focusing on the Giant Tortoise Restoration Program area. Lonesome George was the mascot of this facility.  Lonesome George died in 2012 but his fame has helped to keep and expand the tortoise breeding programs. There are over a dozen types of tortoises in the Galapagos and the most defining feature is the rise in the carapace which determines how far they can raise their head to reach for food.  You will notice differences in the pictures below.


Notice how high they can lift their head to reach food




Close up


Tortoise in motion


Showing their flexible legs


They move faster than you’d expect


The facility also protects endangered Land Iguanas

After about an hour at the Charles Darwin Research Center we took a long bus ride to the highland area of Santa Cruz.  We went to Rancho Manzanillo. This part of the island was much more wooded. Not trees like you would see in the mountains of the Hawaiian Islands, but small diameter and shorter trees. Here was a large tortoise reserve and it had quite a nice facility to greet guests and serve lunch.  They allowed us to walk quite a bit of the reserve.


Rancho Manzanillo, Santa Cruz Island welcome area and restaurant

This place is set up for large groups but don’t let that stop you from going and wandering the large grounds where the tortoises can live freely in an environment that offers them everything they need.


This gives you an idea of the trees and area where the tortoises live


Tortoise coming towards us on the path


Large fresh water area for the tortoises to cool off


Tortoise at the side of the pond


Tortoise in the covered area


Large tortoise


Anther large tortoise

We enjoyed walking this area and seeing the tortoises in a more natural habitat than at the Charles Darwin Station.


Not my most flattering picture, but it does give you the size of the tortoises

Next, it was back onto the bus and finding out how we would get to Baltra Island and the airport.  We found this very interesting, particularly if we were to come back and stay on one of the islands.  I posted the instructions that were on the wall at the airport at the start of the blog.  But since we were being escorted, I really didn’t pay close attention.  However, after understanding that you must have a boat pick you up to get to any land accommodations from the airport, I was now much more interested.

The bus took us down a narrow two lane road, with many taxis and buses parked hugging the side of the road.  Obviously, they were waiting for a ferry to arrive and pick up passengers.  This was the ferry we would take.  We departed the bus and walked to the ferry landing.  There, we noticed our luggage being put on top of a small passenger boat, which we found out was the ferry.

All went well.  It seems that we were picked up almost at the same location that the pangas picked us up to get on the Anahi.  At the other side was a bus that took everyone to the airport.  We had a couple of hours before our flight to Quito, Ecuador. The Galapagos Airport had a large shopping mall of stalls and a few take out restaurants to pass the time.

We had booked ourselves from the Galapagos to Quito to Atlanta to San Francisco with about 3 hours between flights which was not smart.  If we had to do again we would have done something different.  Staying in Quito was not appealing since the only flight out was very early in the morning, 5:30 AM. If we could have found a later flight that would have been best. Alternatively, we arrived in Atlanta at 8:30 am in the morning and maybe should have just spent the day and night at an airport hotel and fly home the next day.  But we made it.  We have done worse! Somehow, leaving SFO at 7 am to Atlanta, GA then to Lima, Peru did not seem near as bad as the flights home.  But we did pick up a bug the last day of the cruise and I’m sure that didn’t help our flights!

Overall, an amazing trip.  Peru and the Galapagos Islands exceeded our expectations and we highly recommend doing this trip whenever you can! One more post to follow, it will showcase the beautiful pictures from Andres Moreano.

Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com

Galapagos – 18, April 28, 2016, Amazing Floreana Island and Post Office Bay

Today is our last island and snorkeling day!  Have to make the most of it. Also, this is our last day with Andres as our guide which is sad.  He has been amazing. Floreana is one of the southernmost islands of the Galapagos.


Temperature most days has been between 30 to 31 C (85 to 88 degrees F). So you can see why it was nice to hike in the fog some days. Today we had breakfast on the second deck rather than in the dining room, nice views.


View of Devils Crown islands where we will snorkel later today

We took pangas to  Cormorant Point on Floreana  Island.  Very unique experience as the the water was cold on Devils Crown side where we disembarked the pangas.  But, we hiked across island and the water was very warm.  At first we said,” can we go in?” Andres said, “no”…more about that later.

As we took the path across the island we had the opportunity to see more more flamingos and babies.

The babies were almost white as they have not eaten enough shrimp to turn pink! Unfortunately, the pictures of the babies did not come out.


Flamingos feeding

We hiked over the hill to the other side to a beautiful beach with warm water.


Trail to the other side


Beautiful beach

As we walked, some immediately tested the water and it was so warm and inviting.  Andres said, “first let’s walk over here”. He showed us the turtle nesting grounds up away from the beach.  At this time, just the trails of the turtles were left no turtles.


Stop sign, no walking above this line to protect the turtle nesting area

The Andres directed our attention back to the shore break.  You could see dark images in the surf line, these were rather large sharks (4 to 6 ft long) that patrol this beach just circling round from one end of the beach and back.  Hence, he didn’t recommend we go into this water!


Shark fin


See the dark shape just past the wave?


Two sharks in the wave

Along with the sharks we saw some stingrays in the waves.

We hiked back and took pangas to the boat and had a break until 10:30 am.  Then we all got ready for our deep water snorkel which had us snorkeling all the way around Devils Crown. Very clear water, many fish, some sharks that Bob and others saw.  This was a great snorkel.  One side had a steep drop off into the deep water and the other side was like a large rocky bottom tide pool about 15 to 25 feet in places.  The snorkeling was beautiful.

Everyone was ready to dry off, talk about what they had seen and enjoy the lunch BBQ on the 2nd deck.

Well, I can see I had a faulty memory as Jeff and Lori are obviously still here.  They didn’t leave after 5 days as I said in an earlier post.

After lunch we took pangas to Post Office Bay to check for postcards to deliver. Post Office Barrel is a big deal for many and most of the cruise ships stop here along with small tours.  The barrel stop is old, they say it was the sailors post office.  It began with ships stopping at the Galapagos to pick up stores and a barrel was set up for other ships to pick up mail to carry on if they were going to a destination marked on the letter. The barrel has been replaced and now it is a fun activity for tourists to pick up and drop off a post card to have it hand delivered.  We picked up a card and hand delivered it to an Oakland, CA family after we got home. Some people just take the cards back to their country and put them in the post too.

Then we walked back to the beach.  This was supposed to be time to relax, walk around or  snorkel from the beach.  The crew and Andres all went to a nearby soccer field for some time off and a game.  Unfortunately, the beach had lots of biting flies so we stayed in the water up to our necks or snorkeled.  It was almost impossible to escape the flies.  This was the only time we had run into this situation on our trip. Luckily, we also saw 2 penguins on the rocky beach when we were in the pangas.  Supposedly, we should have seen seahorses near the rocky shore area, but I don’t think any of the group found them.  We did see lots of fish and rays.

Back to the ship to clean up for dinner and final briefing.  Tomorrow, we split up into two groups; those going to the airport and those staying on the islands.  Our group was the airport group and we were to have a new guide for our trip to the airport and stops along the way.


Our last sunset in the Galapagos Islands

Back to Galapagos – 17
Back to Galapagos – 16
Galapagos – 19

I have two more posts planned for this series, please check back soon.

Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com





Galapagos – 16, Great Frigate Birds

Enjoy these pictures of Great Frigate Birds, it was mating season and they seemed to be on all the islands.  The males have the red pouch under their throat which they inflate to attract female birds whenever the females fly over the males.  Sometimes the females are impressed and land next to the male birds and sometimes they just ignore them.  Then the crowd of male birds let the bladder deflate and wait for the next flyover. Great Frigate birds do not land in the water, their preferred food is various types of boobies and smaller birds but they also hook fish near the service with their beaks.  Fantastic birds to watch!

Also, I finally can show you Kai’s video that he put together from the first 5 days of our cruise with underwater shots.  He did a great job showing the different areas.  He is the photographer in the video and his companion is shown in many of the shots.

Great Frigate Bird Photos


Frigate bird soaring, they do no to into the water but can catch fish on the surface


Male frigate bird hitching a ride on the Anahi


Female Frigate hitching a ride on the Anahi


Juvenile Frigate bird in flight

Close up shots of the male Great Frigate Bird displaying for the females from our naturalist


Look at me!


Ok, I’m waiting


Really, no ones interested?


Finally, a couple!

I am adding these picture posts as short posts as I prepare the final posts.

Galapagos – 15
Galapagos – 17
Galapagos – 19


  Start Hyw 89 seriesStart Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series |

Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates.  We never share your email.
Interested in a vacation in Hawaii?  Check out our friends units at SurfCondo.com