MORE BONAIRE ADVENTURES
01 May 2015 | Kralendijk, Bonaire
When we arrived in Bonaire on Dec 11 we knew we were allowed to stay for 3 months, and then we had to apply for an extension for additional time - up to three months. So we went to Immigration and made an appointment for an extension interview on March 9, two days before our first three months ended. At that time we were given an application form and the agent went over the list of documents we would need to bring to the interview: passports, proof of income, and a "legalized certificate of good conduct" which we all assumed to be a notarized police report indicating we had never been arrested. In addition there was a hefty fee for the extension payable at the time of the interview, but broken over 6 months this seemed like a reasonable amount for the privilege of living here. (We also pay $10/day mooring fee.)
So we set about acquiring “a legalized certificate of good conduct” report from Portland Bureau of Police (after a google search indicated that they would provide such a search and a skype call told us they would also notarize the report! Lucky us! We had PBP send the report to our daughter Anna, who Fed Exed it to us in Bonaire.
On March 9, armed with all our information and cash, we headed back to Immigration. Everything was fine, e-x-c-e-p-t the certificate of good conduct – it needed an “official stamp,” but our Immigration agent could not tell us what that was nor who could provide it. We later learned that this stamp was actually an Apostille, and that the Secretary of State in Oregon could issue it. We made a new appointment for April 1 (too ironic!!) giving us three weeks to get the right stamp, and went away with a note on our immigration papers that we were “in process” and ok to stay. No cash echanged hands yet…
We FedExed the notarized Police Report back to Oregon to the SoS, and they sent the Apostille to our Portland address where Anna collected it and FedExed it down to us just in time. Expensive FedEx yoyo-ing.
April 1 we arrived back at Immigration for our interview and to confirm rumors we had been hearing for two days that a decision had just come down that US citizens could stay in Dutch countries for 6 months with no fee, no extension process and no Apostille. IT WAS TRUE!!! Jubilation! We just saved a TON of cash! WOW! Thankful that we had not had our papers in order March 9 (for we would have had to pay the hefty extension fee then) we went out with Tusen Takk II to celebrate with a lovely dinner and Prosecco.
What else have we been doing here? DIVING! We arrived with 27 dives, having just learned to dive last year in Carriacou in December 2013 and achieving Advanced Certification in May 2014 (also in Carriacou with wonderful Deefer Diving). Excellent diving instruction, great diving partners and friends – a young British couple who have a top-drawer operation in every respect. I am thankful every time I am underwater for Alex Ward’s brand of instruction, her joy in pointing out fish and creatures, and Deefer’s emphasis on safety. We have now each accomplished over 100 dives – and nearly 100 here in Bonaire! In Bonaire we can dive by ourselves – we do not need to go with a dive shop. We have gone on dive boats a couple of times to get to places too far to go in the dinghy, but we never could have been diving as much – too expensive. So we are thankful for Bonaire’s Marine Park and for the policy that allows independent diving.
We also attended a series of talks at the Center for Educational Exchange (CIEE) on the REEF program and Fish Identification. We were already coming back from each dive and riffling through the Fish ID books to learn what we had seen. Chuck and Barbara on Tusen Takk II are fabulous diving buddies and taught us a lot, as they are also interested in fish ID and are Level Three certified – so they know 150 fish. They sparked our interest in looking for the tiny stuff… the 1-2” fish, which are so cute and fun to watch – the Redlip Blenny, Yellowhead Jawfish, Cherubfish, Sunshinefish, Sailfin Blenny, Lantern Bass, etc. We studied our REEF books, took the test, and are now Level Two Certified! It has been fun to do the surveys – most dives we see around 60 species, and it gives a completely different perspective on a dive. Michael has a new underwater camera and enjoys capturing the fishes in photos. Check our blog gallery for some of his images!
When we arrived in Bonaire, the only people we knew were Chuck and Barbara on TTII. They knew Canadians Pam and Don on Dorothy Ellen – who got us all HOOKED on Gio’s Ice Cream! We are there very often. Then, Chuck and Barb were “virtually” introduced to friends of friends (Ron and Nancy who have a place on land here) and we met them at a very fun wine tasting – the store is in three garage-style storage units! It is an Ikea outlet and wine shop and every second Saturday of the month they put up long tables and many chairs out in the storage unit parking area and serve 6 glasses of wine for $10. And sell bottles for $6. It was great fun and we met more land-people…
…so then, the land-people and the boat-people got together regularly for holidays, birthdays, Burger Night on Wednesdays, Venezuelan Arepas Night on Fridays, Ribs on Sundays, other restaurants because we “had to try them out” and Gio’s for Ice Cream after each, sometimes riding in the back of Ron and Nancy’s pickup. And Ron and Nancy crammed us all in the pickup and we went shore diving several times.
Then, in February and March lots more American and Canadian cruiser friends arrived… so now we know at least half the boats in the harbor and there are lots more people to dive with, eat with, and have fun.
Klein Bonaire (an island just a mile west of the main island) is a hard place to get to in a dinghy because it is usually too windy, and has gorgeous dive sites. We have been over there several times when the wind is low, but when friends Jack and Jo on trawler Bodacious arrived, they suggested a picnic and dive at Klein, and they took 12 of us on their boat over to one of the most primo sites. VERY fun! Recently they took five of us up to a dive sight we had visited with a dive boat. “Carel’s Vision” is one of our favorite sites and much too far to go in a dinghy.
What else? We had dear friends Ron and Cinda visit and had a grand time diving and touring the island. Cinda brought Roberta a ukulele and she has enjoyed learning to play it and reacquainting herself with old camp songs. Boat jobs (not many!), two reef clean-up dives and thank-you BBQ’s, night dives, some shopping… it has been busy! But also relaxing. While diving takes up a good portion of a day by the time we get tanks, hook up everything, dinghy to the site, dive for an hour or more, get all the gear rinsed and return tanks, and get back to the boat and hang up wetsuits and BCD’s to dry, we also have time to read, sew, paint, organize computer files, etc. Roberta says she finally feels retired and can spend a whole afternoon reading a book without guilt!
And THEN… we spent a whole day in the central town of Rincon for the 25th Anniversary of Dia di Rincon. It was a fabulous day full of music, dancing and local culture. The King and Queen of Holland were honored guests throughout, and after the main parade at 3pm, they danced in the streets with us! WOW!
In a few weeks we will be off to Curacao to haul the boat and put her up for hurricane season. But we will return to Bonaire next year! We absolutely love this island and her people. And the diving…
A MONTH IN BONAIRE
10 January 2015 | Kralendijk, Bonaire
A MONTH IN BONAIRE
We are moored (no anchoring allowed here!) in front of Kralendik – a charming little town even when the cruise ships are here. It has not succumbed to the electronics/liquor/jewelry store outrageousness of other cruise ship ports, and has retained its local, hometown feeling. There are a few souvenir shops, lots of restaurants, good grocery stores, and many dive shops.
We have been hanging out with Barbara and Chuck Shipley of the motor vessel Tusen Takk II, a beautiful Kadey Krogen 48’ Trawler. Their trawler has far more space than Celilo, so we are over there fairly often to play cards and a game called Quiddler. It is fun to find another couple that likes to play card games – we have not found many in our life together. And they love to dive. We go almost every day. They have many more years of diving experience than we do and are great guides. They are also certified Reef fish identification experts, so we are learning many more species – especially the tiny, hard to see and identify fish. It is so fun to just pick up tanks, get ready, and go diving wherever we please with a choice of over 100 sites.
The diving here is fabulous, and each site is very different in the underwater structures and corals. At some the fish are slightly different. Some are gorgeous coral gardens, and some are bare, rocky-looking walls, but with lots hidey-holes and tons of fish. We were thrilled to find two seahorses at one site! Our first sighting in the wild. It was magical. Now to find that elusive frogfish!
Although in good shape, Roberta has been getting very tired after an hour underwater, probably due to nitrogen absorption. Diving with Nitrox is supposed to help that, so next week we will take the class to get certified for Nitrox diving. We rent tanks at Dive Friends Bonaire’s Yellow Submarine shop (they have five shops in the area) and are enjoying getting to know their friendly international staff – Dutch, Austrian, German, Czech, American, etc…
So we are settled into more or less of a routine. It is nice being in one place for a long time and not spending so much time moving and dealing with the boat on that level. We are into more of a maintenance mode. Mornings are for reading and/or chores (laundry, 30-min PIYO workout, running generator if needed, polishing stainless, “making” water if needed, repairs, etc.) and afternoons are for diving. Some days we switch it up.
Roberta is binge-reading the Inspector Gamache murder mystery series by Louise Penny that new friends on “Dorothy Ellen” - a Tayana 52 center cockpit (a South African couple from Canada) gave us. One or two evenings each week we play cards with Chuck and Barbara, one or two others we meet friends for dinner in town (TTII and Dorothy Ellen) and we organized a Wed night hamburger scheme at the marina bar for 14 of us). A favorite evening group activity is going for gelato. YUM! We are usually in bed by 9pm and get up at 7am to listen to weather and then at 8am chime in to the “Coconut Net” – an SSB network for cruisers to stay in touch. It is a VERY quiet and relaxing life here in the turquoise water, with pearly puffy clouds in the azure sky, bright Caribbean-colored buildings on shore amongst waving palm trees, in our (mostly gently) rocking boat. Some days we can hardly believe it. The constant trade winds keep us somewhat cool in the 86-degree heat and power our electricity when the breeze gets above 15k.
One day Chuck and Barbara rented a car and showed us the island. We drove south past the salt ponds and mountains of salt, past former slave huts and flamingo ponds to the tip of the island, and then north along the east coast, past Lac Bay, where we watched windsurfers and had a delicious lunch nearby. Then back across the island and up past favorite shore dive sites to the Slagbaai National Park – where we enjoyed the Museum and will return to hike the “mountain” trails. Down to Rincon, a very old town, and the new Cadushy Distillery for a tasting. A fun day.
We shared Christmas dinner on Celilo, attended a Boxing Day Antillean Classical Music event at the local church, and spent a lovely New Year’s Eve on “Dorothy Ellen” with Pam and Don, Chuck and Barbara. The fireworks were amazing – huge, loud, long and all over the place all up and down the coast – about 20 different sites. The Bonaireans do love their fireworks – for about a week before Christmas and a week after New Year’s Eve the firecrackers are still exploding!
Life is Good in Bonaire!
OFF TO BONAIRE
15 December 2014 | Kralendijk, Bonaire
We had a perfect weather window (15-20k, few isolated squalls) and great downwind sailing with the full main and the jib poled out wing and wing across the 425 miles of the Caribbean to Bonaire. At 6.4 knots per hour average speed, sometimes surfing down a wave at 10+ and sometimes battling current at 3.7, we thought we made great time! It took us 67 hours - about 12 fewer than planned, and we had to slow down so as not to come into a new port in the dark. Friends on Dulce Vita who were in St Thomas, and friends on Tusen Takk II who had traveled just before us to Bonaire in lighter wind - good trawler weather for them - held an SSB "watch" with us morning and evening all the way.
With just two of us, we managed four-hour watches at night and varied the schedule during daytime to allow Roberta to get some sleep as well as fixing meals, writing the log, listening to the morning weather broadcast on the SSB and chiming in on the morning and evening SSB nets. Days Capt. M did most of the steering spelled by R for daytime naps... it was quite nice until the wind picked up more than expected by as much as 10k and the auto pilot QUIT 26 hours away from Bonaire!
Those last hours were some tough ones. Already tired, this event made it really hard. The person hand-steering can only do that... not write in the log every hour, not pull on lines, not adjust anything, not go potty, and it is hard to even eat. At night, sailing becomes almost a video game, watching the wind gauge and the chart plotter. Roberta can only hand steer in rougher weather for about 2 hours max due to her rebuilt shoulders and just the sheer physicality of the effort. She sometimes uses her whole body to turn the wheel when a wave hits the boat a certain way!
We made it to Kralendijk, Bonaire at about 7:15 in the morning where great friends Barbara and Chuck from TusenTakk II (a lovely Kady Krogen trawler) welcomed us two exhausted sailors by dinghying over to hand up the pennants to our two mooring lines. Boy was it good to see their friendly faces!
Anchoring is not allowed in this gorgeous marine park, and the moorings each have two lines - one for each side of the bow just for extra insurance! Interestingly enough, we are moored right across from the Venezuelan Consulate!
Wanting a good night's sleep, we managed to stay awake all day until 7pm and then slept for 13 hours!
Three days later, Celilo has had the salt washed off, the auto pilot weirdly decided to work again when Michael tried to figure out what was wrong (so we now have to decide what to do with it before another crossing???!!!), and Roberta made a new courtesy flag - the Netherland Antilles ensign is no longer the appropriate flag. We have explored the cute little town, met new friends, and have begun to learn "the ropes" here (laundry, wifi, garbage, communications, dinghy docks, dive shops, grocery stores).
Michael has been in the water every day. He reports that the snorkeling right under the boat and to shore is spectacular. Roberta looks on longingly - she decided to let a bad rope burn on her left hand (her first one in all her years of sailing!) heal before diving in. The island map is ringed with dive sites... over 100 of them! We have collected info about renting tanks, paid our park fee, and hope to begin our season of diving soon. More later!
FIXING YOUR BOAT IN EXOTIC LOCATIONS
07 December 2014 | Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
Our friend Dan on svLadyhawk says the word ‘cruising’ really means “fixing your boat in exotic locations.” This was certainly a true (and frustrating) experience for us this autumn! However, we ARE in the tropics, and NOT in the frozen north buried in snow!
FIX OR REPAIR DAILY
After several conversations with the great tech guys at the auto-pilot manufacturer in the U.K., having the whole contraption out and back in the boat three times and waiting for two weeks each for two different "hydraulics experts", who didn't show when they said they would and in the end didn't fix it, we liberated the auto-pilot from a shop that had accepted it after which the tech left town for a week. Then, we twisted into pretzels to reinstall and get at the thing, dripped significant amounts of hydraulic fluid all over the surrounding area. Roberta had an hour-long aerobic workout turning the steering wheel back and forth to expel air bubbles while Michael squeezed himself into a small space to hold the three hoses in a tiny bucket of hydraulic fluid, and then we traded places. Then the remote wouldn’t pair with the machinery. Sigh… But the next day, when we hooked up all the electronics again, it worked!!! Hooray! This was a most frustrating month-long experience and was supposed to have been done before Michael returned to the boat!
Then there was the tachometer… which had been operating off and on all last season. Michael ran some tests to determine that connections were good, and after some expert consultation back in the States he determined that a new tach sending unit was necessary. So we went to order one from the Yanmar guy. He thought it just needed cleaning… so M spent a whole day taking various things off the engine to access the tach sending unit, cleaning it and the surrounding area, repainting where some salt water had dripped, and reinstalling the thing. Still didn’t work, so we waited for the part to be delivered.
Meanwhile, in between installing and removing and fussing with the auto-pilot and tachometer we tackled loads of little and medium boat chores, like varnishing the blocks that hold the forward dorade guard, a three-day project to fix a leaky shower and re-gel coat cracks in the shower pan, changing watermaker filters, sewing the final gas can cover, wiring a new wifi bullet, new gaskets on leaky hatch covers, repairing a 50-30 amp pigtail, and etc. etc. etc. These fun chores always require tearing apart whatever we have just cleaned or picked up and put away and a period of living in a construction zone. With the contents of drawers and cabinets piled around us!
The guaranteed date for tachometer sending unit arrival came and went three or four times, and so finally WE went, deciding to wait in new exotic locations for friends coming along later to bring the little part with them. When we had the boat ready enough to leave Trinidad, our seasonal shakedown cruise was the 86-mile passage to Grenada… and of course, we shook out a few more issues to repair in another exotic location! We had to replace our sump pump and we discovered that the engine was not charging the batteries. Again, Michael ran several tests and Skype-called the manufacturer of our alternator and regulator. Balmar is a NW company out of Washington, and they were fantastic. With him sitting by the engine he was able to describe what was happening, and they determined that we needed a new regulator. Ouch! Roberta then called around and found the only one on the island in St George. We hopped on a little van-bus and rode in to Island Water World (the Grenada equivalent of West Marine) to pick it up and while there toured the city marina to check it out. While it looked very nice, we decided we probably would not ever go there because the only dock that met our electrical needs did not have finger piers, making it nearly impossible to get on and off our canoe-shaped boat.
One evening after a day of more fussy repairs, Roberta asked the Captain what he would like to do the next day… he grumpily replied, “Oh, I don’t know, it depends on what decides to break overnight!” After fixing a couple of other little things and a few trips to Budget Marine (another equivalent to West Marine, but right there in Prickly Bay – our anchorage) we headed for Carriacou to see our friends and dive instructors Gary and Alex Ward at Deefer Diving. We hoped to go diving with them before heading out on our own in Bonaire, but arrived to find their boat out of the water for a little repair! RATS!
Then friends on Tusen Takk II brought our tach sending unit, so we spent a morning installing that. And it worked! Although we had wanted to stay and visit an island we love, dive some, and meet up with other great friends, when a fabulous weather window opened up we decided to grab it rather than pass it by and get caught in weeks of Christmas winds too strong to make the passage to Bonaire. So, we have a new location in which to re-prime the fridge water cooling pump, get the air out of the watermaker lines, rebed hatches, make a shade awning, install windlass backing plates we had made for us in Carriacou, wire a USB plug for better electronic gadget charging, replace old screens, rebed the hatches (still leaking after gasket replacement!), and whatever else… Oh! And DIVE, DIVE, DIVE!!!
…have their issues too, warm weather, palm trees, white sand beaches, turquoise water, great island music, rum drinks, and fun foods aside! While in Trinidad, Grenada and Carriacou, every time we left the boat (and sometimes while sitting outside on the boat when the wind was down) we slathered ourselves with Deet-laden mosquito repellant to try to avoid chikungunya, a nasty mosquito-born virus for which there is no cure and which has reached epidemic levels in most tropical countries. It has hit people hard and is quite painful in all joints, especially ones that have been injured. Roberta, held together with plates and screws, sure doesn’t want that!
TRINIDAD FALL 2014
06 November 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Well, we spent a couple of weeks dealing with the auto-pilot, trying to get someone to show up to work on it and waiting for a part to come from England. The part came and now we wait for the guys to decide to finish the job. So meanwhile: Roberta went on a tour she been wanting to do (Taste of Trini) while M took out the whole hydraulic component of the autopilot (and then waited for 2 days for someone to pick up) - this is a job that should have been done before we got back ?! We tried to put things to rights, but had to keep the laz and aft cabin clear for eventual autopilot re-install so all that stuff was all over the place. Roberta cleaned and provisioning and walked back and forth the 2-mile RT to Budget Marine and other boat parts or boatyard-type places to deliver or fetch things; we installed a new water pump; spent 4 hours re-installing the main, sail cover and all lines; and a myriad of other miscellaneous chores. We were very thankful for the marina pool and the A/C over a salon hatch! By 4pm we were cooked by the 85-90 degree heat and 85% humidity (feels like 102) and the pool was a great way to cool off, end the day, and get ready for the evening - whether having dinner on the boat or out socializing.
On Halloween we went to a "pan yard", which is a place that a steel drum "orchestra" practices and puts on performances. This yard was pretty nice, with a big building and covered area, because this group is sponsored by White Oak Rum, who teamed up with Angostura (think bitters) to sponsor a free concert, where they make their money on "bake and shark" (bake is sort of like Indian fried bread, but lighter and baked, and then they make it about the size of a large hamburger bun and fill it with whatever - usually shark), and corn soup (yummy - slices of kerneled cob in the soup!), and of course all kinds of rum drinks. We enjoyed the White Oak and LLB (lemon, lime and bitters soda) at two for one pricing.
The three groups that performed were really great. First we had the small lead-in invited steel drummers, then the large White Oak Starlift host steel drum orchestra, and then a row of about 15 African drums with traditional dancers. Turns out the limbo originated in Trinidad, is the national dance of Trini and Tobago, and WOW!!! What a performance! Then the host band again. It was very cool. Home to Celilo about 11...
... And up at 5:30 to go to the fresh market - the big outdoor market in Port of Spain. Came home with bags of tangerines, oranges, pears, papaya, "rock figs" (little sweet bananas), limes, pears, onions, eggplant, etc. Colorful and fun.
Wednesday eves many of us "yachties" meet up at the local watering hole for "swordfish night" where you get a full plate of either fish or pork ribs and a full plate of side dishes... One order shared feeds us both, and one order each feeds us for two more nights! Thursdays there is a potluck at our marina, and on Saturdays we have "bake and shark" back at the local watering hole. In between, three mornings each week there is a shopping van to various grocery stores and a big box store - different places each day, but same schedule and locations every week.
So we have been busy, tired every night, and looking forward to heading north maybe by early next week. We are out of the boatyard, but still sort of in boatyard mode, looking forward to actually cruising!
06 November 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
HOW WE SPENT OUR SUMMER "VACATION"
We had thought we would put the boat on land in Trinidad in late May, fly to Maryland, visit friends on the east coast, get our stuff from storage and drive it back to Oregon by July. We planned to take three weeks to decommission Celilo without exhausting ourselves... but... receiving the news that Roberta's Mom was failing, we hurried to get to Trinidad where Michael could deal with the boat alone. We arrived to learn Mom had passed away while we were making the last overnight crossing to Trini from Grenada. The earliest flight out was in three days, so we worked like mad to get as much done as possible before Roberta left for Oregon. Michael stayed back to close up the boat, and arrived in Oregon June 12, in time for Mom's Memorial. After spending a couple more weeks with Roberta's Dad, we flew to Maryland at the end of June to visit dear friends and collect stored stuff. Michael got in some chain sawing too! In a huge Penske truck we spent five days driving our belongings back to Oregon with stops in Pine, CO and Boise ID to visit more friends. We crammed the stuff back in storage and spent the next month and a half going through Mom's boxes of holiday decorations, family photos, papers and cards. We found some treasures in there (a relative's Revolutionary War Army discharge papers!) and great clues to family history. It was a busy, emotional, exhausting couple of months, sifting through each dusty box, examining each piece of paper, sharing photo albums with Dad, and it felt good to have the sorting, distributing, discarding, and re-storing behind us.
We did take time during those weeks to go to a Thorns (Portland's professional women's soccer team) game, have a hike with Roberta's sister and niece and to go to the coast with our daughter, her husband and our granddog! Then... we escaped to play in earnest!
We left Portland on Friday, August 15 and broke up the 6-hour trip to the SE corner of Oregon (Burns) with an overnight at Michael's cousin's house in Bend, where we would return to housesit in four days. After a nice breakfast with her we drove off into the sagebrush. A couple of hours later, when we were still about an hour from Burns, we decided to get off the 2-lane highway and take a scenic dirt road through ranch country and down into the middle of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, driving up to Burns through the refuge. Before entering the refuge, we saw about six Sand Hill Cranes in a ranch cattle pond as well as cattle, ducks, Canada geese, and a coyote! That was the first of maybe a dozen coyotes we saw over the next six days.
We had a picnic lunch at the refuge, a nice chat with the volunteer there - a retired OSU biology prof - and peered at birds in Mitchell pond next to Refuge headquarters. Then drove on around Malheur Lake and into Burns. For those of you not from Oregon, much of the eastern two-thirds of the state is pretty dry and, in summer, brown. In SE Oregon, the towns are small and far between. In those between areas are ranches and public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and others.
Our B&B was a gorgeous 100+ year-old house on a full city block with green lawn, pretty landscaping, and warm, welcoming hosts. Since we were in ranch country, we had local steak for dinner - YUM!!! Then a fabulous breakfast the next day and off we went, down the central patrol road (dirt again) in the Malheur Refuge, stopping to ogle/photograph birds, watch a mother deer challenge and chase off a coyote wanting to come closer to her two spotted fawns, and enjoying the quiet, the landscape, and NOT SEEING ANOTHER CAR the whole time!!! We visited the historic "Peter French sod house ranch" and that afternoon we had "geology day" driving through the hot, dry, dusty, Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area to see the amazing volcanic diversity there - 23 square miles of basaltic lava flows, lava tubes, cinder cones, maars, and craters. We stopped at a historic "round barn" on the way back to Burns. When we got back to the B&B you could hardly tell what color the car was it was so dusty!
Next day, another delicious breakfast, and off to the southern half of the refuge. We felt like sailors on a sagebrush ocean. More dirt roads, more birds... Black-necked Stilts, White-faced Ibises, American Avocets, Chukars, lots of hawks, Golden Eagles, Kestrels, etc. We ended the day at the historic Frenchglen Hotel, a funky old hotel right out of the wild west, managed by a gregarious guy who also happened to be a great cook. Meals were served to guests family style and we enjoyed chatting with very interesting people - fisheries biologists, college professors, wildlife researchers... We spent two nights there while exploring Steens Mountain.
The Steens. WOW! The high prairie tilts up from the west to 9733 feet and then drops sharply down to the Alvord Desert at 4200 feet. When at the peak, the temperature was 30 degrees cooler than back at the hotel! Four immense U-shaped glacial valleys cut through the tilted landscape, creating a stunning vista and a nail-biting drive downhill - again on 52 miles of dirt roads (we found out later that locals advise driving UP the south road so you miss skidding around tight gravel corners with a 2000+ foot drop and no guard rail!!!). Enroute we saw a badger (had never seen one of those in the wild!), dozens of pretty hawks, and had an amazing close-up encounter with a Golden Eagle.
On our way back to Bend, as if we hadn't had enough of dirt roads already, we drove another 90 miles on dirt roads across sagebrush country and the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, down along dry Abert Lake, over to almost dry Silver Lake, and stopped at the Fort Rock State Natural Area to gape at this near circle of towering rock (a volcanic tuff ring) rising out of the high desert near where woven sandals found to be 9-13,000 (yes, thousand!) years old were discovered in the caves of another tuff ring.
When we got to Bend, our first stop was one of those do-it-yourself car washes. It took two sessions to get the dust off the car and the bikes on the roof!
The next 10 days were a whirl of hiking in the mountains (five hikes in seven days!), a horseback ride for Roberta, kayaking the Deschutes River, an art show, many meals with longtime friends, a fabulous Labor Day party at Smith Rocks complete with Celtic Band at another friend's home, and, and, and. Whew! We had a ball, and ended our wonderful time in Bend by celebrating Michael's birthday with a trip to REI (new binocs and a hiking stick for M, etc...) and a quiet dinner alone at one of the many microbrew pubs in Bend.
On the road again, we stopped briefly in Portland to breakfast with great friends and then on to Port Townsend and the Wooden Boat Festival. We stayed at the Quimper, our favorite B&B and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality, generosity and friendship of our hosts Ron and Sue. In addition to boat festival seminars, vendors, and scrambling around on gorgeous old classic boats, we watched the progress of building a wooden kayak, and had a lovely ride on the schooner Adventuress - can't keep a couple of sailors off the water!
Then down to Potlatch, Hood Canal to stay with Roberta's lifelong friend at her family "crabin" and eat oysters. More chain sawing for Michael and Roberta reupholstered some cushions.
BACK IN PDX
In one week in Portland we managed to fit in doctor visits, a Heart concert, more chainsawing and sewing, and the big RV show... drooling over the new models to get an idea of what we might want for size, features, and layout. Yes, a small, but used, RV may be in our future. We are feeling the need for our own space, less dependency on the goodwill of family and friends, more mobility, and fewer hotel bills during our months on land. Look out! Nest summer we may be coming to a driveway near you!!!
Then Michael left Oregon to head back to the boat via a brief stop in Maryland, and Roberta headed to California to help same lifelong friend begin cancer treatment, which progressed very successfully - whew! Michael arrived in Trini two weeks ahead of Roberta and managed to get Celilo back in the water and many boat maintenance chores completed - even with a bad case of flu - in time for R to hit the docks with three huge bags of supplies, and
SEASON FOUR BEGINS!!!