Monday, July 8, 2019

Sugar cane harvest season in Australia

Twelve Apostles on Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Uber-friendly rosella
We enjoyed an amazing trip to Australia for 18 days in June to celebrate Mike's 62nd birthday.

While in Melbourne (weather like Oregon winter), we had the pleasure of spending time with Mike's niece, Josie, her husband, Joel and their 2 year old fireball, Jack. They invited us for a family weekend where we met Joel's wonderful family members in Wangaretta, about 3 hours' north of Melbourne. Good times, great food, exploring the region with hiking, wine and cheese tasting on the 3 day weekend (the Queen's birthday celebration weekend).

Following our extensive experiences in Melbourne and surroundings, we flew to Queensland for scuba diving and exploring the rainforest for a week, then flew back to Victoria. We enjoyed more time with Josie's in-laws, who hosted our visit once again, with one highlight of a personal winery tour at Pfeiffer wines, through our membership. What great adventures we shared!

So many stories fill our memories. For now, a photo menagerie will need to suffice. Google's Blogger is not user-friendly to allow me to adjust photos to the correct sequence, thus the random montage of our travels. There are links on some of the pics for more info, should you wish to know more about cassowaries and other things Australian! 
Albert, our Beijing friend,
holding up his triathalon medal

Albert's photo on the dive boat, with him saying- "show off your long legs!"
Twelve Apostles formations were totally awesome

Local cab had great messages

Rainforest ants were large, translucent and industrious

barrel stave chair - comfy!

fruit bats at dusk, hanging around

Cassowary sign - they are the
life source of the rainforest
Cuttlefish at the Aquarium, Mlbn

Daintree Rainforest ice cream -
made with local delicacies

It wsa baby bat season
- watch for falling bats!
dive platform on the dive boat

Fearless on the slippery slope, Melbourne hiking trail

Full moon - Pt Douglas, QLD near Daintree rainforest,
super loud gaggles of parrots in the trees until dusk

Gracebrook winery and vineyard - Wangaretta, VIC

View from Gracebrook's historic building

Great Ocean Road workers (behind
us - road built post WWI)

Paying homage to the trail builders

Riverboat Crocodile tour - they are big, ancient and leering!

Watch out for the 'roos!

Koala butt :-) -
hey, at least we got a pic

With winemaker Jen. Her tagline:
Rock it like a Redhead!

Rainforest trail break - tea, with Tim Tam slam and fruit

Ned Kelly, Australia's most famous outlaw, at his final shootout

Ned Kelly animated historical presentation, well done!

Pt Douglas- frogmouth  
Yummm. Ned Kelly , Steak & mushroom and other pastry pies 

Local pelicans and shorebirds

Winemaker Jen & Mike during our tour

Guess there's a message here - Pfeiffer winery sign

Our personal tour with Jen Pfeiffer of her family winery - nice!
Pool@Lazy Lizard lodge,
 Pt Douglas, QLD

Winemaker Jen showing her wares,
Rutherglen, VIC

Daintree rainforest trail, 2 mosquito bands
on my wrist plus bug spray

Daintree rainforest trail

Daintree rainforest bounty - what an incredible place

Salt House restaurant & bar
Cannes, QLD

SCUBA girl on our liveaboard Ocean Quest

Sea dragon, Melbourne Aquarium

Shark baiting at night off stern of Ocean Quest dive boat

Snorkel seen on many cars - for traversing flooded roadways

June is sugar cane harvest time.
A cool display at Cannes Museum

Windswept hillside at 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC

Super fun wine tasting with Josie's in laws and family

Winter at the 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Rd, VIC
Beautiful beach trail and vista in Pt Douglas, QLD

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Fireflies of the Sea

School of rays performing acrobatics off our port side
Dolphins abound this year

Excellent kayaking and exploring 
Incredible rock formations along the Baja

Terns enjoying a bait ball

Turtles were in abundance this year as well
When we’re enjoying the luxury of being in an anchorage, tucked in from some of the wind and swells, experiencing nature up close, there are many moments that take your breath away. Such peaceful repose we earned after working for so many moons on boat repairs. We have been blessed with so much life, from jumping mantas, surfacing turtles, flocks of diving birds going after a bait ball and night time fish frenzies.

Bioluminescent waters swirl around the boat at night, and these last few days we experienced fireflies in the sea. Bright fish that look like they are wearing LED headlamps. All sizes, including flying fish. Non-stop zooming around the boat. Swirling balls of fish that are so bright. It's mesmerizing to watch the light patterns they create. One night, we had hundreds of flying fish partying all around the hull for hours.

At night especially when there’s little or no moon, voluminous stars blow your mind as you gaze in wild wonder at the heavens, galaxy and great beyond. When I was attempting a ‘close up’ with binoculars at some of my favorite constellations, I was blinded by the influx of light and information. It was just too much to process. So, naked eye views of constellations work just fine for me.

After a lovely 5 days exploring San Juanico with friends, we headed south again along the Baja. Turquoise waters and a calm bay welcomed us to the western anchorage at Isla Coronados. The island touts a volcanic cone and we once again undertook the journey up to see the vistas of the surrounding islands and Baja peninsula. At night, the lights of Loreto sparkle in the distance.

We are always on the quest for weather reports and sometimes, all the reporting you gather doesn’t play out. When we arrived Isla Coronados, we set our plan for the next day: early kayak trip to shore for our ascent of the volcanic cone at the nature preserve. It’s spring so the desert comes to life in subtle, yet beautiful ways. Tiny blossoms, bits of green, new shoots defying the heat and sun.
Desert comes to life

We made our descent on the trail then kayaked back to our boat late morning, after a conversation with tourists who arrived for a beach outing. They’re transported here in high speed pangas (fishing boats) for a day on a remote island. The beach was full of people and boats, frolicking was the word of the moment. A nice sunny day in a beautiful anchorage. Mike hoisted our kayaks and when we started a bite for lunch, the winds picked up. Quickly. Soon our mellow little anchorage was anything but. Pangas loaded up their guests and boogied out of the anchorage across the fast-building whitecaps. Being positioned toward those incoming NW winds, anchored on a lee shore with winds escalating to 24+ in such a short time, we hastily decided: time to go!
Sea lion sunning on the surface

Mike managed our way out around the islet to the west of the island, then south through waves that built high and fast, as the channel passage is shallow and somewhat narrow causing bubbling waters. As I donned my life jacket, it reminded me of whitewater rafting, but on a larger scale. Confused seas bounced us around and many things went bump down below as he navigated us to the southern end of the island, where a more peaceful anchorage would surely be found. Those unplanned winds were sustained in the 20s all day and into the next day so we were thankful we made the decision to move around the island to safer waters. No BBQing that night, just too windy.

At Mangele Solo, we hoisted the anchor only to find the world’s largest ball of iridescent green seaweed tangle. It was quite a job to unfoul the chain and anchor of that surreal mass before we could hoist anchor and out. Lucky for you, a photo of that nasty ball didn’t come out.
This afternoon, Sunday April 28th we will cross the sea, back to Guaymas to put Pura Vida to rest for the summer months. It's always a bittersweet moment.