Friday, December 25, 2015
It's been a wonderful Christmas weekend so far! Yesterday I take a big group from the States scuba diving at Natural. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve. This couple wasn't part of the group, just a couple of hangers-on.
Last night we hosted Christmas Eve pot luck dinner for a bunch of "misfit toys" or "orphan gringos" as one of our number called us. So much fabulous food and so much fun!
Hope your holidays are filled with warmth and love and joy and that the new year brings you health and happiness.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Some time tonight someone will eat the 4,000th Peanut Butter Burger.
Don't know about our World Famous Peanut Butter Burger?
It is a handmade, hand-seasoned 100% all-beef burger, grilled to your order, then served on grilled fresh local bakery bread, topped with peanut butter and sweet pickle relish. #warmcreamysaltysweetmeaty The way it all comes together in your mouth in nothing short of amazing.
And tonight, we will reach a major milestone. We have a great gift package for whoever gets # 4,000: Standup Paddle Board tours from VerdeAzul, Discover Scuba Adventures from Darryl's Diving Adventures, gift certificates from Levain Artisan Bread, Fusion Art and Floral and Ola Lola's, portrait photography sessions and more.
Wish you were here.
Monday, December 07, 2015
It's a strange kind of in-between-time right now. No surf to speak of (unusual), not the usual howling December/Christmas winds (very unusual) so not much kite surfing, and just enough rain to keep visibility marginal for diving (not so unusual).
Even so, we took Marie's (and now our) friends Mark and Leslie diving at Crashboat. Despite the 25-30 foot vis, there is always something beautiful to see. The limited vis encourages you to look closer, for little things.
There is supposed to be a little surf bump later this week. We'll see. And here's hoping the vis finally cleans up soon!
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Back in the Dark ages, B.D. (Before Digital) I used to do a lot of black and white photography. For years I had my own darkroom. I even got into large format with one of those "cumbersome" 4"x5" view cameras. ("Cumbersome" seems to be a descriptor that always accompanies "view camera.") But S.D. (Since Digital) I've done very little with b&w. Yes, I've played with it in Photoshop but I've never been very happy with the results and so just let it go.
The other night Elaine had a dream that I was photographing surfers in black and white. When she told me about it, it triggered a new thought. Whenever it's cloudy, I avoid shooting surfers because because the light is flat and relatively colorless. But what about black and white? Maybe b&w could be a way to "save" those cloudy day shots. This was an especially interesting thought since we just went through two days of good waves but crappy light.
So I started doing some studying and more, serious experimenting. I'm certainly not an expert. but I've come a long way from where I was.
Yesterday I went out to Surfers Beach on a beautiful sunny morning. Right at the end of my photo session it clouded over. This gave me new material to work with.
What do you think of the results?
You can see more of the color surf photos on our website, PuertoRicoSurfPhoto.com
and on Flickr.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
It is still quite warm and very still for this time of year. The Trade Winds should be howling but they're not. We've had more calm, nearly windless days in a row in October and November than I ever remember.
There has been a lot of rain up in the mountains this fall. That's good news for the islands water supply. The reservoirs are full. But it's bad news for diving. The rain washes sediment down the rivers and into the ocean. With no wind to drive the currents, the sediment just hangs around making visibility crappy.
On the bright side there has been some fun surf.
That's on of the wonderful things about living here, one of the things we're grateful for: There is almost always something to do. It's a very rare day that weather and ocean combine to keep us inside watching Netflix.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
This November full moon goes by many names. In the Old Farmer's Almanac (based mostly on traditions colonists brought from the United Kingdom) it is the Beaver Moon. Some First Nations/Native American cultures called it the Snow Moon or Fog Moon or Moon When the Deer Sheds Its Antlers. In pagan customs, it is the Mourning Moon.
This is a transition time, between light and the darkness of winter. It is a time to let go of negative thoughts or emotions, to cut ties with things and people that are toxic and destructive. But it is also a time to nurture positive relationships, to strengthen ties with friends and family and to celebrate life.
(You can read more about the Mourning Moon here.)
Friday, November 20, 2015
It was a fire-in-the-sky sunrise outside our hostel as we prepared to leave Banff and head down the road to Calgary and then on to home.
Be we still had one more adventure - a trailrideat Moose Mountain Trailrides outside of Calgary.
It was a very different ride from our first one in Jasper. But that's good; different is good. There are more photos from the trailride on Flickr. Have a look at your leisure.
From Moose Mountain we were back on the prairie and onto Calgary. We spent our last night in Canada at the brand new Soaring Eagle Casino in Calgary. We won $50 playing the slots but alas did not win the Canadian national lottery.
After the fiery mountain sunrise in Banff, Calgary gave us an incredible prairie sunrise to send us off.
From there it was off to the airport and a silver bird home.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Our first adventure of the day (don't you just love multi-adventure days?) took us up to Sunshine Meadows. This is one of the most popular day-hikes in Banff National Park.
In the summer this a most spectacular high alpine meadow, full of sunshine and wildflowers. When we were there, near the end of the hiking season, snow covered the meadow and sunshine intermittently broke through the clouds.
Still, the views from the trail and from the top of Standish Lookout are spectacular.
There are three alpine lakes at three different elevation. All three lakes, Rock Isle Lake (left), Lorix Lake (center) and Grizzly Lake (barely visible at the far right), are visible from Standish Lookout.
Our second adventure of the day was a visit to Vermillion Lakes, a series of three lakes and wetlands in the Bow River valley right outside the Banff townsite.
There are spectacular views of one of my favorite mountains in the Rockies, Mt Rundle.
I didn't know until we got back that this a trail and we could have hiked up Mt. Rundle. Ah, well! Next time. There are so many things to do next time.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
When I started writing about this day, I said it was a long, busy day with lots happening. We're almost at the end but we have one last stop - to visit the Hoodoos.
Hoodoos like these along the Bow River in Banff National Park are formed when wind and water erode away softer layers of rock leaving pillars of harder rock to erode later into fantastical shapes. Nobody knows exactly where the name "hoodoo" came from but these formations have lingered in people's imaginations for thousand of years. For example, I think this one looks like a family of beavers. What do you think?
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
We're finally getting some dive time. Waves are down (for now) and it hasn't rained for a day or so, so visibility is improving.
We had a great time Monday hanging out with this guy at our favorite scuba training site at Playa Crashboat.
Yesterday we were back at Crashboat with three first-time divers.
And our buddy from Sunday's younger cousin.
Today we're heading back to Crashboat for another dive with another newbie. After that? We'll see.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Just down the road a bit from Lake Minnewanka is Two Jack Lake. (I have no idea how it got its name.)
Surrounded by lush evergreen forests and spectacular mountains Two Jack Lake is - astonishingly - another scuba divers' hangout.
It is a relatively shallow lake especially compared to its neighbor, ranging from 6.1 meters (20 feet) to 15.5 meters (50 feet). It is mostly sand bottom with grassy weed beds, freshwater shrimp and trout. Apparently Two Jack Lake is used mostly for scuba training.
Monday, November 09, 2015
Our next stop for the day was Lake Minnewanka and the lake boat tour.
Lake Minnewanka (the name means "water of the spirits" in the First Nations Nakoda language) is about 5 km (3.1 miles) from Banff. At 21 km (13 miles) long it is the longest of the Canadian Rockies mountain lakes. Formed and fed by glaciers, the lake is 142 meters (466 feet) deep. It owes some of its length and depth to a hydro-electric dam at the west end.
An unintended result of the power dam also makes Lake Minnewanka a popular scuba(!) site. In 1886 a log hotel called "Beach House" was built on the shore of Lake Minnewanka. By 1888 a village named Minnewanka Landing was established. The little resort grew until it included hotels, restaurants, wharves and two sightseeing cruise boats, the "Lady of the Lake" and the "Daughter of the Peaks."
The last dam, built in 1941, raised the level of the lake 30 meters (98 feet), submerging the Minnewanka Landing townsite. It is the submerged townsite that draws divers. The various features - streets, house foundations, three old wharves, and the most popular, an outhouse - are in 17.5 meters (57 feet) to more than 24 meters (80 feet) of water. Other popular dive sites on the lake are near the original 1898 log dam and the 1912 dam which was also covered when the final dam was built in 1941.
As one might expect, "all dives at Lake Minnewanka are cold water, altitude dives. Visibility fluctuates depending on the time of year and the number of divers at the site. Depths vary depending on the time of year, rising up to 5.5 m (18') from spring to fall." (source: Parks Canada)
In addition to stunning lake and mountain views and amazing - if freezing - dive sites. Lake Minnewanka has one other very cool feature:
The Rocky Mountains start right here. Through that gap is the Alberta prairie. Lake Minnewanka is right at the edge, right at the transition.
Friday, November 06, 2015
In terms of the number of hospital visits required and the annual number of stitches, the most dangerous critter in the Canadian Rockies are these cute little guys - the Rocky Mountain Golden Ground Squirrels. People think they are cute and try to feed them. Then they find out these guys have very sharp little claws and very sharp teeth. Ouch!