Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23 - the 33rd Day of Winter

There are days when Wishing Well is just one of the most perfect places on earth. Today was one of those days. Clear water. No waves. A perfect sand-bottom entrance. Not another soul in site. Well, not a human soul. There were thousands of souls beneath the surface, including this guy:

He and I hung out together for quite a while. And he (or she) was of two turtles I saw. Plus gazillions of fish.

I need to check the calendar to see if this is the Year of the Goat. It is certainly a year of goatfish! They are everywhere and there are thousands of them, Crashboat, Natural, Wishing Well, Shacks. I've never seen so many goatfish.

I am so glad I went to Wishing Well. I really REALLY missed Elaine because this is a spot we love to share, but it was just gorgeous.

I'm thinking our days of flat clear water are about to end. The surf forecasts are predicting 7-10 foot waves over the weekend. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22nd - the 32nd Day of Winter

Wow! Our spell of clean flat water continues. This is so unusual. This was Shacks about 5:00 pm today, about an hour before low tide. It's crazy summertime flat. And this is the cleanest I've seen Shacks in a long time. Visibility was amazing.

I haven't snorkeled at Shacks for quite a while. Late this afternoon, I couldn't resist. I originally planned to try Wishing Well, one of our favorite snorkeling sites. But I started out at a bad time, 3:00, and traffic was a bear. After half an hour, I was only half way to a site that's about 12 minutes away. So I turned around, came home and went to Shacks. If this patten holds, I'll try Wishing Well tomorrow.

January 21st - the 31st Day of Winter

So this morning started with a relatively short early morning surf photo session at Middles. There was a little swell and I wanted to catch some of it. Heaven knows there has been much surf to photograph this year so far. It turned out to be a much better session than I expected.

You have to love those northeast swells. some really good photo opportunities at Middles and then around the corner to scuba dive at a totally flat Natural. The water continues to be flat and clear and amazing. It was our friend Gretel's birthday dive.

So the thing about this coral is, it is this red-orange at a depth of 55 feet. At 55 feet, because of the physics of light and water and color, there is very little left of the red end of the spectrum. That's why underwater photos look so green and blue: the water absorbs wavelengths of light, beginning with red. If this thing is this red at 55 feet, I can't even begin to imagine how intense the color would be a the surface.

We woke this poor guy up from a nap. He was pretty good natured about it, though, much better than I would have been. He let us hang out with him for a while.

It was a good day. As my good friend and dive buddy said, "my life is not too bad if all I have to complain about is I'm bored taking pictures of John with a turtle."


Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20th - the 30th Day of Winter

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S.

In the spirit of the man and his legacy, we have a new sign at Ola Lola's:

It is right out front, proudly, for all to see and embrace. I posted these photos on Facebook this morning and they are getting lots of "likes" and shares.

Thank you, Elaine, for all the work you put into this sign on your "vacation" at home. And thanks to our good friend and artist, Robin Fay for her help and advice.

Oh, yeah - winter is one-third over.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19th - the 29th Day of Winter

Had a great dive with friends at Natural. Sixty- to seventy-foot visibility. I love this time of year here. Here's a little video to whet your appetite. There are lots more photos from this and other recent dives and a longer version of this video on our Flickr site. There are some beautiful photos in this latest set if I do say so myself.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 17 - the 27th Day of Winter

Yay! A new computer. I just couldn't stand to be without it. the computer - with a connection to the Internet -  is one of two "things" I would be hard pressed to live without. The other is my camera(s).  And to some degree, they are related.

I still have to get the old one back in some sort of working order. There is data on the secondary hard drive I desperately need. We'll see what happens on Monday.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 16th - the 27th Day of Winter

Our last night - sunset dinner at Wishing Well.

Then a last morning ride on Chocolate on the beach.

Then to San Juan and her flight back to St Lucia. Elaine is back to work with the kids in St Lucia for three months.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15th - the 26th Day of Winter

Our computer died yesterday. I'm posting this from a borrowed laptop. I took the computer into the shop. No idea how long it will of commission.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14th - the 25nd Day of Winter

Scuba diving with two newbie divers at Crashboat - they loved it!

We're heading into my favorite time of year here. The days are warm - this year, actually warmer than normal - nights are cool. It's the dry season.. With no big rains washing stuff down from the mountains into the ocean the visibility in the water is the best. It's usually the best time of year for surf although this year it has been a little sketchy so far. Except for the giant polar vortex storm, there haven't been any storms in the North Atlantic to drive good waves our way. But there are still three months left in surf season - plenty of time. In the mean time, we'll enjoy the (mostly) flat water and good visibility.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13 - the 24th Day of Winter

"I feel the earth move/under my feet" 

Probably the most significant thing for today happened just after midnight: At 12:01:04 am there was a M6.4 earthquake 58 km (36 mi) NNE of Isabela (57 KM due north of Hatillo) where the North American plate slides under the Caribbean plate at the edge of the Puerto Rico Trench. Several reports say there were actually two quakes, one right after the other, an M5.5 followed immediately by the M6.4. 

It truly literally rocked our world.

Since then, according to the USGS, there have been at least eight additional quakes measuring between M3.1 and M3.7. One source says there have been 13 terremotos today, 34 in the last week and 153 in the past month. 

The edge of the Puerto Rican (or Caribbean) tectonic plate and the Puerto Rican Trench are just 75 miles north of us. That plate boundary is where the North American plate slides under the Puerto Rican plate. It's part of the reason Puerto Rico is here at all. It also means we have terremotos pretty much all the time. We like the little ones because they release pressure a little at time, poco a poco. Most of the time we don't even know they happen unless we look on sites like the USGS site. But every now and then we get a big enough one to feel. 

Two years ago there was an M5.7 in the middle of the night. Folks down here near the beach were so afraid of a tusnami, they got in their cars and started driving up the hill. At 2:30 in the morning there was a traffic jam on the hill and nothing could move. That terremoto was inland in Moca and posed no tsumani threat. 

 Fortunately, neither did the ones last night.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11 - the 22nd Day of Winter

Scuba diving at Crashboat with our friend Marie, her husband Raphael and their sons Gabriel and Nathan. This is Gabriel on his first-ever dive:

And a couple more from the dive:

It's already the 22nd day of winter. My how time flies!

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10 - the 21st Day of Winter

Diving at Crashboat with friends.

Our friend Waleska was back for a short visit. We haven't been diving with her for several years. She is such a joy to dive with because she gets such joy from diving. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I think she would have been perfectly happy just sitting under the pier playing with the fish.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

January 9 - the 20st Day of Winter

2/365 - I promise I won't post every photo from the series, only on days I don't have anything better to say or if there is a very special one.

That said, just looking a the photos from yesterday and today you can see the differences in moods o this one spot.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

January 8 - the 19th Day of Winter

Many of you will recognize "our" entrance to Playa Shacks. I've photographed it and posted photos of it so many times. Well, there are about to be a whole lot more photos from here.

There are a lot of "365" photo projects. That is, photographers take at least one photo every day of the year. Since I pass this spot pretty much every day when I take the dogs for their run, this is my "365" project: to photograph this spot every day for a year, starting now. Unless there is a really really compelling reason to take the photo at another time, the plan is to take the photo when I go walk the dogs, whatever time of day that turns out to be.

So here is the first of my "365" photos, 1/365.

The 18th Day of Winter (January 7th)

"I don't know if you should eat salsa..."

Last night Elane and I took a sunset ride down Playa Martinique toward the Wall. Somebody has made a really cool little resting/sitting/ocean-watching spot complete with benches and handrails down to the beach. We packed snacks and some beer and a wonderful relaxed time and a wonderful relaxed ride. Both horses, KTJ and Chocolate, were great, especially trotting home at dusk.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The 17th Day of Winter (continued)

The big storm that hammered the States and pounded the west coasts of Ireland and England pushed some nice waves our way for Three Kings Day. This one is from a nice session at Wilderness yesterday.

There are lots more photos from this session on our website,

Here's hoping this is the start of a great surf season.

Monday, January 06, 2014

The 17th Day of Winter

Happy Three Kings Day/Epiphany/Twelfth Night/The Twelfth Day of Christmas/Dia de Reyes/Dia de Tres Reyes!

Christmas in Puerto Rico is almost over.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The 15th Day of Winter

You can argue all you want about the causes of climate change - global warming, normal earth cycles, the goddess's wrath on all hateful fundamentalists, whatever - but you really have to have your head deep in denial to not acknowledge that things are changing. There is no "normal" any more.

We joke about the weather and post pictures like the one above to tease our family and friends Up North but we really do feel for them and we truly are concerned for their safety. The record-breaking cold - and not just by a degree or two - is truly frightening. That same storm system pushed huge waves into the west coasts of Ireland and Britain.

It's beautiful here now but our weather has been strange as well. In the fall we had record-setting heat all the way into November. Here, where the Trade Winds blow all except a few days in the summer, in September and early October we had a spell of weeks with no wind, dead calm.

From here, where right now it's sunny and warm, our greatest holiday wish is for everyone to have a safe, warm place to ride out the storm.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The 14th Day of Winter

Happy Holiday!

There are a lot of people, mostly fundamentalist Christians, who object to "Happy Holidays." They insist on "Merry Christmas" because "Jesus is the reason for the season."

I won't even get into all the ways Christmas celebrations usurped earlier pagan customs and traditions. Suffice it to say celebrations around the winter solstice predate Christianity by thousands of years.

I like "happy holidays," not because it's "politically correct," but because it is inclusive, not exclusive.

Limiting greetings to just "Merry Christmas" excludes and disregards - and disrespects - all those other holidays that fall at this time of year: Hanukah, the solstice, New Year's, Three Kings Day to name a few.

"Happy Holidays!" embraces them all, including Christmas, no matter what or where.

So to everyone everywhere, no matter what their beliefs, Happy Holidays!

The 13th Day of Winter

The new year started with ripping winds and kite surfers at Shacks taking full advantage. It's the first time in a long time that I've photographed kite surfers. There are more photos from this session on our website.

The 13th Day of Winter is also our friend Marie's birthday. We went out to dinner at our nephew Ben's new restaurant, The Beach House on 110.

The food was excellent - Ben is an amazing chef - but it was the company that made the night.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

On the Twelflth Day of Winter...

Happy New Year!

Last night we got to the beach too late to watch the sun set at the "Shacks Beach Toast the Last Sunset of the Year" get-together - but we did make it in time for the champagne and celebrating. 

Tonight we sat on the little bluff at Wishing Well, just the two of us, and toasted the first sunset of the new year. If the rest of the year is as good as this afternoon was, it's going to be a fine fine year. Bring it on!

On the Eleventh Day of Winter...

There is a holiday song, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

We started the day with a short horse ride on the beach. 

The we spent the afternoon hanging out at a little beach area in Quebradillas, the next municipio east of Isabela, called Puerta Hermina. It's rocky and a rugged and the last quarter-mile getting to it is an adventure but it's worth it. It's beautiful. It's kind of secluded and not really a good swimming/snorkeling beach but we both like it a lot.

From there we went back home to run dogs (on the beach of course) and to get ready for a NYE party at a friend's house. I hoped to go on an early evening night dive with friends but an infection last week left me with a touch of vertigo. Having the world start spinning at 60' - in the dark - just seems like a bad idea.

But first, down to Shacks Beach for the annual "toast the final sunset of the year" get-together. This just gets bigger and bigger every year. There were more than 60 people on the beach!

We never made it to the party. Our dogs are freaked out by fireworks. Even with calming meds Jazz especially was crawling out of his skin, panting and not settling down anywhere. Oz barks at every firework sound, from strings of Black Cats (1-1/2 firecrackers) to the heavy boom of mortars. Only Amber settled into his crate, scared but calm. Jazz didn't finally settle down until nearly 3:00 am. He spent most of the night climbing all over me on the couch.

But we all made it through the night, through another year, and through another New Year's Eve. Now it's a rainy, windy, chilly (for here) morning, a new day and a new year.

Happy New Year!