Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Montana and Wyoming Car Trip!

I flew the drone above Frontier Creek, looking northwest toward Yellowstone.  The Absaroka volcanic range and Washakie Wilderness are spectacular, as you can see in the distance.  No flying is permitted over the Wilderness area so there won't be any grizzly bear sightings either!

Our favorite camp site of all time.  It doesn't get any better than this place, 25 miles up a remote, rutted, dusty logging road in the heart of grizzly bear country (not to mention mountain lions).  But the journey is well worth the effort (see picture below)!

The effort to arrive at Double Cabin is, well, what do you think?

A drone shot looking northwest toward Yellowstone with Frontier Creek below and the Absaroka volcanic field creating the high peaks.  Did I mention the hiking is pretty good too, as long as you carry your bear spray?!?

Launching the drone

 Daybreak in Wyoming and on the road less traveled.  This is what Wyoming is all about!

 Pioneers used the landmark in the far distance on their journey west.

Love the snow fences that are everywhere in Wyoming and Montana.  There is a reason (think LOTS of SNOW in winter)!

Old Faithful with Maria enjoying herself.

When Old Faithful erupted, all you saw were amazed faces and cameras in action to catch the beauty.

There are now more bison in Yellowstone than we have ever seen.

 Heart Mountain in the distance, north of Cody, Wyoming.  Taken with the drone from the less traveled route on the Washakie trail.

The Tetons!  Mount Moran is over my right shoulder with the Grand Teton further south.

The Super volcano of Yellowstone with an active vent oozing out steam in the foreground at Yellowstone Lake.  Yes the volcano will explode again but who knows when!

Driving in Yellowstone can be spectacular too.  Just watch out for those dropoffs!  As the brochure that rangers give everyone entering the park:  "Yellowstone is a dangerous place!"

Pilot Peak and Index Point, Montana.  Still a bit of snow remaining in July.

An early morning wild Wyoming vista.

Beartooth Highway, Montana.  One, if not THE most, spectacular drives in the USA.

Native American history is everywhere in Wyoming.  I don't think the drone would be welcome to fly over this sacred site so I didn't even try.
Maria and I took a trek north to our neighboring states of Wyoming and Montana to revisit places and scenery that was in the recesses of our memories.  The vast expanse of mountains, high plateaus and true western atmosphere was absolutely amazing.  Here is a video and some pictures :)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sweet Bequia; Deep in the Southern Caribbean

 SY Aspen sailing south toward sweet Bequia with St. Vincent in the background.  Sailors will notice the reefs in our sails!

 Admiralty Bay, Bequia, St. Vincent.  Maria and I counted 130 boats in the anchorage in this view from the highest point on Bequia.

 Captain Steve and Admiral Maria sailing toward Bequia.  Look at Maria's hair being blown by the trade winds.  It was a bit blustery!

Maria with Lorilee from the sailboat Ventana at the top of Peggy's Rock, Bequia

Captain Steve, March 2018 sailing in the Caribbean

Captain Steve, March 1986 sailing in the Exumas, Bahamas

S/Y Aspen – March 16, 2018 – Log #157
Aspen Position: 13 degrees 00’ N  061 degrees 14’ W
Admiralty Bay, Bequia, SVG, Caribbean

Sweet Bequia; Deep in the Southern Caribbean

It was September of 1970 when I first sailed into Admiralty Bay, Bequia aboard the schooner, Flying Cloud.  We were the only sailboat in the bay when the local boat boys paddled out to greet us as the ship swung at anchor in the magnificent sheltered bay on Bequia.

Today, Bequia has been discovered, as have most places in the Caribbean.  Maria and I climbed to the highest point on Bequia, an outcrop called Peggy’s Rock, where we counted 130 boats enjoying the rhythm of sweet Bequia.

The islands in the sun have surely changed, but that is part of life and we deal with it, or try to.  Some things do remain the same on Bequia like Mac’s lobster pizza, the Green Bole for conch roti, the Frangipani for happy hour, the Whaleboner for BBQ,  and oh so many other things.  The locals still greet us with a friendly good morning or good afternoon as we walk the little streets in their villages or during my runs in the early morning hours.  The culture and getting together with fellow sailors are what makes the Caribbean special for Maria and myself.

It was 32 years ago when Maria and I sailed the first Aspen away from friends and family to the Bahamas along with our son Zach.  Since then a lot of water has passed under our keel.  These days our more modern Aspen has safely taken us further away from home and even around the world crossing endless oceans. 

This sailing season is quickly coming to a close as we head south to Grenada where Aspen will be stored on land for the upcoming dreaded hurricane season.

I rarely dwell on what happened in the past.  The tides of change never look back and rarely do I.  But  this one time, I found a picture that I wanted to share with our friends and family.  The before and after pictures of Captain Steve aren’t very different, at least to my eye (well, maybe the mustache is gone).  (Note: If you look at the blog link below or on FB you will see the pictures)

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Special Island: Dominica and Sexy Bones

 Portsmouth, Dominica.  Our favorite nature island in the Caribbean and yes, it rains a lot here!

 Walking around town in Portsmouth, Dominica.  Anyone need a toilet?

Hurricane Maria damage in Portsmouth, Dominica.

The hospital in Portsmouth, Dominica.  Notice the blown out windows.  Yes the hospital is still functional but the conditions are not very good.

Metal building peeled back during hurricane Maria.

This home across from the hospital still has a person living inside.  Incredible.

Market day in downtown Portsmouth, Dominica

The Kalinago Reservation on the Eastern side of Dominica.  This is how you get drinking water.

 Our tour guide Winston standing in front of the barrel he spend 5 hours hiding in during hurricane Maria.  The barrel saved his life.

Dropping our supplies of roofing screws, nails, tarps and kitchen goodies off at the Kalinago Reservation on Dominica.

Sexy Bones house, or what is left of his house after hurricane Maria.

Sexy Bones house showing the inside.  A little paint and maybe some nails might help?  Maybe not.

 Sexy Bones x-sister-in-law on the Kalinago Reservation.  I thought she might like to have a couple books...
Portsmouth PAYS Sunday night BBQ with fish and chicken on the grill.  You gotta have something to drink (Carib beer of course) while you are cooking!

Bounty, one of the PAYS boat boys in Portsmouth with Dawn (Cat Tales) and Maria at the BBQ

Sara and Norm from SV Norsa at the BBQ in Portsmouth, Dominica.  We last saw them in Tahiti when they were with us in the Blue Water Rally and wisely left the Rally.

Rainbows herald a new beginning, hope for the future and special times amongst the beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea.

S/Y Aspen – February 20, 2018 – Log #156
Aspen Position: 15 degrees 34’ N  061 degrees 27’ W
Portsmouth, Dominica, Caribbean

The tooth saga has ended.  After seeing a French dentist who took nearly a dozen x-rays and poked and probed Captain Steve’s mouth for over an hour, he found nothing wrong except an infected gum.  Fantastic!  The tiny tools, antiseptic mouthwash and advice took care of the problem in a week.  The total cost?  Less than $50.

So it was off to Dominica we sailed, along with 25 other boats that were heading in the same direction!  Wow, what a pounding we took sailing between Martinique and Dominica.  8-10 foot Atlantic rollers shook Aspen while Admiral Maria tried to calm herself by watching the Devil Wears Prada for the five hundredth time on the DVD player.  The wind was blowing up to 25 knots so that made the trip even more rough.

Yet Portsmouth, Dominica was calling us to visit, after category 5 hurricane Maria destroyed nearly everything on the island.  Our friends needed help so it was well worth the effort to visit them.

Unlike Puerto Rico, the USVI, BVI’s and St. Maarten who were also destroyed by hurricanes this fall, Dominica has no big country to support them.  The USA helps Puerto Rico and the USVI.  England helps the BVI’s while France and Holland help St. Martin/St. Maarten.  Dominica is the poorest island in the Eastern Caribbean with only their neighboring islands to help them.

Caribbean sailors have always remained loyal to enchanting Dominica and this season was no different.  We rallied to help out as much as we can.  Roofing screws, food, ropes, tarps, you name it and sailors have arrived to do anything and everything we can for our friends in Portsmouth, Dominica.

The boat boys always take care of visiting sailors in the bay and now it was our turn to help them.  Unlike the damaged islands to the north, Portsmouth harbour is a beehive of activity with over 65 sailboats anchored for Cruisers Appreciation Week, willing to help in any way possible.

After many supplies were distributed, the sailors gave what is needed most to Portsmouth:  Money!  We spend currency on tours, food, rum, beer, in the restaurants and little bars, etc.  How about the little boy or girl selling a trinket on the street?  Sure, we’ll buy what they have but please keep the neckless or whatever they have for the next sailor walking by.

We took a tour with 3 other couples to the eastern side of the island; the Kalinago (Carib Indian) Reservation.  We thought the damage on the Portsmouth side of the island was bad.  Yet on the remote eastern coast of Dominica nearly every house or structure was heavily damaged.  Roofs are nonexistent, walls have been blown apart and the people are living in desperate conditions.

We had our tour van loaded with many supplies to help the Kalinago as much as we could.  Once the supplies were dropped off on the reservation, Captain Steve’s quest began:  Where was Sexy Bones?  (Sexy Bones is Captain Steve’s Kalinago friend/Shaman whom he wrote about in his book, if you remember)

Sexy Bones house was destroyed.  Several neighbors offered differing stories of where Sexy Bones might be.  We pursued each lead, eventually finding Sexy Bones x-sister-in-law who had the most recent information on his whereabouts.  Sexy Bones was somewhere in the bush, she explained.  He had been in the bush since the hurricane but came out when he needed to.  But not today it seemed.  Oh well, another time Captain Steve will catch up with Sexy Bones again and it will seem like old times.

Despite the hurricane damage and life changing events, the boat boys (officially knows as PAYS) hosted their weekly BBQ for sailors.  Nearly 120 sailors showed up to enjoy a chicken or fish supper with unlimited rum punch, along with welcoming speeches by government officials and dancing under the stars until the wee hours.  It just doesn’t get any better in the Caribbean than that.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Still in Martinique?

 Here is a picture of Maria at the dentist’s front door, waiting for him to return from lunch.  I believe the dentist’s office is also home to a hypnotist, as you can see.  Hmmmm.

 A hike on the wild side of Martinique's windy east coast.

 Our small hiking group of sailors on Martinique.

 Crossing a river along the route.  Luckily Maria didn't have to swim!

 Visiting the Clement rum distillery

The various rums that Clement produces.  Of course it is necessary to sample each one!

 Chateau Aubrey on Martinique.  This was supposedly owned by Lord Byron.
Steps up to the Chateau.  It was very eerie inside with crumbling ceilings and floors to avoid.  What a majestic place this must have been, back in the day.

Maria waiting for the bus in St. Anne, Martinique

 Aspen's anchorage in St. Anne, Martinique.  Diamond Rock is in the distance on the left while the coast of Martinique is in the middle and on the right.
The dinghy dock in St. Anne, Martinique.  This is where we put our dinghy when we go ashore.

Another hiking grou of friends in Martinique.  It was a beach hike as you can see.  We were waiting for noon when the restaurant would open!

Sunshine and water in St. Anne, Martinique.

The view from Aspen of our neighbors in St. Anne, Martinique.

Petit Anse d'Arlet, Martinique.  A fishing village along the west coast of Martinique where we anchored for a change.

S/Y Aspen – February 3, 2018 – Log #155
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 25’ N  060 degrees 53’ W
Ste. Anne, Martinique, Caribbean

Almost 2 months later, yes we are still in Martinique.  It is difficult to let go of the French wines, baguettes, cheeses and fantastic reasonably priced restaurants in this special place, deep in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.  So why not just enjoy it?

Many of our sailor friends are here with us and that lends a daily air of partying to the whole experience.  Hiking, sunset happy hours, beach picnics, a wee bit of Rum and great conversations are part of the sailing experience.

Well we did make two trips to the neighboring island of St. Lucia to get a few parts, or at least tried to get boat parts.  Captain Steve managed to spin the propeller on the dinghy outboard engine (he ran over a submerged rope).  So we needed a new propeller.  There were none in Martinique but St. Lucia said they had one, after a telephone call.  Well it turns out they really didn’t have a replacement propeller, once we made the sail over to that island.  Geeze.  It must have been a “mis-communication”, or so they thought.

We also had to find a dentist in Martinique yesterday.  Captain Steve’s tooth has been bothering him for about a month and after snorkeling it became more painful.  So off on a hike to the dentist we go.  Once we located a dentist about a mile away, we waited for him to show up at 3 pm, after he took a 3 hour lunch it seemed.  Unfortunately he didn’t speak English but agreed to take a look at the troublesome tooth.

Luckily the dentist’s next patient spoke English so that helped things as the waiting patient translated for the French dentist.  After poking around and pounding on the offending tooth it was determined that there might be a cavity under a crown but the dentist did not have the proper equipment to proceed any further.  Hmmmm.

So now we have antibiotics and pain pills to take care of the problem until we fly back to Colorado in the spring.  Let’s hope it works.

Just more adventures in the tropical Caribbean!

Sail on, sail on Aspen…