Category Archives: Travel

Rescue At Sea

Rescue of stranded Cuban refugees aboard a raft in the Gulf of Mexico

On the first day of our cruise we were at sea, headed to Costa Maya, Mexico. At some point in the afternoon we started to notice that the ship had slowed and started a big turn. As passengers realized this we started to wonder what was happening, and soon word started to spread that someone had spotted a stranded sailboat.

Soon the captain came on the PA and explained that we had passed a disabled boat and that the passengers were waving for help. It is a maritime rule that the closest vessel is obligated to perform a rescue, and that was us.

Rescue of stranded Cuban refugees aboard a raft in the Gulf of Mexico

While the rescue was taking place, the cruise director kept asking for “no photos or videos,” which is a lost effort when everyone on board is carrying a camera! I took a few photos of the rescue, but they are heavily cropped. The one time on the cruise where I wish I had packed my long lens!

Turns out it wasn’t much of a sailboat. We learned the following day when the rescued people were turned over to Mexican authorities that they were refugees from Cuba, had been at sea for over a month, and had recently run out of food and water.

Rescue of stranded Cuban refugees aboard a raft in the Gulf of Mexico

I can only imagine the desperation that people have that would make them want to undertake such an effort. I am thankful that any ship I sail on has plenty of food and water!

Rescue of stranded Cuban refugees aboard a raft in the Gulf of Mexico

A Slice of Color From Belize

Colorful foliage at Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line private island in Belize

Kathy & I are in Fredericksburg, TX after our cruise on Norwegian Prima, and I just took time to look at my photos so far. We didn’t get off the ship in Costa Maya, Mexico because we got in to port late and the weather was iffy, which turned out to be the right move because it rained most of the time we were in port!

Our stop in Harvest Caye, Belize was cloudy and overcast, so I didn’t get any “postcard worthy” photos, but I did manage to find some slices of color in this interesting foliage.

I’ve taken a bunch more photos and will get them posted in due time!

Colorful foliage at Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line private island in Belize
Colorful foliage at Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line private island in Belize
Colorful foliage at Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line private island in Belize

Postcard From Vicksburg, Mississippi

Cannons with the Illinois Memorial in the background. Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Kathy & I are enroute to Texas for the first leg of our winter travels. We made a long overdue stop in Vicksburg to visit the National Military Park there. It is a solemn reminder of the price many have paid over our nation’s history.

We visited on a cloudy and overcast day, but thankfully with no rain. The whole time I photographed there I was envisioning the photos in black & white, in an inadequate homage to the photographs that were made in the heat of the moment. The battlefields as they exist today are a distant reminder of the horrors of battle, but the tribute paid in the form of monuments and memorials  is moving.

Travel With Friends

Luc’s ‘Bonaire Photo Shoot’ van on the island of Bonaire

Most of the travel that Kathy & I do is by ourselves, but many times we arrange to see some friends along the way. We have started doing a pretty-much-annual “Friends & Family Tour” each summer, since for some reason a lot of our friends won’t travel to see us. Likely because we’re “never” home! 😉

Oktoberfest Celebration in Vilshofen, Germany

We do have a few couples who we can count on to let us know when they are planning a trip and who ask us it we want to come along, or come along with us on a trip we are planning. Most of these friends are retired and travel nearly as often as we do. We did a river cruise in October with three other couples and it was great. We all did things that suited our interests and went different places in different combinations. Our travel agents – who have also become friends – even booked a cruise after they found out we booked it, and we’ll be cruising with them in February! Other friends arrange to meet for a weekend or a few weekdays in an equidistant location.

Tom, Peter, Kathy and Stephanie at Over The Bar Restaurant at North Park Boathouse near Pittsburgh, PA
Jim, Lisa, Kathy and Tom at Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

We enjoy travel with friends because it sort of forces us to change up our routines, perhaps look at places or things a little differently, and sometimes we just end up someplace we haven’t thought of. Group photos are fun, too. Although more often or not we’re having so much fun we forget to have someone take them. I do take a few photos with my camera, but then I’m never in them! Selfies are okay, but we do like the occasional group photo taken by someone else. Especially if it is a large group – my arm isn’t long enough for a selfie!

Tom, Kathy, Cathy and Bill in Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia
Tom, Kathy, Peter, Stephanie and Spero at Sorobon Beach on the island of Bonaire
Spero contemplating the crashing waves along the eastern (Atlantic) coast of Bonaire

Touring Curacao

View of Grote Knip Beach on the island of Curacao

The final stop on our recent cruise was the island of Curacao. Together with Aruba and Bonaire, it forms the ABC islands. Collectively, Curaçao, Aruba, and other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean. Curacao is the largest of the ABC islands in both area and population as well as the largest of the Dutch Caribbean.

For our time on Curacao we booked a private tour with Henry Plaate, a taxi driver who I found on a Curacao tourism website. Henry and I communicated multiple times prior to our visit, and he did a fantastic job in showing us the highlights.

The waves along the northeast (Atlantic) shore were pretty incredible!

Wave action at Boka Tabla, an inlet in Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Waves crashing on the Atlantic coast at Shete Boka National Park, Curacao

I sometimes have problems with caves, but this one was not too deep, and the photo ops made me forget about any issues. Very cool!

Light rays in a cave at Boka Tabla, an inlet in Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Light rays in a cave at Boka Tabla, an inlet in Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Waves crashing in a cave at Boka Tabla, an inlet in Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Waves crashing in a cave at Boka Tabla, an inlet in Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Kunuku House near Willemstad, Curacao

Beaches and boats, some of my favorite scenery!

Beach at Playa Grandi, known as a spot for sea turtles and fishing on Curacao
Beach at Playa Grandi, known as a spot for sea turtles and fishing on Curacao
Beach at Playa Grandi, known as a spot for sea turtles and fishing on Curacao
Beach at Playa Grandi, known as a spot for sea turtles and fishing on Curacao
View of Grote Knip Beach on the island of Curacao
Local inhabitant at the Grote Knip Viewpoint on the island of Curacao
View of Santa Martha Bay on the island of Curacao
Flamingos near Jan Kok, Curacao
Downtown Willemstad, Curacao
Celebrity Equinox in Willemstad, Curacao
Tourist train in Willemstad, Curacao
Colorful restroom in downtown Willemstad, Curacao
Downtown Willemstad, Curacao
Dal Toro Restaurant in Willemstad, Curacao
Before…. Whole Snapper at Dal Toro Restaurant in Willemstad, Curacao
After…. Whole Snapper at Dal Toro Restaurant in Willemstad, Curacao
Henry Plaate, our tour guide. At Shete Boka National Park, Curacao
Helipad sailaway from Curacao aboard Celebrity Equinox
One of the critical operations of a cruise ship departure is “letting go the ropes.” These were taken from the helipad during sailaway from Curacao aboard Celebrity Equinox

A Visit To Bonaire

Flamingos! On the island of Bonaire

Our recent cruise took us to the islands of Grand Cayman, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. We booked a private tour on Bonaire with Luc of Bonaire Photo Shoot. I had found him online a while ago and this was our first opportunity to tour with him. He has a 12-passenger custom built van, which he built himself over a period of years. It is an open air bus for unrestricted photography but with shade, and is quite ingenious with hidden storage and easy access. Luc is a former photographer and all-around great guy. There were five of us on the tour and we had a great time.

Unlike many Caribbean islands, Bonaire is largely unspoiled, and there are plenty of native flamingos, donkeys and tropical birds.

Flamingos! On the island of Bonaire
Gnarly Tree. Island of Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Sorobon Beach is a popular spot for windsurfers.

Wind surfers at Sorobon Beach on the island of Bonaire
Sorobon Beach, Bonaire
Sorobon Beach, Bonaire
Wind surfers at Sorobon Beach on the island of Bonaire
Wild donkeys on the island of Bonaire
Fish sculpture on the beach. Island of Bonaire
Crashing waves along the eastern (Atlantic) coast of Bonaire
Crashing waves along the eastern (Atlantic) coast of Bonaire

Salt mining is still part of the economy on Bonaire, although the operations are now largely automated. Slaves were once used to harvest the salt, and they lived in the huts that remain along the beach.

Cargill salt works on the island of Bonaire

The marker points the way to one of many dive sites just off the beach.

Along the shore on the island of Bonaire
Slave huts on the island of Bonaire
Slave huts on the island of Bonaire
Semi Private. Te Amo Beach on the island of Bonaire
The 1000 Steps beach on the island of Bonaire
The 1000 Steps beach on the island of Bonaire
View of Goto Lake in Washington-Slagbaai National Park on the island of Bonaire
Goats on Bonaire
Views from Seru Largu viewpoint on the island of Bonaire
Seru Largu means “large hill” and from the top, you can see the capital city of Kralendijk and the little island of Klein Bonaire. There is a monument at the site which reads in the Papiamentu language as “Kristu Ayera Awe Semper” which means “Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever”
Seru Largu means “large hill” and from the top, you can see the capital city of Kralendijk and the little island of Klein Bonaire. There is a monument at the site which reads in the Papiamentu language as “Kristu Ayera Awe Semper” which means “Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever”
Kralendijk, Bonaire
Luc and his ‘Bonaire Photo Shoot’ van on the island of Bonaire

The Good Seats

Colorful seats. Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida

Kathy & I had stayed home for a few weeks when it was time to venture off again. We just returned from a swing through Florida that included a cruise with friends, a few days post-cruise with those same friends, then a few more days with other friends.

Our first stop enroute to Fort Lauderdale was Daytona Beach. We had some extra time so we decided to take a tour of the speedway. I haven’t followed NASCAR for many years, but it was still interesting to take the tour and visit the museum. This is just a sample of the photos, but I’m just getting started on looking at them!

These seats are located on the main straightway, on either side of the Start/Finish line. No idea how much they cost, but they are kind of low. Regardless, they look like they would have a close-up view of the action.

Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida