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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back to Vieques....

Second trip is booked. We're committed now! We stay at Casa Dos Chivos this time. Looking forward to seeing Orchid, Secret and Green beaches.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bluebirds have been busy...

As I was walking over to the point this afternoon I noticed a female bluebird fly out of one of the boxes. I walked over and opened it up to see if she was sitting on eggs and look what I found. The box is rather high so it was difficult to see exactly how many eggs she had, but I think there's five. Now if only the sparrows will leave her alone. This box not near our house and is in the prairie grass.

Everything is really greening up now. This is a shot of the lane leading to the point. When I started down the lane I saw that the larkspur was blooming. I planted this from seed I collected along a county road.

It took at least 3 years for these to finally start blooming. They're spreading slowly along the path. These are a favorite of the deer. So far they haven't found them.

There is a certain spot along the path where I many times see morning cloaks. This has went on for a number of years now and it's a very specific spot and always the same spot. I saw this one today. He looks a little rough.
 Now how's this for a toadshade plant. These are a yellow variety I orded a number of years ago. They are much larger than the burgandy one's common to our woods.
Back at the opening of the point there are tons of these "Pussy Toes" now blooming. Pussy toe is a plant of very poor soil, often acid where little else will grow. It's coming up between the moss and lichen that cover the point.

Here's a shot of the point. Changing fast now. You can still see a few redbuds and the dogwoods are blooming. The tulip poplar in the distance, next to the pine, is beginning to leave out. In late summer at sunset  Ursa Major is right next to those two trees.

On the way back I saw this  red admiral. It and  a  morning cloak (not the one I saw on the way in because this one had both wings intact) were doing battle.

"Jack-in-the-Pulpits" are up everywhere too.

I always thought this tree had a strange base to it.

Lastly it wouldn't be spring without these guys popping up. They where on the hillside just behing the tree with the weird base. The one in the upper left is a perfect "fiddle-head".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Casa Dos Chivos

Here's a snapshot of where I belive the Casa Dos Chivos is located, We ended up taking the road southwest from the house till it ran into the road that headed east to 997. I have a video of traveling the road to 997.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just enough time for the trillium...

Weather broke this evening and I decided to grab the camera and head out for a few shots. Was very surprised to see the trillium is blooming. It's only been 3 days since I was out walking. Never seems to be enough time to see it all happen. So glad I took a few moments this evening. 

These flowers were blooming at the entrance to the lane, I don't even remember planting them? I saw them in two different spots.

Everything is budding out now. How often do we take the time to really look at a tree bud? Rather remarkable process that most don't even notice.

That's a sassafrass tree bud on the right. Below is a pin oak budding out.

Yea I know...simple things, not of much interest to most folks. We as a species are so out of touch with our natural environment.  We charge along each day with some man-made self enforced agenda oblivous to the fact that we are chasing nothing but a  ghost. Can you tell I worked overtime twice this week?  Anyway...the whole process of the changing of the seasons fascinates me. I get a bit aggitated when it passes me by because I've been marching lockstep with the rest of the lemmings.

Did catch a shot of the outhouse in the setting sunlight. There are flowering bulbs coming up all around it, can't really tell from the picture. Structure has made it through two winters now, held up nicely.

Here's  a few other shots of interest. First is a river birch budding out. You just gotta love the bark on these trees, especially in the snow. I planted 100 of them in the west field of prairie grass and about half of that in the east field where the wet spot is. It's somewhere out in the middle of this picture below.

Took a picture of one of logs I was cutting firewood from last year (below shot). This tree was over 100 years old. It was a spring storm about 5 years ago that took it down. Largest tree on the property.

Redbuds in bloom. These won't last very long at all.
Once again I've got a lot more shots, but just not enought time tonight.

Monday, April 5, 2010

evening walk to the point....

Warm this evening....thick air and rich smells, earthy. It seemed as though overnight everything bloomed, that or I just wasn't paying much attention. Driving home from work I saw some serviceberry in bloom. The serviceberry is the very first wild tree/shrub to bloom here. A lot of people think it's a dogwood, but the dogwoods haven't bloomed yet. The serviceberry got its name because it is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, right after the big snows melt. This was the time in the olden-days that the preacher could get through the snow and have the first church "service". We've have a number of them growing wild on the property, they're in bloom now and were the reason I took the walk this evening. On my way over to the point I noticed a pair of bluebirds, not far from a box I put up recently. I went over an opened to check and sure enough there's a nest. Now only if the sparrows will leave them alone.

The warm weather and rain we've had has set everything in motion. The moss on the path back to the point is really getting thick now...and so green. As I was walking along the path I heard a turkey gobbling. They haven't been spending much time over on the point lately and for that I'm glad. Last year the broke off many of the daffodils with their scratching.  I missed getting any pictures of the crocuses in bloom this year. For what ever reason the deer left them alone this time. The earlier blooming daffodils have already finished blooming but the larger one's are just now coming on.  I've  now got them planted from the lane entrance to the point all the way back to the outhouse and down the hill. Not sure how many I've planted now, a few hundred anyway. These are the only bulbs I've found that are deer proof. The problem is your limited on colors unless you want to dump a lot of money into the process. I can't see doing that for flowers that are going into the woods.

I took pictures of mayapples, dogtooth violets, dutchmans britches and of the outhouse but I'm too tired to upload this evening. I'll end with a shot off the point. You can see some of the redbuds in bloom, well I can anyway. This will look a whole lot different in a month.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vieques....aka Paradise

Our first sojourn begins with a trip to Vieques.In case you don't know Vieques it's an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

This trip was a way of celebrating my daughter's coming graduation from high school (that's her to the left). We were awaiting pending news of a possible scholarship for college and had been hoping to have gotten some info on it prior to leaving for the trip. As is turns out we learned that she indeed did get the scholarship on the first full day of our vacation. She’s all smiles.

So why Vieques? Well initially I had ask my daughter where she might like to go on a vacation. I must also add that we hadn't taken a family vacation, of this sort, for nearly 10 years. Her response to me was "Some place warm where I can swim in the ocean." Given those parameters I knew we would be leaving the United States. I was able to narrow down the list even more given that we didn't have passports at the time. That led me to Puerto Rico since it was the furthest point south where we didn't need a passport. Vieques seemed a little bit more unique in that it wasn't quite as developed, for commercial tourism, as the main island was. I did some googling and found a web site Tripadvisor.com that had a ton of information about the island and a unique group of people with very detailed information about the place.

So... armed with all this data we booked the flights and a suite at the Hacienda Tamrindo. We opted to fly directly onto the island of Vieques rather than take the ferry. Here's a shot of the "puddle-jumper" we flew. (I rode in the co-pilot seat on the flight over, Jessica rode shotgun on the flight back).

We also purchased snorkeling equipment from Amazon. We bought 3 sets of snorkels. The type we bought worked fantastic for us. Other things we purchased were beach shoes (this turned out to be a real necessity since there are some wicked sand burrs just off the beach-front. We also bought 3 disposable underwater cameras. We bought the Fuji brand.

Vieques exceeded all our expectations and we're heading back in the fall. Rather than rattle on about every detail I'll just post some photos now.

This guy greeted us each morning at breakfast!

Zach, tired from a long day of watching the wild horses.

and here’s one of those horses just a stones throw from the pool…

This is how most mornings were spent before breakfast, Lorrie is behind the camera.

We spent nearly all of our beach time on Blue Beach. The picture on the header of this blog is a shot Lorrie took of Jessica from inside our makeshift shelter (courtesy of some previous visitor). Here’s a picture of that magnificent structure…

Civilization still managed to creep into our beach time…”Fours bars, now if it’ll just hold till I finish this text”

That’s looking west along Blue beach…notice the crowd.

Now from everything I had read prior to us making the trip I was convinced one could swim out to
the island in the picture above. But standing there with Lorrie it sure looked like a long swim and we had no idea how deep the water would get.

I finally got up enough nerve to get it a try. If you go snorkeling off the beach you will quickly learn that you DON’T put your fins on the way I am doing it and you move backwards into the water. Rookie move, what can i say.

After my test run we all geared up.

Jessica was convinced that spitting into her mask was the most disgusting thing ever!

Now we’re ready for action!

Oops…almost forgot Lorrie. She’s a natural when it comes to snorkeling.

This is 3/4’s of the way over to the island. Notice how shallow it is. The whole way over to the island it never really got very deep. Lot’s of sea grass. This is an edit to the orginal post made with our first trip . Please DO NOT MAKE the mistake we're making here. DON'T walk on the coral. We are probabaly destroying new coral by standing here.  Even though it's looked like mostly sea grass  there were probably juvenile coral formations present. We had watched other people people doing it, and like lemmings followed their lead. Swim out to the cay off of Playa Chiva. The picture above and the next few were taken with the Fuji underwater disposable camera.

Just some pictures of fish and coral.

At times the water wasn’t much deeper than this so you had to be really careful picking your path. We were told to avoid the black sea urchins.

A touch blurry but you can see three of the  little devils in this picture. It’s rather hard to hold the camera steady underwater and shoot pictures. I shot 3 rolls and 75% of the shots are either blurry or the water was too deep for a clear shot.

You can see in this picture how all the colors become muted with any distance at all.

I thought the little blue and green fish in the lower left forefront was so cool. Too bad you can barely see him.

Break time…it’s amazing just how dry your throat gets snorkeling. Once again DON'T stop and stand like we are doing here.
Once again another fish, but still, you can’t really see him well.

Doesn’t that brain coral look strange? (I’m guessing it’s brain coral..not really sure)

Time to head back.

Large starfish Jessica spotted on the way back. It was in the seagrass.


On the left is Jessica pointing to some sea glass she found. We spent one evening over on the north side of Vieques, east of Isabell II searching for sea glass. In a little under an hour we found quite a few pieces.
 Below is me doing the same.

Lorrie and Jessica both got pedicures for the trip...

Lorrie and Jessica outside Biobay tours. The flowers were just beautiful.

Well since I started down this tangent here's another flower shot.

one more....

Last one I promise...

Well I lied...I wanted to show this because it is a Ylang Ylang bloom. The scent from these were everywhere around the Hacienda. You can't describe the fragrance you've just got to experience it.

Evening time on the Malecon in Esperanza

Lorrie and me...like my new carribean shirt.

I got a shirt, she got a new dress. Looks beautiful.

Last day at the beach....

I could get used to this.......