Iceland! The Golden Circle and Points East!

Breakfast Spot (1)

We got an almost early start our third day in Iceland, having to stop briefly for fresh croissants to eat in the car. The intention was to begin the drive around the ring road and hit the sites that  are highlighted along The Golden Circle. If you go for a tour, the buses do a loop out and back to Reykjavik that covers about 190 miles. We just went out and kept going.

Our first stop was premature, but we did finally locate Pingvellir National Park. The mass of cars and tour busses in the parking lot giving it away. This beautiful spot is where you can see a clear boundary between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates. Literally! There is a nice walking path but prior research had informed us that it’s also possible to skindive and see the break between the plates from underneath the very cold, very clear water. We chose the hike option. Lol.

PingvillierPlates

The path is directly between the plates

It wasn’t too far to the next stop but before we got to the Geysers, we had to stop so I could pet some horses. We saw so many horses in our travels around Iceland and it’s hard to believe that most of them are for riding. One of our homestays, has a hand in the industry and they educated us that it’s just the foals that are eaten, and the rest are used for riding. The horse I met seemed unsocialized, and I  well believed it could end up on a plate somewhere. No judgements here. About 10% of me wanted to try it but the majority said no and we didn’t actually see it on too many menu’s anyway.

Horses

Sorry, I have nothing to feed you. Let’s just say we’re even!

The next spot featured two geysers. One of which, Geysir, seems to have stopped erupting after an earthquake years ago. The other one though, is quite active. Stokkur erupts every 5-10 minutes and it was fun to stand outside the rope barrier along with 100 other people all going, “oh! oh!” every time the water would heave upwards. It always seemed to fake us out too, which led to much laughter.

After enjoying the show, we ended up climbing the small mountain behind the geysers for a little exercise and a different perspective. Quite beautiful from up there and you could seriously see for miles. TopOThe World

Our last interest point of the day was Gullfoss waterfall. This natural wonder is just an amazing site for tourists and even from a good half miles away, you cold feel the power from the rushing water and a definite drop in temperature from the spray hanging in the air. I understand that Iceland considered using if to generate power, but settled on just maintaining in as a tourist attraction instead.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss

Marc and I found our accommodations for the night pretty easily, but had a bit more trouble figuring out what to buy at the local grocery store for dinner. It’s hard to do when everything is in Icelandic and pictures can sometimes be misleading. We ended up with some pork ribs (they may have been heavily preserved, tasted like it) and some potato salad. Our digs had a hot tub so we had a great lazy evening of soaking, reading, having cocktails and dinner. The best part of the day, I cannot show you though. Marc woke me up and hurried me outside to see the Aurora Borealis. I had read that the earliest it could be seen was August 20th and so I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up, but there it was! A faint green glimmer in the sky that moved very fast and was gone in less than 10 minutes. How cool is that??!!

I’d like to say we got an early start the next day, but who am I kidding? After a breakfast of leftover croissant, bread and tea, we gathered up the trash, packed the car and took off. The sun was brilliant and the roads were sparsely traveled. We got gas and then found our first interest point of the day. Seljalandsfoss waterfall was beautiful and  is the location for a lot of wedding pictures. You can also hike up behind the falls and with our rain coats on, we were up to the challenge!Waterfall

Does anyone remember that volcano that erupted in Iceland back in 2010? It disrupted air travel for weeks and really brought attention to the whole country as newscasters tried (and mostly failed) to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull. We found it! Seems the buildings at the base all needed to be rebuilt, but a truck rumbling over the cattle gate and scaring the hell out of me seemed to mean that life was pretty much back to normal there.

eyjafjallajokull

How’d you like to live here? The offending volcano in the background.

We motored on and stopped when I saw this cute little house in the side of a mountain. Turns out, this is one of about 200 man-made caves that can only be found in the south of Iceland. This one is pretty deep and was used to store hay. It’s so deep, that another cave runs perpendicular to it and was used as a forge. We didn’t go in, having too many miles to go, but it’s really picturesque, eh?

Rutshellir

Tour buses led us to our next destination. The black sand beach  called Reynisfjara  is close to the southernmost tip of Iceland  and we were totally surprised to round a corner on the beach to see the basalt sea stacks  under the mountain. A small cave undercut the mountain and little sea birds called Puffins were constantly flying from the cliffs above out to the ocean.

BlackBeach1

BlackBeach2

Near the mouth of the cave. Good geological formations everywhere!

A word about food…. by now, we had a goodly supply of interesting potato chip flavors and we were trying to stay stocked up on apples, but we hadn’t quite clued in yet to the whole you can drive for miles and hours and never see a restaurant or a gas station. So we had a lot of lunches featuring paprika or Mexican peppers and cream chips or Doritos cool American  (read ranch flavor) chips. Dinners were usually much better! We were aiming for dinner in Hofn that night, as they are known as the best place for langoustines in the country. We just had to get there first.

Stream

A beautiful stream in the middle of nowhere.

After that pretty stream, we drove through some of the most monotonous countryside I’ve ever seen. Take rocks, cover them with moss, and then put that on both sides of the road for a couple of hours. Relieve the monotony by spotting the occasional big black bird perched on a rock but otherwise, that’s all there is. They even warn you somewhat on the maps. There is a big swath of green from the black sand beach all the way up to the Vatnajokull glacier. This is what it looks like in person:

Nothing

I never want to see this again and I’m pretty sure Marc feels the same way.

We did finally drive out of it and our attention was distracted by the massive glacier that loomed ever closer. We got out to stretch our legs and take a closer look at the first turn off we came to.  There are warnings posted to be careful and a plaque honoring two young Germans who went missing years ago and were never found. We picked our way over a rough path besides the glacier for some cool pictures.

Glacier

From there, it was another good hour or so to Hofn and that wonderful dinner. Then, another two hours or so to get to our stopping place for the evening. Thank goodness it doesn’t get dark until 10:30 or so at night. We were able to check out the mountains and the scenery almost until we arrived. Marc had booked a unique/ nostalgic spot for us and our host was this wonderful 65+ woman who seems to make her living as a homestay. Anna was great and so were the digs! Especially after the drive we had that day!

Hofn dinner

Langoustines with salad and potato. Marc chose the ‘Duck & Dive’ which included duck confit.

Camper:Eidur

Feeling great after a good nights sleep. Kind of like being in NZ again. Thank you Marc!

Pacific Coast Dreams: California!

Glass Beach1

Our last two days involved a LOT of driving. We had the option of taking it a bit more leisurely and not getting to see much of San Fransisco, or doing a push and spending a whole day there.  Ultimately we, or rather I, chose the whole day. I’d not been and really wanted to check it out. Unfortunately though, that meant other things got a bit tight.

We stopped in Fort Bragg in late afternoon. Inside MacKerricher state park is a beach known as Glass Beach. In the early 1900’s they used to use certain spots off the cliffs as town dumps. When one spot filled up and fires wouldn’t reduce it further, they’d start a new one. They did this until 1967 when  it seems they realized what a horrible thing they’d been doing and they cleaned up the beaches. They removed the stuff that wouldn’t break down and left the glass behind as it was of no harm and kinda pretty. Now, the place gets  a ton of tourists every day and while they ask folks not to collect the glass, everyone does. The stuff that’s left is  usually not much bigger than grains of rice. Nice beach though, and still fun to look.

Glassbeach2

We saw the most beach glass at a little place right outside of town called (appropriately enough) The Sea Glass Gallery and Museum. Run by a salty old dog named Captain Cass, he makes jewelry, leads the occasional tour and hosts a free museum displaying a wide variety of sea glass with informative displays. Marc and he really hit it off and they chatted for a bit while I gawked and snapped pictures. He also sells chunks of half tumbled glass that people can buy to chuck into the ocean as a reseeding effort. Due to the constant grinding action of the waves, and people’s tendency to want to take home a few souvenirs,  the amount of glass on the beaches is being reduced  all the time. Made me want to start collecting glass shards to throw overboard the next time I’m at the beach. How cool would that be to be part of someone else’s lucky find?

Glassbeach3

Vaseline glass. It glows under black lights.

We managed to get a couple of tramps to lighthouses in on one day. Our first was to Point Cabrillo lighthouse. It was a nice half mile walk mostly down a slight slope to get to the isolated station. The only sounds, the occasional cry of a gull or the far off bark of  a seal. The view was amazing and we even got lucky enough to spot a couple of seals relaxing in the sunshine offshore.

LighthouseCoast

PointCabrillo

Can you see the seals?

Can you see the seals?

There was a quick stop in Mendocino for lunch before we had to get on the road again. Gotta say the town was beautiful and we’re sorry to have missed seeing more of it. But here’s a quick picture of a beautiful repurposed church I took on the way out-of-town:Mendocino church

Next up was the Point Arena Lighthouse located on the Mendonoma coast. This point of land is the closest to Hawaii in the continental US and the lighthouse itself is the tallest on the pacific  coast. While we decided not to climb to the top, we did stay for the guided tour of the museum below and saw a beautiful Fresnel lens on display. These were used to reflect lights out to sea and  by  the series of light flashes, length of time between flashes and colors associated with the flashes, ships at sea  could figure out where they were. These lenses were made in France, shipped here and elaborately reconstructed in the towers.

FresnelLense

Got it! We like to play tag with lighthouses.

Got it! We like to play tag with lighthouses.

The rest of the day was spent in a nausea inducing drive trying to follow the coast the rest of the way to San Fransisco. Honestly, for anyone taking this route north to south, we would recommend not bothering. By this point, you’ve seen plenty of the coast and the roads through here are rough, very twisty and with big variances in altitude. Instead, take Highway 1 to 101 south and save yourselves some time. By pushing hard, we were able to make it to the Golden Gate bridge right as the sun was setting. It was very windy, but an amazing view.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.12.37 AM

It’s a good thing we did visit the bridge that afternoon. The next morning, the whole place was shrouded in a fog so thick it was hard to see five feet in front of you. In the morning, we went to a scenic overlook called Twin Peaks park that sits near the center of San Fransisco. From the top, we could see 180 degree views of the bay area. It was weirdly beautiful with patches of fog pushed by strong winds alternately revealing and hiding the surroundings. Nature playing peekaboo, if you will.

Twin Peaks, SF      Hunger was the impetus to move on to our next destination. The world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco is a tourists dream. The  area is loaded with seafood restaurants, buskers,  charter boats and shops  of all kinds willing to sell you whatever you’re missing. We got really lucky to get a parking spot right in the middle of the craziness that validated with a restaurant visit. While it wasn’t the best crab cake I’ve ever had, it was far from the worst. What a first world problem, eh?

FWSF

Alcatraz lurks disturbingly offshore.

Alcatraz lurks disturbingly offshore.

One of the neatest things we found while walking around Fisherman’s Wharf was a place called Musee Mecanique. In a unasuming building right next to the water is this huge collection of antique penny arcade games gathered by the late Edward Zelinsky. He started collecting them in 1933 and there is an amazing variety of games of skill, fortune tellers, early peep shows and even matchstick artwork made by the inmates of Alcatraz on display inside. Best of all, everything works and you can play anything inside! I think the latest games I saw might have been from the 70’s, and there weren’t many of them.

Matchstick Ferris Wheel. Echo's of Seattle?

Matchstick Ferris Wheel. Echo’s of Seattle?

What was he looking at?

What was he looking at?

Palm Reader

The Magic Ray! My fortune read: You delight in high-minded pursuits, your love for domestic pleasure is pronounced in all your actions, you make a devoted companion. Those who deal with you must do so gently and persuasively….

We had three more destinations in mind for the day and we needed to get to them fast! First up was Lombard street. Known unofficially as the twistiest street in the world, it was eight switchbacks in a one block area. It goes one way only on red brick pavement and  seems to be constantly  navigated by tourists. Kinda feel sorry for anyone who lives there, but then again, you’d have to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

We booked from there over to the old ruins of the Sutro baths on the western side of San Fransisco. Built by a former mayor of San Fransisco, these were the largest indoor swimming pools in the world for their time. Unfortunately, they never made any real money and closed in 1966. While they were being dismantled, arson was responsible for destroying what was left and the developer took the money and ran. Now, it’s a part of national park service and a home for all kinds of birds with hiking trails and a couple of small restaurants where you can sit and people watch and bird watch from a warm, non windy spot inside.  It’s also is a great spot for wedding pictures.

Sutrobaths

Our last stop was really special. We managed to hit the Castro district of San Fransisco on the first day of Pride on June 26th. The same day that the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a right afforded to all people in our country, gay or straight! The atmosphere was jubilant and the energy of the crowd was amazing. People were walking around with the biggest smiles and the most outlandish costumes, hugging and cheering and just generally carrying on as you do at a Pride celebration.

Castro1

We had so much fun just generally being part of the celebration, people watching, doing a little shopping and getting some photos taken with other celebrants. What an amazing way to end an awesome trip.

wedding celebration

We wanted to find a place to eat in the middle of the chaos, but the lines were super long and in the end, we opted to leave the party and head back towards our hotel. We ended up at this cool little family owned taqueria near our hotel that had the most amazing food. Our last night was spent eating authentic mexican food and watching the San Fransisco Giants baseball team play a tight game against the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies won, 32 to 40 at the last minute and I think we were all a little deflated after that.  Still, the food was great and it was really neat to share that time with the family.

Our trip home was uneventful and the supershuttle got us home safe and sound.  I swear I needed a vacation after my vacation. LOL. Luckily, at that time I wasn’t working that much so it wasn’t too hard to get rested up again. Would we do it again? Definitely! Although next time we’re thinking of sticking to the Seattle area and participating in the bike ride and exploring Olympic National Park/ Forest.  There are so many places we want to visit and only so much vacation time to go around so we have to be judicious. But traveling with Marc is the best part of any trip. He sure knows how to fit a bunch of stuff in a short time and make the most of any trip. Looking forward to the next trip already!

T2

 

Bye all and thanks for following along with us on Chasing Summer!

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Coast Dreams: Oregon

Right, so last time we met, our heroe’s had just driven off into the sunset south towards new adventures. The first of which was a visit to the Astoria column. Marc had looked it up and it seemed interesting so off we went. It is the highest point in Astoria and is decorated with paintings on the outside showing different significant events in the history of the area, This is what we found when we got there

Astoria1

Look! It’s a giant condom  covered column!

This is what it's supposed to look like.

This is what it’s supposed to look like.

Gotta love city workers. Marc asked why they were still collecting a parking fee when there was nothing to see.  We were told our contribution actually made us park members for a whole year and we could come back any time with our receipt for free entrance into the park. *Laughs* Really guys? Still, it was a nice enough spot. You could see for miles and miles and it was a beautiful day. We moved on though as we still had miles to go.

AstroiaShipwreck

This is the wreck of the Peter Iredale. It sits inside part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historic parks network. It ran aground in 1906 on Clatsopt Spit due to a mix of foul conditions. Fog, a rising tide and a harsh squall combined to push the ship up onto the sands. They were going to try to  tow it back out to sea, but good conditions didn’t combine in a timely enough manner and the ship was sold for scrap. The Captain’s final toast to his ship,

” May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.” I wouldn’t say they’re bleaching, more like rusting away, with less and less remaining every year according to one local we talked to. The kids love it though. Neat jungle gym, eh?

Haystack1

Things took a bit of a bizarre turn as we continued down the coast. Our next stop was Cannon Beach to visit Haystack rock. See that lovely sunshine up above? We drove through beautiful forests with the sun shining down through the trees and glimpses of beach off to the left as we got closer and closer. Then, we turned a corner and dropped into  something else altogether different.

Haystack2

Haystack Rock @ high tide

Fog, or a foggish mist that dimmed the sun and put a haze on everything in front of us. Haystack rock looked pretty cool. It’s 275 feet high ( 72 meters for my NZ friends) and  it really does dominate the landscape. At low tide you can walk over to it although we didn’t get that lucky though.  There are two large needles off to the left, but I didn’t get any really great shots of them. People were hanging out, walking the shoreline and a few kids playing at the water’s edge. Not really a beach day as I think of it, but then it is a lot cooler than in the summertime.

We holed up at a rather nice little place in Rockaway Beach that night called the Seaview Motel. It was a one-off place than nonetheless did not skimp on the fresh towels, or cleanliness. The town is known for steam engine rides and beaches that are great for building bonfires on. There was also a neat little geologic feature off shore:RockawayBeach

We got a somewhat early start  the next dayand continued south. I had been seeing signs for the Tillamook jerky outlet and since I know Marc absolutely loves jerky, we had to stop in. The outlet store is right next to their production building and man did they have all kinds of jerky. Heck, they had jerky I’d never even thought of, like turkey nuggets. Suffice to say, we bought our fair share.

TillamookFO

Marc pays homage

Next stop was the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast and a nice chance to stretch our legs for a short jaunt to the point. Cape Mears is not active anymore,  and was switched off in 2014. Now it functions as a  small park for the public and a learning and appreciation center for lighthouses. We actually got to go inside this one for free and the guides gave a nice little tour.

Cape Mears1

Winding our way upwards

Winding our way upwards

There is also a really amazing Sitka Spruce pine tree a short hike away from the lighthouse.  Called the Octopus Tree, no one knows why it formed like it did as they don’t usually grow like this. Some think that some native Americans trained the tree to grow like this, but it’s really all conjecture. Pretty cool though, eh?

Believed to be between 250-300 years old. The tree, not me!

Believed to be between 250-300 years old. The tree, not me!

We were on our way to a famous cave where all the sea lions like to gather when I spotted a whole bunch of them taking a nap on a sandbar. We stopped and grabbed the binoculars for a little wild animal gazing and probably ended up saving ourselves as little coin as this was free. LOL.

Lazy Sealions

Lazy Sea lions

We did one more quick stop for the day before quitting for the evening. I so wanted to do this tramp, but the stairs and steepness of the cliff was daunting so in the end, it was deemed easier to just take a couple of snaps. This is called Devil’s Churn.

Devils Churn

We stayed at this weird little motel right off the highway. The big draw was ocean views but it was more like we looked out onto the bay really. Did get to see a beautiful sunset though so it was all good.

OSunset

Gonna stop here for now so no one, including myself gets too overwhelmed.  Hopefully, I can keep it to one more post to finish up. Thanks for following along and see you next time on Chasing Summer!

Flooorida!

 

Cara4

Plantation Key

I have been so lame about keeping up with my travel blog. Sheesh! I’m wanting to post our trip to the West coast, but before I do that, I better dish on our Florida trip last fall. We’d been thinking about a trip to the Key’s for a while actually. Going all the way down to the very tip. Road trip, baby! So, that’s just what we did.

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale in late August and picked up the rental car at the airport. Marc surprised me with a convertible Mustang. Nice, eh? Our first stop was his Aunt Marie’s who lives right by the intercostal waterway. She was a gracious host and we had a lovely visit with a dinner at this awesome place that plopped a massive T- bone steak down in front of me that just dripped with melting Gorgonzola cheese. I didn’t think to take a picture until after dinner at which point she refused and questioned, ” why does everyone always want to do that AFTER dinner?” You’ re right Aunt Marie, nobody is ready for a close up after dinner. I shall remember that.

The next morning, we got an early start… after looking longingly at that leftover steak. We were headed south with the sunshine beaming and the top down! Our first stop was  right outside Key Largo. Tavernier is home to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center.  They have been rehabbing and releasing wild birds since the 1980’s and also providing a permanent home to those that can’t be released. Of course, bird’s aren’t fools. They will stick around if they might get a free meal now and then.

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They were so cool! Also totally disinterested in me when I didn't give them fish.

They were so cool! Also totally disinterested in me when I didn’t give them fish.

You can see forever down here

You can see forever down here

We also managed to stop at Treasure Village in Plantation Key for a couple of pictures in front of their thirty-five foot lobster. Big Betsy is something of a major tourist attraction for the Keys and once said to be the second most photographed icon. Our first night in the Keys was spent at a really nice plantation style resort recommended by a friend. With three or four pools and an additional saltwater pool, swim up bars and a free tram to take you anywhere on the property you wanted to go, it had everything. We managed to catch an hour in the pool after a long hot day and then a gorgeous sunset.

Duck Key Sunset

Duck Key Sunset

We got a somewhat early start again the next day and drove ever South on US 1. The highway is straight and  interspersed between the small towns and the flat, scrub terrain, are blue, blue waters sparkling and reaching towards the horizon. We stopped for a bit of a tramp and to give ourselves time to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery at something under 55 miles an hour. Vaca Key is home to Crane Point Museum and Nature Trail. There are several beautiful walking trails, a wild bird sanctuary and also enfolds the remnants of the first black settlement in Florida. In 1890 the Adderley’s sailed from the Bahama’s to the Keys. They purchased land at Crane point and started to build their home. It’s notable for a couple of  reason’s. It’s the oldest surviving home outside of Key West and it’s construction method. George made it out of tabby, which is a Bahamian technique involving burned up shells mixed with lime and sand and water to make a concrete that was then poured into molds. I tell you, it still looks solid enough to live in today. The man had some mad skills.

going for a tramp

going for a tramp

 

Cara5

Tabby House

After we returned to our car and headed towards Key West, we could see storm clouds gathering in front of us and actual lightning and rain hitting part of the Keys. When the ground is that flat, you really can see a long way off. We debated whether to hole up somewhere close or drive on. In the end, we decided to keep going. We figured we’d miss the storm as it wasn’t truly in the way. Isn’t technology a wonderful thing?

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

Thanks to some fancy and quick phone booking, Marc got us a room at this cool little boutique hotel/inn called  NYAH.  Short for Not Your Average Hotel.We pulled up just in time for happy hour and were offered wine and cheese. The room was very interesting as it could sleep six to a room or eight if everyone is really friendly. There were little cabinets with individual locks that made me think they get a lot of backpackers. They also had 3 pools on a small property ranging from coolish (hey, it’s Florida after all), to kinda warm. They would also provide a nice breakfast every morning and towels every day. Lovely!

Hotel from the back deck.

Hotel from the back deck.

With the happy hours, we got to meet some of the folks staying there. Very much an international clientage with a polyglot of languages heard around the pools. We made friends with three Russians traveling together. It was supposed to be four, but one of the guys had a breakup with his girlfriend shortly before they left. Something about her not wanting to go. They were traveling for 3 months and wanted us to recommend a place in New York city. Unfortunately, we couldn’t help them with that.

But we could help them with the beer.

In our remaining time, we  checked out Key West. We walked through parts of the city. We visited Ernest Hemingway’s house. That was really neat. To hear about his ways of loving and leaving the ladies, see the desk he wrote some of his stories on and meet some of the descendents of his six toed cats was awesome. Did you know they actually employ a breeding program to get more six toed cats now?

They don't allow you to pick up the cats, but they can't tell the cats not to jump up on your lap for some love.

They don’t allow you to pick up the cats, but they can’t tell the cats not to jump up on your lap for some love.

We also got in line to have a photo-op with ourselves at the southernmost point in the United States. it’s like a thing there, everyone has to do it.  The line moved quickly though and everyone was really nice taking pictures for each other and talking about the best place to visit and to eat.

90 To Cuba

At night, we roamed the streets to people watch and try out a few places to eat. Of course we had to try Margaritaville. If you ever go, try the fish taco’s. They’re wonderful! They also seem to have live music every night. We had to check, the daquiri’s  were really good. On our wandering around the town, we also found the smallest bar in Key West, if not the world.

Getting arty with it. I think they have three or four barstools.

Getting arty with it. I think they have three or four bar stools.

As all leavings are, it was a little sad to have to leave Key west in the rear view for our drive North. We kept the top down as much as we could and rolled along with only a couple of brief stops for lunch and a small tramp to actually dip our feet in the ocean. For al the water we were surrounded by, we hadn’t really gotten in it. Beaches are fairly rare around there so when we actually saw one, we stopped. I think we both limited ourselves to wading as we were going to be sitting on an airplane in just a few hours.

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So, that’s the trip. Man, just writing about it makes me want to go again! One of these days we definitely will.

Bye!

Bye!

 

Thanks for following along guys! Hope to see you again through your own blogs, or in person!

Paragliding in Bali

I know I’ve included some pictures of the paragliding sites in Bali in previous posts, but here are a few more. While the weather didn’t usually cooperate with the pilots, there was on average a least one day a week of good flying weather and one particular week with  four or five days that were awesome.

This is the new fence @ Timbus. Nice and welcoming, eh?

This is the new fence @ Timbus. Nice and welcoming, eh?

So, one of the sites there is called Timbus. About four weeks into the trip a fence was erected by developers to curb pilots getting to the site through their property. To the right of the fence used to be cow pastures. Now, the land has been cleared and no one knows what will be built there next. Golf course? Villas? One things for sure though, paragliders will not be welcome from the looks of things. For now, folks are still taking the known path and then just skirting the fence. It’s dangerous though and we couldn’t help wondering how much longer people will be able to fly here.

Pandawa Beach lies under Timbus. Marc took this from the air.

Pandawa Beach lies under Timbus. Marc took this from the air.

Timbus from the air. Me in the hammock.

Timbus from the air. Me in the hammock.

I said in an earlier post that few women are in the sport compared to the men. Here’s a few women I met there. Julie was from India and Penny was from Singapore. I heard a great story about a German woman pilot I didn’t get to meet. She beach landed (you really want a top landing) and got a little scrapped up. She immediately had five guys looking to help her get her glider together and then one took her back to the launch site after he stopped for some iodine for her cuts. Wouldn’t take any money either. The two guys who bombed out twenty minutes before her? They had to walk to the road to find a reasonable rate on a taxi to take them back. Local prices were too high!

Julie & Penny

Julie & Penny

Marc reached another milestone in Bali. He got his Two hundredth hour in the air there! We celebrated with Bintang’s after the flight.

Wayne & Marc celebrate 200 hours!

Wayne & Marc celebrate 200 hours!

We met an amazing woman named Maggie one day and helped her achieve her dream of a tandem flight by taking her to the launch site. I think ten minutes after we introduced her to Reky they were up and away for a nice long tandem flight. She even hung out with us afterwards for dinner and drinks. Gotta admire a girl who comes to Bali by herself and isn’t afraid to take on challenges.

Ready to Go!

Ready to Go!

Reky:Maggie2

Gunung Payung was the other site for flying. A little further down the road, it was also reached by traversing cow pastures. I like this one better because I could walk to the temple and down to the beach from there.

PGGunungPayong1

Marc in the Green Nivuk Wing

Temple from the air. Marc said he would sometimes see monkeys playing on the roofs.

Temple from the air. Marc said he would sometimes see monkeys playing on the roofs.

PGGunungPayung3

View from the beach.  When he's throwing shade on me.

View from the beach. When he’s throwing shade on me.

Ok, so here’s a really neat coincidence. Our last day there we go out to Timbus to check out the flying. We see a taxi that is braving to rutted cow pasture to get to the site and a couple of guys guiding it. We started talking to the guys as it’s very slow going and find out one of them in from New Zealand. We talk a little about our trip and then go on a head. About ten minutes later Marc brings the guy over to me and says “honey, we know this guy!” “What?” “Do you remember meeting a guy outside Mission Bay one day who was kiting his wing and said he was living in Hong Kong? This is the guy!”  Isn’t that incredible? Kinda like when we picked up the French hitchhikers the second time.

Us with Greg & Dell. Greg is who we had met previously.

Us with Greg & Dell. Greg is who we had met previously.

So that’s about it for flying in Bali. Oh wait! I did get a thrill out of the size of the kites there. One of our last days there I emerged from the bush to see a bunch of locals pulling like mad and a zippy sound in the air. Turns out I’d just witnessed the launch of a huge kite.

Part of the crew.

Part of the crew.

Sounds awesome flying!

Sounds awesome flying!

Massive, isn't it?

Massive, isn’t it?

Alright! So, that was Bali. I’m glad to be back in Auckland though and really looking forward to getting back to the states. Marc’s already flown at Kariotahi beach once and I hope he’s gets a bit more in this last week. Cheers everybody and thanks for liking my blog.

Favorite Places to Eat

Marc took me to some of his previously loved restaurants and we also found some new ones to love together. Some of the best were:
Gorgonzola: With great pizzas and enack ( tasty) Italian food how could we go wrong? The setting is lush and low with comfortable coaches and standard tables as well. The owner Gibson is a really gracious host and with live entertainment of Saturday night, it’s easy to stick around for one more daiquiri or Bahama Mama.

Lucy & Agus Entertain

Lucy & Agus Entertain

With Gibson

With Gibson

Puti Intan is a halal place just down the street from Nirmala. Most every time we come, Dani is behind the counter cooking something or serving guests. The food there was awesome, if a tad spicy.

Can you see all the food on the shelves behind Dani?

Can you see all the food on the shelves behind Dani?

Our Usual. Left Plate:Fried Chicken, Tamerind Beef, Casava Leaves and Rice with Sauce. Marc's: Fried Chicken, Crispy Beef, Fried Omlet and Rice with Sauce and Sambal (spicy tomato sauce)

Our Usual. Left Plate:Fried Chicken, Tamerind Beef, Casava Leaves and Rice with Sauce. Marc’s: Fried Chicken, Crispy Beef, Fried Omlet and Rice with Sauce and Sambal (spicy tomato sauce)

The most romantic place we went was Jimbaran Beach @ sunset. The seafood restaurants line the beach and tables stretch halfway or more to the surf.  Watch the sun go down before ordering.The prawns are to die for, and the red snapper, octopus and clams are all pretty good as well. Wash it all down with some Bintang besars, and it’s all good.

Jimbaran SunsetPlay

JimbaranBeachSunset2

Jimbaran Prawns & Clams with Balinese Sauce, Rice, Spinach and Bintangs

Jimbaran Prawns & Clams with Balinese Sauce, Rice, Spinach and Bintangs

Coconut Smoke in the Sky at Jimbaran Beach

Coconut Smoke in the Sky at Jimbaran Beach

We also tried GaRaSe many times for breakfast, lunch and occasionally dinner. Breakfasts were funny. I don’t think we ever got our toast with the meal. It always came when you’ve just finished the eggs and was usually only “warmed”.

Flower in the back courtyard @ GaRaSi

Flower in the back courtyard @ GaRaSi

We went to the Kopi Pot in Kuta a couple of times. Their tea is awesome. Nice when you can score a bale too.

KopiBalet

Also went to Mama’s; a German Restaurant in Kuta that Marc remembers from ten years ago. They are famous for their ham hocks. Their pork scalopine wasn’t bad either.

Looking down onto Legion Street

Looking down onto Legion Street

MamasHam

Right, so before I go, a little menu fun. Sometimes they try so hard…

MenuFun

MenuFun2

And, one ettiquete lesson for folks using Western bathrooms.

ToiletSign

Last one for Bali is the paragliding post. Stay tuned for updates!

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things

Before I leave off the Bali posts now that we’re back, I figured I’d write and share some pictures  about what we’d do there on a daily basis. Things like internet cafes:

The chairs wobbled so it was better to go with the floor. Filthy though.

The chairs wobbled so it was better to go with the floor. Filthy though.

This place had AC and chairs! Cleaner too.

This place had AC and level chairs! Cleaner too.

We went to see movies:

Movies

World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2, Reds, and The Killing Season

We did go to the beach together sometimes although it was more often for me to go while he was flying. Our friend Chris shared a good way down to the beach. He used it most mornings to sail the boats he made out of trash on the beach. At low tide, it was good for shallow snorkeling and for the local women to hunt for shells or the men to net for dinner. I liked to soak up the sun.

Ready to launch!

Ready to launch!

Shell Hunt

Shell Hunt @ Low Tide

The shade is a welcome relief after the intensity of the blaring sun.

The shade is a welcome relief after the intensity of the blaring sun.

We’d drive around and look at statues:

Ganesh

Ganesh

Taking Wedding Photos @ Pandawa Beach

Taking Wedding Photos @ Pandawa Beach

SeaGod

Along the way to Balangan/Dreamland

Along the way to Balangan/Dreamland

HorseFight

And of course all the great restaurants and all the paragliding that Marc got to do while we were here. I think I’ll do a post each for those last two topics so I can get in more pictures and nobody gets overwhelmed. Enjoy the pictures!