Tuesday, November 11, 2008

As Is the Universe, So Is the Atom

This is an adage from a Zen sayings mini book I've had in my collection for the last 15 years.

I'm reminded of this quote because I just a saw a great TV show on fractal geometry a few weeks back. It was part of the PBS NOVA series and went into how fractals pervade our lives from helping analyze forests to the use of fractal geometry in the creation of miniature antennas in wireless phones that we use today.

Maldelbrot sets explore fractal geometry and are quite beautiful. For me, one of the beauties of using maldelbrot programs is how you can take the whole mandelbrot design, zoom in and see that design repeated as you zoom in further and further into the set.

I feel this translates well into what we see with the universe that surrounds us. Maybe it's too simplistic but the structure of the infinitely small subatomic particles seems to be repeated in the layout of our own Milky Way to the countless galaxies in our universe.

Take for example the atom with the electrons flying around it nucleus. Can't exploded analogies be made of our solar system with the Sun and our 8 planets that revolve it or even to the stars that revolve around the center of our galaxy?

For me that's the amazing beauty of the space that surrounds us and lives inside of us. It may be a trite observation but for me that's what's so incredible.

A subset of the whole domain - however big it is - gives us clues to the whole domain's composition. There's something inspiring and incredible to this infinite fractal geometry.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Red Rocks 5K - October 12th

A few days ago I did the Red Rocks 5K with Kary.

Unlike a more likely 5K, this race starts with of a lot of downhill followed by an uphill trudge ending with a stair climb. The race course basically took a clockwise loop around Red Rocks starting in the upper north parking lot and then ending at the top of the amphitheater.

I did plenty of 5Ks in high school and then others throughout the years but this was the most unique grueling course. A lot of 5K courses usually have the same moderate amount of elevation loss and gain - or are basically flat - but this one had the most loss and gain I've ever done. Most courses I've done have had probably 300 feet total of elevation gain and loss but Red Rocks was more like 1000 feet. Most courses have you finish with a flat to moderate grade but Red Rocks was a stair climb to the finish.

With altitude, cold weather and so much climbing it was going to make for an interesting day. Additionally, since some "officials" on the course were not course guides, the group I was in took a wrong turn (while one of these guys was watching us take the wrong turn!) that resulted in us going about a mile extra. Luckily there was another official closer to Morrison Road that turned us around. Regardless, if wasn't pleasant to do an additional mile with so much uphill basically for the last mile and a half. My quads and calves were killing me the next 3 days.

I'd be pissed except that it was for a good cause.

Back in Boulder we were able to pig out on sausage egg cheese muffins and then take a nap later.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trip to Oracle HQ at Redwood Shores, California

I flew to California last week for team training at Oracle headquarters.

I lived in Palo Alto for a year when I was in middle school so I was familiar with the area but some things have changed in the Bay Area the past 25 years.

US-101 is much more hectic and backed up although I think it was still plenty busy back then. We drove to San Francisco two nights for dinner and traffic near Belmont was stop and go till we got closer to downtown S.F.

We did take advantage of some great restaurants when we drove up to S.F. both nights. Swiss Louise was on Pier 39 and had a great view of the bay. I had Linguini and Clams, which was quite good. Wednesday night we went to House of NanKing. The claim to fame for this restaurant - besides its good food - is that you can have the owner order for you. He takes your menus, asks a few questions and entrees for the whole table come out within a few minutes. Definitely a great experience.

There seem to be a greater percentage of other cultures living in the Bay Area. Oracle HQ has a big percentage of people of Chinese and Indian descent. Compared to Boulder - where our offices are predominantly white - it's definitely a different world. Even driving on 101 I could see a greater ethnic melting pot.

Campus was huge with 7 huge cylindrical buildings for workers in addition to smaller periphery buildings. Each tower had a cafeteria on the 1st floor so each day was an opportunity to try some new cuisine.

We may go out for Spring training next year.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ogden Labor Day Trip: August 29th - September 1st

Labor Day Weekend 2008 I flew out to Ogden to spend time with Luke and Susan.

I was able to get an airline ticket on Frontier two days before the trip for a great price (~$170) and also rent a car through Budget to drive up to Ogden from SLC airport. 

I was a little surprised Frontier Airlines was so cheap since Southwest Airlines is usually more economical with such short notice. Before finally purchasing the airline ticket I was thinking I had to drive out from Boulder and that was balking at the idea of being in the car 7 hours each way. I'm glad I checked online to see any last minute deals.

The flight out was uneventful and baggage claim was straightforward. I did have to wait a while in the Budget line before finally getting my vehicle. They gave me a Chrysler Pacifica since it seemed they were out of higher MPG vehicles.  In some ways I was glad to try out something that was more of a sports style low cut minivan. It even had Sirius Satellite radio which I had never tried before.

I finally arrived in Ogden 35 miles later around 1 AM.

Saturday

Since I had read the weather report before coming out the Ogden I knew the second 1/2 of the weekend was going to get stormy and cold.

On a prior trip to Utah I had purchased a mountain bike guide to Park City. It had been sitting on my bedroom nightstand for the last year and a half and I really wanted to try a ride out of the book, finally.

Since Susan needed to do a training run for an upcoming marathon we also had to accommodate her too. Luckily, she was fine with training at a little higher altitude.

I was able to borrow my brother's full suspension mountain bike and chose a ride on Park City Mountain.

The ride consisted of going up Sweeney's Switchbacks to John's Trail over to Mid Mountain Trail and finally down Spiro Trail.

I can't say enough about how nice the loop turned out. I made it up as I went along and it could have easily turned out to be an out and back. Also since it was later in the day it could have been a much shorter ride but I was glad I committed to trying out the Mid Mountain Trail.  When I make it out to Park City again I'll definitely be doing this loop or a close variation of it again.

The climb up Sweeney's Switchbacks and John's Trail was quite nice. There were a few sections I had to get off the bike on Sweeney's but by the time I was on John's Trail the trail had leveled out and I was riding in Aspen groves. 

By the time I made it up John's Trail the time was about 6:30 PM so I had to decide quickly if I could do anymore riding. Luckily I was carrying the MTB book and was able to commit to the Mid Mountain Trail and figure coming down Spiro back to the base area of Park City Resort.

Mid Mountain has great views of Park City and the valley below.  I did see some other riders on the trail giving me confidence that I was still able to make it back to Park City before nightfall. When I did make it to the intersection with Spiro I was also able to talk with another rider to make sure I took an appropriate trail back down to Spiro since there were a few forks from which to choose.

By the time I made it back to the car there was still plenty of light and I waited for Luke and Susan.

Luke was getting hungry so he ate some appetizers at a nearby Indian Restaurant.

Later in the evening we decided to walk up Main Street and chanced upon Wahso - an Asian style grill.  The food was terrific and I'd definitely go back there although for three people the total bill came to about $125.00 dollars.

Sunday

Sunday was supposed to be raining but it didn't get that way until late afternoon.

We were able to hike up to Dog Lake in Mill Creek Canyon. The total hike was about 6 miles and there were plenty of people hiking with their dogs up to the lake and back.

I recalled that Luke and I had done part of the trail two years as a section of the Wasatch Crest Trail. Since Labor Day was an odd day there were no mountain bikes to be seen since they're only allowed on even days.

We made it for dinner in lower downtown Salt Lake City at an Italian restaurant called Biaggis.

The food wasn't as good as in Park City the night before but my Chilean Sea Bass was quite good.

Monday

Monday we stayed in Ogden.

We did go down to Ogden's indoor activity park where I convinced Susan to try indoor skydiving with me.

Cost for each person was $49 dollars but the experience was well worth it.

Although you only get to "skydive" for two minutes total (two one minute sessions) the feeling of being weightless and being twirled around by the instructor is well worth the experience.

I finally left around 6 PM for my 8:05 PM flight back. Total mileage for the rental car was 350 miles and the drive back to SLC was uneventful.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two lyrics for Tab Benoit songs

I own a lot of albums from Tab Benoit but can't seem to find lyrics for his music in almost all - if not all - of his albums.

I like his live or more live feel albums like: Swampland Jam and The Sea Saint Sessions. Both of these albums don't come with lyric sheets and there's nothing on his website or even on regular Google searches.

I finally decided to write down the lyrics and then post them here. Hopefully they are somewhat correct.

Louisiana Style (1997)

1st verse:

I wanna tell you, just how I feel
I had a dream baby, I thought it was real
I woke up in love, now you’re all I think of

2nd verse:

Every day I’m wasting time
Wondering how, to make you mine
I’m just wishing it could be, you feel the same for me

1st Solo…

3rd verse:

Since that day, I’ve been lost
I jumped on an alligator, I thought it was a horse
I took one hell of a ride, down the Bayou side

4th verse:

If I could take you to the Fado Do
We could dance honey, all across the floor
And we could do it for awhile, Louisiana Style

2nd Solo…

5th verse:

I wanna take you all, to the Fado Do
Where we could dance baby, till we can’t stand no more
I wanna do it for awhile, Lousiana Style

Hustlin’ Down In New Orleans (2003)

1st verse:

I said hustlin’ down in New Orleans
Hustlin Henry gotta tambourine
He shaking them up, shaking them down, shaking everybody all over town
Hustlin’ down in New Orleans

2nd verse:

Hustlin’ down in New Orleans
Hustlin’ Connie down on magazines
She hits you once, she hits you twice, she’s going to hit you for the rest of your life
Hustlin’ down in New Orleans

Chorus:

Well I never made it across the tracks, but I can hear the whistle blowing right out back
Close enough to be on the scene, far enough to keep myself clean

Solo…

3rd verse:

Said hustlin’ down in New Orleans
Hustlin’ down on, on the corner scene
Put up a dollar ‘cause your bound to lose, when they try to tell you where you got your shoes

Chorus repeat:

2nd Solo…

Said hustlin’ down in New Orleans (repeat 3 times)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Conundrum Hot Springs Weekend

We did a backpacking trip last weekend to Conundrum Hot Springs. It's a classic trip although quite arduous if you have quite a bit of weight on your back.

Five people were in our party: me, David, Emily, Amy, and Tanya.

Total days being away from Boulder was 4. We left Thursday afternoon and returned Sunday evening.

Thursday night we camped out near Gothic which left us 3 full days of backpacking.

Either way you do it the length of the hike is equivalent from either Aspen or Crested Butte: about a 17 mile round trip.  The kicker is that the hike from Gothic entails a trip over Triangle Pass which is close to 13 thousand feet.  Some people might have a little more trouble with that

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wal-Mart and Swimming

After dinner Friday night Kary and I did the Longmont Wal-Mart tour.

There are two: 1) the first off of Hover Avenue, and 2) the second off of north Main Street.

Longmont has a regular one and a Super Wal-mart.  The first stays open till 10 PM on Friday nights and the super-dooper one stays open 24 hours a day.

There's quite a bit of community to Wal-mart on a Friday night. You might think that these convenience centers might be dead-quiet and lack foot traffic.

The one off of Hover had two women discussing one's 17 year old daughter. Also there seemed to be some traffic in the electronics section with some kids playing console games.

The Super Wal-mart definitely had even more traffic than the first. People were buying all sorts of goods to fill up their plastic shopping bags.

It seems that Wal-mart has replaced an element of the community center or just local indoor shopping mall. People now can feel comfortable by congregating (and consuming) at their local Wal-mart. It's very sociable and acceptable to go there during later evening hours and you'll probably encounter a friend who's doing shopping there too.

For something a little more enjoyable we did go swimming both Saturday and Sunday at the local swimming pool.  We've had 15+ days of 90 degree heat on the Front Range and swimming can definitely be a fun activity. Although it's smaller than a community pool it was quite fun to take a dip, sun ourselves and then repeat.

Yes, Colorado even needs swimming pools during those hot days of July and August :)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

30th Anniversary Bolder Boulder

Monday morning the 26th of May, 2008 I did my second Bolder Boulder.

My average time for each mile was 7:42; only 1 second off the pace of last year. I completed the race in 47:47.

Although I felt better for this race compared to last year's I seemed to have gotten my max heart rate up to 195 beats per minute; if my heart rate monitor didn't malfunction.

There is something about getting up before 7 AM on a holiday and joining 50K plus people for a foot race right in my home town. Can't beat it.

I'll probably do it next year.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

February 21st - 24th - Salt Lake City

Two weeks ago I took an extended weekend to fly out to Salt Lake City.

If you've never been to the Wasatch Front to go skiing you're definitely missing out.

One of the nicest resorts to ski is Solitude. It's a 12 mile drive up big Cottonwood Canyon but it's well worth it; especially the Honeycomb Bowl. If you consider that a long drive then you've never had to do the Front Range madness commute during the weekends - or even the weekdays. When you have to do 25 miles versus 80 miles it makes for a more pleasant skiing day and makes you more motivated to go skiing too.

The fact that it snowed while we were in Salt Lake didn't hurt either. On Friday and Sunday when I skied the conditions were amazing since it was snowing while we skied and the prior nights had left plenty of untracked fresh powder.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Belize - December 30th, 2007


This was my last day in Belize this trip.

I had a good sleep since the prior night I shared the same room as Richard and he was snoring quite loudly.

Lisa, Rich, Talia and Will had a day trip planned so after breakfast we said our goodbyes in the suite and then proceeded to pack

I was able to leave Maya Mountain Lodge around 10:30 AM.

I did do a circuit of San Ignacio to fill up on gas. I made the mistake, which seemed common by other tourists too in trying to go over a one way bridge the opposite direction. I had to retrace the road back a 1/2 mile to see where it went to the right.

The central part of San Ignacio has a counterclockwise one way loop with two bridges. After crossing the correct bridge I was able to find a gas station and fill up the tank. Since I wasn't used to automatics I tried to start the Suzuki again but couldn't. With the help of an attendant I did have to press down on the break to get it to start. I'd done the same mistake a couple of days before but hadn't realized then the requirement to step on the break to start the ignition.

On my way back to the coast I did stop by a crafts shop - the most comprehensive and high-end I'd seen; just a few miles outside of San Ignacio. I did buy a couple of gifts and then drove further east.

On the way, I was able to stop by the Belize Zoo and spend a 1/2 hour there seeing some of the wildlife. If you have a few extra hours then the trip to the zoo is well worth it.

I did make it back to Ladyville with plenty of time to spare and I had no issues with checking the car into Crystal Auto Rentals. There were no extra fees and I would definitely use them again.

Inside the airport, it was nice thatDelta Airlines flight paid for my departure tax so I didn't need to pay any further monies.

With some extra Belizean dollars in my wallet I did buy a t-shirt, mug and a couple other small items to pack in my carry-on.

The flight left on time and the view from the airplane of the northern Belizean waters - including Ambergris Caye - was spectacular.

One thing that I'll never forget though, is the crazy airport scene in Atlanta. We disembarked, had to retrieve our checked in baggage, go though customs, recheck our check-in baggage and then got on another plane for Denver.

Our flight was late by an hour and I didn't get into Denver until after 11 PM. When I finally got my luggage from the baggage carousel it was too late to take a bus and there were no further shuttles to Boulder.

Luckily I found a ride to share with two other Boulderites so instead of paying $80-100 dollars myself I was able to split the fare for about $35 dollars + tip.

All in all, I would recommend Belize as a great country to visit - although the Christmas holiday season is the most expensive time to go.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Belize - December 29th, 2007


For my only full day in the Cayo district of Belize we traveled to the Mayan site called Caracol.

It was another full day guided trip so we left Maya Mountain Lodge about 8 AM.

We traveled south of San Ignacio on paved and unpaved bumpy roads. There were a few small towns along the way and eventually we made it to an area where we would meet up with a military escort. Military accompaniment was required since there were bandits that had robbed tourists a couple of years before.

While we waited for the official departure time our tour bus took a small side trip down to the Rio Frio cave. The attraction of the cave is it's enoumous mouth and ease of travel to fully explore it's 1/4 mile length. We were able to go in about an 1/8th of a mile to look around, take photos, examine some species of trees at the entrance and then return to our van.

With our miliary escort we were able to travel further into the Pine Mountain Ridge. If you think you'll see jungle everywhere you travel in Belize you'll be in for a surprise. The Pine Mountain Ridge area is at a higher elevation and feels a lot more like places in the northern latitudes. If you've ever been to the Pine Barrens in New Jersey - or have heard about them - then this region will remind you that northern ecosystem.

Caracol

The final few miles of the road became paved again - although narrower than 2 lane roads in the states.

When we finally arrived at Carocol's entrance and grassy parking lot a more jungly ecosystem was readily apparent. There were no major Mayan ruins within eyesight of where we parked so we did have to hike in (1/2 to 1 mile of hiking) to see some of the more famous buildings to this huge archaeological dig.

Since this was our 6th full day in Belize we were eventually going to get showered upon and our visit to Caracol provided us the precipitation that we didn't get while down in the Toledo district.

Although we were officially in the dry season some locals felt it became a drier season in the Cayo district from February through May. Regardless, it was nice to have some rain while visiting Caracol. It gave the ruins and the surrounding forest a more dreamy feel.

The ruins were great. The A and B groups were terrific. We hiked the tallest structure in the site (located in B group): Canaa, while the rain was really coming down. The structure is almost 150 feet high and once you got to the top the view to the surrounding forest and lower structures was spectacular.

We did have lunch after our tour and then headed back on the bumpy road back to San Ignacio.

On the way back we did stop at a river to swim but it started to rain again our group quickly got back into the van. We did stop by a craft house for local artisans and then finally got back to Maya Mountain a little after 4 PM.

Dinner was great. One of the best features to Maya Mountain is their food and dinner is quite good. Their packed lunches were also quite good too.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Belize - December 28th, 2007


Friday I awoke early to Will throwing up on and by the side of his bed. He had gotten some form of food poisoning. I did some initial clean-up and awoke Lisa so she could come over to check on Will.

We were able to get back to bed and sleep for the rest of the night.

Friday was a travel day to the central western part of Belize. Since I had a car rental I was able to pack the whole family in the Suzuki SUV.

We had breakfast at Machaca Hill and finally left - albeit late - around 11 AM. We settled our bills, packed up and said goodbye to some friends we made at the lodge.

Our total distance for the day was about 175 miles from Punta Gorda (P.G) to San Ignacio in the Cayo district. There were three roads to take: The Southern Highway, The Hummingbird Highway, and then finally the Western Highway.

Along the way we were able to stop at a nice Mayan craft shop and then also explore the Blue Hole National Park just south of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway.

The biggest draw for me to Blue Hole was the cave adventure that Lisa and I took on the northwestern part of the park. We were able to pay a small park usage fee, rent a flash light and hike about 10 minutes down a trail to enter the cave. The steps down were quite slippery and dangerous so caution was needed. Without a guide we were told to go no more than 300 meters into the cave.

It got dark quite fast as we descended and traveled further. Eventually we got to the point where a sign advised visitors to turn back if they didn't have a guide - the cave was pitch black but the light helped illumate some cool features to the cave and the light on my Canon HV20 camcorder also provided a means for me to move around without the use of the flashlight my sister rented.

I enjoyed the spurlunking and it was good to go underground and see some underground scenery including stalagmites and stalagtites.

We finally got to Maya Mountain Lodge around 5 PM.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Belize - December 27th, 2007


Thursday was a more open-ended day since we hadn't formally planned a group trip through Machaca Hill.

Richard decided to a full day of fishing with a local guide named Sully.

I wanted to get a day of scuba in so I had Machaca Hill arrange a day of scuba with a local scuba master named Dennis; Sully's brother.

Wake up time for both our trips was around 6 AM. Richard left before me and then I got a ride down to P.G. (Punta Gorda) about twenty minutes later.

Once I arrived I was sized up for my scuba BCD and Dennis had to go to another location in town over and get the air tanks filled. Since I wanted to do three to four dives for the day he filled out about six to eight air tanks.

We finally made our way out of P.G. toward the Sapodilla Cayes closer to 8:30 AM. Since the Sapodilla Cayes are about 36 miles off-shore the boat ride can take up to 1 1/2 hours. Since the water was a little calmer the trip time was closer to an hour.

On the ride out I got to talk to Dennis, review scuba technique in my PADI book and also show Dennis my open water certification - to make sure I was up to snuff; at least in training.

Once we got into the cayes we were able to register at the main ranger island where a park usage fee was paid (20.00 Belizean). Dennis then took me to our first dive.

Our first dive was quite exciting since I'd never dived in actual open water before. Total time was about 25 minutes and our deepest dive for the day: we dove to 72 feet below water.

I had a problem with my mask filling with water and didn't want to try and blow out the water through my mask since that had been the most difficult technique to master during my training. Fortunately, I was able to finish the dive but I certainly wanted to have better confidence with releasing water from my mask for the remaining dives in the day.

Belize - December 26th, 2007




The day after Christmas we did another Machaca Hill organized day trip.

Instead of exploring some Caribbean waters we went inland to an organic cacao farm and then spent part of the afternoon, closer to the border with Guatemala, visiting a swimming hole and waterfall on the Rio Blanco near San Antonio.

We left Machaca Hill in the morning after 8 AM and drove by van to a farm near the village of San Felipe. Machaca provided a driver, guide and a tour by the proprietor of the farm for the morning visit.

Our first stop was a small building near the farm where they sold some cacao products and where we could meet up with the farm's owner. The night before had seen a large Christmas celebration on the premises so there were plenty of styrofoam plates and cups there were strewn across the front lawn that still needed to be cleaned up.

Once we had picked up the guide for the farm we drove another 15 minutes to the take a short tour of the plantation. The morning sun was coming up and it was getting a little hot but getting underneath the cover of some cacao trees helped cool off our tour participants.

Interesting sights were the close to maturity cacao pods that were hanging from the trees. We got to crack open a couple of the pods to see creamy white seeds that enclosed the cacao beans. The cream on the outside of the beans was quite sweet and the cacao beans were still green and needed to be roasted for true flavor. Also on the farm were Passion Fruit trees and Allspice.

After the tour we made it back to the building where we stopped by earlier to pick up our plantation guide. We did get stuck in some mud about a 1/2 mile from the farm. Orlando, our driver, wasn't going fast enough and actually stopped the vehicle right in the middle of a muddy section. We couldn't get out simply by gunning the motor so our group had to get out and push. We were finally able to free the vehicle and continue on our way about 15 minutes later.

When our group returned to roadside shop we were able witness the manual process of roasting cacao beans, grinding them with sugar and allspice and finally taste the resultant ground powder.
They did have some processed cacao products available for sale so I bought some ground cacao for chocolate milk and also a few chocalate bars to bring back to the United States.

***

For the second half of our full-day Toledo-district interior tour we got back into our tour van to make our way west to Rio Blanco Park.

The drive out was a tougher than the one to the organic cacao farm but we finally made it after what seemed about 45 minutes of driving through more mountainous terrain.

When we arrived at the entrance to Rio Blanco Park lunch was unpacked and we all sat down for a quick bite underneath the ranger station. The falls were a short hike down a 1/4 mile path.

Once there, I was feeling a little adventurous and decided that I should try to jump into the swimming hole. There were a few different heights to choose from and the first jump I took was from the highest ledge; probably about 25 feet above the water. I had trouble building my nerve up so our guide Agapito jumped in first. After some more trouble I finally made a go of it but by no means was it a graceful jump and I was holding my nose the whole way down. Regardless, I got to jump about four more times into the swiming hole - although none of the attempts were at all elegant.

In all the falls was a great place to enjoy a swim after the cocao plantation visit.

We got back to Machaca Hill about 5 PM for a shower a some dinner.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Belize - December 25th, 2007


On Christmas Day we spent a full day out in the Bay of Honduras.

We left Machaca Hill around 8:30 AM to meet our two guides, Joevani (sic) and Dario on the outskirts of Punta Gorda. After some introductions and brief preparation we got into the outboard motor fiberglass boat - called the Permit - a little after 9 AM.

Our destination for the day was the Snakes Cayes about 10 to 15 miles off the coastline.

As we got close to the Snake Cayes our guides gave us two fishing poles to troll for permit and barracuda. Trolling involves running the boat at slow speed and using poles that are a lot stiffer than those used for fly fishing.

We made our way to the center part of the Cayes to a small 1 acre island that housed the ranger station. There we met the head ranger, George and he gave us a thorough introduction to the Cayes using a pointing stick and map hung on the wall.

After paying permit fees for use of the reserve we left the island to go to West Snake Caye where we had lunch and snorkled.

Christmas dinner back at Machaca Hill was buffet style. I brought out the wine that I had packed from the states, Rich got to carve a ham and the dinner was nice for the occasion. A local band was even hired by the lodge to play for about 2 hours. The were a reggae/ska band and even played classic hits like Crazy Bald Head.

Although we really didn't have a formal Christmas celebration it was a very nice day nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Belize - December 24th, 2007


Belize - Day 2

Since the day before was so long my sleep was restful and I was quite refreshed when I did awake.

The bed I slept in was quite nice. I awoke around 8 AM went to the porch of the cabin to check out the view and take a few photos with my camcorder.

Breakfast was down the path towards the main lodge. Lisa, Rich, Talia and Will were already at a table. I ordered a breakfast too. The breakfast menu had a few selections and I choose a scrambled egg breakfast with fry jacks - a Belizian Fry Jacks.

The first half of the day we got to canoe on the Rio Grande river below Machaca Hill. We had a local Maya guide Agapito who would guide us on the river. To get to the canoes we took a small open air tram down to the river. Lunch was provided in a cooler that went in Agapito's canoe.

I've never canoed on a jungle river and the Rio Grande was a good first choice. The canoes we had were a very contempoary fiberglass construction making them light and easy to steer. Each boat came with one paddle so whoever was paddling had a little bit of tough go since you had to either paddle and steer at the end of the stroke or switch off every couple of strokes from right to left if you just wanted to have a power stroke and not steer.

Agapito was good at pointing out some of the flora by the banks of the river and even helped us spy out some of the wildlife too. We did get a chance to see some Menonite farmers who were at the halfway point of our out and back. I did wave to them as we approached but as we stayed in the area and turned back we didn't see them by the side of the river anymore; except for one man who was bathing in the Rio Grande.

For the second half of the day Rich stayed with the kids at Machaca Hill while Lisa and I went to Nim Li Punit to check out a small Maya ruin. It was a fourty minute drive from Machaca and the last 7 miles were unpaved but the small ruins were a nice site to see a from some vantage points the Maya Mountains could be seen in the distance.

Dinner was quite nice and we retired after our meals to our cabins for an early bedtime.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Belize - Sunday, 23rd of December, 2007


Belize Trip - Day 1

I left for Belize at 1:45 AM from Denver International Airport (DIA) . Kary dropped me off around midnight and the flight left on time for Atlanta. Arrival at Atlanta was around 6:15 AM E.S.T. I was pretty bushed from the flight so I tried to get some rest by sleeping on the floor near the gate for the flight to Belize.

Six hours to wait for another flight is a long time and the carpeted floors with the hustle and bustle of an airport didn't allow for a lot of sleep. I wish airports would have some sort of nap rooms where a door can be closed for peace and quiet. Unfortunately, that's a pipe dream since I imagine that there are plenty of reasons not to have nap rooms for temporarily stranded travelers.

The flight to Belize was uneventful and I got into Belize International Airport at 3:20 PM. The heat and humidity were a welcome change from Colorado. I was happy to have my checked bag arrive with me and going through customs was uneventful; although the first line I got into to get my pasport stamped was for locals only.

Crystal Auto Rentals was an easy find at the airport since it's about 200 feet from the exit.

I finally left Ladyville around 4:30 PM on my way to Punta Gorda. I was hoping to arrive at Machaca Hill Lodge about 8:00 to 8:30 PM. The drive was quite nice and I took some rest stops for pictures. The final drive time was about 4 1/2 hours since I didn't arrive until a little after 9 PM.

Total distance using the Western Highway to Humingbird to the Sourthern Highway and finally Punta Gorda was ~203 miles.

Lisa has fortunately saved some dinner for me so I was grateful to sit down and have some food.

I was proabably in bed and sleeping by 10:30 PM. I slept well that night after being 20 hours in transit.