Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watching the development of a hurricane

Photo credit: NOAA - water vapor satellite shot of eastern pacific taken today - 9-30-09.

The rain that arrived today caused me to look at the sky more closely and then go to NOAA's weather site. Guess what? We have been watching the development of a hurricane all day! I've included the water vapor satellite picture and the discussion by NOAA indicates there is at least a 50% chance this will progress to a hurricane in the next 48 hours.

The red line outlines the land mass of the Baja peninsula and Mexico to the east. We are sitting almost at the tip of the peninsula watching these huge waves roll in from the west. I think they will be even bigger tomorrow.

After living in Florida and the Carolinas for the past two decades, I have a pretty good idea when I see the clouds moving forward, but with a curve to them, that something is brewing. It's no different here in the eastern Pacific area, except the general trend is for the storms to move to the west, away from land here and toward the islands and continents to the west. I hope this one won't cause anyone any harm, but as we listen to the winds howl through this resort building, I am not confident it won't grow into something impressive.

Don't be deceived into thinking the waves shown here are small... Just beyond the palms there is a fellow standing guard over the sea turtle nests and he is about 5'6", standing on the beach which seldom gets wave action but below him, where the waves are actually breaking, is about six feet lower. The sound of their crashing onshore is so loud that when walking on the beach, you cannot be heard without shouting. Impressivo, no?

Rain in Cabo

The usual amount of rain for this area is something less than 10 inches per year! And they get most of it during September and October, so no surprise that we're getting a few days of it while we are here.

What is interesting is that there is practically no rainwater accumulation device to be seen and instead of collection, it is all done by desalinization, reverse osmosis, and then either pumped or delivered by water truck to various locations. We heard from one of the salesmen for the time share that if you use up your water allotment for the week, you have to call the water truck and it's very expensive. All the little houses here have at least one black water tank on top of the roof; looks like it holds about 100 gallons.

The rebar (spiky wires on the roof) shows that the owner of the casa (house) has plans to build another level at some time. Most of the construction here is concrete block with stucco overlaying it. I was saddened to see that some of the frustrated artists marked up this house with their scribblings.
Although we have been drinking water and using the ice while here, we've been without any "Montezuma's Revenge" or "9-5 low hurdles" from digestive issues, for which I am more than a little grateful.
We have also heard that there has only been one (1!) swine flu case in the area, which further supports the theory that getting lots of Vitamin D (sunshine is the best way to get Vitamin D, by the way) is a big deterrent to the flu, which may explain why countries just north and south of the Equator tend to be less likely to have any "flu" season.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday was wave day

We had to stay out of the sun for most of the day today because we didn't take into account the reflectivity of pools and the intensity of this lower latitude sun. Yesterday we both got sunburned. So Sunday about 6 p.m. we took a walk on the beach and tried to capture the 'Zen' wave along with another incredible sunset. Here is my submission (the one on the right) to be considered. Jey-hu says this one (below) is the most 'Zen' of his shots. Votes from our few readers will not create any more competition between us.

We laugh at each other's critical comments when we download the day's photo "work" and play a game of 'defend it' to justify keeping it in the saved file.
This has been a most peaceful trip for both of us, and the first time we have had a journey that wasn't involved with moving or attending a seminar since we'd met. The photo of the bird flying onto the beach after sunset is Jey-hu's; I love the serenity of it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's a small world

We arrived at the Pacifica Spa on Saturday morning and when you walk in, it immediately gives you the message that you are here to "relax!" The aromas they use assail the senses and with that deep breath in, all cares and concerns seem to disappear. Of course, it's an illusion and they don't really go away, but this place holds them at bay for awhile.
Later in the day we went for a swim at the Sunset resort. Jey-hu was huddled under the bridge to protect his skin from any more rays. He was just chatting with another individual shielding her skin and she said, "Oh, you need to talk to Carole; I think she's from your area." Carole was waved over. It turns out that her mother and father had a music store in Lake Stevens some 40 years ago and her son worked for the same store that Jey-hu did before it closed and he went into his electronic career. The other irony was that Carole and her son were on her way to Cabo in the early 1980's when they had a bad car accident, which Jey-hu remembered because the young man was out of work for quite awhile.

The fabric of life is filled with its flaws, but a mother's relationship with her son often stitches up those flaws to try and hold things together... so it is with Carole and other mothers I know.

Tonight we are going to try and capture the half moon shining on the ocean and the pool at approximately the same location as you see here to your right. It was elegant and breathless last night with the stars sparkling overhead and the sea quieter. We both agreed it was worth planning out the camera equipment and taking the time to try and see if we can photograph that feeling.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Who can stop the sunset?

Now that we are re-settled for one more week at the Pueblo Bonita Pacifica on Sunset Beach, we have a front-row seat to a new sunset every night.
I dedicate this one to Susie and her beloved Hamada
as I know from her poetry that they love being at the beach.
We watched the sun race to the west, sliding quickly down behind the small mountain behind the hotel. It went so fast I was barely able to get my camera set up. Jey-hu was already in place with his and so this first shot is his.
The sky was clear, save for a few streaky clouds, so the colors did not stay long, even on the few clouds that were present. And I can take credit for this second shot. But barely 10 minutes from the time the sun went behind the horizon to our last shot - and we struggled as to which one should be next (last) - to capture the last light of the day...
And if you look closely, you can see the light from the lighthouse caught in the momentary flash of warning to sailors - for me the lighthouse is a symbol of hope, the guiding light - in a way a reminder that there is a light, even in the darkest of nights.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Restaurant Review - Lorenzillo's in Cabo

Look for the giant lobster crawling up the side of a building...

Located in the heart of the Cabo San Lucas marina, the seafood restaurant called Lorenzillo’s professes to have originated somewhere around 1638 when the first Lorenzillo, a pirate, went looking for something to eat.

Unhappy with what he was served, he burned the place down and killed all the upper-class members of that society.

So, for our last night "in town." as we move over to the destination resort of Pacifica (a spa) tomorrow, we ate at this ‘historic’ place, actually re-established with the intent of keeping newer pirates happier with their meals and I will say that the service is superb - top notch!

The Perrier water was served with fresh limes - to prevent scurvy I am certain - but the bane of my personal existence, and a reason why I might be inclined to set fire to this establishment, is that the rolls were hard. Perhaps they were trying to re-create hard-tack to add to the shippy decor. Sadly what should have been a treat as sea bass is in season here, I found it dry and wrapped around lobster and shrimps that quite likely had been caught in 1638. Using a little sea salt would have corrected the sea-sick broccoli and kept it looking cheery as well as adding beneficial elements for the sailor’s diet.

The other item, identified as linguini, could have been toredo worms for all I knew. Heavily covered with something that resembled sawdust, it was slimy and mostly tasteless - sad to say it didn’t add anything to the meal.

But the piece de resistance, the dessert, redeemed some of the earlier failures. The chef went to some trouble to create a ‘signature’ chocolate ice cream treat using a familiar dutch-named product, but perhaps the freezer isn’t working as well as it should since there were ice crystals in it. Anyhow, I took a picture of it, and could recommend it - sort of.

Charm gives Lorenzillo’s a star, location gives it another star, presentation- one more - and service could push it over toward four stars. But when I have to subtract two stars for the poor quality of the outcome, Lorenzillo’s drops to a dreary two-star dining event and offering it up as a free meal as an enticement for sitting through a time-share selling endurance run only makes both experiences more painful.

CAVEAT: It is NOT my intent to destroy any business, especially in these hard economic times with so many wonderful people working so hard here in Cabo to make everyone's visit fun and pleasurable. But it is not fair to trap people to spend their time and possibly pesos or US dollars on inedible food. With a few changes, Lorenzillo's could be a fabulous place to eat....

From Sunset to Sunrise

The rosy rays of sunset and the sliver of moon... seen from our balcony.... and then listening to the waves rushing to shore all night - who would believe I also got up early to capture this lovely sunrise? Remember the sailor's ditty? "Red skies at night - sailor's delight; red skies in morning - sailors take warning!"

At breakfast the birds joined us... to watch and try for a morsel or two.

We left early to get over to the dolphin swim location and by 10 a.m. the thunder and lightning was headed our way. We were already wet with nature's most intelligent life forms - the dolphins - so we didn't much care how much more rain came down. Sadly a parasail boat sank with the high winds and waves, and we
don't have all the details of injuries. I am puzzled that anyone with boating experience would have even planned parasailing looking at the weather.

The dolphin swim was an unparalleled success. Their skin is like highly polished, and wet, leather and they are delightful creatures, zooming around the swim pool at speeds of 35 m.p.h. and leaping into the air at least one and half times higher than their own length! Pictures were not allowed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The sunset cruise was a gift ...

We went on a catamaran called "La Princesa" with a group of about 20 folks for the promised sunset cruise - our "gift" for being reeled into a timeshare presentation and sticking it out for the required 90 minutes - Mexican time... more like four hours. It was worth it!!!

Boarding was at 6 p.m. and immediately after casting off the lines, the bar was open and the drinks were being passed out. Not being a "drinker" I got my beverage and simply leaned back to watch the activities of other boats heading out for what promised to be a good sunset. I was in heaven being back on a
sailboat again. I sighed deeply and said a little prayer for all my MM connections that they could receive some of my upbeat energy and healing.

There was just enough wind for the sailboats and not too much for the powerboats; the seas were moderate with swells running somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-6 feet in the Sea of Cortez. First we cruised along past the hotels, and I took this picture of the Pueblo Bonita Blanco (white one) as we passed it. Our room has a terrific view - we are in the building identified as the third blue dome in from the right on the fourth floor.

Once we rounded the last rock on the Baja peninsula, we were fully exposed to the Pacific Ocean and the wind was slightly more with waves to match. The shot below may give some idea of the size of the "rocks" as the catamaran nearby it is probably at least 34 feet in length. The sun goes down quickly at this latitude, too. The dark line near the water is due to constant water contact by the waves. In some places you can see that the waves regularly hit the rocks at 35-40 feet up from the water! My estimate is that the line you see below is about 15 feet in height.

Jey-hu and I got our pictures taken by the "professional" and also by some other guests sitting next to us. Guess which one we didn't get?

It was such a romantic evening, and we both realized that it was this kind of event that we had been seeking in coming here. Since I am the experienced sailor, I explained some of the actions being taken by the crew as we hoisted sail and really got under way.
There was also one of the three 12-meter retired raceboats from the last America's Cup, the New Zealand one, in the group out for the night and I got several shots of them; I will share my favorite.

The air was a perfect temperature, probably about 80, considerably cooler than it had been during the day. We walked from our hotel to the marina, about 15 minutes, and because it was after 5 p.m., we did not get any "offers" to see any more timeshares - whew!

There were so many awesome shots that turned out it was hard to choose just one, but this one was my choice for you even though it is really after the sunset and on the way back into the harbor. I like it because you can see the town of Cabo in that after-glow of sunset with the lights just beginning to be turned on. The line down the photo is the "stay" for the mast of the sailboat which was about 50 feet in length and a few heads of the other passengers can also be seen. I hated having to get off at the dock... but there is always a time for having a sailboat of one's own and a time to be on OPBs... Other People's Boats, even if there is some fee connected to it. Boat owners know the costs of ownership, don't we?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Hot" properties in Cabo!

We aren't sure if this was intentional or not, but the message (on a 90-degree plus day!) is that there are some "hot" properties down here... Our journey to the marina on Tuesday resulted in finally connecting with the glass-bottomed boat vendor and getting our ride out to the famed arch over 'excited' seas - take a look at what we saw... and these are only a few of the totally awesome views - an amazing experience.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day Three at the Sunset

It was a day to learn about another time share, a sister site to where we are staying. We went because they offered to pay our way back to the airport, gave us a discount on a spa day, and provided us with some water activities... why refuse? Yesterday we met a nice fellow, learning some more about the area, and on this trip we met some other time share refugees on the way, making it a little more festive - and the biggest surprise of all was that one of the couples is from Snohomish, just up the road from where we live in Washington!

My biggest issue with any presentation goes back to my career in public relations. The message 'should be' consistent. So if you are selling me on some high-end residential property with a breakfast, shouldn't the meal be on the same par with the location, or proposed location? Stale rolls and a conglomeration of eggs didn't sell me on the Sunset time shares.

However, the site is impressive. The quality of the workmanship on the units is remarkable, the views are incredible, but those units are also far away from the downtown, facing the Pacific - which you cannot swim in safely - and the roads up and down to the units are windy, steep and not walkable... no sidewalks. So a car or other kind of transportation is necessary for sure. But we enjoyed the tour and our guide was a pleasant fellow, too. In fact, he gave us some great tips for dinners and things to do while we are here. For the couple interested in a "destination" resort, utilizing the transportation provided by the resort, this might be a good buy. We met a couple who thought so.

On the bus back through town, I saw this wall of art messages by local creative minds with messages to share...

The last shot was taken on the beach where we had a picnic lunch on our own,
watching the Pacific waves roll in, in perfect form over and over again. After we got back to the "Blanco" and made ourselves a little dinner, we watched the sunset - again - did a little walk around the pool to get to the WiFi spot and finished up our e-mails and blogging... can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day Two - Cabo is cloudy

We woke up to cloudy skies and slightly cooler temperatures - only 80 ish... yesterday it was 90 when we arrived. We were scheduled for a time share trip to the Westin, a Raintree vacation resort. Our connection was “Jorge” and we were supposed to meet him outside the gates, as they are not allowed to drag people away from the Pueblo resorts to persuade them to sign up someplace else.

Well, we also got lost as we asked the captain at the front desk how to get out of the gate to go downtown and he directed us to the other gate and we ended up walking through some brush to find our way back. We both agreed it felt quite clandestine.

The drive from where we were, closer to town, took us back toward the airport. The thirsty desert of this area of Mexico was as rich and verdant as if it had been raining for weeks. Apparently there was a shower a couple of days ago - maybe an inch of rain. It didn’t matter that it was cloudy when we arrived at the Westin as the brilliant colors of yellow, pink, turquoise and magenta overwhelmed the eyes anyhow. And the view, as you can see from the pictures, was very impressive.

The actual tour only took 30 minutes, but after that our “guide” ate breakfast with us, and we found him to be quite entertaining and really a remarkable storyteller. The story he told us was touching and would bring tears to anyone's eyes. It turns out that he was also into Public Relations earlier in his career, so he and I also had that in common.

Anyhow, we toured the entire facility and sat through a lengthy presentation which took almost another three hours - too long!! Finally we were done and yet another individual came to try and close us on yet another "package" but we are hard nuts to crack and were able to keep saying, "No, gracias..." until they were worn out and gave us our "gifts" for letting them try to sell us.

So we have a glass-bottomed boat ride, a sunset boat cruise and a dinner for two to schedule before we leave. Let me add that there were some appealing aspects to the Raintree timeshare, but it is not near anything downtown and if they really wanted to sell their shares, they would be offering free transportation for owners to go back and forth to town by shuttle.

After a day of someone trying to sell you something non-stop, we were ready for the pool and a good book. I ended up making a sort of dinner out of the roast chicken we got at COSTCO and some freshly baked multi grain bread. (Yes, Marcie, they have a bakery just like yours down here... and we were going to take a picture but my camera needed to be recharged.) We sat on our little balcony and listened to the waves crashing on shore, though less intensely than they did the night before. The air was warm and we enjoyed listening to the music on the various boats criss-crossing the little bay here as we wound down from our day. (This last shot is from the Westin looking toward the eastern end of the Baja peninsula and the western edge of Mexico proper.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cabo is Fab-o!

Day One - We do have a sort of luck... curious at times. We arrived at the airport at 3:00 a.m. for the 5:15 flight to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico. Jey-hu received a call as we were standing in line waiting for the airline ticket folks to arrive and begin processing us. It was a call from Orbitz advising us that U.S. Airways had cancelled the Phoenix-Cabo portion of the flight due to “scheduled” maintenance on the aircraft.

You'd think they could schedule things a little bit better... But hats off to the airline’s agents who quickly found seats for the six of us who were being displaced out of Seattle. The two of us were put on Alaska, leaving at 6:15 a.m. which would get us to Cabo two hours later than expected.

It was a flight through San Francisco, CA, with enough time to find a place to order up a nice boxed lunch before we started on the next leg. Alaska’s offering on board at $3 a pop was considerably less appealing than the fresh chicken salad sandwich & chips I purchased along with some fresh pineapple I’d brought along from home. In just over two hours we were landing at the Los Cabos airport. The photo below shows what may be a sandy riverbed, inland from the coast. There are more mountains here than I expected, but never having been here before, it was all more than I expected!

But the time we made up in flying was lost as an estimated 450-500 other tourists were also arriving and had to go through customs. Finally we were able to get through customs without issue and found the taxi service we had been pre-advised to find. (Thanks, Keith!!)

And then we had the gauntlet to run - an “S” curve of human intensity I have rarely seen, unless you consider the running of the bulls in Pamploma! Guys were coming right up to Jey-hu trying to touch him, convince him to listen to them, and we kept on walking without talking at all, as instructed. Outside we found “Jose” who was waiting to get us to a taxi... but first we had to speak to Jorge who, it turned out, was a better salesman than the others, and he convinced us to go to Westin timeshare resort for breakfast on Sunday and a tour. (The zoom shot of the ricks rising out of the water is where the famous "arch" is and we have plans to take a day cruise out there while we are here.)

By the time we reached our charming hotel, Pueblo Bonito Blanco, right on the water, we had been up for 34 hours without sleeping... we had made the decision to get some business done on the home computer before leaving for the airport, knowing it was unlikely we would have the bandwidth to send large e-mails easily and that was probably a good decision in spite of our fatigue.

But we slid into the 80-degree pool and simply floated until sunset - dressed for dinner, took a few shots of the fading light but it is Jey-hu's last shot that earned the "Blog" award and is herein posted... and then we crashed.... totally wiped out. There is a lot to learn about this really lovely place - it's warm here almost year 'round and only gets about 5 inches a year in rainfall. Many of the taxi drivers do not speak English, so I am being challenged to remember what little Spanish I do know and learn a whole lot more. Even Jey-hu is getting bolder and using the few words he knows and is building his vocabulary. Tomorrow I think we may try and take the Beginner's Spanish class that the hotel offers. All in all, it's been very interesting and we really like this area a whole lot!

PS: Free WiFi is practically non-productive here... groan!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Swimming Across America in WA

On Saturday, Sept. 12, at o-dark-thirty, I headed south from Everett to Lake Washington to Mercer Island's Luther Burbank Park for the first annual Swim Across America event as a fund-raiser for a beneficiary which this year was the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The sun seemed to take forever to get up over the horizon, and before it actually made it, the first swimmers began to arrive to get registered and marked up. A team of volunteers, of which I was one, were already in place to blow up balls, prepare the coffee, cut up the bagels, hand out t-shirts and answer questions.

One of the swimmers is someone I know very well, and I had not advised her that I was going to be a volunteer, and she was significantly surprised to be standing in line for a t-shirt and see me standing there. I was there to support the swimmers, a family member who has cancer and to memorialize those who have recently died from Multiple Myeloma or another cancer.

About 90 men and women signed up to swim the two-mile route under the Mercer Island Bridge on the western side of the island and another 35 or 40, including a number of teens, were ready to swim a half-mile course. Each of the entrants had to raise $500 as part of their "training" for the competition along with other physical conditioning activities.

The efforts of these swimmers raised $65,000, along with other donations, putting the total raised near $100,000 for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The "prayer flags" were comments by various people about the event or about their motivation to swim the distance.

When the bus came to pick up the two-milers, the sun was shining brightly, there was little wind and the water was 69 degrees. They hit the water at 8 a.m. and the first swimmer, a guy, ran up on the beach at about 8:37 a.m.!

This was just after 8:30 a.m. when the half-milers got the gun and they were off, swimming furiously.

I took a break from being a spectator for a walk around the park and discovered a dew-covered spider web plus loads of blackberries ripening, and they were a tasty breakfast treat!

The announcer proclaimed a new wave of arrivals from the 2-mile group and I found the best spot to watch was up in the lifeguard's chair. My hat is off to all the swimmers who churned up the water for at least an hour; a few took longer than that to complete the course.

The last of the half-milers came in as well, moving the event from being spectators to the animated talk between swimmers and supporters about the event. Friends and relatives began arriving to share in the post-event breakfast and awards ceremony.

Young boys and girls were now bored with the adult conversation and quickly found a way to entertain themselves - a dried up fountain offered an opportunity to discover what it was supposed to be doing, where the water came from, where the water would go. I was fascinated by their youthful conclusions and research as they worked together easily, boys and girls, to reinforce their ideas.

One enterprising young lady had seen a number of bottles of water not being taken by the adults, and she offered to make several trips from the dry fountain to the source to carry more than a few bottles of water back to be poured into the dry spot to see if it would either generate more water or when overflowing would run down to the outlet. As I was her temporary "caretaker," at the request of her mother, I let her make a few trips without comment. Finally, after 9 bottles of water had been 'sacrificed,' I had to be the spoil-sport and stop her, partly because her parents were getting ready to leave. She was quick to think of another way to get the water... go to lake and fill up the bottles she already had! I hated to

be the limiter of her fun and stopping the energy of youthfulness.

The lazy sun was now heating up the day without a cloud to slow it down. People were leaving the park, heading off to other weekend duties or adventures. I had been a part of something powerful and moving... and my thoughts went out to the individuals who had committed to the swim and why they did it. How many times did their arms reach into the water to pull them along over a two-mile area? How many kicks did it take to get to the end? It was impressive and thought-provoking. And because of each one, combined into many, SCCA would have some additional research funds perhaps to help solve the mysteries of MM. Like this last shot suggests, a victory over cancer for good!