Monday, February 18, 2019

Snowy Vermont.

2-18-19 VERMONT: We’ve been here for a few days. There is lots of snow. The bottom rail of the three rail fence is covered in places, the piles under the eaves almost reach the eaves. The driveway was nearly full until Eric used a bucket loader to dump the pile of plowed snow into the yard.

Saturday was in the mid thirties and sunny, so we snowshoed around the pasture with the dogs. Sunday was much colder, in the single digits. The dogs are oblivious to the cold.

Dan and Alison were here Saturday and Sunday with a load of stuff for the wedding. We had dinner at Carpenter and Main that night, not great. We haven’t eaten there in a while, but decided to give it another try, still disappointing.

Today we’re getting new snow, but only a few inches so far. It’ll all be gone by early May.

The front porch is almost enclosed by snow sliding off the roof.

Judy and the goldens. Judy is on snowshoes.

A few days ago it was fairly warm and sunny.

Today we're getting a little more snow. The three rail fence has become a two rail fence.

Monday, February 11, 2019


2-11-19 SHORT HILLS: We saw The Ferryman Saturday night. It’s great, electrifying theatre. It has one set, about two dozen characters, mostly from one extended family, set in Northern Ireland in 1981. See it. No spoilers offered.

We had a mediocre dinner at Lattanzi beforehand.

Opening set for The Ferryman.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Costa Rica Trip IX and X.

1-30-19 OSA, COSTA RICA: We were up at 5 AM for breakfast at 5:30 before our boat trip to Corcovado National Park that left at 6 AM just before sunrise. There was more wave action today with surf and swells off shore that bounced us around as we sped west to the reserve. We were pleased to have naturalist Julian with us again. There were eight of us on both excursions, mostly the same people. After another wet landing, we dried our feet on the beach and changed from wet shoes, Crocs for me, to hiking shoes for our exploration.

Heading out before sunrise.

Captain Pinky and Naturalist Julian.

Wet landing on black gravel beach of basalt on process of becoming sand.

Entrance to the Park at the western end. The park is huge, 164 sq. miles, a lot of it is primary forest. You can only visit with a licensed guide, you can stay overnight, but only at a ranger station with a prior reservation. You may not bring in any food, but must eat at the cafeteria. All of which are appropriate restrictions.

The preserve is 164 sq. miles in area and is a significant part of the Osa peninsula. We started at the western end, a bare-bones ranger outpost along with about 100 other folks from different hotels or tours. We stopped almost immediately to watch a bunch of spider monkeys traveling through the treetops and then headed west paralleling the beach. This was the only level walking of the trip.

Roadside hawk.

Chestnut-backed antbird.

We had gone a short way when we saw the eastern end of a tapir browsing through the underbrush and headed west. A few steps later we saw a sloth high up a tree. There were birds including a bunch of macaws and a toucan, some shore birds at a pond near the beach, army ants, honey bees, termite nests, lizards and monkeys. We saw spider monkeys twice again, howler monkeys sleeping in trees, and a group of capuchin monkeys that we followed for a while, including a mother and child pair. The second sloth was also carrying a baby. Later we saw another tapir, sound asleep after a morning of grazing.

Scarlet Macaw above and below.

We watched the macaws for a while, there were about six or eight.

Black hawk diverted attention from the macaws for a moment.

Macaw using it's foot as a hand to eat an almond fruit.

Howler monkey observing us as we observed him. They have prehensile tails, here wrapped around the branch.

Sloth, its face is at the upper end. It can be hard to tell what's what on a sloth through the leaves.

An immature Little blue heron was one of several waders we saw at a lagoon near the beach.

Yellow-throated toucan above and below.

We could hardly walk 100 feet without stopping for something.

Spider monkey walking through the trees.

Capuchin monkey mom with baby.

Another sloth, you can see the three toes on her legs and a baby poking out between the left arm and leg.

Capuchin monkey with a white face.

Exhausted tapir getting a mud bath after a hard morning of grazing.

Great tinamou, another chicken sized bird.

Spider monkeys high up there.

There were no jaguars, pumas or any other smaller cats, no snakes, no squirrel monkeys, no peccaries although Julian smelled them and introduced us to the aroma of the peccaries, similar to a bunch of unwashed humans, long unwashed humans. There was lots of lush vegetation, tall trees, vines, shrubs, ground plants. Almost all the plants were done flowering and the animals were waiting for the fruits.

By about noon we were all tired and went to the Sirena Ranger Station where we hydrated, rested and lunched before heading back to the beach, the boat and another bumpy ride back to the hotel.

I took about 600 pix that morning, deleted 500 after reviewing and editing, and I guess everybody else did the same. Eight times 600 is almost 5000, times 10 or 12 groups would make some 50,000 pix for the day. Imagine it we still used film. Nobody took a single picture on the 1 km walk back to the beach.

The rest of the afternoon was for relaxation and napping. Then we had our last dinner.

1-31-19 ENROUTE SJO-EWR: We made our connections. Breakfast and an earthquake at Osa, boat ride to Draketown, if that tiny village has a name, SUV to DRK, little plane from DRK to SJO and big plane from SJO to EWR. It all went smoothly, including the walk from the domestic terminal to the international terminal with the carry-ons. We went through immigration and screening in half an hour because we had checked in and printed boarding passes the night before.

The earthquake, a 4.6-er. was located about 20 miles away to the north, 29 miles under the Pacific Ocean. We experienced a brief, small tremor and a loud grinding sound. There was no damage. Short Hills tonight.

Costa Rican terrain from the air. Almost everything is a mountain.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Costa rica Trip VII and VIII.

1-28-19 OSA, COSTA RICA: We left Lost Iguana Resort before 7AM, missing breakfast, to get to SJO for 12:15 flight to the Osa peninsula, which is on the Pacific coast at the southern end of Costa Rica. The traffic was pretty bad after San Ramón, but we made it in plenty of time.

The lobby at Lost Iguana before we left. It's raining lightly.

Exiting La Fortuna, we saw this turkey-sized bird, Great Curassow.

Arenal and La Fortuna are in sight of the Pacific Ocean, but are on the Caribbean side of the continental divide, which is the wet side because the trade winds blow in from the east bringing warm, wet air from the Caribbean, which cools, condenses and forms precipitate as it is pushed up the mountains.

It was raining and foggy when we left La Fortuna. As we drove higher and higher, it got foggier and foggier. As we crossed the continental divide, the sky turned blue and the sun came out, and it got hotter. If we looked back at the mountains, they were still cloaked in clouds.

At the continental divide, looking back at the east, Carib side--fog and rain.

Standing on the same spot as above and turning around to the west, the Pacific side is warm and sunny.

We flew Sansa Airline to Drake Bay Airport, DRK, which took about 30 minutes. The prop plane seats about 18 passengers, we were pleased that there was a co-pilot. DRK has a small terminal. We grabbed our stuff and were met by a driver from the hotel, who drove us for a few miles along the coast on a rough, dirt road to a small town beach where we were met by a boat from the hotel, Copa de Arbol Resort, which has no usable road access. It’s on the beach, about ten cabinos and a big central hall, very beautiful setting and architecture. The boat ride was about 10 minutes.

Approaching DRK.

The only hitch was a drenching rain for about 20 minutes, just as we were transferring from the van to the boat. The luggage stayed dry, but we were soaked. There was no dock, so we had to take off our shoes and roll up the pants and wade out to the boat through the rain. The clothes are hanging up to dry.

After we changed into dry stuff, we had lunch and did a short walk on the beach. The dark brown sand is punctuated by formations of basalt. The ocean temp must be 85°. Tropical vegetation starts at the high water mark. The surf is gentle.

The waterfront at Arbol.

Dining room at Arbol. No shoes are allowed above the ground floor. I guess they want to keep those beautiful wood floors unscratched by sandy shoes.

The beach--sand and  basalt.

The view from our room.

1-29-19 OSA, COSTA RICA: This morning we were taken to Isla del Caño by boat, a ten-passenger skiff with a big outboard. The island is about 10 miles off the coast and is a National Park and nature preserve that permits visitors for snorkeling and diving, but not exploring in the forest.

We left the hotel at 8 AM and stopped part way out to watch a flock of birds and dolphin feeding on a school of fish. The dolphins turned out to be Spotted Dolphins. We saw a few mother-child pairs. The birds were a mix of Boobys—several Brown, some Red-Footed and, perhaps, a few Blue-Footed.

Brown booby.

Mixed bunch of boobys.

Spotted dolphin momma and baby.

When we arrived, we snorkeled from the boat. The water clarity was excellent, 30-40 feet, the bottom was partly sandy and had basalt deposits in places with attached coral formations. The fish were a mix of reef fish with some larger tuna and mahi-mahi. We saw one sea turtle on the second snorkel session. The sea surface was almost calm.

Between the snorkel sessions we were on the beach for a snack and a visit to the ranger station for a glimpse of some pre-Columbian artifacts. There were hundreds of tiny hermit crabs on the beach, mostly crawling away from the ocean. I saw a Yellow-headed Caracara on the beach. Naturalist Julian led the snorkeling and land activities.

Approaching  Isla del Caño, the basalt extends off-shore and hosts the corals.

The beach at Isla del Caño, classic tropical isle.

Yellow-headed caracara on the beach.

Back at the hotel, we cleaned up, lunched and later napped before dinner.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Costa Rica Trip VI.

1-27-19 LA FORTUNA, COSTA RICA: Bananas were out on the feeders at breakfast at the Blue Hibiscus, and the birds co-operated.

Blue-gray tanager and clay-colored thrush. The thrush is the National Bird of Costa Rica. It seems a drab choice.

Turkey vulture. Vultures are always in the air whenever we see the sky. They perform a valuable function.

The morning outing to Mystico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park started early with Alvin driving again and Zander, our new guide. This forest was dryer than the last, but nearly as densely and diversely packed. We walked up and down and crossed many hanging bridges. There were birds, bats, lizards, butterflies and a waterfall. By the time we completed the two-mile loop, Arenal was cloud free for the first time. We could see steam rising out of vents at the top.

This trail had good footing and lots of green.

Bats doing their daytime snooze.

Not much sun gets to the forest floor. When a tree falls, seeds on the ground 'hear' it and grow because they get sun for the first time.

Trail below a bridge above.

Monkey ladder.

Small waterfall from a bridge.

How 'bout that blue tail?

Arenal exposed, very symmetrical.

The white stuff at the top is steam escaping from vents.

Back in the van, we drove to La Fortuna Waterfall, going through La Fortuna. It’s so named because the town once dodged a lava flow.

The big waterfall, Catarata Fortuna drops more than 200 feet with 500 steps down and 500 steps back up. That’s 40 or 50 flights of stairs, but we did it, if slowly. Many people were soaking in the pool and rapids at the bottom. Next to the waterfall is a formation of columnar basalt.

Waterfall, you can see the volcanic basalt behind the water. I'll put a video up on FB.

Blue morpho butterfly. The blue shows on the dorsal surface of the wings when they're spread in flight. They hardly ever show the blue when they're still.

The columnar basalt. As it cools, the basalt forms hexagonal columns. This rock structure can be seen in many places, including the Hudson River Palisades. In the wet season, this site becomes another waterfall.

Alvin and Zander took us to a local ranch for a late lunch. It was Costa Rican cuisine buffet, and we loved it. I went Costa Rican for all the subsequent lunches. We toured the gardens and tilapia ponds after lunch.

Zander, Alvin, Judy and my lunch on the right--heavy with rice and beans and tilapia.

Back at Lost Iguana we got a few more bird pix before dinner and packing for the next transfer to the Osa Peninsula.

Visible from our little patio, a flock of scarlet-rumped tanagers and a brown jay, below, were feasting on that fruit.