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Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted by Jody on May 10, 2015

This is the day Liam first touched the ocean! Oona slept through the excitement.  Nana shot pictures and smiled from ear to ear! Kristie made memories in the hearts of her children.

Oceanside, Oregon

This is the day Liam first touched the ocean! Oona slept through the excitement. Nana shot pictures and smiled from ear to ear! ~Happy Mother’s Day to Kristie and to all mothers everywhere!

“She kisses my boo-boos, she braids my hair. We love you mothers everywhere.”

~Agnes, Despicable Me 2

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Sylvan Beach Festival 2015

Posted by E.G.D. on May 6, 2015

Brown Water and Crashing Waves: Day After a Storm (photo by E.G.D.)

Brown Water and Crashing Waves: After a Storm (photo by E.G.D.)

I’ve been hearing stories about Sylvan Beach Festival since I started working in Pasadena in January 2014, and when the banners went up around La Porte in the early spring, I was pretty excited!  The town sent out pamphlets with information about who would be performing on the stage, the town’s tiny monthly newspaper rejoiced, and I made plans to go on Saturday 4/25.

I was therefore, not unnaturally annoyed when I woke up to a violent lightning storm that lasted straight through the scheduled time for the parade.  As you can tell from the photo above, though, by 1:00 in the afternoon the weather had changed its mind, and there was barely a cloud in the sky!  Granted, the water was more brown than I have ever seen it, and the waves were actually crashing!  Seriously.  Crashing!  In the bay!  I have never seen the like at Sylvan Beach, and let me tell you, the 40-or-so kids who were playing in the swells were having the time of their lives.

A few feet away from the beach, the festival was in full swing by the time I arrived, with stalls selling pretty much everything, midway rides, cooking competitions, live country music, and a cook-off.

Stalls on the water (photo by E.G.D.)

Stalls on the water (photo by E.G.D.)

The music was pretty good, though I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of country.  The stage was right on the water, so even with the amps booming, everyone in the audience could hear the crashing waves mixed in with the instrumentals ^_^.

Stage (photo by E.G.D.)

Stage (photo by E.G.D.)

I didn’t actually do anything at the midway, but I did take a picture:

DSCN0436It reminded me a lot of state and county fairs I’ve been to.  It was fun, and it was worth the $5 admission fee.  Normally, the beach is free, but normally the beach doesn’t have live music and a midway. I’m definitely going to the festival again next year, and maybe next year I’ll get to see the parade ^_^. -E.G.D.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Aloha from Hilo

Posted by E.G.D. on April 2, 2015

Black sand and kayaks (photo © Jody Diehl)

Black sand and kayaks (photo © Jody Diehl)

We started the day on the Big Island of Hawaii with a kayak tour of Hilo Bay, crossing the bay and riding the swells. We ended the crossing going up river to a secluded cove with banyan trees and multiple waterfalls that used to serve as power to sugar mills. We returned to the black sand beach along Hilo Bay Beachfront Park before lunch and went back to change and eat on the ship.

Having been to the Big Island before, we decided to simply tour on foot  the rest of the day. The Hilo Port/Bay area is dotted with numerous beach parks and small secluded coves for swimming, paddle boarding, picnicking, fishing, and boating.

We finished our day with swimming at Reeds Bay Beach Park, where families were settled in for a day of fun in the sun. There were picnickers, paddle boarders, swimmers, and canoeists all enjoying the clean little coral strewn shoreline. A local told us about the Wailoa River that meets the sea here and produces the cold water pooling in the “Ice Pond.’ The cold water combines with very warm water produced by the underwater lava vents. You swim from cold to warm and back to cold with each stroke. Pretty neat!

Have a wonderful day! – Jody & Greg

Posted in Beaches of The Hawaiian Islands, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tiny May be the Next Big Thing: Sylvan Beach, La Porte… Again!

Posted by E.G.D. on March 29, 2015

Jumping for Joy on Sylvan Beach (Photo © E.G.D.)

Jumping for Joy on Sylvan Beach (Photo © E.G.D.)

The weather here on the Texas gulf coast has been absolutely stellar lately, and I am pleased as punch to have a beach easy walking distance from my home.  Not unnaturally, one of the best parts about having a beach right next door is sharing that beach with my friends and family.  Now, I realize that I have posted about Sylvan Beach before, but yesterday’s Sylvan Beach experience is worthy of note because my sister (and noted doctor of geo sciences), Kristie, decided to start a tiny rock collection, and of course the kids, my friend Travis (of guest posting fame) and I joined in with gusto!

Collecting (Photo © E.G.D.)

Collecting (Photo © E.G.D.)

Now, between the five of us, we had a really substantial collection going… but because we were collecting tiny, tiny treasures, the pile was small enough to easily fit into the palm of, say, Oona’s kindergardener-sized hand.  Kristie thought that a collection of tiny rocks would be much easier on the movers when next she moves than, say, the truly substantially-sized rock collections she and her fellow geologist husband have accumulated over the years (“What’s in these boxes, anyway, rocks?!??” … “Um… actually…”), and I must agree, though I don’t think she and Ryan have any intention of ditching the larger rocks along the way.  Anyhow, fun, right?  We found some really good treasures.  Behold!

Tiny Treasures (Photo © E.G.D.)

Tiny Treasures (Photo © E.G.D.)

A budding collection (Photo © E.G.D.)

A budding collection (Photo © E.G.D.)

They’re colorful, they’re cute, and they’re smooth and shiny from being tumbled in the bay.  Also, we really enjoyed collecting them, and I have resolved to find a tiny salt shaker to put them in for display.

The moral of the experience?  One beach-goer’s large grain of sand is another beach-goer’s new tiny rock!  Have a great day, preferably at the beach ^_^ -E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Magical Bora Bora and Motu Haapiti

Posted by E.G.D. on March 29, 2015

Take every shade of blue and of green that you have ever seen or even imagined. Swirl them together and you have the astonishing kaleidoscope of brilliant colors that makes up the island of Bora Bora. Now, take those colors along with purples, golds, yellows, and oranges and you now have Bora Bora’s phenomenal underwater wonderland. That having been said, words cannot possibly describe Bora Bora. Photos simply don’t do it justice.

Sunrise in Bora Bora (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Sunrise in Bora Bora (Photo © Jody Diehl)

We had stunning views as we sailed in just as the sun was rising behind the island. Greg and I were the first of the ship’s passengers on the first tender to shore where we set about exploring the little village of Vaitape. I do believe we actually experienced the town’s morning rush hour. Cars came and went up the narrow main (barely two lane) street.  Everyone smiles and greets you in Bora Bora. Their homeland is their pride and joy. Here English is more frequently spoken amongst the locals than on Tahiti. [Editor’s Note: Jody and Greg didn’t make it to a beach on Tahiti for reasons of time and a language barrier, so I didn’t turn their e-love-letter to Tahiti into a post- E.G.D.] We had a full day excursion planned and started out at 9:00 with a sail around the island. First stop: swimming with the sharks and rays at a shallow reef. What an experience! The guides enticed both the sharks and rays to come closer. Some of the black tip sharks were easily five feet in length. They came out of every direction and you never knew when one would appear underneath or passing right next to you. The same was true for the rays (also quite large). Neither seemed to care that we were sharing the water with them. We cared plenty and were exceedingly grateful for their kind hospitality! Next stop: the coral gardens where the water was quite a bit deeper. The brilliantly colorful coral gardens were teeming with life.

Next stop: a private island where we enjoyed a picnic lunch, music, dancing, the most thorough and entertaining coconut demonstration ever, and more time for swimming and snorkeling. Motu Haapiti has the most startling crystal clear water we have ever, ever seen. Just imagine swimming in bottled water. Actually, the entire lagoon around Bora Bora is this clear. It was only more obvious at the shallow beach surrounding Motu Haapiti. [Editor’s Note: This set of photos actually includes some beach shots, which is how I justified posting this! -E.G.D.]

During the entire day of sailing around the tiny island we enjoyed Polynesian music and songs from our joyful crew. Bora Bora is the place of dreams. Please don’t pinch me!!! Today we will cross back over the equator and arrive once again in the northern hemisphere. Next stop: Hilo, Hawaii-  Jody & Greg

Posted in Beaches of the South Pacific | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Picture Perfect: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Posted by E.G.D. on March 24, 2015

We had another fabulous port of call, this time at Rarotonga, the youngest of the Cook Islands. Rarotonga is the picture perfect setting you would imagine finding on a postcard of the South Pacific. Only better! Rarotonga’s natural beauty is stunning. The island’s rugged, eroded volcanic peaks are covered in dense, green vegetation. And sparkling blue lagoons are surrounded by pearly white sand and tall, swaying palm trees. Picture perfect!

The hot and steamy day (even for the locals) started with a trip to Muri Lagoon, the go-to spot for snorkeling on the island. There we found colorful fish, coral, and black sea cucumbers galore. The water was crystal clear and cool. The currents were pretty tricky, pulling us this way and that. We just decided to head up the white sandy beach and then let the current take us back to the nearby beachside resort. It worked pretty well, but there was a whole lot of kicking involved!

We shuttled back into town in the afternoon, hoping the shops and cafes might be open. They weren’t. Rarotonga is a Christian community and Sunday is a day for church, and rest, and family. We walked through the tiny midtown area and turned up a street and into a neighborhood where we found a monument on a triangle of road. It was the stone from which the first Christian sermon was given on the island. It read: “On this stone Papeiha first preached the Christian message in Rarotonga in 1823.” Cool find for just walking up a side street! There were many churches tucked away all along the main road. The sign in front of Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral showed that the 9:00 AM Sunday mass is said in Maori.

Island life is relaxed, patient, and accepting. Each person we met on Rarotonga was joyful and very friendly. It was a full day of fun and exploration.

Next stop: Tahiti.

We hope all is well with all of you.

Have a wonderful yesterday!- Jody & Greg

Posted in Beaches of the South Pacific | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Wellington, NZ and the Storm Coast

Posted by E.G.D. on March 19, 2015

We made it to Wellington well before midnight. The commodore, (who has been captaining our ship since Sydney) wanted the ship to be safely tucked into Wellington’s harbor as early as possible.

It was a dark and rainy day. The morning started with an excursion to the aptly named Storm Coast. And was it ever a blast! We wound around the coast from Wellington to Eastbourne, viewing some really fantastic scenery and watching the Picton-Wellington ferry clash with the sea’s swells.  It was cold, wet, and sooooo windy (the kind of wind you have to lean into to hopefully stay on your feet). All in all, the perfect day for a visit to The Storm Coast, and travel into the section of the shoreline also known as The Shipwreck Coast.


The drive ended at a beautiful, hilltop sheep ranch where we were served tea (as in tea and treats). The ranch owner and his two faithful dogs gave us a sheep herding demonstration which was great fun. Then it was back to Wellington, along the same stretch of coast, as high tide approached the coastline. That, and the wind, made for fun photo stops at a shipwreck and a lighthouse beach along the return route.

After the tour, Greg and I headed into New Zealand’s capital city. We followed the seafront from the ship’s berth to Oriental Bay, about a three mile walk (The Maritime Heritage Trail). On the beach at Oriental Bay we found quite a bit of sea glass in brown, green, and clear colors. Along the way I was struck by the amount of public art Wellington has to offer. Every nook and cranny seemed to have some sort of purposefully designed public art to sit on, walk across, or simply ponder over.

No time for snooping around shops today. We had to make it back to the ship for our departure to Aukland. Now, even though Commodore Rynd has altered our course, this was the day with our roughest seas yet (but only for a short while)!

Have a wonderful yesterday! -Jody & Greg

Posted in Beaches of Australia and New Zealand | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bob’s Bay: Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand

Posted by E.G.D. on March 17, 2015

Jody and Greg in Picton (I don't have any idea who took this picture, as Jody and Greg are both in it!)

Jody and Greg in Picton (I don’t have any idea who took this picture, as Jody and Greg are both in it!)

We had a lovely day in Picton, Marlborough, although our visit was shortened due to the impending weather. Picton was a substitute port for Akaroa which was threatened by the remains of Tropical Cyclone Pam. We had a fabulous time exploring this picturesque little community on the tip top of New Zealand’s South Island.

The locals were quite friendly and quick to give information and suggestions for a day in and around town. We started walking along the marina where we spotted many many-legged sea stars, a stationary carpet shark (they feed off the bottom), and a rather large ray gliding by. “Walking tracks” were all over the map so we headed out for a hike that followed the shore to Bob’s Bay.

Bob's Bay (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Bob’s Bay (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Bob's Bay (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Bob’s Bay (Photo © Jody Diehl)

It took most of the morning to enjoy the sometimes-challenging hike and be absolutely dazzled by the scenery of Queen Charlotte Sound. We returned by Upper Bob’s Bay Track and headed into town for a snack and a look around the shops. We had Hokey Pokey ice cream cones, a New Zealand specialty vanilla & honey comb concoction that was oh-so tasty.

Bob's Bay Tide Pool! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Bob’s Bay Tide Pool! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

The day ended with a steady rain as the Queen Victoria headed for Cook Strait and our journey to Wellington. We experienced our roughest seas to date as the commodore attempted to outrun some much worse weather and expected high swells.

Have a wonderful yesterday! – Jody & Greg

Posted in Beaches of Australia and New Zealand, Tide Pools | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Manly Beach (Manly, Sydney Area, Australia)

Posted by E.G.D. on March 15, 2015

Welcome to Manly Beach! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Welcome to Manly Beach! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Many Aussies had recommended Manly, a seaside suburb of Sydney, over the touristier Bondi Beach for the more classic Sydney experience. Manly touts itself to be “seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care.”

Miles from care! (photo © Jody Diehl)

Miles from care! (photo © Jody Diehl)

Truth in advertising! We crossed Sydney Harbor in thirty minutes and found lovely little calm-water beaches on either side of the wharf. We walked down The Corso (about two blocks) to the Pacific Ocean, changed, and headed into the sea. It was another beautiful day for the beach! Manly’s surf was a little less powerful than the surf we experienced at Surfer’s Paradise, but what surprised both of us is the clarity of the water between the waves. It was crystal clear! When we were done jumping over and diving into the waves, we walked the promenade, peeked into a few stores, and enjoyed the perfect weather. -Jody and Greg

Manly Lifeguard ^_^ (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Manly Lifeguard ^_^ (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Fun in the Sun (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Fun in the Sun (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Posted in Beaches of Australia and New Zealand | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Day in Surfer’s Paradise (Brisbane, Austrailia)

Posted by E.G.D. on March 15, 2015

In case you didn't know where you were, here's a sign ^_^ (Photo ©  Jody Diehl)

In case you didn’t know where you were, here’s a sign ^_^ (Photo © Jody Diehl)

G’day mates!

Our trip to Australia’s Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise was spectacular! We couldn’t figure out if the area was named for the golden sand or the big bucks the area obviously attracts.

Surfers Paradise was the absolutely perfect beach. It seemed to stretch forever. We got there by bus transfer from the Port of Brisbane. The ride was less than an hour and a half from the ship. Driving along the highway we were struck by all of the familiar businesses: IKEA, Target, and (of course) all of the fast food restaurants we generally see in Every Town, USA.

We also noticed all of the park lands and green spaces in the cities. The Gold Coast was loaded with beautiful green parks too. The Esplanade at Surfers Paradise was shaded with trees, grassy areas, man-made shade, and public art. There large sculpted, permanently installed lounge chairs on the promenade that served the sun bathers. We even saw an amazing treed park on top of a two story parking garage.

Greg in Surfer's Paradise! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Greg in Surfer’s Paradise! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

We changed into our bathing suits in the cleanest public restrooms I’ve ever seen (especially at a beach!). Then we just dropped our beach bag on the sand and ran into the surf.

Sand n' Surf (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Sand n’ Surf (Photo © Jody Diehl)

The huge waves were crashing and had quite a powerful drag.

Life guards were plentiful and their stations were loaded with every type of equipment you could imagine (picture those beach  lifeguard/rescue  TV shows). I’ve never felt so safe – both for our personal safety and our belongings on the shore. It was a blast. We stayed in the surf for as long as we thought we wouldn’t get burned…

Lovely Surfer's Paradise! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

Lovely Surfer’s Paradise! (Photo © Jody Diehl)

All in all, it was the perfect day for our stop at the Port of Brisbane, Australia.

We hope all is well with all of you.

Have a wonderful yesterday! Love to everyone! – Jody & Greg

On to Sydney!

Posted in Beaches of Australia and New Zealand | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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