Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catching up... again... this time from our Montana trip in June, 2010

I'm more behind than ever and before memory fails me completely... thought I'd try to catch up a bit and post some images and experiences from our June trip to Red Lodge, Montana where (as some of you may recall) we have a lovely home that is available for a vacation rental when we are not using it.

One of the best experiences from our visit this year was when I got together with a high school classmate for an adventure in the nearby Pryor Mountains where a herd of wild mustangs has roamed freely for many years. The Pryor Mountains span the southern Montana - northern Wyoming border not far from Red Lodge so making a day trip to search out the horses was easily arranged.

Cathy picked me up around 9 AM and we packed our lunch (provided by me) and my camera gear into her car and headed for Lovell, Wyoming where the Wild Mustang Center is located. After a quick stop at the Wild Mustang Center to pick up a detailed map of the area and to find out where the horses could be seen, off we went in search of horses. We found five (four adults and a young foal) right where the ranger at the Mustang Center told us they would be. All the images I posted from our adventure are viewable as a slide show... I've also included a few of my favorites below to whet your appetite for additional viewing.

Wyoming Landscape
Typical, wild, wonderful Wyoming scenery in the area around the Pryor Mountains. The red color is a result of iron in the soil.

Wild mustang conference
The horses were some distance away when we first spotted them and we'd been advised not to approach too closely as they can be unpredictable. Here, they appear to be having a conference about something and the foal is almost completely hidden from view (look on the left side behind the front horse).

Mustang mare
This was taken after the horses had moved from where we first saw them to a much more accessible location... and they seemed totally bored with our being there! This is the mother of the young foal that was with this group (see the next image for the foal).

young wild mustang
The young foal was never far from its mother's side.

Canyon of the Bighorn River as seen from Canyon Overlook road
Although we never really tired of taking pictures of the horses, we did decide to go to the Canyon Overlook of the Bighorn River where this image was taken. There are a few more as well as a map of the Canyon Overlook area in the slide show which only has 16 images so it takes less than a minute to view it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big Sky Panorama... Montana, 2010

big sky country panorama
Is it any wonder we love visiting Montana... we were there in June, 2010 and I'm clearly way late in posting anything about our adventures from this trip. This image is a panorama, stitched together from several images taken off Route 78 and Fox Road outside of Red Lodge, Montana. (We have a vacation home there, available for rent when we are not using it.)

This is a teaser... I hope to post more from our trip soon and hope you'll enjoy this image in the meantime!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catching up... St. Croix... the rest of the trip and future notes!

Since my last post (and not THE last post) about our trip to St. Croix, we've been to Montana for three weeks and to Illinois for 7 days so I'm definitely far, far, far behind on posting here. It seems that many things have intervened and kept me too busy to post...
  1. first with things here at the house and two weekend trips the two weekends prior to leaving for Montana
    • one from May 21-23, 2010 to "Dirt Fest" at Raystown Lake, PA (a mountain biking event Mike wanted to attend again this year and I accompanied him)
    • a second trip (by me alone) to Easton, PA to visit Robin (brother) and Pat (his wife) over the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend
  2. and then with our trip to Montana (from June 2-23, 2010) which came about in a rather rushed fashion with a decision to go only about 3 weeks before we actually packed up and left
  3. and last but not least, a trip to Illinois from June 27 - July 3, 2010 due to a death in the family (Mike's mother passed away on June 19 while we were still in Montana); viewing and a memorial service were held in Lovington, IL (where she grew up and where other family is buried)
SO... I will try to briefly wrap up the last few days of our stay in St. Croix before forging ahead with stories from the rest of our travels! In the days after attending my nephew's wedding (see previous post) and before our departure, we managed to fit in another family dinner at our villa that included picture taking at the request of some of us who especially enjoy the tradition of a photo of "the five" siblings, some more shopping, another snorkeling trip for "the boys" (Mike and Larry III), a visit to the St. George Village Botanical Garden to walk around the grounds and shop a bit more at their delightfully air-conditioned shop (it was HOT outside), a quick stop to see Jason and Keely's apartment high on a hill overlooking Christiansted, and last, but not least, a family dinner at No Bones Restaurant (Jason and Keely's favorite local dining spot) on our last night in St. Croix. A few images are included below...

five siblings
One of several family photos taken on June 25, 2010 in St. Croix. This one shows "the five" siblings from left to right... Robin, Valerie, Larry, Victoria and Lukas. There is a slide show available for viewing the rest of the family photos including the ones from our last night together at No Bones Restaurant.
snorkelers on beach
Larry III and Mike returning from snorkeling at a beach near Point Udall.
better snorkeling beach
Just on the other side of the hill... better snorkeling than where Mike and Larry III snorkeled... but we saw it too late!
Cannonball tree buds and flower
A very unusual flowering tree... the Cannonball tree... so named because its fruits resemble cannonballs when ripe... this image shows some buds and one fully opened flower.
Christiansted, USVI
A view of Christiansted (town and harbor), USVI from Jason and Keely's apartment... the road was pretty rough (steep with sharp turns AND muddy) getting up there but we made it!
yellow and green building
An interesting building with exterior walkway and arches... I just like this one!

"THE END" of my St. Croix posts... on to the next adventures when I have some more time to post.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

St. Croix, USVI - Wedding Day - April 24, 2010

I know I'm very late posting the rest of our trip images and stories... seems that many things have intervened since our return home on the 28th.

The day of my nephew's wedding dawned cloudy and there were several periods of rain showers throughout the day. But the weather cleared shortly before the ceremony was to start and the rest of the late afternoon and evening was marvelously clear and quite nice.

We arrived, as instructed by my nephew, 45 minutes before the ceremony was to start to find the catering crew completing the setup of tables and the bar and wandered around exploring the lovely grounds of the estate. As guests started to arrive, we saw family members we hadn't seen since the last wedding (Jason's younger brother Michael married Dawn in August of 2008).

Once all the guests arrived and were seated, following a short and joyous ceremony, Jason and Keely enjoyed celebrating their union with all of those in attendance. Partying LATE into the evening followed the ceremony and I have far too many images of their wedding to share in this space. I've uploaded a few here which may be viewed as a slide show if you want to see all eleven images (takes about 30 seconds depending on your connection speed).

I've included a few family images below ... and a couple of scenic shots from the grounds of the lovely Cane Garden Estate, St. Croix, USVI where the wedding was held. Enjoy!
Cane Garden Estate
Cane Garden Estate, main house. Jason and Keely had their wedding ceremony on the steps; we weren't allowed inside but peeking through the windows showed a gorgeously restored interior of this historic residence.
bride Keely and groom Jason
The lovely bride and handsome groom after the vows and just before marching down the aisle to "Another one bites the dust..."
Grooms uncles L-R back row: Tom, Lukas, Larry, Mike; front row: Duane, Larry III, Robin.
Pat and Robin kissing
The kiss... Pat and Robin on a bench with the clear water and gorgeous countryside behind them.
Dress was island casual... we all took advantage of that! Family members L-R include Valerie (mother of the groom), Larry III, Larry, Tom, Chris, Lukas, Michael, Dawn and Pat.
Evan, Dawn and ShaneMichael and Dawn
Groom's family in the left photo L-R: cousin Evan, sister-in-law Dawn and brother Shane; brother Michael and his wife Dawn on the right.

Friday, May 7, 2010

St. Croix, USVI - April 23, 2010

Still trying to catch up on posts... our villa in St. Croix was marvelous... if you are ever inclined to go there... look up Amonoka Villa and see if it's available... 3 bedrooms on the main level (a fourth sleeping area in the downstairs apartment), 4-1/2 baths on the main level, huge common area that doubles as a dining room and sitting area indoors, pool with large deck and more dining area space as well as LOTS of lounging furniture to aid in loafing the day away if you aren't inclined to explore the island. There is also a large kitchen, wireless internet, generator (in case of power outages)... all in a gated community high up on the hillside on the north side of the island. The master bedroom suite has two bathrooms!

Anyone interested in tropical plants, birds, lizards (geckos) and/or insects will find plenty to enjoy in the grounds surrounding the villa... the gardens have fruit trees, many flowering plants and bushes and all manner of visitors if one sits quietly and waits. You might enjoy viewing a short slide show of the grounds and spacious rooms.

One day late in the week, we came back to the villa to discover a power outage had disabled the keypad (electricity required) that we used to enter the combination to access our private driveway. Once we realized that there was no power, a quick phone call to the emergency number led us to the caretaker who talked us through getting in the gate. Once inside, and still with no power, another phone call to the caretaker had him on site within 15 minutes to fire up the generator. We were VERY impressed to find out that the generator would give us full power at the villa until the next morning IF the power didn't come back on... but the power was restored within an hour or so which meant we didn't have to rely any longer on the generator.

Our evening adventure was a mixed failure/success... our dinner at The Waves was not so great (seriously overcooked red snapper which required cutting with a knife) and slow service (island time)... but the Mocko Jumbie show afterwards at Carombola Resort was quite entertaining! (Family and friends might like to view the slide show of pictures taken during dinner at The Waves.) We hurried to RumRunners after the Mocko Jumbie show only to find that the rehearsal dinner party crowd had mostly dispersed which meant we didn't get to party that evening with my nephew and his fiancee.

I'll leave you with another island sunset image (taken from The Waves Restaurant) and a photo and a bit of information (a teaser) about the Mocko Jumbies.


3 mocko jumbie dancers
Mocko Jumbies (sometimes spelled Moko) have been in the Virgin Island cultural heritage for over 200 years and trace their history back to Africa as far back as the 13th and 14th centuries. More information is available elsewhere about their history and cultural significance. Mocko Jumbies are popular for their performances at many festivals as well as in shows for the tourists and locals who appreciate seeing these colorful dancers high up on stilts doing steps that some of us cannot even do with both feet firmly on the ground!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

St. Croix, USVI - April 22, 2010

We've been home for a week and I've been playing catch-up everywhere... so today I've vowed I WILL post at least one more report from our week in St. Croix. After a lazy morning, we went into town for lunch at RumRunners (great spiced shrimp and good salads) and learned a bit about our excellent waitress who lives year-round on a 56 foot sailboat... traveling with her partner where the wind takes them and lighting here and there to wait tables whenever the spirit moves her! Since I'm not overly fond of heat and humidity (which St. Croix has), I'm not terribly envious of this life style.

I already posted a few images from yesterday in the previous post. We wandered around town and shopped a bit for snorkel gear (flippers for me, mask repair parts for Mike) and the best find... a hat for me to wear to the wedding! After lunch, we tried (and failed) to find the recommended supermarket and wound up shopping at Pueblo instead. Groceries are QUITE expensive in St. Croix since almost everything (except rum made locally) has to be shipped to the island. Dashing home afterward, we communicated with the rest of our immediate family members who were staying at a nearby villa that we would host dinner to save them having to go out after traveling most of the day!

For some reason, I don't seem to have family photos from our gathering but will include a few other images below...

building on grounds of Fort Christiansvaern
View of yellow building with green doors (same building that appears in close-up of stairs and doors in the previous post).
restoration work at Fort Christiansvaern
Working on restoration at Fort Christiansvaern, the best restored of the many Danish built forts in the US Virgin Islands and now a historic site.
shore bird
A shore bird on the rocks in front of RumRunners.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. Croix - April 21-22, 2010

Arriving in St. Croix, we were met by the "Villa greeter" (holding a sign with our name) and my brother and his partner who had arrived "on-island" a few minutes before we did. Once we collected our luggage and rental car, we followed the greeter (caravan of two white Toyota Camrys) to our villa. We're in a HUGE sprawling villa with 4 bedrooms and who knows how many bathrooms (haven't counted those yet), a swimming pool, loads of lounge chairs for relaxing outdoors, beautiful gardens... luxury!

Staying at our villa are my sister and her youngest son (oldest is the reason we're all here as he is getting married Saturday), my youngest brother and his partner, myself and my other half and another one of my nephews. Maybe I'll try to get a group photo later!

Meantime, I'm posting a couple images from yesterday... a sunset from our villa and a portion of a most interesting building at Fort Christiansvaern, an old fort built by the Danish in 1749 to protect the harbor at Christiansted, St. Croix... The fort was was partially rebuilt in 1771 after being severely damaged by a succession of hurricanes. It is now a national historic site and is the best preserved of the few remaining Danish-built forts in the Virgin Islands.


yellow building with green doors and stone steps

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

St. Croix, USVI - April 21 - April 28, 2010

We're off on an island adventure as of tomorrow... house sitter lined up to take care of getting us to the airport. (what an incredible friend indeed since we must be on the road to the airport as of 4 AM!) And he'll feed the birds, take care of newspapers and mail and generally keep an eye on things.

My nephew Jason is getting married on Saturday... he's been living in St. Croix for several years and it is where he met his bride-to-be... the lovely Keely! I hope to find time to post a few images while we are there... but family vacations are pretty happening events with this crowd so we'll have to see what happens!

Hope also to do some snorkeling and see a bit of the island. And of course, take LOTS of photos to post here, there, and maybe elsewhere too.