Friday, September 19, 2014

Piranhas, Dolphins, Amazon cruise

Amazon Cruise June 2014

One of the fun side trips Mo Jr arranged was a fishing trip.  We had to go deep into the trees but we found a good spot.

some of us caught fish

this one had poisonous spikes, so they took it away quickly :)


 What the heck is this?
It's a termite nest the size of a child-awesome...

When you look closely the construction is really cool but then you think about how many termites that is and kind of freak out.  There were similar nests for a ant that was sensitive to sound.  Mo Jr.  gave loud, low shout and the ants came scurrying out.

There was one outing that only E- and I went on-I think some important match was on that afternoon.  We went out in one canoe with Mo Jr.,  his niece (who maybe wants to be a vet tech) and one crewman.  He was a fantastic animal spotter.  We saw so many animals.  A tree full of iguanas-one was clearly in charge and rushed at a smaller one who tried to get near 'his' branch.  A pair of birds that did their mating dance in front of us.  Dozens of moneys, some just hanging in the trees, a small troop that was on the 'money highway' where we followed their progress by the shaking branches, and a small family group with baby clinging to mother.  One of the monkey troops lead us to the biggest siting of the day-the pygmy owl, just sitting on a branch in perfect view, he never even hopped off.  Mo Jr. said this is only the second time in his 40 yrs, so I feel pretty special to have been there.  He spoke so quickly when he spotted it that I had no idea what type of animal a 'pig meow' was, heh!


monkeys in the center

pygmy owl

On to the best animal-the pink river dolphin!
There is a spot where a decade ago two girls started luring the local dolphins with food.  It is just a dock off the river, but there are ~20 that show up regularly.  It's regulated so the dolphins don't get too fat, but they are wild, no cages.  I think that is pretty awesome.

  So we got to go and hang out with them, you could even touch them if you wanted.

Okay, so the problem is that they are hard to catch on camera.

no really....sigh!
If you really want to see dolphins, wait for my post about my bike trip on the California coast....

Another great side trip was to a local village.
We bought a couple of the handicrafts, but the highlight was soccer!  Boat folks vs. village kids, one game that was more hard core (more mud over everyone) and one with the pick-up players.  I have no idea who won the matches but everyone had a great time.

They played until the sun went down and then all the muddy ones jumped into the river to clean up

On the final day we traveled downstream under the bridge


The local coast guard was on top of everything-we got stopped to have our papers checked and then another group stopped us again.  I'm thinking they are on high alert for the World Cup.

On to the actual Amazon!  The meeting of the waters is where the two rivers meet to become the official (Brazilian) Amazon
The one river is slow and full of silt, the other is colder, faster and clearer.

They run side by side for a mile or more

taking their own sweet time to mix it up to become the Amazon.
And sadly the end of our cruise-I'm thinking next time it will have to be near the gulf where it dumps into the ocean!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Angel Island bike camping, Aug 2014

August 2014

Angel Island is right in the middle of the SF Bay and is a great day out.  If you want to stay overnight you have to camp, so we did it with our bikes. 
Angel Island is the tallest island in the bay.

 Ferries leave from all sides of the bay and it is a popular tourist destination since the bike rental companies tell everyone to do it.
There are only a couple ferries a day so we ate at the Ferry Building, but then left from Pier 39.  Had to stop and see the sea lions first.

 Also, this topographical map of the bay is on the pier.

Bye-bye to SF

On the island we found our camp site

Had to take a fire road to get there so a mountain bike or hybrid is better than a road bike.  But the views were so worth it!

We then hiked to the top of the island where you get an amazing 360 view of the bay

We used the amazing JetBoil to make some adequate dinner and had a good nights sleep.  The island gets pretty cold at night with the constant wind off the bay, but we were on the more sheltered side and did great.

Standard morning fog layer

We could have taken the tram tour or even visited some of the historic building-it is the Ellis Island of the West-but instead we sat at the dock-side cafe and ate tacos and drank Sangria.  Good times!

This was the trip where the train up was filled with Giants fans going to a game and on the way back it was filled with Giants fans just getting out of a game.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family cabin Aug 2014

August 2014

Family time at the cabin-starts with a great view!

The kiddie pool entertained pretty much everyone

Gotta love the nekid baby photos

Thanks for filling the pool!

We had to extract this nest from the ladder.

It's the right time of year for the wild peas to bloom.

 Gotta take a trip to the soda spring for mineral bubbly water

I've never noticed the interesting roof before...

Oh that lovely mineral/sulphurous/bubbly water.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orchids and bromeliads, awesome plants on an Amazon Cruise

Amazon Cruise, June 2014

The most surprising find to me were the orchids.

I knew that orchids come from the jungle...but yeah, didn't expect we would actually see them. In the rainy season they are easier to spot. This one above was not too hard.

But would you have noticed this one

from back here?

which really you have to spot from back here!  Our crew were great-I am always so impressed with naturalists-they have to be able to spot the interesting thing in a sea of details. Then be able to point it out to the tourists (see the branch going left about half way up the tree?  Now look out at the end of the branch and up a little....)

huh, in there is the purple orchid.

Yup, that's a bird nest.  Complete with eggs! (yes, not a plant, but we saw it on the same trip with the orchids...)

This nut is a relative of brazil nuts, though these are not edible, but it is fun to pull out the parts like a puzzle and put back together. 

when the nut has fallen out.  These are one of the only trees that can handle being under water for months at a time so they are plentiful on the banks.

Bromeliads grow opportunistically in crevices of trees

They are so funky looking I just kept snapping photos

Crazy busy flowers

Did I mention it was the rainy season?

Our crew also found the giant water lilies that are famous here in the Amazon.  They are harder to find in the rainy season because the stem is anchored in the mud and only goes about 6 ft up.  The flowers start white, capture insects, turn pink, and die after 3 days

All the near ones are disintegrating while the good looking ones are in the back.  Here is a better picture from our previous cruise.

And don't forget the awesome bananas!