Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer night, warm sky, and minor league baseball.  What is more American than enjoying a baseball game on a warm summer night.  The crowd is energetic and the players are playing to show that they are destined for the major league.  America's past time.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Celebrate America July 2014

On July 12, 2014, I had the opportunity to sing on "Liberty Island" with a group of fellow barbershop singers.  The National Park service rangers were extremely welcoming and visitors to the island welcomed us with open arms.  It was a real treat to join this group, sharing patriotic songs so close to celebrating our countries birthday.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lawrence, MA Everett and Stone Mills

Taking a step back in time, I had the opportunity to join Bob Lussier and Steve Perlmutter along with seven other photographers to visit and photograph the Stone Mill (1845) and the Everett Mill(1909) in Lawrence, MA.  The Everett Mill was once a bustling cotton mill housing 4,728 looms operated by 2,100 employees of whom 50% were female.  These mills now have many vacant floors that provide in insight into history. Walking through the mill buildings one gets a sense of that history viewing the worn, tattered and no longer used areas of the buildings.

The Everett Mill 6th floor is expansive and empty. However, if you close your eyes and listen you can bring yourself back in time to when the looms were hard at work being tended by the many employees to create some of the finest cotton fabric in the world. The stain and battered window shades provide and eerie lighting to this enormous room.

The 5th floor of the Everett Mill was a stark white with only this emergency door providing some color to the again well worn work area.

The attic of the Stone Mill again provides a peek into history.  The Stone Mill was used as a machine shop, housing a forge and foundry for the Everett Mill.  However, at one time this area housed an experimental worsted wool machinery testing and leading to the eventual production of the popular worsted wool. 

These photos once again taken in the attic area of the Stone Mill display the basically lit areas of the work space.  Many individuals toiled to make their living in these spaces. 

This photo shows a sealed door which led to an enclosed walkway from the Stone Mill to the Everett Mill.  The only remaining portion of this walkway are the steel beams which still find their way across the courtyard. 

 The Stone Mill was built entirely from stone. This is the only mill in the city, which houses many mills from the era, which is built in this style. The slate room provides protection from the elements but also heat in the summer for the many floors.
Sixth floor of the Everett Mill. 

4TH floor entrance in the Everett Mill. 

Stairway on one end of the Everett Mil.  A unique design that added some architectural character to the building. 

One of the many pressure valves that can be found in the mills which were originally powered by water from the man made canal which provided water from the Merrimack River. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

OAT Costa Rica/ December 2014

Costa Rica
Visiting the most "environmentally friendly" place in the world was a true pleasure. From December 12 though December 24, Bette, Adam and I, visited beautiful Costa Rica.  Traveling once again with our favorite, Overseas Adventure Travel, we flew
first to Miami, Fl., and then our next flight took us to San Jose, Costa Rica. San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is a small metropolitan city compared to large U.S. cities but very cosmopolitan. The charm of the city was reflected in the beautifully restored National Theater. We then visited a local Saturday market viewing many different types
of fruits and vegetables that are not local to our home. Sampling some of these fresh fruits grown locally was a sweet pleasure.

Our next stop, as we drove through the Valley to Alajuela, was the Doka Estate, a 100 year old coffee plantation.  We toured the plantation learning about the production of some of the worlds best coffee beans.  After a great lunch we were off to the Ara Ambigua lodge  outside the town of La Virgen.  Settling in for the night we were lulled to sleep by the songs of birds and the gentle rain.

December 14, 2014  An early morning wake-up to join our guide, David Sanchez, for a walk around the grounds in order to see some of the natural wild life, David proved to have an excellent knowledge of the wildlife and natural fauna of the area.
Our first order of business for the day, after breakfast, was a white water rafting adventure on the Rio Sarapiqui.  These are Class I and II rapids, so fairly tame in the bigger picture. The sun broke through the clouds and we enjoyed the view of many different types of birds and several "howler monkeys".  After an exciting and enjoyable wet ride we had lunch at a local restaurant.

We also had the opportunity to visit with Johnny Sanchez, a local potter, who still keeps the art of clay pottery alive, continuing to use a simple wheel, hand powered to make some beautiful and creative pottery.

 Evening dinner at the lodge and then back to Tirimbina Biological Reserve for an informative lecture discussing bats and their place in the natural order of the environment.

Wing span of the bat. 
Learning about the life of the bat and the different types of bats was extremely interesting.  The local scientists had humanely caught several bats that they shared with us.  It was quite interesting. A good nights sleep and another travel day ahead.

December 15, 2014: Today started back at Tirimbina Biological Reserve, for another nature walk to take in the natural beauty of the area and to see if we could spot some unique animals. We also had our first opportunity to cross a suspension bridge, over the Rio Sarapiqui. 
Bette, crossing suspension bridge. 
It was here that we had to first opportunity to view our first "sloth". These mammals that are entirely vegetarians snack all day on leaves.  The are exceptionally slow and move in slow motion. They are sometimes hard to see as they blend into the trees as their natural coloration
Three toed sloth. 
provides a beautiful camouflage.

After lunch we leave for our next lodge in Chachugua, Costa Rica. Bosques De Chachagua. http://chachaguarainforesthotel.com/activities/

December 16, 2014:
Today we are going to experience, "a day in the life" of a Costa Rican village. But, before this I wake early in the morning, 5:15 am to take a walk with our guide, David, in order to see any possible sightings of unusual birds or animals. The Bosques De Chachagua, is beautiful, however, once again we are dealing with rain and now some humidity.  However, as David and I are the only early risers we venture out among the wooded trails.  After walking for over an hour, we returned for a hot shower and a pleasant breakfast.  Breakfast staples were rice and beans along with eggs and plantains.
After breakfast our first stop was at the local home of Rena, a cook from the Bosques De Chachagua, to visit her simple house and to have a cooking lesson. Rena, a gracious
Steve Satran prepares empanadas. 
woman, welcomed us to her home and opened it up for us to see simple, countryside living. Also present was her eleven year old son. Rena showed us how to prepare "empanadas",a cheese or meat filled dough. Anyone who wanted could help prepare the delicacies.
David Diaz and our hostess Rena. 

Iva Osburn and Melanie Satran cooking. 

Adam gets into the act. 

  Even though it was a Tuesday, Monday had been the last day of school for two months.  However, a special group of children had returned to visit with us and entertain us.

We were greeted and each led, by a wonderful child, to the gathering area of the school.  The children at this time entertained us with some of the local dances and explained their traditional costumes.  This school uses a "project based" curriculum teaching the children not only to read, write and do math but they also teach them how to be self-sustaining and to protect the environment through the growth of their own vegetables and farm raised tilapia.  The children were extremely proud of their school and just a delight to speak to.

School children greet us. 

School children demonstrating their traditional dress. 

Our next stop on this day was lunch with a local family. I had the opportunity to visit the family of the young girl hosting me at the school.  We arrived at her and were welcomed by her father, mother and older sister.  They lived in a simple home and provided many of the fruits and vegetables along with meat that their family needed to subsist.  Mom had made a wonderful lunch for us and we shared stories, in broken Spanish and English with the family discussing our family life and life back in the U.S.  We had the opportunity to meet Dad's father who was in his 80's and still doing some fine woodwork.  

After our lunch we returned to the lodge and had some free time during the rest of the afternoon.  Before dinner was served, David, gave us an opportunity to prepare and eat some  "bocas", Costa Rican appetizers.  We prepared, some fresh guacamole, tuna dip, fried taco chips, and several other bocas.  With the help of our excellent driver, Frank, (who was a great cook) we all enjoyed the food.  I also had the chance to do some dancing with Rena, a little merengue.

After a full day we settled early to bed.
December 17, 2014:
Our day today began with David giving us insight into the the very profitable pineapple business.  Many of the pineapples that are grown in Costa Rica are shipped overseas. He provided us with a clear understanding of the growing process and the knowledge that there was both enhanced growth and organic growth.  He also gave us some quick ways to identify a ripe and good pineapple. Bette was thrilled.           
Our next stop was the Organic, self-sustaining farm of Don Juan Bautista.  Don Juan had been a school teacher for many years and determined that he could enjoy both teaching and organic farming by starting this farm.  He provides a look at sustainable agriculture techniques and the process of growing sugar cane. Our very pleasant and funny guide provided us with a unique look at the life on this farm.

Fish pond. 

 We also had the opportunity to try some local "moonshine" and fresh squeezed sugar cane juice.

After lunch we headed to the town of La Fortuna which lies at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Surrounded by thermal spas and hot springs this was a beautiful location at the Los Lagos Resort and Spa  https://www.hotelloslagos.com/. Even though the volcano itself was shrouded in clouds for our two night stay.  Very early the day we left the sun appeared and the volcano peaked it head through the clouds.
Arenal Volcano.  Arenal’s most recent eruptive period began in 1968 with an explosion that buried three small villages and left 87 people dead. Up until July 2010, the eruptions had been constant, though much less severe—there were effusions of smoke and lava on an almost daily basis.

La Fortuna main plaza.
Originally called "El BurĂ­o", La Fortuna was founded in the mid 1930's by settlers that came from Ciudad QuesadaGrecia (canton)Alajuela and other parts of the region. In 1968, the Arenal Volcano erupted to the west, killing all in its path, including 82 people. The eruption did not touch the village of La Fortuna. This catastrophe, nonetheless, helped change the destiny of the whole region, making it one of the most visited touristic destinations of Costa Rica.

One of the interesting tours that we took was "The Source of Chocolate Tour."  We learned the process of making chocolate out of the cocoa plant and seed.
After some time enjoying the beautiful and warm waters of the hot springs at the hotel and a great dinner and night's sleep we woke to take on another adventure.  This morning we were going to cruise the Rio Frio River and have an opportunity to witness some of Costa Rica's famous natural beauty and wildlife.

During this trip we had an opportunity to see howler monkeys, Jesus Christ Lizard, Iguanas, Great White Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Bare Throated Tiger Heron.  We also had lunch on our boat at the Nicaraguan Border.

Our next destination after spending another night at the Los Lagos Resort was the province of Guanacaste.  Here we will be spending several days and nights at the Buena Vista Lodge.   http://www.buenavistalodgecr.com/
The Buena Vista Lodge lies in the primary forest of Rincon de la Vieja National Park. http://www.anywherecostarica.com/attractions/national-park/rincon-de-la-vieja This beautifully situated lodge is beautiful and peaceful.  After arriving in the later part of the day we gathered to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have had the opportunity to see.

Then next day we horseback rode into the park to the "hot springs" to relax. Here we had some fun with my son, Adam's, waterproof camera.

After the morning horseback ride, hot springs a great lunch we had the opportunity to go zip lining.  Along with our guide and fellow travelers Adam and I suited up and enjoyed the challenge. Our guide David also challenged us to ride upside down. Adam and I took the challenge.

Our small group of travelers who took on the zip line challenge. I even went upside down. A unique experience.

Adam, upside down zip lining.

Our next day would be spent taking the overland route to the Pacific Coast to the province of Puntarenas. Once we arrived we had the opportunity to go to Agujas Beach for an outrigger canoe excursion with the friendly guides from Jacko Kayak and Canoe.  http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g309271-d1234079-i35887556-Kayak_Jaco-Jaco_Province_of_Puntarenas.html

Again a wonderful experience with the paddling, snorkeling, and beautiful sunset.

 Adam and Bette enjoy the warm, relaxing water. 

Getting ready to snorkel. 

Pacific Ocean snorkeling. 

Puffer fish. 

Bette and I enjoy the begining of the sunset. 

Paddle partners. 

Paddling back to the beach. 

Pacific sunset. 

Jacko outriggers. 

After a restful night at our hotel the Villa Lapas Hotel http://www.villalapas.com/ we are going to spend the day hiking and swimming in Manuel Antonio National Park.  http://www.manuelantoniopark.com/mapk/default.asp

On our short hike to the beach we were able to see many different types of monkeys and wildlife, including Halloween Crab and Pit Viper snake, and a very docile deer.

 A lonely vulture sits awaiting his prey.

Pit viper along the trail. 

 A friendly deer along side the trail.uchin 

A sloth hangs in the tree. 

After a wonderful lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean we returned to the hotel for a relaxing night.  We would be moving the next morning to our next destination which was our last, San Jose, where we began our trip.  However, we would experience another boat excursion on the Rio Tarcoles, noted for his wildlife and especially the crocodiles.

 Lunch stop overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
 I ate the whole thing.

Rafael Tarrazas Restruant near Manuel Antonio National Park.

Taking a tour of the Rio Torcoles to see some more wildlife including the crocodiles.

After completing this tour we then headed for lunch and our final ride back to San Jose.  A final dinner with our group from Overseas Adventure Travel along with our guide David.  We also got an opportunity to meet David Diaz's beautiful wife Irene.  All in all we had a wonderful trip with many unique experiences.  Our thanks especially to David for allowing us into his life and the life of his country. Also thanks to our fellow travelers for making this a wonderful trip.

A few random group shots from our trip.
                                              Where is that bird?????

                                              Preparing for the rafting excursion.

                                                 Rafting buddies.

                                           David explaining some of the wildlife.

                                                    Marjie helping to prepare the clay.

                                               Our host lunch family.

                                               A refreshing drink.

                                                    Learning about the wild plants.

                                                          Carol and Bob learning about the horses.

                                                            Group photo.

                                                Carol, Bob, Melanie and Steve.

                                            Ride em cowboys and cowgirls.

                                                Craig and Claudio underwater.

                                             Bob successfully traverses one of the lines.

                                             Carol on her way to the end.

                                               Steve about to land.
                                               So where to now???

                                              A refreshing swim in the Pacific.

                                             Some beach yoga led by Shital.


                                             Lunch at Rafael Tarrazas, Manuel Antonio National Park.

                                           Our great guide David Diaz. I think we will adopt him.