Friday, December 31, 2010

Dec 31st 2010 Birthday Swim

December 31st ... 5:30 AM ... swimming in 29 degree weather ... what were we thinking :-) ? Well, it turns out Friday's are usually the biggest turnout of the week for the Cactus Pool Sun Devil Masters swim team as we do lap swimming and water polo. This morning was no different ... we had 10 people playing water polo in the diving well and about 15 people doing lap swimming on the 50 meter course ... but it HAD to be the coldest day of the year. It was good fun though and I would take 29 degree weather without wind over a 40 degree day with 20 mph winds (like we had earlier this week) any time! Still ... it was way cold getting from the comfortable 82 degree water into the locker room for a warm shower and change of clothes. Afterwards we did our normal Friday morning bagel meeting at the local Einstein's.

The accompanying photos show some folks in the water for lap swimming and our big table at Einstein's where we often solve all the world's problems over bagels. Those problems we don't solve we save till the following week :-)

The photo of the pool does not show the full effect of the fog hanging over the pool on cold dry mornings. Especially in the diving well where we were playing polo ... with all the churning of the water there is quite a bit more fog and you cannot see more than 15 yards when you are at water level ... this made passing the ball in water polo a little more difficult than normal. There were more than a couple passes that either went by or hit the receiver in the head before they saw the ball.

It made it extra nice that it was my birthday and I could celebrate it with good friends.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Dec 21st Lunar Eclipse Swim

The big lunar eclipse swim workout is coming up on the morning of December 21st!!! Woo Hoo! Should be plenty of fun and certainly something to remember ... like "what were we thinking?" :-)

We are not sure how many will attend the workout but it will be at the ASU competition pool from 12:30AM to 1:40AM ... and all backstroke so we can watch the lunar eclipse. We have plenty of people saying "I'll be there" but this is in the middle of the night and swimmers tend to fall asleep at 9:30PM.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

2010 Thanksgiving & 35th Reunion

Fran and I traveled to Schenectady, NY for the Thanksgiving Holiday to visit my sister Bonnie, her husband Charlie and my Mom visiting from Florida. It worked out to be a wonderful five days of visiting family and attending my 35th high school reunion. We dreaded leaving on Wednesday the 25th the day before Thanksgiving but ... it turned out to be not so bad. By the time we left Phoenix in the afternoon the crowds had thinned and we had clear sailing through Vegas and then into Albany.

We arrived in Albany airport at about 12:30AM and given the late hour the potential for significant delays due to weather and or the threatened slow down because of people opting out of x-ray screening we asked that no one pick us up at the airport and we rented a car and stayed at a hotel near the airport. That turned out to be a good choice as the first night’s sleep after travel … especially late night travel is the worst. Bonnie, Mom and Charlie and Fran and I all got to get a good night’s sleep.

Charlie was even able to get in a bike ride before we got to their house late morning.

In early afternoon Charlie and I were able to Skype with his son Kyle in the Ukraine. Kyle is in the Peace Corp and is teaching journalism in a high school. One of the things he brought up that he is most proud about is the starting of a school newspaper that his journalism students will take over when he leaves at the beginning of 2012. His cycle is about three months later than Julie’s as she is scheduled to leave the Peace Corp at the end of November, 2011.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Bonnie and Charlie’s was quite good and Mary (Charlie’s Mom) joined Bonnie, Charlie, Mom, Fran and Dave for the meal. It was so nice to have such a nice meal (and I should talk) all prepared for us the only downside was we had no leftovers :-(

Friday the 26th we had lunch with Fran’s sister Laurel at the Chile’s restaurant on route 7. We had quite a nice lunch and afterwards we went to the Rotterdam Mall where Fran and Laurel went shopping. Before saying goodbye we stopped back to her apartment on Union Street and she gave a quick tour of her apartment and her collections.

Funny note about the stop in Rotterdam Mall when I left Fran and Laurel at the women’s department I turned the corner and came face to face with Jackie Matson. We had not seen each other in over 20 years so it was a little shock to both of us but became a funny little conversation piece at the reunion dinner the next night.

Saturday the 27th Fran and I met her cousin Kathy for breakfast at the Route 20 Western Gateway Diner near the Cross Gates mall near Colonie Center. We had a great time catching up on Kathy’s family and sharing the stories of our family.

When we returned from breakfast Charlie, Fran and Dave took a 3 mile hike into Thatcher Park from the trail head near Charlie and Bonnie’s home. The trail leads out to the launch point for gliders as they jump off a cliff and catch the updrafts coming from the valley below. Fran took the lead on the way in and the way out … her long legs coupled with her strength training this past year has left her quite strong and she got Charlie and I winded from the quick pace.

The Saturday evening was the big reunion in Scotia at the “River Stone Manor”. The RSM is quite the nice place for weddings and events.

About 115 people attended the 35th reunion and time flew by as Fran and I had a wonderful meal and sat with friends of mine from many years ago. Jackie Matson, Joan Horgan, and Sue Small sat with us along with Mike Boyarski and his wife Kim, and Bob Massaroni.

I met up with George Alper at the reunion and he is so much the same as when I saw him 25 years before. We talked about his teaching days in Awautukee in the late 90s and early 00’s and the trouble he got in with the local school board when he donated money and got a significant value of Microsoft software donated.

His latest gig is rallying the roofing repair community in the Phoenix Valley to refurbish homes in the valley that were damaged by hail storms earlier this year. Apparently there is $2B worth of insurance checks that have been written but not enough contractors to go after the money. Anyway, George is leading an effort to take on some of that work.

Al Chris is also in the Phoenix area and has been for close to 30 years and is involved with Arabian horse breeding and training. I said I would try to connect with both Al and George in the coming months.

I got to sit next to Joan Horgan at the Reunion dinner. We were able to talk about our families and up to present times. We did not have enough time to talk but it was nice sitting next to her as it brought back many memories of when our families used to do things together.

We were quite saddened to hear of the deaths of many people (22 from class of ’75 listed) we had lost touch with over the last 25 years including Tom Butch who died six years ago in a terrible accident with an asphalt truck that lost its breaks and toppled onto his car. Another surprise was Tim Easley who jumped to his death just two weeks before from the cliffs of Thatcher Park.

Sunday the 28th we had breakfast at “The Home Front” in Altamont and we learned a great deal about WWII from the owner who spent a lot of time with us going over the history of her restaurant. The owner has become quite involved in making sure the stories of WWII veterans are not lost so she participates in many events honoring them. She mentioned that a number of Medal of Honor winners have come to her place for breakfast. Tim Russert even stopped in after attending a wedding in Altamont one day and they had a long conversation. She was quite happy to be in the audience of a formal dinner where Russert was a speaker and he talked of several themes and points of view that she had expressed in their conversation at her restaurant. Charlie eats breakfast there most Wednesday mornings on his day off. He said he often spends an hour or more there reading up on materials.

After breakfast we took the long way home going out Route 156 from Altamont and stopped at the “Indian Ladder Farms” country store. This country store was quite well stocked with fall and Christmas items and would be a great place to visit during apple harvest season.

In the afternoon Fran and Dave took a walk to Thompson’s Lake … round trip about 4 ½ miles. I love this lake having spent many weeks over many summers at the camp grounds swimming and playing softball. Funny how big that field seemed when we were playing as kids … to hit a ball to the outfield woods was a “monster” hit.

The NCIS marathon was on most of Sunday … at first I only watched an episode because everyone else was but after the second episode I ended up watching a total of four J this NCIS is quite good!

In the evening Charlie and Dave went to the local tavern to buy pizzas and have a beer then brought the pizza home for dinner with Fran and Mom. It is pretty quiet up in East Berne and the time we spent at the tavern was nice and relaxing!

Monday morning we had breakfast with Fran's aunt Annie and her brother Dave. I had not seen Fran’s Aunt Annie in about six years so it was quite nice for me to see Annie again and join her for breakfast at Oliver’s Café on Route 50. Fran had called her brother David and he joined us at the café. Annie may be turning 90 in January but she is quick as a whip and we had such a wonderful conversation about our respective families.

There was an expression written on the wall over the Oliver counter and went something like “Appreciation left unexpressed is like a gift unopened”. I thought the expression quite nice and I may not have captured it exactly right but it gets the point across. The Blueberry pancakes at Oliver’s were big hit.

After breakfast, Fran and I went to Annie’s and visited for a while looking at old family photos and Stan’s WRGB treasure book containing personal stories from many of the employees celebrating their 75th anniversary as a TV station. Interestingly, the WRGB initials are from one of the early leaders of the station … I knew radio stations started with “W” east of the Mississippi and “K” to the west. I wonder if the W in “Walter” led to this designation for all eastern radio and TV stations? Another little tidbit I picked up in the 75th anniversary book was that a GE scientist had the world’s firsts broadcast TV from his home to four executives … his work later turned into WRGB.

Just before departing from Albany we (Fran & Dave) had lunch with Bonnie and Mom at Macaroni Grill. I love Macaroni Grill and in addition to enjoying the food we spent lots of time musing about Mom’s favorite show NCIS and their characters. Everyone agreed the Mossad character brings quite an edge to the show. I was not quite into this show before arriving in Altamont but after watching a few episodes and listening to Mom’s enthusiasm I think I’ll start watching it J

Saturday, October 09, 2010

4th annual "Hour of Power" is in the record books!

Arizona masters swimmers complete 1500 yard fly set.

Scottsdale, AZ, October 9.

Submitted by Swimming World Intern: Pole Boy

It was a beautiful fall morning at the Cactus Pool Aquatic center in Scottsdale, Arizona. At 7:00am a small group of swimmers arrived at the outdoor pool with the pleasant morning temps in the mid 60's. Water temp was estimated to be about 83 degrees.

This was no ordinary Saturday morning workout for this small band of renegades as they prepared for the fifth annual "Hour of Power" swim. The only question in everyone's mind was, "will I be able to complete the swim this year".

At 7:16 after the group had completed a light warm-up, the "Hour of Power" began.

It might be helpful to explain what the "Hour of Power" is. It is a pretty simple single set that takes exactly one hour to complete.

60 x 25yds Fly on a 1:00 interval...and each 25 is a no breather.

After each group of 10 swims, one of the participants jumps up on the blocks to sing their college, high school, or elementary school fight song before the group begins the next swim. Since 4 or 5 of the 7 swimmers participating in this year's event were in their mid 50's remembering a school fight song is sometimes a big challenge as well. One swimmer who grew up in Illinois could only remember the fight song for the Chicago Bears so he sang that.

The singing and banter that takes place between each swim is an important part of the tradition and a good laugh enjoyed by the group can have a negative impact on a person's oxygen debt going into the next swim.

Another tradition for the Hour of Power is that most of the swimmers who participate prefer to go by their nick names such as Bo-Peep, 612, Booze Bo, Dave Bo, Rico Suave, or The King. This reporter was not able to determine the real names of any of the swimmers in this year's event.

After the completion of the Hour of Power, by all 7 swimmers who started the set, a few of the participants decided to top off the workout with a 50 underwater swim.

Then it was time for handshakes all around, a quick shave and a shower, then off on their separate ways for another beautiful Arizona weekend.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Oct 2 2010 San Diego and Miramar Air Show Visit

Fran and I made a really short 36 hour visit to San Diego over the weekend ... it may not seem long but it gave a us a tastes of several things that left us wanting to go back for more!

I had met a stunt pilot in the past year and in our conversations he mentioned that if I was interested he would get me invited to a tent along the runway at the Miramar Airshow. I told him "Of course" I was interested not believing that it would actually happen. But low and behold about a month ago I got an email asking if I was still interested and next thing I knew I had tickets allowing us to sit close enough to the runway to feel the heat from the pyrotechnics they set off on the runways.

We took the first flight over on Saturday and drove right to the airfield. Fran was gracious but airshows are not her favorite thing to do (she went with me in Dayton too in 1994) and she held up well in the hot sunny conditions. We got to see the Blue Angels, a F-22 Raptor (very very cool), the Canadian Precision Flying team and many many other aircraft, helicopters and tanks. The Marines at Miramar are VERY proud of their toys (oops I mean equipment).

After the airshow we went home for a quick shower and a short nap then walked over to 5th Avenue where we had a choice of many wonderful looking restaurants. Fran took a chance and used "Hotwire" to get us a hotel room for a very reasonable rate in downtown San Diego. The Indigo Hotel is one block north of PetCo Park and is located on the 500 block of 9th Avenue. It is quite a modern hotel (2 years old) and with a good view of the baseball field and easy walking distance of everything in the Gaslamp District.

We had walked quite a bit at the airshow so we just walked over for dinner and had a nice meal at a sidewalk cafe. It was quite an amazing people watching experience sitting there eating dinner ... young and old, every color and race you could imagine, from the incredibly dressed up to the very casual, and from lots of clothing to ... not much clothing.

The next morning we took a walk along the Bay past the convention center along the walking path. After a few photos we had breakfast overlooking the harbor filled up with some pretty impressive boats ... even a few with addresses from Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

50th Anniversary Celebration

We had a 50th anniversary celebration of our church's founding today. Paradise Valley United Methodist Church has a beautiful campus on the East side of Camelback mountain. 50 years ago it was not much ... just a patch in the desert but today it sits on a few acres off Lincoln Boulevard and is quite picturesque. Our church has such a wonderful mission statement: "Creating Community in a Diverse World by Manifesting God's Love Through Action" ... and today was all about community. Lots of music and food all in a 50's theme. While most of our community building is outside of the church walls today was an opportunity to celebrate within our church community. In this picture Fran is wearing her poodle skirt and just about to set off dancing with her friend Karen to 50's music. Jim and I wisely moved to the side as the girls danced something that looked like the Boogie.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

August 26-30 2010 Visit to WDC

Fran and I went to visit Matt and Jessica in Washington DC in late August. We'll get to see Matt at Christmas time but this was our last time to see Jessica before their wedding on January 8th.

WDC is my all time favorite city and with Jessica's undergraduate degree in history and Matt's interest in history we made really good travel mates! In our short time there we were able to visit multiple historical sites and museums and restaurants. It was a very nice way for us to spend time with each other while learning quite a bit as well.

This photo of the four of us is from the back porch of George Washington's home in Mount Vernon overlooking the Potomac River. The home is in beautiful condition and is meticulously maintained. As we walked the home and the grounds you could get the sense of what life was like 200+ years ago.

The large front lawn (bowling green) is quite spectacular and Matt and Jessica are shown looking across the green towards the mansion. Below we are looking across the back lawn over the Potomac River. This must have been quite a sight and the home and location are a testimony to Washington's wealth and influence in the pre-revolutionary era.

After Mount Vernon we went to President Teddy Roosevelt's monument and then out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Potomac adjacent to the Kennedy Center.

The restaurant setting is quite nice and people are able to bring their boats right up to the pier ... a valet will dock their boats and they can step out for a very nice dinner. Unfortunately ... we forgot our dinner cruise boat and had to use the pedestrian mode of travel :-)

On Sunday Matt and I worked out at his LA Fitness ... that is about two times the size of any gym I have every seen! It was so well done ... but hardly anyone was there ... so Matt and I played some basketball and I was going to challenge him to a game of hoops till he hit about five in a row from five feet past the outer arc ... then I decided I would be better off challenging him to swimming :-)

After the workout we went to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Extension at Dulles airport. I love this stuff! We saw many things including the Space Shuttle, the F-35 JSF that I helped Honeywell win some sub-systems on, the Concorde, the Blackbird, the F14 and many others. I even stopped and bought a book on the F14 signed by a Top Gun instructor and had it addressed to "Fly-Bo" as a gift to one of my swim friends. After the Smithsonian we went to the American History museum where we primarily focused on the dresses worn by the presidents wives and again on George Washington. Turns out this statue of George dedicated in 1832 was a little scandalous with his bare chest and elevating him to almost deity status ... they thought a lot of him back then! His left hand holds out a sword to the citizens signifying one of the most momentous events in the history of democracy ... a leader who almost single handedly kept our 13 colonies together and fought off the British during the revolution was giving up his leadership so that a country of the people could move on through democratic principles. Pretty inspiring symbolism.

On Monday Matt had to get back to work and Jessica started up her final year of school at Georgetown Law so Fran and I were on our own until the Supershuttle was to pick us up for the trip to Baltimore airport. While we were waiting I wanted to make a visit to the George Washington monument right near Matt and Jessica's apartment. George Washington along with many of our presidents was a member of an organization called "Masons" and as its most prominent member the erected a wonderful monument to him overlooking WDC. There is a lot of mystery about the Masons and a lot of myth but in my own experience I have found them to be quite a benevolent faith based organization (think Shriners Hospital for Children) who have done much good for our country over the last 250 years. Anyway, the monument is quite a national treasure but I suspect a little unknown by most people. If you have the chance I would definitely recommend a visit and learn about how Freemasonry has contributed to our country.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 27 2010: It is with our faces

It is with our faces that we face the world … and it is by our faces that we can be recognized as individuals. Oooo … heavy stuff to read on a plane trip to WDC!

I had picked up a copy of the New Yorker to read on the plane to WDC on our visit to see Matt and his fiancée Jessica and came across the article “Face – Blind”. It was written by an aging neurologist who had come to terms with his inability to recognize faces or places. It was (and is) a life long issue that he has dealt with personally and in his practice. Over the years it has gradually become known as not a psychological issue but a neurological issue and predominantly genetic in origin although trauma can also induce change to the brain. The medical term is “prosopagnosia” for not recognizing faces. Visual agnosia is the term for not being able to recognize faces or their emotions. Topographical agnosia is the term for not being able to recognize locations or routes taken or even your house if you are walking by it. Virtually all people with prosopagnosia have damage to an area called “fusiform gyrus” in the form of lesions that are identifiable via MRI and CT scan.

People with prosopagnosia need to be resourceful and inventive in finding strategies for circumventing their deficits. Identifying particular traits such as; walking or gait, beard or moustache, glasses, voice are typical. Context is particularly important. Have you ever come across someone you knew but the context was totally outside of where you would expect to see them? Do you recognize someone because of the child they are with or the dog they walk but would not recognize them without the other associations?

Facial recognition in babies starts shortly after birth and by six months babies are able to recognize a variety of individual faces. From three to nine months babies learn to narrow their model of “faces” to those they are frequently exposed to. You may be able to relate to this … if your “model” of faces you recognize is Caucasian … Asian or Indian faces may, relatively speaking, tend to “look all the same”. The implications to me are that even though our “face cells” are present at birth they need lots of training and experience to fully develop to be able to recognize all of humanity.

This is a long way around to my own experience with growing a beard and then seven years later shaving it off and noticing the responses of those around me. I had all these observations but no framework of understanding to help me articulate what I was observing. When I first grew the beard in 2002 I was training for a marathon and it just seemed like something I wanted to try. I had a moustache for many years but a full beard was something I wanted to try. After growing the beard I noticed my sense of personal space that people felt comfortable affording me grew larger and more people would call me by name. Throughout the seven years of having the beard it seemed that people could recognize me more easily. The really interesting observations came after I shaved the beard off … some did not miss a beat in interacting with me and said “something is different” but they could not identify right away that it was the beard that was missing. What really stunned me were the people who saw me immediately after shaving and did not even know me until I spoke!

After reading Oliver Sacks article in the New Yorker I now understand some of the underlying issues behind the profound differences in facial recognition from the people who never seem to forget a face to the ones that go through life struggling to remember any face or place.

From a social justice perspective where entire classes of people are held as less than fully human because of their color or race I have come to know that fear and insecurity of the unknown is a big component of nativism, insularity and bigotry. Training our face cells of the model of diversity throughout life may be a component of humanity coming to terms with the fact that we are all one family.

Additional links: www.newyorker/com/go/outloud Oliver Sacks blog

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Royal Palms Hotel, Baseball & Fran's Birthday

Did you ever think that maybe buying a pair of tickets to see the Diamondback's versus St Louis Cardinals for your wife's birthday would be a good thing? I don't know what got into me ... I split seasons tickets with a few other guys and when I selected June 13th as one of the game dates I figured that she would would be good with it. Turns out ... not so much.

Fortunately, a group that I volunteer my time with had a board meeting on the Friday and Saturday prior to her birthday Sunday the 13th. AND the organization was contacted by the Royal Palms Hotel who gave a great group rate if we would hold our annual meeting at the hotel AND the hotel offered any of the board members the same rate if they decided to spend a second night. I went from being considered a little less than romantic ... to a hero in a little less than a couple days when I asked Fran to join me at the hotel and that we would spend her birthday at the hotel and eat dinner at the 4 star restaurant T Cooks on Saturday night.

It worked out so great. We were able to spend Saturday relaxing, reading and had a great dinner at T Cooks. Sunday morning we lounged by the pool and had a very nice buffet breakfast at poolside before heading out to the ball game.

P.S Diamondbacks won with a walk-off home run with two outs in the 9th inning.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

McDowell Mountain Hike on May 30 2010

The McDowell Mountain Regional Park is 20 miles east of our house and offers many miles of hiking, riding, and biking trails from beginner to expert. It contains several competition level off road biking courses for the advanced rider. It is a pretty cool place but we rarely go there. So today we thought it would be a good time to check out one of the hiking trails. There is a brand new welcome center inside the main gate with very helpful volunteers staffing the gift shop. At the volunteer's recommendation we hiked the easy 3.7 mile "Scenic Trail" that gave views to the 4 Peaks mountain range, the Superstition Mountain range with "Flatiron" and "Weavers Needle" as well as the McDowell Mountains. We also saw many beautiful Saguaro cactus plants that must have been up to 30 feet tall.

Picture 1: Fran with 30 foot Saguaro. There were many flowering cacti in the preserve.

Picture 2: Huge Saguaro with six symmetrical arms and retirement community of Rio Verde in the background

Picture 3: "4 Peaks" in the distance at about 50 miles. Roosevelt Dam is behind 4 Peaks and provides water to Phoenix.

Picture 4: Superstition Mountain at about 30 miles showing Weaver's Needle on the left and "Flatiron" on the right. Charlie Adams and I climbed to the top of Flatiron a couple years ago and had lunch at the top of the 5,000 foot mountain at the edge of the 1,000 foot cliff.

Picture 5" Fran with McDowell Mountains behind her

Picture 6: Fran with parking lot and trailhead behind her

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nicaragua Vacation May 9-18 2010 Itinerary

We had a wonderful week long vacation in Nicaragua to visit our daughter Julie this year. She is in the Peace Corp serving in a little village called Le Paz Centro ... LPC for short. LPC is about 30 miles south of Leon the next major city. I won't put a lot of photos or details on the posting and will use it to outline our trip and put several photos that highlight some of the more meaningful parts of our visit. Fran and I will do a few more postings, in addition to his one, to show more photos and tell about a few of our more interesting happenings like when Fran was about to throw herself out of the taxi ...

May 9: Sunday
  • We left Phoenix on a 7:30AM American Airlines flight, had a four hour layover in Miami and arrived in Managua around 7:20PM local time. All together about 13 hours travel time. Julie picked us up at the airport and we stayed the night at the Best Western (BW) across the street.
May 10: Monday
  • We took a BW taxi from the BW to LPC and arrived in LPC around 10:30AM Monday morning. We had lunch at Julie's apartment and travelled by Moto-Taxi and school bus to a nearby Laguna. This is a very peaceful place that Julie loves and serves as her place to get away.
  • That evening we met "Oneida" Julie's teacher counterpart in the local LPC school and her duania "Marvin" who is a grandmother figure to a number of people in the village as well as being Julie's landlord.
ay 11: Tuesday
  • Julie and I got in a run around the local baseball field from 7-8AM
  • We travelled to Leon by Taxi and wandered Leon's open air market before having lunch at the "Convento" a beautiful converted seminary that now serves as a hotel and restaurant
  • After lunch we had desert at Julie's favorite "Skype" and internet location ... a cute little cafe called "Las Rosita"
  • We took a taxi back to LPC with a driver who loved practicing his english with us and then went to a German class that Julie attends taught by a young German guy serving at a women's support facility. The facility is supported by German volunteers and donations.
May 12: Wednesday
  • We attended Julie's school in LPC from 7-11AM seeing Julie and Oneida in action with a 7th grade class and an 8th grade class.
  • In the PM Fran and Julie ran errands for the party that evening
  • From 4-7PM we had a wonderful party with Julie's youth group and capped the evening with a Pinata
May 13: Thursday
  • We took a taxi from LPC to Managua and rented a car for the next five days
  • Took a ferry to the island of Ometepe
  • Checked in at Finca Venicia ... coincidently the same room Julie stayed in during a Peace Corp outing there earlier in the year
May 14: Friday
  • Walked to Charco Verde next to hotel Finca and spent time at their Laguna
  • We drove out out to a beautiful restaurant hotel called Villa Paraiso and had a great lunch overlooking a sandy beach
  • After lunch we went to Ajo del Agua a fresh water swimming pool fed by mountain streams. The upper pool was about 25 meters and the lower pool about 25 meters long
  • That evening we had dinner at the Charco Verde restaurant and walked on the beach to look at the stars
May 15: Saturday
  • Breakfast at Finca Venicia
  • Tour to Vulcan Maderas where we climbed to the "La Cascada" a 500 foot waterfall coming off the volcano and then on the return stopped at the Hotel Central an ecologically themed park "Albergue Ecologico El Porvenir" to look at petroglyphs left by ancient civilizations from over 1000 years ago
  • A mid-afternoon lunch - dinner at Hotel Villa Paraiso ... our tour guide Eric Henriquez (very good tour guide with excellent self-taught english) gets comped for lunch if he brings his tours there.
  • Evening dinner at Finca
May 16: Sunday
  • Left Finca Venecia amd the island of Ometepe after breakfast and drove to the beautiful beaches of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast
  • Had lunch overlooking SJDS beach and cove
  • Visited Carla ... one of Julie's best friends in the Peace Corp at the home of her host family
  • Visited Julie's first host family in St Teresa. Julie spent three months with this family from Oct-Dec 2009 during PCV training
  • Drove to Posada Ecologica reserve to a most beautiful Laguna and stayed at the "La Abuela"
May 17: Monday
  • After a great breakfast overlooking the Laguna Julie and I jumped off the dock went swimming for over an hour in the crystal clear waters
  • After lunch and saying our goodbye's to the very sweet woman that owned the hotel we left the Abuela and travelled to Vulcan Masaya the most active volcano in Central America
  • Then back to the Best Western for our final night in Nicaragua
May 18: Tuesday
  • Our 7:20AM flight was delayed by a couple hours so we were able to check in to the airport and then cross back to the BW for a great breakfast buffet with Julie before heading out back to Phoenix arriving home around 7:30PM