We woke up the morning of the election terrified for the soul of the nation. We were depressed and disheartened. But, we had a teeny, tiny bit of hope. As the election returns slowly trickled in election night, and our stomachs twisted in knots, that hope was squashed like a bug on a windshield. As the days went by, and as mail-in votes were counted, that hope slowly unfurled and tentatively poked its head back out and looked around. And, finally, on a dreary Saturday morning, we heard the news we had been waiting for — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won! It was a time for ugly crying by me (tears of happiness and relief, releasing a level of stress I didn’t even know I was carrying) and laughing and catching up with like-minded friends and drinking bubbles. For a brief moment, we (and people all around the world) celebrated the end to a long national nightmare.Continue reading
So, when we moved to New Orleans, we knew hurricanes might be a problem. Little did we know a strong category two hurricane would blow through shortly after we arrived…Continue reading
Minneapolis in winter is cold and snowy and so very, very dark. As it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to leave the U.S. due to covid anytime soon, it also became clear we were going to have to find a place to spend the winter and that most definitely wasn’t in Minneapolis.
I know, I know, some of you are asking yourselves why we felt we couldn’t leave the U.S. when Mexico and a handful of other places are allowing in Americans. Hello? Remember the worldwide pandemic? Anyone? We recognize that we are on the extreme end of the spectrum, but we don’t feel like anyone should be traveling around the world (or even around the country) for fun during a pandemic (or eating indoors or visiting museums or going to bars or going to the movies or having family reunions, etc., etc.). Is that bad for the travel and hospitality industries? Yes, of course. You know what is even worse? Prolonging this virus because people won’t do what it takes to get the virus under control. And, when we read posts from stupid Americans specifically looking for places outside the U.S. where mask rules are not being enforced so they could vacation without being “inconvenienced” and posts from stupid Americans that refused to follow quarantine rules in places like the U.K., that pretty much sealed the deal for us. We had to find a place in the U.S.Continue reading
We’ve made our way out of Minnesota. Spending a winter in the dark, cold, snowy climate just so wasn’t in the cards for us. So, we found a realtor in New Orleans and booked ourselves an apartment for six months. More on that later. For the time being, here are some thoughts on our time in Minnesota.
So….we are complete covidphobes. We haven’t done anything fun other than take a walk since we arrived in the U.S. in March (our walks are the only thing preventing the covid 15 from turning into the covid 20). But, we took a baby step into the real world this week and visited Franconia Sculpture Park.
So . . . that is all for now folks . . . we are all out of travel stories. We’ve been stuck in the U.S. since March, first in rural Wisconsin and then in Minneapolis. And, in light of covid, we plan to stay in Minneapolis for the time being (at least until October….after that, who knows). And, in light of covid, we aren’t doing much of interest in Minneapolis — we still haven’t even been to a restaurant believe it or not.
As far as places to be stuck, Minneapolis isn’t half bad. Our apartment is reasonably comfortable and only two blocks from a Whole Foods (which, thankfully, enforces the mask rule). We can get curbside pick-up of pretty much everything we need (except Charmin). The city is full of walking paths and bike paths and parks, so we can take a walk nearly every day and still socially distance (although, we do tend to avoid walking on the weekends if the weather is nice as things get a bit too crowded then).
Oh Ecuador, we barely got to know you. Although we had planned to spend a full two months in Ecuador, our trip got cut short due to covid. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have thoughts. Because we always have thoughts. About just about everything. So, here goes.
Upon arrival in San Cristobal, we went from shop to shop looking for some sort of snorkeling tour we could do the next day. After talking to numerous places, it became clear that the 360 Tour was our best option because it involved the most snorkeling, even though our prior research had suggested it was a tour we might want to skip.
After five lovely days on Isabela Island, it was time to head to San Cristobal Island. We couldn’t take the teeny tiny plane, as we had too much luggage. So, it was back to the ferry for us. And, because when we planned our trip there were no ferries between Isabela and San Cristobal, that meant we had to first go back to Santa Cruz and then go to San Cristobal. (There might be a direct ferry when the Galapagos Islands reopen. We saw some ads for one on Isabela. But, after covid, who knows.)
There was no way I was taking two ferries in one day, so we spent a night in San Cristobal. And, it is a good thing we did as both ferries were pretty bumpy and I think I would have been puking my guts out if I tried to do them in the same day. Dramamine can only do just so much….
Arriving on San Cristobal, the first thing we noticed (well, after getting our temperature checked for the first time due to the covid outbreak) were the sea lions. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them, around town. Watching the sea lions became one of our favorite ways to pass the time. During the day, you can find them lounging on rocks soaking up the sun. I have no idea how lying on volcanic rock can be comfortable, but apparently – at least to sea lions – it is. In the late afternoon, the sea lions tend to congregate on a beach just west of the main pier. The young ones love to play in the waves. We saw them “surfing” waves. We saw them somersaulting end over end as the waves carried them to shore. And, we saw them rolling back and forth in the waves. It was so much fun to watch. And, boy, do they remind me of dogs!
Other than the sea lions, we weren’t so impressed with San Cristobal (although Kicker Rock is amazing — more on that in the next post). We spent some time on Playa Mann. It is a small little beach. There wasn’t much in the way of amenities (oh, how I miss my lounge chairs) and there wasn’t much to see in the water, but there were some playful sea lions worth watching. You know what is the funniest thing about them? They have totally learned that humans won’t touch them. If a sea lion wants your spot on the beach, well, you better give it to them. They will barrel right up to wherever they want and expect you to get out of their way. And, they like to play with humans. We saw one man taking a photo of a big sea lion. While the man was completely entranced by the big sea lion, a smaller lion sneaked up behind the man and stuck its nose into the back of the guy’s knee. You could practically see the sea lion laugh as the guy jumped in fear. (We laughed too.)
We also spent some time on Playa Carola. Again, no amenities and also no shade. We had read the snorkeling was good at Playa Carola. And, perhaps it is. There were tons of fish in the water (one even nibbled on me), and Robert saw two turtles. But, when we went, visibility was bad, the waves were bad, the currents were bad, the water was insanely shallow, and I got thrown up against the rocks more than once. So, perhaps this snorkel spot is for stronger swimmers than I. Or, perhaps we went when the tide was wrong. We will probably never know….
San Cristobal was probably our least favorite of the islands we visited in the Galapagos. I’m not sure why, as many people love it. Part of it is because most of the food was bad (although we did find one place with consistently good food — we don’t remember the name but if you walk from town to the naval base, it is basically right where you turn right — and one good bar with football on the tv (Midori). Part of is because the wifi was the worst we experienced on the islands (and that is saying something). And, part of it no doubt is because covid was just becoming a thing when we arrived. Almost all of our conversations with other travelers revolved around covid and its impacts. Over and over, we talked about whether we needed to try to get off the islands sooner than planned, about which countries were still open, about where to go, about which flights had been cancelled, etc., etc. So…not our favorite island.
* In light of the Covid-19 situation, we are no longer traveling. This post reflects pre-pandemic travel. We are sheltering in place and hope you are doing the same. Stay safe.
One of the day trips pretty much every tour company on Isabela offers is a half-day trip to Tintoreras, a small island nearly within swimming distance of the main pier. We booked with Pahohoe and paid $50/person (again, we probably overpaid, but it was still cheaper than booking in advance). I’m pretty sure Pahoehoe pawned us off on some other tour company, as there were only five of us on the tour and the gear was dropped off by a different company.