"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 5, 2020

Back to The Pearl

"Not every lake dreams to be an ocean. Blessed are the ones who are happy with whom they are." —Mehmet Murat ildan
Our trip east from Texas this year was our 41st trip since 2011. It was definitely the longest and the hardest...maybe because we're getting older, but in reality I think it was the traffic. From the looks of our highways, our economy should be booming. We've never seen so many 18-wheelers on the freeways before. Between construction, accidents and having to be rerouted we lost four hours...making our 25 hour trip over 29. Our reward...spending three days with our PA family and filling up on love.

After a little rest and lots of hugs we headed back to New York to get The Pearl ready for the summer. We arrived Sunday afternoon, unloaded all our stuff, stored it and were ready to launch first thing Monday morning. Stan checked all the systems, we flushed the water tank and then Stan was on his way to Ithaca. It was our quickest spring launch ever, no bottom job, no waxing, no other projects...we took the shrink wrap off and she was ready. 
Our first look at The Pearl...patiently waiting for summer to begin.
First step in waking up the boat is taking off her winter coat.
On her way to the water. 
She's floating and ready to go.
Stan leaving Beacon Bay...on his way to our summer home.
I like painting rocks and some of the best rocks I've ever seen our along the shore of Lake Ontario at Chimney Bluff State Park. It takes Stan about 5 hours to move the boat down the lake so I had plenty of time to enjoy myself before meeting him at the marina.
Some of the rocks I've painted...some I give away, some I sell and some I hide for others to find.
I enjoyed my drive along Cayuga Lake...everything is very green and beautiful. We truly love spending our summers up here.
The Pearl at home at Allan H. Treman State Marine Park...we're ready for summer. 
Getting our Tiny Pearl ready for family fun this weekend. 
Enjoying my happy place.

May 13, 2020

May Updates

“Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love.” –Marvin J. Ashton

This is the first May in ten years that we’re still in Texas. It starts to get hot in Texas around Mother's Day...the temperature rises and the humidity becomes almost unbearable. That’s why we’re usually gone by now, but Covid 19 has changed the world and we’re on hold. We aren’t sure if we’ll even be able to return to The Pearl this season. 

Our marina is a New York State Park and they’re opening the marina on May 15, but so far they aren’t letting anyone spend the night on their vessels. It really doesn’t make sense...we can be there during the day, social distancing from others of course, but we can’t sleep on our boats. I’m sure they’re just following the guidelines for camping at other state parks...no camping...no sleeping on your boats. If the policy doesn’t change early in June...we won’t return this summer.

We have a few other options...none of them are ideal, so we’re still looking, planning and waiting. The boat is stuck on the lake, because the Erie Canal probably won't open in its entirety this season. I’m beginning to miss the open sea and the freedom that it brings.

We have been staying in mostly, since March 14...no dinner outs, no meals brought in, no shopping, no haircuts and no interaction with other people...except from afar or online. Not hard for us, we have plenty to do at our home. Stan has finished lots of projects that we have put off for years. Me on the other hand...not as energetic. The last few weeks we've visited our Texas grands, no hugs, but playing on the driveway and taking walks. This past weekend we actually acted like the world had returned to normal and had a wonderful Mother’s Day with them.

I saw this somewhere online and wanted to share it with my readers. I really like the last line.

The Day the World Went Crazy 
We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another. Suddenly Disney is out of magic, Paris is no longer romantic, New York doesn't stand up anymore, the Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty. Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love. Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are worthless, and can't get you the oxygen you're fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages. I think it's sending us a message: "You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember that you are my guests. Not my masters."

We have a lot of good friends in New York and they're keeping an eye on our Pearl as she patiently awaits our return.
We really wouldn't want to be in Ithaca right now...the weather hasn't been very nice. Snowstorms and lots of rain. I sure hope June brings us better news and better weather for all our New York friends.
A friend sent me this picture last night (5/12) still snowing in upstate NY.
Our marina...almost under water.

February 26, 2020

The Coquí

“I wish I had never gone traveling. Said no one ever.” ~Anonymous

On our first night in San Juan as we walked along the street we could hear a sound we didn't recognize. I wondered what type of bird was making the noise we heard. Later during our time in Puerto Rico we found out it wasn't a bird, but a frog. The sound the little tree frog makes is “Co-kee! Co-kee!” This sound is what gives the little frog its name, Coquí. 

Coquí is a tiny tree frog, about one inch long, native to Puerto Rico. It's skin is smooth and almost transparent, with coloration rapidly blending with its surroundings. Hiding in moist and dark places during the day, it emerges at sundown for its nightly performance. 

The coquí frogs are found on a number of islands throughout the Caribbean, but only the ones in Puerto Rico sing, and only the males in Puerto Rico are vocal. The male coquí’s song has been measured at 90 to 100 decibels, making it the loudest existing amphibian. Like the coquí, many Puerto Ricans are smaller in stature, but exuberant when speaking. The traits of this minuscule frog and the tremendous people of the island often mirror each other, so it's the perfect national symbol for Puerto Rico: small island, small frog, BIG VOICE.
Here is the sound of the coquí.

February 25, 2020

Puerto Rican Food

"In order to really get to know a place and the people, you've got to eat the food." -Emeril Lagasse

Puerto Rico's cuisine is a unique merging of ingredients, cultures and recipes. The native Taíno Indians, the Spanish conquistadors and the African slaves have all influenced what has come to be known around the island as cocina criolla, or Creole cooking. The local dishes usually incorporate different types of meat, garlic, olive oil and rice. They often contain the starchy staple plantains, whose taste is a cross between a banana and a potato. (click on highlighted text to get recipe)

Mofongo is the unofficial king of Puerto Rican cuisine. It's a tasty concoction of mashed plantains, seasonings and an unlimited choice of fillings including vegetables, shrimp, steak, pork, and seafood.
Lechón asado is spit-roasted suckling pig, so beloved in Puerto Rico dish that there is a road in Guavate, called the Ruta del Lechón (Pork Highway). Along this road you'll see and smell the delicious lechoneras, or rustic, open-air roadside eateries. This dish is prepared by slow roasting the whole swine, swaddled in salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and ajíes dulces, over a wood charcoal fire. 
Arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) is the island's national dish. This dish has distinctive Caribbean roots, but the Puerto Rican twist is in the secret sauce known as sofrito. This aromatic sauce is sautéed or braised beforehand and gives the dish it's zesty flavor. Arroz con gandules is typically made with pork, chorizo, red peppers and olives.
Asopao de Pollo is Puerto Rico's answer to chicken noodle soup. This homemade savory soup is made with chicken and rice. Most restaurants have it on their menu, as it is a favorite with the Islanders. Asopao de pollo is actually more like a gumbo than a soup and may include chicken, shellfish or pork along with peppers, pigeon peas, olives and tomatoes.
Alcapurrias (stuffed fritters) can be found as street food all over the island. A beach food staple, these delights are usually made with a batter of green bananas and stuffed with crab, shrimp, or lobster. Other variations include cuchifritos (stuffed with pork), almojábanas (cheese-filled rice fritters), bacalaítos (codfish fritters), and buñuelos (yam fritters).   
Tostones are served as an appetizer. The dish is made by smashing plantains and frying them. We ate a version of these in Costa Rica and loved them.
Empanadillas are savory fried pastries traditionally filled with ground beef, but you can find them stuffed with chicken as well. You can also find pastelillos in Puerto Rico, which are a smaller, more buttery, flaky and delicate version of the empanadillas.
Rellenos de papa are potatoes stuffed with ground beef and deep fried to create a crispy outer layer. The meat filling, called picadillo, is ground beef mixed with adobo, sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, oregano and garlic powder. The picadillo is then stuffed into mashed potato balls and fried in hot oil. The result is a savory fried potato croquette. 
Pastelon is the Puerto Rican version of traditional Italian lasagna. The filling is made from fried meat seasoned with oregano and cumin and mixed with sofrito, olives and tomato sauce. The meat is placed between layers of ripe, thinly-sliced plantains, topped with cheese and baked in an oven. Pastelon has a unique taste that is both salty and sweet.
Asopao is a blend of rice and soup that is popular across the Caribbean. The dish is similar to gumbo and is often paired with seafood, chicken or pork. The most popular in Puerto Rico is asopao de pollo, which is made from broth, rice, chicken, oregano, tomato, olives, onion, garlic and other seasonings. 
Coco Rico is the Coca Cola of Puerto Rico. It has a fairly light flavor and is similar to Sprite, but with a coconut aftertaste. 

February 24, 2020

Feb. 19 - Old San Juan, PR

“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets” ―Oscar Wilde

We began our day like we did yesterday...coffee and guava pastries at the little coffee kiosko in the Plaza de Armes. After breakfast we headed east to explore a little beach close to the El Capitolio (Puerto Rico's Capital building), it's a beautiful area of town with lots of official buildings. From there we visited Castillo San Cristóbal.

In 1634, almost a hundred years after starting construction on El Morro, the Spanish began construction on the even larger Castillo San Cristóbal. This fort would stand guard at the eastern gate, the land entrance, to the walled city of Old San Juan. It took over 150 to finish the fort, although modifications were made well into the 18th century. San Cristóbal is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World, covering 27 acres. The fort is actually a number of different units connected by tunnels, each unit being self-sufficient if another part was invaded. Walking around the fort gave us a lot of exercise and offered wonderful views of the coast from Old San Juan to Condado and beyond.  

We spent the afternoon slowly wandering through the streets of OSJ taking in the beauty of the buildings and enjoying the views of the water. We walked over 17 miles the last three days in OSJ...that's a real workout, but what a place to explore. Today was our last full day in Puerto Rico, but it won’t be our last. We have fallen in love with the island, Old San Juan and the people of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico capital building (El Capitolio).
This beach was across the street from the capital building...sea glass beach.
Castillo San Cristóbal
Aerial view of the large Castillo San Cristóbal. 
Tunnels like this one were an important part of the fortifications like San Cristóbal. They protected soldiers from enemy fire and enabled commanders to move large numbers of troops to new positions, unseen by the enemy. This is the largest tunnel in the fort and leads to the main plaza. 
Janice having fun with the soldiers. 
Exploring Castillo San Cristóbal
Looking west towards El Morro. 
Looking south from Castillo San Cristóbal over Old San Juan. 
View from Castillo San Cristóbal looking east towards the capital building and the beach we visited in the morning. 
Calle (Street) Norzagaray looking back at Castillo San Cristóbal. 
Plazuela La Rogativa overlooks the San Juan Gate and La Fortaleza (Governor's Mansion). 
The beautiful streets of Old San Juan
The Methodist church in Old San Juan
Our last dinner in OSJ was at Ostra Cosa 
Cute little plaza across the street from San Juan Bautista Cathedral and close to our apartment. The whole town is full of cute sculptures.