Diving Paradise

Bonaire is a small island in the Leeward Antilles, off the coast of Venezuela. It used to be the less known of the ABC Islands; Aruba and Curacao are the better known ones. But I think the secret is out. Every year we return, it seems more and more people are visiting. You can also tell by the new construction around the island. 

Its landscape is mostly desert. But for divers and snorkelers, the beauty can be found under water.  The Bonaire National Marine Park has miles of pristine coral reef that covers the entire coast of the island. A smaller island, Klein Bonaire, is accessible via a 20-minute boat ride from the west coast of Bonaire. Between both islands there are over 90 dive sites, with 60 or so, accessible from the shore. As you drive around the island, you will see the bright yellow rocks with the site names. Parking is plentiful on most sites. Since the island is more coral than sand, the first few steps into the water can be tricky, sometimes even challenging. But, with many sites to choose from, you can always find one less challenging.

Andrea I – Site # 23

If diving or snorkeling isn’t your thing, many other activities are available. Several hiking trails are accessible on the north side of the island. You get to appreciate the desert-like landscape as you hike through cactus and yucca plants. Parrots can be spotted at times and even flamingos.

The island has long been known as a great destination for windsurfing. If you head to Lac Bay, you have the opportunity to watch both experts and novices enjoying the steady trade winds perfect for the sport. Jibe City has equipment you can rent as well as experts ready to teach you the sport. Also happens to be our favorite afternoon hangout. Jibe City has a great bar, right on the edge of Lac Bay waters. You can sit back, enjoy great food and a cold Polar or three, while watching the windsurfers do their thing.

It’s hard to pick a favorite site to dive or snorkel in Bonaire. But, if I had to, here are my 3 favorites: The Lake, site# 42; Red Beryl, site# 56, and Karpata, site# 9. The coral formation at Karpata is amazing.

There are many dive shops and resorts available to those visiting. We continue to use Buddy Dive because we love the dive masters and the ease of their tank drive-thru. Shout-out to Flavia and Fons!! Just two of the many great staff at the resort.

Fons and Bill on one of our boat dives

Another wonderful dive vacation comes to an end. It never gets old and there are always new experiences, no matter how many dives you’ve done. The most memorable on this trip has to be the 6+ ft. hawksbill turtle just off of Capt. Don’s site at Klein Bonaire. The ostracods on our last night dive were pretty special too. Hard to beat Bonaire.

Bonaire is very special. A slow-pace island with great people, wonderful food and amazing water. Did I mention the french fries?! Best in the world.

Until we meet again…

Some of our favorite places on the island:

Weekend Getaways Are The Best…

Redlands Mesa Golf Course – Grand Junction, CO

This time of year we tend to get a bit “antsy” . We want green grass, sunny days and warmer weather. Most of us living in the Colorado mountains haven’t left our towns in months and just want to go…somewhere, anywhere!

We checked the weather forecast around us to see who had the best weekend forecast and jumped in the car for a quick getaway. Grand Junction won the coin-toss; the weather was warmer and golf was the activity of choice.

We stayed at Two Rivers Winery just west of town and near our favorite golf course; Redlands Mesa Golf. The winery has a chateau with 7 or 8 beautifully appointed rooms. The rooms are decorated in a french-country style. Comfortable and spacious. A wonderful breakfast is provided from 7:30 am to 9:30 am in their breakfast room. Staff is great and very friendly. If you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere, something more than the basic hotel chain, this is a place to consider.

On previous trips through Grand Junction, we had the opportunity to stop in for a wine tasting. The Two Rivers wines are wonderful; I’m partial to their reds. The tasting room is open every day from 10:30 am to 5 pm, and noon to 5 pm on sundays. I would highly recommend it; worth the stop!

We tasted their 2016 vintage on saturday; all the reds. My favorite was the Syrah: “This savory vintage offers complex aromas of coffee, cedar, baking spices and salted caramel. The rich, round mouth-feel finishes with an earthy minerality and flavors of molasses and vanilla. Pair with grilled items, game or rosemary crusted Colorado lamb.” The 2016 Vintner’s Blend was a close second: “This complex and well-balanced offering brings together two of our favorite grapes: Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Acids and tannins collide and mellow, creating an opulent red wine with earthy aromas and complex flavors of berries and spice. This vintage is highlighted by a delicious, creamy and fruit-filled finish. Pairs beautifully with caramelized foods; try roasts or grilled meats and onions.” Cheers!

While the skies were a bit cloudy early saturday, that didn’t stop us from heading to the golf course for our 10:30 am tee-time. For early spring, the course was actually in decent shape and surprisingly busy. For us, it was just wonderful to be outside. A couple of hours into our game, the sun made an appearance. Mother Nature was good to us! I did hit some great shots and some not so great… Basically a typical golf game for me. A quick bite to eat at the club house with a John Daly to celebrate our day out on the course, concluded our outing.

Views from the balcony @ Two Rivers
Views from the balcony @ Two Rivers

As we leave sunday morning, in hopes that we don’t hit another snow storm, we are grateful for this repreve from all the “white stuff”.

What’s your favorite weekend getaway? Drop a line, share your thoughts and keep on traveling!

Oh no, it’s time to pack…

Packing, it can be easy!

I don’t know about you, but once I have a trip booked, I cannot wait to start packing. I’m like a kid going to Disney. Like the action of packing will make the trip happen that much quicker!

On any trip longer than a weekend, I tend to “stage” my items before I pack; normally several weeks in advance. (I sensed you rolling your eyes!) I start coordinating outfits, shoes and accessories, and all the miscellaneous items needed for said trip. Make a list of items I don’t have, must buy, really can’t live without, and so on. Nothing I hate more than packing for a trip and realize last minute that I forgot something important and have to run to buy it or worse, I don’t have time to order it online and now I’ll have to go without. The horror!!! Ok, just being a bit over dramatic here.

I’ve been reading a lot about the packing cubes, so I decided to purchase some and give it a try. My feelings so far, not bad. I used 3 of the medium size ones and one small for an upcoming week-long trip. I opted for having each cube hold a particular item; one for T Shirts, another for swimwear, etc. Everything fit nicely in my 22″ suitcase. Note that I was only able to add 2 pairs of shoes along with the clothes. I can see advantages: everything is nicely separated. Hoping for less wrinkles. Should TSA open the bag, I hope they don’t pull everything from the individual cubes.

Initially I had purchased the cubes to use on our travel-trailer adventures. Since clothes tend to shift while in transit, I thought this would be a great solution; have everything in place inside the trailer closet. Plus it will be easier to look for things. At the end of some of our longer camping trips, our tiny closet is a mess. Can’t wait to try it out. The smaller the space, the better organize you need to be.

So, here we are about a month or less from our next adventure and yes, I’m pretty much done packing. Just need to add the last minute toiletries to the suitcase, get some cash and we are set to go and have ourselves a wonderful time.

Are you a last minute packer? Or do you prefer to plan things out? Drop a line, share your thoughts.

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

The backyard view

Like most Coloradans that live in the mountains, we have seen more snow days than the customary bluebird days this year. While this much snow is welcomed, we can still be sick of moving it, plowing it, snowblowing, etc.

At this point, most of us had our fun in the snow and are starting to countdown to our ski hill closing; 27 days to be exact!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a change of scenery. Still too early for camping season, so I’m dreaming of tropical vacations. Yes, warm caribbean waters, hot sun and a cabana boy with umbrella drinks!

Sunset Happy Hour

Where are you going this spring? Have you been there before?

Southern California: Golf, Wine & Dine

Discovering Southern California one winery at a time! I know this is hard work, but we are totally up to the task. Recently, we were introduced to the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Who knew there were fabulous wines in California outside of Sonoma/Napa region?! Well, we kinda did already (Paso Robles, Lodi, Grass Valley), but Temecula was a surprise and added bonus to our trip!

While visiting family in Southern California, we had the opportunity to explore Ramona and Temecula areas. Our home-base was the San Vicente Golf Resort. A golf resort just a few miles outside Ramona. We got to play a couple of rounds of golf; probably the earliest golf season start for us. The course was decent, but could benefit from some maintenance, which we heard they will be doing spring/summer of 2019. But, still can’t beat the fact that you run out of your guest room and get on a golf cart in less than 5 minutes. The weather was cold, for California standards, but for us, 60 degrees felt amazing. The resort had a great restaurant/bar; it’s a happening spot on Friday nights! Staff were friendly and food was very good; loved their fish tacos. In case you are considering a stay, the rooms are large, clean and comfortable with a balcony facing the course. It’s an older property, but nice.

San Vicente Number Nine
San Vicente Golf Course – Ramona, California

Temecula Valley is Southern California’s Wine Country. I’m told there are over 30 wineries in the region’s rolling hills and sprawling valleys. They produce a variety of wines, including award-winning and artisan Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. On this trip we visited three wineries; Vitagliano, South Coast and Miramonte; 27+ more to go!!

My favorite wine tasting was at South Coast. I was surprised to find wines with some of my favorite portuguese grapes: Touriga National, Tinto Cao, and Alicante Bouschet. Loved the Boulder Red 2.0. A wonderful, rich and balanced red blend. Another one of my favorites was their 2015 Petit Verdot; smooth and easy to drink.

Looking out at Miramonte

Further down the road, our next stop was Miramonte Winery. A lovely property with a great outside patio overlooking the vineyards. As you walk up to the patio you are greeted with the most amazing smells of garlic and bread that make your mouth water before you even hit the tasting room. The staff were welcoming and accommodating. You can choose to enjoy your wine in the tasting room or take it outside to the patio and enjoy the views while complementing their wines with the fabulous small plates on the menu. What a great spot to spend a couple of hours with friends or family while enjoying wine tasting and delicious food. Is there anything better? Good food and wine are among my favorite experiences to share. If you are in the area, stop by. Definitely worth it. Favorite dish: Tomato Fromage / Favorite wine: Touriga National

Our last full day was to be spent in San Diego with a trip to the beach. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to adjust. We checked in to the Hilton Harbor Island for the night, since we wanted to be closer to the airport for our return flight the following morning. This property fit the bill; modern, bright, very clean and just a couple of miles from the car rental terminal. Check-in was a breeze and staff were awesome. We got a nice higher floor, with a view overlooking the marina and city skyline. Due to inclement weather, our only choice was to check out the bar, so, being the troopers that we are, to the bar we went. They had a nice, cozy bar facing the marina. We enjoyed the views, while enjoying our cocktails. The afternoon did not suck!

Marina View San Diego
Marina View – Downtown San Diego

Dinner was at a great mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego. We had a wonderful spread at Miguel’s Cocina. Great margaritas, I’ll start with that; not super sweet, and with the right amount of liquor. The food was wonderful also, as was the service; attentive, pleasant and quick. We asked for the queso recipe since everyone enjoyed it so much. Waiter actually did share the ingredients with us, but a little google search later and found the complete recipe online. Will be making it for the next gathering. This was a great dinner choice for us on our last night in San Diego.

Overall, a wonderful trip. Hoping we will come back soon so we can actually visit the beaches in the area. But then, you do have to leave something to do the “next time”… Until we meet again!!