Exploring the reefs of the Spanish Virgin Islands

I shot just a little bit of video during our week in the SVIs — most of it by accident when my thumb hit the video button while gripping the camera case. I do apologize for my underwater video skills. There’s not really anywhere to practice here in Galveston Bay, and I can’t actually see where the camera is pointed underwater. However, I hope this is still watchable.

Cleaning up the beach in Galveston

The past few weeks have brought plenty of rain to the Houston area. I mean, I’m very glad we aren’t having another drought, but the rain and storms are getting a bit excessive. I wouldn’t mind a few weeks with no rain.

Saturday I was supposed to be riding my bicycle from Houston to La Grange for the first leg of the 2015 BP MS 150, but the fairgrounds in La Grange were flooded, so the first day of the event was canceled. Instead we headed to the boat where we spent Friday night rocking and rolling with lightning flashing all around us. These two were not happy with the situation.

UpsetDogs

Eventually, the storm passed, we all lived, and Saturday was much nicer. We headed to Galveston Island State Park for the spring 2015 Adopt-a-Beach clean-up.

BeachCleanUp01

While others in the group grabbed the large pieces of trash and walked on, Mary and I really focused on collecting all of the small plastic we could find. Turtles and birds often eat the colorful plastic that they mistake for fish or balloons and plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. Mary found three balloons and patted herself on the back for saving three sea turtles. Of course, I pointed out that hypothetically the same sea turtle could have eaten all three balloons, and then she’d just have saved one turtle. She said saving the same turtle three times still counts as three saves.

BeachCleanUp03

Sadly, I’ve never seen a sea turtle in the Galveston area, but supposedly we still have a few that come ashore to nest each year.

Representatives from Texas Parks & Wildlife were taking samples of the tiny fish in the surf. I was surprised how many they pulled in since you don’t ever notice those fish in the water while swimming.

BeachCleanUp02

The planned picnic afterwards was a bit of a bust. Did I mention that we’ve had a lot of rain here?

BeachCleanUp04

I know it wasn’t much, but hopefully those few hours we spent picking up trash made at least a little bit of an impact for the better.

Lonely islands, black rats, and giant bugs

NPR had a very interesting story this morning about the tree lobster, a 12 cm long flightless insect from Australia. Thought to be extinct since the 1920s due to the accidental introduction of black rats to Lord Howe Island, biologist found one small group of them living on one plant way up a mountain on a tiny island off the coast. It’s a very interesting story about invasive species and conservation.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/24/147367644/six-legged-giant-finds-secret-hideaway-hides-for-80-years?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150310

Australia definitely isn’t the only place with huge insects. Check out this beetle we ran into in Hopkins, Belize last summer.

14310343990_434b92c94b_o

Giant bugs are part of the adventure, right?

What’s the craziest insect or animal you’ve ever run into?

2014 in review

We kicked off 2014 at Watergate Marina in Kemah, Texas watching the fireworks.

NYE01

We joined the crew of Antares for our first racing experience during the Galveston Bay Cruising Association Icicle Series Regatta.

12298579675_0720389d31_o

Meanwhile I was installing what has been our favorite upgrade to Gimme Shelter, a new 12000 BTU Flagship Marine air-conditioner and heater.

blogger-image-1683838521

As usual, we stopped by the spring Clear Lake boat show where we met this guy who dances with sharks. (FYI, all sharks in the show were sharks that had been rescued from research facilities and could not be returned to the wild. They were used in the traveling educational show until they could be placed in aquariums.)

13526253595_0852766a8b_o

After that, I headed across the pond for a few days for work. My first trip to London, England. I met a very interesting guy named Leon McCarron at the Globetrotter’s Club, and I managed to fit in a photo walk with some friends from the Leica Forum.

13673813955_061cb0bf01_o

While I was off in London, Mary’s family came to visit, and they took Gimme Shelter for the first sail of the season.

art driving

But with a new season of sailing came the usual necessary boat repairs. We had to repair the drain system on the anchor locker and run new lazy-jack lines.

DSC05636

Then we met another set of adventurers who we’ve admired for quite some time, Pat and Ali Schulte, better known as the Bumfuzzles when they stopped by Waterford Harbor Marina on their way through Houston.

L1005288

We didn’t do as much sailing as usual this spring and summer because in June it was off to Mary’s hometown of Hamilton, Illinois for our wedding. Despite the torrential rains and a collapsed tent at the reception, it was a great day.

14192576178_2b62f28611_o

Then from Illinois, it was off to Belize for our honeymoon where we spent three nights in the rainforest along the Hummingbird Highway.

14437834171_31af29c30e_o

Then we spent three nights on the beach in Hopkins.

14495090781_0ea799e811_o

Shortly after Belize we were back on the road to visit my parents in Independence, Kansas for the 4th of July. We found the thousands of lightning bugs more entertaining than fireworks.

14583264592_977e48555c_o

Meanwhile, our friends Tina and Ray had purchased a beautiful 56′ Carver, so we got to spend the summer cruising on a big boat and witness first-hand the process of a family selling their house and moving aboard for the first time.

10584001_625983380848429_437725216646734798_n

We started August with a sailing trip to Moody Gardens in Offats Bayou, Galveston.

10626670_625986074181493_5964303034464855043_n

Mary also made a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana with her girlfriends.

10354609_897220920293204_6513028129247928233_n

We then ended the summer with new bottom paint and a compound wax.

10369689_630002250446542_2872519850415988421_n

In September we met my family for a long weekend in South Padre Island where we learned about sea turtles at the Sea Turtle, Inc. rescue center.

15257523595_f44ea2883f_o

Then in October it was off to the Texas Renaissance Festival where we spent most of the day drinking at the Barbarian Inn and most of the night singing with the pirates.

15579464495_cd70e14b4b_o

Of course, Halloween came and went. Somehow we missed all the parties this year, but we did take the time to carve a pumpkin.

15335528278_6701cf9483_o

In November we hosted an open mic jam and pot luck at the marina. While it was well-attended, we only had one musical participant, so it was more of a concert than an open mic. However, we still had a great time.

1554499_10152504433547309_9100237468764595948_n

The mild weather in November also required more boating — much more boating. In fact, we made multiple trips to Galveston aboard the Tina Marie Too and our first trip into the open water of the Gulf of Mexico.

15809895492_0a6695bd14_o

As Christmas approached, we found ourselves in Tallahassee, Florida visiting Mary’s sister. We made trips to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park and to Bald Point State Park. We saw lots of wildlife, but not a single manatee.

15912047339_997a005fec_o

And that brings us back to the present. Tomorrow we head back to Houston where it’s back to work before we ring in the new year.

Who knows where 2015 will take us.