Along for the ride:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Old Broads' Trail Ride


February trail ride in T-shirt weather. Who would complain? Western saddles and a nice young guide, who's career aspirations are "Cowboy". He's worked on a cattle ranch in Ohio and tried bull-ring riding on Portuguese horses. He's taking reining and cutting lessons and is set to buy the horse he's been riding on the trail. He started out as a farrier.
My friend Karen is a Collie rescue connection. She and I often chat about horses as well as dogs. She was raised in these hills and had her own horse for decades. She hadn't ridden since her horse passed away of old age, some eight years ago.
The biggest hurdles to get over are often in our minds. Karen was worried that she was out of shape, too old, wouldn't know what to do, etc. (I know for sure that I'm out of shape and "too" old, but who cares? When I'm on horseback, I'm mentally a teenager). We took it slowly to begin with and then she found herself greatly relieved to be having fun, back in the saddle and loving revisiting her old stomping grounds.
I have the feeling it won't be as long this time, before she takes to the hills again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

February Flowers


Freesias were my Mother's favorite flowers. I often used to buy a slender bunch for her, "just because". Their distinctive spring perfume still makes me smile. Now I grow them myself.
Orchids are an accidental success. These are repeat bloomers from a plant I bought at a flea market a few years back, for next to nothing.
As the orchids in the previous photo seem so happy in this spot, I dug a hole and put the new plant, below, right into the ground.
 





Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pirates and Dancing Girls

 After a couple of hours on the beach, this morning, and a last dip in the Caribbean Ocean, we met our friends for  lunch. The Waikiki Beach Restaurant on St Martin's, has been renovated since the Cyclone that tore through the area a few months ago. It's more modern and open than the version we visited two years ago. The view of the blue waves and passing boats is part of the experience. We're fascinated by the para-sailing and the skills of the tow-boats as they reel in the humans, hanging from a thread, and land them on the back of their craft, without getting their feet wet.
Sunday Brunch is a large affair, with Jet-Skis ferrying visiting yacht passengers ashore, and much celebration at tables ordering jeroboams of Tattinger and Moet.

There was a fashion show of bikinis, cover-ups and resort wear, from the adjoining Boutique, after which the music intensified and "Cue Pirate"; welcome eye-candy for those of us not drooling over the female Models. Our Pirate was on roller skates and got the dancing started right away. 
The Models returned, transformed into dancers, and encouraged Brunch guests to join them, on and off the tables. Those who cry foul when a furry cat paw dares to cross a table, seem to have no problem accepting humans in stilettos tramping around between the plates and glasses.
Our Pirate and his Hench-women twirled and Vogued and smiled for photos with the smitten.They danced vigorously for a long time.
The highlight of the whole experience, for me, was the Maitre d' firmly grasping the ear of an annoying little boy to remove him from the pathway of the servers. I had watched the boy earlier, on the beach, slyly kicking out at the family dog. If he'd done it one more time, it could well have been my hand on his ear.
We're headed back to the real world tomorrow. We hear it's been raining in California.
Post script: The rain and wind caused our flight home to be cancelled so we were stuck for an extra day in Paradise. We had to unpack our bathing suits and subject ourselves to one last evening of Old Rum, flavored with vanilla beans and home grown bananas. Life can be so hard sometimes:)



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Butterflies


The Owl Butterfly fends off potential predators by pretending it is a big-eyed bird. The other side of the wings are blue as the sky, to avoid detection from those who fly higher.
Taking photos of stationary butterflies, as they feed from flowers at the butterfly farm, is one thing. Catching them in flight is a skill I need to work on. I have dozens of "where a butterfly once was" shots on my camera roll.

"Some kind of swallow-tail" would be the scientific term for these two beauties.

This one looks like something a jeweler would create.
Blogger won't let me center the photos, but you get the idea.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Riding in the Islands



Happy and wellfed gang of horses waiting by the gate this morning. The riding instructor and owner of the establishment had overslept and showed up late, very much in need of an espresso. He pulled his act together and selected Oceana, the grey mare for me to ride. The grooming brushes were scattered around, left by the kids who had the run of the place the day before. There's no school on Wednesdays, apparently. 
If you can see the half built castle ruin at the top of the hill, we're told it is new construction that has halted as the owner is behind bars for drug running activities.

Riding arena tucked into a valley, just one hill back from the ocean. Once I found a hat that fit and asked for a girth that didn't swing loosely under my horse's belly, I mounted up. I hadn't brought my riding gear on this trip as I hadn't been able to locate a place to ride, other than the beach rides we went on last trip. This little equestrian center had an editorial in our inflight magazine and I was delighted to find them. My stylish equestrienne fashion statement today was a pair of sweat pants and bright turquoise trainers. It made do.
TAO seems to find the best spot to hang out. I'm begining to thing he's getting tips from the local dogs. I looked over at one stage and he had a big white cat in his arms. Both he and the cat were snoozing in the shade.

TAO minus beard, with our hosts and a niece he hadn't seen for two decades. Who knew she lived here? Her Dad won't get on a plane, so her Uncle was a very welcome substitute.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Beach

This is LeGalion Beach, where we spent a couple of hours sunning and swimming yesterday, before retreating to a palm-shaded table for a nice lunch. LeGalion is a calm lagoon, protected by a coral reef. It's a favorite for parents with small children. We saw many sand castles built and knocked down and great excitment when a crab momentarily visited the sand. Today we're on our way to a beach with waves and a view of other islands.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Leaving, on a Jet Plane

Having to set our alarm for 3am on a Sunday morning to be on time for our early, early flight out of San Francisco, was a bit of a struggle but we made it, and the bi-coastal hop to Miami went well. A change of gates and a flight full of laughter in many languages, as we headed out towards our destination on St Maartens Island in the Caribbean.
The turquoise waters faded to black, as night fell. Puffy clouds below us floating in photo-negative contrast, with occasional jewel-light incrustaceans as we overflew inhabited atolls.
The wind was up as we decended into Dutch airspace and the small motels lining the landing strip accentuated the rocking of the plane's wings. The pilot received a well deserved round of applause once the wheels grabbed the tarmac and the warm night air welcomed us to our destination.