A brief recap of the last couple of years, then.
October 2015, I took my best friend on a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate our 40th year on the planet. We had a blast hiking the area (I highly recommend the Valley of Fire) and exploring the town and just generally hanging out. Enjoyed a medieval feast and tournament one evening, and then a Chippendale's performance the next night, just because we could.
In December 2015, Mike and I spent 12 days in Dominica, with a brief stop-over in Barbados (did a catamaran snorkeling cruise where we got to swim with the turtles, and visited a limestone cave). An incredibly beautiful volcanic island (still active in terms of steam and boiling lakes), Dominica has super friendly people. Lots of hiking (Boiling Lake, Waitukabuli Trail) and snorkeling. And our hosts at the Crescent Moon Cabins in the interior knew how to put on a yummy spread.
In early June of 2016, we went to Chicago for a long weekend to watch the trials for the America's Cup. Lots of excitement (including very tall boats tipping over - twice) and fantastic sites. Also, a really fun off-Broadway play called 'Old Hobbits Die Hard.' Picture Bilbo Baggins a la John McClane returning to the shire to discover that Peter Jackson has tried to take it over. Awesome combination of the LOTR franchise and Bruce Willis' Die Hard.
My best line of the trip came when the customs guys at Waterloo airport asked the purpose of our trip and I replied with great enthusiasm: "We went to see the big boats!" Left him momentarily speechless.
At the end of June, 2016, we went canoe camping in Algonquin Park, with the intention of staying in a cabin. The first day had ridiculous winds, forcing us to pull into a campsite and sleep under the stars (didn't think we needed a tent, what with the cabin rental). We left at dawn and made it to Tattler cabin by 7:30 the next morning, where a million mosquitoes greeted us (this is not a huge exaggeration - many, many biters). Had a relaxing week without seeing another person until we made it back to the first portage on July 1. Saw the mouse in the cabin, the snake (also in the cabin), beavers, deer, Canada Geese, loons, blue herons, and ducks, but no humans. Ah, bliss.
Barbados & Dominica
Tattler Cabin in Algonquin Park - Canoe Adventures
New Zealand - North Island
On Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, we snorkeled and swam, hiked, and mostly cooked our own food. Mike rented a scooter and saw pretty much the whole island (it's all of 32 km around). A truly enjoyable 3 weeks.
More New Zealand and Rarotonga
We spent three days on the coast, and the rest in the jungle, having rented an SUV to get around. Some of the roads seemed decent, others ... perhaps a bit bumpy and twisty (by a bit, read nauseating). Especially the road (all of 7 miles) to El Pilar, which has only a little excavation, but gives an awesome (in the real sense) idea of the effort involved in restoration. We saw many resorts and cabins, never staying more than 2 nights in one place. Partly so that we could experience more areas, and partly because that's just how the reservations worked out.
We stayed at a cabana on the beach for a couple of nights, taking a cruise on the Monkey River one day. Saw howler monkeys, many species of birds, iguanas, spiders, bats, and crocodiles (our guide could point out a creature from far away, while us yokels on the boat - 3 couples - could only find it when he motored us to within inches of the cirtter). In the interior, we saw 3 Mayan sites (Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, and El Pilar), and a cave (more howler monkeys, and a truly huge insect that luckily only Mike saw and photographed). Of the three, Xunantunich holds the most popularity, but we rather liked Cahal Pech more. El Pilar was interesting in that you see the huge effort involved, but the road in even has warnings in the tour books. We arrived around 12:30, and the ranger there said we were the first folks of the day, though he wondered why. Mike & I bit our tongues rather than point to the huge boulders and potholes we had somehow managed to drive around/through.
Supermarkets in Belize are a bit strange, as it's difficult to find fresh produce, but with a bit of hunting and luck, you can sometimes find a place along the side of the road to provide fresh fruit.
OK, so now we're all caught up on the last couple of years, at least up to July. When boating begins ...