19 February 2015

travel essay: granito de oro

20 january 2015

the early morning sun beat down on me as i stepped into the zodiac, my friend shauna beside me and two guests across.  our tico driver, erick, pulled away from the fantail and we shot across the crystal clear panamanian water to the tiny isle of granito de oro, a small part of the coiba national park off the pacific coast of panama.

i'm working for a small cruise ship company, really an eco-tourism ship, and we're halfway through a trip that started in herradura, costa rica, and will end in colon panama, on the other side of the panama canal.  several small islands make up coiba national park, which sits on the northern edge of the panamanian/costa rican border.  it's famous for it's prison, which is now a hard-to-get-to tourist spot.  hours from the coast, coiba has one of the most pristine reefs in the world, and we are lucky enough to go there every week. 

isa met us on the shore and i dropped my sarong and bag by vanessa. shauna clambered over the rocks and soon disappeared... "a feather. look at this perfect feather. i'm going to mark our spot."

within minutes of setting my stuff down and sinking into the soft sand, hermit crabs were gently scuttling across the bright yellow fabric.  i shifted slightly, disrupting them and causing them to retreat, leaving my sarong littered with shells.  i quickly got restless in the hot sun and grabbed my gopro.  i strode down the white sand beach to the snorkels.  adjusting my mask, i stepped into the cool water and dove into the abyss.  coral materialised in front of me as the reef loomed large.  heavy rocks sat to my right and i could have touched the light pink and brown coral under me. 

schools of brightly colored fish swarmed and, breaststroking swiftly away from the masses, i soon found myself alone in a sea of yellow and blue sergeant major fish.  easter fish - those pearlescent, pastel fish - darted below, chasing smaller fish and nipping at their tails.

the tide was low and the floor dropped away to my left, leaving my imagination running wild: sharks, whales?  definitely sharks.

 i kept my eyes peeled for the sea turtle, but it never graced me with its presence.  last year, i followed it as it effortlessly swam among the rocks, it's green and brown shell catching the light from the almost-equatorial sun above.

the current pressed me toward the rocks and the swell crashed into the point above me.  light filtered down, creating hazy rays and i was lifted along with the water.  the hum of a zodiac near me caused me to raise my head.  bosun went by, a swift course through the waves and i waved at nikki as her wake swept over me.  i readjusted my goggles and ducked back under.

my gaze caught movement to my left, and i saw two large grey shapes.  "reef sharks," i thought, "i'll have to look them up."  dorsal fins glinted in the ever-shifting light as they swam past me, not close enough to touch but close enough to see. 

at the farthest point, just where i could have kept going, i turned back.  i drifted close to the rocks, watching tiny blue fish shimmer and shine among the dark black rocks, little silver fish dart in and out of crevasses, needlefish glide effortlessly across the ocean floor.  a black polka-dotted pufferfish swam past, and soon enough a bright yellow one followed, his fins flitting quickly back and forth.

i circled back around the rock and as i curved back, the reef bed came up under me.  sea urchin lay in large caves, their spines gently waving in the current.  the coral rose beneath me and i could have laid down on it.  i kicked once, twice, flipped on to my back, and let the water push me back to the sandy floor.  i pushed against it once and then drifted in to shore.

11 February 2015

best of... 2014

 {ring of brodgar, orkney, scotland}

i thought it would be fun to read through my last year's worth of posts and pick out some of the best/some of the most popular... and obviously some that i just LIKE, because, well, i like 'em and i wrote 'em.

so, here's a rundown of the best of 2014 ::

sunset at kelley's beach, a timelapse 
one of my first gopro timelapses, done during our beach picnic at kelley's beach in the sea of cortez, baja.  i got most of the bar and the guests coming up for cocktails... but i also got the stunning sunset.

plan a party: robbie burn's night
it turns out you guys like men in marc jacobs kilts?  this was one of the most popular posts of 2014.  how many of you went ahead and planned a robbie burns night party?

life on a boat: swimming with sea lions
this is a perk of working in baja, and i rarely get to do it since i rarely work there.  no video, just pictures, but definitely a fun time.

glacier timelapse
another of my first timelapses -- this time using pictures from my nikon camera from several years ago to see if i could get the result i wanted.  a hugely popular post and a nice capture of some incredible calving of margerie glacier in glacier bay national park, alaska.

dreaming of alaska
i know, i know, it sounds like that john green book.  but this was me posting nostalgically for alaska when i was in the sweltering heat of costa rica last year.

life on a boat: costa rica and panama
and just a few days later, i posted this gem - pictures from my first season in costa rica and panama. 

bubble netting whales
these are two of my most favourite pictures ever.

scotland: ring of brodgar and stones of stenness
thanks to historic scotland's twitter account, this post got a TON of views.  it's pictures and video from my trip to orkney, and the incredible imagery of the ring of brodgar and the stone's of stenness.

scotland: skara brae and the unfortunate hike
this post was also popular, highlighting my failed attempt to hike to skara brae.  go on, laugh.

timelapse of work
so many of you wonder what my job entails.  here's a go pro time lapse of my evening.

to all my traveling friends
and then there was this post, once upon a time when i was feeling sentimental and nostalgic for all my friends that i've met while traveling abroad, or working, or whatever.  here you go, one more time.

new zealand: hiking franz josef
i love this post - i loved hiking on the glacier and i loved new zealand and i'm going to reshare that love with you.

new zealand: franz josef ice shots
some up close and personal shots of the ice at franz josef.  just because i can.

cannon beach
back in the states, i traveled to the oregon coast one day for a little cannon beach action.  you can't tell me that the east coast of any country is better than the west.  sorry, jersey shore.  give me the mountainous, wind ravaged, surf pounded west coast of any country, any time.

my first home: an urban compass starter story
i was approached by urban compass to write a story about my first home and here it is.  who knows who read it, but i don't think it got posted to the urban compass pages.


10 February 2015

songwriter crush

I don't know if you can see the changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid that I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs, that make me think about where I come from
That's the reason why I seem so far away today

Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me and now I'm going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything I've ever had

I have moved and I've kept on moving, proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing, found others on the way
I have tried and I've kept on trying, stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have traveled hard sometimes with conscience flying somewhere in the wind

Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me and now I'm going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything I've ever had

Now I'm sitting here before the fire, the empty room the forest choir
The flames that couldn't get any higher they've withered now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking, my way is clear and I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands have shaken and the kisses flow then I will disappear

{dougie maclean, 1977}

winter in europe: italy, paris and switzerland

ok.  here is the last bit of my european pictures, and eventually i will write about my vacation.  for now, enjoy the photos!

{ponte vecchio, firenze}

{trevi fountain under construction}


{uffizi galleria at sunrise}

{#pilesofthings warm, buttery croissants}

{more trevi - closest you can ever get - walking over the scaffolding!}

{the alps}

{luzern in sunlight}




{and luzern in shadow}




{j in paris}

{f in paris}

{j and b at notre dame}


{b and his mittens}

{notre dame cathedral}



{the boys}

 {the girls}

{sacre couer}



{i swear that #myfeetgo to sacre couer}




{love wall}









{paul klee exhibit at picasso museum in luzern}

{luzern}

{luzern} 


{l and me in luzern}

{j in luzern}

{luzern bei nachte}

{prost!}


{the lion of luzern}

{new best buds}




{#pilesofthings sausages in bern's market}



{avenue of arches, bern}


{gluhwein in bern with l}


{it was too big to take home... i'll survive with a picture.. but i don't have one in french AND in colour...!}

{bern from the bear garden - sad to report, no bears that day}





{last night dinner - traditional fondue}