Layers of Cascades foothills with Mount Baker off in the distance, center.Mount Rainier flyby as seen through a window waaaay over on the other side of the plane. And from my window a few minutes later. Looking up through a glass sidewalk in Pioneer Square from the Seattle Underground.
I took a field trip today to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden Museum, down by Zilker Park. Admission is free this summer, through the end of August, thanks to donations from Amplify Austin. You may want to check it out as well. Hours are Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, and Sat & Sun noon-4pm.
I’ve been there before, but it has been over 15 years. It was a lovely morning, and I headed out before it got too hot. Charles Umlauf was born in 1910, died in 1994, and was a prolific sculptor. His first commissioned work was at age 12! The sculpture garden lies on land between his former home and Barton Springs, and displays 50+ of his works scattered throughout lovely, wooded grounds.
Ok, so, now for the best part… as I was walking through the grounds I noticed a large dark shape sitting on a branch of a tree right over the trail I just walked on. I realized it was a bird. A big one. It was just sitting there, watching me, as I doubled back to try to get a picture. It was an unexpected sight, and I love the shot. After I got home I looked online to identify the bird… I believe it to be a barred owl.
I love the water and being out on our boat on the lake. We are out there nearly every week, year round. I don’t take for granted the beautiful scenery and the freedom of feeling the sun and wind on my face. We have fun too; lots of fun with friends. We spent Friday through Monday on the lake this past July 4th weekend. We were sun-baked, sore and tired when we finally got home. But we did get home. Sadly, on Lake Travis alone, on this one weekend of the year, there were several accidents and drownings: a 2-year old baby girl fell off a dock near Emerald Point and drowned before her family could rescue her; a bi-plane crashed into the crowded waters off Windy Point, thankfully with no casualties; two motor boats collided one evening near Devil’s Cove, sending ten people into the water in the dark, four people to the hospital, and one driver to jail for DUI; and the body of a 50-year old man was found drowned off Graveyard Point. The previous weekend a 9-year old girl was injured by the spinning propeller of a motor boat operated by her father as she was floating off the back of the boat near Mansfield Dam Park. And there have been 2 or 3 other drownings on Lake Travis just in the last month. Tragic. Sad. It makes you pause. It should make you pause. It is easy to underestimate or disregard the potential dangers of being on the water, and the responsibility all boaters have to take care for ourselves, our guests, and the other boaters whose paths we cross.
The lake can look serene, but can be deadly. Put your lifejackets on your kids! Keep yours on or at least within reach if you are in the boat, and always put one on if you get out of the boat to swim or jet-ski or kayak or SUP or ski or wave-board. Learn the rules of the road… who has right-of-way, when. Maintain the required 50′ minimum distance from other boats while underway. Study the maps of the lake so you know where you are and where you are going. Don’t drink and drive a boat. Learn how to anchor securely and safely. Don’t drive over the anchor rodes of boats you are approaching. Pay attention to the wind to know how it will blow your boat relative to other boats at anchor. Know that your boat throws a wake and be courteous to other boaters. Learn to recognize marker buoys: hazard buoys, no-wake buoys and channel markers. A cove with a no-wake buoy means just that: don’t drive your boat or jet-ski at a speed that will create any wake. Do not operate your motor if anyone is near your boat or any lines are floating near your boat. Watch out for floating debris in the water. Use your running lights after sunset. Learn how to interpret the running lights on other boats to know in what direction they are moving. And for God’s sake, slow down.
Check out the LCRA’s safe boating advice. Or, better yet, take a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department boater safety course. It is actually required by law in Texas for anyone born after September 1, 1993 who is operating a jet-ski, or any boat with 15 HP or greater motor, or any sailcraft over 14 feet.
Learn how to recognize the signs of drowning. It’s not necessarily how it is depicted in the movies.
Please be careful out there.
We spent Friday night and Saturday morning in Cow Creek, one of the loveliest coves on Lake Travis. In the morning we had the entire cove to ourselves. We each took a turn kayaking around it. The wall has water perpetually seeping out showering the lake below and there are curtains of mineral deposits and caves along its face. It’s a beautiful thing.
To celebrate the end of my last day of work, at 5pm last night I popped the cork on a bottle of Dom Pérignon Vintage 1993 that I received upon my promotion to the executive ranks. (woo hoo!) I kept putting off opening it until an appropriately auspicious occasion.
Well, here we are 15 years later – and this was to be the occasion. Conventional wisdom says that good champagne shouldn’t be saved or aged. I didn’t really know that at the time. Over the years we have joked that this bottle of champagne, which has taken up space in our refrigerator on its side all these years, was going to be flat and vinegary when we eventually opened it. So, i was fully expecting that. We even had a backup bottle of bubbly on ice, just in case. But, low and behold, there was a resounding pop when the cork came off, and no shortage of fizz and bubbles! And it tasted good, like… a very special bottle of champagne. :) I take that to be a good omen on the closing of one chapter of my life, and the start of the next.
I would also like to thank Teri & Jim for this absolutely stunning orchid that they sent me today. You guys are the best! It’s gorgeous, thank you!
Today I am throwing off the bowlines and sailing away from the most recent, and longest, phase of my life – the full-time career phase, that is. I’m ready. I am going to take my time charting the next phase. I can’t wait to see where it takes me!
Last night we celebrated Laura’s birthday by going on a wine bar crawl downtown. We had picked out 6 or so places ahead of time to stop in at for appies and drinks during the night. We made it to 5 of them! In crawl-order: Prelog’s, Irene’s, True Food Kitchen, La Condesa & The Secret Bar at the W Hotel. A good time was had by all.
I especially liked this overhead light fixture at La Condesa:
Seen on a building along one leg of the crawl…. i agree
I took this shot from the back of the boat, as the sun was setting last night.
Lots of action in the backyard this weekend.
I don’t usually care much for the mourning doves, as they aggressively hog the feeders. But I like the color around the eyes of this dove.
Beautiful, red cardinal:
Sheila365 has been rather quiet lately, as I’ve had many irons in the fire. But I’m making up for it with this long post. For the past week and half, I’ve been enjoying our latest sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands. Before that, I was busy just getting ready to leave.
This year, Colleen and Lee joined Monte and I on a 40′ Beneteau called Forever Young. Also on the trip were Kurt, Ken, Kevin and Greg on the guys’ boat, Ada, a 43′ Beneteau. This is our fourth trip to the BVI, each time coming back to charter from ProValor Charters, well-run by Jim Gulczynski & Cecilia Donegan.
We all flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico and met up. The next morning we headed to Tortola and the boat fun began.
Our island hopping route, more or less:
Our boat, Forever Young, is on the right in this shot, and the guys’ boat, Ada, is on the left. This shot is from Little Harbour on Jost Van Dyke.
I brought my new big-girl camera, equipped with polarizing filters for the lenses. I was excited to try it out. It seems to have worked, the blues and greens in some of these shots are nearly as amazing as the real thing. I took way too many pictures to upload here, but here are a mess of my favorite shots.
Day 1: Fat Hogs Bay, Tortola
So it begins….
Day 2: Tortola – Indians – Little Harbor, Jost Van Dyke
The BVI Spring Regatta was underway the first few days we were there. We had front row seats.
One of the races literally sailed through the mooring ball field at The Indians just off our stern. We we had stopped there to snorkel for the afternoon.
We sailed to Jost:
We caught a ball for the night in Little Harbour. This is a shot looking towards Tortola. Lobster at Abe’s for dinner!
Day 3: Little Harbour – White Bay – Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke
We sailed into White Bay, and snorkeled the reef. While we were doing that, a 40′ cat hit the reef just a few feet away from us, leaving bits of its hull floating to shore (!)
After some painkillers at Soggy Dollar bar, we headed to Great Harbour for the night.
12’s representing at Foxy’s:
Day 4: Jost – Key Bay, Peter Island
We sailed to Peter Island to a bay that we had anchored in overnight 2 trips ago. The weather permitted us to do it again this trip. We had the place to ourselves.
This is a shot looking east from Key Bay, Key Cay to the right, more of Peter Island in the background.
Glorious sunsets. St John USVI in the background of this shot:
And yet another:
Goodnight, Forever Young:
I saw the Southern Cross constellation overnight. It was due south from us, just above Norman Island – I didn’t get a photo, but my SkyGuide app image will give you an idea of what I saw:
Day 5: Peter Island – Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda
We enjoyed a long sail up to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, and caught a ball in Leverick Bay. Our refrigerator had died on us, so we had to toss some of our provisions. But the repair guy was quickly on the boat and had us back in business in very short order.
We went ashore to Kurt’s friend’s villa overlooking Leverick Bay for dinner. The food and the views were divine.
A shot on the way to Virgin Gorda:
On a mooring ball in Leverick Bay, looking out through the Mosquito cut at a clipper sailing by:
Views from the villa:
Day 6: Leverick – The Baths – Cooper Island
Heading out of North Sound, Ada is right behind us; Leverick Bay is in the background:
Going by Mosquito Point:
Rain in the distance outside North Sound:
We got a ball at The Baths and dinghied ashore. It was as beautiful as ever, but we encountered just way too many people inside along the trail (with tour guides) – more than I have ever seen before.
Then we motored on over to Cooper for the night. Ada had kindly saved us a ball. We went snorkeling at Cistern point:
Painkillers, bougainvilla and critters ashore at Cooper Island Beach Club:
And, the unbeatable sunset views looking out over Tortola:
Day 7: Cooper – Fat Hogs – The Caves – The Bight, Norman Island
We sailed on the outside of Norman to The Caves for a snorkel, then caught a ball in The Bight on Norman Island for the night. Dinner ashore at the Pirate’s Bight.
Somewhere in the Atlantic:
The Indians and Pelican Island from the Bight:
In the Bight for the night, Treasure point to the right:
Day 8: Norman – Sandy Cay – Diamond Cay & Little Jost Van Dyke
We sailed to Sandy Cay for lunch and a trip ashore. We anchored first, and then saw that they now have mooring balls – they didn’t the last time we were here.
Then we got the next to last ball in front of Foxy’s Taboo at Diamond Cay. Little Jost was just to our port:
I caught a rare not-blurry-shot from the boat of the sliver moon and Mercury below it to the right, just barely visible over the hill of Jost:
Day 9: Little Jost – Monkey Point, Guana Island – Tortola
The next morning we walked ashore to the Bubbly Pool.
Mangroves in the bay:
Waves breaking on the rocks:
Above the Bubbly Pool:
And the Bubbly Pool in action:
We decided to head east to complete a circumnavigation of Tortola for this trip. We stopped at Monkey Point on Guana Island, and then headed back to the marina for the night.
One last look over at Cooper, on our way into Fat Hog’s Bay:
Day 10: Homeward bound
Up early and headed home. Flying over Trellis Bay. Goodbye BVI!
Looking to the east at Virgin Gorda with the Dogs in the foreground:
Now I’m back home with great memories, lots of pictures, and these treasures:
Yikes, my last post was on March 3rd! I’ve been a tad busy. Since then, life has happened. I have been taking pictures along the way. Let me bring you up to speed:
– My 6th blogoversary! Six years ago I started sheila365.com. I’m not as diligent as I used to be about posting, and my posts have gotten less photo-worthy, but I do enjoy it. How time flies!
– Celebrated a friend’s birthday – this shot is from the lobby of the Hotel Van Zandt downtown. I accidentally left my Harvard Business School umbrella in the restaurant there. Oh well. :(
– Lots of little birdies out back. I think I have 9 feeders out, altogether. I love watching them.
– We have been dealing with battery problems on Nirvana for the last couple of months. Ok, I’m using the “Royal We” there. Short story: our batteries crapped out on the boat. The charger was apparantly kaput as well. Monte has been researching chargers and new deep-cycle house batteries to keep our floating second home powered while we’re not hooked up to shore power. We have since ordered, and Monte has installed, all the various bits and pieces, and this is a snapshot of the voltmeter on the control panel down below after the installation. All is well! I think we will be anchoring out before too long!
– Work took me to Raleigh all last week. I have been taking advantage of the Austin Library’s on-line e-book and audio-book collection that can be easily checked out via the accompanying Overdrive app. On this trip, I checked out the audio book for Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley – a story about a roadtrip he took across the country with his poodle in the early 60’s. The jury is still out on how much I enjoyed it.
– It rained in Raleigh. Monte’s birthday also happened while I was there – the first that I haven’t been home to celebrate with him.
– I flew home home on Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!
– And then it rained some more in Austin. After MANY years of drought, and a little help from last year’s El Niñ0, Lake Travis is officially full now at 681′ above mean sea level. Hallelujah!
– Once I was back in Austin, we celebrated Monte’s birthday at a favorite restaurant. Baked Alaska for dessert!
– And, this weekend we worked in the yard and welcomed in the first day of spring!
Now you are up to date.