Monday, February 28, 2005

Flamingos all over the place

The weather is starting to change some. It is more sunny and windy and not so rainy as it has been the last few months. All of the low areas and salinas are still flooded though, and flamingos can be found in many of them. There are still flamingos hanging out in the stink pond behind the TWR offices and in the flooded areas between town and the airport. They can also be found in the salt flats along the road from Bel Nem to Sorobon.

As you drive or ride into Washington Park, this salt flat is on the right near the entrance. It is usually dry and dusty all summer. You can click on the picture to see the flamingos.

These are the salt flats near Pos Mangel in Washington Park. The flats are starting to dry out, but the flamingos are still happy to be there. You'll need to click on the picture to see them.Posted by Hello

Here is a web page that has interesting information about the park and what you can see there. Here is another page that has a cool clickable map of the park.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Great Washington Park Group Ride

A bunch of us old geezers and a few Dutch younguns did another group ride at Washington Park last Saturday. It was breezy and cool, for Bonaire that is. The temps were probably in the low 80s. The park was busy with bird counters (the annual Lora census) and goat wranglers. We saw a rainbow at the start but didn't actually get rained on ourselves. The dirt roads were hard packed but bumpy.

Here is our happy group near the start of the ride. You can click on the pix to see them bigger.

February is the perfect Bonaire month for outdoor activities. It is starting to dry out a little, the wind is picking up a little, but it's not too hot yet and the Sahara dust hasn't started blowing our way from Africa, so the skies are nice and clear.

Here we see, from left to right, TWR missionary Jon Savage, and Laura and George De Salvo, of the "Bonaire Reporter." Bonaire lovers can get an online subscription to the Bonaire Reporter. We have one, 'cause we don't always get to pick up one of the print versions.

There is an amazing large shady patio at Slag Bai now. You've got the gorgeous water on one side, flamingoes on the other side, and a nice cool breeze this time of the year, even at 11 am.

One could just hang out here for hours.

I didn't 'cause I still had a long ride home. It takes about 45 minutes to get back to the park gate from here, and another 40 to 45 to ride back home from the park to Hato. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Trip to Curacao

We flew to Curacao on Valentines day to visit a doctor. We'll be back for some tests in the near future. Had a great Valentines day lunch at Pizza Hut and visited a warehouse type store. Big stuff after one has been on Bonaire for a couple years.

We flew on a Divi Divi puddle jumper plane. There is a great picture of it on their web page. They do a great job with charter and commuter flights. They fly low and slow, so taking a cue from my father in law' s success last summer, I brought a camera along and took lots of photos. Next time I'll bring the camera as well as a cloth to clean the plane's window!

Here is a view of our neighborhood. The squiggly black arrow points to our house. Posted by Hello

Notice the clear aqua water and the way the bottom drops off to the deep blue depths quite close to the shore.

You can also see the water and electric plant that had the fire recently just below the middle of the arrow. The big generators are still out of commission, so it is nice and quiet at our house, but we still have the occasional rolling blackout.

The majority of the houses in this picture weren't there when I first came to Bonaire in 1975. In fact, the Dutch marines were having war games in the area just above the arrow my first night on the island. Woke me up about 2am, scared to death and wondering just what sort of third world disaster I had gotten myself into. Then I looked out the window and saw the Lowell kids out in the street watching the action and decided that, appearances to the contrary, it must be safe. I found out the next day what was going on.

The marines and their gear proved to be great "kid magnets." It was amusing to see the soldiers try to cope with finding their carefully camouflaged machine gun nest - ambush site swarming with curious kids.

College Rankings

Yahooie, the Princeton Review college rankings for this year are out. Now that our son, Richard, will be graduating from Bucknell in three months, it is fun to think back to those good old college selection days.
Wheaton College turns up on a number of the lists, including the number one rank for best food.
There is a box towards the bottom of the page where you can enter your favorite college and see if it turned up on any on the lists.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Rolling Blackouts

Well, Sandra and I are going to Curacao on Monday to see a Neurologist, but that is not the kind of blackouts I'm referring to.

After the big fire last weekend, there isn't quite enough generating capacity on the island to meet the demand, so we are having four hour long power outages in the different neighborhoods of Bonaire on a rotating basis. Our power in Hato was off from 8 pm to midnight on Tuesday, from 4 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday, from noon to 4pm on Thursday, and from 8 am to noon today.

The TWR studios and offices are on a different schedule, but it is predictable, which helps a lot. Long time readers of my blog will remember my posts about our new standby generator at the studios. (see the January 2004 link in the archives list on the right margin of this page)
I'm happy to report that it is working well, and it is saving the day right now.

WEB, the power company has done a good job of making sure our big AM transmitter has power when we need it for our international broadcasts. We are very thankful for that. Our local FM transmitter, on the other hand, is off for four hours each day, on the same schedule as our home in Hato.

Some of you who have lived on Bonaire may remember Sigfried Quarton, an Engineer with the power company. He went in to work when the fire started at 4:30 am and didn't get back home until 3:30 am the next day. Then, after a short sleep, he was out again. His wife says she has hardly seen him this week. So the WEB guys are working hard on fixing things.

A big standby generator or two arrived from Curacao on Wed. night and they hope to have them online by the end of the weekend. (the CAT genset I saw filled a whole 40 foot container - so it's a wee bit bigger than the one we installed last year)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Picture of fire damage at WEB

You can see the fire damage on the walls of the WEB diesel building.
Click on the picture to make it bigger. Posted by Hello

We just got our power back on about 15 minutes ago. (7:35 pm) so we are very happy for that. The last I heard, no one knew much about how the fire started. We do think that supplying the island's full power needs is going to be iffy with just the plant out by TWR in operation. But if we have power all night, and our fridge and freezer get cold again, we'll be content, even if they have to do the rolling blackout thing from time to time.

Big Fire on Bonaire

There was a BIG fire a the WEB power generating plant right next to our house early this morning. You could see the flames from "all over the island." Bob Thorp saw them quite easily from the TWR studios at any rate.

I woke up when our power went off around 4:45 am because the UPS that we have our computer plugged into started beeping. The crazy thing is that I didn't notice the fire, because there are two big water storage tanks between our house and the power plant, and apparently they blocked everything. I did hear the heavy equipment roaring around over there etc. They brought over some of the monster sized foam equipped fire trucks from the airport to put out the fire.

So, we have no power at home and there is no power in Belnem and at the transmitter site. So we are thankful that they place didn't blow up and level our house, but are praying that they will be able to get the power restored, especially to our transmitters, soon.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Brandaris Climb 2005

Jon and Debbi Savage and I climbed Brandaris in Washington Park yesterday. I took a GPS with me and measured about 1.2 miles of hiking and about 700 feet of vertical from the base to the top. The summit is about 780 feet above sea level.

It was fairly cloudy and there was a light breeze, which made for wonderful climbing conditions. The heat in Washington Park can be brutal some times of the year.

Here is the beginning of the path to the top. You can tell we've had a lot of rain this year. The trail has become quite eroded and the vegetation is almost lush.

You can click the picture to see it bigger.

Looking towards Playa Funchi from the top. Posted by Hello

I've posted four more pictures from yesterday's trip to the park in my club photo site. The first six pix in the album are from 2005. The rest date back as far as 2002.

You can click the club photo thumbnails to enlarge the pictures, and then click again on the pictures to see them at full 1024x768 resolution.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

WEB Based Internet Chat

Because of security issues, TWR has decided to remove all Instant Messaging apps from the computers and workstations within TWR offices etc.

If we want to IM we'll need to use web versions of the IM services. They run as java apps on the local machines and should be safer. These web apps seem to work well, once you tell XP to not block popups on these particular web sites.

These web based IM sites are also useful if you are temporarily using a different computer that doesn't have your favorite IM client installed on it. Pretty cool.

Here are links to the web versions of the three main chat systems.

Yahoo!: - link at bottom of page for Launch Web Messenger



Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More Flamingos

Here is another picture from up on the lighthouse, looking north west. In haze in the distance you can see the hills at the other end of the island. Also on the horizon are the salt piles from the salt company, and in the middle is a big pink blob consisting of zillions of flamingos. You should probable click on this picture to make it bigger to see the flamingos. Posted by Hello