Friday, September 29, 2006


Last Saturday, I was just getting over being sick for a week, so I didn't do my customary long bike ride around the island or Washington Park trek.

But I rode my trusty mtn. bike to a dirt road leading to a small hill which is sort of hidden south of a big hill, that is to the south of Dos Pos.

The dirt road turned into a trail that eventually petered out in a thorn bush thicket. Once I got home, I plotted my GPS path on my trusty geological survey map and saw that I was really close to connecting to another path that Sandra and I had been on a week earlier. I'll try again sometime - without the bike.

There were a some great views looking back towards Gotomeer. Here is one of them. The flamingos were hanging out right by the road that day. I also assembled some panoramas that aren't quite ready to post yet.

Supper Time

The puppy is starting to lose his "ferret face" and is looking like a real dog. Mealtimes are still the favorite part of his day, and worthy of his undivided attention.

Maybe he could get a job doing dogfood commercials. I'm sure he'd scarf down just about anything we might pour into his bowl.

TWR Bonaire - Then and Now

When I first came to Bonaire in 1975, Trans World Radio had a huge staff, from 17 countries, that wrote and recorded our radio programs, and then corresponded with our listeners. Now, thanks to the internet and ftp, and studio and transmitter automation systems, most of these people have scattered back to their countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

We still have a large multi-national team involved in the TWR broadcasts from Bonaire, but they are just not here on Bonaire anymore.

Here is a picture of our Bonaire staff last Christmas. Two of the families pictured here are gone, but two more have come to replace them. We'll need to take an updated picture soon I guess. Posted by Picasa

Now that the people who actually communicate directly with our listeners are no longer here on Bonaire, we sometimes feel out of touch with audiences. But here is an encouraging response from a woman in Venezuela that found its way to us.

I congratulate you for so great a work that you carry out in these times that are so difficult.... I am Venezuelan and although I accepted Jesus recently in my life, I have listened to TWR for a long time. These days I have been very happy to get rid of the chains that had me tied and hindered me from the joy of the freedom that Jesus gives us. Now my challenge is that I have very little biblical knowledge and the reading of the Bible is a little complex. However I ask God for much wisdom to understand it and the way to follow his steps. I would like to request that you pray for me because I only want to live for Jesus... Thank you...

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Bonaire from the Air

Ernie Franke did some more flying around Bonaire a week or two ago. His son snapped lots of pictures .

Here is a view of the reef at Sorobon, and the White Hole on the ocean side of the reef. We have also spent many enjoyable hours snorkeling on the inside of the reef line. Those dark patches are all shallow coral areas, and home to zillions of small fish.

I like this view of the South corner, between Red Slave and the lighthouse. You can see how much coral there is as soon as you start to go around the curve towards the east side of the island. The current can be quite strong in this area, but it is worth exploring whenever the wind and waves calm down. I also like the way that you can see the ancient rectangular salt pans on the inside of the road.

Here's a picture that shows the nice shallow snorkeling at Old Blue. I love the way that you can see Rincon on the other side of the ridge at the top of the picture. It helps me figure out where things are located with respect to each other. In the full size original picture, I was able to spot a few of the dirt roads that we cycle on regularly. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Seems like I came down with some sort of virus type thing around noon on Thursday, so I've been just hanging around the house reading and resting this weekend.

I was hoping to catch up on processing some of the pictures I have on my hard drive while I recuperated. It turns out that I haven't really felt up to it, but here are two Lora pictures I took recently.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Radio Reception Survey in Guyana

TWR missionary, Ernie Franke, recently spent a week in Guyana, visiting some of our listeners and checking out how well our programming was getting into that country. We are planning to add Spanish programming to our evening schedule, but want to be sure not to mess up our English programming in the process. All the buildings are constructed of wood in Guyana. Sort of reminds me of Ocean Grove, NJ.

Here are pictures of some of the people who have corresponded with our station on Bonaire.

Ernie was really happy to be able to meet them in person.

In case you are wondering, Ernie brings that bear with him all over the world.

Ernie found that in the evening, there are only two AM radio stations across the whole the radio dial. That may be why we get more letters from Guyana than from any other country/island.

The good news is that our radio signals seem to be doing exctly what the computer models say they should be doing. Ernie is now studying the radio reception situation in Venezuela. We may be able to make some programming changes in October, but the substantial Spanish language changes may not be ready 'till the beginning of 2007.Posted by Picasa


We saw a nice Pelican in Washington park on Saturday and got this action photo.

They had heavy rains in the park last week and the roads are really rugged now. Fortunately, our trusty Samurai was up to the task.

The 3 Caballeros

I recently mentioned that TWR missionary kid, David DeLima, dropped by the office while visiting Bonaire. He also attended the Sunday morning service at the IBCB (International Bible Church of Bonaire) and re-connected with some Bonaire buddies from his growing up years.

From left to right: Tom Francees, David Romo, David DeLima.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Sandra and I went to Washington Park Saturday am and climbed a nice 550 ft. hill. We took the first dirt road/path on the left side just after we passed the road to Playa Benje on the right.

I shot 130 pictures in the park today. Don't worry, I'll probably only post a few of them.

Here are two of a Warawara that cruised by (below) us, riding the thermals between our hill and the ridge just to our north.


It was pretty clear on Saturday morning... not as clear as last week when we could easily see Curacao, but the sky was still clear enough that the setting moon caught my eye.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lagoon Nebula

I recently posted a picture of a big swath of the Milky Way. Here is a close-up picture of a teeny section of that big picture.

I took it back on June 24 and didn't post it because the stars aren't exactly round, and I hope to get a better shot someday. But I think I may go ahead and post some closeup images from that big star field, even if they aren't perfect. It is interesting to see the details hiding in the wide field view.

The Triffid nebula (M20/21) is at the top of the close-up photo. The Lagoon Nebula (M8) is a little below center. The yellow fuzzy thing along the bottom, a little to the left of the Lagoon Nebula is NCG 6544.

The whole picture shows roughly 4 degrees by 3 degrees of the sky and is roughly shown by the area that I boxed in yellow in a copy of the wide field photo that I re-posted here.

If you want to see a 1024x768 version of this picture, click here.


David deLima dropped in at the TWR office earlier this week. It was great to see him again. He visited his old stomping grounds here on Bonaire about four years ago as well. Davi spent about the first 17 years of his life here on Bonaire. We got our scuba diving certification together back in 1979 or so. A bunch of us Hato-ites would pile in my dune buggy each day and head to the Flamingo Beach Hotel, where Linda introduced us to the underwater world. Our first open water dive was right about where the Helma Hooker is now.

I took this picture in front of one the panels on our "memory lane" display along the studio stairs. If you click this link to see a full 3000x2000 pixel version of this picture (and you have your browser set to NOT resize the photo) you can scroll around the image and see Davi with his family back when he was a teen. He's in the photo with the yellow band around it.

Dog Days of September

Well the September doldrums are here in all their glory. The tradewinds have fizzled down to a fitful breeze that is sometimes from the East, sometimes from the South, and sometimes completely absent.

Its all due to the disturbed weather in the southern Atlantic and in the Caribbean at the peak of the hurricane season.

It is seriously hot outside right now and those that can, take shelter in the shade.

On the other hand, this is the prime time of the year for diving on the normally rough East side of Bonaire. Berni Lusse has been out across the reef at Sorobon twice this past week. I don't dive any more, but maybe we'll break out the ol' snorkel and fins this weekend and head out there too. We ALWAYS see amazing stuff out there.

This is also the Tower Painting time of year. We try to paint one of our four antenna towers each year in a regular rotation. Rich West just climbed up one of them this week and reports that the rains have washed all the salt coating off of the towers. So they are in perfect condition to scrape and paint.

The low winds this time of year also help the guys get a nice even coat when applying the paint to the towers. If it is too windy, the wet paint migrates around to the back side of the tower legs before it has a chance to dry.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Summer Milky Way

Sandra and I went to the South end of Bonaire to look at the stars back on Monday, August 28. The sky was pretty clear and there were no clouds. The moon set at 9:46 or so. I took the picture below at 10:45. We stayed out there until about midnight and saw lots of meteors, and many stars on the southern horizon that I didn't recognize. When I got home, I looked at my star charts and found that we had seen the constellations: Phoenix, Tucana, and Pavo.

I've noticed that my pictures look quite different on different monitors. This grey scale chart will let you see if your monitor can show all the shades of gray between black black and white white. You should be able to see all 11 vertical bars in each of the two big rectangles.

If you are in a darkened room, try to adjust the brightness control on your monitor so you can just barely detect the grey diagonal stripes in the middle black rectangle.

If you can just see the stripes, and if the white and grey bars really look white and gray without any color tints, then you'll be able to see pretty much what I'm seeing in the astro photos below. You can click on the chart and photos to see them bigger.

Here is a shot of the summer Milky Way. I flipped it so that it looks like it would when you first see it coming up in the south east. It is a stack of two three minute long exposures shot at F2.8 and ISO 400.

By the way, Blogger doesn't always display the full size pictures, even when you click on these thumbnails to get a bigger version. If you are into stars enough to want to see a full screen version of this photo, just click on this link.

Here is a slightly smaller version of the same picture with some constellation lines drawn in, so you can figure out what you are seeing... if you know your way around the sky. That's the stinger on the tail of the scorpion on the right edge, the Sagitarius "teapot" towards the lower right corner, and Scutum at the lower left. This part of the sky is chock and block full of interesting things to look at with a telescope, or even binoculars.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mystery Egret

We saw this Egret at Boca Slagbaai. Posted by Picasa

We looked in our bird book and discovered that it is not a Cattle Egret and not a Snowy Egret, but we couldn't find out what it actually is.

Heron spotted

In addition to the usual flamingos and pelicans, we saw some other birds at Boca Slagbaai. Here is a Tri-colored Heron doing some feeding in the shallows.

We also saw many many Loras, some Prikichis, and a hawk in the air, and a hawk on the ground, but didn't get any photos.

Washington Park Hike

Saturday, September 2, dawned on Bonaire with clear skies. We could see Curacao quite easily for example. So Sandra and I drove into Washington Park with the goal of climbing Seru Mangel, to see what we could see from up there. We ended up climbing a smaller hill across the valley from Seru Mangel so we could scout the best way to get up Seru Mangel. The vegetation on Bonaire is so thorny that picking a clear path is essential.

The biggest surprise of the day was when we met another hiker way out in the middle of nowhere. That was great!

In addition to the pictures posted here, I have two panoramic photos that are related to Saturday's hike. We've been having problems with the Club Photo site, so I've moved these panoramas to a different hosting site that hopefully will work better. You'll still need to have your web browser's preferances set to not automatically resize the photos if you want to get the full effect of scrolling across the panorama.

The first panorama is an aerial photo that shows Boca Bartol, Seru Mangel, and the hill we climbed from the sea side. It was quite hazy the day I took this photo, so I'm hoping that we can get back in the air sometime when it is really clear, and get high quality photos. Washington Park is so hilly that your really need to be airborne to get the big picture, if you want to learn the lay of the land. In fact, it would really make my day if Google Earth were ever to add high resolution coverage of the north end of Bonaire, to go with their amazing comverage of the south half of the island.

I put some numbers on the panorama to identify a few features. #1 is Seru Mangel, #2 is the 222 foot high hill we climbed, and #3 is another hill that we want to climb in the near future. (In fact, Sandra and I climbed hill #3 on September 9) I've climbed and recorded GPS waypoints on most of the taller hills that you can see in this picture.

The second panorama is from the top of the hill we climbed and shows Boca Bartol from the inland side. I don't remember what the diving is like at Boca Bartol, but the snorkeling is above average for Bonaire, when the seas aren't too rough.

We hiked into the interior of the park on an old dirt road that connected with this dry stream bed, actually more like a dry river bed at this point.

This is a view of part of the river bed from on top of the hill we climbed. That is the spot from which we will begin our climb of Seru Mangel some day.

Here is a view looking back along the stream bed and valley, towards the main park road that we drove in on, which can be seen in the distance.

This is a close-up of the top of the hill that we climbed. We could walk right through that window like feature and see some great views. I also shot some pictures from on top of the rocks. Posted by Picasa

For some reason, it didn't occur to me until now that it might have been cool to frame some shots of the surrounding scenery using that window like feature . I guess we'll just have to climb that hill again some day. :)


The salt ponds near the entrance of Washington Park have all dried up. Many of the flamingos seem to have moved to the salt ponds by Slagbaai.

Look closely at the birds' necks. Some of them can twist themselves into pretzel shapes. Posted by Picasa

There were a lot of birds here so I snapped a pictures as quickly as I could as I panned across the scene, and assembled a wide screen view of the flamingo flock. It is on my club photo site. It is about 4300 x 680 pixels in size, so if you set your web browser to not resize the images, you can pan left to right across a full screen image. (assuming you have your screen set to 1024x768)