Thursday, January 25, 2007

Washington Park Panorama

Back at the end of December, I climbed a hill that on my topographical survey map is called "Matado di Pasku." It was about a two mile hike from the main park road to the top of the hill and back. Along the way, I saw the cool rocks and the calabash pods that I've already mentioned in previous posts.

I think that I might have had a better view from the slightly higher hill to the North, (called Seru Largu on the map) but since I'm in the process of climbing all the significant hills, this one needed climbing. I wasn't disappointed by the view because it was more hazy back in the summer, when I climbed Seru Largu (twice.)

Here is a panorama of what one can see from the top of Matado di Pasku. It covers the full 360 degrees. If you have a broadband connection check out this 1.4 meg version of this picture. You can see a lot of detail if your browser doesn't re-size it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Favorite Month

The second half of January is my favorite time for being out and about on Bonaire.

Here are some graphs from my recent bike rides in Washington Park. You can click on them to be able to see them in a larger form I think.

The top plot shows elevation vs. distance for my ride last Saturday. I took the roads marked as the "short route" in to Slagbaai and my own "medium route" that goes along a sandy stream bed on the way back to the park entrance.

The second plot is from a couple weeks ago and shows the elevation vs. distance along the marked "long route" into the park and the marked "short route" out. You can see that the long route into the park, which runs along the coast is much less hilly then the short route in, which goes by Brandaris.

This is my favorite time of the year here on Bonaire. The air is fresh, (some would even say cool) the sky is a bright blue in between the puffy clouds, and the vegetation is green and flowery from the frequent showers.

We see the most frequent green flashes at sunset during this time of the year too, and I recently mentioned the rainbows in another post.

Speaking of rainbows, I saw a nice one when I rode my bike from Hato to Washington Park and back last Saturday. It was sprinkling rain at our house, when I left, but I quickly rode out from under the raincloud and had dry roads the rest of the morning. There was a nice rainbow visible on my left as I climbed the dirt roads towards Rincon. The ride to, through, and back from Washington Park takes about three and a quarter to three and a half hours. It wasn't exactly cool in the park, but the air was fresh, instead of stifling, and I didn't have to worry about overheating on the hills. In other words, it was great.

I came across three different groups of pigs! in the Park, in addition to the usual creatures. One group of three big porkers was wallowing around in a big mud puddle, just like the stereotypes. The dirt roads in the park are mostly packed down really hard right now, like brown colored asphalt, and that makes for easy (but bumpy) pedaling. Many of the dirt roads on the island could be carefully ridden with a road bike right now. A lightweight but sturdy cyclocross bike would be ideal. I'd be seriously tempted, except that it would upset the carefully balanced bikes / dogs ratio that preserves marital harmony in the Swanson home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Funny Questions

I was just browsing the very nice web site of Bonaire Dive and Adventure, located right across the traffic circle from our TWR offices and studios here on Bonaire. It was great to see pictures and bios of my long time biking buddies James Thode and Henk Sanders on there.

What really made my day was something on their FAQ page. They've listed some of the funniest questions they've been asked. Here are a couple of them. To see the rest, you'll have to go to their site. It's worth it.

Here are the top questions, courtesy of Bonaire Dive and Adventure:

Where is the bridge to Klein Bonaire?

Is there water all the way around this island?

If I go deep enough, can I see under the island?

Is it going to rain during the week I am scheduled to be on Bonaire?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


We've been getting rain showers just before or after sunrise almost every morning lately. In fact a rain cloud may suddenly appear and dump on a small area of Bonaire at almost any time of the day. Then it is sunny and clear again.

I was all set to head out on a bike ride after work yesterday when I looked out the second story window in the office and saw it pouring rain right were I was going to ride. I pretty much don't ride in the rain any more. Partly because the nice Bonaire weather has spoiled me and also because the dirt roads get really mucky when they are wet.

There have been lots of rainbows too. The best rainbows are early in the morning and late in the afternoon, when the sun is low on the horizon. I caught this one just after sunrise on Monday. In the bottom picture, you can just barely see a second rainbow to the left of the main one.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Washington Park road charts

I rode around the main loop in Washington Park this morning. I took the long route in to Slagbaai and the short route back to the gate. I didn't take my camera and resisted the urge to climb any hills. So I ended up with a nice plot of the road on my GPS receiver.

I don't think I should show you the plot of my path on my topographical survey map, because it is probably copyrighted, but here are some charts showing plots of speed/distance, and altitude/distance.

Back to Bonaire

Nathalie Willem, who has living in Canada for a number of years, was back home to get married this past week. Friends and family also came streaming back to Bonaire from far and wide.
Here is a picture of Sandra with Joann Huntington and Allison Hill who have been having a great time checking out their old stomping grounds.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just Kidding, I mean Lambing

Sometimes it is hard to tell the sheep from the goats here on Bonaire, but it was definitely a sheep that Sandra assisted the other morning.

Another sheep was butting in after the first lamb was born, so Sandra whisked it off while its twin made its appearance. At last report, mom and lambs were doing fine.
A big thank you goes to Leila for the photos.

Calabash Lane

A section of one of the trails I recently hiked on in Washington Park is littered with Calabash gourds. There are a couple trees on the hillsides and the gourds seem to gravitate down to the trail in the valley.

I did a little reading on the Calabash trees and found out that they are mainly pollinated by bats. The gourds are used to make maracas, and the pulp has been used to treat colds in humans and ticks in dogs. The seeds are used to make a sweet called "carabobo", which I don't think I've ever tried.