Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moon Pleiades and Mercury

A teeny tiny crescent shaped Moon was right next to the Pleiades star cluster Monday evening. It was also near the planet Mercury. The Pleiades and the Moon looked especially pretty in binoculars. In the photo above, you can see the Pleiades close to the lower left of the moon. Mercury is just below the dark cloud further to the lower left of the moon.
These photos are 100% crops that provide closeups of the moon and the Pleiades. The photo above was taken later than the photo below. So the sky is darker and the moon has moved a little bit relative to the Pleiades.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Site for New IBC Building

The International Bible Church of Bonaire has been meeting at the auditorium of the High School for a year now. This has worked out very very well for the Sunday church services, but the church would like a home of its own to facilitate a number of other planned community activities and ministries.

The IBC now has a nice corner lot about one block north of the Trans World Radio building where it used to hold its services and activities back in the day. In the photo below, you can see the old church location on the right, and an arrow pointing the sign at the new location.
It is a corner lot one block in from the main road along "hotel row" and more or less opposite the entrance to the Sand Dollar condo complex. There is a lot of construction going on in this area of Bonaire these days.

The land has been cleared in preparation for work on the foundation.

New IBC Building is on Bonaire

The steel beams and roof of the new International Bible Church of Bonaire building have arrived here on Bonaire. The trailer had two buildings on it, one for the IBC and one for the Green Label nursery.
Johan helps load the beams onto the Gradall forklift, while Walt supervises from the ground level.
Trans World Radio employed the same Gradall to install a satellite dish a year or so ago. I've seen it busy hauling cement loads to the second floor level at building sites too, so it is a versatile machine indeed.
The steel frame and roof will be augmented by block walls. You can see some design drawings of the new church building here. By the time the duty and local fees are paid, we'll probably have about NAf 12,000 left in our building fund. The cost estimates for pouring the footers/foundation and stacking the building total about NAf 50,000, so the church needs to do some more fund raising over the next few months.

Poo Post Update

Does anyone remember my chicken manure post from last August? Well, it's time for an update. The International Bible Church has raised around two thousand guilders for its new church building by filling and selling sacks of chicken manure. Chicken manure is reputed to be an excellent natural fertilizer. Each bag sold generates enough revenue to purchase one block for a wall in the new church building. That giant mound in the middle of the picture is the raw material, kindly donated by the Puntu Blanku chicken farm.
Above we see Walt Bensen and Wai Man Chan (China Nobo) in action.

Pastor Baran swings a mean pick. The well aged chicken manure is pretty easy to shovel, and doesn't smell that bad at all.
A number of the young people from the church have been key players in the chicken poo production process.

Cool Bike Ride Logger

I've been playing with the very cool MapMyRun online application this week. My brother, Bruce, told me about it. It looks like it is going to be quite useful for sharing info. about bike rides and hikes here on Bonaire. I'm toying with starting a new Blog where I can write a description about a given ride or hike and then include a link to the MapMyRun page that shows the track.

There are two things about MapMyRun that I find most interesting. The first thing is that you can generate an onscreen route for a ride or hike by clicking on lots of places on an onscreen map. I tried this with the Yatu Baku race loop and got just as good a result as I got when I imported a track from my GPS. So, I'm thinking that when I find an old road or trail on the satellite images of Bonaire, I might be able to create a proposed ride or hike, load it into my GPS, and then go out and try to find it in real life. There are some features that stand out on the satellite images that have proven to be pretty much invisible when you are out in the field. So this could be a big help.

The other cool thing about MapMyRun is that you can click on the link to one of my rides and see it on a fully scalable Google Earth satellite image of Bonaire. And you don't need to have the Google Earth software loaded on your computer as far as I can tell. For a while, back in the day, Google Earth wouldn't run on one friend's computer, which made it really hard to share info about bike rides with him. We've often been stuck with sending screen shot images of the rides. That isn't very useful, because the real fun happens with you zoom in on the map so you can see exactly where the path goes relative to the various, bushes, trees, and rock formations.

So please try out one of the links below and let me know if it works or not and how well. You'll need to know that the default view is of a road map, which for Bonaire looks like a big empty white blob. There is a clickable drop down box at the top middle of the map screen where you can select "Satellite Map" then you can see the track projected on Bonaire in all its glory. Also, at the top right corner of the map is a box where you can change the display from miles to kilometers, or vice versa. I really like seeing the accumulated mileage of the ride superimposed on the map.

Here is a link to the road ride I did this morning.
Here is one to a quickie mtn. bike ride I did Fri. am before work.
Here is a link to the Yatu Baku race loop.
Oh, and here is the ride I do most often after work in the evening. We call it the barf loop.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Singletrack

When Miguel, of Bonaire Wellness Connections, went to a Mtn. Bike race on Curacao last year, he discovered that the race course was much more technical than our typical Bonaire trails. So, ever since then, he has been on a mission to find more technical riding here on Bonaire. These pictures are of a new single track section that Miguel has added to the old Yatu Baku race loop. The advanced riders will tackle the new trail section, but the rest of the riders will stick to the dirt roads of the mostly entry level race course.
This new trail is reasonably easy to ride, compared to some I've seen. Sections of the rocky Cannonball Trail, near Ringwood, NJ, come to mind. But the Bonaire trail has its own unique "charms."

The defining features of this trail are the fields of Tuna cactus and the thorny Cossie trees along the path. Even fairly minor rider errors will almost certainly result in some serious scrapes and painful punctures from those nasty barbed spines. Miguel calls these wounds, "souvenirs," proving that he is indeed the proverbial, ever optimistic, personal trainer.

Bike Race on May 3

Bonaire Wellness is holding a Mtn. Bike race on May 3, here on Bonaire. The race loop is one that has been used for a number of races over the years. It is in the area known as Yatu Baku and is about 4.3 km long. It is pretty easy, all in all, and makes it fun for riders of all levels of ability to participate. We have another race loop up north that will chew up and spit out an unprepared rider. My experience over the years with this loop is that recreational riders can get around the course in about 12:30. I think race pace for me was around 10:30 back in the day. The really fast racers did it in under 10 minutes a lap! The start of the race loop is pictured above. Most of the course is nice wide dirt roads that are fun to ride. Although I have to admit that at a full-on race pace, even a gentle uphill road like this one eventually becomes killer painful. I remember the start of my first race here. I noticed that the serious racers were lining up at the start of the course in the same rear cog as I was. But they were on the big ring in front, and I had trained for the race with the middle chain ring. I knew I was in beeeg beeeg trouble.
Above we see a couple stragglers approaching the finish area of the race loop on a training ride. They claimed to have suffered a flat tire. hmmm.... Me, I just stop to take pictures when I'm tired, ha-ha.
The first half of the loop is gentle uphill and the last half is downwind, downhill and fast. There is a loose rocky climb in the middle of the course. Usually I can zoom up this, but sometimes I end up looking like a real dork, and crash when I can't unclip from the pedals in time.

Tower Painting

We're painting two towers this year. These pictures show the guys on tower one. (you'll have to click on the thumbnail to be able to see the guys partway up the tower) As I write this, tower one is all finished and they are hard at work on tower four. The guys have figured out that I can get a good picture of them from the ground, so they were ready for me when they saw me out in the field with my telephoto lens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend on Bonaire

Easter weekend has brought some great weather to Bonaire. It's still a little cloudy at night, but the days are sunny, breezy, and it's great to be out and about. I got in a long bike ride early on Good Friday morning. We had an exceptional mtn. bike ride Saturday afternoon, exploring some overgrown roads and trails that we had never been on before.

The International Bible Church held its annual Easter sunrise service on Seru Largu this morning. It rained on me when I started out driving from home around 5:15, but it was dry up on the hill. I kept the PA system gear inside the car in case of more rain, but that turned out not to be necessary. If you click on the picture to make it larger, you can see the sun peaking up over the horizon.

After the sunrise service, we all headed to the auditorium at the high school, enjoyed a delicious potluck breakfast, and then the normal Sunday AM church service at 9 am.
I hope to get in another long bike ride first thing Monday morning. Easter Monday is a holiday here, and it usually a perfect no traffic road bike riding day.