Monday morning saw a pair of boat dives to “Rappel” and “Something Special”, Monday afternoon I did a dive off the house reef before doing the Bioluminescence Dive that evening. Continue reading
We had our first dives of the trip on Sunday, after a brief re-orientation from Augusto, the head of Dive Operations at the resort. I did one dive in the morning, then took care of business, including renewing my driver’s license online, picking up some groceries, and renting a truck, and two in the afternoon: one early, with my roommate Mike, and one later with Ralph and Joe Quinnan as well. Continue reading
Today was the last day of diving. My flight leaves tomorrow at 3:30, so I wanted to be out of the water by 3.
Most of us had not yet taken all of our boat dives, so Paul was able to reserve a boat for two tanks this morning. The first site was Country Garden, to the north of the resort. Country Garden has a number of large coral outcroppings. Under one of them, the guide pointed out a very large sea lobster that put most of our New England lobsters to shame.
We had no boat dives booked today, so today was shore diving day.
The initial plan was to go to Salt Pier in the morning, do one dive there, and another dive also at the southern end of the island, and then figure out what to do in the afternoon. Mike and I were talking about doing Karpata, despite the fact that Paul had mentioned doing it Thursday morning.
Tuesday was a big boat day for us. We had a two tank boat dive for our group in the morning, and for the afternoon, several of us signed up for the afternoon boat dive.
This morning was our first day of boat diving.
Paul asked for “Rappel” as the first site. Like most of the sites here, it was named by Captain Don Stewart way back when. He did it as a shore dive, dropping a rope off the cliff and then rappelling down and back up again. For us, it was a boat dive. Continue reading
Today was the first day of diving for the half of the group that arrived through Houston yesterday. We had a brief re-orientation from Augusto, the manager of dive operations here; everyone in the group had been here before, so he just highlighted a couple of changes, and reminded us of the park rules. Then it was time to get in the water. Continue reading
This past weekend I took my first overnight trip on the FJR, back up to New Hampshire and the White Mountains. I’ve been wanting to take it on a longish trip, and leaf peeping seemed just the thing. Saturday, I followed the same basic route I’d done with the rental FJR, and Sunday, with more time available than I had last year, I took a trip on the Conway Scenic Railway, and did a little more puttering on the way back.
I left the house on Saturday, with a little light mist. When I came out of the O’Neill Tunnel, it was actively raining, but happily, I was wearing my overpants, which can handle a little light rain. By the time I reached the state border, I was in the sunshine.
In New Hampshire, Route 3 and Interstate 93 entwine around each other like a vine on a string; I-93 is the highway; a straight shot north, except for the Franconia Notch area. Route 3 is a local road; you do run into some intersections in towns, but it’s scenic, and there are long stretches with not much traffic, and you can do a fairly decent speed unless you wind up behind a slowpoke. I much prefer it. The two roads do intersect often, and you can easily switch between the two.
At the point where I transferred to Route 3 on Saturday, there was a sign directing me to a bridge. It turned out to be an old covered bridge, so of course, I had to ride over it, ride back, then stop and take some pictures.
(Aside: Covered bridges are covered to protect their members from rot. I’ve often wondered if it would be cost-effective in the long run to add a cheap, easy to replace roof to overpasses).
I headed north to Route 112 and the Kancamancus Highway, where I got a shock. It was bumper to bumper, stop and go all the way to the first overlook. This is the FJR’s one Achilles heel: it does not handle slow speed traffic well, or at least, I don’t handle it well at slow speeds. It’s fine while moving, but once the speed drops below a couple of miles per hour, it’s top-heavy and has a real tendency to tip or turn.
After the outlook, traffic at least moved descending the Kancamancus on the way to Conway. By this point it was near sunset, so I stopped for dinner at a family restaurant. I was leaving just as a fireworks show started nearby, so I stayed until the end before heading out along Route 302 to find someplace to stay for the night. I wanted to stay somewhere between Conway and Bartlett.
I hadn’t factored in the time of year. There were No Vacancy signs all over the place. Even the dumpy little motel I’d stayed at before was full. I remembered passing a motel in North Conway that was showing a Vacancy sign, so I hurried to get back before they filled up. I got my room for the night.
The next morning, I had to figure out what to do. I’d originally planned to take 302 out to Sugar Hill, then have breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor, but here I was, close to Conway, and I’d seen the Conway Scenic Railway signs. I decided to go for the train trip. I had breakfast locally, then got a ticket for the 11:30 Valley Ride. This is a 55 minute, 11 mile jaunt through the woods.
The trip was fun, but not quite as scenic as one would hope; you spend a lot of time going through the woods, with trees close on both sides.
After the train returned, I headed west along Route 302, through Crawford Notch, past Mount Washington, to Route 3, and the slow ride home. This part of the ride is made for motorcycling — not much traffic, and scenic, curvy roads.
While I was riding through, I could see the Notch Train in the distance, running up along the side of the mountain. It made me a little sorry I hadn’t taken it, but not much; I’d rather take the bike than the train through there.
By the time I was headed south on Route 3, it was mid afternoon, so I stopped at the Indian Head Resort for lunch. It’s old-time 1950’s type tacky, but the view while I was eating was nice.
By the time I finished lunch, it was 3:30, and time to head home. For the most part, I took Route 3 back – it was getting close to sunset, and the light and the foliage were superb. I did skirt Laconia, as I’ve found there are a lot of intersections there. Finally, as I approached Concord and dusk fell, I switched back to I-93 for the rest of the ride home.
I am still pretty happy with this bike. At speed, it’s like riding a magic carpet, smooth and responsive and with plenty of power. I feel more comfortable passing for some reason on this bike than I did on the other two. I was mostly in the lower part of the engine’s RPM range except for one moment passing when I reached an absurd speed in second gear. It made me wonder what it can do at red line in top gear.
I do need to get better at stop and go with this thing. It tends to catch me by surprise when it loses gyroscopic balance and it starts to yaw. Part of it might be top-heaviness, part of it may be my short legs.
I was definitely feeling a little saddle-sore by Sunday evening. Not too bad, and nowhere as bad as the Katana, but I was feeling it. I may look into Yamaha’s comfort seat, a gel filled replacement saddle.
Finally, I was definitely missing my Nikon on this trip. It’s still out of commission, and I was limited to iPhone photography. The iPhone camera is really good, but its lens is fixed, and semi wide-angle. It also tends to pick up fingerprints.I tend to “see” narrowly photographically, and miss my zoom lens. I also miss having a raw file to work with and manipulate. At this point, I’ve exhausted all the do it yourself options I’ve read about; it sounds like the camera definitely needs repair. I may just decide to replace it instead.
I packed a lot into my last days in London. I had a nice one on one with the CEO Friday, and after work, took advantage of the National Gallery’s extended hours to pay a visit after work. I spent about 90 minutes wandering the galleries, looking at the paintings.
With the trip drawing to a close, I wanted to do some more sightseeing after work. Mark and Ben recommended Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square so I decided to take them up on it. I got there at dusk, right when the lights of the buildings were starting to match the light from the sky. It was mobbed.
There were street entertainers there, and big screens across the buildings, and lots of shops and restaurants. I walked along for a bit grabbing pictures. The two areas are not that distinct from each other; “Piccadilly Circus” is a big plaza, and if you walk down one of the streets from the plaza, you end up in Leicester Square. The whole area has the same vibe.