Women’s Memorial (WIMSA) and Quilts

In early May I travelled to the Washington DC metro area to house hunt with my daughter.  I only live about 2 1/2 hours away, but haven’t been there since I went for the Cherry Blossoms about 6 years or more ago, with my other daughter.

There was a time when I could get nearly anywhere in the Capital with a quick glance at the map.  I had a job once, in the early 90’s, where I ran tours for military folks from our base in Delaware and I fancied myself as quite the expert.  I used to know a lot about the tourist sites.  My kids were in elementary school, and I often took them with me on the excursions. I think they grew up knowing the “layout”, just like I did, of the city.  We each had our favorite Smithsonian museum, and we could all navigate the metro system well, and knew where to find a cold drink and public restrooms, and all the best places to cool off on a hot day, and where to have lunch.  That area has sure changed.

This recent trip for house hunting availed a little time off, and we hopped on the metro with one specific destination.  I have never been to the Women in the Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA).  Often called the Women’s Memorial, it stands at the gates of Arlington Cemetery and is accessible by the Metro. It was a great place to go with my daughter.  We are both US Air Force Veterans, and I am a registrant of the museum. (I have to dig out a photo to add to my original registration).

When this museum was just a dream, I supported it financially through the Combined Federal Campaign, and did so for more than 20 years while I was still working.  Now, that I am retired, I support them through the Amazon Smile charity app.  Anytime I shop on Amazon, they get a percentage of the sale.

I was excited to go, because even though the museum has been open since the mid 1990’s, I had never visited!  (I think back to when it opened, and the dates coincide with when I started working shift work) There was a huge gap of years between my visits to Washington DC.  Now that my one daughter is going to live in the Washington DC metro area, I can look forward to revisiting the city, and maybe find some new places too.

We spent several hours in the museum, reading all the placards near the items on display.

I was pleased to find quilts to share with you too. This “Trip Around the World” was one of the first things I saw as we came into the museum.  Be sure to check out the placard below the quilt photo.

Free Spirit of Massachusetts

Free Spirit of Massachusetts Quilt description

Near the desk where you enroll as a  WIMSA member I saw this stunning quilt.  It is called the “COMFORT QUILT”.

Operation Iraqi Freedom quilt at WIMSA

Too bad the museum curators blocked 1/3 of the quilt with the description boards.  I of course had my head leaning over the back of the boards to read and study the blocks.  I did shoot some detail shots, though they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

Signature blocks on quilt at WIMSA

Blocks on quilt at WIMSA

Statistic block on the quilt at WIMSA

and now the story behind this great quilt –

Comfort Quilt story

Comfort quilt description

If you are ever in the Washington DC Metro area, and have a chance, a visit to the Women in Military Service for America Museum is worth the stop and the time. The museum is “hidden” behind those fantastic walls at the “gate” to Arlington National Cemetery. You have to really “look” for the signs once you have gone through security.  Ask a guard to point you in the proper direction.

Funny how I manage to make travel and quilting interweave.  What do you keep your eyes “open” for when traveling??

Disclaimer….there is MUCH to see in this museum….beyond these 2 quilts!!!

 

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And now, back to the Sewing Machine

I’ve been hanging out off and on with some lovely ladies at a local assisted living facility. My friend June, who is a resident there, asked me if I would come and sew with the residents. It’s really been a treat.

One day I came with a basket full of fabric, and this lovely lady in the photo below arrived (via her walker) with a tattered old pillow and case and asked to make a new cover for it.  She picked out fabric from my basket, and together we came up with a plan for an “envelope” style pillow cover. I thought it would be handy to have something removable that could be washed.  She liked my plan and I cut out the fabric.  She came with her “own” box of pins, still in their SUCRETS box (for the 1960’s I am guessing! She did all the sewing, I just stood by to rethread needles and wind bobbins, and iron as necessary.  In no time at all she had the pillow “slip-cover” made.  Then I took a look at the existing pillow.  Gosh, it was one of those pillow forms you buy and the actual cover of it was shredding.  My fingers went right through the covering and I could see where she had patched it over the years.

I suggested that the following week, we make a muslin cover for it, and stitch it closed.  So, the following week, I supplied an adequate piece of muslin, and again we  planned it out, I did the cutting and pressing and pinning, but Elsa stitched it herself. We stuffed her tattered pillow into that muslin case Elsa made, and sewed it shut. Then we put it in the lovely floral case that she made the week before.  It should last Elsa for many years.

Sewing with Elsa

Oh, by the way….did I mention Elsa had her birthday in early June?   She just turned 101 !!  My goodness she was happy to have that pillowcase!  (Did you notice her container of pins??)

I admired this grand “walker-tote bag” she moves around the assisted living facility with.  It has a lot of flair!  It was made by her daughter, and certainly was well done.

Elsa's walker bag

Our church project for the graduating high school seniors concluded in May.  We got together in early May and did the final layering and tying, then I brought it home to bind. (Susie’s Magic Binding of course….google it if you want to know more) Picture below is the finished quilt.

Lida Gannon quilt 2018

The quilt was presented on Mother’s Day, and the student in the photo below has the quilt over her shoulders, and is praying for her parents.  I just love the presentation at church.

Praying for parents The Gannon family

This is the first time in the 10 years I have been involved with this  program at church where we ONLY had one graduate.

My month of May was busy with a house hunting trip in the Washington DC metro area with my daughter. We spent a lovely week together eating interesting foods and wandering through countless rental properties trying to narrow down one that would suit her family for the next couple of years. I was in sticker shock over the costs of rental properties.

I had some time at 2 quilt bees, the Material Girls and the Queen Bees to do a bit more work on my “Autumn Jubilee” project.  I take the project with me when ever I go to a bee.  I now have 4 more placemats complete (except for the binding)!  No pictures until I get them bound!!

May and June also kept me busy with the From My Carolina Home mystery quilt – Scrap Dance Square Dance.  The final clue of the mystery came out in June, and was able to close the door on another successful quilt along. I had planned for a twin size, but once I had it all on the design wall, I realised the dimensions were just too small for my taste, so I made more blocks and “supersized” the twin.  (It is really a full according to the pattern, but I am calling it a supersized twin).

Scrap Dance Square Dance

It is 61×85 without borders or binding.  I will probably just layer it and quilt “as is”, because it is a perfect size. I love the spinning stars.  It is 98% scrappy. Only the white stars were created from yardage in my stash.

This project has been fun to follow on Carole’s Facebook Group – From My Carolina Home Project Sharing

I like seeing all the color choices others have made.

The pattern is still up on Carole’s blog page until the end of the month. Get it for free now, before she pulls it down to publish commercially.  It is quick, easy, and fun!

That’s it for me for now.  I have a sun dress pattern for a granddaughter all cut out and waiting to be sewn.  I am going to try to work on it “between things” this week.  I am handling the snacks at church again, all week, for the Vacation Bible School kids.  Right now, there are 113 kids registered. The shopping and organizing is done, except for ice cream and strawberries for later in the week. (And I have a volunteer who is handling that area).   I am gather motivation to crush 4 boxes of cookies in the food processor for VBS snacks tomorrow…..turning them into “sand” to go on top of vanilla pudding cups along with swedish fish!  And then there is the popcorn to pop for Tuesday…..wish me luck and pray for a wonderful week with the children.

How’s your sewing and June fun?

PS, if you are a prayerful person, pray for my friend June who broke her back in early May and is slowly recovering.

Our Most Excellent Quilting Adventure, 2018 Version – SHARED

I know, I said I was wrapping up my travel post yesterday, but I needed to share this post with you first thing!

I’ve talked about the One Block Wonder Woman — well….she shared her story of my visit and her photos of the Queen Mary in Long Beach California on her post below!  

Go check it out  Our Most Excellent Quilting Adventure, 2018 Version (USE THAT LINK !) and be sure to follow for her excellent quilting and gardening posts!  

The final chapter of my April travel adventures (and a FINISHED Quilt!)

PHOTO INTENSE POST – fair warning…..

If you have been hanging around reading over the last 2 months, you are aware that I took a lovely cruise for 10 days in April along Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California.  This cruise returned to the Port of San Pedro California.  My next adventure began when my brother Rich and his lovely wife, Carolyn (AKA – http://www.OneBlockWonderWoman.wordpress.com) picked me up at the port and transported me (and all my luggage) North of Los Angeles to their lovely home in Monterey County California for a brief stay.  

There are a few different routes to take but my brother chose I-5 North out of Los Angeles.  Boy was I glad he did that!  We got to see the hills ablaze with California Poppies.  Disclaimer – I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and I vaguely remember seeing the poppies as a child traveling to see my grandmother.  Well, did we have a great show on the ride North.  Get ready – some of the photo’s appear a little hazy, because we were moving along at 65+ mph, and I was shooting thru the windshield from the back seat or the side window, so I apologize ahead of time.  Too pretty not to share!

Bright orange poppies

Poppies on the Grapevine

Can you believe the various colors in the hillsides?   All that orange and gold and (GULP) GREEN!!!

swaths of poppies

Golden hillside

Poppies and green hills

It is not vary often you see the hillsides in California SO green.  Spring must have been kind with the rains.

Hills ablaze in poppies

I remember when I lived other places, my mother would go on and on during phone calls about the poppies.  I honestly don’t think I have ever seen them until now.  I really timed my visit “just right”.

Now, if you are a “travel person” reading my blog, I am about to change lanes and return to my normal activities….and that is QUILTING.  I invite you to hang around, you might enjoy the rest of the photos or the story.

Those regular readers who have followed for any length of time might be aware that earlier in the year, I finished a rather LARGE quilt and planned to visit by brother and his wife and work on quilting it on her long arm quilting machine.  This is WHY they picked me up.  (Sweet of them to drive 4 hours to get me and 4 hours to take me home! )  California is a very big state!  I offered a night in a hotel so they didn’t do all the driving in one day….after all, Rich is my OLDER brother…giggle…..I booked them a room on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I figured they should enjoy a night “on board a ship” since they were picking me up from a ship.  There cabin on the QM was MUCH nicer than a modern cruise ship cabin.( Oh to go back to the old days on ships!!) If Carolyn (aka oneblockwonderwoman) ever posts her photo’s, I will link to them.

Now, back to the story – I packed up my quilt top, and the backing (see the post – In Betweens – for that story) and shipped it to California before my cruise, so it was waiting on my arrival. Dear Carolyn had thoughtfully taken it out of the package and hung both parts to “relax” when she got the package.  Since we arrived late Tuesday afternoon, and I was flying home on Sunday, our time together was very short.  We got busy and loaded a practice piece to quilt .  I learned a lot about loading a quilt, and using the leaders and basting the top and sides, and floating the quilt, and how to use the size clamps.  By 10 am the next day we were set up to stitch on Greta, her new Gammill long arm quilting machine.  I had LOTS of practice before we loaded my quilt.

Greta the Gammill

This is her dining room, with windows on 3 sides.  The sun is so bright that she has heavy drapes to block the glare.

Time to practice

Greta the Gammill has great LED lights.

Practice on plain muslin

Carolyn taught me some of her favorite stitching elements.  I wanted to tackle each block independently and I had fun learning to operate the machine, and not drive it like a drunken sailor. Thank goodness for a great stitch regulator!  She even taught me how to work with a ruler –

Practice and planning

I decided I needed to “draw” a couple of quilt blocks so I could get a better handle on exactly where the needle was stopping and planning out some layouts for various blocks.

Since time was short, after 2 practice pieces (and lunch), we loaded my quilt on Greta’s frame.  That took us over an hour, getting everything “just right”.

Quilting at Carolyn's on Greta the Gammill

This is not a small quilt and nearly fills her frame.  I can see why my brother is often referred to as the “Quilters Assistant”.  It really seems like a 2 person job getting the quilt, the batting and the backing all set up right.  Because I had a pieced backing, I was extremely careful about the placement of the backing on the machine so the quilt top would be centered.

I won’t bore you with all the close up photo’s of the quilting.  Let me just say, if you really want to see them, they are in an album all together with the quilt construction photos, and you are welcome to browse through them.  Grandma’s Kitchen Blocks  .  There are lots of notes in the album about the various names of the blocks etc.  I quilted each block taking into consideration the elements of the block.  99% was done free motion with no stencils, drawings, markings.  2 blocks were done with ruler work.  We spent a lot of time working on the quilt.  I took a shot of the screen on Saturday –

LOTS of stitches

Even though we had been working since Wednesday, the machine said we had an actual 6 hours of stitching time, with over 152,000 stitches in the quilting. The “timer” only clocks when the needle is going up & down, not when the machine is on. (Has something to do with time for oil and cleaning if I remember correctly). There is a lot of “in between time” that happens.  Advancing the quilt, taking practice stitches along the side, and the distractions of where I was in California.  Their home is on several acres with gardens and meadows and the weather was perfect.  The home was constructed in the manor of a California Adobe, with tiled roof, walled garden area and arches.  The view out the windows is amazing.  What a great place for a break and a stretch!

In the courtyard

The sound of the fountain was so relaxing –

View from the window while quilting

Those of you who follow Carolyn on her blog – https://oneblockwonderwoman.wordpress.com know about what lies in wait on the other side of the gate in the grape arbor, just outside the courtyard wall.

Grape Arbor

And of course, in between times, we had to eat breakfast lunch, dinner, drink wine and go for walks.   Check out the great area they live in – quietly nestled in a little valley down a dirt lane.  There are vineyards and cattle and farmers all around. It was good to get out, stretch my legs and enjoy the beautiful Central Coastal California.

Enjoying a walk

My sister-in-law is well known among her neighbors and has several quilting friends that stopped over to meet me. It was so fun to visit with the people I had heard so much about who get to share time with Carolyn all the time!  (Thanks for sharing Mona!!)

We ran out of time on Saturday when all of a sudden the top tension went nuts when we changed bobbins, and nothing Carolyn adjusted could make the machine sew right. There were big loops on the bottom (thankfully I had an extra 6″ of backing all around and she had a place to test stitch.) Many phone calls to her dealer tech rep, and to a friend with a Gammill still left us unable to stitch.  So, we stopped, left the quilt on the frame and the next day, I had to fly home.

After 2 weeks of “adjustments, and a visit by her friends with a Gammill; she was able to finally get things working again, and she finished up my quilt.  Carolyn did the center of one block, and finished the last 2 blocks and quilted the border for me.  I was very thankful that she was able to do this and ship it home.    She trimmed the quilt for me and saved the cutaway backing pieces. She knew I was planning to use them for the binding.

 I spent a couple of evenings with the seam ripper removing the stray stitches on those saved pieces and made my “Susie’s Magic Binding”.  I got the quilt bound just in time to put it on the guest room bed!  I had family coming and I want them to be cozy under a new quilt!  I finally got to show it at the Material Girls Quilt Bee this week.  Still needs a label, but the hanging pocket is on already. I will enter it in our next  Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show April 2019

My quilting is a novice attempt, so I will enter in the non-judged category.  Overall, I love the outcome, and I declare the project FINISHED!!!

Grandma's Kitchen - queen size

                            GRANDMA’S KITCHEN by Mary Deeter

Note – Pattern is by Pat Sloan, block of the week quilt along (Jun-Dec 2017).

Hope you enjoy the pictures included in this post and take time to check out the link to the FLICKR photo album.

Have you had any fun travel or quilting adventures lately?

Travel Stories – part 4 – THE BEST Excursion ever!

WARNING…..PHOTO INTENSE……  🙂

PART 4  of my travel stories.  The cruise was from April 14 – 24th, 2018.  Picking up again, still sailing the western coast of Mexico on the Ruby Princess. This was a 10 day voyage with 5 ports, and 5 sea days.  Last port to visit was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

I’ve kind of “been there done that” with excursion on the 13 cruises I have taken on Princess, and on cruises with Celebrity, Oceana, Carnival and Norwegian.  

My first visit to Puerto Vallarta was on the Golden Princess in 2008, and we had multiple cabins and lots of friends and family along. Everyone decided to do different activities when we ported in Puerto Vallarta.  Hubby and I and one friend had a “wild taxi ride” around Puerto Vallarta with a young driver who failed to listen to the info provided at the port by the tour guide.  Took a lot of good humor to get past that adventure and on with a nice time riding horses in the canyon.  Picture below is with my hubby and my friend Chris!

Horseback Riding in Puerto Vallarta 2008

My next visit was in 2012, and we arrived on the Sapphire Princess.  I had booked a Gray Line tour to a tequila factory up in the mountains.  What a nice tour….except the part about getting back to the ship late and running for the gangway.  That put my sister off from doing excursions that were NOT ship trips! I figured she might be right with a track record of 0-2, so opted to “stick with cruise line excursions.

near Puerto Vallarta Mexico

So, last fall, when we did our Panama Canal transit on the Island Princess, we booked a “Viva Tequila” excursion through the ship.All I can say is this was a TERRIBLE excursion, especially with folks who had limited mobility.  (Boy did Princess Cruise Lines hear a lot about that from me!!!)  The excursion was so bad, we bailed out, and took a taxi back to the port, with a brief Wal-Mart stop (the highlight).  (Seriously, the show that they did at the Viva Tequila location was quite good, the rest of the logistics…not so much)

Viva Tequila Experience 20171108_105918

Tequila tasting 20171108_110014

So THIS trip…what to do was a big decision.  Stay on the ship?  No way….I am always ready for an adventure.  I paged through the excursion lists and settled on an activity that included breakfast, lunch, booze, beach, and a sailing ship.    As the title of this post indicates…even 2 months later…it was the BEST excursion ever!  After looking over the details, and talking to the excursion desk, my sister cancelled out on the day, because of her limited mobility.  I however, hung in for the FUN.  Fourth trip to Puerto Vallarta, and I wanted to be “on and in” the water!

Last good look of the Ruby Princess 20180421_083040_0

In the photo above, you can look across the harbor at the Ruby Princess docked opposite where we have always docked in the past.  The area near where I was standing is all under reconstruction.  (The other dock is MUCH closer to the street and easy walk to Walmart…..)

When I first disembarked the ship in Puerto Vallarta, I was met by a travel guide and grouped with about 10-12 other folks.  As soon as the head count was taken, we were assigned our own “personal pirate” for the day!  Our “personal pirate” was named Poison, and he was going to take care of us for the duration of the trip.  Wow, did he ever!  Before we even arrived at the sailing ship, he had organized our choices for breakfast and lunch, posed for photo’s and made sure we had everything we needed.

Ready to board 20180421_082835_0

Marigalante Pirate Ship adventure Puerto Vallarta Mexico
April 21 2018

As we boarded the ship, he assisted each of us on board, directed us to seats, and hurried off to get drinks for all.  When it was time for breakfast, he escorted us “below decks” to the galley for our fantastic food. He served coffee & drinks and sat and chatted with everyone at our tables. We had our choice of a “Mexican Breakfast” or an “Americano Breakfast”. I chose to enjoy the Mexican Breakfast which was wonderful.  (For the record, my sister was right to cancel, because there was considerable climbing of steps and ladders in this ship!)  My personal pirate,  Poison,  was a young guy, 19 or 20 years old, very fluent in English, and covered in ink art, to include his name on his neck!

This excursion was on the Marigalante Pirate Ship, and we were under sail the entire day!

Setting Sail 20180421_083550_0

Entertainment was constant on this vessel, with a great show performed by the crew, to include a mutiny, and cannon shots, and pirates going overboard.

Entertainment 20180421_153058_0

It was all fun and exciting, and the crew got the passengers  into the fun.

Enjoying the action 20180421_092650_0

You had to get up and dance!

Crew entertainment 20180421_152935_0

We transferred over to a smaller craft for transport to the beach and back from this sailing ship.  Once on the beach, drinks were also unlimited.  Getting off the ship onto the smaller craft was not for the faint of heart, as we descended a ladder to a floating dock and stepped into a small boat.  On arrival at the beach, we got ourselves over the side of the boat and into the water.  All this while barefoot, so we had better grip on the steps etc.  We did the reverse returning to the ship.

Banana Boat rides 20180421_120344_0

The cove that we went to was wonderful.  They had games for the kids, a banana boat ride, and even a mermaid hidden in a smaller cove!  I liked that they took the kids in big groups to look for hermit crabs, and eventually to find the mermaid!  

The beach cove Puerto Vallarta 20180421_120400_0

Did I mention unlimited drinks??  Served by pirates of course!  My personal pirate POISON kept my glass full!

Another group on the beach 20180421_120354_0

These “pirates” stayed in character the whole day!

Captain and crew 20180421_125454_0

That lovely mermaid was also the Pirate Wench too!

On the return from the beach, they had everyone on board practicing their best pirate skills –  ARRRGGGH !

Old guys play too 20180421_145708_0

The man in the shorts & red shirt did his best to sing while he had a throat full of tequila!!!  He wasn’t as successful as some of the YOUNGER men, but he was still having a great time!!  There were LOTS of games and fun, music and dancing, and a fantastic lunch as we sailed back into port.  Of course, we did the YMCA……and they had EVERYONE (Yes, me too) up and dancing as we sailed.  (There was an Australian man with his family sitting in front of me, and he had broken his arm in Cabo San Lucas on that excursion I didn’t take…..he didn’t cancel out on this adventure, although he was unable to climb down the ladder and go to the beach, he did seem to be enjoying the dancing and drinks as we sailed.)

Pirate voyage over 20180421_153740_0

I am certain we were all acting like pirates as we came into the port!   AAAARGHHHH………What a FUN day!  

If you EVER get to Puerto Vallarta, for a land vacation or a cruise, plan to take this excursion.  Link to the website & Facebook page at the end of the post!!  Go with a sense of humor and a willingness to act silly and have fun.  (Be ready to eat & drink and dance too!)

After we disembarked and were walking back to the Ruby Princess, I spied something on the rocks!

Can you count five in the photo below? There are large and small iguanas on the rocks.

I spy 5 creatures 20180421_155409

Apparently these little guys like the sunshine and the shade. 

Residents of Puerto Vallarta Port

I love the colors of these creatures.  They had orange on their tails.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico 20180608_113705_0

If you want to see more of  my photo’s from this trip, check out my Flickr album 2018 Cruise Ruby Princess photos

Travel stories, part 5 – The final post- coming soon!  Adventures in Coastal Central California 

Wrap up — in my opinion, this was the BEST excursion ever.  For more details, use the links below.

Pirate Ship Vallarta website

Pirate Ship Vallarta on Facebook

Have you ever been to Puerto Vallarta and taken this excursion??  What is your favorite activity in Puerto Vallarta??

Back to quilting soon…………..I promise!

Travel Stories Part 3 and FLICKR chaos – A visit to Loreto Mexico

WARNING – photo intense….don’t say I didn’t warn you…….

preamble……I know…..it’s taken me a month to get to this point.  Honestly, when I travel, it takes almost twice as long when I get home to feel “caught up”.  My excuse is….I was having trouble tagging my photo’s with my name.  I usually upload my photo’s, automatically,  to FLICKR when I take them, and when I get home from a trip, I annotate my name, and sort them into folders, caption etc. Only then do I sit down and write a blog post!  Well, some folks who use FLICKR (formerly a product of Yahoo) may be aware that the website has been sold to a company called SMUG MUG.  (You may also be aware that VERIZON now owns YAHOO).  All this buying and selling has made my situation with my photos a nightmare.  98% of the time in the last 2 months when I have tried to edit my photo’s on FLICKR, I end up with black screens or half photos. I have tried on multiple computers and just about gave up blogging!  I finally went back through my phone and edited on the phone to the extent of putting my “signature” on the photo and resending to FLICKR.  Then of course, I had lots of duplicate photos to clear out.  For the most part, I think I am up and running, at least until SMUG MUG and FLICKR start to change things again!

So; back to the trip…..last blog post, Whale of a tale , was about my snorkling turned whale watching adventure in La Paz Mexico.   We sailed from La Paz to Loreto where we tendered into the dock from the ship.  The water in Loreto was like glass…..and I didn’t have an excursion planned. My sister Anne and I took the tender into town and then wandered along the embarcadero. The view of our ship from shore was very nice.

Looking out to the Ruby Princess

There was a lovely sidewalk to stroll along and it seemed like the town was just waiting for the arrival of the cruise ship passengers.

Those are stone seals on the rocks welcoming visitors!

The stone seals in Loreto Mexico

And then, of course, there was this big creature!

In Loreto Mexico

Want to swim with it???

And then we looked away from the sea towards the town of Loreto – where immediately across the street from the embarcadero, we could see active construction and repair of a hotel roof.  I really liked the murals in the archways.

Hotel under construction

The street to the town square was very obvious. There was a policeman managing the traffic so the cruise passengers could safely cross the busy boulevard.  What awaited us was simply lovely. We found the And. Juan M. de Salvtierra closed to traffic all the way to the Plaza Publica Loreto

Walking towards the center of town in Loreto Mexico

As we strolled, we stopped to look at the merchandise that all the vendors had out for sale.  I noticed a cute little hotel, that on first glance looked very old. This is the Villa Santo Nino, on of the top places for visitors to lodge in Loreto Mexico.

Villa Santo Nino - a Hotel in Loreto Mexico

Then, I spied the locks on the doors, and knew they must be quite modern on the other side of these great doors.

Cilantro lodging - Loreto Mexico

(I had my eyes open the whole trip for cool doors to post on my blog and link to Norm’s Thursday Doors blog! ) 

There was the Cilantro room, the Yerbabuena and several other very fun names for rooms.

Our stroll continued on to the center of town, where I spied someplace to stop and refresh ourselves!

El Zopilote Brewery & Cocina Loreto Mexico

My sister loves a good micro-brew.  I liked the outdoor seating and the friendly crowd. The food service was less than impressive, but it was tasty!  

Outdoor seating at El Zopilote Brewing Co

I decided to indulge in a lovely local drink too!

Sipping the 1st of many

Of course, there were fish tacos to accompany the 2nd round of drinks, then off to wander the town square.  We enjoyed watching school children sing and dance for the cruise ship passengers, then I ventured into this lovely building.

Loreto Capital Historica de las California

I couldn’t figure out whether it was a museum or a historical society building.

Sign outside the Capital Historica de Las Californias

The inside was very interesting.  There was quite a story being told in the art on the walls up to the 2nd story.  I am not certain what the story was, but the art was quite colorful and graphic.

Graphic art in Loreto Mexico

Somehow I think the Priests were converting people of other faiths –

Priests and the horses

As I stood and photographed, I was wishing for a guide or a handout that told me the whole story.  (Some after trip research is required!)

We did some more wandering in and out of buildings including an awesome hotel on our walk back from the town square to the embarcadero.  We had to stop at the end of street for a little more Guac & Salsa! (And another local beverage of course).

Stop for Guac & Salsa in Loreto

(Trust me, it was as good and fresh as it looked!!)

Another stroll, and before you knew it, we were back on the tender, heading to our lovely Ruby Princess.

The Ruby Princess from a tender

A final look at Loreto Mexico –

Loreto Mexico

As we left port, we cruised south towards Puerto Vallarta Mexico. We had a full day at sea before we arrived in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, the subject of my next post.  I will tell you about my all time favorite fun excursion in Puerto Vallarta in that post.

I leave you with this lovely sunset from the stern of the Ruby Princess, sailing out of the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez. I think this is my favorite time of day at sea! (I won’t bore you with the numerous sunset photo’s I took…but will link to them at the end of this travel stories in this series, so watch for them!)

Apr 20 a day at sea

To my quilty friends who follow my blog, yes, I will return to posting about quilting shortly!  🙂

 

 

Linking up to Norm’s Thursday Doors – go check out his blog! Thursday Doors

 

Travel Stories – part 2 – a Whale of a Tale

 Fair warning, LOTS of photo’s.

Picking up on my adventures in April!  This is a photo travel journal from my 10 day cruise on the Ruby Princess, out of Los Angeles, April 14-24, 2018.

At the end of my last post, we sailed away from San Diego CA and had a lovely “Sea Day” on board the beautiful Ruby Princess as we went South along Baja California. Perfect weather for a sea day!  I spent some time meeting other travelers whom I had chatted with on Cruise Critic and had a photo with them and officers from the crew.

Ruby Princess April 14, 2018 sailing

It was a great chance to hear about the new menus on board the ship and to get to know TJ the cruise director, talk to the hotel manager etc.  Sea Days are my favorite time on a cruise ship. Time to relax, read, listen to an audio book, sit in the sun, enjoy the pool, and sit & sew.  I took my never ending hexi project along for sea days and got 2 double diamonds finished during the cruise.

Our first port in Mexico was Cabo San Lucas, and I was scheduled to do a snorkeling excursion.

Cabo San Lucas Mexico

We had an EARLY morning show time for the excursion, and by the time we tendered into Cabo, it was barely 9 am. We no sooner stepped onto the dock to find out that the excursion was cancelled due to the rough water conditions.  I was frustrated because the vendor with the “SHIP” excursion didn’t notify the ship before we tendered over. Instead, he tried to get us to take one of his company’s other excursions, and pay him directly for that “new” trip. He might have had something enjoyable to do, but I like to plan a bit more. Plus, my sister was still on the ship and if she was going to go into town, I wanted to go with her. SO….I tendered back to the ship and tried to find her.  We must have passed each other in tenders, me going to the ship and her going to town. I guess it was “meant to be” and I stayed on board the ship, and relaxed the rest of the day!  I’ve been to Cabo several times, so I wasn’t sad to stay on board.  I will fill you in on another post about one of the ships guests who took the alternate excursion and tell you his story!

Our second port was La Paz Mexico, which is North of Cabo San Lucas in the Gulf of California / Sea of Cortez.  Our port was in an industrial area, about 10 miles from the town center.  Not a pretty place to go shopping!

Wide view of the port at La Paz Mexico

I had scheduled a snorkeling excursion with an early morning show time. This excursion met dockside and we walked over to the boats we were to take for the excursion. The details of the excursion are found here –  SNORKELING AT GAVIOTA ISLAND & BALANDRA BAY  .

Once we were on board and settled into life jackets, we headed out into the channel.  Immediately we discovered that the French /Spanish speaking “dive guy”, and the young Mexican woman who spoke English and the captain of the boat who spoke Spanish ; were going to show us a good time.  We were not 5 mins away from the ship when the “dive guy” yelled about a whale, and the captain of the boat spun us around and took us to see a Humpback whale in the channel.

A whale nearby

Do you see that little disturbance in the water, to the slight left of the white hat?

Definitely something there!  (And LOOK how close to the cruise ship we are!) (The big white one, not the blue one)

Whale blow - La Paz Mexico

Thar’ she blows!

whale surface La Paz Mexico

humpback whale TAIL

And there is the tail!

Not quite a breech but a whale tail is nearly as cool!  I knew right away that this boat captain was going to make sure we had a good time.  His schedule switched from “snorkeling to whale watching” .  He hung in the channel a long time so we could watch the whale and get photos!  None of us were immediately prepared because this was so unexpected.

After we all got the opportunity to take photo’s and see the whale surfacing and blowing, and going back under, we headed out towards Gaviota Island. “As you approach the island you’ll notice that it’s not full of swaying palm trees but covered with birds. The island is a massive volcanic rock, which makes it a natural refuge for hundreds of seabirds. Depending on the time of year, you may see blue-footed boobies, yellow-footed gulls, and great blue herons“. (Quote from the Princess website linked above).  Well, I didn’t have a “great view” for photo’s so I only snagged this one –

Gaviota Island La Paz Mexico

The plan was to come back to this island to snorkel after we had some time at the beach.  So, we circled the island once, then went off to the most beautiful cove and beaches!  

La Paz Mexico Playa Balandra

  Again – from the Princess website – “Balandra Bay lies just a short distance from La Paz and is home to eight inlets, a coral reef, and beautiful beaches. But Balandra Bay is most famous for its unusual rock formation called Mushroom Rock, or El Hongo by the locals. “

Balandra Beach La Paz Mexico

This panoramic isn’t the best below, but I insert it here so you can get a vision of just how big this bay was!

panoramic view Balandra bay La Paz Mexico

Way off to the left was the only beach that you could get to by automobile or bus.  That is how these kayakers arrived for their “ship tour”.

The equipment for the kayakers was great and I would recommend that excursion if you find yourself on a cruise with a port stop in La Paz!  (Our snorkeling equipment was outdated!)

After some beach time, and some very COLD water, we got back on our little boats and headed over to Gaviota Island for snorkeling.  I was watching everyone getting into the water at Gaviota, and seeing their reactions and rapid retreat to the boat, and decided I was not going to risk the extremely cold (60 degree) water.  I was still freezing from playing in the water at the beach and I didn’t have a wet suit.  The only ones who stayed in the water snorkeling were those equipped with wet suits.  I was thinking the whales at the beginning of the trip would be the highlight of my day.  Little did I know that our return to the Ruby Princess would be full of adventure.

Our boat captain, assisted by the dive guy found more whales.  In fact, the captain did a u-turn and took us out to sea much further than expected in the small boat, to chase the whales and capture some photos.  We stayed with this one whale for nearly an hour, and I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did.  I am amazed I was able to capture as many as I did, with just my cell phone.

Humpback whale BREACH La Paz Mexico

So exciting to see this humpback breach. One source below calls this SPY HOPPING, not breach.

La Paz Mexico Humpback whale

This humpback  was less than 100 yards from our small boat.

Whale watching in LaPaz Mexico

They make quite a splash going back down!

humpback whale La Paz Mexico breaching

This was a full breach.

This one was giving us a wonderful show!  Sometimes my view was from the “wrong side of the boat” and I had to get my photo “across” others.

Ahoy WHALE LaPaz Mexico

In the video below, watch for the breach and the tail! It is a short one. You may notice another boat in the shots, this is our companion group, and our boat was similar in size.

Video Humpback whale in La Paz Breaching

Now, if you are still hanging on, looking at these photo’s, I have another video to share.  This video is of the humpback whale slapping it’s tail. ” A tail slap also known as “lobtailing”.  Some say it is to stun the fish, and others say it is a method of communication.  Sources for both theories are linked at the bottom of the page.  Meanwhile, turn on your speakers, and enjoy the chatter in the background along with the sounds of this whale as his tail slaps the water.  I only ran a couple of minutes of video, but this whale behaved in this manner for nearly 30 minutes while our boats were in the area.  It was the most interesting thing to watch!

Humpback whale La Paz Mexico video by Mary Deeter

There are several schools of thought on the WHY the humpback slaps its tail.  Since there were no naturalists along on this “snorkeling trip turned whale watching” we didn’t get an explanation.  Here are a couple of sources I have found since I returned home and started questioning the WHY ?  Have you ever seen whales behave in this manner?

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114953-whales-talk-to-each-other-by-slapping-out-messages-on-water/

http://yalescientific.org/thescope/2015/11/whale-speak-why-does-a-humpback-slap-its-tail/

https://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-behaviour

My opportunity to see these whales and to spend so much time observing them made up for the “no snorkeling”.  The trip was certainly worth the expense because of the experience.

A couple of lessons learned about the idea of snorkeling on the west coast of Mexico – 1)Equipment – 2) Water Temperature.

This is the not  the first time I have had poor quality equipment on a paid tour in Mexico.  Last year in Huatulco Mexico, they gave us regular life jackets for snorkeling, and again on this trip.  I find them impossible to deal with and they interfere with the fun of snorkeling. I’ve been disappointed for the last time. Next cruise, I will order and take my own snorkel vest.  I should have had a wet suit for early spring cold water.  Huatulco was warm! But, it was early November and the water was so much warmer further south.  La Paz was not so warm in April!  I will check water temperature charts before I book excursions.

I’ve gone snorkeling on Caribbean cruises in the past, and in the Bahamas, and cold water was never an issue, and the same for Hawaii, so I was a bit stunned by the temperatures!  Several people I met during the excursion and on board the Ruby Princess talked about the need to bring your “own gear” to have a better experience. Lesson learned.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of my fun in La Paz on the water. I have a Humpback whale album on Flickr if you want to see more photos.

Stay tuned for one more “travel story” to wrap up the April adventure!  Next stop Puerto Vallarta.  Now I leave you with the sunset as we sailed away from La Paz!

Sunset leaving La Paz Mexico

 

ps….yes, I have been quilting some this month….but I just had to share this great adventure with you.