Saturday, November 29, 2008

Geocaching at the Lehigh Gap

Today we went geocaching at the Lehigh Gap. We went off trail for part of the trip, including a climb up the mountain, and eventually found both geocaches that we set out to find! It was a grey, blustery and chilly day, but after we climbed up the mountain we were very warm.

Grey skies from the top of the mountain

Anthony finds the first geocache

Heather and Anthony examine the contents. We added a little first aid kit as our contribution.

View from the descent

A few sparse pines

Geocache number two! Heather finds a frog.

Everybody helped, including Joey the dog. Actually, Joey didn't really help, Joey was easily distracted, and then he got cold.

View from the trail

The two geocaches we found were GCNE15 "Cache with a view" and GC13ER7 "Lehigh Gap Cache"

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto

Sunday November 16

This morning we traveled to downtown Aguadilla and saw the center of town. After an authentic Puerto Rican barbeque style lunch of rice and beans and fried sweet plantains, we went swimming in the Caribbean at Playa Crashboat.

Beautiful Playa Crashboat

Monday November 17

Today we hiked El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. We hiked along lush forest paths with palm trees and tropical flowers.

Early morning view of the ocean from behind our house before our trip

Cliffs to the ocean behind our house

Coca Falls in El Yunque

View of El Yunque Tropical Rainforest

Mountains of El Yunque

La Mina Falls
Flowers in the park

Tuesday November 18

This morning we shopped at the Mayaguez Farmers Market for papayas, pineapple, oranges, and sugar cane. I sampled some fresh made papaya and passion fruit juice. We bought coconuts which were freshly chopped open by machete while we waited, and then drank the refreshing coconut water inside.

Oranges, pineapples, papaya, bananas, coconut, avocado, and many more

Varieties of root vegetables, banana leaves, and other vegetables

We visited Mayaguez Old Cemetery. Family and heritage is cherished.

Later we swam at calm Buye Beach in Cabo Rojo until sunset. In the evening, we traveled to an outside park with gardens and sculptures and live music.

Wednesday November 19

Today we visited Arecibo Radio Observatory, the largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed. It is difficult to capture the scale of this magnificent structure. Arecibo telescope was used to determine the rotation rate of Mercury, the first solid evidence of neutron stars, the first binary pulsar, and made the first direct image of an asteroid.

Arecibo radio telescope

Tropical flowers at Arecibo

In the afternoon we visited the Taino Ceremonial Center at Caguana, sacred site of the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. Sacred petroglyphs adorned the ancient rocks.

A Taino couple sang for us a song about the sacredness of our Earth.

Taino man dressed for sacred ceremony

Thursday November 20

Today we swam in the rough waters of Jobo Beach, a favorite beach of surfers. We watched pelicans dive for their dinner.

Whitecaps and rough waters

On the other side of a large rock formation the waters are sapphire blue and have even stronger currents and waves.

Cliffs plunging to the ocean

Late afternoon sun

Friday November 21

Today we visited San Germán, the second oldest city of Puerto Rico, after San Juan.

Porta Coeli (Gateway to Heaven) Church, built in 1606, is one of the oldest church structures in the western hemisphere.

Beautiful architecture in this quaint town

Another historic Catholic church.

Later in the day we went to La Parguera, for some ocean kayaking to a small island where we snorkeled and saw purple sea fans, purple and yellow fish, angelfish, sea urchins, and beautiful coral formations.

Ocean kayaks

View from the island

In the evening we went boating in the Bioluminescent Bay. When swimmers agitated the water, a blue green light was emitted by micro-organisms in the water. They looked like sparks of tiny stars!

Saturday November 21

We spent the morning and early afternoon swimming in the aqua waters of Playa Crashboat.

In the evening we went to a Quinceniero party, to celebrate a fifteenth birthday. We had plenty of food, socializing, talking, laughing, and of course, dancing!

This Quinceniero had an Egyptian theme!

Later we said goodbye to Puerto Rico. We had a wonderful time in "La Isla del Encanto", which translated means "The Island of Enchantment." We enjoyed the lush rainforest, beaches of crystal clear water, the warm and welcoming islanders, and the history and music of this stunningly beautiful island.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Back from Puerto Rico

I'm back from my island vacation. Stay tuned for photos coming soon including a trip to a National Rainforest, Arecibo observatory, a conversation with a Taino Indian, beautiful beaches, the bioluminescent bay, the farmer's market, and picturesque small towns. Here's a teaser until I finish the full report!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This touching video is making its way through the "Baha'i world" and I am pleased to post it here. Based on a beautiful prayer, it reminds us that in the midst of the most difficult times, faith can pull us through.

Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world’s afflictions can in no wise alarm me. -Baha'u'llah


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Loans That Change Lives: Kiva

The first of the Millennium Development Goals is to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger".

The Baha'i International Community's statement "Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One" proposes that the solution to poverty is not just the transfer of financial resources. A method of poverty alleviation is to assist individuals to reclaim dignity and self-worth and encourage these individuals to gain confidence to improve their condition and realize their potential.

One "Quick Win", or easily identifiable solution with a profound impact, is microlending. Microlending is loaning individuals or families money in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency. Often a small amount of money can help someone start or maintain a business or get some training. For example, a woman may need a sewing machine to start a small clothing shop, or a family may need to buy some pots and pans for a restaurant.

Kiva is "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world." If you search the Kiva website, you will find descriptions of entrepreneurs and their specific needs. You can loan as little as $25 to one of these individuals or families and have the satisfaction of empowering someone to lift themselves out of poverty. The loans have a high rate of repayment, allowing you to lend to others if you so choose.

If you'd like, take a look at their website: Kiva . It is fascinating to read the stories of the entrepreneurs and gain a little insight into the lives and needs of people working to pull themselves out of poverty and contribute meaningfully to their community. You can also read about the lenders, ordinary people like you and me, and what helping someone has meant to them.

United Nations Millennium Development Goals: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Countdown Begins!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ricketts Glen State Park

Today we went to beautiful Ricketts Glen State Park and hiked the aptly named Falls Trail, which has 22 waterfalls. The highest waterfall is 94 feet tall. The combination of Autumn foliage and rushing waterfalls was absolutely stunning.

We were surprised to find snow on the ground on the upper part of the trail.

Pretty green hemlocks and white snow.

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