Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dolphins jumping wake in Naples Fl Christmass 2008

We are spending Christmas in Naples FL with Wendy's mother. I took a fishing trip out of the harbor and encountered these dolphins jumping the wake of the Lady Brett.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rotary Polio Immunization trip to Nigeria

Last December I participated in a Polio National Immunization day in Bangladesh as part of a Rotary group. Another trip but this time to Nigeria was attended by some on the Bangladesh trip and organized by Ann Lee Hussey. Dino from Quebec Canada was on both trips and sent me the pictures below. Dino said:

HELLO and Happy New Years. I was(with my friend SERGE,Ann Lee and 10 Rotarians of the USA) in Nigeria from 23 nov to 05 dec 2008(Kano,Joes and Kaduna)for a SNID.We gave the polio’S vaccine to 7000 children in 5 days.If YOU MEET THE Kano’s Rotary’s Club(or Kaduna’s or Joe’s);tell them that you are A FRIEND OF ANN LEE.You will receive a lot of smile…Dino

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Naples Fl

Life is Good in Naples Fl

We are spending Christmas in Naples with Wendy's mom escaping from the weather in New England.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Hunt ONBH

The Old North Bridge Hounds on Thanksgiving Day.

Take a look at : (click on the following link)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving fox hunt and dinner

I started out the day with coffee at Dunking Doughnuts followed by laying the drag for the ONBH fox hunt in Concord MA with Pam, Stu, Dan and chief Fox Kathy. Two hounds followed the drag and nine went the other way after deer. A little while later the deer went running by followed by the errant hounds. Eventually the pack got back together and the hunt continued. Jinny Z. fell off with three fire trucks coming to the rescue. It looks like she will be OK. There was a black tie stirrup cup with grilled sausages. Latter we had an Indian princess over for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama HIV testing poster Nairobi Kenya

While on a Rotary International medical mission to Nairobi Kenya I found this poster featuring President Elect Obama and his wife Michelle encouraging people to be tested for HIV infection in the hall outside a Voluntary Counseling and Testing clinic in the Mathare slum.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack and Michelle in Kenya - AIDS poster

While at a Voluntary Counseling and Testing clinic in Nairobi Kenya I saw this poster on the wall. They visited Kenya last year or the year before. It is interesting that Bush's push on AIDS is a major source of funds for these clinics but it is Obama who gets the press.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Leaving Masi Mara and Kenya

Exploring the Masi Mara by baloon

Today I got up at 4:30 and coffee and cookies were brought to my room at 4:45. They have a guard walk with you from your tent to the lodge so that nothing attacks you. We left for the balloon ride at 5:15 to meet at a near by Lodge. Bob and Kay went with me. After all the people had arrived we walked a distance through the woods to a clearing where they were blowing air into a couple of giant balloons. The balloons were attached to very large wicker baskets that could hold about 12 people. After the balloons were partially inflated the captain ( there was one for each balloon) turned on the flame and the gas bag began to rise to the vertical. The basket had foot holds and using them we all climbed over the top and into one of eight sections on the basket. The bottom of each section had a cylindrical inflated pillow that we were to sit on upon landing. Additional flame caused the balloon to rise and we were off. The Masi Mara is flat to slightly rolling with several rivers (dry in some places) flowing through it. The Mara is mostly grassland with trees along the river. We saw a fantastic sunrise as we rose. There were hundreds of wildebeest (Gnu), zebra and many different antelope. We also saw a heard of elephants and some hippos in the river. Giraffes were in many places starting their day of munching. In addition to our sister balloon, there were several more in the distance. Our captain was a great guide pointing out the various herds of animals as we passed over. He didn’t have much control of direction but could raise or lower the balloon and using vents on the side, rotate the basket so all could see and our landing was in the proper orientation. The landing was very gentle and we did not tip over. About 8 workers in red uniforms controlled the balloon on lift off and landing. We were then driven a short way, (we aren’t allowed to walk in the Masi Mara to protect ourselves and the animals) to a champagne breakfast on a small rise. It was a large breakfast with egges and pancakes cooked to order in the open.

Our driver then met us and took us on another game viewing drive. We had seen everything except at leopard. We drove and drove in leopard friendly areas without seeing one. Eventually we spotted a BBC video crew that had left a monitor van to keep an eye on the leopard. After a time taking video and pictures we moved on back to the Masa Mari Intrepid tent camp for lunch. The have had the best food of all the lodges we visited. After a pleasant lunch with Bob and Kay I said good by and finished packing and went to wait on the bus to the airport. There was some confusion about who would take me to the airport but I was finally driven to the dirt strip about half a mile away. While waiting for the plane a guy drove out next to the strip to shoo zebras off the runway. Zebras on the runway are a unique problem that comes with the territory. The flight allowed great viewing of the great rift valley and we landed at Wilson airport without incident. This is a small plane airport and I had to be transferred to the Kenyatta International airport. The head of the tour company, Michael, met me and took me and my baggage to the big airport. As the small planes couldn’t take much luggage he had kept my large bag from the day before and brought it with him. I got to the airport at 5:00 to wait until my 11:00 departure. I was able to get on the Internet which has not been available for the last couple of days and work on these notes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Exploring the Samburu preserve in Kenya

Today we had to get an early start. A lodge employee brought coffee and cookies to my tent door at 6:00 am. We then got up and went to the safari van for another trek. The usual animals were sited and part way through we ate our box breakfast provided by the lodge. This area is plains interspersed among mountains and is very beautiful. A river with crocodiles runs next to the lodge and can be seen from my tent.

After the animal run I went on a nature walk that was excellent. The same naturalist as talked last night in the bar was the leader. We were accompanied by an armed guard in case we were attacked by the local fauna. I was the only customer. We are never allowed out of the van on game drives but the three of us headed out of the bush. The walk included descriptions of local plants and animals and there use in tribal society. One bush is for making tooth brushes and Francis my guide made one for me. It worked rather well. The animals were more afraid of us on foot than in the van so it was difficult to get close to them. I approached a heard of giraffes, most of whom stared at me intently. As I approached I noticed that there was no one with me. This was a little concerning as earlier in the day we had great difficulty seeing lions in the bush because of the way their brown coat color blended in with the dead grass. One could be there and I would never have seen it. I went a little further and the giraffes took off so I head back. Francis said that they didn’t come with me because if there were three of us the giraffes would never have let us get so close. Hopefully the guard was at the ready in case I was attacked. This walk was one of the better parts of the trip.

Back at the hotel I had lunch and then a dip in the pool before starting to pack for the next part of the trip. Tomorrow we fly out of Samboro for the famous Massai Mara preserve. The plane has severs baggage restrictions so our driver Paul will have to drive my luggage to Nairobi for pick up by me on Thursday on my way from the local Wilson airport to Jomo Kenyatta international airport from my trip home. I will have to carry a set of clothes and other essentials in my back pack.

In the afternoon we had another game drive on the far side of the river but didn’t see much. We returned to another talk by Francis in the bar on the animals of Samboro before another elegant dinner and to bed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

trip from Mt. Kenya to Samburu in the North

There was no night alert for the animals I had designated so while this was a very interesting rain forest site, we didn’t see many animals. It would be a very good place to hike from on one of their organized hikes.
After a very good breakfast we headed around the mountain and North across the equator to Samburu and the Intrepids tent lodge. Part of the road was very good but then there was more road construction and very rough pavement. We stopped a couple of times for rest and to fill the tires with air. It took several stops to find a gas station with a air supply that worked. When we stopped for a rest stop it was always at some type of souvenir shop. I believe that our driver was paid off. I did find some things I liked. There was always a lot of bargaining and for on transcatrion I was able to get a reduced price by throwing in a Red Socks tea shirt.

Our new Lodge was very interesting. It is on the banks of the brown (really brown) river and consists of some wooden buildings that while rustic are elegant and rooms that are a type of tent. They have a wood base and roof with wooden pillars connecting the two. There is a tent built inside the structure that provides the walls. In the back is a ceramic area that houses the shower, sinks and toilet in separate areas. It s very nicely done. The main part of the tent contains two poster beds with mosquito netting hanging down the sides. The front has a screen portion and a tent portion. To get in you must unzip both and tie the sippers at the bottom when leaving to keep the monkeys out.

After getting our rooms we went on a game drive in which we saw a mother and to cheetah (?) cubs on the hunt. Later we followed a couple of lions around but they didn’t seem hungry at the time. There was other wildlife such as giraffes, impalas, long necked gerounds (?), baboons, and many birds.

In the evening there was a talk by a Sanboro naturalist, Francis, about tribal culture that was excellent. The was followed by an elegant dinner in the tented dining room.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Amboseli at Kilimanjaro and trip to Mt. Kenya

In the morning there was an extensive spread of fantastic food. I usually start with a custom omelet made to order in the dining room. After packing I headed for the van with Paul our driver. We needed an early start as we were going back to Nairobi for lunch. Our drive started back through the animal filled swamp we had toured yesterday. However, we ran into a pride of three lions and a fresh wildebeest kill. Two lions were on one side of the road and a third was on the other side eating its kill. There were many other safari vans around but it didn’t seem to bother the lions. They may just think that the vans are a strange type of elephant. We have now seen all the big five animals (elephant, rhinoceros, hippo, lion and leopard) except that we saw cheetah rather than leopards. After the lions we saw a group of hyenas at their den or holes in the ground.

We drove across the dry Amboseli lake to get to a main road for the trip back to Nairobi. However, the van started making a lot of noise on the very bumpy road and it turned out that a metal plate that shields the transmission had come loose and was dragging. Our driver Paul did an amazing repair job. Lacking a lift he drove the left front tire up onto a rock Bob provided and used his jack to raise the metal plate. It seems that a bolt had sheared off. Paul was able to remove the stub and steal a bolt from a seat with which to replace the one that had broken. While we were there a group of Maasi came up from a nearby village to watch the proceedings. The adults were in traditional garb but some of the children were in school uniforms. I don’t think it will be too long until the Maasi give up their traditional ways completely. They are the last tribe to stay natural but technology is coming.

After the fix we headed for Nairobi over a combination of really bad and fair roads. There is a lot of road construction going on in Kenya so there are many detours. At a rest stop with a caring shop I asked where the carvings were made fearing that they were made in China or Malaysia. They took me around back and there were two guys making some new carvings. I assume that they also purchase carvings from villagers in the area.

In Nairobi we had lunch at the elegant Safari hotel that included beautiful gardens and a wooden roof with beams that reminded me of the hotel at Yellowstone. They had a good local instrumental group to play during lunch. We then headed out for Mt. Kenya (the second largest in Africa that has 5 glaciers) and the Mt. Kenya lodge. The roads were the best I have seen in Kenya with the start being dual lane. As we proceeded north the environment changed becoming much greener and wetter. More farms and plots with all sorts of vegetables and bananas were along the road. The guide book says the Mt. Kenya lodge is actually in a rain forest but a cooler one. The hotel is wooden and different than any we have been at. It is all wood with each room looking out onto a water hole. When I looked out my window there were about 30 Cape buffalo lounging around the water. A little while later they got up and ambled off. The hotel will ring your room during the night to alert you to the animals that are currently at the water hole.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More pictures from Amboseli at Kilimanjaro Kenya

Today I was up at 6:00 to get ready for a 7:30 departure to Amboseli national park at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Japanese dentist was up early watching the water holes from the veranda of the hotel and had spotted a hippopotamus in the water. All I could see were a couple of nostrils and occasionally a back. He never got further out of the water while we were there. Previously we had seen many hippopotamuses in other wet locations but this is the only one at the lodge and he or she was alone.

Bob, Kay, Julie and I then set off with our driver Paul through the Massai village we had visited before onward to Amboseli park and Kilimanjaro. The road was very dusty with a stop at a village were I purchased a mask. Julie helped me bargain with the vendors. We purchased some things as there is no middleman as in the markets in Nairobi. The difference between the asking price and the final price is amazing. We went from a volcanic higher area down into the plains and then up again as we approached the mountain. The land changed for bush to basic farming as we rose in altitude. Coming out on another plain we approached a gigantic grass swamp with thousands of animals. It was spring fed and was a band around the base of Kilimanjaro. All the usual animals were there but in vast numbers. However, while we saw a number of kills we did not encounter any lions or leopards.

We then proceeded to Amboseli Serena Lodge in a small forest on the edge of the treeless swamp. It has somewhat nicer accommodations than our last hotel but without the amazing veranda overlooking the water holes. We could have seen every animal just by sitting on the veranda at the last lodge. However, this lodge is on the side of a game trail the animals use at night so again one can sit on the veranda and watch the animals go by as one sips one’s gin and tonic.

After a swim in a beautiful pool we went out again in the safari van in search of lion and leopard. The start was slow but we saw thousands of animal next to and in the shallow swamp. We even saw more hippos grazing while semi submerged in the grass. This is not a typical swamp but a wet area without trees that is mainly mud and short plants. Zebras and Gnus stay on the hard ground next to the swamp so that they can run if attacked. Elephants and hippos wade right in.

We were in search of cats and initially saw none but eventually came across a lion taking a snooze. We wanted to see some action but all he did in half and hour was to turn over. We headed back somewhat dejected. However, we soon came across 4 leopards that were stalking wildebeest. There were thousands that got out of the way of the cats. After the cats passed the wildebeest seemed to follow the cats. Strange? However, the cats did not seem to find the right beast so never connected. We returned to the Amboseli Serena lodge. After freshening up I sat on the veranda and watched hundreds of animals pass at close range as the hotel was right next to a major game path. They were mainly zebra, Gnu and various antelope. Not long after the parade stopped for the night. Bob and Kay came later and did not get to see any of the animals. We then had an elegant Swahili dinner that included goat on a spit which was very tasty. There were many other delicious dishes, some I recognized. I went to be to bed by 9:30. We have really been on the go and the extra sleep was welcome.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Climbing a hill in the bush at Kiliguni in Taso park

After breakfast we had another game drive through the woods. This time we went more up into the mountains and almost saw a leopard as one other van had but it went into hiding before we got there.

After returning a group of us went on a nature hike with an armed guard and naturalist. It started off flat over the well warn paths used by the animals coming to the water holes at the lodge. Then it started up one of the five sisters hills. The path was steep at it was hot being late morning. All of the group stopped part way up with Andy, I and the naturalist continuing all the way to the top. This was no small hill but at the top there was a big pile of animal dung so something big had made it up the steep sides to the top. It was so steep that we even had trouble going down without falling. One girl fell landing in a pile of elephant dung which covered her face and pants.

In the late afternoon we went on another game drive up into the hills and saw the usual suspects but no cats.

After an excellent dinner at the hotel hundreds of cape buffalo cam to the water hole and pushed the elephants out.