Saturday, July 16, 2016

Quick Paddle up the Onion

Entering the Onion River
Day 6 (7/16/16)

Eileen had the week off and so far we had spent most of it working on the Town Hall. For more on that you will have to check out my Dolmen Project Blog site. We had wanted to get out camping during the week but it just never worked out so we decided to at least take advantage of the beautiful day and go out to Waldo Mill Pond. It is not for the pond itself but the onion river that we so enjoy these outings. Most of Mill Pond is scummy this time of year but as you start making your way into the river it turns very clear. By the time you are actually in the river you can watch the fish darting around under your kayak. If not for the constant droning of traffic and airplanes you could easily imagine yourself in a primordial wonderland. We noticed that the river seemed lower than it has in the past and occasionally we got caught up on rocks but with a little maneuvering we were able to make it up past the bridge. It was great to just enjoy the beautiful day. On the way back down stream it is always more exciting as you have to be prepared to dodge obstacles and negotiate around branches. As usual when we got back to the pond the wind was in our faces. It wasn’t bad but after the river it just doesn’t have the same ambiance.

Just getting started



Belted Kingfisher 

I will have to look this guy up

Under the Bridge

Forest Primeval 

Coming Home

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mauthe 2016

Pretty white flowers
Day 5 (6/17/16)

I am guessing that we won’t have a lot of time to kayak or blog this summer. We purchased an old Town Hall in Belgium, Wisconsin and plan to renovate it into a studio and gallery. I will be doing update blogs on my Dolmen Project Blog site. Since we close on the property on June 24th we have been trying to pack our entire summer of work and fun into two weeks. Mauthe Lake has always been one of our favorite kayaking spots so it was a no-brainer that when we got the chance we headed there first. It was a beautiful sunny day with very little wind, in other words, a perfect day for kayaking. We raced across the lake and into river. On the way up river we were not alone but before long the others had returned to the lake and we had the river to ourselves. Lately there have been flocks of freshwater Pelicans hanging out along the lake in Sheboygan. We were lucky enough to see a group circling above us at Mauthe. We hoped for a closer look but never got one. The river was fairly high so we continued upriver until we got to our usual turnaround. When we got there however somebody had cut away some brush so we were able to go even farther. We then headed back down to our favorite hidey-hole, a narrow channel that goes back into the swamp. At the end is a crystal clear pool with hundreds of bubbling springs. They are just so mesmerizing to watch and record. It is also usually about ten degrees cooler. As usual it was hard to leave but since it was our first outing we were not used to sitting that long. We worked our way back to the boat dock, stopped for our obligatory icy and headed for home.  

End of the line or is it?

Maybe we can go father

Does this make my tree look big?

Our favorite Hidey-hole



Hmmm where did that dragon fly go?

Pretty flowers

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sunrises and Sunsets

This first one is actually a sunset from our first day
Day 4 (3/27-4/1/16)

For my last blog from Cancun I thought it appropriate to dwell on some sunsets and sunrises. As I have said before, we were up every morning before sunrise to get the most out of our day. The first two are not featured as we were sitting on the bus when they occurred. I will let them talk for themselves. 

Sail Boat Sunrise

First Sunrise

It is really hard to stop

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mr Rogers Neighborhood

Mr. Roger
Day 3 (3/30-31/16)

We had kind of planned on taking another tour on Wednesday morning but everything we were interested in was already booked and we had intended on meeting our friend Roger in the afternoon anyway. So far we had taken little time to enjoy of the amenities our hotel so we decided to have a look around. As we walked down the beach we noticed that right next to our hotel there appeared to be what looked like another Mayan Ruins. We had to climb up around the outside to gain access to it but, sure enough, what we found was indeed the remains of a late post-classical period temple. It had been named the “Scorpions Temple” for the remains of a scorpion sculpture found on an inside wall. It was a rather small temple and in quite bad shape but still fun to explore and it was right next door. As I have mentioned before I am married to Miss Adventure so she decided that we should give the public bus system a try. We had read a tongue in cheek guide that described the intercity buses as somewhat questionable with drivers who all think they were formula 1racers. We were warned they just may stop for a taco along the way and that we should never assume that the drivers are going to know or care where you are going. Yeah, that about sums it up. Our first attempt got us about halfway to Rogers’s neighborhood before we decided to take a cab the rest of the way just to be on the safe side. As it turns out that was a good idea since the bus turned off several blocks from Rogers Hostel and the entry was halfway down an alley. Once we found our way the bus was a piece of cake. Once we found Roger we went out in search of “Cerveza”. We soon found a little outdoor Woodfired Pizza place that had exactly what we were looking for. After a couple of hours of catching up we moved on to another restaurant that offered more traditional fare. When we complimented our waiter on his impeccable English he informed us that he had spent most of his life in Texas and had moved back to Cancun a couple of years before. He was quite happy to have some customers to speak English to. Eileen and I both ordered shrimp cocktail our favorite traditional Mexican food and it did not disappoint. All too soon it was time to try our luck again with the bus. This time it went off without a hitch. We even met some girls from California would were just down the road from us. After getting up early to watch yet another sunrise it was off once again to old Cancun to spend the day with Roger. We spent the first part of the day checking out the neighborhood. We then decided to find a outdoor market that we had heard about. With very little trouble we eventually found it. Perhaps because it was early in the day and there were few customers the vendors were ruthless. It didn’t take long before we realized that very much of that would drive us completely bonkers so we decided to find a cafĂ© for more food and Cerveza. Again we found a little outdoor establishment and before long the, I am assuming, owner had taken us under her wing and made it her priority to show us a good time. I could right volumes on the genuine hospitality of the people. By the time we had lunch and a couple of Cervezas the owner hugged us when she saw us off. After that both Roger and we had to head back to our respective lodging to prepare for leaving the next day. It had been a good time but soon it must come to an end.
Miss Adventure

Temple of the Scorpion

Scene from the Temple
Old Town Cancun

Second Restaurant

A New Day in Mr Rogers Neighborhood

First Restaurant (Day View)

Second Restaurant (Day View)

The Hood


In the Park

Something you almost never see

Catching Up

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Living the Mayan Life "Chichen Itza"

The Castle of Kukulcan Pyramid
Day 2 (3/29/16)
It is day two and we are on the road again before sunup. This time it is off to Chichen Itza. We are far more rested today and although we got picked up over a half hour late we are in much better spirits. Today we are working our way inland away from the coast and unlike yesterday there is very little in the way of human activity along the highway. When we got halfway to Chichen Itza our guide Freddy started his litany. Freddy was not only an anthropologist but also a Mayan which made for a very interesting and informative lecture. He and his wife are trying to raise their children as Mayan as possible which includes sleeping in hammocks rather than beds. Among the vast information he gave us on the Mayan culture Freddy spent a great deal of time on the Mayan Calendar and its association with social and occupational status. Mayan occupations and social status was determined by birth date and we were able to purchase a Mayan calendar with our birthday and its significance listed. It turns out that I would have pretty much been doing the same thing that I am doing now. I was born on the day 13 Kan, In the month 12 Zac which makes me a; “Creator of possibilities, the illuminated one, the helper. Dispenses doubts with knowledge. His attribute is harmony while being governed by Mars.” This could also just make me a sucker who bought a calendar.

When you first see the Castle of Kukulcan Pyramid you begin to understand why it is one of the new seven wonders of world but it isn’t until you start exploring it that you really begin to understand just how incredible it is. First off, it is the largest Mayan Calendar in existence with just about every facet of its structure set up to track time. We just missed the descending of Kukulcan (the snake god) which happens every March 21st for the spring Solstice. At the certain time on the 21st the sun lines up so that a shadow appears which appears like a snake descending the staircase. Perhaps my favorite feature of the Pyramid thought is that if you stand by the north stairway and clap your hands the sound that comes back to you is the sound of a quetzal, the sacred bird of the Mayans. Apparently the steps have been designed in such a way as to create this harmonic distortion. How they were able to tune their stairs to sound like their sacred bird is mind boggling. Apparently the pyramid is made in such a way that it is a natural amplifier and a priest speaking from the top could be heard above the massive crowds that would attend the ceremonies. At some point archaeologist decided to tunnel into the interior of the pyramid to see what was inside. What they found was another pyramid so it is thought that every fifty two years, which is the Mayan life cycle, a new pyramid was build over the old one. In the very interior they found a jaguar chair and a Chac mool sculpture which told them that the pyramid was used for human sacrifice. As I said on my last blog it would seem that Cichen Itza was more associated with human sacrifice than Tulum or at least we didn’t see evidence or hear about it. It turns out that there were two types of human sacrifice performed at Chichen Itza. The first was mostly reserved for the enemy warriors. These were more violent and consisted of breaking the warriors back and while he was incapacitated cutting out his still beating heart and burning it in the bowl which Chac mool held on his belly. The second was reserved for children who were raised for the purpose of sacrifice and less violent. Up until the age of sacrifice usually around thirteen or fourteen these children and their families were treated very well. At the ceremony of Sacrifice they were drugged and dressed in robes that were decorated with gold and jewels and then thrown in to the cenote, a large sinkhole with groundwater in the bottom. Some of these children survive and then they were exalted. There were many more buildings at Chichen Itza, but perhaps second only to the Castle of Kukulcan in importance is the ball court, one of the best examples outside of Peru. Again there is evidence of human sacrifice associated with the game but it is disputed just which was sacrificed the winner or loser. From the Ball Court it is just a short walk down to the Cenote and its sauna building. Again we worked our way back to the bus through the markets and again we were glad that we had been there early when we saw all the buses arriving.
Hi Eileen

Their everywhere.

This door was cut into Kukulcan Pyramid to find what lay inside
Ball Game Court from a distance

Chac Mool on the Temple of the Warriors 

The Temple of the Warriors

Chac Mool at the Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars

Inside the Ball Game Court

The Sacred Cenote

Eileen at the Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars

Platform of the Skulls, Where the skulls of the victims of War were stacked

Annex to the Temple of the Jaguars