Monday, December 15, 2014

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: Blue Hole Beach

Blue Hole Beach
Road Leading to Blue Hole Beach 
General Description:   A day on a windswept beach on the Northwest  Coast of can soothe the soul.  This beach is located in a hard to reach the area near the old Ramey Air Force Base.   Blue Lagoon would be a great place to spend a day swimming and snorkeling on a beautiful beach in Puerto Rico.  

Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate due to rocky conditions when entering the lagoon. 

Grid Coordinates:  18.515156, -67.099562

Maps:   Topo PR Isabela 20130925

Finding the Beach:    From San Juan follow highway 2 for about 3 hours.   As you enter Aguadilla turn right onto PR-110.  Follow PR-110 for about 5 miles take a right on PR-4466.  After the turn as you drive you will drop down a coast bluff entering a small canyon.  Take a left once leaving the canyon onto a paved unmarked secondary road.  There will be a couple turns to the right where you can park along the road and walk to the beach.   
Blue Hole 

Map of Blue Hole
Beach Overview:  The Blue Hole is a  lagoon located between the beach and the rocky surf break that is located 150 yards from the beach.   The first lagoon is located right next to the beach beyond the smooth limestone base.  The beach although sandy has a smooth limestone base right after entering the water. There is a deeper lagoon that is used for scuba diving located just past the first lagoon.   There are marvelous coral formations and fish populations located in both. For a better experience stay at Villa Tropical for a few nights to completely enjoy the beach and rural country atmosphere.   A great place to have lunch after snorkeling is a small cafe called Ola Lola's Garden Bar.  You must try the famous Peanut Butter Burger. 
Coral Formation st Blue Hole
Snorkeling Instructions:   Once arriving at the beach you will notice an entry/exit way on the west side of the lagoon. From this point walk east about 100 yards along the beach towards the east.   Enter the water crossing a shallow limestone reef.  When the water is about knee to waist deep gear up, then snorkel out toward the breakers past the lagoon.   The prevailing wind blowing from the east will push you west towards the entry/exit way that leads to and out of the Lagoon.   You can enter the lagoon at this western edge but will be swimming against the wind.   From the eastern side snorkel along the outer edge of the lagoon. There will be many coral formations and fish as you near the second outer scuba lagoon

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sitting in a Tree

Part of my post-army semiretired life has involved sitting in trees and deer blinds.  Or, in other words, deer hunting.  The deer in Tennessee actually taste pretty good, without the gamey taste that some deer have out west.  So we try to shoot 1 or 2 a year.  This year we have gotten 1 that a friend of mine had shot while we were hunting together.

You might ask why I am writing this drivel. The reason being I'm currently in a deer blind bored out of my skull.  It's funny, I have a love and hate relationship with this thing called deer hunting.  When I'm doing it, I feel like I could be productive in so many other endeavors, like cleaning my garage or starting the living space in my barn.  

But no here I sit waiting for a whitetail to cross my path, and with each deer season, another year of my life passes.  Sitting here a few days away from Christmas thinking, oh shit, I still have a lot of shopping left to do.   As another hour of my life is lost sitting in this deer blind.  

After hunting season is over and a few months have past when there is no deer meat in the freezer.  I will again wait to go sit in a tree in a place called Whitetail Pines. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Wandering Soldier: The Sinai Deployment

Tel Aviv 
I know this happened over 20 years ago, but I now realize the importance of this trip.  It was the moment in my life that opened my eyes to the world.   In 1992 through 1993 I spent 9 months in the Sinai with the 101st Airborne Divison.  I had the opportunity to travel throughout Egypt and Israel.   I did what I like to call the Sodom and Gomorrah tour; just kidding, but I did have fun.

Yes, people, I have walk in the steps of Jesus in Jerusalem.   Then at night seen the discotheques a glow as weapons from young Israelis having stacked arms where they were blowing off steam.  Have been to where Moses saw the burning bush.  Drank wine on a hotel roof in Nazareth. Yes, that little town of Nazareth, a place where Mary and Joseph raised Jesus.  I have wailed at the wailing wall.  Tried to walk on water at the Sea of Galilee.  Floated in the Dead Sea.  Been to the top of  Masada and everywhere in between.

I guess it is kind of a misnomer to call this a deployment, my room had a view of the Red Sea with a 5-minute walk to a great swim and snorkel beach.  Then in the evening, it was to the camp club where Heinekens, Rum, and Cokes were 50 cents a piece.  Saturday Night was always steak night.  Oh, how I missed the Army before Order Number One.

The Wailing Wall Jerusalem 
Traveling in Cairo was the biggest Adventure of my life.   The Nile, the Pyramids, the Mosaics in the Churches and Mosques.  I even learned to scuba dive here receiving my certification from a Navy dive detachment stationed at the same camp.   Stopping at Israeli war battle sites on a whim.  Climbing on burned-out tanks and artillery pieces that still had the feeling of War in them.  It was all just living history which I now feel a part of.

Scuba Diving in the Red Sea 
Located in the gated community of South Camp, in Egypt on the southern tip of the Sinai where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Red Sea.  It was Paradise for a few months.  This is where I learn to love travel and all the adventure that comes with it.  This is where I learned that; The Dude Abides.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Snorkeling Puerto Rico: Crash Boat Beach

General Description:   Crash Boat is one of those special places that is better than expected once you get there.   There is a long pier into the water along with 3 separate island piers where the snorkeling among the pier pilings is incredible.    Coral grows on the pilings, but the fish swimming among the pilings is what will leave you with the feeling that you have experienced something special.  On the beach, there are a couple of hut bars along with food vendors that give the place a party-like atmosphere.   This local family beach has become one of my favorites.

Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate due to the 100 yard swim out to the Island Pilings.

Grid Coordinates:  18.458231, -67.164402

Maps:   PR Aguadilla 20130925 Topo

Finding the Beach:    Located on the western coast of Puerto Rico it is more than 3 hours from San Juan.  Take Highway 2 from San Juan to Aguadilla for about 3 hours.  Turn right on Highway 107; drive about 3 miles follow the signs to Crash Boat Beach.  Take a left on to PR 458 follow the road to the beach.  Stay the night in the many Hotels in Aguadilla or at the old Ramey Air Force Base.

Beach Overview:     This is a small public beach not in the park system.   It has free parking and many food vendors and beach hut bars.   It has a family picnic atmosphere. Snorkel but also enjoy the beach and the local food.  This place will not be forgotten.

Snorkeling Instructions:     Enter the water to the right of the Pier.  Avoid snorkeling along the Pier that runs out into the water due to the many people fishing from the pier.   You can also walk out on the pier and make the 15 foot jump into the water at the end of the pier.  Swim to one of the pier Islands you can swim through and around the pier pilings.   These three Island Piers are used for weather equipment and are not accessible by land.   Swim from the pier to enjoy the many fish and colorful coral.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Puerto Rico: Our Stay in Ocean Park

We are nearing the end of our week long stay in Ocean Park, Puerto Rico.  Our house on the beach was awesome.   This was a special trip for our sons wedding to a wonderful woman.  We are now members of a wonderful family here in Puerto Rico and Miami.   More reasons to spent more time on this Island that I have always loved.

On this trip we stayed in San Juan in the Ocean Park area a trendy area near the beach.  We rented a house for the many family members that attended the wedding.   The beach  was a nice break when not touring the Island and at the wedding, which was held right down the street in Condado.   We now look forward to returning to Puerto Rico to get to know the new part of our family.

As I continue to travel I now realize more than ever that it isn't the sites and place that we see. The most important part of travel are the people that you meet they are the real reason to travel. They are the fabric of the places that are seen.   People along with the places are the fabric of life.