Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bosque Tour de Norway

Clifton, Texas
May, 2014
We have found another winner of a ride. This was Clifton's 3rd annual tour but we just discovered it this year. First things first, where is Clifton? Turns out it is near Waco. Next: Bosque? Means a cluster or group of trees, Spanish for woodlands. Tour de Norway? Clifton was settled by Norwegian immigrants in the mid-19th century. In 1997, the Texas Legislature officially designated Clifton as the Norwegian Capital of Texas. Hence, Tour de Norway featuring some of the churches of the period and old houses along the routes.
Of course we explored the area but first we will feature the ride.
 Over 200 riders lined up for either a 20, 40, 60, or 80 mile ride. Christine, still recovering from her broken arm, chose the 20 mile ride. I, being old and out of shape, chose the 40 mile route. (Christine will soon be recovered and soon I will get into shape so fixing two out of three of our problems--not bad).
 The start of the ride was not too bad. Good roads, mostly flat terrain, just chilly enough to boast your energy, and good company to ride with. In the Texas jersey is Mark (Cowboy) whom we see frequently on the tours.
 The first rest stop features Our Saviors Lutheran Church. The church was organized in 1869 by the Norwegian settlers. Construction was completed in 1885. 
The cemetery on the church property serves as the burial site for a number of Norwegian settlers, including Cleng Peerson, considered to be the "father" of Norwegian immigration to the U.S.
The 40 mile route consisted of a series of rollers. I don't think any were over 6% grade, although I heard that the 80 mile route had some tough 17-20% hills. Mr. Out of Shape will stick to the 6%'ers for now.  
 Most of the down hills were gentle also.
 Anyone interested in country living in a nice area? This house and property are for sale.
 I noticed people stopping ahead but didn't spot a rest stop. The attraction was St. Olaf Kirke (the Rock Church). More about this church in our next post.
 Across the road from the church were these Llamas. They were used to people stopping to visit the church so were quite tame.
 Nice country side and still the gentle rollers.

 At rest stop 3, Mark and I parted ways. He was going to do the 80 ride so I told him I would see him later.
 This was one of the 40 mile route best downhill's. And as one may discern from the background, it was a good long downhill.
 Scenery from the last leg.
 The little dot in front was a guy on a recumbent. To pass the time, he and I played tag. I would pass him on the inclines, and he would pass me on the declines. He was friendly, so we would converse as we passed each other.  
 A nice patch of Mexican Hat wildflowers on the wayside. I did not see one blue bonnet on the whole ride.
 My welcome home "crowd". Christine had long finished her ride and was able to finish reading her book by the time I arrived.
The finish, but hopefully not the last time. The Tour de Norway is another keeper in the tour line up. Looking forward to a return trip. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

St. Lucia (2) Qualibou Volcano

 St. Lucia
 Why get off the ship with on-board scenery such as this?
 We were eager to see the island so we did leave the ship in the beautiful harbor.
 We were on a tour that went from Castries (where we docked) through the mountainous interior to Soufriere. On the way we would see the Qualibou volcano and the Morne Coubaril Plantation.
 The drive was very scenic.
 Pollination of banana trees.

 Yes, it is what it looks like. No, we didn't ask the driver to stop.
 A little easier on the eyes.
 Our first glimpse of the twin Pitons (spikes, in French) and the city of Soufriere. The larger is Gros Piton and the smaller Petit Piton.  
 We finally arrived at the Qualibou volcano (Sulfur Springs Volcano). The caldera (large crater formed by volcanic explosion) is shown here. It is sometimes touted as an active volcano and sometimes inactive.
 With sulfuric steam and boiling water coming to the surface, I will go along with active.
 The obligatory vendors at every attraction.
Waterfall along the staircase for a view from the top.

Hopefully discernable are the many colors as a result of sulfur, iron, calcium oxide, copper oxide, magnesium, carbon and other minerals deposited there.

Caught a humming bird in flight. Of course it was planned (translation: if you shoot enough pictures, you get lucky sometimes).

Some time back they would let people walk in the active area. However, a guide was jumping on a slab by a steaming water hole, fell in and had severe burns on the lower half of his body. Viewing is from afar now. 
On the way out, another waterfall adorned the area. As much as we would have like to linger, it was time to head toward the plantation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

St. Lucia (1)

 St. Lucia
Coming into the St. Lucia harbor, the island looked "like the rest". The islands are either uplifted coral reef or built up by volcanic eruptions. St. Lucia is a product of volcanic origin, one of which we were going to get to see. However, I get ahead of myself. 
 As we approached our docking station, I occupied myself with my routine. Standing on the balcony and taking pictures of whatever the particular island has to offer. An airplane was on a runway and it intrigued me as it was the first "airport" seen on the trip. 
 Soon I was back to the norm, taking shots of the houses or businesses that line a shore.
 But the airplane that was thinking about taking off still kept my interest.
 Wait a minute. That is the take-off/landing strip! I hoped our slow entry into the port would continue as I had to see the outcome.
 The pilot was probably as nervous as I was as he was using all of the available strip. 
 As it turns out, Liat, the Caribbean island air service uses a STOL (short take off and landing) turbo prop plane. Thank goodness.
This story has a happy ending. The plane took off, and headed toward its next island destination. The passengers may breathe again until it is time to land.
We were about to land (dock) at our port and Christine and I have a tour lined up so it was time to go inside to get ready for our next adventure.