St. George’s, Grenada

After a day at sea yesterday, this morning we arrived at St. George’s, capital of the island nation of Grenada. Early in its history Grenada was occupied for a while by the French but was later taken over by the British. The nation gained its independence from Britain in 1974.

Grenada comprises about 121 square miles and has a population of about 120,000. About 65% of the population is of African descent. The main sources of the nation’s revenue are, in this order, tourism, agriculture, and fishing.

Bus tours are nice because we don’t have to walk everywhere, but they lessen photo opportunities. I only got a few shots worth posting. (Click on a photo to see a larger version.)

In 2004 Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada hard. Here’s a church that was damaged beyond repair:

The island used to grow a lot of sugar cane, but because people no longer want to work in the sugar cane fields, that industry has died out. Now Grenada produces a lot of rum from imported molasses. Our tour groups were treated to a complimentary beverage, and the most popular choice was the rum punch. Let me tell you, they take their rum punch VERY seriously, with emphasis on the rum.

At the resort where we stopped for drinks, we also saw this traveler’s palm:

I’d never seen this kind of palm before.

Here’s a view of the port taken from our verandah just before the ship left Grenada:

Today’s interesting fact:

It’s illegal in Grenada to wear camouflage clothing or carry camo accessories. Local authorities have a zero-tolerance policy on this issue.


© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

San Juan, Puerto Rico

We arrived in Miami and boarded our ship on Wednesday, January 3. The ship departed from Miami at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After spending Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at sea, today we docked at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Originally settled by the Spanish, the area is heavily Catholic. It was named San Juan in honor of St. John the Baptist. Today, January 6, in the Christian calendar is Epiphany, the day when the birth of Christ was revealed to the three kings. In San Juan, the day is a holiday known as Three Kings Day. Our guide said, “Here in Puerto Rico, we celebrate Christmas longer than just about anyone else in the world.” He said that their celebration would end in a couple of weeks. Sure enough, later we were in a store and heard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” playing.

On our two-hour walking tour of Old San Juan we visited a fort that’s a San Juan National Historic Site maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

(Click on any image to see a larger version.)

This historic site flies three flags: the Burgundy cross (symbol of the Spanish empire when San Juan was settled, the flag of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. flag.

Many of the streets in Old San Juan are paved with blue stones that served as ballast in the Spanish galleons that brought goods and settlers to the region.

We all had to grab our hats to keep from losing them in the strong wind. When someone commented on the wind, our guide said, “Yes, it’s windy. These are the trade winds that powered ships across the Atlantic.”

Not far from our ship lay a replica of the Santa Maria, the largest of Columbus’s three ships.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Christopher Columbus holds a place of honor in Old San Juan’s center:

The beautiful Viking Sun docked in Old San Juan (please ignore the Carnival logo in the background):

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

A 2019 Book-Lovers International Travel List | Off the Shelf

At my previous job, I was fortunate enough to travel to international book fairs and visit bookstores. When I travel now for fun, the impulse sticks: find the best local bookstores, and buy at least one book. The list below is based partly on countries I’ve found myself in over the last few years and partly on my destination wish list. Join me in 2019 as I try to discover more foreign authors and beloved books, and hopefully get the opportunity to pack a few bags for some on-site explorations.

Source: A 2019 Book-Lovers International Travel List | Off the Shelf

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)


One thing that fascinates me is how words can be used to manipulate meaning. Prunes have gotten such a bad name because … well, you know. So why not call them something else:

dried plums

Sure, you see the word prunes on this bag, but the phrase dried plums is bigger so you’ll notice that first and maybe overlook the fact that this bag actually contains prunes.

Be honest now: Wouldn’t you much rather admit to eating dried plums than to eating prunes?


The activities director at our retirement community has planned a great trip to Oregon for us to view the total solar eclipse next month. We’re so excited! We even bought some special glasses for watching the eclipse safely.

These are my husband’s glasses, which he plans to wear over his eyeglasses:

eclipse-viewing glasses

I won’t be wearing mine over eyeglasses, so I opted for the wrap-around style:

eclipse-viewing glasses

Which one of us do you think will be more fashionable?


Do NOT view the eclipse with regular sunglasses.

The glasses pictured here are specially made for eclipse viewing.

The American Astronomical Society has information about the eclipse, including eye safety, here.


If Mount Rainier erupts in the near future, we can say, “I saw this coming”:

Mount Rainier with plume-like cloud

I hope you all have a remarkable week between now and next Thursday.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

85-Year-Old Marathoner Is So Fast That Even Scientists Marvel

A portrait of Ed Whitlock, age 85:

Having set dozens of age-group records from the metric mile to the marathon, Whitlock remains at the forefront among older athletes who have led scientists to reassess the possibilities of aging and performance.

The article looks at some factors that may have contributed to his peak performance level at such an age.

Paper Calendars Endure Despite the Digital Age

You’ve heard people say, “My life is on my phone.” Part of that life, presumably, is their calendar. But, perhaps counterintuitively, paper calendars continue to thrive in the digital age. While the use of desk-pad and wall calendars has declined, paper planners and appointment books “grew 10 percent from 2014–15 to 2015–16 to $342.7 million.” Decorative calendars also continue to grow in popularity.

Older adults in ED face increased risk of long-term disability: Study

A Yale University study has found that older adults who go to the emergency department, or ED, have an increased risk of disability or decline in physical abilities up to six months later.

I’m not sure what to make of the report of this study. I would think that people who visited an emergency department would be sicker than patients who didn’t. Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that the ED patients “have an increased risk of disability or decline in physical abilities up to six months later.”

Am I missing something here? The results were published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Retiring travel writer picks 5 spots you must see in your lifetime

Detroit Free Press writer Ellen Creager boils down a career of travel to these quick tips.

Creager’s #2 is also #2 on my bucket list of places to visit: the Grand Canyon.

My #1 place is Stonehenge. Hers is Paris, which I also look forward to visiting.

What About You?

What are the top one or two places to visit on your bucket list?


© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

Three Things Thursday

Last week we took a trip to Victoria, BC, with a group from our retirement community. There’s so much to see and do there, but today I’ll focus on three things that amused me.

(1) I love puns

Boat: Prince of Whales

I make no apology for this personality quirk.

(2) Mountie Moose

Moose Mountie

Royal Canadian Mounted Moose

(3) Piano Alfresco

outdoor piano

On our bus ride along the scenic route, we noticed a couple of pianos in plastic covers along the sidewalk. When we stopped along the way at a photo opportunity, a young man walked over to the nearby piano, unzipped the plastic cover, and sat down and played for a few minutes. Then he rezipped the cover and walked on his way.

Apparently these pianos are set out just so anyone who wants to can stop and play for a while. I’ve never seen anything like this before. What a great idea!

Until next time, I hope everyone has a great week.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Notes on the Olympic Peninsula

Mother Nature is making up for last year by providing us with yet another sunny day. Today I had some time to read through the booklet in our cabin about Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades national and state parks. Here are some of the nuggets of knowledge I picked up.

The western side of the Olympic Mountains receives an average of 140 inches of rain every year. There are three reasons why the area is so wet:

  • Cool ocean currents
  • Prevailing westerly winds
  • The Olympic Mountains

On the Olympic coast, the greatest rainfall occurs during December and January, with daytime temperatures averaging in the 40s.

The top of Mount Olympus receives 200 inches of rain annually, while the town of Sequim (pronouced squim), located on the northeast side of the mountains, receives 16 inches or fewer in a year.

Almost the entire Olympic Peninsula is protected land as part of either Olympic National Park or Olympic National Forest. Highway 101 follows the edges of the peninsula, but there are no roads that cut across the full width of the peninsula. Spur roads off of 101 provide access at several points to interior areas, but the only way to get from one side of the peninsula to the other is by following 101 around. Some areas are closed in winter.

Several tribes have traditional ties to this land: Lower Elwha Klallam, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Makah, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Quileutae, Quinault, and Skokomish. They originally lived in communal homes called longhouses. They fished and gathered most of their food during the spring and summer. During the winters, which are mild near the coast, the women wove baskets and clothing from red cedar bark. The men carved dugout canoes and made ceremonial items from wood.

In 1788, John Meares, an English sea captain, named Mount Olympus after the mythological home of the Greek gods. Four years later Capt. George Vancouver made the name official when he entered it on his map and referred to the whole mountain range as the Olympic Mountains. Mount Olympus is 7,980 feet high. By comparison, Mount Rainier, in the Cascade Mountain range, is 14,410 feet high.

Throughout the late 19th century pioneers moved into the Olympic peninsula to fish, farm, and cut lumber. In 1885 and 1890, the U.S. Army came through the area to survey and scientifically document the interior. In 1909 President Theodore Roosevelt created Mount Olympus National Monument. In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill designating 624,000 acres as Olympic National Park. In 1953 most of the coastal wilderness was added to the park. The 1988 designation of Olympic National Park as a World Heritage Site protects the area by forbidding road building, mining, lumber cutting, hunting, use of off-road motorized vehicles, and other types of development within the designated wilderness area.

Happy Thanksgiving & Three Things Thursday

For the third day, we awoke to clear, sunny weather. We cook most of our meals in the small kitchen in the cabin, but on Thanksgiving we treat ourselves to the buffet at the lodge’s Creekside dining room:

It took us a little over an hour to eat our way through both tables of the buffet.

Three Things Thursday


You never know what you might find if you keep your eyes open while walking along the beach.

1. Decorative Little Doll

china doll on beach

I found this little china figurine, about an inch long, among the stones on Ruby Beach yesterday. What might she represent, and where did she come from? Is some little girl missing one of her personal treasures? Or has the little doll’s disappearance gone unnoticed; if so, why?

2. Forest Reminders

Strewn across Ruby Beach were these reminders that we are not far from hundreds of acres of coniferous forest:

cone and needles

3. Holey Rocks

The holes in these rocks at Beach 4 were made by piddock clams, which use a rocking motion to burrow into the sandstone:

rocks with holes made by piddock clams

Beach Day

Once again, we awoke to beautiful sunshine. There was frost on the cars and on the sides of the driveways where the sun hadn’t yet reached, but the cabin’s heater and the comforter on the bed kept us warm throughout the night.

We drove the short distance north on U.S. Highway 101, toward Forks, to Ruby Beach (see map ). After we left Ruby Beach to drive back to the lodge, we stopped at Beach 4, also on Highway 101. I had been to Ruby Beach before but never to Beach 4. I’m glad we stopped at Beach 4 on the way home because the two beaches are quite different and I learned a bit about the Washington coast.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Ruby Beach

I had been here twice before. It’s beautiful because of the rocks, called sea stacks, that jut out of the water not too far out from shore. The stacks, remnants of eroded coastal cliffs, provide a place for birds, including cormorants, murres, pigeon guillemots, and petrels, to breed and raise their young.

sea stacks

Because we arrived just a few minutes before high tide, the sandy part of the beach was hidden by the waves. The area open for walking was covered by stones. Looking at the stones reveals that some have been in the water longer than others. Most of them have been tumbled into smooth discs or ovoids by being in the water so long, but occasionally one appears that still has an irregular shape with some jagged edges. Walking across the beach on the stones is a challenge because the stones give way and shift underfoot.

rocky beach

Ruby Beach, like the beach here at Kalaloch Lodge, is also covered with logs that have been tumbled around by the water and have eventually washed ashore.

logs on beach

Together, Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest protect a huge old-growth forest with trees between 200 and 1,000 years old. Nearly one million acres on the Olympic Peninsula are protected as wilderness—95% of Olympic National Park, five areas in Olympic National Forest, and more than 600 islands in national wildlife refuges. The logs on the beaches serve as a reminder that most of the area is covered with trees.

Beach 4

About 73 miles of coastline along Highway 101 are protected as wildlife refuge. Many of the beaches are accessible only on foot or by boat, but Beach 4 offers a parking lot and a walking trail..

The path from the parking lot down to the beach terminates in this wooden walkway:

boardwalk at Beach 4

From here you can venture out onto the rocks, if you’re brave enough. We weren’t brave enough, but there were some younger people there who were.

guys on rocks

When we arrived, the tide had recently begun to ebb. There are not as many logs on this beach as there are at Ruby Beach and at Kalaloch Lodge.

Beach 4 has few logs

Here the rocks take center stage and demonstrate how the coastline formed over the last 15 million years:

rocky coast at Beach 4

Earth’s outer crust consists of vast mobile plates carried along by convection currents. As the ocean floor collided and dipped beneath the land plate, the rocks which form the Olympic peninsula were skimmed off and added to the continent.

Hoh Rain Forest

We drove through the rain for the last hour or so of the trip yesterday. Since we had rain for the whole week we were here last year, I expected that the rain would continue, but we awoke this morning to bright sun.

We decided to take advantage of the good weather by visiting nearby Hoh Rain Forest. We had hoped to go last year, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. It’s about a 30-mile drive from the lodge to the visitors’ center. (See the map in yesterday’s post.)

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Located 30 miles from the coast on the west side of Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest receives about 140 inches of rainfall annually. Some of the largest trees in the world grow here. Western red cedar and western hemlock grow up to 200 feet tall, while Sitka spruce and Douglas firs can reach 300 feet.

Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest
Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest

The rain forest environment is also perfect for ferns:

Ferns love the rain forest
Ferns love the rain forest

We took the trail called the Hall of Mosses. Mosses cover the trees, making trunks and branches look like green fuzz.

The heavy moisture in the air muffles sounds. If you look up, you’re likely to see the tops of the evergreens swaying in a breeze that you neither hear nor feel.

Elk scat
Elk scat

Roosevelt elk live here, where they find a rich food source of all the plants that grow on the forest floor. Elk are especially fond of salmonberry bushes, which they keep trimmed well below their growth potential of 15 feet. We didn’t see any elk, but we did see evidence of their presence: