Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our trip to Ecuador and Peru - Getting there

We had an early flight out of Vancouver, via Houston, and then to Quito, Ecuador.  Pat arranged our air fare from Victoria to Vancouver and our over night at the Fairmont Hotel, by paying with our Visa Points.  This was an adventure, in itself.  He persevered and used the points.  We taxied out the airport and caught our flight (No. 1 airplane - I will do a count of the airplanes we were on).  later in the afternoon.  Collected our bags and walked and walked in the Vancouver Airport.  Its a lovely place, but sooo much walking.  We checked into the Fairmount and went to dinner.  Maria had arranged to give us our dinner.  We really do have the best Travel Agent.   Upon inquiring, an Airport help person told us that we would need to be 3 hours early for our check in to Continental Airlines in the morning.  Our departure time was at 7:40 so we were up by 4:00 am.  We were far too early, of course.  Continental were not even open when we got down.  Finally got checked in and bags going through to Quito.  I get a few sunrise photos out of the windows in the lounge. 
on our way, at last.
This might be Annicus Island. not sure.  If anyone knows please tell me.  Its flying over Vancouver.
More of the Vancouver sunrise.
We manage to catch a nap after breakfast on the plane.
Flying into Houston.. I have no idea what these circles might be.  Please tell me if you know. 
More of Houston. 
We get off this Flight No. 2 and have no trouble finding our Continental flight to Quite.  Through the line ups.  We each have a light carry on bag.  We seem to have packed properly and do not lose anything going through the checks.
Over Quito, Ecuador.  This is our No. 3 Airplane.  We have a nice dinner, with wine, and again a nap. We get into Quito about 11:00 pm.  after a 5 hour flight.  Long line ups but no hassels.  We are met by our Celebrity representative, on our bus and checked into our room before 12:15.  We are at 12000 feet altitude, so must be mindful.  Pat and I both have slight fever and headaches.  Its been a long day, but a good one.  Pat took a pill for the altitude.  I took a tylenol.  To sleep.. with a meet in the lobby at 8:45 in the morning.  I think we are 3 hours earlier here.  Pat is keeping track of it.  But I set my wrist watch for this time, while at home.  This is March 5th.

In my garden yesterday  I managed to get the shrubs on Parmar's side of the house clipped back.  Dug out self seeded holly trees, dandilions and blackberries.  Cleaned up the clippings and have a wheel barrow full for the compost bin.  It was raining and I caught a chill, but am happy to have this done.  I have a camas growing in pure clay by the chimney.  It is underplanted with bishops weed, and has a back drop of the deep purple Jackamani clematis.  This little corner has a Japanese anemone, the pink Simplicity rose and the burning bush to screen their garbage cans from my front entryway.  In front of the rose, the boxwood hedge begins at that end.
In my Garden today, I planted out most of the alpines I had purchased at the rock and alpine show on Saturday.  Since we are going to be away, again this summer; I put the tiny drabas, and others, right into the small rockery.  I am hoping they get established by July and will survive.  I used up a bag of sand, and a bag of pea gravel, as well as a bag of compost.  I have yet to plant the fussy ones.  The pleiones, a daphne and a blue poppy.  These really should go into pots, but I do not want them drying out, so I will put them in the ground and hope they survive.  The pleiones need spagham moss to grow in.  The daphne is going to grow to 5 x 5 so it needs a spot with good drainage yet moisture retentive.  The little rockery is too small for it.  It may have to take pride of place in the front by the little rock wall.  Maybe the pleiones and the blue poppy can be in the same area.  I have a lovely little silene and a few other little rock plants in the area. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Plant show and sale

This Silene was the star of the show yesterday.  I have one growing in my garden.  Beaver Creek Nurseries had quite a few of them on sale, but by the time I had gone through the Club plant sale room, all the Silenes were gone.  All their tufa rocks were sold also.   This silene is propagated by root cuttings or by seed.
I have purchased two Plieones and have been studying the care and growing of these plants... I have killed far too many of them, but intend to have these two survive.  I will plant them in pots in the right orchid mix and keep them moist during spring, summer and autumn, but dry totally in winter.  Do not let them freeze.  People here in Victoria have been known to grow them outside.  So, if mine survive and become more numerous, I shall try a few in the front little rockery in leaf mold, and some soil.  Here is a good web site on Plieones
A cute show of a gentiana.  She did not really grow it in this spot, but stuck the little plant in the rock.  I have a lovely Gentian (forget the variety) that is expanding slowly and blooms regularly every Spring for a long period of time with lovely big trumpets.    I also have a tiny tiny one that is a bog gentiana and it blooms every year also.  I have tried others, but these are the ones that survive.  I will eventually try more of these again, too.  I really like the blue
A Japanese flowering quince bonsai.  Its lovely, but I don't think I can do bonsai...  I am away from home too much and they need almost daily care.  I have a tiny willow that is a natural bonsai growing in a larger clay pot with its big rock and moss.  When I was away last July, it was really hot here, and this little plant dried out.  Thank heavens it survives though.  With a few little dried branches it is looking authentically bonsai!  It has never quite been ready for showing ... I am never ready, either.  I really must try a few plants in the show, one year!  I have 2 tiny evergreens  to try in large pots.  I will be adding other small alpines to the pots.  I also have a new Daphne that is going to get to a 5 ft x 5 ft size, that will be in its own pot
 Some of the small mounding plants in the show.  I have a couple from last year that survived the hot  July, as did my precious small Daphne.  This year I have  bought a few more small ones.. 2 drabas, to fill in the little rockery at the back by the vegetable garden - this is where my lewisias are growing and doing fairly well.. along with a few others, that I cannot recall the names.  I expanded this area just last year, so it has had this time to settle.  It should be good to put a couple of the small ones into now.  I have pea gravel for top dressing.  This might be too big for some of the tiny plants.  I have my large tufa rock that I got last year, in this little rockery.  I could hollow out a spot or two for a couple of the small plants... maybe... maybe next year.
 This is an example of a plant growing in the tufa rock.    It looked really good on display.  I might need to get one of my little plants established in my big tufa rock.    This year, all the tufa rock was gone before I got out of the local plant sale room and back to the commercial sales.

I got 18 plants at the show and sale with an outlay of about $100.  So, I am carefully reading up on the care of the plants.  I think I will keep the Pleiones in pots for now.  The new Daphne is eventually going to be 5 ft x 5 ft..  It, too will go into a smaller pot, so as not to be "over potted".  The most expensive plant by far was a tiny Hosta at $12  I will be putting it in the little shade area near the Harry Lauders Walking Stick shrub.  .. more plans, of course but will do as much of it as soon as I can, so that they can get established somewhat before we are traveling again.

We went for a nice drive about this afternoon in the rain.   We had a stop at the Brentwood Bay nursery on Benvenuto.  They have a terrific selection of plants.  I found a wall flower, another anemone - blue one, another drumstick primula, and a blue poppy.  I am determined to get one of these difficult plants established.

I have to check Trio gravel mart for prices on crushed rock and bark chip for the renovation of the woodland path.  I hope to renovate the whole woodland this year, but the way things are shaping up, I may be lucky to get my rock plants settled in.

I have been having a terrible day on my computer but a fine day otherwise.  The dinner turned out fine, despite my neglect.  I had to clear the cache in my Firefox so I could see my hotmail messages.  Very frustrating, considering this is suppose to be a faster loading Firefox, new additon.  Bother!  I do wish they would stop mucking about with something that works.  My old Windows 98 was faster than this windows I have now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pats outline of our trip to Ecuador and Peru

This is the best photo I have of the animal figures from our fly over of the Nasca Lines.  This one is called the hands.  These figures are gigantic.  There are many theories of the origins of the lines.  I found this site helpful.

 This map shows   the hands next to the highway that runs through the area.(Pan American Highway)  There are farms in the area too.  More photos on this later in my blog.

Pat's version of our trip

Our trip was good all in all, overlooking the hassle of flying in and out of the U.S. these days. Long line-ups, shoes off, passports examined at every turn. "Inspectors" rifling through carry-on bags frequently.  Terminal paranoia!
  We pulled out all the stops and flew business class where we could, as our 40th was at the end of December.  On the Continental 737's this gives that extra leg-room I covet, and more space to stretch out, with better food and included beverage service, and the first-class lounges where available, if time permits. Lounges are all included for food and beverage service too. The nicer, bigger aircraft like the 757 from Lima to Houston had angled seating with footstool shelves, and I could almost stretch out flat! This was great as we got on at 11:40 pm, to arrive at Houston early am. Actually got some sleep enroute.
  Quito is quite a high altitude, but we were okay there. After a day there and a city tour and  to the equator monument we flew with Celebrity Tours to the Galapagos Islands, were taken by buses to the dock and loaded into Zodiacs for a twenty minute ride to the Xpedition cruise ship, our residence for the week. Staterooms were small, but nicely appointed and comfortable for us who travel in a camper van. The Zodiacs are about 24 ft. long, and will plane with their 100 hp Yamaha outboards. Two trips ashore daily, to see the creatures, one each morning and afternoon, and a choice of a shorter or longer walk with a local naturalist guide to give the talk and answer questions. The guides were all good and spoke English well. Among the wildlife were Frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, flightless Cormorants, and a variety of finches, distinguished by long, short, curved or straight beaks, according to their diets. There were penguins and sea turtles, lots of tracks up the sand banks where the turtles nest, just an overnight egg-dropping, leaving them to hatch from the heat of the sun.
  Giant tortoises stopped along some walking trails so getting really close for pictures was easy. Without predators they are very docile. All are protected, no hunting or fishing happens without local government sanction. Getting rid of a feral goat population has been a priority as they consumed too much plant life for the natural  animals to flourish.
  All was included on the ship, a smaller one with about 100 guests and about half that many staff. We couldn't take full advantage of this as we each had an off-day or two with lost appetites, didn't even enjoy the dinner wines. Maybe just as well...could have been the heat, 90's daily, or the ship's motion, or the food, who knows? It was a common thread among many of us, with nothing too serious after all.
  Peru was another interesting visit. 6 of us went on, several , 8 I think cancelled this part because Machu Picchu was closed due to torrential rains in February which washed out the Orient Express railway that was to take us there from Cusco, in luxurious style! Cusco is interesting anyway, and we got to visit other nearby Inca ruins. Only one rainy day in the whole two weeks, Well-warned, rain jackets got used that once. Shopping was too easy, we got nice alpaca sweaters for $20.00 each! Couldn't try bargaining at that rate, besides they gave us cocoa tea and a spinning and weaving demonstration first.
  Our alternative to Machu Picchu was seeing the Nazca lines, great geographs on the ground that are of unknown origin, perhaps 4,000 years old, and are unrecognizable until you are 1500 feet above them. Von Daniken's popular book"Chariots of the Gods" made us aware of the phenomenon in the 1970's, so this was a treat for us. They flew ur over in a Cessna Caravan, a twelve-passenger plane. An hour and forty minutes were spent flying to the geographs and over them. They cover an area of about 50 kilometers square, and depict a whale, hummingbird, spider and a monkey, to my recollection. They are remarkable! Great elongated triangles are thought to be of astronomical signifigance. Von Daniken conjectured they were to lure back the extraterrestrials, who had visited previously. As they took a very substantial effort to be established, and don't relate to food or fortification from enemies, they can be believed to have some religious intent.
  Our hotels were all 5-star luxury resorts, a complaint being how little time available to enjoy each one. Paracas was on the beach, Cusco had the Monasterio, a converted Monastery where cloisters were glassed in for the dining area, the refectory remained for the breakfast room, and two courtyards were lovely gardens. Sometimes there were faint strains of Gregorian Chants in the background, like at breakfast!
  Our buses were nice, new ones and the drivers excellent too. In every case they split lanes, trucks and buses too. Horns are essential, None of them could get anywhere without them! Or so it seems. Smaller motorbikes abound, mostly Hondas with a mix of Asian scooters with unfamiliar names.
  To get our early start out of Vancouver we had an overnight at the Airport Fairmont Hotel, and our dear travel agent, Maria looked after our dinner! We have the best travel agent! Returning through Houston and Seattle got us into Victoria late afternoon last Friday, 19th March

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our trip to the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru

I have created the Under Construction page for my old web page, for our trip to the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru, from March 4th to March 19th.   The trip was very very busy.  We were in 12 different airplanes on the 14 day trip.  After we transferred to our ship, Xpedition, we had daily walks, morning and afternoon, with the choice of short walk or long walk on most days.  We mostly did short walks, except for the days we were not feeling very well.  I believe there were 138 people on our small ship.  We would board a Zodiac (16 people per boat) and go to the island destination of the day.  Do a wet or dry landing and proceed along the walk - usually single file - with our Naturalist guide showing us the flora and fauna on this particular walk.
The food, was scrumptious and very rich.  Despite all the excercise, and days of not eating much, I still had gained 2 pounds.  I could hardly believe it... but there it was on the scale readout.

I will try to put the next posts in chronological order, starting with day one... getting there... and etc.

At home I have the laundry and a few other household chores done.  Need to finish the ironing and clean the house.  We have had gorgeous days outside, but I have not been out since Monday.  I have been doing some catch up work on the new site . Megashot.net.  We have quite a few new members, since I was away.  The site is growing very nicely. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Orchids and Violets

These two orchids are in bloom in the light garden now.  The lady slipper is Phrag. Andean Fire and the other one is SL. Psyche 'China" l. cinnabariana x s. coccinea.  Its all Greek to me.    The Andean Fire seems a bit droopy.  Psyche is a vibrant orange with 3 blooms this time.
This is one of the African Violets in bloom.  I played with this one in my photo editors.  In Virtual Studio, I can correct the 'temperature' as I had neglected to change the white balance to florescent when shooting.  I also used the dodge and burn tools, as well as sharpening in photoshop.  Virtual Studio also has noise reduction and a few other good things.  Google the Optic Verve or Virtual Studio and do a free download, if you are interested.
Another of the violets in bloom.
All of the plants in the light garden survived my two week trip away from home.  Andy and Tara looked in on things.  Thanks.
In the garden today, I mowed the grass -- first mow of the year.  The crocus field did not get mown, of course.  The leaves need to harden off.  When the crocus leaves begin to brown, I can then mow the grass where they grow.  Andy topped up the pond a few days ago... the leak seems to be even slower, now.  I skimmed some of the plum tree dropped blooms off the pond.  I put the grass clippings around the strawberry plants and added some manure compost to them and to the rhubarb which is now about 2 feet high.  I cleaned up a few more perennials, dug out dandilions, moved one of the old clay pots that contains a lily and moved the rocks around a bit.    It was fun playing outside, as it was a beautiful sunny 12 degree day.

The Rock and Alpine Garden Club has its Spring Show and Sale  next weekend:
The annual Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Sp[ring Show for 2010 will be on Friday, March 26th and Saturday March 27th, at Cadboro Bay United Church, 2625 Arbutus Rd.  Show hours are from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m to 3:30 p.m on Saturday.  The members plant sale is from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Speciality nurseries will sell plants during the entire show and seeds will be on sale throughout.  Afternoon teas will be available.  The show will feature door prizes and a silent auction.

This is an annual event for me, although I have not entered any plants in the show yet.  I like to go and see what people are growing and to purchase precious little plants.  The little Daphne, a tiny grey mounding plant, and a very nice polyanthus marginata from last year are thriving in the small rockery and in a pot.  Over the years I have managed to get a few very nice alpines growing.   Last year, we went away for a month in the hottest time of the year and some of my new purchases perished.  The ones I put into pots do not do as well as the ones that go directly into the rockery, or into very large pots.   I have 3 large pots that only need good fast draining soil and then I could have a few more alpines.   I will see what might be available, but should get the pots ready, now. 

This year, I should redo the woodland path and the woodland area itself, needs cleaning up.  The bluebells are just taking over everything.  They are nice, but so very invasive.  The garden is not too bad right now.  It helps to keep up to the weeds and any needed renovations.  The arabis, daffodils, hyaciths, polyanthus, hellebores, camillias and both magnolia shrubs are in bloom.   The moss garden is slowly growing. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Moss and the Torpedo


This is Pat's restored 1912 Model T Ford Torpedo Roadster.  Last year, Pat and Dan went to LA and brought the car back with Dan's truck and trailer.  In the last month or two, James has finished the final restoration.  Pat took it out to get it a tank of gas a couple of days ago.  It was a sunny day so I was able to get a few photos.  No doubt there will be many more.  They have it all shining and polished.  There is lots of brass!  Its a beauty.  We will be going a lot slower than we did on the Speedster!

This is the best part of the moss garden with the little dry stream running through it.   The moss is starting to grow in the rest of the area.  I must try and keep it moist over the summer and keep the weeds and debris off of it. 

Monday, March 01, 2010

In the Garden at Megashot.net

This is the front page of a community at our new site, Megashot .  We have a pool of photos added by the members, and there are discussion pages.  We are able to add videos regarding any gardening topic to the front page or to discussions.  The front page of all of our communities is customizeable, with banner and colors for the rest of the front page.  There are more communities, there are contests, and a smart rating / voting system where everyone can participate to find the best Megashots in the site.  We each can have our own store, customizable profile, create communities, and participate in any that hold our interest.  We already have a few helpful articles in discussions in communities with the main focus on photography.  Come help us build our friendly, exciting new site.

The In the Garden community is growing nicely, with the warm weather of Spring.  :-)   Come to the site and plant your own page (profile - fully customizable) and create your galleries, join communities, vote and rate in Explore.  Add your knowledge to our communities.  And just have fun, enjoy this huge wonderful place.