Volcan Mombacho

Volcan Mombacho, great views from the top

The Mombacho volcano towers over the city of Granada along the shores of Lake Nicaragua.  It tops out at 1345 meters, dwarfed by the volcano peaks we saw along the Andes in Ecuador.  However, the steep slopes form an island of biodiversity.  Vegetation and wildlife vary with elevation and above 800 meters the volcano becomes a cloud forest with bromeliads, ferns and mosses clinging to the trees.  Most days the upper reaches of the volcano are obscured by cloud cover but on the day we visited, we had cloud free views from the mountain.

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Las Isletas–Lake Nicaragua

Our boat ride around Las Isletes

We were told that he’s called Pedro.  He was apparently the designated representative to greet our boat when we stopped by Monkey Island.  This island is very small, only about a hop, skip and small jump to get across it.  We’re told that this is the only island out of the 360 small islands which dot this part of Lake Nicaragua to have monkeys and that there are 4 who live here.

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19 de Julio

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On this date in 1979, the FSLN were able to claim victory over the 4 decade dictatorship of the Samoza family.  The Samoza’s enriched themselves at the expense of the citizens of Nicaragua and carried out killings aimed at the rebel uprisings throughout the years.  A major turning point was a massive earthquake in Managua in 1972 that killed 6,000 and left over 250,000 homeless.  A vast amount of the international aid that poured into the country was diverted to benefit the Samoza’s rather than to benefit the victims of the earthquake.  This provoked massive demonstrations and calls for the removal of Samoza and greatly stoked the efforts of the Sandinista Liberation Front, the FSLN.

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Lake Tahoe–Summer 2011

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In the winter, the Lake Tahoe area is one of the best places to visit.  There are multiple world class ski areas and every conceivable winter sport available.  Generally, the mountains surrounding the lake get a significant amount of snow so there is rarely any concern that you will be able to enjoy your favorite activity.  From late October last year until late April this year, the highest elevations received a cumulative total of approximately 60 feet of snowfall.

As spectacular as Lake Tahoe is for winter fun, it is equally or possibly even better for summer fun.  On the water or in the surrounding mountains, you can indulge every sort of outdoor activity.  Boating and water skiing, sailing, fishing, para-sailing, hiking, biking and mountain climbing.  All while surrounded by the most stunning lake and mountain vistas imaginable.

IMG_3740We were fortunate to be able to visit our friends who have a house not far from the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe.  We were able to go hiking, bicycle riding and take a sailboat ride.  It’s so difficult to choose photos that best capture the beauty of Lake Tahoe.  Our photography skills are just not adequate.  I’m not sure anyone can truly capture what it’s like.  When hiking you can see meadows filled with wildflowers framed by the lake and snow capped mountains.  We hope the photos will give you some feel for this beautiful place.

Pre-4th of July

IMG_3417The Morro Rock stands 578 feet tall and occupies 50 acres at its base.  It is home to hundreds of sea birds and dominates this part of the California central coast.  It has garnered the attention of travelers since Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo recorded passing the rock in 1542.

We’ve just spent the week of June 27 to July 1 here on the central coast.  We stayed inHiking around Morro Bay Morro Bay with a nice view of the rock.  Morro Bay is a small town with a lovely embarcadero with very nice dining choices.  We wandered over to the nearby Montana de Oro, an 8,000 acre state park along 7 miles of dramatic Pacific coastline.  The park was still covered in it’s beautiful spring wildflowers.  There are lots of nice hiking trails, many of which also allow horseback riding and mountain biking.

IMG_3485In addition, we went a little further north to visit Cayucos and Cambria and south to Avila Beach, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach.  And on Thursday, we went into San Luis Obispo and hung around for their weekly Farmer’s Market which takes place in the evening from 6:00 to 9:00pm.  They shut down 6 blocks of Higuera Street for the usual display of summer fruits and vegetables plus musical performances and BBQ.

IMG_3469We’ve had a really nice time but we’re happy to be heading home just in time to escape the crush of people heading this way for the 4th of July weekend.