Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Listen to the Signs....

So a few days after we returned from the our #FijiStaycation, Richard's boss was wheels up and departed post as his tour had ended. So began the fun of Richard heading up two sections (hence the pre-charge beforehand). As luck would have it, another section Richard will cover as back up occasionally the American in charge had to leave unexpectedly for about two weeks.....so the juggling of three hats and working six days a week began (drawback of small posts...no sharing the burden when someone leaves...more like how much more can everyone handle). I happened to read about the Perseid meteor shower peaking the pre-dawn hours of August 12....so I wrote to our favorite island resort that turns generators off at midnight to check for availability to get the darkest dark close by.....we were in luck....they had an open bure! About the time I heard back from them, Richard was getting home from work. I told him that the weekend after next, he was taking Saturday off, we were going to the island for the night, and taking the late boat back on Sunday. He agreed and said he would need to take a break (and it would be about the midpoint to when his new boss would be arriving). His co-worker who also happened to be heading up two sections at the moment was okay with Richard being slightly unreachable for one night in case of an emergency (and in fact booked himself the same getaway the following weekend). So off we went Saturday morning....(we discovered Leleuvia offers a daytrip option when boarding the boat....but for a bit there, I felt like a major over packer with 2 duffles of clothes and towels, cooler of water/snacks, bag of snorkel gear for 4 people). We quickly changed and went for a walk in the sunshine....

It wasn't low tide yet, so occasionally we had to climb through some trees.

That's where we found this cute little fellow!

I'm quite proud of this shot! I think it's calendar worthy! This is after we walked under the branches to get around...luckily the waves quickly washed our footprints away.

With the late morning boat, you typically have time for one walk around before lunch. After we ate and we all hit the water for a snorkel. Brrr!! Definitely could tell it was winter time! We found a deal for one of the full face masks for Clarissa, so we thought that might work a little better for her (her face is so dainty sometimes her mask slides down just enough that the nose piece hits her upper lip which then of course it starts leaking, which she does not enjoy). Even with the new mask, the water was too chilly for her....we have discovered she is a fair weather snorkeler. Lucky for us, one of her classmates was out on the island this weekend so she said was fine going back in to play with him. So I watched her get back to shore, put her gear down, and run off to play. I then headed out to snorkel some more (peaking up ever so often to check on her), while the boys were down somewhere. At some point, while we were snorkeling, the sky opened up and started pouring....took me a bit to notice (I was in the water and already wet). Clarissa and her friend were under a shelter, so they were fine too. I snorkeled a bit longer and then took Clarissa for a little kayak trip. Though with the wind associated with the rain we had just had the current was really kicking. We paddled out to the boys and stopped for a moment to take a quick picture/video, in that time we were quickly being swept the wrong way so I started paddling back. We were probably out for about 10 minutes. Though I paddled against the current practically the whole time and ended up with a blister in that short amount of a time....so it was a pretty decent current!

After the snorkel/kayak, we all got showered and dry clothes on....much to our surprise there our now hot water heaters at each of the community showers!!! (Much appreciated on a chilly, rainy winter day....though the temperature regulation is not quite perfected yet). Afterwards, Clarissa went back to playing with her friend in the Fijian style "tree house" the boys had built the night before with their mom and Mason opted to hang out in a hammock as he was trying to finish the book he was reading in the Twilight series.

Richard and I were all...what? What is this? We get to talk uninterrupted? We can go do something with out 'look at this' 'Help me'.....So we decided to walk around the island again....in the opposite direction! I found my favorite palm tree and since we out here for Richard to relax....got a picture of him doing just that.....

I joked this is the perfect shot to go in one of those "What they think I do" memes....obviously the caption would be "what Washington thinks I do everyday".

So while we still heart the blue sea stars.....we found some deep red/garnet colored sea stars....what the what?!?!

I think they are Luzon sea star (Echinaster luzonicus). We ended up seeing quite a few when we were snorkeling also....how have we never seen these before!?!?

We did notice as we were furthest from an sort of shelter with the good camera and nothing to cover it with that more dark clouds were looming on the horizon.....

Richard took a nice a photo of me (if you don't mind the no make up, wind blown, afternoon sun glow look....lol). I just have the "I'm happy to see my hubby for more 5 minutes face"...lol.

So it was a low, low tide. We walked all the way out. So the tree line is the island we are staying on/where our bure is so far away/tucked into the shadows under the trees you can't see it! By the time we got to where it wasn't dry anymore, I turned around and was all 'oh, the tide is starting to come back in....we better head back to shore'.

When we were nearly back to the dining/bar hut we happened upon a giant spool of something that has washed ashore.....I do think it is the wrong size for my sewing machine though....

So after our walk, I went to go check on Clarissa. Richard headed out to look at fish from the boat dock. A sea snake caught his eye. He came and got us. We watched it for a bit and he went to get the good camera. As he ran to do that, some young boys were freaking out about said snake being wrapped around the piling....so being the dutiful employee this guy remedy the situation. He picked it up, before he threw it back in the water I asked him to let me get a picture, so he happily obliged, then tossed it in the water. The boys were amazed how quickly the snake swam away.

After dinner, we got the kids all tucked into bed (reading/playing on their iPads...but in bed). As I mentioned before, I had read about the meteor shower, island with no lights after midnight...great place for star photography! The sky had cleared up for the moment, so we were going to play with the camera settings so that we knew were doing in the wee hours of the morning when the meteor shower was set to peak in the Southern Hemisphere. The tide was coming in....so we didn't have much beach to use as we wanted to get away from the main dining area.....but we found this boat they are in the process of refinishing...so we improvised and borrowed it since it was flat and dry....so here I am getting the camera set up in the "photo boat" as I called in.

Our Nikon has wifi capabilities (so we don't have to wait until we are home to post photos on FB from "the good camera"...I know a little silly but on a long trip you get antsy sometimes).....but that wifi capability also allowed us to use my phone as a remote to take photos with in the dark to prevent camera shake during long exposures! It was pretty cool. So a while back, I had my first attempt at star photography and I posted my black picture with little spots so that I can document the improvements over time. We've lugged the camera and tripod on several more trips but weather conditions have not cooperated unfortunately. But we had a meteor shower....come on......and as luck would have it.....our very first shot we got a meteor!!!!! See the little streak in the top left quadrant! Ironically, Richard and I were looking at the camera/phone and didn't even see the shooting star in real time.

This is our other "best" shot....it is not wall worthy by any means....but you can see the milky way....which is pretty darn cool in my book! I forgot to bring our lens with the small f/stop....so I'll remember that for next time so we can do shorter exposures to get less star motion. I'm also curious about the arc shaped star cluster at the bottom left.

The smaller the image you look at, obviously the better/sharper it looks....but we are getting there! We attempted to get the southern crux constellation but it was too windy on that side of the island. We headed to bed, sometime after midnight on a bathroom run I looked up and noticed the sky was clouded back over....so there went our chances of getting any good pictures during the peak meteor viewing time.

After breakfast, Clarissa opted to hang out with her friend again and stay dry. The rest of us headed out to do another snorkel. When we stopped to pick up fins, the activities shed girl asked if we wanted wet suits, after the water being chilly the day before when it was sunny and it being overcast today.....we said yes. Bless her heart....she gave me small....but I squeezed my way into it....wasn't pretty and it probably was her intentions all along for the sheer entertainment factor....lol.

We opted to walk up the trail a bit and head into the water by Mr. Relaxation's tree.....lol. Then swim back towards the main activity area.

Here are the snorkel highlights from the trip:

Afterwards, we were chilled....best call ever on the wetsuits! The sun makes all the difference! We all got showered and warm dry clothes on. Before breakfast, Richard and I had hiked back out the trail we had used the night before to get out to the beach when the tide was coming in. We also did the 'jungle loop' into the interior of the island. Walking through, I commented that we really needed to show this to Mr. I-Have-Seen-All-4-Jurassic-Park-Movies-And-Can-Debate-The-Merits-Of-Each because it really felt like you could be walking through something from the movies and you totally expect to see some sort of dinosaur run by at any second.....so we enacted mandatory fun and led him into here.....

Richard follows him in.....

Its quiet.....

Hmmm, yeah....I'm going back out to the beach chair....I'll just wait for them to loop around here.....

Lol....so they ended up going around the island the other way....but I heard the lali drum for lunch and met them over there....so it was a nice quiet weekend. A bit chilly, but it was the middle of winter in Fiji. After we got back, Richard did comment that it was just what he needed - to just get away for a night, breath in a lot of nature, and relax. Mission accomplished! Until next time....peace out!


  1. You should! Sounds like a great Christmas getaway to me.....experiences are way better than objects!