A Travellerspoint blog

November 2019

Plenty to see diving in Costa Maya, Mexico

Gary and I enjoyed the diving more in Costa Maya than in Roatan; the visibility in all three ports was excellent

Gary and I enjoyed the diving more in Costa Maya than in Roatan; the visibility in all three ports was excellent

Known as the couch potato of the shark world, the nurse shark leads a sedentary life; by day, it rests, and by night, it creeps over the sandy floors and coral reefs of its shallow-water habitat, slurping up little animals along the way

Known as the couch potato of the shark world, the nurse shark leads a sedentary life; by day, it rests, and by night, it creeps over the sandy floors and coral reefs of its shallow-water habitat, slurping up little animals along the way

Gary shown a live queen conch; This species is one of the largest mollusks native to the Caribbean with individuals usually living up to 7 years, though in deeper waters their lifespan may reach 20–30 years and maximum lifetime estimates reach 40 years

Gary shown a live queen conch; This species is one of the largest mollusks native to the Caribbean with individuals usually living up to 7 years, though in deeper waters their lifespan may reach 20–30 years and maximum lifetime estimates reach 40 years

Pipehorse (seahorse); just to the left of center is a wormlike pipehorse which can often be found here by sifting through a handful of sand

Pipehorse (seahorse); just to the left of center is a wormlike pipehorse which can often be found here by sifting through a handful of sand

Pederson cleaner shrimp; this transparent species will clean fish which remain stationary while their external parasites are removed and eaten by the shrimp, which even cleans inside the gill covers and the mouth

Pederson cleaner shrimp; this transparent species will clean fish which remain stationary while their external parasites are removed and eaten by the shrimp, which even cleans inside the gill covers and the mouth

Becky has a friend that makes these cool foam hats (she has hundreds of designs); Phyllis looks great in her stylish, new hat

Becky has a friend that makes these cool foam hats (she has hundreds of designs); Phyllis looks great in her stylish, new hat

Tiger's tail sea cucumber; it is the largest sea cucumber known in the western Atlantic Ocean, it is so well camouflaged that it was 1980 before it was first described

Tiger's tail sea cucumber; it is the largest sea cucumber known in the western Atlantic Ocean, it is so well camouflaged that it was 1980 before it was first described

Gray angelfish; this is the largest species of marine angelfish and it feeds mainly on sponges

Gray angelfish; this is the largest species of marine angelfish and it feeds mainly on sponges

Caribbean spiny lobster; they are nocturnal, hiding under cover during the day and coming out to feed at night on on crabs, shellfish, mussels, worms, sea urchins and sand dollars

Caribbean spiny lobster; they are nocturnal, hiding under cover during the day and coming out to feed at night on on crabs, shellfish, mussels, worms, sea urchins and sand dollars

Porifera sponge; we didn't see too much color among the coral species but the sponges were plentiful

Porifera sponge; we didn't see too much color among the coral species but the sponges were plentiful

Some of us were prepared for Halloween!; I was surprised at how many of the passengers wore costumes (which were extremely creative!)

Some of us were prepared for Halloween!; I was surprised at how many of the passengers wore costumes (which were extremely creative!)

Unlike some sharks, nurse sharks use oral muscles to actively suck water into the mouth, supplying oxygen to the gills without needing to swim anywhere

Unlike some sharks, nurse sharks use oral muscles to actively suck water into the mouth, supplying oxygen to the gills without needing to swim anywhere

Barracuda; ingesting barracuda is considerably more harmful to humans than eating any other fish species probably because of the high toxicity of algae eaten by its prey

Barracuda; ingesting barracuda is considerably more harmful to humans than eating any other fish species probably because of the high toxicity of algae eaten by its prey

My parents and I had cruised on Liberty of the Seas once before; for my parents 50th anniversary in 2012 we cruised from Florida to Barcelona but didn't recognize the ship this time since it had undergone refurbishment

My parents and I had cruised on Liberty of the Seas once before; for my parents 50th anniversary in 2012 we cruised from Florida to Barcelona but didn't recognize the ship this time since it had undergone refurbishment

Whiptail stingray; they are heavily preyed on by a number of shark species (especially by hammerheads) so they bury themselves in the sand to avoid detection

Whiptail stingray; they are heavily preyed on by a number of shark species (especially by hammerheads) so they bury themselves in the sand to avoid detection

Large crab; the area sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Dean, a category 5 storm, in August 2007 with the cruise pier destroyed; it took more than 15 months to repair the port before ships returned

Large crab; the area sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Dean, a category 5 storm, in August 2007 with the cruise pier destroyed; it took more than 15 months to repair the port before ships returned

In 2017 the largest Mayan archaeological site, Xcabal, opened to tourists; it's about a one hour bus ride from the cruise dock

In 2017 the largest Mayan archaeological site, Xcabal, opened to tourists; it's about a one hour bus ride from the cruise dock

Feather star crinoid; graceful, flowing arms like fern branches float in the water column, grabbing bits of plankton passing by; these marine animals reproduce every 10-16 months

Feather star crinoid; graceful, flowing arms like fern branches float in the water column, grabbing bits of plankton passing by; these marine animals reproduce every 10-16 months

These garden eels will duck back into their holes if you get too close; they have large eyes and typically live in the sandy areas or in beds of sea grass

These garden eels will duck back into their holes if you get too close; they have large eyes and typically live in the sandy areas or in beds of sea grass

Large porcupinefish; they have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and killer whales while juveniles are preyed on by tuna and dolphins

Large porcupinefish; they have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and killer whales while juveniles are preyed on by tuna and dolphins

Foureye butterflyfish; this fish is known for its uncanny ability to swim in and around coral heads and reefs; they are able to find their way through the most intricate passages by swimming on its side or even upside down

Foureye butterflyfish; this fish is known for its uncanny ability to swim in and around coral heads and reefs; they are able to find their way through the most intricate passages by swimming on its side or even upside down

Posted by VagabondCowboy 08:37 Comments (0)

Cardiff - the largest city and capital of Wales

I tried to make friends with some of the many swans at Roath Park; the 130 acre park has a 30 acre lake and, with such fantastic weather, I finished reading a book on one of the many benches

I tried to make friends with some of the many swans at Roath Park; the 130 acre park has a 30 acre lake and, with such fantastic weather, I finished reading a book on one of the many benches

Cardiff Castle has hosted a number of large concerts including Green Day, Tom Jones and Stereophonics; the original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort

Cardiff Castle has hosted a number of large concerts including Green Day, Tom Jones and Stereophonics; the original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort

The mansion wasn't added to Cardiff Castle until the 1800s when a wealthy marquis spared no expense in creating the most magnificent Gothic revival interior ever achieved

The mansion wasn't added to Cardiff Castle until the 1800s when a wealthy marquis spared no expense in creating the most magnificent Gothic revival interior ever achieved

The Banqueting Hall is the largest and oldest room in Cardiff Castle; the walls date from the 15th century but all of the furnishings are Victorian

The Banqueting Hall is the largest and oldest room in Cardiff Castle; the walls date from the 15th century but all of the furnishings are Victorian

The 15th century library is the oldest part of the Cardiff Castle apartments; it was divided into 2 rooms for 400 years until 1870 when it was combined into what you see here

The 15th century library is the oldest part of the Cardiff Castle apartments; it was divided into 2 rooms for 400 years until 1870 when it was combined into what you see here

1906 City Hall; Turned and Sons used the world's first all-electrically operated building site, including eight 5 ton cranes to lift the stone blocks

1906 City Hall; Turned and Sons used the world's first all-electrically operated building site, including eight 5 ton cranes to lift the stone blocks

The Welsh National Assembly building, called the Senedd, opened in 2006; it also hosts a youth parliament which is designed to encourage young people to get involved

The Welsh National Assembly building, called the Senedd, opened in 2006; it also hosts a youth parliament which is designed to encourage young people to get involved

Ken Follett is perhaps the most famous person from Cardiff; his thrillers and historical novels have sold more than 160 million copies worldwide

Ken Follett is perhaps the most famous person from Cardiff; his thrillers and historical novels have sold more than 160 million copies worldwide

Sometimes called the Welsh Big Ben, the Pierhead Building is the symbol of Cardiff; the building was originally the port authority for Cardiff

Sometimes called the Welsh Big Ben, the Pierhead Building is the symbol of Cardiff; the building was originally the port authority for Cardiff

The Wales Millennium Center is home for opera, dance, theater and literature companies; it's bronze shell has earned it the nickname of the Armadillo

The Wales Millennium Center is home for opera, dance, theater and literature companies; it's bronze shell has earned it the nickname of the Armadillo

San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight, Monet, 1908; the Welsh National Museum of Art had a strong collection of porcelain and Welsh paintings

San Giorgio Maggiore by Twilight, Monet, 1908; the Welsh National Museum of Art had a strong collection of porcelain and Welsh paintings

1906 New Theater; artists that have performed here include Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Bernhardt, Tom Jones and Anna Pavlova

1906 New Theater; artists that have performed here include Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Bernhardt, Tom Jones and Anna Pavlova

Blackweir Bridge at the north end of Bute Park; based on the locals, it looks like sweats are back in fashion - I can't see the French or Italians dressing the way the British do

Blackweir Bridge at the north end of Bute Park; based on the locals, it looks like sweats are back in fashion - I can't see the French or Italians dressing the way the British do

Castell Coch is a 19th century Gothic Revival castle north of Cardiff; it took me a lot longer to reach the castle than it did to tour it but with gorgeous weather I didn't mind all the walking

Castell Coch is a 19th century Gothic Revival castle north of Cardiff; it took me a lot longer to reach the castle than it did to tour it but with gorgeous weather I didn't mind all the walking

The drawing room at Castell Coch has a fireplace that features the three fates while panels around the octagonal room depict 58 unique plants; above the plants are murals depicting animals from 24 of Aesop's fables

The drawing room at Castell Coch has a fireplace that features the three fates while panels around the octagonal room depict 58 unique plants; above the plants are murals depicting animals from 24 of Aesop's fables

Lady Bute's circular bedroom at Castell Coch was much larger and more ornate than that of her husband; the Moorish-style was popular in Victorian times according to the cursory audioguide

Lady Bute's circular bedroom at Castell Coch was much larger and more ornate than that of her husband; the Moorish-style was popular in Victorian times according to the cursory audioguide

With fantastic weather, I discovered one of Cardiff's gems - Roath Park; the lighthouse was constructed in 1915 to commemorate Captain Scott's ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910

With fantastic weather, I discovered one of Cardiff's gems - Roath Park; the lighthouse was constructed in 1915 to commemorate Captain Scott's ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910

With a slower pace now that Lee has left (he likes to stay busy so our schedule was always packed), I've started tackling the books I brought; this exciting novel is set in Cape Town with eerie similarities to when I visited at the end of an African tour

With a slower pace now that Lee has left (he likes to stay busy so our schedule was always packed), I've started tackling the books I brought; this exciting novel is set in Cape Town with eerie similarities to when I visited at the end of an African tour

This beautiful, tiled corridor was the original entrance to the Old Library; I've seen few homeless people on the trip but in Cardiff there are many

This beautiful, tiled corridor was the original entrance to the Old Library; I've seen few homeless people on the trip but in Cardiff there are many

The 12th century Anglican Llandaff Cathedral suffered significant damage during WW2; in February 2007 the cathedral suffered a severe lightning strike which killed the organ

The 12th century Anglican Llandaff Cathedral suffered significant damage during WW2; in February 2007 the cathedral suffered a severe lightning strike which killed the organ

The architect, George Pace, did much of the restoration at Llandaff Cathedral after WW2; his greatest achievement was the reinforced concrete arch surmounted by the aluminum statue of Christ that stands between the nave and choir

The architect, George Pace, did much of the restoration at Llandaff Cathedral after WW2; his greatest achievement was the reinforced concrete arch surmounted by the aluminum statue of Christ that stands between the nave and choir

The Lady Chapel at Llandaff Cathedral was built in 1280; the suburb of Llandaff, north of the city center, seemed much more prosperous than other areas of Cardiff

The Lady Chapel at Llandaff Cathedral was built in 1280; the suburb of Llandaff, north of the city center, seemed much more prosperous than other areas of Cardiff

For many years, the Llandaff Cathedral had the traditional Anglican choir of boys and men, and more recently a girls' choir, with the only dedicated choir school in the Church in Wales, the Cathedral School, Llandaff

For many years, the Llandaff Cathedral had the traditional Anglican choir of boys and men, and more recently a girls' choir, with the only dedicated choir school in the Church in Wales, the Cathedral School, Llandaff

This was the smoking room at Insole Court and is the most intact room in the 1909 mansion; today the house is owned by the city and maintained as a venue for special events and weddings

This was the smoking room at Insole Court and is the most intact room in the 1909 mansion; today the house is owned by the city and maintained as a venue for special events and weddings

The Senedd was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers with the use of renewable technologies and to be energy efficient

The Senedd was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers with the use of renewable technologies and to be energy efficient

Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, Rembrandt, 1657; the Welsh National Museum of Art was free and a decent, comprehensive look at painting through the centuries

Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, Rembrandt, 1657; the Welsh National Museum of Art was free and a decent, comprehensive look at painting through the centuries

The Old Library  was opened in 1882 and now houses The Cardiff Story; that's a free, brief, look at the history of the city

The Old Library was opened in 1882 and now houses The Cardiff Story; that's a free, brief, look at the history of the city

Most of Cardiff's city center has been pedestrianized and there were lots of people out shopping, even in the malls; on the other hand, Cardiff is home to some of the poorest areas of Wales

Most of Cardiff's city center has been pedestrianized and there were lots of people out shopping, even in the malls; on the other hand, Cardiff is home to some of the poorest areas of Wales

Initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Millennium Stadium (behind the castle) has a capacity of 78,000 with 8 soccer games from the 2012 London Summer Olympics played here

Initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Millennium Stadium (behind the castle) has a capacity of 78,000 with 8 soccer games from the 2012 London Summer Olympics played here

During the late 1800s , when Cardiff was booming, wealthy women began demanding climate-controlled , London-quality shopping so arcades developed; Cardiff is the capital of Wales and has a population of 350,000

During the late 1800s , when Cardiff was booming, wealthy women began demanding climate-controlled , London-quality shopping so arcades developed; Cardiff is the capital of Wales and has a population of 350,000

The 150 ft high clock tower at Cardiff Castle was added in 1868; the city has a more noticeable Middle Eastern population than any of the other cities visited on the trip except London

The 150 ft high clock tower at Cardiff Castle was added in 1868; the city has a more noticeable Middle Eastern population than any of the other cities visited on the trip except London

The Wales Natural History Museum focused on geology and the evolution of the Welsh country; the museum did have a moon rock from the July 1969 Apollo mission

The Wales Natural History Museum focused on geology and the evolution of the Welsh country; the museum did have a moon rock from the July 1969 Apollo mission

Cardiff was a huge port in the early 1900s but it had one of the largest tidal changes in the world;  every day the bay would empty out but now the Cardiff Bay Barrage controls the water level

Cardiff was a huge port in the early 1900s but it had one of the largest tidal changes in the world; every day the bay would empty out but now the Cardiff Bay Barrage controls the water level

The Welsh National Assembly moved into the Senedd in 2006; in 2010 Wales implemented a single-use plastic ban charge and was followed by other UK countries years later

The Welsh National Assembly moved into the Senedd in 2006; in 2010 Wales implemented a single-use plastic ban charge and was followed by other UK countries years later

The Norwegian Church (1868) was built to serve the needs of Norwegian sailors at Cardiff Bay; in the 19th century, Cardiff was one of Britain's 3 main ports with the Norwegian merchant fleet visiting Cardiff often

The Norwegian Church (1868) was built to serve the needs of Norwegian sailors at Cardiff Bay; in the 19th century, Cardiff was one of Britain's 3 main ports with the Norwegian merchant fleet visiting Cardiff often

Cardiff is the first place on this trip where I've been able to find my favorite cereal; I was afraid it might have been discontinued

Cardiff is the first place on this trip where I've been able to find my favorite cereal; I was afraid it might have been discontinued

Bute Park is the largest urban park in the UK and is right in the heart of Cardiff, adjacent to Cardiff Castle; the grounds were extremely well-maintained with lots of playing fields and paths

Bute Park is the largest urban park in the UK and is right in the heart of Cardiff, adjacent to Cardiff Castle; the grounds were extremely well-maintained with lots of playing fields and paths

The animal wall at Cardiff Castle was built in 1890 and depicts 15 different animals; the animals were originally painted in their natural colors but the paint quickly wore off and they were never restored

The animal wall at Cardiff Castle was built in 1890 and depicts 15 different animals; the animals were originally painted in their natural colors but the paint quickly wore off and they were never restored

This greylag goose thought I was interesting; this species tends to mate for life but 5-8% o the pairs divorce and re-mate plus birds in heterosexual pairs may engage in promiscuous behavior, despite the opposition of their mates (who studied this?)

This greylag goose thought I was interesting; this species tends to mate for life but 5-8% of the pairs divorce and re-mate plus birds in heterosexual pairs may engage in promiscuous behavior, despite the opposition of their mates (who studied this?)

Castle Gandolfo, Dancing Tyrolean Shepherds by Lake Albano, Corot, 1860; the Welsh National Museum of Art had a strong Impressionist collection

Castle Gandolfo, Dancing Tyrolean Shepherds by Lake Albano, Corot, 1860; the Welsh National Museum of Art had a strong Impressionist collection

Cardiff Castle occupies a very large square in the center of town; William the Conqueror built the first castle here but it's an odd location since it seems to have no military advantage

Cardiff Castle occupies a very large square in the center of town; William the Conqueror built the first castle here but it's an odd location since it seems to have no military advantage

Cardiff enjoyed gorgeous weather for my visit which made the lawns of Insole Court inviting; the record low temperature in Cardiff was 14 degrees while the record high was a sweltering 92

Cardiff enjoyed gorgeous weather for my visit which made the lawns of Insole Court inviting; the record low temperature in Cardiff was 14 degrees while the record high was a sweltering 92

Bute Park was laid out in 1873 and, since 1981, has hosted what is now Sparks in the Park, an annual Guy Fawkes Night (Nov 5) firework display; the local bus costs between $2-$3 depending on your destination

Bute Park was laid out in 1873 and, since 1981, has hosted what is now Sparks in the Park, an annual Guy Fawkes Night (Nov 5) firework display; the local bus costs between $2-$3 depending on your destination

Posted by VagabondCowboy 07:14 Comments (0)

Quick visit to iconic Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral

Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC; it consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighing around 25 tons

Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC; it consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighing around 25 tons

Lee and I agreed that Stonehenge looks just like the photos although it seems more compact in person; Stonehenge is 8 miles NW of Salisbury

Lee and I agreed that Stonehenge looks just like the photos although it seems more compact in person; Stonehenge is 8 miles NW of Salisbury

This stone is an exact replica of one of the remaining stones at Stonehenge; it weighs 28 tons so visitors could see how difficult it was to move and position the stones

This stone is an exact replica of one of the remaining stones at Stonehenge; it weighs 28 tons so visitors could see how difficult it was to move and position the stones

There are many large mounds called cursus around Stonehenge; built around 3500 BC, their exact purpose is unknown but it is believed to be ceremonial

There are many large mounds called cursus around Stonehenge; built around 3500 BC, their exact purpose is unknown but it is believed to be ceremonial

We didn't have long to spend at Stonehenge due to visiting on Sunday and trying to see Salisbury on the same day; there is a small museum and visitor's center nearby

We didn't have long to spend at Stonehenge due to visiting on Sunday and trying to see Salisbury on the same day; there is a small museum and visitor's center nearby

The train from Bath to Salisbury takes an hour; trains in the UK are notoriously overpriced, late and overcrowded (some people had to stand the entire trip since there were only 2 carriages)

The train from Bath to Salisbury takes an hour; trains in the UK are notoriously overpriced, late and overcrowded (some people had to stand the entire trip since there were only 2 carriages)

The Westbury white horse is 180 feet tall and 170 feet wide and carved into the chalk hillside between Bath and Salisbury; the age of the horse is unknown although there are records of it being restored in 1778

The Westbury white horse is 180 feet tall and 170 feet wide and carved into the chalk hillside between Bath and Salisbury; the age of the horse is unknown although there are records of it being restored in 1778

The early English Gothic-style Salisbury Cathedral used 60,000 tons of stone, 2800 tons of oak and 420 tons of lead; the cathedral is enormous at 442 feet long

The early English Gothic-style Salisbury Cathedral used 60,000 tons of stone, 2800 tons of oak and 420 tons of lead; the cathedral is enormous at 442 feet long

Salisbury Cathedral has the largest cloister in Britain; the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta is on display at the cathedral (there was an attempted theft in Oct 2018)

Salisbury Cathedral has the largest cloister in Britain; the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta is on display at the cathedral (there was an attempted theft in Oct 2018)

Built between 1327 and 1342, the High Street gate is the main point of entry into Salisbury Cathedral; the gate is locked at 11:00pm every night and opened again at 6:00am

Built between 1327 and 1342, the High Street gate is the main point of entry into Salisbury Cathedral; the gate is locked at 11:00pm every night and opened again at 6:00am

On March 4, 2018, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury with a Novichok nerve agent

On March 4, 2018, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury with a Novichok nerve agent

The mayor of Salisbury built this house in 1470; the house is now a movie theater in this city of 41,000 people

The mayor of Salisbury built this house in 1470; the house is now a movie theater in this city of 41,000 people

This is the world's oldest working mechanical clock, built in 1386; the hourly bell has been removed so as to not interrupt worship services

This is the world's oldest working mechanical clock, built in 1386; the hourly bell has been removed so as to not interrupt worship services

This is the only medieval bell still remaining at Salisbury Cathedral; without the addition of buttresses, bracing arches and anchor irons, the additional 6400 tons of weight the spire and tower added would have caused it to collapse

This is the only medieval bell still remaining at Salisbury Cathedral; without the addition of buttresses, bracing arches and anchor irons, the additional 6400 tons of weight the spire and tower added would have caused it to collapse

The Prisoners of Conscience Window (1980) is designed to provoke Christian response to oppression, violence and injustice

The Prisoners of Conscience Window (1980) is designed to provoke Christian response to oppression, violence and injustice

This windlass system is one of only four like it in the world; it was used to pull heavy blocks up to the tower from the floor of the cathedral

This windlass system is one of only four like it in the world; it was used to pull heavy blocks up to the tower from the floor of the cathedral

We took the 2 hour tower climb tour of Salisbury Cathedral; it's the only way you can climb to the top of the tower

We took the 2 hour tower climb tour of Salisbury Cathedral; it's the only way you can climb to the top of the tower

There is currently scaffolding in the center of the church around the choir area so that you can't see down the nave to the other end of the cathedral

There is currently scaffolding in the center of the church around the choir area so that you can't see down the nave to the other end of the cathedral

Jay Z launched his broadly disappointing album Magna Carta Holy Grail here at Salisbury Cathedral; admission to the cathedral is free although donations are requested

Jay Z launched his broadly disappointing album Magna Carta Holy Grail here at Salisbury Cathedral; admission to the cathedral is free although donations are requested

Lee is adding a moment of levity into a crazy day of tight scheduling to see as much as possible; fortunately, Lee is used to my travel planning and takes it all in stride

Lee is adding a moment of levity into a crazy day of tight scheduling to see as much as possible; fortunately, Lee is used to my travel planning and takes it all in stride

The Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest church spire in the UK (404 ft) and the largest cathedral close (the area immediately surrounding the cathedral) in Britain at 80 acres

The Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest church spire in the UK (404 ft) and the largest cathedral close (the area immediately surrounding the cathedral) in Britain at 80 acres

This is the reflection of stained glass windows as seen in the baptismal font; the font was added in 2008 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the cathedral

This is the reflection of stained glass windows as seen in the baptismal font; the font was added in 2008 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the cathedral

The additional weight of the spire has caused the four central pillars to buckle so that the spire measured 75 cm off true in 1668; additional measurements have been taken since but no changes have been detected

The additional weight of the spire has caused the four central pillars to buckle so that the spire measured 75 cm off true in 1668; additional measurements have been taken since but no changes have been detected

The Salisbury Cathedral is bounded on three sides by the RIver Avon; the fields around Salisbury were mainly hay fields with some grazing by sheep and cattle

The Salisbury Cathedral is bounded on three sides by the RIver Avon; the fields around Salisbury were mainly hay fields with some grazing by sheep and cattle

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:18 Comments (0)

Scuba diving on Roatan Island, Honduras

This green sea turtle swam by to check me out; we saw a flamingo tongue nudibranch but I didn't get a decent photo of it

This green sea turtle swam by to check me out; we saw a flamingo tongue nudibranch but I didn't get a decent photo of it

Gary and I booked our scuba excursion with Coconut Tree Divers; we lucked out by being the only two divers to have signed up so we had personalized attention

Gary and I booked our scuba excursion with Coconut Tree Divers; we lucked out by being the only two divers to have signed up so we had personalized attention

This shrimp is hanging on to the side of a barrel sponge; the Roatán airport is served with nonstop flights  from Houston, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and Newark

This shrimp is hanging on to the side of a barrel sponge; the Roatán airport is served with nonstop flights from Houston, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and Newark

This spotted eagle ray was past me before I spotted him; our divemaster said this was the first spotted eagle ray he'd seen in weeks

This spotted eagle ray was past me before I spotted him; our divemaster said this was the first spotted eagle ray he'd seen in weeks

My parents got dressed up for formal night but I no longer own anything dressy so I skipped it; the fancy menu also didn't have anything I cared to eat

My parents got dressed up for formal night but I no longer own anything dressy so I skipped it; the fancy menu also didn't have anything I cared to eat

Hogfish; like many wrasses, the hogfish is a sequential hermaphrodite, meaning it changes sex during different life stages

Hogfish; like many wrasses, the hogfish is a sequential hermaphrodite, meaning it changes sex during different life stages

Indigo hamlet (this was a common fish but not one I had seen before); our second dive site was called Lighthouse

Indigo hamlet (this was a common fish but not one I had seen before); our second dive site was called Lighthouse

This parrotfish is exploring the second largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef); most locals speak English, while transplants from mainland Honduras speak Spanish

This parrotfish is exploring the second largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef); most locals speak English, while transplants from mainland Honduras speak Spanish

I actually hit a Royal Flush twice during the cruise on the video poker machines; this was one of the few areas on the ship where smoking was allowed and it was awful

I actually hit a Royal Flush twice during the cruise on the video poker machines; this was one of the few areas on the ship where smoking was allowed and it was awful

We spent Saturday afternoon before the cruise enjoying the Houston Arboretum with Maxine; her new Jeep Renegade is in the background

We spent Saturday afternoon before the cruise enjoying the Houston Arboretum with Maxine; her new Jeep Renegade is in the background

Our first dive was at Mandy's Eel Garden; this fish was at a cleaning station and just lolled back and forth

Our first dive was at Mandy's Eel Garden; this fish was at a cleaning station and just lolled back and forth

Queen Angelfish; Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras and lies about 40 miles north of the rest of the country

Queen Angelfish; Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras and lies about 40 miles north of the rest of the country

Giant crab; the island of Roatan, population 45,000, is 48 miles long and less than 5 miles wide at its widest point

Giant crab; the island of Roatan, population 45,000, is 48 miles long and less than 5 miles wide at its widest point

The Nassau grouper is the most important of the groupers for commercial fishing in the West Indies, but has been endangered by overfishing

The Nassau grouper is the most important of the groupers for commercial fishing in the West Indies, but has been endangered by overfishing

Gary and Bernie were undefeated at pickleball; the windy conditions were challenging but Gary and Bernie adapted well

Gary and Bernie were undefeated at pickleball; the windy conditions were challenging but Gary and Bernie adapted well

This large, green sea turtle was the only one we saw on our cruise dives; bleaching is a problem here, especially with staghorn and elkhorn coral

This large, green sea turtle was the only one we saw on our cruise dives; bleaching is a problem here, especially with staghorn and elkhorn coral

Other divers on our cruise seemed to visit better dive sites than we did in Roatan; our dive shop was run by Brits with dollars widely accepted on the island

Other divers on our cruise seemed to visit better dive sites than we did in Roatan; our dive shop was run by Brits with dollars widely accepted on the island

Posted by VagabondCowboy 07:48 Comments (0)

England's scenic Lake District and Hadrian's Wall

The Lake District National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,362 square kms; it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017

The Lake District National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,362 square kms; it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017

Lee and I took a tour through Dove Cottage which was Wordsworth's home during his most productive years; we were embarrassed that neither of us had read anything he had written

Lee and I took a tour through Dove Cottage which was Wordsworth's home during his most productive years; we were embarrassed that neither of us had read anything he had written

Keswick, home to the world's first pencil factory, is also home to the world's largest pencil measuring almost 8 meters long; I thought a teacher might appreciate this stop on our itinerary

Keswick, home to the world's first pencil factory, is also home to the world's largest pencil measuring almost 8 meters long; I thought a teacher might appreciate this stop on our itinerary

In the Lake District, you have to hike/walk so Lee is patiently dragging me around to admire the great vistas; there are 1300  miles of public footpaths in the national park

In the Lake District, you have to hike/walk so Lee is patiently dragging me around to admire the great vistas; there are 1300+ miles of public footpaths in the national park

Lee saw more of Keswick than I did with his early morning runs and his evening show at Theater by the Lake; the author Beatrix Potter who wrote The Tales of Peter Rabbit lived nearby and her home is a tourist draw

Lee saw more of Keswick than I did with his early morning runs and his evening show at Theater by the Lake; the author Beatrix Potter who wrote The Tales of Peter Rabbit lived nearby and her home is a tourist draw

Lee and I took a one hour detour from our route to visit Housestead's Roman Fort and Hadrian's Wall; the ruins feature the best-preserved Roman toilets anywhere

Lee and I took a one hour detour from our route to visit Housestead's Roman Fort and Hadrian's Wall; the ruins feature the best-preserved Roman toilets anywhere

Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of emperor Hadrian; it ran 73 miles from River Tyne near the North Sea to Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, and was the Roman Empire's northern limit

Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD 122 in the reign of emperor Hadrian; it ran 73 miles from River Tyne near the North Sea to Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, and was the Roman Empire's northern limit

The most impressive Roman ruins in Britain are found here along Hadrian's Wall; the wall was originally 20 ft high but is now only 3-6 feet high and 3 feet wide

The most impressive Roman ruins in Britain are found here along Hadrian's Wall; the wall was originally 20 ft high but is now only 3-6 feet high and 3 feet wide

This model shows the extensive barracks at Housestead's; Hadrian's Wall was a manned fortification with 16 forts along the way; today thousands of people walk the national trail alongside the wall

This model shows the extensive barracks at Housestead's; Hadrian's Wall was a manned fortification with 16 forts along the way; today thousands of people walk the national trail alongside the wall

Many artifacts have been recovered at Housesteads which the Roman's occupied for about 300 years; Hadrian's Wall is not the boundary with Scotland although Scotland is often very close

Many artifacts have been recovered at Housesteads which the Roman's occupied for about 300 years; Hadrian's Wall is not the boundary with Scotland although Scotland is often very close

It's amazing to think how large the Roman Empire once was!; the number of soldiers required to defend such a territory had to have been enormous

It's amazing to think how large the Roman Empire once was!; the number of soldiers required to defend such a territory had to have been enormous

Lee showing off his form as his kicked my butt at pitch and putt; Lee golfed quite a bit in college and, although rusty, had moments where his experience showed

Lee showing off his form as his kicked my butt at pitch and putt; Lee golfed quite a bit in college and, although rusty, had moments where his experience showed

All the land in England higher than 3,000 feet above sea level lies within the Lakes National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England; it also contains the deepest and largest natural lakes in England

All the land in England higher than 3,000 feet above sea level lies within the Lakes National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England; it also contains the deepest and largest natural lakes in England

Our first hike in the Lake District wasn't marked so we relied on Google maps; it's still amazing to me how we traveled in Europe before Google maps

Our first hike in the Lake District wasn't marked so we relied on Google maps; it's still amazing to me how we traveled in Europe before Google maps

Hope Park; most of the tourists we encountered were seniors from elsewhere in England; they came to the Lake District to enjoy the long scenic walks

Hope Park; most of the tourists we encountered were seniors from elsewhere in England; they came to the Lake District to enjoy the long scenic walks

Derwentwater is one of Cumbria's most photographed and popular lakes; closest to Keswick, the lake has good boat service and miles of hiking trails

Derwentwater is one of Cumbria's most photographed and popular lakes; closest to Keswick, the lake has good boat service and miles of hiking trails

Around Lake Buttermere there were plenty of sheep grazing but this one had somehow found a different place to graze; I saw signs warning drivers about red squirrels but never saw one

Around Lake Buttermere there were plenty of sheep grazing but this one had somehow found a different place to graze; I saw signs warning drivers about red squirrels but never saw one

Fly agaric mushrooms are common in the Lake District and are probably the most iconic toadstools; technically, they are poisonous but with specific cooking instructions they are eaten in Europe

Fly agaric mushrooms are common in the Lake District and are probably the most iconic toadstools; technically, they are poisonous but with specific cooking instructions they are eaten in Europe

When you mention the Lake District to any Brit they'll tell you how much they love it; everyone has their favorite hike and Lee took the advice of a guy at the theater in selecting our first hike

When you mention the Lake District to any Brit they'll tell you how much they love it; everyone has their favorite hike and Lee took the advice of a guy at the theater in selecting our first hike

Lee and I did a second walk of 6 miles or so around Buttermere Lake; with gorgeous weather, there were tons of people out enjoying the walk with us

Lee and I did a second walk of 6 miles or so around Buttermere Lake; with gorgeous weather, there were tons of people out enjoying the walk with us

Some of the hills we climbed were just all crumbled slate but then we had views of vibrant green sheep meadows below; the roofing slate for Buckingham Palace came from here

Some of the hills we climbed were just all crumbled slate but then we had views of vibrant green sheep meadows below; the roofing slate for Buckingham Palace came from here

Lake District National Park is the largest national park in England and also the most visited with 23 million annual guests; the Lake District is roughly 32 miles by 40 miles

Lake District National Park is the largest national park in England and also the most visited with 23 million annual guests; the Lake District is roughly 32 miles by 40 miles

At times we were forced to walk on the loose slate which tended to just slide so Lee and I started keeping a tally of how often we landed on our backsides; I won, of course

At times we were forced to walk on the loose slate which tended to just slide so Lee and I started keeping a tally of how often we landed on our backsides; I won, of course

Moot Hall in Keswick; we stayed at a very small inn here since it is the most centrally located of the villages in the Lake District

Moot Hall in Keswick; we stayed at a very small inn here since it is the most centrally located of the villages in the Lake District

One of the most ingenuous uses for pencils was during WW2 when maps were hidden inside them; featured on Antiques Roadshow, one of these WW2 pencils recently sold for $500

One of the most ingenuous uses for pencils was during WW2 when maps were hidden inside them; featured on Antiques Roadshow, one of these WW2 pencils recently sold for $500+

There are just a handful of historical buildings around Lake Buttermere; most of the time you couldn't even see a building but were just lost to admire the scenery and peacefulness

There are just a handful of historical buildings around Lake Buttermere; most of the time you couldn't even see a building but were just lost to admire the scenery and peacefulness

I originally thought these were mushrooms but, with research, I think it's some type of fungus; it rains 180 days a year here so we lucked out with sunny weather

I originally thought these were mushrooms but, with research, I think it's some type of fungus; it rains 180 days a year here so we lucked out with sunny weather

Castlerigg is the most visited ancient stone circle in Cumbria; it was probably constructed around 3200 BC (Late Neolithic/Early Bronze-Age), making it one of the earliest stone circles in Britain

Castlerigg is the most visited ancient stone circle in Cumbria; it was probably constructed around 3200 BC (Late Neolithic/Early Bronze-Age), making it one of the earliest stone circles in Britain

Supposedly Grassmere gingerbread is the original gingerbread with a recipe going back centuries; it tastes very different from American gingerbread with more cinnamon and  other spices

Supposedly Grassmere gingerbread is the original gingerbread with a recipe going back centuries; it tastes very different from American gingerbread with more cinnamon and other spices

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