Steph and I grabbed a morning train to Bath from Paddington Station. We had a lovely train ride and got to view the countryside. There were rolling green hills and lots of sheep and cows. Little row houses broke up the landscape as well. We got to Bath and were able to check into the Airbnb immediately.
The Airbnb was fantastic. We were staying on a boat just below the weir. It was such a nice location and a lot of space in a unique room. We spent a good bit of time just relaxing on the deck of the ship.
We had a few food plans in Bath and they all turned out really well. The food here was just fantastic. The only disappointment was the Bath Bun, it was too sweet and the sugar crystals were not my favorite. On the other hand the Sally Lunn Bun was delicious and it was one of my favorite dinners in the UK. We also had afternoon tea in the Pump Room at the Roman Baths.
We took a tour of the Roman Baths after the afternoon tea. Before that we also walked around Bath and saw the Circus, the Royal Crescent, and the botanical gardens. That was a nice walk, but the walks that I enjoyed most were the ones up into the orchard and along the canals. The canals are high up and have lots of narrow boats along them. They have great views and are themselves lovely. I would love to do a month long trip on a narrow boat along the canals, as long as I could ensure I had internet for work in the evenings.
We also went to the Thermae Spa. It was a decently nice spa with a lot of hot rooms and an ice room that I used a lot between the hot rooms. There weren’t any hot tubs, but the warm pool at the bottom was plenty nice to spend time in. There were a lot of hen parties there, but since it wasn’t drinking time yet they were fine. In the evenings while walking around some of the hen and stag parties were a little obnoxious. There was also a rugby game nearby one evening that had a lot of rugby enthusiasts drinking into the night.
We got up early and grabbed the train back to London without any issues. I really enjoyed my time in Bath, but two days was just about right to see everything that we would want to see.
Steph and I were on separate flights to Europe. She was flying United and I was flying British Airways in Business Class as that was what the company wanted me to fly. Steph always likes to fly United. I was able to sleep the whole way in the lie flat seats, which were very nice. We managed to meet up in the airport despite me not really having a connection. I met Steph at the train to Paddington Station. We quickly made our way to the airbnb in Notting Hill.
We were staying in what must have been the servants quarters below street level. The place was pretty cozy still, and I really enjoyed the location. We were able to walk through Hyde park and Kensington Gardens. We walked by the Round Pond and the Kensington Palace, then up to Holland Park. We also had our first of five afternoon teas. The first one was at The Langham. This was probably the best food of any of the afternoon teas. The atmosphere was nice, but it was deep inside the building, so I think the ones with the views of London were slightly better locations.
We were able to do our work from the room in the evenings, which left the days open for going around to parks and museums.
Steph set up a terrarium making class through Airbnb experiences. It was a ton of fun and the guy who taught it was very knowledgeable. He was nice enough to let me use my own in addition to the one he provided. His special touch are the lights, which make it really special.
Brian and Brittany had us over and we got to meet Ethan for the first time. We had a great time at their house hanging out in their beautiful backyard. The weather was also just perfect and it was great to catch up with them and Bo.
Before the cookout we decided to do the Mount Diablo hike. It was a great set of views, and I swear I could smell a ton of candy cap mushrooms, but we couldn’t find them.
After the cookout we stayed in a tiny house in Livermore. It was adorable. We stayed there through Monday as well and did a short hike nearby. We also hung out in their tiny hot tub, which was lovely with great views.
Steph and I took another class from Kevin for poke poling. It was a great class with tons of crabs and a few fish. We also got a good number of mussels, which were my favorite to eat. We had some success with fish on subsequent trips with Michelle and Michael, Riley and Rong, and Yutong and Paul.
I met up with some people from work at Leo J. Ryan Park to play pickleball. I really enjoyed the game, but was bad at not stepping in the area close to the net. I think it will just take some time to get used to that part. We played 3 games. 2 games were the work people playing 2v2 and the last game was with some random people where Rohin and I lost, but had a good showing.
After that I pulled out my watercraft and we went out on the little lake. It was very calm, so there wasn’t any real concern of falling in. We had the inflatable stand up paddle board and the folding kayak. Rohin didn’t want to get on the SUP, which is understandable. It was a gorgeous day and and I might have stayed longer had I brought something to drink.
Steph and I had a nice weekend in Mendocino. We left early, early on Saturday and got to Casper Cove around 9am. We did a one hour dive where Steph was smashing the purple urchin and I was watching all the chiton, crabs, and fish. The crabs and fish were following her around as they were eating up all the urchin she was smashing. There were some truly massive urchins, and Steph totaled over 300 urchin kills. There were still tons of them around, but I was getting cold so we had to turn around and head back in.
We then went hiking along the Point Mendocino Trail. The caves and blowholes there were amazing to see, and the ocean was just perfect. Looking out there water was a sapphire blue, and the waves were reflecting the sun to make it sparkle. We also got lunch at a pizza place, that happened to have a candy cap ice cream. Candy caps are a type of mushroom that we had gathered before, and they have a strong maple scent. We got that ice cream mixed with coffee and it was delicious.
We checked into the inn and relaxed until dinner. Dinner was at Trillium, and they had us in a nice garden. The dinner was pretty nice, with my only complaint being the crispy duck wasn’t crispy.
The next day we joined Dr. Kev in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest for some mushroom foraging. We were going for black trumpets, and we got a really good haul of them. We got over 100 mushrooms, totaling over 2 lbs in weight after cleaning. It was a long drive home, so we passed on stopping for some mussels, and just went straight back.
Paul, Yutong, Steph and I went on a dive trip to Roata, an island off the coast of Honduras. We met at the airport in SFO, and made the mistake of not withdrawing enough cash before flying out. We had read that most places accepted card, but that turned out to only be half true. While most placed accepted cards, there were a bunch of things that they wouldn’t put on cards.
We got to Houston and had a short jaunt around the airport before heading to Roatan. We landed pretty early in the morning and after getting through customs were whisked away to Coco View Resort. It was an interesting ride to the resort, especially right at the end where we had to get on a boat to go the last quarter mile.
Once we got in everything went pretty smoothly. We got our dive gear unpacked and had a nice welcome briefing. We got our beach house and went there to take a nap. The house was very nice. The main interior was only screened off, with a large porch. The bedrooms were like small buildings within the larger structure, and were sealed with AC. We had our own little beach and fire ring.
The club house wasn’t super special, but the layout of the resort was pretty well thought out. That was a theme for the trip; a well thought out plan. The way they did the dives each day was finely tuned. Two morning dives, one guided one drop-off, and two afternoon dives, one guided and one drop-off. They had a house reef right at the resort that you could go dive any time, and the drop-off dives started you at the outer edges of the reef. You could then swim back directly to the resort along the reef. And that isn’t even mentioning the sunken plane and ship serving as artificial reefs and diving areas right at the entrance to the resort’s lagoon.
We also did a shark dive, where they chummed the water a bit while we stood by a reef wall.
For what we saw on the dives, a video is better than text:
We did take some time off from diving to go to other activities on the island.
We went to the sloth and monkey sanctuary, which was a lot of fun, if short and touristy. We got to hold a sloth and monkeys played on us. We also had a grumpy parrot that would sit on our arm. It nipped at us when it wanted more sunflower seeds, which was pretty much any time it wasn’t actively eating sunflower seeds. The monkeys were especially interesting to hold as they would wrap their tails around your neck and lean off the chest. They jumped around from shoulder to shoulder, although sometimes they would just sit on someone’s head. They were cute to watch, but obviously they were trouble makers that would do anything for their sunflower seed fix. At the end the guide, Luke, let one reach into his pocket and grab as many sunflower seeds as it could hold. It then tried to climb the fencing while holding all the sunflower seeds. It succeeded, but was hilarious in the process. At the end we went to watch the sloths some more and one went to the ground to poop. A male was also interested in one of the females, and we watched a slow chase as the male tried to catch the female.
Steph and I took Thursday afternoon and evening to go to a submarine ride with Stanley Submarines. It was a unique experience as the guy who took us on a tour had built his own sub. It was a tight fit, and I had some mis-adventures there and on the way back, but we had a good time of it. We started out by heading out of the bay over the sea grass. In the grass was the remains of his previous sub, that he purposefully sunk as a landmark on the way out to gauge current. He then drove out into the open water for a very short ways and we began to sink. We dropped down in the open water, and at about halfway down he turned on the lights. It took nearly 30 minutes to descend the 2000ft. Along the way we saw lots of small jelly fish, and squid at about one inch in size. We spooked the squid as they inked and swam away when they were in the lights. He also flashed the lights as a strobe and while they were off we saw the bioluminescence of the bacteria colonies in the water. We got to the bottom, and had a small touch down moment in front of a lobster. There was a huge amount of sediment down there, and I can see how sedimentary rock would be created by the build up. We saw a few more creatures: another type of lobster, an isopod the size of a dog, a small octopus, some shrimp, and a few fish. We then made it to the big boulders and saw the deepwater reef. There were starfish tangled into the corals, and they all looked disgusting. The starfish looked like worms, and were constantly moving while intwined in the corals. We came up further and saw lots of lion fish at 400ft. We then made it to the zone that we were able to dive and recognized most of the things we saw. Karl noticed that we were coming up directly below the Roatan Aggressor, a diving live-aboard. He said he liked to mess with divers when they were there like that. It reminded me of how some divers like to mess with snorklers.
During the dives we went lion fish hunting. We had to take a class on it from the local eco group, but it was very helpful in knowing how to approach the lion fish, and how to not damage the reef when trying to kill them. I didn’t get any, but had one assist. Yutong and Steph did most of the hunting and I held the keeper most of the time. Paul also took some time on the keeper and hunting. During the trip one of the other divers got stung, mainly because she was holding the keeper badly. The handling of the keeper was one thing that the class and the guides hadn’t covered, and probably should have since they said holding the keeper the way she was is how most people get stung. She had a terrible 6 hours of pain and the thumb swelled up. She was back to diving and hunting the next day.
The last night we went out on the beach behind our beach house and had a small fire. There was already a fire pit set up, with some driftwood stacked nearby. We had to improvise some tinder, but the driftwood caught very easily and we had a great conversation by the fire that last evening.
Steph organized for us to take a coastal foraging class with Kevin. We decided to head North early and stopped near where we did the mushroom foraging. We ended up finding two really nice chanterelle mushrooms.
We made it the rest of the way north before the class started, with a short stop by Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station. When we got to the spot we noticed that we weren’t the only group to bring old kitty litter containers. They were pretty much perfect because of their size, and the sealable lid.
Kevin did a quick intro and then we headed down the cliff to the spot he likes to use as his classroom. We gathered some red and purple urchin, sea snails, two rock crab, a steamer clam, and lots of mussels. We cooked a few of the mussels right on the beach, which was really nice. We hiked back up the cliff and did our counts before heading out. On the way back we gathered some sea water to keep everything fresh.