Saturday, July 16, 2011

the hitchhiker's guide to aruba | february 4

When I last wrote about our Aruban adventure, I left you in a bit of suspense as to whether or not we finally located the natural bridge at Seroe Colorado. Today that question gets answered. :)

Once again, we got up before dawn (at 4am, actually) and drove to the other end of the island. And when I say before dawn, I mean it, because by the time we reached place we were going, it still looked like this outside.

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But that was okay, because, guess what? We found the lighthouse!! And by found I mean just barely noticed, because it was rather dim, even up close. We waited in a parking lot in the car until the first little bits of pre-dawn light started to appear, and then we started scrambling down rocky sea cliffs in the still near-darkness.

It was all worth it, though, when we finally spotted this- the thing we'd been searching for for two days- the natural bridge. And despite having hiked down the wrong way to begin with, we still managed to get to it just before sunrise.

February 4, 2011

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This shot? Is the shot I'd been waiting to get.

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There was so much water crashing in that I was getting some serious sea spray on the D3, not to mention my lens (luckily I always have a UV filter on the front element to protect the glass). That combined with the slippery rocks made it pretty treacherous to try to lean out too far- I was afraid I'd slip, fall, and break the camera. Or, you know, me. So Darren grabbed the point and shoot and leaned out to get some closer shots.

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The point and shoot actually takes some pretty good pictures. :)

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See the haze at the top of this photo? I had a heck of a time trying to keep my lens clean enough not to flare up.

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And I'd no sooner clean it for a shot like this...

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Than it would get covered in crud again and start hazing up.

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But it was so worth it (and now, 4 months later, my camera and lens are still just fine, so no harm done).

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Darren decided to climb up and walk across the bridge. Chicken me stayed down below to take photos, but I'm glad I did and got this shot because you can see what we climbed down. In the dark. Did I mention that part yet?

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Darren says he's going to make this shot his Facebook profile photo.

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A few shots of the surrounding area (look, clean lens!!).

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And the surrounding tidepools. Did I mention that we like tidepools?

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And then guess what? I got brave enough to climb up on the thing! I have a serious issue with heights (they make me dizzy), so I only wanted to stand up for about two seconds.

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But in those two seconds Darren got this shot.

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And then I promptly sat back down.

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I had the little camera with me (Darren kept the big one below) and got this picture from the top of the bridge.

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Once the sun was all the way up, we hiked back up to the car and that pesky lighthouse, which doesn't really look like a lighthouse at all.

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No, seriously, that's really it!

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And of course Darren climbed it.

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We had some serious plans for the rest of the day including snorkeling later on, so we decided to drive to Baby Beach for a bit just to make sure we could find it again (because, as I've said before, Aruba suffers from an acute lack of signage).

Oh, and meet the python (yes, I said python) that we met while walking along the beach.

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Arikok National Park was on our list of places to visit again, especially since we hadn't been able to make it to the south end on our last visit, so we drove over to the entrance by Vader Piet (the wind farm) to see if the gate was open.

On the way we got a bit lost (again, lack of signage), but Darren has the acute sense of direction, and at one point he commented that we were close to a burned-out truck on the side of the road that we'd seen a day or two before (who the heck remembers things like that??!?). And on the next turn he took? There it was. I still hear about that one!

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We discovered that the south entrance to Arikok was not yet open (even though the park was), so we drove all the way through San Nicolaas to Santa Cruz to buy tickets at the north gate to buy tickets and then drove all the way back, stopping in San Nicolaas on the way for lunch.

Also on the way? We stopped and took lots more photos of signs.

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I adore this tile roof. Is that wrong?

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Kooyman is kind of like the Aruban Home Depot.

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Back at the entrance to Arikok we found that the gate was finally staffed (of course) and drove in.

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And the biggest reason for going? So Darren could explore the caves. The boy loves caves!

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And I love fast, wide (this was taken with my 14-24mm) lenses that can take photos like this inside a cave.

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A little climbing around on the rocks outside. We also spent some time exploring the wind farm. The massive generators are just cool!

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Then it was back to the "ghost town beach" because I wanted to take photos of the abandoned buildings, plus get some texture shots and just generally play with the Nikon (since I'd only brought the point and shoot along the last time we were there).

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Then it was back to Baby Beach for snorkeling!! Along the way we stumbled across a pet cemetery of all things!

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At least we assume it was a cemetery, as I'm pretty sure that no person is actually named "Floopy."

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This is Dennis, owner of a snack stand and snorkel rental place at Baby Beach. We used his restrooms to change into our gear (we carry our own snorkeling stuff when we travel), and he spotted the camera and asked if we'd take his photo. He was a cool guy to talk to. :)

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And then we were off and snorkeling! The reef at Baby Beach is so shallow that you can walk up to it, and we had tons of fun passing the camera back and forth...until I got tired, that is (my snorkeling time limit has always been about 45 minutes). But even then I enjoyed in the sand in the sun while Darrren swam out beyond the reef.

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And then we came back to the room, where I decided that I'd better take a photo of the bed that had been freshly made before we collapsed, exhausted, into it for the night.

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