Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bonaire Day One and Two

Friday, May 29, 2009. My parents picked us up at the house at about 3 p.m. and took us to the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:30 p.m. The security checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport I think is the shortest security line we have ever gone through. We walked right up and went right through—absolutely no one ahead of us. We started off the trip with smooth sailing. We boarded our flight in Phoenix on time and headed to Houston where we were to join up with Eric's parents, Dick and Lou. We arrived on time and headed to the gate to find Eric's parents. Shortly after we arrived at the gate Dick informed us that they had overbooked the flight to Bonaire (Continental Airlines only has one flight a week to Bonaire) and needed three people that would be willing to volunteer to take another flight the following morning on Delta Airlines. They were offering a $300 per person voucher for anywhere Continental flies, they would guarantee a seat on the Delta flight the following morning at 5:30 a.m., they would put up any volunteers in the Airport Marriott for the night, and also give them each dinner and breakfast vouchers. We all discussed it, and Dick told the ticket agent that we were a party of four and that we would volunteer if they would offer it to all four of us. They said they could only offer the deal to the exact number of people that they needed, which was three. As they went ahead and began boarding the plane, they repeatedly announced that they needed three people to volunteer. They finally got one person to volunteer. They then continued to announce that they needed two volunteers and at that point they upped the amount for the vouchers to $400 per person. They made several more announcements and Eric and I finally decided that if they offered $500 per person that we would volunteer. Dick went up to the counter and told them if they would offer $500 per person that Eric and I would take it. They could not get anyone else to volunteer, so we got our $500 a piece, a room at the Marriott for the night (which was very nice) and a guaranteed flight out the next morning on Delta. Of course, by the time we got to our room it was after midnight and we had to get up at about 3:50 a.m. to catch our flight, but we still felt as though we had gotten a deal.

Saturday, May 30, 2009. I did not end up getting much sleep (probably 30 minutes to an hour). We got up at 3:50 a.m., threw on our clothes and headed back to the Delta ticket counter (which was not manned until 4:30 a.m.) We got the ticket counter and found quite a line and quite a bit of confusion. They have self-serve ticket kiosks, but no one to check your luggage until 4:30 a.m. Ticket agents finally arrived, actually on time, but of course we got the lady that got up on the wrong side of bed that morning. We ended up waiting in three different lines and finally just had to stand and wait for the crabby lady to help up as the kiosk of course would not give me a boarding pass because the original name on my passport (my maiden name) did not match the name on the ticket reservation, ugh!!! Okay, so we finally get our boarding passes and head for the security we go. The security line was actually very short. Eric loaded all his stuff on the conveyer and flew right through. I loaded all my stuff on the conveyer and thought I would be right behind him...not that lucky. They pulled me aside and said they needed to check inside my carry-on. I said fine and a very nice TSA woman took me to a table and proceeded to open my bag. She first took out my mask box which I had utilized every nook and cranny to store lithium batteries for the camera, an alarm clock, and on and on... She did not find what she was looking for there. She next moved on to my regulator bag which contained some metal parts for our regulators/computer. So she ran my bag through the scanner again. Nope...still seeing something suspicious. So she ended up taking everything out of my bag onto the table...good thing my underwear was clean... The search continued. In the end, after running my bag through the scanner about three times the culprit was a very dangerous bottle opener...Oh my gosh. She told me that it looked just like a knife on the scanner. She was actually probably one of the nicest TSA people I have ever met. I told her she was going to have to repack my bag so everything fit back in, and she did. So I was finally on my way again. Since the whole ordeal was taking so long Eric went ahead and headed to the gate to get our seats confirmed. I met up with him after I managed to pass my security check and we proceeded to board the plane. We had an uneventful rest of the trip from there (Houston) to Atlanta to catch our flight to Bonaire. We ended up getting off our flight in Atlanta, walking to the gate for our flight to Bonaire, and immediately boarded. We had a smooth flight from Atlanta to Bonaire and arrived in Bonaire at about 1:30 p.m. and SUPRISE, our checked bag actually made it too. We walked across the street from the airport to pick up our rental car at Hertz and it was no surprise they did not have the car we reserved, but they upgraded us to a much nicer car for nothing, so it actually ended up a good deal. We then drove a very short distance down the road to our hotel (the Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer). Eric's parents were of course waiting in the room and expecting us. Our Penthouse Suite is fabulous. We could not ask for nicer accommodations. We quickly unpacked and headed to the dive shop to get our Marine Park tags which everyone who gets in the water to snorkel or scuba dive here in Bonaire has to have. They require you to do a short checkout dive and pay a fee for your Marine Park tag. We got that taken care of and headed back to our hotel to do some practice diving of our own off the pier at our hotel. We all had some kinks to work out and we pretty much all came to the conclusion that we needed to do another dive in front of the hotel the next morning to finish getting out all the kinks. After our experimental dive out in front of the hotel we all got cleaned up and headed out to dinner. After driving around downtown in the dark and down some streets that were closed, etc. (we were looking for a restaurant we never could find) we happened upon Richard's restaurant, which Dick had actually gotten a recommendation for earlier in the day. So we ended up having dinner there right on a deck over the water. You could not ask for better atmosphere. The service was a little slow, but everything around here tends to run on “island time.” After dinner we headed back to the hotel and boy did we sleep good.

Sunday, May 31, 2009. We slept in and after we finally got up and moving we headed out to dive off the pier in front of the hotel. After being in the water for about five minutes, we all decided we needed some more weight, so we climbed out and headed back to the dive shop to each get some more weights. We came back to the hotel and decided to try diving off the pier again. This time we ended up going out quite a ways where there is a wall that drops off. It is actually a very nice place to dive. There were many kinds of coral and sponges and of course lots of fish. After this dive, we pretty much all came to the conclusion that we had worked out most of our kinks and were starting to all feel more comfortable. We headed back in and headed downtown for lunch. Of course, on an island like this, pretty much everything is closed on Sundays. There was very little open, but we found a very nice outdoor cafe with fabulous service and even better food. We finished our excellent lunch and headed back to the hotel to get our gear and go out and do another dive. Dick decided to sit this one out, so Eric and I went out to the pier out in front and headed out again. This time we paddled out to where the edge of the reef started and then dropped down and did some exploring up and down the wall for a ways. I think every coral had a trumpet fish hiding in it. We also saw a large parrot fish, a tarpon, a spotted moray eel, small groupers, french angelfish, and many, many other types of fish. After a very good dive, we headed back to our room to watch a beautiful sunset from our balcony.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Welcome to our Blog

Hello and welcome to Eric and Sheila's Blog.  Here you will find photos and stories from our various adventures.  We are both certified scuba divers (Sheila just got her c-card this year) and love to travel to Caribbean to go diving, snorkeling or just relax.  Currently we have two cats, Rachel and Randi, and a yellow lab named Sparky.

I (Eric) also enjoy flying model airplanes.  This is something that I was first exposed to as a kid with my dad.  A few years ago after several years of RC car racing I bought my first airplane and have been in love with flying planes ever since.  Currently I have 3 planes that I am flying.  A 3D Hobby Shop 40" Edge 540, 47" Extra 300 SR, and an 87" Extra SHP.  All three of them are electric powered and fly great.


Here is a video of the 87" Extra flying

At one point Sheila gave flying a try.  Here is a video of Sheila "flying"