Category: Ecuador

Three Years ago Today …

We were setting off on our Galapagos Adventure, with Olivia, Catherine, Amy and Claudia…It was a wonderful trip.

Sadly, we received news earlier this month that Claudia’s husband, John Sacret Young, passed away. John was well regarded in the television and movie industries, and was the creator of the acclaimed China Beach TV series. We send our condolences to Claudia, and all of John’s family and friends.

Wrangell, Elevation +/- 10 Feet

Click for larger version

After lunch, we motored towards Wrangell, our destination for the afternoon. A small city, it has become popular as a destination for smaller ships. It offers a chance to get a glimpse of life in small town Alaska, as well as opportunities to learn more about Tlingit history and culture.

Most of us followed our guides to Chief Shakes Tribal House, where we heard stories and musical presentations about life in the past. Lou chose to wander around town, and he saved the day. He took lots of photos, so we have something to share, since there were no photos allowed in the Tribal House..

The Chief Shakes Tribal House was restored and rededicated in 2013. It holds an important place in Tlingit History, and many of the totems were carved by master carvers and their apprentices.
This was taken at an earlier Restoration in 1940
Our group waits to go into the Tribal House

As I mentioned already, Lou skipped the Chief and wandered through town, taking photos of stuff he liked. He did the same during our 2013 visit, and always comes up with interesting photos. It’s a good thing, because I didn’t take any photos until we got back to the ship.

I’m sure there was a reason Lou took this photo, maybe he can share with us.

My favorite from Lou’s collection:

We set our course for Misty Fjords, and tried not to think about our time on the Wilderness Discoverer coming to an end in just a couple of days.

Click HERE to read about our next day’s adventure.

Lonesome George

I just saw a news article about Lonesome George … we met Lonesome George when we were in the Galápagos.  Well, we met his remains. Here is the article from the news article:


Final Thoughts – Quito and Galápagos

Realized I never actually published the draft of our final wrap up on the trip to Ecuador.

We are grateful for the opportunity to travel to the Galápagos Islands, and the visit to Quito exceeded expectations. Our travel partners were great. Olivia and Claudia enthusiastically volunteered for all optional activities, and Catherine was right there with them. Amy and I hobbled along on our private shore walks, but then relived our heydays as athletic superstars at UCR, while sipping on a single malt in the comfortable lounge. Lou mostly sat back and observed, capturing the group with his telephoto lens. We all thank Lou for arranging the trip.

What struck me, and I think my travel partners, about the Galápagos Islands was how different each individual island is, and how National Park areas have been so well-protected. I can see why this was such a unique area for Darwin and other scientists to study the local species. I had read The Origin of Species when I was quite young, and reread it before the trip. It was very special to step upon the same land, to see the strange but wonderful giant tortoises, land iguanas, the marine iguanas, the finches, and the colorful crabs. It brought new meaning to Darwin’s work.

We were also very impressed by the city of Quito, and would not hesitate to go back for a longer visit. The architecture was impressive, and the people were welcoming.

We booked this trip through UnCruise. In reality, it wasn’t UnCruise as we know it – but that wasn’t really a problem. La Pinta and it’s staff operated under the UnCruise label during our cruise, but they also do trips through their own touring agency. The staff on the boat, and our naturalist guides were all excellent. We were so grateful for the special considerations given for some of our mobility issues. Life onboard the boat, including food, beverages, and presentations, were all quite good. The Chefs clearly took pride in their offerings, and the wait staff was exceptional.

48 passengers was a nice size, we never felt like we had to wait for meals or for excursions. There was a somewhat major hiccup with our transportation back to the airport, but we were able to recover and all was well. This is still my favorite photo of our group preparing to board the Pangas.

Air travel, both outside of Ecuador, and our internal transfers, did not go super smoothly. But we lived, we received all our luggage in the end, and we are no worse for the wear. So I think we’d just call this a risk of international travel.

A wonderful trip. Thank you Lou for all your hard work in arranging the trip. Thank you Amy and Claudia for sharing the adventure. Thank you Catherine, for stepping in for Tory and being a great traveling partner. Thank you, Olivia, for picking this destination for your graduation trip, and for representing our group in all the activities.

Guest Blog by Amy!

OK everyone,

I thought it was about time I gave my feedback about what an incredible trip this was to the Galapagos…Best part were my traveling companions…my Sister Claudia, Sharon and Lou who I have known since college for over 40 years and Catherine and Olivia…who were a real treat, fun and both with great senses of humor…I have known Catherine for a very long time as well. I would go anywhere with you guys again…just tell me when.


I have submitted Catherine’s “armpit photos” to the National Geographic new species competition and they tell me you have a real chance. Sharon took a great photo of me with my sister and commented that I looked like I was from law enforcement, while Claudia looked like a movie star waiting for someone to ask for her photograph.

(Edit by SMD … actually, we said Amy looked like a Cub Scout … still cracks me up!)



I loved the tortoises the best because I finally found something that moves slower than me…and I won’t “go there” with the blue boobies. Spectacular trip, people and adventures. More to come. AMY



Thanks, Amy!  It was great sharing the adventure with you and Claudia.

And this completes our report on our Galapagos Adventure. We are hoping Claudia gets time to do a guest blog, because I know it will be spectacular.

I want to thank Lou for arranging this trip, starting over a year in advance. It was great to see Claudia and Amy again, and traveling with the Holmes family is always a treat. We missed Mark and Tory, but hope to see them on future trips. Catherine did an admirable job filling in for Tory, and Olivia seemed to enjoy all aspects of the trip.

Congratulations to Olivia for successfully completing high school, and for getting accepted to USC. We wish you the best as you navigate your college career.

Click HERE to read our wrap up of the trip.

Guest Blog by Olivia

isla seymour norte
First glimpse at a land iguana! Unfortunately, this poor guy didnt make it. This island was also covered in birds. We saw a ton of baby boobies!
punta vicente roca
We saw this guy while on a panga ride through a sea cave!
punta espinosa
We walked across new lava rock for this hike. Along the way, we encountered a large sea lion, too many lava lizards, a whale skeleton, and some marine iguanas.
tagus cove – isabella 
This hike started in a bay where old ships would write their names on the cliffs. What looked like graffiti was a decades old guestbook. Also, this baby sea lion was blocking our way up the stairs while he posed for pics!
isla rabida
My favorite hike! We saw a couple Galapagos Hawks and the landscape, with the red dirt and bright green cactus contrasting with the deep blue ocean, was very beautiful.
Thank you, Olivia, for your unique view of the islands. You were a great travel companion, and we hope to share more adventures in the future.
Click HERE to see Amy’s comments.