journal . stories . life

1 ~ October 2022

The main focus of my mid and late summer was to prepare for my return trip to Indonesia and the Coral Triangle, for a snorkeling, freediving, and walking vacation in Bunaken Island, Indonesia. Preparing involved not only organizing my gear and luggage, but spending a lot of time hiking with the dogs at high altitudes. My reasoning was that the more I got accustomed to the low oxygen at 12,000 feet, the more energy and fitness I would have down at sea level. I was also doing what the dogs love the most - Exploring offtrail with me through the spruce forests and up into the alpine meadows.

from top to bottom above - Manado Tua (extinct volcano), Bunaken Island, and Siladen Island

I have snorkeled and free dived in the Florida Keys, the Southern Caribbean, and on Niue Island in the South Pacific. Bunaken Indonesia cannot match the clear water of Niue, but the diversity of fish and coral in Bunaken is overwhelming and breathtaking. It is within the Coral Triangle, known for the greatest diversity of coral and tropical fish in the world. Bunaken also avoids coral destroying hurricanes and cyclones, since these never form close to the equator.

I had wanted to return in 2020, but the pandemic delayed that 2 years. I went through Singapore again, on the 16 hour flight from San Francisco to Changi Airport. I was a little worried about the flight being late and making my connection from Changi to Manado, Indonesia, but as it turned out that was no problem.

On this second trip I continued my walking exploration of the island, and spent time at my favorite snorkeling spots as well as found new ones. I once again was able to go along with the dive boat every time they went out. They dropped me off at the edge of the reef and then picked me up when they were ready to travel to a different spot. Like last time in Bunaken, I always towed a yellow buoy behind me while snorkeling, which enables the boat crew to keep tabs on where I am, and keeps me safe from being run over by other boats. When I want to free dive I just let go of the loop tied to the buoy, descend, and then come back up to it. I usually spent a lot more time in the water than the divers, because of their required surface interval time between dives.

(click on photos below for larger image . . . - Esc or clicking outside of image will close it)

Spending the summer hiking, backpacking, and staying in mountain cabins, then ending it with a trip to the Coral Triangle was the perfect summer. The hard part was preparing myself to be away from my dogs for so long. I set up a laptop again to auto answer when I called, and then I could talk to the dogs in real time while I could see them on webcams, from 8,000 miles away. There is a 14 hour time difference, so early every morning Indonesia time I checked in with the dogs, which was evening Denver time. This made both them and me very happy, since we were able to maintain our connection, and keep me from getting hopelessly homesick. Fortunately I found someone very good to watch my two dogs, who took them on Green Belt walks and who they adored.

Fourteen year old Mollie had passed away before the trip. I found her at the bottom of some stairs, and she was unable to even hold her head up or acknowledge me. She had a stroke in April, but a cocktail of medication allowed her to recover enough to have an active summer, doing what she loved best, wandering in the high mountains with me and Beau and Hayley. It warmed my heart to see all the pleasure she took up there all summer. How she handled her last year is a model for how I want to end mine - active up to the very end. Losing one of my border collies is a an array of emotions, beginning with a terrible broken heart, and progressing to satisfaction that I gave them a good life, and that they knew they were loved without end every single day of it.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"