Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Warning for Puerto Rico

Our home base in northeastern Fajardo, Puerto Rico

We are safe in our RV in Colorado.  Our boat is insured.  When we left the boat in storage in June, it was prepped for a hurricane.  We monitor the Caribbean weather daily.  We’ve been watching Irma since it was in the mid-Atlantic.  We've experienced a low-wind Tropical Storm & 70 kts at anchor, but this is our first time in the path of a hurricane.


Dry boat storage at Puerto del Rey

Irma's track has been adjusted south this morning and Puerto Rico has officially activated emergency hurricane plans.  We are officially freakin worried about our home island, that floods when it rains...

“...IRMA BECOMES AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS 
CAT 5 HURRICANE...
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...175 MPH...280 KM/H…
Hurricane-force winds extend outward 
up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center 
and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward 
up to 140 miles
(220 km)…”

NOAA wind forecast

Our hurricane plan:  s/v Odin is in dry storage at Puerto del Rey, Fajardo, Puerto Rico.  She's stripped and strapped down.  We chose Puerto del Rey because it is largely considered one of the safest storage yards in the Caribbean and is approved by our insurance company.

“Puerto Del Rey Marina provides excellent 
protection from hurricanes for 
mono-hull and catamarans. 
Underground hurricane-proof steel and 
cement structures are protected from the sea 
by 100,000 square meters of US NAVY 
controlled mangrove. A block-and-jack-stand 
support system is used within a 
network of strong tie-down points.”

Our location in the yard, back row next to a large powerboat

Hurricane monitoring:  We receive Chris Parker & NOAA weather forecast emails daily.  When there is a threat, we monitor the NOAA Tropical Storm Forecast every 6 hours.  There are several other websites that we follow also.

Officially the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin

Hurricane Hugo:  Hurricane Hugo is the most talked about weather event in Puerto Rico.  It was part of the criteria when we chose our storage facility.  It was a Cat 5 approaching the islands, Cat 4 over St. Croix and a Cat 3 when it reached Puerto Rico (Cat 4 damage recorded on the ground).  You can read more here:

Sailors may remember that Hurricane Hugo is the storm that took Fatty Goodlander's boat Carlotta, while anchored in Culebra, Puerto Rico.  You can read an excerpt here:

Latest Chris Parker forecastN PR near SanJuan: ENE<NE@7-15<15-20k Today; then NE<N@15-20g25k overnight-Wed6 morning N@15-30<W@50-70k<SW@40-70k Seas 25-35’ Storm Surge 6-10’ Wed6 afternoon-Wed6 midnight; SW<S@40-70<S@30k Late Wed6 night-Thu7 morning then similar to Guadeloupe-Leewards Thu7 onward.  

Webcams:

Links:
Chris Parker
NOAA Hurricane:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Tuesday morning forecast, NOAA Hurricane Center, Public Advisory: (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT1+shtml/051742.shtml?)
000
WTNT31 KNHC 051159
TCPAT1

Hurricane Irma Special Advisory Number  25
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL112017
800 AM AST Tue Sep 05 2017

...IRMA BECOMES AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE...
...PREPARATIONS SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION IN THE HURRICANE
WARNING AREA...

SUMMARY OF 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...16.7N 57.7W
ABOUT 270 MI...440 KM E OF ANTIGUA
ABOUT 280 MI...445 KM ESE OF BARBUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...175 MPH...280 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 280 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...929 MB...27.44 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The government of the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane
Watch from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti and a
Tropical Storm Watch from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
* Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
* Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
* British Virgin Islands
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* Guadeloupe
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with
Haiti

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Guadeloupe
* Dominica

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued
36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-
force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or
dangerous. In this case, for some of easternmost islands, the
hurricane conditions are expected within the next 24 hours.
Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to
completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area in this case within 36
hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Interests elsewhere in the Dominican Republic, along with Haiti,
the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba, and the southeastern and central
Bahamas should monitor the progress of Irma.

For storm information specific to your area in the United
States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please
monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service
forecast office. For storm information specific to your area outside
the United States, please monitor products issued by your national
meteorological service.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
At 800 AM AST (1200 UTC), the distinct eye center of Hurricane Irma
was located near latitude 16.7 North, longitude 57.7 West. Irma is
moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general
motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the
west-northwest tonight. On the forecast track, the dangerous core of
Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands
tonight and early Wednesday.

Reports from NOAA and U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft
indicate Irma continues to strengthen and maximum sustained winds
have increased to near 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher gusts.  Irma
is an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely
during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a
powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the
center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles
(220 km).

The latest estimated minimum central pressure from aircraft data is
929 mb (27.44 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
STORM SURGE:  The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large
breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 feet
above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme northern
Leeward Islands within the hurricane warning area near and to the
north of the center of Irma.  Near the coast, the surge will be
accompanied by large and destructive waves.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause
normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters
moving inland from the shoreline.  The water is expected to reach
the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the
time of high tide...

British and U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix...7 to 11 ft
Northern coast of Puerto Rico...2 to 4 ft
Southern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix...1 to 2 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of
onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and
destructive waves.  Surge-related flooding depends on the relative
timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over
short distances.  For information specific to your area, please see
products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast
office.

WIND:  Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane
warning area in the Leeward Islands by tonight, with tropical storm
conditions beginning later today. Tropical storm conditions are
expected within the tropical storm warning area where hurricane
conditions are also possible. Hurricane conditions are expected
to begin within the hurricane warning area in the British and U.S.
Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with tropical storm
conditions beginning tonight. Hurricane and tropical storm
conditions are possible within the watch area in the Dominican
Republic by early Thursday.

RAINFALL:  Irma is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations
of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches across
the northern Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands,
and Puerto Rico.  These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening
flash floods and mudslides.

SURF:  Swells generated by Irma will affect the northern Leeward
Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands
during the next several days.  These swells are likely to cause
life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult
products from your local weather office.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hanging with Cowboys in Buffalo, Wyoming

Our spot at the Buffalo KOA "Journey" (apparently there are three different types of KOA's).  $47/night

This is the blog that almost wasn't.  I didn’t plan a blog for this stop since it was just a layover, without a lot of exciting photos.  BUT, this is a great little town and I hope we get to opportunity to visit again and stay longer!   Here's the scoop:

Google Map of our KOA next to a Hampton.  Nice spot to meet up with family

It is a short hop (130 miles) from Devils Tower to Buffalo. Campgrounds with openings are slim in peak season (& not cheap!) as we near Yosemite.  The result is our first KOA (largest chain of privately held campgrounds in the world).  Our scheduled 4 nights became 3 when we stay an extra night at Devil’s Tower (although Buffalo KOA graciously didn't charge us, despite not making the 48-hour notification cutoff).  


It's a nice campground with a clean laundry room adjacent to a back patio for lounging, an outdoor kitchen for gatherings, a game room, and small cabins for rent (Sturgis motorcyclists were taking advantage of these).  We had a shady spot, with only tent campers as close neighbors.  However, it filled up on the weekend (& wifi slowed to a crawl).

My ideal campsite involves a shady spot under the awning & a picnic table.
Bonus: The outdoor power outlet works! What a luxury!
Buffalo is at the crossroads...

Buffalo is at the intersection of I-90 and I-25.  This is the end of our trip on the I-90 corridor.  We'll be heading southbound on I-25 toward Colorado.  This stop also puts us within reach of exploring another National Forest.



The Colonel bike ride #1

The Colonel discovers our location is ideal for some bike riding.  There is a "Strava segment" just outside our campground.  Our elevation is 4646 ft (note he climbed another 1162 & 1179 ft respectively!)

Bike ride #2, "That hurt a little."

Another fun fact for the Longmire fans out there, is the author Craig Johnson lives in the area.  Parts of the fictional town of Durant are based on Buffalo including The Busy Bee.  So I headed out for walk...

This shop was closed, but the window display was fun!

Even though the TV show was filmed in New Mexico, many cast members attend the yearly "Longmire Days".  We just missed it!

The local "bookstore" turned out to be mostly Craig Johnson & CJ Box!

Craig Johnson's list of things to do from Cowboys & Indians magazine, "The Longmire Loop":  http://www.cowboysindians.com/2015/09/the-longmire-loop/ 

C.J. Box is another favorite mystery author whose books are set in Wyoming.  He's from Casper & still lives in the area.


The Busy Bee, next to the Occidental Hotel

This is a genuine "wild west" downtown area, without being touristy/cheesy.  Despite being ON the route to Yosemite, it was hopping with locals in Wrangler's & cowboy hats by happy hour.

The Carnegie Library that inspired Sheriff Longmire's office and a history museum are also here.  Next time!


Wow.  A nice trail system we did not explore enough!

A sculpture dedicated to the Basque


The Bozeman Trail passes through the area

View from Loaf Mountain Overlook (see below for peak names)

On our last day, we decided to take the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway through the "southern loop" of the Bighorn National Forest. We took 16 West from Buffalo to Ten Sleep then returned. Peak elevation of 9666 ft. Our most scenic stop was the Loaf Mountain Overlook.
(for more info try the WY DOT Scenic Byway brochure: http://www.dot.state.wy.us/files/live/sites/wydot/files/shared/Planning/Big%20Horn%20Scenic%20Byway.pdf)



If you have a full day, they recommend doing "the loop":  16 west to Worland, north to Greybull, then 14 west to Sheridan (Bighorn Skyway?) and back south.


Road conditions driving in the National Forest
We are in the car, but we're always taking note of road conditions.  Could we get Odin the Winnebago up here?  Because there at least are four National Forest campgrounds/dispersed camping locations! 

The answer is yes.  The road is wide sweeping curves with a modest shoulder and rumble strips.  After our stop at Devil’s Tower, we are more seriously scouting stops at National Forests.  The good news is, the ones we saw were dirt roads but near the main road and looked accessible for our Class A.  


USDA Forest Service website is worth checking but not all-inclusive!

There are whole apps/websites dedicated to "boondocking" or camping without hookups.  National Forests are one of the options.  We haven't found it easy to get info on them, but we're learning.  Apparently one of the ways to find these gems, is getting a map of vehicle accessible roads from the park ranger.  

Recreation.gov does reservations for the campgrounds in Bighorn but does not include all dispersed camping options.


And for the finale:  a HUGE ribeye.  Can you say, John Candy's 96 ouncer from Great Outdoors?!

And after seeing real cowboys on horseback herding cattle in the foothills, the boss was in the mood for a steak!

Stay tuned for our final stop in Wyoming--Glendo State Park...

@WyomingTourism @WyoStateParks #ThatsWY  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hiking Devil's Tower, WY (Pictorial & Maps)

View from our hike on Devils Tower to the valley (& campground) below

Be sure to grab a NPS brochure

NOTE:  The elevation is 3900 ft at the campground (base of these hikes).  You'll need sunscreen or a long-sleeve shirt, hat, eye protection, lots of water (water fountain at visitor’s center), a snack and a trail map.

The start of Tower Trail around the base of Devils Tower

Just us and several hundred bikers...

It's even more stunning up close

At one point, the trail goes right up to the base

Tower Trail (easy, paved, 1.3 miles):  If you want a short hike or are limited on time, then the popular Tower Trail at the Visitor's Center is mandatory.  There are some great views from here.  However, I highly recommend taking the time for one of the two following options:

Start of Hike #1:  Prairie Dog Town

Belle Fourche River or "Pretty Fork River" was named by French fur trappers



The ancient red sandstone cliffs you see from the park entrance

Red Beds trail takes you right along the cliffs.  Wow!

Can you spot The Colonel?


From the Visitor Center trailhead

Hike #1 Red Beds Trail, longer loop (4.1 miles, easy-intermediate)Does not included Tower Trail loop.  See #2.  
Views of Belle Fourche river, the spectacular red sandstone cliffs, Devils Tower and the valley below.  Shallower sections through several meadows. (This side of Devils Tower should look look familiar from the movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".)
  • From the Belle Fourche Campground (see Campground Review blog: camping-at-devils-tower-wy.html), take Valley View Trail along Prairie Dog Town and the Belle Fourche River for 0.6 mi.  
  • Cross the road & head up towards Red Beds Trail 
  • Turn RIGHT on Red Beds Trail for 3 miles. (You’ll have a more gradual climb than turning left and you’ll hike along the red cliff’s with a view down on the valley).  
  • About halfway, you’ll pop out at the Visitor’s Center (Tower Trail is another 1.3).  
  • Continue on Red Beds until you reach the South Side Trail 
  • Then head back down for 0.6 miles, back across the road, through the Prairie Dog Town to the campground.
The two routes through Prairie Dog Town

Pick your direction--left or right


A clearly defined, but single-file trail on hike #2

Hike #2 Red Beds shorter loop with Tower Trail (4.2 miles, intermediate):  
This was the hike we did first, but we both agreed the one above was our favorite.  Spectacular views of the river valley and Devils Tower.
  • From the campground, take the 0.6 miles South Side Trail through the Prairie Dog Town,
  • Cross the road, then climb up to join Red Beds Trail.  (This was the steepest part) 
  • Then turn left for a 0.7 mile more gentle climb than the first segment (but steeper than Hike #1) to the Visitor’s Center (and for us, a COMPLETELY FULL parking lot full of Harley’s).  
  • Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile gently rolling, paved path.  (Total elevation climb from the campground at 3900 ft to 4400 ft). This is fabulous walk because the Tower changes with the light.  There are American Indian prayer flags visible from the path.  You will be able to see several groups of rock climbers.  We saw a white tailed buck, hawk, and bluebird.
  • Return the same route.
NOTE:  While headed out on Hike #2, we ran into a family with two kids (8 & 10?), walking down the main road from the KOA.  We pointed them down to Southside Trail (Hike #1) as the shortest distance to the Visitor's Center.  As we reached the Visitor's Center, I wondered what happened to them.  A short distance later, we found them stopped & enjoying the view.  Their youngest daughter in flip flops, looked tired but was excited and was "glad they came"--although, they were a little disappointed we had caught them already!  So I call it intermediate because of the altitude, and it's not paved, but definitely possible even for kids.  Just stop to take pictures & catch your breath!


Interesting rock formations with a small cave

The intrepid adventurers...(intersection of Valley View & South Side--both hikes)

Option #3, next time:  Valley View, right on Red Beds Trail, Joyner Ridge Trail loop, return. (4.9 miles?)


http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/2385100355

Screenshots from MapMyRide of our hikes.  Click on the links to see more.

http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/2382945227

Reference links:


A good way to find hikes:  mapmyride.com


#FindYourPark @WyomingTourism #ThatsWY @WyoStateParks