Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lovely Showery Spring Day in Portland

After spending six weeks in southern Arizona, where the weather was turning hot, it was nice to get back home where the air is refreshing in the sprint rains. The flowers are blooming profusely and the cherry blossoms have never been more beautiful. %20cherry%20blossoms

On my walk, after picking up my Starbucks lattè, I was in awe of the gorgeous large pink flowers on the trees. Thank goodness for my trusty iPhone which assures I always have a good camera with me. The lady and her dog was a sweet happenstance of timing. 

Watch for more posts as I learn to make them using my iPad Mimi. 

That is it for now. 
Grace and Paul

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring in Green Valley, Arizona 2015 Then Portland

We have had a good time during our regular visit to Green Valley. Now that the cactus are starting to bloom and the temperature is into the 90s it is time to head for home.

Then back to lovely flowery and rainy Portland, Oregon.

Cholla cactus and early morning shasdowa.


This is my first test of posting using my iPad. Hope it works. 

All for now,
Grace and Paul

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Winter 2015 Activities

Publishing a Book and Photographing a Wedding
January and February, 2015

Paul served in the Peace Corps in Iran in the mid 1960s. Soon after he returned he wrote about his experiences during the two years. Recently he went back to the original manuscript, which was on our website for a while, to re-edit the text. Paul had taken a lot of pictures during his stay using an old Argus 35mm camera with a 50mm lens and Kodachrome ASA 10 slide film. At one point he scanned the slides, but didn't do a very good job. Enter Grace. She worked over all the pictures, doing marvelous things to them using Lightroom. She also learned how to use the Blurb Plug-In for Adobe InDesign to create a customized book. This has been large project and we are both happy we completed it. The book can be viewed online, in its entirety at:

Grace was asked to be the wedding photographer for one of Paul's cousins on Valentines Day. Since she had never done this kind of photography, she studied, listened to tutorial, got some extra photo gear, and practiced. Paul was also the co-photographer, and covered different aspects of the two day event. We covered the rehearsal, dinner, getting ready for the wedding, the actual ceremony and the reception. It was a beautiful wedding which blended the American traditional and aspects of the Fiji Hindu traditions. After Grace developed the photos using Adobe Lightroom she posted some of them on line at Then she completed a lovely wedding album for the bride and groom: This is open for viewing at:

After these two big events, Grace and Paul left for Arizona for some R&R for a few week.

Stay tuned for more adventures with the Pitzers.

That's it for now. Grace and Paul

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wild Encounters from Borneo to Bali - 7

September 27 - 28, 2014
Day At Sea and Bali
Last Day At Sea on the National Geographic Orion

September 27 was a day at sea filled with some interesting lectures and final packing. There was also final photo editing, as my pictures had to be turned in by 2:00. Do you have any idea how difficult it was to narrow down several thousand to my most interesting five? I actually threw in some fun people pictures as well.

The day ended with the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party in the lounge and then dinner.

September 28, disembarkation day, finally arrived. Since we had a 1:00 flight out of Denpasar, Bali we were in one of the earlier groups to leave the ship to go directly to the airport. It was hard to say good-bye to new friends and some we had traveled with before. This had been a fun trip and a relaxing chance to become acquainted with Lindblad’s latest ship, the National Geographic Orion. We hope to be aboard her another time.
Paul has disembarked in Bali.

The flights home were long, but uneventful: Denpasar, Bali to Singapore; Singapore to San Francisco via Hong Kong. As the flight didn’t arrive in San Francisco until after 9:30 pm, we had arranged to spend the night and fly on home to Portland the next day. It was actually refreshing to arrive home to cool and damp weather since we had been in such a hot and humid climate for the whole trip.

That is all until our next trip. There always seem to be plans for something else, so keep checking for our next post, next year.
That's it for now. Grace and Paul

Wild Encounters from Borneo to Bali - 6

September 26, 2014
Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine
Greeters on way to bus

This morning we were assigned to go to the Care Center in the morning. It was a short bus ride from the ship and near the town of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. This Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility was created to take care of confiscated ex-captive orangutans.  Eventually they added orphans whose mothers had been killed by the Palm Oil developers. They currently have 340 orangutan orphans that are being raised with the end goal of releasing them to the wild. The center has modern facilities to diagnose and treat problems.

After a tour of the main treatment center we were divided into three groups. Since orangutans are susceptible to the same kinds of germs and diseases as humans, we all wore surgical masks when visiting each area. We were not allowed to take anything in with us, including cameras. Hence, we took no photos of this part of the trip. (Sorry) Most of us even removed our glasses and took everything out of our pockets as the young orangutans are prone to grabbing almost anything. The orangutans are divided into three age groups and taken into different areas to play and learn how to get along in the wild. Our first stop was in a play area for the young ones, up to about age three. They had quite a gymnastics setup to help them learn how to swing through the branches of trees. I think all of us got to hold at least one of them.

The second group we visited was the older juveniles. We walked out along a boardwalk and each orangutan was out with a handler. Some walked along with us and others were up in trees. They were all carefully watched over. 

Grace and Dr. Birute Galdikas
The last group was between ages 4-6+ and they loved to have people play with them. One unexpectedly descended onto my back and gave me a big hug. I have to say that was another highlight of the trip. He/she held on for quite a while then climbed back onto the play equipment. This was when I experienced the texture of orangutans’ hair. It is very wiry and coarse. Unlike other primates, orangutans do not groom each other, so their long hair is just as they each keep it.

That afternoon we had a chance to go back into town to look around and attend a cultural show, but we both opted out. This was the first thing on the whole trip we did not attend. I was busy editing photos so as to have some to share for the group slideshow the next day.

For dinner that night we had a special invitation to dine with Jack and Rikki Swenson out on the back deck. It is always fun to spend some extra time with them; even after all the years we have been traveling together.

That's it for now. Grace and Paul

Wild Encounters from Borneo to Bali - 5

September 25, 2014
Tanjung Puting National Park & Camp Leakey

Finally, the long awaited day arrived; our visit to Camp Leakey to see orangutans. The ship docked near Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan in the southwest part of Borneo. 

We started loading all 13 Zodiacs at 7:30 for a two-hour-long ride up the Sungai Sekonyer River. Along the way we began seeing some orangutans and proboscis monkeys in the trees.

At the first landing we disembarked and walked about a mile on a wooden boardwalk to the first feeding station. The handlers brought big baskets of bananas, grapefruit and sugar cane. Then they poured milk into two bowls. 

Deep in the jungle workers began a loud mournful call signaling the orangutans that the food was ready. Soon a female orangutan came with her tiny baby clinging to her back. The pair enjoyed drinking some milk then sauntered over to eat a few bananas before leaving the platform and heading for the forest.

When no more orangutans came, we left for the long walk back to the landing. We boarded Klotoks - the double deck wooden boats that provide the main form of transportation along the river. We were about six per boat as we headed slowly two more hours further up the river to Camp Leakey.
 Dr. Biruté Galdikas, who dedicated it to the study of orangutans, founded Camp Leakey in 1971. She had been traveling with us on the NG Orion and this was a “home coming” for her. From the landing we had another long walk to the camp and the feeding station. Since Camp Leakey was open to the public, there was a seating area from which to watch the platform. 

Again, the workers brought big baskets of bananas, grapefruit and sugar cane sticks and poured milk into big bowls.  Again, in the jungle, began the loud “come to dinner” calls. Soon a mother and adolescent youngster came to eat a little and drink some milk. 

Right after they left the platform “Tom,” a big male, climbed onto the platform. He was magnificent and huge. He is well known to the workers and Dr. Galdikas had hoped he would show up. Since fruit and grubs were plentiful in the forest, not many orangutans came, but those that did gave us a good opportunity to observe and photograph them in the wild.

Eventually the mother and older baby came back and there was an amusing interaction between them and Tom over a bowl of milk. First the young one took one can and drank from it as did its mother. Then Tom slowly reached over and took the milk can back. He clearly was showing his dominance.

During the hour that we watched, the orangutans came and left several times. Each time provided some interesting interactions.

Soon some of us were guided over to Dr. Galdikas’s house where she sat on the porch visiting with members of our group. Sitting slightly behind her, loving hand on the Doctor’s shoulder, was Siswi. When Dr. Galdikas founded Camp Leakey in 1971 it was in the middle of Siswi’s mother’s habitat. So Dr. Galdikas had known Siswi since she was born, 40 years ago. The obvious bond between the two of them was precious. Although Siswi is wild, she came to spend time with Dr. Galdikas and was even tender with others who came to sit and visit. I have to say that observing this interaction was a highlight of the trip.

After a reasonable stay at the camp we walked along the path back to the landing where the Klotoks waited for us. There was a real traffic jam with so many boats in such a narrow river. Eventually we were on our boat, second to leave, heading slowly back down the river for a four-hour-long cruise all the way to the Orion.
Proboscus Monkeys

Klotok Cruise back to ship
Along the way we saw many proboscis monkeys, most of them already high in the trees bedded down for the night.  And here and there we captured pictures of a few more orangutans. Once we were underway we were served snacks and soft drinks to help last us until we re-boarded the ship for dinner.

We were treated to a lovely sunset as we cruised along, finishing the journey in the dark. The Klotoks took us all the way across the large river and quickly each tied up to the side of the ship to let us off before moving out of the way. All in all, it was a very full, eventful and enlightening day. Dinner was on the back deck as soon as we were back.

That's it for now. Grace and Paul

Wild Encounters from Borneo to Bali - 4

September 21 - 24, 2014
Kuching and Bako National Park, East Malaysia, West Borneo
Two Days At Sea

September 21 we arrived on the island of Borneo at Kuching. Borneo is occupied by three countries: a slim section in the northern part belongs to Malaysia, a little hunk of that is the country of Brunei, and the rest of the island belongs to Indonesia. Kuching is the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.

In the morning we took a bus into town and around a bit. Since we didn’t exchange any money, we didn’t buy anything. We walked along the nice waterfront and browsed through some of the shops. Some people found some interesting things to purchase.

After lunch on the ship we took the city tour. One quick stop was at the Cat Monument, since the name Kuching means cat. The other stop was at the Sarawak Museum. It had some interesting things but was in bad need of renovation.

Dancers on the ship
Back aboard we had the usual recap and briefing, and then we all went out to the back deck for a Cultural performance by local dancers. They were very good and everyone enjoyed the show.

September 22 found us at Bako National Park. In the morning we took the Zodiacs along the steep cliffs to a sandy beach landing. The hike was actually a climb up a long flight of rickety stairs to an ocean overlook. Along the way we saw a several species of carnivorous pitcher plants.
Carnivorous Pitcher Plant

In the afternoon we landed on a larger sandy beach near the park headquarters. There we encountered our first primates. After seeing the viper in the bushes we spotted a number families of Macaque Monkeys. They were doing the usual grooming and a mother was nursing a small baby. One had found a can of Coke and used a number of methods to drink it all. 

Next came the Proboscis Monkeys playing up in the trees. They are large and have very prominent noses, as their name suggests. These are very unusual monkeys.

September 23 – 24 were days at sea in the Java Sea. Time was filled with a number of interesting lectures. They included Brian Skerry, the National Geographic Photographer; Dr. Lawrence Blare, the Global Perspectives guest speaker; Dr. Birute Galdikas, founder of Camp Leakey and an orangutan researcher; Tom Ritchie, naturalist; and Jack and Rikki Swenson, photo instructors. All were very interesting and informative.
Eating on the back deck

The weather continued warm and humid. Since the Java Sea was so shallow, we did not see any interesting sea life or mammals, as we are used to seeing. It was also a good time to get caught up on photo editing.

That's it for now. Grace and Paul