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Wednesday, March 15, 2017: We got to sleep in a little in the morning. This was the beautiful view that greeted us at 7:30 AM.
By 8:40 AM, we were dressed, fed, and on deck.
The people who had opted for the long lava rock hike had already departed.
By the time we were ready to depart, the first groups of hikers were well on their way.
We headed to the boats at 9:00 AM.
Let's go!
Will was our naturalist this morning.
Handsome Leo, the resident guitar player, waited on shore for us.
Her's the view from Sullivan Bay looking back to Bartolome Island.
We were walking on a pahoehoe lava field.
Although this lava flow occurred in 1897, it looks like it might have cooled off just yesterday.
Traces of iron in the lava make this beautiful coloring.
Some parts of the lava rock are iridescent.
This is a pretty design.
There's so much to see in the lava.
Here is a hornito (little oven), formed by the lava.
Debbie decided to get a picture of one of the groups in the distance.
Let's zoom way in here. Hey, isn't that Frank on the left aiming his camera at us?
Yes, it was! Here's his photo of us.
This is a collapsed lava tube.
Look at the big crack in this rock and the tiny white cracks too.
Alex demonstrated the depth of this lava vent, ...
... then he photographed a lava lizard.
This very one, in fact.
Here is a lava cactus.
It's always nice to take a break and drink some water.
On our way back, Will stopped us to take a group photo, and one of the other naturalists stepped in as photographer ...
... so Will could be in our photo.
Will returned the favor for the other group.
This seemed like a good place to get a photo of Orchy.
Can you believe that used to be liquid rock?
Ladies and gentlemen, here's lovely Sullivan Bay.
This brown pelican stood watch over the bay.
Here are Bartolome Island and Pinnacle Rock, one of the more iconic scenes in the Galápagos. Watch for this scenery in the film, "Master and Commander: Far Side of the World," which was filmed right here.
Fresh juice and pastries awaited us as usual, ...
... plus we had a surprise waiting for us in our cabin.
We each received certificates commemorating our equator crossings of the previous two nights. Nice, huh?
Sangria, anyone? No, thanks.
What's this? Our quiet lunch at the Beagle Grill turned into a major barbecue event when lunch was served outdoors only instead of also in the restaurant.
We grabbed the best table and a waiter came by to serve us seafood soup.
Then we loaded up our plates with so much goodness: corn, empanadas, shrimp ceviche, plantain chips, potatoes, and lobster. For real! If we weren't so full, we could have gone back for more! This was one of the best lunches we've ever eaten in our lives.
Look at this gorgeous dessert buffet! Somehow, we made room for this too.
We were resting in our room around 2:00 when this showed up on our window.
A few minutes later, a firehose was rinsing it off, ...
... leaving behind a clear view of Bartolome Island and Pinnacle Rock.
At 3:00, it was time for our first afternoon excursion: a deep-water snorkel off of Pinnacle Rock.
It sure is pretty. Let's go there.
All aboard!
We were.
To our left was the hill we'd be hiking later on, ...
... straight ahead was a beach we wouldn't be landing on, ...
... and to our left was our destination.
In we go!
We saw a sea urchin.
As always, we saw a group of razor surgeonfish.
The scenery above water was just as good. We swam past several sleeping sea lions, ...
... and blue-footed boobies.
Tucked in a cove around Pinnacle Rock was a small penguin colony.
They posed nicely for us, ...
... and a couple of them swam right next to us.
We snorkeled further away from Pinnacle Rock. We were always under the watchful eyes of the zodiac drivers, plus naturalists were in the water with us.
This is pretty interesting, whatever it is.
Look! Teeny transparent fish!
Yep, that's a penguin. Apparently, this is the excursion where we snorkel with penguins.
Here's a sergeant major. Of course, he was surrounded by dozens of his friends, but this is our favorite picture of the bunch.
Here's a panamic fanged blenny with two rainbow wrasses. Those blennies were odd little things, always lying on a rock looking like their face was stuck to it.
Finally, here's a great shot of a razor surgeonfish.
Tom likes to snorkel, but that was a rookie mistake to smile underwater.
Here's a king angelfish with a rainbow wrasse.
There's probably something living in that shell.
Barnacles in the Galápagos are huge. They do not mess around with tiny barnacles here.
Again, the scenery above ground was just as interesting as the scenery below.
After 45 minutes in the water, it was time to come out, get back to the ship, ...
... rinse our gear, shower, and be back in line for our next excursion a half hour later.
Diego was our naturalist for our 4:30 hike.
We were one of only two groups who opted to climb to the top of the volcano on Bartolome Island.
The trail to the top consists of a boardwalk and 380 steps. The boardwalk minimizes the damage that tourists can do.
We passed what remained of a pelican and felt compelled to drink a little water.
The walk seemed like it was going to be brutal, but we took frequent stops to talk, rest, and enjoy the view, ...
... like this.
Here's a slope covered in tiquilia nesiotica, also known as gray matplant.
More resting and talking and hydrating ...
... and looking at scenery.
Here's another correctly-named lava cactus.
This hillside is decorated with collapsed lava tubes.
Sweet, life-giving shade, our ankles thank you.
Platforms along the way were perfect places to stop.
There we are!
This wasn't so much a platform as a T.
We passed around an impossibly-light chunk of lava rock ...
... and looked out to sea.
What's that out there? Those two little islands look familiar!
Yes, indeed, that's Daphne Major out there, with Daphne Minor off to the side.
Are we there yet?
Not quite. One last platform to visit before the final push to the top.
Here we go.
So close ... must make it ...
We did it! The first thing Debbie did was photograph another couple, ...
... then they returned the favor. We looked, but there was no cold beer under the orange thing.
Now, time to get our photos of this very famous view.
Here is Orchy at Sullivan Bay with Pinnacle Rock in the background.
Here's the view looking toward the southeast.
At 5:20, we headed back down, ...
... while Frank and Other Debbie were enjoying their time at the top and watching us go.
There's the boardwalk back down the hill.
Down is definitely faster!
There's always time to take a little wildlife break.
Tom wondered if you could tell which direction the lava lizard was traveling to make these tracks. Diego explained that the point at the end of the track is the direction the lizard was coming from, because its feet drag slightly with each step.
We passed the field of tiquilia again, ...
... and were back down in 20 minutes.
We had a few minutes to wait for our zodiac to pick us up, so we enjoyed the wind in our hair ...
... and watched a lava heron (also known as a Galápagos heron) nearby.
Back on the zodiac, ...
... back on the ship, back into the shower, and then back into dry clothes.
We rushed back upstairs for the wine and cheese tasting.
Plates of cheese samples had been set out, plus fruit, veggies, dip, crackers, and bread.
Look at the adorable mice made out of eggs!
Frank and Other Debbie joined us. This picture turned out blurry so this is the best we could do to sharpen it.
Time for Monica's nightly talk.
The map has more lines on it now.
We were headed to Santa Cruz Island in the morning, ...
... with a beach walk and swimming/snorkeling options.
In the afternoon, we had deep-water snorkeling, followed by either a long walk ...
... or a zodiac ride and short walk.
While this was going on, Tom snuck outside for a photo of the sunset, ...
... plus a photo of the water bottle-filling station, apple basket, cookie jar, ...
... and ever-present bar drinkers.
At dinner, we joined Dave & Margaret and Frank & Other Debbie. Tom had La Fritada (Ecuadorian fried pork ribs) and Debbie had the filet.
After dinner, Other Debbie had the brilliant idea to do the crossword puzzle challenge so we could get it turned in as early as possible.
She and Tom kept working on it in the lounge, then Debbie filled out the rest when they had finished all the things they could answer. We made a second copy of the answers (one for each couple) and turned them in.
Our evening's entertainment was a concert provided by the naturalists, ...

... followed by Dave and Other Debbie showing us how it's done on the dance floor.

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