Eleuthera, It’s not for everyone

Eleuthera, Bahamas

Seems an odd tourist slogan, I’m not sure if it is official but I did see it peppered around the island back in May during our visit. While Eleuthera is a part of the Bahamas, it seems a world away from any vision of a Bahamas vacation I had ever seen. I believe there are only 2 actual resorts on the island, most people seem to opt for rental houses, which is what we did.

As a quick note I would say a few things to anyone thinking about visiting; If you plan on doing any exploring you will need to rent a car (don’t forget: “keep left, die right”), it might be a good idea to bring some food (especially if you are particular or sensitive)—restaurant open/closing times are a loose estimate of what may happen, on a few occasions a 20 min drive left us in front of a closed restaurant (after having been advised they were open on such-and-such a day/time). After a few days, I could see what they meant by ‘it’s not for everyone’ you definitely have to have a bit of adventure in your heart. The other must haves: sunscreen, bug spray, snorkel and mask, bottled water and sunglasses.

During our visit in mid-May, it had been a bit cooler then usual and the breeze across the water made it a little chilly to swim on some days (but with the beaches all to ourselves that did little to stop us.) The most noticeable adjustment upon return was having to wear pants, I’m pretty sure I was a bathing suit or cover-up for the duration of the trip.

Shown above (clockwise); The plane ride in, Gaulding Cay Beach, The Queen’s Bath, Surfer’s Beach, Coffee/Lunch shop in Governor’s Harbour, and the cove our cottage overlooked in Gregory Town.

The Lost River Paintings

15 pages= 15 paintings

I had a grand idea–purchase a pad of watercolor paper, 15 sheets=15 paintings (in 3 days). I forgot to take into account a few key things including-I haven’t painted in gouache (ever, my watercolor skills were average at best) which was to be my medium, and these 3 days (visiting Lost River, WV) were also to include relaxing, ice cream after lunch, mid-day naps, and long walks with George and Gus.

I ended up with 3 paintings (plenty of walks, ice cream and one mid-day nap), and the way the first one started out I am pretty satisfied I got through 3. I tried the first two without any pencil sketching and the first was very much just a warm up, the last (I’m not sure it would be considered plein air, maybe just a still life?) was a painted from two dead bees which were found dead in the sink drain and I decided to do a little pencil sketch first.

Lost River Echinacea

Lost River Farm Shed

Lost RIver Bees

I left my heart in Lost River

Having grown up on Long Island, it wasn’t until I traveled cross country, through Colorado, that I can remember really experiencing being surrounded by mountains. For me, it was a comforting feeling. And I felt that same sense of comfort and calm as we drove into West Virginia to Lost River.

Lost River Cornfield

Lost River Farmhouse Muffins

Lost River George Washington National Forest

Lost River Deer Mandible

Lost River Farmhouse

Lost River

From the top down: 1. The site of my failed plein air painting, the perspective proved too much for my rusty skills. As we were driving to the farmhouse, we caught NPR’s Science Friday, they were discussing the book club book of the week—Flatland, which in retrospect was very fitting. I will be posting the few paintings I was able to get through—I’m thinking there may be a woodcut in the works, the geometry of the cornfield is still calling to me. 2. Morning muffins, although we were never able to connect with the caretaker of the farmhouse we were renting, we were greeted in the morning by a basket of delicious muffins—thank you. 3. A short walk toward the George Washington National Forest and we came upon a stream. If the weather had been warmer I would have dared to dip my toes, Gus on the other hand did not hesitate and trotted right in. 4. Deer mandible, the coloring of the teeth was beautiful. If I new anything about cleaning bones I would have made a necklace. 5. The farmhouse, charmed. 6. The Valley, as we drove away we had to stop to steal one last look.

And lets not forget about food—The Lost River General Store had a nice selection of lunch items, tasty ice cream, and pretty large selection of beer. The proprietors were very nice and introduced Gus to their pup–who looked a lot like our guy. For dinner (both nights) we ate at the Lost River Grill–wood paneled walls and super friendly service, the country fried steak was so good that George was still talking about it after we got back to Baltimore. If you still have room after dinner (the first night I had the meatloaf and could barely get dessert in, although it didn’t stop me from trying) go for dessert. The second night I left some space and got the ice cream sundae cheesecake–cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust, fudge (top and bottom) whipped cream and a cherry. Seriously, don’t forget to leave room for dessert (they also have fresh baked pies, the cherry is worth a stop.)

Un-routine routines

On the weekends George and I have the pleasure of accompanying Gus to the park (Patterson Park, Baltimore MD) for a morning walk. We used to vary our route and let Gus lead us around to where he would like to go. Recently we have been circling the duck pond, and have been pleasantly surprised with the diversity of birds. There are always mallards, seagulls, robins, house sparrows, and typically turtles sunning themselves. For a long stretch there was a great blue heron that would stand by the cattails, but for the last few months (possibly longer) he/she has been absent. A few wigeons had been hanging around and we’ve also seen cormorants and coots.

Two weeks ago I thought I saw something in some low branches, George assured me it was just some trash, but I was not convinced. I inched forward and about 6 or so feet away, the trash spread it’s wings and flew away. Not totally sure what it was, but based on the coloring and the return of a (seemingly young) great blue heron this week, it could have been the great blue or possibly a smaller (green?) heron.

On this particular walk a black duck caught my eye (below on the right). I’ve been tricked many times in the past since they look so similar to mallard hens, but this one was much darker and a bit more gray then the mallard hens around, so it may have been a black duck.

Black Duck at Patterson Park duck pond

There was also this silly white (domestic) duck that let me get very close. My camera is a cast-off from my mom and its digital zoom is pretty close to not worth using so I often start shooting from far away and inch closer and closer to see when whatever I am shooting has had enough of my intrusion and flies or runs away–I should really get a better camera.

Domestic Duck at Patterson Park duck pond

And the tour de force: the great blue heron. We turned the far corner of the pond and looking back we could see the heron. I was tempted to run back around but decided to get a shot from afar and let him/her be.

Great Blue Heron at Patterson Park duck pond

I’m planning on doing some woodcuts of ducks and have been snapping photos in the hopes of getting some nice groupings. This time around I got a nice set of mallard drakes before they swam away, but I’ll hold onto that one for another time.