Hanging Towel Monkey with Open Mouth

How To Fold a Towel Monkey

how to fold a towel monkey

hanging towel monkey with open mouth

Supplies Needed for Hanging Towel Monkey

1 bath towel          1 hand towel           decorations           hangings

How to Fold a Hanging Towel Monkey Body

towel art

roll one side of the bath towel to the center from the short end

The hanging towel monkey uses the standard towel animal body.  Lay bath towel flat and roll both ends to the center from the short sides.

towel art

roll the other end to the center for two equal rolls

Fold rolled towel in half with the rolls to the outside.  Pull the tip out of the center of each roll.

towel animal folding instructions

make sure to pull the tips out far enough that you can hold onto them

With one hand holding the tips from both ends of one roll, and the other hand holding the tips of both ends of the other roll, pull tips of all 4 rolls until rolls pull into legs of towel animal body.

directions on towel animal folding

get a good hold on the tips with each hand on both ends of one roll

If you lack the hand strength to pull the whole thing at once, pull as much as you can to get it started and then use one hand on each end of the same roll to pull one side at a time.

towel creations

when the rolls are pulled far enough the towel looks like an animal body

To hang the monkey, either use two clothespins to pin the arms to a hanger, or tie a string around the ends of both arms and hang it over a curtain rod, hook, or whatever is available to tie it to.

creative towel folding

the body has to hang before adding the head because the arms keep the head in place

How To Fold An Open-Mouthed Monkey Head

hanging towel monkey

Fold a towel in half across the short side.

Fold the hand towel in half across the short side.

how to make towel animals

Make the second fold so that the open edges are at the top of the towel.  Open edges here are both at the top of the photo and sitting on the top of the folded towel.  The open edges will be upper lips,  If the open edges are on the underside of the towel at this point they come out as lower lips.

Fold in half again.  You have several options depending on how you want the finished monkey head to look.  The open edges on the short end will always be where you fold your triangle points.  If they are on the top side of the towel, they will be the top lips on the finished head.  If they are on the bottom side of the towel, they will end up as the bottom lips.  Then you can decide if you want to open the mouth between the two open edges so that the towel hem makes a lip, or for a wider open mouth you can leave those edges together and open between folds so one lip is both open ends together and the other is a folded edge .

making a towel monkey

The open edges are folded across the towel in this triangle.  Because they were on top before folding the triangles, they will end up as upper lips when this head is done.

Fold one side over from center to form a triangle.

towel monkey head

The open edges now face each other in the center.  They are now under folded edges and will come out as upper lips.

towel monkey options

Here the open edges started out on the underside of the towel so are now on top. They will end up as lower lips.

Fold the other side over from center to form a second triangle.

now for the tricky part

fold the top triangles to the back, away from each other so the open edges that were at the center are on the outside once the two smaller triangles are folded together

the art of making towel animals

Folded into a small triangle with open edges on the outside.  This one will have the open edges as lower lips.

Fold the two triangles into one with the back sides together and the open ends on the outside of the center fold.

origami towel folding

Fold down the corners of the loose ends of both sides of the triangle so there are no points sticking up.

towel monkey head

the head does not hold its shape on its own, but the monkey’s arms will hold it together once it gets tucked between them

Fold down corners on both sides of triangle.

folding a towel monkey like on a cruise ship

you can open the mouth between the open ends so the towel edges look like lips whether they are on the top or on the bottom like this one

Open folds at rounded end to create mouth.

smiling monkey

mouth opened between the open ends

towel monkey mouth choiced

mouth with open ends as lower lip opened between folds with open ends together

towel monkey mouth

mouth with open ends as upper lip and folded edge as lower lip

how to make a towel monkey

mouth with open edges as upper lips, but opened between the layers on the open end

Use felt or red paper to make a tongue that highlights the open mouth.

hanging towel monkey

add a tongue and eyes and place head between the monkey’s arms

 Finishing the Hanging Towel Monkey

making a towel monkey

head tucked into the arms

Tuck head between raised arms of hanging body.   Add eyes (googly eyes, or eyes made of paper or felt) or sunglasses.  Add any other decorations desired, such as the pom pom nose on this monkey.  Adjust body and legs to keep center as closed as possible.

how to fold cruise ship towel animals

finished towel monkey

For a completely different option on how to make the head for an open-mouthed towel monkey, check out this video with Bagus from MSC Divina, who has his own way to make a towel monkey with an open mouth.

For instructions on how to fold all sorts of other towel animals, please visit My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014


Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A Very British Cruise on P and O

This is a guest blog from Paul Symonds, who writes a blog about Wayfinding with helpful hints on how to get around in your travels such as this post about navigating yourself around a cruise ship.

cruise ship

P&O Arcadia

A Very British Cruise Experience – Onboard with P&O

This was my fourth cruise and also my first cruise without a flight, hence this was always going to be an opportunity to get a very different cruise experience, from other cruise trips I had done before.  Cruising the Caribbean last year, having to be de-iced (the airplane that is) as we sat on the tarmac,  as the snow poured down at Heathrow Airport, London, we were already stressed. The threat of a cancelled flight and what would have been a ruined cruise, were looking likely at the time. Despite the cancellation of many flights that day, we did make it to Miami and somehow we were onboard for the 4 days cruise around the Caribbean with NCL cruises (before we would then spend a week in the Fort Lauderdale area – city I love.

Two years before that and a similarly stressful start the cruise from Venice, Italy, involved trying to get our bags across the city, whilst trying to understand the boat timetables (and my wife is Italian) and then to deal with the chaos that ensued in the baggage drop off area for the cruise (this was also an NCL cruise). It was after those two cruises that we decided that we would have to try a cruise only. No flights, no luggage limits, no having to carry luggage and no airports. We also wanted to experience a cruise where tipping did not become something that would seem stressful.

Agreeing to the standard tips per person per day for the cruise staff in the cost we paid before the cruise, and then finding tips added onto the drinks and then with a line for a tip on top of the tips, to add more on if we wished. it’s too much. Having already tipped, it seemed quite dispiriting also for staff on some cruises who seemed to expect tips. Nothing could defeat our love of cruising but we knew that there had to be a better way and even greater experience.

 The dilemma when traveling from the UK on a cruise is that if you want to do so without any flight, you will often have to spend 2 days on the boat until you hit warmer weather. Unless you are lucky, you might start the first few days of your cruise enjoying cloudy weather, as you leave Southampton Port. Furthermore, if you are cruising down to the Canary Islands or down the coast of Portugal and Spain, you have to sail through the often dreaded Bay of Biscay, a place where the seas can be particularly rough. Apart from avoiding flights, experiencing a more British cruise (to avoid issues such as triple tipping) and to avoid the man-made and sterile Caribbean excursion on cruise line owned islands (such as Great Stirrup Cay) and which are very inauthentic, was the key plan. I just love ports which are real places and even if they are touristy (we are all tourists), I love to see real locals in these places.

things to do on a cruise ship

fun and games on board

The P&O Experience

With my reasons for trying a P&O cruise from Southampton, England, now let me tell you about the trip.  The beauty of a no-fly cruise is as you can imagine, the chance to drive directly to the port. In order to avoid traffic and confusion in the port itself though, we booked for a space in one of the car parks which are on the outskirts of the city and which come with an organised mini-bus to the boat, with the car parking area in a secured area. We took the bags out of the boot of our car and they were put straight into the back of the mini-bus and the next time we touched them was in the cabin of the cruise boat! Bliss! So easy!

This particular cruise was an adults only one – meaning no children and it soon became clear as soon as we boarded, that the combination of P&O and no children, means a quite old age range on a P&O cruise. Some of the passengers checking in looked as though they might be lucky to survive the 10 days cruise. After a smooth check-in and soon onboard, we immediately felt at home. For British travelers having a kettle and tea-bags in the cabin, decent and proper tea bags in the buffet areas, for a nice cuppa, are essential basics, along with a decent pub on the boat, which the Arcadia has.

Port Parties

cruise ship party

Sail Away Party

The cruise got off to a flying start and did at every port we left on the trip, with what P&O term a ‘Sail Away’ party. Union jack flags everywhere, staff doing a number of dance and singing routines to old classics from the war years, on the top deck. Not my cup of tea but as the champagne flowed and with a good atmosphere, the Sail Away parties are certainly are an experience, and immediately the experience felt a relaxed one.

 The Room

Having tried outside cabins on previous cruises and realising that we rarely got to look out of the cabin window because we were rarely in the room, except to change, to sleep or during the hours when it was dark outside anyway. Add onto that the fact that you can put your television on, you can see the view from the front of the boat, as though your TV were a port window, we decided an inside cabin would be fine. I can honestly say that the only real difference to our holiday in terms of inside or outside cabin was that we saved a few hundred pounds in the cruise cost!

 No Tipping Problems

The difference between cruises in locations such as the Caribbean which are heavily influenced by American cruisers, and Europe, such as on a P&O cruise (in Europe or wherever they travel given that P&O do world cruises) from the moment we got on the boat, was clear. USA is my favourite country to travel and NYC my favourite place worldwide and I spent 3 years travelling USA and thus have an affinity with America. On cruise ships though I found that issues surrounding tipping is too much for many of us European travellers, who like to relax whilst on holiday and not to be constantly pressured to give away money for the most basic task. Buy a beer from the pub onboard and there was no triple tipping expected and prices for a decent pint of beer (which not possible on the other cruises) was possible. The staff also looked much more relaxed i.e. with the worry of trying to allure customers into tipping. In fact it seems as though P&O give a small percentage of sales to staff and this works better for everyone involved.

 A Unique Cultural experience

cruise ship afternoon tea

afternoon tea on the P&O Arcadia

Certain elements of this very British cruise made the experience certainly more memorable and a far more interesting and fun experience than every other cruise we had been on, and this is even after factoring in the no-flight aspect. Afternoon tea with cream scones, pots of tea and an array of cakes and sandwiches, all made in the way you would expect if you were in the Dorchester Hotel, London, Decent beer, live Premiership football and Sail Away parties. What a fantastic cruise! P&O do have a very loyal following and they may or might not be to your liking. You might want to try though.

Paul mentions taking a no-fly cruise by cruising from a port near you, which does save time and money from flying to the starting port.  I have tried that a few times, with shuttles to the port in Seattle and driving to Vancouver BC.  The shuttles worked out well, but we did have a bit of a hitch in Vancouver (our own fault though.)  We could have used some wayfinding assistance on that one!

Posted in Europe, Guest Blogs | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Walking Tour of Willemstad, Curacao

cruise ship at the dock

Divina in Curacao

On a day that could turn from sun to rain and back in the blink of an eye, our shore excursion from the Divina of MSC Cruises in Curacao included a walking tour of nearby Willemstad after a visit to Hato Caves.  We had the free garbage bag-like rain ponchos from the ship this time, but they turned out to be more trouble than they were worth on this particular day.  Once removed from the packet they don’t fold up that small again, and by the time we decided we might need them and put them on the rain pretty well stopped.

Willemstad, Curacao

tour guide with the lollipop sign

Our guide for the walking tour, a Curacao native of Dutch descent, held up a “lollipop” sign with the number 4 while waiting for passengers to disembark.  At times along the journey she would hold this sign above her head to keep the group from getting lost in a crowd…or perhaps to discourage people from wandering off on their own or giving them a way back if they did.

historical buildings

it used to be a synagogue, but now is judge’s chambers

First we saw what appeared to be a church, but it is now the judges chambers for the adjoining courthouse.  It once housed a synagogue used when the Jewish population split into two factions, but they eventually rejoined.

row of colorful buildings

buildings in Curacao

Willemstad has numerous brightly colored buildings.  The old buildings are made of coral and sea sand so paint does not stick well because of the salt.  They constantly peel and need repainting often to stay looking nice.

cruise ship in Curacao

Holland America Maasdam and a local fishing

We couldn’t miss the Holland America ship Massdam dominating the waterfront view, docked in St. Anna Bay near the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.  The much larger Divina we came on docked outside of the bay at a nearby cruise ship dock.


the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the western hemisphere

We passed the oldest Synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, which is also a museum.   Many Spanish and Portuguese Jews fled to Curacao in the mid 1600’s following the Spanish Inquisition.

floating market

backside of the floating market

Our tour took us by the floating market where vendors from Venezuela set up a row of stalls by their small boats and sell fresh fruits and vegetables to the people of Willemstad.  Farming has historically never been profitable in Curacao’s arid soil.  Their current water supply comes from desalinization, so the water is quite expensive.  Rather than agriculture or even tourism, the island’s economy is based on oil.

fresh produce for sail right off the boats

vendor’s stalls at the floating market

We passed a number of street vendors around Willemstad, all seemed quite friendly and none aggressive like they are in some ports.

street vendor

street vendor in Willemstad, Curacao

On your own in Curacao -The town of Willemstad is just a short walk from the cruise ship dock.  Well for us it was.  The smaller Holland America ship Maasdam docked right in the center of town.

On the way back to the ship we saw a guy with a sign for Island tours. For $15 the 2-hour tour covers all the island highlights.

Right off the ship we found a booth selling all sorts of local jewelry made out of everything from pearls to corals to a variety of shells. We did not see anything nicer in town, though one booth near the pontoon bridge did have a small selection of larimar necklaces.

 copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Quick Stop in Victoria

Port Stop in Victoria

cruise ship docked in Victoria

Westerdam in Victoria

From Ketchikan to Victoria, the Westerdam raced against a Princess boat that left about the same time.   Apparently whoever arrives first gets through customs first and the other ship has to wait. I’m not sure whether we beat them or not because by the time we got off the ship both ships had long since docked, along with a ship from Norwegian.  Victoria night was the only time we could work in dinner at the Pinnacle grill, which meant we were eating when the ship docked, but it was a meal too good to miss.

all lit up and it's not Christmas

Parliament buildings with lights

Most of the family opted to stay on the ship at Victoria, the majority of them having seen it before. A couple of them who did not have dinner with us went right away when the ship docked.  My aunt, sister, and I went when we finished our dinner.

Canadian otter sea planes

Seaplanes fly tourists in and out of Victoria daily

Victoria has enough tourist business that even three ships at the dock really makes no difference.  Everything in town closed at its normal time meaning we had not much left to see. The ships dock a considerable distance from town.  Shuttles and taxis lined up to take passengers in, along with the horse-drawn tally-ho. Once in town we saw lots of small horse carriages, but the larger tally-ho never ventured far up the main street so I never got a chance to get a photo.

MV Coho from Black Ball Ferry Line

Black Ball Ferry docked in Victoria’s inner harbour

I don’t know what the tally-ho charged for the ride into town, but between shuttles and taxis, the taxi charged for the three of us about what the shuttle would have charged each person.

Empress Hotel

Empress Hotel photo taken from Victoria Harbour Ferry

We looked through a tea shop at the Empress Hotel, tea there being one of the things Victoria is most famous for. Not much else was open, but we did get to see the parliament building all lit up since it got dark before we went back to the ship.

Victoria Clipper

Victoria Clipper in the Ballard Locks in Seattle

If you want to see more of Victoria than the quick glimpse an evening cruise ship stop offers, it’s pretty easy to get there from Seattle. The Victoria Clipper sails daily from Seattle to Victoria. For faster transportation, seaplanes also fly frequently between Seattle and Victoria. From the Olympic Peninsula, the Black Ball Ferry makes daily trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to Victoria. Any of those methods of transportation are good for a day trip there.  For longer stays Victoria has plenty of hotels.  Americans arriving in British Columbia, Canada by boat or ground transportation from Washington State just need either a passport card or enhanced driver’s license, although passports are always an option.  Taking the plane requires a passport for everyone.

Posted in Holland America, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hood Canal Bridge

Un-Cruise Adventures ship the Wilderness Adventurer

Wilderness Adventurer in Hood Canal on a foggy, rainy day

When the Wilderness Adventurer headed to Hoodsport as the first stop of the Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal cruise, I had hoped to have a chance to see the Hood Canal Bridge from a boat’s point of view.  It’s a pretty interesting bridge.

Hood Canal Bridge

Hood Canal Bridge looking west from the Kitsap Peninsula side

Most draw bridges lift upward to let boats pass through.  A few turn sideways to make an opening.  In a rather unique fashion, the Hood Canal bridge does neither.  It withdraws part of the bridge into itself, underneath the other layer.

I found a brief video on the state DOT site, which is definitely worth the 15 seconds or so it takes to watch it.  Unfortunately they have no embed code so the best I could do is this link:

Hood Canal bridge opens

It shows the bridge raising up and the road sliding under.

Hood Canal Bridge

Hood Canal bridge looking east from the Olympic Peninsula side

When boats go through, the first cars in line stop on the bridge.  I’ve never been close enough to the front of the line to get out and see if you could see anything when the bridge opens though.  Just close enough to see the boat approach on one side of the bridge and disappear behind the waiting cars and then emerge on the other.  You wouldn’t get to see the bridge move from the boat since it opens before the boat gets there, but could still see what the bridge looks like from water level while passing through.  It’s usually around a 20 minute wait for the cars.  When hurrying to any of the ferry docks on the other side waiting for the bridge can mean missing your intended ferry and taking a later boat.

navy sub at hood canal bridge

Navy sub USS Ohio crossing through the Hood Canal Bridge, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When a navy submarine transits the canal, no bridge travelers see it go through.  Police guard both ends and stop all cars before they get to the bridge.  Even if you are stopped near enough to the bridge to walk to it, nobody is allowed on it or close enough to it to see anything.  For some reason the submarines always go through on the surface instead of silently slipping through in the depths of the water where nobody would ever know they were there.  Waiting for a sub to go through takes a long time. The time I got stopped for one it took at least an hour.

Funny how when a bridge is open it is closed and when it is closed it is open.  At least from the point of view of anyone traveling in a car.

While on the Wilderness Adventurer we saw a sub on the surface in the distance, probably headed to the canal since they have a base there.  From a distance is all anyone sees it though.  It had an escort of navy boats that keep curious onlookers away.

Unfortunately we passed through the Hood Canal Bridge in the middle of the night in both directions on the Wilderness Adventurer, so only the captain (or whomever was at the helm) and possibly night shift crew had an opportunity to see anything, if indeed they could see it in the dark.

The Hood Canal Bridge opened in 1961 as the world’s first floating bridge over salt water, to some controversy as to whether the design could hold up to the tides and storms sure to batter the 3rd longest bridge on the planet.

sinking bridge

hood canal bridge collapsed in a storm in 1979

Proving their worries, the western pontoons sank in a severe 1979 storm.  It took until 1982 to rebuild, a sturdier bridge this time with newer technology and stronger anchors.  The state had to open an old ferry run that had closed when the bridge first opened to keep traffic flowing for the several years it took to rebuild.  From 2003 to 2009 the eastern half got rebuilt so now the entire bridge has better technology and sturdier anchorage than the original.  Its actual name is the William A. Bugge Bridge, but if anyone called it that nobody would have a clue which bridge they meant.  Other than picturing the bridge crawling with bugs named William, the name is not likely to stick in anyone’s brain.

Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Memoirs of a Cruise Ship Doctor Part 2 – Crew Problems

cruise ship doctor on a shore excursion

Dr. Len Kreisler and workers at Taku lodge, Alaska

Part of a cruise ship doctor’s duties involve taking care of the ship’s crew.  Likely they need the doctor more than most passengers since they live on board for many months at a time working long hours every day.

In excerpts from the book ROLL THE DICE, PICK A DOC AND HOPE FOR THE BEST, we can read about Dr. Len Kreisler’s experiences as a cruise ship doctor from the chapter What Ship, What Cabin, and Doctor Who?  He spent four years working for a small independent cruise line called Regent Lines, which ran five 1960’s vintage ships and went bankrupt in 1995.

a lifetime of doctor memories in a book

Dr. Len Kreisler’s book

Passengers would be amazed by the contrasting living conditions of the crew.  The newer ships are much better than the older ships.  I made a crew cabin call on one of my 60’s vintage Regent ships where I walked past laundry hanging in the alleyway, bulkheads in desperate need of paint and gross overcrowding.  It looked like photos from a New York East Side tenement building in the early 1900’s.  A deckhand was recovering from Chickenpox.  Four crewmen shared a 150 square foot cabin with two bi-level bunks.

Another time, on an Alaskan run out of Vancouver, I wandered into the crew’s galley.  They were very surprised and pleased to have the doctor, in his white jacket and scrub suit, grace them with his presence.  It apparently was the first time a ship’s doctor had taken time to visit their work and living areas.  A good share of their food was ethnic.  Lots of rice and beans, deep fried everything, dried fish, high calorie staples with liberal quantities of hot sauces and spices.  I took a peek into a huge pot on a large stove.  Salmon fish heads were bubbling in some sort of vegetable stew.

“Where’s the rest of the salmon,” I asked the head chef.

“On the passenger tables, not here,” smiled the Filipino galley veteran.

The crew doesn’t starve, but they certainly don’t eat from the top of the menu.

They don’t seem to mind that.  When sailing with my son and his Filipina wife our Filipino waiter made special arrangements to serve our table a Filipino dinner from the crew galley one night as a special treat for her.  On another ship that did not serve the crew ethnic food our steward said at port stops the crew frequent Chinese restaurants where they can find food spicy enough for their liking.  Back to Dr. Len’s book.

The crew frequently worked 12 or more hours per day in 6 to 12 month segments.  They made good money in comparison to where they called home and they earned every penny of it.

A Chinese crew ran the laundry on the Regent ships.  The head man spoke passable English, but his crew spoke little to no English.  They ate in the laundry area and I never saw them mingling with the rest of the crew.  One laundry worker came for medical care for a persistent hand rash.  I shocked the heck out of them when I descended into the forward bowel of the ship to inspect their working conditions and laundering products.  Communication was difficult, but I managed to convey the message that I wanted the man with the hand rashes to wear protective gloves or be transferred to a detergent-free area in the laundry.  The head man appreciated my personal interest and unprecedented visit to the ship’s laundry.  I received free laundry service for the remainder of my cruise.

The ship ran on diesel fuel.  The engine rooms were about as close to Hollywood’s version of hell as you can get: located deep down in the ship, constantly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with deafening sound levels.  The crew’s sound mitigating ear coverings hung unused around the work areas.

The Greek engineers sat inside an air-conditioned, remarkably quiet, windowed room from which they viewed the important areas of the engine complex.  The Indonesian and Filipino deck hands worked in the noisy, very hot, dirty, oily, hands-on areas of the engine room.  I tapped one of the men on his shoulder and pointed to the hearing protectors hanging on a nearby pole.  He smiled and shrugged.  Most of these men were hearing impaired.  I thought back to my training as a specialist in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Association) standards for noise, heat and air quality.  Dream on: different lines undoubtedly had different degrees of conscience and compliance to worker’s compensation guidelines, but the Regent Line was back in the dark ages.

I certainly didn’t sign on for the money.  Maritime Medical, the company that paid my salary, gave me $200 per week plus ten percent of charges for passenger medical care.  I received no money for crew medical care.  Regent Lines did pay Maritime Medical for crew visits.  I don’t know whether they got a lump sum, per visit pay, or both.  I paid for my own airfare to and from the port, unless they called me on short-notice emergency coverage.  I paid for my wife’s airfare if she came along as well as her port charges.  We got a cabin, meals, use of the facilities, and were asked not to gamble or compete in passenger contests.

The casino concession was run by a British company.  I understand Regent was guaranteed $10,000 plus a percentage of the take for each 7-10 day cruise.  Regent couldn’t lose.

More stories from Dr. Len:

Posted in Guest Blogs, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Port Angeles Underground


street mural in Port Angeles

sluicing the hogback mural in Port Angeles

I always thought Seattle was unique in having raised the level of the city’s streets in the past and that the  Seattle Underground Tour was the only tour of the historic underground that once upon a time was the street level of a city.  I recently found out it was not the only city where our predecessors paid no attention to the tides and built too close to the water. Or perhaps built there before the introduction of indoor plumbing and then found the mix of indoor plumbing without sewers in a tidal area where the water is as likely to bring things back as take them out unlivable. Rebuilding farther from shore would seem like the simple thing to do, but considering at least one other city also filled in the streets and raised the level of their town perhaps moving inland was not an acceptable solution.

stairway to the underground

stairway in a shop leads under the building, which was raised on poles to match the new street level

Port Angeles started their town-raising project in January of 1914 and a series of lucky circumstances led to finishing in June of the same year rather than the projected three years later. The Farmer’s Almanac predicted that as an extremely mild winter for that era (at the time normal winters stayed frozen and snowy for several months.)  The mild weather meant working straight through the winter months, giving the project a boost right in the beginning.  Next came the completion of construction of the Elwha dam, meaning electricity came to the area.  In addition to improving the tools available to do the job, it also meant light and 24 hours a day to work on the project rather than the limited daylight hours otherwise available, and the multitude of people willing to work on the project meant they had labor enough to cover the extended work time.

underground Port Angeles

mural on the wall of space under raised building

Port Angeles pre-1914 had quite a different waterfront than it does now.  Front Street, which now sits a couple blocks away from the water’s edge, was waterfront property then.  Railroad Avenue was a train trestle built over the water.  Very few downtown buildings sat on dry land as most were built on pilings over the water.  Where a paved street now runs perpendicular to the shoreline, a creek ran then, sometimes flooding the downtown businesses.  Raw sewage went straight from buildings to the sea, but the tides did not always cooperate in taking it away.

port angeles underground

one of the original concrete forms can still be seen as a wall in the last remaining bit of underground sidewalk area

To solve this problem the streets were framed in large wooden forms running from 6 to 15 feet high depending on their location along the waterfront.  With hundreds of locals working on the project it took just a couple weeks to build the forms.  Next they filled them with concrete – bucket by bucket as cement trucks did not yet exist.  Wooden pipes and water cannons sluiced a nearby hill called the hogback, filling the streets between concrete forms with tons of mud.

apparently building too close to the sea was a common problem

original street level of a building

This project took only 6 months to build, but all that mud on land barely above the water table took years to dry.  About 6 or 7 of them.  In the meantime they built boardwalk sidewalks and streets.  Businesses had entrances on the lower levels until sidewalks were made at street level.  Eventually this was all paved over, leaving a system of tunnels at the old street level.  Some places built new entrances on the new street level much like in old Seattle.  Since most of these buildings were on pilings, many just raised the building.  Without modern machinery it took the hard labor of people jacking the buildings up inch by inch with hand cranked equipment.

historic whorehouse

the upstairs of what is now a shoe store housed a thriving brothel during prohibition

Throughout the prohibition era basements and attics made places for side businesses to flourish that had nothing to do with the street level business of a particular building.  Later rats and hippies made the abandoned underground space their home.  With such a large area accessible through the underground sidewalks and space under most buildings they had plenty of places to hide from police or exterminators.

sidewalk skylight

skylight in the sidewalk over the underground

Eventually one of the old buildings caught fire.  The fire in one building created a backdraft through the underground and a fireball that exploded through the doors of a building at the other end of the block, setting it on fire as well.  Following this event firewalls were installed throughout the underground and the free roaming days for hippies occupying the underground were gone.  I’m not sure about the rats, but we didn’t see anything indicating the presence of rats anywhere we went on our Port Angeles Heritage Tour.

under the sidewalk

from below the skylight lets in a lot of light

Later through the actions of one shortsighted mayor and three councilmen almost all of the Port Angeles underground got filled in.  The efforts of a group of locals determined to preserve the town’s history saved one small street with one original building that has a basement that once housed a boxing club opening up into the only remaining section of the once widespread underground.  The sidewalk above has skylights that let in an amazing amount of light, and while not original it was rebuilt the same fashion as the original with the wooden planking called shiplap underneath the concrete and skylights as close to the originals as restoration money would allow. The originals looked the same, but the shape of each individual square of glass let in even more light.

history made, hidden, and rediscovered

Port Angeles has history above street level as well as below, like this original painted ceiling of a movie theater above the insulation topped lower ceiling of the building’s current shop

Don the tour guide collects stories from older citizens of the town who lived through its history like the guy who watched the first plane land in town at age 6 when the wooden boardwalks still covered the streets.  He couldn’t come up with the required money for a plane ride (a week’s salary for his dad,) but his fascination with that plane led to a long and successful air force career.  He also had a story about a boy of 16 who was big for his age and the town bully.  After injuring a boy for making fun of his sister, he would have ended up in prison had the cop who ran the boxing club not taken the troubled teen under his wing.  He learned to channel his aggression into the boxing ring, and grew up to become a decorated town cop.  He also had interesting tidbits like the auto mechanic shop who bought gray coveralls for 10 cents a pair and then rented them for 10 cents a day to the sailors who came to town on leave and were neither allowed to wear or carry civilian clothes off the ship, but could not visit the sort of places sailors in port most likely want to go while in uniform.  They were paid all in $2 bills so that when the ships left town the townspeople would realize just how much money they had made from the navy’s presence and welcome them back.

historic Port Angeles

controls for showing movies in the old theater

The tour meets at the chamber of commerce and starts with a local history lesson seated comfortably upstairs in the bar next door.  At the time I took this tour all money for the tour was collected in cash.  Most parking in the town either costs money or is limited to 2 hours, but they have free 3 hour parking behind the chamber of commerce for tour participants and mall shoppers.

under the city

underside of a building jacked up on poles when the street got raised

The tour takes a stroll through several blocks of the old part of town, in and out of a variety of buildings of historical interest.  Most of these buildings have some seating, so those with limited abilities for walking long distances or standing for long periods of time do have places to rest along the way.  We saw the underside of a jacked up building, a couple basements that were the street level of original buildings from before the raising of the road, and the upstairs of what was once a movie theater that still had some of the original equipment in the tin-lined projection room, which needed the fire-proofing due to the high heat of the lights and flammability of early film.  Another upstairs once held a house of ill-repute, which had all the things people weren’t allowed during prohibition – alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes.  It also had spy holes and a warning bell so employes and patrons could escape quickly in a raid and none were ever caught.

Port Angeles Historical Tour

Don the guide telling people about the old boxing club, now a empty basement with access to the last underground sidewalk

This is a great tour and Don the guide is not only lively and interesting, but also largely responsible for saving the bit of the underground the town has left.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Port City Side Trips, Washington | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Hato Caves, Curacao

cruise ship docked in Curacao

MSC Divina in Willemstad, Curacao

Outside of the Divina, of MSC  Cruises, we boarded a bus for our excursion to Hato Caves. Along the way the tour guide gave us a lesson in the history of Curacao (our local tour guide pronounced this Kure-uh-sow.) One of six Caribbean Islands that once belonged to Holland, then to the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao governs itself now. It retains ties enough with the Dutch as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that its citizens can travel to Europe without visas though they are not part of the European Union.  Curacao is the C of the ABC islands, (Lesser Antilles) which include Aruba and Bonaire as well as Curacao.  Aruba is also self-governed now, but Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.  These three islands lie outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt, making them safe to visit any time of year.

rock formations

limestone flow in Hato Cave

The Spainards first discovered Curacao in 1499, but as it lacked for gold or silver to mine or water for farming they did not have any large settlements there. The Dutch claimed it in 1634.  They used it as a place to obtain salt and a major slave-trading port.   A 100-year-old oil refinery remains in operation, providing jobs while it pollutes the island. Steps have been taken to modernize and reduce emissions, but in the meantime the refinery covers the cost of annual painting of a nearby building that once housed nuns and a catholic girl’s school and now functions as an old folks home.

cave rock formations

inside Hato Caves

Hato Caves sits at the top of a hill, far from sea level. Because of its height it is a warm cave rather than cold like most caves. Fans placed throughout the cave provide cool air and ventilation for visitors.  The layers of the island of Curacao are called terraces.  Most of the island’s caves are found in the second terrace, but Hato Caves, the biggest and most visitor-friendly cave on the island, is uniquely located on the third and highest terrace.

cave pool

pool in the cave

Water seeps through the limestone rock of this porous cave, filling pools that remain year round, though the water level rises in the rainy season and recedes in dry times. No plants, animals, or algae of any kind live in the water so it stays clear and odorless. Visitors once threw many coins in the pools as they passed through, but in this increasingly cashless society just a few collect there now. Our cave guide joked about installing a debit card machine for wishing well use.

Hato Cave in Curacao

The entrance to the cave is at the top of the hill behind the sign

The tour bus stopped just outside the Hato Caves area.  A pathway through a gate brought us to buildings containing restrooms and a small shop.  More paths led uphill to the steep stairway to the cave entrance.  It’s hard to imagine how historic users reached the cave or navigated through it without the paths, stairs, lights, and fans that exist today.

tourist friendly cave

pathway through the cave

The first chamber of the cave had a blackened look to the ceiling, the result of fires from users of a past era, who apparently kept their fires to that one chamber as it was the only area of the cave with fire blackened stone.  The Arawak people who once inhabited the island used the cave for shelter.  Later runaway slaves hid there.  Today small fruit bats call the cave home and sometimes dart about overhead or hang from the ceiling in groups. While we did see some bats, we did not see the cockroaches whom the guide said keep the cave floor clean of bat guano.

path through Hato Cave

lighted path through the cave

Lights placed throughout the cave shine for visitors to see, and are turned off after they leave. In lighted areas green algae clings to the walls, where in the dark the algae remains black. Light of camera flashes can also contribute to turning the algae green, as well as blinding any bats that may happen by.

cave formations

cave chamber with green algae

One chamber of the cave has a window through the ceiling and large rock formations on the floor that are neither stalactites nor stalagmites, but the remains of what once hung above, but fell a thousand years before. In this area of natural light from the ceiling, the algae on the walls grows green of its own accord, and the bats have a sort of back door to the outside.

Hato Cave in Curacao

tourists looking for a rock formation

Locals have given some of the cave’s rock formations names for things they remind them of like a donkey or the madonna and child.  The limestone in these caves originally came from coral formed under the sea eons ago.  As the water receded, the island was born and the coral turned to limestone.

inside Hato Cave

cave rock formations

While the walls of the cave remain in their natural state, and touching them is not allowed, the floor has been smoothed over into a flat pathway and railings added to keep guests within the allowed area. Some of the cave’s features show evidence of a more rapid advancement in the distant past, but currently the stalactites and stalagmites grow at an incredibly slow pace taking centuries to join together as columns.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Fold a Towel Person

How To Fold a Towel Person

how to fold a towel human

Lame Adventures in a towel

I hadn’t really thought about making a towel person until V of Lame Adventures mentioned in a comment that she thought I could make her in a towel.  Of course trying to make a towel sculpture of a specific person is harder than just making a random towel person.   For a specific person you need to find some characteristics of that person you can imitate in a towel. Start with a towel in the closest shade you can find to the person’s skin color.  Which is not easy as towels don’t tend to come in colors that resemble anything near human skin tones.  I do have one hand towel I found in a thrift shop that works pretty well for caucasian skin.  Luckily only the head towel color matters.  Any color works for the body towel since people wear clothes.

the human model for the towel sculpture

banner photo snagged from Lame Adventures blog

Since I am making this towel person to resemble an actual person it would be nice for anyone reading this to know what she looks like.  So I jacked her photo from the banner on her blog.

Curling ribbon or yarn would make great hair for towel people.  Curling ribbon for curly hair, which works fine if you want yellow, red, or white hair since curling ribbon is easy to find in those colors.   I could not find any in brown or black.  Yarn comes in all sorts of colors and makes great straight hair.  Of course V has to be difficult and have curly brown hair.  Sigh.  Pipe cleaners is all I could find to make dark curly hair.  These were actually called fuzzy craft sticks, but same thing.

The other distinguishing feature she has is glasses, and luckily I have some of those.  Cheap baby clothes are plentiful at thrift stores and sized about right for towel people.   I couldn’t find tiny gloves for the hands in the middle of the summer and was too cheap to buy tiny socks for the feet, which would be the obvious things to use.

Supplies Needed to Make a Towel Person

hand towel in skin tone

bath towel any color

baby clothes if desired

decorations – this is what brings the towel person to life, whatever you use for eyes, hair, hands and feet, mouth, and any other embellishments like glasses or a purse or shoes

How to Fold a Towel Person Head

folding a towel person

Make sure the ends are exactly even. This towel needs the ends adjusted before rolling because one side hangs a bit lower than the other.

Hang the hand towel from a wall hook or tuck it under your chin.  Roll both sides as tightly as you can.  Mine tend to come out a bit lopsided now.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I broke my left elbow inside the joint last spring.  Both the doctor and therapist had very low expectations for me, but it did heal better than either of them expected.  It will never be 100% though and there are some positions that arm can’t achieve.  It also lacks in strength and dexterity, with two of the fingers trying to function as a single unit.  So I can’t ever roll both sides evenly any more.

making a human head out of a towel

Roll towel from the top so the end gets very tight while making the entire pair of rolls as tight as possible.

With the rolls to the outside, roll from the wide end to the point.  Leave just enough towel for ears hanging out at the end and tuck the point end in between the rolls with a bit sticking out for the nose.  For more photos on the various stages of folding a towel head, see the leprechaun towel folding blog.

towel art

the ears on this head need some adjusting to even them out

towel person head

after folding and tucking things in the ears even out and look more human

Pointy ears work fine for things like cats, elves, or Vulcans, but since this is a human, shape the ears rounder by tucking ends in as needed.  Tuck in more on one side than the other if necessary to even the ears out as I had to on this one.

I have little blue jeans and a tiny sweatshirt to dress my towel human, mainly because that is what the thrift store had that did not look completely babyish.  So I’m using a light blue towel for the body.  It can be the shirt and will go with the rest of the outfit.

How to Fold a Towel Human Body

standard towel animal body

try to roll the two halves of the towel as evenly as possible

The towel person uses the standard towel animal body used in the majority of towel animals.  Lay the bath towel out flat.  From the short side roll each end to the center.

the art of folding towel sculpture origami

the tips just need to pull out enough to hold onto them in the next step

Fold rolled towel in half, rolls to the outside.  Pull the tips out of the center of each roll.

how to make a towel person

pull the tips so the towel pulls out the ends of the rolls and forms legs

Taking the two halves of one roll in one hand and the two halves of the other roll in the other hand, pull all four until the rolls pull out into legs (or in this case arms and legs) and the towel resembles a body.

we can't all be superman

If you don’t have the hand or arm strength to pull all four rolls at once, let one side go and use both hands to pull just one side of the body at a time

towel animal folding for wimps

it looks the same in the end whether you pulled all the legs together or one side at a time

If you lack the hand strength to pull them all at once, just get it started a bit and then pull each side separately.  I have to do it that way now since I can’t pull it all at once.

who puts pants on a towel?

not quite a person yet

When the towel body is done it is time to dress it and add the head.

how to make a towel human

the towel person could be done at this point as a little boy if I used different eyes

Finishing the Towel Person

this towel leprechaun is wearing his St Paddy's day green

The leprechaun’s clothes is the body plus belt and boots

towel Yoda

Yoda’s robe is just a towel

Dress the towel person body as desired (which could be as simple as putting it in a sitting position and draping another towel around it like a robe or using the body towel as clothing.)

Position the body as desired and add  decorations – eyes, hair, etc.

towel sculpure of a real person

Finishing touches on the lame adventures towel person included eyes, glasses, gloves, socks, and hair as well as the little jeans and sweatshirt.   She was positioned to imitate the picture.  She kind of reminds me of the old original cabbage patch dolls back when they had yarn hair.

For other towel creations please visit My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Hiking the Staircase Rapids Trail in the Olympic Rainforest

anchored in the fog and the rain

Wilderness Adventurer in Hoodsport, WA

Early on a rainy morning the Wilderness Adventurer of Un-Cruise Adventures anchored up in the fog near the tiny town of Hoodsport.  This quaint western Washington town lies quite a ways down Hood Canal, a long narrow waterway dividing the Kitsap Peninsula from the Olympic Peninsula.  Glad that I had brought raingear, I dug the little green bag out of my suitcase, pulled the raingear out, and discovered that the bag I thought held an entire rainsuit in fact had just a raincoat.

shore excusion time on the Wilderness Adventurer

passengers suit up in rain gear for a rainy rainforest hike

Luckily the ship had raingear for sale.  I joined the que in the lounge at the bow where one of the crew girls had the seat of a bench open and the raingear normally stored inside spread about the floor.  Lucky for me she had not put it away yet as there was just one person left in line.  The lady ahead of me could have bought the last pair of small rain pants, but balked at the price so I got them instead.  A bit pricey yes, but of fine quality that I much appreciated later when the hike ended and my top half had gotten wet through both the rain jacket I’d brought and the water resistant jacket I wore under it, yet my lower half stayed completely dry in the rain pants from the ship.  Rubber boots provided by the ship completed the outfit and kept my feet dry through every puddle.

how to get to shore from an anchored boat

skiff leaving the Wilderness Adventurer

Townsfolk in Hoodsport wondered about the boat anchored so near to their shore as boats that large rarely pay them a visit. Skiffs brought passengers to a nearby dock to board the waiting busses for a half hour’s drive to Staircase Rapids Trail in the Olympic Rainforest on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula.   Not all rainforests are tropical, this is a coastal temperate rainforest.   The western side of the peninsula also has rainforests, the small town of Forks there gaining fame through the Twilight book series.  Yet on the northern end of the peninsula, Sequim is classified as a desert, the driest place in western Washington.  As our cruise took us to the drier north, we had no more significant rain for the rest of a week predicted to rain pretty much the whole time, as it did in much of the Puget Sound area.

transportation to the trailhead

tour bus to the rainforest

The relentless rain beat down on the bus, keeping the windows steamy throughout the drive.  The hikers definitely appreciated their raingear as they poured out of the busses once they stopped. Some had come from drier climates and had no idea how wet one could get in a rainy rainforest.  With that weather though, the ship’s passengers had the forest nearly to ourselves.

coastal temperate rainforest

hiking the Staircase Rapids trail

For a two mile loop trail, half of the Wilderness Adventurer’s passengers went one direction and the other the opposite so other than crossing one another on the trail we saw only one other family along the way.

Olympic Rain Forest

a large tree next to a puddle on the trail in the rain

Rainforests can get wet, and with a combination of rain and snow meltwater from the nearby Olympic Mountains these trails had puddles to spare. Much of the Olympic Peninsula is national parkland or designated wilderness area, including this trail.


stump house – you don’t see trees this big any more

Second growth trees blend with huge old growth monoliths, and the occasional stump large enough to be a house – in fact trees grew so big before people cut most of the ancient forests down that early settlers in western Washington did sometimes make stumps into houses.

Here and there along the trail we had glimpses and views of the Skokomish River. In several places the trail crossed either the main river or a smaller stream. At the start of the trail we crossed the river on a lengthy bridge.

bridge on rainforest trail

big new suspension bridge high above the river

Later in the hike we crossed a brand new suspension bridge supported by massive steel beams flown in by helicopter. Remnants of the original bridge remained in the form of bits of wood and metal still attached to the monstrous boulders on either side of the river where they had used these natural building blocks once left by a glacier as supports. Not taking any chances on the new bridge washing out as the old one had, it sits very high above the river where rain is the only water that will ever reach it.

bridge made from fallen logs

log bridge

Further along the trail we crossed the complete opposite of the new modern bridge. The original bridge across one of the smaller streams washed out at some point and the replacement here was carved from fallen logs crossing the stream. It was one of the most interesting bridges I’ve ever seen.

trillium flower


We saw trillium in bloom in quite a few places along the trail, and a salmonberry bush as well. Standing near a patch of trillium I watched a raindrop hit one. The intruding raindrop slithered down the leaf, its weight forcing the leaf to point downward. Once the raindrop slipped to the forest floor the leaf shuddered and righted itself, appearing to shake on its own. Through the patch of trillium one leaf after another waved its leaves, shedding raindrops in a dance most people never notice walking through a rainy forest.

rain forests are green and full of lush vegetation

river view from the trail

Most of the wildlife stayed snugly in their homes, but we did see one very small banana slug. The good news is the bugs didn’t come out in the rain. We did not see so much as a single mosquito.  Although it does not rain all the time in a rainforest, so far every time I have taken a rainforest hike it rained, whether in Australia (yes Australia does have rainforest), Ketchikan (whose annual rainfall would make Forks seem dry by comparison), or Washington.

oyster shucking demonstration

how to shuck oysters

Back at the boat after a tasty stir-fry lunch we decided to bag the afternoon’s planned kayaking and sit in the hot tub followed by the sauna instead. Actually nobody went out for the afternoon kayking session. We weren’t the only ones who decided to wait for better weather.

 Video – How to Shuck an Oyster from Hama Hama Oysters

Our Beer Cruise activity for this day while the ship anchored off Hoodsport included a visit to the ship from Hama Hama Oysters.  They brought a variety of fresh oysters with them and had a talk about all things oyster and how to shuck them.  A beer and oyster pairing followed with different beers to taste with the different types of oysters.  Interestingly enough, the oysters were genetically the same, but differences in the location, diet, and habitat cause differences in the size and flavor of the oysters. Beers for the pairing came from American Brewing (Edmonds, WA) and Elysian Brewing (Seattle, WA).  According to the host of all things beer on the cruise, Kendall of Washington Beer Blog, the Sea Cow oyster with Elysian’s Dragonstooth Stout proved the crowd’s favorite pairing.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2012
Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments