Note: This is a non-quilt related post.

My husband Phil and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this month with a trip to the Galapagos Islands about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in part because of its unique diversity of plants and animals.

Blue Footed Booby – Cindy Grisdela

We took a 5 day National Geographic cruise on a small ship with 45 passengers and 6 naturalists. Each day was spent hiking the islands, snorkeling, kayaking, or going on excursions in an inflatable Zodiac boat. The rule in Galapagos National Park is that no one goes onshore or on the water without a trained naturalist guide, so we got expert guidance at each stop, mostly from people who had grown up on the islands.

There are a number of species in the Galapagos that don’t exist anywhere else, including the iconic Blue Footed Booby, above. The animals aren’t generally afraid of humans, possibly because the islands have been protected for many years from hunting and the number of visitors allowed in the area at any one time is limited by the Ecuadorian government.

Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution after a trip to the Galapagos in 1835–he was particularly interested in the finches he saw there. The naturalists on board spoke of Darwin and his writing as though he were a neighbor living down the street–it was fascinating to be immersed not only in the scenery and wildlife we experienced, but also the history of the place.

Cactus with finch nest - Phil Grisdela

Phil took the photo above of a giant cactus with a small finch nest woven into it. The cacti are endemic to the area as well.


Galapagos Marine Iguana – Cindy Grisdela

Another species found nowhere else is the Galapagos marine iguana. They are 3-4 feet long including the tail–this one was not pleased to have its picture taken!

Galapagos Penguins – Cindy Grisdela

The Galapagos penguin is only found in certain areas of the islands–they are relatively small, about 20 inches tall and 4-5 pounds. And they are the only penguin found north of the equator. They have adapted to warmer weather in various ways, including the black feathers on their back and the white belly.

We had a couple of fun interactions with sea lions on the trip. They are very playful creatures and aren’t afraid of humans. On one excursion, a sea lion pup tried to hop a ride in the Zodiac back to the ship! Salvador, the naturalist clapping his hands in the photo, was hooting like an adult sea lion to try to get the pup to jump off, because you aren’t allowed to touch the animals.

Sea Lion trying to hitch a ride – Cindy Grisdela

Another time, a small group of us took a Zodiac to a small beach for gentle yoga stretching. While we were doing our practice, a sea lion pup swam up from the water to investigate. He approached the yoga instructor and wanted to play with her colorful stretch bands, then went to Socrates, the naturalist with us, and then to me! He was right on my towel with me, but I was too amazed to get a photo. Afterward, the sea lion pup did his own yoga pose covered with sand to keep cool.

Playful sea lion – Cindy Grisdela

Sea lion yoga – Cindy Grisdela

There were red crabs almost everywhere we went. I loved the contrast of their red shells with just a hint of yellow and turquoise underneath, against the black volcanic rock. I have many pictures of them and hope to use the color idea for a quilt soon.

Red Crab – Cindy Grisdela

The most spectacular sight we saw was lava from an active volcano spewing into the ocean at 4:30 one morning. The cruise company detoured to the area so we could experience the unusual event on Punta Mangle, south of Fernandina Island. The volcano wasn’t erupting, exactly, but the hot lava was seeping out through weakened cracks in the earth. It was dazzling!

Punta Mangle Lava Flow – Cindy Grisdela


Flamingo in the Galapagos – Cindy Grisdela

Swallow tailed Gulls Galapagos – Cindy Grisdela



Sea turtle – Cindy Grisdela

Here are photos of some of the other wildlife we saw on the trip–a flamingo with its reflection in a small pond, a sea turtle, and swallowtailed gulls, which are also endemic to the Galapagos. We saw lots of beautiful fish snorkeling, but no photos of those because I didn’t have a waterproof camera.

Sombero Chino Sunrise – Cindy Grisdela

I was fortunate to get this sunrise photo of an island called Sombero Chino with another boat in front one morning.



Sunset at the Equator – Phil Grisdela

We did sail over the equator at one point–this was my first time in South America so that was an interesting concept. Phil took this beautiful photo of the sunset right after that happened.

Galapagos tortoise – Cindy Grisdela

I’ll end this long post with a photo of the Giant Galapagos Tortoise. These reptiles are also found naturally nowhere else in the world, in fact, the name Galapagos comes from the Spanish word for tortoise. They can weigh up to 800 pounds and live over 100 years.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I hope I’ll have some quilts to make from some of the inspiration photos I took.





  1. Sally Harcum Maxwell on May 26, 2024 at 10:16 am

    Such amazing pictures! You said that this wasn’t a “quilt post,” but life experiences give us our inspirations. This trip gave you plenty of fodder with which to work your quilt magic. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 11:02 am

      Thank you so much, Sally–yes, you are right about the inspiration! I hope to make some quilts from the experience.


      • Pat Bishop on May 26, 2024 at 3:44 pm

        Thanks for sharing, a once in a lifetime experience. On my bucket list!

        • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:45 pm

          Thanks Pat–it truly is and I hope you get to experience it one day!

  2. Karla Berg Walker on May 26, 2024 at 1:05 pm

    Wonderful post! I can’t wait to see how this trip influences a future quilting project!

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks so much, Karla–I hope I can make something to do it justice!


  3. Kathleen on May 26, 2024 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you, Cindy for these incredible pictures and for sharing your special trip with us!

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Kathleen–it was fun to get the photos organized and write it up to share!

  4. Judy Shelton on May 26, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks so much, Cindy, for sharing your adventure and these wonderful photos! I love traveling vicariously!

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      Haha–thanks Judy!

  5. Becky Saenz on May 26, 2024 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you Cindy for sharing your experience and pictures! We’re planning a trip there next March. Our first time as well. Your pictures really make me look forward to it!😁

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:45 pm

      You’re welcome, Becky–I hope you find it as magical as we did! Have fun.

  6. Mylo Sanders on May 26, 2024 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your photos, feelings and memories, seeing rare animals in their natural habitat is such a privilege.
    Congratulations on your 40th Wedding Anniversary

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:46 pm

      It certainly is–thank you!

  7. Kathy Tuttle on May 26, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    Cindy, I loved seeing your photos. My husband and I have talked about making this trip. thanks for sharing. Kathy Tuttle

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Kathy–I would recommend it and I hope you get to go one day!


  8. Janice Smith on May 26, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Happy Anniversary! This certainly was a once-in-a-lifetime trip! I loved all of your photos. Thanks for sharing them :-).

    • Cindy on May 26, 2024 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you Janice!

  9. Lin Patterson on May 27, 2024 at 5:56 am

    Wonderful photos, and so much inspiration.
    Definitely on my list of places to visit.

    • Cindy on May 27, 2024 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you, Lin–I hope you get to go there some day!

  10. Debbie Gregory Wehn on May 27, 2024 at 9:19 am

    Oh WOW! Great pictures and what a life opportunity! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Bev Lawson on May 27, 2024 at 9:30 am

    Loved reading about your adventure and admired the amazing wildlife photos.

  12. Mónica on May 27, 2024 at 9:40 am

    Hermosa experiencia, me hizo acordar a una amiga que lo hizo con su marido, ahora vive en Australia. Es un viaje inolvidable y más festejando el 40 Aniversario, Felicidades, todo bello. Gracias por compartir!!!

  13. Candace Edgerley on May 27, 2024 at 11:10 am

    Beautiful photos. What an amazing trip!

    • Cindy on May 27, 2024 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks Candy–it was a wonderful time!

  14. Janice Pratte on May 27, 2024 at 1:20 pm

    Your photos are a wonderful reminder of my husband and my 25th anniversary trip to the Galapagos. It truly is a special place. Your photos are better than ours with the yoga curious sea lion a favorite. We had the fortunate experience to have Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch, on board. This Pulitzer Prize book tells the story of how Darwin came to conclude that species evolve by observing various finches on the Galápagos Islands. You might find it interesting, along with Charles and Emma authored by his wife. BTW, Kate Quinn is one of my favorite authors. Read more by her if you haven’t already. Happy anniversary!

    • Cindy on May 27, 2024 at 8:16 pm

      Wow–that sounds exciting! Thanks for the book recommendation–I’ll check it out. And I’m working my way through Kate Quinn’s books–I love them too!


  15. Patricia Wright on May 28, 2024 at 10:52 am

    Amazing way to spend your 40th Anniversary. Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics, really appreciate reading about your adventure. In your spare time(ha) check out Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”, similar theme as Kate Quinn a wonderful read. It is fiction based on a true story of WW2 & how women did the unthinkable to aurvive. Have read about 20 of
    these women Hero books & found the Nightengale the Best. My sister-in-law & I also a quilter both agree on that book.
    Enjoy your Summer…

    • Cindy on May 28, 2024 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks so much for the book recommendation–I’ll check it out! And I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures.


  16. Ruthann Fox on May 29, 2024 at 7:25 pm

    Wonderful photos! Will be going to the Galapagos Islands in March of 2025 to celebrate my 75th year!
    So many amazing things to look forward to!
    Thanks for sharing! Ruthann Fox

    • Cindy on May 29, 2024 at 9:07 pm

      that’s exciting Ruthann–I hope you have a wonderful trip!


  17. Suzanne Freed on June 1, 2024 at 4:43 pm

    Fabulous photos! Thanks for sharing them.

  18. Jane Cancellieri on June 9, 2024 at 8:13 pm

    Isn’t the Galapagos a magical place?!!! Your photos brought back great memories for me. We were there in January 2024! It had been on my bucket list for over 30 years. I feel so very lucky to have been able to go there!

    • Cindy on June 10, 2024 at 1:06 pm

      Yes it certainly is magical, Jane! I feel fortunate to have been able to experience it.