From the hack to the house with the rock.

Last night Monte and I went curling. Yes, that’s right. After spending many hours apres-ski on the couch in our condo on countless ski trips watching curling in the Winter Olympics, we tried the real thing. And we had a blast, eh!?

CurlAustin is a club that has its own ice (called the “Pond”), competitive curling leagues that anyone can join, and it also has for-fee 2 hour group lessons. They had us curling, safely, in no time. They are located right next door to Austin Beerworks, which is convenient for grabbing a frosty post-bonspiel beverage.

We joined six other newbies, divided up into two teams, and finished several ends. It was loads of fun. I highly recommend giving it a try.

It’s good to be yellow. We won this end with 4 counters (two of those were mine!)

Hey, Pilgrim.

We celebrated Thanksgiving a day early here at the chez, since Julie works tomorrow. Monte grilled up another awesome bird. The sides were fantastic. The pie was wholesome. Time together was really nice.

Enjoy the day!

The season.

Julie and I headed downtown for the Junior League of Austin’s “A Christmas Affair.“ Lots of gifts on display. It was held at the Palmer Event Center. The view of the Austin skyline from there was lovely. My how this town has changed in 25 years.

The season is upon us. Time to get in the spirit!

Finally.

After a long, self-imposed exile from restaurants and bars, we’re loosening things up a bit. Last week we enjoyed our good old “blue-hair special” at Chuy’s. Yummmmm.

And last night we popped in at Donn’s Depot to listen to the Nash Hernandez Orchestra. It was a great time.

Hard fought.

Today, the crew of Camelot fought back in a tightly run race. We had a hard day yesterday in high winds, overpowered with the whomper foresail. It whomped the grinders for sure. We came in third in the long upstream there-and-back race to Lakeway.

We changed to a smaller jib this morning. We got off the start line close to our competitors and ran a good three hour battle of tacks and jibes. At the end of the day, we came in second, which was good enough for second in our class. Not bad.

The course… -ish
Close hauled. Low-flying aircraft off the starboard bow.
View from the clubhouse.

Well done lads and ladies!

Regatta time.

Monte and I joined Mary Ann today to crew with Kurt and Kevin on S/V Camelot on day 1 of the 2021 Governor’s Cup at the Austin Yacht Club. It was a beautiful, sunny, windy day. This was a 20 mile course. Tomorrow’s will be shorter. We’re in the mix!

The J class heading for the finish line.
Yeah, we foil on Lake Travis.
The finish line.

A good day!

Goals.

I’m not a bucket list person. But I am motivated by a challenge. And I love the outdoors. I’ve only recently sort of slid into this “see as many National Parks as I can” thing. But now it’s a thing I’d like to do. Before this week, I visited 10 of the current 63 U.S. National Parks in the National Park Service. As of today, my total is up to 14. 49 to go. And, they add new parks every year or two, so I need to step up my game.

Lori has a National Park Geek sticker on her car’s roof-top carrier. So, of course, I wanted one. I got the pin 🙂

I now am starting work on an itinerary, and on Monte to join me, for a long road trip to see several of the National Parks out west. Stay tuned.

Back home again.

Wednesday morning we left Little Rock bright and early, and drove to Hot Springs National Park. This year is the park’s 100th birthday.

Apparently bathing in the warm mineral spring water was a thing in the early 1900s. This was a popular destination for rehabilitation and convalescing. It’s a surprising location for a National Park; eight grand bath houses in a row along the main drag of Hot Springs. Each full of century-old spa-equipment, dressing rooms, ornate gathering rooms, and large front porches.

Bath house row.
Some of the original springs. And fountains placed to dispense the spring water. It really is warm, right out of the ground.
A trough where spring water is fed to the bath houses.
Spas of yesteryear.

Four days. 1700 miles. Four National Parks. Seven states. $4 in cash left in my wallet. Time to go home! We made it to Austin Wednesday evening.

Another adventure in the books. I enjoyed all of it.

Above the trees.

Tuesday morning we got up early and drove to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the most visited National Park, with over 12 million visitors a year. And it is stunning.

We made it up to Newfound Gap overlook, which lies on the Tennessee/North Carolina State line, as well as the Appalachian Trail.

I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail (100 feet of it!)
Standing in 2 states at once.

Then we drove up to Clingman’s Dome and walked up the steep climb to the observation tower for 360 degree views above the treetops. Clingman’s Dome, called Mulberry Place in Cherokee, was sacred to them. It is 6643’ high – the highest point in Tennessee.

View from Clingman’s Dome.
Clingman’s Dome observation tower.

After the park, we drove another 9 1/2 hours to Little Rock. One more National Park and then home tomorrow.

Three firsts.

We left Virginia early Monday morning, headed for the newest US National Park – New River Gorge National Park. It took us into West Virginia, my very first visit to the state.

The park is home to the New River and a 3000 ft long steel arch bridge, which was the longest in the world when it was built in 1977. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, the New River is actually one of the oldest on the continent, according to the NPS app (which I highly recommend if you’re a National Park geek).

The new bridge over the New River.
The New River gorge and its old bridge.
Sandstone Falls on the New River.

Visiting the park was a 2nd first for me. The 3rd first was grabbing my first geocache in West Virginia, for which I earned this nifty virtual badge. 🙂

Tuesday morning we’re in Tennessee, headed for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stay tuned!

…And by car.

We left Annapolis yesterday, driving home to Austin. Our route takes us very close to four US National Parks along the way. So, we must see them!

Sunday’s park was Shenandoah National Park. It was the created in 1935 amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains. The winding, two-lane Skyline Drive takes you through the park along the ridge-tops with dozens of overlook parking areas along it. We drove it for 60 miles. The trees were turning red and gold. It will be even more stunning in a week or two.

By plane, boat, and bike…

On Monday I flew to Annapolis to attend this weekend’s Sailboat Show. I met up with Lori, and we had a fun 2-day trip on S/V Trident over to St Michael’s, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake. We anchored overnight and dinghied to shore with the bikes and explored the town and its maritime museum.

Trident anchored in the Miles River at St. Michaels.
A lighthouse relocated to the maritime museum.

On Thursday we went to the first day of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. We toured some fine boats, got some swag, and met up with sailor friends. The weather cooperated and we had a great day.

A panorama of the show docks. You can see the copper dome of the chapel on the US Naval Academy campus on the far left of the photo.

On Friday we did boat work from sunrise to sunset. A long day of hard work, but we enjoyed dinner out downtown.

A beautiful sunrise over Chesapeake Bay.

Today we are attending some of the seminars at the boat show. More later.

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