Sunrise to sunset.

I enjoyed my Saturday to the fullest. I got up early to go birding for a few hours at one of my favorite spots – Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. I watched the sun rise above the prairie.

I headed down the path to the river, as the mist lifted. Everything was very dewy.

It was nice to be out looking for the birdies.

After returning home, I cleaned up and we headed to the lake. Monte and I enjoyed a long sail in mild-ish winds. As soon as we got into the slip the winds really picked up (of course). So, when Kurt and Kevin stopped by a little bit later, we all went back out, in more sporting wind. It was another great sail, though with 4 people in the cockpit, we wore masks.

We were tied back up in the slip in time to watch the sun set on a very nice day.

Goals.

I found a poster on-line featuring scratch-off tiles for each of the 62 U.S. National Parks.   When you’ve visited one of the parks, you scratch off the gray-tone image for it to reveal a more colorful image beneath.   After framing the poster, I counted the parks I’ve already visited and was surprised that I have logged 10 already – without even trying!  I don’t really have a bucket list, but I certainly would love to see more of these national parks, especially those throughout the western part of the country.  Road trip!?

I bought it here, if you want to check it out for yourself.  Thanks to Monte for the handsome frame.  🙂

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!

My first ever comet photo.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to see the Comet NEOWISE since I heard about it at the beginning of July.  When it was visible over the pre-dawn, northeast horizon last week, the sky Austin was overcast.  This week it is supposed to be visible after sunset.

Last night the sky was clear, so I grabbed my binoculars and camera and headed out to try to find a vantage point looking to the northwest horizon.  I found a parking garage that I thought might provide a view.   Since it was in the midst of Austin’s bright city lights, “visible” wouldn’t mean visible to the naked eye.   I was not able to sight it in my binoculars, either.  Instead, I took a number of shots using long exposure pointing at different areas of the sky in the general direction of where NEOWISE was supposed to be.  I did capture it in several photos.  Here’s the best one:

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It’s definitely not NatGeo material, but I was excited to get it.   If conditions allow, I may try again.   If so, I’m hoping that my experience from last night will help me get a better picture.

 

Congratulations UT Class of 2020!

I ventured downtown over the weekend to snap a picture of the University of Texas at Austin’s Tower bathed in burnt-orange light, to honor the graduating Class of 2020.  My friend’s daughter graduated this year and I took this shot for her.

Congratulations to the Longhorn graduates!

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2019 moments.

This year sped by, but it was jam-packed with short adventures, wonderful visits with friends and family, lots of good food & wine, and a few projects squeezed in.

A quick breakdown:

  • States traveled to/within:  Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia
  • Countries traveled to/within:  US, Bahamas
  • Siblings visited:  Noreen & David, Brian, Colleen, Fran & Art, Susanne, Gene & Jo
  • Nieces & nephews visited:  Rachel, Julie, Neil & Miranda, Jared, Rebecca, Aaron, Jacob, Pat & Nga, Dan & Erin, Patricia & Florian, Michelle, Amy Lee & Chris
  • Great nieces & nephews visited:  Diego, Tionna & Alex, Will, Nick, Grace, Aly, Mae, Austin, Copeland, Anna Sutton
  • Great-great nephew visited:  X’ander
  • Births celebrated:  great-great-niece Aubrielle
  • Iron-men cheered on:  Jamie
  • Weddings celebrated:  Neil & Miranda, Dan & Erin
  • Friend & family visits to Austin:  Noreen & David, Susanne, Rob & Owen, Asha, Fran & Aaron, Rachel & Becky, Irene & Liz & Keith, and Noreen (one more time) 🙂

I’ve picked one photo from so many enjoyable moments of each month below:

January:  Sailing from Venice, FL through the Florida Keys, to Biscayne Bay; on a mooring ball at Garrison Bight Mooring Field off of Key West.  This was a magnificent trip.  The Keys are amazing.  We had enough time to really enjoy Key West and see the sights and maybe have one too many cocktails.  We hopped up the outside of the Keys, anchoring a few nights.  If I did this again I’d spend many more days in the Keys. We ended anchored outside of No Name Harbor near Miami for two weeks, which sounds like a long time but I thought it was a really nice place to be stuck, waiting for a weather window to go east to the Bahamas.

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February:  Sailing from Florida to Great Bahama Island and through the Abacos; dolphins in the Great Bahama Banks.  We enjoyed a really tame crossing to the West End from Miami, then spent several days making way through the bank and through the Abacos to get to Marsh Harbour.   It was a real treat to be back there for a while. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos this hurricane season, and they will rebuilding for the foreseeable future.

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March:  Springtime in the Hill Country means wildflowers.  I simply LOVE spring in the Hill Country.  Monte has cultivated an amazing bluebonnet patch at the chez.  I can’t wait to enjoy next year’s bloom, only 3 short months away.

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April: Spring migration means birding trips; a visit to the bird blind at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.  I spent much less time birding this year than I would have liked.  But I did make several trips to the coast at the peak of migration, and will definitely do it again this coming year.

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May:  A visit to the Pacific Northwest; a view from Mount Rainier National Park.  I have always loved Mount Rainier.  We picked a nice, though not an absolutely perfect day, to go up to the mountain.  The views on the way up and down are almost as stunning as the views from Paradise Visitor’s Center. I also made it back to the Bahamas for a week in May, but this trip to Washington was the highlight.

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June:  Roadtrip to Colorado and back; one stop was Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo.  We had fun on our trip to Estes Park.  And on the way home.

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July:  A two week trip up the ICW from Charleston, SC to Portsmouth, NC; the full moon rising just as we anchored near the Neuse River in North Carolina.  It was an amazing experience to take this trip up the Intracoastal Waterway.  I learned much, saw many birds, enjoyed the changing scenery along the trip, and never tired of the company.   If you ever have a chance to do something similar, just say Yes.

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August:  Summer heats up in Austin, lots of fun times on the lake, including enjoying Cupholder back in the water.  We enjoyed having both Nirvana and Cupholder on the lake this summer.  We love having boat guests for the day and / or night.  We enjoy our boat friends immensely.  And we really need to spend more time out on the lake next year.

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September:  One of several visits with out-of-towners to Barton Springs Pool to cool off.  I have my own custom tour of Austin for friends that are visiting.  Sometimes we walk around doing it.  Sometimes we do an express version by car.  But I love sharing my town with my friends and family when they come for a visit.  If the temps are anywhere near 100 degrees F, then we must visit Barton Springs Pool.

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October:  Let the boat canvas and sail projects commence!  I finally organized my various and sundry craft/project supplies in my new, amazing closet workspace.  Looking forward to knocking another couple dozen projects of my to-do list next year.

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November:  Enjoying the Christmas decorations going up at Donn’s Depot.  You can walk in the door a Grinch, but as soon as you enter Donn’s Depot after Thanksgiving, you can’t help but feel the Christmas Spirit warm your heart.

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December:  A trip south along the coast from Charleston, SC (Rainbow Row, below) to Brunswick, GA, via Beaufort, SC and Savannah, SC.  Our last trip of the year took me to a place I used to live MANY moons ago, and a few places I’ve never been.  I would like to make a followup visit to these parts again.

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So many great moments!  I’m looking forward to the ones 2020 brings.

Uber oops.

When I was catching up with Lori in Charleston, one of the things she mentioned was that Mike had left his phone in their Uber on their last trip.  I sympathized as I listened, thinking what a pain it would have been to try to get it back.  Well, as luck would have it, I ended up doing the exact same thing three days later!!

We had just tied up at the marina in Savannah.  I took a quick shower and tidied up.  Then we all bundled into an Uber in the rain to get to Amy Lee’s office to meet up with her and Chris.   We enjoyed a really great tour of the historic building that they had restored in Savannah.  Then Amy Lee drove us around, giving us a wonderful car-tour that only a decades-long Savannah resident could conduct.  Eventually, I patted my jacket pocket, dug through the day-pack that I brought from the boat, only to realize that… I couldn’t find my phone.  Lori called my number.  We didn’t hear it ring.  It wasn’t in our car.   Most likely scenario… it probably fell out in the Uber that I had summoned with my phone an hour or two prior.

How was I going to get my phone back?

– Amy Lee called her offices to see if I had dropped it there.   Nope.  And then she graciously continued our car-tour, while I tried to figure out how to locate my phone from the back seat, and get it back before we had to depart for Brunswick the next day.

– I borrowed Monte’s phone and installed the Uber app, and tried to logon to my account, but I couldn’t recall my password (seriously?!).

–  Then I tried to logon to my gmail account via Monte’s phone to see if I had received a message from Uber about my phone.  But I couldn’t recall my gmail password (OMG!).

– In the meantime, I sent my phone a text from Monte’s phone saying that if someone found my phone, to please call Monte’s number.

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– Then, Lori asked me if I had Find-my-iphone service installed on my phone.  Yes, I did!   A quick google search told me that I could use icloud.com/find to logon to my apple ID via a web browser and it would help me locate my device.  Mercifully, I was able to remember the correct password to my Apple ID.  So I was able to logon and quickly saw that my iPhone was in the vicinity but on the move.  Brilliant!  We tried to track down my phone’s Uber based on the phone’s location, but it was moving faster than we were.  So, I used the iCloud.com find-my-phone utility to ping my phone, which sounded an audible alarm on my phone, wherever it was.

Within 5 minutes Monte’s phone rang.  A person in the Uber had heard the alarm, found my phone wedged between the backseat and the door, picked it up, saw the text message I had sent, and called Monte’s phone from their own phone.   A few minutes later we met up at an agreed-to location for me to get my phone back.   I was very lucky.  And I was oh so thankful for the outcome. The ordeal had lasted about 30 minutes.  I tipped the Uber driver again when she handed me my phone, and we went our separate ways.

Take from this story what you will.  Turn on your phone’s find utility if you have one.  commit a few passwords to memory.  Make sure your phone is secure in your pocket or bag.  And travel with a friend with a phone.  🙂

 

 

Quick trip.

Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.

Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background.  The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina.  We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.

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After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house.   I moved many times when I was a kid.  When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time.  The old chez:

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After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice.  I would like to come back with more time to see the sights.  The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:

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Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row: IMG_9837

We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah.  We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed.  We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah.  Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell.  Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.

It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it!   Another adventure in the books.

 

 

 

 

About town.

Noreen and I did some shopping yesterday, then headed to the University of Texas campus.  We went up in the UT Tower on a tour.  Monte and I have done this once before but it was a dark and rainy day, so I was looking forward to getting a better view.

As a part of the tour, you can go outside and walk around all 4 sides of the top of the tower.

My town, looking south from the UT Tower:

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The UT Tower, viewed from the Turtle Pond just north of the Tower:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The UT Tower with the UT Tower Memorial in the foreground, a remembrance of the victims of the shooting that happened over 50 years ago:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the tour, we grabbed lunch on the drag, and then mosied over to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to experience chicken shit bingo.   We didn’t win 🙂  But it was fun to cross that off my bucket list.

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Back home, we mournfully watched the Seahawks lose to the Rams.   Keeto is very broken up about it.

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!

Late summer lake day.

We are about a week away from the end of summer here in our Central Texas home. Today we motored over to the Lake Travis In-the-Water Boat Show on Cupholder. Turns out we were the only sailboat.

We did tour a 45′ $880K+ motor cruiser. Nice RV. I’m sure it throws a horrendous wake.

Then Kurt and Barbara rescued us and took us out for a drive in their new red convertible. Awesome!!

The view from Lake Travis Steak House:

A day in the ATX.

I joined Rachel and Becky on their second day in Austin.

Monte made crepes for breakfast. Then we headed out.

Spelunking at Inner Space Caverns:

Boot shopping at Allen’s Boots:Zilker Botanical Garden:

Chillin’ at Barton Springs Pool:

Mural tour:

Boot scootin at the Broken Spoke:

Mr. Dale Watson:

Good night Austin!

Old friend.

Today Monte, Kurt and I sailed Cupholder to our favorite cove, to check out the reopened and recently upgraded Arkansas Bend Park.  We walked ashore and checked out the new bath houses, parking lot, playground, and campsites.  I checked on a couple of my geocaches.  We anchored and floated for a while.  It was nice to experience the lake again from our favorite wooden boat.

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Portsmouth & Norfolk.

After taking care of the boat yesterday, Lori and I walked around historic Portsmouth. This place is rich with history, homes dating back to the 1700s.

I haven’t talked much about the heat here, but it has been brutally hot and humid for the last two weeks. The east coast is covered with heat advisories. So, while we walked around town, the streets were deserted. The only other folks we ran into were cruisers from another sailboat we passed yesterday. No matter, it was fun to get out and walk around. And last night a front blew through, bringing cooler temps (and rain).

Today we took a foot ferry across the Elizabeth River to Norfolk.

We toured the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin that is on display there.

This ship played important roles in WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm. Amazing; six decades of service.

I am headed back home today.  Thanks for the adventure, Lori!

 

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2 week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)