Celebrate.

This week we drove down to Houston to celebrate the birthday and anniversary of friends of ours, Asha and Shekhar.

I’ve known Asha for over 35 years, which seems strange just typing that. We were roommates way back when. We ended up moving to the same state, though different cities. She’s always reached out to remain connected over the years, and for that, I am thankful. I’ve enjoyed her family as it grew over the years, attending her wedding, and getting to know her husband and her strong, successful daughters as they’ve grown up.

Happy Birthday Asha, and Happy Anniversary Asha and Shekhar!

Ganesh – remover of obstacles, do your thing!

Two more parks.

We drove straight to Colorado on the way north, about a 15-hour drive, and stayed with Julie in Denver for a night. Then we headed to Gene and Jo’s for two nights. We made a side trip to Estes Park as well. The family get-together was very special.

On the way back south we had another nice visit with Julie.

Dinner and desserts with Julie in Denver.

Then we broke up the long trip home into a couple of days including stops at two national parks.

Great Sand Dunes National Park – snow on the dunes
White Sands National Park – a truly unique place

We stayed in Ft. Davis for a night with a reservation to attend one of the McDonald Observatory’s star parties. The skies were not cooperative for viewing at the observatory, but we had fun.

McDonald Observatory socked in with clouds.

We left Ft Davis on Wednesday well before dawn, and on the drive up to I-10, I noticed that the clouds parted, opening up a clear, starry sky. So we pulled over in the middle of pitch-dark range land with coyotes howling all around and enjoyed a full-sky view of the Milky Way.

We enjoyed the view for a few minutes and then resumed our drive. A few minutes later the skies were filled in with thick clouds again. It was a treat to get that brief moment of star gazing.

A successful road trip, but it’s always nice to get back home.

What a crew!

Well, it happened! Monte and I went on a road trip together for the first time since before COVID. We drove to Colorado for a family gathering of Gene and Jo’s entire posse. It was really a treat to be there. Lots of special people. Many laughs, stories, and hugs.

Out with the old.

And in with the new! We are firmly in the Subaru camp. The outback is a fantastic car.

Adiós to our very sweet 2010

We are knee deep in user manuals. Stay tuned. But we are again imminently Road-Trip Enabled!!

And the beautiful new 2023!

Spring break.

We took our friends Tim & Fiona and their three kids sailing on Nirvana today. We’ve done it many times over the years during their Spring Break holidays.

The kids are now 13 or 14, and 19 years old. It’s amazing to watch them grow up. They all have an intuitive feel for the helm. Monte and I didn’t need to steer much at all. It was a beautiful day for a nice long sail. I’m glad we got to spend it with them.

Old dogs learning new tricks.

Monte and I both hang on to the cars we buy a long, looong time – one is 26 years old, the new one is 13 years old. It’s time for some new blood in the garage.

We’ve been thinking about getting an electric vehicle, as much of our driving trips are less than 70-miles roundtrip (to the lake and back) and much shorter errand-trips around town. We have been shopping for a month or two. Last week we found one we were looking for in San Antonio. So on a wild hair, we hopped into the fossil-fuel vehicle (ironic, right?) and drove 75 miles to see it, sit in it, test drive it. We liked it, so we brought it home!

We picked a Chevy Bolt EV. Pretty roomy. It’ll hold our boat loads to and from the marina (ice chest and our bags) and lots of room for groceries and other things.

Nice!

Quick trip.

I had an opportunity to visit two more National Parks this week. Lori and Mike are driving to Arizona to visit her sister, and planned to visit two parks I’d yet to see. So, I stowed away in their backseat on Wednesday morning. We drove all day, staying in Van Horn, Texas for the night.

A Say’s Phoebe singing to me outside the Van Horn hotel

Thursday we took a short detour north to see Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We crossed into New Mexico to see it, and the underground caverns are stunning.

One of the too many photos I took inside the amazing Big Room cave chamber at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

After the caverns we turned around and headed back south. We hiked the Devil’s Hall trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park on our way back up I-10.

Guadelupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, aka the ‘Top of Texas,’ the highest natural point in the Lone Star State

We stayed in El Paso for the night, my first time visiting this border town. Our hotel had an amazing rooftop bar with great views.

This morning I flew back home. Lori and Mike are continuing on west. That was a whirlwind 48 hour trip. And two more Parks in the bag!

NY to MD.

Three weeks ago, Lori and I flew to New York City to move S/V Trident south to Cambridge, MD.

It was raining when we arrived. We joined 50+ other boats waiting in Manhasset Bay for the weather to improve. But after one day of hunkering on the boat on a mooring ball, and one day of provisioning, a good weather window opened for a few days. On day 3 we were blessed with a sunny, clear day as we went down the East River, highlighted in my last post.

We ended that day at anchor at Atlantic Highlands, NJ with the rest of the transient fleet moving south. We left at sunset on day 4, for a sporting overnight run down the coast of NJ to Cape May. We enjoyed strong Northwest winds and a bright full-moon to light the way.

We spent one night at anchor in Cape May Harbor, then moved to South Jersey Marina for one night, for a walkabout, a bike ride, a geocache (my first in NJ!), a shower, and dinner ashore.

On day 7, we departed Cape May at the morning’s slack tide and headed up Delaware bay, with both the wind and a several-knot current on our nose, making for a slow, long day of motoring. We made it about halfway up, anchoring in the mouth of the Cohansey River on the NJ-side of the bay.

Day 8 took us from Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay, via the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, in which sailing is not allowed, so another day of motoring. We went as far south as we could, anchoring at sunset in Worton Creek on the NE shore of Chesapeake Bay.

With anchor up on day 9, we had a chance to sail down Chesapeake Bay, and up the Choptank River, arriving at Cambridge, MD near sunset.

SV Pride of Baltimore sailing past Thomas Point Shoal Light near Annapolis

We anchored outside the town, in the river, on the first night and then moved into the town’s harbor to anchor on day 9.

For the next 5 days, we busted our butts to get Trident ready for haulout for the winter. We lowered and stowed 3 sails, removed the bimini, secured the bimini frame, consolidated and removed all the foodstuffs, linens, and appliances, removed the outboard motor, cleaned the boat topsides and below, changed the oil & filters, topped off diesel, prepped the freshwater system for winterization, and worked on completing the long todo lists.

Trident in Cambridge harbor before being stripped for haulout

We worked hard, but dinghied to shore with the bikes and explored the town a bit, too. Renting a U-haul truck for a few days worked out great, which we used to move all the offloaded items to a temperature-controlled storage unit.

We enjoyed dinner ashore with Teri & Jim, who graciously drove 2+ hours from Washington, DC to meet up with us. It was so great to catch up.

We also got in a few visits with Edwin, who will be leaving Cambridge to join the Salty Dog Rally to Antigua on Nov 1st, on his boat S/V Frog’s Leap.

A stubbed toe, several bruises and sore muscles later, Lori backed the boat up to the dock at Yacht Maintenance Company in Cambridge for haulout, some maintenance, winterizing, and shrinkwrapping for the winter.

Lori and Mike will return in May to put Trident back in cruising shape and take her back north to cruise through Maine for the summer.

Another fun adventure in the books.

Pickup party.

Every three months we take a drive through the Texas hill country to pick up our wine club package. The May pickup party was lovely. The weather was beautiful. The nibblies were delicious. We made a few other stops and enjoyed a really lovely day.

Many birds, and one bummer.

This week I headed to the Gulf Coast of Texas in search of birds. Doray met me at High Island a day before a cold front was expected, which is a good thing if your goal is to see some colorful birds during Spring migration. On an ordinary day, the migrants just keep flying north once they cross the Gulf of Mexico – they’re on a mission. In the face of strong northerly winds and inclement weather, they will stop for a bit on the first land they come across to rest, which, for many migrants, are the woods on High Island.

Over the course of 3 days, I logged nearly 100 unique species of birds; a real treat for this birder. Doray and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On Wednesday, Doray was heading home, and I was staying an extra day. We decided to stop in together at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to see what we could see, and then go our separate ways. As I got into my car to head back to High Island, I was greeted by a flat tire. In the middle of pretty much nowhere.

The red star is where I ended up with a flat.

Changing a tire is not daunting. My dad showed me how to change a flat when I bought my first used vehicle way back when, and I’ve changed many a tire since then. However, this flat was a teensy bit more challenging due to a jammed lug nut, which didn’t want to come off. Eventually, the lug nut and bolt broke off. Which was not great. BUT if it hadn’t broken off, I would not have been able to change the tire at all. Silver linings! 🙂 So, I changed the tire. Doray stayed with me till I figured out my next move, which was to drive back to my hotel on the emergency spare and then get the tire fixed. Driving on the emergency spare is slow going. Driving with 4 of 5 lug nuts was a little concerning. But, in the end, everything worked out great. The repaired tire and one missing lug nut were enough to get me back home safely the next day, and the dealer is fixing the broken bits as I type this.

My 3rd day of birding was cut short, but it was a great trip, seeing many, many colorful warblers and other migrating birds. I didn’t get many bird photos to share here, but they are forever in my mind’s eye.

Thanks, Dad!

The next best thing.

I visited my family in Washington State last month. I had planned to get my first ever amazing pics of the tulip fields in Skagit Valley, but it was a tad too early.

Here’s a lovely field of daffodils in bloom instead. 💛

Happy Earth Day!

New Place.

I ventured down south this week to check out The Austin Winery’s tasting room. It is on St. Elmo off South Congress. It’s surrounded by lots of other spots to visit, a food truck, outdoor patio, and a big, open warehouse space inside. Pick a tasting trio of wines, a glass, or a bottle, and nice nibblies.

It’s a nice spot to enjoy happy hour. Check ‘em out!

Fredericksburg trip.

The warm weather that persisted through the end of last year is now replaced by cooler temps. So, it’s starting to feel a bit more like winter.

Noreen and David came for a visit last week. They stayed with Julie, but I got a good visit in with them.

We spent one cold, drizzly day in Fredericksburg, a German-heritage Hill Country town I’m always happy to visit.

The Maibaum (May pole) in Fredericksburg’s Marketplatz stays up all year long and is decorated with scenes depicting the town’s heritage.

A look back at my 2021.

A year ago, it was anyone’s guess how 2021 would roll out after the cluster that was the year 2020. Today I paused to reflect on a few of the memories I captured from the last twelve months.

January – I started to direct my energy towards making things and sewing. I asked Monte to make me a rack for my growing collection of spools of thread. It turned out perfect, as usual, and has been well used by me over the last 12 months.

February – The deep freeze descended upon Texas. We were incredibly lucky to not have lost power during the prolonged freeze. So many people were really hurting during the weeklong outages. I can’t deny that I loved the temporary snowscape around the house. But I was happy to see it go.

March – The power across the state eventually came back on. The weather warmed up. Things started to bloom. The leaves fell and were raked up. I think we set a record for leaf bags set out on the curb. The City of Austin yard waste collection crew even took a picture of our curbside menagerie.

April – Incredibly, a year after this shit-storm started, COVID vaccines were available to the masses, and we got in line. For both of us, the reactions were pretty mild. The worst thing I can report is a temperature of 100 degrees F.

May – I flew to Charleston to help Lori take Trident north to Annapolis. We had some great days and nights on the water, including several legs on the outside. Sadly, my precious little Keeto died while I was away. Nearly 10 years old, it was still too soon. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for my sweet baby bird. And I’m sorry Monte had to go through it alone. It still brings a tear to my eye. He was just the best bird ever.

June – Nirvana received lots of TLC. A prolonged bottom job. New batteries. Scheduled maintenance undertaken by me and Monte. Inverter replacement. Cushion repairs. Some new running rigging. And many hours with friends and family spent on her this year.

July – We had fun family visits this month; the first since the pandemic descended. And, as we do every year, we took a boatload out on Lake Travis to watch the July 4th fireworks.

August – Monte and I continued enjoying Nirvana and the lake throughout the summer. One week, we spent several days sailing 30 miles upstream, anchoring up around mile marker 44. Our goal was to watch the Perseids meteor shower. We did see some meteors. It was just nice to be out and about on the boat so much this summer.

September – We crewed for Kurt & Kevin for the Austin Yacht Club Fall Series Regatta on Camelot. We helped them nab 2nd place for their class in the end. Huzzah!!

October – I flew up to Baltimore to join Lori on Trident for the Annapolis Sailboat Show, my first. This was more of a for-fun trip than a move-the-boat trip, and I really enjoyed the two day trip we took sailing to St. Michaels and back across Chesapeake Bay. After the boat show, we drove back together to Austin, stopping at 4 US National Parks along the way. Amazing!

November – We enjoyed more time out and about this fall. Monte took me curling for my birthday. We both had loads of fun. And I think we’ll do it again!

December – Wow, the year flew by. Again. We took another boatload out for the Christmas boat parade. Unfortunately, COVID fears are starting to seep back into our lives. But I really hope that by this time next year there are many more fun outings and visits under my belt. I just can’t take another lockdown.

Time flies. We are immensely blessed. It’s easy to complain about the events swirling around us, but I’m focused on celebrating the small day-to-day good times that we spend together and with friends and family.

I wish you all an amazing, healthy, and happy 2022.

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