Rise and shine.

Today’s morning sun illuminates the blooms on my Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) also known as Red Bird of Paradise.   Whichever, it’s gorgeous.

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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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A real treat.

I ventured out to get my first real birding of the year in.   Oh, I’m always looking for birds, but “real birding” means that I bring my binoculars and my camera.   The Golden-cheeked warbler nests exclusively in Central Texas, and there are preserves that are closed to the general public during their breeding season of Feb-July, during which they are only accessible to those with permits.  Welllllll.  I have had a permit for several years and took advantage of it today to get away from people and find me some birdies.

I was treated to my first of season golden-cheeked warbler:

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A very vocal, but elusive white-eyed vireo.  I caught him here mid-song:

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And one of many blue-grey gnatcatchers.  They are so tiny, vocal, and always moving!  This one stopped long enough for me to get a blurry picture:

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Nice.  Very nice.  🙂

Aloft!

Okay, I’m a tiny bit ecstatic. I finished the mainsail repairs today. And the slow, endless rain of the last week or so has moved on. So we drove out to the marina and tied the main back on, then took Nirvana out for a sail for the first time in about 3 months. We hoisted both the main and the jib. It was the first time taking Nirvana out since I repaired each of the sails. The winds were light, but I loved seeing them out and in the wind.

Light of day.

During winter, the low, rising sun shoots a blinding ray of morning light through the east-facing windows on the house.   An illuminating spotlight passes through the house quickly.  I caught this moment as I was walking through the living room this morning.  I could almost see the light move slowly across the wall as I stopped to take the picture.

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Dawn of a new decade.

This is one of my favorite sunrise pictures from last year.  It is from the trip up the Keys;  I took it as we pulled up anchor at Rodriquez Key, just off Key Largo.   It is a beautiful, colorful image of the sun’s glow on the horizon at dawn.  It’s a good image to have in mind at the start of this brand new decade.  I’m not sure what the next ten years will bring, but I’m ready.

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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.

Nightfall.

Rachel and her friend Becky are visiting this weekend. We didn’t think we could keep up with a couple of vivacious 30-something’s in downtown Austin on a Friday night, so I dropped them downtown tonight for an evening of fun. I was treated to a view of tonight’s lovely sunset on the way home.

Lighthouses.

Today is National Lighthouse Day!  So, to give a nod to these historic and important navigation aids and the people who keep them running, here are a few I captured in the last year…

Cape Florida Lighthouse, Key Biscayne, from the outside:

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and from the inside:IMG_6877

Hopetown, Great Elbow Cay, Bahamas:IMG_7840

Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse, Westport, Washington, from the outside:

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And the inside:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Coupeville, Washington: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mukilteo, Washington:

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I look forward to capturing many more.

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Day 1 – 4 bridges. 52 miles. We decided to go 10 miles farther than we’d planned today. We are anchored in the South Santee River for the night. There is one other sloop a couple hundred feet away, which is odd since we only passed one other sailboat all day.

This is a really beautiful spot; surrounded by nature preserve on all sides. AND we, surprisingly, have two bars of cell signal!

We saw much of South Carolina’s marshy Low Country today. I logged many birds through binoculars. A Great Day!!!

A far-away view of Charleston waterfront from the harbor…

We celebrated Day 1 after we anchored with a glass of bubbles.

This is what a 63′ mast looks like when it passes under a 65′ bridge. Whoa, Nellie!  This is why we have to time our arrival at bridges to be when it is NOT high tide.

It’s beautiful here at our anchorage…

Sunset!

Next post on our ICW journey:  https://sheila365.com/2019/07/10/mm373/.

(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.)

Fireworks, family, friends, and fun.

The last few weeks have flown by.  We’ve enjoyed family in Colorado, friends and family on the lake in Austin, and are looking forward to the next adventures on the horizon.

We hosted a boatload of friends and family to watch July 3rd fireworks on Lake Travis… Photo credit to Julie 🙂

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Then Monte and I headed upriver with Kurt & Kevin, to Mile Marker 47, up near the northern end of Lake Travis.

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We anchored off Grelle Park for two nights…

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Saturday, we motored farther north to around mile marker 50 before turning back and sailing down to Bar-K Park to anchor on Saturday night.

All told, we spent 4 days and 3 nights on our lovely lake.  Keeto accompanied us; a most pleasant sailing companion.

We ended the long weekend floating with Marty & Sue, and are now home doing laundry and laughing at good times had by all.

 

Family time.

I enjoyed my extended weekend in Seattle. The wedding was the reason for the visit, but we used it as an excuse for multiple family gatherings. Noreen and David hosted rehearsal dinner on Friday, a post-wedding-reception evening party on Saturday, and a backyard BBQ with yard games on Sunday. They allowed for good visits with all my siblings, nieces and nephews, and a grand-nephew in one place – a first in a very long time.

The weather gods didn’t smile on the outdoor wedding, as it rained all afternoon. But, it was a truly lovely service and reception. God bless Neil and Miranda’s marriage. ❤️

When Memorial Day finally came along, we drove up to Paradise on Mount Rainier. It has been over 40 years since I last visited the park. We hiked a bit up the mountain, in the snow, and took in the views. It wasn’t a crystal clear, blue sky day, but it was majestic, nonetheless.

Mount Rainier National Park lodge at Longmire…

Just a pretty little waterfall…

And a prettier, bigger waterfall…

The view from the hike above Paradise, at about 6000’…

Now, I’m on my way back home. My flight flew past the north face of Mount Saint Helens. You can see the blast damage to the cone on this side of the volcano from its 1980 eruption.