On our way home this weekend, we stopped in a small town called Eagle Lake when we passed a meat market that was boiling up some crawfish. Maxwell’s Meat Market cooks them up on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays when they’re in season. We indulged. The crawfish were big and perfectly seasoned. Purty dang good! I got my fix for a while.
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.
Then we broke up the long trip home into a couple of days including stops at two national parks.
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.
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.
Se me transporta atrás…
It takes me back…
Monte and I have been enjoying a show on PBS called La Otra Mirada. We have started watching the second season. It is set in a girls’ school in Sevilla, Spain in the 1920s. It’s a drama, I suppose, with humor and lots of pro-girl inspiration and empowerment messages mixed in. The actors speak in Spanish, but English subtitles are available.
I have enjoyed the story that unfolds in the show, but I have also been very much enjoying listening to the dialogue in Spanish. Even though Sevilla is in Andalusia, most of the actors speak with the Castillian accent which is what I was most exposed to. It really takes me back to my time living in Madrid.
In a number of scenes members of the local police make appearances, the Guardia Civíl – with rifles, funky black hats, and all. That reminded me of something that I wanted to show Monte. So, during one commercial break, I ran into my office and unearthed a set of Spanish mud people that I have been dragging around for over 40 years.
They are adorable.
NYC from the water.
Today Lori and I left Port Washington and took Trident down the East River to an anchorage near Sandy Hook, NJ. I have been to Manhattan many times but today got a really unique view of many of its sites from the water.
The most meaningful, to me, was going close by Ellis Island and the Status of Liberty. In 1951 my father sailed into New York Harbor from Ireland and saw them for the first time. He was just 21 years old.
The surrounding views have changed over the years, but the promise remains the same.
Last weekend Monte and I sailed up river about 30 miles from our marina. We left on Saturday morning, minutes after a thunderstorm rolled through. The calm after the storm made for breezes on our nose, so we motor sailed most of the way.
Kurt and Kevin joined us on their boat. We anchored up together in a cove below John and Wendy’s lake house. We fished, paddled, floated, and enjoyed catching up with some friends we haven’t seen in a very long time. The sail back home on Sunday was sporting, to say the least. The winds had clocked around and were 5-10 gusting to 20. Good sailing, but lots of grinding on some legs. I was sound asleep about 15 minutes after we got home that night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After the park, we drove another 9 1/2 hours to Little Rock. One more National Park and then home tomorrow.
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).
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.
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.
On Friday we did boat work from sunrise to sunset. A long day of hard work, but we enjoyed dinner out downtown.
Today we are attending some of the seminars at the boat show. More later.
Yesterday Monte and I drove out the Texas wine trail to our favorite wine-club vineyard to pick up our May box of wine. It’s a big deal for us. We’ve deferred picking up our wine boxes for over a year because of COVID. But the winery is now open by appointment, so I booked us for a pickup, a tasting, and some lovely charcuterie.
I’ve missed our drives out here. The visit to the winery was very nice. The wine was delicious, we saw the tail end of some lovely wildflowers, did a little antiquing, and grumbled about the return of traffic on the way home.