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!

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.

Up a creek.

Yesterday Kurt, Kevin, Monte, and I went for a long sail on Nirvana. We went past Starnes Island and up Sandy Creek to grab dinner at Shack 512. Nice spot. And a great day!

Half and half.

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Today is July 1st, and you can either consider that the year is half over, or there is an entire half a year left. I will take the latter view. Time does fly by, but I’m trying to enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

We’ve been busy. Working on house projects, boat projects, yard work, getting out and enjoying the lake, and, thankfully, finally spending time with friends face to face again.

The dishwasher conked out, and we installed the new one ourselves, as the first available installation appointment was weeks out. No thank you. AND, it works!

We’re enjoying the boat. The lake and our favorite coves are busy and packed with boats, but we’ve figured out that if we head out to anchor right before sunset, the majority of people have headed home. So, we have plenty of room to anchor and enjoy a peaceful sunset.

Monte’s below watching golf as I motor us over to Arky North.

I got together with friends to celebrate Laura’s birthday in Lori’s new home. Getting this up close and personal with people outside my bubble a year ago was unthinkable. I’m glad we are where we are now. We played some fun new games that Tina introduced us to. This is an action shot from “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza,” a fun, silly, fast-paced game. I recommend it if you’re looking for a fun game to play with a bunch of your vaccinated friends. 🙂

Buon viaggio!

We moved Trident to her slip Friday, just an hour or two before a hellacious storm front moved through. We were rocking and rolling at night, but we were safely tied up in the marina. It’s been raining here ever since.

We were so fortunate with the weather window that we had for the prior 2 weeks. We really had no crazy weather to speak of while we were on the move. Thanks mom! 🙂

We walked around in the rain on Saturday just because it was the only day I had to explore the town. We visited a couple art galleries and wine bars and uber-ed home, falling asleep while watching Master and Commander for the millionth time.

Nibblies!

Today is Sunday, and I’m flying home. Happy to close the book on another adventure with my sailing sister. I’m looking forward to spending a new summer on Nirvana with Monte.

Day 12. Arrival Day.

We had a short day on Thursday, arriving in Annapolis around 12:30PM. The city has a mooring field in front of the US Naval Academy, and we grabbed one of the balls for the night. Mission accomplished – or nearly. Tomorrow we will move Trident into a slip in a marina. Lori will keep the boat here until November.

Annapolis mooring field

Annapolis is called the sailing capital of the United States, and they aren’t kidding. Lots of sailboats here of all shapes and sizes. We watched the J boat fleets head out into the harbor for a regatta.

J-boat races

This is Easterner, built in 1958, and competed in the America’s Cup Defender series in 1958, 1962, and 1964. That mahogany hull is beautiful.

Harbor cruise on a schooner…

We took a water taxi to the city dock and walked around the quaint downtown, then enjoyed dinner on-board.

We have arrived!

Days 9 through 11.

We picked up the anchor at sunrise Monday morning and enjoyed some good sailing across Albemarle Sound and Currituck Sound.

Lunch nibblies aboard

We hit the last bridge openings before rush hour and tied up at Atlantic Yacht Basin in time to watch the local rowing club practice alongside us.

For dinner we biked to a fantastic Italian restaurant for a delicious meal ashore.

Yummmmm

Tuesday morning we caught the 7AM bridge opening at Great Bridge and followed the parade of boats and geese into the lock beyond the bridge for the one foot rise in water level between the canal and the Elizabeth River beyond it.

We reached mile marker 0 of the ICW in Norfolk and kept going on past it and into Chesapeake Bay for some more good sailing. We anchored in the Piankatank River, on the west side of Chesapeake Bay for the night.

Sunset on the Piankatank River

Wednesday we picked up anchor at sunrise again, trying to get as far north as possible before sunset.

We crossed into Maryland before noon, and raced a thunderstorm into our anchorage at the Choptank River on the east side of the bay.

We made it before the rain and high winds came, and watched the full moon rise after the storm passed.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we will arrive at our destination. Annapolis, here comes Trident and her crew!

Days 1, 2, and 3.

We left Seabrook, South Carolina, on Sunday morning, taking the ICW to Charleston. We spent an hour or two getting fuel and a pump out, and then picked a spot in Charleston Harbor to anchor for the night.

Sunset at Charleston Harbor

Monday morning we left at first light, headed for Winyah Bay. We sailed on the outside with wind pretty close on our nose. We anchored near Georgetown Light.

Today, Tuesday, we are opting to stay at anchor for another day, as the weather offshore will be more favorable for where we want to go. The wind should shift from the NE to the East tomorrow making it easier to sail on a NE heading.

We’ll leave tomorrow for an overnight to Cape Lookout. More later.

Two more canvas projects.

Last year one of the catboat’s trailer tires wore out, due mostly to UV damage, and sitting on the dirt. It now has a new set of radials, for which Monte requested covers.

Today I got around to making them, out of captain navy sunbrella. Voila! The squirrels better not mess with these!

Project #2 was a new grill cover for S/V Trident’s Magma grill out of forest green sunbrella reclaimed from one of Lori’s old dodger window cover panels.

Now I guess I have no more excuses to keep me from finishing my taxes…

Cheers to a new year.

I met up with some friends in Laura’s backyard today to cheer in the new year and to wish Doray a happy birthday.

Let’s hope 2021 is amazing. But I’ll take at least better than last year.

Cheers!

Old times.

Google tells me that the 18th century Scots phrase “auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since,” or roughly to “old times” or “old times past” in English. As I was looking back through photos from 2020, I found one from New Year’s Day 2020 that perfectly depicts the old times, in stark contrast to the times we live in now, post-COVID.

This was taken a year ago at Ann’s New Year’s Day party; a very casual, annual, bring-whatever-leftovers-you-have, game-day get together with friends. I look forward to it every year. But not this year, sadly. This picture really reminds me how long it’s been since I hung out with a bunch of people, in close quarters, heads together, laughing and hugging, with no masks, or worries (other than, perhaps, a lingering hangover). I do hope we get back to this, eventually. Soon. We simply must.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

CBC 2020.

‘Tis the season of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count! I met up with Doray and a team of birders at Reimer Ranch yesterday. We hiked all day and saw so many birds. The first half of the day was cold, but by 4:30pm I had shed 3 layers. The former ranch, now a park, overlooks the Pedernales River. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.

Pretty hill country cold-weather view