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. 🙂
Monte and I spent a couple nights at anchor on the lake this week. We chose to avoid the wake-heavy holiday weekend. It was hazy, I guess from the Saharan dust remnants in the air. But it was lovely. Keeto enjoyed it, too. We’ve launched the kayak for the summer, so I have resumed my treasure-hunt-paddling around the coves. I was rewarded yesterday with this long lost 11 lb. Lewmar claw anchor and stainless steel tackle that someone had to cut loose at some point months ago when the lake was much higher.
And we were rewarded again with this treasure at sunset last night.
I planted this impatiens last spring. I typically lose my annuals over the winter and just plant new ones in the spring. I babied this one through our warm winter and it has rewarded me with these beautiful late-winter blooms.
I truly enjoy the trees in our yard. But, there are many of them, and they collectively drop billions and gazillions of leaves every year. Over the last day or two, we raked and scooped up 5 or more trailer-loads of those bad boys – a good workout. Our new pile-o-leaves (and future garden soil):
I can’t complain though. It has been lovely outside. Today the temps were close to 70 degrees F. Thankfully, cedar pollen levels are below the threshold that triggers my allergies. As I sit here, sore and tired, I’m sipping a glass of wine listening to the news guys report on the cold and snowy weather up north. Yeah, I’ll take yard work in the winter in Austin over that any day.
Day 13 – We are still tied up at a boatyard waiting for the Belt Line Railway Bridge at MM2.5 to open. Below, we are second from the left, boats waiting…
We haven’t been idle, though. This morning Lori went for a run, I found a geocache, and walked through a nearby wooded park.
We are in an area called Great Bridge. The nearby historical markers tell a story of the first-ever Revolutionary land battle in Virginia Colony which was fought right here. And we won! The British forces were repelled with great losses, and that was the first victory for the American colonies in the war.
This afternoon we cleaned the boat top-sides and inside. Laundry, showers ashore, and then a lovely dinner of tapas and wine at a restaurant less than a mile away.
We learned tonight that the bridge is now OPEN!! We will leave in the morning to travel these last 12 miles. One last sunset on the canal!
I’ve enjoyed chatting with our temporary dock neighbors. Everyone has a story to tell.
Day 12 – 5 bridges. 37 miles. So close, but yet so far. Lori and I got up this morning at 5AM and were off the dock by sunrise.
We knew it would be a challenge today: maintaining a good average speed, the number of bridges, one lock, and some of them only open on the hour. But as of 2pm, we were ahead of schedule! We had worked so hard today to eek every tenth of a knot of speed from the sails. Then, just 12 miles from our destination of MM 0, we learned over VHF from a benevolent bridge tender that the last bridge up ahead that we needed to pass through today, at MM2.5, was stuck in the down position since yesterday. ETA for opening: 0700 Monday morning. Ack! Today is Saturday.
Luckily we were right next to one of only two dockage options for the night, so we hailed them on the radio and asked if they had room, and they did.
So, here we sit, VERY close to ground zero, but having to wait it out. We have electricity, food, and wine, so all is good.
But MAN we were so close!!!
On a positive note, I saw lots of flying things! 🙂
Day 10 – 3 bridges. 53 miles. There is 20-ish mile man-made land cut between the Pungo River and the Alligator River on the ICW. It’s very straight, and surrounded by tall pine trees.
This was the last section of the ICW to be completed in the 1920s to allow inland passage between Norfolk to Miami. We took that cut today and were able to put the jib up for an extra knot or so. Along the way, we slid past bald eagles, Canada geese, white-tailed deer, and many small birds.
After exiting the land cut we sailed up the Alligator River, which is huge. We had wind-driven waves but luckily they were on our stern, so it made for comfortable sailing.
As we turned off the ICW to anchor, a hellacious squall arrived. Lori saw 32+ knots as I was on the bow dropping anchor in the rain. Trident’s anchor held like a champ, as usual. We were treated to a double rainbow for our efforts.
We are anchored tonight right where the Alligator River joins Albemarle Sound, which we will transit tomorrow. It’s the last big body of open water that we cross on this trip.
Day 8 – 3 bridges. 22 miles. We finished up last-minute chores this morning, and left the slip at slack tide, around 2pm. Goodbye Beaufort! The string of signal flags on the flagpole at Beaufort Docks Marina spell out B-E-A-U-F-O-R-T. 🙂
Since we left in the afternoon, today was a short mileage day. Along the way, we passed lots of small boats and shrimpers.
But we took a looong time to get there. We pulled out the jib and gained two or more knots. Tonight we are at anchor off the Neuse River, in the mouth of the South River. We anchored exactly at sunset here. A few minutes later, the full moon rose over the trees. Just beautiful!
Day 5 – 5 bridges. 56 miles. The new thing today was having to time our arrival at bridges that only open on the hour, or on the hour and half hour.
We had to dodge some hellacious thunder and lightning storms by doing circles for a bit. The currents seemed to be fickle today. There are so many inlets to and from the Atlantic that one minute we’ll have the tide with us. But then we cross an inlet, and the current turns against us. Where inlets and rivers cross the ICW, sand builds up into shallow shoals, some are quite large and stick up above the surface of the water. We passed this one where the locals had erected a flag, a palm tree, and a parking meter with a cleat on the side for boats to tie up. 🙂
The ICW in these parts flows right past the United States Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune. The ICW is sometimes closed here for hours due to live ammunition fire exercises.
There were no live-fire exercises today, thankfully. We had originally planned to anchor right off the ICW here for the night. But, we had to abandon that plan due to the anchorage being closed for military exercises. We saw a space-age amphibious vehicle enter right in front of us.
I wonder what they would have done if we pulled in there to anchor. 🙂
So we continued 15 miles farther north than we’d planned to be today, and are now at a lovely anchorage at the town of Swansboro. We grilled kebabs, watched a wedding reception on the waterfront, watched our boat swing until the currents changed 3 hours after high tide, and took in another lovely sunset.
Day 4 – 2 bridges. 30 miles. We got off the dock easily this morning and headed on our way by 9AM. Every stretch of the ICW has been a little different each day. Today took us through the Cape Fear River. We had the tide against us for a couple hours and it was slow going through mostly sea-like conditions in the wide and deep shipping lanes.
We then turned back up into the ICW. Lori found a website where the Corps of Engineers posts images of current depth soundings all along the ICW, which provide the latest status on shoals and problem areas. We referred to that along the way. So we knew we were in for a couple of very low stretches today. We actually bumped bottom once today! The red and orange marks in the middle of the screenshot below indicate only 4 to 5-foot depths at mean-low-tide stretching across the entire width of the ICW channel. We draw 5 feet. AND we were hitting this stretch at low tide. Exciting!
We pulled into Wrightsville just in time to get hit by our first thunderstorm/deluge as we were anchoring. Not bad. I’ll take it.
We grilled on the boat and rocked out until sunset. It was another lovely night.