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.

Bath house row.
Some of the original springs. And fountains placed to dispense the spring water. It really is warm, right out of the ground.
A trough where spring water is fed to the bath houses.
Spas of yesteryear.

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.

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!

…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.

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.

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.

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.

On the move.

This weekend brought Julie back to Texas! 🙂 But, it was only to pack up the contents of a couple of storage units into a U-Haul and head right back to Washington. 😦 She has a great new job up there.

Though I’m sad to see her go, I think Texas has a way of calling one back, after a while, so I’ll keep hoping. Bon voyage! I pray that Mother Nature takes it easy on them over the next few days as they make their way through the mountains.

Uber oops.

When I was catching up with Lori in Charleston, one of the things she mentioned was that Mike had left his phone in their Uber on their last trip.  I sympathized as I listened, thinking what a pain it would have been to try to get it back.  Well, as luck would have it, I ended up doing the exact same thing three days later!!

We had just tied up at the marina in Savannah.  I took a quick shower and tidied up.  Then we all bundled into an Uber in the rain to get to Amy Lee’s office to meet up with her and Chris.   We enjoyed a really great tour of the historic building that they had restored in Savannah.  Then Amy Lee drove us around, giving us a wonderful car-tour that only a decades-long Savannah resident could conduct.  Eventually, I patted my jacket pocket, dug through the day-pack that I brought from the boat, only to realize that… I couldn’t find my phone.  Lori called my number.  We didn’t hear it ring.  It wasn’t in our car.   Most likely scenario… it probably fell out in the Uber that I had summoned with my phone an hour or two prior.

How was I going to get my phone back?

– Amy Lee called her offices to see if I had dropped it there.   Nope.  And then she graciously continued our car-tour, while I tried to figure out how to locate my phone from the back seat, and get it back before we had to depart for Brunswick the next day.

– I borrowed Monte’s phone and installed the Uber app, and tried to logon to my account, but I couldn’t recall my password (seriously?!).

–  Then I tried to logon to my gmail account via Monte’s phone to see if I had received a message from Uber about my phone.  But I couldn’t recall my gmail password (OMG!).

– In the meantime, I sent my phone a text from Monte’s phone saying that if someone found my phone, to please call Monte’s number.

IMG_0013

– Then, Lori asked me if I had Find-my-iphone service installed on my phone.  Yes, I did!   A quick google search told me that I could use icloud.com/find to logon to my apple ID via a web browser and it would help me locate my device.  Mercifully, I was able to remember the correct password to my Apple ID.  So I was able to logon and quickly saw that my iPhone was in the vicinity but on the move.  Brilliant!  We tried to track down my phone’s Uber based on the phone’s location, but it was moving faster than we were.  So, I used the iCloud.com find-my-phone utility to ping my phone, which sounded an audible alarm on my phone, wherever it was.

Within 5 minutes Monte’s phone rang.  A person in the Uber had heard the alarm, found my phone wedged between the backseat and the door, picked it up, saw the text message I had sent, and called Monte’s phone from their own phone.   A few minutes later we met up at an agreed-to location for me to get my phone back.   I was very lucky.  And I was oh so thankful for the outcome. The ordeal had lasted about 30 minutes.  I tipped the Uber driver again when she handed me my phone, and we went our separate ways.

Take from this story what you will.  Turn on your phone’s find utility if you have one.  commit a few passwords to memory.  Make sure your phone is secure in your pocket or bag.  And travel with a friend with a phone.  🙂

 

 

Portsmouth & Norfolk.

After taking care of the boat yesterday, Lori and I walked around historic Portsmouth. This place is rich with history, homes dating back to the 1700s.

I haven’t talked much about the heat here, but it has been brutally hot and humid for the last two weeks. The east coast is covered with heat advisories. So, while we walked around town, the streets were deserted. The only other folks we ran into were cruisers from another sailboat we passed yesterday. No matter, it was fun to get out and walk around. And last night a front blew through, bringing cooler temps (and rain).

Today we took a foot ferry across the Elizabeth River to Norfolk.

We toured the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin that is on display there.

This ship played important roles in WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm. Amazing; six decades of service.

I am headed back home today.  Thanks for the adventure, Lori!

 

(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.)

MM0!

Day 14 – 8 bridges. 1 lock. 12 miles. On the road, again! We left the dock right before the 7AM opening of the Battlefield Bridge.

Immediately after the bridge is Great Bridge Lock connecting the freshwater Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal to the south, and the saltwater Elizabeth River to the north, lowering us one foot as we traveled north.

After this, there was only one more bridge for which we had to time our arrival, as it doesn’t open during morning rush hour.

All the other bridges are either fixed or are usually in the open position; even the bridge that delayed our arrival.  Below, you can see Norfolk beyond the formerly broken bridge.

We got an up-close view of Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Est. 1767!) as we motored past.

It felt really good to pull into Trident’s new home slip. Mission accomplished!

The next post in our ICW journey:  https://sheila365.com/2019/07/23/portsmouth-norfolk/

(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.)

Virginia.

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.

The next post in our ICW journey:  https://sheila365.com/2019/07/22/mm0/

(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.)

MM12.

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! 🙂

A bald eagle on watch at dawn…

Juvenile ospreys…

More geese…

And a bi-plane…

The next post in our ICW journey:  https://sheila365.com/2019/07/21/virginia/

(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.)