The next best thing.

I visited my family in Washington State last month. I had planned to get my first ever amazing pics of the tulip fields in Skagit Valley, but it was a tad too early.

Here’s a lovely field of daffodils in bloom instead. 💛

Happy Earth Day!

Fredericksburg trip.

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.

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.)

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