Now back to our regular programming

We initially figured we wouldn’t do a post about our time off the boat, but then we later figured we’d forget stuff unless we memorialized at least a couple of things in writing and this seems like the best place.

Way back on May 7—when Millinocket, Maine, probably still was buried under six feet of snow—we left Misty Pearl in Zimmerman’s expensive but very capable hands and headed off to Nags Head for a week or so.  Very cool places along the Outer Banks.  We put it on the list of places where we might move, even if just to put those neat OBX stickers on our cars.

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They have beaches, and pickleball, and the Wright Brothers’ launch site, and delicious restaurants.  Even the Citgo gas station has good food.  We stopped there twice for the biscuits.  Dana’s effort to look at the magazines was thwarted by the wrappers, but the biscuits were awesome.

The worst thing about Nags Head is that’s where we finished the last season of Justified.  By our count there’s about $9 million missing from what Ava stole from Boyd after Boyd extorted it from Sam Elliott, who without the mustache doesn’t at all look like Sam Elliott as The Stranger who dispensed wisdom to The Dude at the bowling alley bar.  Doug tried to enlist Charlie to help look for the money up in Harlan but Charlie says he won’t go to Kentucky.  Charlie’s from Mississippi, but as the great Kristofferson noted, “Everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on.”

On the way up to D.C. we checked in with Zimmerman.  The old girl looked different out of the water, but things remained on pace to be ready for us to leave Mobjack Bay with Brent and Karen on June 8.

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755B111C-5630-4EA7-ACE5-69983DA38D17Then on up to to Georgetown for Mallory’s graduation.  Woo hoo!  We’re quite proud of The Punkin.  It’s been a good four years for her.  She bolstered her independence, made lifelong friends, obtained a valuable diploma, and all that.

One of us fears, however, that she’ll look back with more than a little regret.  Four years worth of wasted opportunity to appreciate the places where dramatic moments happened in The Exorcist.  Like Dalhgren Chapel.  Heck, we took post-commencement photos at Dahlgren Chapel without Mallory knowing anything at all about that time Linda Blair desecrated the Virgin Mary statue with a penis in there.  Mallory lived less than a hundred yards from the stairs where Father Karras committed suicide to rid himself of the demon who swapped out of Regan.  Completely lost on her.

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There should be a law requiring all Georgetown University students to watch the movie, hokey though it may be.  Oh well, their loss.

Unless one of the girls or some other family member becomes President, we ain’t going back.  However, we did discover something more harrowing than driving around D.C. in a car and then looking for a parking space.  Driving around D.C. and then looking for a parking space in a U-Haul truck is waaaaay worse.  We’d rather dock Misty Pearl in a canoe slip.  Stern first.  Without thrusters.  Blindfolded.  In a hurricane.

Anyway, with Shannon’s help we somehow got Mallory packed up and out and we escaped toward the green hills of Tennessee.  The four siblings took Mallory’s car.  Doug drove the truck.  Dana decided ten hours in a U-Haul listening to Hardcore History and then unloading the truck sounded like less fun than visiting her family in Austin for a few days, so her short car trip ended at Reagan National.

img_8002Back in Ooltewah, we rented yet another storage unit.  Of course we rented yet another storage unit, because renting storage units across the country is what we do.  And since we were back in Tennessee it seemed fitting to get this one at Billy Bob’s.  That’s not even a joke.

The trouble was, we rented it online.  (Shockingly, Billy Bob has a website.)  Doug rolled over Tuesday afternoon to sign the paperwork and unload.  “Closed on Tuesdays” says the sign on the door.  What the hell?  There should be a law against storage places being closed on weekdays.

The absolute highlight of the month was the epic Roger Alan Wade concert Lewis and Terri hosted.  Yup, he actually came and played for three hours in the backyard, with some of Doug’s friends from the old days in attendance.

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Amazingly cool, even if he did skip some of his kinda vulgar songs in deference to the children and the weak-hearted.

Next, a four-day drive up to Maine to deliver Mallory to the top of the AT.  Shannon has friends in these parts so we stopped in Portland for a couple of nights so she could visit them.  Nice kids.  

D57A60BA-7BFC-4F30-8300-482D80124F8AWe’re not from Maine and don’t know for sure, but there just might be a law requiring tourists to stop at the LL Bean mothership for gear and a photo with The Bean Boot.  So we did, just in case.

The snow was gone by the time we reached Millinocket, which counts as a “town” mostly because it has a McDonald’s.  But it’s close to Mt. Katahdin, which is the starting point for AT southbounders and which also photobombed a photo of the girls and Oscar.

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Unfortunately, snow and rain delayed the opening of Katahdin until at least June 15. Mallory wasn’t in any mood to wait around, so she started off northbound about 150-miles south, then—assuming the ticks and mosquitos don’t suck down all of her life-forces—will shuttle back to head south from where she started.  Dana hiked the first fifteen miles with her, although the last three were caused unnecessarily by the lack of cell-phone service.  Long story, but all ended well.

So now Mallory’s off on her six-month hike before starting grad school in January.  Shannon flew out of Philadelphia for her return to summer life as a paddle-board and snorkel instructor on Catalina Island before returning to Eckerd.  They’re both completely awesome.

Today we picked up the former Second Wave crew—or is it the crew from the boat formerly known as Second Wave?—in Herrington Harbor.  We’re super excited to cruise with Brent and Karen again.

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They’ll travel with us back up the Chesapeake Bay for a week or so.  Or—since the weather forecast looks pretty grim right now—maybe they’ll just sit on the boat in Zimmerman’s yard with us for a week or so.   Either way, when we finally get out of this place we’ll have just one more stop before crossing our wake at the mouth of the Potomac.

Now for the horrible part.  Old age and poor health finally caught up to little Benny in Chattanooga.  We shed many tears and probably aren’t over it yet.  He was a huge part of the family for most of the girls’ lives.  We miss him greatly.

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Will the Circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by?

So we’re THIS close to finishing The Loop.  From crossing our wake.  From completing the trip of a lifetime.  All that.  And of course those same few hours from starting the Down East Circle Loop.  We have the gold Loop burgee and the DECL burgee ready to fly.  But somehow we’ve got to get to the Potomac River first.

Sunday we had a hugely pleasant surprise when we returned from a trip to town.  From a distance we saw the unmistakable shape of a Selene 43 at Zimmerman’s.  And it wasn’t ours.  And someone wearing Terri Culy’s unmistakable trademark floppy hat was cleaning the bow.  Wait, it IS Terri’s floppy hat.  We last saw Change of Pace in West Palm Beach.  Jeff and Terri popped over to catch up.

Yesterday brought a short weather window for us to leave Mathews, so we jumped on it.

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Terri send us a photo of the departure.  Yup, Brent and Karen back on a Looper boat.  About 45 seconds after this photo, the fly bridge shifter stopped working.  What the hell?  We just had it tuned up.  Smokin’ Bob shot out on the ZMI skiff and took care of it, however, so all was good.

Given the crap weather that seems to be plaguing the Chesapeake, things were decently smooth.  Good to be back underway.

The rain came and the auto pilot acted up, but otherwise things were about normal.  The extra deck hands helped us dock at Dozier.  Take-out from what The Norm assured us was a mediocre Chinese joint was acceptable.

Way back on April 12 of last year we put Deltaville behind us after an excruciating 27 months here waiting for the chance to head up to D.C.  Ok it wasn’t really 27 months, but it felt like it.  Now we’re back.  Unfortunately the winds are higher than a heroin junkie and we’re stuck in Deltaville.  Again.  So close to the finish line we almost can see it.  Because of the weather our next post may be tomorrow or may be a month from now, but hopefully we’ll be Gold Loopers and have the new flags aflyin’.

So close and yet so far, or Rough start to a great birthday

img_8095The last couple of days in Deltaville mostly were warm and clear.  But windy.  Wind makes waves like corn makes whiskey.  So we sat.  But Barry from Crossroads came by and drove us around—which was a pleasant surprise—and we got a sunset one evening.

How about that artsy sunset photo, eh?

Today, however, is Dana’s birthday.  Cool to cross our wake on her birthday, we figured.  Most of our weather sources predicted south or southwest winds, a bit stiff but not too bad, and 2-footers or so on the Bay.  If we time the mouth of the Potomac just right, it shouldn’t be too bad, although timing the mouth of the Potomac meant leaving at 6:30.  Which sucks even if it isn’t your birthday.

Of course, when we got up it was windy and rainy.  Because of course.

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Oscar was too cold and wet to poop.  What the hell?  Don’t the Gods of Sea and Air know it’s Dana’s special day and we have a wake to cross?  But now that we’re hardy mariners with a goal, a little wetness won’t stop us.  Not today.  So Brent and Dana braved the weather, slipped the lines, and we shoved off.  For her first birthday treat, Dana got to stow fenders in the wind and rain.

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Pretty quickly, the rain stopped.  Hey now, things are looking up.  Just as quickly, however, we realized that the waves were coming from the north.  And were surf-able.  And we were taking spray over the pilothouse.  And Oscar was getting sick.  And the Chesapeake Bay had turned to shit.  Seven and 1/2 hours of this?  On Dana’s birthday?  No way.

img_8111Fortunately we had a bailout option.  Forty-five compass degrees and nine miles later we docked at Jennings Boatyard in Reedville.  This definitely will be our last stop in Virginia, because there ain’t no more stops in Virginia to be found even in bad weather.  Nice folks helped us in.  The sun peaked out.  Looks like things might be okay after all.  So let’s take Mini Pearl over to the nearby restaurant for lunch.  It’s only a thousand yards away by boat but a mile and a half by shoe.  About a hundred of those thousand yards later, however,  the outboard died.  Grrrr.  But we had oars and we had Dana and Karen, so Brent and Doug enjoyed a nice ride.

During lunch, of course, the rain returned.  Which exposed the foolishness of the conversation we’d had just as we all loaded in the dinghy: “Should someone go close all the windows before we leave?”   “Nah, it doesn’t look like rain any more.”

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Things brightened considerably after the rain and lunch.   Brent cleaned the filter and Doug replaced the old dinghy gas with new and she fired right up.  After naps and whatnot we headed into town.  Meaning Reedville.  Very cool place.  We might move here.  It’s a fishing village but locals apparently don’t mind the smell.

There’s a cute Victorian house for sale that would make a great bed & breakfast and has waterfront for a small marina.  We’d be rich and famous in no time, except we lack the experience and skill to run a bed & breakfast and marina.

Dana enjoyed a birthday dinner at The Crazy Crab, but refused to allow the wait staff to sing even though they had a special song and the rest of us thought her rude.  But she did enjoy the molten lava cake.  Then we waddled back for the dinghy ride home.

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img_8112So we survived the rough stuff and ended with a great meal and blue skies.  All in all, it turned out pretty nice, even if we’re still flying the white burgee.

Tomorrow looks bad enough that we’re sleeping in.  It’s only about five hours to Solomons but we made dinner reservations here and there’s a fishery museum.  And we might need to make an offer on that Victorian.

Of Beginnings and Endings, and Beginnings

Yesterday, as promised, we chickened out of traveling.  Hardly a cloud to be found, but too dang windy for our taste.  The next week or so looks like good traveling so why be miserable?  So instead we Mini-Pearled around.  We checked out what’d be the backside of our B & B if we weren’t also too chicken to open that B & B.  Inside the Fishermen Museum we found a model of the home, because it’s historic or something.  Is that a sign or what?

We even took the depth finder out.  Ten feet of water where we’d put the marina.  Perfect for eight slips and a T-head.  Another sign?

Whilst we pondered the possibilities—and pondered the foolishness of even considering the possibilities—we had a delicious dinner on the waterfront deck of the only restaurant in town where we hadn’t already eaten.  The deck was full of boaters, and as generally is the case we all started talking.  At an adjacent table sat two sailing couples.  Turns out they cruised down the rivers last fall.  Hey, we cruised down the rivers last fall too!  They had a sad story about how their sailboat—Fair Wind—sank on the Tennessee River and was salvaged at Cuba Landing.  Hey, we cruised down the Tennessee River and stopped at Cuba Landing too!  Small world.  Wait a second.  Come to think of it, when we pulled in to Cuba Landing, a sailboat named Fair Wind had just been hauled out and wrapped in tarps and was sitting on the bottom right next to us.  Yup, same boat.  We even had a picture to prove it.

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By now they have a new boat, so were in much better humor than we’d have been if strangers had been cackling about witnessing our misery.  What are the odds?  More signs that we should buy that Victorian maybe?  The point is that Reedville is a cool little village.  Anyone who takes fish oil supplements or eats cat food should appreciate Reedville as the Menhaden Capitol of the World.  Plus Jennings Boat Yard was an awesome find.

04819CBF-4C02-449D-89BA-92975CCF26E6Okay, we’re probably not going to open a bed & breakfast or a marina in the Menhaden Capitol of the World.  Might as well put Mini Pearl back in her cradle and plan our trip up to Spring Cove.  Looks like we might just string together a few good travel days.  Finally.  So this morning at 7:40 we slipped the lines and headed for glory.  Past the menhaden pound net traps and on up to the mouth of the Potomac.

Anyone who’s been reading our drivel, er, blog posts, from the start, will recall that we left Washington D.C on May 23 last year.

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Although the Potomac is a Loop side trip, the original plan was to go back up and claim victory at The Yards.  Meh.  The Potomac was really cool once up and once down—and before we saw the rest of the much cooler stuff along the way—but we hate D.C., Mallory is gone, and there’s no point in going back.

untitledAfter our first Loop stop at Colonial Beach, we rounded Point Lookout, cruised out to green 69A, joined up with The Loop proper, and headed north.

From there we’ve spent over a year underway.  That’s a ton of miles and locks and drawbridges and boats and dolphins and LCBOs and boat cards and tows with barges and rivers and crab pots and canals and long days and great restaurants and gorgeous sunsets and crappy days and fog and new friends who became old friends.  What a trip.

img_8128At 10:15 this morning, we paused at green 69A.  We were last here 387 days ago.  We didn’t necessarily love every minute of those 387 days, but the minutes we didn’t love at least were rare and interesting.

Woooo!  The Gods of Sea and Air honored the occasion by giving us an easy day crossing the Potomac, which allowed for a champagne (and cranberry) toast in front of the channel marker that’s now maybe the most important of the thousands of channel markers we’ve passed.

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We’re happy Brent and Karen were along to celebrate with us.  Plus we needed someone to take the picture.

A couple of hours later we pulled back into Spring Cove.

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The end of The Loop, for us, also is the start of the Down East Circle.  We’ll head back up the Hudson, but instead of a left at the Erie Canal we’ll go straight up to the St. Lawrence.  Then hook a right.  Until we get past Albany we’ll be replowing ground we’ve already covered.  Plus we’re in a bit of a hurry so the days might be long.  Which means blog posts might be iffy.  But we’ll round back into shape at some point.

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How’s it possible to go north to go Down East?

So we’re claiming to have started the Down East Circle at Spring Cove Marina.*  “Spring Cove Marina” sounds a lot sexier than, say, “a green channel marker covered in bird poop.”  That makes today—instead of the second half of yesterday—our first day on the Circle.

Up and at it this morning, because good travel days have been as hard to find as Tennessee Volunteer touchdowns.  And a gorgeous day it was.

1496FE4C-4C4A-4A91-80F6-2C3A126AA74ESomehow we’re supposed to feel wiser and more competent today, because after all, we’re GOLD LOOPERS.  When we started this thing, we thought of Gold Loopers as gurus on the mountain, sages in the wilderness, folks to be revered.

7F176C81-3856-49C6-9876-E5B63793CFBD In reality, it doesn’t seem work that way.  At least for us.  Doug still was absurdly confident that everyone in our general vicinity intentionally was trying to screw with us.  Dana still believed with all her heart that we were about to run into every single crab pot on the Bay.   Crab pots, or maybe pool toys.  Somewhere in Maryland there’s either a crying child or a crabber with a sense of humor.  We tend to think it’s the former because a few hundred yards further along we passed a beach ball that appeared to belong with the watermelon.  We promise we would’ve retrieved them both but the water was a bit churny at that spot, even if the photo doesn’t show it.

Anyway, we managed to muddle up to Herrington Harbour South.

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This is where we picked up Brent and Karen—and where they left their car—so it kind of made sense for them to get off here as well.  Good times.  We’re sad to see them go but glad they traveled with us for a few days.  They were a huge part of our Loop experience.  We’re trusting that someplace down the waterways we’ll boat with them again.  Hopefully soon.

Tomorrow a long day up to Bohemia Bay at the top of the Chesapeake.

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* That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll end back there, of course.  The trip up to Manhattan is kind of like a balloon tail.  Once we get past the Statue of Liberty we’ll take the Hudson north but then in about September we’ll come back through Long Island Sound and down the East River to the same statue, assuming we can find it.