Category Archives: Georgia

Back to the USA

We have sold Tusen Takk II.

When we moved aboard in July, 2005, it was with the agreement that we would stay on the boat only so long as we both wanted to.  After 13 glorious years during which we both felt like we were indeed “living the dream”, one of us decided that she was ready for something else.  I resisted.  When that didn’t work, I begged for just one more season.  That was granted, and completed in May, 2019.  And so we readied the boat for the anticipated sale and for the long cruise back to the USA.  Among other things, I spent a huge amount of time painting all of the bilges and surfaces in the “downstairs compartments”, and a considerable amount of time revarnishing interior surfaces “upstairs”, including the saloon table.

Our very good friend Bill (nee Dolce Vita) offered to join us for the passage, and we accepted at once;  he arrived several weeks before our planned departure, the better to enjoy Bonaire one last time and to help with the preparations and to be present when a weather window appeared.  Even before his arrival, I had begun preparations by opening up the middle fuel tank in order to see if it needed cleaning after our 14 years of use.  It was remarkably clean, presumably due to our habit of always running the built-in fuel cleaning system whenever we were underway.   When he arrived, we prophylactically took apart the stabilizers in order to check the condition of the trunions supporting the hydraulic cylinders.  We replaced the John Deere serpentine belt, and I changed the JD oil and filter.

It was windy when Bill arrived, and it stayed windy, with no prospect for improvement, causing our minimum standards for the passage to Puerto Rico to slip a bit.  We decided to depart on May 22, knowing that the first half of the trip would be somewhat bumpy.  We planned on leaving around midnight to effect an late morning / early afternoon arrival at Puerto del Rey Marina in Puerto Rico some days and 425 nautical miles later.  Just as the sun was about to go down, I expressed regret that I wouldn’t be able to see Bonaire as we were leaving.  My crew mates were sympathetic, and so we made a hurried departure.

All of our careful calculations about arrival time were soon scrambled. During the initial 12 hours we experienced numerous uncommanded resets of the stabilizer system with the stabilizer system deciding to occasionally turn itself off, sometimes raising an alarm that required a manual reset, and other times just resetting itself. The sea conditions were pretty rough in 4-5 foot seas with 6 second intervals at about 60 degrees apparent. There was also an unfavorable current varying from .5 to 1.0 knots.  We were only making about 6 knots SOG instead of the anticipated 7.5 knots.  Worse, the starboard stabilizer began squeaking so noisily that we decided to remove it from service.  

We arrived at Vieques on 5/25/19, and proceeded to Puerto Del Rey Marina on mainland Puerto Rico the next day. We contacted TRAC about the reset problem, and they sent us a new servo box and an associated control panel.  While we were setting the appropriate parameters in the control panel, it froze.  TRAC sent us another.  While waiting for the parts, we drained and replaced the hydraulic fluid for the stabilizers.  We drained the coolant for the JD and genset and removed and cleaned their heat exchanger cores. We replaced the JD thermostats. We replaced coolant and seawater hoses.  We took the opportunity to get rebuilt two hydraulic cylinders for the stabilizers, and commissioned the removal of broken locking screws in two extra stabilizer yokes. We replaced the zincs on the rudder. We cut a new through hull and rerouted to it the stabilizer heat exchanger sea water line. We replaced the windshield wipers. We replaced an anchor roller on the pulpit. We replaced a defective hi-pressure gauge for the stabilizer hydraulic system. And when the parts finally arrived, as I have said, we replaced the stabilizer servo box and control panel.  And then replaced the replacement control panel.  Whew!

 On our penultimate day in PR we used our rental car to do some exploring along the southeastern coast.  We found for lunch a restaurant (Vinnies) in Naguabo that specialized in seafood.  Later we stopped at a charming little shop (La Casita Amarilla Café, in Humacao) for coffee. We observed many signs of the devastation of hurricane Irma, including many damaged homes and the universal damage to all wind generators. 

When we left Puerto Rico on June 14, the stabilizers were strangely ineffective.  In fact, the boat seemed more stable with them off than with them activated.  We double-checked all of the parameters, and found nothing wrong.  The starboard stabilizer once again got noisy and we deactivated and pinned it.  We had a very rough night on June 16 between Turks and Mayaguana.

Late on June 17, we decided to stop for some rest and to check our fluid levels at Atwood Harbour on Acklins Island in the Bahamas.  While snorkeling to check our anchor, Barb got a scare when she noticed a big shark.  It didn’t take her long to get out of the water.  Later, a local fishing guide stopped by. Barb asked him if he would use our “lookie bucket” to check our anchor.  When he returned with good news, she rewarded him with my last bottle of rum!  He later returned the favor by gifting us with three lovely lobsters.

We spent 6/19 working on both stabilizers and got our first clue as to the cause of their continued misbehavior; there was excessive play on the shaft of the starboard stabilizer and that was causing excessive wear.  Bill got advice from TRAC and learned how to tighten a nut and eliminate the wobble.

We departed on June 20, and quickly realized that the stabilizers, although quiet,  were not providing stabilization.  Fortunately, the seas becalmed and we could continue with them pinned and deactivated.  We stopped briefly at Highbourne Cay to do some reprovisioning.

We spent the night of June 21 in Nassau at the Yacht Haven Marina, where we had a great Snapper dinner at the Poop Deck.

On June 22 we left Nassau and travelled through perfectly calm seas, arriving at Bahia Mar Marina in Ft Lauderdale 23 hours later.  On June 24, the East Coast head of TRAC service came to the boat. He reviewed the parameters in an effort to find an explanation for the ineffectiveness of the stabilizers.  His initial puzzlement vanished once his attention turned from the parameters in the control panel to the servo box itself.  As he smacked his palm against his forehead, he explained that on most boats the servo box is mounted to a forward or rear bulkhead.  On our boat the servo box was mounted on a side panel to starboard.  Inside the servo box is a gyroscope that senses roll.  But with the servo box mounted 90 degrees off from the usual orientation, our gyroscope was sensing hobby-horsing rather than roll.  No wonder the stabilizers weren’t able to counter the roll we were experiencing while underway!  The solution was easy:  the gyroscope within the servo box could be remounted within the box to be oriented correctly.  It took only a minute.  Then, we spent some time discussing optimal parameter settings to minimize wear, and perhaps most importantly, received an admission that the official admonition to not lubricate certain parts in the stabilizers is an instruction that neither the West Coast nor Each Coast service managers follow.  They strongly recommend the use of a suitable lubricant in order to prevent wear (and the accompanying squeaking that had plagued us).  

We ordered new parts to replace the worn parts and made the parameter adjustments.  When the parts arrived, we rebuilt the stabilizers with the new parts one final time, lubricating liberally.  But each major repair of the stabilizers required the setting of a certain parameter to enable the use of a special device to adjust the orientation of the sensor that informed the system of the position of the stabilizer fin.  When we had completed the repair we needed to return that special parameter to its original value.  Somehow in performing the reset we “stepped on” a different parameter, although it was not immediately recognized.  The result?  As we left, the fins barely moved at all, providing no stabilization!

There were some tense moments, and some invocations of “sailor speak”.  But then a careful review of ALL of the parameters revealed the existence of the grotesquely out-of-spec parameter,  We made the correction, and for the rest of the trip to Brunswick, GA we had lovely efficient and smoothly working and blissfully quiet stabilizers.

It was  June 26 when we left Ft Lauderdale and proceeded up the coast toward Brunswick, GA.  We arrived at about 6 am on June 28.  We found Brunswick Landing Marina to be a very pleasant place, as was the village of Brunswick.  The Marina has a very nice Yacht Club which is the site of Monday, Wednesday and Friday “happy hours” that last from about 5:30 pm until about 8 pm or later, and which feature snacks and nibbles provided by the marina guests and free wine and beer provided by the marina.  Furthermore, the keg of beer is open to guests 24/7!

On August 3 we welcomed our first (and only!) visit by a potential buyer.  They professed to be very impressed.  A few days later they made an offer, and by August 15 we had settled on a mutually-agreeable price.  The sale was completed on September 13.  We are sad to close out that part of our life, but are pleased that our beloved boat will be in the hands of enthusiastic new owners that will take good care of her.  We hope they enjoy her as much as we did.

And so we are boatless and homeless and living in our 2011 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40′ RV diesel pusher.  We expect to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  We spent some time parked west of Flagstaff on the property of our friend and benefactor Bill.  We are now in Phoenix, where we will store the bus and join Bill and Colleen on an extended trip to Spain and Italy.  We depart on September 30.  In addition to sight-seeing in Madrid and Granada, we will all spend about a week helping our Norwegian friends Lars Helge and Tove with their almond harvest near Itrabo, Spain.  Then on to Florence and Matera.  Then on to Rome, where we will begin on November 1 our return to the USA on a Celebrity cruise on their latest ship (Edge) that will take us from Rome to Florence/Pisa to Provence (Toulono) to Palma de Mallorca to Tenerife (Canary Islands) followed by a week at sea before landing at Ft. Lauderdale on November 15.

This is how we counter my grief at no longer living the dream aboard Tusen Takk II !

 

 

 

 

Wrapping up Georgia; Atlanta & Savannah — Oct. 26-Nov. 5, 2018

Atlanta

On October 26 we flew to Atlanta, GA, there to visit daughter Nellie and her husband of two years, Michael, and their two sons Mike and Conner.  We also broke away for a brief visit with granddaughter Kristen in her new home in Loganville, from which she commutes to her new job in Conyers, utilizing her new credentials as an MBA and CPA.

While in Atlanta, our two main activities, besides lots of visiting and catching up, were to go for an extended walk on the BeltLine and to indulge in an extended visit to the Jimmy Carter Center, which is just one block away from Nellie & Michael’s home.

Built in the ’80s, the Carter Center and adjoining Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (collectively known as the Carter Presidential Center) sit on a 35-acre park east of Downtown Atlanta.  The center, a nonprofit think tank affiliated with Emory University, is only open to the public by appointment or for special events, and so we were unable to submit our ideas for improving the body politic.  But the museum and library are open throughout the week and we were quite impressed. The museum includes a permanent (and extensive) exhibit of significant events from Carter’s life and career; an exact replica of the Oval Office, down to the furnishings, from his 1976-1981 presidency; and his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2002.

The BeltLine is a former railway corridor around the core of Atlanta, Georgia, under development in stages as a multi-use trail. Some portions are already complete, while others are still in a rough state but hikeable. Using existing rail track easements, the BeltLine is designed to improve transportation, add green space, and promote redevelopment. The BeltLine plan was originally developed in 1999 as a masters thesis by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel. It links city parks and neighborhoods, but has also been used for temporary art installations. 

Savannah

On Monday morning we rented an auto and drove to Savannah for our annual visit to doctors, friends, and relatives.  As has been our practice in the past, we timed our visit to coincide with the annual Film Festival sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit, accredited university with locations in Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; and Lacoste, France. Founded in 1978 in Savannah, the university enrolls more than 13,000 students from across the United States and around the world with international students comprising up to 14 percent of the student population.

SCAD’s effect on Savannah has been remarkable and impressive. Its efforts to work with the city to preserve its architectural heritage include restoring buildings for use as college facilities, for which it has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Victorian Society of America. The college campus includes 67 buildings throughout the grid-and-park system of downtown Savannah. Many buildings are on the famous 21 squares of the old town, which are laden with monuments, live oaks and a Southern-Gothic feel.

The college owns two theaters in Savannah, the Trustees Theater and the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Among other things, these theaters are used once a year for the Savannah Film Festival in late October/early November. With average attendance more than 40,000, the event includes a week of lectures, workshops and screenings of student and professional films.

Recently, questions have been raised about the unusual pay packages granted to SCAD’s president, Paula Wallace and her family. Paula Wallace received $9.6 million in compensation in 2014, and 13 members of her family have received $60 million over the past 20 years. Additionally, the American Association of University Professors places SCAD on its list of censured institutions over SCAD’s treatment of its professors.  A revealing exposé was recently published in the Atlantic Journal and Constitution.  It can be read here.

Savannah Squares

Barbara worked in downtown Savannah for many years, and always insists when we return that we spend some time just sitting on one of their benches.  This year, it was Johnson Square’s turn.  The Nathanael Greene monument on Johnson Square honors one of America’s top Revolutionary War officers. Brigadier General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) was second only to George Washington. Greene and Washington were the only two Continental generals that served throughout the entire American Revolution.   

One of the war’s greatest strategists, he successfully waged a war of attrition against the British forces in the South.  In appreciation for his service in the Revolutionary War, Greene was awarded Mulberry Grove Plantation by the grateful state of Georgia. (The Plantation would later become the site of the invention by Eli Whitney of the cotton gin.)  Greene moved to Savannah with his family after the war, but died a short time later of heat stroke. Originally buried in Colonial Park Cemetery, the remains of Nathanael and his son were moved to Johnson Square in 1902, and reburied in the base of the monument erected in his honor. 

Savannah Friends

We never have enough time.  This year, we squeezed in visits with Mike & Iris Dayoub and with Steve Ellis & Beth Logan and with Richard & Karen Munson,  And of course with daughter Danielle and granddaughter Abigail (and Kristen, who drove down from Atlanta to help us celebrate Abbie’s 15th birthday.)

Back to Georgia — Rincon, Savannah & Atlanta; October 27 – November 6, 2017

Rincon

We flew from Phoenix AZ  into Atlanta, where we rented a car and drove to the Savannah area.  Our initial stay was in a motel near the Savannah airport, since that afforded relatively easy access to Rincon, where daughter Danielle and her daughter Abigail live.  We were joined for most of our socializing by Danielle’s older daughter Kristen, who lives south of Savannah but is pursuing an MBA at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.  We all enjoyed several rousing games of Kings Cross at Danielle’s, and we all patronized a number of local restaurants.

On October 28 we all went to a local corn maze, where we saw dramatic evidence of the ill effects of too much rain for too much of the summer.

Savannah

We subsequently moved to a motel within Savannah in order to be closer to our various doctors and to the Savannah College of Art & Design annual film festival.  We had scheduled our visit to correspond to the festival, but alas, we had waited too long to secure our tickets and consequently saw many fewer than we wished.

One that we DID see, however, we enjoyed immensely.  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, stars Frances McDormand, in a role written just for her.  I understand it opened initially in just a few markets, so we were doubly pleased to be able to see it before its official opening.

On an off day, one without doctor appointments or movie tickets, we drove out to Tybee Island. Very quiet place, this time of year.

And we found time to visit the Miwa Sushi Restaurant in Pooler, not once, but twice during our stay.  We think it is the best Sushi restaurant in Savannah, and we always try to drop in at least once when we are in the Savannah area.

And while I am praising Savannah restaurants, I must mention  Joe’s Homemade Cafe, Catering & Bakery.  We discovered it last year, and had to go back.  It is a tiny place with only a few tables, but the staff is super friendly and the offerings — salads, sandwiches, panini, and desserts — are extraordinary.   By the way, as you pay at the register, ask “which one is Joe?”

Atlanta

On Friday,  November 3, we drove our rental back up to Atlanta in order to spend the weekend with daughter Nellie, her husband Michael, and their two sons Michael and Connor.  It was a very good visit.  On Nov. 4 we all took a nice long walk (20,000 steps on my Fitbit) along the nearby Beltway, ending up at Piedmont Park, where we entered the Botanical Gardens.  Lovely place.  I took a gazillion pictures, with special emphasis on the orchids and on the colorful pitcher plants.  Also a few of Venus fly traps.  With enormous misgivings I include only one of each here.

On Sunday, another nice walk, but perhaps only half as long.  They live in a very interesting part of Atlanta, very near the Carter Center.

Early Monday morning we took our rental car back to the Atlanta airport and hopped a plane to Curacao, via Miami.  But Curacao is another topic for another post.

Back in the USA — Southeast; May 5-15, 2017

Georgia

We flew in to Savannah on May 5, and the next day drove to Statesboro, GA to attend the cum laude graduation of Kristen Johnson, our granddaughter, from Georgia Southern University.  Saving seats for us in the football stadium were Danielle, Barb’s daughter and Kristen’s mother, and Abigail, Danielle’s other daughter.  Knowing that the restaurants in small-town Statesboro would be packed, we all returned to Savannah for lunch after the ceremony.    

On May 8 I kept an appointment with my Savannah dermatologist.  Last Fall she had removed a small basal cell carcinoma from a spot under a fold of my right ear.  By the time she called to say that the removed tissue was indeed skin cancer and that more needed to be excised, we were already back in Bonaire.  So the return visit on the 8th was to complete the removal.  This time, the tissue was examined as I waited, so I would leave knowing that “enough” had been removed.  But what to do about the cavity?  She fussed and fretted about trying to stitch it closed, but muttered that there wasn’t enough tissue in the awkward spot.  She fussed and fretted about a skin graft maybe being needed, but thought it would probably just eventually “fill in”, and finally settled on that plan after I told her I wouldn’t be in Savannah long enough to have a graft monitored and/or stitches removed.  She gave me a 24-day supply of antibiotic and a supply of “duoderm” thin skin patches to be placed over the incision site and replaced every three days.  After the second replacement (six days later) Barb noticed a hard white area in the middle of the site.  Oh oh.  Infection?

(Hang on to your hats, folks.  We are about to enter a fold in the time dimension and skip location and way ahead in time to “finish” the story of the ear.  Barb was able to sound sufficiently alarmed to get an almost-immediate appointment with a dermatologist in Bismarck, ND, who subsequently informed us that the white area was exposed cartilage.  Further, he opined that it was highly unlikely that the area would fill in by the neighboring skin growing over, and that if it did not, the cartilage would dry out and die, leaving an area vulnerable to infection.  He suggested that he monitor the site regularly and decide whether to attempt to find a plastic surgeon to do a skin graft.  Several days later, his office called to say he had made an appointment for me with a plastic surgeon.  Long story short:  the surgeon decided the best of several alternatives would be to remove the cartilage and replace it with skin harvested from my body elsewhere.  So there would be an area in my ear that would essentially consist of just two layers of skin:  one on the back of the ear facing toward my head, and the other the replacement skin facing in the other direction out from my ear.  

As I write this I have had the operation (under soft anesthesia similar to that used for colonoscopies) and am wearing an awkward contraption designed to protect the ear while the graft heals.

OK.  Back through the worm hole in the time dimension.  That is, back to our account of our activities in the Southeast.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

North Carolina

On May 11 we drove to Charlotte in a one-way rental car, where we changed to a round-trip rental and continued to Asheville to see Devi & Hunter, old cruising buddies formerly on Arctic Tern.  Hunter was in the hospital when we arrived.  He had a hip replacement some three years ago, and it did not go well.  Exploratory surgery revealed an infection, so the hip was removed and temporarily replaced with an antibiotic-saturated temporary replacement to occupy the space while he receives daily antibiotic shots over a period of months.  We visited briefly with Hunter and then accompanied Devi to a restaurant for dinner and then spent the evening with Devi in their home.  It was good to see them both; we just wish it had been in better circumstances.

Early on May 12 we drove to Boone, NC and had lunch with granddaughter Jessie.  We then went to a huge nearby Airnb home where we would spend the weekend in celebration of Jessie’s magna cum laude graduation and our mini-reunion, since we were joined by my daughter Nellie, her husband Michael, their two sons Michael and Connor, and Nellie’s other daughter, Katie.  Later that night Jessie’s girlfriend Deja joined us.  Staying at the house, as opposed to separate hotels or motels, turned out to be very good strategy.  It gave us much more time to socialize together as we prepared meals, cleaned up afterwards, watched TV, and so forth.  Great visit. 

The actual ceremony, held in the huge field house on the campus of Appalachian State University,  was on May 13.

On May 14 we drove back to Charlotte, where we eventually found a restaurant (Chris Ruth’s) not already fully booked for a Mother’s Day dinner.  We stayed in a motel that night, and early the next morning took a series of flights to Bismarck, ND.  But the details of that visit will have await the next exciting edition of our blog.

Homecoming — Savannah, Georgia; October 20-31, 2016

Our last stop in the USA was to Savannah, where we maintained our tradition of visiting relatives, friends, and doctors, not necessarily in that order.

Early on, we drove out to the vicinity of our former home on the Ogeechee River, in order to access the effects of the Matthew Hurricane. Although we arrived some 11 days after the storm had passed, there was still a tremendous amount of debris. The roads were clear, but the lawns and ditches were still littered with branches and cut-up logs. We saw some big trees that had fallen in yards, narrowly missing homes, trees that were still not sectioned for removal. We saw lots of blue tarp on roofs that had been damaged. Surprisingly, the private docks along the river seemed largely intact.

We spent a fair amount of time with Barb’s daughter Danielle and Danielle’s daughters Kristen and Abigail. One afternoon, Barb took Kristen and Danielle on a shopping expedition.

We had deliberately timed our visit to Savannah to coincide with the annual Savannah Film Festival, hosted each year by the Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD). All told, we saw about ten films, all relatively new and all yet unrated. After many of the films there were Q&A sessions with some of the film actors and/or directors. Some of the films were surprisingly risqué for a conservative Southern city. On the last day we took Abigail with us; on one film Barb and Abigail had to beat a hasty exit. I stayed. 🙂

Barb and I took Abigail out to Tybee Island, where we walked the beach, had breakfast at the world-famous Breakfast Club, and climbed up to the top of the Tybee Island Lighthouse, located at the north end of the island. When we tried to access the North Beach, we found it was closed because the large parking lot was being used to temporarily store storm debris. The magnitude of the collection was amazing.

Nellie & Michael’s Wedding — Atlanta, GA; September 22-25, 2016

Barb and I arrived Thursday afternoon in Atlanta for the wedding of Michael Sullivan and our daughter Nellie on Saturday. We stayed in the Highland Inn, a simple traditional guesthouse dating from 1927 on a residential street in the trendy Poncey-Highland area. The Inn is not far from their home, and not far from the Jimmy Carter Center, where the wedding and reception would take place. Michael also had relatives arriving early, and we all met at a nearby restaurant for dinner. My son Wil arrived later that night, and the next day my sister Zona also arrived. Other relatives arriving were Sooz Myrdal (sister of my first wife Sigrid) and two of Sooz’s children: Stephen & Megan. Sigrid suffered a fall a few days before the wedding and so was unable to make the trip from Portland, OR. Other relatives in attendance were Jessie & Katie, daughters of Nellie.

By late Friday afternoon, many additional relatives of Michael had arrived. And so, after their wedding rehearsal, Michael and Nellie threw a party at their home. Trays of food of every description inside, and as if that were not enough, catered “southern” food under a tent in the front yard.

Since the wedding was scheduled for 5 PM on Saturday, we (Barb, Zona, and I) had time to see some of Atlanta before the ceremony. Nellie had a number of suggestions, and we made a happy selection: a Segway tour through some of Eastside Atlanta. We were total virgins at the start, but were pleased – no, we were tickled – by how easy they were to control. The tour was fun, but the mode of transportation was an absolute blast.

Michael’s sons Michael & Connor were the ring bearers for the ceremony.  Nellie’s daughters Katie and Jessie gave the bride away.  We sat in the front row during the wedding, and I felt self-conscious about photographing during the ceremony.  So I left the camera in my lap, and snapped off only a few shots without sighting through the viewfinder.  But after the ceremony at the reception, I shot at will, other than staying out of the way of the professional photographer.

After the official reception at the Carter Center, most guest returned to Michael & Nellie’s home for wedding cake.

On our last day (Sunday) we three stopped at the Olympic Park before returning to the airport.  We sought and found the bricks in the Park that Barb had purchased to support the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  One for us, one for daughter Danielle, and one for Jeffery.

 

 

Our last visit of the season; Family & Friends — November 5-8, 2015

We spent our first night in Atlanta visiting Michael McAlister and his wife Scarla.  Michael and Barb used to work together back in the old days for Southern Company Services in Savannah.  Mike now works for Southern Company Services in Atlanta.  We are tremendously indebted to Mike, since he owns and maintains the server for this blog.  We took Mike out to dinner in a totally inadequate token of our appreciation; Scarla had a conflict and joined us back at their home later, where they put us up for the night in their beautiful new technologically-sophisticated home.  (Mike has a “lamp” that accepts verbal commands to change settings on appliances, turns lights on and off, and tells corny jokes on request.  We enjoyed reminiscing about the old days and hearing about all of the former colleagues.

Next day we moved over to see daughter Nellie and her guy Mike Sullivan and his sons Mike and Conner.  Nellie’s daughters Katie and Jessie (and Jessie’s friend Deja) flew in later that night.  Katie is working in Cary, NC, and Jessie and Deja are students at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.  Nellie and Mike have just purchased a home together in Atlanta, so one of our projects for the weekend was to go see the new house and to hear the plans for its many rooms.  The lives of these two lawyers continue to be as busy as ever, so they don’t anticipate being able to begin the move until after the new year.  Mike’s “old” home was too small to accommodate us all, so Barb and I slept in the Marriott Suites Midtown Hotel, complements of a few of Nellie’s many earned travel points.

We had a number of meals in interesting restaurants; I took the opportunity to get some portraits during one lunch.  Barb and I visited the High Museum of Art during one lull in the action, where we saw an outstanding exhibit about the Hapsburg Dynasty.  And we all visited the fabulous Atlanta aquarium, where my favorite was the gigantic main tank, chock full of fish of all sizes, including at least three whale sharks.

Before we were cruisers, we used to join Nellie in Cary, NC every year for Thanksgiving.  This year, we were a little early for Thanksgiving, but we were certainly thankful for the opportunity to spend some time with Nellie and her girls, and to be able to get to know Mike a little better, and to meet his sons Mike and Conner.  We look forward to next year when they will have moved into the new home.  We hope the pre-Thanksgiving gathering in Atlanta can become a new tradition.

 

Visit to our old stomping grounds — Savannah, GA; Oct. 22 – Nov. 1, 2015

We flew out from Bismarck, ND on October 22, but the flight certainly wasn’t direct.  First to Minneapolis, then to New York, and finally to Savannah, GA.  Why Savannah?  For our annual visit to relatives, friends and doctors.  Initially we focused on daughter Danielle and grandkids Abbie and Kristen, using a rental car to move back and forth from Savannah to Rincon, GA.  Later, we succumbed to Iris Dayoub’s offer and used her auto, and yet later caved to her insistence that we stay with her and Mike out at their lovely home on Modena Island, just north of the famous Landings development on Skidaway Island.

We had lunch one day with Chuck’s former colleague Joy Reed, who had just retired from the Department of Computer Science at Armstrong Atlantic State University.  And on another day lunch with Dick Munson (and his wife Karen) who retired from the Mathematics department a few years before I retired from the CS department in 2005.

Savannah College of Art & Design was hosting another of it’s annual film festivals during our visit.  Some of our doctor appointments got in the way, but we still managed to see five different films.  SCAD’s presence in Savannah has been a tremendous boon for the city; the downtown is now vital and bustling.

With our doctor visits out of the way, we had a second round of socializing with Danielle and the girls, who suggested that we spend some time poking around our former neighborhood south of Savannah near Richmond Hill.  We drove by our old home and were pleased to see that it looked in better shape than on former quick visits.  So we stopped and asked for permission to visit the back yard where our dock gave deepwater access to the Ogeechee River.  The couple we had sold our house to had never moved in; a divorce and the collapse of the real estate market which prevented them from selling their other homes was the cause.  So the house was sometimes rented, and a subsequent lack of TLC now had us visiting with some apprehension.  We learned from the current tenants that the house was recently sold, but the current owners live elsewhere and plan on moving in later upon retirement.  Meanwhile the combination of new owners and enthusiastic renters has spiffed the place up a bit.

We also revisited historic Fort McAllister, situated just a mile and a half from our former home.  The earthen fort held for almost all of the Civil War but finally fell to Sherman’s forces attacking from the land side.

We have been using a storage facility for all of the ten years since selling the house.  Long ago we could have already re-purchased its entire contents for less than the storage rental has cummulatively cost.  So we have finally resolved to stop the madness.  I sold my “like new” road bike.  We gave lingering lawn furniture to friends, and gave Danielle and Kristen the china, bunches of kitchen stuff and many prints and paintings.  But we ran out of time after this modest beginning.  Maybe next year we can free ourselves from this silly expense.  (Implicit in this discussion is the fact that neither Barb nor I have any intention of ceasing to cruise in the Caribbean any time soon.  Sorry Mom.)

 

 

Georgia on My Mind, Part Two — Cumberland Island; September 26-28, 2014

On the afternoon of September 26, we drove down to the southeastern corner of Georgia  near St. Marys.  We were soon joined by daughter Danielle and her girls Kristen and Abby.  We met at the headquarters of the Crooked River State Park, where we would spend two nights in a commodious cabin in order to facilitate a visit to Cumberland National Park, located on Georgia’s largest and southernmost island.  Click here to see the Park Service map of Cumberland.

The island has three major ecosystem regions. Off the western edge of the island there are large areas of salt marshes. On land, a dense maritime forest with gnarled live oak trees covered with Spanish moss.  Below the oaks,  an understory of palmetto plants.  Cumberland Island’s most famous ecosystem is its beach, which stretches over 17 miles. The island is home to many native interesting animals, as well as non-native species. There are White-tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, wild boars, alligators, and wild turkeys as well as many marshland inhabitants. It is also famous for its feral horses roaming free on the island.

On the morning of Sept. 27, after a breakfast in St. Mary’s, we boarded the Park Service ferry to travel the tannen-stained tidal waters of St. Marys River to the lee side of Cumberland Island.  We have been to Cumberland many times, but it has never lost its appeal.  We got off at the dock at the Sea Camp Ranger Station and walked along the forested path to the southern dock at the Ice House Museum, and then to the ruins of the Carnegie estate known as Dungeness.

In the 1880s Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and his wife Lucy bought land on Cumberland for a winter retreat. In 1884, they began building a mansion on the site of Dungeness, though Carnegie never lived to see its completion. Lucy and their nine children continued to live on the island.  Dungeness was designed as a 59-room Scottish castle. They also built pools, a golf course, and 40 smaller buildings to house the 200 servants who worked at the mansion. The last time Dungeness was used was for the 1929 wedding of a Carnegie daughter. After the Crash and the Great Depression, the family left the island and kept the mansion vacant. It burned in a 1959 fire.

From Dungeness we proceeded across the island to the beach, along which we walked northward and through huge flocks of Royal Terns and seagulls to the Sea Camp Beach, where we rested and explored before crossing back to the Sea Camp Ranger Station in time to catch the 4:45 ferry back to St. Marys.  All told, our fitbits reported that we had walked about 4 miles.

Next morning, as we prepared to leave Crooked River State Park, Danielle noticed a couple of birds high up in a dead tree next to our cabin.  “Get your camera!” she said.  When I did I was surprised to see a Roseate Spoonbill and a Wood Stork patiently waiting to have their pictures taken.  Good eyes, Danielle!

Georgia on My Mind, Part One — Savannah & Rincon; September 22-30, 2014

As usual, our visit to the Savannah area was a mixture of fun, friends, family and fall visits to doctors.  Barb and I saw our skin doctor and our optometrist, where we conceded that our ten-year old Lasik surgeries had finally expired:  we both needed and got eyeglasses.  Barb had her annual mammogram.  (I decided I didn’t need one.)  We updated our wills.  I got a haircut, an operation that would not normally warrant any comment.  Barb usually cuts my hair, since we are normally on our boat.  So I have no “usual” barber in the Savannah area.  Barb had an errand to run, so I thought I would drop into the next barber shop we saw and get it cut while she ran off to do her thing.  We found one in Pooler called “Beauty & Barber”.  I walked in, and found that the two barbers were African American, as was the female waiting patiently for a “beauty” customer.  The chief barber invited me to sit down, and said he would get to me next.   Both barbers were busy cutting the hair of African American customers.  Their hair was being close-cut.  Very close-cut.  Patterns were being cut into their hair:  curly lines completely shorn of any covering.

When it was my turn, the chief barber introduced himself as “Pop”, and asked how I wanted my haircut.   I said I only wanted the sides and back shortened a little, with very little taken off the top.  (I have migrated away from the buzz cut that I sported in earlier years, and rather like the longer look.)  Pop asked if I wanted the sides tapered. I responded in the affirmative, visualizing the alternative as a style that would look as if a bowl had been placed on my head and only the hair below the rim of the bowl had been shortened.  When Pop made his first cut, I knew I had made a mistake, but that it was too late.  He started in front of my ear and made a cut that extended all the way down to my skin in depth, and extended all the way up the side of my head in length.   And then for 20 agonizing minutes he worked on the sides and back, pushing down firmly and repeatedly, until the areas were every bit as short as that of his former customer.  And then, mindful of at least of a bit of my initial request, he  took only a little too much off the top.  The total cost:  only $10 dollars.  When I exited the shop, I found Barb waiting for me in the car.  She found my appearance and the broad smile on my face to be more than a little contradictory, but hey, if one cannot laugh at oneself …

We drove out to our old stomping grounds near Richmond Hill, and were relieved to see that our former home was in much better shape than the last time we checked up on it.  A mile further down the road is Ft. McAlister Marina, where the new owners have further enhanced the docks and the associated restaurant.

We had lunch with Dick & Karen Munson.  We had lunch with Steve & Beth Ellis.  We had lunch with Joy Reed.  We had dinner with Mike & Iris Dayoub.  We spent a lot of time with our daughter Danielle and her two girls Abbie & Kristen, including a multi-day trip to extreme southern Georgia to spend some time at Cumberland Island – a trip that deserves its own blog.  (See the next post.)

All of these activities left us with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of satisfaction – it is good to take care of life’s responsibilities and great to see friends and family.