Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hello Tucker Heintz!!

One of the other events that we came back to the States for was the birth of my neice Sally's baby, Tucker. We spent a couple of nights in Brooks, Georgia with them, visiting.

Tucker and Grandma Joanie

Tucker seems to be over his 'colic' (now termed 'acid reflux'), and sleeping well.

We are looking forward to watching Tucker grow, now that our own 'babies' are 30 and 23 years old!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Raft Drown 2009

We spent a weekend with some of Dave's Naval Academy friends.

The last one of these Dave went to was called 'Fish Kill 2007'. So when Dave urged them to organize a get together in the Spring, around a whitewater rafting trip, it was termed 'Raft Drown'.

Since the 'interested parties' all were in Florida, we ended up bagging the idea of a raft trip in North Carolina, and instead went canoeing down the Peace River, near Arkadia, FL. We used the Peace River Canoe Outpost as our outfitters.

The highlight of the trip was digging for sharks teeth in the river. We found mostly Dugong bone fragments instead, but we did get one decent shark's tooth.

We took lunch along and had a nice picnic on the sandbar.

And we found a 'rope swing' and had a ball swinging into the water. (Just goes to show that you're never too old for silly stuff!).

Dave, however, is more interested in looking for more sharks teeth. However, all he finds are more Dugong bones.

Our Loot from the Day's Trip

More on Florida Fossil Hunting

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Chris McCampbell

Well, the happy couple had a very nice wedding. The weather mostly cooperated, no last-minute disasters, no cold feet.

Chris chose to dress in traditional McCampbell tartan, and his entourage followed suit, too. They looked very nice. Here's a picture of all the wedding party, showing off their legs.

We are now on our way back to Florida, with a busy week planned (we will be staying in 6 different places in 7 days!) :P

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why I am so behind on blog updates

Though I do have some legitimate excuses (lots of travel, jet lag, a cold), one of the main reasons I haven't caught up on our travel posts on the blog is because we got a new computer when we stopped in Satellite Beach.

Just before we left Ecuador, we helped a fellow cruiser out who was in desperate straits... no charts and his navigation PC had crashed. He was in a hurry to make the trip from Ecuador to Panama, and couldn't get a computer in Ecuador for a reasonable price. So we sold him our old Dell 1000, stuffed with all our navigation software, for $250. And then we turned around and bought this new Eee PC for only $379. So I have spent all my spare time in the last few days trying to get all my stuff moved over to the new computer. (I am only about halfway there!)

The model I got is the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE 10-Inch Netbook. It is small, great for traveling, but not too small to be usable as a laptop. It has built-in microphone and speakers, AND a webcam. So great/easy for doing Skype on the road. AND it has an 8 hour battery, for those long bus/airplane rides, and a really solid case, necessary for the abuse that my laptops take.

It doesn't come with a CD/DVD, so you have to buy that extra. I bought a Samsung from Amazon for about $$65 that will run totally off the USB, without having to plug it into external power.

I also bought a copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009 and a cute little USB GPS. Though Streets and Trips has a version that comes with a GPS, I chose to get an alternative GPS because the reviews on its receiver were much better than the MSoft one.

We've been having fun playing with it. I was amazed that the GPS actually receives a good signal inside our hotel room (my Garmin eTrex would never do that).

We will move the used Dell D400 that I bought last year to be our 'primary navigation computer'. It uses much less power than the older Dell with the Pentium 4 processor that we sold (that was part of our motivation for selling it). And this new Eee PC will be configured as a full backup for our navigation computer, in case we need it, as well as be our primary 'road trip' computer.

My very nice (but heavy, and also rusting) 17" HP laptop that I bought in 2006 is still working, but the LCD screen is dead. The cost to get a replacement screen was a whopping $400, so we opted to buy a new computer instead! It is now in deep storage aboard as a last ditch backup, usable only with an external monitor.

Things we LOVE about the USA

Here are a few things that we really missed during our last 6 months in Latin America:

- Soft toilet paper (the average TP in S.A. is like using the pages of a phone book!)
- English language... everything is SO much easier when you are fluent in the language!
- Clean bathrooms, with seats on the toilets, paper in the stalls, soap and towels at the wash basins
- Triscuits (very hard to find outside the U.S.)
- Salad dressings (Chile has decent salads but only oil and vinegar)
- Veggies with dinner (though Chile has lots of veggies, they never seem to serve them with meals!)
- Cheeses (they are just not cheese people in Latin America... what cheese you can find is bland and unappetizing)
- Friends and family (hard to find 3,000 miles from home!)
- English language TV
- Walmart

We are enjoying San Diego.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

San Diego, USA

Yes, we are in San Diego! Between traveling and having fun, I've gotten behind on the blog. We do plan a few updates to cover our train ride to Santiago, the fun we had in Santiago, and our short stay in Lima Peru. But I thought I'd at least update where we were.

After landing in Ft. Lauderdale, we rented a car and drove down to the French Consulate in Miami, where we had an appointment to submit our paperwork for a French Long Stay Visa for French Polynesia next year. (it went smoothly... I knew more about the process than the girl I submitted the paper work to did).

We spent a little time in Ft. Lauderdale, stopping at Bluewater Books, West Marine, and Sailorman (and only bought one thing--a 50 amp circuit breaker!) Then drove up to Satellite Beach for the night.

On Tuesday, we drove to Orlando and caught a Southwest Airlines flight to San Diego, arriving late in the evening in San Diego. We were pleasantly surprised at the nice experience with Southwest. Southwest is a budget airline like Spirit, but just way more laid back. The flights were half empty, so there was plenty of space and the attendants were having a good time. Southwest has installed seat banks in their waiting areas that are cushy seats, with 110v and USB power plugs, and wifi. Nice!

Anyway, we are in San Diego for a week to go to Dave's son Chris's wedding, and visit some other friends and family.

We got a recent update from the guy that's visiting Soggy Paws weekly and checking things out. Everything is good on Soggy Paws, in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Short Stay in Lima Peru

We flew from Santiago to Lima on Saturday, had a brief stop over with some good friends of Dave's (Ani and Edy Darcourt) in Lima (Callao), and then flew on to Ft. Lauderdale on an overnight flight, arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday morning.

We had a great time on our brief stay in Lima.

Ani took us downtown for a few hours to the Plaza Central in Lima. We just happened to be there for an unusual display... they were celebrating the Peruvian victory known as the Battle of Callao (May 2, 1866). So in the square downtown, the 'Fancy Rifles' were giving a very nice display.

We took a few minutes to go see one of the big beautiful churches near the square. An evening mass was just getting ready to start, so we couldn't stay long.

We had lunch with Anamarie at the Peruvian Naval Officer's Club in La Punta.

(Note the grey day in the background... it was 'fogged in' the whole time we were there. Eduardo says this was very unusual weather)

We took a stroll along the waterfront and visited the Yacht Club Peruano, which is right next door to Ani and Edy's condo. We have heard about the hospitality to cruisers from the yacht club for years, so it was nice to see it in person.

We were so effusive about what a nice place it was, that the manager, Jaime Ackerman, presented us with a YCP burgee.

Ani and Edy also insisted on taking us out to see some Peruvian folk dancing. They made it a family affair and we had a great time, even if they did make us stay out til the ungodly hour of 3am!

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Night With Storytellers

One pair of travelers we met while hiking in Torres del Paine were a very well educated Mexican couple in their mid-30's taking a year off for storytelling and traveling South America.

They normally do their storytelling either at fairs, or in an intimate venue like a night club. They have managed a number of 'gigs' while they have been traveling.

We had made Arturo promise to do a storytelling night in English while we were on the Navimag Ferry, but unfortunately that opportunity got canceled.

So when they told us they were doing a night of storytelling in Santaigo, we made an effort to go see them. They did it at Meson Nerudiano, in the bohemian section of Santiago (a short trip by Metro and a few blocks walking).

Meson Nerudiano is an elegant restaurant with a nice 'wine cellar' kind of basement that they use for intimate entertainment. We bought dinner, paid a cover charge, and bought some expensive drinks, just to see what their 'storytelling' was all about.

Unfortunately it was all in Spanish, and though our street Spanish is reasonably good, we didn't understand much of the stories being told. But the rest of the crowd seemed enthusiastic and amused. It reminded me of a stand up comedy show... with a little less comedy and a story theme.

They have a blog about their travels (but it's in Spanish)