Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey

We drove over to Largo yesterday morning to spend Thanksgiving with Dave's cousin Bryan and his Aunt Eva Nell.

Our Turkey

Usually I try pretty hard to be somewhere where someone ELSE is preparing the turkey. Traditional Turkey Dinner prep totally violates my 'If it takes longer to cook than to eat...' rule.

But Eva Nell is an invalid and the two guys are pretty hopeless in the kitchen, so it fell upon me to pull the dinner together. Fortunately, Bryan and his aunt's part-time caretaker, Terry, had done some prep of the turkey, so all I had to do was pop it into the oven. And Terry had thoughtfully pre-cooked the neck and innards, so gravy was easy.

Dave Carving

So all I had to do was actually cook the turkey, prepare the gravy, and make the sides. It was fun, the turkey came out great, and the guys cleaned up after dinner while I rested.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dave's USNA Weekend

Dave missed the official Naval Academy Class of 1970 40th reunion last year, but he managed to round up some of his classmates for a mini reunion of the 31st Company this weeekend.

We drove over from Melbourne to Lakeland on Friday to meet a couple of the early arrivals, and go visit the Florida Aviation Museum at the Lakeland Airport. Dave specifically wanted to visit because his Dad was inducted to their Hall of Fame in 2009.

David McCampbell, Navy's Top WWII Ace

We found his plaque easily on the Hall of Fame wall. It's a pretty impressive group of people that Dave's Dad is keeping company with.

Florida Aviation Museum Hall of Fame

If you're into airplanes, the museum is fun to visit. There are tons of actual and model airplanes with an emphasis on pioneers and experimental designs.

The weekend was organized around the annual Plant City Pig Jam, a BBQ competition that classmate Marc Farris attends every year. Marc Farris is the founder and primary force behind BBQTV BBQ TV.

On Saturday and Sunday, while Marc judged and filmed at the Pig Jam, the rest of the guys played golf and then had get-together at Marc's camper. (I went back to Melbourne to help with Race Committee for the ECSA sailing race).

Marc's BBQTV Production Studio

Breakfast at the Waffle House

By Sunday night, the group had dwindled to 3 classmates and had moved to Jim Neale's 'ranch' in the Green Swamp (home of the Florida Aquifer). I joined back up with Dave at Jim's house for one night. Marc and Jim put on a big spread for us.

Final Dinner at Jim's Ranch

We're headed back to Melbourne today for another round of doctor visits, and to get ready for Thanksgiving. We are planning to make a day trip south to Boca Raton on Wednesday to see our friends on Visions of Johanna, who are visiting Florida for a wedding, then over to the Heliker Hotel (Dave's cousin Bryan's house) in Largo for Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Traveling to Pitcairn as a Tourist

I received the following information from Jacqui Christian at Pitcairn Island, where we visited last year:

"As you know Pitcairn is a small place and has been quite difficult to get to in the past. Recently, my partner Leslie and I have started Pitcairn Travel with the long term goal of providing regular travel to Pitcairn to facilitate more small groups of visitors to boost the economy and share our beautiful island. As you are probably aware, we do not have much of an economy and over the past 7 years we have had to go into budgetary aid from the UK. We are trying hard to build an economy based on small niche market exports and tourism in a scale that will be manageable for the island. As we have no airport, we are unlikely to have mass tourism here so since the final leg of travel is still by boat, we will probably always be for the adventurous at heart. However all we need is about 500 people a year so it is not much in global terms."

"Would you please have a look at our website, and if you like what you see, please share it with your friends so that those who want to come, may find that it isn't quite so difficult now."

"We are also looking for travel agents to work with in helping to book tours if you know some in the adventure travel business. The descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty are still alive and well and fighting for our future!"

"Warmest regards from Pitcairn,

Jacqui Christian
Pitcairn Travel
PO Box 3, Pitcairn Island, PCRN1ZZ
+64 9 9840163"

I hope everyone has a chance to go visit this really unique spot in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The 2011 SSCA Gam

We are again at the Seven Seas Cruising Association's annual Gam.

Dave gave a talk yesterday morning called Pacific Crossing Primer. We'll get his presentation (and mine, more of a travelogue) posted on our website here:

Soggy Paws Presentations

Though we could probably give 75% of the Gam presentations ourselves, we still enjoy attending the presentations by others--I've learned at least one new thing at each one.

We are also enjoying meeting old friends and new friends. We organized another CSY Breakfast at Memaw's Barbeque

The 2011 CSY Breakfast Gang

Our New Kia Sportage

Last December, just before we left to go back to the boat, Dave got hit by another driver, and our old 1999 Kia Sportage was totalled.

December 2010 - Dave Wrecks the Kia

So one of our first priorities on arriving in Florida was to find a new car.

2006 Kia Sportage LX

We had been thinking in the $5,000 range, but ended up looking for a newer lower-mileage model, and spent about double that in the end.

We looked at about 20 cars in the small SUV range (Ford Escape, Toyota Rav/4, Honda CRV, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage). We used 4-5 websites (,, eBay, etc), checked specs, reviews, etc, and talked to a dozen used car salesmen. And we slowly narrowed the field down to a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage 2005-2007, under 75K miles. Though we started out looking at RAV/4's or CRV's, we liked both the design and price of the Hyundai/Kia (essentially the same car).

We finally settled on a 2006 Kia Sportage--it looks brand new, and only 65,000 miles. And it drives like a dream.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Aaahhh!! Back in Florida

Though we really enjoyed visiting with family in Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina, it was kinda cold up there. We were happy to see the Welcome to Florida sign.

We stopped off at the Florida Welcome Center for our traditional free cup of Orange Juice and a free Florida map.

At my cousin Fred's house in Charlotte, we gave a presentation at his yacht club on Lake Norman, entitled Soggy Paws Pacific Adventures. Just a travelogue slide show.

We spent last night in Hawthorne, outside of Gainesville, with my brother, John. It is still kinda nippy even there--the low temperature last night was 40 degrees F. BRRRR!!!

We are now drive south through the Ocala National Forest, and looking forward to the warmer temps of Melbourne.