Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Headed for Florida

We finally made it down into Florida and a little bit warmer weather.

The first stop after leaving Cincinnati was a quick overnight in Birmingham, Alabama to visit with Bill Long and family (cousins of Dave's on his Dad's side).

The Long Family in Birmingham

Then we moved on to Pensacola, FL for a visit to the Naval Aviation Museum

National Museum of Naval Avaition

We stayed in visitor quarters at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and we heard the Blue Angels practicing in the morning. The museum was great and we could have spent a LOT more time browsing the exhibits. We did find the replica of Dave's Dad's plane, the Minsi III, and paintings and more plaques honoring Dave's Dad (the Navy's highest scoring Ace ever).

The Medal of Honor Wall

Painting Depicting Dave McCampbell and Wingman Defending the Carrier Against 60 Japanese Zeros

We also looked for and found the Golden Eagles exhibit. My Dad, Gordon Gray, was inducted into the Golden Eagles a few years ago for his work testing the wildly successful F-8U Crusader jet in the mid-1950's. Sadly, the Golden Eagles exhibit didn't even have a roster listing the inductees. But, the guy in the yellow shirt in the placque on the right is Dave's dad!
The Golden Eagles Plaques

On our way out of Pensacola, we made a quick stop at the Wentworth Florida State Museum to see the exhibit on the 1559 Spanish shipwrecks recently discovered in Pensacola Bay. The Tristan de Luna fleet was a Spanish fleet sent to Pensacola to establish a colony BEFORE St. Augustine. But the ships were wrecked in a hurricane and the colony soon died out.

Dave Checks Out the Tristan de Luna Exhibit

Great Artists Sketch of the Shipwreck

Then we headed east along the Florida panhandle to Panama City, FL to attend the Mark V Monument unveiling.

Dedication of the Mark V Monument
at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center

The Mark V Monument is a privately-funded 12-ft statue commemorating the contribution of Deep Sea Divers from all walks of the military. It is erected right in front of the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, which was Dave's last command before he retired from the Navy.

The Mark V Monument

Dave had a great time seeing the NDSTC and hooking up with some of his old buddies from the Navy.

We also got a chance to go see the Man in the Sea Museum out on Panama City Beach.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Short Respite in Cincinnati

We spent 4 days in Cincinnati, visiting my daughter Nicki. While Nicki and her SO Tsukasa worked, we relaxed and regrouped. We totally took over Nicki's new dining room for our own use (thanks for putting up with us, Nicki!!)

Nicki and Tsukasa

The first item on our agenda was boxing up all the 'boat stuff' we'd bought in the previous 2 weeks, and shipping it to Atlantic Towers in NJ. These boxes would get included for free in the arch box that Atlantic Towers is shipping to California (to then get put on a ship for Fiji).

It took us all day to find appropriate boxes, get the stuff packed up, taped up, labeled, and off to the Post Office.

The next day we spent most of the morning ordering a few more things off Amazon.com to be shipped directly to Atlantic Towers. Then we took off for an afternoon at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton Ohio. We weren't THAT interested in Air Force history, but we wanted to see the National Aviation Hall of Fame, which is included in the AF museum. We found Dave's dad's plaque in the Hall of Fame, and we also enjoyed browsing the rest of the museum. It's very well done.

Cool Old Airplanes

Dave's Dad in the Hall of Fame

Saturday, we spent most of the day watching College Football on Nicki's awesome TV. Dave enjoyed having a lap full of kitties.

Dave With a Lap Full of Kitties

And on Sunday, we finally got outside to do some sightseeing in Cincinnati--we went to the awesome Jungle Jim's grocery store--a must for any visit to Cincinnati.

The "Foodies" Entrance at Jungle Jim's

This store is a cross between a Costco/Sams, a fun arcade, and an international specialty foods store. I could not believe the acres of specialty foods--and all at great prices. It had everything from an olive bar to a fresh food area. The olive bar was like 8 feet long!! Just olives!! And there was a cigar bar, a cheese bar, etc, etc. Just the beer section was bigger than most liquor stores.

There Was an Acre of this Kind of Stuff

Monday morning, we reluctantly said goodbye and headed further south.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whistlestop Tour through the North Country

Lobsters in Maine

We had 10 days to kill from the end of the Annapolis Boat Show to the weekend we'd set aside to visit my daughter in Cincinnati. So, what to do, what to do? Do we take a vacation from our vacation--relax, recharge, hang out, sleep in? Are you kidding?? We sat down and said, "How many friends can we visit in 10 days?"

Fall Colors in Connecticut

The first name to pop up was our friends Bill and Johanna on Visions of Johanna, whom we cruised with in the Galapagos, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, and French Polynesia. They were on a fast track across the Pacific, and sailed away from us in June 2010, and we haven't caught up yet. Their boat is now in NZ, but they are at home recharging the cruising kitty in Maine. We last saw them for a few hours last year in Ft. Lauderdale on daytrip from Melbourne.

Bill and Jo at Home

So once we confirmed they were going to be home and we were going to visit them, we thought about where we wanted to stop between Annapolis, Maine, and Cincinnati. There were lots of people--cruisers, CSY Owners, old friends, and distant family in that large swath of the U.S. But we only had time to visit a couple of people.

Dave and Dave Take a Ride on the Connecticut River

We first stopped in Connecticut, at Dave and Beverly McKeehan's place. My Dave and Dave McKeehan were new ensigns together in the Navy in about 1971 on a ship called the McKean (DD-784). They've maintained the friendship ever since. We visited them last year at their new house in the Keys, and they talked with enthusiasm about their old house on the Connecticut River.

The Essex Yacht Club Waterfront

We only stayed a day, but had some time to see the Deep River area, have lunch at the Essex Yacht Club, take a dinghy ride on the river, and meet some of Dave and Beverly's local yachting friends at a small get-together in a stunning house high overlooking the river. We really liked that area and would love to go back again. Though, gas prices were about $4.10/gallon there in CT, and they were 'only' $3.55 when we left Atlanta.

Rockport Maine

From Connecticut, we made the long drive up to the Camden area of Maine. We had a beautiful day for driving, in a beautiful area. Unfortunately, most of it was on the interstate. But we had 2 full days in Maine to see the sights.

Fall Hiking in Maine

We went hiking in Camden Hills State Park one day for a great overlook from Mount Battie over Camden and all of Penobscot Bay.

Camden Harbor from Mt. Battie
(this photo stolen from here)
A Tall Ship Leaving Camden for Penobscot Bay

Camden Harbor

A Church on Camden Harbor

Our last day there, Bill and Dave spent a few hours looking over charts of the western Pacific, and talking about future cruising plans. We are hoping to be able to cruise and dive together again, but we're not sure where and when that will be.

From Maine, the next stop was Gloucester, Mass, where we stopped for a short overnight with a friend who owns a CSY like ours (s/v Justicia). It turned out that Justicia is in the Chesapeake, and Michael is in the process of moving aboard, and his own house in Gloucester was rented. He was staying with friends, and so did we!! Thanks so much for having us as overnight guests, Barry and Helene from s/v Avalon!

The next day we left early for another short overnight in Syracuse, where we stayed with Jim and Megan Sollecito. Jim is a fishing buddy of Dave's from the Keys. The Sollecitos close up their landscaping business in the wintertime, and escape the cold NY winters by hanging out and fishing in the Keys. Jim gave us a whirlwind tour of his large plant nursery, and his beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in the area.

Early the next morning, we headed off to visit daughter Nicki in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Annapolis Boat Show with Carisma

One of the scheduling cornerstones of our trip back to the U.S. this year was the Annapolis Boat Show. In addition to the usual boat show stuff, we were hoping to hook up with good friends Jim Yates and his girlfriend Nancy on s/v Carisma.

And friends Jim and Lynde from Coppercoat USA gave us free passes into the show. (We didn't even have to man their booth!). The Coppercoat booth was swarmed most of the weekend. We haven't yet switched over, but may on our next haulout. Jim Yates has had Coppercoat on his bottom for about a year now, and reports that it's doing well.

Jim has FINALLY gotten underway in Carisma (only 5 years after he told us he'd be ready 'in a few months'). They headed north from Florida about a month ago, for a little shakedown cruise before they set off for the Caribbean. They graciously hustled to Annapolis in time for the boat show, so we'd have a place to stay. They made it to Annapolis about 2 days ahead of us.

Carisma Aground on the ICW between Charleston and Annapolis
Note that they are IN the channel here

Jim and Nancy

We spent almost two full days at the boat show, and I think we saw every booth in the show. We didn't have much time for checking out boats, though.

We really didn't think we needed much except a couple of blocks, but felt that it's useful to keep up with what's new and hot in the marine business. We did, however, stumble on something we needed, and ultimately purchased--an "Arch in a Box" from Atlantic Towers. Our old arch, though functional, is a little ungainly, and it got pretty beat up in Cyclone Cyril in February.

Dave Talking with Shelly Golden of Atlantic Towers

Some of the Mounting Hardware

This arch, in Soggy Paws' size, lists for just under $2,000, including shipping. And it's Made in the USA.

When assembled, we think it will look as good and be as strong as a custom arch, which we priced at about $8,000 in Hawaii.

We added some extras, including mounting hardware for the solar panels, davit arms for the dinghy, and a lifting arm and mount for the outboard motor, that added another $1,000 to the price. So, for $3,000, we have a 'custom arch' shipped to California.

We had already arranged to ship some other heavy/bulky stuff to Fiji via a shipping consolidator in California, so adding on our Arch in a Box was not too difficult or expensive. (We and s/v Challenger are shipping a dinghy, outboard motor, 8 gallons of bottom paint, our arch, and 4-5 boxes of miscellaneous stuff, and sharing costs and logistics).

Sunday of the boat show was really rainy and cold. While sitting in Carisma's cockpit waiting for the rain to stop, so we could go ashore, we saw some 'small boat' sailors heading out for a race in Chesapeake Bay. Normally I would say "Ohh, I wish I could be sailing with them." But not that day...

This Doesn't Look Like My Idea of Fun!! (Brrr)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Visiting Family and Sightseeing in Virginia

I know everyone is tired of seeing my sister's tomatoes... sorry, we've been busy!!

We had a really nice time visiting Dave's son Chris and his wife Sandy in the Washington DC area.

With hundreds of 'sights' to see in the area, we chose to see a couple of 'low stress' things.

We spent our first afternoon at the 'new' Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles

The next day, was a Saturday, and a gorgeous sunny day, so we spent all day out west of DC in the Shenandoah Valley. First we drove on Skyline Drive out in the Shenandoah National Forest.

Cruising in the Shenandoah National Park

Since Dave is now a Senior in the eyes of the National Park Service, he bought a $10 Senior Citizen's Pass that gives him free entry to all National Parks (for everyone in the car). We already had one of these from our sightseeing in Hawaii, but that one is back on the boat...

Great View from On High

Then we visited Luray Caverns. (Those of you who know Dave knows he LOVES caves). We ALL thought Luray was pretty cool. Both Dave and I had visited here long ago.

Amazing Luray Caverns

Chris and Sandy in the Caves

We almost skipped the free Car and Caravan Carriage Museum also on the Luray grounds. But we were glad we didn't. It was small, but very interesting.

Car and Caravan Carriage Museum at Luray Caverns

A 1912 Hudson in Primo Condition

After visiting Luray, we set out to find nearby Criglersville. Criglersville is a small town in the Shenandoah foothills, that Dave remembers visiting with a bunch of other mids from the Naval Academy in about 1970. We found it again, but unfortunately the General Store that he remembers so well, was closed. But we did find the stream and the park that he and his buddies also visited on that memorable weekend.

Historic(?) Criglersville

Beautiful Mountain Stream Near Criglersville

A Picturesque Old Barn in the Virginia Countryside