The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Land Cruise and 4th of July

During our trip home to California, we spent our last day Jeeping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Truckee with my son Leo (and his friend Lindsay), my nephew Joey (and his daughter Emily) and his dad, Joe.  The last two have been Jeepers for years and my son and I are the newbies.  This trip had been planned for a while and even the heat wave covering the state was not going to stop us, by gosh.
Now the person most of you know as “The Admiral” has no problem becoming “The General” when we are landlocked.  It was she who informed me that despite the 109 degrees forecast for the valley, and 90’s forecast for the high country, we would be removing the Jeep’s top and doors.  Of course, this made our AC pretty much worthless.  Otherwise, the trip was a blast.  It was my first time climbing rocks, which we do not have any pictures of the hairy parts, mostly because the General and I were both white knuckled and…well…too puckered up to think much about shooting photos.  If any better photos show up in my in box, I’ll add them in later.  Meanwhile:

The easy part of the trail up...

A beautiful view from the top

Left to right:  Leo's, my, Joey's Jeeps
The next day was back on a plane for Baltimore where we had left Once Around.   Moonstruck was there when we arrived and within a short time, both boats had houseguests.  Moonstruck had some friends in from Florida and we were joined by daughter Carla and husband Evan.  During our Loop trip they had transited most of the St. Johns River in Florida with us.  Other than what turned out to be a very long and hot dinghy ride, this time we stayed in port the entire visit.

The Crew on the Water Taxi in Baltimore
The dinghy ride in question took us about six miles south along the Patapsco so they could pose in front of the Francis Scott Key buoy.  I think they saw the photo in my previous blog of the grandkids and got jealous.  Anyway, we made it there and back, although not without some minor sunburns.  Of course, if the rest of us get minor sunburns, Carla gets fried.
The dinghies in the dinghy by the buoy!
That night we had ringside seats for the 4th of July fireworks event in Baltimore harbor, literally yards off our bow.  OK, maybe a couple hundred yards, but still darned close.
A tug moves the fireworks barge into position right in front of us!

Who is this guy?

Eddie, one of Doug and Judy's guests, positions himself for the show on Moonstruck's bow

As close as you ever want to be to this kind of thing!

The grand finale.  Don't blame me for the head in the picture...Carrie took it and it's Carla's head!

The next day the Admiral, (or was that Mrs. Howell?) and Carla got pampered for several hours at a spa across the harbor at the Four Seasons Hotel.  Despite Carla’s sunburn from the dinghy ride the day before, it all went well and they both came back rejuvenated.   We finished the day off with an Italian dinner at La Tavola in Little Italy.  In the interest of full disclosure, the spa, the dinner, and some new earrings finally closed off my bride’s “birthday season”.  I was a little late, but blamed it on the timing of Carla’s visit and got away with it!
Heading for dinner in Little Italy

She cleans up pretty well, huh?
CJ and Evan left for home Sunday morning and we departed Baltimore for our next stop.  This would be our furthest foray north this trip, to Georgetown on the Sassafras River.  The river is fresh water and warm.  Today we explored much of it by dinghy and trespassed on someone’s beach for a swim. 

Looking up river as we entered

House of the day on the Sassafras River

From our slip, part of the marina and Kitty Knight House Restaurant on the hill

From the restaurant looking down on the Georgetown Yacht Basin
 Yes, we are still in Maryland.  But we promise, we are heading south soon.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy! Happy! Happy!

We wound up our time in Annapolis with Ben and I making a return trip to the Naval Academy to go through the Naval War of 1812 Exhibit and the Academy Museum.  Both were interesting and deserved a lot more time than the couple of hours we had alloted.  The girls were on a "retail therapy" tour of downtown and we met them for lunch at Cafe Normandie, where we all relaxed and enjoyed an excellent meal.

The next day we left Annapolis for our next stop, an anchorage off the Magothy River, just south of Baltimore.  The following two photos are the view as we waved goodbye to Annapolis.

We arrived at the anchorage and had a view of a beautiful horse ranch as we relaxed...

Of course, the kids couldn't wait to get into the water...


And it was only a few minutes before my Grandson Ben was jumping off the fly bridge!

He then did his best to coax Grand daughter Lia into doing it too.  He succeded once by holding hands and pulling her off when she didn't expect it...and that was it for her as far as the high jumping was concerned.  She told us she'd do it again when she was seven.  So I guess she's already planning her return trip next year.
 But that didn't stop her from swimming.  They were like fish for the two nights and days we enjoyed "On the Hook" together.

Grankdma takes a little time to help with a shampoo and rinse

The sunset here was spectacular
I think the kids would have liked to have stayed in this anchorage for a week, but after two nights we were off to Baltimore.  We waved good bye to Doug and Judy on Moonstruck who were headed for the other side of the Chesapeake while we finished up our time with the grandkids.
On the way into Baltimore we swung by the bouy that marks the spot where Francis Scott Key composed the Star Spangled Banner when he discovered it still waving after a ferocious bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British ships. 
Lia and Ben, with the bouy in the behind them and Baltimore in the background
The next day we toured Fort McHenry and looked out upon the bouy from the point of view of the Americans defending the town. 


We enjoyed the sites and sound of Baltimore for three days, including a trip to the National Aquarium.
We also took in a Baltimore Orioles Baseball game at Camden Yards.  Ben was thrilled when a guy in front of us caught a foul ball and handed it over to Ben to keep.  Pretty special.
Ben gets a Major League Baseball!
One of the things the kids (OK, me and Grandma too) enjoyed the most about Baltimore is the system of water taxis that take you around to various parts of the downtown and to Fort McHenry.
Carrie, Ben and Lia in one of many water taxi rides we enjoyed.

On Tuesday we packed up and flew with the kids home to Sacramento.  They had been away from their Mom and Dad for over two weeks and although there was never any sign of homesickness during their stay, they were excited to return.  Grandma and I were just happy to get them home in one piece.  We had packed a lot of stuff into those two weeks.  Everything from crabbing to baseball, shopping to swimming, and movies to museums.  All of us were tired.  But not one of us will ever forget this special time we shared.
Side note:  We've been home two days now and daughter Dina says the kids are still calling her "Grandma, oops, Mamma". 
We will return to Once Around next week and be joined by daughter Carla and her husband Evan.
As Grandpa Phil says on Duck Dynasty...the whole thing makes me..."Happy, Happy, Happy!"


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Simple Twist of Fate

So… it has been awhile…but you will understand soon...
Here's a hint.

Moonstruck finally showed up in Deltaville and our next stop was a little further up the Rappahannock River to the small town of Urbanna, where we spent a couple of days.  The town is small.  But, it did merit a house of the day:
Due to some bad weather expected out on the bay, we decided to just move across the river and up the Corrotoman River to a very nice and well protected anchorage.  We enjoyed a great dinghy ride that evening exploring the Corrotoman and a quiet night on board Once Around.  Over popcorn and a movie, we and Moonstruck made the decision to go to Washington DC next, which is about a hundred miles up the Potomac River off the Chesapeake.  Neither of us had ventured that far off the beaten path as we transited the Bay during our Great Loop trip…so what the heck.  Seemed like a good idea.
Once Around at anchor on the Corrottoman River
The trip to DC from our anchorage took two long cruise days of about 70 miles each. 
George and Martha's place...Mount Vernon from the Potomac River

Fort Washington

The Capitol Building as we approach DC
Reagan National Airport
We managed to get slips at the Capital Yacht Club, which is within walking distance to the museums and monuments.  But first, the crews of Moonstruck and Once Around enjoyed a day at the National's ball park.
And a beautiful day at that!
During the cruise up river, I had called the office at home and talked to daughter Dina, who (as fate would have it) just happened to be going to DC on business that same weekend.  This immediately set me to thinking...and about ten minutes after hanging up with her, I ran my crazy idea by the Admiral, “Wouldn’t it be cool if she could bring the grandkids here and leave them to spend a couple of weeks with us?”  
Long story short, our grandkids, Ben (8) and Lia (6) arrived in DC with their mom on Sunday, a week ago.  The five of us spent Monday going through the American History and Natural History Museums, visiting the Lincoln Memorial and doing a drive by of the White House in the pouring rain. 
Ben, Lia, Grandma and Nono with the Washington Monument as a backdrop
Dina had business meetings the rest of the week, so we waved good bye and Once Around with its two additional new crew members, headed down the Potomac and up the Bay to the Solomon Islands, Maryland, a boating Mecca on the Bay. 
Lia and Ben on the flly bridge
Princess Lia with a Chesapeake Lighthouse in the background
We stayed at Spring Cove Marina, which was top notch and included a huge swimming pool, a hit with Ben and Lia and just fine with us too, given the heat and humidity.  We took several dinghy rides exploring the creeks around the Solomons.  Lia made one of the trips in Moonstruck’s dinghy which of course Doug let her drive.  With Ben driving ours it became “a race”, of course!  Hard to do when you are in a 5 MPH zone, but these two are as competitive as any two siblings anywhere, and they managed to both feel they had won the race!
Ben at the helm of our dink!
With Lia on the Moonstruck dinghy...let the competition begin!
At the Calvert Museum in Solomons
Ben loves to fish and reeled in a few small stripers and about a dozen Croakers from Once Around.  I swear, this kid was totally focused on fishing for 2 or 3 days.  I think we spent $60 on bait and never landed a keeper, but it was worth it! 
Ben, the fisherman
Too small to keep...the fish, not the kid!
Ya just gotta learn to relax, Buddy!
Glen, a real nice local boater on the docks, took a liking to Ben and showed up on day 3 or 4 with some string, tie wire, chicken necks and a net.  He strategically placed about six of these “traps” over about 150’ of span of dock, and taught Ben how to tell when a crab had latched on to the chicken neck, drag him up slowly and net him.  Ben must have travelled umpteen miles walking up and down those docks and tending the crab lines (he slept real well that night!).  He also managed to land about a dozen blue crabs!  Ben and Glen deposited each crab into “the bucket of doom” as they called it, and lowered the bucket back into the water to keep them alive and fresh.

Ben shows off his latest crab
I was not entirely sure my grandson hadn’t just provided Glen with a nice meal of crabs, but on the morning of our departure, Glen showed up with about half the catch already cooked.  Ben was overjoyed, and when we landed in Annapolis, invited Doug from Moonstruck over to help crack and clean the crabs…I think Doug might have even gotten a taste, but Ben and Lia ate most of it!
Four of us cleaned crab...two of (them) ate most of it!
Today we all went to the US Naval Academy and took a walking tour.  What a remarkable place.  We all agreed how good it was to see tax dollars actually spent on something as worthwhile as producing tomorrow’s leaders of our Navy and Marine Corp.  Tomorrow we hope to return to the Academy to visit the exhibit commemorating 200 years since the War of 1812.  Of course, it highlights the Navy’s involvement and will be a great prelude to our visit to our next stop, Baltimore.  You might recall that was where the Navy successfully defended Fort McHenry from the British during that war, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner in celebration.
I guess I should mention the weather.  We’ve been dodging thunderstorms for weeks.  By dodging, I mean keeping off the Bay for days at a time due to the crazy systems coming through from the Gulf and the Midwest.  While in port we have witnessed several major thunderstorms and even rode out a tornado warning.  Today there were flash flood warning in Annapolis, and we were soaked when we returned to the boat from our tour.  But, we are careful boaters, (even more so with our grandkids aboard) so don’t worry about us.  When the going gets tough…we hide out and wait!  We’ve watched movies, played Scrabble, Old Maid and Too Many Monkeys, and thoroughly enjoyed our little crew.  The next several days look like they will be spectacular (weather wise).  And when it’s nice here, it’s real nice!  We hope to anchor out for a night or two and then wind up their visit with a stop in Baltimore.
Life is Good!