The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Muskegon, Grand Haven, Saugatuck

Muskegon was “Get stuff done time” for several of us Loopers.  Moonstruck was hauled, checked out, repaired and back in the water over night.  Jolly Tolly had their new dinghy lift installed and Once Around got some new VHF radios…almost.  Nothing ever goes quite as planned with electronics, and this was no exception.  More about that later…
Here, Judy and Evelyn do their best Vanna White, showing off Jolly Tolly's new dinghy and lift.
Even Once Around's dinghy got some attention.
The Nina and Pinta showed up again...are they looping too?
Which made for lots of company for us on the dock.
We did have an absolutely GREAT Looper dinner in Muskegon, thanks to Jolly Tolly who had rented a car (if that roller skate qualifies to be called a car) and rounded up the crew of Something Special, Moonstruck and Once Around for a fabulous time.  It may be the last time we cross paths for quite a while with Ron and Jan from Jolly Tolly, because they are already in Chicago and are focused on getting down the rivers ASAP.  We will catch up with them on the Tennessee River (their home port) or perhaps in Florida this winter, as they plan on heading that way after a month or two at home.  One way or another we will find each other…I’m sure.
The “one day” installation of the radios did not go quite so well, although by the end of the first day I did have a working radio.  In my former life, I would have been really stressed out, ticked off, and generally nasty towards the guys doing the work.  Not this year…I’m on vacation.  With a good working radio (better than what I had before they started) I could get to our next stop, Grand Haven, MI, which we entered on Friday, 8/26.  It was a short run down the coast and conditions were near perfect.  Something Special followed us, and Moonstruck was an hour or so behind.
Grand Haven was a terrific stop.  The municipal marina there was a block from the center of town, so we had shopping, restaurants and whatever else close at hand.  As we pulled into the slips on the main channel entering the area, we noticed the large grandstand adjacent.  We found out in short order that these filled every night for the lighted musical fountain show…which was directly across the channel.  So we had a ringside seat on our fly bridge!  It was really pretty incredible.  It was another small town extravaganza that was totally a surprise.  I don’t know if the photos do it justice, but we enjoyed it and looked forward it for the next two nights as well.
The harbor entrance to Grand Haven, MI
The musical fountain...
...and again.
Getting around Grand Haven was easy too...yes Heather...we got on the "Short Bus" for a ride to the grocery store and Walmart!
I started laughing the minute I saw this.  I had to explain to Carrie, the last time I saw "Myasis Dragon", it was on a sign in a certain cabinet shop...remember Uncle John?
It must be “Looper season” in this part of Michigan.  We saw (in addition to the three of us who had come in together), Dockers Inn, Glory Days, Benelle, Last Chance and Seamoore.  Our prayers go out to Becky and Carlton on Seamoore that she recovers quickly and they can be on their way soon. 
Once Around and Something Special pulled out of Grand Haven this morning (Monday, 8/29) because the weather and lake conditions were perfect for a trip to Saugatuck.  Moonstruck will join us here on Tuesday.   More importantly (no offense Moonstruck), our grandkids (and their parents) will be here Wednesday for a several day visit!
Entering the Saugatuck area.
This little place caught our eye...
Saugatuck looks like a great little town.  It is on Lake Kalamazoo (honest) and is yet another awesome Michigan boating community.  Carrie and I had lunch with Sid and Evelyn then walked the town a bit.  She found a place for a pedicure, which gave me an hour or so to get back to the boat and nap…uh, I mean do chores.  When I finally woke up I found her in the salon drying her toes…
Not napping...drying her toes!
We took a cocktail cruise of Lake Kalamazoo (I swear, I’m not making that up).  Sorry, no pictures…my photo assistant forgot the camera.  I’m sure we’ll have another chance in the next day or two.  Tonight we had dinner at a little Bistro with outside seating and terrific Walleye, among other things. 
The radio guys are due here at 9 in the morning “to finish up”.  We’ll see…

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something Special

Sid and Evelyn are some of our newest Canadian friends, looping on Something Special, their 40 foot Mainship.  We met them in Cape May, NJ, a day after they  purchased the boat, and again six weeks or so later after they outfitted it and started the loop from their home port of Midland, Ontario.
Evelyn is always very together.  I think the rest of the Looper wives should have a betting pool on when she’ll give up on her perfect hairdo and faultless makeup.  It usually takes a month or two, but Evelyn is still hanging in there.  (My first mate formerly never wore a hat, always claiming she looked terrible in one.  Now, a hat is common for her, especially on travel days.  Likewise, she wears makeup only on days that don't end in a "Y", unless of course we have an important engagement, like dinner at the White House or something).  In stark contrast to Evelyn's careful daily grooming, Sid, says he isn't shaving or cutting his beard for the entire year on the loop.  When he says that, Evelyn just shudders.

Sid "Vicious" and the lovely Evelyn.

To say that Sid is “a little unconventional” might be an understatement.  For example, when I mentioned that I could not see his Looper flag where he had it mounted on a stanchion (below his top rail), he went out and bought a flag pole.  No, not exactly one you would find at West Marine…not Sid.  He finds a wooden toy rifle at a street vendors tent and zip ties it to the stanchion.  It works, much to his fastidious first mate’s chagrin.
I just can't make this stuff up...
The other day on our cruise down to Muskegon, we and Moonstruck listened on our VHF radios as a fisherman read someone the riot act.  “HEY-YOU DAMN NEAR RAN OVER MY LINES!  WHATS THE MATTER, YOU BLIND OR WHAT!”  No response, but although Something Special was 5 miles behind us, we both suspected immediately (and later confirmed) that he was talking to Sid.  Just a wild guess…
Later, we heard Sid’s hail a “freighter”, which turned out, as the startled captain replied, “…not a freighter, I’m a tow boat (tug) pushing a load of concrete to Grand Haven…WHY?”  Apparently Sid was just curious.  You don’t hear many recreational boats calling commercial captains just to chat…but, that’s Sid.
A few weeks ago several of us Loopers were travelling together between Mackinaw City and Bay Harbor Lakes.  Jolly Tolly led, followed by Once Around, Moonstruck and then Something Special.  It was a very rough trip as we were being hit by west winds and 2- 4’ seas on our starboard beam.  We were really rocking and rolling for a while.
Arriving at Bay Harbor Lake and glad to be in a safe harbor, I followed Jolly Tolly in and listened to the VHF as Ron, followed by myself, then Doug, all got our slip assignments from the marina and proceeded to our designated slips.  As we were all tying off within ear shot of one another, we heard Sid on Something Special in a confused conversation on the radio with the harbormaster at Bay Harbor.
We heard the harbormaster say, “Something Special, you’ll be in slip 15, that’s around the north side of dock A as you approach, about halfway down the runway, right side, starboard tie”.
“OK,” Sid replied, “But, I’m not too clear which is dock A.”
“The most northern dock”, came the reply.
“Uh, when you say north…I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I mean, north”, an amused voice replied, “Just follow Moonstruck in.”
“I don’t see Moonstruck”, Sid stated.
By this time the rest of us had raised our heads and were looking around for Something Special.  Where the heck was he?  We had been so busy with our own doings that we’d lost him.  Doug said he had thought Sid was right behind where...
“But, I’m looking at two docks running left to right that form an ‘H’…where do I go?”
“Well, first thing you do is come down to the east end of the lake to this marina…you sound like you are describing the yacht club at the other end.”
“Oh…right, be there in a minute”.
Shortly afterwards, “Bay Harbor, this is Something Special.  Which dock?”
As Something Special finally pulled in, Sid’s first mate, Evelyn, looked at us and just rolled her eyes and shook her head as she handed the lines off to the dockhands.
To Sid, it was just another landing.
The next day, Jolly Tolly left early as they had to get some repair work done further south.  We had heard it was difficult to get slips in Harbor Springs, and they did not take reservations, so Doug and I rented a car to tour the area.  Sid, unconcerned about not having reservations there, took off on Something Special for Harbor Springs (only a few miles away) just as we left to go there by car.  When we arrived there, our first stop was at the harbormaster’s office to see if we could get space for Moonstruck and Once Around for the weekend.  The best he could do was a waiting list, which didn’t really activate until you showed up with your boat!  So, Sid's plan to just show up early proved to be the right move in this case.
So, that is the series of coincidences that caused Doug and me to be in the Harbor Springs harbor office and hear this radio exchange:
“Harbor Springs Marina, Harbor Springs Marina, Harbor Springs Marina, this is Something Special, a 40 foot trawler, can we get a slip for the night?”
Something Special, this is Harbor Springs Marina, let’s see...yes, you are in luck, I can put you in G-9”, give me a call when you get close.”
Doug and I turned to the window and then to each other with a grin, as we saw that Sid had already cruised right past the marina and was headed for yet another yacht club.
“I am here now, and I don’t see a G dock.", Sid answers back.
The harbormaster sees Something Special idling around aimlessly in the yacht club next door, and says, “Sir, you have gone too far, you need to reverse course and come back to our marina, it’s just to the west of you.”
Doug gets that mischievous Wisconsin grin on his face and mumbles to the harbormaster, “You might find he has a little trouble with that whole north-south-east-west-thing”.
“What!” cries the stunned harbor master, “Is this guy a friend of yours…do you know him?”
“Yup”, comes the deadpan Wisconsin reply.
“Well, what is he doing out there?  He’s made three circles in the harbor already!”
“Uh-huh”, Doug managed to mutter, as we now struggle to stifle our giggling. 
The frustrated harbormaster tries again, “Something Special, do you see the Grand Banks on the end of the dock?  If so, go to the east of him and turn to port”.
“So...when you say east…”
Doug and I are on the floor!
We manage to pick ourselves up and stumble outside just as Judy and Carrie approached the office.  They had been on the docks watching the whole thing develop.  "Snap to it you two goofballs...", our Admirals commanded, “...and, what the heck is Sid up to out there?”  We cannot contain ourselves, and scatter out of there before we have to face Evelyn.
The other night in Pentwater at dinner with Pam and Billy from Godspeed, I told that whole story with Doug as my witness…and Sid and Evelyn listening on.  Sid took it well, but Evelyn had the quote of the night as she leaned over and whispered to Carrie, “His whole family is famous for being directionally challenged”.  Really?
I once asked Sid where the name Something Special came from.  Usually boat owners have a unique little story they love to tell about the origin of their boat’s name.  Sid said simply, "Why, that's the name that came with the boat, eh."  Perfect!
Sid, you and the boat really are Something Special. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ludington, Pentwater, Muskegon

Thursday the 18th we pulled into Ludington, MI around 1 PM after a five hour cruise from Frankfort.  The lake gave us 1-3’ seas coming at our starboard beam, so we rocked and rolled our way down the coast, but not really too badly.  When we pulled into the Muni Marina it was time for fuel (ouch, $4.15 per gal.), another pump out (Jan, we miss you) and a water fill.  The pump was running very slowly, so it took us an hour or so to fill up as Moonstruck waited patiently behind us for their turn at the diesel spigot.
After our fill, we tied up in our slip, had a very late lunch aboard, and talked through the next couple of week’s schedule.  We are excited as heck, because Dina, Darrin, Ben (7) and Lia (5) are coming to join us for several days at the end of the month.  Carrie made reservations for Once Around at two different marinas along the Michigan shore for the days the kids will be with us.  We have plenty of time between now and then to get to the first one before they arrive, and hope to do one leg of the trip with them aboard if (and only if) the weather and lake conditions are good.  Last time my granddaughter, Lia, was aboard our other boat in California, we spent four days on a mooring.  As they left she asked, “Nono (Italian for Grandpa), can your boat move?”  Can’t be havin’ that happen again!  
Preliminary planning in place, Carrie then disappeared below for a late afternoon catnap.  When we travel, like today, her day starts about 6:30 AM, and that’s well before Mrs. Howell’s normal wake-up call.  After she woke, we took a dinghy ride around Pere Marquette Lake, checking out the marinas, fishing boats, and the coal burning car ferry, the Badger.  It is the last coal burning ferry still running on the Great Lakes.
The Badger
Think he has enouogh fishing gear on a 25' boat?
I haven't a clue...
Definitely NOT a loop boat!!!
This one's for you, CJ
Sometimes we just like the boat name...
Saturday we had Michigan visitors!  We have known Karen for ten years or so.  She is a transplanted Californian, whose best friend is our neighbor and good friend, Laurie.
Karen on the fly bridge of Once Around...
...catching up with Carrie.
Over the years on her visits to see Laurie, we have gotten to know Karen and become friends as well.  When she heard that the Loop would bring us to Michigan she was excited and promised to visit us.  She and her boyfriend, Pat, brought us a gift basket of “Michiganalia”; books, food, Michigan (State!) University hat, etc.  Both she and Pat love Michigan and all it has to offer and were glad to hear how much we liked their state, their lake, and their marinas.  We had lunch on board Once Around, cruised with us through the harbor on the dinghy, and generally had a great time ending with pizza delivered for dinner.
Karen and Pat aboard Once Around
Sunday we and Moonstruck took the short cruise to Pentwater, only a dozen miles or so down the coast.  We pulled into Snug Harbor Marina about 10 AM, which gave us most of the day to explore the town and (as always) fit in a few chores.
We loved Pentwater.  We discovered a neat little nautical antiques shop, which was also a ship’s store.  Kind of like a small West Marine with real cool old stuff too.  The crew of Moonstruck was with us, and Doug bought Judy this wonderful can of “Never Dull”, a stainless steel cleaner that came highly recommended by the shopkeeper (“Even the US Navy uses it”).  Doug told Judy it was an early Christmas present for her…what a guy!  I bought some too but one sharp glance from the Admiral and it was clear whose “present” it was on Once Around!
Something Special and Godspeed both cruised in that day, and all eight of us enjoyed dinner together in town at “The Gull”.  For my southern California boating friends, it reminded me of the patio bar (Doug’s?) in Two Harbors on Catalina Island; outdoor bar, dining on plastic tables, live music, etc., except it was on the main street of this little town instead of the Pacific Ocean.  We all caught up on each other’s adventures over dinner and discussed what lies ahead.  We had some great laughs, especially when we talked about the escapades of Something Special.  That story deserves its’ own post, so if I can do it justice, you will read about it later. 
We would have loved to stay in Pentwater for a couple more days, but the weather gods had brewed up some pretty nasty lake conditions predicted for Tuesday thru Thursday of this week.  If we wanted to get a travel day in, we would have to bid farewell to Pentwater and travel Monday.  Moonstruck had a date with a boatyard in Muskegon, and Once Around is supposed to get her new radios installed there this week as well.  So, reluctantly off we went, followed by Something Special.  Godspeed planned to stop short of Muskegon, in Whitehall.
The morning mist at sunrise in Pentwater.
We had a great run of 45 miles or so, and landed at Great Lakes Marina in Muskegon by lunchtime.  Carrie and I dined aboard Something Special last night.  (Billy, you didn’t leave us much of that delicious chocolate cake!).  We were joined after dinner by Moonstruck who had Tom and Marilyn, friends from Florida, visiting them.  It was a beautiful “calm before the storm” evening.
The coastal forecast is for 6-9 foot seas along the eastern shore by Wednesday…but we are safely tucked in and will ride out the wind, rain and thunderstorms here.  With luck the boats will be ready to go when and if the weather breaks the end of the week.  Meanwhile, I am sure the Admiral has plans for my time in one way or another.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Never Sufficiently Adorned

Keith and Barb, friends in Sacramento, gave me a little plaque before we left on the Loop that I display in my boat.  Truer words than these were never written:
Who wishes to give himself an abundance of trouble,
Let him equip these two things,
a SHIP and a WOMAN.
No two things involve more bother, for neither is ever
I have told you about the “down days” we have sometimes, and the work involved in keeping up the boat.  Well, today the boss lady had a little something else in store.  After breakfast we strolled down the main drag here in Ludington, and, as if by magic, we “just happened to come across” a hair and nail salon.  And, they “just happened” to have a three hour opening for Mrs. Howell.  I wandered back to the boat and did a few chores, while she got pampered with hair color, cut (don't worry Michael K., your job is safe), manicure and pedicure.  She passed on the massage, although I don’t know why. 
It’s OK, with me that she indulged herself though.  Before she went into the salon she said she felt like this:

But, after she came out…

…Ginger has returned!
Besides, while she was in there I ordered two new VHF radios for Once Around that will be installed next week. 
So, both the SHIP, and the WOMAN, got a little more decked out today!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Headin' South On Lake Michigan

Sunday the 14th we finally got decent enough seas to cruise south from Bay Harbor to Leland, Michigan.  We had 2 to 4 foot waves, but, they were following seas, so other than pushing us around a bit, the ride was pretty comfortable. 
Leland is a tiny little fishing town.  In fact, the harbor, built behind a big sea wall, is a “safe harbor”, where they must take boats in if weather conditions are bad.  There is a little canal from the harbor through the historic “Fishtown”.  We had lunch at “The Cove”, which has a patio right over the canal, from which Carrie took this photo of Fishtown.
The marina itself is fairly small, but we all remarked we had never felt more like we were in a “zoo” and we were the animals on display.  I thought it was just me.  I usually do not back into slips, because I want to be able to launch my dinghy if the mood arises.  Backing in here was my only option.  But, it turned out everyone else felt the same.  The locals made sport of walking the docks, stopping to look and comment on virtually every boat, and even walk down the fingers of the dock to peer inside if they felt they needed a better look.  It was kind of odd, but what the heck, they were harmless, and very nice.
Once Around in Leland, MI
The next day Moonstruck and Once Around set out south once again to our next port, Frankfort, MI.  We are staying in a very nice marina called, Jacobsens.  Frankfort is a little bigger town and has several good restaurants and shops to visit.  It is on Lake Betsie, just off Lake Michigan.  It too is a BIG fishing town.  The salmon are running, and there is a parade of boats in and out of the inlet each morning and night.
Part of mains street, Frankfort, MI
We saw scores of boats outfitted like this...but the Admiral liked the name of this one.
Our first full day here, Tuesday, the Admiral wanted to get some exercise.  Actually, she wanted me to get some exercise.  So, we got the bikes down for a four mile trek to the Betsie Lighthouse, which we had passed along the way the day before and which we were told was great to tour.  Reportedly, the only real steep part of the ride was the hill right at the end…yeah, right.  I swear, even the local buzzards began circling over me very early on this ride.  I don’t think they thought I would last the hour…
buzzards circling overhead
Neither of us has ridden in a while so we were both feeling a little rubbery legged as we reached the lighthouse.  Of course, we found when we arrived that the tours only took place on the weekend.  So, we had to settle for these exterior shots.
sorry, lighthouse closed...
And, we were a lot more rubbery legged when we arrived back at Once Around.  The nap was great, though.
Last night (Tuesday), Carrie and I had one of those picture perfect evenings and meals.  We barbequed filets, made some pasta “aglio olio” (corrected spelling after hearing from Poseidon), broccoli and a tomato/avocado salad.  Add a ’91 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet, some good music…and we were in heaven.  We watched the local fishing boat parade, and even saw a couple of nice ones landed a few hundred yards from our slip.
Today was honey-do day on the boat.  The first mate did laundry while I made a pretty good dent in my boat list. 
Don’t think we were bored, though.  Marinas can be full of surprises, and today was one of those days.  Take a look at the variety of vessels we saw come in today…I can’t make this stuff up!
A navy vessel??? Is there much action for them in the Great Lakes?
This yacht had its' own ground/water transportation on board with an amphibious car!

The "Nina"

The "Pinta"

Those last two were exact replicas of two of three of Christopher Columbus' ships.  The "Santa Maria" was unexplainedly missing.  I'm sure Jacques the Pirate probably had a hand in it.  Anyway, you have to admit we had a diverse showing of water craft come into the harbor today.

We think we will be heading for another town down the east coast of the lake in the morning, Luddington, I think…of course…the weather gods will have to cooperate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little Traverse Bay Area

We arrived at Bay Harbor Lakes Marina on Thursday.  It truly is a beautiful place with all the amenities, four restaurants, health club, pool, shopping and a great staff of young folks on the dock who cannot do enough for you.  We could stay a month!  Jolly Tolly, however, could only stay one night as they have one of those “schedule” things involving work they need done on the boat further down the coast, and a trip home to Georgia.  We hated to see them go, but will undoubtedly see them in or around Chicago or on the rivers in a few weeks.  Likewise, Something Special only stayed here one night, opting to go across Little Traverse Bay to the town of Harbor Springs for a night or two.
A sample of the surrounding homes
and boats
Moonstruck and Once Around were concerned with getting slips over there, so we rented a car here and drove around to Harbor Springs on Friday for lunch and an afternoon of shopping.  Harbor Springs is an upscale town with lots of great shops and sites to see.  While we were gone, our boat was pampered with a professional wash.  She looked great when we returned.
Friday evening we took the car down the other direction, to the east end of Lake Charlevoix.  Nestled there is a little town called, Boyne City.  What a pleasure that was.  We put our name in at the Café Sante on a tip from a local boater in our marina.  The wait we were told would be 45 to 90 minutes, which did not bother us a bit.  Friday nights, Boyne City has “Music in the Streets” from 5 to 9 PM.  There was entertainment of all kinds on every street corner, and all the shops were open for business, and thriving!  We were told that they started this after the economy took its’ dump a few years ago.  It was cool to see a small town flourishing for a change.  Michigan has been hit hard by this “recession” we have been in.  Boyne City seems to have figured out how to make the best of it.
One of the street bands

and on the opposite side of the street...

These folks were enjoying themselves...
Seems others in the state have noticed...
Dinner at the Café Sante was delightful.  They call their fare “Belgian”.  I have the theory that is probably their way of disguising what you might usually see branded as “French” cooking.  Between the four of us we tried the escargot, sautéed scallops, French onion soup, Beef Bourguignon, stuffed pork loin…well, you get the picture, great location, great food, and a cool little live trio playing in the dining room throughout dinner.  This was an evening we and Moonstruck will remember.
Saturday, it rained cats and dogs.  We got tired of waiting for the weather to break and finally headed (again by car) to the town of Charlevoix.  It is a “must see” stop on the Loop.  However, we could not get boat slips there this weekend, and may have to pass it by when the weather breaks to make some headway down the Michigan coastline. 
Charlevoix was a fun town to visit, but they had an art fair (in tents due to the rain) and the place was packed.  We strolled around for a few hours, enjoyed a great burger for lunch, and took “the long way” back to Bay Harbor Lakes.  It is only some 15 miles…normally, but we made a 60 mile trip out of it touring the countryside.
The next few weather/travel days look like an OK day, followed by a good day, followed by a great day.  If that forecast holds, Once Around and Moonstruck will be heading south along the Michigan coastline.  We are toying with the idea of crossing the lake to the Wisconsin side if we get a weather window that works for us in a week or so.
planning and checking weather reports
Tonight we are having a light dinner on the boat as we make our preparations to depart in the morning.

Little Bird, Little Bird

Tonight’s (or rather this morning’s) post has little to do with the Loop, except that it provides the distance I probably need to deal with recent events.
Our middle child (and younger of two daughters), Carla, moved from our home in Elk Grove yesterday to San Diego, a distance of some five hundred miles.  It was no surprise; she had been planning it for months.  Somehow I had managed not to think about it much.  I suppose I hoped it would just go away.  About an hour ago (4:30 AM), one of those Lake Michigan thunderstorms passed over Once Around and woke me.  Suddenly I could think of little else.  I nicknamed her my “Little Bird” when she was about two years old.  How could this little bird be ready to leave the nest?
Here she is with her little brother...about three years ago, I think.
This is her maybe a year later scoring a goal!
It’s not that I in any way think her move is a bad thing.  She is old enough to make her own decisions, and she is in love with a young man who is stationed there for a couple more years while he completes his service in the navy.  I trust her judgment in both the person she is involved with, and the timing of her move, to be with him.  So, why do I feel so empty tonight?
I suppose many fathers of daughters understand.  To your little girls, a father is a knight in shining armor, her prince for the first twenty or so years of her life.  They measure their boyfriends by their gold standard…you!  And, you do your best to live up to that and not to disappoint them.  But, (and this is a good thing), there comes the day when you see in their eyes that you have been replaced.  Up on that big white horse you used to ride is some kid you just met.  He’s young, handsome, and obviously smitten by your little girl.  So, you do what comes naturally…check him out with the FBI’s Criminal Division and watch “America’s Most Wanted” religiously because you know this guy will turn up there sooner or later.  But, he doesn’t.
In fact, since your little girl has great taste in men, and even better judgment, you find you actually begin to like the guy.  So next you try and warn him off.  “You know...” you say, “…you have a princess on your hands here, right?  I’ve spoiled her rotten all her life and now she’s going to expect the same from you.  Are you up to it”?  Part of you is secretly hoping he’ll bolt and run…but, of course, he doesn’t.
Prince Charming not only has looks and southern charm, he's brave.  Here he is on the USS Ronald Reagan.  He jumps out of (perfectly good) helicopters as a rescue swimmer.
Evan will have his hands full with my daughter.  Carla has her mother’s beauty, great smile and wonderful sense of humor.  She is also smart, intensely competitive, knows what she wants and works hard to achieve it (not sure where that comes from).  She can also be pretty emotional.  I would like to deny where she comes by that, but, to paraphrase Steve Martin in The Father of the Bride, she comes from a long line of overly emotional people…ME!  One of the things Carrie noticed about the two of them together the first time we met him was Evan’s ability to calm her down with a quiet word or even a look.
And, here is my Little Bird just this summer. 
As I sit here thousands of miles away listening to the rain fall in the gloomy dawn, all I can do to quell the sadness I feel is to hope and pray Carla and Evan know for themselves the same happiness together that Carrie and I share.  I believe in my heart they will.
So, Little Bird…I am sorry I couldn’t be there yesterday to help you move.  But, I don’t think I could stand to watch you leave, anyway.