Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving and Coming Home for Christmas

We left Eastern Shore Marina in Fairhope, Alabama one day later than anticipated—Wednesday, November 26th. Bella Luna’s water pressure system needed mechanical attention. In order to take showers and have water up in the cabin, the belt and pulley had to be replaced—after 14 years of good service. Louis had to get those two new parts “overnighted” (a $20 part cost $130 delivered!) —and with the greatly appreciated help of Larry and Robert, the pump was fixed in no time—it really helps having three sets of hands! While the guys were working on the boat that morning, the girls were able to sign up for the rental van just once more and make a quick dash to the nearby grocery, Winn-Dixie; after all, we would be at anchor that night and the day following was Thanksgiving. After the part was fixed, and with turkey and all the fixings on board, we crossed the wide body of water of Mobile Bay accompanied by dolphins and brown pelicans. The air smelled differently; crab pots were in the water—we were beginning to feel we were in somewhat familiar waters. Hooray! We looked over in the distance with our binoculars and saw several small oil rigs—the first I’d ever seen. It was a beautiful, calm morning—we joked about being able to water ski in the Bay that morning—it was just that slick calm.

So we crossed the Mobile Bay and took a 90 degree left turn—guess where we were then? The Gulf-ICW!! Silly me, I always thought the ICW (the Inter Coastal Waterway) started in Florida, but in actuality, it begins in Texas. And for the better part of our trip back to NC, we’ll be in the ICW continuously —having good and mostly reliable red and green markers leading our way, houses on both sides, dolphins feeding and jumping all around the boat, brown pelicans doing their kamikaze dives, a few restaurants actually waterside (for instance, Lulu’s—Jimmy Buffet’s sister’s restaurant right on the ICW), ocean on our starboard, marsh on our port, and traveling through “sounds” mostly on our way back home. All somewhat familiar to us—this is good.

We set our anchors in Ingram’s Bayou just before sunset—we were all three rafted together. Everyone climbed over to Bella Luna and we had wine and cheese on our bow—what a beautiful evening it was too—such tranquility, pink and blue clouds covering half of the sky, hearing a wolf howling in the distant marsh, fish jumping, brown pelicans perched on nearby broken down pilings, and hearing what-we-thought was an unseen alligator grunting somewhere very nearby. I made Creole Shrimp for dinner for the six us—none of the others had ever had it—what a treat for us all—thank you, Barbara E, for the recipe and Kay, for offering “C-Life” as a place for us to gather!

Thanksgiving morning, we pulled our anchors up, and headed for Pensacola, Florida. About 10am we crossed the “state line”—which sounds funny being on the water! Not too much further up either, the scenery magically changed as well—all of a sudden, there were white sand dunes and long stretches of beach on our starboard & pink and green houses—yep, we must be in Florida. In fact, we have a picture of a big blue sign at water’s edge, “Welcome to Florida”, which we took at the state line—the first one of those we’d seen on the water—and we’ve been in many states since crossing back into the US at Drummond Island, the top of Michigan. Even the types of boats in the marinas we were passing were different—we were now in the land of the Sea Rays, sport fishing, and go-fast boats—such a difference from the trawlers and sail boats we’ve mostly been traveling with for the past several months.

We arrived in Pensacola around 1pm—Happy Thanksgiving everyone! There was no activity in the marina at all—we had wisely chosen to fix our own big dinner and not try to find a restaurant—good thing too, there was no courtesy car at this marina. So we all gathered around 4pm on “Wanderin” L & M” and had our own big feast—complete with champagne, thanks Margie! Being on boats didn’t hamper us at all—everything was delicious and appropriate for the occasion too. Although not with our families for this holiday, it was a special one for each of us being with friends whom we’ve traveled with on this wonderful journey. We all six told each other what we were most thankful for—a special day indeed. TYJ.

Friday, the guys wanted to go the Naval Air Museum and they wanted to rent a car for the day. No such luck on the car, none were available at two different companies. So all three of them decided to take the city bus—an hour each way, plus a 20 minute walk to the bus stop from the marina. Needless to say, the girls opted out of that adventure and we decided to walk up the street several blocks, have lunch, and see what was happening in town. We each enjoyed our day—Louis saying it was the best museum he’d ever been in—although the guys were tired when they got back to the boats. After a cocktail hour though, we wound up going back up the street for dinner—found a sports bar—ate chicken wings, burgers, and such—and Kay and I took a turn at shooting pool. What a hoot—neither of us knew what we were doing and the “game” ended up being a long one too, but lots of fun—we laughed at the shots taken (and there were no side bets either—it was a miracle when any of the balls fell in any of the pockets—Kay won by my landing the 8 ball in the opposite corner—whew, it was finally over!). A really good time was had by all.

Saturday morning, after a two hour delay, we were underway bound for the free city dock at Fort Walton Beach. With rain clouds around us all day, we thankfully were able to get tied up alongside the dock just before the deluge hit us—and it would rain hard all night too. Obviously, it was not an afternoon/evening to venture from our boats, so we brought out all the leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast and finished them off. Still delicious too, and we sadly finished eating the rest of the caramel cake—thanks again Mimi & Frank! (You now have two “Yankee” converts—who took all the information and tin back to their boat!)

We are now underway, a long day of 70+ miles, towards Panama City—where the boat will be stationary for the month of December. It’s a gray, fairly chilly day too (Sunday)—Louis is up top driving the boat and I’m down in the cabin writing this last entry, for a while, to our blog. We hope to be in our marina, Bay Point, by late afternoon. We have a car rented for the month of December and plan to drive home with Kay and Robert, who live in Southport, NC. As soon as we both can get our boats ready to leave them for the month, pack the car, and squeeze ourselves in, we’ll be underway. We hope that will be Tuesday, so we’ll be home sometime later on in the week. We hate to say good bye to Margie and Larry, Lisa and Jim, Linda and Charlie, Peggy and Guy, Muriel and Bud and Shelly, but we’ll pick back up with them sometime mid-January as we continue on down the west coast of Florida. Both Louis and I are looking forward to being on dry land for a while, seeing family and friends, and having our precious family for several days during Christmas. I’ll be way too busy this year getting our house (which has been neglected for 7 months) cleaned and decorated and ready for our family to come, shopping, cooking, and visiting with friends. Short trips to Durham, Morehead City, Hyde County, and Williamsburg are also planned in that time frame as well as our immediate family’s own triangle of Cary, Oxford, and Hyco Lake—we’ll be “burning up the road” while we're home, for sure. We hope to return to the boat with Kay and Robert to theirs sometime around the 29th or 30th of December.

So this is my last posting until we return to the boat, and this will be our best-as-it-will-get 2008 Christmas card for this special and wonderful year in our lives—we wish for our friends and family: peace, good health, safe travels, prosperity and good fortune.

God bless our troops.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Diane and Louis

1 comment:

nancy dallas said...

WOW! A merry to you and I'm just amazed at your energy, enthusiasm, etc.!!!!!!!!!!!! If we miss you, God Bless and I love keeping up with this exciting time in your life!!!!!!!!!!!