From Flatlands to the Mountains

As we traveled north from Vero Beach, we remained near the coast and therefore in the eastern flatlands up to North Carolina where we stopped to visit Priscilla Temple and her husband Jerry. Our stop was brief, but we enjoyed the visit, and Priscilla had a big bag of longleaf pine needles for Sandra’s basket making. From there we headed west toward the hills and mountains of North Carolina.

After a brief stop to visit with Sandra’s sister Kim, we continued on to the Hickory area where we stopped for a visit with my sister Kathy and her family. They took us up to Grandfather Mountain for a day trip. What great views we enjoyed from this mountain that is one of the tallest mountains in the East. We even crossed a walking Bridge at exactly 1 mile high.

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The swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain

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Looking out at the Blue Ridge Mountains

After that enjoyable visit, we headed back east to the flatlands and Newport News, Virginia where our daughter Jennifer lives. After only a brief stop here, we went back west into the mountains again to support Jenn in her newest interest – trail running. For those unfamiliar, I should tell you that this trail running is really a race over mountain trails. This one was a 25k race. Since these courses are over rough trails, often requiring one to scramble over boulders, it takes significantly longer to complete the run as compared to road race of the same distance.

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A short bit of the race was on a road.

This race had a small group of runners – about 36 – and she was pleased to finish in the middle of the pack. She was surprised, however, to learn that she was the second finishing woman and therefore received recognition for that accomplishment.

The race was held in a state park in the southwestern corner of Virginia described as the Grand Canyon of the South. Apparently this Gorge, at a depth of 1000 feet, is the deepest Gorge east of the Mississippi.  The race, called the Rhododendron Run, was timed at peak season for this beautiful flower to be blossoming.

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More beautiful vistas.

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Lots of Blossoms in the woods

This Park was, however, not easy to reach. The roads in the whole area of the state are steep and windy with lots of switchbacks – not great for those who might get car sick easily.

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We found kudzu vines crawling everywhere in this part of the state. We understand that in the south kudzu now covers more than 7 million acres.

Since we have traveled nearly 1000 miles north of sunny, warm Florida one would think the temperatures would be cooler. Not so. Other than our time in the mountains, since arriving in North Carolina and Virginia, we have seen temperatures regularly getting into the ninety’s – occasionally up around 100 –  and it’s still only June. I guess we’ll have to continue travelling all the way to New England to get to some cool weather.  We’ll be doing just that in a couple of weeks.

Till the next installment, carpe diem

Captain Bob

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Our Stay at Vero Comes to an End

We are in our last week for this current visit to Vero Beach. As I think about our stay, that which we especially like about this place and activities we continue to enjoy, I can’t help but think about the plants we see that are so different from all that we grew up with in NE. A walk around the neighborhood is all it takes. Live oaks (pictured in the last post) dominate the scenery followed closely by a wide variety of palms.
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Sandra loves hibiscuses and buys them whenever they become available. But here they grow as large bushes or even as small trees.
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Add to this the variety of other flowering bushes and trees and you get some idea of our appreciation of the beauty of this area of the country.

What dominates the wild side along the shore is a variety of mangroves. They can be seen everywhere there is quiet salty or brackish water. They don’t need dry ground, so the tides bother them not at all. Creating a complex system of prop roots, they extend into the water and protect the shoreline from the ravages of storms.
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Their importance to the coastline is recognized. Thus they are protected in many areas. Down in Florida Bay by the Keys, they even grow were there is no dry land. Thus over time they create islands. The Bay and the Everglades have now thousands of such islands.
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We get our best views of the mangroves from the water – here by kayak.

Aside from enjoying the beach with surf and warm water, we also benefit from Vero’s proximity to West Palm Beach where my sister Mary Jo and her husband Scott, along with their son Toby, live, and another son Peter and a daughter Jill live with their respective families. We spent part of the last weekend down there visiting them all – great fun.

A nearby attraction we also recently visited was the Navy SEAL Museum. we had heard good things about it and were not disappointed with our visit. We got to learn about the history of the Seals and how they were established by President Kennedy in 1962. We saw examples of their equipment and weapons. Exhibits also included the 911 aftermath, the rescue of Captain Phillips made famous by the recent movie and the successful attack on bin Laden’s compound. This museum in Fort Pierce, Florida is worth a stop.
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Later this week we will move the boat to a mooring from its present slip in preparation for hurricane season. That means taking the gear off the deck including bimini. We will also empty the fridge, close through hulls and secure the dinghy on deck. We have arranged with a local boater to watch the boat during our 2 months absence, and he’ll probably move it to a more protected spot among the mangroves if a hurricane actually threatens during our time up north.

While my upcoming blog posts will not focus on life aboard Carpe Diem, they will continue to share reflections of a liveaboard sailor even while away from the boat.

Until the next post…
Carpe Diem
Captain Bob