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

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

Enjoying Vero While We Prepare to Leave

As the title suggests, we are still in Vero Beach.  Our daily ficus has been on getting the boat ready for our next adventure on the water. This translates into cleaning, waxing the hull, repainting the anchor for added rust protection and addressing several annual maintenance projects on the boat, on the dinghy and the outboard. The bikes required repairs as well. Since we are currently at a slip, these tasks are a bit easier to manage.

But our next adventure isn’t on the water. Were preparing to leave the boat here for two months while we drive north to visit family and friends and also do some tent camping. (I defined the type of camping, since a few of you may consider our life on the boat to “camping.”)

All that said, as written in the last post, we have also enjoyed time with cruising friends who have stopped by during our stay here. We have been out walking and biking as well.wpid-wp-1433086053448.jpeg We all like the biking – even Maddie. Some of the neighborhoods are quite stunning with vegetation we never see up north. The live oak trees are everywhere, sometimes creating a canopy over the street.

I’vewpid-wp-1433086158905.jpeg also gotten a little sailing in while we’ve been here. Those unfamiliar with the travel up and down the ICW may not realize that, even though we are on a sailboat, we don’t get to sail much. So I get my sailing in using our dinghy. It’s really lots of fun and more challenging than sailing the bigger boat.wpid-wp-1433087854209.jpeg
Continue reading Enjoying Vero While We Prepare to Leave

Our Mobile Community

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, we have some difficulty answering the question about where home is for us. Our standard answer these days is usually “the east coast.” That said, we do feel pretty much at home in Marathon as well as Newport News, New Hampshire and our present location of Vero Beach. This familiarity comes from time spent in each location as well as the friends and family we spend time with while there.

However, not all our friends are attached to a single geographic location. Many of our friends are cruisers, so we meet up with them in different places. Sometimes these meetings are expected or even planned, while at other times they come as a surprise. 

Our experience this spring in Vero Beach is a perfect example of such meetings.  We’ve now been here for a bit more than a month.

We arrived in late April to find Derrick & Sharon on Yknot, friends who’s company we’ve enjoyed in Marathon each year. Not long after they left, Dick and Libby on Tarwathie stopped in for a short visit. Both couples were on their way north from Marathon to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where they will each store their boat for the summer while they travel to see family and friends.

Not long after they left, Bob and Deb, formerly on River House here in Vero, stopped by the marina, and we were lucky to catch up with them. They are no longer cruisers but are now CLODs (cruisers living on dirt) and own a house in this area. 

And then Larry and Terri on Vixen stopped by on their way back to their home in Jacksonville from the Keys. While we often see them as they visit Marathon in late winter, we first met them several years ago when we were invited to spend the night at their dock just off the St. John’s River.

Our most recent visitors were Steve and Kathy aboard Kit. While we had spent time with them in Marathon, we thought that we wouldn’t see them again until next fall upon our return.  So this was a pleasant surprise. They left  this morning headed to Jacksonville where they have decided to leave the boat for a bit as they do some family visiting and also spend time in northern Florida before heading somewhere south in the fall. We might meet up with them at that time…or not, depending on their travel and ours.

So you see, we’ve gotten together with a number of friends here who are not really part of the Vero scene. This is just one of the ways a cruiser’s life is a bit unusual. We do enjoy feeling at home in a variety of places, although we are never quite sure who we will meet up with while there.

Till the next entry,

Captain Bob
Carpe Diem

Blog Begins Once Again

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The sunset in Boot Key Harbor from the bow of Carpe Diem suggests appropriately that our time in Marathon has ended for another season. From most perspectives, we would describe it as another good season. We were a bit more involved in land based activities. Sandra continued her work helping others learn how to make pine needle baskets while also getting herself and others interested in make things with fused glass. I continued to volunteer at the Dolphin Research Center once a week. The highlight of this experience was the opportunity to get in a pool with a young dolphin for some unstructured play on one occasion for about an hour – really a treat.

Both of us continued our involvement with Tai Chi including a weekend workshop in Miami with a few of the top instructors in the organization.

Boat projects continued, of course. This winter we had all the old paint taken off the boat’s bottom before putting a barrier coat and new paint. It appears that we have blisters forming, so we’ll have to plan for dealing with them probably the next time the boat is out of the water – uck!

Visitors included Sandra’s sister and our daughter Jenn before we left in April to bring the boat to Vero Beach and then drive to Orlando to meet our other daughter, Sam and family for several days of fun and adventure. We all enjoyed a day at Disney World, another at Sea World and then drove to the Cape Kennedy Space Center before we returned to Vero Beach for a few days at the beach.

Following their visit, we planned to prepare to head back south to West Palm Beach with my sister Mary Jo joining us. Following that, we were to continue on south to the Keys again. But our plans are written in the sand, easily disappearing with a change in the tide.

We started with an engine problem that resulted in a delay and then a tooth ache which turned into a route canal and crown procedure for me. As we reviewed the calendar, it became clear that we’d be better served by changing plans and staying in Vero, since we’d have little time to enjoy the Keys by the time I resolved my tooth issue. No trip back south for this summer.  We decided that we’d leave the boat here in Vero once again. The change has already worked well, allowing us some time with a more relaxed pace as we attacked our “to do” lists.

This just reminds me of the advantage of remaining open to change when cruising. It probably would serve us well
even if we were not cruising. The truth is that change is part our reality. We begin to run into problems only when we get upset because we sense a loss of control of our planning. If, instead, we decide that change always includes a potential good outcome, we will be more likely to see that good and take the appropriate actions to continue to control our future in a positive way.

This has been a quick overview of our past several months. I’m hoping to get back into a routine of blogging. Getting the first one out was difficult. The second should be easier.

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We already miss the beautiful water of tge Keys. This was taken on the Seven Mile Bridge.

We already miss the beautiful water of the Keys. This was taken on the old Seven Mile Bridge.

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     Our view in Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale.

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A courting flamingo at the butterfly conservatory in Key West.