Erie County Fair and more Land Activities

I’ve been going to this fair all my life. When I was little, my mom’s cousin lived down the street from the fair grounds.  He used to come and pick me up in the evening and take his son and me to watch the fireworks from the parking lot. Everyone in town schedules their day at the fair to enjoy the exhibits, animals, food and midway rides.

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This year is the 175th anniversary of the Erie County Fair. One of the highlights was a demonstration by Nik Wallenda, a local celebrity for his historic tightrope walk across Niagara Falls in 2012, check out this link of his walk across the falls, it’s great.

We always park outside of gate 2 and the Nya:Weh Indian Village.  They are part of the Seneca Nation which is part of six in the Iroquois Nation.  We read about this powerful, organized nation last year in our history book.  Much of the geography in Western New York has Iroquois names.  The town my mom lives in is West Seneca and our high school teams are the Indians.

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Today was a special day at the fair.  Celebrating the 175th anniversary, the midway had free rides for an hour and a half.  I was more excited than the kids because they usually buy a wrist band giving them unlimited rides all day.  The only ride I like is the Ferris Wheel.

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When I was a kid the fair had a sky ride and a double Ferris Wheel which was two separate wheels rotating as well as unit that attached them to each other. The regular Ferris Wheel is still fun.  The view from the top made the fairgrounds look small, even though my tired feed didn’t believe it.

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In Roman and Medieval times the fair was a holiday.  Traditionally in America the fair is a place to show produce and animals, new products and offer entertainment.

The 911 Standing Tall exhibit by Steel Crazy Iron Art was on display as a fund raiser. This sculpture has been on display all over Western New York since Sept 11, 2011 at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base, soliciting funds to create a 3 acre sculpture park in Buffalo.

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Every year we look forward to the Peking Acrobats show. At the top of their Facebook page they thank both the Erie County Fair and the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, CA.  That’s cool, we live in Orange County, CA but never see them perform there because we’re always here in Buffalo during the OC fair.

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Today only, to celebrate the 175th anniversary, many of the food vendors offered items for $1.75.  We had funnel cakes, cotton candy, french fries, pizza, French Waffles, and by then we were so sugared up and full of grease we couldn’t remember eating anything else.

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Ahh, the favorite ride of the day is always the foot vibrator.

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After a great morning with Amy and Maria Evancho (Amy and I were neighbors as kids and we reconnected when the girls played during the summers), we met up the Kelly Parker and her family (Kelly and I met when we were 13 and now get together daily when we’re in town for the summer. My maid of honor too!).

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As you can see by the way we’re covered up, the weather turned chilly.  Normally, we’re all sweaty and sunburned looking for places to fill the water bottles.

The girls got wrist bands, $20 with a coupon from the grocery store, for unlimited rides all day.

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A few days later we returned for the Demolition Derby.

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As with all sporting events the Demolition Derby started with the National Anthem sung by Douglas Allen, the Anthem Guy.  His biography is great, he graduated from a local high school the same year I did, went to college to be a music teacher, goofed off, had fun and now sings for sporting events, gatherings for public holidays, weddings, funerals, church camps and most important he sings for Jesus at the Fellowship Wesleyan Church in West Seneca. Like our favorite California Church, Sea Coast Grace, the Fellowship Wesleyan Church offers sermons online, no need to leave home to listen to how Jesus wants to be in your life.

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There were 8 heats with different categories.  They started out with drivers who never participated in a Demolition Derby and went up through professionals on tour.

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The cars started by lining up back to back for a style judging.  Some of the cars were painted and decorated with themes ranging from cancer awareness, to princesses and snowmen.

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The cars tried to smash the rear ends avoiding the radiators and other important parts under the hood.  Occasionally flames would shoot out from the front end and the firemen would rush out there to put out the fire.

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At the end of the show we got lost leaving the Grandstand and exited through a room we hadn’t seen.  We were really bummed that everything was closing down and we didn’t have time to explore this room.

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They had quilts, table settings, flower arrangements, paintings and photography, antiques and crafts.

This paint dripping exhibit with 175 for the fair anniversary gave us some ideas for leftover paint.

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Then when we exited the building a crowd was gathering for a laser light show.  Marie scooted to the front and found a seat despite Roy’s insistence that we should go home.  It was a great show!

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All kinds of characters that we recognized were set to motion with music. Beautiful colors and kaleidoscope patterns combined with music from the generations got everyone dancing, singing or just rocking in their seat.  Thanks to Genny and her new collection of pop music I was able to recognize the new music as well.  You know “What does the fox say!” and how about “Roar”.

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The finale was a tribute to America with scenes from 911, the moon landing, and famous art and sculptures celebrating America.

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Buffalo was once a great steel town with industries along the lake and transportation for all of these manufactured goods that made money contributing to the national economy.  Now most of it is gone and sent to places where the labor is cheaper.  But people of my generation remember how our parents and grandparents worked in that industry and there is still a very strong sense of pride for the American worker.

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What else did we do, how about trying to join the “I thought I killed the Van” club.  About 15 years ago, my brother borrowed the van to take a California Road trip, the screws came out of the cabinets in the back, the air conditioner stopped cooling the stories could keep a crowd entertained for an evening. Recently our pals borrowed the van for a road trip and the transmission blew up on them. So it really wasn’t a surprise when after driving the van all morning on errands it decided not to start for one last errand.  I had Eric on the speaker phone tracing wires and using the volt meter (which is about as foreign to me as a scalpel in an operating room).  By morning I decided to try hot wiring it by touching a cable from the battery to the starter solenoid. Wowsie, it started.  The kids and I danced around the driveway, the van could go to the mechanic under its own power.

He found a corroded connection to the transmission/ignition area, cleaned it up and we were off to the movies with all the kids in the neighborhood.  Yesterday I took the van into a tire shop to have it’s tires rotated and the guy there said he loves working on out of state vehicles and ours is in great condition.  Huh? This is about a vehicle that has an “I thought I killed the van” club.  Thanks guys, you made the van happy.

The van also transported a gaggle of girls to Savers thrift store for dressup clothes.  Everyone got beautiful formal wear at half the price you would pay for a Disney costume made for a toddler.  We’re planning a formal wear party for the fall.

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We also had a great evening at Jim and Ania’s house celebrating my brother’s birthday.  Normally we’re in Canada on our fishing trip for his birthday, but this year we all cancelled so one of our fishing mates could recover from a health issue.  It was a fun evening with family and a few of his neighbors that dropped by.  Ania always makes some delicious Polish treat while we show up with a supply of smore ingredients and little sausages.

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Other land activities we’ve been enjoying are things like laying around on the floor with dogs piled all around us.

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Or how about using the curling iron.  Eric would have great anxiety if he saw a heating element like a curling iron come aboard to suck up Makai’s batteries.

Marie has new neighborhood friends.  Last year several houses on the street turned over and new families moved in.  Miranda, Christina, and Jesse are on one side of the street and little Olivia is on the other side.  Marie loves playing with Olivia, she’s so cute!

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Miranda and Marie spent the day at Olivia’s birthday party, the weather was chilly, but the pizza was hot.

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The weather has its ups and downs, some days it’s chilly and others we’re out at the pool swimming with the pups.

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Really, the dogs own this pool.  They enjoy it more than anyone else, the two of them are nose to nose at the opening of the gate.  When the gate opens there is some sort of a competition for who can get to the water first.  They push and shove each other racing the 8 feet from the gate to the water and then leap in.  The People take turns standing at the stairs and throwing toys to keep the pups out of trouble in the pool.

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The pool sounds great, but mom is tired of taking care of it.  Pools are very common in WNY but they can only be used in July and August when the night time temps are warm keeping the pool water temp from dipping too low for people to enjoy their swim.  Also, the pool requires chemicals, testing, cleaning and structural maintenance. This pool is over 20 years old and while it works great today, at anytime it could fall apart.

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So Mom decided to have it removed.  We called a guy that said he has someone who would love a free pool, drain it and he’ll be there Saturday morning to haul everything away.

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But when he arrived he decided it was too old to take down and reassemble.  OH BOY, it’s drained, we can’t use it, and he’s not going to take it!  I mentioned that if he had come a day earlier to tell us he didn’t want it, we wouldn’t have drained it and we could still use it until the end of the summer.  He said this and that, I said a that and this and then I suggested that he get in his truck and leave as quickly as he could because we didn’t want this 2 minute conversation to go on any longer.

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What to do now?  Roy and I got out screw drivers and started to take it apart. We called Jim to come and help rescue us and by the time he arrived the pool was rolled up and stacked in the driveway.

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Jim came with power tools and safety gear, a bagster (dumpster in a bag) and we got to work.

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By the end of the day all pool related items were out front and there was nothing left to do but deal with the gravel, sand and mud.  The girls decided to make it a spa day.

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Jim and I decided to drink beer and think about what to do next.  A few days later we borrowed a pick up truck and took the metal to be recycled.  The recycling place said that ours was the third pool that day.  Later we delivered the filter, heater and stairs to Kelly.  Now we’re left with cleaning up the gravel and sand, then spreading topsoil and planting seed. I alternate working on this project with other projects like replacing the wooden thresholds on the porch, yard work, van maintenance, and homeschooling of course.

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The day after demolition we joined Jim and Ania and cousin Patryk at the Elmwood Festival of the Arts.  The street was lined with vendors selling artsy crafts, beautiful jewelry, pottery, clothes, paintings and photos.

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There were also two music stages and a kids area with crafts and games.

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At 4pm the parade came by which was about 20 feet long and consisted of band instruments, clowns and people on stilts.

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They headed to the stage at the end of the street for dancing and speeches closing the festival.

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At 5pm the mounted police rode up and down Elmwood Ave. announcing first that the festival was over and then that everyone had to get on the sidewalk.

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Living on Land

Even though we LOVE living on Makai, especially anchored in front of some deserted sandy island surrounded by pristine water and white sand beaches, living on land has it’s good points too.  After putting Makai away for the summer, we drove through Gettysburg and did the 2 hour battlefield audio driving tour, then up to the Harrison’s house in New Jersey.  The van felt like it was going home because Ginger and Bruce have been storing our van at their house in the winters. We met the Harrison’s about eight years when they moved into the cabin at the end of the road in Angelus Oaks, CA.  We were best cabin pals for about four years and then they moved back to New Jersey.  It was sad to see them go, but now we have someone in New Jersey to visit.  First thing the next morning Bruce took Eric to the Philadelphia Airport on his way to work and the rest of us went to the beach.  Yea, Jersey Shore here we come, from the land side!

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Normally going to the beach consists of a short swim or dinghy ride to shore.  We don’t bring anything except maybe a bottle of water and shoes if we think we’ll go beyond the sand.  From Ginger’s in Milford, NJ on the border with Pennsylvania, we drove to her sister’s house in Trenton, NJ and then to Seaside Heights.  Nearly two hours later we dragged bags of beach gear to the sand and experienced the beach from the dry side.

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Roy was the only dude among 9 dudettes, so he dug a hole and buried himself up to his chin. Ginger’s daughter Amy is a Marine Biology student in North Carolina full of answers to questions you might have at the beach. Like pointing out the little jelly orbs which are squid eggs.  She was also happy to swim with my kids.

Amy was pretty much my first and most consistent babysitter when she lived in California.  Since Eric was usually busy taking care of his fleet of jeeps or doing projects, Amy would hang out with the kids in our cabin so I could go to visit with Ginger, have dinner at the Harrison’s cabin and have quiet shopping trips down the hill in Redlands.  Later, Amy’s sister Tess went from my helper on weekends to another babysitter.  Thanks ladies!

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I thought the water was cold, but I must have been wrong because they spent quite a bit of time in the water.

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I was surprised how clear the water was when I saw the photos.

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Our experience as we sailed along the coast was that the water was murky, mucky, and muddy, but this was beautiful.

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Well, that’s that for that, pack up and on to the Boardwalk.

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Ginger and her siblings spent the summers here at their grandparent’s house when they were young.  They have decades worth of stories, traditions and favorites.  In 2012 as the kids and I were preparing to drive from California to the East Coast before flying to Makai in Grenada, Hurricane Sandy was destroying this coastline. Follow this link for shocking before and after photos of the neighborhood Hurricane Sandy devastated. Part of the community’s rebuild they started a ‘Sponsor a Bench’ program.  Ginger and her siblings chipped in to have this bench engraved with their grandparent’s names as a tribute to their childhood memories and love for the Jersey Shore at Seaside Heights.

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The kids and I rode the sky ride down to the amusement pier.

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It was a long way down to the sand, but the view from above the boardwalk was unique.

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We were drooling as we passed the treat shops.

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Finally, it was pizza time. Do you want a large, how about 24 inches large.

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A single slice requires a big appetite.

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How about desert.  Tesse ordered this Belgian waffle ice cream sandwich.

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What a great day, the sun is setting and we have a two hour ride back home.  Everyone has thoughts of a nice hot shower and a soft cozy bed.

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How about a relaxing day hanging around the house.  Oops, maybe not, its moving day.  Ginger is moving out of the antique shop she was showing her wares at.  We had a great system going on.  Ginger was in the basement directing the movers, Marie was tasked with calling the elevator down when the movers yelled down the shaft, Amy, Genny and Roy were the movers, and I packed the boxes into Ginger’s pick-up and our van. After two truck loads and a van load of antiques were transferred from the basement of the shop to the basement at home, we got our reward.

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Ice cream sundaes for dinner!  Everyone scooped their favorite flavor and topped it with magic shell topping, whipped cream, sprinkles, banana, and cherries.  No room for dinner :)

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Never a dull moment.  Today a regular old trip to the grocery store includes blueberry picking.

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A sunflower field.

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Pretty girl selfie. Then a stop at the Amish Market for a snack.  Apparently the Amish from the Pennsylvania Dutch area in Lancaster Pennsylvania come here and treat us with their specialties.  We were pretty hungry and all enjoyed pretzel wrapped hot dogs, fudge, chocolate covered bacon and wished we could stock up on everything in their hot deli, meat market and ice cream shop.

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No time for all that, we had to get our groceries home.  Bruce took over the kitchen and made sausage stuffed zucchini and a yummy sausage stew to be served on buns.

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Ginger and I enjoyed sparkling wine with mashed blueberries. A great way to end another action packed day.

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Early the next morning Roy and Bruce headed out to a favorite fishing hole.

Even though Bruce and Roy make it look easy, it’s not as common to catch big fish in the rivers as it was for Roy to catch the same size fish as they swim under Makai in the Bahamas.

That afternoon, the girls and I packed up the van to rendezvous with Bruce and Roy and continue on to Buffalo.  Ginger said to go out her driveway to Church Rd and make a right.  But the GPS said to go left and the iPhone disagreed with the GPS.  Come on, which way should I go?  I followed Ginger’s advice and went to the right.

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We picked up Roy and continued on another six hours to Buffalo to see Topaz, Nannie and J.J. Oh yea, shmoogle on our pup.  We’ve missed cuddling and smooching on her ears, rubbing her back and scratching her belly.

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Topaz and JJ, Nannie’s Duck Tolling Retreiver, have been enjoying their own private swimming pool this summer.

But now that we’ve brought kids, they have to share.  So far they’ve had to swim with our friend Maria whose grandma used to live two houses down and her mother was my first neighborhood friend, Hannah whose grandparents are our family’s oldest friends, Sadie who’s mom is my pal from our teen years, and of course my hooligans.

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Marie made a new friend whose family just moved in down the road.

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But there are bonuses for the dogs to share their private resort with kids.  Times like breakfast when they can try for a morsel from an unsuspecting kid.

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Topaz went from her favorite corner in Makai’s cockpit to sharing couches with JJ.  Even though they are ‘only pups’ for most of the year, they are very good at sharing couches, the water bowl, prime begging spaces, and can even lick a plate together.

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Back to fishing, Roy and my brother Jim had a great day at the Genessee River. Jim caught a massive 18 inch trout.

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Jim and Ania wrapped it in foil with dill and butter and baked it for an hour.  We all ate our fill and still had the little ones left over for another meal.

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The kids and I also went to work.  We trimmed the hedge and bushes, mowed the lawn, weed wacked, pulled weeds, washed the windows, trimmed Topaz’s nails and gave her a haircut, and a few other odds and ends.

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Marie was so exhausted she needed to rest with visions of a day at the spa dancing through her head.

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Another project Eric set us up with is the Raspberry Pi.  This is a small linux based credit card size computer. It comes to you with nothing more than a circuit board and usb, hdmi, and SD card ports for you to plug in accessories. After a few days of dealing with the knotted tangle of wires, we went out and bought a piece of Plexiglas and some zip ties to mount the pieces.

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I spent many hours trying to get the Raspberry Pi connected to the local network here with no luck, so Genny decided to play with a programming game on it called scratch.

We are part of a very small family, so it’s always special to visit with my brother and his wife.  Their house backs up to a tennis court and the kids like to go on an ‘egg hunt’ to collect stray balls.

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Ever since out campout with the Aanonsons, smores have been on our mind.

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Why have a regular smore when you can have a giant one.

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While we were discussing fun activities for us to do together, it was decided that after dinner we should run over to the Botanical Gardens in South Park.

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The main event is Morty, their Corpse Flower. The long line meandered through the gardens which gave us a chance to read the signs and more slowly and carefully enjoy the other exhibits. The Amorphophallus titanum is a native to rain forests in Sumatra and Indonesia.  It only blooms for a few days every 6-8 years producing a dead flesh stink.  Roy was excited to see it because of he has read stories and seen cartoons that feature a stinky rare flower.

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It sure was big, but we didn’t smell the stench we had hoped for.  This bloom was less than 24 hours old and should have been stinky.  I think the gardens had fans blowing most of the smell away.

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When I was a kid my family toured the Botanical Gardens after Easter Mass at Our Lady of Victory Basilica. I remember the gardens smelling so fresh decorated with lilies and other spring flowers.  In Buffalo there could still be snow on the ground, but the Botanical Gardens was a pleasant break from winter.

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Back at Nannie’s spa, Marie is relaxing in the sun.

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The pups continue to swim.  Apparently Topaz doesn’t need a boat in pristine water, just a big tub of water in the backyard will do.

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I like to stand on the steps, receive the toy and toss it out again.

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Ah yes, this is the life.  Too bad it only lasts for a month or two, then you have to pack up the pool and put away the lounges, bring out the coats, boots and hats and prepare for winter again.

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If JJ and Topaz aren’t cute enough, how about Bo, Kelly’s new puppy.

The kids have their lists of needs.  We usually save them up and then have a kid appreciation day.  Genny and I had a relaxing stroll through Khols in the morning and then Roy and I went to the newly opened Cabela’s.  Apparently, you can never have too much fishing gear.  We have learned this traveling because every new body of water we visit is a new habitat, different fish and a different set of gear.

Living on land also means enjoying the fruits of the farms.  For many years we’ve joined Jim and Ania and cousin Patryk blueberry picking in East Otto. Burdick’s property is beautiful with a vegetable garden and seasonal flowers and 40 acres of blue berries.   At the farm stand we buy containers or weigh our own and then climb into a modified pick-up truck for a ride out to the field currently being picked.

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The employees direct us to the next row to be picked.  Everyone has their containers ready to fill.  The clusters of fat juicy berries drop off easily into our small containers we use to fill up the bigger boxes.

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We noticed how our berry picking with the kids has improved this year. The day is usually hot and the kids get whiny quickly, but this year they quickly filled the baskets with minimum complaints about the heat.

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The best part about picking berries is TASTING berries. I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue berries as big as these in the stores. It is a good thing they didn’t weigh me before and after picking, I’m sure I would have had to pay extra for all the berries I consumed.

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Jim and Ania make jam and freeze their berries.  Patryk had plans to take his to a pot luck he was attending this evening.  We’ll take ours home and freeze most of them, give away a few, and eat the rest.  After picking we set ourselves up at a picnic table under the trees for snack before returning home.

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Makai Hauled Out

Today is the day Makai has been waiting for.  The last time she was out of the water to service hull below the waterline and apply anti fouling paint was in November of 2012 in Grenada.  This job should be done every two years as the anti fouling paint only lasts that long if you are lucky. In May before leaving the Bahamas we scrubbed the bottom clean and smooth to reduce drag for maximum speed on our travels up to New York. After leaving the Bahamas we could never see very far into the water for a glimpse of what might be growing on the hull. Eight weeks later we pulled into the marina here and the reef began to grow on Makai’s hull.

The starboard side was facing the sun and grew this six to twelve inch grass.

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After lunch the yard guys were ready for us. There is only a few inches clearance between Makai’s 24 foot beam and the docks, so Eric and Roy nailed carpets on the dock to protect from scratches.

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Eric maneuvered Makai into this narrow space in reverse.  Then the travel lift rolls onto the dock and we adjust the sling under the hulls.

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As you can see Makai fills the space.

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When everything is secure the lift raises the straps and Makai is suspended exposing the mess that has grown on her bottom since leaving the Bahamas.

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I was shocked on the number of barnacles that have attached to the hulls.

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Last summer Makai was in the Marina in Solomons, MD for 3.5 months and at the dock in New Smyrna Beach, FL for another month and only grew a hand full of barnacles.  This is just crazy.

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Makai went for a ride to the cleaning station.

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There the yard had big scrapers to pop the barnacles off the hulls.  The yard guy said our hitchhikers were very young, we’re convinced that most of them attached in the three weeks we’ve been here in this marina.

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The whole cleaning process took several hours.

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Four people scraped, then they got out a power washer that blew away scum from the bottom and the water line.  The power washer even got scum on the water line that I had been unable to scrub off.  Unfortunately, much of the blue boot stripe was removed as well.  I guess repainting that can be added to the work list.

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The anti fouling paint is designed to slough off over time. Keeping the boat moving will swoosh the scum off the hull and the paint slowly sloughs leaving fresh paint to combat marine growth.  In 2012 Eric and Brian rolled red paint over the blue paint.  As you can see most of the red paint has disappeared.

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Next an acid solution was used to dissolve the tannin stains.  The brackish river water contains tannin from the leaves and trees that fall and soak in the water.  This brown stain is really an eye sore and can only be removed with an acid wash.  In the past I’ve used Starbrite Hull Cleaner from West Marine and recently used an acidic toilet bowl cleaner which is much less expensive.  Unfortunately, the stains start appearing again after just a few days back in the water.  I may wait to wax the boat until just before we leave the Chesapeake Bay in November as the acid wash not only removes the stains but also removes the wax.

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It is pretty cool seeing Makai parked in the bushes.

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From the deck looking out into the parking lot I felt like it was a long way down to the ground.

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Eric removed the propellers, they will be shipped off to Washington State to be refurbished.

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The travel lift moved Makai to the upper storage area to be blocked on land.

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According to a diagram published by the Leopard Catamaran manufacturer, Makai was set on blocks under structural bulk heads that can support the weight.

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Here she is with the van parked next to her.  Now she’s a stranded RV in the forest with the cicadas buzzing and the lightning bugs twinkling. We spent the day stowing everything on the outside of the boat.  While we’re gone everything needs to be protected from the weather and reduce the temptation for sticky fingers.

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Yes, we’re back to camping.  There is a water snake in the middle of this photo.

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A giant mushroom grows in the moist undergrowth.

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Our next adventure begins in the morning.  We’ll drive up to Gettysburg and take the audio car tour we didn’t have time for last year.  Then continue on to Ginger and Bruce’s house in New Jersey.  Wednesday Bruce will take Eric to the airport in Philadelphia on his way to work while the rest of us tag along with Ginger and her crew on their adventures.  Over the weekend the kids and I will head for Buffalo to spend the month cuddling on Topaz and JJ and visiting with friends and family in Buffalo.

After Labor Day Eric and I will return to Makai to replace thru hull fittings, remove a few and glass them over, seal up the gap between the keels and the hull, sand and paint the bottom, do a little waxing between the hulls where it’s impossible to reach when the boat is in the water, and dump the anchor chain out and turn it over so we can use the end that doesn’t normally get used.

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Dennis Point Marina – Part 2

SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE  The Aanonson Boys and their grandparents are here.  The boys are our neighbors in California and are spending a few weeks with their grandparents in Florida.  After the July 4th holiday, Mark and Sandy packed everyone up in the RV for a road trip to Tennessee and then up to Niagara Falls. Hoping they could stop here along the way, I sent them an invitation to please come visit us at the Dennis Point Marina and Campground, and they accepted! But, I was being sneaky and didn’t tell the kids they were coming.

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Mark and Sandy pulled in after midnight, so we decided to meet in the morning.  When the Aanonson’s were awake, fed and ready for the day, I took my kids up to the playground to play a bit of badminton. We played in the road so we could get a bit of shade and relief from the heat.  Occasionally a car would come by and we would move to the side.  Then this Jeep came up to us and just sat there, what’s up with that, we moved aside, they should keep going.  To the surprise of the Mears kids, Tyler and Cody crawled out.  I never saw such a look on Roy before in his whole life.  Now, everything is right with the world, he has fishing, crabbing, great electronics, beautiful scenery, his favorite boat, internet, a car and FRIENDS.

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Right away the kids set out to do everything.  On a steamy hot day in Maryland, the swimming pool is always a good idea.  Hey kids, don’t forget your sunscreen!  The good news is that their mono-brow, mustache, and goatee won’t get sunburned, but what about the rest of their body.

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They must be getting older. An organized game of Monkey in the Middle (Pickle in the Middle to some of us) kept them occupied for quite awhile.  They had a system where the bystanders rotated into the game when the Monkey got the ball.

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Badminton was also a big hit.  They played taking turns serving, counting points, using court boundaries and had some great volleys.

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One minute we’re cruising, the next we’re camping.  Mark got a bunch of firewood and we had a campfire to roast marshmallows on.

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The kids took turns on Mark’s scooter.

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They ran in the big grassy field, shooting air rockets and goofing off.

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Give a kid some motor powered speed and they’re hooked.

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As the sun went down, the lightning bugs came out and the bushes twinkled. The boys love to play with fire so they lit the citronella candles to keep away the mosquitoes.  The east coast is very wet, swampy, mossy, rainy, and green.  No one here worries about wild fires, its nice to relax and not feel like the kids are going to burn down the neighborhood with one wrong move.

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The project of the week is to replace the fore stay and service the roller furling. In the last few months of sailing, rolling up the jib was a struggle.  One person would grind away on the winch while the other would go up front and help the sail turn on the fore stay.  Each time we rolled it up I was thankful that we managed to safely stow the jib.  The roller system consists of slotted tubes that slide onto the fore stay and a drum that turns them.  When the jib is raised up in the slot, the drum should turn the tubes and roll the jib up on the fore stay.

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Eric tied a line to the top of the  fore stay and disconnected it.  Then Ken walked the drum at the bottom down the dock and past Dream Catcher while everyone else tried to keep the tubes straight while Eric lowered it.

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Don’t worry, those poor kids had plenty of relaxing movie time. Jeanette from Dream Catcher, Cody, Genny, Tyler, Roy and Marie relaxed in the air conditioned salon with fresh cold fruit and a movie. After 4 days with their California Pals, the Aanonson’s were on the move.  Sandy would be flying back to California with the boys to safely deliver them home.

 

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Eric had a lot on the project list this week.  First was Van appreciation day.  When Beth and I picked it up in North Carolina after it’s emergency transmission replacement, we noticed it was running really rough.  We took it back to the dealer and they gave us a story about burning off the stickers and excess fluid on the under carriage.  Eric decided to replace the spark plugs and change the oil.  When he got in there he found that one of the fuel injector wires had come off so it was only firing on 7 cylinders. The van was very happy to be firing on all eight after it’s personal mechanic took care of it.

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After years of service the fittings and connectors on the roller furling system were pretty well corroded. For the rest of the week Eric drilled out the the old set screws, replaced parts, serviced the bearings in the drum and retapped and screwed the tubes back together.  The heat and humidity was intense, Eric used an umbrella for a little shade, but that only helps a little.

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After several days of struggle, trips to town ten miles away for tools, and assistance at a machine shop, he finally got the drum apart, replaced the bearings and put it all back together. Next he had to measure and cut the wire for the new fore stay, string the roller tubes on it and install a Norseman fitting at the top that attaches to the mast. Whew, Eric decided next time this has to be done he is going to hire a rigger to come take care of it.

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There is always something you can learn along the way.  Like for instance, this can of WD40 is clearly labeled that it can not be sold in California.  If you look at the bottom in the safety hotline box it shows that the WD40 company is in San Diego, CA.  I suppose it could have been made in some other state and not sold in California.

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After a string of hot humid days there are usually a few rainy days.  When it rains here you would think someone was holding a huge bucket of water over the town and just pouring it down on us.  While Eric was taking a break after the rigging project, the rain came down and one of our front windows began to leak.  We filled up bowls of water and soaked several towels.  This would be a huge mess if left unattended while we leave the boat in August.

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Eric removed the ports, cleaned out the old caulk and rebedded them.  The hose test proved that the job was a success.

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We went to visit friends that we had met last fall. Last October I noticed Casey in the library with four school age kids during school hours and introduced myself, hoping to find homeschool friends to do daytime activities with.   We had some great afternoons at the park and learned about the Schnitker family’s adventure.  They had just sold their house and were working on purchasing a 128 acre farm.  We were excited to see how it all turned out. They had been to farm school and spent countless hours researching and learning about natural farming.  Rotating the animals so they can do the work of fertilizing and loosening the soil and clearing the land.

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Since their farm is new, so are all the animals.  They have a new puppy who is being trained as a working farm dog and kittens to keep control of the rodent population.  All of the working pets get lots of love from the four children living at home.  They also have two older brothers, one is in College and the other in the Army, plus a baby on the way.

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We got a tour and met the pigs.  They are contained by an electric wire.  They spend their day rutting around in their corner of the forest, eating the ground cover when they don’t have their head in the trough. Every few weeks they get moved to a fresh piece of forest to clear and rut around it.

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The puppy is so small, but is learning about her farm and following us everywhere.

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They spent the winter repairing the out buildings.  This is an old tobacco barn.  It is open and airy to hang the tobacco plants for drying.

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Nick gets to learn to drive by transporting pig feed in the little pick up truck. Check out the two kids in red shirts in the red truck.

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Even the little ones drive the tractor with a cart of water down there.

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Marie and Clair took turns cuddling the kittens.

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The fields around the house still grow leftovers from crops of previous years.  There is wheat, corn and grass.  I wish Casey was writing this post because she gave me so much information I couldn’t possibly remember it all. The chickens also get moved around with their electric enclosures.  In one pen there are laying hens and in another are meat birds. Jeanette and Henry found eggs.

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What great fun.  Another day everyone came to the marina for a swim and to play at the playground.

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Roy got back to business with crabbing.  Everyday about an hour after low tide for about two hours the crabs are active.  He ties a chicken leg to a line and throws it in.  One time he brought up a turtle eating on his bait.  Normally, Roy brings in about half a dozen crabs to be steamed each day. The males greater than 5 1/4 inches get put into a bucket of ice to chill out while waiting for the steamer.  Small crabs and females get returned.  This female scuttles around the dock with her claws up ready for a fight.

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Roy has learned to steam his catch.  When he gets six we boil two inches in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot and then toss them in for 20 minutes.

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Afterwards the crabs cool in a tray and I clean, crack and pick them collecting enough meat for a delicious crab cake from each critter.  All this crabbing really took its toll on Roy’s net so off to the Tackle Box fishing store for a replacement. This is Roy’s kind of store!

I took the kids off to Walmart for Kid appreciation day.  They got little crafts like a face paint kit and cross stitch projects, a movie from the $5 bin, and boxes of candy.  As the weather cycle turns, this week is cold.  Genny and Jeanette have to wrap in a blanket in the chilly morning. No need to fear, steamy days will return.  Some days after the rain the humidity drops and everything cools off, on other days it just gets worse as the rain evaporates and raises the humidity hovering over the ground.

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Dream Catcher left and now its time to begin packing.  Soon Makai will be hauled out of the water, Eric will fly to California to work at the office and the kids and I will drive up to Buffalo to see my mom and Topaz and JJ.

We went through each cabin and every locker packing things we want to use next month and also things we want to remove from the boat.  Some of the excess stuff went to the dumpster, other stuff got donated and the rest will be transported back to California in the van when it gets repositioned this fall.

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Dennis Point Marina, Southern Maryland

This is the end of the line for Makai’s cruise this year.  We have about 3 weeks in the Dennis Point Marina and Campground, then Makai will be hauled out in the ship yard here for some under the water line servicing and summer storage before starting our 3rd season underway. Eric and I have a long list of projects to work on in the next few weeks, but we have priorities here.  Like crabbing!

Roy immediately hooked up with our neighbor Tom for the low down on Dennis Point crabbing.  Tom has a few traps on the dock and a live crab storage crate.   Roy had fun scooping the crabs up as they swim by and crawl up the pilings around the marina.

The bait balls bubble the water around the marina as well.  Roy got this fabulous white perch in this throw net while he was collecting bait fish.  Strangely enough, he has been unsuccessful with fishing here.

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This facility is mostly a campground with permanent sites occupied by campers that look like they’ve been here for years.  Many have porches, decks, gardens, and sheds.  There is also a large lawn for short term campers that includes a volleyball net, tether ball and horse shoes. Along the water there are tie ups for small boats, many are vacant during the week but the weekend campers bring their boats to play on the water.  In our little corner is a short dock that has four slips on either side and a long dock at the end that can accommodate two catamarans.   In the parking lot we have a nice swimming pool, small bath house with one washer and drier, the office and a weekend restaurant/bar.   Beyond that is a long lot for boat storage and a travel lift for hauling boats out of the water.  We selected this location for our haul out because the lift is wide enough for Makai and they allow owners to do their own work.  Many ship yards require you hire their yard to take care of all your work.

Roy made the most of the area fishing.  He used the cleaning station to fillet his perch.

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He worked his crab lines for about 3 days, checking each crab for size and gender.

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When he got a whopper Roy would be sure to show it to Tom, otherwise, just pull up the holding pen and toss it in with the other guys on death row.  One of the problems with this holding pen is that the crabs fight to the death.  So if you leave them in there too long they start killing their buddies and you can’t eat a crab that didn’t die in the steamer.

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Roy quickly came up with at least two dozen crabs, Tom threw in another dozen from his traps and they fired up the steamer.   First, the crabs were put on ice to quiet them down.  Apparently they try to kill each other in the steamer, so if they’ve been iced first they are more relaxed in the pot.

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Tom brought out a gallon jug of Old Bay seasoning and coated each layer in the steamer.

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They stood in the hot sun steaming up Maryland’s seafood delicacy.

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Finally, dinner was served. We set the table with crab claw crackers, little pick forks, a bit of melted butter, and a roll of paper towels.

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Beth, Ken and Jeanette from Dream Catcher just arrived from their ‘Connecticut to Florida and back’ road trip, perfect timing for a feast.  We had plenty of lobster feasts with them in the Bahamas.  Picking crab is rather laborious, I tend to get tired of it before I’m full of crab.  We did our best then put away the rest for later.  I carved out time over the next two days to sit there and pick the crab leftovers for crab cakes.

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Everyone agreed crab cakes were a two thumbs up.  I figured that each crab provided one cake.  We mixed the meat with chopped vegetables and an egg, and sometimes I added a hand full of bread crumbs for extra crunchiness.

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While Roy was out crabbing Eric and I got to work on projects.  My number one project was replacing the main sail stack pack and canvas jib cover.  The old stack pack was worn thin in places, patches over old holes were coming off, the zipper was severely frayed on the end.

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This is the perfect time to change the color to Persian Green, my favorite Sunbrella canvas color.  Our first boat was decked out in this color as well.  Genny and I laid everything out and carefully measured and cut the pieces.

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After three days at the machine, sewing bolt rope, zippers, lazy jack straps, and pounding grommets it was finished.

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Our friends didn’t even recognize us.

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Next, is the fifteen inch strip of canvas that runs along the edge of the sail.  This sacrificial canvas is exposed to the sunlight when the sail is rolled up on the fore-stay. I spent an afternoon at the pool watching the kids while removing the old blue canvas.  This job wasn’t too difficult as most of the thread was sun rotten and weak, so I could clip a few threads and simply tear the canvas off. Next is sewing new stuff on.  I started in the middle of the foot of the sail.  Everything went smooth, just a little struggle moving the bulk of the fabric, but otherwise no problem.  My success gave me confidence to tackle the clew and tack corners of the sail.  Immediately, the needle broke.  Then the heavy duty motor would drive the needle down and strip set screws forcing the machine out of timing.  Soon I found that more time was spent repairing the machine than sewing.  After a whole day of tearing out stitches, working on unconventional modifications to the cover, and machine repair I got no further.  Within about 10 minutes I located a sail maker, had the jib rolled up and stuffed in the van.  The limits of my machine and my skills were exceeded by this project.

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My mood was pretty low at this point so I made something I could make, an insert for our new wagon.  Roy and I went on errands to Walmart and came back with this cool folding wagon.  We’ve been in the market for another rolling cart to haul groceries while we’re cruising and I’ve been wishing for a cart to pull around our lunch box and packages at the county fair and a local water and ride park we visit each year in Buffalo.  The wagon folds to a compact size, feels strong with rugged wheels and the man at Walmart said he loves it for fishing, but I was sure that beautiful red canvas would get trashed in one outing with the Makai crew.  So, a Makai Persian Green canvas insert not only protects the wagon but also allowed me to finish off my day of sewing failures by making something I can make. See the new fore-stay coiled in the ring behind the wagon.  That’s a job for another day.

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My last big job for the week was a road trip.  Our pals on Dream Catcher borrowed our van to move their household goods from Connecticut to Florida last month.  The poor old van is meticulously mechanically maintained by Eric, but due to age, unexpected mechanical failures are around every corner.  Before they set out on their trip, Eric and Ken had to make an emergency coolant hose repair and charge up the air conditioning.  Now in the last 300 miles of their journey the transmission tanked.  Then Ken, Beth, Jeanette and their kitty Beauty were stranded in North Carolina.  After some discussion and research it was decided that they would have the van towed to the Ford dealer for the repair and then they rented a car for a week to return to the Marina.  At the end of the week Beth and I set out on a 14 hour road trip to retrieve the van.

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We pulled out of the dealer and headed for the gas station, smoke billowing all over the place as it chug chug chugged on acceleration.  Beth had recently driven the van and said it didn’t feel right.  We went back to the dealer where they explained the smoke was from the transmission fluid that sprayed when the old transmission failed and that the chugging was also from the burning of the fluid.  Beth and I rolled our eyes at the chugging of the engine from the burning off of the transmission fluid explanation, but headed home anyway.  Eric later discovered that when they fixed the transmission, they knocked a wire off the spark plug, so another project was lined up in his queue.

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Eric has been working full time all week to pay for repairs and parts while I sew, Roy crabs and the girls play with Jeanette.  The adults have been taking turns as pool monitors as we all try to survive the hot humid days of southern Maryland’s summer.  Eric squeezed in a few projects as well.  In the last few months of sailing the the Bahamas we noticed that our wind direction indicator was off.  You could look 70 feet up to the top of the mast and see that it wasn’t pointing into the wind.  Eric ordered a new unit and went up to remove the old one.  Check it out, the plastic melted or something and isn’t straight.

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A couple of trips up to the top of the mast and Eric had a new wind direction indicator installed.

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Eric also started delegating and training the crew in the area of repair projects.  Our deck hatches have this nifty handle that twists to latch and then lays flush so you don’t stub your tow.  The handles in the cockpit had corroded right off.  Roy and Genny were each tasked with replacing a handle.  The project required the use of channel locks and an allen wrench for the set screw.

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Roy also replaced the shower head on our back step swim shower.

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Genny put her new sewing machine to good use replacing the velcro on the van’s curtain tie backs.

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I went back to cleaning projects. The bottom of the dinghy was covered with marine growth and tannin from the brackish water in the rivers we anchor in. I also scraped and scrubbed the grill grease that caught on fire last week.

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The girls were tasked with cleaning the canvas with soapy water.  Yippee a fun thing to do on a hot day.

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Eric removed the six vertical blinds around the inside of the cabin. They were dirty and covered with disgusting black mold.  On a recommendation from the Leopard Cat forum, we used Lysol Mold and Mildew Blaster. Aside from a little sun fading, they look sparkling new.

On our last shopping trip in town, we stopped at JoAnn’s where the girls picked up a few crafts and a sundress fabric with the stretchy top already prefabricated.  They had fun making their own dresses.

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We had a big week, very productive and plenty of rain to keep us on our toes.  The rain came down in buckets, you couldn’t run from the car into a store without getting soaked. Often the rain came down horizontally because of the strong wind and the lightning gave us a good show.   This is all a great experience for a bunch of California kids where the heat is dry and it only rains a few days a year.

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St. Michaels, MD

Comegys Bight to St. Michaels is only 20 miles as the crow flies but 55 miles when you sail down the Chester River,  tack upwind in the bay, around Kent Island and up the Miles River.  The many tributaries into the Chesapeake Bay result in plenty of coastline and waterways.   On the way we tacked past the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.  Of the 45 cottage style screw pile lighthouses in use in the 1900s, only 4 remain and this is the only one still in service.  Amazingly, we visited the other three in museums. Seven Foot Knoll is in Baltimore, Hooper Straight Lighthouse is in St. Michaels, and Drum Point Lighthouse is in Solomons Island.

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Soon after arriving in the anchorage, Roy found our first new pest.  The Japanese Beetle.  While it is beautiful, they manage to invade Makai and fly inside the cabin.  Luckily, they came, they saw, they conquered and thankfully they left.  These beetles can really do a number on leaves, stripping the leaf from a plant, leaving only the branches and veins. Another reason not to grow crops on Makai.

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The first few days in St. Michaels were unbearably hot and humid. We laid around completely zapped of energy. Eric cranked up the generator and ran the air conditioner for an afternoon movie.  Without the humidity and dripping sweat we felt comfortable.  We could only lay around moaning about the weather for so long before we decided to seek out someone else’s air conditioning.  A museum sounded like a good possibility.

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Even though some of the exhibits were outside, they had plenty of shade and a nice breeze to keep cool with.

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The Hooper Straight Lighthouse completed our tour of the four Chesapeake Bay screw pile lighthouses.  This design was useful to secure the cottage into the soft muddy bottom with screw posts.

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The Fresnel Lens was accessible unlike most of the museum lighthouses where they block off this area. The Corning Museum of Glass, which we visited last summer, has a nice exhibit about lighthouse lenses.

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Museum members have docking privileges.  With the July 4th events coming up at the museum, people were starting to come in.  We met Snickers here and had a nice little puppy break.  We miss Topaz but know that she’s a lot happier at Nannie’s house. We sent Topaz ahead to Buffalo so she didn’t have to endure the heat and be stuck on the boat while we tour museums. My mom and her dog JJ are taking care of Topaz.  The dogs get three meals a day plus snacks, a pool to swim in, unlimited potty breaks on land, a great living room to lay around in and watch TV, and top notch grooming.

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We walked past this little boat with a huge engine and made up all kinds of explanations why you would have an engine this big in such a small boat.  I was sure they just towed it here using the boat and trailer for transportation.  I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  That engine is actually installed in this small push boat.

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During the 1800s Oystering was a booming business, but in the last 100 years the oyster beds have virtually disappeared. When motor boats appeared on the scene the oysters were already in trouble so dredging was restricted to sail only. Early attempts to conserve the oyster beds limited the use of push boats to going to and from the dredging areas. Then while dredging, the push boat had to be hoisted up on the davits.  Since the 1960s the push boat could be used two days a week.   To me, this push boat looks like a floating outboard engine.  It is simply a boat with an engine and a propeller.

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We spent as much time as we could inside the buildings.  They had some fantastic exhibits on the watermen, work and pleasure boating, fishing, oystering, and water fowling.  So many of the exhibits explained passages in James Michener’s book Chesapeake. I read this book just before leaving the US to join Makai in Grenada and Eric read it right after that.  Now Roy is hooked on it now. I think it’s his most challenging book to date.

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They put Old Bay on everything around here.  You can buy popcorn and potato chips seasoned with Old Bay.  It was developed by a German immigrant in 1939.  At that time crabs were so plentiful they were served for free in the bars and Old Bay was used to spice them up a bit to encourage the patrons to buy more beverages.  This reminds me of the Buffalo Chicken wings which were also served in bars for free to encourage the patrons to cool their pallet with a cold beverage.  That was the good old days, now both crab and chicken wings can clean out your wallet. I can see crabs becoming more scarce, but what about chicken wings?

 

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The kids only have so much tolerance for museums, then the ‘please ring me’ bell display gets a work out.  Luckily we were the only ones in that building at the time.  Roy looked over the marsh critter exhibit and noted that he’s seen all the animals listed except for the snake.  But wait, there’s a snake, now he’s managed to spot them all.

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On the way back to Makai we stopped at the Acme market and everyone picked their own 1/2 gallon of ice cream.  It’s a much better deal to buy a tub of your favorite flavor at the market than a cup of it at the ice cream stand. We went back to eat our treats and watch the sky for signs of rain.  It seems like there’s a weather cycle here of fives days building to unbearably hot and humid, then a cold front brings thunder storms and a few days of pleasant weather before turning hot again.  This evening, the cold front came buy with it’s light show, wind and rain to cool us off and encourage us to get cleaned up and ready for the hurricane.

Hurricane Arthur passed by us on the 4th of July, the day after a cold front rained on us from the west.  St. Michael’s events are planned for tomorrow so we’ll just take it easy and enjoy the cooler weather.  Two seasons back was Hurricane Sandy which the East coast is still recovering from, last year there weren’t any major tropical storms coming up this far, but Arthur is the first for 2014.  Makai is the blue dot on the chart above.  The wind arrows point in the direction of the wind with the feathers in the back.  Each long feather is 10kts and short feathers are 5kts. Our area of the Chesapeake experienced 20+ kts out of the north, Makai is in a small bay reducing the fetch to form wind waves, so we were safe and snug and we didn’t have any rain. By late afternoon Arthur had continued to the north and the wind slowed down.  Whew, that was the extent of it.

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When it was safe to go out in the dingy, Becky and David arrived for the weekend.  Becky and I used to sail, windsurf, scuba dive, play, party and work together when we were in Hawaii around 1990ish. Since then she and David have met us on our adventure and we spent some time with them in D.C.

This weekend Becky spiced up our holiday by bringing her Salsa Dancing troop over for a bbq and fireworks.

We even had a guest dog!

 

Makai was brightened up with flowers.  They were so beautiful, I really enjoyed them.

We sailed the Hobie, enjoyed refreshing gin and tonics on the bow. Roy picked out a two cup set so he and I could both have a blue crab cup.

Chef David became a fireman when the sausage ignited the greasy grill.

Roy did a little fishing and crabbing, no luck though.  The girls came out of their cocoons sporting new hair colors.

Genny with a purple stripe swinging from the spinnaker halyard.

If we were in the Bahamas she would have let go and taken a plunge, but with the threat of sea nettle jelly fish, she held on tight for a safe return.  One morning we heard some teasing on the neighbors boat.  A couple went for a swim and they guy mentioned feeling a jelly which sent the lady shooting out of the water in a panic while reprimanding him for teasing.  It doesn’t sound so funny here on the blog, you had to be there.

Genny made friends with a neighboring boat and went Hobie sailing.  Marie carefully sat on a surf board and paddled around.  In the morning we woke up in the anchorage with three other boats and by afternoon the anchorage was packed waiting for the fireworks.

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When we wait for the July 4th parade in Creede, CO an AT-6 WWII trainer plane flies over the crowd which starts the festivities with a big cheer.  Here in St. Michaels we had two dinghies fly by.

I’ve never seen such a thing. Aliseo in Miami sells them and will even provide training. Be sure to bring your Sport Pilot License with you.  I think we’ll keep our dinghy in the water.

Makai arrived in the anchorage several days early to secure a good location for the fireworks show.  Since our friends on Lux got a late start, we offered a side tie. We met Terry and Peggy last July at their house in the western Chesapeake near Annapolis, MD. They and their partners on this Leopard Cat cruise it to the Bahamas every year where they leave it with a charter company.

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Our friends on Whistling Cay told us they raft up all the time and then we started.  It’s lots of fun!

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Finally the event the whole bay has been waiting for, the July 4th fireworks.

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We had people in the cockpit and up on the hard top.  This was the display that wouldn’t quit.  Every time we thought the last blast of pyrotechnics was the finale, a few more would start and off they go again.

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We had a great weekend but are anxious to get the marina.  After seven months of hiking for supplies, making water, watching the weather and now with the Chesapeake heating up and not being able to cool off, a much needed break awaits us at the marina. The wind is still out of the south so we tacked down to the Choptank River the first night and then to the Potomac the next day.  One the way down we passed the USS Hannibal.  The Hannibal served the US until 1944 when she was designated for target practice.  In 1966 there wasn’t much left of the Hannibal so the Navy brought in the American Mariner and sunk it next to the wreck of the Hannibal.  Out of tradition it is still referred to as the Hannibal and is still used for live target practice.

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Comegy’s Bight

Comegy’s Bight is like coming home.  A few years ago we accidentally intercepted email for Roy Mears of Chestertown, MD.  Eric contacted him and last summer we spent a week here visiting with plans to come by again this summer. Roy’s mother in law, Mal, lives here on the Chester River.  In the evenings her children and their spouses come by for sun downers and a dip in the pool.  We enjoyed visiting, fishing, and swimming on the hot humid days.

Roy and Roy both love fishing.  Most of the days we were anchored in the river the Roys would go out and see what they could catch.  The deal was that while Big Roy was working in the mornings, little Roy had to catch the bait.  We got really good at spotting the bait balls, sneaking up on them, and then Roy would throw his net and collect a few dozen bait fish.

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Even though they went out looking for white perch, catfish is really what was biting.  Here in the Chester River they are whoppers.

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Last year’s catfish is in Roy’s fishing gallery, this year he got several slightly smaller ones. They were still big whiskery sea monsters.

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After a few hot sticky weeks along the Atlantic coast, Mal’s swimming pool was a welcome sight. Just before the weather turned hot, we were in Sandy Hook, NJ. The weather was chilly and we were shopping for bathing suits and jackets at the same time.  Those poor bathing suits were put away for warmer days like today!

During the chilly weeks we also lost our sun tans.  Even with sun screen slathered on, we still turned a little pink after spending the day in the pool.

One evening we were invited down the street and around the corner to Roy and Molly’s house for Chinese take out.  Oh Yea!  They share their road/drive way with Molly’s sister.  It took us forever to get down the road because we kept spotting things like flamingos, parrots and polar bears in the woods.  It was great fun and kept the kids interested in “eye spy with my little eye.”

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Who would have thought Roy’s trailer is a great place for a photo opportunity? Roy loaned us his company truck for trips to the grocery store and such. We waved back to people around the neighborhood who spotted his truck, and even saw other work vehicles and t-shirts around the neighborhood.

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Critters are always fun.  One morning we found a frog on the back of Makai anchored out in the river.  There are frogs and toads hiding out around the bushes and in the grass.  The swimming pool has these interesting floats with a bridge to the pool deck for critters to climb out.

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There are also critters that give us the chilly willys and make everyone squeal like a little girl.  The black rat snake had us watching were we stepped.

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Flies came and got us again.  Tacky fly strip paper is pretty gross, but not as bad as being swarmed. I was worried with flies landing on us all the time we would get used to it and National Geographic would feature us on their cover or something.

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Makai was decorated with a dozen fly strips and after about 3 days we were down to an acceptable level of flying pests. The fly strips are extremely sticky which prompted horror stories from our hosts about getting these things tangled in hair. 

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At dusk the fire flies come out twinkling their bio-luminescence all over the yard. I remember chasing fire flies as a kid, it was just part of summer evenings.

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Roy captured a few and made a lantern in a old salad container.

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Coming to Comegy’s Bight also means presents. All winter long we think up projects, maintenance, and upgrades.  Depending on the size and urgency the presents get shipped to the next person that visits us or in this case the next person we visit. Everyone was anxious to receive their orders that were sent to Roy and Molly.

The dream for this trip was blissful days playing board games, crocheting doilies and reading books.  The reality of it is such a dream can’t be met in a week’s vacation, a month, or even a summer for us. During our first year, Roy did a good job of plowing through the paperbacks on board.  In the first half our second year Genny had several books started and did an acceptable amount of crocheting and drawing. But it wasn’t until the last six months that Marie and I could play games all afternoon and the kids went nuts with reading on the simple Kindle eInk they got for Christmas. We can easily download books from the library when ever we have internet, we share books with friends, and Amazon always has something to download. Roy and Genny had been doing such a good job of reading that they requested an upgrade with a back light and touch screen. A few weeks ago when my mom came to visit she brought several packages of replacement parts and Kindle Fire HDXs for the kids.  They immediately worried about screen protection and cases.  Since when did they get so responsible?  

Anyway, the point here is that Kindle cases were waiting at Roy’s house for the kids… Yippeee!  The kids also got a Beauty Rest GeoMat, 4″ foam mattress topper for their beds.  Our bed got one last year, its like sleeping on a cloud.  Our camera got new batteries and an external charger. Eric had several boat parts waiting as well as a new air conditioner unit.  Makai has three air conditioners to service the forward cabins, main salon, and the aft cabins. Two of the three units need to be replaced starting with the main salon.  Summer on the east coast can be very hot and even worse, humid.  We can only run the air conditioner if the generator is running or if we’re plugged into shore power.  Soon Makai will be at a marina while we take care of a long list of projects and the air conditioner will come in handy.

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Molly’s nephew comes by regularly.  He has an interesting garage filled with fishing and hunting equipment, tools, welding equipment and mechanical stuff I only barely recognized.  He also brought Louie his young hunting dog. As you can imagine, missing Topaz, we all cooed over this beautiful Golden Retriever.  Louie also lives with a Boston Terrier named Tara.  This combination sparked our interest because our pals in California have a Boston Terrier named Louie that plays with our Golden Retriever, Ha!

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Sunday was family picnic day.  Mal and her five children filled the yard with adult grandchildren, great grandbabies and a few friends. 

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We ate all the normal picnic foods like the corn on the cob.  Maybe it was from one of the many corn fields here in town.

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Men at the BBQ flipping burgers and hot dogs. Pot luck salads and side dishes to over flow our lunch plates with delicious foods. Don’t forget an icy cold beer to wash it down.

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In Maryland a common summer picnic food is steamed Blue Crab covered in Old Bay seasoning.  Last year we were invited to a Memorial Day picnic and were introduced to this tasty delicacy.  There is a table set on the side dedicated to crab picking.  The table is covered with butcher paper and set with a roll of paper towels, a pile of mallets to crack the claws with and a couple of small knives.  All day long people wander over a few at a time to chat and pick crabs.

You start by cracking off the front arms with the claws and putting them aside.  Then lift up the piece on the underside that looks like the Washington Monument (these are males, females look like the Capitol building and they get thrown back to make baby crabs for next year) continuing to lift off the top of the crab shell.  Using the knife, scrape out the pile of guts and such from the meat.  From there pick the meat out from the shell sections and then pound the claws to expose meat inside there as well.  After three or four crabs take a swig of cold beer, scrape the pile of shells into the trash, wipe the goo off your fingers and make room for someone else.  I will surely miss this tasty way to socialize at a Maryland picnic.

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Eric had a chance to discuss ancestors with Roy’s son who also has a hobby of researching genealogy. Unfortunately, they haven’t come up with a common ancestor yet.

The kids swam in the pool, swam in the river, played with the hose, played on the swing set, and went off for a ride.

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What a fabulous day.  We had fun meeting everyone and a goal for our family to enjoy each other as our family grows and expands.

 

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Baltimore, MD

Dragon flies, that’s one kind of fly we don’t mind. Over the last few weeks we’ve grown so accustomed to living with flies you could feature us in a National Geographic Magazine.  After several weeks of flies, Makai seems to be pest free today.

Our sailing days seem to be over.  Either there is no wind or light wind on the nose since leaving Atlantic City.  We sailed, off course, most of the way to Cape May for an over night stop.  Then motored up the Delaware Bay and anchored over night at the entrance of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. Today we motored through the canal and down the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore.  Last year we drove through Baltimore just long enough to tour Fort McHenry and then continued on to Gettysburg.

Baltimore is about 10 miles up the Patapsco River, which I guess isn’t all that far considering Washington D.C. is 50 miles up the Potomac River.  Even still motoring for two hours looking at the industry and industrial ruins gets tiring.   We had fun waving at the cruise ship as we passed under the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Marie spent the time hiding behind the mast and poking me with her toe.

The Sea Dog cruise came speeding by with a helicopter low in the sky chasing after it.  I suppose they were taking photos or something.

Fort McHenry is situated on the tip of the peninsula that separates the Patapsco River from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It’s famous for defending Baltimore September of 1814 while Francis Scott Key watched from the British ship where he was being held.  This is the battle in the War of 1812 that inspired him to write the Star Spangled Banner when he saw the fifteen strip and fifteen star flag flying over the fort at ‘Dawn’s Early Light’.

Along the Patapsco river we saw the ruins of a Bethlehem Steel plant, the same plant all the men in my family worked at and people in Buffalo relied on for jobs when I was a kid.   We went by the Lehigh Cement Company, and name that prompted a bit of research.  As a kid I remember the Lehigh Valley railroad running through town, recently I flew into the Lehigh Airport in Bethlehem, PA, and here is that name again.  Apparently the name comes from the Lehigh river that flows through eastern Pennsylvania and into the Delaware River at Bethlehem, PA. Since the Steel Mill and Railroad are on the path along this river, they adopted the names.

How about Domino Sugar?  A few weeks ago we passed the Domino Sugar plant along the East River on the Brooklyn side.  The NY refinery was the first and in use from the mid 1800s until 2004.

Finally in the Inner Harbor there was a bustle of activity.  The rim of the harbor is lined with shops, restaurants, marinas, harbor cruises, the Science Center and Aquarium, and historic ships. This red lighthouse is a screw pile house and is a common design in the Chesapeake Bay. The piles are screwed into the soft muddy bottoms of rivers and estuaries. We’ve seen a few of these in museums as well as out there on the bay, they were popular after the Civil War when the lighthouse board decided to replace the light ships with these light houses. This red light house is the Knoll Light and once marked the entrance to the Patapsco River starting in 1855-1988.

We arrived on a hot sticky afternoon but right in front of our dock were kids running in the fountains.

From the water front, looking down Camden Street, you can get a glimpse of Oriole Park at Camden Yards (the first of the retro stadiums built in the 1990s).  We aren’t big sports fans here on Makai.  Baseball means hot dogs, Monday night football is associated with beer and wings, soccer is something the kids in the neighborhood play on Saturday, other than that I don’t know too much about it. Baltimore is full of banners and people wearing Oriole shirts, I bet everything comes to a standstill on game day.

First thing in the morning the kids and I walked 1 mile around the water front to the Whole Foods Market.  We don’t normally shop here so we were definitely impressed, they sure had yummy foods.  The produce was beautiful, the deli was delightful (like that bit of poetry), prepared foods made our mouths water and Ooh La La the pastries couldn’t be passed up.

On the way back, pulling the rolling cart and lugging bags we watched the harbor vacuum cleaning floating debris from the bay.

The spring chicks were all out following mamma around as well.  Everyday Roy asks, “Can I have a duck?” and everyday the answer is the same, “NO.”

After breakfast the harbor was a flurry of activity again. The dragon paddle boats cruised around, people wandered between the restaurants, harbor cruise ships, museums and historic ships. A hand full of harbor cruises depart from the Inner Harbor.  There are booze cruises, sight seeing cruises, water taxis and the larger ships host weddings and other such formal events.  It was fun watching the women dressed up in their finest party clothes tip toe down the boardwalk in 4 inch heels and the men in suits and tuxedos.

Our first stop was the USS Constellation, a sloop of war launched in 1854 and the last sailing ship built by the US Navy. During the Civil War she was sent to disrupt slave trade, before WWI she brought famine relief to Ireland and exhibits to the Paris Exhibition. During WWI she was a practice ship for the Naval Academy and Naval Training Center. In 1933 the Constellation was decommissioned but then recommissioned in 1940 as a relief Flag Ship.  This is the crazy thing, by this time she was confused with a 38 gun frigate with the same name built in 1797 and broken up the same year this one was built.  Be sure to check the link to read about this confusion.  It sounds like the old ship was never taken off the books, some if it’s timbers were used on the new one, and when money was allocated to build the sloop some of it came from a fund to rebuild the old frigate.  Its kind of like naming the new puppy Spot after the old Spot passed away.  Just because he was using the same name, same bowl and credits at the vet, they just assumed he was the same dog.

 

Ahh yes, who can resist ringing the bell.  The Constellation is a hands on museum.

We could ring the bells, play with the cannons, touch this and feel that, sit on anything not roped off.  Its great with curious kids.

We found a Hidden Mickey in the shape of the lock.  See what Disney Geeks we are, not me just them :)

When little legs were sore, everyone found a hammock. The Historic Ships of Baltimore runs an overnight program for groups.  You can stay on the mid 19th century USS Constellation, the USS Torsk a WWII submarine, or the USCGC Taney that witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The USS Torsk is right next door and quite a contrast from the Constellation. The USS Torsk is a Tech Class diesel submarine that was launched in 1944, transited the Panama Canal, stopped in Guam and Hawaii and eventually patrolled off the coast of Japan.

She spent the rest of her career in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea and even the Great Lakes.

The torpedo room was impressive with the museum quality shine on the metal.

We tried to get the kids to take us on a ride, but the controls are all locked down.

Traveling through the submarine we ducked through these 3 foot high hatches. Watch your head! and knees.

The path to the next ship leads around the Aquarium. The Maryland Blue Crab, which is the state crustacean by the way, is a very appropriate symbol for this state.  This little guy is on the menu at all the restaurants, displayed on flags, napkin holders, t-shirts, and most tasty on my plate.

The last historic ship on the tour is the Coast Guard Cutter Taney.

On December 7, 1941 the USCGC Taney was moored in Honolulu Harbor which allowed her to be the last ship still floating to fight in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  She served as a search and rescue, troop transport and protecting our many territories in the Pacific. She supported the Navy and assisted in attacks as well. Toward the end of her career she assisted in the search for Amelia Earhart, worked in drug interdiction and fisheries protection and holds the distinction as the last ship serving as an ocean station weather ship. Ships were stationed throughout the North Pacific and North Atlantic to collect weather data and transmit it back to the US.  They also provided search and rescue in the square of ocean they each patrolled.

How about some sugar.  ”It’s Sugar“, candy store was a main attraction as we walked back and forth along the water front.  The store was colorful, smelled good, had plenty of bulk gummy things as well as giant candy.

We weren’t the only ones taking pictures of things like this 5 lb gummy bear.

The street performers at the Harbor Place Amphitheater were entertaining. We saw musicians, balloonists, unicycles, and jugglers.  Maryland is home to the Center Ring Circus School and Charm City Movement Arts here in Baltimore.   All the performers have a permit and are on the Harbor Place schedule where they can practice their artful entertainment.

What tourist town would be complete without Ripley’s.  Someday we’ll buy a ticket and go see the oddity reproductions, but for now we’re having fun using Wikipedia to look up the tallest man and three legged boy.

That evening our pal Becky came from D.C. to spend the rest of the weekend with us.  We had dinner on Makai and watched the tour boats go by.  The next morning with our legs all rested up we toured the National Aquarium.

This aquarium goes on and on, one exhibit more interesting than the next.

They had two dozen 4 foot long reef sharks ( prefer to see them here than in the wild ;) , and a gigantic sea turtle.  There were at least 4 floors of exhibits and tanks almost that tall.

Along the perimeter of these huge tanks there are smaller ones with tiny animals like the peacock mantis shrimp and sea horses.

The Australian section had snake necked turtles with very long necks, and in the Amazon mysterious fish that Jeremy Wade from River Monsters would feature like the Silver Arowana.

This aquarium is so big they even have dolphins.

Lastly were the jelly fish.  Beautiful as they gracefully float through the currents, but delivering a sting you’ll not soon forget. The nettle exhibit reminded us of the invasion they’re about to impose on the Chesapeake Bay.  We learned that the jelly thrive in waters where many other fish perish.  Waters that are low on oxygen and even choked out with pollution can support a thriving community of jelly fish.

The Blue Belly Jelly was kind of cute.

Baltimore is full of tourists and a little something we didn’t expect was that since Makai was moored there in the center of activity she became a photo opportunity.  This nice Chinese family took pictures of each other and pictures with us before running off to their tour bus.

Most people respected the boat owner’s private property but once a couple of guys climbed on a neighbor’s boat to take pictures and the woman below leaned against Makai for a picture.  Do you know what happens when you lean against a boat at the dock?  It starts pushing away from the dock, the woman had to get help from her friend when she was hanging on to Makai’s stanchions so she wouldn’t fall between the boat and the dock. We had people take pictures of us in the cockpit doing puzzles, watched wedding pictures taken on the dock and a man with his shirt off flexing muscles for a shot.

Along the south side of the bay is Federal Hill which got its name  when the parade celebrating the ratification of a new Federal Constitution ended here. After riots in 1861 the Union constructed a fort aimed at ensuring the allegiance of Baltimore and the state of Maryland to the federal government throughout the Civil War.

Today the top of the hill has a park and playground with a fantastic view of the city and harbor.  From the war of 1812,  a 15 strip and 15 star flag flies above. One of Baltimore’s major attractions is Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key, who anxiously waited for dawn’s early light to see the flag flying above signaling America’s victory over the British in the attack, was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner.  The fifteen stars and stripes reflected the addition of Vermont and Kentucky in 1795 and remained that way until 1818 when a plan was passed for the flag’s stars to reflect the current number of states and thirteen stripes to honor the thirteen original colonies. The original Star Spangled Banner flag is on display in Washington D.C. in the Smithsonian’s American History museum.

The centerpiece of the celebratory parade for ratifying the constitution in 1788 was a 15 foot miniature ship called the Federalist built as a gift to George Washington. It was then sailed down to the Potomac to Mount Vernon in June and then sunk in a July hurricane. What a bummer!  It was left as a wreck and recently archaeologists searched the area but never found it. Lucky for us Baltimore built playground equipment to honor the little ship.

Right below Federal Hill is the Museum of Visionary Art. While we didn’t tour the inside of this museum, the outside provided quite a bit of entertainment.

The big hand sticking out of the back of the building first got our attention, then we noticed the strange horizontal thing and finally figured out that it is a movie screen.  I guess the hand is shaped like it is flicking something and they call the Thursday night movies they project there for people sitting on the hill, Flicks on the Hill.  Sounds like fun to me.

Much of the art around the outside is bling, bling and more bling.

I sure hope they’re having good luck with all those broken mirrors out there.  Maybe they actually cut the mirrors so the broken mirror curse doesn’t apply. The front sidewalk was a 200 foot mural of Baltimore’s part in American History.  Including the Magic Bus covered in mirrored glass.

Who can resist a silvery mirror pine tree.

Our last hours at the dock were filled with using hose water that Makai has only seen twice since the first of the year, doing laundry and taking showers at the marina facilities, and rushing off for a cheeseburger and fries that ‘someone else’ made.  Most meals around here come straight from Makai’s galley, but for lunch we decided to try 5 Guys which originated in the D.C. area.  With full bellies we wobbled out of the mall area but something shiny caught the eyes of me and Genny.  We settled on this pretty little crab.  What could be a more appropriate souvenir in Maryland than a crab?

On the way out of town we stopped at the Anchorage down the way near where we fueled up for the first time since Nassau in April.  The anchorage was conveniently located directly across the street from a Safeway grocery store and a West Marine, down the road from a fishing store and Ace Hardware and best of all right next door is the Anchorage Marina where our friends on Rollick are living.  We met Andrea and Bernie and their two little girls Alex and Jordan when we were in Georgetown.  What a wonderful marina, I would love to live there for the summer.  They had a huge lounge with a TV, pool table, showers and vending machines.  Then out on the end of the docks was an extra wide dock with a floating swimming pool, picnic tables, bbqs and another small lounge with rest rooms and showers.  We spent a few nights there going into the market for donuts in the morning and a trip to Patterson park and another cool playground. I did my best to find a link for these interesting playgrounds with custom equipment that reflects the piece of history made at that site, but believe it or not, the internet just didn’t give me answers to my questions about these playgrounds.

On the way out of town we passed Fort McHenry and just before the Key Bridge we spotted the Star Spangled Buoy. The Coast Guard has been placing this buoy here every summer since 1972 to mark the location where Francis Scott Key witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry prompting him to write the Star Spangled Banner. We put our hand on our hearts and sang the song as Makai cruised by.

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Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City, NJ is on Absecon Island, a sandy barrier island on the New Jersey Coast.  As with most urban islands, it’s hard to see the water on all sides defining it as and island.  In this case the Atlantic ocean is on one side and the Absecon Inlet, salt marshes, creeks and the inter-coastal waterway cut it off from the mainland.

The Miss America Pageant has been held here since 1921.  Beautiful young women compete for scholarships, fame and a chance as a traveling ambassador. The wikipedia article on Miss America gives some interesting history for the pageant including the original reason for the pageant was to extend the tourist season on the boardwalk after labor day.

Atlantic City boasts the first boardwalk in the United States opening in 1870 by hotel owners trying to keep the sand out of their lobbies. Prohibition brought a boom for drinking and gambling to Atlantic City, go figure reverse psychology working here. Then a economic decline until gambling was legalized in 1976 and the big casinos moved in.  When my grandparents went there as a break from Las Vegas casinos, I never realized how new the Atlantic City casinos were.   The lonely little lighthouse is a symbol of simpler times.

Atlantic City is also home of Monopoly properties. Due to business moving out and malls moving in, some of the properties have changed their values. Baltic and Mediterranean, the least expensive properties in Monopoly, host an expensive outlet mall now.  ScoutingNY has an excellent post with detailed descriptions and photos describing how each property looks today.

It was fun walking through the Atlantic City streets and picking out Monopoly streets.

The Absecon Lighthouse still stands as a museum. We toured the city on Father’s day and Eric was honored with free admission.  Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest in New Jersey but was decommissioned in 1933 because of the lights from the fast growing city surrounding it rendering it useless.

We all climbed the 228 steps to the top.  Eric has a huge fear of heights which must be a problem for him since he’s spent so much time at the top of our 70 foot mast and climbed every light house we stopped at as well as the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Eric did appreciate the bars around the walkway on the Absecon light’s walkway.

We continued our mile long walk toward the beach and boardwalk enjoying signs along the way. Roy decided to ‘hang out’ for a bit to see what would happen.  This end of the city has lonely row houses.  Each block is home to two or three of these tall narrow houses which used to have identical houses adjacent filling up the block. CityLab has photos of similar houses in Baltimore.

Once at the beach Eric and Roy thought they might like to take a dip at an unprotected beach. Mustn’t swim without a lifeguard you know.

In contrast to any neglect the neighborhoods on the path to the beach might display, taking a walk on the Boardwalk makes me think I should have passed GO to collect two hundred dollars before heading down this path.

The thumping music of Revel’s beach club greeted us on the north end of the boardwalk.  Trump’s Taj Mahal spread the rest of the way to the Steel Pier and entertainment appropriate for the kids. Armed with a fist full of cash Nannie gave us before she left us in Atlantic Highlands, we had ice cream and beers on the boardwalk and then played a few carnival games on the pier.  The kids always drool over these games.  One year Disney’s California Adventure had a Halloween party and all the carnival games were free.  Winners received a bit of candy but were excited to be able to play these games that parents normally say NO to.

The sign on the wall said that as long as 4 people played the winner could pick an prize.  Marie was jumping around like a kangaroo so I put enough for 4 people to play, there weren’t any customers besides us which guaranteed a Mears winner. Luckily, Eric won so there wasn’t an argument and struggle over the prize.  Marie the kangaroo picked an orange tiger..

Next we headed to the ticket booth to pay for thrills on stomach turning rides.  They all wanted to go on one that catapults the passenger into the air on a bungee and of course there are the ones that spin you high in the air upside down

In the end they settled for the Crazy Mouse.  Marie wasn’t tall enough to go without an adult so Eric got to go for free because it’s Father’s Day.

This small thrill with have to suffice until they have jobs to earn the entrance fee for the catapult ride while I’m not watching.

We also rode the Ferris Wheel which gave a great view of the beach.

We didn’t all fit in one car so Roy and Genny rode together in another car and waited for us at the bottom.

The last of the tickets were spent for Marie and Eric on the Merry Go Round.

We were getting hot and our water bottle was empty but managed to squeeze in one more attraction.  The town is getting ready for a sand castle competition and we got a glimpse of what was yet to come.

The next day we took it easy with just a stroll on the dock where we tied up the dinghy and quick tour in the aquarium.

Aquariums are fun but, snorkeling in the Bahamas is funner.

I’m sure Roy is always wishing he had his pole or spear.

What else is there to do on a warm afternoon on the boat but maybe fashion shows.

Marie dug through her new summer dresses and Genny did her makeup.  Wow!

 

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NJ and NYC

Sandy Hook and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey is another town revisited for the fishing.  Upon arrival, we anchored on Sandy Hook next to the Coast Guard Station so we could meet up with Ortolan, friends from the Bahamas. Roy brought a couple of frozen bunker so he could get his line in right away.  Sure enough, Eric and I are recovering from our night watches when Roy yells, “Fish ON!”

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This is the first time in a long time we’ve used the net.  Roy reached in to de-tangle the fish when it went and bit him in the finger.  Yeow, we’re used to fish blood all over the boat, but this time it was Roy finger blood.  So, I held it down with a rag while he freed the lure and teeth.  Since this is our first bluefish this season there was a moment of discussion as to what type of fish it was until it bit Roy.  Then we were sure it was a bluefish.

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After saying goodbye to our friends we continued two miles into Atlantic Highlands to the anchorage. It was a little difficult getting the anchor up.  I thought, “Wow, the mud sure is thick here.”  The anchor windlass tripped the electrical breaker several times until the anchor finally came up.  With the anchor up, we were still stuck to the bottom. Apparently we pulled up an old net and a piece of chain that was still stuck on the bottom.  It was so gooey, I called Eric up to push it off the anchor, he doesn’t mind getting his hands icky.

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Once anchored Roy set out to capture his own bait. He got this idea last year from the locals here in Atlantic Highlands.  The schools of Atlantic Menhaden are so dense that a toss of the net can bring in several of these 10 inch, oily, smelly, bait fish. They are part of the herring family and have historically been used to fertilize crops.  Wikipedia talks about the large schools and mentions that some have been reported to be 40 miles long.

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Menhaden are filter feeders so won’t bite at bait or a lure.  The other way to catch them is with a large weighted treble hook. Roy casts it out over the school and reels in fast and easily snags the fish somewhere along the way.  Occasionally a bluefish chomps down on it before Roy can get it back to the dinghy.

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Back to those Bluefish, they have really big teeth.  Roy was lucky the tip of his finger only got a nick, I’m sure this guy could have easily taken the entire finger off.

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Or even his arm.  The guy at the meat market said bluefish contain mercury so only the smaller ones should be eaten. With a little Mahi left in the freezer we decided Roy should be looking for trophy fish to have his photo taken with.

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Back on Makai more civilized activities are happening.  Like selfies with Topaz and reading.  For Christmas, the kids each got kindles to encourage reading.  Now Roy and Genny spend hours and hours reading.  We got some books by trading with other cruisers and there are more books available from the public library’s online service.

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Every morning we wake up to a clamming boat.  There is usually a single guy on a 20 foot skiff with an interesting basket shaped like a shovel at the end of a 20 foot pole with a T handle.  He just floats around digging into the bottom to collect his catch.  This is another seafood delicacy that Roy has come to enjoy recently.  Clamming required a permit and special equipment, so we indulge in the bargain the local grocery store is offering.  Fifty little neck clams for $15.  I steam them in a pot with 2 cups of water and a chicken bullion.

The municipal marina was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy but appears to be rebuilt.  The marina is busy on the weekends with the launch ramp, fishermen, and sailors.  Next door is the yacht club, sport fishing boats, the Seastreak Ferry to Manhattan, and a few restaurants. First Street takes care of us with a laundromat, movie theater, Napa Auto Parts and a supermarket at the top of the street. We can take the dinghy around to the east, closer to Sandy Hook and the West Marine is a half hour walk away.  Friday was Farmer’s Market day, Roy got a Frisbee there.  He and I are looking up to catch it and Topaz is looking down to chase the shadow.

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All along the US coast services like Tow Boat US and Sea Tow offer memberships, similar to the AAA, offering members assistance if they have mechanical difficulties or get stuck in the mud, which is easy to do here.  This frees up the Coast Guard and the taxpayer’s money from assisting with boats out of fuel or run aground.  Last year we bought the membership after listening to a sailboat stuck at night, in the surf at the end of Sandy Hook.

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We loved our Cape May, NJ lobster dinner so much I googled around for another place to get steamed lobster.  Lusty Lobster is a market a few block in from Atlantic Highlands, in an area just out of our walking distance. But, the man at the seafood counter at the FoodTown supermarket said they get their seafood from Lusty Lobster, so I guess I can get my seafood from FoodTown.  The bonus is that the supermarket has a steamer and will cook the lobster for me!  My mom came for a visit from Buffalo, so this is a perfect time for a lobster dinner.

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Bright and early Sunday morning we headed out for NYC.  Miserable weather is predicted in the next few days so we better enjoy a nice day while we have the chance.

Entering New York Harbor everyone poses like Lady Liberty.

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We learned that Liberty Island was originally called Bedloe Island and the star shaped base the statue stands on was Fort Wood which shared the island for 40 years until the National Parks system took responsibility of The Statue of Liberty.

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The harbor was full of life with tug boats, ferries, speed boats, sail boats, and sight seeing cruises coming and going.

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The Staten Island Ferry was hard to miss. These ferries commute back and forth on the 5 mile run from Staten Island to Manhattan 24/7.  During rush hour they are scheduled every 15 minutes and in the middle of the night you have to wait an hour for the next ferry.  The best news is that this service is free!

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Entrance into the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Park is Free as well.  The catch is that you can’t approach or land on the island unless you are on a Statue Cruise ferry.  These boats move between NJ and the park or Manhattan and the park from 8am to 7pm daily.

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Makai’s harbor tour passed at least 400 feet of the park islands and then to an anchorage on the north side of Ellis Island where millions of immigrants passed through to their new life in America.

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This anchorage offers a million dollar view of New York Harbor’s activities and Manhattan. During the day it was crazy rocky from the boat wakes but worth every minute of it.

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My mom brought a stack of packages with items we’ve been ordering for Makai.  Eric broke out a new American Flag for Makai. We’ll save the old one for Roy to retire with his scout troop when we return to California.

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Not only was the harbor a flurry of activity, so was the air. Kennedy Airport is off to the east, Laguardia Airport is north east, Newark to the west and the south end of Manhattan hosts a heliport, don’t forget military airbases and about 28 smaller outlying airports and heliports adding to the traffic passing by. In the afternoon, five military helicopters came down the Hudson River, circled the Statue of Liberty a few times and went up the East River.  I learned on June 6th, to honor D-day, they poured rose pedals on Lady Liberty.

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Roy put out a line but didn’t have much luck.

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Just when we thought we had seen everything, the cruise ships start coming down the Hudson River.  Norwegian Dawn sports the Statue of Liberty on the Starboard bow.

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Finally, the sun went down and the harbor traffic went home, the wakes subsided for a pleasant evening. One World Trade Center, The Freedom Tower, rises above the city with the top of the tower 1776 feet above the ground.

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When we visited NYC last year, Liberty and Ellis Islands were closed while repairs from Hurricane Sandy were being made.  Lucky for us, we got another chance this year.  It was a quick dinghy trip around the corner to Liberty Island Marina to park the dinghy and a short walk to the ferry landing.  Too bad it’s a stormy day.

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The ferry leaves from the north end of Liberty State Park near the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.

 

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In its hey day the Terminal welcomed passengers from the B&O and Reading Railroad and was surrounded by more than a dozen ferry slips for passengers to continue their trip across the bay. The timetable in 1936 shows 132 weekday departures.  The terminal operated from 1889 to 1967. This train station transported an estimated 10 million immigrants to destinations throughout the United States.

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Now the platforms and rails are empty but I’m sure they have many stories to tell of the lives they changed.

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Well, the rain finally stopped, we made it through security and aboard the Statue Cruise ferry we’re heading to Ellis Island.

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The ferry passes by Makai with Nannie and Topaz aboard.

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The first stop is Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum.

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Many of the artifacts are still stored off site as the climate control system has not yet been repaired from Hurricane Sandy.  Still we spent many hours wandering through the exhibits. The Ellis Island Immigrant Processing Station opened it’s doors January 1, 1892 and 12 million immigrants were processed here until it closed in 1954.  Ten million of those immigrants spread across the United States at the New Jersey Train Terminal. Most of these people were registered, checked in, inspected and transferred the same day they arrived. The museum did a fantastic job of describing immigration past and present.  This sign says it all.  The journey can be a trip to Costco, a day at the beach or Disneyland, a vacation in Hawaii or camping.  Maybe even an offshore cruise on the family sailboat, or maybe relocating alone, with friends or family to another city, state, or country. How about the people who did this before mail deliveries, telephone, email, or internet blogs.   Wow, they are brave.

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Next stop is the ferry trip to Liberty Island and the statue the French law professor  Édouard René de Laboulaye and sculptor Auguste Bartholdi worked so hard to erect as a symbol of freedom and friendship from the people of France to the Americans.

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Yesterday, Eric and I went to the ticket office to check into today’s adventure.  A few years back the kids and I came to NYC but couldn’t climb to Liberty’s crown because Marie wasn’t tall enough.  This time we were excited about the prospect of the 354 step climb to the crown only to be told the wait list is 18 months long.  On the other hand, because we came a day early, we can climb the 200 steps to the top of the pedestal.

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Maybe the climb wasn’t so special, but access to the museum inside was great. The lobby houses the original torch that was replaced in the 1984-1986 refit.

I watched the fireworks from Battery Park in 1985 on July 4th with my brother.  Lady Liberty was covered in scaffolding, but he was 16 and I was 20 and these two country mice had plenty of fun in the city.

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I suppose the pedestal provided a great view of the harbor, but the weather lowered a foggy cloud over the tops of the sky scrapers.

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Once at the top of the pedestal we could look through a window that gave us a glimpse of what it looks like under Liberty’s robes. Her copper sheeting is 3/32 of an inch thick beaten into shape using the repoussé method under the supervision of French scuptor Bartholdi.  The thin copper skin was reinforced with asbestos by Effel the French engineer who designed the statues internal metal framework.

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Eric was in awe of Liberty’s giant nuts… and bolts.

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On the lower level is a fantastic museum describing the more than 21 years of dreaming, planning, fund raising, and work to bring us the Statue that welcomed millions of immigrants into the United States and stands for freedom to people all over the world.

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This museum shouldn’t be missed if you decide to visit Liberty Island.  Be sure to order your tickets in advance at the ticket office or online.

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Think about the excitement of a new life for the people arriving aboard ship after crossing the Atlantic as they passed the Statue of Liberty.

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Next is our trip up the East River.  We’re a little short on photos because my favorite Olympus T2 camera was out of battery and the charger failed.  Ho Hum.  I love the photos this camera takes, how easy it is to use, being able to take it under water, and how small and easy it is to carry around.  What I don’t like is that over the last six months that we’ve had it, it has occasionally given me door seal errors and just as we were leaving the Bahamas, it occasionally didn’t want to turn on.  Ahh, why does my favorite camera ever have to be broken?  I have replacement batteries and an external charger on order, hopefully that will solve my problems.

But luckily not much has changed on the East River. Check out our blog post from last year, there are some great pictures on it including a picture of Makai from a B17 as we rounded Liberty Island. At the end of the river we spent two nights at City Island.  The area was quiet New York town with yummy fried seafood, a fun playground and nice people to talk with.  Roy picked out balancing game Suspended by Melissa and Doug.

This is our turn around point, Makai is heading back south to Maryland.  Back at Atlantic Highlands our friends from Dream Catcher came by.  Eric and Ken took an excursion to Milford, NJ and the Harrison’s house where our van has been waiting.  Beth, Jeannette and Beauty stayed with us on Makai while the guys made repairs and preparations for the van to take the Pimentels on a road trip. Topaz and Beauty co-habitated nicely taking turns visiting the people in the main salon.

In the usual North East style, every few days a nice black storm cloud passes by.

We had neighbors over for sundowners and the rain dumped down filling up the dinghies.  The kids got out the soap and scrub brushes to clean the dinghies and take a bath.

Bright and early Saturday morning Nannie and Topaz jumped ship.  They’re heading to Club Nannie where Topaz and JJ get 6 meals a day, frequent trips to the grass, comfortable couches to watch TV on, and a private swimming pool just for dogs and their guests. We really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, and more reallys miss Topaz.  We miss cuddling and kissing on her, we miss giving her our scraps, we miss her barking at the jet skis and stealing our sandwiches, but when the weather gets warmer and she can’t swim and we’re busy doing boat projects or going to museums, Club Nannie will be better for her.  See you at the end of July Nannie, Topaz and JJ.

The rest of the day we spent at the movies.  How to Train Your Dragon 2, was great, there was a classic car show on First Street, and then we headed out for Barnegat Bay, 40 miles to the south.

The sail was fantastic, we had great wind, and a favorable current which carried Makai at 8 to 10 knots arriving in the anchorage just before sunset.

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