Wednesday, February 21, 2007

October 28, 2006

Wrapping up Indiana
A month has passed since the last post, and it is a month that has been jam packed!

Most importantly is the great progress Gpa Wilson has made. Although the hospital kept him a week longer than anyone felt necessary, here it is a month of physical therapy later, and the walker is long since retired. He is walking well, often without even his cane, and last week he started driving again, mostly to the Bluebird for morning coffee with the boys, but also a couple of longer trips to Greenfield. As we understand it the first drive came the morning after we left!

North Carolina
We pulled the coach out the Wilson driveway Oct 18, driven out by the first frost! We took a day and a half to drive south to Hendersonville, North Carolina aiming to spend my birthday with my sister Cecily. The Smokies put on quite a show for us as we traveled, with moist foggy weather in Tennessee where we overnighted in a crowded little Escapees Park and then with brilliant foliage as we climbed up into the Blue Ridge Mountains via I40.

As they did last time, Cecily and Bob arranged for us to leave the coach in one of the few remaining undeveloped cul-de-sacs in Champion Hills, the mountaintop golf community where they live, which meant we had to move off for our four-day visit. Darn, if they'd just let us live aboard in those cul-de-sacs, it would be so fabulous! It seems like every nook and cranny of Champion Hills is beautiful. Of course living in my sister's gorgeous home is always a just means we have to make a couple of trips back and forth to the coach to collect all the appropriate clothing for all the scheduled activities.

To start with, for my birthday, Bob and Cecily arranged a golf lesson for me with their club pro. I was pretty keen for this until the night before when I started to fret for the first time that I might not actually be able to connect with the ball. Honestly, it had not occurred to me before! After all, it has been 34 years since I'd even picked up a golf club. That summer was the year my nephew John, then eleven, spent with my parents (and me) in Williamstown, Mass, and one of the best distractions they could come up with for the two of us "kids" was golf lessons at the club's driving range. John and I smacked a lot of balls that summer, but we never went out on the course.

Incredible as it may seem, my first swing smacked the ball straight out in a nice lofty arc. Cecily was very impressed. Unfortunately, things gradually deteriorated from there. Or at least it felt that way to me. My arms got pretty sore. But I learned a lot of things from the pro to watch for and think about. After the warm-up and lesson, we broke for a wonderful lunch at the Club, which quite simply has a million-dollar view. (Probably that's a billion $ view in this economy!) Afterwards, the four of us took two carts and played about seven holes on the actual course. As I said, this may actually have been my first time ever on a real golf course, and this one is steep! My repertoire of shots from the driving range did not apply too well on 45 degree inclines in the rough, and Don's slice (or is it fade?) regularly took him from side to side and into the woods. More than a few balls were lost!

However, who cared! The course is gorgeous. The brilliant foliage was perfectly accented by the emerald greens! The sky was clear and azure blue, the sun warm, the air crisp, and the company great. It was definitely one of the nicest birthdays I have ever spent!

And there was more. From the course we hurried home to change for a "mixer" dinner back at the club. The sun set in the picture windows as neighbors mingled over cocktails, after which we all turned to a laden buffet table of grilled vegetable antipasto, followed by a seafood saute station with a choice of sauces and pastas to mix with it. Yum! There was also a main course table and a dessert table, but neither measured up to the first two!

The rest of the weekend was spent in a mixture of dog walking, hiking, eating, perusing mutual writing projects (the girls), watching football (the guys) capped off very nicely with a musical revue at the Flat Rock Playhouse. I must confess I was expecting community theater. Pretty surprised to get professional "summer" rep. The play, called "I Love You, You're Perfect...Now Change", was very well done and quite amusing. It's been a long time since I've attended anything like that!

From Hendersonville, Don and I ignored the GPS's insistent recommendations to get east to I95 and instead drove south to Florida by way of small highways through South Carolina and Georgia. This turned out very well for us, with almost no traffic and pretty scenery the whole way. Plus it didn't take us much longer than the GPSs forecast, given that we stick to 55mph for gas mileage even on the Interstates.

Back in Crystal River
Our first stop back was our lot in Crystal River. This gave us a few days to relax on our own, although there didn't seem to be a lot of kick-back time. We walked every day around the park checking out our neighbors' improvements, and on our first bike ride down the trail to the Gulf in the late afternoon we saw a bobcat and an armadillo! Two firsts in one shot! The armadillo was right along the trailside and never even flinched as we rode by. The bobcat leisurely crossed the trail ahead of us, and only darted into the brush as if on second thought as Don rolled quite close. To be honest, we didn't totally process what we were seeing until we were past. How kewl! (now that I write for Lats& Atts Magazine I get to spell it that way!)

The big event of our time in NCL (our RV park) was the purchase and planting of trees for the lot. We now have a 14' tall "summer red maple" and two ligustrums (evergreens which can grow as a tree or be pruned into a shrub), plus two "Knock-Out" rose bushes, a spontaneous purchase for color. No sooner were they all planted than we got a night of heavy rain, so the next day we ran out and bought grass seed and a spreader to resow our blotchy "lawn". There is probably no woman my age with LESS experience in this area than me, and I had very little idea what I was doing, but with my Better Homes & Gardens "gardening for dummies" book and advice from the nursery man, I'd have to confess to having myself a good ol' time messing about in the dirt! Yikes, what has the world come to!

This morning we drove down to Clearwater in time for a Halloween brunch at Lenny's, where the staff, including our son-in-law Derek, were all dressed up in Halloween costumes. That evening, we were on hand for Kai's introduction to trick or treating. Kai, in a Frankenstein costume (sans mask!) and trailing a retinue of five adults, was at first a bit non-plussed by the whole scenario of approaching strange houses where unknown adults, often in scary costumes, greeted him with baskets of brightly wrapped candies -- stuff that he had never seen before. But once he realized -- incredible of incredibles! -- that these complete strangers might drop "suckers" into his sack, he must have thought he'd died and gone to heaven!

Boat shows

I had quite a good trip to the Annapolis Boat Show, by the way, even though the weather ran the gamut from October perfection to a howling nor'easter. Haven't gotten my commission check yet, so I'm not sure just HOW GOOD. But I saw lots of old friends: lunch w/ Bill of Geodesic...aka Uncle Bill , dinner with Dennis and Lisa of Lady Galadriel, and pass-by quickies with Elaine Lembo (my Cruising World connection), Amy Ullrich (Managing Editor of Sail Magazine who wrote the great piece on Whisper in 1996), Chris Garrity (Maptech), Jan Robinson (of all those Ship to Shore cookbooks), and Big John of CYOA Yacht Charters (the last three all former/current Virgin Islanders.)

Now comes the St. Pete Show, practically in our own back yard. Wonder who I'll see at this show? At Annapolis I only worked the booth; no seminars. But in St. Pete I will rejoin Kathy Parsons and Pam Wall for our Women and Cruising Seminar from which was born my Admiral's Angle column in Latitudes and Attitudes Magazine. People might actually have heard of me this time!

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The 2Cs in Indiana

September 19, 2006

I'm sitting here writing you all from the 2C rolling home, parked in Gpa & Gma Wilson's back driveway with a soybean field out the front window, a towering fir off the port bow, and Gma Wilson's kitchen full of tempting sweets inside the back door about 20' away. It's been just gorgeous weather up here this past week, Indiana at its best..., although we 2Cs don't think much of the current cold front that rolled through yesterday dropping temps to the 40s this morning!

The headline news is, of course, that Don's Dad's surgery went very well and that his recovery seems to be progressing better than his first go around three years ago. This is not to say that there haven't been a few dips in the highway. Jim gets a little impatient with the pace of hospital life and of his own recovery, but everybody else is pretty impressed.

Don and I and our jetlag pulled into Morristown a week ago today (Tues). Don's brother Greg came down Wednesday night , so Jim went in on Thursday with a full support team in his corner. This time the surgeon used a post-surgery nerve block in the groin area which seems to have knocked down a lot of the pain. Who knows why they didn't do that last time? On Saturday, Greg and Karen were back down, granddaughter Tisha was up from Evansville, and of course the tireless team Dane and BJ were all on hand. It was almost sounding like a party in room 382 with the whole clan gathered.

It is looking today that Jim might be able to come home Thursday. Of course, there is a long road of physical therapy ahead, and everybody agrees that Don is the coach who will get him through it all. Don is a firm task-master!

Meanwhile, it looks like I will fly to Annapolis for the big US Sailboat Show there Oct. 5-9, once again working in the booth for Sea Tech Systems. I'm told this is a big selling show, so there's some hope of bring home some $! Then if Jim's progress continues as well as it has started, we hope to start south to Florida early enough to fit in a side trip to NC to visit with Cecily and Bob in Hendersonville before we need to be back to Clearwater on Nov. 2. After that we start on a very busy sequence of the St. Pete Boat Show, arrival of Judy and Bryan from Trinidad, and the Seven Seas Cruising Associations Gam in Melbourne.

The Two Captains Return

September 10, 2006

The Two Captains have not only arrived safely back in the US, but that we are 300 miles along on our way by RV from Crystal River, FL to Morristown, IN!

We had a good trip back. We left Tackless II completely stowed for cyclone season and in the care of Curly Carswell, Savu Savu's well-known "harbormaster," and set out on our journey with a short flight from Savu Savu to Nadi. In Nadi we officially changed our tickets and then grabbed a cab to Vuda Point Marina where we spent the afternoon with our friends Bud and Nita of Passage. Then back to the airport. Neither of our big plane flights were full, and we had a row apiece on the LA to Tampa segment, (and could have had on the Fiji to LA flight if we'd been quicker!) Nonetheless, night travel by plane is no better than a night watch, and after about 42 hours of travel door to door, we were seriously jet-lagged!

We spent the first night back in the US in Clearwater with the kids, soaking up as much of our seriously charming grandson as possible. Kai was happy to see us and clearly knew who we were, going to get the framed photo of us his Mom keeps on his dresser! The next day we loaded up in the car with Tiff and Kai, our bags and his toys, and headed north to Crystal River to collect the RV. On the way we stopped off in Hernando Beach for a couple hours' visit with our friends Diane and Alex who had looked after our bikes over the summer. It looks to us as though the house they have been building is nearly done, even to the point of a floating dock in the canal out back. However, there was no boat on the dock...yet. There are rumors they are looking!

At Crystal River, we found our coach in good shape except where our container of dehumidifier crystals had sucked up so much humidity that it had overflowed. Derek had done a good job cleaning up on one of his visits, but apparently the moisture had had enough time to soak into the press board that makes the bedside table top so that it had swollen all up and burst its Formica overlay! Some repair ahead there. Otherwise, it sure was a lot easier to recommission the RV after layup than the boat! Tiffer and Kai stayed the night with us, and we enjoyed the evening together tremendously, grilling fish steaks on the BBQ. Kai got to ride on the neighbor's golf cart, and he found the park a Paradise for scooting around on his scooter!

We all got on the road this morning around 10:30, T&K heading south in the Saturn, and we north in the coach. Since Gma & Gpa Wilson have a couple of cars, we decided that we could make do without our car another month, thereby making life easier for the baby girl.

We are currently parked in a nice little travel park in Ozark, Alabama, (wireless is included!!!:-) !!!) following Gpa Wilson's route to Indy. It may be a bit longer, but it presents fewer hills. Gpa's surgery is set for Sept. 14, and we expect to arrive midday on the 12th. We'll keep you update on tings as we go!.