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Saturday, August 20, 2011

How do you sum up the adventure of a lifetime?

We knew we were in for an adventure, but the Loop was so much more than an adventure.....

Here are the Buddy and BooBoo before we left on our trip. Joel had not yet completed the canvas for the windows. We were appreciative often of the fine work our friend Joel had done with the canvas and upholstery. Crawdad was ready to go!
Summary Loop Facts:
13 months
2 countries
21 states
114 locks
6704 miles
3404 gallons of diesel fuel
936 engine hours

Great friendships were the basis of our pleasure. We have made friends for life. Tonight a Looper friend called while we were at dinner. He saw my Facebook posting and had to call to congratulate us.  He said he was proud of us for completing the Loop. We are proud of him for completing the Loop!
Pete and Anna Gulick.

We learned about life. About how little we need to survive and thrive. We learned how to accept a problem and just deal with it....and go on! The next problem may be ours, or our friends and it does not matter. We will stop and wait and sort out the issue together!

Jim was an handy guy before the trip, but we have made a significant leap in our abilities and willingness to fix problems our own.

Manasquan Inlet, Briele, NJ. This was a problem that needed a LOT of help. Fortunately we were near our daughter Adrienne's home in Stratford CT, so a delay was.....well a good thing? (Maybe we have become Pollyanna....)

How does one live in a small space? Just fine! How does one live with few possessions? Just fine! We know now we don't need much to make us happy. We don't need "things", but we do need friends and family!

Charlie from Bama Belle took Joe, our son-in-law fishing a number of times. Joe loves to fish...and so does Charlie.

Adrienne and Joe visited while we were in Marathon.

Adrienne loved playing with the Parrent kids in Marathon.

Jamie and Aisha visited in Marathon as well, before their cruise to the Caribbean..

Jamie and Aisha loved the beach and investigating what was around and in the water.

Joe and Erica....oh, I mean Buddy and Erica in Jacksonville, FL.. Jim has all the pictures of their visit on his computer and of course, it isn't working!  Refer to earlier wedding picture! I'll repost more pictures later.
My beloved sister, Marcia and her wonderful husband, Andy (along with Nanner), stayed with us in St. Joe as we waited out the weather.

Winne and Ray Adams, owner of Epic. I have raced sailboats with them for 30 years! A visit from Ray and Winnie was like....home!
My cousin Jane and her husband Bill visited us in Marathon and Baltimore.

Jim, my sailing buddy of.....25+ years and his dear wife Judy. We visited with them in Beaver Island, MI and Marathon. Looks like three old gray hairs in this shot!
Pat and Ernie Myers from Hilton Head, NC are our friends from Dutch Connection bicycle trips. We have enjoyed trips with Pat and Ernie to Austria, Netherlands, Cape Cod, Vermont, Hilton Head & Williamsburg. Our trip next summer will be to Montreal and Vermont. They are an amazing couple and we love spending time with them.

We never met these two guys until the day of fishing. We were sitting in the dinghy (waiting for Jim......) and we started talking to two strangers. After a discussion of the Loop and a viewing of our boats, they asked to show us around Pensacola. We went.....and look at this! I had never fished before in my life! Bad news is the fish was too big. Had to throw him back.

We so appreciated the support early on from Present Moment. Sue and Darryl were experienced and happy to share their knowledge and friendship.
Sue and Darrel on the left with Barb and Greg from Goncruzin with none other than Fern, from Hoppies. Fern and Hoppie own the marina (really a barge to tie onto) and Fern tells all the Loopers when they stop, where to go and where not to go. Critical information as Hoppies is on the Mississippi. Fern and Hoppie have been doing this service for 40 years.

Sue from Present Moment woke up during the night and took this picture of a barge heading up the river. We were tied to a barge and not far from where the barge would pass. Such a great shot!

Here we are at Crawdad's! Cute little restaurant at the marina on the Illinois River. We had just had the adventure of a lifetime we didn't need as our shaft on one of our engines detached from the coupler in the lock with the tow engines churning. Doing 360's in one of the first locks was not what we had in mind. Darrel and Sue remained with us for two days while we waited for a new coupler to arrive.

Darrel and Sue with their daughter, Laura.

Negotiator and their three lovely children, Jaxon, Ryann and Morgan. We "ran" much of the way running into them and enjoying each moment.
We have new appreciation for home schooling. These are smart kids and are ahead of their classmates. On this day, the Parrents rescued us when we ran out of gas in the dinghy.

Blue Yonder, Pete and Anna, were with us the longest and we love them dearly as we do Mobey, their friendly feline. Pete is the handiest of handy and most willing to assist in any way - mostly to show us how to do it on our own.
Pete is the ever smiling, joking pal we all want. Anna, knows what is going on. Sorry Pete, she's got your number!

Anna is such a sport! The three of us ventured to visit the "creepies" (spooky canals with deserted vessels) and we ran out of gas. I was riding while Anna and Adrienne rowed.

Laura and Bill from Monkey girl live in Ft. Lauderdale. We anchored, investigated bayous and just had a lot of fun. We lingered in Ft. Lauderdale because we didn't want to leave them behind as they finished their Loop. Monkey Girl spent the summer in the Chesapeake with two weeks in Washington DC. Sounds like great fun.

Monkey Girl, Blue Yonder and Crawdad as they entered Clearwater Harbor after crossing the Gulf of Mexico during the night.

Bill is asking Jim if he is OK with the fact that we are illegally on an Air Force Base and the cab we called is over an hour late.  Laura, as you can see, is quite relaxed about the whole thing.

Laura Peters has just ridden miles on her bike and is contemplating the state of the world.

Thanksgiving with Blue Yonder and Monkey Girl.

Jim and Bill on the elevator after grocery shopping. Looks like a serious conversation.

Bill and Jim are skilled at setting anchors.

Sometimes Bill and Jim used trees instead of anchors.

We met Bama Belle at Marco Island when he came up to our boat and said he knew who we were by watching our blog! We traveled to the Everglades, Marathon and beyond. He is a character indeed and generous to a fault!
Charlie showed Brandy and us how to get a napkin into a wine bottle. Information for real living.

Many of our friends were in Marathon. What a great spot.

Charlie is the consummate fisherman and he loved taking us fishing on his boat.

High Spirits were pure Canadian pleasure. Cooking together and preparing meals was a joy of its own. We never knew how much we could love tractors! Wayne and Ruth taught us to notice how tall the corn is, or how many cows were in the field. Who would have thought!
We had a great time sharing meals and trying each other's favorite foods. We ate quite a few key lime pies!

Ruth and Wayne were willing to try anything.

Typical picture of Wayne and Jim. Two very curious guys who like the same things. Means a long wait for Ruth and me.

Grianan were having so much fun and eager to learn more. We appreciated Kate and Greg's good humor at Mediterranean mooring and anchoring together. 
Greg wanted to "med moor", aka Mediterranean mooring....tie to a tree. We anchored and tied the stern to a tree in Baie Fine.

Hiking up to Lake Topaz was such fun! Typical Kate, always smiling and laughing.

Riding our bikes around Mackinac Island on a perfect day.

Finally, not to forget our friends on the "Looper Train". Seemoore, Jeremiah, Bade Boomer and Dream Catcher. No matter where we would go - we would eventually run into the Train. What a joy! We will miss them as well.

Friends for life and an adventure of a lifetime. Never to be forgotten.

Jim and I talked tonight about our next adventure - probably the North Channel and Georgian Bay next summer. It feels good to look ahead and know we will be on the water again - meeting more wonderful people and perhaps running into some of our friends from this Loop ...... again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bay City, MI. We are finally "home"!

Today was an incredible day to travel on the Great Lakes. The winds were calm and we smiled thinking of the times in the past we struggled in the looming waves. What a difference a day makes!
The only waves today were caused by our wake. I always check behind us on this leg as we have suffered freighters barreling down on us. Surprise!

Gravely Shoal Light - great name!

The trip down Saginaw Bay to Bay City is long and fortunately today, boring.

Mixed feelings for us all as we cruised into our home dock. Our friendly neighbors are out of town and the Marina looked a bit quiet. (Well, it was Friday at 1PM!).
Buddy is thrilled to be so close to home.

BooBoo not so much.

Our son and pregnant daughter-in-law arrived as we pulled in to help us tie up to the dock. Erica is pregnant and so cute! She and Joe told us the good news when we were last home, but now she looks pregnant. Joy! Joe looked cute too, of course! 

I was so excited to see Joe and Erica, I forgot to take a picture. Here is a picture from their wedding in Petoskey, MI, two years ago.

Since I was in the wedding file, I copied this for your pleasure. What a handsome couple! I don't know why it is showing up here so small. You'd think I would have figured that stuff out by now.

Our buddies Jan and Jeri are hiking in the Grand Tetons and Gail and Gordie are not "home" at the boat either! Hey you guys!
See our empty slip? See the huge waves from the 20 knot wind? No? It was a picture perfect day for docking.

We decided to stay the night on the boat (do we seem to be dragging our feet?) and cook on the boat as well. Just like any other marina, right? OK, we went out to our favorite restaurant in Bay City - Harveys. As usual, we had a great time. No picture as, again, I forgot. Guess I am getting into the swing of real life. Don't need a camera around my neck for that.

Tonight Jim and I will tally our information and pass on our final thoughts tomorrow in our last blog.

We really appreciate your time as you have followed our blog. Your comments are appreciated and we look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

East Tawas, MI - for a change the ride was a pleasure!

Rarely are the seas as flat as they were today on Lake Huron. We cruised with ease and crossed paths with surprisingly few boats. We saw only one boat during the entire day as we cruised from Harrisville to East Tawas, a short 39 miles.
East Tawas Yacht Basin, entering the harbor around the breakwall.

East Tawas, MI is a really nice town. The Tawas State Park is nearby with camping and cabins available. Groceries and a Walmart are nearby as well. We did not need any groceries. We need to eat leftovers from the freezer!

We had never ridden our bicycles to Tawas State Park, so we took the opportunity to unload our bikes and head on out to Tawas State Park. Interesting ride as we viewed the homes and forests. After about five miles we entered the State Park and were interested in the campground. Few tents and mostly 5th wheel trailers and RV's lined the campsites.

Tawas Lighthouse. Originally there was a second residence for the assistant lighthouse keeper and his family. Looking at the register of previous lighthouse keepers, one man kept the lighthouse for 26 years.

View from the top of the lighthouse. Lots of tiny steps to reach the top. Can't imagine climbing those steps many times a day to check the light.

Jim was trying to decide what looked best for dinner from the kitchen cupboard.

The lighthouse was open for inspection and despite our numerous visits to lighthouses during the last 13 months, we took advantage of the  opportunity to view another lighthouse. The  original  Tawas Lighthouse was built in 1852 and as sand accumulated around the point, the lighthouse appeared to move inland until the lighthouse was over a mile inland. In 1876 a new lighthouse was built....with lots of steps to get to the top!
The beach below the lighthouse at the Tawas State Park.

Tomorrow is the cruise up Saginaw Bay, which is typically a pain! Since the winds primarily originate in the West or Southwest, waves build up on the shallow bay.  Tomorrow's forecast is for little wind. Would be best to get an early start before the winds start blowing.

Our friends Jeri and Jan on One More Day and Gordie and Gail on Weeks' End will probably be around for the weekend. Will be great to see them. Will be strange to dock at our home dock at Wheeler's Landing in Bay City, MI.

During the evening gnats were everywhere! I used the shop vac three times to vacuum the gnats on the ceiling above Big Red (the lamp!). The fish are going to be happy with all these insects on the water!

Dinner cruises to Charity Island look like fun. The area around the Island is shallow, so the pontoon would be the best option.

Adjacent to the State Dock is a camping park, but most of the "campers" are fifth wheels or big RV's. Some of the sights are on Lake Huron. Really nice.

Sunrise over E. Tawas Harbor. I love that still water (when in the trawler. When in the sailboat, I could cry when I wake up to water that looks like this picture!)