Monthly Archives: July 2015
I have written a separate page about how our life is transitioning and you can read it here. That link tells the big picture of what is happening with us. But what are we doing right now as our life is in the process of transitioning?
Want to buy our home?
Anyone who has sold a home while living there knows how challenging it is to always keep it “show ready” and to be out of the way whenever someone comes to view it. So we decided to take off and spend a little time in Durango, CO.
Our darling two bedroom bungalow.
Instead of baking in the Texas heat while we wait for a buyer, we immersed ourselves in the plethora of activities available in Durango. We packed a lot into a few days (surprise!) and here are the pictures to prove it.
Mountain biking is high on the activity list.
Hiking along lush paths.
Beautiful views by foot or bike.
Visiting the Aztec Ruins (though Aztecs never lived here).
Mary Grace has done some horseback riding.
Fly fishing is all catch and release along the San Juan River.
This was the smallest catch of the day.
It feels like we found the mecca of recreation here in Durango. Had we lived here prior to retirement, I’m not sure we would have found time to work with all the fun things there are to do. Combine that with the fabulous temperatures and this must be a little slice of heaven.
If Let It Be wasn’t calling our name, Durango might be a great place to live.
It appears the dog days of summer have arrived at home in Dallas as the first 100 degree day has hit. In recognition of those “dog days,” today’s post is all about our dog, Captain, and some of her adventures while on Let It Be.
Swimming to and from shore.
Paddle boarding with Frank.
Running – anywhere, anytime!
Coaching MG on her stretches.
Chillin’ while watching for approaching boats.
She doesn’t snorkel, but she likes to come along.
Hikes are fun.
Sailing is fine, but arriving in port is better.
Catching some zzzzz’s
Yep, it’s a pretty rough life Captain leads when on LIB.
Our last evening in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Okay, let’s admit right now, we do not have much passage experience, so “longest yet” for us is nothing for many others.
Still, we are doing our best to build our experience at a reasonable rate and not jump from square one to 10, thereby skipping the learning in between. This sail was an excellent next step for us.
Our first overnight passage was from Virgin Gorda, BVI to St. Martin (84 nm) and that went very well. We had a great weather window with almost flat seas which made our maiden overnight excellent.
Our second passage was from St. Bart to Antigua (80+nm) and, like the first one, was an upwind sail. So the wind angle and seas weren’t perfect but we made it and added to our experience.
This last sail was from Guadeloupe back to Virgin Gorda, BVI and a total of 202 nautical miles. I know that isn’t a long distance for many cruisers, but it was a perfect step for us since we are fairly green and we don’t yet live on Let It Be.
Happily, once again we had an excellent weather window and this time we were with the wind and waves which made me a very happy 1st mate – especially since I did not get sea sick this time!
So what do cruisers see and do on passages? Well, of course we see a lot of this:
Ocean, ocean and more ocean.
But often we saw other islands, some we had visited on our way south and others we just didn’t have time for on this trip.
Hmm, I am pretty sure this is Montserrat.
We spent the night listening to music or audiobooks, but also staring at the sky because the beauty there is beyond description. The stars are truly innumerable when earthly lights don’t interfere and the sundeck is the perfect spot to watch for shooting stars.
This trip Frank trolled for fish and managed to land a skipjack tuna! We have had several hits on the line and were unable to land any fish, but success was finally ours.
Frank is thrilled with his catch!
Some friends have asked us what the difference was and how Frank was able to land this fish. In other words, do we now have the “secret” for catching fish? Well this picture might give away the secret:
Frank kneeling to the sea gods as he reels in the fish.
Truly I jest…. we do not have the secret, but hopefully just as our experience will make us better sailers, practice will make us more successful fishermen.
This trip we had our first and second visit by dolphins! So often I have heard about dolphins visiting boats but experiencing it firsthand was thrilling. They glide and jump and dart about with so little effort and with amazing speed.
Jumping in front of the bow.
They are literally right below the forward beam!
Both times the dolphins played alongside and in front of our boat. The first pod consisted of about 10 dolphins. The second pod had closer to 15 dolphins and they swam with us for a solid 10 minutes. We both wished we could jump in the water and swim with them.
Other activities that consume time on a passage…. sail handling! Those who know Frank, know he has plenty of energy, so we tend to tweak and test sails often. We sailed with a main and jib, we sailed with a jib only, we sailed with a spinnaker. Yep, we played with all the toys. But that keeps Captain Frank busy and we learn in the process.
Virgin Gorda, BVI
After a pleasant 28 hours of sailing, Virgin Gorda was in sight. We had survived our longest sail to date with no serious issues, thank God.
Returning to the BVIs was similar to returning to familiar streets after a long driving vacation; you have had a really great trip, but it’s also nice to be home.
The main street of Deshaies.
WOW! What a fabulous day we have had here in Deshaies. This small fishing village has a strong French feel and very little English is spoken. Needless to say, our communication is poor since we don’t speak much French, but that hasn’t prevented us from having fun!
Church bells ring at the hour and half hour!
Today began with 8 am Mass. Fortunately all Catholic Masses have the same format and I had my on-line missal with todays readings and Gospel in hand. Without it we would have understood almost nothing. Once the Mass was complete, the priest and congregation immediately began an additional service of some sort. I am not sure why or what the significance was as the only thing I understood was the Litany of Saints. All told, we were in church for two hours. We enjoyed some delightful music and were able to receive Communion for the first time in weeks.
After Mass, we decided to take a walk we read about in the Chris Doyle Leeward Islands guide book. The book said “anyone ready for a cool, shady scramble should follow the Deshaies River as it winds its way into the mountains.”
Create your own path on this beautiful stream.
Well this “scramble” is actually a pretty intense hike as we had to traverse over, under and around boulders. The “path” is not marked and this hike is really an opportunity to get in touch with your inner child and explore a river without having your mom reminding you to be careful and not go too far!
After a solid two hours of rock hopping, we found the road that would allow us to walk home. However, the guide book also said the very adventurous could carry on another few minutes to reach the furthest point along the river. Have you ever known us to stop before completing a challenge? Onward!
It was a shady climb.
End of the line….
About 20 minutes past the road, we found “the end” which was a crystal clear waterfall on the backside of a cave that opened into a small circular area before cascading down through the rocky river. Also a perfect place for a very chilly swim!
Looking out from the cave.
After a total of nearly 3 hours of hiking, we started our walk back to Deshaies via a road. One of the first things we encountered was a retreat or convent of some kind called St. Michael the Archangel. It was a beautiful, peaceful area that included an outdoor Stations of the Cross and a shrine to Mary!
The photo doesn’t capture the serenity of the setting.
There are 10 “beads” between each post; a giant rosary!
After this point, the road descended pretty quickly past houses, dogs, cows and chickens. We were quite happy to reach the dock and dinghy back to LIB!
Frank and Captain took naps while I enjoyed some quiet time reading and watching the sun set.
I thought this would be the end of the day.
One more trip to grass for Captain led us to discover that June 21st is the Festival of Music in France and in Deshaies. So off we went, back to town to enjoy a walk down main street to check out the celebration.
The largest ensemble we saw.
The group with the most unique sound.
There were five tents interspersed along main street and each held a unique musical offering. We enjoyed strolling along and stopping to hear the various groups.
I have to admit, sitting on a street curb, listening to a local orchestra with a quarter moon shining in the night sky was rather enchanting.
I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to experience such a variety of places and people!
Who doesn’t love balloons? They represent so many positive and happy occasions from the birth of babies to birthday parties, carnivals, weddings, car sales and so many other important or pleasant events.
But there is another side to balloons; one that is forgotten or never even considered….. thousands and thousands of balloons end up escaping. Is there a secret party “out there” where all escaped balloons meet and party? No. It isn’t that pretty.
Picture the darling little 4 year old, playing with a balloon, laughing and joyous over such a simple toy. Then the balloon escapes, up it flies out of reach and the child cries, heartbroken.
Understandably, the parent spends his or her time comforting the child and the balloon is long forgotten.
But the balloon now seeks its own life’s path floating higher and further as the wind carries it along an unknown route. After a beautiful, carefree flight of perhaps hundreds of miles, the balloon slowly looses air and begins it’s descent wherever it is blown.
A sad end that is actually the beginning of tragedy because now that faded, deflated balloon with it’s bright colored ribbon still attached is about to begin a one balloon death campaign.
Perhaps the bright color will fool an unsuspecting sea turtle that will eat the balloon thinking it is food.
Photo credit to NOAA/Blair Whitherington
Perhaps the turtle is smart enough to realize the balloon is plastic and not food, but in it’s curiosity it swims around the balloon and becomes entangled in the brightly colored string. Soon its movement is restricted and it can no longer swim.
Photo credit to NOAA/Blair Whitherington
These two simple examples will result in the eventual starvation of one turtle and the death of the other as well.
Dolphins, whales and seals have all been found with balloons and other plastics in their stomachs. See this short article by John Metcalfe for additional information and links about balloons in the oceans and on the shores.
Actually, you might be surprised just how many birds, turtles, fish etc end up dying as a result of balloons, strings, fishing lines and other waste that someone simply didn’t recognize as a death trap.
Of course, this was not intentional. A 4 year old has no idea her balloon could cause such havoc. But we, the adults, need to raise our awareness.
I am not advocating that you stop celebrating! I love to celebrate, but next time, perhaps alternatives to balloons can be used.
Bubbles are pretty and fun to pop.
Ribbon streamers come in different lengths and colors.
Or perhaps you could have ribbon streamers on wands – they are engaging and make beautiful dances as children and adults wave them around.
This article Environmentally-Friendly offers many alternatives to balloons.
I’m not posting horrific pictures of dead birds or turtles in this blog, but I am asking that you help increase awareness of your own choices and perhaps share your decisions with others.