Four Aboard in the Abacos

From Saturday Jan 6 through mid-day Sunday Jan 14 Twin Sisters was home and vacation digs for more people than we’ve had aboard for longer than a few hours. And I’m pleased to report that despite the crappy weather that kept us inside way too much, everyone, especially Benj and Lily, rose above the disappointing conditions and made the best of things.

I mean, we folded up the bimini top on Jan 1 and didn’t reopen it until Jan 22!  (think windy and noisy) Except for the three times we were underway, no one hung out on the flybridge. The only time it was used was when Benj and Lily worked at prying coconut meat out of one we’d collected earlier in Hope Town.

Heading into Sea Spray with Benj & Lily the day they arrived. The ferry from MH right on our tail.

On the plus side, windy conditions indicated a comfy marina slip would be a good idea. We chose a place we hadn’t been to before, over on Elbow Cay but not in Hope Town Harbour proper.

The short list of “really want to do” consisted of 1) Hope Town and Lighthouse, 2) Swim at Tahiti Beach and 3) Little Harbor/Pete’s Pub. Took all week but we made them all happen. The weather was stuck in this funky pattern where the forecast the night before was often quite wrong about the next day, so creative thinking and flexibility was key to making the most out of the short spans of “not too rainy”.

This was Lily’s first Bahamas adventure and her most time spent aboard by far, so our (Russ, I and Benj) focus was on making sure she had a good time and got a flavor of the Abacos- like lunch at Firefly !

 

Our view from Sea Spray Marina. After the rain, the sky makes pretty

The marina is aptly named, because easterly wind causes the spray to blow over the narrow land; soon Twins was covered in salty sea spray!

We snagged a ride to Hope Town village in the marina’s courtesy “car”- a 4-seater golf cart in good weather, or a mini van in unpleasant weather- like today. Lunch at Captain Jack’s- laid back with a harbour view and everyone agreed the meal was very good.

Lily received the grand village tour including a stop at Vernon’s (known for his breads and pies) and I picked up a container of Om Grown’s sunflower shoots to make a dish I’ve copied from Om Grown that I call Hope Town Pasta.

Atlantic Ocean view from Hope Town

One morning a two-hour window opened up with low winds and hopefully no rain- so off they went to swim at Tahiti Beach.

The kids head off to swim, snorkel and walk by Tahiti Beach around the corner from Sea Spray

Mid-week we braved the wind and bid farewell to Sea Spray with a plan: if we could get a mooring in the harbour we’d snag that and spend two nights. If none available we’d anchor outside the harbour and dinghy to the lighthouse docks. Hopefully one or both manatees would be hanging around the marina for a lighthouse and manatee “check off the list”.

The harbour mooring goddess smiled upon us and our hopeful guests, and presented us with a choice of two moorings; we chose a double green which we knew belongs to Lucky Strike. Truman has well-maintained moorings, second only to Captain Ron’s in our opinion. A two-day stay in Hope Town was guaranteed as was a lighthouse visit.

Benj & Lily played so many games of cribbage I lost count. Other inside activities involved meal prep, snacks (these two eat more than we old folk), happy hour appetizers and of course “your beverage of choice”. Lily liked to hear what Russ and I were having and often chose based on that, with a Barcelo Blazer a regular (ok maybe twice) request. Licor 43 (a Spanish liqueur so Barcelo might be short for Barcelona), tequila and a dash of chocolate bitters.

Cribbage never interferes with happy hour! Today our esteemed guests chose martini cocktails, those garlic stuffed olives coming in handy for Benj’s dirty martini

Apres rain rainbow.  Time is 20 mins before sunset.

Friday found us underway toward Marsh Habour and the same slip at the marina we’d left on Saturday. Tying up and casting off is always easier with our son to help. Lily was the perfect guest in that regard and knew to stay out-of-the-way (observing with a smile and chuckle no doubt)  as we handled lines and fenders. 🙂

They biked into town and returned with coconut bread and DONUTS from Da Best Yet Bakery. Saturday we enacted the plan that would enable us to get to Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour and more! If not by sea, then by land! Benj dropped Russ off at the dinghy dock across the harbour. We’d booked a rental car from USave Auto rental which is at the airport but also operates a second location a stone’s throw from the dinghy dock.

First stop was the bakery for more donuts 🙂 then Maxwell’s. After unloading back on Twins, we headed south down the Great Abaco Highway with Google as our guide. Stop #1- Pete’s Pub for lunch and see the sights.

Upper deck of Pete’s pub

Our son is not known for owning material items in excess (only food perhaps!) and I always (still do) had to encourage him to replace worn out items- ones he’d re-stitched or repaired many times. So when he arrived, a new pair of sunglasses was a hot topic and Benj made a point of showing me, saying he knew I’d be surprised and pleased that he bought new ones. I immediately pulled out my latest pair (because I need 3), recently acquired in St Augustine and we had a great laugh. Identical except that Benj’s temple pieces were longer than mine.

Matchy shades! Where does Benj get his good taste?

Next stop, Cherokee Sound settlement.

Cherokee Sound: sits a few miles south of Little Harbour and lays claim to the longest dock in the Bahamas thanks to the very shallow waters surrounding the tiny settlement. Most cruisers never go there by boat but in our nifty rental car it was easy. I’ll take the easy route and quote from the Destination Abaco booklet to give you the scoop about Cherokee Sound.

“In the early 1780s, Cherokee Sound was founded by Colonel Thomas Brown along with American Loyalists from the Carolinas. …the settlement was given the name Cherokee Sound by the Colonel because he was once one of England’s liaisons with the Cherokee Indians. Although Cherokee Sound has been described as the most geographically isolated settlement on Great Abaco Island, the Loyalists were attracted to the availability of fresh water and the protected harbour that it provided on the southeast coast of Abaco. There is also a long barrier reef accentuated by cays that protect the northern side of the island.”

That may have been acceptable “back in the day” but the water was often (think “not at high tide”) too shallow for larger vessels. And residents had to cross a shallow bay in a small boat in order to reach the mainland. Prior to 1990 the 15 mile road to Marsh Harbour was gravel before being paved. By 1997 a new road with an over-water bridge was built and paved which allowed residents to drive to the Great Abaco Highway.

Cherokee’s economy was driven mostly by wrecking, fishing and farming in the 1800s. The local Methodist church was built in 1827 and in 1988 the community erected a monument dedicated to the Cherokee fishermen and their smacks (fishing vessels).  Because the fishing voyages would often take six to ten weeks, the men had many opportunities to visit various islands and cays throughout the Bahamas; thereby giving them a vast area to explore and find shells to bring home to their sweethearts and families. As a result of such an extensive shell collection, a tiny “Gifts From The Sea” museum recently opened up free to the public. It’s locked but you only have to call the number on the sign and one of the settlement’s 160 residents will come and open the doors for you.

We didn’t have time for the shell museum but we did see the tiny yellow building as we drove through the settlement’s one main road.

Cherokee- the dock has been shortened by hurricanes but is being repaired piece by piece

 

The long view of things in Cherokee

 

Father- son moment in Cherokee. Notice the lower level sitting area for a leg dangle in at higher tide

Much further south sat our next and final stop of the day, Sawmill Sink Blue Hole. First we had to backtrack to the Great Abaco Highway and then drive, oh at least another 10-12 miles south. Just to be clear, “paved road” doesn’t mean quite the same as in the States; 40mph is a safe speed. Plus, the car did NOT have a spare tire and per the contract we were responsible for all costs should we incur a flat. No way do we want that adventure today!

The blue hole had to be located on Google maps so we could find our way there. If you recall from the Marsh Harbour post, the roads were begun by Owens-Illinois who created primary and secondary logging roads. We had to be able to find the turnoff onto the correct logging road, then drive west until we’d come to what we hoped was the obvious spot to park near the blue hole. Thanks to Google we did not get lost!

Benj and Lily brought swimming gear in case conditions permitted, but the afternoon got cloudy and the blue hole didn’t look as inviting as they’d hoped.

The parking spot is just that, a slightly wider tiny section of logging road with an obvious path leading to the blue hole.

The road looks like this heading back to the Great Abaco Highway

Sawmill Sink Blue Hole which has given up many artifacts since its discovery- check it out on Nat’l Geographic

 

Looking across the Sawmill Sink Blue Hole- bird on roots near bottom- possible Bahama Mockingbird

Benj and Lily claim they saw (up close) a hummingbird, and well Ok I trust they did, but we didn’t see much in the way of colorful flowers. Russ saw a few like the below.

Sea star flower. Credit to photographer Russ.

Piece of old light railway used by logging company

 

Railway related ruins

As usual, the drive back didn’t seem as long as the going and in this case it was shorter; just a long haul back up the Highway. Was a fun day exploring places we’ve only been by boat and others we would never get to except by car. The day’s weirdest happening I will leave out, but if Russ or I remember, we’ll be sure to tell the bizarre tale in person.

Sunday was departure day and we all enjoyed a leisurely morning as the flight wasn’t until almost 2pm. Did we take them in the rental car? No, that timing didn’t work out. But it’s more fun to hail a taxi!  You get on VHF channel (06 I think) and you say something like, “taxi pickup needed from Jib Room to airport.” Keep it short. Immediately a taxi will respond with “taxi 16, five mins away.”  Then you acknowledge that taxi number and get to the pickup spot if you aren’t there already.  Writing about it doesn’t give you the real flavor though as the locals speak fast, with an accent and in the case of taxis, more than one may try to get the ride. If number 16 says 10 mins, but another chimes in with 5 mins, you can acknowledge the one you want. If you have a favorite taxi number you can just hail “taxi 123” on the VHF.  Different here, yes, but it works well.

And then we were all alone… to put Twins back to the state of two aboard, deflate air mattress, move Engel freezer back down, clothes back on the rod above the bed, etc. Keeping busy was good as we adjusted and of course began checking the weather to see when we might be able to head out of the Abacos and down to the Exumas.

 

Advertisements

Marsh Harbour

Fancy Defence Force vessel in Marsh Harbour

Although a fair number of cruisers anchor in the protected harbour that’s ringed by marinas, restaurants and private docks, it’s the free anchoring, easy access to provisions and a myriad supplies that’s the draw, not the scenery. Marsh is the country’s third largest city- behind Nassau and Freeport I’m guessing. Marsh Harbour also boasts the only street light in the Abacos.

The city was founded by American Loyalists in 1784; growing from an initial population of a few hundred to more than 7,000 residents today. The infrastructure is more substantial than any other place we’ve visited in the Bahamas (with the exception of Nassau on New Providence) and Maxwell’s Supermarket definitely feels like a stateside grocery, albeit closer to a Piggly Wiggly than a Wegman’s!

Timeline:

  • 1565: French colony established and paired with a sister colony in St. Augustine
  • 1947: Bahamas Airways Ltd introduced the first scheduled flights between Abaco and Nassau
  • 1957: Marsh Harbour Int’l Airport opened- the prior year Marsh obtained Port of Entry status by Bahamas Customs
  • 1959: Abaco road network began by Owens-Illinois covered 1,600 miles including secondary logging roads. Two licensed autos on Abaco this year.
  • 1968: Owens-Illinois completed pulpwood operation began in 1948. They provided the area’s first medical doctor in ’48.
  • 1973: Independence from Great Britain on July 10. Not all Bahamians wanted this to occur.
  • 1993: The Abaconian newspaper began as a 12-page monthly.

Ok- now on to our Sea of Abaco wanderings. Remarkably settled weather held out thru the end of December so we made the most of it. A trip down to Little Harbour is a must and there we performed the final act of identifying ourselves as Florida residents; removing our CT dinghy numbers and replacing them with FL registration numbers. Once again, thanks to BoatNumberPlate it was easy, even the removal.

Don’t worry, we made time to beachcomb and enjoy lunch at Pete’s. The foundry had just finished up a commissioned piece that we admired as Pete and his chief foundry guy polished it up outside the Gallery/Gift Shop.

Little Harbour with new reflective FL dinghy numbers.

One of our last out and about stops before needing to hide out at Marsh Harbour Marina for the approaching cold front (and guest preparations) was near Snake Cay. The holding is very iffy near there so we anchored a bit further  away and our trusty Ultra dug in well.

I watched as three dolphins headed our way, perhaps drawn in by the hum of the watermaker.

Dolphin visitors easily seen in clear water off Cormorant Cay .

The opening next to Snake Cay that leads you into a mangrove-lined lagoon is narrow and when the current is full force you notice! Luckily we entered about an hour past low. Higher tide is needed if you want to meander south from the lagoon area.

Ray in lagoon behind Snake Cay

 

Snake Cay lagoon has a varied bottom with lots of shallows and is very deep near entrance. Swift current creates sand steps that you can see on calm days.

So we next headed into Marsh Harbour Dec 31 to the marina that would be home until Lily and Benj arrived on Jan 6. As we approached the wide and marked entrance into the harbour, we noticed the below scene off to our right in the middle of the Sea of Abaco. The start of a race? A New Year’s Eve tradition? No way Jose!

Most but not all of BucketLust cats- drone photo shoot?

We got closer and boats were still coming out of the harbour, so could read the flag that said BUCKETLUST. Googled that and it’s basically an organization where twenty-somethings charter catamarans in exotic places and ski at top resorts. The cats hold 8- 10 young people and the ratio HAS to be 50/50 male/female. The charter captains are local charter captains that the lead organizer of each boat has to hire. The lead also has to fill the boat with that 50/50 ratio. And then they all descend upon the chosen location and boy I’m not sure I want to know after that!

They picked a bad week this time; very windy much of the week. The itinerary looked good, lots of fun stops but not sure all were possible with the week’s lousy weather.

BucketLust charter cats head off for a week of frolic in the Abacos

Our slip at the marina is closer to shore due our draft so we had extra wind and wave protection, but there’s one direction that really blows the waves into the fairways and yep we had some of that.

Someone’s sail on the dock across is trying to go sailing!

 

Became very wavy in MHM fairways with west-ish winds. Note the wave splashing at the stern of the sailboat

In between the wind and rain we cleaned inside and out, loaded up with as many provisions as we could, prepped the spare berth by removing contents to new and unusual places, and baked, baked and baked!

Arrival day’s forecast was so-so, but worse was the next day’s and you know we don’t like to be out in 20kts+ ! Not doing that with guests either, so plans were finalized (after much and lengthy consideration) to get to Sea Spray Marina on Elbow Cay Saturday afternoon. Hopefully the trip would be tolerable and the worst one we’d have to make all week. Excited to see Benj and Lily?  You bet!!

 

 

Hope Town on Elbow Cay

After the rain… We get one of these shots every year

What’s not to love about Hope Town? Pretty sure I’ve told you it all before, but I did take pictures because we spent Christmas on a mooring in the harbor. First though, the background info and timeline. Aren’t you surprised at the recent-ness of non-generator electricity and homes with phones?

Timeline:

  • 1697-1718 Piracy in Hope Town. Real high seas pirates, not the land sort!
  • 1783-85 Loyalists arrive. Wyannie Malone and three of children among the first settlers. The museum bears her name (check out the Ebb Tide gift shop attached to museum)
  • 1700s: Wrecking at its peak. (thinking Hope Town should be the sister city to Key West)
  • 1864: The lighthouse was built to save lives
  • 1900: Hope Town was home port for at least 200 vessels
  • 1933: A major hurricane decimated Hope Town leaving only three homes undamaged
  • 1960s: The vacation home era begins
  • 1974: Electricity arrives!

Head east from Marsh Harbour and there lies the well-known settlement of Hope Town, located on Elbow Cay so named for the bent arm look. The ferry from Marsh Harbour gets you and tons of workers there in 20 minutes. Elbow Cay is, at least from what we’ve seen, populated by vacationers and non- Bahamians, far more so than by native Bahamians (apprx 260 native residents). Roots go back to Lucayan, Indian, Spanish Slave Raider, pirate, British and Loyalists!

It’s a quaint, New England style village with colorful homes (mostly rentals), many with ocean views. Hope Town boasts a two-mile long walk-able beach. Where I found my first sea bean, although you don’t find many on that beach at all.

The harbour more recently seems to be the home for two manatees, which I’ve named Mabel and Manny.

Mabel greets us as we get tied up to the mooring. She heard the sound of fresh water dripping into the water as Russ rinsed off the steps

They tend to hang out at Lighthouse Marina, the very small marina near the harbour’s entrance. The marina sells fuel and water, the ferry drops off and picks up workers, one can use the washers and dryers for that fun laundry task and amuse yourself by watching the manatees.

The good life!

 

Not a remora- but what? This underside view was a surprise. Have seen remoras on nurse sharks- but not sure what this creature is.

 

On our way to dinner at Harbours Edge on Christmas Eve

 

Hope Town harbor- we are to the left “under the lighthouse. Harbours Edge restaurant on right

When the winds are light we head out of the harbour to run our watermaker and enjoy places like Tahiti Beach which is on Elbow Cay a few miles south of Hope Town Harbour.

Tahiti Beach- not much beach exposed at high tide

If you missed the posts about Man-O-War and Green Turtle… just go back a post or two to see their history and timelines. Next up after Hope Town is Marsh Harbour.

Man-O-War Cay

Green Turtle sits at the upper left corner. Man-O-War on the right edge, above Marsh Harbour

Just three and half miles north-east of Marsh Harbour lies the tranquil settlement of Man-O-War; tranquil no doubt thanks to being “dry”. The Dock ’n Dine Restaurant only recently began offering beer and wine with meals, and that’s it for booze on this small cay. MOW stretches two and a half miles and contains 350 residents.

The Loyalists, who moved from the U.S. during the War of Independence, founded this settlement of hard-working and dedicated boat builders. MOW, once the boat-building capital of the Bahamas, is still known for the craftsmanship that is kept alive by many of its residents. You can stop by Edwin’s Boatyard where there’s always interesting activity.

Many of the original clapboard houses still stand and the narrow streets are just wide enough for walkers and golf carts. Arrive via Albury’s Ferry or your own vessel; no airstrip here.

As with other cays and settlements in the Abacos, we’ve visited MOW several times over our six trips to the Bahamas. If you’d like photos of these places just use the Search feature. (guess I didn’t take any this visit or the prior!)

Timeline:

  • 1798: Man-O-War Cay settled and used for farming
  • 1876: First kerosene lamp
  • 1860s: Boat building started, and with it, sail making
  • 1921: Man-O-War school built
  • 1974: Electricity ran from the mainland using underwater cables- watch where you anchor!
  • 1987: Phones installed in private homes

During the settled spell which lasted more than two weeks, we anchored off Man-O-War. I think that’s where Russ first took apart the watermaker- actually the reversing valve in the Clark pump for those who want the details. The reversing valve is what makes a Spectra watermaker twice as efficient.

But no worries, we dinghied in to the dinghy dock at Man-O-War marina to enjoy lunch at Dock ‘n Dine where Ricardo says, “Please keep enjoying.” I love it. And we will!

 

 

 

Green Turtle Cay

For many cruisers who cross to the Bahamas from Florida and don’t stop to clear customs & immigration at West End (Grand Bahama) or Bimini or even the more eastern Spanish Cay, Green Turtle is the popular place to clear in if headed to the Abacos.

Just a short ferry ride from the mainland (Great Abaco Island), Green Turtle is one of the earliest settlements in Abaco. With pirate, African, and Loyalist roots, and with ties to its sister city Key West, Green Turtle was once the largest settlement in Abaco. A dwindling population of approximately 500 residents doesn’t stop the cay from hosting many celebrations throughout the year.

Timeline:

  • 1718: Pirate Charles Vane (see Black Sails on Netflix) fled Nassau and hid out on GTC
  • 1828: Migration to Key West began (not sure why, but they sure chose well)
  • 1899: Sisal production was the most important industry (and very labor intensive)
  • 1948: Bahamas Airways began service using seaplanes
  • 1954: electricity arrives!
  • 1977: Green Turtle Cay named the Sister City of Key West

We’ve stopped here many times before on our way into the Abacos or out. Always a welcoming stop, with several well stocked grocery stores, eateries, historic sites and beaches; not to mention the well-known Green Turtle Club and Bluff House.

Recent visits have been at Donny’s Marina in Black Sound (yes, as opposed to White Sound), where Donny offers moorings and dockage.

We arrived (as is usual for us) ahead of a cold front, because that’s often when conditions are mild. Russ went ashore to the pink rectangular gov’t building to clear customs but the official had left early so, well, it’s the Bahamas mon.

Friday, the next day, he tried again. Paperwork complete ahead of time. The customs official was usually stationed at the Treasure Cay airport so not only wasn’t he familiar with boat clearing in, but the building got locked by mistake so those checking in had to sit on the porch, in the wind, papers blowing about. Russ even had to tell the man how much we owed- boy $50 would be a perfect amount- but we paid the $150 for our boat size.

The front arrived that afternoon with a vengeance. Feel it, see it, hear it.

Line to us and one to sailboat rafted to another at the dock, to keep us off the dock a bit.

The large sail cat on the dock opposite us had a line tied to a dock cleat- bad idea.

Russ braves wind and rain to secure bow line of boat that broke off a dock cleat

I am always happy to be the warm and dry photographer!

Donny comes out to assist and claim his dock cleat- held in right hand

Wind and rain let up eventually and we walked through town, purchased our annual Bahamian calendar then walked the beach.

Pretty blue sky the day after- or maybe two.

When we depart it’s on to… well that depends on the weather!

Abacos: 12/7/17 – 1/6/18

Tahiti Beach- not much beach exposed at high tide

Surprise! We are crossing sooner than later. Not exactly music to my ears, but not sour notes either. One minute it looked like we had a week until the right conditions, and the next- bam- how about Thurs, 3 days from now? That fickle weather thing. The approaching cold front was going to stall and allow us a two-day window to travel 170nm from our marina base to Green Turtle Cay, Abaco where we’d clear in and wait out the front.

We didn’t have to take this window but it looked good and since we had a rental car for Tues & Wed for final provisioning, it was doable. If we weren’t so experienced with the prep process, this rush would have been a bad idea, but this is our 6th crossing. 🙂

As you can see from the title, I’d planned on one long post for our time here before our esteemed guests arrived Jan 6. Then we picked up the latest Destination Abaco (free glossy tourist booklet) and the past quarter’s Abaco Life mini magazine. We always glean an interesting fact or two about Abaco history and/or local residents/happenings.

What I’ll do is share some history (taken from the above mentioned booklets) about Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Marsh Harbor and Hope Town in a few separate posts and include any worthy photos taken while we were there. Treasure was on our stop list but we didn’t make it there this time.

With a month to bounce around the Abacos; we hoped to spend time at all our favorite places and we did!  The weather cooperated much better than one would expect, even for December, with long stretches of settled conditions that included NO rain and NO wind over 12kts and many days of “light & variable”- my absolute favorite forecast.

Our bouncing went like this: Green Turtle to Hope Town to Man o’ War, to Marsh, to Tahiti Beach, to off Firefly, down to Little Harbor, back up to Marsh Harbor, over to Hope Town and back to Marsh for our marina reservation starting Jan 3.

Our Spectra watermaker gave us some grief early on because when you don’t make water (just flushing every few days isn’t the same) for a couple of months, and then you do- well stuff happens- or in our case- it didn’t happen! Russ resolved the problem without nearly killing himself as he did last December and Spectra has sent parts to our son who will play delivery guy.

Our (one and only) toilet has this solenoid thing that makes the fresh flushing water operate- or not. 🙂 Of course we have a spare and that has become the new operating part but not a perfect one, so the company has sent another to guess who? 😉 Now we have, if I may quote our dear one, “all the amenities!  … the five-star experience you can expect aboard Twin Sisters!” Russ & I both cracked up laughing at that. Here we thought we just had the essentials!

Hopefully that does it for boat troubles, but we still have months to go and you know how stuff comes in threes- we have two so far. Stay tuned my friends- I’ve been too long without posting!

 

Fort Pierce- A bit of everything

Ah, a sparkling day on the ICW

Hello again!

I’m going to devote precious little space to what it took for us to establish ourselves as Florida residents, with a new mailing address, new local bank, new storage place, new drivers licenses, register and title the dinghy, register to vote, apply for Florida healthcare and then add, change and delete all that one must when you have a new address. Russ deserves a gold medal for his patient, tireless efforts and for putting up with my exasperated discourse every time things went awry; oh and you know they zigged when we wanted zag, changed plans on the fly and lord, I am so, so glad it’s done.

Even getting our Enterprise rental car on Nov 15 so we could get to DMV, dentist, etc, had him gone one solid hour and the place was less than a mile away from the marina!!  If you need to know more, I’ve added a page (tab) for the topic.

We arrived at FPCM a few days early which meant we could check out the well-known and extensive Farmers’ Market.

2017 is Year 21

Sunny, breezy and delightful. Live music too. Every Saturday and a much smaller one Wednesday afternoons.

Marina in the background- great location!

 

So colorful

 

The crafters’ section- about three times what you see here.

DMV or not? We opted for what may look like a DMV office but is in fact the county tax collector’s office. Everything is much larger here in Florida compared to Connecticut.

We had # 541, not a long wait from #537

This place is in Vero Beach. Been in an old neighborhood for many years.

Donuts- yes we managed to work in plenty of those. Donut Circus in Fort Pierce was the best- not super fancy but fresh and how can you beat $4.21 for 6? plus we often got a 7th included for free. 🙂  The local law enforcement could be found there too, only they tried to go incognito. Got a tip about Jupiter Donuts in Stuart but never got that far.

Oh look, am I not so very attractive??

Egrets- ah they kept me busy one morning. You get the idea.

Not giving up!

Flew on Spirit Airlines from Orlando to Windsor Locks, CT. Spirit is no frills and their version of First Class is four seats in the first row. We took two to keep Russ and his long legs comfortable for the 3-hour non-stop flight.

The Marriott Springhill Suites was pricey but only a very short walk to the Uhaul pickup location. We opted for Hotels.com, so as to get some good deals for all our hotel nights this trip.

Spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday carefully loading the Uhaul, then turned in our keys and bid farewell to our storage unit of seven years. Felt like early Christmas as I peeked into boxes and the drawers of my linen press; first glimpse of the contents since packing up in 2010.

Done and packed so nothing should move

Enjoyed a happy family Thanksgiving in Ivoryton, CT. Benj drove down and we got to spend a few extra hours with him on Friday before we needed to start the long drive back to Florida.

An apres shopping warm bevvie and dessert at Dagmar’s. Father and son I’d say

 

He has my lovely teeth! And the Rackliffe curly hair. He also travels to some cool places 🙂

There’s no avoiding I-95, but we wanted to avoid tolls as much as possible and the Cross Bronx Expressway leading to the GW.  Our EZPass could not be used on the Uhaul and we couldn’t know which toll plazas still had a cash lane or were electronic only.  And as you may guess, we wanted to drive over the new Tappan Zee Bridge and make sure that final span was properly in place. 🙂

Tappan Zee Bridge- the new one

 

No missing spans here! Glad they got it in place between Sept and now

Traveling, flying and driving can be stressful, but if you have a nice room and a king bed to fall into, how great is that? You all may be spoiled but we sleep in a cave-like space just this side of Queen. And by that I mean “down” side.

Yippee another King bed!

Two and a half days after leaving Connecticut we arrived back at the marina without incident; just a few traffic backups on Sunday. Gotta love Google Maps for driving.

Monday we got back into the heavy lifting and managed to get 95% packed into the new unit.

The hard part is done: setting up the table for the boxes on left, and carrying in and nestling the other table pieces

The St Lucie County Christmas parade took place a snowball’s throw from the marina. Talk about weird- not cold, no snow and hot beverages to warm you up. Still, was festive and I got to wear what minimal warm weather Christmas-y things I have.

Christmas parade and tree lighting afterward

What’s a Florida parade without a boat or two?

The park where the weekly market takes place has all these tall palms and not long after arriving here we watched the county workers wrap lights around the trunks. Each tree had some sort of small box as part of the light strands. Then the day came for the parade and tree lighting- Dec 2 and we watched the palm tree light show as the colors changed, often rapidly, in keeping with the music.

The palms in the park at the marina are lit with special lights that change color with the notes of the song. This year seems to be Mannheim Steamroller. Excellent choice!

May you all be blessed with the joy, love and peace of the holiday season. Wishing you superb health and happiness in the New Year!