Vacation frustration

We came back early from our sailing trip. I’m finally starting to get over the frustration and disappointment of our latest adventure.

I guess it started before we even left. Little things. Arabella’s car had a driver’s side window that went off track and was stuck all the way down. That happened the night before we got 4 inches of rain and we found out about it after it had been raining for most of the day. We had a pool pump that kept flipping the breaker. Dan switched out the breaker. After that the pool pump worked but the boiler kept erroring out. My husband was concerned there could be a gas leak. So we called the heating/cooling guys out before we left. I threw on my clothes from the night before but I was scrambling because I wanted to wash them before we left. So after I thought I was done talking to them I put my robe back on and threw my clothes in the wash. I frantically threw enough clothes for a week in my suitcase as the heating guys told me there wasn’t a gas leak while I was standing around in my robe. Why didn’t they tell my husband this?

Meanwhile, he was on the phone with the group of sailors we were planning on crossing Lake Michigan with. We decided to delay the trip by one day due to weather. I was rushing as fast as I could only to halt in my tracks finding out the rest of the day I no longer had any plans. I felt angry and frustrated. But, hey, at least we didn’t have a gas leak.

The weather was balmy hot. It was unpredictable, volatile, and unsettling. We watched the news late that night and the news forecast called for a chance of severe weather all the next day. We didn’t know if we would even be able to make it to Sturgeon Bay, the meeting place for all the sailors before departing for the cruise the following day. We went to bed feeling anxious. We would have to try to leave early again the next morning but we had a lot to do before leaving. Meanwhile my daughter Arabella told me she went to the doctor because she had a UTI.

The next morning Angel wasn’t feeling good either, a head cold or tonsillitis possibly. We left as early as we could though and made it to Sturgeon Bay in our sailboat with an hour to spare before the severe weather hit. I was a nervous wreck. There were tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings all over the place. I was more worried about the kids at home than I was about being on a boat. Angel said the tornado sirens were going off and the skies were as dark as night during the day. To make matters worse, Arabella started throwing up and went to the ER thinking maybe she had a kidney infection. We also had a business emergency where an accident happened and a piece of equipment got broken.

But the plan still was to cross Lake Michigan the next morning between 5 and 6 AM. The trip across was going to take somewhere around 12 hours and we would be out of cell coverage a big portion of it. It was a horrible night but we were still dedicated to making the trip because Angel was taking care of things at home. Nothing seemed life threatening. The ER did a lot of tests that didn’t find anything wrong and that Arabella should just keep taking her antibiotics as prescribed. We couldn’t tap out easily because we had 3 passengers on our boat. Some of them had to take vacation days for this trip. Plus we were excited to go because none of us has crossed the big lake before.

I had a restless night’s sleep only to be awakened at 4:50 AM by a knock on our boat. There was a problem. The weather radio predicted 8ft waves the last portion of our trip. We decided not to cross that day and head up to Washington Island, then cross the following day. We sailed up Door County lake side and the waters were rough even close to shore.

When we got to the marina I received a call from my daughter saying that Arabella had to go back to the ER. She was really sick and throwing up. I was furious. Everyone was relaxing and having a few drinks so I decided to take a walk. I was angry with God. Why can’t we just get away for a few days and have respite from the stress? I was plotting how to get back home. Maybe I could hitch a ride with someone leaving the island on the car ferry. Then Paul and the rest of the crew could go on as planned without me. Later that evening the group got together for supper and planned the following day. It was there I got the text that Arabella tested positive for COVID. Again, I was angry. She finally got tested for COVID the third day she went in. They gave her an X-ray, CT scan, pelvic exam, STD tests, strep test, blood work, urine test BEFORE they thought to test her for COVID. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with those people??

So here my daughter is at home really sick with COVID even though she is 18 and fully vaccinated. They scheduled an antibody infusion for the next day. If that didn’t work she was going to have to be hospitalized. I was a wreck. We told the passengers on our boat and the people we were travelling with. Everyone was understanding even though there was a chance that through us they could be exposed. Some offered rides home if needed. The weather for the following day didn’t look great to cross the lake so everyone tapped out and we decided to start heading back towards home.

I slept horribly the whole night. I tossed and turned. I woke up cold and shivering. Was everyone cold that night? Or was I getting sick? Was that just a tickle in my throat? A sniffle in my nose? What if we had to sail rough waters sick? I had nightmares all night that I had COVID but awoke the next morning tired but feeling alright. We spent the next night in a marina. The following day we anchored out at an island. Although the shore was rocky and hard to walk on, we wanted to spend the night because it was simply beautiful. Maybe we could still save this trip after all. The infusion worked wonderfully and Arabella was feeling a lot better. Then we started worrying about going home and getting exposed since neither Paul nor I have had COVID yet.

We were looking forward to spending the night anchored out at the island but Paul said it was no good. It was going to be too windy so we headed back to our marina. Meanwhile, Paul and I were arguing. It was too stressful. I never wanted to go sailing again. I thought we were going to cross the big lake. I thought things would be good at home for a few days. I thought work would be okay without us. Boy was I wrong! I was so disappointed. I think we all were. Then when we were almost back to our home port we came across a smoking power boat. We thought they were on fire. We quickly grabbed whatever fire extinguisher we could find but I guess they were okay. One of their engines blew out. It was rather terrifying though to think we might have to do a water rescue. Or maybe the boat would blow up.

Then we came home to face COVID. I really hope this next week goes a lot better!

Gratitude week 72

  1. Arabella came home from residential.
  2. Arabella already has a job interview for today to work as a bartender. It’s a great time to be looking for a job because everyone is so desperate for employees they may overlook her inexperience. **Since the first draft, she was offered a job in the bakery which she does have experience with. But she does have another job opportunity on the line so we’ll see what happens.**
  3. I can’t believe the day has come that all of my children are now adults as Arabella turned 18 over the weekend. I’m learning to let go. It can be rather freeing.
  4. The light switch turned on and it is finally summer around here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it is warm enough for shorts. That is what I like about living in a climate with harsh winters, summer seems so wonderful.
  5. The boats are in the water. It feels good that the boating season is starting.
  6. We rearranged furniture yesterday and now my daughter Angel’s bedroom is downstairs and we have an office upstairs. We have been arranging things the last couple months and everything is finally starting to come together the way I like it. Angel will be happier too since it has been incredibly hard for her to find a house to buy or rent. She may be living with us a lot longer than she planned with the market the way it is. I don’t mind though…
  7. All my kids are living on my property (my son lives in the mother-in-law suite apartment in the detached garage). It’s nice to have everyone together again. Plus my mom is living here which is going smoother. I almost have a sense of family.
  8. I had almost 4 hours of therapy on one day last week. I think I am officially fixed (at least I can think that anyway).
  9. I met my friend Jen out for lunch last week. It was refreshing to get together with a friend I haven’t seen for awhile.
  10. I am writing this from my new office that faces the road with freshly blooming flowers and trees outside my window.

NOLA

We drove across a bridge for a half an hour and entered a whole new world called New Orleans. We saw many different things we don’t see at home like houses on stilts, moss covered trees, and interesting looking boats. I remember feeling a certain kind of melancholy, a homesickness of sorts, that happens when I’ve reached a place far from home. It’s hard to believe that I never left my country.

The city of New Orleans itself was bustling, busy, and congested loop of bridges and old style European houses. To be honest, the city made me feel rather trapped. All the houses were so close together. Plus there were so many people. (Although everyone was saying how dead the city was because of COVID). We stayed at an AirBnB in the French Quarter. It was a good place for adventure. The place we stayed was over a hundred years old.

The entrance of our apartment.

We unlocked the gated door after parking in the fenced in driveway. I’m not used to gates for doors.

The yard also hosted a grapefruit tree which Paul and I went round and round upon. Was it an orange tree? Or a lemon? Paul finally asked the owners and they told him to help himself. He said it was the best grapefruit he ever ate.

The city was also very pet friendly. A lot of people walked with dogs and there were cats everywhere. Several people had signs to not feed the animals. One of those signs was at our AirBnB.

We even got a wake up call from a cat in the morning which was the only thing that reminded me of home.

When we arrived in the city, we had our hottest day of the trip which was 75 degrees. It was incredibly humid but felt different than our high humidity days at home which doesn’t even make sense. By the time we left the high temps were in the mid 50’s.

We spent a lot of time walking around the French Quarter. We checked out quite a few shops and bought souvenirs for the kids. We even checked out a shop that sold Mardi Gras type costumes. I would’ve loved to have bought one, but they were quite expensive and people would look at me as if I totally lost my mind if I dressed that way at home. I did buy some beads with rubber duckies on them which were super cute. People in New Orleans dressed with such flair.

We spent a good chunk of time walking on Bourbon St. Since we were one of the few tourists, we got targeted more often by beggars and scam artists. We had about 3 people ask us a day where we got our shoes. They bet if they guess right, you have to give them money and they get mad if you don’t. Then they tell you that you got your shoes on Bourbon St. Thankfully I heard about the scam online before we left.

I did have a guy put beads around my neck and ask for money. We did give him a couple bucks and I also gave him my leftover food which was appreciated.

Just keep walking…

Bourbon St. was creepy at night. But it was the most happening street with restaurants and live music outside. What really really bothered me is that we got approached at night by young kids asking for money. We were approached first by two pre-teen girls, then a little later by little boys alone. They had to be anywhere between 8 to 10 years old. I couldn’t imagine the life of those children or the things that probably do or could happen to them out in the streets. Personally I would not feel safe alone there at night.

Paul really loved the food in New Orleans. Almost every night he ate raw oysters. We tried different Cajun and Creole dishes and ate po’ boys and gumbo. I liked the fried alligator. It tasted like chicken.

One of the major problems of the city was that bathrooms were hard to come by. I saw several people unzip and pull up to the wall in broad daylight. The city has serious drug and alcohol problems which I guess probably isn’t unusual for a big city. We got offered edibles countless times. We saw a man having an angry conversation with himself. We saw another too drunk to stand although he was trying. We came across a scene where someone on a bike had a close call with a car. The lady was screaming expletives at the man holding up traffic. It was a great place to visit, but I would never want to live there.

We walked around Jackson Square and walked inside of the oldest continuous Catholic church in the USA. It was very beautiful and ornate as expected. One thing I wasn’t expecting was that there were fortune tellers right outside of the church. I didn’t understand it because in my mind they blatantly didn’t belong there. It was like accepting a one way ticket straight to hell and I’m not even Catholic.

We were hoping to take a paddle wheeler ride but the day we were hoping to go it was very windy with a high of 55. For some reason they cancelled the tours for that day so we went to the aquarium instead.

By far our favorite thing to do near New Orleans was to go on the Airboat Adventures tour in Lafitte. Thankfully we were able to see some alligators in the wild. Apparently the tour the day before did not have any alligator sightings.

Without wildlife it was absolutely stunning too.
The mossy trees which are homes for spiders and snakes plus can hide a few alligators.
I thought this bad boy was going to crawl up into the boat.

One of the other things we enjoyed was visiting the Oak Alley Plantation. This was a sugar cane plantation with hundreds of slaves. We saw the slave quarters. It’s really hard to think that people were forced to do such brutal work in the heat with inadequate food and housing. We got a tour of the plantation house which was rather awkward. The tour guide was a black man and three other black people were on the tour with Paul and I. I felt horrible sadness for the way black people were treated as slaves. There even was a job for a child slave to pull a rope for the fan over the massive table. I couldn’t imagine a child having to do that. Sometimes history isn’t pretty.

The trees in front of the plantation house are several hundred years old and were planted when they were adult trees to show off the wealth of the owners. The trees created good air flow in the summer for the huge house.

Oak Alley Plantation

One of the other things I really enjoyed doing in NOLA was taking a cemetery walk. Unfortunately I didn’t realize the cemetery was closed for renovations before I bought the tickets. I was hoping to spend all of our time in the cemetery on the tour because it was so fascinating. Instead we walked outside the closed gates and spent the rest of the tour looking at mansions of the rich and famous in the Garden District.

All of the cemeteries we saw in New Orleans and surrounding areas had raised tombs because of hurricanes and flooding. I wondered how it all worked because there seemed to be a lot more people that lived in the city than tombs. What I found out was that more than one person can be buried in the tomb. When someone dies they put the body in a casket in the tomb. After a year or two the bones are removed, placed in the back, and it is ready for the next person. Hopefully there is not a plague or pandemic where multiple people need to use the tomb at once. The tomb can be used for multiple generations of family or sometimes clubs get together and purchase a tomb for burial of its members.

Sometimes the tombs are abandoned or fall into disrepair. We purchased the tour through Save Our Cemeteries which uses most of the money from tours to upkeep tombs. They go through great lengths to try to find the owners of the tombs, but if it is found to be abandoned the tombs can be sold. From what I gather, a lot of people choose cremation.

I wasn’t planning on ending this post with death and despair, but here we are. New Orleans is a great city to visit, but again I wouldn’t want to live there.

Day 3: Washington Island

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The storms parted around us and we arrived late afternoon in paradise. The marina in Jackson Harbor on Washington Island was small, rustic, and quaint. I was taken back in time to the 1980’s without the big hair.

There wasn’t a big boater’s lounge here. In fact, there wasn’t a boater’s lounge at all. The weather channel was not blasting on a big screen TV. There wasn’t coffee and magazines set out to enjoy. There weren’t any showers or bathrooms besides the pit toilets down the road. There wasn’t a wifi password and most of our group didn’t even have a cell signal.We weren’t constantly bombarded with several forms of media. I didn’t even find out what my facebook friends ate for breakfast.

It gave a sense of seclusion. It took me back to the pleasures of simpler times like having an uninterrupted conversation and being content to watch the sunset.

Instead of modern conveniences, this marina offered amenities such as peace and tranquility. I thought it would be the perfect place for our vow renewal ceremony, except for the no shower part.

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The marina was also the home of old cars and boats. Next to the marina was an area where old cars were parked for a monthly charge. I saw many cars that reminded me of my childhood. I saw an old station wagon like the one my aunt drove. I saw more old cars than newer models which also gave the feeling of nostalgia for times past. I didn’t realize how much I missed the quiet.

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I also took some pictures of the old fishing boats. Shortly after, a man left on this boat to go fishing. He probably thought I was a bit crazy for taking pictures of his fishing boat with all of the beautiful sailboats around me.

City folks come up north to take pictures of trees and country folks go down to Chicago to take pictures of skyscrapers. How easily we tend to become immune to the beauty of our everyday environment…

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There was a feeling on the island of getting away from it all. Getting away from the noise. Getting away from the money, crowds, and big boats. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of tourists.

There was a small cafe and a concession stand on the island with limited hours. There was also a museum of some sort that we didn’t have the opportunity to walk through.

It was my favorite marina by far.

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From the marina we saw this small building. We had to walk across a bridge to get there. The door was unlocked so curiosity got the best of us and we opened it one night. Inside there was a small ice packaging display. Some of the tools looked like they belonged in the closet of some of our states serial killers. But we won’t talk about that today.

We stayed in this paradise for two nights until the wind pushed us in a different direction.

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From Jackson Harbor we were able to view Rock Island. There are no cars on Rock Island. It contains some historical buildings, hike in campsites, a lighthouse, and a sandy beach.

This was the place where I wanted the ceremony, but stormy weather was headed our way.

The accidental overnight sail

I originally posted this when I first started blogging two years ago…the mishap we had this week sailing was partially due to our adventures a few years back when we originally weakened the pin to the rudder…Enjoy! We sure did…many years later.

Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind.

It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark.

In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents down my legs onto my new water shoes.

Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no.

Now it was dusk and we were lost.

The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died.

To make matters worse, we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out.

When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm.

One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight.

My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!!

In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore.

We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day.

What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, food, and bought an additional battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail.

We probably should’ve just thrown out an anchor for the night. But what fun would there be in that??

Sea sick

I spent the whole weekend on the water. Sailing by day and fishing by night. My body is swaying to an unheard unsteady beat. I feel sea sick. It is slowly going away.

Saturday morning, Paul and I took my mom sailing for her birthday. Not just my mom, but a whole fleet of boats followed us to a local festival. We also took our daughter Arabella, my sister-in-law Carla, and my autistic brother Matt. Carla and Matt never sailed before.

The trip went better than expected. Matt did really well on the boat, better than Carla who spent a lot of time complaining about how hot she was. It took us a long time to eat lunch with our big group. By the time we finished, there was only an hour left of the festival. We were downhearted about having to pay full price until they decided to let us all in for free.

Paul, Arabella, and I stayed overnight at the marina in town alongside our friend Harv. Harv wanted someone to sail back with him in the morning. Harv is in his mid-80’s. We discussed what to do in an emergency. I piped in that I would probably freak out and never want to go sailing again. It was decided that Arabella would sail back with Harv. They had a great time playing cards together while the auto pilot sailed them home with Paul and I beside them.

I was dead tired when I got home. A few hours after I got home, I received a call from Ted and Cindy who wanted to take me salmon fishing for the first time. They asked a couple of times this year and last year, but I was never able to go last minute. Paul has hell week at the theater, so I decided to go without him.

The three of us left yesterday evening to salmon fish on Lake Michigan. After we got past the breakwater, Ted opened the motor on his boat and we were flying across the waves. I have never been on a boat that fast. It was exhilarating. I was not afraid even when we were in 100 feet of water. Ted cast the lines in the water. The down riggers made a melodic humming noise in the water. It was very peaceful.

Then we waited. We saw fish on the fish finder, but they were not biting. Ted gave me pointers on how to reel in a big salmon. Cindy showed me her big box of lures. Ted marked spots where he saw schools of fish. It seemed like we went in circles all night. We danced around other boats. We saw the lights go on in the towns nearby. The lake became quiet and dark. It was very beautiful. I was cold. Still no bites.

The other boats filled with men left the water. I didn’t see any other women fishing. Still no bites. I could tell that Ted was upset. They wondered why the fish weren’t biting. They looked at me. I hoped they weren’t going to throw me overboard. Maybe I was bad luck. They worried that I was bored and would never come back again. The lake grew dark. The other boats left. No bites. No bites. I was not afraid. Even in 100 feet. Even in the dark.

I was starting to feel sleepy. Ted pulled out the fishing poles. Cindy steered the boat. I put away the glow in the dark lures. I put one away and several others stuck to my clothing. I wanted to be helpful but didn’t know what else to do. Ted opened the motor on the way back in the dark. I was a little afraid of what I couldn’t see. I felt like I was driving with my eyes closed.

We got back after midnight. I almost fell down the steps when I got home. The room was swaying. The steps seemed to move.  This morning I felt hungover. I had a headache. My stomach felt queasy. It was hard to eat. The room moved. I wanted it to stop. My body wanted to fight the feeling.

Paul has been talking about sailing the loop. Retiring on the sea. Getting a bigger boat. Cruising the Caribbean. Sailing to Tahiti. All I want right now is for the room to stop spinning.

Cabin chaos, part 4

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A couple of years back, Paul wanted to learn more about sailing. He signed up for a beginner’s sailing class. At the end of the class, the instructor suggested that the students buy a small sailboat to practice sailing. That is exactly what Paul did. He bought a 1960’s model 12 ft Puffer, complete with retro life jackets.

At the time, the sailboat seemed big. We took this boat up north and learned everything that we could on it. Since we bought a sailboat twice the size the following year, this boat looks so tiny. Now we keep this sailboat up north year round.

There were a few things that happened up north with the sailboat that were a little scary at the time. Now it makes for a humorous story.

We were up north for an unseasonably warm weekend in late September when Paul and Arabella decided to go for a sail. My mom was the one that alerted me of danger. A wind gust caught the small boat and tipped it over. Paul and Arabella were treading in cool deep water.

I couldn’t see them because the boat was blocking my view of them at first. I was worried that Paul got knocked out somehow. I feared that they were drowning or freezing to death. I tend to go through all of the worst case scenarios in my head. 

Paul said that they seemed to fall in slow motion. The biggest danger that they faced was losing the center board which he later secured.

I sent Angel and Alex out on a rescue mission in a paddle boat. I know what you are thinking. Really, a paddle boat?? Did that take a couple of months, or what? We didn’t have any other boats to send out. 

Meanwhile, under the stress of the rescue mission, Angel and Alex started fighting. I watched as my oldest two children started yelling, screaming, and swearing at each other over who had control of the paddle boat. The fighting escalated into pushing and shoving. Next thing I know, Angel was pushed overboard. Eventually, Angel and Arabella swam to shore and walked back to the cabin. I am glad we made sure that all of our kids are strong swimmers.

Paul and Alex struggled to bring the wayward boat back to shore. No lasting damage was done.

Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of that!

 

The travel diaries, St. Lucia part 1

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For our 15th wedding anniversary, Paul and I took a trip to the caribbean island of St. Lucia. It is the most beautiful place that I have ever been. I decided to break this into 2 parts simply because I had a hard time narrowing down the pictures that I wanted to post. Our friends Tom and Lisa also accompanied us on this trip.

We stayed at the Sandals Halcyon resort, one of three Sandals resorts on the island. My favorite resort, however, is the Sandals Grand St. Lucian. It was very large and had by far the best beach. The location was absolutely lovely (more on that tomorrow). Unfortunately, we had a room very close to the bar. It was where all of the hustle and bustle was and was loud at night. I would recommend asking for a quiet room. The beach was very small at the resort and flooded with vendors. I must have bought at least 3 bracelets before the trip was through. There was a dirty man that sold aloe vera on the beach too, rubbing it on the backs of guests for a small fee.

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While we were there, we booked a excursion with Joes Knows to see the Pitons and a volcano tour. We went with our friends and a couple of other people we didn’t know. The tour guides were top notch. They brought out the rum punch first thing. They cranked the party music and we were off. Our first stop was the Pitons. Above is a picture of us with the Pitons in the background. The tour guides said that the water is as deep as the mountains are high. We went snorkeling in the water near the Pitons. The water was very clear to see the tropical fish.

Then we stopped close to a bat cave. It was more of a crevice full of squeaking bats. We saw a resort that didn’t have any outer walls taking the open concept to new extremes. It was a very expensive place to stay. We saw celebrity homes. When we got closer to shore we saw young teens diving off of a cliff like they were performing for us. The tour guides said to not give them money even though they begged because they were school drop outs.

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There really was not that much to see at the volcano as I thought there would be. It was just a big mass of yellow steaming sulfer. Then we walked down the stairs and waited in a short line by a muddy river. We were instructed to paint each other with the mud from the river for pictures. After we finished, we sat with our friends in a dirty mud bath that was hotter than a hot tub. It was very relaxing. I would suggest wearing an older suit that you can throw out afterwards. The sulfer smell lingers in your suit for awhile.

After the calming hot mud bath, we toured a waterfall. We plunged into the cool refreshing waist deep water. Then took an ice cold shower in the waterfall. The hot mud bath and cold refreshing waterfall was therapeutic, similar to a day spent at the spa.

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On the way back to the resort, we stopped at a location where the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. I want to say it was called Lady Slipper. If you look closely you can see a high heel shoe in the rock formation. The guides said we could take a break and jump into the water. So that is what we did. The water was remarkably clear giving us the ability to see everything.

The water is so deep in St. Lucia that it is a great location for large vessels. We saw many sailboats and even a large cruise ship in the harbor. It was in St. Lucia that Paul sailed his first sailboat, a little Hobie Cat.

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Back at the resort, one night Paul decided to go to bed early. I always wanted to check jumping into a pool in formal attire off of my bucket list. So that is exactly what Lisa and I did. Tom took pictures, then we came up with a plan to have me talk it up and them to pretend that it didn’t happen until we saw the pictures at home.

There were many things to do at the resort. One evening we were entertained by a local steel drum band. I enjoyed the Piton beer and a special blender drink that I had a hard time replicating at home. We met some wild Canadians that didn’t seem to know what to do in sunlight and warm weather. The guy carried around a boombox on his shoulder that constantly played Fat Bottom Girls.

At night, we sat around the fire. The funny thing was that we met a lot of new people that were all Wisconsinites. We sat around commiserating about the winter weather that we had to return to. It was strange to be somewhere foreign but feel completely at home surrounded by people from our culture. There was also a large group of cats that roamed freely around the resort. Rumor has it that a Wisconsinite saw a large rat like creature in the trees that the cats ate. Who knows? All I know was that I liked seeing them there. After seeing what looked like a cat of mine that passed away, I thought it was cat paradise.

It sure was paradise for me.

 

The travel diaries, Pictured Rocks

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These pictures were taken at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan. The Pictured Rocks consists of 15 miles of sandstone cliffs and caves along the shores of beautiful Lake Superior.

We took a boat tour to view this wonder of creation. We stayed at our friends cabin near Munising on a kid free weekend in August. We were there during a heat wave with temps around 90 degrees. Temps in the 90’s is spectacular since the average high in August is 75 degrees, which is typically the hottest it gets all summer. The picture above almost makes it seem like a warm tropical vacation. It may feel that way on a typical day if you are wrapped in a blanket or winter clothes.

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If you look closely at the right hand of the picture above, you can see a face in the rock formation.

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Adventurers can also explore the cliffs, caves, cracks, and crevices by kayak or canoe.¬† This can be a rather extreme sport in this area because the water temperatures in summer are right around 50 degrees. On this very hot day, we did see a few people jump in the water but they didn’t stay long. I have also heard that it can be treacherous for boaters because there is a great variation in the depth of the water. If you are looking for a place to get away from the heat this summer, this is the place to go! You can be surrounded by cool water along miles and miles of sandy empty beaches. There are also breathtaking waterfalls along the hiking trails flowing forth from the rock formations.

There is so much to explore in this area that you could spend your whole summer doing it. Again, I would give high ratings to this location if you enjoy exploring nature in a tranquil, remote, and beautiful location. I would absolutely recommend this location for extreme outdoor adventurers, unless you are really into swimming. This location really rocks for geologists as well!

Keep traveling!!

 

The travel diaries, the Door County winery tour

Today I am going to talk about my wonderful home state of WI. Door County to be a little more specific which is the thumb peninsula in the hand print of our state.

Door County has several state parks, my favorite being Peninsula State Park. This park has wonderful biking trails, fishing, camping, weekend outdoor theater performances, and my favorite part is the large sandy beach. This beach is so large that you can lose track of your children when they are right in front of you (yes, I have done that). Another great state park is the Whitefish Dunes State Park which is great for picnicking. It is very scenic with its cliffs and caves which makes it a beautiful background for wedding pictures.We have been there a couple of times when they had sand castle contests. It it amazing what can be built out of sand. It has a great beach for swimming and like the name suggests there are large sand dunes. But before you pack your bags and catch the next flight out, it is winter so you should probably wait.

Door County is a wonderful place to go boating, or in our case sailing. Sturgeon Bay has a water passageway that connects the bay to Lake Michigan. Plus in the summer there are many places to shop, have a fish boil, or check out local maritime artists. It is a great place to pick apples and cherries to make pies. Grapes grow plentifully there in season. Which brings us to the topic today of the winery tour.

A few years back we decided to take a day trip with our most adventurous friends, Tom and Lisa, for their anniversary. Tom and Lisa were with us on the accidental overnight and rescue sails that I posted about earlier. We had a driver lined up and we were going to spend the day winery hopping. The evening was going to end with a meal hosted by a winery attended by a local celebrity. At the first stop, we sampled some wine and shared a bottle while enjoying live music by a woman that apparently liked Janis Joplin hits. It was great, we did a lot of laughing and a little dancing. But after we were there a short time, the music ended and it was time to move on. We went to a couple more wineries before we stopped at the last winery before our meal.

We did some more wine sampling at this last spot. Then we went outdoors where a band was set up. There were probably 50 chairs set up with about 40 patrons sitting and listening to the music. That is not what we did though. We got out there and started dancing which caused people to get up from their chairs to dance. People seemed to be having such a great time that the owner of the winery came up to us and offered us free drinks for livening up his party. Free drinks, free drinks, free drinks! We probably didn’t need anymore drinks at this point, but we had a driver….so free drinks, free drinks…..we found another couple looking for excitement and ended up inviting them to spend the rest of the evening with us. We took pictures out in the vineyards…danced, free drinks, free drinks..

Then it was time to go to our meal. When we got there, they opened the gift shop for us but no one was there to check out our purchases. Tom grabbed a couple of items, settling up his purchases later at the meal. We were into the first part of the meal when Paul, Lisa, and I decided to take a bathroom trip. It was at that time that Tom decided to find someone to pay for his purchases, except we didn’t know that. When we got back, someone took Lisa’s place. There was a beautiful 20 something year old woman sitting really close to Tom. Maybe she was sitting close because she couldn’t hear him, I don’t know. Lisa was getting upset, so upset that Paul went up to the girl and told her to leave Tom alone because he was there celebrating his anniversary with his wife. But she wouldn’t leave which caused everyone, including our new friends, to feel really uncomfortable. A heated discussion broke out at our table right as the local celebrity began to talk. It was all a horrible misunderstanding. We finally finished our meal and were ready to head home. To make matters worse, as we were leaving Lisa’s heel broke on her boot as she was coming down the stairs which caused her to miss the last few steps. She hurt herself and had to be carried out to the car.

It ended up being a long ride home.