Cruising with Soggy Paws
Soggy Paws is a 44' CSY Sailboat. In 2007, we set sail on a 10 year around the world cruise.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Back in Costa Rica
We had a pretty uneventful day, all things considered. No car breakdowns, no missed airplanes, etc. We did run into what looked like a big backup on I-95, but we were near an exit, so we cut over to the Turnpike and still arrived before our target time.

Checking in at American Airlines in Ft. Lauderdale was a breeze. Very nice. We got there early enough that there was no one in line.

Dave had his toothpaste and yogurt confiscated at the security check. I expected the yogurt (I tried to tell Dave), but the toothpaste??? After Dave whined a little "What am I going to do without toothpaste?", the guy let him keep one of two standard-sized tubes. Each tube was about 60% used. We couldn't figure how that was over the 2-oz limit.

They also wanted to confiscate Dave's mouthwash. He said he'd give up the mouthwash but he wanted the empty bottle (it's a nice travel-sized plastic bottle that he's had for years). So they had to escort him out of the security area so he could dump the mouthwash in the bathroom.

We don't usually carry on our 'shaving kit', but our checked luggage was so full, we put them in our backpacks. Hence Dave's indoctrination into the rules about carry on luggage.

Our plane actually left the gate early and arrived in San Jose about 20 minutes early--so early that the plane at the gate we were supposed to pull into, hadn't left yet. So we had hang out on the tarmac for a few minutes, waiting for a gate.

We breezed thru Immigration and Customs, they x-rayed our 4 huge bags and all our carry on stuff, but hardly looked at it. No questions, no duty.

After a $25 taxi ride, we were at the Fairamon Hotel, where we had made reservations before we left. This is just down the street from the well-known 'Tranquilo Backpackers' hostel. Same price, much quieter atmosphere. And the nice lady who runs the place went and purchased our bus tickets for us. It is a few blocks from the center of San Jose, near the museums, the shopping district, and the bus station.

Tomorrow we catch the 7am bus for Golfito.

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Our Bags are Packed, We are (Almost) Ready to Go

After another 7 hour road trip, this one to Hawthorne to drop our car off at my brother's house, and pick up a rental. And after hours of stressing over what goes and what stays, and how much each bag will weigh, I think we're almost done. There is no room for anything in any suitcase. They are all at 49.5 lbs. There is no room for anything else in the storage room at Nicki's house.

We just have to pack our backpacks now. I think we still have too much stuff for the backpacks. Mine is going to weigh a ton, with my computer and all the electronic gadgets we haul around. I think Dave is going to carry his computer outside his backpack.

We hit the road in the rental car no later than 9am this morning, and board the flight in Ft. Lauderdale at 2:15. By 4:15 Costa Rica time (CST?) we'll be landing in San Jose. Then at 7am the next day (31st), we board a bus for a 6 hour bus ride back to Golfito.


Sunday, December 28, 2008
We Got the Car Back!!! It Works!!

Well, $890 later, we have the Kia back. Plus, of course, the outrageous car rental, $322 for a total of 3 days. It was a nice car, the only car available in the Homestead area at 15 minutes before closing on Christmas eve. But still!!!

And we essentially got a front end overhaul on the engine (new waterpump, new thermostat, some new seals, etc). Made sense as long as they were doing $500 in labor to get to that area.

However, as we got up to speed on the Turnpike, headed back north, we noticed a bad shimmy in the car. (bad words!) I was afraid the guys at Precision Auto Tune in Homestead had somehow damaged the front end. We stopped at the Snapper Creek service plaza to have a look, and Dave found that our left front tire had broken a belt. So we had to change the tire. Fortunately we have a good spare, and were back on our way soon.

Lumpy Tire

On the way down, we called the shop and they said the car wouldn't be ready til 2pm. So we stopped off in Ft. Lauderdale and visited Sailorman and Blue Water Books. We also had a nice long phone conversation with Dave's friend Paul Furstenburg, who called us while we were in Blue Water Books.

Though we saw lots of really good books we'd like to have, our bags are already full and we can defer buying western Pacific books until next year. We already have pretty good coverage through the Galapagos, French Polynesia, and everywhere else we are going until the end of 2010, when we'll be in Hawaii and be able to get the rest of what we need.

Due to delays at the shop, and the tire change, we missed Nicki's Christmas Dinner by 5 hours. But she saved us leftovers. So we had our second Christmas Dinner last night at Nicki's. And we got to watch our family Christmas classic movies: Emmet Otter Jug Band Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

It was nice meeting Phil's family. And Nicki made a fantastic dinner.

Only 2 days til we are winging our way back to Costa Rica! Today is packing day. Tomorrow is 'drive to Hawthorne and drop the car off', and Tuesday we fly from FTL on American.


Friday, December 26, 2008
TWIC Cards Acquired
Our TWIC Mug Shots (UGH!)

One of the things on our list for this trip was to get our 'TWIC' cards. TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Cards.

Someone in the .gov realm decided that to make the ports safe, everyone who has 'real business' in a port must have a chip-encoded electronic-finger-print-protected background-checked ID card. And the US Coast Guard decided that, to put some teeth in it, any USCG-certified professional mariner MUST get this card, whether they need it or not.

Note that anyone with a 6-pack Captain's License is considered a USCG-certified professional mariner.

So even though we really do not currently need this $120 apiece ID card, we need it to keep our Captain's Licenses valid.

We talked to someone from Sea School and they advised to wail until April (the final deadline) to get it, because Sea School and probably other similar low-level licensing people are fighting it. But we couldn't wait.

So on one of our trips over to Largo to see (Dave's cousin) Bryan, we made an appointment and stopped in at the Port of Tampa to get our cards applied for. They told us it would be 4-6 weeks to get them done and we could only pick them up in Tampa. We were suprised when, only about 3 weeks later, we were notified that the cards were ready.

So we made a special trip Friday over to Tampa and back just to pick up the cards. We managed to squeeze in a turkey leftovers lunch at Bryan's too.

If you have a Captain's license and want to keep it, below is the link to the place to start. Other than the cost, it is very easy. We could have done it in Port Canaveral if we'd had the time or the foresight to schedule an appointment there.


Thursday, December 25, 2008
Car Disaster on Christmas Eve

Well, we pulled out of Marathon about 10am on the 24th, headed for 'home'. We made it past Key Largo and were on what is called by locals as the Death Stretch. It's the 18 mile portion of road between Key Largo and Homestead that used to very accident-prone.

(They have since made improvements on the road, so it's probably not called that by the Tourism Board anymore). But it killed our poor Kia. One clunk and the engine quit, out in the boonies.

Fortunately we had a Triple-A card and the tow-truck was there within about a half hour. AAA had a local auto repair facility on their list. So we called them to make sure they were still open and could diagnose the problem. Well, it was 2:45 on Christmas Eve when we pulled in in the tow truck. Everyone was anxious to get going on their Christmas holiday.

The mechanic took a quick look before they locked up, and said he thought it was the timing chain. IF (a BIG if), it didn't destroy anything when it broke, it could be repaired tomorrow. Our mechanic friend told us there's a 50/50 chance it didn't cause any additional damage. They promised to take a good look at it first thing in the morning--hope to hear the verdict fairly early tomorrow morning, so we can figure out the plan to get the car back.

We managed to secure an exhorbitantly priced rental car from the Enterprise Rent a Car place down the street, just before they closed (all the other rental places were closed or out of cars, or a $50 taxi ride away at Miami airport).

Anyway, by 3:30 we were back on the road in a nice (but expensive) car, and we actually made it to our planned dinner with Nicki and Phil in Melbourne, with 15 minutes to spare!

The simplest scenario will be that the car gets fixed by the end of the day tomorrow. We'll drive down Sat am in the rental and get it. (7 hrs R/T). If it DOESN'T get repaired, then we've got to scramble to find someone who can go get it for us after it gets repaired. We're leaving for Costa Rica Dec 30 no matter what (I think).

Just one more wrinkle in our eventful trip to the US this holiday season!


Monday, December 22, 2008
Merry Christmas

I think this will be our Christmas Card this year. There's really not much point in writing a Christmas letter, because all of you have been 'riding along' with us on a day-by-day basis. I can't think of one significant event that we haven't already posted on the blog.

We return to the boat on Dec 31. We are flying on American out of Miami, after we could not come to terms with Spirit Airlines over extending our stay. We'll be staying at the nice and inexpensive Fairamon Hotel in downtown San Jose overnight.

We plan to do a little touring around Costa Rica in January, but will have to leave the country by the end of the month (ready or not... our 3 month visa is running out then, and apparently they are not renewing tourist visas any more).

Our plan then is to head for Ecuador via Cocos Island. We hope to stop over in Cocos for a few days and dive with the sharks. Links to Cocos info here and here

We plan to spend most of next year based in Ecuador, touring inland in South America. You can find our detailed plans here:

We welcome visits from our friends, so if you've always wanted to see a little of South America, now's your chance!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Dave and Sherry


An afternoon in Key West
Historic Schooner "Western Union" off Key West

Everyone seems to think we're down here in the Keys goofing off. But we're not! We've worked really hard this past week. We have interviewed 3 realtors, 1 lawyer, 3 lawn companies, and cleaned a lot of junk out of the house. We got 'For Sale' signs painted. We have also done a lot of internet research on home values in the Keys, finished off the website, and posted links to the website in a lot of real estate locations (look for us on CraigsList and Zillow).

So Sunday afternoon, we took the afternoon off and went to Key West. We stopped off to see Dave and JoAnn's new trawler at the marina at Boca Chica Naval Air Station. It looks a lot better than the last time we saw it (just after Dave took posession of it). I could see living on a trawler eventually.

We got to Key West just in time for sunset at Mallory Pier. Boy has Key West changed! The Mallory Pier area is so upscale now, from when I was in my teens and there were still people selling marijuana brownies out of the basket of their bike. But you can now buy a $5 beer on the pier, the are public restrooms, and the crazy performers are still there.

Dominique and his Flying House Cats

We spent some time watching crazy Dominique and his Flying House Cats perform. For anyone who knows cats, this is an amazing show. Cats usually either won't do anything, or do exactly the opposite of what you tell them to. But this guy had his cats doing all kinds of neat tricks, including jumping through a flaming hoop (well, not exactly a hoop, but an old fish net with rags soaked in kerosene).

Cat Thru a Flaming Fish Net

Then we watched the 51 year old black gymnast from Jamaica.

Gymnast Jumping over Girl on Bicycle, Thru Hoop (not flaming!)

And the dog walking a tightrope. The dog would also take your dollar bill from you and drop it in the bucket. It was cute, but too far away to get a good pic at night.

And a musician who had about 20 instruments on his body. He played a flute with his mouth, a guitar with his hands, and did the drum and cymbals by moving his elbows and legs, etc.

Finally, we met Dave and JoAnn and John Viely for dinner. John's claim to fame is that he has written a very nice series of books on the rich Maritime History of Key West. We had a nice dinner at the Thai Restaurant on Green Street (Dave's favorite dinner place in Key West) and then headed out for Duval Street for a little nighttime sightseeing. Dave got this great shot of Sloppy Joe's bar on Duval Street.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008
We Delay our Return to Costa Rica for 2 Weeks

Well, we're not back in Costa Rica yet.

We made a last-minute decision to delay our return for another 2 weeks, so we could help the family sell our Dad's house in the Keys. So Dave and I are temporarily in Marathon meeting with Realtors, Lawyers, Lawn Maintenance guys, etc, trying to get the house on the market.

The house is beautiful after my brother Jimmy's construction company, Cupecoy Construction, completed a renovation. It's a shame to sell it now! But no one in the family is inclined to either live here, or take over management of the property as a rental.

Anyone looking for a great waterfront home in the Keys, with a dock, check out the website:

The website is still under construction, but should be finished within the week.

I think we'll be in Marathon through about Dec 22, and then head back to Melbourne for Christmas.

We have reservations to fly back to Costa Rica now on Dec 30.


Thursday, December 11, 2008
Nice Pic from SSCA Dinner

Left to Right: Dorothy Knight, Roger Smith, Ron Sheridan, Mike Beilan, Dave, Sue Beilan, Sherry (Thanks to Ed Marill for taking the picture)

A good time was had by all!


Sunday, November 23, 2008
Golf USNA Style
Jack, Dave, Sherry, and Jim

To round out the weekend, we went to the Cypress Wood Golf Course, a mile or so from Meg and Jack Moody's house in Winter Haven.

Mark (not shown) opted to just ride around and watch. Dave and I paired up against Jim and Jack in a 'Best Ball' competition. Dave was hot on the first 9, and we ended up several holes ahead. But then he got REAL cold, and Jim got hot. We ended up getting beat by 2 holes at the end of 18.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day on the golf course. Sunny, cool, not too windy. I love Central Florida at this time of the year!


Saturday, November 22, 2008
Plant City Pig Jam

We have been doing a lot of stuff since we got back...Madly running to and fro to doctors and West Marine and Walmarts and eBay. We were scanned, prodded, poked, analyzed, and innoculated last week. But we managed to break away for a day at the Plant City Pig Jam.

Some of Dave's Naval Academy friends were having a mini reunion in Orlando. One of the guys is a videographer for BBQTV, and was going to be at the Pig Jam filming the BBQ teams. So he told us to come on down and we could hang out in the judging area. We learned a lot about BBQ competition judging, and got to experience the 'grazing table'.

Jim Neale with the Plant City Babes

All the Way from Alvarado Texas with Custom Smoker

These Guys are SERIOUS about their BBQ


Tuesday, November 11, 2008
We had an easy trip home from Golfito.

The hardest part was catching the 5am bus in Golfito, which picked us up in front of Tierra Mar. It was a nice 'express' bus, that goes direct to San Jose. Only $12 U.S. per person, each way.

We arrived in San Jose at the bus terminal about noon, and took a $2 taxi ride to our hotel in the Amon area of downtown San Jose. We had researched hotels and our choices in San Jose were $25-80 downtown or $50-$200 out by the airport. We opted for a $28 double at Tranquilo Backpackers. It was an OK place, price and location were great, beds were OK, and it comes with a free breakfast (cook your own pancakes and free coffee), but it was kind of run down and unkempt. But we like the backpacker places in general, because they are full of young eager budget travelers, and they are a great source of information for us in our budget travel.

Dave found another hostel just up the street, only $2 more a night, but much nicer. The Fairamon Hotel. We booked ourselve in there for the return trip in December. And, a bonus, they will buy our bus tickets in advance for us, for our return trip to Golfito. The bus company will only book 8 days in advance, and we were trying to figure out how to get bus tickets without being there.

The Spirit Airlines flight was OK, except of course for all the extra add-ons... $15 for the first piece of checked luggage and $25 for the second (for each person). $15 to reserve our seats ahead of time ($10 for an aisle, $5 for a center, and $15 for a window), and $5 for a can of apple juice on board. But the plane was new and well maintained, it left and arrived on time, and the landing was good.

We were excited to see the 'Welcome to the United States of America' sign as we entered Customs. I'd love to post a picture of it here, but I almost got arrested last time trying to take a picture of that sign with my cell phone. No picture taking allowed until you've exited Customs and Immigration!

We landed at 5:20 and by 6pm we were on the road in a Budget rental car. Our first stop was the BBQ place on SR 84 near I-95. Mmmmm... full rack of BBQ ribs! Easy drive up I-95 and arriving in Satellite Beach by 10pm.

Hugs all around for Nicki and Phil, whom I'll be staying with while Dave makes a quick trip to see his aunt and cousin Bryan in Largo. I have to report for jury duty on Weds, so I have to stay in the Melbourne area for this week at least. (Lucky timing, eh?)

We're looking forward to seeing all our Melbourne area friends at the ECSA meeting on Weds night and the MYC TGIF on Friday night. And I'm especially looking forward to sailing with her old crew in the ECSA Women's Race on Sunday.


Saturday, September 06, 2008
Go Gators!

No, this doesn't have anything about traveling in Panama.

Sometimes, we revert back to old patterns (especially during college football season).

Thanks to the internet, we were able to hear the Gator Radio Network tonight and listen to the Gators beat Miami. On we were also able to monitor the play-by-play on the FSU game and get updates on the USF/UCF game.

For the purpose of football, we really wish we were back in the Rio at Catamaran Marina, where Kevin maintained about 3 satellite dishes with U.S. based programming and the NFL and NCAA game packs. We could get every game there.

Dave is really proud of the 69-0 score that FSU racked up (against West Carolina Junior College). Hopefully it's a sign of better days for FSU. They struggled painfully last year. So much so that even THIS Gator fan was feeling bad for them.

Here in Panama, the satellite dishes only bring in Latin American versions. ESPN big games are soccer, not football.


Sunday, June 22, 2008
Back on the Boat
We had an uneventful trip with Spirit Airlines. As usual, we were stressing about getting all our 'stuff' back safely and worrying about a recent change in Spirit's policy for checked luggage to Cartagena. But it was a 'no big deal' in the end.

It was a bit of a shock when the heat hit us as we stepped out of the plane. Though Florida is about the same temperature and humidity, there is a lot more/better air conditioning in Florida. The boat was closed up and very hot when we got aboard. It took hours of a/c with our small window unit to make it barely cool enough to sleep.

We can't wait to get off the dock and back out to where the breeze works for us, and we can go swimming to stay cool. But we'll be here for a few more weeks to get Dave's passport renewed at the US Consulate.

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Friday, June 20, 2008
If It's Tuesday, It Must Be...
Today's title refers to an old movie entitled "If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium", about some travelers on a 2-week tour of Europe. They could only keep track of what city they were in by looking at the date. I saw it 20... er, maybe 30 years ago, and I think of it nearly every time we travel. That's certainly the way we feel by now...

We have been gone for only 2 weeks. In 14 days we have driven over 2,000 miles, driven through 4 states, and stayed in 8 different places. (Many thanks to the friends and family we stayed with).

We made phone calls to another 50-odd friends, just to chat a little and say hi (if we didn't call you, so sorry... You can still get us on Skype (soggypaws) or on our Cartagena cell phone 011-315-367-0134).

We also went to a Melboure Yacht Club TGIF, went to a funeral, bought some land, went white water rafting, went hiking and fishing, played golf, visited the Florida State Museum, and visited Walmart (3 times!), Kmart, Target, Staples, PAFB Exchange, Office Depot, Home Depot, Circuit City, Publix, Bealls, West Marine, and 3 boat-related places in Ft. Lauderdale just yesterday.

Plus we made purchases from about 5 different online stores. We sent 3 different pieces of electronics off to be repaired.

We are doing our part for the economy! We bought a total of about 125 lbs of 'stuff'... everything from a 20-lb watermaker pump to 'extra dark chocolate' and underwear. We are also carrying back a bit of 'stuff' for the friends watching our boat (10 lbs worth of engine mounts).

We were again sitting in the hotel last night stressing over getting all the 'stuff' in our 2 big suitcases we bought at Goodwill, plus the 2 smaller ones we brought with us, without going over the 50lb per bag weight limit. Dave packed and re-packed the bags about 4 times. We finally got it all in... hopefully it will all ARRIVE with us. Three of the bags weighed exactly 50 lbs.

We had a crisis moment when I was checking Spirit Airlines regulations online and saw a restriction limiting passengers to 1 checked bag per person on the Cartagena route. We had already pre-paid for 4 bags on the return trip, and so decided not to worry about it. It turned out to be a non-event at the airport (it may be mainly aimed at passengers FROM Cartagena, due to the increased drug smuggling concerns and extra security there).

Anyway, we are really glad to be heading back 'home' (to the boat) and a slower pace of life. We plan to hang out in Colombia for another 3 weeks or so, and then head back to Panama.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Land in North Carolina Part 2
The View from Our Lot

Well, after spending a few days looking around at the options for land, our realtor (and our own independent research) convinced us that what we wanted... a good buildable lot with a killer view, close to the town of Waynesville, but with a 'remote' feeling, did not exist in the $50K range.

After John and Sandy showed us around for a few days, we really liked the Waynesville area. It has a very old North Carolina quaint downtown. But it also has a Walmart and other shopping within a reasonable distance. There is a great recreation center, golf courses, and there is all kinds of hiking and National Forest land within about a half hour's drive in any direction. And Waynesville is about a half hour's drive from Asheville, NC, where there are malls and 'culture'.

We looked at a lot of 'cheap' lots, but they were either low elevations (not the cool air we were looking for), or no view, or so unimproved it was daunting, or they were marginally improved (roads, but just a steep slope, no water, electric, septic, etc). Or they were a half hour's drive to the nearest store. The location that John and Sandy's house was in was pretty perfect (close, but not too close to town, etc), so we were really trying to find a place in that general area.

John & Sandy's House

Our realtor, Yvonne from Keller-Williams, finally dug out a listing that had expired a year ago for 1 1/4 acre with a great view at 4,000 feet (cool air!), with roads, electricity, water, a septic permit, and a leveled, filled spot of land to put a house on. Since it's a lot, it doesn't have an official address yet, but the Lat/Long is 35-26.43N 83-02.95. See location on Mapquest

It is a bit scary to plunk money down on real estate, with the economy the way it is, but it should turn out to be a good investment in the long run. Just like 'they ain't making any more waterfront', 'they ain't making any more good buildable mountaintop lots'. (or, location, location, location, as my Mother used to say). We ended up paying more than our original budget of $50K, but we think we got a fair deal, and it will be a good investment in the long run.

Though we originally were looking for land we could pull an RV into, we opted for a 'subdivision' with a few deed restrictions (including no 'temporary housing'). After seeing some of the falling-down trailers in the non-deed-restricted areas, that seemed the best compromise to protect our investment. But I'm sure if you come visit us in a motor home, you can pull in and stay for a few nights.

Don't worry, Florida friends, we're not planning on MOVING to North Carolina. Our home is still in Florida, this is just a 'someday, summer home' for the hot summer months.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008
Rafting the Upper Pigeon River
Dave and John Getting Ready to Load Up

The day before we left North Carolina, we managed to fit in a river rafting trip on the Upper Pigeon River. We used Wildwater as our 'outfitters' and had a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

The Upper Pigeon trip is only about 2 hours long, and is a good compromise between 'too tranquil' and 'too exciting'. It has one Class 4 rapid and a number of Class 3 rapids. Only one person fell out of a raft in the group of rafters that went down with us (5 rafts wtih 4-6 people per raft).

Our Guide, Travis

The Raft Behind Us on a Class 3

We had hoped for a warm and sunny day, but we ended up with kind of a misty cloudy day. The water temp is VERY COLD in the mountain stream, and a little sunshine would have been welcome. I was really worried about getting too cold.

We did get drenched on the trip, but Dave and I had snagged the optional spray jackets at Wildwater, and we stayed pretty warm and dry (at least the part that was under the jacket!). Our friend John had opted not to take a jacket, and was pretty chilled by the time we got to the bottom of the run.


Here we are 'surfing'. You go through the rapid, and then circle back around and put the bow into the waterfall. Everyone leans forward, and a skillful guide can hold the raft there for a minute or so. When we did it, our raft filled to the brim. Fortunately they are self-bailing.

Our Gang, After the Trip

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Friday, June 13, 2008
Land in North Carolina

On Tuesday we went to look at some land that some friends had found on a mountain top near Brevard, NC. We have been looking at this lot for almost 2 years (it went off and back on the market in that time period). 6 acres for $60K, and it has a stunning view.

We were talking with our cruising friends on Tackless II about splitting the cost of the lot and being able to pull motor homes in there, and eventually have 2 homesites.

But... it is about 3-4 miles in on barely-improved roads. You'd really need a 4-wheeler to be able to get in and out consistently, and it would be really difficult to get a big motor home up there. It has also been sold recently (the realtor sign is still on the lot, though).

We have been looking at some other lots, but NC is no longer 'cheap'. On Friday we plan to run around with a realtor in the Waynesville area.

Our friends John and Sandy's house is beautiful with a fantastic view and is located strategically close to the convenience of Waynesville, NC. But it wasn't in the $50K range to purchase!

They have a nice log home with a big porch along 2 sides. The 3 remaining lots in the neighborhood we can find on the MLS are in the 'over $100K' range.

Dave and I are struggling with what we really want to do. We obviously don't really need land in NC right now. But if we wait 10 years, what would it cost then???

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Thursday, June 12, 2008
Cool Mountain Air and Green Vistas

We've been having a ball in North Carolina. It is beautifully cool here right now.

Monday, we left Atlanta (my sister's house) and drove north toward Waynesville, NC. We took a few side roads and stopped and had lunch at a pretty restaurant overlooking a stream.

One place we stopped was a pottery shop (Mark of the Potter) in an old mill on a stream. Dave had to see the 'huge' trout we'd been told about.

Wednesday we went hiking on Big Creek Trail at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a nice hike on a shady, mostly level path, along a river. We went swimming in a 'pool'. (Except it was so frigid, I declined to get more than my feet wet). John took his fly rod along, and we stopped and fished for trout in the pools we found.

Yesterday, we drove 30 miles up the Blue Ridge Parkway and met some old boating/ham friends at the Pisgah Inn for lunch. Great drive, great lunch, great view. And really nice seeing Bob and Caroline, who have recently bought property nearby in Hendersonville, NC.

On Saturday we plan to go on a short whitewater rafting trip down the Pigeon River.

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Monday, June 09, 2008
In the U.S. June 5-20
Though we had planned a trip back to the States in June, it has taken an unexpected twist.

Jimmy & I in the Bahamas with a big lobster, about 1974

My 'little' brother Jimmy passed away last week, after a year of struggle against a very virulent form of Leukemia. He was only 46.

It wasn't really unexpected, in the grand view of things, but it happened a little sooner than anyone expected. Though we knew things were getting worse, a few weeks ago my daughter had visited him and said he was feeling good and talking about plans for July and August. So we didn't advance our plans any. We had planned to stop in and visit as soon as we got to the States, but didn't quite make it in time. Instead we were able to attend a Celebration of Life for Jimmy with our family and his close friends in St. Augustine.

Brothers & Sisters with Jimmy 2nd from Left

Now we are on our way to North Carolina to visit with John and Sandy from s/v Caliente. The original plan for this trip was to see North Carolina during the summertime, with the idea that some time in the future we might want to buy a small plot of land for a 'mountain retreat'.


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