Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

St John, USVI -- This Time By Air

January 2 - 9, 2016

Our good friends, Didi and Peter, rented a house for two weeks on St John a US Virgin Island.  The first week their son and his family were there.  The second week we were invited to join them!!!  You may have read other posts about St John being one of my favorite islands.  Well, it still is!  Didi sent an email the end of January 2015 inviting us and it took about 3 seconds for me to respond "YES, we will be there!"

We flew to St Thomas from Miami, took a taxi to Red Hook and a ferry to St John where we were picked up by our hosts and whisked away to Lime In De Coconut Resort Villa. I loved the name because I torture Brian and my grandkids by singing Lime in de Coconut over and over again.  

The house was huge and beautiful on a hillside
overlooking Chocolate Hole.  My favorite part was
the infinity pool.  We all found a place we loved: 
three in the shade and one in the sun!

A slowly healing toe forced me to keep my
foot out of the pool and ocean.  Of course,
I found a way to enjoy the water!

The bay view.

A private beach.

Our visit overlapped with the family's visit by two
days.  We loved being with Geoff, Jaimee and
 especially Andrew!  

The "kids" spent their second week on
their catamaran.  That's it in the
background as the crew came to shore
for a little beach time.   

Taking a quick stroll on the beach.

Dinner at Caneel Bay Resort.

Wild donkeys roam the island, but they seem to
prefer the landscaping at the plush Caneel Bay

Driving the perimeter of St John is a challenge!
The narrow roads constantly twist and turn
while traversing up and down the steep hills.
60% of the island is a National Park.
 No freeways.  No airports.  No marinas.
Lots of gorgeous views, beautiful beaches and
clear blue water.  

We couldn't drive by one of our favorite restaurants.
A stop at Skinny Legs is mandatory in our minds.
A little shopping and a cool beverage. 

Lets have a picnic on the beach at Hanson Bay!  

Look at that BEAUTIFUL beach!  We anchored off
shore for several weeks. Pristine-----  
Our last night was highlighted by dinner on the deck
followed by a wild game of Farkel!
We are such party animals!
On the ferry back to St Thomas.  Hoping that I'll
be back again.  Some things are just too beautiful
to say good-bye to forever!

Standing on the back of our lot.
News flash ---
We are preparing to sell Gotta Smile and move back on land!  The decision was actually made several months ago, but we are quickly acting on it now.  We arrived back in Florida on the 26th of December from Minnesota.  On the 28th and 29th we looked at houses with an agent and on the 30th we wrote a contract to build a home in the Venice area.  At the same time we began putting out feelers to sell Gotta Smile.
Of course, we are sad to end this segment of our life, but very excited about what is ahead of us!  If Gotta Smile doesn't sell by the beginning of March, we'll have one last adventure as we travel to Eleuthera for three months.  

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Family Fun in California and Minnesota

November 24 - December 27, 2015

We barely got settled in Long Boat Key and it was time to pack our bags for a flight to California.  Our daughter, Jennifer, and her family moved from St Louis to San Diego. Three days after they arrived her husband, Ian, had to leave for a month of training on the plane he will be flying in California.  We were the reinforcements to help unpack boxes, arrange belongings, do various repairs and watch the kids when Jennifer had to work.  

We fly standby, which is great 99% of the time.  Our flight choices are carefully chosen to avoid peak times and overcrowded flights.  Flying two days before a major holiday like Thanksgiving is a BIG no no!  We drove to Tampa the night before our flight and stayed in a hotel until our alarms went off at 2:30 AM.  Our goal was a 5:10 flight.  We were numbers 21 and 22 on the standby list and there were only 11 seats available.  Still, we went to the gate and waited, thinking it was hopeless.  Our only chance was -- alarms not going off and people with confirmed seats oversleeping.  The gate was closing and the gate agents did one last count.  Miracle moment:  our names are called and we are hustled down the jetway to the last two seats on the plane!

Looking down on their house from a
hiking trail.  You can see the ocean in
the distance IF you know where it is!

Thanks to a three hour time change we landed in San Diego at 10 AM feeling exhausted.  We were slightly revived by the exuberant greeting of our daughter and two grandchildren.  And, finally we would see their new house.  They were professionally packed and moved, but not unpacked.  We toured the interior of the home, but it was difficult not to focus on the 100's of boxes that obscured our view.  Yikes, our work is cut out for us! 
A couple of the beautiful G650's Jennifer will be
flying all over the world.

We had to sample the 'other' beach.
JAC is like her Grandma -- we can't get
enough of that salt water and sand!

We did manage an afternoon off to drive through
the mountains to Julian for their famous apple pie.

Admiring the fish at Scripps Aquarium kelp tank
in La Jolla.

Don't plan on getting anywhere quickly.
All 20 lanes of traffic doing the crawl from La Jolla
to San Marcos!  

It began to feel like Christmas when JAC
and I trimed the tree to surprise Jennifer.

Everyone together before the kids run off to school.

One wrong turn and we would have been in Mexico!
And, as the sign says, "No USA Return".
That seems a little harsh for making a wrong turn.

After three weeks in California, it was time for our Minnesota Christmas with Steve and his family.  We arrived to warm -- Minnesota temperatures in the 30's with only a dusting of snow. Although we were delighted; the true Minnesotans were feeling very deprived.  Besides our Christmas celebrations, we made our annual trip to Rochester's Mayo Clinic for our check-ups.  The doctor's kept telling us, "you are in great shape ---- for your age!"  Brian just celebrated his 70th and mine is only a few weeks away.  
Greeting the congregation as they arrived for church,
was this big hairy guy!  A pre-Christmas surprise. 
We felt very fortunate that Santa came
to Steve's house after Andy brought
this reindeer leg home as a trophy on
Christmas eve! 
Does everyone's Christmas morning look like this?
 No matter how many pictures I take they ALL look
 like this -- total chaos!
Everyone sit and take a deep breath so I can take a
family photo.....
Addison couldn't wait to take her
American Girl doll sledding.
And, Niko had to get busy building
with his Lego sets!
A successful Christmas -- everyone's

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

After a month of travel we were really looking forward to getting home and falling into our own bed!  December 26th we were on a plane headed for Tampa, Florida then we retrieved our car and drove to Longboat Key.  My oh my, I'm clicking my heels together, "there's no place like home!"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stuart to Long Boat Key

November 1 - 22, 2015

We arrived at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, Florida on October 31st and found many of our friends already there.  As soon as we were tied up, the fun began with long time friends and new ones.  Eight days of good times sharing past adventures and plans for the next year.    

Ruth and Steve introduced us to Crawdaddys and
Alita & the Boyz. We had such a fun evening we got
together again on Saturday for the Ft. Pierce 

famers' market. 
Former owners of a Krogen Whaleback, 
they now live on land.

Ingred and her husband, Ron, were our
first friends in Stuart ma
ny years ago.

Bob and Linda own a Krogen 48.  They shared a
dock with us in Bayport, MN for 12 years. In March
we will meet up with them in Eleuthera.
Deb and Larry are the current owners of our former
Krogen 39, Finally.  

Hottie Scotty, the Krogen Guru, keeps the
Krogen fleet moving.  On our trip to Grenada,
Brian called Scotty several times for advice on
how to complete a repair. 

We made a quick three day trip to St Louis.  Our
daughter, Jennifer, is moving to San Diego.  We
had loaned her some of our furniture.  Better to
store it in St Louis than retrieve it from California.
John and Gail did us a huge favor!  They flew from
Minnesota to Solomons and then drove our car to
Florida for us.    
40+ Krogen owners gathered for the first breakfast
of the season in Stuart.  What a great bunch!!!
A trip to the Manatee Education Center in Fort Pierce
gave us some interesting facts about these mammals.
Closely related to elephants they average 1000
pounds and 10 feet in length.
Brian and John left Stuart on Gotta Smile cutting
across the state for Long Boat Key. 
Gail and I brought the car across, spending time in
Sanibel and Siesta Key.  We met up with our guys
 every night but one when we stayed in a hotel on
When we opened our hotel room door, in the
morning, we found someone's 
underwear on our
doormat!  Humm, what did that mean? 

Professional sand sculptors competed
on Siesta Key.  We were there before
they opened the gates so we could only
see them from the back.  Still amazing!

Sanibel had 1000's of sand dollars on the beach.

        Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Once all four of us made it to Long Boat Key, we had
time for touring, shopping, beach walking and some
good food!
These peacocks run wild in a local neighborhood.
We found about a dozen as we slowly drove
the area.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Krogen Rendezvous, A Wedding and Travels Back to Florida

October 1 - 31, 2015

The Krogen Rendezvous is a yearly event that we were looking forward to attending.  We left Annapolis on August 30th and arrived in Solomons, just in time to see hurricane Joaquin turn it's full force at our exact location.  That was Thursday.  Friday we left the boat to attend a wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We doubled up on lines and fenders, strapped the dingy to the upper deck, stowed outdoor furniture and cushions and drove away in hopes that Joaquin would turn.  24 hours later our prayers were answered.  Joaquin turned out into the Atlantic and continued away from shore losing strength hour by hour.  This is our fourth close encounter with a hurricane.  And, all of them have been hundreds of miles north of the insurance companies mandated hurricane zone.  They want boats out of Florida and most of the Caribbean from June 1st to November 1st.  I think they better start watching the weather channel!        

Pre-party!  Before heading to the wedding, we had a party on Gotta
Smile for the rendezvous' early arrivals.  Now we know --
23 people can fit in the salon!    
Our good friends, Didi and Peter,
really know how to throw a wedding!
Besides fun parties for three days we
got to see Charlottesville, Virginia.  

The Farmington Country Club that was designed by
Thomas Jefferson.  Those round windows were
intended for Monticello.  We enjoyed two parties
there....lucky us!

Small world experience.....
Our friends, Jan and Steve, from California, visited us
 for three days last month.  When we came to breakfast
in Charlottesville their daughter and her family were
there.  They live in Oregon!

40+ Krogens gathered at Calvert Marina in Solomons. They ranged
from 39 feet to 58.  It's amazing to see the boats laced in place
bow to bow.  
 Five days of classes, meetings, meals and parties
 from 8:30 AM until 10 PM left us exhausted.  Meeting so many

new friends and seeing long time friends was the best part.  
Sunday morning the rendezvous ended and we
were on our way to this beautiful quiet anchorage.
What a treat to have the whole bay to ourselves! 
Look at that dirty bottom!
Not for long....

We originally met Bru and Sandy on a street corner
in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  As we chatted we
discovered that we both were traveling on Krogens.
That was 5 years ago.  They are thinking about a trip
to the Caribbean.  Of course, we gave them lots of
Ready to continue our travels with new
bottom paint and prop speed on the
propeller and bow thruster.  We stayed on
board while the work was done. They
plugged us into electricity.  We had water
 and the toilets, but NO heat.  As the night
time temperatures dropped into the 40's we
knew it was definitely time to head south.
Just a couple of weeks ago we saw
Didi and Peter at their daughter's
wedding.  We were lucky enough to
get them to ourselves for a few days
on Gotta Smile.  We originally met
them in Demopolis, Alabama as we
sat out a flood.  They were on their
beautiful Salene and we were on our
39' Krogen.  
The guys loved Norfolk with all of the military and
commercial ships.  Me?  Not so much.....
This rib is decked out with 50 caliber machine guns
 on the bow and stern.  Is that something I could pick
up at West Marine?  
We went outside for two days to make better time.
Nothing but water, water and more water and some
beautiful blue sky.
This is Fall on the intercostal.  Hurricane Joaquin dumped 25 inches
of rain in this area.  Two weeks later the water level is still five
feet above normal.  
The last time we came through here there was a ferry
that transported cars across the waterway.  Now,
there is a boat that turns and stretches from shore
to shore to become a floating bridge. 
South Carolina's sea grass looks like a field of wheat.
We were busy enjoying the pirate in front of this house
and they were loving the name of our boat.  A mutual
We treated ourselves to half a day in Charleston.  It
was wonderful to get off the boat for a few hours, visit
some of our favorite locations and walk until we
dropped.  Our first stop was our favorite restaurant,
Amen.  Those are some very happy faces!
Great history and architecture everywhere.
This stunning home is on the market for
$8.3 million!  Get in line.
Pirates to the left ------
Porpoise to our right -----
South of New Smyrna we saw 60+ porpoise plus
several manatees.  It must be mating season as
they were crazy: leaping high out of the water,
rolling with one another and swimming with us.     
I know this is a beautiful sunrise, but I do NOT like early mornings.
Traveling from Annapolis to Stuart was 1211 miles that required 16
long days each beginning at 6:30.  Luckily I'm a really good sport!  
We arrived in Stuart on Halloween
and it was wonderful.  We were so
glad to finally be at our destination
and to see so many of our friends.
Sunset Bay is our favorite marina.
Lots of Krogens and friendly faces. 
In case you can't see what is going on here --
There is a tug boat, a huge crane on a barge and a
boat that is sitting on the bottom of the waterway
with water most of the way to the roof.  Some one
is having a very bad day.
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!