Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Brian, is it true? We're home at last!

October 11 - 29, 2014

Passing time in the Miami Airport
After thirteen hectic days in Florida, we were finally flying to Grenada and home!  Our time in Florida was split between Stuart and Miami.  We still had last minute items to shop for, friends to see and a long checklist to work through.  Everything got completed, as it always does, and we left with six suitcases and two carry on bags each one crammed full.

Brian had filled out all of the custom's forms and had the receipts organized.  We were the last people to go through immigration/customs that night and I think the officer was tired.  She added up our sales slips and calculated 6% duty on everything for the boat.  There was no searching through our suitcases and no studying the forms to see if they matched the receipts.  It was quick and a relatively pain free experience.

If you are in the neighborhood.......

We stayed at the Cool Runnings Motel for three nights while we cleaned the boat and put away all of the 'stuff'.  Cool Runnings is a short walk from Spice Island boatyard, which makes it most convenient.  Plus, the staff is extremely nice.  

A new inverter was ordered before we left in June.  We thought that we would pick it up Saturday morning so Brian could install it over the week-end.  When we got to Budget Marine, the door was locked and a sign announced that they were closed for Thanksgiving.  I asked several locals what they did to celebrate their Thanksgiving.  They all said the same thing -- sleep!  I said, "what, no turkey, no stuffing, no mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie?"  They all laughed and agreed that it was a sleeping holiday.  

Randy and Michele from Nautilus stopped at the boatyard for a couple of quick visits.  We met last Spring and traveled to several of the islands together.  They are waiting for two skids to be delivered to the marina with their solar panels and 60 cartons of wine.  I'm sure there are other things, but those were the most memorable!   

Can you see how close we are to the
 pole and the other boat?  About 8 inch
clearance on either side.  A flat bed
tractor with hydraulic arms carries her
to the travel lift.  

Finally, it was Monday.  The boatyard was a very different place.  Workers were bustling from one boat to the next.  We had some repairs made to the hull while we were gone that required painting and then the entire exterior polished.  There were a few last minute touch ups before our 3:00 splash.  Gotta Smile was looking mighty fine when she was eased into the water.  
Now, transferred to the travel lift, carried
 to the water and gently lowered.

It was good to hear the engine start after sitting for four months.  All systems were working!  Only our memory had trouble restarting!  After a short cruise to the other end of Prickly Bay, the anchor was dropped. Now, we really were home! 

Look at all of those sailboat masts!  

Our first anchorage in Prickly Bay.  What a
beautiful view.....

One of our favorite marinas in The Islands.
Tuesday morning we checked into Port Louis Marina for a few days.  This required a Mediterranean docking.  We stayed here in June and experienced our first Med docking.  It wasn't pretty!  Luckily the crew is very experienced and this time we were better prepared with lines that were the proper length and plenty of fenders on both sides.  One guy buzzed around in an inflatable attaching our bow to a mooring ball and another jumped on our boat to help with the lines. We were within inches of the boat on our port, but no bumps or scrapes.  They made us look like pros!
This photo was after the owner of the
other boat pulled his a little further away.

We did take time for lunch at the local
bakery. Sitting under this huge rubber
tree, we hardly noticed the heat and

Wow, suddenly it was Wednesday and we still had so much to do!  Actually, Brian had lots to do, because I am very limited in the maintenance and repair departments.  Derrick, one of the harbor masters at Port Louis Marina, kept our frozen food for us this summer.  He delivered it early in the morning and everything was perfect.  I was very happy to see the freezer filled again.  At 3:00 a rental car was delivered for two days of sightseeing, grocery shopping and meeting John and Gail as they arrive for a month.  They have been onboard many times for equally long trips.  It will be fun to explore some new territory with them.  


Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Six Weeks of Mooching

My last post was on September 2nd -- almost 6 weeks ago!  We had just arrived in St Louis, Missouri.  Since then, we have been mooching off our kids -- mainly our daughter and her family.  We were in St Louis for five weeks!  Half way through our stay we drove to Minnesota for a week with Steve and his family.  We tried to partially earn our keep by doing minor repairs, babysitting, cooking, grocery shopping and anything else that would help out. 

It’s hard to believe that we have been away from Gotta Smile for almost 4 months.  When we left Granada on June 15th, we weren’t sure we could find enough to keep us busy for the whole summer.  It has actually turned out to be great.  We did stay with family longer than we had planned, when we got to the point where we just couldn’t live out of suitcases any longer.  That rambling trip with no itinerary and no schedule was wonderful, but we've been spoiled by traveling on our boat and carrying almost  everything we own with packing and unpacking.     

We are more than ready to get on our way.  Not that we haven’t had a good summer, but it is becoming chilly, the leaves are falling and I see winter quickly closing in on us.  On October 11th, Saturday, we flew to Florida for ten days before heading to Grenada on the 22nd.      
A chilly day in Minnesota doesn't stop Addison and Niko
from fishing and catching a few frogs.

My little nature girl jumps into the water to catch her
frog -- will he turn into a Prince?

Erin and Addison celebrate
bacon at the Minnesota State

Niko doesn't look sleepy...
Steve finishes a 10 mile trail run.

Teaching Christopher and Jacqueline to mainline aerosol whipping
cream.  Grandmas must make sure family traditions are learned by
the younger generations.  

The newest member of the swim team,
Scoping out future job opportunities.
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario

August 28 - September 2, 2014

I don't know what happened -- we made one wrong turn and here we are back in Canada!  No, not really....we were in Vermont and looked at the map.  Montreal was only 100 miles away.  Then, Ottawa was another 100 miles from Montreal.  Sitting in the Ottawa hotel room planning our next location, we hit the wall...  "Let's call Jennifer and see if we can go to St Louis NOW!" Just that quickly we decided that we couldn't live out of suitcases and eat all of our meals in restaurants any longer.  It has been a great trip.  We've seen so many beautiful places and met incredible people, but now we need to unpack, cook some meals and stay put for a few weeks (maybe a month).  So, instead of going to Toronto and Niagra Falls we took off for Detroit.  As soon as we entered the USA, I called my brother to see if they were busy.  They were having a barbecue with friends.  There was plenty of food, a competitive penuchle game and a good bed waiting for us.  Next stop St Louis, Missouri.       


We had expected a cool reception in Montreal.  We speak only three words of French and had been warned that the residents were not very tolerant of English speaking visitors.  I'm here to set the record right -- everyone we met was extremely friendly, helpful, welcoming and they immediately spoke English.  What a beautiful city!  Historic buildings blend with remnants of the 1979 Olympics and contemporary architecture.  It is a city that encourages bikes and walking with wide trails.  We were there over Labor Day week-end (which they also celebrate).  The town center was enjoying warm sunny weather, street fairs and the restaurants' sidewalk tables were overflowing. 
Towering steeples marked every town
and led us to another beautiful church.
The St Lawrence Seaway connects the Atlantic
Ocean with the Great Lakes. 

 Olympic Park Tower stands at a 45 degree angel.
It is the tallest inclined tower in the world -- 541 feet.
Cables attach to the roof of the main stadium.
It was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics.

The Biosphere now houses and environmental
museum.  It was the symbol of Expo 67.  The
structure was used in the original 
television show, 
Battlestar Galactica. 

This beauty is abandoned.  A sign offers it for
$1 million (Canadian).  Seems like a bargain!

Habitat 67
158 residences made of 354 prefabricated boxes of reinforced
concrete.  The design allows each home to have privacy,
a view and a balcony.  They are on the St Lawrence River
across from downtown Montreal.  Still stunning today.

This little pastry/deli in Longueuil needs special
mention because we ate two breakfasts and one
dinner here during our short visit.  


Ottawa is the capital of Canada.  We spent an afternoon in the Byword Market area.  Besides being a bustling market, it is adjacent to many of the government buildings.  The city was on overload (Labor Day week-end and students returning to college).  Every hotel room was taken for a radius of 100 miles beyond the city center.  Our room was a suite with a board room connected to it.  Luckily we made a reservation the night before and I guess the online message wasn't kidding when they said "1 room remaining".

First stop -- lunch at a sidewalk cafe.


Food, crafts, clothing, souvenirs....

These now restored shops served the lumberjacks 
and mill workers of the 19th century.  Today they 
are exclusive stores for the wealthy.    

US Embassy

Detroit, Michigan

Time to go through customs again.  This time we are crossing the Ambassador Bridge and entering Detroit.

Good-bye Canada

One stop on the trip from Detroit to St Louis.  Our route took us right through the town of Auburn, Indiana.  Brian could not resist a visit to the Auburn Cord Dusenburg Museum.  These are the cars of the super rich and famous back in the 1920's.  Each one was distinctively designed.  Even if you aren't a car enthusiast, this collection is worth a stop and look.    

This Rolls Royce is very similar to the 1949 Bentley
that we owned in the 1970's.  What a time we had with
 that car!  Right hand drive...  We lived in Los Angeles

Great headlights, radiator and hood!
They don't make them like that anymore.

We saw this sell at a Barrett Jackson auction.

The museum is in the original Auburn showroom.
Look at those art deco details!  
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Friday, August 29, 2014

New Hampshire and Vermont

August 26 - 27, 2014

Now that we have visited Vermont, we have been in every state except Oregon and Alaska.  We are covering a lot of miles, but I can guarantee that we won't be in those last two states on this trip!

The views have changed from the ocean coast to mountain ranges:  the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Green Mountains in Vermont.  The land is lush  with pine trees surrounding the rivers and lakes.  

New Hampshire
Lumber and paper mills are local industries.

We have traveled so much it is hard to remember
where we have been.  Signs like this don't help. 

Time for the 8 mile drive to the top of Mt Washington.
The road was originally opened in 1861.  As we sat
there preparing for the drive, it was 83 degrees.
When we got to the summit, it was 64 with winds
of 45 mph. Our sunny day had turned cloudy,
because we were standing in the clouds!   

Driving up a steep road with no guard
rail, wasn't enough -- then we had
to hike up these steps.

Long views.
60% of the time the summit is in the clouds.

Elevation 6288 feet.
The highest wind ever recorded was here in 1936.
231 mph.

Above the tree line.

In the crooked wood zone.


There was no discussion about this stop.....
Brian said "We are going to Ben & Jerry's factory." 

The graveyard for flavors that are no
longer produced.  

Driving across Lake Champlain.....
Bridges connect the islands.

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!