Heart of Gold
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Before I start our log for the first time again after so many years I would like to say a few words about my mom. You can skip past this part if you like. It is of a personal nature and nothing to do with the boat. I have spent the last two years with her in Florida. I was grateful and lucky to be able to do so. It was with the support of Greg and my children who went above and beyond the call of duty. I was able to learn so much about my mom that I never knew before and I would recommend to anyone who has a lonely mom to spend as much time with her as you can. It is something that will be a great reward to you and much appreciated my by your mom. It was an honor to me to be able to take care of her for the first time in my life. She had always taken such good care of me and was always in my corner even when I didn't deserve anyone in my corner. She taught me how to make beautiful Ukrainian pysanky and she inspired me to make the next one better than the last. One of the funny things I learned about her was that she used to spin flax when she was a little girl. All the little girls in the village would spin flax and then they would take their product to the only woman who had a loom and she would then make it into fabric for everyone. She and I enjoyed many days together going out to eat with friends or just us two, picking grapefruit, oranges, and lemons from her trees and putting puzzles together. She loved her home in Florida, it was her dream house. I was glad to be able to make it possible for her to stay there until the end. I wish I could have done more but she really didn't want anymore, all she wanted was to be in her home. She was a fragile, soft spoken, gentle woman who loved flowers and puzzles and old TV shows and funny movies. She made most of my fancy dresses, from 8th grade graduation to several proms. My mom had an extremely difficult life until she came to the United States. Most people would think her early life in the United States was difficult but she and my dad thought they were in heaven and had it made. Like my dad used to always say, "I've got the world by the tail and I'm swing'in it." Becoming citizens of the United States was one of their greatest achievements and they appreciated every minute they were here. I miss my parents in the worst way and I can't tell you enough how glad I am I spent as much time with them in their last years. They had done so much for me and I was glad to finally be able to do something for them. My mom died February 4, 2011 and it was devastating for me. Mostly due to the circumstances under which she died. I wish I could have done more to protect her and honor her last wishes. It was out of my hands and that will always be one of my greatest regrets and sadnesses. I miss her terribly, I miss both my parents. I also discovered a new respect and appreciation for my own children. For the first time in my life they were taking care of me. My husband, Mary and Philip surrounded me with protection and love. I could not ask for a better family than the one I have. As a parent I always worried if I was doing the right things with my kids and it became obvious to me during this terrible time that we must have done almost everything right. I also realized that my parents were in my corner even in death, due to their generosity in life. They left me with great friends in Mykola Sarazynskyy and his family with whose support, love, and encouragement was greatly comforting. The comfort I found with their neighbors in Florida, especially Jean Stephens from across the street who helped me get through this terrible time and has continued to be a good friend to me.. Now Greg and I are free to go and enjoy ourselves and know that both our kids are on the road to wonderful lives of their own. So we are moving on to the next chapter, with the support of family and friends and hearts filled with wonderful memories and a future filled with new stories to share.
- 10/18/2012 - Thursday - 9:00 p.m. - We got here to Pebble Isle last night. Had supper with Randy and Tammy and then started unloading the the truck. Got everything to the boat just in time for it to start pouring down rain. Greg had taken the table top and the top to the pantry home so he could build new ones from Corian. So before we could put everything away he had to install the table top and pantry top. Corian is really heavy, but I love it. Manoeuvring those pieces to get them on the boat was a job. But they look great. After we got those installed we had to put all the groceries and clothes away. By the time we were done it was late and the rain picked up into a nice storm with lots of wind, rain, thunder and lightning. We lost power for a few minutes, which was a surprise because it wasn't for the whole night. Today I got up early and went to Nashville with Tammy. She had to go to the dr. and then we went to Sam's Club. We had a great day. Greg worked on the boat. The top to the pantry didn't fit quite like he wanted so he worked on getting it fitted just right with the help of Andy who did a wonderful job on the teak. The guys in the shop did a great job on both the pantry top and the table top. I love them both. Later that evening we went out to supper, just Greg and I. Afterwards we stopped to get some gas in the truck and in the middle of the truck stop parking lot there was fox. It was just running around looking for food and playing. It wasn't even afraid of us. We got close enough to the fox to take pictures of it with my cell phone. The pictures aren't very good but I was still amazed that it stood still enough for us to drive up to it and take pictures. It was great.
- 10/19/2012 - Friday - 9:45 p.m. - Got up early and went out to breakfast, came back to the boat and started working on the boat again. We cleaned up all the projects and I did some major housekeeping. We worked on it most of the day. Afterwards we headed to the grocery to pick up last minute stuff. When we got back we went to have supper with Randy and Tammy. It was a great night. They have become such good friends of our. We have enjoyed our time here at Pebble Isle. I got a little sad today thinking about leaving but it is time for us to move on. We have had a lot of fun here and we should move on.
- 10/20/2012 - Saturday - 8:30 p.m. - Greg got up early and started getting the boat ready to head down the river. We went into the marina and had breakfast and said our good-byes. As we were leaving the marina I returned a call to my friend Debbie from Hoppies, she filled us in on what is happening with a good friend of ours. I so admire positive people and how they get through anything. Our trip was uneventful. I don't know how many naps I took but it was a lot. I did get up in time to get a photo of some pelicans. I just love the white pelicans they are such funny birds. Also saw some people up on a cliff. The woman was standing so still I thought she was a statue, she must have been thinking she was queen of the river or what a perfect view she had. Spotted some cormorants sunning themselves and a crow that I was hoping was an eagle. This time of year there isn't too much fall color, which is why I like leaving later in the season. Saw that they have worked on the mermaid sign. It is an icon on the Tennessee river. After all these years up and down the river I still marvel at the tow boats pushing barges. We have not seen as many as we have in the past, but they are still amazing to me. We finally spotted a pair of eagles. I just think it is a little miracle every time we see an eagle. I tried to get a picture with both of them flying together but they were just too fast. But they were spectacular as usual. Also got another picture of the eagle's nest and was glad to see it was still there after all these years. No one was home but they will be back in the spring. Got to Clifton marina close to 5:00 p.m., got tied up and then visited with Gene Davidson, who owns the marina, and some of his friends. Sonya made Greg and me a delicious gourmet cheeseburger. They are some of the friendliest people at this marina and have the best stories to share. Parker is getting more comfortable on the boat. He didn't have much of an appetite at first but is now back to normal. I think he is going to like being a boat dog. All in all a good first day back on the river.
- 10/21/2012 - Sunday - 9:45 p.m. - We got up early this morning and it was foggy so we took our time leaving. I fixed fresh raspberries and crumbled goat cheese for breakfast. It was good. Finally got going and waved goodbye to Clifton. The ride was uneventful. Didn't see any eagles but did see more cormorants, they really love the sun and surf. I did notice our flag was getting a bit worn. Maybe we will get a new one when we get to the gulf. Finally got to Pickwick Dam and locked right through. There was only one other boat in the chamber with us. Greg and Parker enjoyed the ride in the lock. We got to Grand Harbor where we are staying for the night, got tied up and I fixed supper. We had several people come to the boat to look at it. One couple in particular, Bill and Cindy Degnan, were interested because they also had a Jefferson. As we talked more we discovered that they used to live in St. Joseph, MI. They actually were in the same marina, Pier 1000, and they are good friends with Ray and Carol Alderdice! The more we talked the more we could not believe we had never met before. They remember the old Heart Of Gold that was the Trojan. it was so funny. What a small world. It was a beautiful night and a great day.
- 10/22/2012 - Monday - 10:30 p.m. - We left Grand Harbor fairly early which was not necessary since when we got to the Whitton Lock and had to wait for 2 hours. On our way out of the marina we saw a bunch of herons sitting on the buoys. One heron, one buoy, one right after the other. It was like they were standing guard as we were leaving. I think Parker is getting used to the boating life. On the way we passed a red flag barge and were hoping we wouldn't have to wait for him to lock through. We got to the first lock of the day and had to wait. It wasn't too bad but when they finally let us go down with a tow but we had to tie another boat off of us. It was interesting. We even got Parker ready to lock down. I don't think he liked it much but he got used to it. We had a 37' Carver tied off to us as we went down and had no problem. The Whitton Lock is a 84' drop so we really go down and it takes a while to let all that water out. When the doors open it is a like a breath of air. After we got out of the lock and headed down the river we went by a mulch processing area. It made me think of my friend Dolores who loves mulch. Later another tow came toward us and I was sure it was a mulch delivery for Dolores. I know she would love shoveling all that stuff around her yard. As we went further down the river we saw lots of swampy areas. Evidently when the TVA opened the Tombigbee Waterway it left a lot of swampy areas. I thought they looked kind of neat but the local people don't think so. Spotted my first coot and he was all alone but then when we got to Midway Marina in Fulton, Mississippi there were a bunch of coots to greet us. I just think they are so funny. The three other boats we were traveling with also went in to Midway. We all got tied up and checked in. It was late and I really didn't feel like cooking anything so we went to a place that the manager suggested. They had a courtesy car we could borrow and we headed to a place called Homer's. We were told they have the best barbique and that was the truth. The manager was right about that and I am glad we took him up on his recommendation. We got back to the boat in time to watch the last presidential debate. Greg turned in after that and I am working on the ship's log. It's no wonder I need a nap every morning after breakfast. It was a good day and a good night.
- 10/23/2012 - Tuesday - 10:00 p.m. - This morning we left Midway Marina before the sun was up. The Wilkins lock master radioed an announcement that he was locking down small craft in half an hour, so we got up and at it right away so we could make it. The sailboat and the Carver were already heading to the lock. It was misty in the swampy area and a cool morning. I spotted these guys fishing and was wondering what the hell they were fishing for at that hour of the morning. They looked like they had been there a while. I just don't get it. After the first lock Carina, the Carver, and us were way out ahead of the sailboat so it was just the two of us locking through the next three locks. It was an uneventful ride and I didn't spot too many different birds. I like when I can get a heron near the shore. They are such pretty birds. I didn't get much of a nap because it seemed like we were always locking down. However, Greg and Parker didn't seem to have too much trouble. Unfortunately while they were napping I discovered some of the electronics on the boat were out. So I had to get Greg up so he could check it out. He tried to figure out what was wrong but could not find anything. We were only a couple hours from the marina so we didn't worry about it. While he was working on our technical difficulties I did manage to snap another photo of a heron. I also tried to take pictures of the military planes that were flying all over the place. They were just too fast. But there sure were a lot of them. We finally got to the Columbus Marina in Columbus, Mississippi. What a friendly place. Once we got checked in and in our slip for the evening, Greg figured out that our electrical problem was probably a loose ground. At least everything is working again for now. Lets hope it stays that way. A couple of our friends are here and they will be staying here until after the holidays and then they will head south again. We all went out to supper together, Pete and Nancy from the Carina, Brad and Sam from Pebble Isle and Greg and me. We went to a restaurant called Huck's and it was great. I had the redfish and it was wonderful. Greg had Bayou chicken and it looked good too. Everyone enjoyed their supper. We came back to the marina and said our good nights. It was another good day and good evening.
- 10/24/2012 - Wednesday - 11:00 p.m. - This morning we got up and did some choirs on the boat. We borrowed the car and Sam, Brad, Greg, and I went into Columbus to do a little shopping. Greg had to go to the auto parts store to get some kind of heavy cable for the boat to fix a starting problem with one of the engines he has been having. Then had lunch and went to the grocery to pick up a few things. We went back to the boat and did a little more work. The four of us had supper on the boat and it was a nice visit. It was good to see Sam and Brad again. They are going to hang around here until after the holidays. It would be good to run into them again down the road. Not much else went on today. We kind of just hung out and I did laundry. There were a pair of coots that hung out around our boat most of the day. Parker would scare them anytime he walked down the dock. It seems like coots don't like to have their picture taken because every time I would get my camera out to take a picture they would swim away. But I did end up getting a few shots of them anyway. It was a good day and we will be leaving here in the morning. Not sure where we will be tomorrow but we plan to make at least 50 or 60 miles. It was an easy day and a great night.
- 10/25/2012 - Thursday - 9:00 p.m. - We said good-bye to Columbus this morning and were headed to the first lock of two locks for the day. This end of the Tombigbee there seems to have a lot of lily pads and water hyacinth. We go through free floating patches of the water hyacinth all the time and they are also in all the locks. It was a warm dog day afternoon obvious by Parker's reaction. It was also a good day for bird pictures. The first birds I spotted were a dead tree full of cormorants. I just think they are the funniest birds. Of course got a picture of a nice heron also. Earlier in the week I saw some egrets but was never fast enough to get a picture of one. Today there were a lot more egrets and I was able to snap a few pictures of them. This seems to be the nicer end of the Tombigbee and I think as we progress farther down it will be even nicer. Seem to be a lot more birds today than we have seen since we left Pebble Isle. We were fortunate enough to spot another eagle today. It was huge. It is nice cruising down the river but I think I prefer doing it later in the fall. There aren't so many bugs or boats and the weather is much cooler. We seem to always be traveling with a group of boaters. Today we only traveled with one boat all day. It was a 48' Searay express called Champ. They left with us from Columbus. We stopped today at Sumter inlet and anchored out for the night. There were 5 of us in here for the night. It is a very calm and safe anchorage and full of the water hyacinth. There is a boat ramp here and Greg took Parker in the dinghy up to shore so he could relieve himself, they both probably relieved themselves. We cooked supper and Greg went up on deck and actually is reading a book. I think he is finally relaxing. I think we both are. Very peaceful night, even heard an owl hooting.
- 10/26/2012 - Friday - 9:00 p.m. - It was a misty morning in Sumter Landing. Greg and Parker went up to shore for their morning constitutional. Greg decided to use the dinghy as a paddle board, he thought Mary would be impressed, Parker wasn't. But he was happy to make it back to the boat. I think Parker is becoming a seasoned boat dog. The Champ III and us were the last to leave Sumter Landing and head for the only lock of the day. Luckily the lock master waited for us and a sailboat to arrive before he locked everyone down. This is definitely the nice part of the Tombigbee. The White Cliffs were beautiful. There was even a little hide-a-way of some sort. Greg and I couldn't figure out what it might have been at some point. On the other shore was what looked like a beach hangout where lots of fun must have been had all summer long. Spotted more heron and an egret. What was really interesting was the buzzard convention we ran across. I don't know what was dead under that tree but it had to be something big with the amount of buzzards hanging around. Buzzards are certainly no eagles but they are interesting anyway. We traveled with The Champ all day, along with another boat. We got into Demopolis around 2:00 p.m. They put us in the new section which was about a mile hike to get to the marina office where we had to check in. It was a hot and dusty walk. Greg stopped at the parts department and me and Parker decided to just walk back to the boat. On our way back a fellow in a big white pick up truck offered me and Parker a ride back to the boat. So we jumped in and he was kind enough to take us to our boat. That is some southern hospitality. I relaxed on the boat for a while and Greg was talking to Larry, captain of the Champ III, and they were trying to make some kind of supper arrangements. Demopolis does not have a great selection of restaurants, especially if you don't have a car. So we all went to the restaurant here at the marina. We borrowed a golf cart and Larry, Lenore, Greg, and I went to supper. We have not been in this marina for nearly 15 years and it hasn't changed a bit except for the fact that they doubled in size. The restaurant still had the turtles and fish under it that were constantly waiting for someone to throw them some food. The food was okay and they were mostly out of what we wanted to eat but we finally did order something they had. Evidently there was some sort of dog hunting and retrieving competition going on the day before and they ran out of food. At least the company was great and we had a wonderful time with Larry and Lenore. When we got back to the boat we heard Parker howling away. I felt so bad for Parker and our dock mates. We asked them if he had done that the whole time we were gone and he said off and on. He thought about going on our boat and bringing Parker onto his boat but wasn't sure he should. I wish he would have. It was a good day and a great evening especially meeting and getting to know Larry and Lenore. I hope we run into them again down the river. A special thanks to Jim Gartland for noticing that I was in the wrong month. I sure don't want time to fly that quickly. Thanks Jim.
- 10/27/2012 - Saturday - 8:45 p.m. - We left Demopolis Marina after everyone else did and missed the first group going down in the lock. That was okay with me, we ended up going a little later and went down by ourselves. You would think after 15 years Dempolis would have changed but it was the same only bigger. I did like the cable TV we had, I guess that was an improvement. We got to the lock after the others had gone down and were lucky enough to get locked down after he turned it around. It was a cold and gloomy morning. When we lock down I get to stand on the side of the boat and I look at the bollard which we are tied off to. After we go down my view isn't very good. Once we got out of the lock there was a nice waterfall just outside. I didn't get any bird pictures today because I didn't see too many and it was just too cold and dreary to even look. Most of the day I looked at Parker who stayed under my sweater most of the day. I think maybe only two times did I ever see this much of him peek out from under cover and once he actually stretched. I did get a picture of one of the many little beaches that were all down the Tombigbee. I bet it is a lot of fun in the summer. We got all the way down to Bobby's Fish Camp today. It is an interesting place. The restaurant was good. We had shrimp, oysters, and catfish. The catfish was great and they actually catch it right here. We ended up rafting off our friends on the Mimi. From the back we don't look too small compared to them but from the front it was a different story. Got back to the boat after supper and called Debbie to tell her who we ran into but she didn't answer. She did call me a little later, she had been to visit with Judy a good friend of theirs and ours and the news was not good. It is so sad. I will keep Judy and her family and everyone at Hoppies in my prayers tonight.
- 10/28/2012 - Sunday - 8:30 p.m. - We were up at 5:18 a.m. this morning. What is wrong with these people? What the hell is the rush? That is what I want to know. It was still dark for God's sake when we got to the last lock of our trip. The Mimi and us were the last to arrive and once we got secured down we went. Greg made sure to put his mark on the bollard. It was cold this morning but when the sun came up it was much nicer. We spotted a pair of eagles in some trees and we did slow down to see them. I could not take a picture of both of them at the same time but I did get a photo of each of them. It is just amazing to us when we see eagles. The ride was beautiful, this is the best part of the Tombigbee, with all the beaches at every turn. We ran into some electrical problems again. We thought we had it fixed in Columbus but the batteries were getting overcharged again and shut down. We turned on the generator and had power to our electronics again. Greg thinks he has it figured out what the problem is and will try to fix it once we get to Mobile. We could tell we were getting closer to Mobile when we started seeing more industry. And you can tell when you get closer to the gulf when the seagulls show up. They start out a few at a time and then there is a ton of them. They are so funny and they dive for whatever it is we stir up. We decided to pull into the Tensaw River anchorage at daymark 12.2. Wow it is a huge place with 10 feet of water. There were three other boats already here but there was plenty of room for everyone. We got anchored with not trouble at all. Greg got some work done in the engine room and I finished fixing supper and we watched the sunset. After the sun was out of sight it still lit up the trees on the other bank. We sat down to supper and I saw the moonrise. It was a beautiful full moon. After supper did the dishes and Greg discovered we had TV and tuned it into Sunday Night Football. The moon was so bright it lit up the whole anchorage. Nice day and good night.
- 10/29/2012 - Monday - 8:30 p.m. - This morning was an easy one. We had a great sunrise and a great breakfast and then waited for the sun to warm things up and then started getting ready to leave our anchorage. It wasn't very far before we got to the industrial parts of Mobile. Even in the midst of everything there were still cormorants sunning themselves. There is a lot of industry here. We went past the convention center and low and behold we spotted the Mimi tied up there. We guessed they were waiting for the gulf to calm down before they make their crossing. We went past a boat building place and saw some unusual boats. They were some really strange looking boats. There were also several very large boat yards and each one was working on some huge boats. It is amazing how they get those boats out of the water to work on them. It was also something to see all the containers they have in Mobile. We finally got through all the industrial stuff and were nearing Mobile Bay where we found a bunch of boats coming in. We were dodging lots of huge boats. Finally we got into Mobile Bay. We saw a cargo ship coming in loaded down with containers. Two tug boats came out to meet him and escort him in. I think they do that will all the big boats. There is one tug boat on each side of the cargo ships. The bay was rough and there were 20-25 knot winds. Doesn't sound like much until you are out there. They said it was rough but it was like a fair day on Lake Michigan. We rolled around a little but not bad enough to make a mess of the boat. Most everything stayed in place. Got my first picture of a pelican while we were making our way to Dog River. After all the rolling Parker was no worse for the ware. He did really good and had his sea legs right away. We got to Dog River and went to Grand Mariner Marina around 1:30 p.m., where we will be staying for a couple of nights. The icing on the cake for Greg was shocking our friend Pete when Greg banged on his boat and told him to come out and give us a hand. Pete was so surprised to see Greg he actually gave him a big hug. Pete even gave me a big hug when he saw me. It was great to see him again. He came aboard and he and Greg had a few beers. Greg helped Pete with something on his boat and I ended up taking a nap. Later the three of us went out for supper at the restaurant here. It was good. I finally had fried crab claws and they were pretty good. Tonight will be a clear night with a full moon and the temperature will dip down into the 30's. Downright cold!
- 10/30/2012 - Tuesday - 9:00 p.m. - I slept in today and Greg went to the marina for coffee with the other guys. We had breakfast and then put our name in for the use of the car. Greg got some inside work done in short order, then decided to look at the problem that has been bugging him in the engine room. For some reason he has been having trouble starting the starboard engine. He figured out the problem was with the starter. We thought it was rebuilt a couple years ago but maybe not. Greg went to the marina office and there just happened to be a mechanic on the property. By the time he got to our boat Greg had the starter pulled out. The mechanic went down into the engine room with Greg and agreed with him that it was the starter. Lee, the mechanic knew of a place where he could get the starter rebuilt in a day . . . maybe. Well we didn't get the starter back today but maybe in the morning. If we can't get the starter back and installed into the boat by 9:00 a.m. then we will be here another day. Which is okay with me because I have not had a chance to try the gumbo here. Tonight I had the shrimp and grits and Greg had the whole flounder grilled, and Pete had peel and eat shrimp. It was all really good. This afternoon we got the car and the three of us went to lunch at a great place, then to Lowes, and the Winn-Dixie for a few groceries and of course beer. Got back to the boat and Greg was off talking to different people. A group of local people come down here around 3 p.m. and sit at the marina drinking beer and talking and the boaters can join in too. We were there for a while with everyone. I went back to the boat and finally got a great close up of a coot. I swear they hate to have their pictures taken. But this one was hanging around all day and I pretended to take a picture of something else and snapped his instead. Parker is really getting into the boat life. He just goes from one end of the boat to another looking for a nice place in the sun to take a nap. What a life.
- 10/31/2012 - Wednesday - 10:00 p.m. - Well the started was not here as early as Greg had hoped. When it did get here Greg tried installing it right away and discovered it was put together wrong. So he found Lee and told him about it and Lee said he would take it back to the place where he had it fixed and they would put it back together right. In the mean time Greg, Pete, and I went out to lunch. It was good. Greg is eating oysters everyday. I had red beans and rice with sausage. I asked the lady if it was very spicy and she said it wasn't. All I can say is she must drink hot sauce for breakfast if she didn't think that was hot. Pete had a hamburger steak and it looked good too. Greg and I split a piece of mango pie. It was really good. After lunch we stopped at a small grocery store to pick up a few things. We were walking past the fresh meat counter when the butcher came out from the back room and his face was covered in blood. He walked out from behind the counter and he was covered with blood splatter from head to toe. It took me a minute to realize it was Halloween. Everyone was laughing so the look on my face must have been hysterical. It was funny, the butcher was laughing, he was actually the butcher. When we got back to the marina Lee had the starter back and delivered to the boat. Greg got it right in and it work great. So tomorrow we will be leaving here. I will miss the beautiful view we have been enjoying. We saw an old shrimp boat come in today and it was really neat. Parker spotted some dock cats on our dock. So far I have counted six cats around here and most of them are feral. I am sure next time we come here they will have a bunch more cats. Pete was sunning himself while Greg was working on the boat. He came over to help Greg but Greg had it already installed and working. Pete and Greg did work on the dinghy and got it working better. I was worried about the dinghy not in working condition. Now I feel much better about it. While they were working on the dinghy I spotted a pelican sitting on top of an old sailboat mast. There was also a curious seagull that sat on a piling watching Greg and Pete working on the dinghy. After everything was fixed we were relaxing on the back deck. Parker decided to sit next to Pete and they got to know each other better. I was surprised Pete and Parker got along so well. They mostly just ignored each other. It has been nice visiting with Pete for these past few days. We will be leaving here tomorrow and hopeful we will see some of the good friends we have met here again. Everyone has been so nice and it has been a great place to stay.
- 11/01/2012 - Thursday - 11:30 p.m. - Before we left this morning Greg went into the office for coffee and Miss Betty had a pecan pie ready for us. She told us the night before that she made pecan pie and there were several people who said it was the best pecan pie ever made. Many have tired to get the recipe from Miss Betty but she will not give out her mother's recipe. She wouldn't take money for it and we wouldn't take it for nothing. So I brought in a pair of blue wool socks I had knitted on my antique sock knitting machine. She accepted them graciously and we did the same with the pie. We had a great time at the Grand Mariner Marina and we will be back this way again. We left the Dog River and headed into Mobile Bay. While we were in Mobile Bay we saw all kinds of fishing, crabbing, and fishing boats. I don't know one from the other but there were all kinds of shapes and sizes and they were all interesting. Here is a list of all the different boats we saw. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Cormorants were also everywhere. They love perching on the channel makers. Sometime you would see cormorants and pelicans together. There were also several different tugboats. They come in lots of shapes and sizes. We were also on a collision course with a Navy ship! But of course we gave way and let him pass. It was awesome to see a navy ship in action with sailors or board. There was also another boat that we thought might have been a crew boat. Taking crew and supplies to the different platforms. There were all kinds of platforms in the Bay. We also spotted a screw pile lighthouse. I think it would be fun to work in there but I don't think anyone stays in them anymore. We were in the middle of the bay and were being surrounded by Monarch butterflies. I tried to take pictures of them but it didn't work out. Also there were dozens of dolphins. They were also difficult to photograph because they would just pop out of the water and that would be it. They didn't swim with the boat but they did get very close. It took us most of the afternoon to get through Mobile Bay and then we entered the Mississippi Sound. There were lots of shrimp boats and platforms there too. Biloxi finally came into view and we checked into Cadet Point Marina. After we got tied up and checked in we caught up with Greg's friends Ken and Judy and we made arrangements to meet in the morning and they will take us to check out some other marinas and make arrangements to get our bottom painted and checked out. Greg and I went to the casino and had a light supper and then did a little gambling. We only lost ten dollars! I take that as a win. When we got back to the boat I sliced into the pecan pie Miss Betty had baked and everyone was right. It is the best pecan pie either one of us has ever eaten. Can't wait to get back to Mobile and see if she would bake us another.
- 11/02/2012 - Friday - 11:45 p.m. - This morning we met up with Ken and Judy for breakfast and then Ken took Greg and I to the two different boat yards we were going to check out to do the work on our boat. Randy called and told us they were tied up with moving stuff our of their condo so Ken volunteered to drive us to Long Beach. I was only about 30 minutes away. Randy and Tammy showed us their condo's and they were wonderful. Ken and Judy have been wonderful and so very helpful to us. Boaters are mostly very helpful to each other. It's a good group of people to have as friends. We picked up the car and came back to the marina. Greg and I spent some time trying to figure out what to do about the boat. We went to Bay Marine again and Greg talked to them and finally decided that they would be the ones to do the work. It was good to get that decision made. I went back to the boat and Greg went to talk to the marina to see if we could stay another two nights. They are having a huge fishing tournament here on tomorrow and are going to be full. While he was gone I noticed all the birds perched on the wall behind us. There were a bunch of pelicans and I figured this is what pelicans do when they are waiting for the shrimp boats to come back in. Saves them from having to go out into the sea to get food. A heron was perched and looked like an old man staring out over the horizon. I think it was a gray heron. I spotted this cormorant drying out his feathers getting ready to plunge into the water again. The marina where we are staying is connected to a casino with lots of restaurants in it. We had supper with Tammy and Randy tonight at the White Cap and the food was fantastic. They are leaving tomorrow for TN but will be back in two weeks. Greg and I went back to our marina and went to the casino. I ended up winning $1900.00!!! I couldn't believe it. An attendant came over to me and started taking all kinds of information from the machine and me. I had to give them my driver's license and social security number. I have to pay taxes on this. What a pisser. They took my driver's license and told me to wait at the machine. They were gone for about 20 minutes and when they came back I had to sign some papers and then they counted out the cash to me. It was so cool. I just kept playing the same machine and won a little more money. Greg went somewhere and was playing another machine and he came back with $525.00!!! I don't know what the hell was going on but whatever it was, it was great. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to call my mom and tell her all about it. She would have so appreciated how exciting this was. I missed her so much tonight. She would have been so happy for us. It was weird not to have her around to call. I really miss her.
- 11/03/2012 - Saturday - 11:45 p.m. - Today was an easy day. We had no commitments so we decided to have breakfast at our favorite place for breakfast . . . Waffle House. It seems like to me, Waffle House is to Biloxi what Starbuck's is to Chicago. We went to the first Waffle House we saw and they were lined up out the door, so we just went down the block and thee was another one. It was less crowded and located on the beach. The customers could not see the beach but if you went behind the building where the dumpster was you had a beautiful view of the gulf. After breakfast we headed east just to see what we could see. We ended up at the Pascagoula Gun Show. I found a nice little Ruger 380 I would like to find in my Christmas stocking this year. After the show we drove along the coast and looked at different houses. There are a lot of empty lots for sale. After Katrina they imposed so many new codes that most people could not afford to rebuild and they are tired of paying taxes on an empty lot. So there are plenty of good deals on empty lots. Got back to the boat and Greg installed a new monitor on his new electronics. This one is much easier to see in daylight. We went to supper and came back to the casino here at the marina. Wasn't as lucky as last night but I spent $140.00 and won $250.00. Still an amazing win for me. I never used to win at the casino. I thought I was a winner if I didn't lose my whole $100.00. The casino's around here are lit up just like Las Vegas and there are a bunch of them around here. The casino here is lucky for me. They are having a big fishing tournament here next weekend and the fishing boats are coming in early to start getting ready for it. Monster Energy Drink sponsors a really nice boat. They have trucks and trailers all decked out. But the Monster boat was really something. Greg thought the three motors on the back of the boat were something. It just glowed green in the marina at night. There is a cool breeze tonight and it was a beautiful moonrise over Biloxi tonight.
- 11/04/2012 - Sunday - 11:30 p.m. - Got up this morning and went for breakfast at McElroy's on the Bayou. It was great. We drove around Ocean Springs which is the town on the other side of the bridge. It is a pretty town and we looked at some really neat houses. Went back to the boat and started to do some packing. Today there was only one Gray Heron sitting on the seawall. I guess since the shrimp boats don't go out on Sunday there is no reason for them to hang out on the sea wall and poop all day waiting for food to come in. Clouds started rolling in and after a while it started to rain. This is the first rain we have seen since we started this trip. Greg found the Colts' game on TV and we sat down and watched the game. It was another great win for the Colts. Squeaked by, but sill a win. Ken and Judy came over and after the game the four of us took the boat to the boat yard where they will be hauling it out in the morning. We left our Pointe Cadet Marina around 4:00 p.m. and got to the boat yard twenty minutes later. The Margaritaville Casino is right next door to where some of the shrimp boats dock. The boat yard where we are for the evening is just past the shrimp docks. It is a scary looking place but this is where everyone goes to get their bottoms painted. So here we are. We took Ken and Judy back to their marina and Greg and I started unloading the boat. We aren't taking everything off but we did take all the rugs. They are going to sandblast the bottom before they paint and that is a dusty job and it will make a mess of the boat. After we loaded the care we walked over to the Margaritaville Casino and had a nice supper, after which we did a little gambling. Not as lucky as previous nights but we did bring some of our money back with us. It was another lovely moonrise. This time it was over the bridge that connects Biloxi and Ocean Springs. I was able to get a portrait of the moon also. This is our last night on the boat for a while. We will be going back home tomorrow after the boat is hauled out and Greg can look at the bottom. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. We will be spending it in St. Thomas with Mary, Philip, Mykola, and his family. It will a great time but I will miss the boat. After the holidays we will be back and then who knows where we will head
- 11/06/2012 - Tuesday - 7:00 p.m. - We got home late last night and were pooped after the long drive. Monday morning we had a beautiful sunrise and we started early to unload the rest of the boat. The people at Bay Marine were on time and the travel lift was heading our way by 7:00 a.m. They got us into the slings which was a tricky thing to get them adjusted exactly where they should be and then lifted us out of the water. Slowly they moved the boat onto the land. Traveling over land is the most nerve racking part for me. They got us to the spot where they will be working on the boat and they start blocking it up. Greg was able to get a good look at the bottom and did not see any blisters, which is such a good thing. He also got to look at the props which were also in great shape. The guys at Bay Marine Boat Works know what they are doing and everything went smoothly. They got the boat blocked with no problems. The guys at Bay Marine were wonderful and we had a good time talking to them all. We said our good-byes to them and Ralph opened the gate for us. He was a wonderful young man as was Paul and all his guys. We left Biloxi around 10:00 a.m. and started the long drive home. We made it home around mid night and Parker was extremely happy to be home, especially when he saw Mouse was here. They ran back and forth around the house for an hour before they settled down. Tonight they have mellowed a little and are glad to cozy up with each other on the sofa.
Thanksgiving in St. Thomas with our family and friends.
We were the first to arrive on St. Thomas on November 20th. We had a few technical difficulties at the airport but it all worked out just fine. Some of our luggage arrived before we did but we did locate it and then the car we reserved had been in a wreck so they gave us a smaller car. But at least we had a car. It was good to see Mary again. She could not meet us at the airport but she stopped by our house after work. It was so good to see her. We were so grateful for her. She had stocked our house with food and drinks before we got here and made sure it was all ready for us. What a great kid. Our first night here was wonderful and our first visitor was interesting. The next day Mykola, Tania, Olesia, and Taras arrived. They arrived after 4 p.m. and we visited a short time before we headed to town for Mary's birthday party. There was dancing, Greg and Ron had some deep conversation, Mary, Mykola and the kids were having fun. Mary and Tania were glad to see each other again and everyone seemed to have a great time. Mary looked like a beautiful cupcake in her great dress. Mykola and Olesia were having a great time. It is so good to see him, Tania and the kids again. Mary was enjoying a dance with Taras and a drink at the bar with Olesia. Mary's 28th birthday was a great one. I was so glad to be able to spend it with her. It is good to be here with everyone. I wish Philip could have been here but he will be here on Saturday.
Thanksgiving Day was great. Mary, Tania and I ended up going to the grocery store to get last minute items for supper. We stopped my Mary and Dana's house to pick up a few things and I don't think Tania wanted to leave. . . ever. The view from Mary's balcony is spectacular. She wakes up to see Megan's bay every day. Tania loved the pink and white flowers and the cactus. But she really flipped when she saw the avocados growing on the trees. We got back to our house and started to furiously cook like people possessed. Mary quarterbacked the whole thing. She was great at multitasking. The only recipes we had were on Mary's phone. She was reading instructions to us from her phone while answering her phone and giving driving instructions to her friend. Everyone was working hard but had time for a photo op. Mary outdid herself when all was done. We ate our Thanksgiving dinner out on the deck facing the ocean. My plate of food looked great but Mykola's plate won the prize. He truly enjoyed his Thanksgiving dinner. We all did.
Black Friday was even great. Mykola fixed us all a wonderful breakfast and then he, Tania and the kids went to the beach and Greg and I stayed at the house and did nothing but relax. We took a dip in the pool and just enjoyed the day. Greg got a photo of an iguana up close and personal. He also snapped a bird and then spotted another iguana. When they came back from the beach Olesia and Taras jumped into the pool and their parents relaxed. The kids were trying out some tricks. Olesia can float in mid air and tip toe on the mat. Taras had his own trick.
Saturday Mykola and his family went to Secret Harbor beach for some swimming. Greg and I went to the airport to pick up my oldest friend from high school, and by oldest I don't mean she is old. Helen and I attended St. Basil's Academy in Philadelphia when we were juniors in high school and have been friends ever since. It was great seeing her again. She has had a tough year also. Her oldest sister who was suffering from lung cancer passed away recently. She was in the hospital in NYC that had to be evacuated during hurricane Sandy. It was a horrible experience for everyone. Helen stayed by her side till the end and has been very supportive of her sister's husband ever since. She is a good person. Instead of going to the house we decided to meet Mary and Myklola and his family at the beach for lunch. It was great. After lunch we went back to the airport to pick up our son Philip. This was going to be a great vacation. It was a great Saturday with everyone finally together. We went back to our house and had a chance to see a wonderful sunset. We had dinner at one of Mary's favorite restaurants, Island View Guest House. They have a wonderful view from there and parking is especially interesting. Dinner at Island View as delicious and Olesia and Taras enjoyed themselves with drinks and ice cream. I was really glad to see Philip and Helen again. We all enjoyed ourselves that night. We got back to the house and saw an almost full moon, it was a good night.