On the Road to NOLA and Through the Skies to NS
15 May 2017 | Boat in Oriental, crew in New Orleans and Nova Scotia
Beth / Warm in the south/cool in the north
While Madcap sat in her slip at Whittaker Creek Yacht Harbour, we hit the road.
Our 2 ½ day trip cross country took us to Greenville SC where we loved walking through the vibrant city, along paths and gardens by the falls, admiring sculpture and architecture that beautifully complement Mother Nature's beauty.
We stopped in Montgomery, Alabama for a reminder of a much less beautiful picture. Our visit to the Dexter Parsonage was so moving. It was where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived when he was the minister there - where he sat in that very kitchen and despite death threats and venomous phone calls, felt called to continue the battle against oppression and segregation - where our guide, Mrs. Foley, met with Mrs. King and other young women as part of the "Young Matrons' Club" - and where the strong words of Dr. Cherry, another guide, followed us out the door, "Remember! Education and Poverty are the keys!
And then we rolled into New Orleans - NOLA - the Big Easy - where people greet each other on the streets and call out, "How're y'all doing today?" and where there is music on every corner and the food is delicious and the French Quarter is beautiful and walkable, and Bourbon Street is ... well ... it's Bourbon Street!
Our daughter, Mary Beth, was attending a radiology research conference, and when she said back last fall that her husband, Graham, and 1-year-old Duncan were going too, I quickly invited us along as well. (Fortunately, they both said "Great!" Bless their hearts.)
What a city! The two-bedroom condo we rented was just a block away from Canal Street, easily walkable to the French Quarter, the riverfront and even to the Garden District. We parked the car after we picked up the family from the airport and didn't use it again till we took them back for their flight home.
We followed the music from street corner to park to bars - during both days and nights. Along with Graham and Duncan, we took a historical walking tour through the French Quarter with its French and Spanish architecture, and Jim and I set off on a Buzz Nola cycling tour till we got just too soaked to continue. Mary Beth and I took Kevin Belton's cooking class and learned from a local how to make gumbo and jambalaya. We ate our share of pralines (and learned that they are "praw-lines" here) and beignets and drank café au lait (and bourbon and sazaracs). Jim and I slurped down wonderfully sweet/salty oysters one night and went back the very next night with the other three - and ordered platter after platter of them, and were rewarded not only with wonderful oysters and rosemary fries, but also the warm and gentle server, Rashad, who said, "I really like looking after you. Y'all come back again soon."
We visited the insectarium and butterfly garden where Duncan was enthralled with the fluttery beauties. We rode the Charles St trolley, and the other three spent a delightful morning at the aquarium (while we got soaked on our bicycles!) And oh the music! We went twice to Fritzel's European Jazz Bar to hear good old style New Orleans Jazz - and marvel at Richard Scott's flying fingers on the piano - and to the Spotted Cat and Bagalousa's on Frenchman Street, and Jackson Square - and of course we took in the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street.
Along with all the fun of the Big Easy, we loved having time to enjoy Duncan and his parents. He is cruising around the furniture now, full of smiles and curiosity, eager to explore and willing to snuggle up for a short cuddle too. It was good to hear about hospital and family life from Mary Beth and Graham, and to take turns babysitting. Grampy didn't even get fired from the job when he remarked, "Duncan is such a sound sleeper now - I had to poke him once or twice to see if he was still OK!"
And then it was time to go our separate ways. I flew to Halifax NS, the young folks flew to St John's NL, and Jim drove the rental car back to New Bern, NC before joining me up north. It is a good time to be home (despite the continuing cold damp weather)- the forsythia and daffodils are in full bloom, the tulips are just starting. We enjoyed visits with family and friends, gathered up many bags of leaves and twigs from the garden, did a lot of planning for the summer, and are now ready to head back to Madcap tomorrow. I'll fill you in on what happens next as soon as we get our plans finalized.
The adventure continues!
A Magical Evening
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
Beth / warm inside and out
Did we ever strike it lucky tonight! Not only did we have a great time enjoying Mike and Kathy's company at the Tiki Bar and at the Silos, but Jim spotted Peter and Gail (Jabiru) walk through the door. We haven't seen those two since Cuba 5 or 6 years ago. It was wonderful to catch up with them and to listen to Peter's lovely saxophone contributions to the music. I wish I had taken a pic, but here are the Madcaps and the Sapphires!
Good company, good music, good food, and another wonderful reunion. So very fine.
Reunions and Playtime
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
Beth / warm and a little damp
We slept in on Monday morning, and around 8 o'clock I was still in my PJ's, making coffee when we heard a knock on the hull. How exciting to look out and see Mike Steere on the dock!
We met Mike and Kathy (Sapphire) our first year cruising - in the Alligator River not all that far from here. For the next couple of years we shared some fine times with them here and there in the Bahamas, and even here in Oriental. But then we headed to Central America and they continued to enjoy the fishing and sailing in the Bahamas, and we hadn't seen them for several years. Sapphire has moved on to other owners; they are settled on land in this cruising community on the Neuse River, and we are moving Madcap back home to Canada, and as in so many reunions with cruising friends, we picked up as if we had seen each other yesterday. Kathy knew we were coming and I had posted a caption-less picture of the Prosecco bottle and our wine glasses on FB. That was enough for Mike to declare, "They're here!" and pedal down to welcome us.
We've been having fun - starting with a soaking wet walk up the road to their house, an invitation to dinner, with the added invitation to bring our dirty laundry and even to have showers if we wanted. The shrimp tacos were delicious, the conversation among the 6 of us (including their friends Sandy and Peter) was lively and the laundry got clean.
We headed to New Bern on Tuesday to explore the old town and have lunch at MJ's Raw Bar and Grill where we sat at the bar and dined on wonderful seared tuna, crab cakes, oysters and clams, and were thoroughly entertained by a server who clearly enjoyed his job. A prowl around Mitchell's Hardware Store that sells hardware and so much more netted a new tool for Jim and a pelican for Mike. Kathy and I both picked up luscious olive oil at the Midtown oil Store.
Way back in St Augustine, I met a woman in the bathroom who said their home base was Whittaker Creek and recommended it as a place to leave Madcap while we do some land travels. We shared anchorages here and there and chatted on the radio and through text messages, but it wasn't until this morning that we got to really meet Amy and John (Aimless). It's such fun to meet folks we've been talking with and feel like we have known them much longer.
We walked to the "Bean" this morning - that great coffee shop and meeting place for boaters down on the waterfront. We picked up jugs of non-chlorinated water so Jim could pickle the water maker, and were offered 3 rides as we walked back along the street. I walked to the Piggly Wiggly - and met Bill, the owner who pointed out the Piglet Shuttle that will pick up boaters and take them back to their docks again with all their groceries. This town knows how to provide services to cruisers.
And tonight, we will head out to the Tiki Bar to have a drink with Mike and Kathy and then to Open Mic Night at the Silos, to see who's in town and who's making music. Will we see more familiar faces? We finally feel like we are cruising again instead of just moving along.