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S/V NELLEKE
The ship's blog for SV Nelleke out of Shelburne, NS
Art Day! Lazy Day!
Mike
01/29/2009, Gulfport, Florida

Barb has just informed me that we have to do something special when out visit counter crosses the 10000 mark. We have had the counter on the blog site for less than 10 days and we are over 2000 individual hits, a very flattering achievement. Any suggestions? Nothing expensive...we are retired after all.

Today threatened to be thunder and lightning and rain all day so we planned accordingly with Chris and Taunya staying on the boat while Barb and I went to our art classes. Of course it was bright sun all morning and by the time we got back from class it was too late to do much of anything except take Taunya to one of the local malls for a half afternoon of shopping. This turned out to be quite successful with everyone, including myself, getting something for their pains. In my case it was some more movies for out DVD collection, in Chris's it was a really nice Swiss Army watch which was a belated Christmas present, and Barb and Taunya hit Bath and Body and Victoria's Secret like a full frontal assault combined with a right flanking manoeuvre. Before that we all made a visit to West Marine for some essential and non-essential stuff. The essential stuff was some more lights for the cabin including a couple of LED lights to replace the fluorescent one in the forward head which has finally gone to join the big light switch in the sky. Non-essential stuff was more really nice but amazingly cheap shirts and Barb bought a Nautica sundress which is normally $120 and she got it for less than $20. Chris got a great T-Shirt and Taunya got a nice stripped Fresh Produce nautical hoodie too. We had some fun at her expense telling her that we hoped that she realized that there was a camera in the part of the back store where she changed and that the store was known for posting the better videos that they were able to catch on the internet. She bought it until she noticed that some of the stores clerks were trying to hide laughter. She's a good sport so we escaped unscathed.

My art class is different from week to week and the photo accompanying this post is the project for today. It's not something that I am particularly proud of neither is it one of my better works, but it does show what we were trying to learn. Normally in a watercolour you put a background wash on the paper and mask out those areas that are significantly lighter than the background so you can paint them in later. Today we masked out the paper entirely with stuff called Gesso that, when dry, is impervious to paint and then you put your background wash over all of it. Then, for the lighter areas, you remove the background which is easy as the Gesso keep the background wash from being absorbed into the paper and is comes off with a little water. Then you add the rest of the subject matter. An interesting concept especially when you consider that the Gesso can also create a texture on the media surface. I already have a dozen ideas of where I can use it in some paintings that I have planned.

The Trip (2008)
Busch Gardens!
Mike
01/28/2009, Gulfport, Florida

The new President's actions on the first couple of weeks of his presidency have been very interesting, and even more interesting has been the reaction of some of the old timers on both sides of the house. Obama seems to be the first politician that I have seen in years that understand that the real engine of growth and prosperity of a country is not big business, it's not even small business, and it certain isn't any special interest groups. Rather it's the population of the country itself, for it is a population with money for discretionary spending that buys homes and cars, TVs and refrigerators, goes out for dinner and takes vacations. The only trouble with fuelling the population economy through the people from a politician's point of view is that it's tough to get favours and kickbacks from 380 million individuals. It's much easier to expect some back scratching from corporations and lobyists. The major parties still have some grey haired holdouts for old time politics and politicians expectations, but I think the man is so popular that he is going to get his way, especially when with his example, the population are going to compare their other politicians to him and many are going to come up wanting. Here's hoping anyway. Then, maybe, just maybe it will spread to Canada.....

Yesterday we met four fence rattlers just in front of the boat. You know what fence rattlers are don't you? They are folk that are walking past the marina that may or may not have a boat of their own, just not at that particular marina so they don't have keys to the gates, so they talk to you through the fence, reminiscent of old time prison chain gang films. All they need is a tin cup to drag back and forth across the mesh, back and forth, back and forth..... Anyway, they turned out to be someone who knows of places that we are planning to cruise to after we leave here, most importantly Bocca Chica Key near Key West. There is a Naval Air Station Marina there where we had planned to stay. When we told them that they strongly recommended that we call ahead soon and reserve a slip if that's what we want or a mooring. They gave us the name of the manager there, Billy, and told us to tell them that we should mention that Leo told us to talk to him. I'm not sure if that will be a help or a hindrance but if nothing else it will be an introduction. We have been in the Key West area before arriving by car and are looking forward to a return visit. Fantasy Fest is past as is Key West Race Week so things should be relatively calm, but it is the high snowbird season so there'll be lots of cruisers on the water and the area is usually well enough odd to be interesting even in slow times.

Today we made the foray into the wilds of Busch Gardens, another theme park but closer than Orlando's collection of similar places. Busch Gardens is a great place and I'd be hard pressed to suggest which of the parks that we've been to first we'd say was our preference. Universal was larger and had a greater variety of rides and events to go to but Busch had a really well laid out zoo to tour through including feed the animal spots and up close and personal with giraffes, lions and zebra herds. When we arrived I discovered that with my military ID I could get in for free and bring in three dependents. Score! With those savings we got a "quickie pass" which for a few extra dollars allows us to go to the head of the line. Normally we wouldn't have bothered but since the entrance fee had been waived we decided to spurge. When we first went through the gates we got a great lecture on the American Alligator and learned a few things that I didn't know before. For instance, they stop eating in the cooler weather in October and won't get back to their full appetite until the following summer. That's one hell of a fast, but they're not really hungry since they slow their metabolism right down. Also, if you come across an alligator larger than 9', it's a male or bull 'gator as females only grow to 9' max. We then took the Serengeti Express for a ride around the wildlife preserve. The engine pulling the passenger cars was an actual steam engine from Africa! Pretty neat, eh? We then proceeded to ride on virtually every ride that we could get into. There were multiple roller coaster rides of a variety of types including the longest wooden coaster that I have ever been on and one that starts off with a 185' vertical drop and I do mean vertical, totally perpendicular to the ground. I didn't go on that one but Chris and Taunya did. Taunya, it turns out, is a roller coaster freak, loving every second and the adrenaline rush that comes with the ride. Chris got off the vertical drop a little wobbly in the knees. Barb and I went on all of the water related rides including one in which we were joined by an older couple who were dressed to the nines looking like they were going out to a club or something and who I don't think had any idea of what they were letting themselves in for. At the end of the ride they and all the rest of us were soaked clear through. He was a little pissed off but she was talking about entering a wet T-Shirt contest. Pretty cool old babe. I would have liked to have met her when she was 30 years younger.

For the first time in my life I won a stuffed animal for the lady I was with. Fortunately it was Barb so she now has a large stuffed husky to cuddle up to in the boat.

At the end of the day we had a late lunch at the Crown Colony and then I got suckered in to having the final ride on a suspension roller coaster with Taunya. Chris couldn't go another, pleading his tummy after having eaten a seafood medley and drunk a beer. I, having only eaten a salad was elected. You know what a suspension roller coaster is, don't you? Those are the ones that you sit in a sort of saddle and you feet are hanging in space. This didn't really strike me until we got to the top of the first lift and we were launched into the ride and there was nothing between my sandals and dirt but about 200' of nice clean Florida air. Wheeeeeeeee!

Our final thing was a really well done stage show, a la Lion King, in one of the theatres in the park. Most of the old folk sat on their hands so I was disappointed for the performers who were really excellent, when it came to the occasions for applause.

Then back to Nelleke with a quick stop at the West Marine store and a Winn-Dixie's. Great day all around.

From Barb - Well, I can't believe that I submitted myself to the rides that I went on today - unlike Taunya I do not enjoy the roller coasters - no, no, not one iota! I went on three of the water rides and after Chris badgered me I gave in and went on the Gwazi - a really large wooden rollercoaster - the only reason that I went on that was because it did not dump you upside down - I had my eyes squeezed shut the whole time just praying for it to be over, my head kept bouncing sideways against Mike's shoulder - ohhhhhh, so much fun - yeah, right! Never again, I don't want any more gut-wrenching anticipation. The highlights of the day were seeing all of the wonderful animals and feeding the lorikeets. I'd definitely choose Busch Gardens over Universal Studios any day.

The Trip (2008)
A day for Chris... Boat chores!....Bitching about the internet connection!
Mike
01/27/2009, Gulfport, Florida

I am convinced that Gulfport is ready to see the back of us. Every time that we sign on to the internet, we just get on and it kicks us off after we have started to do something and have keyed in all the information. We have been trying to help the marina management get this sorted out but at this point I think that the only thing that will work with this service provider is fire them and go with someone else. We have heard that there is a member of city council who wants to get rid of the marina and turn it into a bunch of condos. She happens to be a real estate developer. Can you spell "conflict of interest"? I am beginning to wonder if she might not have hired someone to deliberately mess with the WiFi link. Sometimes if we leave it on the site for a while it seems to stabilize so we have been able to hang out the blog postings.

Chris and Taunya went into the Fresh Market this morning with Barb and me, their one and only chance to visit it as next Tuesday Chris will be leaving in the early afternoon and I'm sure that he and Taunya will have other things on their mind. I expect that Barb and I will make the run while they do their packing.

I'm watching the economic situation here in the US with a lot of interest. It's very interesting to see the traditional American attitude towards government involvement in the day to day lives of the population. Traditional Americanism wants as little interference from the government as possible, which is one reason that they don't have socialized medicine or Medicare. However, for some reason it's OK to pour trillions of dollars into saving the auto industry or the banking industry or home mortgages. From an outsider's perspective it would appear that if you have a big enough lobby group or if you pay enough money into the right campaign fund you get government help if you need it or can get it denied if you don't want it. If it's otherwise, I sure wish someone could explain it to me. On the other hand it sure seems like creeping Canadianism. We are slowly taking over and they don't even know it. Hee, hee, hee.....

Chris and I went out to a store that sells COP toys - belt webbing, flashlights, batons, boots etc. He bought a bunch of stuff that isn't available back in Canada including some stuff to give away to friends on the force plus some frisking gloves that will protect him from cuts or punctures from inmate's weapons or needles. I even bought a few things - a really nice flashlight and a baton so I won't have to trust the quarter staff/walking stick that I have for that purpose now. We also have a catalogue in case we need to get more. The flashlight, for instance, uses really different batteries that are quite expensive in the local drug stores but relatively cheap through the store we were at this morning.

Barb got us e-tickets for Busch Gardens and printed them off for us to use, probably tomorrow. This sounds like a small undertaking but given the state of the internet WiFi connection here it was quite involved. She also did some jewellery repairs and preparation for dinner.

Taunya spent the morning working on tidy up and on a nice shade of brown. If I wouldn't be accused of being some kind of stalker, I'd have a picture up on the site. Suffice to say, she is a much better tanner than anyone else on the boat. Chris, for example, insists that his sunburn is going to magically turn brown and refuses my sunscreen. I show him my melanoma scar to no effect. I guess that he'll have to learn about UV rays and genetics the hard way as I did.

Anyway, back at Nelleke we finally were able to get the fuel filter system installed but not hooked up. Damn, that was a major undertaking! One of the issues with a smaller boat is finding space to put things, and then as time goes by and there are more and more things and a diminishing number of places to put them, still finding places to put things. This was one of those situations. Not only did we have to find a spot to install it which was in large part governed by the demands of the fuel system, but once found, we had to be able to access it both for the actual install but also to be able to change the filters and actually hook up the fuel line. None of it is easy, but it is attached to the boat.

By that time it was somewhere around four thirty which translates to Margaritaville time or Miller time or something like that, so we sat in the cockpit and drank some Buds and watched the sunset and told lies and other stories until it was time to go out for dinner. We took the gruesome twosome out to Pia's for Italian tonight and showed them what nightlife in Gulfport was like. The picture accompanying this post show the famous handbag.

The Trip (2008)
01/27/2009 | KAYTE TURNEY
It's 5 o'clock somewhere... Not 4:30 somewhere... Oh Dad...

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