05 October 2020 | Manteo Waterfront marina
03 October 2020 | Manteo Waterfront Marina
02 October 2020 | Manteo Waterfront Marina
01 October 2020 | North River, NC Anchorage
01 October 2020 | Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge, VA
30 September 2020 | Ocean Yacht Marina
29 September 2020 | Ocean Yacht Marina
27 September 2020 | Old Point Comfort Marina
26 September 2020 | Old Point Comfort Marina, Fort Monroe, VA
25 September 2020 | Fort Monroe
24 September 2020 | Fort Monroe
22 September 2020 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
22 September 2020 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
21 September 2020 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
20 September 2020 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
13 September 2020 | Horn Harbor Marina
24 May 2020 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
22 October 2019 | Hudgins Horn Harbor Marina
21 October 2019 | Crazy Crab Restaurant
20 October 2019 | Crazy Crab Restaurant
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
15 March 2023 | Home
Brooke Smith | clear 51º
15º when we wake up - and 55º when we get home.
We drive to the other side of the canyon to a parking area that was completely cleaned and get our trekking poles out to move through the deep snow to the edge of the canyon for a few pictures. Then it’s back into the Outback and we start the descent from Davis down to Wardensville.
Suddenly we noticed there is no more snow on the ground about 35 miles from our start. The temperature is also above freezing and the snow that had been trapped under the windshield wipers melts away. And like that, our winter trip is abruptly ended. No, we still have to drive on I-81, 66, 17, & I-95.
But our beautiful scenery turns into windmill lined mountain tops everywhere. Some believe that the windmills are green. Scenic Overlook ahead it says. I pull in there and all I see are windmills along the ridge of all the mountains as far as I can see. No way can I take a nature scene. The switchback roads built on the side of the mountains to get them don’t look too green with erosion evident. And, the windmills destroy beautiful panoramic photography. I’ve got to figure how to remove the windmills with some software magic.
BTW, Mount Storm, the coal fired power plant, had only water vapor disappearing out of it’s stacks - no smoke at all. All the sounding area strip mines had been backfilled as they were depleted look nice with tall forests of fir trees. You certainly can tell where the strip mines were if you look hard enough because there are hardwood forests on either side of fir tree forests. I bet most people wouldn't have a clue. Green wind power or dirty coal esthetics? The strip mine forests look much better than the tops of all the mountains littered with the windmills as far as you can see. At least it was beautiful at Blackwater Falls State Park. They haven’t windmilled that yet.
Yikes I-95 3:00PM-ish Fredericksburg to I-295. WAZE driving app says get on. I’m not so sure as I merge onto 6 or 7 lanes of southbound traffic. I couldn’t really take the time to count. The usual mile backup at route 3 exit ( Culpepper I believe ). Hectic last 45 miles down I-95. Whew! Kind of undoes our zen of Blackwater Falls State park.
Today’s picture is a canyon view with the sun shining. The snow storm is over and so is our trip.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
14 March 2023 | Blackwater Lodge
Brooke Smith | 15° and partly cloudy
We woke at 9:00AM! That’s a record for us. Usually 6:30 or 7:00AM my aches say it’s time to get up. I guess the mountain air and our cold weather trail hike were good for sleep. It’s 17º this morning and the wind is blowing the snow around. Oh yea, it’s still snowing too. It continued to snow all day and into the night. The temperature never got above 20º.
After lunch we suited up to go for a short hike on the Ekalaka trail and when we got outside the wind and snow were just too much, We needed goggles which are at home. And, if it’s gotten to goggle and face covering conditions it’s no fun. So, we hopped into the Outback and cleaned it off with our gloves. The snow was so fluffy a leaf blower would have cleaned the car quickly. So, add the leaf blower to my snow preparedness next year.
We drove to the other side of the canyon to the gift shop to pick up a few stickers and Susan wanted another jigsaw puzzle. We then took a drive through the town of Thomas just to see if anything had changed and what shops were open. The mainstay Purple Fiddle wasn’t even open. It was maybe early for the fiddle and late for the small craft shops.
So, we stopped by the Billy Motel bar for some conversation and then back to the lodge for dinner and a little TV.
My goal for coming up to the mountains was to get away from the normal daily routine and clear my mind. Tried to keep the TV off. No news is good for the soul. We did watch the local weather forecast but that was it.
We head back home Wednesday morning all refreshed. I guess the next thing pressing is doing our taxes. Yep taxes.
Today’s picture is the park road. Packed snow is good to drive on.
Monday, March 13, 2023
13 March 2023 | Blackwater Lodge
Brooke Smith | Snowing, windy and cold
Still snowing. Flurries mainly. At breakfast we had a wonderful view of the canyon from the restaurant right here at Blackwater Lodge. A little snow now now and then. The spruce forest is beautiful. It’s 29º at breakfast and expected to hold or drop from there throughout the day.
We got a late start and the next thing we know it’s time for lunch leftovers from last night. Ugh, we’ve eaten too much it seems. But we are planning some exercise. After lunch and getting suited up we head for the Lindy Point trail. Hopefully we can drive to the parking area. In the past the road to the Lindy Parking parking area has been closed due to snow. We are in luck the road is snow covered but open and we avoid the close to 1 mile walk to the trail head. The cut trail to the overlook is through about 12’ high mountain laurel. What a site this must be in July when they are in bloom. We’ve never been here then. The deep mountain laurel afford us shelter from the wind as we walk to the canyon overlook. We are steadied by our trekking poles. We are quite along the trail when I remember the back pack that has water and neck warmers and extra clothing. We are pretty warm with walking heat - the temperature now around 25º. It is so quiet with no birds or any wildlife evident. Everything is asleep it seems for winter. Spring is very soon though and things will be different in a few weeks. We finally get to the canyon. The wind is picking up and it’s definitely cold. But it feels healthy and renewing. And, that is why we are here.
We take a few pictures of the canyon and river below, take in the stunning scenery and the cold turns us around back up the trail to the car.
We drive into the town of Davis to get a snow scraper for the car. Yep, when it’s pretty much spring at home you forget the snow scraper. The Dollar General only has a huge scraper / brush with an extension handle for $10. I decide not to buy that thing and will just use the bottom of the plastic bottle of glass cleaner I have in the car. It worked earlier. We are only here until Wednesday!
We scout out where we will have dinner tonight. It’s Monday and most everything is closed. We drop by the Billy Motel Bar for a drink and conversation with the bartender about dinner. I have Red Needle ( Leonard Cohen drink ) and Susan has a Negroni. The Billy motel bar is another place you can just escape. Very, very cool. We are the only customers. It is MONDAY you know. And, then a few people start showing up for drinks. A mixture of locals, nature hikers, skiers and others for conversation and some to check into the 10 room Billy Motel. Yep, it’s that small. After our drink we dine just down the street at the only place open, Siriani’s Pizza and Italian. It’s a cash only place. We are seeing more places taking cash only with their own ATM if you don’t have cash. The spaghetti is great tasting and plenty. Box up the rest of it and back to our room in Blackwater Lodge. Trying to keep the TV off and not look at any news while we are here. The big news for us is the weather forecast. Snow showers throughout the night with a low of 19º. High of 23º windy and snowy all day tomorrow. Perfect escape. Just perfect.
Today’s picture is the canyon view at Lindy Point.
Sunday, March 12, 2023 Canaan Valley, WV Trip
13 March 2023 | Blackwater Lodge
Brooke Smith | SNOWING
We looked at the forecast and feeling snow deprived this winter suddenly jumped in the Outback heading for Canaan, WV. It was just about that fast a decision. We'd lost a friend this week and there seems to be nothing like mountain air cleaned by snow to renew the spirit.
I've been going to Canaan since 1972. It's a place where you can just let your mind go into neutral and take in nature. And, so as we turned off 66 onto I81 yesterday it started snowing. Most people hope they are going to get to their destination before the snow gets too deep. We just marvel at snow hitting the windshield. It was 45º when we left home and now it was dropping fast from 37º to 29º. Susan and I were as happy as school children knowing school would be canceled tomorrow in our way past childhood memories.
We stop in Wardensville, WV for lunch at the Kac-Ka-Pon restaurant with the after church regulars starring at us like in some movie. ( What are you doing in our restaurant? kind of looks. Their necks able to tun like an owl ) Well, what kind of town is named Wardensville? Must have beens lots of wardens that lived there.
Back into the Outback and the steady climb starts. WV route 48 is built by interstate standards. Except the road goes nowhere with very little traffic on it. Wardensville to Davis, WV. We are thankful for the smooth 5% grades and excellent road conditions that West Virginia is famous for. We encounter patches of snow and then climb into the clouds and then the intrastate highway ends at a stop sign Davis,WV to the left and Thomas, WV to the right. Kind of a profound moment as both towns have a population of about 600 people.
We turn left and head to Whitegrass Ski Touring Center. ( Whitegrass Touring Center
) One of the most interesting ski areas around. All natural snow when they have it. Chip Chase discovered the abandoned Weis Knob Alpine ski area and built it into what is wonderful experience. We got hot chocolate and spiced apple cider. Also, in a big water cooler was maple water to drink. You boil that down to make maple syrup. Anyhow, this place just has a great vibe about it and we love going there for Chip and his crew, food and scenery.
We headed on to Blackwater Lodge for our room. Blackwater Lodge is located Blackwater Falls State Park and is another beautiful area with hiking trails, water falls and lots of big spruce trees. More about Blackwater Lodge another time.
Today's picture is one of the old wood stoves that heat Whitegrass Ski Center.
Monday, October 24, 2022
24 October 2022 | Stairway To Heaven, Ocracoke, NC
BROOKE SMITH | gray and misty
If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans. God, our plans are to go to Ocracoke by our boat Liquid Therapy for the Pirate Jamboree in Ocracoke. He laughed, We didn’t.
Susan has been having a hard time with asthma. Scary hard time. Enough about that.
Instead of coming to Ocracoke on Liquid Therapy, we came by land and some sea vessel as well today. Susan is much better, but I couldn’t keep thinking suppose she has an attack when we are 20 miles from any dock. What I’ve seen is very alarming and we were told by the doctor and pharmacist not a good idea. The 4 day travel is grueling and requires strength that is fading from both of us. We still love Liquid Therapy and will keep her for weekend and close cruising.
So, Today we left our house for a 4 hour land cruise to the Swan Quarter Ferry that we needed to check in by 1PM. Instead of my trusty chart plotter I’m using iPhone google maps. Not as friendly as WAZE, but we wanted to go a path that Waze doesn’t want to travel. That is, we wanted to avoid I64 to Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and the terrible traffic of the Outer Banks, NC. We took the back roads through Franklin and lots of huge cotton fields in NC. Very nice trip with NO traffic at all. And, at 1:30PM a very nice ride on a ferry for 2 hours and 40 minutes to Ocracoke.
Yes, we rented a cottage instead of staying on our wonderful Liquid Therapy in the marina. We love the marina life. But guess what? The cottage life is great too. We drove to the marina and chatted with our friendly dock masters and saw the slip we had reserved with another boat in it. That was kind of a bummer.
We got to our cottage named, get this, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. At our age we were not sure what was going to happen to us climbing the stairs over and over to bring in 6 months of supplies for a week stay. WE could have succumbed any time. I hinted that we could afford to pay the 10¢ more for a loaf of bread here in Ocracoke rather than buying the bread in Mechanicsville. But like it was ingrained in us from teen years Susan had to buy everything at our local stores, bring it home, bring it in the house, pack it back into bags to go back into the Subaru, up the Stairway To Heaven;’s long steps !????!!! Was I perplexed? YEP! But hey we saved lots of money driving to BJs, Aldi and Kroger. I’m sure it was a wise move. YEP!?
Actually we had so much stuff I couldn’t pack the cooler for fishing. That’s ok I never catch anything anyhow.
The drive was wonderful through the back woods and cotton fields. Until, well, I had to pee. At 73 urgency happens. Uncomfortably we pulled in some little convenience store to PEE in a town I HAVE NO IDEA THE NAME OF. And then as I got out I reached for my wallet that I take out of my back pocket cause it hurts me with all that wad of money in it. And, I discover as I’m about to wet my pants I can’t find it. HUMM in the fog of packing the entire Outback, did I leave my wallet at home? I’ve got everything else. I man EVERYTHING, except maybe my wallet. Pee over comes me and I lock the door to go into the convenience store and find the bathroom right away. And, I go. And go, and go, Uh like olden do. And the urologist has said to linger a while longer when you think you’ve finished. I dribble a bit more. Hey, you guys know what I’m talking bout and the girls, all you have sneeze pee problems too. So, there.
So I feel guilty peeing and not having my wallet to buy something for the use of their bathroom. Don’t want the next car pulling in and seeing a sign ” Bathrooms For Customers only”
With my head clear of pee urgency I go to the Outback to see if I really left my wallet at home. $hit I hope that didn’t happen. I find the wallet not where I remember placing it. I guess cognitive tests when I get home. Anyhow, I go in and buy a cold Starbuck Cappuccino or something like that for use of the bathroom. $4+00. I don’t care. Peeing was worth $4.00
We make it to Swan Quarter, NC where the ferry is and wow on a Monday we find a little deli open. ( Whops kind out of sequence but I had another urgent peeing attack before Swan Quarter and peed on a farm road next to cotton filed. I hope the cotton is still white.)
Anyhow, we had a nice sandwich and home made chips and headed to the ferry landing with 10 minutes to spare.
“ Oh can we go to the local post office and mail these halloween cards? “ Susan knows EXACTLY WHERE THE POST OFIICE IS” No she doesn’t and a phone call confused me so much I thought I was going to have to pee again before the ferry. Confused Goole Maps was yelling for us to turn this way and that. Never found the Post office and couldn’t get google maps back on track to take us the giant 1 mile distance left to the ferry dock.
We got on the ferry and the ride was nice. We also exclaimed how calm the Pamlico Sound was and what a wonderful travel day it would have been on Liquid Therapy. I was most interested as the ferry enters the Big Slough channel that is such a pain for Liquid Therapy to negotiate. Blackbeard used to out maneuver and make other boats run around here. There was guy with me overlooking the bow and I was exclaiming to him how treacherous this channel is. He told me he was an observer for Army Corp Engineering and they were going to dredge. It really doesn’t help for very long because if you tell God your plans, He laughs.
Today’s picture is a picture inside Howard’s Pub in Ocracoke where we ate dinner. We have friends in Key West and I thought this flag odd in Ocracoke.
Saturday, June 11, 2022
12 June 2022 | Coinjock Marina
Brooke Smith | calm
”Diesels love their oil like a Sailor loves his rum!" 'Yes they do!...Why is that Captain Ron?!' "Nobody knows”.
That is one of my favorite scenes in Captain Ron. I think about that every morning when I’m doing my engine room check. And, I do have to add oil to the engine some times. Not like the Captain Ron boat that needed oil every morning before they set out. My Lehman diesel is very unsophisticated. No turbo! No common rail computer controlled injectors. It is a very simple engine. Six cylinders 380 cubic inches and only 120 HP. The engine is as old as the boat, 43 years old. But, it is the most reliable machine on the boat and I take care of it. After our 10 hour bouncy trip up the Pamlico Sound I suspected some crud from the 43 year old fuel tanks may have been stirred up and sure enough the primary filter had what appeared to be some water in the settling bowl. The settling bowl probably holds 12 oz of diesel so the small amount was not really an issue. I drained it and it may have been 1 oz of water and some particles of whatever. I did not get a chance to do my spring engine maintenance before we left on our Ocracoke trip. But the engine wasn’t quite at it’s recommended oil change etc time anyway.
So, yesterday’s trip from Manteo was EASY. The Albemarle Sound was like glass. On one 14 mile leg I worked the WORDLE puzzle that has taken the country by storm. That thing is hard to figure out. But I got it solved in 4 rows yesterday.
And, then my eyes started playing tricks on me. Way off in the distance there appeared to be a large cruise ship on the western side of the sound. It’s a UMO! Kind of like an UFO only Marine. I looked with binoculars and it still looked like a cruise ship. I check my AIS and then is nothing shown on that bearing from us. The biggest thing I’ve heard chatter on the radio was with the Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier in the Atlantic not far from us. But, nothing could I see or hear about a cruise ship stuck in the Albemarle Sound. I consult google maps and then it looks like I’m looking up toward Elizabeth City where this cruise ship could be. I only see a channel with 11 feet of water. So, I get out my real camera with the most powerful lens and snap a few pictures. I realize that whatever that object is it’s still going to be fuzzy but maybe I’ll be able to figure it out when I blow up the pictures.
So, today’s picture is the fuzzy blown up cruise ship up near Elizabeth City, NC on the Pasquotank River. Maybe?