Saturday, July 25, 2009

What the boat looks like

We realized that most of the folks reading this blog have never seen the boat, so we thought we'd post a few pictures. Down Time is a 36 foot power catamaran. That means she has two hulls with a bridge deck connecting them.

The cockpit has a complete view of all four corners of the boat and two comfortable seats for the crew. It also has a table and seating for four for meals, or two settees to stretch out on, depending on what you need.

Stepping down from the cockpit, you enter the main salon. To the left is the galley.

To the right is the head (boater-speak for bathroom).

The guest cabin is in the back of the boat on the same side as the head.

There is a second "guest" cabin on the other side of the boat, behind the galley, but we use it as the junk room to hold luggage, my craft projects, the computers, etc. We turned the closet in that room into a pantry.

Our cabin in in front of the main salon.

She is a very comfortable boat for two and reasonably comfortable for four. We've had as many as five adults and a dog on board at one time.

Back on the boat - almost ready to go

We're back on the boat after a 2 1/2 week visit to Cleveland and Chicago. The drive back to the boat from Cleveland started out as one plan and ended up differently. One of the joys of being retired is that you don’t have to stick to a schedule. We planned to drive the Skyline highway in Shenandoah National Park then spend the first night in a B&B in Staunton, Virginia. But we got to Shenandoah in the late afternoon in spitting rain and decided to do the drive the next morning. So we stopped in Front Royal, the town at the entrance to the park. Good thing we did, we didn’t realize that a drive of 105 miles with a 35 mile per hour speed limit could take 6 hours.

If you have never done this drive, it is one of the scenic wonders of the U.S. The park service sells a guided tour on CD that you can play in your car as you drive through. It gives you some history and describes some, but certainly not all, of the stops and overlooks on the road. We saw deer, both does and a buck, and a mother bear and her cub crossed the road right in front of our car. There are only about 200 bears living in the park and seeing one is apparently a rare event. We were lucky.

There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from easy ½ mile walks to back country overnight destinations; 95 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through Shenandoah. I walked about a ¼ mile of the Appalachian Trail, only 1,249 to go.

Having visited Fort Sumter in Charleston, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired, we decided to complete our war tour by visiting Appomattox Courthouse, where Lee surrendered to Grant. The house where the surrender was signed is a recreation. The original house was dismantled in the 1880s. Some entrepreneurs planned to ship it to Washington, re-assemble it, and charge admission to see where the war ended. But after they got it torn down, they never moved it to Washington. By the time the Park Service took over the sight, most of the house had been scavenged, so they had to build a recreation of it.

Back on the boat, we have a couple of boat repairs to make and then we’ll be ready to leave on the next leg of our trip. We may not post again for a couple of days. Oriental, NC, where we are now is a bit of a cell phone void, so we have to go to The Bean, the local coffee house, to get on the Internet. It has been a long time since I've been this removed from the online world, can't say that I like it much.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The world's smallest martini

We discovered on our drive back from Miami that you don't have to be on the water to have adventures.  When Rob and Carol joined us last weekend they raved about a restaurant they found in Florence, South Carolina, called Roger's.  So on Wednesday we drove the 650 miles from Miami to Florence in anticipation of a great, local dive, Carolina barbecue dinner.  Only to find out that Roger's is only open Thursday - Saturday.

So we asked the desk clerk at our hotel for another suggestion.  She gave us several, we visited two and chose the second.  They took our name, said it would be 20 minutes, so we went to the bar.  Now he should have known better (the most prominent feature of the bar was 100 beers nestled in ice, just waiting to be served), but Jim ordered a martini.  The bar tender poured one shot of gin in a shaker, then poured the gin into the glass, no shaking, just pouring.  The martini glass was 1/3 full.  I wish I'd had the presence of mind to whip out my cell phone and take a picture.  You wouldn't believe how puny that drink looked!  

But the gin had barely touched the ice during the pouring process so the drink was room temperature.  As Jim said, it was a good thing that it was the world's smallest martini, because it was also the world's worst martini.

Then on the drive to Oriental we discovered a barbecue place for lunch.  Good barbecue but what really set this place apart was the James Beard medal hanging on the wall by the door, complete with the invitation to attend the awards dinner in 2003, the year they won.  I've never actually seen a James Beard medal before and certainly never expected to find one on a North Carolina back road in a dumpy barbecue shack with a tin replica of the top of the Capitol building on the roof.  I love the back roads of America!