Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The flowers, bushes and trees are in full bloom now and the landscape has become very colorful. The front yard has a wide variety of gorgeous flowers that I have no idea what they are. Below are some pictures and I would love to know more about them. Send an email or leave a comment below if they look familiar. Thanks!

I have always admired this bush and it produces small apples in the fall, but not as small as crab apples.

I have two different colored trillium...

Right next to the trillium is a handful of these tiny little white flowers.

Then there are these blue flowers next to the daffodils. Are they blue bells perhaps?

Lining the whole rock wall near the road are a different kind of blue flower...

Until I find out more about all these beauties, I will just enjoy them on my daily walks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back Again

We are back in Glenville after a 525 mph jet trip from Daytona to Albany. Gee, I thought going 70 mph seemed way too fast?!

We haven’t had internet at the Pashley Rd. house until now, so that’s why there haven’t been any recent postings. Verizon DSL with a router just got hooked up and we are amazed how fast the connection is, despite the fact that this is supposed to be the slow service. It's all relative to what we are used to though.

It has been fun getting settled in and finding where everything is. Dave and all his great helpers did a fantastic job of moving all our possessions here. Our new refrigerator/freezer, washer, and dryer have been delivered. We have a small table and chairs for the kitchen and a sectional sofa for the living room being delivered this week also. A new television and surround sound stereo system will complete our major acquisitions.

My biggest decision has been what rugs to buy for the wood floors (thank goodness there is a Lowe’s nearby and they don’t mind returns). We have tried several different ones. There are so many sizes, colors, and patterns. It’s almost like the story of Goldilocks. The first was too big, the second too small and would get dirty too easily. I'm hoping that the third will be just right. I have my eye on one for the living room now, but will wait until the couch arrives. The dining room also needs a rug, but once again the sizes are wrong for the area. We’ll keep looking and like Dave said, “You’ll know it’s right when you take one look and go ‘gaga’ over it.” The same can be said for the window treatments that I can’t decide on either, but that is a whole other story in itself! Pictures for the walls? We won't even go there! Once we have it all pulled together though, I will be sure to post some pictures. Meanwhile it has been interesting shopping and I am really enjoying driving my PT Cruiser convertible again.

We’ve both been working on grooming the trails on our 25 acres of land behind the house and motorcycle shop. There are plenty of branches to pick up and trimming to be done, but it wasn’t half as bad as previous years. What a nice surprise to come back and find that Karl had already done some chainsawing and even power blew all the leaves from the shop driveway. This really made it easy for Dave to prepare for the business to reopen this week.

It’s hard to believe that we have only been home for a eight days. We even took a quick trip up to the Adirondack Mountains to check on the house in Ticonderoga. It made it through the winter just fine and luckily the sump pump continued to work and the cellar was dry. The clay soil is so fertile that the lawn even had to mowed already. We won’t be back up there for a couple of weeks, since it’s still too chilly for recreation, so for now we will concentrate on getting our new estate in shape.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yee Haw!

Wow! We have returned to Daytona and what a rush it was driving here from Ft. Lauderdale. 70 mph on I-95 in a car is a lot faster than the 8 mph that we are used to on the Sea of Abaco in the boat! I've actually been quite dizzy on land trying to get used to not floating anymore. Tonight we went to Lowe's, and we just stood there with our mouths agape at the quantity and choices of all the products. This was just an introduction before we get to Walmart and really get overwhelmed. We sure are glad to be back!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spanish Cay

Before heading back to New Horizon after our Powell Cay trip, we decided to go to the next island north called Spanish Cay. This is where our Bahamas cruising history began in 1987. It is now a resort and marina, but back then it was owned by Clint Murchison who owned a football team. He rarely came to the island but he had father and son caretakers look after it for him. In the middle of Spanish Cay there is a small protected harbor, but it has a very shallow entrance. As we were headed back to the U.S. in our 28ft. sailboat, a nasty cold front was bearing down on us. We decided to take refuge and anchor there despite the fact that our guide book said that the owner discouraged people from doing just that. We were having problems getting our anchor to hold in the silt covered rock bottom, and at one point I looked up to see a man on a dock waving us over. We went over to talk to him, and I was sure he was going to tell us to leave, but to our surprise he invited us to the dock! He said with the cold front that was coming and the anchor holding so bad, that we might as well dock now, because that’s where we would drag down to anyway. We ended up staying 4 days and what an experience we had. This was the son of the caretaker and he was by himself and lonely. He had a jeep and a Doberman dog that was a wimp (he was really quite funny), and he took us for tours of the island, and even to his house for dinner and hot showers. For ‘payment’ we helped him with his baby sea turtle project. He had collected eggs and hatched them, keeping them in a pen until they were large enough to survive on their own. The tiny turtles’ shells kept getting moldy, so we all sat there with toothbrushes and cleaned their shells. All the while he was regaling us with stories of visitors, beach finds (bales of pot and messages in bottles, among others), and the drug running days. The 70’s and 80’s were known for drug running in the Bahamas, but the problem had almost been eliminated by the late 80’s. Spanish Cay has a paved airplane runway on it, and the drug smugglers would radio small boats to meet them there to exchange contraband. This almost always happened at night and they would sometimes crash or miss the runway and end up in the sea. There are still remains of planes underwater and Dave even snorkeled on one this past trip.
Now the trend seems to be stealing go-fast and large center console boats with at least twin engines on them to smuggle not only drugs, but illegal aliens in. No matter how hard they try, it’s a never ending battle for the authorities.

Powell Cay

Instead of waiting until I get back to Daytona, I am going to write two more posts for the blog about our adventures this past week. My internet connection is quite good right now and it will be a busy few days while we are visiting my family.

One day, while anchored at Manjack Cay, we decided to do some small boat explorations north of the island. We stopped for a picnic lunch at Powell Cay.
As we headed closer to shore we saw white birds flying erratically in the air. As we sat and watched, we realized we were seeing Tropic Birds with their gorgeous long tails. It must be mating season and they apparently had nests in the holes of the rock bluffs next to the beach. I must have tried taking about 50 pictures of these gorgeous white and black birds. Thank goodness for digital pictures and the delete button, because when I put them in the computer I ended up with about 5 good pictures and the rest were all just lovely views of blue sky! At least I did get a few good ones out of the bunch.

This is another island with nice beaches on both sides of it, and while I explored the bay side, Dave found a ‘jungle’ trail to the ocean.
He came back to get me and we both took the ¼ mile trail back over to the ocean side. I was really watching my footing while going over the rocks and even a marsh, but at one point I looked up to see an emerald hummingbird land on a branch in front of me. As I turned on my camera, he took off, but amazingly I got a picture of him in flight! If you click on the picture you can see it better.

I left Dave exploring the ocean beach and as I wandered back to the dinghy, I found a rather interesting shrine near a rock wall. In case the picture isn’t readable, it says Cathy Swedenborg loved this island, with her birth/death dates.

Then as I walked further there was a sign pointing to the Bluff Trail, which I couldn’t resist. The view from the top was spectacular and you could see all the way to Cooperstown on mainland Abaco.

Yes, that’s another tropic bird in the picture. It was quite a feat for me to get close enough to the edge to take these pictures of the water below, since I don’t like heights. Well worth the trip though.

On the trail back to safe ground, I came across this huge hermit crab in a tulip shell. I think he was getting as bit too big for this shell and it was time for him to find a new home.

Next stop Spanish Cay…

Manjack Cay

Since I wrote last, we have not had internet for more than a week. We left Hope Town on a flat calm morning at dawn. It was spectacular with the full moon setting and the sun rising at the same time.

We arrived in the Don’t Rock Passage right at high tide and there were only long swells with no waves breaking. Right behind us was Bill on his sailboat Interim and we guided him through this shallow water channel for the first time. Now he knows exactly where the deepest water is and he can proudly state that he is not a Don’t Rock virgin anymore.
Bill and his crew Brendan continued on to cross the Gulf Stream while Dave and I took the Manjack Cay ‘exit’ off the Sea of Abaco.

Manjack Cay is a large island that only has a few houses on it, and the only power that they have is from generators. However, one homeowner who is a former cruiser himself, used to provide wifi internet for boaters in the anchorage. Unfortunately the Bahamas Government didn’t like that and they blocked his internet. Now an internet provider is going to install a new antenna and provide wifi for a fee. Many people will be in for a shock next time they anchor there and find it now costs $20 per day. This is a major stop for boaters who have either just crossed the Gulf Stream or are on their way back. It was a great stopping place to contact family. Now everyone will most likely travel on to Green Turtle Cay, which is about 5 miles away. Dave and I stopped by one of the resorts at Green Turtle in our dinghy and got our 41 emails for 50 cents a minute. The plus side is that the resort had a phone that worked really well, and when I called my mother she said I sounded like I was already in Daytona.

Anyway, Manjack Cay is protected from the easterly winds that we had, and the weather during the week we were there was gorgeous. The anchorage is huge so the boats can all spread out, and it is very quiet and serene.

The same homeowner who used to provide internet owns a huge piece of land and has made wide trails to the ocean beach and also to a bluff point overlooking the Sea of Abaco, where he has placed a park bench.

In the distance every morning we can hear the owner’s pet roosters and chickens, which is so Bahamas-like.

It is also a great place to kayak in lots of tidal creeks through the mangroves and over sandbars.

There is a park a few coves to the north, where the local dive shop has trained a couple of stingrays to come over and be hand fed.
There is also another nature trail across the island to the ocean here, and boaters paint the name of their boats on items that have floated in. Then they hang them from the rafters at a gazebo at the start of the trail.

Manjack Cay was a perfect place to decompress from the hubbub of Hope Town and clean and decommission the boat for storage. Tomorrow New Horizon will be hauled out on dry land and ready for the hurricane season. Meanwhile (after spending a few days visiting family in Daytona and then flying back north) Dave and I are ready to settle in at the Pashley Rd. house and get on with our spring and summer activities. I have written a couple of other stories about our explorations and adventures which I will post from Daytona.