Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Merry Christmas

Well, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.
We started off our day pretty early...Jeff was up at 6:30 am and we were opening presents by 7.
The dog was a big help in the present opening!

Later, we had a great day at friends, Andy and Suzi's house.

Matt and Kendra joined us, as did Andy's son, Michael.

We made a huge pot of homemade spaghetti sauce and copious amounts of meatballs. It wasn't a white Christmas as a lot of you had, but it was a warm Christmas. Temperatures rose to the mid 70's and we spent time out on the deck, canal side, soaking up the sun and enjoying good company.
Be patient, and perhaps I'll get those recipes posted on the What's for Dinner blog.

If you like eggnog, I posted an interesting recipe here:
Tropical Eggnog
It should warm you up and give you a bit of the feel of the Keys. Enjoy.

Oh...and in the meantime, I got a job.
Yes, you read it right. I am now a cashier at The Home Depot. I've finished up most of my training and have spent 2 days on a register all by myself. I've even received my first paycheck. Pretty exciting.

So there's a quick holiday blog...
With any luck, the next blog will be about us putting the boat back in the water. let's keep our fingers crossed.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another Update...

Well, it's December and the boat still isn't back in the water. It's coming along though even if it's not as quickly as one could hope. They say we could be done Friday but then the paint will have to harden for several days before it can be put on the lift or the dog allowed to come aboard. At that point, we will start the laborious process of putting everything back together from the rigging, to the electric, to the propane, to the doors and drawers...the list just goes on.

In the meantime, we're still living in "The Cottage" right on US 1.

November 13th was Aviation Day at the Marathon Airport [conveniently located right across the street!] and my friend, Cindy, and I took in the exhibitions along with her son, Chris.

This is us on the Coast Guard boat.

We've also been having a good time following our friends, Chris & Randy, and their growing success as The Barnacles.

This is us at Burdines. It seemed like most of the harbor turned out for this particular event!

Karen had a birthday on the 14th of November and we had a great party at the tiki hut with BBQ ribs for dinner and jello shots for dessert. We went all out with cake, balloons, silly string, a grass skirt, a tiara, and a crown as well.

Jeff's birthday was the 15th, but he threw his back out and wasn't up for much celebrating. We had a quiet dinner at home and we'll just pick another day in the near future that he can pretend is his birthday and we'll go whoop it up somewhere.

I also had a project to complete.
I'd been waiting for weeks for the boatyard to repair, prep, and spray the faceboards that go on the front of the boat.
Jeff and I refinished these boards 3 years ago with store bought spray paint and gold leaf paint. It held up for a while but then faded and tarnished.
This time, we decided we were going to do them right!

I ordered the thin sheets of gold leaf and other supplies off the internet and found myself a very still place in the garage to work.
Any breeze at all can be quite detrimental for this delicate work.
I double-leafed both boards to a beautiful golden sheen and they have since been sprayed with a protective clear-coat.

I can't wait to see them on the boat. They should be quite striking with the new paint job.

For Thanksgiving, we decided to make the 1201.4 mile trek to Louisville, Ky. The plan was that I would pack up the car and the dog and I would pick Jeff up from work at 6pm and we would hit the road. At the very last minute, I had a bit of a panic attack about how much stuff was actually going to fit in the car and still give us room to stretch out. I called our friends Hilary and Charles [S/V Ship of Fools] who graciously dropped what they were doing to come hook me up with their "space case." It looked like a rocket on the top of the car, but it held all our luggage and stuff giving us plenty of room to sprawl out.

One of the best parts of the drive was falling asleep in the wee, dark hours and waking up to FALL. I miss leaves turning colors and that brisk chill in the air.

We arrived in Kentucky on Monday in the early afternoon [just under 19 hours] to a beautiful, sunshiney day. An hour later, we went out to unload the car only to find the left rear tire completely flat! At least we made it there!

Jeff's niece, Lainey, came over on Tuesday to spend the afternoon and give Jeff a lesson on hoola-hooping. Later, the rest of the family joined us and we ordered a couple of fabulous pizzas from a new place called DiOrio's.

On Wednesday, while Jeff ran errands, my friend, Georgia, and I went to Lynn's Paradise Cafe, a perennial favorite and Louisville landmark, for some breakfast and catching up. My next stop was to my former employers, The Rooks-Rapport family, for a quick chat and to find a warm pair of boots out my things still in their basement before they rushed off to catch a plane to Chicago for their holiday gathering. Then it was back to the house for me to help Jeff's mom, Denise, prepare the holiday meal. We made pies, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, dressing, and dip...all for the following day. Later that evening, my friend, Angela, came for a visit and we all sat in the kitchen sipping bourbon and having a nice time.

The good weather was not long to last, and on Thursday, our traditional Thanksgiving Day bonfire in the backyard was a little soggy. Luckily, there was enough time in the early hours to get the fire started before the sun rose and the rain started. With the help of an ample supply of umbrellas, we all enjoyed the fire despite the frequent downpours.

As expected, the meal was fabulous...
...shared in good company and with a kids table for the first time ever!

Back row left to right: Jeff, me, Christy, Rob, Grayson [age 2]
Front row left to right: Denise, Kelly, Lainey [age 5], Allison, Dan, Lincoln [age 3]

That evening, I headed up to my Dad's, about an hour west of Louisville. My brother and his family had driven from North Carolina and I was excited to see my niece, Maddie Jean.
I called ahead to say I was running late and there was no way I could touch another bite so eat without me. Little did I know at that time that my car wasn't going to start. It was pouring down rain and I had a dead battery. Joy. Kelly graciously offered me his vehicle and I was back on track.

Maddie was waiting for me when I arrived in all of her 2-year old exuberance. We spent the evening just laughing and being silly.

And of course there was pie. Pumpkin and cherry.
Since Maddie helped make them, I had to have a bit of each.
Had to.
And they were both delicious.

The next day, we were off to nearby Santa Claus, Indiana, to find the great man in red. Our first stop, the Christmas Store contained everything you could possibly imagine for Christmas...except for Santa.

He was running a bit behind schedule but we were told we could probably catch him at a nearby candy store.

So we were off in pursuit of Ho Ho.

And we found him at the candy store.

Maddie showed no fear as she climbed up on his lap and told him what she wanted for Christmas.
She even went back for a big hug as we were leaving.

Then it was back to the house for a bit of lunch...turkey fritters made with left-overs and a bit of lounging about.

That evening found us having family dinner at The Black Buggy in Jasper, an Amish buffet and bakery.

Saturday morning I headed back to Louisville after a bit of breakfast.
My brother and his wife, Jolene, along with Maddie stopped by for a quick visit and then it was time to say goodbye as they started off back to North Carolina.

Jeff had his last fire going in the barrel in the backyard and it was hard to pack up and leave.

Especially, when Angela showed up with bloody mary mix and her son, Kory, in tow.

But, eventually, we all had places we had to be so Jeff and I hit the road and headed for The Chamber's Farm near Leitchfield, Kentucky.

Our friends, Donnie and Janet, have been to the boat multiple times and it was our turn to visit them.

They were ready for us too, with a giant pile of debris just waiting to be lit. Just a little before sunset, we lit the blaze and it burned well into the next morning. It was quite chilly that day with a bit of frost on the ground in the morning so the fire provided a nice, warm gathering place.

One of the best features of the Chamber's Farm is the chickens. Jeff and I were up early the next morning and went out to check out the coop. The birds were making quite the racket...roosters cock-a-doodling, hens squawking, and guinea hens making the weird noises that guinea hens make.
Janet has a lot of exotic chickens that I have never seen or even heard of before, including a pair that lay blue and green eggs.

Janus had a good time checking out the birds and trying to figure out a way in. They all seemed to be checking him out as well.
He feels right at home on The Chamber's Farm.

Donnie was up shortly after us and started in the kitchen making us all breakfast of steaks, croissants, and farm-fresh eggs. The eggs always taste best at Donnie and Janet's!

After breakfast, we all set off on a mid-morning hike. We started off through the back field, around the pond, and then through the woods, down a hill until we came to the site of the spring where the farm's water comes from. Then it was down to the road and around some of the surrounding properties. Scenically located above Rough River, the walk provided us with splendid views of the area.

We all should have known that when we went downhill that we would have to eventually come back up but I don't think any of us realized where the Chamber's were leading us. The first part of the climb was quite an incline, but at least we were on pavement. The second part found our party practically crawling straight up a thickly wooded hillside, climbing over rocks and logs and sifting through branches, fallen leaves, and briars.

We all made it up [barely] and then back to the house to recover from our forced climb.

The afternoon found us eating chili and lounging about watching movies...
...resting up for the long haul back to Marathon.

We were off the next day, hours before the sun rose, and pulled into "The Cottage" around 2am.
Another 19 hours in the car completed.

We had a really, wonderful time while visiting over the holiday.
Between the family, the food, the friends, and the fires, you just couldn't beat it!
It was great to see everybody!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So Close

I know it's been a while since I've written anything about the life on the S/V Exposure. I guess the problem is that life is still not taking place on the boat but in yet one more of a string of temporary land dwellings. We just moved in to our third "apartment"...I hesitate to use that term to describe our newest residence. The landlord calls it a "Cottage." It's really just a room with a frig, oven, sink, bed, and a bathroom. It's located right next to the roar of US1 with a stunning view of the airport. To call it a cottage leaves much to the imagination.

I am hoping we won't be here for long.

In the meantime, in between the torrential rains and high winds - both a deterrent for getting work done in a boatyard - the S/V Exposure is starting to come together. We've completed the interior painting of the ceilings and walls and the floor has been sanded and refinished as well as all the inside woodwork.
All the wood on the doors and drawers has been newly varnished and all the Formica inserts have a new faux finish.
It's a brand new boat on the inside...we're just waiting now on the outside.

The exterior of the hull has been sanded, primered, washed, and prepped and this past Wednesday actually sprayed with 3 shiny, new coats of paint.
The new color is a creamy, off-white a few shades brighter than the previous color. Once that has time to cure a bit, they'll tape her off and spray the burgundy colored strip. Weather pending, the decks and cockpit will get painted next. The prop still needs to be sent for reconditioning and the cutlass bearing needs replacing. Then the very last thing before splashing will be a coat of black bottom paint.

Jeff and I still have a few projects of our own to complete such as reinstalling the sink and all the lights and electrical outlets. Its my plan to gold leaf the scroll-work on the front faceboards just as soon as they get sprayed black and then I'll send them back for clear-coating before they get reattached to the front of the boat. Then it's just a matter of getting everything put back together.

But it hasn't been all work and no play since the boat came out of the water on August 12th.

There was a Girl's Brunch that lasted all day- one of our many gatherings to say "Bon Voyage!" to Megan [& Bob]; a couple of parties at the tiki hut; a birthday dinner for Matt, our friend and newest Marina employee [rotisserie ribs and chocolate pie]; and we spent the day in Key West with our good friends from Kentucky, Donnie and Janet, who arrived by cruise ship.

And with the inclement weather, being off the boat has had a few advantages. The air-conditioning has kept us nice and cool and the roof has kept us nice and dry while we spent a couple of lazy, rainy days reading books and watching movies on the big screen. The last place even had a washer and dryer...very exciting.

We've been warned that this new place has a tendency to take on water [i.e. it floods] when it rains real that's almost like being on a boat right?

We're close. We're just not there yet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress, a Party, and a Fish Story

Well, we are making progress on the S/V Exposure. After 9 days of sanding, vacuuming, wiping, taping, and a complete evacuation of the contents of the boat, we've spent another 6 days or so laying multiple coats of Cetol Natural Teak onto all the wood and it's looking good. Apparently, in the process of doing so, I have developed boatyard induced tourettes, with the curse words amply flying when something doesn't go quite my way. One of the biggest problems has been not dripping sweat onto the finish in the 90+ degree heat, and not bumping into wet areas while hitting some of the tighter spots has proven to be quite the challenge as well.

But, we still have a long way to go with primering and painting ceiling and walls and the outside of the boat is only going to get done weather pending and we have had quite the rainy season.
[Monsoon season?]

Jeff has gotten quite a bit done on the outside, stripping the decks of hardware and lines, and painstaking drilling and filling all the cracks topsides.

We're checking in to extending our stay at the apartment for another month although I've become a little apprehensive of our temporary abode after watching a scorpion walk across the floor late the other night and disappear under the refrigerator. From now on, I am sitting at the computer with the can of wasp and hornet spray with the 27 foot jet stream [Yes, scorpion is listed on the can.] and there will be no walking around barefoot. I keep telling myself that one scorpion does not an infestation make...but it's still creepy.

The wasp and hornet spray has been all but used up at this point on actual wasps. When we first arrived at the apartment, Jeff did a fine job of spraying all the pre-existing nests of the stinging little beasts but they apparently decided to go into stealth mode and make new nests under all the outdoor furniture. Last night when I sat down I was immediately stung and after applying ice to the welt, I went on a rampage, overturning chairs, and spraying anything with a stinger. Time to get a new can.

The dog, on the other hand, is very happy with apartment life...especially since he has a 10 year old, girl german shepard who lives upstairs and a 2 year old, girl rottweiler who lives next door and both come to the door to see if he can come out and play. He's partial to the rotty and it's real cute to see them romp around and wrestle. She's not very graceful and often falls off the porch during these play sessions and the landscaping is never quite the same after she leaves.

~A Party~
This past Saturday was my friend Megan's 50th birthday and to help her celebrate, we had a big party at the tiki hut. There was music by our local fellows, Randy and Chris, who are making a go at being professional musicians. The grills were ablaze with hamburgers, hot dogs, and beer butt chicken. Everyone brought a dish and a good time was had by all. Great turn out.

I took the opportunity to try out a recipe that I have heard my friend, Angela [Angela's Adventure, Angela's Visit], rave about on numerous occasions. The recipe calls for you to take club crackers, heap them with Parmesan cheese, wrap them in a half slice of bacon, and bake in the oven for 2 hours. I certainly would have never attempted baking anything for 2 hours on the boat during the summer, so the apartment and its oven came in handy.
The treats did turn out quite tasty although they were a bit of a pain to make, especially in party sized quantity. The recipe calls for the wrapped pieces to be placed on a rack on a cookie sheet so, I had to improvise by using one oven rack as "the rack" and wrapping the second oven rack in aluminum foil as "the cookie sheet." Quite clever, I thought on my part until an hour and 20 minutes into it when the oven started smoking and I realized a grease fire was eminent. I calmly turned the oven off while my friend, Jen, scurried around looking for baking soda. I removed the racks from the oven, transferred the now slightly shrunken treats to 2 baking dishes [sans racks], and returned them to the oven to finish up. Disaster averted.
When they came out of the oven, I transferred them to a pizza box to drain, cool, and be transported to the party, another stroke of genius on my part with this one actually working out!

And since a birthday party isn't really a party until you have something tasty to sip on, I invented a new drink in honor of Megan's big occasion. I'm calling it a Dirty Banana.
Take 1 part 99 Bananas. Add 2 parts Friday's Mudslide Mixer. Now add 1/2 part vodka and 1/4 part rum. Shake well and shoot.
I made a big batch using a Captain Tony's cup as my measuring device so the vodka and rum parts are not exact measurements. You could also use Chi Chi's mudslide mix and since it has alcohol in it just omit the vodka and rum.
Once I had mine all mixed together, I put it in the freezer for several hours and then into a cooler of ice for the party. It's got enough alcohol in it that I am pretty sure you could make it up and just leave a batch in the freezer.
Ice cold, this makes for a tasty little shooter...not too sweet and not too strong.
Happy 50th Birthday, Megan!

~A Fish Story~
Where there's a party, there's always a mess to clean up afterward. I met up with Bob, Megan's significant other half, Sunday morning to assess the damage. It wasn't so bad, just a few left-over items, some soggy crepe paper, and a pile of abandoned peanuts. I found a couple of brooms, a dustpan, a rag, and some windex to get the stickiness off the tables and Bob and I set to work. Others joined in and soon enough the tiki was squeaky clean...mostly. During the cleaning process, there was a commotion on the nearby ramp to the new dinghy docks.
A large pinfish had jumped out of the water and gotten himself stuck. I took one of the brooms and hurriedly swept the fish down the ramp and back into the water. He floated to the surface, belly up. Not a good sign.
But his tail was still moving and he was trying to get turned around. I gave him a gentle nudge with the broom handle and he got himself righted although he still wasn't going anywhere. A few more swishes of the tail, a wiggle of the fins, and cries from me to rally and at least he was staying totally submerged. Looking good...
...and then a shadow appears from under the dock - several feet long and BIG...
...and then POW!
The shadow ate my fish.
Game over.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

[Temporary] New Digs

I came back to Marathon to the boat hauled out of the water...
...And Jeff residing in an apartment off of 70th Street.

Now, we had this all planned before I left...
...So don't be thinking he just up and moved while I was out of town!

The apartment is the walk-out basement of a house and it comes complete with AC, cable, a shaded patio, and a beautiful view.

It's a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen/living room. Not real big, but fairly substantial compared to the boat.

There's lots of space for the dog to run around and we even have a path that goes to the Gulf of Mexico that we've been walking [and swimming] on most evenings.

I love all the plants around the house...especially the large Banyan Tree in the front.

And it's not just plant life we're surrounded with...
I've had a lizard in the sink, a crab on the sidewalk, and a scorpion on the patio.

We brought the dinghy around the island on one of Jeff's days off so we can explore the Gulf side. It took us a little longer than it should have when we passed it up and went all the way to the end of Vaca Key. In our defense, we were all out of landmarks except for the occassional airplane landing at the nearby airport.
But we found it eventually.

Our days have been mostly spent in the boatyard sanding all of the interior area for painting and varnishing. It's hot work with the temps in the mid-90's and the breeze never coming from the right way to get in the hatches.

It's also pretty dirty work. We both left the yard yesterday caked in sawdust and sweat. Even my eyeballs were dirty.

That's when it's time to pour a cocktail and head down our secret little path and swim in the Gulf of Mexico in our dusty, grimey clothes, cooling of in the cool breeze on the walk back to the apartment deciding what to have for dinner.

So Life on the S/V Exposure has been temporarily relocated to new digs elsewhere, but we're still spending lots of time [and energy] on the boat. We're really looking forward to getting her back in the water with all her shiny new paint and wood...inside and out...and it could take up to a whole other month to finish up. But now you know where we're at and what we're up to. I'll be taking pictures of our progress and should have some of those up soon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Month on the Mainland

After spending almost a month in North Carolina, I made my way back to the Florida Keys this past Monday. It was a long drive coming in just under 14 hours, but it was easy and uneventful.

I had a really great time during my visit to the mainland, and the best part of it was spending time with family. With my Mom and Brother [with Jolene and Maddie] both living in Greensboro, it made it easy to do a lot of things together. We ate many meals at the same table and enjoyed each others company at my brother's house. During the week, with Keith and Jolene both working, I'd try to put us together something decent for dinner. On the weekends, we all wandered around the Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market. With it's huge selection of heirloom tomatoes, peaches, corn, berries, baked goods, grits, and country ham...just to name a small sampling of the wares available...going to the Farmer's Market is certainly one of my favorite things about being in NC. And if you start off with us all gathered for breakfast at the Moose Cafe, I like it even better.

Spending time with my Mom was nice. We played cards, went out for lunch, explored downtown during the Gallery Hop, munched on Brixx Pizza, shopped in Chapel Hill, made lotion, and took Maddie to this cool place called ArtQuest where we painted, played with clay, made bracelets, cut paper and afterward had lunch with my brother at the Center for Creative Leadership where he works as head chef.

The best days were the ones spent with Maddie. We blew bubbles, played in the water, and drew all over the drive-way with sidewalk chalk. We'd have a snack, color, watch Baby Einstein, and start all over again. If I was lucky, we both got a nap. We had our own little outing one day with a stop at Hobby Lobby, the grocery store, and McCallister's for lunch and she was truly an angel. She's a very funny 2-year old and very entertaining. I chuckle to myself whenever I think of some of the silly things she says or her imitation of a butterfly after every bath. I miss her terribly.

While in NC, I also got to spend time with family 2 hours away from Greensboro on the east side of Raleigh: my 19 year old niece, Josie; my 22 year old nephew, Zachary; and their parents, Mark and Anne. My first visit was for a Pool Party Bash in honor of Zachary graduating, having a birthday, and going off to grad school. There was a tent, a keg, and a pig as well as corn hole, horseshoes, and beer pong. Kids of all ages were in the pool and a good time was had by all. I enjoyed catching up with with my [ex] sister-in-law, Genevieve; her husband, Steve; and her 2 children, Jackson and Taylor, who came from Louisville for the big event. The kids have grown up so much since the last time I saw them!
I went back again at the end of my trip and spent the day with Josie going out to lunch and a bit of shopping and then a nice relaxing weekend laying around the pool and tossing corn hole.

I am glad to be back home. I missed Jeff and the dog. I missed my girlfriends. And I missed the water and the island I call HOME...
But, now that I'm here...I miss all the people I left in North Carolina.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Maddie!

My niece, Maddie, whom I have mentioned in prior blog entries [ Meet Hurricane Maddie and New Year In North Carolina] turned 2 today and I am in Greensboro, North Carolina to help celebrate the occasion. I arrived this past Friday after a very long, 2 day drive to get here. On day 1, I stopped after 9 and 1/2 hours and spent the night at a Red Roof outside of Savannah, Georgia just as it started pouring down rain. I then finished up the meandering route the next day arriving around 2 in the afternoon. My Dad, Tracy, and his wife, Barbara, had already arrived from Indiana to spend the weekend and were in the process of babysitting the birthday girl. Maddie was a little shy when I first walked in but came around pretty quickly and soon I was her new favorite person. We played with stickers, found "Nemo", and tried out the backyard swingset. My sister-in-law, Jolene, and my brother, Keith, arrived home from work and after Maddie's exercise session at Little Gym, we picked up some pizza for a quick easy dinner and I soon called it a night.

Saturday was the birthday party. Divided into 2 separate events, the first half of the day was spent at a nearby park with lots of toddlers, snacks, and a giant, jungle animal cake. The nearby play area kept the little ones busy and water balloons and squirt bottles kept them cooled off in the record-breaking heat. By noon, the party dwindled to family-only and we headed back to the house. Keith and my Dad had smoked a pork butt the night before that was now finishing to fall-apart, smoky tenderness in the crockpot. Along with home-made cole-slaw, marinated cucumbers, 7-layer salad, maple baked beans, and fresh slices of vine-ripe German Johnson tomatoes topped with Keith's home-made mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil - we had quite the spread for lunch. Maddie opened presents and then in a state of sensory overload and pure exhaustion finally went down for a nap while the adults lounged around in the living room conversing. After another round of cake, the already dwindled party dwindled even further bringing an end to the day's festivities.

Sunday was an easy relaxed day starting off with a quick trip to the local farmer's market for tomatoes, peaches, fresh baked bread, and other tasty treats. Lunch back at the house consisted of gourmet BLT's on the newly acquired bread with huge slices of shoulder bacon baked to perfection, crisp lettuce, and more vine-ripe tomatoes straight from someone's garden accompanied by a side dish of heirloom red peppers stuffed with shredded smoked pork, corn, onion, jalepeno, and white cheddar cheese. You wouldn't think after all that we would need to eat again for the rest of the day, but beef ribs were rubbed and thrown into the smoker and attended to for 3 hours for a yummy supper along with buttered, corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Monday morning rolled around and as Maddie went to daycare and Keith and Jolene to work, my Dad and Barb headed back to Indiana. I took a walk, treated myself to lunch and then did a little Wal-mart shopping. The highlight of the day was yet to come when everyone arrived back at the house and after a quick dinner, Maddie blew out the candles on her cake. The cake itself was fabulous in looks, texture, and taste having come from the Delicious Bakery, but was nothing compared to witnessing the pure glee and excitement bubbling out of my 2-year old niece as she sang happy birthday to herself.
I am very glad that I was here to share and witness Maddie turning 2.

Happy Birthday, Maddie!
(& many more...)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


During the summer months in the Keys, the temperature very rarely drops below 90...even overnight! Shade becomes very important. Walking through the marina I always choose the shadiest route, but what do you do out in the mooring field when there is no shade to be found?
You just have to make your own!
Or in our case, you hire a great canvas guy to come out and measure and fit the boat with customized shade. This is Garth from Custom Canvas and he did some work for us [new black vinyl cushions inside the boat] when we first arrived in Marathon. So, he was the person we called when it was time to shade the boat.
For the most part, we had been using tarps for shade...draping them over the booms and securing them with bungee cords, but the tarps degrade quickly in the harsh UV rays and start to flake and make a huge mess. Plus, they never fit just right and can make quite a bit of noise flapping around.

The new awning is made of a material called STAMOID and is supposed to last for at least 10 years. It is highly durable, light-weight, UV resistant, extremely waterproof, and easy to clean. The awning is 2 peices that zip together on either side of the mast and the sides have flaps that drop down to keep out the rising and setting sun.

Keeping the sun off the deck keeps the boat from heating up inside and keeps it much cooler.

If you look closely at the cockpit, you'll noticed we added shade to that as well with a black, mesh fabric that blocks out 60% of the sun's rays yet lets the breeze pass through. It runs through a track on the bimini top and snaps in at the bottom for a neat, snug fit.

We're really enjoying our newest boat improvement because now we've got it made in the shade living in the Florida Keys ...and we'll just leave all that sun for the tourists.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Old Kentucky Home

Jeff and I just recently made a roadtrip to our home port of Louisville, KY. According to MapQuest, it was a 1201 mile drive from the marina to Jeff's mamma's front door. We opted to drive it straight through to save time and left Monday, June 28th around 4:30 in the afternoon. The night went on without incident as we stopped periodically for food, gas, and dog walking and we took turns sleeping in the back seat...much to the dog's dismay since that meant he was allocated to the front seat and not quite as comfortable. We were less than 2 miles from the Kentucky state line when the car over-heated for the first time. I was driving, Jeff was sleeping, and the temperature light came on and sounded an alarm. We pulled over, assessed the situation, and decided we could limp on to the rest area a mile or so away.
Welcome to Kentucky!
We parked in the shade and popped the hood. Nothing was smoking or spewing so we waited a few minutes for it to cool while Jeff cruised neighboring vehicles asking for antifreeze. He was told there was a truck stop a mile or so away and surely they would have something there. We got back on the interstate, blinkers a'blazing, and made it to the next stop. Antifreeze was purchased and after a bit more cooling, we were back on the road. The car was still running hot, but we made it safely to Louisville and could deal with the problem later.
We arrived at Denise's around 4:30 in the afternoon - a full 24 hours in the car! We relaxed for a bit and let the dog run around in the fenced in backyard while we checked out the newly renovated house. Since the last time we had been to the house, walls had been knocked out to create a new, open floor plan. The kitchen, once small and cramped was now bright and roomy with new appliances and a large bar/island. The once unfinished steps to the basement had been reconfigured and carpeted to lead down to the new workout room. The formal dining room was moved to the seldom used front room of the house. Both spare bedrooms had a new look and the master bedroom was made more private and bigger by changing the entrance and adding on to the back of the house.
The house looked great!

As we brought our things in the house and started to settle into our newly redecorated bedroom, Jeff found his mail...a package he had ordered before leaving the Keys and had sent to Louisville.
He opened it up and then donned his new...
What a hoot!
What every bald guy needs...Flair Hair.
It does keep the sun off his head and it's good for a chuckle every time some unsuspecting person does a double take.

After catching up with Kelly and Denise over a few refreshments in the backyard, we had some dinner and then off to bed for some desperately needed sleep.
We slept late the next day and then started in on some of things that we intended to get done. One of the reasons for driving was so that Jeff could hand deliver the 2 pieces of yard art that he had acquired for Denise's Birthday/Mother's Day presents. After a trip to Home Depot for supplies, poles were pounded into the ground. A quick call was made to borrow a hacksaw to finish up the job...which Steve and Lisa Lindell graciously delivered...and the art work was mounted in the hosta bed in the backyard. Steve and Lisa hung around for a bit while we all reviewed Jeff's handiwork.
Aunt Karen arrived and after a pleasant evening hanging out in the backyard, we had a yummy dinner of slow simmered pot roast with carrots and mashed potatoes.
The next day brought more small chores to be accomplished. First a crack was filled in the patio and then Jeff headed to his Dad's to visit and flush the radiator. Denise prepared a delicious meatloaf for dinner and we played a somewhat noisy game of cards afterward.
The next day, the plan was to color the patio with a semi-transparent stain to brighten it up, camouflage the crack, and give it a fresh look. First step was to apply a coat of primer. While it was drying, Jeff and I made a trip to Bardstown Rd. where he visited a friend and I walked to Dot Fox, a quaint yet funky boutique, to purchase some new Rainbow Sandals. On our way back, we stopped and grabbed a sack of White Castles...because you can't just get them anywhere, you know! After a quick stop at Mom's Music to gather a few guitar supplies, we were back to finish the patio.
Once at the house, we all grabbed rollers and started to work. When my friend, Angela, called to say she was driving up the street I handed my roller to Kelly so he could take over where I left off along the edge. The color went on well and dried to a subtle, smooth finish.
Next, we sat back to admire our work and catch up with Angela who had just driven from Dayton. Sloppy Joe's were on the menu for dinner and we spent a nice evening with good conversion, Jeff playing guitar, and a pesky crossword puzzle that we all put our heads together [along with Google] to finish.

The weekend was a whirlwind of activity with a family cook-out and a pool party.
My Dad and his wife, Barbara, attended the family gathering as did Jeff's Aunt Sheila and Uncle Bill and Aunt Karen. The meal was fabulous with grilled chicken and tomato-basil italian sausages accompanied by my baked mac & cheese, fresh green beans slowed cooked in the crockpot with onion and country ham, summer slaw, and deviled eggs. To top that all off, Barbara made not just one, but 2, decadently rich desserts: a dark chocolate flour-less torte and chocolate pecan bars. It was a great meal and a quiet evening spent in good company.

The pool party on the other hand...not so quiet.
Hosted by Mike and Leslie Kenney at their home in Prospect, the pool party proved itself to be an exercise in drinking and debauchery - although also in good company. In attendance were Coley and Karin McDevitt, Meg and Dave Drummond, and the newly wedded Craig and Karen Kinney as well as Jeff and I and Angela. Everyone brought a little something to contribute to the party. Jeff brought Yuengling beer all the way from Florida. I picked up a delicious cheese torte from Doll's Market and a bottle of Prosecco. Meg and Dave made red, white, and blue jello shots. And never to be outdone, Coley juiced an entire watermelon with several limes to create a watermelon lime-aid that became an enticing mixer for a very, hot day in July. There were lot's of snacks and a fully stocked bar.
And the pool felt great!
Mike claimed early on that no one ever gets in the pool during pool parties, but within minutes of arriving, Jeff was diving in.
And he wasn't the only one.
Mike and Leslie's yellow lab puppy, Stella [The Yella] made quite a big splash when she was finally released from captivity and allowed to join the party.
After several rounds of Coley's watermelon lime-ade "Surprise" drinks [You wanted vodka? Surprise! It's rum. Or maybe it's the other way around...] everyone ended up in pool. After lots of laughs and a few toasts, dinner was served: a fabulous spread of cold dishes and salads. Easy, tasty, and cool.

The long, holiday weekend wrapped up with another family cookout at Dan and Allison's where Jeff got to spend some time with niece, Lainey, and nephew, Lincoln. Lincoln was a little shy, but Lainey was not, and both enjoyed checking out Jeff's station wagon. We had burgers and dogs on the grill and called it a night.

Our last night in town was spent with Tommy and Allyson Cooper on their 50 ft. Gibson Executive houseboat with guests Everett and Jimmy having snacks and cocktails but not going anywhere. When the boat rocked slightly side to side, it felt odd to be on a boat after being on dry land for over a week. Shortly after sunset, we headed for bed with plans to get on the road in the not so bright yet early morning.

We barely made it into Tennessee before the sun was high in the sky and the car was overheating again. The day before leaving for the long trip home, we had taken the car to Valvoline and had the oil changed, the radiator flushed, a headlight replaced, and all the fluids checked...apparently to no avail. We exited at Lavergne and found a Midas station where they diagnosed the problem as a broken fan clutch, fixed it, and sent us on our way. Within 5 miles down the road, the car was overheating again. We turned around and had a new water pump and thermostat installed. A test drive proved the car to be in no better shape. The mechanics spent a little more time exhausting every possible option with no results. 8 hours and $611.42 later, we decided staying there any longer was only a huge waste of time and we moved on down the road. The car was mostly fine while doing 50-55. It was going uphill that proved to be challenging. We crawled through the mountains at 20 miles an hour in the emergency lane with the blinkers on and we each breathed a sigh of relief at the top of each summit. Completely exhausted from the stressful driving, we pulled over in Dalton, Georgia for a bite of dinner and a break. We noticed a GM dealership on our way to Steak n' Shake and opted to spend the night at a nearby Travelodge and take the car to be serviced again first thing in the morning rather than risk breaking down in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere...or worse yet, smack in the middle of ghetto Atlanta.
Jeff was up early and the first one in line at the service station. He left the car and walked back to the room where we hung out in the AC and napped and read the morning away. At 11:15 they called about the car and said it was fixed. It was merely a vacuum problem that they flushed charge!
So we were back on the road. 15 minutes later we're overheating again. It was an extremely hot day and we were in the hills of Georgia. The only thing to do was trudge on through. Ac off. Windows open. 50 m.p.h. Once the sun set, we were able to go 60. In the middle of the night, I pushed it up to 70. We arrived at the marina at 5 a.m. Friday morning. We were happy to be home and there will be no more roadtrips for the station wagon.

We had a great time while visiting our old Kentucky home but it was impossible in the short time we were there to see everyone we wanted to see or spend any length of time with the people we did get to visit. For that I apologize and extend the invitation that you all are always welcome to come visit us in the Keys where you will have our undivided attention. Doesn't that sound like fun?