Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My oldest brother, Artie, died early this morning and is now in the arms of our Savior.  This is a photo taken in Ocean City, NJ in 1998 at the occasion of our first of nine Sibling Reunions.  This was the first time we had all been together since 1971.  Rest in peace,  Artie, we love you and will miss you tremendously.

In birth order L-R:  Artie, Gretchen, Trudy, Girard, Celeste.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our view from the T-head where we're docked

The famous Chicago skyline

We arrived in Chicago around 1:00 PM and,, thus far, have traveled 2,009 miles on this adventure. We're tied up in Du Sable Marina next to Navy Pier which is a beautiful location. 

We left New Buffalo, MI early this morning heading South to Chicago.  The waves on Lake Michigan were abeam, but the wind was light and the traveling was tolerable and got better as the day went on.  We were downwind the whole way which meant lots of bugs of every size, shape and description.  Ralph is getting quite adept with the bug zapper and I'm getting quite adept with vacuuming up the carnage with the dust buster.

Our first order of business was to hose the boat down, then remove the boom and unstep the mast.  There are about 35 bridges through the City of Chicago that we need to get under so until we reach Joliet, IL, we will be mast-less.  

The next order of business was to check email.  For about a week, we've been in contact with my nephew, Scott, about my oldest brother, Artie, who lives in Lilburn, GA outside Atlanta.  Artie is 83 years old and quite frail.  He was taken to the hospital about a week ago as they thought he might have pneumonia.  He does not, but he requires 100% oxygen and is very weak and was transferred to the ICU this morning and is not expected to live.  My siblings and I have been in close contact about this situation and we are all heartbroken.  Artie is a gentle soul loved by all.  I'd appreciate your prayers for Artie and the family.

Good news is that Ralph's mom is doing really well and she may be released from the rehabilitation hospital in another 10 days.  Each day we speak on the phone she sounds  better and better.  Thank you for your prayers for her.
Here are a few photos from today's adventure:

The Chicago Yacht Club

Navy Per, Chicago

Chicago Police have a helipad on Navy Pier

The Chicago Police have headquarters near our marina
Lowering the boom -- so to speak
Unstepping the mast

The mast is unstepped

Monday, August 27, 2012

We started off this morning with good news from our neighbors about our house in Cape Coral.  Tropical Storm Isaac passed by with rain, but no strong winds or flooding.  Thank you, Daniele, Jim and Dave for keeping an eye out for us.

We then enjoyed breakfast at Rosie's with Bev and Bruce Freese.  Rosie had creamed chipped beef, so the Captain was very pleased.  We caught up on banking and some other personal stuff today. We took a walk through town in the afternoon.  It's a nice little town with a good marine store, Sweetwater Marine,  and Ralph bought  some shackles.  I like the architecture and took lots of photos as we went along.  

We had skipped lunch because we had a late breakfast and ended up at Oink's -- the most popular ice cream place in town.  Everything in Oinks relates to pigs and it's very cute.  Their ice cream is delicious, too...of course, neither of us has ever met a cone we didn't like.

Here are a few photos from our meanderings today:

This house reminds me of my grandma's

I like this house

New condos replacing old houses -- these are by the railroad tracks

Breakfast at Rosie's with Bev and Bruce

The Whittaker House built in 1871, the oldest commercial building in town

Mmmmm...Mackinac chocolate fudge at "Oinks"

"May the oink be with you..."

Sharing a butterfinger flurry with the little freeloader

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Well, we're finally at the very last port in the State of Michigan, New Buffalo.  Today we traveled 40 miles on a very calm Lake Michigan.  Thank you, Jesus!  All the towns we've visited in Michigan have been unique in their own ways and we have special memories about them all, but traversing that lake to get to visit them has been a bear.

MTOA Port Captain friends Carleen and Bert Shedd live here in New Buffalo and were here when we arrived at the New Buffalo Municipal Marina around noon today. They introduced themselves and helped us tie up and offered to take us to the farmers' market and the grocery store in their car. Also here are Bev and Bruce on Paddy Wagon, Joyce and Lane on Makin' Memories, Ricki and Carl on Quest, and Kathy and Mike on Queen Kathleen.  This is a beautiful marina and it was sunny and 85 degrees today. 

Six of us went to dinner this evening at  Redamak's Hamburgers and swapped Looper stories -- and after having done the Loop eight times, the Shedds had many memories to share with the rest of us. While dining, it began to rain in earnest which is welcome here  since it has been so dry all summer.  We're staying here tomorrow and plan to sleep late -- at least until 7:30.

It's also teeming rain in the Gulf as Tropical Storm Isaac makes its presence felt.  We're watching the weather closely.  Here are a few photos from today:

Striper snoozing on a smooth ride across Lake Michigan
At the farmers' market in New Buffalo

Dinner at Redamak's Hamburgers

Everything's better with lots of ketchup

Sunrise on the St. Joe River

A pleasant 40-mile cruise on Lake Michigan today

New Buffalo Beach

Saturday, August 25, 2012
Kalamazoo River exiting Saugatuck, MI
Anchoring in Kalamazoo Lake last night was interesting.  We were so tired we went to bed early while the Battle of the Bands raged on in two different marinas simultaneously.  One band stopped playing around 9:00 PM and the other continued with some soft jazz which was very pleasant.  It was hot and we had all the doors, hatches and windows screened and open.  
Around 10:00 PM when I was just on the edge of sleep, I saw a bright light sweep across the aft cabin ceiling.  I mentioned this to the sleeping Captain who told me to stop talking and go to sleep.  I closed my eyes but the light continued and I got out of bed and looked out and saw what looked like headlights.  There's no road nearby and I was mumbling to myself and the Captain told me to forget about the lights and go to sleep.  Then the blue light came through the window along with the sweeping search light.  After a knock on the hull and "Is anyone in there?" we thought the marine police were outside.

Ralph responded that we were here and was asked by the Saugatuck Sheriff to please come outside.  It was then Ralph remembered he had not put on the anchor light.  He quickly dressed and went outside and no anchor light is why the Sheriff came by.  We turned the anchor light on, the Sheriff  departed, the music stopped, and we fell asleep.
Today we weighed anchor at 7:00 AM and as we went out the Kalamazoo River, I took photos of the beautiful houses I neglected to capture yesterday.  It really is a pretty area.  Lake Michigan was smoother today and we traveled 40 miles, arriving at the entrance to the St. Joseph River which divides the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.  It was 85 degrees and there are no anchorages in the area.  We were fortunate to get the very last slip in West Basin Marina.  We tied up and immediately put on the AC.

The marina has a laundry (and you know how I love doing laundry) very close to our slip with a large capacity washer and dryer at no charge and they even provided us with high efficiency detergent.  I did the wash and Ralph washed the boat which was in dire need of a good cleaning.  We thought about going into town, but realized we'd have to walk a mile to the bridge, then cross the river into town.  Neither of us wanted to walk in this heat, so once again we decided to just hang in and relax. Here are a few photos from today:
Homes along the Kalamazoo River
Saugatuck has a hand-operated chain ferry that takes passengers across the channel

This river boat runs tours around Kalamazoo Lake

Dawn on the Kalamazoo River

One of the beautiful homes in Saugatuck

Riverfront homes in Saugatuck

The Matt Allen tug

A calmer Lake Michigan

Hugging the shore heading south on Lake Michigan

St. Joseph River divides St. Joe and Benton Harbor

Welcome to St. Joe

Contacting the Harbor Master at West Basin

Friday, August 24, 2012

We're anchored in Kalamazoo Lake in Saugatuck and it's 85 degrees this evening with a nice breeze.  The voyage this morning from Grand Haven to Saugatuck was hobby-horsing most of the 27 miles even though we were hugging the coastline.  We entered the Kalamazoo River from the channel around 11:15 and anchored around noon. We were all tired, so the three of us, Striper too, took naps this afternoon. 

Saugatuck is an expensive upscale community dedicated to the arts, boutique shopping and gourmet restaurants.  We didn't go to shore and are just enjoying relaxing for a bit.  
We just spoke to Ralph's Mom -- she sounds wonderful.  Our daughter, Betsy, visited her today and sent us a photo and Lorraine was up and dressed and even had lipstick on and looks great.  She's doing well with her conversational skills and is coming along nicely.  She said they keep her busy at Betty Bacharach Rehabilitation Center so she's tired at the end of the day, but she also feels she is making great strides.  Thank you for your prayers for her, and please continue them.
Here are a few photos:
Leaving Grand Haven channel -- 1-3' waves awaited us on Lake Michigan

That's an apple danish in the Captain's pocket -- coffee in one hand, hanging on with the other, danish in pocket

Passing Holland, MI

Entering Saugatuck channel

Beautiful Saugatuck Harbor

Waterfront homes in Saugatuck Harbor

A "cottage" in Saugatuck Harbor

One marina for power boats

Another marina for sailboats

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We stayed another day in Grand Haven because the wind and waves would have been against us today.  We had a nice breakfast at the Dee-Lite Grille and our new Looper friends, Sharon and Jim Angel, who have a car, took us to Meijer's for groceries and then dropped me off at G&L Nails for a pedicure.  And...they even came back an hour later to pick me up and take me back to the boat.  It's great to be able to buy heavy things at the grocery store and not have to carry them back to the boat and to get a pedicure was heavenly.  Thank you so much, Sharon and Jim.  We had dinner with them this evening at the Tip-A-Few Mexican Restaurant where we had one of their specialties, Wet Burritos. Then we chatted and strolled the Grand Haven boardwalk.  A very relaxing day. :) 

We will be leaving Grand Haven early tomorrow heading south.  I only have one photo to share today:
Linda from G&L Nails gave me a pedicure today.  She was sweet and my toes-ies feel and look wonderful!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Musical Fountain, Grand Haven, MI
Today I was a slacker.  I woke up after the anchor was pulled up and we were almost underway..  We left White Lake at 7:30 and by 8:00 the waves on our beam were too much for Striper and me and we went below.  We both fell back to sleep and woke up at 10:30 when we were entering the channel into Grand Haven.  
Grand Haven has a free city dock right in the center of town.  It's another beautiful Michigan town with friendly people and lots of activities.  Jim and Belinda on Rickshaw helped us tie up and Belinda told me about the Farmers' Market.  Hooray!  All along our journey we've missed the farmers' markets and this one was really nice.  Striper and I took a walk through it and en route passed a fish cleaning station which is really unique. I thought I could buy some fresh fish there, but it turns out the fish they are cleaning are for the fishermen who caught them.  It's quite an operation.  Striper was the Belle of the Ball at the Farmers' Market.  Everyone loves to pet her and talk to her.
We took a stroll through town after lunch. There are many interesting shops and restaurants.  We were told each summer there are "themes" on the artist walk -- this year's theme is dogs.  I photographed a few of these creations that are very clever.  After dinner we walked along the water and had turtle sundaes at Dairy Creme.  Oh were they sooooo good!  A small was plenty, but Captain Wonderful had a large because he felt he deserved it for "going it alone" today.  We met a lot of friendly folks who were interested in our travels and we met some folks who were prior Loopers also.  
We met a young family, Wes and Rita and their children Tobie and Kidest.  They are camping in the area and were staying for the Musical Fountain presentation this evening. We invited them to join us in watching it from our boat -- we had a front row seat right in the harbor.  It was fun to have them onboard.  Wes is a minister in the Viintage Church in Kalamazoo and they are here on vacation.  We so enjoyed meeting and talking with them and their children were so well behaved and adorable.
Tonight on the boardwalk area from 7-9 PM they had ballroom dancing to a local orchestra and at 9:30 the music, colorful fountain synchronized program began.  It was wonderful.  The fountain changed colors and shapes to the music, tonight featuring Rogers and Hammerstein show tunes.  What a nice civic event.  We've decided to stay here another day till the winds change. That Captain decided we need a little R&R.  

Update on Ralph's Mom:  She was transferred from the hospital to the rehabilitation facility today.  Thank you for your continued prayers for her.
Here are some photos:
The fish station on the town dock

The Farmers' Market

Striper meets Chloe

This plaque describes the Musical Fountain

Downtown Grand Haven

One of the dogs on the artists' walk

A dog on the artists' walk

Another dog on the artists' walk

Here we are at Dairy Creme

Mmmm... turtle sundaes


Our new friends, Tobie, Rita, Kidest and Wes

Grand Haven Harbor

Above the Grand Haven harbor

My Mutiny on the Bounty Shirt -- thanks, Dick