Nov 29, 2013

a cruiser's thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. Like, really, really love it. As the day got closer, I started getting a little worried that it was going to be hard being away from our families, and also missing all of my usual traditions. Thankfully, since we stayed at Jekyll Island for so long, we were able to celebrate with everyone at the marina. We had a potluck dinner with deep fried turkey and all of the usual sides, and our roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan were a big hit. Good thing too, because I was feeling a little unsure of myself after I burned my pumpkin pie yesterday morning. I really can't celebrate the holiday properly without a pumpkin pie, but I haven't quite mastered this oven yet. We have no way of setting it to a specific temperature, so the whole endeavor was guess and check. Apparently, I didn't check soon enough. That didn't stop us from eating it (and keeping it all to ourselves), though. Riley, who doesn't like pumpkin pie at all, even declared it was the best he'd ever tasted. Go figure. Also, (bless you, Netflix) I didn't even have to miss my annual Thanksgiving Day viewing of Christmas Vacation. So, even though we missed being with our families, we were so very grateful for a good group of people to celebrate with, good food, and as many of my traditions as I could scrounge up.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well! What are some of your favorite traditions that you just can't miss?

Nov 27, 2013

safety and peace of mind

Today, I am thankful for Jekyll Harbor Marina.

When we came into Jekyll Island, we had only intended to stay for two, three nights tops.  But then Riley needed stitches, so we stayed a few extra days to let his hand heal.  And then, the crazy winds hit, and we stayed to wait for a safe time to leave.  Ten days later, we are still here.

One of the things that we have enjoyed most about this trip has been staying in a new place (almost) every night.  As much as we have enjoyed Jekyll Island, after day six or seven, we were feeling ready to move on.  We had covered pretty much the entire island by bike, and that stopped being as much fun in this harsh, cold, wind.  So we've been boat-bound for the last couple of days.  Fortunately, since we have wifi here at the marina, we decided to activate our Netflix subscription for the time being. I love reading, but honestly, one month without any tv or movies was just about all I could handle.  I'm addicted, I'll admit it.  So I've been binging on as many cheesy, made-for-tv Christmas movies as I can.  

Even though we're ready to move on, and we've been kind of bummed about the weather, I can't express just how thankful we are to have been "stuck" at Jekyll Harbor Marina.  The staff here is so friendly and helpful, and they have especially gone out of their way to take great care of Riley after he hurt his hand.  And the fact that we're waiting out the weather at a marina instead of anchored out in the middle of nowhere, is such a huge blessing.  The wind is blasting and roaring around us at 30, even up to 40 miles an hour today, and we have peace of mind knowing that we're tied safely to a dock.

And now, I am going to continue my Netflix marathon.  Any recommendations on what I need to watch before I have to give it up again?

Nov 25, 2013

keeping up with the kid

"Let's go this way," Riley calls back to me.  "This trail looks like fun!"

That should have been a clue right there.  Like most things in life, Riley's definition of "fun," and my definition are just slightly different.  But for me, part of this trip is about leaving my worrywart nature behind and adopting a new carefree view of life.  Easy enough, right?

"Okay, sure!  I'm right behind you!"

This trail is off the main road, but it looks harmless enough.  As I ride down the dirt path, I admire the canopy of spanish moss above me and whatever those low lying palm tree looking ferns are.  For a second, I can almost imagine myself riding through some far off jungle somewhere.  I keep my eyes peeled for alligators.  I'd really like to see at least one before we leave.  I want to be the first one to see it, too.  I'll just yell out to Riley, all calm and collected, "Oh hey Riley, look, an alligator."  Of course, he won't believe me at first because I'm just being so cool about it, but then he'll be so impressed and it will make for a really great story.

On second thought, maybe I don't really want to spot one while I'm on a bike.  It is kind of low to the ground, and I don't really have the greatest sense of balance on it yet.  I start to pedal a little faster.

"Hey Riley, wait up!"

I come to a stop at three wooden steps right in the middle of the trail.  After lugging my bike to the top, I spot Riley's thrown to the ground in front of me.  He's climbing a tree.  A huge tree with strong, low branches.  I haven't climbed a tree in ages.  I get my camera out and snap a few pictures, and then hand it off to him as he jumps down.  I try my best to scramble up in my slippery boat shoes with soles now permanently covered in a layer of sand.  I wasn't a half bad climber back in the day, tiny, stubborn little thing that I was.  It's not quite as easy as I remembered, but I probably don't look all that awkward, right?

"Okay, take my picture now!"

The next part of the trail is a steep, root laced… let's just call it a cliff.  Riley's totally in his element.  As he glides down it effortlessly he calls back,

"Just remember!  Push your pedals backward to brake!"

Okay.  I line my bike up, take a deep breath, and jump on the seat.  The bike starts racing downhill, off course and straight for the trees.  My newfound confidence is plummeting as fast as my bike.  I grip my handlebars, trying to brake myself.  Nope, there's no brake there.  But my feet don't seem to know to go backward.  I stop myself just in the knick of time, and heave a sigh of relief.  I didn't actually crash, and Riley didn't see a thing, so all is good.  Maybe I can just walk the bike down this part without him noticing.

When I reach the bottom, I see…

"Wow, how do they expect anyone to ride this?!"

"Well," Riley explains, "If I had my mountain bike, it would be a piece of cake.  But with this fixed gear, piece of rental crap, it's just not worth it."

Oh, okay.  I push my bike along the skinny wooden bridges behind him.  This really isn't turning out quite as fun as I expected.  But I don't want to complain about it.  I don't want to be the whiny girl that can't keep up.  I'm adventurous!  And fun!  Right?

I get back on the bike and start pedaling again.  I'm almost out of the woods, and I can see the light through the trees.  I see Riley up ahead in the clearing, pointing and laughing.  Great, if I wasn't feeling self conscious about it enough as it was.  But he has the camera out, and I'm going to finish this thing with a smile.

"Wait," he says, "let me get your picture. Okay, now turn around and look behind you."

Oh, yeah!  I totally conquered that trail that wasn't even a trail!  Confidence restored!

We pedal back into the marina and the manager beckons to us.  He wants to show us a spot that only the locals know about.  We hop in his car and he drives us over to one of the beaches.  We walk over into the woods and up a slight incline.  I look down and all I see is a valley…

"Yeah man!  That's what I'm talking about!"

Riley's already reaching for the long rope tied to the top of one of the old trees.  He climbs up the roots of the old tree and jumps.  He struggles a little bit, and looks kind of awkward dangling from the rope, not like Riley at all.  But I mean, he is doing it one handed.

"Okay, your turn!"  He hands the rope off to me.

I can just barely reach the bottom of the rope, so... I'm just going to jump off of this tree and reach for the rope at the same time.  Okay.  Sure.  I can totally do this.  Right?  Just jump…

And then, with one perfect, graceful movement, I'm swinging through the air.

As I slow down and hop to the ground, I see a look of, could it be… pride, on Riley's face?

"Guess I bested you on that one, " I say smugly, of course.  His expression shifts slightly as the realization registers on his face.

"Hey," he says, "let me try that one more time…"

Nov 22, 2013

jekyll island club and "cottages"

Yesterday we rode our bikes around the historic district of Jekyll Island.  This is made up of the Jekyll Island Club, which was founded in 1886 as a private hunting and recreational club, and surrounding cottages.  Of course, when I hear the word "cottage" I think small and quaint.  Not so.  These were the private winter residences of the club's wealthy members.  Men like J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, William Rockefeller, and Marshall Field.

While I'm fascinated by the history of the island, and the stories behind these buildings, the structures themselves just don't do it for me.  The club, or one of the cottages, probably would be fun to stay in though, if I ever had the chance to visit the island again.  But I think I'm just still more impressed by the trees...

Nov 21, 2013

driftwood beach and a detour to the er

Yesterday we decided to mix it up a little bit and take a nice long, in depth tour of the Emergency Room so that Riley could get his hand stitched up (read the story here).  Both he and the boat are a little worse for the wear, but all in all, everything is ok.  We spent a good part of the day there, so we're a little behind on our exploring now!  But... I do have a ton of pictures to share from the other day when we rode our bikes past the Horton House ruins and all the way to Driftwood Beach.

it's hard to make great time on a bike when there is so much to stop and take pictures of.
horton house ruins
driftwood beach

can you spot the funny little bicycle riding man?

Driftwood Beach is the coolest little spot.  It's off season, so the whole island feels a little deserted anyway, but this spot, kind of out of the way, with it's graveyard of trees, has such an eerie beauty to it.  The weather has been kind of gloomy too, but that only added to it's mystique. And fortunately, we made it back to the boat before it started pouring down rain.  We'll see how well Riley can ride a bike one handed (still better than me with two, I'm sure), because we still have a lot left to see today!

Nov 20, 2013

the great bike tour of jekyll island

We're here in Jekyll Island, Georgia this week and we are loving it!  We're staying at a marina that offers (along with showers and laundry and wifi!) free bicycles!  After spending so much time trekking through towns and cities on foot, traveling by bike feels pretty darn wonderful.  It's only been about oh, fifteen years or so since I've ridden a bike, but Jekyll has a great system of wide, flat bike trails over the course of the entire island, and we've covered just about all of them.  First stop, the beach!

We were only planning to stay here for two nights, but a nor'easter is blowing through so we've decided to stay put for a little while.  You can kind of tell in some of these pictures just how windy it is.  Riding a bike against the wind feels sort of like moving in slow motion.  Since we'll be here for a couple days, that means I have a ton of pictures to share.  For a small island, there is an awful lot to see here and it's pretty deserted, so it feels like we have it all to ourselves!

Nov 19, 2013

how to curb snacking... or not

I have this problem. Or rather, Riley has this problem, because really I don't mind it too much. We tend to stock up whenever we have the opportunity to do some grocery shopping. And so then, we're just sitting around the boat, I'm there, the food's there, and I get to thinking just how nice it would be to have a few chips while I read, or whatever. A few hours later, Riley's mad that all of the good snacks are gone. I don't know if anyone else's husband has this same problem, but I thought I'd share a few (un)helpful tips I've run across, just in case:

1. Store them out of sight and out of reach. Easier said than done.  Everything on a boat is within reach.

2. Don't buy any snacks. This one works out pretty well. Unless of course you have a husband that still wants to buy his own snacks. This is how I (re)discovered my love for zebra cakes, salt and vinegar Pringles, and ginger snaps. And also, I've found that someone else's bag of chocolate always tastes just a little bit sweeter.

3. Only buy healthy snacks. Good in theory, but we can never seem to remember this one when we're actually at the grocery store. Plus, it's only logical to buy the box of preservatives that's going to last much longer than the vegetables. I mean, we're talking about survival here.

4. Keep yourself occupied. I don't know about you, but it seems to me that just about every activity is enhanced by a little snacking.

And finally, my personal favorite:

5. Eat all of your snacks as soon as possible. This will prevent you from being tempted by them for the next few weeks (days?). However, this may also result in guilt, marital strife, and ensuing starvation. These side effects will last a little longer than any of said snacks, but will likely be forgotten after the next grocery run.

So, it's not just me... right?

Nov 18, 2013

the in-between

So far, my favorite part of this experience has been getting to visit all of the towns and cities along the coast.  But, in order to get to them, we spend just as many not-so exciting days traveling.  Before we started I had this romantic idea (of course I did) of us sailing peacefully out in the great blue ocean, most likely in a bathing suit and shorts, soaking up the sun, feeling the warm breeze in our hair, and then anchoring somewhere near a sandy beach for the night.  Surprisingly (or, unsurprisingly), that's not exactly how it's been going.  At least not yet, anyway.

an audiobook is one way to drown out the motor. or, your wife...
much of the intracoastal has looked a lot like this

Generally, we wake up sometime between 6 and 7am and start layering on the clothes. Riley puts on some coffee, we pull up our anchor and get underway.  We've been doing most of our sailing in the Intracoastal Waterway instead of the ocean.  Due to weather conditions and cities we've wanted to visit, it has been the most efficient route.  This also means that we've been doing a lot more motoring than we imagined we would. The ICW can get narrow and busy with boat traffic, so it's not always ideal to raise the sails.  Using the motor allows for a much faster reaction time when we need to get out of someone, or something else's way.  But wow, is that motor loud!  We usual travel for about 8-10 hours a day for 1-3 days at a time.  Listening to that motor is like listening to a jackhammer.  And it's just as loud inside the boat as it is outside.

So anyway, we get out our charts and our Skipper Bob's Anchorages Along the Intracoastal Waterway guide, and Riley mans the helm while I get us some breakfast, cereal, most likely.  And then we spend the next several hours driving and day dreaming about our next shower, grocery run, and laundromat.  Even though we have an autopilot, Riley pretty much stays behind the wheel, and I usually have tasks like adjusting the autopilot to a certain degree, finding our current location on the chart, or reading out some helpful tidbit from Skipper Bob.  I'm also in charge of whipping up a little something for lunch and maybe even opening a can of soup for dinner after one of these long days. And that's it.  If it's a really exciting day maybe we'll see some dolphins, call a bridge to open, or even run aground.  We usually try to find a good spot to anchor just before it gets dark, and if Gidget's lucky, there might be a patch of grass nearby that Riley can ride her out to on the dinghy.  And then as soon as it's dark, we're ready to go to sleep.  Usually because it's cold.  And it's tiring concentrating on navigating the ICW for that many hours.  Also, sometimes just out of boredom.

finally, a vehicle in which she is tall enough to see out the "windows"
important autopilot adjusting duties

lowering the anchor
a much anticipated bathroom break for the pup
our home for the night
And those are the in-between days.  The not so glamorous side of this experience.  Although, still not the least glamorous side, but I'll spare you those details.  For now, anyway.

Nov 15, 2013

5 fun and budget friendly stops in savannah

We stopped here for lunch after arriving in Savannah on Monday, at the recommendation of my sister.  The restaurant, an old apothecary building, is owned and staffed by SCAD.  The food was good, and Riley and I were both enamored with the decor, wall to wall mahogany shelves of old books.  Our bill arrived in an old book and it was such a cute idea that we almost didn't mind paying it! $$

We stumbled into this shop because the adorableness of it was simply too much to resist.  As you can imagine, Riley lost interest fairly quickly, but I could have spent much longer perusing it's wares.  It has a very eclectic, Anthropologie-esque vibe and even has a little coffee and pastry nook.  Of course, it has the potential to not be so budget-friendly, but it's certainly a fun place to window shop, too.

Maybe you have already seen their products elsewhere?  We stopped into this shop because of a recommendation from Natalie, and the fact that Riley considers himself somewhat of a honey connoisseur.  The shop is stocked with more honey products than you could possibly imagine, but what we enjoyed most was their $5 mead tasting, and a wedge of Georgia Red cheese that we took back to the boat to enjoy.

Of course, we waited until the coldest day of the week to make the walk to Forsyth Park, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the fountain.  Apparently there is a free shuttle in Savannah, but we were only aware of the $28 one, so we opted to walk instead.  It really is a beautiful park, and the fact that the nearby Forsyth Park cafe has free wifi further served to validate the cold morning walk.

This is a casual (meaning, paper plates and plastic silverware) little French restaurant to grab a bite to eat.  I recommend Le Parisien: ham, swiss cheese, brie and paper-thin slices of apple on a slice of crunchy ciabatta bread. And you're most likely going to want to follow that up with a macaron for dessert. $

Obviously, we only began to scratch the surface on finding fun and cost effective ways to enjoy ourselves in Savannah.  These were just a few of the places, within walking distance, that we managed to fit in while we were there.  It's definitely a city I'd like to visit again!
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