Whiskey, Yard Sales, and Herons

Samish Herons-4

It doesn’t matter how good the flight is, the trip from Greenville to Samish Island is always long and tiring. We awoke at 5:00 am EasternTime to head to the airport for our flight, and eventually got to bed at 9:00 Pacific, which would have been midnight Eastern. And because we are so far north, this time of year it stays light until nearly 10:00, then the sun comes back up at 5:00. When I awoke Saturday morning I was feeling the effects of both latitude and longitude.

Saturday was spent getting Laura’s mom settled back into her house. Her place overlooks the water, and the scenery is always spectacular. It’s tempting to keep taking photos of everything. It didn’t help that her yard was a riot of flowers.

Samish Morning ViewCalifornia PoppiesDaisies

Continue reading “Whiskey, Yard Sales, and Herons”

From Backyard to Ocean


Last night Laura and I were sitting out on our deck look out over the backyard and down to the lake. I wondered what would happen if I were to put my kayak in the water here and paddle it all the way to the ocean. What would I encounter? What rivers would I paddle?

Actually, I’ve got a pretty darn good idea. I’ve paddled and/or explored some sizeable chunks of that route, so I know a bit about it. My paddle route would take this path…

Lake Fairfield –> Brushy Creek –> Enoree River –> Broad River –> Congaree River –> Santee River –> Atlantic Ocean

I’d love to be able to do that whole route without ever having to leave the boat. Unfortunately, there are a few things like shoals, trees, strainers, and a few dams in the way, not to mention Parr Shoals Reservoir and Lake Marion. Continue reading “From Backyard to Ocean”

Tupelo Honey Cafe

Karen B had said that we absolutely had to try Tupelo Honey Cafe for breakfast while we were in Asheville. She also warned that it was very popular, and that we needed to get there by 9:00 if we hoped to get seated. We arrived in time to get a couple of seats at the … Continue reading Tupelo Honey Cafe

Hanging Out in Asheville

Wall Street, Asheville

After our tour of Biltmore on Saturday, the plan was to hang out in Asheville and do some window-shopping Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Karen and Herman had given us a list of their favorite places in Asheville, and we wanted to check out a few of them.

Asheville always strikes me as a city of opposites, but not necessarily bad ones. You have the opulence of Biltmore and Grove Park, combined with a funky hippy vibe and alternative lifestyle mecca. That’s born out by the businesses downtown, where eclectic music venues and interesting restaurants sit side-by-side with lawyers’ offices and high-end retail shops and art galleries.

This particular Saturday evening lots of people were out enjoying the milder weather. We walked through several blocks of downtown, and most of the restaurants were busy. On one street there was a long line of young adults waiting to get into some club – I’m guessing a favorite band was playing there. Other places were just about as crowded. Continue reading “Hanging Out in Asheville”

Anniversary at Kissimmee Prairie

Kissimmee Prairie Palmetto Scrub

Monday Laura and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We usually like to get out and travel a bit on our anniversary. It was cold and windy, even in Florida, so a paddling trip or boat ride was out of the question. Instead, we decided to head inland to the Kissimmee Prairie, a 54,000 acre nature preserve north of Okeechobee.

Our directions from Amy were to drive down to Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce, then head west until it ended at Highway 441.  It was 25 miles of the straightest road I think I’ve ever seen on this side of the Mississippi.  It was another 20 miles on 441 through some of the most desolate countryside in the state.  There were large ranches and orange groves dotted with small single-wide trailers.  I couldn’t imagine living out here, especially in summer.

When we got to the Prairie we found a large flat area that alternated between palmetto scrub, grasslands, and wetlands interspersed with palm tree and live oak hammocks.  A couple of dirt roads traversed the area, but for the most part the only way to see the place was on foot. Continue reading “Anniversary at Kissimmee Prairie”

Christmas in Florida


There were rumors and reports of snow back in Greenville. It wasn’t exactly my definition of a “white Christmas.” To me, a white Christmas is when you wake up and everything is covered in snow. However, I wasn’t going to be picky – snow is snow, and I would have enjoyed it all the same. The simple fact was that I was going to miss it all together. It was a warm 70 degrees down here.

The day began with the Wright family tradition of wrapping everything under the sun and putting it under the tree. They love to wrap/unwrap packages. It’s fun. This year Santa brought me life vests so I could take friends kayaking and a cool remote helicopter with built in camera. Continue reading “Christmas in Florida”

Christmas Paddling

Indian River Sunset

It’s Christmas. That means a trip to Florida to visit Laura’s sister, Amy. Using the new kayak racks Laura gave me for my birthday, I brought down the tandem that we got last summer so that we could paddle it out on the Indian River. After an 11 hour drive, I had to hit the water as soon as I got there.

Amy's Canal

The water was quite calm, and sun was just setting as I paddled out into the channel. Since it was dusk I decided I didn’t want to get out into the main channel, but paddled out far enough so that I could watch the sun set. It was a short paddle, but enough to improve my mood immeasurably.

Indian River Sunset Continue reading “Christmas Paddling”

Washington Wrap-Up

Mt. Ranier

We’re back home, after an arduous trek across the country. Our flight across country was uneventful – that is, until we got to Atlanta. Our plane apparently had finicky landing gear, which is something you DON’T want to mess around with. We finally got home at 1:00 am, and I had to get up at 5:30 to be back at work. So much for vacation.

The last several days in Washington were spent pretty much around the island, without the long treks we had done earlier in the trip. Thursday was down time. We stayed around the house, did laundry, and managed several other chores. That evening we took Laura’s mom out for dinner.

Friday Laura and I headed over to the Anacortes Arts Festival. We figured that since we had started the trip with an arts festival we should end with one. The festival was huge, covering several blocks of the town. It was also quite crowded, even though it should have been a work day. The quality of the art offerings was impressive, as well as expensive. We only bought one small print to take home with us. There were also musicians playing on several stages. Our favorite was the Incan pan pipe players. Continue reading “Washington Wrap-Up”

The Wilds of Vancouver Island

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We had kind of overdone it the day before. We were exhausted, and on top of that we hadn’t gotten much sleep because it was hot and most of these BC hotels have no AC. So, it was a late start to the day with a leisurely breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

We figured we had until 4:00 before we had to line up for the return ferry to Anacortes. That gave us several hours to explore. Eventually, we decided to head up along the coast to see if we could get to where we could see the Pacific Ocean, and not just the Puget Sound. Our target was Port Renfrew, which was barely where one might see the ocean, and about at the limit of our range for the day.

We headed northwest(ish), outside of Victoria, and toward the town of Sooke. From Sooke we took Highway 14 toware the coast.

Our first stop was French Beach, a BC Provencial Park along the coast. The sun was shining, but it was still very cool and foggy off of the coast. The ranger said that a couple of pods of whales lived nearby, so we grabbed binoculars and sat for a bit.

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Anacortes Ferry, Butchart Garden, and Victoria

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Laura and I got up early this morning. We had reservations for the ferry from Anacortes to Sydney, BC, and knew we had to get there early to board. We drove off of the island while the sun tried to break through the ubiquitous fog.

The Ferry

The ferry wasn’t very crowded this time. Only the lower car deck had vehicles, and the seating area was largely empty. We took our usual positions at the front of the boat, despite the chilly, damp wind.

Pretty soon, though, it got too foggy, and they even closed off the outer decks for safety. Visibility was nil, and the ship slowed and blew its horn regularly. Continue reading “Anacortes Ferry, Butchart Garden, and Victoria”