Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Busy Week; S/V Magnolia; "RB" Phillips; Bird Debris Field; A Winter Hike; Karst

It's been a crazy few days. Suzanne has been working on slimming down her long list of people waiting for readings, in addition to her normal speaking engagements and other events. On Sunday, for example, she had a Sanaya channeling session at Unity of The Villages. She is also starting a new book based on her Heart Gifts presentation. She never rests...

But on Monday we did take a day off to visit our great sailing friends from DC, Anthony and Annette. They now live aboard their Morgan 44 Magnolia, which had just arrived in Titusville, Florida, and was taking a short breather on her latest adventure from the Chesapeake to the Bahamas. Magnolia was firmly attached to a mooring ball at the Titusville Municipal Marina, where we met "A2" (Anthony and Annette).








A2 have spent the past year and more preparing and upgrading their boat for long distance cruising. Boaters will appreciate the effort and dollars involved in major jobs like pulling and refurbishing the mast and boom, replacing the anchor windlass, replacing the Bimini and cockpit enclosure, varnishing teak, and adding all new, up-to-date electronics (radar, AIS, chart plotter, etc.) in a 20 year old boat. (Actually, Magnolia is relatively new; our Morgan 46 was built in 1980!) But one thing we noticed was that both of them were quite relaxed and enjoying the new cruising lifestyle they had adopted, not that it is always easy. Just on the trip south, they had to deal with passing cold fronts, high winds, strong currents, shoal water, equipment malfunctions, and other boaters, some far less skilled than they should be.




Rudy and Gretchen enjoyed being back aboard a sailboat. Well, okay, maybe Gretchen wasn't as thrilled as Rudy was... but both of them seemed to get excited when we broke out their canine PFDs. Here they are in the cockpit with their life jackets on and tethered in, just in case... their leads are attached to the tops of their PFDs so they can be easily picked up in case they were to fall into the water. It was a great day, and I certainly had thoughts about how and when I was going to get back to sea.... watch this space...







Back at home on Tuesday, My Lovely Bride decided that we could combine a post office run to mail books with a bike ride, so off we rode to Wildwood on our bikes with a backpack full of books and mailers. (Did I say "we"? That meant that "we" rode; "I" carried the backpack. I'm not whining, mind you, but after all, she's the Spring Chicken, not me!) Anyway, it was a fortuitous trip, because while I was waiting outside the post office while MLB was inside in line (in air conditioned comfort, I might add, but who is complaining?), I met a transplanted North Carolinian, "R.B." Phillips.



"R.B." and I were discussing our past lives before moving here, and come to find that he served aboard three Navy ships in the Pacific during World War II, one of which, an oil tanker, was torpedoed and sank, and he was one of only three men who survived, out of a crew of 123. He described having swum underwater for 50 yards with a kapok life jacket on because the sea around his sinking ship was covered with burning oil. He then served aboard an amphibious assault ship that landed troops at garden spots like Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Having only retired 10 years ago, and a quiet-spoken 90 year old now, "R.B." is typical of his generation, a hard working farm boy turned nursery operator whose wife of 60 years passed away at a local nursing home six years ago. He still rides a motor scooter without a helmet, and is sort of proud of the road rash he earned when his scooter dumped him unceremoniously on the asphalt a few years ago. I was proud to have my picture taken with "R.B." America needs more men like him today. 


On a sad note, the puppies and I were walking around the neighborhood when we came upon what is euphemistically called a "bird debris field". It looked like a plane crash site in miniature, and all that was left were small feathers and a few bones. I suspect that an owl that has been hanging around our area had a wren for breakfast. The principle of survival of the fittest seems to be working as designed...








My birthday came on Wednesday, and Suzanne asked what I'd like to do, so we went for a hike in the woods on the Florida Trail. Now remember, this is mid-winter, and you can see by this photo that I am well-prepared for the freezing rain, snow, sleet and ice that comes with winter weather. (Stop making rude comments, Terri.) Okay, so it was about 70F when we started; the sun was really brutal. It's been a late Fall; as you can see, the leaves haven't all changed yet. This palmetto is struggling to stay green...






About five minutes into the hike, we were travelling through some brush, and I felt something on my leg. At first I thought it was a twig that had gotten stuck in my boot or shorts, but when I looked down, I saw a big spider crawling up my leg. A "sailor word" slipped out, and I shook the little beast off into the grass. We then came upon one still in its web across the trail. (John, can you provide some entomological assistance here?)







The terrain soon turned to pine forest, with lots of space between the trees and minimal shrubs and brush. This attractive young female hiker seems to be enjoying herself; note the difference between her and the hiker above carrying the large, heavy blue backpack full of gear and maybe even rocks. (Actually, he is in training to prepare for a week of hiking with his daughter in California over the Christmas holidays).









Speaking of rocks, the term "karst" describes a typical type of topography here in Florida, that of a limestone-based substrata that often displays rocky outcrops in an otherwise flat area (seen here with the aforementioned female hiker admiring the limestone). Karst also has frequent caves and underground streams that cut channels in porous limestone, sometimes resulting in sinkholes and spring-fed rivers widely found in this part of our warm, sunny state. I know I'm going to get some mail filled with yellow snowballs for this, but did you hear that Florida is the most hated state in the country this week? It seems that everyone else is jealous of our perfect weather here. Even my sister in New Orleans had rude things to say to me when I gloated about the weather today. Sheesh!













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