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Posted By Robin & Jim

This is the last new post I'll be making on this Blog site... we've rolled our Blog and web site into one place at www.mvadventures.com, updated with new tools and capabilities.  Now I won't have to delete photos from older postings to make room for new photos, and the new site allows us to include videos as well as other nifty things.  So please go to our main web site (mvadventures.com) from now on, and please be patient as we add older content and learn the new tools.

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Not only is today the official First Day of Spring, but the season has already arrived here in Victoria (the warmest place in all of Canada in the winter).  We've had temps in the 50s, and the cherry blossoms in town are already past their prime.  The daffodils have been up, and the adorable little water taxis have reappeared in the harbor in front of the Empress Hotel.

water taxis

Bob and Cathryn from Washington came up to Victoria on their boat for a few days, and we hosted a dinner party with them and our Victoria friends Diana (my knitting buddy) and Perry.  We used to have a lot of these kinds of parties, but we don't know as many people out here... yet.  We did Roxy's Ribs in the pressure cooker, and had a very fun visit!

dinner party

The days are getting longer by about 3 and a half minutes per day - it's very noticeable.  To celebrate the arrival of spring, we headed over to the famous Butchart Gardens to see what's in bloom this week.  I was afraid that I missed the cherry blossoms, but was happy to learn that the Gardens are a couple of weeks behind downtown.  We'll go back in a week or two to see how things are coming along, but in the meantime we enjoyed the crocus...

crocus

...and the little daffodils...

daffodil

...and the look of the Sunken Garden with just the earliest hints of spring.  It should be fun watching the Gardens come alive.

sunken garden

The amazing thing at Butchart Gardens was their "Spring Preview" display, where they took over the entire restaurant, emptied it completely, and installed an elaborate indoor garden complete with stones, meandering pathways, a pond, and an explosion of spring flowers.  Incredible!!  The amount of work that went into that display was staggering - all to make something fleetingly beautiful.  Lilies, orchids, rhododendron, hyacinth... I can't name most of the flowers, but it just blew us away.  I can't wait to see what will be next.

As winter departs, I'll share a funny Canadian story.  While waiting in line at the hardware store, the cashier told a story about her friend in northern Manitoba who left her purse in her car overnight.  The new Canadian money is made of plastic instead of paper, and apparently it doesn't do well in extreme cold - she found that all the new bills broke in half when she tried to use them.  You can't make this stuff up.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We haven't blogged in a while because we were traveling - by air and by car - back to the east coast to visit family, friends, doctors, and to attend the DeFever Cruisers Rendezvous.  It was a hectic trip where we crammed a ton of things into a short time, but it was a fantastic trip... except for the weather.  We started in NJ to see Robin's brother and sister-in-law (and their great dogs), an old childhood friend from the Sea Scouts, then we got caught in a snow/ice storm as we drove down to Maryland to visit friends.  It was pretty slippery driving that last part of the trip, but we arrived in one piece. 

Everyone laughs at us for spending the winter in the Pacific NW, but it's much warmer and nicer here than it was back east (except for the Florida part of the trip).  We weren't used to all that cold and snow!  We did all our annual doctor visits and they renewed our warranties for another year.  We saw some Power Squadron friends, and we got to see one of Jim's brothers and his wife, but missed his sister Margaret because of another snow storm that slammed us in Virginia.  We holed up in a hotel for 2 nights to wait out the record-setting snow and had a few things cancelled because of it.  We wrapped up the northern part of the trip spending some time with the Halls and then visiting with Jim's son, his wife Valerie, and to meet the newest grandbaby - James (4 and a half months).  Little Donald is 21 months already - an active little man! 

We escaped the ice and snow, driving down to Florida to visit more friends, then a quick stop in Orlando to shop at the ham radio store, then on to see Jim's Dad in Clearwater.  From there we drove to lovely Captiva Island for the DeFever Rendezvous, and it was great to see so many old friends and all those big flared DeFever boat bows!

foggy defevers

As you might notice in the photo, there is a lot of fog in the air.  What was really strange was that the fog persisted through most of both days - highly unusual.  It dampened our hair and clothing but not our spirits, though it made for a very odd "sunset beach party" since we couldn't see the sun and barely saw the beach!

We zipped down to Marco Island to visit boating friends, and they took us on an adventure looking for wildlife in the Everglades - which was terrific.  Even though we had warm days we saw lots of alligators.

alligator walking

 Our friends showed us some hidden little gems - nature walks and small state parks with interesting things, such as this example of a strangler fig.

strangler fig

We saw anhingas, wood storks, bald eagles, herons, egrets, glossy ibis, moor hens, and a nice kite, but my favorite were these little burrowing owls.

burrowing owl alert

We really crammed a lot into a quick 3 week trip, but we miss our family and friends and it made us very happy to see everyone.  There's never enough time to see everyone we want to - we keep trying. 

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

In past years we would make the trek from the Florida Keys up to the big Miami Boat Show for one long marathon day to talk with all the vendors and suppliers in the enormous Convention Center.  We made up lists of questions and things we might want to buy well ahead of time - the boat show is a big deal for us.  This year we went to the Seattle Boat Show instead, and it was a different experience - more than just the temperature (which was a reasonable 50). 

Most boat shows run for a long weekend but the Seattle show runs for 10 days, which is both good news and bad news.  The bad news is that it's too long and most of the major suppliers don't participate - the return-on-investment isn't worth tying up some of the sales force for that long.  The good news is that the show offers a ton of seminars - many free 50 minute sessions as well as some inexpensive 3-hour in-depth sessions, so we spent a number of days learning more about boating in this area.  The seminars were very good, and we were able to get a ton of great information about routes and weather for heading north to SE Alaska as well as other little tips, history, and information. 

seattle boat show

The show floor was smaller than we're used to, but it was interesting to see the different style of boats used in the northwest, as well as the emphasis on fishing, crabbing, and prawning.  I don't eat seafood so it's all lost on me;  the locals can't figure out why anyone would want to boat out here if you don't care about the seafood.  Dare to be different.

The boat show was held at CenturyLink Stadium (in the conference center and indoor areas), which is the home of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.  Every day at lunchtime the facility opened the field for boat show attendees, and it was really cool to walk out on the playing surface of an NFL stadium! 

centurylink field

Being in Seattle the week before the Super Bowl was a blast.  I'm a life-long NY Giants fan, but I can appreciate any town where they are passionate about their team... and people from this area are truly rabid fans.

It's a bit of a trek for us to travel from Victoria down to Seattle (by car).  30 minute drive up to the ferry, 90 minute ferry ride over to the mainland (wiggling through the beautiful Gulf Islands - always fun), a 30 minute drive to the US/Canada border, then a 3 hour drive down to Seattle.  We take advantage of being in the US to mail things (it's faster), and buy a few things (it's cheaper, minding the rules about what we can bring back into Canada)... so it's always a Big Trip with lots of errands and shopping.  We also took our amateur radio (ham) license exams, and we both passed the Technician and General.  Ham radio will let us add more communications capability in remote places with the SSB/ham radio we have on our boat, and it will be fun to experiment with a handheld ham radio when we hike up tall mountains, etc.  Studying for the exams was a good challenge too, and we might go for the next license level when we have time next winter.  Never stop learning.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

It's always difficult to come up with interesting posts for the blog in the winter season.  This is the time of the year when we sit still for a while and catch up on maintenance and projects, and usually they're not the most glamorous or interesting things to describe.  We run the boat and all her many systems pretty hard throughout the year, and it's much easier to do preventative maintenance than to fix things in remote places - don't ask us how we know that.

adventures lit for christmas

2013 was an unusual year for us because we made the huge leap from one side of the country to the other.  We did a lot of cruising but since so many of the great cruising areas out here are fairly close together we didn't put as many miles on the boat this season.  

We started 2013 in Marathon (in our beloved Florida Keys)

Lat/Lon: 24 42.19 N  081 06.75 W (temperature: 80) and ended the year in Victoria, BC, Canada

Lat/Lon: 48 25.36 N  123 22.22 W (temperature: 45).  In that time we traveled 1466 nautical miles (which does not count the miles ADVENTURES traveled on the freighter to get out here).  That's a big difference from the years we went to Nova Scotia and cruised around 6000 nautical miles in a year. 

Moving to a very different cruising area has brought new challenges for us, and pushed us out of our comfort zone - which is a healthy thing.  We don't ever want to stop learning and growing.

We have lost some boating friends this year - far too soon.  But both of our friends really lived their lives - they accomplished a great deal in their too-short time on this earth.  Gary and Judy were extraordinary and beautiful people, each in their own way, and we remember them often.  Their untimely passing reminds us how lucky we are to be able to have the adventures we've enjoyed so far, and we never try to take any of it for granted.

We are learning to embrace grandparenthood.  Jim's son Jimmy and his wife Valerie welcomed little James in October, joining big brother Donald who is now 17 months.  While I can't come to terms with the "G-word" to describe my role in all this (I am FAR too young!), I can manage to be a "Mimi".  And I have the irrestible urge to knit a lot of little sweaters for them. 

 baby sweaters

Jim has no problems channeling his inner child, so he's always on the lookout for interesting toys.  For. The. Babies.  I think he prefers bigger boy toys, so I'm not sure who he's really shopping for.

Christmas is all put away now, and the city has changed all the lights around Parliament back to plain white.  Now it's time for chores and projects, and dreaming about heading north to Alaska in the spring.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Christmas in Victoria wouldn't be complete without a visit to the famous Butchart Gardens.  We visited the gardens by boat in early summer, and were astounded at the size and variety: an Italian formal garden, a Japanese garden, an amazing rose garden, and the huge sunken garden.  There are things to see in every season, even in winter when little touches like a small owl totem are easier to notice.  Locals recommended that we get an annual pass so we could visit the gardens as often as we liked, especially around Christmas.

butchart sleigh

We had heard about all the lights, but we wanted to see the gardens before it got dark.  The sunken garden is a favorite area, with a meandering path, cliff sides, a pond, and a small waterfall all surrounded by tall evergreen trees.  Here's what it looks like in winter during daylight hours - pretty, but without the explosion of color that you would see in the other seasons.

sunken garden before

And here is the view of the sunken garden at night...

sunken garden after

The theme throughout all the gardens was the 12 Days of Christmas, which you begin to discover as you walk around.  We saw the tree with sparkly pear ornaments... and there was a partridge sitting in it.  The two turtle doves were in a small cage... but the three French hens had a bit of whimsy...

3 french hens

I won't bore you with the rendering of the entire song, but we almost missed the four calling birds.  We saw this little grouping of birds - a cockatoo, parrots, and macaw with cell phones and didn't make the mental connection until a little later.

calling birds

We just loved it - lots of creativity, cleverness, and humor.  We were warned that the last element could only be seen as you drive away at the end of the evening... the drummers were animated in lights and there really were 12 of them arching over the driveway.  If you EVER get a chance to visit Butchart Gardens at any time of the year you must do it, but to see it at Christmas is the best. 

We were dressed warmly, but it still got cold after a while, so we took a break and had some dinner, then went back outside to hear the carolers and the brass quartet playing holiday music. 

butchart brass

I think it was most fun watching little children so excited, with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces.  Christmas is about being a kid, no matter how big or how old you are.

We wish you all a very Happy Holiday season and a Joyous New Year.


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Where are we?  We're now settled for the winter in Victoria, BC on the south end of Vancouver Island. 

map

You might notice that Vancouver is at the top of the map, on the mainland... not on Vancouver Island.  The yellow line is the US-Canada border, and the group of islands under the "RES" of our boat name are the San Juans.  We traveled as far south as Tacoma, and much farther north than this map shows in this first season of cruising the Pacific NW.

Here we are at the dock - decorated for Christmas, with the lights of Parliament in the background.

adventures decked out for the holidays

Victoria is a lovely small city, and it really goes all out for the holidays.  The first big event for us was to go see Tuba Christmas - a 40 year old tradition where musicians of all ages come together to perform.  It's a very special memory for us since we always went with our friends the Halls to hear Ed play.  We even trooped up to NYC one year to hear him play on the ice at Rockefeller Center!  We loved hearing all the music and getting into the holiday spirit, despite the fact that this year Victoria was in the midst of an unusual cold snap - the temp was 20 degrees.  Imagine holding a big chunk of brass and playing in that!  (Today we're back in the mid-40s - typical winter temps.)

tuba christmas

With frozen toes but a bounce in our step we headed home to watch the boats gather for the evening's lighted boat parade. 

parade boats gathering

The sailboat approaching the dock turned out to be the star of the parade.  He had an animated Santa that popped out of a package, with balloons that floated up.

best boat

We've participated in the Annapolis boat parade (cold!) and enjoyed watching them in the balmy Florida Keys.  Despite the bitter cold, Victoria's parade did not disappoint, and it only started after the amazing lighted truck parade moved through town!

parade

There is a lot more to photograph around town - all the pretty lights and decorated store windows.  Now that it's warmer, it's much more appealing to go out with my camera after dark. 

It has been pretty quiet around our dock, and we were hoping to meet more liveaboard neighbors... but there don't seem to be many, and people aren't outside as much in the colder weather.  We're working on finding people and community that we can connect with for the winter months, and I'm sure we will. 


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Our friends Bonnie and Walt recommended Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, and we thought it would be a great place to celebrate our anniversary and Thanksgiving - something a little special (though it's hard to imagine anything more special than the cruising season we've been having out here!)

resort from the water

The photo above isn't the greatest shot of the mansion - I took it early on an overcast morning.  It's a lovely spot and the late 1800's mansion has been beautifully restored.

resort front entrance

The place had just that kind of special feeling we needed - especially since we were really missing our friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We took solace in some of the amenities at Rosario - the hot tub and some spa treatments.  We explored the property and admired the grand view looking down Eastsound Bay to the south.

grand view

We liked sitting by the marble chip fireplace, and we had scones and hot tea one morning, sitting in this nifty side-by-side chair (a single piece of furniture).

side by side chairs

The mansion boasts a pipe organ from the turn of the 20th century, along with a beautiful piano from the same time period.  The resort's manager is a well-known local pianist (Christopher Peacock), and he gives a little concert and historical talk on Saturday afternoons. 

organ and piano

We enjoyed the Thanksgiving buffet, though it was hard to see so many families together for the holiday - it reminded us how much we miss ours. 

Growing up in NJ, I always went to my godparent's place for the big family Thanksgiving dinner, which was wonderful.  We never thought anything about it, but my godparents lived in a large apartment above the funeral home that they owned and operated.  When my brother and I were at that age where we were easily bored, Dad would take us downstairs and play hide-and-seek.  We never bothered with any rooms where someone was laid out, but we liked the smell of fresh flowers there.  In later years we enjoyed talking with the "holiday strays" at dinner - friends or people who didn't have anywhere to go for the holiday.  Sometimes they were people who worked at the funeral home...  free-lance embalmers, hair dressers, etc.  Ask me sometime about the car my parents borrowed to take me to college.  You really can't make this stuff up.

We were planning to do some serious hiking Friday and Saturday, and then enjoy the music and history presentation, but the weather report predicted some very strong fronts.  The only prudent choice was to leave the day after Thanksgiving and head to Victoria, BC - where we'll spend the winter.  We were sad to leave Rosario, but we'll be back!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

It's a short hop from Bellingham into the San Juan Islands, which is a good thing since we had some strong northerly wind and choppy conditions to deal with.  We anchored off Lopez Island to hide from the wind, and had the anchorage all to ourselves (where is everybody - it's not that cold, is it?).  We had a great view of Mt. Baker in the Cascade Mountain range to the east...

mt. baker by day

...and we particularly enjoyed its many faces as the light changed.  Dawn was my favorite look.

mt. baker at dawn

The winds settled down and we were due to get a cold snap.  We had to hose the foredeck off with salt water to get rid of the thick layer of frost, and we got a laugh at the bird footprints in the frost on one of the deck boxes.  It's no fun to run around in the dinghy in the cold, so we decided to head to the marina at Friday Harbor for the two coldest nights.  It was nice - we went to the movies, visited the knitting shop (where I found yarn and a vest pattern that I couldn't resist), and walked around town.  After two days, as it was starting to warm back up to normal temps (daytime in the mid-high 40's) we ran around to the NW side of San Juan Island to visit the National Park site called English Camp. 

english camp

This is where the English military established a camp for the 12 years when the ownership of the San Juan Islands was in dispute.  The Americans had a camp on the south end of the island, and the two sides enjoyed each other's company during the political dispute known as the Pig War.  (The only fatality was a pig.)

We hiked up the mountain above English Camp, and had some fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island.  If you look closely, ADVENTURES is the little dark speck at anchor just to the lower left of center in this photo.

mountain view

After a long afternoon hiking and exploring the Camp, we decided to take it easy the next day so we took the dinghy around to Roche Harbor.  Roche is a "resort", though it was nice and quiet this time of the year.  We strolled around the historic buildings and the old lime kilns, and we checked out the sculpture garden - a little too abstract for our tastes.  We enjoyed a nice lunch there, and then bundled up for the dinghy ride back to the boat.

Our next stop will be nearby Orcas Island and Rosario Resort to celebrate Thanksgiving.

misty dawn


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Today is our 25th Wedding Anniversary - where has the time gone?  This week also marks 9 years since we moved aboard the boat full-time.  Living in a small space has its own challenges, but we still love it.  It has been a pretty fabulous journey together so far, and we hope and pray that we get to keep having Adventures together for a long time to come.

wedding

We have a picture in the boat with a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery that really says it all:

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."

Thanks a million, Sweetie, for so much happiness and for making my dreams come true.