Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love that Pilothouse...

In spite of the chilly weather and blustery wind, we went out and about on Wild Blue today. No destination, no schedule, just enjoying some time on the water. Little Izzy hasn't been on the boat since we came back from the Erie Canal cruise, so she got some boat time today, too. (Important to keep her hand [paw?] in it.) Even though it was a bit lumpy in the open areas, she did fine... hopped up on the aft dinette seat and tucked her little paws under... settled right in.

We chugged around for several hours and burned less than 3 gallons of fuel. The C-Dory can be very economical for a boat when you keep it to displacement speed. Check out the fuel burn...

Yeah, that's one whole gallon per hour, at about 6 knots...

And check out that water temp: 57.2º!! It was 62º just a few days ago. It was a kinda gray sky and the water was brownish green. Certainly not the "ideal" boating day... unless you have a comfortable pilothouse boat that protects you from the wind and spray... and the heater keeping it shirtsleeve comfortable inside... and a silky cat.

Winter Weather...

The mid-west and southeast are getting hammered by another winter storm - ice, snow, and bitter cold. The Tropical Tip caught the tail end of that system... the first norther to blow in since we returned. After the past couple nights on the boat, it was back to the house last night. I think I heard the heat kick on in the middle of the night. ;-) No precip, but it was all the way down to 47º when I got up this morning. Wind out of the NNW at 15-20, and kinda cloudy. Yeah, I know - you don't feel sorry for me.

Little Izzy climbed under the blanket on Joan's lap...

Lucky cat! I'm pretty lucky, too... Joan said she'd make chocolate chip cookies today. Kinda makes up for having to wear long pants and a sweatshirt. Kinda.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Still looking for a literary agent...

I got my first "thanks, but no thanks" rejection letter yesterday, regarding my book. I've already sent out another query... this process is much slower than I thought. In the meantime, I have a new title for the book: Cat On a Leash. I was originally considering: Molly, the Catboat Cat, but had a concern that it sounded too much like a children's book (OK, I've already written the children's version, too.).

Here's the cover...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Day of Dolphin Watching...

Just when you think it can't get any better, Mother Nature gives you a really spectacular day. And the dolphins were out playing.

The highlight of the day was a momma and baby swimming right beside the boat...

And finishing off the day with some kick back time in the cockpit...

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Another beautiful day in the Tropical Tip. Sunny, breezy, warm. A fine day for some dolphin watching.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The weather weasels were predicting winds gusting 25-35. They were right. We went for a walk in the morning, and it was a lot of work walking back into the wind.

After lunch, the wind started to ease up. I suggested a boat ride, Joan declined. I waved good-bye and headed for the boat. When I left, the wind was down to about 20 mph. By the time I got out of our canal, it was down to the mid-teens. It dropped steadily as I headed for the Gulf.

I was expecting big waves, but was delighted to see mostly widely spaced swells. I didn’t even have to use the windshield wipers. I spent an hour or so out in the Gulf - only saw one other boat.

By the time I came in from the Gulf, there were lots of boats... and a perfect afternoon for it. Sunny, mid-70s, and the wind was very light.

Another 30 or 40 days like this, and I’ll be caught up.


Little Izzy had her one year check up this week. She's a healthy girl, but had to get three shots. She was moving kinda slow the next day...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Foggy... but out and about

I was up early and out while it was still dark. Joan and Izzy stayed home. I took Wild Blue to the fuel dock and put in $100 of fuel. It was kinda foggy - no sunrise to be had. But, it felt great to be back on the boat.

When I came to the Port Isabel Turning Basin, the visibility was about 1/2 mile and all the small bay shrimpers were working there. That’s unusual - they’re generally in the ship channel. Before I got to the ship channel, the reason became very apparent: the fog was so thick there, you couldn’t see either side of the channel.

I turned on the radar and headed east. The radar showed that there were no other boats in the area. I figured this was a good time to check out all the equipment and get me back up to speed on running with the radar.

Some people relate boating in the fog with flying in IFR conditions. I don’t see that. The only thing they have in common is a lack of visibility. In the air, you have Air Traffic Control providing separation of traffic; that doesn’t exist on the water... anybody with a boat could be out there. You are on your own to stay out of each others' way. With the boat, you can pull the throttle back and take a few minutes to sort things out... you can’t do that in the air. Three axis of movement in the air vs two axis on the water... unless your boat is sinking. On the boat, you are supposed to travel very slowly in low visibility - so you can stop if the situation dictates that... no stopping an airplane in the air.

But, it was a great time out on the water. Using the radar and the chartplotter, I made my way through the jetties and out into the Gulf. I didn’t stay out there long... not much to see when the visibility is about 200 yards.

I came back in, through the jetties, and north in the Laguna. At one point, you cross under powerlines that extend over the water... I couldn’t see the power poles until I was between them... and then just a glimpse for a few seconds.

I ran the boat to the causeway, then puttered around until just before the hour so I could come in through the Long Island Swing Bridge. Once through the bridge, the visibility began to improve again. In three hours, I saw one small boat (besides the small bay shrimpers), and he was tied to some pilings by the causeway.

Back at our dock, I tied off Wild Blue and rinsed her off. Joan was making a late breakfast for me. After that, I soaked in the jacuzzi tub, then cleaned up. All before 11:00.

Yeah, it’s nice to be back in the Tropical Tip.


Can't see much...

There's supposed to be a BIG bridge out there...

A closer look at the chartplotter and radar...

There it is!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wild Blue is out...

Out of storage...

She got a little grubby after two months in storage, so this afternoon was clean up and set up. Tomorrow, she goes back in the water. Yeah, I'm ready!

Monday, January 18, 2010


A view of the sunset off our back deck...

Saturday, January 16, 2010


We drove the last 300 miles in sunshine and with a tailwind. Nice! Now, the unloading process. We're looking forward to some relaxing, boating, beach walking... oh, and maybe some sunning. I've been wearing long pants for most of the last 3 months; this is as pale as these legs have looked in many years.

While we've spent more time on the boat or in the HitchHiker the past year, it feels good to be home. Izzy was a little unsure when we first brought her in, but within a few minutes she was up on her tower and batting one of her toys all around the tile.

We'll spend the next couple days cleaning and emptying the HitchHiker, then swap her out for Wild Blue.

One treat was getting our mail... we haven't received any for the past two months. Lots of Christmas cards! Like getting a second holiday season.

Friday, January 15, 2010


On the Nuwa Owners Forum, someone commented on Izzy being a "covergirl". I posted this image on there, thought others might enjoy it...

It was a "south Texas winter day": wind and rain. We didn't leave the coach. Joan made pancakes and sausage for breakfast and chili for supper... real comfort foods on this blustery day. The fireplace in the coach keeps it cozy warm without having to run the furnace.

Heading for home tomorrow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Flash Flood Warnings...

After driving for several hours through the dirt and dust of west Texas, we ran into rain and fog in the Hill Country. We're down for the night just south of San Antonio. LOTS of standing water all around the RV park, but Mother Nature did let us get set up and inside before the rain started up again. I asked for a site that would accommodate our 65 foot length, and they said they have a site that is 83 feet long... "Perfect!" No problem getting the slides out, BUT there are two large trees on either side of our coach... should be an interesting departure in the morning.

Assuming we depart in the morning. Checking local weather, it looks like we're in for heavy rain and wind for the next 24 hours... we may just sit for a day to wait it out. Flash flood warnings for the entire area...100% chance of soaking rains. Thunder-boomers rumbling right now. Low around 50º tonight, so at least it shouldn't be like the snow we encountered in El Paso in November.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blowing Dirt Festival - Still In Full Bloom!

Across New Mexico and into west Texas today. Nice to know that the Annual Blowing Dirt Festival is still in full bloom. On the bright side, the diesel prices are higher along this stretch... because they can (not a lot of options).

A while back I started a "ya know what I hate" thread (even though my dear ol' Mother taught me not to hate) on the HitchHiker owners forum. This month's edition is: pay at the pump fuel stations where you CAN'T pay at the pump. You have to go inside, give them your credit card, a $100 bill, your Mother's maiden name, the pin numbers to your ATM and debit cards, all the passwords to every financial site you've ever visited... and then stand in line AGAIN to get your card back after you pump the fuel. Yeah, I REALLY hate that! :angry: I was second in line at the Flying J in El Paso today, excited about the prospect of giving the indifferent little girl behind the counter all my personal information, when she announced, "This line is closed." No explanation, she didn't even pretend to feign a bit of fake concern... she pulled out her cash drawer and walked away. Yeah, I hate that, too. On the bright side, the three of us who were in line moved to the next cashier at the far end of the desk... who spent 5 minutes (doesn't sound like much time, until you read the next part) trying to figure out how to ring up an employee discount for $2.67 worth of food.

We drove through the clear blue skies, varying wind directions and strengths, and blowing dirt for hours... and we're still in west Texas. ???

But, other than that, everything is fine. Little Izzy sat next to me most of the day - that always makes the drive more pleasant.

Scads of RVs on the road today - people are on the move. Maybe it's the cold weather driving them to the southwest? Or maybe they've decided the economy isn't going to keep them home this winter?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homeward Bound...

We had a very enjoyable week in Laughlin. The casinos will have to stay open, since they didn't make enough off us to retire and close up. We did a day trip to Oatman, walked along the river regularly, checked out all the casinos, ate well, walked little Izzy plenty, took a boat ride on the Colorado River, and just generally had a great time.

Yesterday, we were back in the Phoenix area to see our little girl one last time. We made it to Deming, New Mexico, today and are down for the night in the Escapees park. It's above 4,000 feet here, and supposed to get down to 23º tonight! Not my idea of fun, but the HitchHiker is well insulated and we have 50 amp to run the fireplace.

Big wind right on the nose most of the day today... not sure how we manage to get that every direction we travel. But, the sun was shining, the conversation was pleasant, and little Izzy took turns giving us both plenty of attention. Not a bad way to travel

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

On Wednesday, we did a day trip to Las Vegas. It's been a few years since we've been there, and we knew there have been changes along the strip. Turns out that's an understatement - make that LOTS of changes. New casinos, big hotels, BIG condo projects. We only spent about 5 hours there, mostly wandering on the strip. Pretty sure I embarrassed Joan... hard to control the "Hooooo-weeee!" coming out of my mouth.

A trip out to Blue Diamond Road showed that the RV park we used to stay at was gone. As is: ain't there no more. It was connected with BoomTown, which later became Silverton... which has also grown. Surprising that the land is more useful as a gravel lot instead of an RV park. On the bright side, it's that complex is also the home to a new Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World.

It was a pretty drive to Vegas and back. We spent a lot of time in this area in our early RVing days. Vegas is fun, but it has really grown into a big city... lots of traffic and a brown smog cloud that you could see from miles away. I guess Laughlin is more our style... and size.

Here's a look at our site at the Riverside...

Baby, it's cold outside! Well, not so much here; it's been daytime highs in the 60s, nightime lows in the 40s, and windy. But most of the rest of the country has been in a real deep freeze. Even at home in the Tropical Tip, the lows have been around freezing! This morning, Izzy was watching reports on the Today Show about the cold and black ice car crashes around Atlanta. Guess it made her chilly...

Take a cue from Izzy, and bundle up out there.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rolling, and Let It Ride...

We left the Phoenix area yesterday, landing in Laughlin, Nevada. We have a nostalgic fondness for Laughlin - it was one of our first fun places to RV back in the early 90s, and we've come back frequently. We're not big gamblers, but enjoy the walking along the river walk, through casinos, and the easy access to it all from the Riverside RV Park.

Yesterday, we were down a couple bucks for the day. Literally - $2. Some would say that's cheap entertainment, but we make up for it on the buffets. Roll Eyes $7.99 for a prime rib buffet. Go easy through the salad part... oh sure, it's part of their "scheme" to fill you up on that stuff... but, I know my way around a buffet: a dab of this, a bit of that. Then get to the good stuff (prime rib, bbq ribs, carnitas); heck, I could eat $7.99 in corn muffins alone. Cool

My goal these days: not to break the bank, I'll break the kitchen. grin And then go walk it off.

I remember the "good ol' days" in Laughlin: the $1.99 breakfast buffets, and you could get 2 for 1 coupons just by walking along the river walkway at the right time. Oh yeah, they had $1 blackjack tables back then, too.

Why, when I was your age...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

We rang out the old year in the best way possible: with Steph and Dan... in a fun, but quiet setting... kicking their butts while playing games. OK, we won Wits & Wagers, they won Mexican Train, they won Compatibility, and we narrowly won Trivial Pursuit. It really doesn’t matter who won - it was a fun way to spend the evening. No rowdy crowds, no screaming drunks, no goofy hats. Happy New Year!

We missed the “ball drop”, which would have been at 10:00 local time... we were deep into trying to get through Trivial Pursuit. It’s humbling. We were home by 10:30, in bed before 11:30, and asleep before midnight. I think I heard a little noise as some folks managed to stay up... we are in a 55+ park.

There was a spectacular Blue Moon last night when we drove home. Blue Moons occur about once every two and a half years, which is the origin of the saying “once in a blue moon.” The next New Year’s Blue Moon won’t occur again until 2028. No, the moon isn’t really blue.

As you may know, the last few years we have welcomed in the New Year at anchor... fireworks over South Padre Island, then settling into the v-berth. And then the first sunrise of the New Year. This year is a departure, but the desert sunrise is still pretty nice.

Little Izzy was with us last New Year’s Eve. It was her first overnight on the boat... she’s had many more since then. Her New Year was pretty quiet, too... I guess she didn’t feel the need to go out and howl at the moon.

Speak of little Izzy, I was walking her yesterday when a pick-up camper pulled in. The lady in the camper got out to walk her little Yorkie. I saw the look on Izzy’s face... “Hey, that looks like Snack!” She immediately trotted over to say hi to her friend. When she got almost nose to nose with the little guy (his eyes got BIG when this gi-normous cat came up to him), she realized it wasn’t Snack... and hissed in his face, almost rolling him over! I apologized for her rude behavior and visited with the folks for a bit. Izzy sat off to the side. No photo; I didn’t have my camera with me.