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Across the pond

19 Apr

For a spring, non-cruising vacation we decided to hop across the pond and visit England. We spent the bulk of our time in London, but broke out of the city for a few key day trips. For those who follow our blog, I’m sure you’ll guess the first spot. No?

Well, we have two girls who love, love, love the Harry Potter books and movies. Turns out that Warner Brothers now has a back lot tour of all things movie related. When we say all things, we truly do mean ALL things. Fans of the movies could spend a whole day poring over the hugely detailed sets and costumes. We had a wonderful time, even little Peyton who was fighting down a fever that day.

The second non-London day was a private bus trip up to Bath (and yes we did taste the water!) and Stonehenge. Can’t say enough about how wonderfully The English Bus managed our day for us, and it truly was a highlight.

In London we visited Abbey Road, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Spitalfield Market, Buckingham Palace, St. Johns Park, the Churchill War Rooms, Houses of Parliament/Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, the British Museum (think Rosetta Stone and loads of mummies), the Royal Observatory (prime meridian), and the Royal London Hospital (when Peyton’s cold got a bit concerning).

Andy’s putting together a slide show…perhaps we’ll share it via youtube soon. In the meantime, here are a few selected photos.
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The London Eye

 

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Mushy peas!

 

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London, baby!

 

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Hogwarts

 

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Kensington Gardens

 

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Waiting at THE palace for the changing of the guard

 

 

Okay Fort Lauderdale, you won us over

27 Apr

Last year when we came through Fort Lauderdale, it was spring break and we stayed at a public marina just off the beach. What do we remember about that visit other than being parked right next to a mega yacht once owned by Tiger Woods? Red solo dixie cups littering the beach and drunk people throwing up. As our east coast adventures wind down, Robin believed that Fort Lauderdale has more to offer and was determined we could find it. We succeeded on this visit (especially since it was post spring break).

We visited the Museum of Art (they have a wonderful and moving Civil Rights photography exhibit) and the Museum of Science (fellow boaters June and Joseph got scared with us at the Goosebumps exhibit…thanks guys!). We also saw a few IMAX movies in 3D (Islands of Madagascar and Avatar), found a old car show, walked the fancy shops on Las Olas Blvd where we saw Rolls Royces parked next to Lamborghinis, and enjoyed all the boardwalk sights. It was especially fun to sit in our cockpit and people watch as boats large and small cruised up and down the New River, most with their music pumping.

Our marina also had lots of muscovy ducks, and since it is spring time there were ducklings aplenty. Max wanted to chase them all down, but after the palm warbler incident, he is not trusted around anything with feathers.

Robin met a wonderful and passionate boater…in the showers…which just proves that you never know where or when you are going to meet someone special! We wish we could have hung around longer and gotten to know Audrey and Frank better. Check out the great work they are doing to connect Americans, especially people of color, with our national parks.

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Kid wall at the Museum of Art

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Lots of cool cars

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Peyton in action

Key West, part deux

7 Apr

As our time in the Keys winds down, we decided to hit up Key West once more and visit some of the museums. The girls were dying to see shipwreck treasure and six-toed cats. 🙂

It was a lovely day, spent hanging out with the treasures at the Mel Fisher Museum and the home of author Ernest Hemingway, and great Cuban food at Juan Loves Lucy. We ended it all with a Mallory Square people-watching-sunset.

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When Hemingway was traveling to Paris, his wife wanted to surprise him with a new swimming pool at a cost of 20,000 dollars. The sticker shocked author handed this penny to his wife and said, “Pauline, you’ve spent all but my last penny, so you might as well have that!” The penny is still here.

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Madi was so impressed with all the recovered treasure

Hemingway's house...built on the highest hill in the Keys at 16 feet above sea level

Hemingway’s house…built on the highest hill in the Keys at 16 feet above sea level

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Mallory Square…so many interesting characters

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Hemingway’s writing studio

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Atocha pottery treasure

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Hemingway’s garden

Sloppy Joe's

Sloppy Joe’s

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Madi got a great shot of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats. Currently there are 45 cats living on the property. They consume 80 pounds of cat food each week!

Crane Point

15 Mar

Today we decided to brave a three mile walk up to the Crane Point Museum and Nature Center. The nature walk through a Florida hammock was very beautiful, and the museum provided a nice history of the Flagler railroad and some of the early settlements in the middle Keys. Good to catch the local history when we can!

Crane park is known for several insects. We didn’t see the bees (apparently two of the colonies up and swarmed off), and the butterfly garden was very empty, but the golden orb spiders were pretty amazing (okay, they are also a tad bit creepy with their webs right over your head).

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The girls claim this banyan tree as their new tree house

Checking out the gulf side behind the Crane house

Checking out the gulf side behind the Crane house

Nothing satisfies after walking miles like ice cream…and we find every excuse to enjoy local ice cream shops.

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Checking out the gulf side behind the Crane house

Food and Science

20 Apr

Today was Miami Eats Day at the Miami Science Museum. It is a smaller museum, but had quite a few great conservation exhibits in addition to all the special exhibits. The girls learned how to make quick cabbage pickles, kale/avocado smoothies, and got to walk on a sidewalk that uses your foot motion to generate electricity.

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Peyton even got to decorate a teacup and get it fired in a kiln.

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St. Augustine Lighthouse

18 Feb

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Saint Augustine, Florida

11 Feb

Sunset from our mooring location.

The stockade at the Saint Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.

The stockade at the Saint Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.

This is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Construction started in 1672.

This is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Construction started in 1672.

Simply BeautifulWe made the rather uneventful five hour trek from Jacksonville to Saint Augustine with some really awesome weather. A tad chilly, but with the blizzard “blizzarding” in the northeast we have no room to complain. We pulled into the mooring field in “Saint Auggie”, as the locals say, around sunset. We were assigned mooring ball #30 in a field of over 150 which made finding it a bit of a challenge. Once we honed in on our target it was simply a matter of easing up to it and grabbing the mooring line and attaching it to our bridle. Robin nailed it on the first try.

After motoring the dinghy to the marina office to check in we decided that it was getting too dark to be shooting back and forth to the shore and the city and we would put on our tourist hats for the following day. We were all pretty tired anyway. A nice dinner and a good night sleep was well received by all.

One of the fears that I constantly fight is the thought of our anchor breaking free while we are sleeping and having our boat crash into something hard and craggy. That would be bad. I have an anchor alarm app on my iPhone that gives me more piece of mind while we are sleeping but I am always on edge for the first few hours at anchor. The river that we are in has a pretty strong current so, even with my phone keeping watch, I still have a little cartoon devil poking me in with his pitchfork and reminding me that catastrophe is just around the corner!
Technically we are not at anchor since we are hooked up to a mooring ball and the chance of anything breaking free from it are slim to none. Regardless, at around 9 AM Robin and I heard an odd noise coming from the bow. I popped out of of my sleep and walked up into the galley area just in time to see the boat next to us moving past us. WE HAD BROKEN FREE! (or so I thought in my sleepiness). I grabbed the keys and jumped into the cockpit with nothing covering me except my underwear and a cloak of sheer panic. As I fired up the engine my wits started to settle in and then I remembered that, when you are in a tidal river all of the boats will move around depending on which way the tides and winds are moving. We were still attached to our mooring ball and my cloak of panic shifted to a cloak of embarrassment. Not because I was wearing only underwear in a crowded mooring field (this is me after all) but because I panicked when I should have just evaluated the situation calmly. Live and learn.

Saint Augustine is an amazing city. Gorgeous Spanish architecture dot the landscape of the oldest city in the U.S. We took the dinghy ashore and did a little shopping, a little eating, and a little sightseeing. The highlight of the day was a trip to a pirate museum where we saw incredible artifacts like doubloons, pistols, and even Captain Kidd’s Bible. Neat!

We will be here for another week or so as we have to have some repairs done at a local shipyard. This is a great place to be stranded for a week!

Arghhh!

Andy

Museum Day

11 Nov

Happy Veteran’s Day from the deck of the USS Wisconsin!

Visiting Nauticus

Visiting Nauticus