Monday, July 15, 2013



Crab Season opened July 1 and runs Thursday through Monday every week from now until Labor Day. While we ate terrific crab regularly for months while underway on the Great Loop last year from Florida to New York, we’re partial to our local Dungeness Crab, each of which produces almost a pound of sweet, succulent meat, unbeatable when fresh-picked and eaten with a little bit of butter.


Several times we’ve gone out on our boat with Bob’s sister Lynn and our brother-in-law David who live a couple miles up the beach from us. With 4 crab licenses and 7 crab pots between us, and Bob and David taking turns hauling the pots up on their 100 feet of weighted line, we can make pretty quick business of dropping, then later pulling, clearing, re-baiting and re-dropping pots, often leaving them overnight for retrieval the next morning.


Note the crab pot above has 4 Dungeness crab, but also a large 22-legged starfish! He got to live another day.


Siblings Lynn and Bob leaning on the transom watching David pull crabs out of the pots bare-handed inspired a chuckle out of Cathryn, imagining them in this same pose as 5 and 7 year-olds watching some fascinating spectacle.


The preferred method for removing crabs from the pots is to open the gate and shake them into a bucket below, but some crabs are far too tenacious in latching onto the pot, refusing to let go, so requiring hands-on intervention.


Yesterday we pulled 6 Dungeness crabs, all male and over 6.25 inches of course, and today we caught SIXTEEN! A legal limit is 5 per person/license per day, so we could have brought in 4 more had we been so lucky. Meanwhile, we’re anticipating some great crab feasts!

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Celebration Followed By a Night in Town

Saturday  we went to Seattle for late brunch with friends Beth, Phil, Agnes and Mary.  Agnes and Mary got married in the Spring, and unfortunately their wedding reception is August 3rd, the same day as our daughter’s, so we’ll miss it.  We’ve known Agnes and Mary for 20 and 30 years respectively, and didn’t want to let their marriage go uncelebrated. The six of us get together several times each year.

After brunch we drove downtown and had wine, appetizers, and Manhattans at son Ryan’s and almost-DIL Jaime’s condo.  We brought the “smelly” cheeses from our stop at the Monteillet Fromagerie on our recent trip to Walla Walla. Ryan supplied home-made Bitters and Makers Mark for the Manhattans. Yum!


Later the 4 of us walked a few blocks to Jazz Alley to see Blues legend John Mayall.  When we walked in, John was at a counter selling CDs, so we got to talk to him briefly.


John Mayall is 79, will be 80 in November, and while Bob has been listening to his music since the 1960s when Mayall and Eric Clapton played together in the “Blues Breakers”, we wondered if it was going to be one of those “famous-but-no- longer-great” performances that seem so common these days with touring has-beens. We needn't have worried; Mayall’s voice was astonishingly strong, and his music was vibrant.  The old favorites rang out, and we were sorry for the set to end.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Urban Weekend

We live in a rural area on the west side of Puget Sound where it’s 8 miles to the closest grocery store, for example. So much of our fun centers around the outdoors, friends and neighbors. This weekend we decided to take advantage of our daughter and son-in-law’s trip to Austria and stay in their home in Seattle to enjoy some urban activities.


It was a beautiful summer evening when we arrived by ferry in West Seattle, so we drove down Beach Drive to a favorite Mexican restaurant. It was Friday night and, as always when the sun comes out, Alki Beach was crowded.  We sat at an outdoor table and enjoyed watching the “date night” scene.


The next morning we returned to Alki Beach, this time by bicycle to work off some of the previous evening’s over-indulgence. It was even more crowded than normal.


We began to hear loud KA-BOOMs in the distance and then saw a landing craft with a crowd of men on deck, some firing canons and waving swords.


The landing craft came to the beach and immediately began to disgorge a large group of what appeared to be pirates.


OK, maybe we knew all along the Seafair Pirates would be landing that morning, kicking off the annual month-long celebration of all things Seattle for Seafair.


Seattleites do get into the pirate theme.


Some are less fierce than others.


Not clear how the pink unicorn fits the theme, but she certainly seemed to like it.


Seattle’s semi-finest were present.


Not all the pirates appeared as ferocious as the one who captured Cathryn.


Street musicians were everywhere.


But you don’t always find pole vaulters at the beach. The UW team apparently wanted to join the fun.  Amazing to watch people hurl themselves through the air like this!

Following the “invasion” and the ceremony surrendering the City to the pirates, we rode back to the house and had lunch before an afternoon activity.


Every 4th of July the Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union sponsors a free Wooden Boat Show.  We’ve attended several time over the years. In fact, an invitation to the Wooden Boat Show was the first date Bob asked Cathryn to go on.  She turned him down, but he persisted, and one thing led to another.


The newly completed South Lake Union Park has a small basin for sailing radio-controlled boats, and the new Museum of History and Industry is in the background.


This boat above is powered by electricity.


Talk about a lot of bright work!


Attendees were invited to vote for their favorite boat on exhibit, and the one below received our votes. If we were wanting to buy a boat, and money were no object, this wouldn’t be our choice, but the story completely won our hearts. Bob and Pat purchased “Miracle” 21 years ago, and she was in truly pathetic condition, with photos to document that fact. Bob spent 18 YEARS re-building this boat, and they gave us a tour of the inside. Every detail is well thought out for functionality, well-designed, and beautiful. She is now seaworthy, gorgeous and something of which they can be very proud. And she shines!


There were a number of hulls in this condition.


How would you like to have to keep this hull looking good?


Like glass.


All the boats on display were drop-dead gorgeous, but we think we’ll stick with fiberglass. Does that make us lazy?


It was a great day to be outdoors in Seattle, with sunshine, no humidity and 78 degrees. We felt very fortunate, as the rest of the country seems to be sweltering and literally on fire, or drowning in rain, humidity, heat and flood conditions.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our Small Loop


We bought our home on Colvos Passage in 2004, and our first motor boat in the summer 2005. That path eventually led us to our 2012-13 Great Loop adventure, but the lead-up to that odyssey involved many smaller loops. Every year since 2005 we’ve traveled at least one, and sometimes several, circumnavigations of Vashon Island, the land mass in our view across Colvos Passage.


The joke about Vashon Island is that it’s just like Manhattan Island because it’s the same geographic size. In fact, it has less than 1% of Manhattan’s population, so is sparsely developed and mostly rural. Yesterday we made our annual circumnavigation so we could check out the waterfront homes and enjoy the sunny 88-degree day, keeping cool by traveling at trawler speed on the surface of the 53-degree waters of the Salish Sea, also known as Puget Sound.

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We saw always-spectacular views of both the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, boat traffic of every variety, and beaches full of people flying kites and playing with their dogs. Bob cranked up the music, we sipped a beer, and life felt pretty darned good. So we’ve completed our 2013 Small Loop.

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We retired  in 2007. Historically this blog, which began in 2008 as our “Travel Journal”, not a Great Loop blog at that time, only covered trips we took. It began with photos, no stories, of our month-long trip to Tanzania and South Africa in 2008, then stories were added in later years to cover Morocco, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, Portugal, 3 winters in our small RV on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and more.

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Now we’re getting encouragement from folks who followed our blog during the 15 months we lived on Next To Me and traveled the Great Loop to keep up the blog. While we don’t have any big trips planned until January when we depart for Guatemala and Mexico for 3 months, we’ll try to put up a post here and there about other activities in our life.

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Meanwhile, we were supposed to board an airplane two days ago to fly to Toronto, then ride a bus or rent a car to join Looper friends Mark and Allyn on Second Wind, spending a week traveling with them in the Trent-Severn Waterway or Georgian Bay. Or at least that’s where we thought they’d be when we bought our tickets six weeks ago.


But it’s been raining heavily in New York for more than a month, the Erie Canal has been closed for almost 3 weeks due to flooding and damage, and Second Wind still sits at a marina between Locks 6 and 7 on the Erie Canal, going nowhere, with no foreseeable re-opening date. So we cancelled our trip to join them, sadly. See the flooding and lock damage above, joined by out-of-position navigational buoys. What a mess!

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Instead, Bob had time to finish the new deck he built on top of our bulkhead, and we’ve been enjoying sitting at the water’s edge with a glass of wine, either at cocktail hour with friends, or late at night by ourselves after the solar lights have come on.


The next big thing for us is our youngest daughter’s wedding here at our home. Adrienne and Justin will marry on August 2, and we look forward to time with our family, his family, and friends. So we’re in wedding preparation mode! And on New Year’s Eve our son Ryan will marry Jaime, bringing the year to a wonderful end.