Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gypsies Travels 7

Here we are again all my little elves. I hope you all have been good this year so Santa brings you lots of gifts! Well, our adventures have taken us all the way to Florida, but before we made it here, we visited many great places. We've had so much fun watching the dolphins swimming along side us and keeping us company throughout the trip, starting in the Carolinas.
This one was playing along side us when we left Charleston, South Carolina. That evening we anchored in Tom's Point Creek for the evening then headed the next morning, Thanksgiving Day, to Beaufort, South Carolina.

This is where we had our Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings. We were able to fit a 12-pound turkey in our convection oven and it came out fabulous!

We had enough for all of us to have seconds for dinner and for a fun breakfast with turkey sandwiches and some fancy "Egg Benedicts" made from the left over stuffing made into patties topped with turkey, an egg and topped with hollandaise sauce. Yummy! After our breakfast, we headed off the boat to check out the town of Beaufort, S.C; Not to be confused with Beaufort, North Carolina -- one being BO-Fort, the other being BYOO-Fort.

Again we noticed the Spanish Moss all over the trees (this one with a mermaid statue). Can you remember what popular fruit the Spanish Moss comes from? We walked around the town for a while but it started to rain so we headed back to the boat. It was time to leave and get ready to head further south but Beaufort was a very nice place to spend our Thanksgiving holiday.

Our next stop was Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This has been known for years as a great golf destination and has many golf courses on the island to show for it. Because we don't play golf anymore, there wasn't much to see or do. We did head over to a place called Parrot Cove to have lunch and got to see them decorating Neptune with his Christmas outfit. Do you remember who Neptune is? Hint it has something to do with Roman mythology. Hilton Head Island is only 40 miles by car from Savannah, Georgia. That's a place we all wanted to visit, so we rented a car and went to Savannah. It was pouring rain, so instead of doing our usual walking around town, John found a trolley tour to take, so we didn't get soaking wet. The trolley car driver was great. He grew up in Savannah so he knew all the sights and history of the city. It was a wonderful way to see and learn. The trolleys run through the town every twenty minutes so we could jump off from time to time to check out the places we wanted to visit. The whole tour took about 2 hours, but because of the rain, we only got off the trolley to have lunch then headed back on for the rest of the tour. The rain didn't let up until late the next day so so it kept us from being able to leave on the boat. That meant we were able to head back into Savannah the next day to take some pictures of the places we liked.

One of my favorite channels on TV is the Food Network and even though "Alton Brown" and the "Barefoot Contessa" are my favorite shows, I enjoy watching "Paula Deen". She has her restaurant here in Savannah so I had to go see it. I even got my picture taken with her! She makes really fattening southern cooking recipes but I enjoy her personality and the people of Savannah also embrace her for that. We then headed to the many historic parks and squares and houses of Savannah. It has 22 squares and each one is named in memory of Savannah's most famous people. One of our favorite squares was "Wright Square".

In this square is the final resting place of the Yomacrow Indian Tribe leader "Tomochichi". He helped the first white settlers found the colony of Georgia. He has a big rock as his headstone.

The city is also known for these very cute iron "down spouts" in the shape of dolphins. These are used to run the water off the roof gutters to the sidewalk when it rains.

One of the largest parks in the city is Forsyth Park, which is named after John Forsyth, the first Governor of Georgia. It has a beautiful large fountain in the middle of it. The city is well known as home to the founder of the "Girl Scouts of America". A woman named Juliette Gordon Low is the founder, and many Girl Scouts come to visit the original house every year.

As we headed down towards the water, we came across and old "Cotton Exchange". Here the boats would come into the harbor and up to this area where trucks would come and sell their cotton. Later on, it would be shipped to the north -- to cities just like Manchester -- to be turned into fabric. This was one of the bridges over the roadway to the water. If you look closely, you can see that the road below is made of stones, which is why it's called a "cobblestone street". When ships would come across the ocean, they would have to put rocks in the bottom of their boats for "ballast", which means to balance the boat. The southern states like Georgia have great soil to farm and grow cotton and vegetables, but they don't have much rock in the ground, so they like using the stones from the ships to help build better roads. This Cotton Exchange was one of the busiest exchanges back in the early 1800's.
There is also a statue that was built in memory of "Florence Martus". For 44 years Florence stood at the opening of the harbor and would wave to every ship that came in or out of harbor, using a handkerchief during the day and a lantern at night. Folklore says that she actually fell in love with a sailor and would wave at all the boats, hoping to some day find her lost love again. For 44 years, from 1887 to 1937, he never made it home to her. Poor girl!

Our favorite place of all was the "Pirate House". Back many years ago, all the pirates would hang out in this restaurant and inn. They would be looking for others that may want to become pirates and join the pirate ships. These ships haunted the seas for years, shooting at sailors and stealing whatever valuables were on the boats. They called the goods they stole their "booty". Sometimes they even took the whole ship! It is just a hotel and an inn now, but still looked very cool!

The winds and rain calmed down enough to be back out on the water and heading further south. Even though we drove a car to visit Georgia, the boat never had actually gotten there. So we were happy to be in the boat crossing into Georgia. On our way though the ICW we saw some nice Christmas decorations. This is a very big snowman that was waving to the cars going by on the roadway next to us, but we only got the back side of it. That night we went into Herb Creek to anchor for the night with plans on going outside the ICW to the Atlantic Ocean the next day. As you know the ICW runs all the way through Florida but it is each state's responsibility to dredge it to keep it deep enough for boats to go through. Because Georgia is not as wealthy as some of the other states, they don't put very much money into the dredging so it makes it difficult in many areas in Georgia for larger boats to travel through. So Doug and Tammy decided it was time to head outside and make up some time traveling on the ocean. We had a picture perfect day with very calm seas along with lots of shrimp boats with their nets flying high, getting ready to drop into the ocean and see how many shrimp they can bring in. All of this made our first stop in Florida (Amelia Island, Fernandina, Florida) a breeze.

As we made our approach to our mooring ball, we went by Fort San Carlos, which protected the island and the first town of Northern Florida from many enemies. Amelia Island is known as the "Island of 8 Flags". Starting in the early 1600's, Florida was captured and owned by seven different countries before the last flag, that being the United States. It started with France, then Spain, next was Great Britain, then Spain again, then to The Patriot of Amelia Island to the Green Cross of Florida, then Mexico, then the Confederate States of America to now being the United States. The Spanish built the fort the second time they flew their flag. There must have been a lot of cannon balls being shot from Fort San Carlos! After we got settled on the mooring ball, we dropped the dinghy over the side and boated over to the town to see what Fernandina was like. We stopped by the first restaurant and bar ever in Florida called The Palace. Next we went to a part of Fernandina Beach to checkout a spot that had one of the most beautiful sunsets. It was late, so went went back to the boat and decided we would stay a few days and check out the rest of the island. The next day was Saturday so there was a lot going on for Christmas celebrations in town. They were having an open house tour of all the historical houses in Fernandina.

One house even had "carolers" on the porch singing Christmas Carols.

They had the whole house decorated for the holiday and a pretty little pony from an old merry-go-round.

As we made our way downtown, we started to notice about 60 dogs walking around and dressed in Christmas outfits. We went into one of the stores and the women told us that they were having their annual "Christmas Dog Parade"! It seems that everyone on Amelia Island that owns a dog dresses themselves and the dog up for the parade and marched right down main street. Well, I will have to say that this was a first for all of us. Never have we ever seen such a thing, but the folks here seemed to take their parade very seriously. We found it very entertaining. After the parade we went to the main square that had a statue of Peg Leg the Pirate. Lots of pirate's stuff down here huh?

We also ran into "Black Beard" one of the most feared pirates ever. They did have some nice statues though.

Here I am with Santa! As we were walking around, we ran into another couple that are cruising on their boat that we had met in Alligator Marina at our first "Cruiser Party" named Brett and Jill. We ended up have dinner with them at a restaurant we stopped by and we were all invited to an oyster grilling party on their back deck.

A young couple, Sean and Allison supplied all the oysters. Sean fired up the grill while Allison put out all of the utensils needed to open the hot oysters off the grill and all the condiments that were needed.

Sean did his best in teaching us how to open them and Allison showed us how to pile on the condiments. After eating about 20 oysters each (except for Tammy, she thinks they look like something that comes out of your nose!) we ordered pizza for everyone on the deck and the restaurant was great about supplying us with the plates and utensils needed. We had such a wonderful night and met some truly beautiful people.

Our time was up on Amelia Island so it was just about time to head back out to the ocean to St. Augustine, Florida. Founded in 1565, it is America's oldest permanently settled European city.

Once again on our journey through St. Augustine we came across another fort protecting this city, Castillo de San Marcos.

In this fort they had an interesting large oven. At first we though it was to make bread to feed the troops but as we read the sign it proved to be a cannon ball oven. They would use this oven to heat the cannon balls until they were bright red and very hot. Then they would put them into a cannon and shoot them onto the ships that were fighting to take over the fort. When the cannon balls hit the decks of the wooden ships, the ships would soon catch fire and sink. I just thought that that was one of the cleverest ideas. I wanted to meet the man or woman who thought that one up! Right down from the fort was the Spanish Quarter. This area is a complete replica about a mile long that is a living history museum of what life was like during the 1740's in St. Augustine, a remote outpost of the Spanish empire. In this area stands the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA that was built by the Spanish in the 1700's. After a few hours of walking through this area we went into another very old restaurant for some refreshments.

In the restaurant we met another pirate that was by far the ugliest we had ever seen!

After our refreshments, we started back towards the boat and across a beautiful park that was decorated for Christmas with a very big Christmas Tree with a bunch of presents under it. I tried to open one but it was labeled "Do not open until Christmas Day". Since we weren't going to be back again for quite a while we left the presents and went back to the boat.

We needed to be in Stuart, Florida by Sunday and it was Wednesday so we went to bed early and headed back down the ICW to Daytona Beach, Florida. That evening, the winds and rains started to pick-up again so we stayed an extra day until the weather got better. Because it was pouring rain we didn't venture out too much. The next day when the rain stopped, we started our way back down the ICW for a few long days on the water to make it to Stuart on time. As we were leaving Daytona Beach we had the sun coming up on one side and the most beautiful big full moon still lingering on the other side. It was a sight to see. That evening as we were anchoring, the moon started to rise and it filled up the sky to be the largest moon of the year. Well, the weather is getting warmer and that makes all of us happy including the cats! So until next time...may your toes and noses always be warm. It's getting that way for us!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gypsies Travels 6

Hello again, my little pilgrims. Colleen here to fill you in on our adventures over the last few weeks. When last we left off we were on our way down the Intracoastal Waterway after a night of anchoring in Black Water Creek. This was one of the first times anchoring outside of the Cheasapeake Bay but our anchor held very well and the next morning we had lots of mud on the anchor chain and anchor to wash off. This is a good sign that we had a good hold through the night. When we wash off the anchor and chain, we get very wet from the hose when the winds are high so we have to wear our rain gear (foulies) so we don't get soaking wet.

Next, we headed to Elizabeth City, the Harbor of Hospitality. The town has that nickname because of a group of citizens called the "Rose Buddies." They like it when boaters come to town -- we spend money and they really like that! -- so they offer free dockage for two days, and every other evening, they host free cocktail parties for the boaters.

The rain and winds were so wild that we had to spend six days in Elizabeth City. The people and city were great but when the skies cleared, we were ready to start heading south again. We docked for a night at the Alligator River Marina in Columbia, North Carolina. That evening, after going to our first cruiser party, we headed out early again to Belhaven, North Carolina and got a visit from my Mom and Dad. They were driving down to Florida and went out of their way to visit us.

The next day, we headed down the ICW to Oriental, North Carolina. We had a great run with lots of dolphins enjoying themselves playing in our wake.
Again we spent the afternoon checking out the town and settled in early to get another early departure to Morehead City, a city ajacient to Beaufort, N.C. These two cities were alot of fun to walk around in. We stayed an extra day so we could see it all. Tammy and I got our picture taken with Neptune. He is the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology, a brother of Jupiter and Pluto. Someday you will study Roman mythology and learn all about him.

The next day we went to Surf City in N.C. and it was a good thing we made it before the rains came and the seas kicked-up. The walk on the beach showed us it was a good idea not to leave the next morning.
We needed to be near Charleston, South Carolina in 3 or 4 days so my husband John could catch a flight home for some business he had, so we headed out for a couple long days on the sea to Southport, N.C. -- some home owner on the ICW keeps a fake giraffe in his yard to entertain boaters
-- and then to Myrtle Beach, N.C. where we dropped John off to send him by a taxi to a bus and then to a plane to head back to Manchester, NH. Before he left, he enjoyed a meal of local jumbo shrimp, and we do mean JUMBO!

Tammy, Doug and I made it to Thoroughfore Creek in South Carolina to anchor in front of a little beach for the night.
The next day we traveled about 10 hours and made it to our destination Charleston, South Carolina. Tammy and Doug had some business of their own back in Massachusetts for a few days -- their neice Samantha was being married -- so the cats and I were left on our own to explore the city of Charleston. And what a great city it is! The first day I went to the Charleston Aquarium. This aquarium showed all of the sea life and swamp life that you can find around Charleston. First I went to the area that had the animals that live and hunt in the swamps. I got to see River Ottersriver-otter.jpg, Snakessnake.jpg, Alligators and Turtlesalligator-and-turtle.jpg, Heronsheron.jpg, Red Headed Ducksredheaded-duck.jpg and other birds that live in and around swamps.
Then I went to the area that had all the sea aminals that were indigenous to South Carloina. Can you tell me the name of the ocean off the South Carolina coast? I got to see an Octopusoctipus.jpg, Lobsterslobster.jpg, big Sea Turtlessea-turtle.jpg, a Sharkshark.jpg, a very scary Moray Eeleel.jpgeel-2.jpg and some very pretty fishpretty-fish.jpg. I even got to see some scuba divers in the tank cleaning it out and talking to us through a special mouth piece they were wearing.divers-cleaning-tank.jpg That was very cool. I even got to see a very big beautiful bird. Can you tell me what the name of this bird is and why it is important to us in America?

Well that was my day at the aquarium. It was time to head back to the boat and feed the cats and rest up for another fun day learning all about Charleston. I found a walking history tour that was going to be about a 2 hour stroll through historical Charleston, so the next day I headed out to meet Tommy Dew and about 8 other people to take the tour with me. The city was originally called Charles Towne in 1690 after King Charles of England. It was later renamed Charleston. Tommy Dew was very well educated on the history of the south and I found out very quickly how much the south disliked "us northern folks". As I went along the tour, I learned a lot more about the issues of the south and why South Carolina wanted to secede from the union. I also realized that my school in the north didn't educate me on a lot of those issues. The politics and beliefs of slavery was just one of the issues that differed from the north and the south. Southern states like South Carolina were agricultural states (growing and selling of crops, cotton, tobacco), while the northern states were more focused on industry. Religious freedom was another issue, and when Tommy the tour guide found out I was from New Hampshire, he proceeded to badger me (in a nice way) throughout the tour. I always knew about the Boston Tea Party, but I didn't know that the very first tea party was in Charleston! Again, you will someday learn about this in a history class. Remember to ask your teachers about the first Tea Party in Charleston, South Carolina. Some of the great attractions we went to see where first the Circular Congregational Church.
Originally built in 1681, (how long ago was that?) it had a few fires, an earth quake in 1861 and had to be re-built a few times. The British used it as a hospital for their wounded when they occupied Charleston during the American Revolution. Next we went into a square that was dedicated to George Washington with a tree planted in the square and statue of George in the middle of the square.
We went out to a park at the tip of Charleston called Battery Park.
Parts of this park was for Fort Sumter, the fort in the middle of the channel protecting Charleston from battle ships coming into the harbor.
The park was also a tribute for the many people who served during the civil war. We also stopped by the John Calhoun Mansion.
Calhoun was a former Vice President of the US. This house is the largest in all of Charleston, it has 35 rooms, 14-foot ceilings, a grand ball room and 35 fireplaces. It is now a museum. There is also a park in Charleston with a very big statue of John C. Calhoun in it.
Next we went by the Hibernian Society Hall.
Hibernian Hall, a National Historical Landmark, was built in 1840 to provide a meeting place for the Hibernian Society, which is an Irish benevolent organization founded in 1801. The hall is associated with the national Democratic Convention of 1860, one of the most critical political assemblies in this nation's history. Hibernian Hall served as the convention center headquaters for the faction supporting Stephen A. Douglas. It was hoped that Douglas would bridge the gap between the nothern and southern delegates on the issue of extending slavery to the territories. The divisive convention resulted in a party split, and the election of Rebublican Abraham Lincoln. Can you tell me what number president Abe Lincoln was? Another church we went by was St. Phillip's Episcopal Church. It was established in 1681 and has the largest steeple in the city.
One of the other attactions we went by was a place called the Powder magazine.
This is where they kept almost 10,000 pounds of gunpowder to be used from 1712 through the American Revolution. We finished our tour going through an area that has some of the most beautiful old houses built in the traditional old southern style.
There were many tourists taking their tour around the city on horse and carriage.
We also saw many trees with Spanish-moss growing on them. This moss grows on the trees and will kill the trees if they are not taken off. Our tour guide told us they have nothing to do with the Spanish and nor is it moss; it is actually a part of the pineapple family. Well, lots more history is to be found throughout Charleston, and maybe someday you'll have a chance to go see it yourself. As cities go Charleston is one of my favorite cities I have yet to visit, really spectacular! The next day, the day before my husband John came back from NH, I got a call from my mother informing me that an old friend from Manchester was doing her own traveling in a motor home and was in Charleston with her husband. I was able to hook up with both MJ and Brian for a lovely lunch and a great chat at one of the finest seafood restaurants in Charleston that MJ found called Hyman's.
That was a great day! Tuesday afternoon, John came back and we went out and I was his special tour guide through Charleston. He agreed that is just a fabulous city. We were able to meet up with Tammy and Doug and enjoy the last parts of this great city. Next, we are off to anchor out for a night and then head to Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina and then to Savannah, Georgia. After that we make it to Florida! It has still been unseasonably cold and we all hope it gets warmer in Florida! Until next time, may your nose and toes always be warm!