Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"The Last Frontier"



Welcome to Alaska

"Sign post forest" over 70,000 signs!

Early morning fog from the road

A river runs through it.....om the way to Homer

Monday, May 28, 2012

The YUKON! "only" 1800 miles to go!

Today we entered the northern province of Canada, the Yukon. 

It was absolutely stunning scenery and as a bonus......we saw tons of wildlife. 

In just a few miles, we saw moose, caribou, buffalo, mountain lion, and bear. It was unbelievable. It was like we were driving through a safari ride, so it made another long day in the car worth it. 

We got as far as a town called Whitehorse, got out and ate some dinner, as we decided where we were going to camp for the night. It was also a LOT colder the further we went north, so some time soon after the pizza, we decided to drive another over-nighter........let the kids sleep warm in the car, and log some miles.  

We made a pit stop for coffee, and off we went. We started doing the math and it looks like we're going to try and make it by Sunday night....although it depends on how many more pictures we need to stop and take. :)

Eight explorers





Saturday, May 26, 2012

Canada & north

Hello again, 
We are up into Canada now.....and we used our 'rain plan' last night (driving all night) and made it up as far as a place called Liard Hot Springs in northern Alberta. It is an awesome campground and we got here in plenty of time to take a night long swim in the hot springs before dinner and bed! Although now it is so light so late, it's really strange going to bed when it's light.

The hot springs are just right, and if you want it hotter, you move toward one end of the pool, until you can't stand it. REALLY felt great after some long road hours. 

So, camping for tonight and onward tomorrow........


Hems

 
THIS is at 11:00 PM! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Canada!

We ended up crossing the border a few days ago and made it up as far as an hour outside of Calgary. It had been raining all day as we crossed the border and made our way north. We were puzzled how we were going to set up camp in the rain and deal with dinner, our back-up plan for rainy nights is to drive straight though and Rachel and I would take turns driving. Not a real clever plan, I'll admit, but that's as far as we usually plan.

Anyway, we thought we'd drive by the campground we were planning to stay and see what it looked like in the rain, and it turned out they had a great little cabin for rent which would fit us all! So, for WAY less money than a hotel room would have cost, we snuggled in there, cranked up the heater, and had a great nights' sleep after all :)

It was just as well, because we ended up driving the next night all the way through, up past Edmonton and into the sand-oil fields in north Alberta. The kids were great travellers, and we bribed them with a good dinner out and then they got comfortable and quickly fell asleep. It was actually easier covering a lot of ground with most of them asleep.

Another strange thing is, as we drive further north, the time the sun sets is getting later and later. I mean LATE! Last night, it finally got dark after 11PM and started getting light again at 4AM. By June, the hours of darkness is only 3 hours a night! It's hard to lay down and go to sleep when the sun is shining in the tent and it's after 10!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On the border

Yesterday was a really beautiful day, driving through South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Wyoming was super flat and pretty dramatic, nothing but flat prairie in every direction, and then slowly the Big Horn mountain range rose up out of the plains and still had snow on their peaks. Awesome!
We made it as far as Billings, Montana, and found a campground on the Yellowstone River. It was a great spot. The campground had thick grass to set up the tent on, we sat by a campfire for a while, roasted some marshmallows, and slept like rocks. It is getting cooler, the further we go north, even though it's May. I think we might need to add another couple of blankets in a day or two!

Today, we're hoping to make it across the border into Canada and up maybe as far as Calgary.......we'll see. 

tent pegs......check!

We're past Missouri, back on the road and last night was in a little State Campground called Weston Bend.

We ended up getting there quite late, and tested our skills by setting up the tent in the dark. All the little ones were already asleep, so we just laid out the beds and simply transferring the sleeping kids inside. It was an OK first night in the tent, we had no air mattresses (well, we did, but no pump to air them up and no desire to do it at 10:00 pm :) so we slept on the good 'ol ground for the night. Keeps you humble, eh?

In the morning was cereal, a quick shower in the campground, and we were back on the road, heading to Erik's brother's house in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the way, we saw mile after mile of farmlands in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.





After a long driving day, we arrived at Aaron and Darla's late (again! are you seeing a trend?) and they had beds already set up for us and a nice toasty fire in their backyard. We spent a few hours catching up and then were fast asleep! It's amazing how tired you get sitting in a car all day! Aaron and Darla have been working hard on their property for the past 3 years and the amount of work they've accomplished was amazing. Hundreds of trees cut and cleared, a house built, and utilities installed. Pretty overwhelming looking at the property next door which is still raw. We spent a couple days there, hanging out, sleeping, and EATING! They raided the freezer and we had some awesome steaks!


So, in a couple of days, we're off towards Montana and then Canada. See you then!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Missouri photos......

St Louis arch

Kelsey and Emma
Kyle, Emma, and Maggie


John loading the canoes
Rachel, Miles and Lily....ready to raft



Emma and Jen were stuck like glue
Family reunion!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

1200 miles down.....

Hello from the road,

Well, we got some miles under our wheels, but still have a LONG way to go. We ended up packing all day last Sunday, getting the boat ready to leave for several months. It was a very strange feeling, cleaning the boat, and looking at all the memories we made in there. It was also a bit sad as we drove away and looked back at Mehari, sitting on blocks, and all the decks cleaned off. We had to take down all the sails and tie everything that was loose, down tight, as she will be sitting there through hurricane season, and you never know......last year they had a small hurricane go through Beaufort area and there was some flooding in the marina, but no damage. We are praying for the same result this year!

So, once we had the car loaded, and I mean over-LOADED, it was 10:00 p.m. and way too much work to try and stay on the boat again, we decided to just set out on the road and see how we felt. The kids (and us) were all excited to get to our first stop in Rolla, Missouri with Rachel's sister and family (they have 6 kids also) and so we ended up driving all night and the next day, 1100 miles straight! Rachel and I took turns driving and napping, so it wasn't too bad. The kids, once they were wedged in and comfortable, slept all night. It was actually somewhat peaceful, as it rained almost the whole way, and they were snuggled in. 

We've been here in Rolla for a few days, and have had a great time hanging out, playing lots of games, and even worked in a canoe trip down a beautiful river near here, the Current River. It's a really pretty and the water was crystal clear and super cold when the canoe flipped!! It gave us a LOT of motivation to make sure it didn't :)

It's time for us to say goodbye, or more accurately, see you later, as we will be coming through here again in the fall on our way back to North Carolina. So......some tears, but not too many. The next stop for us is probably a campsite tonight, depending on how far we get towards the Black Hills of South Dakota. We are heading to Aaron and Darla's house (Erik's brother) so we will write more from there! 

~eight explorers?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dolphin escort

videoWe had a little escort on our way from Florida to North Carolina last week and got some video.......enjoy! :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mehari "parked"



Here she is!! This is Mehari's new home for the next few months, until we get back from fishing in Alaska. It is supported and braced (in case of a hurricane) and it should be safe. It was really sad leaving her after all the memories and adventures we had with her, but we'll be back soon!

It's in a boat yard called Bock Marine, and they seem like they really know what they're doing. Plus, it's a boatyard that let you do your own work on the boat. Something that is becoming harder and harder to find. So, when we do come back in the fall, all she'll need is a new coat of bottom paint, and she's ready to launch!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beaufort, N.C.


Soon to be tuna steaks!
Zoe watching dolphins off the front of Mehari

We had a good sail up from Florida. It ended up taking 4 days, because the wind died out on the 2nd day and we ended up motoring quite a bit. On the flip side, we had several HUGE pods of dolphins with us on our trip and were able to watch them for an hour or so. We also caught a couple of fish! We had a BIG mahi on one afternoon, but we didn't let him get tired enough before we tried to bring him on-board and at the last minute, he wriggled off the hook!! We were NOT happy. But early the next morning, Levi and I each caught a Black Fin Tuna! Those were a first for us, and it was great eating on our last day at sea. Rachel seared them in some Teriyaki and over a bed of coconut rice, they were amazing!


We arrived in Beaufort N.C. a few days ago and discovered it was just voted the "Cutest Small Town in America" although we could have figured it on our own once we got here. It is just an amazing town along the ICW, and lots of little shops lining the old waterfront street. It was established in 1709 and there are rows of old houses as you go away from the water's edge. Really pretty.
"Cutest small town in America"
Boat-building competition 













On the day we arrived, they were having an annual "Boat Building" Competition. The 2 man teams were each given the same set of plans, and lumber supplies, and 4 hours to build a boat from scratch and make it seaworthy enough for each team member to row across the bay and back, relay style. It was lots of fun, watching the teams slam the boats together with liberal amounts of Sika Flex or 5200 (all purpose heavy duty boat caulking). Even still, most of the boats took on a LOT of water getting across and back! Some of them even had to dump the water out between rowers! Good fun. Maybe Levi and I will be ready to enter next years' event ;)

Mehari is anchored right in front of the town and we have spent a few nights hanging out on-shore, and finding some parks to run around in. Also this week, Emma and I flew up to Boston to pick up the car we purchased to get us up to Alaska. So that was a fun, but way too quick road trip where we drove through 9 states in 3 days! 

So, now it's time to get Mehari out of the water, safe in a boat yard for hurricane season, and start packing for our road trip up to Alaska! Busy, Busy!

From Beaufort, 
Hems

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

stateside :)

Hello from the US! We made landfall in Port Canaveral, right in the shadow of Kennedy Space Center, where the shuttles have been launched from.

Entering the "ICW"
First thing we had to do was to check in with Customs and Immigration. As boaters entering in our own vessel, we are required to call in when we arrive, and visit the office within24 hours. We had heard it can sometimes be a hassle, but for us it was super simple. We went into the office, down the street from where our boat was tied up, and it took a whole 6 minutes to check us in. We'd kinda hoped for some fanfare entrance, and a big welcome back to the US, but he just glanced over the passports (even the expired ones! :) and sent us on our way.

Addie Anna
So, the next day, we went up into the Intra-coastal Waterway (a canal system that runs almost the entire East coast of the US, and usually really calm) and made our way up to a marina in a little town called Titusville. It is a city-run marina and was a great place to leave the boat while we visited with family who were staying near Orlando. Erik's brother's in-laws Russ and Susan, put us all up in their huge camper on their farm and we had a great time hanging out with the crowd of family that was continually passing through their house. It was our first visit with them and all of us we were instantly accepted as family........how's that for southern hospitality?! We also got to meet our new niece/cousin Addie and absolutely fell in love with her!

Maggie with a baby Croc!
We packed in a lot of fun in one week, playing games, visiting and catching up, and of course, plenty of eating! We had a several BBQ's, and took a big group of family out for a day sail up the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) one afternoon. We skipped the whole craziness of Disney and Universal Studios (just spending a few hours one evening walking down "City Walk", a chaotic shopping and restaurant compound)
We also visited a local winery for a blues and wine festival, got to take an air-boat ride in the swamp where we got to see alligators.........SUPER COOL!, and even fit in a quick trip across the state to visit friends we'd met in Costa Rica. Whew! It was a busy week, but we all had a great time, and of course, there were a few tears when we had to say good-bye again and make our way up to North Carolina.

It was four day sail up to Cape Hatteras area and it was much faster to "go outside" (of the ICW) and try and ride the Gulf Stream north, even though it is much rougher out on the open sea than the calmness of the ICW. Plus, it was the last open sailing for all of us on Mehari for a while, so we wanted to cherish the peace of the open sea!

See you in NC!
Hanging out with Grammy and Gramps!