Saturday, September 24, 2016

Packing Up is Hard to Do -- September 10-20, 2016

It is a dark and clear night.  Actually, it is 5A in the morning when Herb and I drive our cars away from our former residence at The Point at North Shore, and head to Houston and Sweet Caroline in the RV Park. Not long after we turn onto Hwy. 48 toward the toll road,  I look down at the fuel gauge and call Herb to tell him I am on a quarter tank.  

Plan ahead?  Too busy packing.

So we peer into the darkness to find the first U-turn and go back to Port Isabel where I filled the BMW, but the diesel pumps are locked at that time in the morning.  We resume our journey toward Harlingen and Herb is able to get diesel for the Jeep.  Now, relaxing and seeing some glow in the sky for a nice sunrise, he says, "Would you like to stop in Raymondville for breakfast?"  Yes, and I think of the milk I had in the -- OH NO!

"Herb, we left the ice chests!  And tons of frozen foods in the freezer." 

Planning ahead, we had set aside a few personal items that we wanted to take in our cars and had put them inside the garage of the house we no longer owned.  But we left the ice chests in front of the refrigerator for ease of loading them.  So we now leave my car in Harlingen and I ride BACK to Port Isabel and The Point at North Shore with him, hoping our gate code still works.  It does.

The flaming orange band under the clouds promises a good day (Yay) and I can't help thinking that I will miss the display of ominous black and gray looming high above the coastline of South Padre Island across the causeway bridge.  It will be daylight soon.


Back in Port Isabel now, we fill three ice chests and find room in the Jeep for them.

As we pass HEB on our way out of town again Herb says we should go to the storage locker and get the bike rack and trikes to haul today, making the hitch available later for a U-Haul trailer with all the stuff that is still in the locker here.  So we make the U-turn and fetch the trikes.  All good now, and we make it past Harlingen this time.

One Day in Late August

We get a phone call from our real estate agent telling us that the impending sale of our house is progressing and we are overjoyed and overwhelmed.  In anticipation we take Sweet Caroline to her next home at Advanced RV Resort in Houston.

On September 9 it is clear that we can begin packing.  Then through a misunderstanding of both parties, each of us thinks the other wants to close early at a date that will not realistically give us time to get out.  Herb and I think the fastest way is to get the U-Haul system and do much of the packing ourselves.

What a task faces us!  First we drag out all our stuff, sort through and gift many items, some of which are shown below.

                                                               Seats Eight

Now to identify what is and should have been 'trash' a long time ago.


Stopping to rest now and then, my eyes always go to the windows toward the Laguna Madre and the many fishing boats that parade at all hours of the day -- some at night.  Today we are treated to a perfect Chamber of Commerce scene of clear, crisp turquoise water that is flat calm and like glass.  A nice welcome to the new residents at The Point.

I find a few treasures that I will keep.

                                                                                       Gift to Mamaw

                                                        One of the First Oils on Canvas I did

We get little sleep during this time with the planning and executing and hard labor.  Euphoria contributes to this state.   One day we work until 11P and marvel at the work we have done.  Then up at 2:30 to begin again.  And so it goes. When our beds are no longer available, Bob and Myrna invite us to one of their guest rooms.  Bob prepares wonderful breakfasts!

We learn that our room reservation is still good and ask Bob if dinner with Sam and Inez would be included in our Bed & Breakfast accommodations.  Yes. He serves a delicious green salad to compliment the chicken and spaghetti. Inez brings peach cobbler, but forgets the vanilla ice cream, so we have strawberry with chocolate chip. 

Try it.

All the while loading of the U-Boxes continues.  Herb supervises Jose and Fred, and neighbor Tusker comes to visit and get petted.  Also, we get our Golden Retriever fix.

Jose and Fred

Neighbor 'Tusker'

It is amazing to me how much can be packed into a U-Box.  I am anxious to see how they wrap and protect this silk floral arrangement.

Weary, but glad to have the packing done, I take photos of the empty rooms, ready for the new owners to arrive.  Peering down the stairs, I can see the library table made by my maternal grandfather has left the foyer.

Seven hours later we arrive to the RV Park and happily accept a dinner invitation from Roxie and Ed.  When we arrive, we are so surprised to see that it is a celebration to welcome us as new residents to the Houston area.

Ed, Herb and Roxie

Welcome to Houston and Pearland

Usually when I write a blog post, the title is the last thing, but I can't get out of my head the melody and a few of the lyrics of a video Tama sent recently, "Waking up is Hard to Do."

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   September 10-20, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Day Five, I Can't Believe We Did That! -- Sunday, August 28, 2016

I wake.  Where am I?  I open my eyes and see familiar surroundings.  It's a boat -- but it's not Willie's Tug.  Oh, yeah, I am aboard On Your Mark moored at Sanctuary Marina.  It's all coming back now; we were very tired after getting in late last evening, so did not go ashore to walk.  We began preparing dinner.  Oh, and cocktails.

So, although we are a day's journey from Port Isabel, On Your Mark is not far from her home port, Port Aransas.  Well, this will be a short day of cruising.  Herb cooks eggs and I almost finish off Shelly's awesome granola that she makes for her Daddy.  (Sorry AJ; there's not much left.)

And with Port A in our sights, we cast off the lines at 7:23A under sunny skies and drift away from the dock.  As we motor down the fairway, I have a horrible, horrible thought!  We forgot to pay!  I know the drill.  There is no harbormaster on site, but a sign directs you to put your check in a mail slot.  Oh, how terrible!  I can't believe we forgot.  I'll blame it on being traumatized by an alligator.  Just kidding.

We really don't want to go back, tie up again, and wait until 8A when the office opens.

I grab my phone and search for the harbormaster's phone number, as we continue sailing.  I dial and amazingly a voice answers.  I identify myself and the boat, which he may remember as having been here before.  As I explain the situation, he says not to worry.  Mailing a check later will be just fine.  Whew!

Cruising out of the harbor, I take a photo of some of the houses seaside and notice one of them reminds me of my house in Port Isabel.

The sun stays with us and seas are calm, except for San Antonio Bay, which is a little bouncy.  Two feet or less chop.

Look!  A lighthouse.  I always try to take a photo of them for daughter Roxie.  This one is called Aransas Pass Light Station, a Texas Historical Marker.  The tower was started in 1855 and lighted in 1856 to mark the natural Gulf pass to Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays by way of Lydia Ann Channel.  Google tells me it is owned by Charles Clarence Butt of H-E-B grocery fame, and its rich history can be read at this link.  The light still shines, but the U. S. Coast Guard has taken over its professional duties.

Lengthy history here.

Mr. Butt himself has an interesting history which can be read here.

A sailboat is a rare sighting in the ICW, especially with the sails.  Of course, she is motoring.  I hope she finds the wind she needs.

All too soon we arrive at Island Moorings Marina in Port A, and are greeted by neighbor, Luther.  He helps us unload and welcomes us back.  Herb calls Joe to let him know On Your Mark is home and safe.

The sun is still high in the sky and Herb and I think we can make it to Port Isabel by a reasonable hour, so off we go.

Find Willie's cocktail at the end of the cruise....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Sunday, August 28, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Day Four, A Very Good Day! -- Saturday, August 27, 2016

It is 6:50A and twilight, with shoots of lightening seen offshore.  I am ahead of the game today, as I bring topside binoculars, water bottles, hand held VHF radio, camera -- everything we need except raincoats, that we have not needed at all.  We cast off the lines, both engines work, both throttles work.  All good. We are in the ICW heading west toward Galveston and bound for Sanctuary Marina at Port O'Connor.

In Galveston Bay seas are one foot or less with the chop mostly caused by wakes of many courteous tugboats.  Day breaks with glorious pinks and yellows in the sky, giving a hint of a sunny day, but that doesn't happen.  A partly cloudy day turns into total overcast.  A cruise ship is seen in the distance.

We had heard several times yesterday on Channel 16 the Coast Guard directing us to Channel 22 Alpha about the causeway swing bridge being closed to all traffic.  Could this be our dilemma today?  We really would like to have an easy day.  We see many tugs perpendicular to the channel, pushing their barges up against the bank because they can not get through the bridge.  Apparently the construction crew working on the bridge have taken the week end off.  I don't want to think we will have to anchor out until Monday.

We listen with interest, and continue our cruise west.  The blue bridge ahead is the railroad.  The elevated section drops down to connect to the fixed rails on land when a train is scheduled to come.

Herb has plotted our trip on the Navionics program shown on his iPad, so we have a constant tracking.  The blue circle in the center of the screen represents On Your Mark and shows the storms offshore and behind us.  Clear sailing ahead!

We are now heading toward Freeport, and not quite due south of Houston, having just crossed the Houston ship channel.  Channel 16 broadcasts again and directs to 22 Alpha, where we hear the Caney Creek swing bridge is closed to all traffic.  We begin to see many tugs tied to mooring balls, as we continue through Galveston Bay, now West Bay.

Mooring Balls

So with a closed bridge ahead, we work on Plan B.  We continue westward to get more information, hoping to find out if crews are working on the bridge and when it may possibly be opened.  We see a slow moving tug ahead and radio him to get permission to pass on the one whistle.  She agrees and we begin to overtake her. Then we hear five blasts of the whistle, and see a sailboat which appears almost dead in the water.  The little boat takes a long time to get out of the way of the big tugboat pushing her load.  That is very scary.  Rule of tonnage comes to mind.

Small Sailboat Drifts Toward the Bank

Ducking into Surfside Marina at Freeport, we ask if they have any information on the swing bridge.  The dock hand doesn't know it is closed.  We continue west and call another tug, Elizabeth R, we plan to overtake, asking permission to pass on the two.

Plan B develops into a continuing of our cruise to approach the swing bridge and see what it looks like.  Lots of happy people sit on the banks of the ICW fishing.  Hopefully their buckets are getting a good catch. Temperatures are in the high 80's in the morning and these anglers don't seem to mind as it rises in the afternoon.

Yay!  Another frequent broadcast on Channel 16 tells us the swing bridge is now open!!!  We are glad we have continued west, instead of finding a marina for the night.  Herb calls for passage and the attendant says, "Come on.  I'll get it open for you."  I get a photo of the south approach being raised.  On Your Mark stands back while the bridge swings open toward us.

Rule No. Two:  Never pass a fuel stop.  We take on a few hundred gallons of diesel at Matagorda Harbor in the Port of Bay City Authority.

More scenery includes a dredge pulling a pipe that will carry silt and pump it up over the dunes and into a spoil area.  A community of brown pelicans hitches a ride on one of the floats.  They are on lunch break.

Our journey today ends at Sanctuary Marina, Port O'Connor.  As Herb turns us into the channel toward our dock, Denny says, "Look at the alligator!"

My thoughts, "Don't fall overboard; life jackets won't help!"

Find the scary alligator....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Saturday, August 27, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Day Three, Making Progress West -- Friday, August 26, 2016

The start to the day is almost a repeat of yesterday.  As I begin to bring our gear topside, I see we have left the dock and are underway!  I look forward to a pleasant cruise today.  Cap'n Herb has checked the WX and sees a window for us to go today, or else it may be one-two-three weeks because tropical systems are building and may or may not come our way.  He tells me he sees a 'little corridor' of good WX in between storms.  He says we may get wet, so I bring our raincoats topside just in case.  Under sunny skies we cast off at 7:15A.  

I spend a little time enjoying the sunrise and getting photos.   Uh oh!  As we near the casinos the port throttle develops a problem.  Starboard throttle gets up and goes, but the port does not. To make this trip, we need both throttles.   So Denny says, "Let's spin around and head back to Fluffy."  

So we limp back to Bow Tie Marina to see what we can do.  

Denny checks the port engine and finds a throttle linkage had come loose.  He puts it back together and comes out smiling.  All good, and now we continue our trip.  Someone is heard to say, "We will get past the refinery today -- our third try!"     And we do!  I take a photo of the Port of Lake Charles now 'in my rear view mirror!'

Water Tower is Named Port of Lake Charles

The port is very busy in this industrial area.  On the barge below, coal piles are seen where they are offloaded from barges and used to make electricity.

This suction dredge is possibly going to a house construction site we passed earlier.

St. June, a Louisiana shrimp boat, will bring her catch to a processing plant in  Lake Charles.  Where did our sunny sky go?  It's beginning to look a bit overcast,  but it is a pleasant temperature, and On Your Mark streaming through the channel creates a nice breeze.

As we continue in the Calcasieu Ship Channel toward Texas, we come to the intersection to the ICW and turn west.    Skies are rapidly changing to more cloudy and darker, and I wonder if we will continue to be in 'that little corridor' between the rain storms.  Soon we can see Texas!!  In the Sabine River we go south, leaving Louisiana to our port side on the east and Texas to our starboard on the west.  There is not much scenery here, but vegetation is so green.

The Weather Channel shows a storm heading for Port Arthur, which is still ahead of us. But not ahead for long.    I think we have escaped the storm.  

Oh, excitement!  Real excitement!  I see the mural on a building in Port Arthur, and immediately think of Seattle and the Seattle Seahawks!  Go Hawks!!!   I learn that Arthur, the Seahawk, is the mascot of Lamar State College of Port Arthur.

The port of Port Arthur shows me lots of interesting ships, and I wish I could stop and take a tour.  Maybe another day.  Below is the Federal Cedar.

And the British Cormorant ....

Continuing our cruise, we find safe harbor at Point Bolivar in a housing subdivision being developed.

Find On Your Mark after 11 hours of cruising....

Lagoon Cove at Port Bolivar near Galveston
Willie of Willie's Tug
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Friday, August 26, 2016