Back To Bocas

Holy cow, I cannot believe it’s been almost a month since my last post!! I finished up my visit home with a day at the Fell’s Point Festival. Located just east of Baltimore’s “Inner Harbor,” the neighborhood of Fell’s Point has a maritime past, and the air of a seafaring town. And, it also has the greatest concentration of drinking establishments and restaurants in the city….a perfect place for a festival!

I was able to spend time with our former neighbors, giving me a chance to take a peek at the house, yard and pier we sold last year. I was only able to sneak a photo of the pier, at the left.

Our friends Eric and Mary were great neighbors, and it was nice to catch up with them, their daughter and grandson. The views of Shallow Creek were, as always, beautiful and peaceful.

My friends Amy and Joe, and Nan and Mike put me up for many nights while I was in town. A BIG thank you to them, for graciously sharing their homes with me. Both have awesome views of the city from their rooftop decks, just one of many things I love about Baltimore.

On one of my last nights in town, I met up with friends, to watch the Orioles try for a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they didn’t get past the wild card game, but it was a great final night out with friends.

From there, it was back to Annapolis, and my sister’s house. She and my brother-in-law also allowed me to crash in and out of their lives during my visit. They are invaluable with helping us manage mail, bills, and many other mundane details as we cruise; we cannot thank them enough!

My sister plays cello…scratch that, “electric” cello, with several people in the Annapolis area and also on Maryland’s eastern shore. On my last night in town, she played at a record store in downtown Annapolis. I was shocked to see how popular records have become again!

They drew quite a crowd, and the store was packed with people. Please forgive me, but it  has to be said, my sister kicks ass!

So, that wrapped up my visit home. It was great to be back for awhile. I recently heard someone describe Baltimore as being like an old, worn shoe; a little scuffed up around the edges, but don’t polish it, because the scuff has a story. All my Baltimore stories and memories are great ones, and I’m proud of the “scuff.”

My trip flew by, and I had an awesome time, but all the running and doing had me pretty beat by the end. It was time to board a plane and head for Panama, via Atlanta. I enjoyed some great sunset views from my window, along the way.

When I landed in Panama City, my trusty cab driver, Willie, was waiting as I rounded the corner out of customs. Hurray, as I was lugging quite a weighty load!

After an overnight in Panama City, Willie met me first thing the next morning, and dropped me a the domestic airport. I arrived extra early, to beat city traffic, and was rewarded with an offer to take an earlier flight. I hesitated, knowing I had no way to let Scott know the change of plan, but decided to just go with it.

I took off just after 7:30am, and again enjoyed some great views, during the short flight back to Bocas.

We flew right past Isla Colon, and Bocas Town.

I waited for the plane to make it’s turn toward the airport, but it kept going. I was sure I’d boarded the right plane, but now wondered where this thing was headed. We landed at a remote airstrip, similar to that in Bocas Town, but it was definitely not Bocas Town.

As people began to disembark, I went forward, to ask the flight attendant what to do. I asked her about Bocas (dealing with language barrier), and she motioned that I had to get off the plane. It seemed that I had to change planes, but I wondered how I’d do that, with just a torn ticket stub.

As I gathered my things and headed for the door, an America couple ahead of me was asking about Bocas as well. A different flight attendant, with better English skills, told them to stay on board, that we were continuing on to Bocas next. Whew!

Soon we were off to Bocas, landing eight minutes later (really, eight minutes!). I easily got my bags, as only seven of us got off the plane, and a cab driver called to me as I came outside. He dropped me at the water taxi stop, and called for someone to come help me with my bags, that were as heavy as if they had dead bodies in them.

I made the five minute trip across the water to Bocas Marina, was dropped at the pier, and lugged my way to Sea Life just before 9am, much to Scott’s surprise. Luckily, I caught him before he’d left to pick me up! We discussed having  a “plan B” in place for future situations.

So, I’m back to life at sea, or should I say marina life for now. I’ve caught up on sleep (getting 12 straight hours my first three nights back), laundry and cleaning, and we’ve moved locations to a new marina (more on that to come). It’s great to be back on Sea Life, with Scott and Howard, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the area before we shove off to discover more of Panama’s Caribbean coast. Here are more photos of my final days at home, and flights back to Bocas.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

A Trip Home

I left Bocas del Toro just over three weeks ago for a visit home, and have been on a whirlwind tour of family, friends, shopping and eating since landing in the U.S. My journey began with an hour long flight to Panama City, and some great views from my window.

The coastline gave way to hills and then more populated areas, and as we approached Panama City, I caught sight of the Panama Canal through the haze (at the top of the photo).

I landed at the domestic airport, and my next flight was out of the international airport. Not wanting to miss my flight due to heavy traffic, I chose to spend the night at a hotel. My friendly cab driver, Willie, dropped me off, promising to fetch me at 5:30am the next morning, to beat traffic. After checking in, I decided that the neighborhood was not one I’d like to explore for food on my own, so I settled for a dinner of bottled water and pretzels.

Willie was waiting for me bright and early (or should I say dark and early) the next morning, and I easily arrived at the airport, checked my bags and went through security. With that done, I purchased two bottles of water and headed to my gate, only to have to go through security…..all over again!

At each gate, passengers again pass through metal detectors (after taking off  shoes, belt, etc.), have their body “wanded” and carry-on bags x-rayed. And, there are no liquids allowed! Seriously?? I’d just went through all of this 300 feet earlier, what could I have made or bought in that time that would endanger the flight? I had to throw out both bottles of sealed water…$8.00 in the trash.

So now I was trapped in the gate area. Of course I was welcome to leave and get a drink, food or use the bathroom, but I’d have to go back through security again, and the line had gotten extensive. Once aboard the plane, we were promised the usual beverage service and a breakfast sandwich. Great! I was thirsty and hungry, as my pretzel dinner had long worn off.

Unfortunately, there was considerable turbulence for the first part of our flight. So much so that the flight attendants were told to sit down and strap in. I was less worried about the turbulence, and more worried about dying from dehydration. Finally, two hours into our four hour flight, we were served a small sandwich and a drink, in the usual tiny cup. I managed to get a refill, and when I headed back to use the restroom, asked for still more water.

After a stop in Atlanta, I landed in Baltimore and headed to my sister’s house, in Annapolis. Sally and her dog Cooper were there to greet me.

It was great to see her, and my brother-in-law, catch up and relax a bit. The weather was gorgeous, and I enjoyed a walk around town; sailing capital of the world, and home of the U.S. Naval Academy.

While taking photos of the mooring field, I did a double take. For a second, I thought Scott and Howard had come to meet me!

Look familiar?? Another 42′ Krogen was enjoying some time in Annapolis.

After sleeping off my two days and three flights, I met our friends Kirk and Gisela for lunch. They are our cruising “mentors,” having spent 15 years circumnavigating the globe on their sailboat. We have learned so much from their experiences, and have soaked up as much information as possible from them. We spent hours catching up, as I relayed all that we’d experienced over the past year.

Then it was up to Baltimore, where I made several stops for lunch, drinks and dinner over the next few days, before joining my football gang for the Baltimore Ravens home opener. I walked to meet them for breakfast, happy to be back in the land of row homes and roof top decks.

We arrived at our seats in time for the pregame festivities, commemorating 9/11, and then cheered the team on to a win. It wasn’t glamorous, but a win’s a win!

After a fun, but long day of football festivities, I drove almost three hours south, to my parents’ farm in Virginia. This time of year, the field corn waiting to be harvested makes it hard to spot the driveway!

It was so good to see my parents and spend time…and, to get some proper produce!

We loaded up on corn and tomatoes at the local stand, and Mom made crab cakes, with fresh back fin….de-lish!

Next, it was on to Ocean City, on Maryland’s eastern shore, where my college roommate and I worked thirty years ago (Nancy flew in to go with me)! I have stayed in close touch with the family I worked for, and had a fun time visiting my OC family and friends.

After just a night at the beach, Nancy and I headed back to Baltimore, where I celebrated turning fifty! Nancy surprised me, by having our other roommate, Amy, drive in from Pittsburgh to celebrate.

Friends I’ve known since kindergarten (aka, birth), high school, Baltimore roommates and friends I’ve met along the way gathered for a terrific evening of fun and reminiscing. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate 50 years!

My friend, Steve, has mastered the steel drum over the past few years, and plays with several people at locations all over the area from May through September. He happened to be playing nearby, and I took the opportunity to take some friends and surprise him. Steve is now quite the musician, and we thoroughly enjoyed the music, as well as his witty banter back and forth with the crowd.

Since I’d seen my Ravens play, it was now time for an evening of baseball. I met my friend, Dan, just outside of Camden Yards; Dan and I were roommates for nine years (yes, nine!). We had a great night together watching the Orioles. Unfortunately, my birds weren’t as lucky as my Ravens, and we lost to the Boston Red Sox. However, I still have fingers crossed that they’ll manage to get to the post season!

I traveled to see my friends Bruce and Hallie, and their family, who live just outside of Philadelphia. Bruce made us an awesome Indian feast, and as always, their children Colin and Lizzie kept me entertained. On the way back to Baltimore, I stopped for a quick visit with some of Scott’s family, who were at Scott’s mother’s house. After time with my equally entertaining niece and nephew, I continued back to Baltimore.

Scott and I spent a year at Henderson’s Wharf Marina, before leaving for our journey. We loved the marina’s location, in the historic Fells Point neighborhood, and met many great friends there. I spent a night and then next morning visiting, and stayed over with friends on their boat. The weather was beautiful, and I enjoyed the views from L pier, where we were docked, of the harbor and Under Armor’s world headquarters across the way.

While I’ve been heading in all directions here, Scott and Howard are having plenty of “guy” time in Bocas. Scott usually can’t hold Howard too long without getting chewed on. Howard goes into play mode, since he and Scott are adversaries in epic battles. Scott complains about this, and also comments that Howard doesn’t sleep with us at night.

All of that has changed now that Scott is a “single parent.” Howard now tolerates much more holding (despite still having epic battles), and they are sleeping buddies at night, much to Scott’s dismay, as Howard sleeps on Scott….careful what you wish for!

I have just under two more weeks here at home, to soak up U.S. conveniences and more time with friends and family, before traveling back to life afloat! If interested, here are more photos of my visit home.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”