Friday, October 28, 2011

Since it is Friday we will move the boat!

The Barco crew has been very productive these past couple days; Yesterday we retitled two cars, Lunched at the Yacht Club with Mom, changed the brakes on the truck, "fixed" the old T-Bird, and passed a State Examination (I missed the first take a couple weeks ago by .7, bummer!). So how do we celebrate? We take the Barco to Lamb's Yacht center for a bottom cleaning and refueling.

After this morning? Who knows. Lots of food and wines available for the festivities.

Next weekend the Blue Angels will entertain Jacksonville and close out 2011 airshow season. Did you know NAS Jacksonville was the birthplace of the Blues in 1946? We will watch on the Barco, hopefully, my old Boss from London will join us, as they did eleven years back. The airshow is very nice on the water and I think part of why is because of the dangers present. The crowd on land is of primary concern so the aircraft are always over water and away. Right above the water traffic.

Livin' La Vida Loca, someone always says. What ever that means. I'm going to enjoy the show without having to be in traffic or worry about parking.

These images are all from the U.S. Navy and ripped off shamelessly from the Official Site
1946 F8 Bearcat

1956 F9F Cougar

1964 F11 Tiger

2010 F18 Hornet


We cruised the Barco over to Lamb's and had a thorough cleaning of the hull and some new zinc's added to replace the dead and used up zincs.

There was a fair bit of barnacles on the props and the rudders, but not so bad as to be notable.

The bottom is really clean and ready to go. We took a little jaunt on the river to celebrate and it was a nice time.

When the Barco was being cleaned, Bruce and I went wandering the docks to look at the boats and we found this:

Wildebeest II. A 1982 Watkins 27 that we purchased in '94 and reluctantly sold in August of '95 when we had to move to London. The telling sign is the Bowmar hatch on the front which I installed in June of '95. This is one of our favorite boats and it is a shame that it is in decrepit condition. I asked the front office if this was a derelict and the lady there indicated it might be. As soon as I can chat with the owner of the yard, I will see if I might be able to acquire this boat (at a low cost, I don't need another boat!), I would really love to bring this boat back home...

I ordered a video to dvd device for Mac and will be able to upload all of our old sailing videos from the 90's. Wildebeest II is a big part of our home movie collection.

For the eye candy department;

This is the lovely Catarina Candoni of Candoni Wines, Italy. She is autographing the case of Pinot Noir's I purchased from the tent sale at the Navy Exchange, NAS Jax. Very nice, and I wish I was in her league. Imagine, a hottie who owns her own Winery...!  Click on the Candoni link. Nice family!

Have a great weekend and drive safe.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Speaking of sloth...

My presence on the web has been sloth-like. I am a three toed sloth, I hang upside down in trees and only go to the ground every so often to defecate.

My morning routine lately is not spent on the web but rather doing five or six laps around the neighborhood (almost five miles) and cleaning up our habitat. Being alone in these endeavors, (my company is three Siamese Cats) I haven't had much to say. To anyone.

Some of the more interesting parts of the previous month was the notice and bill from the good people at the I nternal  R evenue S ervice. Notice that Service is their last name. Seems that in 2009, I didn't report some retirement income.

Only I did. I just had not received a 1099 R from the DFAS, which is another Federal entity, entirely. Filled with Union Gubmint employees who had of course sent my 1099R to the I R S.

So now I owe in excess of eight thousand bucks for underreporting income and of course there was a penalty to be paid. Please remit payment by 26 October and nobody gets hurt...

I got my paperwork together and this was no small feat. We at the Barco Sin Vela have a filing system that more resembles the inside of a sixth grader's desk. Only without the cool hipster stickers on the top and inside. I have digressed again.

So after dialing a number I waited for thirty minutes until one of the nice people answered. After telling my life story for about five minutes I was informed that I needed to call someone else. Goodbye!

The letter was on the desk in front of me, so I reread the entire thing again. There, on page three was an 800 number for any questions, but there aren't anyone there to talk. Only pre-recorded answers. So I pushed the zero button over and over until a new menu was revealed; An angel in the darkness heard my plea for communication and I was thusly granted a brief audience. My story was again regurgitated and she said firmly that I had to document the reason I disagree with my audit, mail in the proof and such in the envelope provided...

"No way," said I, "I know that my little correspondence would be lost forever and I would still owe more  in interest and penalties."

I implored her eminence to make an exception and help me out of this jam. And she did! We spent a worthwhile period on the phone going over the return and after a few moments of panic spent on hold: Victory!

The trip from the UP was fairly uneventful. We visited some more relatives in Traverse City and Holland and set off for the return to Florida. First, we had to visit the Leelanau Peninsula to pick up some wines for our Wine Club's wine tasting which would feature some Sutton's Bay white wines (from Black Star Farms).

We saw these posters all over town. I think it has something to do with local sports.

When we got to Ohio, we hopped off the Interstate and took some two lane highways to enjoy more of the local scenery. It was fun to see some of the Amish in their horse buggies, stylin' and profilin' with some wicked looking chin whiskers.

View from Ohio gas station 

Soon we were back on the Interstate and traversing West Virginia. About halfway through we stayed at some Holiday Inn which was way overpriced. $152.00 for one night in hicksville was a bit pricey, but we had a good rest.

The next morning was our last day on the road, we knew we were about eight hours from Florida. We headed South and entered Virginia. Doing 83 miles per hour. We spotted the cop and I tried to exit the freeway and elude capture by ducking into a gas station. Not.

The nice Policeman was good enough to only write me up for doing 80 vice 83. 83 would have qualified me for a reckless driving citation but since we were so polite and cooperative he would cut me some slack.

My bad. I had completely forgotten how Virginia is crazy about the revenue from traffic scofflaws and have even outlawed radar detectors! I drove the speed limit the rest of the voyage in ol' Virginny and indeed, I spotted no less than six more hidden Troopers on the side of the road waiting for us cash cows to pass at high rates of speed.

The ticket will cost me about $121.00. Not too bad, but I am worried about points. I called USAA and they said that I won't get any grief from them on this issue, but that I should try to take traffic school if it is offered. There have been some letters written by Virginia Lawyers wanting my business, but I am not sure if I should use Law services to try to minimize my ticket.

Perhaps one of my readers may have an idea about Virginia traffic laws and maybe some advice.

So we got into North Carolina and returned to the old two lane roads, especially since there are such nice places to see at slower speeds. Once in  South Carolina, we stopped at an old crossroad gas station and snack counter and enjoyed an excellent pulled pork sandwich.

Good Advice from Buddy.

I think we should consider stopping at Buddy's.

We chatted with the owner and I mentioned that his place was probably a really fun place to visit back in the thirties. He agreed and said when he was a kid in the forties, his parents would take the family on a Saturday trip to that very place for cold soda pops.

I am really glad we did find that one place to stop and visit. Made the day a little bit better.

Anyway, we soon ran out of two lane highway and had to get back on to I-95. We were back in Florida two hours later; Mission Accomplished.

Update from this weekend;

Our friend Bruce came over to visit this weekend. Pretty nice of him to come down, since he did return from Iraq on the past Monday. Poor guy, he had to help with the new keg of Sierra Nevada on Friday night, and then go out on the Barco for his first boat trip in three years.

Poor me. This weekend has been too much fun! I need to rehydrate...

Have a fine week out there!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Replying to a couple of nice comments for my previous post

I started a typically long winded reply for two commenters whose regular visits I value;

Ken and Cheryl said, "Last day at your job ... congratulations! Sounds like the weekends will be a lot longer now!"

"... sounds like weekends will be longer now!"

Indeed. Thanks for understanding my need for the endless weekend!

Buck said: "So, what's after the Last Day? A new jobbie-thang? Or a life of indolence and sloth (which I can highly recommend)?

"... life of Indolence and sloth".

Yep. Count me in, sounds like fun!

My point today is that there is much in our daily lives that we all need to accomplish; The only problem is that a person can't get anything done for themselves if they are beholden to an employer during the most productive part of the day, right?

Irony alert: As I was approaching the final days at work I was offered a little thank you gift for my service from the company. I will show it to you at the bottom of the post. It ain't an iron.

There is so much that needs tending in our fun existence here in Jacksonville. And that varnishing on the boat won't appear by magic, by golly. Seven months ago, I paid someone to do that varnishing job, and he said he applied six coats. Well, the varnish is already flaking off showing that maybe two and a half coats had actually made it on. Not his fault but mine in not supervising the job properly. (That and I did let him know I was in a hurry...) Repairing the varnish will be one of the next priority tasks along with emptying the attic and decluttering our garage and side yard. Oh the crap I accumulate!

All that stuff while jumpstarting my physical fitness regime, again. As a slothful person I know about the need to get in better shape and stay healthy. For I am about to enter into the 50's of my life and I need to be in it for the long haul. Like Sinatra in 1965.

Along with my ambitious personal schedule, I hope to take some courses in creative writing in January, at the local State College.  Maybe we can get some of my more readable drivel published in one of the sailing/boating journals. And no, I don't think there is any real money in the writing and publishing of boating articles! Anyway,  if the writing proves ineffective I will have to reconsider the option of hanging my own shingle out as a self employed purveyor of Affordable Insurance (As if there is any such thing!).

I think we can count on me returning to insurance, as one of my other regular readers has published two books and he doesn't sound anything like he has given up his day job!

Now I return to my reply to Buck's comment;  ...I have mentioned before about doing any and all of the fun stuff with the spouse; I am trying to make sure that I enjoy each moment with She Who Will Be Obeyed in a manner that I won't look back years later in regret.  And yes, there is nothing more enjoyable than a day in Michigan during the warm season!

Apologies for the long rant which should be its own post. Ok, we will make it a post!

For those interested in my prize for six years ten months of toil, here it is!

1 Bissell Cleanview Helix Bagless Upright Vacuum

Way more useful than a Navy Commendation Medal, as you will probably already know and agree!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Back to the trip; Part 2

I left everyone at the campfire, waiting for whatever comes next...

Tom had a chicken that he wanted to cut up and barbecue. I was interested in his methodology, being that he is a former meat cutter by trade. I asked how the chicken would be presented to the charcoal... Will you be slathering on sauce and then burning?

I offered an option; Why not slow cook the whole chicken using the Weber kettle and indirect heat? I guaranteed that dinner would be ready in an hour and that it would be the best tasting, most moist chicken evah, without using anything more special than garlic powder and salt/pepper.

Well, Tom looked at me like I was telling him what-to-do again (I seem to always try to take a situation over and run it my way), but he reluctantly agreed to try out my method. Seems he wants to learn how to cook a turkey on the grill (His Dad taught me how to cook turkey on the Weber kettle in London) for this Thanksgiving, being that his boys are coming home for deer season (but that is another story!) and they plan on spending the time at the Snake Camp.

Whew! I'm outta breath from that run on sentence.

Anyhoo, Tom was also interested in not standing over the hot grill, carefully monitoring the burning of the bird while trying to be involved in the commentary by the campfire. Those beers weren't going to drink themselves, are they?

I coated the guest of honor in garlic powder, salt and pepper while the charcoal was readied. As the gray ash covered the briquets, I separated them into two piles and placed the bird in the center of the rack. We placed the cover on and returned to the PBR cooler, by the fire.

"That's all?" Tom asked.

"Yep, don't lift the lid for an hour, otherwise you add 15 minutes of cooking time due to lost heat." Said I.

And so it was. The chicken came out golden brown, crispy on the skin, yet moist and flavorful inside. No knife was needed for serving because the nice bird fell apart on it's own, right onto the plates which were heavy with potato salad and beans.

The sun was completely gone and the night was chilling to about 65 degrees F. Good thing we had a toasty fire. Why, there was talk of the possibility of Northern Lights! How cool would that be?

Tom brought out the only form of entertainment; A portable AM/FM radio powered by batteries, which looked about thirty years old. We tuned in 103.3 FM which is a country station out of Marquette. Some DJ named Elmer Aho was coming on (The Students of Northern Michigan University absolutely LOVE this guy!). Here is a wonderful tribute to the Elmer Aho show.

Elmer was a country singer in the 50's and 60's who had put out one album of his music. Elmer hosts the old country classics phone in show, and he will give long winded shout-outs to whomever calls. Then he plays your request (or not, depending if he remembers to do it) but the guy is a gem. About every half hour, he claims that someone requested one of his own songs for play. Another endearing quality of Elmer Aho is that he either forgets to play a request or plays another related song. For instance, someone requested Johnny Cash and June Carter's rendition of "Jackson". (Cool song and all) But after Elmer announced "Jackson", we were treated instead to the tune sang by Johnny Cash called, "Sunday Morning Coming Down".  Not exactly a funtime song, but it'll do, I suppose.

Hi-larious! And the night was still young... Elmer Aho is Yooper Gold!

The spousal unit called him and asked for a song, and Elmer asked where she was. She told him we were from Florida and enjoying the Indian Summer at the Snake Camp in the Keweenaw. "Could you play some Lefty, maybe 'Saginaw'?"

Elmer was pleased to do so and he spent about five minutes giving the visitors from Florida a proper UP welcome, and so forth.

We whooped and hollered like little kids, I'll tell ya!

Then we settled in for some Camp Pies. This was my first camp pie, it is two pieces of white bread that have been buttered on one side, pie filling placed between the slices and then you place the pie in an iron device which goes directly into the fire for toasting. After counting a few 'mississippi's' or 'potatoes', you open the iron and eat the hot pie.

Goes well with PBR, Well, not really. The pie was good but the sugar rush made me slow down the beer intake. That and we ran out of beer.

Soooo, we watched as the moon rose and enjoyed the quiet night, with old country classics in the background on that old radio. Did I mention that ELMER Rocks?

Tom decided he needed to fire up the sauna, anyone want to join him? There is no shower at the camp, you use the sauna and towel off. In the Winter (Which lasts from end of September to June) you might roast in the sauna for a bit, then jump into a snow bank to close your pores.

Well, hmmph. It ain't cold enough to really enjoy a hot box and I didn't feel like getting sweaty.

So I wandered back and went to bed in the camphouse. It was a great night with the Spousal Unit's family.

About five the next morning, I awoke in the usual manner, needing to make a trip to the outside to use the facilities. I found an appropriate bush and stood there admiring the clear dark sky, looking for the familiar navigational stars to re-orientate myself to North and South. I walked around to the front of the cabin and stood in the little meadow, observing the beauty of the moment, seeing the heat rising from the untended campfire, which would come alight if we would only brush aside some ash and add some kindling.

Yep, there's old Orion the Hunter, heading inexorably Westward...

Pretty quiet out here. Calm, no wind. Just me and the silence. And Bears.

Really? Bears???

I'm standing in an open space, wearing a t-shirt and skivvies, lolly-gagging around, eyeballing the stars and I just remember that Bears! also frequent this camp?

I quickly begin moving towards the camphouse and slink back inside. I creak my way back to bed and catch another ten minutes of shuteye before Sue gets up and makes coffee for us all.

After coffee, Tom and I get the fish killing sticks and head to the "crick" in search of Speckies. Before we leave the house, Tom hands me the Taurus .357 which is loaded with magnums. Since I had a belt on my trousers, he reasoned, I could wear the holstered pistol.

"Why do I need to carry the pistol? Oh. Bears. I remember." "I guess it's because I can be trusted to hit the target, right?" I snickered.

Tom made a face and we left into the cool morning, brushing aside wet branches as we made our trek to the fishing hole.

We caught about five very small speckies, which we tossed back. After fishing we returned to camp, picked up the trash and went back to Mohawk for brekkies at the house.

I got a glimpse of Tom's daughter's convertible college conveyance.

Is there was a crankstarter in front?

Which car belongs to the student?

Glad to see the Spousal Unit has some sort of positive influence on her niece. Convertible cars are a taste that runs in her family, I suppose. Niece says her car goes from 0-60 in five miles.


We had some waffles and more coffee, then it was time to say goodbye to everyone, Tom was leaving for work and had to be there in an hour. SO we packed our gear and headed out on U.S. 41 for Traverse City. An eight hour journey...

Driving along Lake Superior on a beautiful Michigan day

My presence here has been spotty, I know. We have been quite busy this past week and hope to be on the blog a bit more in the next week, and for now on. The Spousal Unit is traveling up North today to be with family and I have a big State licensing test on Tuesday, so there will be a great cramming this weekend along with some other fun stuff. Oh, and a chili cook off at the Yacht Club. I have the pot of the Spousal Unit's Dos Carne/Frijole chili which will be entered tonight.

Also, today is my final day at the J.O.B.; I wish everyone there luck and good fortune for the future, and thanks everyone, for tolerating me for the past six and a half years.

I'm outta here!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.