Cruising on Last Dance


This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Washington, DC: Food

A restaurant experience and recommendation have become a standard for reports on this blog.  The best meal and best dinning experience came at an unexpected location.  In China Town, at the corner of 7th and F, directly across from a Metro station is a Mexican restaurant.  High class dining and fine food just do not seem to match what is experienced in Mexican-themed restaurants.  Fun, interesting, and fiery food maybe, but not fine dinning. Rosa Mexicano is a great dinning experience.  Beautiful decor, energetic atmosphere, amazing service (4 men served our table of two), and guacamole made right at the table with desired level of spiciness.  The entrees were delicious -- flavors, texture, aroma, and presentation.  Jill asked for a box to take her left overs home.  Instead, they took her plate to the kitchen, arranged the food very artfully, garnished it, and brought it back to the table in a box that formed a bow on top.  After eating more than one should, skipping desert was strongly considered.  Giving in was a good decision.  Tres leches cake that created a sensation throughout the body.  The cake was wrapped on top and sides in meringue and toasted to perfection.



The first attempt to try Rosa Mexicano was rebuffed by the hostess's statement that the wait would be over an hour.  It was a hint at the popularity and a suggestion to arrive earlier.  Another indication of the popularity was the number of people willing to accept a seat outside on the sidewalk, on an evening when the weather was not at its nicest.  Recommending a Mexican restaurant in China Town?  Seems odd, but it may be the best restaurant in China Town.













Next to the Capital Yacht Club, on the Washington Channel, the Sea Food Markets operated from early morning to late night.  These markets are on the Washington Channel -- they are floating barges.  The concrete with the poles and chain is the bulkhead, the space in between goes down to the water, and the food  display is on a barge.  The tides ranged as much as 5 feet, moving the displays from toe hight at times to eye level at others.

Fine dinning this is not.  An experience it certainly is.  Wide varieties of fresh seafood are available from five large vendors.  Other vendors had cooked seafood dinners, which some diners ate sitting on the parking lot or standing behind their car, using the trunk for a table.  At one vendor, you could buy fresh seafood and take it to another barge and have it steamed.  That same vendor had scrumptious deserts, including pies that were cut in four pieces for serving. Washington offers a wide variety of food experiences.

Washington, DC: Friends

Our use of the term "friends" is quite broad, including personal friends, job-related friends, and family.  Washington, DC, is a great place to share with friends and family, which we were able to do by hosting our youngest daughter, Brittany, for a weekend.



Food, of course, was involved with the China Town Asian Spice providing a variety of Oriental cuisine.
















Cherry blossoms and a few National Monuments created a beautiful and historic walk through town.






























Then, a visit to a quite famous home.




























Museums, including the National Gallery of Art, kept the walking pace quick to visit as many places as possible in a short window of the visit.





































Including a visit to our favorite cherry tree.
















Daughters, Amanda and Melissa are considering rendezvousing with the journey at Mackinac Island.  Adventure shared.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Washington, DC: Fauna



There is an array of animals in our Capital City.  A wide array.  Another US treasure is the National Zoo.  On 163 acres, inside of the District of Columbia, animals are exhibited in natural-habitat-like settings.







A special exhibit included two Pandas.  This guy was thoroughly enjoying gnawing on a stack of bamboo provided for him.









There were birds, small and large.
















And, a few cats.






Then, there was this albino squirrel entertaining visitors on the lawn of the National Art Gallery . . .








. . . and, a Mallard inverting to feed off the bottom of a pond in the National Mall. Animals on display and animals displaying themselves.  Fauna in the big city.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Washington, DC: Flora

A number of themes have emerged on this journey, including: flora, fauna, friends, and food.  The cherry trees and blossoms, of course, fit the flora category, but there was more in Washington, DC, than was expected.



Camellias were expected in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and they did not disappoint with brilliant, colorful blooms in every place visited.  Camellias were not expected in Washington, DC.  The Pink Icicle Camellia above is in a garden next to the Smithsonian Art and Industry Museum.  This image also captures the interesting and unique architecture of this building.




The original Smithsonian building, The Smithsonian Castle, has a garden at the front entrance.  The garden is ahead of other areas in beginning the spring display because, while it is on the ground level, it is a roof-top garden.  The Sackler Gallery has most of its display area underground, under this garden.




The Japanese Magnolias were amazingly full of blooms, their beauty rivaling the heralded Japanese Cherry Trees, for which Washington celebrates with a festival.


































































Orchids in Washington, DC?  A variety of flowering plants you would expect to find in South Florida, thrives here.  These plants were located in the United States Botanic Garden, located right in front of the US Captiol Building.  http://www.usbg.gov/   Many environments have been created supporting a diversity of plants.  Also located in Washington is The United States National Arboretum, with even more flora on display.   http://www.usna.usda.gov/   Washington, DC, a center for flowers - who woulda thunk?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Washington, DC: Cherry Blossoms





Yo no naka wa, mikka minu ma ni sakura kana

(Life is short, like the three-day glory of the cherry blossom)

Nature has much to teach us, if we will surround ourselves in it and take time to observe.  This Japanese proverb has great meaning for us and supports the timing of this adventure.

The significance of the cherry blossoms begins prior to the 8th century AD, when the Japanese celebrated the fertility of the earth with prayers under the blossoms.  The Japanese Cherry Tree (prunus serrulata) blooms earlier than most flowering plants, being among the first to signal the arrival of spring and a renewing of life.  According to Japanese tradition, the blossoms are best appreciated when seen near reflective bodies of water, making the Washington, DC, Tidal Basin and Potomac Park appropriate placement for the trees.




The festival in Washington, DC, in celebration of the blooming of the trees is also entitled "The Gift of the Trees," in recognition of the Japanese government giving 3,000 trees to the United States.  The blossoms not only bring Americans to their Capital, but many Japanese tourists visit Washington to surround themselves in the glory of this gift.

The first trees were planted on March 27, 1912.  The earliest full bloom, with one exception, was March 27th. So, our only planned date for being in a specific location on this year-long-plus adventure was March 27th.  The anchor was dropped in the Washington Channel on March 27, 2011, at 7:30 pm, with the cherry trees beginning their display along the Potomac Park wall.  The blooms create a different and enhanced view of the Capital and the many monuments and buildings.




Photography cannot relate the impact created by 10,000 trees blooming, each with 10,000 blooms.  It is truly awe inspiring.




Many depictions of the cherry blossoms portray them as pink.  The vast majority of the trees have white blossoms, with only a small amount of pink in the center.  There are some pink blossoming trees, which are a few days later in blooming, but even they are not totally pink.




That is, with a singular exception.  In the Moon Garden, behind the Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian Museum displaying Oriental art, there is a lone tree, much different than all the others in the city.




This tree does not have the upright structure of the traditional Japanese Cherry Tree; it has an umbrella-like drooping similar to a Weeping Willow, and pink blossoms (prunus subhirtella var. pendula).


Saturday, April 23, 2011

On The Hook

Every activity and occupation has a unique lexicon to describe articles and activities.  A term used in cruising meaning "being at anchor" is "on the hook."  Last Dance spends more nights on the hook than at a marina.  Spending time in a natural setting rather than being shoulder to shoulder with other boats appeals to the crew.  And when visiting a town, it is always more peaceful at anchor than tied up in town.

Being on the hook provides a different view of the world.  Some anchorages are so far from any human habitation that there is no light pollution.  Billions of stars appear in the sky.  When the birds stop communicating at sunset, a quiet that is almost indescribable surrounds the boat.  Until this quiet is experienced, one does not recognize all the background noises that are in our city environments.

Many anchorages provide long views which gives nature the opportunity to paint the sky with color and light.  A few photos may help illustrate the benefits of being on the hook.

On The Hook


Church Creek, South Carolina Sunset

Tuckahoe Point, North Carolina Sunset

Tuckahoe Point, North Carolina Moonrise

Tuckahoe Point, North Carolina Sunrise

Tuckahoe Point, North Carolina Sun Beams

Little Choptank River, Maryland Sunset

Hudson Creek, Maryland Sunset

Relaxing on the Aft Deck awaiting another Sunset

Sharing the View with an Estate at St. Michaels, Maryland

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Locks

The Great Loop route includes crossings of land masses and cruising on lakes and rivers above sea level.  To move a boat to a higher level or lower it back, lock systems were developed.  On this journey, over 150 locks will be encountered and the highest water elevation will be 840 feet above sea level.  The first lock on the northern journey was entering the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is 8 feet above sea level.  A small elevation compared to some on the Tennessee River that raise/lower boats 80 feet, but still a lock that illustrates the function.  Some locks on the Trent-Severn Canal in Canada are constructed with quite different systems, including one that lifts the boats out of the water, moves them over land, and places them into another waterway.





The timing of the cruise to the South Mills lock went as planned, arriving at 10:40 am, for the 11:00 am scheduled locking.



Conversations with the lockmaster via the marine VHF radio, placed the request to lock through and he opened the gates to the lock pool.




After entering the lock pool and tying to the wall, the lockmaster closes the gates to the lock.  The higher water level mark can be seen on the lock wall.




The lockmaster then walks to the other end of the lock to operate the gates on the end with the higher water level.  One person operates the lock, and some locks in Canada are operated totally by hand.




The lockmaster opens valves in the upside gates to allow water to flow into the lock at a controlled rate to bring the lock pool to the same height as the higher level water, in this case, the Dismal Swamp Canal.









As the water rises in the pool, the lines securing the boat need to be shortened.  This usually requires two crew to handle lines at the bow and the stern.  With the water rushing into the pool, the currents try to move the boat around, necessitating constant management of the lines.  This crew member looks quite relaxed -- the photo was taken after the pool reached its highest level.














After the water level rises to the higher level, the gates are opened to allow the boat to leave the lock.




In this case, the lock was followed by a lift bridge that had to be opened.  The lockmaster handles this duty also.  You can see the back of his truck on the road as he drives from the lock to the bridge.




The bridge is opened to allow the boat to continue its course along the waterway.  On this day, due to our early schedule, Last Dance was the only boat to transit the locks.

At the north end of the canal, another lock lowered the boat back to sea level, again, accompanied by another bridge opening.  Two locks transited, about 148 to go.