Monday, January 25, 2021

Christmas in the Ozarks

 One of the only bad things about our lifestyle, is being away from the family during the Christmas Holidays. We decided to take advantage of our location and transportation to fix that this year. We secured SHIFT in her slip and asked some very willing boat neighbors to watch her while we were gone. We then loaded up the truck and headed to the Ozarks. While we were gone, I got a number of very reassuring texts from Kevin letting me know that all was fine in Gulfport. 

We first drove the 8 hours to Russellville, Arkansas and spent some time with our son Michael and DIL Audrey along with their two boys Connor and Cameron. They have just moved into a new house and it is spectacular. It has some amazing views of the Arkansas River Valley. 

Michael and Audrey's beautiful new house

What makes it really special is the amazing view of Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River Valley.

Amazing sunset while we were there.

Connor and Cameron. They are growing up so fast. We had a blast shooting archery and playing many different games.

Kim on the giant rock outcropping in their neighborhood. We had fun climbing all over it.

Michael and Cameron on the "Rock".

We stayed in Russellville until Christmas morning. It was great watching the boys wake up and see what Santa brought them. It has been many years since we have been able to enjoy a Christmas morning with family.

Connor and Cameron checking out what Santa brought them.

A Family Christmas is the best!

Connor opening a present

The excitement of Christmas morning - Nothing like it.

We stayed until mid morning and then loaded the boys motorcycles in the truck and brought them and the boys with us to Shannon and Brian's house for the second half of Christmas. The drive is only about 2 and a half hours.

Brian and Shannon had planned a Christmas feast at their house and it was great to see much of his family at the house. We had a great meal and it was great seeing all of the kids playing and interacting with each other. I only took one picture.

Our granddaughters Hannah on the left and Eve on the right.  

We took our grandsons to the ranch the next day to do some riding. I love to see the boys riding together. 

Will and Cameron riding on the pee wee track

Connor riding his Honda

Will's riding skills are excellent. Here he is keeping an eye on Cameron.

Our daughter Shannon gave us a photo session with a professional photographer for Christmas. On December 28th we got our entire family together for pictures. This is the first time we have all been in the same place since 2015. We loved it! Here are a bunch of shots and then some of the professional ones.

Will, Connor and Cameron playing video games.

Brian, Hannah, Mark, Michael and Scott. Always good to see my boys together.

Of course, Amelia is the star of the show.

Isabella, Eve and Hannah

Mark and Kim and Mark's future MIL Christi and our future DIL Callie. It was the firs time we had met Christi. It was great to hear about her future traveling plans. 

Brian, Michael and Scott

We really do still like each other. 41 years this month.

I really loved to be all together. Thanks to all for coming.

We are so proud of our kids.

Kim, What have we done?

Shannon's kids went to Florida for a few days to see their father, but we decided to hang out until they came back. We had some business to take care of and we tried to help out a bit around the house. We even got to see some SNOW!

Amelia playing in the skiff of snow. It did snow a bit more later, but it was just enough to turn everything white. 

We did get to celebrate Will's birthday before we left on the 5th of January, but we retraced our steps and went back to Michael's to drop off bikes and spend one night on our way back to Gulfport. 

It felt great to be home and all was fine with SHIFT, but we loved our time with the family.

There should be some sailing in my next entry.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Christmas Time in Gulfport, Mississippi

After our first week in the Gulfport Marina, we settled in to life along the northern gulf coast. We knew it was going to be cooler than we wanted, but we were surprised how cold the next few weeks were. We had a number of low pressure systems come in from the north and bring a stiff north wind and temps dropping into the 30's F at night. That helped us get into the Christmas spirit. One thing we were looking forward to seeing while we were in Gulfport was the awesome Christmas lights display that is set up in the city park next to the marina. Kim loves Christmas lights and the Christmas season in general. 

 In my last entry, I wrote about all of the damage in the Gulfport area from Hurricane Zeta. We were very concerned that the city would not be doing the display this year. Much to our delight, even though the storm came when they were well underway setting up the display, they were able to salvage about half of the display and had it lit up each night throughout the month of December. Kim and I got bundled up a number of nights and walked around the loop in the park.

Kim's favorite, the sea serpent.

The marine version of Santa and the Sea horses.

There is a nice walking loop through the lights.

This is my favorite, the tunnel of lights constantly changes. 

No nautical display would be complete without a sailboat.

Kim decided that we had to have a Christmas display of our own. It was cool to see a few boats in the marina had lights on. 

Just a few lights around the cockpit, but we did have a Christmas Tree and a Nativity scene that Kim made out of shells. 

In my last entry I showed some pictures of two boats that had met their demise in Zeta. One day a dump truck and this loader showed up and hauled them away.

Getting ready to take a bite.

I took a walk and when I returned, this was all that was left.

I was impressed that they separated the fuel tanks and engines for proper disposal. It was clear they had plenty of experience at this job. 

We took a trip over to Gulf Shores to visit some good friends that were in town. We had an enjoyable visit and then made plans to have them aboard SHIFT for a day of sailing. I was watching the weather and finally found a day that would be a bit cool, but had decent wind and sunshine. December 9th was the day to do some sailing. It is kind of hard to capture much of a sailing trip from inside the boat, but here is a few pictures of our crew for the day.

Dick enjoying the day. We had full sails up in 12 knots of breeze at 60 degrees and making over 6 knots. We hit over 7 at one point. 

Super fun people. 

We sailed 13 miles out to Ship Island and 13 back. It was a very nice sail with some awesome folks. 

Love this shot

Dick keeps all of us laughing. 

The Captain and the Admiral. 

Before we left the dock one of our neighbors was getting ready to go. Wayne is 72 and singlehands this 42 foot Catalina. I sent him a series of shots I took. He was happy to have them. They were the first shots he had of his boat under sail.

"Infinity Too" Under full sail. She is a Catalina 42 MKII

The rest of the month was spent walking around the marina and the surrounding beaches. Some days are cool and blustery and some are nice. We wanted to experience this part of the coast in the winter to see how it was for living aboard. So far so good. 

A Blue Heron while out on my morning walk on a nice calm day.

You just have to have a Kim on a beach picture. The tide was very low on this day.

We have a Coast Guard station just behind us. It give us comfort knowing those guys are ready to come help us if we need it. 

We have some Military aircraft that fly out of the airport just north of the coast. I am not sure if they are Mississippi Air National Guard or some other unit.

I spent some time trying to determine if this is an F-18 or F-15, but not sure. We see them make a big wide circle and then land into the north wind. 

That is about it for this entry. We left Gulfport on December 22 and drove to Arkansas and Missouri to spend time with family for Christmas. I will write about that trip in my next entry.