Friday, January 30, 2009

The Beginning of a New Chapter...

A lot has happened on Gypsies since last I wrote!

Tammy here by the way...

Let's see - the Gypsies crew is back up to four (welcome back John!); we left the Chesapeake Bay (not to return for 3 or so years - but what a blast we had!); we visited St. Mary's City, MD, Fishing Bay, VA, Hampton, VA, Williamsburg, VA and Portsmouth, VA, where we are sitting as I write this. Tomorrow starts a new chapter in our adventure as we head down the Intracoastal Waterway (a/k/a the ICW or just the Ditch) on our way to Florida in search of the sun!! Warm weather has been elusive this past week or so and sun pig is in need of a fix...we're obviously not heading south quickly enough (yeah, I know, its just unseasonably cold - or at least that's what everyone keeps telling me...) It's supposed to be in the 30s tonight we just heard, which in my mind is just WRONG!!! But no matter where we go, it seems that beautiful sunrises and sunsets follow us, as if they are taunting us ... we'll take it!!

We have been sponges this past week absorbing lots of local history (as well as our share of the local beers) - St. Mary's City was the capital of Maryland back in the mid-1600s
and then all but disappeared after the capital moved to Annapolis in 1694 but much of the city has been recreated including a replica of one of the ships that brought the first settlers to the town.
While in Williamsburg we not only got to see Colonial Williamsburg, which was the capital of Virginia for a time,
but also William and Mary (Doug's alma mater)
and Yorktown, where the last major battle of the Revolution was fought and where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington.

Funny how in each place we also found time to find the coolest little bars...Marker 20, Seasons and our favorite college bar in Williamsburg, the Green Leafe Cafe, where we drank pitchers of really good beer (Shock Top Belgian White ... with oranges to prevent scurvy) and ate really great wings all afternoon for $20!! We now know to look for the dive bars closest to the college for the best prices if not the best beer - we just happened to luck out at the Green Leafe since they were having a special on all VA beers!

But the best part of our stay in Williamsburg (which lasted several days longer than we had anticipated thanks to Mother Nature and the gale force winds we had for several days) was getting to see Doug's family. The first afternoon we got in to Kingsmill marina in Williamsburg we saw Doug's sister Dale and her youngest son, Levi (he's 19 and about to head out on his own to attend the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School so he's not that young - guess everything is relative) - they came by after the William and Mary homecoming game to drop off a car for us to use during our stay (not sure they thought we'd have it for 5 days but it sure was wonderful - thanks tons Dale!!) The next day Dale and Levi, followed shortly by our nephew Luke and his girlfriend Laura, joined us on the boat and it was actually warm enough to sit topsides for the afternoon - yippee!!! Meanwhile, Colleen picked John up at the airport in Richmond and the prodigal son returned to the boat - the Gypsies crew was reunited and there was much celebrating!! Late that afternoon the rest of the clan arrived: Kathy (who was married to Doug's dad before he passed away - we know he was there too in spirit!!) and her boyfriend Alan, Scott (Dale's husband) and Larkin (our other nephew). What a great night of catching up and merriment!

We were even joined by a majestic blue heron in the afternoon who clearly wanted to join the party - she strutted her stuff down the dock as if she was walking the runway for America's Next Top Model!!
There were also about a thousand other birds of all kinds (including a turkey vulture and 3 big black buzzards shredding a dead fish- yuch!) Kingsmill could be where Hitchcock filmed the birds!!
But we also got to see some really amazing sunrises and sunsets during our visit!

The next day was one of errands and provisioning for us - boring but necessary both since we wanted to make use of having a vehicle for a couple days and since we are heading into the Ditch! Luke and Larkin came over that night for dinner so we got to hear the real scoop of what was going on in their lives (not the filtered version of the night before!!!) Luke showed up with three bags of homegrown shrimp from a buddy of his - these things are bubba gump shrimp they are so big! Thanks Luke - we will enjoy every minute of them and think of you as we devour them!!! That probably didn't come out right, but... Actually Colleen and John are up on the docks cooking up a bag of shrimp as we speak - we will eat good tonight!!

Larkin flies Blackhawk helicopters for a living (very kewl!) so we made tentative plans for him to do a fly-by to take pictures of Gypsies while underway from the air. Today as we headed into the Elizabeth River we got a radio call from "Punisher 11" aka Larkin that he was headed our way - he did several fly-bys after getting permission from the airport to enter their airspace and got some great pictures of Gypsies (we think); we in turn got some awesome pictures of his helicopter!! How cool was that - we know that guy!!

But all good things have to come to an end at some point and after another quick visit with Dale and Levi last night, this morning we headed out the James River and arrived in Portsmouth, VA which sits at the head of the ICW. Norfolk (right across the river) is Mile 0 - Miami where we are headed is Mile 1090 on the ICW - believe it or not, we have already traveled over 1200 miles!!! Tomorrow we have 8 bridges to go under (some of which we have to call to have opened for us) and one lock, which we've never done before - should be an interesting day!

Tomorrow starts the next phase in our journey to find the sun and the perfect rum...

For additional Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Boat Cats and Larkin flying his Black Hawk, Punisher 11 pictures click here.

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