Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home Sweet Home (Kind of Anyways)

We left our anchorage in Jones Neck Island the other day to head back to the Chickahominy River in search of a beach day and someplace to jump into the water to beat the heat. The trip down the James River under an overcast sky was relatively uneventful although we did pass several large dredges out in the channel and we had one pretty hairy unexpected passenger for awhile.
We Pass a Dredge in the James River on Our Trip to the Chickahominy
Now this Bug is Just Gross!
We had a bunch of laughing gulls following the boat - they were too funny - they would fly up behind us, dive bomb the boat and then fly around us and fall in again behind the boat with their friends!! It was really like they were playing with us!
The Laughing Gulls Follow Gypsies in the Palace
We also passed a bunch of ospreys which we have come to expect on all the channel markers although now it seems that the babies we watched in the early summer have all grown up and are ready to take off on their own - we feel like proud parents!
Osprey on Marker 85

Very shortly after reaching our anchorage in the Chick, we heard a splash over by September Song and saw all four crew in the water!!! A minute later we looked over and Stephanie and Bob were sharing their floats with Cassie and Godiva - all four looked really comfortable - what a great way to beat the heat!
The Crew of September Song Floating in the Chickahominy
We figured if you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em so we jumped in and swam over to September Song - now you have to realize that we were swimming about a 1/4 mile straight against a strong current so by the time we got over to their boat, we were parched. Bob noticing this was gallant enough to whip up a cool pitcher of rum punch which we all enjoyed floating in the water!! The highlight though was to see Godiva lounging solo on one of the floats which was tied to the back of the boat as if she thought she was the Queen of Sheba!!! And who's to say she isn't???
Godiva Enjoys HER Float (Photo Courtesy of September Song)
Usually Godiva just needs to see a tennis ball and she is mesmerized waiting for you to throw it so she can be off on the grand retrieval but that afternoon there was no getting her off her float - a tennis ball that was thrown for her continued to float down the river completely forlorn and unloved while Godiva snuggled into her float to catch some rays!! Using noodles and their other float, we hung out in the cool water until the rum punches were gone and it was time to head back to Gypsies (luckily the tide was now with us so the swim back was a much easier feat!!)
Now this is the Life! (Photo Courtesy of September Song)

The next day had been planned as a beach day - there is a small beach right around the bend in the river which both of our nephews Luke and Levi had told us was one of their "hanging spots". It being during the week, we felt it was safe to invade the beach without risking embarrassing the boys - who really wants their "old" uncle and aunt hanging with your dudes??? Unfortunately the day dawned overcast and drizzly so we got some boat chores done in the morning and waited for the weather to turn. Well it never really did but the skies did stop spitting for awhile so we made the foray to the beach optimistically packing beach chairs and a cooler.
The Crews of September Song and Gypsies Try to Imagine Being in the Bahamas
If we closed our eyes really tight...nope we still couldn't imagine we were on a beach in the Bahamas what with the brownish water and tree stumps strewn on the half mud/half sand shore, but you take what you can get here when it comes to beaches and the boat dogs didn't seem to mind one bit. Godiva sans float was back to loving the tennis ball which we threw repeatedly for her while Cassie was intent on catching something...we weren't exactly sure of what but it didn't seem to matter to her as she pranced back and forth along the water's edge. The sun broke through for a little while so we all enjoyed the afternoon immensely - think we played with the poor boat dogs a little too much as they were pretty exhausted that evening (sometimes dogs need aspirin for aches and pains just like we do!) Despite not partaking in the beach outing, the boat kitties likewise seemed tuckered out that evening as they each posed for these candid shots in their favorite poses - sound asleep!!
Puss Takes Over the Couch For Her Afternoon Nap
Bootsie is Forced to Sleep on the Floor

That night we broke out our last mahi and tuna that we had caught in the Bahamas and had September Song over for dinner - as usual it was a great night of fun topped off by a chocolate cheesecake for an early celebration of Big Boat Bob's 60th birthday!! I know it's technically not until this weekend but when you get to be that age you deserve a whole celebration long weekend - just kidding Bob!!! We know Bob loves chocolate so we thought we'd get an early jump on the partying!! The next morning we set out early for the 16 mile run to Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg where we planned to spend the weekend - Williamsburg as many of you know is Doug's old stomping grounds (he went to William & Mary and all of his family lives around the area). We had an easy trip with the current behind us the whole way so before we knew it we were tying up to the docks at Kingsmill and scrubbing the boats down (inside and out) - after being on anchor in the rivers for over a week, the boats really needed a bath (besides we were having a party that night!!!) We had lots of company of the bird persuasion as we cleaned the boats - tons of gulls and terns regularly sit on the breakwall that surrounds the marina and they were joined by a truly majestic heron and lots of colorful little ducks!!
Blue Heron Struts on the Sea Wall at Kingsmill
Ducks Swam Over to Check Out the Recently Arrived Boats
The Baby Ducks Were Just So Cute!

That evening was one of festive reunion with Doug's family - Doug's daughter Lisa and her three girls Caytie, Tina and Lexi, Dale and Levi, and Kathy (who was married to Doug's dad when he passed away several years ago) and her current beau Allan came over to the boat, and along with Bob and Stephanie, we had one heck of a good bash!!
From left: Tina, Caytie (foreground), Lisa, Lexi, Doug, Kathy and Dale
From left: Lisa, Stephanie (back to camera), Levi, Dale, Bob, Doug, Allan and Kathy
Lots of food, libations and laughter made for a great evening despite the on again off again sprinkles. We felt like big people as we didn't go to bed until around midnight (we boat people usually hit the hay a little (or a lot) earlier than that after long days on the water and in the sun!!) The next morning we planned on joining September Song for a day in Williamsburg!

Although we awoke to more rain (ugh!), we had a good omen that the front was going to pass - the most amazing bald eagle came and sat right near our boats on one of the marina pilings. We immediately dove for the cameras hoping to catch him in all his (or more likely her) resplendent glory and we did!!! I have never been so close to an eagle - while we have seen a bunch of them here in the James River and on the Chick, usually they are high overhead or in the tops of trees - this one was up close and personal!! She seemed to pose for us for quite awhile before flying off to grace someone else with her presence!
The Eagle Poses for the Cameras
"Wait...the Right Side is My Best Side"

We headed out for Williamsburg mid-morning and drove around town to see the sights with Doug as tour guide - Williamsburg has always been one of our favorite places and we've spent a fair amount of time here since we usually stayed at Kingsmill whenever we came down to see Doug's family. It is not only a historic place but one that is aesthetically very pleasing - OK it's downright beautiful with its stately colonial brick homes that match the decor of the WIlliam and Mary college buildings and wonderful flowering gardens. We finally parked the car and began our stroll down DOG Street also known as Duke of Gloucester Street that runs from the Wren Building at W&M to the Capitol Building - not only is it lined with quaint shops and restaurants but you often see people in full period dress wandering the cobblestones. We hadn't walked far when we came upon the Cheese Shop, one of our favorite places even if just to browse - before we knew it Bob had ordered up a plate of pate and cheese with a bag of french bread and crackers while we hit the wine cellar for a bottle of nice chardonnay (which we chilled in our little plastic bag that served as our ice bucket - now that's what we call bag wine) and we were munching on the best picnic ever outside at a wrought iron table overlooking the street!! Now that's fun I don't care who you are - we love spontaneity!!!
Lunch at the Cheese Shop
We wandered around some of the shops waiting for Doug's daughter Lisa to join us (or at least that's what we told Bob - in fact we were waiting for Bob's daughter Patti and her daughter Brianne whom Stephanie had flown in from Illinois for Bob's bday!!!) I did my part and bought something at Williams and Sonoma (gee that's a shock) so Doug could bring it back to the car and pick up Patti and Brianne along the way while Stephanie and I kept Bob otherwise engaged - as we were hanging out by the wooden toy store, Doug strolled up and told Bob that while he couldn't find his own daughter, he had found Bob's!!!! To say that Bob was surprised is an understatement!!!
"Oh My God!"
I'll let the pictures do the talking but it was so cool to see the reunion between he and Patti and Brianne - we just stepped back with smiles on our faces (and of course our camera snapping)!
Hugs All Around!
Way to go Stephanie - what an amazing bday surprise (especially since Stephanie has been planning this since we were in the Bahamas - and no one let it slip!!!!!)

We let the newly enlarged September Song gang spend the afternoon together catching up while we do what we do best - find a great little bar! Actually we had found the Greene Leaf on our last pass through Williamsburg and had liked it so much, we returned for the teriyaki wings and the cold drafts. We sat at the bar as we are want to do and proceeded to have a great afternoon thanks in large part to our awesome bartender Teresa who graciously let us try lots of their tap beers - it was a quiet afternoon at the bar!!!!
Drinks and Apps at the Greene Leaf Cafe
While we started out with a pitcher of Bud Light (OK shame on us but we're on a budget!), all the microbrew samples we were trying made us soon spring for a couple real pints (and a plate of some truly great cheese fries which Teresa had let us sample too!) Unfortunately all good things must come to end (so new cool stuff can start is how I look at it) and we headed back to the boat. Thanks for a fun time Teresa - I'm sure we'll see you again soon!
Our Newest Best Friend Teresa!

The September Song crew was having a great reunion - little did Bob know but there were more surprises to come. That evening we told Bob we were headed out to see our musician friend from Key West Scott Kirby play in Richmond (which was actually true - sorry we missed you Scott but we'll see you soon hopefully!) - in fact we were headed to the Newport News airport to pick up Bob's other daughter Kerri, her two kids Alexis and DJ, and Patti's son Austin!! Minor scare as their flight was not even listed on the board when we got to the airport and we had a momentary freak out that we were at the wrong airport...luckily that wasn't the case and soon enough we were headed back to Kingsmill with more big surprises for Bob. We crept up to September Song, knocked and when Bob came out on deck, Kerri asked for permission to come aboard!!! Yet again Bob looked like he was catching flies as he uttered his by now famous words that Kerri had predicted "Oh my GOD!"
Bob Shows His Surprise While Patti Looks On
After posing for pictures the reunion party really got underway on September Song - half the fun of it for us was watching not only Bob's happy face, but watching Stephanie smiling from ear to ear as she also watched Bob's happiness!! Now that's love and two great people that really deserve each other!!!
Bob Gets Hugs From His Family as They Board September Song
The Whole Family Poses on the Aft Deck of September Song

Exhausted from all the suspense but too giddy to go to sleep, we finally turned in around 11:00 pm at which time the SS gang was still going strong!! They all had a lot to catch up on!!! Today I think it's off to Busch Gardens but we'll see!!

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