Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 25, 2015 Ft Pierce to Jensen Beach, FL

We decided to wait at this marina for the new chart plotter and new charts for coastal American, Bahamas, Caribbean and some of South America.  So we spent the morning calling credit card companies to let them know where we will be over the next 4-5 months.  We also called Verizon to plan our phones.  We decided we will turn off our phone service while we are gone.  With the money we are saving, we may pick up a Bahamian phone.  All the details you have to think of!

We had lunch at the Tiki bar.  By the time Dave showered, the parts were here.  So we left the dock about 2:30 just wanting to get about 15 miles further south.  Neither one of us slept very well at this marina.  There was a train close by that sounded it’s whistle, more like a trumpet, throughout the night.  And the people on the dock were noisy.  And last night, there was a burning smell that irritated our throats most of the night.

We turn on the VHF radio when we are moving the boat.  All afternoon, we periodically heard an announcement by the US Coast Guard telling us that the Ft Pierce Inlet was closed indefinitely.  We passed that just as we left the marina.  And actually, last year, we came in that inlet.  So we googled the incident and here is what we found.  Yesterday, a barge that was taking on water, was being towed.  Ft Pierce inlet was the closest inlet for them to come in.  At about 6:30 pm, they met an outgoing tide in the inlet that caused more water to cover the barge.  It broke in half and part of the barge was sucked into the hull of the barge, drowning one person.  So sad, and a dose of reality.  You can’t take anything for granted. 

We anchored on the north side of Jensen Bridge at Jensen beach.  We are expecting south winds and rain tomorrow.  We’ll study the weather and our path on the ICW to decide if we will stay put for a day, or go further. 

We ran the generator and water maker at our anchorage.  So we charge all of our laptops and phones and make popcorn.  Yes, since we have microwave popcorn, I have been making up a couple bags when the generator is running.  Then we put it in a ziplock bag and it keeps just fine.

Dave made a pesto using spinach a couple days ago.  So we are going to have that for dinner.  I am going to post this now while we have power and Dave’s hotspot wifi from his phone.  So I’ll have to let you know how the pesto turned out.  But maybe we’ll just have popcorn. 

I remember visiting with some other female classmates in the first few weeks of dental school.  I was already married.  A few said they couldn’t imagine being married while in school.  One said “when I get home, sometimes all I feel like having for dinner is popcorn.”  I said “so do we”.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23-24, 2015 Ft Pierce, FL

Evidently, I need to start with an  apology to Richard and Tracy.  My sister and I were the ones that brought our illness to their house, not the other way around.  They were gracious hosts.

We had a lazy morning again to help get over our illnesses.  But it was a beautiful morning!!  When we left anchorage about 11:00, it was already 75 degrees and sunny.  I don’t know if it was the weather, or just being further south, but there was much more traffic on the ICW today.  We saw our first jet skiers of the season (not our favorite).  And several boats that didn’t know which side of the channel they were supposed to be on.  A little bit of Dave’s road rage rears it’s head on days like this. 

We also saw lots of dolphins frolicking in the warm water throughout the day.  Actually, we have seen dolphins everyday since leaving Georgia.  And we saw 3 different dirigibles.  They were being used for advertising. 
I guess there is a new Peanuts movie coming out
We figured we were about 85 miles from Lake Worth and the Palm Beach inlet.  That is where we plan to leave for the Bahamas.  I spent some time looking at where a good place would be to do our final wifi, provisioning, etc.  We decided to spend the night at Ft Pierce.  We met a couple in Marathon, Fl last winter that keep their boat here over the winter.  So we went to their marina, Harbortown Marina. 

We arrived about 3:30.  After tying up in our slip, we went to the office to check in/pay.  They had a fun tiki bar/restaurant.  So we stayed for an early dinner.  Then I walked about 4 blocks to Publix grocery store to hit our last provisioning of the few things I overlooked.  I took a taxi back to the boat instead of carrying everything.  Then I did two loads of laundry at $3.00 per wash and dry!  We were  spoiled with free laundry in GA. 

On the way here, our chart plotter started acting up.  So Dave spent the evening trying to download new charts and the upgrades  We had a  poor wifi connection, so it would leave out sections of the charts.  Very Frustrating.  We had trouble with this back in GA, too.  So he wasn’t sure where the problem was coming from, lots of variables.  Will sleep on it.  
our dock lit at night
We planned to leave today, but the chart plotter still wasn’t working correctly.  Dave talked to a technician at Raymarine twice.  They recommended we send in our chart plotter to be evaluated.  That would take 2 weeks.  So we decided to order a new chart plotter which can be here tomorrow.  Then we can send in this one for the repair and have it waiting for us when we return from the Bahamas.  It will be a back up, or we can use it as a chart from the interior of our boat. 

So after lunch, I cleaned the heads.  We also tested sending messages to a few people using our SPOT.  It is a small device that uses satellites to send preset messages.  We thought we could use this in the Bahamas to let a few people know we were OK.  It is what I use to show our location on this blog, too.  That is if I remember to activate the device.  Then as a reward, I headed to the pool.  I finished reading a book, checked Facebook, went for a swim, and then showered.  Ahhh, this is what I signed up for. 

My niece, Heidi, shared a picture of her legs and the pool a few weeks ago in Mexico.  But this is all I wanted to share.
While I was gone, Dave dug into several things and when I returned, he said EVERYTHING WAS WORKING ON OUR BOAT!  Not only the chart plotter, but the inverter (which wasn’t working earlier).  So now we will have the new chart plotter as a back up, and possibly sell it if this one continues to work well. 

We celebrated by having dinner at the tiki bar again.  It was a beautiful evening to eat outside, still 80 degrees.  Walking back to the boat, we saw a sign in the cockpit of another boat that said “Drinking causes memory loss, or even worse, memory loss!”.

another view of the marina at dusk. we're almost at the far end

Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 21-22, 2015 Sebastian, FL

Dave came down with my cold.  So we just stayed here for a day so he could sleep.  I filled my time with wasting time :)

Today would have been Hap’s, Dave’s stepfather’s, 93rd birthday.  This is the first year without him.  Dave’s mom is going to dinner with her son, Dean in MN.  Dave's brother, Dean, is a police officer in Mpls.  Last night an officer was shot at unprovoked.  He's still alive, and they caught the guy.  Dean knew him.  And Dean happened to take the night off because he wasn't feeling well.  Scarey!
Today is the visitation for the mother of a dear friend of mine in SD, Yvonne McCann.  These are reminders of why we are doing this now.  May they both rest in peace.  And keep our police safe!

I let Dave sleep in to help him get over his cold.  Then we had a big Sunday breakfast.  I made pancakes for the first time on the boat.  Now I can no longer pretend that Dave is the only one who can make them :(

It was 70 degrees this morning!!! We were able to open the windows on the boat while at anchor instead of turning on the heat this morning!!  Now we feel like we’re in Florida. 

While we were on the ICW, we saw someone surfing behind a power boat.  Our niece and family in CO do this, Sherri, Bobby and Jaxon.  So we texted back and forth about it.  They just bought a vacation home in Key Largo.  So we hope to join them there someday. 

I have gotten pretty good about using the “what’s on my boat” app on my phone for our provisions and general “stuff”.  As we use the items, I change the number of what we have on hand.  I realized that this won’t help me when I want to evaluate how well we provisioned for the Bahamas.  So today, I made a list of our provisions on paper (since we are frugal with our power).  Then I will put it in a spread sheet where I can make notes about what we add while we are in the Bahamas.  Then when we are back, I will evaluate our usage and come up with a monthly master list for provisioning in the future.  It takes some organization up front, but it will be so much easier for future passages. 

About an hour before we reached our anchorage, I took a shower while we were under way.  That was a first for either of us.  The engine heated the water, and the ICW is pretty smooth.  There is an occasional power boat that speeds by, but no problem.  Dave showered after we were at anchor.  It was the first in 5 days and felt SOOOOO good. 

When we ran the generator to make water a couple days ago, Dave noticed the generator was smoking.  So after we anchored today, he serviced the generator.  He checked the oil and the filters.  He noticed the impeller has swollen and was pressing on the impeller plate, slowing it down.  So after he cleaned that up, it ran much better.  We then ran the generator and water maker.  They just need to be run occasionally.  When we are at a marina, we don’t need either one, so they just sit.  Dave has a theory “men and boats rot in a marina”.

After showering, I noticed a spot on the inside of my arm just above the elbow.  I have been watching this for a few weeks thinking it was a bruise.  I think it was there while I was in SD.  Today we decided it looked like ring worm, so I put some anti fungal cream on it.  No idea how I would have gotten that.   The only thing I can blame is Tracy and Richard’s cat!  So BE WARE!  I know Richard reads this and I’ll hear about it. 

this view is from the companionway looking into the cockpit and at the sunset

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 18-20, 2015 St Augustine to Merritt Island, FL

Last night we received e-mail notification of our mail.  There was a check there from our Health Savings Account that would be best to be deposited before leaving for the Bahamas.  Since we aren’t going to be in one place long enough to receive our mail, we decided to drive 25 miles to Green Cove Springs.  Camachee Cove marina let us use their courtesy car!!  Otherwise we were going to rent a car.  So we took off about 8:00 and stopped for breakfast at a little diner we had found the last time we were in town.  We didn’t even use the navigator in our phone this time.  It is a pretty drive through wooded area and then over the St John’s River.  We had to find an ATM that would allow us to deposit the check, since the nearest branch was about 30 miles south of St Augustine.  Found one in St Augustine, made that stop and were back to the boat by 11:30. 

Most marinas give you some kind of "goodie bag" with information about the marina, the area, and some kind of gift.  This marina gave us a nice drinking glass with nautical flags.  Then you could buy matching one for $3.  Good marketing, it worked on us. 

We left the marina about 12:15 pm and headed south.  There was another tall ship docked in St Augustine.  The current was pretty strong today against us.  And it was windy, averaged around 15 mph with gusts over 20 mph.  Dave was bringing the boat under a bridge and there seemed to be “confused waters”.  He commented that he didn’t want to have the feeling that he was riding down a snow hill on a saucer-you know you were facing forward when you started.  In other words, he wasn’t sure where the waters were going to take us.  But he made it through just fine. 
Bridge of Lions in St Augustine is such a pretty bridge
another tall ship in St Augustine
We only planned to go 15 miles today.  The next good anchorage was quite a ways and would have put us anchoring in the dark.  We stopped at Matanzas Inlet.  There is an old fort at the inlet that sounds like it is nice to tour.  Maybe on a trip north again.  It was too cold and windy to get into the dinghy at 4:30 when they probably closed at 5:00 anyway. 

Another nice evening an anchor.  Dave even played a game of cribbage with me!
Fort Matanzas


That was a rough night.  We had current and wind, so our anchor chain would occasionally yank or “ka-kunk” against the bow, or the other anchor hanging on the bow, when we changed directions.  I wondered if I would be able to go to sleep, but no problem.  The noise did wake me about 5:00 am.  I was about ready to record the noise along with Dave’s snoring, but then it settled down.  But he did jump up to check things a couple times during the night.

It was down to 30 degrees overnight.  So our heated water was no longer heated.  When we are at a marina, we have power for our water heater.  And when the engine is running, it heats the water.  But overnight, it doesn’t stay warm when it is this cold.  So we were back to heating water on the stove to wash our faces this morning.  Then I waited to do breakfast dishes until we were under way and the engine could heat the water.  Got to work around these things.

Today, we stayed on the ICW and traveled 45 miles to New Smyrna Beach.  We were tempted to go to a marina for the night so we could take a taxi to the Garlic Restaurant.  We were there with Kate and Brian Sweeney and his mom, Rita, the last time we were here.  But that would have added about $100 to the restaurant bill.  So we settled for tostadas with guacamole. 

It was another cold, windy day.  It started out at 34 degrees with windchill of 25.  And the high was 45 degrees.  So Dave navigated the ICW while I stayed warm inside.  Still have this cough.  Did some reading and perfected my solitaire game once I found out my new favorite game was on the mini iPad.  It can be charged with the 12 volt charger :)
You wouldn't know this was Florida.  Just passed that draw bridge in the background

Tonight, we ran the water maker for the first time since early December.  Everything worked great!  That was a relief, since the last time it sat for a few months, there were problems.  We can make 30 gallons an hour filtering the water we are sailing in.  We made about 40 gallons tonight.  So with just  drinking water, washing dishes, faces, brushing teeth, and flushing our heads, we use about 10 gallons per day.

That was a nice anchorage.  Much calmer night, so we slept well and stayed cozy warm.  But I could see my breath this morning in bed.  When we left anchorage around 8:30 am, it was 40 degrees and it made it up to 50 today.  Looks like we’ll see 80 pretty soon.

I stayed down below again today.  Dave likes being at the helm and I think my cough is getting better.  I was studying up on the Bahamas today.  We have a chart book of the Bahamas that is also a guide book.  Lots of good information.

Dave is noticing that he has to use the binoculars much less after his cataract surgery.  He’s enjoying his new view.  It also corrected his distance vision.

We anchored near Merritt Island, near Patrick Air Force Base, south of Cocoa, FL.  I usually take the helm and Dave’s drops the anchor.  We have a system of hand signals that works really well for us.  I thought Dave had come up with a new hand signal, then I realized he was shading his eyes looking for a crab pot that we had passed on our way into the anchorage.  HaHa! 

It was a beautiful afternoon with a beautiful sunset.  So we decided to have happy hour in the cockpit (with side shields and dodger still blocking the breeze).  After Dave put on his “wine goggles”, he thought life was pretty good and couldn’t be happier.  I had to agree.  

Selfie with sunset on our faces and hat hair and new drinking glasses

Box wine stores well on the boat.  Beautiful glow to the horizon after sunset

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 15, 16, 17. 2015 Brunswick, GA to St Austustine, FL

2-15-15 Ga to FL

We finally left Georgia.  Back in early December, we thought we would be in GA for about a week waiting out bad weather and checking out the marina.  But we ended up having Dave’s cataract surgeries there.  And I made a trip back to SD.  We really enjoyed the area and the amenities the marina had to offer.  We have reserved a slip for next summer during hurricane season while we plan to make another trip to SD/MN.

We ended up leaving early Sunday morning to pass Jekyll Island before low tide.  High tide was 6:00 am and low was about noon with high about 6:00 pm again.  So we left at 6:30 am and didn’t have any trouble going past the island.  We saw a beautiful sunrise over Jekyll Island.  When we reached Fernandina, FL, it was low tide.  This was the one spot we were stuck on the way north.  We followed the advice of other sailors on Active Captain and made it through just fine.  The lowest spot we found was less than 2 feet under our keel. 

We decided to stay at a nice anchorage near Amelia Island and actually stopped kind of early, 2:30 pm.  But that was an 8 hour day and about 45 miles.  I had a nap in the late morning.  But Dave was pretty tired.  I made an early dinner of spaghetti and Dave hit the bed by 6:00 pm.  It wasn’t even dark yet!  He doesn’t usually sleep through the night, so he thought he’d get a head start.  It was great to be back on the water and moving somewhere. 
Now that's a nice friend when they get up to send you off at 6:30 am and even take a photo.  Thanks Harold!
sunrise over Jekyll Island
2-16-15 ICW to N of St Augustine

Today we started later, 9:30, because it was a holiday :)  We traveled the ICW because there wasn’t a good place to go outside and back in before the weather would turn worse tonight.  It was interesting to see familiar places along the way.

Dave spent the whole day at the helm with a few short breaks from me.  I have been battling a cough for 2 weeks, so I spent more time inside today.  It was rather windy and we had to fight the current in several places.  So we only made it 40 miles in 8 hours today.

We anchored off the ICW about 10 miles north of St Augustine.  We had a great dinner of leftover spaghetti from last night and from my Friday night salmon pasta.  Yummy!
Probably another early night with limited power to run the computer.

2-17-15 St Augustine, FL

I woke up with my cough being worse instead of better.  So we decided to get a slip in St Augustine at Camachee Cove Marina so I could see a doctor.  I don’t normally go to the doctor for a cold, but since we want to leave for the Bahamas this week, I thought I should be sure there wasn’t anything that could be done. 

We were only about 6 miles away from the marina.  So we were there by 10:30 am.   We had lunch, and I showered, then I used the marina’s courtesy car to go to a walk in clinic that they suggested.  Dave stayed to shower and do a load of laundry.  The CDC is telling the doctors that if someone has a cough for more than 2 weeks, they should be placed on an antibiotic, z-pack.  He was nice enough to give me a refill so we could have one on the boat in case Dave ends up with this.  Honestly, I don’t know how he has avoided it so far.  Let’s just say this Valentine’s day was nothing spectacular. 

We really are spoiled by having endless power and wifi in a marina.  4 months in the Bahamas may be a challenge for us.

Camachee Cove Marina.  Always funny to see pelicans drying their wings

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 11-14, 2015 Provisioning and Projects

Dave finished painting the frame of the windows on our deck/into the saloon area.  This bank of windows was replaced when we bought the boat back in Alabama.  But it wasn’t a very good job.  So the paint has peeled over the last year.  This project took several days because of coats between rain and lower temperatures.

We changed our home port on the boat.  We were originally told that you had to have the name of your home port match where your boat was registered, which was Daphne, Alabama.  Well, after we became citizens of Florida last summer, we did our own research into what home port we could use.  We had all kinds of authorities telling us definite answers.  So we went straight to the US Coast Guard, since we are registered with them (not all boats have to be, but ours already was when we bought it).   They said it can be any US city that we want!  So we went back to Rapid City, SD as our home port.

Back to the procedure.  First we had to change all the proper paperwork with the US Coast Guard and wait for that to clear before changing it on the boat.  There were a few other agencies we had to change the home port with, too.  Then we found a sign company back in North Carolina last fall to make the letters to match the font and color of the name of the boat. 

While in Georgia, we planned to have the boat out of the water in early January and just change the name at that time.   Well the boat was out and in the same day.  So back in the slip, Dave removed the old name off of the boat while I was in South Dakota.  Then just this week, we place the new port: Rapid City, SD. Everyone looks at your boat to see where you are from.  So we believe having Rapid City on there will generate a few conversations.  Just today, someone from Montana  come over to talk to Dave and shared fly fishing stories.  They generally ask “where did you sail in SD” or “how did you get that boat here from SD”.

I know it looks like Dave did all the work, but someone had to stop working long enough to take pictures.

Provisioning.  I think I mentioned this before, but we are trying to see if we can supply the boat for 4  months.  We will supplement with fresh fish, fruits and vegetables in the Bahamas, but trying to cover everything else.  Once we stored our earlier shopping spree purchases, I came up with a list of things we forgot or thought we had more of.  But at some point you have to say “enough is enough”. 

I updated my application of “what’s on my boat” in my phone.  Now we’ll see if I can keep it up to date.  I am also going to use a master list to see what we started with and what we end up with.  Then I will be able to track if we were correct in our estimating.  We hope this will help on future passages. 

Then there is always laundry and cleaning of the boat. 

While we had the car earlier this week, we drove to Darien, about 20 miles from here, for dinner.  Someone told Dave about a little restaurant that has a buffet with Georgia shrimp, BBQ ribs and rib eye steaks.  It was very good.  But if we ever return, we think we’ll have one person order shrimp and one order the ribs or rib eye and just share with each other.  Earlier in the week they have chicken and pizza, so check the menu if you plan to go. 

We are also looking at weather and tides to plan our departure.  We have gone back and forth about going through the ICW or on the outside.  The first leg of the ICW has to be done at hight tide, or close to.  Well that happens to be 4:00 am or 4:00 pm this time of year.  Then we thought about doing an overnight on the outside, but the weather has been windy and cold, so outside at night may be pretty miserable.  So we are leaning towards the  ICW to start with and go outside when we are further south and warmer. 

I guess you’ll have to wait for my next update to find out how it goes. 
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February 6-10, 2015 Projects and Birthday

Dave had one more appointment with the VA in St Augustine on Friday for an MRI since he has a possible TIA back in September.  Don’t know when or if he will hear the results of the test since no follow up appointment was made.  Guess no news is good news.

Projects to finish before we leave:  Dave is repainting the frame of our bank of windows on the cabin ceiling.  Takes several coats with drying in between. 

Saturday there was a high school sailing competition at our marina.  Teams came from Atlanta, Charleston, Jacksonville and more.  The parents lined up on the marina dock and the shore much like soccer moms back in South Dakota.  Such a different life, but so many similarities. 

Sunday, I sang with the church choir again.  Then since we had a rental car, I made Dave spend a day as a tourist.  We drove to Jekyll Island about 10 miles from here.  It is a state park now, but was winter home to many wealthy people in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is still there along with surrounding “cottages” that were homes of the Morgans, Pulitzers, Vanderbilts, Rockefellars and Cranes.  Just checked the rates and they range from $190-$500/night. 

We had lunch at a raw bar on the water of the ICW.  I had shrimp, but Dave had the platter with shrimp, mussels and crawfish.  We haven’t had crawfish since we left Alabama so he was in heaven. 

We spent the day walking around the grounds and on the beach.  Dave is enjoying his “new eyes”. 

Monday-Wednesday were spent on projects, running errands, and provisioning the boat.  Being in water that is colder than we have been in the past, we are finding the inside of the hull is damp and has mildew.  So we are cleaning out storage areas, tossing, and regrouping, again. 

When food is brought to the boat, it has to be repackaged for the freezer or refrigeration.  We get rid of cardboard packaging (will get damp and carries bugs in some places).  We are marking the lids of all of our canned goods, since some labels mildewed.  And we are bagging all of our canned goods with like foods before they go into storage.  All paper products have to be bagged.  Ziplock is a good company to invest with now that I am buying mega amounts of all sizes of bags. 

Tuesday was my birthday.  Since we are on a permanent vacation, celebrating on the exact day doesn’t mean as much anymore.  We did go out for breakfast on St Simon’s Island at Cafe Frederica.  We shared a cinnamon roll, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, and a crab meat omelet.  No sides, so we managed all of it.  I enjoyed greetings through e-mails, Facebook, texts, phone calls and FaceTime with Garrett and Claire singing Happy Birthday to me (great nephew and niece).  They called while we were pumping the head on our boat.  So I was able to show them the hose that sucks out our poop.  That created the exact squeals we were hoping for.
returning the boat to our slip after pump out

January 30- Feb 4, 2015 Post Ski for Light

Friday: Non Ski for Light functions that have become a tradition
On Friday morning, many SFLighters go to the Saloon #10 at 10:00 am for Bloody Mary’s and a chance to say good-bye.  This started years ago with about a dozen people and has grown over the years.  After leaving there, about 10 of us stopped for lunch at the Slash J’s in Piedmont (between Deadwood and Rapid City). 

Saturday: Ellarita’s at Vern and Ella Shafer’s also a tradition on Saturday afternoon.
Many years ago, several friends would get together at Vern and Ella’s before leaving on their respective flights or road trips home.  This has also grown over the years.  They live in a beautiful home that Vern built on the outskirts of Rapid City.  About 50 people show up for Ella’s famous Ellarita’s, which are margaritas made by the pitcher with one 12 oz can of limeade, one can of tequila, 1/2 can of triple sec, and 3 beers. 
Kaye, Rick Johnson, Vern and Ella Shafer, Tara Knutson
Richard and Tracy invited the Canadians to their home for a wonderful pork dinner.  Their friends, Gretchen and Steven entertained us with singing, guitar, harmonica, flute, ukulele.  Fun night. 

Sunday: Gretchen and Steve brought green chile peppers from New Mexico and prepared an awesome breakfast for us.  They left that afternoon and I ended up with Bev’s flu or whatever.  So I slept, packed, visited with Pete awhile, didn’t even watch the Super Bowl.

Monday: I felt well enough to travel, so spent the day in planes and airports.  Then I spent the rest of the week sleeping away this strange illness. 

Tuesday: Dave had his second cataract surgery while I slept in the rental car.  Here is what he texted me last week the day after his first eye surgery : "My whole world has changed after this surgery.  I like to go to Cultural Centers, am dancing quite a bit, and am singing in the church choir.  Who would have guessed?"  I got a lot of laughs out of our friends when I shared this.

January 29, 2015 Ski for Light Race Day and Banquet

At the cross country site, we are assigned numbers according to the time we estimated for our race.  That way the faster skiers can just take off and it is less likely that you will have to pass someone.  The participants wear the race bibs and we line up.  They stagger the racers by 10 seconds and mark our start and finish time.  Pretty organized!

After our 1 km cross country ski race, Kaye also competed in the snow shoe race with Charlie Gould as her guide.  He is the son of Frank Gould, long time supporter of SFL.  He was about 25 years old and this was his first year as a guide.  Really a sweetheart.  The two of them were really into this race for the “fun factor”.  So I helped them out by planting 2 beers at the end of the trail.   They stopped, opened the beers, toasted, had a couple swigs, and finished the race with the beer cans in their hands.  Charlie’s quote “I like the way you think!”

Charlie and Kaye enjoying a beer during their race

Charlie and Kaye close to the finish line
After the races, we stopped at Lewie’s Burgers and Brews for lunch.  I think we are making this a tradition.  We kidnapped Kaye to go with us instead of riding the bus back to the hotel. My sister, Beverly, was back at our room actually sick.  My sister, Janice, came back from Sturgis and we spent the afternoon together doing a little shopping and visiting and letting Beverly get some rest.
Me, Kaye, Heather, Tami. We noticed there were Canadian beers on the wall behind Kaye
Thursday evening was the banquet.  Beverly usually helps take tickets.  But I stepped in, since she was still sick.  My brother, Don, arrived early enough to save 2 tables for the Canadians, guides, and friends.  At the banquet, Miss Wheelchair America gives a presentation.  Every year, the reigning queen attends our event and says it is the highlight of their year.  Samantha Schroth was amazing.  She was 23, had been accepted into veterinarian school, had a dead tree land on her and became a paraplegic.  Now she is planning to become a physician specializing in spinal cord injuries.  We also have awards for outstanding participants and volunteers.  My friend, Tami Petersen, received the Spirit Award (which I received last year).  And Chris Jonas from Canada won the downhill participant award.  He has brought so many friends to the event.  Then trophies are awarded for the races.  All the Canadian participants received a trophy.  Good thing they brought Canadian wine as gifts in their luggage so they would have room to take home their trophies.
Tami Petersen Spirit Award with me

Canadian winners and guides
Kaye's trophy

January 26-27, 2015 Week of Ski for Light

Monday:  At the cross country site, we were paired with our skier for the week, checked out gear for our participant, then started skiing.  This was the third year that I had skied with Kaye Leslie from Toronto.  Neither one of us has been on skis since Ski for Light last year.  So we did a 1km loop before lunch and a 5 km loop after lunch.  We both wondered why they made that 5km loop longer this year :)
Vern, Me and Kaye at Vern's tent and our first Vern's Special (hot chocolate, peppermint schnaps, and Irish cream)

For many years now, SFL has been providing dinner for us at the Saloon #10 bar on Monday nights.  Actually the food is donated by a generous board member, but prepared by SFL volunteers.  This year we had an awesome meal with BBQ ribs and brisket.  After dinner, the Canadians invited several of us to one of their rooms for wine and beer.  My brother, Don Zeller, from Pierre was volunteering as a down hill guide.  So Don, Bev and I decided to join them for awhile.  When we arrived, someone announced “let’s be nice to our sighted friends and turn on the lights.”  It was a fun evening of sharing stories and drinks.

Tuesday:  Kaye spent the morning snowmobiling.  So I didn’t go to the cross country site until lunch time.  My sister and her husband, Janice and Jim Moore, who recently retired, came out the the Hills to check out SFL.  They picked me up at the Holiday Inn in Deadwood and we went to Terry Peak.  They were able to see all the different adaptive skis that we have for physically impaired skiers.  And they could see different ways that visually impaired skiers skied according to their ability: on their own with verbal cues from a guide via helmets with radios, or side by side with a pole held between them, or tethered.  We watched Don guide and had a few photo ops.  Then all of our family members went over to the Cross country site to have lunch.  Don, Beverly, Janice, Jim and I had a fun lunch introducing them to everyone.  After lunch, Bev and Don went back to Terry Peak, Janice and Jim back to their vacation home in Sturgis, and I went skiing with Kaye. 
Chris Jonas from Toronto with me
Bev, Jim, Don, Me Janice at Terry Peak

extended family at Vern's tent: Heather Spencer (family because of red hair), Hannah Shafer, Bev, Vern Shafer (our mother was a Schaefer), Janice, Me, Don
Tuesday night, Janice and Jim came back to Deadwood to join us for dinner.  The family went to Maverick’s.  It is a new restaurant in the Gold Dust casino.  Tami Petersen, Heather and Terry Spencer joined us.  Then we went  to the Bodega for Karaoke (minus Janice, Jim and Don).  The SFLighters really enjoy themselves at karaoke, and many people were dancing along with the singing.  Kaye wanted to sing “O Canada” but they didn’t have it listed as a choice.  So we settled on “O Bla Di, O Bla Da, life goes on.”.  We asked Charlie Gould to join us, since neither one of us were sure we would remember all of the verses, even with the words.  He wasn’t shy and we ended up with a few others joining us.  The rest of the crowd formed a conga line.  I guess it was a hit.

Miss Wheelchair America, Samantha Schroth singing God Bless America with her mom
Mary and Kaye center stage
 Wednesday:  The last 2 days had been beautiful in the 60’s.  Today, a cold front moved in.  The trails were icy, so Kaye and I decided to change our race to the 1 km instead of 5 km.  We made a couple runs today to get our estimated time.  Kaye also went snow shoeing with Charlie Gould.

On Wednesday afternoon, there is a bonfire at the cross country ski site and the down hill crowd joins us.  This year, one of the Canadians, David Hoffman, was guided by Phillip Breland of Deadwood.  Phillip and his wife, Georgette, have been SFL guides since it began 36 years ago, if they were needed.  They also own a store in Deadwood called the Shankar.  Check them out online at Shankar Arts or  Anyway, there were 2 vegetarian Canadians this year.  So the Canadians were invited to Phillip and Georgette’s for a vegetarian dinner.  4 of the 6 wanted to attend.  And I was invited to join them, plus I borrowed Heather’s Yukon to transport them to their cabin outside of Deadwood.  I have known Phillip and Georgette for about 25 years, but have never had the opportunity to see their home, so I was glad I wad able to join them.  Their cabin was built in 1892 and was beautifully restored.  They had a friend visiting from Colorado named Ilene.  Georgette and Ilene spent the day trying out new recipes for us.  We had a total of 9 dishes along with plenty of wine (only one glass for the driver).  It was a WONDERFUL meal.  Another fun evening.

Georgette, David, Amy, Dorothy and Kaye

tasted as good as it looked

Georgette, Ilene, Phillip

January 23-25, 2015 pre Ski for Light

Well, another week of Ski for Light has come and gone.  And I was sick for a week afterwards.  So I finally can catch up on this blog.  This way you will read high lights and not so many details. 

On Friday, I went to the airport to pick up my sister, Beverly, from Oklahoma.  Of course that involved greeting several SFL friends in the process.  Bev and I had 2 guys buying us beer before we left the airport.  We met some of our Canadian friends, helped some onto a shuttle and gave one a ride to the hotel.
Bev with Ken and Ron from Chicago
After getting everyone settled, we met a group of 11 people at Talley’s restaurant for dinner.  My son, Pete, was playing music there from 7-9:00.  Then we all moved across the street to the Alex Johnson Hotel’s pub, Paddy O’Neill’s.  My son was doing a solo gig from 9:00-12:00.  This is also where several Canadian friends were staying.  The place was full of Ski for Lighters and other Rapid City friends.  Did I say today that I love listening to my son sing?

Saturday:  Beverly and I were invited to dinner at our cousin’s home, Tom and Sharon Zeller, to celebrate Tom’s birthday.  Their 2 grown children that live in Rapid City were there, Lysann and Marc.  Also, Tom’s brother, Joe and his wife, Gail were there from Miller, SD.  Tom and Sharon have built a new home, so this was the “last supper” in their home.  We always have lots of laughs with our family.

Then we went back to Paddy O’Neill’s to hear Pete sing again and spend more time with friends.

Sunday:  We repacked our bags to head to Deadwood for the week.  Tami Petersen picked up Beverly and me in time to help with registration at the Mineral Palace in Deadwood.  Bev sells t-shirts, hats, glassware, etc.  I helped sell banquet tickets at the registration table.  It was actually fun because I was able to say hello to so many people. 

That evening, Bev and I had dinner with the Canadians at the Franklin Hotel.  They remodeled the old bar in the basement into a very nice restaurant.  What was Durty Nelly’s is now Legends.  The 5 Canadians were all visually impaired.  Kaye Leslie politely got everyone’s attention and announced  in a British accent “we will now have the reading of the menu!”, which was my privilege.  We were at a round table with a “lazy susan” in the middle.  It was handy with sharing bread or handing out drinks.  But it was also entertaining if Bev or I forgot to tell someone that we moved it :)