We Just Couldn’t Leave Washingon, NC (October 16 – October 22, 2017)

We Just Couldn’t Leave Washingon, NC (October 16 – October 22, 2017)

Sometimes, when cruising, you find a place that is just tough to leave. Everything is just right. The docks are great, the people friendly, there are places to walk and places to sit, you can find restaurants nearby or close enough to dinghy to, there is a lot of local color, there might even be a dog park for a little guy to run and romp within walking distance. We found that kind of spot in Washington, NC.

We arrived in Washington on Monday, October 16th and planned to spend two nights at the free docks there. However, the weather was pretty cool and we thought we might need heat. As there is no electricity provided at the free docks, we instead called the marina and settled in. It didn’t take long until we discovered how wonderful Washington is.

Washington, NC is the first city named after George Washington in the United States. It lies 26 miles up the Pamlico River and is often called Little Washington to distinguish it from Washington, DC. In this city, many buildings date back to the Civil War. The river is an estuary, providing breeding grounds for countless fish and birds. The town has built a beautiful park along the waterfront that always seems to have people walking or jogging, and I have noticed that everyone that passes by says hello. Sit on a bench or a swing in the park and you will be joined by someone who just wants to chat a while. This is a friendly place for sure.

IMG_0653The waterfront here is bordered by a wonderful walkway.IMG_0663One of the many historic old buildings in town.IMG_0669I spent plenty of time swinging on this swing.IMG_0671Downtown in Washington, NCIMG_0679There were many of these lanes between buildings in the downtown area.IMG_0682The Turnage was once a vaudeville theater.  It has now been restored and is used for shows, jam sessions, and art displays.IMG_0683The old grist mill in townIMG_0688Here, crabs are king.IMG_0689IMG_0691IMG_0657IMG_0696IMG_0697The front of the grist mill.  The building is now used for a rowing club.IMG_0710The railroad bridge is usually open, but once a day or so a train goes through and the bridge tender walks out to this shack to close it.IMG_0711Washington’s waterfront.IMG_0713IMG_0735The light green boat in the foreground is Jimmy Buffett’s new boat.  It was built here in Washington and will be sent elsewhere to get its mast.  I love that AfterMath is in the same image as Jimmy Buffett’s boat.IMG_0705Sunset from the docks

After arriving we were given a schedule of events for the area and we found that the weekend of October 20th and 21st was “Smoke On the Water”, a barbecue and chili competition as well as a fun festival for all. As it seems we often just miss events, and as we were already falling in love with Washington, we decided to extend our visit until Sunday the 22nd. This gave us time to walk around town and to visit the shops, to take the free boat ride offered by the “Estuarium”, a museum that explains the importance of an estuary, to see Jimmy Buffett’s new boat that is being built here, to attend a Blue Grass jam session in the historic theater, and to take Kirby to a dog park, all before the big weekend began.

IMG_0753That’s Scott, David, and Clint of the Lazy Dayz team.  They were so much fun to talk to and so wonderful about explaining everything there was to know about barbecues.IMG_0754IMG_0756These guys were just having the best time ever.  You had to smile the whole time you talked to them.IMG_0762IMG_0763

Friday the 19th arrived, and with it so did about 30 different barbecue trucks and trailers. They lined up and down the blocked off street right near the town docks and just a few steps from AfterMath. The day started out with everyone getting set up and readying their grills. At 9:00 PM the pigs were delivered to the participants and John and I decided to go take a look. While at first the sight of the carcasses was surprising, watching the men and women at work was fascinating. Everyone was willing to talk to us and to explain exactly what they were doing, whether or not they thought their pig was of good quality (only one woman was not impressed), and what the judges would be looking for. For example, if the pig had any hole in the carcass, one team explained that they would suture it up, the skin would “heal” during cooking and then the sutures would be removed before the judges saw the finished product. We learned there are propane grills and wood and/or charcoal cookers, and they would be judged separately. This was serious business to all of the teams, but they were all so nice taking the time to explain everything to us and to answer every one of our questions. The cooking began at about 11:00 PM and soon we could smell the aroma of barbecue on AfterMath. It was to continue all night. We were told that the propane grillers might be able to catch a couple hours of sleep, but the charcoal/wood grillers would have to stay up all night watching the smoker.

IMG_0766The Lazy Dayz team’s completed product.IMG_0767The first team to be judged.IMG_0768IMG_0777Some of the setups.IMG_0810IMG_0813

At 8:00 AM the judging was to begin. John and I both wanted to see the pigs on the grill before the judges got to them, so we headed up a couple of minutes early. We had spent quite a bit of time talking to one team, the Lazy Dayz, made up of David, Scott, and Clint, so we of course rushed over to see our new friends’ pig before the judges started. The grills were now spotless, four meat thermometers were placed in the pig so the judges could immediately see the cooked temperature, vinegar based sauce, traditional for Eastern North Carolina, was set out for dipping, and the participants were cleaned up and ready. Each tent was required to have four place settings of plates, napkins, and water available, and some took those requirements to the next step using cute dishes or mugs, and sometimes a fancy dessert on the plate for the judges to eat if they liked, or they placed a few candies or flowers around to make the area appealing and attractive.

IMG_0771The judges at the first tent.IMG_0772IMG_0773That is some delicious meat!IMG_0775IMG_0787190 degrees was considered the perfect temperatureIMG_0804IMG_0805IMG_0807These guys asked if I wanted to take their picture.  Of course!! Willing subjects!IMG_0815

Soon a crowd of judges, all in bib aprons approached the first tent, complete with clipboards in their hands. In about three minutes, they checked both sides of each pig, tore it apart with their gloved hands, tasted the meat and the skin, dunked pieces in barbecue sauce and tried the meat again, had a quick discussion with each other, filled out their score sheets, and moved on to the next team. The great part was, the people watching the judges could sneak in and take a little sample of the meat and the skin too! Until then, neither John nor I had ever tasted pork so tender and delicious, and the skin was crispy, salty, and absolutely amazing.

The judges quickly started on the next pig and first made their way through all of the propane cooked ones. I usually hurried to the next tent before the judges got there so I could get a picture the pig before it was torn to pieces, but I did stay by the Lazy Dayz pig long enough to see that soon after the judges left each tent, a golf cart came by to pick up the meat and place it in a thermal cooler to keep it warm. Then, because this whole event is a fund raiser, all of the meat was taken to a central tent where it was shredded and combined together to be used to make pulled pork sandwiches and to be sold by the pound a little later in the day.

IMG_0820The judges at a charcoal cooked pig.  Notice how much darker the color is.

After completing the propane grills, the judges made their way to the charcoal/wood grills. Here the pigs were a darker color and, even though I was pretty sure there could be no better tasting meat than I had already tried, I proved myself wrong. These pigs were so delicious it was almost unbelievable. After trying two or three tastes there, I was full and had to stop, but it was such a fun experience and I was so happy we decided to stay for the event.

IMG_0842David, Scott, and Clint with their trophy.IMG_0844

Later in the day we made our way to the main tent and for $5 we were served a huge pulled pork sandwich and a soft drink. We were directed to the next table to put sauce and slaw on our meat, which, of course, we did. This was a real Eastern North Carolina barbecue, and it was great.  On our way back from lunch we found David, Scott, and Clint.  We were thrilled to hear they earned second place in the competition, but Clint told us that second place was, “First loser”!  They apparently lost first place by just 4 points out of about 1300 points total.  Still pretty good in our book!

IMG_0827More fun during the day.IMG_0829IMG_0830IMG_0834IMG_0837IMG_9947Skydiving into water.IMG_9956IMG_9965IMG_9980IMG_9988

The day was not complete, though, at 3:00 there was a sky diving into the water demonstration, and during the day there were events for children, a car show, musicians playing, vendors selling fair type food and goods, and a fire engine pull where teams pulled a fire engine with a rope down the street. Later, around 5:00 we attended a cookout on our dock where one boater smoked salmon and pork and everyone brought a dish to share.

So, tomorrow, on Sunday the 22nd we will leave Washington, NC, the little town we expected to stay in for only two nights, but just couldn’t leave. We were told that this town was ranked as one of the “coolest towns in America” and we can see why. We met boaters who expected to stay here a few weeks or a few months and haven’t left yet. This is small town America at its best. No one seems to be in a rush, everyone has a kind word, well, maybe a lot of kind words! People stroll with their dogs, they swing in the big, welcoming white swings overlooking the water, they are always out putting out painted rocks in the park, they fish from the dock, they sit down to chat awhile even if they have never met you before, and they make everyone feel welcome. People seem happy and content and love living in this small town. We thank them for sharing their home with us and wish them good lives, peaceful days, and much happiness in this very cool town on North Carolina’s Inner Banks.   The lesson we take from a small place like this is to enjoy each day, find the simple pleasures, talk to someone new daily, and know that there is much to discover out there if you just look for it. And never let life pass you by.

Moving Along!  From Hampton, VA to Bath, NC (October 7 – October 15, 2017)

Moving Along! From Hampton, VA to Bath, NC (October 7 – October 15, 2017)

Finally the weather has seemed to turn the corner; the hurricane season has lost its steam and this means that AfterMath and crew are no longer bound to finding hurricane holes. Since leaving York River Yacht Haven we have been busy exploring ports that we have missed in the past. It’s nice to feel free of storms again, and to be on the move.

IMG_0520Hampton Town Docks with the Air and Space Museum in the backgroundIMG_0524Just a part of Tom’s vegetable garden for the boaters.IMG_0529The Apollo 12 space capsule inside the Air and Space Museum.IMG_0532More of the displays in the museum.IMG_0548IMG_0554IMG_0562John got to sit in the cockpit of an airliner.IMG_0570It’s almost Halloween and the carousel seems to be a bit haunted!IMG_0571

IMG_9921The view from our bow at night.

On October 7th, we left our dock and headed for Hampton, VA. Hampton is a favorite for a lot of boaters. The docks are right downtown and are surrounded by interesting sights: it is the home of Hampton College, and there is a pretty waterfront, an air and space museum, an IMAX theater, an antique carousel, and a new brewery. All are within a short walk of the marina. One of the fun facts about the marina is that the dock master, Tom, grows a vegetable garden in pots right outside the office. Boaters are encouraged to pick some vegetables for their own use. It’s a nice touch, especially when fresh veggies are a little hard to come by at docks. Of course, John could not pass up the air and space museum, and, although I always expect to be bored in this type of venue, I was fascinated too. We also saw a wonderful IMAX movie entitled Dream Big while we were there. It took us two nights in Hampton to be able to enjoy all there was to see and do.

IMG_0579Mermaids abound in Norfolk, VA.  Here is one with AfterMath in the background.IMG_0580IMG_0583IMG_0585The battleship, Wisconsin, docked and on display in NorfolkIMG_0590All these long walks make a guy thirsty!IMG_0591Sights at the marinaIMG_0599IMG_0601IMG_0603IMG_0624The ferry between Norfolk and PortsmouthIMG_0609Walking around Portsmouth, VAIMG_0610IMG_0617IMG_0618IMG_0623There are a lot of LOVE signs around Virginia.  Remember their slogan, “Virginia is for lovers”.

After leaving Hampton we traveled the short trip to Norfolk, VA. Norfolk is always fun to travel, as the river is busy with all sorts of boat traffic: barges, tugs, sport craft, sailing schooners, trawlers, Navy ships, and luxury yachts. Our original plan was to just stay for one night, but Jeff’s friend, Ken Flowers, a VP for Moran, a tug boat company, was able to come and visit with us the following morning and we decided to take an extra day to enjoy his company and to explore Norfolk. Another adventure while docked in Norfolk was to board the paddlewheel ferry that transports visitors to nearby Portsmouth, VA.

IMG_0628There is something fascinating about the cranes around Norfolk.  They are so colorful and so huge.IMG_0630Following Allegro under the bridge.IMG_0633Entering the lock.  This lock dropped us only about 8 inches.  We were so surprised when it opened again to let us out.IMG_0636IMG_0639Boats waiting for a bridge to open while heading south along the ICW IMG_0642As small as the river is in Coinjock, sometimes huge barges pass through.  

Bright and early on October 11th, we left Norfolk, accompanied by a very nice couple we met there, Basil and Martina on Allegro, and made our way, finally, back to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Although the weather was a bit dreary, it felt so good to be back on that familiar waterway with its calm waters and scenic views. As we traveled to our last stop in Virginia, the Atlantic Yacht Basin, it became pretty apparent that the snowbirds are now flocking south. The next morning we left for Coinjock, NC; the marina there was jam packed with transient boats and we were only inches away from those in front of and behind us. Everyone was in good spirits, though; we met three other couples heading south and we all had dinner together in the marina’s restaurant. Because the weather was windy and rainy, and the next day we needed to cross the sometimes-uncomfortable Albemarle Sound, we stayed an extra night in Coinjock and enjoyed a relaxing day aboard.

IMG_0643Historic homes in Bath, NCIMG_0646IMG_0647The lovely park with the free dock in BathIMG_0649

October 15th we departed from the ICW to head up the Pamlico River to Bath, the oldest town in North Carolina. A main port in the mid 1700’s, and once the residence of the famous pirate, Blackbeard, it now is home to a few hundred residents. There is a free dock there as is often the case in North Carolina towns, but, sadly, it was a little small for AfterMath. We anchored, though, and took the dinghy to walk around the very small historic district there.

Our next stop was another 12 miles farther up the Pamlico River, in Washington, NC, but, as we haven’t left there yet, I will leave that story to the next post in a couple of days. Meanwhile, we have been enjoying picture perfect weather for the past week, warm sunny days, cool and comfortable nights. We love being back on the ICW and we love the fact that we are heading south toward the warmth and our goal of endless summer. Everywhere we go now we meet new people, we enjoy the difference in each states’ uniqueness, and we treasure our life on AfterMath.

A Different Type of Life on AfterMath (September 23 – October 6, 2017)

A Different Type of Life on AfterMath (September 23 – October 6, 2017)

Waiting, watching storms, traveling north to an important anniversary party, visiting Jeff and Sarah and the boys, getting projects done, and finally getting ready to go. This is how the last couple of weeks have been spent. It hasn’t been our normal type of life aboard.  We haven’t left York River Yacht Haven Marina yet, but now, it is time to move on out of Virginia. We have loved our months on the Chesapeake, but so much of it was spent watching those horrible storms in the south, and we are glad to be able to be on the move again.  Finally.

IMG_0361Jack and Jean celebrating 50 years of marriage.IMG_0336A very rare picture of me with my brothers and everyone’s spouses!  Left to right, Jean, Jack, Gary, Diane, John, and me.  Between us we represent almost 140 years of marriage!

It was so great to see all of these people!

We stayed put while we carefully watched Jose’s antics as he spun in circles and turned in and out of hurricane status, but then it was time for us to head to Catskill, NY for my brother, Jack’s, and sister-in-law, Jean’s, 50th anniversary party. We rented a car for the road trip, and while there, truly enjoyed seeing relatives and friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a very long time. It was a wonderful celebration given by their daughters, Cheryl and Karen and their families. It was also fun to return to Catskill by car, as we had enjoyed our time there on AfterMath before and after our journey into Canada over two years ago.

IMG_0421Ford has just learned to sit up and he is proud to show off his skills.IMG_0442IMG_0414Rush, at 3, is so silly and so adorable.  He was NOT going to give me a serious pose!IMG_0484Walter will be 6 next month and he is so grown up!

IMG_4467Walter bravely holds the bag to transport the crabs back to the house.  Rush keeps watch.IMG_4470IMG_4471

On the way home from New York, we made an overnight stop at Jeff and Sarah’s house to spend some time with them and with Walter, Rush, and Ford. As always, the children entertained us, and we loved seeing them. The kids and I took a walk down to the dock with Jeff; there he pulled out the two crab pots that we dropped in back in July.   They contained four crabs that Jeff cooked up and served as a great appetizer before dinner. Apparently, there are usually crabs in the pots now, but this was the first time any were caught while we were around!

IMG_0489Some scenes around the York River Yacht Haven MarinaIMG_0490IMG_0493IMG_0496IMG_0497-EditIMG_0503This little guy fell asleep on a neighboring boat one day. 

IMG_0511Out for a dinghy ride near the marinaIMG_0513IMG_0516

We returned to AfterMath on Monday and planned to take a day or two to catch up on a few chores. After a day we found that, according to weather sources, yet another storm was brewing, this time in the Gulf of Mexico. Because our dock was paid up for a whole month, it seemed like a good idea to take a couple more days to find out what was going on with the newest storm, Nate. While John spent most of his time in the engine room, I re-provisioned the boat, worked on editing photos, replaced a screen in one of the doors, and took care of odd items that tend to mount up. We also spent some time off the boat visiting with others from the marina, and enjoying the beautiful weather. The only disappointment is that the pool is now closed for the season.

So, tomorrow we will be underway. We will start our journey south again, seeing towns and islands that we have missed on our trips up and down the ICW and, of course, trying to stay in warm weather. The leaves were already changing in New York, and, as pretty as they are, it made me anxious to get to those warm climates where it is an endless summer. We especially look forward to our time with Kelly and family and Jason and family. It’s been too long since we’ve seen them! Nevertheless, our adventure is a good one; each day is different, each location unique. We find it hard to believe that this journey we have chosen for ourselves is most likely more than half over already. But the truth is, no matter where we are, the life we are leading now will be part of us forever, and we will be always be thankful for it.