Time is a funny thing. It can speed past, and it can drag on. A month can pass in minutes, but a minute can last hours. Where you are, whom you are with, and what you are doing determines how you feel about time. Aboard AfterMath, time mostly speeds by in the blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday that we were writing about the Isle of Palms, but it was well over a month ago now. Time just got away from us; Thanksgiving has come and gone and we have yet to describe what a wonderful holiday we had this year. So, before more time passes, here are the details of how we spent the second half of November 2017.
From the hotel, a view of the pool areas
On November 8th, we took the short trip from Isle of Palms, SC to Charleston. We docked at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina where John was excited to be right near Patriots Point, a naval and maritime museum that is home to the aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown, a destroyer, the USS Laffey, and a submarine, the USS Clamagore. While I was also happy to be so close to a history museum, I was really thrilled to be at a resort that offered pools and a hot tub along with a lovely lobby and porch overlooking the marsh and water.
USS YorktownJohn coming out of the Apollo 8 space capsuleUSS Laffey (right) and USS Yorktown (left)
Our first full day in Charleston, November 9th, was dreary and rainy, so we decided it would be a good day to spend at the museum. First we toured the USS Clamagore and were in awe that 70 people lived in this little tube that stayed under the surface of the water. Commissioned in 1945 and retired in 1975, the submarine served in the Cold War. We felt lucky to be able to see the sub, which is scheduled to be sunk and made into an artificial reef in 2018. Next we climbed aboard the USS Yorktown, and from the time we stepped aboard till the time we got off we continued to climb, and climb, and climb. There are countless ladders and steep stairways on this ship, but I found it interesting, and, not surprisingly, John found it fascinating. The USS Yorktown was the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the US Navy. It was commissioned in 1943 and retired in 1970. It participated in World War II, in the Vietnam War, and was the recovery ship for the Apollo 8 capsule. Finally we boarded the USS Laffey, the most decorated World War II destroyer in existence.
Lovely historic houses and scenes around Charleston
Back at the marina, our view of the ships.Charleston at sunset from AfterMath
The next day, we took the shuttle from the resort into the historic district in Charleston. There we followed our tradition of taking a guided tour around town to catch up on the history of the area and places we wanted to visit. After the tour and lunch, we set off on foot and spent a few hours exploring the beautiful buildings and scenes for which Charleston is so famous.
Off to “Smoke on the Harbor”
Friday night and Saturday brought a barbeque competition, Smoke on the Harbor, to the resort. After enjoying our time at Smoke on the Water in Washington, NC so much, we didn’t want to miss this event, so we remained at the marina for another night. Here, Friday night was the chicken wing competition, and Saturday competitors cooked chicken, beef brisket, and pork. We had a wonderful time sampling all of the foods and seeing the vendors. It was different than our experience in Washington, and no whole pigs were cooked this time, but it was a great way to spend a weekend.
Leaving Charleston by boat
Finally, on November 12th, it was time to leave Charleston and head south. We anchored in Watts Creek for the night and then traveled to Beaufort, SC for a couple of nights before going to Windmill Harbor Marina in Hilton Head on the 16th. Windmill Harbor is an interesting marina because it is completely contained in a neighborhood of lovely homes, which somehow reminded me of our home in the Inlets in Bradenton, FL. To enter, boaters pass through a lock, and then dock just a few feet away from one of the houses in the development.
I have always loved the shrimp boats and the birds that flock around them
The next few nights were spent at anchor in Vernon, GA and near Cumberland Island, GA, but finally on the 20th we arrived in St. Mary’s, GA, for a stay that was on John’s bucket list for a long time. St. Mary’s is a lovely little town that is known for its hospitality, especially at Thanksgiving. Seventeen years ago, a group of sailors was stranded at St. Mary’s on Thanksgiving due to weather. The people of the town asked a local restaurant that was to be closed for the holiday if they could use the kitchen to serve the sailors dinner. Turkey and ham were provided, and the sailors all brought something to share with the others. That day a tradition was born, and every year attendance grew until often there a few hundred boaters at dinner. Now, happy hours occur all week long, and an oyster roast takes place on the night before Thanksgiving. This year, however, hurricane Irma happened. Irma wiped out all of the docks and all of the boats at St. Mary’s and it looked like the annual dinner would have to be cancelled. Somehow, though, the town pulled together and made it all happen.
St. Mary’s, GAThanksgiving Day started with rain, but these gentlemen still visited each boat in St. Mary’s anchorage and delivered Bloody MarysFun with the family!This gentleman was in the spirit!Carter scored big with a drumstick!Check out the clock. It does not tell time, but it tells tides!
Because we were so close to Jacksonville, FL at this point, and wanted to spend Thanksgiving with Kelly, Craig, and family, I checked with the coordinator of the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Dinner and asked if it would be ok to have our family join us. The response was immediate and positive. Our daughter and family were more than welcome. Each set of participants was asked to bring a dish to serve 8 – 10 people for each two guests in the group, and everyone was encouraged to bring dessert if they could. Kelly and the family arrived armed with green bean casserole, squash casserole, and a huge apple pie, while John and I brought mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, and a pumpkin pie. Everyone gathered at the restaurant for a 1 o’clock dinner and, as you can imagine, there was more food than anyone could possibly eat. It was a wonderful holiday, full of new friends, family, and great food.
Kirby and Michaela are best of buddies.For some reason, these birds started following us. Michaela and I had a great time feeding and filming them. Kirby had fun too.
We were especially lucky this year, because after our huge feast, and when Kelly, Craig, Carter, and Madison left to go home, we were able to keep Michaela with us on AfterMath. It was so much fun to have her aboard, and the following day we took her with us to our next destination, where we met Kelly and the other two children for a weekend of fun at Jekyll Island.
While Jekyll Island is north of St. Mary’s, we decided it would be a fun place to go with the children. Craig was working, but Kelly could drive there with Carter and Madison, we would then have a car to get around, and, although we didn’t have plans at first, we knew there would be a lot for everyone to do. Soon Kelly discovered that a very special festival was taking place in town. Hurricane Irma had caused problems on the island, just as she had in St. Mary’s, and the annual Shrimp and Grits festival had been cancelled. As this is a big event for Jekyll Island, the cancellation was a disappointment for everyone who lives there. However, someone came up with the bright idea to, just this year, combine the Shrimp and Grits festival with the Christmas festival and to have a “Merry Shrimpmas” weekend. So, our weekend turned into a busy one!
At Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, GAOn the way back we stopped to check out the lights.
On Friday, after everyone arrived, we took a ride to the eerie and beautiful Driftwood Beach. Here, huge trees lie on the beach, all worn by the sea and just inviting children and adults to climb on them. Puddles abound, forming reflecting mirrors in the sand, and tremendous root systems lie exposed looking like lace in the air. And, luckily, we were there to experience the golden light of sunset lighting the trees in a magical way while three of my treasured grandchildren posed happily for me. It was a photographer’s dream come true, and a Nana’s too.
Sledding Georgia style.Madison writing to Santa
The next morning we all took off on a walk to the Merry Shrimpmas festival. As soon as we arrived we found the carousel and the snow hill for sliding. Madison took off for the hill as only a brave and confidant four year old can. She walked right up, took a saucer, climbed the hill, and slid right down. After that she preferred the carousel. Carter and Michaela tried too, but only Michaela really loved the experience. Soon she had John and flip-flopped Kelly sliding down along with her. After living most of our lives in Connecticut, this was a strange event, but one everyone will long remember. The rest of the festival was a joy. Santa was there, of course, and Madison wrote him a letter, everyone got their faces painted, bands played, vendors were visited, a dog Frisbee demonstration was attended and, of course, lunch was eaten! John and I had to have shrimp and grits, but the others feasted on pizza or hot dogs.
When everyone was sure they had seen everything they needed to see at the festival, we made our way to the turtle rescue center nearby. We watched the turtles being fed and listened to the program before wearily walking back to AfterMath. The plan had been to return to the festival for the tree lighting ceremony and the fireworks, but everyone was dragging and chose to just watch the fireworks from the bow of the boat that night.
So, our time flew by. We loved being together with our family again. We hadn’t seen them since July and we treasured every minute. It was easier to say goodbye when they left on Sunday because we were so very close to Florida, and particularly to Jacksonville where they live. John and I were to set out on our own again for a few days, but knowing we would be nearby was a great feeling.
How lucky we are to live this life. We know we are privileged to be able to do so. Who knows what is to come in our future, but we know we will always be happy that we have lived this adventure. We love spending time with our family and friends, we love traveling, we love being spontaneous, and we love taking our time when we feel like it. It’s a bit of a dream world for us, and we have learned to live our dream well. So for now, time is flying, and all is well with us.