Sunday, July 28, 2013

Portsmouth to Solomans - Mundane motoring

Day 1 - We left Portsmouth with a send off from LT, Sue and John which was nice, felt odd but exciting to be leaving after such a long time in the marina and a relief that the first hurdle was over as the propeller successfully went into reverse. Annoyingly there was no wind so we were motoring, there were a few tugs motoring up and down the channel but life was pretty quiet.

John, Sue and LT

As we rounded the top of Norfolk the channel runs parallel to the naval base, there were 2 boats manoeuvring to  leave the base but there were still over 20 ships in the base of which 4 were aircraft carriers, it was all very impressive.  We took a few photos but were conscious that there were lots of look out towers lined with machine guns and we were often being watched so hopefully they did not mind us taking a few snaps.

We continued our tedious motoring north and into the main Chesapeake Bay. But our day brightened up with the site of bottled nosed dolphins, they didn't come and play but there were various small groups scattered around.  We decided to keep our first day back at sea short and headed into Back River to anchor, as we turned our air display began. At the head of the river is Langley military base and around 10 sets of 2 fighter planes took of from the base right over us, wow it was loud but if was an amazing spectacle.  We anchored mid afternoon and the planes continued until late afternoon, at least it wouldn't keep us awake.

The plane is up there just left of the mast

Two planes coming into land
As we sat in the cockpit for dinner we were joined by the dolphins, the swam up and down the river obviously fishing, it was a nice end to our first day back.

Day 2 - Up and out with the planes next morning, at least they did not start at sunrise. We were soon joined by the dolphins but unfortunately not the wind! Also frustrating for us is the Bay is very shallow so in the lower bay it is miles wide you cannot see east and west shores at the same time so almost like being at sea but the depth  a few miles off shore is less that 5 metres deep with various sandbanks so we have to motor for miles off the shore to the middle of the bay before we can head north. So there is little to see as you are too far from the shore and it adds hours to journey. 

Attempting to sail with sail up but motor on
 Day 2 was 38 miles of hot, dull, bug infested motoring before we reached Little Creek. It was very pretty surrounded by private houses, we had a peaceful night although we were rocked awake by the fishing boats!

Dragon Fly makes himself at home

Pretty sunset to finish off an otherwise dull day
The next day was much the same as the last motoring, hot and bugs but at least a shorter day of only 15 miles before we anchored off Wicomico River (what a great name). Anchorage was small and peaceful, very idyllic until wind changed and all we could smell was the fish oil factory! We were also getting sick of the heat as both of us were sleeping in Saloon as our bed in the stern cabin was just too hot.

Our neighbours the Crab House - not were the smell was coming from

One of the monster properties along the shoreline

Sun just up and passing the fishing boat off the fish oil factory
Up with the fishermen and more motoring this time 37 miles to Soloman Island and finally an opportunity to get off the boat! As we entered the harbour it was great to see so many other sailing boats, the shores were lined with small marinas.  We headed up the Creek and found the anchorage and lucky for us it was empty :) so we our pick of prime location.

Magnum happily at anchor
Next day we were itching to get off the boat and off we headed into the village , which us really one small street along a spit of land with the Putuxent River one side and Back Creek (yes another one!) the other.

Paxuxent River

Amanda silly hat!

Back creek
Here we stopped for 3 days taking it easy as still 35+ degrees C. Pretty place, main Street with a few shops and restaurants. Can recommend the Key Lime pie at Lotus Kitchen and we also had a delicious anniversary meal at CD Cafe, our 3rd anniversary had been earlier in the week and Amanda's generous parents sent money to treat ourselves :)  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Portsmouth - Final fun and goodbyes

The remainder of our time in Portsmouth was really spent trying to get everything fixed on Magnum and attempting to keep cool.  Mark managed to fix our furling gear on the head sail, big relief and did it him self by ordering all the parts online (mainly from Amazon!). we have new guardrails, again Mark ordered the wire and tool to complete this and another really important fix before moving on was our DuoGen windgenerator, new parts from UK and all fixed.

We had our first experience of a Baseball Game, we were to see the Norfolk Tides play and now I have forgotten who they played! It was a great game, the day before 4th of July so it was really busy with families.  We caught the ferry across from Norfolk and were sat quite high up in the stand but we could see fine and the atmosphere was great which was probably made better by the fact that Norfolk were thrashing the other team.  

Tides pitching

Entertainment between innings with people in sandwich suits it was a race!
The weather was high 30’s during this time without a decent fan the boat was unbearably hot! So most nights were spent enjoying cocktails with our neighbours on D dock, we were so lucky to have met such lovely people and really been welcomed to the US even on July 4th when we shared a BBQ and “Bushwakers”  - great cocktail with Baileys, Deserano, Rum and Kahlua.  .

Our final send of night was topped off with vodka jelly shooters, it was sad to say goodbye to such great people

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Washington DC - No more museums

Before leaving the mountains we complete the drive so we have driven the 105 miles of the Skyline drive plus close to 300 miles we drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway, what a stunning drive.

Now onto Route 66 – unfortunately this is not the Route 66!  And onto Alexandria which is a suburb to the south of Washington where we were staying for 3 days.  To make the most of the time, we quickly checked in and then were on the metro into DC. We headed to the Mall and a great view of Capitol Hill,, it was starting to feel like we were in a film!  

The Mall is lined with the Smithsonian museums which are mostly free to visit – so first stop is the Air and Space Museum, wow it was busy! Not surprising as it is the summer and we are now not used to busy!  But fantastic place to visit with some amazing old planes from WWI, WWII, plus Amelia Earhart plane (what an interesting lady), lots of artefacts from the US Space programme, it was quite overwhelming with all the people!

Amelia Earhart's place

US space programme

Mark having a lovely day out

Apollo 11 moon landing - encased in perspex so looks a little strange
 From here we headed along the Mall to see the Whitehouse and then onto the WWII war memorial

He wasn't at home at the time so no invitation for afternoon tea

WWII memorial

Amanda at WWII memorial with ? in distance
Day 1, only the afternoon and we had already walked miles! Glad to be on metro and back to hotel within 25 minutes and enjoying pizza in 30mins!

Day 2 of sight seeing marathon, first along Pennsylvania Avenue and bagel for breakfast outside the FBI building, that’s a first!

Then onto the Natural History museum, we love the Natural History museum in England so we had high hopes and it didn’t disappoint but the volume of people was extraordinary and as the morning went on it became increasingly crowded.  After seeing the film Night at the Museum we were on the look out for quite a few of the characters! Although Mark was disappointed that we never found Pocahontas.  The Mammals, Oceans and Dinosaur areas are really good along with the Egyptians with lots of freaky mummies.

Easter Island  - "Dum Dum"

Elephant in entrance hall

Mammoth skeleton

Amazing building but look at all the people!!

The day wasn't over and the next stop was Museum of Modern Art, Mark was particularly pleased to be dragged around a ballet costume exhibition, not as great as the Tate Modern in the UK but still worth a visit. Then onto have a lay in the park, actually the sculpture garden which was nice.

Giant bunny :) although probably a a hare

Day 3 started with torrential rain but we head off in shorts with umbrella in hand, first stop was Holocaust Memorial museum which we thought we would have a quick look around, we were there for hours, what an amazing exhibition.  It is free entry and when you arrive it is not very clear but you then have to get additional tickets for the main exhibition which provide timed slots to limit the people.  The main exhibition is unbelievable, the graphic nature of the photos and video is shocking and there is a vast amount of information.  The only difficulty is volume of people so you almost follow a stream of people from one point to another but there is so much to read and absorb you are in there for hours, it is exhausting.  No photos as they were not allowed in the museum, well worth a visit but prepared to be shocked.

Next stop the America History Museum, again over flowing with people, we visited exhibitions on America at War from Independence, through Civil onto WWII, Vietnam and through to present day all very interesting but we were museumed out!

We had read that Washington sites at night are worth a visit so after a few hours rest at the hotel we drove into the City, it was nice to see the Capitol building, Whitehouse and the memorials all lit up, it was great to have a few less people around but still quite a few people doing the same as us.

Mark without the crowds at Capitol Hill

Amanda without the crowds at Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill at dusk

Night night Mr President

Jefferson memorial

Admiring the Jefferson memorial from afar

Night night Capitol building
The next day we had a quick look around Alexandria, really pretty town, expect it is full of commuters and then we were happy to be getting back to Magnum for a rest!