JANUARY---Return From the Land of North Face Parkas and Ugg Snowboots to Tank Tops and Flip Flops

Celebrated New Years in Grand Rapids with friends, Al and Laurie Forte. The four of us stayed up to welcome in 2009 (after short naps in front of the television). We normally would have gone straight to bed once midnight arrived but an outlandish stunt underway in Las Vegas caught our attention. Robbie Maddison, a thrill seeker on a motorcycle, launched himself to the top of the nearly 100 foot tall Arc de Triomphe replica at the Paris hotel, turned around and jumped right back off, freefalling nearly 50 feet before landing on another specially prepared ramp. This looked like something James Bond would do to escape the bad guys. Amazingly, he only had an injury to his thumb and forefinger---I thought he'd be killed on live TV.

New Years Day is a big day for football and food. Watched the Capital One Bowl where the Spartans from Michigan State University fell to Georgia. Al and Laurie are big, big Spartan fans so they were disappointed in the outcome. Carl and I were also bummed---some 14 weeks before this game, Carl started voting on-line for the best Capital One Mascot. Thundar, the mascot from North Dakota State University (our alma mater), was in the competition. Thundar made it to the semi-finals but lost in the finals to Cy from Iowa State. All afternoon we ate---shrimp, meatballs, ham sandwiches and various sides.

Carl has his third lithotripsy the next day. We spent the night with Al and Laurie, woke up at O' dark-thirty to drive to Muskegon in heavy snow. Out-patient surgery was not very busy so Carl had all the care and attention a person could ask for. We were confident that this procedure should "do the trick". This was confirmed a week later when Carl had a KUB x-ray showing a totally clear right kidney. No medical reason to keep us in Michigan any longer.

Drove down to Kalamazoo on Saturday (01/03) to join friends for dinner at Sue and Jack Johnston's. The menu was Italian. Guests at Jack and Sue's (besides us): Ann & Jim Early; Ron & Jackie Baden; and Laura & Mark Eiler. The dinner was wonderful. Enjoyed catching up with everyone since I last summer when we were together. Rather than drive all the way back to our cottage, we stayed overnight with Ron and Jackie. The next morning, it was slick, slick, slick having rained and then the temperatures dropped below freezing. We just drove slowly.

The following three pictures were taken during cocktail hour and last minute food preparation time. I only have pictures of the "girls"--guess the guys were sitting in the living room talking.

By January 7, Carl finally started feeling well enough to hike. Hiked every day until we closed the cottage. Alternated routes each day both routes took an hour to walk--my favorite route was through the woods behind our cottage while Carl's favorite route was along the Lake Michigan beach. To keep ourselves entertained--we also watched a DVD movie every night (sometimes two of them) and surfed the internet.

The next three pictures were taken on hikes.  The first picture is Carl in the forest. The second picture is Carl on the beach--notice all the ice and snow on the beach. The last picture is me---snow tanning!

Had dinner at Ken and Sharon's new cottage near Ludington on Saturday, January 10.  Ken and Sharon were coming up from Grand Rapids and running late so Paul, Chris, Carl and I opened the cottage for Ken and Sharon--started the furnace and the fireplace to warm the cottage up. Ken and Sharon arrived about 30 minutes later. Enjoyed a great winter dinner, lots of good wine and plenty of conversation.

Carl started making arrangements to return to Trinidad--looking for the cheapest flights, rental cars, arranging for a taxi pick-up in Trinidad, etc. Because my routine six-month appointments were scheduled the week of  January 19, we decided to return to Trinidad on different dates. Carl purchased tickets for him to leave on 1/17 and for me to leave on 1/24. Also made reservations for rental cars for both of us.

Carl winterized the cottage on January 15. While he drained the water system and blew air through all the pipes, I drove to Pentwater to the laundromat to wash linens and towels. Then drove to Grand Rapids where we stayed with Al and Laurie until we left for Trinidad. Thursday night, Al and Laurie had evening commitments so Carl and I went out for dinner and then watched TV until the Forte's came home. Friday, Al, Carl and I went to see "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE" which all three of us enjoyed. Friday night we were all invited over to Craig and Kim Hughs for "eats" before their son, Brandon's, hokey game. Carl skipped the hockey game because he was leaving for Detroit around 5AM Saturday so he wanted to get to bed early. Brandon's team won.

Carl left for Detroit a little earlier than planned--we were both awake so why not get going? He called around 8 AM to let me know that he already returned the rental car and was in the terminal. Carl visited with friends, Jon and Jill (SIRIUS) during his layover in Fort Lauderdale. His flight from Fort Lauderdale to Trinidad was on time with no problems. The only glitch he ran into during the return trip was having to knock on the Custom's Office door at Chaguaramus for 20-30 minutes waiting for them to answer so he could complete signing back onto "the vessel".

The Saturday Carl was returning to Trinidad, I had the opportunity to attend a Michigan State University basketball game with Al and Laurie---BIG TEN BASKETBALL. Before the game started, there was a ceremony to retire Morris Peterson's jersey number. Morris Peterson still plays for the NBA. His nickname at MSU is MO PETE. MO PETE but he came off as a very nice person who was so grateful to his parents, family and MSU. Anyway, the Spartans won the game continuing their long winning streak. After the game, Al, Laurie, Jamie (their daughter who is a freshman at MSU) and I went out for sushi at Jamie's favorite restaurant. The place was buzzing. Had a great time.

The following pictures were taken on Basketball Saturday. The first picture is the teams warming up, the second picture was taken during Morris Peterson's ceremony to retire his number and the last picture is "sushi for four".

On Tuesday, January 20 I had the opportunity to watch Obama's Inauguration Ceremony.  For me, the highlight was watching the actual oath.  Since I was out of the country for the campaign I didn't hear Obama deliver a speech (although I had read the text for his victory speech). I expected something quite inspiring---instead it was a very realistic, straight forward speech. To celebrate the inauguration, Al made a pot of Obama's Chili (the president's own recipe).

Inauguration Day--the first two pictures were taken off the TV. Michelle looks so proud of her husband and he looks pretty happy too. The second picture was taken to show the size of the crowd. The last picture is the recipe for Obama Chili.

Meanwhile, Captain Carl back in Trinidad was working like a madman to get DISCOVERY ready to splash!  DISCOVERY'S interior lighting has been converted to LED---at night I can turn on the lights without any comments from the Amp Police. The deck and hulled was washed and waxed followed by the bottom receiving two coats of InterProtect and then bottom paint. 

My flight to Trinidad was without incidence---quickly processed through Immigration and Customs and a ride waiting for me at the curb. I was onboard DISCOVERY around 3 AM---slept until 8 AM. Walt and Honoree our friends on WILL-O-THE-WISP invited us for dinner Sunday night. Honoree made a delicious tomato based pumpkin soup, a huge salad with lots of shrimp and pineapple upside down cake!

Monday morning, Carl and I went to the Health Clinic for Yellow Fever Vaccines. Since Christmas, over forty dead monkeys were discovered in the Nariva area. THE Ministry of Health has confirmed that monkeys found dead in forested areas in several parts of south Trinidad tested positive for the yellow fever virus. The key to protection is immunization---the ministry advised citizens ensure their immunization status is up to date. We decided to get vaccinated just in case the disease transferred to humans which may create entry into other countries on our cruise.

Yellow Fever! The first picture is Kyle from a Swiss Boat waiting with other cruisers for Jesse to pick us up for our vaccinations. Kyle's parents hoped he could get one but he was 3 months too young. The second picture is one of the educational displays in the clinic for Yellow Fever. It was some type of tree with monkeys in the tree and one on the ground with a label "Dead Monkey" and a paper cutout of a mosquito on its arm!

By Wednesday, the boat is provisioned and ready to splash by 10 AM.  As soon as the front furlers were reconnected, we left the well and headed for Coral Cove Marina where we stayed until Friday morning. Budget Marine Rigging came by on Thursday afternoon to tune the rig. Carl started the generator--the exhaust system was leaking--pulled the defective part. Called various shops to see if they had a replacement part--it would have to be ordered from the US. So, Carl took the part and went to a welder for a repair.

Launch Day! The first picture is DISCOVERY all ready to go.  The second picture shows DISCOVERY saying goodbye to the neighbors (Son of Sun). The third picture shows DISCOVERY slowing leaving the "hood". In picture four, DISCOVERY is finally floating.

Motored over to TTSA (Trinidad Tobago Sailing Association) in Carenage Bay on Friday where we anchored. TTSA is a nice place to stay--the water is cleaner than Chaguaramus Bay and for a reasonable fee, cruisers can use their facilities (bar, restaurant, laundry, pool, dinghy dock, security, trash, etc). Carl purchased some special gasket material to use on the welded part for the generator to make a gasket. Tried the generator again with the welded part and new gasket--works (hope it holds until this cruising season is over).

On our way to Carenage Bay, we motored past Carrera Island which is a prison island. Looks like they may have a beautiful view of the mainland and the Gulf of Paria but otherwise it looks awful. Everyone wonders what the long chute is for. I was on a tour with Jesse once when a cruiser asked if that is where they drop dead prisons for burial at sea. It is merely a drain.

So, January has drawn to an end. We are anchored at TTSA. The boat is ready to go (yes, we find little things to repair or maintain constantly). Waiting for a weather window to head to Grenada. Looking forward to cruising again.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
February 04, 2009