SEPTEMBER---Completed 7000 mile road trip and Returned to Trinidad

Drove from Doug and Marianne Taylor's home in Sodus Point, NY to Old Saybrook, CT.  Very difficult to bid farewell to the Taylors. Certainly hope we see them again when we are back in the US at some point in the future.  Went to Old Saybrook to visit Keith Reynolds and Rose Miles, cruising friends who also own a Saga 43 (CAMELOT).  A couple of interesting tidbits about Old Saybrook--On October 9, 1701 the Collegiate School of Connecticut was chartered in Old Saybrook--it moved to New Haven in 1716---later renamed Yale University.  Also, the four-time Academy Award-winning star of film, television and stage, Katharine Hepburn lived here.  While visiting Keith and Rose, Carl and I continued our morning walks leaving the house early in the morning before Keith and Rose woke up. We'd walk for an hour to someplace where I could have a cup of coffee (Carl would have orange juice or water) and then return. One evening, the four of us went out for dinner at the New Orleans Restaurant Creative Cooking--the food was good and the portions so large we had enough for lunch the following day. On our last day in Old Saybrook, Rose and I went shopping at an outlet mall while the guys shopped at Defender (huge marine store). Keith and Carl put more purchases on the credit cards than Rose and I did!! We hope to see Keith and Rose in the Bahamas or in Vero Beach, FL when we return to the East Coast this coming spring.

Photos from dinner at the New Orleans Restaurant Creative Cooking.

Left Old Saybrook at 3:45 AM Saturday.  Carl was awake and restless. Decided it was better to turn the tires on the car than turn around in bed!!! The drive was primarily Interstate Highway so we made excellent time stopping only for fuel, restrooms and food. Arrived in Grand Rapids around 5:00 PM. Stayed the night with friends, Pam and Brian, having arrived just in time to attend the neighborhood potluck.  On Sunday, Pam & Brian, Carl & I drove to Montague to spend the afternoon on Al & Laurie's boat, FINALE.  Jamie (Al and Laurie's daughter) and her friend, Kourtney, joined us. Al navigated FINALE across White Lake out the channel to Lake Michigan where it was a perfect day to be on a powerboat--sunny and calm. Once we were a good distance from shore, the engines were shut down so the boat would drift while we ate lunch. Jamie and Kourtney went swimming--they thought the water was "warmer" than it actually was. Al's instrument that measure the lake temperature was not working properly and he knew it but did not let the girls know.  So Jamie and Kourtney thought the water was in the lower 70's--in reality the water was in the mid 50's. Jamie and Kourtney were squealing as they entered the cold water staying in the water for a short period of time. Had a great time on FINALE. Before heading home, we stopped by the White Lake Marina to visit sailing friends, Tim and Julie on JAMBALAYA and Steve and Ann on NEW DIRECTIONS. Had not seen these guys since 2003 so you can imagine we all had lots to talk about especially since they were interested in what is like to sail in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Below are two photos taken on FINALE. Jamie and Kourtney in the water hanging on to the swim platform and Laurie soaking up the rays and a Corona beer.


Arrived at our cottage near Pentwater Sunday 9/6 early evening where we stayed for 11 nights. Had been living out of a suitcase for almost 3 months which was getting old. It was great to use the dresser drawers and closets for our clothing not to mention placing our personal items in drawers in the master bathroom. Lots of weeds in the flower garden which I managed to mostly ignore. We continued our daily hikes pushing the time to at least 2 hours.

I usually include pictures of tropical flowers in my monthly log so I decided to include a few pictures of flowers from my garden.


Below are pictures taken during our daily hike. One is a picture of Carl on the road to the beach--the second one is me "on the beach".

Did we take a side trip to Iraq? No, the next four pictures were taken on our hike to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

Finally had the opportunity to met up with sailing friends, Ron & Jackie on AT SAIL. Several times during the summer our paths crossed but we could never get together. Ron called late one Friday afternoon saying they were in Muskegon and wondered if we could meet them for dinner. Decided Old Channel Lane Inn outside of Montague was a good place to rendezvous. It was great to see them and hear about their summer cruise and their future plans plus the food was pretty good!

Ron and Jackie at the Old Channel Lane Inn

On Saturday 9/12, Carl and I attended a local festival--the Silver Lake Barbeque & Apple Cookoff.  Lots of people, great ribs, live music, arts and crafts plus a huge classic car and dune buggy show. There were so many people there that many of the vendors were out of ribs by 2:00 PM!

Below are pictures taken at the Silver Lake Barbeque & Apple Cookoff.

Closed up the cottage on Thursday morning 9/17. Carl winterized the water and waste systems. Meanwhile, I packed our bags and loaded them into the vehicle for the drive to Grand Rapids where we stayed with friends until our flight to Trinidad on Sunday. Stayed with Pam and Brian Thursday and Friday night--we really love their Irish Guest Room. Thursday night, the guys picked up pizzas at Pappa Murphys. Brian had previously picked up 3-D glasses so we could watch the 3-D Movie "CORALINE".  The 3-D glasses made us look pretty silly. Sad to report the movie wasn't very good so we took off the 3-D glasses and found another movie to watch (no glasses required). Thanks Brian for the little bit of fun and silliness. Friday, Pam and I shopped for awhile, had a pedicure and then spent a couple hours at the pool. Saturday morning we went to the Grand Rapids Public Museum for the Leonard da Vinci exhibit "Machines in Motion".  Returned to Pam and Brian's place to watch the Michigan State University versus Notre Dame football game. Al and Laurie came over to watch the game with us. Brian made his delicious wet burritos which we ate at half time. Sadly, the MSU Spartans lost to Notre Dame. Carl and I said our goodbyes to Pam and Brian and drove over to Al and Laurie's where we spent the night. Laurie and I sat in the hot tub under a clear starry sky sipping Limoncello and talking. Went to bed fairly early because we had a 6:45 AM flight to Trinidad the next morning.

The following pictures were taken our last weekend in Grand Rapids. The first picture is Pam, Brian and Carl sporting the latest 3-D glasses. I just had to take the second picture and include it in the log. I opened Pam's lazy susan and found more cans of PAM Spray there than I find in a well-stocked grocery store in Trinidad. The third and fourth pictures were taken in the Leonardo da Vinci Exhibit.  The last two pictures are two large sculptors that are part of Grand Rapid's ArtPrize. The ArtPrize is open for any artist to show his/her work and any visitor can vote for the best piece of art. The top prize is $250,000--the largest art prize in the world.

It was a relief to get all our checked baggage without any additional charges for extra pounds. Carl's box of spare parts made it through security--no problem at all. First stop on our return flight was Chicago---the flight from Grand Rapids is about 30 minutes directly over Lake Michigan. Had a quick breakfast at the O'Hare airport before the next leg to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The flight to San Juan went smoothly--both of us slept most of the way. Lots of thunderstorms around San Juan after our flight arrived which delayed numerous flights. Our flight was after the storm passed through so our departure was "on time" but the ride was very rough. Lots of turbulence from a thunderstorm to the west of us. About an hour into the 2.5 hour flight, the pilot announced he had bad news for us---had to return to San Juan because of a oil distribution problem. The pilot told us not to be concerned  because there would be fire trucks on the runway to meet us when we landed and follow us to the gate---standard procedure. Thank goodness, we did not need the fire trucks! As soon as all the passengers were off the plane, we were loaded onto a waiting bus that took us to another plane. Stayed on the bus while this plane was loaded with fuel and our baggage. Then all passengers were boarded and once again off  to Trinidad! Encountered turbulence early in the flight but soon it was smooth as silk. It is hard to believe we were only 3 hours late--made up for the loss time somehow.

Getting through Immigration was a snap. Found all our baggage and cleared Customs at Piarco Airport in good time. Our maxi taxi driver, Sterling, was there to meet us. Had a problem when we stopped at Customs at Chaguaramus where our spare parts box had to be inspected. This office is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the door is locked after hour so you knock at it until someone answers. Carl and Sterling knocked, knocked and knocked. After about 15 minutes, Sterling started knocking on all the windows around the building. Finally, after 30 minutes of knocking, a tired Customs Officer opened the door to let them in. The situation with Customs being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week reminds me of a sign that actually appeared on a business here in Trinidad. The sign has two lines. The first line "Open 24/7" and the second line "Except When Closed"!!! Finally in the apartment at PowerBoats at 2:30 AM---turned on the AC and went to sleep.

Monday morning we boarded DISCOVERY. She looked good. Only one problem during our absence---condensate from the AC dripped on 3 cushions staining them badly. Sent them to a dry cleaner--no luck getting the stain out. Went to the store where I purchased the fabric for the cushions one year ago. What luck, they still had the fabric so the cushions are currently in the Upholstery Shop. Had the floor boards varnished while we were gone--they look great. Except for some dust in the interior and some dirt/grime on the exterior---she looks fabulous.

DISCOVERY all wrapped in plastic waiting for our return.

The boatyards in Trinidad are full but it appears that most cruisers went home this year rather than hang around Trinidad for hurricane season. The vendors and suppliers say that business has been way down--it is slowly  picking up. The Trinidad Tobago Sailing Association (TTSA) anchorage has quite a few boats at anchor. The TTSA Monday Night Potluck is the highlight of the week---lots of friends to visit with and fantastic entertainment.

The following eight pictures were taken at one of the TTSA Potlucks. Lots of kids at TTSA this year. Several of our friends are anchored there. Great entertainment--Steel Pan, Keyboards, Soloists, Groups, Fire Dancers and a guy who plays guitar in a style people said is called Flamingo.

Carl and I have not been walking for exercise every day since arriving in Trinidad. We do walk almost everywhere we go and we hike 2-3 times a week. Boy, is it hot and humid here. It takes awhile to get used to it again. We are as acclimated to the weather as we will ever get. Slowly working on projects and getting the boat ready to be launched sometime in October.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
October 2, 2009