Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween!

In my last post, I mentioned that I am a volunteer and substitute ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) teacher at the Chattanooga State Technical Community College. Mrs Nelson, the teacher I work with, was so gracious as to host a party for all her ESOL students and their families at her home yesterday. Located in the farm country of NW Georgia, her property is situated right next to cow pastures. Seeing the cows grazing the land was quite a sight for us city folks. The driveway to her house was a bumpy gravel road, about a quarter mile long.

As someone who has lived in the U.S. well over thirty years, you would think I know most, if not all, of the customs in this country. Well, I don't and I learned something new yesterday. It is about "bobbing for apples." Apparently this is a traditional game played on Halloween. A large tub is filled with water and apples, and the players, one at time, try to get an apple with their mouth. This game does not look too hygenic, and with swine (H1N1) flu fast becoming an epidemic, I do not recommend this game. Anyhow, watch the video below to see what "bobbing for apples" is all about.

A big thank you to Mrs Nelson and all the students who brought some delicious food!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

A day in the life of a liveaboard

Friends and family often ask us questions about our boating lifestyle. Our number one question is "What do you do all day since since you don't work?" And this is our number one answer ...

We normally get up around 10 am, make ourselves a bloody Mary, have breakfast, lounge around and read the paper. Before you know it, it's lunchtime. After we eat, we zip around in the dinghy, swim and snorkel around the reefs, walk on the beach and look for shells. In the evenings, we get together with other boaters for cocktails and watch the sun melt into the horizon.

Yeah right. What's missing in the picture is a captain, chef and maid! The last sentence of my answer is true of the Florida keys. Everyday, around 5 pm, boaters would walk around the docks with a drink in hand to watch the sun set, rain or shine.

We keep busy tending to all the mundane tasks of everyday life - laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking most of our meals. There's always projects on the boat - things that cannot wait to get repaired, such as a broken pump (water pump, bilge pump, sump pump, fuel pump, there are so many of them on the boat!), battery and electrical problems, engine problems, you name it. Incidentally, the captain has turned into a true mechanic. Which is a very good thing. Unlike a house, the boat takes more abuse not just from the elements, but also from the constant pounding on the water. The ocean is very unforgiving, as we all know; being stranded out in the open waters can lend to horror stories, if you live to tell them!

A big chunk of our time is spent poring over charts (paper and electronic), and reading about the ports-of-calls that we'd like to visit. We have to deal with the logistics of getting from point A to point B, not unlike planning a road trip. On the water however, there aren't many exits that you can just get off to top off your fuel tank, or check into a motel when you are tired. We would need to know these information in advance - a channel with deep enough water to get in (Mai Thai needs at least 4 feet), the tide (if near the ocean), a marina or anchorage that we can stop for the night. If stopping at a marina, we would have to call and make reservations first.

These days, we are now what they call liveaboards - people who live aboard a boat docked at a marina. What do I do these days? Since we are not moving all the time, I am able to volunteer my time at Chattanooga Technical Community College as an ESL (English as a second language) tutor two mornings a week; I substitute for the teacher whenever the need arises. This morning, I helped a neighbor boater color her hair. Then I email, blog, write articles, surf the net, read, etc, etc. Sometimes we walk up the hill, and sometimes we walk other neighbor's dog. I make salmon turnovers for a snack. Come 5 o'clock, some of our boater friends are back from work, and we hang out. Now, it's time for dinner. Gotta go. Catch you at the next posting!
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seize the day - hiking at Lookout Mountain

Boats heading south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)
"Seize the day" is a phrase that resonates with boaters. In fact, Seas the day is a popular boat name. As the temperature dips and the hurricane season wanes, boaters start to head for warmer climes. You never know what mother nature has in store for you, so when the weatherman forecasts a good weather pattern, they seize the opportunity and go. Speaking of weather, Chattanooga hasn't seen the sun in a while. All last week, severe weather pummeled the deep south, bringing torrential rain to the region. Sure, we needed the rain, but ten days of incessant downpours were a bit much. Some areas saw their first flash flood in 75 years. Fortunately for us, we only saw debris on this side of the Tennessee River (Lake Nickajack).
Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia
When friends visited us last weekend, we had but one sunny day. We seized the opportunity to go outdoors - we went to Lookout Mountain on the Georgia side to watch the hangliders fly. It was exhilarating for us to watch them take off, so can you imagine how they must have felt.

After the excitement, we had a little picnic at nearby Cloudland Canyon, then hiked the .8 mile (roundtrip) waterfall trail. Walking down the canyon on a trail with some 600 steps in between was not too bad. We were rewarded with spectacular views of 2 waterfalls that cascaded off from 60 and 90 feet. The climb back up was a bit strenous; we took it slow, and stopped every so often to catch our breath. There are benches throughout the trail for the much needed resting. We will definitely be back to see the fall colors.
Updated 8/25/16

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