Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Last Two Nights at Sea...?

                           Captain Chris watches the sun go down on our last night at sea

         Well, with mixed emotions we waved goodbye to Miami Beach and headed off for our last major ocean voyage -- the two night trip up the Florida coast to Jacksonville.

                                             Fortunately the weather was mild during the trip. Passing Cape Canaveral was a bit surreal. We were far enough offshore that we could barely see the NASA megastructures which line the coast. We  couldn't help but think of the countless liftoffs we have seen on TV since childhood -- and the tragedies as well.

      The massive NASA infrastructure is barely visible from far out at sea as we pass Cape Canaveral

                              Since we had light winds most of the trip, we were dogged
                                             by swarms of insects,  even miles out to sea.

       Do you know what this creepy looking thing is? I know. Neither do we. But there were dozens and dozens of them swarming our boat during the trip. This guy was nice enough to pose for me as he rested for a spell on our blue canvas.

  Many of them seemed to think they were on The Loveboat, as there was much sexual activity going on. Some particularly randy couples did the deed in flight as they zipped around the cockpit -- a bit show-offy if you ask me.

                                We saw sailfish at the surface and one even leapt out of the water

                                                          "The Birds"

               The squalls and lightning storms stayed off to the east over the Bahamas

This is me as the sun rose on our last day on the ocean

On the morning of day three, the mouth of the St. John's River came into view. Jacksonville is actually several miles upriver. We turned on in.

We shared the river with cargo ships, coming and going from the port of Jacksonville

Unfortunately, the river didn't look too healthy. The brownish-red hue of the water gave us the sensation that we were motoring through some bubbly A & W root beer. 

These trees along the riverfront appeared to be ripped out by the roots. They could be leftovers from Hurricanes Dora and Floyd which came through here in recent years.

This image shows a giant wave hitting a Jacksonville Pier during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. 
'Holy Crap' is all I can say. 

Anyway, if there was alot of hurricane damage, they've certainly rebuilt to beat the band. Take a look at   these 3 story megamansions along the coastline. There were hundreds and hundreds of them along the river! Who knew? There's serious money down here.

Uh oh. Are those what I think they are off in the distance?

Holy crap! It's Three Mile Island?!?!?!?!?  I thought that was in Pennsylvania, or New York?!?!?!?

OK, OK, I know. It's not Three Mile Island. And I know that there are nuclear reactors like this in other parts of the country and the world. But this is the first time we had seen these with our own eyes.

Now first off, can we all just acknowledge the fact that these things are a horrifying sight? They are hundreds of feet tall. I mean, imagine aliens landing here from another planet. They would take one look at these things, assume that they are some sort of freaking cauldron of hell and run for their lives. 

I know we have nuclear reactors in California. We even have one in Orange County.

The designers of the Orange County nuclear reactor had the PR wisdom to shape the reactors like a spectacular rack. Just the sight of them either brings a twitter of laughter, or other emotions. The point is, their very appearance distracts from the apocalyptic damaging power they contain.

But these here in Jacksonville? I mean, look at those megamansions down on the waterfront. How much Southern Comfort do they have to drink during lazy evenings on the porch swing to "forget" that they're in the shadow of these horses of the apocalypse? It's just crazy to me. What a sight! 

We were pleasantly surprised to find that that Jacksonville Municipal Marina offers 3 nights free (excluding electricity).  Since we've got plenty of power through our solar panels, we were home free! As the photo shows, we were nearly on our own during our days there.

Happily, the marina is right next to the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL stadium! It's also the Gator Bowl for college football. Note in the photo that the marina is a manatee zone. Once again I hopefully continued my manatee watch, but I was left wanting...

Jacksonville lights up real purty at night (I'm in the South now). At the end of our Jacksonville stay, they would lift this blue bridge just for us as we passed under her on the way up river to Green Cove Springs.

As always, we broke out the bikes and decided to see the sights

Jacksonville is named for Andrew Jackson -- not Stonewall or Michael or Jesse or any other Jackson you can think of. Andrew Jackson was the first Governor of Florida before becoming President.

View from the top

I was excited to shop at my first Winn Dixie grocery store. As everyone knows, this is THE supermarket of the South.

I'm pretty sure it was a Winn-Dixie parking lot where Kathy Bates smashed up 
those girls' Volkswagen  in the Southern classic "Fried Green Tomatoes." 

I discovered in the Winn Dixie that in the short year and half that we've been gone, candy bars have actually grown larger (as if that were possible).  Shocking. 

Another thing that's new in the USA since we've been gone: genetically 
engineered flowers in shockingly bright colors. Cool...I guess.  

OK, now, this is just sad. The Jacksonville Jaguars had a terrible season last year. They only won 2 games. The close-out table at the Winn-Dixie was loaded down with Jaguars gear marked way, way, way down -- 75% off. YIKES. Jags, we'll be pulling for you this year!  

OK, serious question. What, exactly, does one do at a "Scottish Rite Masonic Center?" Seriously? "Shrouded in mystery" does not begin to cover it. We're picturing hoods, candles and Lord knows what else. Anyway, whatever they do there, I have a sinking feeling that the nice young man in the lower right of this photo would not be welcome... :-/

This sign in the window of a drinking establishment proudly announces "Smoking allowed." 
Well. We're not in California anymore, clearly... 

We had to laugh at this teeny-tiny train crossing warning bar for the sidewalk only, 
complete with flashing lights, etc. Your tax dollars hard at work! LOL...

Lovely waterfront home

Stylish graffiti

After a long day exploring Jacksonville on bike, we returned to the marina and hoped to crash early. Our plans were foiled when we found that the "Funk-Fest" was starting, right on the water. A couple of thousand funk fans had arrived and would be gettin' funky -- and gettin' loud -- all night long, right next to the marina.  Sigh.  Looks like sleep would have to wait.

I decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. You can't SEE the music in this blog, so you'll have to trust me. It was loud. This is me giving in to the music and dancing at Funk Fest. To the left is my bike. If it could talk it would say: "I don't know that white girl. I'm not with her. I don't know who she is." LOL...   :-) 

The stadium parking lot was filled with Funk-Fest revelers tailgating. 

I love it when people dare to break stereotypes. These black Harley riders were a big hit at the Funk Fest -- and with me!

Well, that's about it for now. We're currently up river in Green Cove Springs preparing Espiritu for her "nap" on the hard in drydock.  More on that later.

We'll see y'all later!    XO Liz and Chris

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