Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Monument Lake, Everglades, FL

ODOMETER: 80,735 | MILES TRAVELED: 2,790

 

by Grant

I found an airboat ride that got great reviews online for this morning. Jana and I have our usual early morning coffee together and take the dogs for their morning walk.

Phoebe decides to go after a little black dog that a lady is walking nearby. She is so strong she drags Jana over and I have to rugby tackle Phoebe before any damage is done, or someone has a heart attack. The poor lady and puppy :-(( she’s apologizing because she walked into our ‘space’, but we’re mortified by Phoebe’s actions and it starts the day off very poorly. Luckily, everyone is unharmed.

Jana’s hip and knee are hurt, I think I cracked a rib (not as hardy as I used to be) and the kids are equally concerned. We decided to do the airboat tour anyway and head over to Everglade City Airboat Tours

Gamble Family Adventures and Travel Blog | Living on a Bus

The skipper of the airboat is Captain Gary and he’s a 190-year veteran of the airboat industry. We’ve heard, and he confirmed, that there are a lot of airboat outfits that push their boats well beyond safe limits. If you’re after a nail biting, death defying thrill ride then those opportunities abound. Everglades City Airboat rides focus on safety and sharing their knowledge of the mangrove habitat that this boundary between the Everglades and the ocean.

It abounds with alligators, manatees, abundant birdlife and much more. Captain Gary does a really nice job gliding his airboat through a complex web of narrow channels. Jack got a lot of great birdlife photos and we all really enjoyed being immersed in this ecosystem, which feels prehistoric and other-worldly.

On the way back to the campground, we stop at Joanie’s Cafe which is a little red shack on the side of 41 whose proprietor (Joanie I assume) is a tough local of this grass jungle.

We also stop at the H.W. Williams Roadside Park and get up and close with some alligators. It’s a very cool opportunity to see these ancient reptiles in their native habitat.

We head back to the RV and I spend some time catching up on work and Jana and Jack search through many days of great photos to see what we have to share from our recent exploits.

Jack got a lot of great birdlife photos and we all really enjoyed being immersed in this ecosystem, which feels prehistoric and other-worldly.

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Sailing Tahiti to Australia | Leg 4: Fiji to Brisbane Passage

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We made trips to get water, fuel and provisions, but apart from that we had to stay on the boat. We passed the time snorkeling (saw a giant moray eel!) and inventing new water sports.

Once we received our exit paperwork, we were finally free to leave for Fiji.

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Reflections

Reflections

These are our personal thoughts on some of our experiences.

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After one year and ten days, we were finally reunited with our puppies, 10-year-old Labradoodles, Mackie and Paigie, and 4-year-old Great Dane, Phoebe.

In the summer of 2020, as COVID was raging through the world, we decided to sell our home in Virginia, move into a 40-foot motorhome named "Thelma," hitch our Jeep "Louise" to her and hit the road.

We had no idea where we were going or how long we'd be traveling. Our kids, Jack, then 16, and Ellie, then 14, were doing school virtually and us parents were working remotely. Mackie, Paigie, and Phoebe had lived their whole lives on our property and we had no idea how they would fare in a "tiny house on wheels" living situation.

We traveled 10,000 miles through 21 states, visited 11 National Parks and spent 3 months over the winter living on the beach in Mexico. It was a trip of a lifetime and we loved it.

In June 2021, we sold Thelma and Louise and bought Hanavave, a 38-foot 2002 Fountaine Pajot catamaran in Tahiti. We decided to relocate our family to Australia, but at the time the only way to get there was by boat.

The puppies had to stay in Washington State and begin the long and cumbersome importation process into Australia. The minimum period is 6 months since the first test and since we had begun the process two months before, we figured that we were saying goodbye for a maximum of four months. It was a very difficult decision, but their caretaker, Colleen, is an amazing lady and we knew that she would take wonderful care of them. Saying goodbye to the puppies was one of the hardest things our family has ever had to do.

Little did we know that it would be a year and ten days before we'd see them again.

Our sailing trip was complicated by the fact that as soon as we arrived in Tahiti, all ports in the South Pacific closed due to the quickly-spreading Delta variant of COVID. This meant that instead of island hopping, we had to make long passages to Australia and there was a lot to be done on Hanavave to prepare her for that journey. We made it to Brisbane in mid-October, but it would take another 8 long months to get the puppies to Australia.

They arrived on June 1, a year to the day we left them.
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Our Trip

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We are currently sailing the South Pacific to Australia.

 

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