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Family pit stop, #? (we have lost count)

29 May

We made it to Portland, Oregon! Well, really we made it as far as Washougal, Washington. Washougal is a small town is just outside Portland, where Andy grew up. Whew…two weeks and 3800 miles later. The other day Robin tried to tell someone she was in Missoula, Missouri…we are done with the road for a while.

Now we can take a break for a nice long weekend and visit with everyone before we hike the last leg up to Victoria. The AAL Dalian left La Paz on schedule, and its last port (Ensenada) before Victoria looks to be on track for June 5th. So glad that Hurricane Amanda didn’t impact our boat. Just when we thought we had left hurricane season behind…

Meanwhile, back on land, Madi and Peyton are making lots of crazy cousin plans and looking forward to the next few days. After that, Victoria! Have to say, we are looking forward to seeing Tango again. It will be so nice to be back in our home…and in our own beds.

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View at Mom Beck’s house on the Washougal River…our resting place for a long weekend

The weekend push

27 May

Starting to feel the sands of time slipping away as the AAL Dalian relentlessly stayed on schedule, we needed to stop playing so much and put in some serious weekend miles. We pushed ourselves from Saint Louis to Billings, Montana (about 1300 miles…which is big for us with dogs and children). We had hoped to hit Butte by Monday night, but around 7:00 PM in Billings we cried uncle. Good thing too, as a severe thunderstorm with 70+ mile winds, hail, and tons of lightning swept through. That wouldn’t have been fun on the dark Montana roads!

We managed to pack in a few quick stops, like Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. After seeing billboards for hundreds of miles we felt compelled to stop for a quick dinner and see what the fuss was all about. We also drove up to say hi to Mr. Jefferson and his pals at Mount Rushmore. Madi and Peyton discovered that he wrote one of the first ice cream recipes.

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Max keeping an eye out for antelope and prairie dogs

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The backyard buffalo at Wall Drug

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Proof that we were there…

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Cool panoramic in Billings of the big storm heading towards us

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Only weekend drama was the full hot chocolate that Peyton spilled into her very special stuffed animal and toy bag. We call it the Great Chocolate Massacre. The wounded rest on the dash as they dry.

Pit stop #6: Saint Louis

24 May

Andy’s longtime friend and his wife live in Saint Louis, so we had to make a pit stop here and have some nice dinners hanging out and solving world issues. Plus the City Museum and the Saint Louis Arch…need we say more?

If you don’t know about the City Museum, you should google it. Pretty cool climbing and exploring place created out of recycled and found objects. Not for the faint of heart…they sell knee pads in the gift shop. Andy and his friend, Roy, joined the girls to bump, bang, and bruise their way through this cool place.

We tried to go up in the Arch, but tickets were sold out and summer hours don’t start for a few more days. We did get to touch it though (oooh…we touched the arch), and visited the Jefferson Expansion Museum.

All in all, it was a great last long stop. Time now to put in some weekend miles to get closer to Portland, Oregon where our families are waiting to see us…then up to Victoria.  Tango is on track for delivery on June 5th. Yah! Home and our own beds!

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Peyton's City Museum souvenir

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Pit stop #5: Nashville

21 May

Today we said goodbye to Nashville and the girl’s wonderful cousin Tamara. She’s getting ready to say goodbye to Nashville too, as she wraps up her PHD at Vanderbilt and heads to Pennsylvania to start her new professor job. Congratulations on turning in your dissertation, Tamara! Madi and Peyton absolutely adore their cousin, and we threw up a cheer that the timing of this visit worked out.

Madi took full advantage of having a kitchen (and a big one at that), and made a delectable pot of vichyssoise for dinner. Madi, you can make that for us any time! Unfortunately, Tamara’s blender cracked and died, unable to handle the vichyssoise. Rest in peace, dear blender, it was a good death. All that soup needed was some warm ciabatta bread fresh out of the solar oven… Yes, we are getting tired of road food, can you tell?

We also managed to catch the AAL Dalian in the Panama Canal’s Gatun Lock yesterday on a live cam, very cool! The girls thought it was weird that they were watching their shell collections and stuffed animals motor along on a freighter on the internet. Taking a pause to contemplate that — technology is pretty awesome.

Dalian in Gatun Locks

Tango is on the starboard side in front of the bridge

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Cousins!

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Nashville’s other favorite…Gigi’s cupcakes!

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We also fit in a visit to the Parthenon, which is a cool connection to Peyton’s mythology in school…just in an odd location!

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Athena and the girls

Pit stop #4: Shelbyville

19 May

We decided to stay in Shelbyville, TN so we could visit the Jack Daniels plant in Lynchburg, but the day got away from us and we ran out of time, but it was a quiet town and nice change of pace on the road. Shelbyville is the home of the Tennessee Walking Horse, so there’s that. We decided their famous walk is both cool and strange. Peyton said they have noodle legs.

We went for a walk down to the Duck River and enjoyed a water view we haven’t seen in a long time. On the way, the girls joyfully shouted out all the plants and wildlife they’ve missed in the Bahamas and Florida, things like dandelion fluff, cardinals, and robins. Max (being a Florida dog…and we are assuming here since we don’t know his history) had never seen a dandelion tuft, and wasn’t too sure about them.

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Fisherman’s Park on the Duck River

 

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The master rock skipper in action

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On a boaty note

17 May

Email update yesterday has Tango arriving in Victoria on June 5th. Guess we can’t dauddle along too much on this road trip! Of course this assumes flawless loading/unloading in the other ports before Victoria…we shall see.

Andy’s AIS app picked the AAL Dalian back up again today, showing it about 60 miles south of Jamaica and on track for Cristobal, Panama Entrance Pilot Station on the 19th. We will be watching the live cam feeds to see if we can catch a peak!

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Pit stop #3: Montgomery

17 May

We decided to spend the weekend in Montgomery, AL exploring the center of so much historic Civil Rights action. We visited the Civil Rights Memorial Center, saw the church where Marin Luther King Jr. preached for years, toured the Rosa Parks Museum, and walked to her famous bus stop.

These spots saddened us with how much evil exists, and impressed us with the strength of character and courage shown by so many as they stood up and said enough. Most beautiful and poignant was Maya Lin’s water memorial.
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Roadtrip pit stop #2: Tifton

15 May

We stopped in Tifton, GA for the night. We are still getting our car legs, so smaller hops are nice right now. Not only car legs, but shore bed legs too. In our first hotel, Andy fell out of bed twice, Peyton once, and Madi tucked her covers in tight because she was worried about that too. No one documented Robin, so we will assume that she’s more adaptable and not the queen of clutz that you all know and love (ha!).

It was cold when we got out of the car tonight in Tifton at only 64 degrees! We immediately came into our room and turned on the heat. No joke.

Watching AIS, the AAL Dalian and Tango left dock today and are currently somewhere near the Keys.

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Goodbye Florida

Roadtrip pit stop #1: Orlando

14 May

For our first pit stop, we picked Disney World (Epcot and the Magic Kingdom). We tossed the idea around for several months, the girls excitedly hoping it would work out. Everything fell into place, and we were able to give it the ol’ two-park shuffle. (they got to pick which two parks) We took them to Disneyland when Madi was four and Peyton was six months old (the height of Madi’s princess craze). Needless to say, they really don’t remember much at all.

Andy and I reminisced about how much the Disney experience has changed from when we were kids driving south down the Pacific coastline to Disneyland. Tickets are so much more expensive, there is so much more merchandise, and everything is so charactered up (example: they are turning Epcot’s Norway into a “Frozen” themed thing). With all of that, the Main Street Electrical Parade is still the same, and gave Andy warm and fuzzies.

We all had a great time, closing down both Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Our favorite part? The last few hours when everyone was heading out or away from the rides to watch the fireworks. We dashed about crowd free and ran right onto rides and had cast members ask if we wanted to stay and ride again. Our other favorite part? Madi and Peyton spontaneously and repeatedly thanking the cast members. We are prejudiced we know, but we have wonderful girls. 🙂

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Epcot’s France and the girls new favorite soup, vichyssoise, that Madi wants to make as soon as she has a kitchen

As for Tango, the AAL Dalian still sits in Palm Beach at dock (there be much loading, har). We did see a bit of Tango’s mast loaded aboard from a bridge overlooking the port. Good thing we left that lightening bottle brush diverter thingie up there so we could mast identify. Nice to know it really did get loaded! Actually, when we left, Tango was the only sailboat yet loaded. First on, last off. How many others are crazy enough to go from warm, clear water sailing up to the colder Pacific NW waters?

The loading deed is done

12 May

Sunday equipment break-downs delayed our load. Monday 8am we finally were allowed to pull up alongside the Dalian, and we turned Tango over to the dive and load crew. We offloaded on a shuttle that took us back to land. Leaving our home of three years was a bit emotional.

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See you in a month, Tango, in a much different climate