Custer State Park Working Adventure: Being Tourists with Friends and Family

We love when family and friends come to visit us on our adventures. It not only helps with our homesickness but also gives us a great excuse to become tourists, or travel guides, as the case may be.

Lee and Lynda came through the Black Hills on the way home from their trip out west. We made a whirlwind day of adventure looking for buffalo and wildlife, and checking into Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. There was lunch at the Purple Pie somewhere in between too.


Crazy Horse with Lee and Lynda

State Flags at Mt. Rushmore

Lee and Lynda at Mt. Rushmore

Lee, Lynda, Jennifer and Russ. Mt. Rushmore

Our drive took us through Wind Cave National Park, where we saw buffalo and prairie dogs.

Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Prairie Dog. Wind Cave National Park


Prairie dogs. Wind Cave National Park

Our animal sightings in Custer State Park included pronghorn deer, donkeys and water buffalo (haha, just kidding…it was really buffalo in water)!

I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. Custer State Park


Triplet pronghorns. Custer State Park


Water Buffalo. Custer State Park

The following week, our son Josiah took a few days in between tour dates to come and visit us. This mamma can never spend enough times with her babies and we had a great time doing a little sight-seeing and some hiking.

Hey…I didn’t get a copy of the pic you took…

It’s what he does.


These two! What are they into now?


Over there. Where?


The only time we gets pics together (with both our heads in the shot) is when Josiah is in town.


Exploring Wind Cave National Park


The truck straddling French Creek in Wind Cave National Park.

We had bison at the Bugglin’ Buffalo.

Did the touristy stuff at Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. (I have no pictorial proof of Crazy Horse for some reason!)

Hi George. Mt. Rushmore


These two! If you’ve ever wondered why I have gray hair…its definitely one of these two.


My boys.


Mt. Rushmore National Monument

I made him go hiking. Told him he had to get off the electronics and get fresh air. Just kidding…but grateful to have kids who love the same things we do.

We hiked to Little Devil’s Tower in Custer State Park. The views are spectacular and the hike isn’t half bad either.








He actually doesn’t care for being this high up. Thanks for hanging out with us!




What’s for lunch mom? Still PB&J son.

Best cell service in town. Hi Sami…we missed having you!

Only one of the three of us wanted to swim after our hike. Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is beautiful, but it’s too cold for this Floridian.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park.

The cool breeze coming off the lake is nice too! Sylvan Lake

And just like that the friends and family left us to our adventure. Everyone is welcome to join us, we miss you all! Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Captain Ike, Sailing, and Good Men


Captain Ike on Vela, May 2014

Our friend Captain Ike passed last night. He won his battle with cancer, he is now home with Jesus and free of pain. We saw him only three weeks ago, as he was heading out with a few sailing buddies for an afternoon on the North Fork.

I looked for Vela (his sailboat) as we drove home across the Roosevelt Bridge. I knew her sails would be up as soon as she exited the harbor. But I wasn’t able to see her from that side of the bridge. I was disappointed.

This how we feel right now, we would like just one more glimpse, but it’s not to be.

He has sailed away to his next port.

We’ve lost others to that port. So have you. We go on, knowing we will be reunited with them again, but the ache in our heart is real.

For many reasons, we will miss Ike.

Russ bought his first car from Ike, a 1969 Chevelle for $300. Ike and Russ’ dad were life-long friends and business partners for many years. Russ has known Ike all his life.

He loved our pups, and never missed an opportunity to come and get some doggy kisses. He had a regular weekly stint with the shelter dogs at the Humane Society.

His love of sailing was contagious. He had a career, he was a barber, and before that a merchant marine. We never heard barber stories though, he loved to share the stories of his sailing travels when he was younger. He loved to hear about where we were going and where we had been on our sailboat – and what we were planning next. He encouraged us to go.  He went sailing any and every afternoon he could, even if it was only for an hour. He daydreamed sailing.

He was a mentor. He tried (unsuccessfully, but not his fault) to teach me (Jennifer) a few knots. I would learn them, and then for lack of use, I’d be back to a fumbled mess of line. He shared insight, ideas and taught us much. He was always available to help us in any way he could.

He made time. Whether we were working on our sailboat, loading, or unloading, he always stopped whatever he was doing to come sit on the dock and talk a spell. He regularly invited us to go out sailing with him, on a better boat.

Vela was immaculate and shined. Ike was meticulous.


Vela, Biscayne Bay, 2014

A few years ago in 2014, he followed us to Key Biscayne. We had planned a trip to the Bahamas, but the weather that year wasn’t cooperating. We still had jobs and just a few weeks for a trip. A few days into the trip he got sick, it was Memorial Day weekend and we hunkered down in the Marine Stadium in Miami, before making our final jaunt to Elliot Key. I can see him on our port side, sailing through Biscayne Bay, because as soon as he felt just a little better, he wanted to be on the way. Happy all over his face, he enjoyed the trip, but he really wanted to go to the Bahamas one more time. He was almost 80.


Captain Ike on Vela, Biscayne Bay, 2014

Two years later, while we were cruising in the Bahamas, Ike got his Bahamas trip. His friend John accompanied him for a two week trip. They met us in Green Turtle, he enjoyed cracked conch and conch salad with us one night. Enjoyed walking around the old town and reminiscing about the time he had spent there. As we moved around the islands, we saw them in Marsh Harbor and again in Man-0-War, in between their visit to Hope Town. He still had happy all over his face. He turned 82 that October.

When he returned home after the Bahamas, he received the cancer diagnosis. The doctors really thought it wouldn’t be too long, but Ike was stronger than they thought. He started chemo. He had good days and bad days, and in spite of the chemo, he got out to sail locally. He fought back the cancer for almost two years.

He was a strong man. He was a wise man. He was a kind man.

Last summer, while he was working on a project in his backyard, he told me he didn’t know how long, but he knew he was in Jesus’ hands and that was all he needed to know.

He was a good man. Our hearts are sad, but glad we knew him.

Sail on our friend.

Captain Ike, we love and miss you already.


Captain Ike, tough as a pirate. February 2017


Aargh matie, Captain Ike, on Vela, February 2017

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Vela, coming into White Sound, 2016

Georgia 2017_04_01 to 2017_05_31: The Fun People

Fun wouldn’t be the same without all the great friends we have made along the way. Our time in North Georgia was filled with friends and family…what a blessing!

Rick and Jennifer came up to their cabin in Blairsville, the second week in April, and we had a great time with them.

They came over to Cleveland to check out our camp site, and then we took a ride, to Helen, along with some of our Paradise neighbors, Bruce and Teri, and Brian and Lynn. We had a great lunch at the Old Bavarian Inn. I look forward to their Reuben sandwiches any time I can get one.

Reuben Sandwich, Old Bavarian Inn, Helen, Georgia

However, this was not the highlight of our afternoon. It seem that a certain someone forgot the key FOB for his motorcycle. It is possible to start your bike if the key FOB is nearby (say hanging on the hook in the camper) and then one is able to drive far away from their key FOB. It only becomes apparent that one has made such a mistake, when, upon shutting down the bike, they cannot start it up again.

There is another way to start the bike, if a security code has been set up. Everyone was hungry, so over lunch, a security code was searched for in the owners manual, phone calls were made, and Iphones diligently searched. To no Avail.

NASA we have a problem.

I’m not going to name any names, but dessert on this ride was humble pie.

Humble Pie for dessert.

The guys went to retrieve the key FOB, while the ladies did some shopping in Helen.

Feeling a little Jerky?

Fortunately, Helen isn’t that far from Paradise Valley R.V. Resort, so once the key FOB was retreived, we still had time for a great afternoon of riding.

Sunday afternoon ride through the mountains of North Georgia.

Hanging with Rick and Jennifer means relaxing on the porch, enjoying the beautiful mountain view.

Best seats in North Georgia. Rick and Jennifer’s porch

Great riding.

Out riding with Rick and Jennifer.

A picnic lunch at Brasstown Bald.

Hey…we have cell phone service! Can we make it all the way to the top? In these motorcycle boots???

Getting silly after all those curvy roads.

Out for more riding with Rick and Jennifer. Hay, what’s the hold-up?

Rick and Jennifer’s cabin is not only comfy, but it has a beautiful view!

Finally got to see their dogwood tree bloom.

Relaxing sunsets.

Sunset at the cabin.

We also finally finished up the curtains for the man-cave, had many wonderful meals, and Spades! Alas, our week went too quickly…time to retire you two…hurry it up already!

Right after our week with Rick and Jennifer, we headed over to Charlotte, to spend Easter weekend with my brother, his wife and family. We had a great weekend, which included fabulous food, great games, and some hiking to work off the calories. I’m going to group their return visit to us, over Memorial day Weekend, right here. It is so wonderful to get to have more time for family! Time with Bert, and Soher is always full of love and fun.

Easter weekend with Bert and Soher, in Charlotte.

We focused on seeing a few water falls, while Bert and Soher came to visit us. Anna Ruby Falls, Vogel State Park, and Helton Creek Falls, as well as…lots of good food.

Anna Ruby Falls, with Bert and Soher.

Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher. Hofers Bakery and Cafe for dinner and some take home desserts.

I have to go back…they are closed! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

Relaxing after dinner in Helen, Georgia. Bert and Russ. FUDGE!

Too many Jerky signs in this town! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

At trip anywhere near Blairsville, has to include food at Jim’s Smokin Que.

Lunch at Jim’s Smokin Que, with Bert and Soher.

Then onto Vogel State Park and Helton Creek Falls.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Helton Creek Falls, with Bert and Soher.

View from Richard Russell Scenic Highway, with Bert and Soher.

We spent a great day with John and Janet. Of course it started out with a quick lunch at Jim’s, but we took the adventure to Paradise Hill Vineyard, for a bottle of wine and great music on their patio. Then back to our campsite for dinner, which unfortunately did not include a camp fire because of the rain!

John and Janet, at Paradise Hills Vineyard, Blairseville, Georgia.

It’s nice having some retired friends around! Gary and Debbie, whom we met in Marathon a few years ago, when they were sailing Aldeberon, have moved along to Hiawassee, Georgia. They build an adorable little retirement house and we enjoyed our visits. We really enjoyed the building project, because the “pay” was completed with fantastic gourmet meals prepared by Chef Debbie!

Russ and Gary built steps and a deck to connect the driveway to the beautiful front porch.

Completed front porch access deck.

We all know that all work and no play…is just not fun, so we made sure we had lots of time to go out and explore, a few fire-side nights by the creek and plenty of hiking outings were fun for all.

Hiking Brasstown Bald with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Amicalola Falls, with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park, with Gary and Debbie.

We made fast friends with Bruce and Teri. It seems we have lots in common, their winter home is close to our place in Umatilla. They love motorcycle riding. They just love life!

Shortly after they arrived from their winter home in the Villages, they began making preparations for the newest addition to their Paradise homestead. Their caboose arrived with much fanfare and activity. Finally by the end of the day, I spotted them relaxing in their chairs, admiring the caboose!

The Caboose arrives, Bruce and Teri’s new RV! (look how cute they are sitting their at the end of the day)

Out for a beautiful ride.

Riding the mountains in North Georgia, with Bruce and Terri.

These two love-birds do this at the end of every ride!

Love this…they do this at the end of all their rides. Sooo cute!

We are always excited when we get to spend time with our family. Especially our California gang, who don’t get back to this coast as often as I want them too. Fortunately for us, Ray’s younger sister graduated from UF (Go Gators, Yeah Maggie!) We became part of the two week loop they did from Orlando, to South Florida, to Gainseville, to Georgia and then South Carolina! Wow, I’m tired for them.

Nanny is ready for two little grands!

Ready for the Grands!

Good morning Nanny. Is PopPop awake yet?

Monta and Gabby visit Nanny and PopPop.

Out for our first Hike, at Dukes Creek Falls, located on Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby at Dukes Creek Falls

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

PopPop has hiking buddies. Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

There is never a dull moment with this guy!

Nanny, I stacked the shoes by the door like you asked.

Extra shoes make Nanny’s heart happy.

Time for bed! Deep sigh, Nanny is tired!

Sleeping in Nanny and PopPops camper with Thomas is the best.

Day two, more hiking, at Smithgall Woods State Park, with fun in the creek!

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Having fun in the creek, under the covered bridge at Smithgall Woods State Park, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

We made the best of a couple of rainy days. Babyland was a big hit, with an afternoon trip to Dahlonega. The Cleveland library had lots of games that were PhD approved by Dr. Daddy! I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated an inside playground this much! Thank you Chick-fil-A.

A rainy day was meant to be spent at Babyland and holding newborn Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Babyland, taking care of the Cabbage Patch Babies. I think she will fit, I can make her fit!

An afternoon trip to Dahlonega, with a stop at the Cottage Vineyard and Winery.

Lunch at Zaxby’s ana an afternoon in Dahlonega. PopPop, stick to the story line!

Rainy days and Libraries with PhD approved games, and Chick-fil-A! Thanks for the indoor playground!

Then just like that it was time for them to leave!

Time for Nanny to cry!

PopPop says don’t worry, I won’t let her cry for long!

No crying aloud!

We loved our Georgia Mountain spring visit. Of course we have moved along and there are more adventures to come.

Thanks for following along with us.

‘Hamas: Green Turtle Cay 2016_05_03

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Our stay in Green Turtle was longer than expected, but it was a wonderful time of visiting with friends from home and those we have met along the way.

On our way from Crab Cay to Green Turtle, we ran close to shore because of unfavorable winds. Just before Cooper’s Town we noticed all this construction. Looks like a new marina and development, another spot for a mega-yacht or two.


New Development between Fox Town and Coopers Town.

We “ran” to White Sound on Green Turtle to avoid strong winds and stormy weather, which was predicted to come through on Wednesday. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and were blasted on Wednesday night, starting at six in the evening until four in the morning. Our anchor dragged us around during the first squall, and fortunately it was still daylight for re-anchoring and for putting out a second anchor. It blew pretty hard all night long, with gusts up to 54 knots.This is a screen shot taken around midnight, although the highest winds happened around four in the morning.

Storm 2016_05_04

Storm 2016_05_04

We decided to anchor in the small lagoon, called Bone-fish Flats,  just off of White Sound. The entrance is a bit shallow at low tide, but once inside we had deep water, good holding, and only a few stray catamarans to share our spot with.


Bite off of White Sound, Green Turtle Cay

The first weekend in May, most years, New Plymouth hosts their Island Roots Festival. In the mid-eighteen hundreds, residents of Green Turtle moved to Key West and in 1977 both towns became Sister Cities. There were a few festivals to celebrate and in 2004 they made it an annual affair. Except next years has already been cancelled due to elections. We decided to walk our way around the cay rather than dingy over to the festivities. It was a beautiful day for a walk and for the festival.


Atlantic side bay, PB&J on Bahama bread is whats for lunch, rest up Captain for the long walk ahead.

The theme for the Island Roots Festival 2016 was “Adventure, Enterprise and Infamy.” We learned all sorts of things about piracy, wrecking, blockade running and bootlegging, in the Abacos through the years. The best thing for me was the small town feel of the festival, and the audience participation in the kids scavenger hunt. This young lady was the winner, and did so with plenty of stuff from our bag and person…shoes, hat, glasses, money…all returned with a big smile and thank yous.


Streets in New Plymouth, Nyah was a hit with all the kids, Pirates! Royal Bahamas Defense Force Marching Band, Our winner for the scavenger hunt.

Of course no festival would be complete with out food! Conch fritters and coconut sweets!

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Hung out to dry, coconut sweets, kids on stilts having a time, conch fritters (no I’m not deleting this pic Captain!,) Royal Bahamian Police Force Marching Band.

The Island Roots Festival is held on Friday and Saturday, and is concluded on Sunday morning with a community Service of Thanksgiving. All the churches on the cay come together and each has a part in the service. We enjoyed all the worship music and the messages.


Sunday morning worship Service of Thanksgiving, the conclusion of the Island Roots Heritage Festival.

We had a great time in Green Turtle hanging out with the crew from Saol Nua, Tommy, Alicia, Nevan and Rylan. Nyah enjoyed her daily romp with Sky. We had fabulous weather for snorkeling, conking, spear fishing, and beach days.


“How far do we have to dig to get to China, Captain Russ?”

We were excited when Ike and John arrived on Vela. They had a few false starts because of weather, but finally arrived so Ike could show John how to sail all around the Abacos, and to look up people he hasn’t seen since the last time he was here. Ike is one of  the Captains sailing mentors and they have known each other since the Captain was a small knot. It was nice getting to know John, thanks for sharing them, Fran and Janet!


Ike and John exploring New Plymouth.

We had a fish fry with all the goodies from the sea, the boys had collected.


Saol Nua and Vela anchored up with us. John, Tommy, Ike and Nevan full of fish and conch, Alicia and I with Rylan in the background.

Exploring is always interesting with the Captain, Oh, the things you will see…


You probably shouldn’t drink the water. Did you apply sunscreen? This is real boat-trash now, anything left to salvage? Remnants of an old house built on a cistern, next time lets bring the spot light.

I never have a dull moment with the Captain, but this area seems to attract excitement too. On our way back from snorkeling one afternoon, we watched this sea plane take off from picking up or dropping someone off at this mega-yacht. I think the water slide looks fun!


Zoom Zoom having fun in the Sea of Abaco.

Just a few of our finds that aren’t keepers. You can’t eat the Helmet conch so we took pics and put them back. Later we were in a shop and they were selling for $200. I think they are prettier on the bottom.


Helmet conch and starfish.

More exploring in New Plymouth and lunch at Pineapples.

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New Plymouth (festival in background,) parking boats…must wait for high tide to go out, sunset on the Sea of Abaco.


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Pineapples pool and view is beautiful. Coca Cola Bahamas, Counter at Pineapples.

Sometimes, I run out of things to do, so I do crazy stuff, like take the dog kayaking. This is trust…she really did not want to do this, but patience and persistence won, she climbed aboard and went to shore and back with me!


Kayaking with Nyah.

This is Eddie. Eddie makes the best conch salad in Green Turtle. You can find him most days at Green Turtle Club Marina. This is Captain Russ, he finds me conch. He also cleans the conch. After eating Eddie’s conch salad, I decided to try and make my own. Not bad for a white girl!


Eddie making conch salad. Captain and his conch finds. My conch salad.

We interrupt paradise with some more rain. Might as well get the laundry done.


Laundry at the creek is over-rated.

Nyah is glad she wears her coat 24/7, she does not have to do laundry.


Really? This is my space!

Some more exploring, this time on the west side of the cay.


More beautiful beaches. For Sale! Can we afford it? Probably not if the neighbors have sea-planes in their back yards.

And every May we have Mother’s Day. Thank you Captain for the scrumptious breakfast and for making my day so special.


Mother’s Day breakfast.

On our second Sunday in Green Turtle, we visited New Plymouth Gospel Chapel and enjoyed Sunday School. The boys take turns asking the congregation what song they would like to sing, someone raises their hand and is called out. Then the boy repeats the name of the song before everyone sings. The lesson from Malachi by Eddie Schwartz was good too.


Sunday School. What song should we sing?

More friends to meet up with. John Briggs from Julie Ann, was kind enough to bring us a few necessities from home and we had a great visit with him and his sister Diana over on Manjack one afternoon.


Captain and John Briggs, two FPL’rs, living it up the ‘Hamas.

They headed on their way to points beyond, because poor John is still on a vacation schedule. But we found them again when we needed a Whale Cay Channel report on our way out of Green Turtle.


Julie Ann, Whale Cay Channel, Abaco


This is Vertrum Lowe from Vern’s Model Ship Shop. His dog Rumbly was with him and they opened up the shop to show me around. Vert was born 83 years ago in the house that sits right in front of his shop. Not only did he show me the ships he had on display, but also the photo album of the many beautiful works he had done over the years. He was very familiar with South Florida, having family over there and was such a joy to talk with. There was only one “bench” tool in the shop, a band saw, all work is done the old fashion way. Definitely worth a stop and a chat if you have the time.IMG_9747

We had nineteen sunsets in Green Turtle, it was nice to spend quality time exploring and hanging out with friends. Thanks for stopping by on our adventure.