December and January: Travel, Projects, and Dreaming in the Sun

These past two months I finished another semester of college, sailed a tall ship, snorkeled with fish and into a few caves, relaxed and played with puppies William and Nicholas, drove a car from 999,999.9 to 000,000.0, came face to face with a lion, and made my first official project on my new sewing machine. Wowza. Oh, and took quite a few photos to document too, so hope you enjoy those!


Two months in one post you ask? Why yes, I'm a bit behind and in leu of spreading it out we'll do a sticky note length and photo filled version of the big things that happened!


An unseasonably warm finish to December brought plenty of warm days to walk at Grey's Lake and sit on the front porch for just a bit without getting too chilly. Finals wrapped up the fall semester without all too many bumps in the road, and also brought news that I'd be able to travel down to the Virgin Islands for a week! What a great surprise after finals, and to celebrate being that many months closer to completely my degree. So once final papers, painting critiques, video projects and reflection papers were complete, Geoffrey and I were on our way home with laundry, plants (greenhouse in the backseat), and vacation cloths in tow.


Virgin Islands

1) Gatorade provisioning for a tallship 2) Toes getting ready 3) Rainbows at Ohare 4) Getting the runways cleaned off 4) My bag!

I've never been to the US or British Virgin Islands before..until last January I had never been that far south or in the middle of the ocean. Just like my arrival in Nassau (both times I suppose, for Lead at Sea and my Transit North) there is a special level of excitement, relaxation, and eagerness to explore that becomes all you can think about once you see the runway to land. Along with that, I knew that Jonathan would be there waiting which made it all that much better.

Once we found my bag, got a hotdog, and hopped in the taxi (large 12 passenger vans that zoom around the island on the wrong side of the road and up and down mountains and around corners that you don't think are big enough to stay on the road, or even the side of the mountain) we made our way to Red Hook and the American Yacht Harbor were the Liberty Star is docked for the weekend to re-provision and get cleaned up for the next round of guests.

1) I Spy Islands 2) Landing! 3) Good to be back on deck 4) Welcome Aboard! 5) Amigos Margaritas = So Good 6) Dock!

Vacation fun started pretty shortly after arriving in Red Hook.. a wonderful little restaurant/bar called Amigos makes really great margaritas, so Jon and I headed there for some yummy treats to start the evening off. The rest of Saturday evening was great to get to know the Red Hook area and adjust back to ship life. Sunday morning was back to deckhand and assistant duty, helping get shore power fixed up, captain's laundry done, and everything ship shape for the guests. Later that evening it was great to get to meet the guests that would become friends by the end of the week.

From there on out it was trip planning and getting to know the passengers; we stayed docked for the evening and left early Monday morning. First stop was Jost can Dyke to clear through British customs and have lunch. For the remainder of the week we 'zig zagged' our way clockwise around St Thomas. The trip differs week to week in the small details, but follows a general pattern so take best advantage of currents and wind patterns. Some highlights from my trip in December included visiting the Bubbly Pools and passing the very dark barked poison trees on the way, sunrises along rocky edged mountainous islands, meals on deck surrounded by amazing blue skies and rainbows or under full moon and star like skies, celebrating the Full Moon at Trellis Bay, visiting the Baths at Virgin Gorda and crawling through amazingly large but well worn boulders, sailing with full sail and heeled over, visiting the Willy T near Norman Island (floating bar... used to be a tall ship, now has been converted to bar including spiral staircase), and sailing back at sunrise to clear customs before heading home to snowy cold Illinois. 

The trip really was a dream. Having completed the semester just days before, and not knowing I was actually going until just a few weeks before was really a great treat. Relaxation, loading up on Vitamin D, getting to see Jonathan, and make some new friends along the way made me even more excited for the next trip and all of the adventures that I have yet to really imagine. 



After the whirlwind of finishing the semester and traveling it was time to return home. What to tell here? Mostly... Puppy Cuddling, Grandma's Birthday, Pupply Cuddling, White Strand Lights, Christmas, Pottery Painting/Drinks with Mom, Napping, New Years, Birthday, Puppy Time, then back to Des Moines (when the Taurus hit 100,000 miles and switched over to 000000.0!). 

January Term

This January I took a course called Field Mammology. In this course we visited the zoo a few times. Well, we actually visited the zoo to observe first hand the things we discussed in class... such as leg movements and walking behaviors, teeth and eating styles, special features such as horns, fur and skin, and overall behavior that you can't see from a book. It was a fast three weeks with memorizing family names and significant features (the difference between a vole and a mouse?), as well as identifying skulls and preserved specimens in the lab. I really enjoyed the time learning more about ecology to build on previous courses, being outside working on a research projects (Do Eastern Grey Squirrels have preference for where they build Dreys - there leaf structure homes?), and of course visits to the zoo (reminding me of classes I took years ago during summer at all at home). Once again, some photos of the experience...


Laundry Bag Sewing Project

This month I also completed a sewing project! This laundry bag only took me about two evenings to finish, and just arrived in the Virgin Islands to be loaded with its first load of laundry. I mostly used this pattern, but did make some modifications. Modifications: Instead of a zipper pocket I made a 'pouch' like pocket, like an envelope, that had a top flap sewn about an inch down from the top edge of the larger bottom flap. I also added an additional pocket, just for some extra support. The fabric for the base is a heavier canvas, like what I would use to paint on, and instead of making each fabric equally part of the project I did choose to have more solid blue canvas than regular duck (like the top pattern). Lots of reinforcing with this project, and even made my first button hole! (This bag was included in a package sent down to Jonathan including movies, a decked out nalgene message in a bottle, candy, cookies, and Wooden Boat Magazine)


How was that for an update? I'll get on here some more this month. I've got a Year 22 list going, a Last Semester in Des Moines list, and a Live Like College Kids list going with a friend ( mostly goofy things and places we need to visit before we leave here. 

On the list for the rest of the evening? Finishing my cake and yummy mixology result while re-charching before Spring 2014 begins!