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Laura Domela
Portland, OR
Adventures in travel, technology, and style -- via sea, land, and air
Interests: Airstream, Nordic Tug, travel, camping, boating, cruising, San Juan Islands
Recent Activity
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 7 This morning at Port Harvey, George was down on the dock delivering fresh homemade cinnamon rolls before we headed out: How great is this? We've got to stop back by here on our way south. Next stop: Pierre's at Echo Bay. We headed out of Port Harvey, toward Transit Point, up Havannah Channel and on to Chatham Channel, to Knight Inlet, east of Midsummer Island, below Bonwick Island, past the tribal community at Health Bay, through the Fox Group to Cramer Passage and on to Echo Bay. All was calm and clear for our whole scenic cruise today. It was gray this morning, but by the time we got to Pierre's the clouds disappeared and the sun came out. Pulling into Pierre's Echo Bay: Mad Dog Mike, Mark Bunzel, Pierre Landry, and Margaret, assisting the arriving boats: Cabernet, the Krogen 48, has a dog aboard (named Bailey) and it's always fun to watch the "host dogs" get super excited about having another dog around. This is Pierre's Golden Doodle (Echo) greeting Bailey: Our new spot (next to Thelonius): No sooner did we arrive than Mark and Pierre got Kevin involved in helping solve... Continue reading
Posted 2 hours ago at Riveted
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Here's how far we've come so far (different color for each travel day): This afternoon when I pulled up one of our crab traps, I found a very strange thing. There was a fish attached to the outside of the crab trap. He looked as if he had been, um, food for something else down there. As I was trying to get him loose from the crab trap, I realized he was attached to the net by a little protruding piece of cartilage that popped out from the top of his head. He was golden and spotted and had huge green reflective eyes. He looked like a deep sea fish, but like nothing I'd ever seen. He had some little appendages that hung down underneath that looked a little bit like feet... Since we had internet, several of us got to researching online...trying to figure out what the heck this fish was. Computers, tablets, iPhones...all working on the problem. No one in our group had ever seen anything like it. The thing that came out of its head was hard, cartilage, and ended in a tiny white ball that looked like it had little spikes all over it. SUPER WEIRD.... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Riveted
Here's the video that Kevin shot with the quadcopter while we were anchored (and stern tied) in front of Cassel Falls at Teakerne Arm, in Desolation Sound, B.C. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 6 Wow, 5am is really early! We were scheduled to leave Blind Channel at 5:45am sharp, meaning off the docks at 5:30am and waiting in the channel at 5:45am, so the alarm went off at 5am and we made quick cappuccinos and were casting off lines at 5:25am. (We're good little rule-followers, aren't we?) The weather today shifted a bit and we had a low cloud layer for most of the morning. Greene Point Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids were both totally chill this morning (in fact, I didn't even realize we'd gone through Greene Point Rapids until we were about a half an hour past it). We took the slightly longer way to get to Johnstone Strait, and it was a bit choppy when we first entered the strait, but it calmed down considerably as the morning went on. Coming up Havannah Channel and around Broken Islands: Approaching Port Harvey: We are all docked on the long finger dock, and learned from George (the owner) that yesterday he saw a grizzly sow and four cubs along the beach moving past his property. I wish we'd have been here a day earlier! (He said grizzlies... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska -Day 5 Our scheduled departure from Teakerne Arm this morning was a luxurious 9:30am! (We woke up at 6am anyway, but it was nice to have a bit more time to get around before getting under way.) The weather was again gorgeous…sunny and high 70s. Mark pulling up his anchor near the falls: With the stern tie, you just untie the line from one cleat on your boat and then pull it through the ring or cable and you're free without ever leaving the boat: We met up with the rest of our fleet and continued north. American Tug (Big Red) joined up with us at the bottom of Stuart Island (they’d left a week early or so and had planned to meet up with before the rapids): We got to our staging spot just outside Yuculta rapids about a half an hour early, so we hung out and waited until just after the local fish boat headed in, and then followed shortly after. The current in Gillard Passage was the most squirrely, but not bad. We got through and were still about a half hour before slack at Dent Rapids, so we made some lunch... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 4 We left Pender Harbour yesterday morning at 7am, headed for Teakerne Arm. Pender Harbour morning light: Our fleet on AIS, just south of Powell River: The Pacifica Papers pulp mill where they have ten old Liberty Ships as a breakwater: I think this was Savary Island, but it could have been something in the Copeland Islands. The Sunshine Coast was really earning its name yesterday…the weather was gorgeous. Again. Coming around Sarah Point and getting our first view of Desolation Sound: We headed into Teakerne Arm and toward the waterfall. This was our intended spot for the night, right in front of Cassel Falls: Mark asked how many people wanted to stern tie…there were three or four of us who did, and the others were going to try to find a spot to anchor. We’ve never stern tied and it’s a common thing to need to do here in Desolation Sound where it’s mostly really deep, and where it’s shallow enough to anchor, there’s not a lot of swing room. You basically anchor on the slope near the shore with your stern lined up with where you plan to stern tie, hook your... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 3 Yesterday after we got to Silva Bay (Gabriola Island) and got most our work done (we did not rent scooters), we took the dinghy out for a spin to explore the bay. We got pretty close to an eagle sitting in a tree and I was able to get a good series of action shots of it taking off and flying over to another tree. (It's an eagle flip book!): New tree: Back at Airship in time to make a dish to bring to last night's potluck dinner. That's Dorothy, another Nordic Tug on our left, and Adagio, an American Tug on our right. Yesterday's weather was just gorgeous...sunny and in the mid to high 70s. Nice night to sit on the top deck and watch the sunset: Our alarm went off at 5:30am so we could be up and ready for a 6am departure. This flotilla of 7 boats is a lot like the Airstream caravan we did up to Banff a couple years ago. We all monitor VHF channel 68 so we can talk to each other (just like we all had walkie talkies on Channel 5 for the caravan). It's... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 2 Beautiful morning at Salt Spring Marina: Heading out of Ganges Harbour at 7am sharp. That's another Nordic Tug called Dorothy on our starboard side, and a Monk trawler called Thelonius on our left: Here's a better shot of Thelonius: We opted not to do breakfast or shower until we were under way so we could get up a little later (like...6:30am). While under way I made us a spinach, cheese, and chorizo omelet topped with salsa (I forgot the avocado), and then we took turns showering while the other watched the helm. Two from our flotilla (on the left, an American Tug named Adagio and a Kady Krogen called Cabernet) coming through Gabriola Pass just before slack: Our intrepid leader, Mark Bunzel from the Waggoner Guide in his Tollycraft called Sea Raven: Canadian boating snack: dill pickle potato chips: And now here we all are at Page's Resort and Marina in Silva Bay on Gabriola Island, just east of Nanaimo. We're officially the most north we've ever been on Airship. Another shot from up at the marina office. We're all on the second dock back: Here's today's track (28 nautical miles, 4 hours,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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Airship Goes to Alaska - Day 1 We left Anacortes at 7am on Sunday morning, and headed for Bedwell Harbour where we were to clear Canadian Customs before continuing on to Salt Spring Marina in Ganges Harbour (on Salt Spring Island) for our first night. There are 7 boats in the flotilla right now, and we'll be joining up with an 8th in a day or two. Just before 7am, about to cast off lines and leave Cap Sante Marina: Gray and calm heading out of Anacortes: The cruise to Bedwell Harbour was calm the whole way, and when we were about 2 hours out, I called the number listed on our new CANPASS authorization to let Customs know our ETA. Me: Good morning. We're expecting to arrive in Bedwell Harbor at about 11:20am. Customs lady: By boat? Me: Yes. I have our CANPASS numbers here if you'd like them. Customs lady: You have to have NEXUS to call by phone. Me: Hmmm, it says right here on our CANPASS Authorization form to call this number between 30 minutes and 4 hours prior to your arrival at a Canadian Customs port. Customs lady: That's only for private aircraft. Me: The... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Riveted
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Yesterday at Watmough Bay Kevin and I took the dinghy into shore and did a little hike to stretch our legs. Sideways tree: Airship on its mooring ball: Kevin grilled some delicious tenderloins for dinner, and I made a side of zucchini and cous cous and a spinach salad. It was mostly calm in Watmough last night except for the occasional mild ship wake coming into the bay. This morning we got up and I made us some little black forest ham, egg, spinach, and gruyere frittata cups, with a side of berries: After breakfast we cruised over to Rosario Resort on Orcas Island for our last night with Kevin's mom. We thought a little spa time would be a nice way to end a few days cruising around the islands with us. The day morphed from gray drizzle and fog to sunny blue sky gorgeousness: We got our slip at the Rosario marina and then walked up to the mansion to explore a bit. After that, we spent some quality time in the hot tub and the indoor saltwater pool. We really lucked out with the weather this week! We returned to Airship and had a little snack on... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2015 at Riveted
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We left Roche Harbor this morning and headed out to find some whales. It was a good day for 'em! Just as we were coming around Henry Island at the north end of San Juan Island we heard one of the whale watching boats nearby talking about K-dubs (radio code for killer whales) on the radio. We could see this boat (and the orcas) with the new Fuji binoculars (wow, was THAT ever a useful addition to Airship's accessories...will show you in another post), so we headed over toward the growing group of whale watching boats. After watching the orcas from a distance for a while, we heard another nearby boat talking about some HBs (secret code for humpbacks) a little to the north, so we headed up there (with all the other boats). It's quite a bit more fun when you just happen to come across whales as you're going about your cruise, but this was still pretty cool. The boats mostly stay a good distance from the whales (I know it doesn't look like it in this long lens/compressed distance shot above), but it definitely has a different feel when there are 10 boats covered in people watching... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Riveted
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This morning we left Patos Island and headed over to Sucia Island to do another short hike with Kevin's mom. I think Sucia is my favorite of the San Juan Islands. We stopped at the main dock and hiked out to Fox Point. Gnarled tree up on the bluffs: Kevin, showing his mom the way: Trail: Tree texture: Viewpoint: Sad (dead) octopus, being dined on by a lucky seagull: And here's my arty series of tiny rocks with barnacles growing on them: That last rock there is about 1 inch x 1 inch. Tiny! We had dinner tonight at McMillin's at Roche Harbor (delicious!) and I took this fun photo from our table, with the reflection of the ceiling lamp behind us: Back at Airship's slip, the little chapel on the hill was looking particularly photogenic: Tomorrow's plan is to cruise the west side of San Juan Island, around the bottom of Lopez Island and to Watmough Bay for the night. Here's today's cruise: Related articles More Fun in Port Townsend Hiking Sucia Island, and More Chicken 'n Waffles We Moved to Matia Island Scale: Where We've Been and Where We're Going Thunderstorms and Baby Geese in Fossil Bay Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at Riveted
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Kevin's mom flew in this week to hang out with us for a few days before we leave for Alaska, so we thought we'd show her the boat and some of our favorite spots in the San Juan Islands. Yesterday morning we headed for Patos Island (that's Patos there in the distance): Nice light on the lighthouse: We grabbed a mooring ball and headed out to the lighthouse to stretch our legs a bit. Airship from the trail: The dinghy back on the beach: More baby geese: Cool plant on the trail: Airship silhouette: After our walk out to the the lighthouse we took the dinghy for a little spin. A huge bald eagle landed out on the lighthouse as we were rounding the point: Bird ruckus on the water: Looking back into Active Cove at Airship: Once back at the boat we had a little decktop happy hour and then we grilled up some zucchini and fresh halibut topped with a dill creme fraiche. Delicious. The sunset wasn't bad either: Related articles Eagles and Sunsets at Fossil Bay Port Townsend to Stuart Island Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at Riveted
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I was tired of having that canister of bear spray at the top of the blog, so here's a pretty picture of water instead: This is from late December, after Christmas, when we were cruising the back side of San Juan Island with our friends Jake and Patti, looking for whales. Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Riveted
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We purchased a can of bear spray to take with us on our trip up to Alaska recently via amazon.com, and I have to share what is likely the best review of bear spray ever. I may or may not have purchased this bear spray based solely on this review: 152 of 178 people found the following review helpful Yeah buddy. This stuff is for real. By PatriotEd on June 22, 2013 No opportunity to try it on a real bear - thankfully. But a friend of mine tried it on his brother-in-law during a camping trip. His brother-in-law was drinking and got obnoxious. He threatened to kick my friend's ass. My friend is an average size guy but his brother-in-law is huge and burly. He is as big as a bear and nearly as strong. This stuff worked on him big time. It put him out of commission so fast, from at least 15 - 20 feet away, that it scared the hell out of everyone. He was in real pain and could hardly breath. He was on the ground instantly and crying in agony from the pain. And that was from just one blast of this stuff. The... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Riveted
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This was the view from our top deck in Echo Bay at Sucia Island last night as the sun set: And this was our little beggar buddy who hung out by the boat for a while. We didn't give him anything, but I think they must get conditioned that the sound of a generator on a boat means that humans are making food and are often suckers for cute bird antics: Here are a couple more shots from the top deck last night (that's Mt. Baker): Last night was calm and lovely in Echo Bay, but at around 2am the wind picked up, as did the waves, and therefore so did the movement of the boat. This morning we decided to head over to Rolfe Cove on Matia Island for a less rocky night (we hope). Our new view: Here's our 2.5 nautical mile track from Sucia to Matia: Hey! More cute baby geese in Rolfe Cove: After we got settled, I put together a nice brunch for us: a small tortilla topped with wilted spinach, bacon, an over easy egg, salsa, avocado, a little crumbled Cotija cheese, salsa, and then a drizzle of Deke's wing sauce: After brunch we... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2015 at Riveted
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After our kayak excursion around Echo Bay, we took the dinghy in to shore to get a hike in. (That closest white dot there in the bay is us.) We've done this hike before, and written about it and posted tons of photos before, so I only took a few, but man this is a gorgeous hike: We're making the "Healthyish Chicken 'n Waffles" for dinner tonight (making sure we have this recipe down on the boat before Tiffani and Deke join us in Alaska). So far so good. I kicked up the spices in the chicken, and made Deke's special spicy wing sauce (to go with the maple syrup, of course). Tonight is Night No. 120 on the boat! Three weeks until we leave for SE Alaska! Woohoo! Related articles Last Day in Cary, NC The PowerStove™ A Few Things for Airship Thunderstorms and Baby Geese in Fossil Bay Bonus Night Healthy(ish) Chicken & Waffles Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at Riveted
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This morning we left Fossil Bay and headed around the corner to Echo Bay for a change of scenery. We grabbed a mooring ball, made brunch, and then inflated our new Sea Eagle kayak for a test paddle. It's fantastic! We paddled 2.5 miles around the bay: I love getting up close to these alien landscapes out here: It's so nice to have a kayak again! This one inflates and deflates really fast, and we were 25 minutes from unhooking it from the top deck to fully inflated, outfitted, and in the water ready to go. Not bad for our first time with it. (And that's with the manual foot pump...just wait 'til we get the electric pump out here!) And brunch was delicious! A bed of wilted spinach, then fresh crab meat, two poached eggs, topped with hollandaise sauce (awwww, no chives), served with a side of leftover roasted potatoes from last night's dinner, and some greek yogurt with blueberries and raspberries. Super yum, and good fuel for the paddle. It's still pretty choppy in here, so we might head around to the back side of the island to Shallow Bay, and then get in a nice afternoon hike.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at Riveted
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Kevin changed the prop on our dinghy yesterday afternoon (from an 8" pitch to a 7" pitch) and now the boat gets up on plane immediately with two people in it. Before, it would only occasionally get on plane, so we're rockin' now! We took it out for a (fast!) test drive and spotted a couple bald eagles circling above the tree tops: Beautiful light on the bluff: Back to Airship: The wind had died down by the time we got back, so we sat on the top deck for a bit before starting dinner: The sunset here was cloudy but still beautiful: After dinner we just hung out and read a bit. It rained last night for quite a while, and some small swells kept us nicely rocking while we slept. It's wet out today, so Kevin's trying out his Grundens. I'm going to use the rest of the crab I cracked yesterday to make us a little spinach/crabmeat/poached egg/hollandaise Florentine/Benedict kind of thing for brunch later on. :) Not sure yet whether we'll stay here in Fossil Bay or go somewhere else today. Related articles Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island More Fun in Port Townsend Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at Riveted
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We did a bit of shopping this morning in Anacortes (Safeway, hardware store, West Marine, the usual) and then headed out toward...somewhere. This is Cone Island, just east of Cypress Island: We decided to head for Sucia Island, because (1) it's pretty, (2) it's got great hiking, and (3) if the weather cooperates, it'd be a nice place to try out our new kayak. My view under way: Up ahead and to the north we could see a pretty good amount of precip, and then a few blasts of lightning and a little thunder. Ominous, eh? We were headed south of the storm though (and the storm was moving north). Sucia Islands up ahead: Cool purple sky to the north: Layers of islands: We grabbed a mooring buoy in Fossil Bay, and this is our view from the bow (for now): There are several boats on the dock, and a couple more on buoys. Apparently there's a yacht club gathering here this weekend, with many more boats to arrive in the morning. Welcome to the beginning of boating season! We took the dinghy over to the dock to register, and found a pair of geese hanging out with their new... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at Riveted
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Behold, the new faucet: It's an American Standard Fairbury in shiny chrome. It's got a pull out sprayer with spray, stream, and pause, and a single lever on/off, and it's not too big for our fairly small sink. The faucet that came on the boat (below) was a fixed faucet with separate hot and cold controls...and the spout didn't pivot or move at all. It blasted out the stream of water which is cool when you have unlimited water, but made it more difficult to do dishes efficiently when conserving. We did a test before we removed the old faucet to see how long it took to fill our large pot with water. It took about 30 seconds. The new faucet takes just over a minute to fill the same pot (with spray OR stream). The pressure feels normal now, and I'm sure we'll use way less water while washing/rinsing dishes. Love it! Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at Riveted
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We love our Nordic Tug. And we love boating way more than we thought we would. Since the end of September 2014 when we bought Airship, we've spent 118 nights onboard, traveled almost 1800 nautical miles, and run almost 300 engine hours, and we're about to roughly double that with this trip up the Inside Passage to Alaska here in a few weeks. It's pretty clear to us that this "phase" is not a phase. In all the time spent on our Nordic 34, we've learned that there are two things we'd really like to have in the next boat: a bit more storage space, and an extra stateroom for guests. A few weeks ago we went for another visit to the Nordic Tug factory over in Burlington, WA. They've got a new model coming out this year (the Nordic Tug 40...basically the Nordic 39 with some additional secret features). We weren't able to actually see one of these (they're still building the first one), but we've toured several Nordic 39s and while at the factory, we got to hear about a few of the NT40's future features (which are very cool, but we can't tell you about any of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2015 at Riveted
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Yesterday morning we left Port Townsend on the early side (before 9am) and headed north to take advantage of the perfect weather and great conditions for crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And by perfect weather and great conditions, I mean this: So, yesterday crossing the strait we saw Minke whales, and then up on the west side of San Juan Island, we saw a whole bunch of Orcas. I posted about all the whales in a separate post because...well...tons of photos! We were cruising with the current giving us a bit more speed than usual....a pretty strong current: Cool bird with nice face paint: Nice rock formation along the tip of Stuart Island: Lighthouse on Stuart Island: Here's yesterday's track (55.4 nautical miles over 8 hours, including whale watching): (You can see where the whales were in both spots...look for the little circle southwest of Minor Island out in the Strait...that's where the Minke whales were, and the Orcas are where the large doubling back happens off of San Juan.) We grabbed a mooring buoy at Stuart Island State Park in Prevost Harbor and had ourselves a nice deck top happy hour: Look at our cute little neighbor,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2015 at Riveted
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This post will be all about whales. I'll do another post where I tell you all the other cool things about our cruise from Port Townsend north to Stuart Island, but not in this post. This post is the post with all the whale photos. Yesterday in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we got to see our first Minke whales! There were two of them, and they're pretty cool. Kinda boring as far as whale viewing goes (no breaching or tail slaps normally, but I love the perfect wave shape of their dorsal fins. Then, as we got up along the west side of San Juan Island and around Henry Island, ahead of us a ways we saw a couple of big splashes (we think breaches) and eventually came upon a large pod of orcas (technically cetaceans -- part of the dolphin family -- and not whales), including several youngsters!! It was so cool! We turned around and ran parallel with them for about an hour, taking way too many photos. Here is a very VERY small percentage of them. (See the baby peeking out from behind mama?) Orca on its belly with fins in the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2015 at Riveted
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We arrived in Port Townsend yesterday afternoon and headed for what's becoming our usual slip at the Point Hudson Marina, then met up with several friends who were camping here for the weekend: Dave and Ann Zimmerman of Advodna (and their two daughters, Wynne-3, and Mae-9 months), and Kathy Harderson, who is here with a group of gals called The Tin Can Gypsies...all with their super cute vintage trailers. Dave and Ann had us over for an early dinner at their Airstream. We hadn't seen them since last March when we stopped for a visit at their farmlet in Petaluma, CA, and it was really good to catch up! (Plus, they have a new family member since then!) They're on their way to Vancouver Island and then north to Alaska in their Airstream. We'll miss them in Juneau by 10 days or so, dangit! This is Mae and Dave on the beach before dinner last night. Would you get a load of those dimples!?!? Anyway, after a delicious dinner, we stopped in at the vintage trailer camp and met up with Kathy's group and ended up walking down to the boat to give a quick tour. (I think we had... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2015 at Riveted