January 29th 2013 (day 2,068)
Quick Fix: 30° 53.63 N / 102° 17.22 W

 
 




 

 



Quick Fix: 30° 53.63 N / 102° 17.22 W

Fort Stockton, Texas
January 29th 2013 (day 2,068)


A Great Journey
We're close to New Mexico, the sixteenth state on our cruise across America, and it's time to celebrate. Not only because we've almost crossed the great state of Texas, but also because it's my birthday! Catherine surprised me with cake, balloons and presents, and we celebrated on Interstate 10, literally, on a road that joins the east side of America with the west.

The road has been quite long and it's been full of adventure, a few challenges and lots of excitement, and who knows where it's going to lead next. But if it's half as good as where we've come from, we're in for a great journey! - NH




 


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Day 2,062 - Galveston, TX (29° 17.4N 94° 47.3W)
21:51hrs - January 23rd 2013
Last Day At The Beach

It's time to leave the warm beaches of the Gulf behind and head inland, across deserts, around canyons, and over the mountain ranges that lie between us and northern Idaho, which, from what we understand listening to weather reports, is already buried under snow.

Ordinarily snow and a little wind chill factor would not be a concern - we'd be prepared with thick wholly socks, puffy jackets, scarfs, gloves, and of course, sensible shoes. However, as we've been living on a boat in the tropics for the last five years our wardrobe of flip flops, bikinis and board shorts is just a little inadequate, and so somewhere en route, between Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, we'll stop at a thrift shop for some toasty attire (and perhaps even a set of tire chains for the KIA).

We've enjoyed the sights of the deep south, and we've seen a lot - we've clambered all over and inside the USS Alabama (in Alabama) a battleship commissioned in 1942 and armed with no less than 129 guns, nine of which are accurate to 21 miles! Catherine dry steered the USS Drum, a WWII submarine. We visited a Biloxi lighthouse built in 1848, one that has withstood dozens of hurricanes and refuses to budge, even when struck directly with wind gusts to 220 miles per hour by two of Americas most deadly hurricanes - Katrina and Camille. And we partied at a New Orleans Mardi Gras - the Krewe du Vieux, a raunchy parade with floats so graphic we couldn't show photos here without a filter preventing access to minors.

We've got another five weeks on the road, and a lot of road to cover. Next stop - New Mexico!

 
 




 


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Day 2,060 - New Orleans, LA (29° 57N 90° 10W)
20:17hrs - January 21st 2013
NOLA Time

We have both been to New Orleans before but neither of us ever imagined we would see as much of it as we did this time round, and it was all thanks to our friend, the fabulous Jodi Brown. We first met Jodi in 2008 in Guatemala when we were hunkered down in the Rio Dulce for hurricane season. She was travelling and exploring the jungles of Guatemala back then, but now she calls New Orleans home.

We spent 4 days and nights with Jodi eating and drinking and Mardi Grasing our way around every nook and cranny of the city. We saw everything from the inspiring new construction in the flood damaged Lower 9th Ward to “Krewe du Vieux” the first night of Mardi Gras. And ate everywhere from ‘soul food’ gumbo at the Praline Connection in the French Quarter, to Cafe du Monde beignets to Quail at the famous Commanders Palace in the Garden District.

Jodi is one of New Orleans biggest fans and even though she had us try every sugar covered, deep fried, alcohol infused gourmet delight on offer in the city, her home is a little oasis of healthy green living. She made us her signature gourmet green smoothies so thankfully we were able to balance out the crazy NOLA indulgences with some good old fashioned healthy. So if you like smoothies and you like being healthy you can see how to make them at her website: UltimateKitchenCommando.com

Thank you Jodi! Thank you NOLA! Texas here we come!



 



Quick Fix: 29° 57.31 N / 90° 10.21 W

New Orleans
January 19th 2013 (day 2,058)


Party Time!
We've arrived in New Orleans just in time to celebrate 'Krewe du Vieux' - one of the city's earliest parades in the Mardi Gras line-up, and from what we've heard, it promises to be a night of rowdy, raunchy, satirical, uncensored frolicking.

This, we've been told, is not a 'family parade', and as the theme is 'Comes Early' (due to the fact that Superbowl has moved the KDV forwards by a few weeks this year) well, it's not hard to imagine what this adults-only parade has in store for us. We've got beads, we've got cameras and we're ready to party! Stay tuned for photos. - NH



 


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Day 2,051 - N. Captiva Island, FL (26° 36.0N 82° 13.1W)
09:17hrs - January 12th 2013
A Puzzling New Breed of Tiki?

Over the last four years we've encountered tikis all across the South Pacific, from the rugged islands of the Marquesas all the way to remote New Zealand - great imposing stone statues carved from black volcanic rock; ancient tikis buried deep in jungles, features worn flat from centuries of erosion and camouflaged by blankets of lichen; and towering wooden figures, stoic and ominous, each one carved to honor great ancestors, spirits, warriors and chiefs. But recently, whilst exploring the wilds of North Captiva Island in a golf cart, we were surprised to come across an entirely different breed of tiki, one like none we've ever seen before.

We were on a tiki safari, driving deep into the back streets of Upper Captiva Island, when Catherine sighted the first statue nestled away amongst the palms, sporting blue sunglasses, red lipstick and a cheesy grin. Other characters waited for us further along the trail, each with an expression of confused amazement, like somehow they seemed more surprised to see us than we were them.

I wonder what the great Polynesian tikis back in the South Pacific would make of these simple relatives, would they embrace like distant cousins, or would they feud over territory, power and position? Perhaps that's why they're here? Of course, nobody really has the answers to these deep and puzzling questions, we can only speculate and debate, for the legend of these ancient and mythical symbols are too complex and mysterious for us to ever fully understand.





 
 


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Day 2,051 - N. Captiva Island, FL (26° 36.0N 82° 13.1W)
08:51hrs - January 10th 2013
Island Hospitality - Floridian Style

Five long years ago, near the very beginning of our world circumnavigation, when our passports were unstamped and our courtesy and quarantine flags were new and still folded, Catherine and I anchored off our first tropical island. We were in Florida, it was an anxious time for us because we were about to let go of America and sail south, to Cuba. But it's also a happy memory, as it's where we had our first experience of island hospitality - North Captiva style. And we have just returned for more!

It was where we first met Hart and June, 'locals' who, back in 2008, made us feel right at home. We had anchored Dream Time off North Captiva Island, near the end of the 'Salty Approach - the most unique private airstrip in the U.S.', when Hart and June, eager to know more about the boat who had anchored in the middle of their water view, introduced themselves.

Hart and June are a jet-setting team who have lived on the island for thirteen years. Hart is a pilot and has accumulated over 28,000 hours of flying anything with wings (and rotors for that matter) and June was a flight attendant, so together they have ruled the skies. They've spend a lot of time on the water too, so needless to say, we became fast friends.

For a week Hart gave us tours of the island in a golf cart (the only kind of vehicle allowed on the sandy streets of North Captiva). He raced us around in his boat, over to the 'mainland' to gather supplies and to sample some of the local conch chowder, but the most memorable act of generosity, was that they gave two cruisers, two complete strangers, access to their outside warm water shower - which for two cruisers, even new ones in Florida, was a jackpot!

So five years later we thought that while we're back in the area and at the beginning of our 'Cruise Across America', we'd give them a call and keep the tradition alive. It came as no surprise when Hart and June welcomed us back into their lives for a few days with the same generosity we had experienced in 2008.

It began with an email exchange with Hart, who offered to collect us, 'Either by boat, or by plane', and so the next day we found ourselves soaring over the warm waters of western Florida, over anchorages where we had dropped the hook 1,809 days ago, and onto the tiny grass airstrip that borders their property.

For two days we toured the island that marked the beginning of our warm water world cruise. We sped around the network of sandy streets in their golf cart, we searched for alligators on mountain bikes (us not the alligators), we flew their Cessna Centurion 210, we dined, drank, laughed and relaxed, we even got to show them how to open coconuts - Polynesian style! And of course, we took lots and lots of hot showers.

When you're traveling, more often than not it's the people you meet that define the places you visit, so North Captiva will always be a special island to us. Thank you Hart and June for your island hospitality! We'll stay in touch and let's firm-up our rendezvous in the South Pacific (sorry, we'll only be able to offer cold showers).