Friday, July 30, 2010

Room At The Mark!

The day was rainy. It poured the whole first half. Suddenly, in mid afternoon... it stopped. There were still clouds around, but it looked like we were going to be able to get out and sail! Brittney has moved home and has settled right in this week. Steve had her out there hooking sheets up to the sail before we were even out of the gap.

We had only two boats in our fleet. Milky Way, and us. There were 10 boats total out tonight. Brett is back from his summer travels and we're glad to have him aboard. He fell right back into his duties. We had a very close start and fought boat for boat at the gap to see which boat would make it out first. We squeaked by Milky Way and headed for the first mark.

The fleets split, Milky Way went right, we went left. We sat the high side in the gentle breeze. It felt like Fall. No heat, not so humid. It was fabulous out there tonight!

We tacked over to the lay line for marker #2 and caught a dramatic 45 degree wind shift against us. We had to scramble to tack to minimize lost ground. This shift was in MW's favor and we were both charging to the mark. We tacked right as they were coming up to it and we had some tense times. Bruce assures me that he was not nervous at all and that we were in complete control.
It was beautiful looking back towards our beloved CC with the dramatic cloud cover and the lowering sun. The boats starting after us were slowly catching up.
Bruce was in his element with Steve trimming sails and plenty of people on the rail. What a way to break up a brutal work week!

There was a bit more excitement as we came near the second mark. I realized that nearly the whole fleet was converging on the mark at the same time. I got it all on digital for your enjoyment...

There were no casualties... this is after all... sailboat racing. We had a beautiful sail back to the finish. We had some more tense times inside the gap as the winds had been steadily dropping. The winds were on our nose and we had to tack our way to the line.
We had a total wind shift of 90 degrees by the end of the race. We ghosted over the line and headed for the slip where we enjoyed another hour with friends on this strangely fall-like evening.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BYC Saturday Series Race #6

We're over the halfway mark for the BYC Saturday Race series. There will be a total of 8 races and today we did number 6. We had our boat full of able crew with Clay, Steve, Jacque, Mark and Brenda.

The forecast was perfect... 10 to 15 knot winds and nothing but sunshine. We headed out at our start with Brenda on point.

Melissa, Brittney and her boyfriend, Matt joined us as well. Brittney has moved back home with Bruce and I. She arrived with all of her worldly belongings, including a cat and a dog, on Friday. We left the house in total disarray to come out today and play!

We started at just after 12:30 and the first mark was number 71. This is the wellhead out near #3. It was a nice upwind leg. We rounded the mark after passing 2 boats. We tacked just inside Brigadoon.

I took the helm so that Bruce could go forward to set up the sails for the downwind leg. He took Matt up with him to begin making a Sailor out of him. Matt seems a willing good sport about it all. We're always looking for able bodied young crewmen.
Once they got it all set, the crew went forward to distribute the weight. Fortunately for them, that's where the shade was .

I was not alone at the helm however... I did have some who stayed back with me to provide moral support.
Steve was giving me pointers and instruction on where best to be. We made up some time on the first downwind leg as well.
We rounded #1 and headed right back up to #71 again. Bruce took the helm for the upwind part but once around and headed for the finish line, he turned it over to me again.
This was the time to relax. The crew flocked back to the foredeck and the shade. This is the kind of sailing the kids like.
We kept an eye on the competition... but figured there would be no surprises at this point. The only boat out ahead of us was Agape. And they were WAY ahead.
I was glad to have the kids aboard and am really hoping that now that Brittney has moved back to CC, she'll join us often and will develop more interest in our hobby. She and Matt were up on deck sharing some quiet time in anticipation of his departure on Sunday morning for San Antonio. We'll keep her busy and out of trouble! We ended up with a solid second place today and had a great time out sailing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

6th Anniversary Weekend/Melissa's 29th Birthday

Weeks ago, Melissa somehow talked me into agreeing to go Zip-lining for her 29th Birthday. I figured the day would never come so I said OK... The day has come. In my usual fashion, I made a simple thing into a Weekend to Remember. We drove to SA on Friday night so we could get a jump on the drive to Llano. We had a reservation at the Dabbs Hotel for Saturday night.

Bruce and I were apprehensive about how the kids would feel about the "rustic-ness" of the place, but we were pleasantly surprised. Apparently the old Haunted Railroad Hotel has been completely renovated. It still has all of the old charm, but with more bathrooms and central air conditioning. We checked in and the Hotel Manager handed us the keys, told us we had the place to ourselves and said "I'll see you in the morning what time do you want coffee?" We chose our rooms and did some exploring around the grounds.

We set out to check out the town and found several Antique stores within walking distance. I always love to browse around... you never know what you'll find.

Brittney brought her boyfriend, Matt along for the ride. Poor guy, he had no Idea what he was in for by agreeing to go on a weekend with us! He did pretty well at holding his own.

Melissa is only able to tolerate so much of shopping of any kind. Here she is trying to look interested... but I could tell her patience was wearing thin here. Matt was there to provide moral support.

We shopped around until almost 4pm at which time I announced "I'm hungry, we skipped lunch, and I insist on going to Coopers!" If you are unfortunate enough never to have had the BBQ from Coopers, you have missed a treat. Texas Monthly did a great write up on them and gave them the title of "Best BBQ in Texas" and it's no lie.

We picked out an assortment of meats and the usual fixin's and took it all back to the Dabbs. This really should be on every one's list of things to do before they die. We ate to our heart's content, then spent the afternoon relaxing in the AC.

The kids fooled around with their Pixi Sticks...

We turned on the music channel on the TV and did some impromptu dancing...

I was leading until the end! You know... our 6th Wedding Anniversary is the 18th of July. What better way to celebrate than spending it making more wonderful memories with my love and my kids.

We took a short nap and then ventured outside... the sun was dropping and it was finally cool (or at least not hot) enough for us to go forth. We set out on the railroad tracks that ended just outside of the Hotel. The Dabbs was an old "end of the line" stop in the Wild West days.

We explored the caboose... see here, Bruce playing "Throw Momma from the Train".

And here are the girls and I playing "Nell Fenwick" (of Dudley Do Right fame) as we lay helpless in front of the oncoming train!

I'm sure Bruce and Matt were thinking... I have no idea what they were thinking as the girls and I played with the train. Oh c'mon! We had nothing else to do!!!

Nightfall found us all back at the Hotel, not a little apprehensive about how the ghost of Mrs. Dabbs would feel about our intrusion of her space. We had picked up some bubble bath at the store across the way and I made good use of the beautiful claw foot bathtub in one of the downstairs bathrooms. I felt a little bad about the fact that we used every bathroom in the hotel. Well... he said we had the run of the place!

After an un-spooked night, we woke up on our Anniversary to a beautiful still Hill Country morning. Bruce and I had coffee on the back porch overlooking the Llano River. It was serene!

The kids got up and came downstairs just in time for a very nice breakfast made by the Hotel Manager... Toe Knee. (I guess that's how Tony gets people to remember his name).

We ate, packed up our stuff and drove off on the winding hill country roads towards Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, where we would zip-line from tree to tree like flying squirrels. We arrived almost an hour early so the kids got hold of a basketball and shot some hoops.

Melissa was actually pretty good...

Except I'm not really sure what's happening here!

Bruce and I sat by the pond in the shade and watched the kids run around.

Even Brittney finally got into it.

And she was pretty good too! Where did they learn to shoot baskets?!!

She looks almost as surprised as I am that she made these shots!

So then Matt gets back into the action. Brittney is no match... but...

She has an advantage. The young man is trying to woo her. So he has no chance!

We tired of that and took a stroll to check out the grounds. I found a hole with some kind of lizard inside. We got too close and the lizard ran off leaving behind these two eggs. I went back about 30 minutes later to see if the Momma had returned but she had not. Some crappy Momma she is! I could have had tiny little lizard omelets by now.

It was surely becoming hot enough to fry an egg on a rock. Melissa found a nice place to hang out while we waited for our time to go.

We were really becoming impatient... when finally, our guide, Robert, came to get us going. He turned out to be quite the little stinker!

Luckily, he had the lovely assistant, Nelly to soften his character flaws. Melissa jumped right out there and took the lead. She had done this before on a date.

She wasted no time in luring the rest of us out with her so that she could do it again without having to be all nervous.

I was proud of the way both of the girls just jumped right in there and did it. Brittney had the biggest grin on her face!

Nellie just hooked Britt on and away she zipped!

Matt went next... no problem for him... he climbs trees for a living!

Next, Bruce! He made small talk with the lovely Nell. It seems that she's a diver and her family has a sailboat. Small world...

Off he went!

At that point, my excuses ran out. It was just me and Nellie. I looked back to see if I thought I could beat her to the ladder... but then I thought, no... the kids are counting on me to do this. So I gulped and hooked on.

It turned out to be kind of OK. After the second zip, we came upon a span bridge. There was a slower group up ahead of us and we had some time to kill. The Evil Robert suggested "Bridge Wars" and Melissa and Matt volunteered. Rules, first one who can make the other take their hands off of their helmet or fall off three times, is the winner. Melissa and Matt couldn't make the other fall, so the Evil Robert got out onto the bridge and did his work. Here it all is on video.

Afterwards, we spanned the bridge and another line or two, then we took a short stair back to solid earth! I was never so happy in my life! This zip-lining thing is not so much scarey... as just kind of uncomfortable. I was nervous about it the whole time. I never knew what the Evil Robert would do to try to shake things up.

I did well, no short landings, no crashes. Very neat landings if I say so myself. But I was nervous! The whole time! I was quite glad when we finally got to the last bridge to land.

Now that it's over, I can look back on it with a bit of a feeling of accomplishment... but Bruce and I talked it over... if we ever get the chance to go zip-lining again... maybe we'll skip it! We wouldn't have missed it. The kids had a great time. It was kind of neat... but... it's checked off of the list for now! what better way to spend our Anniversary than to defy death together!