Friday, July 26, 2013

Home in Michigan Spring 2013

Sorry these are out of order but we're motoring away from Australia and this is the last minute of internet, so I just threw the pics out there for you to see.  Ciao until Indonesia, now.

We came home to Higgins Lake, Michigan in early March.  My mother-in-law thought we were crazy to come home at that time of year!  We landed in Traverse City under a low ceiling of snow clouds that soon began to snow.  And this was after 44 hours of traveling from Brisbane, Australia.    We flew Virgin Australia International and I was impressed by the roominess, the food and drinks that were still free.  The personal entertainment center at every seat had me captivated the entire way home.  I had to tear myself away to try to sleep.  But we had 18 hours of layover in LAX so we got some sleep on the floor of the food court there.  Ah, the luxury accommodations of us travelers, eh?

We rented a car in Traverse City and drove to the cottage.  Just to see that the driveway was full of snow and there were huge icicles hanging from the roof.  We carried on to the Hilltop Care facility where Jason's Dad had been interred since February after a trip to the hospital caused more harm than good.  He was getting frail and his 87-year-old heart just wasn't doing its job very well anymore.  He had fluid buildup in his legs and had great difficulty standing or walking, so spent most of the time sitting in a wheelchair.  That's me, Jason and Ed at Hilltop Care Facility.

Over the next two months, we spent a lot of time visiting Ed at Hilltop with Jason's Mom, Stella.  She'll be 90 this September (we share the same birthday on 27th) and we tried to help her with the issues that crop up with keeping a house, car, accounts and an ailing husband.  We helped her check out some assisted living locations as a possible next step, and got the boxes out of the basement to go through their life memories and mementos to start cleaning out the house for possible sale and just to lighten the load for the future.  We found old tax records that dated back over 30 years, so there was lots of old stuff to be tossed and burned.  We had a few bonfires by the lake to clear out her stuff and some of our own.

It was nice to experience the winter for a short bit, but we were glad when the ice finally started to give way.  We finally did see all open water just a few days before we left in May.

The ice on Higgins Lake finally starts to break up.  The sheets of ice flow with the wind and eventually pile up on some shore.

Frost on the window in the door.

Our cottage at Higgins Lake.

Our view from the front door over the frozen Higgins Lake.

Some of the ice sheets piled up on our neighbor's sea wall.  It slides up and falls over, often sounding like shoveled broken glass tinkling.

Icicles on our roof.

Jason dressed warmly inside the cottage, going through the 2 year's worth of mail we'd accumulated.

Karen, Jason and Ed at the care facility

Freezing and refreezing of the lake near our shore created some slush.

Our backyard, looking out towards the road.

Our wedding announcement and photos on the bookshelf.  Even then we had a nautical theme.  This looks just like our view when we have our dock in the lake.

Some of my shells I brought home and displayed on the mantle along with Jason's parents in a photo.

Starting to see open water along the shore, just before the ice started to break up into sheets.

More shoreline open water.  Its so clear, and cold.

sticks and twigs await the match for a fire in our front yard fire pit.

The rocks and ice at our shore

An ultralight was flying and landing on the ice one day.  Looked like lots of fun.

Rabbits at the bird feeder in our side yard.

Some of my shell treasures displayed on the bookshelf now.

The Trautzes: Stella, Jason and Ed

Stella, Jason's nephew Jeff, Jason in green parka, Karen in earmuffs, and Jason's neice, Katie at Stella's house across Higgins Lake from us.  It was cold!  And we left Australia for this weather???

The ultralight flying above the ice.

We spent lots of time researching and ordering parts to take back to YOLO in Australia.  Buying them and shipping or paying for the extra luggage charges is still cheaper than buying them in Oz.

We flew back on May 4th and landed on May 6th in Brisbane.  Jason's birthday of May 5th just disappeared this year, so we'll claim he's a year younger now.  The international date line does it's thing....

We found out that Ed passed away from heart failure 5 days after we left.  So we got to see him in his last best days and we were glad we went home this year. 

I took a week and flew to Colorado to visit my family there and had an Intensive Karen week, getting all the siblings together to do family photo shoot and have a barbeque.  I landed and took off in blizzards in Denver, but the weather in between was great and the snow made everything beautiful.

Mom, brother Tom and I went to Black Hawk to give our money to the gaming machines there.  We played all morning and were back in time for Tom to go referee his lacrosse games that afternoon.  They got cancelled because of the snow most of the week, but we did get to see my niece, Megan, play in town for the Mesa team from Grand Junction.  They lost but it was nice to see her; she's grown into a beautiful, tall Lynch lady.

I got to see a several old high school friends and had a couple of lunches with Randy, Annette, and Carol.  Life is treating us all with a different hand, but our health seems to be OK for a bunch of old farts.  We don't feel old yet, though.

My youngest brother, Jim, and his wife, Holly had their 2nd child shortly after I left.  I've only ever seen Holly pregnant!  Their first son, Scotty, was a treat to play with and squeals of joy echoed through their beautiful home as he jumped in the trampoline with some big exercise balls.  He is now a big brother to Abby, a pretty little girl. 

Dad and Linda had a big barbeque and we had a great feed while visiting
with them and the family there.  Sister Chris and her beau Al drove to Denver to bring the full family together and we always had a Scrabble game going in any down time.  She arranged a photo shoot of us kids and Mom and the studio took 70 shots of all different types.  They made a great book for Mom to keep and we all got wallet pictures so we don't forget what each other looks like.  My favorite is this last shot they took where we all looked goofy, pretending to see a squirrel in an imaginary tree.  Chris, Tom, me in the back and Jim and Mom (Carol) in the front.

Jim giving Scotty airplane rides to Mom in her kitchen.

Mom and Tomas in her kitchen.  Good things come out of this room!

Jim holding Scotty, me, Tom and Mom in Mom's family room in Aurora, CO.

Me taking shot of Randy and me.  I'm not very good with the arm length shot.  We were pals in high school.

Tom and Megan Lynch after the lacrosse game at Regis in Denver.

Jim and Holly with Scotty on their family sized pillow chair.

Me and Chris in back, Linda, Dad, Jim and Scotty in front.

Me, Chris, her boyfriend Al, Scotty in Holly's arms in back.  Linda, Dad and Jim on sofa at Dad's house.

Annette, Carol and me at lunch.  We all hung together in high school and we still keep in touch.

A better shot of us 3 gals in front of the fire in the restaurant.  Of course, it was a Mexican restaurant.

The ice piling up on our shore at Higgins Lake.

A close up of the ice crystals.  It's like a giant honeycomb of tinkly glass.

Some of the ice crystals are quite sharp.  They are very delicate, though, and break apart readily.

Yes the snow did finally disappear.  Our hoist and van that we'd normally use to launch our Hobie Cat into the lake.  But it sits in storage as we sail on our catamaran, YOLO now.

A squirrel hanging from the birdfeeder in the side yard.

The squirrel found a way to beat the squirrel-resistant feeder.  The bar pulls down a window that blocks the opening to the birdseed, but if they hang off the end, they can still reach up and snag a few sunflower seeds.  I really do enjoy watching the critters when I'm at the cottage.  I miss the squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, etc. when we're sailing in the tropics.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Darwin area July 2013

We took a family out in Fannie Bay near Darwin to watch their son race in the A-Class Catamaran Championships.  This is a picture of Jason and Karen on YOLO from our spectator spot out on the water.

Thomas Stuchbery, their son, was the Junior class champion.  This is him as he came flying past our boat when we were anchored out to watch.  These cats really fly and with a bit of wind, they spend a lot of time on one hull.  We were told that if the mast hits the water (they capsize) they must buy a case of beer for the other participants. We saw 3-4 hit the water on the gusty days.
 Our 'tinny', the aluminum dinghy on the beach on a trolley at Fannie Bay.  The Darwin Sailing Club provides use of the dinghy trollies as the tide goes so far out and its soooo hard to drag a dinghy across so much wet sand.  Notice the 2 poles in the center of the photo.  They are a careening grid, two I-beams joined by cross cables that the yachts use to beach themselves on the flat sand to clean the bottom or do chores on the underside of the boat.  When the tide goes out, they are left high and dry til the next tide comes in.  So you can get 6 hours or more of work done on the underside of your yacht without getting wet.  Not many places have the perfect sandy beach to do this, so lots of folks took advantage of the beach to do bottom work.

A Fannie Bay sunset.  We're just around the corner from Darwin proper and we have a short bus ride into the central business district from Fannie Bay.

The amphibious bus, the Croc.  It drives around Darwin and then down a ramp right into the water.  It circles around the bay and then back out.  Pretty cool, but a local said the vehicle is tearing up the sea grass that the dugong used to come here to eat, so they are seeing fewer dugongs these days.

Remnants of the old Parliament house. 

 A shot of the Parap Saturday morning market, a short walk from Fannie Bay.  Vendors here sell fruits and veges as well as prepared foods.  We found a butcher here that sells "chilli buffalo sausages" that are the best substitute for spicy chorizo we've found.  Usually the sausages are very bland, but we found the buffalo very lean and tasty.  We haven't tried the kangaroo steaks they sell in the store, though.

 1920 car and truck chassis at the Automobile Enthusiasts Club in Parap. They operate out of the old 1934 QANTAS hangar that was used in the war.  You can see schrapnel damage inside the building still,

Brown's Mart, an old stone building from 1870s that had made it through the cyclones in Darwin.  It is now a music and restaurant venue.

Old vehicles inside the old QANTAS hangar.

An old Ford Model A in the museum/hangar.  The place was free to visit, too.

This poor old car was outside in the elements.  Not sure of the date or make.

The bee eater birds at the Darwin Sailing Club help themselves to leftover food and drink.

Paper wasp nests hanging from a street sign outside the Northern Territory free museum.  The museum has a lot of interesting Aboriginal art and artifacts.  They also have a sound room that plays a recording taken during Cyclone Tracy in 1974 that virtually destroyed the city.  The cyclone wiped out 60% of the structures in the town.  The new buildings are built to a stricter building code, but we find the architecture in Darwin quite ugly.

An entry in the Lion's Beer Can Regatta held at Mindil Beach.  Jason and I took the dinghy over and joined the record crowd to watch the silly race.  This entry was mostly XXXX Gold beer cans plastered onto a floating structure.  Their hats were all adorned with beer cans, too.

Another entry in the Beer Can Regatta.  The bright red really stood out amongst the entrants.

Not a winner, but this croc design was a cute entry.
 This croc entry was another favorite of mine for its design.  They claim they haven't seen crocs just here, but there were 305 crocs removed from 'the Darwin area' last year.  So we think its ok to join the hundreds of folks who wade in the shallows.  Thank goodness, as we must get wet up to our knees every time we land or launch the dinghy at shore.

The Wimbeerton entry in the race, playing tennis on their beer can court.

Jason cooling his heels on Mindil Beach during the regatta.

Jason and Karen in the crowd at Mindil Beach for the Beer Can Regatta.