Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Treaure Re-Found

Meet Plantathera x canbyi a new resident of the Nassawango Creek Preserve on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

My good friend JC in Albuquerque sent me a neat link today to the Washington Post article about its discovery. Seems this is a naturally occurring hybrid of the white fringed orchid (white, duh!) and the crested yellow orchid (orange). Both of its parents are considered rare and are protected, and this offspring has only been found once before in Maryland - and that was nearly 20 years ago.

Can you imagine having a job in which you go out and look for rare plants? Doesn't that sound like fun? Actually, it was a little more trouble than that. Apparently they burned some 10,000 acres this spring in an attempt to clear out opportunistic and invasive species and to see what native species would then have the opportunity to re-emerge. In addition to this pretty little orchid, there were several species of spurge.

In case you would like to see Canbyi's parents, here they are, too:

"mom" and "dad"


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Coinjock to Portsmouth


Today was our last day of travel and we don't really want to get home! It has been a great two weeks. Today we did the reverse of the first day - running up the North Landing River to the southern branch of the Elizabeth River and then on into Norfolk. We ran the bridges and locked thru at Great Bridge as we did coming down. Time-wise it's the longest day, because one must stop at many bridges and wait for their next opening. Today we waited as long as 45 minutes. It seems to me that they are timed for traveling southbound, rather than northbound, but that may not be correct.

We arrived in Portsmouth around 1:00, but had left before 8:00 this morning to make the first bridge. Everyone is tired and hot this afternoon, so not much is going on. Mitchell took one guy to a supply store to buy a gasket, and I have already packed my stuff, but we still have a cocktail party, dinner and one last night on the boat. We will help Don cast off in the morning, see the rest of the boats off to Deltaville and Osborne Landing, and then head up 64 ourselves.

I have learned at lot of things over the past two weeks. Among them:

Four people can vacation together without killing each other. This was our biggest fear - that one of us [well, me] would succumb to lack of sleep or food and get.... can you say "bitchy"? it did not happen. I weathered my shoulder problems early in the trip and Mitchell's illness in the middle in good humor. On the days I felt badly, I was able to find ways to keep to myself a bit and never acted out. One point for me!

When docking, the wind wants to push you away, so the windward bowline goes on first. We learned this the hard - and very public - way at Albemarle Plantation. We have done it perfectly every time since - including today when the wind whipped up at the last minute. Don has twice complimented us on our good line-handling skills. One for both of us.

Wifi is only available some places, but crab pots are everywhere! There have been several places that promised wifi, but the signal was not strong enough to access even email. It has been good for me to not be able to check email every day. I have currently gone three days without checking my office email. They can live without me, and I without them. Good lesson. One more point.

You can't get a manicure on the Sound. Well at least not without a car. I tried in Manteo - two employees, not working, who told me that the soonest they could work me in was "tomorrow afternoon". At Edenton the nail shop was closed on Saturday. There was not one in Columbia, altho the clerk at Farm Fresh clearly had gone somewhere 'cause hers were great! And in Elizabeth City there was no manicurist working that day. They could call around and see if anyone wanted to come in.... if I really wanted, and could wait several hours. So I have managed a new broken nail nearly every day for the past 10 days! I shall tip Ahn extra on Monday. No points awarded.

They don't do crepe murder in North Carolina, and good for them! Five points to the good folks of North Carolina.

Those 18th century folks sure liked their cemetery monuments - angels of many sorts, obelisks, and animals galore in the old cemeteries. Makes our modern ones look pretty boring. I am thinking of collecting photos of them for a while. No points yet.

This is a gorgeous country and we don't take enough opportunities to explore it. The early settlers must have thought they had found the land of milk and honey. It is simply gorgeous from the water - marsh mallows growing all over the marshes (duh), egrets, herons and wading birds in the shallows, and ospreys on every other marker post. [Of course, the early settlers didn't find marker posts!] You can just see the opportunity - at least in the places where there aren't condos wall-to-wall, and clearly someone already saw the opportunity there. Ten points to the U.S. and minus two for the condo developers.


A two-week vacation is a bit too long. It's really nice to be home. We are both pretty tired this afternoon - well, four loads of washing and drying will do that any old time. We saw the boats off from Portsmouth a little after 8:00 this morning and then fought the traffic back home. I think I would have liked to come home on Friday to have a couple of days to decompress before going back to work. Two weeks away from work was fine - if you know what I mean.

Hope you have enjoyed our journey. If you are interested in seeing more photos, I will eventually upload them all to Kodak Gallery. There are about 200, so let me know and I will give you the address when I have it.

Elizabeth City to Coinjock

The run from Elizabeth City to Coinjock was interesting - especially since I had slept thru it coming in, so it was all new to me. Who knew that there is a Coast Guard Air Station there? Certainly not I. We met a CG flier who is living in our marina. He told us that they train all the rescue swimmers there, so it's important to recreational boaters as well as "real" seamen. There is also a blimp base of some sort. The only blimp in evidence is a weather station that is permanently tethered, but there is a huge hangar for blimps that is easily seen from the waterway. There are also a number of very nice neighborhoods right on the water. Clearly the suburbs of Elizabeth City extend a long way.

We ran down the Pasquotank River back to the Sound and then turned immediately north up the North River to head to Coinjock. It is located midway between the North River and the Currituck Sound on a canal that was constructed between the two bodies of water. The Currituck Sound is so shallow at its southern end that it is not navigable for most boats, so the canal was built 100 years ago to create a deep channel for shipping and transportation. The "cut" winds thru the marshes and is a pretty cruise. Don had me take the helm for most of that part of the trip, altho I relinquished it at the bridge - about 150 yards before arriving at the marina.

This is the same place that we stayed two weeks ago on our first night underway. It has a nice pool - where many of us spent a good bit of the afternoon - and a good restaurant. Coinjock is a tiny little wide spot in the road, altho it is smack in the middle of the Land of the Midgetts and the birthplace of my stepdad. It's really just a place for laying up overnight before taking the last run up to Norfolk. There's really nothing to see or do (except fish from the dock).

Yesterday nearly everyone was tired and a bit out of sorts. Today it seems that most of us have gotten a second wind and are "up and perky" again. It may be like the seventh inning stretch.

It occurs to me that I have not described the evening ritual cocktail party. Regardless of the activities of the day, we have gathered every evening at 5:30 for cocktails - sometimes on a boat, sometimes on a dock, or sometimes somewhere we have discovered. There was a list prepared well in advance of who is responsible for h'ors d'oerves each evening. One couple dropped out at the last minute, so Mitchell and I took their assigned day. It was also arranged so that the people who only spent the first week with us did their turns first, so we have all done this week. Now we are out of assignees, so we are pooling whatever we have left. MA is quite wrapped up in the planning and execution of each evening's cocktail party, so we are the first to know of any change in plans. Everyone brings his or her own beverage, altho one couple supplied Margaritas three evenings. She had won the poker run pot, and donated her winnings for the purchase of tequila.

After dinner we sometimes split up and go different places for dinner, but more often all show up at the same restaurant. We have overwhelmed several establishments by arriving en masse. We ate spaghetti on the boat two nights, which was fun, but have mostly eaten the local seafood everywhere.

I'm sorry to be heading into the very last leg of this wonderful vacation. Stay tuned.