Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
- "standard" straight pins (2)
- small ball point pins with colored heads (easy on the fingers) (1)
- extra-long pins with plastic heads (1)
- IBC glass head pins (1)
- super-fine glass head pins (1)
- glass head pins, at least 1.5 inches long
- Iris silk pins
- extra-fine glass head pins
- silk pins (consensus here across several people!)
- ball point pins (only 1 person called out this category)
- long, flower-head quilting pins
- long, glass-headed pins
- long-flower headed quilting pins
- safety pins for quilt sandwiches
- long glass-headed pins
- 1/2 inch pins
- double-pronged pins
- longer pins are better than shorter pins
- glass heads are better than plastic heads (primarily because of ironing, but it was also said that plastic heads are more likely to fall off)
- don't buy cheap pins - they can damage your fabric and won't last as long as quality pins
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Today's theme: The Anchorages
While each part of our vacation had it's own surprises and challenges, by far the most "exciting" aspect was finding a spot and anchoring the houseboat down each night. The theory is that you just motor part-way up onto a beach and dig holes in the sand to bury your 2 anchors there, holding your boat in place overnight.
Sounds pretty easy, right? (Well, I thought it did anyways...) But finding a good spot turned out to be tricky. You want the front part of your 2 pontoons to rest snugly in the sand, while the back half of your boat, including the 2 outboard motors, to still be in deep water, so that you can start them up without damaging the propellers.
We thought we had found a good spot on Sunday - our first night (although, in hindsight, we can see from this picture how we were wrong):
As you can see from the threatening sky, a storm was on its way in.
Sure enough, later that evening we were struck by a massive storm - thunder, lightening and torrential rains that created multiple waterfalls along the sides of the cliffs around us! All of this came with fierce winds. We watched in awe from the safety of our cabin, little realizing the potential impact of this storm on us.
At one point we heard a loud noise from somewhere on the boat. It turned out that one of the plastic lounge chairs was blown off the upper deck, into the lake and broken into 2 pieces. We were able to recover the pieces the next morning and, from then on, whenever the wind picked up we used 6 of the 12 life jackets onboard to attach the lounge chairs to the railings of the upper deck.
But that was nothing. It was Tuesday morning, when we were ready to leave, that we learned what the storm had done. It had blown us sideways into a sand bar, and we were stuck, stuck, stuck! :(
We tried for a couple of hours to break free, without success. Finally, we called for help on the marine radio and were told that someone would come out to get us, but we were 3rd in line and it may be a while...
After waiting by the radio for 5 hours, my husband got bored and went out with his life jacket and a shovel - it took him an hour, but he actually dug us free!
Unfortunately, this meant that we were quite late heading out to find our next site. You're not supposed to be on the lake at night - plus we didn't want to be trying to find a site and fix our anchors after dark! - so we were feeling quite stressed as we motored along.
Some kind folks in a speed boat intuited our plight and guided us to a good site:
You can see that the sun was going down as we anchored and took a quick swim to relax...
Other than the stress of getting there before dark, the 2nd site was uneventful. The next morning, we left for our 3rd site. Once again, we had difficulty identifying a good site - this time we wanted to avoid getting stuck in the sand, so we picked a rocky shore and my husband used the rocks to secure the anchors.
Or so he thought! We had another huge wind blow through that afternoon, and somehow it blew one of the ropes right up over and around the rock, pulling one anchor deep into the bottom of the lake. :(
Scott didn't want to unhook the anchor from the boat, as it was still helping to secure the boat - but when he tried to pull up the anchor, it got stuck on something at the bottom of the lake! We were looking at each other like - Are you kidding me? Can't we catch a break here?
Well, amazingly, he had packed 2 long coils of webbing and a handful of carabiners, for us to take on our hikes, in case we ever got stuck out on the rock cliffs somewhere. So, he used our gear to build a second anchor to the shore. Then he was comfortable untying the real anchor from the boat - at which point we were able to pull on the anchor from all different angles, eventually unsticking it and raising it.
As we lay panting on the deck - tired and relieved that it had worked - I commented to my husband, "That was amazing! You're not just some mild-mannered college professor!" His reponse, "But that's all I want to be!"
Of course, our happiness was premature at this point. Our next step was to un-anchor both sides of the boat and head out. I manned the helm and used the steering wheel and outboard motors to keep the boat steady, while Scott collected our handmade anchor and the other real anchor and brought them back to the boat. As he was stowing the real anchor, it slipped out of his control and knocked him on the head! It gave him a cut, and blood started pouring down his face!
I was horrified - watching the blood cover his eyes, his nose, his mouth and his beard - afraid to leave the helm in case the boat drifted and got stuck again. I kept telling myself - it's okay; scalp wounds bleed a lot...
Sure enough, once he got the anchor fully stowed, he came in and cleaned up, and it was a small cut, shallow and less than half an inch long. You can tell I'm a wife first and a photographer second, as I sent him to clean up before it occurred to me to get a dramatic picture. ;)
By now we were feeling pretty stressed out about this whole anchoring business... And we still had 1 more site to go! For our last site, we again got some advice from folks in a speed boat. Scott dug the holes for the anchors very deep!
And every time the wind picked up, we cringed, went on the alert and tried to brace ourselves for another "adventure"...
But we made it through the night without incident and managed to get ourselves and the boat back to the marina the following day, in the right number of pieces - well, okay, 1 extra piece because of the lounge chair going into the drink! ;)
I'm super proud and impressed by how well my husband was able to get us out of those scrapes - oh, I helped, but it was generally his brains AND his brawn that got us out. But it was pretty much right up to the edge of how much "adventure" we like to have...
With time, the sharp edges of the memories will undoubtedly soften and we'll be able to look back on the trip without adrenaline flooding into our systems... But I know one thing for sure. We'll never forget this one! ;)
I have one more picture for you tomorrow...
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Today's theme: Kayaking the Channels
Most people seem to enjoy Lake Powell at high speed - the main waterway and bays were full of motor boats and jet skis. But we rented a kayak and did a lot of paddling in the narrow channels - and we typically had those areas all to ourselves!
We believe that the white layer of rock running horizontally along the cliffs is the high water mark. According to our shuttle driver (and who would know better?) the water level in the lake is currently the highest it has been for the last 10 years.
Sometimes the channels narrowed and the cliff walls towered over us, providing much appreciated shade.
Note that my husband requested that I stop paddling when he took pictures - most of the time I was paddling! Honest!
At the end of each voyage, we'd drag kayak up onto the rocks and go for a hike.
And that brings me to tomorrow's theme - our hikes. :)
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Today's theme: In Transit
Surrounding the boat on every side were red sandstone cliffs. Often it looked like the way ahead of you was completely blocked, and it wasn't until you came right up to the edge that you saw that there were 2 cliffs that didn't touch and there was a passage through on one side or the other...
Navigating from the geography shown on the map turned out to be pretty difficult - in the boat you never had a bird's eye view (like on the map) and the "landmarks" had somewhat unhelpful names like "castle rock" - NOT pictured below, although this looks as much like a castle to me as everything else out there!
Of course, there were numbered buoys in the lake and on the map. It drove my husband crazy because the location of the buoys in the lake only roughly corresponded to the location of the buoys on the map.
Another challenge was assessing distances to things. At least, it was difficult until I figured out this simple heuristic: when you look at an object and wonder how far away it is, it turns out you couldn't go wrong if you estimated that the answer was "far."
The collision was imminent! They watched in horror as events unfolded over the next 10 minutes as if in slow motion...
Yup, it was that fast... ;)
During our entire 6 day trip, we only touched civilization once - when we stopped at the Dangling Rope Marina (see below) to refuel. My husband was at the helm and he slid our houseboat into the slip as smoothly as silk - as if he had been doing it all his life.
Then he realized that (just like in a rental car!) the gas tanks were on the opposite side of the boat. So, he pulled out, circled around and came in again for the other side...
This time, he
crashed bumped into the dock. He was a bit embarrassed, until the attendant told the story of a guy the previous week who had driven his houseboat right up onto the dock, punching a hole in the front of his boat and coming dangerously close to crashing into the gasline pump itself!
Our pictures don't do it justice - it was like the rocks were glowing from within.
Monday, August 8, 2011
As you can see, there is an open upper deck - great for watching sunsets and dancing - complete with a water slide. On the "ground" level there is a main compartment (with air conditioning!) and small front and back open-air spaces.
The back (stern) open-air space contained the 2 outboard engines, panel access to the generator and the gasoline tanks. This is also where we carried the rental kayak.
The front (bow) open-air space had 12 plastic deck chairs, a large cooler and a propane grill - along with the 2 anchors (note 2 heaps of rope - or "line" - in front) that figured prominently in our trip (a bit of foreshadowing there!).
See (below) the 2 lounge chairs on the upper deck? Don't they look comfy? Did you notice that they are not secured to anything? No, we didn't either. At least, not at first... (More foreshadowing!)
Inside the main compartment was a small back bedroom, a small restroom and a relatively large living space, that included a sofa (convertible to a bed), a dining room table (convertible to a bed)...
and a full kitchen (with island) - refrigerator, oven, microwave, coffee maker, blender, toaster - the works! I carefully planned out a full menu for the entire 6 days and prepared a shopping list. A local grocery store delivered everything right to the boat for us!
And, of course, the most important bit - the helm!
The houseboat is pretty much an RV loaded onto a motorized pontoon boat, so previous experience with any type of motorboat (we had none) and/or previous experience with an RV (we had none) would have been extremely helpful.
But, don't worry - they did give us almost an hour of instruction before turning us loose for a week on the lake with this massive piece of complex machinery worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars... ;)
Tomorrow I'll show you pictures from when we were underway and the beautiful scenery around Lake Powell.