Monday morning Ruth and I headed out to the casino… at 9.00 am! We left the guys indoors to fend for themselves while we went off to have some fun. Ruth usually plays the ‘penny’ machines and I was keen to try them out too…. What fun – we played for three hours and both ended $50 up at the end of the morning! Really enjoyed myself….
When we got back to the house we found that Richard and Dan had gone on the missing list! We made some lunch and eventually they returned – having been spirited away by a family member and, of course, beer was involved!
Now it was time to pack and get moving – Ruth was driving us into Minneapolis for our final night in the States. Unfortunately Dan had a prior engagement so we had to say sad farewells…… Eventually we were packed up – said goodbye to Bob the martial arts dummy in the garage who had made me jump every time! – and admired the countryside as we drove into town. I was on the lookout for bears but still didn’t manage to see one. Guess I’ll have to return to Wisconsin another time then?!?
Checked into our hotel quickly and headed off for dinner. We got a little lost trying to find the West End but made it under an increasingly nasty looking sky. We were a bit worried about Ruth driving home later, especially as there was a severe weather warning in place for thunderstorms. But I think we were more concerned than she was! We met up with Kristin and Andy and had a lovely time catching up with them over dinner. It was great to see them again….
Then back to the hotel and time to say goodbye to Ruth. Oh dear…. felt very emotional. We had had a fantastic time in Wisconsin – a beautiful lakeside home, loads of water toys, wonderful food, fun evenings and incredibly welcoming and generous hosts. Thank you both sooooo much.
And so to bed….for a little while…… Up very early Tuesday morning and on the airport shuttle at 3.30 am. Checked in and we were ready for our short hopper flight – we loved the little American Eagle plane ride… We arrived into Chicago and thankfully our bags were checked all the way through to London so no mucking around this time. We had some breakfast and went to our gate for the 9.00 am departure to London. Everyone was boarded – onto the worst budget American Airlines plane we have ever seen! Must be one of the oldest planes they have in their fleet – not even seat back entertainment, with drop down monitors for everyone to watch the movies…. Oh well…. Never mind….. Then the captain tells us that we have a problem with a fuel injector. So we sat and waited and then the doors opened again. Oh no – not looking good! Then we hear that the problem has been fixed and we are going to be taking off – but have missed our slot into London and are now scheduled to arrive later than allowed into Heathrow. Well – it seems that AA paid a special fee / fine for Heathrow to wait up for us LOL – and we took off almost two hours late.
The flight went without a hitch – they even fed and watered us, with complimentary bucks fizz and wine…. The plane was pretty empty so loads of room to stretch out and no queues for the toilets – so all was good. We arrived into Heathrow and, of course, being the last plane in we got through immigration, baggage collection and customs in record time – and into the taxi waiting for us. We arrived home, finally, at 2.00 am our time on Wednesday and went straight to bed.
Thursday and Friday were spent sorting ourselves out and opening the mountain of mail. The weather had deteriorated into rainy, chilly, grey days since we arrived home although it was lovely and sunny on Sunday so we decided to take mum out for lunch. Oops… seemed like the whole of the county had had the same idea, so loads and loads of traffic and jams…. We finally arrived into Southend to be greeted by the sight of the beautiful 150+ year old barges racing in the Thames Estuary. They were moving quite well despite the lack of wind!
Unfortunately all the car parks were full and the place was heaving so we turned around and headed back to our own high street and had fish and chips! Fat proper chips….not fries…..yummmmmm……
Lazy day on Monday because the weather was atrocious with heavy rain and a bit chilly – it’s a bit early in the year to be wearing fleeces even in the UK – but we cheered ourselves up by having a roast lamb dinner. First time we have eaten roast potatoes for nine months…. Amazing what you miss you know!
Tuesday morning and Richard went back to work on a short-term contract basis while I’m doing domestic goddess duties. Of course, things never go quite to plan, and my curve ball for the week was the computer crashing and dying when I was typing the blog. Hence the delay – sorry! Huge thanks to Clive for recovering my data and rebuilding my Netbook with a new hard drive… So I’m finally back on line and can get on with things. Yippeeeeeee……
So it is time to sign off with some thoughts of this cruising season. We sailed 1,613 miles and visited 24 islands – Grenada, Carriacou, Union, Petit St Vincent, Bequia, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Tobago Cays, Mustique, Iles de Saintes, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St Eustatius, St Maarten, St Martin, Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Jost van Dyke, St John, St Thomas, Bonaire and Curacao – anchored / moored in 40 different locations and stayed in five marinas. This year we wanted to stretch ourselves a bit more so we did some longer passages – with the most demanding being the 84 hour 450 mile offshore run from St Thomas to Bonaire.
We had a fantastic season, explored new islands – notably Montserrat, Bonaire and Curacao – improved our sailing and yacht maintenance skills and were reunited with some great lifelong friends as well as meeting some new ones. And we juggled four currencies – US dollars, Eastern Caribbean dollars, Euros and Guilders…
So – did we enjoy it? Yes! Are we going to do it again? Yes! When? We fly back to Curacao to be reunited with Morpheus towards the end of November. So I leave you with some of our favourite photos of the season and hope that you will continue to follow our adventures later in the year. So it’s a usual ‘Bye for now’ – with an extra thanks for following us on our trip.