Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Church of Craig

With Alberta Crewed tucked away for her summer rest, we have the chance to see some land-sights on our drive home to Canada.  I'll dip back into this season on the boat in my next blog but here we are already in Nashville.

Hey it looks so uneventful, so quiet and discreet,
But a lot of lives were changed there on that little one-way street,
'Cause they walked away from everything just to see a dream come true,
So God bless the boys who make the noise on 16th Avenue.

On quiet night watches at sea, we each have a playlist of music to help pass the time.  I have an ipod of 18,000 songs thanks to my friend Greg, along with several podcasts from the CBC.  Craig is a simple kind of guy when it comes to music.  His ipad has 19 songs: “The Last Wild Place Anthology” album by Lacy J. Dalton and one song by Johnny Cash,“I Walk the Line”.  He listens to his vast library repeatedly without seeming to tire of it.  His favourite song is 16th Avenue which you may listen to while you’re reading this if you wish.  Craig only knows how to tune the radio to the country stations when not singing along to Lacy J.  Nashville is Craig's mecca.  

16th avenue is also known as Music Row in Nashville and is the heart of the country music industry.  It is a rather non-descript street where country music writers and producers have their offices and recording studios.  As luck would have it, our hotel was half a block away.  Craig is not typically excitable but he was pretty happy to be in Nashville and on this street.  We had one day in Nashville so toured the Ryman Auditorium, which housed the Grand Ole Opry from 1927 to 1974.  Johnny Cash met June Carter backstage at this iconic theatre and Elvis played there in 1954.  Our day continued with visits to the Country Music Hall of Fame and on to the present day Grand Ole Opry theatre.  As luck would have it, a new convention centre was opening across from the Hall of Fame with celebrations including a street concert.  We were not able to see an Opry performance but the street concert was a stunning second fiddle.  Artists included Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow as we munched on delicious food truck cuisine 50 feet from the stage for the 3 hour concert.  Craig’s knowledge beyond country music is rather limited.  “Who is Sheryl Crow?” I quizzed to see if he had any idea who we were about to see.  “I guess she must be a singer but isn’t she the one who dated Lance Armstrong?”  Close, I suppose, but it didn't matter.  Craig's day-long grin continued well into the evening as we walked Broadway Street which is lined with dozens of Honky Tonk bars.  Hopeful musicians play their hearts out hoping to be discovered and a festive atmosphere carries on for several blocks.  I think I even saw Craig tapping his toes.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fernandina Fireworks

Craig, me, Lee, and David trying to stay dry

Weather has a wonderful way of reminding us who is in control when it senses our complacency, but apologetically leaves us with unexpected gifts in return for its necessary wrath.  We had a perfectly timed route 600 miles up the Intra Coastal Waterway to get us from Vero Beach, Florida to Wilmington, North Carolina where we will be leaving our boat for the summer.  My brother and sister in law, David and Lee, are here for this trip and our perfect plan would get them to their flight home in good time.   We envisioned meandering along the picturesque islands of Georgia, sight seeing in Savannah and Charleston, and time for a bit of bird watching and alligator spotting along quiet Florida creeks.

Not.  On day 8 of our 3-week cruise, we have ground to a halt in Fernandina Beach, Florida, immobilized by a long and nasty system bringing wind gusts of 45 knots to the entire south east coast.  We had thought the protection of the Intra Coastal would enable us to venture out in stormier weather but this one is big.  All I remembered of Fernandina from last year was our one night stay because of the looming and smelly pulp mill right next to our mooring.  We are now onto day four here.  Weather’s gift in return is the chance to get to know the quaint and historic town, unbeknownst to us during its annual Shrimp Festival weekend.  Located on the west side of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach has a resident population of 9000 and attracts 100,000 visitors to the Festival.  This year the weather is a bit of a damper but festivities continue and a little torrential rain with horizontal wind doesn’t slow down coastal folk. 

Festival day one began with the invasion of the pirates.  We are not sure what pirates have to do with shrimp other than being an excuse for women to pull out their favourite (and somewhat inappropriate) corsets and men to wear eyeliner and yell “AARRRGGHHHH” a lot.  Moored in the middle of the harbour, we have the best seats in the house.  Last night, a canon blasting battle from decorated “Pirate” ships ensued right in front of us followed by a spectacular fireworks display that rained down over Alberta Crewed.  The fireworks boat was a bit too close for comfort but the local Sheriffs kept an eye on things as we laughed hysterically at the absurdity of this once-in-a-lifetime and birds’ eye view of the explosions of stars.  I felt like the queen on the royal yacht. 

Fireworks boat on the left

Today we will venture out for the ritual rocky and wet dinghy ride to savour another round of fresh shrimp and good wine.  The local boutique and cafe staffs are beginning to know us by name and we haven’t even noticed the pulp mill.

Lee and I enjoying shrimp boiled up by a high-energy high school group.