Building the House Continues




It’s been a couple of weeks.  We wound up living above the garage, now dubbed the “Penthouse” for four weeks total.  Two weeks longer than we expected.  And that right there sums up the project.  Everything is going so slowly.  When the project was just about to start, John and I made a bet.  (For 25 cents.)  He said we’d be in the house by his birthday, which is early August.  I said it would be by my birthday, which is early October.  We were both wrong.  If we get in by the second week in December I’ll be surprised.  Happy, but surprised.  I’m thinking it won’t be the kind of grand holiday decorating that I would have liked, but still, I do expect we’ll finally be able to take our turn hosting Christmas dinner.

So, back to blog-time. It’s mid July.  The roof is done and they are starting on the stairs.  Before this we walked up a board on the side, so this was really an exciting day!

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Little Choptank 2016 G July 130

Now, here comes a bold move on our part – according to our daughter.  (And not a decision she was particularly in support of.)  The design of the outside siding called for little half-round CertainTeed shingles at the very top.  Well, at the last minute, we decided to go with……yellow!!   Shocking!  We really live on the edge.   So yeah, we went with the yellow, which we are still happy with, but it did change the look of the place.  What do you think?  Would you have stayed with white?

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It’s different I guess, but when we’re coming in on the boat it looks pretty.

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Here it is at night with the cupola light on:

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The plans originally called for a small set of stairs outside of the great room, and no stairs outside our bedroom, but as the guys were building, we thought having the great room stairs run the whole length of the windows would look much better, and be safer too!  And then we also added stairs outside our bedroom deck.  That also looks much better.

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They also did the wood above the front door, where the curve is.  Things look so simple on the plans, but this curve was really a lot of work!

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And here is what the inside looks like at this point – this is from the great room looking towards the front door:

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This is looking into the kitchen/pantry area towards the Crab Shack.

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And here’s the fireplace:

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Ah, the fireplace.  We wound up (unbeknownst to us) buying a fireplace that was much bigger than the space that was planned for it.  We didn’t know.  And I guess no one was paying attention to say, get one that is such and such a size  rather than any old one you fall in love with.  So when it was ready to be installed, the guys had to scramble and build out the wood framing to accommodate the insert.  You can see that in the picture.  What we also didn’t realize at that time was that since this was “extra” we got charged for this extra building, but also… threw off the amount of space I was going to have for the great room built ins!  Now the built-in and TV is going to be more to the left than I anticipated or wanted!  We’ve dealt with it – not that it’s done even as we speak!

So we’ll move into August next time, thanks for checking in!

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Changing the Katrina Cottage


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Lots going on around here in real-time.  We are packing up the Crab Shack, the kitchen and bathroom and mudroom that is, because the builders are starting in here on Monday.  We’re going to live in John’s office, which is above the garage.  It also serves as a guest suite – it has a daybed and a bathroom of course.  So we’ll be living up there for as long as it takes them to finish up in here. (Hopefully a week to ten days.)

Plus it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and we are going to VA for a day trip to celebrate!  It’s also my cousin Irene’s birthday – so it’s a double celebration! Busy, busy, busy.

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The plans call for them to break through in the mudroom and add double doors into the back hallway of the “addition” a/k/a the house.  This was the requirement to make it an addition….only the one entry.  Then, they are tearing down the wall of the bathroom in the Crab Shack where the sink is now and re-configuring the bathroom (except for the shower) to make it bigger.

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We’re also adding a tub – which actually was the cause of much conversation as to what tub we would get.  We were going to get one of those beautiful stand alone tubs, that was our decision for a long time.


Then we realized that a lot of the guests who would actually use the tub would not find it that convenient to get into and out of.  So then we went to a drop in tub.  They are also beautiful and we’d have the tile surround and have Fernando (lead builder) make wainscoting to go in the front.

Here was my vision – not the tile all the way up to the ceiling, but maybe a third of the way.  The shower and tub placement are like they will be in the Crab Shack:




So we went to Seaford, Delaware where the plumbing showroom was (had great Pizza there at Sal’s by the way) and gave Karen from Elegant Designs Showroom our plans to make sure everything would fit.  Well, surprise, surprise and not in a good way….we don’t have room for a drop in tub!!  So if we want to completely change the floor plans (a definite NO) then we had one choice – a slide in tub.  A plain old tub.  It’s a little fuzzy but here is a picture of the new configuration of the bathroom and closet – where our kitchen is now:


I was a little disappointed – a “little” in this case meaning “very.”  There’s no room for a tile surround or the wainscoting, although we’ll still have tile around the three sides of it.  But let me tell you, by this point in the project, even though it’s been a very good experience and we’re still happy with the workers and the work, we’re a little tired of it all.  So, we bought the tub and moved on.

The rest of the project is moving along – although slowly it seems.  Everything takes longer than you think.  Everybody says it on a building project as large as this, and it’s so true.  When the actual building started – in March – John thought they’d be done by his birthday – early August.  There’s a reason why we say he could be the president of the optimist club.  I thought they’d be done by my birthday – early October.  But now, we’ll be “thankful” if we get in the house by Thanksgiving!  We’re going to spend it at Chrissy’s in Virginia anyway.

So, next time we’ll be back to the progress as it moved along in July – putting on the metal roof.  Meanwhile, enjoy our sunset.

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The Framing Continues – Roof Trusses



View from the drone

View from the drone

Here’s an awesome picture John took with the drone.  I just love these type of pictures…’s opened up a whole new world of photography to me…and it’s so fun!

Where old house used to be

Where old house used to be

All that hay and light green grass is where the old house was.  (You can read more about that here.) On the other side of our fence is our neighbor Noelle.  She’s selling her place….if anyone is interested.  :)

Anyway, the guys worked very quickly on the roof trusses, it was amazing!  Lars, our house designer (he wasn’t an architect and he wasn’t a draftsman) used to manage a roofing company, so he felt using trusses instead of building the roof piece by piece as you go was better for us, with all the peaks and roof lines.

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Little Choptank 2016 E May 121

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Little Choptank 2016 E May 137

And the best part was they were all done in two days!

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Here you can see the entrance to the property, and our metal building.

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roof truss.1

From the front with the “Crab Shack”…..

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From the back…..

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I was surprised to find out that almost 4 out of 5 new homes built in America use manufactured roof trusses to frame the roof.  It replaces the conventional rafters and ceiling joists and enables a builder to construct homes that have more complex roof and ceiling designs and do it quickly and accurately.


Here are some of the advantages:

Trusses can span long distances and eliminate the need for a lot of load bearing walls.

It’s less costly than stick roof framing because it can be made of shorter lengths of 2 by 4’s.

It can be designed for many different roof styles.

They are designed by engineers and will meet the roof load and building codes.

They can be erected quickly.

Well, we are finally on our way.  So many decisions have to be made in the next few weeks and months, some rather quickly.  And anybody who knows me will tell you, I do not like making snappy decisions.  I like to research, and to mull.  The definition for that is perfect – to think about deeply and at length.  Yep, I like to mull about my decisions.  Of course, since we’ve been planning on building for a lot of years now, some decisions are made.  Others have been made on the spot.  Scary!

Come back and take a look at what they are….and maybe even help!

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Gardening Tips



I was busy working in the garden last week, planting some cool weather herbs and veggies, and now I’m on the hunt for something they don’t have around here.  Broccoli raab. I don’t know why nobody has it. It’s not that unusual an item.  But it made me decide to put in some brussel sprouts.  I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  They are all over the place and I have a little room to spare.

What we have so far is arugula and garlic, chives and celery seedlings, and parsley, cilantro and thyme. I also planted more parsley (by way of seeds), and peas and spinach.

I’ll be away this week, back in Jersey, and you can bet I’m scouting around for some broccoli raab! Meanwhile, I saw this wonderful article on gardening.  It’s from and it’s very interesting and informative.   Hopefully it will get you in the gardening mood and help answer any questions you might have if you’re just starting out.  And I’d love to hear about your gardens!



Property Improvement


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When John and I moved down to our “retirement” property full-time a few months ago, we decided to make a few improvements even though winter was coming and we might not be able to enjoy them until spring.  One thing high on John’s list was an awning for the back deck!  One of the reasons we fell in love with our property was the unobstructed view. Yes, shade is nice, but our property in New Jersey was surrounded by trees and was so shady it always seemed dark. Plus, raking leaves is not something we want to spend our time doing.   Our place here is the opposite, it’s BIG SKY country,  but along with that comes a summer sun that is so bright you need sunglasses inside.  Our awning will bring down the temperature in the back where we spend most of our time at least 10 degrees, plus I won’t have to spend my time squinting – always a good thing!

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Here’s how it looks from the inside:

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Nice and shady, huh?


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So with that project done, we moved on to what I would say was my number one priority:  finishing off the fence!  John and I both agree Robert Frost had it right when he wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  After we were here all the time we began noticing that our neighbor’s dog was leaving us little gifts.  Gifts you don’t want.  And after spending more and more time cleaning up after a dog I don’t own, we knew it was time to complete the project!

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This part of the fence may look a little strange, but we cut it down this way so our neighbor’s view of the water isn’t blocked.  And it’s not the way we face when we’re looking at our view and sunset, so it doesn’t bother us too much.

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And here’s our beautiful gate:

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Ah, fences.  They are also a very good thing.

The third project which we are all excited about (and by all I mean John and myself, and Chrissy and my cousin Irene) is the garden!  Chrissy and Irene will have a spot for themselves and for our areas we’re going to put in raised beds and one waist-high bed for herbs.   John built it for me in December!  Yep, December.

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Little Choptank 2014 L Nov, Dec and other pics 314

We were so naive then, thinking what a mild and short winter we were going to have.

Then the ice came.

I thought this was bad:

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Little Choptank 2015 B February 024

Till we had this:

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Little Choptank 2016 C March 005

It’s mostly melted now, although the cove isn’t completely unfrozen.  Soon though.  Very soon.  Spring in 8 days!

And that’s a wonderful thing!

And The Tide Will Rise



We learned something new about the tides when we moved to our place in Maryland this past October.  And we learned it the hard way.  It’s called the King Tide phenomenon.  It’s the highest of high tides, and occurs when the gravitational forces of the sun, the moon and the Earth’s rotation align perfectly.

This is how it started out when John and Gene went fishing the morning of October 3, 2014.

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And a little while later:

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The tide kept creeping up all day, Gene wasn’t even sure where the road was when he left that evening.

But here’s where we went wrong, the next day we wanted to run a few chores.  We had a Mazda Tribute, a high enough vehicle we thought, so a little water wouldn’t be a problem.  But this is what it looked like the next day:

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Little Choptank 2014 K Oct, Nov and other pics 086

We went out anyway, and found that even the main road was full of water:

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When we returned home we realized that our driveway had gotten considerably worse, but we decided to plow through.


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And so, here is where the Mazda died.

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Our expensive lesson was that not only was the engine flooded, it was beyond repair.  It would have cost more to fix than the car was worth, and needless to say, when the King Tide comes around again, we’ll be staying home!

Today’s update:  We just got our house plans back from the draftsman!  We are very excited and will finally be starting our journey to build our dream home!  We’ll have plenty of info on it in the near future, stay tuned!


Wind Power



Since our metal building has been built, we have made a little progress.  We’ve made room in the garage so we could bring down the bins and boxes we’ve already packed, and we’ve taken a truck load of those bins and boxes from our house in Jersey down to Maryland.

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I put Chrissy’s bins in plastic, just to make sure no little critters find their way in:

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Now we will start doing a few more fix-ups at the Jersey house, and also pack up more bins!  We’re finally back on track.  Target month to put this house up for sale is now July, so hopefully things will keep moving ahead.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d write about our wind turbine.  We’ve looked at it a lot lately, since the metal building is right next to it in the field that is right outside our gate.  To digress a bit, whoever cut up this property did a crazy job of it!  There are three properties down by the end of the peninsula, ours has the largest amount of land, but half of it is a field, then there’s our neighbor’s property, then the other half of ours is on the water.  We fenced in the area on the water where we are building the house (and where the garage and crab shack have already been built) but the field was just sitting there, really kind of wasted space. We decided to put the wind turbine there, mostly because it was out of our and our neighbors’ way.  So then, of course, we decided to put the metal building over there and eventually we hope to put some solar panels out there also.

This was when we first had it installed

This was when we first had it installed

Our windmill is a Bergey.  Bergey Windpower is the oldest and most experienced manufacturer of residential-sized wind turbines in the world.  John told me it makes about 1200 kw, which is more than we use right now down there.  Of course, after July, when we’re in the Crab Shack full-time we may use more, but paying a $20 electric bill is a lot better than a $200 electric bill! (and dare I say…a $400 electric bill!!)  And now, since we sometimes don’t use as much electricity as the windmill makes, we get a check back from the electric company!  This month they sent us $93!  Once the house is built, and the pool operational, our bill will be higher, but we’re expecting with the solar panels and the geo-thermal system, they will be quite reasonable.

We were getting the pad ready for the metal building

We were getting the pad ready for the metal building

The cost of the turbine is pretty high as you would imagine. They can run from $30K to $70K for a residential model.  We had a lot of cable to run since it was far from the transformer, which is in our garage.  And we put it up 100 feet, instead of 80, which is what a nearby family had.  So of course, that added to the cost.    You do get money back from the state, at least we did, and the federal government gives you tax breaks, so that helps to offset the cost.  John and I thought we would see a return on our investment in about six years, but it turns out it will be more like ten to twelve years.  But we’re still very happy with it.

The blades are 22 feet long each and weigh about 600 lbs. total!

The blades are 22 feet long each and weigh about 600 lbs. total!

One thing we were pretty happy about is that it is not really too loud!  It does hum when there are really strong winds, but of course the wind itself is noisy then.  Usually you don’t hear it at all, I guess because it’s so high up, and it turns kind of gently.  It turns itself towards the wind, and believe me, down there, the winds can come from every direction and turn rather quickly.  We’re very glad we decided to make the investment.  And being a little greener makes us happy too.

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Back to Work



I’m thinking it’s about time I get back to blogging.  With the holidays, and packing up for our move, writing has kind of fallen by the wayside.  But now there’s a little bit of progress to report, so hopefully you’ll see consistent articles in the future.

(I write that as if I’m not the one in control.  Hahaha.  Hopefully some blogs will get written, let’s look at the page and see if something magically appears.) 

We always go into the city to see the tree

We always go into the city to see the tree

We had a very nice, if low key holiday. We took our annual trip into New York City.  We went to the Shake Shack for the first time, then to Rockefeller Center, to the store in the N.Y. Public Library, and then to Bryant Park.  The weather was good and the four of us had a great time. 

This year I decided not to take down every single Christmas decoration since we weren’t hosting Christmas and, well, because I just didn’t feel like it.  Our plan over the past few months has been bringing down boxes from the attic, cleaning them out, and then packing them up for the “move” by putting them in the garage.  And our attic was stuffed.  So now it’s the Christmas boxes.  I actually still have them in the living room, some still need to be weeded through.  It’s hard getting rid of some of the old decorations.  They go back a lot of years, and even if I don’t decorate with them anymore, they still bring back memories. It’s not easy letting go. 

St. Patrick's is getting a makeover

St. Patrick’s is getting a makeover

We thought our metal building would be done by now, and we were going to bring down lots of our stuff, so that when we put the house on the market (target date is this May) the house will be somewhat empty, and when the actual move happens, there won’t be that much to take.  I’m not taking a lot of the furniture.  It fit in this house, and I’ve had it for 20 years but we’ll get new stuff for our waterfront house.  Which, you will probably remember, isn’t even built yet.  We will be moving into the “Crab Shack.”  Then, hopefully in the fall, after interviewing builders and finalizing our house plans, we will start to build!  It’s so exciting. It’s THIS YEAR that we’ll be building our new house!  I can hardly believe it!  It’s been 7 years since we bought the property, and the time is almost here!  Of course living in 1000 sq. ft. cabin for a year will be a bit challenging.  Especially because I’ll want to bring a lot of my “stuff” into the Crab Shack with me. (Winter clothes, small kitchen appliances (and I have a lot), all the stuff from my office!)  But I have a feeling most of it will be in bins in the garage.  I plan to mark them well, with “things to leave in front” actually placed in the front of all the other bins.  Will that actually happen? Eh, it’s a toss-up. 

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Skating is FREE!  You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it's totally free!

Skating is FREE! You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it’s totally free!

So, on to the metal building update:  we met with Nick from Diamond State Pole Buildings in October.  That’s OCTOBER, over three months ago!  We thought the building would have been up before Christmas.  And it was no fault of Nick’s.  He sent his guy to our town hall to apply for the permit, a service they provide when you buy a building.  But here’s the catch.  When you are building anything on the water, there are rules and regulations and protocols you must follow before anything gets approved.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it's lights.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it’s lights.

So did the Empire State Building

So did the Empire State Building

We needed to get a surveyor down to the property to map out the surrounding area, and presumably to draw in where the building would be.  But, this area has parts that are in the “buffer zone.” Yes, the dreaded “buffer zone.”  You are discouraged from building in the buffer zone, it would be a whole other rigmarole to get approval, and we had enough property that the building could be moved a little to make sure it was in the safe area. (Yes, maybe some of the regulations are warranted, it saves the shoreline from erosion and the Bay from pollution.  We get it.)

The water around the boat froze.

The water around the boat froze.



However, we now needed another guy to come down and draw up where the buffer zone actually was, and to test the soil to make sure it could hold the weight of the building.  And this is where we lost track.  That person was unknown to us, it was around the holidays, and nobody but us cared about the time factor.  We lost a month waiting for him to get down to the property and submit his drawings.  When that finally happened (two weeks ago) we realized that we now had to add plantings (trees and shrubs) to the property in the amount of square footage of the building.  You take away with one hand; you have to give back with the other.  So I researched plants native to Maryland (a requirement) and drew up a map of our property placing the trees, large and small, and the shrubs, and we went down to Maryland to our town hall to submit our plan.  After meeting with three different people in two different parts of town, we got verbal approval.  However, the actual permit won’t be issued for two to four weeks, at which time Nick will order the building, taking another two weeks to get delivered.  Seeing the pattern here?  SLOW.  Everything is slower than you want, and you need a lot of patience!  I said to John that when we move down in May we should start applying for our building permit for the house, which we won’t need until October.  And hopefully we will get it in time!  

Lots of geese flying in

Lots of geese flying in

Ice is gone, all is well

Ice is gone, all is well


Weekend in Maryland


We went to our place in Maryland for a long weekend and it was just glorious.  We visited with one neighbor for coffee, and we went out to dinner with another.  It poured two nights, but well after we went to bed, it made me think of the song Camelot, where it doesn’t rain till after sundown.  Two mornings were very foggy (it’s supposed to disappear by 8) but it was very interesting looking and it cleared enough for us to go fishing on Sunday.

But first, our winter sunset.  It’s over the trees this time of year instead of over the water, but still beautiful.

We arrived at sunset

We arrived at sunset

We woke up to a thick fog where you couldn’t tell the sky from the water.  As it cleared a bit, we found we had some visitors.

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Who then made themselves right at home.

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It stayed foggy most of the day, but we didn’t mind relaxing and reading and putzing.  (That’s John, he likes to putz.  Or he is a putz, one or the other, I forget.)  We also had a nice visit from our neighbor, Judy, who came over for coffee.

Sunday, we were determined to go fishing.  The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny, and we were a bit surprised when it was also kind of foggy.  We had to wait for the tide anyway, and as it got a little later, the fog started to clear.

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Little Choptank 2013 I November 14 to 18 033

Little Choptank 2013 I November 14 to 18 035

This is across the water from our place.  It looks like a painting with the fog.  It’s such a cute little building, and we always wonder who lives there.

As we headed out to the Chesapeake, the fog was still hanging onto the water.

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We hardly saw this guy till he got a little closer.

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But then it cleared, and we went out to find some stripers!  Or as people in Maryland refer to them, rockfish.   This is the big prize, since they have to be a certain size in order to keep, plus some of us who aren’t that crazy about eating fish (me) will eat striped bass.

These we caught out in Montauk one year, one of our FAVORITE places to go on vacation.


Our little family of fisherpersons:

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And this one John and our friend Bill caught last summer, right out in the Chesapeake.


And this one John caught last December! He was fishing with our electrician, Rick, in the Chesapeake.


So, anyway, we’re no strangers to catching them.  And did we catch any you may ask?  Um…. no.  We didn’t.  We caught two crab buoys.  Which we certainly didn’t intend to catch.  And we caught a giant net that must have broken off a commercial fishing boat, it was so big!  We could hardly lift it, so we didn’t bring it into the boat, but I wish I took a picture.  You know what I could’ve said then….   nothing but net.

We did see a pretty sailboat though.

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And we caught the sunset as we were flying home to get in before it got too dark.  It was such a nice weekend, we really can’t wait till we move down there.

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The Gator



Guess what this is:

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Believe it or not, it’s a Polaris 4×4 ATV.  Want to see it what it’s supposed to look like?




Yep, it’s unbelievable but true.  We brought one of our ATV’s to a dealership in Maryland to be serviced and a few days later we got a call.  The area in the back of the building had a fire, and our vehicle, along with three others was totally destroyed!  Here are some of the others:

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Ours is in the middle.  Nice, huh?  They never really figured it out, although they think someone threw a “molotov” cocktail, but they don’t know who or why.   Well, the truth is, these vehicles are more suited to the place we had in Pennsylvania.  There was more acreage, more hills and trails, and we used them mostly for riding and fun.


Here’s John’s mom on it, she was 86!  Don’t worry, he was doing the driving.


At first we thought we would just replace the ATV with another ATV.  The kids do enjoy riding them, even though in Maryland there isn’t as much land as there was in PA, and it’s pretty flat.  Very flat.  Still fun, but not the same.  And we do still have the one.  So we decided to go out looking and see what’s new in the ATV market.  And then we saw the “Gator.”

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Here’s the traditional color from John Deere:

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It was like we were made for each other!  Now that we’re old more mature, we loved the back for carrying things around, and we loved that it was a four-seater, so we could haul our friends and family around too!

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It’s so useful! And comfortable!  We ride it down to the beach in the morning to have our coffee and muffins. John packs it up with all our fishing gear and coolers when we’re going out on the boat.  It’s very convenient.

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And it has the other vehicle to keep it company.

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Jackson took this picture of John and I, inspecting the trees and fence:

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I know, it’s crazy, but we love our Gator.

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