Anticipated with Excitement; Remembered with Nostalgia.

It’s been three and a half (3.5) months on the water.  As I type it, it doesn’t even seem plausible.  Summer came and went.  Fall happened.  And in the blink of an eye, our time in the Great Lakes is officially over.  I’m blogging today from the Illinois River – 83 miles south of Chicago – and in the spirit of reflecting on the first quarter of our journey, Tom put together the below video chronicling our adventure and i’ve broken down our “most memorable’s” to date.

Best View:  Hike @ Killarney Provincial Park.    Just steps away from the dock at the Killarney Mountain Lodge is what can only be considered as one of the most tranquil places i’ve ever been.  The hike is conducive for people of all levels of experience and offers breathtaking views and…did I mention the tranquility?  We spent hours sitting on the shoreline watching the pristine water rush by and came back the next day for a more intense workout session.

Best Flavor:  Olive & Gourmando (Montreal)- Two.words. Almond Croissant. TO DIE FOR!  Seriously, it melts in your mouth with goodness.  Tom’s pick is Cibo Wine Bar (Toronto).  Boasting a lively atmosphere and easily the best Sunday brunch we’ve ever had. If you find yourself in Toronto, this is a must!

Best Dive: As we excitedly made our way back into U.S. waters,  Drummond Island, MI took us by surprise in more ways than one. The water was some of the prettiest we’ve seen on the trip – but the shining start of this port was the vivacious Mexican restaurant know as Esther’s.   While they don’t serve margaritas (or any alcohol for that matter), the food more than made up for it!  (Skip the guac – but the mains are delicious – the best Mexican on the Great Loop to date!)   Its worth mentioning that Esther herself is in the kitchen, with a smile, making each and every dish with spice and heart.

A Must Do:  The Benjamin Islands (North Channel).   This group of islands is simply serene.  The anchorage has picturesque pink granite and sapphire blue water.  On shore, you’ll find great hiking, ideal camp fire sites, and perfect sunbathing rocks.  While I suspect during peak summer months the islands can get a little busy/touristy, we happened to have the islands all to ourselves as we arrived in September.  It was a “Where else would you rather be?” moment.

Take A Pass: Lake Topaz.  Just the name sounds dreamy, right?  It turns out that Lake Topaz is pretty far off the beaten path – with very little water depth – and isn’t as idealistically “topaz” as we had hoped.

Wished We Could Have (but next time!):  We missed out on our opportunity to cruise down the Chicago River.  Baywash needed some routine maintenance which ultimately routed us down the Calumet instead. (woof)  The Calumet was smelly and unforgivably polluted and unsightly.

♦Beauty Break: (Take two!) As anyone who reads regularly knows, beauty maintenance is a r.e.a.l. struggle aboard Baywash.  The trustworthiness of anyone who is about to come into contact with your skin, hair, nails, etc. is a nerve-racking thing.  Chicago was the mecca of all things beauty!  A hydrafacial (w/Christal) and a painless Botox touchup (w/Amber) at the Med Spa at Northwestern Plastics left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.  I also have to mention that AJ Palace at Thomas West Salon is a hair goddess.  If you’re a blonde in the Chicago area – this is your girl! AJ is a fellow blondie and as she put it, “it takes one to know one.”

The Essentials: I am such(!) a sucker for a *good* grocery store; I love to gather fresh ingredients to snack on while we’re underway.  On our way up the Trent-Severn Waterway, I stumbled upon a small, but well stocked, gourmet market just around the corner from the Lakefield Marina (Lakefield, Ontario – between locks 26 & 27).  The Market (yes, that’s its proper name) was abundantly stocked with organic produce, grass fed meats, aged cheese, raw nuts and even some healthy sweets! A gem of a grocery store!

Working Up A Sweat:  While docked at Mackinac Island, we strolled the fudge filled streets in dire need of some sweat-worthy exercise. We noticed a bounty of bike rental displays – but each inquiry about mountain biking left us with blank stares and pushy salesmen who just wanted us to hop on their beach cruisers…not exactly what Tom had in mind.  We were ultimately pointed in the direction of Mackinac Wheels – a true bike shop with knowledgable staff and some intense mountain bikes!  Unbeknownst to many of the other bike renters, there are over 70 miles of bonafide mountain biking trails throughout the island.  Paths include paved and off roading and offer something for every skill level – and there being absolutely no cars on the island – its truly a pedaler’s dream!

The Best Ships Are Friendships!

Remember “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan?  It’s one of my favorites. Hearing from so many amazing people on the blog has been kind of like that.  I LOVE hearing from each of you; answering questions; mulling over your suggestions and even meeting some of you along the way.

Shortly after arriving in Chicago, I received a short message from a girl named Amber. It simply stated that she and her boyfriend had read the article in Power & MotorYacht and wanted to know if we needed anything while we were in the Chicago area.  I eagerly showed Tom the message – noting how incredibly thoughtful the message was aaaaand realizing this may be a GREAT avenue for inquiring about suggestions for all of the beauty maintenance I was hoping to catch up on while we’re here.

A few messages were exchanged and before we knew it, we were out to dinner with Amber & Kevin (and even some of their mutual friends); and then out for drinks; and then repeating the process over and over again.

amber-kevin-collageWe were treated like old friends and it was so(!) refreshing & fun to hangout with a crew again.   As we’re making our departure plans from Chicago, i’m already sad just thinking about our “goodbye” but I’m *forcing* them to visit when we’re in warmer waters in the coming weeks/months.

My Mom also visited!  The best thing ever when you’re feeling homesick.  No matter how old a girl gets, sometimes she just needs a day with her Mom….Am I right?  We shopped and sipped rosé  like it was our job.  I think it’s safe to say we both loved every second of it!

The rest of our time here was spent in our usual exploratory fashion.  Food/Cocktails/Sight Seeing….in that order!

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Eataly…this place is GENIUS!  Amazing food, wine and shopping all in a gorgeous and inviting setting. Processed with Snapseed.

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We’re still hanging out at DuSable Harbor for the time being – its raining – and we need to have some work done to the boat tomorrow…but making our departure/next port plans in the next few days!

…off to happy hour!…

P.S. – Tom has UPDATED our Track Our Trip portion of the blog!  It includes the exact route we’ve taken, miles traveled, gas consumed and costs incurred as compared with the income received from renting out our house in Baltimore.

Oh!  And another side note.  We just booked our flights to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in November!  Anyone else going??

 

Lake Michigan: Always Fresh, Sometimes Frozen…

It is…Tuesday?  That means I’m t.w.o. days late in sitting down to write my update on the trip.  I’ve been in a “funk” lately.   Not really into taking pictures of every.single.thing we do/eat…and even giving my *stellar* photographer resistance each and every time the GoPro/Drone/Camera surfaces.  Ever been there?

I’m becoming acutely aware of how much I relish being in a city, having a normal workout/eating routine and my girl time back in Baltimore.  Tom & I encourage visitors but that’s proven to be more difficult than we anticipated. img_0185Anyway(!), since I last wrote, we conquered Lake Michigan. (what?!)  The week flew by….Ports of call included:  Mackinac Island; Charlevoix; Frankfort; White Hall aaaaand Chicago. Mackinac Island was like stepping back in time – in a good way.  The lack of motor vehicles, the plethora of horses and the constant lingering scent of fudge made the entire island feel like a scene from an old movie.   After a little research, Tom discovered that the island entailed almost 60 miles of bike trails….so we decided to slip off the grid and ended up spending the majority of our time hiking and biking.

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From there, we were off to Charlevoix.  This stop was on our wish list from day one – but it turned out to be totally different than we expected – in a perfect way.

While I had anticipated boutique shopping and top notch farmer’s markets, what we found was tranquility. Processed with Snapseed.

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There, on the shore of Lake Michigan, we were completely alone on this gorgeous beach!  We walked, and talked and even did a little paddle boarding.  And the water!  So pristine.  Seriously, who needs the Caribbean when you have this? (shark free!) hehe

From Charlevoix, we were on a m.i.s.s.i.o.n to get to Chicago. There were two overnight stops due to the relentless rough lake conditions, but we pushed through bright and early each morning.  Everyone offering advice about our journey on the loop says to make sure we are OUT of Chicago by October.   We didn’t want to play chicken with the lake, so we didn’t waste any time in getting to the bottom of the lake.  AND, my Mom is coming to visit us this weekend. (yaaaass!)  So, with that, we’re here! In Chicago!

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We haven’t had a chance to get the lay of the land.  I knew I needed to blog and we had some errands to run.  But that means i’ll have PLENTY to talk about next week! 💁🏼

 

The Tans Will Fade but the Memories Will Last Forever

HAPPY SUNDAY!  We are officially back on U.S. soil and I have to admit, it’s bittersweet.  I’ve been longing for a few of my staple USA items! *Dunkin’ Donuts coffffeeee* 🙈 ☕️ But we LOVED Canada AND as it turns out, we saved the best for last!

The North Channel is, without a doubt, the front runner for our favorite part of the Great Loop thus far.  It encompasses everything we love about being on the water.  The scenery is breathtaking; hiking trails are plentiful; the gunk holes allow for easy anchoring; and there are even some luxurious resort marinas along the way (Killarney Mountain Lodge)- which as you may have noticed is something I get pretty excited about.

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We drifted from Killarney (above) to Topaz Lake at Baie Fine (below).

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From there, we overnighted in Little Current – which turned out to be cute and quaint and all things “small town”.  (The local grocery store even offered to drive me back to the dock when they overheard I was visiting by boat.) 👸🏼   I picked apples while Tom did some boat maintenance (engine oil change) and then we were off to the Benjamin Islands!

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If you’re planning to do the Great Loop…or just happen to have the luxury of visiting the North Channel, put the Benjamin Islands on your “Must Do” list!  The islands are simply serene and allow for an absurd amount of fun with easy dinghy access, perfect hiking conditions and ideal campfire sites.

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DCIM100MEDIADJI_0155.JPGWe are blogging today from Drummond Island (🇺🇸 ) and charting our course for the coming week as we make our way to Chicago. I’m practically wiggling in my chair just thinking about getting to Chicago!  We’re planning to stay for a week or two and I.Cannot.Wait. to explore another new city!

Post Script:  It’s chilly here today – we’re in sweatshirts – and it makes me nostalgic for summer already! 😭

What’s Your P.S.R.?

Primitive. Survival. Rating. 

Wait. I guess my first update should be that we made it through the l.a.s.t. lock!  Phew! TWYF1884

Now that we can finally stop talking about locks…Have you ever watched Naked & Afraid?  Its on the Discovery Channel and its one of our favs!  Two people are dropped into the wilderness completely naked and expected to survive for 21 days using their “primitive survival skills”.

I’d have to say the Georgian Bay has been sort of like that!  (I know, I know…now you have an interesting mental picture, but just bear with me here.)

We kept hearing that the Georgian Bay would be the crown jewel of our trip. Supposedly picturesque beyond belief.  It certainly didn’t disappoint on that forefront but, where it really shines is in its remoteness.   Island after island with no one to interrupt whatever your day has in store.  MIIC7853

We anchored at Spider Bay and then the Bustard Islands.  Fully stocked with grilling options and red wine, we decided to relish in the uniqueness of not only the beauty but the surreal opportunity of being completely alone.  UWJB0330

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The week consisted of a homemade bow drill…and the hours that go along with attempting to make fire without matches, a subsequent campfire (a la matches) 😉, hiking, cliff jumping, sun bathing, fishing, skinny dipping and even two(!) encounters with black bears. ONZP8262bustards collageIMG_3668Its been a refreshing experience, one I’ll never forget.  I’m blogging today from Killarney – the gateway to the North Channel.  Its still picturesque and remote, but with a little bit of luxury on the side…quaint dining options, a spa, and LOTS of vacationers!  More details on our time here next week! ✌🏼

 

POWER & MOTORYACHT: Great Adventure!

Hiiiii!  Very exciting news!  At least “very exciting” by my standards. 🤓   We received this photo from Tom’s family a few days ago…*insert squeals*.

I practically started wiggling in my chair when I saw it.

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Power & MotorYacht interviewed us a few weeks ago and we have been so excited and anxious to see it in print!  So here it is!  I clearly couldn’t resist sharing with you!

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Up next:  Chronicles from the Georgian Bay!

Big City Enchantment to Small Town Charm

Hiiii from Fenelon Falls, Ontario!  We are docked today due to the wind…16 mph today. Not exactly ideal boating conditions.

We left Toronto a few days earlier under heavy humidity but gorgeous skies. sunset toronto

If there is one lasting memory from Toronto (aside from the humidity) its the food.  Every restaurant had its own spin on dining out & we left each eatery completely impressed with the apps, entrees and cocktails. **Restaurant tags below…but the Sunday Brunch Buffet at Cibo Wine Bar is hands down THE best!toronto food

We docked at Marina Quay West – it wasn’t the most luxurious marina we’ve visited, but it was downtown in the heart of the action and allowed us to walk to virtually everything.  I relished in the fact that there *happened* to be a great nail salon across the street aaaaaand we even got haircuts.  (this was a bit of a stressor, and i’m still planing (hoping) to get back to my beloved stylist in Baltimore for my color, but in the meantime, I wasn’t scalped and my hair is feeling so much healthier!) 💇🏼

So!  Currently, we are on a mission to get to the Georgian Bay…which includes dozens of small towns and another 41 locks!  FORTY ONE LOCKS.  (You guys know how I l.o.v.e. the locks.)  The one below happens to be picture worthy in more ways than one.  Its a hydraulic lift lock AND its also the tallest lock in the WORLD.  They essentially have you drive your boat into a bath tub and then lift you 65 feet into the air.  Its a joyride of sorts and we were able to capture some fun GoPro pictures thanks to the friendly lock crew.

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The Trent Severn Waterway has been littered with super small/quaint towns…some even with wi-fi 💁🏼 and we are pushing through with 8 hours days and lock after lock after lock.  Thankfully, the scenery doesn’t suck!

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We can’t wait to update you from the Georgian Bay – we hear it is insanely beautiful!

*oh –  so I think I have pinched femoral nerve due to running??  Its miserably painful and sometimes *someone* makes fun of me for how feeble it makes me walk! 😬  So that’s fun too! 🙄   Any suggestions or information on how to remedy this would be AWESOME!

Montréal: La Perle du Canada

There’s a running theme lately.  I fall smitten with each port and ultimately end up begging Tom to stay “one more day”.  Montréal was no different.  It is such a gem!  (is a pearl a gem?)  It truly felt like we were in Paris all over again.  We stayed at the Montréal Yacht Club.  Aside from the city being completely captivating, this was the best marina to date.  So close to everything, impeccably kept and boasted an incredibly romantic view from the boat.

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We started the week with a hike.  Mount Royal was scenic and the perfect way to get our feet wet in the city.mount royal collage

Then we noticed an amusement park in the distance from our marina.   After our rendezvous at the Wildwoods boardwalk, we eagerly snagged tickets and hopped in line for the roller coasters.

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Days 2 through 6 were basically a scavenger hunt for beef tartare, muddled cocktail concoctions and all things patisserie.

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What is it about a Farmer’s Market?  market collage

Every female I know will attest to this.  There is something enticing about it.  Tom attributes it to the hunter/gatherer theory, but whatever it is, it ignites my senses and excitement for food and people.  From the butcher to the fromager to the gardener, each and every vendor is passionate about their bounty and I love getting wrapped up in the entire scene.   We made more than one trip to Marché Atwater.  On the first trip I had to bat my eyelashes to get my better half to join me.  On the second trip…there was no arm twisting and while he wouldn’t openly divulge it, I was actually the first one ready to leave!DCIM100GOPROG0811953.

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The evenings were littered with rooftop terraces and romantic “see & be seen” eateries.

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On our last day in the city we decided to d.e.t.o.x.  While on a morning run we came across a spa…on a boat!  So fitting and appropriate that we couldn’t possibly pass it up.

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So with that, we’re off again.  Toronto bound with a layover in the 1000 Islands.  I’m so tired of LOCKS and I know you’re tired of hearing about them…but since this was the last one (for the short term) and also the largest thus far AND since I forgot to put my gloves on and now have blisters to prove my efforts, I thought one last lock photo was in order.

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Travel Far Enough to Meet Yourself…

You guuuuys!  We are finally in Montreal!  And i’m not going to lie, Tom had to force me to sit down and blog today.  I’m so super excited to see and do…and eat(!) every.single.thing here (and tell you about it next week).

Just incase any of you were worried about my mental state since I was *whining* when we last checked in – – i’m feeling back to my usual self. 😉  pretty collage

We docked in Burlington last Thursday evening.  I immediately threw on my sneakers and ran to the closest nail salon which gave me a great opportunity to get the initial lay of the land.  By happenstance, we were docked only a half mile away from Church Street – the heart of downtown Burlington, littered with boutique shopping, incredible restaurants and THE flagship Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop!

The four night stay flew by with countless walking trips to Church Street to include a bustling farmer’s market, a night out for cocktails at Church & Main (where both bartenders were transplants from Baltimore 🦀), a next day hangover pizza binge, and yes, one scoop of greek yogurt “ice cream”.

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Perhaps the most memorable part of Vermont was the sunset.  The Boathouse Marina had a dock bar, Splash, that served “marvelous food, drinks and sunsets”.   Bay Wash was docked in a prime spot to partake in all three. FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender

Vermont definitely tugged at my heart in an unexpected way.  I hadn’t even heard of Burlington, VT before we started looking at the map for our next docking destination.  But I left with an “I could live here” vibe.  The people were not only friendly, but soothing.  If you like nature and all things organic, put Burlington on your to-do list. 🌎 💚 🍓 ✌🏼

So with that, we untied our lines, packed away our fenders and headed for Montreal.

Tom fueled us up just before entering Canadian waters, as the diesel prices here are ABSURD, and I scoured through our lifeline (Waterway Guide) to get up to date on what to expect on the canals for the next two days.

We worked our way through NINE (9!) more hand operated locks.

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(see below 10 hrs summed up in 20 seconds!) and arrived in Montreal on Tuesday night.

SO! We obviously made it!  And I’m chomping at the bit to log off and go explore!  See you next week!

KEEP YOUR *SHIP* TOGETHER

Phew! It has been a looooong week.

Atlantic City seems like EONS ago!   From AC there was a short stop over in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

Tom’s fraternity brother has a weekend home there that can only be described as the ultimate weekend escape.  The pool/hot tub/bar area alone is enough to make you want to indulge in boozy umbrella drinks….and then there’s this! 

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We did a little relaxing, “droning”, drinking, and dined like royalty with Brian’s close friends who own Via Veneto.  Is this real life?

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Our visit was far too short, and under photographed.  But – Brian, I promise we will be back!

So we’re off again.  Chasing down NYC at dusk.

 

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We coasted into our marina just as the sun set and quickly realized that this is where boats come to die.  A boat graveyard if you will.   The docks creaked, they shook, they splintered.  It was like a haunted house with ghosts of past boats beating down the docks at night.  (This marina lured us in based on its low dockage fees…but the saying is true, you get what you pay for!)  Thankfully it was just a one night stay and we were off to meet Jen & Steve for a weekend in the Hamptons!

HERE is where my blog headline comes into play.  As we made our way north into the Long Island Bay we grounded our boat. WHAT!?  Yep…

We’ve heard other boaters say “If a captain says they’ve never run aground, they’re lying!” and even while doing my research for the loop I read it more than once, “its not IF, its WHEN”.  Well, we’ve officially joined the club.

The jolt was like being in car accident.  One minute we’re cruising along and then everything came to an abrupt stop.  I flew several feet forward, our engines powered down and our hearts sank.   We did a quick “you’re okay? i’m okay” check with each other and then jumped into action with checking our engine room and getting BoatUS out to tow us.

We sat somberly silent on the hour long tow to Seaborn Marina.  Our minds were reeling. Whats the damage?  Did we lose a pod, both?  How long will we be off of the water?  How will this impact our trip?  (As luck and the power of connections would have it, Seaborn was not only the closet Volvo certified marina BUT also happens to be managed by a friend of a friend.)

So(!) the boat was hauled out…

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and we held our breath….

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The props were bent but the pods were still there! Annnnd our Volvo engines had come out impressively unscathed.  *insert dancing girl emoji here!*

Lou at Seaborn immediately sent the the props over to Bossler & Sweezey…where “You bend ’em, We mend ’em”.  (yes, please).  The guys there came in at 4 am on the Saturday of 4th of July weekend and got us back in the water less than 24 hours after the incident.

Whoever conjured up the mentality of the nasty New Yorker has clearly never visited Bay Shore, NY.

So we’re back in the water, its Saturday, and we are still rattled.  Steve & Jen understood that our nerves were SHOT and did what best friends do when you’re SPENT….they introduced us to Rocket Fuel and Fire Island.  rocket fuel collage*Maybe* it was the Rocket Fuel but Fire Island was like Peter Pan’s NeverLand.  There are no cars, the houses are little bungalows lined down narrow sidewalks and the streets were littered with sunburned vacationers enjoying cocktails and dancing to the music from the live band in the street…soaking in the sheer happiness of s.u.m.m.e.r!

So here we are, still in Bay Shore (Long Island, NY) (and loving it).  Jen steered us to this incredible little Italian market.  We had lunch…and then came back for wi-fi and coffee so I could update the blog.  Just LOOK at that cappuccino…and *him*.

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Until next Tuesday…