Ed.Note: We started planning this journey by boat - 'The Loop' - in 2018, joined the AGLCA [Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association] that fall and went to one of their conferences in Fort Myers, FL in January 2019; where we simultaneously looked at a boat specifically for the Loop, which Marg's sister and bro.in-law, Pat/Warren Briggs, had already scouted for us. Our 1987 Trojan 12M, which we had had since 2015, would not fit our needs for a two year journey; a 2005 Meridian 490 Pilothouse, with its environment-controlled PH and easier access, would.

The end result has been a blog compiled in two volumes, 2020 - Book 1 describing our cruise in 2020, from Florence to a heated winter storage in the Thousand Is. NY - and now 2021 - Book 2, with blogs from May 8 until Aug.13/21 - our return home via the Great Lakes. The 2021 map outlines our drive from Florence to NY - a black trail with 'spots' for each hotel stay and our boat travel with a blue line and its spots representing stays at marinas. The book's cover photo is of our boat, Doc's Aweigh, and another looper boat, Here's to Us, at the transient service dock of Horizon Marina, Thousand Is., NY.

Friends could follow us via our travelmap.net link and post comments, which have been included. For anyone interested in reading the complete original blog, with all the photos, etc. [839 pictures in 2020 - 522 in 2021], it remains accessible on our blog site - https://robandmarg.travelmap.net/. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021: Picked up an Enterprise SUV today and began packing to resume our Loop; we leave Monday, May 10 to drive 1190 miles to Alexandria Bay, NY, in the Thousand Is. in the St. Lawrence River, about 30 miles below Lake Ontario. Doc's Aweigh has been in a heated warehouse at Horizon Marina where she had her gelcoat 'waxed' as well as several minor surface damages repaired.

We will stop in Winchester, VA Monday night and reach A.Bay on Tues; staying at a hotel there for several nights while reorienting ourselves to the boat and restocking her. We have a good weeks worth of work [will comment as we do it] to put in before our 'planned' departure date of Friday, May 21, when we will head for Oswego, NY, on the S.shore of L.Ontario.

We had originally hoped to travel through Canada [via the Rideau Canal/River system, followed by the Trent-Severn Waterway to L. Hurons Georgian Bay] but with the Canadian Covid lockdown continuing, we will now stick to the American shore [except for the 28 miles up the Canadian Welland Canal, which links L.Ontario with L.Erie, just NW of Niagara Falls]; we will cruise the southern shores of four of the Great Lakes--Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan--to Chicago, where we return to the inland rivers [Illinois R, Mississippi R, Ohio R, and finally Tennessee R.].

We estimate it will be 2260 miles and arrive back home the first week of August. We look forward to resuming our journey and recounting our adventures in the blog. It goes without saying that there will be lots of photos again [869 last year].

Preparations to leave: Yesterday, I took our rescue dog, Porter, a 90% German Short-Haired Pointer, that we've had since Christmas 2015, to his boarding kennel yesterday; same place as last year. We are grateful to have Sherrie's Pet Resort to care for him.

Doing a last minute walkabout, found a section of the fence partially pulled away from the NW corner; it could potentially have fallen onto the neighbors car next door!. Repaired it; along with the nearby gate latch that had come off [due to a warping gate frame, which will need to be fixed in the fall], so replaced it as well. [We have a 7' fence/gate to keep Porter in the yard and the deer out!]

Thoroughly cleaned the pool and the pond; and carried out a 'final' weeding of the backyard fern-bed - don't see any more Pokes Salad sprouts [they are tubers and I had to dig them out this spring], so shouldn't have a forest [see photo of last fall] of them again, like last year, when we return home. We are fortunate to have Chris and Dana living in Florence to keep an eye on the house while we are away [we also have an excellent lawn maintenance fellow].

Our mail is now being forwarded to a commercial service in Florida - they scan it, we can see it on-line and decide what to shred or view, or have it mailed to us at a marina.

PHOTOS: At the request of the Admiral, have attached several showing our backyard this spring - we missed all this last year. A few of the boat interior, clean and unsullied before we launch! One of the quilt our sister-in-law, Dale, made for the boat [a skill I will never master]. Also, one of the 'eye' that I spliced in the new 125' line [5/8" double braided nylon purchased from friend Terry Smith], in preparation for our Welland Canal trip [you'll hear more about it then].

From the Admiral:

And away we go again!

It was an interesting time being back on solid ground and in our home of 26 years. 7mos is a long time to be away! It felt like home but we had to get reacquainted with our old routines, light switches, etc. Of course Covid made nothing normal. Our dog, Porter, apparently didn't realize we had been gone so long. He came in the door like we only left yesterday and sat waiting for a cookie.

An interesting revelation to me was that my car is black! I remember maroon, but that was the previous version. This is MDX #7 and we got it only a few months before leaving. An aging brain.😅

Being home soon got to be like the boat! A new breakdown and repair for Rob daily. In the first couple of weeks we replaced 2 water heaters, the sink disposal, had the pool drained again so the liner wrinkles from when it drained itself could be repaired, painted the wrought iron fence, repaired the trellis around the pool pumps and dug up 12ft weeds in the fern bed. Rob did much of the work, of course, under my direction, but we seemed to have a lot of repair people here in the first couple of weeks. I'm still dealing with MdDS so balance/mobility is still an issue therefore not much help. [ed.note: MdDS refers to Marg's Mal de Debarquement Syndrome - the constant 'sea-legs' problem acquired when we crossed the Gulf]

We drove to Jeff's in Missoula in November. He bought a townhouse and we went to help with his move. He has 40 aquariums and had some serious wiring to do in his new basement.

Just to make sure we didn't miss a possible repair expense, one of our AC units started making loud noises. Apparently a Freon leak and the unit will need replacing when we get back.

That's all folks. Will continue with the mapping and photos and comments on Monday. Stay safe.


Meridee - 10 May 2021 - I did this wrong Lol! The back yard was gorgeous! The pool is calling to me.