The Good and Bad Parts About Visiting our Nation’s Capital

The good: Monumental reminders of our great founding fathers. Fantastic!

The bad: The horrible photos people take. Here’s our homage to bad tourist pics. 

Taking pictures of a monument with  people in the foreground. Surprising. 

Cutting out part of the monument in their photo. Disappointing. 

Badly thought out composition: the Narwhal. 

Jets flying overhead every 15 minutes. Unexpected. 

And the next one. 

Selfies in front of non-descript federal buildings on the tour bus. Funny. 

It was a nice day that afternoon. Lots of sunshine. 

Not paying attention to all the details. 

Strange lighting without explanation. 

Tour buses with their engines running. Noisy. 

Another great shot of the Jefferson memorial! Maybe not. 

Cars honking at each other at the traffic lights. Uncool. 

The cherry blossoms were pretty. Why are we here again?

Selfies with shadows on their faces. Unbelievable. 

The gift shop tent. Delightful. 

Lunch at the memorial. 

Lincoln Memorial Potties

Or cherry blossom potties?

Lack of focus: the Jefferson Monument. 

Did I mention the jets?

A tourist impressing his family with a paddle boat ride and picking a cherry blossom-sized booger out of his nose right when I took a picture. So awesome I cropped it. 

Trying to take selfie and getting a tourist in the background. Brilliant I’m a Narwhal #2.

This is as close as we got to the White House. 

But there’s always time at the end of the day for a bad attempt at food photography. 

5 amazing facts about the SOS distress signal – Contrary to popular belief, SOS does not stand for ‘save our souls’ or ‘save our ship’. Nor does it mean ‘send out succour’. SOS actually stands for nothing at all.

The SOS distress signal has been a staple for emergency communication for 110 years, and although communications technology is very different now to the days of Morse Code, the term is still widely used today.

The SOS distress signal was the work of the British Marconi Society and the German Telefunk, who established it at the Berlin Radio Society on October 3, 1906 – although it wasn’t properly introduced until July 1, 1908.

To celebrate this landmark occasion, we take a look at some of the interesting SOS facts from across the last 110 years:

SOS does not stand for anything

Contrary to popular belief, SOS does not stand for ‘save our souls’ or ‘save our ship’. Nor does it mean ‘send out succour’. SOS actually stands for nothing at all.

SOS was selected purely because it could be very easily transmitted in Morse code during distress · · · – – – · · · (dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot). Only later did the likes of ‘save our souls’ emerge.

The SOS signal was first used in 1909

SOS was formally introduced on July 1, 1908 and almost a year later it was used by the Cunard liner SS Slavonia on July 10, 1909 during a shipwreck off the Azores, Portugal.

All on board were rescued, and some of the cargo – which included 400 bags of coffee, 1,000 ingots of copper and 200 casks of oil – were salvaged from the wreckage before it was completely abandoned.

SOS took a while to be adopted

Even though the SOS distress signal was made official in 1908, it took some time to be widely adopted. So much so that in 1912, the radio operator aboard the striken Titanic used the old CQD distress signal first before he joked that they may as well do the new SOS distress signal too as they may never get a chance to try it again.

Think you know Morse code? Try their quiz.

Courtesy of Jamie Harris on



The Nature is in the Details

The Smoky Mountains National Park is big. Very big. Half a MILLION ACRES big. 

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble conceiving that. When I gaze 70 miles across the forest, it seems unreal. The details are lost in the vastness. 

When I look at something closely, I see and feel it in a way I can understand. For example, I saw this and just had to take a picture. 

When most people only take this type of picture, which is also good, but it’s not very creative. 

Just like when I took up underwater photography, I take pictures to see more. More color, more texture and more of the unseen detail versus what is seen with just the naked eye. 

I’m going to share a bunch of pictures that Lindsay and I took. 

Get a closer look. Enjoy the nature in the details. 

Possible Escape Route

Ok, just to be clear, we are not making a decision yet. We have to wait and see how the system develops over the next 3 days. Here is the forecasted wind and wave conditions at 10pm on Saturday, the 27th of August.


72 hrs as of 2am 24-Aug-16As you can see we are only forecasted 1 to 2 foot seas, and 10 knots of wind on Saturday night, so we have time to watch and wait for the predicted path of the center of the low pressure system, whatever it may be at that time.

We are hopeful that the system heads north and doesn’t affect us very much, and we are allowed to move the boat into our new slip at Safe Harbour Marina a few days early.

In case things get ugly, the green arrow is the escape route from Key West to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It is about 350 nautical miles away. We can travel between 6 and 8 knots, so that is a 50 hour trip at 7 knots. That’s the current backup plan.

Currently we are in the middle of yet another lightning storm and bouncing around in the mooring field. The fear of being hit by a bolt of lightning with the ominous threat of a tropical storm approaching is a bit unnerving at the moment. But this will soon pass, as we have plans for happy hour at BO’s Fish Wagon and the Green Parrot in a couple of hours, once this storm clears!

The tide has turned.

Amazing news! For weeks I have been calling dockmasters and searching the internet for a place to keep our boat in the Key West area, without any luck. One of the marinas has actually closed by a developer for construction and another one is kicking people out so they can ask for higher rent from new customers. We were quoted the highest price we’d ever seen from them, and chartering was not allowed. With all of the new boats being driven out and on the search for a place to call home, I was coming up with “no availability” everywhere I looked between Key West and Marathon, which is an hour drive from here. Things were not looking good, so we moved into the City Mooring Field for August. I was serously looking into moving us to Marathon so we could start chartering up there, buy my heart wasn’t in it.

mooring field key west
Pros: Cheap access to Key West and a parking space Cons: Exposed to weather, must run generator for AC, sometimes bouncy and wet ride in dighy, NO CHARTERING ALLOWED, that means no AirBnB either.

After taking someone’s recommendation to walk the docks and ask around, as a last resort Lindsay and I got in the car and drove to a couple of marinas on Stock Island. After being told we didn’t even fit at the first one because are boat is too wide, we drove to the second one called Safe Harbour Marina. we walked around and got a feel for the place. It’s not fancy, quite the opposite and very “Keesie.” You know, driftwood signs, old styrofoam trap bouys string up in the restaurant, shrimp boats, trailor park, old men with ponytails. We’d been there before, but we were not looking at the marina.



They describe themselves as being like “Old Key West.” We saw Mel Fisher’s treasure-hunting boat tied to the wall.

Mel Fisher's Treasure Boat

I met the dockmaster and started a conversation with him about how we couldn’t find a slip anywhere. He started thinking and told me to call back in three days, something might be opening up. When I did call him back, he said he knew of a privately-owned slip that he also manages, which is next to his marina on the outside of the basin. Someone just confirmed they were moving out of there and into another spot that opened up today. He didn’t know if our boat would fit but he had another spot for us, however it didn’t have electricity yet. He thought I wouldn’t be interested. I thought “LIKE HELL!” and told him I’d be right there to look at it. We really needed a place to put the boat while we do some travelling in September and October. I really wanted this to work.

Safe Harbour Marina Key West


I kind of guessed that we would fit, but couldn’t tell without getting in a small boat and actually measuring it. I told him if we fit we would definitely take it. Then I risked it all by asking about living aboard and doing charters from it. The risk would be that activities like this would be restricted and once he knew our plans, he would not rent to us. He said, “I’ve got people calling me and saying they can’t find a charter boat like yours to take them out snorkeling, you would do great business here.” I almost cried I was so exciting about hearing that. I asked him about availability beyond October, and he just shrugged and said, “yeah, sure.” This was a first-come-first-served boat slip that just opened up hours ago, and I was standing there in front of the dockmaster! We started talking about his vacation home in Costa Rica that he is going to list on AirBnb and he started showing me pictures. We talked about that for half an hour and shared some laughs. What a great landlord he would be! But Lindsay and I knew that had to confirm we fit and sign a contract or it’s going to someone else, he wouldn’t wait long.

Close enough to be called Key West, even though it's on Stock Island. Just a 10 minute drive to Duval Street.
Close enough to be called Key West, even though it’s on Stock Island. Just a 10 minute drive to Duval Street. Lots of fishing charter boats operate out of here.


Lindsay and I borrowed a dighy from a friend at a nearby marina and took some line to measure the distance between the newly driven pilings. WE FIT! We drove the dinghy into the marina and found the dockmaster, Dave. We paid our deposit and got a gate key. That’s it, we locked it in!

This is our spot, with a clear, deep channel to the coral reefs and Atlantic Ocean.
This is our spot, with direct access to the coral reefs and Atlantic Ocean.


We now have a COMMERCIAL BOAT SLIP starting next month. What a relief!

The Rockies

Tadd has decided that Colorado is now his favorite state (bad luck Montana!) and I am inclined to agree… we haven’t been able to find an ugly or boring part of it yet!

After a cozy night in our loaner cabin in Estes Park, CO, we woke up to see a small group of Elk crossing the stream behind the cabin. And so it was time to go explore some more of this Elk territory – off to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

As the whole world seemed to be headed up to Bear Lake for the view, we decided to turn back and find our own space… which we did pretty well; not seeing more than a few others on the trail we found along the south side of the Moraine Park.

sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0422
Autumn in the Rockies

And autumn means Elk mating season….

sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0424
In The Middle There’s a Male Elk “Singing” for All His Worth


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0425
Views and More Views


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0427
I Seem To Find Thistles The World Around


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0429
More Amazing Contrast


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0431


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0432
Headed Over The Pass and Down to Boulder


sm_Rocky Mtn Nat Park_0434
Last Glimpse

We have fallen in love with the mountains!