March 22, 2011                                                        Day 1144

> Houma, LA, USA
> relaxed/at peace                > docked off the bayou (still)

Ah, well, today was good.  I even got a touch of school done.
J  Truthfully, I spent an hour+ this morning just putting a new lamp on my wall.  The wires were real short, so it was tough getting the crimps attached right.  Woah!  But it's done.  Then I worked on the numerous puzzle b-day cards in demand and helped Mom and Dad to repair the Wi-Fi, which was mostly successful.  We have limited Wi-Fi now.

Josh and I enjoyed the outdoorsiness of this place and went for 2 geocaches within .2 mi. of the dock.  50% success.  One is just not there.  My GPS said 0 ft. to waypoint, but it was just not there.  I e-mailed the owner.

I caught a lizard, somehow named Gar, and I let him run around on me all afternoon.  Now he's been loosed in the cockpit to be live-in pest control.  No more mosquitos!  Josh's friends came back this afternoon, so I chilled as long as they (which grew to like 5 other kids) stayed off Liberty!  It's my teensy home, not to be overrun by a crowd of single-decade boys led by Josh, who would probably lead a mutiny and take everyone out until they got flattened by the first 6-pack (barge, that is)!!  Anyway, I chilled with my lizard.  Nice!

March 23, 2011
                                                        Day 1145

> Jones Point, LA, USA
> at peace                > dark

Houma is like a little vortex, trying to suck us in.  The people are nice, but nothing is in any way convenient to get to.  There seems to be nothing special, but it's always a "must stop" place and we always spend extra day(s) doing projects!  It's the land of the lotus eaters (Greek mythology - eat a lotus and you never leave)!!  Three times today it tried to keep us here!  First, in checking the engine, "Dad" (or rather the evil guardian spirit of Houma!) broke some piping in the bilge pump system.  So, Dad walked to the hardware store and got the PVC to repair it.  By 11:00 we were all fixed and ready to leave.  Dad figured (correctly) that if we left by noon, we'd be at Lafitte's Landing, where we used to dock, well before sundown.  But, meanwhile, Mom couldn't get the Wi-Fi system working, so we almost just stayed to see about that!  In the end, we came to the decision not to worry about it.  So we got out by 11:00, but then learned that a pontoon bridge 5 miles away was going to be closed until 6pm.  We were afraid we were "going to have to go home to Houma" (Josh).  But, upon talking to the bridge tender as we approached, we found out that if we could thread the half-open/half-blocked bridge, we could go through.  So we escaped the evil clutches of wonderful Houma!

In the end, there was nothing truly spectacular for the day.  The trip to Lafitte's Landing, where we anchored at Jones Point nearby, was fairly uneventful.  We did school.  We passed this semi-uncharted mass of water called Da Farms, which we learned from a tow used to be a farm before the levee broke.  It's been miles of shallow water for as long as most folks can remember.

Lafitte's Landing used to be a dock/store/"trading post"/service shop called Fleming Canal Store where you could spend the night for a few bucks.  Recently it got sold and turned into an airboat depot, where they have a dozen airboats (flat-bottomed swamp boats with these huge fans on back) to race "touristas" 'round the bayous/swamps/canals/etc.  So we just anchored at this point around the way, and the airboats, which sound like old prop-planes, calmed down when it got dark.

Ate enchiladas, and I cast a miniature gold drone s poon out a couple of times, with no success/luck.  Josh has this real cool Star Wars PC game he got for Christmas which we installed and it's really cool.  It's called Republic Commando.  Whipped up some powdered vanilla pudding.  I'm saving some of mine for breakfast…

March 24, 2011
                                                        Day 1146

Part I
> guard dock, Industrial Canal Lock, New Orleans, LA, U SA
> tense/angry/bewildered/nervous                >docked/crammed in

I have decided to split today in two, so I can start writing now.  It's 8 minutes 'til noon.  We left Jones Point early (or at least before my rinky-dink alarm clock didn't wake me up), and started out down the ICW.  It's a big day, seeing as we go from the Point to the Harvey Locks, into the Mississippi River, past New Orleans, into the Industrial Canal (You are Here), then into Lake Pontchartrain and to the marina where we'll spend a day to go into the city.  Oh yeah, I ate my pudding with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Best breakfast in a while.  Anyway, we drove past all the suburban New Orleans "waterfront" property.  The high-end villas and the low end mobile homes.  Lots of shrimpers, and tows too.  Then, at approx. 10:00, we got to the Harvey Locks.  There are actually two locks, but the Algiers is down a southern route with tons of tows and then you have to go up the mighty Mississippi.  The river's at flood stage, so running 12 ft. high and 7kts. of current.  That's like, heavy stuff.  Surprisingly, no seas at all though.

We rose 11 ft. in the Harvey Locks.  We had some trouble hooking up to the wall, mostly because of line trouble up on the bow.  Miscommunication.  I was astern.  Not my problem.  Oh well.  We got up without anything breaking and the lockmaster sent us on our merry way into the Big River (MS).  Somehow it was not as wide or as busy as I remember, but we went further last time and through the Algiers in '05.  But we were still zippin' @ 10 knots and passing New Orleans fast.  There were a few tows, two cruise ships (LOL), and multiple container ships.  River boats, like gambling boats, paddleboats, and ferries, abounded.  One, Nachez, was tied up right at downtown and had this calypso music playing from this weird contraption of pipes shootin' steam on top.  IDK.  :- \

Anyway, about an hour ago, we pulled up to this dock to wait for the Industrial Lock to let us through.  Crazy trying to tie up to this weird out-of-the-way dock that only I saw and, of course, no one listened to me!  They just got annoyed because they didn't know where to tie up.  That carried into tying up and now we're stuck for who knows how long.  Part II this evening.

Part II
> Catfish Point, Rabbit Island, Rigolets, LA, USA
> tired, upset, tense        > infested with no-see-'ems, but calm

Well, it is so unnervingly coincidental that you (me) can actually split an entry in two, have two generally good halves, and have both halves be tainted by one bad incident at the end - and with the same person, too!   Anyway, this time it was Josh getting scolded and "taught how to eat properly" for dropping a piece of calzone on his lap, cracking a joke, and getting really laid into, and then me sticking up for him.  I knew he only cracked a joke 'cause he was upset and slightly insulted at being treated like a 2 yr. old, and trying to cope with it, but nobody else (M&D) did.  But then it's me who's gotten sent from his plate.  You know, they're always telling me to stick up for the little jerk, but this time I stuck up for him to the wrong people and he was actually wrong.  Hmmmm, let me think, could that have ever been the bloody situation before?!?!  Blind old tyrants.

While I was writing Part I, here's what happened:  We did some research and discovered that the final bridge into Lake Pontchartrain is closed, so we can't stop and spend a day in NO.  All of the marinas are in that lake, except for one and it has no room for us.  Also, meanwhile the lock finally prepared for us to go thru.  Yay; only a 2+ hour delay!  I feel bloody lucky.

We gave up trying to find a way into New Orleans, and just concentrated on finding a place to stay the night.  We stopped at Catfish Point in '05, but not since.  We thought we would have to stop at some old canal because we had been delayed too much by the lock, but in the end we made it to the Rigolets, this little chain of islands in way southern LA.  Pushing through the ICW was nothing special, but at least we didn't have to do any school today, because it was too busy/disjointed.  Josh and I interchangeably played computer all evening.  Dad made calzones, which were good, but I left the "table" with a bad taste.  Pardon the pun.

March 25, 2011
                                                        Day 1147

> Catfish Point, Rabbit Island, Rigolets, LA, USA
> lazy, but happy                > rippin' current

Today was good stay-put day.  We were supposed to go to Ship Island, this cool place off Gulfport, MS with a fort, but we have to cross the big Mississippi Sound.  That was too rough today, 'cause it was blowing like stink. (Dad)  So instead, we stuck it out here in the Rigolets.  It was actually quite nice - I had my schoolwork all done by 1:00 and got to work on a project with Mom and others for myself.

I threw out a fishing line for the afternoon and spent some time trying to crab.  Current was the problem.  It was flowing through at maybe a knot, knot and a half, strong enough that we couldn't get enough weight on the bottom (it took like 10 oz.) and couldn't pull any crabs up.  I felt them, but as soon as I pulled them off the bottom into the current, I could feel them let go.  We need a mini-collapsible crab trap.  That's how we knew there were crabs anyway, so many pots.  In the end, they just stole my bait and nothing even touched my chunk of year-old conch, part of what became supper, an … interesting … conch chowder from a cookbook Dad got for Christmas.

Oh yeah, and Josh got mad because "I was annoying him," and he stabbed me with a pencil in my left palm.  .7mm in diameter, but it's a black/gray graphite dot.  As soon as it stopped bleeding, I did surgery, somewhat unsuccessfully - did a cross-cut about 4x4mm with my Swiss Army knife and only got one tiny piece out.  There's still one more, and he didn't even get punished!

This evening we are going to watch The Rookie.  I saw it a long time ago.  It was good, that I remember.  Funny, several years ago (like 7 maybe), I went to Blockbuster with my grandma to pick a movie to watch one evening.  We got a VCR tape, and I remember seeing that one little row of DVDs.  Grandma told me that someday the whole store would be DVDs, not VCR tapes.  I don't think I believed her.  But nowadays the stores have all DVDs, except for a few Blu-ray discs.  I wonder what it will be in 20 years?  See ya.

March 26, 2011
                                                        Day 1148

> West Ship Island, MS, USA
> separate for now                > rocky, far out

Okay, today was a 5/10.  It could have been better.  Probably, no-definitely, could have been worse.  We sailed across Mississippi Sound to Ship Island, as I am sure you saw above.  We made great time and sailed the entire way, but it was pretty rough.  Choppy motion made ma nauseous.  Got school done by 1:00 when we arrived.  Right after lunch, we hit the beach.  Dad dropped the dink for the first time since we left Kemah.  The water I emerald/olive green, and the sand is white with traces of gray, black, and brown.  Very reminiscent of North Carolina.  NC is the only other place with sand that squeaks when you run on it.  Also, the Gulf-side dunes and cockle shells scattered about look very similar to NC.

Fort Massachusetts is here, but for some reason it was closed and there were no park rangers.  Maybe it's only open in summer.  From what we could tell/read, it was a small 1812 Civil War-era fort, built to protect New Orleans and Gulfport.  It was oddly shaped, like a semi-circle with these practically useless mini-bastions.  It was two stories, but the second was not roofed.  It has been renovated extensively, including the rare Totten shutters (now plastic) and hot-shot furnace.  Dad wouldn't let me keep a chip of red rock from the beach which matched original early 19th century brick.  BS!  It was a chip in the water, not anything off the wall!  I also round a whole horseshoe crab skeleton and ½ a broken  NO PARKING sign which at one point said, "NO PARKING; unauthorized vehicles will be TOWED AWAY at vehicle owner's expense - C.V.C."  Imma hang it on my mini-wall in my cabin, where my lamp, fan, to-do list, rope, and bling are.  Just tack it up, with my old Atlantis bands.

I caught ghost crabs (fiddlers) and had 8 in my hands at once.  Josh and I also saw 3 cownose rays, a 3ft. shark, 7 dolphins, 1 dolphin corpse rotting on the beach, a flock of gannets, and a giant school of menhaden.

The biggest disappointment is that we were supposed to try out the wakeboard "if there was time," which there wasn't because: A) nobody else wanted to, B) we were supposed to leave for a passage soon, C) we loitered because of A.  So, I've been told we'll try it "eventually in Florida."  IF WE EVER GET TO FLORIDA!  I can't drive myself around.  I've often wished I had a twin brother or sister who could do stuff with me and be at the same level with me.  Understand my jokes, not get movies/songs censored for me, generally get me more, ya know?  Dad and Unc were about a year apart, so they were like that.  Whateva.  We were supposed to leave on an overnight passage to Panama City or Tampa Bay, FL, but then Dad cancelled because the wind was picking up and he didn't want to cross Mississippi Sound at night, after everyone was tense and tryin' to clean up fast.  We'll probably leave in the morning.  It's taken me like an hour to write all this.  I'm slow.  That's what makes my school essays drive me mad.  Oh no.  Adios.

March 27, 2011
                                                        Day 1149

> Point Cadet City Marina, Biloxi, MS, USA
> everyone's asleep!                > docked in harbor

We can speculate all day about what would have happened if we had left last night (we woulda been clobbered - in my opinion) or if we had kept on goin' today (we woulda been clobbered - in my opinion), but the facts are that Dad heard a weather forecast this morning for really bad weather if we kept going, and we turned off for Biloxi, MS.  I think we arrived around noon.  We fueled up and took a slip here at a city-run marina.  Josh & I cast-netted a half dozen menhaden off the docks.  We got to take long, hot showers.  Did you know that gambling is legal in Mississippi?  Well, it is, and Biloxi is the 3rd largest gambling destination in the country, after Vegas & Atlantic City.  There are casinos up and down Beach Blvd., the big waterfront street.

After taking showers, we took the "casino hopper" trolley more towards the center of town.  There's a great bus/transportation system here.  We stopped at the Hard Rock Café/Hotel/Casino and got ice cream at the Ben & Jerry's there.  Man, who don't love that stuff!  I got to see all sorts of rock star memorabilia from one of Slash's hats, to Waylon Jennings' boots, to an Elton John robe/costume.

Anywho, we went to the other city marina (don't ask) to see about moving.  I don't think we will.  Talked to an Al, the harbor master, who told us a lot about the city.  They seem to have a pretty great reverence of Hurricane Katrina, as it practically flattened the city.  They talk about it everywhere.  Also, Biloxi used to be the world's largest shrimp and seafood producer before the hurricane(s) and during the last generation.  The fleets had thousands of boats and their own processing plants.  Wow.  Now, the total number of boats is down to less than a hundred.  Whoa!  There are more charter fishing boats now.   We learned some cool stuff like that.  Neat stuff.

We heard (don't ask who) that there was a grocery store nearby, and finally we got good enough directions to walk there, but one person did note that the further, harder-to-get-to, one was the "more American" one.  Hmmm?  What could that mean?  Well, the closer one was bought by a Vietnamese family, and now it is the Asian superstore.  They sell live tilapia, imported milkfish and snails, weird stuffs of all, and I mean you pick it, categories.  They had a whole isle of curry paste and fish paste.  Ground shake-head fish in brine - Blech!!  Azuki bean creamsicle - who knows!  They sold tamarind juice and others I didn't know.  The vegetable section seemed 1/3 regular veggies, 1/3 odd vegetables (often marked only in characters, if that), and 1/3 yams (not sweet potatoes, but real yams) from all over the eastern hemisphere!  It was kind of cool and awfully weird at the same time.

We got just enough stuff for a couple of days, plus we had to carry all of it all the way home (like 3+ miles).  We did break it up, as we stopped into a Catholic church/cathedral for an hour of contemporary (thank God!) mass.  It was interesting.  The "father" seemed to be promoting the Catholic faith (not Christianity in general) and some ministry he's doing, not as much on the gospel.  He told some good jokes and at least as many bad ones.

Well, I was pooped by the time we got back here.  We have A/C and Wi-Fi.  I saw about 10 geocaches on Beach Blvd. online.  Maybe we'll find them.  I'd bet we're here for a couple of days.  Um, not much else.  It's almost midnight.  The evil hour - when I should be ketchin' zzzz's.

March 28, 2011
                                                        Day 1150

> City marina, Biloxi, MS, USA
> easy-goin', cleaning up                > docked

The major thing today was laundry/Wal-Mart.  Some people (I think they're named Mick and Kris) who live aboard and want to go cruising soon loaned us a car to go out.  As we had three weeks of laundry and a substantial Wal-Mart list, it was quite helpful.  That took up the entire afternoon.

In the morning we did school.  In the late morning, Brian P., a friend of Mom & Dad's from the USAF in Italy, came over.  He lives here in Biloxi with his wife and 15 & 12 year old sons.  They are coming for supper tomorrow.  Until then - no news!
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