Fran & Richard’s Grand Tour Port Denarau Marina, Viti Levu, Fiji July 5, 2015 Posted by: Fran Happy Independence Day! We celebrated by considering reading the Declaration of Independence over lunch on Fran’s phone, but because of the lack of reading glasses, decided to wait and read from the hardcopy version we have here on the boat. Oh, yes, we do. RED’s red hull was polished, so he was in fine spirits for the day. And we had a lovely dinner at the Rhum-ba, while I can’t recommend the oysters, I can highly recommend the service. Seems while sitting at the table, at the edge of the deck, one of my shoes went for a swim… Not a big deal as they aren’t comfortable anyway, and it’s not a long walk home. However, our server John tracked the shoe on the outgoing tide as it made its way to the fuel dock, where he valiantly rescued the flipping flop. He then dried it and brought it to me at the table! I’m NOT kidding! How cool was that? The Grand Tour: We left RED ‘on the hard’ in Whangarei (pronounced Fang a ray) in late February. We flew in to LAX and spent a night with a good friend there, then went up to Alaska for the Iditarod (see our earlier posts). From there, we spent a couple of weeks in Oregon, celebrating “Kelly Week” (3 birthday’s, 2 anniversaries, Spring equinox, St. Paddy’s day, etc.) That was a great, though fuzzy time. Now, on to our trip to the East Coast part of the trip: Our East Coast tour began by flying in to South Carolina. We then drove to Asheville, North Carolina and had a great visit with really great friends. Greenville/Spartanburg South Carolina airport has ROCKING CHAIRS! We then drove (part of) The Blue Ridge Parkway up to visit my brother Michael in Virginia. Blue Ridge Parkway Bridge Cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway After a quick overnight there, we stayed with long-time friends just outside of Washington, DC. It was so nice to be together again after many years – and it was like no time had passed. We went into Washington each day on the Metro and toured until we couldn’t tour no more. (We each had spent considerable time in Washington, but not together, so it was fun to show each other our favorite places.) The National Art Gallery is where I saw my first, in person, Impressionist paintings. Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Matisse and others. How did I let myself get to this age without seeing those in person?? What a lovely day. National Gallery of Art Inside the National Gallery of Art Inside the National Gallery of Art An unexpected treat while touring Washington, DC was spending the day with my brother Michael, and niece, Michelle. Michelle was just finishing her Master’s degree at Washington University, and acted as gracious tour guide for the rest of us. (BTW, expect to see her opening as lead soprano at the Metropolitan Opera soon!) The tour group Burghers of Calais by Rodin, one of Richard’s favorites. DC License Plate – yup, that’s what it says. Richard and the Wright Brothers Julia’s Kitchen Richard’s favorite: Apollo Soyuz. A fascinating joint project between the US and the Soviet Union in 1975 (yup, it was still very ‘Cold’ at that time). Read about Apollo Soyuz Test Project here. We did a little jewelry shopping in DC. Though this is quite nice, it’s a little too ‘much’ for us 😉 Hope Diamond Eventually we headed back to Oregon to prepare for our flight to RED in New Zealand. We had a 12 hour layover in Detroit….fortunately, the airport has been updated and is no longer the ‘worst airport in the US’, as it was when I was living in Detroit, and flying regularly… We enjoyed a day room at the hotel and chilled, though we did make time for a Coney Dog (at my brother Joe’s prompting – thanks Doh!) Coney Dog in Detroit! Mm, mmm, GREAT! We left Washington on the “Vermonter” a very civilized Amtrak train that gave us about 12 hours to relax as we saw many states on our way north. After the whirlwind touring and visiting we’d done, 12 hours with no responsibilities, and a bar car mere steps away was a treat. View from the Vermonter. Train from Washington, DC, to Essex Junction, Vermont We reached Northern Vermont in a blizzard! But it was beautiful. We celebrated Ginger’s birthday with she and Wes (Daughter, Grandson). Then had a blast watching Wes perform in a school play, written, acted and directed by the kids, most of whom are in the 14 year old range. They did an amazing job and we laughed all the way through. Now we’re back on RED, have snorkeled and kayaked some and are now preparing to head out to the Yasawa’s, the beautiful chain of islands on Fiji’s west side. More soon! Post navigation Iditarod time – Alaska!Fiji, Flowers, Friends and Fun! 2 Comments Wow, great photos! We are at the height of our red salmon season at our Lake Iliamna cabin. Enjoy Fiji!! Oh Maria, that sounds like fun! How’s the catch so far?