Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24 - Vero Beach

Pictures to follow....

April 15 – Green Turtle Cay
We had a quiet day today. School in the morning as usual. In the afternoon, Dave took the girls in the dinghy to go into town. On the way a guy whose dingy motor had quit flagged them down. They ended up towing him back to his boat with our little dinghy. We went into shore and had a swim in the pool, and then Annie and Kristen and I took Lily, the dog off Hale Kai for a walk. In the evening, Dave and I went in to hear the band that was playing at the Green Turtle Club. They were really good! It was a neat evening sitting out under the stars, watching the band playing under this big tree that was all covered in little white lights.
April 16 – Green Turtle Cay to Crab Cay
We left Green Turtle around 10:00. We weren’t in a big hurry and we wanted to make sure there was enough tide to get out safely. We rolled out the jib and motor sailed about 18 miles to Crab Cay. We got there around 2:00. Hale Kai was there, and they came over to see if the girls wanted to go to shore with them to walk Lily. Dave and I tidied up the boat and then went in too. We had a great walk. The beach isn’t sand here, it is either stone or rocks. We walked across the cay, and then back around the end of the island. It ended up being quite a long walk! We found lots of milk conch shells that are smaller than queen conch, but still really pretty. There was a deserted camp there too, made up of old sails and tarps. It was kink of weird!
April 17 – Crab Cay to Great Sail Cay
We left fairly early, around 7:00. It was a great day for a sail and we put all the sails up. We had a glorious sail for the entire day, and covered about 38 miles, arriving at Great Sail around 2:00. As we turned to go south after we went around the top of great sail, about a dozen dolphins came up and started swimming with the boat. There was one little one that was having a great time zig-zagging in front of the boat and then dropping back and catching up again. They swam with us for 20 minutes or half and hour. When we got to Great Sail we dropped the girls off on Gotta Life and Dave and I went for a walk on the shore. After our walk we picked up the girls, and then went back to the boat for supper. After supper we went back over to Gotta Life for a visit.
April 18 – 19 – Great Sail to Vero Beach Florida
Our original plan was to stay in Great Sail today, and then leave in the morning to cross to Fort Pierce in Florida tomorrow. As we listened to the forecast, we decided that we would prefer to sail the 50 miles across the bank over-night and then cross the 60 miles over the Gulf Stream during the day tomorrow. Based on that, we planned to leave at 7:00 tonight. The girls did some school in the morning and then went over to Gotta Life to go swimming. I went up Hale Kai’s mast to free up their topping lift that had broken free and gotten tangled. Annie Erin Dave and I went for a walk on the beach. We found some pieces of silver honeycomb that was likely dropped off from the space shuttle. We also found a 50lb bail of raw rubber. It would have been pretty hard to figure out it was, but they had one on display at the museum that we visited in Hopetown. The bales of rubber were being transported from South America to Europe during the second world war, and the ship was sunk by an Italian U-Boat. The bales of rubber have been washing up on the bahamian beaches ever since.
We had supper and left Great Sail at 7:00 as planned. Several other boats left around the same time, and we kept in contact with them throughout the night. We had a very uneventful night. We sailed off the bank and out of the Bahamas around 4:00am. The seas in the gulf stream were predicted to be quite high, but in the end it was fine. The waves were big, but they were far apart so we just went up and down without being rolled about too much. We went in the cut to Fort Pierce around 2:00pm. We had planned to spend the night in Fort Pierce, but the marina was full, so we went the additional 15 miles to Vero Beach and picked up a mooring. Dave called into customs, and they told us that we would all have to show up at immigration within 24 hours, so we planned to rent a car tomorrow to go do that and get some groceries. We got settled in, had showers, went for a walk, had an early supper and went to bed.
April 21 – Vero Beach
We rented the car at noon and went to Fort Pierce to get registered at immigration. It was no problem at all. Then we went and had lunch at Subway! We went to Walmart to get groceries! All and all an uneventful day, but pretty fun when you haven’t seen any of these things for a couple of months.

April 14 - Green Turtle Cay (with pictures)

April 6 – Black Point to Treasure Cay It was flat calm when we woke up in the morning – the calm before the storm! We left around 9:00 and headed up to Treasure Cay, on the other side of Marsh Harbour. There was a strong cold front forecast and we decided to tuck into the marina there. By 11:00 the wind was really piping up, and sailing was great. It was really shallow going into Treasure Cay, but we made it down the channel all right. Then, just as Dave was making the wide turn to get into the marina slip, we ran aground! It was kind of funny really, the gang from Gotta Life and Sandpiper, and the guy from the marina were all there waiting to take our lines, and we were stopped, dead in the water, about 50 feet from the dock. Some one came out and offered to try to get us off, but we knew we were on a rising tide and it wouldn’t be long before we were off on our own. We were just settling in for a half hour (or so) wait when there was a big gust of wind and Kristen said "We’re moving!" Sure enough, the wind blew us off the shallow spot and we were floating again. We got tied up after that with no more problems! Treasure Cay is a lovely spot. There is a nice marina with a pool, a great grocery store and a beautiful sandy beach. After we all walked around the little shopping center we went to the beach for a swim. The girls and Mark stayed in the water until suppertime! After supper the wind really blew up (over 40 knots) and we were all glad we were safely tied up.
April 7 – Treasure Cay It was school in the morning, with a trip to the bakery for cinnamon rolls at recess – they certainly know how to make cinnamon rolls here! When school was over, Annie Kristen and I went for a walk back to the shopping center and met a family from Miami that were over in the Abacos for a week on a charter boat. They are planning to go cruising next year so they were very interested in what we were doing. We went back and took a look at the tug-style boat they were chartering and are thinking of buying – there was lots of room! In the evening they came over for a visit and to take a look at the materials we were using for home schooling.
April 8 – Treasure Cay to Great Guana Cay
We left a little after 9:00 in the morning, not wanting to hurry away from Treasure Cay, but a little worried about the falling tide. We had a short hop over to Great Guana and dropped the anchor a little before 12:00. When we came into the anchorage there were only 3 boats, and within 15minutes of us dropping out anchor there were a total of 14! It’s a pretty busy spot. In the afternoon we went exploring on this pretty island. There is a small town that is very pretty, and then you can walk across the island to the popular "Nipper’s Bar and Grill". It is a fun and colorful spot that overlooks a great beach and the ocean. We had a good walk on the beach. On our way back to the boat we swung by a boat registered in Halifax. As we pulled up they asked if we were off "Bird on a Wire". They were glad to meet us as they had actually thought about buying "Bird", but in the end decided it was too much work! In the evening we went over to Gotta Life to play dominos.

April 9 –
Great Guana Cay to Man-O-War Cay
We had another short day today to go to Man-O-War Cay. Again, we needed to time the tide so we had enough water to get into the protected mooring field. Gotta Life and Sandpiper decided to anchor off rather than go into the harbour and get a mooring. We finished up school and then went off exploring. Gotta Life had the same idea and we met up in the North harbor. We had a great walk through the town. There are some great shops here. In one canvas shop, there were three women sewing the canvas bags on old sewing machines. The bags were great, but we didn’t buy anything. We walked out towards the north end of the island and the girls looked for shells on the beach. Sheryl and I left the rest of them there around 4:00 to go back into town to pick up a few things at the store. By the time we got back, we discovered that all the gift shops closed at 4:00. Oh well. As we walked back to the dinghy we were looking in a shop window and the lady was just running back into pick something up and she said we could go in if we wanted. I ended up getting t-shirts for the girls (50% off J ). The ice cream shop was going to open up again at 6:00, so we agreed to meet Gotta Life and Sandpiper back at shore after supper for some ice cream. Ice cream was great but Dave ended up talking to some guys on the dock and missed out altogether! April 10 – Man-O-War We did school in the morning and then called Gotta Life in the afternoon to see if they still wanted to go snorkeling. They ended up moving to Hopetown in the morning as the wind had shifted around and they were getting bounced around in the anchorage. It was overcast and pretty chilly for snorkeling (yes, we are getting spoiled) so we went for a walk in town again. All the stores were closed for Good Friday. After we stretched our legs we dinghied back down to the sand bar and collected lots of sea biscuit shells (like sanddollars except fatter). April 11 – Man-O-War to Hopetown We left Man-O-War at 8:00 while we still had tide to get out, and headed the 8 miles to Hopetown. We got to Hopetown around 10:00 and there was still enough tide to get in. We eventually found a mooring and called Gotta Life, who was anchored outside. Hopetown is another really pretty Bahamian town. The beautiful red and white striped lighthouse overlooks the town and is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Like Man-o-War, it is pretty touristy with lots of really high-end rentals and vacation properties. We went to the museum that was really interesting and well done. It was interesting to read that the Hopetown lighthouse was pretty controversial when it was built as it put an end to the wrecking industry in Hopetown. Up until that point, the locals supplemented their farming and fishing existence by salvaging thing off ships that ran aground on the reef – fortunately it wasn’t all greed and they saved a lot of lives too! After the museum we went back to the boat, and then went to visit the lighthouse. This lighthouse is pretty special as it is one of the few manned light houses left, and it is still lit by a kerosene lantern, and uses a fresno lens to magnify the light so it can be seen for 10 miles. The lens is turned by weights that must be wound every two hours throughout the night. The workings of the lighthouse have remained the same since it first started operating! We had heard that you could arrange with the lighthouse keepers to go up with them to light the light, so we knocked on the lighthouse keepers door, and sure enough, he said it was okay to come back at 7:30 to help light the light. We made a quick trip back to town for some groceries, and then went back to the boat for supper. We got back to the light at 7:30 and met Gotta Life, Sandpiper and Fred from Casa Mara there. We spent about an hour at the top of the light, watching the keeper prepare to light the light, and then light it. It works pretty much the same as the stove on our boat, where the pressurized kerosene needs to be preheated with alcohol, then the burner is lit. It does have a mantle (which our stove does not) and that generates the light. We wound up the weights with a crank, and then the lens started to turn around. It was a great experience!

April 12 – Hopetown.
The Easter Bunny found Bird on a Wire and left a trail of bunny chocolate! Gotta Life and Sandpiper left in the morning to go up to Green Turtle Cay, and we decided to stay another day in Hopetown. We had a great walk on the beach and found lots of sea glass. We spent a quiet afternoon on the boat and then got dressed to go out for an ‘Early Bird" Easter supper. Supper was great. It was a real treat to go out for supper! After supper the girls went back to the boat and Dave and I went for a dingy around the harbour and watched as the lighthouse got lit.
April 13 – Hopetown to Green Turtle Cay.
Kristen’s entry: Today we debated about going through the Whale cut or not. We were scared it was going to be rough, but if it was okay it would be stupid not to go. Eventually we went and it wasn’t that bad because we went at slack tide. We got to Green Turtle and we saw where Gotta Life was. They were anchored outside of White Sound. We went in White Sound and picked up a mooring. Then, a little bit later, we called Gotta Life and asked if they wanted to go town. They said yes, so about and hour later we went over to Gotta Life for a while. Then we took the two dinghies and went to town. Annie and I went with Gotta life and Mum and Dad took our dinghy. Because it was Easter Monday everything was closed. The town was neat. There was an "Olde Gaol" painted pink with green wooden doors that anyone could have broken out of any day (even me). There were a lot of chickens, and white picket fences around every yard. While we were waiting for Brian to come back with the dinghy after getting diesel, Mum asked Sheryl if Erin and Geneva could come for supper and a sleepover on our boat. She said yes, so Annie and I went back in their dinghy to Gotta life to get their stuff, and then we all went to Bird. Mum took us all to shore to go swimming and to have showers while Dad made supper (and brownies). We had a really fun time. (end of Kristen’s entry)
April 14 – Green Turtle Cay
We had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, and then Brian and Sheryl came to get the girls around 9:30. We made another trip to town so they could actually go in the shops before they left to go to Angelfish Point. (We planned to stay a few more days in Green Turtle.) In one store we found a Bahamian steel drum, so Annie and Kristen bought one with their allowance. Gotta Life got one too – I wonder what the concert will sound like! After Gotta Life (and Sandpiper) left we went back to the boat and had lunch and then did school. Dave worked on tightening the motor mount that had slipped again. Later in the afternoon we went into the pool and had a swim and a shower. We met Val and Peter off Valerie Arden, a Baba 40 that seems in the same places as us every night! They were really friendly, and gave us a brand new game "Voyagers" that they had had on their boat for a long time and had never played – they thought a family should have it! We had a fun time playing it after supper. As we were playing there seemed to be a lot of activity in the anchorage and then there was a lot of chatter on the radio about a squall coming. We turned on the radar and could see it coming towards us. There was a lot of thunder and lightning all evening, and lots of rain in the squall, be we didn’t see the really high winds that had been forecast. In any event, we were really glad to be on a mooring and not worrying about dragging anchor in the poor holding in White Sound.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Exumas and Nassau - March 18 to April 2

Finally - some pictures!
March 18 – Warderick Wells
We did school in the morning. In the afternoon we went into the beach. Priority and Zola came up to the park and anchored in Emerald Rock, around the corner from where we were on a mooring, so they came into the beach too. We went for a hike up to Boo Boo Hill, down the sound to Boo Boo Beach, and then back around to the bank side and back to the park office. The kids took the kayaks out and had a good time playing with the kayaks on the shallow water in the middle of the mooring field. Later in the afternoon Dave, Kristen, Brian and I went snorkeling at a little reef near the cut to the sound. It was really neat. There were lots of schools of large fish; there were dozens of huge lobsters and we saw two eagle rays. We saw a "real" shark – probably a reef shark or a sand shark -as opposed to the nurse sharks we usually see.
After supper we all went back to shore. Gotta Life brought in their computer and a movie that Geneva rented from the office. The kids all watched a movie on one picnic table and the adults sat at the other picnic table and talked. Warderick Wells Cay is inhabited by the endangered rodent species called Hutia. These little creatures look like a gerbil on steroids – they are about the size of half a loaf of bread with a thin tail about the length of their body. They are a dark sandy color. Most of us thought they were pretty cute. Like many rodents they are nocturnal, so as dark fell we could hear them rustling around in the undergrowth. There were some food scraps left around from last night’s pot luck so we think they were nibbling on that. The kids got quite a start when one of them ran under their picnic table and across their feet. It certainly was an experience to be sitting on the beach, with so many stars up above, and to be watching a movie!

March 19 – Warderick Wells
School in the morning again. In the afternoon we went into the beach and the kids went out on the kayaks again. Later in the afternoon everyone from Sandpiper, Gotta Life and Bird on a Wire went back to the place we were snorkeling yesterday. We didn’t see the shark again, but lots of lobster, fish and the two rays were there.
Dave finished the "Bird on a Wire" sign to take up to Boo Boo Hill. There were lots of little birds that were coming over to the boat and the kids were feeding them sugar and applesauce. We got some cool picture of the birds on the "Bird on a Wire"sign.
After supper and before sunset we picked up Erin and Geneva and we hiked up to Boo Boo Hill to leave our signs and to take some pictures of the anchorage at sunset.

March 20 – Warderick Wells – Shroud
We left Warderick around 9:00 and headed north to Shroud Cay. We had an awesome sail all the way there, arriving around 1:00. It was still pretty windy when we got there and the wind was a little more north than was comfortable in the anchorage, but it was a lot better than the night we spent in Hawksbill. We all piled into Gotta Life’s dinghy and went for the long dinghy trek through the mangrove swamps to the East side of the Cay. It was really beautiful. Once we reached the other side, there was a great beach. We all hung out there for the afternoon. The girls kept hoping the tide would turn to an ebb as there is a neat whirlpool that takes you from the beach out into the sound and then back into the beach when the tide is falling. Unfortunately the tide wasn’t going to turn until supper time and we needed to get back to the boats. It was still pretty rolly at anchor and we were all tired so we decided not to go out visiting tonight.

March 21 – Shroud – Warderick Wells
We pulled up anchor and were away from Shroud around 8:00. We called into the park office at 9:00 and were fortunate enough to be able to get a mooring again in the north anchorage. We debated about going on to Staniel where Priority was and Gotta Life was going, but we opted for the security of Warderick for a good night’s sleep. As we passed by the office all the little birds we were feeding the last time we were here came out to visit. We were assigned a mooring on the west side of the mooring field and we hadn’t been there before. It was a nice spot and there was less current flowing through than there was on the other side. We had a swim around the boat and looked at a little coral head growing on an old engine block near the boat. It was Saturday so we went into the Happy Hour on the beach. There were lots of people there and we met lots of new people.

March 22 – Warderick Wells to Big Majors Spot
There were some birthdays being celebrated in Big Majors today so we set off before 9:00 to be there by lunchtime. It was another great sail and we were relieved to see that the anchorage was well protected with no swell. We all went over to Priority for some "slingshotting". This is when a line comes down from the top of the mast (i.e. the halyard), and then additional line is added to the end so that there is about 100’ of extra line at the water line. The end of a line is attached to a dinghy, and a person (or two or three) hold onto a line either on the edge of the boat or in the water. The dinghy starts off, and as the line tightens up, the people get pulled out of the water. When they get high enough, they let go and drop back into the water. Pretty hard to explain, but pretty fun to do. The kids had a blast and Dave and I each tried it once. After slightshotting was over everyone was pretty cold as it wasn’t a very warm day. We all went back to our boats to get cleaned up. Annie and Kristen were invited to Priority for pizza, and Dave and I went into shore to the Happy Hour. It was great to see Annie and Dietrich from Calliope again. Dave met some new people on the beach – one of them was a car dealer from Missouri. He had his boat listed with Paul, our friend that summers in Scotsburn NS and winter in Florida and sells boats! Another man from Toronto knew a man in Saint John NB, and Dave went to university with his son. It sure is a small world! Around 7:00 we went over to Priority. The adults (10) watched "Office Space" in their cockpit, while the kids (6) watched a movie down in the cabin. Office Space was really funny and brought back lots of memories of life in the real world!

March 23 – Big Majors Spot
School in the morning and then water sports in the afternoon. The kids went over to Priority and did some snorkeling and then Brian took them tubing on our tube. Dave and I went into Staniel and tried to find the trail to the other side of the cay. We didn’t find the trail but we had a good walk.
March 24 – Big Majors Spot
The days are blending together! School again in the morning. In the afternoon all the kids got together at the beach. There were some new kids there too. Kristen went wake boarding. Annie gave it a try but wasn’t able to get the hang of it today. All the kids had fun on the tube. In the evening we had the Priority and Gotta Life kids over for pizza pasta and a movie. It was pretty funny to see the 6 kids all lined up on the bunks in the salon trying to watch a movie!

March 25 – Big Majors Spot
Another day in Big Majors - the girls did school in the morning and we went to the beach in the afternoon. There were water sports again. Kristen tried Wake Skating which is similar to wake boarding except that is on a shaped piece of plywood that is slightly curved. There are no bindings and no fins on the bottom of the board. She was able to get up and then went all around the harbour. Annie got up first time today on the Wake Board and had a great time zooming all over the harbour. The tube was once again a great hit.

March 26 – Big Majors Spot to Warderick Wells
We left Big Majors around 10:00, and weren’t really sure where we were heading, except North. Gotta Life and Sandpiper were heading back to Cambridge so they could go to Rachael’s Bubble Bath, but we wanted to get a little farther North. In the end we get a mooring in the North mooring field at Warderick and were settled around 2:30. It was another great day of sailing along the banks. You can see why people come here for the sailing! We’ve been able to sail (and not that motor sailing stuff either) each time we’ve set out for the last couple of weeks.
When we got to Warderick Dave and Annie went to shore to rent "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and get checked in. Kristen and I stayed behind and got some bread made. The kids got their school finished and then went for a swim, but the current was really strong so it wasn’t much fun. Dave and I went for a short hike down to Butterfly Beach, near Emerald Rock. No butterflies but a great walk. When we got back, the girls could hear the blowholes howling, so Dave took them back to shore for a hike to the blowholes and Boo Boo Hill. I guess the blowholes were really spectacular today! I stayed on the boat and made Chicken Parmesan for supper. After supper we watched the movie Annie and Dave rented.
We were able to check email at Warderick and SeaHawk (that we met way back in Maine with 4 kids) is in Nassau. We are going to head up there as quickly as possible to see if we can meet up with them before they head south to the Exumas.

March 27 – Warderick Wells - Allan’s Cay
Annie and Dave returned the movie and we put the dinghy up and left Warderick Wells for the final (?) time a little after 8:00. It was a pretty windy day, but the wind and waves were behind us so it wasn’t too bad. We put the jib out and motor sailed, making pretty good time. We got to Allan’s about 1:00 and for the first time since we arrived in the Bahamas we were alone in an anchorage. It was nice and calm in the anchorage which was a relief as we were a little concerned about protection there. As soon as we were anchored, we could see a couple of iguanas on the beach. Our primary reason for stopping here was that there is a colony of endangered iguanas here. We heard that when you went to the beach, and if you stood quietly, in a little while iguanas would surround you. Sure enough, we went to shore and in minutes (without standing quietly) there were about 50 iguanas on the beach. They are about 2-3’ long with big feet and long tails. They can be pretty assertive about looking for food, so we left our left over lettuce in the dinghy while we walked on the beach. After our experience with the pigs we were a little hesitant to encourage them too much – and we’d also heard that they bite. Just as we were getting ready to leave, when a large cigarette boat pulled up on the beach and let about 40 tourists from Nassau out onto the beach - so much for peace and quiet. Shortly after that two sailboats came in and anchored for the night. We did a little more exploring on a couple of the other beaches, and looked inside the ruins of a house that must of lost it’s roof 15 or 20 years ago in a hurricane.

March 28 – April 1 – Nassau
We left Allan’s around 8:00, after a bit of a challenge pulling up the anchor in the narrow channel with the strong current. When we got fairly close to Nassau we contacted SeaHawk on the radio. They weren’t able to get us a reservation at Atlantis Marina for Sunday night, but we could get in today, so we decided to directly to Atlantis. We were all tied up by around 2:00 and went to find Seahawk. Around 2:30 we headed over to the water park. Atlantis is a huge resort on Paradise Island. I believe it started as a casino, but now it stretches over acres of the island. Dave and I came to Paradise Island 13 years ago and stayed at a little hotel on the beach and walked half a mile or a mile over to Atlantis. At that time it was a good sized hotel with 3 restaurants, a small aquarium, a few pools and the casino. Now the hotel we stayed in is gone, and the beach is now part of the Atlantis complex with a new hotel tower. In addition to the hotel, now there is a huge water park and a large aquarium called "The Dig". It is set up like an archaeological exploration of the mythical city of Atlantis and the fishes, rays and sharks are all swimming around the ruin. There are two large manta rays as part of the exhibit, and they were pretty neat. Most of the other things we had seen snorkeling in the Exumas. The water park is great. There are two large buildings that house water slides – the Mayan temple has two really steep body slides (you go down without sitting on a tube), the Leap of Faith and the Challenger where there are two slide side by side and you race down with your partner. There is also a really fun tube slide (sitting on an inflatable ring) where you wind down inside the slide and end up sliding through a tube that runs through a shark tank. As you go down the tube, the sharks are lying on top of the tube and you can look right up at their bellies! The Power Tower has four slides. One is a body slide that drops you almost straight down a 50’ drop in the dark. The other three are tube slides. Around the outside of the Power Tower is ‘the current’. This is a mile long river ride with rapids and 4’ high waves. Once you are on the current you can keep going round as the waves push you back ‘up hill’. We ended up spending both Saturday and Sunday night at Atlantis. It was great to finally spend some time with the Seahawk folks. We went over to Seahawk after supper on Saturday and the kids played Pit. On Sunday night we did a bbq potluck. On Monday we got our Atlantis bracelets for the day before checking out and moving the boat across the harbour to Nassau Harbour Club. In the afternoon I walked back over to Atlantis with the girls and we hooked up with the family off Los Gostowes. Dave came over later after he did some chores on the boat. On Tuesday, Gotta Life and Sandpiper arrived at Nassau Harbour Club – It was great to get the gang back together. On Wednesday, Gotta Life went over to stay at Atlantis and took the girls over. We made a great trade with Sandpiper – two extra boxes of pancake mix we had for a lobster tail they had – what a great lunch! Dave and I walked around Nassau and then headed over to Atlantis to pick up the girls at 7:00. Gotta Life lent us their dinghy so we wouldn’t have to walk all the way back (wow that 25hp engine really goes!!) On Thursday, we took the dinghy back and got more bracelets. Dave and Brian brought Gotta Life back to the Harbour Club, and Sheryl and I stayed with the girls at the water park. As a note, we were really fortunate with weather when we were in the Exumas. It was generally warm and breezy during the day and then cooled off at night. We never saw rain. It hasn’t been quite as good in Nassau. We had really heavy rain showers on Monday and it has been really hot and buggy for sleeping – but then it is all good when you compare it with freezing rain and sleet! We were a little worried about the lack of school the girls are doing this week, until we heard that the kids at home have missed 17 days of school this year because of weather!!