Greetings and happy holidays to all...
 
The attached picture is of the local brew pub (they make their own beer on site and it's excellent) at the foot of Spring Street at the Washington State Ferry dock here in Friday Harbor WA.  The Town of Friday Harbor had its Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5PM Friday night (it gets DARK here by 4:30PM) and hundreds of people, including us, were in attendance for the festivities.  Every merchant here, and many homes and boats, decorate with a TON of lights for the holiday season and its very festive.  AirWaves will be in the 9th annual lighted Christmas boat parade next Saturday night and we've decorated her with low power LED white Christmas lights for the parade; the lead boat is the Santa ship and he'll have lots of toys for all the good boys and girls!
 
I write this as we're going into our 2nd wind storm warning in the past month.  Late Fall and early Winter are the windstorm months in this part of the world and tonight's winds, gusting to 60MPH, won't disappoint; fortunately the 1st storm was on our nose and tonight should be a repeat.  Double lines and extra fenders are on AirWaves and we'll rock-n-roll a bit tonight but should be safe and secure. Despite the high wind storms that hit this area several times in the winter months we actually look forward to SAILING to various ports during the winter season and it will definitely be a 1st to sail our own boat all 4 seasons.  The water, at its coolest, gets down to the mid to high 40's and the air temperatures are frequently in the 50's during the days so sailing with a full cockpit enclosure is actually a pleasant sail.  An added bonus is that yacht club reciprocity permits FREE dockage at virtually every port we'd want to visit; we love Victoria BC but the SOFT U.S. dollar is basically at par with the Canadian dollar so that makes EVERYTHING we pay for a lot more expensive plus our NCC VISA tacks on an additional (OUCH!) 3% 'transaction' fee to convert foreign currency to ours.  
 
We had our 1st snow yesterday and the mountains saw 2-3 feet with another 2-3 feet expected today; we've learned a new "CHAIN UP" term here as that's what everyone is told they must do if they want to attempt to drive over the mountain passes.  The public schools in Washington must not have taught their students you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition!  Here in Friday Harbor we saw snow flakes but no accumulation as the water is 52-degrees and it never got below 39-degrees here although that is still COLD!  We have dual central air/reverse heat units aboard AirWaves so as long as the electricity holds out we'll be very snug.  The local media here treats an inch of snow with the same deliberation and attention as a blizzard gets in Michigan.  They go NUTS here when it even 'hints' of snowing.  Friday Harbor and San Juan County that we're in has NO snow removal equipment at all and also does NOT salt or sand the roads; when a true storm hits every 5-7 years they simply shut down everything and that was the case in late November 2006 when the immediate area got 7-inches of snow.  Everything SHUT DOWN for 3 days until Mother Nature melted it.
 
We went to the Festival of Trees fundraiser last night at the local community theatre and it was very much like the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters benefit dinner I was involved with for several years in Kalamazoo.  Given the size of Friday Harbor, about 5,000 people, the event raised $70,000 and that's an incredible number for its size.  Both Maria and I will become involved with the local theatre and their various fundraising activities during the year.  The most recent fundraiser was a very unusual one; we raised $15,000 for a water filtration system for an African town along the shores of Lake Victoria, the world's largest freshwater lake.  While its the largest freshwater lake it's too polluted to drink without filtration and that should cause all of us who live or have lived within the Great Lakes basin to appreciate how very special water is to our very lives; we can always walk if we can't buy gasoline but I wouldn't suggest putting water in your fuel tank or gasoline down your throat.
 
Stay warm and we look forward to seeing family and friends in Michigan when we fly back in January.
 
Happy holidays to one and all.
 
Bill & Maria
P.O. Box 838
Friday Harbor WA 98250
269-762-1065