Home to Nine of Cups - Chesapeake, VA

Gentry's sleepy-eyed little girls got up to hug us goodbye in Albuquerque at 0530 and we made our way back to the airport surrounded in darkness. The airport is small and comfortable; no lines, no waiting, good coffee and fast, free internet. Our Southwest flight was on time and direct to Baltimore. We stepped out on the BWI curb around 1330 EDT to a chilly (40F) overcast day. We picked up our rental car and began the long 4-hour drive back to Chesapeake. That's 1670 miles in 3.5 flying hours or just 238 miles in 4.25 driving hours. Glad we flew. Of course, on Nine of Cups that would have been a bit longer … especially with all the portage.

We'd booked a hotel room (free with points) for the night, picked up a bottle of wine and some salad stuff at the local Harris Teeters (grocery store) and enjoyed a night of relaxation and CNN.

After a long absence, there's always a lump in our throats as we head back to Nine of Cups and catch our first glance of her waiting for us at the dock … pointy-side up, still floating. Good thing we don't have smell chips!

Her decks were dirty. She looked a bit bedraggled. As we headed below, we could already anticipate that closed-up, bilge-y, knock your socks off smell … and we weren't disappointed. Yikes! It didn't take long to open up the ports, get some air circulating, get the fridge going and get unpacked.

While Cups was breathing again, we made use of our last couple of hours of rental car time to make a run to Trader Joe's for some wine and the grocery store for some provisions. We returned the car without drama, hitched a ride back from the Hertz staff, then climbed back aboard for dinner and a night of planning and quiet contentment. Home again.