Lights Out

Thursday January 31, 2013

My last few days in Arizona were very nice and relaxing.  I did attend a Jazzercise class with my mom on Tuesday morning though, and I’m still having trouble sitting down!  I’ve been bending my knees a little bit and letting myself fall the rest of the way.  Those women really know how to make you sweat!  Now don’t think I’m too out of shape, I was doing all the advanced moves, but there were a lot of women in their 50’s and 60’s keeping right up with me.  My legs were jell-o as I walked out the door, but not weak enough that I couldn’t jump behind the wheel and drive us home.  It had been almost six months since I’ve driven any kind of vehicle, and I think I did pretty well at it.  I’m sure it fit right in with the rest of the snow birds, running a few lights, and suddenly slamming on the breaks.  (I’m just kidding, I only did that once)

Getting ourselves cleaned up it was another day of shopping, where I think I can say I’m successfully stocked up for the next few months to come, getting everything I need that I may not be able to outside of the country.  It may have been more clothes and make up, but the way I see it, this will hopefully be my last girly shopping spree I get for the next four years or so.  If the boat gets back in the water and things go according to plan.  So I see it as necessary and won’t even worry about where I’m going to fit all of this new stuff once I get back.  But that day I didn’t go crazy, it was just a few small things that are replacing old things I already own.

The next day was spent around the house relaxing, and doing a faux packing to make sure I could bring back all my new things.  Even with a newer, bigger bag from my mom, it of course did not fit.  But that’s what UPS is for, and the rest of my belongings should be arriving a few days after me.  Then it was off to a wonderful day of electronics where nothing was behaving as it should.  I tried to make a spreadsheet to print boat cards on, and after the three hours, literally, it took me to get up our name, boat name, and website, my mom and I found out we couldn’t print the cards.  My laptop wouldn’t connect with her printer, and her computer couldn’t open the ‘Open Office’ document I had used to make the spreadsheet.  That’s ok, I can live with that kind of hassle.

The real kicker came that night when I was trying to do work on my new laptop and my password wasn’t working to log in.  Truth be told, I had been having that issue for a few days, but just dismissed it since I still had my other laptop which has all my photo editing tools, so I was on that 90% of the time anyway.  But yesterday we really wanted to get to the bottom of it, and dedicated four hours to trying to solve the problem.  This included a call to Best Buy where they stated that if we didn’t buy their plan, they couldn’t do anything to help me, and a call to my uncle who’s in IT, but not familiar yet with Windows 8.  Finally and thankfully my dad was messing around with different options of the password I thought it should be and was able to get in.  Why did I ever add a 2 to the end of my password?, I never do that!  But once it was fixed and the stress was gone, I was able to enjoy the last few hours of my vacation sitting around and unwinding with my parents.  Can it really get any better than watching Mrs. Doubtfire with a bowl of popcorn in you lap and an ice cold Pepsi next to you?

Then it was back to the grind today, two flights and two thousand miles to get back home.  It was much more fun getting through security this time though, with two laptops to take out, and when they ran my bag through the scanner three times I thought I might not be getting on my flight at all.  I still have no clue what they thought I was carrying with me that my things needed to be inspected that closely.  But all was well and after holding the line up for only about five minutes, my bag came through and I was on my way again.  In the sky and ready for electronics to come out I happily grabbed my now fully charged Nook, woo hoo!, only to find….it wouldn’t turn on.  WTF?!  Really, electronics?  Still?!  Luckily for me, the guy in the seat next to me was watching Limitless on his touch pad, and must have known I was peeking over his shoulder because he left the captions on.  Thanks airplane guy!

Landing in Jacksonville, I was greeted by Matt, who looked exhausted from his hard day of labor on the boat.  He told me he had completely lost track of time and thought it was much earlier than it was when Chris came knocking on the hull to bring him to the airport.  His clothes and hair still had a little bit of dust on them, but after a week away, it was the best thing I could have ever seen.  We met Chris at the van, and then in a total surprise to me, we went to dinner to a place just up the road called Sticky Fingers.  It was a BBQ restaurant, and between the three of us we split the ‘Ribs for Two’ meal, coming with more food than we could all put away.  Our platter came with four slabs of ribs, each with a different sauce, and even one dry rub.  It was all delicious, and as usual when we go out with Chris, I was ready to fall into a food coma when we left.

Back on the road and coming into St. Augustine, we drove around town for a little as it was the last night before the ‘Nights of Lights’ are shut off until November.  It was actually really sad as we drove past, my face pressed up against the glass, knowing that the next time we’re out everything is going to look a little less magical.  Part of me wanted to get back to the boat, grab the camera, and run back out to capture all the beauty that we had admired, but taken for granted for the past two months.  As we pulled into the little side streets of the Lincolnville Historic District where our marina is, it hit me that I really felt like I was coming home.  This wasn’t just some random city that we were passing through anymore.  All the streets and buildings were comforting and familiar, and as much as I still want to get out, I am really going to miss it when we leave here.

Punching in the code for the gate and walking into the yard, it felt really good to be back.  Climbing up the ladder and expecting to immediately be bombarded by my furry little friend, Georgie, in true cat fashion, completely ignored me as soon as I walked through the door.  Then I saw what Matt was talking about in the email yesterday.  He was not lying about the mess.  The last step of the companionway was missing, all of our belongings lay out across the floor, and there was only one small spot to sit.  I didn’t even know what to do with my bags I had just brought back, there was no place to put them.  But this has to mean progress, right?  That something was actually done in my absence.  It may be an extra cramped space to get used to, but if I close my eyes hard enough, maybe I can pretend I’m back at my parent’s house, sprawled out in the queen size bed that I have all to myself.

“And kick, ….. and sweat…..”

Three hours to make this?  I don’t even know how that happened.

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In St. Augustine News

Wednesday January 30, 2013

 

Since I’ve been a little lax on what Matt has been up to in St. Augustine, here is the report I received from him tonight.

The boat is trashed!  I’ll try to straighten it out before you come tomorrow.  I don’t even have a place to sit inside the boat right now.  I’ll be sleeping on the floor tonight…. It is that bad.

I just finished grinding the fiberglass. I used tarps to block the dust, but I still spent over two hours wiping the entire boat down.  There is dust everywhere, and it is really itchy!  I had to empty the vacuum three times just to get all of it.

I only got the tabs ground on the area where the fridge compressor is, the water tank area, bilge by the mast, and the settee by the bulkhead to the v berth ( where the tv is). I still have to do under the stove and sink, but may save that for another day.  Today was miserable!   It was so hot under the tarp I thought I was going to pass out.  I couldn’t see half the time because of the dust, and the grinder couldn’t reach in some spots do I had to use the dremel… Which isn’t large enough to do much.  I also cut through the fiberglass by the bilge pump into the cabin floor.  Its a small spot, but still noticeable, and I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it.

The microwave is 90% in.  I still need to do trim work (which i will have to make by hand)  mount a new 110v plug in that area, and mount bumpers to prevent the microwave from sliding back into the cabinet when the door is shut.  Because of the slope The worst it looks crooked in the cabinet.  It 100% level and perfect 90 degree corners, but with the slope of the cabin top, it looks really twisted.  Ugh!

The engine bay is about 3/4 of the way painted.  I can’t get into the aft cabin to paint the back area yet, but at least the front is done.  The steps will still be out when you get back… It’s a small jump to get down.*

I talked to the keel bolt guy from California and let him know that we wouldn’t be needing him anymore.  The costs were just jumping up too much, and he (building keels and knowing all about them) didn’t really think that him coming all the way out here was necessary anyway.  He gave me some really great tips though on how we should be able to work with the yard to do the job ourselves.

What do you think about keeping the hot water heater?  We haven’t used it yet and it takes up a 3x3x3 space that could be used for other items.  I’m not sure if we will ever use it, but I also don’t want to wish we still had it either.   We could always get one of those solar showers that everyone uses the time we want hot water, and that works without running the engine.

Also, what about the sink in the v berth?  If we got rid of that I think we could get much better use out of that space.

So it looks like Matt has been pretty busy while I’ve been away.  Things are finally progressing, and with any luck, we might actually be out of here in a few weeks!

*I found out from Matt that it was absolutely necessary for the engine to come out with the transmission.  The yard knew what they were talking about, and we were lucky we listened to them.

(Also, when I talked before about the fiberglasser, he was not part of the yard, just a vendor.  Everyone here at the yard has been very helpful and quick with their work)

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She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain When She Comes

Monday January 28, 2013

Since I’ve already done a few mommy/daughter days on my visit here, it was time for a daddy/daughter day.  Back when we were first planning this little side trip out to Arizona, and the whole 7 days it took from when they asked to when I left, I was asked what I wanted to do while visiting.  At the top of my list was to do some mountain hiking.  Back when Matt and I had come here a few years ago my parents had brought us out to Piestewa Peak, and the two of us had a blast climbing up to the top.  Or more accurately, my brother and I slowly climbed to the top while Matt ran it, came back down to get us, and went back up again.  Since I didn’t have anyone as nimble as me to do a hike to the top of a mountain with, we changed plans so my dad could take me to Mt. Lemmon, just outside of Tucson.  Although there are trails that lead all through this mountain, there is also a long and winding road that leads up to a ski resort and a little town at the top.  This sounded like something we could handle.

First things first though, my dad had to get a little work out of the way and visit one of the local colleges in Tucson to do a little recruiting/informational seminar.  This meant a 5:30 wake up call for me as there was still a two hour dive before the 8 am meeting.  Having chugged a coffee on the way down, I quickly cracked open a Monster Energy drink as soon as we hit the cafeteria, trying to recover from the five hours of sleep my busy brain left me with.  But there was wifi and guilt free time to do work on the blog, so I happily sat among the students while my dad went to do his thing.  I was even feeling, shall we say, half awake by the time he came back to pick me up.

Since the dark weather cloud was still hanging over my head, the weather for the day was forecasted to be slightly less than favorable.  We had encountered downpours almost the whole ride down (Really Arizona?  That much rain in one visit?), and there were many low lying clouds covering the tops of many of the mountains we passed.  My big worry was that we’d get to the top of this 6.500 ft mountain that’s supposed to offer beautiful views into the valley, and not be able to see anything but the dense fog in front of our faces.  Temperatures were low as well, high 40’s while we were driving through the valley, and my dad declared that for every 1,000 feet you go up in elevation, the temperature drops approximetly five degrees.  Still starting over 2,000 feet over sea level we only had about 4,000 feet to go up, but that might equate to a drop of 20 degrees in the temperature!  That would put us under freezing, and might even give me the chance to see snow.

As we drove along the stretch that led to the road at the base of the mountain we saw one of those flashing roadside signs, blinking ‘ICY’, and we just laughed.  Dismissive at first, and then we began to watch the temperature drop.  Just a few degrees here and there, but it was enough to make us keep a close eye on the roads.  As we drove up, there was a drastic change in scenery every 1,500 or so feet.  The bottom most level was filled with rocks and cacti as far as the eye could see.  Even though there was 20 miles from the beginning of the road until you reached the town, we kept rising in elevation and left the cacti behind for small trees and shrubs.  By this point the temperature had also dropped into the 30’s and we were taking that ‘Caution, Icy’ sign very seriously now, as we were in a pickup truck without rear wheel drive, and skidding on these icy roads could have very dire consequences.

It was also around this time that we had reached those clouds that had been hanging so low in the air.  Visibility went down to just a hundred feet in front of us.  There’s such a strange sensation when you’re driving at the edge of a cliff with only a guardrail protecting you from a thousand foot drop, and not being able to see a thing past the guardrail.  I still can’t tell if it was giving me a false sense of security, not being able to see what was down there, or the images in my head which were probably 10x worse of what was down there.  Which is strange because normally I’m not scared at all of heights and love the thrill of looking over the edge of a cliff.  Maybe I’ve finally realized that we’re not as invincible as we all think we are.  There were a few more times when my heart jumped up as the temperature had dropped below freezing and we’d hit a slick spot in the road, tires spinning for just a second before kicking back into gear again.

The little bits of snow that we had seen here and there on the side of the road were now beginning to cover everything and the pine trees we were now passing were caked in icicles.  We had finally reached the top of the mountain though, at 8,200 feet.  Doing a quick pass of the ski slopes we then turned on to the main road of the town and pulled into one of the restaurants for lunch.  As we started walking up to the door my dad observed, “I think I just saw a snow flake”, at which point we both looked up, but couldn’t tell if there was snow falling from the sky, or if just a few flakes had blown off the trees in the high wind.  Rushing inside to get out of the cold, we took a booth against a side wall, trying to keep away from the windows that were letting frigid air in.  My dad talked about the few times he had come up before with my mom, and how they always talked about renting a cottage up there for a weekend, as each time they had come before didn’t seem like long enough.

As he was telling me this, we both kept glancing out the windows to see what the weather was doing.  It had in fact begun to snow.  Just a light little dusting at first, creating a picturesque postcard scene of the mountain.  We browsed the menu, ordered our food, and by the time our drinks hit the table it was no longer just a dusting out there, it was snowing hard!  Still watching, we made little jokes about how we were probably going to have to skip having our wine while sitting out at one of the picnic tables further up the road, our original plan after lunch.  By the time our food came, it was a whiteout outside.  And to make matters worse, the wind was still blowing, hard.  When it would die down we could see the flakes falling directly down from the sky, but most of the time it was coming in sideways, and sometimes swirling in circles.

At this point we were worried about being able to make it back down.  Even though the food was amazing (Come on, a shaved beef brisket dip with sweet potato tots?  I can’t say anything bad about that), we were starting to rush through our meals, allowing ourselves to get going again as soon as possible.  Looking at my dad I was still able to make one crack.  “You know how you wanted to stay in a cottage here?  Maybe that will be tonight”. Keeping an eye to make sure things didn’t get worse, he was still confident with the weather as it was, and wasn’t ready to leave quite yet.  Paying the tab we got back in the truck, digging out the winter coats we had brought for just this reason.  Driving up the road a little more he wanted to show me the picnic area that him and my mom like to visit, full of boulders and trees, and described as pure heaven.

Driving the one mile up the road to this area, we got there and found they had closed that section of the road!  Gates had swung out to keep any vehicles from traveling down it, and we were now shut out.  From what I could see, it did look like it would have been beautiful, and I still jumped out of the truck to snap a few pictures.  Since that plan was now out, we decided to stop in the general store for some of their famous fudge.  Talking to the guy behind the counter we made some comments about the snow and he replies with, “Yup, we’re supposed to get about 6-8″ today, but the good thing is, they haven’t closed the road down yet”.  Excuse me, did I hear you right?  6-8 inches of snow?  Roads closing down?  This was all we needed to hear before jumping back in the truck to make it out while we still could (fudge in hand, of course).  Possibly sounding a little too much like my mom on the drive down I kept giving my dad instructions of “Make sure to go really slow, we’re not in any kind of rush.”  “If someone comes up behind you, just pull over and let them pass.  Don’t feel the need to speed up because they’re on your tail”.  I know, I know, I’m terrible.  But plunging off a cliff in icy roads was not something I felt like experiencing that day.

We were able to get out of the snow just fine, and as soon as we hit 6,500 ft, the snow disappeared, and the skies cleared up.  It was still cold as hell out (we hit a low of 25 near the top of the mountain), but at least now we could stop at all the little scenic looks and get out to see the views.  They were much better this time around, now that we could actually, you know, see.  Stopping near the bottom we did finally enjoy our wine and cheese, the now 45 degree temperatures feeling like a heat wave compared to where we had just been an hour ago.  But even wine can only keep you warm for so long, and as soon as the clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up again, it was back in the car and on our way home.

The views from up here are a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Snowball fights in Arizona, why not?

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Fountain Hills

Sunday January 27, 2013

I always thought I had a dark cloud hanging over my head as far as weather goes, but now I know for sure.  When I left Florida the temperatures had taken a dive into the 50’s and 60’s, while my parents in Phoenix, had finally warmed up out of a cold spell and were enjoying nice sunny, 80 degree days.  As soon as I got to Arizona to join them, everything flipped.  Matt is now enjoying nice days in the 70’s back at the boat, and here I am in Arizona, in the cold and rain.  Yesterday rained from morning until night, accumulation 1.25 inches, more than 1/4 of their total rainfall last year!  Yes, that dark cloud likes to sit just above wherever I may be.

Yesterday wasn’t a total waste though.  Armed with some research and new information, we went back to Best Buy and left with a new Samsung Series 3 for me.  Then after a little time at home trying to figure out how Windows 8 works (it’s easiest for those on a touch screen, but I’m getting used to it), I eventually sat it down to do some good ole TV watching on the couch.  House Hunters International and Pepsi really do make for a great Saturday afternoon.  Then it was off to the grocery store where I picked up ingredients for my famous homemade meatloaf (Ok, it’s only been made twice, but each time, it was spectacular), and then gave my mom some cooking lessons back at home so she’d be able to replicate it.

Waking up this morning there were still clouds abound, but my mom and I were not going to let it stop us from going to the area flea market that is held each weekend.  I went with the thought of not actually purchasing anything, but more just to have fun looking around at all the booths.  First on the list though was to hit up their breakfast counter, and holy crap, they have some incredibly good things for really cheap.  I think these heavy retiree/snow bird areas have it right.  Walking past the stalls once more I was left with “If you see anything you need…” to which I thought “Ok, yeah.  I’m going to find soooo much stuff I need here for me or the boat” (insert sarcastic tone).  But then little things started popping up here and there.  “Hey, this microfiber brush would be great for keeping the solar panels clean.”  “Cool, a collapsable strainer, and look, a skillet splatter cover so now I can cook Matt his fried fish!”  (Assuming we eventually catch something).

Slowly the backpack kept growing more full as I also found a wide brimmed hat for Matt and something called the Hip Klip that my mom’s friend had shown us the other night, a cool little mini-purse that clips on to your pants and lets you carry around small things likes ID, money, and a phone or camera without having to worry about holding on to it, or even better, someone trying to steal it off you.  Knowing how often I misplace things when we’re out and about, I think it was a very wise investment.  Just grabbing a few more small things like yummy dip mixes (I plan to eventually copy the ingredients on my own), we were tired and hungry and on our way back home.  Four 1/4 mile stalls is a lot of browsing!

Later in the afternoon after the weather had cleared up just a little bit, the three of us decided to make the drive out to the Scottsdale area to check out Fountain Park, a 64 acre recreation area with a very large fountain in the center of it’s man made lake.  This fountain goes off every hour on the hour for fifteen minutes, and has a spray that shoots over 500 feet in the air.  Packing up a cooler of wine and cheese we sat at one of the picnic tables, trying to get out of the nippy wind that kept biting at us.  When the fountain did go off, it was a beautiful sight, but it’s a shame that we couldn’t have gone there on a nicer day.  As soon as the water trickled to a stop we were back in the warmth of the truck, looking for the next sightseeing attraction.

Since we were so close, we made our way over to Old Town Scottsdale, a place my parents had taken Matt and I on our first visit out to Arizona a few years ago, and I remembered it being fun with some nice window shopping as well.  As soon as we parked and got out of the truck we were greeted with live music playing from inside a bar where a young crowd looked to be having a very good Sunday Funday.  We stuck to more reserved things and went browsing inside shops, looking at works of art and Southwest and Native American decorations for the home.  Next door at a souvenir shop we looked at funny graphic tees and coffee mugs, and I was also able to finally get the friendship bracelets for me and Stephanie that we have been talking about for the past three months.  They were supposed to have been made by hand, but shhhh, I’m cheating.

With my ‘homemade’ gift in hand we walked by the 1,000 jewelry shops lining the streets, all selling sterling silver and turquoise bracelets, necklaces, and rings.  At the end of the street a sign with old shop milkshakes caught my eye, and with live country music ringing out the door we stopped to look over the menu and debated staying for dinner.  With none of us wanting to stay for a rendition of ‘Stand By Your Man’ we thought a milkshake to go would be the best idea.  Getting a strawberry shake whipped up at the old fashioned soda counter, I waited excitedly like a little kid, barely snapping a photo before digging in to the sugary goodness.  Taking it back to the truck, we began the drive back home to couches and relaxing, a rainbow littering the sky behind us as we left.

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Spoiled Rotten

Friday January 25, 2012

Yup, it’s happened already.  Not even 24 hours with my parents and I’ve already been spoiled rotten.  I knew it would happen a little bit.  I expected a few things here and there, a dinner out, a new charger for my Nook, but I was not expecting everything that came my way today.  It started out as a mommy/daughter day where I thought we’d just go out running a few errands.  Stopping at the bank to add my name to a few accounts, we then ran across the street to the salon.  I have not had a hair cut in over six months and my curls were beginning to loose a little of their bounce.  A few snips here and there, and now I can actually be able to wear my hair down again without the need to run to my flat iron.

Mentioning to my mom I needed a new pair of jeans since both of my current pairs keep falling a little lower on the hips, my mom took me to Ross.  Only planning on buying jeans, we walked through the door and my mom mentions “If you see anything else you want, tops or whatever, just throw them in the basket and we can get those too”.  Let’s be fair…you just can’t do that to a girl.  Especially not a girl who’s basically been living out of a suitcase for the past six months and has been rotating out the same five shirts for the past five months.  (I swear, one day we will get to climates where I can wear all of those tank tops I brought)  So after looking through the jeans and fining only one pair in my size that were not skinny leg or bedazzled to hell, I started in on the shirts.  “Ooooh, nautical stripes.  Oh look, this one has an anchor.  The buttons on this top remind me of the brass on the boat.”.  On and on it went, and bigger and bigger the basket grew.  To be fair though, the whole time I was riffling through the new clothes I was also thinking back to what I have on the boat and what can make it’s way to the Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange.  I was still with it enough to realize that there is no new room on the boat and anything new that was purchased would only be replacing something old.  (So you can stop giving me the stink-eye now, Matt)  Being let loose in a clothing store with a command of “Get whatever you want”,  I think I did pretty well as we came up to the checkout counter and I had only picked out two pairs of pants (teal colored skinny jeans for $14.99?  That can’t be passed up!),  and five new tops.

After clothes shopping, as if that wasn’t enough, we went in search for another gift that was desperately needed, and Matt and I have been looking to get (on our own) for quite awhile.  That would be a new laptop for me.  At the moment I have a Gateway that is about eight years old and slowly dying out on me.  It always gets the job done, it just takes it’s damn sweet time doing it, and we both had a feeling it will soon be up and quitting on us, most likely when there is no access to get a new one.  So my parents taking pity on me, and my dad making a comment of “Wasn’t that the computer you were letting me use six years ago while I was visiting from Vietnam?  That’s what you’re still using?”, said that since Matt wasn’t able to make it out on the trip as well, his airfare could be used to go toward a new laptop for me.  And with that, my mom and I went out for a search of what would be my first new laptop, since up until this point I’d always gotten the hand-me-downs from Matt. Searching about three different places we made notes of what we liked best and decided that after doing some reviewing and research later that night, we’d make a decision and go back and purchase tomorrow.

There will still other shops we could have hit up, but it was only my first day there and the sun was finally starting to poke out of the clouds.  Just my luck that I get there and the temps go from the 80’s down to the 60’s.  Today was still hovering in the low 70’s, so while I still had the chance we ran home so I could change into my suit and say I layed out by the pool.  It didn’t last long, less than an hour, and mostly just for photographic evidence that it was done.  I enjoyed a beer, hung out with my dad, and then got changed to get ready to go out to eat.  Some of my parents close friends who lived just down the street from us while I was growing up had just moved into the area and they wanted a chance to see me while I was in town.  Stopping over for a quick drink and catching up, we then all piled into their car and made our way to one of my parents favorite Mexican restaurants in the area.

The place was called Dos Gringos and they described it as having a great outdoor area.  We did end up going pretty early in the evening though, since dark clouds were closing in and we didn’t want to be rained out.  But an early dinner time also meant Happy Hour was still going strong, and $3 margaritas were quickly placed in front of us.  We weren’t even very far into them when the rain did start coming down and we had to run to a sheltered table on the other side of the restaurant.  This did, however, put us right in front of the giant Jenga set my parents had been telling me about.  At the time there were two young boys next to us playing, and although they did get a topple worthy set going, they left before it ever fell to the ground.  After we had satisfied ourselves on some chips, salsa, and ceviche, my dad and I decided to try our hand at the game as well.

We continued where the boys had left off, and after only one or two moves the whole set came tumbling down, to the applause of all the tables surrounding us.  Picking up the pieces to rearrange, and starting from scratch, we played two more rounds of the game, my dad winning each time as I always picked just the wrong piece of wood to slide out, and all the pieces crashed to the ground.  The game was put on hold as our food came, and we enjoyed our tacos and enchiladas as the sky grew dark and the strings of lights hanging over us grew bright.  Finally leaving the table after we’d had more to eat than I think any of us originally planned, we made it back to my parents house for one last nite cap before everyone parted ways.

Only one day into my ‘vacation from my vacation’, and I feel like I’ve done enough where if I had to go home tomorrow, I’d still be satisfied.  I’ve been wined and dined, taken to the salon and and on a shopping spree, and spent the afternoon lounging by the pool.  I think it’s safe to say, I’ve been spoiled rotten.

In St Augustine News:  Serendipity is beginning to get all polished and shiny.  All of the port lights have been cleaned and are sparkling like new.  A good hull polish is also in order, as soon as a buffer is borrowed from Frank. In fiberglassing news, our fiberglasser has not shown up for five days now.  If approved by the insurance company, we’re planning on giving him the boot, doing the work ourselves, and saving ourselves a nice chunk of money in the process.

Moments before it crumbled.

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Mama I’m Coming Home….Again.

Thursday January 24, 2012

I knew this was going to be an early morning, and a somewhat rushed one too, they always are when you’re traveling, but I was not expecting the knock that came on hull sharply at 8 am.  The alarm had been set for fifteen minutes after 8 where I had planned on taking a quick shower, shoveling down some breakfast, and making sure all my bags were packed before departing for the airport at 9:30.  My parents ha offered to fly us out for a visit, and I was only more than happy to take them up on it.  So this even earlier wake up call that we were not expecting left us with questions of “Who is it, and what do they want?”.  Opening the door after a few seconds of pounding on the companionway and voices coming from outside saying, “Let me in, it’s cold out here!” we opened the door to find the guy that was going to be taking out the transmission and engine.  Who as far as we knew, wasn’t supposed to show up until 1:00 that afternoon, after Matt had gotten back from bringing me to Jacksonville (he has to stay behind for all the projects to commence this week).  Unbenounced to us, and even though he knew we were leaving that morning, the guy thought he would pop in for an hour or two to get the process started before the big work of actually removing the engine was to come that afternoon.

So before we were even fully awake or had the chance to get out of our pj’s, we were busy moving all the items from the aft cabin up into the v-berth and salon to make room for him to work.  And all of these new items were now being piled on top of everything we’d already moved out of the port side settee.  A project that had been done on Sunday night to make room for another guy that was supposed to come on Monday to repair all our broken tabbing.  To which he never showed up on Monday.  Or Tuesday, or Wednesday.  The boat was now literally a disaster area.  Still having to stick to my morning schedule, after helping Matt remove the bottom two steps for better access to the engine, I grabbed my shower supplies and went to get ready.  The real trick came though after I had gotten back, and needed to get dressed.  I hadn’t been smart enough to bring my change of clothes with me and was now forced to change in the head.  Which was now also full of crap that we were trying to get out of the way.  There were some real acrobatics involved changing in a space that small with no floor room.  Back in the salon   I was maneuvering around the small space, unpacking and then repacking things into my bag until I was finally ready.  We sent the engine/transmission guy packing, I gave Georgie a long hard snuggle for as long as she’d let me hold her, and took one last look at my home that I hadn’t been away from for almost six months.

Waiting outside the boat yard gates for us was Chris, and we started the hour long journey up to the Jacksonville airport.  Matt was along for the ride as Jacksonville has a very large and well stocked West Marine, and there are definitely a few more things we could use.  Getting dropped off I said a quick and hard goodbye to Matt and went to check myself in.  Initially at the wrong counter, too.  Good thing I noticed I was on US Airways and not United before I got up to the counter and made a total fool of myself.  But soon I did have my tickets in hand and a lot of time to kill when I realized I had never eaten that morning because the galley was ‘blocked’.  Having been offered Starbucks on the ride up but originally declining, the one shining in my face at the airport looked too good to pass up, plus it had a seat right next to an electrical outlet, so I rushed up and ordered a venti caramel macchiato and a scone.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was surfing the internet with a large drink in front of me that I remembered I’d probably still want to give myself an hour to get through security and to my gate.  Which left me 30 minutes to chug a piping hot 20 oz coffee.  Tried as I might, there was still a good 1/3rd left when my timer was up.

Quickly getting through security and the new x-ray machines that there is so much conspiracy about (it was my first time using one), I was sitting in front of my gate in a matter of 10 minutes.  After having passed a Starbucks inside security.  Damn.  We just didn’t have perks like that back in Grand Rapids.  Making sure I was one of the last people on the plane, because, who wants to sit on one any longer than they have to?, I was once again lucky enough not to be seated next to an over-talkative cat lady.  (Wait, that’s not going to be me now, is it?)  During the first leg of the journey (there was a layover in Charlotte) I became engrossed in the in-flight magazine and came across a very interesting book review for something I might need to find and check out of the library.  It’s mostly based on sayings parents will tell their children on safety that have rolled down the generations, and if they’re actually true or not.  Kind of a Myth Busters of ‘Don’t run with scissors’.  Before I knew it we were landing and I had to almost run through the terminal to get to my next flight, which was boarding as I got there.

During the next four hours of that flight I read up on Aruba in the same in-flight magazine (can’t wait to get there), edited some photos, and listened to music.  I can’t wait until I can get a new charger for my Nook and having that work on the way back.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the watches in the cockpit or the past six weeks of stuffing myself behind the desk at the nav station with my computer, but the seats on the plane didn’t even feel very small to me.  Bringing on two big bags since I’m not checking luggage, and then having them sit at my feet since the overhead compartment was full cramped my foot space a little, but it really wasn’t a bad ride.  After landing I walked through the Phoenix airport and it’s many levels to find my mom waiting for me at the baggage claim.  A few big hugs and we were on the way to the car where my dad was waiting for us and a cold Pepsi was waiting for me.  My favorite!  Then when I walked into my home away from home and went into the bedroom to drop off my bags there was a jar full of Skittles waiting for me on the nightstand.  Another favorite.  And the cherry on top, after getting to see my parents of course, was my engagement/wedding ring that had been stuffed away in a bank, ready for me to wear during my stay.  Do my parents know how to take care of me, or what?  I may have just walked in the door, but I can already tell this is an amazing week spending some much needed time with family, and possibly, getting spoiled rotten.

In St. Augustine news:  The pulling of the engine/transmission did not go as smooth as we had hoped.  Smooth as in, our companion way is no longer that.  Because of a few cords that should have been disconnected and were not, while the engine was being pulled out of the companionway by the crane, it snapped back and sent the engine flying into the wall.  From what Matt described to me, even with the height of the door handle for the head, there are now 7-8 pencil eraser size dents, and they’re deep.  I haven’t heard if they can be filled, but it sounded like the only way to fully repair this would be completely replace that wall.  Poor Matt.  At least he has chocolate chip cookies to soothe his pain.

Cute couple dancing to Frank Sinatra at the airport.

Comforting to read while you’re flying on a plane.

 
 

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Un-health Food Heaven

Tuesday January 22, 2013

I don’t know how many of you know this, but for as much time and money as Matt has put into getting fishing poles, lines, lures, basically anything for us to catch fish while we’re out on the boat…he does not like fresh fish.  A few summers ago when I’d make these delicious fish tacos made with tilapia and a to-die-for mango salsa, he would turn up his nose at it.  While I was trying to get into a healthier diet around the same time and would serve fish and vegetables for dinner, he’d make a peanut butter and jelly.  There is only one way to get this boy to eat fish, and that to deep-fry it.  Turn it around like that, and he loves fish.  Any restaurant we go to, he’ll search the menu for fish and chips.  Drown it in tartar sauce and he’s in heaven.  If you ever ask him the question “If you were stranded on a deserted island with only three different foods, what would they be?”, his first answer would be tartar sauce.  (And then Ranch dressing.  Apparently he thinks he can live off condiments)  So to help Matt out with his fried fish fetish, in steps our friend Chris.  While bringing us out to see the manatees a few weeks ago he was giving us a rundown on all the great places in St. Augustine to visit (a few among dozens), he told us about a seafood restaurant called Schooners which is a favorite to locals and is rated for having some of the best fried fish in town.  Wanting to make sure we experienced it, we set up tentative plans in the future and Matt and I were more than happy to take him up on the offer to try it out.

So this week, when we all had free time in our schedules, Chris picked Matt and I up from the boat yard to take us the few mile drive to the restaurant.  As soon as we stepped in the van we were greeted with a smile and a plate of his famous chocolate chip cookies.  If he hadn’t raved about this restaurant so much the last time we were together I would have been ready to call off dinner and dig into the cookies instead.  But knowing that I might still get a chance to eat one back at the boat that night before Matt scarfed them all down (They are seriously his favorite thing in the world, I think they could now be added to his list of three foods to be deserted on an island with), we continued on to the restaurant.  Walking in at 6:30 on a Tuesday night, the place was packed.  Always a sign there must be good food if it’s hard to get a table so early in the week.  After being seated with a menu in front of me I browsed through and could see why the place was so popular.  Scrolling down my eyes landed on items like fried shrimp, fried scallops, fried oysters, and fried crab cakes.  They also offered all of those items, non-fried, but that’s not the reason we were there, was it?  Everything looked amazing, and I wanted all of it.

Chris wasn’t going to let us off easy either, he also wanted us to try all of it.  I couldn’t decide which one of the entrees I wanted, so when the server came I ended up doing a combo platter with stuffed fried shrimp and fried scallops.  Even that was a tough choice because the gator tail looked very interesting, and where else would we get a chance to try something like that? Chris was already one step ahead and put in an order of gator tail for an appetizers, but not before he said that I had to try the Minorcan Clam Chowder, so an order of that went in as well.  Soon the food began coming out and while we discussed all the repairs on our boat (or the current lack thereof), I started sipping on the soup that did live up to it’s recommendation.  It’s a slightly spicy soup and very specific to the region because of the Minorcans that originally inahabited the area back in the mid to late 18th century and used it on almost all of their food.  It’s made up of fresh Seville orange and Datil pepper season and gives a nice little kick, but wasn’t too overwhelmingly spicy.  So far, score one for Schooners.  Next to come out were the fried gator tails.  Neither Matt and I had any idea what to expect of these as we had never come across them before.  Breaded and seasoned, they were served with a slice of lemon and sauce for dipping.  Taking a bite the texture was a mix in between chicken and lobster.  I’m pretty sure this place has their recipe for this dish down to a T, because these little bite size pieces of meat were perfection.  I’m serious, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better piece of fried food.

I must have forgotten somewhere along the way of eating soup, gator tails, and salad that there was actually a main dish on it’s way and never slowed down to save room for my  entree.  When it was set down in front of me my eyes grew as big as dinner plates, it looked extremely appetizing, but there was so much food!  Did I mention that it came with two sides and two hush puppies?!  I don’t think my eyes had quite caught up with my stomach yet though and I was still ready to tear into this plate of un-health food heaven.  Picking up the first piece of fried food goodness, I took a bite of my stuffed shrimp, which was fried shrimp stuffed with crabmeat.  Omg, it was so tasty.  The breading was very light and flaky, and would start to crumble in my hands as I ate.  Picking up the fallen pieces I’d just dip them back in the sauce and jam it into my mouth.

This is about the point where my stomach started to beat out my will to keep eating.  Not ready to throw in the towel just yet though, I forced myself on like a food challenge champion and also went after the fried scallops and hush puppies.  I don’t even know if I can describe how good this meal was.  I’m pretty sure I’ve already used every word out there.  It was savory, delectable, heavenly.  I didn’t get very far though, before having to stop and request a doggy bag.  Looking over at Matt, his plate was clean.  Looks like he enjoyed it just as much as I did.  When the option for dessert came, even though we had been planning on sharing a slice peanut butter pie, Matt and I were at the point where we could not put one more bite of food in our mouths and didn’t want to ruin what would otherwise be a good experience by making ourselves literally sick.  Although among Chris’ many recommendations among St. Augustine there is another place, The Gypsy Cab Co, that is also supposed to serve a sublime peanut butter pie as well, and it just might give us all an excuse to have to go out again.  I think I can manage to pencil that in.

 

*And in case you think I give glowing reviews to everything, it’s only because most everything we’ve had deserves it.   But I will say that if you’re in St. Augustine, don’t bother going to O.C. White’s.  We’ve been there twice, and in our opinion, the food is overpriced and bland, especially when there are so many better options just up the road.  (Ok, their crab sandwich wasn’t that bad)

Fried gator tails.   I could eat these all night.

Bliss in the form of sugar.

 

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Shot-a-holic

Monday January 21, 2013

Bet you thought I was referring to Purple Hooters or Lemon Drops, didn’t you?  Although those are among my favorite shots to drink, I am referring to being a shot-a-holic with my camera.  I can’t seem to go out without taking 100 photos of this, that, or whatever.   And even though 100% of them aren’t fantastic, there’s still a good number that I wish could make it on the blog but don’t.  Because even though photos are a ton of fun, I have a feeling I might lose a few viewers if every post had 30 photos of things from beautiful building facades down to the spokes on my bike.  I try to edit the photos on the blog down as much as I can.  You’re welcome.  With that being said though, I think some of those photos do still have a place, and a want to be seen by some people.  So over the past few days I’ve started going back through the thousands of photos I’ve taken over this trip (2,918 so far, to be exact) and selecting some through those to go into albums on our Facebook account.  I haven’t gotten that far yet, just through photos of the Great Lakes, but with the constant internet connection I’ll be having for the next few weeks there’s a small chance I may get caught all the way up to St. Augustine.  So check us out on Facebook to see all the photos and get a full sense of all the places we’ve visited.  Go ahead and like us while you’re there, and get real time updates of everything we’re up to.

In the meantime, here are a few gems that never made their way up on the site the first time around.

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Happy Birthday to Yu

Saturday January 18, 2013

We never seem to find a shortage of reasons to go out here.  This weekend we were given one more excuse to go out as it was Yu’s birthday.  Not wanting to give up one of her best money making nights of the week, she still worked her cocktail shift and the three of us came to pick her up when she was finished.  Walking into the posh hotel that she works at I felt severely underdressed until I found out there was a wedding going on, and that’s why where were men in suits and women in gowns.  After having been there only one other time on NYE when there was a black tie masquerade ball going on across the street, I was beginning to think this was the norm.  Frank assured me that he’s gone into this swanky hotel to get her after a long day of work on the boat, covered in grease and wearing flip flops, so I had no need to feel out of place.   After just a few moments though, Yu was grabbing her purse and we all walked out the door, in search for something a little more our style.

Picking our regular spot we began the walk to Scarlett’s, and if I thought it was busy the last time we went on $0.50 wing night, I was sorely underestimating the bars in this college town on a Saturday night.  Standing in line and paying cover for the opportunity to listen to the band playing inside, we walked through the crowded porch and into the even more clustered restaurant.  Grabbing the first table we saw, as it was also the only available one, we sent the guys to the bar to pick up beers and struggled to have a conversation over the deafening music we had just paid to hear.  Watching the other tables we sprang up and got one on the other side of the stairs, where the staircase was blocking the sound, as soon as it vacated.  While drinking our beers in now relative peace and quiet, Frank made Yu promise that even though it was her birthday, she wouldn’t go overboard that night.  Even though I’m sure we all have intoxicated alter egos, Yu’s is so destinctive that they’ve even given it a name, Me.  I like to see alter egos, so my new goal was  to keep her glass full all night.   But since none of Yu’s other friend’s had shown up to Scarlett’s yet and drinks were still a little overpriced relative to other bars in the area, we paid the tab and hit the street again, in search of a cheaper watering hole.

I feel we might be becoming too predictable in our old age now, as the next place we hit up was the White Lion, the place we went the first time we met Frank and Yu.  Again, having initially gone there on a weeknight during Christmas break, the scene when we walked up this time was completely different than the last time we left it.  There was music blaring, strobe lights flashing, and not enough room to even walk without squeezing between piles of people.  Once more we managed to find the one empty table in the restaurant and grabbed it, although we had to move about 15 beer bottles and plastic cups out of the way first.  Matt and I sat while Frank and Yu disappeared.  When we didn’t see either of them again for ten minutes I was beginning to think they had been abducted by crazy kids with glow sticks, but soon after he returned with a pitcher of beer, and Yu came back bringing a few guests to add to the table.

While Yu was talking to her friends, Frank and I were chatting about college kids now versus when we were in college ten years ago.  This bar seemed to have a pretty wide diversity of girls dressed up like they were about to head to five star restaurants, and others that looked like they rolled out of bed and grabbed clothes off the floor.  In that mix were two girls wearing black dresses that had great detailing on the back, and I instantly fell in love with.  Even though I would have no use for them I desperately wanted one or something like it, so after a little encouragement from Frank I actually got up from the table and walked over to them.  Tapping one of the girls on the shoulder I fumbled out “Hi, I just want to tell you I love your dresses.  My friend over there is a fashion designer (not false), and I’d love for her to make me something like this.  Would you mind turning around so I could get a photo?”.  I don’t know if this happens to them often, but the girl was not phased.  Nudging her friend she goes, “Turn around, this girl wants a picture of our dresses”, to which they both stood with their backs to me until I got the photo.  Now I just need to make sure I actually do get one of these dresses made and sneak it on the boat without Matt knowing.

Through one more pitcher of beer we sat around the White Lion and joked about how it would be fun to get dressed up one night and go around town.  I don’t even know how the conversation ended up here, but the dress up we were talking about turned out to be more Halloween like.  Each of us would pick some kind of character completely different from each other, and completely mismatched we’d wander around town to see how many strange looks we could get.  Already beginning to form our characters it was decided that Frank would grow a nice mustache, plop on a sombrero, and go out as Pedro.  Matt would be going back to his French-Canadian roots by also growing a nice mustache, a curlycue one, wearing a beret and calling himself Jacques.   I was rooting for Francois, but he didn’t seem to want to budge on that one.  Yu and I thought very hard about who we could be, and almost peed our pants with the results of some of our ideas.  Should this ever come to fruition, I think it will be one of the best nights ever.

Getting away from the crowds after our second pitcher we walked next door to No Name Bar.  They had a nice outdoor patio where we gathered with our beers, me trying out a new Killer Whale Cream Ale, and getting to see a little glimpse of Me.  I knew shoving all that beer in her face would eventually pay off.  I don’t know if my alter ego or just my business side was popping out for a minute, but I grabbed a magic marker from the bar and desecrated the table next to us with our logo.  To be fair, I was far from the first person to do it.  Through only one beer and lots of laughter, we closed the place down and took to the cobblestone streets on the way back to the car, still planning our dress-up party.  As other patrons were also making their way home the only sounds they could hear ringing from the street were shouts of “Jacques..”,  “Francois..”,  “Jacques..”, “Francois…”.

Alright Yu, get to work

Uh oh, here comes Me!

Does Frank have an alter ego emerging?

Free advertising.

 

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A Boat Cat With No Water

Friday January 18,  2013

We’ve now had Georgie for about two months, and she seems to be settling into boat life pretty well.  Even if she’s now a boat cat on a boat with no water.

Neither of us had been cat owners before, but after our dog passed it left a fuzzy little hole in our hearts that needed to be filled.  A dog was at the top of Matt’s list again, but we’ve heard horror stories on customs and quarantine on dogs and thought it would limit our travel destinations.  So we left, animal free, with the constant begging from me to get a cat. They’re small, easy to care for, and never need to leave the boat.  I didn’t even think I was begging or nagging too relentlessly, but with the help of some friends while heading down the ICW we wore him down enough that over Thanksgiving weekend we went to a no-kill animal shelter in St. Mary’s Georgia ‘just to have a look’.  We knew it was over as soon as we stepped up to the property housing 207 cats, and two hours later we had Georgiana in a pet carrier and on the way back to the boat with us.

We’re still getting used to boat life with a cat, and she’s still getting used to a life with just two humans, but here are some of the things we’re learning along the way.

 

  • It took us three attempts to finally get a litter box that works for us on the boat.  The first one we knew was going to be temporary.  It was an open plastic container that we had laying around until we could do some damage at a pet store.  The second one was a hooded litter box with a flap to keep the smell out.  Two problems were (with that model at least), Georgie could not push through the flap, so part of it was always open, and it dragged so much litter onto the floor each time she went in and out.  The third (and hopefully final) solution was a tweaked Rubbermaid container with a lid.  We purchased a 20 quart plastic storage container that had a lid with a nice deep lip and a hole wide enough for her to get in and out of with ease was cut at one end.  This allows her privacy and us not to have to see everything she does in there.  It keeps the smell out and also keeps 99% of the litter in the box or on the lip.

  • She’s more vocal than our dog ever was.  I haven’t been around too many cats in my life, not as much as I have dogs, but I’ve always remembered cats as quiet beings.  Not ours.  Luckily it’s not the kind of ‘howling and keeping you up all night’ kind of noise, but she’s definitely trying to communicate with us.  A lot.  I’ve gotten to the point where I think I have them figured out, and they seem to fall into four categories.  1.  Feed me.  You will know when her bowl is empty.  She won’t wake you up in the morning, but as soon as you’re out of bed she’ll let you know that she’s hungry until there’s food in her bowl.  Don’t even think of trying to feed yourself first.  2.  Let me outside.  We think it goes something like this in her mind, “This boat is so god-awful small.  I’ve checked out every nook and cranny that you’ll allow me to. Please let me out where I can at least watch what other people are doing”.  If it’s a nice day the companionway is open anyway and she can roam as she pleases, but on the few cold days we’ve had here she has to let us know she wants out herself.  3.  I’m bored and I’ve already played outside.  This cry usually comes later at night after we’ve closed up the boat to keep the bugs from getting in.  Her bowl still has food in it, her litter box is clean, so I can only assume she wants attention.  We’ll pull out a few of her toys and either she’ll go crazy chasing after her laser pointer or the plastic ball with a bell inside.  4.  Still have not figured this one out yet.  I’ve gone through steps 1-3 and she’s still meowing at me.  I keep telling her that with no options left I’m going to take it to mean “Please pick me up and swaddle me like a baby”.  So I do for the thirty to sixty seconds it takes for her to wrestle her way out of my grasp.  Then the meowing stops and she ignores me for a good thirty minutes.

  • We don’t know what she thinks about water.  And not what’s in her bowl, but the stuff that’s supposed to be keeping our boat afloat.  The first ten days we had her, we were very leery of letting her up on deck because we weren’t sure that she didn’t know to not jump off.  “What’s that stuff down there?  It looks fun…I should pounce on it!”  So we mostly kept her below deck and when we did let her up we monitored every move and even had to try and stop her from jumping from the cockpit into the dinghy which was hanging on davits.  Then, luckily for her, and unluckily for us, we encountered a bit of bad luck which has now had us sitting on the hard for six weeks.  She can roam the deck all she wants and has the good sense to know that a 15 foot drop is not good.  Let’s just hope that sense stays with her when we get back in the water.  (No, we’re not putting netting up on our boat)

  • She gets lost on our boat.  Easily.  Cats really are curious creatures and she loves to try and get into every nook and cranny possible.  She has an affinity to try and jump into our bathroom cabinet each time it’s left open.  Our garage (aft cabin) is her playroom, and she ends up in places when we don’t even know how she got there.  One afternoon we realized we hadn’t seen her in awhile but didn’t think much of it.  Then, while both of us were sitting on our computers, we heard a scratching noise coming from the space that holds Matt’s clothes. Sure enough, I open the lockable latch and she comes tumbling out.  A few hours earlier I had noticed Matt’s clothes had spilled onto the floor, shoved them back in and closed the latch without ever seeing her.  This is not a big space and it is full of clothes.  She had to have already been so nestled in when I started putting the clothes that fell to the floor back.  Then just today she went missing but we could hear little “Mew, Mew” coming very faintly from the aft cabin.  After tearing it apart and not finding her we took our search to the cockpit and found her inside a lazarette.  Which had never even been opened!  We’re still trying to figure that one out.

  • Her favorite spot to sleep is on my pillow.  If I’m lucky, it’s way off to the side and I can still turn from side to side without ever running into her.  The past few nights though, she has been situating herself right in the middle.  If I try and slide her to the side she just get up, pace in a few circles, and drop herself down right on top of my head or face.  I think I’ve finally outsmarted her and found out that if I let her fall asleep first and then slide her down off the pillow on to the bed, she’s too tired to care and will just stay there.

  • She’s a pretty chill girl.  She’s taking to life on the boat very well and did great for her one and only sail with us.  While cruising over 3-6 foot waves she slept nestled up in the v-berth and even stayed there when we started slamming on the bottom and was completely calm while being shoved into a backpack for a possible evacuation.  She doesn’t mind when we pick her up and toss her out of the way to get to a part of the boat, and if the sun is out you better believe she’s on deck rolling around and soaking it up.  Even though she hasn’t visited them yet, she’ll be the perfect island girl, relaxing outside in the warm breeze and eating up fish scraps.

 

There’s plenty of other things we’re continuing to learn about her each day.  Like how if we let her out and close up the companionway she’ll come pawing at it when she’s ready to come back in.  Or that she likes to greet me when I come up the ladder by waiting at the top rung and nuzzling her face against it until I giver her a nice good scratching.  She’s definitely different than a dog, much more independent, but she’s the perfect pet for us on this trip and we’re loving her companionship.  We’re watching her grow up before our eyes, but I can’t help but hope she’ll hold on to some of her kitten tendencies.  Like kneading us with her front paws, that’ll always be my favorite.

No matter how many times I tell her certain areas are ‘not for kitty’, she just doesn’t listen.

“Gotcha, sucker!”

Flashing for beads.  Such a naughty girl.

 

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