This year has been full of great experiences and beauty and we’re thankful for all that we saw & did and the good times we’ve had with friends and family. From the southern tip of Baja to the northern tip of Alaska, we covered a ton of miles in our trusty truck and all in the comfort of our own home.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I sort of forget the details now so it might be a bit boring.
Back in November, while we were at Trona Pinnacles in Arizona, we met a great guy named Johnnie traveling on his motorcycle who invited us to park up on his ranch while we traveled back east to visit family. We attribute this good luck to our friend Anne because she struck up a conversation with him as we walked by. We took Johnnie up on his offer and had a great place to park worry free. The list of animals was a llama, sheep, goats, burros, a horse, pheasants and then at night there were the coyotes….
In the days before we left, we got new tires for the truck, which we’d been looking for for months, we set up an upholsterer to make new & improved cushions for our seating area (the originals were only meant to be temporary) and we lined up our favorite welder Tom to do some projects for us in Tucson. It felt good to have those things sorted and we busied ourselves ordering more crap that we needed to get the projects done and to prepare for travel in January into Mexico and on down to S. America.
We took a red eye flight to Boston that made us wonder why we did it since you end up staying up all day, then all night flying and then all day again before your head hits the pillow. We thought it would be more efficient that way and well, I guess it is. Why sleep your life away? Haha.
It was great seeing my parents and we were there in time for Thanksgiving. Mom and I cooked up a whole traditional dinner together and it was fun to take out those old recipes and have the house smelling like a feast was in the works. We were pretty impressed with ourselves that we pulled it off so well. Though November is sort of gray & dark, the weather wasn’t bad and we enjoyed quiet days, took some nice walks together, ate too much and just savored each other’s company. We got our health maintenance done, including the annual skin freezing session, the product of a great life led outsdoors! Jon & I cleared some fallen trees on our land, looked into our building at all the stuff in there and promptly closed it back up again to save our sanity. It can wait for another day.
Then we left Vermont and bused back to Boston to catch a plane to Florida. We had 3 hours to spare so we got off near the North End and walked to Mike’s pastry to relive some old memories. The city looked great! We didn’t really get to enjoy it being finished from the Big Dig when we left in 2011. Sitting by the water eating a pastry, we decided our next trip should include a couple of days in Boston to see old friends, run our old Charles River route and hit some of our favorite city spots. That was our work life and it was a good one there living aboard our boat.
We flew to Orlando and rented a car for 2 weeks, heading directly for Tallahassee to see Jan & Rich. They have a new house there and we were so looking forward to seeing them and their new area. Plus it was Jan’s birthday so we could drink some champagne together which is our custom. One of the things we did was visit Wakulla Springs, one of several great FL springs that is full of wildlife. It has a 2 mile stretch of river that is closed to everyone, the only stretch in all of FL like that. Jan booked a cool boat tour led by a park ranger. We saw all kinds of birds and manatees, gators of course and all the foliage that brings me back to my childhood. Plus, we took some nice walks, toured the city and were surprised at how spiffy and young feeling it was because of the university. The old oaks draped in spanish moss lend a dreamy feel to everything, at least in my mind.
Then we headed to Vero Beach to visit Jon’s mom. The “Sonny Do” list was pulled out and Jon got busy fixing this and that. She’s fun to hang out with and we had a lot of laughs. We’re so glad we brought our Dahon bikes to FL so that we can use them there. It’s always nice to have a bike wherever you are! Biking there isn’t the greatest and we feel lucky to make it back without getting run over but its a good workout even without any hills. I spent a few days with my sister Ann & Bruce, then Jon came down for another day and we visited a park filled with tortoises. Jon’s brother Brad came down and we did an early Christmas dinner together too. Mariette’s dog Katie kept us entertained and we soaked up the warm weather and tropical plants. Because we were short on time, we did a halfway meet-up for lunch with John & Cindy and Maggie which was great and meant a lot. Poor Bob had to stay at home monitoring the roof repairs from hurricane damage but we’ll catch up next time!
Then it was time to head back to Phoenix and our truck which we’d been missing despite the fact that we were having a nice time. Sometimes when traveling, we actually miss each other because we’re focusing on others rather than ourselves in a way. Funny how that works. Plus, we were missing our bed. It’s like a cloud of comfort.
The truck was just as we’d left it and it was an easy Uber ride to it from the airport that night where we fell into bed for a well earned sleep. Then we got ourselves organized, had a great evening over homemade pizza with our hosts Jennyfer and Johnnie (forgot to get a picture) and then moved to a nice park campground at Skyline Regional Park outside the city that had hiking trails and a picnic table so we could exercise but also install our new door.
It went in pretty smoothly but it needs some tweaking- one thing is it is so snug that the gasket wouldn’t fit. Hindsight being 20/20, Jon realizes he should have put the door and frame in at the same time to make sure everything stayed lined up but he couldn’t figure out how to clamp the frame properly for the adhesive to cure if the door was in there. Tolerances are tight. But he’ll get it! This being door #3 (the first 2 were the same) we’ve gotten really good at cleaning up old adhesive and rebedding in new doors. Hopefully this will be the last one. This door has a 3 point locking mechanism, a pressure compensated double pane glass window, it is well insulated and there are no plastic parts. We also still need Tom to make a storage bin for the inside and make the rounded corners for the interior trim. But overall, the door looks great and we’re so pleased with how solid it feels and the shiny paint job. It felt like such a relief to get it off of our seating area since we’d been living that way for way too long needing the right temps and time to install it. We said goodbye to the old one in the dumpster and took a hike through fields of cactus. Having the sun and blue sky is good for the soul.
We had some non-descript days doing errands and small projects and then headed to Gilbert Ray campground for Christmas weekend. It’s a beautiful place in Tucson Mountain park and bike/hike trails emanate right from there. We’d gotten some terribly bad news that Friday that a family member has cancer and were filled with anxiety and sadness. So while we’d planned to have a quiet Christmas, we weren’t expecting that kind of mental shock. We motored along the trails deep in thought.
The day after, our friend’s Kevin & Claire from Shipyard Quarters, our old marina in Boston, called to say hi and asked where we were. When we said Tucson they couldn’t believe it because coincidentally, they were passing through the next day on their way to Mexico! So we had a Christmas miracle of sorts and got to hang out together for a day to get caught up. The last time we saw each other was when Jon & I pulled in to Phili to see them in our new to us fire truck when we were headed north. We’d done virtually nothing on it at that point. After Kevin & Claire left, we went back to our mindnumbing reality trying to make sense of the news we’d gotten and how to help.
We went and visited an old high school friend Rob, who had kindly accepted a bookshelf full of packages for us, had pizza together and then visited Tom the welder to set up a date. He can be hard to get a hold of and we were getting really anxious about the welding work that we so need to get done. But he was there in his shop and willing to start tomorrow which was a relief. We spent the afternoon hunting out the metal that will be needed for the projects which is time consuming but we found what we needed.
Then we headed out of town to the Chiricahua National Monument for the New Year’s weekend. It’s full of rock spires and interesting formations, trails, really tame wildlife and coatimundis! Never seen these before. I love the way they hang out in groups and hold their tails high. The place is a gem and we wouldn’t have known about it if not for Rob telling us. We hiked every trail there except one.
As always, we are not sure what the future holds because we can’t predict it. Right now we’re waiting to know which direction we’ll head. And we’re trying to enjoy today with hope that everything will turn out OK.