Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The boat got shorter...

Not in length (although some people say, "Your boat will shrink by one foot per year for each year you are on it."), but in height.  OK, the boat is the same height, but the kayaks are no longer mounted up on top...

After more consideration, it is sleeker (not shorter).  She also got a thorough scrubbing.  If I get up earlier enough tomorrow, the cabin top and brow will get a fresh coat of wax.  Best to not wax in hot direct sun.

Bit by bit, the list of things to get done is getting shorter.  Yeah, shorter, not sleeker. ;-)

Warm here in the Tropical Tip:  83º for a high today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wash and wear...

Well, wash and live in.  We designed this little house in the Tropical Tip to be as maintenance free as possible.  Yeah, we know: nothing is maintenance, especially if it is near, or on, the water.  But, with vinyl-clad siding and hurricane shutters, usually all the house needs when we've been gone for a while is a bath.  Today was "bath day."

Joan was armed with a bucket of soapy water and a soft bristled brush, I manned the hose.  (Insert your favorite "hoser" joke here.)  We worked together as a team, going around the house, section by section.  It reminds me somewhat of waxing a boat or an RV: it doesn't seem that big when you're in it, but it sure takes time to clean up the exterior.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day to do this: mid-70s and partly cloudy.  I was working in my swimsuit;  Joan decided a t-shirt was in order (Insert your favorite wet t-shirt contest joke here.)

I have to say, the house looks mighty fine again.  We were both wet.

The next task was more work... well, more heavy lifting.  The TV that was in our living room went to the thrift store where proceeds go to pay expenses for the local animal shelter (yes, the place where we found Izzy).  Ideally, that old TV could have been moved with 5 strong men and a mule... we had a couple old folks and a skinny cat... and, honestly, the cat really isn't into heavy lifting.  A bunch of grunting, some swearing, and two hernias later, we got the TV in the truck.  Joan brought a 2-wheel truck along to move the TV from the truck into the thrift store... and, we needed that.  The lady in the thrift store oooohhed and aaaaahhed over the TV: "That will sell right away!"

Then, to our local home supply place to get what we needed to put a shelf in the entertainment center.  Quite a difference: old TV out, minus 300 pounds; new TV in, a scant 12 pounds.  We measured twice, cut a couple times and drilled a few more - the new shelf looks good and helps balance out the space.

Two tasks in one day... I may need a day off. ;-)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

And that's what it's all about...

No, not the Hokey-Pokey.

This morning, while making breakfast, Joan said, "I'm running the coffee maker, the microwave, and the electric skillet - all at the same time!"

"So what?  I do that all the time," you are probably thinking.  With a 30 amp electrical system on the boat, we are pretty well limited to one big "power sucker" at a time.  Want to use a blow dryer?  Turn off the water heater.  Need to run the microwave and the coffee maker?  One at a time, thanks.

It's about "power management."  Oh, and comfort.  There is a thread on the C-Dory owners group ( about "which boat to buy?"  It comes up frequently.  The smaller model doesn't have an enclosed head (bathroom), the bigger model does.  Porta-potty and sponge bathing vs a fixed toilet and a shower.  For most land-lubbers, the answer would be: neither, thank you.

But, boaters and RVers make these decisions.  It kinda comes down to: what is the minimum you can be comfortable with at a workable budget?  Most of us aren't independently wealthy, so we have to make choices.  OR, as in the case of a trailerable boat, there are practical size limitations.

So, while I was making the following post, Joan was having fun with appliances...

(from the C-Brats)

I have to chuckle when the talk turns to "the little woman wanting an enclosed head" on the boat. Rolling Eyes We have had boats that had no shower, and we used a porta-potty... and showered in the cockpit (or on our trimaran: on the nets). You can make almost anything work. Heck, Pat and Patty have overnighted on their 16... ask 'em which is more comfortable: that or their 25?

No matter how minimalist you feel you can be, do you have a bathroom in your house? Does only the female part of the couple use the bathroom? Would you rent a motel room that didn't have a shower? "It's OK, there is a porta-potty under the bed that you can use." You might have second thoughts about paying good money for that room. Wink

Oh, we get it. We tent camped for years. Did so on motorcycles, too. Built a van interior that we used to camp in. Had a couple VW campers. Had some sailboats that didn't have full enclosed heads. I'm only relating this as background... at some point, if you are going to spend time on the boat, you are going to want some amenities. The difference between making it work and being comfortable.

I also understand that the $$ difference is significant (the reason we tent camped in our younger years). Unless you live on an island, you probably don't need a boat. It's a matter of desire. So, you make your desires, budget, and circumstances mesh to get the boat that "fits."

For us, the 25 is the smallest, most affordable boat that is trailerable and allows us to spend extended time onboard. Even if it's just a weekend out, I still like a shower and (TMI ALERT!!) a place to go to the bathroom with reasonable privacy. Some folks can do with less and be happy; we've also met bigger boat owners who are horrified at the prospect of what we do (OK, a lot of landlubbers, as well).

What it really comes down to is finding the right fit for YOUR circumstances. Buy too big or too small, and you will find yourself having regrets. Have you ever heard someone say, "Ya know, we're just too darn comfortable on this boat." ??

If you haven't done it before, some things are a leap of faith. Dr. Bob and I have discussed having friends who "had the dream" and found out boating wasn't for them. Many people "start small" and work their way up with boats. Not sure about the sound economics of that... I've decided you should buy your third boat first... if only I knew then what I know now.  Wink

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The end of an era...

One of the things that made the boat more like home while in Friday Harbor this summer was the satellite TV.  Yeah, I know: not much "adventure" in that. ;-)  That's OK, I liked having good internet, too.

We put in Dish service back in 1997; first in the motorhome, then in the house.  We had 3 receivers... we bought the kind that came with radio remotes, not infrared.  We could control the receiver from the living room or the bedroom with the same remote.  Even in the outdoor entertainment center in the coach.  Easy.

We have resisted replacing those receivers.  One by one, they began to die off.  We moved the receiver from the house to the RV... and this summer, to the boat.  In that humid environment, it occasionally acted up, requiring expert electronics repair: we whacked it!  Hey, it worked.

We knew it was on its last legs, though.

Another era: we use a VuQube.  First generation.  It is the satellite dish, contained in a cube (yes, the thing some of our summer neighbors thought was a porta-potty).  Dish is now promoting these as "Tailgaters".  They don't do HD, and only one satellite at a time.  Not a problem for us and our ancient receiver.

And, one last era:  When we built this house 9 years ago, we had custom cabinets built in.  Custom to the point, that our cabinet maker needed the exact dimensions of the TVs we'd have in the house so he could fit the cabinets to them.  We bought "state of the art" flat front TVs, with built-in DVD and VHS players.  Flat front, not flat screen.  Yep, the old "squarish" format.  Way before the mandated change to digital TVs.  And the 9x16 format.  Yep, we have a squarish opening in a rectangular world.  Since we have cable and satellite, we didn't have to make that move... and our somewhat dated TV was just fine.

Back to the summer in the boat, and that 7 inch "big screen" we watched.  We agreed that new TVs were in order when we got home.  We're home.  We ordered a new receiver from Dish and brought home one of those new-fangled TVs.

First order of business: undo all the cables and wires...

Since Huey Louis was wrong, it isn't hip to be square, we set about removing that TV.  The new one that will go in there is about 12 pounds... the one coming out is closer to 500 pounds.  Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit?  The out-going TV is free to anyone who asks for it, you pay the shipping... I estimate it to be about $12,000. ;-)

If all you had to do is unplug one TV, pull it out, plug in the other TV, and slide it into place, it would be easy.  We're not game console people, but we do have to hook up cable, satellite, and a nearly as old sound system.  The cable part was easy (after I replaced connections on the ends of several coax cables).  The satellite part takes more doing: you have activate the new one... "Have patience," one of us told the other, "It has to do a bunch of internal checks and set ups."  I remember the "good ol' days," where you called Dish customer service, someone who spoke English answered the phone, you said, "I want to add HBO," and within a few seconds, you had HBO.  Almost magical.  I really didn't want to be on hold for the rest of the evening.


I grilled steaks, potatoes, and corn; we ate; while doing the dishes, the receiver completed its self-checks, and we have satellite again.

On to the first generation (see a trend here?) Bose 1-2-3 system.  Before HDMI.  Old school connections to go with a new TV.  "Warning, Will Robinson!  Danger!"  Inputs, outputs, any ol' put.  I didn't recognize any of those output connections on the back of the TV.  After careful thought, I decided we need a mini-jack connection to a double RCA to make it work.  I said to Joan, "The only thing I can think of with all the different TVs and cables that we own that might have that... is our little 7" TV that we used this summer."  I really didn't want to make a trip to Wally World.

Yep, there is was, in the bag of stuff for that TV.  Proof that I am more than just a pretty face... just the connection we needed to make it sound as pretty as it looks.  And once again, that little TV helped fill a need.

32" is the biggest TV we could fit in that opening.  Puny, compared to the drive-in movie screen size the kids have.  I figure I saved myself a bunch of money by putting this off for a few years... the price on flat screens has come way down.  I figure I saved enough for another guitar.  Which reminds me: tomorrow, we take on the office/music room. :-)

Friends from coast to coast...

After a day of sweating like farm animals while working outside, we cleaned up so we could visit our friends Herb and Wilma for happy hour.  In between the sweating and the toasting, a cold front moved into the area, dropping the temp and kicking up the wind from the north.

We had a great evening with our friends... the talk always seems to drift towards boats, RVs, and techie toys (phones, iPads, etc).  We have a lot in common.  We all traveled to the Pacific Northwest this summer... visited before we left here, visited in Anacortes, Friday Harbor, Lake Powell, and back home.

When it was time for us to head home, Joan pushed on the front door of their house... and it didn't budge.  It was unlocked, but that northeast wind was being funneled right to the door, pushing back just as hard as Joan was pushing!  We went out through the garage door.

Kinda early for a "norther"... but, that's really what this is.  We were able to leave the door open when we got home... after I went out to check the lines on the boat.

We woke up this morning to the sound of the wind.  Yep, it's a norther.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Where did all this stuff come from??

Three days after rolling in, we are still unloading.  Almost done, but we had to take a break... it is 84º, no wind (rare around here), and I am soaking wet.  Too cool to sweat much in the Pacific Northwest.  Too dry to sweat much in the Arizona desert.  But, this place, Goldilocks, is the Sweat Capital of the Northern Hemisphere when the wind stops blowing.  And today was the day we were taking on unloading the bed of the truck.

One of us is very organized and doesn't allow "just heaping" stuff as you unload it.  Not a problem if we had an air conditioned garage to work in... or, any kind of a garage.  No, the truck is out in the blazing sun, and you get to carry stuff around to the other side of the house to get to the storage area beneath the house.  In the sun.  With no breeze.

It is truly amazing how much stuff you can pack into the boat and the truck.  Unfortunately, all that stuff has to come out and go somewhere.

Mother Nature is promising some relief in the form of cooler weather... and howling winds.  The front is supposed to be blowing in this afternoon, building through the night.  Tomorrow may not make it to 70º.  I know you folks in the PNW are laughing at me right now, but that is January weather... in October??  ;-)  Yeah, I'm laughing at myself, too.

We have sunscreens around our deck; they roll up and down like window-shades.  With the predicted wind, those will have to get rolled up... they do a great job at cutting down the intensity of the sun.  A day or so of overcast coming with that wind, and a chance of some precip; maybe even a thunderstorm or two.

Glad the unloading is pretty much done (some "fine tuning" to go in the boat).  I need a shower and a cold drink.  And a rest.


Well, our timing was good - we just finished rolling up the sunscreens when the first few sprinkles started... followed by a 20 minute downpour!

A good breeze from the northeast, too.  What a difference a few minutes makes.

Speaking of weather, it looks like Hurricane Sandy is going to be an impact somewhere on the East Coast.  Our thoughts are with those folks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back in the water...

I did some cleaning on Wild Blue's hull this morning, we unloaded a few more things, then it was time for her to go back in the water.

Well, one more task first: I had sent a note to BoatUS, letting them know about our great experience with their Trailer Assist when we had a blow out on the trailer tire while crossing New Mexico.  I received a nice return note and a request for a photo and asking our permission to use the letter for their promotion.  So, we took a few seconds to get a photo of us with the boat on the trailer before putting her back in the water...

The launch went easy; we have our "system" down.  There is a ramp here on our island; we ride together to the ramp, I back the boat/trailer down while Joan opens the gate to the ramp.  She takes the bow and stern line in hand before the boat goes in the water, then we walk the boat back off the trailer.  With the boat tied off, she pulls the trailer out and gives it a fresh water flush while I put the motor down, start the boat up, get antennas up, and generally get ready to go.  I take the boat around to the house while she pulls the truck/trailer to the house.  Boat tied off at our dock, then we take the trailer to storage.

A bit more work to do to get settled in.

A friend of ours needs a photo to promote cancer awareness.  His wife has lost her hair due to the chemo-therapy; he shaved his head in support.  I wish I could say the prognosis is good.  Even though I am out of the photography business, I'll be doing a family portrait session for them late this afternoon... the moving-in work will wait.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Never gonna leave home again...

Yeah, I'm kidding.  We're already talking about "where to next?"

Comfortable Lazy-Boy leather recliners... the ability to run the coffee maker, the microwave, and the air conditioner all at the same time... a Select Comfort mattress... my oh-so-comfortable jacuzzi tub... a BIG refrigerator with room for ice cream AND able to keep it frozen...

Yes, that all sounds kinda trivial, huh?  Well, add this to the mix: I got out my "full size" acoustic guitar after 6 months of playing the GSmini - that guitar felt HUGE!  The GSmini is a travel guitar, and it does a fine job for that purpose.  Oh, but the full size ones play easier and sound BIGGER... well, 'cause they are. ;-)  With guitars and cases sitting around, it looks like we are getting ready to host a rock concert.  Well, maybe a little-bitty one.  Try to find room for all these instruments on the boat... well, our boat - yes, I know I could get a bigger boat to hold more stuff, but most of the time I like being married. ;-)

Plus, little Izzy spent time on her tower, looking out that full length window at the birds flying by over the canal.  There was room for her between our feet on that rectangle shaped bed last night... did I mention it's a Select Comfort?  We sleep good in the boat and especially enjoy that part where it "rocks us to sleep"... but, there is no "sleep by number" on the boat. ;-)

We are still unloading, but had to make a trip to the store to resupply the house.  And, Joan filled up the shopping cart, without regard to "Where can we make that fit??"

This little house feels like wretched excess... and I think I can get used to wretched excess again. :-)

While the house did fine during our absence, one of our neighbors told us that the air conditioner "was making a funny noise" while we were gone.  It wasn't all that funny when it started squealing before sunrise this morning.  We slept real good on that wonderful mattress until that point.  Two bids - it is the fan motor, but the compressor is "on its last legs"... fix it now and still have to replace the whole thing by next spring, or replace it now.  A new a/c unit is scheduled to be installed tomorrow.  I could buy a couple very nice guitars for what that is going to cost.

They don't move like a boat or an RV, but houses aren't maintenance free, either.  The darn a/c is doing a fine job keeping the place cool right now... doesn't seem right replacing something that still works, but you know it will crap out at the most inopportune time.

Give us some time in the house, and the "biggest draw-back" will be the fact that it stays in one place. :-)  But, right now - I'm never leavin' this place!

Welcome home!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Eagle has lan... um, Wild Blue is home!

Another uneventful (good thing), but warm, day of towing.  Wild Blue is home.  There is always that moment when you turn the key in the house door... and hope that all is well.  For a house in the south, the first thing is: the "smell test."  No musty odor is a good thing... and the house smelled fine.  The air conditioner did its job while we were gone; likewise with the ceiling fans.  When we had a home in the frozen northland, we kept heat on while we were gone in the winter... with a home further south than "the deep south," we keep the a/c on.

With all the hurricane shutters down, the house was dark.  Turn on the lights, then do the "look see"... no sign of critters, no evidence of water leaks, not even any dust on the glass table-top.  It all looks good.

A "walk-around"... not so different from an airplane in my pilot days: just looking around the exterior to see if everything looks OK.  Check.  A look at the underneath storage area: OK.  Turn on water and look for any sign of a leak: all good.  Fire up the tankless water heater: started up fine, ran its own check, and we have hot water (really good, 'cause I am looking forward to soaking in the jacuzzi tub).

Finally, roll up most of the hurricane shutters, and let the sun shine in (que the music).  We are ready to start the unloading process.

Fortunately, we promised each other that we "wouldn't be crazy", trying to get everything done in the first 24 hours.  Side note: after our summer on the Erie Canal, we were home 6 days before we got the 5th wheel out and headed off again.  I think we'll hang out here for a bit longer this time. ;-)

The drive today was relatively easy.  I've eaten more fast food in the past 5 days than I have in the previous 5 months.  I'll be glad to not be eating up miles... and french fries.  I could tell we were getting close to deep south Texas when we saw towed cars heading for the border: one car towing two more.  And trucks stacked up higher than many Interstate overpasses...

For a bit of whimsey, we passed a Smart Car, following an older VW Bug.  It looked like they were traveling together...

It made me think back to my youth: the VW Bug was the Smart Car of its day... back when a Pontiac Catalina (about a quarter of a block long) was a "sporty" vehicle.  I like the Smart Car; in our family, I am a party of one.

On the last stretch of Expressway from Corpus Christi, heading south, the terrain turns FLAT...

The biggest terrain rise is when the road rises over an underpass.  We saw a new cash crop in the area...

Wind generators in the distance.  They were working on these when we left, 6 months ago.  LOTS of them up and running.  The wind always blows down here - seems like a good resource to me.

The GPS as we drove on Expressway 77...

The GPS as we approached our island...

Notice a bit more blue (water)? ;-)  Speaking of water, a look at the water as we crossed over the ICW to our island...

And then: home!  Wild Blue parked on land for as long as it takes to get her unloaded and cleaned up...

After checking over the house (described above), we brought in the essentials and are settling in for the evening.  I wondered how long it would take Izzy to get comfortable in the house again: about 30 seconds...

I agree with Izzy - it feels good to be home.  And after a season in the boat, the house feels palatial!


A quick wrap up:

Days out: 170 (all but one week while we visited our daughter, onboard Wild Blue).
Miles traveled: 6,853 miles on land (all but about 500 of that was towing Wild Blue).
Tires shredded: just one.
Job satisfaction: both rated it "high".
Whales seen: I lost count after a couple hundred... well, that was some of the same whales more than once. ;-)  Orcas (residents and transients), humpbacks, and minkes.  Not to mention scads of other great wildlife (Bald Eagles, Stellar Sea Lions, osprey, harbor porpoise, seals, etc, etc, etc, etc).
Gallons of fuel use: on Wild Blue - about 150.  On the company boats - I am SO glad I wasn't paying that fuel bill!!
Days of sunshine: more than I expected.
Number of times we used the marina showers: 0 (Wild Blue has a shower, thanks for asking).
Number of times we showered together in Wild Blue's shower: 0 (get serious - it is small).

Just short of 6 months on the boat this time out; most of that time was spent in a marina.  Surprisingly, we enjoyed "marina living."  Wild Blue made a great summer cabin for us in the marina, with trips out as time allowed.  We enjoyed the "home-like" amenities of satellite TV, good internet, and electric heat.  We both found the walk to work, and life in Friday Harbor, to be pleasant.  Great co-workers.  Good dock neighbors.  Beautiful scenery everywhere we looked.  We enjoyed a week at Lake Powell on the way home - nice to be in fresh water!

We had a great summer.  Nice to be back in the Tropical Tip... and more "summer." :-)

This horse is headin' for the barn...

We ran the a/c all night... haven't done that since we left home in early May.  We will be on the road soon this morning; assuming all goes well, we have just over 300 miles to get to our driveway in the Tropical Tip.

We have enjoyed this summer adventure with the boat, and she has been a champ.  But now we have our head in it, and we're looking forward to some "house time."

No doubt, a few weeks of that, and I'll have itchy feet again. ;-)

I'll post some wrap-up info once we've had a chance to get settled back in.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Tale of Two... um, RV Parks

We ate up the miles today, across west Texas.  Reasonably uneventful, even though the wind really came up the last couple hundred miles.  Oh, and the miles per gallon went down.  It was a warm wind, out of the south/southeast, making it just forward of beam... and, it got hot.  We saw 91º on the truck thermometer as we got close to San Antonio.

There is an RV park that we frequently stay at, because it is handy to our route.  Each time we leave there, I say to myself, "Self, I need to find a different place.  Those people just aren't particularly friendly."  And then I forget about it.

Compare these two phone calls:

"Braunig Lake."

"Hi, this is Jim.  I was wondering if you have an RV site available for this evening for a Passport America member?"

"I don't know; we're pretty full.  What time will you be in?"

"Probably around 5:15 according to the GPS.  What time does your office close?"

"We close at 5:00.  Oh, I don't know.  We may not have anything left by then."

"Can I make a reservation?"

"We don't do reservations."

"Oh, new policy?  I have made reservations there in the past."

"Oh, I don't know.  We're really busy."

"Should I just come in and take my chances?  I can do an after hours registration if you have envelopes."

"Oh, I don't know.  We're really busy."


Compare the above to this:

"Hidden Valley RV Park; this is Terri."

"Hi Terri, this is Jim.  I was wondering if you have an RV site available for this evening for a Passport America member?"

"We would love to have you visit us.  What size RV do you have?"

"Well, it's actually a boat, but it has the same amenities as an RV."

"That sounds fun.  How many nights do you need?"

"Just tonight."  ...

She took my name, got Joan's name, and our over-all length.  Of course, that is where we stayed.  The park isn't as big or fancy as the first one, and they are also nearly full.  She made the effort and was friendly.  I would rather give her my money.

When we arrived at the park, Terri came out to greet us.  As I got out of the truck to go register, she looked at the Blonde and said, "You must be Joan.  We're glad to have you here."

Before we retired, we used to do seminars for professional associations.  One of the popular topics was: Giving Great Customer Service.  The first place could use that training.

Frankly, we see a lot of businesses lacking in customer service these days; so much so, that we notice when we do get good service... it's almost like an unexpected pleasure.

Little Izzy slept most of the day... I hope that doesn't mean she will be up and moving about all night.  She spent some time on Joan's lap while on the road...

What a cutie... oh, and the cat is cute, too.

If all goes well, one more day on the road. :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An uneventful day!!

 We drove into Deming this morning, in search of a new tire.  Wal-Mart had an exact replacement, but I wasn't feeling good about their competency... "I don't think we can jack up a trailer like that.  We'll lend you our jack and you can take the tire off.  Roll it in, and we'll put another tire on there."

Big O Tire was being manned by a competent and confident young lady.  She knew her tires, told me why the replacement she had was equal to or better than what we are running, and said, "We'll have you back on the road in less than an hour - one flat fix in front of you, and Jacob will get right on it."

That sounded better.

We stopped more often than usual, to check the tires and hubs (bearings).  All was good.  I ran temp scans on the tires; haven't done that before.  Who knew the rear tire on a tandem trailer runs a few degrees warmer than the front?  Makes sense, I guess.

With all the stops, we decided to pull off early, turn on the a/c, and relax.  It is warm, pushing 90º.  We are in a Passport America campground for the princely sum of $10 for the night.  Options are not abundant in west Texas, and we have stayed in this place in the past, with the 5th wheel.  Not fancy, but it'll do.

Still a couple days from home.  It is a long drive across west Texas.


At Big O, a couple came walking up to us while we were waiting for the tire change... "Is that your C-Dory?  Can we ask you some questions about it?"

They have a 36 foot SeaRay, but are considering something easily trailerable.  They saw a C-Dory at Lake Powell a couple weeks ago and have been talking about it since then.  I answered some questions and invited them to visit this forum.

While fueling up the truck, a guy came up and said, "Great boat!  If I had one like that, I'd live on it!"  When I told him that we have spent the last 5 1/2 months on it... "That is SO cool!"

We get a lot of comments about Wild Blue... when we aren't parked next to Herb and Wilma's tug. ;-)

The lady at the front desk RV park we are in tonight was fascinated that we are staying in the boat.  "You're going to sleep in there?  We've never had anyone stay her in a boat before."  I guess she thought we were going to sleep in the truck??

The v-berth felt very comfortable after a week in a "regular bed."  Little Izzy is happy to sit on the back of the dinette seat and look out the window.  Joan has satellite TV.  I have internet.  And all the tires kept rolling.  Life is good.  :-)


One more edit: a west Texas sunset (with some selective cropping)...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Well, now we know BoatUS trailer road service works...

We made it across Arizona and into New Mexico.  The first place we considered stopping was Benson, AZ, but it was only 1:30.  I suggested we press on to beautiful Deming, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment).  We planned to be in to the Escapees park there around 5:45.

38 miles west of Deming, a pick-up pulled up alongside us, with the passenger frantically waving.  I rolled down the window and he yelled, "You have a flat tire!"  We never felt a thing.  We check the tires and hubs everytime we stop - it was all looking good.

Joan looked in the passenger mirror and said, "My side!"  I pulled to the side of the Interstate.  It looks like a belt in the radial separated...

It did some other damage: tore some wiring and left the fender chewed up...

I looked around us - it looked like this in every direction...

A lot of nothing.  Joan got the jack out from under the back seat of the truck, while I got the tire iron our of our automotive bin.  Snag: the lugs on the boat trailer wheels are longer than the sockets of the tire iron are deep... I can't get the lug nuts off.  On to Plan B: call BoatUS.  We have carried their trailer road service, but have never had to use it; I guess we'll see how it works.

I called the 800 number and spoke with a representative.  He asked where we were located, and it took us a while to narrow down between which mile markers.  He asked what city we were in?  I laughed.  He asked if we have a spare - yep.  I gave him the rest of our information and he said he'd find a road service place and call us back as soon as he had made arrangements.

About 15 minutes later, he called back and said we'd have some there to change the tire within the hour.  I got a phone number for the service place, and we waited.  I was getting concerned, because sunset was rapidly approaching...

 About 45 minutes later, my new friend, Adrian, pulled up...

Adrian, crawled under Wild Blue...

Some of the steel belts were wrapped around the axle.  He cut those away and jacked up the trailer.  He had all the right equipment, and his job only took about 15 minutes...

You can see where the belt pulled apart and shredded the tire...

Adrian mounted the shredded tire on the post for the spare.  I asked him if we needed to sign anything or do any paperwork... "Nope, this was paid before I left the shop.  You are good to go."

Well, that was easy.  I didn't even have to get my hands dirty.  We did lose about an hour and a half, meaning we ran that last 38 miles in the dark.  I think this may be the first time we've towed Wild Blue in the dark... and I wasn't excited about that... we both strained into the mirrors, trying to see the tires in the darkness.

We pulled into the RV park, plugged in, and Joan made supper.  Not quite the relaxing evening we had planned.  And tomorrow, we get to go tire shopping! :-)


We said our good-byes to Steph and Dan this morning.  They are off to work, we will soon be hitting the road again.  Wild Blue and Big Red have one more long stretch to do: 1,348 miles to the Tropical Tip.  Across the desert.  Across West Texas.  We have the air conditioner ready, and will probably need it.

All the stuff we need for "house living" needs to go back in the boat.  We'll take it leisurely with that part, so we don't have to deal with rush hour traffic going through Phoenix.  A bit of population through Tucson, then a lot of open space for the next few days.  We've covered this route a bunch of times... once in a while, we take our time and do some side trips.  Most of the time, we are focused on a destination.  This horse is heading for the barn, this time. ;-)

It was great to spend time with Steph and Dan.

Hugs and "see you soon", while we plan for our next time together at the holidays.  Truth be told, I think Torrie and Jake (their cats) are ready to have their house back.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just lookin'...

We are getting Big Red packed for the road again.  Wild Blue is plugged in, tires and hubs checked.  Back on the road tomorrow.  With most of the work to get rolling again done, I talked Joan into visiting an RV Show at the big stadium here.  Well, let's clarify that: it is an RV sale, put on by one dealer.  But, they do have over 300 units to browse.  And it is AT the stadium, not IN the stadium... in the parking lot.  In the hot sun.  It's 90º here this afternoon, and not much breeze.

Still, we had fun looking at the 2013s on display.  Seems that the different manufacturers are a lot like people in our former industry: everybody copies each other.  Similar floorplans.  Motorized RVs that had fewer comfortable seats in the living room area than they used to.  Or, maybe I'm just sensitized to that, after spending the summer sitting at a dinette?  As I recently told my friend, Pat, in regards to "getting your head into" something, I'm ready to sit in my LazyBoy recliners at home. ;-)

The RV show made me homesick for the comfort of the HitchHiker, too.  I'm over the novelty of a rectangle bed, now I'm ready for a Select Comfort rectangle bed again. :-)

This is the first day of the RV show, and there were not many people there; pretty much what you'd expect on a Thursday afternoon.  We figured it would be a good opportunity to look around without a crowd... we didn't figure the sales people would outnumber the folks looking.  They did.  And, we did our best to stay polite and let them know that we were "just looking" and had no intention of buying anything.  There must have been a contest for snagging the first buyer - they were everywhere and being overly "helpful."  There is something to be said for walking through a show like this after it's been open a couple of days. ;-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back to school...

Steph had some "extra" activities at school today, and invited us to come help/watch.  We love to see Steph and Dan "in action" so were all over that invite.  Her class got to have a pizza party for lunch, thanks to being the biggest fund-raiser for breast cancer awareness.  Our job: bring the juice drinks... awesome responsibility, but we were up for it.

This was the first opportunity we've had to meet this group of students - a good bunch.  Of course, we think that is because they have good leadership.

The pizza was good, the kids were inquisitive: "What was Mrs. B like when she was our age?"

Watching the look on Steph's face, we said things like, "Oh, she was a good student, and very nice and polite.  Is that what you wanted us to say, Steph?" ;-)

After lunch, there was a flag salute assembly, with the whole school...

 We watched while the 5th grade made a presentation on "simple tools" (levers, ramps, wheels, etc).  And then the grand finale:  one of the female coaches got her head shaved (from an outstanding food drive)...

While that was going on, a local business brought out a power lift to demonstrate another type of "tool" - and Steph had been pre-selected as the teacher who would go up in that lift...

While the whole school cheered it on...

"Mrs. B, were you scared??"  "Wow!  That was SO high!"  "Could you see us waving at you?"

Steph did fine, not letting any fear of heights show... even when the bucket swayed a bit.  It is fun to see the faculty do things to keep the kids fired up.  No doubt I sound like a proud parent, but there is a good sense of family and respect on this campus - something Steph and Dan work towards with their kids.

So, apparently you aren't supposed to wear your birthday suit to a birthday party??

Yeah, I'm kidding.  It's what I do - I'm a kidder.  Although, I did have the suit cleaned and pressed, just for this occasion.

We had a great day for Joan's birthday.  We shopped around, but didn't buy much.  Had a nice lunch out.  She and Steph went to Steph's hairdresser and both got haircuts (nothing drastic, the Blonde is still the Blonde), then the four of us went out for supper.

Back at Steph and Dan's, it was time for presents and cards...

Not "just another day," because we got to spend the evening with the kids.  Seems that we are often traveling on Joan's birthday - it was nice to be here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Honey...

Not to be confused with Honey Boo Boo... I've only seen that little girl and her family once, and it made me feel sorry for what has become of society.  The Learning Channel came into being as a cooperative effort of the Department of Heath, Education, and Welfare and NASA.  Then, we privatized it.  I did learn something, though: perhaps Elvis was ahead of his time when he shot his TV?

But, I digress.  On this day, just 38 years ago (you're welcome, Dear) a lovely baby girl came into the world.  While this happens everyday, this one was special... my life wouldn't have turned out to be the adventure it has been without her.  My high school sweetheart, my wife, my best friend, my partner, the Mother of another lovely baby girl, and Momma to the cats who have been part of the family.  All of that, and still the hot legs, beautiful face, and blonde hair that left me tongue-tied all those years ago.

It is a delight to be able to spend this special day with our daughter and son-in-law.  Sleeping in a rectangle bed.  In a house that doesn't move.  OK, I just re-read that, and it is just the Blonde and me in the aforementioned rectangle bed.  Well, a cute cat does wander on and off the bed during the night.  And, we do get out of bed during the day, and that part is fun, too.

See, you still leave me tongue-tied.  Happy Birthday, Joan.  You might say, "It's just another day," but those of us who know you know our world is a better place because of you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Just visiting...

Well, sure, we are just visiting in the Phoenix area, enjoying time with our daughter and son-in-law.  Both teachers, there were back to work today, after their fall break... leaving us with time to wander... it's what we do.

Tomorrow is someone's birthday... someone of the Blonde persuasion.  We did some "shopping around" today, which is different from shopping.  Not much either of us needs, but it is nice to have plenty of looking around options.  Guitar Center keeps calling my name, and Joan is an enabler. ;-)  I like visiting Guitar Center.

We did get a visit in with Wild Blue, though; retrieving stuff from the boat and just generally checking on her.  She is patiently waiting in covered storage.  A few days or so, and we'll be back aboard, land traveling again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

You can pick your friends...

You can pick your nose.  But, you can't wipe your friends on the couch.  Or, something like that.

But, I digress.  We haven't done much shopping (other than groceries) for the past 6 months.  Now that we are here with our daughter and son-in-law, we have the opportunity to shop.  It's a big city; plenty of stores.  Not much we need, but we took the kids shopping.  Well, we went shopping with them.  I got to drive a car... haven't done that in months.

Steph and Dan have been eating better and are both down in weight and size(s).  They could use some new clothes.  Joan helped Steph pick out things, Dan and I did our best to stay out of the way.  I wanted to check out some guitar stores, but the one we went to didn't have what I wanted to see.  On the way back to the house, we stopped at the Post Office.  I had done my "shopping" on-line and there was a package waiting for me ... a Pick Punch.

Essentially, it is a die cutter to make your own guitar picks.  Now, before you say, "Aren't guitar picks really cheap?  Do you need to make your own?"  The answers to those questions are: some, and no.  This year, I discovered custom guitar picks.  Much nicer than the old standard plastic picks... and, yes, the sound is different, too.  Not cheap, they run $5 and up.

I heard about this Pick Punch on a guitar podcast, and checked it out on-line.  Inexpensive enough, and you can make your own picks out of almost any any reasonably thin material.  I thought this might be interesting.  I punched out a few things, my favorite being a clear plastic material that I ordered with the punch.  Gift cards (used up) work good, too.

Joan, Steph and Dan wanted to know if I was going into the custom pick business?  Um... no.  They were already working on business names.  Dan offered to do a business logo (he does great looking graphics for many businesses).  I just had my all-time favorite tortoiseshell pick that you can no longer buy develop a crack in it.  I just wanted to try some different materials... I'm not looking for a new hobby, and certainly not a new line of work.  Just doing my part to "reuse and repurpose." ;-)

Back to dirt dwelling... little Izzy has been spending a lot of her time under the bed.  Can't do that in the boat.  We are keeping her in our room, separate from Steph and Dan's cats.  She "made her break" when I came back in the room this morning... "Did you know there's a whole house outside that door??"  I'm getting much better at understanding her, after a communication break-through last month.

It is a treat to see Joan and Steph together.  Cooking... shopping... laughing.  We enjoy traveling, but having time with family is the best.   You can pick your friends... sometimes it is best to "raise" the family you want. :-)

We are back to the warmth... should get to 90º here today.

Friday, October 12, 2012

This ain't right...

How will I know where to put my feet?  Little Izzy is slinking around with her belly about an inch off the ground.  There's no foot pedal on this toilet.  The bed isn't rocking me to sleep.

After 5 1/2 months onboard Wild Blue every night, last night we slept in a house.  With a rectangle bed.  You could actually fall out of this bed because the walls don't come right up to the side of the berth... um, bed.  We are visiting our daughter and son-in-law... in the middle of the desert.  Wild Blue is in storage for a week or so.  We would be living out of a suitcase... if we had a suitcase.  There's no room for a suitcase on a boat, so we're living out of a couple bins and some bags.

The transition to dirt dwelling is disconcerting.  Back in our younger years, we traveled by plane, spending almost every weekend in a different hotel.  With a different bed.  Different noises in the night.  These days, moving to a different bed will take a few nights to get used to... and then we'll be rolling again.  The rectangle bed felt decadently odd... with all that space down at our feet.  Little Izzy could actually hide out under the bed.  And she did.  Until well into the night, and then she began doing laps across the bed, down onto the floor, under the bed, back up on the bed, across my back... yeah, I'm not going to get used to that.

It is great to see the kids; 7 months is too long.  Oh, texting and talking on the phone is OK, but certainly not the same as getting a hug.  OK, lots of hugs.

The kids have opened their home to us, but everyone's routine is different.  Great to be here, but the house doesn't have that familiar movement of a boat on the water.  The inner-spring mattress doesn't have that my-body-fits-here feeling of Wild Blue's v-berth.  Neither of us slept much.  This bedroom has about the same square footage as Wild Blue's entire cabin.

We're up early this morning, talking in quiet tones.  The accommodations are different, but the hugs are familiar.  I may need a nap later, but this is good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wild Blue out and on the road...

It was a lovely morning... would have been great cruising weather.  But, noooo, it was time for us to hit the road.  Herb and Wilma were just leaving the pump out dock when we arrived there.  With Wild Blue's potty clean as a whistle, we'll be ready to put her in storage for a week or two.  I pulled her up to one of the ramp docks and finished putting things away while Joan made that long, long walk up the ramp...

Across at the other side of the ramp, Herb was getting in deep to retrieve Willie's Tug...

When Joan came down the ramp, she swung around, put the trailer in the water, I shoved off from the ramp, and drove it up on the trailer.  Easy.  We pulled to the top of the ramp and started moving stuff from the boat to the truck...

We traded hugs and good-byes once again with Herb and Wilma...

Then, hit the road.  It is a pretty drive between Lake Powell and Flagstaff; the road can be a bit whoop-de-do at times, though.  We stopped in Flagstaff to top off fuel and check tires and hubs... all is good.  Joan found us a decent PPA RV park along I-17... $14.50.  They have a diner on the premises for breakfast.  We have satellite TV, good internet, and fresh laundry.

As you can see from the gravel in the above photo, we are back in the desert.  Little Izzy is keeping her eye on a roadrunner instead of fish...

 We'll be ready to visit with our daughter and son-in-law starting tomorrow!  Not sure I'll know how to sleep in a rectangle shaped bed. ;-)

Where have all the young people gone?

Joan and I enjoy our time on the boat.  We like to kayak.  This summer, while in Friday Harbor, we frequently saw groups on adventure kayak tours.  Sometimes young folks, often not.  While reading through some paddling news today, I came across this article...

I'm not one to forward stuff in e-mails.  But, this writer/retired teacher posts an interesting observation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Concert on H-Dock...

Wilma told me she has only been to two concerts in her life... tonight, we made it three.  In between folks coming by and asking about their tug (;-)), I got out my guitar and entertained the crews of Willie's Tug and Wild Blue...

I did some requests, played some stuff I wanted, and when it came to some Jimmy Buffett tunes, they broke out their ParrotHead hats...

A fun evening.  Tomorrow, we pull out and part company... tonight, we party! ;-)