Thursday, November 28, 2019

Atypical Thanksgiving

The folks from Marine Resources Council, a highly productive
Florida conservation group used this in their newsletter.

In Thanksgivings past, split shifts and distant lands made for different Thanksgivings for Wayne and me

  • Last year, on Thanksgiving day I was startled on my kayak by a 'gator (or maybe it was a manatee -- I'll never know for sure). 
  • Three years ago, off an unpopulated Australian Island, we and our cruising friends scraped our larders and the result was Chinese. And we saw pink dolphins! We're still in touch with those friends, who we've seen several times since returning to the States, on both coasts.
  • Four years ago we'd just arrived in New Zealand. A yacht club kindly hosted their best guess at a US Thanksgiving dinner, which they mostly got right. It wasn't a family-style Thanksgiving with the usually gluttony, but we appreciated the effort and best of all, the friends we broke bread with. We're still in touch with those friends.
  • Seven years ago, we introduced our Slovenian cruising friends to Thanksgiving in the Caribbean country of Antigua. We are still in regular contact.
  • Many years ago traveling in Australia for Thanksgiving, since I couldn't have turkey, I ate kangaroo (yes, they are the national symbol but there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 34 million of them and they taste a lot like London Broil and are lean, healthy meat).
  • When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, and there was no family nearby, I joyfully embraced the tradition of "orphan's Thanksgivings," shared with friends. "Friends are the family you choose" is the motto displayed at a friend's home; we whole-heartedly agree.

Multnomah Falls, less than an hour's drive,
visited shortly after returning to roost here.
In between, our Thanksgivings have been more traditional, though sometimes started late or cut short by work obligations (retail and the airlines are serving others on Thanksgiving). Overall, there have been fewer, rather than more of those in much of my adult life.

My parents embraced the "orphan's Thanksgiving" concept the year they invited the immigrant Russian students they taught English as a second language. I remember at the end of the meal, my Mom served Earl Gray tea. 

"This is really good! What is this?" exclaimed one of the guests. "Earl Gray tea," my Mom replied. "I need to see the package and find out exactly where you bought it," our guest countered.

Then, it dawned on me. I imagined this woman, likely used to meager tea options if any, going into Fred Meyers, trying to pick this particular tea out from probably 50 options. And nearly every grocery item she was shopping for would be like that. How overwhelming that must be.

And how complacent we are in this land of plenty. That is the norm for us - whatever we want, whenever we want it. And today, quite likely delivered to our doorstep.

This year, we're spending the morning at a friend's Thanksgiving brunch. Sometime this afternoon, we'll join Wayne's folks for family time, football, and of course the traditional Thanksgiving feast, with turkey and trimmings. We haven't had cable tv for many years, so for Wayne, watching football will be a rare treat. Then we'll return to where we're house-sitting, to enjoy some good kitty love, and some time off our boat.
The aptly-name boat Serendipity, a boat given to our by friends. It is our home now. Earlier this year we took our home to this incredible spot, Princess Louisa Inlet.
We have much to be grateful for. We are happy, healthy. We live aboard a boat given to us. We're able to spend the holiday with each other, friends and family. It is no longer an option to share Thanksgiving with my parents, though they are most certainly with us in spirit. 

We've also loved our wayward Thanksgivings. There's something delicious about spending a holiday on the hook with fellow cruisers, making do with what's at hand. The celebration is of a life well-lived, amongst those we love spending time with.

This Thanksgiving, we look forward to spending it with friends and family and the usual traditions.

We also trust there will be adventures ahead.

We wish you the very best Thanksgiving this year and every year, wherever and however you spend it. 

Location Location
Our boat in Jantzen Bay. We are currently house-sitting in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Home: Winding Down, Settling In, Taking Stock

Ghostly sunrise from the St. Helens City docks where we waited
to get re-accepted at our former Portland OR marina.
How the heck did I manage to let 4 weeks slip by since my last post?!?
Astoria Bridge, behind us we work our way up the Columbia River.
I left off posting when we were headed back across the Columbia Bar; blissfully another non-event across the "graveyard of the Pacific" thanks to Wayne's excellent planning and some good luck.
Mt. Hood welcomes us home as we wend our way from the ocean up the Columbia River
toward Portland Oregon.
We arrived back in the exact same Jantzen Bay marina slip we left in the summer of 2018. 
A dock in the middle of nowhere between Cathlamet and Longview.
We stopped overnight to cruise rather than buck the tides.
Ultimately, it was the cold weather and our tropics-spoiled blood that prompted us to get back on the grid to heat our boat more thoroughly than our main cabin propane heater can. For us, that means plugging in an electric space heater and a heated mattress pad. What can I say? Now anything colder than 70 degrees F now feels cold!
Approaching the Longview Bridge. Not far from St. Helens, where we waited for our
live-aboard approval for a slip in Portland Oregon.
We've been on the move since May when we left Florida with my Prius packed to the gills with what last bit of stuff that didn't fit, moved by Greyhound. It's easy for the time to fly when there's a healthy list of stuff that's harder to do when you don't stay in any one place for long.

To name a few... 
Smook, a very affectionate kitty who was kind enough to
welcome me to his home for a house-sit.

  1. filling out the 5-page 2-point type document to get re-accepted into our former marina as live-aboards
  2. setting up a PO Box (as our marina doesn't accept mail)
  3. getting caught up on our snail mail
  4. moving into yet one more very small storage area (goal -- digitize my photos and dump the storage area)
  5. starting to catch up with friends and family
  6. tracking down some less mainstream personal hygiene items,
  7. replacing some of my more threadbare clothing and adding some items for colder weather
  8. acquiring some mail-order odds and ends
  9. setting up to house-sit with Trusted to get in my pet fix and to get off the boat a few times this winter (and just finished my first stint today)
  10. getting an extension for completing my online marketing class that required more regular wifi connection that I could spare for classwork(due now the end of the year)
  11. working on a few freelance writing projects...

Latourell Falls, part of the Gorge Scenic Highway waterfall loop.
Our unexpected reward for returning before November is the most vivid fall colors I can recall in my 20+ years in the Pacific Northwest. While the weather's been chilly, often dropping into the 30s overnight and not getting warmer than the mid-50s most days. But, we've had mostly sunny skies, little rain, and not much wind.
We scoped out the dock area at Beacon Rock, further up the Gorge, for future reference.
It was a treat to make a couple trips up to the Gorge, take in the sights of the area that lured me up to the Northwest back in the late 80s, and get in some great hiking.
Bridge by Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia Rive Scenic Highway waterfall loop.
What next? Well, there's always boat work to do!
Wayne, doing brightwork on the boat over the summer. Other projects await.
Beyond that, we're open. 

I've got a couple presentations to make on our sailing adventures. 
Image from
Eventually, I need to decide what is the "one through message" for my book that will inspire me to pick it back up and finish writing it.

I'm leaning toward developing my freelance work while finding other ways to re-connect with the community around me so I feel like I'm doing more than just passing through.

At the same time, I'm incredibly grateful to have the luxury of options and time to figure it out.
Portland's chock-a-block with cool murals. This one was in the Goat Blocks, by Market of Choice.
Location Location
We're back in Jantzen Bay Marina (N45 47.449 W122 47.189), Portland Oregon.

Up Next
I will do a roundup of our most recent cruising, how far we went, the highlights, etc. - unless I can't resist doing a post with some more "beauty shots" of the Gorge scenic area first.