Thursday, December 31, 2020

Fresh Start: 2021—Reach Out


Photo by Ingo Joseph from Pexels

We're fast closing on what for most of us is the oddest year of our lifetimes and are happy to wish this year a "good riddance!"

For those of you who've lost someone close to you, my heart goes out to you. 

For those of the rest of us, the expectation is by mid-year or sooner we'll turn the corner on COVID. We're not out of the woods yet. Please be careful.

This is a year we all learned how much we took for granted. As we hope for some return to what each of us considers "normal" I believe we'll learn to appreciate those more innocent "before" times and treasure the return of the freedoms that were a natural part of our everyday life.

Like so many others, 2020 did not turn out the way we expected. This is a time that shut down distractions and forced us to slow down and reassess. It put us on a different path. 

We are lucky to be living in a community that normally requires a three-year waiting list to get in, but COVID travel restrictions created an opening for us. For others, as work and school shifted virtual and travel plans were canceled, their family bonds grew tighter.

I am grateful that I kept a roof over my head, food in my belly, and maintained contact with friends and family.

Beyond COVID, we are still a nation divided. I encourage each and every one of us to find ways to reach out with compassion, seeking common ground rather than focusing on our differences and disagreements. Our nation needs to heal, and it is up to us to make that happen. Don't wait. Drop a line. Pick up a phone. Knock on a door. See how you can help.

Our boat saga ramps up soon, but for now, let's keep it simple and real: 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Naughty or Nice?

My favorite sign up now in our termporary neighborhood.

How are you celebrating the holidays this year?

Thanks to COVID, the holiday season is weird for everyone this year—we get it! I advised one friend to just take a raincheck rather than force it if the spirit didn't move her and her family to find alternate traditions that made them happy this year.

Wayne honors my Grinch tradition of no Christmas decor, given I'm Jewish and Christmas trimmings aren't a big deal to him.

I couldn't find my menorah in our RV, nor could I find Hannukah candles. I bought birthday candles, spread cream cheese on celery to hold the candles in place and blessed the holiday over their weirdest makeshit menorah I ever hope to have. 

Still, I appreciate my neighbor's decor and the sense of festivities and everyone's efforts to do their best to appreciate who were are with rather than who's not with us in real life, or, anymore.

Flamingo in a Santa cap in a neighbor's yard—more weather appropriate Christmas decor
for Florida, where are now as we are in the process of purchasing a sailboat here.

This isn't our first Christmas celebration where "dashing through the snow" is an impossibility because we're either in the tropics or someplace upside-down from a North American perspective because January is mid-summer and July is mid-winter.

Here's a few blasts from the past you might enjoy from a more innocent time:

Another neighbor's nod to the North, a fake snowman for Christmas decor neslted amon the palm trees.

Today we're enjoying weather in the 80s. I made sure to get in a swim as tomorrow's peak is forecast for the 50s, with temps that night dropping to freezing. That means tomrrow's COVID-adapted dinner like we did for Thanksgiving is more likely to be a grab-and-go than an-eat-outside at appropriately placed tables. We got lucky for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow we're not expecting a return of that luck.

Still, we can say hello to our neighbors in the chow line, and we're alive to call friends and family to wish them well. We count ourselves among the fortunate for that this year. This is a year to remind us just how much we normally take for granted.

Happy Holidays!
Enjoy—or—Take a Raincheck

Seriously, let me know how you're celebrating the holiday this year. I'd love to hear from you.

Location Location
We're in Fort Pierce, Florida. The sailboat we're buying is in Jacksonville Florida. We plan to haul our boat out later in January at Green Cove Springs, Florida—I expect to spend my 60th borthday giving our new-to-us-boat a bottom job. Then come February, we're off to the Bahamas.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Our Next Boat Is . . .

What boat should we get for the tropics? We were in a quandary.
Photo by 
Marlon Trottmann from Pexels

Not the Pearson 424 fixer we originally made our offer on. While at the price we offered, it would've made sense, even with the money we knew we'd need to invest, we just weren't up to all the work it needed. We were concerned we'd miss this winter's sailing season and instead spend it slaving away in a boatyard.

Not a Pearson 365, like the one we spent five years aboard, ultimately sailing to Australia and selling it, though that would've made Wayne happy. I wasn't up to committing to spending the next five years in 150 square feet again. I also wanted a boat that if we hosted visitors, we could close our bedroom door and they could close theirs.

Instead, we've made an offer on a boat that technically wasn't even on the market from friends who are making the switch to a trawler. The boat's a GulfStar 45, and our friends kept her in tip-top condition. I even cat-sat on their boat—twice, but never sailed her. We don't even have any pictures to show yet.

There's still a two-part insurance inspection, one in the water, the other a haul-out, when we'll also repaint the boat's bottom. With holidays, a hot boat market and prime cruising season, that pushes us into the end of January for a closing.

But, as her current owners quipped, "All you have to do is loader her up, and she's ready to go." 

That's exactly what we plan to do!

Oh, we still do need to pick a name. Not because we don't like the name on her, but because her current owners like the name so much, they're taking it with them to their next boat.

Location Location

We're in Fort Pierce, Florida. The boat's in Jacksonville, Florida. We'll likely haul out in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Then it's off to the Bahamas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Boat-Shopping Break: Is It Skinny-Dipping Weather in Florida?

This morning in sunny Ft. Pierce Florida.

Wayne and me, sharing a blanket over the heater in our RV (aka "The Beast")


Note the towel spilling out from under Wayne—just a few days ago it was warm enough to need it for the pool here. Hopefully, it will be again soon.

Location Location
Ft. Pierce, Florida, our home base until it's time to move aboard our next sailboat.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Our Next Boat: Still TBD

Do we take on a project boat, or not?

We had the first part of our boat inspection last week. 

There were a few pleasant surprises, a lot of confirmations that our areas of concern are areas of concern, and some are worse than we thought they'd be.

We thought we'd get a chance to have our surveyor shimmy up the mast and we also thought we'd be able to do a sea trial. High wind and lines too damaged to safely hoist our surveyor made the full mast inspection a no-go. The sea trial was a non-starter because a diver was supposed to make sure the propeller was operable beforehand and we were told there were too many alligators in the area for a diver to check the prop.

Meanwhile, we've already spent ~$500 for the first part of the survey, and the next part is much more expensive as it requires our paying for a haulout. So we're running our numbers and making sure we're fully on-board for tackling everything that would need to be done to safely sail away to the Bahamas this year.

These are not easy decisions.

Is this the boat we'll go with? We're not 100% sure yet. We're still working on our spreadsheets.

We don't want to take a whole lot longer. Every day we spend deciding is one less day we spend getting the boat ready to go, but still, it's a big decision.  
Time is of the essence!

We'll keep you posted.

Location Location

We're still on terra firma in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Will Our Sailboat Pass Inspection?

Dana climbs the mast of a little sister (Pearson 365 36') to the sailboat we're looking at (Pearson 424 42).
S/V Journey, our last sailboat, was a Pearson 365.
Tomorrow, Ceal will be the "mast monkey" for part of the inspection to check the mat and rigging.

Tomorrow, December 1st, we're doing the above-water inspection of the sailboat we've made an offer on (click here for the ad on the boat). Ceal, of Potts Marine and is doing the inspection. We walked away from the two boats she checked out for us in Florida when we were still in Portland based on her assessments. Inspections are also sometimes needed for insurance coverage.

We weren't able to get a reputable marine yard capable of hauling out our next prospective boat in the Melbourne area, so depending on the results of the above-ground survey, we'll decide or not to proceed to the next step. 

Like buying a home—and this will be our home—each pre-sale step costs money. Most of that expense typically falls on the prospective buyer instead of the seller, so we're proceeding forward carefully, but at the same time, there's much work to do once we close a sale to get ready to set sail. 

Because boating is a COVID-friendly activity, this is the hottest boat market in 38 years, according to the brokers (and West Marine's inventory was ravaged, too). 

Unlike most boat buyers, we've fixed up boats before. We are willing to consider a boat whose price reflects the work needed at its value after the work is done. 

If this boat doesn't work out, we'll see what other options are out there. There are more smaller boats, like 36' Pearson 365 we lived aboard for five years, sailed halfway around the world, then sold in Australia in 2017. Some of those are ready-to-go, but less accomodating for guests, who whose sleeping area won't be in their own cabin, but in the main midsection of the boat.

If this boat works out, our current plan is is to set sail before 90 days from close—probably to the Bahamas—then not return to the U.S.A. until we've owned the boat for six months.

Wish us luck! We trust whatever should happen, will. Still, we can't deny this is a real nail-biter.

Boat Naming Contest Status

Boat naming contest underway. Final submissions are due Dec 1, 2020.

For those of you who've submitted names—thank you! Thus far there are over 150 names submitted. We'll hold off making a selection until we know for sure which boat the name will be for and are submitting our purchase paperwork for it. Meanwhile, I'm checking the top names against the US Coast Guard list of vessel names to make sure the name isn't one shared by lots of other boats.

Location Location

At this moment, we are in Ft. Pierce, Florida. The boat we've placed our offer on is in Melbourne, FL N28 07.364 W80 37.776.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Our Next Boat (Maybe). Help Us Name Her

We've made an offer on a Pearson 424 sailboat. This image is pilfered from's website.

We Made an Offer on a Sailboat!

It feels a little premature to share this news—we made an offer on this sailboat, this Pearson 424 ketch. Making an offer on a boat is a bit like making an offer on a house.  You make the offer, but you can't really feel like you can say you bought the house until it goes through inspection. Everything could be fine, in line with the contingent offer, made and excepted as such, usually after a counter-offer from the seller. Or, upon closer inspection, you may find something that's only worth completing the sale if you renegotiate. Maybe you can't agree on the renegotiation. Or maybe you find out something scary enough to just walk away.

Contest: Name Our Next Boat

If we do buy this sailboat, we need to decide on its name when we sign the sale paperwork. We know we won't keep its current name. So, even though we're not sure this will be our sailboat, we need to be ready with a name for it. We'd love your help.

First, Some Background . . . [or, just scroll down for the contest] 
Initially, We Kinda Sucked at Naming

Our First Boat: No Name

This isn't our first boat, but our favorite place near Portland, where we took both our first, unnamed boat
and m/v Serendipity.

Our first boat, a motorboat, came to us as a gift from Wayne's dad. The boat had no name anywhere on her. We were so busy enjoying her, we never got around to naming her. Instead, we referred to her by her make—The Fiberform. To this day, I feel kinda embarrassed about it. She deserved better. We were sorry to sell her when we moved to from Portland Oregon metro area to Everett Washington. After moving, we wish we'd moved her with us.

Our Second Boat: We Never Renamed It

Our 26-foot O'Day anchored off Copeland Islands, Desolation Sound, Canada.

We'd already decided we wanted to go cruising on a bigger sailboat when Wayne bought a sailboat off Craigslist in Everett, a 26-foot O'Day named C & H. We don't know why that was her name. Wayne joked about naming her Trainer because he bought her for me to learn how to sail. (I didn't.) Nor did we own her long—about a year. Wayne worked so much overtime, we didn't sail her much. We got in a lovely 3-week good-bye sail into the San Juans and British Columbia's Desolation Sound. We never did rename her.

Our Third Boat: We Didn't Want to Reinvent the Wheel

s/v Journey on the way to the French Marquesas, from Galapagos.

We bought our 36 1/2-foot Pearson 365 sailboat, s/v Journey, in St. Lucia to cruise five years in the tropics, cross the Pacific and sell in Australia. She came with the name. Her former owner, Ned, flew out to St. Lucia to spend the weekend with Wayne aboard Journey. Considering our plans, we decided her name fit. We felt keeping her name was good karma, respectful of Ned's time with her and our appreciation of his willingness to share his knowledge about her. We sold Journey, as planned, in Australia.

Our Last Boat: We Didn't Have a Choice & the Name Came Naturally

Our last boat: m/v Serendipity in the prettiest place we took her: Princess Louisa Inlet, Canada.

Our last boat, a 37-foot Puget Trawler, also came to us as a gift at a time when we needed it most. After selling Journey in Australia, we returned to the US and found ourselves homeless, unemployed and depressed. Blogging about our woes, out of the blue, my friends and surrogate parents, Larry and Nancy offered us their boat as a transition. They carried forward the Puget Trawler's name to their next boat and told us we needed to rename the boat. The trawler provided us with a home and a sense of purpose, so we named her m/v Serendipity. We sold Serendipity to Dash and Karrie, who plan to continue her adventures and care, and are keeping her name.

Now: Help Us Name This Boat
We sold Serendipity to begin our next adventure—returning to the West Indies. We needed a sailboat for that. This time, we wanted a boat better suited to hosting friends and family—a boat with two staterooms where we could close our respective doors at night. Our offer on a larger version of s/v Journey just got accepted. This boat, a 1978 42-foot Pearson 424 bears a woman's name that bears no significance to us. She's a fixer, so the sale is not a done deal. We're not sure if there will be showstoppers in inspection, haulout, or in her sea trial. But if the sale does go through, we'll need a new name for our title and registration paperwork by December 14, 2020.

What Makes A Great Boat Name?
We have some biases about what makes a great boat name (and what doesn't).

  1. Evocative, inspirational and without "baggage"
    We don't want to feel like something off a motivational poster, but we would like a name that inspires us and others who do more than dream. The name Imagine conjures up lovely fill-in-the-blank images, but we've seen a couple of boats bearing that name racked up on the rocks. We made an offer remotely on a boat named s/v Joy, when we discovered through an inspection how neglected she'd become, tainting a name we'd otherwise embrace. Go or Just Go are contenders.
  2. Easy to spell and easily understood over VHF radio
    Not only do we want the name to be easy to spell, but we also don't want to use a homophone. For example, Why Knot is a fun double-entendre boat name, but when you hear it over the radio, you don't know if it's Why Knot or Why Not. We've joked about calling ourselves real bare boaters because we captain our own boat—at least that's one reason to call ourselves that. But if we called our boat "Bare Boaters," we believe folks would puzzle over whether to spell it as "bear" or "bare."
  3. Positive and uncringeworthy for an insurer
    One ad guy I know wrung his hands over a client's oxymoron request, "Make it provocative but offend no one," but still . . . No alcohol or drinking-related names, not even Painkiller, Tequila Sunrise or It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere. No disaster names, like Albatross, or names that imply any form of boating incompetence (even if the latter is indicative of my lack of ability).
  4. Not too long
    We never got around to painting Serendipity's name on her. One reason is we couldn't agree on where to put it. Another is we sold Serendipity before giving her a much-needed exterior paint job and it made sense to put her name up after getting painted. Wayne only half-toyed with calling her Bob, so we didn't need to write or paint many letters. Did the length of Serendipity's name make us reluctant to make the effort to put her name up? Perhaps.
  5. Unique
    We ran into challenges at marinas who got confused when more than one Journey at a time called them to reserve a spot. I thought Serendipity was a unique name—until I saw two boats with that name in our same row at Jantzen Bay Marina in Portland, Oregon.
  6. Fits us, the boat, and our plans
    When we saw One Lucky Punch anchored in Manatee Pocket. We couldn't help but wonder about the story behind the name. We love names that imply a story, invite curiosity, conversation, amuse. One Lucky Punch isn't our story, but we'd love a name that is, fits us and our boat. COVID Plan #27 might be our story, but we all look forward to that inspiration to being part of our past, not our future. Chasing summer, exploring, enjoying nature, and friends drive us.
  7. Appealing for resale
    The impetus for naming our likely boat-to-be: it currently bears a woman's name which means nothing to us, nor is it likely to for a future owner. While we respect every boat buyer's need to make their own decision on their boat's name, we prefer a name more likely to provide an appealing sense of legacy as much as Journey did for us and Serendipity did for Dash and  Karrie.

What's the Winning Prize?
That depends on who wins and what they want. Options:
  1. $100 West Marine gift certificate
  2. A feature story on you in
  3. $100 donated to your favorite non-profit
  4. Our undying gratitude and your bragging rights as an outstanding namer of things
  5. Open to other reasonable alternative suggestions

How to Enter
Submit your name either in the comments on this blog or in the Facebook post on this or by emailing us at svJourney365 at gmail by December 1, 2020.

How Will We Pick the Winner?
We may do a poll on what we feel are the top names, mostly based on our criteria of what makes a great boat name and what feels right. Or, we might not. Ultimately, this is our boat; we reserve the right to be totally unfair, illogical, and biased in our final choice of the winning name. If the sale on the boat we have our offer on goes awry, all bets are off and this contest is canceled.

Submit names by midnight, December 1st, 2020, Eastern Standard Time. If you miss that deadline and still wow us with a name before we sign our paperwork, you could still win. 

Location Location
At this moment, we are in Ft. Pierce, Florida. The boat we've placed our offer on is in Melbourne, Florida, N28 07.364 W080 37.776, and hour's drive or a 45nm sail from Ft. Pierce.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween: Make No Bones About It

Skeleton on I.V. Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

With mask humor in woefully short supply, my walking buddy Deb Blakewood and I did a double-take the first time we saw these craftily posed skeletons.

Skeleton family: Ma, Paw and the dogs,  Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

In Vancouver's Hazel Dell neighborhood, right before the trail to the Burnt Bridge Creek greenway trail, there they were.

The kitty wanted equal time. Skeletons of Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Every week, there was something a little different.

Skeleton warning sign: Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

We met their clever poser, homeowner Danielle. 

Eileen, the missing arm skeleton of Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

She 'fessed to setting them up in clever poses,

Bad dog, Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

All the "human" skeletons were dutifully masked.

It wasn't a reindeer that ran over Grandma.
Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Deb and were the skeleton paparazzi, getting out shots in every time.

Bird with no feathers,  Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Often Deb's shots were better than mine.

A-- in the grass. Skeleton near Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Deb generously shared her best so some of these are hers, but I don't remember which are hers and which are mine.

A man and his dog, shakin' down the bones.Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

We took the part of the Burnt Creek Bridge greenway off Alki. Here's more about the trail if you're looking for an in-neighborhood gem to meander amidst the trees:

Snappy dresser but no skin and all bone.  Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Deb and I figured we'd putt the best of the poses that we got good shots of together as a collection.

Goin' batty for the skeletons outside Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

Anyhow, Halloween seemed a fitting time to release the series.

Who says skeletons can't be cool?  Burnt Bridge Creek trail Vancouver WA.

I'm all the way across the country in Florida, this Halloween, but hope Danielle and Deb are keeping the spirit of Halloween happiness going back in the 'couve. Even though like most of the country, we're taking a bye this Halloween, these flashbacks bring a smile to my face.

Thanks, Danielle, and Deb!

Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Ramblin' Day 27: Old Home Week


Navy Bee gunner at NAS JAX.

Jacksonville Florida still feels like home to us—a place where we made fast friends at friendly Ortega Landing Marina, where Wayne worked a couple contract jobs and I did my first two stints at West Marine. 

We caught up with marina friends we hung out and cruised with: Ron and Dee, Don (whose wife MaryAnn weathering hurricane Zeta in Mexico!), and Larry and Lena. I used to take morning walks with friends and got to enjoy a morning walk with Kate on this trip. 

We also stayed at Naval Air Station (NAS) JAX Mulberry Cove Marina and grocery shopped in the base commissary.

Mornings on the base kick off with revelry, evenings with taps, and the Star-Spangled Banner. There's a lot of "Sirs" and "Ma'ams" and while we're on the base, we never worry about locking anything.

Sandy, Bertie's dog still has a spring in her step. Dames Point Marina, Jacksonville Florida.

Another former morning walking buddy, Bertie, now at Dames Point Marina, with her dog Sandy, who sometimes joined us on our walks. I paid Bertie a visit at Dames. Sandy came out to play, but didn't join us for walkies.

Dames Point Marina's former bar. Jacksonville Florida.

Dames Point Marina isn't quite a going concern anymore, but Bertie's still welcome there. It's an intriguing historical and industrial area, close to another base, Mayport.

Chamblin Bookmine, Jacksonville Florida.

Chamblin Bookmine, Jacksonville's crazy warren of a bookstore, nearby both Ortega Landing and the base, is the same as it ever was. However, none of the books on my list were there so I managed to escape with as full a pocketbook as what I entered with.  Still, I'd rather purchase from an independent bookstore, so I was sorry my writer's reference wish-list books were not there.

We were also in the area to check out a boat in nearby Ortega River Marina. It's a "project boat," and we'd like to look at more than one before we decide that's what we want. 

NAS JAX Mulberry Cove Marina docks.

We dropped by NAS JAX Mulberry Cove Marina because if we purchased a boat in the area, that might be where we'd stay before we and the boat we buy are ready to cruise. We saw lots of vacant slips, so we figured that would be a good possibility. 

Nope, we were told, as the gal at the marina flipped through her page-and-a-half waiting list.

NAS JAX Mulberry Cove Marina mooring balls.

What about the mooring balls? We asked, as most of those were also empty. Nope, we were again told. Given the other marinas in the area are also full, that makes ending up in JAX as live-aboards while we ready for cruising a bit less likely.

Sailboat in the Green Cove Springs Marina workyard.

We pressed on to Green Cove Springs Marina, where we dry-docked and worked on our former sailboat. They're under new management, a definite improvement. Fresh paint in the office and the yard was much cleaner. Even the former smoking area outside the office was cleared out—no ashtrays or smoke in evidence.

A closer look at that sailboat getting spiffed up in Green Cove Springs. 

Alas, there were few boats for sale, no sailboats that were the size we were looking for.

Coat of arms outside a boat in the Green Cove Springs Marina workyard.

The yard hasn't lost its quirkiness, as evidenced by the plate armor standing outside one of the boats in the yard. Someone dug it out of the trash and a neighbor said maybe it would get used instead of a mermaid for the boat's figurehead.

Bertie Weaver at Dames Point Marina leaves her mark.

Meanwhile, we've just begun looking for our next cruising boat. 

So, Bertie, we're with you. We too hope our ship comes in before the dock rots. We believe it will (come in before the dock rots).

Location Location

How I know I''m back in my Sothern home: Spanish moss.
I love the way 
the light catches in moss before dipping below the flat horizon.

We are currently in Ft. Pierce, Florida, as of this eve. Tomorrow we get our  COVID tests and await the results before we get to socialize here in the commons areas—RV park rules.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Ramblin' Day 22: Florida! When in the South . . .


Souce from Greer's Market in Beaumont Mississippi. What is it? Read on . . .

Last night Wayne satisfied his hankering for breakfast steaks for dinner with a run out to Greer's, the local market in Beaumont, Mississipi, a 15-minute drive from our camp at Lake Perry.

"They had this weird stuff you'd be interested in," Wayne told me, but couldn't remember what the said item was called. Wayne knows I'm culinary-curious, and that I grew up with my Dad making delicious soups which included organ meats. I'm far more curious than squeamish than your average bear when it comes to putting parts down my hatch.

Before we took off, Wayne's wifi ceased working at our campground. He needed some extra time to participate in the "war room" of his game and a more cooperative wifi connection, so we agreed to mosey over to Greer's parking lot for better wifi for him, while I sleuthed out the weird food Wayne spotted for me. I figured out it was souse, a new item for me. However, I didn't want to pay $4.52 for a melange of pig snout, hearts, and other sundry hog bits with 20% fat. Besides, when I used my phone to Google recipes using souse, Google insisted I must've meant tomato sauce.

Later I found out it's also a form of head cheese, generally served like you would any other cold-cut—in sandwiches or crackers with cheese. Pass.

Yoohoo: Harlan Coben's favorite character Myron Bolitar's favorite drink.

While we're road-tripping, we're more thirsty than hungry, so I scouted Greer's drinks, too. I've read several Harlan Coben novels which frequently feature Youhoo, so when I saw how cheap it was, I bought a sixer. If you want to know more about Yoohoo, Harlan offers a link on his author's FAQ page. If tldr: it's really bad for you chocolate milk, loaded with corn syrup and 35 mg of sugar/serving. I usually keep my sugar doses to 14 mg or less.

Buc-ee's sign: even off I-10 in Southern Alabama, you can't miss it.

Gas Buddy prompted Wayne and me to reconnoiter at Buc-ee's in Southern Alabama for a fill-up, before crossing the border to Florida. Little did we know we were entering a hallowed Texas gas and convenience-store institution with followers as fervent as Disney. Instead of Mickey Mouse, Buc-ee's famed mascot is a beaver.

Buc-ee's Southern Alabama convenience store is 50,000 square feet!

Driving in was akin to entering a Costco parking lot, where cars weaving their way to one of 120 fuel pump stations feels a bit like an adult bumper car ride—alert, defensive driving required!

Fast food, packaged food, tchotchkes, libations: Buc-ee's has 'em, whether you need 'em or not.

"You've never been to a Buc-ee's?" gushed our pump station neighbor, incredulously. You've They're a Texas phenomenon. You gotta go inside; they've got the best jerky and even their restrooms are amazing!"

I told her I planned to use our RV's toilet because I know whose ass was last on our seat. I was masked; she wasn't.

The Buc-ee's truck, loaded with Buc-ee beavers in three sizes.

Mask wearing wasn't required by customers, but the most prominent Buc-ee beaver for sale in the store wore one, complete with a logo patch of his own image on it.

Pickled quail eggs, Buc-ee branded.

Inside, sound ricocheted off the tile floors while customers bustled about, eagerly buying whatever Buc-ee's was selling. I felt like I landed in Wall-e world.  I did cave and try their $5.99 pulled pork sandwich (okay) and some cold drinks for later.

I am no longer a Buc-ee's virgin. But next time, I'll get my gas and go.

This afternoon we crossed the Florida border. We're in a parking lot in Tallahassee. Tomorrow is old home week in Jacksonville Florida. We'll stay at the JAX Naval Air Station (NAS) until Friday when we head south to Fort  Pierce.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Rambin' Day 21: Mississippi Mudslide to Lake Perry


My low-clearance Prius once again demonstrates its lack of off-road prowess.

"Yahooo!" shouted one of our neighboring campers, rousing me from my slumber at 6 am. It was still dark. Their generator and the volume required to hear each other over it kept me from dropping back to sleep. Wayne, wearing earplugs, snoozed blissfully away for another two hours.

It poured overnight, making for muddy roads. Wayne sent me off in the Prius first. figuring he could play read guard rescue if needed. Despite the road being slicker than a greased pig, I only lost control for a few seconds, once in the five or so miles back to the paved road. Wayne said he was saying "Don't stop!" as following me, fighting to maintain control of "The Beast" too.

The official appearance of this sign on a formal building made me smile. Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Given how thirsty The Beast gets, we often use Gas Buddy to find the best price, that's not too out of our way. In Jackson, Mississippi, we bought gas at the cheapest price we've seen so far this trip: $1.63/gallon. 
Classic Hattiesburg architecture in its historic downtown area.

The last time when we drove cross-country from Portland to Florida in 2018, Hattiesburg architecture and vibrant spirit intrigued us. We made a point of stopping there again to stretch our legs in their historic downtown and enjoy the architecture.

National Bank of Commerce, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The Vernon F. Dahmer quote outside their courthouse, If you don't vote, you don't count t seemed especially apropos, with the Presidential election a little over a week away. Vernon F. Dahmer was a martyr; he stood up to the Klu Klux Clan in defense of black voting rights. He and his wife were murdered for it, but his family made sure their killers were prosecuted.

Close up on the Bank. Note the build date, 1895, and the plants taking residence.

Hattiesburg also posted more signs urging mask-wearing than anyplace else we've driven through this trip. Mask-wearing was still hit-or-miss.

More cool concrete building detail. Hattiesburg Mississippi.

If I chose to live in a small town in South, Hattiesburg appeals. Housing prices are more reasonable than most, with a 1600 sq. foot 3-bedroom for less than $150K—36% less than the national average.

Detail on Hattiesburg Mississippi Post Office facade: airmail delivery.
I remember the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle exhibit on airborne mail carriers—
a dangerous job, back in the day. 

On the other hand, Hattiesburg rated a "D" in crime and an "F" in schools according to Area Vibes. More homework required if we ever choose a place to settle down!

Welcome sign, Lake Perry, Mississippi.

We mulled whether to burn a few more miles and treat ourselves to a meal in Mobile Alabama for the eve. However, we'd camp in a Walmart or Costco parking lot if we did. 

One of several Lake Perry docks. Mississippi's Pine Belt.

Instead, we opted for fewer miles and a $15 camping fee for Lake Perry, outside Beaumont Mississippi. We opted to skip the power use, for $7 more.

Not hard to tell who's being welcomed to Lake Perry—fishermen!

After the Little Sunflower River Recreation Area's smelly mud pit, Lake Perry offered a pleasant place to rest our heads.

The swampy area off Perry Lake Nature Trail. Near Beaufort Mississippi.

We wandered the docks and walked the nature trail.

Different shape to lily pads on Perry Lake, Mississippi.

Instead of the dank stench of swamp mud, we inhaled Perry Lake's pleasant piney scent. It's considered part of Mississippi's Pine Belt.

Wayne wasn't going to feed the 'gators. Perry Lake, Mississippi.

"Nah, I don't see any 'gators," scoffed Wayne when he saw the warning sign. 
"Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they're not there," I countered.

Look closely! The dark streaks parallel to the gator look like another two swimming alongside.

Sure enough, later I pointed one out to Wayne. Initially, it looked like a log. "That is moving mighty fast for a log," Wayne observed. My zoom confirmed our suspicions—definitely, at least one 'gator swam by.

A good warm-up for when I return to Florida, where I kayaked with many a gator—and only once got scared. I still don't know if that was a 'gator or a manatee.

Tomorrow we'll end up somewhere in Florida; not sure where, yet.