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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Our Cat-Dog Keeps Us Laughing

Shiva, in front of some incriminating evidence.

Before I went for a walk, there were four saltines in cellophane-wrapped packages, leftovers from a meal out that I felt would be better served atop our homemade clam chowder. When I got back, there were three cellophane-wrapped saltine packages . . . one empty cellophane package on the carpet and a few telltale crumbs.

Better than mousey, I suppose.

We're still looking for a place to call home, and Shiva still keeps us laughing in the meantime. She's a cat-dog: she'll snarf any foodstuff dropped on the floor before you can blink (though a dog would eat that saltine packet in one gulp, cellophane and all), enjoys a good game of fetch (though you may need to do the fetching), loves to follow us around, play guard-kitty, and snuggle up next to us. We're lucky our kitty is happy to call home wherever we are with her.

For us, being untethered is wearing. We're ready for a real address, not one that's borrowed or temporary. We're ready to become part of our community . . . wherever that is. It's hard to be patient when we don't know how much longer we'll need to be, but considering that's our worst problem—we're doing well.

While we sort it out, there are some gorgeous spots to hike nearby—even in January. Just bring your crampons or microspikes. Mine are still buried in my camping gear; fortunately, my friend Kathi loaned me hers on our hike yesterday, while she relied on her hiking poles for stability. (I've got a pair of hiking poles stowed away, too).



Monday, January 17, 2022

Limbo-ing Along: Making the Most of Winter in the PNW

 

One-minute road-trip video, a bit grainy from my phone cam.

We're still limbo-ing along in transitionville. Despite spending summer in Florida at a time when most sane folks flee and arriving back in the Pacific Northwest in the wintertime when we last fled it, we are finding ways to make it work.

On a rare, dry weekday in January. we cruised along the Historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, where we could immerse ourselves in the dense, earthy woods of the Pacific Northwest and gawk at waterfalls (and caught a few of them on video). No matter how many times I see them, even the same ones, I never get tired of them. (Scroll down to see what Latourell Falls looked like in fall 2019). Even in January, the most minuscule parking lots along this highway fill up quickly on weekends.

With temps a few degrees above freezing overnight, then "warming up" about another ten degrees Fahrenheit during the day, this is comfort food weather; the perfect time for creamed mushrooms on toast* I sub the creme fraiche for the half-and-half and sometimes instead use an herb-encrusted bit of soft chevre (goat cheese).  Like avocado toast (another fave), I sometimes top mine with a fried egg, over easy.

*If you can't access the NYT recipe and want it, let me know.

Image pilfered from the New York Times.

I picture my dad smiling over my shoulder whenever I make creamed mushrooms on toast; it's something I grew up with, one of Dad's many casually delicious meals I took for granted. I remember being shocked Wayne didn't even know what creamed mushrooms on toast were! That's since been rectified and it's now on his list of favorites, too. 

A vat of spicy posole filled the slot left vacant by the hearty stew Wayne made and we polished off. For those of you unfamiliar with posole (or pozole), it's a Mexican soup with hominy (dried corn kernels soaked in a mineral lime bath to soften them, which sounds terrible but is pretty yummy in posole). 

Posole, a favorite comfort food to cut the chill.

While I love posole the most in chilly weather, I justify eating it in warmer climes because spicy foods work up a sweat that then cools as it dries. If you doubt it, I challenge you to a bowl of tortilla chips and salsa on a broiling hot day and your favorite cooling libation. Hmmm, maybe it's really the libation? 

Posted previously, here's "my" posole recipe. I make sure to bring the ingredients when I provision up for cruising as Mexican food is the "American" food I miss the most when I travel. It's pretty easy to make, but be sure to account for an hour and a half of cook time. 
Shiva, in one of her mellower moments.

Even Shiva is getting into eating-sleeping hibernation mode. But by March, we will notice how many more minutes of daylight we can enjoy between sunrise and sunset as we leave the winter solstice behind.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Bye-Bye 2021. Not Everything Sucked.

Ape's Cave, in the Gifford Pinchot forest near Cougar, in the Mount St. Helens, Washington area.
Photo was taken 2001.

2021 and 2020

Two years where it's easy to focus on everything that went wrong. Instead . . .

What were your 2021 highlights?

Despite a year where little went to plan, and we gave some final goodbyes to dear friends, here are 

Two dozen 2021 events we're grateful for

  1. We bought an excellent sailboat from friends and left for the Bahamas on it mere days later.
  2. I sold my car to someone who loved it
  3. We turned our RV over to the insurance company of the driver who hit it for significantly more than we paid for it (or expected we'd be able to sell it for)
  4. We buddy-boated the Bahamas with our Seattle cruising friends Chris(topher) and Chris(tine) of Scintilla who we met back in Vanuatu in 2016. (Still lots of post-worthy stuff from that)
  5. We got COVID vaccinations the first day we touched land upon returning to the US (and finalized my shingles vaccination before leaving)
  6. Acquaintances sold us a car when we couldn't find a suitable one due to the great COVID car shortage
  7. When we decided a big sailboat is not for us after all, we sold our boat for more than we paid for it (and our friends we bought the boat from were happy that they were two-boat owners for mere days)
  8. We house-sat for a friend and fell in love with her kitty, Shiva
  9. I got to experience a bioluminescent kayak tour as well as some other excellent paddles
  10. We took a beautiful east coast fall foliage tour, though the highlights were staying with friends Steve in Asheville NC, Kate in Niagara Falls, Ann in Oswego NY, and Earl and Angela in Knoxville TN, and discovering how pretty my dad's boyhood home, upstate New York is (Still lots of post-worthy stuff from that, too)
  11. We forged strong new friendships, especially with TA, Judy and John
  12. A stranger loaned us his RV to live in
  13. We adopted Shiva
  14. We got COVID boosters almost as soon as they came out
  15. We are now covered by Tricare, thanks to Wayne's years of service
  16. A friend sold us his beloved RoadTrek mini campervan when that was exactly what we needed at that time
  17. We got to visit my brother and sister-in-law and nephew in Colorado (and plan to again soon)
  18. Another friend is loaning us his RV as our transitional home while we seek out something longer term
  19. We got to enjoy Christmas dinner with Wayne's dad and his wife with the promise of more celebrations with other friends in the near future
  20. We are spending time back on our former trawler, courtesy of its current owners, Margaret and Dash
  21. Tee (and Harold) our Collins Beach buddies surprised us with a sweet gift package
  22. Our financial planner explained how and why we should return to becoming homeowners; we expect that to happen in 2022
  23. I got some fun writing gigs (especially love working with Jocelyn)
  24. We are healthy and have each other (and Shiva now too!)
Shiva, finally zonked after a really good play session.


There's more, but two dozen seems like a good point to stop!

Photo by Mark Arron Smith from Pexels

I wish I could say with assurance that 2022 will be a better year than 2021, but I know better. Nonetheless . . .

We'll be looking forward to

Some parts of 2022 will be better. We are reasonably sure by this time next year we'll be well-ensconced in the local community of wherever who choose to call our home base. We haven't owned our own place, terra firma, since 2008.

We will once again enjoy the luxuries many take for granted: unlimited hot running water, regular flush toilets without counting the one-ply tissues we use per flush, ample electricity, our own land transportation, good wifi and laundry as simple as walking up to a washer-dryer in our own place and using it,

In our house hunting, a realtor noted that she would understand if we did not want to endure the hassle of a washer and dryer in the basement. 

We laughed.

"Here's how laundry worked for us," Wayne explained. "We'd load our laundry bag into our dinghy, then take that dinghy to shore. Then we'd walk a mile or so with our laundry, drop it off, and cross our fingers. Later that day, we'd return to pay a princely sum for bleached-out colored laundry, and if we were lucky, everything we dropped off would be returned to us." Then we'd hump the laundry back to the dinghy, hope it didn't get a saltwater bath on the way back, because saltwater doesn't dry, then load it back up into our boat.

That's when it was easy.

The rest of the time, we'd set up bins and handwash everything using a set of plastic bins. sometimes we washed and rinsed our clothes with our hands, sometimes with our feet. Often we'd use ammonia, which was hard on our clothes, but required minimal rinsing and cleaned them well. Then we'd line dry our sheets, towels, shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, and underwear on our safety lines, making sure the clothespins holding them were secure enough to keep them from flying overboard.

Doing laundry aboard s/v Journey.

Okay, we were comparatively on easy street on our last boat, because there was a small washing machine. We had to drag it out of our forepeak, past the narrow aisle in our settee, then up the stairs into our cockpit to use it where we attached it to a long extension cord. Thanks to ample wind and solar power, we had enough juice to run it. We still had to line dry all our laundry and drag the washer back down into its cubbyhole until the next time.

Even now, while we're in transition, doing laundry means getting into our car, picking the right traffic window, hopefully not in a rainstorm, and heading out to a laundromat and feeding lots and lots of quarters into the machines.

Still, these are all first-world problems, and when these are our biggest complaints, we count ourselves as fortunate.

We expect to be more connected with friends and family than in years past, though our cruising friends will always be family, too.

I will try to remember this Charlie Chaplin quote: You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down.

This rainbow photo was taken near one of my favorite new US National parks, Capitol Reef, Utah.

As for tonight, we filled our bellies with a particularly tasty batch of Hoppin' John, now our annual New Year's Eve good luck dinner. If you've never heard of it, here's a wiki about it and a recipe to get you started.


Overall, no matter what comes our way or yours. we wish you the best New Year possible.

Monday, December 27, 2021

What is That Stuff?!?

Shiva gazes out the aft window of our former trawler m/v Serendipity.
While we're looking for a place to call our home base, temporarily, we're back aboard m/v Serendipity, our former trawler. We sold Serendipity to Seattilites Margaret and Dash, who still have her berthed in the same Portland, Oregon slip on Hayden Island. They generously allowed us to encamp here temporarily. Wayne is doing a bit of maintenance on her while we're here.

Meanwhile, our kit-cat Shiva is not sure what to make of this cold, flying white stuff; given she's a Florida native.

Our purpose in life right now is to wear out our kitty. Here's what success looks like.

Shiva is adapting just fine.

What's it like now in your neck of the woods? Is it blanked in the snow? Bathed in the sunshine? Or?

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas from Transitionville

Yes, this Christmas is a little weird—at least for us. Photo credit: pexels-alexandr-podvalny-3219762.jpeg

For us, this Christmas is one more strange day in a strange year. We suspect we are not alone in this perspective.

However, we are looking forward to spending Christmas with family in the Portland area and much of the rest of the holiday season with friends as long as "snowmageddon*" allows it.

*Any snow in Portland, Oregon generally brings most normally scheduled activities to a standstill.

Other than that, we're still in transition, on the hunt for a home base after many years without one. When there's more news on that front, I'll post about it.

As for you—

May all your very best holiday wishes come true!

Please drop us a line and let us know what you're up to this holiday season.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

What the Heck's a Paw Paw? Fall Foliage Tour, Continued

 

In the Caribbean, the locals called papayas "paw paws"—like this crazy big one
Wayne ate in St. Lucia, where we first started cruising the tropics together.

In the US, when I heard there was a fruit called a paw paw in West Virginia, and a town there called Paw Paw, I figured they were not the same as the Caribbean version. Indeed, they are not.

Pawpaws are oblong green fruits, according to a Healthline article extolling the nutritional benefits of the U.S. pawpaw. They are prized for their flavor, which is described as a tropical blend of mango, banana, berries, and pineapple. However, it’s important to note that there are several types of wild pawpaw, some of which don’t have a pleasant taste.

I hunted fruitlessly for one a grocery store in Paw Paw. Alas, the few businesses there, mostly gas stations, which didn't look like likely prospects to sell a rare fruit. I gave up.

C&O Canal Paw Paw Tunnel entrance. The trail is popular with cyclists, too.

We stopped to check out the Paw Paw tunnel at the now-defunct, but once vital Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) canal. The tunnel earned its name from the many wild paw paw trees growing along that stretch of river. Designed to bypass a tough stretch of the Potomac River, the tunnel runs about two-thirds of a mile (3,115 feet) and was considered an engineering marvel. It took over six million bricks to build the tunnel, which was completed in 1850.

There are no lights in the tunnel. Nonetheless, I stumbled my way through it without a flashlight, sure I would be rewarded by a vista on the other side.

C&O Canal Paw Paw Tunnel entrance.
Wayne, near the tunnel entrance, when it was still possible to see without a flashlight.
Wayne, wisely, gave up after a while. While he waited for me, he encountered a park ranger chatting with some other visitors. Wayne joined the conversation.

C&O Canal Paw Paw Tunnel entrance from inside, looking back.
Lo and behold, the ranger held a paw paw, which he sliced up for Wayne and the other folks to try. By the time I returned from my trip through the tunnel, the ranger and his paw paw were gone.

US Paw Paw Image pilfered from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/15/550985844/this-once-obscure-fruit-is-on-its-way-to-becoming-pawpaw-pawpular
I asked Wayne what the paw paw tasted like. "Meh," he said—okay he didn't but that's what he said summed up to. The paw paw Wayne tried must not have been one of the tasty cultivars. 

Backside of the C&O Paw Paw Tunnel. I snuck past the construction tape to take this photo.
As for the tunnel, there was no vista on the other side. In fact, what was there was closed off for construction. I slipped past it for a bit, but it didn't appear to go anywhere interesting, so I gave up and turned around.

Someday I may try one of the US paw paws—if I can find a cultivated one. 

Location Location
This post is written about our east coast fall foliage tour when we were weaving between Maryland and West Virginia, which took place in October. We are currently on another road trip, whose purpose, path, and destination I prefer to keep shrouded in mystery for now.

 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Unexpected: Fall Colors in Late November

Morning lakeside view, near our November 29th campsite.
We took a fall foliage tour in late September, headed East from Florida, returning to Florida in late October. Still catching up on those posts.

We didn't plan on the trip we're taking now, but seeing this fall foliage so late in the year provided an unexpected delight.

Location Location
Still a mystery, for now.