Category Archives: travel

Leaving Lusa

We love this dog, Lusa!

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Once I realized, seven years ago, that Joey and I were settled in Bellingham and Joey was going to be working on tugs headed for Alaska, I decided I needed a dog.  I’ve always loved animals but hadn’t found the ability to commit to one.  I guess home ownership somehow equates into pet ownership, so there I was looking for a dog.  As soon as the decision was made, I knew exactly where to start my search.  As part of my job with the Bellingham Cooperative School, I would pick up kids at Happy Valley Elementary to bring them to the aftercare program I facilitated at BCS.  Every day I watched, with admiration, a Mom walking to pick up her son with her dog faithfully following behind with no leash or necessary comments keeping him in line.  They were a unit, Allison and Cedar.  Cedar was the joy of many children getting out of school, and he gratefully rolled over to get lots of belly rubs.  Somehow I knew that Allison would find my dog for me.  And she did.  She was the only person I talked to about looking for a dog, and a few weeks later she told me about Lusa.  Her friend, Cary Lane, had a habit of rescuing dogs from sad conditions.  She had a whole pack at that moment and needed to find homes for them.  Lusa was one year old and had lived with a family that tied their dogs up and then chose to ignore them.  As soon as I saw Lusa, I knew that she was the dog for me. She had the spark in her eyes, the knowing.  Life with her has been rich.  We have had incredible adventures together and she has always provided us with stories to tell around campfires.

We had hoped she would be a boat dog.  It proved difficult enough just to get her used to the car.  Boats are entirely too stressful for her.  We will miss her while we sail, but we find solace in knowing that Grandma is eager to share lots of love with her.  This Valentine’s Day has been full of Lusa snuggles and love.  Tomorrow we promise her one last long walk before we say Goodbye for now.  We are going to miss her!

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Home in the Carolinas

We are done with long drives.  Hallelujah!  Not that it was all bad, but it is time for it to be over.  Our car is too full to stay organized.  Every time I go searching for a needed item, my leg room somehow grows smaller and the piles of stuff become less stable.  Also, I will have to partake in some kind of extended detox diet to counteract the consumption of road food that I found myself option-less against.  Usually I pack enough food for a year, even when I’m only going for a weekend.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t space in the car for such a luxury on this expedition, and I found that non-GMO, organic, free range food is not really available along the I-10 corridor.  Luckily there were always hawks, lots of hawks that gave me hope that all is not lost in the world outside of the little utopia of Bellingham, WA.

The best part of the road trip was hanging out with Juniper and Pearl with no interruptions and no other agenda.  Joey and I are blessed with the two most awesome travelers that any wanderlust couple could ever hope for.  We shared stories, sang songs, sewed flower fairies and hearts, made cards, listened to good music, read books, drew pictures, ate lots of rice cakes with almond butter and jam, dressed and undressed dolls, watched the world go by, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

The other good part has been cousins and aunts and uncles.  It has been heart warming to see the girls reconnect with our family.  There has been much laughter and lots of fun.

We will soon be to Grandma’s.  Joey will take his leave to prepare the boat for a toddler and her older sister.  I will do our taxes.  The girls will do lots of puzzles.  Lusa will take lots of walks and get lots of snuggles.  I’m starting to get a little teary at the thought of leaving Lusa behind.  But I know that she detests boats, and Grandma is thrilled to have her company.  Every journey has its share of sacrifice along with its rewards.

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Snowy Owl Magic

The Snowy Owls have come to the outskirts of Bellingham this winter.   They have traveled far from their arctic tundra home in search of food.  As I clean out my cupboards and feel disgruntled about the amount of waste and excess I find there, I reflect on the goals of my family’s journey.

Journeys provide lessons and magic.   The journey of the snowy owls brings us a glimpse of wildness and courage.  These owls have come to our rooftops from a place so remote that few people ever venture there.  By traveling into new landscapes and facing unknown dangers, they exercise bravery and adaptability in their necessary quest to survive.  Our house is nearly packed and we plan to leave this week.  We are not seeking food for our bodies, there is much more than we need here.  We must then be seeking food for our souls.  To find a patch of wildness, to experience the richness of personal discovery together, and to share our society’s wealth with others also takes great courage.  In these moments of preparation, I have found that courage in snowy owl magic.

I hope that on our journey we will lighten our load of consumption and reduce our environmental footprint.  I also hope that we can share the abundance of our privileged American life.  I want to give special thanks to Crystine and Brian from Uprising Organics (www.uprisingorganics.com) for donating A LOT of organic, heirloom seeds to share with people in the Bahamas.  I also want to thank Rowan for visiting the owls with us on a blustery, snowy afternoon and for helping me to contemplate the enriching process of creating art with children.

Rowan's Snowy Owl

Pearl's Snowy Owl

And we have a Bristol…almost

It looks as though we have a boat, although nothing feels absolute until the paperwork is in hand.  We negotiated a realistic price for us dependent on an engine survey, which luckily checked out just fine.  The check goes in the mail tomorrow.  The name will have to be changed. Lazy Faire just won’t do. 

We also have a great family renting our house, a huge relief.  We push-off from Bellingham at the end of January.  Currently, our path will take us through Colorado, down to San Antonio, and then to the Carolinas.  We never have been good at traveling in a straight line.  Hopefully, we will set sail out of Charleston harbor come early March.  Fingers crossed for fair winds.

Love and Laughter

From one journey to the next, there is always beauty and learning.  Right as our lives had become unexpectedly absorbed with boat logistics, we set out for Breitenbush, a retreat to hot springs and mindfulness for body, mind, and soul.   At a moment when we most needed to unite as a family, we had luckily organized a visit to a place where it is impossible to feel anything but love for one another.  It was everything we needed- rest, time to simply BE together, nourishing meals prepared for us, warmth in fresh air, and a practice run for our upcoming road trip across America.


And then it was back to the frantic pace of the modern American Christmas.  “How can this be?” I wondered.  I try to keep it simple.  Yet, somehow, I also want everything to be just right.

Grandma arrived the day after we returned, Winter Solstice.  I spent the morning making everything ready for an evening celebration to pay tribute to the longest night of the year.  We brought in our four year old live Christmas tree, small and majestic.  We decorated her and enjoyed the best of holiday carols.

The next morning we took Joey to the train and settled into our new rhythm.  As I hurried to play Santa and finish my gifts,  the last of the packages arrived, and the girls eagerly found the anticipated candy tucked into the tissue paper by Uncle Ron.

Finally, at 1am on Christmas Eve, I threw in the towel and accepted that  I would not completely finish the art totes for the girls.  I had to find solace in simply enjoying their covers, the Crow and the Owl.

Once Christmas morning came, my whole body could finally relax and go with the flow.  It was incredibly fulfilling to see that my girls found their greatest joy in marbles, books, and modeling wax.  And then they spent the rest of the day wrapping and sharing presents with each other.  Their whole beings were immersed in the pleasure of giving with love.  Our hearts were overflowing.

And at the end of the day, we were most thankful for cooking together, sharing meals in mindfulness, being silly with laughter, and walking in the great outdoors with Grandma (and April, Jeff, Greysen, and Olive).

And now we prepare for the new beginning.

We are hoping that love and laughter are blessing all of your days!

Where One Door Closes….

Things seem to always have a way of happening differently than expected. I arrived in Beaufort, SC, fresh with three hours of airplane sleep (on a twelve hour trip, door to door) and an hour and half drive. The broker took me to the boat, a 27′ Albin Vega named “Isis”. Walking up to her, I was not immediately excited. Down below, I was even less excited. Her cabins were in disarray. Nothing was stowed properly, just stored in big plastic bags. There was mildew on the bulkheads and aluminum foil was used for part of the heat shield by the heater. I couldn’t figure out where we could possibly stow all of our stuff. It was small. On a brighter note, the sails were crisp, the engine started right up and sounded great, the anchors were in good order, the running gear was fine, and the electronics were more than sufficient. I tried to think rationally, keeping in mind our limited budget and the reality that less money in a boat means more money for cruising. I could clean and organize the boat. The major systems were in place and functioning. The only problems, aside from lack of space, were cosmetic. So, I gave the guy an offer, and then felt like I needed to vomit.

“You just got a boat. You should be happy.” the guy said. “Congratulations!” said the people in the boatyard. I did not feel happy. I did not feel congratulatory. In fact, the only solace I found was knowing that I could recoup my deposit anytime during the two week acceptance period. I did need to consider, however, that the surveyor would be there at 9am the next morning. I was not interested in paying for a survey on a boat that I did not want. It was 1pm. I needed to make a decision within the next four hours. I felt rushed. So, I went for a run through the Spanish moss lined streets of downtown Beaufort. Running somehow makes everything better and clear.

Joey had mentioned a 32′ Bristol in Charleston that was in our price range. Off to Charleston I drove. I walked into Peter Dodd’s office at 4pm. He reminded me that I should be happy about buying a boat. If I was not happy, then I shouldn’t be buying it. And of course, he had the Bristol for me to see. The owner was desperate to sell, he informed me. It was a deal waiting to happen. The boat was a bit of a drive away and I would have to wait until the next morning to see it. After a few phone calls, my next morning was rearranged. Tommy Eve, who I am convinced is the best surveyor EVER, was super flexible. He said that he would be on call to survey whichever boat I chose. He also reminded me to like a boat before choosing to purchase it.  At that point, I sort of knew that regardless of my opinion of the Bristol, I didn’t really want the Albin Vega.

Wednesday morning I followed Peter Dodd to a marina by the old naval base on the Cooper River.  Bristols are known for being pretty and this old one still had her charm. I had to check in with myself and question my priorities- function or fashion. Why couldn’t I have function and fashion? Honestly, I want to like looking at my surroundings. The owner had gotten it ready for cruising, I was told. Upon inspection, it appeared he had gotten it comfortable and nice for living.  However, he had not prepared it for functioning as a sailboat. It needed sails and new running rigging. Where the Albin Vega needed mostly cosmetics, the Bristol needed most of its major systems reworked. What the Bristol did have though, that the Albin Vega could never have, was space. Five feet are a huge difference on a boat and I could see my family actually being comfortable on the Bristol. And the owner really needed to sell. Was this the deal we were looking for? I still felt a bit rushed. In a perfect scenario, I would live closer and not need to schedule a survey on the same day. Oh well, this was not my scenario. I had this one day, so the survey was on.

Mr. Eve met us down the Cooper River at the boatyard. He was immediately encouraging and kind. He took his time and talked me through everything. His main concern was ensuring that the boat would be safe for the kids. Having raised two girls himself, he knew what to consider and what advice to give. I felt as though we struck gold with Mr. Eve. And I could listen to his soothing Savannah accent all day. After the haul out inspection, we sailed back to the marina. The Bristol sailed nicely in the lovely 10 knot breeze. Porpoises came up for air all around us and pelicans flew overhead. Back at the dock, Mr. Eve and I worked for the rest of daylight discovering all the best and worst of this boat. Structurally she is sound, many systems need to be reworked, but she has the foundation of what we need.

I am back in Bellingham in the midst of negotiations. The owner has come down a lot on the price, but not quite as far as we need him to. We are waiting to get the written survey in hand before making any final decisions. I am reminding myself that the right thing will work out. It always does.

Sacrifices

Last May we were visiting my brother and his family in Georgia.  My sister-in-law asked us to talk with my nieces and nephew about our upcoming sailing trip.  Specifically, she wanted us to talk about the sacrifices we had to make to fulfill this dream.  At the time, I struggled to come up with something.  Sure, I saved all of my earnings from Little Birdies Childcare for five years, and there must have been things we could have purchased with that money.  In all honesty though, this never felt like a sacrifice.  I’m not really much of a shopper, and buying most things in this modern consumer society usually has a price tag of guilt associated with it for me.  So what have I sacrificed?

This past fall, I had a bitter voice in my head reminding me that I had not gone for my annual solo hike on Baker.  It was a beautiful autumn season here in Bellingham.  Every time I saw Mount Baker rise up in a blue sky, I just knew I was missing out.  I tried reasoning with myself.  It was not as if we spent the whole summer working.  Well, at least the girls and I did not spend the whole summer working.  Joey pretty much did.  My part in that was taking the girls, so that he could get the work done.  The girls and I had fun entertaining our many visitors, and we swam and rode bikes a lot.  I also had some great moments to myself- runs on Galbraith, swimming at the park, and dancing in the late night.  Somehow though, I was still longing for a whole day of wilderness and solitude.  Luckily, snow came early this year and we got some family time up on Baker.  It wasn’t solitude, but being in such snowy mountain beauty eased my soul. I was finally able to let go of my regret, kind of.

Tomorrow I head out for a solo journey to check out this boat.  I’m excited to travel by myself, to see good friends, and mostly for the potential of it all.  It will be quick and exhausting, but I am okay with that.  My only problem now is figuring out when to go skiing again.  After all, I’m thinking I’m not really one to make too many sacrifices.

Pearl and June, December 2010