From USA 2013
Wow! It's been awhile since I've written anything here. We've been FLAT OUT just living! We've been back in New Zealand since the 30th and it's been great. Bob & Sue picked us up at the airport and whisked us home to our boat so we could crash in our own bed for a change. It was so wonderful not to have to stay in yet another hotel to catch the bus the following day! We did some pretty serious sleeping for the first few days in between unpacking the treasures we brought back from the good 'ol USA. This time it all arrived and we made a good effort to remember what our ghetto luggage looked like before we checked it. Since all of our bags are bought at thrift shoppes and on their last leg even before we stuff each of them with 50 pounds of boat junk, we always breathe a sigh of relief if we actually see them again. Then they all hit the dumpster once we get here- no room to keep them on the boat! It's a pathetic way of life. We are forever moving stuff from here to there. All of our flights were relatively painless and on time. The only regret was that we stupidly never thought of building in a gap between LA and the long haul to NZ. We'd checked in to a hotel in LA since we had a 10 hour layover but once we got settled, it occurred to Jon that we could've been staying there overnight at least or even for a couple of days..... uuhhhhh!!! Why didn't I think of that? Instead, we got to stay in the room for 6 whole hours. Next time I'll be smarter; I always tell myself that.
From USA 2013
Overall, we had a great time back in the US and feel like we got a lot accomplished. Everything felt like such a bargain. It seems like we were away long enough for nearly every person in the US to get a smartphone, a few to begin using e-cigarettes and for the supersize-me bubble to burst- I noticed a lot of smaller packages. Oh no! That's what it's like here and I hate it. We got some real quality time with both sets of parents, most of our siblings and a bunch of friends and our nephew Mason who taught me a thing or two about golf while he was visiting over Christmas. Of course we still didn't see everyone that we wanted to see but there is never enough time no matter what. Because we'd bought the car, we could finally check something off our list which was to drive up the east coast stopping to see friends along the way. We started it by heading to Crystal River, FL where we bought our current boat 14 years ago. It's also where the manatee sanctuary is and it's A-OK to swim with them. We stayed at the Port Marina Hotel again which isn't fancy but has the perfect location and the kayak rentals so you can get out there nose to nose with the manatees. It was so fun. Once we left there though, that was it for the warm weather and it got progressively colder & darker as we moved north. But, we saw heaps of friends and family too which warmed our hearts. From getting a look at the inland Carolinas over New Years, a brief, cold hike in Shenandoah Nat'l Park, some karaoke in Leesburg, a little bit of the Smithsonian in DC, a tour of the CG station in Wood's Hole, a snowball fight in Purgatory Chasm with a hangover in Rhode Island and a super healthy recovery shake the next day in Massachusetts, we made a boatload of good memories to carry us over till next time. We got back to Vermont in time for many below zero mornings and some more fresh snowfall. It was good enough for some XC skiing & snowshoeing as well as several good runs. On one of my last runs, I was bitten in the butt by a dog which I could've done without since I had to sit on that spot for many hours on the plane. As I think about it, Thetford has more than its share of unfriendly dogs. But other than that and one black toenail from all the hills, we both stayed pretty healthy. And without question, we ate like kings throughout! Thanks to everyone who opened up their spare bedrooms for us to make this happen.
From USA 2013
We've been busy installing some of the gear we toted back here including a new AIS transponder/receiver so that not only can we see what other ship traffic is around us when we're underway like previously, but we will now be putting out a signal too which seems like a good thing. As we move toward Asia this season or next, ship traffic increases and we would like to be seen better. Jon also installed a new lamp so our main cabin looks quite sophisticated. We also have more frivolous things like a stockpile of Tabasco, 10 bags of Trader Joe's chocolate chips, baking chocolate, Good Seasons, Shake N Bake, Gatorade, Crisco, saffron, a new coffeemaker, bedspread, cookbook, frypan - really important stuff! Jon's dad gave us one of his best fish carvings as well- a permit, beautifully painted by his mom. This, we hand carried and it now has a home on the shelf in the main cabin near the fancy light. And, we got a bigger computer screen to assist with our ailing vision.
When we got back to Whangarei, the area was in a lock-down mode for the movement of produce because a single male Australian fruit fly had been found nearby & this fly is a serious threat to farming. There were signs everywhere, large, sealed trash bins and instructions to put all peelings in these bins, not to move produce out of the "zone" right around the marina and to report any sightings of this fruit fly to authorities. Staff were walking the docks handing out instructions, they were at each grocery store produce department doing the same and they were collecting the bins for laboratory screening to try to prevent further spread. Yesterday, they came & got everything, the ban has been lifted and I assume the outbreak has been controlled. Phew! There's no question that NZ takes their farming industry seriously.
From USA 2013
It's been really good to catch up with cruising friends and it makes for some balance with all the boat projects going on. When we got back to Town Basin, we realized that the boat named Ganesh in the adjacent slip belonged to a popular cruising author- Capt Fatty Goodlander. He & his wife have circumnavigated numerous times and we've read many an article in Cruising World & Sail describing his adventures. So several of us got together on the boat Gypsea Heart and shared an evening with Fatty listening to real life stories. That was our brush with someone famous. It was a fun evening. I'm looking forward to meeting his wife Carolyn when she gets back from visiting her grandchildren.
Presently, we have the whole toerail stripped clean and mostly sanded and we are in the final stages of making a decision on a new galley counter top. Since the icebox really needs re-insulating, the counter top will need to be replaced too and it's just as well since we'd like to freshen it up. We love paua shells and found out that they make paua shell detailing tiles so hopefully, they will become a part of a new backsplash in the galley. Now it's just deciding between formica again or solid surface and that depends on cost & availability. Either way, we have no real desire to actually DO the project and put up with the inconvenience, but it would be good to save the amps during the time we spend in the tropics since the fridge just runs & runs.
So I guess those are the highlights of our lives right now. It's definitely hard to not be touring around NZ in the van like we did last year but it has been nice to actually slow down and just be here in a place we love & we can't justify buying yet another car. The boat needs our attention too. Plus, since we're on foot, this slower pace gives us time to actually make some money when we go somewhere. Jon walked all the way to Bunnings (like Home Depot) the other day and he found $5.80 in change along the way! When he handed me this pile of coins like a proud little boy I just cracked up. We haven't spent it yet.
We do plan to do some touring in the coming weeks along with some backpacking. Going back to Mt Doom for the Tongariro Circuit hike is high on our list along with the long beach at Cape Reinga. Hopefully there will be time. For now though, using a term we learned from our friend Bruce, we are just humans being.