November 12, 2014

No Rudder

Dragonstar sails away from the dock with new captain and crew
So much has happened in the past month since we last posted! On our return road trip from South Dakota to Florida we received a purchase offer on our boat, and never made it back to Florida. It was an offer that we accepted after weeks of negotiation.

We listed Dragonstar for sale a few months ago since our self-imposed two year hiatus is nearing its end and selling a boat can take a while. To be fair though, selling Dragonstar was never part of the plan when we abandoned the shore. There never really was a fully developed plan. From the onset of our sailing adventure, we reasoned that we might live on the boat forever and become island-hopping gypsies, or that we might return to land doing something...somewhere.

After much, much, much deliberation, we concluded that life on the water, while immensely fun and fulfilling, is not what we want to sustain in the years to come. (Side note, we don't know what we want to do in the years to come, but surely it will be awesome.) The decision to sell Dragonstar was not easy, and we over-thought it — just like we do every other big life decision. The decision ultimately came down to wanting to be closer to family and friends, and perhaps a bit of laziness. Or maybe it's just a lack of focus and us being interested in lots of random things that don't always pertain to boats. We came to realize that owning a boat is a lot like having a child. (Well, what other people tell us about having a child.) You focus on keeping it fueled, keeping it strong, kissing its boo boo's, and basically giving it all of your money and self with the hopes that it won't wreck catastrophically someday. (These are not our words; it's what others tell us!) While most parents that tell us these things about their children follow it up with "but it's worth it! heehee!" we didn't find ourselves thinking that about the boat. Don't get us wrong, we don't mean to come across as ungrateful and whiny. We are immensely grateful about the amazing days of sun and fun that we had aboard Dragonstar. We're grateful, too, for the lessons we learned. Cody has earned the title of an engine-lovin' grease monkey! Angela can reef a main on her own in serious wind! We crossed the Gulf Stream! We caught and prepared our own food! We sailed a freakin' boat through the Bahamas! We did it all without killing ourselves, Gemsi, or the dragon!!

We will forever look back on our time living aboard with fondness. We'll think of sunlight shimmering on the water, dolphins swimming next to the bow, and the thrill of feeling the wind pick up so that Dragonstar can stretch her wings and send us flying over cerulean blue waters.

Life on the boat was about adventure and learning new things — and fish, lots of yummy fish — and we know that we can still have an adventure and learn new things without our dragon. If you must know, we shed a few tears over saying goodbye to Dragonstar. However, we take comfort in knowing that she is already back on the water with her new owners. And of course, when we want to get out on the water and ride the wind, we hope to crew on other peoples' boats or charter in lieu. We are definitely not done sailing!

For the next few months we intend to remain in Amarillo, TX to spend the holidays with our families. It's something we haven't done since we left for university at age 18. The sale of our boat is a bittersweet change; it's a change that we embrace with positivity as we embark on the next voyage, whatever that may be. Come. What. May.

October 13, 2014

Road Trip Part 3: Carpathian Kitten Loss

While in South Dakota, we saw two monuments carved directly into the sides of mountains. Crazy Horse Memorial was the more intriguing and colossal of the two endeavors. "To protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of Native American Indians," the Crazy Horse Memorial, once finished, will be the largest mountain carving in the world. It is a daunting undertaking that will, at current resource levels, require another 60 years of work. Work began in 1948! The first 60 years were relatively slow going because the mountain scaling, dynamite blasting, and granite rock sculpting were primarily being done by a single man. We hope we live to see this memorial completed.

look closely to see a faint outline of where
the 219' high horse head will someday be sculpted
Terry and Sandi
in front of the 87.5' tall head!
1/34 scale model of the final design
to be blasted and carved into the mountain
Apparently no one really knows what the Lakota leader Crazy Horse looked like, and so the memorial is the sculptor's interpretation and a dedication to Crazy Horse's spirit. We couldn't help but notice a resemblance to the ancient portrait of a certain, much less revered, Carpathian...

Vigo, baby!

We made sure to keep Gemsi close and not let her out of our sight just in case Murray was right...
17 miles away, Mt. Rushmore stands with watchful eyes.

Mt. Rushmore is technically incomplete.
This is the original design intent.
Cody & Grandma
a look at the amazing task of carving a
mountain within the Mt. Rushmore exhibit

Our mind is still blown by the skill and perseverance of all sculptors and laborers associated with both memorials...skill and perseverance of a magnitude only eclipsed by the natural beauty of the surrounding hills, forest, mountains, and wildlife.

yep, that's a chipmunk!
stopping along a scenic nature trail at
The Outdoor West near the monuments in Rapid City, SD
love birds
hungry bird
view of the Black Hills from the car
a special thanks goes out to the many, many, many
bugs that dedicated their lives on our windshield during the trip

October 9, 2014

Road Trip Part 2: Bear Hug!

Have we ever explained where our bear photographing obsession comes from?

somewhere in Tennessee, 2013
Beijing, China 2005
Flagstaff, NM 2013
NYC farmers' market honey stand, 2009
(with beekeeper extraordinaire, Andrew C.)
We're pretty sure it began with adorable childhood nicknames. Cody grew up as Cody Bear and CoCo Bear, and Angela has and always will be her parents' Sugarbear. (Cody was also called Hollywood, Dougie, Douglas, and a long list of other names for which the origins are completely mysterious.)

We don't know why bears came into the picture for either of us, but we do know that when we stumble upon a massive grizzly statue of fur and strength — anywhere — we cannot resist the urge to pull out the camera and give it the proper reaction it deserves. For Angela, that reaction is admiration and hugs. For Cody, it's fear. Untempered raw fear.

actual Grizzly Bear paw in Rapid City, SD 2014
same somewhere-in-Tennessee bear
Nashville, TN 2013
Amarillo, TX 2013
Colorado, 2014
(as seen in our last post...who wouldn't love seeing this shot twice??)
Colorado Springs, CO 2014
The intrigue of nicknaming children after bears may stem from the ridiculous cuteness of bear cubs. Check out these adorable fur balls that we saw at Bear Country, USA while on the road with Grandma, Terry, and Sandi.

Bear Country, USA is a wildlife park in South Dakota. It is home to a couple of massive grizzly bears and over 100 black bears! You drive your vehicle along a winding road to get up-close views of creatures in a natural-ish environment. The animals we saw were truly amazing.

Rocky Mountain Elk
Bighorn Sheep and Dall Sheep
Mountain Lion
Black Bears

Grizzly Bear
Canadian Lynx
Timber Wolf Pup
Buffalo and Pronghorn

Of course, our favorite furry mammal is Gemsi. But after visiting so many adorable baby bears we were left to ponder: which is cuter?

Life presents so many complicated decisions!

October 6, 2014

Road Trip Part 1: Colorado

Part of the fun in going on a trip lies in breaking up a normal routine. No cooking! No cleaning! Calories defy normal-life mathematics! For us, a trip with hotel room stays also means the luxury of having quick access to bathrooms. While living on Dragonstar and docked at a marina, going to the restroom in the middle of the night is a challenge. We make our way above deck in the dark (Angela grabs a headlamp), do a big step off the boat to cross onto the dock, walk about 50' across damp grass, and then slowly open the door to the marina restrooms to make sure that no snake or other lively critter has beat us to it. A sleepy misstep could mean falling into a river.

So over the past two and a half weeks, we've been off the boat — land traveling — with luxurious restroom access. We drove to Amarillo, TX, enjoyed quick hugs from family, and then got back on the road for a 10-day vacation to Colorado and South Dakota with Cody's grandma Lucy, uncle Terry, and Terry's girlfriend Sandi.

Terry & Grandma Lucy
from left: Angela, Cody, Terry & Sandi
Of course, Gemsi also joined us on the trip. She is, after all, the best traveling kitty. EVER. She never argues about the radio station, thoroughly inspects every single hotel room, and can use a litter box on demand if we pull over on the side of the road for a mere couple of minutes! The only downside of traveling with Gemsi is that she's a terrible packer. Our little captain insists that we bring along cumbersome items like her litter box, carrier, blanket, scratch pad, rope (for playtime and knot practice), and a variety of food. We indulge her every command without hesitation.

Gemsi works her charm regularly
for grandma's entertainment
Our first destination of the road trip was Colorado Springs. Where else can you sit on Santa's lap in September?

The North Pole is in Colorado!

Santa and Grandma are pals

Colorado Springs is probably better known for its incredible nature and wildlife. We loved seeing both!

Garden of the Gods,
a National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs
puckering up in front of the "kissing camels"
rock formation in the background

at "balancing rock"
another incredible view of Garden of the Gods
headed for Pike's Peak and looking out the window
from a train car on the Cog Railway
this COG train is capable of scaling a 25-degree incline
whereas most normal trains can only do about 4 degrees
the 114,500' high view from Pike's Peak

Pike's Peak wasn't the only mountain with which we got up close and personal. Before Angela could say "hey, wait a minute mister..." Cody was swinging his hips and flashing his cheekiest grin during a rendition of 'Mr. Postman' with a couple of ladies on the melodrama stage at The Iron Springs Chateau. He also didn't seem to mind when, moments later, one of the performers embraced his head in front of her generous bosom during a particularly salacious singing of...well...we don't even remember what!

So much happened during our trip that you'll have to check back in for a separate post to hear more details. Teaser: we're going to show you ridiculously cute bear cubs! Awww!!