August 26, 2014

Country Livin'

Around here, we get very excited about birthdays. And by "we," we mostly mean Angela cause Cody can be totally lame sometimes.

Angela & Heather's birthdays in 2007!
Oh, and if you haven't guessed already, it's Angela writing to you today so I'll drop the 'we' for this post...

When Cody and I realized that Mamaw (my grandmother on my dad's side) was going to be surprised with a birthday celebration, we jumped at the chance to join in the fun. Mamaw was turning 85!!

Sadly though, plans were made at the last minute and we weren't prepared to leave the boat on its own. So, Cody dropped me off at the airport for a second time this summer to go adventuring solo while he impersonated Al Bundy back at the boat.

So I set off for a tiny Texas town called Mt. Pleasant where Mamaw lives. The town was true to its name with a comforting abundance of "please" and "thank you" — and enough "ma'am" to make me question my own birthday count.

My favorite thing about visiting Mamaw is enjoying her wily and playful side. She has never been one to sugarcoat opinions or hesitate in telling you exactly what she thinks. "What is that thing you've got in your nose? I don't like it." "What have you done to your hair? I don't like it that way." Why would you live in New York City? You should move back to Texas." Then there was the time when I was an impressionable tween wearing a baseball cap during a garage sale held in her backyard, and she thought I was "another one of the boys running around!" However, just when you begin to wonder if you've taken all of the wrong turns in the path of success that Mamaw has imagined for you, she'll shower you with praise. You know where you stand with Mamaw. Her honesty can be both refreshing and disorienting. So I was excited to see on this past trip to Mt. Pleasant that Mamaw was eager to deal with my family's general absurdity and silliness with her usual feisty comebacks and brutal honesty.

from left: uncle Mike, aunt Brenda, step-mom Daisey, Mamaw,
dad Joel, sister-in-law Kim, and brother Jason

A bonus of the trip was getting to see my Dad and his wife Daisey's new digs nearby. They live on a beautiful property with Daisey's family. It is a place where people wear cowboy boots, drive tractors, and hunt fox. A place with gorgeous green hills a rollin' and roads a windin'. This is the country!

Dad and Daisey gave me a tour of their surrounding towns of Pittsburg, Mt. Pleasant, and Gilmer. I can't decide whether the best part was the banana and chocolate ice cream from Efurd's, the fried catfish dinner by the lake from Vaughan's with Jason and Kim (which was technically the night prior), or the look on my Dad's face after Daisey and I drenched splashed him with water from a fountain.

Dad and his water-fountain-soaked jeans

Daisey is an excellent driving tour guide, and Dad
always has something entertaining to say and laugh about.
stopping for a tasty chicken fried steak & burger lunch
ice cream in hand = the good life
Dad is being a fuddy duddy while Daisey
and I "break the rules"

I received much hospitality on the trip, and so owe a huge round of THANK YOU to Jason and Kim, Daisey's mom Shirley, Dad and Daisey, and Mike and Brenda. Can't wait to see y'all again soon!

August 15, 2014

Sea Change

Our fins have been showing for a year and half! Can you believe that? We've been unemployed and roaming the planet for fun and adventure for 18 months. With 6 months left in our self-imposed 2-year hiatus, we've begun to wonder...what happens next? That question came up a lot when we quit our jobs and left NYC, but we deliberately put off answering it until we'd actually experienced the hiatus. The point was to have time set aside for reflection and open ourselves up to new possibilities.

Now we find ourselves living on a boat, and we have sailed the boat to beautiful and remote places. We are continuously learning, experiencing new things, and having boatloads of fun in the process.


There's always a "but."

sometimes there's even a butt in a box
But...we've decided that after our 2 years is up we want to move back to a land-based lifestyle. We want to breed or adopt a baby and be closer to family and friends. It would certainly be possible to raise an infant on the boat, but this dragon requires water and there ain't no water big enough for Dragonstar that is also within a reasonable drive's distance to our family in Texas. There are also little things about landlubber life that will make raising a baby easier. An ideal scenario will be for us to live on land and then charter boats for trips around the world in the future (with friends and family? *wink, wink*).


We have put our sailboat on the market! It can take many moons to sell a boat, so we're going to continue living aboard, taking a few trips by car and plane, and wrestling alligators in Florida until it sells.

this ~3.5' long baby gator coasted by Dragonstar!
see him peeking out
of the water?

If you know of anyone that is looking for a sturdy, ocean ready, and beautiful (if we may say so ourselves) sailboat, send us a message and we'll share a link to the listing and dedicated website.

We've also decided that after the boat sells we want to return to the city in which we studied, partied, and loved: Austin, Texas! We have a lot of fun ideas for the next iteration of our lifestyle and considered many cities for relocation. A lot of factors weighed into the decision, and perhaps we'll write about that in another post someday. We realize too that half of the country seems to be moving to Austin, and that it won't be the city that we remember from college days, but hey, if we don't like it we could always get another boat and sail away for a little while longer, right? Our hope is that we'll be in Austin some time early next year and fall in love with the city all over again.

We're currently balancing our time between enjoying the present and planning ahead. We have an awesome opportunity and lifestyle as liveaboard cruisers right now, and are excited about all of the adventures to come.

Today, we are definitely enjoying the moment. Goofing around with what Cody refers to as "doing [his] chimichanga." Gemsi is pretty sure he's trying to say "chaturanga."

July 15, 2014

Drinkin' With Bowlegged Women

Over the July 4th weekend we had a visitor aboard Dragonstar: Mary Beth!

Mary Beth (she doesn't mind if you call her "MB") freed herself from the magnetic pull of her home in NYC and quickly settled into our slow paced life on the water. In fact, her eagerness to share life on the water almost pulled her into it — the water. Literally.

Dragonstar is currently tied up on four posts next to a dock, and floats between 2-4 feet away from the dock depending on the current of the Caloosahatchee River water running beneath us. So we tug on a spring line tied mid-ship to close the gap over the water when stepping on and off the boat. You've got to time your step and the closing of the gap just right, and get both feet outside of the lifeline before taking a step. MB learned that lesson the hard way...

On day one of MB's visit, after tugging on the springline to close the gap and stepping one foot off the boat, MB lifted her second foot...but her second foot was inside the lifeline, so her heel got snagged. With one foot on the dock, and one foot stuck on the highline, Dragonstar started slowly floating back to its normal position...several feet away from the dock! Within seconds, MB had performed an elegant splits over the water before magically releasing her caught foot, grasping the boat with both hands, and assuming a plank pose inches above the water. Her hands were gripping our boat's rub rail and her toes were sliding on the dock! Good thing she's tall! Unfortunately we do not have a picture of the scene because it happened so fast and we're not completely awful friends. Somehow we all managed to get MB upright without any splashing. We are also happy to report that despite her near dunk, Mary Beth was laughing the entire time.

We do have a disturbing picture of Cody laughing about it later with chocolate pudding in his mouth.

Pennsatucky from Orange Is The New Black
Gemsi tried her best to express her enthusiasm for Mary Beth's visit with open arms.

about as excited as she gets unless food is involved
We spent July 4th on the beach soaking up sun and watching World Cup matches. A few sugary rum drinks, sake bombs, and festive stickers later we founds ourselves directly underneath a fantastic fireworks display right on the beach.

Friends at the marina celebrated the 80th birthday of one of their family members on that same weekend, and were kind enough to let us join in the celebrations.

something went wrong here...
MB tried to let Angela be the tall one,
and Angela thought they were posing like idiots

During MaryBeth's visit it was revealed that neither she or Angela had seen the movie JAWS. What's more American than Hollywood? Plus JAWS is set on July 4th couldn't have been more serendipitous. So we watched JAWS aboard Dragonstar and thoroughly creeped ourselves out. Don't watch JAWS at night aboard a sailboat.

On our final full day of Mary Beth's visit we decided to walk through a protected wetland. So we jumped in the car and started heading that way when, as if to prove just how revolutionary we really are, we spontaneously decided to stop by a nearby gun range before visiting the wetland. Why not? None of us has significant shooting experience but we suddenly had the urge to shoot stuff. 'Merica!

Could these people look any goofier?
MB and Angela got suddenly nervous
before the first shot..."what are we doing here?!?"

We did eventually make it to the protected wetland, the local Six Mile Cypress Slough, and it was beautiful. During just a 2.5 hour visit we saw wild pigs, alligators, turtles, gar, frogs, loads of birds, and goofy mammals.

We finished the day with a trip to one of our favorite local dives for some all-you-can-eat broasted chicken.

On our final morning with MB, we released her from Dragonstar and conceded to take her back to the airport only upon the condition that we see each other again soon!