Mar 31, 2014

if only you could meet him

If you're not someone who already knows my husband in real life, I wish you could meet him.

The first thing you'd probably notice about him is that he's a little disheveled, maybe a little dirty even.  But don't worry, it's just because he's been working hard all day, and then playing hard, too.

Then, because he's never met a stranger in his life, you'd notice his accent.  You might chuckle a little to yourself about it or ask where in the world he's from, as people have been known to do.  You'd probably be surprised to hear that he's only from as far South as Virginia.

You'd soon find out that he's traveled a bit and has had some quite impressive and unusual life experiences for someone of his age and means.

You'd learn that he has hobbies and interests, many of them, but that he's not just talk… that, in fact, he actually excels at everything he puts his mind to.

After just a few minutes, you'd know that behind this casual, unassuming exterior, is a truly good man. One wise beyond his years, who lives every day of his life to the fullest. One who is constantly striving to be the absolute best that he can be, taking no credit for himself, but appreciating each blessing in his life as a precious gift.

You'd wish him a happy 28th birthday, and you'd mean it when you say it's been very nice to meet him.  

And never in your life will you know another man quite like Riley.

Mar 25, 2014

girl's best friends

One of the inevitable consequences of living every moment of life for five months straight in the confines of a small boat with just a husband and a dog, is the formation of unusually tight bonds.  Really, it's a blessing that we all came back loving each other more instead of loathing the sight of one another.  Really.  I'm pretty grateful for that.  Now that we're back on land, Riley and I can go our separate ways to do whatever it is we need to do, but it's still "normal" for us to have conversations, like last nights, that go something like this:

"Do you.."

Women always seem to complain that their significant others can't read their minds.  Well, mine can.  Yes, it is just as helpful and as scary as you might imagine.

But as far as Gidget is concerned, I have become a Crazy Dog Lady.  This isn't the same as a Crazy Cat Lady who hoards as many felines as she can get her hands on.  My brand of craziness is more along the lines of being completely in tune and hyper sensitive to an individual dog's wants, needs, pains… etc.

So, needless to say, when Gidget started having seizures, I fell to pieces.  She had a really bad one last Friday that left me a sloppy, soggy, puffy mess for the rest of the day.  When I finally pulled myself together enough to drive to the vet for some Valium (for her, not for me… although it was tempting), it only took the back to back combination of BeyoncĂ©'s "Halo" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" to open the floodgates again.  Of course, now that I think about it, I was listening to The Best Hits of the Eighties, Nineties, and Today, so I really was kind of asking for it.

Anyway, right now we're in the process of vet visits and bloodwork and tests to try to figure out what exactly is causing her seizures and how we can treat them.  So if you happen to have a spare thought or prayer for a pup and her girl, they'd be so much appreciated.  And maybe one for the poor fellow who is so tightly bonded to the emotional and physically unstable pair, I think he'd appreciate it as well.

Mar 19, 2014

home is where

I tried out every different cliche and song lyric that I could think of for this post. Home is where the heart is. Home is wherever I'm with you. While they're all good and true in their own right, they didn't quite fit.  I'm about to get really good and honest and superficial here today.

I missed my stuff.

Now, don't get me wrong, I actually did like living with less while we were on the boat.  It was sort of refreshing and surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.  But when we got back onto land and I slipped my feet back into my leather boots, when I unpacked my dishes and placed them on a shelf in a cabinet, when I unrolled my beloved cowhide rug onto the hardwood floor… it felt good.

I don't think it's easy finding a place that feels like home anymore.  Maybe that's just me.  Growing up, home was where my parents were there to care for me and where my always messy room was my sanctuary.  Of course it felt like home, it was also the only one I had ever known.  But when my parents decided to make the move from Maryland to Virginia, it was surprisingly easy to leave.  Of course, it was hard to leave friends and family behind, but the minute we moved out, it no longer felt like home.

Trying to make Virginia home took a little bit of time, as anyone who's ever moved will tell you.  All of our familiar stuff was there, and our family became closer than ever as we relied on each other more, so it did feel like home, in a way.  But we also had moved to The South, and immersed ourselves in the very conservative Bible-belt, and that has still never fit quite right.

After getting married and moving into a house in my husband's hometown in the mountains, I really struggled with feeling at home.  And I had only moved an hour away.  We tried our best to make a house into a home out of Riley's handiwork and generous gifts of hand-me down furniture, but that never quite fit either.    Maybe because it was a small, very Southern community where everyone knew each other, and was most likely related.  Maybe because I didn't want it to fit.  Maybe because I knew the house was only temporary. At the same time, going back to visit my parent's house didn't feel like home either.  But I did know, at least, that wherever Riley was was where I wanted my home to be.

So, if I couldn't find home in Maryland or Virginia, could I find it on a boat?  I guess in a way, I did.  We generally found ourselves in a new place every few days, so home couldn't really be a physical location.  But somehow I found a kind of home in the space of a 30 foot boat, with not much more than a few tupperware boxes of clothes and a toothbrush, my husband and my dog.  For a brief period of time, we made it feel like home.  But eventually, we got restless.  Moving around all the time can really wear a person down.  We were ready to have a real home, whatever that means.

After our trip, my parents were gracious enough to let us crash at their house for about a week.  Everyone asked us if we were glad to be home.  Honestly?  I felt more displaced than I had on a boat.  I had stuff in boxes in a guest room at my parent's and stuff in boxes in storage and I had just left the only place that had sort of felt like home for the last five months, I couldn't come up with an answer to that question until I actually did feel home again.

We were fortunate to find an apartment fairly quickly, and moving our stuff into it felt pretty darn good.  Does that mean home is where my stuff is?  Home is not in Maryland, and it's not at my parent's house in Virginia.  It's no longer a house in the mountains and it's not on a 30 foot boat.  But I am finally fulfilling a dream of living in a downtown apartment, so can I make this small space in the city feel like home for the next year?  I don't know yet, but I do know that I find a sense of peace in having a closet to hang my clothes in and a couch on which to watch tv.  My view of the city makes me happy, and so does my little brick wall and the creaky hardwood floor under my feet.  

Being here feels good. And it feels right.  For now.  Does it feel like home?  Ask me again in another few months.

Mar 17, 2014

leprechaun clowns and bagpipes (aka our welcome parade)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This past week I almost completely unplugged from all social media and it was so refreshing… and productive!  Riley and I finally got settled (mostly) and unpacked in our new downtown apartment, and then the city held a parade on Saturday to celebrate!

Okay, but really, it was a nice coincidence that the St. Patrick's Day festivities happened to coincide with our first week here.  It felt like our own personal "Welcome to the City" inaugural event.  It was a beautiful day for a parade, but one of the best parts was that we could walk right out of our door and be a part of the action.  No dinghy necessary!  Or car even, for that matter.  I loved every minute of it and I can't wait to see what else this city has in store for us this year.

Does your town hold any fun St. Patrick's Day events?  Are you celebrating today?

(In other notable news last week… we shaved goodbye to Riley's mountain man/salty sailor beard and hello Veronica Mars movie!  If you weren't a fan already, well... what are you waiting for?)

Mar 11, 2014

life after adventure

"So, are you glad to be back?"

Well, um… yes. Er, no.  I don't know.  Ask me again in a couple of weeks?

Last week was a whirlwind.  It was productive, but unsettled.  Joyous, but stressful.  Chaotic, but somehow… not.  We crashed with my parents while we got our act together; visited family, looked at apartments, signed a lease on an apartment, took a quick trip out of town, and then started moving into said apartment.  This week Riley starts back to work, we start to get our stuff unpacked and situated, I start the job hunt and maybe even work on getting my little jewelry shop opened back up.  We'll start a new routine and maybe then we'll start getting our heads on straight again.

So basically, we've got a lot of "starts" going on.

It might be a little quieter than usual on this blog, but not for long, because I am so excited about the things that are already happening in our new lives on land, and I can't wait to share them.

But for now, I have a ton of unpacking and organizing to do in this life-long-dream-fulfilling apartment of mine. (more on that later!)

What are you up to this week?

Mar 7, 2014

nostalgic for north carolina

Out of all the places that we have visited over the course of the last several months, North Carolina was probably the hardest to say good bye to.  I have to admit, I wasn't super excited about sailing down it's coast.  I just kinda figured that since it's so close to home in Virginia I'd want to hurry up and get through it so we could move onto something more interesting.  But boy, was I wrong!  I loved North Carolina!  Not only is it special because it was the starting and ending point of our adventure, but I also genuinely enjoyed visiting some of it's charming coastal towns.

New Bern

We had our boat in New Bern for about 3 months before we left on our trip.  Now, that's not a very long time, but it doesn't take long to fall in love with the place.  It is a picture perfect small town and I am so looking forward to the day that we return our boat to the marina there.  I actually missed New Bern while we were gone.  Granted, none of our friends or family live there, but the place had begun to feel like a second home.


Beaufort was our first real stop on the trip.  We had only been gone for three days, but it felt like a lot longer, and it was our first encounter with any real civilization since we left.  I was pleasantly surprised at how convenient it was to get to the dinghy docks, since this was our first time doing so and I had feared that it would be kind of a tricky thing.  Beaufort was a great introduction to the cruising lifestyle. We met a few friendly cruisers during our short time there who passed on their wisdom and also had a good chuckle about our green-ness.  "Oh, they have so much to learn, " they said.  They were right.

In case it wasn't clear from this post, I loved Southport.  Of course, I'm sure a lot of it had to do with all of the movies and t.v. shows that have been filmed there.  But still, it just has this kind of weathered coastal charm to it.  I'm glad we got a chance to stop by on our way south, because the place was already starting to close up for the season, and by the time we passed back through last week, it was pretty much dead.  It was still good to see it again, though.  I mean, when I wasn't lying on the side of the dock in pain, or beating through the waves, that is.

Wrightsville and Carolina Beach

Wrightsville was an exciting stop for us because it was the first real beach that we saw.  It was cold at the time, of course, but there's something about the beach that is so energizing.  We also had the opportunity to meet up with some friends and have them join us on our short sail to Carolina Beach, which was our first, and very welcome stop at a marina.

I mentioned in my last post that I was disappointed that we didn't get to return to New Bern at the end of our trip, but now that I've had some time to think about it, I'm actually excited about the possibilities that it opens up.  Riley and I would really love to return to the boat as soon as it warms up a little and explore the Southport and maybe Wilmington areas a little bit more.  We also never really got a chance to explore the water around New Bern very much, because we were always working on the boat to get it ready.  So having the opportunity to sail back there in nicer weather will really give us the chance to do that.

Are there any other areas in North Carolina that you love and would recommend for exploration?

Mar 6, 2014

inside our sailboat: a video tour!

As promised… a video tour of our sailboat!  A few disclaimers though, before we begin:

1. The boat was hardly ever this neat and tidy.  Just so you know.

2. This is a tiny video, made on a phone, in a tiny space by a total amateur.  It is what it is.

3. YouTube offered to edit my video for shaking (thank goodness), but in the process it also cut off my head.  Really I'm ok with that because my head wasn't all that important for the video anyway (and it certainly wasn't a very flattering angle). Still, it's a little awkward.

That said… enjoy!

Mar 5, 2014

sailing through south carolina

Because the weather turned cold on us, Riley and I didn't spend much time exploring South Carolina on the way home.  We did, however, enjoy the views of the swamps, especially as the steam rolled off of the water and through the trees.  It was really kind of an eerie beauty.

The cities that we did visit in South Carolina were not only beautiful, but also so interesting and rich with history...

Georgetown never really got it's own post the first time around, it only got a brief mention in this post.  We did make a point of stopping in again one night on our way home, just so that we could pick up a delicious loaf of bread from the Kudzu Bakery!

Visiting Charleston by sailboat wasn't the greatest experience for us, so we didn't make a second visit on the return trip, but I probably would return by car to take in it's beautiful architecture and fantastic restaurants.

My favorite memory of Beaufort is walking down the street, admiring the way the setting sun hit the spanish moss draped over the tree branches that framed our little boat out in the anchorage.  I also loved the waterfront walkway lined with restaurants and coffee shops.  Beaufort is another place that I wouldn't mind visiting again!

I'd really be interested in making a trip to South Carolina by car and being able to explore it's cities more thoroughly.  Do you have any favorites that we missed this time around?

Mar 4, 2014

adventure by numbers

I'm not really a numbers kind of girl, but I found myself thinking that way quite often on this trip. How fast are we going? What's our depth? How many miles did we travel today? How many days have we been gone? Numbers became so significant to us during this adventure so I though it would be interesting to break down the rest of the experience by numbers, too.

Of course, the memories made and lessons learned are too numerous and valuable to reduce to simple figures.

Now, I think it's about time I sort through some of those photos...

Mar 3, 2014

the end of the tale… for now

When it was good, it was really, really good. But when it was bad, it was really, really bad.

Unfortunately, the last 48 hours of our trip were of the latter variety.  And that's how we knew it was time to stop.  The weather turned brutal on us that last week; temperatures in the thirties, with high winds, and a thunderstorm or two.  Winter is one thing when you can come inside to get warm.  But winter on the water is a whole other story.

We pulled into Southport one evening this weekend, and I took a pretty bad fall while we were coming into one of their free docks.  Now, I'm not a clumsy person, but my muscles were so cold and tense that instead of hopping off the side of the boat to tie on the dock line, I found myself landing on my side with a hard thud on the solid wood dock.  I am now sporting several impressive purple and swollen bruises and sore muscles a few days later.  But!  I never did let go of the dock lines, so there's that.

The following morning called for high winds, and Gidget and I stayed below in the cabin while our fearless captain beat into the waves.  We were only going to travel about 10 miles or so before we planned to stop for fuel and showers.  The waves were crashing over the boat and Riley was being doused with icy water.  Not the best time to run out of fuel.  Yeah, it happened.  

I thought I'd let Riley tell this part of the story in his own words:

"So there we were, marching into 30 mile per hour winds and waves, just trying to make 10 miles to get out of it so we could continue on. The weather started getting so rough that the boat was rocking back and forth, and already knowing that I was low on fuel, I saw the gauge begin to dance back and forth erratically. Ultimately I knew what was about to come, but I was praying that it wouldn't. I asked Allison if she would like to continue on, or turn around and head back to Southport (she was unaware of the fuel situation) and her vote was to continue on. I was thinking, 'I guess I'll find out what I'm really made of.' So hunkering down, trying to keep out of the water that kept crashing down over the bow, I waited. I heard the engine suck air and start to lose power, so I shut it down in the hope that there would still be enough fuel in the system to get it started if I needed it. I turned down wind, put a sail out, (reefed down to about the size of a handkerchief), and started sailing down wind to the most manageable point of sail I could with that much wind and current. Motoring into the wind, we had been making 4 knots, and at times down to 0.8 knots. Now, we were running 8.4 downwind.  I had a big freighter coming my way, and behind me was a car ferry and a mega yacht, and there we were on a tiny boat, sailing right smack down through the middle of them. When we got to the mouth of Cape Fear, I looked up and saw a sign for Deep Point Marina (a sign from heaven, really). I called them on the vhf, and told them I was down an engine and coming in hot. There was a jetty built out at the entrance to the marina to help boats get in in bad currents, so we sailed up to the mouth of the jetty and I figured I'd try one last shot at the engine. Miraculously it started, although it was lacking in power because it was not getting enough fuel.  I was able to limp in, after ripping what little bit of sail I had out.  Thankfully, with some help from the dock master and another dockhand were able to make it into the fuel dock."

I can't even tell you how relieved we were to be tied up to that dock.  After our nerves had calmed down a bit, we checked the weather for the rest of the week and it didn't look like it was going to let up.  We were about two to three long days from the marina we had left from in New Bern, and we couldn't justify putting ourselves through that.  Admittedly, I was a little disappointed at the idea of not finishing where we started from, but we found ourselves at a very nice facility with a decent slip fee, and a less expensive option for a rental car, to boot.  So, that was that!  We had a pizza delivered to the boat that night, and packed up all of our stuff.  Before we left, we obviously had to watch the Dawson's Creek episode where Pacey and Joey return from their 3 month sailing trip.  Honestly, it helped with the closure I was needing.

It was a little emotional leaving the boat behind the next morning.  I couldn't decide if it felt more like the entire sailing trip had been just a dream, or if I was dreaming the ending of it.  We would like to return the boat to New Bern once the weather warms up again, and complete the circle.  We also have a lot of other plans for that sailboat of ours, and lots of adventures ahead of us.  But for now, here we are, back in Virginia, trying to find our footing on solid ground.

I have a few more posts about our trip that I'm looking forward to sharing with you this week, including my attempt at filming a video tour of the boat.  So stay tuned!  The adventure isn't over, it's just changing course.

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