Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cruising and Family

South Burlington, VT

Sara's wedding last week made a good reminder to me that I should blog about family contact.

How important is family contact for cruisers?  Of course, it is very important, not just for cruisers, but for everybody.  I don't think that I exaggerate if I say that isolation from one's family is one of the most self-destructive things you can do.  Psychologists can explain better, but to me it is just a simple truth.

When cruising however, we add obstacles that may not be obvious when one starts.   First, there is geographical separation.  Second, is the shortage of guest facilities at your home.  Third is the lack of mobility when you don't have a car.  Fourth is the cruiser's life style that resists any long-term planning.

I know for sure that Libby and I failed to fully consider those factors when we first set sail on Tarwathie in 2005.  It wasn't until we sat anchored off Yucatan in Mexico en-route to the Panama Canal that the truth hit; "If we continue, we will have little or no contact with family for five or more years."   We wisely dumped all those circumnavigation dreams, did a 180 degree turn, and returned the way we came.  If we had continued through the canal it could have been one of our biggest blunders in life.   Contact with our beloved family is much more important than seeing the world.

Even after that epiphany, our family contact is much less than we would like.  Many cruisers (with bigger budgets than we operate on) fly home for the holidays every year.  Because of limited room, and limited budgets, our children and grandchildren can not visit us en-mass, they come one-at-a-time.  One of them is afraid of boats and never visits. Our grandchildren in particular, were deprived of the experience of "driving to grandma's house" several times per year, so that our house would feel like a second home to them.  Because of that, they are less closely attached to us.

Five years ago, Dave and Cathy moved from Fairbanks AK to North Carolina.   That made things much easier since all children lived on the US East Coast.

Our recent backsliding on full time cruising, by buying a car and leaving Tarwathie in Florida for the summer, also makes it possible to spend more time with family every year, and that is very welcome.

A guest at Sara's wedding last week remarked on that.  She saw how well everyone got along (despite a blemish or two) and said, "Things are not like this in the world of my family."  That made a poignant reminder of how fortunate we are.

But not everybody is so fortunate.   It may also be true that when you're young you urge to make yourself independent of family, but as you get older and especially when you become grandparents, the urge is to try to cement it closer together.   It is no accident that so many circumnavigators are young people, or those with less happy family circumstances.

My advice to aspiring cruisers is to think in advance about family contacts, and to factor that into your dreams.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sara & Harley's Wedding

Utica, NY

Well, it was a great family weekend focused on a beautiful wedding on Friday between Sara (our granddaughter) and Harley.   The venue was Green Lakes State Park, in Fayetteville, NY which is a lovely place.  The weather was perfect.

I won't bore blog readers with our extensive photo album, but here area a few highlights.   The bride was beautiful and the groom very handsome, but as predicted their daughter Anna (our great granddaughter) stole the show.

The ceremony with Sara's other Grandad Dick officiating.

Here comes flower girl Anna

Anna with Grandma Cheryl

Anna with Grandpa John

On Saturday, we spent another great family day with Jennifer, John, and Becky (John's S.O.).  That too was a delight.  We love Becky, she's a sweetheart.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ode to BTV

South Burlington, VT

My daily routine when visiting Jens house begins with a visit to the Burlington Airport (BTV) just two blocks away.   I bring a quart of coffee, and a tablet.   I sit in front of the picture windows at BTV while I first browse the daily news, and then spend an hour on an online physics course.

BTV offers:

  • An unhurried stress free environment.  It is the opposite of the harried scenes and long TSA lines seen on TV.  
  • For travelers, commercial flights arrive and depart about once every 40 minutes.
  • No lines for tickets, baggage, security, and food.
  • BTV offers stuffed chairs, and sofas for people waiting.  Lots of interesting art.  A yoga room, a nursing mother room.  Most important about 400 feet of picture windows offering the only unobstructed views of The Green Mountains in the area. 
  • Quiet
  • An old control tower turned into an observation deck for aviation enthusiasts.
  • Fixed-frame TV monitors offering soothing views of peaceful scenes that move a little but not much.
  • Tables, chairs, benches and AC power outlets for people who want to use their computers.
  • Rocking chairs positioned in front of the picture windows.
No coffee shop or library that I've ever seen provides a more pleasant place to relax and do your stuff.

I may be shooting myself in the foot by revealing this open secret, but what the heck.

Note the rocking chairs

If there was a TSA security line, it would be here.

Cool art

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vermont HO

South Burlington, VT

Libby and I cleared the summit of a mountain approaching Ticonderoga, NY.  There it was:  a spectacular view of Vermont's Green Mountains. "Vermont HO," I exclaimed.

After crossing the Champlain Bridge, we were treated to another view, that of the Champlain Valley with the main section of Lake Champlain in the middle.   Welcome home we thought.

The drive up from the Schenectady area was interesting because we traversed the gradient from nearly 100%  of the trees bloomed to less than 10% bloomed.  It is spring.

But this particular spring is a nasty cold and wet one.  So much so that we aborted our plans to camp our way northward all the way up to Sara's wedding next Friday near Syracuse, NY.  Both Libby and I have become very intolerant of cold, especially cold and wet.   Listening to DC public radio, we heard that Washington DC had surpassed its record for the number of days of consecutive rain a week ago, and the forecast for the coming 10 days was more of the same.  No thank you.

It makes us realize how spoiled we are traveling on Tarwathie.  On board we have all the comforts of home.  It is home.

So, assuming that it ever warms up here, Libby will pick up working in Jen's garden, and I will pick up work on our novel.

We'll also be adventuring this summer with the canoe (TJ, Tarwathie Junior), but not before the water warms up too.   I have a (yet unresearched) idea of going west to the Missouri River.

We would also like to try again for a trip to Prince Edward Island, and to the Saguenay fjord.  The obstacle to that is that we found travel in Canada to be prohibitively expensive,  food, fuel, campground/housing fees, are all sky high.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Carpe Diem in the News

New Jersey


Our friends Bob and Sandra just posted a great story on their blog. Go read it here. I guarantee it will make you smile.

Before you ask, no I never sent Libby up the mast.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hardiness Needed

Berlin, Maryland


We are in paradise ; Assateague National Seashore. Pristine nature, wild horses in our camp site, pass the nearby village of Berlin. That's the good news. The bad news is that the weather is nothing like last week's forecast said. It is cold and rainy. The newest forecast says that it will be like that for two weeks. 😝

We will see how hardy we two campers are. This morning, we aborted a nice walk on the beach because of 50 degree temperature and because it started to rain.

The last time we were here, we remarked that Berlin, MD is one of the most charming villages we ever saw. It would be a great place to live (if they had eternal summer). So far, on this visit what we see confirms that opinion.



Friday, May 06, 2016

Zebulon, NC

Here's Libby at 6:15 AM out working Dave & Cathy's garden.  She's a work horse when it comes to gardens.

The weather is beginning to break, so we plan to spend next week camped with our tent at Assateague, MD.  The camp ground is right on the beach.  Wild horses are everywhere.  There is the beach and trails and the esuatry.  We will have the canoe with us.   Should be fun.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Why Fewer Posts on this Blog?

New Bern, NC

Have you noticed that the frequency of posts on this blog seems to be getting fewer.  I noticed, so I plotted the actual numbers.

Yup, it's true.

I think there are three reasons.

  1. Like all writers, I try to avoid repeating myself.  As the archive of posts gets longer (2829 as of today) it becomes increasingly harder to think of fresh topics.
  2. We have been less mobile in recent years, with longer stays in Vermont and in Marathon.  That means our lives are becoming more repetitive.
  3. Most recently, I have become very passionate about  I've written 1614 posts, and 6 technical articles for Physics Forums.  I'm also proud to have been elected to the rank of "physics advisor" there. Anyhow, writing for competes directly with writing for this blog.

So, I have no intention of abandoning this blog ever, but chances are that it will never return to 2009 levels.