Thursday, September 20, 2012

All good things must end...

Jake picked Sushi for his birthday lunch.

As we’re wrapping up our stay, I thought I would do a little recap of our prolonged visit here in the states.  We’ve actually been here almost 5 months!  That seems crazy to me.  Here are the stats…
  • 4 States, 10 cities
  • Approximately 46 hours of flight (56 for me) – after we arrive back in Pohnpei, you can bump that up to about 80.
  • 26 hours of car travel (not including regular every day driving) in 4 different rental cars.
  • 1 wreck (oops)
  • 2 Aquariums
  • 5 nautical museums to include 3 warships
  • 6 “other” museums
  • 4 Imax movies
  • 1 Amusement Park
  • Hours and hours of swimming

Highlights include:
  • Seeing the actual space shuttle in Washington DC.
  • Actually seeing the Pegasus rocket like the one we found in Rongelap.
  • Lego Land!!!!
  • Crawling inside a dinosaur and watching its poop jiggle through its body.
  • Playing with my (Jake’s) cousins and other kids everywhere we went.
  • Seeing most of our family - all across the country.
  • Getting to see actual dinosaur bones in the Natural History Museum.
(NOTE:  Jake is having a very hard time contributing as he says, “they were all good”)
  • Downloading the new iPad games we didn’t know anything about.
  • Buying new toys!!
  • And finally….Jake turned 7 years old!

Yeah, we’ve had a really good time here.  But it is beyond time to go.  Andy has been back on the boat now for almost a month and it’s making me crazy knowing we’re just sitting here waiting to see him.  Not to mention, we’ve spent a ton of money.  Enough said about that…

I think we are fully recharged and ready to take on the rest of Micronesia.  I’m looking forward to downsizing again (gotta make room for all this crap we’re bringing back!) and getting reacquainted with our space.  I’ve found that I absolutely hate blow-drying my hair everyday, putting on make up and worrying about what I’m going to wear.  I don’t care for the enormous fees charged for everything from parking to checking a bag at the airport.  I cringed when I paid $10 to get Jake’s haircut and let’s not even talk about what I paid to get mine cut.  I am fully caught up on the current Presidential election and am scared out of my mind for our country – I think I was better in the dark.  I’m sure I can’t say what I really want to say without offending everyone, so I’ll say this…the pace of life here is crazy and the amount of things we try to squeeze into a day is mind blowing.  I know, I used to be that person, but now that I’ve seen the other side and experienced the joy that comes with just being with each other, well…I think we’re ready to go back. 

This will probably be my last post before we head out next Wednesday.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Jake’s birthday.  Notice, my cake decorating skills are getting better every year….yeah, right.  No, that’s not a pregnant lizard…it’s a dinosaur.  Jake insisted I make his cake instead of buying it.  

Against my better judgment, I’m putting up a picture of us sporting our dinosaur noses that Jake picked out.  It’s mid week…everyone needs a little laugh today, I’m sure.

I can't figure out of Papa is not happy or if he's really into his
dinosaur role and trying to look menacing...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Weekend with Friends

Jake and I had the rare opportunity to visit our friends Nicole and Eric here in California this past weekend.  We rented a car and headed out for the 7 hour drive on Friday morning.  Despite a rocky start - we got into a fender bender in the infamous LA traffic - we made it before dark and spent a fantastic weekend relaxing.  Eric and Andy go way back in their Navy diving days and through the years, Eric and I have also become very good friends.  His wife, Nicole is also one of our favorite people and Jake and I get very excited when we get to see them.

Since we've seen them last, they've bought a really nice house on 5 acres of land and have their own ranch...complete with horses, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and rattlesnakes.  Well, the rattlesnakes aren't exactly welcome, but they're part of the deal nonetheless.

Jake's favorite part of the weekend was definitely hanging out with Eric feeding the animals and doing boy stuff.  I've enjoyed watching him interact with the men in the houses we've visited, but I especially enjoy watching him with Eric.  He's the closest in personality to Andy so you really see Jake light up and latch on.  Jake's been a trouper through this whole trip - being apart from Andy for so long - but I know he longs for that interaction, so this time was especially great.  His absolute favorite part by far was feeding the chickens and gathering eggs.  So much so, that he's planning our chicken farm when we "come back and get a house."
"We have to have chickens, mommy.  Then we won't even have to buy eggs!"

Gathering eggs with Ms. Nicole

Mr. Til and Jake played a couple of intense games of chess.

Another bottom tooth gone!
On the way home, we had another unexpected event, only this time it was good.  Jake lost another tooth!  He was upset at first thinking it was a big tooth, but when he realized it was a baby one, he was really happy.  Not happy enough to hand it over to the tooth fairy though.  I had to save it so I can add it to the others on the boat.  Not sure what we're going to do with these things....Maybe the tooth fairy will get a discount on her bulk purchases one day...

In the meantime, Andy has been busy...scrubbing the bottom, changing oil, buying new engines (yeah!!), grocery shopping, doing laundry and helping other people fix their problems.  I'm looking forward to getting back so we can help (no, really, my fingers aren't crossed or anything).

This week we'll be celebrating a very important day...Jake's 7th birthday!  I'm busy at work trying to figure out how to make a dinosaur cake.  I know, I'm in the states, go buy one.  Well, guess who wants me to make it instead?  I may or may not be posting pictures...we'll see.  I can't believe he's already 7 but I know every mom says that (mine can't believe I'm almost 40).  He's such a funny little thing even if he is kind of's very entertaining to watch him grow up.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree from what I hear.

I hope everyone has a great week, I know we will....only two more weeks and we'll be back to cruising and posting and hopefully more interesting stories.  Thanks for hanging in there with us... stay tuned.

We visited the town of Caloma, famous for it's start
of the Gold Rush in California.  Of course we had to
go to the river and look for gold.  Evidently, it was
VERY cold.

Looking for gold.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 and sound...and stinky.

After four long months, Andy finally made it back to the boat safe and sound!  Originally, I was supposed to get back first and then he would join a few weeks later.  It turns out to be a pretty good thing that Andy got back first as I’m not sure I would have known what to do (I have to say, my lady sense kind of kicked in and anticipated this). First off was the smell….it smelled like it did when we bought it.  You know what we did then?  Ripped it all out and started over!  But this was anticipated.  You can’t leave a boat closed up for four months in the middle of the wettest place on earth and expect not to have a little mold and a little stink.
I’m not sure the order of things, but lets imagine Andy is working hard at cleaning and scrubbing and decides he wants to go in to shore to get more paper towels, cleaning solution, whatever (cold beer?).  He pumps up the dinghy, lowers it, unlocks everything, and goes to start it.  The outboard carburetor freezes up.  Minor set back…Andy being the handy man he is, gets that fixed pretty quickly (relatively speaking) in between rain showers.  Now he’s off to shore.  Almost there and “vroommmmm….put, put, put”….nothing.  Water in the fuel tank.  I’m guessing he paddled back to the boat at this point (more than likely in the rain).  He dried out the spark plugs, carburetor and fuel tank and got her going one more time.

By this time, it’s probably time to eat and not wanting to hop right back into the rain, Andy decides to have a nice hot bowl of Ramen noodles.  He goes to light the propane and well, no good.  The solenoid is stuck closed.  You can guess my laid back husband is starting to lose his patience.  After all, he’s been traveling for four days and comes home to sleep in a stinky boat with no fan (it broke right before we left), and no ability to raise the hatches since it’s raining cats and dogs and now every attempt he makes to get things right is failing.  You know the drill….one problem leads to many.

So he does the only thing a man in his position would do…he goes to grab a cold beer.  Not happening…the fridge isn’t keeping its charge. 

I’m glad I wasn’t there. 

Lots of trips to ACE hardware later (and no doubt lots of cold beers at the Rusty Anchor), all is on the way to working the way it’s supposed to.

One thing that wasn’t nasty that I felt sure would be was the head.  Andy said it was surprisingly normal, with the exception of one poor goby that was unfortunate enough to be sucked in when Andy filled the bowl with water.  He made his way back out on the next flush, but you can imagine he wasn’t happy.

Even with all of the problems Andy had, I think we’re pretty lucky in the overall scheme of things.  It was the first time leaving Savannah for more than a week and given the things that could have gone wrong, we’re in pretty good shape.  After all, the boat is still there, right (and floating)?  And it contains all the stuff it had in it when we left J.

Just three more weeks and Jake and I will be happily reunited with Andy and we’ll all be bitching about the rain and smell together (because in reality, that boat will never get aired out if there isn’t a break in the clouds).  We’ll be sporting new sheets for Jake’s bed and new fabric for our pillows (that should take care of some of those smells).  We’re bringing a new wifi booster antenna – if the post office ever gets it here – and some cable so Andy can hook up his latest purchase, a depth sounder!  I’ll have snow pea with drawls (and all other fresh veggies while we’re talking about it) and Jake will miss Chick-fil-a, but I think we’ll adjust fine as we eat our $1/lb tuna.

Living on a boat sounds strange to some, but we’ve learned from this trip that as uncomfortable and cramped as it can be at times, it’s a small price to pay for getting to wake up every day with each other while living our dream.  We’re definitely looking forward to being a family again.

Thanks to everyone for all of your prayers and well wishes…it looks like it worked.