Contrarily to what I was told, one does not have a lot more “free” time in retirement; it has been just as busy as my time in the Rat Race, but the things I’m doing are just different. Although I have not updated this blog in quite a while, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been many things going on – both happy and sad.
Last winter, we got in a great amount of snowmobiling including doing a Poker Run in January where we did so much trail-breaking, we had to chainsaw trees out of the way multiple times (including one time when another rider almost got my husband cut in half by “helping” to drag the tree being cut because he couldn’t hear our excellent electric chain saw).
Toward the end of January, the snow stopped for a couple of weeks, so it seemed like a good time to visit Seattle and the Boat Show. Although there wasn’t really anything interesting in the way of blue-water sailboats at the Show, it did make me want to start looking for a boat a little sooner than planned. We went up and down the coast from Seattle to Everett looking at boats, and we decided on an old 34′ Pacific Seacraft that needed a lot of updates but still had a good hull, deck and interior. Buying a documented vessel (even when paying cash) is as much of a pain as buying as a house, and it took about five weeks for the closing (and then another two months before the Coast Guard had us recorded), so we still had time for some more snowmobiling.
Finding a marina with an available, large-enough slip anywhere near Seattle is impossible, so we had a long haul ahead of us to get north. We spend a couple of days at Shilshole Marina in Seattle because we got off to late start from Lake Union (thanks to the seller not getting his final paperwork in on time), and then the weather turned nasty. Then we headed up to Everett Marina (where we had left our pick-up truck) for a few days so we could do some repairs and maintenance, such as fixing the bilge pump and recharging the fire extinguishers. Then it was on to Port Townsend for a night and up to Blaine. We had originally planned on Blaine being temporary until Bellingham had an opening, but it turned out that we really liked Blaine, so I think we’ll stay there till we head off to Alaska.
The day after we arrived in Blaine, we got a call from my mother-in-law saying that my father-in-law had just passed away, and the funeral would be in three days. We threw the boat keys to the first person we met at the marina (to keep an eye on the boat since we didn’t know if the long trip might have uncovered something dire), and drove back across the state to pick up clothes and fly down to Georgia.
I’m glad we had gotten the chance to see my father-in-law on our RV tour through the South, and it was good to see everyone else again despite the sad circumstances. My mother-in-law is an absolute rock, but I’m glad we were there to help distract her at least a little bit. My in-laws knew nearly everyone in town, so they all wanted to pay their respects to her, but it can get a bit much to have that many people constantly reminding her.
When we got back to Washington, spring had sprung, so the snowmobiles were put away, and it was time for some projects. We did a little grading and started working on a pole barn. We alternated work on the property with visiting the boat to work on it. When summer came in full force, the wildfires had once again made breathing intolerable in NE WA, so we spend more time at the boat which we decided needed to have electric propulsion instead of diesel. Wheee! Another project!
The man with whom we had left the boat keys had been gearing up for a solo motorcycle ride to Alaska, and we got to know him really well. He was a font of boat advice, and we enjoyed talking motorcycles with him, too. Unfortunately, he had only been gone for a few days on his journey when he hit a truck head-on in northern BC. He was a good friend to everyone at the marina, and he’ll be missed.
It was some serious fun (not) getting the motor out of the boat, but now that it (and all the systems that support it) is gone, the boat is so much cleaner, and it’s easier to access things like the steering system (which we are replacing). We’ve got it wired with new batteries, charger/inverter, etc., and it’s ready for the electric motor to be bolted in once we make a mount for it (going to build one out of aluminum first to get it fit correctly, then we’ll probably have one made for us out of stainless steel).
The fires have been contained in NE WA, and we’re currently back on the pole barn project. We’ll be ordering the roofing metal on Monday, so hopefully we’ll be done with that project (well, as done as we plan to be this year) by October.
Maybe this winter I’ll finally fix all the TODOs (and the broken Photobucket pictures) that are peppered throughout this blog (but then again, if the snow is really good, maybe not).
Going through thousands of pictures on the wildlife camera is a slow process, and I am lazy, but I finally pulled a few. It’s interesting that still the most frequent visitors are domestic cats. It seems we have about five of them – the Siamese (who visits nearly every night – it’s as if he knows I really love Siamese cats), the black short-hair, the fluffy black, the black with white feet, and the white with black spots (as yet unphotographed). With the cougar and coyote around, they must be especially wily cats.
Originally, we had planned on wintering down in the Florida Keys (since it’s one of the few spots in the South where it is not too hot in the winter), but with them having to deal with all the hurricane damage, it seemed a better idea to postpone that for a while. Since we really like the snow and missed out on it last winter, we decided to stay in NE WA this winter and do some snowmobiling (my favorite activity after sailing).
We cannot stay on the property in the winter because we would have to run the generator all the time – it’s just not possible to get enough solar in a WA snowy winter until we add about 10 more angled panels. It turns out, it’s cheaper (and you get a bathtub plus washer and dryer) to rent an apartment (or even a house) than to rent an RV spot that keeps the water turned on all winter, so winterized the toys and moved into a nice quiet (i.e., no kids) apartment. After living in less than 200 square feet for 18 months, all this space is overwhelming.
The weather here went from way too hot in the summer to 3 weeks of a 100% perfect fall to snowing. The folk here say that such a short fall is unusual, but so far all we’ve heard from the locals is that same story (the last winter extreme cold was unusual, the late winter floods were unusual, the spring/summer drought was unusual, the hot summer was unusual, etc. – I’m ready for some “usual” weather). We should be picking up the snowmobiles this week, so I’m totally fine with the snow though the shops putting out early Christmas decorations could wait a couple more weeks.
Not much going lately – the smoke came back, and it has still been on the hot side.
But today is Eclipse Day and everyone has gone mental. We debated heading south for a view of the totality (after all, we are supposed to be mobile), but seeing the chaos that was brewing, we decided to stay put.
Fortunately, the air cleared up this morning, and we had some good viewing.
We have no photography skills nor specialized equipment, so these are not great pictures. Since we didn’t hit totality here, we couldn’t view the sun without the welding mask, but it was still vastly better than my pinhole-in-a-box experience from 1984.
Back in NE WA, it has been HOT and SMOKY due to the BC/WA wildfires and the stationary high pressure system. Breathing outside is not pleasant, so we’ve been doing a lot of indoor activities.
Sunday we finally got a small bit of rain which washed the air and cooled things off.
One of the things we did to keep occupied was to install a wildlife camera to see who visits when we’re away and at night. Surprisingly, the most frequent visitor is a Siamese cat though he never seems to pose for a really good picture.
With the heat where it has been, the wildlife camera thinks that any time the vegetation moves, it’s an animal, so it takes literally thousands of pictures during the day. Sifting through them to find the few that actually have animals in them is annoying. That is one more reason that I am happy that cooler weather is coming.