Back to Civilization

We are back on American soil...actually we are back in American waters and it's nice to be back. Canada was great to us but there is nothing like being home (we are always at home on the boat, but it's nice to have our home in our home country for a little bit). There are a few things that we have taken for granted while we were away on Phase 1 of our trip and there are few things that we really didn't want to come back to but I guess we get the good with the bad.

We checked back into the States in Port Angeles which is an official port of entry for our great country.
The first thing that I have noticed about being back in the States is the pace. Port Angeles is by by no means a big city but there is a pace that we are not used to. Even in this small town, the hustle and bustle is un-mistakable. People have somewhere to be and they need to get there now. We experienced a lot of “island time” in the Great White North. Canadians didn't seem to be in as much of a rush...even in the couple of big cities we visited, the pace was much slower. People stopped and talked to us for no reason other than to say hi, or sometimes when we looked lost (which we were) someone would stop and help us find our way. There were a few times where we either dropped anchor in a bay or pulled up to a dock that someone would come out of their house and come all the way over to where we were to either give a welcoming “hello”, offer a ride while we were visiting their small town, or just to let us know where they lived in case we needed help with anything...really a collectively friendly group of people.

We haven't had a phone or reliable internet access for about 3 months which I thought was really great. Brenda wasn't as happy not having a phone and is thrilled to have her phone back in her hands and working. For as long as I can remember, my cell phone was my lifeline to the world and I would never think about not having it within arms reach. A few months away from my phone was liberating. It feels strange to have it back in my hands and to be toting it around everywhere. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, although the convenience of a smart phone is pretty nice.

I wasn't really ready for cars and traffic and hustle and bustle but it is nice to be around people again. It's also nice to be able to look up stuff on Google whenever we want because there is wifi everywhere and our smart phones have a good and reliable signal. Food, gas, and diesel is a lot less expensive in the States and the stores here are stocked with fresh produce that you would actually want to eat. It's easy to find a good cup of coffee just about anywhere here. Yep, it's good to be back, even if we are only back for just a little bit.

We learned more on this trip than I thought was possible. Not only did we learn about what this cruising lifestyle really means to us, but we also learned a lot about our boat and what we like and dislike in a boat, what we like and dislike about traveling by boat, and most importantly, how we handle ourselves together for weeks on end in a tiny little space with no one else to talk to. We have planned this trip for so long and really didn't know what this would be like. It's one thing to think about how things are going to be and read about other people's's a totally different thing to actually do this and live the experiences and decide whether or not we like these things that we have been planning on doing for years. Luckily we like these things...if we didn't, the last 20 years of planning and effort would have been a huge waste of time and energy.

One of the hardest things for me this summer was the lack of sailing on our sailing trip. We ended up motoring most of the time. We did have some great days of sailing and some rough weather that gave us and our boat a bit of a test, but the majority of the time, we listened to the rattle of the engine for hours on end. There just wasn't enough wind, or there was way too much wind in the wrong direction, or we had to be at a certain spot to run rapids with the current and tides at a specific time so we didn't have time to sail. Pretty disappointing really.

We have traveled a total of 1,421 miles by boat this summer at an average speed of 6.2 knots (that is 7.4 miles per hour which any way you look at it is slow). That works out to 229 hours of traveling which also works out to just about the same amount of time it would take to drive from Seattle to New York City in your car non-stop 5 times...5 times to New York City in a car in a 3 month time frame. It was a lot of travel time.

Luckily, while we are in travel mode, we can move around in the boat. It's our home so anything that you would normally do at home (other than yard work because we don't have a yard) we can do while we are traveling. On most days we would only be traveling for a few hours and if the weather was mild, we would take turns driving and the other person was free to do whatever we wanted. Sometimes we would fish, sometimes we would read, sometimes Brenda made bread, or we would just lounge around and soak up the scenery and sun. Sometimes if the weather was rough it was all hands on deck because it would take both of us to manhandle the sails. On the long travel days, after she exhausted all of her mellow activities, Brenda would have a tough time sitting still so she would typically clean like a mad woman. I would typically pretend I was Captain and would be content to drive the ship for hours on end (Brenda actually rules the ship and is the Captain). Whatever it was that we did for all of those hours in motion, it worked for us and we made it back safe and sound and with only a little bit more madness than when we left.

In between all that time traveling we explored 71 different places in the 3 months. Not too much sitting still for us. When I look back at our list of places that we visited, I am sort of amazed that we saw so much. We didn't figure out how to slow down. We raced through each place and then moved on to the next. Brenda called it “the 3 G's of traveling”. 1. Get there. 2. Get it done. 3. Get out of there. We saw and did a lot and have mastered the 3 G's.

The first month or so of the trip we were exhausted. I don't think we realized how tiring exploring was going to be. We woke up exhausted and we crashed at the end of the day exhausted. Not only were we hiking and exploring our brains out, but the constant motion of the boat was demanding. No matter what we were doing, there was always some muscle that was being used to keep us from falling over. The boat is always moving...even while we are anchored in a bay...sometimes it's gently rocking and sometimes it's trying to throw you across the room when you least expect it. Try sitting on your couch to read while someone is behind the couch trying to push you over by tipping and shaking the couch...for hours on end. Or imagine that your house has a 20 degree tilt so that everything is at a steep angle and you have to try to walk uphill all the time...and while your house is tilted, there's an earthquake so everything is shaking and moving around. This is daily life. It took us a while to get used to the motion.

I've heard other more experienced cruisers say that this lifestyle is 10% boredom, 10% sheer terror, and 80% pure bliss...most people shoot for the 80% pure bliss. So far the numbers are pretty accurate, although we didn't really have any sheer terror (yet), we definitely had some times that got our hearts pumping and made us wonder if this adventuring is a good idea. We had some of the boring stretches but mostly things were really great...pure bliss. Freedom is a wonderful thing. It's really hard to accurately describe the feeling of being able to go anywhere we want and do anything we want at anytime we want. I guess I would put that feeling into the pure bliss category.

So that's the basic rundown of the last 3 months. We spent a lot of time traveling. We saw amazing things and explored a lot of places. We learned a lot. We had tons of fun and really enjoyed each others company. We decided that this lifestyle is definitely for us. Freedom is truly a wonderful thing.   


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