After a blistering few months at anchor in Grenada, we made a quick, unplanned trip back to see family in Ontario. Thoughts of vibrant Fall colours, crisp evenings, all the hot water we could consume and a serviceable washing machine, were forefront in our minds (as well as family and friends…) as we boarded the plane for Toronto.
It had been ten months since we had last been home and after the obligatory highway stop at Tim Hortons, we all started to reflect on differences, both good and bad, of our seaborne adventure. Although the obvious things like blankets, apples, a wine cellar, long pants (although I resisted) and a vehicle were immediate, there were other more subtle differences.
The first weekend we were home we drove up to Ottawa so that the girls could see their friends, and the excitement in the car was just palpable. We dropped Alex off with Olivia and Jamie, not to be seen for 36 hours, and Kathryn spent the afternoon with her close friend Lindsay. After running a few errands we joined Uncle Hugh and Auntie Sharon for dinner.
On the Monday we drove up to Mt Tremblant with our close friends (yes Dorothy…very dear, very close friends…) who were visiting from Yellowknife, to hike and see the Fall colours. It was a great mid-week “weekend” and then we drove back to Kingston. It felt like we had spent the entire week in the car, and we had forgotten how much of our lives in Canada are spent on the road!
The second thing that we noticed right away was how easy life in Canada is. You want drinking water? Turn on the tap. Want a hot shower? Use any of the three in the house. Need to get groceries? Fill your car to the roof, pay with a visa, take the car home to the garage, and load it on top of all the other food already in the fridge! Everything is right at our hands, be it food, commercial goods, health care or recreation, and all at very reasonable prices.
The final thing that we noticed right away is how friendly people were. People holding doors open for others, smiling and saying hello in the street, stopping to let pedestrians cross the now ever-present “courtesy crossings”. All these things that we took for granted suddenly became notable and noticeable. We have spent a lot of time out of the country and the common refrain that going abroad helps you appreciate home was certainly true for us.
Being home also allowed us to reconnect with old friends, eat and drink far too much good food and wine, and check on the family. We had intended to stay for three weeks but extended to six, due to some unexpected health challenges in the family. Moma was able to join us for a week which was one of the highlights of our trip.
When we finally returned, it was with some very mixed emotions. Alex would have preferred to stay in Ontario with her friends and the impending winter (an Alaska baby?), and Kathryn was starting to ride her cousin’s horse, “Marshall”, which was a real highlight for her and she was not keen to see that end. Mommy and I were getting very comfortable and into a bit of a routine, although Mommy said correctly that we are living like we are on “holiday” and not having to deal with the reality of the daily grind.
Unfortunately, Captain Jack did not make the return trip to Rafiki and will board with Aunt Donna and Uncle Peter until our return. After three cat-overboards (due to the rum no doubt) and being constrained to the boat 24/7, we realized that he was happier ashore and should save his remaining six lives for later. While you both were understanding and mature when told of our decision, you both miss Jack and look forward to reclaiming him following this trip.
When in conversation with people back home the inevitable question of “how is life on a boat?” would arise and we were both a little qualified in our answers. “Not all rum and sandy beaches” was a common starter. No one was interested in the trials and tribulations we have undergone but, for us, the greatest aspect of this trip is that every night we eat dinner together under the stars and every morning we wake up and have breakfast together overlooking the anchorage. These are precious years and we are going to savour every second of the time we get to spend with you.