Wow, sensory overload!
We landed in Florida and immediately started getting our lives together. No phone, no car, no house…no worries. The day we arrived in Stuart, Mommy rented a car and with wheels we promptly checked into US customs. On the way home we activated two cell phones and then rented a small locker to hold all of our accumulated stuff as we prepared the boat for sale. Once connected we could call the host of contractors and schedule the work that was needed to bring Rafiki up to speed.
So what were our initial impressions of life ashore? Noise, lights, and people! The traffic was chaotic and the drivers are either 100 years old and slow, or 20-year-olds with a Darwin complex. I walked on deck one evening and the first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t see the stars, lots of spot lights but no stars. The water in the harbour is filthy and we can’t even see the bottom much less go swimming. On top of this we seem to be waiting for everything; street lights, banks, grocery stores, movies etc. The flip side is I no longer wake up and immediately check the power levels and we leave the water running when we brush our teeth. We broke out the toaster and I think I even heard a blow dryer the other day. Power and water, our perennial challenge while on the hook, are a non-issue in the marina. I must admit that I do appreciate the creature comforts of air-conditioning, overstocked grocery stores and the convenience of a vehicle. I don’t like the fact that we all seem to be glued to a computer, meals have become more haphazard, and we seem to be running around like chickens with our proverbial heads cut off.
While we have not really been gone from North American society for 2 1/2 years, we all notice that some things have really changed. First of all, gas is crazy cheap! People are sucking on cigarette vapour things hanging around their necks (which make no sense to me). The classified UAVs that I worked on in the military are not $400 at Best Buy with better resolution and avionics. TVs are no longer flat but now come in a curved shape providing fabulous definition. In restaurants, they have electronic devices on the table to pay your bill. There are so many new Apps and communication methods that I don’t think we will ever catch up, although I have discovered texting and sent my first text last week (I really like the direct, no fluff way of communicating and it seems much more useful than learning about all of my “friend’s” inane daily routines on Facebook). The I-Phone 6S has come out and you two are interested in buying your own phones which I just discovered will cost more than my first car and required a monthly payment the size of a mortgage! Star Wars just released the eight or ninth sequel/prequel and we are unable to engage in any conversations that include social references to TV shows or movies that have taken place in the past two years. Unfortunately, the Kardashians’ two minutes of fame seems to be dragging itself out and we are approaching one the most bizarre election in the States that I can remember. Hillary or Donald, one cannot turn around without someone having very strong opinions and resigned pessimism about the state of American politics. All the changes aside I think everyone is really glad to be ashore and back in Stuart.
We thought it would take three months to transition back to Ottawa and the house was scheduled to be occupied until the end of June. I thought we would need a month to get Rafiki ready, a month to market her and a month to close the deal. While I was coordinating the repair of windows, generators, servicing the engines, buffing the hulls, changing running rigging, etc. Mommy was busy clearing the boat of all extraneous clutter. We sold the outboard, spare anchor, guitars, Brownie, and donated many bags of other stuff. Mommy was looking for places to rent in Florida and I was looking for a truck that we could use to drive home. We engaged Capt Bill Olsen as our broker and got the boat on Yachtworld. To make a long story short we got her ready to show in two weeks, put her on the market, and on the third day we received three offers at asking price which meant that if all went well, we would close six weeks earlier than I had planned. Now what to do?
We were unsuccessful finding a truck in Florida so Alex and I flew home the day the boat listed and were fortunate to find a good truck at a reasonable price on the second day in Ottawa. We then registered, insured, and plated the vehicle and headed to Kingston for dinner with Grandmommy. In Kingston we enrolled for health care, applied for a driver’s license, put new tires on the truck and we left for Florida the following morning. It was a bit like Thelma and Louise and as we screamed the lyrics to Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory on the Washington turnpike with Alex thrashing her hair like a 70’s headbanger, we received many bemused looks from the suits in their BMWs.
We were joined in the marina by our friends on Anomaly and our social lives instantly improved tenfold. The kids rode bikes and played games and the parents commiserated about the amount of work required to get the boats ready. As we approached the sea trials, I hauled as much stuff off the boat as possible and Mommy cleaned until I was afraid she was going to take the paint off. We continued our school routine around this chaos although most of your courses are winding down. Now that we had a truck we thought it might be fun to buy an inexpensive motor boat so you two could continue to get on the water, wakeboard and water ski when back in Canada. As if we didn’t have enough to do!
Our friend and mechanic, Steve Evans discovered a great boat rotting in the backyard of a couples house, and when we went to see it the tires were flat, the engine wouldn’t start and the boat was covered in moss…perfect. The couple was keen to sell and wanted a cash deal, so we went daily to the ATM until we had collected the 5k necessary. This whole sordid story culminated with me inside a shuttered, filthy, smoke-filled house, counting out 5k in $20 bills on the kitchen table to a grey-haired, pony-tailed hippie, as he professed to be a recovering heroin addict..!? “OK, just hold that thought, and let’s focus on this transaction….and that is where you sign…good, let’s go.” Wow, the education that we didn’t intend for a 13-year-old! We took our little diamond in the rough and after a good pressure wash and a little elbow grease, we are the proud new owners of a little run-about. Just as we were getting ready to leave Florida Steve and Glennis had their first child and we were fortunate to meet Jace when he was only two days old.
Once Rafiki was under contract there was not much for us to do so we have filled our time reconnecting with old friends that we have met in our travels. Steve and Paula, Ralph Baker, Rick and Susan and of course the Anomaly crowd. Heather was kind enough to take you four children to Disney for two days and while we missed you, I don’t really think that your mother or I missed two days at Disney.
So now with the boat sold, nowhere to live, your friends still in school, and a little cash in our pocket, what to do? We have the next two month with no obligations, no work or social schedule to confine us, and you as a captive audience we have decided to finish off our school year with a trip to Europe. The timing is perfect and what a great way to end the trip! While I thought that this might be the final blog, I get the sense that there may be an addendum to the story…