Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9, 2009

Friends and family,

You last heard from us on October 6 when we had just returned to our friend Larry’s house near Atlanta. The household now includes Larry (nurse, works nights), Karen (HR clerk for the local fire department, works days), and Karen’s 18-year-old daughter, Alison (budding actress, works and studies odds hours). Consequently, there is almost always someone awake and someone asleep at any given time! It's a wonderful place to be and we are very grateful to our Stone Mountain family for always making us feel so welcome.

Steve gets up at dawn and starts the boat work. At 9:00 he hands Ginny a cup of coffee and says, “Hey Babes, here’s your coffee.” She mumbles a thanks and comes slowly to life (sometimes). Except for leisurely meal breaks we have worked full days every day getting our boat ready to cruise. Along the way Ginny’s cat, Thurston, unexpectedly passed away back in Seattle with Jenna, Ben, Carley and a giant bag of catnip at her side. Now our boat is named Thurston (just as Steve’s Squeak was named for a dear, departed cat.) in her memory and in hopes that her spirit will bring us good fortune in our travels.

This last boatyard stint has been three months (already?!). In Atlanta last spring we worked four months. Before that we worked in the junkyard in Tampa for three months. Ten months total, but she’s ready!

In this last session of boat work we have finished the aft stowage locker (“lazarette”) and rowing station, applied anti-fouling bottom paint, made cabin cushions, installed a solar panel and simple electrical system, and many smaller projects. We’ve packed utilizing every cubic inch (Ginny’s specialty). We have loaded up on charts, digital maps, ebooks and simpsons episodes aplenty. Now we even have a place to leave the truck and trailer, on a guy’s property near Fort Meyers. That’s about 2/3 of the way down the Florida peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico side.

Tomorrow we leave for Florida. We will stop by Fort Walton Beach to visit good 'ole Stephen, then drop off the boat at Pine Island and zip down to Key West to see Dan and Betty before they head back to Washington. After that we plan to cruise southern Florida, plus maybe Cuba, the Bahamas, the Yucatan, and/or Belize, until spring. Then we will probably return to Larry’s, refine Thurston based on live-aboard experience, return to Washington in the summer, then start our REAL voyage in the fall. At least that’s our best guess for now. We’re pretty sure Thurston will kick ass, and we look forward to finally doing a lot of swimming, rowing, sailing, wildlife-watching, etc.

Ginny’s got some funny pictures (a few below), so take a look! Our love to you all!

Steve and Ginny

Photo Album:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009

Still working. We are getting very close to being ready to leave. Recently we've decided we need an electrical system after all. So, we installed a 12-watt solar panel and a cute little 10.5amp alarm battery. This should be sufficient to charge our phone and netbook so we can read lots of ebooks and compile more pictures for the photo-greedy among you. Speaking of which, we've uploaded 14 more to our album, a few of which are below:

In response to the $580 quote we got on a boat mattress we decided to make our own. It turned out Awesome!! We even had enough left over to make a little bed for Ginny's cat Snazz.

We also decided we needed an "anchor buddy", so we tore up some old batteries to get free lead (and yes, we were quite aware of all the many levels in which this was a terrible idea) and then broke down and bought some lead after two batteries only yielded 10 lbs worth.

We painted Thurston's name on the boat :(

... and had a tiny bit of extra time to hang out... But only while working!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009

Have you noticed lately the dramatic increase in the misery of existence? The black hole of despair eating the entire universe? Well, don't fret too much, everything will end soon enough. It is true that the world revolves (revolved) around only one creature and sure enough it must be stopping now with her passing. Presumably we will all disappear within the next few days. Thankfully.

So, go crazy! Punch your enemies, hug your cats, loot your neighborhood grocery store, and try to find some meager pleasure in our new and entirely unwelcome Thurstonless Universe.

In memory of our dearly departed fuzzy friend we have finally christened our boat, Thurston, a name that will carry with it the wisdom, dignity and pure spirit of the world's most perfect creature. Also, hopefully, it will act as a beacon to her ghost!

It's hard to remember what we were doing before, but there are some new pictures in our photo album.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29, 2009

Hi Guys,
Just a quick update as we don't have a lot to report. Larry and Karen took off on a two and a half week trip down the St. John's River in Florida and are still at it, presumably having a wonderful time.

In the meantime we've just been working as per usual. The details of that work are much more suited for Larry's Sea Pearl website, so on here we'll just offer a little summary:
We finished our Lazarette:

Painted the canoe (completing all our canoe modifications for the time being), the outside panels of the lazarette and cabin, and the inside of the boat.

We've recently worked out our tiller tamer system and fixed various little bugs. Speaking of which, we've also met various little bugs!

We still have a few small things to do, such as have a custom mattress made (pricey!!) and make sun/rain covers for ourselves and our sails. For fun we're back in the habit of watching old movies at night and Ginny has finally started working on her "year of photographs" project again. Some of you may remember she was taking an excessive number of pictures from November 06 -07 in an attempt to catalog every single day of her life. The end result is interesting and will result in some sort of massive work of digital art.

In the short term we're looking forward to Larry and Karen coming home, seeing Addison eventually (we hope!) and a visit from Ginny's old friend Stephen who will give us an excuse to take a day off and canoe the Yellow River. Stephen will be borrowing the canoe while we're gone now that he's living in Florida.

Lastly, we have unnamed our boat Pepper. Steve is leaning back towards Tusk, Ginny is thinking Snuggles Jr.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6, 2009

Friends and Family,

You last heard from us from from Calgary, Canada, when we had just begun our truck trip back to Georgia, where our sailboat is. After Calgary we crossed the plains provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. These are mightily flat and full of wheat. We camped each night in or on the margin of some vast field. Once the grill was saturated with grasshopper guts and the ground was crawling with black, lethargic crickets! The only city was Medicine Hat (named for a war bonnet that once imparted great powers to its Indian owner), but we passed through countless towns consisting of a grain silo and a few houses and stores.

Around Winnipeg the vegetation transitioned to low forest but the land remained flat. Then ponds and rock outcroppings started to appear. These features culminated in Ontario, which someone said is two-thirds water: lakes big and small, connected by beaver-choked streams. The land portion consists of rugged hills composed of ancient, Canadian Shield granite. The land is dotted with lakes, yet the lakes are also dotted with islands: 14,000 of them in Lake of the Woods alone, where we camped for two days on a pristine, forested isle. Loons called mournfully in the night, an ascending cry that slips from a lower to an upper register in mid-call. The days were hot and sunny, the water cool and tranquil. The canoe's oars and rowing station came in handy as we circumnavigated one island after another trying to comprehend this alien landscape. We want to return some day and explore Quetico Provincial Park, where in a lifetime you could never canoe all the old voyageur routes. And just across the border in Minnesota lies the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

We next drove around the north shore of Lake Superior, like a freshwater ocean with surf and rocky beaches, remote and undeveloped. Finding places to camp was easy: just drive down any faint pair of tracks into the woods until the highway noise fades in the distance then stop wherever we can turn the Isuzu around. We kept her undercarriage well polished driving over tall grass and saplings! Then we pull out the pantry (an ice-less cooler), the kitchen table (accordion case), our utensils kit, and the white gas stove in its little oven box with the pots and pans nested inside, and arrange them in a row facing the tailgate, so we can sit with them in reach. Dinner may not be any culinary magic, more likely macaroni and cheese with a can of peas. But we couldn't be more snug in our truck canopy bed, and, who knows, off among the mossy pines a moose or bear may even raise its head to the haunting wheeze of an accordion inexpertly played.

As an old sailor would say, we did our eastings in Canada but then we had to do our southings down through the States. We crossed at Sault Ste. Marie. Homeland Security welcomed us with an hour-and-a-half search and verbal grilling. They fingerprinted Steve to see if maybe he was Somebody they were looking for, but he wasn't. Sorry guys! We crossed at night so there wasnt any line, but the dozen or so personnel on duty had nothing else to do, so we didn't save any time.

Then we drove south through Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, averaging a state per day. In Detroit we we gaped at the abandoned buildings, and Ginny bought the new Modest Mouse and Cure CDs with money she found on the ground. (She keeps Steve happy by downloading old Small Faces and Stevie Ray Vaughn cuts for him. We now have his and hers MP3 players.) Disdaining freeways, We wound up and down and back and forth through Appalachian backroads until we though our tires would wear out. We camped under a bridge one night, next to a burnt-down house (meth lab?) another. The weather turned cold and wet.

Last night we crossed into Georgia. A couple hours ago we pulled into Larry's driveway. Karen lives with him now, but they had the spare bedroom waiting for us. Their hospitality overwhelms us. We now have a few weeks of final boat work before us before we can set forth in Pepper, but we have a warm home to do it in. Thank you, guys!

We hope you are all well and ready for these short days and long nights. . For more new pictures, see our corresponding photo album at: starting with the Zamboni picture.

Steve and Ginny

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009

Friends and Family,

You last heard from us from Larry’s House in Atlanta on June 21st. We had nearly completed work on our sailboat so we headed back to Washington to see people and take care of business prior to what could be an extended trip into the Bahamas or Caribbean. First we returned to St. Louis, Missouri, where we stayed with our friends Jesse and Lena again, except by this time they had had a baby, Violet.

Then we droned across Missouri, Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, and New Mexico. In Albuquerque we visited Steve's niece Kat, her (now) husband Billy, and baby daughter Kayla. We also received the new netbook computer we had ordered. Then we attended the annual Rainbow Gathering in the mountains of New Mexico, which we had heard of through Ginny's sister and a Juggalo-looking guy at a rest area in Oklahoma. It was Steve's second and Ginny's first. Fantastic, huge, lots of music, bizzare spirits, and free food, though you have to stand in lines for that. There was a rainbow inside a rainbow as we freaks went wild. This all took place above 9000' where it was surprisingly cold.

Next we went to Arizona and hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We camped a couple nights in the canyon. The temp was over 110 during the day. We sat in a stream for hours to keep cool! Then we met Jim Hogg in Phoenix and camped with him for three days around the Chiricauhua Mountains. Next stop was Ginny's grandma's house in Los Angeles, where for the second year in a row we made it to her birthday. Our arrival this year was a surprise! Almost everyone made it, even Carley, who then drove up to Washington with us.

We got back to Washington late on the 19th of July. The tasks we set for ourselves ended up taking eight weeks. Steve found a new renter for his house in Pacific and got his income taxes done. Ginny integrated the new Asus Eee into our lifestyle and helped Jenna with her clothing design business. Though we visited quite a few people we mostly stayed at Jenna and Ben's house in South Seattle. We worked on the truck (our Isuzu is better than ever now; it even drives straight when you take your hand off the wheel!), put new gunwales on the canoe, built a new waterproof accordion case, made an awesome rocking horse for Violet's first birthday, snuggled with Ginny's cats, and checked off many smaller tasks from a long To Do list.

On September 11th we finally headed back toward Pepper, who awaits us at Larry's house. We went via the Canadian Rockies, where our improved canoe has again proved its worth. We now write you now from
Calgary, Alberta, where we are also adding to our gallery of mp3 songs to listen to while we travel. We hope this finds you all well and that your lives similarly blessed with newness and love of each other, eh.

Steve and Ginny

Check out the rest of our new photos at:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

September 3rd, 2009

We've been doing more boat work, only we're still in Seattle. This time it is on our precious canoe, which has had some rot problems in the gunwales as well as sun damage to the kevlar.

Ginny has been helping her dear dude Jenna with some of the more tedious tasks of running a clothing design business as well as working on a secret project for some special people. Steve has been running wild in the streets, being productive in various dull ways (sanding gunwales, fixing dryers, changing tires, etc) and finally getting around to visiting some of his friends and family. Not really much new to say, but here are a few more pictures and a lot more can be found at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

August 7th, 2009

Trying to be better about updating... trying to be better about updating...
We've got a few new pictures in our online album at:

Since being back in Washington Steve has been fixing up and renting out his house, while Ginny has been hanging out with her best friend Jenna and her favorite, favorite cats Thurston and Snazz (plus a bunch of other awesome cats too.) This is definitely as exciting as it sounds.
Other fun things we have done include: Thrift store shopping with Jenna, truck maintanence and (one of our few purely social activities) a party at Steve's friend Tzaddi's place on Lake Union. Thanks to everyone who made it, we had a great time.

Here are some pictures of the cats we've been hanging out with. If you want pictures with humans in them you'll have to go to the photo album.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21st, 2009

We are in Seattle! Drove up from Grandma's B-day with Carley at a first leisurely, then hurried pace. Visited a bonus sister and nephew in Fresno (Us? Aunts?) and camped in a Napa vinyard among other things. We have a bottomless list of tasks to accomplish while in Seattle. Most of Ginny's involve hugging her cats, so don't expect to see much of her. Steve is planning on being less sedentary so if you want to see him you may have better luck. Give us a call or drop us a line if you're in the area. Here's some pictures of what we've been doing. More can be found in our web album at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14th, 2009

We're back in Los Angeles after a year of wandering the states. It's Grandma's birthday once again and we're planning another epic party.

In the past week or two (who can keep track) we have been exploring the Southwest. After leaving Albuquerque

we drove up to the wilderness for the Rainbow Gathering. Free food, free camping, free entertainment, filthy hippies galore and eternal drum circles. We had a great time and met quite a few characters. A video of Steve playing accordion (as shown below) will be posted on: this website at some unknown point in the future.

On our way out we visited the four corners, then on to the Grand Canyon! Woo Hoo!! We conquered the canyon over a leisurly three days and almost died at least 15 times. The temperature at the bottom was 109 in the afternoon shade. It was awesome.

On the way down to Phoenix after an early morning of dragging ourselves up out of the hot, dirty canyon we got pulled over by a Yavapai County cop who was suspicious of our filthy appearance and wanted to profile and hassle us. It was very rude. DOWN WITH YAVAPAI COUNTY SHERRIFF'S DEPT!!! We made it to Phoenix despite the Sun's attempts at murdering us. Steve's buddy Jim was down there and we all took off East for some camping adventures in the Chiricahua Mountains.

On the 12th we sped to Los Angeles, driving straight from Phoenix with nothing but ice for air conditioning. We had a picnic under a dinosaur and made it to Grandma's just in time to scare the hell out of her and mom, who were not expecting us. Particularly not expecting us to come screaming in the backdoor.

Good job us!