Monday, April 20, 2020

Cruising With Corona Virus?!


Like always, a lot has happened since our last post in January .. A LOT!  Who knew that when we were celebrating the start of year 2020 .. a worldwide pandemic was brewing! Before I share my thoughts on that, let me back up a bit. As mentioned in a previous post, we moved into one of our vacant rentals in Louisiana in December to fix it up & try to find a good tenant. We also had another rental about to become vacant, and long story short .. both rentals are now occupied. We moved back on “Nirvana” on March 17th in Pensacola, Florida. While in Louisiana, we enjoyed our time there and made a few visits to “Nirvana”. 

In January, we were celebrating with the College National Champions on their campus at LSU. Our daughter graduated at LSU, so we wanted to attend the parade and festivities. There was a huge crowd of fans, and we really enjoyed seeing the players ride by on the floats as the marching band played. The crowds cheered and there was so much positive energy! My how things have changed since then! I wonder when the world will be able to celebrate in such a fashion again.



While on our way back to the boat in January, we stopped at the Bay St. Louis “Mac & Cheese Chili Cook-Off”.  For $10 bucks, we ate all the samples we could stomach .. with two free beers. It was so good & really fun, but we felt like we were gonna explode when we left!



By this time, the Mardi Gras parades were in full swing and we went to quite a few of them. We usually go to the French Quarter on Mardi Gras day, but we didn’t go this time because we had two appointments to show the rental we were living in. Looking back, it was a good decision. One of those showings turned into signing a lease, and unbeknownst to us .. the virus was spreading in New Orleans! 

On another visit to Pensacola, we attended the “Bloody Mary Festival” on the boardwalk. We don’t care much for Bloody Mary’s, but we enjoyed the scenery and live music. 


In early March, we were aware of the virus but didn’t realize the severity of it at the time. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day (the week before the holiday) with friends at a parade in our hometown of Slidell. Today, Slidell has the most cases of the virus in the parish! Luckily, we don’t know anyone that has gotten sick.


Shortly after the parade, we were getting prepared to turn over our rental and head back to “Nirvana” for good. Our other rental was rented on March 1st and we had nothing holding us back .. or so we thought! As we drove to our boat after turning over our rental, the seriousness of the virus was starting to sink in. The Mississippi beaches had just closed, as were many other places throughout the country. We stopped at one of the beaches on our way to Florida, and while beautiful & peaceful .. it was surreal to see it so empty!


We returned to Florida and were excited that winter was over, our rentals were occupied, and we were “home”! However, we were beginning to realize that our plans of enjoying the Florida Panhandle’s beaches, festivals, live music, and  “ happy hours” may not come to fruition. Even more, our thoughts of possibly sailing to the Florida Keys in April seemed unlikely.


Before we knew it, the nation was in full lockdown and our lives (and everyone’s lives) were changed. We now wash our hands constantly, are aware of everything we touch, and reluctantly go to the grocery store & laundromat when it’s necessary. We leave our non-perishable groceries to sit in our cockpit, and in the sun, for several hours before bringing them into the boat. We call our family often to make sure they’re doing the same. These times make us even more aware of how precious they all are. Thank goodness for “FaceTime” and photos sent by phone! We sure do miss this lil dude and their parents!


 We’ve been taking this virus seriously, and making sure we practice “social distancing”. It sucks when there are so many nice folks here at the marina, but we can’t get to know them better. The days of cocktails shared on our boat (or theirs) are gone in fear of the virus. We probably appear “weird” and/or “anti-social” to those nearby that aren’t practicing social distancing. Yeah, it sucks to be the outsider, but we wanna remain healthy so “weird” we are.

The marina has a great place for parties .. someday!


Even though we’re on lockdown, we still find a lot of ways to pass the time. The first couple of weeks were spent cleaning every nook & cranny of Nirvana’s interior. After almost 4 months of sitting in cold, damp weather ... she needed it! Since then, we’ve been taking scenic drives and lots of walks. There’s a beautiful little subdivision next to the marina that we love to walk through. It has winding roads adorned with oak trees & beautiful homes surrounded by white picket fences and flowers. Smelling the flowers & watching people work in their yards brings a sense of normalcy for a little while.


We’ve also found some waterfront parks to walk around for a change of scenery. Pensacola is a lot bigger than we realized, with so many pretty areas to explore!




When we’re at the marina, there’s always lots of activity ... there’s dolphin, paddle boards, kayaks & boats of all sizes on the ICW, people fishing, and even a free air show by the “Blue Angels” every Tuesday-Friday morning! Around 11:30 on those mornings, we are treated to about 30 minutes of practice by these cool Navy jets. They perform tricks & literally fly right over our boat! I’m working on a little video of their show, so watch for that in the near future.


I’m really good at killing time, so I fill the remaining hours with yoga & strength training workouts, calling friends & family, cooking (more than ever thanks to pandemic) & washing dishes. Let me tell ya .. cooking & washing dishes on our small sailboat takes a long time, and I seem to always be washing something! Another thing that takes longer to wash .. ourselves! The marina doesn’t have showers, so we’re taking showers in our cockpit. It’s really not bad, and there’s something about it that’s kinda freeing. If we were at an anchorage with privacy & the ability to jump in the water, it’d be great! 

I even started taking free ukulele lessons online by “Fender”. I’m just getting started, and unfortunately those 3 years of childhood guitar lessons have been no help. I’ve forgotten everything!


Another thing I haven’t done since I was a child .. color in a coloring book! Our daughter gave me a coloring book with colored pencils for Christmas a few years ago, and I finished my first masterpiece this past Friday. It’s more detailed coloring, but it was fun and I’m ready to start another one soon.


As the day comes to an end, we often sit in our cockpit to watch the sunset while listening to music and drinking a couple of beers. 



I swear, I sometimes feel guilty that I’m able to kill so much time not doing much of anything. I still have a book to read, friends to call & movies to watch. I wanna get a fishing pole & fish off the marina’s dock. We have a kayak ready to be inflated, and anchorages to explore with “Nirvana”. I haven’t picked up the ukulele in over a week, and it took me over a month of being on the boat to write this post! 

Our mornings are lazy, with coffee and watching the news on tv. The news is sobering, and we probably shouldn’t watch so much of it every morning & night. There are so many folks suffering, and we are truly living in unprecedented times. By the time I finish coffee, do my workouts, get cleaned up, watch the “Blue Angels” on most days, eat lunch, wash dishes, call family, check Facebook (more than I should throughout the day), take a walk or drive, hang out in the cockpit, cook dinner, eat, wash dishes ... the day’s over!

This past weekend, we decided to visit downtown Pensacola and support a local distillery by purchasing their homemade hand sanitizer and a Bushwacker .. so good! Love the guy’s t-shirt .. we’re doing our part!


We then supported a local brewery by purchasing a couple of beers. We drove to a nearby park and drank them while watching folks picnicking & walking around .. while keeping their distance. Ken likes the IPA’s and I like the dark coffee stouts!




It felt good to walk around downtown & see others walking around and buying beer, pizza, ice cream & stuff “to go”. While the streets were sparse, there were enough people around to make things feel almost normal. Businesses were making money .. and people were spending! It gave us hope that things will get better soon.

We sometimes get anxious during this pandemic, and we feel lucky to be “stuck” in such a beautiful area.  Stepping outside .. or just out into our cockpit, helps us relax. I’ve always said that getting outside & in touch with nature is great medicine, and it sure does help to be living on the water. We’ve been kinda frozen mentally with taking “Nirvana” out. This pandemic just seems so surreal & we’ve been trying to wrap our heads around it. I think we’ll be taking her out soon . and inflating that kayak too! 

Our cozy lil cabin inside ain’t so bad either! We’ve been keeping the bed set up in the salon .. perfect for lounging and television.


I hope all of you reading this post are doing well. Our hearts go out to all of those suffering from this virus ... there are so many. They’re dealing with illness, death, financial hardship, isolation, loneliness .. it’s just so sad. We’re doing okay, so we’re thankful. We hope you’re doing okay too .. and remember to wash your hands!

Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2019 - Year in Review!

Making friends in Puerto Rico!

It's that time again .. a look back at the past year. Damn, it goes fast! So much happened in 2019 ... as with every year that passes by us. We wrapped up 2018 in Puerto Rico, and spent the month of January, 2019 there as well. Ken & I fell in love with Puerto Rico ... the beautiful beaches, the lush rain forest, and the amazing people. We knew we'd be back!






We returned home just in time to celebrate our grandson's first birthday with our family in February .. he's so cute, and growing was too fast!


February was also Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and we always take part in the fun!


By the end of March, we were back in Puerto Rico ... buying a beach house


Our beach house needed a lot of work, and for 3 months we worked our butts off getting it ready to rent on Air Bnb.



While we made many new friends in Puerto Rico (and now have open invitations to return), we sold our investment property after just a few months. It was a difficult decision, but our investment turned out to be more than we anticipated, so we cut our losses and moved on. Our plans didn't turn out as we'd hoped, but we have no regrets. Living in Puerto Rico for a few months was a great experience! One of these days I hope to write about the fun times and beautiful places we visited. Until then, you can read more about why we sold our house and see the work we did on it here.

We recovered from our disappointment by celebrating the 4th of July with family in Destin, Florida!





We then settled back on Nirvana and began more projects.


We finally got the sails back on Nirvana and got her back on the water!





In August, we were headed off again! This time, we were headed to Colorado to help our daughter, son-in-law & grandson move. We helped them load up a U-Haul and followed them in their vehicle for a two day road trip. We hated to see our kids leave Louisiana, but were excited for them. They wanted to live near the mountains, and they settled in a beautiful town just North of Denver and near Rocky Mountain Park. At least we'll have a great place to go when we visit them! 

When we got back home we took a boat trip to nearby Mandeville and stayed overnight. It was so good to be back on the water and using our sails!





In October, we were back in Colorado to have fun with our kids and family. The last visit was mostly work and we wanted to check out more of the many breweries and sights nearby. We can see why our kids love Colorado .. it's beautiful!





Once back home on Nirvana, we finished up some more boat projects. One of the projects was to add solar panels ... we're now able to anchor without worrying about draining our batteries!


On November 18th (and two days before the 10th anniversary of buying "Nirvana"), Ken and I finally left the dock! We took Nirvana into the Mississippi Sound for new adventures. We'd been working towards this day for so long .. it seemed so surreal! We had a great time heading towards Pensacola, Florida and wondered why this passage had been so intimidating. We had great weather, which makes all the difference. 




With a few unexpected setbacks and cold weather on our backs, we decided to dock Nirvana in Pensacola for the Winter. The Florida Panhandle has so many beautiful areas to explore when the weather is warmer! 

With Nirvana secured, we rented a car and took the 3-hour drive back home to visit family for Thanksgiving. Before we knew it, we were flying to Colorado to spend Christmas with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. We enjoyed a "White Christmas", which is rare for us southerners!



We're now back in Louisiana, living in one of our vacant rentals while fixing it and waiting for another rental to become vacant. We're splitting our time between our "condo" in Pensacola and our rental in Louisiana, which isn't a bad way to get through Winter. There's always something going on in New Orleans, and the beaches in Pensacola are beautiful!


For the past 10 years, I've been writing an annual review. When I take the time to reflect over the past year, I'm always surprised at how much we've done .. and how many unforeseen experiences we had. While things don't always turn out as we'd hoped, we look back and agree ... life is good!

Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!
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