Friday, May 26, 2017

Simplifying!


Since moving aboard just almost two weeks ago, I figured I'd share some of what we went through to get to this point and to downsize yet again. This "simplifying" thing has been hard work .. especially when still working full-time and tackling a ton of boat projects! We've been downsizing since October, 2014 when we sold our house and moved into a 2-bedroom condo.  At that time, we got rid of a ton of stuff and stored a few sentimental things at my dad's oversized garage. After a year, we downsized again to a 1-bedroom, furnished condo. That's when we sold all of our remaining furniture and brought a few more things to my dad's place.

A year and a half later, we just moved again and went through the last few things we had in our furnished condo. We vacuum-sealed our winter clothes (pic below) that we decided to keep and we moved them to free storage along with some of Ken's tools, kitchen items & sentimental items that we want to keep.  It's definitely nice to have a place for free storage.


We also moved things that will go onto the boat to either our part-time beach condo (the closet is packed) or our temporary storage unit that we have been using for Ken's work storage. Since we're still tackling electrical work and a few other interior boat projects, we're not quite ready to fill the boat up with our stuff.  For now, we're roughing it on Nirvana.

Since we were lucky enough to have free storage for sentimental items & other things, "letting go" wasn't as difficult as it could have been, but I wouldn't call it easy. While it was hard to part with some items that we've always held close, it was comforting to know that they'd be waiting for us someday. I went through a ton of costume jewelry, and threw most of it away. Boy, those earrings were huge in the 80's! I held on to a few things to give to my daughter, along with a few valuable items. We're still holding on to a few tiny items that we'll have to make decisions on at some point .. but not just yet.

Ken & I aren't fancy dressers, but we still seem to have a ton of clothes! We'd donated a lot of clothes when moving into the 1-bedroom condo, but it was time to donate again. As mentioned earlier, we stored our winter clothes that we wanted to keep. It's the summer clothes that have me scratching my head! I know that the elements will cause us to renew our wardrobe when on the boat, so how can I get rid of these good clothes?! The truth is .. I can't! With the beach condo available, I've stored way more summer clothes than I can keep on Nirvana. I figured that I'll enjoy the clothes this summer, get rid of what's worn out by then, and then decide what I can fit on Nirvana. Whatever can't fit could be vacuum-sealed in tiny bags & given to our daughter for mailing in the future. This would save money later, and give me piece of mind now.

While "roughing it" on Nirvana, we'll pretty much be living out of duffel bags that we'll bring back & forth about once a week to the condo. When at the condo, we're able to wash clothes at its laundromat. Before the condo came along, we figured we'd be sitting in a laundromat for an hour. Instead, we'll be able to hit the beach, pool or whatever while the laundry is done .. we're so glad this condo came about! Once we get a our new LED lights installed & tackle the electrical, we'll fill up our closet & four tiny drawers with some clothes .. no more duffel bags!

Storage bins in the aft cabin will soon be in place, and then we can really start to bring more items aboard and get things organized. The tools will be removed from the galley and we can set up our kitchen. We ordered a bunch of reusable ice packs that we'll freeze in our Engel and transfer to our ice box. We're hoping this system works, and until the ice packs come in we've been buying ice to store water and ham for sandwiches. We're both still finishing up loose ends at our jobs and we've always brought our own lunch .. buying it everyday adds up! We have been buying cheap take-out for dinner lately and can't wait to install our grill and mess around with our alcohol stove. Here's my fortune from Chinese take-out the other night .. I like it!


We got our 12v television a few days ago, and it's sitting on top of our navigation table until we get it mounted. We bought a HD antenna (50% off at local Radio Shack closing) and have been able to get our favorite local news station in the morning, as well as quite a few other stations. We haven't watched much tv the past two weeks, and we haven't missed it. However, we have been enjoying it in the mornings before work & in the evenings when we're done for the night. Nirvana's salon is pretty comfortable & cozy! 

Since we've "cut the cord" when moving out of the condo, we're saving over $100 a month on basic cable & internet. We've looked into getting a "hot spot" on our mobile phone for internet, which would allow us to use our laptop (using office computer for now) & stream movies n stuff on our Roku. It will only cost an additional $15 a month on our phone bill, so we'll be adding a hot spot soon. We'll still be saving about $90 a month by not having internet & cable through the local cable company. It feels good to stop giving them our business .. their prices are crazy!

We've been "simplifying" a long time now, so we're taking our time making Nirvana our home. Organization is the key to moving onto a small boat, so I'm sure we'll be moving things off & on until we get it all figured out. Meanwhile, we're diggin' our new home. It's an adventure!

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Beach Town Living!


As I mentioned in an earlier post, we took possession of a condo one block from the beach just before vacating our boring condo near our boat in Louisiana. It's weird how fate stepped in at just the right time and threw this opportunity right in our laps! It sure is making the transition to living aboard and getting Nirvana ready for cruising a lot easier.

The photo below is the entrance to our condo's complex, and the photo above is the marina just one block away. So where is this condo located? It's in a little beach town in Mississippi called Bay St. Louis. It's a cool lil town that Ken & I have often visited, as it's only about 35 minutes from Slidell, where Nirvana is located & where we have lived since childhood. It's also just minutes away from Biloxi, Gulfport & Pass Christian, where we once marched in a parade for the Honorary Mayor of Key West, Mayor Gonzo!

The town was devastated during Hurricane Katrina, but has rebuilt into a charming community .. with a new marina! In fact, Bay St. Louis was named one of the "Top Ten Small Beach Towns in the Country" by Coastal Living Magazine in 2014. The marina is on the bay, which opens into the Gulf of Mexico and also has a nice beach area. Parallel to the bay is Main St., which is filled with cafes, bars, boutiques & live music. Side streets are a mix of cute cottages that are both residences and more boutiques & cafes. Our condo is one block off Main St., which means we can walk everywhere! The entire area is full of gorgeous live oaks trees, which really makes this a beautiful area for us to retreat to every now & then. (Note the fallen oak tree in the photo below .. we've had some rough weather lately. So glad the other oak tree survived!)


Below is a photo of the bay and the Bay Bridge, with a peek of the beach just left of the pier. Just outside of this photo to the right is the marina .. then about 8 more miles of beach!


Below is a photo from one of the afternoons that we made a quick trip to drop off some items at the condo. This is a popular bar named Bouy's that has live music every weekend. The "hot spot" on Main Street is between this bar & the marina. Like New Orleans, you can walk around the streets with alcohol in hand! There's also tons of golf carts .. bar hopping & roaming the streets. As you can see, just past this bar is a stretch of beach. There's a 4.5 mile concrete bike path, and the beach continues on another couple of miles to the Silver Slipper Casino .. a place we like to go every now & then for $5 blackjack and cheap, good buffets!


Here's a few quick pics (poor quality) I took at night .. I can't wait to walk the beach or bicycle the neighborhood & take some photos of this area!




As I mentioned in an earlier post, our first stay was for Mother's Day then we were back to Nirvana for the week. This past weekend we headed back to the condo in hopes of avoiding the storms in Slidell. While the storms followed us, there was a break in the weather just in time for the annual "Pirate Day in the Bay" parade! The parade starts at the marina, and we watched the pirates line up.
 


The pirates took to the streets!



There was a band, the "Raw Oysters" marching club, and several golf cart "floats", which threw beads, pirate trinkets & oyster shells. We caught some beads .. wish I could have gotten one of the shells!




The parade ended at "The Ugly Pirate" .. a tiny bar just steps away from our condo. This bar is where the locals hang out, and they have great pizza. In fact, this is where fate stepped in and the beach condo came into our lives!

So many things fell into place that night in late March. Ken & I had taken a ride to Bay St. Louis for a change of scenery, and we'd stayed a while on Main Street enjoying music & beer. We were getting hungry and decided to try out the pizza at "The Ugly Pirate". We'd never been there before and had been wanting to try it out. It was just off the main drag and probably a bit more laid back. As we walked to the bar, we passed a set of condos and noticed how pretty the setting was. We briefly thought how cool it would be to live at a place like that .. so close to the beach & the bars. We sat at "The Ugly Pirate" a while, enjoying pizza & live music. We watched all the golf carts come & go, and really began to realize how cool this town was.

We had paid the bill and were just about to leave when I noticed a familiar truck pass by. It was our daughter's in-laws .. what were they doing here?! We decided to wait until they arrived and say "hello".  As we talked, they mentioned that they were in the area because they were meeting "friends of a friend" to look at a condo ... at the same complex we had admired earlier that day! They were thinking of renting one for 6 months & looking for another couple to split the 2-bedroom with them. Just about the time they casually asked if we'd wanna go in with them, their friends showed up and they left to look at the condo. We didn't know if they were really serious, and we didn't know if they were coming back anytime soon so we headed home.

The entire way home I kept thinking about that condo. Were they really serious? Should I call them in the morning? Wouldn't it be cool to have a condo in a beach town to make the transition easier? After all, we were about to give our 30-day notice to our landlord and Nirvana really wasn't as far along as we'd hoped.

The next morning I texted our daughter's mother-in-law .. I didn't wanna put her on the spot. I asked her how she liked the condo, and she replied that it "was pretty nice". Hmmm .. what next? I then texted her & said to let us know if they were serious and wanted another couple to share the condo with. She asked if I was serious, and I wasted no time saying "YES!". We talked on the phone, and she said that she'd been talking to another couple but they hadn't committed. Sight unseen, I said we were in. By mid-April, we were signing a 6 month lease! We borrowed a bed from my dad, our kids contributed a futon, kitchen table & entertainment center, we brought our two tvs & a bunch of kitchen stuff that won't fit on Nirvana, and our "roommates" have provided a bunch of cool stuff for the condo & the beach. We love it!

Oh, and did I mention this place is cheap?! It's just over $350 month for our half .. and it's really nice. We're saving about $600 bucks a month by switching condos! Plus, our condo is right outside the pretty in-ground pool and grill area. We've already met a few of the neighbors .. all extremely nice, all about our age, and a few of them also sharing with another couple. It seems that every weekend everyone gets together and hangs out ... pinch me!

Now, what are the odds of this happening?! We'd never been to this bar, we were just about to leave, we just happened to run into our extended family, and we just happened to rent a condo in the same place we had been admiring! If we hadn't seen them that night, none of this would have happened .. and talk about perfect timing with vacating our other condo! Also, since their son is married to our daughter .. it's all family. The kids came down the past two weekends .. we're already making priceless memories with them! 

We'd like to think that this is a sign of things to come, and that this was a little "push" in the direction we want to go. If this condo hadn't been available, I have a feeling that we'd have stayed past mid-May in our boring condo. We probably would have stay another 4-6 weeks until our jobs were complete & Nirvana's electrical and lights were done. The beach condo helped us keep our goal of getting on the boat by mid-May, and we now have an awesome place to enjoy the beginnings of our "unemployment"!  

I tell ya, we hated our boring condo in Slidell. I mean .. hated! While we love the city that we've grown up in, there's just not much to do. Now we have all sorts of things to do .. bicycling, walking on the beach, hanging out & enjoying live music, roaming the streets & people watching .. all sorts of stuff! We've already enjoyed sitting on the beach Mother's Day evening with our "roommates". We packed a small cooler with beer and we were set .. drinks in hand & toes in the sand! Behind us was live music from the bars .. life is quickly changing for the better. We're already getting a taste of freedom. It's kinda surreal, and part of us fears it'll be snatched away somehow. Places further South are in our thoughts, and we're just hoping Nirvana does indeed take us there.

We never know what's around the corner, and we'll only find it if we look!

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