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!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nirvana Is In Florida .. FINALLY!


After reviewing our blog, I realized that my last post was about our solar panel project. Since then, we actually left the dock in Louisiana! Leaving the dock wasn't easy, and realizing that our teak bowsprit was rotten just days before leaving didn't help! We were determined to not let this setback stop us from leaving, and with the help of a friend a new bowsprit was built and installed within a week! The new bowsprit was made by gluing pieces of Mahogany and Ipe wood together and then varnishing. Actually, it wasn't near as easy as it sounds, but that's the basics of it. We are so thankful for our friend's help. Without him, we may have been set back for many more weeks .. thanks Martin! 
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After finishing the bowsprit, we needed to install our new Mantus anchor .. it's a beast!


 After installing the anchor, we tackled a lot of last minute projects. There were so many things that needed to be done at the last minute, like storing our truck at my Dad's place, filling up the jerry cans, hauling our dinghy from storage & getting it inflated and placed on the bow, filling up our boat with groceries, and all sorts of random things. We were exhausted the night before we left, and our heads didn't hit the pillow till around 11pm that night. We didn't even have time to hang out with our dock friends for a farewell drink! But, we were already leaving a few weeks later than anticipated and we weren't pushing back our departure date for even one more day. So, our dock friends watched while they drank for us! 


We got everything done and were up at sunrise the next morning and ready to go.


On November 18th, we finally left the dock and headed East! It was a beautiful day, and it felt so good to FINALLY be headed somewhere new. We'd been waiting for this day a long time! It's weird, because I always planned about writing about the days leading up to this experience, but we were so busy making it happen that I just didn't have the time. Let me just say ... it was so surreal to actually leave the dock, and so exhilarating! Here's a quick video taken just minutes after leaving the dock ...


 We went through the Rigolets bridge, and then began our journey into unfamiliar territory. We entered the Mississippi Sound and stayed in Gulfport, MS the first night. Our first day was fun, with calm seas and blue skies! 




On the second day, we motored to an anchorage in Pascagoula, and on the 3rd day (my birthday) we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and enjoyed the company of dolphin while drinking coffee in our cockpit. I couldn't capture the dolphin, but there were a lot! It was so peaceful, and I couldn't think of a better way to start my birthday!


After we pulled up the anchor, we passed Dauphin Island and crossed Mobile Bay, which was like glass. We had a perfect day, being often escorted by dolphin and as an added bonus ... the "Blue Angels" were practicing overhead! Ken said he ordered them for my birthday .. LOL! That afternoon, we pulled into Lulu's alongside the ICW to celebrate my 53rd birthday, and the fact that we were now in Alabama .. and exactly 10 years ago we bought Nirvana! It was a birthday that will never be forgotten! The first photo below is just after crossing Mobile Bay and entering the canal of the ICW.




The following day, a water pump that we ordered the day before arrived (already dealing with the unexpected) and Ken was able to replace it without any problems. Luckily, the guy working at the marina gave us a ride to the hardware store and to Wal-Mart .. yes, the boating community is great! After two nights at Lulu's "Homeport Marina", we were on our way to Pensacola.

The passage from Lulu's to Pensacola was pretty interesting. It started down the ICW canal, which had a busy highway to our starboard side for a while. The highway was later replaced with beautiful homes along the way, and the area looked very similar to the canals back home. We then entered an area of really cool sand dunes. Once again, we were escorted by dolphin and treated to another "Blue Angels" show! I tried to capture this on my cheap phone, but just couldn't.

When passing the sand dunes, it was a pretty narrow passage. We were glad to have our chart plotter to stay on course! BTW, our "chart plotter" was an app (Aqua Map) on our iPad, and I'll be writing a post dedicated to it soon because it was so cheap and so easy. I swear, it's so much better than our expensive Lowrance and we love it! Below is a pic of it taken just after leaving Lulu's ...



After running for weeks, we were exhausted when we finally arrived in Pensacola mid-day. We decided to get some rest and dock near Pensacola Beach for a few days. The location was just what we needed! The beach was a short walk away, as well as "Happy Hour" and beautiful sunsets from our cockpit. See that sailboat on the outside dock facing the trawler? That's Nirvana! The very first photo in this post was taken from Nirvana one evening .. we loved the view!



After a few days of exploring the Pensacola Beach area, we moved our boat to a marina along the ICW in Pensacola for the holidays.


You see, we got a late start leaving Louisiana and we didn't beat the cold. Add to that the fact that not only one .. but two of our tenants gave their notice that they were vacating our rentals! For us, it made sense to stay nearby to repair and rent our rentals ourselves instead of paying a small fortune for someone else to do it for us. As much as we want to continue our sailing journey, we don't wanna freeze and we don't want it to cost us thousands of extra dollars when we're on a small budget!

So, we decided to rent a car and take the 3 hour drive back home to visit with family for Thanksgiving. Our daughter and her family were also in town from Colorado! Since Thanksgiving, we got our truck back from my Dad's place and we've been spending time between one of our vacant rentals and our boat in Pensacola. Luckily, our rental has a washer, dryer and refrigerator and the house doesn't require many repairs. We're once again sleeping on an air mattress, which brings back memories of our time in Puerto Rico

It's been pretty nice having a "condo" in Pensacola and a house in Louisiana to go back & forth to. In Orange Beach, we went to a fun Christmas parade that threw tons of candy. I liked the candy much better than the beads we get in New Orleans! We've also enjoyed the Christmas lights in downtown Pensacola and Perdido Key, as well as our traditional visit to New Orleans for drinks and tours of some of the well known hotels that are decorated for Christmas. The first photo is the famous Roosevelt Hotel lobby ..


and Fulton Street always has a huge tree and gingerbread display!


This year was our first visit to the Ritz Carlton to see their Christmas display. Their lobby was also beautiful, and they also had a gingerbread display creation of their own!




The best surprise at the Ritz .. free gumbo! It was really good too!


While waiting for warmer weather and our rental to be vacated, we decided to fly to Colorado for Christmas to see our "kids"! We enjoyed a beautiful "White Christmas" and I cried when they dropped us off at the airport. Our lil man will be two years old in less than a month!



We arrived back in Louisiana just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends. Our other rental will be vacant soon, and we're hoping it's not in too bad of shape. The bad thing is that our currently vacant rental hasn't rented yet, but the good thing is that we have a comfortable place to stay during the Winter and while working on our other rental. When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade!

Ken's also picked up a few jobs while in Louisiana .. may as well make money while he can! We'll continue to make the best of our situation and enjoy both Louisiana & Florida. The views from our cockpit in Pensacola are pretty awesome and the sunsets are gorgeous .. I'll get a picture one of these times. Being next to the ICW, we often see dolphin too .. so rare in Louisiana! 


So what's our plans when the weather gets warmer in the Spring? We're not exactly sure. Since our rentals will always need to be dealt with (and a property manager would suck up our budget), we may decide to continue to stay closer to home. There's a ton of exploring to do in the Florida Panhandle, as well as in between there and Louisiana. We'll get it figured out!

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