Friday, December 11, 2020

Back in Louisiana .. After All, It is 2020!


From the Florida Panhandle to the Honey Island Swamp .. we're back in Louisiana! I took this photo from a friend's boat recently .. it sure does bring back memories of our high school years playing on the Pearl River!

It's been 8 months since I've written a post .. I'm sorry I'm such a slacker!  Before I catch ya'll up with what's been going on in Louisiana, I wanted to share our time in Pensacola and everything in between before our trip back home.

Ken and I absolutely loved Pensacola! After spending many years a few miles further East in Destin, we were surprised how much we preferred Pensacola. It's not near as congested or expensive, and the places to go boating are awesome!  We didn't feel we were in a tourist trap, but instead in boater's paradise. We were finally living on Nirvana in beautiful water and on the ICW! With COVID in full swing in the Spring & Summer, we were grateful to be able to spend time in such a beautiful area with white sand beaches just minutes away. I think the outdoors was the only thing that kept us sane!

We did a couple of nights at anchor, which were beautiful and such a great way to escape the happenings of the world ...

We also inflated our kayak and explored the area .. our favorite paddle was across the ICW from the marina to a barrier island .. the Gulf of Mexico was just a short walk to the other side!

We never got tired of the beaches!

What we did get tired of was the numerous storms that would cause us to lose sleep at night. Being on the ICW, any bad storm seemed severe. We'd never seen Nirvana rock so much, and a couple of times we had to sleep somewhere else! During one particular bad storm in May, we decided to escape to Alabama for some camping. We hadn't camped in forever, and with our long-time friends joining us .. we had a blast. Who knew Alabama had so many hills?!

After realizing how vulnerable Nirvana was on the ICW, we decided to sail her back to Louisiana for hurricane season. We struggled with this decision, as we loved Pensacola and hoped that after COVID, we could experience some of the things we weren't able to do due to the virus. Most of the bars were closed, and the live music that we loved was nowhere to be found. We knew we'd have some amazing experiences if we left Nirvana in Pensacola and held out for COVID to be over. But, we were headed to Colorado in mid-July for the birth of our grandchild and didn't feel comfortable leaving Nirvana so vulnerable with us being so far away. By the end of June, we grabbed a weather window and were headed back to Louisiana .. it was bittersweet. However, looking back .. we made the right decision. COVID is still going strong and even worse ... a hurricane hit Pensacola and the marina we stayed out was totally destroyed. Nirvana would have perished! Several of the friends we made there lost everything. Again, we are grateful.

Knowing we'd be leaving Nirvana for at least a month while enjoying our family and the mountains, we treasured every minute of our journey back to Louisiana. 

Just as on the way to Florida, we stopped at Lulu's .. always a fun place (and we were impressed by their social distancing).

We anchored overnight at Petit Bois barrier island in Mississippi .. the same place we anchored when headed to Florida. We had a little more anchoring experience by this point, and we had a gorgeous evening at anchor! I swear, when at anchor all the problems and stress of the world just melt away!

Another night at Gulfport Marina and then we were home. As I took the photo below of the sunrise for our last day of our passage, I wondered when I'd see another sunrise from the water. It's so beautiful!

We arrived in Louisiana in the early afternoon and had no problems with our passage to Florida or back. We only got caught in one light rain storm, and luckily never got scared out of our minds! After all the years of prepping, we realized sailing to Pensacola (or most likely motoring) is not near as intimidating as we'd thought. We should have done this a long time ago!

Now here comes the crazy part .. we put Nirvana up for sale and she sold almost immediately! I know it seems crazy after all of the hard work and time we've put into her, but it was best for us at this time. You see, we try to be realistic with our future and some things occurred that gave us a wake-up call. We had COVID destroying our dreams of sailing to the Bahamas in Winter 2019 (we know folks that had terrible experiences due to lockdowns), and we had not one, not two, but three of our rentals become vacant since we left Louisiana in November, 2019. When we received the third notice of vacancy in May, we knew we had some thinking to do. It was a difficult decision, but when an offer was accepted with a purchase date before we left for Colorado .. we took it. 

Again, while our dreams have changed we feel grateful. We were fortunate to have a quick sale, and even better .. we sold it just two days after moving into one of our vacant houses! The timing was perfect, as we were able to unload our belongings from the boat to the house and then get settled just long enough to head to Colorado.

I know some folks will say we bailed .. or failed, but after over 3 years of living on Nirvana and so many experiences .. sailing to Mexico with a friend, buying (and selling) a house in Puerto Rico, helping our daughter & her family move to Colorado, exploring California while doing an emergency stint for 3 months as insurance adjusters for the wildfires .. and so many other things, we don't have any regrets. We lived! We tried different things, and we made adjustments for our situation. Sometimes dreams don't go quite as planned, but the experiences along the way can't be ignored. The memories that we created couldn't have happened if we weren't living on a boat at the time. So, I know some folks will be disappointed, but believe me .. the adventures are not over! I have a passion for travel and do not plan on stopping!

Again, looking back I sometimes think the universe guides us if we listen. Nirvana would be under water at a blown away marina in Pensacola if we'd have kept her there. Also, the Bahamas would have been blown off again this November//December due to COVID and possible lockdowns again. We respect the virus and we practice social distancing, so we wouldn't wanna go for the first time with not much socializing on our part. Finally, the house we're now living in was built by us about 4-5 years ago with the intention of moving into it someday. It's a cute little 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottage that we designed and love! (Picture below is just after we built it). When our tenant gave his notice in May, we felt like it was the final push in our decision to sell Nirvana. We had an excellent tenant and didn't want to risk a bad tenant trashing the place .. it just felt like the right time.

So, after selling the boat we grabbed our tent and drove towards Colorado. We camped along the way (blog post to come), and then spent a couple of  weeks visiting our "kids" and helping them with our grandson during the birth of our granddaughter. We were so happy to be able to spend such precious time with our family! It was also nice not to have to worry about our sailboat while so far away. It seems that every couple of weeks Louisiana is in the "cone of uncertainty"! If we'd have still had Nirvana, we would've never been able to truly relax.

 Once we got back to Louisiana, we got busy making our house our home. We built a covered patio in the back of the house, and I've been enjoying getting back to gardening and planting flowers. I'm not gonna lie .. I love having a hot shower, a full kitchen, and a laundry room! I've really gotten into cooking too! I used to hate to cook, but after cooking on a boat for a few years and buying an Instant Pot .. piece of cake! Our home is cozy for Christmas and while we definitely miss the boating life, we're where we want to be right now. We're just minutes from Lake Pontchartrain, we're near our ole friends (COVID go away!), and we hope to buy a small power boat this Summer for boating and fishing. We've already been out on our friend's boat a few times, and we've even gone crabbing! How lucky are we to drive 5 minutes, park our car, and drop some nets into the bayou?!

I hope ya'll stick around. I have more posts to write about our camping trip to Colorado and back, and more travels are in our future after COVID. We plan on building another house to replace the rental we moved into, as well as a couple more every now and then for income. We don't want to go back to the 40 hour work week! Freedom is something we're determined to hold on to.

If you're dreaming of sailing away on a boat, don't give up! We loved our time on the boat, and our experiences during that time are priceless. I'll write more about my thoughts in another post, as this is enough for now. Keep workin' towards whatever you dream .. and adjust the sails as needed!

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


Emily said...

So glad to finally read your catch-up post, as I knew most of what was going on from Facebook, but not all of it. I'm sorry that you sold Nirvana as I was hoping to experience cruising through your eyes, but I completely understand. As many lifestyle starts and stops as I've had in the past ten years, and also selling the C30 Barry and I had hoped to cruise in, I am not one to talk! You make the best decision you can at the time, and circumstances change, of course. I'm just glad you had the cute house you built to move into and that I got to meet and get to know you virtually through both having C30s at the same time, so many years ago! The most important thing is to be flexible in these crazy times we're all living in. I'll certainly keep following your future adventures. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Jaye Life Afloat said...

Wow, this is remarkable! 2020 has brought a lot of rethinking to many in our cohort; good for you for being flexible and finding the positive.

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