Not quite retirement age

One of the coolest things about our RV trip so far is the number of “virtual friends” we’ve ended up meeting in real life. Every few weeks it seems we get in touch with or are contacted by people in the locations we travel to that we have only know over the internet. Fellow bloggers, long time blog readers, and simply folks out there who like our Vlogs and Blogs who are either living the adventure through us or are planning their own adventure. Just recently we had a great experience in Tacoma Washington meeting Mike and Melissa from the blog Little Cunning Plan!

*We somehow had way too much fun and left Mike out of all the group pictures:( Sorry Mike.

I was SOO excited to finally meet these two fellow boat refitters. It seems unlikely but we’ve been following each others journey for nearly 4 years from ocean boat ownership to refit to preparing to leave to actually cruising from opposite sides of the country. The waters they sail in Washington State are so foreign and totally different from the waters we learned to sail on in Louisiana. They are also a bit older with kids grown and out of the house.

When we were in the midst of our heavy refit for Sundowner in 2012 we delighted in watching them sail their Cal 34, SV Moonrise, so carefree around the beautiful waterways and islands in the Pacific northwest corner of Washington. Each year they took a 2 or 3 week vacation aboard which consisted of anchoring around the various beautiful rocky island spots.

Once they were dead set on sailing farther distances, like down to South America (and Galapagos) and perhaps the South Pacific and New Zealand they took a leap in the right direction and put Moonrise on the market.

Unfortunately boat markets are a funny and finicky thing and after 2 YEARS of Moonrise not selling they went ahead and bought their “for real” cruising boat, SV Galapagos, a 1975 47 foot Olympic Adventurer (Ted Brewer design). So for a time they actually owned TWO boats..that can be a REALLY scary thing but luckily great new owners soon came and took Moonrise to new pastures.

It was then that we were in the same boat so to speak. We were both refitting our boats (they also replaced their old engine with a new 60HP Beta Marine Engine, ours is a 38HP) though we were ahead of them in terms of leaving and finally in 2015 we wrapped up our refit and set sail in early January to the Caribbean and shortly to beyond. Now their goal is quit their jobs and set sail from Tacoma to start cruising indefinitely in 2017!!!

SV Galapagos

We never lost touch and I always found their story so compelling. Two people who aren’t quite the traditional retirement age, foregoing the security of the last working years to realize their lifelong dream of sailing to distant shores. They have the means through a lifetime of working and saving to take off cruising for five years or so. They don’t want to wait too long to realize their sailing dream because as time moves on unexpected thing can happen in life and in health that prevent cutting the dock lines.

You can read their story here at Little Cunning Plan.

After our time in the Snoqualmie National Forest (45 miles east of Seattle) we packed up the RV and headed to Tacoma Washington to Mike and Melissa’s (M&M) driveway and stayed a couple of days. We hit it off instantly and I’m not sure Melissa and I stopped talking for the 2 days we were there.  I LOVE their house, it’s so beautiful and has so much character. You can tell that it has been loved and there’s no question why M&M are apprehensive about leaving it.

Chihuly Glass Museum, Tacoma Washington

Leaving the dock usually isn’t easy…there are ALWAYS reasons to stay and work just a few more years. We’ve heard countless stories of people who waited until retirement age to go sailing or “add lifelong dream here” and find themselves unable to actually make it happen due to health or other life mishaps.

In our case it was VERY scary (for me at first) to leave a great paying job, one I had worked so hard to get, to travel for many years. Now that we are 20 months into our trip I don’t regret the decision at all. We hike all over the place now on this RV trip and snorkel, spearfish and sail the hell out of our boat back in the tropics. It’s easy enough for us in our health. Of course there are Plenty of retired cruisers doing just fine out there as well. To each their own.

After having been away from the working world for this time I’m able to step back and view employment differently. Tate and I have our careers still to come back to if we want but we also see another way in life. There are many flexible traveling jobs out there that we research from time to time whenever we have to go back to work.

Maybe we’ll be long haul truckers, or open a business like an RV Park or Marina, or find jobs in our fields that are in WAY outta the way places for shorter time frames so that we can work a couple of years then travel a couple of years. Who knows where life will take us.

I can’t wait to read the post where Mike and Melissa take off from the dock that final time.

We got to see their new boat Galapagos, which is BEAUTIFUL and gigantic to my Westsail 32 eyes. I’m envious in a way of all that space. Their boat was built in Greece but sailed to the Pacific Northwest sometime later, which is how M&M got a chance at her.

They also invited us out sailing with the normal Wednesday night racing crew aboard SV Blue Moon, a 1980 C&C 40′ sailboat in Commencement Bay out of Tacoma. The race committee called the race off due to light winds though we simply motored out a bit and went for a little sail, spinnaker and all.

What is it with race committees? Why couldn’t they have just, oh I don’t know, MOVED the course to be in the wind. It was literally a 5 minute motor. We had similar experiences with the Race Committees back in New Orleans on Lake Pontchartrain (Yep Glenn, I’m looking at YOU!)

Sailing on the Bay was INCREDIBLE!! Mount Rainier towered over the horizon the entire time and we watched this beautiful 1960’s era Columbia 50′ slice through the water with ease. There was even a fiddle player on the bow. The weather was perfect, only needing jeans and a light jacket from time to time. The water here, as in Montana, was mainly flat even and it takes the slightest breeze to get moving. Lake Pontchartrain was usually pretty choppy with 1-2 foot seas at high frequency.


After the sailing, meeting and eating WAY too much we said goodbye to our new friends. It felt pretty much just like it does when you meet people you hit it off with out cruising. You feel the connection then proceed to spend as much time as possible together until one of you sails off over the horizon to your next port, maybe never to be seen again. It can be sad knowing that you may never see that person again.

BUT…the REALLY special part comes when you actually DO get to see that person again, which happened time and time again for us and the crews of SV Nimue, SV Tango, SV Motu, SV LaLuna, and SV Seawolf just to name a few. Reuniting with fast flames is somehow even more incredible than the first meeting and I hope we get to meet up with M&M perhaps out in New Zealand if we both end up there (there’s a chance!).

Tate and I made the drive from Tacoma to Port Angeles to stay at some fellow Westsailor’s house on the Olympic Peninsula. We visit the northwestern most point in the US, Cape Flattery and also the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. But that is a story for next time.

Check out our new video for some live action of the above.
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Living in Forests

It is raining yet again. The rain never seems to abate around these parts, our campsite that is. We’ve spent the last seven days camped down a little gravel offshoot of an Olympic National Forest Service road off Hwy 101 on the western most side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. This locale happens to be situated in between not one, but TWO temperate rainforests, the Hoh Rainforest resides about 30 miles to the north while the Quinalt Rainforest resides 10 miles to the south. This would explain the rain.

Also the mostly undeveloped coast of the Pacific Ocean lay just 15 miles to the west. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and unique in its ever wet and ever alive feeling that drips from every moss covered tree and wild fern that takes over the road side. It is here, a bit past six months into our RV trip across the country, that I feel compelled to write.

I have missed writing I think. We kept up this blog for 6 years or so, detailing every little piece of our lives as they progressed from working and boat work, house selling and consolidating our things to getting rid of everything non essential and moving aboard Sundowner to take off across the high seas for a year of sailing the Caribbean. What a time that was!

Our videos have been a departure from the writing as we try to hone different creative skills and ways to document and tell our story. But still we both agree that the blog has a place too. We enjoy the videos and strive each time to make them our own, something that is enjoyable to watch but also that we’ll be proud to look back on later and remember these times.

It has taken and will take more adjustment to have both the videos and the written blog, as well as our busy traveling lives. Baring yourself on camera isn’t easy and takes some getting used to. Often times when we want to describe what’s happening the words on camera just aren’t there. There is also only so much time one can dedicate to recording life. Somewhere I believe lies a balance, one we are still working out.

It is not easy to keep up with the internet world. For example our campsite here in the forest has no internet whatsoever. You have to drive 30 miles in either direction to get it. So here we are completely disconnected, unable to check Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, the blog and an array of other things that draw our online attention. There are more often times like this out sailing. We have to be ok with being out of touch, with keeping a bit of distance but when the opportunities present themselves for us to share what we’ve been up to, we will.

Well what have we been up to? In the past 6 months we’ve traveled to 16 states over 5,000 miles. Currently at this campsite (no cost as all of our campsites have been) on the western most part of Washington State we’ve had four gigantic fires with stumps and actual tree trunks. Since it rains so much the wood is most often wet but Tate does his magic and works the wood in different arrangements and eventually gets a fire going.

He tends to it throughout the evening and keeps it nice and warm for us in our chairs. We bought some whip cream when we were last at the store and we’ve treated ourselves to delicious Irish coffees to enjoy by the fire’s side as we watch the sun go down, which at this time of the year isn’t until very late.

It’s very strange seeing the day stay light for long into the evening. It’s never like this back home and definitely not the in tropics, but here it gets light around 4am and stays that way till 10pm. It feels like the nights go on forever. In the winter however this is reversed with very little sunlight coming through in the day times. We have arrived in this area in a good time of year.

It’s so quiet here, the most quiet we’ve had in a while. There isn’t the hum of a distant road or the swooshing sounds of running water. It’s dead quiet except for the occasional loud call of the birds that live in the trees surrounding the RV. We never see them but can hear them, especially at dusk when we suspect they are calling their fellow birds home for the night.

Bald eagles fly around these parts in spades. You can’t go anywhere without seeing one, usually two or three, though the loud birds in these trees never let themselves been seen. They are fully hidden and protected in the super thick and evergreen rainforest where they perch. I imagine they are afraid of being eaten.

Next time, however, I’d like to have some binoculars to identify what could make such a sound. We call them the “super-sonic” birds as the end of their song is so high pitch and wavering that you can almost feel your ears twitch up to the noise, the kind of noise that makes your teeth hurt. Trees line both sides of the campsite and you can hear the same birds on each side, both calling in their super-sonic tones, perhaps giving each other a “tree-report”, or update on the status of things in this sleepy place.

Wildflowers flourish here. Purple, white, yellow, blue and orange flowers spring up and line the roads everywhere you walk or drive, in the summer anyways. If you lived up here you could most definitely have fresh picked flowers on the table at home, a cheery table adornment.

There is wildlife too. Just the other morning when I started the generator to run our coffee maker a group of three deer were startled, though just barely, and they meandered in plain view of our huge glass front windows, unafraid of being seen, it seems. There was a buck with short fuzzy antlers and what looked like a doe and a baby deer. A little deer family who call this rainforest area home. After they ate a little more they wandered out of sight.

The humidity here is undeniable. It’s similar to where we are from in Louisiana except it’s the middle of July and it is not hot, in fact it’s somewhat cool and we never leave the RV without a jacket. There is a dampness in the air and it makes our jeans and other natural fabrics slightly wet to the touch. It’s not bothersome though and there are no bugs to speak of really except maybe a few lazy mosquitoes, some flies and oh yes, now I remember, bees.

During my jog the other day I slowed down to catch my breath and I noticed after a minute or so a bunch of flies landed on me, seeking salt I imagine. Horseflies even…the ones that bite. Never mind them, they are harmless enough but then a bee showed up so I started my jog again seeking new scenery, unfortunately to my great dismay the bee had followed me very closely and when I stopped was in the same proximity to me as before.

This was cause for great alarm as I was afraid of being stung so I took off, at a full sprint, for a minute or two before having to slow down to catch my breath. Low and behold Mister Determined Bee was RIGHT where he was before, buzzing happily in front of my face. I took off again at a faster stride and this time looked over my shoulder to see him buzzing along at nearly 7 mph chasing me and whatever I had that he (or she) desired so greatly.

I still had a couple of miles to run so instead eventually I stopped running and confronted the bee. I started swatting at him with my visor (lacking in combat material). I hit him once and he went down. Satisfied that he was incapacitated I ran onward to the RV until a minute later he was back in action buzzing quickly near my ear. Too exhausted I was resigned to whatever fate he had in mind but in the end when I reached the RV he finally flew away and just like that my bee saga was over.

The National Forest Road is nicely paved and a perfect place for me to go jogging which I do about every other day. It’s SO incredibly pleasant to jog here in the northwest forests. I feel like I can go on forever, which is normally just 30 minutes in one direction, then 30 minutes back. Running faster or slower doesn’t seem to matter as my joints have a time limit they like to adhere to and that remains about 1 hour of hip-knee-ankle movement time.

The temperatures have stayed in the 60 to 70’s each day since June. This is a memorable summer for Tate and myself. Never have we spent a summer in such cool weather and we won’t ever forget it.

We have been waiting here in our quiet forest campsite for a good sunny day to hike 10 miles in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park and the fortune tellers say tomorrow is supposed to be good…wish us luck!

#21 Forest to City ~ Coast to Coast

We camp at no cost for seven days in the Snoqualmie National Forest (Cascade Mountains) on Tinkham Road (exit 47) off interstate 90 roughly 45 miles east of Seattle. The forest is incredibly beautiful and we are lucky with the summer weather here in the northwest. The temps only rise to 70 degrees always with a nice breeze. We make a trip on the bike to Seattle to meet up with old friends for a night out and a beach excursion.

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6 month costs RV vs Sailing

The exciting time in my life has rolled around again! 6 months have passed (can you believe it?) since we put our boat Sundowner on the hard in Panama and flew back to the United States to take advantage of the low gas prices and do an RV tour of North America. Now I’ve compiled all of the numbers and want to compare our monthly RV costs to our monthly sailing costs.

I track all of our expenses on my phone with a free app called “Spending Tracker“.

I tried to pick a variety of categories that would encompass anything we could spend money on and plan to keep these the same throughout the trip. They are sorted in a more logical order based on type instead of just alphabetically. I have added a few examples for each one to help give an idea of what is included:

  1. Alcohol – bars, grocery bought and sometimes restaurants if a large percentage
  2. Eating Out – restaurants
  3. Grocery – food or household items
  4. Books – kindle unlimited, ebooks, physical books
  5. Entertainment – tours, park entrance fees, horseback riding, movies
  6. Gifts – presents for family and friends
  7. Tobacco – Tate’s pipe tobacco and accessories
  8. Water Sports – snorkel gear, spearfishing gear, wetsuits
  9. Video/Communication – Upload costs, equipment, Delorme InReach, internet, phone, postcards, blog hosting
  10. General – miscellaneous items for household
  11. Laundry – pay laundry service on shore
  12. Medical – doctor’s visits, dentist, medicine
  13. Travel – taxi’s, buses, ferries, planes, cars, hotels
  14. Marina/Anchoring – marina fees, mooring fees, dinghy docks
  15. RV park/fees – Insurance, entrance fees, nightly fees, parking
  16. Maintenance – RV upkeep, boat products, parts, labor fees, boatyards
  17. Fuel – diesel, gasoline, propane

I’ve separated costs such as Boat storage, RV and motorcycle purchase, and the heavy refit and one off costs for the RV and motorcycle since these things are highly subjective and will vary from person to person. We don’t include our boat cost or refit in our monthly cruising costs either. The Subtotal 1 costs are what I consider “true living costs”.

  1. Boat storage – Cost to keep the boat in Panama out of the water
  2. RV purchase – Total cost including taxes, title and registration
  3. RV refit – Upgrades like new tires, solar panels, led lights and one offs like the Brake repair
  4. Moto purchase – Total cost (trailer) including taxes, title and registration
  5. Moto Refit – Upgrades like 2 new tires

RV vs Sailing monthly cost comparison
6 months RV living costs:
$10,060 (average of $1,676 a month)

6 months Sailing living costs:
$10,891 (average of $1,815 a month)

Now there is still the RV purchase/refit and the motorcycle purchase/refit which totals to $25,227 but we plan to sell everything (RV, motorcycle and trailer) this fall when we head back to the boat.

I’m actually REALLY surprised that our RV living costs are cheaper than our sailing costs, though not by much. At the end of the day after we sell everything I think we will have spent just as much as we would have on the boat (which was the plan all along:)

One of the things we had hoped for and also have found to be true is that there are TONS of free and beautiful places to park in the country. TO DATE WE HAVEN’T PAID FOR A SINGLE NIGHT STAY ANYWHERE ALONG THE TRIP. We have stayed legally at no cost in the National Forests, Bureau of Land Management areas, Boondockers Welcome houses, Walmart and Truck Stops (only a week total), and also Blog/Vlog followers property. It’s been enlightening and we are now challenging ourselves to never pay for parking through the end of the trip. We’ll see how it goes.

See below for the tables for our 6 month RV costs and then below that for our 2015 sailing costs. If you want more info please see our COST PAGE as well as our post (linked below) back in January where we discuss in detail our reasons for leaving the boat for a year.
DETAILS OF THE BIG CHANGE.

2016 RV ACROSS NORTH AMERICA COSTS

January through June 2016
States visited: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington

2016 CategoryJanFebMarAprMayJunTotal
Alcohol193521784893052191,436
Eating Out791985315061194735
Grocery4111614704969374482,923
Books---10--10
Entertainment----24-24
Gifts-20
----20
Tobacco-28843829107286
Water Sports-------
Video/Comm253-10712013797714
General206220118246822601,132
Laundry17--128-37
Medical-------
Travel----302050
Marina/Anchor-------
RV parks/fees68140127175124115749
Maintenance360-----360
Fuel491192096003372701,584
Subtotal 116369381,3462,3362,0741,73010,060
Boat storage1,1193063063063063062,649
RV purchase11,010-----11,010
RV refit5,16737856776--6,836
Moto purchase--4,100--254,125
Moto refit-----607607
Subtotal 217,2963435,2621,08230693825,227
TOTAL18,9321,2816,6083,4182,380
2,66835,287

2015 SAILING THE CARIBBEAN COSTS

January through December 2015
Ports: Key West, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Panama

2015 CategoryJanFebMarAprMayJunTotal
Alcohol34138114069168521,151
Eating Out6312933681733922252,082
Grocery180561783032901981,205
Books20101351011010295
Entertainment7113179---281
Gifts416--218-238
Tobacco150467--259-876
Water Sports360----152512
Communication1998461846385576
General20--973268217
Laundry--139--22
Medical---14--14
Travel-193136-29057676
Cruising Fees-143220-78142583
Fuel184310219-10300
Maintenance28-411247-191
Marina/Anchor54280----334
2,0762,0971,3441,1811,8471,0089,553

2015 CategoryJulAugSepOctNovDecTotal
Alcohol195130104115104272920
Eating Out18139263244279601
Grocery399332266794274571,960
Books1010101011010160
Entertainment-8---3543
Gifts--305-2052377
Tobacco----132477609
Water Sports1,410512-554744643,014
Communication22176102107106106718
General3120663042829461,775
Laundry-------
Medical-----554554
Travel10----4858
Cruising Fees--37060--430
Fuel-30106-3012178
Maintenance261-85--358704
Marina/Anchor-----128128
2,7181,3431,3801,2611,3294,19812,229

Why do we spend the money for these things? Check out some of these memories from along the way:

Blueridge Parkway NC.


Devil’s Whip in NC with my Uncle.

Wisconsin.

Mount Rushmore, a classic.

The Badlands.










The Black Hills.

Glacier National Park.

Holland Lake and Montana.

Idaho.

National Forests in Washington

Sailing in Tacoma.

Chihuly glass.