“Cover the earth before it covers you.”

Dragobert D. Runes.

I remember how I felt at this time last year. Excited, anxious, worried, and a little fearful. I was newly retired, I didn’t know when my first retiree “paycheck” would arrive, I didn’t fully understand my benefit package, and I dearly wanted to sink my teeth into developing a new hobby. My husband reassured me that our finances were solid, that our retirement benefit package was adequate, and that I should explore my interests.

I remember how I felt at this time last year. Excited, anxious, worried, a little fearful… I was newly retired, I didn’t know when my first retiree “paycheck” would arrive, I didn’t fully understand my benefit package, and I dearly wanted to sink my teeth into developing a new hobby. My husband reassured me that our finances were solid, that our retirement benefit package was adequate, and that I should explore my interests.

I enrolled in a sketch class through Placer School for Adults. I learned that I had real talent, but lacked the drive to invest the time necessary to develop my skill. Still, I did enjoy the new friendships and I took a sketch pad on our boat travels. (I have continued to sketch a little, here and there, and I hope to do more when we return to our boat.) I promise to explore more of my artistic talent when time allows.

Abandoned gold mine.
Abandoned mine in Nevada. Sketch assignment #2.

The dream of our Great Loop Adventure was first and foremost on my mind. We had found and purchased our “perfect boat.” She (“Reverie“), a Mainship 390, was stored, on jacks and shrink-wrapped for winter, at Gratitude Marina in Rock Hall, MD, the east side of Chesapeake Bay, opposite of Annapolis. We were provisioning based on memory. We had photos, measurements, and “listing specifications,” but some of our purchases were solely based on limited instinct and best practice. (Here, I credit Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley, for her wonderful inspirations.) We kept a sort-of spreadsheet “To-Do” list on a white board in the office and crossed off items as they were completed. [We are, once again, creating our Recommissioning To-Do List on the same white board, as we prepare for May 2019.]

I learned of a friend’s hardship (January 2018) that, at the time, I was well-suited to support. I eagerly volunteered to help her (Madeline) as she recovered from a severely broken ankle. I spent a few days of each week at her home, decreasing in frequency, for about three months until she was able to drive and be fairly independent. She didn’t need a nurse as much as a friend and cheerleader to see her through a devastating injury, one that tested her beliefs and reminded us both of our limitations as we age, and of our ultimate mortality. I viewed it as giving back, since it was Madeline that was once my mentor and coach. She brought out the best in me when I was in high school. She gave me the confidence and support necessary to excel in a highly competitive academic and athletic environment. We have been friends for 45 years! In a transient world, how many can attest to such a long friendship?

Madeline got a walking boot on 02-05-18.

The majority of the preparations and of our early Great Loop successes are already documented in previous posts. (Feel free to browse the archives!) The setbacks are also documented, including why we stopped our journey in June of 2018. I committed to continue this “adventure blog” during the recovery months as this time constitutes an adventure of its own!

So, now I find myself contemplating a new year. I am once again excited, anxious, worried, and a little fearful. Our boat was winterized by the staff at Plattsburgh Boat Basin. We need to trust in their expertise. A “Polar Vortex” is expected in the next week. (Think single-digit and -minus temperatures.) We have not glanced at a navigational chart in months. It is time to refresh our skills! New software has been developed that may enhance our boating experience. We need to investigate the latest tools.

Speaking of which, this blog post is written using the new WordPress 5.0, a major formatting “upgrade,” which is why (1) this post has taken extra time, and (2) why it may look different in a week or so if I change formats.

The end of 2018 was fairly uneventful, although we celebrated Randy’s graduation from Nursing School, and we enjoyed Molly’s visit for Christmas! New Year’s Eve was a non-event. We stayed awake until 9:00 p.m. to contribute to family text messages generated from the east coast, and that took some effort!

Randy with Evan & Azalyah.  Christmas Dinner with Molly.
Randy with Evan & Azalyah. Christmas Dinner with Molly.

I started this year enjoying a two-week tropical vacation with my long-time friend Madeline (“Muffie”). We both felt deserving of such a holiday. She was my interpreter and tour guide, fluent in Spanish and wise to the ways of the Mexican culture. We journeyed to Puerto Vallarta, Litibú, and Guayabitos. We stayed the first 3 nights in a gorgeous hacienda on the Pacific Ocean with friends, Kathi and Tom, then transitioned to a condo before we indulged in an all-inclusive resort. We visited cultural sites, art centers, craft booths, and walked the “malecón.” I have a new appreciation for the intricate handmade arts and crafts and clothing. I also felt spoiled by the wonderful hospitality of our hosts and the staff I met along the way. I never tired of the warm weather or the beautiful sunsets. It was so nice to hear the ocean waves and it made me a bit homesick for sound of lapping water on the hull of our boat.

Pete has one more hurdle before we’re ready for Phase II of our Great Loop. He has a surgery date mid-February. Keep up the prayers and positive vibes. Gracias!