Archive for: ‘September 2011’

Chicago and a Boat for St. Maarten

September 28, 2011 Posted by Deb

We opened boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day in 17 years to find the items that “made the cut” for Neytiri. Some stuff from the house made the cut as well … I do know that when you start piling all the sunblock, bug spray, and toothpaste that you own into piles, it looks like an episode of Hoarders. How did we accumulate 10-15 bottles of sunblock?

We needed to be weight conscious since we were moving onto a cat and we had to think out 3-5 years. Deb agonized over clothes and I made the tough calls on tools. In the end, we loaded 47 boxes into the van and headed for a freight forwarder in Chicago.

We arrived after hours as the sun was setting. We had a tiny little conversion van in a line of 18 wheelers waiting at a security gate. He asked us what company we were with and we said none. He said he needed a company name so we gave him Eldridge. As we drove around a building big enough to hold ten football fields (or more), someone asked us if we were headed for a particular company. We weren’t but said yes and went there anyway, backing the van up to a loading dock and stepping out into a world of high speed forklifts with maniac drivers for as far as the eye can see. There was a sign that said “Drivers” to the right. Beyond that, a set of glass windows. Deb headed to the windows and I sat near the van with the grizzled old drivers. We were apparently in the right place by some sort of luck or magic.

“Do you want that wrapped and palletized?” We asked how much it would cost, and he said that was between us and who we talked to online. I don’t think they had much experience with regular civilians. We finally grabbed a fork lift operator and asked him about palletizing. He told us what would happen to our boxes if we didn’t and that made it a no-brainer. Thirty minutes later, everything we’d worked so hard to select and pack was whished off, weighed, and stashed.

We thought it made a nice photo op and started clicking away. A fork lift started toward Deb at high speed as the driver yelled and screamed and had a Homeland Security attack. No photos were allowed and we had to erase any that we took. I faked erasing them and have a great movie of the forklift charging Deb with a very loud driver. I am always happy to leave Chicago.

We arrived back in Iowa at our pole barn so wrap up putting our vehicles to sleep and arranging transportation to the airport in Des Moines. My floor jack was lost somewhere so I borrowed one from the relatives. The problem with that was that everything going to the pole barn was destined to stay there for quite a while. Everything we needed for the flight to St. Maarten had to already be at the pole barn. We waited as the sun set with five large bags and a floor jack for our last ride, locked the doors, piled into a Suburban, and headed south on September 28, 2011.



We gave ourselves a day and a half layover in Florida to take care of driver’s licenses, residency, and voter registration. We had taken care of a lot of the forms ahead of time but needed a small pile of paperwork to prove that we were legitimate transplants. The folks at St. Brendan’s Isle, our mail forwarder and new address, were a great help in the process. In the meantime we got to visit Vickie from Calliopie and left a note at Conrad and Kathy’s place (Copasetic) as we drove by.

Waiting Out Hurricane Season

September 1, 2011 Posted by Deb

The boat was on the hard at Bobby’s Megayard in St. Maarten and we were packed in among other boats. No launches were even physically possible until October or November and our insurance had about the same time restrictions.

We heard a lot about Georgian Bay in Canada from sailors and decided to take a lap around and do a little van camping to warm up for sailing.

The first stop was Sherpa, sailing friends from the 90’s who we met in the Turks and Caicos. Eric is building a 48 foot trawler in his front yard and it is looking nice. Eric has seven years invested in the boat but the pace has accelerated lately.

Mackinac Island by bike was next and we highly recommend that island. Deb and I covered every paved surface on the island, some twice, in one day.

Mackinac Island by bike

Bad hair day at the border

Try clearing into Canada when you don’t have an address, all your ID’s are obsolete, your plates are MN and you have an FL mail forwarder. Our plates were obscured from the Canadian border lady’s camera so she asked us for our car license plate numbers. They were new recently, and neither Deb nor I knew the plate numbers nor would she let us out of the van to look. She finally left her booth in a very bad mood, got the plate number, got back in her booth and proceeded to make things very rough for us. She got pumped playing 20 questions and I got a bit defensive followed by a bit frustrated and then angry. Our beer count was too high and she kept asking me repeatedly and rapid fire if I was sure of the count and if I didn’t have anything else. We cycled through the booze three or four times but the firearm question topped that. After she asked about weapons, she said “Why aren’t you looking at me when you answer?” I’m looking down at a lapful of papers that we dug out to try to find our plate number and I was trying to straighten up the mess. I was about to say something from Road House but refrained from making things worse. I believe she asked the firearm question at least 5 times in one flavor or another. We were then asked for our destination in Canada. Deb and I had just looked at a map and we knew there was a large town not far. You should have seen the look on her face when we said Sudbury. We later saw Sudbury and I don’t think most people would call it a vacation destination.

We failed Canada check in round one miserably and had to pull into the “you’re outta luck” area. We sat while other cars around us were getting a going over, thinking we were waiting our turn … wrong. We finally got up and went inside, which was a bit of a bold move since the bad hair day lady told us we could not leave our vehicle. Walking in started the ID check process and another 20 questions except that our answers were a bit better on a second try. The fact that Deb competed in rowing in Canada seemed to help. Round two went to us and we got to round 3, the car inspection. We had an old conversion van loaded with live-aboard supplies and a custom full size bed. The customs staff had some digging to do and they tore right in. We had to stand in a designated area about 20 feet away but fielded several more questions. The most interesting was, “Do you always travel with your tax files?” On the surface, that seems a bit strange. In our circumstances, it makes a certain sense. We had no home and no apartment and we had a mail forwarder that we had to transition all of our addresses to. These addresses included financial accounts, checking accounts, subscriptions, etc. We had to maintain some kind order out of the chaos, so I carried a small file box with a handful of folders. One of them said Taxes 2011. This was not tax forms but a folder that contained tax deductible receipts from donating “junk” for months, including a charity bike ride we did in Michigan just a few days earlier. I felt about to lose round 3 but he gave up digging through the van and trying to upset us with 20 questions and let us into Canada.

Camping, Canoeing, Biking and Hiking Georgian Bay

This is a sailing blog so I won’t go into details but KOA’s with wifi are pretty cool, the biking is nice but we are used to the great paved trails in the middle part of the U.S. and biking on roads with the traffic and construction can get a bit old, and the canoeing is extraordinary. We did a day canoe trip on the French River. A figure eight that went all the way to Georgian Bay would have been 3 days to a week. I don’t think the current is a huge factor where we were but the wind can bring on a really bad day.

We camped for 2 or 3 days and then got a room. One serendipity stop got us into a great lodge-like resort on our anniversary and we ran up a tab worthy of the event. That next day we topped it by hiring a personal tour of Parry Sound. We added to the pattern of camping and resorting by getting a day pass at nice gyms/racquet clubs. We hit two more sets of friends on the way back South, practiced our answers to “20 Questions” for the border, got nailed by the remnants of Ophelia and drove in rain all the way back to the pole barn in just a couple days.

Clouds in Illinois