Traveling at the speed of fun

We’ve been out almost one week, and finally, we’re catching our breath. You can’t have fun all the time; sometimes you have to stop and write about it!

We were having such a nice time at Barry’s parents’ house, with spring flowers and daily rainbows and bald eagles overhead, home cooking and Tumblebugs and weenie roasts, we almost forgot to leave. But on Monday, March 24th, we tore ourselves away with a few tears on both sides and headed south.

Not too far, though — we only drove 60 miles. In Seattle, Jim and Barbara treated us to a farewell dinner at a breathtakingly beautiful restaurant with a view of Elliott Bay and downtown. The Pacific Northwest is a hard place to leave, filled with natural beauty and good friends. But there are grand adventures beckoning, and we talked about them over stuffed scallops and grilled mahi-mahi:

1 – March-April: The drive from Seattle to North Carolina in the Squid Wagon. Squidley is distinctive, a big blue Ford van with a tiny incongruous wooden dinghy on top. We’ll see friends from Seattle to San Diego, then turn east, camping and visiting more friends in Oklahoma and the Carolinas.

2 – April-July: Living and working aboard our Freedom 33, Flutterby, in a boatyard in Beaufort, North Carolina. The boat’s currently hauled out, but we can stay aboard while we work on it.

3 – July-???: Sailing from Hawaii to Australia aboard Complexity with Jim and Barbara and Abby. We have been dreaming about this trip since 2005, when we sailed with them to Alaska. This year, we all think it’s going to be a reality!

We made another important stop in Seattle, saying farewell to Mike and Nita aboard Odessa and buying Odessa’s original stove and oven for Flutterby. They had a new one, but it took a little prodding from well-meaning friends (us) to get it installed, since Nita was attached to the old one. She told me that knowing she could read about her trusty old stove on the Foodie Gazette website was a factor in letting it go.

Our second stop was Yelm, Washington, home of Tom and Gudrun. We’ve stopped at their 100-year-old house several times to share conversation and design silly labels for their homemade wine. We helped with Badda Bing and Goodie Two Shoes labels, and this time we did OPG: Other People’s Grapes. I love doing projects with friends, especially these two!

When we first pulled up to their house, they came out for a look at the Squid Wagon and our gear. Tom studied it a bit and then asked, “Is this everything you own? How much did you leave in storage?” After our answer (“not much”), he started to tell us about a time when all his belongings fit into the back seat of a drive-away car. I don’t think he intended the story to take all evening, but it did, like this:

“How did you end up in New Mexico?”

Then came the whole story of the girl and the overloaded convertible with the gigantic roof rack and the canoe, his friend who towed him to Virginia Beach, where he learned to hang doors and replaced the sportcar with a Ford Falcon. And then the story went to Wyoming.

“But what happened to the girl?”

And then the whole story of Wyoming, and how he got word that it was time to move on from the sheriff, and he packed up the Bellair, the car that saved his life —

“But what happened to the Ford Falcon?”

And then the story of how he and Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog rolled the Ford on a patch of ice, and it came out right-side up with no injuries, but the windshield got shattered, so it was a mighty cold drive home that night.

“So how did the Bellair save your life?”

Well, that had to do with the fact that he didn’t have a girlfriend, so he stopped to see a promising prospect in Colorado. Some miners stopped by her house, and evidently, they didn’t want competition for the only girls in town. Tom escaped their beating by jumping out of the window of the house, then circled back on foot to his Bellair. The miners chased him down the highway, shooting at him — but they couldn’t catch the Bellair, so it saved his life.

“But what happened to the Bellair?”

He came out of a cafe and found someone trying to steal it. He thwarted that one, but then his stereo was stolen. So he sold the Bellair and drove from the Southwest to Connecticut without stopping for sleep. In the driveaway car, a taxicab, all his remaining belongings fit in the back seat. Which brought us back to the genesis of the story: Is this everything you own?

We left Tom and Gudrun’s house laden with gifts of wine and pesto and a grinder, and after a stop at Cabela’s (which I teasingly called “REI with guns”), we continued south. Somewhere before the Oregon border, I woke Barry from his nap, exclaiming “Holy cow! It’s snowing!” Five days later, as I write this, a rare spring snow is falling again here in Eugene, followed by blue skies and cold sunshine.

Our stay in Eugene has lasted longer than expected, but there’s so much to do with Julie and Ed and Daisy and Ellen and Gary! We’ve played pool and ping-pong, soaked in hot tubs, taken walks, visited some amazing workplaces, made dinner, had dinner made for us, ripped vinyl records to digital files, repacked the van, shopped at REI, and yesterday, we had a ski adventure with Daisy, Meps’ sister.

Daisy has discovered a special spot which has not been covered by snow in 26 years. It’s a lava flow, the kind of place that’s impossible to visit on foot or by vehicle. But covered with a thick blanket of snow, it’s possible to ski or snowshoe into this magical place and enjoy vistas and immense trees that have never seen humans.

Our friends Ellen and Gary loaned us skis, and Daisy led us into the silent white wilderness. She’s a strong skiier, but she got a tough workout, breaking trail for us. All was fine until I fell, then I discovered how hard it was to get back up!

We went up and up, and until we turned around and went down and down, I didn’t realize that it was easier going up. It had been so long since I’d skiied, I fell over and over, spending much of the day on my back like a fleece-covered cockroach. Happily, I didn’t fall down on every hill, and got to do my share of  “Wheeeeeeee!” that wasn’t always followed with “Damn!”

We have one or two more adventures planned here in Eugene, then tomorrow morning we’ll hope for clear weather over the passes to the south. Next stop, San Francisco (I think).

2 thoughts on “Traveling at the speed of fun

  1. Meps and Barry-
    Great to see you at the PSCC meeting. Sounds like you are having wonderful adventures before you even get to Flutterby! Have a wonderful time refitting her. You’ll be enjoying the sun much more quickly than we will here in Seattle! We had cold and snow to remind us that living on the boat can get cooold!!!

    Hope to see you cruising one of these days!


  2. I’m glad you’re posting and traveling again! You seem to have a world of friends, so it’s a good thing you allow plenty of time for travel.

    Your friend Tom would fit into my family in the story-telling department. Most of my brothers have good, long stories like that. The best ones are “how I got home” stories.

    It’s also good the know the Squid Wagon’s going again. I always like to see good equipment get good use.

    I look forward to seeing the two of you again sooner or later.

    Calvin of Calvin & Loretta

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