BVI, day 3

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We set sail this morning after the orientation. We had a captain accompany us at the start of our journey today to determine our ability to sail a 40 foot catamaran. Well, I shouldn’t say my ability since we would all be screwed if I sailed the boat.

Paul and Tim were our main sailing crew. Paul completed 95% of the paperwork to be a captain through the U.S. Coast Guard with a sailing endorsement. Tim took some sailing classes. Both men own sailboats of their own. Stan is an avid boater and fisherman. Cara was in charge of cooking, Angela did meal prep, and I was on the clean up crew. We could’ve hired a captain and chef for the whole trip, but decided not to.

Once we set sail, a cupboard door popped open spilling out glass plates which broke into shards on the counter and floor. I felt bad because I was the last one to go into that cupboard. Maybe I didn’t close it all the way? I felt embarrassed that I failed at the one job I had. We tried to clean up the glass, but it didn’t stop people from stepping on glass shards during the week.

We left that morning and truly were going to be off the grid. We opted to go without wifi since it would cost $30 a day. I couldn’t use my data plan since it would be very pricey. For all practical purposes, Paul and I were totally inaccessible which Paul loved and caused me a lot of anxiety. Paul and I were the only ones with children at home. Cara has an adult child from a previous marriage, the rest are child free.

We sailed to Norman the first day. We got a mooring ball and snorkeled by the shipwrecked party boat, the Willy T. There were tons of tropical fish under the Willy T. We saw a turtle with 2 sucker fish attached to it and a whole school of what looked like little king fish.

Later we took the dinghy out to the caves nearby for snorkeling. There were some pretty big fish there and Paul wanted me to snorkel into the cave with him. I bought a snorkeling mask that covered my whole face and I could breathe like normal in it. It was more expensive than regular goggles, but worth it. The only problem I had was when there were waves, water would leak in and it had to be resealed.

I followed Paul into the dark cave. Since I could breathe like normal through my mask, I could smell something horrible. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. The fish started getting smaller as I went deeper and darker into the cave. There were tons of weeds on the surface which freaked me out a little. As I neared the end of the cave, the water became shallow and I stood on the rocks. That is when I heard the squeak of bats. I was out of there! Paul rubbed his leg against a rock and ended up with a nasty rash. It was a great place to snorkel, but I wouldn’t recommend going into the caves.

That evening we went out to eat at Pirate’s Bight. What I was expecting on this trip was small quaint towns with gift shops and that our boat would be on a dock every night with wifi. That did not happen. Every night we grabbed a mooring ball. Gift shops were few and far between. We only had wifi once during the trip. I saw a gift shop that night and asked the hostess how long it would be open. She replied that it was always open.

The island consisted of a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. That’s it as far as I could tell. The bar was closed for a private birthday party. We ordered our meal at the restaurant. I ordered the grouper in a buttery caper sauce with sweet potatoes. Cara ordered the same, but found a hair in her food. The grouper was good, but there wasn’t much there and no capers could be found in the sauce. The sweet potatoes seemed like regular potatoes with sugar on it. The food wasn’t the greatest, although it was very pricey. I had a banana daiquiri which was very good however.

After supper, we visited the gift shop. The woman behind the counter was rude and angry. When we walked in, she told us that the store was closing in 5 minutes as she glared at us. She was so rude that we decided not to buy anything. Later I wondered if they made her stay late because I asked how late they were open.

That night Cara got sick. I wondered if I would get sick too. We ate the same thing.

 

BVI, day 2

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We left Puerto Rico late this morning to take the puddle jumper to Tortola. Some of us were a little nervous about our flight on such a small plane that we decided to stop at the bar before our flight. I ordered a Bloody Mary which I thought was rather strong. Maybe it was just too early. It was 10 AM, 8AM at home. I jokingly said that is when the school will call me at 8 AM a little tipsy. Hey, it’s noon somewhere.

I wasn’t especially nervous about the flight. I figure I can handle just about anything for 30 minutes. I wore pants which ended up being rather ridiculous. I am always cold on planes, but this plane was very hot and loud. We spent the whole flight filling out our customs form and then it was over. There were only about 12 people on the plane, half of them belonging to our group.

We got off the plane and entered one of the smallest airports I’ve ever been in. There were chickens wandering around outside. It was very hot and everything went at a slow pace. We took a shuttle ride from the airport to the marina. We got to our sailing charter a day early and would spend the first evening sleeping aboard at the marina.

We couldn’t check in until later in the afternoon and decided to walk around to find something for lunch then provision at the store. We got a recommendation for a restaurant, but when we got there the sign said closed. We heard people inside and wandered in anyway. They were short staffed so we sat at a table outside and relaxed waiting about 2 hours to eat. We weren’t in a hurry. While we waited, we could hear the band students playing Bob Marley songs nearby. The band room was located in a tent ever since the hurricane.

We walked to the store later. It was strange since the traffic moved in a different direction than it did at home. Cara started to cross the street and had to run back to the curb because a car came around the corner fast. She earned the nickname frogger from the old Atari game where the frog tried to cross traffic without getting squashed. Later that evening, the same thing happened to Cara. This time a man on a motorcycle stopped so she could cross and almost got rear ended by a truck.

Our trip to the store was interesting. It was strange because there were people tailgating in the store parking lot. I found that to be an unusual hang out place. The store had a lot of interesting food like squid and fruits and vegetables we’ve never seen before. There were cases of beer for $50. There were also 6 packs that people mixed with other brands. Coming from WI, it was weird to see beer for sale by the bottle. I also did not see a large selection of coffee creamers. Some of the items did not have prices.

After we bought our provisions, we stuffed them in our backpacks and walked back to our boat at night. We weren’t worried about crime although it was a little scary to cross the road. The next morning we were going to have our bigger items delivered like our cases of water and soda. Then we were going to be on our way.

BVI, day 1

This is a new series of our British Virgin Islands sailing charter vacation..

We weren’t sure what was going to happen, even if we were going to be able to leave.

The night before we left, shortly after I posted, Paul and I had a meeting at the sailing club to plan this summer’s cruises. Paul was tying up loose ends at work and ended up plowing out our driveway and my parents, so he did not start packing. Not to mention his trip to the ER the night before. The next morning I was planning on getting up at 2 AM to shower and depart.

After the meeting, I started receiving texts from our group. My friend Cara planned the whole trip. Paul and I were traveling with Cara’s husband Tim and their friends Angela and Stan. Cara was concerned because the weather forecast was predicting rain, snow, and freezing rain for our flight departure time.

We tossed around the idea of leaving at midnight and driving a couple of hours to the nearest major city’s airport that had a direct flight to Puerto Rico, our layover location. That plan was rather iffy too. We wouldn’t get any sleep and still might have to drive through bad weather. In the end we decided to keep things as planned and risk it.

It was a slow drive to the airport. Our flight was delayed by an hour due to a mandatory rest for the flight crew. The roads were icy. It was hard seeing through the windshield. The streetlights looked like cars coming towards us in the wrong lane down the dark highway. The roads were empty and icy, I drove slow because I didn’t want to go in the ditch. What would we do then?

Before we left, I received calls from the school saying that school was cancelled due to an ice storm. We ended up sitting on the plane for over a half an hour for them to de-ice the plane. They told us 15 minutes, it is never 15 minutes. Once they de-iced, it seemed to ice back up again because of the ice storm.

The only way Cara and I could sit by our husbands on the plane was to take seats in the exit row. Cara jumped at the seats before I could say no. I decided not to take any anti-anxiety meds because I didn’t want to be dopey for our overnight stay in Puerto Rico. Plus I had to be responsible to save people in the event of an emergency landing. It was only a 3 hour flight to Atlanta. What could possibly go wrong?

The drink cart just made its way over to me. I ordered a ginger ale, Paul ordered coffee. I got my drink, and as Paul was getting his we hit a really rough patch of turbulence unexpectedly. The drink of the lady in front of me hit the ceiling. I poured my soda onto Paul’s lap. The flight attendant packed up and ran off before the coffee had a chance to scald my face. I screamed and held on tight to anything I could grab onto. I started to hyperventilate and scream that we were all going to die. Perfect exit row material right there.

The flight to San Juan from Atlanta was rather uneventful. We were able to make the flight with enough time despite the delay. I watched the movie ‘Beautiful Boy’ which was about a teenage drug addict that looked remarkably like my son. It was kind of a downer to start my vacation that way.

We got into Puerto Rico at suppertime and ate at Casita Miramar which was creative in decorating and food. The restaurant is very charming. I ate mahi mahi in a stuffed avocado. There were a lot of nooks and crannies of uniquely designed rooms. The waiter brought out the menu on a chalkboard.

That night we shared a bedroom with Angela and Stan which was rather awkward. Stan snored and I didn’t have the heart to go over and kick him like I do with Paul.

The next morning we had a flight booked on a puddle jumper to Tortola.

 

My last day of work

Friday was my last day of work. I thought that I would be feeling down like I did most days leading up to the last day. Instead I felt relief, and a lightness of spirit. I did end up inviting some close friends over that evening. Two out of three couples came out for my pity party. Two out of three ain’t bad for short notice over the holidays.

I invited out the brewer and his wife, the psychologist, whom I will call Rhett and Sue. Sue told me that she gave my name to her boss as someone who was interested in talking to the parents and siblings of autistic children. I still feel interested in helping people through similar experiences that I’ve had. I want to write a book. But first I want to go through all of my journals. It is going to be a slow and tedious process.

We also invited over Tim and Cara. Cara just wrote a book and now that I have more time, I offered to read it critically. She encouraged me to write my own book. Right now Cara’s job is also on the line. She would love to be a full time author. Paul and I thought of starting a sailing business with Tim and Cara. Paul is working on his captain’s license as we speak. It’s crazy, but we are thinking of starting another business together.

I’m not sure where the future leads right now, but I know that these other couples are involved in it in some way. We had a lot of fun Friday night and did a lot of laughing. I felt like whatever happens everything would be alright.

And so the journey starts…

Fortune cookie wisdom # 16

You will be unusually successful in business.

My husband Paul seems to get this fortune cookie every other time he gets Chinese food. My typical response is to laugh then throw the fortune away. It is true though. If Paul is a natural at anything, it’s business.

The strange thing is that I started to get this fortune. I don’t know if they made extra of these fortunes at the fortune cookie shop or what. Then I thought…why not write about it?? Maybe if I stop throwing the fortune away, I won’t get it over and over again and can get new ones. Hence more writing inspiration..

I don’t consider myself to be successful at business. I don’t come up with the ideas. I certainly don’t sell anything. I am more of the diligent working sidekick behind the scenes. I have been working with my husband somewhere around 10 years now.

This year we sold our successful start up business, but continue working as employees. We are planning on retiring in another 5 years and starting another business in an unrelated field. We both decided that we would go totally crazy if we didn’t have something to do with our time.

Paul just signed up to work on his captain’s license. We are planning on starting a sailing charter business. We’ve already had people approach us for sailing trips. This is not going to be a big lucrative money making business. It would be a hobby business.

Right now, it seems like I don’t have any time. When I am not working, I am cleaning my house, doing laundry, spending time with family, worrying, running, or blogging. If I am lucky, I can read a couple of books a year for fun or travel. Unfortunately, I have to be really selective with my free time. I have more things that I want to do than time to do them.

But in less than 3 years time, the kids will all be out of the house. In five years, I’ll retire. Maybe then I’ll have the time to do everything I want to do.

Maybe I will write a book, take a dance class, start working on genealogy again, do more traveling, write music, paint… The possibilities are endless..

Sail

In July, we had the opportunity to spend the weekend on our friends new sailboat. We haven’t been friends with Tim and Cara very long, but we have a lot in common with them. So I felt like it was time to give them names.

Tim and Cara were at our house the evening that my son wanted to siphon gas. Tim was the one that told me that my son would probably blow up if he smoked after siphoning gas. Maybe Tim was talking from a similar experience? Lol. He has some pretty crazy stories.

I hate to say this but I have very high expectations for friends. Maybe that explains why I have only a handful of close friends.

I basically have only two simple requirements for a really close friend. 1. They need to be intellectuals and be willing to share deep conversations (sometimes about spirituality). 2. They need to be wild, crazy, active, adventurous, and fun. Kind of like me. Do you see the problem here?? How many wild, crazy intellectuals do you know??

Tim and Cara are a lot like us. They have similar hobbies, personalities, and are in their 40’s like us. Cara was the person that wanted to follow my blog and I told her that I don’t share my personal experiences with friends. I am a terrible person, emotionally closed off and all. Maybe someday I will get over my trust issues. Again, you see the crap I write about..

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We sailed the bay of Lake Michigan off of Door County in Wisconsin.

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We sailed by bluffs.

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I got some pretty nice pictures with my phone.

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There was only one problem. It was a cold weekend in July with a chilly breeze that made for great sailing and cold swimming. They all laughed at my expression jumping in.

There was another problem too…kind of humorous, kind of not. My husband Paul is a friendly guy. He talked to the old guy on the dock about the fish he caught. What’s biting, what are they biting on…all that fisherman kind of talk.

Awhile later, a little girl walked by carrying a fishing pole with her parents behind her. Paul tried to strike up a similar conversation with the little girl about fishing. But her parents told her to keep on walking and not look at him.

I had to laugh. Next month Paul will be 50. I told him that he is now old enough to be considered a creepy old man. I told him that parents probably won’t be friendly if he talks to their kids again until he has tons of grandchildren in tow.

Anyway, we had a great time with our new friends and are looking forward to going on a sailing vacation with them to the British Virgin Islands this winter.

Luke’s visit, part 9

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We didn’t spend the whole time talking when Luke came to visit. Although I must say that I didn’t talk a lot. I spent a lot of time listening, transfixed by Luke’s words. It was the first time he spoke about our childhood with any meaning.

I think that through his struggles, he has gained new insight, wisdom, and purpose to his life.

Maybe our suffering wasn’t in vain after all.

Doesn’t a brilliant rainbow first need rain?

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We invited Luke and his family to our new house and out sailing for the first time. Luke’s youngest daughter wanted to jump off the balcony into the swimming pool. Not a good sign for the upcoming teenage years. She also wanted to buy a sailboat, but said that she didn’t have any money. She is so funny that I think the carefree comedian Luke is still living on.

Paul patiently taught the kids all about sailing. I think someday he would make a wonderful grandpa. My dad spent a lot of time ridiculing us for things we didn’t know and called us stupid when we came to him with questions. But as I watched Paul and Luke with the children, I was happy to know that they are both wonderful fathers without ever having had wonderful fathers.

Sometimes our struggles can become a blessing.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #14

You never suffer from a money problem, you always suffer from an idea problem.

Before we start today, I want to tell you that this is not my fortune. My daughter Angel received this on her 20th birthday. My fortune was so boring I left it behind. Paul’s fortune said that his life would be filled with happiness and peace or some crap like that. He is always the luckiest! I mean, he does have me after all…Ha ha…anyway..

So as of this past weekend, my oldest is no longer a teenager. Wonderful news! Now I only have two teenagers. But I am not about to change my about page anytime soon.

Angel was a great teenager to raise…although there was that little blip right at the end that really showed she was a teenager. At times she was a little mouthy, but she also is an endless optimist, has leadership skills, has charisma, woo, maturity, and is beautiful both inside and out. The good far out weighs the bad. She is so charming that the rest of us have a hard time keeping up.

Most days go well for Angel, but her birthday was a little rough. She wanted to go sailing to the beach but the weather was not favorable. It was windy, rainy, and cool. Rumor has it that a sailboat capsized at the sailing club that very day. So we sat around home and didn’t do much which was a mild form of torture for me.

I did pick up a new hobby though..Weeding! How come none of you gardeners told me how therapeutic it could be?? I weeded for hours, until my carpal tunnel acted up.

Anyway, back to the birthday…Angel wanted Paul and I to take Dan and her out for sushi. Dan never had sushi before and it is one of Angel’s favorite foods. Dan totally hated it. He stayed out late with friends the night before, was crabby, and fell asleep once we got back home. Angel played her music, an opera song that she is hoping to be able to sing by the end of graduate school. Dan said he didn’t care for the song. Oh boy!

Other than that, things have been going well with Dan.

We are hoping to take Dan and Angel out sailing to the beach before she has to go back to college…We’ll see what happens.

I hope she doesn’t run out of time, ideas, or money.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #7

You will travel far and wide, both for pleasure and business.

I really love this one!

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

As of right now, I visited 32 out of 50 states. Of these states, I visited California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Tennessee for business. Next month I am planning on crossing Nevada off of my list.

It isn’t on my bucket list to visit all of the United States, although it would be nice. My plans are far more grandiose than that. I want to visit all of the continents. So far, I’ve crossed off North America and Asia. I plan to cross off South America and Europe within the next 5 years. I even warmed up to the idea of visiting Antarctica.

A couple of days ago, I visited my friend Jen. She recently found out that she has an aggressive type of terminal cancer. The prognosis is not good. Next month will be Jen and her husband’s 25th anniversary. They booked a trip to Hawaii to celebrate. It doesn’t look like they will be going. They wanted to go to Alaska for their 20th anniversary, but never did. Now it is too late.

I don’t want to travel for special occasions anymore. I want to travel because I want to travel. I told myself that after we got back from visiting Thailand for our 20th anniversary. Time is too short.

We couldn’t travel far when we first started out. We didn’t have the extra money. We were tied down to the business. More importantly, we didn’t have anyone to help with the kids. We were lucky if we were able to get away alone one weekend a year for many years.

My husband was 40 before he stepped foot on a plane for the first time. But once he did, we both decided that we would like to travel more.

We never went anywhere as kids, but our kids went to many places already.

We took the kids to Disney World, their first time on a plane.

We showed them a world of wonder that we never got to see growing up.

I guess the moral of the story is not to wait until it is too late to cross things off your bucket list.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to Asia. When the kids were in their middle childhood years, we traveled extensively around the state. We went tent camping to over a dozen different places, mainly state parks. We braved a couple ferocious storms. We biked many trails, went to nature programs, swam in many lakes, picnicked on gorgeous beaches, hiked through the woods, fished, and watched sunsets while the crickets chirped.

After Paul got into sailing, we started similar adventures on water.

 

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Take what you have and work with it..

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

 

Ending, a new beginning

Paul and I are starting to think about retirement. Over the last several months, we received several generous offers for our business. Which, after much contemplation, we declined.

We were thinking of working for another 5 to 7 years, selling our business, and retiring. Then we had a day where we had absolutely nothing to do for 3 whole hours. We were bored. We just about went stir crazy. I was thinking of throwing food on the floor so I had something to clean…or braving into the dark realms of my teenagers’ rooms with a vacuum cleaner..

Then we asked each other how we would handle being retired with days to fill with nothing. So we decided that we would most likely work forever and just slowly cut back our hours until we were ready to sell…not a bad plan..

Then something happened…we had an auction as a fundraiser for our church. We put a 3 hour sunset sailboat ride on the auction block. It went for $400. After that, we had another bidder come up to us and ask if we would take them for a 3 hour ride if they offered $400 to the church. Really?? Seriously??

Then the idea started to trickle back into my brain…Let’s retire after the kids leave and start another business.

When our start up business was in its infancy, we could never leave it. For the first couple of years, Paul was a one man show. That meant the day our last baby was born, Paul had to leave the hospital and go to work.

In the beginning years, Paul had to have major surgery which required a week hospital stay. He was supposed to take at least a month off of work. He called clients from his hospital bed. Right after he got home, I drove him to the office everyday. I helped him walk up and down the steps one at a time wincing in pain. Then I came back and picked him up at the end of the day.

He went to the office with strep. Some nights he worked until 10 PM.

Finally his hard work paid off and he was able to hire an employee. After the first employee left and the kids were old enough for school, I joined him. Then we hired a few more people. We really didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t even have an employee handbook.

This past week we had an employee oversleep her 1 PM shift. I’ve had to come back early from vacation to cover for people. Sometimes having employees is like parenting. They are great people, but managing creates a lot of stress and frustration in my life. It requires disciplining, hand holding, encouraging, instructing, and being the one who makes difficult decisions. That’s what you get when your name is one the door.

Maybe when I am done parenting, I would like to be done managing people too.

So it got me to thinking about retirement again. Paul and I always talked about starting a new business doing sailboat chartering. We could sell our business, pay off our debt, and start a new company. Apparently there is a market for it. Then we could get back to working together alone again.

Once the kids leave home, it is still on the table. We would buy a bigger sailboat. Paul would get his captain license. I could do all of the scheduling. I would take pictures and write about the experiences of the people sailing with us and make a scrapbook for them of their adventures. Paul is an excellent chef…he would do the cooking, I would do the cleaning. On days of bad weather, Paul and I are amateur actors. He also plays guitar while I sing. We like to laugh and tell stories. We like to listen and learn about the lives of others.

It wouldn’t be a big money making venture, but it would be fun.