Monday, June 30, 2008

Sailing Trip

The sailing trip was more eventful than we anticipated. The evening before, we had a bon voyage seafood fest with Piglet, involving shucking and consumption of many oysters. We thought we were off to a pretty good start. The first day on the boat was a sunny and bright motor sail up the Sound, ending with a nice evening swimming in the Pensacola Yacht Club pool and eating at their 100-year-old restaurant. On the second day, we sailed around Escambia Bay and dinghyed (verb?) over to Fort Pickens. The fort used to be a big tourist attraction but has been closed for several years due to damage from Hurricane Ivan. It felt a bit post-apocalyptic (adjective?) to explore in isolation. Everything seemed to be going as planned...

The excitement began the evening of the second day. What started as our evening entertainment in a lightning show turned into 1.5 days of intermittent storms. In a 10-minute period, we'd go from swimming behind the boat to battening down the hatches, and this transition happened again and again and again. At one point, in the dark, the boat began spinning in a circle, and dad pointed aft with a horrified, "The dinghy is above the boat!" We are still debating whether we were passed over by a waterspout. Anyway, all's well that end's well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Smooth sailing so far in Florida. We've gotten out on my parent's boat a couple of times and on some smaller boats as well. One evening on the boat we got dolphins, WWII airplanes practicing for a show, fireworks, AND a huge harvest moonrise. We also logged some redneck water time today tubing on the Blackwater River. I never cease to be amazed by how many syllables rednecks can fit into each word. And it never would have occured to me to smoke while swimming. Hopefully tomorrow night we'll be racing on my friend Chad's boat, and then Thursday we take off on our 3.5 day sailing adventure. My dad has grand visions of sailing through the night taking shifts at the helm...I'm not so sure. As always, plans in Florida are tentative, weather permitting.
We've gotten to spend some time with old friends, too. We drove out to Panama City to celebrate Josh's birthday, thanks to Krista and James loaning us a car for the week (big thanks!), and we had a sleepover at Krista and James' house -- good thing since we were all wiped out after a Wii marathon. Their 3-year old little boy, Aidan, is so cute we wanted to keep him up playing all night. Chad and Jennifer had us over for drinks, and we met a nice couple who will hopefully be FUTURE friends as they are 90% certain to be moving to Sydney in the next few months. And speaking of cute little boys, Chad and Jennifer's 19-month old, Taylor, is adorable.
We've also been hanging out with the fam, of course. Martha's Dylan (who is different from Angela's Dylan) seems like a super nice guy. He actually races you to get to the door first so he can open it for you! We ate at Martha's place of work, The Back Porch, and now we know why she's so skinny -- with a 1.5-2 hour wait every night, that restaurant is hopping! How she handles the stress and keeps things straight is beyond me, especially when she works for 15 hours without a break.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So long, Squirrelbait...

Squirrelbait is the name I recently gave to our Mini Cooper after a vile, fluffy-tailed rodent took up residence in the engine compartment and caused $2,000 in damage to the wiring harness. Thankfully Geico covers this under something like "animal invasion."
The Mini was our final major possession, and we sold her in the most sketchy way ever yesterday. I had just posted her for sale on the web on Friday, and we got a call Saturday from an auto broker. He kept calling over the next couple of days and asking bizarrely detailed questions about the car. Despite not having had any detailed discussions about price, he told us he was 90% certain he'd have a check for us when we met him at the dealership in Pensacola on Monday. Sure enough, we pulled into the dealership, and in about 10 minutes we had a check for $1,000 under the asking price and just $5,000 less than we orginally paid for the car. The owner of the dealership just strolled around the car -- didn't drive it, didn't get in, didn't even look at it very closely -- and then he wrote us a check. Weird.
Of course now Eric and are without wheels. My mom had to come pick us up after we sold the car, and now my 19-year-old sister and my new skateboard are our main forms of transportation. It's a really helpless feeling when you've had a car consistently for 15 years, and being completely divested of our worldly possessions (or at least 95% of them) brings home that this move is really happening.

San Antonio

I was kind of bummed about spending a week just hanging out at the hotel in San Antonio while Eric worked, but then Angela reminded me how many people we know there: Uncle Andy, Uncle Mike and Aunt Phyllis, our cousins Elizabeth, Greg, and Marc, and our longtime family friend, Angie. It was nice to finally see Andy's property, Elizabeth's school, and Mike, Phyllis, Greg, and Marc's rural haven. I thought the area would be desert, but it's a really nice green, hilly area. We were particularly impressed with Andy's poles marking where the sun sets at different times of the year; we hadn't realized how far across the horizon the sun moves during the course of the year. We also went out to Eric's friend Tom's house to hunt arrowheads. I just found regular rocks, which Tom said I could keep, but I figured Eric would freak out if I started packing rocks in my suitcase. He's already threatening to throw pairs of my shoes out of the plane.
Things still seem to be moving really fast. Most of the time we're too busy visiting people to think about what's coming up, but then every once in a while I have too much time to ponder and freak out a little bit. I start to feel like I just can't get a full breath, or like someone is squeezing a fist around my heart. Then I remind myself that I'm not doing this alone, and that between the two of us, Eric and I should be able to handle just about any obstacles that arise.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yee haw! Fort Worth and Dallas

We managed to see an average of 5.3 family members per night during our stay in Fort Worth, which may appear in the next Guinness Book of World Records. Jane offered up her lucious budoir, and Mary taught us Catch Phrase, the best game since Cranium (Catch Phrase needs more sculpting to catch up -- pun totally intended). I also managed to show Eric a side of Fort Worth he never wanted to see -- the side where people RENT tires. Another highlight was the Cowgirl Museum. Okay, the museum was crap, but you can watch a video of me riding a bucking bronco here for the next 2 weeks:
login: raleigh130503
password: JHGRP2

Finally, while Morgan may not technically be family, she's was there during a lot of tough times when we shared a cell in graduate school...and for some big Inca margaritas, although we drank cosmos before seeing Sex and the City. I hope she and John build a plane that can fly to Australia...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's been a long week of tough goodbyes, and I don't just mean because I'm awkward with the hugs. Justine and Juliana (with her entourage) joined us at Inca in Fort Collins for one final margarita, Josh shared one final beer with us overlooking the foothills, and an entire gang of friends were so kind as to meet with us for yet another going away dinner at Bastien's followed by drinks at the swanky PS Lounge (okay, swanky may be an overstatement, but the jukebox is amazing, and some bountiful waitress anatomy was on display). We really appreciated everyone being willing to take the time to see us off, especially given the short-ish notice and the fact that we kept planning events for evenings when the working world had to be up early the next morning. Eric and I are enjoying the best perk of unemployment: no alarm clock.

Leaving Denver also meant leaving the kitties behind. Even though they're the only party guaranteed (by several large credit card payments) to meet us in Sydney, that was a really tough goodbye. I think I overestimate how much the cats know what the hell is going on and worry that they'll feel abandoned. I mean, Otis barely knows where is from minute to minute. Also, as a pessimist, I probably overestimate the likelihood that they won't ever make it to Sydney or will come out of quarantine with warped little cat brains. Fortunately, I know they're in the best hands possible for now with Amber and Mike. Mike was even concerned about Leroy's psyche after the hack-job haircut I gave him -- I think it makes Leroy look tough.

Angela and Dylan helped me forget the sorrow of leaving the kittens by showing us a really good time in Albuquerque. They took us camping, cliff jumping, to the botanic gardens, to the aquarium, and to some of their favorite bars and restaurants, even though they're mid-move and just weeks away from their own adventure in Europe. Eric also helped Angela and I set up Skype so we can talk for free over the internet. Given the cost of international calls, I'd love to have anyone else who might want to chat sign up. It's free (and easy, even for the relatively computer illiterate, which includes myself) to sign up and to use, and I'm sure we'll be anxious to hear some familiar, friendly voices.

Of course it was also very hard to say goodbye to Angela. When I was 9 and my mom was pregnant, I couldn't wait for her to bring home a little sister for me to play with. I was really bummed when she brought home this little blob that didn't do much other than sleep and cry. I mean, talk about high maintenance. It's hard to believe she's now an adult, and I'm as likely to learn something from her as to teach her something. More likely, even. I think one of the hardest part of moving to Australia will be not being able to dial one of my sisters any time I think of something funny or just have five minutes to kill.

I think that's what's really being brought home as we drive around the US: this move isn't at all like moving across the country from Florida to Colorado or from Colorado to Minnesota. We're moving really far away, like about as far away as we can get. We can't just fly home for a visit. It may be years before we see many of the people we're leaving, if we ever see them at all. I'm still trying to get my head around it. With other moves, at least I could chat frequently with friends in the old place until I made friends in the new place; this time, it's really just Eric and I. I'm lucky he's really good company...People keep saying they'll come visit, and I hope they know that they will be really, truly welcome, but we know that trans-Pacific flight is a serious investment.