Major Progress

We have come pretty far now. Tim and I are living in our home finally. We moved in the week his parents arrived for a visit at the end of January. Talk about cutting it close, but they were super helpful while they were here. We got everything livable and even had time to play a little.

I’m going to back up a bit, and walk you through some of the bigger projects we tackled in January. Tim had a guy’s snowboarding trip planned to Steamboat, so I took the opportunity of alone time at the house to start the cabinetry overhaul. I knew this would be a big job, but also would have a big impact on the way the space looked. Tim would be gone for a week, so my goal was to have all the cabinets (and some doors if I was lucky) sanded and primed before he got back. I will try to be specific for those of you who might be wanting to re-do cabinets one day.

Thanks to my local Benjamin Moore dealer Lucas Paint, I had a good idea of where to begin. The plan was to end up with a white, shaker-style cabinet, even though I started with faux wood laminate.

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What the kitchen looked like the day we bought it.

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Kitchen with pantry cut in half to make an island, the wall paper gone, and the popcorn ceiling scraped.

Mr. Lucas, from the paint store, told me to clean all the surfaces with dry dishwashing detergent powder before sanding. This is a strong degreaser, and I noticed it seemed to kind of change the laminate surface too… made it more penetrable to sanding, if that is possible. This was really hard on my hands, so I was sure to wear gloves, goggles and a mask. The process went like this: wipe down with water, scrub with detergent, wipe off detergent (if any was left during sanding, it would ruin the sandpaper), let dry, sand. I used an old palm sander and 120 grit paper, which I was very grateful for. Doing this by hand would have killed me.

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The wall-mounted cabinets during the sanding process. You can see we have already textured and painted the walls.

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Me sanding the doors. I had an assembly line where I would scrub them down, wash them off, sand them and clean them again. All before priming.

After all the sanding was cleaning. I had to repeatedly wipe down the surfaces for the cabinets to make sure all the fine laminate dust was gone. This seemed to take forever and I even took the Shop Vac to the doors after sanding. I also ended up using a lightly dampened cloth with a water and vinegar spray. It seemed to do the trick and dry quickly. Then I could move on to primer. I used BIN primer. It is alcohol based, so it has a really strong smell, but it dries quickly and sticks to anything.

Bottom cabinets done and drying.

Bottom cabinets primed and drying.

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All cabinets are primed, but the doors took a while because I had to lay them flat to dry on each side.

I had reached my goal when Tim and his friend Drew got back from their trip. Drew had offered to stay a few extra days and help! He replaced every outlet and light switch in the entire house making it look instantly more updated.

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Drew and Tim cutting wood to reface the cabinet in a shaker style.

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We had to make the wood strips 3.75″ wide to hide all of the outdated design that was on the cabinet face.

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I used wood glue to adhere the strips to the door faces.

I used Benjamin Moore Advance in semi-gloss finish and White Heron color. It’s a slightly off white that really lends itself to gray, looking nice with the wall color. The Advance paint was again recommended by Lucas Paint in Denver. It is a Latex paint that behaves a lot like an oil-based, leaving no paint strokes and wears well over time. I realized along the way that using a small foam roller left some bubbles in the paint, so I would roll the paint on and run over it with a high quality 2″ angle brush. This technique worked well and left a smooth finish.

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Tim and Drew are hanging a kitchen fixture. You can see the first coat of paint on the cabinets.

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I’m rolling the paint onto the new cabinet faces.

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Tim installing the refinished cabinet doors.

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Kitchen after two coats of paint. We decided to add the trim to the face of the drawers as well.

The next big project we had to complete before Tim’s parents arrived was the flooring. We chose a laminate that looks like a dark hand-scraped hickory by Evoke. Tim was confident in his flooring installation skills, but had no experience leveling floors. We had a very  unlevel particle board sub-floor on top of a layer of plywood, which made it tough. We got several different opinions on how to level the floor, but were still unsure which route would be the best. Finally, Tim decided which one he felt more comfortable with — a self-leveling concrete-based product that you prime, pour, and spread.

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Tim working on leveling the floor. We had the biggest dip in the floor near the back door.

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All the gray areas are low spots in the floor.

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Once the floor was level and dry, we laid down a moisture barrier.

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Yeah, flooring, finally! We had to maintain the correct spacing from the walls and make sure the seams were staggered. I laid out the pieces and Tim installed them.

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The last few pieces of flooring going in with our neighbor Travis helping.

The morning that Tim’s parents arrived, we had new countertops installed. We got an amazing deal after hunting around the city. We picked a Kashmir White granite because of the look and the price. We still have to put on the finishing touches, but we are getting there!

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We moved in some of our furniture and Debbie helped me arrange and rearrange. We had to clean the floor over and over from all the construction dust.

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My white kitchen. We have to trim it out, add the cabinet pulls and work on the island, but it is a vast improvement. It’s finally functioning, most importantly.

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Catching Up

As you may have noticed, I have been lazy when it comes to blogging for the past few months. I apologize. I have found myself pretty easily distracted in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

When I last blogged we were just arriving in Shaver Lake, California to work for a friend we met in La Paz. Our main goal, however was to explore, of course. Every day we were not working – Tim at the lake dock and me at the restaurant – we were out hiking. The area surrounding Shaver Lake is beautiful! Stunning views, streams and giant sequoias in Mckinley Grove. We really enjoyed our time working and playing in the central california area. And, Tim finally got sick of his long locks and buzzed his hair off while we were in Shaver (ironic, eh?).

Tim said he could sit and contemplate these giants for hours.

Us enjoying Huntington Lake.

Overlooking the valley near Mushroom Rock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The top of Black Point trailhead overlooking Huntington Lake, I think.

One of our favorite discoveries in the Shaver Lake area was the Dinkey Creek granite pools. Over centuries, the streams of snow runoff running through the heavily granite Sierra Nevada mountains carving out pools in the rock. The “Dinkey Pools” are one such series of pooling streams connected by waterfalls creating natural water slides. It took us some time to find the trailhead to hike back to the pools because it is not a marked trail, but it is a popular destination with the locals. After hiking about a mile, we found the pools and went swimming.

We found the Dinkey Pools… not sure if we should get in.

Tim climbing one of the waterfalls at Dinkey Pools.

The views were beautiful, and the water was cold!

Although we planned to spend most of the summer in Shaver Lake, I knew I would be spending July in Colorado waiting for my new niece to be born. I went to stay with my parents and sister for most of July in anticipation of Cora June Gregory, who arrived a week late on July 20, 2012. Tim flew out for the week we thought she would be born and got to meet her about an hour before he had to be back at the airport. She came just in the nick of time. While we were waiting for her, we did a lot of hiking in the area with my family in Evergreen, Colorado.

Tim and my niece hiking ahead in Colorado.

Me holding my new niece Cora.

A shot from Cora’s newborn photos. I couldn’t resist sharing.

After the excitement of welcoming our new niece, we headed back to California to pack up and prepare for our ’round the country visits with friends and family. We added a couple stops along the way so we went back down to Newport to visit David and Katie – some good friends we made while in Baja. Then we headed to Oregon to visit my long-time-friend Lauren who had recently taken a new job in Eugene. From there we went back over to Colorado, and Tim flew to Texas and back for his sister’s graduation from nursing school. When we left, we drove over to Ohio, Michigan and back down to Texas. Yup, I wasn’t kidding about our U.S. tour.

We went to the Orange County Fair in Newport, California. You must have a corn dog at the fair.

There was a surfing competition at Huntington Beach, so It was packed. Nothing like SoCal beaches.

We drove all the way from Newport to Eugene, Oregon, seeing most of California. We went through wine country and tons of golden rolling hills. Northern California and Oregon are so green, which was a nice change from the Baja desert. We explored the town of Eugene, the coast directly west, and the mountains to the east. We saw a lot in a weekend.

The coast was foggy and chilly, unlike the beaches we were used to. It was still very pretty.

Our feet went numb in the water for this picture!

Sunset on the historic bridge.

Sunset on the Oregon cost. We climbed sand dunes to get the view.

Tim at the base of the huge Proxy waterfall we hiked to in Oregon. It was so lush.

Me climbing up near the lower Proxy Falls.

Evergreen, Colorado was our next destination, but we knew we wanted to break it up into a two-day drive. We stopped in Salt Lake City and explored a little bit that evening and morning before heading along our way. Tim loved driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Stopping at the Salt Flats.

Sun setting over the mountains surrounding the Salt Flats.

The Great Salt Lake was huge and strangely calm. It was weird for us for to see such flat water.

We arrived in Colorado and stayed with my parents for most of August before going to Ohio and Michigan during Labor Day weekend to hang out with Tim’s extended family. They are some of the sweetest people ever. We had a lot of fun enjoying everyone’s company.

Tim’s grandparents are the most loving people. Grandpa Yoder turned 97 on Sept. 30.

Walking the pier over Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is so cool. It is just like the ocean, only no salt!

After Michigan came Texas, we’ve come full circle 9k miles. It had been a while since I had been there. It was 108 degrees when we arrived, but thankfully a cool front came through the next day and evened out the temperature for the couple of weeks we were there catching up with everyone. I got to meet my cousin’s new baby girl and play game nights with Tim and his parents.

I have to say, we really enjoyed getting to visit all our friends and family around the country. But we did find ourselves exhausted from traveling about 5,600 miles and living out of a bag for three months. I miss the homeyness of our boat, and we find ourselves longing for our own stability. We have been traveling for a full year now, which I am surprised we made it as long as we have. We still plan to go to our boat again early next year and sail the sea for a few months. Stability with freedom to travel is our long-term goal.

Happy Anniversary, I think

One of the questions I get most often about life on a boat is, “How can you stand each other that often in such a small space?” The answer is, we don’t.

We get fed up with one another and argue over stupid things. We even storm off and go outside to the cockpit. I think this behavior, although not preferred, is common among the first year of marriage as you both find your places in the relationship and your roles as husband and wife. I also think that our situation of spending nearly 24-hours a day together and overcoming new and constant challenges compounds this process a little bit. I like to think we are learning so much about each other that we are like a couple who has been married more than one year… maybe three. We have amazing days often, but I wanted to point out that we are still learning so much about sailing, living aboard and each other, that we often find ourselves stressed.

It is hard to believe one year has gone by since our wedding, but then I sit back and look at all the things that we have done and what has changed since then, and I am amazed. It makes me think that Tim and I can accomplish anything we set out to do. We will be able to take on the whole world, and fully intend to. Not necessarily in our boat, but certainly in some fashion.

Right now we have found ourselves in Marina de La Paz working on what we thought would be a few quick projects before we headed north into the sea. We have made good progress over the last few days polishing the stainless steel, replacing a faulty fuel injector, repairing our dinghy outboard motor and giving everything a good wash down. We also discovered a leak in our starboard fresh water tank and bought a new dinghy. Trade the good with the bad.

We don’t know how much longer this will keep us here in La Paz, so I am beginning to wonder if we will ever go north this year. Perhaps traveling north will have to wait until next season. This is so common among sailors here. Many people come to La Paz with intentions to only stay one or two months and soon they have spent a year here.

I am not really complaining about being in La Paz; it is comfortable and easy and beautiful, but it was not the intention to move to La Paz. The weather has warmed up quite a bit here in the past couple weeks to hit 90. It is nice to wear vacation clothes, but it does get hot working on the boat in the marina. I have tried to set a deadline for leaving La Paz – April 8 – my birthday and Easter this year. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but a girl can dream.

In the mean time we have been really enjoying our friends here while we can. Our friends from Texas came to visit – Torie and Andrew. We took them to the islands and showed them everything we could. We had one pretty bad rolling night, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. We have been soaking up our La Paz friends, too. Everyone has their plans and deadlines to leave, but we all still find ourselves here in sunny La Paz.

For our first anniversary Tim and I celebrated by having a delicious breakfast out in town where we discovered the best jam ever. It is papaya and pineapple and we bought a large amount to-go. We had an argument in the afternoon over something silly and made up in the evening. We took our dessert wine from Napa Valley that we have been saving for more than a year to the beach and had a glass while we looked at the stars. It was perfect – not story book perfect, but real life perfect.

Jasna selling goods at the swap meet in La Paz. The boaters organize a swap meet once a month.

Torie and Andrew checking out the view from the bow.

Torie and Me doing a little sunbathing in Caleta Partida.

One of the best sunsets yet.

Out with Rick and Jasna.

We had an anniversary breakfast where we discover the best jam ever.

Tim opening our wine with the help of his trusty headlamp.

Delicious wine on the beach

Happy Anniversary ; )

Me polishing all the stainless steel.

 

Tim’s Parents’ Visit

Steve and Debbie were not quite sure what they had signed up for when they decided to visit us in La Paz, but I think they were very pleasantly surprised. They had booked a hotel for the five nights they were here and left the option open to possibly stay on board the Luckiest. They only stayed in the hotel the first and last nights and stayed with us on the boat at the islands the other three nights.

We all had a wonderful time. Tim and I really enjoyed being able to share some of our experiences with family – especially at the islands – and it sounded like Debbie and Steve were enjoying it all. We got to show them the world of discovery we have been finding over the last few months.

We took them to the grocery store and the market the first day and headed out to the islands the next. We did get stopped by the Mexican Navy on our way out of the La Paz channel, but we had heard that they were friendly and courteous ambassadors that simply wanted to make sure nothing funny was going on. This was our first time being stopped, and machine guns always make me a bit nervous, but the troops really were pleasant and kind. One man boarded our boat while another four stayed on theirs. He asked to see our documentation, import permit, passports and if we had life jackets. Thanked us for our time and off they were. No big deal at all. I was glad it was just like we had heard.

As we got out to the channel, I convinced Tim to do a bit of sailing, even though we were making good time with the motor. Tim has decided he doesn’t like sailing too much, but I was able to get him to show Steve and Debbie some of the things we have been learning. We had a great smooth sail in about 10 knots of wind.

Our first stop was Candeleros Bay, which is one of our favorite anchorages because of the great hiking and the cool rock formations. We anchored there about an hour before dark. That night we all piled into our sad little deflating dinghy and zipped around in the dark water watching the bioluminescence glow. It is so magical looking and hard to describe without seeing it. we had a sparkling wake and as we would approach fish we could see them scatter surrounded by glowing plankton. It doesn’t get old seeing that. In the morning we all went up to the beach to do some hiking and exploring. We took Steve and Debbie up the center ridge just as we had done a couple weeks before. It’s great because we were able to get a great view of the bay without having to work too hard. We all went on a hike back into the valley. Steve did hurt his toe, but it was a easy-going hike other than that.

After lunch on the boat, we scooted over to Caleta Partida, a popular and well-protected spot. The winds had kicked up some, and Tim was feeling a bit adventurous, so we put up the sails at his insistence. I think we scared Debbie pretty good this time. We had Steve at the helm, just to give him a bit of a thrill as well, but I’m not sure he was quite ready to take on that task in those winds. We did some whipping back and forth (accidental tacking). We regained control, I took the helm and eased us into the anchorage. After we all settled down, Steve and Tim donned their wetsuits and went looking for some fish.

When they returned (no fish) we all decided to play cards and have something else for dinner. Little did we know that when the guys had returned from spear fishing, the dinghy was not properly secured to the boat, so before Tim and I tucked into bed (in the convertible dinette), he checked outside and we had no dinghy! It had floated off somewhere, and with light winds and lighter current, we knew it couldn’t be too far, but it was far too dark to see anything. This was pretty frustrating for Tim knowing he might be able to save it if he could see, but there was nothing we could do until the morning.

First thing in the morning we all hurried to eat and ready the boat to either go find the dinghy or head back in to La Paz. With no dinghy, there is no way off the boat, so our trip would have to be cut short. I was plotting ways to get a new dinghy and how we would get off the boat, etc. as we pulled up the anchor. Tim and Steve had binoculars on the bow and scouted to find it. It seemed unlikely because it had been missing for about 12 hours and the north winds had really kicked up in the night, which would have blown it out into the open sea. As we came out of the anchorage we checked one side along the shore and turned to head toward the other side. Then, shockingly, Tim spotted it! It had almost made it out of the large cove, but as it neared open sea the waves kept it pinned to the rocks.

Tim quickly suited up in his wet suit and I got him as close to the rocks as I could. He tossed our foam surfboard into the water and jumped in after it. We joked about his Seal Team Six dinghy rescue mission. He was great. He bailed it out, pumped it up, and paddled away from the rocks against the waves until we could pick him up. He was afraid the fuel had water in it, so he waited to replenish it before starting it up. We really were the Luckiest.

The rest of the trip had far less drama, thankfully. Our refrigerator did quit on us, but the food stayed cold enough for the whole trip. We made one more stop on the way back to La Paz – Bahia San Gabriel. This is where Tim and I had spent Christmas. It has a huge white sand beach, and Debbie was really enjoying looking for shells, so we spent lunch there before heading back.

We drove them back to the airport and they were wishing they had planned for more time to stay. Now we are regrouping before we head back to the states ourselves. We are taking the ferry across the sea on Sunday and driving back out to Galveston to join up with more family for the company cruise. Yes, we are leaving our boat on one side of the Mexican coast to go to a cruise on the other side of the Mexican coast. Kind of ironic, but it should be relaxing, which we both need.

After the cruise we are heading up to Austin, Dallas, Evergreen, Colo., and end in Corpus Christi for my dear friend’s wedding on March 3. From there we will head back to our boat here in La Paz. We feel like we are ready to cut strings in La Paz and head north into the sea as soon as we return. We shall see how it goes.

Exploring the rock ridge in Candeleros Bay.

 

Nice View

 

Tim and Steve off to spear hunt and snorkel.

Tim rescuing the dinghy.

 

Steve snorkeling in Caleta Partida

 

Debbie looking for treasures on the beach. She went home with loads of shells.