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Big Leaps Coming Up

A foggy day hiking Cajas National Park, Ecuador.

More than three hundred and forty days ago, we pulled out of the driveway to begin our trip; twelve countries later, and we are getting ready to head to our very last stop before we head home.

But our last month of travel doesn't exactly look like what one might call "winding down." First, we are somehow moving our bodies from the wild mountains of Ecuador back to the North American continent we call home, by means of a three-flight-and-an-overnight-layover journey. Our first flight takes us from Cuenca to the much bigger airport of Quito, and then (after killing time in one or more Priority Pass lounges, I'm sure) all the way to, you guessed it, Fort Lauderdale. For some reason, unless we wanted to spend a good $1,200 per person more, our only flight options--every single one--took us through the Fort Lauderdale airport. So for the first time since December, we'll find ourselves making our way across the United States border so we can spend the night at a beach hotel and catch a flight to Phoenix the next day.

Phoenix is where we're being picked up by Andrew's parents. They will be with their boat, S/V Galapagos, so far north in the Sea of Cortez that it made far more sense (and cost way less) to fly into Arizona and drive back down into Mexico than to, say, fly into Mexico City more than 1,000 miles away. It is likely we'll spend a night or two in Arizona before making the multi-hour drive to the marina.

And then it's boat-living in the waters of Mexico for at least three weeks! The longest I've been on a sailboat was five days, about five years ago, so that will be a brand-new experience. We're planning on doing an overnight passage or two and lots of snorkeling. It's been a little while since Andrew's really sailed (he sold his boat a few years ago), and I know he's ready to get back to it. I imagine I'll learn a few things, which is good, because...

Andrew, being very cool, circa 2010.

We've been thinking a lot--naturally--about life back home and how we want to set ourselves up for success with some of the things we've learned on this trip. And we've come to the conclusion that we'd like to try living aboard our own boat in the waters of Tacoma instead of signing a lease for an apartment.


My first sailing trip, and our first multi-day trip together
in the San Juan Islands, 2014.

I suppose there's a slight risk in making this information public before we test run aboard the boat in Mexico, but posting on this blog well before we had any right to worked out well in the past! We came to this decision for a number of reasons. The first and biggest has to do with this travel lifestyle we've naturally been enjoying for the last year--we're not interested in just giving up all the novelty and adventure we've come to find normal, just for the sake of "coming home" and "working again." We've got our eye on Foss Harbor (and by "eye on" I mean we put money down on a deposit for the slip waiting list) which would be an ideal location on Tacoma's waterfront, putting us very close to jobs, friends, and things to do. Commencement Bay is also a beautiful spot between Seattle and Olympia, two day sails, and within reach of the San Juans when we want to take a little vacation. Boat living can provide new challenges and things to learn, plus the ability to just take our house across the water when we want a brief change of scenery, while still remaining stable (and employed) in our home town.

It's certainly a perk that the monthly cost of a slip and a boat payment add up to about the same as a small apartment in the outskirts of town, but significantly less than the cost of a place right there on the Tacoma waterfront. It's a way for us to afford a lifestyle we might not be able to otherwise, and have ownership over our living space in a way that you just can't get when you, well, don't own your living space.

When we're not hiking some trails in Cajas National Park or meeting up with friends for a beer with Claire and Dan, Andrew's browsing Craigslist for new boat listings within the 34 to 42 foot range, and I'm scheming ways to make our future cabin practical but also adorable. (Color scheme TBD but you know there will be a plethora of pillows!)

Another Cajas photo, because we are still in Ecuador!

Our work life is still more or less a question mark, besides my obvious return to the wonderful Uncorked Canvas family. I'll likely reapply to Tacoma Public School's substitute roster, and Andrew might do the same. He will probably pick up some jobs for his sister Claire's company, and we'll figure out the rest once we're back on the ground at home. Our boat plan is, of course, many months out (months that will involve bumming around at my parents' house and mooching off of our friends Melina and John, who are moving into a new house with their toddler) but timing should work out beautifully (like right after the worst of the winter is over!).

It's weird to be planning for reintegrating our lives in Washington State while we're still so far away... 4,345 miles away to be exact. We've still got a lot of ground to cover in this last month, and then there are some big changes and general life stuff immediately following. I suppose we're not really the types to let things truly "slow down."

Little canal boat adventure in Edam, Netherlands.


Doesn't this look romantic?

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