Saturday, September 7, 2013

Land Adventures

Our summer pond

Around cruiser circles, discussions arise regarding off-boat living circumstances.  Many people we’ve met live aboard their boats for part of the year and then head somewhere on land for anywhere from a few days to several months.  On-land residences can include motorhomes, living with family (usually adult children…tricky), a house, condo, or trailer.  The challenge is leaving an on-land residence for several months, and how to have it taken care of.  Creative solutions have included sharing a residence or moving around to different family members in order not to wear out one’s welcome.  Many we’ve met rent out their homes while they are on the boat but this can be a big headache.  Until this summer, we’ve kept our city house and thankfully rented it out successfully.  It was a constant concern, however, and Craig had to fly back home to do some repairs last spring.  We sold it a month ago so are delighted to be one home lighter for a while.

For some sailors, land living is a break from the demands of life on a boat.   I know we won’t get much sympathy but boat life is hard work.  It is a relief to be able to sleep at night knowing our house won’t float away and hit something else.  Squally storms are beautiful from the comfort of the couch.  There are also issues of health care (we are only able to be away for 6 months in order to maintain our provincial health care), residency requirements, and family needs.  We were away longer during our first season thanks to a two year leave from our health care plan and now seem to be settling into 6 months here and 6 months on the boat.

We do have a cozy little cabin we call home for the summer that is without running water or grid power.  We have owned it for 11 years and living power-frugally has helped raise our consciousness of energy consumption, easing our transition to boat life.  We haven’t used blow dryers, blenders, large refrigerators, or infinite lighting for years so our boat is a giant step up for luxury.  The cabin is also a breeze to lock up and leave for several months.  We have no worries about yard work or pipes breaking.  We wake up to deer in our field along with calls of sand hill cranes, and are enjoying a beautiful Alberta autumn with colourful leaves and fields busy with combines.
Cranes in our field

Our one electronic luxury at the cabin is the television.  Both Craig and I are Tour de France fanatics and missed the month long cycle race televised in July so invested several years ago in solar power and a low-usage TV and satellite dish.  Craig jokes that we don’t have running water, meaning an outhouse is our only toileting option next to the bush, but we have 137 channels.  We are glued to the TV every July, and I have come to adore Australian Cadel Evans, Tour winner in 2011.

We were therefore ecstatic when Alberta hosted an international cycle race, the Tour of Alberta, this past week so attended the Prologue opener in Edmonton.  We were astounded to be able to stand next to cycling icons such as my Cadel, Peter Sagan, Christian Vande Velde, and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, as they warmed up, walked around chatting to fans, and practiced along the route.  It was a thrill to get close to the equipment, see world-class bike mechanics at their craft, and watch the parade of motorcycles and team vehicles loaded with world-class bikes as they roared in behind each rider.  I stood at the first corner out of the starting chute, squealing as the cyclists whooshed past, inches from my nose.  The Tour has covered central Alberta and shown stunning vistas of our home province.   As Craig has pointed out, what other world-class event can a fan attend for free?

Summer has therefore been another adventure with Alberta Crewed somewhat off of my radar.   The days are getting shorter and cooler now, and I am already beginning to turn my compass back to the boat.  Although we still have a couple of months left before we leave, our sailing season inauguration will be the beloved Annapolis boat show in October.  We love it as much as we love the Tour and it fires up our energy and gets things in gear.   In the meantime, I am in Ottawa and Montreal for a week visiting friends and reveling in more Canadiana by touring Parliament, sampling Quebec cheeses, and sipping lattes at French cafes.   What a glorious life I lead.