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Hurricane Irma

So, Hurricane Irma has been barreling across the Atlantic during the last few days and she’s headed right for us. Though the forecast doesn’t show her as a direct hit, all bets are off with a major (Cat3 and above) hurricane. The most reliable model is the Euro and that has it coming straight for us. The less reliable GFS model shows it going further North of us. The two models still don’t agree and we are anywhere from 4-5 days out. The direction and strength can change so fast despite what the forecast models show so we pretty much have to prepare for the worst.

It’s really difficult to wrap my brain around this, especially after the recent flooding we had here on Tortola and all the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I mean, I know it’s peak hurricane season here in the Caribbean but you just never think it’s gonna happen to you. I’m really good at being in denial about stuff like this. It’s our fourth hurricane season and really the first time we’ve ever had to “expect” a named storm on our doorstep.

I’m actually pretty emotional about the whole thing. Granted, I have all these postpartum hormones making it worse, but Peter and I made a decision to have me fly off island with Brig. It’s just not worth risking our safety with something this big and this strong coming so close.

It wasn’t until just two days ago that this was even an option. Technically, he cannot enter the U.S. without a passport. Since he was born in BVI and does not qualify for a BVI passport, we technically have to wait until the US Consulate in Barbados comes to visit here in BVI to apply for his US passport.  Well, given our circumstances with an impending life threatening storm headed for us, the US Customs and Boarder Protection agency at the St Thomas airport has granted me special permission to let us travel with just a birth certificate for him instead of a passport.  The moment they told me that, I of course started to cry with relief. I don’t want to have to go anywhere but it really is the best thing.

Peter is going to stay here and continue to secure our boat for as long as it’s safe before taking shelter somewhere nearby. He’ll have Betsy to care for but at least he won’t have the added stress of making sure Brig and I are safe too. I’m going to take a ferry from Tortola to St Thomas and catch a flight out on Monday. I will be going up to stay with my family in Washington State far away from the Caribbean and the East Coast.

Its a decision we wouldn’t have made if we didn’t have Brig. I would’ve just stayed here and helped Peter with the safeguarding of our home. Everyone knows that when you have kids, your life changes. Your priorities change. You make different decisions. You do what’s best for your children no matter what.

A round trip ticket cost me $1400 two days ago with one three hour layover via American Airlines. Now there are no more American flights, and tickets are $1500 only available with Jet Blue with two layovers including one for 10 hours. ($2200 with United). I pretty much got one of the last decent flights available to fly out Monday. Let’s hope they didn’t overbook it.

Our boat is in the best possible location it could be in. Literally, the best spot inside this hurricane hole. The boat really shouldn’t see any waves at all and should feel reduced wind. Peter will do everything he can to make sure our home is safe.

I’m just sick about leaving my husband, my dog and my home in the path of a hurricane. Everything could be totally fine and then again it could be really bad. I pray they will be safe and that I will have a home to come back to. Everything we own is on that boat. It’s insured of course and it’s just stuff, but I can’t imagine losing everything I own in a natural disaster.

It happens all over the world. The west coast gets earthquakes and is due for “the big one”. The midwest gets tornadoes. We get hurricanes. I suppose we should be grateful we have so much warning.

I’m sure the cell towers will be down for quite some time so I may not be able to hear from Peter. I’m going to be worried sick. Power will be off island wide and he’ll be relying on the water and food supply we have stocked up. If the boat fares well, he’ll be able to stay aboard after the storm. If not, one person has offered their home to us so atleast Peter and Betsy will have a place to go either after the storm or before if things get too crazy.  Before I made my flight reservation we really didn’t have anywhere on land to go, so it wasn’t even a question of whether or not I should leave.

If you pray, please pray for us and for everyone in Irma’s path. We need all the positive vibes we can get…

I may not get a chance to post an update to our website as the storm approaches, but I will definitely be updating our Facebook page as I have more info. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account you can still see updates by clicking HERE

To all my friends and family in WA… now’s your chance to meet Brig! Send me a message <3

First Beach Day

While my dad and Stacy were here, we decided to take Brig down to the beach just outside their condo at Long Bay. It was an absolutely gorgeous day with a perfect, picturesque view all around us. A nice big palm tree cast a perfect shadow on the sand with lots of space to keep us out of the hot sun.  His little skin is so fragile so we are careful to keep him shaded if we do have to go into the sun with him.

I set up the little shade tent that dad and Stacy got for us and gave it a whirl. It sets up in an instant, provides plenty of shade and is big enough for me to sit in there with him. The only bummer part about it was that the wind had started to pick up a little and sand was blowing every which way. I was worried about sand getting in Brig’s eyes so we didn’t stay down at the beach very long but it was still fun for his first time!

While we sat up in the shade, we watched Nana and Grandma Stacy float around in the crystal blue water. Peter had to work that day so we decided to wait for daddy before letting Brig go in the ocean for the first time ;) Even though I didn’t go swimming, I still loved every second of being down by the water. Next time, Brig and I will be out there too! Before I know it, he’ll be a little fish just like his daddy so I wasn’t too bummed about missing out on the cool waves.

Sometimes I look at the pictures I take here in BVI and I can’t believe how gorgeous it all is.  We’re so lucky to be able to call this place home…

Adventures in Guadalajara

Catching up on our adventures from this summer…

After spending some time with family in San Diego and LA, we bought flights to visit Peter’s grandmother in Guadalajara, Mexico. It had been a very long time since he had seen her last and we didn’t know when we’d get the chance to do so again. His Aunt Lucy had been there many times before and speaks better Spanish than Peter does so we were relieved to know she would come with us ;)

The easiest way to get there was to walk across the boarder in San Diego and fly from Tijuana to Guadalajara. Peter’s cousin Kayleigh dropped us off so we wouldn’t have to leave our car there. We tried out the new Cross Boarder Express (CBX) walkway and it was a breeze! It took us right into the airport in Tijuana. Super easy and we didn’t have to go through the mess of traffic that you can find in Tijuana while trying to get to the airport.

The flight wasn’t bad, though it was a whopping three hours. We arrived in Guadalajara and instead of hailing a taxi we decided to rent a car instead. The best part about our whole travel experience was finding out that our AT&T prepaid Go-Phone plan worked like normal in Mexico too! I couldn’t even believe it! We could make phone calls and text, and even had 3G internet the whole time! That was a HUGE relief to find out we could rely on Google Maps to get us around. I had actually been a fan of Apple maps before, but in Mexico I immediately realized how much better Google Maps was when it showed us what each lane was going to do before we got there. If you’ve ever been on a highway in Mexico you know that the roads the signage there sucks. If you think you want to stay in the slow lane, be prepared to end up exiting onto a different freeway with no idea where it goes to! I don’t think I’ve ever loved Google as much as I did during those four days.

Peter’s Grandmother SO excited to see us! We took her shopping at the mall, and went to lunch.

Peter’s Tio Marco knew we were deeply deprived of some real Mexican street tacos so he took us to his favorite spot. We ate them so fast I couldn’t even get a picture!

Driving around in Guadalajara was easier than in the islands. We were deep into mainland-Mexico and it was surprisingly pretty nice there! No hills, traffic lights, functioning blinkers, and everyone drives on the right side of the road ;) There are sidewalks and even ATVs sharing the lane.

Commercial driveways were a bit funky.

Many residential garages and driveways are short carports that extend into the front of your house.

Lots of one-way streets.

One of the days we took Grandma into the historic town of Tlaquepaque for a little sight-seeing and lunch.

We don’t go anywhere without our Yeti’s! (Thank you Jack and Nikki!)

Saint Peter:

Grandma’s caretaker came with us to help her get around and we all had ice cream after lunch!

A traditional Mexican novelty here is to have your fortune told by a little bird that picks several fortunes out of a little box. Grandma really wanted to do it. They were very long to read and didn’t translate well so she said she would read them when she got home and tell us what they said then. She never did tell us what they said.

One of the best meals we had was that afternoon in Tlaquepaque. It doesn’t get more authentic than this!

There was even an all-female Mariachi band that came in to sing for everyone.

Peter and I had been running every evening for exercise and we were super excited to find this awesome park very nearby to where Grandma lived. It was huge! And super safe. There were lots of other people out here every day to get exercise too.

Our trip was short but we were happy we were able to visit Peter’s Grandma and take a little vacation from our vacation and explore somewhere new :) We’re always looking for a new adventure!

California Dreamin’

 

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After a short layover in Miami, we arrived at LAX airport in the very wee hours of August 6th. Peter’s dad was waiting for us at the baggage claim area with arms wide open. He’d visited us in the islands a few times but it felt like forever ago. Until this moment, we were California Dreamin’ about what it would be like to be back in the states. After years of living in the islands, it becomes quite clear that the U.S. is the land of milk and honey – the land of plenty – where everything you could possibly want is at your fingertips.

What did we do first? We went to the closest In-n-Out burger drive-through of course!! We fed our starving faces after a very long day of traveling and then proceeded to take a nice long, real, hot shower back at Peter’s dad’s house, before completely crashing out.

The very next day we made it a priority to find some real authentic Mexican food! Three years without it is just wrong.

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Over the next few weeks we accumulated some new clothes and some running shoes. We went into a Costco probably a little sooner than we should have – I think I almost had a panic attack from sensory overload in there. The carts were four times bigger than the ones in Soper’s Hole and it was like a frickin freeway in every isle! We went into a normal sized grocery store, a CVS pharmacy and even the movie theaters. It was exhausting.

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I stared in awe at things like water fountains in the mall where they just keep dumping water out all day long and people even throw money into it!!! Mind blowing!!! Its things like this that I never would have noticed before. Now, it’s incredibly disturbing how wasteful our society is. I thought California was in a draught. (I know its probably recirculating water but still… )

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We also took care of some real-world responsibilities like renewing our driver’s licenses, buying and registering a new-to-us car, obtaining car insurance, and sorting through mail. We even stood in line outside the DMV before it opened. What a nightmare.

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We found a great deal on a 2006 Tahoe on Craigslist that would serve many purposes for us, most importantly getting us around to all the family we were going to visit. We wanted something comfortable, reliable, something we could potentially sleep in while driving from California to Washington, something with 4wd and something that would easily tow the motorcycle trailer we had left our stuff in three years before. We had plans to tow the trailer up to WA then empty it at my dad’s, then sell the truck and trailer before flying back to our boat.

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When we saw the trailer again for the first time, we were surprisingly pleased with the condition! Fear of water damage, heat damage, rats and insects had us scared to even open it. A huge sigh of relief came from both of us though as we saw that everything inside was perfectly safe. The plastic hatch/vent on top of the trailer had long since disintegrated in the hot California sun but luckily nothing was damaged by the little bit of water that did come in. There were a few spiders but not enough to gross me out.

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The first order of business was to take everything out and decide what we wanted to get rid of, and what we really wanted to haul up to Washington to store with my family. Some sentimental items like an old rocking chair, photographs and Christmas decorations were definitely being saved.  There were other items inside like camping gear and yard tools that would be very expensive to replace if we ever moved back to land but just not realistic to hold onto anymore. Honestly, we have no plans for becoming landlubbers anytime in the foreseeable future. We gave away a lot of things to Peters family and carefully repacked the trailer with the remaining items – about half of what was there before.

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After getting the trailer prepped for our journey north, we continued to enjoy our time in sunny southern California. We visited SO many people, both young and old. Peter and I learned about Pokemon-Go and Uber. So much had changed since we had been there last!

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One of my favorite moments was visiting a nail salon with Peter’s step-mom Monica!! I picked out a Caribbean Blue nail polish (to match my ring of course) and tried to explain to the poor ladies why my hands and feet were so calloused :S

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While staying at Wiley and Monica’s house in LA, we ended up doing a little ‘Cesar Milan’ work with their dog Little Man. He had this complex where he would “claim” their entire dining room table and every chair around it! Apparently he had been doing it for years and they couldn’t even have guests over. After watching a very short Cesar video on YouTube I set to work to claim back the table and chairs :) The picture below was taken by Peter while Monica was at work one day. She could not believe it!! Not only was Little Man allowing me to sit in ‘his’ chair, he was sharing his new bed with Betsy :)

I am SO proud of Monica for how fast she learned how to do what I did. She couldn’t believe how easy it was to change her energy and her actions, which in turn allowed Little Man  to be less stressed and calm and submissive! Monica has happily reported that after we left, she is still able to sit at the table whenever she wishes. Yay!!!

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With lots more family to see, we drove all over southern California.

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I’m SO happy we got to see my friends Jen and Mark one afternoon as we passed through Orange County. Before we left three years ago, Peter and I had attended their baby shower for their first child, Isabella. I was heartbroken I couldn’t be there when she was born, and even more heartbroken I wasn’t there when she had her second baby, Jamison. Jen and Mark were very good friends of mine since the time I first moved to California back in 2008. Even though we only had a few hours with them, it was definitely a highlight of my trip. Their babies are so beautiful, so very sweet, and so lucky to have such good parents!

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At Peter’s Aunt Lucy and Uncle John’s house, his cousin Kayleigh found a way to sneak Betsy up on the only couch she wasn’t allowed on ;) She wasn’t deprived of cuddling, that’s for sure. This was our home-base in San Diego. We had the most amazing home-cooked meals thanks to Aunt Lucy, and we even started running in the evenings. During the days we bounced all around visiting friends and our favorite places in our home away from home – Sunny San Diego.

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Another luxury I treated myself to was scheduling a visit to see Rob – the best hair stylist in San Diego – at The Park Salon! It was SO nice to walk in and be offered wine, soda, water, coffee or tea, then get shampooed in a special room that could also double as a meditation room, which ended with an amazing shoulder massage – just in case I wasn’t relaxed enough – followed by laughter and chit chat without ever having to describe what I want done because he’s that good. Even though I have a harder hairstyle to cut, Rob knows exactly what to do. Back in the islands I never ever got my hair cut because no one knows how to my cut the right way! Sigh. What a relief to pay for a service where someone actually knows what they are doing!! Maybe I can convince Rob to bring his family to Tortola to open a salon!! ;)

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Speaking of the park… we visited a few real parks, with real green grass and open spaces. Peter played baseball with his little cousins at Kate Sessions park in San Diego and of course he learned how to hunt for Pokemon.

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We visited my sister Annie and met her incredibly charming boyfriend Charlie! One of the items we found in the trailer was Peter’s old skateboard that Betsy used to tow him on. Annie loves skateboarding so we thought it was a very appropriate gift for her. When we brought it out to show her, I think Betsy was just as excited. She instantly remembered what to do and Peter took her for one final run. She went nuts!!!

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The beaches were just how we remembered them. A cool, crisp breeze with the warm sun kissing our faces… It’s a totally different kind of beach here.

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Peter did manage to get in some surf while we were there. We stayed at the South Carlsbad campground – camping out in our awesome Tahoe – and had a bunch of friends come visit. While we didn’t get to see everyone, we both saw some of our closest friends. We did our best to not get too overwhelmed with scheduling all of our visits though it was a very daunting task to try to align schedules with so many different people in so many different places. For those that we missed, you’ll just have to come visit us in the islands!

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Up next… how Peter was almost eaten by a Sumatran Tiger!!

West Coast Here We Come!

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Another day is done as we inch closer to the end of the charter season. August 2nd will be our last charter before we take a much needed three month break. What will we do?

We’re hauling our boat out of the water for the remainder of Hurricane Season and Betsy, Peter and I will be flying back to the States for the first time in THREE YEARS!

We’ll visit family and friends in California for a few weeks first, then we’ll drive up to Washington to see more family and friends, then we’ll be finishing up our travels in Tampa, FL to see my sister. We’ve been talking about some exciting ideas for what to do with the time between CA and WA but I can’t tell you quite yet. If the timing happens to work out, we could be in store for an absolutely epic adventure ;)

In the meantime, we’re trying to prep our boat and do as much decommissioning now as we can so the actual haul out process goes quickly. We’ve got today off work and one more day off scheduled. Our timing is going to be very tight:

August 2 – Last Charter

August 3 – Take the boat up to Virgin Gorda and stage for hauling

August 4 – Haul the boat at 9:30am

August 5 – Be in St. Thomas by 10:45am, Vet appointment at 11:30, Airport arrival by 2:00, Depart by 5pm

August 6 – Arrive in LAX by 1:00am

 

We’ll return to our boat in Mid October for some TLC before diving into another busy charter season on Aristocat beginning November 1.

If you’ll be anywhere between San Diego and the greater Seattle Area from August to October… let us know!

Also, we’re looking to buy a truck or SUV in LA or San Diego, most importantly to have transportation to visit everyone, but also to haul a motorcycle trailer up to Washington in September, then sell both the truck and trailer before we fly home. Let us know if you’re selling a comfortable V6 truck or SUV with a tow package in LA or SD!

Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for all the updates!