Heading South

Here is Eric’s account of our trip heading South…Enjoy!

 

It is now Saturday and we have left our house, packed up all that we have left, and are a week into our boat trip.  We have yet to actually move the boat.  At this point my hands are sore and I don’t see them getting better any time soon. 

The trip had a bold start.  My 1975 Bronco has had low oil pressure issues for the last few months.  I first saw low oil pressure and thought it was the old gauge, or sending unit, but after changing the sending unit and checking the gauge it looked like it really had low oil pressure.  I found that the fuel pump was flooding the oil with fuel, easy fix, but the damage was done.  The week before we left I changed out the oil pump, main, and connecting rod bearings in hope to get back my oil pressure.  It was a fools errand though, the new bearings would be sacrificial without a full engine rebuild.  However, the bronco only had to make the 750 miles to my folks house in the panhandle of Florida. 

So we loaded up all that we could fit into a 42 year old Bronco and our Toyota minivan.  The poor minivan had so much stuff in it that I had to add more air to the tires to make them round again.  We started to drive off to our first of many gas stops.  The Bronco gets about 11 miles per gallon and only has a 12 gallon tank, so we were going to stop for fuel every two hours.  With all my repairs the Bronco started with an oil pressure of 45 psi, good, but when the engine warmed up, it dropped to 20ish psi.  So I drove nervously down the highway at 2800 rpm with just under 20 psi.  I was looking at my gauges every few seconds and it took me a little while to realize that I was driving without any mirrors of any kind.  You see I never finished the paint job on the bronco, so the side doors didn’t have mirrors and because the truck was so full of stuff I couldn’t see out the back either.  I tried to stick my head out to change lanes as much as possible, but since the the Bronco has 5 pt harnesses I didn’t get that far out.  Most of my lane changes were on faith and my driving was like Mr. Magoo.  However, we were barreling down the freeway at about 65 mph, and my speedometer was reading closer to 14 (yes, another probelm). It’s surprising it moved it’s lazy ass at all. 

We made the first gas stop without incident.  This was the longest continuous driving trip the Bronco had made in over 10 years.  I fueled up, and checked the oil.  Just as I expected and feared, the oil was getting darker and started to have a silverish hue to it.  The silver was no doubt from the new bearings.  The question was would they last.  I was running Amsoil 20w-50 wt oil, and the super oil would hopefully hold off a catastrophic failure.  So with the strength of a prayer I jumped back into the Bronco and started her up…or tried to.  The starter motor wouldn’t engage.  I jumped out a little disappointed and unearthed a steel bar & beat on the starter trying to loosen up the bendex.  No luck.  I then had my wife try to start the Bronco while I hit the starter motor and that got it engaged.  So we drove off to the next fuel stop, two more hours of unknown klinks and bangs, the whine of 33” super swampers, constantly sweating over the gauges, and no radio because it wasn’t loud enough to hear.

The next gas stop was not so lucky, the starter never engaged, however my wife was sport enough to help me push start the Bronco in her flip flops.  I make it a rule to try to have manual transmissions for the push start capability.  And that’s how we finished out the first day, a lunch stop and two more fuel stops, and push starts each time.  I tried to find either flat or down hill slopes to fuel from.  Only once did I fuel up and the down hill ended in a curb followed by a drop off.  I just had to get into the Bronco fast, and pop the clutch before the drop off.  I was able to get it started just as the wheels started to go over the curb.  The entire trip each gas stop showed a little more silver in the oil and a little more chance of a catastrophic failure.  We finally made it to the hotel while the oil pressure gauge was dancing on my last nerve at 17 psi at 2800 rpm and 0 psi at anything less then 1500 rpm.  But we did make it to the hotel were there was a pool, and a bed.  We had been sleeping on air mattresses for the last 6 weeks. 

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The girls enjoying some pool time at the hotel.

The next day I woke up knowing that I had to change out the starter.  I think if I asked Kelly for another push start she would shoot me with one of my own guns.  Luckily changing the starter on the Bronco is a 10 min job, so I took the minivan to Autozone to get a new starter with another lifetime warrantee.  For some reason they couldn’t find my old starter lifetime warrantee in the system.  I’ve seen this before, but for $50 I didn’t care.  Then I thought about the oil, it turns out they didn’t carry the straight 50 weight oil, but O’Reilly’s does, so I did an oil and filter change in their parking lot.  Additionally I found that my power steering was leaking, that was new, but par for the course, so load up on some power steering fluid and we’ll deal with that later.

We set off on the final drive to park the Bronco, a mere 350 miles down the road.  The 50 weight oil only helped marginally getting me about 2 additional psi, not enough to be comforting.  However unlike the day before the starter worked, and that was good.  All was well on the highway, but then I had to follow the wife for the last 40 miles or so on the roads of southern Alabama and northern Florida because she had the directions.  This was the most nerve racking part of the trip.  Kelly thought she was helping me by going the speed limit, 45-50, she thought going slower would be good for the Bronco.  However, going slower meant lower rpms, which means lower oil pressure, which means higher chance of KABOOM.  So I would ride up on her bumper and wave at her to go faster and she ignored me.  (In my defense, I couldn’t see him through my rearview mirror because of all the crap in the minivan. But I digress…) By the grace of God we made it to my folk’s house, I’m really not sure how. 

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Eric’s parents’ new house in FL

The third day of travel would get us down to the boat.  The Bronco was parked but that left us with some additional items that would need to be transported to the boat and the fact that we would have to fit all four of us into the minivan.  I had anticipated this problem and brought a large canvas bag that I could lash to the roof of the minivan.  We moved all our clothes into the roof bag and some other items that wouldn’t be hurt if we ran into a little rain.  And run into rain we did.  As things would have it there was a tropical storm passing through the east cost of Florida while we were driving.  So yes, there was some rain.

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We made it! The girls and I seeing her for the 1st time.

We’ve been working our butts off on the boat since we arrived. It’s exhausting, but rewarding. We’ll catch you up on our first few weeks in FL next time.

Wrapping up MO life

We’re so much closer to casting off! Thankfully the girls’ allergies are in check and Eric has fully recovered from his cellulitis blip. We’ve also learned a lot about selling a house and are happy to report, that ours is under contract! We will be leaving STL very soon.

While the house was on the market, I took the kids out of town. It was easier to keep our house ‘show ready’ this way. I made the drive an adventure by planning a few surprise stops along the way. On the first day we stopped at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and on the last day we stopped at the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. Both stops were huge hits and we highly recommend them. They were great active stops to help break up the drive and stretch our legs. I love Roadtrippers! That’s how I found both of these gems.

A lot of driving later, we arrived in Newport, Rhode Island to see Popi, my dad! We visit every year, but usually not until late summer. It was noticeably cooler and wholeheartedly welcomed! We had a nice relaxing time hanging out with Popi exploring the beach at the end of the street several times a day. We even were able to see him in action during a HAM radio field day event. Sheryle brought us to her eldest daughter’s house in Little Compton. We love the life they’ve built. Cloe fell in love with her daughter’s guinea pig. Both girls have informed us that they want guinea pigs when we get off the boat.

While in Newport we visited our usual haunts and the kids loved exploring the tide pools with our dear friend Jill’s kids. We also caught up with my Uncle Paul. Good times. Now, while we were in RI, Eric took one final quick trip down to the boat because it was finished at the yard! He sailed her back to the dock, where she is waiting for us to finish up a few projects, provision her & head out. It’s gettin’ real!

Once the girls and I got word that the house was under contract, we headed back to Missouri to finish packing. I only surprised them with one stop this time, Ohio Caverns. The girls had been to cave before, but nothing like this. So many stalactites and stalagmites. They enjoyed this stop much more than I expected. So glad we stopped!

Last weekend we brought the BMW to David, one of Eric’s long time friends, who will be keeping it while we cruise. Their kids have 2 guinea pigs, and again, my girls loved cuddling with them. Of course there were more declarations of guinea pig ownership in the future. It was a nice visiting with the Owsley’s again!

Now we’re back in MO packing up what remains of our stuff and cleaning up the house for the soon-to-be new owners. It’s crazy to think that we’ll be saying goodbye to our Missouri lives next week and even crazier that we’ll be casting off next month!

6 Month Catch Up

Catching everyone up on 6 months seems a monumental task…especially this year.

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At the end of 2016, Cloe turned 7 and Eric and I celebrated our 16th anniversary. 2017 started with big news…we decided to pull the trigger on making our boat trip dream a reality! You may (or may not) know that Eric and I have been planning on buying a boat to go sailing with the girls for a few years. Of course, this is impossible to do in Missouri, so we knew this plan would mean BIG changes in our world.

1st change was resigning from my library job. It was hard leaving a job that I loved, but a necessity. We also spent all winter fixing up the house – painting walls, new kitchen countertops, new carpet, selling furniture, sorting and packing up what we want to keep & store, and donating the rest. We also rented a 20 yard dumpster…and filled it! It’s amazing what we accumulated in 16 years. This preparation was a lot of work, but we knew all the sorting, selling, & cleaning would help sell the house.

During the thick of prepping exhaustion, we found our boat! It was a great deal & we look forward to calling it home. It’s a 47 foot catamaran named Purrfect. Yes, a cat pun. (eye roll) She really is a great boat. Check out the pictures! Currently she resides in Fort Lauderdale, but soon RI will be her new home.

To end the school year, we held a joint birthday party for the girls. Cloe had never had a ‘friend’ party, and Tali was turning double digits so we knew we wanted to make this last MO party an event. We rented a game truck where the girls played all kinds of video games with their friends on big screen TVs. They ended their 1st & 4th grade years with a bang!

Last week was incredibly stressful. Eric drove the truck and our trailer full of stuff down to Florida. The house went on the market. No offers yet, but we have faith that we’ll get one soon. Both girls were diagnosed with allergy induced asthma. We were having a heck of a time trying to manage it, but now, thanks to advice from friends and doctors, we have a better handle of things. And lastly, while Eric was in Florida, somehow he got cellulitis and had to be hospitalized for 4 days. He’s back home now and doing fine. Needless to say, we’re glad to put that week behind us!

Wrapping up 2016

The end of 2016 has gone by so fast. Eric’s parents took a hiatus from their boat life at the end of October for their ‘annual U.S. visit.’ We started November celebrating Veteran’s Day both at Kelly’s work then again at the girls’ school. The boys were even able to hear Tali’s choir sing during the ceremony!

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Thanksgiving found us, yet again, in a log cabin in the mountains of north Georgia. This year our cabin was closest to a town that literally split the border of TN & GA. It also has a massively steep hill that the kids loved playing on!

Good times are always had when ‘Hauquitz South’ & ‘Hauquitz North’ meet up. Lots of conversation, hanging out, fishing, exploring the woods, gem-mining, waterfall seeing, board gaming, crafting, playing pool, and hot-tubbing. We also visited a massive apple orchard! Aron and crew are predicting a move in their near future, so sadly, our Blue Ridge days have ended. If anyone knows of a great mountain town to visit somewhere between MO & D.C., let us know.

For the past few years, Eric has had to dash to Orlando after Thanksgiving for a convention for work. This year he found that a few of the promotional materials had his picture on them! He felt that Boeing performed the showcase of their simulator well and was very pleased at the excitement of the customers that came through.

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December started with Cloe FINALLY losing her 2nd tooth! That lil’ buggar had been loose since the end of summer! Cloe speculated that Christopher Pop-in-kins (our Christmas elf) would meet the Tooth Fairy that night, and sure enough, they did! For those of you not familiar with ‘elf rules’ we can’t touch the elf when we find him in the house because he’ll lose his magic and won’t be able to return. So, Cloe had to get creative when getting the Tooth Fairy’s gift. So cute!

As always, we celebrated St. Nicolas Day. Kelly learned about this holiday living over in Germany. The kids chose to leave their boots by the front door because there were ‘the biggest’. Both kids did well. The only coal they received was chocolate.

Christmas decorating is so much fun. We moved the tree into our living room this year, and higher ceilings means taller tree! This is by far the biggest we’ve ever had. It’s fantastic! Both girls were super helpful putting up all the ornaments by themselves, then helping Eric set up the train. We were able to put everything up before Tali’s choir concert, which was super cute. Tali did a great job.

Les and Carl returned to celebrate Christmas with us. Lots of gifts, food, faith, and fun. The weather has been crazy this winter – one day registers below zero and the busses can’t start so school is canceled, then the day after Christmas we’re outside without jackets! Yesterday we were able to go up the street and Eric was able to give Cloe her first rollerblading lesson.

I know there is a lot of hype with 2016 being a crappy year for many, but I’ve gotta say…we’ve been blessed. We have Cloe’s 7th birthday tomorrow, our anniversary the day after that then New Year’s Eve a few days later. We also have a lot of exciting things to look forward to in 2017!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

P.S. I enjoy blogging, and will continue, but I’ve learned although its a great way to help us share our story with you, but its limited because we miss hearing your stories. I’ve concluded that I must get back on Facebook because it seems most of the people in my life, both near and far, share their lives on there. So, if you’re on Facebook, help me out by ‘friending’ me. It’s a bit overwhelming starting this platform over again. Have patience with me while I figure things out.

Fall Break & Halloween

We love our fall break! They are always very fun and super relaxing. This was the view from our balcony in Mexico this year. So awesome to wake up to this every day.

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The girls are finally falling in love with the ocean. During prevoius visits, they preferred to be in the pools. This year, we hit the beach for at least 4 hours every day (& the pools ~6). So exciting! Cloe played around in the white water with her kickboard and Eric rented a boogie board for Tali to start riding the waves. A fun time was had by all.

Out here in the midwest they celebrate Halloween on the 31st. This year, with it falling on a Monday it has made for a pretty long week! Unfortunatly I didn’t pull my camera out early. I’m learning that good shots are all about the lighting, and my Halloween lighting was abysmal. On the other hand, the weather was fantastic! By far the best we’ve had since the girls started trick-or-treating. They went around with their neighborhood friends and together the girls scored two full containers of candy.

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New school year

Before starting the new school year, we took our annual Rhode Island trip to visit Popi (Kelly’s dad). Sadly we didn’t take many pictures, but it was a great laid back trip. Lots of relaxing, good conversation and, of course, seafood.

Once we came back, the girls started their new school year! Tali is now in fourth grade and Cloe is in first. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

Both girls had exciting events shortly after school started. Cloe finally lost her first tooth! Tali has joined the school choir and they sang The National Anthem at a Cardinals game. We had never been to the stadium and are glad to cross this off our St. Louis bucket list.

 

Welcome to our new blog!

I haven’t posted for a few months for a couple of reasons. Life is always busy, especially during the summer, and another reason…we’ve shifted the blog over here and have been figuring things out. Why? WordPress has features I wanted that Blogger didn’t have. I’m still trying to decide the best way to share/post pictures. That being said, have patience with me while I figure this platform out. 🙂

As always, May was a busy month. School’s been out since May 19th, so Kindergarten & 3rd down! Shortly after school got out, Tali turned 9. At the same time both girls had their end of year gymnastics shows. They really enjoy gymnastics and both look forward to adding dance classes to their after school activities in the Fall. Also Cloe is now taking piano lessons, like her sister.

To celebrate a great school year, we took a road trip to FL to see the cousins and play tourist for a few days. My co-worker (aka ‘work wife’), Andrea, came with us to help with the drive (and see her beautiful and talent daughter who had just moved to FL). Andrea helped made the drive fun by giving the girls gift bags at each state line. They got a kick out of it. We even had time to eat at an amazing Kentucky establishment for lunch and at a farm in Georgia when we saw peaches being brought in from the fields.

The girls really enjoyed their cousin time. It was a short visit, but we managed to get in a trip to the Clearwater Aquarium and saw Winter and Hope. Our other big event was spending a few days in Disney! What’s even better…we surprised the kids by secretly flying Eric down to join us. We had a ball.

Just about the time we got back from our FL trip it was time to pack the bags again, but this time, we headed to the Virgin Islands to visit Eric’s parents, Pops and Grandma! What made this trip even more special was that this year Eric’s brother and fam were there too! We were on their boat for the 4th and even helped Les & Carl celebrate their 30-something anniversary. Needless to say – it was great spending time with the fam in paradise.

With only two weeks of summer left, soon the girls and I will head to RI for our annual trip to visit Popi! We always look forward to spending time with him and doing all the Rhode Islandy things we love. We just can’t believe that summer is almost over! It feels like its just begun.