Friday, September 28, 2012

Livin in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore

Heron on the pier. This is one the the best things about Anchorage Marina
I have very few good things to say about the marina we are currently docked at. Its one of the Inner Harbor marinas of Baltimore, and if you come to Baltimore, the Inner Harbor is definitely a place to visit. Fancy restaurants, waterfront shopping, water taxis, tall ships, charter boats, its all here.

The key word here is visit. The truth is, the Inner Harbor is a dead end inlet of the Chesapeake, where all the trash comes to die. The water often smells of dead or dying fish, and swimming is out of the question.

Container ships docked across the harbor

The marina we are staying at now, called Anchorage Marina, is the second of about five Inner Harbor marinas. The Inner Harbor, being a working harbor, means there are huge container ships docking nearby. These ships make tremendous wakes, not to mention the wakes made by the tug boats that are buzzing around the ships pushing them into their designated spots. The first time we experienced one of these wakes was of course in the middle of the night. Without warning we were thrown sideways, then back again and again in a rolling motion. "When is it going to stop?" was all my sleepy brain could think, not so much in reference to the sickening rolling motion, but to the cursing and complaining that was going on next to me in the dark.

Travis has an especially hard time with the wakes. They make him bump his head, loose his balance and sometimes his temper.

Surrounded by water we can't swim in, concrete walkways, and nothing but neighbors and boats, I realized that still I can't complain that much. We live on a yacht! That realization hits me every now and then, and my vision clears and I can see the water and the sky and the boat again.

How is it that our familiar surroundings can become so invisible? I noticed during our trip to the Blue Ridge, how quickly we became accustomed to the spectacular scenery. In the beginning we were awed by the mountains and trees, but by the fourth day it was just background, and it took effort to really see them.

That's kinda how it feels with MeVoy right now. Busy with planning our winter, jobs, and hobbies, complaining about little aggravations, I usually glaze over the fact that I live on a yacht!

Our yachty interior
But... when I make the effort to remember where I am, everything becomes brighter, sharper, more real somehow... and that's where I really want to live.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 Look up Asheville and you will get words like, funky, organic, diverse, spiritual mecca, and my favorite, "City of Light". You will get testimonies of people who have been "magnetically drawn" to the "crystal mountain peaks", and vibe  of the "oldest mountains in the world". I ate all this up and expected the  sidewalks to be jammed with New Age crystal healers, wandering mystics and alien junkies. You know, good people.

The first clue that this might not be the earthy, small town we were expecting was the sign "University of North Carolina, which was promptly followed by angry, red brake lights that brought us to a screeching standstill. Traffic, lots of it.

Still feeling the peaceful vibe of our mountain hideaway, we crawled thru the main drag, gaping out the windows. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day, perhaps the mystics and healers were watching TV inside their crystal caves, perhaps we took a wrong turn and ended up at this trendy college town full of white people wearing OM t-shirts, riding bikes filled with over-priced organic goodies to their cars parked a few blocks away? The whole thing was weird, kinda like a movie set, on a very hip sitcom.

"Hey are you going to the festival?"- asks a college kid with pink sunglasses.
We look towards the tents, where a small group of rag tag kids are playing guitars, and vendors are selling what look to be jewlery and handmade soap.
"We don't know where were going, we just got into town" replies Travis.
"Oh well you can't go in there with the dog. City policy, no dogs allowed in outdoor festivals. Someone brought in a snake at the last festival and it bit a kid in the face, so..." he looks at Chopper who is furiously licking his nose, "you can't bring in the dog."

OK. Strike one, or is it two now? I don't know but I was losing interest in the whole project.

"Hey wanna hear a joke?" says a voice somewhere down on Choppers level. We look to see a smiling face, dirty feet, and a backpack that has been stitched, glued and pinned in all possible ways. His name was Richard and he's been traveling for three years. As he began his story, I noticed my aversion to bum story-telling. You get so much of that in Baltimore. Every homeless person has a baby that needs food, a bus to catch to a job interview, or a car that broke down just out of sight. Richard was no different, except that he didn't ask us for anything. He told us his joke, looked at Chopper and told us that Asheville had some strict dog policies, and mentioned that his own dog was in the pound, after being tethered while he went to get some booze. Evidently there is a crew that patrols the city looking for tethered dogs, that it then takes to the pound. Strange, but as we later found out true.

We left Richard and wandered around Asheville a bit, but as we weren't really feeling the place, we headed back to the car, ready to get back into the wild. We had decided that if Richard was still sitting there, we would take him to get his dog. He wasn't there, so we got in the car and promptly got lost. We circled the downtown area, and as we turned the corner there was Richard, talking with two other punk travelers.

"Hey you wanna get your dog out of the pound?" I asked as we rolled to a stop alongside the crusty bunch.

Yeah! was all Richard said as he jumped to his feet grabbing his pack.

"You've been blessed!" says one of the punk kids, mouth slightly open. "And so quickly!" I could tell the punk kids were slightly blown away, but I wasn't sure why. Turns out they were praying together on that sidewalk for someone to help Richard get his dog out of the pound. Their heads were bent and the prayers were spilling forth, and then we pulled up and offered to help. Perhaps there were mystics in Asheville after all.

Riding thru town with Richard, we got a good look at some different parts of the city. Asheville is quite huge, and outside of its cute and trendy neighborhood, there was nothing distinguishing about it. Wal-Marts, auto parts store and pizza delivery joints. Anywhere USA.

Richard's dog turned out to a a very big boy named Kaiser.

This wasn't his first time at the pound, and he seemed to take both his imprisonment and his release in a happy stride. I could only imagine how Chopper would have looked after seven days at the pound- a drooling, shaking, and neurotic mess.

It was at the pound that I drilled the attendants about Asheville laws, and found out that tethering is a big no-no. After expressing my ignorance of this law, the nice lady at the desk explained to me it is the responsibility of the owner to be familiar with all the laws of the city, and if indeed you plan to go get a cup of coffee and leave your dog tied outside, you better expect  him not be there.  All part of some city protection and revenue building scheme. Don't you feel safer knowing that Asheville is free of tethered pampered pooches?

By this time, Chopper was completely over this adventure in the Dog -Nazi City, and meeting Kaiser didn't improve his mood.  Mostly his attitude reflected an avoid and ignore strategy, with a dash of tolerance and a tad of leave me the f  alone.

Kaiser was unfased. He slobbered freely in back, snorting happily. Richard was glowing at the reunion, and after I commented on Kaiser's great teeth, he took out his tooth brush and showed me how he brushes his teeth, twice a day. For an outdoorsman, he had great dog hygene.

Richard filled us in on the city of Asheville from the perspective of a homeless man. His attitude was jovial as he showed us the stack of tickets he got from the police. Tickets for loitering, tickets for not having the proper dog tags etc. "Why would you give a homeless man a ticket?" he joked. It seemed obvious to me. To get them the hell out of the city. Ban the bums, and keep Asheville clean! For a place that was supposed to be progressive, this really seemed like the same old us vs. them strategy.

As we left Richard and Kaiser to "hustle" in Asheville, we reflected on our own travels and how close we once were to becoming stranded in a broke down van with very few options. We were then functioning on a survival level, working very hard to hustle our next move. We survived by making up an address and getting jobs. We were young, and it was all an experiment that got almost too real. What would we have done if we were old and it did get that real? Would we be seen as useless and lazy, recognized long enough only to be given a few tickets and fines that we obviously couldn't pay? One thing is for sure, we wouldn't go to Asheville, they ban the bums there.

As we made it back into the surrounding mountains, the excitement of the day began to wear off. Maybe it was the magnetic pull of the Blue Ridge, but we began to once again regain our centers. Our first impression of Asheville left us disappointed, but nonetheless the mountains, trees and hills of the area were spectacular. Billy greeted us with a "hey where you been?" and we told him all about Kaiser and Richard, and warned him against loitering around Asheville.

However, just as we have completely written Asheville off, we heard a little bird call followed by some human sounding footsteps. 

On the path leading to our tent was a young couple who came to look at the land. They lived near Asheville, settling there after having been drawn to that area of the country. Hmmmm. They looked around, and as we began to talk, Travis and I both realized that they were the representatives of the people of the Blue Ridge that we were wanting to meet. The real deal, people of the Earth. Not mystics, not crystal healers, not alien junkies, but real people, living in the mountains, learning permaculture and dancing around the fire. We didn't need to go to Asheville, or anywhere for that matter, to find community. Wherever you are is the right place and whoever is there is the right people. Home is where the cat is, when we will finally understand???  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blue Ridge Mtn Land- Fox Creek

$69000 20 Acres Mountain Survivalist Retreat Paradise (Burnsville )

Date: 2012-09-05, 6:36PM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

survivalist retreat land, protected cove, 20 acres +/-, gravity spring water, large hardwoods never been cut, springs, gravity water, pond, se facing, rich soil, creek, timber value, roadfront, 1 mile off new 4 lane, no restrictions, $69000 firm,. half down rest in a year. 30 minutes to downtown Asheville, Ray 828 245 8256
1204 fox creek rd. (google map) (yahoo map)
  • Location: Burnsville
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
PostingID: 3191551170

This was the craigslist post that both our imagination and our car wheels spinning. We simply had to see this place. What do trees that never been cut look like?

They are unimaginably tall! In fact the whole rear of the property reminded us of the jungles of Brazil, rather then the east coast of North America. Huge trees, gigantic mountain laurel, steep slopes, and gushing springs made up the bulk of this property.

Included in the sale, but not listed in the post was four acres of road frontage with a trailer and an old log home, for an additional $10,000. That brought the total asking price to $79,000 a pretty good deal given the location and size of the property. 

We were curious to see what a piece of land on a mountain would be like and noticed a pattern to the homesteads in this part of the country. Mainly, houses were built at the foot of the mountain, in a flat and cleared spot, with steep slopes left mostly wild, or, where the unscrupulous landowner deemed fit, logged for its timber value. In those cases, you could see the new forest already rearing with life, but the size of the new trees, when compared to the old ones, readily gives away the history of the land. 

Looking at this land, we could imagine little hidden platforms and hobbit like dwellings that blended in with the terrain. It wasn't that hard to imagine, since the owners already built a most perfect platform, next to a most perfect pond, filled with bullfrogs and dragonflies, where we spent a most perfect four days.

If you're wondering how we got all our stuff up to this wonderful spot, lets just say that it was not thanks to Billy or Chopper , both of whom were completely useless when it came to carrying stuff up that long trail. But, I was right to chant "its worth it, its worth it" as I dragged chairs up the slope. It was worth it!

Overall the land was beautiful! There was a huge level spot near the top of the ridge that got our imagination rolling again.

Truly we felt to be in paradise

The only thing left to do, was to check out the city of Asheville, to see if we fall in love with it.  If it indeed felt like coming home, then we would have to seriously re-think our plans. That adventure, however,  I will hold off for another day, as the night is getting short. A big thanks to Ray, the steward of this Eden for allowing us to camp in these beautiful Blue Hills. Thanks Ray!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Packin it

We're taking a lot more stuff then that, but our packs are ready to go. We're on our way to see some prospective land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Which means... camping! Billy's tail is twitching with antispation, and Travi's is waggin madly too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Galley love

I love cooking in our galley. Everything is within reach yet we have more counter top space then in any of our  other "mobile situations".

We went vegetarian three years ago, and this has made cooking even more fun. Now instead of relying on meat for the flavor and substance of a meal, we experiment.  A favorite combination of mine is tofu with green beans and wild rice. The trick to great tofu, Travis learned was to freeze it. This gives it a firmer texture, and makes possible that crispy crust with that soft middle. Stir that up with some sweet onions for a punch, mellow it out with some green beans, and spoon it over some nutty, pungent black rice. Oh my...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A rainy Labor Day weekend, perfect for dreaming our next move...

Dreaming is the most fun, acting out the dream is more difficult

With the end of Summer officially ticked off the calendar, our thoughts are turning more and more towards the upcoming winter. What are we gonna do? There are several key circumstances that are playing into our decision:

1. Me Voy's winter slip has been paid for already, but the marina abides by a 14 day a month maximum liveaboard policy- meaning we can't live there all winter. This wasn't made clear when we signed the contract, but it turns out to be a blessing anyway since we really hate this very urban, very huge, very uptight marina.

2. We sold Tara much quicker then we thought, and we have a bit of money that we would like to invest. Invest in what? Land. No questions here. The question is where?

3. We are not ready to go cruising on the boat, but we are ready to go away for the winter. After five years of busting our arses a reward is necessary.

Raincoats in the aft galley, our version of a mud room

With all these conditions swirling around us, we are coming up with a plan that makes sense for us. So far this is what we got.

We will leave Me Voy in the already paid for slip until April. Yeah we could take her back to our cozy marina and pay rent there, and work and keep on keeping on, but... all that can wait till spring. Both of our jobs will be happy to have us back if that's what we choose in April, so if not now when?

We will pack up the car with our camping things and head south for five months. This trip will be a combination of pilgrimage to sacred sights, a research trip into intentional, spiritual, and/or self sustaining communities, and a scouting trip into the land available to us here is the US.

The trick will be to do this on only the money we earn the next two months, and money we can make on the road. This will leave our "Tara money" only for the purpose of purchasing our next property.

Here I want to say that we are not in a rush to buy buy buy, but are excited to take our time and absorb all the different possibilities. But, if the right thing comes up, we are not afraid to make that move either. Despite what might appear like a contradiction, I think having land and a boat complement each other.  Either way, having Me Voy and living aboard will make this travel thing possible, even if the travel takes place over land.

rainy day hiding spots

So even though we won't be travelling the big blue this winter, we will be heading south! I guess its time to change the blog header...