Sunday, March 8, 2015

Living on the boat

The lights of Seattle across Lake Union from our houseboat
We've been living on the boat two weeks now, and we absolutely love it! Les especially is euphoric. We relish the quiet and the coziness. I like watching the lights reflect on the water across the lake as I go to sleep, and seeing the lake come to life as I slowly wake up. And the marina community is friendlier than most neighborhoods we've ever lived in.

Of course there has been some adjusting to do. Mostly the difference is that everything takes more time. We've managed to find places for most of our "essentials", but often we need to move several other things in order to get to a desired object (e.g. a kitchen scale or a tofu press). To do laundry, we go to a laundromat a couple of miles away. (The nice part is that it's next to the Burke Gilman trail, so if the weather is conducive we can go for a walk during the wash cycle.)

We don't just pop something into the microwave. No, first we turn off the fridge, water heater, wall heater and some lights, so that the combined load won't trip the circuit breaker. Afterwards, we have to remember to turn back on the fridge and water heater. Despite our efforts, the power goes off several times a day anyway just from a combination of other lights and appliances. To avoid overloading the composting toilet, which is a low-usage model, Les goes up to the restaurant; a common refrain is, "Be back in a tuppence—I'm going to the outhouse." Drinking water is another issue. In the seven and a half years that we've owned the boat, we've always brought our water with us in jugs from home, because the water here comes in through a hose from the dock, and tastes strange. Now this is home, so we're working on finding a new method.

But, like I say, we love the boat despite these minor inconveniences. After the stress of the move, it's a pleasure to be back to my favorite pastimes: cooking, baking, pickleball, and my weekly walking group. The only thing missing is quilting—the sewing machine and supplies can't possibly fit in the boat—but fortunately I'm not missing it.

Les has gotten the phones switched over successfully. What used to be our landline number at the apartment is now the number for our new cell phone, a model that works in Europe and North America. We'll buy a prepaid SIM card for it when we arrive in Glasgow (with a UK phone number) and perhaps do the same in other countries as well.

On another note, it looks like we won't make it to Egilsay Island, one of the Orkneys, in Scotland. Instead, we're going to take a steam train to two towns on the coast: Oban and Mallaig. The Mallaig run is famous as the "Harry Potter train", because that's what gets filmed for the train taking the children to Hogwarts. Through the Internet I found a booklet detailing every segment of the trips: the sights being passed, the history, etc. We hope to do some kayaking near Mallaig also.

Friday we finalized our registration for the big Esperanto conference in Lille. It's almost five months away, but already 2,000 people from 69 countries have signed up: among them several each from Mongolia, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Nepal, Senegal, 43 from China. We just nailed down our hotel, and chose four excursions out of the 20 offered during the week. We'll be spending a day at Boulogne-sur-Mer, which is historically important to Esperanto speakers because the first international conference was held there in 1905. Also a day at Arras, a key area during World War I. And a half day at a former coal mine, and a walking tour of Lille. We were somewhat reluctant to sign up for so many because we'll probably feel badly about missing certain talks or workshops or activities (we won't know the full program until we get there).

Today is my 70th birthday, which Les and I will celebrate at an expensive vegan (and local and organic) restaurant. (The only other time we were there was for my 65th birthday!) Tomorrow we leave on our first "practice trip". It's a 9-day car trip. The main destination is Quadra Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island. We hope to do some kayaking on the way up, spend a few days on Quadra with friends who live there, and leave our kayak with them. On the way back we'll spend two days at CelticFest in Vancouver. We did that three years ago and really enjoyed the music and dancing and the St. Patrick's Day parade. Other destinations are Lummi Island (one of the few places in Washington state we've never been), La Conner, and Whidbey Island.

We still follow the outline of tasks that we made back in July, and everything is on track. Les says everything is so well planned that he feels like he's on autopilot. We never suddenly become aware of some aspect that we've overlooked relating to our life change. Just two months now until the big trip!