Friday, October 23, 2009

What's Next?

What Next?
What Next?
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Uprooting the family and throwing us in a van for a month had the perhaps unsurprising but somewhat unsettling effect of sending all of us down the “what's next” rat hole. It's almost impossible to think ahead; The variables are too many, the options almost unlimited. Nevertheless, weeks of long drives and longer hikes with nothing to do but think and flap our lips at one another have yielded familial consensus on a number of points.

More Boat -- We all agree that we are not done yet with s/v Don Quixote. No one wants to sell her. No one wants to step on to land without at least another season cruising. We disagree on how much longer, but we all agree on “longer.”

Not Back -- A little surprising to me is the degree of consensus on the proposition: This family is not returning to Seattle. While we all love the city, none of us – not even a single one – wants to return to our house or anything like our old routine. It might be more symbolic of a rejection of that lifestyle rather than a specific repudiation of Seattle itself. Any return to Seattle would by necessity require a complete change of lifestyle which might be harder to do within sight of our old life. It may lack courage, but it is probably easier to simply go someplace else.

Another Adventure -- It's not just boating any more. The girls ask about living in other countries. DrC talks about hiking the Appalachian Trail or back packing through Europe. I've mentioned long distance bike trips we could take in the United States and abroad. Many of these ideas have the benefit of fairly low cost. Some require Aeron and Mera to grow a bit more. Almost all require we sell the boat which smacks head on with the More Boat agreement. The exciting part for me is the eagerness and enthusiasm with which the entire family embraces these proposals. We are now a family for whom big adventures, physical hardships, and limited resources engender excitement and speculation rather than fear and dismay. We are ready to meet new challenges head on.

New Zealand -- Which is good because we are still working very hard to set up a year abroad. Our strongest lead at present is a job in Auckland, New Zealand for DrC. The year-long contract would start sometime after the first of the year. While DrC worked, the girls would attend the local schools, and I would... Okay, that's a problem. We don't know if I'd be allowed to work, or if I could find a job even if allowed by authorities to do so. It might be time to start my career as a romance novelist. We'll see. The flaw in this plan is again – what do we do with Don Quixote? In an ideal world, we'd lease her for a year to another cruising couple or family. If you're interested, please let me know. We'll give you a good rate on a fully outfitted cruising catamaran for a year in Mexico. We'd come back in a year and proceed to Plan B.

Plan B -- Bottom line is that we're going to run out of money in about another year of cruising. Even if we delay that with a side trip to New Zealand, we can't keep this up indefinitely. The girls and DrC hammered out an itinerary that would take us down to El Salvador, over to Hawaii, and then up to British Columbia. We'd end up back in Seattle in late fall where presumably we'd work all winter and sell the boat to finance the next phase of our lives.

One Step Forward
One Step Forward
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Road Trip -- Another strong area of consensus is that we want to take another, much longer road trip in the United States before we pick a place to live in our home country. We've all learned a great deal on this trip about what type of community appeals to all members of the family. Not too small, not too big. Must have trees. Only college towns with a “funky vibe” need apply. Mera says, “Large library.” Jaime wants “high school age kids.” Aeron would like a community swimming pool while DrC wants someone from whom he can take guitar lessons. I want cheap broadband Internet and a really good grocery store. We're willing to rent or live in an RV or modular housing until we can find the right fixer upper.

Consensus was the first step. We now have a pretty good idea what the family is looking for, both individually and collectively. As I write these words, I realize that this article is probably the first in a series that gradually unravels and shuts down the Toast Floats blog. Just as I began writing when the idea of the sailing life first came to us, it seems appropriate that I close it when we let go of Don Quixote and move on to the next adventure.

Which means I suspect it's time for me to squat on a few new domains. toastrides? toasthikes? toastrollsaroundinanrv? Who knows? Maybe the biggest adventure would be to start using toastworks again. *shudder* Scary thought.


Kirk said...

Toast. Sent you an email through the Lagoon owners site. Not sure it will get thru.
Oh, to have so many options. You guys are blessed.

jope said...

toastmobile? Which has the advantage of mobile doubling as a flexible adjective that applies regardless of the specifics.

Anonymous said...

the college town you describe is Arcata, CA, in all respects

Brian W. said...

I've come to appreciate your clever writing and live somewhat vicariously through your adventures, but I didn't know I would feel so kindred to your family in the way you are currently wrestling with how to navigate life. An essay would be required to summarize how I understand your wrestling with your choices, but suffice to say I do. My wife and I and our two boys are also determined to drink life to the lees, and are fortunate to have many good choices to choose among.

In my experience, few people are inlcined or capable of truly opening up their choices to the full range of what is there. Even so far as recognizing that life itself is a choice, and that every moment is a choice. Certainly where we live and how we spend our days is a choice!

No matter what you do, and I see you are going to NZ!, I wish you continued happiness at trying to create a beautiful life for your family.

A beautiful life indeed.

Behan said...

I'm so excited for you all! You know this is giving us a great incentive to head south to NZ instead of working up toward Micronesia at the end of the season next year. I would say "don't you dare get back into a box!" but really, I don't think there's much risk of that happening!

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

hmmmmmm, leasing DQ. Now you've opened up a world of possibilities for us. Let me talk with hubby on that and get back to you...

First we have a small boy we need to get placed with another family. (yeah, it's not exactly working out here.)

BTW - Madison, WI is an awesome funky vibe town.

Anonymous said...


I'm a pediatrician with a young family. We're contemplating taking off in an RV for (? a year ? or more). (we're also considering the longterm locums in NZ at some point, too!) I'd would love to hear more about the nuts and bolts from Dr C. Did you leave the family periodically to do locums work? How much did you need to work? etc. I just found your blog and will read it tonight.

kkingmd at yahoo dot com

Thanks so much.

dale said...

Toast - You have an awesome two books in your blog so far. Think about publishing chronological posts with perhaps a short lead-in for various sections. A little like an introduction. I would also suggest you check out's publishing-on-demand feature for writers. There's a gal that is very happy she did from (I think) Enumclaw. She wrote a financial survival guide for women about a year or so ago using the Amazon publishing feature and went big time to one of the major publishing houses due to the amount of sales her book generated. I don't know how she did that part, but apparently it is possible. The name of her book was something along the lines of "How not to get caught with your panties down". Might be able to plump your sailing kitty.

Guilcolax said...

My wife and I enjoy your blog and the supportive inspiration from your adventures. We intend to alter our life style to living aboard and 'experiencing' life - not just living.

Congrats on NZ and please keep up the posts!

Anonymous said...

This is said Hubbie from Mama Caguama post below. What exactly is your idea of "a good rate on a fully outfitted cruising catamaran for a year in Mexico." Have sailed/worked on sailboats all my life and honor them like family (will be bareboating in SVI for 10 days in January, can't wait). Crazy (no, impossible) as the notion of an upcoming full year sailing is for us in this moment, love exactly such propositions! faustomix at gmail dot com.