Posted by Bill
Late last week we returned from our trip north. It was great to see our family at our nieces graduation. While at the lake house, we got to catch up with our good friends Mark and Irina…congrats on the up coming wedding…wish we could be there. We also got to visit with most of Tricia’s family, and spend a few days with our good friends John and Jen that live close to our house there. We had a dual wedding with them many years ago and got to celebrate our anniversary together, something we always enjoy.
As always, the plunge into what we call the “real world” was a shock. We are used to traveling at around 8 MPH in our boat, and when we ride around Southport, we don’t go over 45. Life on the freeways, especially in Columbus, was absolutely crazy. I still can’t believe that we dealt with that every day for so many years. Having a car and living in places that have a normal bath room, complete with flushing toilets that you don’t have to manage the waste for, and real showers that you don’t have to manage the water for, is really nice. We used to just take it for granted…now it is a treat. Also, having your own washer and dryer, sitting right there in your home, is a major treat. Dealing with laundry is a major pain when living aboard. In spite of the luxuries, we missed being on the water and I was happy to get back to Southport in general. It always feels like home when we return here.
We tried to get a few maintenance projects done on the lake house and ran into several unexpected roadblocks, so we will have to knock those out when we return in August. We have always kept our 1994 Jeep Wrangler in the garage up there, and having settled in Southport for the summers, we decided we would bring the Jeep back so we could have our own car. We still prefer to walk, but having your own car here adds a whole new dimension to living here. The Jeep only has 40,000 miles on it, but it is rarely used, and I was concerned that we would not be able to drive it back for 12 hours without it breaking down. Given that, I scheduled an appointment with an automotive repair place for a thorough inspection, a few days before we were going to head south. As I was driving it the day before the appointment, the brakes were locking up and it would not move…bummer. We had it towed and ended up having to replace the entire brake system. The difficulty in getting parts set us back several days in our schedule, but we rolled with the punches. We stopped overnight in Columbus and then made it back to Southport in one day. The Jeep has a terrible ride, especially when you get above 50 MPH. It bounces all over the road and you have to literally wrestle the wheel to keep control. It also has no air conditioning. Needless to say, after 12 hours of driving it, your ass is kicked! The good thing is…we made it without incident:
Yesterday was a good example of why having a car adds a whole new dimension to living here. We drove to Myrtle Beach (about an hour drive) and went to Sams Club, and Costco, to buy liquor. South Carolina has cheaper liquor, and Sams and Costco have even better prices. We stocked up and saved more than $10 per bottle over North Carolina or Ohio prices. Our friend Andy was visiting his parents in North Myrtle Beach, so we got to have lunch with them and catch up. Also, we won’t have to borrow a car to go to the grocery or to the beach (about 10 minute drive), or to get fresh seafood. The down side is that it makes life a little more complex: car maintenance, a place to store it when gone, towing insurance, and all of the associated expense of running a car.
The other “new dimension” change we made was the purchase of a new dinghy. If you remember, the old dinghy was leaking water badly, and we just made it back to Southport before it became pretty much unusable. We purchased a Highfield aluminum hull dinghy. It weighs a little more than our old one, but it is in a whole other league as dinghies go. I got it commissioned the day before we left to go north, so we only got one test run in it. Since we got back, we have run it several times, once across the Cape Fear River to the sand bar that we wallow at, and it is fantastic. The ride is very dry, and it can handle rough water, including boat wakes, very well. We could only use the old dinghy in fairly calm seas and it was almost always a wet ride, even before it started leaking. This adds a whole new dimension to cruising and living on the water here in Southport. I’ll post a separate post about it for the benefit of fellow cruisers looking for information about dinghies.
Southport is getting ready to the big July 4th celebration. The festivities here run all week and it is the state of North Carolina July 4th festival, so it is crazy around here…thousands of visitors, and a fun time. You can see last year’s post of the festivities if you search the blog. Happy 4th everyone!!