Our recent U-turn brought us face-to-face with a reality that we have only taken fleeting glances at in a rear-view mirror the past few years. That reality being we have to work again. We are not retired and our current lifestyle is one that is not self-sustaining. While we haven’t been in denial and we are in no more urgent need to figure out our next steps than we were a month ago when we were still sailing East, as soon as our bow (not our stern) was pointed in the direction from where we started the feeling of needing a real plan for the future sort of whomped us both in the face. If not careful, we would, by default, end up exactly where we started from. While not a bad thing, and we even considered it a possibility, we want what we do in the next few years to be a conscious choice.
Although we’ve been unwavering in wanting to find a way to work and live in the Bahamas for years, we haven’t been able to figure it out once we remove Nassau from the equation. And Nassau is most definitely removed from the equation. Our second long-standing desire has been to work 6 months and spend 6 months sailing. We haven’t been able to crack the code on that one either. What secret do the Canadians know that we can’t figure out? With those two plans not blooming any viable solutions, it was time to start considering all options and we had 13 hours of undisrupted sailing time to begin working it out. Let the conversation begin. Where did we want to live, where did we want to go, what did we want to do? What is important? How? When? Is that even possible? We started throwing out every idea we’ve ever had-anything that flitted through our brains- no matter how outlandish or improbable. We only gave each other a funny look a few times. Sometimes the lines blurred between whether we were talking about where to travel vs. where to live. Same between what we wanted to do for fun and potential for future incomes. We just threw it all at the wall hoping something would stick.
A couple hours into this exercise, we were feeling out a new idea of me working with a medical travel/temp agency (think: travel nurse…except I am not a nurse). We didn’t know much about how that worked but in one of the most rare sails ever we actually had internet between islands and a quick Google revealed that Alaska seems to have a boatload of seasonal Med Tech positions available for the summer. Alaska? Keith’s eyebrows went up and he said “I want to go to Alaska.” Alaska is on my bucket list too. However I was thinking more of a 5-day summer cruise or something. We’ve never considered living anywhere cold. Ever. We moved along and kept up the brainstorming. We also kept coming back to Alaska. Each time we came back a tiny detail added to the little nugget of a plan. By the end of the day it was clear, Alaska was the thing that stuck.
We even had it ALL figured out. Okay…we might find a detail or two overlooked, but here it is:
Nothing changes for this Spring/Summer/Fall- we keep cruising as planned. We are feeling good about that. Sometime next winter we will take the boat to Florida and buy a Toyota Highlander and one of those adorable teeny-tiny 13-foot travel trailers that look like an egg. Have you seen them? They even come with a shower in them! Ours will certainly have a little heater too. We then hit the road and do a road-trip from Florida to Alaska. I don’t even know how many miles that is yet. Alaska seems pretty far from Puerto Rico right now. We are assuming that there are a lot of nifty things to see between here and there. Every single one of our vacations for the last 20+ years had been a boat-based destination so this idea is really something totally new and different to us! There are so many places neither of us have seen yet so we might as well do all we can do in one fell swoop. In Alaska we still get mountains, volcanoes, clear water, big wildlife, and lots of fishing. And lots of space. We just wont be doing all of this in our bathing suits anymore! I will, hopefully, have arranged a 26 week long position in a medical laboratory for the summer, thus, checking the required box for “income”. Housing will be provided or at minimum supplemented by the agency which is good because we are not planning on living in the wee travel trailer for the whole summer. Thirteen feet is not much bigger than our dinghy, we are aware of that fact. Keith is an A&P with experience with small planes and running maintenance of a small airport. There seems to be a lot of those up there so hopefully he too will find a summer gig. The final important detail is to bolt before winter arrives, besides, I am sure we will be ready to see a palm tree or two by then.
Oh, and somewhere in there I buy a mountain of long underwear and a collection of fur-lined boots because my definition of cold is anything under 75 degrees.
See, ALL the details figured out! Wait….Did we finally figure out how to do the 6 months on/6 months off thing?!? Maybe???
Now, with that all figured out we can get back to enjoying the islands in front of us. This cruise is far from over.