I’ve learned many things from my parents over the years, one of which is how to throw a great party. It’s really pretty simple. All you need is a good spot, good friends, good food, and a little booze. Ever since we purchased our property in Bastrop people have been asking us, “When’s the party?!” Apparently we’ve developed a bit of a reputation.
Once we started looking at the calendar we realized that we had a limited number of weekends available. My mom had asked that we not double book with one of her gigs (both her reggae band and Hawaiian girl group have booked a number of gigs this spring). If you’re local, go check them out back-to-back on May 27th! Hear both Sister Jane and the Nani Wahinis at the Good Luck Grill in Manor, TX from 6:00 to 8:45 pm!
Our upcoming trip to the UK was another big (but delightfully exciting) scheduling conflict. The only day we really had left happened to be our one-year wedding anniversary. Perfect! Continue reading “Land-Warming BBQ!”→
This is not a typical Alpha1 blog post. We don’t have any major life updates and we didn’t go on some crazy adventure. Rather, we did something quite ordinary. We had Brandon’s family over for an Easter BBQ at the family ranch where we’ve been staying. And because this is Texas, that means shooting guns, riding 4-wheelers, and feeding the cows. Of course, we didn’t nix all tradition. There was also a raucous confetti egg fight and a brown sugar and bourbon glazed ham (which we smoked on the bbq pit because, well, Texas). Continue reading “A Perfectly Texas Easter BBQ”→
Since we’re stuck in Texas for a while, we thought it might be fun to go exploring in our own backyard. I find that when we travel we think about places differently than we do during our “everyday” lives. On the road we are always exploring, looking for that day’s big adventure. We go hiking in the parks, visit funky little museums, check out old buildings just for fun. Sometimes all it takes is finding the perfect little coffeehouse somewhere unexpected, i.e., Hoodsport Coffee Co. near Lake Cushman, Washington! We LOVED that place.
But when we stay in one place (even without the grind of a 9 to 5) we tend to lose that sense of adventure. We eat at the same restaurants, visit the same shops, drive by interesting buildings and never stop. Most towns have a local museum, but honestly, how many of us ever actually go inside? (That school field trip back in 5th grade doesn’t count.) Because we love our life on the road, we are making a conscious effort not to lose our sense of adventure while also staying put. And this week made it really easy. Because guess what ya’ll?
Those of you keeping track have undoubtably realized we are back in Texas. We left the Bahamas right after Christmas and it’s now the middle of March. So, you ask, what on earth have we been doing? Why aren’t we back on the road sharing our adventures with you, dear reader?
We always planned to spend the month of January at home in Texas. We would visit with our friends and family. Spend time with our dog. But most importantly, we would shop for a plot of land where we could eventually build our home. Once we’d found the land we could get back on the road and drive east towards Florida. My mother doubted that we could find and purchase land in only a months time. She and my dad had spent a full year looking for the right place when they built their house 30 years ago. Well, she was wrong, but I think we just got lucky.
While we were still in the Bahamas, Brandon came across a listing for 35 acres just outside of Bastrop. As soon as we returned he drove by to have a look. He was sold. I was skeptical. We hired a realtor so that we could go have a proper look at the place. From outside the gate all we could really see was a hay field and a nice grove of mature oak trees. We knew that there was a dry weather creek running through the property, which is absolutely magical, but also a bit concerning. A portion of the property is a known flood zone.
It was the very first property we looked at and, honestly, we could have just stopped right then. I find that the biggest decisions in life are not actually that difficult. Who to marry, which house to buy, whether to quit your job and live in a big blue bus. If you trust your gut instincts you don’t really have to think much to make the right decision. You just know. Continue reading “Update: Buying land and a change of plans”→
Since buying the Irie Joe my parents have been spending more and more of their time here in the Bahamas. We joke with them that they might as well just move here but they say Texas is still home. Over their many trips they’ve learned that staying one extra day after packing up the boat really takes the sting out of leaving.
Their absolute favorite place to stay over is the Abaco Inn on Elbow Cay, just a few minutes down the road from Hopetown. When the boat isn’t being used it lives in Hopetown Harbour, which made transferring our bags to the Inn a cinch.
During the Christmas holiday the Abaco Inn has a four-day booking minimum, turning what would usually be a quick stopover into a vacation in and of itself. Staying here was so relaxing, even more so than being on the boat. It’s a small boutique hotel made up of 20 or so small cabanas that surround the pool, restaurant and bar. What makes this place unique is its location on a very narrow section of the island. It is so narrow that the Inn is literally the only thing that fits between the ocean and White Sound. From the porch you can see both the breaking waves of the Atlantic and the calm shallow water of the sound. Continue reading “Christmas at the Abaco Inn”→
A pilgrimage to Nipper’s on Guana Cay is an Abaco cruisers tradition. If you don’t go, the other cruisers might accuse you of not having enough fun. But if you go, they’ll know that you probably had too much fun! Continue reading “Getting Nipped at Nippers!”→
We left Harbor Island in the same fashion that left Little Harbour, right before sunset so that we could sail through the night, arriving at our destination around sunrise. On the return journey, however, we had significantly more wind. Our sail from Little Harbour to Harbour Island had been a calm, slow motor-sail. We never made more than 5 or six knots. On the way back we averaged 10 knots under sail alone and reached occasional top speeds of around 15 knots. The strong wind also made our exit through the cut a bit exciting. We were never in any danger but we all got a little wet when a wave splashed over the bow of the boat before any of us had remembered to lower the front windows.
It was peaceful to just sail for hours without the sound of the engines but we were actually going much faster than we had planned. My dad had calculated our leave time based on an average speed of 6 knots. So, of course, we arrived hours before sunrise and had to kill a bit of time before going through the cut at Little Harbour. Oh well, my dad and I had finished our 4 hour watch by then, which meant it was the perfect time for a nap.
Mom and Brandon took over and were kind enough to let me sleep a little extra. We were pulling up to the dock at Man-O-War Marina when I awoke. Still a little groggy, I decided to go for a walk around Man-O-War to try to perk up. (Four on/Four off is not really my optimum sleep schedule.) I didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring the town when we were here last and I’m so glad I took the time on the second go around. This place is picture perfect! Continue reading “Back in the Abacos: Man-o-War & Matt Lowe’s Cay Redux”→
The locals referer to Harbour Island as simply Briland, a condensed version of the two words. Seriously, say Harbour Island really fast and you’ll hear it. Briland is only 50 nautical miles away from the Abacos, but has a completely different vibe. The Abacos are home to seasonal cruising sailors, retirees, and middle-class Americans on vacation. Briland, on the other hand, is the Bahamian playground of the ridiculously wealthy. The difference is obvious as soon as you pull into the harbour and notice a distinct lack of sailboats and the sheer size of the mega-yachts all around you. But Briland somehow still manages to feel unpretentious and welcoming to all. Honestly, it was one of our favorite stops of this entire trip. We probably mingled with some Silicon Valley tycoon or some famous actor and had no idea because it really didn’t matter. Everyone was drinking the same rum punch and eating the same conch fritters. We just happened to arrive in a much smaller boat.
When my dad was planning this trip he had only one big goal—to sail his boat from the Abacos all the way to the nearby islands of Eleuthera. The 50 nautical-mile passage is not that far in the grand scheme of things. After all, sailors cross the Atlantic in boats smaller than the Irie Joe. But for us, an overnight crossing would be a big deal. Brandon and I had never sailed at night or farther than a simple day sail. We had also never sailed out into the open ocean. For my parents, this would be the first time (since delivering the boat from Maine to Hope Town) that they would leave the protected Sea of Abaco. My dad was super excited and had spent months going through charts and guidebooks, planning everything he could. But when it comes to sailing, planning only goes so far. In the end, it all comes down to weather.
We had been watching the weather for the past few days and could see a northern front moving in. These fronts happen frequently during the winter months and tend to settle over the islands for a few days of wind and rain before moving on. Luckily, we had plenty of time and my parents knew of the perfect little harbour to wait out a winter storm. Continue reading “A Storm’s blowin’ at Little Harbour”→
From Hope Town we sailed straight to Man-O-War Cay. By motorboat this would take less than an hour. But by sail you can stretch it out into a leisurely morning or afternoon.
Man-O-War is vastly different from just about every other settlement in the Abacos. They have the same colorful buildings and white picket fences, but no matter how hard you try, you won’t find anyone willing to sell you a rum punch. The main source of revenue in the Bahamas is tourism and most of the villages are full of bars and restaurants happy to keep the you well-lubricated all day long. I suspect tourists spend more money after a few rum drinks. Of course, the locals also spend their fair share of time sipping rum punch. In fact, we noticed a distinct lack of rules regarding alcohol in the islands (or at least a serious lack of enforcement). Unlike in the states, you can order a drink to-go and drive off in your golf cart with a drink in your hand. I have no idea if this is technically legal but literally everyone does it. Except in Man-O-War.
Man-O-War is a dry community. You cannot buy booze (of any variety) in any of the stores or restaurants. After chatting with some locals, however, we learned that they are not complete teetotalers. Many keep booze in their homes, have cocktails with friends, throw parties, etc. They just don’t want the bar scene that has developed on so many of the other Bahamian islands. They have a quiet peaceful community and they like it that way. Continue reading “Exploring Man-O-War & Matt Lowe’s Cay”→