Friday, December 24, 2021

Aliens Adrift in a Landlubber World

To say we're suffering from culture shock is putting it mildly.

Our drive across the country was quick. From Maine to my sister's house in Northern California Gold Country was 3166 miles; we could have done it in 5 hard driving days, we booked the rental car for 10 so we could pause here and there if something caught our attention, and to get some laptop work done as needed.

We ate so much garbage on the way. Fast food. Drive through. Mmmmm how we've missed it. At first it was a treat, something we rarely access as sailors, but so very convenient from the highway for our whirlwind drive.

Chicago Style Deep Dish, in Chicago

By day 4 we'd had our fill of junk and were craving some good fresh fish and vegetables so we hit the pause button in Laramie WY, settled into a decent hotel to explore the area for a few days, catch up on some laptop work and get in some salads and sushi. We've found there's always affordable healthy food in college towns, and downtown Laramie is home of the University of Wyoming. Right across the street from the football field was some excellent sushi, and fresh salads and tasty tacos could be found anywhere in town.

The University of Wyoming football bleachers, as seen from the main drag

Our rental car came with all the bells and whistles. Seat heaters meant we wrestled less over the dash temperature controls, adaptive cruise control was most helpful on the lonely highway, bluetooth connectivity meant books on tape and unlimited Amazon music. We were well rested, warm and dry. Culture shock.

We gobbled up the miles and arrived to my sister's in comfort, a day early, with a milkshake in the cupholder and french fry rubble on the floor.

Bonneville Flats, Utah

My sister was heading out to the grocery store and asked what she should add to the list. I'd noticed the bagels and the toaster (yes... toast!) but no cream cheese so asked her to bring some home. Here's what she bought. The picture doesn't really do it justice, it's a huge tub of cream cheese - 48 ounces.

Now, keep in mind that the groceries are my responsibility to stow on the boat and it's a perpetual challenge to eat everything we bring aboard before it goes bad. Not only does it require additional strategy to retrieve groceries without a car, but there's a process to storing them too, particularly for refrigerated items like cream cheese. Her casual point was this: she was at Costco already, this giant tub costs $7, and a little bar at the grocery store would be $3.50, so this was way more cost effective. She didn't need to mention there was plenty of space to store it in her cavernous refrigerator, or that with two teenagers in the house who also enjoy toast the five of us were likely to eat it all long before it started to grow fuzzy. She is right, her way makes sense. Even knowing these things I couldn't stop my hands from sweating at the sight of it. Culture shock.

In no time we were surrounded by family and friends. We jumped right into planned activities: Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, house projects, visits with long-time friends. All good stuff. One day I realized a whole week had gone by without us witnessing a single sunset, that I hadn't checked the weather app for days and in fact hadn't even set foot outside the house in two days, food had been delivered and my nose had been stuck in my laptop, catching up on work postponed during our whirlwind drive. What was going on outside? No idea. Culture shock.

Malfatti, a Napa locals tradition, cannot be found in restaurants. You have to pick it up from the local liquor store.

Lance commented he felt like we were in an alien world, but after a month or so we realize we're the aliens. We don't fit. All around us people are going about their normal, everyday lives and we're just not used to doing it the same way. We're the freaks.

Here are a few of the things I'm appreciating anew, and by which I am quickly becoming spoiled:

Every morning I start my day with toast. And coffee. I can prepare them both at the SAME time.

After every meal I rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. No dish drainer required. I do not worry about the quantity of water used for this process (well, maybe a little bit, we are in California after all).

My sister loaned us her spare car, which is awesome. With it we fetch massive amounts of groceries. We don't worry about how many we can physically carry because neither of us has to wear them on their back. No Uber or other public transportation is involved in the grocery process at all.

Chloe testing out the powder near Donner Summit

Laundry... we carry it down the hall, wash it and put it away at our convenience. No quarters and no laundry carts are required, it fits right into the normal day around everything else and the process does not require onsite monitoring.

Internet is constant and fast. It does not require cursing, moving the house, or going elsewhere to access for the workday.

Amazon is not wearing a new path to the door, they were already coming here today anyways and it's fairly predictable what time they'll be arriving.

Food delivery is easy - at no point does our discussion with the delivery driver sound anything like "turn left when you see the boats on stands, we'll meet you at the top of Ramp E" or anything along those lines. A simple address is all that is required. I don't have to monitor their progress, they'll ring the doorbell when they arrive.

Wind? Rain? Dark early? Who knows. We drew the blinds three days ago when getting dressed and forgot to open them back up.

We are definitely the aliens adrift here. When we are reunited with Minerva we'll have some adjusting to do for sure. In the meantime, we're getting fat and lazy living the landlubber life.

Yes that's really the name of this little gas station convenience store chain located throughout the MidWest. Makes me laugh every time.


  1. And using the bathroom. No holding tank. No macerator that could break at any moment. But ah the sunsets. And the sunrises. And the peace of sitting with a cup of tea and a book in the cockpit. Soon my friend. Soon.

    1. Oh and the showers. The glorious showers. Apparently the neighbors are not okay with me standing outside under the hose in suburbia...

  2. And we are enjoying having Aliens amongst us.

    1. Hopefully you're still singing the same song through the Spring. Cuz it'll be a while before Minerva thaws out.