30 October 2016

Color us GONE. Ready for Adventure!





FINALLY:
We're leaving.

Bags packed.
Headlamp, binoculars, rain gear.

Heading to France.


 In winter.
Off to hunt for a boat - to live on.

Kinda crazy, right?

We have NO idea if we'll even find one.
But: The hunt is ON.


How long will it take?
A few days?
Months? A year?

We have really NO idea.
We're practicing getting used to uncertainty. 




So - for the time being:
Color us - GONE.

-On adventure. 

26 October 2016

Barge Living - Off to Search for a Canal Boat in France

We're going to France.
To look for a BOAT.

Kyanna is for sale - but at 24m, probably too big for us.


Squid fishermen? This is probably NOT the kind of boat we're looking for.

A canal boat. One big enough to live on, at least for a while.

This one is in England - they have lots of narrow canals there. 

Canals stretch all over Europe. Rivers, too.
-You can cruise from one end of France right up to Berlin - on canals!



I know it's kind of a weird idea.

But ever since we rented canal boats, I keep thinking what a great lifestyle it is.
Floating through the villages and towns, at the pace of a walking horse.


Since canals are flat, bicycling is easy. 
Every canal has a towpath beside it.

We'll have bicycles on the boat. 
Ride into villages.

Stan off for a morning baguette. Maybe two. Those are BIG barges moored on the left.

Visit French markets for boat groceries.


 It's mobile - and it's slow. 
You can stop anywhere, moor along the bank.
Just pound a couple of stakes into the ground and tie up.

- Or - just keep going.


This is one of the boats we rented - on the Canal Du Midi.
The rental boats are great - practical, and luckily, somewhat indestructible. 

It looks ENORMOUS, but - that's only 15m!

Apparently, we aren't the first ones to think of this. 
There are all sorts of wanderers, living aboard barges all over Europe.
Some live right in the middle of Paris and in London - inexpensive housing in pricey cities.

Others are a sort of international floating community. 
We've met a few liveaboards, and they all seem to enjoy it.

This one is a luxury vacation boat. Ours will NOT be this fancy!

So: Stan's been busy learning French. 

We're both reading the boating regulations to pass the tests. 
Since we already have our sailing licenses, and coastal cruising certifications, it's just a matter of taking the inland waterways test. (Unfortunately for Stan, I think it's in French.)

The kids monitor our progress as we go under a low stone bridge.

So this boat has to be low enough to fit under small bridges.
And narrow enough, too.
And not too deep, for canals.

The canals are filled with locks - the canal system dates back to the 1600's. Usually, there's a lock keeper.

I made a spreadsheet (of course) of all of our top choices - and I'm keeping it updated.

With a list of "must have" and "would like to have" items.
- Some even have wood-burning stoves!

These are all boats we've investigated. All for sale, at a surprisingly wide range of prices. 

Some of the barges are over a century old. 
They were used to haul commercial goods, and recently have been converted into pleasure boats.

A lot of them are REALLY long - up to 38m! 
We're trying to find a one closer to 15m - still a BIG boat - about 50 feet.

On a boat, you always need "duck bread" - otherwise known as old stale baguettes. 

So, as it stands now, we'd be spending most of our time on a converted barge. 
Mostly in France. But - who knows? I'll let you know what happens - in November!

(Rumor has it the wine's not bad, either.)



22 October 2016

Bikes in Berlin and a Brandenburg Weekend


 The entrance to our Airbnb in Berlin is NOT promising! 


Inside, the apartment is fine. It's okay.
It's in Prenzlauerberg, where we want to be.

 Mikey and Iris are living nearby. 
(And there's a baby on the way-!)

Your own fault for making that face, Mikey! Nice Itchy Feet t-shirt, though.

We borrow their bikes and terrorize the city streets.
Not intentionally.

People actually follow the Rules of the Road here.
Not in New Mexico. We're used to riding where and how we want.

It's hard to remember to obey traffic rules.

And: we're NOT the only ones on bikes!

So - when we stop suddenly to check the map:
Everyone behind us nearly crashes into us.

You can IMAGINE the chaos we create.

The downside of living on the 4th floor!

Café lifestyle.

Berlin is flat. 
Bikes are a great way to enjoy the city.

Lakeside in Berlin. Summertime! Last time we were here, it was bitter cold and snow.

And then? 
What else to do in Berlin in July?

Head to the country!
We rent a small house somewhere in the lake country of Brandenburg.


The flowers! The fruits!
Everything so ripe. Lush.

There are 12 different types of fruit growing in the garden.

These would NEVER look this juicy in New Mexico.


So what do you do with ALL that extra fruit?

- Make schnapps.


Good coffee - and homemade schnapps!

The owner, Lore, has 7 different types of homemade fruit schnapps.
Each type is in a different, old-fashioned bottle.

We promise her we'll try at least a few.
(We did - I think the raspberry won.)


We're REALLY in the country here. 
It's the "back of beyond" to those living in Berlin.

 Corn fields. Wheat. Chickens. Jam.


They sell blueberries, cherries, eggs, and chanterelle mushrooms by the side of the road.
With a box for you to leave your money.

It's VERY rural. 
We explore. We read. Draw.

Mostly, we just chill.

Then - Stan makes a salad for dinner. 

Afterwards - a small glass of homemade schnapps as a "digestive".


See? Our life isn't always high adventure.