Thursday, January 17, 2008

Recent Missions

Stuart is a good place to get stuck for a little while. Provisioning here is easy and a lot of interesting places, like stores, bars, restaurants, car rentals, supermarkets, parks, downtown, and much more, is within walking distance from the anchorage. Renting a mooring ball at South Point Anchorage is affordable, but also very popular. The winter season is extremely busy, so it pays to get your name on the waiting list.

The main reason Mark and I wanted to come here, was to leave Irie in a safe spot for our trip to Boston. On January 7th, he and I had an appointment with Homeland Security. An immigration officer would finish the process of my green card application with a dreaded interview. Since we wanted to take the dogs, we decided to rent a car for ten days and drive the 1500 miles north (and back).

The third day of the new year was a very windy one. We’d been rocking for two nights and a day, and the waves were considerably big. This made moving our stuff to the mainland with our dinghy quite challenging. Motivated to have an early start, we soon discovered it was still dark at 6:30 am and the waves had not diminished at all. We were trying to figure out how to move all our gear to the rental car without getting it, ourselves and the dogs too wet. Buzz, the harbourmaster, came to our rescue around 7am. While he braved the bad weather and waited patiently hopping up and down, we emptied the dinghy again, hauled it up on the davits, secured it, and transported everything, including dogs with life jackets, onto his boat. Plastic bags, doggie jackets, and foul weather gear removed, we found ourselves safe and dry in our temporary, brand new, Ford Focus at 7:30 am. Mission One accomplished.

The hardest part was the long drive. Mark and I took turns on day 1, only stopping briefly to fuel up, pick up lunch and take care of the dogs. Eleven hours later, we spent a comfortable night in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Day 2 was a little bit shorter, and brought us to Uxbridge, Massachusetts, where we stayed the night at Ryan and Denise’s place. Mark took care of all of the driving and still managed to have enough energy left for a night of socializing, eating and drinking with friends. Kali and Darwin loved playing and rolling in the snow.

The following days, our hosts were Tim (Mark’s brother) and Kristen in Newbury, MA. We had a very pleasant time with them and their kids, and enjoyed the luxuries of a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and deliciously prepared food. We also managed to spend some valuable time with Mark’s parents. It was great to see everybody again and share stories, but also a bit tiring. The interview on the 7th went fine, and the expected tough questions remained unasked. We lucked out with our very friendly and understanding immigration officer, who mainly verified all the information provided by us through the mail. Now, it’s only a matter of weeks before I will be the proud owner of a green card! Mission Two accomplished.

The drive back to Stuart was tough, since we were both extremely tired. We stopped in Greenwich, Connecticut, for a quick visit to Mark’s sister Dru, and Brian. It was good to catch up with them, even though we had to leave again early in the morning. It took us another two long days, with a motel visit halfway, to get back to the boat and the warm weather. On the last day of our rental, we drove and ran around like mad men to obtain all the canned and boxed food needed for our trip to the Bahamas. The last American Missions will hopefully be completed this month, and then… it’s time for new and different horizons!

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