Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Turkey and Travel

After a really fun Thanksgiving weekend in New England I’m off to do some sailing again.
I’ve been living and working in Newport for a couple of years now without any big adventures and I got pretty used to having a place to call home. I rented an apartment, unpacked my duffel bag and acquired a whole bunch of stuff. Having a base and a place to store my toys made training and playing a lot easier. Anyone who wandered into my apartment would likely trip over a bike in my kitchen or the surfboard in my bedroom. I love having a place of my own and found it particularly hard to break away from that this winter when a long delivery option popped up. Sail from San Francisco to Charleston via the Panama canal? “Yes, please!” Shouted the world-traveler-duffel-bag-bum Laurel.  “Leave my family, friends and reasonably predictable training schedule?” questioned the home-body-who-likes-her-comfort-zone.  Hesitations or not, work is work so I booked my flight to San Fran and didn’t think about it too much.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to be at home with my family on Thanksgiving Day. I can count on one hand the number of traditional family holidays I’ve spent at my parent’s house since college so I wasn’t disappointed when another delivery was delayed and allowed me to be home for turkey. My family is big and loud and generally agrees on political issues so dinner was fun and delicious without any drama. As always the question of, “what are you doing now?” arose and I found it harder to answer than usual. I have been looking around the marine and yachting industry to try to figure out what I want to do next. I like working with boats but find it harder and harder to sign on for full time, on board jobs. I don’t like yachting enough to give my whole life to it and I’m trying to figure out what else I can do.
 The next day I headed for the mountains in hopes of getting a few runs in on my skis before sailing away. Some friends of mine rent a ski house at Sugarbush Mountain in VT and are generous enough to let me stay with them and attempt to ski with them! They had planned a Friends-giving for Saturday night and as we ate cheese and cooked another turkey questions about my next trip came up. These friends know me and the industry better than most and it’s harder to brush away questions I don’t want to answer.  For the first time I wasn’t very excited about a sailing trip and they could tell. As the dates for this trip got closer I had been waiting for the feelings of excitement and anticipation to sink in and they hadn’t hit me yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t know the boat or the crew particularly well or I’m suffering a bit of FOMO for the upcoming holiday season or maybe I’ve just had too many plans changed and learned not to get excited until I’m on the plane. 
Now I’m on the plane.  And I am getting excited. I’ve sailed a lot of miles but never down the Pacific east coast or through the canal. The first leg of the trip is downwind to Mexico. It’s true that I would do pretty much anything for a good taco and sailing a few thousand miles to get one seems reasonable to me. After that we keep heading south and east to Panama. Hopefully, we are through by Christmas and heading back up towards the eastern tip of Mexico. The rhumb line to Charleston has a few road blocks and will require some wiggling around Cuba and Florida. Roughly 6000 nautical miles, downwind, no wind then upwind. I don’t know where we are stopping, the weather and miles covered dictates that. I don’t generally do a lot of research ahead of time of where I’m going. Some say if you don’t expect too much you can’t be let down but I like to think if you aren’t distracted by expectation you can see what’s around you and appreciate it. I use that idea when I travel and I guess it’s true of my life too. I get caught up when I start to expect it to go a certain way. I’ve never followed the regular path and though the unknown parts of my future are scary and frustrating they are also the parts that make it exciting, random and fun. It’s hard to leave something comfortable for something unknown but at least it gives me something to blog about!

So if you need me I’ll be sailing and looking for tacos and thinking about what to do next. But mostly tacos.

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