We all have our stories to tell from this strange and brutal year. For us, 2020 started off promising. We had lots of plans for the entire year starting with several ski trips. We made it to Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine and Loon Mt. in New Hampshire. They were both new to us and made available via the Ikon passes we had purchased. Our big trip was at the end of February and included two weeks skiing out west. Week One was spent at our new favorite mountain, Big Sky, Montana. Week Two had us at Snowmass, Colorado. We flew from Denver to Boston on March 8th with rumblings of a potentially bad virus arriving in the U.S. Little did we know what was in store for the world.
Five days after our return from out west we flew to Washington DC to celebrate Andrew’s 30th birthday. It was a surprise dinner perfectly orchestrated by Jordan. Tara and Jovan also joined and Andrew was completely surprised as Jordan led him in. Another party on Saturday and we could see what the effects of this new virus were already having. The open air bar was maybe half full and it was a Saturday. We flew back to Vermont on Sunday, March 15th and that’s when we realized all hell was breaking loose.
Our plans for 2020 were many. We would be taking Big Smile to Roche Harbor in Washington for the Selene Rendezvous in April. Big Smile would return to Sidney and from there we would fly to Palm Beach, Florida to meet up with our good friends, Jim and Beth, and their dog Rascal. This spring and summer was supposed to be the year we finally crossed the Atlantic in a boat. Jim and Beth had asked us to help them take their beautiful Nordhavn 55 from Palm Beach to Bermuda to the Azores and finally to Kinsale, Ireland.
It was not to be. The rendezvous was canceled and so was our trip across the pond. Countries were shutting their borders at a torrid pace. In mid- March, Canada and the U.S. mutually agreed to close the border to non-essential travel.
So with Big Smile trapped in Sidney, BC, and no way for us to get there, we spent our days in Vermont waiting for the border to open. And it is now late October and the border is still closed with no end in sight.
Admittedly, it is difficult for us to complain given that we were sequestered in the beautiful state of Vermont. With a pandemic raging around the world, Vermont seemed like a very safe place to be. We hunkered down and did lots of small projects, took many hikes, kayaked a lot, bought a 1948 Farmall tractor, did a brake job, planted flowers, watched a family of red fox frolic in our back field and yes, we Zoomed.
Andrew and Jordan came up and ended up staying 11 weeks working remotely.
Along the way we managed to visit my cousin Nance and husband Rob. We also rented a small cottage in Wellfleet on Cape Cod for a week in early July. While driving there, we were able to catch up with our Atlantic-crossing friends who were heading north but had stopped off at a marina on the Cape for a couple of days. We also got together with my cousin Doug and had dinner at the famous “Lobster Pot” restaurant in P-Town.
In June we started hearing about other Americans who also had boats were trapped in Canada. Many were hiring dual-citizen captains to shuttle their boats the relatively short distance to the states. We decided to wait for the July border announcement. When we heard the border was remaining closed, we said “enough was enough” and hired a captain. We quickly made plans to do a cross-country drive. Nine days later we arrived in Anacortes, Washington and boarded the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Our captain was meeting us on August 5th at Roche Harbor Resort.
Our cross-country trip was fun and uneventful. We made a couple of small detours along the way. Badlands National Park in South Dakota was open so we detoured thru the fascinating landscape there. Our other detour was to the town of Wenatchee, Washington on the Columbia River. It is wine country and we really enjoyed the area. Our Hilton hotel on the river there was immaculate and Covid-aware. We found in our drive out and back that Hiltons and their various brands were very Covid-aware, which we appreciated and applaud them for.
We boarded Big Smile at the beautiful Roche Harbor Resort. Our captain cleared us thru customs in short order and off he went. We were lucky to be able to get reservations for a slip for three nights as the marina was packed and abiding by Washington state covid regulations which limited the number of slips that could be rented. In practice, we realized throughout our two-month stay that these regulations were both stupid, impractical and mainly ignored.
Since Canada was off limits, we would spend most of our cruising time in the San Juan Islands. We had been to some of the islands in the past and now had more time to explore them thoroughly. We had a few favorite anchorages. Here they are by location.
Along the way we needed to make an unexpected stop for a repair. While dropping the hook at the end of August our windlass quit. Fortunately only about 30′ of chain had gone down so bringing it up manually wasn’t too difficult. After a stop in Anacortes to sort things out, we found a company in Seattle that was authorized to work on Maxwell anchor windlasses. We got a slip at their marina for three days and while the mechanic worked we visited Seattle. It was not like last year’s visit. Because of the recent protests and riots, much was boarded up and because of Covid, the streets were empty. We had fun anyway and managed to get our bikes out and explore. On the third day the windlass was returned to its spot and we took off.
September came to an end and our abbreviated cruising season did as well. We needed to get some maintenance done and decided to hire a yard in Bellingham, Washington to haul her and do the work. On September 22nd, Big Smile pulled out of Roche Harbor and headed to Seaview Boatyard. Cath drove our car to Friday Harbor to catch the ferry to Anacortes. We met in Bellingham and finished packing our car for the trip home.
We left Bellingham on the 24th with hotel reservations in Spokane, Bozeman, Riverton, Wyoming, North Platte, Nebraska, and two nights in Kansas City, Missouri. It was our first visit to KC and we really enjoyed the city. There is a terrific WWI museum and we spent four hours going thru the exhibit. The city itself was quiet due to Covid but we will return in better times.
Our trip home this year had an interesting twist. Aside from dodging wild fires blazing throughout the west, we had a schedule to keep. On October 1 we were stopping in Arthur, Illinois to pick up our new puppy. We had arranged to buy her from a breeder called “Bernedoodles of the Open Prairie.” I’d been having a dialogue with them since the early spring. We picked “Chloe” out of a litter of five. We were the second family to choose and fortunately we were able to get our first choice. We left the breeder at 10 AM and with an eight-week old puppy in a crate in the back seat we drove non-stop for over 16 hours. Fortunately, Chloe proved to be a cooperative and quiet traveler. We arrived home in Vermont the next day at 3:30 AM. We sat exhausted on the kitchen floor with a bottle of wine and a new puppy.
So, as I write it is one week til Election Day. We are sequestered in Vermont with a new puppy and some good summer memories, despite the tumultuous year so far. Since our return, we have gotten together with dear and like-minded friends for some kayaking and hiking. We all hope for a Trump loss. And Cath and I are hoping for the U.S.-Canada border to reopen so we can return to Big Smile in 2021 and head to Alaska.