It's mid February and the weather here today in St. Louis is about as bleak as it gets. The sky is grey and soupy, and I can barely see the Mississippi from our living room window. But still, in the haze I can see an occasional towboat making their way up river, or down, out there in the narrow channel of the St. Louis Port.
A day does not go by when I don't think about our plan on leaving the area aboard Swing Set, and our view of the Mississippi from the windows of our condo never fail to remind us as to how near the time is coming.
Not only did we run into most of our river friends at the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show, we attended a couple of birthday parties in the last two weeks also. The question everyone had was, "So when are you guys leaving?"
Another one was, "Are you getting excited?"
Everybody asks what our plans are, I'll tackle that one first: This question rankles me just a little, and it shouldn't, and it's not like I'm ever capable of keeping too much of a secret, but not having a large full scale plan is most of the fun of doing this type of thing. I have mentioned before in this blog about what our initial plan is; and that is to slip out of the Alton Pool some time in early spring and make our way past St. Louis and head for Kentucky Lake, for starters.
My vision for our trip always includes what may be our last view of the St. Louis skyline as we motor past, just one milestone we will chalk up, along with our last lock through on the Mississippi, our last cruise past the mouth of the Meramec River, and our last stop at Hoppies Marina in Kimmswick, MO. All those things are plan enough for me.
Most people though, are not satisfied with such an austere plan, which only appears simple if you leave out the two years of other planning; the decision to do it in the first place after hours upon hours of reading about others having done it. (Right now I'm reading "The Boaters Weather Guide.) The time and money spent on the boat, getting it ready for full time cruising was a major part of planning too. The impression I get is that even the most die hard river rat thinks our plan should be more detailed, like there has to be some destination, or goal in mind. "Are you doing 'The Loop?'" usually comes from one of those fellow boaters who want a more detailed plan. Not only to appease those who want to know more, but in order to formulate a little more in my mind, I have started to include our desire to explore the complete Cumberland River as well as the complete navigable waters of the Tennessee River before heading to the Gulf. Still, some think that there must be some type of day to day itinerary. This is no Carnival cruise we're going on!
I realize that the questions mostly stem from others wanting to live the experience too, but that's what this blog is for, and I'm self-centered enough to think that all our friends actually read it, so I want them to wait until I write it. I don't want to live the experience before we even depart, as it seems like I could jinx our trip, or plans, by saying too much about what we intend on doing.
When we are leaving is the question that is easy to answer and hard all at the same time. We've picked a day, and no, I'm not telling what day that is here, but it's just a date, and may need to be amended. These past few months since we put Swing Set away for the winter have been a bit slow. I've found things to write about here on this blog, and a good bit of time is taken up writing, but some other things are not moving along so well.
Our condo still has not sold. We have decided that even if we don't sell, we are leaving anyway. However, selling the condo would allow some decisions to sort of make themselves. If it was sold, we could begin to give away what we can't take with us, and start carting stuff to the boat that we are taking along. As it is, if we leave the "For Sale" sign on, we really need to leave the place in condition to be shown to potential buyers, and that means having to come back here and not only close on the sale, but get rid of stuff too.
Our financial situation certainly isn't going to be discussed here, but there have been some items regarding the security of our economic future that have yet to be determined. The wheels of bureaucracy grind very slow in some cases, and we simply cannot leave without some of those things being left undone.
We have a couple of things we want to do to Swing Set before we go, and I've been making some arrangements to get her pulled in late March for bottom paint. I want a full survey done as well, for insurance purposes, as we will be changing carriers before we get to the big water.
Spring floods will also play a part as to when we will depart too. There is no point in dodging big logs and debris in a swollen river making our way to Kentucky Lake when we have all summer to play on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.
Are we getting excited? That may be the most complex question of all, or at least the answer is complex. I don't want to put us in the geriatric category yet, but I'm pretty sure Rosie and I don't get real excited about things too much any more. Do we enjoy our experiences once we are engaged in them? Heck yeah, but getting too excited about what is to come is something we don't do anymore because of the wealth of prior experience we have to pull from. The real highs of anticipation only lead to the deepest lows when the expected result isn't achieved. I think that once our financial house is indeed in order, and we get a contract on our home, and Swing Set is back in the water after a successful survey and bottom paint, we may allow ourselves a different level of excitement that we have so far allowed ourselves. Right now we are pretty much just holding our breaths.