“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Plan B.


To the Northeast of my place, there's a very large lake.  It has spectacular views and the lake winds through the mountains.  There are several big marinas there, and a town that is pure tourist.  Lots of shops, restaurants, and all the nice things that the tourists want.  My wife likes it very much.

I'm giving some thought to a different way of living that might satisfy both myself and my wife.  Some years back, I went out to Lake Shasta with my brothers, and we rented a houseboat. Not one of these mega luxury things you see on the Travel Channel. Just a nice, comfortable and practical boat.  It had a nice kitchen, a living room , two bedrooms and two baths.


You'd think something like that would be unobtainable price wise, but the marina where we rented the boat was selling their current stock and upgrading. The boat we were on for a week, which was perfectly comfortable, was listed at $37,000.

Operating the houseboat was easier than driving a car.  It was powered with a small diesel engine, which wouldn't let you go water skiing but did move the houseboat right along across the lake.


There was plenty of room,  the particular boat we were on was configured to sleep eight. It wasn't like a camper, with a lot of folding things out and folding things up.  More like a regular house, where you just walked down a central passageway from room to room.

 
The bow had a large sitting area with a propane grill.  Although the boat had a complete kitchen, we did most of our cooking on the grill.




The kitchen had a propane refrigerator, a propane freezer, and twin sinks. The water was hot and cold, and the range and oven worked off propane as well.  


The bathrooms (there are two in this model) have a nice sink, a toilet, and a shower.  You can always have hot water, because if your diesel engine is running it powers the water heater, while when it's not the little propane auxilary generator does the work.
 



As long as the diesel engine was running, you had AC power. If you shut the engine down, you could run the lights and just about everything else for around 8 hours off the batteries.  However, the boat was equipped with a propane powered generator.  The design was very efficient, and in a week of constantly meandering around Shasta we never had to buy more propane or diesel.  We did have to go in a couple of times to off load "grey water". There was a system for simply pumping it into the lake but obviously no one wanted to do that.


We brought along my youngest brothers fishing boat.  It was a life saver. The Marina had a massive grocery store, but we stayed at the far end of the lake where most people didn't go.  With the smaller boat, they were constantly making supply runs (mostly for beer, which my brothers consume in astounding quantities.)
It also came in handy for exploring inlets.  The shores had lots of little inlets that would wind and twist back off the main bank. With the skiff, we could find good places to pull in for the night without wasting a lot of time slowly maneuvering the house boat into these cul de sacs.


The type of houseboat we were on drew almost no water.  The major limitation was the prop, which you had to be careful not to hit on rocks. Otherwise, you could get way in off the lake, into a secure little place to go ashore, build a fire, and set up for the night.  It would have been possible to just drift out on the lake, but we saw too many imbeciles flying around in high powered speed boats in the dark and decided not to risk getting rammed in the middle of the night.


We usually built a fire on the shoreline, put out camp chairs and a camp table, and ate the evening meal around a fire.  The boat had lots of living space, but it was still nice to get off and wander around a bit.


 
 To be honest, the house boat we we rented was very comfortable, and even if you didn't have a retreat in the forest some hours away, you could still live out on a large body of water for a very long time with one of these. They have massive storage capacity.


All the beds and benches have storage compartments under them.  Every wall has lockers and cabinets. The upper deck of the boat is wide and flat, and has been stressed to hold heavy loads. You cold store a lot of boxes and crates up there under tarps.


That vent looking contraption is part of the air conditioning system.  This very basic house boat came complete with air and heat, both of which operated at very little cost in propane.  All of that flat space is storage for whatever you need .  Because the center of gravity of the houseboat is low, and the upper deck was designed for people to use as a recreation space, you don't have to worry about capsizing from overload if you use some common sense.

The point of all this is that I am trying to think of a way to keep the place on the mountain as a family retreat, and still do something new and interesting to enhance our lives after my wife retires.  We can still go to Palm Coast for a week or so when we want to, and by not living there full time we would avoid all the pitfalls discussed and commented on in the last post.  It's just a thought for now, but it does offer a way out of our dilemma.  If we took one vehicle to the lake, and left it at the marina, I could scoot over to the mountain ever so often and stay a day or two if need be. That wouldn't solve all the issues, I'd still have to keep the place up. But life is full of choices and options.  

 




 
 

24 comments:

  1. Just my two cents but I like plan B.

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  2. Still doesn't get me off the hook for keeping up the place. But it would let me keep the mountain top as a retreat for the family. If, ideally, my son would come live here it would be the perfect solution. Stay down at Palm Coast when we want to, stay on the boat when we want to. It doesn't have to even be a local lake if he is living at the house. Then we could do the intercoastal waterway. When I lived on Emerald Island in the outer banks I used to watch the boats going up and down the IC and think that looked pretty good.

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  3. Harry, Generally I'm a fan of the boat idea but keeping the place wouldn't really eliminate any pitfalls of your current situation. I think that one depends on what your Son wants to do.

    A boat on the intercoastal would buy a lot of options. A fellow who had a couple tiny pieces of land nearby where they could stash diesel, propane tanks, food, water, ammo, etc could putter around for a long time if things went totally bad.

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    1. The intercoastal is a great highway for boats. It's long, and studded with marinas. You can take anything from a sailboat to a tug through it. Staging some items in one of those marinas would be easy enough, or a person could rent a storage locker in one of the little towns the waterway goes through. It really does hinge on what he wants to do. I don't want to pressure him, but his company has a store here he could transfer too. He likes the outdoors, likes riding, likes hiking. It could work.

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  4. I'm with Stephen, and I like what Ryan added. Keeping the mountain in the family. If things get real bad many folks may not want to go up the mountain to see what's up there.

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  5. It's a good place. Has everything natural a person could want. It just doesn't have "civilization." I think if I can work it out perhaps I can have the best of both worlds. But I'd need my son to come on back here from up North. My daughter will never leave the city except under duress, she loves it.

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  6. If you feel you can no longer handle maintenance and the 1.5 mile through the woods to get your car in bad weather, can you handle the boat living with repairs there, too, eventually.

    I would like to live on your mountain and have civilization, too. Not possible? That's what I thought.

    I think about weather. How badly does inclement weather affect a houseboat? How about danger?

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    1. Well, the difference is that with the boat, I can take it to the Marina for repairs. With the house and outbuildings, I have to do everything myself because it's too far away for most reputable repairmen or contractors to do a job and still be affordable for me.

      Weather is something you have to watch with any kind of boat, that's true. But I long ago gave up the idea of living on a sailboat or doing any blue water sailing. Houseboats operate more on the old Greek or Roman style, you hug the shore as much as possible and you get back to shore before sunset if you can.

      If I keep the place we have now, and live near the things my wife likes, I can still come over here ever so often to do maintenance. But of course that doesn't address the issue of me getting older and it getting harder to do that maintenance.

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  7. Interesting idea...i'm intreagued. I'm inclined to aske the same questions as Practical P; weather on the lake vs. the houseboat, unexpected leaks, or some "good ol boy" who has had a few too many coming around the bend in his bayliner.

    Sorry, not trying to rain on anyone's dreams. It's just the prepper in me-- and I can't help myself when it comes to contingencies!

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.--Troy

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    1. Troy, there's no solution without problems that I can think of. In the end, it will depend on how things evolve with my family I suppose. I've always wanted to live on a boat but it wasn't practical. My wife is absolutely not going to live on a sailboat, she has some experience of doing that when we were younger and she didn't care for it. She hasn't even agreed to plan B, it's just something I'm mulling around in my head.

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  8. Not sure I see how this meets you're wife's needs.

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    1. Well, she wants to be able to do things without it being an all day evolution. If we have a car at the Marina on the big lake, the town there has everything she wants. The Lake has lots of little sandy beaches where you can go swim or sun if you have a boat. It's a BIG lake, so there's room for privacy. They also have much better medical care than anything around here. So, if she was ok with the boat vrs the condo, the basic elements she wants are available in both places. We lived on the intercoastal waterway for 13 months once, and used to watch the houseboats (and every other kind of small craft) go up and down it. She could live with that I think because there are lots of nice towns along the way she could explore and visit.

      But to do the intercoastal we'd have to either have family living at the house or sell the house.

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  9. Replies
    1. I think you got cut off. Can you repost your comment?

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  10. Hmmmmmm. Well it could work but then again seems the main hinge is on your son living on the mountain himself and for anyone with a job they have to travel to it would be difficult. Or seems so.

    In five years time I doubt this is going to be an issue but that doesn't mean you cannot kick the various solutions out for the wife to think about. They like that kind of stuff. Seriously though I wouldn't get too worked up about a final solution until you are within a year or so of D-day. My guess is it's going to be a different world by then.

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    1. You've put your finger on one of the main issues of survivalism. It's this business of living in two worlds. The first if predicated on life going along as usual. The second , on major changes. I've been a survivalist (there, I say it without shame!) for thirty years. Times have changed but never so dramatically as to obviate the need for a "normal" existence. During that whole 30 years, people of our mind set have worried that the big collapse was coming "soon." So we have to put a lot of resources and efforts into being ready. But when it doesn't, we still have to live in the "normal" world. So what I am doing is the "same old, same old." All of this is "normal world" but I am still planning for contingencies oriented toward "collapse." It does take a lot of extra effort and a lot of extra thought, but it's how I've gone along in the past.

      If there is no big change, in five years I've got to do something different because my wife has said, flat out, that when she retires we are not staying here full time and spending the rest of our lives going to breakfast at the cafe and then to Walmart on Saturdays, and staying home the rest of the time. What I really need is a way to keep the place and go live at the condo or something she would like.
      My son works for a national company. The store he works at up North is a carbon copy of the store he would work in here in our town. The problem is, I think he would have to take a demotion to come here, and I would never , ever urge him to do that. Also, the girl he is currently involved with is a city girl from up North and she is not enthusiastic about coming here to live.

      It will all work out. Seems like it always does.

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  11. I like Plan B better than A (Condo living), Florida just attracts too many hurricanes for my liking. I live near Texas Gulf Coast and sometimes that is too close for comfort.

    What I like about Plan B - the options. You can choose to live at marina, moving to other marina at time of your choosing. Or just find a secluded spot for a couple of days. An aquaintance, now long deceased, had a retirement spot near the Intracoastal. Not a houseboat, a trailer along side the shore, with a dock and jonboat. Really enjoyed his Golden Years, bunch of other 'seasoned citizens' lived in the park and you could find others with common interests. His wife was of same mind, so that was a major help.

    PioneerPreppy's above advice sounds good too, 5 years may change your mind. Good luck.

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    1. I like plan B. It has potential. This is just a rough thumbnail sketch. The big question is would my wife agree to do it. We did some sail boating when we first got married an she didn't like that. But a houseboat is like a home, and has all the amenities.

      Pioneer Preppy may well be right. My own evaluation is that there is at least a 50 50 chance his prognosis is correct. I'm trying to cover the bases in case it doesn't transpire that things completely implode within the next five years. I remember before Y2K I was absolutely certain that was the end of the ball game, but it turned out I was wrong.

      Only time will tell.

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  12. That seems very fun. And an interesting option you have!

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    1. Lisa, I need to convince my wife of it. She is the prime mover behind this whole thing about leading a different life style when she retires. I think it would be a lot of fun. But then, I thought being retired would be fun and it isn't.

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  13. Harry - i like plan B, for you and for your wife. and for myself to be honest! i loooove houseboats! and they come with much less problems than trying to maintain your place by yourself. i hope that your son comes home - i have found that rural-raised kids like to bust out into the city until around their 30's. then when they are sick of the city, they want to return home. and who even knows if he will still be with this girl in 5 yrs? i hope that he is but 5 yrs is a lot of time for growing up for both of them.

    i think that if you explain this option to your wife - whereby her days could be free to shop in all kinds of cute little tourist towns and you could have your privacy on the boat - i think it could work. if you choose this route - expect many visits from me and jam. i would loooooove to live on a houseboat!!!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I think you would like house boating. My wife says I am like Mr. Toad in the Wind and the Willows, always being taken with some new fad and then burning out on it. But I think I could enjoy living on a houseboat long term. It's just like living in a house, except it is mobile and you are always at the beach!

      5 years is a long time, you're right. She just got her masters degree, and she has to teach for 5 years at the kind of school she is assigned to, in this state, or we have to pay back the monstrous education loan. If she does the five years, the loan is considered repaid. So we sure aren't going anywhere for five years!

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  14. Harry,

    I was born before WWII, am retired and have done the rural living/off by ourselves, away from civilization bit. We loved the solitude and privacy, but there is a price for everything. As we got older, having good medical care close by was important, shopping could be an all day event, and as you know, everyday chores and upkeep still need to be done, even when the body doesn't want to cooperate. Also, we had no neighbors close by to keep an eye on the place in our absence, once when we returned from a long weekend, our woodpile was down about 4 cords - probably would have gotten it all if we didn't return when we did.

    Anyway, my observation is that most folks think they'll live forever, and are reluctant to divest themselves of material possessions as they age. They hold on to their "treasures" until one, and then the other dies, believing that the kids will love having their "stuff". Believe me, unless it has monetary value, and can be quickly sold, most of it will end up at Goodwill, that is if you can get them to take it all. Happened with my parents, and others that I know.

    Probably getting of topic here, but I believe that as we get older, the self- sufficient lifestyle Is more difficult to maintain, especially if we insist on keeping most of our "stuff". We still have our stored food, and emergency supplies, but now live a minimalist lifestyle, close to decent medical care and shopping. In short, I believe that the survivalist lifestyle for most of us "seniors" is very difficult to maintain, and is more myth than reality.

    Get rid of those "treasures" and keep only what you really need. You'll be lifting a big weight off your shoulders, and making it easier on the kids. Remember, you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.

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  15. That's better put than I was able to do. It does get harder to keep doing the things you have done for years as you age. Not only physically, but from an emotional and motivational level, you just get worn out. Throw in some health problems and that makes it even more difficult.

    My youngest brother moved from California to the Oregon coast. He sold everything he could, gave away everything else, and just drove away with some suitcases in a passenger car. Because I have many relatives out there he was able to give away his boat, his tractor and his truck to younger family members who could use them an appreciate them. He feels the same way you do about possessions. Coincidentally, that's the way my wife feels as well. We have a house full of antiques and she doesn't plan on taking any of it.

    Maybe it's just a matter of scaling back and spending some of that time that used to go on working the place by sitting on the pier and watching the waves come in.

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