Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alligator lizards in the air

We are at a coin laundry in Ventura, California. We spent last night parked in an industrial neighborhood not far from here (map). Other than a handful of UPS trucks coming and going from their distribution center there, it was quiet and we were undisturbed. This neighborhood was listed in our Days End directory, but we also found some spots on the other side of the Ventura Freeway, the successor to the highway of which America sang.

We're here because we had a late appointment to look at a boat in the Ventura Marina yesterday. That boat turned out not to be the right one for us, on a whole variety of fronts, but it was past four by the time we were done. While we would have loved to just roll the dozen miles further on highway 1 to the Rincon Parkway for the night, the odds of finding a spot there on a Friday evening are worse than the odds of being hit by lightning. Besides, Ventura County has jacked the rates up to $25 a night for what amounts to a parallel parking space with a view, and last time we were there, some idiot ran his contractor generator all night right next to us.

As it was, where we ended up was free, and we could walk a block to the Teva factory outlet this morning, where a pair can be had for $15. We didn't find anything we needed there, but we'll remember it the next time we need outdoorsy sandals. Having seen a Petsmart store on our way into town, we called this morning to see if we could get an appointment for George, who needs blood work done, and they said they could squeeze her in at 2.

That pretty much settles it -- we'll be on the street in Ventura again tonight, probably a few blocks away from last night's spot. As long as we're here in town, we thought we'd get some other errands done, so here we are at the laundromat. Louise has already remarked that this is the most expensive coin laundry we've ever patronized, with a load of wash costing five times more than it did in Death Valley. (The coin laundry in Death Valley, being mostly for employees, is the only bargain in town.)

Unsurprisingly, our conversation and focus yesterday evening and this morning has been around boats, having just seen three very different styles over three days. Louise is making a spreadsheet so we can keep all the various compromises straight. I've been researching potential candidates in the bay area and in the Pacific Northwest, and we have a list of at least five boats we want to see.

Interestingly, three or four boats that I previously had on my "see on the west coast" list have dropped off, now that we are narrowing down the field. Two of the boats now on our must-see list are what I would call "confirmation boats" -- second examples of models we've already seen but at different price points, such as the Dutch steel Lowland we looked at two days ago. And one will be a model that we have yet to see, but has been on my list for a long time. When we are done with this next round in Washington, I expect we will fly around the country to look at the remaining decent examples of the front-runners.

As the final decision on a boat seems ever more imminent, I also need to get cracking on listing Odyssey for sale. She's been for sale in a casual sort of way for over a year now, and whenever we get the rude out-of-the-blue "how much did that cost?" question from passers-by I tell them to make me an offer. The truth is that if the right offer had come along (or does come along), even though we have yet to buy a boat, we would move our few personal belongings and scooters into a U-Haul in a heartbeat and settle down into a studio apartment someplace in the interim.

The reality of selling Odyssey, however, is that it will only appeal to a small subset of RV buyers, namely ones who share our own values regarding self-sufficiency, comfort, efficiency, and probably the desire to have a pair of bikes in the bay rather than a towed car. In any case, we now need to write up the listing copy in a way that clearly articulates the features and benefits, and clear our personal items out room by room to take uncluttered photos for the listing showing the coach as it is today.

We are also girding ourselves for never getting an acceptable offer. The bottom dropped out of the entire RV market in 2008, and custom bus conversions were the worst-hit segment. As much as I'd like to have a little extra in the boat fund or the cruising kitty, there is a floor below which it no longer makes sense to sell, but rather to put the bus in mothballs until some future date when we may wish to return to dry land. To that end, we are also doing the research on where and how to store it to minimize the ongoing costs while still keeping it in usable condition for whenever that day comes.

In a short while the laundry will be done and we will head over to Banfield in the Petsmart to have George's blood work done. She's been a bit lethargic lately, and she's overweight, so we need to see where her kidney disease is heading before adjusting her diet or making any other changes. After that, we might find a nice restaurant somewhere in town before settling back in for the night.


  1. This is an interesting mother's first name was George also. I grew up thinking that it was a girl's name. Good luck boat hunting!

  2. I'm assuming that this site will switch over to the new boat? So, the boat will be called 'Odyssey' too?

    I sure hope the right boat comes along for you folks.


  3. Looks as if "we" are getting ever closer to the land - sea transition! I'm looking forward to the upcoming new adventures. "Sail on".

  4. Hello!

    If you guys happen to be passing through Oregon along the I-5/I-205/PDX corridor, it would be great to meet you guys or even wave as you pass. Been restoring a 1955 TDH-4512 city bus to custom configuration. Have spent a lot of time working on full-time liveaboard sail boats, excited to see what you find in the market. The wife, myself, and a few friends follow your blog and dig the custom coach!

    Take care!
    brandon314 at


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