Sunday Snapshot

I am trying not to bore you too much with all the beach pictures, but we will be leaving soon and I feel the need to soak it up as much as possible. This has been one of the most relaxing and enjoyable places we have had the privilege of visiting.

Charbie and I head out together almost every morning in search of sunshine, shells, exercise and a daily conversation with the big blue ocean. I am not much of a morning person, but I have experienced some breathtakingly beautiful mornings out on the beach. This morning was one of those special days where I felt as if I were in the right place at the right time, and even the dreary, rainy afternoon could not take away from my picture perfect morning on the beach. DSC_0711 2014-16-03 16-30-

Decisions, Decisions…

Last week the transmission in our beloved minivan began to slip. After having it inspected, it was determined that certain parts needed to be replaced, with an estimated cost of $3000. Rob contacted the Honda dealer for a second opinion and they would not be able to simply repair our current tranny, they would have to replace it with a factory refurbished one, running $4500.

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These repairs were a little too steep for us, and with 252,000+ miles on our van, we were nervous about putting so much money into it. The fear was that more things were going to begin breaking. So we had a decision to make. There were a few options to choose from:

  1. Repair the van and hope that nothing else broke anytime soon.
  2. Take out a small loan to fix all the things that needed tending to. (There were several.)
  3. Buy a new car.
  4. Go without a car for a while.
  5. Buy a new-to-us used car that was less expensive than repairing the van.

Taking out a loan was not something we even wanted to consider, so that ruled out buying a new car and a loan to fix more repairs on the van. We also decided that replacing the tranny was a no-go. Going without a chaser vehicle was considered for a bit, but in all honesty, we love to drive, to explore, to go the grocery store without having to unhook Waldo. While that would have been our cheapest solution, it was not the most desirable. So we decided to look into the new-to-us used car idea. I thought it was a long shot, but it was worth a look.

We stumbled upon something most intriguing, so we drove down the road to Salvo to check it out. It just so happened that a family of six was moving to Texas and had too many vehicles. They were selling their Cherokee because it only seated five. (On a side note, Rob and I had a Jeep Wrangler once-upon-a-time that we thoroughly enjoyed, but it only seated four, so we ended up selling it for the very same reason.) This Jeep had been maintained very well and had lots of recent updates and repairs, including a new transmission. Rob, being much more mechanical than I, checked it out and felt like it was a good solid car.

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Needless to say, we decided to buy the Jeep. It was less than repairing our van and has less miles, even though it is two years older. The fact that it is a Jeep is simply a bonus. We have always loved Jeeps and have often talked about getting another one.

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We cannot drive it yet since we do not have plates, but we can register it through our mailing service in South Dakota. It should only take a couple of weeks to get it licensed. We are continuing to drive the van for now, only as little as possible. The Odyssey (Dory) has been a great van for us over the last six years. We drive a lot and we ask a lot of our cars. The van definitely has not let us down. It will be strange not driving her anymore, but she has earned her retirement. We will have to leave her here when we leave North Carolina in a few weeks.

Why is it that sometimes cars feel less like cars and more like a part of the family? Is it because of all the places they take us? Or the memories we make while in them? I have no idea. What I do know, though, is that while getting a new car is exciting, leaving one behind is not always easily done…

Monday… Mapshot?

I took this picture on Sunday with the intention of using it for my Sunday Snapshot, but I forgot to post it on Sunday. So here it is Monday, and I am wanting to share my Sunday Snapshot, only now it is a taken-on-Sunday-posted-on-Monday Snapshot. Unfortunately, Monday Snapshot does not sound nearly as smooth as Sunday Snapshot, so I am going to call it my Monday Mapshot, just because I can.

And may this serve as my reminder to pay attention to what day of the week it is so that I can avoid this confusion in the future…

…the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever. ~ Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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Hangin’ with the Fishes

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I know that bad weather is to be expected in winter, but this entire week has been downright nasty. It has been grey, cold, rainy and very, very windy. We have spent the week hunkering down, trying not to blow away. Today we really needed to get out of the house, though, so we went over to the aquarium.

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We spent a good few hours hanging with the fishes and petting the sting rays and sea urchins. We were even there at feeding time for the sting rays and it was fun to watch them eat. Nathan was a little disappointed that the sea turtle habitat was under construction, but there were several other turtles for him to admire. There were sea otters and a couple of alligators and lots and lots of different kinds of fish. They even had several sharks, which everyone found fascinating.  

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We were very excited to find that the wind was still whipping when we left the aquarium. We really should be used to the wind, having spent a few years on the West Plains of Spokane, Washington and then a couple more years in Great Falls, Montana, both places being extremely windy, but we never seem to get used to it. And while we can handle the cold and the rain and the grey skies, Rob and I both find ourselves cursing at the wind. Not that it does any good, but perhaps it makes us feel just a little bit better…

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Of course tonight the wind is still howling and Waldo is really rocking, and it is loud. Very, very loud. But tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and the wind should calm down by the afternoon. We have heard from many locals that winter here is not normally this bad. I am not sure if we should feel privileged to have experienced such an uncharacteristically miserable winter, or cheated that we missed out on a normally pleasant one. Either way, I am ready for it to be over.

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Catching the Ferry

On Valentine’s Day, since it was such a beautiful day and we were all up for a drive, we decided to head down the road to catch the ferry to Ocracoke. We were planning on taking the 11am ferry, but we were too late. In fact, we arrived just in time to miss the noon ferry, as well. So, due to our lack of punctuality, we found ourselves waiting for the 2pm ferry.

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The ferry workers are quite skilled at packing all of the vehicles in like sardines. We rode with multiple cars, pick-up trucks, a couple of boats, a school bus loaded with a sports team, a triple-axle (oh my!) 5th wheel and who knows what else. I was amazed at just how much they could pack onto the ferry.

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It was a windy day, as seems to be the case around here, and we all stood out and enjoyed the salty breeze. We bumped into the family from the 5th wheel and found out that they were also from Montana. And, it turns out, a mere 20 miles from where Rob grew up. Apparently it really is a small world after all.

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Being the off season in Ocracoke, not much was open, but we stopped into the visitor’s center and went to see the lighthouse. We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant where the kids were brave enough to try oysters. It was quite comical to watch, the faces of the twins were priceless. William is the only one who likes oysters besides Rob. (I am not brave enough to even try them.) We arrived back at the ferry dock about an hour early, and by the time we were loaded up at 6:30pm, it was dark. It was a strange sensation moving at night but not being able to see anything except for the occasional lighted buoy.

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Rob heard on the fishing report the other day that the beaches down in Ocracoke are covered with shells, probably because the tourists are not there to snatch them all up. We would really like to go back down within the next couple of weeks, partly to see if we can find any neat shells, and partly because we would like to have a little more time to spend there.

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My parents love Ocracoke and a couple of years ago they sent the kids each a t-shirt. And today when were folding laundry, Nathan held up his t-shirt and said, “Hey! We’ve been here!” Yes, my dear, we sure have.