Our Time on Texoma Shore
Texas I wrote you a poem.
As thick as butter
The summer humidity suuuucks
Part II of our road trip covers our time in Texas, living on the sailboat for the first time, and then our travels from Texas to Pensacola, FL (which is where we’re currently hulled up (see what I did there?).
If I had to choose three words for Texas they would be.
1. The humidity in Texas is definitely something to write home about. As a South Dakota native, I thought I was conditioned to humid weather but Texas…Texas, you like to show off. During our time on Lake Texoma, Tye and I made a special point to stay indoors during the day if we were not sailing because the temperatures plus the humidity melted you and then stole your soul.
2. I’ve always heard about the cockroaches in the south…monster cockroaches. But, as we came to learn, it’s not the cockroaches you need to fear, it’s the mother truckin spiders! Every single night before bed we would wipe massive (I. Mean. Massive.) webs and tarantula like spiders from just about every line on the sailboat. Only to awake to twice as many. Don’t you even think about trying to get off the boat without a cobweb to the face. Nuh-uh.
3. Tye and I concluded the best people come from Texas (and SD, ND, ID & WA). It’s like apple pie meets porch-made sun tea. It’s “Midwest Nice” meets “Southern Hospitality.” People in the grocery store aisle seemed to sincerely want to know how your day was going. It almost made me uncomfortable at first but then I learned to embraced the oddity of it and began to appreciate their sincerity. We were only in Texas for three weeks, but during that short time, we were met with overwhelming generosity and kindness. The general population just seemed happier and more authentic. There was a sense of community and hospitality in Texas which can be a rare find these days. For us, the best part of Texas was definitley the people.
If you’re a Blake Shelton fan then you may have heard of Lake Texoma since he just named his new album “Texoma Shore.” Those are the very shores that we bought our 40’ Hunter Legend on. I swear Tye looked at every boat for sale from Seattle to Grenada and he kept coming back to this particular boat. One of the many things we liked about “My Lady” was that she has always been a fresh water boat, which means she has never been exposed to the harsh environment of salt water. Salt corrodes everything.
Once we arrived at Lake Texoma it was go-time. We moved most our our belongings on-board and spent the first few days making it home. After that, Tye started tackling his maintenance list. If you’re a boat owner, you know that owning a boat is constant work. We had a list of improvements to make before we arrived, but that doubled after actually getting on-board and studying the systems.
The first job Tye tackled was a leak in the main water line. He had the entire boat torn apart for days and eventually determined the source of the leak by adding green food coloring to the main water tank. You can learn more about fixing a main water line in our maintenance video here (coming soon!).
Besides fixing things, we did quite a bit of sailing. Each sailboat operates slightly different so we made a point to sail a few times a week focusing on our specific roles sailing this particular boat. A few of the main skills we focused on were raising the main sail, man overboard drills, and charting routes using Navionics, which will be our main navigation tool, as well as getting an overall feeling for how she sails.
Lake Texoma sits right on the Oklahoma/Texas border. Half of the lake is actually in Oklahoma and it sits 20 minutes outside of Denison, TX. Denison is a small, quaint town. It’s claim to fame is that President Eisenhower was born and raised in Denison. There were a couple spots that we grew to like, so if you ever find yourself in Denison, make sure to hit up Rustico for some authentic, upscale Mexican food. It’s seriously some of the best food and service that we’ve ever had. And if you’re looking for a great coffee shop, like I always am, we recommend CJ’s Coffee Cafe.
I can only assume that Chappie has less favorable memories of Texas than we do since this is where she had her first (and hopefully last) overboard experience. Yes, I let my fur baby fall overboard and it was entirely my fault and incredibly traumatic for both of us! Long story short, I jumped off the boat, on to the dock, leaving Chappie on the boat (first mistake). I motioned for her to come closer to me so I could grab her but she must have thought I wanted her to jump…so she did. She flew right between the dock and boat about 5 feet down to the dark murky water. I instinctively went in after her and we ended up by a dead fish under the dock. It’s a good thing I didn’t know at the time that Lake Texoma is home to quite a few territorial water moccasins! Eeekk! Everything ended up just fine. We were lucky Chap didn’t hit anything on the way down and it was definitely a learning experience for both of us.
One of my favorite quotes is “Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.” In a lot of ways, that’s what Tye and I are doing right now and we’ve already seen God’s handiwork in many circumstances. Meeting the Pyron family in Texas is just one of those examples. Tye randomly met Daniel at a Home Depot in Denison. They struck up a conversation and Daniel was excited to hear all about our adventure and beyond encouraging. We connected over social media and Daniel eventually helped Tye with with a boat project. As if that wasn’t enough, he also invited us over for dinner with his family of 25 (yes, 25!) The Pyron family so graciously opened their doors to us, prepared a wonderful meal, offered fellowship and prayed over us. Daniel prayed for safety and that encouraging people would continue to touch our lives. I don’t think it was just a coincidence that we crossed paths. It was a very humbling experience for Tye and I, and we’re so thankful for our new friendship. This experience is a refreshing reminder that there’s still a lot of good in this world and that the best people really are from Texas. ;)
We have a lot of great memories from Texas, but the best part of Texas was visiting family. Turns out I have family in Texas that I hadn’t seen for 18 YEARS! I know…who goes that long without seeing family, right?
My mom’s cousin’s family lives in the Dallas and Austin area. Dallas is only about an hour from Lake Texoma so we made plans to visit one weekend. I had been creeping this side of my family on social media for years and exploding with excitement that I was finally going to get too see them again. Friday night arrived and we boarded Winnie, headed for Dallas. Don’t get too excited though…bout 10 minutes out of Denison, Tye and I are rockin’ and rollin in Winnie and we hear a familiar sound…that dreaded sound. BOOM. PLUNK. PLUNK. PLUNK. Shit. Winnie got another flat. Nuh-uh. Yep. This was Winnie’s 3rd flat tire and it happened to the tire we JUUUST replaced. To make matters worse, it was after 5:00 on a Friday evening in a small town. There wasn’t an auto shop or rental car available within a 60 mile radius.
All I can say is bless my aunt’s (Annette, who is technically my cousin once removed??) heart. She was insistent she come to pick us up (and even let us drive her extra car for the next week).
I’m not sure I have the words to describe how wonderful our time was with Annette, Cliff, Jennifer, and Joe, and how appreciative we are of their love and support. It had been 18 years since we had seen one another but it was as if we never skipped a beat. To say we had a wonderful time is an understatement. Annette was my mom’s best friend growing up, and, even better yet, they look like twins, have the same mannerisms and share the same warmth and generous spirit. Many of you know that my mom passed away very unexpectedly 10 years ago, and I’ve felt that void in my life ever since. But there was something about spending time with Annette that was SO SO healing. It was as if I was spending time with my mom again. Her eyes, were my mom’s eyes and I almost couldn’t look away at times. I will forever cherish the laughs, stories, and memories that were made.
I also realized that my cousin Jennifer is a baddie and I love everything about her. Wondering why we waited 18 years to reconnect.
In looking at the bigger picture, it’s almost as if we were meant to buy this boat, exactly where it was on Lake Texoma for a couple of reasons. One being the fact that were were able to reconnect with so many loved ones and special people along the way, and the second being we were able to avoid the very active hurricane season. We looked at a number of boats that were in hurricane territory and had even contemplated transferring our boat to Galveston, TX, which would have resulted in a scuttled boat and sunken dreams. Things really do have a weird way of working out.
After our fun weekend in Dallas we planned on being on the boat another week before it was scheduled to be shipped by semi to Pensacola, FL. But sometimes plans change. That Monday morning our semi driver called and his plans had changed and he had to pick up the boat tomorrow (Tuesday). (Great, thanks for the heads up.) That was a week earlier than we had scheduled with the marina. So that meant we had to pull some strings with Grandpappy’s since they require a 48 hr notice to dismast and de-rig a boat…and to make matters worse, they are closed on Mondays. Nothing like calling on the day of and asking them to ship your boat in a couple hours. But that’s exactly what happened. We rushed to get off the boat by noon the next day and the marina accommodated our rush request. (Spoiler alert…this causes future frustration…just keep reading.)
We grabbed what belongings we thought we’d need for a couple days while the boat was being transferred and mobbed to Austin, TX with a pit stop at the Magnolia Market on the way. I’m not gunna lie, the HGTV girl in me was pretty stoked to visit the market. Rolling up to Magnolia in Winnie was a dream come true. You can read more about our Magnolia Market experience here (coming soon!).
Austin ended up being our favorite city in Texas. We were surprised to find that it almost had a west coast feel to it. We enjoyed a hard weekend on the liver with our friend’s Kenny & Amy complete with some slight Matthew McConhey stalking. We also got to spend more time with with Jennifer & Joe! Great food and good vibes in Austin…we highly recommend it!
So here’s where the frustration comes in. Turns out the semi driver didn’t pick up our sailboat on Tuesday. He ended up being a week late. A week late…after everyone rushed to get the boat on the hard in just a couple hours. Hauling a 40ft boat out of the water is an expensive and time consuming production. Grandpappy rushed to accommodate us but ended up putting the boat back in the water because the transportation service never showed, and then they had to haul it out again. Eeek. Needless to say, there were quite a few people unhappy with the trucking service.
After almost four weeks in the Lone Star State, we crossed the border in to Louisiana. New Orleans was definitely on our list of places to visit and since our boat was behind schedule we decided to get a hotel room in the French District for a few nights.
A little travel tip we discovered during out time in NOLA is that Priceline often offers special mobile deals only available on your mobile device that the hotels can’t compete with. It’s worth doing a quick search on your phone to see what specials are available. We ended up in a 4 star hotel in the heart of the French District for $69 a night…even the front desk was surprised.
We enjoyed our time in New Orleans. For me, the architecture was most impressive. The history and culture is so evident through the architecture. We wandered for hours one day admiring the buildings and searching for the best gumbo on Bourbon street. I’m still not convinced we found it, but we had fun exploring.
One of our favorite spots in NOLA Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar which served great food but was also dog friendly! They even served Chappie her own little doggie menu….cuz cute! Lucy’s quickly became our go-to. We could e retired surfers.
The first thing I look for in any new city is a quality coffee shop. A coffeeshop that speaks to my soul by selling craft roasted beans and a pour over. I found that in Revelator Coffee. I'd highly recommend them if you find yourself in the French District.
We did spend a night out on Bourbon street in order to get the full NOLA experience and I feel like I need to warn you about the street peddlers! Tye and I must have had the vulnerable tourist look because somehow we got taken advantage of three different times and we both walked away scratching our heads wondering how that person just got five dollars from us when we knew what was happening? If you’re on Bourbon street beware of the peddlers…they will find you! (The picture with the sign cost us $5.)
After a couple relaxing days in New Orleans, we continued along the Gulf Coast to Pensacola. We chose Pensacola as our final destination for a couple reasons. First, we knew we were shipping the sailboat from Texas and we wanted to ship it somewhere “close” due to cost, and second we wanted to ship it to an area that had a prominent sailing community and quality resources for the boat. Pensacola seemed like a nice sized town and a great fit for what we were looking for. And I have to say we couldn’t be happier with our decision. We have fallen in love with Pensacola! It’s a clean, quaint, artsy town decorated in civil war history. Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels (We see them fly over daily!), the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. The downtown is full of neat shops, craft restaurants and there’s always a festival or organized event taking place. It’s a mix of college kids, young military families, and snow birds. The Palafox Marina (our current residence) is right off the downtown which makes for a fun environment but that comes with constant temptation to grab a street taco and happy hour drink. The beautiful white sand beaches of Pensacola Beach are a short 20 minute drive away and we’ve made it a habit of taking Chappie to the beach at least a couple times a week. Nothing makes that dog happier than a beach.
It’s been easy to make Pensacola home, but it wasn’t that way at first. A couple days after we rolled into town Hurricane Nate decided to show up, at the exact same time our boat (which was now 10 days behind schedule) was scheduled to arrive. It was predicted to be a category 2 hurricane. At the time we were camping out in Winnie, so we decided it was best to head inland for a couple days to wait out the storm. This entire experience was definitely a first for Tye and I, neither one of us had been anywhere close to a hurricane before and if I’m being honest, we were kind of excited! We ended up checking in to a hotel for a couple days and binge watched Netflix while the rain fell and the wind blew. The conditions actually ended up being fairly mild. I think I’ve been in worse South Dakota thunderstorms. I actually decided to brave the elements one afternoon and went outside for a run…if you’re a runner you understand why running in a hurricane seems like a good idea. :)
Our boat ended up arriving the day before the hurricane which was not ideal. Needless to say we were not happy with the trucking service. We decided the safest place for the boat was to stay strapped to the semi. Everything ended up being just fine but it was definitely a learning experience for both of us. The amount of effort a city puts forth in preparing for a hurricane is impressive. Buildings are boarded, signs are taken down, grocery stores are a zoo and just about every boat is hauled out of the water. It’s a production.
We’ve already been in Pensacola for five weeks! A couple of those were spent in Winnie, then once we couldn’t bare the gypsy van lifestyle any longer we checked into an AirBNB for a couple weeks. We scored a sweet deal with the AirBNB by chance. Long story short, we were offered to stay in at unlisted property for a very affordable price where we had the entire upstairs of a beautiful, eclectic, historic home all to ourselves. The artwork was from all over the world and absolutely incredible. We couldn't have asked for a better situation.
We're back on the boat now and it’s FINALLY in the water…salt water! We’re currently working through a few projects before we set sail in 2 weeks. We've already met four other couples in our marina who are planning very similar voyages. Tye installed our water maker, serviced all 7 winches (loooong overdo), converted our CNG stove to LPG and rigged up a propane system, installed our VHF radio, and lots more. How-to videos will be on the blog real soon! The boat is really starting to feel like home. I’ve been busy connecting with photographers and have secured a couple editing positions which will provide a little side money here and there.
Life is good right now guys. We’re brave and free and wild as the sea.