We’re Back!

Hello again, friends! It’s been awhile. We hope everyone is well and happy.

Joy Girl Update

First, for those who don’t know, let me summarize what happened after we finished the Great Loop in March 2020. (If you know the story, skip down.) When we entered our slip at Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head, we hadn’t decided whether or not to keep Joy Girl. We loved her but she was frustratingly expensive, the kitties never fully took to her, and our parents were struggling with aging issues.

In mid-March, I flew home to Colorado to visit my parents. But by the time my return flight came around, Covid was rapidly exploding. Airlines were canceling thousands of flights every day and state borders were closing. In such an unprecedented emergency and not knowing what the future held, we decided I would stay home and poor Craig would pack up all our belongings and drive home solo.

Within a week, he packed everything on Joy Girl in boxes, rented a panel van, and packed up the kitties. The Disney Resort next to the marina, which gave us car access to the boat, closed due to Covid but they kindly allowed him to use their lot so he didn’t have to haul stacks of boxes for half a mile. He drove 1,745 miles in 30 hours, only taking short naps at rest stops, and crossed into Colorado the day before the border closed at the end of March.

A few weeks later, on April 17th, my Dad turned 90. Exactly one week later, on April 24, he passed on to heaven. I was so grateful to be home and help Mom through that time. We really felt the hand of God in the timing of those events. As Covid restrictions increased, we put Joy Girl on the market. Our favorite boat broker, John Kaiser, found her new owner in December 2020. Last we knew, she was headed toward Washington D.C.

Dad’s 90th birthday party

One if by land, two if by sea….

Like everyone else, we hunkered down through Covid. And, like millions of other Americans, we thought an RV would be a great way to travel during a pandemic. We also hoped the kitties would be happier on land than sea. At least when we stopped waves wouldn’t continue to rock their world.

On October 3rd, 2021 (my birthday), we bought an impeccably maintained 2014 Winnebago 35G Sightseer in Colorado Springs. (If you want a peek inside, click here.) Unfortunately, Craig’s first driving experience was white knuckling it up I-25 through Denver, under major construction with sharp curves, narrowed lanes, closed shoulders, and rough pavement. Baptism by fire!

Last Fall, we took two short trips into the Rockies to learn how to handle our new land yacht. At Carter Lake Reservoir and the Poudre Canyon we learned that at the very least we need electricity so we can run the heat and lights without running a noisy generator and disturbing the quiet.

In March we set off on our first multi-week trip to Mustang Island, Texas, a barrier island off the coast of Corpus Christi. I wanted the beach! This was our test run trip to find out – did we like the RV? Would Roswell, our high anxiety kitty, be okay during the drive? Would Scully cat get carsick like she got seasick? It took us four days to drive through west Texas, much of which looks like an apocalyptic landscape of nothingness or the extreme barrenness of Saudi Arabia. Corpus Christi wasn’t much better. Beach towns in Florida can be disheveled and worn, but they have a certain ineffable charm. Corpus and to a lesser degree, Port Aransas (the main burg on Mustang Island), are just run down, dirty and trashy (literally). A former Texan looked at me sadly and summed it up, “It’s a border town.” I hear east Texas is better. I will say this – all the Texans we met were extremely friendly and helpful.

As we drove down Mustang Island toward Gulf Waters Beach Front RV Resort Craig scanned the flat, tree-less, brown landscape and said, “Is this where we’re staying? This is so ugly!” I bit my lip and wondered, What have I done? I wanted the beach, but this is awful! Ten miles down the road we finally we found our new home for the next three weeks and, voila, we drove into an oasis! The park was pristinely clean, filled with large palm trees and bushes, and had a sparkling blue pool and hot tub. They ushered us to our spot, at the end of a small lake and a five-minute walk from the beach.

Our Gulf Waters RV spot

Nestling our land yacht into a new spot requires a setup process not dissimilar to docking Joy Girl. Instead of gliding into a slip, determining where lines need to be placed, and jumping onto a dock to secure the vessel, now Craig waits while I scope the spot for tree branches that might scratch paint or obstruct slide outs and make sure our electric, water and sewer lines will reach the outlets. As on Joy Girl, we use headsets so we don’t have to scream at each other to be heard. After positioning is perfect, we lower the jacks to stabilize and level it, hook up the lines, and open the slide outs.

As soon as chores were done, I headed to the beach. It takes a lot for a beach to disappoint me. Give me sand and surf and I’m content. On the positive side, the sand was soft and the surf pounded. But, cars drove up and down the beach and campers could park for three nights. If I was a kid (or had young kids), I’d be all over that! But at my ripe old age, I long for the peace, solemnity and quiet that a beach offers. Unfortunately, trash marred the beauty and the wind typically blew somewhere between 10-30mph each day. But we absorbed some sunshine in the 70 degree weather. Mom flew down for a week and stayed at a nearby Airbnb.

As we settled in, we decided we love living in our new tiny home. The traveling isn’t great – the V10 engine is LOUD, the suspension is bumpy, and the interior is creaky, but once we settle down, life is good. We gave Roswell a vet-approved sedative for the drives and fearless Scully did not get carsick. We plan on a few upgrades to make the drive a more pleasant experience. If you are an RV’er and have some tips, please let us know!

We stayed in Texas for three weeks and on our way back, stopped in Fredericksburg and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Both are great places to visit and were the highlights of our trip! We plan to return to Palo Duro for the outdoor stage play “Texas!” which uses the canyon as the set.

This Spring we plan to take a few small trips to the mountains just to get away. At the end of June we head to the Midwest to visit friends and family in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to travel and keep in touch with loved ones. Hopefully, for all our sakes, Covid will stay at bay and adventures will continue.

We’ve decided to write the blog again since it’s a great way to share experiences and photos with everyone. If you aren’t interested in our RV adventures and only wanted boat updates, there should be a link at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe. We’ll catch up again later!

16 thoughts on “We’re Back!

  1. Dan Murphy

    Hi Niki, Craig, So great to hear from you! Dan Murphy here from SOULSHINE when we met down in Charleston SC. Very sorry to hear about your dad but glad you were able to spend time with him. We still own SOULSHINE but every season we go through the same question of whether we should sell it, as like you noted they are very expensive to have and maintain, especially for the short boating season here. This year I have to have the electrical system redone, so another significant investment there. Like you, we also wanted to try out the RV idea during covid too. I took a voluntary buyout from Fidelity last June, so we decided to rent an RV. We hooked up with a 2016 Itasca Sunstar LX 35b for 4 days in August, and took it from North Conway NH over to the Apple Island resort over on Lake Champlain about 20 minutes north of Burlington VT. It was a great time and if you are up this way I would recommend the resort. We rented a spot that was second row up and overlooked the lake. We rented a car in Burlington so we could get around. Burlington is a fun town with lots of restaurants and good shopping. We liked RVing but learned with all of our dogs that it really wouldn’t be feasible in the near term, as most resorts limited us to two dogs an several might not have accepted our Husky. But down the road when we have only a couple of dogs it is definitely something we may reconsider. If the driving noise is bothering you, everyone we spoke with recommended going with a rear engine diesel, but I’ve never driven one myself so I cannot vouch for that opinion. Hope you have great adventures with your RV and I look forward to hearing about them!

    Dan

    Sent from my iPad

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    1. Craig Kozak

      Dan,
      Great to hear from you and to know that you’re continuing the great Nordic Tug tradition! We miss Joy Girl, but are (as the post said) also enjoying getting to know Woody (named in part for the laughable, lovable character from “Cheers”). And for sure, traveling with 2 totally indoor cats is much simpler than with a small wolf pack of dogs. That would add a whole new dimension to the project for sure!
      You are not wrong about diesel “pushers” being quieter and riding nicer, in fact, we are already considering making the move to one. But they price out more like boats than RV’s, so we want to make sure we really do like this new form of “yachting” as much as we think we do before plunging in even deeper. This summer’s nearly 4 month trip will help answer that question, we hope.
      Should we end up staying in this game and moving up to a nicer coach, one of our bucket list items would be a trip to the Northeast. A friend from Maine has told us a hundred million sixty times how beautiful it is up there, and of course NH and VT would be on the way to or from there for us. So we very well might end up checking out Apple Island at some point.
      Thanks again for keeping in touch, and we hope our paths will eventually cross again, either by land or by sea!

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    1. Craig Kozak

      Our choice of names came from the fun but a bit off the wall character on “Cheers”, pushed along a bit by the giant “W” emblazoned on the aft end of each side. I look forward to learning more about this new form of fun from old pros like you!

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  2. R. J.

    Niki- So glad you are back with your stories and pictures. Craig keeps us up to date but you add some interesting color and pictures. Will be anxious to follow you on your Midwest trip this summer.
    R.J.

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  3. maimermd

    Sounds like some great adventures ahead. I love doing road trips and plan to get a small van when I return so I can do the same 🙂 I’ll return to the area in September sometime and hope to have cataract surgery promptly ( when all is arranged). I’ll be in touch regarding those items and bike stored at your place….no worries.

    thanks again, Marina

    On 23:07, Thu, Apr 14, 2022 Team Joy Girl Adventures Niki Kozak posted: ” Hello again, friends! It’s been awhile. We hope > everyone is well and happy. Joy Girl Update… First, for those who don’t > know, let me summarize what happened after we finished the Great Loop in > March 2020. (If you know the story, skip down.) When” >

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  4. Berry & Michelle Z

    Wonderful to see you’re back in the game! Wondered how the Texas trip went and what you found….not surprising, I guess. But the park did look nice. No beaches like Florida beaches (ck out National seashore between Pensacola and Navarre! Oh mama, what a place!!!!
    Will enjoy your posts as you wend your way east this summer. Ice still on the lake as of Tuesday😳😳. Promise it will be gone in July! Take good care and give kitties a nice chin scritch for us!
    M&B

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    1. Craig Kozak

      Our lakes in Colorado aren’t frozen any more, but the wind! Did we get annexed into Wyoming or Kansas and no one told us?
      We look forward to seeing you this summer in beautiful Michigan.

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  5. C Haddon

    Thanks for the news.

    Your timing is impeccable!

    Leigh & Maidie (our new 4 month old Shih Tzu) and I began our loop three days ago, leaving from Marineland, FL.

    Below I’ve attached our first three NEBO logs. This is how we are keeping friends up with our progress. It records our track for the day and let’s us add pics and comments as we go. People can also see where we are at any time they want, if they download the free NEBO app.

    Most loopers use NEBO now and we can all see each other. Also get docktale invites at marinas with other loopers. Lots of folks looping this year – many delayed a year when Canada closed.

    Great to hear from you!

    Chuck Haddon 770-331-9139

    Every day spent on the water is a day not deducted from your life.

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    1. Craig Kozak

      Congrats on starting your loop. It’s an adventure you will never forget, and we wish you the best!

      We never got into using Nebo when we were cruising, but keep us posted as to your location on the Great Lakes this summer and perhaps we can arrange a meet up somewhere while you’re yachting and we’re land-yachting.

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