Thursday, April 17, 2014


St. Helena, CA

Wine country has wowed us and wooed us -- and we've decided to stick around. After four years of living onboard our 39' x 13' (at its widest point) bobbling home, we are shopping for a land vessel, and by that I mean a place to live on land.

"Here ya go," the property manager said as he opened the front door of a wee cottage measuring 512 square feet, a little bigger than the average two-car garage. "It's pretty small, but it's got wood floors throughout."

I stepped into a seemingly palatial cottage, and by that I mean 33' x 14' of squared off living space.

"The kitchen is rather small," he said apologetically as I gaped at miles of cabinets on three sides of the room. And by that I mean there were 10 drawers and 30(!) cabinet doors. Which cabinet would I choose to hold all my kitchen items: two travel mugs.

"Here's the bathroom. Pretty basic," he said as I looked at the faucets marked H, knowing that if I turned them, hot water would come pouring out. And the toilet was one of the magical kind where you simply touch the handle and the waste vanishes. By that, I mean I don't have to crouch over it, pumping, switching from dry to water in just the right proportions. By that, I mean "vanishes" as in "flushing" does not put the waste under my bed until I find a way to pump it somewhere else. By that, I mean I don't have to mentally track how much of that waste is stored under my bed until I find a place to remove it before I'm full of you-know-what.

"Small bedroom," he laments, as we walk into a sprawling 14' x 10' room. "This first door has the washer and dryer."

I nearly dropped to my knees. A washer and dryer?!? IN THE BEDROOM. I no longer have to pack up my dirty underwear in a waterproof bag, put it in the dinghy, motor to shore and shlep it an untold number of miles to a ratty laundromat. I no longer have to hoard quarters as if they're $20 bills or sit for hours in a sweaty room, creating more dirty laundry while I wait for a washing machine to open up and then for it to slosh around for 26 minutes, infusing my clothes with the cloying perfume of the last person's detergent.

"The other door is the only closet," he sighed sadly, as I stepped inside. And by that I mean, I STEPPED INSIDE IT, with my entire body, and I stretched out my arms and could not reach either wall or the ceiling. Breathtaking.

"I have to warn you," this high-pressure salesman said, "because of the drought, they're about to impose water rationing. Only 65 gallons, per person, per day."

The poor man must have thought I was insane as I doubled over with laughter, and maybe "cruiser" and "insane" are synonymous. We are the folks who eschew the comforts of land and travel like it's 1899. Our 170 gallons of water onboard lasted us comfortably for two weeks. And by that, I mean bathing daily, washing dishes, cooking, cleaning. That's 6 gallons per person, per day. So, 65 gallons a day? Maybe he got the decimal in the wrong place.

We were still trying to imagine living in a place that didn't move, a place where we would anchor down for, oh, how long?

"What are the lease terms?" I asked.

"That might be a problem," he replied. "We only do month-to-month."

"We'll take it!"

Now about those empty rooms. Maybe we can open a bowling alley?

MORE ABOUT: wine country | downsizing | living small

1 comment:

  1. It's huge!! Enjoy! Cheers to you and Chip on your new adventure!