Between Then and Now

During the summer of 2014, after three years of full time travel… in The Beast… with my “roadies” (Jazzy and Sadie), my father asked me a life changing question. “Can you stop, and help me?” I was only making a pit-stop in my hometown of Longview Washington at the time, on my way north for a seven week, long awaited trip through parts of Alberta and British Columbia. I had no intention of stopping at that time, but that planned seven weeks was to be my last hurrah before slowing my pace considerably. The plan was to plant myself for longer periods of time in places that I could enjoy exploring, take the time to sit long enough to get some work done, and hopefully work-camp along the way in exchange for free campsites.

When Dad posed the question I took a big gulp… and then a few days to think about it. It may as well be known that my father was the only person who not only didn’t “get” what I was doing out there… on the road… all alone, he really didn’t like it one bit. I’m sure some of it was worry for his “little girl”. I get that, but a big part of it was the old fashion guy in him. He felt that I should be living a more traditional life, taking care of and being supported by a man. I’m sure Dad never realized that by raising me no differently than he raised my posse of brothers, he set me up to be just that kind of gal.  Not fearless necessarily, but self-assured enough find my way on my own, and work through whatever problems might arise.

Daddy’s little girl

Dad, who lived on a sizable property with a barn, gardens, hay fields, two horses and other pets, was definitely struggling with his mobility by this time, but I questioned how badly he actually needed me at that point. Might his desire to get me off the road be part of the equation? Regardless, I knew that me “coming home” would not be an easy adjustment for either of us. Don’t get me wrong, I dearly loved the man, but he was tough! With the best intensions of raising us right he was incredibly demanding… almost militant in our upbringing. Especially with me, his only daughter, for reasons I’m just beginning to understand. My brothers and my daughter all urged me to keep on going, knowing how strongly my father could affect me, but I simply didn’t have the heart to turn him down. Thus… I found myself living in the town I’d grown up in for the first time since I was 18 years old.

Dad’s place

Dad’s view of the Columbia River

There’s a whole lot of story in between, but for now I’ll flash forward a year or so… to the day I met John. I could share our whirlwind love story, but I’m not sure there’s much need. Anyone who knows us can easily see that we’re ideally suited for one another. Our mutual love for the great outdoors, sense of wanderlust, and thirst for adventure is what brought us together very quickly, and our bond of love grew deep from there. A year and a half later we married while vacationing on Maui. Soon after that we were hunkered down finishing up extensive remodeling work on our home and preparing for his retirement… and the adventures ahead. We sold his little 22’ racing sailboat and upgraded to a Nonsuch 30, a larger cruising sailboat. Simultaneously we took “The Beast” (35’ motorhome) off the market with the plan of adventuring the northwest waterways during the summer months, and heading south of the bleak Washington winters before the cold rain set in.

Our first hike together!



We are… a nice pair. 🙂

On John’s raceboat, Gizmo

Then we started purging (déjà vu!) “things” from our lives and our home in preparation for our upcoming adventure.

Turn the clock forward to the beginning of 2018. We were coming down the back stretch with John’s retirement scheduled for July 13th. We were excited, but still had a lot of work to do… on the house… purging things… making plans for leasing out the house and settling our lives and belongings into a 30’ sailboat and a 35’ motorhome.

And then we lost my Dad. His health and mobility issues had continued to worsen during those few years, but the regression I saw in his health between Thanksgiving and Christmas was alarming and I knew he would not be with us much longer. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for his companion, Anne, who stepped in with a loving, caring, and incredibly patient heart. I don’t know how we would have managed his final years, and especially his final months without her steadfast devotion. Dad had no intention of leaving his home, and that is where he died… peacefully, in the home he built overlooking the Columbia River, on the 23rd of February.

Dad and his boy Rollie


Fast forward once again past the insanity of the ensuing five months spent painstakingly sorting through, dividing up, selling, purging and readying Dad’s place to be listed, leaving us two weeks to scramble through 5 months-worth of work at our own home in Olympia. Long grueling story short… we got it done! We were out of our house by the end of May and settling into our new “homes”. When John retired on July 13th, we were more than ready to get on with our long-awaited adventure. We departed Olympia on Summer Breeze at 6am on July 14th!

Summer Breeze!

Lots of stories and fun images to come in my future writings about our summer on the water, but as always… please be patient. Connection, which has been an issue for me since I started this site, is even harder to come by on the water!

4 thoughts on “Between Then and Now

  1. Loved reading this Fran. So happy that you and John have found each other and are enjoying life together. You’ve lived an amazing life thanks to the way you were raised (whether Dad realized it or not), some good and some not so good (as we all have those life stories). You are probably the strongest woman I know who can tackle just about anything she faces and/or puts her mind to. I wish I was more like that (less fear of the unknown). I admire you my friend.

    • Thanks Diane. We are enjoying… each other and life. I can’t imagine being cooped up so closely with anyone else. 🙂 And you, my friend, are stronger and braver than you know. We’re a lot alike, remember? Miss you. I think of our therapeutic walks so often. Those kept me sane during such a difficult time in my life! Maybe the four of us should charter a boat together someplace and enjoy the ocean breeze!

  2. Fantastic summary Fran! Congratulations on finding your soul mate! All of us really appreciate your updates and staying in touch. Sorry to hear about your Father. My Mother passed last March and it was quite traumatic and overwhelming for both myself and Sue. Great to hear you and John are on the road again doing what you love. I often think about our wonderful time photographing Yosemite with the dogs and running through the mist to catch the perfect lighting. Happy Trails Fran!

    • Thanks Michelle. We’re enjoying the “gypsy life” together. My time with the two of you and our canines came reeling back me in vivid color while traveling through the valley with John. That’s my next post actually! Blessing to you and Sue, and of course your furry family!

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