Living on a Boat #boatlife

It’s been a while since we actually felt like we lived anywhere.I realize that sounds like a strange statement, but it’s true. From the time we left St. Croix a dozen years ago until just this past year we have been essentially nomads. But now we bought a boat, moved on to it and made it our new home…
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It’s been a while since we actually felt like we lived anywhere.

I realize that sounds like a strange statement, but it’s true. From the time we left St. Croix a dozen years ago until just this past year we have been essentially nomads.

We spent the first half of that time bouncing around North America in a series of three motorhomes. It wasn’t our original plan, in fact we used to say “the plan is no plans” back then. But when the first RV kept running long after we assumed it would die, we just kept going.

As we chronicled in our book, GOING GYPSY: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All, we were only looking to take a break after raising three kids by taking what we called a victory lap. It was only meant to last a year or so but fate had different plans.

Instead, we began writing about our adventures, which led to us traveling all around the world and passing our stories along via this website, social media, the aforementioned book, and any number of other outlets along the way.

Meanwhile, we had to “live” somewhere. (Yes, those are meant to be air quotes.)

At first we bought rental properties in Michigan, where our son went to college. Even though we spent very little time there, we used it as an address for all of those official functions that need one, like having a driver’s license, a bank account, voting, and paying taxes.

By the time he graduated and moved to Alaska, we were being asked to write about overseas trips quite a bit and, since both of our daughters lived in New York City, we bought a condo outside the city in Poughkeepsie. Once again, we were almost never there, but at least we had an address.

A couple of years ago some family matters in California came up that made living on the opposite coast inconvenient, so we packed up what little we had and headed west. A few months later our apartment burned to the ground while we were in Cuba.

Since we travel incredibly light, that left us with literally the clothes on our backs along with what little we had in our carry-on bags.

This lack of possessions pushed us into a decision about our living situation that we had been contemplating ever since St. Croix. We bought a boat. But unlike the boats we had back in Nashville, and the US Virgin Islands, this was set up to live aboard.

So that’s what we did, moved on to it and made it our new home.

At the same time we had decided to slow down our travel schedule, partly because it was becoming a bit too hectic, but mostly so we could spend the necessary time involved with getting a forty-five year old boat back up to ship shape.

The view from our deck.

With that task nearly complete, (but as any boat owner knows it is never really finished) we are about ready to embark on some seafaring adventures.

As with living on a Caribbean island, boat life may look like an endless vacation but real life is always with us. Bills still must be paid and family obligations don’t just go away.

So we will start slow, exploring the California coast and the Channel Islands just off of it, then move further out, perhaps to Mexico or north to the Pacific Northwest and Canada. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

As we do, we will certainly be sharing our tales of the high seas.

David and Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Tell us what you think of this idea. Are we crazy? Could you live on a boat?

Seeing Double: Another Mona Lisa


We just learned that there is another Mona Lisa. That’s right; Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece in the Louvre is not alone. In fact, the other one, the Isleworth Mona Lisa, has been known about for years but is recently getting some well-deserved attention, so when we heard about it, naturally we had to investigate…
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The Mona Lisa

“You learn something new every day.”

My mother liked to say that, and while it may not always be true as we get older, back then it certainly rang true. Well I’m happy to say it is true again today.

We just learned that there is another Mona Lisa. That’s right; Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece in the Louvre is not alone.

In fact, the other one, the Isleworth Mona Lisa, has been known about for years but is recently getting some well-deserved attention, so when we heard about it, naturally we had to investigate.

The Isleworth Mona Lisa

While we can hardly claim to be experts, we can share what we discovered.

The work is an oil on canvas from the early sixteenth-century and depicts a younger rendition of the same woman, Lisa del Giocondo, as the more famous painting hanging in the Louvre. Yet even though it is over five hundred years old, it was not very well known to the public until 1913.

That is when an English art enthusiast named Hugh Blaker acquired it from a mansion in Somerset and was convinced that there were two versions of Da Vinci’s portrait, and that the Isleworth version was actually the first one.

This would definitely be huge news, but proving these things can be tricky.

One problem is that Da Vinci, for all of his acclaim as an artist, didn’t produce many paintings. So there is not a lot to compare the Isleworth Mona Lisa to. Then again, we can make the comparison to the famous work in the Louvre, and several experts having done just that concluded that this is an original work by Leonardo da Vinci.

Even scientists have weighed in on the mystery. Over thirty years ago research physicist John Asmus from the University of California ran a number of tests and determined that the same artist painted at least the face in both works.

Later, professors Salvatore Lorusso and Andrea Natali of the Università di Bologna did extensive analysis and also arrived at the conclusion that this was Da Vinci’s work.

But perhaps some of the most compelling arguments come not from science or art experts, but from history.

For centuries it has been known that Raphael made a sketch of the Mona Lisa in 1504 after seeing it in Leonardo’s studio. The sketch’s background includes two Greek columns, which are not found in the Louvre’s Mona Lisa but are present in the Isleworth version.

In 2017 even the Louvre Museum got in on the debate when they published a story by Vincent Delieuvin that speculates how Raphael must have based his work on a Mona Lisa other than the one in the Louvre.

Still, even in the face of all of this evidence, many in the art world are unconvinced. Many point to the fact that the Isleworth painting is on canvass and Da Vinci generally worked on wood. However, there are several examples of the master using canvas as a medium.

So in 2012 the Mona Lisa Foundation of Zurich officially unveiled the painting and began displaying it in various public settings. They also presented their research and opinions as to the painting’s authenticity, which they feel strongly points to the Isleworth Mona Lisa being the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

Now, as we said at the beginning, we don’t claim to be experts, but everything we have seen leads us to the same conclusion.

And just goes to show that we still can learn something new… at least some days.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Picture This: Mount Rushmore

Mount RushmoreMount Rushmore is one of the easier monuments to visit while keeping our social distance. So, in this time of political bickering, why not visit some presidents that we can almost all agree were great… CONTINUE READING >>

Mount Rushmore is one of the easier monuments to visit while keeping our social distance. So, in this time of political bickering, why not visit some presidents that we can almost all agree were great?

Mount Rushmore on a beautiful dayWe thought we were on a quest to see Mount Rushmore but found much more.

The area is filled with an interesting, if a bit unsavory, history. We rapidly discovered that an extraordinary work of art can have an unseemly creator.

A tunnel through rock on the way to Mount Rushmore

The creation of one of America’s greatest works of art was not without controversy.

In 1923, after removing all of the Native Americans and most of the gold from the Black Hills, historian Doane Robinson thought that an enormous something should be done to promote tourism.

On the road to Mount Rushmore

Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mount Rushmore

Robinson asked noted sculptor and Klansman (as in KKK), Gutzon Borglum, to carve a tribute to America’s first 150 years into the side of a mountain.

Gutzon happened to be available, due to a falling out with his Klan buddies regarding the depiction the heroes of the Confederacy
during his Stone Mountain project in Georgia.

Borglum came to the Black Hills to scout out an acceptable site for his masterpiece and selected the 5,725 foot high Mount Rushmore, named for New York industrialist Charles E. Rushmore who had mining interests in the hills.

The area around Mount Rushmore

Suspended by Mount Rushmore

Politics, bigotry and secret society memberships aside, ol’ Gutzon sure could carve rock on a grand scale.

In 1925 Congress authorized funds for the project and in 1927 Borglum and four hundred workers began chipping away with everything from dynamite to tiny hand tools on the four sixty foot faces.

In 1933 the National Park Service took control of the monument and by 1934 the first face, Washington’s, was finished and dedicated. Jefferson followed in 1936 and Lincoln in 1937.

A different angle of Mount Rushmore

There was some talk in congress of adding Susan B. Anthony’s likeness to the monument but with limited funds, Roosevelt’s face was the final one, dedicated in 1939.

Work came to a halt with Gutzon Borglum’s death and the beginning of World War II in 1941.

Find out more about the spectacular sites near Mount Rushmore! Click here!

A different angle of Mount Rushmore

The end of work did not bring an end to the disputes. In 1971 members of the Sioux Nations occupied the monument, hung a drape over the faces and renamed it Mount Crazy Horse.

Despite the controversies, this is a great work of art celebrating great presidents.

The main entrance to the monument leads up The Avenue of Flags to the museum and Grand View Terrace.

Mount Rushmore side view

The path is lined with tributes to every state and territory in the union, marking the date of their admission. As we proceeded under the flags, gazing up at the mountain, the grandeur of the sculpture really hit us. Photographs simply do not do it justice.

The view from the Terrace truly is Grand (well named guys!) and the museum offers a fascinating look at the construction methods and history of the monument.

Close up of Mount Rushmore

Deciding we needed a closer look, we headed up the Presidential Trail that proceeds to the base of the faces. Well worth the climb, standing among the piles of fallen rock, cast-off from the carving, we were rewarded with views right up the nostrils of America’s greatest leaders.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Find out more about the spectacular sites near Mount Rushmore! Click here!

Today is the Day for One Day University

With the new normal of social distancing and staying home as much as possible, we are always on the lookout for new and interesting things to occupy our time. I believe we may have found a great one, One Day University… CONTINUE READING >> 

With the new normal of social distancing and staying home as much as possible, we are always on the lookout for new and interesting things to occupy our time. If you are like us, you have binge watched your brains out and are thinking that there just has to be something better to do.

While we don’t have anything against a little mindless entertainment now and then, we certainly feel that feeding our minds rather than snacking through eight seasons of Game of Thrones might be a good idea. You know, stuffing our brains instead of our faces.

Maybe we could use some of this time to gain some real knowledge. We have certainly considered going back to college from time to time, but that hardly seems practical these days. Well, I believe we may have found an alternative that is not only practical, its practically perfect, One Day University.

For those of us who aren’t really looking for a degree program, but more of a program to expand our understanding of the world around us, this may be exactly what the doctor, or professor, ordered.

ODU offers daily live streaming lectures from faculty at over 100 of America’s top universities, including many Ivy League schools. And don’t worry if you miss the live event, they can also be watched later on demand.

In fact, there is an extensive video library available at any time with categories covering Art, Music, Film, History & Politics, Psychology & Lifestyle, and Science.

The lectures range all across the spectrum of subjects. History is covered all the way from the ancients to timely investigations into today’s most news worthy events. There are stimulating examinations into where we are and how we got here, along with in depth discussions of many of the milestone events and significant heroes through time.

In the first lecture we chose, Our Broken Two-Party System: Gridlock, Dysfunction, and Incivility, Robert Watson, a professor of American History from Lynn University, covered our uniquely American system from its very beginnings up to the forthcoming election.

As unsettled as things seem, perhaps we can take some solace in the facts he delivered showing that the fractured politics we see these days is nothing new. We have experienced similar circumstances, sometimes arguably even worse, many times before.

After that, we decided that maybe something more calming and uplifting would be better.  So we browsed through the Arts library and we found Beethoven and The Beatles: Hearing the Connection. In this we discovered Michael Alec Rose from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music taking a deep dive into the similarities between Hey Jude and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Wow! This was not only incredibly informative, but also extremely entertaining and humorous.

Speaking of humor, that tickling of our funny bones led us to the Psychology & Lifestyle section where we found The Psychology of Humor, along with a ton of other insights that can help us to better understand ourselves such as The Science of Pleasure: Why We Like What Like, and  Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.

Obviously we love to travel, so the title A Grand Tour of Italy jumped out at us as well and the next thing we knew we were off on a virtual Italian vacation.

By this time we had definitely descended into a whole new category of binge watching. Maybe we should call it mind blowing educational expansion watching.

Veronica wasn’t ready to dive into the science section, but I couldn’t seem to stop. My long dormant inner physics geek was enthusiastically awakened by NYU professor Matthew Stanley’s lecture on Unexplained Science: What Scientists Still Don’t Understand.  

After that my brain needed a break.

So that gives us a chance to pass along this free one-month trial offer that One Day University has been kind enough to let us give to our readers. Just follow this link, click on SIGN UP NOW, then enter GYPSYNESTER in the Coupon Code box and off you go for a free month of all these live and on demand lectures. After that, just $7.95 per month keeps you enrolled. As any of us who have put kids through college can tell you- that’s a pretty remarkable deal!

I know we sound pretty excited about this, but really, this is the same kind of learning about our world that makes us love traveling so much. So these days, while gallivanting around the globe is not an option, this is without a doubt the best alternative that we have found.

Now… what are we going to learn about next?

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Montana is Made for Making Memories

Montana memories will last a lifetime. That’s the effect that Big Sky Country can have on a soul. This magnificent landscape will captivate your imagination in a way that can never be forgotten…
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When I think of Montana, I can’t help but think back to an incredible fly fishing trip I took to the state a long time ago. Even though it’s been over thirty years since my dad, uncle, and several cousins met up to partake in some of the world’s finest fly fishing, the memory will last a lifetime.

That’s the effect that Big Sky Country can have on a soul. This magnificent landscape will captivate your imagination in a way that can never be forgotten.

So now as a parent, and even grandparent, I am often on the lookout for an adventure that can create that same sort of result. That is why when I came upon The Resort at Paws Up while surfing around looking for Montana Resorts the other day, I was pretty dad-blamed excited.

While the fishing is world class, it didn’t me take long to see that this was nothing like the rustic fishing camp I so fondly recall from all those years ago. No, this is a horse of a different color.

Speaking of horses, there are plenty of equestrian activities to go along with the angling. Everything from trail rides to wrangling is waiting for riders of all ages. Don’t feel like saddling up? Then a carriage or even a sleigh ride might be just the thing.

Hold your horses! Did I just say sleigh ride?

Yup, the adventures don’t stop just because the seasons change. The Resort at Paws Up is a year ‘round destination. Each season has its own special appeal. Whether it is the long days and gorgeous evenings under the big summer sky, the crisp air and awesome colors of autumn, the pristine snow covered mountains in winter, or the burst of wild flowers and rushing waters of springtime, anytime is a perfect time to enjoy this sprawling 37,000 acres of western Montana.

So unlike that trip long ago, when a group of guys chased cutthroats and grayling by day and told fish stories by firelight at night, there is something for everyone.

When I showed the Paws Up website to Veronica, she immediately agreed that this is a perfect place for a multi-generational family get together. And believe me, we realize that isn’t all that easy to find.

For the kids, or just a kid at heart, there are go-karts, paintball, snowboarding, tubing, and any number of outdoor nature adventures.  Better yet, a bunch of these activities are great for all ages, like white water rafting, dogsledding, mountain bikes, skiing, ATV excursions, and helicopter tours.

For those of us who might want to take it a little easier now and then, there are also plenty of lower key pastimes that speak to our inner tranquility. Workshops for painting and photographing the awe inspiring beauty of the natural surroundings, and the wildlife that makes a home here, are bound to bring a peaceful calm that is certainly hard to come by in today’s world.

But man, along with women and children, does not live on fun alone. We have to eat. Did someone ring the dinner bell?

Chow time at Paws Up, like everything else, has a little something for everyone. One day might find you strapping on the ole feed bag at a real chuck wagon, while the next night it’s white linen and fine china at the elegant Pomp Restaurant. But no matter which of the many options you choose the fare is always fresh, locally sourced, and down-right delicious.

Chef Sunny Jin calls it refined rustic ranch cuisine.

Now when it comes time to hit the hay, those of us that are of a certain age may not feel quite like roughing it anymore. No problem. Once again, having options is what The Resort at Paws Up is all about.

There are a number of luxury homes available, from two bedrooms to four, and a tent can even be pitched in the back yard so everyone can stay together.

Or there are camping choices as well. But we’re not talking pup tents and sleeping bags on the cold hard ground; in fact, you may never look at camping quite the same again.

These are luxury accommodations that just happen to be out in the woods. Seriously, when’s the last time your camp had a butler? No, I’m not kidding.

That is not something soon to be forgotten, so let’s get to making some memories.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.