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Doldrums Over- New Crew Member Arrived!

At 12:04pm on November the 20th,2009 Charley Bella McDowell was born! We thought for sure she was going to arrive early. Two weeks before her due date intermittent contractions started and we prepared for the ‘iminent’ arrival. That was a long two weeks! Hil’s due date came and went and our doctor scheduled Hil to be induced. Normally we would prefer to wait it out but as we fall in the ‘maternally advanced’ age bracket (old people at 39 having kids) we agreed.

Without getting into the nitty gritty, the birth went very well and lasted from start to finish about 4 hours. Our good friend and two time godmother, Anita, drove down from Atlanta to be with us for the birth as she did for Emma James. Her drive down took longer than the birth! A far cry from the 23.5 hours of back labor for Emma James only 25 months before.

We brought Charley Bella home today and Emma James took the introduction well. Everyone is doing great!

What Now?

We’re heading west for Arizona December the 18th(ish). With stops along the way to visit friends we will be in Tucson before Christmas. We plan on heading down to Mexico shortly after Christmas for a short visit of a week or a little more just to get the boat cleaned up and have a ‘working vacation’ on the water. Grandpa will likely join us lending an extra hand and teaching his new granddaughter how to make mud pies in the beautiful sandy beaches of San Carlos, Mexico.

What About Money?

As usual, the best laid plans of mice and men, we didn’t make ANYWHERE near enough money over the last few months to vacate on the boat in Mexico for a few months so we are planning on working a few festivals in Arizona during the winter months. I booked us into a BIG RV show in Quartzsite, Az from the 16th of Jan to the 30th of Jan. There will be 100,000 ore more people at this show. I hope to re-capitalize from this show and work another 6 shows thru April in Arizona traveling from the boat in San Carlos to Tucson in between. We have a couple 3 week gaps in between shows which will give some reward to the last 10 months of landlubber life despite it only being temporary and sporadic.

We did manage to make enough money to buy a 6×12 enclosed trailer which I’ve been using to haul all the mini-donut equipment around to shows and it will double as the moving trailer to Arizona. For the time being, I’ll be using my Dad’s motorhome and my trailer to work shows around Arizona while Hil and the babes stay with family in Tucson. Most of the shows are only a few days long and we can fit in doctor visits while we are in Tucson.

Then we start another journey across country to Virginia and Maryland for shows during the months of May and June.  New England states are next for July and August stopping back in Virginia in September as we head south and finally Georgia in October.  November we head back to Arizona to store the gear and with luck be on the boat before Thanksgiving 2010.  Our calendar is largely based on where the shows are abundant and where family is located.

How’s the Food Booth Business Going?

Looks promising.  That’s about all we can say right now.  We bought the mini donut machine which almost paid for itself in the 5 marginal shows I was able to get into at the last minute.  After a lot of talking and watching other vendors, I believe we need to add another two main food items to really capitalize on the shows.  With some research and a little luck, I scored an 80 quart stainless steel mixing bowl for a great price on ebay and we plan on building a kettle corn machine that will work for kettle corn, roasting nuts, boiling nuts, and whatever else I can think of that uses a big bowl and propane heat.

My Dad is here in Georgia helping with Emma and we plan on building a working prototype for the first show starting January 15th.  I’ll have a few months to work out the kinks.

We hope to do well this year and make some decent cash, but honestly it takes some time to find good shows and weed out poor performing ones.  I learn something new every show and one can start to develop a checklist for successful shows but when you’re just starting out you kinda fly blind.

The food booth business still is one of the best options for our lifestyle criteria.  After working the 60 hour plus work week and building a successful business before the utter financial chaos of 2007 left us starting all over again, we know what we don’t want to do- and that’s a pretty powerful motivator!  On our short list of lifestyle criteria was:

  1. To be able to spend quality time with my wife and (two now) children
  2. to ‘work to live’ not ‘live to work’
  3. to live on a sailboat
  4. to have a mobile lifestyle

So far the food booth business gives us the best return on our criteria.  There’s a familiar saying;

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In our case;

The better the plan, the more it will change.

Which is just fine with us.  We have come to a point where we are willing to let the path unfold before us.  Not with any disappointment or fear of the unknown, but truly from a point of wonderment and awe.  For those of you with children it is kind of the same experience.  You ‘think’ you know how raising children ‘should’ be and then there’s how raising children actually is.  If you give it a chance, one can begin to enjoy the experience as it unfolds.

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

13 comments to Doldrums Over- New Crew Member Arrived!

  • mk

    Congratulations McDowells! and welcome to CB. love mk

  • Damon

    Jerry + Fam,

    Congratulations! What a beautiful name for a little girl!

    All the best,


  • big cheese

    Thank You Damon.

  • big cheese

    Thanks MK!

  • Matt and Davina

    Congratulations!!!!So glad Charley made it into the world safe and sound. We are due to arrive in the Keys on Monday! Life is so crazy right now. So many details yet so little time. Funny how there are not enough hours in the day to pack up your whole life. Three palates in our basement are shrink wrapped and ready to travel. We will follow shortly thereafter in a car with three duffle bags. Crazy!! I’ll keep you posted once we get there. Give love to Hil and Emma! We are so happy for you guys!

  • BrokeNotBroken

    Congratulations! My oldest is turning 4 this Christmas and I am amazed at how quickly the time has flown. It was just yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital. Children truly are a blessing. All our best to you and your family.

  • big cheese

    Matt & Davina-

    Congratulations on your new life. I’m glad we had a chance to meet in Atlanta. I can almost guarantee that things will not work out as ‘planned’ but I do promise that no matter which way the wind blows it will be memories you wouldn’t want to trade for any amount of money!


  • big cheese

    David & family-

    It is amazing. To think my now big girl was born right as the economy was crumbling around us. Frankly, I don’t remember much about that time from the work but I do remember the time spent with Emma James. We could have chose to respond to change very differently but as broke as we are now- I don’t have any regrets. In my book, it has been time WELL spent!

  • Congratulations to all of you & welcome to the newest little member of our boating community!

  • big cheese

    Thanks! This year (and probably next year) we’re spending more time on land than we are on the water- but it’s not where our heart is…We’re just taking a little detour to the water:)

  • Nicola Neil

    Do you plan to keep this site updated? I sure hope so… its great!

  • Woo hoo! I adore kettle corn plenty I make the yummy stuff at conventions and craft shows. The secret I’ve discovered when making it in your own home is to STIR it while it’s popping as opposed to just shake it about, you will only burn it!

  • big cheese

    Hi Wicked Delicious!

    I bought your online book when thinking about working Kettle Corn. Good Info.

    We’ve since abandoned the Kettle Corn, not because it isn’t popular or profitable, but because the mini-donuts are unique and I can’t work both alone.

    Thanks for the comment.