The Opposite of Houseboat


  • an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
  • daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.

Happy New Year everyone!  It has been far too long since I have posted on this blog, and it’s wonderful to be back.  As I look back on the past year, I have so much to be thankful for.  It’s been a year of over-the-top, grand, exciting travel and adventure.  And some surprising changes.

The biggest change is that this fall we said goodbye to Houseboat 28, and moved back onto solid land.  Our great adventure in living on Great Slave Lake has come to an end.  It has been one of the most amazing and remarkable experiences of a lifetime filled with incredible experiences, and it is with sadness that we leave that part of our life behind.  I haven’t written about it until now as it’s actually a little hard to tell you about it.  This blog started when we moved to Yellowknife, and along the way took on a bit of a life of its own, and was certainly a part of the whole adventure.  So it feels a little strange now.  What will it become next?

Regular readers will know about the highs and lows of our time on the houseboat.  It certainly meets the definition of adventureThere is really nothing ordinary about living on a floating home several hundred meters off shore, on a massive lake near the Arctic Circle.  I fear we will never have such intense experiences again.  And yet that is precisely why we decided to move – all that intensity.  Adventure in life is important – going on a journey into the unknown,  either real or metaphysical, is a way of feeling alive, of exploring ourselves and this amazing planet, of continuing to learn.  Yet, as a constant way of life, it’s also exhausting.  One needs to step out of adventure from time to time and into restfulness.  At least for a time.

We made the decision to move ashore, and somewhere along with that came the decision to move back to BC.  The Spaniard, mountain man that he is, has really been missing mountains, and the hiking and skiing that you can do in them.  I too was happy to move back to our great community of Nelson, but wasn’t ready to change my job.  I continue to enjoy the specialized sort of emergency medicine practice of the Canadian north, and wanted to keep my half time job.  So for the next year, we are trying out our plan of having our cake and eating it too.  We are hoping for the best of both worlds as we spend half our time in BC and half our time in Yellowknife.  We have settled into a simple condo in Nelson, and have rented a fabulous suite in Yellowknife – as it happens it’s on the edge of the lake, and right by Houseboat 28,  which we can see from our living room window. We are thrilled to have a place on the lake, and in this way remain connected to the part of Yellowknife that is so amazing – that big beautiful open bay, fascinating in both winter and summer.  Our rental suite feels like it was meant to be.  In the way that happens when the universe delivers to you something you desperately hope for, but in a way that is better than your imaginings. (I have fantasized about someday having a second home in an exotic location, but somehow I always thought it might be Spain, or Paris, not…Yellowknife.  What does that say about me anyway?)


View of Houseboat Bay from our new place – before sunrise in the fall.


Moving day.


Freighter canoe escort.  Love that boat.

So in September we loaded our entire household possessions onto a floating, mobile dock, and with the help of our houseboating friends, moved it all to shore.  That was in fact the easy part – the hard part was getting a moving van.   (The whole U-Haul scenario is a story for another day, but let me just say I am shocked by their business model.  Apparently in their dictionary, “guaranteed” means “unless we change our minds because we want to, and too bad for you.”  We had a couple of days of great stress, as at the last minute they cancelled our pre-arranged rental.  Twice.  We weren’t even sure on moving day if we would have something to move with.  We had to leave all our stuff sitting on the government wharf for hours, and  I thought for sure that big black rain cloud was going to say something.  Happily it did not rain, and we managed to get a van in the end.  Praise the moving gods.


You can see why I had trouble finding the U-Haul office – its in that sad sack shed!   It looks like a bomb went off on the inside.  Or perhaps some chickens lived there once.  Or perhaps they still do.


All our household possessions sitting on the dock…

The good news is that our wonderful friends were amazingly helpful, and had our stuff loaded on and off the floating dock in no time.  The incoming owners took the opportunity to get their stuff out to Houseboat 28 at the same time.


Kuzman ‘directing’ the rest of us on how to do it. 

Then there was the small matter of the mysterious rubber chicken, which we kept finding in strange places.  He actually came in handy in the end, as he worked quite well as a flag to mark the back of the canoe, on top of the jeep.  He might be the first rubber chicken in the history of the world to ride from Yellowknife to Nelson on a canoe.


View from our new place on the edge of Nelson.

So now we are settling into life in Nelson, and we marvel at how easy living in a warmer winter climate, in a condo, with unlimited electricity, can be.  It feels a bit dangerous actually – it would be pretty easy to get comfortable and stagnate in the good life.  Somehow I think we will be able to avoid this however – my 2016 resolution to stay home and take it easy started to feel a bit dull by about January 5th.  I don’t have too many exciting adventures planned for 2016, but I think I’ll manage to find some!  (I do have one great one planned – a 2 week whitewater canoe trip on the Mountain River, north of the Nahanni.  So excited about that one – I’ve been dreaming about it for years.)

And what does 2016 and beyond look like for this blog, The Song I Live By?  Well, it will be a different of blog, certainly, one without the crazy stories of life on Houseboat 28.   I never actually set out to chronicle our life on Houseboat 28 – my original intention was simply to write about the things that make life worth living, experiences large and small, both internal and external.  Somewhere along the way the fascination of life in the north took over and it became mostly about that – but there are many other interesting ways to live a life.  And so I hope the blog continues to have stories worth telling.  And that we continue to meet here!


About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
This entry was posted in Loves and Losses, North of 60, The Song I Live By, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Opposite of Houseboat

  1. Way to go Tandi. I will be watching .love Joan Hawkins. says:

    Best wishes on you new lifestyle and happy new year Tandi. Love Joan Hawkins

  2. Colleen Gander says:

    I’ve so enjoyed following your adventures and imagine those won’t stop even though you aren’t living in the houseboat any longer. I just visited YK at Christmas where my son lives and works from. At his age, he doesn’t understand I crave detail about his interesting life. Your way with a story has filled that need. Not realizing you were gone, I looked out from the government wharf and imagined again what your life was like. I hope you continue sharing your story.

  3. I love meeting you here and am 100% confident you’ll always have adventures to share with us! Hugs, K

  4. Welcome back Tandi, I will look forward to your new adventures much as I have with Houseboat 28.

  5. Happy new year in Nelson. Here’s to many more adventures ahead!

    Sent from my iPad


  6. shoreacres says:

    It’s wonderful to see you pop up again. I had to laugh about your comment about hot water. My life aboard a Catalina 31 here in Texas certainly didn’t rival your adventures, but I must admit that a desire for a bathtub and proper closets helped to move me off the boat.

    Here’s to a wonderful 2016. I’m looking forward to whatever tales you find to share with us.

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Linda. It’s so nice to hear from you! And here’s to closets and hot water, and all the best of the coming year. It’s really great to be on this journey with you. Happy new year to you!

  7. Nelson is such a great town. Will look forward to reading about your life there. If you run into Tim Pearkes, say hello…

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