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The race is on. The temperatures are supposed to drop tonight and plummet below zero for the next several days. We have several days before we must vacate what should be the last of our post-wildfire temporary housing opportunities. There are no doors. There is no heat. There is no water.

To recap where we are. Our house, along with 65 others and 30 structures, burned in a wildfire in Idaho in the summer of 2012. We started rebuilding but ran into problem after problem which culminated in me being sick most of the year and my spouse losing his job. We decided retirement was just right. We stopped rebuilding our house in Idaho, sold the foundation and moved to Montana. We purchased land here and are building a house. The house here is much more expensive than the house in Idaho was so our household personal property money is going largely into the house. Originally we expected to be in the house by Christmas. Then the handwriting was on the wall. It was going to be a long time after Christmas before the house was finished. Since the fire 19 months ago we have had multiple opportunities for “temporary housing” that ranged from motels (twice in two different states), a rental ski condo, family member’s houses, and a monstrous, 6000 square foot frozen in time house from the 1974 that included the original green shag carpet. As time without our house drags on it is increasingly difficult to find month-to-month housing even for a “retired academic couple with a dog.” We hit the jackpot on that once through Craig’s list landing us in the condo where we are now but it was unlikely to happen again. We needed to be back in our space.

I talked with our contractor and we agreed that we could work toward what he called “habitable space” where we could live while the house was being finished. I went over our plans and saw that by shifting a closet and cutting a semi-large bathroom into a modest bathroom and a tiny kitchen we could have a whole apartment in the back of the basement.I put the design together from the scraps of space I could find from the dreamed of mud-room entry from the garage to the pump room to both of our work spaces. The shape is odd. Framing was in place and I did not want to move it.

When I sat back and saw that it could be done, and that the end result was actually pretty cool. As long as you did not mind losing your dreamed of mud room, or my spouses or my workrooms, it was perfect. I quipped to my spouse, “Look it is about the same size as a cruise ship cabin.” The Cruise Ship was born.

The Cruise Ship should embark in the next few days. Dry wall Wednesday last week, paint this weekend, flooring today and tiling tomorrow. Plumbing on Thursday or Friday. The electricians are working feverishly trying to make sure there is enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing. The HVAC system which does not yet exist, is separate from the Cruise Ship climate control. The Cruise Ship and pump room have independent heating sources.

And we have no garage doors. Under a lot of circumstances, this would not be a problem. Under our circumstance, it is a big problem. The Cruise Ship is in the basement which is a drive-under garage. There is nothing between the Cruise Ship kitchen and the great outdoors. When we get doors we know the light in the basement apartment will decrease and we will miss that. However, in February in Montana there is not that much light anyway so doors would be nice.

Standing at the door of the Cruise Ship looking out the missing garage doors.
looking out a garage under construction with white subaru in snow with mountains behind

Standing at the door of the Cruise Ship looking out the missing garage doors.

In days there will be the embarkation of our Cruise Ship. Our house was burned by fire and we are moving into a basement apartment known as a ship. I won’t interpret what it means to go from fire to water since I think it was purely by accident that my cruise ship quip stuck. In fact, we could even qualify as a very strange sort of Noah’s Ark.

Since we spent so much of our money on the house we are using a planful “let’s wing it” model for furnishings in the main part of the house. The Cruise Ship was totally unplanned and added to the construction costs of the house so everything there is unplanned and budget-worrisome. What we have for the “house” is all too large to fit into the 390 square feet of the Cruise Ship so we need new furniture, bedding, and lighting.

As I have worked on furnishing the Cruise Ship I realized I have been getting things ready in pairs. We have a pair of chairs, a pair of bedside table/chest of drawers, a pair of wall lamps, a pair of side tables and so on and so on. Standing in the garage looking out the large square missing doors looked like the Bible story pictures that showed Noah’s ark having a rectangular plank. In my mind’s eye I saw all of our furnishings marching two by two into our Cruise Ship.

We shall endeavor to be worthy of the challenge of taking on Noah’s Ark Cruise Ship. With the doors, heat and water coming this week, it promises to be a very important part of our voyage.  Best of all it is one more temporary housing situation that comes with terms we can be confident with. The waters will receded and the sun will shine and we will be home again.