The Plan

Kyle and I like to make plans/dreams and be pretty specific with them. We feel it is a great form of manifesting and has always worked for us in the past. That being said, we make these plans with intentions to follow them, but also to be open to any changes/opportunities we feel suited for us along the way. With that, I will share our “two+ year plan” below.

When we leave in October we will head South towards the Florida Keys. We will then head back up towards Ft. Lauderdale before making our crossing to the Bahamas at the end of November. Arriving in the Bahamas we will explore the Abacos for a few weeks before we head to Nassau where we will meet my parents to celebrate Christmas 2019 together. After Christmas I will be getting off the boat for 1 month and heading to Paradise Island, which is connected to Nassau by a bridge. There I will be living and completing an intensive 30 day Yoga Teacher Training Course (200hr. RYS). Kyle might join me for a week and take a week long course at the center, or he will sail the surrounding islands for a month either single handed or with a friend/s that fly in for a couple weeks to join him.

When the course is over we will leave the Nassau area and head South. Our plans are pretty open for the months of February, March, and April of 2020. We plan to explore the Exumas, the endless uninhabited Bahamian islands, and then will make it to the Turks and Caicos to hopefully meet up with some more friends and family. By the middle of May we will end up in a small bay in the Dominican Republic called Luperon. Here we have arranged to keep the boat for 6 months during hurricane season (June-November). We will be paying a marina to keep an eye on her while we are gone and just have to hope and pray no major hurricanes come through 😉 Fortunately Luperon is rather protected from major storms, and the marina has 24hr security and is set up to keep boats during hurricane season as it is common for cruisers to leave their boats for 6 months in the off season. There is always going to be risk in leaving the boat and we understand those risks. But with proper planning and execution the risks become minimal and well worth the freedom to explore elsewhere during hurricane season.

That brings us to May of 2020 when we will fly from the D.R. to Peru. I have always wanted to backpack the Cordillera Blanca in Peru and Kyle has always wanted to ride motorcycles in South America- so why not combine the two! We plan to purchase used motorcycles when we arrive in Peru and explore the country that way- riding motorcycles and taking breaks to go backpacking. We will each have our own motorcycle as I do not like being the passenger 🙂  I am sure you can imagine endless hours of research has gone into this trip, as well as talking to friends we have in Peru and we are both extremely excited to visit South America in this way. We have spent a lot of hours researching all the gear and are almost done purchasing our head to toe riding gear.

After Peru (around September of 2020) we will fly back to the United States for a couple months and begin working on the property in Virginia. Which I guess now is the time to introduce the property in Virginia 😉 Last year my parents purchased 15 acres of land in a small town of Virginia just outside of Bristol, TN/VA. While a bit hilly, the property is pretty awesome. There is a big creek that runs right through the front of the property, it is tucked away far from the road, is surrounded by mountains, and is located in a spot that is very secluded yet only 25 minutes to a big city. Also there is a place just down the road that has traditional live bluegrass music every Saturday night.. which Kyle and I are thrilled about. Anyway, the deal is that Kyle and I spend the hurricane seasons developing the property and putting up the buildings, in return we will own half of the property. My parents are building a small round cabin/ house (sort of like a yurt but not a tent- has hard sides and is much more house like- see: https://www.smilingwoodsyurts.com/). There will also be a really cool shop made with a converted shipping container, a wrap around porch on the house, a fenced in area for the dogs, and a view of the creek and mountains. This part of the project will take about 4 years of 6 months at a time development. Kyle and I have plans for our own homestead on the other half of the property. The property is set up in a way that we can have our own area without being able to see my parents’ dwelling. It will be like being neighbors but still having the privacy of living in the woods surrounded by trees 🙂 Kyle and I aren’t quite sure what kind of dwelling we want, so for the first while we are going to build something like this:

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This is not my photo – just one I found: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/536913586803701366/

Which I honestly am SO excited about. I have always wanted to live in the mountains in a little wall tent. There is a lot more to this project in terms of permits, planning, zoning, rules, land development, etc but I will save all of that for when it is actually happening. So basically Kyle and I will sail for 6 months of the year and then live in Virginia exploring and developing land for 6 months during hurricane seasons. We are thrilled about this idea because we have always said we wanted to do 6 months on the boat and 6 months in the mountains- and now 6 years later we are making that a reality!

Alright, well this has been quite the update, and now I feel I can start using this blog as I did on the river. More of sharing the journey along the way rather than a catch-up and update. I won’t be posting as much as I did on the river, but am going to make a goal of posting 2 times a month until we leave. Once we leave in October sometimes I will post more and sometimes I will post less depending on internet connection and availability.

Kyle and I have had a dream board since the first few months of our dating 6 years ago. For a while it was full of graduation stuff and buying a new boat. Then once those things happened it was about getting out of debt and building a boat to take down the Mississippi River. Then that happened and it was about making enough money to refit Sirocco. Now that has happened and our dream board is filled with pictures of far away places and adventures we can’t wait to have. I am sharing a picture of our dream board because Kyle and I both believe whole-heartedly that this board and other forms of manifesting are a big part of how we are able to live the life we do. I encourage each and every person to have a dream board. Put it somewhere you look at it every day and don’t think any dreams are too big or too far-fetched. (Do you know how insane I thought it was that we would ever be able to build a boat and actually take it on the river?? We put that on the board TWO years before we even started building the boat!) I also am sharing a map of our tentative plans in case anyone wants to come meet/join us for any of our adventures. We would love to meet up with anyone who wants to (even if we’ve never met!) and this gives an idea of where/when we will be different places! Anyway, onward and upward.

Danielle

 

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Meet Sirocco!

Some of you may know that Kyle and I own a 35ft. Ben Bow Cutter sailboat. We purchased her in the summer of 2014 and sailed her from Urbana, Virginia down to St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a unique boat with an even more unique story behind her! The story is worth sharing, but it is a long one so I will save that for another post on its own.

Our boat’s name is Sirocco which was given to her by the couple that built her in the late 70’s (who happen to live in Sarasota, FL and we met by complete coincidence, but that’s another story). She is a professionally home built William Atkin design (his personal cruising boat) and as far as we know, the only one ever made in fiberglass. She is a heavy displacement full keel design derived from the infamous “Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters”. Sirocco’s heavy weight means she is not fast in her maneuvers and will not point/sail into the wind like any of the modern boats do. But in cruising you spend the majority of your time at anchor and when at sea, you try very hard not to sail into the wind. The idea is to use nature to your advantage. Our priorities are safety and comfort, with a little affordability sprinkled on top.

Sirocco Facts: she carries 25 gallons of fuel (worth 50+ hours/300nm+ of motoring), 80 gallons of fresh water, displaces 8.5 tons, has 13 points of ventilation in the cabin (tropics!), and will have 5 fans.

Meet pre-refit Sirocco:

 

But as I mentioned, she was finished in 1981 which makes her almost 40 years old. She has been very well cared for and loved by her previous owners and Kyle and I have enjoyed thousands of sailing miles with her ourselves. But now that we have big plans with her, it is time for a refit, which is what we are doing full time right now. It is a major project, and we are about half-way done! Here are some of the major projects we are doing on the boat as well as pictures from the refit thus far:

-Custom made cockpit benches

-New deck paint

-New sails

-New standing rigging

-New chainplates

-Engine pull and makeover

-Deep clean and paint of every crevice of the boat (lockers, bilges, etc)

-Removal of tradition head system and replaced with composting head (toilet is called a head on boats)

-Faring of all thru hulls and hull rudder joint

-New wind vane

-Top side paint

-Copper bottom paint

-Some new additions down below- shelving, storage, colorful paint, etc

-Repairs of oven and new sink and pumps in galley

-Modernizing of wiring through the entire boat to ABYC standards

-Additional water tanks and fuel storage

-Repair of all hatches

-An overall makeover in every area of the boat to make her custom to our wants/needs as well as look like new 🙂

A random array of photos from the refit over the past couple months. In the last photos we have removed her bow sprit for repair and are getting ready to paint the deck next weekend: 

 

 

We will be finished with the refit by August of this year. And in October of this year, we will be sailing away, but this time our travel adventures are going to last a lot longer. For the last two years we have both been working extreme hours whether at a job to make money, or on the boat to fix her up. We have the next few years tentatively planned out and from a financial stand point should be able to sustain our travels for 2 + years without having to work. We both plan to work along the way- me writing and Kyle doing online design projects and finding boat/repair work- but we are finding some real freedom in the idea that we have saved up enough money to live comfortably while traveling for 2 years. Working 80+ hours a week has been insane, and definitely not sustainable long term, but when we cast off in October I know every minute will have been worth it 🙂

Stay tuned for my next post which covers our tentative upcoming plans in detail. After that post I will be caught up, and will get back on track with posting somewhat regular updates of the progress of Sirocco’s refit.

-D

An Update: Graduation, Scuba, Motorcycles, Family, and a New Adventure

Hello all! It has been quite some time since I have updated this blog, but as our next adventure is getting nearer, I decided it was time to do a little update! A lot has happened since we returned to St. Petersburg in July of 2017, but I will do a random little recap 🙂

In August of 2017 (a month after we returned from our teardrop adventure) Kyle started school to get a two year degree in Computer-Aided Design and Drafting.. and just a few months ago, he graduated!! He now has two degrees: a certificate in Computer-Aided Design and Drafting as well as one in Rapid Prototyping and Design. He also has a Solidworks Professional Certificate which is the program he will be utilizing the most. The motivation behind Kyle getting all these certificates is to find contractual design work along our traveling way and to deepen his understanding of Solidworks in order to be more versatile in its use. So if any cruisers need a custom part designed: we are your people!

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As for education for me, I have been taking Spanish lessons once a week for 2 hours for the past year. I also have met some friends overseas that I Skype with and talk with almost daily in order to practice my conversational skills. I chose to take the formal method in learning Spanish and started pretty much from square one. It has a been very difficult to learn a new language, but I would now consider myself nearing the intermediate stage and can hold a basic conversations in Spanish as long as the person is speaking SLOW!  I absolutely love learning the language, but know that it will be many many years before I am anywhere near fluent.

For 2018 New Years, Kyle and I flew to Guatemala to visit my family. My uncle (my mom’s brother) has a house there and my cousin operates a restaurant in a tiny village called Jaibalito on Lake Atitlan. We flew into Guatemala City, took a 4 hour van ride to Santa Cruz la Laguna, and then took a small boat to the village. The village is only accessible by boat, which Kyle and I both very much enjoyed. The restaurant my cousin operates is right below the house, and is called Club Ven Aca. Our time there was quite incredible- we went on a range of adventures and really enjoyed time with friends and family celebrating the New Year and my cousin’s 40th birthday party.

 

Shortly after Guatemala we listed the teardrop for sale. We spruced her up a bit and painted her in order to better protect the wood. Varnish is not waterproof. It was sad to see her go, but as our focus had shifted to our upcoming adventure, it was time to find her a new home. Sunny sold rather quickly and her new owner was very excited to have her.

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Within two weeks of returning back to Florida, we both had jobs and were working on building back up our savings as it was completely depleted after the Mississippi River, Caribbean, and Sunny road trip adventures. I went back to working as a personal assistant for a bit, but decided I wanted to go back to working with kids and focusing on my writing. For the last year and a half I have had 3-4 different part time jobs at a time- staying quite busy and making as much money as possible. I nanny for a couple different families (one overnight gig!), I teach English online to children in China, I help out my friends’ company with invoicing, and I have written quite a few articles. I wrote one main article once returning back from our Mississippi River trip which was featured both online and in print for Small Boats Monthly. I have also written 5+ different gear review articles for Small Boats Monthly online publication. Check out one of my articles here: https://smallboatsmonthly.com/article/7149/

Kyle has been working for the same company since we returned – Gulf And Bay Divers (https://www.gulfandbaydivers.com/). Our very good friends own a dive company and do boat hull cleaning, dock and pylon repair and dock building. Kyle is the warehouse manager and is in charge of all the ordering, maintenance of machines, etc. He recently cut back his hours and now only works one day a week and otherwise is working full time to get us ready for our next adventure.

Last year it was also time to say our goodbyes to SOLVI. She treated us so well and was such an incredible home for our time on the river, but it was time for her to move on to a new home where she would be used and loved. It was a long process of fixing her up (remember our ship wreck) and getting her ready to sell, and then another process to find a good home. Thankfully, in the end it couldn’t have worked out better. She was purchased by a guy who lives in Boise, Idaho. Kyle fit her in the back of a budget truck and drove her all the way to Salt Lake City where he met the new owner. The most exciting thing about her sale is that her adventures aren’t over! She will be participating in the R2AK race- an intense race from Washington state to Alaska.. for more information and to find her profile check out this link:  https://r2ak.com/    Kyle and I can’t wait to see how she does and we are super excited that we get to follow her along another adventure. Go team SOLVEIG!

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Spruced up for sale!
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Our last sail on SOLVI

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During the last half of 2017 and all of 2018 we made an effort to visit friends and family as much as possible. Our next journey will take us out of North America for quite some time, so we wanted to really focus on spending quality time with the people closest to us. This has led us to travel to Delaware, Salt Lake City, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and different parts of Florida. My parents also have rescued two new dogs since we returned so I have been really enjoying spending free time with their now three dogs and going on walks and playing outside.

And of course, we made sure to have as much fun as is possible even when each working 80+ hours a week. We took advantage of our time on land and both got scuba certified and I got my motorcycle license! Kyle has always loved motorcycles, and I wasn’t quite sure, but I gave it a go and passed my test and now we both have our own motorcycles and try to go on rides when we have the free time. Kyle commutes every day to work on his motorcycle, but I only ride mine for pleasure. I am still pretty cautious and will only ride in certain conditions. We wear full gear from head to toe, so riding in the Florida summer can be pretty brutally hot, but the breeze from the ocean always helps so during the summers we try to ride near the beach. We went on one motorcycle trip to a state forest a few hours North of us, and it was quite the adventure filled with flooded back roads, torrential down pours, ran out fuel, and then had a flooded fuel system 😉 but it brought us to an amazing forest and we greatly enjoyed the quiet and greenery of our campsite.

Kyle also taught me how to change the oil in my car, so I have very much been enjoying the ability to complete that task on my own. During the time we have been back in Florida, we have focused a lot of our attention on self-reliance, becoming financially independent, and sustainability. I also have put a lot more focus on cooking and learning a broader range of vegetarian meals. It seems 2018 was the year of acquiring new skills and mastering the ones we have!

 

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I hope you enjoyed the array of random photos from over the past almost 2 years! Also read about our newest adventure in my next post 🙂

Cheers!

Danielle

Zion, Utah … A bit late!

8/5/2017 

Growing up as a child in Salt Lake City, my parents would take me to places like Moab, Canyonlands, and Zion what seems like every summer. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of these hiking and camping trips we would take, and I’ve always felt very grateful to have had such opportunities. One place in particular that always stood out in my mind was the vastness of Zion National Park. For some reason my heart held on to the feelings I got when we would pull off on the side of the canyon and walk over to the edge, looking out to what seemed to be a completely endless horizon of canyons and mountains. It was this memory that made me pick Zion to show Kyle, as we only had time for one of these amazing places in Utah.  

As a kid I remember just showing up in Zion, walking the cute little streets of Springdale, and then driving up the canyon to hike, site see, and camp. Easy. Well, things are much easier when you’re the kid and don’t have to pay attention to much, and also things and places change with time. Kyle and I drove to our campsite just outside of Zion National Park; a beautiful sandy open spot right down by a creek, free because it was BLM land. We were both excited about our spot as it was shady and had awesome views and a few short hiking/horse trails across the creek. After dropping of Sunny we headed towards the Zion Visitor Center to pick up our backpacking permits for the following day. As we made our way up the road towards the visitor center I began to notice a lot of things I didn’t remember from before. Major development, all sorts of gated communities and what I call “tiny boxes on the hillside”, and the amount of cars and people blew my mind. We got lucky and found a parking spot near the visitor center, but it was pure chaos. Plus I found out from reading some signs that you are no longer allowed to drive through the park in your own car. Unless you have reservations at the lodge or campground, no cars are allowed through the park- only the free shuttle that runs every few minutes. I guess it’s a good thing because based on the amount of people waiting in line for the shuttle, I can’t imagine the road would even be passable if all those people were in cars. Anyway, we got our permit no trouble, and I spent some time talking with the guy at the wilderness desk about the crowds. He said in the last 5 years that the place has just become so insane they don’t know what to do. He also mentioned that in the next few years things are going to change dramatically and that you might need a reservation to even be allowed in the town out side of Zion. There are just too many people trying to come.

I was feeling super overwhelmed by all the people and trying to navigate the car through town. It saddened me a bit because the simplicity I remember as a child was completely gone and tourism had completely taken over. I totally understand why, it is one of the most amazing places on earth, but being from the area I was feeling a bit bummed. We quickly left the chaos and headed back to our calm and quiet campground for the night, both of us hoping that since we were doing a bit of an arduous overnight backpack the following day, we might lose the crowds.

The following morning we awoke to my alarm at 5am. We quickly got some food, made coffee in our french press, and locked up Sunny. We headed towards a company where we had paid to reserve a shuttle to take us to the trail head, and then we would hike the 14 miles back down the canyon and take the free shuttle to the car. Sunny would stay put for the night with a friendly campground neighbor watching after her. Our shuttle up to the trail head took about 45 minutes and due to the early hour was just Kyle and I. Our shuttle driver was super friendly and we all got along really well and even exchanged cards since she is a fellow vagabonder and will be heading towards Florida in the next year. We said our goodbyes and headed off on West Rim Trail, knowing we had the entire day to do 9 miles, we chose a leisurely pace. And fortunately our hopes of losing the crowd by doing a backpacking trip came true as the following 36 hours are some of the most amazing and enjoyable hours I have ever had backpacking!

West Rim Trail: Lava Point to Grotto Picnic Area

7:40am- Hopping out of our shuttle van we grabbed our backpacks; gravel crunched under our shoes as we walked across the parking area towards the trailhead. Double checking our map with the sign, we continued down the trail. Being that we had driven 45 minutes up the mountain, we found ourselves on top of a ridge with vast 360 views. The crisp morning air had me alternating between sweater on and off, until finally I decided to hike faster so I wouldn’t get cold. We had 10 miles to go that day, and had the whole day to to do it, so we took our time, stopping a lot of enjoy the view, eat snacks, and look at all the wildflowers. Shortly after beginning the hike we descended into a meadow covered in tall grass and various wildflowers- I am slightly obsessed with wildflowers, so I was skipping and giddy about where we were.  

12pm-Having descended into the meadow, we eventually had to head back up to the rim. The hike was tough but in a good way. Sweating under the Utah summer sun, we dug our trekking poles into the dry ground below us to aid us up the mountain. Arriving on the top of a ridge, we found a spot in the shade and enjoyed fresh veggie sandwiches for lunch. The views continued to get better and the temperature continued to get hotter!  

2pm- The sun really started to beat down on us as we made our last half mile to our campsite. After descending another mountain, we found ourselves arriving at campsite 1 & 2, as well as the natural spring to resupply on water. Two other backpackers were sitting under a large tree in the shade, overlooking endless red rock, mountains, and canyons below- meditating quietly on their yoga matts they pointed us in the direction of the spring.  

4pm- The thunder head we had been watching all afternoon started moving in, bringing booming thunder and dark skies. Thankfully the clouds lessened the affect of the sun, allowing us to come out from under our sun shade we had assembled with our ground tarp and trekking poles. It was pretty magnificent- there we were, just the two of us in a secluded campsite, our tent, food, and water with a spectacular view and a thunder storm rolling in. 

8am- It continued to rain the entire evening and into the night. We played games and read our books in the tent, before passing out rather early- exhausted from 10 miles in the desert heat.  

11am- The hike down from the ridge was by far the most amazing hike I have ever done. I have over 2,000 miles of hiking behind me and the 3 miles we hiked to get from our campsite to the base of the trail was seriously the best hiking/backpacking I have ever done. Kyle concurred. I wish that photos could show how amazing it was, but they don’t and my camera died so I only was able to take a couple shots. Oh well. Plus- we only saw 3 people the entire time until the last mile! Anyway, if you ever get the chance in your life to backpack the West Rim Trail, please do so- it was amazing. Enjoy the photos! Cheers. -D  

P.S. I am behind on updating this blog. But we have made it back to Florida and had an awesome road trip home. Soon I’ll post an update about that journey and share what we are up to now. 

Utah: Visiting my home and friends 

8/1/2017

Fifteen days ago we drove away from Wisconsin, waving our goodbyes to Kyle’s mom Patti, while towing Sunny, our teardrop behind us. Since then we have had quite a few adventures. I took a little break from my Ipad and documenting our trip, but am feeling refreshed so will post a few updates while our travels continue. For now I’ll let loads of photos share our adventures 🙂
**I wanted to mention that during our road trip from Wisconsin to Florida via Utah and Colorado we are using campsites found on a website called: http://www.freecampsites.net Every campsite we will stay at with the car and teardrop will be from this website and will be free. The website uses our public lands to map free campsites throughout the United States. It’s a pretty great resource and we are really enjoying using it.**

After leaving Wisconsin we headed to South Dakota where we stayed at a campsite in Badlands National Park. We also visited one of Kyle’s good friends who lives in Custer, South Dakota. From Custer we spent one night in Wyoming on our way to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Above photos: Badlands National Park and Sage Creek Campground, South Dakota

Above photos: Custer, South Dakota and random free camping in parking lot middle of Wyoming

Once in Salt Lake we stayed at my good friends Anna and Montana’s house. These two are the ones who got married, which is why we drove to Salt Lake in the first place. For our few days we stayed with Anna and Montana and did lots of hiking and exploring the city. Growing up in Salt Lake and the surrounding mountains I was really excited to show Kyle all my favorite places and for him to meet my friends.

Eventually we moved to my best friend Kiley’s apartment and stayed there for a week. Kiley, Kyle, and I went down the Weber River in inner tubes which was a lot of fun. I took Kyle hiking to one of my favorite lakes with my friend Brooke. We went backpacking for a night up Big Cottonwood Canyon, went out to dinner and some bars in downtown Salt Lake, and enjoyed meals with some of my other friends.

Above photos: Desolation Trail, Millcreek – overlooking Salt Lake City

Above photos: Lake Blanche, Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT. One of my favorite hikes with my childhood best friend Brooke  Continue reading “Utah: Visiting my home and friends “

Meet Sunny- our land yacht 

After 3 weeks and about 350 combined hours, we finished the teardrop! She is wonderful and we have been enjoying her greatly. Huge shout out to Patti and Rick as it could not have been done without them. 


Teardrop Progress 

7/15/2017 

The teardrop is coming along quite well! As seems to be the case with most the projects Kyle and I take on, it has taken longer than anticipated and become much more work than we thought, but it is totally worth it. Kyle has been working on it full time for the past two weeks, I have been working on it part time as I’m also working to fund our trip home, and Patti and Rick have both been working part time on it as well. So within the last two weeks A LOT of hours have been put in between the 4 of us- and the results have been very rewarding.  

 It has been a lot of fun to work on this teardrop because it has become a total team project. The 4 of us, plus Kyle’s sister from time to time, have really worked together to get all the little pieces put together. And we have had an awesome time together doing it. Below are the photos of the progress as of a few days ago. We are finishing up the entire thing today! More photos to come :)Styrofoam used as insulation for heat, cold, and noise. Rick, Patti, and Riley get credit for the awful job of cutting and fitting insulationWe just had installed the outside panel and needed to weight it down. We ran around like crazy grabbing anything heavy in the garage haha. Side panel installed! Sanding and varnish partyKyle has never made cabinets before, and he made these from scratch. The outside wood is over 100 years old and was given to us by Patti and Rick. The look amazing all finished with varnish and handles. Installing the roof panel. Lots of ratchet straps to help bend the wood. Painted and installed trailer fenders Kyle did an amazing job on installing the windows. Thanks Rick for picking them out! So shiny Rick, Brody, and Beau cutting carpet. The carpet make its feel so homey. Thanks Patti and RickInstalled the cabinet tops- using weights as clamps