Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Freedom to be who we are...

Kathy and I have enjoyed a loving and supportive relationship for almost 18 years. And, over those years, we have felt so respected and loved by our friends and family that, at times, we have forgotten the struggle so many others like us still face. We have let slip the horror of the violence and hatred faced every day by literally thousands of our brothers and sisters in cities around the world...some far too close to home.  On June 12, 2016, like so many others, we were jolted back to the ugly truth of what hatred and prejudice can spawn.  The killing of 49 gay men at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida and the injury of 53 others... by a lone gunman armed with an assault weapon, has clarified for any who may have doubted... the existence of hatred so vile... and the risks lived every day by members of the LGBT community.

I mentioned we have been blessed by the support of many wonderful friends.  With his permission I am about to share with you a letter written by one of them.  We believe, in his own words, this fellow has captured what so many have missed... and we feel certain his message will speak to many more souls than the couple he wrote it to.  I have changed the names in the letter, not necessarily to 'protect' them, for all have invited us to leave them as they were, but because (in this day and age) it feels like the right thing to do.

"Dearest Paul,

We talked by phone a couple of months ago to arrange a coffee together.  Life got in the way and we didn't meet.  But I wanted to apologize to you.

Several months ago, I watched a "Front Line" (I believe it was Frontline) documentary on the history of the "gay" movement in the US.  It was excellent and very thought provoking.  Its focus was on the late 1970's through the 1990's.  It prompted me to reflect on the time we have known each other and whether I was "sufficiently supportive" to you during those difficult times through the 1980's and 1990's. Honestly? I don't think I was. We...(me and my heterosexual male colleagues) did not understand the circumstances of what you and your community were going through: your struggle for your proper rights and place in the community, as well as the AIDS epidemic.  We sat in the background, chuckling at inappropriate jokes. While we never would have thought we were homophobic, in fact we were, by remaining silent.  While your friends were dying of a horrendous and painful disease, we went on with our own lives, without thought; complacent.

I find that my acceptance of the LGBT community has been a journey.  My point of view and opinions have evolved.  Wisdom perhaps?  In particular I have been both challenged and influenced by close friends such as yourself, Chris, Kathy and Carolyn, as well as some of Sue's quilting friends and workmates friends. You have shown me what is, and what is not, appropriate and for that I must thank you, because I believe you are "quiet heroes" to me as well as to the struggles in your community.

My first introduction to a gay man was a fine music teacher I had at West Vancouver High School.  He was an excellent teacher: kind, caring, nurturing to his students, and had a great sense of humour.  I'm sure he heard and was hurt by some of the comments and inappropriate jokes that were made behind his back, but he remained steadfast in his commitment to all of us.  Outside of the school activities he played oboe in my woodwind quintet I had formed. After I graduated, I heard that he was the subject of slander, but his fellow teachers came to his aid and he was exonerated.  Sadly he died of AIDS sometime during the mid 1980's.  I think of him often.

I had thought that the time of hate is past, but sadly the hate crime in Orlando, reminds us that the LGBT struggles are far from over.  Donald Trump would have us believe this is a Muslim Terror act but who is he kidding?  It was a blatant and hateful attack against gay men.  We all must continue to fight and shout down oppressive and hateful thoughts.

Love, as always! John "

Please take a moment to consider these deeply important words from an extraordinary man. His message speaks to us all.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sophie had a darn good run... (sad news)

Claydon Casts a Spell (officially), Sophie, Miss Sophie, and The Princess (to her friends and fans)... by whatever name you knew her... after many years of adventures near and far, our dear little Sophie left us on Friday night. 

As many of you know, she had suffered from numerous things over these past years, the most recent being re-occurring bouts of pancreatitis. This organ might be small, but the devastation it can cause is not.  What had been the beginnings of another bout, turned into a full-blown assault on her little body on Friday afternoon and, with little hope of recovery, a very tough decision was made in consultation with two of our wonderful veterinarian Doctors. 

This little dog did have​ a darn good run (14 years and 8 months), with lots of adventures, and many terrific beaches.  She accompanied us on journeys that even people might have balked at and certainly had more nautical miles under her collar than most sailors can boast. ​

​After sailing down the coast of North America, from Victoria to Mexico, she became adept at riding in kayaks and enjoying the wildlife of the Sea of Cortez; and she thoroughly enjoyed her beaches, Isla San Francisco being her pawns-down favourite.  A​s long as she was with us, she seemed content to tromp down every path, up every hill and across any patch of desert we should select. ​And, right to the last day, she did her best to keep up with us an​d to​ make us laugh with her crazy stabs at humor.  

She has been part of our life for a very long time and we will miss her very much.  But, as they say, she's in a better place now... no more pain, no more throwing up, no more discomfort.  Kathy always said the contract we make with our pets is that we'll make the tough decision when we know it's time.  

Friday, May 27, 2016,​ was her time... to move on with dignity after living a full and colorful life and after touching so many other lives along the way.

​Thank you for your continuing support of our adventures and our stories.  And, thank you for enjoying Miss Sophie's story as well.  Also, a special thanks to those of you who have, or will be, making a donation to your local SPCA in her memory.  

Carolyn & Kathy
SV Shannon's Spirit

Sunday, April 24, 2016

HOME... Safe and sound

Port Townsend... A very special place

What a beautiful place to stop!  Not only  are the RV sites right at the Port of Port Townsend marina, they have full services and a fantastic view out over the water. There's no privacy amongst the sites... we're basically parked side by side, but "oh my" it is sooooo good to smell the salt water air again, and to hear the cry of sea gulls... and to walk docks ogling all the beautiful boats.  We have a real soft spot in our hearts for the old traditional woodies.. and they're here... just like eye candy.

We spent an extra day here.  It felt pretty good to be surrounded by boats again... And sailors... And even a couple of friends we hadn't seen for a few years.

Saturday, April 23rd.    WE ARE HOME!

Oh yeah... Feels wonderful.  Up at 0400 and on the road by 0600 (it always takes longer when you have a dog to prep :-).  We had a nice drive to Port Angeles, an uneventful crossing on the MV Coho... And the best ever experience with Customs.  A really nice Customs officer welcomed us home and after a short but pleasant chat... We were on our way.

By 1500 hrs., we had hit Save-On for groceries, had lunch, pushed Lucy up the driveway into her home-based parking spot and were well and truly home.  Phew!

This has been yet another season with a multitude of experiences.  We are so very glad to be home, safe and sound, with all the creatures we left with in tact :-). And we are very much looking forward to seeing our friends.  This living two different lives can be wearing... and it takes a special kind of friendship to put up with us... dropping in and dropping out.  We are blessed and steeped in those special friendships.  Thank you ... you know who you are.

So, for now, we wish each and everyone of you... who have been so kind as to come along with us on our most recent adventures; we wish you all a wonderful spring and summer.  And, all things being in balance,  we'll be back when there's new adventures to report.  Adios for now.  CJ

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Another great campsite...

We feel so very fortunate to have been guided to such beautiful locations.  This one, Casey's Riverside RV Park, in Westfir, Oregon, is gorgeous.  No golf course, no pitch and put, just good old fashioned rugged, natural beauty.  The site we have chosen (Site #51) is just a few feet away from the middle fork of the Willamette River, and it looks out directly to where the north fork meets up with and joins the middle fork; a huge volume of river water, rushing past our doorstep.  The campsite is nicely set up with large, spacious sites.  Each site has a nice, flat cement pad and full services. There's even a swinging bench seat positioned for a perfect viewing of it all and we three enjoyed a moment or three there after we arrived. Oh, I should also mention a train runs along the other side of the river for just a little bit.  And, once you realize it, the sound of the horn is quite romantic (in a nostalgic kind of way).  This RV park is another we will be sure to return to. Thumbs up and a B+.

We have a full day today, starting with a three hour drive into Portland where we need to return the oars we had purchased for the first dinghy (1 of 3 that passed through our inventory this past winter).  Then we'll head back out onto the highway and, three hours after that, we should arrive at the Little Creek Casino and RV Park ( in Shelton, WA) where we will spend the night.

All is well with us.  Hope your day goes well.  Adios for now.  CJ

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On top of the world...

Or at least that's how it feels as we seem to be at eye level with the peaks of the mountains surrounding us. We're at the Likely Place Golf and RV Resort and it's really quite special.

The Golf course portion reminds me a combination of the Nakusp golf course back in the early '70's (that ran beside an old friend's father's pasture), the Ladysmith golf course, with all its ups and downs, and a Summerland golf course that has so many hills and gullies everyone has to use a golf cart just to get around. Course fees for 18 are $30 and that includes the golf cart :-).

The RV part is flat, spacious, clean and most sites have water and electricity. There are no trees or shrubs on the sites but that's OK cuz everywhere else you look is forested wilderness. It also has BBQ areas and special viewing sites for the night sky, reputed to have some of the darkest skies in the country and, therefore we assume, amazing stars. Unfortunately there was an almost full moon all night so poor star-gazing :-(

I forgot to mention the drive off the main highway is about 2 miles... So we're definitely 'out here'. Oh, and the brochure says you can rent a "villa". Not sure what they are but there are some nice looking, modern cabins on the periphery.

Did I mention it's beautiful here (maybe I' m just smitten with the evergreen surrounds... It's been a while). We walked the nature trail yesterday afternoon. It's 1 1/4 miles of winding trail through the surrounding forest and it has numbered posts every so often with a corresponding informative brochure. Miss Sophie enjoyed it as well. It was her first hike involving a combination of being on her own three feet and hitching a ride in her new puppy-holding backpack.

So, it's a new day and we'll be off again soon. We're heading to Oakridge, OR to a place called Casey's RV. It's on a river and apparently quite nice. We shall see.

PS. I've started making notes in the side-blog called Land Cruising camping sites. It will take a while to catch up all the past places, but at least the details re these new ones will be there.

Have a great day everyone..... CJ

Sent from my iPad

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cathedral City to Bishop, CA

You guessed it.... Back to Plan B :-). Couldn't resist... The winds were calming down and Hwy 395 was reputed to be far more scenic than Hwy I-5 (not hard to beat, but we figured worth a shot).

Up early, packed and raring to go, we headed out of the beautiful Outdoor Resort and began our journey home. Even though we've had wonderful explorations and many great connections with friends... It feels very much like it's time to go home. Funny... my mantra these past many months has been "home is where you lay your head at night" and, for the most part (for us) that has been true... But deep down we know in our hearts, our home awaits us in Maple Bay and we're really looking forward to being there. Heck, we haven't even finished unpacking from our move :-). So, home we go!

First day on the road... Started off a little jerky. First, there was recovering from the discovery of a golf ball 'divot' on Rikki's transom (that's a tail gate to you land lubbers :-). Seems someone sliced when they should have hooked (or vice versa) and managed to miss the neighbours rig and Lucy,,, but couldn't resist nailing poor Rikki. Then there was trying to find gas for less than $3.00 per gallon... That took a few miles. We did find it at Murango (on the way out of town) but, unfortunately their air hose let more air out of the tires than it put in. We stopped before the tire was completely flat and hobbled on down the highway to the next station that had a working air system. Phew! Finally, about an hour later than planned, we were able to mosey on up the highway, heading for the scenic 395.

It did not disappoint. Hwy 395 heads what feels like due north and it drives through areas of striking beauty. Imagine snow-capped Sierra Madre mountains with green slopes leading up to them on one side of the highway, and on the other side a much more rugged vista with red rock and sand leading up to very dry and rocky mountains... Quite a view.

During our drive we passed through a variety of landscapes including dry, flat desert, rolling hills, and finally forested ranch land. We arrived in Bishop, CA pretty much on schedule and before dinner time. Friends had raved about Eric Schat's Bakkery and we couldn't resist a visit. Two loaves of bread, two muffins and one turkey pot pie later (I knew I should have gone in with Kathy :-) we carried on to our intended over-night stop.

Browns Town Campsite has friendly staff and a folksy, cowboy kind of feeling when you arrive. Unfortunately it also has the largest collection of ant colonies we have ever seen. We tried three different sites before giving up. Way too many ants for us!! Then we tried the other RV Park in town but realized it was not looking for transients. And then we hit pay dirt!

The Bishop RV Park / Tri-County Fairgrounds are also still 'in town'; just a little further along. The RV Park is, at first glimpse, a flat, gravel parking lot. But, when you get closer you realize it is new, has full services at each site, and a new washroom and shower building. It just happens to be attached to the fairgrounds (empty this time of year) which is kind of cool. Cost: $30. Registration: by honor system envelope if no staff on duty.

We have had a very peaceful and quiet over-night with no ants or critters of any type. With a longish drive ahead of us today, we're up early and hope to be on the road by 7. Guess I better stop writing and start prepping :-)

Hope you all have a great day... Hasta Luego. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Friday, April 15, 2016

Deja Wind...

Remember the northerly winds in the Sea that nailed us and other cruisers to the docks? Remember that the Northers start in California?

Well.... They're here! And they blew hard all night! And, yet again, our travel plans must be adjusted because of wind. The weather forecasts are all calling for high winds to continue today and tomorrow. They are issuing warnings about driving on several highways, including the ones in our Plan A and B. Their High Wind Warning means a high wind event is occurring or expected with sustained winds of at least 40 and gusts to 58 MPH (we certainly experienced very strong winds overnight). The Coachella Valley Music Festival is on this weekend and festival goers are having to gear up with eye goggles and bandanas because of the blowing sand anticipated.

Sigh :-)

So, my friends... Unless the wind advisories change (and we shall monitor them closely) we must reside here for at least one more day and possibly two. Luckily the owner has already said we are welcome to stay longer if we wish. I guess we wish. And even though Lucy is small and Rikki is strong, they can still get blown about by high winds...and, like so many other times, it's the 'other guy' we worry about.

Guess there are lots of worse places to be stuck. Gotta go now... dig out the reading books and patio chairs... Hasta Luego ... CJ

Sent from my iPad