Monday, October 29, 2012

Oct 29 - Shannon reunion in La Paz

The good ship Shannon, still standing and soon to be
ready to roll
We had a good day today... were very happy to discover that Shannon faired well over the hurricane season... and, as far as we can tell (and our biggest fear) there do not appear to be any cockroaches on board.. altho' we've heard from others that the 'roaches are virulent this year because of all the rain.  Anyway, today in 90+ degrees, we managed to get all the tinfoil, cloth and duct tape off of all the things we wrapped up on the deck... and, we got the kayak out of the cabin so we could check the batteries... and, we re-installed the framework for the dodger... and, the batteries were fine.... and the radio works, and we uncovered the solar panels and they're still working....  AND on the advice of Lionel and Barb (yes I do listen to advice now and then . we have hired Mauricio to scrape, sand, tape and paint (2 coats) Shannon's bottom.  He's going to do the whole thing for $200 (and that covers his labour and his tip... I brought the materials) and he's going to have it done in time for us going into the water on Nov. 1st.  By then I have to have the engine ready to go (which means changing out the rubber impeller and V belts - the heat really  fries them.. and I'll change the oil once I'm back in the water)..

Mauricio to our rescue 
Our Canadian ensign, still flying after all that wind
So, things with Shannon are coming along pretty much as they should.  Did I mention it was hot down here?? Yikes !..  Good old Sophie just keeps on trucking tho'.  We stopped off at a beach bar for a cold beer on the way back from the boat and she was so happy, she dug herself a hole in the sand to lie in and just looked out to sea with the breeze in her ears... happy as a clam.  I think, after all is said in done, she doesn't mind Mexico.

A nice beach view for a cool cervesa at Stella’s  
We caught up with Lionel and Barb last night (we sailed with Lionel on SV Sea Whisper in the Med in 2007) and are having dinner with them tonight.  They leave tomorrow morning for a year and a half....  heading south into the South Pacific and places like that....  so it'll be sad to see them go, but we're happy they'll be following their dream.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oct 28 – La Paz, right on schedule


We told the B&B guy we’d arrive sometime around mid-afternoon.  We were here at 3:15 PM.  How close is that?? Our drive from Loreto was pleasant and we’ve arrived all anxious to see our dear Shannon…  But, we’ve decided to wait until tomorrow to find out how well our ‘ministrations’ protected our little ship from marauding pests and mother nature’s fury. In the mean time we’ll tend to domestic things… like perhaps finding a slightly nicer place to stay… we’re not too impressed with our selection of domiciles and will be looking first thing tomorrow for something a little more kindly. We miss our ‘digs’ in Loreto already and look forward to spending more time there next April. But for now, we’re off to seek some repast… which we should find within a few blocks… Marina de La Paz cafe comes to mind…  Will report in tomorrow about how Shannon fared… until then… hoping you are all well….  CJ and Kathy (and Sophie)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oct 26 – Safe and sound in Loreto

Two more days on the road… We didn’t check in yesterday as timing and connectivity got in the way, but we did manage to meet our goal of arriving in St. Ignacio in time for a cold beer and dinner.  The drive was long but the roads were quite good.  In fact the highways have been much improved since our journey six months ago and, while the kilometres ticked by, we filled the time with word games, driving music, laughter, sight-seeing and taking photos out an open window in a speeding truck….  Oh yeah, we’re also watching out for the many large (huge) trucks filling the road and driving over twice the speed limit (seems that’s about the norm for the locals… we’re about half way there… speeding that is – to do the speed limit would be certain folly as we’d get in the way of everyone. During yesterdays trek we also passed from the northern half of the Baja into the southern portion.  We crossed a checkpoint and, although I’m much more relaxed at checkpoints… now that I’m less afraid of getting arrested for not understanding the language and/or having to unpack the entire truck while soldiers search for whatever contraband they might find… I did make one little error at this particular checkpoint.  You see it was a checkpoint where they were inspecting for fruits and vegetables and after assuring the guard we had none, I heard him mutter something quickly but only caught part of it….  I so wish I’d been listening more carefully (but I wasn’t because I don’t speak Spanish)… if I had, I’d have heard him say in perfectly fine English….”close your window”  AND… if I’d heard him say those three little words in perfect English… I’d have closed my window instead of driving over the insecticide spray belt with my window wide open and my mouth open too as I was speaking to Kathy….  oops !!!  No flies on me !!
Today’s drive went well.  We left St. Ignacio quite early and drove an almost perfect highway (brand new with brand new bridges too) all the way to Loreto.  We stopped at El Burro (a beach in Bahia Conception) to say hi to Geary (one of the weather forecasters in the area) but he wasn’t home so we left a message and carried on. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that, as a result of Hurricane Paul, and the torrential rainfalls that hit this whole area over the past couple of weeks, there have been many significant washouts of both the highways (at the many arroyos that cross the road) and local homes and villages in the path of the walls of water hammering down to the sea.  We’ve heard of several folks who lost their entire home and belongings and we’ve seen first hand the devastation left after the water has passed. BUT, we’ve also seen the green….  oh the green of the desert is beautiful.  We’re told that the last few years have actually been droughts and the green is normal (particularly around Loreto). But to see the green grasses, shrubs and plants as well as the flowering cacti everywhere… well, it’s pretty darn gorgeous.
Anyway, we’re here now in Loreto at the wonderful El Tiburon Casitas.  This time we were met by Liz the owner, Lucy the wonder dog who did not ‘eat’ Sophie last spring… and a second wonder dog Sarena (sp?) who is a 9 month old rescued female dog off the street… and she’s like a mini-me of Lucy….  And, just like last time…  Sophie was set out off leash with the other two… and after only a little lip-lifting with the puppy, we now have a ‘pack of three’.  Can you believe  it?  For those of you who haven’t met the divine Miss Sophie… she is a wonder dog herself… she’s fabulous on the boat, loves being with her people, will do anything…really anything…  asked of her…  she rides wheel barrows, bicycles and she loves going down slides….  and she bows and spins and twirls….  She even p…s  and p…s on a mat on the boat !!!  The only thing she doesn’t  do is get along with other dogs.. And, as she ages… she seems to be getting worse… Except here, at El Tiburon… where, last April, Lucy explained to her about how to get along…and they do.
So, we’re here for tonight and tomorrow and tomorrow night.  This is our little oasis of paradise and a place we chose to hang out and recoup from our drive down… when we leave here we’ll be in La Paz the same day and heading down to the good ship Shannon to begin her prep for returning to the water.  Oh yes, there may be one slight problem.  Apparently the roads south of there…. that’d be the highway between here and La Paz… were still closed due to the washouts as of yesterday… so we’ll just have to wait and see what they say tomorrow… who knows, maybe we’ll be ‘stuck’ here and have to spend another day or two floating on the floatie chairs in the pool, sipping cool wine under the palapa, and going for walks along the malecon and…. oh darn… wouldn’t that be awful .. :-)
Well, good friends… that’s it for now… hope all is well with all of you….  we keep you with us, in our thoughts and our hearts….  adios for now… CJ

Green Baja after Hurricane Paul’s torrential rains
Devastation at Mulage caused by rampaging floodwaters
After 2000 miles – we get our first glimpse of the Sea of Cortez
Finally, a beach - at Sanispac (Bahia Conception). …. Sophie is happy
Hey, MJ & Leona – how does this look for dry camping?
(Baja Style)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 5... If this is Wednesday, this must be San Quintin

Hi all... Our fifth day on the road and we've made it to Hotel Jardines in San Quintin. We spent yesterday shopping and visiting in San Diego, and then hit the road at 0630 hrs this morning. we wanted an early start as we were pretty sure our luck would run out at the border and our over stuffed truck would attract too much attention and beg to be searched. I figured we would need at least three hours to pack it all back in, so wanted time on our side. Well, let me tell ya... There we were driving up to the border and two heavily armed individuals looking pretty mean. I was digging in my backpack trying to find our passports and driving slowly towards them when I realized what that might look like from their perspective... Not sure but I may have seen one of them adjust his trigger finger.... Anyway, I thought I'd better stop furtively searching and just start smiling... And, before you know it we'd slid right through the entrance, past the two armed guys, past the red and green light which we never even saw... And then coasted to a stop wondering what we were to do next. that's when another guy in uniform motioned to us to keep moving and stop obstructing traffic... And there we were.... through the border with out even a question !!! Then we went to the immigration fellow and had our Tourist Visas in less than twenty minutes... How good is that??

So, off we headed... South bound and on our way. 6 1/2 hours later, after stopping for lunch, some groceries and some beer, we rolled into San Quintin. Hotel Jardines was one of our favorite stops on the way up last April and our only regret this time is that we're encased in a wind and dust storm that we travelled with for the last couple of hours of our drive. The weather man has been forecasting high winds by the end of the week... Perhaps this is the start of it.

Tomorrow we head for San Ignacio and a night in a yurt. Hope all is well with all of you. Happy Birthday Nick!! Hope you are having a good day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Hotel Jardines

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 3... Revisiting San Diego

We made it!

We've met our goal, making the journey from Maple Bay to San Diego in 3 days (this time by truck... vs 9 weeks by sailboat!). Upon our arrival in Point Loma, we had four priorities:

1. a visit to Downwind Marine to see our friend Lee, check out this year's south-bound cruiser news and pick up a few necessary boat parts.

2. a quick trip to West Marine to get what was left on our list.

3. a stop by Trader Mort's to buy some Oregon microbrew. :-)

4. And, finally... Off to our hotel to check in

We're now relaxing in our room at the Vagabond Inn, sipping pale ale, scanning boating magazines and watching the final presidential debate.

We're excited that our friends Susan and George are arriving tomorrow to hang out with us for a day in our favorite city.

Carolyn's already painted a colourful picture of our drive thus far, and I hope you've had a chance to enjoy her posts.

To tell the truth, I'd hoped to be able to supplement her stories with a few photos taken enroute, however timing and weather (rainy, foggy days) have not cooperated. Instead, here are a few word pictures that I'd like to share with you....

Caption: with enough $$s, I guess anything is possible...
... somewhere in Northern California, we came upon a large truck, towing a very long flatbed, upon which was strapped a huge tree (pine? Redwood?), at least 120' long and 2' diameter at the trunk!

Caption: another rainbow welcome...
... early Sunday morning, leaving Springfield, Oregon, we drove underneath a colorful archway.... a perfect, unbroken and clearly visible double rainbow!

Caption: imagine our surprise...
... Acting upon the best advice of our friendly desk clerks in our Springfield hotel, we pressed on through Stockton ("gang central"), we were relieved when we made it to the Comfort Inn in Modesto. That is, until I happened to google "Modesto Crime Rate" (stupidly) and found that Modesto is rated in the top 7 percentile of dangerous cities in America!!! Ok, guess we'll give it a miss next time.

... Safe and sound on the shore of America's Cup Harbor...

G'nite all....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 2...we kept on truckin' ... all the way to Modesto, California

Phew!!  Today we endured 878 kms of rainy, windy, dry, dusty, hot and sometimes cool, roadways.  The good news is that today is Sunday and all but one of the "Road Work Ahead" areas... wasn't, and so we proceeded very smoothly.  We used the many rest stops along the way to stretch our legs and switch off drivers every 2 hours... and so here we are in sunny Modesto, California... a small 'town' south of Stockton.

Things we learned along the way... big trucks in California are painted in beautiful rainbow colours, are kept shiny and clean... and look great coming along the highway in colourful parades; some (but not all) rest stops have volunteers doling out pretty good coffee for their favourite charities; Sophie is still the best ice-breaker and people- meeter we've ever known... what with her hops and spins and twirls...she gathers crowds wherever she goes; Chuck the truck is a trouper (for those who haven't met him he's a 1999 Ford Ranger with a canopy and he's loaded to the gills) ok, one thing we learned is that when it's absolutely pouring and you're forging down the highway at speeds around 110 KM... water does find it's way in the tailgate... no biggie tho'... there's so much stuff packed in there it had no where to go except onto  the first layer :-); GPS (Martha)... thanks again Susan and George... is a miracle.  She just always knows which way to go and how often... she hasn't even been yelling "U turn"...  "U turn"... at us this trip... so far; the first palm tree heading south on the I5 is just south of Redding;  talking to locals can really pay off (for instance... staff at one of our hotels described Stockton as "gang central" and warned us to stay away....  thank goodness they did as we'd been heading there.  Instead we passed right by and stopped in Modesto; and, finally, Trip Advisor really is a great service.  We check out potential hotels as often as we can and gain valuable info re where and where not to stay...  Suffice to say we learn something every trip.. and, some days, we can even remember what it is :-)

Well, we're tired.. and it's time to turn in.  Tomorrow's another long day, during which we'll be sliding by LA and heading for San Diego....  we hope to make an early start (0700 we think) and that should relieve some of the angst with respect to rush hour traffic, etc.

We hope you're all well.. and, before I forget,  Happy Birthday Anika B. and Diane R. (Oct 18th) hope you had lots of fun...  Take care everyone.... talk to you again soon....  Hi  Dad.... love ya...  Carolyn

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On our way Day 1... made it to Springfield, Oregon

2030 hrs... and all's well.  That's right, we actually made it to Springfield, Oregon... right on schedule :-)  We left home at (well not 0630 as planned) but rather... more like 0715... and then, with a very full truck (the last few items had to be pushed in with force and the tailgate door slammed shut, and Sophie's bed was about 3 feet higher than normal, having been set up on top of clothing bags and computers...) we headed on down the road to Victoria.  It was a quiet but effective drive, smooth in every way, and we arrived at the Coho Ferry terminal in good time to join the line of folks awaiting their visit from 'the customs guy'.  Well, the Customs 'woman' arrived and she was very friendly, asked only a few questions and then had a good chat with us about retirement and sailing. After a short trip on an interesting ship we landed in Port Angeles and there met a very nice Border security guy... he just wanted to know if we owned the truck... and off we went after assuring him absolutely everything in the truck was destined for our boat in Mexico.  Sweet (and true).

The drive from Port Angeles to Springfield went very well.  We stopped for a break at a rest stop and then again for dog food and groceries in Vancouver, Washington.  We're here now in the same hotel we stayed at on the way up (The Springfield Comfort Suites).  It's very nice and we get breakfast in the morning... and Sophie likes it too.  She's already passed out on the couch. Yup it has a couch, coffee table, desk, tv, and huge bed....and serves a good breakfast (altho we might give the biscuits and gravy a miss... and head for the Belgian waffles instead).  How good is that?

We 're now about to sit down and sort out exactly how many miles it is to San Diego. Then we'll divide by 2 and hope to get half way tomorrow :-)  We'll report in tomorrow night and let you know how we did... so far, so good...

We hope all of you are well and enjoying the rainy, windy, yucky fall weather... most of which we drove through today... so much rain it came in the tailgate  :-(

Take good care...  hasta la vista

Carolyn & Kathy.... and Sophie

Friday, October 19, 2012

We hear the wind a callin' must be time to go.

For those of you who are just joining us... welcome. You may want to take a little time and read through the record of our first season (August 2011 to April 2012) during which we sailed our little ship down the coast of North America to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez.  For those of you who are returning... welcome back and thanks for your continuing support.  It's October 19, 2012 and we're about to begin the second season of this wonderful adventure - so thanks for joining us and hopefully enjoying our stories as we continue to weave our way through the pathways ahead of us.  Here we go...

Who knew a summer could fly by so fast?  I know we've all said that before, but honestly folks... this has been the shortest and fastest passage of 5 months I've ever experienced.  Don't get me wrong, we had a good summer... we did a little camping (in the rain and lightning storms), we did a little sailing (thank you so much Penny & Jo for loaning us the wonderful ship Kermode), and we spent quite a bit of time with our families. We didn't have near enough time to visit with our friends properly... we must trust in their patience with us and hope they'll be willing to see us more next summer :-).  So, here we are... it's Friday and phase II of our adventure begins tomorrow.

We've all had our haircuts... Sophie too, and the truck is packed... well... actually, it's stuffed full with all kinds of things we didn't realize we'd want to have down there... Much of it will come back with us as it's tools and equipment for the repairs, maintenance and upgrades we intend to do (like bottom painting, hull waxing, deck repairs, dinghy davits, and a new bimini).  And some of it will stay and be used up.. things you can't get in Mexico and that we love. You know, things like Tim Horton coffee :-)...  Oh yeah, we have a case of that stuff, having worked out that we go through one can every two weeks. PS: What do you folks do who don't drive back and forth.. with respect to bottom painting equipment and things like that? I'd like to know as we may think about flying down next year.

Our loose plan (made somewhat firm with the addition of several hotel reservations) is to leave Victoria tomorrow morning on the Blackball Ferry to Port Angeles.  Once clear of customs we will head south on the fastest route possible. Our goal is to overnight in Springfield, Oregon so we'll  have to 'make tracks' to do that. We'll then continue on down the highway and, we hope, get to San Diego a couple of days later. After two days in San Diego we'll cross the border into Mexico and head down the Baja.  Our stops will include San Quintin, Ignacio Springs and Loreto before we arrive in La Paz (we hope on Oct. 28th).  This is an optimistic plan but we are optimistic folks and we'll do our best.

So, with that little intro I'll bid you adieu for now. We should have reasonably good internet connections as we travel south and we look forward to staying in touch with you as we travel.  Until the next time... take good care..  Adios.       Carolyn