Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wonderful news!!!!!!

I can't stop hugging myself, crying, and jumping up and down.. all at the same time. Who knew how deep my fear of the possibilities was?  I admit these past 12 days have felt like I've been living in someone else's life.  I didn't expect to hear of the lab results for another two days (at least) so when I answered the phone this afternoon, and it was my surgeon, well....  I stopped breathing.  Now, since he told me the wonderful news, that he got it all and I'm cancer free, well now I can't keep my eyes from leaking.. and I don't care.  I am so very lucky. And I am so very grateful.

Thank you to all of you who wrote and shared your own stories and who offered me such strong support and understanding.  There's so much more I could say... but I think today... just this short note says it all.

I hope you're all enjoying this wonderful fall weather and are having as good a day as I am... take good care. I fly out of Victoria early Saturday morning and should be partnered up with the Mulhaley Caravan by 2130ish hrs. when I land in Tucson, AZ.

It's time to rest now.  Adios... will be in touch...  CJ

Monday, September 28, 2015

You never know who you're going to run into...

So there she was, boogieing down the highway, heading for today's intended destination... and she sees a gal on the side of the road taking a photo of something or other... and she thinks (man, that looks like Deb from home....) but she carries on... it's so hot hallucinations wouldn't be out of the expected.  A little while later she sees the little white car (the same that the photographer was out of) again.. .and this time it's stopped.. oh, heck, I forget how it goes... too much pain killer (er I mean rum). Anyway, the great news is that in a nation as tall and as wide as the US of A... our Kathy (and the princess of course) have literally bumped (well actually no fenders kissed) into Ron and Deb.. friends from home.  What luck!  At just the right time! I'm expecting Kath could use a little company of the "I already know you and like you" type.... so, what luck they actually ran into each other.

So cancel where she was going, cuz they headed off instead to the small village of Tusayan, at the Grand Canyon and the Mulhaley caravan will be at the Grand Canyon Campers Village for a couple of nights. What a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with friends, at a higher (and cooler) elevation, at the perfect time when warm, friendly company is needed.  Thank you Ron and Deb, for popping up at just the perfect time.  Who knew Route 66 (that's right, that's what they're all following) would yield such a treasure.

It was kind of funny.  A couple nights back, when Kathy explained to me she was following Route 66, named after some TV show from years gone by... well (you know where I'm going with this don't you?) well I had to stop her... because of course I know Route 66 and the two gorgeous fellows and the wonderful (was it red or blue?) convertible sports car they drove.... who wouldn't?  Except perhaps those born a little after us.  Great show and here we are..."x" number of years later... remembering them.. Wondrous world this!

Kathy will have a great couple of days, spending quality time with friends, doing a little early morning cycling and generally gathering herself for the next series of legs.  I, having survived (of course) the second little op, will content myself with re-arranging the furniture in my study (what else can I do... bored stiff as I am and too damn lazy to unpack my workshop)... and waiting for the lab results of this second go-round.  The last boxing match was nothing compared to the results of the one I lost today.  I have definitely lost my movie-star quality smile.

That's it for now.. just a quick update on how we're all doing and where the Mulhaley wagon train is going to lay low for a couple of days.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful day... did you all see the eclipse and super moon last night? Hope so.

Adios for now....  fair winds to all...  CJ

It's a tad warm in Arizona...

Not sure how I did this... but I think I managed to insert a photo Kath just sent from inside Rikki.  She's just leaving where she spent the night and has mentioned a couple times how warm it is. This is a photo from the info panel in the trucks dash. It is indeed a 'tad' warm there.  With luck she and the princess won't melt before they get to their next destination... Williams,AZ. This next place is at a higher elevation and supposed to be significantly cooler.  Here's hoping...

Talk to you all later....  over and out.  CJ

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not enough info...

Hi everyone.  Just a quick  note.  Something one of you said in an email has caused me to believe I may have not provided enough information when I mentioned that I had to come home for a few days.  While I don't want to air my problems to the world, neither do I want to leave a gap requiring envisioning, conjecturing and creating in order to finish the sentence.  To be clear, I am now a member of the large group of Basal Cell Carcinoma warriors... nothing worse.  I must admit I would have rather had this on my leg than my face... but... guess I needed a little prettifying. So no lying awake at night or worrying please.  This hiccup will be dealt with and dealt with well... very shortly.  Thanks for your emails and messages... you are the best!  CJ

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The caravan 'trucks' on....

Some may wonder what is going on with this merry-go-round of ours... Here's a quick update.

CJ's doing fine...  looks a bit like the loser of a 9 round boxing match (not sure how many rounds a real match is..).  The doc carved out a nice little chunk of my upper lip, right side, and promised to leave the scar running up one of my 'lines' (his word).  I think he was being polite and didn't want to offend me by mentioning that my line was really a wrinkle :-)  Anyway, the op went well (not my favourite way to spend a morning) and I was out by early afternoon, on my way home to nurse my owie with ice (some on my lip, some in my rum :-)  All I had to do was wait to hear from the lab that he got it all, then wait to get the stitches out, and then be on my way.  Unfortunately, I just heard this morning that there's a little bit more to come off... so, back I go next Monday and we dosey-doe one more time.

Kathy on the other hand is doing splendidly.  Courageous as she is, she and the princess have conquered the highways and the bi-ways between where she was and where she is tonight.  I left her in Reno and she's now in Las Vegas (actually on the outskirts of Vegas).  She stopped at a couple of different places, met some neat people.. even scored some Seattle's Finest coffee off a long-haired manager (who lived in a bus) at one of the places.  Her route has been as follows.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 22:  US-95 to the Sunrise Valley RV in Mina.  
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: Fort Amargosa RV Park, 27 minutes south of Beatty, in Amargosa Valley
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: US 95 to Las Vegas and Duck Creek RV Park (Passport America $16/night)
This last place really values pets as they're charging an extra $3/night for the  princess to visit.  But, they have a pool... which they should have as the temperature was 40 degrees when Kath arrived!!  Thank goodness Lucy is actually from Las Vegas (we were here two years ago picking her up) and has a good air conditioner and insulation.

The plan for now is as follows.  CJ will tough it out at home, attend on Monday for some more facial art work (I should be real pretty by the time this is over...), wait for the 'green light' from the lab and the stitches to be removed.. and then skedaddle as fast as possible back to the southbound caravan.  I expect we will meet up at the Tucson Airport.  We'll be behind schedule but we'll just have to prioritize the work when we get to San Carlos... the good ship Shannon's Spirit will sail.. and she'll sail in early November!

Kathy and Sophie, Lucy and Rikki, will continue on their way in a comfortable fashion (as comfy as you can be in 40 degree weather :-(  They'll stop over in the Lake Havasu area on their way to the next stop. They're heading for the Lost Dutchman State Park which is not too far from Phoenix, and hopefully they'll be able to rest there for a couple of days at least. Timing will kick in once we're sure what day I'm flying.  We can fine tune from there.  The final destination (this trip) for Lucy is Tubac, AZ where she will be prepped for storage and the winter months.

It's best to stop at this point as plans won't finalize until we have some dates to work with... Sooo, know that we are well, if not half a country apart, and moving forward.  Kathy reports that while the Princess is reluctant to walk too far in the heat (and quite clear about her wishes) she is frolicking like a puppy in the cool morning airs.  Even offering ear licks in thanks for time spent in her favourite camp chair (which of course travels with us.. after all, it is her throne!).

Enough already... you'd think I'd had a glass of wine or something... Take good care everyone.. we'll be in touch.

Adios for now.... CJ

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Checking in...

How time flies when you're having fun!  

Time to catch up on our travels. We did finally manage to squeeze everything into Rikki; even a comfy bed for the princess (yet another use for a dog crate if you break it down and put the lid inside the base). And, after a rather short sleep, we hit the road early Monday morning.  Both truck and trailer were performing well so off we went, heading south to Victoria to begin our 2015 road trip from Victoria, BC to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  We've had several requests from regular RVers as well as sailors who have taken to the road as a way to get down to their boats, for some information on our route and stops along the way. The notes hereafter will provide an over-view of our daily journey with a few comments about places we've stayed.

Monday, Sept. 14th

Arrived Victoria 0900 hrs for the 1030 Coho Ferry.  Given our experience last year, we weren't looking forward to meeting this years version of 'Lurch the Border Guard' and we were greatly relieved when our officer for the day turned out to be friendly, polite and a genuinely nice guy. Phew! The ferry trip itself was uneventful and, after exiting the ferry in Port Angeles, we sailed through the last check point with similar ease.

Our first stop was to a company we'd discovered called Port Angeles Package Receiving.  This place provides a great service. We were able to order boat things from the US and have them shipped directly to Port Angeles, where they were stored until we could pick them up.  Their location is only a few blocks from the Coho Ferry Dock and if you check out the road map first (like we didn't) you'll learn that their address (on E. 1st.) is a one-way street. Just drive straight ahead when you leave the ferry parking lot, head up to E. 1st St. and turn left.  You'll find it easily.  Their website is and it's worth a look.  Next stop - Bainbridge Island to pick up our new anchor ...and then we were free to continue on our way.  

We spent our first night at the Little Creek Casino Resort and Campground in, you guessed it, Little Creek, WA.  This is a great spot for an over-nighter.  The pads are flat cement with grass on both sides and full services.  The facilities are clean and well maintained.  It's a typical casino rv park without much vegetation... but the sites are just fine and most are pull-thru which is very nice when you're in travelling mode. There are several restaurants in the Casino complex and there's also a pool and hot tub which RV guests are welcome to use.  There is some traffic noise as it's quite near the highway, but it's not that bad, particularly for a one or two night stay. This site is on the Passport America list and it cost us $17.50. 

Tuesday, Sept. 15th

Up early and on the road, we headed to Hayden Island in Vancouver, WA where we had pick ups to make at West Marine and NW Inflatables. With the last of our cargo on board, and having concluded that northern California was still burning fiercely, along with some parts of Oregon, we decided to head east following the same route we took last year. Off we headed, driving along the southern edge of the Columbia River, a comfortable drive and a lot more pleasant than the I 5.

You may recall a story last year about running out of gas along a long and lonely stretch of road?  And the guy who drove out to us with a jerry can of gas...enough to get us back to the nearest gas station?  Well, that was a small dot on the map called Arlington. Quite coincidentally, that is where we had chosen to spend Tuesday night; at the Port of Arlington Marina & RV Park. We didn't realize this was one and the same place until we arrived, but it kind of felt like visiting an old friend and we were pleased to be stopping for the night anyway as it was almost dark.  The RV park turned out to be full but for a whole $9 we were welcome to dry camp in their overflow lot (the parking lot of the adjacent boat launch) and so we did.... even sat out under the stars and enjoyed a night-cap before hitting the pillows. To be truthful the highway and train noise in the area is pretty loud, but when you're enjoying an, almost free, over nighter in your cosy little Casita... and you're road weary as well..... the noise just doesn't seem to matter.  We had a good night and enjoyed the stay.

An aside re:  Life Happens... This is the point where our journey gets a little complicated. Three things happened.  The first is that Miss Sophie wasn't as comfortable as normal and we had begun to suspect the return of her bleeding ulcer (caused by heavy meds after her amputation). She'd been on anti-biotics again for a weak kidney infection and it looked like her ulcer was acting up.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem was we were running out of the prescription meds we were using to treat her. There weren't exactly a lot of vets around and, when you have a special creature like the princess...  well it's a very long story to try and explain to a stranger. I'm sure you understand what I'm saying here.  It's also very expensive.  While we were communicating with our vets at home to come up with a solution for Sophie, I received a message advising me that the little spot on my lip did indeed need to be excised and it should  be done sooner rather than later. Hmmm.  I'd kind of been ignoring that whole thing because it did seem quite minute and unlikely... and it's very important to get this cargo to Mexico if we are to salvage our cruising season... much over-due I might add. And lastly, Rikki (the truck) was rapidly approaching his need for his first (8000 km) service and not every Dodge dealership had a good reputation for service. So here's what happened....

Wednesday, Sept. 16th 

Luckily we hadn't driven so far east there was no way back.  We turned ourselves around and headed west, not quite as far as Portland, but to the connection with a highway heading south. When faced with a choice of airports between Salt Lake City and Reno... well, we chose Reno.  We know the area, there are lots of RV places, and we're just not all that hepped up about Utah. Our journey south took us through beautiful, scenic, rural farm and ranch lands.  It also took us up into forests of pine and back down into fertile valleys.  It was very picturesque and we will come back here one day and slow down to explore the many historical sites.

I should take a minute here and acknowledge that, as you already know, these past couple of years have been rather... well... 'busy'. I believe we have become rather proficient at changing directions when needed to meet the challenges. Phrases like "keep your eye on the prize" and "don't sweat the small stuff" and "live every day"...  these are all very meaningful for us and help us keep going....  Some days are a little more trying than others, but our light is still burning brightly... so here's how it's unfolding.

We drove south and stopped in Bend, Oregon at the Riverside Veterinarian. Friendly staff and an accommodating Vet allowed us to wait for a FAX from home and they then prepared Sophie's meds for us. Back on the road, we headed south to La Pine, Oregon and stopped for the night at the Riverview RV Park; a great little place with a friendly manager, grassy sites with gravel pads, friendly neighbours, clean washrooms and showers, even a laundry.  This is an older park but very well maintained. Sophie was so impressed with the grass lawns and walking trails she was quite prepared to move in and stay.  But, game as usual, she was up and ready to roll when it was time.  We actually stayed an extra day here as, when we woke up it was pouring rain and no kind of weather to be driving in.  We also needed some planning time and good thing we stayed as it took most of the day to sort out our next destination, airplane tickets, and a rental car... all necessary for my return to BC. Our plan morphed into the scenario where I would return to BC for a few days and Kathy and Sophie would maintain the status quo on the road, starting with taking Rikki in for his 8000 km service at the Carson City Dodge Chrysler.

Friday, Sept. 18th 

On the road early, we continued south towards Reno and our destination of choice the Sparks Marina RV Park in Sparks, Nevada. This is another of those cement pads all lined up RV parks. It has a small pool, tidy grounds, and security.  Turns out there's a nice park for walking at the marina next door... and, it's 11 minutes from the Reno airport.

Saturday, Sept. 19th 

Kathy dropped me at the airport at 0730 and I carried on with my journey home by air.  She grabbed some groceries and headed back to the trailer.  My journey home was uneventful in some ways and memorable in others.  I'm not used to travelling on my own having been blessed with wonderful travelling companions over the years...  and, all these new fangled electronic gadgets that rule our lives now... well, let's just say I haven't kept up with the times as much as I should have.  I'm not very comfortable wandering into an airport with all my info on my laptop... a new to me laptop, requiring turning on and connecting up before I can even begin to find the info to tell the counter staff.  Fortunately for me, it was so early there were no line ups and a very nice young woman called me forward, took my passport, and voila!  knew everything about me including my travel plans.  Phew!  It was that easy.  I'm sure she thought I'd only been let out for the day, and had wandered away from my handler... but I escaped before she could call security..and moseyed on my way :-) My first leg was from Reno to Seattle and on that journey I had the pleasure of sitting next to a very nice woman.  She was travelling from Reno to somewhere outside Seattle to see her elderly mom...  We talked, we laughed, and we told stories... we touched on the preciousness of moms and we talked about life... and end of life. We shed some tears and we moved on.  It was a great connection and, what seemed like 5 minutes after leaving Reno, we arrived in Seattle and bade each other farewell and good luck.

My next leg, from Seattle to Victoria, was short and pleasant.  I had the only empty seat on the plane right beside me!  Budget Car Rentals, in the Victoria Airport, were very accommodating as well and, although I had thought I'd have to wait until 1700 for a car, they found one for me after only about 20 minutes.  I won't bore you with the details of this fancy little Ford Focus.. except to say that pushing buttons blindly while you drive isn't perhaps the wisest course of action...  Blasting oneself with full force maximum air conditioning, whilst trying to change radio channels... and driving... well, quite distracting I must admit.

OK, so here's where we're at.  I'm safely ensconced back at home and will have my little 'situation' dealt with tomorrow.  Kathy's in Reno drafting out her driving plan for the next few days...  Our plan is for Kathy to continue 'moving the cargo' south, planning routes that pass by airports...  And, I will meet up with her as soon as I possibly can...hopefully by weeks end.

So, for now... that's our news. Hope all is well with all of you....  enjoy the cool when you can.  Adios for now... CJ

Sunday, September 13, 2015

One more sleep !!

Can't believe it!  Just one more sleep and we're "ON THE ROAD AGAIN".  Excited?  You bet we are. Even Miss Sophie senses a change in the air (and I don't mean the cool nights and falling leaves.. boy can Garry Oaks ever shed!).

Rikki is loaded and Lucy's about to be.  Today is the day for packing up our clothes for the two week road trip, loading the fridge and making sure we have all of Sophies paraphernalia. By the way... PS may be old (fourteenth birthday tomorrow) but she has passed all the Vets tests with flying colours. She's a little bit slower than she used to be.  Life on one leg isn't all that easy.  I tried jumping on one leg myself the other day...  I won't tell you what happened.  Go ahead and try it for yourself.

Anyway, we are packed. Arrangements for the house are complete. Everything's been done that could be done... and if we've forgotten something it will just have to sort itself out.  We'll be on the road and travelling south. Speaking of the road trip, we're going to set up a side-bar blog called RV Sites.  We'll keep an accounting in there of the sites we visit and our impression of them.  Several of you have been asking about that and even I have to scroll back to double-check where we stayed and if we liked it.  A side-blog will save us all time.

I'll be reporting in as we travel but just as an over-view (for those who like to know), our intended route is as follows.  It's a short one, and you'll see why. Tomorrow (Monday, Sept. 14th) we plan to take the 1030 Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. Once safely landed on US soil, we pick up some things we've ordered from a receiving house in Port Angeles and then carry on to Bainbridge Island where we pick up our new anchor.

Short aside re: anchor:  Rocna anchors are the current rage and they are fantastic.  I spent some considerable time studying all the new fangled (and expensive) anchors as we wanted a really good 'second' anchor (we're very happy with our primary which is a Delta 35).  Anyway, while Rocna is one of the very best you can get... for holding power, etc....  the Mantus did even better in the Practical Sailor (and other) tests.  As well, this anchor can be disassembled and is, therefore, much easier to stow.  So, contrary to my usual cautious and staid self...  I have decided to purchase a Mantus and we pick it up tomorrow. Will let you know how it does when the time comes.  Back to the route.

We will over-night about 1 1/2 hours south of Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and have a reservation at the Little Creek Casino/Resort. It sounds pretty nice and it is a Passport America site which means our fee is 1/2 price... and we like that.  So for $17.50 we shall enjoy a good site with a nearby/on site Bar & Grill. How good is that for the first night on the road?  Tuesday, Sept. 15th  we head south to Hayden Island, Vancouver, WA. where we pick up a few more things we've ordered and then we're free to carry on our journey.

This is where the plans gets shortened.  If you've had occasion lately to check out a map of the wildfires burning in Washington and Oregon, you'll understand our dilemma.  And so, our plan is to take a look at the map on Tuesday morning and decide whether to head east, following our path of last year, or south along the Oregon coast for a while.  The map last night causes me to believe we'll be able to head east (which is the preferred route for us on the way down).  We can do the Oregon coast on the way back.  But we shall see, and make the final decision when we are sure we know where the fires are. For now, we will just take it one day at a time.

That's it for now. I must get back to packing.  It's early o'clock on the day before "Adventure 2015" begins. To say we're excited is an under-statement... but we've still some things to do... so ta ta for now.  Take good care of yourselves, enjoy the fall weather, and stay tuned.  CJ

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recreating Shannon...

It's occurred to me that we seem to be working much harder and at a more furious pace than should ever have to occur when pursuing a 'fun' activity.  And, as I sit here at some ungodly hour with a cup of luke-warm old coffee, slogging away at yet more paper work, organizing, filtering, updating, recreating... well, it's becoming quite obvious that we've immersed ourselves in activities leading to the re-creation of our beloved Shannon.  I know we willingly let her go, cast her off into the arms of another (who promised to care for her as we had).... Yet, here we are with our "new to us" boat - slaving away to produce in a few months, the results of over a decade of labour in preparing Shannon to become her wonderful little self.

So, you might ask, what exactly are you doing?  How is it that instead of having time to peruse the cruising guides and learn more about the areas you'll visit... how is it that you have no hours left in your days, nor have you had for a very long time?  What is it that you're trying to do and why? I shall try to explain and perhaps in the explanation I will find answers to my own questions.

First off, once you've had a boat you have begun the process of selecting exactly the right radio, the right anchor, the right radar reflector and the right life-vest... you've become opinionated as to which piece of what equipment is the best for you and your crew.  And that's just after one boat. Shannon's Spirit is our sixth proper yacht... and we have formed all of those opinions mentioned over and over, and over again. There's no arguing with us now.  We know which heaters we like and which fans.  We know which anchor and how much rode lets us sleep at night and, God help us, we even know which electronic alarm system we want to monitor said anchor.

So, as we sit here anticipating life with our 'new' boat Shannon's Spirit. we seem to be determined to recreate all the good things about Shannon (and there were many). That, my friends, coupled with the complexities of paperwork required to gain entry to the US and to Mexico for two adults, one three-legged dog, a far-too-new pick-up truck and a very cute Casita trailer... well that is what is keeping us up at night and slaving all day.

Some of the projects we've taken on, and that I'll report on later, include: a slim-line book case (just like the one in Shannon) which will be situated against the forward bulkhead in the forward cabin ... the wall the door used to cover when it was open... (said door has been removed to make room - just like in Shannon); a nice, new curtain is ready to provide privacy when needed for the forward cabin; the port side hanging locker will be converted to a set of shelves (newer Catalina's already have drawers here) for our clothing; a strong slide-out will be installed below the navigation station for the Engells freezer; a new Y valve will be installed in the heads system, allowing the switch from 'out' to 'tank' from inside the heads (as opposed to outside and behind a cupboard door); a shiny new two burner w/oven propane stove will replace the old CNG (converted to propane but without the safety features) stove and it will be accompanied by two new composite propane tanks mounted on SSpirit's hips (eg: outside the pushpit, one on either side); and the ships navigation equipment will be expanded to include an 802 SSB radio and a VHF MATRIX (AIS & VHF) radio. Each of the projects mentioned involve several sub-projects. For instance; the propane tanks need to be mounted some how and that requires the creation of suitable brackets or mounts.  The parts for these brackets are currently sitting on my work bench waiting for assembly.  The wood for the book case is awaiting pre-drilling and painting. Two barge boards (to which we lash the jerry cans) are also awaiting the paint brush but at least they're already cut and drilled... oh yeah, I still need to find the hardware for them. So you see how it's going.  Two steps forward, one to the left, two back, two more to the right and maybe you're a little ahead when you recalculate (ha! caught you mapping out the steps!!).

Enough already!  Kathy came up with a precious saying yesterday and I've adopted it as my mantra.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!!  I'm sure she heard it from someone else... but it's perfect for our situation.  THIS my friends IS the PRICE we pay for SAILING IN PARADISE.  And, we love it.

We shall persevere and we shall succeed.  Miss Sophie is very excited about standing on top of her favourite rock in the world. It's on the beach at Isla San Francisco.  AND, we're really looking forward to sharing this beautiful anchorage (and others) with good friends Sue and John who will be joining us for at least the first portion of our cruising season.  Heck, they've even volunteered to come down to San Carlos early and help us prep the boat.  It's all good... and we're pretty pumped about it so stay tuned.

I hope all of you have weathered the BC drought and are looking forward to cooler and wetter temperatures.  I wish you all a good September.  Thanks for sticking with us as we begin our travels south to the good ship Shannon's Spirit.   Talk to you soon.....  CJ