Catching Up

As you may have noticed, I have been lazy when it comes to blogging for the past few months. I apologize. I have found myself pretty easily distracted in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

When I last blogged we were just arriving in Shaver Lake, California to work for a friend we met in La Paz. Our main goal, however was to explore, of course. Every day we were not working – Tim at the lake dock and me at the restaurant – we were out hiking. The area surrounding Shaver Lake is beautiful! Stunning views, streams and giant sequoias in Mckinley Grove. We really enjoyed our time working and playing in the central california area. And, Tim finally got sick of his long locks and buzzed his hair off while we were in Shaver (ironic, eh?).

Tim said he could sit and contemplate these giants for hours.

Us enjoying Huntington Lake.

Overlooking the valley near Mushroom Rock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The top of Black Point trailhead overlooking Huntington Lake, I think.

One of our favorite discoveries in the Shaver Lake area was the Dinkey Creek granite pools. Over centuries, the streams of snow runoff running through the heavily granite Sierra Nevada mountains carving out pools in the rock. The “Dinkey Pools” are one such series of pooling streams connected by waterfalls creating natural water slides. It took us some time to find the trailhead to hike back to the pools because it is not a marked trail, but it is a popular destination with the locals. After hiking about a mile, we found the pools and went swimming.

We found the Dinkey Pools… not sure if we should get in.

Tim climbing one of the waterfalls at Dinkey Pools.

The views were beautiful, and the water was cold!

Although we planned to spend most of the summer in Shaver Lake, I knew I would be spending July in Colorado waiting for my new niece to be born. I went to stay with my parents and sister for most of July in anticipation of Cora June Gregory, who arrived a week late on July 20, 2012. Tim flew out for the week we thought she would be born and got to meet her about an hour before he had to be back at the airport. She came just in the nick of time. While we were waiting for her, we did a lot of hiking in the area with my family in Evergreen, Colorado.

Tim and my niece hiking ahead in Colorado.

Me holding my new niece Cora.

A shot from Cora’s newborn photos. I couldn’t resist sharing.

After the excitement of welcoming our new niece, we headed back to California to pack up and prepare for our ’round the country visits with friends and family. We added a couple stops along the way so we went back down to Newport to visit David and Katie – some good friends we made while in Baja. Then we headed to Oregon to visit my long-time-friend Lauren who had recently taken a new job in Eugene. From there we went back over to Colorado, and Tim flew to Texas and back for his sister’s graduation from nursing school. When we left, we drove over to Ohio, Michigan and back down to Texas. Yup, I wasn’t kidding about our U.S. tour.

We went to the Orange County Fair in Newport, California. You must have a corn dog at the fair.

There was a surfing competition at Huntington Beach, so It was packed. Nothing like SoCal beaches.

We drove all the way from Newport to Eugene, Oregon, seeing most of California. We went through wine country and tons of golden rolling hills. Northern California and Oregon are so green, which was a nice change from the Baja desert. We explored the town of Eugene, the coast directly west, and the mountains to the east. We saw a lot in a weekend.

The coast was foggy and chilly, unlike the beaches we were used to. It was still very pretty.

Our feet went numb in the water for this picture!

Sunset on the historic bridge.

Sunset on the Oregon cost. We climbed sand dunes to get the view.

Tim at the base of the huge Proxy waterfall we hiked to in Oregon. It was so lush.

Me climbing up near the lower Proxy Falls.

Evergreen, Colorado was our next destination, but we knew we wanted to break it up into a two-day drive. We stopped in Salt Lake City and explored a little bit that evening and morning before heading along our way. Tim loved driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Stopping at the Salt Flats.

Sun setting over the mountains surrounding the Salt Flats.

The Great Salt Lake was huge and strangely calm. It was weird for us for to see such flat water.

We arrived in Colorado and stayed with my parents for most of August before going to Ohio and Michigan during Labor Day weekend to hang out with Tim’s extended family. They are some of the sweetest people ever. We had a lot of fun enjoying everyone’s company.

Tim’s grandparents are the most loving people. Grandpa Yoder turned 97 on Sept. 30.

Walking the pier over Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is so cool. It is just like the ocean, only no salt!

After Michigan came Texas, we’ve come full circle 9k miles. It had been a while since I had been there. It was 108 degrees when we arrived, but thankfully a cool front came through the next day and evened out the temperature for the couple of weeks we were there catching up with everyone. I got to meet my cousin’s new baby girl and play game nights with Tim and his parents.

I have to say, we really enjoyed getting to visit all our friends and family around the country. But we did find ourselves exhausted from traveling about 5,600 miles and living out of a bag for three months. I miss the homeyness of our boat, and we find ourselves longing for our own stability. We have been traveling for a full year now, which I am surprised we made it as long as we have. We still plan to go to our boat again early next year and sail the sea for a few months. Stability with freedom to travel is our long-term goal.

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Across the Map

Welp, we made it to Galveston from La Paz by car. We drove all the way up the Baja peninsula and across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas… not the preferred method of travel, but when Mexico tells you that you cannot import your car to the mainland, you kind of figure out a way around it.

We planned to take a ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan and drive a more direct route, but we hit a little snag. Mainland Mexico requires an import permit for a vehicle, but the Baja does not. We imported the car when we drove down through the country in October and were told we could export the car when we arrived in La Paz. That was not correct. We had to drive to the border to export the car, so we didn’t, and assumed we could re-import the car because the permit had expired. Well that was wrong and we had to change plans quick, so off we went to see the Baja.

It was such a beautiful drive. We saw the terrain change and different types of mountains. We drove along the coastline of the Baja on both sides. As we passed the Bay of Conception, Tim reminded me to look out for our friends Jasna and Rick on Calypso. Just as soon as he said that, we spotted them! We pulled off the road and wandered down to the beach to call for them. Tim yelled load out to their boat, they heard him and kayaked in to the beach. We visited with them for 30 mins or so before we headed on our way.

We made it to Guerrero Negro (about half way up the Baja) before dark. On day 2 we drove the Mexican wine country and then and incredible boulder mountain range on our way to the U.S. border crossing in Mexicali. We traveled about 12 hours each day. We landed for the night in Yuma, Arizona – where Tim was stationed as a Marine. We were able to spend the night on the base. Tim took me to his old shop where he built and repaired giant guns used on the Harrier. We took our time in the morning, and he took me on a tour of his old stomping grounds. We also went to the Arizona Territorial Prison which was along the Colorado River.

We then made our way to Fort Stockton, TX – about as far as we could get before we were exhausted. It was straight north of Big Bend National Park and we were wishing we could go explore it. Had we planned better we would have worked in time for that. Day Four of driving took us to San Antonio to see the Alamo and River Walk – two places I had never been even though I grew up in Dallas. I liked learning a bit more about our Texas history and was surprised how cool the River Walk was. We had dinner down there – finally finding a good frozen margarita. Then we headed to the outskirts of town to get a head start of driving for the next day.

Today, we made it! We were looking at the map and realized that we will have made it clear across the entire map by the time we get to Cozumel. It will be the most I have traveled in 10 days. We are both excited to get on the cruise ship and RELAX. It has been a long time since we have just kicked backed and didn’t worry about something. We will be traveling around Texas and Colorado when we get back from the cruise, but I think we will be going at a slower pace.

It feels a little weird being back in the states. Everything seems so expensive and moving at a faster pace. I have not been out of the country for longer than 2 months before now, and I guess we will have an adjustment period.

Sunrise the morning we left the boat.

Mountains near Mexicali

The Colorado River near Yuma

San Antonio River Walk

Working, Kiteboarding, Christmas

When we got back to La Paz we had a distinct list of items we wanted to complete: change the engine oil, replace transmission hose, fix windlass electrical problem and change the generator oil. While Tim was working on these items I would catch up on graphics projects for my clients and we would be super productive before we headed right back out to the islands.

Tim promptly changed the oil in the engine (turns out you had to warm up the oil before you pump it out of the dip stick tube), and I completed some Christmas graphics just in time for the holidays. Feeling good about our accomplishments, we dropped everything and went to La Ventana for kiteboarding lessons! We had a couple of friends who were down there already, and Tim had been talking about trying it out since we bought the boat. La Ventana is a huge kiteboarding and wind surfing beach. We thought we would give it a try to see how it goes. I, Tim and our friend David made the 45 min trip south of La Paz.

When we arrived there was no wind and a very quite, quaint little town. We decided to camp in our car at this cool spot on the beach with our friends who were already there. Next day, wind, and lots of it. Our first day of lessons was in 20 to 27 knots (1 knot is slightly more than a mph) of wind, and the beach and water were cluttered with kites.

As it turns out kiteboarding is way more involved than any of us were expecting. You don’t just casually give it a try. It would certainly take 2-3 days of lessons to get anywhere safely with those kites. We were all really impressed with the Elevation Kiteboarding school at Baja Joes. The instructors were some of the friendliest people we have met yet. We lucked out because we happened upon a girls camp that started exactly when we arrived, so they decided to let me join even if it was for one or two days. It was wise because women and men learn differently and would have different comfort levels with this sport. My instructor so thoroughly explained everything before we tried it and made us feel safe. You start by flying a little trainer kite, then a little bigger kite then the huge powerful ones everyone else is using. I could not believe how much power is behind those things. That is why safety is so important.

By the end of the first day we were body dragging with our instructor through the water with the kite. I had never drank so much sea. I couldn’t believe I was even doing it. Day two, we used the kite to drag ourselves down the beach by ourselves with a radio helmet for helpful tips and corrections from the instructors.

Then, they add the board. That was a whole other element to consider, and a whole other way to eat sea water. It was a really tough day, but so fun. I was able to get up on the board for about 10 seconds… which I saw as an achievement. We wanted to go for one more day, but we couldn’t afford it. It was cheaper than learning in the states, but certainly not a part of our budget. Merry Christmas, lets give each other kiteboarding lessons!

Now we are back and helping a friend with his dog until tomorrow. That gives us a deadline to finish our projects and get back out to the islands for a wonderfully private Christmas. Who else is snorkeling on Christmas day? It has been kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit here. It is still pretty warm and we miss our families a lot. We are doing what we think will make a special holiday for us, but it is tough not being near the ones we love. We got a tiny tree and we are going to cover it in sea shells and lights. We have been collecting shells and will decorate it soon. I can just imagine all the holiday cheer at home.

Tim with the practice kite

Kites everywhere!

Me with the practice kite.

Me and my instructor launching for body dragging.

Our view from the campground.

Campground