Dreaming of White Textured Walls

Renovation update: we have made and repaired many holes in drywall, removed every little scrap of remaining wallpaper, demolished the powder room, removed 2 layers of linoleum flooring, cut the pantry into a kitchen island and opened up the entryway coat closet to be a tiny mud room. It is almost time to put everything back together — the fun part.

We have primed every surface of the main and upper levels, so we can have a pro come texture all the walls and ceilings tomorrow. Once the texture is done, we prime again, paint and get carpet upstairs! We have been picking out paint colors, carpet and flooring for downstairs this week.

Here are some pics of our progress : )

Drywall repair is not too fun.

Drywall repair is not too fun.

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Raised the frame for the new mud room

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We scraped off two layers of linoleum flooring in the kitchen.

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What’s this? Someone used an old ping-pong table to make uneven subfloor repairs. Tim replace all the once-wet and ping-pong table subfloor.

The master bedroom wallpaper put up a fight coming off, so we had a lot of patching to do in this room.

The master bedroom wallpaper put up a fight coming off, so we had a lot of patching to do in this room.

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We sanded and primed the ENTIRE house for texture and then we get to prime it all again.

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The kitchen is beginning to take shape and all the walls and ceilings are white.

It snowed just in time for a white Christmas.

It snowed just in time for a white Christmas at my parent’s house.

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DIY Traveler

I’m not sure what is more difficult… becoming a sailor or re-entering American society.

The standards of Americans challenge us when we are in the States because we want to feel at home and have all the luxuries we were used to before we decided to travel. So, we have found ourselves at a crossroads between being travelers and just feeling homeless.

How should we continue to travel, yet also have a sense of home and relief from travel. I see travel as a completely different experience than vacationing. “Travel” usually means fewer showers, more street food, language barriers, new forms of transportation and being excited/scared often. Although worth every minute, it can become exhausting. Where do we put up our feet to take a break from this and feel comfortable again?

We are straddling two worlds right now. Do we go back to living comfortably and going on vacations, or do we have a crash pad to stay between countries? We have yet to determine its purpose, but we have bought a little townhome near Denver, Colorado we can call home for now.

Mexico is beckoning, as sailing season is upon us again. We both want so badly to go back to the S/V Luckiest and see the rest of the Sea of Cortez, but we are in the middle of renovations of our new home. We bought a fixer-upper built and decorated in 1974 — the same year as our Cal 35 sailboat. We have a ton of changes to make before we even move in, but we are both excited to see of what we are capable of in the rehab world. After we complete the reno, we will likely be rushing down to La Paz to get a couple of months of sailing in before the season ends. We hope to make it across the sea to the Gold Coast near Puerto Vallarta.

The idea is that we set up American-style lives for part of the year and spend three to six months of the year traveling in different countries. It seems good in theory, so stick around and I will let you know if it works. In the mean time, here are some before shots and renovation photos of our new place.

The before shot of our entry way.

The before shot of our entry way.

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Wallpaper from 1974 covers most of the home’s surfaces including the kitchen. Orange and green flowers and stripes have got to go.

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The flower powder room near the kitchen.

Old dirty staircase.

Old dirty staircase.

Tim is scraping the popcorn ceiling off. It was a huge mess, but we did it before we moved any furniture in.

Tim is scraping the popcorn ceiling off. It was a huge mess, but we did it before we moved any furniture in.

We pulled all the carpet up first.

We pulled all the carpet up first.

I am pulling the wallpaper off the pantry column in the kitchen, which will be an island.

I am pulling the wallpaper off the pantry column in the kitchen, which will be an island.

Tim begins to cut the pantry in half to make an island and a more open concept.

Tim begins to cut the pantry in half to make an island and a more open concept.

We stacked all of our bigger furniture in the living room while we still renovate. All the wallpaper is off, the ceilings are scraped and the shag carpet is gone.

We stacked all of our bigger furniture in the living room while we still renovate. All the wallpaper is off, the ceilings are scraped and the shag carpet is gone.

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.

California, Here we Come

It was hard to see the Luckiest getting hauled out of the water. It was clear she didn’t belong on land, so my nerves were on edge as they steadied her on the trailer.

We hauled out a little earlier than we expected, so we still had a lot of closing work to do while she was “on the hard,” as they call it. It was hot and tedious work to make sure all the bug access points were closed, pack everything and get it out, foil all exposed plastic and tie everything down. We spent two full days working on it with the company of our friends Drew and Miya on Tie Fighter. They hauled out about a month before and had been working on the hull of their trimaran. Props to them for the intense heat and hard work they endured for six weeks — we couldn’t even handle two days of it.

Leaving La Paz felt a little exciting and a little sad. We knew we had a fun new experience to look forward to working in Shaver Lake, California, but we also did not know when we would be back to our home on the sea.

Here she comes out of the water.

Luckiest getting put in her place for the summer.

Driving out the Baja peninsula was just as beautiful the second time. The land changes so much throughout to make some dramatic scenery. We stopped once half-way up in Guerro Negro and then again in Newport, California.

The Baja HaHa is a yearly “race” of about 200 sailboats that make their way from San Diego to Cabo San Lucus. Many also work their way up to La Paz for the winter. That is how we met many of the friends we made in La Paz, including David and Katie on Stargazer and Rochelle and Steve on August Pearl.

David and Katie graciously invited us to visit them on our way up to Shaver Lake to work for Steve. We were so excited to see them again and really enjoyed visiting, we actually stayed for two days in the Newport Beach area. They were great hosts and showed us around town and the area beaches. We got our first taste of what the sailing community is like in the U.S.

That was a strange thing to see for us. It is very coordinated and crowded. There were tons of boats in the Newport Harbor in slips, on moorings and coming and going. Not one was anchored, haha. We spend almost 7 months at anchor, so that is hard for us to imagine not being able to anchor. David took us on a harbor cruise in a cute little electric boat, which are popular there. Everything seemed foreign. It was really busy and lined with huge beautiful homes.

We had an awesome time with David and Katie though, window shopping and just catching up. They plan to visit Shaver Lake this summer.

Getting on the electric boat for our harbor cruise with David and Katie.

David on the harbor cruise.

Checking out Newport Beach.

Walking the Huntington Beach Promenade.

It took us just over five hours to drive from Newport to the Trading Post in Shaver Lake. We were greeted by Rochelle, Steve and his son Saylen sitting outside. It was weird to see Rochelle and Steve out of La Paz and in their own community, but it was cool. They invited us in to sit down for dinner for the first time in the Trading Post. I had lamb, Tim had a filet and it was as awesome as they had said it would be. We were “home” for the summer. I am so happy to be in the piney mountains for a while. We have so much hiking and exploring to do, and summer is just beginning here.

Tim was hired to rent out boats at Shaver Lake Watersports, and I was hired to waitress at the Trading Post and do some graphics for Blue Sky Cafe — which is Rochelle’s Cafe across the street. We moved into a little lower level apartment within walking distance of everything in town.

When we aren’t working we intend to be hiking, boating, laying by the lake and anything else this beautiful town presents.

Driving into the Sierra Nevada Foothills.

Arriving in Shaver.

That’s where Tim works.

The side yard at the Trading Post.

Rochelle’s delicious Blue Sky Cafe.

Hiking near Shaver Lake – Across the street from our place.

Tim Hiking near Shaver Lake.

The towering trees on our hike.

Tall trees make big pine cones.

Beautiful meadow.

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Finally Exploring the Sea

This is what we came here for. Island hopping from one beautiful anchorage to the next, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, combing the beaches and actually some sailing – we are finally doing what we thought we would be doing the whole time.

Now that we have a better grip on what we set out to do, what that requires in the long run and how to do what we enjoy while balancing our obligations to maintain our boat, we can enjoy this lifestyle a little more. It is so hard to see that when you are in the thick fog of learning something new and difficult. We knew we had a steep learning curve when we set out to live on our sailboat, but we couldn’t see the top of the curve until now. I’m not saying that we have learned everything we need to know or that we are now going to tackle an ocean crossing, but it is nice to know that we can at least handle ourselves cruising the Sea of Cortez. This entry covers a lot of info because it has been a while and we have seen a lot of new stuff while we were without internet.

We left the safe haven of La Paz on April 18 and stopped at only one familiar anchorage since then. On our first day we tried to unfurl our headsail, but it was caught and wouldn’t unroll. We had no idea why, but luckily, we left on the same day as our friend James on Pxis. We had been talking with him on the radio about our problem, and he offered to help. We stopped in a little anchorage where he rowed over to our boat and helped us tinker with our jib halyard (the rope or wire that holds up the front sail). He was awesome, identified the issue and had the tools and extra parts to fix it. That is what makes an amazing sailor and good cruising friend. There is no hesitation in helping your fellow cruisers. Thanks to James we were able to sail all the way to our next destination the next day – Isla San Francisco.

This was one of my favorite stops. It has a picturesque beach with great shells and an amazing hike taking you all along the ridgeline across the island. Tim and James did a lot of spear fishing at Isla San Francisco. James is a great hunter, and he was able to show Tim a lot of tips and tricks. Tim came home with a good size parrot fish – perfect for tacos. James gave us 1/8 of a huge pargo he shot, so between those two we had fish for days.

Hiking the ridge line at Isla San Fran

Me hiking the ridge with the 2 anchorages in the background.

The large bay at Isla San Francisco

Our next stop was just 2 miles north at Isla San Jose. This is a cool stop because there is a lagoon surrounded by mangroves that you can kayak or dingy through to the other side of the anchorage. However, no one warned us of how vicious the “no see ‘em” bugs are in the evening and night. We read about it later in our guidebook, but we stayed the night there, which we will never do again! We were eaten alive by these teeny-tiny-worse-than-mosquito bugs. Tim and I each had over 100 bites on our arms, legs and face. They itch worse than anything we have experienced, too. We would wake up in fits of scratching in the night for three nights. I couldn’t control myself and ended up scratching them off.

Kayaking through the mangroves at Isla San Jose

The beach was all river rocks and littered with starfish.

We ran away from that place in the morning, but I think we had bugs in our boat that we brought with us to San Everisto. I think we stopped here with Gary on our first trip down from Puerto Escondido when we first got the boat, but I can’t remember and it didn’t look familiar. I was not a huge fan of this spot. It had a little bity town and a hard-to-find store. We walked down the one road that took us over the hill to look at the salt ponds. It was pretty busy with fishing pangas (small Mexican boats), and we didn’t stay more than a night.

The small fishing village of San Everisto. There was a little store and tiny school with one dirt road cutting through the town.

Los Gatos, the anchorage just to the north, was much nicer. It has amazing red rock formations that were easy to hike around and explore. When we first arrived there a local fisherman who is well-known in the cruising community asked if we would like him to get us some lobster. Tim was excited to find them, too, and asked if Manuel would take him along. The guys went off lobster hunting and came back with a bundle. We traded a gallon of gasoline for five lobsters and Tim’s lobster hunting experience. I used the cooking books I borrowed from our cruising friend Brenda to figure out how to kill, clean and cook them. We ended up making a delicious lobster fettuccini alfredo for dinner.

Tim speared lobster with Manuel.

It got hot enough to swim in the late afternoon.

We made lobster fettucini alfredo with Tim and Manuel’s catch.

Hiking on the red rock formations at Gatos.

Red rocks at Gatos

Me and Tim hiking the red rock formations at Los Gatos. (Yes, Tim’s hair is getting very long.)

We headed to Agua Verde next, and stayed for a little while. We enjoyed how protected it was from the elements, and it was a larger anchorage with great water and a bit more to see. One hike went over a hill to a town cemetery, which was interesting to see. The town is cute and small, each yard lined with a homemade fence and their own version of landscaping. They had a great little store, too, where we bought some produce and popcorn, which I had missed up until then. Another hike on another day led us to the top of the outer-most point overlooking the sea and a large lone rock. On our last night in Agua Verde we went to the third beach to walk around and watch the sunset – which was stunning. There we met a group of guys who were on a spear fishing trip and had shot huge fish that week. They invited us for dinner and drinks at their camp.

A view from our hike of the north beach at Agua Verde.

Hiking Agua Verde

Enjoying the beach as we wait for the sunset.

The amazing sunset from the south beach at Agua Verde.

In the morning, we planned to head to Candeleros Chico – a little north facing anchorage midway to our next stop. Surprisingly, the wind picked up from the north that afternoon. We sailed upwind a bit, but decided not to stay in that spot and carry on to the next one where we might have more protection from the north wind. It was a longer day than expected and when we arrived in Honeymoon Cove, it was smaller than expected, and there was nowhere for us to anchor. I was really stressed out at this point. Tim did a great job worming us into a spot just south of there next to another boat. Tim actually got me to get in the water at this place. It was a small anchorage with reefs on both sides. I have not been real interested in snorkeling or getting in other than the occasional swim. I got all geared up in my wetsuit, fins, goggles and snorkel, and I took my sweet time easing into the water. I don’t really like the idea of ocean creatures that are all around me. We held hands and worked our way through one of the reefs. Not my finest hour. The next day we explored the beach a little bit. I forgot the camera, but we found a ton of shells, a dolphin that had been dead a while and a recently dead tarantula! That was enough for me to be ready to leave.

Me all geared up for snorkeling.

Tim taking a picture of me taking a picture of him under water.

Where we anchored south of Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante.

From there we hit up the two islands just north of Puerto Escondido – Isla Carmen and Isla Coronados. We had steady wind from the east all the way there, so we had an amazing day of sailing to Puerto Ballandra. We had a little difficulty anchoring here because there is a large underwater canyon that begins in the middle of the cove. Everyone has to anchor in a row to make sure they are on good holding ground. A nearly four-hour hike took us through the valley to overlook huge salt pond and another anchorage on the other side of the island. This was the longest hike we did. It was neat despite the insane amount of bugs in the beginning. They weren’t biters, just nat types. We also kayaked around the anchorage and explored the beach on the other side. We found a lot of cool shells and beautiful sea glass.

Sailing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Ballendra at Isla Carmen. We sailed all the way there with fairly steady wind and good speed.

A view of our boat at the beginning of our long hike across Isla Carmen.

I know we match, but the headbands really helped keep the sun and bugs off our heads while we hiked.

The huge salt pond view at the end of our journey.

I was very excited to go to Isla Coronados because there had been several whale sightings that week. I was on high alert the whole time we were there. This is a part of the Loreto National Parks system – as all of the islands are, but this was very well maintained and frequented by tourists from Loreto. We hiked around a little bit and enjoyed the white sand beaches and contrasting black volcanic rocks. This was a large anchorage with lots of boats in it when we arrived. Most, it seemed, were perched waiting for Loreto Fest in Puerto Escondido, just like us.

The well-defined hiking trail and our boat at Isla Coronados

The contrasting white sand beach and black lava rocks on the small beach at Isla Coronados.

The beach at Coronados had beautiful succulent plants covering the ground.

On our trek down from the islands we saw SO many dolphins (no whales though). Tim had the idea that they respond to happy people noises, so we began doing our best dolphin impressions. To our amazement, they can right over to the boat! We talked to them and heard them responding as they swam at the bow of our boat. It was one of the best experiences I have had out here. I was like a kid, just so amazed with nature. I posted a video of this on Facebook.

The dolphins swimming along with our boat.

We headed down to Loreto Fest, not really sure how we would anchor in Puerto Escondido because it was very crowded and moorings litter the bay. There is an area known as “the waiting room” outside the main heavily controlled bay. We did a lap in this very crowded spot and quickly realized there was no way to anchor there. We headed into the main bay to find plenty of room despite the hundred plus boats. Anchoring in there does require a daily fee, but I would rather be comfortable and safe and pay a little more.

Loreto Fest was a blast – I made a necklace, Tim took some fishing lessons, and best of all, we made new friends. We ended up scooting down to the anchorage just south of there and meeting up with our friends A.J. and Norma on No Problem and Chris and Anne Marie on Starship. They are also a young married couple who live aboard and are spending their first year in the Sea. We had a great time with them in Candeleros Bay anchored in front of a nice resort that shares its pool and bar with sailors. They showed us how to hunt for clams, so we cleaned them and cooked them on Starship. Tim had shot a Cabria, so we had them over for dinner. This was our last new stop and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Chris and Anne Marie from Starship at Loreto Fest.

The pool at he resort at Candeleros Bay.

We actually relaxed by the pool and felt like we on vacation for a couple of hours!

Tim finding clams in the sand.

Cooking and Eating clams. Anne Marie showed us how to clean them (dirty job) and Chris grilled them with a garlic, onion and butter sauce. Very delish!

Tim shot a Cabria (aka Grouper) for dinner.

When we left there, we just made nightly stops and kind of hurried back to La Paz, as time had crept up on us before we knew it. The last two hours of our trip back we finally saw what I had been looking for the whole trip — a whale! It was amazing to see something so huge. I didn’t get a good picture despite my incessant clicking, but it made an impression on us as we leave the sea for a while.

Now, we have to give notice to the boat yard that will haul us out, and we have a lot of work to do to shut her down. That brings us up to date. Today and tomorrow will be spent packing, cleaning and preparing to head back to the U.S. for a undetermined amount of time.

Farewell For Now

We had a very busy past couple weeks, getting out of the Marina and then participating in BayFest – an annual party the cruisers in La Paz put on – and now we are finally ready to go.

The stress was really building for us while we were in the marina and we really considered putting the boat on the hard and heading back to the states early. Then we backed off and realized we really just need to be having fun. So we decided that we would wrap up everything that completely had to happen and get out of the marina and then La Paz, but put no stipulations on ourselves. We are going to go as far north as we can or want to and then come back to La Paz to pull the boat out of the water.

During the BayFest we entered a raffle to get 50% off our haul out ($350 usd) and a new bottom painting at a boat yard here – and we won! We really are the Luckiest. To take advantage of that, we are coming back to La Paz in Mid-May and driving out the Baja to California.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this, but we made a friend and fellow cruiser here who owns a restaurant and small marina on Shaver Lake in California. He has offered us a couple of summer jobs from June through August. Tim will be working on the dock with boats and wake board lessons while I tough it out serving at the dinner house. Except for during the month of July, which I will be spending with my sister who is due to have her third baby on July 14. We are very close and I fully intend to be there before during and after her new baby arrives. We are excited to get up to the mountains and lake setting, and to make some money!

We have been spending a lot lately working on the boat and really readying ourselves to go. It will be nice (and necessary) to replenish the “cruising kitty” as they call it. I have no idea why. We have also been enjoying our friends more, especially at BayFest. We played in sand volleyball tournament, blindfolded dingy race (2nd place) and costume contest (also 2nd place). It was all really fun. We said goodbye on Sunday to some friends who are crossing the Pacific. We might meet up with them again on their side of the world.

As the cruising season begins to close everyone is talking about their summer plans and when they might come back next year. It is a joy to say we are not quite sure where w will be come September.

It’s just a quick update this time, and I will try to keep it up as we head north and internet will become harder to find.

Happy Anniversary, I think

One of the questions I get most often about life on a boat is, “How can you stand each other that often in such a small space?” The answer is, we don’t.

We get fed up with one another and argue over stupid things. We even storm off and go outside to the cockpit. I think this behavior, although not preferred, is common among the first year of marriage as you both find your places in the relationship and your roles as husband and wife. I also think that our situation of spending nearly 24-hours a day together and overcoming new and constant challenges compounds this process a little bit. I like to think we are learning so much about each other that we are like a couple who has been married more than one year… maybe three. We have amazing days often, but I wanted to point out that we are still learning so much about sailing, living aboard and each other, that we often find ourselves stressed.

It is hard to believe one year has gone by since our wedding, but then I sit back and look at all the things that we have done and what has changed since then, and I am amazed. It makes me think that Tim and I can accomplish anything we set out to do. We will be able to take on the whole world, and fully intend to. Not necessarily in our boat, but certainly in some fashion.

Right now we have found ourselves in Marina de La Paz working on what we thought would be a few quick projects before we headed north into the sea. We have made good progress over the last few days polishing the stainless steel, replacing a faulty fuel injector, repairing our dinghy outboard motor and giving everything a good wash down. We also discovered a leak in our starboard fresh water tank and bought a new dinghy. Trade the good with the bad.

We don’t know how much longer this will keep us here in La Paz, so I am beginning to wonder if we will ever go north this year. Perhaps traveling north will have to wait until next season. This is so common among sailors here. Many people come to La Paz with intentions to only stay one or two months and soon they have spent a year here.

I am not really complaining about being in La Paz; it is comfortable and easy and beautiful, but it was not the intention to move to La Paz. The weather has warmed up quite a bit here in the past couple weeks to hit 90. It is nice to wear vacation clothes, but it does get hot working on the boat in the marina. I have tried to set a deadline for leaving La Paz – April 8 – my birthday and Easter this year. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but a girl can dream.

In the mean time we have been really enjoying our friends here while we can. Our friends from Texas came to visit – Torie and Andrew. We took them to the islands and showed them everything we could. We had one pretty bad rolling night, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. We have been soaking up our La Paz friends, too. Everyone has their plans and deadlines to leave, but we all still find ourselves here in sunny La Paz.

For our first anniversary Tim and I celebrated by having a delicious breakfast out in town where we discovered the best jam ever. It is papaya and pineapple and we bought a large amount to-go. We had an argument in the afternoon over something silly and made up in the evening. We took our dessert wine from Napa Valley that we have been saving for more than a year to the beach and had a glass while we looked at the stars. It was perfect – not story book perfect, but real life perfect.

Jasna selling goods at the swap meet in La Paz. The boaters organize a swap meet once a month.

Torie and Andrew checking out the view from the bow.

Torie and Me doing a little sunbathing in Caleta Partida.

One of the best sunsets yet.

Out with Rick and Jasna.

We had an anniversary breakfast where we discover the best jam ever.

Tim opening our wine with the help of his trusty headlamp.

Delicious wine on the beach

Happy Anniversary ; )

Me polishing all the stainless steel.

 

U.S.A. Recap

Welp, our month-long trip in the states flew by in a whirlwind of family, friends and traveling. It was hard to leave everyone, but there is some relief at the thought of being back home on our boat again. We have been living out of bags for six weeks, and it is very old.

We are in Durango, Mexico now, with the first leg of our 3-day trip back to La Paz completed. Tomorrow night we will stay with our dear friends Gary and Lois in Copala before we hop on the ferry back across the sea.

I wanted to give a summary of our U.S. trip and share a few photos from our travels. It was a perfect dose of family and friends that we needed to keep traveling. We are in a weird crossroads between vagabonds and stability.

You may recall that we had to drive all the way up the baja and over to Galveston, TX to meet Tim’s family and work friends for the Centennial Roofing (Tim’s parents’ family business) Cruise. We had a difficult time adjusting to the amount of people and the outrageous expenses on the ship. We were not quite prepared for so much America so fast. We found ourselves a little out of place until we really just cut loose and enjoyed ourselves with family. I got to know Tim’s family much better before the end and It was really the best part of the entire trip. We did really enjoy ourselves on the day we got off the boat in Cozumel – the complete other side of Mexico from where we came.

We wandered off the boat and found ourselves renting a little scooter that we took halfway around the little island of Cozumel that was crawling with tourists. We stopped off at some Mayan ruins and a great hole-on-the-beach restaurant on the way.

Being a good tourist and checking out the Mayan Ruins.

Scooting around the island roads.

We had a relaxing lunch on the beach.

Back to the ship!

After the cruise we left Galveston and headed to Austin to see my aunts, uncles, cousin and grandma. It had been some time since we had been down in Austin and Tim and I have vowed to spend more time there. We loved seeing more family and doing some Austin tourist stuff, too. We ate at the original Chuy’s (Mexican food, of course!) and went bowling at UT.

Sheryl in her "bitchin" bowling shoes.

Uncle Mark won and got a sweet victory kiss. Of course, their son Mason thinks that's gross.

From Austin we headed for Dallas. We tried to see as many friends and family as we could, and enjoyed just hanging out. We went to some favorite places with our favorite people, and we saw tons of movies! We had only seen one flick while in La Paz, so we really got our fill of catching up at the box office. For some reason, I took no photos of our Dallas potions of the trip… I suppose because I don’t know how to be a tourist in my own town. It is really a shame. We did get to soak up our nieces and nephew, my brother and my cousin who is pregnant with her first child. She and my sister are due only three days apart in July and I am just thrilled to be Auntie Mere for my sixth and seventh nieces or nephews!

After about two weeks in DFW we cut out to spend about two weeks in Evergreen with my parents, sister and her family. We played in the snow a lot – going snowshoeing and snowboarding/skiing the weekend we arrived. It had been over a year since Tim and I had gone and it took some warming up too. I took a couple hard falls before I got more cautious. It was so cool to ski with my 4-year-old niece and 6-year-old nephew. They are great skiers already hitting up full green and blue runs with the whole family. Too cute.

My mom, sister and niece snowshoeing near Breckenridge.

Trekking across a frozen lake.

From the Baja Mexican desert to snowy CO.

It was really tough to tell my family goodbye again. It was helpful to know a definite date of when I will see them again for my sister and cousin’s baby shower on May 27. I know I will get another dose of them soon. We headed back down to Dallas for a quick week to celebrate Tim’s birthday and wrap up some last-minute business before leaving. We got to hang out with a bunch of good friends for Tim’s birthday – a couple who we finally convinced to come visit us in La Paz! We will be expecting them on our boat very soon.

Off to Corpus Christi, TX for my friend Heather’s wedding to the love of her life, David. It was a great full weekend of events for the lovely couple. We arrived to their amazing home on Thursday, had bridal party manicures and pedicures, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday, wedding on Saturday and sunday brunch. The entire weekend went perfectly and was so much fun! Heather was the easiest-going bride ever, and she and David really made me and Tim feel so welcomed. It was a perfect end to our U.S. tour.

Me and the beautiful bride at the reception.

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

Tim’s Parents’ Visit

Steve and Debbie were not quite sure what they had signed up for when they decided to visit us in La Paz, but I think they were very pleasantly surprised. They had booked a hotel for the five nights they were here and left the option open to possibly stay on board the Luckiest. They only stayed in the hotel the first and last nights and stayed with us on the boat at the islands the other three nights.

We all had a wonderful time. Tim and I really enjoyed being able to share some of our experiences with family – especially at the islands – and it sounded like Debbie and Steve were enjoying it all. We got to show them the world of discovery we have been finding over the last few months.

We took them to the grocery store and the market the first day and headed out to the islands the next. We did get stopped by the Mexican Navy on our way out of the La Paz channel, but we had heard that they were friendly and courteous ambassadors that simply wanted to make sure nothing funny was going on. This was our first time being stopped, and machine guns always make me a bit nervous, but the troops really were pleasant and kind. One man boarded our boat while another four stayed on theirs. He asked to see our documentation, import permit, passports and if we had life jackets. Thanked us for our time and off they were. No big deal at all. I was glad it was just like we had heard.

As we got out to the channel, I convinced Tim to do a bit of sailing, even though we were making good time with the motor. Tim has decided he doesn’t like sailing too much, but I was able to get him to show Steve and Debbie some of the things we have been learning. We had a great smooth sail in about 10 knots of wind.

Our first stop was Candeleros Bay, which is one of our favorite anchorages because of the great hiking and the cool rock formations. We anchored there about an hour before dark. That night we all piled into our sad little deflating dinghy and zipped around in the dark water watching the bioluminescence glow. It is so magical looking and hard to describe without seeing it. we had a sparkling wake and as we would approach fish we could see them scatter surrounded by glowing plankton. It doesn’t get old seeing that. In the morning we all went up to the beach to do some hiking and exploring. We took Steve and Debbie up the center ridge just as we had done a couple weeks before. It’s great because we were able to get a great view of the bay without having to work too hard. We all went on a hike back into the valley. Steve did hurt his toe, but it was a easy-going hike other than that.

After lunch on the boat, we scooted over to Caleta Partida, a popular and well-protected spot. The winds had kicked up some, and Tim was feeling a bit adventurous, so we put up the sails at his insistence. I think we scared Debbie pretty good this time. We had Steve at the helm, just to give him a bit of a thrill as well, but I’m not sure he was quite ready to take on that task in those winds. We did some whipping back and forth (accidental tacking). We regained control, I took the helm and eased us into the anchorage. After we all settled down, Steve and Tim donned their wetsuits and went looking for some fish.

When they returned (no fish) we all decided to play cards and have something else for dinner. Little did we know that when the guys had returned from spear fishing, the dinghy was not properly secured to the boat, so before Tim and I tucked into bed (in the convertible dinette), he checked outside and we had no dinghy! It had floated off somewhere, and with light winds and lighter current, we knew it couldn’t be too far, but it was far too dark to see anything. This was pretty frustrating for Tim knowing he might be able to save it if he could see, but there was nothing we could do until the morning.

First thing in the morning we all hurried to eat and ready the boat to either go find the dinghy or head back in to La Paz. With no dinghy, there is no way off the boat, so our trip would have to be cut short. I was plotting ways to get a new dinghy and how we would get off the boat, etc. as we pulled up the anchor. Tim and Steve had binoculars on the bow and scouted to find it. It seemed unlikely because it had been missing for about 12 hours and the north winds had really kicked up in the night, which would have blown it out into the open sea. As we came out of the anchorage we checked one side along the shore and turned to head toward the other side. Then, shockingly, Tim spotted it! It had almost made it out of the large cove, but as it neared open sea the waves kept it pinned to the rocks.

Tim quickly suited up in his wet suit and I got him as close to the rocks as I could. He tossed our foam surfboard into the water and jumped in after it. We joked about his Seal Team Six dinghy rescue mission. He was great. He bailed it out, pumped it up, and paddled away from the rocks against the waves until we could pick him up. He was afraid the fuel had water in it, so he waited to replenish it before starting it up. We really were the Luckiest.

The rest of the trip had far less drama, thankfully. Our refrigerator did quit on us, but the food stayed cold enough for the whole trip. We made one more stop on the way back to La Paz – Bahia San Gabriel. This is where Tim and I had spent Christmas. It has a huge white sand beach, and Debbie was really enjoying looking for shells, so we spent lunch there before heading back.

We drove them back to the airport and they were wishing they had planned for more time to stay. Now we are regrouping before we head back to the states ourselves. We are taking the ferry across the sea on Sunday and driving back out to Galveston to join up with more family for the company cruise. Yes, we are leaving our boat on one side of the Mexican coast to go to a cruise on the other side of the Mexican coast. Kind of ironic, but it should be relaxing, which we both need.

After the cruise we are heading up to Austin, Dallas, Evergreen, Colo., and end in Corpus Christi for my dear friend’s wedding on March 3. From there we will head back to our boat here in La Paz. We feel like we are ready to cut strings in La Paz and head north into the sea as soon as we return. We shall see how it goes.

Exploring the rock ridge in Candeleros Bay.

 

Nice View

 

Tim and Steve off to spear hunt and snorkel.

Tim rescuing the dinghy.

 

Steve snorkeling in Caleta Partida

 

Debbie looking for treasures on the beach. She went home with loads of shells.