As we were coming down the coast, I was pretty appalled at the lack of “free” content about where to go, what to do, etc. There are some great cruiser guides you can buy, but even the brand new one is out of date because of how quickly things change in Mexico. With that in mind I’ve tried to get out the word whenever I can by sharing information and here’s the latest installment.
After our successful fall navigation of the west coast of the United States, winter and spring cruise of Mexico, and summer Land Yacht tour of the United States we’ve decided we’re ready and excited to re-engage in our careers. We own nothing but Deep Playa, her contents and a couple of boxes at our Moms’ houses. We have no storage unit full of junk and no property to which we need to return. So the obvious first question is where to do want to live?
We’ve given a lot of thought to how we’ve been living and here’s what we’ve learned.
We love the ocean even more than we did in Seattle. The seabirds, the whales, the fish. Crystal clear, green warm waters. Long beaches to run on. All amazing!
There is a lot to be said for amazing weather. Although, Patrick could definitely handle some cold crappy weather every once in a while.
We have grown to love this more relaxed cruising lifestyle.
Cute dusty Mexican towns are nice to visit, especially if there is surf, but we get bored living there.
As in our house, in our condo and on the boat, we continue to enjoy living in a simple space with modest amounts “stuff”.
We miss the variety of dining and entertainment options modern US cities brought to our lives. Coastal Mexico is very homogenous.
We miss the Asian influences of Seattle. Especially the food!
Living at anchor can be isolating, inconvenient and it’s hard to sleep more often than you’d think.
We miss the convenience land mobility brings to life. Being able to jump on the scooter or a car and go someplace or get something.
We need a bed which can be accessed from the sides, so one person isn’t crawling over the other to enter and exit.
We miss having a tinker space or workshop to work on geeky stuff and projects.
Dawn needs to be able run when she wants and go to the gym.
We eat a lot of veggies and miss the variety and high-quality of produce available in the US.
Dawn misses a full size kitchen and pantry full of options.
Long hot showers with water pressure so strong you can barely stand-up.
We miss really good wine. And Matty won’t bring us any!
We miss friends our own age. We miss younger friends. We miss geeks. We miss our kind of weirdos. We miss the depth of friendships and conversations you get from living in one place. We miss having a place to host our friends.
We miss the collaboration and excitement that a great job brings to life. Working together with others to make something new. Growing our own skills. Mentoring others and seeing them grow.
With all that in mind, we started to think about where to live and really the only two coastal cities with adequate job options and access to the Ocean are San Diego and Honolulu. Ultimately, while Honolulu may be more complicated logistically and have a smaller job market, we think the lifestyle which is offered there is more appealing. We also have friends who live there already which is a huge bonus.
Will we sail to Hawaii? Living in a marina again would be fun. Living in a marina offsets a lot of the “living on the hook” inconveniences. But, in our mind, Hawaii is not is not a great place to live aboard a sailboat while working. The day and weekend trips seem limited and we’re not day sailors or racers. We think a power boat or catamaran would be more ideal in Hawaiian waters. It’s not a done deal, but we’re looking into selling Deep Playa here in Mexico. We have yet to meet with a broker, but we’re gathering information and looking into our options. It might turn out to be better to take the boat up to San Diego. We don’t know enough yet to make that decision. If we go to San Diego instead of Honolulu then living aboard is a more viable option and one we’d consider. It would be very hard to say goodbye to Deep Playa, but it’s just as exciting to think about what we’re going to do next and to get on with doing it.
So there it all is. We’re getting jobs. Honolulu is our favorite option. We don’t plan to take the boat to Honolulu. We have no precise timeline, but we definitely won’t be in Mexico for the summer.
Overall, we really enjoyed the Land Yacht and mostly I think we like the convenience of land. On the boat, when Dawn wants to go for run, she has to row the dinghy in, drag it up the beach, clean off her feet, put on her running shoes. A half-hour later the run begins. On the Land Yacht, you put your shoes on and you open the door and you run!
For me, I liked working on the RV. I liked crawling underneath it. I liked not worrying it would sink if I did something wrong. It was awesome to have my older brother (and one time mechanic) help me work on the engine. I love me a project and our crappy motor home was definitely a project.
Shopping and dining was also a treat. That had to do with land, and also with being in the US. There’s just sooo much stuff in the US. It’s truly amazing how convenient the US is. Things which will take an entire day of busing and walking to get in Mexico take 10 minutes in the US. You want something? Pull off the freeway and get it.
The only thing wrong with our gear\setup was not having a second vehicle. RV Parks are not located as close to things as you might have thought. They are frequently 20-30 miles away from the stuff you want to go to see. Our RV was small enough, we’d just drive it there and look for parking, but there were definitely times we sat tight at the RV Park because we didn’t want to unhook the RV. We had bikes, but again frequently we were too far away for our comfy beach cruiser bikes to make that kind of trip reasonable. Public transportation was also a failure in most places. A small car, motorcycle or scooter would have been great. A scooter would have been limiting though since it cannot go freeway speeds. If we RV again, we’ll have a second vehicle.
The route we went on was not ideal. We drove across the US SW in August. The A/C in the engine didn’t work. That sucked! Next US trip will be coastal or mountains for sure. I would also like to go back to the desert SW in the winter someday. From the Grand Canyon (loved!) to the Appalachians (Dollywood was fun) was mind numbing, tedious and devoid of things we found interesting. Don’t need to go back there!
It did teach us a few things about what we like and need in our personal space and our lifestyle. These will be things that we’ll use as we move forward with future adventures. As an adventure this was a good RV practice run.
Back in October, we spent two weeks putting the boat back together and getting things ready. It was still pretty hot then and I (Patrick) was a pretty uncomfortable during the days. It always takes me some time to adjust. All of our (read Dawn’s) work prepping the boat before we left paid off. We had only a tiny bit of mold on some clothes, and that had happened before as well. But the boat itself was spotless. Having Rob from sv Katrina Liana open/close the boat and keep an eye on things for worth every penny!
When we left last season, my free surfboard was on its last legs and was about to break. I gave it to one of the kid boats for them to play with. I hear it got good use and eventually did break. It was part of the plan to get a new board here in Mexico from a local shaper. I wanted to spend my money here and I wanted my first new board to be from the place I learned to surf.
Tzahui Poo is a local surfer and owner of a family run surf rental and lessons shop in Mita called Mictlan Surf. I met with Tzahui at his home and shaping loft. We went over what I wanted and I was able to pick out the colors and put my own logo on the board! All of that for 2/3rds of what I would have paid for a new mass produced board. El Chicharo is 9’1” x 23” x 2-3/4” a basic longboard shape. Such a pleasure to ride! I dinged the board on like the 3rd day and had to send it back to Tzahui for repair. He loaned me a Bruce Jones. It didn’t have the specs on the bottom, but it was a bit narrower and less buoyant. I could ride it, but it was a struggle to catch waves. That’s more a function of my skill level right now. My board is perfect for me right now and will be a good longboard for me in the future too. I will definitely want to get some other boards though as I get better.
Anyway, since I got my new board, we’ve been up in Punta de Mita. The first week the swell was awesome with some 4-5 foot waves. PERFECT! That went away though and the past week or so, there’s been a lot of reading going on. I’ve also been watching Jacqueline Gargus’ Architecture 5110 from THE Ohio State University class on iTunes (Knowlton School of Architecture). I can tell she’s the kind of professor I would have enjoyed when I was in school. When we’re not filling our minds, we’ve been laying around on our boards looking at the fish, watching the pelicanos and terns catching fish on the reef, and cleaning the bottom of the boat.
Last year we let the bottom cleaning get away from us a bit. This year I think we need to be in the water once a week to clean up Deep Playa. There are two basic things we get on the bottom. First, a ring of slime around the waterline which is scrubbed off with a scotch bright pad. Second, barnacles. The barnacles are tiny, less than ¼” around right now. They have to be scraped off with a putty knife. It’s not hard work, you just run the knife along the hull and they pop-off. The hardest part is cleaning the entire bottom with a 3” wide blade! I’ve been thinking about making something about a foot wide out of scrap metal. I think it would be perfect.
Lots of routine, lots of relaxing, a bit of boredom. Another day in paradise. More on what’s to come next…
We’ve been aboard Deep Playa for about 5hours now. We’re getting things organized, unpacking and sweating a lot! All of our boat prep and the boat sitters paid off, we have zero mold and things are going together pretty quickly. Mexico is reminding why weleft in the summer as the air and water temp are still 90F! More on everything later, just wanted the word to get out that we’re home safe and sound.
I am really far behind on blog posts due to the lack of good internet. So here is Flagstaff’s blog post…but we are currently in Nashville, TN.
We were happy to get the hell outta Phoenix after record 113 degree temps sent us quickly heading north to Flagstaff. We were even more excited that it gave us an opportunity to spend some time with our friend Karin. After climbing from 1,500 feet in elevation to over 7,500 feet we enjoyed the greener more lush landscape and much lower temps that Flagstaff had to offer. We decided to stay at another KOA, KOA Flagstaff, which makes our third KOA on this trip so far. It was clean and beautiful with the added feature of being just feet away from some of the best hiking in the world. Karin was very gracious and took us on a little tour of downtown Flagstaff. I have never been so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Flagstaff is my kinda town. Karin warned that it has very strong gravitational pull and I totally agree. There are tons of people out and about on bikes and walking around just enjoying the outdoors. It has some awesome paved trails that lead in and out of downtown and follow the historical Route 66! It was so great to spend some QT with Karin and meet her roommate and doggies. Karin is a huge outdoor enthusiast and she graciously gave me a list of recommended trails to try for my morning run. So the next morning, it was bright and sunny and I was rearing to hit the trails. The KOA backs right up to the Elden Lookout trail and the Fatman’s Loop Trail. The trail climbs 2,500 feet in about 3 miles and ends right on top of Mount Elden at the Peaks Ranger station. I started out running and scampering up the many many switchbacks. The views were spectacular and so breath-taking that I had to stop and take a few pictures. I ran up the trail until it got so steep that I had to climb over big rocks and up stairs. I made it up there in one hour and ten minutes! So for those friends back in Seattle, Mt. Elden is about the same elevation as Camp Muir on Mount Rainier. I took in the amazing views of downtown Flagstaff and could even see Meteor Crater in the distance. After some rest and pics I descended the trail quickly and made it back to the trail head in one hour. But man, were my quads screamin’! And I loved every minute of it! After we spent some time with Karin we decided to visit the Lowell Observatory. If you don’t know what the Lowell Observatory is, it is the place where Pluto was discovered back in 1930! Man it was so cool. Pea and I spent several hours there walking around from lecture to lecture and movie to movie. The volunteers that work there are absolutely wonderful and engaging. My favorite part of the tour was seeing the Clark Refracting telescope, built in 1896 for $20,000! Today it is still used for education purposes. We also got to see the telescope that Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto in 1930. After we spent hours walking around the campus we were told that we could stick around until after dark and look through some of the telescopes! Once they set everything up we were able to look through the Clark telescope to view the M11 Wild Duck Cluster, which is an open cluster formation of over 2,900 stars which are about 220 MILLION YEARS old! Amazing…then we got to look through another telescope to see the globular cluster M13 in the Hercules constellation and Vega, the brightest star in the Lyrae cluster. But the best part was seeing Saturn’s rings and it’s moon, Titan! I can’t even describe to you how breath-taking it was to see the rings so vividly. Pea asked the volunteer if he had any newspaper for me to stand upon (insinuating that I would pee the floor from my excitement…very funny Pea). As Karin mentioned, Flagstaff has a very strong gravitational pull…and she is right. We are going to stop back in Flagstaff after we leave the Grand Canyon.