Sunday, January 29, 2017

The one with all the Friends

Check it out, two blogs in one week!! Pretty good huh? Yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself ;-P This one was easy because we decided to spend our last three months, before returning to the boat, road tripping. Seeing as many friends as possible was at the top of my list. And we did well. My only regret is not pit stopping in Portland to connect with the extraordinary Alli and Brady (who gave me the necklace I now wear). I for sure thought we would have time on the drive back south, but of course we stayed as long as possible in every location rendering us short on time to make it to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving. So we may have missed you guys, but let it be known that you were not far from our thoughts <3 <3 <3

I find blogging to be easier when we are on the boat because it is on my mind more often. Something about the isolation from your normal social activities (yoga, familiar coffee shops and grocery stores, local bars) makes me think about people I care about and what they might be doing at this moment. I will say Instagram helps with that, haha! But for real, when it comes down to it, everywhere we go and everything we do is definitely improved with good company. I can not say enough of the friends we have or have made. I am literally tearing up in this quaint little bar in paradise (the Dinghy Dock in Culebra) as I think about all the people I wish were here with me right now. I could never complain about my life, it is exactly as Jon and I dreamed it!! But when we sell Tarka and become 'dirt dwellers' again, I will be just as happy if not more happy sitting in a dark bar or crumby coffee shop as long as it is with one of my friends. Every one of you is more than I could have ever dreamed and I thank you for being a part of our lives. Maybe I'm close to my period or maybe it's this second G and T, but I love you. I love you all so much. Everyone that is reading this and everyone I have ever met I LOVE you. I look forward to our next meeting. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Symbiosis 2016. Jon, Tim, Eli, Alitia, Skylar and me. Our crew was amazing <3
A few days in Tahoe with my friend Cindy. 

Back to Duluth! Best. Halloween. Ever. Ryan, Jon, Clint, Jess, Ally, me. 

Back to Reno where we left our truck. Kicking it with Nina and Jonas (not pictured ;(

Road trip to Seattle to see my love Brittnie and my new love Esme and Chuck! ;)

Oh and Courtney lives in Seattle too, How Perfect!! Seattle must be pretty great to attract such amazing humans.

Molly and John in Twisp! <3<3<3

Thanksgiving in Santa Cruz with the Martins. Our California family! Rosada Joe and Jameson, muah!

Big Sur

Friends in high places. Rosalia living the good life in Big Sur

Our first visit to Los Angeles

Friends in LA!! 

Carl knows whats up. In J Tree exploring Carl's backyard

WHAAAAAT???? JESSE and JULIE??? Yup that's right, while driving around the Hidden Valley Campsite in Joshua Tree at night we spontaneously ran into some old Duluth friends. (Well, first time meeting Julie but we clicked pretty quick. Obviously ↑ :D )

Okay, enough fooling around! This was our last stop (at the Mojave Desert Sand Dunes!) before returning to our 2nd home, Las Vegas where we spent a few days preparing for our return to the boat, a few days partying with Courtney (eeepic), and a few more days prepping to leave. Somehow we pulled it together and caught our flight with our two checked bags and split for St. Thomas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

From Cuba to MN

It has been almost a year since my last post. Around this time last year Jon and I were in Time Out Boat Yard on St. Martin working on Tarka after the unfortunate beaching incident. Since then a lot has happened.

I love our constantly changing adventurous life style but currently I am enjoying it more than ever since Jon has officially applied to grad programs across the country. He is pursuing a PhD in social work and will begin classes in the fall. So obviously we will be selling Tarka and paying rent somewhere. (where we will come up w that kind of cash every month is beyond me. ;-P) Anyway let me recap on some of the highlights of last February thru August.

I'll begin with a spontaneous 10 day climbing trip to Cuba. Our friends had been encouraging us to join them and at the last minute we decided it was not something we could miss. Our first three days we spent in Havana and that was about all I could stand. Constantly being harassed and cheated gets old. From there we traveled to Viñales for some climbing. The small town vibe suited us much better and we found bikes to rent, horses to ride, climbs to climb, coconuts to drink, and cigars to smoke. A very cool experience although truth be told, I wouldn't go back. Let me just say that their communism doesn't seem to work and I don't think much of the tourist euros are finding their way to the peoples pockets.

After Cuba my brother Josh joined us for some sailing in the BVI's. With his help we flew the spinnaker for the first time and made our way to Culebra, one of the Spanish Islands off of Puerto Rico. Around this time our friends Adam and Kelly invited us to crew for their trip to the Bahamas. Again, how could we pass that up?! So after dropping off Josh we hurried to Virgin Gorda where we hauled out for the season before embarking on an unbelievable and unforgettable trip up through the Bahamas with two of the most amazing people we've ever met.

From there we had an extended layover in New York where we house-sat for our friends Annie and Matias. Such a treat for us to explore such an incredible city and see such wonderful friends. xoxo

After New York we split for MN to (help) plan and participate in our wedding! We were lucky enough to have our St. Thomas friends Matt and Jodi in Duluth (Duluth natives) and took the opportunity to join them, along w Jodi's brother and sister-in-law, for a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. Such a special place, such great people. Definitely worth the longest, coldest motorcycle ride on a dirt rode we have ever had. Yup, we'd do it all over again for a trip like that :)

After that we tied the knot! It was one of those perfect fairy tale kind of days.     

Hiking to some climbs with Ro, Joe, and Jamo <3

Tobacco drying, where the infamous Cuban Cigars come from. 

Climbing in Viñales


My bro was expecting us to sail him to Puerto Rico but when the Bahamas opportunity came up we had to turn around and head back to the BVI's. He was fine, we just flew him from St. Thomas to catch his flight! Haha, what a trooper :)

With Josh to help, we finally had the guts to fly the spinnaker! 

The most incredible opportunities come when you are least expecting... 

If only I knew how to play the piano!

Kelly showing us all how to be amazing.

New York with Annie <3

BWCA trip with Jodi, Matt, Lindsay and Ryan

Canoe fun 

My beautiful sister giving me a hand <3

Mr. and Mrs.!! xoxo

Saturday, April 23, 2016

British Virgin Islands

We will always remember St Martin as one of those unsuspecting corners of the world that we wouldn't have been able to pick out on a map but find yourself there and think back about it as a sort of home.  It's where the boat life began for us and had we not chosen that particular boat in that particular peculiar island I don't know if we'd still be at it.  The people we met helped us through the struggles of trying to do something crazy and unknown in a totally crazy and unkown place and overall, life around St Martin has been pretty cheap and easy.  We reflect back on it with a definite sense of familiar security.

But we've left St Martin behind, for now, deciding that it was time to move on.  We finished the repairs we needed to make to the boat, met up with some old friends, made some new ones, and got unknowingly wrapped up in a party or two on our way out the door.

The sailing to the Virgin Islands was pretty horrible, but the sailing in the Virgin Islands has been horribly pleasant.  The ring of islands that make up the area gives a lot of shelter from big waves, the anchorages tend to be well protected making for good night's sleep, and everything is closely spaced together making the sailing overall less committing than elsewhere in the Caribbean.

We've been introduced to a thriving charter industry here, and along with it, a lot of very awesome young people who work as captains, chefs, and stewardesses on some pretty awesomely plush boats.   They've been gracious enough to share their leftover libations and delicatessens from past week-long trips that they've done with high paying clientele.  We've never ate and drank so good, and also, they have hot showers on their boats, which really has been the guiltiest pleasure of all!  Our eyes have been opened and we now realize that we've been doing it all wrong all along.

But the Virgin Islands have been a very social place for us in a cruising culture that has been mostly well-to-do retirees and this young group's generosity and camaraderie have been a welcome change.

Our month long visas are almost up for the British Virgin Islands already and so we will scoot over to the US Virgin Islands where the Carnival festival is about to get underway.  From there it's a short hop over to the Puerto Rican "Virgin Islands" of Culebra, Culebrita, and Vieques, and then on to the Puerto Rican mainland where our cruising season may have to come to an end.

We will try to put up more photos as we go.

Kick'n it with the Captain and Crew of Lady Katlo: Matt, Hillary, and Chef Richie.  Courtney also came to visit!
Taking the dinghy out to explore a nearby Ship Wreck with Courtney

On Tarka with Captain and Chef/First Mate Adam and Kelly of "La Manguita"
A 'sun downer' spot atop St Peter's Island.  Had a great hike and picnic with Adam and Kelly here!
Enjoying sunset on La Manguita.  Great Bay, St Peter
Drifting wood chill'n on Little Jost Van Dyke island
Hiking the North Sound with Saba Rock below in the distance
Living large at the fancy bars, 'nursing' a $5 happy hour beer so they don't kick us out.

Tarpon feeding at Saba Rock, North Sound, Virgin Gorda

Deserted Chest Set, Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda

Practicing some survival skills...

Doing a little beach bouldering at The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Bikini Bouldering.  Mind the road rash.
The top half of one of our favorites we found.

Raku style pottery at the Full Moon Festival, Trellis Bay, Beef Island
Sculpture fire pit for the Full Moon Party.

Friday, October 16, 2015

#sailing #disaster #hospital #beer

Highlights are easy. I've included a few of those in pictures, but to balance it out I will elaborate a little more on a couple of low-lights. Maybe you have heard, but back in February our boat came very close to sinking in Dominica. Four days before that I had an experience that was equally as disturbing and I think enough time has passed for me to recount it. Also Jon and I didn't end up with Hep C (as far as we know) so that also makes it easier to recount.

It all started while we were hiking around the town of Roseau and ran into a guy selling coconuts. I chugged my coconut in a personal best time of 4 seconds and, after about 5 minutes, I began having severe stomach cramps. We slowly limped our way back to the boat and after about 6 hours of assuming the fetal position and rocking back and forth accompanied by loud complaining directed at Jon we decided that neither one of us could take it anymore and we'd have to go to the hospital.  Spoiler alert: it was a huge mistake.

Just the act of getting from the boat and into the dinghy was painful and labored experience.  It was already 10:00pm so we were tired and hoping this whole ordeal would be over quickly.  After a 20 minute dinghy ride, complete with nausea-inducing waves and sea spray, we paid a taxi $40 USD (Sick or not, paying too much for a cab is a real drag) to get to the nearby hospital where we began our 8 hour wait.  The hospital itself had been donated to the Dominicans in 1995 by their French neighbors.  It was obvious that nothing had been changed or updated since the day of the ribbon cutting ceremony 20 years prior.

It must have been family night at the ER, because there were dozens of sick kids and their worn-out and apathetic parents everywhere.  "Get a free large pizza and 2 liters of Coke for every snot-nosed child who-doesn't-know-how-to-cover-their-cough you bring," must have been advertised in the paper earlier that day.   We were told that there was only one doctor working the ER for the night, but that she would be right with us (eye roll).

Around the 7th hour in the waiting room we thought that we were making progress when we were called into 'Room One'. Room One was a very small room where all of the crying babies, hacking coughs, and really sick people were. Oh and the smell. Of death. This was the office of Dr Grim Reaper.  I suddenly felt that I would rather die quietly in the woods, or by shark attack, than get tortured here. 

Upon entering the room I was given some pill for the pain I was in. I took it and immediately had to throw up. The look of panic on my face alerted Jon to the situation and we rushed a few steps to the bathroom hoping for a respite from the chaos.  Instead we found the tiny room's white tiled walls and floor and white ceramic toilet splattered in blood, like a scene out of "Saving Private Ryan." I could see bright red had prints on the toilet bowl where some violently sick person had kneeled before us, no doubt contemplating the end.

Jon held onto me as we stared at the blood and he remembered the bathroom that was out in the main waiting area. I looked into his eyes and shook my head no. I would never make it. I was begging him for help with the look on my face. He looked at the sink, more blood. He scanned the room and grabbed the small garbage can by the sink just in time.  There was marginal amounts of blood here too, but we made the best of it.  Careful not to touch anything that looked like it could give us Hep C, I exiled the pill she had been given earlier from her stomach.  

We made a desperate escape from Room 1 and found a cleaner bathroom in the main lobby.  We washed our hands until we were sure we had removed several layers of skin.  

I ended up getting an X Ray from a machine that had once helped the Russians launch Sputnik into orbit.  The doctor told me that I didn't have any internal punctures and that my appendix was fine.  The final diagnoses was gastroenteritis.  It was anti-climatic to say the least.  We returned to our dinghy at around 5:00am.  It wasn't there.  It had been swept under the dock and pounded against a rock for who knows how long.  Our outboard motor had sustained considerable damage, but we were able to temporarily fix it long enough to get us back to our boat.  The dinghy, miraculously, wasn't punctured.  I guess springing for the high end model paid off.  

What we didn't know at the time is that the "curse of Dominica" wasn't over.  It would only be a few days later that our boat would be beached.

We are a good team. 

High highs and low lows make a sailor's life go round.

Delicious fresh squeezed fruit drinks... No ice. Damn.

The hospital in Dominica. Unfortunately we did not take a picture of the bloody murder scene from the bathroom. Jon literally refused claiming it was too grotesque. Of course now that so much time has passed he regrets that decision. Words do not do that memory justice.

A sailors worst nightmare. After 3 days of being sick I finally felt well enough to leave the boat and go explore the island a little. Within 1/2 hour of us going ashore the mooring broke. 

A Sailors worst nightmare, part 2. If the waves had been any bigger, Tarka could have sunk. It would have been a total loss. This experience made us question our desire to continue sailing. We decided to continue on. How we feel about that decision is still in question ;)

Ahhh. I remember these beers well.This was in The Saints, a chain of islands close to Dominica. After leaving Dominica in a soggy, diesel smelling, disorganized boat I was in a bad mental state. Now, I'm not much of a drinker but drinking seemed like such a good way to take my mind off of our current living situation. After our second round I was drunk and the state of the boat didn't seem so bad! In fact, it seemed almost funny.  I finally understand why sailors have a reputation of being drinkers. And I'm on board.

Our friends met up with us in St. Kitts! Five in the dingy, fun day trip to Nevis.