Friday, November 29, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
It is almost Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful. To count our blessings. And I am really, really trying. Trying not to be discouraged. Trying to combat the part of me that is NOT in love with this adventure. Trying to find the good in every day. Trying to give in and enjoy the experience. Trying to be grateful for the chance to be living my husband’s dream accompanied by my three amazing children. And since we are therefore also approaching the end of November, it means that we’ve been doing the “cruising thing” now for three whole months. I think that typically this is a time when people like me who are new to cruising hit some kind of “come to Jesus” wall about the whole experience. I find myself incredulous that it has only been three months and not a little freaked out that we have SEVEN more months to go. I have not written for a while. I guess part of me has collapsed into some stage of grief about the whole connectivity issue and its frustrations and part of me is not sure how to write this next entry. I don’t want anyone to think the wrong thing if I were to vent or express out loud some of the emotions I have been going through lately with this “adventure”. I will admit that I did hit some low points lately: the first was when after returning from my first shopping trip to the Mega in San Juan del Cabo, I discovered that my iPhone was no longer in my purse. I have not been using it as a phone but just that day we figured out how to Skype call for cheap and my phone was perfect for that. Also, I was using it as a camera. And now it is gone. No blog photos. My Nikon is not easy to drag around with me. My connectivity to the world FURTHER diminished; I am yet further hobbled. And then, even lower I sank when I slipped in the cockpit while anchored in Ensenada de los Muertos and severely twisted my ankle (yes, I know, I tend to do this) and cried and cried and cried. My family stood there staring at me as they had not seen me cry since the last time I fell with my ankle, in Florida, just before our wedding four years ago. They did NOT know what to do. It hurt, for sure. But it was also some sort of a wall that I hit. The before-the-last straw or something. I just wanted it all to be over. I am seasick or have headaches most of the time. I am sweaty and stinky and salty and dirty and tired. The kids are frustrated and frustrating. I HATE THE HOMESCHOOLING. Bad moods abound. The food thing is way too hard. I feel lonely and DONE. And then, as if I wasn’t feeling badly enough, my ankle was twisted and swollen and painful and getting around or even off the boat became a huge issue. Perhaps it was some sort of a sign. Let’s just take a moment here, Jen, and show you that it CAN get worse so stop your pathetic whining!!! All my life I have loved travel and traveling. I love exploring different cultures and I love languages. But cruising is quite a different way to travel. We are constantly moving. A day or two here and then off again. We kiss the shores and stop briefly at marinas or anchorages. I venture boldly into shopping centers for food and then scuttle back to the boat. We are with other cruisers and ex-pats but rarely get to engage with Mexico or Mexicans. It is quite hard on the kids, really, thus far, and I am not sure how to make things better. Samey is getting pretty wigged out. Exhausted. Talking about home all the time. Wants to see her friend Keegan and her cousin Cora. Wants Fresca. Get me that NOW, she says to me. Constant defiance and melt-downs. Angry, mean talk and she is even physically acting out. She is constantly asking for screen time to escape. She is dirty, stinky and covered in mosquito bites. She is having poop issues. Is scared by the diarrhea we all have. Ben is fairing well as he gets to spend time with a couple of friends he has made with other kid boats but when it comes to his schoolwork, things are dismal. Also covered in bug bites, he has trouble with the basic maths that were never an issue for him, his spelling tests are getting worse not better, his handwriting is abysmal, barely legible, his ability to focus on school is so awful and so incredibly frustrating that it makes us scream and pull our hair out just to get anything done at all with him every day. We’ve adapted our approach to try and lessen the stress it is for us all, with Marcus doing the math with him first and enhancing it with math fact drilling, then we have him write a journal entry (two half pages of writing), and then I attempt to do a few of his other subjects before he lapses completely and can’t focus at all. He is doing a pretty good job with reading, though. Comes easily and he seems to be still enjoying the Charlie Bone series. We have some new friends who finally decided to just STOP schooling on the boat of their 12 year old son, Ben, for their sanity. I find it brave and bold. Their son is a smart and charming young man. It is very tempting… Max is actually doing pretty well. Super helpful with the boat and the kids. Not tidy – his v-berth room is atrocious once again - or clean – he likes to be salty and sleep outside - and school continues to be a challenge. It is an independent study curriculum and he is not an independent worker. But Marcus sets his daily program and this helps a lot. He fell behind in his Algebra work during the Baha Ha-Ha and was having a hard time understanding it on his own but our friends on Sand Dollar have stepped in to assist and are helping him get past the horribly written math lesson he is on currently. We stopped doing the other subjects for a while to help him get caught up. He is probably doing the best of the kids right now. I am proud of him. We are currently in La Paz. It is a charming place, a famous stop for cruisers. It is FULL right now as the Ha-Ha fleet has inundated the town and marinas. It seems everywhere we go we are surrounded by others from the fleet and this is both nice and frustrating. I never thought that what we were doing would be “original” or “new” but seriously. We are NOT breaking any new ground here. And everyone seems to be doing the same thing we are. AT THE SAME TIME. But again, we’ve met some great people. Today, I snuck away with my new friend Julie from Sea Otter (Bend, Oregon) and another couple – Rick and Patty - on Fais Do Do (Los Angeles, CA) and we took the free Marina shuttle in to town. We went to some really quirky stores in the center of town. One called La Super even had baby pins with plastic duckies on them for cloth diapers! I had not seen them for ages! Bins and bins of the craziest stuff. Then we hopped on a bus (hilarious!) and went to the Mega grocery store and the bank. Then, a cab ride back. I loved it because I was kid-free, Julie is deep and fun, I got to actually see town and people and stores and a bus. And the grocery store was a little less of a mystery this time, too. Marcus has followed, for a long time, a blog by a couple on a boat called Rebel Heart. They were here in La Paz and have two little girls – one 3 and one 9 months old who has chicken pox! We met them and they were INCREDIBLY helpful to us with tons of tips and ideas and Charlotte even went with me to the Mega, showed me some items she likes and helped me at Telcel to get an USB internet stick for my computer which entailed standing in line and at the counter for over an hour (her one afternoon off from her little ones!) just to purchase the stick and get it running. But now I should have internet when I need it when we can’t find internet cafes and hotspots. I should say I feel relieved and part of me does. Charlotte was inspiring because she is so deep into cruising. They will leave in 2014 to do the “Pacific Puddle Jump” which is a fleet that leaves from Mexico to do the Atlantic crossing over to the French Polynesia. With a toddler and an infant. She is amazing! And she freely admits how incredibly hard this is. To cruise. With children. And all of the rest of it. And she does it with grace and humor. A true inspiration for me. We’ll be here at the marina called Palmira through Thanksgiving. There is a Thanksgiving celebration here on Turkey Day that we’ll take part in. 200 people and 25 turkeys. Should be amusing. Until then we’ll continue to take care of some boat projects. Today, we had the boat cleaned and buffed and waxed. Appa looks great. The steering wheel and the propeller are concerns. We need propane. I will admit, however, since I am spilling my guts, that Marcus is lucky that I am such a newbie at sailing and boats. This is NOT the boat I would have chosen for cruising if I had known then what I know now and had seen the other boats people are on for this kind of a trip. Appa is really a racing boat, not a cruising boat. But, she is a great boat, too. Just not really as comfortable or as cruising friendly as MOST of the other boats I have seen! The marina we are in is decent. Our slip is convenient, our neighbors are interesting, the pool is pathetic but at least the kids can swim. We are going to attempt (I hope!) to go out on the dinghy to see and possibly swim with the whale sharks. Our next move, next weekend, will be to do an overnight passage of the Sea of Cortex to Mazatlan. Great. Seasick again!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
|Our pirate captain as we left San Diego with the 2013 Baja Haha fleet!|
And I have to tell you... the food part of the trip did actually work out pretty well. We got to the end of our ability to prepare full healthy meals but there was still food here and the kids did not starve. Yesterday, I put my provisioning prowess to the test and went to the "Mega" grocery store here in town to go shopping. Yes, grocery shopping... AGAIN! But as much as I hate grocery shopping and organizing meals, doing it here is a bit more challenging and exciting. For sure. My friend Shauna on Sand Dollar did a much better job at provisioning in San Diego than I did. She had fruit to spare! Gave us her last bottle of white wine for Ilse and Pete! Brought us bread... But I had 7 and one of them was Max! And a beebee... always grazing... The Mexican grocery store was HUGE. Yes, MEGA. And it was full of tourists, not many locals. I wandered the isles amazed at the products, some similar, most not. Wishing I could go shopping and home to cook with a Mexican mother and see what she would do with the meats and the vegetables I saw there. A note on our crew: Ilse and Pete flew home yesterday after two weeks with us on the boat. Max is glad to have his V-berth back! And I would be lying if I didn't say I was glad to get back to being 5 on board. Here are some photos from the Baja Haha:
|Shauna and Easton of Sand Dollar|
|Ben's buddy Easton from Sand Dollar|
|Leaving San Diego|
|We caught a Dorado! Yum.|
I will write more in the next few days with more details of our journey. Have been attempting now for three days to get this entry done and sent. I know it is missing ALOT. And I will attempt to get caught up. Homeschooling has been largely neglected the last few weeks. I am attempting to make peace with it and figure out how to move forward without going crazy. Sand Dollar kids are doing one hour of reading, one hour of writing and one hour of math. Our school takes HOURS. Calvert. I am SO TIRED of it. Trying to figure out how to carve it down to something more manageable...
Sunday, October 27, 2013
It is 6 am. I took the minivan that we have until 2:30. I am at Starbucks. Sipping a very hot Grande half-decaf/half regular Americano with cream. To get the dreaded "internet fix" and try to finish up some loose ends and to blog one more time before leaving the US of A. Tomorrow. Trying to focus my eyes. Why so early you ask, dear reader? Because today is our last day before we leave the comforts of San Diego and head into Mexico on the Baha Haha. Because at 7:30 I am picking up Shauna from Sand Dollar and we are heading to Von's and Trader Joe's for provisioning. Taking advantage of the car and wanting to get the freshest food possible meant going at the last minute. Those of you who know me know also that, next to getting gas and homeschooling, there are few things I like less than grocery shopping. Even with lists, I get in there and my brain goes blank. Scrambled. I start grabbing and then I get home and have no meals. EVERY time I leave a grocery store I say, "Well. There goes another 1/2 hour of my life WASTED". But today, I can't just go a few days later to fix it all. Today, Brave Jen is going to earn her American Provisioning Badge. It is my biggest test ever. Buying food to fit into a small boat that will 1. adequately feed 7 people (Pete and Ilse included), 2. keep and not spoil for the next 2 weeks, 3. on a boat, 4. that fits in small, potentially wet places, 5. that will satisfy the voracious and various appetites of my kids, their father and my in-laws and meet their nutritional needs, and 6. impress everyone. Impossible, you say? YES!!!! But I am going to triumph over this task! (Brian get my badge ready!!) How you ask? I have NO IDEA. I have a list. Partially in my head and partially on paper. And I am hoping Shauna, who is one of the more prepared people I know, will have some good ideas! And, once again, Dear Lee came to San Diego yesterday to see us and Pete and Ilse and brought us our first dinner... Spinach Lasagna! What an amazing woman. Just having that first meal has given me strength. I am also following some advice from "The Essential Galley Companion" by Amanda Swan-Neal. She has some great recipes and suggestions for storage and provisioning. When we leave tomorrow on the Haha race, we have just two stops between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas - Turtle Bay and Mag Bay. And there is very little shopping available at either place. And there are over 160 boats traveling with us so competition. And we leave on the 28th of October and arrive on the 9th of November. Think of me with each bite you take during that time, will you? OK. Enough self-pity!!! We'll eat canned food and LIKE IT. Since my last post, we've been busy. We went to SeaWorld. TWICE! I loved both times. I love SeaWorld. I love the Orcas, I loved the Beluga whales, I loves the polar bears, I loved the dolphins, the Pilot whales, the Bat Rays... I loved it. We went with my mother on Wednesday with my mom and then decided to go again with our friends from Sand Dollar on Friday since they had not been yet and Marcus wanted to go with us this time. I would even go again, I liked it that much.
On Thursday, the day in between, my mother flew home... it was sad to see her leave. She is having such a hard time with my father... I hate leaving her "on her own".
After she left, we hung out with "Uncle Pete" and tried to take out that $2.5M Azimut but someone had hit the wrong button and the darn thing shut down completely so we couldn't. Marcus and Max did some errands with JC and Nate from Sand Dollar while Ben and Easton played with Shauna on their boat and Kaley, Sam and I hung out on our boat. There was a Baha Haha party in the evening. We met some really nice people and found another boy named Ben D. from Sea Otter who is 12 and the kids had a great time together. Ben and Easton are like two peas in a pod. Such great friends already! So sad how few kids there are this year. I am disappointed about that. I think Samey is the youngest Haha-inian. Max had fun throwing Easton and Ben into the pool there for a long time. He is such a trooper. SUCH a great person already and I am so thankful that he is with us. He helps tremendously with the boat, with sailing, with the kids. He is easy and fun. The other night, with my mom, we went to Jimmy's and the waiter, who was from Delaware!, was shocked that he was only 16 and said he wouldn't have carded him if he'd ordered a drink! Crazy...
And Samey, fell asleep under her towel.
Poor thing. It has been a tough week for everyone in a lot of ways. Basically, no school has happened since we got to San Diego. Lots of people. Lots of shopping. Lots of swimming. Lots of stress. Late nights, little sleep. It'll be nice to get underway. With food. Lots of food. Last night we had fun with Lee and John, Pete and Ilse and Pete Jr. and Betty who took us out on an absolutely gorgeous Zeelander for a tour of the San Diego superyachts and the air craft carriers. Gorgeous. Ben got to drive again and so did Max and Marcus and even Samey!!! Gorgeous boat. Lovely friends. We went to Joe's Crab Shack and parked the boat right there and had an amazing dinner... thanks to Opa Z. It was a lovely last "hurrah" of luxury. Gorgeous boat. $1.3M. Today is the big Baha Haha costume kick-off party... We're all going as pirates! This is our pirate princess:
I've got to sign off now and go get Shauna. Wish me luck. My next post will be from Mexico. Who knows where from!?? We do have a sat phone if anyone needs to reach us, call my brother. We get free texts. From that point on, not sure what else. Our friends, Chuck and Marge who are down there already sent us a long email with tons of "insider tips" for internet there. The email started with, "Hi Jen, You all seem to be internet junkies, so I thought I'd pass on Mexican internet 101..." I had to laugh!! Withdrawal here we come!!!! I'd post the entire tutorial here, it is so helpful, but that would bore the most of you... Just very thankful to them.
|Ben, "Dora" and Shamu|
|Bat Ray tank|
|Elmo and Cookie Monster|
|The underside of a Beluga whale!|
|At the show "Pet's Rule" that we loved!!|
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
|He found Minecraft stuff at Target! Hi Matthew!!!|
|Driving the yacht!|
|Birthday Momma and her sweet princess|
|"Dora the Explora"|
|Pete Zaleski and my mom|
|Love, love, love...|
Friday, October 18, 2013
Surprisingly, our internet connection (or lack of it) has continued to plague me. Marcus' phone is back so he regularly tethers off in his corner to feed his addiction but the rest of us have not had luck in the places we stopped at as far as broad connectivity is concerned. It is challenging when we are SO dependent on the internet. Amazingly so. Tomorrow, finally, we'll arrive in San Diego. This is the final stop before we head to Mexico. It is where we will be meeting the other 163 boats that are also doing the 2013 Baha Haha with us. And where Pete and Ilse (my in-laws) will join is to do the rally with us - can't wait but 7 on this boat is going to be challenging!!! As we get closer and closer to San Diego and our imminent departure for Mexico, I find myself worrying about what this next phase will bring. Marcus is getting all ramped up again, like he was before leaving Seattle. Stressed and grumpy. He shared with me today his very long list of "to-do" things that need to be done before we leave for Mexico. None of them really had to do with me and the kids. Mostly they were boat-related. I feel like we have put off a lot, expecting to be able to do it when we get to San Diego... but I can already tell and am already dreading it - we're not going to be able to have a calm, easy week in San Diego before we go. We'll do what we can but I feel so unprepared. My list has things like getting Halloween costumes for the kids, going to Target, going to Costco... provisioning! I need a haircut! A pedicure? Sea World Legoland? HHhmmm... Doesn't look like I'll have much free time to homeschool...! Hahahaha. We've been having tons of stuff sent to Marcus' step-brother Pete who has been incredibly generous and helpful with us as far as mooring and accepting packages for us!! We can't wait to meet him and his wife. And also Marcus' internet buddy Michael who has been "the 6th at our table" for the entire trip as far as tips and support go for Marcus!! Can't wait to meet him and his family, too... But San Diego is for tomorrow... For now, I am writing this entry from Oceanside, California. 40 nautical miles north of San Diego. Our last stop before the end of Phase Two. (Phase One was get the boat to San Francisco and Phase Two is get the boat to San Diego.) We like it so much here, it is so much more of our style than the last places we stopped. Southern California is pretty "posh" and there is SO MUCH MONEY down here. Amazing. Since I last wrote, we visited Avalon on Catalina Island after Two Harbors and before heading back to the mainland. It was lovely but also felt like the South of France. Huge yachts, a jazz festival, hydrofoils arriving from Long Beach, a beautiful casino building. Once again, we caught a mooring buoy and I hung clothes on the life line and was probably the only one in the entire gigantic harbor to do so. The boat next to us actually closed its shutters! And we dinghied into town, walked around, had lunch, went to an arcade, went to the grocery store and then headed back to the boat for dinner. I'm glad we saw it but was fine with leaving and going to Newport Beach. We had reciprocal moorage at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Cub there but, as we arrived on a Monday afternoon, it was closed up tight. We could shower and used the rest rooms but the pool, etc., was closed. Like a ghost town. Mondays and Tuesdays. So fancy that you don't see people on their yachts, only the cleaning and polishing crews. We planned to go to Disneyland the next day so it wasn't that bad. Quiet. But Samey, Ben and I were getting sick. Getting the cold that Max had when he got back from Seattle. I was worried about Disneyland but we had been promising Ben for weeks and couldn't see NOT going. In the end, we went for him but he probably had the worst time of us all! First of all, it is all so overwhelming...! Which park? Disneyland of California Great Adventure? Well, after our pricey cab ride there, the decision was left to me and I chose "classic Disneyland". Why, you ask? Because I wanted to do "It's a Small World" with Sam more than anything else!! I could write on and on about the day but suffices to say that it was a HOT day, Ben and I did not feel well, Sam was in heaven, Max and Marcus got some good laughs in and some good rides in and a good time was had by all.
By 5 pm, we were all DONE. It was closing at 6 for a Halloween Party so we were lucky to get to see all these people coming in in their amazing costumes. Our favorite was this Asian man wearing a Colonel Sanders costume complete with beard and carrying his baby dressed as a chicken in a KFC bucket in front of him. Not original but endearing! But we did not get to see the evening festivities that everyone raves about. We'll go back. And do it the right way next time! I do have to say two things in closing on the subject of Disneyland: As I'd hoped, Samey LOVED "It's a Small World" and squealed with joy throughout the entire ride. Magical. And the second thing is that The Star Wars franchise purchase/presence in Mickey's house is just plain ODD. We taxied back and were POOPED. Wednesday night, some dear friends of Ilse's - Lee and John - came to rescue us. Literally.They were so lovely and kind. They came with TWO cars (se we'd all fit!) early to take us to dinner so that they could shuttle us to Minnie's marine supply store and then to Trader Joe's (tingle, tingle, joy, joy) and Chase bank. Then, back to the boat, where she had presents for us (including wine!) and then they drove us (again two cars!) down to Huntington Beach for a walk along the pier and an extravagant dinner at Sandy's (below Duke's)... Such lovely, kind people. They spoiled us!!! I am so grateful.
We had to get off the dock at Bahia and, since the pool was FREEZING, we weren't eager to stay another night so we moved out to a mooring ball at Balboa Yacht Club and it was very, very nice. They have a free shuttle boat to land and people were really nice there. We might have left Newport Beach at this point but I really, really wanted to see some other old friends of mine who live in Norco and who I have no seen for 12 or 13 years. Again, we were spoiled. Lovely Anna and Bob (with daughter Sophia in tow - a wise, sweet first grader!) drove out to see us, brought presents and wine and cheese and took us to an amazing Mexican restaurant.
We had such an amazing time with Anna, Bob and Sophia. I love love love them so much! Anna is possibly my blog's greatest fan... she even brought a bottle of Malbec because she read on the blog that we love it!! (Hi Anna! Love you!). It was by far one of our favorite nights out of the whole trip. Can't wait to see them again, hopefully in the spring at their place in Rosarito!!! This morning, we motored down 30 nautical miles to Oceanside.
We felt very at home here from the very first and everyone has been so friendly. Many live-aboards who have been nothing short of generous and helpful. I did some laundry (woo hoo) and the kids fed some fish near one of our neighbors and tried to help one of them who has somehow gotten a pink plastic bottle top/ring around its head... they were unsuccessful but a very nice neighbor here named Kelly gave the kids tons of food to feed them with. It was really nice.
Everyone remembers our friends from Sand Dollar here and we are eager to see them again in San Diego tomorrow... at the first of many Baha Haha gatherings!
|Marcus with John and Lee|
|Aren't they LOVELY???|
|Three Fish Feeders|