Post 30: Family Road Trippin’ (part uno)

~Jen~

Well, well, well.  We have been busy little bees, moving and shaking around the desert and beyond this summer.  I won’t recount it all (Orange County, Joshua Tree, Mojave National Preserve, Red Rocks NRA, Lake Mead, Minnesota, Tennessee…), but I do want to take a moment to chat about our one visit back to the Bay to check on Gone Tomorrow.  This was such a fantastic adventure for our little tribe, that I’m going to break it up into three posts.

PART UNO: LAS VEGAS TO THE BAY

With a rental car in hand and a trunk filled with camping and hiking gear along with Ruby’s “boat coat,” we headed west through the Mojave Desert.  After a bit of whining, Ruby convinced us to turn her car seat around, and for the first time in her life, she was able to face forward in the car.  Who doesn’t enjoy taking in the view on a long road trip?

Our first stop (and incidentally Ruby’s first National Park) was Death Valley where Ruby exclaimed, “Hot, hot!!”

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Next stop, the Sierras!  I’ve been a lucky girl and have been able to drive through this area of the good ole USA on several occasions, but this was the first time I’ve gotten to do so with a) my amazing little family and b) on my own terms, without being a tour guide for a bunch of foreign travelers on a tight schedule.

What can I say?  I’m in love.  I can definitely see owning a little piece of land somewhere near Bishop, CA with it’s amazing access to mountains, snow boarding, mountain biking and dirt roads for a dual sport motorcycle.  I digress, that’s a dream for another time.

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Free camping spot, just north of Bishop, CA.

Wild Baby

Ruby could be Marmot’s newest spokesperson!

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Breakfast of champions

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Exploring with Daddy.

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Next stop, a breakfast in Mammoth and then onto Yosemite National Park!!  Every time I drive over Tioga Pass, I can’t help but stare, open mouthed at the beauty of the area.  As John Muir stated, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Ruby felt it too.  In fact we had to drag her kicking and screaming away from Tenaya Lake.  Man does that girl love the water.

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Tuolomne Meadows, Tenaya Lake.

With Yosemite in the rear view mirror, we buckled in and drove the rest of the way to Emery Cove Marina as the call of Gone Tomorrow was too much to ignore.  Onto the next adventure, our first overnight anchorage…

Post 28: The Heat is On

~Jen~

Vegas, baby! Everyone keeps asking how we are liking the heat. Yes, it is quite the transition from the natural air conditioning that is the SF Bay to the strong desert wind that is reminiscent of a hair drier. Isn’t a breeze supposed to be refreshing?

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In response to the heat query, I’d like to say, bring it on. Yes it’s almost 10 pm and it’s still 99 degrees out, but I love knowing without a doubt that it is summertime. And there’s also the fact that unlike Gone Tomorrow our condo does have AC and an ice maker.

While JD has been out gallivanting around the west, bringing in the bacon, Ruby and I have been keeping ourselves busy by exploring our surroundings with friends and family, some that live here and others that have dropped in for a visit.

20140609-215458-78898711.jpg An evening at Tao in the Venetian with my Aunt and Uncle who were in town celebrating a friend’s 70th birthday.

20140609-215458-78898117.jpg Spending time with Corinne and the girls at the Summerlin Farmer’s Market before their big move to North Carolina.

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Meeting Jackson the Red Rock Canyon Burro and his buddy David with the memorable Vicki M. and unmistakable Devon B.

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20140609-220751-79671262.jpg Hiking to Mary Jane Falls on Mt. Charleston with my roomy, Jennie, and the Bindlestiff mastermind, Rachel. The temperature difference was impressive from the valley to the top of the hike. Notice the long sleeves!

20140609-221134-79894576.jpg Uncle Dave, airline pilot extraordinaire, just happened to have a lay over here in Sin City. He was excited to meet Ruby for the first time. It was good for him to practice holding a baby again as he has twins on the way!

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20140609-222310-80590352.jpg Grandma, Grandpa, Jeff and Karen came for a visit too. It was a fun filled week for Ruby Roo with lots of swimming and a visit to the Bellagio among a few things.

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20140609-222701-80821121.jpg Swimming pools, water fountains and sun protection are the name of the game out here in Vegas.

We were also able to squeeze in a camping trip to Lake Mojave with the Bindlestiff gang. It’s amazing that we have only been here for one month. We are missing the boat, but I feel that we are spending our time away from home wisely. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for month two.

Can you handle the heat??? Why, yes we can.

Post 27: Transition & Priorities

-JD-

The last several weeks have been full on.  We’ve had a lot to do to get the boat in a suitable condition to be left alone for five to six months and our personal and business lives in order to prepare for the move to Las Vegas.  It’s really late here now but I don’t want to forget the feelings I’ve had leading up to our trip into the Mojave Desert.

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Jen cleaning the chilly bin.

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Ruby helping us calculate mileage for the trip.

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I completed my thirteen week US Coast Guard Auxilliary Course and test on our last day in town.  It was a fantastic class taught by some very experienced mariners. Loved it! Missed one question on the final exam.

Mysteriously lost photo of Ruby & Brad should go here…

We finished off our time in the area with our dear friend Brad.  We’re going to miss you and your family this summer!

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We drove until well into the night so that Ruby would be able to sleep for much of the journey.  She slept well and made sure her beloved Sherpa Sheep was comfortable and cozy for the ride.

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Tomatoes in the grass at East Brundage & Oswell.

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I saw a brown sign pointing toward the Cesar Chavez Memorial and decided to add a visit into our trip.  It was a great stop; informative and inspirational.  The girls loved it and we got Ruby another stamp for her ‘Passport’ in the process.

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Then came the Carrot in the Desert Dance 58 Miles out of Barstow.  Ruby loved the rocks, the wind, the plants and even the trash.  I told her it was “bluawck” and made the sign for yucky.  She mimicked me.

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Next random stop was the Borax, “20 Mule Team” Visitor Center.  Wow!  What a great place, full of history and a cool story in the middle of nowhere.  We use Borax to help clean our holding tank in the sailboat.  So a big thanks to Brittany of Windtraveler for pointing us toward the product in her entertaining post, and ultimately, leading us to stop at this cool spot.

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Ruby & “The 20 Mule Team.”  Learn more about them here.  Thanks again Brittany & Scott!

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The Borax Queen!

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We had a blast in this gigantic tire for a long while.

Coming out of the bay area and heading into the desert for our next adventure was an exhilarating experience.  As weird as it seems to so many people that we would be moving to Las Vegas, I feel so great about having the opportunity to share my love of the desert and the southwest with my daughter and I know for a fact that Jen feels the same way.  As we headed up into the Mojave I told Jen that this place holds a very special place in my heart.  She concurred and it spawned an excellent conversation about some of our life goals and how we’d like to sail for much of the year and also spend some time in a little out-of-the-way rustic, artsy southwest adobe/cabin that we’ve built, running our not-yet-in-existance-but-on-the-verge businesses.  Man aren’t dreams and goals amazing!  They are limitless and I am so absolutely thankful that I am surrounded by people who help me believe they can and will become reality.  It’s all about prioritization and putting all of our past experiences to work for us.

 

Post 26: Let’s Get Sailing

~Jen~

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Another exhilarating sail across the bay with lots of successful lessons accomplished. For this sail, we decided to tackle reefing and electronics. Interesting combo, eh?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Main Entry: reef
Function: verb
Date: 1667
transitive verb
1 : to reduce the area of (a sail) by rolling or folding a portion 2 : to lower or bring inboard (a spar) wholly or partially
intransitive verb
: to reduce a sail by taking in a reef


In other words, we have a big ole sail, and when the wind’s a blowing, we don’t want the whole sail up. There are several reasons for this including uncomfortable, scary heeling, the possibility of ripping the mainsail ($$$!), the fun chance of demasting… In the SF Bay Area, reefing is an important skill as the winds blow 20 knots regularly.

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So, we put a second reef in our main at the dock in Loch Lomond to make sure we knew how to prior to being on the water. Once under the Richmond Bridge (and moving very slowly), we decided to take out the reef, only to put it back in what seemed like 5 minutes later. Practice makes perfect, not that we are anywhere close to perfect, but we are practicing!

Next up, our electrical lesson. As we are really just a giant floating appliance in the big bathtub that is the Bay, we decided to hire a professional to come aboard to go through our systems with us and make recommendations while we were docked at Emery Cove Marina. I can’t recommend Earl from Mathiesen Marine enough!!!! Knowledgable, friendly, great at what he does and has no problem describing things in laymen’s terms for newbies like me. Overall, Earl gave our boat a thumbs up with several recommendations: GFCI outlets, new battery bank, new battery charger and better ventilation for refrigeration. YouTube here I come, as I will be attempting the GFCI outlet switch.

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I call that a successful outing indeed. Oh, and I was at the helm in 18 knots of wind… A new record for our little crew.

Post 25: Happy Birthday, Daddy-O

~Jen~

Today JD rang in the final year of his third decade. There are so many new adventures to be had, and there is so much on the horizon.

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I feel slightly guilty for holding out for so long, but here goes:

WE ARE MOVING TO LAS VEGAS FOR THE SUMMER.

Wait, what? What about the boat? The Bay? The awesome boat family we just met and spent the day with? What about learning to sail? And maybe most importantly, why move to the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer?

The Boat:
The boat is now a part of out lives and still fits into this current plan, albeit in a different, more round about way than originally planned. We are moving Gone Tomorrow from Loch Lomond in San Rafael to Emery Cove in Emeryville. There are several reasons for this:
*We won’t have to worry about high/low tide in order to exit/enter the new marina. Yay!
*We can take public transportation straight from SFO to Emery Cove. No fuss, no muss.
*Honestly, Marin is just not our scene. I kind of feel like we are in “Stepford Wives” territory surrounded by a sea of Mercedes, BMW’s, Land Rovers and Teslas. We measure our successes a bit differently.

The Bay:
Well, it will still be here when we get back, and we promise to visit at least once over the summer season.

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Awesome Boat Family:
Isn’t funny how you always connect with folks right before you leave? At least I have found that to be the case in my life. Luckily, said awesome boat family will still be in the Bay Area when we return, and they just so happen to live in our new neighborhood. And even so, we are planning on having a couple of adventures with them prior to our departure… Hopefully an Angel Island raft up night and a camping trip at Point Reyes NS. Fingers crossed.

Learning to Sail:
Well, in a strange turn of events, I am going to trade the San Francisco Bay for Lake Mead. Sailing lessons are sailing lessons right? It’s ok, go ahead and chuckle. I know that I am. We also are setting up a private lesson with some highly certified boat captain dude to come spend the day with us (sans Ruby) on Gone Tomorrow during our mid summer SF Visit. Anchoring tips? Bring it on!

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Las Vegas:
What can I say? An unforeseen, incredible opportunity that we just couldn’t turn down fell into our laps. Some friends of ours started a tour company in the LV area, Bindlestiff Tours, and we are going to work with them for the high season. We are returning to the desert, a place near and dear to our hearts for our tight little tribe! Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce… You are calling our name.

Today was a great day. We celebrated a new year for JD and all the possibilities that lay ahead.

Post 24: Boat Porn Indeed

~Jen~

Wowzers. We have now officially attended our first boat show, Strictly Sail Pacific, and I now understand what all the hoopla is about.

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We checked out an assortment of sailboats in different shapes and sizes. Some of these newer models remind me of shopping at Ikea with their modern interiors and funky cabinets, while others have me picking my jaw up off the floor.

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The amount of electronics and gadgets available for cruising is mind blowing, and I understand how people have trouble throwing off the bow lines and leaving the dock. With the endless amount of things available to buy, I can see how it would feel like one could never be prepared enough. I have to admit that our gear wish list continues to grow, but I think we are closing in on a hand held VHF radio from ICOM, the M-36.

Even with all the cool gear here, the best thing by far has been the included seminars such as Inspecting your Rig, Storm Tactics and Heavy Weather Sailing, Marine Diesel Engine Essentials, Women and Cruising and Baja Ha Ha, How to. I’m truly a nerd at heart, and I’ll attend a free info session on sailing essentials any time. Sign me up!

An ongoing discussion throughout the show was the Kaufman Family and the Rebel Heart. With the current negative media frenzy that has surrounded this family’s recent rescue 900 miles off the coast of Baja, it was refreshing to see a supportive network of folks at Strictly Sail Pacific. I loved seeing other families with toddlers in tow eagerly gathering information about the cruising lifestyle. It was nice feeling like I was part of a community of like minded individuals.

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A special thanks to Oakland for hosting this amazing event. You are quickly capturing my heart… A change of scenery may be in order.

Post 23: Baby on Board

~Jen~

Learning to walk on a boat has proven to be a non issue for our little drunken sailor. I’m so happy for the boat layout that we have. The fact that we have two doors that lead to the aft cabin, one via the head and the other by way of the galley, essentially creates a racetrack loop through the boat for our little adventurer. We are still working on the mantra “one hand for the boat.”

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Post 22: I’m Studying My Brain Out

-JD-

Doh! We’ve been pretty slack on posting lately.  My parents and sister were in town over the last couple of weekends and they kept us busy!  It was an awesome visit for all and I am looking forward to putting some pics up from our time together.  Ruby absolutely loved all of the hugs and attention she got from the family and she learned a lot during their visit.

At the moment I am learning a ton about sailing from my 13 week US Coast Guard Auxiliary class in Sausalito combined with an overload of YouTube vids and a plethora of other online and textbook resources.  We’re having a couple of friends join us for two full days of sailing and an overnight stay at a marina located in the Oakland Estuary this weekend so I am cramming in all I can, taking notes, studying my engine and readying my captaining skills.

Full reports and pics to follow!  I’ve also been meaning to write a post on doom and gloomers and an alternate outlook to the whole apocalyptic end to the world view that seems so prevalent lately.  Stay tuned? ;)

Oh! And I entered a drawing to win a sweet coffee maker called an Aerobie AeroPress from another sailing website that we recently found called mjsailing.com.  I’ve only just begun to explore Matt & Jessica’s site but it is freaking fantastic!  One thing that has jumped out that I intend to emulate is a ‘Cost’ page that outlines all of their cruising related expenses month by month and a total for the year.  Super cool!

I found them from reading another blog called The Boat Galley which is a mind-boggling collection of articles relating to all things cooking, cleaning, conserving, safety and so much more.  Amazing stuff.  Again, I’ve barely touched this blog but already learned a ton.  We will certainly reference it more and more as the time to cast off our lines nears.

And where did I hear about The Boat Galley?  Well the Mack Daddy (or Mommy) of sailing with family blogs, Windtraveler, of course.  I’ve been reading different outdoors and adventure blogs for years but when we had our daughter in 2012 I found myself looking for other families who were out there pushing for a less conforming way of life.  Jen told me to go check out Windtraveler and it’s been really cool following along on Scott & Brittany’s adventures at sea with their little girl.  By-the-way, they just had twins earlier this month so it will be neat to see what they get up to. Great stuff!

OK, so those are some blogs I get a lot out of.  I’ve gotten sidetracked from my studies.  Back to it.

 

Post 21: Angel Island, Revisited

~Jen~

Sunday morning, we rolled out of bed and sailed to Angel Island. It was that easy… No hassle of packing up all out gear (including the massive amount of stuff that comes along with having a toddler) and driving to the boat. Nope, we already had everything we needed. What a great reason to live aboard your boat. It just makes it that much easier to get out on the water.

As per usual, there were stressful moments throughout the day. I'm sure that will be the case for awhile as we are learning by doing. To be perfectly honest, I don't even know what a monohull boat is supposed to feel like when underway… I've only done day sails on a catamaran (and have had a couple of terrifying experiences on small dinghies). So heeling, well that's different. I mean, I understand that we have a huge keel, and that we aren't going to flip over (especially in 5 mph winds), but whenever we lean far to one side, I can't help but have the thought, “What the f*ck!?” I'm gonna work on that one.

So rather than bore you with all of the mundane details, I'm going to highlight the ups and downs of the day.

Heck YES! Moments:

  • I sailed us under the Richmond Bridge.
  • We sailed the entire way once we were out of the channel.
  • Since we were up and at it early, Ayala Cove was near empty when we arrived. No problem finding a place at the dock.
  • I went jogging on an island that we sailed to in the SF Bay (training for China Camp Trail Run 10k on May 24).
  • Amazing family hike to top of Mt. Livermore, the highest point on Angel Island with incredible views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and of course the Golden Gate.

The UH-OH! Moments:

  • Deciding whether to go or not due to low lying clouds.
  • Exiting the channel with our 6'7″ keel and the terrifyingly low numbers on the depth finder.
  • A small mishap with docking at Angel Island, with JD and I both on the dock pulling the lines hard and realizing that the boat was still in reverse.
  • Standing on top of Mt. Livermore and watching Karl the Fog pouring in over the GG Bridge, knowing that we don't have radar (luckily he stayed at bay).
  • Reentering the channel with our 6'7″ keel and the terrifyingly low numbers on the depth finder.

Maybe our depth finder is a little confused as it read less than 3.8 feet at one point. How is that possible with the depth of our keel without getting stuck? Or is the bottom of our channel that silty? Our list of desired fancy gadgets continues to grow, but with our almost run in with the infamous SF fog, a nifty radar is steadily making its way to the top of the list.

So, the major lessons of the day were to trust your instincts, get up and go early, make sure the engine is in neutral, take extra diapers when hiking and to take a step back and enjoy our amazing backyard that is the entire SF Bay.