Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

December 19, 2015
by Nate

Southbound to Puerto Escondido

November 20, the day after my birthday, dawned and we were underway for Punta Pulpito. As we left Bahía Concepcíon, we cruised with a pod of dolphins and passed a whale shark.

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After a one night stop at Punta Pulpito we continued down to San Juanico.

Hanging out on the bow with Sully in our harnesses

Hanging out on the bow with Sully in our harnesses

Heading back to the cockpit, one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat

Heading back to the cockpit, one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat

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After a good downwind sail we anchored in San Juanico.

We took a walk down the dirt road leading out of town with Cliff and MaryAnne from S/V Carola to a nearby ranch. The last time Carola was in San Juanico they had friends take them to visit the ranch so they took us.

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

We arrived just as the family that lives on the ranch was finishing breakfast. We introduced ourselves and they offered us some homemade tortillas and two kinds of goat cheese. Then we were given a tour of the gardens.

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Fresh picked radishes

Fresh picked radishes

The gardens are built out of cinder blocks. Tomatoes grow on rebar and twine supports

The gardens are built out of cinder blocks. Tomatoes grow on rebar and twine supports

The chicken coop with a palapa (thatch) roof

The chicken coop with a palapa (thatch) roof

Lots of goats

Lots of goats

The rancher gave us some fresh goat cheese, radishes, cilantro and chile peppers. I cleaned up the radishes and Natalie used a spicy chile peppers and cilantro in soup.

The weather was still good for sailing south so we got underway on the 23rd bound for Puerto Ballandra, a well protected anchorage on Isla Carmen. We spent one night in the calm harbor and explored the rocky beach the next day.IMG_1012 IMG_1009 IMG_1016 IMG_1014

There was no wind and the sun was shining hot, so we all went for a swim to cool off. Natalie and I scrubbed the bottom of the boat and did some laps around her as well. After lunch we decided to head 16 miles south to Puerto Escondido.

Looking back down on Playa El Burro

December 17, 2015
by Nate

A Birthday in Bahía Concepción

We started our sail South to Punta Chivato under good conditions on Saturday November 14th.

Passing a big ship at anchor

Passing a big ship at anchor

We motored and sailed downwind until the breeze started to clock around to the port beam. I decided it was time to use the mizzen to balance out the boat and keep heading out. As we sailed steadily on a beam reach the wind built in the Craig Channel  until it was blowing about twenty knots and the seas started to get big, about 8 feet with whitecaps and close together. Astraea sails most comfortably when we’re going about 6.5 knots, but we were starting to go over 7 so it was time to drop the mizzen to balance out the boat. While I was working the sails, Sully was safe below watching a movie and Natalie was at the helm. Looking back at Natalie she was feverishly spinning the wheel back and forth trying to keep Astraea on course. It looked like a scene from a movie with the waves rising up and falling behind her, the wheel spinning back and forth madly, sea spray flying and her face screwed up in terror. I relieved her at the helm and we sailed around Punta Chivato to the anchorage.

I thought it was good to get experience in big seas. It showed us that Astraea is a strong and safe boat that can handle big winds and waves. Natalie was happy when the anchor was down and we were in the lee of the point and she could relax.

Fishing at Punta Chivato

Fishing at Punta Chivato

Sully hanging out in his stateroom in his PJ's

Sully hanging out in his stateroom in his PJ’s

We had another good weather window the next day and got the anchor up early and had a much more leisurely downwind sail toward Bahía Concepcíon.

Sailing South towards Bahía Concepción with S/V Carola

Sailing South towards Bahía Concepción with S/V Carola

We let Windy, our Monitor Windvane do the driving until the wind quit and we started the engine

We let Windy, our Monitor Windvane do the driving until the wind quit and we started the engine

Sully napped on the port settee next to his leecloth

Sully napped on the port settee next to his leecloth

The wind died off as we entered the bay and motored to the anchorage at Playa Santispac.

That night we were treated to a beautiful sunset

That night we were treated to a beautiful sunset

Our first day we wanted to take a hike and see petroglyphs at Playa el Burro. We buddy dinghy’d over with Cliff and MaryAnne of S/V Carola.

On our way to find petroglyphs with Maryanne and Cliff from S/V Carola

On our way to find petroglyphs with Maryanne and Cliff from S/V Carola

Finding the beginning of the trail was difficult and the hike was challenging with lots of loose rocks, but the views and bell rocks made it rewarding. Some rocks have a large iron ore concentration and when struck with another rock they ring instead of the familiar dull thud of two rocks clunking together. We thought there would be petroglyphs at the top of the mountain, but the only petroglyphs we saw were right by the road.

Nearing the top of the hike

Nearing the top of the hike

Looking back down on Playa El Burro

Looking back down on Playa El Burro

Climbing to the peak

Climbing to the peak

We looked back around the mountain and saw Astraea anchored at Santispac

We looked back around the mountain and saw Astraea anchored at Santispac

We stopped by Bertha’s Restaurant for some cold beers and waters before loading up the dinghies to head back to our boats. We were just getting around the point at the edge of Playa el Burro when our dinghy motor started coughing and eventually died. Cliff and MaryAnne offered to tow our dinghy back and we could all ride together in their dinghy. As we got farther away from the beach the wind got stronger and the waves grew bigger. The waves were only about two feet from peak to trough, but for a little dinghy they were big enough to splash over the front and completely soak everyone. The wind made it chilly and Sully cried and hated the ride. Eventually we made it back to our respective boats after a terribly thirty minute dinghy ride. We got in to our warm pajamas, made hot soup for dinner and stayed in for the rest of the night.

The next day was windy again and we planned to stay on the boat all day, but that afternoon Natalie peaked outside and saw kids playing on the beach. We quickly got our stuff together and rowed to shore. We met a family of four, Justine, Scott and their kids who were camping their way down Baja to Cabo San Lucas. Sully was excited to see kids and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in their tents and with sand toys while the adults drank beer and talked about traveling (their plan is to someday drive around the world in a rugged overlander RV). Everyone was getting along together so well we decided to go to Anna’s Restaurant on the beach for dinner.

On Wednesday we hitchhiked to Mulegé. A family in their SUV stopped and picked us up on their way to town. We took a short detour on our way in to town to pick up one of their daughters. We thanked them when we arrived in downtown Mulegé and set off to explore the town and get some gas. I guess it was siesta time, because the town was pretty dead. We ended up getting a few drinks from the store by the square and were relaxing on a bench in the shade when Carlos, the waiter from Anna’s Restaurant, walked by. He recognized us from dinner the night before and offered us a ride back to the beach. Since we weren’t really sure how we were going to get back, we accepted his offer even though we hadn’t seen much of town.

Sully tested out a hammock in Mulegé

Sully tested out a hammock in Mulegé

Natalie does the aquatic Astraea dance

Thursday was my birthday. Cliff from Carola came over because he was having trouble with a seized dinghy clamp. I helped him get it loosened up and working again. While we were sitting down in his dinghy we were talking about ketch rigs and the mizzen. When we were looking up we noticed a dark brown spot on the bottom of one of the mizzen spreaders that didn’t look quite right. After a quick trip up to the spreaders I found it was dry rotted and would need to be replaced soon. We were lucky on the sail down that there wasn’t too much stress on the shroud to cause the spreader to break.

Sully was down below playing dress up while I went aloft and then he wanted a turn. He got out his tool set and I took him up above the boom.

Cowboy Sully wanted to go aloft too

Cowboy Sully wanted to go aloft

I wanted a beach party and dinner out at Anna’s Restaurant. I asked Natalie to make me a chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.

Sully helped Natalie with the icing for my birthday cake

Sully helped Natalie with the icing for my birthday cake…

and got to lick the beater

… and got to lick the beater

We headed to the beach late in the afternoon to hang out with some of the RV campers ashore. We kicked a soccer ball, threw around a football and then headed over to Anna’s for dinner.

The crowd for my birthday party at Anna's Restaurant

The crowd for my birthday party at Anna’s Restaurant

Us with our friendly waiter, Carlos

Us with our friendly waiter, Carlos

The weather was good to continue south, so my birthday was our last night in Bahía Concepcíon.

December 1, 2015
by Nate

Santa Rosalía

Sunrise on the approach to Santa Rosalía

Sunrise on the approach to Santa Rosalía

We sailed all night long on our way to Santa Rosalía. A few hours before sunrise our boat speed dropped to about two knots and I turned on the motor after we passed Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island). We docked at the Fonatur Marina inside the safe manmade harbor.

When we arrived Cliff and MaryAnn from S/V Carola were the only other cruisers in the harbor.

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Santa Rosalía is different than all the other towns in Baja because of it’s foreign influence. It’s main industry was copper mining with the minerals being exported to Europe. Wooden timber was brought in from the Pacific Northwest and machinery imported from Europe. The architecture is different, the streets are paved and there are sidewalks with wheelchair ramps on every corner.

The main church downtown. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower.

The main church downtown. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same guy who designed the Eiffel Tower.

It was just after Dia de Muertos and art was on display made by the local schoolkids

It was just after Dia de los Muertos and art was on display made by the local schoolkids

Paved streets and houses with air conditioning

Paved streets and houses with air conditioning

OK, not every street was wheelchair accessible

OK, not every street was wheelchair accessible

The wooden buildings in town are painted bright colors.

The wooden buildings in town are painted bright colors.

Tree lined streets

Tree lined streets

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The local fire department and ambulance

The local fire department and ambulance

A large library

A large library

We made a stop for ice cream to celebrate our successful crossing of the Sea of Cortez

We made a stop for ice cream to celebrate our successful crossing of the Sea of Cortez

The hospital. Painted outside the building is an encouragement to wash your hands with soap and water. When I took Sully inside the use the bathroom there wasn't any soap to be found.

The hospital. Painted outside the building is an encouragement to wash your hands with soap and water. When I took Sully inside the use the public bathroom there wasn’t any soap to be found.

We hiked up the hill overlooking the town and looked down at the marina

We hiked up the hill overlooking the town and looked down at the marina

The old mining equipment, a major part of the town's history, has been preserved in static displays throughout the town

The old mining equipment, a major part of the town’s history, has been preserved in static displays throughout the town

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We walked through the old copper refinery. All kinds of equipment is still there

We walked through the old copper refinery. All kinds of equipment is still there

More of the refinery

More of the refinery

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The area by the old refinery is a museum

The area by the old refinery is now a museum

There is a large panga fishing fleet based here

There is a large panga fishing fleet based here

The aftermath of Hurricane Odile is still evident in the harbor

The aftermath of Hurricane Odile is still evident in the harbor

We walked out on the long breakwater around the marina. The breakwater was made from leftover slag from the copper foundry.

We walked out on the long breakwater around the marina. The breakwater was made from leftover slag from the copper foundry.

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Panorama of the harbor area

This is a close up of the slag from the copper refinery that makes up the breakwater

This is a close up of the slag from the copper refinery that makes up the breakwater. It looks like obsidian or glass.

We had awesome hotdogs with everything downtown across from the church

We had awesome hotdogs with everything for dinner downtown across from the church

Sully took this selfie, probably his first

Sully took this selfie, probably his first

Cute puppies in the abandoned buildings near the harbor

Cute puppies in the abandoned buildings near the harbor

Sully thought they were cute

Sully thought the pups were cute

We took a hike up the hill on the south side of town

We took a hike up the hill on the south side of town

View from the top of the hike

View from the top of the hike

The cross says, "I am the bread of life"

The cross says, “I am the bread of life”

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Then we walked back down toward the main road

Then we walked back down toward the main road

It was still very windy when we walked all the way down the malecon

It was still very windy when we walked all the way down the malecon. Even on a sailboat there can be too much wind, so we decided to stay in port instead of sailing south.

The black beach south of the marina

The black beach south of the marina

The Navy has five boats stationed here. Two are marine rescue boats

The Navy has five boats stationed here. Two are marine rescue boats

I got to trade shirts with Francisco, a Mexican Navy sailor

I got to trade Navy shirts with Francisco, a Mexican Navy sailor

We keep track of sully's growth on the inside of the door jam. He's grown a lot since last year!

We keep track of Sully’s growth on the inside of the door jam. He’s grown a lot since last year!

We had a great five day stay in Santa Rosalía and were happy to get back out of the marina and head south. We sailed south bound for Punta Chivato on our way to Bahía Concepción on November 14th.

A beautiful sunset as we cruised across the Sea of Cortez

November 28, 2015
by Nate

San Carlos

We hauled the anchor up after one night in Caleta La Posada and headed in to the inner bay at San Carlos. On the cruiser’s net in the morning we heard there was going to be a dog costume contest at Barracuda Bob’s Cafe at the marina. We went to meet up with our friends from S/V Namaste, John, Cindy and Journey.

Journey and Nanuq from S/V Namaste won the pet costume contest with a fuzzy Jimmy Buffett

Journey and Nanuq from S/V Namaste won the pet costume contest with a furry Jimmy Buffett

On Halloween we met up with our buddy boaters Phil and Debra from S/V Coastal Drifter at their house in San Carlos. They invited us and the gang from S/V Sangvind over for dinner and Trick-or-Treating.

Howdy, it's Sheriff Woody from Toy Story

Ethan and Sully at Ethan's grandparent's casa in San Carlos

Ethan and Sully at Ethan’s grandparent’s casa in San Carlos

Look at all the candy!

Look at all the candy!

The whole gang trick or treating. Ethan from Coastal Drifter, Dyland and Jayden from Sangvind.

The whole gang trick or treating. Ethan from Coastal Drifter, Dylan and Jayden from Sangvind.

There weren’t as many houses giving out treats as the kids would have liked, so we hopped in Sangvind’s van and Franz and Sylvia took us and the kids around to other neighborhoods in San Carlos in search of Halloween candy.

The next night we rode the bus downtown to Guaymas to see the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade.

Post parade Day of the Dead festivities in Guaymas

Post parade Day of the Dead festivities in Guaymas

The town square was decorated with fanciful skulls and skeletons

The town square was decorated with fanciful skulls and skeletons

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The next day we went ashore and hiked up to a cave overlooking the bay.

The anchorage in San Carlos

The anchorage in San Carlos

Inside the cave

Inside the cave

We went for a swim and Sully had fun climbing around on the boom. His balance is much better and he’s our little boat monkey.

Sully's getting more adventurous and did some boom walking

Sully’s getting more adventurous and did some boom walking

On November 5th, we were lucky enough to borrow a car from our friends on Namaste to go into town for parts and groceries. We caught a ride to the dock with our friends Megan and Jonah from Orion because our outboard wasn’t working reliably and they were on a part search as well.

Sully crashed on our drive back from Guaymas

Sully crashed in the back seat with Megan from S/V Orion on our drive back from Guaymas

The next day our fridge broke and I needed more refrigerant, so we borrowed the car again and went searching for refrigerant and a filter dryer assembly for the engine run fridge. Some hardware stores were closed because it was Saturday, but we got lucky and found what we needed. We also went by a giant Guaymas sign that we had never seen before.

Guaymas!

Guaymas!

"S" is for Sully

“S” is for Sully

On Sunday, November 8th we had a good looking weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez so we secured for sea and headed out when the afternoon winds picked up. At first the seas were rough around the point, but after a few hours they settled down and we had a great sail. We were close hauled all the way across to Santa Rosalia. The moon shone bright and the stars were out. It felt wonderful to be underway again. We sailed through the night until the winds dropped off a few hours before dawn. Then I fired up the engine and we motored in to the Fonatur Marina at Santa Rosalia at dawn.

On our way out of San Carlos headed for Santa Rosalia

On our way out of San Carlos headed for Santa Rosalia

A beautiful sunset as we cruised across the Sea of Cortez

A beautiful sunset as we cruised across the Sea of Cortez

Local fishermen returning to Guaymas

November 26, 2015
by Nate

A Perfect Day of Cruising

On October 28th, we hauled the muddy anchor off the bottom in Guaymas and high tailed it up to San Carlos. Astraea motored out the bay at six knots with her fresh bottom paint and clean propellor.

Local fishermen returning to Guaymas

Local fishermen returning to Guaymas

Sully wanted to be outside for our first passage in a long time

Sully wanted to be outside for our first passage in a long time

After rounding the point and turning right towards San Carlos we set the autopilot and started to relax. I threw out a fishing line with low expectations. I hadn’t had success fishing since Sully and I fished off the docks in Mazatlan last spring. Not long after trailing a bright yellow lure behind us we spotted giant fin whales off our port side.

We hung out in the cockpit eating snacks and reading books until our relaxation was interrupted by line screaming out of the fishing rod. We slowed the boat and I reeled in our first fish of the season – a small bonito. The wind was just right so we unfurled the jib and got some motorsailing in on our way to San Carlos.

Reading about Canadian Outlaws

Reading about Canadian Outlaws

I caught a tiny bonito!

I caught a tiny bonito!

Cockpit snacks

Cockpit snacks

After sailing almost up to our anchorage we furled the jib and dropped our anchor in 20 feet of water  at the beautiful anchorage of Caleta La Posada.

Sailing with the jib unfurled

Sailing with the jib unfurled

We're happy to be sailing again

We’re happy to be sailing again

The water rushing along the port side

The water rushing along the port side

We dinghy’d ashore and had a nice lunch at the Palapa restaurant on the beach and played in the water with Sully. It was a perfect way to spend a day cruising and a great return to Astraea.

The anchorage at Caleta La Posada

The anchorage at Caleta La Posada

November 25, 2015
by Nate

Moving Back Aboard Astraea

Hola Mexico!

Finally it was time to get back to Astraea and get her back in the water. Natalie’s Dad, Ted, would finish selling Astraea Mobile on eBay for us. Our friend Gary, from Sea Rover II was driving down to Guaymas from Phoenix and offered us a ride.

The ride was pretty smooth. We stopped for tacos along the way. Gary was worried about making the long drive with a 3 year old, but Sully was great. He had lots of snacks, drinks, rest stops and games on the phone to keep him occupied.

Riding down in a fully loaded Subaru with Gary at the wheel

 

Sleepy kiddo in the back seat. We got a craigslist carseat just for the trip.

We made it to Gabriel’s Yard in Guaymas that afternoon and got Astraea opened up and ready for bedtime. Before we knew it we were ready for dinner. We rode back in to town with Gary and Bill from Graybeard for some cheeseburgers at Popeye’s Hamburgesas. We were ready for good authentic Mexican food, but decided on burgers because they have a great play area for Sully since he was cooped up in the car all day.

Hamburgesas Popeye's. Thanks for the recommendation from our friends on Terrapin. Popeye's is the In-N-Out of Guaymas, complete with toys considered dangerous by American standards and no safety waiver.

Hamburgesas Popeye’s. Thanks for the recommendation from our friends on Terrapin. Popeye’s is the In-N-Out of Guaymas, complete with toys considered dangerous by American standards and no safety waiver.


Natalie and I worked quickly for the next two days to get Astraea ready to launch. We finally launched on a rising tide on October 21.

One slacked forestay, fenders and dock lines and Astraea’s ready for the slow roll to the water

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Happy that Astraea’s back afloat

The approach to the Fonatur Marina in Guaymas

We motored across the bay in Guaymas to Marina Fonatur and tied up for a few days. We restored the outsides to seaworthy conditions, took on fuel, water, and fresh provisions.
We were lucky enough to meet up with two other kid boats, Sangvind and Coastal Drifter. Sully enjoyed running around with the bigger kids. It was exciting being back on the docks meeting other seasoned cruisers who do this year after year. We exchanged boat cards with many of them and went out for tacos at the local loncheria (snack bar) Doney.

Sully has learning game apps on Natalie’s old smart phone

 One of the biggest problems we had with the boat last season was with our outboard motor. If I were a smart guy I’d have bought a new (used) one and brought it down from the states, but after 5 months of RV cruising it slipped my mind. When it came time to put the outboard on and test it out the engine wouldn’t start. I pulled the spark plugs out and found lots of black gunk in the cylinders. After about an hour cleaning the cylinders out with WD-40 and Marvel’s Mystery Oil I put new plugs in and the engine started on it’s first pull! After a quick ride around the marina the engine wouldn’t restart, but I cleaned more gunk out of the cylinders and it ran fine again.

 While we were in Guaymas an ominous looking message appeared on our DeLorme inReach device. It said, “Your inReach is damaged. Messages cannot be sent or received. Contact Technical Support for Assistance.” Ouch. We’ve been using the inReach for a year and this is our second problem. The fist one we bought had a faulty arrow key so we couldn’t text without using a smartphone. Now after one replacement device we needed another. After a quick call to DeLorme I was guarenteed a replacement device overnight if I paid for the shipping. Four days later it still hadn’t arrived at Natalie’s Dad’s in Arizona for forwarding to us, so I called their support number again. They didn’t know when a refurbished unit would be available to send to us, so we got a new unit shipped overnight instead.  The last day of our stay in the marina we rinsed the dirt off the topsides and moved out to the anchorage. We had more trouble with the outboard while we still stowed and prepared Astraea for voyaging. Sully did well keeping himself entertained playing with his toys on the boat. After not seeing his trains for five months it was like a brand new toy!

 The marina opened their pool up and had the filter working, so in the hot afternoons we would go play at the pool.

Soon enough it was time to leave the anchorage at Guaymas and hit the high seas and head to San Carlos.

Sully and Natalie at the pumpkin patch near Prescott

November 12, 2015
by Nate

Arizona with a side trip to Mexico

After our time in California, we pointed Astraea Mobile back east to Arizona. We headed to Natalie’s Dad’s house to visit and prepare for our return to Astraea.

It was great to get to spread out in a house after being on the road for over a month. I took the time to test out our solar equipment for the boat.

The test setup of two 100 watt solar panels and the charge controller charging the camper's battery

The test setup of two 100 watt solar panels and the charge controller charging the camper’s battery

Sully liked staying at his Grandma and Grandpa’s house because he could jump on the couch, build forts and ride his scooter inside. We visited the community pool and took walks around the neighborhood in the afternoon when it cooled down.

Natalie and I took a long weekend trip to Guaymas in the camper to check on Astraea, install solar, and get a head start on recommissioning before we returned with Sully. The drive down in Mexico was easy, mainly on two lane highway. We stopped at kilometer 21 in Mexico, the end of the free zone to get tourist passports and check if we needed a temporary import permit (TIP) for the camper. The state of Sonora is a TIP free zone so there was less paperwork and our 5 day tourist visas were free. The driving was easy until we made it to Guaymas and found that the town was undergoing a revitalization, and that many of the roads were torn up and traffic was rerouted.

Buen Viaje road sign means "Have a good trip"

Buen Viaje road sign means “Have a good trip”

The two lane highway with a sign for topes, or bumps

The two lane highway with a sign for topes, or bumps

Guaymas under construction

Guaymas under construction

We found Astraea as we left her, except the tarp that covered the cockpit area was torn to pieces. We met with Jesus and Gabriel in the office and finalized our arrangements for Francisco to sand and paint the bottom. We brought 3 gallons of Nautical Ablative Antifouling Paint for two coats on the bottom and extra coats along the waterline.

While we were in Guaymas a wicked storm rolled in over the mountains with torrential rain and thunder. Water rolled through the boatyard and we were happy to have Astraea Mobile there for a nice dry place.

Before we knew it we were done prepping the boat and it was time to drive back north. Back at Natalie’s Dad’s house Sully was on his best behavior. He had fun with Grandma and Grandpa playing at the house and going to the park and pool.

We took some afternoon hikes. Our first big hike was to see the Aspens near Flagstaff.

A hill covered in Aspen Trees

A hill covered in Aspen Trees

Looking up at the beautiful yellow leaves

Looking up at the beautiful yellow leaves

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Natalie hiking through the aspen grove

Natalie hiking through the aspen grove

Our second hike was at West Fork near Sedona.

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The trail at West Fork crosses a stream many times

The trail at West Fork crosses a stream many times

Visiting the chicken coops

Visiting the chicken coops

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Sully with his Grandma and Grandpa

Sully with his Grandma and Grandpa

Sully painted a balsa wood airplane and flew it around the house

Sully painted a balsa wood airplane and flew it around the house

Pool time!

Pool time!

Sully and Natalie at the pumpkin patch near Prescott

Sully and Natalie at the pumpkin patch near Prescott

Happy Halloween from Sully

Happy Halloween from Sully

We visited our cruising buddies Eric and Jaime in Phoenix. They're off S/V Coconutz for now refilling the cruising kitty.

We visited our cruising buddies Eric and Jaime in Phoenix. They’re off S/V Coconutz for now refilling the cruising kitty.

Sully visited Grandpa at work and rode his big orange tractor

Sully visited Grandpa at work and rode his big orange tractor

Sully loves tractor rides

Sully loves tractor rides

November 6, 2015
by Nate

California

After hiking all day in the heat of Zion, we were tired and sweaty. We wanted to relax and take hot showers, so we stopped at a Motel 6 in St. George, Utah. We should have woken up earlier and driven when it was a little cooler, but it was about 10am by the time we hit the road. It was HOT! The air conditioner in the camper still wasn’t working at this point, and we were driving through the desert to Riverside, CA in 100 degree temperatures. Definitely not a high point of our trip!

We arrived at my second cousin Jane’s house in Riverside late in the afternoon. It was still hot, but she left a few cold beers for us in the fridge for us while we were waiting for her and her sons, Ethan and Noah, to get home from sports practices. That night we all walked into town for Sushi and had a great time catching up.

I don’t know if we were just burnt out at this point of our trip or what, but for some reason we didn’t pull out the camera much in California. Maybe we felt like we were home – except this time with a very active social life seeing different friends every night for over a week!

We left Riverside on Friday September 11th and drove to Nate’s old co-worker and friend Vince’s house in Alpine, CA, about 45 minutes east of San Diego. It was an intense drive in the camper up the long winding dirt road that led to their house, but the next two days were worth it. We spent a lot of time hanging out in “Vince’s Worst Damn Garage in Town” with his wife, Elerie, while Sully played with their daughters Tristine and Audrey. Vince and Nate crawled under the camper and found that the clutch for the A/C compressor was slipping and wouldn’t cool the camper.

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On our way out of Alpine, we stopped for lunch at the Alpine Brewery with Jim and Ellen, Nate’s co-workers and electronic mechanic mentors. From Alpine we headed to Shelter Island in San Diego to visit our friends Mike and Molly on their new boat. It was great to be back on a boat and we got to listen to the ZZTop concert happening next door at Humphrey’s.

Later that week, Mike and Nate swapped out the A/C compressor after Mike got off work and they continued until 2:00 am when the compressor was replaced and checked for leaks. The next day the camper was blowing cold air again! Thanks for the help making our drive cool again Mike!

Nate had a blast getting veterans out on the water sailing small boats during the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic.

I got to skipper a Catalina Capri, a fun and fast 22 foot boat.

Nate got to skipper a Catalina Capri, a fun and fast 22 foot boat.

We got a patriotic helicopter fly by from Naval Station North Island

A patriotic helicopter fly by from Naval Station North Island

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Sailing the 16.5

We stopped by our friends Chris and Claudia's boat to see how much their daughter Emma has grown up since we left last October.

We stopped by our friends Chris and Claudia’s boat to see how much their daughter Emma has grown up since we left last October. Sully loves babies.

After visiting lots of friends in San Diego for a week and a half, we left Tuesday September 22nd and drove north to Lompoc, CA where my Aunt Annemarie lives with her husband, Mitch, and daughters, Tampa and Anäis. We went swimming, fed a bunch of animals at a farmstead, and saw the cows at the Scolari family ranch.

California ranch girls in their boots and a California beach boy in his flip flops

California ranch girls in their boots and a California beach boy in his flip flops

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November 5, 2015
by Nate

Grand Canyon and Zion

On September 8th, we drove down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

There's a herd of wild bison grazing right inside the gate of Grand Canyon National Park

There’s a herd of wild bison grazing right inside the gate of Grand Canyon National Park

A baby buffalo hanging with the herd

A baby buffalo hanging with the herd

Our family at the rim of the grand canyon

Our family at the rim of the Grand Canyon

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Natalie and I at one of the scenic overlooks

Natalie at one of the scenic overlooks

Natalie at one of the scenic overlooks

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The views were incredible

The next day we drove to Zion National Park. We parked outside the park and rode the visitor’s shuttle in. Natalie and I decided to hike the Emerald Pool and Kayenta Trails to do a nice loop. Sully did a great job and hiked 50% of the trail. People passing by were really impressed.

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Our next hike took us up to Weeping Rock where water drains out through the middle of a sheer rock wall.

DSCN3780 Our last hike was down the Riverside walk in through a narrow canyon with a river flowing through it.

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Sully walked the entire mile trail back to the start barefoot (tiptoe as he calls it). Once we took his shoes off at the waterfront he didn’t want to put them back on, and he actually walked the whole way back!

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Another beautiful view

October 11, 2015
by Nate

Bryce Canyon and Slot Canyon Hikes

Friday, September 4th, we made it to Tropic, Utah, a small town outside Bryce Canyon National Park. We met up with Natalie’s dad, Ted, and his wife, Pam, for a weekend of hiking. Bryce Canyon is known for it’s famous rock formations called Hoodoos. They’s tall thin spires of rock that go up from the base rock and are caused by erosion from wind, rain, ice and snow.

The rock formation known as a hoodoo

The rock formation known as a hoodoo

We hiked the Navajo and Peekaboo trails in Bryce Canyon. The Navajo trail leads down a series of switchbacks.

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Hiking down in to the hoodoos

Hiking down in to the hoodoos

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Farther down the trail

Farther down the trail

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At the bottom of the switchback trail there were big straight trees reaching towards the sunlight above

At the bottom of the switchback trail there were big straight trees reaching towards the sunlight above

At the bottom of the switchbacks we hiked farther along the Navajo loop to the Peekaboo trail that took us back up for another view of the hoodoos in the valley.

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Partway through our hike

Partway through our hike we stopped for a photo near the rim

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Sully took a break during our hike

Sully took a break during our hike

Riding with Grandpa Ted

Riding with Grandpa Ted

Panorama of the beautiful view

Panorama of the beautiful view

Through a tunnel to continue our hike

Through a tunnel to continue our hike

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More gorgeous views

More gorgeous views

Snoooze

Another beautiful view

Another beautiful view

Sully wore his cool kid sunglasses for some of the hike

Sully wore his cool kid sunglasses for some of the hike

Climbing down and hiking around was just too much for Sully

Climbing down and hiking around was just too much for Sully

Sully passed out after lunch

Sully passed out after lunch

We found some trail markers that said if you take a medallion rubbing of 3 emblems or photos to the rangers station you get a free gift at the ranger’s station.

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First Emblem

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And the third

After our hike was over we found 4 different markers and I took the pictures to the ranger’s station and we all got stickers saying, “I hiked the hoodoos!” The weather was perfect and cool and we had a great time in one of our new favorite National Parks.

The next day we weren’t all worn out from hiking in Bryce, so we did another hike on Ted’s hiking bucket list.

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We drove about an hour down the winding dirt road from Escalante to the trailhead of Peekaboo and Spooky Gulches to explore the slot canyons. We were really far out in the boonies.

Hiking down with Sully

Hiking down with Sully

Large stone cairns marked the trail

Large stone cairns marked the trail

The entrance to Peekaboo Slot Canyon

The entrance to Peekaboo Slot Canyon starts out by going straight up

In Peekaboo

In Peekaboo

Preparing to go around the next bend

Preparing to go around the next bend

Some of the areas were wide open

A fun father daughter hike through the rocks

A fun father daughter hike through the rocks

Heading up and in

Heading up and in

This was Sully's longest hike. It worked out for him because we were really slow so there was lots of time for him to climb around on rocks and sit or explore.

This was Sully’s longest hike. It worked out for him because we were really slow so there was lots of time for him to climb around on rocks and sit or explore.

Hello hikers!

Hello hikers!

I took some creative upper routes

I took some creative upper routes

Teamwork was necessary to navigate the slot canyons

Teamwork was necessary to navigate the slot canyons. At one point there was a straight drop 10 feet down. We found the easiest way to get down was for me to slide down first, and then everyone else slid down a rock onto my shoulders. Then they were lowered down to the ground. Yes, my father-in-law was sitting on my shoulders!

Sully found a spot, just his size

Sully found a spot, just his size

Hiking out of Peekaboo

Hiking out of Peekaboo

Inside the water carved out different shapes in the rock based on the rock density

Inside the water carved out different shapes in the rock based on the rock density

High and narrow

High and narrow

Sully liked to "hide" and roar at us as we passed by his little pay caves

Sully liked to “hide” and roar at us as we passed by his little play caves

Sully hiked under the arches while we squatted and crawled

Sully hiked under the arches while we squatted and crawled

A short break

A short break

Tight quarters

Tight quarters

Sully was just the right size to walk everywhere

Sully was just the right size to walk everywhere

Squeezing through

Squeezing through

Natalie liked the hike but didn't like the tight scramble

Natalie liked the hike, but got a little claustrophobic in Spooky.

On our way back up and out

On our way back up and out

Ted post spooky scramble

Sully helped Grandpa Ted stretch it out after the hike

Sully helped Grandpa Ted stretch it out after the hike

All the hiking wore Sully out!

All the hiking wore Sully out!

On Monday, with our weekend hiking rendezvous over, we said goodbye to Ted and Pam. As they headed home, we headed to a new campground to spend the night on our way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.