Monday, January 29, 2007

Photos-Inland Mexico #2

 
 
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Photos-Inland Mexico- January 2007

 
 
 
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Blog 5 January 28,2007

Blog # 6, January 28, 2007 Barra de Navidad and Back to PV

January has been a month of travel both on the water and inland via rental car. After 2 weeks revisiting favorite haunts in Tenacatita and Barra, we anchored our boat in the lagoon near Isla Navidad, and rented a car for 10 days. Our ultimate goal was to meet up with Walt and Christine Schad, sailing friends from Seattle, in Zihuatanejo (Z-town). Due Dockwise’s sailing schedule, there wasn’t time to sail to Z-Town and make it back to La Paz for a Feb. 15 sailing north.

We put 2000 kilometers on that little Tzuru (Nissan) rental car while we had it. Starr, our boat cat traveled with us. She is such an adaptable little animal. Once we found a place to stay, we shoved her into a small, over the shoulder sail bag and walked her into the room. Sneaking the litter box garage into the room posed a bit more of a challenge, but we were never asked to leave once we settled in. Many of the places we stayed had roof tops or large landscaped grounds in which she could stretch her legs, under leash of course.

Our first 3 nights were in a very interesting Mexican mining town called Guanajuato. It is located about 100 Km northeast of Guadalajara. Guanajuato is located in a steep valley where a massive silver vein was discovered over 500 years ago. During the time after the Conquistadors arrived and took over, supposedly, it provided 40% of the world’s silver. There still is a small mining industry working; but tourism (mainly Mexican) has taken over as the main industry. The amazing thing is that over half of the street/roads in the area are underground, remnants from its mining operations. Needless to say, it was a challenge to drive into/around in!! We arrived after dark on a Saturday night, went underground to find the street to take up above ground to Hotel Bertha, where we had made a reservation. It was a nightmare!! We ended up parking the car, then taking a taxi to the hotel, and retrieving it the next morning in the daylight and with detailed driving instructions. It is a college town so filled with young people, out and about all night. Mexican towns are much more vibrant at night than US cities. It was a fun and very unique city to visit.

Next we headed 90Km east to San Miguel de Allende, another beautiful location in a valley, which in the 1950’s was a bohemian artists getaway. Today art is still the overriding theme, but it is not the inexpensive place it used to be. Expatriate retirees have brought much urban renewal resulting in major art galleries, art schools, wonderful shopping and real estate offices. We are told in the spring and fall when the gringos leave, the quaint charming feeling of the town returns. It is also known for its many festivals—art, film, chamber music, and celebrations honoring San Miguel Arcangel, its chief patron saint. Once again it was an active town, night and day.

Both Guanajuato and San Miguel are colonial towns with beautiful cathedrals, churches and government buildings. The other claim to fame in its history is these were the home towns of the Father Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende, two of the leaders of the Mexican Independence movement. Shrines, museums and statues were everywhere honoring these revolutionaries. It was interesting seeing the many murals and learning about battles fought in these towns.

After a disappointing attempt to hike into the mountains to see the Santuario Mariposa Monarca, (supposedly millions of migrating monarch butterflies), we headed back to the coast to meet up with Walt and Christine in Z-town. It was interesting seeing a cruiser’s hangout from a bungalow on the beach as opposed to being in our boat out in the bay. Z-town is a fishing village with some tourism, while neighboring Ixtapa is a tourist mecca with mega hotels and high rise buildings. We were pleased to be in Z-town. The temps were slightly warmer- consistently in mid 80’s in the day and 70’s at night. The time in Z-town was great and it was good to meet many of our friends who had come down for sail-fest.

We then drove back to Barra to drop the car off and started by boat back north to get back to Dockwise @ La Paz via PV and Mazatlan. First we ran into a storm which held us up 2 days; then the alternator stopped sending power to the house batteries. This is a major problem as we could only sail at day time to receive solar power and use no other electrical equipment which would drain the batteries (no self steering, refrigeration, lights, water maker, etc.), but we did get to PV in 3 days (a 24 hour trip normally) where we will have the part replaced.

An observation is that last year with over 5000 miles we had very few problems; now with a 100 plus degree summer on the hard for the boat and another 2000 miles the boat, the boat and crew are having more problems, nothing major, but in convenient with a short time frame for meeting Dockwise.

We are now awaiting the electrician before we move on. A cruisers life is doing repairs in exotic places and we are there!! See you soon in the NW.
Madelyn and Phil and the boat cat Starr

Thursday, January 04, 2007

B

 
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Blog #5 Mazatlan to Barra de Navidad

Blog #5 January 3, 2007 Mazatlan to Barra de Navidad

Happy New Year!! 2007—sounds like a year with lots of promise! This past month has been a month to revisit old favorite spots on the Pacific Coast and celebrate the holidays with family and friends from the NW.

After a couple days in Mazatlan with our good friends, John and Carla Skinner from Spokane, we left El Cid Marina and headed south to revisit one of our favorite islands, Isla Isabella, a wildlife preserve 85 miles south and 30 miles west of the mainland of Mexico. After a 12 hours night passage with the correct GPS heading, it is easy to spot Isla Isabela. Huge flocks of seabirds constantly encircling the island can be seen for miles away. It is not an easy anchorage, but worth the effort. After a dinghy ride ashore, you notice the bushes, trees, ground, and crevices are jam packed with nesting frigates and blue and yellow footed boobies. Terns and gulls live in the crevices of the cliffs. Thousands of birds are flying overhead in constantly changing formations. It is really a magical place! I feel so fortunate to have the privilege to visit this island so abundant in sea life.

We revisited the small villages of San Blas and Chacala as we moved south. The noseeums in San Blas didn’t let us forget them. San Blas has an extensive lagoon which provides excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Visiting the town square is always entertaining. The Huichol Indians sell lots of their handicrafts (beads embedded in beeswax and string paintings) in the main square. They were also beginning the festivities around the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Toddlers barely able to walk were dressed in indigenous costumes and wore little colorful bamboo backpacks. They were offering fruit at the cathedral and having their photos taken with a huge mural of the Virgin Guadalupe. Of course, there was lots of food, fireworks, and just partytime!

Once we reached Puerto Vallarta, they were also involved with Virgin of Guadalupe festivities. It was clear that Guadalupe is the beloved symbol of the indigenous people of Mexico, as well as all of Mexico. All afternoon and evening on December 11 numerous villages dressed in white clothes carrying candles paraded and danced down the main street of Old Town PV. Mementos with pictures of Guadalupe were everywhere.


Then Christmas holidays arrived. This was the year for entertaining friends and relatives. Phil’s nephew, Brent and Chris and two boys, Brandon (13) and Sean (5), from Boise spent Christmas week with us in our timeshare in the Romantic area of PV. Also during that week Madelyn’s cousin, Laurel, and friend, Irene, from Seattle came down and stayed on our boat in Marina Vallarta providing company for Starr and enjoying the warm temps and sunshine. We did all the tourist activities—played/swam at the beach, attended a bloody bullfight in which four “brave” bulls gave their lives for our entertainment, sailed in Bandaras Bay, snorkeled at Los Arcos, hit at a piñata, etc. We did have great time and NO ONE got “tourista”!

Two days after they left, Tom, a friend from Everett, arrived to join us in sailing the boat from PV to Barre Navidad, a town/beach area about 150 miles south of PV. We had great weather rounding the infamous Cabo Corrientes, known for high winds, turbulent disturbed seas and strong currents. The temps were mostly in the low 80’s, sunny skies, increased humidity, and 78 degree water. We initiated Tom into the joys and challenges of bringing a dinghy ashore in moderate waves. Even with the two rear wheels lowered, we managed to flip the boat with all its people and possessions twice! Thank goodness the air temps were warm enough, drying off caused little discomfort. It was fun having him aboard and sharing small villages and anchorages of the Mexican Riviera.

We have less than 2 months before we put our boat on Dockwise and ship it to the NW. We are attempting to take every advantage of having In the Mood in Mexican waters this winter.

Phil, Madelyn, and Starr, SV In the Mood

Blog #5 Mazatlan to Barra de Navidad

 
 
 
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Blog # 4 Photos (4 more) Dec. 4, 2006

 
 
 
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Blog # 4 Photos, Dec. 5th

 
 
 
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Blog #4 Sidetrip to Peru and Ecuador Nov. 14-29

Blog # 4; Peru & Ecuador side trip, November 14th – 29th, 2006.

Alas, we are back home on IN THE MOOD in Mazatlan, exhausted from traveling 8,800 air miles (4 different airlines), plus 140 mile by train and 355 miles by bus—in 15 days. Mad is sad to be back and Phil is glad! We were always moving and we did not spend enough time in some spots but were in others locations too long.

We traveled with Janet & Dennis Knight, SV “Shilling of Hamble” from Nottingham, UK, who we have traveled with previously. They are great adventurers and willing to do anything. We coordinated the planning of the trip last summer via email and SKYPE—airline passages and first night lodging in the big cities, i.e. Mexico City, Lima, Cusco, & Quito. The rest we “took it on the hoof”, a phrase Brits use to say “we find/plan things when we get there…..which is a big part of the adventure!

The highlight in Mexico City was visiting the HUGE Archeological Museum in Old Town. We just cruised the surface in 4 hours—two days would have been better but our minds were on the continent to the south so we moved on to Lima, Peru the next day. We stayed at a hotel in the Miraflores region, a very clean safe, picturesque area of the city with wonderful gardens. With our advance booking we chose 3 star hotels with prices ranging from $35-65 per night. This worked out very well; they were very clean with private bath, and always with a great breakfast included.

Day2, while viewing the “changing of the guards at Plaza Major, Madelyn came down with “tourista”; probably traced to a chicken salad she ate at the Mexico City airport-ARGH! So Phil, Dennis and Janet explored Lima while I hunkered down at the hotel for 24 hours. Phil picked up meds at the local pharmacy which aided my recovery. Two days later, Phil came down with “tourista” the day we were to tour Machu Picchu. After having NO instances in Mexico the past 12 months, we had become a bit cavalier—thinking our digestive systems were accustomed to foreign conditions, but reality set in. We took a more cautious position as to food and water consumption from then on.

The major cities in Peru-Lima, Cusco, Agua Calientes, and Puno all are cities with altitudes of 10,900ft – 12,630ft. Initially, we suffered from slight headaches, somewhat lightheaded, and short of breath. If we would have had more energy, it would have been fun to hike the “Inca Trail’, but not this trip.

Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, was a jewel—located in a valley, brown tile roofs, intricacy lad stone block walls 15”-24” inches deep having been laid 500 years ago and still intact after several massive earthquakes in the region. When the Spaniards arrived they used these massive Inca foundations for the colonial buildings they erected.

Each of the cities in Peru had a “Plaza de Arms” that served as the hub of the city with cathedrals, government buildings and businesses surrounding this public square. We could sit for hours just people watching—families strolling the plaza, political groups demonstrating for their causes, peddlers’ in your face day and night trying to shine your shoes, sell you something you did not need.

The best parts of the trip were our time at Machu Picchu and the Lake Titicaca. Both of these places were at elevation of around 12,000 feet; the ruins were interesting in that man had built a special city in a very difficult place, while the Lake Titicaca was occupied by people much the same as 600 years ago. In both places you get a view of the way they lived back then. As you tour you will hear of all the past glories they accomplished but little on today and what is happening in their lives now. We saw a lot of old churches, ruins, etc. and some more modern villages. The local people like the tourist and go out of their way to make you feel at ease.

Each country has its own charm; but Peru is covered with ruins and history, while Ecuador is jungles, volcanos, plants, birds, and people trying to live in a modern world. We really liked both countries for different reasons. What would we do different, do less things and spend more time on a few special places.

We are now back to the boat and leaving for Points South, Puerta Vallarta, in December, Etc. Phil, Madelyn & Starr

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blog # 3 Nov. 14th La Paz to Mazatlan

Blog #3 Nov. 13, 2006 La Paz to Mazatlan

La Paz---The city of “Peace” is truly a peaceful, beautiful city. This was our 4th visit to this genteel, colonial city, and each visit endears it more to us. The setting with its elegant malecon (a wide meandering landscaped footpath with hundreds of wrought iron benches) that stretches 3 miles on the waterfront, the gracious and respectful people, and their independent attitude towards tourism are quite exceptional for west coast Mexico. La Paz was a vibrant city long before the tourists invaded the Baja Peninsula. We took in some Dia los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities, worked on our boat, and reacquainted with old cruising friends. We spent a week enjoying this city before we ventured across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan.

This was our 5th crossing of the Sea and the longest—40 hours! Actually, it was quite uneventful (boring) as there was little wind, therefore, constant motoring; temps were in the 80’s day and night, and the seas were fairly calm. A full moon was our welcome companion at night. The entire way until we got within sight of Mazatlan, we saw one gypsum freight carrier, one shrimp boat, seven birds (Mad counted!), and one dead squid that evidently was a freeloader at some point on the trip, and that was it!! What ever happened to the bountiful sea life there is suppose to be in the Sea of Cortez?? We do two hour shifts at might so sleep is sporadic, but once you get into a routine and there are no emergencies, it goes quite smoothly. Starr just snoozes the entire way.

We spent our first week here at our old haunt, Marina Mazatlan, that claims to be the “cruiser’s community”. It is still surrounded by major construction projects and is going through ownership changes which brought stress to the old timer residents of the marina. But life goes on—changes always produce new challenges. The weather continues to be unseasonably hot and humid—80’s and low 90’s. We are looking forward to our trip to Peru where we will be in higher altitudes with cooler temperatures.

The past 2 weeks have been spent fixing/replacing broken and lost items, varnishing the bright work, and reacquainting with old friends. You know—“Cruising is working on your boat in exotic places!”

The boat is holding up better than the crew and if I stopped working on it, I would not have so many things to fix, Ha but we (I) like fixing the boat. We will have fun on our trip and by the time we get back the cat will not speak to us and something will need fixing.
Madelyn, Phil & Starr the boat cat
SV IN THE MOOD

Blog # 3 Nov. 13th La Paz to Mazatlan

 
 
 
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Blog #3 November 14, 2006 La Paz to Mazatlan

Blog #3 Nov. 13, 2006 La Paz to Mazatlan

La Paz---The city of “Peace” is truly a peaceful, beautiful city. This was our 4th visit to this genteel, colonial city, and each visit endears it more to us. The setting with its elegant malecon (a wide meandering landscaped footpath with hundreds of wrought iron benches) that stretches 3 miles on the waterfront, the gracious and respectful people, and their independent attitude towards tourism are quite exceptional for west coast Mexico. La Paz was a vibrant city long before the tourists invaded the Baja Peninsula. We took in some Dia los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities, worked on our boat, and reacquainted with old cruising friends. We spent a week enjoying this city before we ventured across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan.

This was our 5th crossing of the Sea and the longest—40 hours! Actually, it was quite uneventful (boring) as there was little wind, therefore, constant motoring; temps were in the 80’s day and night, and the seas were fairly calm. A full moon was our welcome companion at night. The entire way until we got within sight of Mazatlan, we saw one gypsum freight carrier, one shrimp boat, seven birds (Mad counted!), and one dead squid that evidently was a freeloader at some point on the trip, and that was it!! What ever happened to the bountiful sealife there is suppose to be in the Sea of Cortez?? We do two hour shifts at might so sleep is sporadic, but once you get into a routine and there are no emergencies, it goes quite smoothly. Starr just snoozes the entire way.

We spent our first week here at our old haunt, Marina Mazatlan, that claims to be the “cruiser’s community”. It is still surrounded by major construction projects and is going through ownership changes which brought stress to the old timer residents of the marina. But life goes on—changes always produce new challenges. The weather continues to be unseasonably hot and humid—80’s and low 90’s. We are looking forward to our trip to Peru where we will be in higher altitudes with cooler temperatures.

The past 2 weeks have been spent fixing/replacing broken and lost items, varnishing the bright work, and reacquainting with old friends. You know—“Cruising is working on your boat in exotic places!”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blog # 2 Agua Verde to La Paz

 
 
 
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Blog # 2 Agua Verde to La Paz

Blog # 2 October 29 -30th Bahia Agua Verde to La Paz
The trip down from the Midriff Islands to Santa Rosalia was fun and quick but the Puerto of Santa Rosalia was a welcome site. This town is one of my favorite spots in the sea, A lot of history is still here; and the Mexicans like their town and have maintained the old mine and foundry (very rusted out and polluted), the wood buildings the French built, Eiffel’s church, and a flavor of a small Mexican town that accepts the Gringo, but isn’t in need of us. The local people, tourists, and the cruisers all get along well; and they seem generally interested in you and what brings us to their city.

We left Santa Rosalia Oct. 22nd and headed towards Bahia Concepcion / Mulege. We were very interested in Mulege and the damage that Hurricane “John” had done, but as we closed on the town the prospect of Hurricane “Paul” coming up the Baja began to divert our attention. We skipped Mulege and tucked into a Hurricane Hole Bahia Concepcion, where we stayed with 4 other cruisers for 3 nights until we got the word, Paul died and swung east. The Hurricane was over 400 miles away but was affecting the weather in the Sea for over 500 miles. We experienced 5 inches of rain one night and little wind.

We then skipped out and sailed overnight to Puerto Escondido/ Loreto about 70 miles past a couple of great Bahia’s, but we were interested in getting to a town to get some supplies. There is always something to fix on a boat and no matter what spares you bring down, you end up missing something. Loreto is a great town, but is an area that is really old 1500’s to today; but today it is focused on tourist and Northern retirees buying property, products, condos etc.; no sense of the old Mexican town anymore. The people are great, and you can get many things, but it is not Mexican but somewhere north.
The boat is working well again and many of the items that were suffering from sitting for the summer in 100 degree heat are now smoothing out, with a lot of help from us. We got a lot of time to work on the boat at Puerto Escondido because of the Hurricane that had died, a large low was created. This caused 2 days of heavy winds out of the north (20-40 mph), which we then waited out.

We left Puerto Escondido Oct.28th for a 4 hour trip to one of the nicest spots on the Baja coast “Bahia Aqua Verde” (green water) where the water is green but clear and the fish abound for snorkeling. Mad saw a 3’ shark and many colorful fish. We had to clean up the boat because just 20 minutes before we pulled in we caught a 10# tuna, a great supper.
We are now headed down to Isla San Francisco where we will spend one night, then jump into La Paz on the 31st. IN THE MOOD arrived in La Paz to take part in Dia los Muertos, Day of the Dead. People created shrines for their deceased love ones, flowers, favorite foods, photos, mementos and sat around remembering the person. We saw one gravesight where a 6 piece band was playing for the deceased—emotion laden tunes. Schools were closed; there was more of a fiesta feeling than somberness. Young people painted their faces as skeletons and dressed in festive black clothes.
We also ran into many of our old friends and some new cruisers who are now our friends. Did several projects on the boat, replenished the supplies, received our mail, paid bills and messed one item up, so I have a new project when we get to Mazatlan after the 240 mile crossing this weekend Nov. 3-5th. The winds are supposed to be light from the NW so it should be an easy crossing with the wind behind us for the trip down.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In the Mood, Santa Rosalie, BCS 10/20/06

Blog #1 September/October 2006 Santa Rosalia, BCS, Mexico

We are back on the water again here in the Sea of Cortez! However, getting here was not an easy task!

When we arrived here in San Carlos on September 21, it seemed like we had walked into Dante’s Inferno—daytime temps of the high 90’s+, with nights just 5 degrees lower. We felt like we were dying. There was no way we could work on the boat in the hot dirty during the day; then sleep on it at night. Thank goodness for Gringo Pete’s and the Adlai, two low cost hotels with air conditioning!

The bright spot was our daughter, Chelsea, and her husband, Tuan, delivering their 6lb 12oz. baby boy soon after we arrived in Mexico. Granny Madelyn felt the calling to return to Sanders, Arizona to help out the new mom and baby, while Granddad Phil stayed in San Carlos working on the myriad of boat projects we had lined up. Phil returned to Sanders to see the baby and spend time with Chelsea and Tuan. John is the sweetest, cutest, and smartest newborn yet! It was difficult saying goodbye to then until early spring when we return from Mexico. In the Mood was calling!

Donned with a new bottom, new bilge pump, solar cell, and bimini, In the Mood returned to the water in San Carlos Marina. Reacquainting with old cruising buddies in San Carlos, Steve and Linda, (SV Linda), Judy and Ken, (SV Nellie Juan), and Mike and Mary. (SV Carpe Vita) buoyed our spirits to get out on the water again.

Finally, the evening of October 12, we released the mooring lines and headed north into the Sea of Cortez. We did not cruise the Midriff Islands (middle/northern areas) of the Sea last spring so wanted to see them this fall. Bahia Kino was our first stop. We anchored on the SE side of Isla Pelicano among a fleet of huge, smelly shrimp boats. They looked like giant lumbering dragonflies with their wings folded up as they held large rectangular metal plates with nets attached. They sleep in the daytime and fish at night. We were the only pleasure craft in the area. This turned out to be the case the entire trip north and west until we got to Bahia San Francsiquito on the east side of the Baja Peninsula.

The Midriff Islands were lovely, quiet, private anchorages. Bahia Kino was simply a strip town with a few motels, trailer parks, and restaurants. We also spent a night at an anchorage on Isla Tiburon, an island just northwest of Kino, at one point inhabited by Seri Indians who reputedly were cannibals in earlier history. We dingied ashore, strolled the main street and beaches of New Kino. Their museum was under renovation so we were unable to get the facts on the Seri Indians. The town seemed to be mostly Mexican tourists. The beaches were filled with people doing universal activities—young children building sand castles and forts with their dads, some dashing in and out of the water “sort of” swimming, 10 year old boys attempting to dig to the center of the earth, and extended families eating junk food and drinking sodas while lounging in hammocks and in the many palapas (open air huts) along the beach. There were very few hawkers as you see on the beaches in the gringo tourist areas south of here. The only hawker was selling hammocks. It was a pleasant beach at which to hang out.

Our next stop was a small island, Isla Salsipuedes, 30 miles west of Tiburon. Maneuvering into the several small anchorages required one to sail with the tide, avoid submerged rocks, reefs and a couple pinnacle rocks. Obviously, it is a passage that needs to be done in “good light” and very carefully. It proved out to be a lovely island and anchorage. We nestled our boat into a slot of water 100 ft. wide, 400 feet long with high rock banks on two sides. We had good protection from the prevailing winds. We dingied ashore with Starr so we all could stretch our legs and do some exploring. It was quite lovely, steep sides with several meadows of cactus and low brush which was as much green as brown. Last spring the Baja Peninsula was brown, rust, grey, and black, but very little green. I guess the rain god has blessed the peninsula this summer/fall.

One of the intrigues of the Midriff Islands and north is the myriad of winds, the tide changes, and currents to contend with. In some ways it seemed like we were back in the Northwest. Once you get to southern Baja, the tide and currents are minimal. The other aspect of this area which we weren’t expecting is there was NO ONE, other than shrimp boats around at any of the anchorages or even traveling through the area. After 4-5 days of solitude we were looking forward to San Francisquito where we heard on the cruiser’s net (single side band radio) there were other cruisers hanging out there, and they were right. This was a little closer to civilization again. We spent a couple days there before doing the long 70 mile jump to Santa Rosalia, the most northerly port we visited last year. We made the trip in record time 11 hours, thanks to 20-25mph northwesterly winds that carried us south. It was quite a ride, with no problems other than having to hand steer the entire way. Our Sabre is a bit squirrelly going downwind. “Otto” can’t handle it!

It is nice to be here in the marina at Santa Rosalia. Amazingly, four of the 10 boats here are from Seattle area! We could come up with many reasons for us all being here at this time. Save that for another blog. Phil, Madelyn, and Starr on SV In the Mood
 
 
 
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Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2, 2006--BACK IN THE USA!

Blog Readers--
Alas, we are back in the Northwest safely. The return trip via car provided some challenges, (three breakdowns) but we are pleased to see friends and family. Starr is crazy about being on land--hunting birds, mice, bunnies, chasing flies, and just running randomly everywhere! Perhaps she will lose her nickname of Marshmellow.

Our homeless days may be numbered as we are in the process of buying a small 2 bedroom cottage just outside Anacortes. Madelyn is anxious to begin working on a "nest" and digging in the dirt again.

As you may or may not know, "In the Mood" is on the hard enjoying the sun in San Carlos, Mexico for the summer . We plan to return to cruising Mexico for another winter this fall.

Friends--you may contact us at mpcase@earthlink.net this summer. We would love to hear from you. Cheers! Phil, Madelyn, and Starr