Monthly Archives: July 2018

Santa Cruz with a Sprinkle of San Fran and a Dash of Google

We left Kernville and made a long drive to Santa Cruz, CA.  The KOA there was really nice with reasonable sized spaces and many activities for families to enjoy.  They were pretty strict on the rules, but we are finding that to be true everywhere! Once again the golf cart patrol was quick to tell us if we had an extra car in the space or if the dog had gotten out of the RV without her leash on.

This was the fanciest KOA we have seen. They had activities scheduled for most days, including one yoga class which I enjoyed.  There was a small, semi-outdoor bar/restaurant and a nice playground. The vibe was positive and it was great to see so many families enjoying the activities available on the beautiful, shaded grounds.

Happily, Hunter’s place of employment was close enough to our RV spot that he chose to commute to work from Temporary Digs.  We missed Clayton, but were glad to have the extra time with Hunter.

The days were filled with activity; biking, surfing, kite boarding and exploring Santa Cruz in between walking the dog and hanging “at home.” Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures, but I’ll share some I did take.

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This double track leads uuuupp to the start of some trails in Santa Cruz.

I mentioned that Hunter had finally been bitten by the mountain biking bug as is evidenced by this picture of him with his new “toy.” A big shout out to Scotts Valley Cycle Sports where Hunter made his purchase.  This is an excellent bike shop with nice stock and excellent customer service.  We highly recommend them!

 

Love this retro van which is as old as I am!

Speaking of toys, take a look at this vintage van we saw in Santa Cruz. This is the first time I have seen a Chevrolet Greenbriar which was built between 1961-65.  Pretty cool looking.  We spotted it outside of the Santa Cruz Bicycle Factory.

We took a tour of the Santa Cruz Bicycle factory, which was interesting, but the guide would benefit from a script to include more facts and information. 🙂      (No pictures were allowed.)

The town of Santa Cruz was surprisingly interesting to us. It has a population of around 65,000 and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.  Because of its size, there are plenty of restaurants, bike shops, surf shops, grocery stores, etc, so we didn’t lack for anything. We were even able to have routine maintenance on our truck while in Santa Cruz.

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A blustery morning in Santa Cruz.

The morning we had our truck worked on, we brought out bikes and toured the town while the truck was otherwise occupied.  It was fun just to tool about and take in Santa Cruz. We had the unusual experience of needing a jacket! What a delightful change from the temperatures we always had during summer in Texas.

As if great biking, surfing and kiting possibilities weren’t enough to make us enjoy Santa Cruz, there is a marina as well!

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Perhaps one day we will come back in our sailboat?!

Our RV site was about a 45 minute drive from Santa Cruz, but we found ourselves returning to SC almost every day. If possible, the next time we visit this area, I would find an RV site closer to Santa Cruz even though the Costanoa KOA was a very nice place.

The Fourth of July Holiday fell during our time in Santa Cruz and Clayton was able to join us for the day. We celebrated by, wait for it…… riding bikes!! SURPRISE!

Pics from our rides in Santa Cruz:

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Frank is a tree-hugger!

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Maybe not everything is bigger in Texas.

We did branch out (haha) a little from Santa Cruz when we visited Google in Mountain View, CA.  Working “conditions” are certainly different from when I worked in downtown Dallas.  My employer did not provide any of the perks that are standard at Google…. onsite places to eat (for free), bicycles to commute between buildings, entertainment on site, green space to “refresh” your energy, etc.

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Google was empty due to the July 4th holiday.

We also drove to San Francisco to see the city with Hunter as our tour guide. Rather than contend with parking, we took our bikes on the subway into the SF and spent the whole day puttering around.

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Lunch spot, Mission Delores Park – we were the only ones with this idea!

Hunter found us a spot in the family friendly section of the park which is pictured here. This section was full of interesting sights, like the camping tent with a big “30” on top for a birthday celebration, the guy carrying a h-u-g-e python around his neck (which apparently is a chic magnet?!), a little girl walking a cat, a few games I was unfamiliar with and a wide variety of dress styles.  The other side of the park was a little more revealing in terms of skin and lifestyle choices.  All in all, very interesting. It was very fun to see so many people out enjoying the fresh air. (Side note, Frank and I were slightly above the average age in the park!)

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Hunter and I enjoying a view of the bay…. or maybe I was resting at the top of a hill?

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What trip to SF is complete without seeing this icon?

This picture was taken from Crissy Field, a spot where many people hang out and is fairly popular with kiteboarders as well.  Unfortunately kiters here often need to be rescued because several factors are less than favorable: gusty winds, currents, ship traffic, etc. We were only at Crissy Field for about 15 minutes but we saw one kiter returned to shore by the SF Marine Police.

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Hunter and Frank considering the kiting possibilities?

Although we didn’t hit all the highlights of SF, since it was only a one day visit, we did see quite a bit of the city, including Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Wharf itself was overrun with people!! Even on bikes it was hard to move through the streets and weave between the tourists. I was glad to see the area but was happy it wasn’t a major part of our agenda.

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Gratuitous photo of the bike trails because they are pretty.

We spent a lot of time on these pine needle strewn paths, listening to the sounds of the woods and getting a little exercise during our time in Santa Cruz.  With so little time in Santa Cruz, we were only able to scratch the surface of available trails for mountain biking or hiking, but the trails we did ride were very fun and had enough variety to satisfy me as a cautious rider and the guys who are much more adventurous.

I don’t know what wintertime is like near Santa Cruz, but I wouldn’t mind spending more time here if the weather is mild.  I’m not sure our Caribbean spoiled bones would survive snow and I know we don’t have the clothing for freezing temperatures but perhaps we will consider returning here before the new boat is delivered.

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California Here We Come ~ In Bits and Pieces ~ Kernville First.

I’ve decided to begin doing short posts because we have had surprisingly limited internet speeds and that makes blogging very time consuming. Plus, those who know Frank know we always have to stay busy and finding time to write when we aren’t driving or doing is difficult.

Once we left Grand Junction, we high tailed over to California, choosing to save exploring Utah for the fall when it might be slightly cooler than it is now.  Everyone knows California has some beautiful places and we wanted to explore a few from the RV.

Cali-1Scenes as we drove to Kernville.

Kernville is on the southern edge of the Sequoia National Forest about 50 miles east and slightly north of Bakersfield, CA. The drive to Kernville was scenic and easy with a one night stop in Hurricane, UT just to break up the drive.

When I think of California, I envision the coast, so I enjoyed seeing the arid, mountainous aspects of the state.

CaliCan you imagine trying to cross this terrane in a covered wagon?

Our RV park in Kernville was the Kern River Sequoia RV Resort.  The campsite backs up to the Kern River and our particular site had a small stream behind it. The stream was a very popular spot for neighbors to plop their chairs in the stream while the kids played in and around the water.

IMG_5293 2I forgot to take a pic of the campground but you get an idea in this picture.

Our sons joined us for the weekend so our family was together for the first time since Christmas in Bonaire. That was quite a treat!

As usual, we stayed very busy, mostly mountain biking.  Frank transferred the mountain biking bug to Clayton way back when he was in high school, but Hunter was slower to get hooked.  However, after this trip, Hunter has also succumbed to MB Fever.

KernvilleThree amigos prepping for a ride.

I dropped off the guys at the top of Cannell Trail and they spent the next several hours bombing down the mountain then riding back to the RV. Cannell is listed as an Epic Trail by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) and it needed to be done.  Frank reports that this isn’t the best Epic he has ridden, but they still had a great time.

Cali-2Cappy really wanted to run the whole trail!

Captain really wanted to run the trail, but it was too long for her.  She trotted along behind Frank near the drop off point until it was time for them to leave.  The trail was beyond my comfort zone and I was the designated drop driver, so once Frank, Hunter and  Clayton left, Cappy and I hiked a bit and enjoyed the scenery.

Kernville-2Clayton, assessing the mountain?

Kernville-3Hunter looks very serious about this ride.

Kernville-1Do those cute ears make you think of Yoda?

Our campsite was well shaded and the little creek behind us was great for cooling off for both us and the dog.

Cali-3Why don’t you get wet instead of taking my picture?

Floating the Kern River was pretty popular but we only had a couple of days in Kernville and biking took precedence over all else. In addition to two mountain bike rides, Frank and I enjoyed a few excellent road rides after the kids returned to work. (It is really strange to have our kids leave for work and we just continue to play!!)

Kernville-4Not a bad view as we biked along the road.

I find it very difficult to reconcile the visual effects of the mountains and the streams when I am biking. Often it looks like I’m riding downhill but feels like I am riding uphill because of the illusion the landscape creates on the incline. Generally Frank reads the grade better than I do, so I follow his lead on which direction to ride first so I’ll have a downhill ride on the way back.  But it is hard to believe him when my eyes are trying to tell me I’m going downhill!

I guess this is a gentle way of increasing my trust in Frank’s decisions because once I turned around on the rides, I was very surprised to find just how uphill the ride was on the way out. Going home was definitely downhill ~ woohoo!!!   Even when the road appears to be going downhill, if I am riding against the flow of the river, I know I am moving uphill….

Does anyone else experience difficulty determining uphill from downhill when the mountains converge near the road you are riding?

Anyway, Kernville was an excellent first stop in California. Of course it was heavily influenced by having the family together!  I’m very happy we will be in California and in closer proximity to the kids for a few weeks!

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

Although there is a looonng way to go, the most recent update from HH shows some exciting progress on our cat.  Apparently the interior painting is now complete and exterior paint will begin this week. Very exciting!  I just have to remember that even though these steps make it look like we have made a big leap toward completion, there are many less obvious and vital steps before completion.

_____201807201548012Starboard aft berth.

_____201807201548013Facing forward in the master hull; two sinks inboard, the head outboard, then the shower.

In the second photo, you can see some of the customizations HH has made on our hull.  LIB was set up as a four cabin, four head boat which was perfect for chartering and actually was very comfortable for us while we lived on board. However, on out HH55 we have chosen to reduce the number of heads and showers to just one in each hull.

In an effort to retain personal space and convenience when we revert to sharing a head, we redesigned the forward area of the owner’s hull. We changed the head from an enclosed area that included one sink, one shower and a toilet in the following way:  1. we removed the doorway into the whole area to make it feel less congested, 2. we enclosed the head for privacy but still allow access to the shower if someone is using the toilet and 3. we added a second sink so we have our own spaces.

Although we had our own heads on LIB, we think these small alterations to our HH55 will allow us to easily share one bathroom and reduce the total number of heads on board.

We very much appreciate Gino Morrelli’s help reworking the spaces in our Morrelli and Melvin designed HH55.  Gino knows every space and weight of these boats and he was instrumental in helping us figure out where to make interior changes that would make this awesome boat work for our purposes.

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Missing the Twin Cayes, Drowned Cayes and Especially Caye Caulker

After Susan and Kevin left us in early April, it was time to leave Placencia and move north through Belize and begin watching for a weather window to make the leap to Galveston, TX.  Originally we planned on stopping at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, but we had heard all kinds of things about the complications of checking into and out of Mexico.  We were only going to have a day or two to visit there, so we decided to skip Isla Mujeres this trip.  Our thought is that we will have a lot of time in Mexico on the western side when we move south from California on the new boat, so our visit would wait.

Anyway, instead of spending two days in Mexico, we decide to stay a bit longer in Belize and see a couple of islands on our way north.  We set out from Placencia and sailed about 29nm to Twin Cayes. We were the last boat to arrive in this beautiful anchorage because we had waited until late in the morning to leave Placencia to make sure a weather system had passed.  Also, we think overnight passages inside the barrier reef of Belize are a bad idea because the charts are poor and there is a lot of shallow water.

belize-9 Three other boats were anchored in Twin Cayes

Twin Cayes is very well protected and an excellent place to hide from weather as evidenced by one of the boats which had been anchored there for three days before we arrived. There was a pretty decent wind storm predicted along with unruly seas and Twin Cayes was a prefect hiding place.

The next morning we left Twin Cayes and sailed 41nm to Dronwed Cayes. Drowned Cayes is another island of mangrove trees with inlets running through it and no development that we saw.  We meandered through the twisting inlet, closely watching our depth sounder since our charts were unreliable or unmarked, and found a perfect spot to drop anchor.

Once anchored, we grabbed our masks and fins and jumped in the water to see if we could get close to the dolphins that were playing near the boat as we settled the anchor.  Frank was the first in and I quickly followed.  But just as I was beginning to swim toward the dolphins, Captain jumped in the water to give chase as well.

Cappy was not going to help us get close to the dolphins, so I grabbed her and we swam back to LIB.  Frank continued toward the dolphins, but they quickly swam away.

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Although this panoramic picture is a little distorted, it offers a good view of Drowned Caye.

Drowned Caye was perfectly quiet and we felt like we were all alone in an undiscovered land. We pulled out the SUPs and explored some of the narrow fingers of water until they dead ended or exited to the ocean.  What a delightful end to a fairly long day of sailing.

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The red route to Caye Caulker and the yellow was a very challenging route out of the reef.

The next morning we picked up early and headed toward Caye Caulker. The route we took from Drowned Cayes to Caye Caulker had a several shallow spots and we had to pick and choose our way through the water including a skinny cut at Hicks Caye where we passed two barges coming the opposite direction. I am very thankful that we have a good amount of experience reading the water. It certainly augments chart information and the depth sounder!

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Caye Caulker has charming streets and few automobiles.

Caye Caulker was absolutely delightful! This was by far our favorite stop in Belize. Although we were watching for a weather window, we enjoyed a week on this pretty and laid back island. Cay Caulker is small, but has a ton of things to offer. Along the dirt streets are plenty of shops and small groceries, restaurants and tour companies. The people were happy and very welcoming!

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Stressless Tours was excellent!

We chose to take a snorkeling tour from Stressless Tours and we had a perfectly amazing day. Everyone we interacted with from Stressless was positive, welcoming and accommodating.  Our day began with a stop to see a seahorse hanging out by a peer, which was great since that brought my seahorse in the wild count up to three.

Our day with Stressless included a stop to swim with manatees, with specific instructions that we were not pester or approach the manatees.

All together we stopped in five places during our tour and got in the water in three of them. Our guides were superb! They jumped in the water with us and pointed out all kinds of coral and fish, teaching about their surroundings and sharing their efforts to protect the reefs and marine life.

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Mr. Manatee is very chill!

We were extremely impressed with Stressless Tours.  They even asked us to refrain from using sunscreen and they provided a special lotion which is designed with protection of the reefs in mind. It is great to see a forward thinking company like Stressless.

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The fish are cool, but I loved that turtle!

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Plenty of fish and sharks where another boat was chumming.

Because of the storm system just prior to our arrival at Caye Caulker, there were no other boats in the anchorage when we arrived. But there was plenty (in a positive way) of activity with fishing, snorkeling and diving boats coming in and out of the area.

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This boat carrying cinder blocks to a building site motored past us one morning.

We heard that San Pedro, an island right next to Caye Caulker, was a lot like Caye Caulker before it became so populated so we took a 20 minute ferry ride to that neighboring island to see it for ourselves.

It didn’t take long to decide we much preferred the less crowded and slower pace of Caye Caulker to the hectic crowds of San Pedro.  We rented a golf cart and found San Pedro teeming with cars, bikes and golf carts.

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Sorry it’s blurry….no stopping for pics without getting honked at!

We did find a very pretty Catholic Church in San Pedro and we took a minute to look inside and be thankful for the opportunity to explore so many places.

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San Pedro Roman Catholic Church

We drove the golf cart from one end of the island to the other and stopped at a poorly attended market where we didn’t find anything we wanted to buy.  But we did chuckle when we found a Boomer Sooner graduate had set up a cafe! Of course we sent a picture to our youngest son who graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

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A taste of Oklahoma in Belize!!

Pretty quickly we decided to head back to the ferry dock and return to Caye Caulker where the vibe was slower and more laid back. Since we had to wait an hour or so for the ferry we took refuge at Palapa Bar.  I can definitely see the appeal of this bar where you can order a drink from your inner tube and have it delivered from a bucket on a pulley system!

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Definitely bring your swim suit if you stop at the Palapa Bar!

Back in Caye Caulker, we decided we should sign up for a dive tour since this would be our last opportunity to dive for quite a while.  We found a very good tour company and signed up for a two tank day.

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We saw a fish ball/circle. Pretty cool.

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This grouper came right up to me while filming.

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Oh hello! Mr. Shark came swimming right toward me from over this reef.

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The reef walls created a canyon like feeling underwater.

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I’m turning to keep this shark in view….no sneaking up behind me, please!

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The bar by The Split.

After a day under water, we decided to relax in the sun and hang out at a bar near “the split.” The split is where, in 1961, Hurricane Hattie caused a break in Caye Caulker Island.  The locals use the split to boat to the opposite side of the island and a smart business man opened a bar where folks can hang out.  The split is a perfect place to grab a drink, watch people enjoy the water and check out shallow draft boats going through the channel.

Our time in Caye Caulker was a fabulous way to end our time in Belize. We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxed and comfortable place to prepare for our passage to Texas.  If you have a chance to visit Belize, make sure Caye Caulker is on your list of places to spend a few nights!

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Sunset from the anchorage at Caye Caulker.

Next time I’ll talk about our passage from Caye Caulker to Galveston.  We had a great sail, but we definitely had some interesting times.  And the beginning of our journey getting out of the Belize Barrier Reef was a bit of a challenge!

Thank you for reading our blog.  We appreciate your taking time to share our travels.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

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