Driving the Baja
05 January 2019
Blog Update: Driving the Baja
We had talked to a couple of people who had driven the Baja and were told that the roads were “not bad” and that there were plenty of gas stations, other then that, nothing special. We were surprised to find the road leaving Ensenada was pretty good. Further down the road we found that at times the road turned into brand new four lane and at other times old single lane full of chuckholes. At one point we were driving on a rough dirt road as we were detoured around construction work. All in all the road was “not terrible”. We were also surprised to see vineyard after vineyard as we drove up into mountains. Who knew Mexico had so many vineyards, it looked like Napa Valley. We drove for an hour or two before starting to see cactus. It was fascinating to watch as different species of cactus began to appear the further south we drove. At one point the cactus, or whatever it was, looked just like the “trees” out of Dr. Sueuss’s “Lorax”, weird. At another juncture there were so many cactus of all variety ranging anywhere for a few feet to 20 foot tall, that it looked like a forest. After 6 hours we began seeing huge boulders, the further we drove the bigger they got. Some the size of volkswagons. Then we began to see piles of boulders, like a mountain of volkswagon size stones. We had arrived at Catavina and the famous bolder fields of Catavina. Here we found were many early indigenous rock paintings thousands of years old. The little “town” of Catavina is made up of a no longer functioning gas station (luckily we packed extra fuel), a couple derelict “motels”, a little store and our four star Mission Hotel. We thought it funny no one had mentioned the bolder fields as they were unlike anything we had ever seen or the amazing cactus forests. We had an amazing Filet Mignion (an unexpected treat) for our “New Years Eve celebration”. After a great night sleep we headed south the next day. It was cold as heck as we walked out the front door, it was forty degrees outside. I didn’t realize we had gained a bunch of elevation and were at 2,000 ft. That equals a ten degree drop in temp (for every 2,000 feet). As we continued south we were amazed by the towering mountain peaks and huge flat plateaus with big dried up lakes. It was apparent that these big lakes would again fill when the next big storm comes in. We took lots of pictures of these towering mountains as we were very surprised to see them. But some times we say a picture just can’t show the what we are seeing, some times you just have to be there. I had always thought of the Baja as being flat with nothing but dry dessert. We ended our second day arriving in the sea shore town of Santa Rosalia. It sits on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja, approximately 300 miles north of La Paz. We had not been able to book a room here so we thought we would try at a hotel we had stayed at when we came down in 2015. Luckily we were able to get a room, such as it was. It was quite a step down from the previous night. Our backs hurt the next day due to the bed. We tried to find some coffee but no Starbucks around, so we settled for some crappy brewed stuff which is better then the instant that most Mexican restaurants serve. We drove for two hours and stopped at Loreto to fill up. While getting gas I asked the guy behind me if he knew of any good coffee in this town. We were blown away when he said that the hotel down on the beach served Starbucks! We could not believe our luck and promptly headed for the hotel. We had a lot of road a head of us still and headed toward the town of Guererro Negro, which interestingly is back over on the pacific side The road has to go back over across the peninsula to avoid the high mountains heading south. The Baja is anything but flat. We had a nice “traditional” lunch in this very poor little town. While there we were able to provide a meal for a street dog and an old man in the park, always puts a smile on our faces, we are so fortunate to live the life we do. As we got closer to La Paz the flatter the land got. Now this is what I pictured the Baja to be, flat and dry. As we rolled into town in darkness. We luckily had our handi new GPS phone that guided us right to our hostel. We had also stayed here back in 2015. It is a small but clean little place. Individual rooms with a central kitchen, we stayed here three weeks last time but this time we are staying only three days. It even came with a cat. As we travel we often seem to find cats to feed, as we both love cats, they are like little aliens. So tomorrow we check out and into our “new home”. Leiann had already booked this new place and it will be the first place that she can call her own for a whole month since we got back from Europe. We have a friend (Kris) coming to hang with us for a week or so. She had come to visit us in Rome also. We like to leave an open invitation for friends and family to come stay with us in exotic locations as we travel. We have had some great times doing this. After Kris leaves hopefully the boat will be ready and I will fly up to start the trip down with the boat. We expected it to be a little warmer down here, as it was in the sixties yesterday, dropping down in the fifties at night. Today it got up to mid 70’s so more to our liking. It might be another few weeks before we start getting those 80 degree days we love. Even weirder a new hurricane forming a thousand miles south of us. The hurricane season normally ends at the beginning of November, global warming! We look forward to spending a few months here in La Paz and be able to do some sailing in the Sea of Cortez. Stay tuned for more adventures.
We arrived back in Ensenada, Mexico (agian)
30 December 2018
Blog Update Mexico
We have now been in Ensenada for a little over a month. It’s been great getting back to Mexico. The people are great and the tacos Al Pastor are the best. Leiann ended up driving down to Ensenada after all and met me at the Hotel Coral Marina. As was our experience here seven years ago, we were treated like we were a somebody. We have enjoyed the pool and hot tub, restaurant and feral cats (that we feed). It’s been a little cool here at times (low fifties at night) but still many days in the low seventies. We have had a few rainy days also, but when we look at the weather up north we realize how good we have it. We have enjoyed some “down time” and in general “chilling”. I have worked on a few boat projects (they never end), but at a very relaxed pace. I need something to do anyway. It is now December 30 and we will be leaving the boat here and are going to leave tomorrow to drive to La Paz. We decided to do this rather than fly down. But we will do it at a relaxed pace driving six hours or so for three days, staying in hotels and enjoying views. We will stay at a little town on Sea of Cortez side on our trip down, that we had visited back in 2015 when we “backpacked” it down throughMexico on our way to South America. We already have a nice little Casita rented in La Paz with a pool! We have pulled the boat out of the water and are having it painted while we travel south. I will be in contact with the yard and when it is finished will return and bring it down to La Paz. I have advertised for and put together a crew list of 10 candidates. I will make a final choice of crew when I get back as crew often have things come up and can’t make it at the last minute. This way I have back up. Many want to have the adventure of sailing down the Baja. When we head out the boat will be sporting new paint, a new roller furling and new lazy jacks (a group of lines that allow you to drop the main sail quickly and hold it in place). We will stock up on provisions before we go so we’ll have lots of goodies. Maybe I’ll spring for Mexican fishing licenses and gear and do a little fishing on the way down as the Dorado Fishing is great down the Baja. We are at the moment headed over for one last check on the boat before we go over to a sports bar to watch our Seahawks take on the Cardinals. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
Chrysalis's journey down the coast
07 November 2018 | San Diego
Nice and warm!
I last posted a blog when we were still up in Port Angeles WA. We have had a cold and less then idealistic trip south. We left Neah Bay with my three green crew Stan, Connie and Terry. Terry had owned his own boat ten years ago, but had never been offshore. Stan and Connie had never been offshore either and were near virgins to sailing. We did an over night to West Port with mild conditions, uneventful other than continued issues with fuel problems. This has been an extremely frustration problem and has persisted despite repeated fuel polishing (tank cleaning), addition of an additional filter system and many many replacement filters. In the middle of the night as soon as I tried to lay down to get a couple minutes sleep the engine would die and I would have to drain the sediment bowl, change the filter (sometimes all three) then bleed the air out of the entire system. So at one point in the night the batteries went dead from trying to start the engine. So I started the generator to charge the batteries and finally got it started avoiding an expensive tow into West Port. In West Port we tried to leave the next day but had to turn back because of huge swells and high winds right in our face(this despite mild weather predictions). It was quite a ride getting the boat back in over the bar, at times surfing the boat at 13 knots, double our hull speed. Surfing the boat requires much attention to steering to keep the boat going straight and not allow the waves to push us sideways. After a three day delay in West Port we finally got a weather window and headed out for New Port, Oregon. We again had multiple fuel issues, some heavy weather and rain. We did get some time of sun and wind which the crew enjoyed. The crew did well learning to live on little sleep and meals such as are possible to prepare underway ( minimal cooked meals on the stove to avoid pots flying across the galley). Lots of granola bars, beef jerky, fruit, can of chili or such. All of my virgin crew did well with taking their night watches. We had some pretty cold rainy nights. We were lucky to find a slip in Newport, Oregon at a four star hotel marina. The crew enjoyed the pool and hot tub. Also the town is a little historic port so they had time to stroll around, explore and relax. Meanwhile I continued to work on fuel filtering, running the engine for long periods trying to be pro active. I was having trouble with the starter solenoid and ended up rebuilding the starter. Later I was finally able to find a new one, so now had a spare. This seems to fix the problem, I started the engine repeatedly without fail. We finally got a weather window to leave New Port and headed down to Winchester Bay (twenty miles north of Coos Bay. At this point it became apparent that I would have to replace the whole starter as the problem returned and now needed an alternator to boot. I had a spare alternator on the boat and took all three items back up 50 miles to Newport to have them tested/rebuilt. They told me they were too old and all needed replaced. So to the tune of $750 I had a new starter and alternator. We had lost one crew member in Newport (Terry) and picked up another (Keith). Keith disappeared in Winchester Bay. I ended up having to wait for the new starter and alternator and then was once again stuck waiting for a weather window. I met a couple new friends on the dock (Miguel who might help get the boat down the Baja in December) and Jason who was starting a new venture in his life buying and fitting out a fishing boat. It is always interesting meeting folks along the way. Stan and Connie ran out of time, as I was not sure how long it was going to take to get the parts. Leiann came down to stay with me as she was already following me down the cost and was in Oregon. The coast guard had the bar completely closed the bar due to high swell and wind for days. Finally they opened it for commercial boats above 40 foot. I told Leiann as soon as they opened it for 30 and up I was heading out. Within minutes of that statement they opened it up and I headed out to cross the bar alone. As I passed the coast guard look out station they honked their horn at me. I did not know what to make of that so kept going. Then I thought I heard a siren behind me but thought maybe it was a fire truck or something. Then I looked way out over the bar and saw a huge breaking wave coming in. I tuned around and surfed it until it dissipated,, then turned again and headed out once more this time I made it out past the bar and big breaking waves. I then called the coast guard as I was in no position to call them earlier. Apparently they had thought my boat was not over the 30 foot minimum, so they were trying to stop me. They asked if I would be coming back soon and I said no I was headed to Mexico. I think they were going to give me a talking to if I returned. I made it down to Coos Bay and over the bar there without any trouble. I did some more work on the boat there and picked up two new crew members off Lat 38 magazine crew listings. We again waited for a decent weather opening and despite waiting, we still ended up with high winds and 15 foot following seas all night. Richard (one of my new crew) was a complete virgin so I could not put him at the helm in these seas, so me and Leo (my other new crew) steered thought the night making it into Crescent Bay, California. We had a couple of weird days of 80 degree weather there, which we really appreciated after being cold up north, staying two nights before heading out for Eureka, Cal. We headed out the next day for Fort Bragg, needing to get around the infamous Cape Mendocino. This time our weather report was a little better. It had predicted 15 to 18 knots, but we ended up with 22-24. One we got around the point things calmed down a bit and we made it into Fort Bragg at 4am. We waited for daylight and then navigated the bar and narrow channel in without issue. We spent two enjoyable days there. Leo left the boat here. I picked up another crewmen, Wes and we headed out the next day. From Fort Brag we day sailed down to Bodega Bay (just north of San Diego) and anchored over night and headed our early the next morning. On our way across the San Francisco delta bar we saw many Humpback whales breaching out of the water and ended up hitting one! At least that is the best explanation we could come up with. We had whales all around us and were in 300 foot of water. We were motoring along at 7 knots. All of a sudden it was as if we hit a sandbar, knocking our speed from 7 to 2. We put the boat in neutral and looked in the water for a log or something. We saw nothing, not blood, nothing. So a whale seems to be the only explanation. The boat seemed ok so we continued on to Half Moon Bay. We took on fuel in the morning and continued onto Monterrey. On the way we once again hit another whale. Exactly the same scenario, seeing nothing in the water, broad daylight, 300 feet of water, bringing the boat to a near full stop at 7 knots, motoring. We continued on to Morro Bay and planned a haulout to inspect the bottom as now we had a problem with the steering, later we discovered the second strike broke the rudder upper bearing. We hauled the boat the next day and to our relief the underside looked fine. There was paint missing at the front and bottom of the keel. We could see where the rudder had slammed back against the hull and knocked some paint off the bottom of the boat. The next day I cut the bottom of the cockpit out so that I could access the upper bushing. As it turned out the plywood that the upper bushing was attached to was dry rotted. This may have been a good thing as it allowed the rudder to move rather then break. We spent two days rebuilding the bushing with epoxy and fiberglass. After the repair was completed it was now much stronger then before. Hopefully it will last another forty years! We really enjoyed Morro Bay, despite the repairs, but if you have to fix your boat, nice to do it in a picturesclittle port town. We then headed out to get around the last of the capes going south, Cape Conception. It is at this point that the coast line turns east and the coast line becomes very dry and the temps warm up. We spent the night in a little protected anchorage around the point called Coho. Very early (4 am) we were up and headed for Ventura. We took off our sweatshirts and enjoyed a very nice sunny sail down the coast. As we passed Santa Barbra I was still amazed that the coast line was still barren of houses. The mountains come right up to the coast and Santa Barbara sits right on the edge with the only access to the town being up or down the coast. I never expected to see a place in California without houses but the California coast is surprisingly barren of trees and houses once you get around Cape Mendocino all the way down to Ventura and Oxnard. These are the first large buildings you see coming down the coast from San Francisco. And even in San Fran you cannot see the city from the sea so the coastline still looks very barren. We spent spent a couple days in Ventura before heading out to Santa Catalina Island. We day sailed to Catalina 70 miles arriving in the north of the island in the dark. The coast of the island has mooring balls all along it and coming in in the dark was a little confusing trying to find our way. We found a mooring ball and bedded down for the night. Early the next morning we took off for Avalon Bay in the south of the island. Avalon was (is)) the play ground for the rich and famous. Back in the roaring twenty's the Wrigley's family (as in gum) owned the island and had a famous theater built specifically for the invention of talking movies. Lots of history here of lavish parties back in the day. Most movie stars make it over to Catalina at some point. Leiann jumped on the Catalina Express and came over for a few hours. We wandered the town, had a nice dinner together and I put her back on the boat to Long Beach. After two nights in Avalon we set sail for San Diego, arriving just before dark. Leiann met us at the dock, having already paid for a slip for us. Wes had stayed over in Avalon as he did not make it back in time to catch the last water taxi. He met us in San Diego after he took the ferry over. Leiann had an Airbnb rented so last night we spent the night together after leaving the boys at the boat. I have a couple things to do to the boat before leaving for Ensenada. The crew is leaving the boat so it looks like I will be making the trip down to Ensenada alone. It’s only 60 miles so a day sail. I will put the boat in the Marina Hotel Coral and then take a bus back up to meet Leiann in Diego and then we will drive our car down. That is so we will have a car to run errands as I plan to do some work on the boat. We plan to have the boat at the hotel for a month, chill by the pool and just relax after a long trip south. In December we plan to rent a little house (casita) while we put the boat on the hard and paint it. Then somewhere around mid December I will sail down the Baja to La Paz and Leiann will fly down to meet me. We will get rid of the car before I leave Ensenada as we will not need it in La Paz. The plan at this point is to rent a little casita in La Paz, have the boat in the marina and be able to take it out on sails to the nearby islands for the season. Then put it on the hard for the summer as we head back to the US to see our grand kids and return the following winter to La Paz. Well at least that is the current plan. Stay tuned.
Our new journey begins
15 September 2018
Cold and Rainy
Heading South (Again)
I am sitting on our boat in the Port Angeles marina contemplated the journey ahead. 1400 miles to San Diego and then another 1000 to Lapaz Mexico. Last time it took two and half months to get to Mazatlan (an additional 200 miles). It is a daunting task to think about. Rather then trying to do a straight shoot down like last time, I plan to make several stops along the way to break up the trip. I have three crew signed up for the trip each planning to hop off at some point south, so I may be looking for crew further south. This time we have a SPOT device that sends a message of our position as a email to Leiann and other crew members families. This should go a long way in decreasing family anxiety by knowing where we are and that all is well. The weather has gotten quite cold all of a sodden letting us (and the geese) know it’s time to go. We arrived back in the states on June 14th from our nine month trip in Europe and it has been a dead run for the last three months seeing our families and friends and trying to get a forty year old boat ready for sea. I will be updating the blog along the way. We head out to Neah Bay tomorrow at daylight and then leave Neah Bay for West port on Tuesday. We have a good weather window for leaving. So stay tuned for more Chrysalis (III) Adventures.
Summer back in the USA
13 August 2018
We have now been back in the US for two whole months. It's been a madcap time of running around seeing our grand kids, family and friends. We spent a few days with our friend Terre in Canada (thanks Terre) then spent some time with our friend Kris (thanks Kris) then over to visit my family in Port Angeles. We spent several days with my sister Darcy (thanks Darcy) suffice it to say we sleep around being homeless and all. Our daughter Vanessa and her husband Eli bought our old motor home after we left last year and have been nice enough to let us stay in it this summer. We have had roasted hot dogs and made s'mores, swam with the kids in the pool here at Thousand Trails along with many family get togethers. Coming home is always a busy time for us trying to pack as much "catch up time" in as we can. We have began our next adventure buying a 38 foot boat that we will sail once again to Mexico, in Sept. We cannot afford to spend enough money to buy a boat that is ready to go and does not need work, but tried to find one that was basically ready to sail away from the dock needing more cosmetic work and stuff that would not take to much time to repair. So I have spent the last six weeks changing out all thru hulls, bottom paint, standing rigging, engine water pump and now leaking water tanks. Old boats are ALWAYS needing stuff fixed and as has always been the case on project just leads to the next. I am now starting to feel "crunch time" as we plan to leave Sept 12th or so. We plan to sail down to Ensanada and then staying there a few months while we have the boat painted and do more "projects" before continuing south and onto the Sea of Cortez for the season. Once again Leiann will not be making the trip down the coast as she does not like rough water and the west coast can be nasty at times. I told her that if she was willing to cruise the Sea of Cortez for a couple of years I would 1. Get a bigger boat (our last being only 29ft) and 2. Put air conditioning on it for her and 3. That she could fly to destinations that required multiple overnight legs. Now she says she wants to cruise down the Baja and re-visit the places we stopped at seven years ago. So we will try to spend as much time as we can with our grand babies before we leave and try to get the big projects done on the boat over the next month. Time flies when your having fun! I read once that the secret to a happy life is to instantly look forward to doing the next thing rather than to be looking back at the past, works for us. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
European wrap up
14 June 2018
Blog Update: European Wrap Up
It is June 13th 2018, tomorrow we fly back to the states after our nine month adventure in Europe. It has been an eye opening amazing experience. We have made a trip to the north to see Florence and Pisa and another to the south to see Pompeii and Hurcleon. We had saved Rome to spend with our friends who were coming to visit. After nearly a month in Italy we have seen so much but realize we have just scratched the surface. We try to see as much as we can but still take time to relax and enjoy our surroundings. There is so much to tell about the city of Rome, I will try to keep it as brief as I can but still bring you our reader along with us. When we flew into to Rome we were told by our new landlords to come to a restaurant in the neighborhood and he would come and get us at 3pm. We arrived by taxi to the restaurant at noon so had some lunch and hung out till 3. Our host Jacapo showed up and we walked with all our gear (40lb's Leiann and 60lb's for me) to our new "home". It was a fifth story studio but did have an elevator (thank God). The place fit our needs just fine but a little pricey compared to Cyprus ($700) at $1,000 a month. Compared to staying at a hostel for $30-40 a night still a bargain and we have a kitchen so save lots cooking at home. That first afternoon we took a little walk around the neighborhood (not the tourist zone, but nice and clean). We found a little place to have our first meal in Italy. The next day we jumped on a bus that took us into the middle of the city. We were totally lost again (as usual and the way we like it). We walked and found our way to the "Spanish Steps" featured in the movie Roman Holiday (circa 1950's). We then walked in what is one of the main tourist area's looking for the hoop on hoop off bus, which we found. We do this often to just get the lay of the land and target places we want to visit, they also always give you a tourist map. As the sun was setting we found our way back to our apartment with some idea of where we were. The next day we did some walking exploring out further in our neighborhood and made a trip to the grocery store to stock up. The next day we wanted to figure out how to use the local metro (subway) and find the train station that our friend Eilidh (Alee) would be coming into. Rome has a great subway that goes around the city in a big circle. On our way home that evening we walked along the Tiber River overlooking the Vatican, a castle and a large ornate parliament building. The first thing that hits you in Rome is that around every corner there is a huge church, or a huge fountain with large statures, or a huge building with statues and columns. On an open air tour bus it is literally like "oh look at that" "oh look at this" around every corner. Like Athens the City of Rome dates back to several hundred years BC. But unlike Athens Rome was and is again the center of the Catholic Church. There are over a thousand churches and even more fountains in the city! When Eilidh got here we started in earnest exploring Rome. We took the Vatican tour the afternoon she got here and would recommend it as we were able to do a "skip the line" tour. The line getting into the Vatican is blocks long and inside it is just nuts, with people pushing everywhere. We were very happy that we chose this option afterwards. We spent three hours inside with our guide, she was very good and spoke perfect English (not always the case). She told us that there were over 5,000 paintings alone not to mention statures and other relics and that if you spent only two minutes on each of just the paintings you would be there seven months! Then you could start on seeing the rest of the place. So she said she would try to show us the most important things and give us some history without boring us. She did a great job of this. We learned that Michelangelo was only 35 when he started on the Sistine Chapel and almost quit because the pope was trying to direct his work. He returned when he was sixty to paint a huge wall size painting displaying the images of the "Book of Revelations". Also she showed us the famous paintings (read entire rooms) done by Rafael, who was only 24 when he started the paintings. Of course the Basilica of St. Peter was the highlight and again is one of those you gotta be there moments, simply amazing (see pictures in the gallery). The next day we headed for the famous Colosseum and Roman Forums. When you first see the Colosseum towering over you ten stories high it is hard to believe it's nearly two thousand years old and still standing. We spent a couple hours inside trying to imagine gladiators going at it killing each other or lions and other "wild beasts" being slain by a guy with a sword and or spear (see pix). We spent another couple hours walking the ruins of the Roman Forums. The forums are what is left of a compound named and built for a specific Roman emperor, ie: Caesar's Forum..... There are something like four or five of them. It's hard to tell one from another because you are looking at ruins. You see what is left of a building, like the forty foot tall columns with connecting stone beams at the top, which was once the front of a temple. All around you, you see columns, arches, walls, some buildings in whole and many that have been built on top of old ones or even inside older ones (see pix). That evening we headed over to the "Trevi Fountain". This is the most famous of all the fountains in Rome. It encompasses the entire end of a building. Huge statues climb the building (150ft) and are as wide as the building (200ft). Water flows out of many of the statures and into a large pool. All of the statues are made from white Carrara marble. It is said that if you throw a coin over you shoulder into the fountain that you will return to Rome and if you throw two you will find love, three you will get married. Leiann and Eilidh both threw just the one. The next day we took our one day mad cap trip to see Pompeii and Hurcleon which I wrote about in the last blog. On Eilidh's last day with us we went to see the Pantheon Temple (now a catholic church). Another marvel that has to been seen in person. It has the largest unsupported dome, even after nearly two thousand years, in the world! We made another visit to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi fountain. We had a great diner in an open air street side cafe, eating some of the best pasta we have ever had. The next day we took Eilidh to the bus terminal and said our goodbyes. Again wondering if we will ever see each other again. We had a great time with her and wish her well on her educational pursuits. The next day our next visitor friend Colin came. We met him at the bus and brought him to our little apartment. Colin will stay with us until we leave and then will stay in the apartment for a few more days as it is rented for a month. We spent the evening catching up as we have not seen each other for three years since back in our sailing days. Colin has traveled more then us so we had lots to talk about. The next day we walked the town with Colin and got him oriented seeing the Trevi Foundtain, walking along the river with the Vatican in the backdrop. The next day we took him down to the Colosseum and Forum areas which he will explore latter on his own. We visited the Manatine Prison and underground dungeon where St. Peter and the Apostle Paul are said to have been imprisoned before their executions. Standing in the underground stone cell 20 ft wide one can only imagine what it would have been like to be stuck down here with God knows how many other men and no toilet, some were said left to starve to death down here. After that we did some random exploring (always fun). We found a real pyramid on our way, go figure. The pyramid dates to 12BC. It is only 100ft high but is cased with white Carrara Marble so is still quite spectacular and certainly unexpected. The following day we took the subway out to the edge of town to visit the tomb of the Apostle Paul that is under the church known as St. Pauls outside the wall. The church is situated out side the city walls as burials had to be outside the city by Roman law. This church is second only to the Vatican and is a place of Christian pilgrimage and the pope visits it once every year. Standing in front of St. Paul's tomb is a sobering moment. The next day we struck out on our own to visit the crypts and catacombs under Rome, leaving Colin to do some of his own exploring. It is said that there are around 180 miles of catacombs under Rome. We visited the crypts under a very old church that is decorated with human bones, strange as you can imagine. Another crypt took us down three stories below the ground to a 4th century church that the church above was built on. And below that was a 1st century Roman Villa with rooms containing wall frescoes predating Christianity and celebrating a long forgotten religion. Under the Villa ran a spring which is why the structure was found in the first place. The story goes that the existence of the two buildings had been forgotten and that a church leader had heard water running below the floor of the church and so starting digging to see what it was. And so started the excavation looking for the source of the sound of the running water. This then continued long after his death and did not finish until many years later. We were able to visit and see the spring that had been the inspiration of his digging. That brings us to today as we get our back packs stuffed full getting ready to fly home tomorrow. Much more could be said about Rome or for that fact about our nine months here in Europe. We have not seen everything, but we have seen much. We have loved getting to know something of the land our ancestors came from (damned immigrants). We have lots of memories to take with us of friends we have made and experiences of a lifetime. We now look again to the future visiting our grandchildren, family and friends. We plan to buy another boat when we get back to the Puget Sound, live on it and in the fall sail once again down the coast to Mexico and start yet another Chrysalis Adventure in the Sea of Cortez. Stay tuned and be sure to check out the gallery to see pictures of our travels. We hope you have enjoyed riding along with us and we hope to share more of our travels with you our readers.