04 March 2022 | Zihuatenajo, Mexico
Leiann Scee | Nice and warm 80's
Today is March 5th, 2022. I decided I should get off my butt and write up a blog post as it has been almost a year since I wrote the last one, lots has changed since then. I had to go back and reread the last post to see where I had left off. Last year we were in La Paz, Mexico planning our return to the states and planning our trip to Asia in the fall. We were able to sell our boat, car, household stuff, tools and gave away the rest. This was after staying three winters in La Paz. Returning home we pulled our motor home out of storage, picked up our vehicles and were back in our campsite at Thousand Trails within a week as if we had never left. We spent the summer with the family and grand kids going boating, swimming, dirt biking, go carting as well as helped our daughter and son in law clear their property. Lots of great family and friend connections. As is our normal now we freeze when we go home, our bodies have acclimated to tropical climates. As was the case for everybody, COVID was an ever present issue. We got vacs but worried for grand kids that eventually got the virus. Lots of friends also got it and a few died from it. Like everyone else we look forward to putting it behind us. We had planned to head out for Asia this season, but COVID put an end to those plans and travel to Asia closed down. So we changed our plans and headed back to Mexico, however this time a bit further south to a little town called Zihautanejo (pronounced Zee Wat Tin Nay Ho). We had been here on our boat headed south ten years ago. We had great memories of the place and looked forward to coming back. The town was made famous in the movie Shawshank Redemption. It was at one time a sleepy little fishing village like Cabo and many other major tourist destinations in Mexico. Next to Zihua (as locals call it) is Ixtapa a major tourist spot. We don’t spend much time over there preferring the smallness of Zihua. It has grown a lot since we were here before, but is still a small walk-able and safe town. Within a couple of weeks being here we had a hurricane hit (Rick). We spent a nervous night hunkered down in our apartment watching the weather on our computers. We lost electricity a couple times and had no idea how bad it was going to get as it hit Zihua as a Cat 2. The next morning we headed out to explore the damage. Lots of still flooded streets, roofs torn off buildings, trees down, power wires down, but all in all it could have been much worse. Within a few days the locals had everything cleaned up like it never happened. Our first little place was in a local Mexican family “compound” with kids, dogs, grand parents, four families all living there and us. We loved it but discovered one problem we could not live with. The toilet was so close to the wall your knees hit and after Leiann developed bruises decided we needed to find something else. Within a mater of a week we had found better accommodations and rented it till the middle of April when we would be leaving. Leiann wanted to go see the Monarch Butterflies so we set up a trip with a couple friends. We found a tour guide “Carlos” who agreed to take us for a great deal of $300 a piece. We had been quoted $600 elsewhere, so this was a deal. The first day we visited the “copper town” where local artisans have been making copper items, vases, plates, bowls, artworks for many years. The buildings of the town are of the 1600s and are UNESCO protected. Streets are cobble stone, buildings are all white and red with rough hewn timber ceiling beams. Also we visited a beautiful park and waterfalls, arriving in Morelia in the late afternoon. We did not expect Morelia to be what it is, a Spanish conquest dating to the 1500s. A grand square with beautiful churches and a historical area. We could have spent an entire day here alone. But we saw what we could in an evening hitting bed early as we had to be up at 6am to head up the mountains to see the butterflies. After a three hour ride in the van we then changed out to horses to get up the steep mountain (at 10,000 feet) to where the Monarchs return every year after their 2,000 mile flight from the US. For Leiann getting on a horse was a huge deal, first horse ride in 22 years. That is how much she wanted to see the butterflies. We needed to get up there before the sun hits the butterflies. They gather together in large clumps on the trees to stay warm. When the sun hits them and they warm up they take flight in clouds of butterflies, an amazing sight to see. We hung out for a couple hours taking in the experience. Then we mounted our horses and descended a very steep trail with drop offs that Leiann loved, LOL. Then the next day we hit an Aztec temple, a town where they made Katrinas and another 16th century town with a large central park. We had lunch, walked and shopped a little, had ice cream and got back in our van to head home from another great adventure. We spend much of our time here going to live music events in the evenings and beaches in the day. A tough life for sure, LOL. When we had gotten here COVID was at a low point, The Omicron variant not having gotten here yet. We came looking forward to the annual sail and guitar fests. There had not been one last year due to COVID but everyone one was looking forward to this years return of festivities. We got here in October our typical departure date from cold and rainy PNW Washington. But Omicron finally showed up down here and restrictions went back in place. Mandatory masks in public and restrictions on restaurants and grocery stores. The likelihood that Sailfest and Guitarfest would happen were up in the air. Like in the US cases and deaths climbed and fell quickly. The Sailfest was able to happen with some minor limits and restrictions. We volunteered for the event and participated in several activities. Guitarfest however has been canceled. A few musicians that had already flown in are having some small (rather covert shows). We were at one last night and plan to attend another on Saturday. My sister Darcy and her friend Mick came to visit for 8 days so we spent time touristing, added some music events and of course pool and beach time. We will not speak about the margaritas at the pool day. Our friend Richard is here coming from La Paz via boat and will stay a while. Then Geri, Linda and Penny showed up too, so we are keeping them out late and hanging while they are here, doing what we do best, beaching, music, tacos, darts...whatever we can find to keep them out of trouble. The end of March another friend Linda will be here for a short visit. So all in all we have been having a good time here enjoying the warmth. We now have another 5 weeks until we once again make our return to the US. We plan to make the most of it and know we will be missing the warm sun when we get home. We told the grand kids that we would stay home for Christmas this year. After watching all the snow and cold weather they had up there last winter we are thinking maybe we might just do Christmas and then head south. We don’t really want to head to Asia that late in the season so are looking at other options, one being heading to the Caribbean for a few months. We would love to go to Cuba but politics will not allow that so we are contemplating Puerto Rico. We shall see. Lots of time between now and next winter. So there you go, that’s what we have been up to for the last year. Stay tuned for more “Chrysalis Adventures!
Getting ready to leave La Paz (again)
09 May 2021 | La Paz
Dave Scee | Hot and dusty
Getting Ready to Leave Mexico Once Again and Heading Home for the Summer.
We have not put up a blog post for nearly nearly two years! Time flies when you are having fun. I guess we got out of practice and also staying in the same place for an extended period of time is a little different than our normal moving about every month. In the last post we were returning to Mexico in the fall of 2019. We did a lot of work on the boat that winter, having the transmission rebuilt and many other projects. It was very hot when first got back in Oct, 90 plus, so hard to work on the boat. We were also doing a lot of music events. I reopened my open mic for it's second year, which was every other Wednesday and attended another open mic the other Wednesday. In addition to that on any given night in La Paz there might be more then a couple music events happening, so we did music events like 4 to 5 nights a week, along with practice sessions with friends during the day (air conditioning). I (Dave) am a late blooming musician. We also kept very busy with club activities at the Yacht club "Club Cruceros" we had joined he previous year. So we did not get the boat back in the water until March of 2020. We made one trip out to Isla Espiritu and spent a wonderful four days there. We came back in to get re-provisioned and were not allowed to go back out as Mexico shut down all cruising due to the Covid outbreak here. Closely followed by closure of all music events and then the club was the next closure. So by April life in La Paz had changed drastically. We put the boat back in the yard the end of April having been out only two months, and flew back to Washington State. When we got there the Covid situation was calming down down a bit as they were just getting passed their first wave. We waited until we got our Covid tests and then were able to spend time with the grand kids. Our summers are always action packed with family and friends, but Covid put a damper on things last summer, but we still got to spend lots of time with family. We stayed in our motor home through the summer, which has been quite comfortable for us and convenient to store when we are away. Along with fun with grand kids, we bought a motorcycle and took a ride over the mountains to Winthrop and back. No little accomplishment for Leiann who previously would not ride with me on the last bike I had (more of a fast sport bike). This one is a large road bike, with running boards, big seats and a back rest so she felt a little more comfortable. I think she just didn't want any biker babes jumping in the seat, ha ha. Shortly before we left to come back to La Paz, I lost my mother who was 82. A sad event losing a parent, but we were glad it happened when we were home and were able to help with siblings to put things in order and have some time to grieve together. When we returned last October it was hot, hot hot, like 95 plus daily. We managed to get the boat back in the water by January and have been able to get out and enjoy it more this year. However it seems that for every hour we get to sail the boat I spend 20 hours working on the boat. It's an old boat and always has unfinished work to do. But I try to compartmentalize the projects so when one is completed we can use the boat before starting the next. Truth is that this boat could have used a couple of years worth of work in the yard when we bought it, but I got it in sea worthy condition in two months before sailing it to Mexico, leaving many projects that were lower priority to be completed later. As much as we (mostly me, Dave) have enjoyed having and using the boat, it has been a lot of work, time and money and I look forward to selling it. I'm sure once it is sold I will look back longingly to the days of sailing with dolphins and whales. It has been yet another great adventure in our lives and we would not be in La Paz had we not bought it. La Paz has been our home now for three winters. The most time we have spent in one location in the last ten years. Our normal has been to spend a month and move on to new places. We have loved being here, and the music scene has been an unexpected big plus here. If it was not for Covid La Paz is one of the most musically dense places we have ever been and we will miss it and perhaps one day return. We now look forward to getting the boat, the car, all the stuff we have accumulated here sold or given away and getting back down to backpacks. It is amazing how much crap one accumulates if you stop moving. We have a two bedroom apartment rented till the end of May. We plan to try to be out of it on May 25th and into a hostel we stayed at way back in 2015 giving us some leeway to get rid of stuff and get the apartment cleaned out. We have reserved our campsite at Thousand Trials for the first two weeks of June, and will have to get the motor home out of month balls as soon as we get back. This year when we return it will be a lot easier. Normally when we get home we would have to purchase a vehicle, find a place to stay, buy insurance and all stuff you do not think about if you are not living this type of lifestyle. This year we return to a motor home, two vehicles that a friend has been driving through the winter so they don't just sit and a motorcycle. So within a week of being home it will seem like we never left. We are already feeling a little sad to be (possibly) leaving La Paz for good, but excited to head back home and spend time with grand kids and family. We have lots planned and it will again be a fast pasted fun packed summer. We have already been planning the next leg of our adventure to Asia. We will be heading to a city in Thailand called Chiang Mai. We will get an Airbnb there and explore the area around Chiang Mai. Lots to see and do there, lots of temples, elephants and Asian culture to explore. Like our European adventure we plan to have a very vague itinerary, basically heading south with the sun as it gets cooler in the North. We hope to visit Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and possibly Bali. Sorry to take so long to update but we will be doing more travel next fall so will post more often. As we look back this blog has been great for us as it is difficult to remember all that we have done since we left in our little 29 foot boat ten years ago. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis adventures.
Summer 2019 post
30 September 2019 | Mt. Vernon, Wa
The weather has turned cold. The geese are in the air. That signals our time to once again head south. Eight years ago we headed south in our little 29ft, 47y,o. boat, which seems like a lifetime ago. Last year we once again bought an old boat (only 44y.o. this time) and sailed south. So now we are in the airport getting ready to fly down to La Paz, Mexico to join back up with our boat. We will have an apartment and keep the boat on her mooring, ready to take us on some adventures up into the Sea of Cortez, so we have the best of both worlds. Like all of our summer visits we have had a madcap crazy summer of family, friends and fun. We bought an older motor home and car which have stored so coming back next year will be a little easier. It’s always bitter sweet leaving. We love to visit family and our friends but we love to travel to far away (warm) places too. Next year? Maybe Asia? So until next June we say farewell. Stay tuned for more Chysalis adventures as we explore more of Mexico.
Our time in La Paz
25 April 2019
We have now been in La Paz, Mexico for four months and are making our plans to return to the states for the summer. As usual time has flown by. After getting the boat down here we kept it in the marina . for the first month and then put it on a mooring after that. We have not been able to do a lot with the boat as of yet, beyond a few day sails. It has continued to be ailed by various issues that are still to be resolved. It seems as one is put to bed another comes up. But it is an old boat and sat for a long time. We look forward to having much more time next year on her. We will be putting her on the hard (dry dock) in a few days, where she will await our return. Our apartment has been very comfortable and we have reserved it for next year. Having two bedrooms, three beds and two baths it has been great for hosting friends who have come to visit. We have an open invitation policy for anyone who would like to come and stay for a while (reserve early for next year!) We will be back in October and will again stay till the end of April. We as usual have been very busy here taking friends on our tourist tours, meeting lots of other cruisers, dinners, playing games and lots of laughs. Music has been a big part of our stay here, La Paz has lots of it. We attend an open mic event every other Wednesday that never fails to amaze us with top notch players of every type of music. I am not comfortable playing there (yet) and so started another venue for less then top notch and student type budding musicians, on the other Wednesdays. We have had lots of fun with it and learned lots about putting together all that is involved with stage music paraphernalia (lots of wires, cables, mixer, speakers, amps, mics, stands and the likes, along with managing the event. We look forward to doing more of it when we get back. We have also attended lots of great music events, blues festival, jazz festival, flamenco, country, lots of fun. We had planned on staying down here in La Paz for two seasons using it as a base to sail out of and then sell the boat and do more land travel. We really like La Paz so we will see if we will need to adjust that schedule. We learned long ago that cruisers (and land travelers) plans are drawn in the sand at low tide, highly subject to change. We don’t write as much when we are staying put for a while as there is less to write about, so if you see a long pause it is because we are just chillin’. Our next adventure will be with our grand kids back home. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures!
Chrysalis III arrives at her new home in La Paz Mexico
06 February 2019 | La Paz, Mexico
Perfect high 70's to low 80's
In our last blog I had just deposited Leiann in La Paz(in her nice little casita) waiting for me to bring the boat down from Ensenada. I flew back to find the new paint job outstanding. Leiann did not know that I was having butterflies added to the name. She was concerned that who ever painted them might not do a good job. As I was having the name done in vinyl, I figured if she did not like them I could just peel them back off, she loved em. I had a few projects to finish before I could leave as well as collecting crew and clearing out. My new crew consisted of Dave a 46 yo avid sailor, rock climber and surfer. And Will an ex navy medic, rock climber, surfer with some sailing experience. Both jumped in and helped get the boat projects done. We had some fun in Ensenada, I took them to eat the cheapest and best tacos El Pastor, (on me!). We had a little wrinkle clearing out as Dave had an issue with his tourist visa, which required a little help from our paperwork guy Juan. A few dollars later all was good and we were ready to head out. This would be the first time either of my crew had been offshore at night. We headed out early from Ensenada. We had roughly 300 miles to our first stop, Turtle Bay. This is a two nights at sea trip, which went well both crew did quite well even though we had some good size swell and they were a little queasy. We arrived in Turtle Bay after beating into a strong headwind. We wasted little time deploying the dingy and getting off the boat. I took them to my favorite restaurant (the oldest in town,I had been to Turtle Bay twice before over a 15year period). The restaurant and town had changed little since I first saw it in 2005. Pedro, the one armed dinghy watcher met us on the beach offering to watch our dinghy and find anything we needed in town. I rented a room so I and the crew could get a shower. It turned out to be a cold one. Me and Will toughed it out while Dave went down the street for a warm one. Later we found out they were just changing the propane bottle, a little late for me and Will. Later I needed Pedro to lead me all over town to get enough money to pay for my diesel. I thought there was an ATM here, not the case, and no bank. Add to that the electricity was out so the stores that would usually allow you to use your card to get cash could not do so due to no juice. But Pedro found a few places that had a generator, so after a few hours, lunch and several stops ($50 here and $100 there) we had enough to pay our fuel bill and were on our way to our next stop, 250 miles south, Magdalena Bay. Weather predictions were for very light conditions, but as we headed out of Turtle Bay we had to reef down due to gusts of 25 to 30 knots. Then only to take out the reefs only to put them back in and then end up motoring the rest of the way. We were greeted by multiple Gray Whales as we entered the bay, nice. We anchored off the little town known as Man of War. The next day we hired a panga to take us over across the bay to San Carlos. We hit the ATM, bought more groceries and some new fishing lures as we had had our stolen by some large fish (or logs) not sure which. We took our impromptu “taxi/pick up” driver and his friend (interpreter) to lunch after running us all over town. It was a fun trip and our panga driver remembered me from our trip back in 2011! We headed out the next day again surrounded by Gray Whales. The crew were excited to try out the next lures so got our lines out quickly. The area around Mag Bay is supposed to be a very good fishing area. However all we caught was Bonita, which is not the best tasting fish. We held out hoping for some Dorado, a really good tasting fish, but alas we never caught one on the way down to Cabo. Cabo was another over night trip of about 160 miles. We did get to do some good sailing on this leg. The weather now was a nice and warm 80 degrees and the crew welcomed the tropical air. The crew got to do some snorkeling and caught some night life while there. Leiann came down to meet us and we got a hotel leaving the crew to fend for them selves. I met the crew the next morning and found them a little sore headed from the night before. We fueled up and headed out again. We had another 125 miles to get to La Paz. We decided to make a stop over in Bahia de Muretos or Bay of the Dead, don’t know how it got it’s name. We headed out the next day at 3 am so as to get to La Paz around noon. We finally did catch a Dorado, but it was small, so let it go. A few more Bonito brought our fishing attempts to a close. Our trip up to La Paz was uneventful motoring the entire way. But it was beautiful with wilderness and high mountain peaks along the coast. Much of which appeared to have never been touched by man. The crew was happy to make landfall, Leiann met us at the dock and had already arranged for our slip. After nearly four months, several repairs and a few thousand miles Chrysalis III was now at her new home and will be making trips up into the Sea of Cortez from here. After another night of frolicking we put the crew on a plane back to Tijuana. I think they enjoyed the adventure and I thanked them for helping me get the boat down here. They did a great job, and I think learned a lot about sailing a larger boat offshore and all that entails. As I always say “It ain’t for everybody”. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures as we explore our new home here in La Paz, Mexico. And as always we have an extra bedroom for friends and family who would like to come hang for a while. Life is good!
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.