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.
Pompeii and Hurclean
08 June 2018
In our last blog I mentioned Eilidh (Alee) who we had first met in a hostel in Colombia, coming to visit us. We have been seeing some of the sights here in Rome with her. I will do a wrap up of Rome in another week as we head home in six days; time flies. So the three of us decided to take a trip down to Naples and visit the site of Pompeii and lesser known Herculean. Naples is situated north of the volcano Vesuvius and Pompeii is on the south side with Herculean on the coast in the middle. We wanted to try and do a day visit so we jumped on the high speed train to be able to make it in an hour and a half. We got to Naples and found the subway that would take us first to Herculean. We got to the sight by noon right on schedule. Herculean was completely cover by a pyroclastic flow to the depth of 40 feet preserving the entire town like a time capsule. A pyroclastic flow is neither lava or ash. It is a combination of hot gases, rocks, water and ash, which when dry becomes pumas. These flows unlike what we see with the slow moving lava in Hawaii, can fly down the side of a volcano at speeds of 400 MPH giving little warning to its victims. The heat of the flow is up to 400 degrees so it does not burn the building but rather cooks them. The worst loss of life due to pyroclastic flow occurred in Pelee in Antilles killing 30,000 and Mt. St. Helen's causing much destruction. The location of the Herculean was completely lost until a well was being dug in the 1700's. As the story goes a new town had sprung up on top of the old one without anyone's knowledge. After the bottom fell out of the well, further inspection revealed statues and many other valuable works of art along with houses still completely furnished. So further looting began and tunnels were dug from one building to another looking for treasure, which much was found. It was not until the 1800's that the early beginnings of the new field of archaeology started to dig the town out. Today about 25% of the town is uncovered and the new town still sits on top of the rest off it. Other tunnels have been dug to look for other structures and an entire theater has been found but is off limits to the public, dang. We walked the streets and entered buildings that still had their original roofs on them just as they were left nearly 2000 years ago. At the bottom of the town, which then would have been the shoreline were several brick boat houses built into the wall. In these brick cave like structures many victims hid hoping to be safe but were covered with the flow and then were cooked as temperatures were said to exceed 400 degrees, sad. Many skeletons were found in the structures and were carefully dug out and then left where they died. We spent a couple hours and then jumped back on the subway and headed over to Pompeii. Unlike Herculean Pompeii was inundated with ash very quickly after the eruption suffocating the victims and then burying them in a coating of ash, which then preserved the bodies like mummies. The ash washed away leaving the buildings exposed to the elements so that the roofs and walls of the building eroded with time and also suffering from looting of building supplies (stones). Some of the remaining mummified remains were later found in the debris when the town was excavated. Both towns have well preserved roads and squares allowing us to see what a Roman town looked like in 70 AD. We were plenty tired after a day of hiking and felt that we had seen a lot in a short time. We would recommend giving yourself two days to tour these sites as Pompeii is a full day in itself. We jumped back on the subway to Naples and then took the SLOW train back to Rome getting back to our apartment at 10pm, a full day of exploring. Eilidh spent a total of four days with us, which we all enjoyed. It is really nice to hang out with fellow travelers and adventurers. All of the folks we meet on the road share our wanderlust and love of adventure. We said our goodbyes hoping that we could catch up with each other again further down the road. We now have our other friend hanging with us for the next week, Colin. We met Colin back in our sailing days. He, like us, was sailing down the coast of Mexico and Central America. Like us he also sold the boat and has continued his travels via backpack. He has been been to Southeast Asia and South America so he, like Eilidh share many of their travel stories with us. We still have a few more things to see here in this next week and will report back to you our readers and fellow armchair travelers. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out the pictures in the gallery.
Florence and Pisa
29 May 2018
Our Quick Trip Up To See Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa
We headed our on our trip north to Florence leaving our new “home” here in Rome at 9 am. We had already made a dry run the day before so we learned how to take a bus to the subway and then over to the train station. We had decided we would take one of the high speed trains which would get us the 200 miles in a little over an hour! You really can’t tell that the train is doing almost 200mph, crazy. We got there in one piece and headed out of the station looking for our hotel. It was only a 15 minute walk but we got a little lost so more like half an hour, no problem. As we headed up the stairs Leiann says oh I forget to tell you it’s three floors up, no elevator. And we are talking a two hundred year old building with really high ceilings so more like six stories up. Breathing hard by the time we got to the desk, we got checked in no issues, yeah. We rested for an hour and then headed out to explore. On our way to our hotel we had already ran into the “Duomo”, the most famous site in Florence. Literally it means “The Dome”. It is a huge over four hundred feet tall, church in the center of town, built completely of marble, with a massive dome in the center. Be sure to check out the photos in the gallery because words just can’t explain this thing. We have seen a lot of churches and always think you can’t top that and then we find something else that blows us away, as the “Duomo” did. We jumped on the hop on, hop off bus as we often do to get the layout of the town and target places we will want to see. We don’t have a lot of time here, but we do not want to rush around trying to see everything. We want it to be relaxed and we see what we see. We ended up having lunch sitting next to the “Duomo” in the big square, with a guy playing classical guitar on the street that echoed off the walls, nice. We called it a night after having some, of all things in Italy, some Mexican food. The next day we still have the remainder of 24 hrs on the hop on, hop bus, so jumped back on and now rode it up to a pictures place overlooking Florence. We then walked up to a church that is said to be the favorite church of Galileo, who had a house not far away and is where he last lived and died. The church is distinct in that is has a white marble staircase that is remarkable. Speaking of Galileo, we did not know quite what the allure of Florence was other than people said it was beautiful and that we should go there. We found out that many of the European Renascence masters were born here, lived here, or visited here when Florence was the capital of Italy and a mecca for artists. Michelangelo was here. We are told that his father was not happy that his son was wanting to be a sculptor, which he thought to be a glorified lowly stone mason. Little did his father know that one day his son would sculpt the “David”, displayed here in Florence, decidedly one of the greatest sculptures of all time. He also painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel here in Rome. Leonardo Da Vinci was here along with Dante, Botticelli, Brunelleschi and many others. So the city is filled with beautiful churches and other examples of fine architecture made of stunning Carrara marble along with statues, paintings, parks and beautiful villas that the rich citizens of Florence built for their enjoyment. We were told that Michelangelo said that he could see David in the 15ft tall solid marble stone before he started sculpting and that he merely cut away all that was not him and freed the statue from the stone. We spent the rest of the day walking the streets of Florence and trying to take a little of it with us. We caught the train headed to Pisa where our friends Lina and Enzo met us at the station. We had not seen them for three years. We met in the jungles of Panama when we stayed at the “Wundebar Hostel”. They were touring Central America heading north and us south. At the time we never thought we would see each other again. We have this experience on a fairly regular basis, thanks to Face Book, we are able to stay in touch we those we meet and plan rendezvouses They took us to see the Pisa. There is a very tall wall around the center of Pisa where the tower is at, like thirty feet, so you do not see the tower until you walk around the corner of the gate and then “Bam” there it is. The tower is actually part of a large church. I never seemed to get that in pictures I have seen of it. The church and tower sit inside this large walled area of about four football fields. Around the church and tower is very green well maintained grass field, so that the white church and tower really stand out. The church and tower are made of gray/white marble. At first impression they do not seem real, more like a picture and hard to describe, other then to say not how it looks in the picture. Also the tower leans much more than we thought. In reading about it I learned that during construction after it started leaning construction was stopped for some time. Later they started again with a solution to stop the leaning, bend the tower backward as they went up! So if you look closely you can see the tower is bent backward like a banana. Finally they built the top “cap” and made it 90 degrees so the top would be straight while the rest of it leaned. However after the cap was completed the tower leaned a little more so even it is not straight. The reason the tower leaned in the first place is that the entire area of Pisa (and much of the coastal area) is barely above sea level and once was a swamp. In addition to the soft ground the tower is hollow like a tube and has a very small footprint foundation. I just wonder what the folks in the day were saying about the architects and builders, must have been a constant source of amusement. Afterward Lina and Enzo took us to their home and made us an amazing dinner of traditional Italian foods. Like most Italians they tried to get us to eat more then we needed. We spent two days with them enjoying the beach and then they took us on an amazing tour into the mountains where Carrara Marble is mined. When you look up to the mountains from the beach you can see all the mines of white marble. When we can came up to visit them and see the leaning tower we never thought about or even herd about Carrara. Most of the marble used in Rome and elsewhere in Italy is mined here. And it is famous around the world. It has been mined here for thousands of years. Michelangelo’s David’s marble came from here as most all statues in Italy, who knew. After a day of being our tour guides we had traditional Pizza at a local outdoor restaurant. The next day they put us on a train back to Rome. People often ask us what’s our favorite part of traveling. We always say the people we meet. Thank you Lina and Enzo for making us feel at home and maybe we can host you if you come visit us where ever we might be. Now back in our “new home” in Rome we are planning for our next week. We have another old travel buddy coming to see us, Eilidh (Alee). We met back in a hostel in Colombia. She also stopped by to visit us in Panama a year later. So we are planning to save some stuff to see together here in Rome. Then when she leaves another travel friend, Colin is coming to visit us. We met Colin back in El Salvador. He, like us, had sailed down from the states. We met him again down in Panama a year later. It is really cool to meet back up with our fellow travelers and catch up. Most of them have done more travel then we have and tell us of lots of places we should go visit. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out the photos in the gallery.