Wingin' It With Freebird

21 November 2015
17 September 2015 | US Virgin Islands
24 April 2015
23 November 2014
30 October 2014 | Catalina Islands
20 October 2014 | A leg up to Dana Point
13 October 2014 | San Diego
05 September 2014 | San Diego, back North.....a little
15 August 2014 | Leaving Oceanside
02 August 2014 | Oceanside, CA.
08 July 2014 | Woodstock, Vermont & Small Sea Port Towns
19 June 2014 | Dana Point, CA.
21 May 2014 | More Catalina!
19 May 2014
16 May 2014 | Dana Point

Hiatus, another road trip!

21 November 2015


It's been too long since we have seen our beautiful sailboat. We missed Freebird everyday we were gone. I thought I was going to be so happy to have a real shower and a tub. I thought I was going to be ecstatic to have our front loader washer and dryer. I thought it was going to be so yummy to have our fire place and even yummier to have the porch and the fire pit??? All I could think of was our boat and how I just wanted to go back.

We had rented a car and drove up to Washington. We were taking a bunch of "stuff" off the boat, purging, donating and tossing. We packed up the car with Miss Q and headed North. Stopping at Mike's Dads house for a few days to visit, then off to the house. It's been awhile! There were plenty of chores to do, things to fix and stuff to get rid of! We had a huge storage unit sitting there, just full of "stuff"! Why??? It's like you spend your life working hard, trying to make a nice life, with nice things. Then, when you get to that point, it's almost anticlimactic! You look around and just wonder why you needed or wanted even half of what you have acquired??? The only thing I can honestly validate, is my art supplies and equipment, okay and the great cookware we have. Other than that, it's just "stuff"! So first thing we did was to empty out the storage unit and take multiple truck loads of "stuff" to Goodwill and some of the Rescue Missions. We even hired a couple of guys from the Rescue Mission to help us move the big stuff. We wound up donating a 60" flat screen with a custom stand to their home so they could have real live "movie nights". They were soooooo happy!! It was so cleansing to give and donate!

Next, there was the house! It needed painting, but not before we found that some of our siding was compromised, because there was a plumbing issue, a domino effect...blah, blah, blah! After migraine #27, losing my hair, sleepless nights and my bleeding ulcer coming back, it was time to get a hold of myself and just realize, it is what it is, life is about compromises and understanding that your health is just not worth sacrificing for "stuff"! In the mix of all of this was the two new neighbors on either side of us!! They were the cherry on the cake of my ulcer coming back to life. Fences were going up with questionable new surveys done on the property line, new sewer pipe was going in and there was a bad exchange of misunderstanding between the new neighbor and us, again with the property line and the threat of tearing up our cobble stone walk to accommodate his new fence and pipe system, which he ultimately threatened not to tie into our drainage pipes.....oh well, gotta make the Renters happy! ..... and more blah, blah, blah.

Thirty days turned into sixty, which turned into ninety, which ultimately turned into almost 150 days??? It wasn't all stress, I got a hold of myself, (I'm sure my husband was happy for that!) we went for long bike rides and some hikes, a couple of lovely drives up and down the Coast, we even went up to Anacortes, WA. for a couple of days to see Orcas in the wild!! It is so beautiful up there!! I took hundreds of pictures of hundreds of different species of wildlife, beautiful sunsets and landscapes. We visited the Columbia River mouth almost daily in September to watch the Humpback and Grey Whales that rode the outgoing tides while almost suspended in place and let the food come to them! The Pacific NW is truly a magnificent place!

The house was fixed, "stuff" is donated and gone, Mike and I both had Birthdays, I think even Q was totally missing the boat and ready to hit the road back South, but not before we took a couple of trips into Portland and I lettered a few boats down at the Marina! Stayed for the Seasonal closing of our favorite restaurant with some of our favorite people!

Okay, we're really leaving now! The Renters were getting anxious!
This time, taking our own wheels, and done with rental cars! Made "peace" with the neighbor's, both sides, we actually really genuinely like the ones on the other side! Made lots of new friends while we were there and while I had a full kitchen, worked on developing and fine tuning some recipes for a Cookbook I am formulating!! I finished and framed my newest portrait and had some prints made, in hopes of being able to sell them and have the proceeds go to our Marine Conservation Organization. Packed the vehicle with Miss Q and started back down to the boat! It seemed surreal!

We stopped quite a few places along the way and took a kind of different route in order to get me to a business meeting in Nevada. The meeting turned out to just be meaningless, but it was kind of cool taking a different way down South. One thing I do know, if you ever had kids that thought they might want to "challenge" the law in their young years, take them on a road trip through the desert side of California and Nevada!! WOW!! What a lot of State and Federal Penitentiaries!!! Stop just off the Highway and let them take a good long look at what life in prison, in the middle of the desert might look like??? Holy Crap!! Made me feel blessed for my freedom!!

One of the "stops along the road" that stood out, was Tonopah, NV. The hotel/motel creepy Russian Roulette wheel of WTF??? Wow-whaaa!!! The place was pretty clean, but I could not shake the feeling that we were being watched! Weird holes in the walls, funky furniture that was permanently affixed to the floor??? Wires coming out of weird places of the wall and ceiling that went to nowhere??? Super creepy shit!!! Every other place was "Casino" style and over rated and over priced. HATE Casinos!! So the only other option was this "Clown Motel"??? Oh Hell NO!! We were too tired to drive any further, so we opted for the creepy clean place. Sneaking Miss Q in was super easy under the cloak of darkness. However, sneaking her out in the daytime, with the owners six kids playing tag, right outside our door... Well, that was a work of art! It was like they KNEW that we had a stow-a-way in our room. I swear, if we would have been in the mountains, with Ned Beatty and Burt Reynolds...que up the banjos! (Get it? The movie "Deliverance"?!!) In the morning, we couldn't get out of there fast enough! Smuggling Q out was nothing short of genius on Mike's part. The Manager and his Wife AND his kids were all outside while we packed up our vehicle. I'm felt liked I was smuggling a Federal Witness, I couldn't understand why they were hovering??? We have "smuggled" Q into some of the finest hotels, resorts, and five star dive's all over the Country. However, smuggling her OUT??? Pah-leeeeeeeze!!! We finally got out of the place with out a scratch (pardon the pun?) and back on the road to Las Vegas. Yep, Las Vegas, not my city of choice, but every once in awhile we have to "engage" in a business meeting and just have to suck it up. More blah, blah, blah....

Back on the road and finally on a straight shot to San Diego. I have to admit that it was an unusually amazing visual drive! The Desert drive was amazing at every turn. The wildlife, the sunrises, sunsets and landscapes were epic in every visual sense! I would never have imagined what beauty awaited us! What an unexpected pleasure of the visual senses.

Ahhhhhhhhh, back on the boat!

Remembering back, WAY back!

17 September 2015 | US Virgin Islands
It has been awhile!
A short story about a long adventure.
Looking back into the time machine, with the Anniversary of Hurricane Hugo at the door, September 18, 1989. This story is about survival. Survival of the devastating measures of Mother Nature, the Eye of the Storm in more than one aspect. How Communities can come together and fall apart in the name of disaster. It was a defining factor in my life, of who I was, who I wanted to be and who I became.

It was 1989, I had been living in the Virgin Islands for about four years. I came down to the Islands from a solicitation of an old boyfriend, with promises of Paradise, Sailing, Surfing and Love! I was on the next plane and instantly living the dream! It went pretty well for a time, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The boyfriend that I was convinced was "the one!", wasn't!! We had grown apart, I was pursuing my art and created a business and it did not fit into his Errol Flynn life of sailing the high Seas with Movie Stars and Corporate Ass-hats. Meanwhile, we had "acquired" a custom built houseboat that was originally intended to be a restaurant, called "the Floating Hilton". It was Gianormous, and lived comfortably back in the Mangrove Lagoon in Red Hook, St. Thomas. It was PERFECT!! Eight 12v batteries under the living room couch, a wind generator on the roof, the roof was a rain catch for a 6000 gallon fresh water cistern under the boat. A true "flushing" head and a Galley that was set up for a Restaurant!! A wrap around porch with a 100 gallon propane tank and a draw bridge dinghy dock!! What the Hell else could you ask for??? So, the said boyfriend, gets a call to work on a private Yacht in Florida. He leaves and I have the Floating Hilton to myself!!! Oh Hell Yeah!!! It immediately is turned into my floating Sign Shop with living quarters. I have a 12ft dinghy that works most of the time and Horse Feathers Bar is about a 2 minute dinghy ride away!!! What's NOT to love???

I had Boats lining up to be lettered!! I had the largest office in the world! I couldn't go anywhere with out someone, coming up and throwing down a piece of scrap paper or a bar napkin and asking me for a "quick design"! I was on top of the world! There was little competition in my field on the Islands. I was feeling pretty good about my "spot" in society. I was successful, I was in demand and people had a genuine respectful attitude towards me. What an awesome feeling!

Then came September, 1989...
Weather systems started in June of that year. It was no big deal. There were 15 Tropical Depressions, 11 Storms and 7 Hurricanes, and only 1 Hurricane categorized at a 3+ until Hurricane Hugo. Starting September 9th, 1989, the Weather Stations on VHF radio started their normal chatter. I had just finished a large contract for a Real Estate Company on St. John. I was tired, feeling like things were level in my life and it was just another "Storm Watch" that I would probably have a couple rum drinks in its honor with! September 10, 1989! Hugo was now a Tropical Storm, picking up speed and nothing to be scoffed at. The Eye of the Storm was small and the width of the Storm was widening. When the Eye of a Storm is small, that is an indication of it holding together, packing a punch and nothing to take lightly. Okay, now the weather station has my attention!! By September 14th, Hugo had officially strengthened into a Hurricane. On September 15th, Hugo turned West- NorthWestward and quickly turned into a Category 5 Hurricane! Somewhat rare, it was holding at 160 mph sustained winds and heading right for our beautiful Islands and my comfy world of bliss! NO, NO, NO!!! Not suppose to play out like this!!!

By this time, the Islands were in panic mode. The Stores were out of water, batteries, canned food and Ice. The gas stations were selling out of fuel and only open for a few hours a day, the lines were insane! Flights off the Island were WAY over sold. Hugo's tracking was taking him right at us!! I have been in quite a few Hurricanes in my life, but never a Category 5 and usually on land, in a nice safe dwelling??? I started to investigate other options to wait out the Storm. My houseboat was awesome, but could not leave the Lagoon to a safe haven on it's own. I started to "Batten down the Hatches"! Thank God I had a profession that made me stock up on tape!! I taped up all the sliding glass doors, there were only little spy holes to look out of. I lashed down the propane tank with tons of rope. I opened up the holds for the water tank so I didn't sink myself. I ferried a ton of stuff off the houseboat, (just in case?!). I borrowed at least six anchors from a Charter Co. that I did business with and just threw anchors off all side of the houseboat.

September 16th, 1989, AM
I made the decision to leave the houseboat. I called some friends that said I could come stay at their efficiency condo! I packed my generator, some clothes and my African Grey Parrot up and we literally surfed off the houseboat to the dock. I tied the dinghy up, said a couple "Hale Marry's" over it and drove my jeep to the Condo. Well, it was going to be cozy!! Six people, two dogs, a cat and my Parrot! Of course everyone welcomed me with open arms as they liberated me of my generator!! Awesome!! By now it was getting dark, I had pretty much resigned the fact that I would never see my Jeep again either and settled in with a warm rum drink. We were the unfortunate ones to have missed the run on the ice and by now the power failures were longer and more often. We did manage to re-wire the ceiling fan switch into my generator, so we had the ceiling fan and a small tv that we ran our one and only video through, Batman! The first one with Jack Nicholson as the Joker!!

September 16th, 1989, PM
So being drunk was all of the sudden, not an option for this girl!! Everyone was useless and complacent! I threw all the alcohol out over the balcony! I was public enemy #1 within a 3 second time span!! The Hurricane was now raging at full force!! There were no communications, no radio, no info on what was going on at all!! It was pitch black and the noise from outside was deafening inside. We had taped up the sliding glass doors that was the whole East wall of the Condo, but the windows were bending in, with at least a four inch convex flex that was luring tons of water into the Condo floor. It was soaking the floor and the floor was sagging so bad, I thought it was going to collapse. We cut the rug out and threw it over the balcony. While we were wrestling the rug over the side of the balcony, a huge industrial size dumpster went flying by us and a few cars!! We were on the Fourth floor of the Condos!! That was a big bowl of Holy Shit! We bailed the excess water off the floor, took the beds apart and shoved them up against the windows. We pulled all available furniture up against the bedding for more support and took refuge in the bathroom, where there were no windows. Yes! Six people (who were now sober, you're welcome), two dogs, a cat and my Parrot! Henny Penny (my Parrot) hung out on the shower rod, while we took turns, two at a time snoozing in the tub full of pillows. It stunk, it was hot and I was never more grateful in my life to have a safe stinky place with friends!

September 17th, 1989 AM
Sore, miserably hot and smelly, we emerged from the bathroom. It was an unsettling type of quiet. There was a strange light in the sky, like a dreamsicle orange-pinkish hue. There was a humming in the air, a whirling low pressure noise??? Oh Shit!!! It was The Eye!! The Eye of Hugo was over us!! It wasn't over!! It was a strange type of beautiful awareness that overcame us. We took the animals outside for a potty walk (except for Henny) and then put them back in the Condo while we went for a bit of a walk about in this amazing tube of confining weather!! There, to my amazement was my Jeep!! How fortuitous was THAT?! We wanted to see what had happened to the Island so far. We knew that once it started to get dark again and the winds came up, it was time to get back inside, but for now.... Let's go check it out? See if anyone needs help?? We jumped in the Jeep and headed for the Marina, but we were quickly turned around by too much debris in the road. Back towards the middle Island road to town! I shoved the Jeep into 4X4 wheel drive and off we went! We were slow and go for quite some time. We were in a small town before Charlotte Amalie
Capital of United States Virgin Islands, when we realized, maybe this was NOT a good idea?! There was absolute Mayhem and Civil Disorder! Looting, gun fire and chaos!! We turned that bad-boy Jeep around and headed back to the Condo. The sky went from sherbet orange to a deep magenta, then purples! The humming in the air went from a dull pulsating whir, to a slightly higher pitch and more persistent sound. I stepped on the gas a little more, but in 4x4 mode, there is some what of a constricted speed! The rain was more persistent, the sound of the wind got higher and higher and the sky drew darker. Shit, we stayed out too long!! The dirty side of Hugo was upon us and we still had about five miles to get back to the Condo at about 5mph! We were in a Jeep CJ-7, no top! The wind came up so fast, it was incredible!! We got back to the Condo's, everyone jumped out like clowns out of a Circus car!! We were running for the corridor of the Condo, for the stairs. I was the last one out of the Jeep, running for the corridor, when one of my friends yells, "heads up!!!!" So I look up and a huge piece of debris is flying at me and I put my arm up. BLAM!! Hits me straight on!! If I had not put my arm up, it would have hit me straight in the forehead and probably killed me. It took a huge piece of bone out of my left forearm! My Ulna bone was separated by a pie shaped chunk. I was numb, in shock and just knew I had to get inside. We all ran inside the bathroom with all the animals. Someone said something about my arm, I passed out. I don't remember much until a couple days later.

September, 19th, 1989.
It was raining and raining and raining! My arm hurt, I was in and out of consciousness, someone gave me rum.

September 23rd, 1989, AM
Someone found a radio station that was sending, there was a hospital open in Charotte Amalie and the roads were open!! To everyone's amazement, my Jeep was still there in the parking lot!! Someone put me in my Jeep and said they were driving me to the Hospital, but first I said I needed to go see if the Floating Hilton was still there. We drove to the Marina. We stood at the shores edge, there was nothing but mangled docks, power boats and sailboats up on the roadside and the Lagoon where the Floating Hilton used to live was a tangled mess of debris and sunken boats and piles of boats. We found the Floating Hilton, it was deep in the mangroves. We counted 26 boats under it, on top of it and through it. It was totally mangled and twisted. One of my mooring neighbors was rummaging through his pile of rubble, in his underwear. He saw me and started screaming wildly that "my houseboat was what started it all!!" WTF??? Right?! My houseboat summoned Hugo to our Harbor?! He was totally in shock still and just loosing it!! Time to get to the Hospital, I was feeling queasy, lightheaded and in a lot of pain.

There was still so much Civil Unrest, the person that drove me to the Hospital abandoned me there. (I hold no ill regard, it was insanity down town and all over the Island! Thank and bless their souls for the one that got me there to the Hospital!) I had some internal bleeding and a huge pie shaped wedge piece of bone chunked out of my left arm. I was given some pain killers, put on antibiotics and put in an arm cast. As I started to walk out of "Emergency", my cast fell off my arm??? The Hospital had nothing but unqualified volunteers and I was an experiment! Back in, I go, and I talk the "technician" into "how to apply a cast, (lab #101!")

September 23rd, 1989, PM
I can't remember how I got back to the Condo or who the Hell was even there? But my generator was gone, along with four out of the six people that were there. My Parrot was in bad shape, but at least I found her. The dogs and the cat were abandoned, those people actually left the Island without their fur babies??? Who the fuck does that??? The Condo that we had been in, had been flooded and had collapsed floors from the 13"s of rain that added insult to injury of the storm. There was NO housing, nothing....if it withstood the wind, it flooded from the rain. Everything......GONE!! Hhhmmmm, interesting situation, what do you do???

September 23rd, 1989 LATE PM
Grab my Parrot, what's left of the bottled water and a couple of blankets, LEAVE the Condo!! Drunk, stupid assholes!! I took the dogs and the cat too! Now Me with a broken arm and four are trooping down the road in the trusty Jeep. I have NO idea where I am going, but I know I need to be next to the water, never mind that it is raining so hard, I can hardly see?! A car pulls up, "hey! That's so and so's dogs! They had an emergency! We can take the dogs for you!" Cool!!! That's awesome!! Lightens my load, off to the beach we go! Me, Henny and a belligerent cat!! I know that the Resort I used to Charter out of had a bunch of Hobie Cats that were stored on the beach?! Possibly a little cover for us?! Yessssss!! A conglomerate of Hobie's, a hot mess, was there waiting for us! Henny was so happy!! I put her in the mangled rigging, only after I pushed two Hobies together and made us a little hut. The Cat hung with us for about two days, but after that, I never saw him again. Henny and I hung out for almost three months under the Hobies. There was very minimal anxiety. Henny was an amazing "watch parrot" and people actually came down and hung out with us and brought us stuff. We ate out of food lines for almost four months. There was a curfew, initially at 6pm for at least a month, then it went to 8pm for another 2-3 months and then to 10pm and a year later... There was still a curfew by midnight! People were just getting phones back, after a whole year later! I finally found a room to rent! It was actually a really "posh" place in the day, but after the ravaging of Hugo, it was "just a place". What made it exceptional, was the guys that gave me a room there, were phone technicians from Georgia and there for Hugo relief. Cool phone guys!! A year after Hugo, I still had to climb a telephone pole and clip into a line 20' in the air to talk to the States??? WTH???

Side bar;
There was always that ONE boat that was in the harbor, while you were chartering that just pissed you off!! Loud, obnoxious, with loose behavior on board, paid hussy's..... Really just put a kink in your Chartering world, because there was always that deviate guest that polarized to the Smut boat!! Being a behavioral monitor of adult substance can really be exhausting!!! But, I'm a "safety girl"!! So, yay me?? I grew to literally HATE this boat :(

September 26th, 1989.
Learned that the Charter Boat I "hated", was feeding the Eastside of the Island! Wow!! Who knew?! I stood in their food lines and when I was handed a plate of gourmet fixings!!!! Not only was I humbled, but thanked them profusely and confessed that I was a judgmental asshole! They were so nice! People are people, the hardest times, bring out the real and good! Thank you M/Y "Solid Gold"!!!

September, 1st-ish, 1990...
A year later, still wearing a cast on my left arm, I had enough of Paradise and packed up my Parrot and said goodbye to my awesome roommate's and the Islands! I knew my arm was never going to get better until I went back to the States and saw a specialist. There is a lot more to this story, but just writing this much, makes me tired. Perhaps another time. I do know that I was a different person coming home, than that girl that went down there five years before.

Somewhere in the bottom of a large trunk, probably in storage, there are some pictures that I took of that time in the Condo and when we were walking around while the Eye of Hugo was over us. I want to find those and post them at some point...but for now, I just have technical pictures.

So!! Found some Pre/during & post Hugo pictures!! Go to the photo gallery! There was nothing like that era in the 80's, in the Virgin Islands!!

A Beautiful Goodbye!

24 April 2015

Team Hamilton's return from an epic adventure!!

While intricate details of our last three months off the grid, can not be disclosed, we can say, it was definitely EPIC and not at all, "whoo hoo, throw your hands in the air like you don't care!" Epic. There were lots of trials and tribulations, honest hard work and all done with devotion to a cause! It was an awesome learning experience, we made life long friends and would most likely devote a piece of our lives again.

While the physical aspects of our last three months are not available, our mental aspects can be discussed! So this will be mostly a soul insight and yes, still on boats, living aboard, weather and characters along the way!

Transitions, Diet...
Boat life is for the most part, lots of relaxing, living in small spaces, "standing" watches, (which let's face it, you are not burning the calories you would be on land), boat drinks are a bit more occasional and sunsets are a lingering, must do! We are retired! We earned it and no one or any animals are hurt in the participation of our "relax-i-cating"!! (A Kimber-ism! My word, no hate mail please!)
I, myself have been struggling to go pure Vegan for some time. I won't get going on some Holy'er than Thou rant on eating animals or animal by-products, it's just my personal decision and it takes a lot of self educating and determination, along with availability of Vegan ingredients, especially while provisioning a boat and even more so, when one is accustomed to provisioning for a gourmet charter boat! Beans and rice are yummy, just not EVERY night! So, there is an occasional, deviation, not a disregard to my decision. Hater' me if you want, but at least I am headed in the right direction and working on it. I have been a self taught chef on boats for over 30+ years and have a pretty good resume, so this is a huge decision for me, but I love it! I love how I feel and I will strive to continue on this path! Wish me luck?! Meanwhile, I have developed some fierce recipes that I defy even a hard core carnivore to complain about!! THAT, I am proud of!!

Mike has lost ten to fifteen pounds and I have lost fifteen pounds!!

You would NEVER have convinced me, six months ago, that we would be agreeable to helping out a fellow boater in sub-zero temperatures, yet we did?! Holy Crap it was SO cold!! Ice storms so treacherous that even the indigenous bird wild life was found suffering at an alarming rate of casualties! It was not a normal winter in the NE!! We witnessed this Grib, come hurdling out of the sky and hit an ice pack so hard, he broke his neck, on impact! There were two times during this period, that I actually became alarmed for my self preservation. I got so cold, my lips were blue, feet were numb, I couldn't feel my hands and I started to panic. No es bueno!! (I had frostbite when I lived in Canada, it was so scary. The Dr's were talking about amputation of toes??? I remember yelling at them, "NOT AN OPTION!!!") so getting so cold that I'm to the point of numbness for me, is very, very scary. Because of my frostbite, the long term effects have yielded two very painful and unsuccessful foot surgeries. No prosthetics, but I have lost 25% of the feeling in my right foot and 30% of my ball joint was removed, next to my big toe. Okay, on ward and upward! I slept on a heating pad almost every night after I wound up having a back spasm that put me down for at least four days. The heating pad was the ticket,that really helped. The boat was getting ready to be delivered, then there would be something else that was broke, (yep, it's a boat!) that would get fixed, then something else would brake, parts would get ordered, things would get fixed and things would brake again! Our initial time that we were going to help out, was going to be four to six weeks, which turned into eight weeks, which turned into ten, then twelve...finally, it was going to happen! We were so excited!! The delivery went down to Florida. Thank the good Lord, we were going to finally get to warmer weather!! Sunset, the evening before we started South, was a beautiful goodbye!

The delivery took us just about four days, the sun was finally hot and it was so awesome to be in shorts and t-shirts again! After we pulled into Port, one of the Crew we had on board told us that his friends that were on a big sailboat with Ocean Alliance, they were just across the way! We all took a hike over there and met Captain Bob and had the ten cent tour of the S/V Odyssey!! There were some guests on board and one of them was this lovely lady, Brenda that was an artist! It was so nice to just sit and relax and have a few beers and not think about any work. The last three months had been nothing short of exhausting. Again, not complaining! It was good honest work and I'm so glad we got to experience it all! But now it's time to pack our bags and think about the trip home! We wanted to take a week out for ourselves and just sit around a pool somewhere and flake out, sleep in and just rest. We decided to go to Marathon Key, Florida and see a couple of our good friends, Eric and Kim Stone! They just happened to have a restaurant there and live music every night!! So off to Marathon!! Yay!! Sunset, before we left the boat glowed a beautiful goodbye!

We spent about ten days in Marathon. There were huge windows with the warm sun shinning in across the entire room! A huge screened in porch overlooking a pool, next to a mangrove lagoon. It was ten days of awe......some!!! We could pretty much walk anywhere we wanted to go and if not, anywhere on Marathon was a $5 cab ride!! Just a couple of blocks down the HWY was Crane Point, a natural refuge. We took a great hike through the Point, almost four hours, mostly dodging these gianormous spiders in their even more gianormous webs, but it was still a really great hike. There were a ton of Iguana and even a little Chameleon! A couple of days later we took a tour of the Turtle Hospital!! What a great rescue center. There was a lot of good education that goes out to the visitors. It was great to see people really interested and hopefully get involved with saving our Oceans.
We wound up taking an airport shuttle to Miami, stayed the night there and took a late morning flight back to San Diego. Sunsets from our friends restaurant, The Tropical Dockside Cafe were sure to be missed. They were beautiful, hopefully this is not goodbye! Thank you Eric and Kim!! You two are awesome!

Our friends picked us up and took us to the Marina. (Thanks Don & Celest!). We got back to the boat and tossed our bags and crashed. All of the sudden the whole last three months, really set in, but it was hard to sleep, I kept waking up, something was definitely missing!! I was dying to go pick up our little purr and fluff kitty-girl, Miss Q!! Up and out of the boat to get our girl, first thing in the morning! Oh but wait........the guy at the rental car place, GEORGE, wanted to take his crappy ass day out on us and was a complete turd-snot to us!! Clearly we were a huge inconvenience to his customer service existence. I actually bit my lip (trying to keep my eye on the desired effect of driving off the lot as soon as possible!) I was nothing but boiling over with glee, leaving the rental car lot, because ultimately GEORGE was hung up with a mega drama Queen!! Ha!! GEORGE!! Sucks to be you!! How's that Karma thing working out for ya now?!!!

Off to get Miss Q!! It was the longest drive ever, or so it seemed. I can't believe we had been gone this long! It had been 13+ weeks! I didn't know what to expect? Would she be all purr-purr and vocal?? Would she be mad and ignore us??? The girls at the front desk were all teary eyed, they really bonded. She took us into the huge room that she was in. There was this huge kitty tree that had been constructed the week after we left! It was like the Robinson Caruso Cat Tree!! Q was hanging in a cubby-hole and really not too interested in me. The assistant had actual tears, I had to get out of there and get back to the boat with Q. She was pretty good in the car, a little vocal, but not like usual. She is really vocal normally. Once we got back to the boat, yep!! Miss Q knew she was home!! Her little chatter started right up, she rubbed everything and went straight over to her bag of treats! She has been my shadow ever since.

The next few days were spent unpacking, cleaning, defrosting the refrigerator, doing laundry and opening mail. Holy bowl of WOW!! It was a little overwhelming, but it felt good to be back on our boat! Okay, more beautiful Sunsets on the aft deck!

So, as promised, a new recipe! This one is not my own, but, I have tweaked it a little depending on what International dish I want to accompany it with! It is a sauce, you can use it as a base sauce, then add or minus herbs to best marry into your dish!
It's called "Yum Sauce"....and it is YUMMY!!

From; Mama Jo Junior & Sharkbaits vegan guide

1 cup water
1 cup oil
1 cup ground Almonds
3/4 cup chickpeas
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3/4 cup tofu (silken, will help make it really creamy!)
1/2 lemon juice (a little less if you don't want it too tangy, a little more if you do!)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried coriander (cilantro)

Blend everything until smooth ( Vitamix, food processor or strong blender )
Serve over rice, beans, avocado, fresh tomatoes...

It is seriously, Yummy!! Lasts up to two weeks refrigerated.

180 degree's! Lions, Tigers & Bears....oh my!!!

11 January 2015
That 180 degree sharp turn...
about face in life...didn't see THAT coming?!!

Mike and I had been discussing our plans to finally head a little further South and at least cross the boarder into Mexico for a month or two. The issues that reared their ugly head last month, were finally starting to calm down. Not back to normal, by any means, but at least there was some light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, things will never be like they were again, this was a permanent change. I won't know if it is for better or worse for awhile?! I know this is very cryptic, so I'll just leave it at that and try not to whine about it anymore. Back to the Mexico plans...

We saw that our friend Holly Scott was hosting a seminar at a West Marine with one of the Harbor Masters from a nice Marina called Marina Coral, some boat Insurance folks and a couple of other boater/cruising industry folks there, as well. We decided that sounded pretty informative, in light of all the chaos from last year's boat impounding episode. We took the drive up to Newport area and had a front row seat. In fact it was very informative!! With all the instructions and contacts to have and especially the new TIP (temporary import permit) information! It definitely helped with the big mystery of what to expect and what was in store for us once we started the process. On the drive home we were happy and smiling and making plans. Although heading further South to transit the Panama Canal was on hold again until the following year. With Mikes family, having failing health, we decided to stay closer for another season.

While we had the rental car, we decided to join some of our Sea Shepherd friends that were tabling an event up in the foot hills of San Diego area, a large exotic animal sanctuary called "Lions, Tigers & Bears". It was a nice rescue facility for these animals that were saved from abusive Circus conditions and other cruel conditions from prior owners. I can't say I was happy to see any of this, yet it was so much better for them than a life in the Circus or small caged area. At "Lions, Tigers & Bears", these animals have constant running water, large living areas that are built to resemble a natural habitat, where they can live out their natural lives without having to do tricks for food and free of any more abusive treatment. Such beautiful animals. It was a really pleasant trip.

Back to the boat!
Christmas came and went. The end of the year was approaching and Mike and I decided that we would head down to Mexico after the New Year. We were getting all those annoying chores done. Parts for the dinghy, the second stage of cleaning the Bimini was getting done (now that my back was starting to behave and I could pick up heavier items again). I tore the forward V-berth apart and cleaned down to the bilges. I tore the Master State room apart, and cleaned into the hull linings, purged a bunch of clothes and some shoes to donate to the hurricane victims of Hurricane Odile down in the Cabo San Lucas area. Yep, things were starting to shape up! We were really going this time! Just waiting for some loose ends to tie up, New Years to get over with and then throw the lines finally for a couple/few months of some El Sol, cervesa's and warm water!! When the phone rings...

Now it gets REALLY cryptic, ambiguous and exciting!! Go ahead, roll your eyes, but I am not at liberty to say, just that this will most likely be one of my last blogs for awhile. Mexico is on an indefinite hold, things are a tad bit on the "Holy Shit!!" side. Mike and I have to take care of some things, so any and and all of you that might be following this blog, we will be back! It's not over yet!

In the mean time, the "new thing I'm going to try on my blog is (was?) a recipe at least once a month. I'm working on the Vegan thing, but Mike has yet to commit, so it will not be all vegan recipes, I still have to feed my growing boy! I will leave a picture or two (when possible) of the dish and some prepping. The photos can be found to the right of the blog page on the "photo gallery" link.

Red Baby Potato sauté, with vegetables, Rosemary and a Marsala wine demi-glaze

1 lb. of Red Baby Potato's, quartered

1 medium Red Onion, wedge cut, (I love onions, so I use the whole thing, but you don't have to)

6-8 medium Cremini Mushrooms, cleaned, and sliced

1/2 lb. Fresh crisp Green Beans, cleaned and quartered.

3 fresh sprigs of Rosemary, cleaned, stemmed and finely chopped,
(it should be at least a tablespoon when finely chopped)

2 cups basic brown gravy (vegan version, start with vegetable better than bouillon and thicken with tapioca starch) cook down until it thickens to your liking. At least 15-20 minutes. Add Marsala wine to taste. If you like lots of wine, you'll need to cook your glaze sauce down a little more.

Marsala wine to taste (I like it hearty, about 1/4 cup)

Salt and white pepper to taste

Start with sautéing the mushrooms, when they release their moisture, throw in the potato's and onion, rosemary, salt and pepper. Finish sautéing until potato's and onion have a golden brown to them and potato's are tender and onion is slightly caramelized. Toss in the green beans and some Marsala sauce to cover veggie mixture. Finish sautéing until green beans are al dente. (Green beans will keep cooking even off the heat, to your plate. Don't over cook! No mushy beans!) you don't have to use all your Demi-glaze sauce, it depends on how wet you want it. This is a great side dish to any meal!

Serves two-four

It started out with good intentions?!

22 December 2014
Good intentions...

Mike and I got all comfy in our slip after laughing the whole way home from the road trip to Malibu! Crazy Bates Motel incident!! Time to unpack and dig into the bags of goodies we had previously brought in from our shopping spree at West Marine. We had about five days to get some things done on the deck before the weather was supposed to move in. Yay!! Rain was coming!! (Yep, that really came out of this girls mouth?!) Things were kind of crusty, Freebird needed a good wash. Not too clean, the big clean was being saved for after the rain. What I was planning on, was rinsing the big chunks off and getting on our Bimini. We have not been able to shake the mold that likes to accumulate on the under side of the Bimini! Drives me CRAZY!! Ever since Eureka, it's been a battle. Eureka is a beautiful place, but the mold there is just cookoo!! Cars even have mold on them there! Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I had bought some "Eco friendly" mold and mildew cleaner and got the bucket and boat brush out. I was in a bathing suit top and shorts, thinking to myself that there was a slight nip in the air and I might want to throw a shirt on, then the conversation with myself went on in my head, to say that I'll get warm while scrubbing the boat and Bimini. There, rationalized that dilemma out! I reached over to grab the now full 5 gallon bucket of soapy water when, what seemed to be a bolt of white light, went right through my brain and out my eyeballs to blind me momentarily and I dropped like a stone onto the deck of Freebird! It knocked the wind out of me and I was laying on the coach roof all torqued trying to breath. I had pulled the muscles in my lower back and it was bad. I kept trying to yell for help at Mike down below. I could barely form the words and didn't have enough breath to yell anything. I kept trying to tell myself to relax and breath, it would go away! Nope! THAT didn't happen. It was getting worse by the second and I was in a backwards curl, I was sure my eyes were going to pop out of my head. The spasms would not stop, I tried to mouth the word help to this guy walking by. He appeared to see me there and a weird smirk was on his face and he just trotted down the dock. I couldn't believe it, I could hardly move the pain was so gripping. I closed my eyes and tried to get some sort of rhythm of breathing back, I thought I was going to pass out. I knew if I did, I would probably fall off the boat and either hit the finger pier (concrete) or go in the water. Neither was an option. I finally was able to let go of one of the hand rails and start knocking on the top of the coach roof, praying that Mike would respond?! A few seconds later, Mike Prairie-dogged out from down below. He kept saying "Where you at?" and I just kept knocking because I still couldn't speak. He came running over and tried to pull me up and then I finally got something out, not sure it was a real word though?! I was all contorted from the spasms. Mike kinda straightened me out and I could finally catch my breath some, but I still couldn't get up. I could only say half words between the tears that were squirting straight out. It took him about twenty minutes to scrape me up and slowly walk me down below. He sat me down in the main Salon and that is where I stayed for almost four solid days.

Day five I was able to walk around and that was a good thing. We were going to a place in the hills that is a wildlife Sanctuary. I was NOT MISSING THAT!! I was moving slow, but we had such a great time at the Sanctuary! I don't like to see any animal in a cage, but these poor guys were rescues from Circus, and other abusive conditions. This facility gives them large open spacious conditions, toys, natural habitat type shelter and running water. I made it through the day, holding onto Mike most of the time!

The rain came and went. No huge event. I decided that I was going to give the Bimini wash another try. Mike helped me and we got it done! Stage one of three. That went well enough, so I decided to get some laundry done. I was just going to do a couple of loads, to bring the mountain of clothing down, that was peaking in our State room of dirty fashion. I was feeling somewhat better. I had been taking Arnica and Hypericum and resting a lot on the heating pad. I just barely got the small bag of laundry off my shoulder, swung it over to the table and....POW!! Dropped on the floor, again in crazy pain!! Luckily Mike was there to help me off the floor. Nice, not embarrassing at all, right?!! Back to the couch and heating pad!!

Week two and I find myself starting to forget about my back, yeah!!! The Holiday Season is upon us, we had rented a car and were doing quite a bit of running around. We even were able to get into the Craig Ferguson Late, Late Show a couple of times and celebrated twelve years of marriage!! I had been in a mad mood. Down right Grinchy, from the stress I had been under, my back going out and how commercial Christmas is these days, but somehow on our Anniversary night, it just rained warm fuzzies in my heart! I was feeling Christmas!!

Nail biting fun & the Bates Motel

07 December 2014
Nail biting fun, and dues to pay at the "Bates Motel"!

The wind has been unfavorable, it appears to always be right off the bow, no matter what direction we are headed?! We have been motor sailing WAY too much lately. It feels like cheating on a lover?! Yay, you get there, but a little anticlimactic,
just the same.

As we are headed towards Point Loma, the wind comes to our favor and we are excited to throw up some sails! The seas were somewhat choppy the whole way and Miss Q was looking a little green, so it was a push/pull on our decision to put sails up, but adrenaline won! Q went into her safety bed and we were moving and shaking in the cockpit!! In no time we were hitting 8+ Knts. SOG!! (speed over ground). The starboard rail was buried in the water and there was a lot of crashing noises down below (easy fix, later...) it was so fun!! A good solid hour of full sails, peace and quiet except for the sound of the wind and a few waves over the bow. Alas, we rounded the point and hit the wind shade. Mike fired up the engine and I was preparing to steer the helm up wind so we could pull sails in and clean up the deck before docking. However, as I was turning into the wind, a big gust came out of nowhere and pushed us over to starboard again. We were low on fuel, very low. The gust was growing in strength, the engine sputtered and then died, we were healed over with a dead engine! Normally this isn't a problem, unless you're coming into a busy waterway, laden with big ships and lots of small craft traffic too. We were healed over the opposite way of the fuel pickup and it was sucking air. Crap-ola!! Soooooo much traffic in this entrance!! Point Loma is a huge Naval site, with huge Naval ships in and out of this entrance, countless Marinas, day sailors, SUP'ers, kayaker's, guys in inner-tubes fishing....sheeeee-it!! No engine, REALLY??? We turned up into the wind as soon as possible. Mike was saying that this might be a task, because he would probably have to bleed the fuel line before we had control of the boat again under power. Fortunately for us, that was not the case! The Gods were with us and Freebird fired right up and smiles were restored to our faces! Into our new home harbor, we went!

Off to West Marine.... Cha-Ching$$$ The head gets fixed and new dinghy fuel fittings, man-over-board life buoy...$$$$$ other stuff, it never ends, BOAT!!

We took a small road trip. It was one of my BFFL's 39th (;) Birthday. We were driving to Malibu and going to stay for the night. No driving after a festive night, right! So it was kind of a last minute reservation on a popular online, cheap hotel website. I hastily made this reservation, first thing in the morning, before COFFEE, and seriously?!!! Are there ANY BAD places in Malibu?! It's Malibu, can't happen, right??? HA!! Guess again?!! I am not even remotely on the embellishment side!! This is nothing short of the "Bates Motel"!! The office was a funky little room in the middle of the room line-up, with a man, banging on a pop machine with some sort of antique tool. Sitting next to him was a woman with cigarette smoke permeated skin. Perched on top of her head, was a faux fur hat of some sort? For all I know , it could have been an old hand muff. They were nice enough alright, but I couldn't get over the old gnarly cat, sleeping in this ratty armchair, looking like he was resting up for another brawl with whatever it was that attacked him In the first place. This place was complete with bare electrical wires and open light sockets, shower curtains that looked like they were made from Grandma's church dress with blood on it, fine art on the wall that was stolen from a third grade puzzle student, knife slashed upholstery furniture, and conveniently placed mirrors next to windows with even more conveniently placed busy bus stop benches right outside the room!?? Even Miss Q was sketched in this room! At first she crawled up onto the middle of one of the beds and kept a watchful eye on the fake fireplace. When she's at home, she knows if she looks at it long enough, eventually it will turn on and then she can take the cliché kitty spot in front of it and purr her head off for the rest of the night. It was very perplexing as to why, the laser focus staring, wasn't working for her this time?! Mike and I could only laugh and investigate the creepy window fixtures and holes in the walls!! Meanwhile, Miss Q was now in protest over the cruel trick of the non-working fireplace and had taken it upon herself to crawl up into the under lying works of our mattress! Just great!! If we sat down on the bed, we would squish her! Note to self, when we got back to the room from our evening, check the bed first, THEN take a load off. For Gawds sake, REALLY??? We both agreed, this was a one time thing! We couldn't miss my friends Birthday. Nope/yep..... Stay'en for the pure adrenaline rush now. :/

My friends Birthday party was nothing short of AWESOME!! Her husband is such a treasure! Really stoked that we all re-connected after 35+ years from our "pasture rat" days!! (We all had horses and ponies together, in our youth, on the shores of Santa Barbara, CA. Love all our GF's so much!! We are our own special little family unit) but this was her crowd now. Very few pasture girls there, yet everyone was so warm and welcoming. What a great evening!

The next morning we woke to find ourselves alive and no trauma, bug bites or bruises! Bonus round!! Off to the famously proclaimed "Geoffrey's" restaurant, on the lower cliffs of Malibu beach, for some brunch and some fresh sea air! It was a beautiful morning that merged into the afternoon, with good conversation and a natural facial from good ole Mother Nature. A small pod of Dolphin swam by. We watched a group of Sea Lions fishing in the kelp beds and a huge flock of Pelican were fishing off the fringes of the Sea lions wake. Time to get back to the boat. Miss Q was happy to leave the "Bates Motel". I put her little carrier down and she usually gets real vocal and hisses at me before she crawls in. This time she eagerly climbed in, like "get me the Hell out of here!" My favorite part of this was when I asked for a receipt for the room! I had to take a picture of it, because I just cracked up! A hand written one, on some little note paper! Priceless!!

On our return, we received some seriously distressing news. No one died, but the kind of shit that you just don't want to hear...
It's personal, so I don't need to get long winded about it, but fuuuuuuuck! "Life is what happens, while you're busy making plans!"
Jimmy Buffett
Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 43 DS
Hailing Port: Portland, Oregon
Crew: Mike & Kimber Hamilton
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