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The End Of One Journey, The Start Of A New One!

This is the post excerpt.

This is the very first blog of our new journey through life.  We have just finished selling Leu Cat, our Lagoon 44 Catamaran sailboat which we spent 10 years sailing around the world, and have bought a Tiffin Allegro Bus to explore North America.  We are very excited to begin this new journey and look forward to sharing it with you.

Before we begin, we wish to share with you some very sad news.  The new owners of Leu Cat, Susan and Doug, have just emailed us to say that Leu Cat is no more.  We sold Leu Cat on August 30th and she was anchored in the lagoon at Sint Maarten.  Unfortunately, the massive hurricane called Irma swept over Sint Maarten just a few days later and destroyed much of the island and hundreds of boats, including Leu Cat.  Here is the message that we received from Susan and Doug:

“It is my sad task to tell you that Leu Cat is a total loss from Hurricane Irma. According to the last AIS transmission, she ended up against the Skipjack Restaurant on Welfare Road at the short bridge to Snoopy Island at 5:05 am on Wednesday, Sept. 6. That was almost immediately after the hurricane hit St. Maarten. With that information, Ian found her at that location today under a pile of wrecked boats with only the flags on the forward hulls visible to identify her. She is in small pieces as she was blown through the causeway bridge. We are saddened also to know that he lost his Leopard catamaran (which was a business in addition to his surveying) as well.”

We were so saddened to hear this tragic news.  Susan and Doug are such nice people and this is the last thing we would want for them.  Fortunately, they did purchase hurricane insurance so they should recoup much of their loss.  Also, we are saddened because Leu Cat was such a wonderful home, sailboat and companion to us as we sailed around the world.  If you are interested in sharing the adventure we had with her, you can go go to our blog site by Click here to go to our sailing adventure blog site

In the days to come, we will be sharing with you our new adventures as we start our exploration of North America in our new home.  We have yet to name her and are open to any suggestions that you may have.  We will post photos of her in the next few days as the dust settles from our outfitting her.  She is a beauty!

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Year 1 Day 97 The Return Of Mary Margaret

After my daily trot up to the top of the ridge, high above our campground, where I need to go to have cell and Internet coverage, I called Heather and Mary Margaret to see how things were going and to see if Mary Margaret was coming back home today. She had volunteered to stay a few days with Heather to help with Victoria, who had been ill with the flu. I can attest to poor Victoria having the flu as I was the recipient to what is called a “blowout”. Yuck!

In talking with the two girls, I was pleased to learn that Victoria is well and is now attending daycare again. Also, Mary Margaret shared with me that she was able to get a mani/pedi along with spending time with Victoria and Heather. However, she was now ready to return home and looking forward to it. Yea!

Heather suggested that she take Mary Margaret to the BART station in downtown San Francisco so that I would not have to make the 2-3 hour roundtrip drive into the City. That was a great suggestion but I was concerned that Mary Margaret and I could miss a successful pickup in Dublin, the end of one of the many BART lines that cover the Bay Area like a spider web. I have taken this particular BART trip before and it is a bit intimidating the first time you do it. First, you have to get on the correct train as BART covers the entire bay area with a myriad of trains coming and going, each with different destinations. Second, you have to get off at the proper station and there are two Dublin stations to chose from. Third, once you get off the train, you need to leave the station on the proper side to meet your waiting party.

Mary Margaret can be a bit directional challenged at times and I was thinking that if I had difficulty, she may also. Furthermore, if she did make a mistake along the way, she did not have her cell phone with her and I would not have any idea where she was and I could not help her get to where I would be waiting. The old 1960’s Letterman song about a rider on the Boston MTA getting lost was heavy on my mind (“Yes, he never returned, he never returned and his fate is still unlearned”).

Fortunately, Mary Margaret, that great world traveler, negotiated the complex transportation process just fine all by herself, and walked through the exit turnstiles and greeted me with a smile on her face. Easy – peasy!

To celebrate her successful return, she suggested that we go to a movie and then out for dinner. The idea struck home with me so we drove a short distance to a Regal movie theater and selected the next movie that would be starting. I can not remember the name of it but stared Morgan Freeman and was a light comedy. It was not a great movie but was enjoyable and we left happy that we had watched it.
We then walked across the sidewalk and into Fuddruckers, a well-known hamburger joint and one that we had not been to in years. To our surprise, they now feature not only all beef hamburgers but also, Buffalo, Elk, Emu and Ostridge burgers. Good figure!

We enjoyed our early dinner and then returned to LeuC. Tomorrow, Dwight, a former partner of mine, comes over for lunch and then we will drive over to spend the night with our son, David Paul, and his family. I will be sneaking out the next day to play golf while Mary Margaret bakes to her heart’s content in their kitchen.

Year 1 Day 96 Exploring Del Valle Recreational Park

Without my life mate by my side today, I twiddled my thumbs this morning, not knowing what to do with myself. It then struck me that I had not really explored the various parts of this park that we are camping in. With that in mind, I hopped in our rental car and drove around the roads within the park.

It is a large park that surrounds a large reservoir. It consists of 4395 aces and is filled with various hiking, bike and horse paths. It has a family and many group campgrounds and two day-use equestrian staging areas.

I first drove to the east side of the park and stopped at the boat launch. While the park is virtually empty since it is a weekday, there were a couple of boats in the reservoir with its occupants casting their fishing lines into the water. There were actually many more swans and geese in the water than fishermen.

The reservoir is pretty low now since we are at the end of the dry season. Thus, the upper end of the reservoir was dry with its silt and mud bottom exposed. About ¼ of the reservoir’s surface area is dry.

I will post the photos I took here to show you what I saw when I walked around and explored this side of the park.

I next drove over to the west side of the park. Along the way a small herd of black tailed deer pranced along the road. I stopped and took photos as they kept a watchful eye on me and then crossed the road right in front of me. I started driving again only after they had crossed and moved up a bank on the far side of the road.

I parked near the Visitor’s Center only to discover that it is closed for the season and will not open again until next May. This side of the park was totally empty of people but was filled with numerous picnic tables and BBQ grills. There was another dock but no boats at the dock since it was sitting on the dry silt being at the upper end of the reservoir.

I will post photos of this area, also.

Year 1 Day 95 Another Beautiful Girl

This morning we used our rental car to drive into the heart of San Francisco to spend the day with our daughter, Heather, and her foster baby, Victoria. They live in at part of the city known as North Beach, which is at the base of Coit Tower and is part of the Italian District. Thus, they are literally just foot steps away from many of the best restaurants and bistros in the world. They are also right next door to Washington Square, a nice tree dotted, grassy park where you can walk your dog, watch groups of people doing various oriental exercises to music, and where there are various festivals held throughout the year. She is also just a block away from Chinatown, a robust, bustling area where the streets are lined with large food stands, chock full of various fruits and vegetables. As a young adult, you can not find a better part of the City to live in.

When we arrived, we discovered that Victoria was a bit under the weather, still recovering from a bout of the flu. Poor Heather was exhausted, not having much sleep these last few days, having to care for Victoria being under the weather and working full time.

I had dropped Mary Margaret off at Heather’s condo while I went to park our car. When I arrived at Heather’s place, Mary Margaret had already made up her mind that she was going to spend the next day or so with Heather to help take care of Victoria so Heather could get some more sleep and to babysit Victoria during Monday and maybe Tuesday while Heather worked. If Victoria is still ill during Monday and Tuesday, Victoria could not go to her daycare center and will have to stay home.

Despite being ill, Victoria was still be bundle of energy and somehow maintained her sunny personality with her smile beaming; filling whatever room she crawled to with warmth and happiness. This is the happiest kid we have ever seen… even when ill!

However, I must admit, while Victoria was sitting in my lap, watching Gazoon cartoons on my laptop, my impressions of her did waiver. In fact, I ending up calling her something that grandpas should never say. I called her a “shitty little kid”!

Now, I hope you will find it in your hears to forgive me but I did have a basis for this outburst. Sweet, innocent, smiley little Victory had what is lovingly called by parents a “blowout” covering Grandpa’s lap and sweater with diarrhea. Yuck, Double Yuck, and Triple Yuck!!!

Grandma and Heather rushed over to cleanup Victoria and rescue a sludge covered Grandpa. Since I did not have a change of clothes with me, Grandma took my clothes to the laundry room for a quick wash and dry. Grandma and Heather both were so great in rescuing poor ol’ Grandpa from his misery and helping to clean him and Victoria up.

With both Victoria and I cleaned up, we all settled down to a spaghetti diner with me sitting in just my socks, underwear and shirt as my clothes were in the wash. Over dinner, I explained to Victoria that while she will not remember this experience, poor ol’ Grandpa will, and someday I might be able to laugh at it. Mary Margaret and Heather do not have to wait that long as they chuckled over the experience during dinner.

I wish I could post a picture of beautiful Victoria to this blog as you can see the eternal smile that she has. Unfortunately, as a foster child, the social services department does not allow such social media postings so you will just have to accept this picture that only shows the back of her head. This was taken only seconds before the “blowout” as Victoria and I watched Gazoon cartoons

Year 1 Day 94 Such A Beautiful Girl

This morning I did a little shopping since I had to get out of the park and drive over the high ridge that towers above us and blocks the Internet reception that we so miss. When I returned after shopping and dabbling with the Internet, David Paul, Allison and Molly drove up. What timing!

It was so good to see them again and see how much little Molly has developed. She is now a little over three months old and is demonstrating such a sweet and happy personality. Plus, she is such a beautiful girl with a head full of bright red hair, a Paul Newman blue eyes, very fair skin, and a smile that just lights up her face and radiates happiness throughout the room. Add to that the fact that she is a talker. She just delights in engaging in conversations. I bet you will never guess that she has stolen our hearts!

After giving a tour of LeuC to Allison and David Paul and then talking a bit, we decided to run over to Livermore for lunch. Allison and David Paul once ate at a great BBQ place in the old town section of Livermore.

To get there, we once again drove past the various vineyard that dot the landscape and when we arrived in the old town section of Livermore, we fell in love with it. Many of the buildings were original and in the art deco style. There were a couple of parks with green grass and one with a fountain. Children were playing in the little parks with their parents talking with friends as they watched the kids play. It was very nice to watch.

We trooped into Sauce and the aroma of BBQ meats surrounded us and put smiles on all of our faces. After a delicious meal of various BBQs served in heaping portions, all paired with peanut butter chocolate dark stout beer, we waddled out, stuffed to the gizzards.

Since we were already halfway to Allison and David Paul’s house, we decided to go there and chill. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon catching up with the kids and oohing and aahing over Molly and joined in the conversations.

Tomorrow, we driving into San Francisco to spend the day with Heather and Victoria. Victoria’s first birthday is in a week and we are anxious to go over the plans of her party with Heather.

Year 1 Day 93 The End Of Our Internet

Up until today, we have been using the East Bay Recreational Park District’s hot spot for our Internet connection. I was able to get the user name and password from our only neighbor. Our only neighbor is a group of hard looking men in their 30s that return to their campsite each day around 5 PM and leave around 7AM. I had walked over there the evening after we arrived and asked if they knew the user name and password to log on. Between gulps of beer, the head honcho of the group, with a streak of mud on his check, shared that information with me. Armed with that information, I returned to our bus and logged in. It worked pretty well and I was phat, dumb and happy, surfing the Internet and using Skype to make phone calls.

As it turns out, these gentlemen from whom I got the sign-in information from are fire fighters and they had been given the Internet sign-in user name and password from the park administration while they are working around the park. While we do not have any fires around us, they must be working to expand fire breaks and clear away dead wood around the park. As you probably know, a couple of months ago there were a series of very deadly wild fires burning thousands upon thousands of acres here in Northern California and now there are a number of wild fires burning in Southern California.

California has always been ripe for wild fires because it gets these seasonal high winds that can blow for days. If a fire does start, it quickly spreads because of the high winds picking up and tossing the live embers 100s of feet downwind, scorching whatever that can burn that is in its path. Friends of ours have been posting pictures and videos of the fire that is near the Geddes Museum in Los Angeles which shows rush hour traffic creeping down the freeway, heading into what looks like the Gates of Hell. Wow!

I had been using the Internet thinking that it is available to all park guests and that it was an open system. Apparently, it is not and I had been using the exclusive portal for the fire fighters. Ops! Who knew?

It has all caught up to us now as I can no longer sign-in using that user name and password. Furthermore, being deep in the valley between two long, tall ridges, we cannot get an Internet signal nor cell phone signal. The day of connectivity for us while nestled in LeuC in this beautiful park are over.

This means each morning I will need to take our rental car and drive out of the park to the top of one of the ridges to pick up Internet and cell phone signals from a local tower. While it is a pain in the arse, at least we can communicate with the world at least once a day.

During our 10 years sailing around the world, we faced this problem many times. We eventually bought the new technology called Iridium Go when it came out a few years ago and this partially solved our Internet connectivity issues. Using the Go, we could get 24/7 our weather reports, emails and post our daily blogs. Prior to the Go, we would buy a local SIM card for our cell phone at each island we sailed to or rely on using our SSB radio as a modem to hook into the Internet while making long blue water passages. Unfortunately, the SSB connection did not work all of the time, being impacted by weather conditions around us or around the Internet station which we were trying to connect with, wherever it was located around the world.

Being back on land and with the great Internet infrastructure that is present in the US, we have been spoiled while roaming around with LeuC. That is now over for the month that we will be camping here at the Del Valle Recreational Park…

Bottom line of all of this, if you need to contact us, you will need to leave us either an email message, a blog comment, or a voice mail on our cell phone. I will be able to collect and respond to whatever messages you leave us once a day, each morning when I make the daily trip to the top of the nearest ridge.

Year 1 Day 92 A Day Of Rest?

My definition of a day for rest is different than Mary Margaret’s day of rest. As a typical man, I can stare down a pile of laundry, shrug and walk away. While I know it should be done, it is just not a priority to me until my last piece of underwear is in the pile. At that time, things are a bit desperate and it is time for action. After all, we are both a bit tired after these first 90 days of living in a RV and putting on over 7000 miles on LeuC during this period and today was the start of a nice, well-earn time of rest and recovery.

Well, Mary Margaret is built differently than me. Even though she is a bit under the weather, being worn down and in need of a good rest, the thought of the pile of laundry growing with each day was just too mentally weighing on her. Thus, instead of resting, practicing with me our slug imitation, she dug into the large pile of dirty clothes and ended up doing 4 loads of wash. At the end of the day, she still had one more load to do but was stopped by the fact that all of the washing she did had filled our grey water tank to its top. By the time that occurred, it was getting dark so it was too late in the day for me to go outside, hookup our sump hose to the sewer, and empty both our black and grey water tanks.

Also, it was time to start up the fire in our fire pit, pull up a rocking outdoor chair, light up some Cuban leaf and pour a finger or two of Islay Scotch. Yep, our priories sure are different! LOL!

Now some of you may think that I could have pitched in and relieved Mary Margaret in her efforts of doing the laundry. In fact, I have offered to do this many times through our 47+ years of marriage. However, she lacks faith in my abilities to wash our clothes without doing damage to them. This very negative attitude is, in fact, well-earned given the number of sweaters I have ruined by washing and then drying them improperly. I think she still cringes every time I pass by the washer/drier on my way to our bathroom.

With the grey water tank now full, preventing Mary Margaret to continue her quest, she was finally ready to stop doing the laundry and reluctantly stretched out on our very comfy sofa and relaxed. Yea!

Here are a few photos of our campsite that I took today:

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Year 1 Day 91 Getting Settled In

This morning we bundled LeuC (by this I mean we pull in her four side extensions, and secured everything inside that can move or fall) and then drove south to our campground at the Del Valle Recreational Park near Livermore, CA. Along the way, we stopped at a car rental and picked up a rental car that we will be using for the next two weeks as our little Fiat gets repaired.

The drive from Livermore to the campground was gorgeous as we made our way through rounded golden hills dotted with horse farms and California Live Oak trees. I will need to take the rental car back over this drive and stop along the way to take pictures so you can see how remarkably beautiful the scenery is.

While our campsite is very, very spacious, that part of it where we park LeuC is very narrow with large rocks marking the parking place. It was tough to back such a big rig, such as LeuC, into it but, with Mary Margaret outside and directing me, we finally wedged ourselves in. Ahhhh, we are finally here!

The next few days we will be nestling in, like a mother hen who swishes her rump back and forth, making her nest nice and comfy cozy. This will be the first time since we moved into LeuC where we will have time to rest and relax. We will be here for a month, with break for a few days up in Sacramento. One can only reserve a camp spot here for two weeks at a time and must leave the campground before coming back for another two week stay. Thus, the need for a brief trip up to Sacramento, to visit friends.

While we are surrounded by nature’s beauty and have lots of space around us, we did discover one negative side to this park. It is tucked into a valley and therefore, does not have cell service. Ugh. Along with not having cell phones that work, we also can not directly get Internet. Fortunately, the park does offer a free Internet WIFI connection but its bandwidth is shared between all of the campers. It is not too bad right now but I am concerned that over weekends, when the park gets most of its visitors, the service is going to be spotty. We will just have to wait and see.

We had to fire up our old Skype account to call and talk with our son, David Paul, who lives in San Ramon, to the north of us. He and his family will be coming over to visit us this Saturday. They are anxious to see us and to see what we are now living in. We, too, are anxious to see them as their new daughter, Molly, is growing in leaps and bounds. She is now about 3 months old. From the recent pictures they have posted, it looks like she is developing a real sweet and happy personality. We are not surprised given how sweet and happy her mom, Allison, is.
On Sunday, we will be driving into San Francisco to spend the day with our daughter, Heather and her foster child, Victoria. Victoria will be celebrating her 1st birthday in about 10 days and we are also looking forward to her first birthday party. Heather has had her since she was a week old and Victoria is such a happy and smiley baby. She is starting to talk now and recently said “mommy” to Heather’s delight.

We are so lucky to have three wonderful kids and their respective families!