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Our trip to the states continued for the first couple of weeks of September. The first of September we woke up in Grass Valley, CA at the home of some dear friends. We had a great couple of days there, fishing in the pond, riding horses o, eating incredible food, drinking great wine and having a wonderful visit. We next headed to Sacramento for a couple of days with more family. Again, we ate incredible food and had fun visits with one and all. We even went for a nice walk along the American River. At this point we figured out that we were gaining about a pound a day. Good thing that we only had a couple more weeks in the states! From there we scooted down the coast to check the house in Santa Barbara, and visit more good friends and eat more delicious food. It is so great to touch base with everyone. We especially wanted to visit a family that we had not seen for several years. Just as we were leaving for our first two years of cruising, they had moved to Canada. We spent a fun day and night with them o. The kids really had a good time getting to know each other again and playing games. We had a great visit with the grown-ups too. We are winding down on our time and things are getting a bit frantic to get everything taken care of that needs doing. We still have lots more people that we want to visit too. Yikes, how can we possibly get everything done? We spent one night here, the next night there, breakfast with one friend, lunch with another, and dinner still somewhere else. It was crazy, but we did it. We saw so many close friends and family along the way. The kids spent the last week in Arizona with their Oma, aunts, uncles and cousins o. They had a fun time there, and flying back and forth with their aunt and grandma. Nancy was crazy on the phone and computer trying to finish up all the loose ends. Both Mike and Nancy again drove around to boat stores getting all of the last parts. Also, lots of stops at other stores for supplies that were on our list. Just imagine doing a whole years shopping in a few days. We had planned a night with Mike's high school buddies o, and the wives all had a lot of fun watching the guys get crazy. The kids had a fun last night pizza party and sleep over at Grandma's house o. Finally, the last day, we got up early, as we still had two more visits on the way to the airport. Even at the airport we arranged to meet up with a cousin of Nancy's (that she had not seen in 26 years) that was on her way to Australia!
Our flights back to Ecuador were uneventful except for an additional delay after a ten hour layover! After a repeat of our time in Bogota, (moving to different rooms every hour, for ten hours), we were finally in our waiting area for our flight. We saw the flight attendants board, we saw the pilots board. We began to gather our belongings and get ready to board as there were only about 15 more minutes until we were supposed to take off. We looked up, and saw the pilots come off the plane with their bags, followed by the flight attendants. Oh, oh... sure enough, the announcement came that the flight was delayed and we needed to wait for another plane to be brought in. Really, they did all of this pretty darn quickly. Within an hour, the original plane had been towed away and another plane was at the gate and we were boarding. We landed about an hour late, which made us miss the bus that we were planning on catching. We had decided that we did not want to spend the night in the city, we did not care what time of night we got in, we just wanted to get home! We taxied to the bus station from the airport with all of our bags (8 in all) plus carry-ons. There is a market in the bus station, so while we waited for the next bus, Nancy and Dana went grocery shopping so that we would have some fresh food for our first day home. We just got the basics, just enough to get by. It is amazing what you can make if you just have a couple of onions, carrots, bread and eggs! We arrived home by about 2:00am. We made our way back out to the boat and were greeted by some pretty happy animals and one dirty boat. We spent a few minutes cleaning up a months worth of animal hair from the floor and crawled into bed exhausted and happy to be home. It was so nice the next morning to wake up in our own beds instead of a hotel with a six hour drive still ahead of us. The next couple of days were spent thoroughly cleaning the boat, scrubbing down the floors and wiping all the walls to get any mold off that might have started to grow in our absence. Hopper also had a bath. Then we had to unpack all of our bags and find spots to put everything. Stowing is quite a job and an art on a boat. There is a place for everything and everything in it's place. Mike is often heard proclaiming that there is no way that something will fit, but Nancy somehow finds a way. Mike and Nancy went to the town markets and restocked the boat with food. This involves going to several different stores and shops. The bakery for whole wheat rolls, the big central market for all of our veggies, a few small stores that have certain things that we use, and than a larger market where we get our meat, canned goods and dry goods. It is a few hour affair and we have to carry everything along the way. We are pretty exhausted by the time it is all done and then we get back to the boat and still have to stow everything, another lengthy ordeal. Anyway, it was nice to get back and get everything cleaned up and stocked up. The next day we started this years school work o. We only did a half day the first day, just to break into it slowly. Our favorite thing to do at the end of the day is to have a nice dinner and then kick back and watch a DVD. Many nights, Gilligan's Island is the pick. The kids love it. Another ongoing project is cleaning out different compartments on board. We are cleaning out everything in the boat before we take off again at the end of October. This week we started on the kids room and cleaned out all of the games and Fletcher's toys. We lightened up a bit, but mostly it was a good reminder of how many games we have and that we need to play them!
Now, we began to get back into the swing of local life. One of the other cruisers was tuned into a worldwide day of celebration called, "Talk Like a Pirate Day". We all met at a local restaurant and dressed up a bit (some more than others) o. It was just a good excuse to all get together. Saturday, is the big market day here. It is pretty crazy, but fun. Everyone and everything is there. Usually, we avoid the Saturday market, but since we were just back, we still needed to stock up, and in we went. It is always a bit overwhelming. We ran into friends and ended up getting a ride back in the back of a pickup. It was nice to not cram onto the bus. Another project we did was to go through all of our navigational charts and categorize and list them. We are working on getting a chart of the Galapagos. We went to buy one in the states, but it was $56 for one chart. We opted not to buy one new, but are hoping to get one from another cruiser. One day a group of the cruiser gals took a field trip up to an organic farm. We stopped and had lunch along the way and it was really fun to have a girls day out. We toured the perma-culture farm and bought a whole passel of veggies and herbs. It was a very fun day. Nancy got home pretty late and still had to shower and cook dinner. Somehow, we still managed to fit in a movie before bed. Another day this week, Nancy and a friend went to a city a couple of hours away to take care of some shopping. What we did not know was that it was a local holiday and a lot of the places that we had wanted to go to were closed. Who knew...? Nancy did manage to get a whole bunch of Christmas shopping done. We will not be in places to do any shopping before Christmas. We will be lucky to get to Mexico in time, but we need to have everything ready just in case we come in on Christmas Eve, or even are still out at sea for Christmas. We are also trying to follow up on some things from when we were up in the states. Many days, in the afternoon, we go to shore and try to work on email and phone calls. The connection is often a bit sketchy and it is very slow and frustrating compared to what we are used to in the states. We also realized that we are way behind on applying for our permit for the Galapagos. The trip to the states had us totally focused and we did not realize that you are supposed to apply well in advance for the permit to cruise around the islands in the Galapagos. Otherwise, you can go there, but, you must stay in one anchorage and then take other boats to go to other islands. We are still hoping to be able to get this permit and are jumping through as many hoops as we can.
Mike has been working hard to install all of the parts that we bought in the states and getting systems up and running to go out sailing again. As soon as he thinks that he has solved one problem, another one pops up. One of the latest ones is that he had to pull the engine and transmission o. Not a small job, especially in a very confined space. He had to come up with several ingenious solutions as to how to accomplish this. With winches (not wenches) and the kids help, the job got done. What an accomplishment. Another day, Mike and Nancy went to another nearby city to get parts for the boat fabricated. Another long day, but we got a lot done. Dana has been beading about once a week and having fun doing that. Fletcher has a kite that he likes to go up and fly in the field. We decided that we all needed a day off and headed up to our favorite little beach town for the day. Some other cruisers are house-sitting up there and we went to visit them. Fletcher had bought a new surfboard and was excited to try it out o. We had a nice relaxing day, hanging on the beach, eating lunch in town, and visiting with friends. The next day was back to school, and Mike went up the mast to install new rigging. Again, the project would take all of us helping at times, but it gave us a break from school.
Please click to enlarge!
Dana had a great time with her old friend, Revie.
We spent time with some old friends.
The kids flew off to Arizona to spend time with family there, hanging out, bowling with Oma, and celebrating an engagement.
And, Mike had fun with his high school buddies!
The kids had a final pizza party and sleep over at Grandma's.
Back on board, Nancy and the kids got started on the next years school work, pirate day, Mike spent lots of time in the engine room, Fletcher's new surf board, day at the beach.