Fork In The Road

Life can be way more fun when you occasionally allow things to happen to you rather than let plans dictate what you are doing or where you are going tomorrow. That is why when our good friends in San Diego – ones we met on Cubar 2015 – asked us to crew for them for Cubar 2019… we couldn’t really say no.

Our Nordhavn 50 Northern Ranger II is waiting for us in La Paz, and we are heading south in the Little Red Truck yet again. This summer was not the fun-filled travel fest of last year, but we accomplished lots (cleaned out the garage to the point we could park the old Princecraft, the Mini Cooper , the ride-on lawn mower, and a few dinghies. Success!)

there is a lot of stuff to get rid of… slowly but surely
We also attended the 4th annual Seaforth Cubarista reunion on Vancouver island with Ken and Christy Donnelly… managed to convince the other Canadians, the two-T Talbott’s of Piredmus fame… (technically three t’s but the first t is silent. Not! ) to fly across and join us, and a very jolly time was had by all!

the Cubarista gang at Seaforth….in between rabid games of croquet and frantic efforts to learn pickleball
We decided to leave a bit early for La Paz as we are coming back to Canada at the end of November- earlier than usual – so plans were made and we left the soon-to-be frozen north and headed south in late September.

Best part of the trip is always the visits – family in the lower mainland, and then our Boat Buddies on the way through the States. (I wonder what a gang of land based Nordhavn owners and their friends is called…. I should ask Alexa…. Shanafelt, not the Amazon bee-hatch who called me rude once. ) ( after all if you can have Noodles and Noggles… maybe a group of Nordhavn owners on land should be called a Boggle…)

Anyway so after some very fun evenings and days with Christopher (Colibri) in Bend,

Christopher and Lawrence looking rugged after our little hike along the Deschutes..beautiful part of the world!
Ron and Nancy (Duet) and Stan and Diane ( Crossroads) in Alpine Village…

dinner at the Goldbergs… great evening with Stan and Diane
– we headed to San Diego to spend time with the Donnelly’s, which is a very handy place from which to order spare parts and such before we head across to Mexico. Actually so is Bend. We are shameless.

It’s also just a great place to spend a few weeks – Cubar is on this year and Christy is involved with planning and organizing the training weekend…. it didn’t take long for them to invite us to the training weekend and ask us to join them on the trip. Weeee!

dinner on the lanai… never gets boring
It means coming back after a very short time on our boat, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to cruise with them on Varnebank. She is an amazing vessel and I am excited to be part of her entourage… she has a pretty interesting history, starting life out as a Dutch fishing vessel in the North Sea. How she ended up in San Diego is another story, and deserves its own blog…or book. Maybe next time! But I do remember the first time we saw her as we came into Ensenada for the start of Cubar 2015…. all I wanted was to get an invite to come aboard and get the grand tour…funny how things work out!

she is a beautiful vessel and I can hardly wait to cruise on her!
The flying back is not such a big deal as we can fly out of la Paz directly to Tijuana and cross the bridge into California. San Diego is not that far away…

So that’s it. The fork in the road…. a new adventure!

I am loosely in charge of feeding us, so I spent my time experimenting with new dishes ( no mushrooms.check….not too spicy.check…heavy on chicken and fish.check check) and prepping some overnight meals.

although I don’t eat lamb anymore I decided to try making some osso bucco… not sure I want to attempt it at sea but it sure was a hit on land!
I am also “in charge” of fishing so I had to dig out their gear and see what else we needed. That’s the most exciting part! Except I have to step into some big shoes… during Cubar 2017 their crew member Matt had some amazing luck. Fingers crossed I can get some fishy good karma and bring in the big one!

Because we happened to be in town around the time it was happening, we decided to attend the first annual Nordhavn Film Festival. It sounded like fun and was also a good chance to hang out with other Nordhavn friends, a group of whom are doing their own Baja rally, the Taco Run. We booked a hotel in Dana Point, put on our best clothes, and limo’ed over to the party. And what a party! PAE really outdid themselves, from the red carpet and paparazzi to the endless wine and great food… and the videos were a lot of fun to watch!

we clean up good!
our hosts on Varnebank Ken and Christy, past Cubarista Eric from Sprezaturra who made it all the way around to New York on his 40 and flew back just for this event! And of course the ever-elegant Lugger Bob
Makes me think there is not a chance I would try to compete… but it would be fun to at least make an effort to put something together. The written word is more my forte. I will probably stick to that!

And then it was time to head south, continue the overland journey down Baja to Pa Paz and Costa Baja.

We crossed over into Mexico at Tecate, easy peasy and we got the green light… filled out our paperwork and headed to Ensenada. We have stopped there for the past few years as we had Northern Ranger I at Cruiseport, but with her sold we decided to overnight at Hotel Coral. Lovely hotel, great jalapeo margaritas and nice rooms.

sand dunes and desert
The next day was a long one, to Guerrero Negro with a quick stop in Vicente Guerrero for breakfast. We are nothing if not creatures of habit! Stayed at our usual Malarimo , where the rooms are decent (read: no bugs and the plumbing works) and the food is good. And cheap.

breakfast at Malarimo… stickers on the walls from all the racers who come through town for the Baja 500 and 1000..always fun to be around when that’s going on!
why we don’t drive at night
Next day took us to Puerto Escondido, as our favourite hotel in Loreto was fully booked so we decided to stay at Tripui. We have had lots of meals there but never stayed overnight.

Driving through the desert is hot work, especially with no air conditioning… the sight of that pool at the hotel, surrounded by flowers, and lounge chairs, and butterflies, was enough to have me in my bathing suit and into the water in about two minutes flat.

what’s not to love
OK no more butterflies but honestly, they were everywhere!
As usual food was great, sunset was astonishing, and sleep came quickly. This place is gorgeous, and after the hurricane several years ago did so much damage, they have worked hard to bring it back. It is a wonderful oasis set at the foot of a beautiful mountain range on the edge of the stunning Sea.

Sierra Gigantica in the background, it’s a magnificent sight sunrise and sunset
pretty place to spend an evening
The only downside to Tripui was the tiny ants that decided to hitch a ride in the truck.. they managed to infiltrate on Lawrence’s side by the hundreds…. and got into the bags and such in the back seats..we had to de-ant before we brought things aboard!)

Next leg got us safely to La Paz…

Every day we travelled through dry dead desert, long endless stretches of (newly repaired!Hoorah!) “highways”, then green cactus forests, and up over steep windy mountain roads, with volcanoes and arroyos and oasis’.. it is always a beautiful drive.

the roads are definitely better, thanks to these guys
Concepcion… it’s always breathtakingly beautiful but I was on the wrong side to take a decent picture
Of course we had to stop for fish tacos at our favourite truck stop… we always get The Look (double take as two pasty pale gringoes saunter in) but they are also always friendly and serve us great tacos…

good fish tacos but they forgot my avocado..Lawrence had camarones, and he traded with me…delicious!
The trip is never dull – but my favourite part is coming down and around the corner and spotting La Paz in the distance. They had a storm pass through recently and street sweepers, both machine and man, were busy cleaning the dried mud off the streets. For the first time we actually saw measuring sticks at the arroyos…. must have been some downpour!

And then we were “home”.

I realized it was just over a year ago I said that, and I marvel at how fast time has flown. Marvel, and shudder. Way too fast! I guess that’s what being well into the wrong side of 60 does to you. This is probably why we love hearing about people who throw caution to the wind, sell everything, and take off. Obviously we haven’t sold EVERYTHING, we still have a house to go back to….we aren’t quite THAT adventurous!

So here we are at Costa Baja – our first order of business, after an hour or two of turning things on and inspecting every corner for bugs, water, and unwholesome smells, was to climb back into our bathing suits and head to the pool. On the way we notice that things are changing yet again. My plans to do a little provisioning in the tienda at the head of the dock are kiboshed by the fact that the little store is empty and they seem to be working on renos or demos, we aren’t sure which. Dinner at la Barca, the Italian restaurant, is also out of the question as it too is stripped of everything and locked up tight. Looks like dinner is sushi or Azul, both of which are acceptable ….

However while we are swimming we hear from N46 Salish Aire, Clarise and Norman, who ask us to meet them in town at a different restaurant, one neither of us has tried. They ride their bikes there and after changing into civilized clothes we drive.

So our first night at the boat saw us having an amazing meal with Nordhavn friends ( who did incidentally sell everything and take off for the wild wet blue yonder) at a beautiful restaurant in downtown La Paz, Costa Brava, discussing past adventures and further plans. I sense a parting of ways as they decide to find cooler cruising grounds, but as always boats and people may drift apart ( or more correctly cruise apart) but the friendships always remain.

dinner with Clarise and Norman, N46 Salish Aire owners and adventurers
Now today we are back at it… at least Lawrence is. Back laz has been cleared out enough to allow the thru-hulls for the a/c to be opened, so we can turn them on and beat the heat later in the day. As usual more issues come to light (sea chest that won’t open up…. repair or replace? Future consideration) alongside the known issues – hot water heater valve… will it or won’t it leak – dinghy steering issues, which required as usual a bigger hammer but was finally wrestled into submission…

hot work on the top deck, thoughts of a swim and a cervesa keep him going!
and water filters, did we bring the right ones? Not to mention a drive into town for a provisioning trip.

So I find little jobs I can do while the big guy tackles the big jobs… of course as soon as I decide that an appropriate job would be to inspect the inflatable life vests and replace the little bobbins, himself has to micromanage. However he did give good advice and then left me to my own devices. Next – replace the Mexican courtesy flag. I had noticed our neighbour’s was tatty and had tsk tsk’ed until I realized ours was just as bad. Not good protocol and downright rude! Luckily we had a spare, which I hastily put on. Now I need to figure out what to do with the old one. Seems disrespectful to shove it in the trash, maybe I will use it in a future sewing project!

Speaking of which I had to clear out my sewing cupboard – out with the old and in with the new. Not sure how much sewing I will get done but I have some projects in mind and need space to store them, so back to the little red truck the old fabrics go. Handy to have an alternate storage space for such things!

My other task is to put together my recipe book for the Cubar trip. I know I can look online and store recipes on my iPad but when I’m at sea I like the reliability of a three ring binder ( never runs out of power or needs wifi). Besides, I can tell the good ones by the stains on the paper! Now that’s done, I can make a tentative “over and above” shopping list. There are lots of staples on the boat but it’s good to have the extra stuff to make special recipes. Christy, for example, always has chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding mix and Kahlua and maybe even chocolate chips, because you never know when one of her famous chocolate cakes might need baking.

With any luck at all.

I’m not sure what I need, over and above the staples. Coconut milk for a killer curry…. prawns for a Peruvian favourite of mine…causa….. let’s hope the weather is conducive to some fun in the galley! And maybe some fish will come aboard that I can experiment with.

Meanwhile back in the master stateroom… something is lurking – or is that leaking – under the bed. Again. Although it’s not as dramatic as last year … Still, looks as though we will be taking a fitting back to San Diego with us when we go, and putting up with an annoying little leak until then. Bummer. Boaters don’t like it when things leak. Water belongs either outside, in nice sealed water lines and tanks, or in your glass in the form of ice.

Also… Lawrence pulled out the anode… magnesium not zinc, wonder why? Something to do with fresh water is my guess… anyway, the difference between the used anode and the new one is quite astounding. One can see why they are necessary! I know all about zincs on the outside but didn’t know about this one! Makes sense, as you don’t want the inside of your hot water heater to get rusty. And obviously this thing is doing its job!

So we are here. Not for long, and I feel an urge to just say chuck it and let’s go to the islands right now..and maybe we will. But stuff needs doing, or at least the important stuff…

and I am more than excited to do another cruise down the Baja coast on a different vessel, with friends, and alongside new friends on their boats… so there is that to look forward to.

A very fortuitous fork in the road, indeed!

sunset at Costa Baja… no bad days!