Monday, January 19, 2015

Skiing in Aspen/Snowmass


We came back to Colorado to celebrate Mike's dad Al's 80th birthday by skiing 4 days in lovely Aspen and Snowmass, CO.  What a fun time we all had!

We spent 5 nights and 6 days enjoying Aspen/Snowmass.  We stayed in the Woodbridge Condominiums which were right on the bus line and beautfully furnished, 2 bedroom, 2 bath with a loft accomodations. We were welcomed by this beautiful sunset!

Mike and I packed food, wine and coffee for our stay and made a big breakfast every morning to fuel our skiing. We also had Trader Joes snacks for apres skiing.

We skied all 4 days and the 3rd day did 90% bump runs, which was not the plan laid out for me by Mike, my physical therapist.   He suggested every other run be easy/challenging.  I paid the price for my indulging on the fourth day; I was pretty done after 6 runs.  Thankfully, everyone was done between being tired and the snow not being great.  All in all, we enjoyed challenging each other and playing together.  Al impresed me with his skiing and inspired me to be skiing in Aspen on my 80th!  I'm not sure I can top skiing with 2 knee replacements. Go Al!

We felt blessed for having the oppoortunity to bond over skiing on bluebird days.  

Here are some great shots from the week.

Mike and I both had also gotten 4-packs for Winter Park/Mary Jane and were able to get up there and ski 3 times.  We actually had 2 really great days where everything on the mountain had decent snow.  We skied more bumps, of course, and I worked on increasing my speed and precision.  I love the duality of snow and sun!  

We were able to see our close friends and reconnect while we were in Denver, reminding us how blessed we truly are. 

 First Mate Kate

Sunday, January 11, 2015

La Cruz, MX

We continue to have a great time in La Cruz.  We said goodbye to Nancy and Rob on Shindig as they headed back to the U.S. We are thankful that they reserved their last night in La Cruz for a while to dine with us!

One aspect of being on mainland Mexico that I forgot about is being awakened by this little guy. Or one of his compadres.  The problem is, they don't tell time very well.  Sometimes they start calling at 4:30 in the am and as late as 4 pm.  I think they are dipping into the tequila.  Could someone please tell them that once is enough and if they could wait until the sun actually comes up that would be really swell. It got to the point that I started translating their rooster phrases into English.  At first, it was sweet, like "Happy New Year".  Then, "Get your suit on" (as I liked to go paddling first thing in the am) but regressed to "Put some pants on" and "I'm annoying".

Nancy showed me all the important places in La Cruz before she left, so we headed out this am to eat breakfast at Gecko Rojo, the best place to get fast wifi.  They also happen to have really good food, so this became our routine for the rest of the week.

We made a pact to go out every night to meet new people and have a real taste of La Cruz.  So, that is what we did.

Our first night we went back to Gecko Rojo and saw a really fun band called Volksjammin (or something like that).  The lead guitarist was Eddie VanHalen impressive!  People were dancing and even some of the dogs got in the act.
Volksjammin jammin away
Pam and Henry dancing the night away

We would have eaten every night at La Silla Roja every night, but Mike decided pizza sounded good for our last night in La Cruz.

This little restaurant made the best quesadillas!!

La Silla Roja

We walked to Charlie's place for our last dinner out for really good pizza and some football watching with fellow cruisers.  Then, of course, back to Gecko Rojo for more live music!  We ran into this lady walking her daschunds on the way.  We also ran into a little boy walking home with the catch of the day.  Nice catch!

Momma with 4 puppies!  So sweet

Eventually I will have a dog again

Local boy with red snapper he caught!

La Cruz has a really large farmer's market every Sunday that we look forward to attending when we return.  Lots of local fruits, vegetables, wares, meats, fish, etc.  There is also a daily fish market.  We are really fortunate!  We paddled on our SUPs every day.  The anchorage is a great place to go, especially in the morning when the sea turtles and rays swim around you.  

La Cruz Anchorage

Mike Paddling

Pangaea happily on Dock 4

Mike and Kate enjoying a margarita on the beach

We will see you soon, La Cruz!

Hasta Pronto!

First Mate Kate

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chacala to La Cruz

It was definitely bittersweet leaving Chacala.  We had such a fun day here and felt proud of ourselves for surfing, or at least attempting to surf.  Ha!  That being said, the night was a rolly one and we were happy to get on with our trip to Punta de Mita.  It was only a day sail to our anchorage.  However, we did have a weird wind event happen on the way there.  We were motor sailing when all of a sudden we had wind!  First about 8 knots, so we rolled out the jib.  Then 12 knots and quickly we were in 18-20 knots wondering if we needed to reef.  It was really fun!  30 minutes later the wind died as quickly as it came up and we were motor sailing again.

We were lucky to see a few humpback sprays as we entered Bandaras Bay.  It is a breading hotspot for humpbacks, one of the reasons we love coming here so much!  This is where it all began for us.  We bought Pangaea in Puerto Vallarta in April of 2009 and this is our first time back here since we sailed to the Baja side back in 2012.

We anchored at Punta de Mita and took a swim.  It was warm and we needed a cooling off.  That evening we made dinner and went to bed early.  It was a full day.

The next morning we paddled around the anchorage and did some mid-anchorage breaker surfing.  Not quite as easy with all the rocks in the surf.

Around noon we headed to La Cruz where our friends Nancy and Rob were awaiting our arrival.  The greeted us on the radio and then helped us with our lines for docking.  That night we dined together at Frascatti's at the marina.  It was a beautiful evening with good friends and a gorgeous sunset.

We are happy to be back !

First Mate Kate

Sunday, January 4, 2015



San Blas-Chacala

Miles traveled- 39

Palapas line the shore of Chacala
We got up a little late this am as we forgot to set our alarm.  However, we were able to check in with the Sonrisa net.  It was a bad propagation day for the hams; we all had difficulty hearing each other.

We read in our grib files that today was going to be a good wind day for sailing.  So far, no wind.

We had a couple of dolphins come for a quick visit and saw 3 humpbacks putting on a show for a few whale tour boats in the distance.

We made it to Chacala, and it's a really pretty anchorage.  The shores are lined with gorgeous homes and the beach is peppered with colorful umbrellas and thatch-roof palapas.  Time for our anchor down cerveza!

It is going to be a rolly night.  On the bright side, we may get some surfing in!

 We anchored and got organized.  I made some chocolate chip cookies for the port captain and banana chocolate chip bread (I was inspired by the muffins we had in Mantanchen) for us,  and we got on our boards and paddled over to his office.  Closed.  So, we paddled to shore...and surfed.  Accidentally.  Well, not exactly, but we were fully clothed and had our iPads in the backpack with all of our boat documents.  I surfed all the way in but fell on my knees at the very end which dug the front of my board into the sand and resulted in me butt down in the surf.  Mike fell on his arse but managed not to soak the backpack.  Phew.  Always good for entertainment value, I say! 

 As we walked our boards to the palapa I fell in one of two holes someone had dug that I didn't see because the board was in the way.   Again, good entertainment value. After checking all 707 emails I had since Monday and deleting at least half of them, we enjoyed a cold beverage, some guac and fish tacos.

Mike decided we needed to give surfing another shot, this time in swimming suits and no boat documents or electronics. So, we did!  We took the beginners approach, on our knees.  I did pretty well on the first wave; I made it all the way into shore.  Mike had fun getting flipped and almost lost his sunglasses.  I came to his rescue.  Five rides later and we had each been pummeled a time or two.  I also inhaled a good share of seawater when a wave broke in my face.  On one ride I dipped my board a little sideways and landed so hard on my left sit-bone that I think I realigned some of what I threw out when I fell running last March.  My back is cracking a lot less!  By the way, at my last visit before heading down to Mexico I asked my physical therapist what I should/shouldn't do.  He said I could do anything. I figured surfing was better than some things. Especially running.  

Pangaea and the sunset

We paddled around the anchorage as the sun went down and met Richard on Sarita and Dan and Ashley on Coyote.  We may be seeing more of both boats on our trip south.  

It was the most beautiful sunset of all the nights on this trip.

It just got prettier as the sun set.

Happy after a day of surfing on our SUPs

 Time for a shower, some Advil and a movie.

Buenas Noches,

First Mate Kate

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Isla Islitas, Mantanchén and San Blas


Touring Mantanchen/ Las Islitas and San Blas

We slept in a bit and after checking in with our family decided we'd better get going on our exploration day.  We headed into the playa called Las Islitas and locked up the dinghy.  We weren't exactly sure where we were going except that we were heading up the road.  Our mission was to take a panga Jungle Tour up in Mantanchen.  A mile or so up the road we found it, and bought our boletas for the tour.
Ready for our adventure

 Each panga held 10 people, so we joined a big group and shared their boat.  The guy sitting in front of us had a Denver Broncos hat on.  Imagine that.  After the first part of our trip of seeing crocodiles (crocodillos), turtles (tortugas) an owl, osprey and a white and blue heron, we got off the boat and walked around a little mini zoo.  It was then that we discovered our Broncos fan actually lived in Denver.  Thornton, to be exact.  He and his wife were from Mexico and were with their family celebrating their 25th Anniversary.  Another couple with us was celebrating their 40th.   We spoke with them mostly in Spanish, until we realized the wife spoke English.

Broncos fans in front of us (see the Broncos hat?)

The tour was fun!  We are not sure whether we enjoyed the scenery or the people on our boat more.  Mexicans are so much fun!  They are happy, gregarious, loquacious and carefree.  Every time the boat rocked or the tour guide commented on a crocodile and reminded us to keep our hands in the boat we heard cheers!  They all recorded the experience on their phones or iPads.  They accepted us and welcomed us into their lives for an hour or so and we were happy to be sharing in it.

Private huts on the Jungle Tour

Hungry Crocodile
Large Crocodile

Our Blue Heron found us!

We walked back to the beach after the tour to find a taxi so we could explore San Blas.  On the way back, we stopped at a little stand selling pan de platanos (banana bread).  We bought a couple banana chocolate chip muffins for lunch.  Yummy!!

We found a taxi and went into town.  We drove back through Mantanchen and our driver took us to the Zocolo or center of town where we took off exploring.  It was a traditional Mexican town...the Zocolo, with a big church off the square, surrounded by mercados of fruit, flowers, fish/seafood, clothing and other wares.  We wanted to see the old fort, but it was up on the cliffs overlooking the city and not within walking distance.

A quick taxi ride brought us back to Mantanchen where we walked back down to Las Islitas.  There we decided to stop at a palapa and enjoy a cold cerveza, coconut water (out of the coconut!) and a yummy grilled fish called  Pescado Sarandeado.  Of course, sitting at a palapa also proves for very good people watching.  We enjoyed watching ninas and ninos building sand castles, people selling food and jewelry and the lifeguards in full naval uniforms.  We were wondering if they had swimming suits on under the uniforms or if they would jump in fully dressed if they needed to perform a rescue.  Fortunately, we never got an answer to our question.

Fiah on the grill and coconuts for Agua de Coco

Gotta love the Pirate and Pirate Queen art

Naval Lifeguards

Coconut water....the way it was meant to be enjoyed!
Mike enjoying Agua de Coco

We took the dinghy back to the boat and did a little sunset paddle and swim.  After hot showers we made homemade chicken noodle soup and watched a little more Big Bang Theory.

An excellent day!

First Mate Kate

Friday, January 2, 2015

Isla Isabel to San Blas


Isla Isabel - San Blas 39 nm

We are on our way to San Blas and we have already seen 2 humpbacks breaching out in the distance.

We definitely need more comfortable cockpit cushions. My butt is sore!!

I did a little singing this am...Mozart, Puccini, Faure..and had a little audience of boobies occasionally.  They circled the boat a few times and then flew off, probably looking for fish, but it was nice that they were there.

While I was singing I noticed another humpback show.  It was literally whale tail after whale tail for about 10 minutes. There was a shrimp boat nearby.  I hope they noticed the entertainment they were being delivered. :)

Our friend Wendy on Willow reminds me that if you are not seeing marine life then you are not looking!  You have to look to see.  Well, thank you, Wendy, for reminding me to always look.

We had a relatively uneventful sail here, other than I probably drove Mike crazy with all my singing.  He probably thinks he married the female version of Adam Sandler.  I probably did miss my calling with Sesame Street.  Ha!

We had our anchor down beer and enjoyed the sea breeezes.  It's great to be on mainland Mexico!!  From now on, coastal cruising until we head back to La Paz.  Steve and Kathy and their kids Kevin and Sidney stopped by in their dinghy to say hello.  They are on m/v Adagio.  I like the name of their boat!

Beautiful sunset at Mantanchen

We decided to inflate our dinghy and get her ready to go for a trip into San Blas in the morning.

The evening ended with a few episodes of Big Bang Theory.

Hasta Pronto,

First Mate Kate

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Isla Isabel


What a beautiful start we have to 2015 here at Isla Isabel.  Isla Isabel is actually coined "The Little Galapagos" because it is a volcanic island in the Pacific and it has a protected environment for the seabird population. There is also an impressive iguana population.  Research is conducted on the island in a center built by the Jacques Cousteau Foundation on the birds, reptiles and of course marine life. 
Isla Isabel

The beach in our anchorage

Looking at the south anchorage

We paddled to shore this morning after a tamale breakfast to hike around the island.  The entire beach was full of boobies!!  Not the kind that Mike could cheer about...these were seabirds! The blue footed boobie is a seabird I have been wanting to see for a long time.  They are cool looking birds.  They have a striped head and really blue eyes, a big white belly and, of course, blue feet.  Their big blue feet make for an awkward walk, reminiscent of walking with fins on my feet.

Blue Footed Boobie

We saw and photographed blue footed boobies, frigates and brown boobies, as well as iguanas. The hike took us through a research facility built by the Jacques Cousteau Foundation and a fish camp along the shore.  We hiked to the top of the cliffs on the other side of the island and came upon a rookery for the frigates and the boobies.  I felt a little odd walking around the birds on their nests and the mommas with their babies, but they seemed willing to let us into their world without it disturbing them.  The chirp that the boobies make reminds me of air mattress being deflated.  Kind of funny.

Brown Boobie with new chick
Brown Boobie daddy sits on 2 eggs
Male Frigate

Sunning Iguana
Crate of Iguanas

On the return back to the beach we saw the spray of a couple of whales right off the anchorage.  They were humpbacks!  This has to be a sign of good luck!  First dolphins, now whales!!  Yippee!!

When we got to our boards I noticed mine was no longer inflated.  Yep, the Waterman blew a seam again. Mike took his board to the boat to get my snorkel gear and swimsuit.  As he was paddling back, Mark from Three Hour Tour came to shore with his wife Birgit and their daughter Kris and offered to drop me and the board back to Pangaea.  What a nice guy!
Waiting to be rescued

Seam blew, again.  Waterman Boards

Mike on his way back to Pangaea

 I made a light lunch of salmon salad and crackers from the farmers market while Mike repaired my paddle board.  We had another humpback show while we ate and then went snorkeling along the rocks/reefs in the anchorage.  

The snorkeling was pretty good.  The water was really clear and warm and we saw a lot of fish.  We even saw a large spotted ray. We had a long way to swim but it was fun!  I thought I had a picture of the ray. Darn presbyopia!  Time to get bifocal contacts or a prescription mask.  

When we got back we decided to move the boat, as while snorkeling we dove the anchor and it was on a rocky bed, not good for holding. (Mike dove the anchor and put out a marker where the sandy bottom began for reference). While we were moving the boat, three more humpbacks showed us their tails.  This spot is amazing!

I made a Thai curry for dinner with broccoli, asparagus, a red pepper, beet pasta, fresh basil and ginger and an organic chicken we pressure cooked before we left (all from the farmers market).  I love cooking with fresh veggies, meat and herbs and coconut oil and coconut milk!

The evening wound down with a little Homeland.

Hasta la mañana!

First Mate Kate