I’ve Got Hose In Different Area Codes

Sunday April 29, 2012

After an incredibly frustrating day on Friday of making my way all the way out to the boat to not be able to do any work because the winds were just too high, I was in for vengeance today.  I checked the wind on Saturday where it showed nothing over 5 mph and then looked again this morning where it had gone up to 9-10 mph, but I’ll be damned if there was going to be anything to stop me today.  After checking the shore power agian to see if it was up and running and finding out it was not I began pulling extension cords out of the car and ran one to the slips on the other side of the marina where they did have working power.  Since it was a decently nice day out and it was  getting closer to Memorial Day weekend which everyone hopes to have their boat in the water by, the marina was getting crowded on this Sunday and all you could see were orange extension cords running through the boat yard.  After getting all my supplies underneath the boat I began to unroll the tarps and grabbed my Gorilla tape to get to work.  Wind had shifted to the Northeast today where our boat has the most exposure and I stupidly started taping on the starboard side where I always do as the wind is normally coming from the northwest and hitting this side which then makes the other tarps easier to get on.  I didn’t even have the first tarp fully taped when Matt realized the trouble I was about to get into and immediately released the anchor chain and started to put it on the bottom of the tarp to keep it in place.  He then helped by holding the tarp up while I taped, but by this point I was now on the Port side where the wind was hitting and automatically pressing it against the boat for me and helping block it from the other side.  Once I had everything taped I went to pull out the new clothes pins I had bought over the weekend, sturdier plastic ones, although whatever angle the wind was coming in at today still wanted to bust them off.  That’s ok, I had a back up plan.  In addition to the clothes pins I had purchased elastic (bed) sheet stays and after clipping them onto the overlapping parts of the tarp that baby was not going anywhere.

Since the tarp was blowing itself directly into the area I had been working on last time (4 weeks ago!!) I had no option but to start somewhere else.  Looking at the bow it was the only area on the Port side where I didn’t think I might get sufficated so I neatly set my blue tarp that keeps dust from falling onto bare ground under that area and brought my tools over.  The vaccum was a little harder to move becauser of the size.  Since it was all the way at the stern and I was trying to find the best way to bring it up, over, or around the cradle and get it to the bow.  I was finally able to get the large thing lugged over to the bow and then spent about another five minutes getting the hose untangled and brought over.  Soon everything was connected and plugged in and I could get to work.  The moment I had brought the sander up to the hull my arms had a slight ache and I freaked out thinking that I physically wouldn’t get anything accomplished this day.  After 60 seconds or so that feeling went away and I was happy to keep sanding along.  I’d do rows in three sections, the first where I’d stand on the ground going left to right sanding off an area about six to eight inches wide.  Then when the sander would start getting to eye level I’d get on the first step of my step ladder and keep working until I was again at eye level with my sander and then I’d move up to the top step and finsih the work going up to the water line.  And since 80% of the time I was holding the sander right in front of my body my arms would not get as tired and I wouldn’t have to take my long breaks to rest my arms.  I did however have to stop at least once, usually when I was on the first step of the ladder to wipe off my goggles since there was so much dust I couldn’t even see what I was doing.  After I had gotten up to the water line I would detach the hose from the sander and run it up and down the hull sucking up all the dust that had settled on it.  It was a nice little break from sanding, but it was surprising to see how much dust was building up today.  There seemed to be a lot more then the last time I worked but I just chalked it up to the extension cords taking away some of my power and therefore causing the vaccum that’s attached to the sander to lose some of it’s sucking action.

After even just one hour of working I was very pleased with my results feeling like I was getting a lot done.  Once I stepped back to take a look (as far back as the tarp would let me) I did notice that the bow can be deceptive to your progress since the closer you get to it the less area there is to sand.  I didn’t let it get me down though and kept working while getting closer and closer to the bow.  Although winds weren’t terrible there would still be a few gusts here and there and since I was working on the same side the wind was blowing there would be times I’d be balancing on the ladder and a strong gust would blow the tarp sharply against my back and shove me right into the hull while I was working.  There were a few times the sander got way too close to my face for comfort but luckily nothing was sanded off my face.  It was a minor inconvienence though the last straw for working in that area came when I was trying to get the very front part of the bow but since I had the tarp taped so tight in that area where it was wrapping around to the other side that it had no give when I’d try and stand on my ladder.  My nose was inches from the surface and there was no way to back up.  Without getting too upset about it I just told myself I’d tape much higher in that area next time to allow myself more room.

At this point I had been working two and a half hours and felt I deserved a lunch break.  Taking my Mt. Dew and what was left of my chicken onion teriayki sub from that morning I walked to the empty docks next to us and dangled my feet over the edge like a little kid while enjoying my food.  There was another couple a few docks down from me that had the same idea but they were smart enough to bring beer.  Those brown bottles in their hand looked better than anything I could have imagined at that moment and I’m going to have to remember to bring one out for myself next week.  Once lunch was finished along with a quick sprawl on the dock to satisfy my aching back I grabbed my goggles and made my way to the bathrooms for a good cleaning.  It was meant to be for the goggles alone but once I saw my reflection n the mirror I decided I needed a good cleaning too.  Washing my face and arms to get them back to a normal color I wiped everything down including my now shiny goggles.  On the way back to Serendip the guy two boats down from me stopped to talk a little as him and his wife were sanding parts of their bottom to get it ready for a new coat of paint as well.  I have to admit that even though I usually go home feeling pretty dirty after a day of work like this I had to look on the bright side because their boat had a bright blue bottom and after working on it his wife was starting to resemble a smurf.

Making my way back under the tarp I decided that instead of working back from the bow I would work on the areas near the stern I had not been able to finish on previous attempts.  First I started on the Starboard side where I had only worked the one day with my little Makita palm sander.  Now with the big Porter Cable in my hands I could really do some damage to the area.  Literally.  I had forgotten that one of the reasons I stopped working is the angles I was coming up on and I would dig too far into the surface.  Foregoing that area and leaving it to Matt (that’s one spot he actually wanted to do himself) I used the unusual strength and energy I was having this day to try and sand the underneath of the hull, something I was too exhausted to do before.  On the Starboard side I didn’t have much trouble lunging one knee forward to bring myself closer to the ground while holding the sander in front of me.  I did a pretty good job of getting most of it but stopped again when there were areas I’d dig to deep.  When I did all I thought I could on that side I moved to Port and worked that area as well, making sure to avoid the areas I knew my Porter Cable couldn’t go.  While my lunging had worked great on one side I was not having as much luck on the other.  My back foot would keep sliding and sliding leaving me almost doing the splits.  Instead of giving up all together I just gave up on standing and knelt on the rocky ground while trying to sand above my head.  It would work for about 20 seconds at a time and then I would have to rest for a few seconds bringing the sander to chest height before trying again.  This method only lasted about 10 minutes before I realized I was becoming completely exerted and wanted to use my energy where I could see a difference.

Moving all my supplies for the third time this day now I dragged the ladder, tarp, vacuum and all it’s hose back over to the bow area.  Just as I was getting all the cords plugged in again Matt stopped down to do a little work of his own.  A few weeks ago he had fiberglassed a new through-hole for the depth/speed sensor and he needed to sand it down.  Happily handing over all my tools I sat on the cradle sipping a new Mt. Dew I just opened, letting my arms and legs recover from the lunging and raising.  Unfortunately he was done in under five minutes but the good news was my energy was still still pushing on and I didn’t mind getting back to work.  It was becoming late afternoon and Matt had mentioned we’d only be there for about two more hours which meant only one more hour of work for me since it takes an hour to clean up (this mess) at night.  Starting to work aft I was able to complete three more six inch sections before my clock said it was time to call it a night.  Now was the time for vacuuming everything.  Vacuum the hull, vacuum the cradle.  Vacuum the tarp and vacuum the vacuum itself.  When Matt was helping me get everything put away for the night he asked if I was having any problems with suction from the hose that day.  I replied there seemed to be more dust than normal and power didn’t seem as strong as I was used to but I chalked it up to using extension cords and not our  shore power cord.  He came back that he’d found a hole in the hose which would have been causing me to lose suction all day.  Damn hose be actin up causing all kinds of problems.

After what felt like forever we had everything cleaned and put away.  I ran off to the bathrooms to change into clean clothes because I looked like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown when I moved.  Every inch of me was covered in dust and even though I had been wearing a mask and goggles all day my face still looked like it was covered in soot and it was very irritated.  I could not wait to get home and in the shower.  Walking back to the car before leaving I looked at the progress.  I was excited by how much I was able to accomplish and proud because I don’t think I was working at a pace far behind Matt.  It’s amazing what you can do in a day with a lot of determination.  And Mountain Dew.  And Adderall.

The List

Wednesday April 18, 2012

So I’m sure some of you might be looking at this site and thinking to yourself, ‘All the stories of their weekends out on the water are fine and dandy, but I know they’re getting ready for a possible circumnavigation and I want to know “What are they doing to get ready?”‘  Well I’m taking a break from our exciting leiserly yachting weekends (because right now I’m posting from September 2011) to get down to the nitty gritty and tell you exactly what we’re doing and what we still need to do to get our boat ready to leave this summer.  With no further ado, here is The List.

* means that it needs to get done before the boat is launched

Anchor Locker and Bow

  • Install new Aqua Signal Series 25 Bow light and DR. LED Bi-color light – done 4/15/12
  • Grease furling gear with Mclube Sailkote dry sail lube
  • Check furling line for wear
  • Mount stainless anchor chain stopper
  • Separate chain from 5/8″ rode and coil the rope on Starboard anchor locker side.  Secure chain with easy to cut lashings
  • Mount padeye on deck for Solent Stay
  • Glass in bulkhead to anchor locker and mount lower padeye for Solent Stay
  • Add protecting grease to windlass motor for corrosion
  • Peen anchor chain Crosby – done 3/18/12


  • Cut down bulkhead for better sleeping position – done 4/1/12
  • Mount photos in v-berth
  • Add half mixture of varnish and teak oil to modified bulkhead
  • Mount fan in v-verth
  • Replace drain hose for sink
  • Secure windlass wiring on starboard side shelf
  • Install LED lights in v-berth lights
  • Mount 12v outlet in v-berth
  • *Grease seacock


  • *Glass in the hole in the hull from the depth gauge
  • Install DC outlet in cabin – done 4/1/12
  • *Install new Airmar V744 depth, temp, and speed transducer
  • Install Raymarine compass to old location above bilge pump – done 4/29/12
  • *Torque keel bolts to 90 ftlbs – done 4/20/12


  • Mount new Raymarine RD418 radar on mast (use old bracket) Wire pull already in mast.  Shorten RJ45 wire to length of mast and install terminal strip for easy stepping of mast
  • Mount new Tri-lens radar reflector on mast above radar
  • Remove streaming light and clean and inspect
  • Install mast tang for Solent Stay
  • Mount Spinlock clutch for jib sheet on mast
  • Inspect rigging
  • Install new forestay, backstay, and cap shrouds when dropping mast for Erie Canal
  • Remove reefing hook from boom
  • Install eye to the boom vang for single line reefing block
  • Make and install mast gate for lowering the sail during reefing
  • Get third reef added to mainsail (currently at North Sail’s sailmaker)


Navigation Station

  • Move Xantrex inverter over 1 1/2″ from Starboard bulkhead to allow more airflow – done 4/20/12
  • Install Raymarine x10 Smartpilot computer behind radio in navigation station (or in head compartment)
  • *Install 4 new Duracell 6-volt batteries purchased from Sam’s Club – done 5/20/12
  • Clean up wiring for wire panel
  • Install bulb in Aqua Signal chart light  (BA 9s bulb)
  • *Disconnect bonding system for all seacocks



  • Heat shrink wire for fan and install outlet in galley port side
  • Insulate refrigeration with slow rise foam – done 10/9/11
  • Sand and polish Marine-tex that filled hole in refrigerator’s liner
  • Install a holder for the cutting board on top of stove
  • Install LED light bulb over stove – done
  • Replace hose for sink drain – done 4/20/12
  • Install Whale foot pump for salt water faucet – done 4/1/12
  • *Grease seacock – done 6/2/12



  • Install 12v outlet in head – done 4/1/12
  • Install fan for locker in head 4/15/12
  • Install fan in head – done 4/1/12
  • Replace hose for sink drain
  • Install new Trident 101 hose for head to holding tank – done 1/15/12
  • *Grease seacock – done 6/2/12



  • Install bushing for alternator slide
  • Plumb cooling lines for heater
  • Install fan and switch for heater
  • Switch fuel filter valve lines
  • Install Soundown 1 1/2″ insulation to engine compartment
  • *Adjust  drive seal to prevent leaks – done 4/20/12
  • Install auxiliary fuel pump
  • *Paint prop with Pettit Zinc Coat Barnacle Spray
  • *Grease Max-prop


Aft Berth

  • Correct leaking deck drain
  • Add padeyes to hold down Rubbermaid containers in berth areas
  • Refinish sole in berth area
  • Seal engine cover to prevent sound from coming into the compartment
  • Reinstall cover over steering system



  • Build and install hatch screens for salon and v-berth
  • Polish dead lights to remove haze
  • *Polish deck to remove sanding residue of bottom paint
  • Install spinnaker pole mounts
  • Install new Amsteel Blue lifelines
  • Install Lewmar organizers and Spinlock clutches for single line reefing – done 10/7/11
  • Install Easylock clutches for furler, boom preventer and genoa tracks
  • Make Sunbrella covers for 2 hatches on deck



  • Cut down Edson pedestal guard and add horizontal support – done 4/28/12
  • Install new steering chain and wire kit
  • Grease and inspect steering system
  • Install Starboard cover over hole left from old autopilot – done 4/28/12
  • Install Standard Horizon helm mic and 12v outlet to Starboard cover (listed above) – done 4/28/12
  • Replace rotten bulkhead in lazarette separating holding tank from water heater – done 4/15/12
  • Reinstall plumbing to water heater – done 4/15/12
  • Remove battery charger – done 4/28/12
  • Install Katadyn 40 watermaker to area where the battery charger was
  • Secure wiring in lazarette
  • Install fuse for start battery next to water heater – done 4/1/12
  • Mount 2 Kyocera 135 watt solar panels on new bimini frame
  • Install antenna on backstay for WIFI
  • *Reinstall rudder and patch drain hole on the bottom of rudder
  • *Install tiller arm for rudder (being built from aluminum)
  • *Fiberglass in shelf support for autopilot
  • *Install Raymarine type 1 linear drive
  • Calibrate autopilot once boat is in the water
  • *Move stern light to davits and add LED to this light
  • Make two point harness for aft of dinghy on the davits
  • Mount Evergreen Solar 205 Watt panel to davits
  • Install Whale o-ring to emergency bilge pump cover – done 9/24/11
  • Relplace shower hose in cockpit – done 3/25/12
  • Rebed cockpit drains – done 10/12/11
  • Replace vinyl windows in dodger, replace zipper in dodger and touch up stitching – done 5/18/12
  • Make Sunbrella/vinyl wind protector to wrap around cockpit



  • *Polish hull
  • *Raise waterline 1 1/2″ – done 5/27/12
  • *Paint new boot line with Interlux Brightside (down to sand and polish now… it will look good enough) – done 5/28/12
  • *Finish sanding and fairing hull – done 5/26/12
  • *Apply 2 layers of Interprotect 2000 barrier coat – done 5/27/12
  • *Paint on Interlux bottom paint to bottom – done 5/27/12

And there you have it.  The million and one things that will keep us busy past the day we leave.   So if you’re family wondering why we may not have the free time to make it to a weekend BBQ or friends wondering why we can’t just shell out a  few extra dollars to go out to the bars just this once, hopefully this list will give you a good perspective on where all of our time and money go.  Don’t feel too bad for us though.  Ten months from now we’ll be sitting in the Bahamas with fruity drinks in our hands while thinking about you at home doing the daily grind and remember that every cent and minute was worth it.

Didn’t We Just do This 15 Years Ago?

Monday April 9, 2012

If you caught it in the last post, I had been to Arizona before and on my trip back this year we were going places I’ve never been as well as visiting a few again that I have.  My first time in Arizona was back in 1997 when my family took a vacation here while road tripping through Arizona and California.  While we were in AZ we spent a few days in Tucson doing things like visiting mountains and getting our picture taken in an old time photo shop.  Coming back in 2012 my parents thought it would be fun to recreate those days by going back to Tuscon and doing all those things again.  So only a half a day after we had gotten back from Sedona we piled back into the truck with coolers and snacks loaded up to set off on another two hour ride in the opposite direction from where we had been the day before.

Our first stop of the day once we reached Tucson was Sebino Canyon which has trails to walk and a tram to drive you around when you were tired.  My brother Joe and I did specifically remember this place as it had large rocks over water we had dangled off before,  scaring the hell out of my mom I’m sure.  Changing pace from the cool February weather we had experienced our first time around, this day we were faced with 90 degree heat.  Unloading from the truck we all slathered on sunscreen and had personal water bottles to tote around with us.  We purchased tickets to take the tram to the top where we would then begin our descent on foot, and while waiting for the next tour to leave we took seats under the shade of an arbor while watching little chimpmunk like creatures pop their heads out of little holes and run across the ground almost too quick for you to see them.  By the time our tram rolled up it filled so quickly that we were left with the rows in the second cart, not protected by the sun.  It was already scorching hot and you could tell it by the people who were coming back on foot wearing as little clothing as possible, already drenched in sweat.  Once the tram starting moving though, there was a nice breeze and the friendly tour guide began with an explaination of all the stops along the way where we could get off and get back on with our trusty blue ticket stub and also went into detail about the canyon itself and the flora and fauna around us.  No one in our tour group felt the need  to get off on the way up and we continuted to climb up to the very last stop.  We had passed the infamous rocks along the way and figured we’d ride the tram back down and get off there.

Once we were dropped off at that stop, surprisingly the only ones in the tour group, we filled our water bottles back up at the rest area and made our way down the sandy path to where the rocks met a little pool of water.  After taking the obligatory few photos of the scenery Joe and I started climing the rocks to get back to the same spot for some ‘now and then’ photos.  The first few rocks were small and easy to jump over, but then we came up to one where a minerature stream of water ran between the two rocks to the shallow pool below.  Joe backed up a few steps and took a running leap over to the other side with minimal effort.  I was about to do the same thing when I realized that even tough it was only an 18″ gap, the rock on the other side had a higher elevation than the one I was currently on and I could see myself losing balance and falling 15 feet into 10 inches of water.  So I figured the smartest thing to do would be to take off my Sketchers and wade across the water to step on a slightly level part of the rock on the other side.  Sounded good in theory.  The new issue became, and I realized this as soon as i was in the water, that the water itself made the rocks incredibly slippery and my foot could not get traction while trying to climb up the other side.  Joe, who probably trusts my ‘climbing’ abilities about as much as Matt, instantly thought I was in peril and grabbed my arm to start yanking me up.  I should have just let him pull me all the way up while I dangled limply below and have the ordeal over with, but knowing that I only needed assistance instead of a rescue I started pulling back on my end.  I had only wanted him to steady me while I did get good footing, but each time I would start to slip and then he’d start to yank while I yanked back.  I think at one point I fully twisted around and had to try and twist myself back.  Standing back on the shore my dad knew this wasn’t a serious case of my getting hurt and was just happily snapping pictures of us from the sand, eager to share my embarrassing moment with me which I was probably just as eager to see.  Finally after getting turned back around I told Joe to wait while I put my foot up on a small indent in the rock and then he could yank me up.  This worked and just a few seconds later I was safe and sound again.  To make things worse though, a woman who was on our side of the rock came over to me to show where there was a simple place to hop over on the back side.  Of course there was.

Now that I had made all the effort to get to this particular rock I was ready to sit there in the sun for awhile and relax but everyone else was ready to get moving again.  On the tram ride up we had spotted a nice little sandy beach area next to a bridge we had wanted to see and with all the things on our list to do again, we couldn’t spend too much time in one spot.  Taking the much easier way across the rocks this time I picked up my shoes and we made our way back out to the road and began to make our way down it.  At this point the sky became hazy again which was nice for the heat but terrible for the photos I was trying to take.  Instead of getting beautiful brown and red mountains popping against a blue sky the scenery wasn’t translating through the camera and my pictures were coming out a little dull and uninteresting.  After awhile I gave up and just enjoyed the walk and the chance to be with family.  We were still surrounded by beautiful sights and the memories of when we had done this together 15 years ago.

When we made our way down to the stop that housed the beach it was overcrowed and still overcast.  The little dip in the water we had been looking forward to was no longer needed as much.  We still stopped to rest for a few minutes and made the decision to continue on our way and out of the canyon so we could squeeze in a visit to University of Arizona while we were in the area.  Since we had seen the tram pass us on it’s way up just 10 minutes before and we knew it wouldn’t be back down to pick us up for at least 20 minutes we kept walking down the foothills to meet it at a location closer to the entrance.  When we got to stop 3 we thought we’d stay and wait for the tram since it does not pick up hitchhikers along the road and they are very specific about only picking up and dropping people off at assigned stops.  While waiting to be picked up my mom pointed out where other people who I’m guessing were bored like me started piling up little rocks one on top of the other almost like a marker or memorial.  I figured I had a few minutes to kill and I would make my own art too.  Looking around the area for one of the larger rocks to place on the bottom I found one off to the side and picked it up to move to a flat location.  As soon as I stuck my hand under it a very large brown spider ran out just below my fingertips.  I turned to my dad to asked if there were brown recluse spiders in the area and he replied there were.  No more playing with rocks for me, I did not feel like losing a finger or an arm on this trip.  I was just going to sit my butt on the seat and wait for the tram to pick me up since my scraped up knees already showed that I had enough adventure for the day.

When we got back to the truck Joe took over the GPS and punched in University of Arizona for us to swing by and bascially only visit the bookstore to buy a shirt before leaving.  The monotone voice began directing us out of the park and back on the main road to town.  After traveling a few miles we hit a large traffic jam due to construction and were at a complete standstill.  We could see on the map we’d be taking a left turn a mile up the road so as soon as we got to the next light a few hundred yards ahead we decided to take the turn early.  This did not please GPS lady and she angrily told us she was recalculating.  Taking our new roundabout recalculated way there were plenty of twists and turns as we tried to follow the new directions.  Once it seemed like we were getting into a populated area again the GPS told us to take a right onto a road, and then another right which led us into a housing development.  We were all a little confused wondering if this was campus housing and we were being taken in the back way.  After following the street for a few hundred feet we could tell this definitley wasn’t right but there was no good place to turn around so we kept following the dirctions on the GPS hoping it would lead us back out.  After a few more ‘turn left in 500 feet, turn right in 300 feet’ we were dropped onto a dead end street.  Making our way to the end of the culdesac to turn ourselvles around since we knew it was all wrong the GPS proudly announced to us ‘You have now reached the University of Arizona’.  Apparently classes are now being held at Catalina Foothills Estates 7 in Tucson.  Lesson learned.  Never upset the GPS, it will get back at you.  Choosing a new U of A location on University Drive we made our way to what actually looked like a campus this time.

Finding a 20 minute parking spot by the quad we all hopped out with no real idea of where to go.  Visiting college campuses together before (ASU, Uof NC, and Duke) we knew the bookstore was usually in the center of campus.  We just kept walking to where all the crowds of people seemed to be but still ended up having to ask students for directions.  Walking into the bookstore there were crowds of people seated infront of a large screen with a potium.  It was obvious there was going to be a speaker of some kind but I was too interested in finding who and made my way to the t-shirts to find a new one for Matt.  After browsing the racks and deciding that red was not his color I opted for a dark gray shirt with the wildcat logo.  Forgoing a shirt for myself since the girls collection was pretty dismal I met my parents back at the front where we cashed out and made our way back to the truck before our 20 mintues was up.  All that work just for a shirt.  I was still happy with it though.

The next thing on the agenda for us was to go to Tucson Mountain Park.  This was another place we had visited on our trip out in ’97.  It was filled with steep mountains covered in saguaro cacti with a winding road running through it.  We arrived there in late afternoon and while we didn’t have time to take in a sunset like when we were last here we drove up to a trail head and sat on one of the benches to enjoy the scenery.  This time we were smart and packed beer for the trip so we each pulled out a can while letting the low lying sun wash over us.  (No, alchohol is not permitted in the park, but we’re big time rebels)  When the bottoms of the cans were dry we got back in the truck for our last stop of the day; old time photos and dinner at a steakhouse.  Both were housed together in Trail Dust Town, a cheesey tourist Old Western area.  I personally was excited to play dress up in one of the frilly gowns at watch my dad and Joe get old time mustaches painted on their faces.  Going to reach for the handle on the door we saw a sign with the schedule ‘Closed Mondays’.  I was a little disappointed to say the least and while the four of us were standing there wondering what to do next a couple and their dog came walking up the dirt road to tell us they’re open.  It was the owners and I guess they happened to be out walking their dog at the same time we arrived.  They opened shop and brought all of us inside.

After going through the story that we had been here before and wanted to re-create a memory my mom and I were ushered behind a curtain with all the women’s costume’s while my dad and Joe stayed out in the main area to be fitted for coats and hats – see more at the page.  Behind the curtain were many frilly and lacy dresses, some conservative but also many for ladies of the evening.  This was the route we were taking.  After being shown many options we each picked one out and started changing into our costumes while rolling on fishnet stockings and lacing up black boots.  We were each given a garter, choker necklace and some fancy head gear.  When we stepped out into the shop again we could see the guys were almost fully dressed as well but needed a little extra facial hair drawn on by burning the end of a cork and using the black tip like chalk.  Once we were deemed outlaws and hussies we were let to the set for positioning.  None of us could remember how we were positioned the last time even though we had just looked at the last photo before leaving that morning, so we let the experts put us in a place they thought we’d look best.  They even threw the dog into the mix free of charge.  One of the great things that did change from the last time we were here is they’ve gone digital.  Last time there was only one shot at the photo and if you had your eyes closed or were making a funny face it was too bad for you.  This time they would snap a few pictures, bring us over to the computer where we could see them and then go back to fix things that didn’t look right.  After about eight photos we decided on a winner and went back to change into our 21st century clothes while they boys wiped off their mustaches with baby wipes.

By the time we were presentable to the modern day again they had already printed off our photos and were placing them in cardboard frames for us to take home.  We thanked them for their time and told them hopefully we’d be back in 15 more years, maybe with some little kids in the mix.  The last thing on the agenda for the night was a dinner at a steakhouse right across the dusty trail from the photo studio.  It also had an Old West theme to it and as we were seated at our table I could tell there also must be a theme against wearing a neck tie to the joint because there were cut of ties nailed to all the walls.  Most you could tell were worn by people who knew they would not be leaving the restaurant with it because the ones by our table were some of the tackiest ties I’ve ever seen.  The one by me that took the prize was from the 80’s in an electric blue with hot pink and yellow accents and covered in computers and floppy discs.  Totally radical.  The menu was smaller than I thought it would be, but sticking with the Western theme I ordered a fillet mignon with beans and a glass of red wine.  Ok, the whine should have been whiskey but I didn’t think I could shoot that back.  The food was delicious with a juicy and tender steak and the beans were reminiscent of chili which was even better than the baked beans I was imagining them to be.  It was a great end to a busy day and after spending the last 48 hours of traveling all over the state and taking in so many things I was ready for a more slow paced relaxing day tomorrow.

Sedona….It Used to be Apple Orchards, You Know

Sunday April 8, 2012

It’s a good thing my body was on Michigan time or I would never have been able to force myself out of bed at 6:30 to attend 8:00 Easter mass with my family.  It was supposed to be a really warm day in Mesa, over 90, and by the time we got in the truck at twenty to eight it was already closing in on 70.  Which felt 10 degrees warmer to me and I was immediately loving it there.  The church my parents attend is very large and can get quite crowded between the months of October through April when all the snow birds are in town.  We were put into an overflow chapel and somehow snagged the last four seats together in the back.  I was relieved to see the overflow chapel did not have pews and I wouldn’t have to spend half the service kneeling.  In the seats directly in front of us was a family with an adorable baby girl that had some of the best bedhead I’ve ever seen.  Throughout the service she’d look back at us and giggle and coo.  Just in front of her was a baby boy that was trying to out-cute her, and a battle of the cuteness ensued for about 20 minutes before bedhead girl won with a few sneezes.

When service was let out we all rushed home to change into more comfortable clothes and get ready for a day trip to Sedona.  Packing coolers with pop and water we got back in the truck for the two hour drive north.  My parents had used their timeshare up there the year before and told us there were too many beautiful sights to miss out on while we were so close.  Even though I’d been to Arizona before I’d never been to that area so weeks before I even left I’d Google images and look at the large red rocks that seemed to glow in the sun.  As we were making the drive I kept waiting for us to come up on these large mountainous rocks but all I could see out my window were dirt hills covered with with bushes and a few cacti.  Even without the awe inspiring views out the window we were still enjoying the drive with my dad’s GPS, watching the elevation climb higher and higher until we were in the 4,000 ft range.  I was getting worried as we were taking expressway signs into Sedona and I was still not seeing the red rocks out my window but my dad who seemed to be reading my mind mentioned that you didn’t come upon them until you were just a mile or two away.  Sure enough we turned a corner and all you could see were the giant red rocks I had been waiting for against a blue sky, looking just like a scene from a Western movie.

Our first stop of the day was a hiking trail my parents had found when they were visiting before.  I changed from my comfy Toms into sneakers and put on a hat to protect myself from the desert sun.  Although Sedona is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than Mesa due to the elevation, the 75 degrees that was reading as the outside temperature felt like it was 90 once we stepped out into it.  There was not a breath of wind around.  I had a feeling we wouldn’t be walking around for too long with all the other plans we had for the day and didn’t bother to take a bottle of water with me even though I could tell I would be getting thirsty before too long.  As the four of us crossed the uneven dirt road that brought us here onto the burnt red path of soil and sand beneath us there were instantly rocks and hills to start climbing up and around.  Nothing strenuous but enough to keep a klutz like me eyeing every step of the path ahead.  There were little trail markers of rocks filled inside chicken wire and I could see why because it was not always obvious where the trail was going.  We ventured off it a little bit to climb a large flat rock and get some good pictures of the scenery.  I would have loved to have the whole day to spend on these trails alone walking around and discovering new things.  One of my favorite things to do at home with Matt is just hike through woods and trails for hours with no destination in mind.  Back on the trails in Sedona, with the heat of the day coming upon us now and so many other things to see  we turned back around after making it a half mile into the trail, seeing the gorgeous sights that surrounded us and getting all of our pretty pictures.

Getting back out to civilization there were a few other sights to see before we got into the heart of Sedona.  First we stopped at Bell Rock but just got out in the parking lot to take a few pictures instead of doing any hiking in that area.  When we were driving past the other side though you could see the little white t-shirts of people who were making the climb.  Again I was a little jealous of these people who were able to make the climb up the immense rock,  but I know I have a ton of that coming up in my future in many exotic locations so I can’t complain.  Our last stop before lunch was a Frank Llyod Wright structure called Chapel of the Holy Cross and it’s built right into the rock on a Sedona hill.  As we came up on it from the road I was surprised to see how small it was.  I guess I was expecting some large wandering cathedral, but what I saw was just a small simple structure. As we drove up the winding road through the crowds we found a parking spot near the top and walked the rest of the way up.  I don’t know if it was always busy here or if it was because it was Easter, but most of the crowds were on the outside walkway and we were able to sneak inside to sit on the pews and look around.  The chapel itself, from what I could see, had pews lined against each wall on the inside and then 6-8 rows through the middle with an aisle in between.  At the front was where the priest would stand to give service, and right behind there were the large floor to ceiling windows overlooking the rocks in the background.  Going back outside we squeezed our way into an open spot for some photos of the family and the views surrounding us.  Just below the chapel on the main road to get in was Nicholas Cage’s Sedona home (one of the ones that didn’t foreclose, I think) sticking out like a sore thumb.  It was large and gaudy and didn’t fit into the landscape at all.  Plus there would be absolutely no privacy there at all.  From where we were standing you could see his whole yard plus the pool and decks.  If I had that kind of money it wouldn’t be my first choice of homes, but I guess when you have so many you can give up little luxuries like privacy at one of them.

Getting back in the truck the four of us were starving and ready to get lunch.  Acting as tour guides my parents brought us to a restaurant which I’m assuming is pretty famous in the area, The Coffee Pot.  It’s located near a rock formation shaped like a percolator and has 101 omelettes on their menu.  We walked in about five minutes to two, happy to see it wasn’t overflowing with an Easter brunch crowd.  Sitting down my dad asked the hostess what time they closed and she replied, “2:00.  So don’t worry, you just made it”.  All of us felt terrible for walking in just before close and making a poor server stay about 45 minutes later because of us, but we were all so hungry and the food sounded so good that we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  Looking at the menu I knew I couldn’t visit a place like this and not choose one of their 101 omelettes so I started scanning the list as quick as possible so we could get our food order in right away.  There were many appetizing options and part of me was craving just a good old Western or Veggie omelette but at the same time I wanted to choose some crazy combination that I knew they didn’t serve back at home.  With a few really good options narrowed down with choices of crab, avocado, and zucchini among them (not all together), when the server stopped by to take our order I went with number 64, the cream cheese, sliced ham and asparagus omelette.  Since we were practically the only people in the restaurant our food came up within minutes and I started scarfing it down like there was no tomorrow.  In addition to the omelette itself I also had a side of cottage cheese and a biscuit so I didn’t get too far and there were some to-go boxes being passed out at the end of the meal.  While having lunch there I’d totally forgotten that I told my friend back home I’d send her pictures of the mountain views and before I could forget I made sure to snap this photo for her.

I’m such a smart ass

So many omelettes!!

After our delicious lunch we began to head back to town as the next thing on our agenda was to take a Jeep tour through areas not well accessible in regular vehicles.  We had a flyer printed out for Pink Jeep tours and went to look for a parking spot near their shop on the main strip.  It was a popular day to be out there and all the street spots were taken.  Trying the public parking lots there we also had no luck and were forced to park on the street a few blocks away.  Walking back to the main strip we were weaving through little shops trying to find our way to Pink Jeep.  Once spit out on the main street we were directly across from Red Rock Jeep Tours, the people my parents had used when they were here before.  They hadn’t wanted to take the same tour as they did last year which is why we were headed to Pink Jeep, but we decided to walk in and see what else they offered.  While my parents had gone on a very bumpy off road 4×4 kind of trail before we found another one that would bring us through Dry Creek Basin and to and old cabin used to make moonshine in the 1800s.  That tour was leaving within 10 minutes so we all stuck by the door until our guide came to get us.  His name was Larry and he was very friendly and outgoing.  He led us back to their parking lot along with another couple from Pittsburgh.  We climbed in the back and buckled ourselves in as Larry had us all introduce ourselves and he began to describe the areas we were about to see.  Pulling out onto the strip he made his way up some side streets to a residential area and began the tour with a history of the area.  He explained that what was around us were not actually mountains and asked if anyone knew what they were.  I replied ‘rock formations’ which was correct.  Gold star for me!  Then he started speaking about flat topped rock formations called mesas and asked if anyone knew how they got their name.  I answered that mesa was the Spanish word for table.  Right again!  (Thank you, Spanish Behind the Wheel)  Just as I was feeling like I was on a game show where I might win a prize he continued on pointing out different rock formations and how they got their names, usually because of the shapes they formed.  There was ‘Coffee Pot, Elephant, Snoopy’, and many more that I can’t remember.  Larry then began to tell us the history of Sedona, how it was named after the founder’s wife’s middle name and how all this area around us used to be apple orchards.  Leaving the residential area he had brought us to see these rocks formations we drove down the strip to another road and began to go up it while Larry told us he was taking us to an airport on top of a Mesa.  We stayed up there in the Jeep for a minute before heading down again and then going to another street that housed the library so he could show us a statue of Mrs. Sedona Schnebly.

At this point I was beginning to wonder why we had just dropped so much money to travel roads that were open to the public and we’d have no problem getting to when Larry turned to us and said that we were his last tour of the day before his weekend and he was giving us an additional tour on top of what everyone else got to see.  It was at this time we pulled into an area with rocky roads leading back to more rock formations through 4×4 trails.  Finally.  We bumped along the roads and made our way further from civilization.  The sun had ducked behind some clouds which made for  comfortable temperatures but was also hiding some of the brilliant colors of the red rocks.  We came up to an area called Devil’s Bridge which was a little walk from the main trail and sounded very interesting, but we kept plugging along after getting a little narrative on it.  We headed deeper and deeper into the creek, aiming for Van Derin Cabin.  We were told this is a place where moonshine used to be made until the moonshiner was gunned down.  Then it became the residence of the Van Derin’s who expanded to make two rooms under one roof with a breezeway, and raised their five kids.  Even though it is surrounded by private land (and a golf course in the middle of nowhere that I believe went bankrupt), the cabin is now property of the State Forest.  It was used to make a few Western movies, including ‘Blood on the Moon’ back in 1948.  Getting up to the cabin from the trail we did get good use out of the Jeep as it was literally climbing up rocks and not a trail.  Once there we got out to do a little walking around and tour the two room cabin.  It was interesting to see how people used to survive normally back then.   The cabin was two rooms around 10×15 ft and had dirt floors.  That was it.   I’m sure it would have looked slightly different back when it was being lived in, but to me it didn’t look like much of a step up from living in a cave.  Ahhhh, frontier days.  Ignorantly blissful for those who didn’t know any better.

Loading everyone into the Jeep again we began to take the trail back to the main road.  When we were getting to the spot where the knotted and gnarly pine trees were sitting and Larry had described many people believed it was due to a mystical vortex in the area, I received a sudden and sharp shock on my collar bone.  No bug that had pelted me through the lack of windows and nothing touching the area except my shirt.  Guess I was touched by the vortex.  When we were back on pavement Larry took us by the Beverly Hills area of Sedona and showed us the gated communities while rattling off all the celebrities who had homes there and which ones you might find wandering around town.  We were dropped back off in the parking lot around 5:30, making for a two and a half hour tour when it was only supposed to be two.  It wasn’t quite the thrill ride of off roading that my parents experienced on their first tour without us, but that’s not what this one was meant for and I really enjoyed the steady pace through the trails and the history of what was surrounding us.  Not that I would have turned down a few minutes of climbing up more rocks at 60 degree angles or gunning it and flying down 10 foot cliffs though.  I don’t think the tours actually do that second part….but they do have Jeeps to rent out!

With our last hour of sunlight the four of us made our way across the street to sit in an outdoor patio area to enjoy a drink and relax.  While my mom and brother enjoyed beers, my dad and I got a glass of red wine which I didn’t know why I did since we weren’t staying for dinner because I’ve been known to take two hours to drink one glass at home.  Red that is, white and blush go down much quicker.  We reflected on the day and talked a little bit about our plans for the next day, a trip down to Tucson.  This is another place my parents had spent a day or two at visiting in the past few years but more importantly it was a place the four of us had visited back in 1997 on a road trip through the southwest.  We were going to recreate our trip there by visiting Sebino Canyon, Tucson Mountain Park, and even getting our picture taken in an Old West photo shop.  Once our drinks were done (and yes, I did have to chug the last half of my glass) we piled in the truck for the ride home and just like when I was ten years old I layed my head on a pillow while sprawled out in the backseat bundled under a jacket and slept the car ride home.  Some things never change.

Mama I’m Coming Home

Saturday April 7, 2012

Since the only time I get to see my parents is the one time a year they fly into Michigan to visit family and friends, I didn’t want to leave on a four year journey without squeezing in a little quality time with them.  My brother and I made plans to fly out and visit while Matt unfortunately stayed behind to work.  My brother had flown out from Detroit the night before me and I was supposed to arrive the next afternoon around 3:30 with plenty of time in the day to still lounge by the pool with a drink in my hand.

Getting dropped off at the airport by Chris and Jack I was checked in at the counter within 15 minutes and still had over an hour to occupy my time before the flight left.  Knowing I didn’t want to quarantine myself to the terminal just yet I visited the Pizza Hut counter to get a fountain drink and sat among the large array of tables to get some writing done.  30 minutes later I grabbed my purse and carry-on to make my way through security as I spent a few extra dollars on my ticket for an assigned seat and they made sure to tell you that if you’re not to your gate 45 minutes before departure you could forfeit that assigned seat.  As I walked to the end of the terminal I could see our gate was quite crowded and my chances of not having anyone sit next to me were getting slimmer.  Still having those 45 minutes before our plane was supposed to depart I plopped down in an empty seat and pulled out my e-reader to keep myself busy.  Scrolling through all the new books Matt and downloaded I was hoping Tina Fey’s ‘Bossy Pants’ was on there, but it hadn’t made it so I settled on a blog-type book from Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear) and began reading stories about how he dropped a bomb (literally) on North Carolina and how British women don’t fit into the fashion or social scene of the Caribbean.

Before I knew it they were boarding the plane and I took my window seat while wondering what kind of over-talkative cat lady they were going to sit next to me.  When the open seating began I was thankful when a family of four came to my row where the wife and two daughters took the seats across the aisle and the husband took the empty seat next to me where I knew he’d be too preoccupied with his family to talk my ear off the whole flight.  There was however a six year old ginger kid that took a seat in front of me and was so excited to go see his grandma that he couldn’t stop talking about it.  I remember what it’s like to be that young and that excited about something but after the week I’d just had at work I didn’t want to slap on a smile and talk to anyone unless I personally knew them.  I was waiting for the point where we were high enough in the air that electronics were allowed and I could pop in my earbuds and drown out the world for the next four hours.  Just as I thought we were about to start moving since the doors were closed and everyone was seated there was and announcement that came on overhead.  “Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain speaking.  We appear to have an issue where our fuel tanks were overfilled and extra fuel has spilled on the tarmac.  We need to have this cleaned before we can start moving, and my previous experience with this has seen it take an hour or two so we’re going to offload you from the plane so you can be more comfortable while we take care of this”.  The attendants instructed us to collect all our belongings, that we couldn’t leave anything behind, and that we also could not go past the security point without having to buy another ticket to get back on the plane.  Everyone deboarded pretty quickly and after checking with an attendant that there would be an overhead announcement when they were reboarding so I wouldn’t have to be glued to our gate I grabbed my bags and started heading down the terminal.  Treating myself to Starbucks was out since that was past the security point but I was able to buy a 20 oz Pepsi for $2.79 and take a seat at an empty gate and start reading more stories from And Another Thing: The World According to Clarkson.

There were a few people I recognized from my flight sitting at this less crowded gate so I wasn’t worried it would leave without me.  One by one they left and went back to the gate our flight was leaving from but there had still not been an overhead announcement.  When they finally did call it over the speakers there was only me and one guy left and as we made our way to the gate we found the area was already empty.  Apparently they had already reloaded everyone that was standing around before calling it on the speakers.  I was glad I would not have to wait in a line again while boarding but was worried people would not have stuck to their original seats and mine would be gone.  Hurrying to the back of the plane where I had originally been sitting I found my seat open and the same family of four sitting next to me.  Phew.  Everything went much quicker this time as they were able to close the doors just after I had gotten on and everyone else was already seated.  I overheard a conversation the man next to me was having with his wife about how scared she is of flying and had her hold her hand out to see how steady it was.  Of course it was not at all steady but he assured her that everything would be fine.  I thought about chirping in with the ‘You’re more likely to get into an accident on the way to the airport’ comment but decided to keep it to myself.  We started rolling backward on the tarmac and ever excited ginger kid started talking non-stop.  “Are we moving yet?  When are we going to take off?  How fast will we be going?  When are we going to get there?”  The poor kid was also only making matters worse for the anxiety ridden woman next to me once we got off the ground by turning to his dad and saying “Are we falling?  It feels like we’re falling.  It feels like the plane is going down”.  We were definitely not going down, but that did not make her feel any better.

We landed at the Phoenix-Mesa airport two hours behind schedule where my family was waiting to pick me up.  There were hugs all around as I hadn’t seen my parents since on the boat Labor Day.  Muscling through the crowds my brother grabbed my bag from the carousel and we were quickly loaded in the truck for the short drive to my parent’s place.  It was a nice sunny evening in the low 80’s, and as soon as I dropped my bags off in my room we all made our way out to the patio to catch up over wine and beer.  I love that with my family we can pick up like it was just yesterday we last saw each other.  We stayed out until the sun started going down about an hour later and my dad realized he needed to get the steaks on the grill before it was too dark to see.  a little later we sat down to a family dinner with just the four of us, which probably hasn’t happened in almost 10 years since if I were there then Matt was always there too.  By the time dinner ended I was already getting a little tired and with the three hour time difference I was still on Michigan time where it was close to 11:00.

We weren’t ready to call it a night yet as my mom had bought an old VHS copy of Captain Ron for all of us to watch together.  After getting into comfy pajama clothes I took a seat next to my brother on the couch.  We laughed at all the classic and hilarious lines from the movie and I took note to try and find out where their starting location of ‘Saint Potato’ was.  When the movie had finished I was more than ready for bed.  I had only been up for 17 hours at this point, but after all the traveling and delays and excited talkative kids it felt like 30.

Finally Making Progress

Sunday April 1, 2012

Only two weeks into sanding and I was already starting to dread Sundays.  The hassle and 60 minutes spent to get the tarps up while the wind fought me every step of the way, working with a sander that did not get me anywhere, and having my whole body aching by the end of the day.  It may not have been so bad if I could tell that I was making progress or the end was in sight, but when we got to the marina and I took a look at the boat there was still sooooo much more to be done.  In my head I kept thinking that if I were to keep working at this pace every week we really would not finish this project until some time in the fall.

After getting everything set up for hte day I was ready to pull out the Makita when Matt said I should switch to the the Porter Cable he had been using in the fall.  He thought I’d get much further with it than what I had been using and it would make work a lot easier on me.  At first I was thinking this plan would not work at all because the thing was huge and I was pretty sure there was no way I’d be able to hold it up for more than 30 seconds at a time but I figured I’d work with it for thirty minutes just to tell him I tried and then go back to the Makita.

Lifting the heavy sander I turned it sideways so I could get a better grip, turned it on and held it up to the hull.  The moment the rough paper touched the paint it began to take it off immediately.  This wasn’t like the Makita where the paint would turn 3 different colors before I could see the white/gray hull.   Removing the paint wasn’t the full 6″ diameter of the sander but it was a few inches high by a few inches wide which was good enough for me.  Working the sander from left to right the paint would just fall off although huge clouds of dust always followed it.  When I’d start to get to an area where I was raising the sander enough so it was level with my face I’d pull out a little step ladder and keeping working my way up.  The progress I was now making with the larger sander was amazing.  In one hour with the Porter Cable I did more than one whole day with the Makita.  By the time I was nearing the end of my work day I had probably gotten 1/3 of the Port side of the hull done.  I hadn’t gone underneath the hull though because that would have actually required me to hold the sander above my head and I didn’t think I was ready for that yet.  My arms were still adjusting to the extra weight of the heavier sander and quitting time did end up coming 45 minutes earlier than normal.  I was still proud of my work though and in a tired but estatic  way I was thinking this project may actually get finished in the next few weeks.

Getting ready to start