Sunday, October 14, 2012

How We Spent Our Summer "Vacation"

Soon we will be traveling on Abracadabra once again.  Before we return to our “home” which is currently docked in La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico, we thought we’d let you know “How We Spent Our Summer ‘Vacation’”: 

During the last five months (early May through early October) WE HAVE BEEN HOUSE-SITTING:  First, in May and June, we spent six weeks care taking and enjoying a beautiful flat in San Francisco while our friends Christina Crosby and Martin Roysher were in Europe.  Our time was filled with hiking in the Presidio (just outside “our” back door) and Golden Gate Park (a few blocks away), eating yummy Asian food of all varieties (which we greatly missed while in Mexico), cooking in their beautiful and well-equipped kitchen, and visiting friends.  Coolest thing for Molly: cooking in a really big and fully stocked kitchen and being able to invite friends (Dave Woodside and Sophie Wong) and family (Richard Williams) to dinner.  Coolest thing for Bryce: hiking and stretching his legs after months on a boat.

In August and September we spent five weeks in the home of Bryce’s youth, now occupied by his sister, Brenda, in the little village of Lakefield, Ontario.  Bryce remodeled the 1960’s bathroom and we visited Mother Andrews frequently, giving Brenda time to tour the Balkans for two weeks and take a much-deserved week’s rest in British Columbia.  While in Canada we touched base with friends from near (David and Lynn McCracken from Ennismore); further (Dermod and Nadine Mark from Guelph, and Jim Thompson from Toronto); and relatively far (Jean Ross, of Brooklyn, New York).  We also visited our niece Becky Nelson who has begun her first year of college away from home, and took a short trip to Montreal.  Molly took a side trip to Brooklyn to visit friend Jean leaving Bryce to continue the bathroom remodel without moral support - and he persevered!   Coolest thing for Molly and Bryce: doing their (very little) bit towards the care taking of Mother Andrews.  Next coolest things for Bryce: touching base with his nephews and a trip around Jack Lake in nephew-in-law Scott Estabrook’s super sleek ski boat.

Jack Lake, Apsley, Ontario
House sitting for our friends Ken and Claudia Carlson in Sacramento involved a couple of shorter-term arrangements, but we used that time to get our car serviced, practice yoga with one of our favorite yogis, Alicia Patrice, get our teeth cleaned (living “abroad” has its complications) and to offer several friends the opportunity to feed us (thanks Perry Israel and Anne Israel-Connelly; Joe Lenihan and Ray Graetz; Frank Chan and Irene deBrujin-Chan; and Sheila Marsee Hofer and Steve Hofer)!  Coolest thing: Sitting in the Carlsons’ lovely back yard with a beer (or on their front porch with a glass of white wine watching the neighborhood go by).

* * ** * * * * *
In between our arduous house-sitting jobs (ha), we put almost 3,000 miles on our little Volvo, taking our first long road trip together, traveling up and down the western U.S.  After over a month “on the road” we agree that it’s actually easier sailing together than traveling in an overstuffed Volvo S-40.  Abracadabra may not have a lot of storage - but what is there beats having to remember which bag the ibuprofen was packed in . . . 

Fellow Road Warriors!   

In addition to our road trip, we had two round trips between California and Toronto piling up the air miles (Europe anyone?).  During these travels WE WERE HOUSE-GUESTS of family and wonderful, kind friends.  Frank and Irene even through Bryce an impromptu birthday party!

Bryce's 60th B-Day Party!
Thanks, again:
  • brother Robert Arnold and brother-in-law Tom Reynolds in Rancho Mirage;
  • Kym and Jerry Pipkin in Tahoe City; 
  • Frank Chan and Irene deBrujin Chan, Ken and Claudia Carlson, and Perry Israel and Anne Israel-Connolly in Sacramento – thanks all for taking us in -- we hope we managed to not wear out our welcome with any one group of friends!;
  • Bob and Kathy Romano who toured us around Spokane;
  • Jodi Rafkin who is perfecting a 3-Perfect Days tour of Portland;
  • our Ha-ha crew Corinne Hackbarth and Richard (Poncho del Sol) Nelson in Edmonds, Washington who have their own 3-Perfect Days approach to the Seattle area; and
  • Jean Ross, who let Molly couch surf in Brooklyn.
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * ** * * * * * *
While house-sitting and house-guesting and (when necessary) hoteling it we spent time SEEING NEW PLACES AND REVISITING OLD FAVORITES:  We recommend  –
  • Lakefield, Ontario, Canada for a visit to the nearby Canadian Canoe Museum (really – it’s very cool --, tours of the many locks of the Trent-Severn Waterway, visits to one of the many local lakes (Stony, Lovesick, Jack – there are lots of them), or if you’re there in July, the Lakefield Literary Festival;  
  • Hiking at Mono Lake to see the tufa towers and nearby to circumnavigate the Panum Crater; at Mammoth Lakes; and at Point Reyes (which is fun even in the rain if you’re joined by good friends – thanks to organizers Mark Lovington and Jeanne Monahan and Tom Monahan – not related);
  • San Francisco for all the reasons it’s Molly’s (and almost everyone else’s) favorite city – particularly if you have a friend like Bob Romano who will take you sailing on The Bay and a friend like Sophie Wong who will introduce you to No. 209 Gin martinis (warning - they can be dangerous!);
  • Spokane, Washington for cool downtown waterfalls, happy hour at the Davenport Hotel, and White Box Pies’ huckleberry pie – or well, any type of pie from White Box Pies;
  • Hood River, Oregon for viewing great windsurfing (or actuall windsurfing if you’re up to it, we suppose);
  • the Maryhill Museum along the Columbia River Gorge in Washington for – uhm - unique exhibits of items donated by Marie, Queen of Romania (what, you don’t remember her?) and the apparently once famous dancer Loie Fuller, a really cool exhibit of a 1946 Parisian fashion show on 1/3 scale wire mannequins and – bizarrely – a scale model of Stonehenge made from concrete erected to honor those lost in the First World War (really – check this place out: );
  • Portland, Oregon for a movie theater that serves beer and offers film making classes (, great food from food carts and in brick-and-mortar restaurants, even better ice cream (we mean really, really good ice-cream – see:, and good regional theater;
  • Bremerton, Washington for a tour of the Puget Sound Navy Museum and views of the sound;
  •  Seattle or Edmonds, Washington for a tour of the Boeing factory that perhaps says more about the art of corporate public relations than the making of airplanes, a tour of the Ballard locks and fish ladder, a visit to Rick Steve’s home base in Edmonds, a tour of the Smith Tower, and good food including the pizza at Serious Pie (and oh, yeah, there’s Pike’s Place and the underground Seattle tour if you have time); 
  • if you have spent time going through security at the California State Capitol, we recommend visiting the state capitols of Oregon (Salem) and Washington (Olympia) to tour legislative buildings without security checks (we were amazed); 
  • Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – do see Animal Crackers if you get there before November;
  • Montreal, Quebec for wonderful parks, interesting architecture, yummy smoked meat sandwiches (but try poutine only if you need to satisfy your own culinary curiosity: think French fries with gravy and cheese on top -- we kid you not) and, if your timing is right, the Fetish Weekend which apparently coincides with Labor Day weekend (we saw an amazing array of lycra wear on participants in a local park: lycra is not just used for long-distance swimmers as protection from jellyfish, it seems!);
  • Manhattan, New York for the High Line, Central Park, the Tenement Museum ( and whatever’s happening while you’re in Manhattan – there will undoubtedly be something interesting (perhaps if you look hard enough, a fetish weekend - ?); and
  • Brooklyn, New York for Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library, flea markets, and a tour of the art studios in the DUMBO neighborhood (“Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” – see:

To prove we were really there!
and there. . .. (Hood River).

We also visited two places you might want to avoid unless you need a place to sleep after a long drive:  Lakeview, Oregon (no view of lake) and Kettleman City, California (though there’s a great taco truck in Kettleman City if you don’t mind dining in an unlit parking lot  . . .).  Or you might stop in either if you are interested in purchasing a used mobile home.

AND HAVING SOME INTERESTING NEW EXPERIENCES:  We took a white water kayaking trip on the American River which was fun, and would have been really fun if Bryce’s inflatable kayak had met the “inflatable” standard (it’s hard to keep a guy afloat with only one pontoon full of air!).  

Molly took an internet course in world music through Coursera – a MOOC (“massive open on-line course”) along with thousands of other students (see: -- very cool).   She recently received her e-mailed Statement of Accomplishment (With Distinction) – yes, with distinction! -- which she plans to add to her resume if she ever needs to look for another job. . . . 

And now, our “summer vacation” over, we’re travelling on our way.  Our plan is to cross the border into Mexico in our trusty little Volvo on Tuesday.  Our trunk and back seat are full of boat bits, including 160-feet of anchor chain, food and housekeeping supplies that are hard or impossible to find in Mexico (canned tomatoes, artichokes, extra-large zip-lock bags, etc.), and our ever more increasingly used clothing.  Over the next five or six days (we travel slowly in all forms of transportation, it seems) we will drive to La Paz, a trip of 900+ miles.  We’ll let you know how driving down and across the Baja goes and what there is to see (and if relevant, to avoid).

In La Paz we will spend however long it takes (we estimate a week - ish) turning Abracadabra from a floating storage locker to a sailboat, and – early-ish November – sailing into the Sea of Cortez for more Travels on Abracadabra. 

JOIN US!!  You can follow our Travels on Abracadabra via e-mail by adding your e-mail in the spot under “Follow by E-mail” at the right side of the blog’s home page, hitting the “submit” button, and following the directions.  And, because so many people seem to be communicating via Facebook these days, Molly has joined Facebook and will be posting links to all new blog postings there.  So – if you’re on Facebook, “friend” her! 
See you on the internet.  And – in Mexico?

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad I got to see you! I'll look forward to the next time. Big hugs!