Retreat to the mountains, and goodbyes

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Well,I just got back from being on the road again, always looking for adventure. I guess some people would say that I have a problem, an inability to settle in. My Vanagon is as much a self sufficient domicile as any sailboat, with stove and fridge built in at the manufacturer, westfalia in 1982. She is a Diesel, and she is slow. Taking her around is a constant reminder not to be in any kind of hurry. Experience the now. This is exemplified when I’m going up mountain passes at fifteen miles per hour with the most delectable views as people pass me at, perhaps, an unsafe speed. The fall colors are coming out now. Many people will be driving vast distances to have the carotenoid wavelengths directly contacting their cones at the back of the eye. I have fallen in with them as a driving enthusiast. October fourth was my birthday and I am one year, one day, further along the path that I’m on.

I find it easy to get out of the practice of writing when there is so much to take on. The last week I have been packing all of my belongings into boxes with a destination in mind: storage shed or sailboat. It has been an overwhelming task; and the four day break I gave myself around my birthday was well deserved and needed. Tomorrow my pops will be helping me move a trailer full of my belongings to Salida while we also take advantage of the weekend to camp and hike together in the mountains. My body feels well used with the few bits of adventure that I got the last few days, though my climbing skills have waned since I have not used them this summer. I have an itch in the back of my mind to disappear to Indan Creek, the climbers mecca, for a few weeks before my sailboat endeavor. The laundry list of things to fix sits on the back of my mind always, with the most concern being the standing rigging, and my ability to have a few bucks left over after fixing it all. The dream will have to be kept alive as a work in progress as I enjoy the last remnants of the fall here before heading to the nearly tropical, in my humble opinion, Rockport Harbor. We camped a few nights at higher elevations and even got snowed on last night, two inches or so. Those cloudy nights tend to be warmer anyhow. We met a Texas gentleman by the name of Stephen Ashworth who identifies himself as a through hiker. He was currently hiking a route that took him from the Delaware to San Francisco. He had hiked the Appalachian trial and the Pacific Crest Trail already and had been on this journey since January, ten months ago. He was excited to have somebody to chat with, and told us this route was much different than many of the other through hikes since it had much less day use traffic. He certainly was very remote when we met him; soon to to wallow through mud, and whatever storms drop more snow for the next week as he makes his way to Grand Junction. Meeting Stephen is a reminder that we all need a goal to focus on, even if that goal is just to walk fifteen miles today. With time the overall objective is slowly eaten away, and a fleeting sense of fulfillment arrises. Until the next objective! I have been inspired toward my goal in the evenings by reading Bernard Moitessier “The Long Way”, a story about one captain in a three boat single handed race around the world, who when he crossed his own track continued on to Tahiti without finishing the race. He has a great love of the sea, and mastery of the sextant; Something I hope to master in the not too distant future. Thank you for endless expanses of information world wide web! Maybe one day I will be as salty as Moitessier, who when his shrouds get clipped by a passing boat(to which he was delivering a message with a lead weight and a slingshot), he simply goes hove-to on the opposite tack and makes the necessary repairs. Well played sir. I will need to brush up on recognizing my seabirds, but am looking forward to watching the daily business of the many shorebirds in the coming months.

20161006_073710Hanging out with my good friend and longtime climbing partner, Jeremy Joseph, around the campfire and at the crag was a joy and worth the drive itself. Being in so many life or death experiences together really grows a bond. There is no closer friend that I would have wanted to spend my birthday around, which says a lot. Jeremy will be venturing to Ecuador for some mountain climbing and backpacking in two weeks time, so we will see when our paths cross next. Our campfire talk hit the full spectrum of conversations ranging from women(of course), to global warming and the decimation of the planets resources. There is much that can be done to combat our social momentum in the wrong direction, starting with gardening. We ate a few meals of potatoes, onions, chard, carrot, tomatoes, and squash from my20161004_160551 garden supplemented by coconut milk and curry paste. My hard work in the spring pays off. I won’t say that we didn’t eat bacon and eggs, but the lower carbon footprint and fruition of harvest for a few meals was very enjoyable to me. I truly think that if we can all grow a little food on the side of our busy lives we will have a great impact on our communities. We could all stand to look each other in the eyes more, help more stranded motorists, have real connections at the checkout counter, or just be good friends. Gardening can be one of those pathways to better community involvement and communication. A common gcoal-creek-camping-6046oal! I hope gardening catches on, for my own mental health. Speaking of gardening, the freeze has arrived! Harvesting pumpkins, australian butternut squash, and what was left of the patty pan squash. Maybe some of the squash will last until my Texas departure. Maybe.

My Grandpa Glenn, on my mothers side, also died last week, the first of my grandparents to go. It is a reminder to me that we are ephemeral on this planet, and cannot take time back. Grandpa Glenn was a wonderful character, who inspired all of us grandkids to think critically, as well as having a knack for rhyming names with adjectives and making up silly songs while hiking (at the pace of a skip). In his memory I will share one of my favorite of his puzzles: There are twelve rou nd steel balls that look identical, yet one of the balls is slightly heavier or lighter than the other eleven; with only three weighings, using a justice type counter balance scale, you must balance-scaledetermine which ball is out of the ordinary, and if it is heavier or lighter. You will need a pen and paper. Good luck!  

Being a boat owner and how to eat an elephant one bite at a time

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Well, I pulled the trigger on the sailboat, the 39′ Columbia. She is certainly a piece of work: a project boat. The guy who owned her previously was going to leave her at the docks and let the marina auction her off, there was a seizure notice on the vessel the first time I checked her out. The hull is certainly worth five grand anyhow, and it was five years ago or so that an old man was single handing her. The owner I bought from only owned the boat for a year, and the bottom paint was done just before he got her. It looked good to my untrained eye, aside from the barnacles that had started to build. I probably would have backed out of the deal except I couldn’t because I just paid eighteen hundred dollars in back slip fees to get the boat at all. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess: with a little work she will be a cruising machine.

I have itemized the list in my head of things that need immediate attention and fixing. First and foremost would be the engine, I was told that she needed injection work, nothing more. Second would be cleaning out the potable water tank and fixing the cap, which looks like a piece of forged iron that broke off in the fill tubing. Third is the toilet, which I was told also does not work. The winch was removed by the previous guy because it was jamming up, so I’ll need a new one of those, along with an anchor chain to match. The boat comes with a danforth and plow anchor, so I will be close to ready to set sail and anchor outside of a beach with minimal extra cash. Which is good, because at two-hundred and seventy dollars a month slip fees and one hundred dollars extra for live-aboard, I can’t afford to stay in the marina long. All the running rigging that I can see, aside from the main halyard, which is brand new, look like junk. I will certainly want a new furling line for the furling jib if I want to use it for a storm jib in heavy weather without it snapping. The previous owner told me that he took it out only once and that the mast had a bend in it; this makes sense since the only piece of standing rigging that I found to be loose was a lower shroud. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the standing rigging is good, there is obvious rust here and there. I will have to look over everything much closer before taking off. I don’t know how kosher it is to use climbing ropes for my running rigging, since they are more elastic likely than normal running rigging(I assume), but I will certainly be salvaging all of my climbing ropes to make it happen.

More than what the boat is now, where it is currently bent me toward buying it. I drove to Port Aransas one day and was pleased to discover there were surfers in the water. This east facing coastline gets much more surf than where I was previously in Freeport, the pier and jetty there help to shape the sand beneath of course too. Also, everybody that I was meeting at that live-aboard marina was nice and offering a hand when needed. They all realize what work a boat can be. I have two five gallon batches of homemade wine right now, and I was thinking I should take them as my bartering tool for labor. I will also be able to feed a few people, since I’ll be harvesting the totality of my garden while I’m back home in Grand Junction. Most of the people in Rockport are dead broke though, not much of an economy in the winter is the word that I got. The guy on a trawler next to me tried to sell me a bag of tools, possibly one that was taken from the boat I bought. In the repossession, or perhaps another time, the lock was removed from the cabin. The previous owner told me that he had a bag of tools on the boat, which weren’t there. Stolen as well was standing rigging and running rigging that he said were in a shed which was available to all the other people with a slip at his previous marina. Someone is being dishonest, but I can’t really tell whom. I have come to expect some dishonesty in people more and more. A damn shame, and one reason that I want to set sail. I try to be candid.

I drove back from Texas yesterday and of course had to stop in on the ten acres of raw land that I bought to hopefully homestead on. I made mention of the two three hundred gallon water tanks that were stolen from the property at the county store and the two there told me it was probably those texans, and maybe if I talked around I could find them and get them back if they weren’t sold off already. The store clerks were older, with weathered skin, looking to be in their sixties. The lady told me that she “lived on a boats for twenty years!” I don’t know that I’m headed on that Dhamma path but it was sure fun to find some camaraderie in her. She reminded me that b-o-a-t stands for “break out another thousand.” Fair enough.

Today while driving I serendipitously found a ribbed inflatable boat for only seven hundred dollars; keep in mind these often sell for two thousand. This guy only does two days of selling every year, and I happened to get back from Texas one day before he quit, and had that very morning been looking at life rafts(with the rusted standing rigging in mind). Is it bad to make big life decisions on the whim of a feeling of auspicious happenings? I don’t think so. But it sure doesn’t help my budget. I probably shouldn’t have, yet I know that if I need to sell it when I get down there and am hungry, starving, from depleting my resources with no work, then I can. Also I think there is a church nearby that does meals, so I heard a little birdie say. Rice and beans every day. Rice and beans.

I still think sometimes if the 31 ft seafarer would have not been a better boat, but then reminisce on her loose stations and failing mizzen rigging and I think I made the right choice. Also that lead keel she’s got doesn’t make her fast. When I first boarded I had noticed how it rocked a lot with the narrower beam. That coupled with the statement by the previous owner that “you gotta worry about getting seasick” made me think that it may have been an issue for muddy or myself. Not that I’m not buying the ‘behind the ear’ sea sickness patches before I depart.

Saw this quote recently and it made me smile:

img_0163 img_0161 The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William A. Ward

Larry’s gigin’ em

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Well, today I am in Rockport, TX: it is still hot. I have been ready to head back to Colorado several times, but keep getting distracted by my dream of sailing. I found a thirty-nine foot sloop, the Flying Cloud, here in Rockport as I was checking up on another boat, a 35′ Erickson. Oh how I long for the open water and anchoring out on remote beaches! Wish I had my surf boards: sad face.

Last night I slept in my hammock next to some salt grass flats. There was a guy out in the water with a coleman propane lantern with a hand made backing plate to direct the light toward the water. He had a gig in his hand, and his girlfriend was keeping him company along the shoreline after being gouged by the residual clam shells. Larry and Christina were very friendly folks, as I have found many of these jolly Texans to be. We chatted shortly about how to prepare a flounder, and the in’s and outs of landing the elusive fish with his gig. “you have to look at the edge of the light for em’, not in the center” he told me “your lookin’ for a football outline”. All the while he was shuffling his feet and poking and prodding the shallow sandy bottom, “stingrays in here too”. Larry would later show me his swelled up leg from an apparent stingray attack, “I didn’t think it got me, I stepped on it and It was wigglin’ around when I kicked it away with my other foot”. Larry is an ex-marine, and his experience embody’s his motto “salt life man, salt life”. The allure is there for me as well. I love the untamed nature of the ocean. The free passage of shark, and whale, and sailboat to any horizon. Never sure what will be beneath you or around the corner, just another part of the food chain out there.  Larry also gave me the shrimp that he got with his cast net earlier, unnecessarily kind.  After ripping the head off they were ready for the skillet.  We exchanged numbers as I made my first good friend in Rockport, and I look forward to learning all that I can about ocean fishing from him before my departure.  

While writing this at the Texas Donut Shop I just made another new friend. His name is Scott, and he came up to use my phone because the cell towers here are intermittent at the moment. We got to talking about his life, it is his birthday and he is 44 years young. Last night he told me that he had resolved to hang himself, and posted something with that in mind on facebook. Of course there was an outpouring from his friends and family of love and hope, I’m getting teary now thinking of it. Anyhow, I’m waiting on a phone call for that 39′ Colombia, and we are going to hit the beach as soon as he gets back from wal-mart. If anybody needs a friend right now it’s Scott.

Welp, not that boat

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Well, the boat was a piece o’ shit. I knew it had been a while since the hull was painted, but I also found out that the boat was owned by this guy for three years, and It looks as though they were three years of neglect. She was taken out on fishing trips a few times, running the outboard only. If I remember right the guy also told me it had an inboard. One of the pieces of the standing rigging on the mizzen mast was coming out through the fiberglass. All guy wires for the mizen were mounted with rotted wood through the fiberglass. The batteries were done half assed, the head didn’t work(yet), and the stove was also inoperable at the moment, but ran on butane, which was new to me. The guy was also not going to give up the sails, two different sized genoas for the asking price. She was also a lot smaller than I had anticipated. It was brought to my knowledge today when talking to some of the fishermen at the beach that Freeport harbor is one of the cheapest places around to store a boat, and may not be the ideal spot to find a boat. Said fisherman also made reference to oil being ‘organic’ and that much of the deepwater horizon spill in 2011 just naturally disappeared. On another note, one of his friends was murdered here on the beach that I plan to spend the night, and there was a recent beheading. “the mexicans are crazy here, I don’t mean that in a racist way” is what was relayed to me. He said that I should sleep with the revolver that I brought along. I may just do that. Bryan beach I guess is dangerous.

It is wonderful to connect with the ocean again. It has been such a long time. I do however find myself wishing that I had spent the gas money on a trip to San Diego instead, for the reasons that my surfboard and my friends are there. I am starting to doubt the greatness of my idea to spend the winter on a sailboat and sell it before trying to get settled on my land. I am also in doubt as to whether I want to be there in rural Cotopaxi at all. Yet it’s all I have. My little place on this planet.

Arrival at the Gulf!

 

 

 

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It is late in the evening now, and the moonrise was all that can be asked for in such an event. Adding to the excitement that I had just sat for two whole days in the car. I left Gunnison around One O’clock on saturday and was pretty much driving, aside form sleeping 11-645 somewhere in the plains of texas. My back aches, and my rump is sore. It is incredibly hot and muggy here, I cannot believe how much so. Muddy and myself got to play in the warm water of the gulf this evening also. Since the moon is very close to full, we got to see a nice moonrise shortly after sunset. It is close to half way to the zenith by now. Muddy had enough light to chase the bubbles in the surf back until they were wiped out by the oncoming wave. Muddy was also able to see his first crab! There were several cars and trucks parked here next to the beach when I was coming up the back way, they were apparently also snagging crabs. Perhaps the full moon brings them out hunting? The crabs I mean. They had a beautiful blue hue to them, and the one that muddy cornered out of the ocean sidestepped around until I called muddy off the poor thing. My clothes are stuck to my skin, and there is a solid layer of liquid coming from my sweat glands. I will certainly need to drink water to stay hydrated in this climate! Ahh those damn mosquitos. I killed about fifty so far. Still trying to discern how they continue to multiply in the topper of my truck bed; but they are a continuous stream. I will certainly look forward to this place being a little cooler in one month. Sailing tends to be cooler with the wind always removing some heat by evaporative cooling. I look forward to tomorrow. Until then, I’ll be a soggy new salt in my truck bed: as opposed to the old salt that I’ll lay claim when I sail across the gulf, or toward Florida.

Texas road trip

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Well, I’m in Texas now. A lucky turn of events allowed me to sell my pears all in one go, the thirty boxes I hauled to Salida, CO from Grand Junction, and head directly for texas several days early. I was also fortunate enough to have the timing align so that I could help my old roommate, Kay, who was doing maintenance around the home I lived in while I was attending Western State Colorado University, WSCU, and living in Gunnison, CO. I am at a picnic grounds between Vernon and Chillicothe, and the roasted peppers that I got from the vendor who bought my pears are delicious with the rice that I was able to cook up quickly. Last night there was a huge thunderstorm that was perpetually on the horizon, clouds thousands of feet tall flickering with lightning, mesmerizing. I couldn’t have picked a more interesting time to drive through Texas. I have seen many turkey vultures, and it might only be me, but they seem to be larger in Texas. My excitement grows as I draw closer and closer to seeing the boat, though I seems it may have to wait until tomorrow. Damn those peppers are SPICY! I tried to remove all the seeds! I have been exposed to many commercials on the radio already (more society than I bargained for), including some which are pushing for the public to remove standing water from around their homes and to always wear pants, long sleeves, and EPA approved mosquito repellent in order to repel the recent Zika virus. The new Zika epidemic has become a problem recently, creating some birth defects in Brazil especially. Because of the hard rain late last night the humidity is very high, and I’m becoming nostalgic thinking of all the time I spent by the ocean in San Diego. What a magical thing the ocean is. Our Planets regulatory organ; Distributing heat throughout the globe.

Every town that I drive through seems no different than the last. Water towers are ubiquitous. Dilapidated barns and brick industrial buildings. Lots of farming going on here, the water pipes mounted on wheels fifteen feet above the crops, with hanging sprinkler systems. None are operating for the rain, but on a hot summer day I’m sure many of these can be seen roadside creeping across the landscape giving water and life to the crops and those who will eat them later.

Traveling is a good reminder to be always in the moment(just as a locomotive passes by sounding the horn). If you cannot find happiness in this moment, what makes you think that the next will be truly as you expect it? Keeping in mind my hustle to bolt to Houston so that the current owner of “Keen Breeze” doesn’t sell her before I get a chance to sail her. Well got to go! There is road to put behind me!

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