US Land Logs 4, Year 4: Saying Farewell to Ziggy and to Santa Fe

US Land Logs 4, Year 4: Saying Farewell to Ziggy and to Santa Fe
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Weather: Blue Skies, Sunny, Temps in Mid-70’s
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

We are sitting in the airport terminal in Albuquerque waiting for our 10:24 am flight to Denver. From there we fly to Chicago and then on to Providence, Rhode Island where our son-in-law Jed will pick us up at 9:30 this evening. Yesterday was a tough day. Every time we would walk from our casita to Justin and Jo’s I would get teary-eyed thinking about leaving Ziggy, Justin, and Jo. Ziggy was one month-old last Thursday and yesterday he weighed in at 8 pounds 8 ounces. He was so tiny when we arrived but now he is starting to get chubby little cheeks, fingers, and toes. It is going to be very hard to leave him. We hope to see him again before we return to Malaysia in late fall, and in the meantime, we will see him via Skype video and continue to watch him grow. We had an interesting conversation with Jo and her parents last evening about just how huge this country is and how far apart families live from each other. In England where they live, nothing is more than a couple of hours away. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! But here we just have to get on a plane and fly across the country. Of course, while sad to leave Ziggy, we are very excited to be going to Cape Cod to see Sam, Heather, and Jed. And in about five weeks, we will have another grandchild there. And that is very exciting.

The weather in Santa Fe has been spectacular and we are going to miss that as well. Springtime in New England is beautiful, but it won’t be sunny and in the mid-70’s everyday as it is here. So we have lived everyday of the past week to the fullest. We started our week working in the garden. Tuesday night we went out to dinner at the CowGirl restaurant in downtown Santa Fe to say farewell to Jo’s sister Katherine. She flew back to England on Wednesday. Then on Thursday we had a one-month birthday celebration for Ziggy. And Mirabelle came home from the VW shop just in time for the birthday party. On Saturday we rented a car and took Justin, Jo, and Ziggy for a day out in Taos. There is a high road and a low road leading to Taos. The high road has gorgeous mountain scenery and is very green. The low road is the fastest but it winds through dry country that has a very different kind of beauty. The difference in the scenery on the two roads was truly unbelievable. Taos is a tourist town at the base of the highest peaks in the area which also makes it a ski town in the winter. We had a wonderful lunch on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in downtown Taos, wandered though the plaza, and visited the Taos pueblo north of town. On the way home we stopped to see the Santuario de Chimayo. To top off a fantastic day, we had dinner back in Santa Fe at a Thai restaurant. Our waitress was from Krabi, an area of Thailand that we really enjoyed visiting in Windbird. Just talking to her made us homesick for Windbird but we hear from friends that Windbird is doing just fine in our absence.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and Justin, Phil, and Mark prepared a fantastic brunch for us. Justin and Jo gave the grandmothers each a photo of them with Ziggy and each mother was presented with a beautiful rose. We sat and talked and ate for almost three hours, and then later in the evening we had the whole gang over to our casita for a southwest dinner of chili and polenta. Yesterday we packed and did the last little bit of work on Mirabelle and the garden. Then we all went out for sushi. We said our farewells to Jo’s parents after dinner. We have so enjoyed getting to know them and already look forward to the next time we get to see them. We ended our last evening in Santa Fe by being treated to desert at Justin and Jo’s-chocolate brownies fresh out of the oven with raspberries and Rice Dream ice cream. What a treat. We smothered Ziggy with hugs and kisses and said our goodbyes for now to Justin and Jo.

It’s time for take-off, so I’d better send this while I’m still connected to the internet. I’ll post another log when we reach Cape Cod.

Note: Actually I didn’t get to post this log before leaving Albuquerque, so it is being posted a couple of days later. We are now on Cape Cod. Our flights here went without a hitch from Albuquerque to Denver, Denver to Chicago, and Chicago to Providence. Heather, Jed, and Sam are doing great and we are already settled in here. I’ll write a log this weekend to update our activities since arriving here.

090508 New Mexico–Santa Fe Walkabout
090509 New Mexico–Trip to Taos
090510 New Mexico–Mother’s Day
090511 New Mexico–Last Week in Santa Fe
090511 New Mexico–Saying Farewell

US Land Logs 3, Year 4: Second Week in Santa Fe

US Land Logs 3, Year 4: Second Week in Santa Fe
Date: Monday, May 4, 2009
Weather: Sunny and Warm; PM Temps Hovering Around 70
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

This time last year we were just arriving in Australia after spending five months in the US. One month ago we were still in Phuket, Thailand, and had just gotten Windbird back in the water after her refit. I’m really having trouble believing that it has only been a month since we were in Phuket, but the calendar tells me this is true. How time does fly and this past week was no exception. This was the week of Mirabelle. Mirabelle is Justin and Jo’s 1973 bright yellow VW Beetle whose engine needed some serious help. Mark and Justin decided they could take the engine out and they did this working only in the afternoons on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, Jo’s parents rented a car to go to Albuquerque to pick up Jo’s sister Katherine, so Jo went along with Ziggy and Mirabelle’s engine which she traded in for a rebuilt. All Thursday afternoon, Mark and Justin followed the VW manual directions for reattaching everything to the engine and hoped to have it installed by the end of the day. But there was a hitch. A bolt coming out of the engine to which the heat exchanger would attach was the problem. The bolt was fine but the threads in the engine were stripped so the bolt could not attach anything. So Friday morning we rented a car and Mark took the engine into a local VW garage to have the machine work done. After talking to the mechanic, however, Mark made the decision to tow the car to the garage and have the mechanic do the engine installation. The installation will be on us, but Mark just felt that he couldn’t learn enough fast enough to do the job right. We still don’t have Mirabelle back, but hopefully she will return tomorrow in good working order.

Late Friday afternoon, Justin, Jo, and Ziggy played music at the art gallery where Jo’s art is on display. It was a lovely evening. Ziggy arrived attached to the front of Jo with the most amazing baby wrap I have ever seen. Jo just whips the Moby wrap around Ziggy and off they go. Ziggy slept attached to his mom while she and Justin played their music. Since both sets of grandparents and Jo’s sister were there, we finally convinced Jo that she must let us hold Ziggy. We all danced around with Ziggy and enjoyed the music. After the performance, Justin, Jo, and Ziggy came to our casita for dinner. It was the perfect end to a busy week. It had been such a busy week, however, that we all decided to take the weekend off. So Jo’s parents and sister headed to Albuquerque on the train while Mark and I just stayed close to home. I’m working desperately to get a pair of overalls embroidered for Ziggy and Mark can always find things to search on the internet. We did take a walk downtown on Saturday afternoon just to check out some of the shops, but that was the extent of our activity. On Sunday, Mark and I took the bus to Museum Hill. There are three museums there, but the most striking thing is the setting. The hill overlooks Santa Fe and gives a great view of the surrounding mountains. We walked more than halfway back to town just to enjoy the desert hilltop scenery. It is beautiful.

Sunday evening was the highlight of the week. Both sets of grandparents and Auntie Katherine all gathered at Justin and Jo’s for a Sunday night barbeque. Jo’s dad bought a tent gazebo for the backyard and he trekked from his casita through the neighborhood streets with the barbecue grill so we could grill out at Justin and Jo’s. We all sat under the gazebo and enjoyed Ziggy and a great dinner. We had fish, shrimp, chicken, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and a salad. It was quite a feast and a great family gathering.

Week three in Santa Fe will be spent doing more gardening and all of the odd jobs that we started in week one and never finished. Thursday is Ziggy’s one month birthday, so we will certainly have to celebrate that in style. We are going to Taos on Saturday and spending Mother’s Day Sunday back here in Santa Fe. By this time next week, we will be packing our bags and getting ready to head to Albuquerque to catch our flight east. Then we start all over again getting ready for grandchild #3 on Cape Cod in June. It’s a wonderful life!

090502 New Mexico–Last Week of April in Santa Fe
090503 New Mexico–Sunday in Santa Fe

US Land Logs 2, Year 4: Watching Ziggy Grow

US Land Logs 2, Year 4: Watching Ziggy Grow
Date: Saturday, April 24, 2009
Weather: Partly Cloudy Day; 60 degrees F; Windy
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

It is truly hard for us to believe that we have been back in the USA for over a week now. We have been incredibly busy and have vowed to slow down, make contact with friends both in this country and back in Southeast Asia, and just enjoy our time here in New Mexico. But we have certainly enjoyed watching Ziggy grow this week. He changes a little everyday. He is an amazingly good baby, fussing only when he is hungry or needs a diaper changed. He has worked all week to suck his thumb and he has been successful. Justin and Jo are both totally smitten with him as well as both sets of grandparents.

We arrived in Santa Fe when it was freezing and snowing, but that quickly went away and most days are sunny with temps in the upper 60’s, sometimes moving into the lower 70’s. Santa Fe is a high-desert town sitting 7,000 miles above sea level and we have actually been having some difficulty adjusting to that. When we walk long distances or work hard in Justin and Jo’s backyard, we wear out rather quickly. Maybe we are just feeling the stress of age, but since we could work long days in the 90+ degree heat in Thailand without wearing out like this, we are thinking it is the altitude.

Santa Fe is a picturesque little downtown with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains rising up steeply in the background to their snow-capped tops. Most of the buildings and homes in town are built of adobe or a modern version of adobe. The architecture is a mix of Pueblo and Pueblo-influenced Spanish buildings. The one thing it lacks is an ocean, but there is a tiny little river that runs through town and today we went with Justin, Jo, and Ziggy, and Jo’s parents for a delightful picnic lunch by the river in downtown Santa Fe. After lunch, we walked into the downtown area. We first visited the gallery where Jo’s art is on display at the Arte Bella gallery. We then walked into the heart of downtown where Justin used his newly acquired street performer’s license to entertain us with his guitar music in the square. Ziggy was quite a champ through all of this. He is quite adaptable.

Justin and Jo live within walking distance of the downtown area in a lovely neighborhood. Everyone keeps their adobe painted and their yards landscaped. We have watched the spring bloom of tulips and flowering trees and bushes. Lilac is even beginning to bloom here. So we are really enjoying spring in the desert. We are also enjoying Santa Fe’s great bus transportation system. We have used it extensively this past week searching for a few pieces of furniture for Justin, Jo, and Ziggy. We searched all the thrift stores and came up with a great little dining table with four chairs and a 6-drawer chest for Ziggy’s clothes that also serves as his changing table. In doing this, we have become very familiar with the 8 miles just south of town. When not shopping, we have been working in Justin and Jo’s backyard to dog-proof the garden areas. Justin and Jo have a big dog named Alfie who loves to dig holes in the garden and a smaller dog named Lulu who just likes to eat baby clothes. So we are working on both fronts to dog-proof Ziggy’s clothes and the garden.

Last night we went out to dinner with friends from Concord, New Hampshire, Alice and Houston Davis. The first winter we lived aboard our boat in Boston we actually spent four nights a week in Concord house sitting Alice and Houston’s home. They had just retired and moved to Santa Fe and wanted someone in the house until they put it on the market. They live in a beautiful spot just northwest of downtown. It was great seeing friends from back home and we plan to see them again before we head east.

So at the end of one week, we are quite nicely settled into life in Santa Fe. We love our little casita. It is very close to Justin and Jo’s, so we get to visit them and Ziggy everyday. This next week we will continue gardening work and possibly do some local travel by bus and train. We are getting to know Jo’s parents and on Wednesday, her sister arrives. We look forward to meeting Katherine, just hanging out with family, and continuing to watch Ziggy grow.

090425 New Mexico–Watching Ziggy Grow

US Land Logs 1, Year 4: Ziggy is Adorable!

US Land Logs 1, Year 4: Ziggy is Adorable!
Date: Friday, April 17, 2009
Weather: Snowy Day; 32 degrees F
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seeing your grandchild for the first time is worth about anything. Even a ferry ride from Rebak to Langkawi . . . a taxi across Langkawi to Kuah . . . a ferry to Penang . . . a taxi from port to hotel . . . a little sleep . . . a taxi to airport . . . a 5-hour flight to Hong Kong . . . a 12-hour flight
to Los Angeles-no sleep . . . a bus to train station . . . a Southwest Chief 18-hour train ride to Lamy, New Mexcio-some sleep . . . a shuttle van to Santa Fe . . . and then a walk through the snow with only sandals on. All this and we made it a day sooner than we thought. Somehow we miscalculated not including the day we gained crossing the dateline. So when we called Justin, he was just a little surprised. But he met us on the corner next to our home for the next three weeks and then we walked through the snow to meet Ziggy. Yes, it is snowing here. It probably snowed two-inches today and all of it is hanging on the pine trees. It is beautiful but it is freezing. We opted not to bring any shoes home with us, only the Tevas we were wearing and some wool socks we packed. Bad choice. Our feet were soaked and freezing by the time we got to Justin and Jo’s, but the first look at Ziggy warmed our hearts and our toes. He is so tiny and so beautiful. He has what I would call strawberry blonde hair, his mother’s lips, his grandfather Hunt’s chin, and Justin’s nose. Not sure about the eyes, but they are beautiful and he is very alert when he is awake. He is a
sleeper, however, and Justin and Jo say he is the best baby in the whole world. He just eats and sleeps and only complains when he has a dirty diaper. After a wonderful visit and a warm cup of tea, Justin, Mark, and I walked to the little shopping center not far away and all bought a new pair of sneakers. Justin then headed home and Mark and I did some shopping at Trader Joe’s before heading back to our casita with bags of groceries. We called a cab to come take us home. The cab driver asked why we were visiting in Santa Fe and when we told him we had come to meet our grandchild he asked if it was the little one born a couple of weeks early. The same cab driver had taken Justin from the hospital to buy a car seat and just yesterday had delivered Jo’s parents from Trader Joe’s to their little casita. He assured us that we were going to get along because we both bought the same things-fresh fruit, veggies, and beer. Jo’s parents were preparing and delivering dinner for Justin and Jo tonight. So Jo thought it would be nice for all of us to have dinner together at her parent’s casita tomorrow night as they have a table for six. Justin and Jo don’t have a table and chairs and we only have a little one seating four. We are all within walking distance so it is like we have established a family
neighborhood here overnight. I’m not sure Mark and I are going to survive the cold, snowy weather without buying some warm clothes. We have jeans with us and light weight jackets, but only short-sleeved shirts. Jo warned us to bring clothing for cold weather, but the suitcases just wouldn’t accommodate. And unfortunately, warm weather is not in the forecast.

Back to the trip home . . . We had uneventful flights which was wonderful, but both Mark and I had trouble sleeping. Once we got on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief we definitely decided that we prefer traveling on trains rather than air planes. The Southwest runs from LA to Flagstaff to Albuquerque and Lamy (just outside Santa Fe) and on to Chicago. We arrived in Flagstaff at sunrise this morning and everything was covered in white. It took me a minute to focus and realize that they white was snow. That was our first clue that we were in for some cold weather. We didn’t pay for sleeper cars but rather slept in the regular coach section. The seats are like recliner
chairs which are much more comfortable than airplane seats. The food was great and moderately priced, so all in all the train ride was a good

Travel is behind us now, at least for three weeks, so we will concentrate on life here in Santa Fe. We got a couple of really cute photos of Ziggy today that we will post with this log. We’ll also include a couple of photos of the snow. Enjoy!

090417 New Mexico–Back in the USA

Day 175, Year 4: A Little Too Optimistic

Day 175, Year 4: A Little Too Optimistic
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Weather: Rain Overnight; Partly Sunny Day
Location: The Malaysia Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

When I reread last night’s log, I had to laugh. I said we were almost ready to go and at that point I thought we were. But at 1:15 this afternoon I was still cleaning as Mark was carrying the luggage to the ferry dock where we were to catch the 1:30 ferry to Langkawi. I also said I’d write another log before leaving the marina. That’s even funnier. I thought we were leaving the marina at 3:30, but Mark thought that was cutting it too close. So the decision was made to leave at 1:30 giving me
two less hours to get things done. So my optimism from last evening faded away. Even though I started my day very early, I had to work every second as hard as I could to make the deadline. Mark had changed the engine oil and fuel filters yesterday, but we had to clean out the water tanks this morning and clean out the refrig and freezer and find a new home for all the food. I got up very early to go do the last laundry. It was so early in fact that it was still dark out and the electricity hadn’t
been turned. I found a security guard who showed me how to turn on the power and had the laundry washed and well on its way to being dried by 8:30 a.m.

Noel Bradley, the man who will look after Windbird while we are gone, came over to run through the twice monthly maintenance routine. Windbird is all wrapped up in silver tarps and that lovely red and white candy-striped sun shade. She looks secure but just a little on the tacky side. It was the best we could do with the materials available, but when we go back to Phuket next year, we will definitely have a classy cover made to match her new good looks. After Noel left, it was the ‘little’ things
that needed to be done that took so much time. Mark couldn’t close the sea cocks until I was finished using water, and I’m sure he thought I was never going to be done. But the bottom line is that we did do it. We are both beat from working so hard in the heat the past four days, but right now we are sitting in an air conditioned Starbucks at the Ferry Terminal waiting for our 5:15 ferry to the mainland. We should be in our hotel room by 8 pm and then up at 5 am so we can get to the airport for
our 8 am flight. It takes about an hour to get from downtown Penang to the airport, so it will be another early morning. Both of us are looking forward to getting on the plane and sleeping all the way to Hong Kong and then all the way to LA.

So it is time to say farewell to this cruising season and to so many good friends. To all of you who read these logs and send comments from time to time, we will miss you. We can only receive those comments when we are in a port with internet and it is so exciting when we do check and receive your messages. It is wonderful to hear from the folks back home. Cheryl, I’m really hoping to meet you this year while we are home. And Rich, I finally got those pictures of that Pacific Seacraft that
we admired back in November when we first arrived at Rebak Marina. The boat’s name is Island Nomad and she is our berth buddy while we are gone. Her captain, Dennis, and his wife Judy left yesterday. I’ll send those photos to you when we reach New Mexico. Judith, we think of you often and do hope to see you again when we visit friends in Concord. Alan and Helaine, you are always there with information and words of encouragement. We really appreciated your email today. To good friends back
home from NHPR-Scott, Doreen, and Beth, and to friends of mine from years with the Concord School District-Linda and Michael, Tom and Detta, Barbara and Chris, among others–we love hearing from you and can’t wait to see you while we are in the USA. And there are a few of you who continually send us technical information when needed-Stephen, Michael, Larry, David, Bob. We do so appreciate your advice and expertise. Last but not least are our sailing buddies out here. We check in on their websites
and they check in on ours from time to time to see just where in the world we are. The internet helps to bring us all together.

To my daughter Heather and her husband Jed, thank you for all the things you do for us to keep us going. Heather receives all our mail and deals with the financial end of things back home. To our son Justin and his wife Jo, thank you for all you to in keeping the website up and running. It was Justin’s idea to do this blog and the blog is his design. So it is really Justin that makes our communication possible. My sister Patsy and my sister-in-law Sue are two of my most dedicated readers and
they keep us up-to-date on what’s happening back home. And then there are the lurkers that we never hear from but we know you are there. I think my brother’s friend, Wade, is at the top of the lurker list. There have been a few times when he has read our log even before my sister and he keeps my non-computer user brother informed of our activities. A big heap of thanks and appreciation all of you.

Update: We are now in Penang. We had a moment of fear when we first arrived with our four huge bags, two backpacks, and one carry-on. The ferry was unloading from the top deck and we were one below. But finally a crew member saw our situation and magically opened a door through which our suitcases could be hoisted up to ground level. The ferry terminal here is not modern and fancy like in Langkawi. We were deposited on a dirt landing with no terminal. We carried the bags through puddles of
water to a ‘hole in the wall’ where we did find taxis. A wonderful man who spoke good enough English got us to our hotel and made sure we had a room before leaving us. We love Thailand but the language barrier there is huge. Here, almost everyone speaks some English, so it is much easier to get information. We checked-in, got a wireless username and password, and headed out to dinner. We know almost nothing about Penang because we have had no time to do research, but I check my handy Lonely
Planet and found a great Japanese restaurant only a block away. We were in a mood to celebrate and ate and drank our way through almost $100 US in sushi, sashimi, and Sapporo. That was quite a splurge for us, but it went a long way towards reviving us. So New Mexico here we come!

I will post a log in Hong Kong tomorrow if there is wireless, which I would think there will be and then not again until Saturday or Sunday when we arrive in New Mexico. So until then . . .

090415 Day 175 Langkawi, Malaysia–Leaving Malaysia

Day 174, Year 4 Happy Birthday to My Brother Dickel

Day 174, Year 4 Happy Birthday to My Brother Dickel
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Weather: Partly Sunny Day with Threatening Dark Clouds
Location: Rebak Marina, Langkawi, Malaysia

Since I am never exactly sure how old I am, I am guessing that my brother is 74 today. He was twelve when I was born and immediately became my surrogate parent. My mom and dad were in their 40’s and had “been there, done that” with four other children. So my brother Dickel did some of the important things like taking me drag racing in his 1955 red and white Chevy and then walking me to school on my first day. So Dickel, I hope you had a great birthday. I love you so much and look forward to seeing you soon when we return home.

We spent our day working, working, working to get Windbird ready to leave. We are almost there. We left her in New Zealand for only a couple a months that first year. Year Two ended in Australia and we left Windbird for almost six months. Year Three is ending in Malaysia and we will be leaving Windbird here for more than seven months. The climate here is more intense and the preparation is equally as intense. But we are almost there. We have traveled many miles since leaving Boston in October of 2005. Each cruising season has had its own flavor, but I must say that this year has been totally unbelievable. We started with a two month trek up the east coast of Australia and across to the top to Darwin. We then spent three fantastic months in Indonesia and ended with a month in Singapore. We then traveled north to Langkawi in Malaysia and then on to Thailand. We had wonderful visits with friends Kevin and Claire and then by our daughter Heather, her husband Jed, and our grandson Sam. We have enjoyed every minute of the past 340 days but we are now looking forward to our trip home. We just can’t wait to meet our second grandest child, Ziggy, in person. And after that, we travel to Cape Cod to be there for the arrival of Sam’s brother or sister in late June. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I will post one last farewell log tomorrow before we leave Rebak and then I hope to post weekly logs until we return to the cruising life late next fall.