Now that you have had several months to enjoy perusing the fun photos of our grandbabies, I present the story of the rest of our visit to the mainland and pictures of our return to Windigo:
THIS ELETTER IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
I have become involved with this movement in an interesting way,
which will be revealed in the eLetter.
You may gather some facts at:
Spiritual Humanism Description
I have removed the link to this particular Spiritual Humanism Description because I may agree with the authors 'words' but someone very close to me disagrees with his tatics.:
Spiritual Humanism Manifesto
Why Am I Involved in Spiritual Humanism
<http://www.ciekurzis.org/Why Spiritual Humanism.htm>
And now, the eLetter:
As you know from the last eLetter, Karin & I had a fabulous time with Summer & Joshua with a 6,000-mile road trip to sightsee and visit friends and relatives across the country. This whole trip was made possible because my mother has convenient transportation available where she lives and decided to give up the expenses and hassle of owning a car. Without any coercion (honest!) she gave her car to us and we drove it back and forth across the country, selling it at the conclusion of the visits that would cover all the costs of the trip.
Windigo was left anchored in US waters at Christensted, St. Croix under the watchful eye of Dan and Kimber who live there on Snark. [They were very thoughtful and flexible custodians, as my 'one-week-to-ten-day' trip grew to last SIX WEEKS!]
A little more background: Karin had spent a year living in Wisconsin while I worked and traveled in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. She longed to returned to Windigo, but instead of just flying back and continuing our routine, we thought to spend some time with the grandbabies and visit my mom. So we had asked my mom if we could "borrow" her car to see Summer & Joshua, and we both flew to her home in Las Vegas . . .
Upon arriving in Las Vegas, we had a great visit with my mom, and helped her with some problematic paperwork and 'doctor stuff'. She had been a bit under the weather with various issues, and was falling behind or not 'getting around' to completing several projects. We worked together and got caught up; and even better, recently she enjoyed cataract surgery in both eyes and now has a new lease on life! As the last pictorial eLetter showed, we took each of the grandbabies on a road trip, stopping at Grandma Ardes' each time.
Another very cool thing that occurred while visiting California was I got to spend time with both my children, especially my son JB. We have been mostly estranged for some time, but our meeting this summer was perhaps a renewal of some type of relationship. I am hopeful to communicate with him again.
After the final good byes were expressed in California and Las Vegas, Karin & I worked our way back across the country (AGAIN!) stopping in on various friends and family. We didn't have much of a plan, but we figured we would work our way back to Florida as this would be the closest air terminal to return to St. Croix.
Our first stop was actually a bust = we stopped in at the home of our friend Cliff Philpott near Phoenix, AZ; but it turned out that he was on a special photography tour in the Pacific Northwest. Bummer for us - Cool for him. And I was ready to talk him into visiting us again on Windigo in the Caribbean.
(see Cliff's previous Windigo adventure at:
We crossed the bulk of America (5th crossing of over 1000 miles this trip) as far south as we could, enjoying desert scenery in Arizona and New Mexico; spending almost a thousand miles in Texas (I waved to Martha in Chihuahua as we passed); driving over all the water of Louisiana (I think there is only 500 feet of land across southern LA); across Mississippi; until our first destination in Alabama. We followed a load of hay over half of the trip!
Using a hotplate we picked up in California, we found electrical outlets along the way to fix meals. Occasionally, we found a SuperCenter to indulge in the finer foods (refrigerated!). THIS is economy travel!
We drove through much of the area affected by the 2004/5 storms; As I have been in the area several times since the damage, it was interesting to see the progress (or lack thereof) in the restoration efforts.
Arriving in Mobile was very special for Karin as she had not been back since we left in 2002 after living there almost a year. I have returned several times during boat deliveries, but was still excited to see our friends there.
First stop was Joe & Jeanne Bru's house on the Dog River. Joe used to live on a trawler with his family, but now has the best of both worlds as he sleeps in a nice condo, but has access to the water in a minute. We toured the waterway near his home, and visited with Jeanne's brother & family.
Joe's son Dylan, who was only 9-years-old the first time we passed through Mobile, stopped in for a visit. He started college this year.
Joe & I also took a road trip to pick up a transmission from Florida for his other boat. We stopped at the brand new Bass Pro Shop in Fairhope, AL and saw an old friend, Jeff Comer. It was such an impressive store, that I brought Karin there later to see the giant fish tank and the unending wildlife displays.
Karin & I visited Cliff Lockett at The Sundowner Marina where we used to live. His place is nicely recovered from the storm damage and has many more boats in slips than when we lived there.
We also popped in at the Grand Mariner across the way, another place Windigo had been berthed. It is as old and crappy as ever.
While in the old neighborhood, it was great to meet up with Chris & Kim Roh; we met at the restaurant where Chris' daughter, Noelle works. She had just turned 10-years-old when we lived there! Seeing these kids grown up was a special treat.
We also stopped by to see Steve "Fish" Savell on his new boat, as "Fish's Bar & Grill" had sunk since our departure.
Speaking of grown-up kids, we spent a day with David and Emilia at their new home in Mobile. They had been cruising, but have the boat put up in a boatyard for repairs and have purchased a nice house in mobile. They have been spending their time working on the boat, taking classes and generally enjoying life.
But during our visit we found out that the travel bug had infected them so intensely that they can not wait for the boat to be ready; they were spending each day preparing for a multi-week trip to China! The choice of stops, methods of travel, arrangement of visas, the securing of the homestead, and even the purchase of special luggage suited to the journey was taking all their time and effort, and they were excited!
[They have since posted some pix of their trip at: http://www.travelpod.com/z/gonzdom/1/1250121897]
Next stop was the home of Donny Day, near Ft. Walton Beach. He had recently purchased a house and had invited us to visit any time. It was a great rest stop where we enjoyed his hospitality (and laundry facilities!). We ventured out down to the end of his street to find a geocache, and a most unusual thing happened - we met another couple geocaching at the same time! This is rare occurrence indeed, as our fellow geocacher there, from Indiana, has thousands of 'finds' and has NEVER come across another cacher during the hunt.
From Donny's we heading north, beginning the 6th crossing of America for this trip. We again visited with my sister, Judy, her daughter, Shannon and her kids (we LOVE grandbabies!).
After a couple days of dog-washing (we just watched!), trailer-building, and geocaching with the kids (Augie was the only one to fit under the fence), we bade farewell to the mountains of Tennessee and headed north.
One of the biggest treats of the 2009 USA Tour was the visit with my childhood best friend, Alan Traut. It has been at least two decades since we have gotten together, and neither of us were diligent about staying in contact. Nonetheless, Alan & Teresa invited us to stay at their beautiful home and we had a delightful time.
The Trauts were on the cusp of a full
spectrum of changes, with kids starting college and jobs, finishing college and
high school, and Alan changing jobs. He has ended up in Athens, Georgia, so
remains a firm Yankee transplant in the south. I certainly will work to stay in
contact with each other and having them enjoy a visit to Windigo in the future.
Because of the secure place Windigo was at (THANX Dan & Kimber!) and the circumstances of having the car (THANX Mom!) we were able to spend a great deal of time with our friends Dave & Gail. They were my sailing students years ago and almost immediately bought a very nice boat and lived on it near us in Florida. Gail and Karin have been best friends since then, and saw each other frequently over the course of the previous year.
They kept us warm and dry and well-fed in their gorgeous home on a small lake in the north woods of Michigan. But this fabulous asset is currently a liability for Dave & Gail, as they wish to liquidate it in order to "go to sea", but the depressed home market of Michigan has not allowed this to occur. (If you wish to own an extraordinary house on a private lake in a most beautiful forest for HALF PRICE, let me know! It seems a world away on the end of the peninsula down this road.)
Many other things in Michigan were depressed, also. The roads were all in disrepair and the smaller cities of outlying Detroit were visually run-down with many of the residents that had not left already seeking work. The chasm between urban life and rural living was greater than anywhere else we had visited. What a reversal from a hundred years ago.
We spent tranquil and pleasant days in Michigan with hiking (this is HIKING?), geocaching (lots & lots of geocaching - Karin & I had our biggest day ever = 16 geocaches! Here are some 1- -- 2- -- 3- -- 4- -- 5- -- 6- -- 7), boating & fishing on the lake (sorry for out-fishing you, Dave), sitting around the fire pit, and watching hot-air balloons descend to 'touch' the lake.
Dave & Gail's house was a perfect base to make a side trip through Canada to visit my friend, Doug Milliken. Doug and I have known each other for almost twenty years, although it has been a very long time since we have gotten together. We initially met at the annual gatherings of the Human-Powered Vehicle Association, and have been close friends ever since. Doug is an engineer and scientist; He also imports the very unique Moulton bicycles that Karin and I rode for the first ten years of our liveaboard life. Doug and I have shared the most interesting information, philosophies, and humor over the years, and it was great to have Karin meet him and to finally meet his partner, Donna.
Doug & Donna have recently moved into a new house, and offered to be gracious hosts and tour guides. It so happened that Donna's daughter, Maya was visiting at the same time as our stay; so we had a full house and interesting outings. Although we had been in the States for month, it was still a treat to go to the market; buy wholesome, inexpensive foods; take them to a fully-equipped kitchen; and prepare delicious meals. [This is a very different process than occurs daily on Windigo.]
We walked the locks at the Erie Canal , the first time we have been this close to locks since our Inland Waterway trip on Windigo eight years ago. Walking over and under the waterway was interesting. I saw the remarkable bike trail I have heard so much about (perhaps a future USA Tour?). We all went to Niagara Falls and rode the tour boat that actually goes right below the Falls. Very cool.
The outstanding experience of the visit for me was getting to meet Doug's Mom & Dad. Bill Milliken, Doug's Dad, is one of the most famous aeronautical & automotive engineers of all time. He was also an INFAMOUS race car driver, crashing some of the coolest race cars of his day. (Doug and his Dad continue to publish the most authoritative tome examining the science of automobile suspension and aerodynamics.)
After another nice ride through Canada, we returned for a few more days with Dave & Gail. Then the most amazing thing of the trip happened. Dave & Gail realized the car they drive back-and-forth from Michigan to Florida was falling apart and they needed another one. "Just so happens that I am in the possession of a fine automobile that was formally only driven on Sundays by a little old lady in Las Vegas; And I am willing to make this pristine vehicle available to you for only . . . the cost of this little USA adventure."
So we not only paid for our trip and provided our friends with the transportation they required, we also got a free ride to the Detroit Airport! So after 10,000 miles and six crossings of America, we bade farewell to the fine Chrysler and so long to Dave & Gail (hurry up and get your butts to the Caribbean!).
No, no, NOT the PLANET! Jupiter, FL. Actually, Chuck & Hillary's house is in Palm Beach Gardens; their Custom Door Shop is in Jupiter. So Karin & I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and took the train up to Chuck & Hillary's for a few more days of luxury HOUSE living before returning to Windigo.
Their daughter, Kali was there, just finishing college and waiting for her new job to start. Karin & I dragged her around on bicycles to find a few geocaches in the area. We had a blast, even though one was so tough that it took over an hour and two visits to finally discover.
Hillary has a superb kitchen, and I spent much time cooking my ass off (and eating it back on again!). We also spent much time staring at this strange, large screen with pictures that moved and made noise. It is something we have never had on Windigo, didn't notice at any of our other stops,(but heard Dave & Gail complain their 'cable' was broken). This wonderful diversion is the center of life in the Bale household, and we were sucked in.
We received our mail at the Bale's and did some last-minute shopping. We also received a special guest at their house = the little fellow kept knocking and knocking, he introduced himself, so we let him in. He only wanted a shortcut to the passageway along the wall behind their house, so we entertained him for a while around the pool and helped him through the fence.
AND NOW, AFTER A LONG HIATUS, THE SECTION WITH "FEELINGS" - VIEWS FROM THE FEMALE CREW:
Obviously I'm back on Windigo. I was gone slightly longer than a year with a week visit in between. I worked hard this past year on lots of issues, relating to myself mostly, but also including many family issues that had to be sorted out. I bumped along trying to figure out what was important and what I could do to feel comfortable on Windigo traveling outside the safety net that I had created for myself. Most everyone, including myself knew that I missed Kevin but had to still figure out if sailing was right for me to continue. I did realize after some time that I'm not a sit-at-a-desk kind of person even though the job I had at Morgridge Institute for Research was fantastic. I was privy to important breakthrough discoveries in Stem Cell Research. I learned so much about this field of study and the principle people involved in the research.
Hanging out with Nicholas and Adam [my boys] was the all time high for me and I even got my future daughter-in-law, Jilian, to go geocaching- which put her permanently in my heart. I also spent a lot of time with my brother and his beautiful family while snowmobiling up at their cottage and just hanging out with them. I also went as far as contacting my sister who I hadn't spoken too in about 8 years and we have now reunited and are definitely making up for lost time - blah, blah, blah, blah (you know how women are!)
So now it was time to think about the future so I decided that I would put as much effort as I could into learning how to sail so I would feel comfortable going back on the boat without all the anxieties that I had been experiencing there. So I called my friend, Gail and we decided that we would go to Sea School together and get Captain's license. We decided that studying together would be a great way to stay focused - plus hang out together!. So off to Florida I went and we were successful and are now OUPV Maritime Marine Captains. Then back to work for a week and then back to Florida to take some advanced sailing classes. I wanted to take the classes from a woman instructor because everything I had previously learned was on Windigo with Kevin teaching me. This wasn't a bad thing but I needed a different perspective and was promised that women could do things differently and still be effective. I leaned a lot and passed the 103/104 certification tests with flying colors. NOW I WAS READY TO SAIL and realized that I finally felt comfortable on the water.
After informing Kevin that I would be back in May (he had been so patient) we decided to meet in Las Vegas and visit his mom and then his grandchildren. You already know about how much fun we had with the grandchildren but the true highlight for me was spending treasured time with our good friends around the country. I also noticed the positive changes in Kevin and knew that this transition period off the boat was a good idea for us. We missed each other dearly and with my renewed attitude and energy we are now ready to experience the Windigo adventures together again . . .
I don't think that my life can get much better!
We left Ft. Lauderdale for Puerto Rico with no connecting flight tickets, as the ticketing service we used TOTALLY screwed up our flights [DON'T EVER USE CHEAPOAIR.COM!]. Upon a late arrival in San Juan, we purchased the cheapest connection to St. Croix (they vary the price throughout the day to take advantage of travelers making connections) which would leave the next morning. We intended on snuggling in at the gate for the night. But when we went to check in, the lady says, "Why don't you just go tonight?" and changed our flight to 'right now'. She also was instrumental in allowing us to take too much luggage, and a carry-on that far exceeded the restricted dimensions. I LOVE being off the Mainland!
(Karin also rode the co-pilot seat on the 6-passenger aircraft across to St. Croix. After all, she is now a "Captain!")
Dan & Kimber came to pick us up at the airport and drove us back to Christensted. They had their dinghy ready to ferry us out to Windigo at its anchorage (along the St. Croix Triathlon route!) that they had cared for attentively while we were away. We plan on meeting up with them when they have more time to cruise and tour in the Virgin Islands.
After a couple days of readying Windigo for passage-making, we were off on a much slower, quieter journey.
A quick stop to see my friends in Road Town, and to check in with the crewed-charter manager at the Moorings for possible work in the future. We were well received, and I am hopeful for employment for Karin & I after hurricane season is over.
Dr. Robin Tattersall, former surgeon to the queen in the BVI and Olympic athlete, was also glad to see me, as I stopped by to pay him for the surgery he had performed to rid my body of a life-threatening staph infection last year.
We made two stops on St. Thomas on each end of the island. We pulled into the second anchorage (Brewer's Bay) on the west end of the island behind the airport on the same day I was ordained as a minister of Spiritual Humanism. The very next day an amazing thing happened: we went hiking and geocaching with Indy & Natalie aboard Pegasus, and after climbing to the top of the highest point on St. Thomas, Crown Mountain, I saw GOD. Yes, even though he is not pivotal in my role as a Spiritual Humanist, he presented himself to me, and even allowed me to photograph him. Here is the picture of me & wGOD.
My quest is complete. My mission is clear. I shall endeavor to spread the knowledge and understanding of Humanism for the peaceful progression of our society, species, and planet.
I have removed the link to this particular Spiritual Humanism Description because I may agree with the authors 'words' but someone very close to me disagrees with his tatics. This individual has absoulutely nothing to do with my understanding of Humanism.:
Stay tuned for more Caribbean sailing adventures with the crew of Windigo as we next make a full-color tour of Puerto Rico.
See where Windigo has been since leaving The Bahamas:
(and zoom in when it starts tracking)
[to see Windigo's anchorages from St. Pete through The Bahamas & Turks & Caicos,
Enter the callsign: W3igo]
Where we are right now:
Our permanent and EXACT address:
Capt. KJ & KL Hughes
S/V WindigoIII - PMB 365
88005 Overseas Hwy. #9
Islamorada, FL 36033-3087
We have a US phone number that works in Puerto Rico & the USVI:
AND LOOKIE HERE! A PHONE NUMBER YOU MAY CALL US AT IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS!:
We make outgoing calls on SKYPE when we have a good inet connection;
But always prefer emailios:
Text-only emailio addresses aboard Windigo, checked daily:
Karin's land-based emailio address:
Other emailio addresses checked when at a land-based computer
(infrequently, but good for attachments):
And of course, the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue: