Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27, 2009

We can both be found on facebook if you want to hassle us on a more personal level. We have spent the past few days mostly hanging around the house because the temperature has been in the high 90's and low 100's. Lena and Jesse took us to the Botanical Gardens where we ran across Magic Plant! It was very exciting to see it somewhere outside of the amazingness that is Belize, where one feels like they've left the planet entirely

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23, 2009

We've realized pretty fast that it's going to be a lot easier to update a blog like this than bothering with creating a whole new website. This one can be updated from anywhere and posts can be uploaded from our phone. So, maybe we'll be good about updating. Sorry we've been such slackers lately!  All our archived emails can be found here now.

We went to the zoo yesterday; Please be appeased by the following:

December 9, 2007 - first of archived emails

Hi Everyone,

We're in Hidalgo Del Parral, otherwise known as Parral, State of Chihuahua, on the way South East. In the interest of minimalism, efficiency and as Steve puts it "getting more bang for the buck", we're consolidating our peeps/homies/cohorts/compadres/amigos into one mailing list. If you don't want to be on this list or know someone who does, please let us know.

With that said, we've been spending the last week in and around the town of Batopilas, visiting one Jim Hogg who leads a crazy life in the surrounding hills. We were kindly welcomed into many homes on account of his popularity, given beds and fed many delicious beans, tortillas and (unfortunately) even freshly slaughtered creatures whose corpses hung from the ceilings of our host's homes so that we might grab a bloody chunk at any time we desire.

The homes have dirt floors with no bathrooms or sinks, and the surrounding grounds are loaded with goats, cows, chickens, pigs, burros, horses, dogs, and cats. The town of Batopilas, with its great old Spanish architecture, is deep in a massive canyon with one way crumbling roads dropping up and down the mountains in the most terrifying fashion you can imagine. The wee Isuzu pickup couldn't take it so we were at the whim of Jim and his essentially brake-less truck. Turned out better that way because we could spend more time looking at the views and trying to pet the many creatures who wandered the roads with us. Steve made many human friends and shined up his spanish quite a bit, Ginny made many non-human friends (which is of course quite preferable), but sadly most of her friends were either ripe for slaughter or starving to death.

Some things of interest we have been up to include:
* Borrowed a .45 pistol from a known drug lord and shot it off a peak in the hills (did we remember to wipe off our prints?)
* Gave a ride to a cool Indian guy with brightly colored traditional clothing, head band, and homemade sandals. In return he gave us oranges!
* Steve listened to a great 3-piece band playing 3 "Ranchera" songs per 100 pesos. (Ginny preferred to sleep in the house made available to us that night because she was tired from banging around inside Jim's truck on those terrible roads all day.) The only song whose words were translated was the lament of someone whose dog had been shot so he shot the shooter.

And to generally tie you into the bigger picture, we were going to swim along the Sea of Cortez coast but it was too cold, so we are going to the Caribbean, Yucatan first, and visited Jim for 5 days along the way. From here we shoot down through central Mexico, hopefully avoiding excessive traffic, bad roads, and army road blocks.

We have an online photo album for those of you interested in seeing pictures. This may be found by clicking here:
Click the individual pictures to see bigger ones or mouse over to see the captions. There is also a slide show option.

Bye for now,
S & G

January 18, 2008

Hello again Everyone,

You last heard from us upon arrival at the Caribbean coast of Yucatan, where the water is warm enough to swim. We went out on a 4-day trial trip in the canoe, north from Cancun, about 20 miles up to Isla Contoy, which is at the NE corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. We were promptly kicked off that island but were generally successful, camping on beaches, paddling through the mangrove swamps that lie behind the beach, and succeeding in our first open crossing. Steve pulled the canoe while swimming much of the time, per the strategy of traveling like that to maximize swimming exercise. We have since solved a few equipment problems: gave the canoe a new paint job, installed new canoe seats, bought new waterproof duffel bags, resolved storage issues, etc. Moreover, we discovered several problems with the traveling strategy itself:
1) The wind (standard Caribbean trade winds, usually from the east) is often too strong to counter either paddling or swimming.
2) The surf is sometimes too heavy to land or launch.
3) Public access to the shoreline is scarce, making camping and reprovisioning difficult.
4) It's hard to carry enough food and water and stow it all in a safe, capsize-proof manner.
5) It's an on-going challenge to avoid sunburn, insect bites, flipper sores, and other skin disorders associated with our environment.

After fixing the problems as best we could we gave up on the idea, though it was never firm anyway, of continuously following the coast in the canoe. Steve can still get his swimming in and life can be much simpler living out the truck while scouting for good diving places along the coast, and using the canoe as an occasional adjunct. So we proceeded south from Cancun looking for places where we can swim out to the reefs that lie along much of the coast. Here and there we find good places to swim, and there we stay a few hours or a few days. We've also been swimming a lot beautiful cenotes, most of which extend down into caves which, naturally, we can't go far into. We've spent time in Puerto Morales, Akumel, and Tulum, our home base the past few days, desirable because there is a public beach RVs can camp on for free, and the reef is unrestricted and only about 300 yards offshore. The water is clear, the fish and turtles are colorful and abundant, and an important Mayan ruin site is just up the beach from us: stone temples overlooking the brilliant aquamarine sea. We've battled rain storms which find surprise leaks in our truck canopy, devised new mosquito net techniques, and utterly failed to make lentils taste good. In other words, things are great and we hope they continue that way! We've befriended a couple of people along the way, one of whom, a skinny galoot from Wisconsin, will probably accompany us for awhile.

We plan to continue following the coast southward swimming wherever we can get access to a good place. For a while we will follow a long barrier-beach peninsula ending at Point Allen, from which point we will have to return to Tulum. After that there are the myriad islands off the coast of Belize, which promise great long-term canoing. perhaps allowing a return to our original travel strategy. So, we'll probably just continue South and see what becomes of it. We've arrived at our general playground - long driving trips are no longer necessary. Steve swims an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, and Ginny swims nearly as much. Our bodies are getting pretty strong and tan. The swimming is good for Steve's back.

We've put up some more pictures for your enjoyment on The last 43 are new since you last went to that site. Steve thought there were too many pictures of him and Ginny thought there were too many of her. we settled the dispute mathematically, making the number proportionate to how many people each has on the distribution list, and Steve has more on the list!

ginny and steve

March 4, 2008

Hola everyone! Here's another update whether you want it or not!

We last emailed you from Tulum in mid-January. We're still floating around the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico's state of Quintana Roo, the major towns of which are Cancun and Chetumal. Our daily grind is coffee/breakfast, swimming, lounging, exploring, eating, sleeping, etc. Two unusual circumstances have superimposed themselves upon this routine: a mystery tropical illness in Steve's gut, and Ginny's sister's delivery of Steve's accordion, which included a scouting trip to Belize.

1) Steve's Mystery Illness:
In late January we were staying at our public beach in Tulum. Steve decided to make a fire and test out our new grill set-up consisting of a rusty grill and a couple of tentpoles we scrounged. The entree: a delicious (in Steve's opinion, not in vegetarian Ginny's) fish. We drove into town to find a massive political rally going on and almost everything closed, including the pescaderia (fish store). Fortunately some fishermen were lurking in the alley, one of whom was eager to sell a barracuda he had hanging off the fence in a black plastic bag. Steve jumped at the chance at the scary and sometimes poisonous barracuda. (They say that when the fish is caught some organ must be pulled out and chewed raw to determine by the taste whether the fish is safe to eat.)

With half a barracuda proudly swinging from Steve's hand we returned to camp, Ginny expressing concern about the possible poison and Steve insisting that "sometimes you just have to trust people." So the fish was fried and eaten over two days, with some but not necessarily enough ice in the meantime. The second night Steve became very sick, even fainting once. In the morning we went to a hospital where Steve consulted a doctor while Ginny was beset up by a very drunk, bloody, and friendly man. The doctor prescribed this and that. (Here Ginny wants to insert false information regarding bleeding eyeballs but Steve insists that this be omitted.)

We took a flea-infested room in Felipe Carrillo Puerto in celebration of Steve's illness and Ginny's anniversary of birth. Steve got better, then worse again. We went to Chetumal and parked the truck in the front yard of an alcoholic named Victor to whom we had given a ride a few days prior. His kind neighbor, a doctor, suggested blood and stool tests (which indicated Salmonella poisoning), prescribed more medications, and warned us to leave Victor's house because his drug-addict brothers would soon relieve us of our few but precious belongings. These medications didn't cure Steve either, but we subsequently went to a vastly more expensive doctor in Cancun, and Steve now suspects himself cured.

2) The Amazing Accordion Courier:
After months of longing for his accordion, Steve decided he could live without it no longer. Despite the severe space crunch in our Isuzu pickup he requested the services of Ginny's sister, Carley, a world-reknowned accordion courier :). What luck, she was available! On February 11th she arrived, accordion in hand.

Carley stayed until the 20th, sharing in many delightful adventures. We took her to our Cancun home of MecoLoco (a trailer park amongst Mayan ruins) and introduced her to the friends we could track down in our one day there, including our old friend Javier and a couple who are rescuing sickly stray dogs, bringing them back to health, and arranging international adoptions for them. (Let us know if you need a dog!) To fill out her ten days with us we all went to Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and beautiful Lake Bacalar where we took a three-wheeled bike for a joyride, justifying our nickname: Los Tres Bandidos. We then entered Belize!

Belize is so amazing that, as Carley says, "Even the garbage looks like butterflies!" In fact, we could only stay four days without spontaneously combusting. It gained its independence only in 1981 and seems to be a very new and hopeful country. The wonderful people are an unlikely mixture of Africans, Mayans, Chinese, Hindus, Europeans, and (best of all!) Mennonites! They speak English, Spanish, Chinese, German, and various Creoles. All these disparate peoples seem to tolerate and even like each other! Finally, a place in the world for Los Tres Bandidos!

In Belize Los Bandidos visited a Baboon (actually howler-monkey) Sanctuary on the Belize River and made friends with the proprietor, a 24-year-old guy named Shane whose job is to hang out with his monkey friends and show them to people for a small fee. The Bandidos swam in the river after being assured the crocodiles stay away from the swimming hole due to a distaste for people. Then we went to the town of San Ignacio, in the hills, where the bandidos foolishly hoped it would be cooler. It is an endearing and surprisingly touristy town in western Belize. It is the start of the Ruta Maya, a canoe race that we've considered participating in. The bandidos stayed there two days, exploring a 1,600-foot waterfall and a cave with a river flowing through it. The ancient Mayans considered the cave to be the passageway to Hell and sacrificed mainly children there. After San Ignacio we zipped Carley back to the Cancun airport, packing in as many mini adventures as we could along the way.

We've been so unsuccessful at leaving Quintana Roo we've decided to give in and spend some time on the island of Cozumel, famous for its excellent diving. We write this from the upstairs apartment of our new Cozumeleno friend, Pepe, a very peppy and hospitable soul who sells puppets and other trinkets to the thousands of cruise-ship tourists that pass through every day.

Such are our latest adventures, best told in our captioned pictures, the last 80 of which are new (you can click on the first new one- "diving instructions..." to see the larger image, then use your right and left buttons to flip through the pictures). They may be found at:, (We have also uploaded a video of a magical plant which apparently lives only in the Baboon Sanctuary here: ?action=view&current=magicplantcloseup.flv )


April 8, 2008

Hi friends! Time for another update on our wanderings.

We last emailed you from the island of Cozumel on Feb 23. That was our final fling in Mexico. Steve having kicked his intestinal disorder, we then scooted down to Belize, which we briefly investigated earlier. This time we'll stay longer. "Ah! I love Belize!" is Ginny's constant refrain and Steve is of like mind.

Corozal is the first town across the border. Here we met Mae and Craig of Oregon, who like many Americans have bought land here (and had a beautiful Mennonite house built on it), adding another strand to this small yet diverse culture, where one hears English, Creole, and Spanish equally, and we haven't even hit the Garifuna districts yet!

Our new friends made us feel instantly welcome in Belize after a long day of border hassles. They also found us a place to keep our truck while we went canoeing. We started with a four-day cruise in Corozal Bay and adjoining rivers and lakes. As in the Yucatan the land is flat, the waters shallow, and mangrove is the typical tree where land and sea meet. We saw the splashes of crocodiles launching themselves into the river, and heard the scratchy whistles of what we think of as the Mexican crow, but which is really the Grackler!

The shake-down trip having gone well, we now wanted to go to the outer islands, where the water is clear and the sea-life rich. But the northeast tradewinds were too powerful to paddle against, so we boarded a fast ferry to Ambergris Cay with the canoe on deck. They dropped us off in San Pedro, a bustling fishing-and-tourism town. We spent a week circumnavigating the island, up the west side to the Mexican border then down the east side along the Barrier Reef, back to San Pedro. Steve got back into his two-hour-a-day swim routine while Ginny made new friends in the animal kingdom. She especially likes the blue land crabs, the hermit crabs, the manatees and the batfish, which walks through the eelgrass on "legs" and inflates a booger-like appendage from its nose to attract small fish to eat. In other words, she especially likes the animals she has seen so far. Creatures still required include: Toucans, Scarlet Macaws, Tapirs (Steve saw one, he thinks!), Jaguars, and Crocodiles. (The plurals may be indicative of unreasonable hope on Ginny's part).

From San Pedro we canoed SSW along the Barrier Reef and its associated islets. We spent four days in Cay Caulker, popular among a more laid-back class of travellers. We camped in a sandy grove across a narrow channel from a loud reggae bar. The other islands were quieter. We'd camp where no one was around and supplement our food supply with coconuts, which we open with hammer and chisel to drink the water inside. It's slightly sweet, slightly carbonated, and oh-so refreshing. Other nights we roasted marshmallows while clouds scudded past a bright moon.

This outing ended with our arrival at the the tumble-down Belize City waterfront, where we write this email from our third-story hotel window. Outside, chaotic waves slap at the seawall. Traditional wooden sailboats swing at moorings while powerful launches shuttle tourists to and from the cruise ships that lay at anchor in Belize Harbor.

What to do next? Continue canoeing south? Go back to truck camping wherever there's a swimmable beach? But the utlimate snorkelling is out where deep channels cut through the shallow coral reefs, and at the outlying atolls, where we can't very well live out of our canoe. We need a bigger boat for that: another option. And there's still Guatemala and Honduras to see.

Again, see our captioned pictures. A new photo album has been uploaded to The old pictures may still be found at:,

We wish you well!

Ginny & Steve

p.s. Check out the batfish video found online. It's too weird!

May 5, 2008

Hi friends!

We last emailed you from Belize City at the conclusion of a canoe trip through the northern Belizean islands, which was limited only by our canoe's inability to function well in the wind and waves common at the outer reef where the snorkeling is best.

Unsure what to do next, we drove down into central Belize checking areas we'd heard about. We hiked in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, canoed local streams, and camped on the beach in Placencia, a town popular among cruising sailors. It was all great, but again short on snorkeling. So we looked for a larger boat.

We lucked out in Stann Creek Town, also known as Dangriga. A Belizean fellow named Junior rented us "Li'l Hang Man" for two weeks. Li'l Hang Man is a small, stable boat with a 15-horse motor. The boat came with free use of its namesake, Hang Man Caye, which Junior happens to own!

Thus began a fortnight of intensive snorkeling in the crystalline, bio-rich waters lying off and south of Dangriga. The area is scattered with dozens of tiny cayes (islands) formed by coral growing up from the bottom, which is typically 30-60 feet deep. The islands are low and mangrove-covered above sea level, tall and steep below sea-level. Some are shaped like rings, with deep lagoons in the middle. Dozens more are "almost-islands", that is, coral-formed underwater hills that don't quite reach sea-level but which offer the same magnificent diving. We saw lots of spotted eagle rays, nursing sharks, lobsters, moray eels, tarpon (behemoths that appear to be sculpted from highly polished stainless steel) and even squid! And let us not forget the many, many species of small niche-dwelling fish, mollusks, and crustaceans that contribute so much of the reefs' color and personality, nor the several species of corals themselves, nor the many wonderful anenomes, sponges, and seaweeds. We rarely know their names, but we cherish them all. The highlight came on the last day, when we stopped our boat next to eight dolphins, jumped in, and swam with them a while. Our new friend were relaxed, playful, and mildly curious. Ginny didn't sleep well that night, she was on a dolphin high.

Having somewhat reluctantly returned the boat we drove back to Corozal, in northern Belize, where we made friends before. We are now looking into the feasibility of fixing up a sailboat and using it for a while, with the blessings of the American couple that own it but lack time to sail it. Or maybe we'll find something nicer over the internet and buy it, which could involve a return to the States.

So we again leave you on an uncertain but happy note, with new panoply of captioned pictures at Start at #48. The older pictures may still be found at: Use the magnifying glass above the right corner of the picture if you want to see more detail.

We wish you well!

Ginny & Steve

June 3, 2008

Hola Friends -

As you'll recall, we did a lot of great swimming in Belize, but the lack of a larger boat excluded us from the superior offshore sites. In early May we decided, rather than fix up our friends' sailboat, to find a boat of our own back in the states. Thus began our slow return via Guatemala and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

We stubbornly insisted on getting back the $150 US worth of "temporary customs duty" we had paid on our truck. It turned out this meant a customs guard had to escort us from Belize City to the western frontier! He rode in the cab with us and required an extra $10 US for every stop. This curbed our usual proclivity to investigate points of interest along the way. But the border was soon reached and this impediment removed.

The feared Guatemalan robbings, kidnappings, and carjackings never occurred. Either they were afraid of the "Tres Bandidos" logo on the side our truck or Guatemala is not really that dangerous. We found the people friendly and stylish. The countryside teems with villages into which men, women, and children are constantly carrying colorful jugs of water and massive bundles of firewood, either on their back or their heads. They seem to haul these necessities over great distances. Result: they are Incredible-Hulk strong. And they still find time to weave elaborate fabrics and make their own clothing.

We visited the famous ruins at Tikal, then Guatemala City, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan, where we ran into Fabrio, an Italian traveller whom we'd met back in Cancun. The three of us canoed along the cliff-rimmed shore and saw little villages accessible only by boat, also an unnerving number of dead fish floating in the water. One down side of Guatemala is the pollution.

Driving through the Western Highlands we hit 11,000 feet above sea level at one point. On the recommendation of a hiking book about Central America we stopped at the town of Todos Santos Cachumacan, where we each had tailored for us a pair of the pants which all men wear here. You'll see these high-stylers in the pictures. We stayed at a $4-per-day hostel, got sick as dogs on the local cuisine, and spent the next couple days lying miserably in the back of the truck, parked in the courtyard of the hostel, to avoid whatever we felt crawling on us in our room and to be closer to the two bathrooms, which are dank, dark, concrete dungeons with seemingly pre-Columbian plumbing.

Once we were better we entered Mexico on the route that leads through San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. From here we made our way down to the Pacific coast, which we have been following ever since. The main stops have been Salina Cruz (overpowering smell of fish), Barra de la Cruz and Puerto Escondito (lots of surfers), Acapulco (worst traffic jams), Manzanillo (where Steve met up with a friend he hadn't seen in 26 years), Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan, not to mention the many small beach towns, which are practically abandoned, this being the tourist off-season. The Mexican states thus traversed are Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa. The countryside is dessicated, the rains not having started yet. The land is alternately mountainous and flat, with vast cultivations of mango, cocoanut, and corn. The beaches are beautiful and easy to access, we've had great luck with free campsites, and we've used the canoe for some nice lagoon and river trips. On the down side, the ocean is usually too murky, cool, jellyfishy, or heavy with surf to swim.

We are currently in the town of El Fuerte, Sinaloa, sussing out a way into the canyons of Chihuahua to see Jim Hogg, whom we visited early in our trip, but with whom we have no means of communication. After that we may take the ferry over to La Paz on the Baja Peninsula and see if the summertime offers hope for our original plan to canoe along the Sea of Cortez. If not we'll return to the states sooner than later. As you can see, our plans remain fluid. It's more fun that way.

Hope this email finds you all well! The Belize and Guatemala Pictures will be the last ones starting at number 98 on and the new Mexico pictures are on 
The older pictures may still be found on

Ginny & Steve

July 25, 2008

Dear Friends,

We last wrote you on June 3 from El Fuerte, via which town we hoped to reach Steve's friend Jim Hogg in the canyons where the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora come together. In December we had dropped down from the Sierra Madre plateau and found him in Batopilas. This time we ascended from the Pacific coast. Given that our map indicated bad roads and our pickup lacks 4-wheel drive We doubted if we could drive all the way in. Nor did we know just where Jim would be, not having heard from him for a couple months, since he has no phone or email.

It turned out that a new road had been punched through a couple years before. This took us up and down mountains to the dusty village of Tubares. We then forded the Uribe River, still low because the rains hadn't started yet, and reached the village where Jim previously stayed. The people there said he was now in a place through which we had passed several hours before! This was Steve's third visit to Jim and each time he is further back in the mountains! We joyously reunited with Jim and spent four days reviewing his water projects, hiking the simmering hills, and swimming in the El Fuerte River. The area is incredibly hot, windy, and dry. The plantlife all wants to scratch you!

We then drove back to the coast and took the five-hour ferry from Topolopampo to La Paz on the Baja Peninsula. We spent a week exploring the Cabo area, at the tip of the peninsula. We camped on beaches and swam at Cabo Pulmo. The marine life was rich, the shallows containing considerable coral, but the water was chilly.

Our prime interest being the Sea of Cortez, we drove up through Loreto, Mulege, and Santa Rosalia, swimming here and there. The water temperature improved but the visibilty remained disappointing. One day we canoed to offlying Isla Coronado. On another we paddled up the Mulege River, where a mangrove estuary transitions into a turtle-filled lagoon surrounded by tall grasses and date palms. We visited ancient Spanish missions, explored the salt-mine lagoons around Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast, and detoured to Bahia de Los Angeles, where tan desert islands dot a turquoise sea. Usually we drove the paved highways. Occasionally we took dirt tracks, loving the absence of people and the closeness to nature: caves, weirdly shaped rocks, many species of cactus and palm, and the fantastic cirio cacti, which seem the invention of a Dr. Suess or a peyote tripper.

We spent our hottest night near Mulege, lying in pools of sweat, praying for a breeze. We took to buying ice cubes and sucking them as we drove, but we never knew how to quantify the heat, lacking a thermometer. Then one evening after it had cooled off we stopped at a rustic roadside cafe that sported a collection of wall thermometers. It was 105 degrees Fahrenheit! If that was the cool of the evening, what had been the temp in the heat of the day?

Driving north up the peninsula, the final stretch is along the Pacific coast which is bone-chilling cold, at least to us, who had been seven months in the tropics. We crossed the border in Tijuana on July 2nd and marveled at being back where the drivers all stay tamely within striped lanes and the bathrooms have toilet paper and running water, but everything costs more.

In San Diego we paddled around marinas looking at multi-hull sailboats for a few days, and saw the 4th of July fireworks from our canoe near the fireworks barge in the harbor. Then we spent nine days at the Santa Monica home of Ginny's mom and grandma, during which time Grandma turned 92. All her four children came to celebrate, plus a few friends and grandchildren. We looked at boats for sale in San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and the Sacramento estuary, took a detour through northwest Nevada and southeast Oregon, just for variety, visited too few friends and family along the way and now find ourselves back among the strip malls and traffic of Pierce County. Steve says in other words, we're home (Ginny says nothing because she's too busy wrapping herself up in blankets, louring cat-snugglers and crying for the far-off Belizian sun!)

We have maybe a month's worth of business to take care of around here, then we'll be off again, most likely to buy a Corsair folding trimaran, 24 or 27 feet long. The biggest concentrations of these are in Massachusetts and Florida. Then we will probably sail back to the Caribbean where, as Steve sang during his Three Years in a 12-Foot Boat, " . . . the fish can fly and the birds can swim and the water's so warm that you wanna jump in!"

Hope this email finds you all well! The pictures will be split again by country, the new Mexico pictures are the last half or so, starting with "Cactus Fruit" on and the US pictures on Older pictures may still be found on and

Yours in squid,
Ginny & Steve

September 21, 2008

Dear friends and family,

We last emailed you as we returned to the Puget Sound area on July 26. We spent August getting stuff done so we could resume our travels. Steve filed his 2007 tax return and worked out management issues for his properties, Ginny sold her car, visited her friends, and hugged her cats. Despite all our serious work, we somehow found time for an 8-day trip through the San Juans in Steve's Squeak, the boat in which he spent three years. We figured that experience sailing a 12-foot boat together would make us enjoy even more the relatively palacial one we plan to buy.

We repacked, based on revised expectations as to our travelling needs, and departed on September 2. We went first to Portland to see a 21-foot called a Sea Pearl, a beautiful and very simple boat. It's not a multi-hull but has the advantage of being a rowboat as well as a sailboat. Then we drove across Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, where we visited Ginny's friend Stephen, who lives in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. In Pueblo CO we saw another boat, this time a home-built 24-foot trimaran similar to the Corsairs we like. The owner took us out on his local lake. Then we drove to Oklahoma City, where we saw another Sea Pearl.

After traveling in Mexico so much we appreciate the nice roads here in the States. Where possible we take the small state highways and county roads. Finding camping has been a breeze, it's always easy to find a dark, quiet spot. We have slept in residential neighborhoods and in farmer's fields, at public recreation spots and wherever any old rough wheel track might take us. Being Western Washingtonians we cannot help but find strangely beautiful the desolate openness of the Great Basin, and the vast plains of Colorado and Oklahoma, where thunderstorms take up the whole sky and can last all day and night. Road side attractions are the most exciting part of travel. We pull over for every historical marker, mud bog, and mysterious museum. Sometimes we even check out abandoned homes and the odd cemetery, where Steve fantasizes about pioneers and their descendants resting after hard lives trying to live off some Dustbowl farm.

Now we've been a few days in St. Louis, at the home of Lena (close college friend of Ginny) and husband Jesse. They expect a baby in about a month, so Ginny has been sewing up baby clothes emblazoned with her omnipresent were-squid motif (cross between a werewolf and a squid). Meanwhile Steve sketches how to modify a Sea Pearl to suit our needs while remaining on the fence about whether to do that or buy a Corsair.

We leave soon for New York and New England to see more boats and enjoy the fall colors. Once it has cooled off down south we'll go to Florida, where the most Sea Pearls, Corsairs and Waffle Houses may be found. It's also the ideal jumping-off point for our return to the Caribbean.

There's nothing so special about our photos and rambles, nor is this "one-size-fits-all" email very personal, but we consider it a place-holder for our physical presence among the people we care about. At least you'll know where we are and know how to get hold of us! Meanwhile, enjoy your own adventures, whatever you're doing.

The new U.S. pictures are the last fifty or so starting with "Steve and Beaker" on .
Older pictures may still be found on and

Yours in weresquid,
Ginny & Steve

November 25, 2008

Hello again everyone,

We last emailed you from Lena and Jesse's house in St. Louis on our cross-country search for the right sailboat in which to return to the Caribbean. Since then our windshield has been a blur of American forests, fields, concrete, and strip malls.

We passed quickly through Illinois and Indiana. In Ohio we each reestablished contact with an old friend from years before, hoping to visit, but no luck. Steve's pal, it turns out, is now in California, and Ginny's is in prison! We saw bits of Kentucky and West Virginia, then traveled the east-west length of Pennsylvania, pausing in Punxsutawney to learn about the groundhog phenomenon. In the Adirondacks and Catskills the towns became fewer, the roads more winding. After Western Massachusetts and Vermont we arrived at Steve's ancestoral homeland around Lake Winnepesakie, New Hampshire, where we stayed a few days. During this phase of the trip we took county roads and small state highways, passing through the small towns, avoiding the big ones. And we stopped at dozens of historical markers, a passion of Steve's. We slept in the back of the truck in cornfields and forests and along rivers and abandoned country lanes.

As we entered the metropolitan areas we usually took freeways and were confined to rest areas, park-and-rides, and Wal-Mart parking lots. Around Boston we visited an old friend of Ginny's and toured Steve's old Harvard haunts. We nearly bought a beautiful 27-foot Corsair trimaran sailboat but chickened out at the last minute because the cost was prohibitive given falling stock prices. We enjoyed the New England colors at the expense of cold weather, and sped south with the heater on full blast.

We rushed through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. We were still cold, but at least we started finding good campsites again. (One night we slept in a tobacco field next to a KOA campground. After dark Steve sneaked into the KOA and copped a free shower!) Having bought a sliding-seat rowing station for the canoe, we took delightful rides in various Southern estuaries and rivers.

On October 22nd we arrived in Florida. Here it's cold at night and warm in the day. For the past month we have explored the northern half of the state, which teems with alligators, turtles, springs, traffic, and strip malls. We've been lingering around Tarpon Springs (near Tampa), where they build the 21-foot Sea Pearl sailboat. The Sea Pearl company helped us find an excellent deal on a 1985 Sea Pearl in Panama City, Florida. We made the big purchase on November 10th. Then we went to a gathering of the West Coast (of Florida) Trailer Sailors at Lake Harris in central Florida to see what we could learn from other Sea Pearl owners.

Turns out we learned a lot because we capsized the boat in a gust during a tack. The water was eight feet deep. Below that the silty muck was at least 14 feet deep, because the boat eventually turned completely upside down with the masts stuck in the bottom. Swimming under the boat, Steve pushed the masts further down into the muck until they came out of the mast steps, moved the boat aside, then pulled the masts back up to the surface. Many people helped us rescue our stuff and get the boat upright. Everything was soaked and some things destroyed, including the phone, camera, gameboy and GPS. The keys on Steve's accordion froze up from absorbing water but they are working OK now that it's dried out. We also lost a boom, sail, anchor, and anchor line in the capsize, but were able to retrieve them by scraping a hook through the muck. The capsize was a hassle, but it could have been a lot worse!

One day a couple weeks ago, as we were carrying our canoe down to the beautiful spring-fed Rainbow River, a guy named Mike helped us carry it and invited us to his place later. Currently we are staying with him and his wife Julia in a suburb of Tampa, Florida. We are helping them remodel a guest house in exchange for the use of his shop to modify the boat to suit our needs. Among other improvements our still-nameless vessel will be receiving ballast (a way to secure drinking water and canned food to the cabin floor) so we will be less likely to capsize, and a cabin top so the water will stay out if we still capsize. We may be here a few weeks. Then, presumably, we will return to the Caribbean in a route not yet determined.

So, this is what we've been doing, what about you?

Steve & Ginny

P.S. We have more pictures online at: , starting at the picture "Part 3".

P.P.S. We are trying to decide on a boat name. Please let us know what you think. Names we are considering include:
1. Boat
2. Flipper (inspired by our friend Rudy who said, "Be careful, she's a flipper!")
3. Window
4. Awl (prehistoric sewing needle)
5. ...Or, name it after a cat, which is always a good idea:
5a&b. Salt and/or Pepper (steve's childhood cats)
5c,d &e. Gumball, Bing or Cynthia (Ginny's childhood cats)
5f&g. Thurston and/or Snazz Monkey (Ginny's current cats)
5h. Bongo (Our Cancun friend Mark's recently deceased cat :(
5i. Squeak
6. ...Or, name it after an equally loved and missed non-cat pet. Why not?
6a&b. Lisa and/or Shotsie (Ginny's childhood dogs)
6c. Lucifer (Ginny's childhood turtle)
6d. Zsa Zsa (Steve's childhood dog)

Important things to consider:
*2 is the only name she has earned.
*4 came to Steve in a dream where a voice from the sky (God?) demanded to know the name of the boat.
*Only pets 5a,b,c,d,h,&i and 6a,b&d are confirmed deceased (unless there is something Ginny's mom has been holding back. ahem?)
*5g Snazz (minus the Monkey) is tentatively taken by the canoe. Monkey, Snazz II or Snazz Monkey are still available.
*5h is also the name of an awesome Matt Groening one-eared rabbit-like creature (
*5i is taken by Steve's 12-foot boat, but Squeak II is available.

As you can see, this is a very difficult decision!

February 22, 2009

Dear friends and family,

You last heard from us when we had bought our used 21-foot beach-cruiser sailboat and hunkered down in a Tampa suburb to modify it for our voyage into the Caribbean. We traded money and labor for use of a shop, tools, and camping accommodation in a courtyard surrounded by an odd assembly of fences, roofs, and shops. Neglected chunks of automotive restoration projects and a small family of cockroaches shared this space with us, causing some of you to be concerned that we were living in a junkyard. Well, yeah we were, but we became hardly aware of it over time as we worked every day, all day on our boat. We never took a day off, though there were some good opportunities (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Ginny's Birthday, Valentine's Day). We eschewed holidays as we became increasingly aware that we did not want to linger or spend any more time there than necessary. For details on our refinishing, rowing station, cabin, and stowage/tankage/ballast system projects, see, then the "Steve's SP mods" link. There will be an update there in a few days detailing our last month's worth of work.

As we said, we worked every day for three months and now these projects are nearly completed. We didn't travel or see much other than run around the Tampa area buying boat-building materials, and of course we shopped at the local grocery store and generally attended to the miscellaneous needs of life like laundry and checking out books from the library. We slept in the back of the truck as usual and cooked in a moldy (the deadly black kind) old travel trailer. It has been a lot of drudgery, and the weather has often been surprisingly cold, so we derived our much needed pleasure from planing planks just so and seeing our epoxy glue-ups cure properly. Many little parts must be held together forever in a very exact manner!

Ultimately our host had problems which strained our relationship with him. Sorry if that is vague! Two days ago we abruptly fled that junkyard in favor of visiting with a friend we had been meaning to meet with for months. Now we are here at the home of the author of the website, in a suburb of Atlanta. We arrived yesterday and though we raced out of Tampa without stopping until Georgia, our prior host's bad energy seemed to follow. On the freeway coming here a car rear-ended us, but only the truck and trailer were damaged, the boat only a bit scratched up, so no problem! Conditions look excellent here to put the finishing touches on our projects and continue our travels. Our plans are flexible as always, but full of potential for adventure and possibly a brief return to the West Coast before leaving the country (lock up your valubles!).

The latest pictures may only interest you if you like boats. Sorry, we have been rather boring lately! To view the pictures please see with "Part 4"

Love Always,
Ginny and Steve

June 21, 2009

Our Atlanta working conditions are much better than those in Tampa. Actually, the location is Stone Mountain, about 25 miles east of Atlanta. Stone Mountain is a huge granite rock. Here is a picture of us climbing it .

We were at the house of Larry Whited. Larry is sort of the president of the unofficial Sea Pearl fan club, having owned several and being a thorough boat nut. He has a bottomless inventory of tools and is an incredible friend and sponsor. Larry is a nurse who works weekend nights. He put us up in our own bedroom, accepted us as housemates, and made us feel at home right away. His property is about an acre is size with a comfortable rambler and quite a few boats of all shapes and sizes.

Once settled in at Larry's, we helped him update his facilities. We put on a new roof on his tool shed, which is out back, and built shelves for his many tools. We turned a screened porch into a shop by clearing it out and organizing it around Larry's fantastic Shopsmith, a combination table saw, table sander, and drill press.

Next we recovered from our car accident. You may recall that we were rear-ended as we approached Atlanta. The truck's bumper and tailgate were damaged and the boat trailer was wracked out of shape . We found a used bumper at a junk yard, bent the tailgate back in shape by driving over it a certain way, and pieced together a new trailer from leftover parts in a manufacturer's storage yard. Most of the money we got from the guilty party's insurance company went into savings.

Now for the boat work. We finished the stowage/ballast project, including painting all those strange aluminum objects white. Then we finished the cabin top , which was very tricky. The whole thing comes off by removing 27 bolts and lifting it off. Larry's Sea Pearl website, , has some excellent detail of the work if you're interested in learning more. We worked seven days a week, usually until dark, but somehow still found time to watch movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel and fatten up on biscuits.

In May Larry took us to the annual small boat gathering at Cedar Key, Florida. We had a magnificent time sailing every day, kayaking, bicycling, swimming, and exploring, not to mention looking at cool boats and meeting their designers and owners. We have a few pictures of Cedar Key in our new photo album , but for the real experience check out Larry's Photo Album and his Cedar Key website write-up .

When we got back to from Cedar Key our boat, Pepper, was done enough for a shake-down voyage, so we spent four days on Lake Lanier, a large, man-made lake north of Atlanta. We sailed and rowed up and down the lake. At night we nosed Pepper onto various uninhabited islands, with an anchor astern in the water and another up on the beach, and slept in her tiny cabin. Good thing we're small! Pepper proved out well, but more projects remained.

Back at Larry's we have almost finished building a stowage locker for the aft part of the boat. Associated with this is a re-do of the rowing station , whereby the rowing components can be removed when not rowing, to free up room in the cockpit. Steve's birthday came and went, he wasn't interested in celebrating, but Ginny, Larry and Larry's girlfriend Karen dragged him out to dinner anyway. After that It was just about time for us to go back to Washington for a visit prior to hard-core cruising.

So three days ago we left Pepper in Larry's keeping and got back into our old Isuzu pickup with the canoe on top. The next day we found where the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee come together . (It's not as grandiose as where Massachussetts, Vermont, and New York meet.) Now we have arrived back at the house of Lena and Jesse , Ginny's friends in St. Louis.

Basically, we will spend the summer on the road and in Washington, and return to Stone Mountain in the fall. After a little more boat-work we hope to travel down Georgia's Chatahoochie River to the Gulf of Mexico, then south along the west coast of Florida, then to the Bahamas right in time for Hurricane Season...

We hope that you too are finding plenty of challenge and adventure in your life!

Steve and Ginny

P.S. We hope this new site will inspire us to do more frequent, though smaller, updates for those of you who find yourselves wondering what ever happened to us. We will continue to mail out periodic big emails too for the rest of you.