Tag Archives: Wanderlust

The Bugs of the Sea of Cortez

Another Perfect Day

Anchor holding in San Francisco off Bay View Boat Club. I spent the night on the hook. Here in 1980 I visited the club to attend a meeting of the Dinghy Cruising Association. The DCA trains sailors to cruise by dinghy. Sailing long distances, sleeping and eating aboard a 14’ sailboat requires considerable planning and skill.

Because of the DCA I took my sailboat by trailer to the Sea of Cortez in 1985. There my girlfriend and I sailed off to the islands near Bahia de Los Angeles. Aside from having every kind of bee, wasp, hornet, fly, mosquito, and noseeums feasting upon our flesh it was an altogether unremarkable sailing experience.

Bay View Boat Club circa March 2020

Then while digging out a site for our tent we encountered an unusually significant number of small scorpions living in the soil. Then, there was the matter of the enormous iguana population. Like everywhere we went the iguanas were perched on rock and rim top of every hill and canyon we explored.

Fortunately because of very high winds for 48 hours we were allowed the pleasure of exploring without the insects as they were grounded by the weather. Not so much the iguanas or the scorpions. We had thought it might be prudent to retreat back to the village from where we started but that would need to wait for winds to recede. 

With such violent winds blowing we dragged the sailboat up onto the beach. To secure the boat we collected large volcanic rocks and filled the hull half full to keep the boat from blowing away. Our tent the only safe bug free location on the island failed the first night and we slept with makeshift poles we fashioned from remenants of trees that had been washed up in our lagoon.

An adorable field mouse with a rather unique kangaroo styled set of rear legs spent evenings jumping up and peeking at us inside our tent. It was almost cute, A flashlight was used to dash down to the sandy shoreline at night where the worlds largest outhouse without the house and with the out was located.

Island Magic

Bring lots of bug repellent if you intend to go Sea of Cortez island hopping. Depending upon the time of year there are less or more insects. I’m telling you so you know. As best I can tell this travel tip is rarely mentioned. I don’t know what islands the other writers have been visiting but the islands I visited were the buggiest places I have ever visited until a few years back trying to make my way to shore through a mangrove forest twenty miles out of Key West on another uninhabited island or key as Florida describes them.

I prefer my adventures to be not too hot and not too cold. Not too dry and not too wet. Not too dull and not too exciting. I think adventure by sailboat is most often in the range of what we might all consider reasonable. But, you know like all those workshops you attend, all the bolt cutting, emergency transponders, life rafts and flare guns you stow aboard but seem to never use? Maybe you just might want to reconsider why a previous adventurer is suggesting you be prepared.

About two miles up the bay there is a cruise ship terminal. Offshore there is a ship that has been ordered to standoff the coast. Aboard a passenger has died as the result of contracting the coronavirus. Death is no laughing matter. Heartbroken survivors of the deceased will forever be changed by this event. Still we are going to need to to buck ourselves up and get up and get on with our lives. I’d imagined sailing alone on the bay for a few days would provide a respite.

Downtown San Francisco

I’m seeing a weekend of weeding in the garden, a walk with my wife on a trail, and lots of popcorn and binge watching some as yet unseen Netflix series. This might be a good time to remain in place, at least here in Northern California. I think we all know people who haven’t changed one thing yet. That won’t be true much longer. Take care of yourselves out there.

Patagonia Whisperer

I traveled down to Tucson. Stopped in Quartzite slept in the back of the Volvo. Renting a room from midnight to early morning isn’t any fun. Sleeping in the back of a station wagon suits me fine.

As success and money have found their way into my life so has travel by air, hotels and rental cars. Air travel passes over the ordinary people and places I find matter. I don’t want to just come and go on a trip. I want to be with what I find in between.

An isolated high desert town with fifty miles of uninhabited highway between what comes next riles up the pangs unavailable to a citizen living in a megalopolis.

Driving down a main street with every parking place empty is an opportunity. Crawling along heading the other way on this street is an old man and a big dog in a pickup truck.

I get out and walk a few blocks. The pace of life is apparent. Living within a mile of a twelve lane freeway choked all day with traffic wears a nervous system thin.

Setting aside time to feel lonesome will revive the sagging spirits. There is a medicinal quality to an aimless walkabout in the middle of a town that’s been grinding along at a slow crawl. You can hear your own footsteps. A thought in your mind gets the attention it deserves.

By the time you have circled back to where you started you’ve got a fresh list of changes you want to make. There are recipes you’ll want to try, friends you put on your list to call and a promise to take better care of your spouse.

Keeping a ready mind open for an ordinary day is no mean feat. If you can hear the chirp of a sparrow clear as a bell you’re on the path. You might use the position of the sun to locate your own sense of place. Clouds sweeping past above will be noticeable in such circumstances.

A walk through Patagonia won’t be anything fancy. Won’t be any high priced homes, won’t see any new cars, but there will be a chance to hear from a crowded out piece of who you are.

Character

Sweet Seas Avalon

Jeanneau Sloop’s Southernmost Mooring…

Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

Moitessier 1958, Sailing to the Reefs, “The deterioration in the weather was sudden and without warning— it was just a simple call to order to remind me that winds are not always favourable and that fine weather never lasts for ever. As always when I am obliged to move about on Deck at night in a squall of rain, I came out of the cabin swearing that God’s providence is a myth.”

To one degree or another admitting where our talents lend our sailing advantage is a must. Knowing what we are best and worst at is to keep our wits about us.

I am quick to change sails as the wind builds. Although I’ve suffered from sloth and torpor and been meted out punishment for the inaction.

Point near Avalon

Long Point, Catalina Island

The Length of the Trial

In preparation for the passage north from Los Angeles to San Francisco I’ve noticed a particular form of grit seeming to have been found inside. I’m determined that I will return my sailboat to her home port. I have suffered bouts of grave doubt but have fended off the demons for the moment.

Characters

Character Enhancer Seated to Left

An old now deceased sailing companion had brought his Tahiti ketch from Baja back to San Francisco’s Bay View Boat Club many times. Carl’s strategy was simplicity itself… patience.

Rather than have his will broken, rather than attempt to advance to his destination he opted to rest, wait, and pick his spots rather than have Mother Nature punish his boat or his backbone.

Carl exercised patience and judgement. His sailing skills were sufficient to the task. Pragmatism and common sense was perhaps his greatest talent—-but hardly his only. Of course he had made careful study of the weather patterns along the West coast. He knew as much as his mind could hold. Tides, currents and where the next place to anchor north of his present position was built into his plan.

dolphins on bow

Escort Services

I had once ignored Carl’s advice and in my haste wasted hours beating against a current. As the current slackened a fresh and rested Carl joined me in San Pablo Bay for a sail back to San Francisco. I arrived exhausted. Carl returned unruffled and rested.

We will see what we see in the next few weeks. I’ll pick my way north with my sage sailing friend in mind. I’ve a good twenty days to make a trip that ought not take more than three under the better circumstances. Toss away two rough days waiting at anchor to advance one good day seems sensible.

In that light provisioning and a second hand that can abide the captain’s strategy will bring the capable sailboat safely home.

Edited Red Star

 

March 27th Cultures Cauldron of Creativity

2009SPF00415.jpg
Feast of Fools at the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. Photography by EPIC PHotography Inc…

I signed a multi-year deal to emcee at the Oregon State Fair. Small potatoes by show business standards but for a roustabout and lunch bucket card carrying member of the small time entertainment racket my hosting the stage was fat city after a steady diet gigs in places you can’t even find on a map.

Another agent that liked my style booked me to emcee at the Ohio State Fair. My duties included stage management as well as emceeing. I was a man of many hats. Simple enough. Set lights, sound check, here’s where you come on and how you walk off. Any entertainer worth his salt realizes they’ve got a sweet gig when they find an experienced hand taking the lead on a stage they’re going to throw it down on.

Orange Toss

Spearing a tossed orange with a barbecue fork clinched in my teeth

…arriving, loading in, setting up, killing time backstage, holed up in the green room, eating with your fingers from the deli tray, special ordered, all Italian sliced salami and sausages, peppers, succulent morsels, olives and onions, crackers and cheeses, a white tablecloth spread not necessarily enabling a long life- but while you were here it was at least a good short life, squeezing in and peeling out of costume, getting on stage, under the hot lights, taking your best shot, holding your own, sticking to the schedule, the final burst of applause, taking a bow, maybe help keeping the stage manager sane, then after going back to the hotel to hanging with the lineup of showmen and showgirls. Drinking whiskey, spinning tales of woe about long hops, pulling up to some  hole in the brick wall, hard to find barely advertised one night stand— long lost nights both on and offstage— and long after the last calls been called out by a weary ready for bed host, cashing a thousand hopes and dreams in, waving the white toweled bravado to the last breath, collapsing on your hotel room bed, so near to the crack of dawn you could touch it… Heavy eyed party-monger, falls off to sleep, waking too soon, scaring yourself in the bathroom mirror, using a cool rag to soak your puffy eyes— will the swelling ever go down?  Putting on your sunglasses, grabbing your suitcase, closing the door, heading back to the venue, sleep deprived but game faced, ready to play your hand all over again, for one more night, out on the circuit— custom built-perfection sized for the small-time up and comer’s, and then at long last after a too hot weekend of show after show after show, you load out, close the backstage doors and as this one comes to the bittersweet end instead of hanging with your own show biz kind, instead of gathering with your tribe, you’re rolling out all alone on that long white striped highway pointing you to the next destination, the gig slated for tomorrow and your fateful rendezvous with that big fat delicious break— that your fool mind keeps taunting you with— that lucky pot of belly laughs and applause— that your addled dream machine mind keeps teasing you with— that all you ever really wanted out of this show biz thing— was to earn a laugh and be given an honest shot at riding without so much as a care in this roller coaster ride of a world— and there you find yourself listening to to the whispering wind born love song singing in your hair…

Koots

Wanderlust Peeking Back from My Lucky Stars

Edited Red Star