Something wicked this way comes

You just never know...
but go ahead, make all the plans you want.

It won't make any difference.

You ran the numbers, you know the game, the right people and the secret code.
You can pray to Jesus, shake your medicine rattle, fung shui the plants, join the Scientologists and their weirdo brigade... 
but in the end, the House will always shut you down.
Because you are only Human, because YOU are not in charge. 

So, what? 
You evolved a pretty impressive brain to body ratio and a refined sense of reason and a big fat WILL and all that makes you feel big in your boots?
The fact is, Destiny calls the shots.
Fate is Nature's game.
She's been reading your hand this whole time, ready to lay down a full house, just when you thought you had the thing wired.

This is how IT happens in the Baja...

The solar oven dinner was fantastic. The rice was perfectly cooked and the chili was divine and somehow, the whole thing tasted like sunshine.
We dragged Jon out of the engine room at 10:00 pm and made him eat some with us.

After dinner, was the moment of truth.
We fired up the engine and she roared to life.
Good 'Ol Perkie! 
Well done, Captain!

Jon went below to check the high pressure oil hoses and I stayed on deck watching the  engine temp gauges. 
Shit. Piss. Fudge.
I shut her down.
"we're overheating baby," I called down to Jon.
He dropped his head and thought for a moment.
A very long moment.
We all waited, silent as stones.
"Lets go to bed" He said finally.
" In the morning I'll take off the coolant cap and if the water's down, it means that there was an air pocket in the system from when i drained her and refilled her fluids." 
"What if it's not that..." I started, then realized this was a terrible thing to say.
"How about I make us a drink and we watch a stupid movie"  I suggested instead.
We crawled into our bunk with a couple of sippers and watched Army of Darkness and that... is how you handle a skipper who has been in an engine room for four days.

The next morning, Jon was up and out of bed, like a kid on Christmas morning.
We all waited.
"It's the coolant!". He called from the engine room.
Happy news.

We motored over to the fuel dock and watered the boat up and filled her spare water tanks and solar showers and when the cruisers net came on at 8:00 am we tuned in to hear the weather so we could figure out where we would be going today.
The kids were bouncing around, throwing around names of favorite anchorages nearby  that they wanted to go to. 
We haven't been in the ocean here in months, so everyone was chomping at the bit to get going.
Santa Rosalia was our goal and after that a straight shot to Bay of Los Angeles further up the sea- 
We looked forward to catching up with Eyoni and free-diving and hopefully seeing some Whale sharks!
We had been so busy the past few weeks we haven't checked the weather much and we are wondering what we would have in the way of winds for sailing North.

"Good morning...Escondido!' called the net moderator in his best Casey Kasem imitation.
"let's all listen for any emergency trafiic this morning, emergency traffic come now. Over".

There was none. Hardly anyone is around right now.

"Okay Lets get down to business" He continued, his tone more serious.
" I'm sure everyone wants to know about that Cat. 2 Hurricane headed our way..."
Jon and I looked at each other.
" The models we're seeing have her at about 350 miles southwest of Cabo and heading NW at 16knots. She's actually supposed to upgrade to a Cat 3 possibly 4 by this afternoon with sustained winds of 150 mph and some of the predictions have this baby hooking around back on the Baja and shooting the pass just south of Mag Bay-that means she could come howlin' across the desert and hit us oh say... around Santa Rosalia."

Jon and I  are wide eyed.
We just got the boat back together and now a major ass-kicking HURRICANE is headed directly for us?

The rest of the net was a blur because we were so flabbergasted.

We sip our coffees and contemplate our future, when hear our boat being hailed over the VHF;
'Pura Vida, Pura Vida, this is Manta"

We know of Manta- they're famous.

Terry Kennedy and Dawn. 
Terry is a legendary diver, credited with mapping pretty much every rock and reef in the Sea of Cortez.
He's  also the guy who discovered Giant Manta-riding. 
If you have ever watched Discovery Channel and seen someone riding on the back of one of these underwater winged-behemoths, you were probably watching Terry.
The kids and I had met his girlfriend Dawn on shore-my arm was still in a sling from partially dislocating it and she had given me the name of a Mexican healer in a pueblo near Loreto. I had introduced her to the kids and we chatted. 
She was cool and kinda tough seeming but I could tell she was a seriously nice lady and she gave the kids a sly look when they told her how much they love diving. 
"Are you scuba diver's?" she asked. 
We told her we wished, but time and money had not made that possible but It had been Kai's dream since he was five years old.
"Me and Terry do a lot of diving" she said. 
Big, fat, understatement.
I knew this already. I had read about their finds and exploits in lots of our guide books.
Terry is the reason us new cruisers don't run aground on all the rocks down here. He put them on the charts.
"Stop by the boat sometime and see us" she said.
We had chatted a few times on the radio but we were so busy with heads and fridges and other annoying stuff that there was no time to socialize. 
Meanwhile ,Terry and Dawn had spent the week discovering a whale graveyard off of a  nearby island.
Now they we're hailing us.
"Hey there, Pura Vida, you kids aren't planning on goin' North right now are you?"
He was gently warning us not to be total idiots.
"No, sir" we said.
"Well, where you at?" he asked us.
We told him we were just about to leave the fuel dock but we hated the idea of having to go back to the mooring field and wait around.
"I got a mooring outside here." Terry said in his smooth, friendly drawl. "Why don't you come hook up near us and we can get to meet you all"
This was like being the newbie nerds at high school and having the quarterback asking you to sit at his lunch table with his awesome, babe girlfriend.
"Sure!" we squeaked. "We'll be right there!"
We motored outside and met Terry and Dawn .
Terry is like a cross between the Marlborough Man and Santa Clause. He's the nicest, handsomest guy in the world, wrapped up in this ex-navy seal, total-badass package.
Dawn is a sunset fox and a world class sailor, diver, explorer, skipper and one look at her and you know you are in the presence of a seriously deep and very cool lady.
We loved them instantly and the kids did too.
We chatted for awhile and the they offered to take us diving the next day while we all waited to see what the weather would do.
We told them none of us had ever scuba dived before and we had no gear other than wetsuits and fins and masks-and weightbelts.
"We can pull together what you need" they said. 
Terry and Dawn are life long divers and Terry's ex-Navy seal, a rescue diver with over fifty years of experience, he's a major dive guide for rich cats looking for the ultimate dive experience. 
Even the Mexican navy calls him in when something needs looking at below 200 feet.
-we were in very good hands.
And lucky us, they just love turning people onto diving.

The next morning the net had good news. 
The storm had switched directions and her eye was breaking up. She was gonna bring some rain and wind but no doom to our door.

We met in the dinks at 10 am and were off.
Terry showed us how a regulator works and gave us some do's and don'ts and with that, my family of fish was off.
Ducks to water... Kai to Scuba.
Remember, this is a kid who's first and only word for the first six months of his speaking life was...FISH!
He would look at us with such an urgent, pained expression and say FISH... FISH... FISH!!!!!
So, we did what we could. 
We bought him fish tanks and plastered his room in national geographic photos of whales and groupers, we took him to every aquarium from Canada to Tennessee. He spent every day he could in the ocean -even becoming the youngest polar bear to swim the frozen waters of Bowen Island on New year's day. We had such a hard time dragging our splashing, happy, four year old out of the icy black water that it took us an hour to warm him up by the bonfire.
FInally, we gave up and moved onto a sailboat.

Terry and Dawn smiled and laughed as Kai disappeared and then Jon and then me and before you knew it Kai and I were following Terry and Jon down to 50 feet, having the time of our lives.
 Hunter and Dawn snorkeled up top and later, Kai joined them while Terry took Jon and I to 75 feet to find a black coral forest. 
There were moray eels and the usual assortment of fishy friends and we had a ball with Terry teaching us how to eat raw scallops and feed the fish by hand with the leftovers.
Not to be outdone, Hunter the Great, grabbed a regulator and swam around in the shallows dragging Terry's huge tank. 
Scuba diving at 7 years old!
Fearless and excited to explore her ocean home.
At some point, Terry went to grab his loose tank, floating in the water, and was surprised to discover a little Hunter on the end of his regulator hose, gurgling around, looking for octopus.
There were a lot of laughs and many, many smiles that day.
We will never forget it.

We had them over for thank you drinks and they told us lots of great tales of amazing dives all over the word and then they took us all diving again the next day- Little hunter even had a little "octopus rig" off my tank with her very own regulator, so we swam together breathing underwater at 20 feet while Kai and Jon and the others explored the depths.

So, thank you broken fridge and head and engine and Mother Nature for threatening to storm, because of all those things...this last week held amazing experiences that we never dreamed possible.

This is why it's actually excellent that we Humans are not in charge

As old, Alan Watts liked to ponder...
"Do you do IT, or does IT, do you?"

Well, when you're out here, in the strange and wonderful, in the uncharted and un-schooled...
IT definitely does YOU, amigo.

The wonderful Dawn and Terry of Manta

Off for a new adventure
Terry teaches Kai the basics

The Scuba tribe of Pura Vida

Endless Tedious Monotonous Toil

We piled in the car and headed for La Paz- a four hour drive from Escondido through some drop dead beautiful scenery.

There was much to do in La Paz but first up, was a mandatory stop at our favorite arrachera joint.  We filled up on seriously yummy "meat candy" ( grilled, marinated beef) folded into perfectly cooked homemade tortillas fresh of the grill, served with a platter of roasted spicy salsas, grilled hot peppers, pickled red onions and perfect guacamole. Mexican food is so delicious, it's insane.

We drove around looking for a hotel with a good deal- lots of things were shut, it's slow season right now and the whole city is pretty quiet. We found the best deal at a super-groovy hotel, called El Moro - it's old and funky and the rooms were huge and had kitchens and tons of sleeping spaces and the pool was great. It was also right in the malecon-the main drag in any Mexican waterfront town-and close to all the marinas.
Jon took off with the car on his treasure hunt for engine parts and the kids and I did schoolwork in the luxury of an air conditioned hotel room.

It was HOT HOT HOT on the boat last week and not much schoolwork was possible.  Pura Vida was a total disaster area.  Every conceivable surface was covered in engine parts and spares waiting to be used or stowed. Only the kids head was working, ours was in the process of being torn apart by Jon- a task Dante might have thought to add to one of his levels of inferno- and our fridge wasn't working. This meant we had no fresh food aboard and Jon had yet another headache.

We suffered through heat exhaustion and fixed and stowed as much as we could and with the help of a fellow cruiser( who happened to be a fridge expert and was, by Neptune's grace, anchored outside Escondido) we managed to get the fridge working again.

In La Paz, Jon was on a quest for hoses and clamps and fittings and pipes and tubes of various and impossible to find sizes. Finding the right bits was as crucial to our engine fix as a proper set of medical instruments is to a heart surgeon facing his first bypass.

The next day, it was my turn to forage. I set out with a massive mental list of everything we would need to feed and care for a family of four for the next three months. 
We would be facing very few resupply possibilities. There are pueblos between Escondido and Bahai Los Angeles but once we get up there, we must plan on pretty much total self-sufficient. I learned the last time out what works well for us and what does not-canned green beans are YUCKY-so I felt pretty confident this time around.

Once again, the Subaru was filled to the limit-this time with more marine supplies and dry food stores and boxes of milk and sunscreen and medical supplies and nice cheeses and pounds of flours for breads and tortillas and boxes of good butter for baking and whole frozen chickens-for that new solar oven!

One final fresh shop this coming Sunday at the farmer's market in Loreto will finish off my part of the reprovisioning duties.

And... I still need to get my hands on some injectable Lidocaine, in the event of emergency stitches while out of medical help range.
It is not true that a Mexican  pharmacy hands out drugs like M&M's on Halloween. They ( understandably) expect you to have a prescription for lots of things. We stopped by the hospital to see a doctor and get one but the line was so long, if you saw it, you would never again complain about an emergency room in LA. 

We decided not to get any life threatening cuts or stingray wounds in the next few months.

Back at El Moro, we enjoy showers and television and then it's back in the car and over the mountains and back to Pura Vida.

We load hundreds of bags onboard (again!) and much to our dismay, find the fridge is not working (again!). I do my best to keep our precious cheeses and chickens from being totally destroyed. It's 115 degrees inside the boat and Jon fixes and fusses with the magnetic brushes on the fridge motor and finally gets her going again.


That night, Jon lays out and labels everything he will be fixing on the engine.
It's a daunting task he faces but like everything else about being a skipper, he's entirely on his own. No one is gonna fix your broke ass old engine but you.  He hasn't spoken much in the last few days and I know he's just going over and over what has to be done in his head. 

The next morning, we wake up early and Jon and I down some day old coffee over ice. It's 8am and already 100 degrees outside.

Jon disappears into the engine room-well, parts of him do- his legs and arms hang out of the door in various excruciating ashtanga poses as he wrestles with frozen bolts and ancient hoses.

I homeschool the kids and we decide to make our first meal in the solar oven.
I let the kids do it all, including reading the instructions for how to use it -this is our first time)
The thing is so simple you could let a five year old bake a cake unassisted. There is no fossil fuel used, so there is no danger of burns or fire. Kai fills a pot with lentlis and chicken and herbs and garlic and Hunter fills another with rice and chicken broth and raisins and ground cumin seeds.
They put the lids on, stick them in the oven, close the plastic lid covering it and put it directly in the sun on the foredeck. It was 10 am when they did it and we will check and see if dinner is ready around 4 pm.

So...that's where we are as of this moment.

If all goes as planned Jon will finish the engine tonight and it will start and we will celebrate with a hot meal I never had to cook and tomorrow morning we will shop at the Sunday market in Loreto and fill the water tanks at the fuel dock tomorrow night and be on our way at first light on Monday morning...


El Moro

Home away from home

cooking with the sun!

It's 10 am and he did not fall overboard-that's sweat. 

Leap of faith

Kai takes the plunge

I stand in the driveway of my mother-in-law's house in Los Angeles, while Jon neatly packs the final load into our car.

It's a hundred degrees outside and our old Subaru is riding about two-inches above the ground, it's so weighted down.
I peek through the window at the piles of things inside the car. 
They are not the things that normal people, with normal lives, carry around in their station wagons. 

Two hundred and ninety-five feet of 3/8 inch high test chain, a fifty-five pound Delta anchor, a new heat exchanger and oil cooler to replace the swiss cheese-looking ones on our ancient Perkins, a solar oven for cooking on deck or the beach when its too hot to cook on the boat, a bbq that will flame even in high winds, lengths of rope and hoses, 130 feet of high tension Spectra for making new, stronger, life-lines, a new wildcat for our windless, pounds and pounds of quinoa, red and black Thai rice, boxes of coconut milk and pots and jars of spices and curry pastes, packages and boxes of rice noodles, loads of homeschooling books, Nooks for all, a high-powered microscope, new wetsuits for Kai and myself, a new speargun for Jon...

At least eleven hundred pounds of stuff in here, not counting a driver, the carrying load on the car is 900 pounds... maximum. For this reason, Jon will be making the seventeen hour, notoriously treacherous drive, down the Baja on his own. Later today, somewhere, on the lonely road, that snakes it's way down the middle of the Baja,  past the hairpin turns and death defying drops on either side, where there is no shoulder or guardrail, Jon will be pulled over by the Federales at one of their many checkpoints. They will point their guns at Jon and search through the vehicle and ask (in Spanish) what he is doing.
Jon will tell them he is on his way to Escondido, where he has left his Barco. He will tell them his esposa and nino's are flying down to meet him and all this stuff is for a journey he is taking with his wife and children on their boat. When they ask him where he is going on his boat, Jon say he is heading up into the Sea of Cortez, to find the whale sharks "and then?" they will ask and by this time, they will be interested and smiling and shaking their heads and nodding with approval at the spearguns and miscroscope and Jon will shrug and say "South".  The officials will slap him on the back and they will wave him on. 
Men, everywhere, but most especially in Mexico, are pretty impressed by adventure.

Jon closes the hatch. "Well... that's it". he says.
We are alone for this moment.
Kai and Hunter have already said goodbye, they are  with our friend Marc and his three kids playing mini-golf.

I recognize the butterflies in my stomach. The next time I see Jon, we will be beginning a new chapter in our lives.
No house, no plan for the future, just a car load of cool stuff and a wicked boat and a bunch of navigational charts downloaded on the NavX program on our I-pad.

Jon puts his arms around me.
"Please...don't drive at night" I say. "If you get delayed, just stop for the night and come the next morning."
We learned this years ago, before we had kids. Jon and I had driven across Baja one night from coast to coast. We had a thousand near misses with drunk drivers, with no headlights and cattle wandering in the road. The next morning, when we walked into a cantina, an old gringo looked at us and said, "You're loco if you drive at night down here. Only drunks and criminals out there after sundown. What do you think all those crosses on the roadside are for?"
I look up at Jon. He doesn't answer. He's running through a million check-lists in his head. He has to meet a guy in an hour in Long Beach who has some vital engine part ordered from England for us and then he'll shop for one last pile of gak in the marine stores in San Diego where he will spend the night before a pre-dawn departure.
"I'll see you tomorrow" Jon says, kissing the top of my head.

I wake up at 4:30 the next morning.
Jon will be leaving his hotel now. The drive to Escondido is seventeen hours from San Diego and there's only about eleven hours of daylight these days.
I feel those butterflies in my stomach again.
Cell phones don't work in most of Baja and there is no internet in Escondido.
There will be no way to contact Jon as he travels South and he will have no way of knowing if we got there.
I don't even know if the one motel in Escondido is open-I'll just have to see when I get there.
We will have no way of getting out to our boat until we can find someone to give us a ride to it.
There is also no way to know how Pura Vida has faired in our absence. The last time we saw her, she was triple roped to a mooring ball, in a natural hurricane hole, halfway up the inside of the Baja. Jon had to leave early for a job so, the kids and I had closed her up and said goodbye. 
She was stripped of her sails and canvass, her dingy was deflated and lashed to the deck, her outboard engine and spare anchor stuffed in the main cabin, along with the paddle board, spare sails and everything else on deck, all her systems where turned off, and solar panels stowed inside. Only one panel was left up to generate enough power to run the automatic bilge.
I run through every scenario in my head, hoping i left everything as I should and she's not half sinking when we get back to her because I forgot to close a sea-cock.
I lay awake in the dark morning, running through the myriad of disasters that could await either Jon or I on this leg of our trip. 
I remember that this is not how one meets adventure. You do not lie around and think about the "what-if'. 
I get up and finish packing the bags.

We say goodbye to Grandma Sara at the airport. Hunter cries. She hates goodbyes.

The plane is full of surfers, apparently there's a cell off the coast churning up some big sets at Todos.
We look out the window and Hunter and Kai point at all the bays below that they recognize.
"There's two harbors..."
" There's Long beach...SanDiego...Ensenada..."
A  surfer dude in front of us peers through the seats.
"Been on this flight a few times?" he grins at Kai.
" No" says Kai, casually. "... we sailed passed all that when we brought our boat down last winter."
"That's rad, man." the Dude is impressed.
"Yeah," Kai looks out his window "...we might go to the Galapagos, next".
I can barely contain how cool I feel.

There is cloud cover over much of the peninsula and as the plane descends, we are shocked by what we see.
The barren, red, Mars-scape that was the baja we knew and loved, has been completely transformed.
Kai and Hunter have their noses pressed to the windows.
A thousand feet below us, from a stunning, azure blue ocean, rises the island of Coronado. 
The same, rocky volcanic hump that we had anchored beneath (when we got the news that the house had sold) now rises like a shining, green, jewel form the sea.
As the plane swoops past it, I can make out cascades of fuschia and orange flowers draped over the swollen cactus covering the mountainside.

We step off the plane into a blinding, white heat.
Our eyes adjust and we look around... 
The world is an explosion of green.
Maybe we got on the wrong plane and have landed in Thailand.
The temperature is well over a hundred and the humidity hovers somewhere around eighty percent .
The air smells like nectar and swarms with clouds of buzzing, black insects.
Leafy tendrils creep over a chain link fence and spill onto the tarmac.
A yellow butterfly lands on Hunter's hat.
"I love you!" she squeals to no one in particular.
I know what she means. 
The last eight weeks have been a blur of work-intensive, ass- busting effort and we have said goodbye (again) to much that we love dearly. 
We have been asked time and again what, "will we do?" and "aren't you scared out there?" and " what about this..and that..." and countless other questions that one would certainly lie about if the insurance company was asking the same things.
But we also now belong in this, less certain, world.
The world of possibilities and mysteries and experiences...
and occasional dangers. 
The strange and the new calls to us.
I look around me at the towering Sierra de la Gigantes and the now lush desert.
A three-year, suffering, live-stock-killing, drought is over...
and the Baja is alive in a new way.

We make our way through customs and my Spanish isn't good but at least I can get by now.

Other than the surfers, who pile into an armada of smashed and rusted old cars clearly left at the airport for this purpose-we are the sole turistas.
It's slow season, too hot for most people, the fish aren't running and bad press about the narco-drug wars still has the country's tourism trade paralyzed.
I'm lucky there is even one cab to be found out here.
I wake the driver up, tell him where we are going and we climb inside.

The forty minute ride to Escondido is pretty telling about just what else the rains have brought .
Here and there in the gulches beside the crumbling road are huge washouts and strewn boulders loosed by the deluge.
Jacknifed trucks and dead cattle are stuck the mud-filled arroyos.
"Flash flood" says our driver in Spanish. "...muy mal" he shakes his head.
I look up at the "thunder bumpers" gathering over the green peaks above us.
"more rain?" I point to the clouds. The driver nods. 
I try not to think what this might mean for Jon.

We get to the motel and the driver lets us out.
I ask him to wait because there is no sign of life.
I don't have a plan if it isn't open but I decide not to worry about that right now.
We enter a dark reception area. An old bitch dog is asleep on the tile, she looks like she must have given birth to at least eight million puppies in her life. She rolls a blind eye to look at us and thumps her tail a few times. It's smokin' hot outside and clearly seista time-not even the dogs like to be disturbed.

I ring the bell and eventually a yawning senorita appears, rubbing her eyes and smiling.
We arrange a price and she picks a key off the board. I notice it is the only one. We will be the sole guests of the Tripui motel tonight. I explain that the kids and I are hungry and she apologizes and says the cantina is closed. The flood did some damage and they are repairing. She gives me two vouchers for a free breakfast the next morning.
'Pero, es cerrado." she tells me, with a sad look.
"Pardon?" I think I have misunderstood. "The cantina is closed? But you just gave me breakfast vouchers..."
"Si" she shrugs and smiles.
Okay. At least they kept part of the bargain-I guess.

The kids are moaning about being famished so we drop our stuff off in the room and decide to hit up the little Modelorama beer store for some Fud. 
Nothing says welcome back to Baja (and adventure) like eating warm slices of processed ham.
On the walk to the store we pass the Tripui trailer park. This is where our friend Tony, the great fisherman lives. 
We had left a few messages and sent some emails to Tony, hoping to reach him before we came down -but we never heard back.
I wonder about this now as we walk through the empty park.
The place is deserted. There's an eerie feeling in the air.
The sky is growing sullen with the clouds over head and I would do anything to have a little "first world" contact with my husband right now.
Just to call him on the cell phone and be reassured that he was doing well and was on his way to us.
As we approach Tony's house, we notice his front door is wide open but no one seems to be around.
No one seems to be anywhere at all, actually. It's just us and the dog because the lady from the motel was picked up by her husband shortly after we arrived.
I think we might be the ONLY people in the entire town of Escondido right now.
Kai hangs back a little, looking around, alert as always.
"Is everything okay , mom?"
"Of course." I say-hoping it is.
I stand outside Tony's open door. "Hola..." I call.
No answer.
Every house in Tripui tailer park is built around an RV. 
These air conditioned, flat screen-wired, vestubles of creature comforts. The residents of Tripui construct very elaborate and beautiful traditional palapa houses with kitchens and mexican tiles and hand carved beams around them but the centerpiece of each home is the RV itself.
I step inside Tony's house and knock on the aluminum side of the camper.
 Kai looks around, ringing his hands.
"we should go, mom" he says.
I call Tony's name again and we hear a rustle from inside the camper.
Tony, tanned and healthy and friendly as always, steps out.
We have just woke him from siesta, so it takes him a minute to recognize us. "Oh, hey there, Casadora..." he says rubbing Hunter's head. " nice to see you guys, again. where's Jon?"...
I tell Tony we are expecting him around seven. That he left at four this morning from San Diego.
Tony looks worried.
"I hope he's okay on that road. I had a hell of a time coming down, the floods washed out the road -my whole place here was filled with mud, took three Mexican ladies three full days just to get it mucked out." Then he shows us where the water-mark is, half way up the wall.

Oh, dear...

The kids and I go back to the motel and have a swim in the pool. The sky turns pink and then blood red and bats flap overhead and a wake of vultures hang like doom in a palm tree by our patio. I gather the kids and get them inside. There's no one around at all and i wonder how Jon will know what room we are in. I decide to leave my pink fuzzy slippers outside our door.

Kai and Hunter eat their Fud in cold tortillas and I open a terrible bottle of overpriced red wine.
They watch Avatar in Spanish on the TV and I flip through the tour guide book with it's cartoon map of the Baja and try to figure out where Jon might be on the road.
It's dark-he should have been here an hour and a half ago.

There's a knock at the door and everyone jumps up.

It's Tony. He's concerned when we tell him that Jon hasn't shown up yet. He's also worried that the kids haven't eaten a proper meal all day, so he invites us for breakfast the next morning...
"I hope he doesn't drive at night" he says, as he leaves.

So do I.

I put the kids to bed at 10:00 assuring Kai that daddy must have stopped for the night and he will be here tomorrow morning, sometime.

I lie awake knowing that a million bad things could have happened out there on that road. Baja does not have highway patrol or ambulance or cell phone service in most places. I have no way of communicating with anyone from here.  Our car was overloaded with stuff-valuable stuff- if a tire blew Jon would have to unload all that chain and anchor on the road just to get to the spare. Our car would be climbing those crazy cliffs and the tires would be bulging on those corners and it is Sunday and Mexicans like to drink and drive on Sundays.

I know I asked Jon not to drive at night but I also know Jon.
Jon would sooner walk forty miles through the desert than leave us sitting in some strange place, uncertain of whether or not we are OK. 
I put my head under the covers (a trick I learned last winter, when we were coming down the outside of the baja and getting the snot kicked out of us in confused seas) and try to remember what the last thing was he said to me was yesterday...
"I'll see you tomorrow."
I fall asleep.
I dream about storms and giant squid.

I'm woken up to a soft knock on the door.
It's after midnight and Jon stands there, smiling at me.

I know without asking, that the drive was crazy.
That he ran into floods, that buses and trucks were lying in crumpled heaps on the side of the road.
That poor Mexicans poured out of overturned vehicles and wandered around, scratching their heads and holding rags to bleeding foreheads.
I know that semi-trucks whirled around corners in the on-coming lane and there is no such thing as an enforced speed limit and that was all during the daytime.
I know it was much, much worse in the past five hours of darkness- and I know that he won't tell me any of this.
"How was the trip, baby?" I ask.
"Fine" he says. "I brought you a present."

Jon gives me a bright red cube the size of a shoe box that he bought in San Diego.
It picks up our music off our devices and wirelessly plays them through the ultimate speaker system.
I love it. Its yet another addition to our cool new stuff to make our trip even better.

Jon kisses the sleeping kids and we sit outside on the veranda under the Mexican moon, sipping tequila and listening to music.

"Welcome back" I say.

The rest of that week was a nightmare.

Everything that already was broken on the boat and a bunch of other stuff (the fridge! the outboard!) quit on us too.
It was a million degrees and we had only one head and no fridge and the place was infested with crazy mating bugs finally getting their rocks off after three years of dormancy-who can blame them, really... and I dislocated my shoulder again and Jon and the kids broke out in nasty heat rashes and it was a boatload of not very fun work and long long days but slowly, she started to come back together. We had one last trip to La Paz planned -and a four hour drive-to look for extra parts and get a broken engine hoist re-rigged but after such a long week of work with no play time, we were rewarded by our first tropical rain storm. The kids stripped naked and we all stood on deck and howled into the wind and the lightning and were pelted clean by sideways rain and the kids and I convinced Jon to take the next day off so we could re- hike the canyon above Escondido. The following pictures are but a small testimony to the tropical Eden that awaited us. Miles of deserted , uninhabited mountain canyons filled with fresh warm rainwater. Butterflies and dragonflies and tadpoles were our only companions and the kids spent the day finding new faster water slides and higher cliffs to jump from.

Welcome back... absolutely.

heading up the canyon a swimming hole

Kai howls at the thunder


Dad goes for it

Hunter takes the plunge

natural water slides and smiles


Hunter and Kai with new baby Pippin

Home was wonderful...

Jon and I packed up the house while the kids ran wild in their hometown. 
We saw them only occasionally, bouncing in the front door, trailing six kids behind them, looking for food or a random band aid or a change of clothes between sleepovers.
Mostly, they prowled the island like feral cats, in huge gangs of kids, all various ages and sizes, all of them as familiar as first cousins. 
Bowen Island is blissfully stuck in a magical time when summers are spent like a summer should be. Ball games go until dark, moms get together everyday at the beach for picnics and coolers, smearing each other's babies in sunscreen and swapping gossip and laughs, local bands play for the dock dance, and volunteer fireman make burgers and serve beer and someone always gets too drunk and falls off the stage. There is "movie night" in the field, when the whole island converges, on a perfect summer evening, to watch a family movie on the  giant screen set up under the stars-babies sleep on blankets, while the parents snuggle and whisper and pretend not to notice their pre-teens wandering off in pairs into the woods....The ice cream store and hotdog stand are the center of every kid's financial universe. Boys swim out to the docks and wrestle each other all day,  girls build forts and sell undrinkable lemonade concoctions on every street.
Kai and Hunter were lucky enough to have not just their doting Nana down the street but also a pile of surrogate moms on the island all as desperate to see our kids as we were theirs. 
There was so much love-and work to do-that we hardly had any moments of sadness about leaving the beautiful house that we had built and landscaped and raised our kids in for six years.

Some of the pain of moving was cushioned by the fact that we have made a radical lifestyle change- and I don't just mean living on a boat.

We decided, with my mom (mutually) to do what other families, everywhere else on the planet do- we combined households.  

Previously, we have always maintained our own houses. We had a mortgage, we were desperately trying to pay down- just up the street form my 70-something mother, who was also still paying a mortgage!
This seemed normal once, back in the days of "I have mine and you have yours and that's how it should be" and we never had to compromise or sacrifice...yet, we were always worried or lonely or stressed.
Now, in today's world of collapsed investments and a shrinking job market and crazy inflation and stupid health care costs...
It seemed downright nuts to us.
But live together...?
Well, if you or your elderly parents are all financially skookum-then, hey, Lucky you, do whatever you want...
But if your like lots of us, out there right now...
Why not?
Share the burdens and the gifts. 
Take care of each other.
And... you know what? Lucky you. You have someone to love and be loved by. 
Sure-sometimes you have to share the TV remote or not walk naked to the fridge but really, these are small sacrifices compared to not living constantly under a cloud of fear that you won't be able to afford your own life anymore. 
I know, our parents are their own people and don't like to be "cared for" but... 
I think this might be more Western thought "conditioning" than the natural state of things.
We see mostly multi-generational households where ever we have been this last year.
It's only our society that shuns the elderly/young family combo so much.
And where has it got us? 
The highest rates of depression and healthcare costs in the world!
Having your granny babysit for you while you're at work and  then making her a cup of tea , when you get home, is a pretty fair deal in anyone's book.
No childcare costs and no prozac bill- everyone wins.
But the taboo, in our culture works both ways. 
Older people say, "oh you don't want to live with your kids" as if it's somehow admitting defeat. Like,  your kid is a loser or you are about to kick the bucket-or that it's only what you'll do when the adult diapers come out.
Why is that?
Why not make it easier on everyone?
Of course you all have to be civil and cool and have great manners to make a household of many generations work but that's all good, right?
You can listen to jazz while you make dinner and still watch football on Sunday...can't you?
You can help grandpa with fixing the roof and then he can take the kids fishing while you have the house to yourselves, right?
You can take a vacation and not have to hire a dog-sitter.
Grandma can take a vacation and the plants won't die.
Grandparents make excellent babysitters and they pick up the mail and they know lots of things about how to take care of a house and a garden and children and us younger people can fix things and work hard and make the evenings a little less lonely with all the laughter and... 
So what's the issue?
You can't make the same jokes as you would if they weren't in the room? That's what hearing aids are for. They are more than happy to turn them off anyway. In fact, they probably already did..
And for them?
So...There's water on the floor in bathroom and socks are hung over the fence and Barbies and Lego are left behind every couch cushion but that's how a young life goes.
Nothing is that big a deal.
And you never have to drive anywhere else on Christmas day.
Privacy is perfectly available- you just have to know where to look for it.
This is our new form of social experimentation.
-even though it's old hat for the rest of the world.

In the future we are sailing and then...
we are trying out co-habitation with others. 
I see one, big, goy-kibbutz in our future.
Our decision has everything to do with discoveries we made while living aboard.
When times are tough and the stress is about money, well, that is just not a happy way to live but the crazy thing is, it can often be resolved by simply adjusting one's expectations and waking up to a more traditional formula for how humans can live a happy, productive life.
Having separate houses is not a birthright...
Having one roof over your head and the ones you love, is.
-and potable water.
I think we all deserve that much.