Monthly Archives: October 2014

“All come to look for America” (Paul Simon)

Our first cruising season took us thousands of miles away from the United States physically.  We traveled an equal or greater distance intellectually and emotionally as we tuned in to the daily cruisers’ radio net for weather and the fleet’s comings and goings rather than the nightly news.  Our return to the States and road trip immersed us in our country’s here-and-now and steeped us in its rich and complex natural and cultural history.  While we did not go looking for America, we would have been asleep had we found nothing.

Among our new found appreciation,  is our country’s scale.  Size may or not matter in some things, but our country’s vastness, as experienced from our car, impressed us.  For example, a straight flat road, with hardly a turn or climb characterized our long day’s drive across South Dakota’s Great Plains.

Within this vast space, are both subtle and dramatic differences.   Western rangelands morph almost seamlessly into Midwestern farmland.  Dairy herds, rather than cattle, marked the transition on relatively similar landscapes.  In contrast, the Rockies boldly heralded our entrance from Texas’ southern plains into Colorado.  Canyonlands’ eye-popping spires uniquely mark the Four Corners territory.

Cultural distinctions are also both subtle and stark.  Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas all boast their own variation on the barbecue theme.  Eric vows to someday return to sample them all.  None of these distinct flavors are anything like chowder (whether of the New York or Boston variety).  On a more somber note, each region has its own variation of the Native American displacement story.  The Little Bighorn, Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears, and the Taos and Santa Fe pueblos each remind us that the peoples’ occupation of this land can change dramatically.

If our country’s spacial metric has new meaning, so too does our appreciation of time as a way to evaluate our current circumstances.  Twenty minutes from Los Alamos (the bomb’s home) we looked over the Valles Caldera, created millions of years ago by a volcano with the power of hundreds of thousands of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The eruption deposited soft sediment called tuff that later provided the base from which the Ancient Pueblo carved dwellings and built their civilization.  Whether we see the volcano as destructive or creative depends entirely on what time frame we use.

So, we leave our home country for points south with renewed appreciation and deeper understanding.  We also bring with us new tools for considering the countries, landscapes and cultures we will encounter during our second cruising season.









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“Not all those who wander are lost” (J.R.R. Tolkien)


On September 23, we arrived back in LA, where we landed on June 1 after departing Mexico.  Our 115 day road trip, in red on the road atlas map below, covered 15,000 miles and transited 32 states.

road trip map

Our travels’ purposes included reconnecting with friends and family, keeping our travel skills sharp, and viewing our present lives through our pasts’ prism.  Our accomplishments on all counts leave us pleased and energized.

Under our friends and family plan, we visited our daughters (twice), all eight of our siblings, twelve nieces and nephews, nine  first cousins,  six more removed cousins, and an aunt and uncle.  Friends dating to elementary school opened their homes, or provided tent space in their yards.  Renewing these connections refreshed us following our first cruising season and have primed us for the upcoming season’s distance from these good and dear folks.

While land cruising and sea cruising are very different, they both require  the two of us to closely coordinate, clearly communicate, and live with uncertainty about where we will be at any given time and what exactly we will be doing.  Additionally, each mode requires keeping gear organized and maintained.  By the end we had set into a comfortable groove.  As was the case on Elizabeth Jean, Eulalie did much of the driving, while Eric planned logistics and entertained the captain.

Last, but not least, our trip down so many memory lanes grounds us well in our current odyssey.  Eualie’s trip to Rochester reconnected her to her first sailing days as well as memories of her 6th grade science teacher Mr. Kolb, who sparked her passion for ecology.  Eulalie’s visit to Echo Hill, where she in turn taught ecology to young students, is a direct path to her work at the Seattle Aquarium, and Salish Sea Expeditions.  Eric’s visit to Canyonlands and NOLS contacts reminded him of his love for wilderness wandering and his hope to complete a significant travel.  His visits with his mentor and friend from the Williams College Mystic Seaport experience reminded him of his trail to the University of Washington Institute for Marine Studies, where he and Eulalie met and from where they launched their professional as well as personal lives.

through beaufort 069

We even found the real memory lane on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

prius family photo

At the end of the road, we sold our faithful Prius to our daughter Jean’s friend Anna Tan, here pictured with her partner, Peter Owens and  Jean.  We are happy to have the car sort of, kind of in the family.  We are also a bit sad to be letting go of another tie to our past lives.

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