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Entries in travel with a baby (7)

Thursday
Jul252013

People are Awesome | San Diego Wrap Up

Celebrating my birthday and opening Amazon packages sent to Mele's house for us.

Before we move on to new Mexico posts, there are still people that I owe thanks to. How, you may ask, can a family of four afford to travel to San Diego from Mexico, and then stay for almost a month there? Through the awesomeness of friends, that is how.

And we know some adventurers.

Lyra, Mele, and Cora, playing at Helen and Glyn's house.

Mele let us stay at her place and use her car while she was visiting her family in Hawaii.

She let us use her mailing address for all shipments coming in (and still is, thank you keeper of our San Diego mail!!)

Making coffee and peanut butter sandwiches at Mele's house.

When Mele left us the keys for her place, she apologized for its being so small. Small? Mele, your place was palatial compared to our usual surroundings :)

Our next adventurer friend, Joanna, let us stay in her beautiful home, and use her car too while she was backpacking through Guatemala and Honduras. Bonus? She has an adorable cat we got to befriend and take care of too. Joanna, I hope I can repay your kindness one day.

Remember this handsome family from our adventures in Catalina last year? While Helen and the girls were in London for both work and to visit family, we stayed at their home, hosted by Glyn, and also had use of their car and car seats as well.

Such generosity! I only hope I can one day repay the kind of trust and openness it takes to allow someone to stay in your home while you are gone, and not just one person, but a family of four, with wee little kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And if I can't repay it directly, I shall pay it forward whenever I get the opportunity.

Brad and Ariel, with their gorgeous kids Makani and Aurelia. Picture by Carrie Kaufmann Photography.

My friend Ariel drove back and forth across the city of San Diego to drop off and pick up a spare car seat for Lyra to use while in San Diego. Ariel, muchas gracias amiga.

Cody and Paige, both rocking Tula Baby Carriers and wearing their kids Maddi and Colin. Picture by Alanna Westfall Photography.

Oh my friend Paige. Thanks for giving me my first girl's night since Lyra's birth. Even if that meant just sitting slumped on your workshop floor, while Lyra slept in Colin's old crib, you sewed and I sipped wine, and we talked about business. I needed that! And Cody, you have no idea how sane you kept Eric by letting him use your garage gym. Plus, I can thank you for helping me to have a buff husband.

We were lucky enough to have Cora's longest running, and much loved, babysitter, Taylor, in town from college for the summer. She watched Cora, for FREE. Maybe one day I will watch your babies Taylor? You never know ;)

And while we had a babysitter we got to go on an actual date. Well, as actual as you can get with a four month old nursling.

This shot from dinner at Lizz's reminds me of a modern day Van Eyck painting, no?

People were not only generous with their time and their belongings, they fed us too. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we were lucky enough to meet up with, and re-connect with so many friends. And oh the food...stop it! I love Mexican food, but I sure missed the healthy staples of urban San Diego.

Cora thought it was her birthday when we opened this present of handmade play food from our friend Danielle in Canada.

Cora and Lyra with their Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Lou.

To the family and friends who drove long ways to see us, thank you. And really, this post just scratches the surface. So many people offered us help and love and support. (Corinne, thank you for offering your home as well!)

The crew of s/v Rebel Heart sends our amigos in SD much love and mucho thanks.

Wednesday
Jul172013

How to Drive Down Baja | You Need to Have a Death Wish

You need to be a complete nutter to be willing to drive down the Baja Peninsula.

I would have never done this drive if I had truly known just how dangerous it would be. 

Thank God Eric was driving. If it had been me, we would have all perished in a flaming, fiery inferno.I did some pre-trip "research" and all the sites I found said things like "you can totally do this!" or, "Wow, the road had never been so good." I left feeling happy. Cheery. Ready for a little family jaunt down through the desert of our neighboring country. I country I love, I might add.

The happy glow of our first breakfast on the road before the road turned into a death-trap waiting to eat us.For those of you who have found this post by Googling and are getting ready to do your own road trip down Baja. Here is my advice.

Don't.

It's effing dangerous. 

If you decide to ignore me, well then, fine, here's how we did it, but we certainly won't be doing that again.

The Cast of Characters

Top left: Eric, 35, dad of two, just trying to get us from San Diego to La Paz in one piece.

Top right: Charlotte, 34, absolutely exhausted mother of two. Needed.my.coffee. 

Bottom left: Cora, almost 3 years old. Normal, vivacious 2 year old that will not stop talking.

Bottom right: Lyra, a super chill five month old. Just wants to be where we are. Sweet.

We drove from San Diego, California, to La Paz, Baja California Sur. On Saturday morning Eric took the trolley to Tijuana and rented a car and then drove it across the border. We packed up all our things and then crossed at the international border, getting our visas renewed in the process. 

The only reason we chose to drive down is because we needed to transport several key items for our boat and that we'd need to cross the Pacific Ocean in the spring.

No. We couldn't just "ship them down." No. We couldn't just "fly them down." No, we weren't going to bash our boat up the coast again to get them. We should have brought them on our boat in the first place, but they cost a lot of money, money we didn't have at the time we left to sail to Mexico.

How We Broke Up the Trip

First day: San Diego to Ensenada.

Second day: Ensenada to Santa Rosalia.

Third day: Santa Rosalia to La Paz.

People will tell you not to drive at night because cows will sleep on the road (for the warmth) and you'll just drive right up on them, smash into them, and die.

Well, let me tell you, they meander across the road during daylight hours too. We had to come to a complete stop for a horse, a donkey (mule?), and two dogs crossing the road. All on separate occasions.

We also waved to tons of cows just off the side of the road chewing their cud. Semi trucks are barreling down this two-lane road that is Mexico's transpeninsular highway. Imagine if they needed to stop, or swerve, for these animals.

Be careful.

Pro-tip: after brushing your teeth for the night, wrap your toothbrushes in toilet paper so you won't be 100% skeeved out by the giant cockroach sitting next to them in the morning when you wake up. Eric still needed to brush his teeth in this picture. Don't worry, his got wrapped up too.

We didn't cross the international border until about 6pm San Diego time. This put us in Ensenada right as the sun was going down. We stayed at a hotel there and then got up at 5:00am to carry on. I didn't sleep a wink. There were two double beds in the room so we put Eric and Cora in one and Lyra and I in the other. We aren't co-sleepers (nothing wrong it, just not for us.) I was terrified all night that she would starfish herself off the bed while I was sleeping. Eric didn't sleep because Cora kept punching him in the stomach with her (you pick): leg, foot, head.

A few hours later we stopped in San Quentin for breakfast. They served us this atop our huevos rancheros.

(You can't make this stuff up.)All I'm going to say is, other than the bizarrely splayed, happily erect sausage, the food was good, the service was great, and the bathrooms were clean. They even had a changing table.

Stop there.

Eat.

Get ready for the next portion of the drive.

Driving from San Quentin to Guerrero Negro was a nightmare. This is a two lane highway, with heavy traffic, including semis, that truly doesn't even have a shoulder...and the road just drops off into cliffs and boulders. I sat in the passenger seat with my nails dug into my palms.

Maybe, maybe, if people actually drove the posted speed limits this road could be safe, but no one did and so with each hair pin turn vehicles drifted over into the other lane. Terrifying.

Perhaps it is because I'm from the West Coast. Eric said he remembers roads like this on the East Coast, but I was mortified.

Add up: two lane highway + no shoulders on the road + hair pin turns + no one follows the speed limits + semi trucks coming your way = anxiety to the max.

Then there were all the little monuments to the dead as we drove.

I think we must have seen a thousand memorials along the road as we passed by. We got pretty good at expecting them (basically any time you came upon a dangerous turn). That country song kept playing in my head:

There are three wooden crosses on the wrong side of the highway. Why there aren't four of them, heaven only knows...

So, that was a depressing little ditty to have on repeat in my head. It also didn't help that Cora kept saying with each car or truck that passed us in the opposite lane, "Oh, that truck is going to get us!" I finally told her to ZIP IT.

Diaper change time.

There are no rest stops. Luckily my mad growing-up-in-Alaska skills came into play as I explained to Cora the finer points of peeing outdoors. Diaper changes and nursing were done at random breaks in the road, or along the highway on any gravel turn off we could find. Other than that, Lyra was often crying from the seat behind us in her car seat. She is not used to driving or being in carseats. This was anxiety inducing for all of us.

Hiking up some stairs in Santa Rosalia. Babywearing ftw!

The roads in Baja California Norte are far worse than Baja California Sur. By the time we made it to the coast, and to Santa Rosalia on the second day, we were praising the universe for our good fortune. Well, I was at least. Eric thinks I'm being a tad dramatic about this, but I don't think so. 

We stretched our legs and walked around this old mining town, thankful to have made it this far. (Santa Rosalia has a fascinating history and wonderful architecture. I promise you'll see more of this town in our blog once we sail up into the Sea of Cortez.)

Eric wrote about a few of the positives of our trip. You can read about them here. Seeing Santa Rosalia and other coastal towns nearby were some of them.

We had dinner at Terco's in Santa Rosalia. Highly recommend. We asked another sailing couple to take our picture. We figured they were sailors by their REI-style clothing and the Chacos they were wearing. To Nancy and Tom on Sea Angel, thanks for the photo!

We stayed at El Frances Hotel in Santa Rosalia and all had a much better night's sleep. The girls shared a bed (with a divider placed in the middle so Cora couldn't smother Lyra, and a table pushed up alongside Lyra so she couldn't roll off.) Eric read the girls to sleep before hopping into our own bed.

The final push from Santa Rosalia to La Paz was not nearly as bad as the drive from San Quentin to Guerrero Negro, but still dangerous. I can't emphasise enough that I would not make this trip over again if I had to. People often ask if I think sailing is "dangerous." It can be, but I have never done something so dangerous with my family as drive that stretch of road. I'm so grateful we made it okay. 

Glad I still have these characters to love and enjoy.

Back to safe things like sailing, and maybe flying for me.

Saturday
Jul062013

Visits with Friends ~ San Diego June 2013 Edition

When I got into San Diego, almost the first thing I did was go see my friend, and amazing hair stylist, Karen. She has cut my hair since 1996. To say I missed her while in Mexico (and all the other times I've lived abroad) is an understatement. She immediately got me feeling awesome again. Thank you Karen!

Next up on our must-visit list? My brother Rich. I love you Rich.

The reunion of Wes and Cora was sweet indeed. I missed our friends. Ella and Gray. We may be sailing around the world soon, but you are not going to be able to get rid of us for long. I just know it.

We got to introduce Lyra to one set of her grandparents, Eric's parents, Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Lou.

And then Lizz and Beau gave us our first "adult night" since Lyra was born. This was accomplished by parking Cora in front of a couple of episodes of My Little Pony, strapping Lyra into my Tula, and enjoying an incredible home-cooked meal, and a long night of conversation and drinks, coupled with....

Playing Cards Against Humanity. If you haven't played this game yet, strap on your big-kid panties, imbibe something potent, and play it with some whip-smart friends. 

Reconnections with old friends. Lyra fell in love with my friend, Erin, from Point Loma High School (class of '97!)

My wonderful friend Kristine. One of the reasons why we came to San Diego was for Kristine and Jack's wedding.

Happy, happy day Kristine and Jack. 

Our friends Dan and Renee have made us dinner several nights and always make us feel at home. One of the great things about having friends with kids the same age as your own? You connect on so many levels. It's a special bond of sleep-deprived parents of toddlers.

And last, but not least, much time with the girl's "Mimi," or, my friend Mele, Lyra and Cora's godmother.

(Please note how sweet Cora is holding Lyra's hand. She does this of her own accord any chance she can get.)

It feels so good to be back home. We've missed our friends. So grateful for this chance to see them before we go back to Mexico and then across the South Pacific.

Wednesday
Apr242013

La Tovora, a boat ride through the jungle

Check out that sucker.

:shudder:

While we were in San Blas we asked some of the fellow sailors anchored near our boat if they wanted to join us for a river trip up through the jungle to La Tovara, a freshwater spring in the federally protected estuary near San Blas.

A great thing about sailors is that most of them are always up for an adventure.

We were up at the crack of dawn. All of the guidebooks said if you could be the first boat out, you would see far more birds and wildlife. They were right. The early morning light was gorgeous as the sturdy river boat glided through the jungle.

Apparently this estuary is a huge stopping point for migratory birds and each year in January there is an international bird watching festival to catch glimpses. A birder's paradise.

The first stop was to the Cocodrilario (crocodile nursery), where they raise the little beasties and then release them into the wild.

Yep, that is the gate to an enclosure with two 11ft + crocodiles inside, open, so they can fill their pen with some more water. No big deal...

Thank goodness for the portability of breastfeeding.Cora and her surrogate grandparents on the trip, Gayle and Barry from s/v Scotch Mist II

We hopped back into to the boat and headed into fresh water and toward a natural spring, called La Tovara. It is gated off so you can swim and play.

Cora and Eric gazing at the huge fish swimming all around them. 

We all took a turn (okay, several) on the swing they had set up to land you directly in the water.

Exhilaration after my first jump.

Here are all the photos from the trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday
Apr232013

All Good in San Blas

Rebel Heart pictured in the background at left. Me in the foreground.

It was a little strange to compare my visit to San Blas this past week to the visit I paid it over 15 years ago with a group of girlfriends in college. On an exchange program with my University in San Diego, I studied for six weeks in Guadalajara, and I managed to travel almost every weekend of the trip.

We did it the old fashioned way, chicken buses, hitchhiking and cockroach motels. It was a riot.

Charlotte, Iris, and Erin in San Blas, Nayarit in 1998.

This time around it was no college lark, but good ole' fashioned family fun and adventure time.

Folding baby bathtub becomes make-shift baby holder on the beach.More awesome Cora-organizing on the beach.

Cruising the aisles of San Blas' largest grocery store. I'm serious.Our taxi driver, Francisco, accompanied me everywhere, even though I speak Spanish and didn't need any help. I felt like a celebrity with a body guard.Lyra steals another heart in San Blas.

The Bells of San Blas by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

So far my favorite part of this trip has been being un-pregnant and not that miserable. So much of our actual cruising career has involved my being sick, pregnant, nursing, or a super rad combination of the three. To slowly be feeling like myself, and get to thoroughly enjoy all the perks of being a cruiser has been amazing.

There were only two other boats in Matanchen Bay with us when we were there. Being the social butterfly that I am, I invited everybody to join us on the beach for dinner one night. I love how people who have never met before can just immediately start chit-chatting. Here they were asking Eric about the tube kit and canvas cover we recently installed on our Walker Bay only seconds after meeting.

Eddie and Dee on s/v Disturbia. Dee spent every moment she could holding Lyra. Ahhh, sweet baby fixes.

Barry and Gayle on s/v Scotch Mist II.

So far, so good in San Blas!