08 November 2020

World Wandering - Time for Plan B

HOME - right now - is a boat on a canal in the south of France. 

Maggie May.

25 tons. 15 meters long. Just over 4 meters wide. 

3 cabins, 3 bathrooms. Generous galley. 
Bright, light. Beautiful woodwork. Comfortable. 

An aft deck that has been home to many good evenings with friends. 

Boat Gang evening!

But - she really wasn't supposed to be a full-time residence. 

In New Mexico, we lived in a wonderful old "adobe hacienda" for 20 years. 

It was over a hundred years old. 

Last year, we sold it. 

Sold or gave away everything inside: 
Antiques from the 1700s, treasures gathered from around the world, old Spanish hand-carved furniture, hand-knotted rugs, art, silver, first-edition books, original paintings, carvings, crystal glassware, pre-Columbian pottery, art guitars, tools, garden sculptures, bicycles, cars, motorcycles - everything. 

We even gave the cat to the neighbors. (I think she was relieved.)

The goal was - Simplicity. Flexibility. 

To be able to take off. 
Hit the road when the mood strikes. 

Travel the world.

I had this idea of living a "one-key" life. 

We did it! 
One boat key. 
That's it.

The idea was - a "lock up and leave" base in Europe. 
 No yard. No utilities. No property taxes.

Few obligations. Few responsibilities. 

We talked about  getting down to a "passport and a credit card".
That was the ideal. 
(Okay, that's a bit extreme, but - you get the idea.) 

We wanted the freedom to move easily.

Son Mikey's "Itchy Feet" comic

I love to travel.  
It keeps life exciting - solving puzzles.

Figuring out where to buy food. Where to stay. 
How to get around. 

Or even where to take out the trash. 

Mysteries of trying to speak the language.
Connecting with people who don't think like I do.

It's a challenge.

Each episode is a small adventure in feeling fully alive. 

Cow intestines, Stan?

So now - Maggie May is our base in Europe. 
Just as planned. 

So far, so good.

Then - along came a virus. 

Suddenly, travel stopped completely. 

We went into lockdown in France in March. 
Documentation was required to leave the boat.

Borders closed. 
Even regional travel not allowed. 

Plan A - totally derailed. 


Yes, things opened up over summer. 
But ah, the cost of being too social! 

 Boat Gang - and our favorite local wine distributor! 

Now France is back in lockdown again. 
Along with a half dozen other European countries. 

It doesn't feel like this will be the last time, either.  

It's not over. 

I'm glad to have made the most of travel while it was possible!
- to maybe - over a hundred countries. 

You never know what the future will bring.
No guarantees. 

But - the world is changing.

Travel has become more complicated.
Less appealing.

It looks like - it's time for Plan B. 

I have no idea what that looks like. 
It's an interesting situation to be in.
(We're already very fortunate with our situation - compared to many.)

But - what did I say about wanting to stay flexible?

So - we'll see. 

Who knows? A change may be just around the corner....

Meanwhile, it's a beautiful November in the south of France.

Even if it's VERY quiet out there.

14 August 2020

Baja California - by Small Plane

I owned a small plane for many years.

A 1958 Cessna 175.

(4-seater. Tricycle gear. Franklin engine. Good for short runways.)

Bought it used in Liberia, West Africa in 1982.
I learned to fly there.

Built in 1958! 
A couple of missionaries flew it to West Africa. 
From the US. Via Brazil. Yikes.

Every landing in Liberia had a welcoming committee of small boys. Especially for a "missy" pilot!

I learned to fly over the jungles of West Africa.
Serious "bush" flying.

Yes, that's the runway. Straight ahead. 

Flying in Africa - is a very cool story. For another day.

But it made me comfortable flying into short fields and dirt airstrips.

Landing strip - by the beach. Handy - if that's where you want to set up your tent.

And - it brings us to to Baja.
It's relevant.

Because - the best parts of Baja are visited by small plane.
I kept that plane from Africa.

Flew it from Liberia to Switzerland when I worked there.
Then brought it along when we moved to New Mexico.

(My company, Pan Am, said I could ship a 'vehicle'.
They probably didn't expect it to be a plane.)

Where's Baja?
Not everyone knows.

Baja California is not in California.
It's in Mexico.

It's the long lean peninsula off the western coast of Mexico.
Between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. 

Below California.
Thus the name "Baja".

"Lower" California.
But not part of the US.

(Of course, that doesn't bother us.
We're from New Mexico. 

Which - is not in Mexico.)

Mulege. The landing strip is to the left. See it?

Baja is remote and crazy beautiful.

Not Cabo San Lucas, down at the far end.
Not Ensenada, up near San Diego.

But the thousand or so kilometers in between.

The Fish Whisperer?

 It's a dry, dramatic, desert peninsula.
Amazing coastline and craggy mountains.

Wonderful for flying.

And the water is the perfect temperature.

There's wildlife:
Birds. Dolphins. Reptiles. Fish. Whales. Corals.

Amazing plants.
Ocean life.

With hardly anyone around.

It's not real easy to get to some parts of Baja without a small plane. 

So one time, Stan and I flew down to a tiny airstrip over Christmas.
I'd been there before, and wanted to show it to him.

Yep -  that's the runway. To the left. 

We'd brought our tent and a couple of sleeping bags.

Stan always brings his guitar. Even to the beach. In a very small plane.

We set up camp on the beach, under a straw palapa umbrella.
About 100 yards from the airplane.

It was parked on the sandy airstrip.

The view from our tent.

No one else around.

But there was a place nearby that sold fish tacos and cold beer.

That'll do.

For Christmas, they made pumpkin tamales.


View of our 'home' from an early morning swim in the sea.

Landing at Punta Chivato. Nearby. Easier than at San Francisquito.

When my kids were small, we'd pack them into the back of the plane. 

Mikey and Erik, collecting shells at Punta Chivato.

Head across the Sea of Cortez - to Baja California Sur.

We could make it in a day from Albuquerque.

Crossing the border into Mexico at Nogales.
(You had to stop at both sides of the border to clear customs.)

Kilian and Trish

The beach - the Sea of Cortez - is calm and shallow.

Perfect for small children.

Someday, they'll finish paving the road.

Maybe they have already.

The place may become wildly popular.

Another Cabo San Lucas.
High-rise hotels. Hip bars. Mega malls.

Who knows?

I'm just glad I had the opportunity to experience it - for many years - like this.

Welcome to Baja.