3 weeks vacation from Prism's refit
When Jon and I left California back in October, we knew that it was most likely the last time we were going to see Grandma, so we took our time with our goodbye and logged that last get together in our memories as one to never forget. It was 5 days after Christmas when we got the call, Grandma had passed away peacefully in her sleep. She finally rejoined the love of her life in another world after being apart for 19 years. We are all pretty sure she is drinking the best martinis and enjoying a good dance with her husband to one of their favorite Frank Sinatra songs.
We made plans to head back to California for the service and to be with family. Although it was for a somber reason, we were looking forward to seeing family once again.
Jon and I spent hours looking for the cheapest flights back to California, which all included over 12 hours of travel and at least 4 layovers. The winning flights had us leaving New Bern at 5 AM and coming back at 11:50 PM, so the next step was to figure out a way to 1: get to the airport, 2: find somewhere that was not long term parking at the airport for our car and 3: find a way home from the airport. Yes most people living in any type of real world city would just take an Uber, but that was not an option, as in there are no Ubers here, at least none that are willing to drive to Bayboro at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Luckily for us we have family, yet not really family members here in Oriental NC. Let me explain; Tess, Jon’s sister, well her husband’s cousin, Tyler lives here on a sailboat with his family. It was he who came to our rescue. Tyler was willing to drop us off, keep our car or anything we needed. So nice for a guy we have never met and we are not technically related.
Did i mention that we were also flying during the government shutdown....
We had no idea what the airport was going to be like because of the shut down so we wanted to be there with plenty of time just in case. Which meant we needed to be at the airport around 3:30-3:50 AM and would not wish for anyone to have to get out of bed at that hour if they didn’t have to. So we drove ourselves to the airport, half asleep and a little light headed from he VOCs of our varnish job.
Tyler offered to pick up our car from the airport and drive it back to Oriental, (12 minutes from Bayboro) to keep it there for the 3 weeks while we were gone and then drive it back to the airport the day we fly back in so we could drive ourselves back to Bayboro at the late hour. SWEET! THANK YOU TYLER!!!!
The flight to California
Once we arrived to the New Bern airport we kinda laughed at ourselves for getting there so early as it was not even open yet and didn’t open for another 30 minutes. The airport only has 2 gates and maybe a total of 10 people working, We used the kiosk to check in and were ready to go with more than an hour till boarding, with nothing to do, eat, or drink.
Small airports… now we know.
We flew from New Bern to Charlotte, then to San Diego, then LAX, then finally to Fresno. We were pretty lucky with our flights and did not have any long layovers. We did have to run from one side of the Charlotte airport to the other to make our flight just in time. We thanked our lucky stars that we had zero problems or delays due to the showdown.
We arrived in Fresno around 2 pm and were picked up by a very happy (yet sad, considering why we were home) Momma Neely. Where do you think we went first? Yep, In n’ Out. YUM, there is truly nothing in the world like an IN n Out Double Double. We had a few other stops while we were down in town as we needed to pick up some things for the memorial in 2 days.
Jon grew up in a little mountain town called Shaver Lake, and when we left winter was just thinking about showing up. Well it would soon be here and in full force. This part of the sierras has not had a winter like this since the 2009/2010 season. We had no idea that during our time home we would witness record making snow accumulation.
Grandma Alice’s memorial was beautiful and filled with so much love. She was a wonderful woman who was deeply loved and cherished by all. The celebration of her life continued into the wee hours of the night as we all remembered this incredible woman, while of course drinking her favorite, Martinis.
It’s Momma Neely’s Birthday! and that means it time for her annual all girls spa day! This started a few years back and pretty much every one of Debbies girlfriends looks forward to her birthday as much as she does. We started the day off with brunch and mimosas before heading to the spa, which included even more mimosas. Once everyone was massaged and pampered some of us went to lunch and then went bowling. While bowling, we wanted to have more drinks and noticed the Mega Mule on the menu, um why not. A few minutes later we were greeted by 2 of the largest copper mugs any of us had ever seen. Literally, they were larger than the size of our heads. After a game filled with so much laughter we called it a night and all headed back up the mountain.
That weekend our friends Mitch and Quincey ( Q+M Travels ) from Berkeley drove up the mountain to come skiing with us and wouldn’t you know it, it was a blizzard! All 6 of us, Jon, Chris, Marissa, Mitch, Quincey and myself were awake bright and early, as we needed to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to drive because the blizzard was only getting more intense. I rode up early with Momma Neely to get my rentals sorted out and met up with the everyone else for breakfast. We all got our tickets and were ready to spend the day enjoying the runs at China Peak. Sadly because of the weather only 2 chairs were open, but that did not stop us from having a blast and enjoying a few bloody marys at Buckhorn.
Chris's 21st Birthday
When we planed our trip home, we made sure we stayed long enough to be around for Jon’s little brother Chris’s birthday. His wife had been planing this for a long time, and everyone was heading to Catalina Island to spend the weekend.
Chris and Marissa aboard SV Avocet had their eyes set on sailing to the island for this weekend celebration. BUT their vessel needed some attention before we could all set off.
This was going to be Chris and Marissa’s first over night passage so Jon and I asked if they would like us to join them. Let me tell you, I sure wish like hell that someone had been aboard with Jon and I during our first night passage, cause it was by far the most intense night ever, I had never been so scared for my life or Jon’s.
Jon and I headed down to Oxnard with Chris and Marissa to help them get their boat ready for this passage. Chris had a few things on his to do list, the electrical panel was not one of them. When Jon opened up the access to the panel to help install the anchor light, what he found was a huge fire hazard. Jon and I went into full on electrician mode and we were not going to set sail till this was fixed.
For the next 2 days, Jon, Chris and I worked around the clock to get Avocet ready for our departure. When Marissa would get home from work, she would jump right in, then make copious amounts of food to feed us all.
It took just under a week to get everything back in shape to make the 70NM passage. We were all stocked up on food and booze as we had to bring the booze and food for the entire party because most were flying in by helicopter and were limited to 25lbs.
Sailing to Avalon on Catalina Island
We left the docks around 8pm Friday night, motoring out of the protected harbor and through the maze of crab pots. The night was calm, clear and cold. Sadly there was zero wind, so it was going to be a long night of motoring. We asked captain Chris how he wanted to set up the shifts, he opted for couples with 4 hours watches. “Okay then, this is your boat so y’all can have first watch” Jon and I said as we climbed into bed and closed the hatch. I went into the aft cabin and grabbed Cleo (their kitty), who was huddled in the corner wishing she was not on a moving boat and not alone. I climbed into bed and wedged the kitty between Jon and I. We were out within seconds being lulled to sleep by the motion and sound of the smooth engine. 4 hours later, Cleo was still in my arms sound asleep but it was time for our watch.
Marissa and I did the cat swap while Chris updated Jon about the conditions and shipping traffic. We told them to try and get as much sleep as they could, knowing well in fact how hard it can be having your home in the hands of someone who is not you.
Shortly after coming up on deck we were joined by speeding bright blue trails of phosphorescence. DOLPHINS! YESSSSS, even after 10,000 nm sailed, Jon and I still light up like little kids on Christmas when we see dolphins. These babies stayed with us for our whole watch. 4 hours goes by quick when you not only have dolphins but also someone else on watch with you. Jon and I laughed and enjoyed the fact that this was not our boat and we only had to do one watch as we woke up the sleeping captain and first mate.
Marissa and I did the cat swap again, keeping Cleo snuggled and warm while we took turns on watch. After a few hours the wind must have picked up as Jon and I felt the familiar pull and heel of full sails. Cleo however did not enjoy this new angle and made her way to the stairs to yell at her mom and dad. When Marissa opened the doors Cleo joined them in the cockpit and let them know she was not impressed. I laughed and went back to sleep.
Jon and I woke to coffee and Catalina Island to our STBD. This island never gets old! Sadly by the time we were up and on deck the wind had died as we found ourselves in the lee of the island just a few more hours away from our destination, Avalon.
As we pulled in closer to the Harbor it was hard not to jump up, get on the VHF and call harbor patrol, I had to keep reminding myself that we were not the ones in charge of this vessel, talk about a hard habit to break. Chris and Marissa did their thing and had us checked in for the next few days, next mission was grabbing the mooring ball. If you have never been to Catalina Island I’m sure the mooring system can be a bit confusing, but growing up here I knew all about them and have done it more times than I can remember. Jon and I walked Chris and Marissa though the process. Chris was at the helm with Jon offering advise, while Marissa and I were at the bow. Chris brought us up to the mooring ball float with the help of the wind, I grabbed the bobber and then told Marissa what to do. Not going to lie, I knew how fast you had to run the spreader line to the back of the boat and I got a kick out of watching Marissa make the mistake I did so many times growing up, taking to long. Luckily she is a strong woman and was able to hold on to the line and bring Avocet’s ass end back around. She secured the lines and we were there! Time for breakfast and mimosas!
Let the celebration begin! As the four of us sat in the cockpit enjoying the sun, food, booze and scenery we all jumped up when we heard the first helicopter. Momma Neely and Tess are here!
Chris rowed to shore to pick up Mom and Tess, while the rest of us picked up the mess and laziness that a night passage leaves behind and opened up another bottle of champagne. Now all 6 of us enjoyed the sun and booze and Jon’s attempt to do a proper swan dive into the brisk waters.
A few hours later the next of our friends had arrived by boat and helicopter. There clearly was not enough room for all 9 of us to stay aboard so the others rented a small house in Avalon. We all made our way there to get settled in. Marissa went straight into preparing a birthday feast. While the rest of us were playing, joking around and yes, still drinking, she was making copious amounts of eggplant parm. Yum.
Once we were done eating we all somehow ended up on the beach singing at the top of our lungs while staring out over the harbor towards mainland. The night was cool, clear and perfect. Chris, Marissa, Jon and I went back to the boat while the others made their way to the house. We all wanted to be up early the next morning to get a start on our exciting day of exploring Avalon. I was the only person who had ever been here ( besides when Jon and I sailed Prism here over 5 years prior) so everyone was looking forward to seeing this little town. Personally I like 2 harbors way more than Avalon and this was not my birthday…but, they still don’t know what they are missing.
The next morning, we all gathered at the house after coffee and breakfast, but soon were looking for a little hair of the dog. We started our day, or should I say mid-day activities at Luau Larry’s. Somehow we all crammed into the tiny booth which was in a cave, yes a cave and I am sure every other patron in the place hated us. We were those people, the very loud, large group that most servers hate serving. Luckily our server was up for the challenge and even surprised us with a little tiki man trick. If you have never been to Luau Larry’s, then you need to go and order the Wacky something or other, the drink that you get the free hat with, cause if you are lucky enough to meet the little Tiki Man you will spend the rest of your trip laughing at the memory.
BUT if you are planning on renting a gulf cart the same day, DO NOT WARE THE LUAU LARRY WACKY HAT to the gulf cart place. They will NOT rent to you, not even to the people who had not been drinking. They have a zero tolerance policy, especially when it came to this hat/ drink. We were so shocked and could not believe it.
The man at the front desk also told us to remove the hat, walk to the other side of town where they had another golf cart rental place and to try there. Down the main street of Avalon we made our way to other other side and to the sister office sans hat. It worked! We rented 2 carts for 2 hours and off we went. The group wanted to do the full loop which can be done if you hustle. We started off by heading south towards the helipad landing and then up to the lookout and Wrigley Mansion. We then made our way back down into town, then west to the Botanical Gardens and basically ran our way up to the Wrigley Memorial. Back to the carts and off to the north end of Avalon. Let me also state that one gulf cart was much faster than the other, oh and that every time we came to a stop for a view, because of a stop sign or anything Tess would yell ” SWITCH” and everyone would do a Chinese fire drill.
We made our way up and down the back looop where the carts are permitted to go, stopped at the Casino, became very jealous of all the divers in the Park and then we returned the carts 1 hour and 48 minutes later. And yes they do prorate you, so I got a whopping $7.43 back, sweet, that’s just enough for maybe one drink on this island.
The group made its way to the closest restaurant as we were all getting a little hangry and well the hangovers we starting to show their ugly faces again from the previous night. We cant have that! After full plates of Mexican food and a few rounds of drinks we deiced to take an afternoon break. Half of us went back to Avocet and some went back to the house to get a nap in before the long night of celebrating Chris’s 21st birthday.
Those of us who went to the boat, well we didn’t get a nap in, in fact we just drank more and laughed so hard while sharing stories we were at the point of crying. Then the time was near, it was time to get the party started. Our goal was to sing our hearts out doing Karaoke and drinking as if we were all 21 again. We stayed out and tried venturing out to other bars but did not have much luck. Once we all had our fill and time on stage we headed back to the house for birthday cake. Just what a bunch of drunks need, chocolate cake right before they hit the sack. Yes it was fun and yes we all paid for it the next morning.
Sunday morning was our time to leave, well besides Chris and Marissa who were waiting a few more days for weather till they sailed back, plus it was also Marissa’s birthday in 2 days so the newly weds stayed to celebrate her 22nd birthday together. The rest of us however loaded up on the Catalina Express and made our way back to the mainland. Jon and I hitched a ride back to Fresno with Momma Neely and Tess.
WATCH SV AVOCET'S VIDEO ABOUT THIS TRIP
Quick Trip to the Bay
With just a few more days left in our time home, we squeezed in a trip to the SF Bay to see the Mason 43′ and Bay area friends.
The main reason for this little bay area road trip was to visit my best friend Katie in the city. Her and her husband ( yes the same couple in which I was in their wedding and we basically sailed home for their wedding) well, they had a baby boy right after Christmas and I was hell bent on meeting the little dude before heading back to the other side of the country.
So Momma Neely, Jon and I made our way from Berkeley to the city to spend they day with the new parents and my newest nephew. It was cold and raining in SF, which is standard for the city in February, but that did not stop us from enjoying our visit. Between Momma Neely and I, I don’t think we put baby Xander down once. He is an adorable well behaved newborn and I am so happy I got to meet him and spent time with the new parents. I am so happy for my friends and their growing family. As our visit came to an end, I told Xander that his Auntie Shannon and Uncle Jon are always traveling so he wont see us much, but we will probably be the reason where they choose to vacation as he grows up. 🙂
While in the Bay we made sure to stop by BMC to see my yard family and to visit with friends in the Berkeley Marina.
Once again it was time to leave, and we got stuck in traffic on the 580 like always if you don’t get out of the bay before 1pm.
The end of vacation
Before we knew it our 3 weeks was over. We jammed in a lot during our time home and even though it was for a somber reason, we took the chance of family and friends getting together to make memories and share the love we all have for each other.
I wish we could have fit in a visit with my family in Cambria, but it was not in the cards for this trip.
We had a pretty early flight and with the snow storms showing no signs of lighting up, we made our way down the mountain the day before our flight as we did not want to take any chances.
Jon and I spent the night at his best friends house, Clarke’s and had a pretty good get together with our friends not knowing the next time we will get to see each other again.
The next morning Clarke got out of bed in the wee hours to drive us to the airport, we said our goodbyes and we were off.
Prism, we are on our way back to you and the never ending work list you keep producing.