Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012. Anchorage, Alaska

December 17, 2012 – Anchorage, Alaska

It is now three days before the start of winter, although one would not know that by looking outside our kitchen window, where the snow is piled high on the back deck and over the Christmas lights strung around it.  The sky is a beautiful clear blue, and the temperature has warmed to minus 6 degrees.  With a warm cup of tea, Christmas music in the background and a fire going, it seems far away from our fall cruising in the Sea of Cortez this year, where the temperature was usually at least 90 degrees warmer than this. 

I think that the fall is perhaps the very best time to cruise the Sea.  This year was a little different because there has been a good deal of rain, at least by Baja standards.  As a result, the hills were quite green, instead of brown, and the air was somewhat humid.  The real downside was that we found ourselves pestered by flies and some mosquitos that had not been an issue in La Paz the prior winters.  The locals were happy to have the moisture so there must be more pluses than minuses. 

As we had discovered last year, there are flocks of little yellow butterflies that are found even way off shore.  I don’t know where they are the rest of the year, but it made us feel like old timers to see them again and be able to say – oh yes, as usual in the fall. 

The air temperature in the early fall is higher than I like, especially during the day.  At the beginning of October it is frequently in the high 90’s.  By the time we left in the first week of December, it had dropped into the 80’s during the days and the 60’s at night, making for great sleeping.  The wonderful thing, however, is the water.  Starting above 85 in October, it was still just below 80 when we left and extraordinarily clear.  I think we could always see the anchor.  Swimming was something that we did multiply times a day, and, if we were alone, we did not bother with suits.  It was heaven.  We are currently planning on bringing the boat back north this summer, and I am having a hard time adjusting to losing this aspect of Mexico.

This year we did not have any specific plans to go anywhere.  It was incredibly relaxed, even by our standards.  We spent time generally near La Paz and explored some of the smaller coves that we had passed over in prior years, but somehow did it with no sense of urgency.  It was wonderful.  There was lots of time for reading, knitting, other handwork, kayaking, and just enjoying each other and any guests who dropped by for a drink or to visit. 

As usual, we met wonderful people.  One young couple from Canada was planning to go off to the Pacific.  They were darling and I was slightly envious that we were not in their shoes.  Another cruising couple gifted us with 16,000+ eBooks.  I have finally figured out how to get them on my kindle and Earl’s iPad, so we may never need to buy another book from kindle.  The week before we left, we met up with Nina, our Norwegian friend off the 27-foot sailboat Bika.  They have spent 7 years on a sailboat with ‘limited amenities”.  As Nina said, just having no through hulls limits things a lot.  They have really mastered a simple way of life.  They too are planning to head across the Pacific where they plan to sell Bika and buy a larger sailboat in which they will live when they return to Norway.

The week before we left, we finally got to see the whale sharks that are frequently found out in front of La Paz.  These are strange creatures.  They are filter feeders and very large.  They grow up to between 40 and 60 feet.  Their mouths are huge.  For all their size, they are very docile and many people swim in the water with them.   We admired them from the deck. 

For now we will bundle up and enjoy the North Country, our family and the holiday season.  How lucky we are!  We return to Mexico around January 15th and, in contrast to the fall, have a busy schedule planned.  We will cross over to the Mainland in January with the help of our friends, Joan and Clark Scarboro.  Then come mid February we will be back on the Baja to pickup our son Stuart and his wife in Loreto and cruise down to La Paz.  We will reverse the trip and return to Loreto with friends from La Conner, and hopefully have a visit from old friends, Jim and Jane from New York before another visit from our son Brian and his family.  Then, it will be time to figure out when to go north back to the Puget Sound area.  (Or not, if we change our minds).