Friday, June 3, 2016

Back In the USA

It’s Friday. I’ve been back in the USA for two days, gradually re-entering life at home, on land. It’s good to be back, but life here feels quite different than it did when I left in October.

Tuesday was a flurry of final boat prep tasks, primarily “pickling” the interior by wiping down surfaces with vinegar and leaving open containers of the stuff all around the boat. The theory is that the vinegar sterilizes the surfaces of mold/mildew spore and the vinegar evaporating from the containers lowers the pH of the air enough to kill airborne spores. Other boaters claim that this has worked, but I’m a bit skeptical. However, I didn’t have any other good alternatives, so I hope that the vinegar does its job.

I finally reached the end of the “to do” list, locked down all the hatches, turned off the power, took a last look around and then closed and locked the door. I felt a wave of sadness as memories of all the miles sailed and experiences over the past eight months passed through my mind. I gave Intermezzo an affectionate pat on her fiberglass hull; I’ve only done that to two other boats, the O’Day Javelin of my youth and my Pearson 37, Ariadne. Like Intermezzo, these boats always took good care of me and helped me grow as a sailor and as a person. They say you should never love inanimate objects that can’t love you back, but I say, if you are going to love one anyway, love a boat.  It’s not hard imagining a boat cares for you when it’s dark, the wind is howling, the waves are crashing, and you can’t see where you’re going, but the boat is doing fine and you know everything will be okay.

I left Intermezzo, looking back one last time at her in resting in her secure berth, and then caught a cab to the bus terminal in Puntarenas to start my trip back home. The bus to San Jose is a bit more than a two hour ride, a good portion of which through verdant highlands. It started to rain right as the bus left Puntarenas and didn’t stop. As we gained altitude, I started feeling quite cool, almost cold, a welcome feeling after weeks and weeks of sweltering heat.

I had booked a flight home that left at 6:30 a.m on Wednesday morning, so my plan was to stay overnight at the Marriott Courtyard hotel right next to the airport and take advantage of their free shuttle bus to and from the airport. When the bus arrived at the airport, it was raining really hard and it is about a 300 yard hike from the bus stop to the terminal building and I got pretty wet. I caught the hotel shuttle, checked in and dragged all my bags up to my very air conditioned room. After just a few minutes being in the room, I actually got really cold, so cold in fact that I had to pull on a fleece jacket. Ahhhh…blissful coldness!

The flights home the next day were on time and everything went smoothly. I had a nice conversation with the woman sitting next to me, Cheryl, who coincidentally is a sailor with a boat in Pt. Richmond and is interested in goats, animals about which I can converse about to no end with little prompting, much to the embarrassment and dismay of my family, but which strangers often find to be amusingly eccentric for the first hour or so.

Renee picked me up at the airport and seemed genuinely pleased to see me, which I always appreciate.  We slogged our way back up to Petaluma through heavy early evening traffic and arrived at the ranch at dinner time. I supervised the grilling of a nice homegrown steak accompanied by a fresh green salad, which we ate together with Renee’s mom and aunt.  Renee’s mom’s recovery has progressed really well over the past few weeks and i was pleasantly surprised to see her walking unassisted, not even using a cane. During dinner, she and I engaged in a pleasant debate on the validity of a theory of neurobiology that I brought up and I am was also pleased to observe that her mental acuity is as good as ever, holding her own or better against my brilliant and articulate arguments.

First thing Thursday morning, I was up early to go for a run and visit the goats, Lola and Daphne. It took them a little while to figure out who I was, but when they did, they seemed really happy to see me. Or maybe really happy to be fed the almonds that I had in my pocket. I like to think both. Daphne has been struggling with a few health issues and observing them for directly for the first time was difficult for me. They have taken a toll on her and she’s not quite the same happy-go-lucky goat that I left in October, She’s seems older, more subdued and wary. Sad to see, but understandable.

So now I’m reconnecting back to my terrestrial life and making a list of things I need and want to get accomplished this summer before I return to the boat in late September.

I have a few more posts planned for this blog to reflect on my experiences, the places visited and to review how well the gear on the boat worked. Stay tuned...