Seattle

Got to be a tourist this past week while my husband had an engineering conference up there.  I’ve been there a few times for work related things, have never really checked it out.  It’s booming!  That’s either good or bad, depending on the companies that are creating that boom with rising housing prices.  Here in San Francisco, low income has been literally kicked to the curb.  We have all the top tech with Monopoly money, no sense of reality of what anything actually costs.  It looks like all that tech has gone to Seattle, after destroying San Francisco.

We stayed downtown at a very small condo AirB&B.  It was a super modern place, really convenient and close to everything including the convention center.  The first night of the conference they had a dinner at the Space Needle.  I’d been in it before for dinner almost 20 years ago, it’s nothing like that now.  The surrounding buildings are so tall, it almost dwarfs the Space Needle, including the roof of the place we were staying.  It’s still cool to go on the rotating floor, plus construction started on my husband’s birthday and finished in my year, I’m the same age as the Space Needle – probably in need of renovation too??

The roof of our AirB&B

Other than that, I walked A TON!!  Going on little tours, the Duck Boat was a fun one.  I did one in Boston and loved it, this was a good way to see parts of the city I would never see otherwise and get a few laughs in.  We spent a few lunches at Pike’s Market, if I could cook I would have bought some fish to fry up in the condo.  We’re on the go so much this week that I couldn’t even send it home.

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I brought my keyboard, the forecast was for rain the whole time so I thought I’d be stuck indoors.  It didn’t rain at all, one of the things I got to do was go sailing for a little over an hour.  That was really nice, always like to see a town from the water.  The keyboard limited what I could bring home, another reason I didn’t pack a cooler from Pike’s.

 

From the “Let’s Go Sailing” boat pier 55

 

Just a heads up about our AirB&B, this seems to be a booming industry as well everywhere.  On the upside, it really was an amazing location and a cool place WAY too small to live.  Not to hip on the hospitality, it sucked.  We paid high rates, got a 10 page instruction sheet on how we have to tip-toe through the concierge so as not to let anyone know it’s an AirB&B, no noise, no nothing.  Our first morning we woke up to find the coffee left for us was decaf, poor form but not a major infraction.  I have headphones for my keyboard, we didn’t make a peep.

All went well, until we asked for either a late check out or baggage storage.  We weren’t supposed to be there, the concierge scowled at us every time we walked by, we knew from our instruction booklet not to bother them for anything.  The answer from our “hosts” was “We cannot accommodate your request.”  They suggested we leave our bags at Nordstrom??  Really??  You buy a place right next to a convention center and no clue on where we can leave our bags until the conference is over?  I panicked, thinking I might have to lug my keyboard around all day.

It turns out there are Bag B&B’s, a separate entity start up requiring it’s own app…genius.   My husband ended up putting our luggage behind the check in curtain at the conference, all but my 50 lb backpack.  Off I went to the water to get on it.

I loved it there, it was clean and safe.  If the Winter weather wasn’t miserable, it would be a place I could see myself.  The times I’ve been there I’ve hit some decent weather.  Seems the time to go is during the summer before that kicks in.  Lots of building going on, lots of tech is already there.

I have to bring up an incident in the airport as just an aside.  After carrying 50lbs around with hours before our flight, I splurged for a 15min neck and shoulders massage.  This woman sat down in the area, very disoriented.  At first I thought she was cutting in front of me in line waiting.  The guy asked if she was waiting for a massage and she said “no.”  He said it was the waiting area, that’s when I noticed she was completely out of it.

I sat next to her and then noticed a smell, she lost her bowels as well as looked totally lost.  She started trying to pick up her backpack and I said, “Do you need some help?  Are you here with someone?”  She said “yes” she was there with someone (she wasn’t) and that she didn’t need help.  She stood up, then collapsed hitting her head right out of my reach.  People rushed over, a Dr. & nurse traveling (separately) were first on the scene.  I saw a motorcycle in Santa Fe, thank God these professionals are first to pull over.  I know CPR, that’s about it.  The only input from me, besides saying what happened before the fall, was that she needs to go to the hospital.

The medics came, they figured out who she was by getting her cell & ID.  An Alaska airlines rep was there for info on where she was traveling from…Palm Springs to San Jose??  How did she get re-routed through Seattle for a 9pm flight making an hour flight into an all day nightmare??  Even I might be disoriented and shit my pants after that!!

My mom is 81, I haven’t let her travel alone for years.  I suck it up, get on her flight through L.A. and make sure she gets home OK.  Sometimes I just stay at her house on either end of the flights so I’m with her the whole time.  We were stuck in a 3 hour TSA line in Newark once, I’ve slept in airports and zig-zagged across the US to get home due to weather.  Anything can happen when you travel, apparently winding up in a hospital in Seattle is on that list.  I hope she’s OK 😦

I just write this as a warning to myself that there will be a time when I’m too old to travel, coming in at midnight with a keyboard and 50 lb backpack at 55 years old is no cake walk either.  Speaking of, if I ever did move to Seattle you will find me at Royal Cupcake with my latte and fig/honey cupcake every afternoon.

Horoscope for Today

9.4.18: Let your mind wander, and make sure to write down the peaks and valleys of your journey. You are exploring new mental territories, and they demand being recorded and shared. Take heart if you experience writer’s block. Slow down and pace yourself through your cerebral landscape. The words may not come quickly, but they will be worth their weight in gold when they finally arrive. You are crafting a powerful message that the entire world needs to hear.

It’s right about one thing, the peaks and valleys!  Every day has been a “what now?” since the kids graduated from high school about four years ago.  You really never think they’ll grow up when you’re in the middle of it, or that you’ll grow up.  Never picture getting out of that sleepless baby time, grade school, the sports, the milestones, the awards that are all now a blur in time.  It’s like someone played 52 pick up with your life and the cards are all supposed to stack back up when it’s over (and you end up being 52 somewhere along the way).

That’s where I’ve been, finding some footing.  In the meantime, I’m still a “mom,” as well as a wife and daughter.  The first thing I did when I was close to 50 was to quit my job at the golf course to reinvent myself, I did not want to age in front of everyone.  I worked in the pro shop, it was the perfect job for my schedule, my hobby, my co-workers were great.  We did get a new GM that made my work life hell.  He was the wrong kind of good ol’ boy, never stepping in to help only to criticize.  That made my decision a lot easier.

When my youngest graduated from high school I thought I could find my dream job which was going to be flying for a regional airline.  Mandatory retirement is 62 for pilots, I still had ten years in me.  My husband wanted me to start the drone company for his business with my pilot’s license instead, so that’s the direction I headed with it.  Now we have 2, 25 year olds replacing me.  The drones were fun, it’s just that the physical part of the job sites were getting hard for me (think bathrooms).  I also lost a drone in Costa Rica following my friend surfing while my spotter wasn’t spotting.  It was kind of a humiliating experience all the way around, they all treated me like I didn’t know what I was doing after that.  I left with broken ribs and no Hal 3, my purpose for being there was nil.

Now it’s time for new goals I guess.  Scratch the regional pilot, now I’m too old.  The one goal I did achieve was to get all my sailing certifications and buy a boat, so it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing in the meantime.  Really, it’s time to re-group for sunset goals (gulp).

  1. Where do I eventually want to live?
  2. Logistically, where do I need to be for my mom?
  3. Do I even have anymore “hopes & dreams” in me?

Those are the top 3 right now…not to say I’ve been sitting around either, last week I had my 1st piano lesson in about 15 years hoping for my musical breakthrough.  There still might be time for me to be a rock star?  Haha.   I skipped a Half Moon Bay sailing trip for a relaxing day on Angel Island hiking instead and was glad I did, it looked foggy and hectic.  One of the things that’s for sure not on my bucket list is living on a boat to sail around the world and 5 knots.  Love the boat, love sailing, love my bathtub when I’m done.

 

Windsurfing Committee Boat

I was on the water all week, either in Tahoe or here in the Bay area.  Sailing is taking a boat out and waiting for everything to go wrong, picking and choosing your battles.  Our father’s day plan was that I would take my husband out to Angel Island for the night on the moorings then have my son and fiance ferry over.  I got a message asking to use my boat as the committee boat, checked the forecast, then changed my plans.  It looked like a small craft advisory, making it for a miserable FD weekend.  After Fridays sail, I wasn’t up for it.

Because my fuel gauge doesn’t work, what I do is write down the hours and gallons to fuel to determine my GPH (gallons per hour).  It’s diesel, my calculations give me around 1 GPH, it’s been quite a few months since I filled up and 17 hours on the meter.  I’m planning a trip next weekend where I’ll have to motor quite a few hours, time to make sure it’s full.

Before heading to Berkeley, we hit the fuel dock to fill up.  I knew I had a small leak I couldn’t find, but one of the things I did was unscrew the top of the fuel tank to see how hard it would be to replace the floater to get my gauge working again.  Well…there’s a dissolved gasket that wasn’t visible when I screwed it back on, so when I fueled up, that’ where the leak was.  It was a smelly mess, I still smell like diesel fuel.  The leak wasn’t enough to deter me from taking my boat out to anchor for the Cal Cup race.

That was exciting and hectic!  It was 30 knot constant winds, with quite a swell out there and a flood tide.  There were 6 of us on the committee boat, 6 windsurfers that dropped down to 3 for the last race because it was too windy.  With the tide and wind from the same direction, anchoring was pretty easy.  There was a problem with my windlass, turned out it was just the circuit breaker which I quickly fixed.  The boat held while it slammed up and down on the waves.  Compared to those windsurfers out there, it was nothing.

Motor started, the windless brought the anchor up, success!!  I just didn’t think I could get the boat back that night, it was too hectic to get out there once let alone go back.  Thought I could overnight dock it at BYC (Berkeley Yacht Club), it looked like a tight squeeze with another Pac Cup boat there heading for Hawaii.  My friend took the helm, by the time we flipped it around another boat had docked there.  I was a little relieved, I’m a pretty good docker and I didn’t think I could pull off a tight squeeze in those winds. On that particular dock it would have been a 30 knot crosswind.

He went to an open slip and we docked, no problem.  I shut down the boat and locked it, expecting to come back to possibly spend the night.  That never happened, I went back home to sleep it off.  On father’s day we asked friends to meet us in Berkeley.  The winds were a little calmer, the forecast was similar so my sail plan was going to be to get out of the slot ASAP to head for the city (San Francisco).  I had arranged a guest dock for lunch over there.  Fully briefing my new crew, went to start the engine…nothing.  In my hasty shut down, I forgot to turn off the engine battery.

My friend that docked for me happened to be at BYC and brought me over a shore power cord to re-charge.  We waited…nothing.  I cancelled the guest dock  in SF, then headed to Spengers for a fathers day lunch to wait out the charging.  Several hours later, nothing.  While the crew partied it up at the dock, my mind was going into troubleshooting gear/panic.  Several things occurred to me, I might not be able to move the boat back was one.  The other thoughts were us stuck at either Angel Island (the original plan), no engine for the windlass after the race with the whole committee stuck out there overnight getting pummeled by the waves.  Not a bad place to be stuck in all reality, close to BYC which has bathrooms and a bar.

Then I looked at the microwave to see it wasn’t on.  My shore power line has 2 plugs, most have just one.  I might not have been charging the battery the whole time?  I rudely excused myself, not sure if anyone would notice because there had been quite a few drinks consumed by that time.  I drove back to Emeryville to grab my shore power cord, plugged it in, an hour later the engine started for a killer sunset back to my dock.

I’m constantly learning things about my boat, my limits, plan B, C, D’s.  A good thing to know is limits, sadly, a kayaker went out while we were out there for the race and died.  We never saw him, those waves must have knocked him over.  A massive Catamaran motored out, then turned around to head back in while we were pulling up the anchor.   A boat that won’t start in a dock with a bunch of booze isn’t so bad.

 

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Water Weekend!!

Getting a lot of sailing in this week, took a crew to Sam’s yesterday for lunch in Tiberon.  Somehow I joined the cruising crew every other Friday and just found out yesterday it’s a retired crew, most along for the ride.  My morning shift at the golf course was all retired too (because really, that’s who has time to play golf).  I loved those guys, they were great to me.

The hardest part of that is docking with limited help.  I can dock on my slip without a problem, it’s the currents and winds everywhere else that makes it hard (impossible) for me to do it myself.  I anticipated it to be a problem beforehand, one of the other Friday cruise out captains drove there and was at the dock at the same time to help.

Luckily, I’m pretty used to having a crew of non-sailors.  I still put people to work, just make it easy by jamming over with no tacks or gybes…and jam we did!!  It was 25 knot winds, I had to reef right away.  On the way back I just pull the jib and go downwind with no gybes to the marina.

It’s a big responsibility taking people out, I’m coming pretty close to getting a captains license and wonder if I want to do that and assume that responsibility with paid passengers?  For now, I’ve been enjoying these cruises.  It’s challenging, I also know one day I’m going to be a passenger unable to help and I hope someone lets me ride along sailing.  I’ve already had that happen with my back before I bought my boat, I signed up for a crew list and said I was a passenger only.

Today I’m taking my boat out as the committee/party boat for a windsurfing regatta in Berkeley, that’ll be fun!  I can just kick back after we anchor, I love that.  Spend the night on the boat and head out for a father’s day sail tomorrow.

It’s weird, I’m kind of a “tween” again.  Not a kid, not an adult.  I’m starting that passage into old age, what’s it going to look like?  Trying my best to stay in shape, I know one day I might have to give up the things I love.  I know what it’s like to have my legs give out from under me, or not be able to physically help out.

Until then, I’ll just keep plugging along.  I’ve been listening to country music lately, these lyrics I’m listening to sum things up nicely:

Get Along
Get along, on down the road
We’ve got a long long way to go
Scared to live, scared to die
We ain’t perfect but we try
Get along while we can
Always give love the upper hand
Paint a wall, learn to dance
Call your mom, buy a boat
Drink a beer, sing a song
Make a friend, can’t we all get along

Off-line for days

Wow was that nice!!  Went to Tahoe to try and fish, something I’ve only tried a few times.  On the way up I stopped at a Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World that looks like Disneyland.  I was so overwhelmed that I ended up going to the Walmart next door and buying a pole & line for $30.  What I caught was the bottom of a small lake, then I caught a really porous rock at the Truckee River.  It’s all catch & release up there, which of course I didn’t know how to do but I wasn’t too worried about even catching anything.

I stopped when I couldn’t cast it anymore, since I got the cheapest line it got all tangled when I reeled it in despite my youtube instruction on how to put the line on it.  It was still fun casting, years ago I did a fishing guide trip in Redding where I just reeled them in and the guide did all the dirty work.  I brought a cooler and had salmon for a few weeks for dinner.  When I got back I finally youtube’d how to release and I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own quite yet.  Driving home I stopped at that Bass Pro Shop to get some tips and better line.  Surprisingly, the pole was a Big Ugly from Walmart and is actually decent.

The funny part of my trip was sailing on Donner Lake, I’m totally bruised and battered.  It was a little plastic cockpit with one sail.  There’s a beach on the West side that has a $5 entrance fee and rents the usual, kayaks, SUP’s, and these mini-sail boats.  I ran into a guy who’s son played soccer with my youngest…feel kinda bad I never remember his name, not an uncommon event lately.  When I see people, I automatically figure they don’t know my name and try to eliminate that awkward recollection by saying, “It’s Heller” right away.  No such luck with this guy.

The awkward part of that one was that he and his buddy were taking out one of these itty bitty boats the same time I was.  He re-introduced me to his wife, then suggested I take her out on my rental.  She declined and I was relieved, it’s not like my boat where you just kick back, relax & chat.  Sure enough, when I got on the thing I barely fit.  I have no idea how two of them went out on it?  I had to slide way up to use the tiller, then lay down for the boom to cross over me and hop my butt over to the other side.  These tip over, it was the only way I had any control over that.  Man was it a blast though!!  Super responsive, when I got a gust I jammed.  Always good to just sail on a small boat to go back to the basics.

The next day I rented a SUP from the East side of Donner lake.  I have a blow up one I wasn’t able to get out of the garage before I left, it was easier to just rent one for an hour. I stayed at the Truckee Donner Lodge that was once a Holiday Inn Express where we stayed when the kids were little to go skiing.   There’s also a camp ground Frank & I stayed at once when we brought his dog back to her homeland, we adopted her in Tahoe.  It’s walking distance from the hotel, so I got a really nice hike/SUP in before I headed back home.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Tahoe throughout the past 20 years, not much of it during the summer.  It was just great!!  I love coming back down the mountain too, as much as I love the call of nature, I hate bugs.  I’ve got a couple of nasty bites and bruises, there was also a run in with a snake that made me hesitate crossing a trail thinking it would swallow me.  Finally I reasoned it was probably more scared of me, I never saw a rattle.  Any fin I see in the water is a shark, any snake is a rattler, any spider is a black widow or California brown.  Always good to be cautious for worst case scenario I guess??

Wimping out

The winds here have been hectic, it’s really hard to justify getting out there to fly or sail at the expense of, well, my life.  I was supposed to fly the plane up for an oil change about an hour from here until I saw the 30knot forecast, then I sent a txt to my CFI who asked me to wait for a day.  They got someone else to fly it.

High winds and big waves are not my idea of a good time.  My friend, Cheyenne, is on her adventure sailing around the world.  She has a great blog (she’s an amazing writer) called “Sailing Pristine” where she writes about just getting to Monterey this week.  She’s WAY braver than I am!!  I met her racing, she has the best attitude ever and is pretty fearless.  I consider myself somewhat fearless, with a great respect for mother nature and my aging brain/body.

Honestly, I couldn’t do the sail around the world thing and don’t even have the desire to.  Maybe one day I’ll sail to Mexico along the coast, my boat is perfect for that actually.  Otherwise, staring at the ocean for days on end going 5 mph is not my idea of a good time.  The planning involved on a trip like that is not my forte either, I can barely fill up my Yeti thermos with a latte before I get out.  Basically, my planning skills would leave me the first one eaten if the going got tough.

I suppose it’s good to know your limits, pushing them was fine when I was younger.  Now I’m all about not getting injured (or killed).  The MLC phase of my life is over, unless I live to be 110.  There’s also kind of a relief to not having to prove myself anymore, not doing everything for the competitiveness of it.  I’m tired of competing, although I’m actually pretty competitive.  That “proving them wrong” about me drive is fading.  Just feel lucky I still have better hand eye and reaction speed still.

I’ll just have to live vicariously through Cheyenne’s blog…

A night on the boat

This would seem to be a perfect sailing day, it’s nice to just relax though.  Because of all the dog sitting, I haven’t slept on the boat for months.  It’s rare that there are two days in a row to even sail somewhere overnight with all the family stuff lately and being out of town.  We did sleep here for the engagement party, our house was full of my son’s friends from New York.  There have also been toilet problems ever since I took that group out, my husband fixed the pump part it just wasn’t tight enough so there was a leak.  We don’t use it that much, there’s a pump out service that comes and luckily this all happened a few days after they came.  It does put a damper on spending the night on the boat.

My husband tolerates sailing, he’s starting to like it.  Yesterday there were high winds on the Bay, thought we’d just come out to kick back and fix that leak.  The guy in the dock next to me has a racing boat and was going out…I feel a little guilty for this, but I hopped aboard while my husband stayed and fixed the leak.  It was perfect!  On the way out he did everything, I just pulled the jib out and dealt with the tacks.  On the way back, I took the helm and never felt too overpowered it handled that well in 20+knots.  I’m still pretty weak from my back stuff, afraid I’m not very good crew.  The guy was good about it, he just appreciated any help.

When we got back, my husband had fixed the leak so I could spend the night on the boat.  Slept like a rock for the first time in a month, didn’t even finish the Charlize Theron career ending movie “Atomic Blonde.”  Now I’m just drinking my pour over coffee and writing.  It would be cool to just head out, it’ll be too busy out on the water and I have a party to go to later.  Sitting here with my coffee, cleaning stuff on the boat is good enough for me.