Catalina Island On A Trawler

This post is several weeks late (which is earlier than some!) but I thought we’d share the experience.  L& I signed up months ago for a three day/two night Trawler School around Catalina Island.  I’ve always been curious about the trawler experience so we signed up for this class with the local maritime college.

Despite dark gray clouds on the horizon when we arrived at the school docks on Friday morning, this trip, like many of our boating experiences, turned out better than we deserved.  There was supposed to be other students along.  They had paid their tuition.  Food and beverage for many had been provisioned.  After two hours of waiting the other students finally called and said they’d be no-shows. So, off we go, just L, myself, and the captain/instructor!  Despite our best efforts we could not even make a sizable dent in the great food (thanks to Ana’s provisioning we ate like kings!).  We also felt like kings as we altered our itinerary each day to suit the weather and our moods.

Like the first day, each morning would start out gray and gloomy and be bright and sunny by noon.  This was our first overnight trip  (I took my nighttime Coastal Certification to/from there) to Catalina and we already want to go back!

Here are a few pictures to share our experience

Our personal gear waiting on the other students before boarding

This was cooler #1 of two (plus the onboard refrigerator was full!)

L's organization of the carb shelf

Finally underway - wondering what the waves on the horizon will be like at 8 kts

L's first view of Catalina

Yes, the water really is that color (and supposedly gets clearer as summer sets in)

L & I took the dinghy out for a little exploring

First night's mooring field at Two Harbors, Isthmus, Catalina Island

On the docks at Two Harbors morning of day #2

Here's the trawler just before casting off from Two Harbors for day #2

Couldn't figure out how to put these puzzle pieces back together

Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

On the mooring for night #2 in Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

Part of the Emerald Bay onshore landscape

Relaxing before dinner in Emerald Bay

Last rays of sun, night #2, Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

I don't need no sticking GPS, I've taken Capt. Armando's navigation classes!

Merry Christmas from Emerald Bay, Catalina Island! (no, wait, Memorial Day is next weekend, I've lost all track of time!)



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Introducing the PAV

After last weekend’s trawler trip to Catalina we decided to use the holiday weekend for our first excursion in the PAV (Pleasure Assault Vehicle).  Thanks to Shane for entrusting us with his 4th adventure vehicle (as he goes on to build his 5th) as we take to the highways once again.  After a late start and hours of 5pm LA traffic we were finally in the Sequoia National Forest.  We traveled the back country roads there for two days and then headed east to the Eastern Sierras. We thought we’d found all of the cold weather at 8,250 ft on Saturday in Whitney Portal at the base of Mt. Whitney.  Little did we know we’d find a snow storm at 9,200 feet on Sunday at Onion Valley.  It’s hard to believe that all of this wilderness is just a few hours outside the second most populated city in the US.  Here’s a few pictures to prove we had fun.

Great Western Divide Highway

L At The Base Of A Giant Sequoia

New Growth On The Trail Of 100 Giants

The PAV In The Alabama Hills

More Rocks In The Alabama Hills

Still Some Snow On The Ground At Whitney Portal

Keeler Beach On Owens Lake (Drained Years Ago After Purchase By The Los Angeles Water Department)

Sign At Keeler Beach

Yes, It's Snowing

L, Climb Down Off The PAV!



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Week’s End


We went kayaking with Stephanie, Tom, and Jack. Great way to end the week.


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We passed and have certificates to prove it!


This weekend we made one of the steps (back) to add powerboating to our “insurable” status.  Lots of practice backing in-to slips on a twin engine boat.  Liz likes control with two sticks!


Happy student and instructor

Liz at the helm of the Tiara off Newport Beach, CA




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On The Water

We had great fun yesterday with our friends Phil & Ryan from back in VA.  You can’t do this on a March day (or any day) back in Richmond.  Thanks for coming to visit!


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Thanks Virginia!

Thursday 2/10/11 in Virginia Beach, VA

So this is how I’m welcomed back for work?    Thanks a bunch!


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OC Weekend

After the kind responses to my words last week I thought I’d quietly just post a few snapshots from this weekend.  That is until I saw Seth Godin’s blog post Cashing The Check from last Monday, M.L.K. Day.  Sorry I missed it until this am one week late.  Be warned as it is similar to some of my thoughts from last week. Seth highlights Martin Luther King Jr’s words describing how “tomorrow is today” before life ebbs into “Too Late”.


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It Wasn’t The Kool-Aid

What is it about life’s timing system that seems so off?  Just how aware or productive or “happy” is a USA human before 20 years of age?  Then sometime between 60 and 85 most begin a downhill journey.  Discount a little on either end and my math says we have 50 good years.  At best.  If we’re lucky.

That’s 2,600 Sundays.  600 months.  50 of each season.  50 New Year’s, Valentine’s Days, Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases.  Maybe 50 family vacations survived as well.  That sounds like a lot but I bet the folks silently sitting idle in their chairs or pacing the halls of the memory loss center today would do anything for one more of any of the above.

I hoped that yesterday’s experience was the result of the gloomy weather or something secret in the mid-morning juice break.  This morning was sunny and I arrived before anyone drank the Kool-Aid.  Things were no better and maybe even worse.

I didn’t see the Big Planet lady today but the woman with the bruised face wants to go home.  There’s no place like home and to her this home away from home wasn’t it.  She’s had enough of waiting and waiting.

Mostly we all sat in silence.  I don’t know what they were thinking but my mind was racing.  I wondered what each would likely give for one more year of normality.  Whether any of them saw this coming.  What decisions would they make differently.  What different decisions I should make in the future.

And how did aging in the USA get so expensive?  I’ll never be able to afford to wait in a facility like this.  Most years I’ve never grossed much less netted what it cost to wait inside those walls.  For my mom the huge per-year expense still doesn’t help her remember who I am.

I also stressed over how to say goodbye to my mom when leaving.  I told her I had enjoyed seeing her several times but there was no response.  I couldn’t truthfully tell her I’d see her soon because I don’t know when that will be.  In the end I just stood up and slowly drifted away.  I guess that’s sort of what Alzheimer’s has done to her as well.  Slowly drifted away.

Without knowing about my activities over the last three days I got some advice from a friend tonight.  He reminded me how fleeting our time here is and how small a speck each of us is compared to all eternity.  “Be the person now that you see yourself being”.  Wise words Craig Tanner.

Right NOW.  Before it’s time for the Kool-Aid.



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Twelve residents of the residential memory care unit sit in the central living room area.  Ten women and two men.  All in assorted chairs and couches loosely arranged in a circle.  A gas fireplace glows at one end of the room while windows at the other end allow a diffuse rainy foggy morning to gently illuminate the room.  Not a single person says a word.  Perhaps they are startled by my entrance.  I’m a stranger to all but one.  As I sit down outside the group on the fireplace hearth, the resident I am here to see tentatively raises her hand as if to say I think I know you but I’m not quite sure, then she turns back toward the center of the circle.

Not one person speaks a word.  No one moves.  No one glances around.  No one even sighs. There isn’t a clock in the room to tell how much time is passing, but it’s as if time has stopped.  I have walked into a time machine.  The only clue that time hasn’t ended are the sounds of staff and other residents elsewhere in the locked down memory care wing of the assisted living facility.

After what seems like hours the Big Planet lady from yesterday stands up.  She urges another lady to her feet, helps the lady to a walker, and urges her outside the circle over in my direction.  Straight towards me.  I’m instantly uncomfortable.  I mumble something as they approach and I get up and move to another seat.  The walker lady shuffles off to another part of the building and the Big Planet lady takes the walker lady’s seat.

Back to the silence.  Everyone stares toward the center of the circle.  Most still clutch the empty cups left from their mid-morning juice snack.  That was likely an hour previous.

Now that I’ve changed seats I’m right next to the person I’m here to visit.  She doesn’t look at me.  She doesn’t acknowledge that I’m sitting right next to her.  She just stares straight to the floor in the center of the circle.  She does shift her hands and nervously fidgets with the cup as if she expects bad news, or probably worse, questions to answer.  I have no idea what she’s thinking.  I put my hand on her arm and she turns to look at me and then turns back to the center of the circle.

The group remains quiet.  They are still sitting in the circle like a movie version of a self-help group.  Yet no one talks.  They don’t even look straight at one another.  They just stare off in slightly different directions.  But, mostly toward the center of the circle as if an imaginary show is about to start.  But it’s like they’ve seen the show before and there is no excitement about seeing it again.

After what seems like another eternity the Big Planet lady gets up a second time, approaches another person in the circle of residents, urges that person to stand, gets the person’s walker, and they shuffle in my direction.  She makes hand motions between me and the other person and I’m uncomfortable again.  I’m not sure if she’s playing matchmaker or trying to figure out whom I’m there to see.  As she motions back and forth between me and walker #2 I shake my head no.  After a pause, she points to a woman halfway around the circle.  I shake my head no again and she points to the next person.  I shake my head no again and she points to the next person.  And the next.  And the next.  She’s like a grade school dance instructor trying to pair me up with someone to dance with.  She finally points at my mom sitting next to me and I nod my head yes.  Big Planet lady nods yes back to me and sits down in walker #2’s seat who has shuffled off out of the room.

More silence.  More blank stares.  It’s as if every person in the circle is somewhere else.  Not as a group, but individually off somewhere else in thought and attention.

I decide they are simply gone.

I wish I could figure out what they are thinking.  Are they reliving their lives?  Are they thinking about the lives they wish they’ve lived?  What would be their reaction if I dropped a bunch of travel brochures on a table?  Are all their dreams and imagination and wonder gone as well?

I look around the room at each of their faces.  Some have blank half smiles but no one returns my smile.  It’s as if I’m invisible to them.  Except for one lady.  She has ignored my attempt at eye contact but suddenly looks straight at me and loudly yells “WHAT!”.  I quickly turn away.  I’m uncomfortable again.  But at least the silence is broken.

Another woman with a bruised up face (likely from a fall ?), speaks up to me and says they are all “waiting and waiting but nothing is going to happen”.

Last night my mother was sitting all alone by herself in the same room laughing while watching America’s Funniest Videos on TV.  Now she sits staring straight ahead with no acknowledgment that I’m sitting right next to her.  What has changed?  Where has she gone?

Later we both take a walk around the halls.  I hold her hand.  I motion to things outside the window.  She occasionally gives a small laugh and looks outside.  But, I don’t think she knows who I am.

To her…  and to me…  perhaps we are both…  gone…

I drove away with a light rain falling on a lingering snow causing fog to envelop the wintertime mountain brownness.  A bleak eerie sight.  Not much different from the circumstances of the twelve in the living room.

I guess the place is ok place as far as facilities like this go.  Yet it’s out in the sticks, forty-five miles from the nearest larger town.  I could not get cell service there, much less wireless internet.  But I’m sure none of the residents in the memory care wing care about such things.

Across the street is a small community hospital.  Next door is a cemetery.  Many around that circle will likely transfer to more advanced facilities as their mental disease takes its toll on other parts of their bodies.  For a few the living room circle may be the final stop on their way to the facility across the street or the one next door.

Today they sit silently in a circle, waiting for the rest of their lives to happen. Life’s accomplishments, meaningful conversations, learning, love, and maybe even emotions, are all adjourned.  Finished.  Concluded.  Ended.  Over.  Done. Through.  Gone.

They just sit and wait.  Waiting for the final gone.



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A Different Perspective

I was visiting my mom yesterday who lives in a residential Alzheimer’s care facility.

I had the following brief exchange with another resident, a small, short, hunched over elderly lady.

Resident: “You’re not from here are you?”

Me: “No mam I’m not”

Resident: “Where are you from?”

Me: “California”

Resident: “I’ve never heard of that place”

after a pause…

Resident: “I think you are from the Big Planet. You’re definitely from the Big Planet”

and she shuffled off


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