March 29, 2005

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I've probably forgotten many of the fun highlights of the last two weeks.  My mind has been very distracted because several days after my last update, my little Xaxu died. Her illness had returned and she was losing her red blood cells again.  She was so weak and tired.  I held her in my lap for the day-long car ride to my daughter's house, and kept her close beside me through the night.  The next day she got worse and began throwing up.  It was too painful to watch her suffer as she neared the end.  So we rushed her to the hospital and had her put to sleep.  I held her precious little body and stroked her as she went limp.  It was so so sad and difficult.  I couldn't stop crying.  I keep trying to focus my mind on all the fun we had with her, and what an incredible companion she was for over 13 years.  But all I can think of is those last few days and how she must have suffered, and how she depended on me to make her feel better and I feel overwhelmed with grief.

Saturday morning (we're staying with the kids for the weekend) Mike got up early.  He joined Sean and his police academy class for a 5K run for abused children.  Then we attended a baby shower in the afternoon for Eric (Big E!) and Yelena, followed by a 40th birthday party for John C. that evening.  Congratulations to all of you!  We had a great time visiting with lots of old friends.

On our return to Ensenada, we stopped in San Diego to pick up Sue and her 15-year-old daughter, Kelly, who came in to visit from Houston, Texas.  It was such fun having our first official on-board guests!  Our Suburban was once again loaded with boxes of stuff we couldn't live without.  I so appreciated Sue and Kelly helping me organize and find places to put everything.  We enjoyed a day at La Bufadora, which is about 20 miles south of Ensenada.  It is a blow-hole, a natural phenomenon where the ocean washes into the rock formation with such force that it creates a terrific spray straight up into the sky.  It has developed into a tourist attraction and the little dirt street is lined with local vendors selling their wares.  The merchants aggressively seek your business.  You almost feel like you're being assaulted as you walk down the street, repeating "No, no gracias.  No, no gracias."  But, if you can deal with that, it is fun.  Kelly got a henna tattoo for $12 and a pair of aviator sunglasses for $5.  Then we stopped for drinks at a cute little restaurant with a balcony overlooking the ocean.  After several days of exploring Ensenada and just hanging out relaxing, we drove them back to San Diego where Sue picked up her rental car and continued on her "convince-Kelly-that-we-should-move-to-California" road trip.

Two days later Kimberly, Lance, Blake, Garrett and Paige arrived for a 4-day visit.  Lance was adamant that we actually take the boat OUT of the slip and go sailing.  We had fair weather the first day and wind at about 15 knots.  We practiced maneuvers for a couple of hours and returned to the slip stern-to.  Felt pretty good about everything.  Blake and Garrett enjoyed it and I think they will be little sailors just like we planned.  Kimberly was a good sport and put on a brave face.  She and Paige aren't completely sold on the lifestyle yet.  Kimberly likes the boat better when it's not moving.  The next day we went out again, but the weather turned on us.  The sky got cloudy, winds kicked up to 25 knots and it started to rain on us before we could get back to the marina.  We had a totally frustrating time trying to get back into our slip with those high winds.  After repeated attempts, and then scrapping the hull on the opposite dock, we decided to just tie up at the end of the dock until the wind died down later that evening.  By the way, thanks Dave, Carol and Pat for being on the dock to assist us.  We love our fellow dockmates!  We were so disappointed (and embarrassed) to put a scratch in our brand new $8,000 paint job.  A few days later, we were greatly relieved to discover that we could rub it out.  Whew.  No harm, no foul.  The kids had to head back home on Tuesday.  We had such a great time having them all on board.   Kimberly and Lance slept in the forward cabin.  The boys slept in the wide port cabin upper berth, and Lance fashioned a playpen-style sleeping area for Paige on the floor of the port cabin, under the boys.  The whole arrangement was comfortable and worked great.  Kimberly brought Easter baskets for the kids to enjoy on Sunday, and we all went out for ice cream after every dinner.

See "Photo Album" for pics of the highlights.

Now we're preparing for the long sail north where Aquila will be on display at the Strictly Sail Expo in Oakland, California.  Hylas has asked us to be in the boatyard in Richmond by April 6, if possible.  They want a few days to prep the boat for the show.  Sure wish we had some help for this trip, but all of our friends work.  And who would want to take time off to do such a miserable trip?  It is over 500 miles of motoring straight into the wind.  We don't have a dodger installed yet, so it will be wind and spray in our faces the whole way.  And cold.

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