Magic is in the air

I arrived in San Carlos at about 2:30 on Christmas afternoon. The decision to cross the border on Christmas Day was somewhat arbitrary. I pulled into Tucson on Sunday the 21st needing my trailer brakes fixed and some other stainless bits welded. After a few phone calls, I had an appointment with Patrick @ Professional Trailer. Patrick dropped everything to take care of me quickly, and did it all at a fair price. I am VERY happy I took my business to him. The welding took a bit longer to find the right guy with the time and desire to come and get-er-done on Christmas Eve, but once JJ showed up, I knew I was in good hands.
Anxious to hit the road after three nights spent stealthily urban camping in a residential neighborhood where my old friends Trent, Abra, and their daughter Zephyr live, I had one last “funny sound” to investigate under my hood before I could leave. Turns out my exhaust had completely unhooked itself from the turbo because of a failed clamp bolt. Luckily, the fancy clamp was still dangling around my exhaust, now I just needed to find a new bolt and a special barrel style nut. With little hopes of finding an exact replacement, I wandered into Ace hardware to see what parts I could bastardize into a workable solution. That solution was found in the furniture hardware box, in the form of a barrel nut that would only require a small amount of customizing to make fit perfectly!
Using a ratchet strap and a hydraulic jack to pull and lift the exhaust into alignment, and then by forcefully shoving my arms down into a spot where two arms should never have to go, I was able to reclamp the two pipes back together creating a seamless tunnel for the hot exhaust gases to happily find there way out through the back of the truck.
Now darkness was getting close. I really wanted to get my train rolling again.
In years past, I had stayed at an RV campground up in the Saguaro cactus laden foothills of Tucson Mountain County Park, and, although not very far away, I decided it would be a great place to go spend the night. Unfortunately, after driving up to the park, we found the campground virtually full, with all the larger spots taken. Who’d-a thunk that a campground would be filled up to the brim with festive, Christmas Eve campers?
So, we used the poop dump facilities, and set our sights for a rest area on the highway about 20 miles north of the border.
Expecting a long stopover dealing with my boat and boat trailer at customs and immigration, I wanted to hit the road early. As I was driving, I noticed how nearly all businesses were closed for the Christmas holiday. That started to get me wondering if the immigration offices were even going to be operating. If they were open, would they be manned by mean, crusty people forced to work the holiday shift, costing me more time and money than otherwise needed? Was this crossing on Christmas going to be a good idea or not???
Well, in hindsight, it was brilliant! There was no talk whatsoever of my boat or trailer, I didn’t offer up any more details than was necessary. I paid my $22 for my 6 month visa and was on my way in no time. One last checkpoint to make it through…there is a “green light/red light” game they play when you come into Mexico via car or by plane. It is a random thing. If you get the green, you are free to go. If you get the red, they search through your stuff. If you do have things that you should have declared but didn’t…umm, I’m not sure what happens, but I imagine there’s some hefty fines to pay.
Luckily for me, the red light green light game was not even in operation.
All in all, a fairly stress free drive.
I made it through Hermosillo with my shiny clean license plates, without even so much as seeing a cop. Although the last 70 miles of shoulder-less roads, with death defying drops amped up my tension a bit, when I arrived in San Carlos, I felt like a kid coming home.
I didn’t know if I’d see anyone here that I knew or not. When I pulled into the boatyard, it was dead. Plenty of boats, but absolutely no people. I decided to go walk to the beach. On my way there, I thought I’d check and see if some old friends, Theo and Marrionette, were at their newly acquired home. I knew the neighborhood it was in, but I had never been there. As I got closer to the condo complex, I could clearly here the sound of ALOT of people gathered. Sure enough, it was the right place and it was like walking into christmas dinner with my family (except a family of about 40).
Food, drink, music, gifts, friends.
Welcome to Mexico.
Life is Magical!!!

Love, loss, and giving thanks… “Get Down on Your Knees And Pray”

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It’s 3am.
Im laying in bed, staring at the ceiling in the dark, unable to sleep. Yesterday, I skipped work and drove the 170 miles north with the hope of one thing; finding Cora…
Cora is my 15&1/2 y.o. Australian Shepard who, while visiting family for the Thanksgiving holidays, was lost outside on a day that saw the temperature drop from a relatively balmy 40 degrees to a bone chilling -25.
Having not been there, I don’t know all the details, nor do I need to know. I am not looking for answers. I am now just wanting to recover a body, dead or alive, to put my anxious, sad, and tired mind to rest. My hopes of somebody haven taken her in and not calling the number on her tags, or the local shelter, have all but faded as day 5 of her being missing is a mere sunrise away.
I also had high hopes that I would see her marching down the highway, desperately trying to make her way back home. During my 4 hour drive here, plying every inch of horizon, I saw and noted thousands upon thousands of dark colored, bushes, rocks, shadows, and mail boxes….no Cora. At one point, I stopped to examine a fresh, road killed carcass, which, upon closer inspection, was clearly the remains of a local Jack rabbit.

Cora came into my life back in 1999, as a spritely 6 month old. This was before I had a cell phone.
Before I had a CD player.
Before the www.
Before 911.
Before my kids…
Cora has been there with me through countless heartbreaks, probably feeling as much or more of a loss during every failed attempt, but never forming an opinion as to the “why’s” that I could hardly begin to answer myself. Times I felt lonely, frustrated, sad, tired, hurt, etc… Cora was always there with a deep, genuine look of concern, that would say, “Come Dad. Curl up with me and everything will be just fine. Lick. Lick…”
One funny thing about Cora’s fabled past, is how/when she discovered her voice. For the first two plus years of her life, I never heard her make a sound. She didn’t bark. She didn’t growl. She didn’t howl…nothing. Then one day, while on the way to one of my job sites, with Cora wedged into the cramped confines of the X-tra cab of my small Toyota pick-up (as a nervous sort of Dog, this was her preferred space for drives), it all began… With the “high lonesome sound” of Del McCroury’s, “Get Down On Your Knees and Pray” playing on the radio, I heard Cora burst into song! As I watched her howl away, confused look on her face… She didn’t know what was happening, but she couldn’t help herself! It was as if she had finally found her calling, because amongst the many things Cora has become well known and loved for, her singing was something special.
The birthday song? No problem. Cora would be on cue without any pre-notification necessary, howling away instantly.
She even was the main singer at my wedding, voicing her approval in the form of her own self composed, complex K9 opera.
Aside from her long history as a sweet singer, Cora was also an amazing athlete. Although I refrained from taking her on TOO many bike rides, Cora has skied more runs in the Tetons than most, thanks in part to her long, healthy life, but also because she was so calm and collected. She knew when it was time to quietly rest, and when it was time to move. She was on OUR schedule. She was a part of our gang. I’ve skied with many other dogs that were just a nuisance to be with. Incessant barking or constantly running off chasing other dogs. When confronted on the trail by said dogs, Cora would vibe them with a look that said it all…”stop being such a DUMB DOG, pull it together, and become a skier, LIKE ME!!!”
Cora was well into her teens when I bought Cat2Fold and started sailing. Being a nervous, old dog, I thought it’d be best not to introduce her to living on board while sailing on the ocean in a foreign country. So Cora stayed behind and helped raise the kids, while tending to the acres upon acres of the rolling fields of Snowdrift Farm. Mousing, was also one of Cora’s specialties and favorite past times. I remember one year, while picking up two-string bales of hay out of the fields, our neighbor Greg was egging Cora on, who was devouring every single, unsuspecting mouse that was uncovered with each bale lifted. We stopped counting when she had eaten well over twenty mice.
This past summer, although she had never experienced sailing before, Cora happily joined us on many forays out on our local mountain lakes aboard our Minicat 420. I kind of figured she wouldn’t want anything to do with this crazy floating contraption, but after her first go, she was hooked!!! (Just like her Dad). Throughout the summer, with many different iterations of families and friends, Cora, the kids, and I camped and sailed at different venues every single weekend this summer. We excitedly turned so many of our land-lubbing friends onto the sheer joy of sailing. The ultimate sharing of life’s joys came whilst my Mom (Grammy) was visiting the Tetons for a week. I would tease my Mom about coming out on the minicat, knowing full well that her nearly 70 years of being terrified of the water would probably keep her from trying something as exciting (scary) as sailing a small (flippable) catamaran.
With a couple of reassuring licks on the hand, and a sincere look in her eye that said to Grammy, “Look, if I can do this, you can do it too.”, an old dog that was recently taught a new trick, helped an old lady overcome her fears and become a sailor!
As winter sets in hard here in the Tetons, I’m finding myself making the final preparations to head down to Mexico for my fourth winter sailing season. They say that a boat is just a hole in the water that you keep there by throwing money into it. With Cora’s recent disappearance, I now have a similar sized hole in my heart that I’m going to slowly fill, not with money, but with memories…

“Cora, I’m so thankful for the time we got to spend together here on this beautiful planet. I’ve learned SO much from you, and you’ve brought so much happiness into my life (and many others). I wish you luck on your new journey. I’ve still got a lot to learn and do here, so I won’t be joining you for a bit. I’m sure you understand. For now, enjoy your new freedom. Run. Play. Catch mice. Eat snow. Chase cows. and…SING!!!
I’m sure I’ll be hearing you and feeling your presence everywhere I go, with everything I do, and when I hear all your favorite songs.”