Published: February 21st 2009February 21st 2009
Our ideal christmas scene
After nearly a year in the heat of the tropics, we dreamed of being curled up on the sofa in front of a big log burning in the fireplace and a tree adorned with cranberries and popcorn. All became reality.
After an eight week roadtrip around the US, we are back to enjoy the height of summer in Auckland. We arrived at 05.15 on 21 February having lost a day in transit. It seemed a lengthy flight from San Francisco but we found Marnie looking pretty good after her time of abandonment at Bayswater Marina. At the very least I thought my first job would be a few coats of varnish, but despite the thin ozone, only touch-ups around the cap rail were needed. The plan is to investigate possibilities of new sails, sail covers, davits, sheets, dinghy and outboard, a paint job and new fridge/freezer. How much of this can be accomplished within three months remains to be seen. If not now, then perhaps when we reach Asia.
So, the details of our winter whirlwind tour.....
Having made landfall in Auckland on 1 November 2008, we spent one month meandering down the coast from Opua to Auckland. We explored the city and surrounding towns of Devonport and Takapuna until 8 December when we made the flight back to the US for an extended Christmas visit. We spent 5 days in Oakland, San Francisco; arriving in temperatures in the
mid 50's which were most welcome after the wet spring in New Zealand. As our yacht Marnie is built from kauri, (native to New Zealand) and is second in size only to the giant redwood/sequoia family, we visited Muir Woods situated north of San Francisco, to see for ourselves how vast and spectacular these trees are, up close and personal. After marvelling at their attributes and buying a specimen to plant at Lovett's Pond, Virginia Beach (which incidently doesn't have the misty climate of San Francisco) we headed for Sausilito. Walter had a favourite hamburger grill to hunt down and after much searching we found it. Lunch there was as good as his memory had served him.
For months we'd envisaged spending Christmas and New Year in front of an open fireplace in Virginia. Plenty of frosty, and occasionally snowy mornings arrived just in time for the dream to become reality. A cycling program was soon established upon arrival, followed an early Christmas present for Tricia (Walter's sister) of a new bike and me to provide motivation. Every second day, wrapped in gloves, warm layers and the promise of a hot drink on our return, we clocked up the
10 years later ....
Walter found his favourite hamburger grill in Sausilito and it was worth the wait!
miles regardless of the plummeting temperatures. As the state park is just minutes from the house it provides a safe track and beautiful area in which to exercise.
A detour to the Blue Ridge Mountains for 'camping extraordinaire' - snow, freezing conditions and only the one night spent under canvas because of being total woosies. The next three nights were spent in hotels as we cruised the area looking at properties. A one week diversion was squeezed into the schedule as Tigs headed back to freezing conditions in the UK for much needed one-on-one with Natalie. Airports closing due to arctic blasts, cities and motorways in chaos was a good reminder to pursue a plan of following the sun and achieving a perpetual summer for as long as possible.
A fabulous week followed with Jan and Larry in Palm Beach ... our visit coincided with unseasonally cool weather for Florida but shorts and T shirts were suitable attire for the morning walks around the marina. Our hosts provided us with five star hospitality, gourmet cuisine and a really superb time. Whilst in Florida we visited with Mac, a longstanding sailing friend of Walters and Lynn and Tom in
Warming up to be a cowboy
Rifle in hand rather than pistol
Ft Lauderdale, where we dined with a party including their children and friends in the oldest restaurant in Ft L and later a jazz club.
After a few days of sunshine we took another of our eleven domestic flights to Denver, Colorado where the 'roadtrip proper' commenced .....this leg involved a southerly passage to Albuquerque, New Mexico through some of the most spectacular scenery Colorado has to offer. With no accomodation booked, and it being the height of the skiing season, we were unsure of sleeping arrangements each evening, but it never proved a problem and provided total flexibility in our program.
We happened upon the town of Salida, Colorado whilst meandering around admiring the mountain ranges and ended up spending a few days in this charming area on the banks of the Upper Arkansas. A local realtor spent a few days showing us land and on two occasions we found ourselves stuck in ditches with several feet of snow to contend with. At 8500ft there was 3-4ft of snow and at >10,000 it was 6ft, so a particularly pretty backdrop but equally the reality of living in this area in winter was very apparent. We fell in
Tigs looking less of a cowgirl
visiting Williamstown, Virginia
love with a piece of property with a cabin and yurt in situ called Elk Ridge, a view of four 14,000ft+ peaks behind plus dozens of smaller mountains and the Colorado trail less than 3 miles away (ideal for horseriding and mountain biking). The highlight of our experiences in the mountains however was a day of snowmobiling and ice fishing at Canyon Ridge, Chama - south of Salida. This property was only accessible by snowmobile due to its remote location and altitude. The plots available here share several thousand acres of private conservation area whilst each plot is suited to keeping horses, building a house and barn. The covenants were particularly restrictive so wouldn't be quite our kind of place.
There are more photos below