We Don’t Take Tests

December 11, 2017 Posted by Deb

Sunset at Palm Creek

Sunset at Palm Creek

Well, actually, we do. The Palm Creek Pickleball Club determined there were too many people in the 3.5 skill group and some of the ladies complained that there were too many that were not good enough to be in 3.5. So, all the 3.5 folks are getting tested and the failure rate is around 40%. This, of course, caused a bit of an uproar in the club. One argument is that “I paid lots of money to come here for the winter, and I want to play with my friends and not be dictated to.” The other argument is that “We’re going from 900 to 1,400 members and they are correct about the wide range of skills competing in the 3.5 group. The skill requirements for 3.5 have been posted for years.”PalmCreekPickleball

So … we tested. They test 16 at a time with eight judges with clipboards. The drills are ten forehand, backhand, serves, serve returns, third shot drops, and dink followed by an observed game. The shots have to be in a certain place on the court and usually deep. We’re talking about people being tested who haven’t had a test of any kind in decades and there were a lot of deer-in-the-headlights facial expressions.

Hiking AZ

We hiked the Sabino Canyon Phone Line trail and The Wild Mustang Trail in the Tortalita Mountains with the Hiking Club. On the Sabino they advertised a tram ride, and we were anxious to get into a Colorado ski resort gondola and go up a mountain. A “tram” in AZ is a bit different. We also hiked the Superstitions with Ron and Barb when they came to Phoenix for a month.

Palm Creek Hiking Club

Palm Creek Hiking Club

Sabino Canyon Tram

Sabino Canyon Tram

Sun Peeking Over the Sabino Canyon

Sun Peeking Over the Sabino Canyon

SabinoHikeSabinoHikeDebForeground

Edging Along the Phone Line Trail

Edging Along the Phone Line Trail

Sabino_ChucksBack

Saguaros on the Wild Mustang Trail

Saguaros on the Wild Mustang Trail

Crested Saguaro: Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of a lightning strike.

Rare Crested Saguaro: Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of a lightning strike.

Visiting Relatives

Deb has relatives in the area and more all the time. We did food events, hiking, and pickleball with Megan, Meredith, Ron, Barb, Bobby, Cathy, Kerry, Eva, and more are coming.

Hiking the Superstitions with Ron & Barb

Hiking the Superstitions with Ron & Barb

Sailing News

Neytiri is being fitted with a hard bimini, new bottom job, and a few other nice upgrades. Panache is splashing any minute, and Jacques and Annet are possibly headed to NanaJuana Marina. Dale, Kathryn and Blake on MokaKat have moved from the Bahamas to Miami and are living aboard off Dinner Key.

One Last Trip to Neytiri?

November 5, 2017 Posted by Deb

We routed through San Pedro Sula, Honduras, again because it will be at least a year before the highway is finished between Guatemala City and the Rio Dulce. It’s a four-hour trip versus a trip that can go up to ten hours. Of course San Pedro Sula was voted one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and passports can fill up getting multiple stamps. There’s great scenery but we usually get a torrential downpour. This trip was no exception … we watched houses falling into rivers.HorseRainHondurasCowsTaxiHonduras

Familiar Scene in the Rio Dulce

Familiar Scene in the Rio Dulce

Cayo Quemado: Recommissioning

We put the sails back on with the help of Tom at Quemado Sails and got all the systems running again. Mike, at Texas Mike’s restaurant, gave us our last meal and drinks on the house before we moved up the river to RAM Marine for further boat work.

Dinghy Ride Around the Neighborhood

Dinghy Ride Around the Neighborhood

Pulling Up to Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging

Pulling Up to Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging

Getting the Main Back Up

Getting the Head Sail Back Up

CayoQuemadoDinghyRide2

Oh … somewhere in there we accepted an offer on the boat and had to get seven to eight years of accumulated belongings off the boat and into luggage. That is, of course, impossible so we sold and gave away personal stuff and left behind anything that might be useful to the new owners. We did keep some family heirloom tools, a chair, and two folding bikes. At the last minute, RAM Marine had a cancellation in their apartments so we had a convenient staging area for the hopeless task of packing.

Birthday with Old Friends

We celebrated Deb’s birthday with Jacque and Annette on Panache at Back Packers Restaurant. We last saw them in Georgetown, Bahamas as they headed on down the thorny path to St. Maarten and clockwise around through the ABC’s, Columbia, Panama, and eventually Guatemala. We turned back to Florida to sell the boat and eventually made it back to Guatemala via the Bahamas, Florida, Cuba, Mexico, and Belize. We don’t really have to say goodbye to old friends because our paths will cross again. Good times and good stories.

Sundog Cafe with Panache

Sundog Cafe with Panache

Oh … Deb’s birthday present was first class tickets home. In all honesty, we had no choice because first class allows 70 pound bags and more of them. We took empty luggage for the trip home but had to buy even more in Fronteras. Wow.

Picnic Barge Cruising the Rio

Picnic Barge Cruising the Rio

Sea Trial

Captain John returned to the Rio just in time to conduct the sea trial. The new owners showed up the day before, and we had a beer or two with them. The boat was ready and performed very well during the sea trial. We had to scramble at times to answer the surveyor’s questions and Deb was at the helm while we were all talking wondering if we were ever going to tack away from looming shores. The hard part for me was running the engines at maximum RPM. We had never done that since the sea trial in 2010. The boat took off like a rocket and the engines sounded really good at maximum … guess we should have done that more often.

Old & New Owners Watching the Haulout

Old & New Owners Watching the Haulout

Chuck on the Sidelines Wondering, "What Did I Do?"

Chuck on the Sidelines Wondering, “What Did I Do?”

Tom & Lisa on Their New Boat

Tom & Lisa on Their New Boat

The Trip Home in Style

Our friends kidded us about enduring the stares of the masses as they filed by the first class section. We didn’t look up. We’ve both been upgraded for free in the past, but this trip was on our dime, and we tried to make the most of it. Deb lost her carved wooden canoe from Panama because the security folks pulled it, one of our new bags got trashed, Deb had to put on an orange vest and go down to baggage handling because of a problem with a bag in Honduras.

The Canoe from Panama Had Graced the Back of our Salon Sofa for a Long Time

The Canoe from Panama Had Graced the Back of our Salon Sofa for a Long Time

They freaked out about our leftover money from many countries, and homeland security in the U.S. could not get one of our bags back together, so they taped it and put it in a giant ziplock. Try recognizing that on a carousel. But the leg room, food, booze, and movies were great.

The Voyage of Neytiri

Neytiri will sail on with the same name but our voyage has come to an end. We wish Tom and Lisa the best and hope Neytiri treats them as well as it has us. We have mixed emotions about being boat-challenged, though we will always consider ourselves sailors, and we will maintain contact with all the old crowd from over eleven years on the ocean in two boats spanning the last twenty-four years. We figure that we have over 25,000 miles under the keel and there are very few islands and countries in the Caribbean, the northern parts of South America, and Central America that we have not visited. It’s been a party.

Parting Shot

Parting Shot

Heading South: Iowa to Arizona

October 15, 2017 Posted by Deb

Melcher-Dallas and Lake Red Rock

Happy Birthday, Gena - Raleigh Grill in Lucas, IA

Happy Birthday, Gena!

Raleigh's Country Bar & Grill out in the Woods

Raleigh’s Country Bar & Grill out in the Woods

After-Supper Hike to Whitebreast Creek on the Farm

After-Supper Hike to Whitebreast Creek on the Farm

We revisited the site of our first date. In the early 1970’s, a purple ski boat. Now, a Hobie trimaran.

Lake Red Rock

Lake Red Rock

Under the Mile-Long Bridge

Under the Mile-Long Bridge

Hut complete with a toilet.RedRockTikiHut2RedRockTikiHut

Tiki Hut Complete with Toilet

Tiki Hut Complete with Toilet

Our stop at Cindy & Bill’s included staging and organizing the mail we had built up with boat parts for Guatemala.PackingGuatemala

 

Off to Arizona

We made it to Casa Grande in four easy days after our stop in Melcher-Dallas, IA. We pitted in Wichita, KS, Amarillo, TX and Lake Caballo, NM. It has been close to 100° for a number of days and pickleball starts before 7:30 a.m. That is way too early for me and just fine for Deb. Palm Creek is undergoing major construction and they are adding what looks like 500 to 1,000 units to the north. Unfortunately, they gobbled up the RC flying field so we will have to commute with our toys.

Amarillo was once the largest producer of Helium in the world. Dead factory now.

Amarillo was once the largest producer of Helium in the world. Dead factory now.

HikeNewMexicoLakeCaballoHikeLakeCaballoSunset

U.S. Open Racquetball Tournament

October 6, 2017 Posted by Deb

After a month and a half of being selfish with my time, not connecting with as many friends and relatives as normal, and being hurt, sore, and tired most of the time, I thought I was ready for the tournament. I entered the 65+ division. About 900 entrants descend on Minneapolis from all over the world for the largest racquetball tournament in the world.

I had been practicing with the number one ranked player at 70 plus and my old doubles partner along with various other bangers. It turned out you really can’t come back after an eight year layoff and I lost early to a guy from Illinois.

I then had to ref a match between the U.S. doubles team and the Ecuador or Mexican (I couldn’t read their shirts) doubles team, and that was barn burner. Both teams were angry at me after it was over. I was a great match but not pleasant to ref.InjuredRballPlayerUSOpenAction

Sakatah Singing Hills Trail

October 3, 2017 Posted by Deb

We have mixed feelings about this trail. Our base in Dakotah Meadows had us a short drive from Mankato and the west end of the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail. The trail was good from Mankato to Madison Lake but we came to a sign that said “Rough trail for the next 13.5 miles.” It was not only rough, it would have been far better to rip up the asphalt and have packed aggregate. Deb turned around before it got rough and I bailed after five or six miles of trying. I stopped by a bar at Madison Lake that advertised on the trail and asked how they did on getting the bicycle crowd in. He said it has tapered off dramatically as that 13.5 mile section got worse. Too bad, it was a nice run between Faribault and Mankato in the old days.

PrimeTime Saloon Breakfast - Calorie Positive Biking

PrimeTime Saloon Breakfast – Calorie Positive Biking

SakataPlumeGrassesBikeSakatahBikeCreek

Experimenting with Minnesota RV Campgrounds

October 1, 2017 Posted by Deb

Our home for two summers was getting plowed under and we had to be gone by the morning of September 12th when the heavy equipment was moving into St. Paul East RV Park. It was a nice home with great people and there will be nothing close to replace it for future years. Guess we’ll have to buy a home.

We moved about a mile north to Lake Elmo County Park. It’s a great place to stay but they don’t let RVs stay for any length of time. It was staging area number one as we prepared to head south and tried to get in shape for the U.S. Open Racquetball Tournament.LakeElmoCampsite

Final ride on Brown’s Creek and the Gateway

Hot dog, lemonade, and the Gateway Trailside

Hot dog, Lemonade, and the Gateway Trailside

Dakota Meadows

Since I was commuting every day to Edina to train with my old racquetball buddies it made sense to move the RV as close to Edina as we could. That was the RV park associated with Mystic Lake Casino. It was nice but it did not feel like much of a home. We experimented with all the restaurants we could fit in during our brief stay. Our stay was abbreviated by and early exit from the US. Open but that is another story.DakotaMeadowsRVPark

Kinnickinnic River Kayaking

September 15, 2017 Posted by Deb

Kayaking the Kinnickinnic River in River Falls is becoming an annual event, and this year we had mostly Cast Iron canoe members in the group. We were pretty much all late entries because Deb had a broken wrist and others were decision challenged for various reasons, but it was a good group and great weather. Only one sunk kayak as Deb got hung up in rocks while we watched from downstream. Fortunately, Steve Kotilinek was behind her and saved her from having to use her wrist to get unstuck and emptied out. She had given me her Pixel smartphone for safe keeping just minutes before.

KinnickinnicGroupShotKinnickinnicDamKinnickinnicRestStop2KinnickinnicRestStop

Trimarans on the St. Croix River

September 12, 2017 Posted by Deb

The weather was just perfect so we called up some good friends and set out from the Hudson Landing on the St. Croix River to sail to Afton. We stopped for lunch at the Afton House Inn and floated downwind back to Hudson.
ChuckDebTrimaranStCroix 3TrimaransStCroixAftonHouseInnTriStop

End of Summer

September 9, 2017 Posted by Deb

Hauling the Toys Out of the Water

We spent Labor Day weekend with the Cast Iron Canoe Club on Silver Lake in Siren, WI, at Jeff and JoAnn Buse’s cabin. Everyone brought plenty of food and we had to power eat all the hot dogs for the final meal after doing haulout chores. Sad to report that we failed to eat them all.

Chuck & Jeff Solving Problems

Chuck & Jeff Solving Problems

Lakeshore Chores

Lakeshore Chores

Who's Putting in the Most Effort Here?

Who’s Putting in the Most Effort Here?

Down to Hiking

With Deb’s broken wrist and my recent round of racquetball injuries, we’re down to hiking. We’ve knocked down Afton State Park and the Woodbury lakes for many miles while Deb waits to get the word on her wrist. In anticipation of good news, she took her bike in for all new shifters and a new derailer so she doesn’t have to twist too hard with her right hand. We’ve had Minnesota perfect hiking weather.

Hot dogs, Busch, and Ice

Hot dogs, Busch, and Ice

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Afton State Park

Afton State Park

Spending Some Family Time

Deb snuck away with a broken arm to visit family in Iowa.

The Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs

Alison Comes to Minnesota for the Granite Games

Alison Comes to Minnesota for the Granite Games

One Strong Team

One Strong Team

Madeline Island: Lake Superior

August 30, 2017 Posted by Deb

Bayfield to Madeline Island Ferry

Bayfield-to-Madeline Island Ferry

We got our Lake Superior fix again, this time with Mike and Carol at their 12th year of renting a cabin on the back side of Madeline Island. We concentrated on hiking, biking, gourmet dining, and chilling. Oh…we celebrated our 42nd anniversary at the famous Angry Minnow on the trip back.

BigBayHikeMadelline

Mandatory Stop at Tom's Burned Down Cafe

Mandatory Stop at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe

Beachfront Accommodations with Towel Service

Beachfront Accommodations with Towel Service

Brother Bill Got Me Started on Hop Stoopid

Brother Bill Got Me Started on Hop Stoopid

Hiking on Big Bay

Hiking on Big Bay

View From the Deck

View From the Deck