Saturday, June 12, 2010


Tucson Arizona
Staying at Moma Larson's House

Sonoran Desert
 Having a blast again. I left Mason Texas a few days ago and drove west on I-10 to Las Cruses New Mexico where I stayed in a hotel. Something of interest was driving through El Paso Texas. You can easily see the battlefield known as Juarez Mexico. It looked to me to be a failed state. The violence in that Mexican city of 1.5 million is almost beyond belief. And the day I was driving by a Border Patrol Agent shot and killed a 15 year old Mexican kid who was throwing rocks at the agents and then jumped the border. Then video shows a Mexican agent crossing the border, collecting spent shells and then putting them on the Mexican side. What a mess.

So I'm now at Toni Larson's house in Tucson. Toni is Tom Larson's mother, Tom the former skipper of Sandpiper and current captain of Sadie Sea. The last time I saw Toni was in Puerta Vallarta in 2005 while we were both visiting Tom and Amy during their first year of cruising.

Toni is a great guide. We've checked out the sights here in Tuscon. A really beautiful place. Kind of has a Austin feel to it. The population is way into all things outdoors and Tucson is home to the University of Arizona at Tuscon. There is so much to do, decisions had to be made on the touring front. We decided that a day spent in Tombstone AZ.

Tombstone was a smooth 90 miles south and east of Tuscon. The drive is through the vast Arizona desert and it was blazing. Temps were in the low 100's. The Green Hornet performed admirably under the strain.

Yes, the town is real tourist trap. But I thought it was amazing. The history of the place is so rich and even today the people who keep the legends alive are continuing its history. People walk around in costumes in character and interact with the tourist. So here are some pictures from the Tombstone day.

Lady of The Evening 1880's

Copper Mine Bisbee Arizona


Capt Chris

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rain on the Scarecrow Blood on the Plow

Gamble Ranch, Mason Texas

I really think I could be a farmer. For a sailor, I sure do love large tracts of land. Always have. At first blush it may seem a bit odd, this passion for inland areas, tractors, plows and what not. But after digging a little further it really is not out of sync with an equal passion for the ocean. The sea is simply another type of wilderness. Another tract of open space. Really the ultimate in open space. An experienced sailor can extract many details from the surface of the ocean. Clues such as swell patterns, wind changes, distant islands unseen but for the pattern of the waves and the like. It may seem a little boring to the less experienced, but to someone who plys the water, it holds endless fascination. It is like that with the west Texas hill country. Dry, with stubby tree's, weird rock formations and rolling hills. But just sit for awhile and you'll start to notice all the birds, gopher holes, nooks where a rattler may reside and that prairie wind.

Many sailors either retire to the tundra or come from the inland tundra. Take Robin Lee Graham who circumnavigated as a 16 year old in 1974 and then followed it up with a bestseller, Dove. He resettled himself in Kalispell Montana and became a builder. Take the crew from Wandering Dolphin, they wandered their way aboard ship from Montana as well. If you spend some time reading about the old whaling captains from New England, you'll find many of them had farms. You see, I'm not nutts!

Me and Zooey

Dr. David is sure an interesting guy. After retiring as a Pediatrician 10 years ago he decided he just wouldn't watch the world pass him by in retirement, he'd just enter the stream and see where things lead. So I just think it was of the coolest things that he bought a tract of land and decided he'd learn about ranching. He has some cattle, a garden and some fields that will be developed someday maybe.
So the past couple of days I got to spend hanging out in the beautiful west central Texas country side. I got to plow the field for awhile in the John Deer and watched the Vet immunize all the cattle. Really interesting to watch the cattle being corralled and then pinned so they could be marked and poked and whatnot. We spent a peaceful night in the bunkhouse and had a great meal.

Pictured above in Gabriel and Dr. David. Gabriel came over from Mexico when he was 21 years old. He is now 75 and has been a rancher in Mason Texas since. A real cowboy who just belongs on the plains.

Sunsets in Mason Texas

I left this morning and restarted my journey west. I now sit in Las Cruses New Mexico. Tomorrow I plan on making it to Tuscon Arizona where I plan to stay with Moma Larson. Tom Larson's mom from Sadie Sea and Sandpiper fame. Let it be known, it is friggin hot here in New Mexico.

I've been uploading tons of pictures that you can view in my google photo album. Just click here or the links at the right or up top.

Farmer Chris

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sailing Texas Style/Austin

Austin Texas

I left Houston astern on Friday morning and headed for Austin. I made a stop at a Sonic Burger in the little ole Texas Town of La Grange. I dig it as this is the town made famous by the ZZ Top tune, aptly named La Grange. " You know what I'm talkin bout. Just let know if you go to that home out on the range."

But, I just couldn't wait to get to Austin. And I did. I am staying with the nicest people. Of course you all remember my buddy John Gamble, well I am staying with his Uncle David and Aunt Barbara in their beautiful home. Once again I have scored and scored big time. Here are a couple of pictures of the loft that I am staying in.

Uncle David is a retired Doctor, and someone I would label as "activity man." He is on the go no doubt. Aunt Barbara is a highly green thumbed gardener and excellent cook. I'm in great hands.

I can barley keep up blog wise with all the things we've done since I arrived. Here is a shot of Austin and the Colorado River that runs through the city taken at an over look.

On the little tour of pleasures through Austin we made a stop at Lance Armstrong's Bike shop named "Mello Jonny's Bike Shop" and followed that up with a stop at Whole Foods World Headquarters. I had to juice at HQ.

We followed up after a good nights rest with a bike ride first thing, before the Texas heat built in. We were joined by David's two friends, also physicians, so I felt pretty good about my traveling health care team, just in case I biffed. This ride gave me an even greater appreciation for my rapidly growing excitement of Austin. Not long after our bike ride we went for a tour of Austin. One of the highlights was checking out the Texas State Capital and the Campus of The University of Texas at Austin. Pictured below is the infamous Tower on the campus where Charles Whitman killed 14 and wounded 32 in a shooting rampage in 1966.

But what ya'll are really jazzed about is the fact David owns a J-24 and is an active racer out of the Austin Yacht Club. And so I put on my nautical thinking cap for this unexpected sail on Lake Travis.

Wow is Lake Travis beautiful. We had beautiful conditions of 10-15 knots out the southeast and plenty of boats to race against, all J-24's.

We raced in two races, placing 3rd and then 2nd. I really have little racing experience, so it really was exciting, especially jockeying for position at the starting mark and then rounding the windward and leeward marks. My job was in the pit. In charge of feeding the spinnaker out the hatch and then retrieving the beast. We had such a good time and I was really excited to find a very active sailing community in central Texas of all places. Another notch in the Austin belt of awesomeness.

What else have I done might you ask? Well, great dinners each night, with fresh veggies from the Austin community garden. And this morning I made it to a yoga class.

And this afternoon David and I toured the LBJ Library. Love the history of our nation. It is very humbling to see things like the Presidential Limo and the bible used to swear in LBJ moments after the JFK assassination in Dallas.  All the upheaval of Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement is well displayed in exhibits.

You have to ask, well what is left to do? I'm stoked to report that activity man owns a cattle ranch in the hill country of western Texas. So I'm heading to the ranch tomorrow where I will stay in the bunk house before pushing further west and closer to San Francisco on Tuesday.

Capt Chris