Road Trip: Driving to California

July 16-24, 2008

Cindy first met Clark as a physical therapy patient (See Photo Gallery – 06, 07 & 08 – 2008 – Puerto Escondido & San Diego) and later Scott became
his dentist. We became good friends with shared loves of cycling, sailing,
diving & joie de vivre. He has lived in Paris for many years. When our boat
was being built in France, we enjoyed seeing Clark & partner Vincent on
every trip. They helped us \”move in\” once we launched, unpacking items we\’d
shipped via container to set up house.

I was very sad to miss their civil union ceremony in Paris (known their as a
\”pax\”), so we were thrilled to receive the invitation to their wedding in
San Diego. Seeing the shopping opportunity, Scott was easily persuaded to
join me in the epic journey to drive up the Baja to attend the wedding. We
had a pretty long list of boat items that were impossible to fly in, but
easily driven across the border. At the top of our transport list was
synthetic transmission & engine oil that is not available in Mexico. You can
get it in Hawaii, New Zealand and Austrailia, but for some odd reason not
down here.

So we rented a car in Loreto (2/3rds of the way down the inside of the Baja
California Peninsula) & set off. It was a 600 mile journey on a very windy
road. There were construction & dirt sections that made progress slow. Scott
& I took 2-3 hour shifts driving, listened to our IPOD & enjoyed a full
array of junk food. We really got to see the Baja terrain. Which is mostly
rocks and cactus. But a wide variety of cacti, very interesting & beautiful
in a desert-y way. The drive was interrupted by 6 military checkpoints.
Later we found out that they get money from the US for every car that is
inspected. So every single car was inspected at every single check point. It
ranged from a brief glance to actually opening bags. They almost all tapped
on the door & trunk walls to listen if it was packed with drugs. We were
polite & so were the soldiers, but it was a tiring process and added about
an hour and a half to the trip.

Entering Ensenada felt like we were almost home, since we had spent so many
weekends there after our boat was delivered from Mallorca in June 2004.
Scott had taken a long shift on the roughest part of the road & was
absolutely exhausted, so I took the final leg: crossing the border. It is
tricky finding your way through Tijuana to the border and I hesitated at an
intersection whether to turn right or go straight. Immediately a motorcycle
cop flashed me to pull over. He saw the fear in my eyes & assured me \”No
moleste\”, for which I was immensely grateful. I explained we were uncertain
of our way & he kindly directed us. We had a previous \”mordida\” (which is
Spanish for \”the little death\” and is a small bribe) experience with La Paz
police so were relieved for this better encounter.

The northbound Mexico-US border crossing is always tedious. Despite it being
after 9 pm on a Wednesday, the backed up traffic took over an hour. We were
soooooo happy to finally pull up to our favorite Doubletree hotel & stumble
into bed. Door to door it was 17 hours.

No time to be wasted, we shopped with a vengeance all day Thursday: West
Marine, Kragen, Home Depot, Staples, Bed, Bath & Beyond. We enjoyed a lunch
break with sailing buddy Ty Hokansen who lives in & works in San Diego. We
ran into several contractors that had worked on *Beach House* during our 6
weeks stay at the end of 2007. It was fun to be back in one of our many
\”old neighborhoods\”.

Friday was more shopping including upgrading some of our dive & dinghy gear
suggested by Terry Kennedy, our Sea of Cortez diving mentor. We were looking
forward to seeing the happy grooms to be at a pre-wedding dinner that
evening when Scott got a phone call. It was his half brother Courtney
telling him that their father, John Rush, was declining rapidly with
melanoma. Please consider how serendipitous this was: When we are out of
the US we do not use our cell phones & would not have gotten that voicemail
for weeks or months. Courtney had no idea that we were in San Diego. He was
just trying to contact Scott on the only number he knew. The timing was
fortuitous. Although we had not intended to drive the additional 2+ hrs to
Los Angeles we immediately agreed that Scott should go see John on Sunday
after the wedding. Scott was no longer in a celebratory mood, so I attended
the dinner with Clark & Vincent by myself. It was great to see them & I
really enjoyed getting to know their intimate family & friends.

A bit more shopping was done before the Saturday evening wedding & then we
spiffed up & headed to the Hotel del Coronado. It was a perfect setting for
this beautiful event. Wouldn\’t ya know we drove 600 miles for Mexican food?!
The ceremony was touching, the grooms gorgeous and a good time was had by
all. I was honored to sign their marriage certificate as the witness and be
seated next to Clark for dinner. A highlight moment was the toast given by
Clark\’s mother, with her charming Oklahoma accent: \”Vincent, I welcome you
into the family & I love you. No woman was ever good enough for my son!\”

We had so much boat booty piled in our hotel room that we decided to drive
up & back to LA in one day & just leave our stuff there. We had a quick hug
with Christine (Scott\’s former office manager) off a Lawndale exit to
retrieve our mailbox key. We visited Scott\’s first former office manager,
Marion, in the Fairfax district. We emptied our Marina del Rey mailbox, then
headed \”over the hill\” to the San Fernando valley.

I had called my friend Linda\’s husband on his cell to make sure they would
be home so I could surprise her. It was a success! Martin did not spill the
beans & Linda was thrilled by my unexpected visit. Scott went alone to see
his birth father. He got more acquainted with 3 of his 4 half siblings. A
few weeks later, when he got the news that John passed away, he was very
glad to have been able to see him that one last time.

Skye met us for Thai food, it is always a treat to see our beautiful
daughter. Our last stop heading south was at Mike & Beth Lonnes\’ home in
Redondo Beach. Mike is our main shipping & receiving address when we order
boat stuff. He does a ton of finding, shopping & accumulating for us.
Without the incredible assistance of Mike, we\’d be in a world of hurt.

We loaded 250 lbs of batteries into the trunk and the car. Knowing how much
we already had piled up back at the hotel room in San Diego, I was wishing
we had rented a bigger car…

Monday was our last day to do business in San Diego. We picked up special
order parts from Kragen and Kaman Bearing. We picked up my rush order
repaired dry suit from DUI. We had a final dinner with Ty & got to pet his
still-a-puppy yellow lab Chase.

Packing the car brought out Scott\’s origami skills. We first removed all
packing materials. Then stuff was crammed in every imaginable nook & cranny.
We would drive down to Baja in a low rider.

With no line at the southbound border crossing & no checking of cars for
drugs, we made it back to Puerto Escondido on Tuesday in 15 hours. Our
faithful friend Terry was there to shuttle us by dinghy to *Beach House. *It
was the first time we left her unattended on a mooring and were relieved to
hear the weather had been calm and all was ship shape.

The next day, Terry (s/v Manta) & Mick (s/v Rhumb Line)
*heroically*assisted Scott with installing the 12 volt batteries. And
also helped us
shuttle via dinghy load after load of our boat booty to empty the car. Once
stuff was onboard, stowing it properly was another massive job & spawned
many repairs, upgrades & installations. We took advantage of our last day
with the rental car to grocery shop in Loreto and to pick up our FM-3\’s
(temporary resisdent Visas).

It was a worthwhile trip with benefits on many levels. Thank you Clark &
Vincent for providing the inspiration.

Scott & Cindy