The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Monday, August 7, 2017

One month post arrival

As we crossed the bar into the Columbia River, we still had 90 miles to travel up river to Portland. Zander spent some of this time stringing together all the courtesy flags from the 39 countries we visited. Our arrival also coincided with our nations's birthday, the 4th of July. As we made our arrival into the Portland Metro area, to the passerby, we just looked festive. About 15 miles out of Portland we passed a dingy, covered in USA flags, that doubled back to say hello, they were fellow Yacht Club members and recognized our boat. As we passed Sauvies Island we were hailed on the radio to come into a dock and share a glass of wine with other boating friends. Apparently they had watched us cross the bar the day before via our AIS and knew better than we did our arrival time. They mentioned that they had been following our blog and as they recounted several of our adventures I had written about, both Zander and Michael realized I had been writing quite a bit in the last three years. I don't think they were aware how much of our trip I shared and that there were actually people following us. Several hours later we docked at the Portland Yacht Club to a patio covered with people cheering. OK, so maybe they were there for the Independence Day celebration, but they sure made us feel welcome. We were in a bit of daze, but the Commodore brought us a bottle of champagne and asked us to speak a few words at the dinner that we pretty much crashed. I'm not sure if we were very coherent, but we certainly had a very lovely welcome back home.
Since then it has been a flurry of house projects, landscaping battles (death by blackberry thicket), a drive to SF to retrieve some of our belongings and say hello to family and attempts to re-engage in a land based life. It has been all a bit overwhelming, although at the same time it feels like we never left. In some ways we have slipped seamlessly back into the folds of suburban life and for some of that I am grateful. Friends have reached out, the boys have had countless playdates and morning gossip with running friends started up just as I left it. Those aspects of life have been lovely. We try to focus on those parts and ignore those that are less fun to engage in; like getting bogged down in traffic or something equally tiresome. It is a balancing act, as life so often is, and these are long lost skills for us, but we are working on our balancing skills every day. Some days I desperately miss the solitude of being at sea, the instant camaraderie you feel with fellow cruisers and the opportunity to spend so much quality time with our kids. Some days I wonder why we came back, but most often I try to feel grateful for the friends that we are reconnecting with, the comfort of being in a house again  and the close proximity to family. Those are all things that I cherish and things that I focus on as we continue to re-integrate into life.
Latitude 38 included the last leg of our journey in their latest publication. They have been great about supporting our adventure and hopefully we've been able to highlight the cruising experience in a way that is enticing, but by the same token realistic.

Latitude 38 article on our trip, page 123 August 2017

A few more videos

OK, not from our arrival, but a throw back from the outer reef on one of the Tuamotu atolls.

Not many pictures with Zander putting his arm around anyone, so I had to post this one. 

dolphin escort out of the Marquesas

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Home Sweet Home, July 15

I feel like after three years at sea I should be sharing some words of wisdom and some coherent summaries of how our life has been changed and bettered by our time together as a family. How we saw the world from a different prospective and not through the lens of the American media and simply to reflect on the wonderful things we have experience. Alas, I am just not up to the task at the moment and hope to work on some words that articulate better what this epic journey has meant to us. That will have to come in time, for now I can offer an update on how things are going as we re-assimilate back into our land based lives. I can also share a few short moving videos of underwater life that I simply was not able to share with the bandwidth we had while cruising.

We've been back 10 days or so now and the novelty of living in a home again is starting to wear thin. We've had three years of deferred maintenance on our house to catch up on, so while Mike was excited to move off the boat and take a break from constantly fixing things.......guess what he is doing now? He's fixing things! Although there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Things have changed a little in our neck of the woods. In the time that we were away, two new houses were built adjacent to our property, so where there once was a thicket of blackberries and other trees, there now are two homes.  The high school boundary map was redrawn while we were away and the high school we always expect to go to, the one just a mile away and down the street is no longer our HS and we will have to cross two major highways to get to the new one. The traffic seems to have gotten worse, but that is probably the case everywhere. I suppose all in the name of progress. How soon before I yearn for those isolated days on the atoll? Probably when I'm stuck in my first traffic jam!

When we returned Porter immediately started texting friends and setting up park dates and he is currently at a sleepover. Zander has touched base with a friend or two, but enjoys the solitude of shooting hoops and having some much needed space to himself and is slow to move back into the hectic social scene. Ana didn't remember much about our house. She needed to be shown where the bathrooms were, where the mailbox was, and while she was ecstatic to have her own room, she has yet to sleep all night in it alone! We are all used to having zero elbow room, and now we have a big house to get lost in. It is all good, but it is taking some adjusting to.

What else is different? It is still a novelty to have Internet and instant information at our fingertips. We still aren't used to that and we feel like cavemen having been dropped into the 21st century. I love having a grocery store up the street from us. I no longer have to meal plan two weeks or so out in order to make sure we eat.  Not everything has to be made from scratch either. A frozen waffle and a toaster is an amazing thing. The amount of retail in our area and the choice of stores, restaurants and buying options is also staggering. I can now walk into a Target and drop $100 and not really get anything important. Abroad that never happened. Yes, prices were more expensive, but there really never was anything of quality to buy.  In the islands nothing was ever cheap and the quality was poor. Think dollar store quality or worse.  And more often than not, just nothing to buy.  In Latin America things were cheaper, but you got what you paid for and quality was usually still poor. We bought very little, and of course we were restricted by space on the boat, so purchases were minimal and we got by with what we left Oregon with. We are also hemorrhaging money in many other ways that just didn't exist on the boat. Obviously the house is consuming some money but that was a given. We've poured money into soccer camps, soccer leagues, water polo associations, swim condition access at the community pool and get this, it actually cost big bucks to play on a high school sport these days. We've got cell phone bills, cable, wifi, house utilities, car insurance and higher health insurance. All things we didn't have to pay for while afloat. The financial cost of living the American dream is a bit overwhelming at first.

We are very happy to be home, but we know there will be times when we will miss the simpler lifestyle cruising offered. It will continue to be an adjustment, but hopefully an enjoyable adjustment period. Pelagic is currently docked at the Portland Yacht Club and we've decided we aren't going to make any decisions on whether or not to sell her for the next year. She took great care of us for three years and over 28K miles, and we want some time to ponder what our next big adventure will be and whether or not it will require a new boat, our old boat, or no boat at all.

More to come as I sift through our mountain of video.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Arrival, Astoria, July 3rd

Spot doesn't have coverage over the whole Pacific, but this covers most of our last passage.

The Astoria bridge in the background as we made landfall in Oregon. Whew, I didn't think we would ever get here. 
I'll keep this one short, but I've got some videos; diving, passage making, that at some point I would like to share.  It may take me a few weeks to get organized enough to post. Check back.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

ETA Columbia Bar, 5am

After 19 days at sea, we are finally in the final push to land. We will still have to motor up river 90 miles, but we will be within cell phone range, on a flat river and more importantly, maybe we will get out of this marine fog and warm up.
We've got about 75 miles to go, and we are expecting to cross the bar at about 5am tomorrow morning, which has us cross with a flood tide, perfect for going up river.

We are starting to see lots of fishing boats out here, but our lines in the water have yet to get a nibble. We've got lots of space in our freezer for a nice big salmon. Bite damnit!

N 46 16
W 126 01

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 1, two days out, 275 miles to go

Two days until we reach land, two more days up the river and then we will be home. 1 day shy of three years from the day we moved out of our house and on to the boat. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic about getting home and resuming our land based life, but it is definitely with great sadness that we close this chapter. From our blog, you don't have to read between the lines to realize that it wasn't always easy; we fought, the kids fought, the passages were hard (excruciatingly hard sometimes), living altogether in a small space for three years was less than ideal at times, the home schooling was often frustrating....we definitely had our difficulties. That said, even with those hurdles in place, it was still the time of our lives. A time we will never regret having spent with our kids. Ana won't remember all of it of course, but when she forgets an event, for example jumping overboard in the middle of the ocean, I hope she has tucked in deeply the sense of freedom, the sense of adventure and the thrill her face showed the first time she did it. I hope when, at a future time, the boys are presented with a less than favorable temptation, the responsibilities they had while sailing will give them pause enough to say "I do not need to prove myself here." There is no substitute, no replacement feeling for the thrill of spearing your first fish, having a shark bluff charge you or the excitement of making a landfall after many, many, many days at sea. I hope they remember that some things are worth being patient and waiting for. I hope the challenges Zander, Porter and Ana faced in Spain ready them for tough social challenges in the future. I hope the languages they were exposed to will give them more desire to learn new languages. I hope the landmarks they explored will help them remember and appreciate historical events. I hope the people they met, the cultures they were welcomed into and the friendships they were shown will remind them that people are precious regardless of their country of origin or the lifestyle they have chosen. I also hope, when they inherit this planet, they will forever remember the beauty, the complexity and the amazingness that is our home, along with our 7 billion neighbors, and work hard to protect it.

OK, some random musings. We aren't actually there yet, so technically we are still "living the dream." If the dream means fighting weather patterns in the North Pacific, being perpetually cold and having not slept more than 4 hours in a row in almost 3 weeks, then yes, we are living the dream! Although I shouldn't really complain. This passage could have been much, much worse. We did have a couple of rough days, but if you disregard the cold and fog and those few days, the majority of it has been pretty pleasant. It certainly helps that there are only three of us. There is a sailboat, a couple on a 46 foot Halberg Rassy, that charge big bucks to have prospective cruisers do passages with them where they show them the ropes. A future cruiser is exposed to the hardships that make up passage making so they are ready for their own passages. I've often thought, I could charge a mint renting my kids out on passages. If you cross an ocean, or even part of an ocean with our kids or probably any kids onboard, and then you remove them from the equation...the rest of your passages will forever feel like a piece of cake. Storms and pirates got nothing on three kids trying to coexist in 42 feet of space!

Enough for now, we are almost there! At the moment all is well aboard Pelagic.

N 45 45
We 130 17

Thursday, June 29, 2017

500 miles to go, June 29

We are currently 500 miles off the coast of Oregon and we have fantastic winds. We are on a beam reach, our cruising speed is 7.5 knots and the seas aren't too bad, so it is fairly comfortable. We expect these winds for another 36 hours or so, a short break with low winds (and I'm sure we will be too impatient to wait through and we will motor) and then we should have good winds entering the Columbia Bar. Yippee! If the winds change and the bar closes, we are busting through. We are hoping to cross into the river by the second of July. We still have the 90 miles to get up the river, but that will be easy, flat and we can use the time to get the boat ready to leave (pack some of our stuff up, clean, etc.).

We had some water get in a leaky porthole when we were in some weather a few days ago and we are still airing things out. Not easy when the temperatures don't get above about 50 during the day and there is ever constant salt spray on deck. I think we will just have to be grungy and wet for a couple more days.

I'm cold, but my sauna is calling....5 more days until we are in Portland and home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What a difference a day makes, June 27

Holy crap, we finally found the elusive North Pacific High. The bad news is we are in the middle of it, and no wind. The good news is, who cares the seas and wind are finally calming down and we are motoring. Sailing is totally overrated!

The high is expected to move west and we will be on the NW side tomorrow and from there we do expect to have good winds for the rest of our trip. Hmm, have I thought that we were in the clear before, yes, but this time it does look promising.

The weather is cold, so night watches are all about hunkering down and staying warm. Fortunately they haven't required any middle of the night sail changes or anything, so we can bundle up and stay under the dodger. Now that we are motoring we have plenty of hot water and I've started taking a hot water bottle up on watch with me. I know, not very sailory of me, but my old bones don't like this cold weather. Tough ex-Alaskan that I am and all.

We are still 934 miles away, so at 5 knots (our motoring speed) it will still be another 8 days. We are hoping with the SW wind we will make up a little ground. It would be pretty cool to make landfall in Astoria with fireworks in the background. A little celebratory homecoming just for us.

We are getting pretty excited to be home. It hasn't quite seemed real until now, but in less than 10 days I will be sleeping in my own bed. That is, if I can find my bed. We had a room in our basement built before we left, so most of our belongings are in there. Hopefully there hasn't been any water damage, hopefully we don't open the door to a room full of mildew. I checked on the house last summer and up until that point things were fine, but until we get there we won't know for sure. Regardless, my fruit trees will be there, my garden can still be planted, my beautiful kitchen with more than 18" X 24" of counter space, my flush toilets, and finally the knowledge that when I rest my head at night, my home will be in the exact same place when I wake up. The simple joys of life.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Just a few more throwbacks from earlier visits, scheduled post

Cape Verde

What's in your pocket?

Kids playing soccer in a centuries old castle in Portugal. We had the village to ourselves.

Chicken grilled over a volcanic heat vent in the Canary Islands.

Too rough for a swim, but a mid Atlantic dip of the feet off the swim platform.

Sanlucar de Guadiana, home for three months.

Porto, Portugal

We never tired of these guys in Gibraltar.

Camel back trip into the Sahara, Morocco. 

Mosque in Fez

Cape Verde village.

checking out for a while, June 26

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. That has been my mantra for the last 2 days. We have been beating into NE winds, trying to go east without losing our northerly progress, worried we would get too close to the coast without making the last 8 degrees of latitude and then be properly stuck off the coast of Northern California with only strong predominant north winds to contend with. Up a creek without a paddle so to speak. We are/were so tired of beating into the waves; slamming down into the water with a boom that resonated in the hull of the boat like a drum and sleep completely impossible. Remember sleep deprivation is a form of torture. For that reason we decided to call a time out. We've decided to heave to for at least the next 12 hours. We've only done this one other time and just for about an hour while we cooked and ate, but I wonder why we haven't done it more often. It is such a great break! We are slowly being pushed at 2 knots back the way we came, but we are grateful we aren't being pushed south. Prior to stopping, for 48 hours, we were flying at 7 knots, close hauled, sailing as hard to the wind as we could, every sail reefed to the max and we were miserable, but we couldn't sail any other direction. So the decision was made to stop sailing, call for a helicopter and get the hell out of dodge. No not really! We now think we will wait until the high comes to us, instead of racing out in front of it. At that point we hope to motor through the middle of it and then take the SW winds that it will create and ride them all the way home. We hope. It has been a tough routing passage for us. We usually feel pretty comfortable routing ourselves, but for only the second time in three years we used a professional weather router to help us plan our trip from Kona. We have been congratulating ourselves on every decision that we make the router seems to think is also our best option. So while the router concurs with us, we both seem to be wrong! Not terribly helpful! The weather in the North Pacific is not following its usual pattern and it's frustrating.

Anyway, we've officially stalled the boat for the last 6 hours and we already feel like new people. We had a warm meal, we took a long nap and we are getting a glorious reprieve from the shudder and boom the whole boat was experiencing as we plowed through the waves. My nerves are almost back to normal. I think I could stay like this forever. It is always something on these passages and we are just happy the discomfort we previously felt can be remedied with a little stall. The boat is still moving over 10 foot seas, but comparatively speaking, it feels like a mill pond out there.

Anyone want to trade places?

More miscellaneous photos, scheduled post

In absolutely no order what so ever, some of my favorites........
Isle of Skye
Lovely Ireland.
Newfoundland harbor.
Beautiful Newfoundland.

Most of the Newfoundland to Ireland crew.

Another favorite anchorage in the Isle of Skye.

One of our favorite anchorages.

Just another pretty view in Scotland 

Vivorillo Keys, Honduras, my they were little there.
Bradford Newfoundland to Ireland crew.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Miscellaneous Photos, scheduled post

 Random throwbacks........just because.
River in the San Blas

San Blas
Having friends visit.

San Blas, bridge to the mainland.
Monkey Selfie.
Never tire of the beach.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Half way there, June 24

We've covered just over half of the 2400 miles we think we need to sail to get to Oregon. I say think, because we aren't going directly towards Portland, but maneuvering around a very frustrating high out here. Anyway, we will get there eventually, but at least in theory we've reached a milestone. It is very calm at the moment and the seas are almost nothing. We are ghosting NE at 5 knots on only 8 knots of wind. It's hard to believe the weather is predicted to change dramatically tomorrow night and we may have to take a hiatus from the easy life and actually do some harder core sailing; meaning to weather and in bigger wind and seas. I kind of like the ghosting.

Zander and I are getting some studying done in the light conditions; pondering the mysteries of mitosis and meiosis. We've had so many weeks at seas these last few months that we can't quite afford to go on summer break yet. Without Porter and Ana using the computer to watch movies Mike and I have actually been filling the down time with episodes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Yeah, we are a few years behind the times.

The skies are gray, the oily seas have gone from the most beautiful cobalt blue to cold metallic steel. The water is about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Hawaii and we are not longer in the tropics.

N 38 52
W 146 45

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Solstice at sea, June 21

Growing up in Alaska the summer and winter solstice were big deals. In the winter we celebrated the solstice as the darkest day because every day afterward we would gain 4-5 minutes of sun daily. In the bleak of winter, living about 100 miles south of the Arctic circle, that is something to celebrate with joy. In the summer, well it meant midnight sun. Technically the sun went down for an hour or so, but it never got dark, the sun just beneath the horizon kept those hours suspended in a midnight twilight with beautiful pink and purple lighting. The summer solstice was a time for playing. Baseball games played at midnight without lights, 5 thousand participant runs starting at 10pm, concerts, festivals, waterskiing in the middle of the night. Everything revolved around those precious long days. Once August or September rolled around, we were exhausted with sleep deprivation. We almost craved those long winter nights. Well, almost.

At sea the light is also precious. When we were sailing due north we were gaining 6-7 minutes a day. At latitude 35 we have about 14 hours of sunlight a day. Normally at that latitude, after June 21st we'd be losing a minute every few days. Since we continue to move north, we are still gaining daily. We are chasing the long summer night, extending our summer, and although we've been in a perpetual state of summer for almost three years, it isn't the heat or the sand that make me think of summer, it's all about the light.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Microplastic Sampling, June 20

We've been taking samples for a global micro plastic initiative sampling program through Adventure Scientists Worldwide. Sample size limits us (1 liter each) from taking samples everywhere, but we've taken them when samples have not been taken in that particular region previously by a different group. For example they had very little coverage in the norther part of the North Atlantic. If you click the link and run your mouse over the dots that span Newfoundland to Ireland (on the embedded link, not the photo below) you will see five of the samples we took two years ago. Shipping the liter bottles back is also expensive from foreign ports, so we've been picky with where we have sampled.  We sampled from the Marquesas to Hawaii and will send those samples in soon and we hope to sample between Hawaii and Oregon which surprisingly has little coverage.  When the weather is rough, it is a little scary hanging off the swim ladder to collect samples, but we are hopeful we can get some good data on this next leg.

It has been a fun and educational experience to sample for this group.  The kids get a fantastic chance to partake in real science and practice their skills at following a protocol and taking good data and notes. Zander has already found flaws in their protocols, so he has the makings of a good scientist.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 5, June 18

The wind died today and we find ourselves motoring on oily seas. They North Pacific is certainly showing its softer side this trip, and we are not complaining. The high continues to dance around north of us and we are trying to anticipate its movement as we chose our routing. We are still heading due north, but we hope to make some easting sooner than later. At a worst case scenario, we would have to sail north all the way to 45N and then head directly east. It adds some miles, but as long as the seas don't pipe up or a low doesn't descend down upon us, a few more days won't kill us. It is pleasant out here.

We really don't mind motoring on occasion. We get hot water, all the power we need and generally when we are motoring the seas are flat. We get a chance to catch up with boat chores, do a little more homework and simply get a reprieve from the rocking and rolling we usually have to endure.

It's Fathers Day today. I miss my Dad, Mike misses Ana and Porter. We are looking forward to a happy reunion and not being quite so far away from the people we love.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A few more photos from Hawaii, June 17, scheduled post

Lava Vent in Volcano National Park

Volcano National Park

Mauna Kea summit

Mauna Loa summit.

Green Sea Turtles.

Petroglyph of Captain Cook's ship.
Galactic Friends.

Sea Turtles coming ashore.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The magical third day, June 16

Just like clockwork on the third day all three of us feel like we've got our sea legs back and life takes on some normalcy. If you call floating around in the North Pacific normal. Prior to the third day our sleep patterns aren't set, food doesn't taste as good and we move around in a quiet stupor. Today that changed and all is well aboard!

We are hoping the spot will staring recording our position soon. Until that time our position is:
N 26 43
W 155 32

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trial by fire, Day 2, June 15

Deja Vu, weren't we just out here?

OK, here we go again, our third major crossing in the last 5 months. This time with a smaller crew. Porter and Ana are now in SF with the grandparents.

Leaving Kona was tough. To get around the big island we had to cross the channel between Maui and the Big Island and the trades funnel through there with an added venturi effect. Fortunately we could sail, it just beat us up a little. Fast forward 36 hours and life is infinitely better. The seas have died back some and the winds have dropped. You'd think we'd still have our sea legs, but nestled snuggly in a very protected marina for two weeks and our remaining crew all seemed to have lost them. It is just Mike, Zander and I out here and although I already miss Porter and Ana, I'm happy they are being spared this last passage. They will have more fun hanging out with family and enjoying the midnight sun in Alaska.

Our game plan is simply to head north until we can sail over the North Pacific High. Unfortunately that sucker moves around and we won't know until we get a little further north when we can head east. As the crow flies we are only 2100 miles from Oregon, if only we were crows. Flying back from SF I couldn't help but think that at 400 miles an hour it sure looked like a lot of ocean, what was it going to feel like at 6 miles an hour? It feels slow!

On an optimistic note, we are excited to be going home, comforted by the fact that we don't have Ana to entertain, and looking forward to, hopefully, seeing some cool stuff out here. We don't expect to see whales this time of year, but a new bird species, some fish on the line, a meteor show....who knows. We'll try to enjoy our solitude, read some good books and reminisce about the last three years and how truly lucky we have been.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Culture Shock, Hawaii Arrival, June 4

Lava lake hike.

Lava Lake hike

Land fall, lava flow into the ocean.

We've now been in the United States for a few days now and we are very much appreciating being home, the ease at which we can now accomplish things and the availability of everything.  We are also suffering from a little culture shock entering mainstream America again.

Everything is so easy here!  Some of it is simply there is no longer a language barrier.  We've spent so much of our time in foreign ports and just getting directions or asking simple questions is often tedious.  I can now ask anything I want, in as much detail as I want and I can actually understand the responses. It seems magical!

We are also getting used to being back on the grid.  While we frequently log on to local wifi and get internet, we haven't had a phone or any way for anyone to communicate with us in three years. Mike initiated service on his iPhone and it was like the world was at our fingertips again.  We could get directions while driving, receive texts in the middle of a hike, and have full access to the internet anytime we wanted.  It is an amazing thing and we feel something equivalent to cavemen having been dropped into the 21st century.  We are used to having to make lists of things we need to look up, people we need to contact and online chores we need to do and then wait, often weeks, until we can get internet access.  Then at that future time, we try to get through the list with whatever glacially slow internet service available.  A podcast in Polynesia would take about 30 minutes, a picture took at least 10 minutes to download and we totally gave up on downloading movies or new apps. The banking, corresponding, checking of weather and uploading of pictures to the blog used to be a chore that took easily half a day,  now I can do the same thing sitting in the passenger seat of the car on the way to dinner.  It is hard to convey what it feels like to be plugged back into the world.  It won't always be a good thing, but it is certainly a new sensation for now!

We were also overwhelmed with the diversity and availability of products the first time we went into a supermarket......and everything was so incredible clean, almost sterile. There were no cockroaches hiding behind a box of cereal, we didn't have to check expirations to see if a box of cookies had been sitting on the shelf for several years. The aisles of choice were staggering and we've already gained a few pounds...well, just because we can! Most people probably don't come to Hawaii and rave about the prices, but coming from French Polynesia, Hawaii feels like a bargain.

Another difference we notice is how clean public facilities are.  The first time we went into a restroom in a restaurant Ana was amazed "Look mom, toilet paper and a toilet seat." There were decrative plants, soap in the dispenser,  a hot water option and paper towels.  The place was spotless and we didn't even have to, either pay for 2 squares of  TP, or bring our own.  Little miracles. In morocco we didn't even get a toilet, in most of Latin America there was rarely a toilet seat and in Mexico we often rode on buses for hours that had no facilities.  If you had to go, you waved at the driver, dropped your pants within a few feet of the bus and quickly did your business because the driver wouldn't wait long.

On the flip side of all these wonderful things that are now available to us, we now have to follow rules. In much of the world rules are mere guidelines for officials to follow and depending on the mood of the official you were dealing with, things could go smoothly or they could be difficult.  Sometimes we blew off regulations and claimed ignorance. For example we crossed the Panama Canal without ever checking into the country.  In Venezuela we were able to talk our way into a visit without a visa and in French Polynesia they don't care what you do or where you did it.  Officially I think we are still in Polynesia, because now that I think about it, we never checked out!

We've also enjoyed liberties we can no longer enjoy.  Porter, who has been driving the dingy for years, can no longer legally drive without an adult.  Trivial things like fishing licences now have to be acquired. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, we actually need to know the laws and regulations.  Our MO will definitely need to be adjusted now that we are back in the states.

Entering back into the US and seeing the flag flying was surprisingly emotional for me as well.  We've been mere observers, watching from afar as the political situation in the United States seemed so far removed from us.  I'm not particularly happy with the direction my country has moved in my absence, but I'm looking forward to playing my part in making change.  We've been outsiders for a long time and I'm sure in a few months I will wish I could escape and go back to my isolated little spot on the ocean, but for now I want to partake.  It is a screwed up country, but its my country and I'm happy to be home!