Dear Family and Friends,
It’s hard to believe we’re almost through the first decade of the new millennium. Fears of Y2K seem quaint now compared to the real difficulties we all face these days. If anything, all the economic and political uncertainty has strengthened our relationships and made them that much more important: We’re all we have.
The year saw us still doing our fair share of travel. We continued our recent spring tradition of sailing with our friend, Capt. John Kretschmer, aboard his 47-foot sailboat, this year sailing from Bocas del Toro, Panama to Isla Mujeres, Mexico over two weeks. Nan and I flew into Panama City and spent a night at a hotel located at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal, right next to the appropriately named Balboa Yacht Club. The next day, we took a puddle jumper over to Bocas, on the Caribbean side, and met up with John and the rest of the crew. We sailed north for two days to the tiny island of Providencia, a Colombian island off the coast of Nicaragua. From there, over three days, we rounded west and made landfall in Roatan, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras. We spent a pleasant few days there, touring the island with a friend of John’s, and snorkeling in the crystal waters off the West End. We sailed north again, heading for Lighthouse Reef and its Great Blue Hole, but the seas were rough and we couldn’t risk the reef’s dangerous entrance, so we sailed overnight to San Pedro, on Belize’s Ambergris Caye. Our final passage took us past Cozumel to Isla Mujeres, our favorite place in Mexico. In two short days there, we raced around touching base with all of our local friends, distributing birthday gifts and fond greetings.
As soon as we returned home, I flew to Baltimore to inspect a sailboat for sale. Capt. John met me and offered his expert advice. A few weeks later, I was the proud owner of a 1980 Valiant 40 cutter, now named Whispering Jesse, in fulfillment of the dream I established in my blog of the same name almost six years ago. A week later, my sailing buddy Kevin met me in Baltimore and we sailed the boat down to Solomons, Maryland, where refitting work is being done to prepare her for bluewater passages. If all goes as planned, a small crew and I will set sail in March for Savannah, where my folks have a vacation home, and spend some time sailing with family in local waters. From there, Isla Mujeres and other Caribbean destinations beckon, as preludes to a trip around the world, but plans are still being formulated.
Nan’s mother, Mary Claire, is 87 now and still living at home, cared for by Nan’s younger sister, Amy. Over the summer, Nan made a few trips home to Manitowoc to spend time with her mother and give Amy a break. She timed her trips to take advantage of running races in the area. Nan has carried on with her running pursuits, racing almost every weekend through the spring, summer and fall, and usually placing in the top three in her age group. When she was in Manitowoc in October, Nan was joined by Amy for a trip down to Milwaukee to run in a lakefront event, their first race together.
I made it home to Wauwatosa just once this year, as a side trip on my way to Solomons to check on the sailboat’s refit progress and spend a weekend with my friend Curt and his family in the DC area. Sister Jane and her sons were in Tosa from Seattle and sister Susan’s family lives across town in Shorewood, so it was almost a family reunion. The actual reunion took place later in the trip, when everyone traveled to Chicago for the reunion of the Allen clan, my mother’s relatives. Close to a hundred showed up for an all-day barbecue and reminiscence.
Nan and I returned to Isla Mujeres in September. We had planned to stay for two weeks but cut our trip short due to terrible weather caused by hurricanes Karl and Matthew, which struck well to the south in the Yucatan peninsula but still managed to cause massive amounts of rainfall where we were.
Our card photo this year was taken at the eleventh tee of the Redlands Mesa Golf Club, where we have been members for three years. It’s located within easy walking distance of our home, so the photo gives a good idea of where we live and the views we enjoy of the Colorado National Monument. The golf is pretty dramatic, too, like playing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The holidays are Nan’s and my time to let you know how much we care about you, even if this letter and card are the only communication you receive from us all year. Know that you are always in our thoughts. Here’s to a warm and wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
John, Nan and Scout
This blog is an account of the pursuit of a dream, to sail around the world. It is named after the sailboat that will fulfill that dream one day, Whispering Jesse. If you share the dream, please join me and we'll take the journey together.
For Charlie and Scout
For Charlie and Scout
Raising Charlie: The Lessons of a Perfect Dog by John Lichty
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