Slip Away

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Logbook:       Summer in the USA (May to October 2016)

As the monsoon season in Southeast Asia was just about to get started, we headed home for a summer in the USA.  Rich had not been on USA soil for over 2 years, and for Jan, it was 1 years, so we were feeling a bit homesick and looking forward to seeing family and friends.  The weather was extremely hot and sticky in Malaysia when we left in early May, and it was expected to be quite rainy for the next few months, so it was good to get away from that and spend summertime in the States.  We left Slip Away under the watchful eye of Joe's Yacht Service in the Pangkor Marina boatyard in Malaysia and started the journey home. 

Malaysia is literally half-way around the world from the East Coast of the USA, so it would be a long trip home, but we were able to break it up a bit.  The day prior to our flight, we took a 5-hour bus from the town of Sitiawan to the Kuala Lumpur Airport.  We spent the night at the Tune Hotel at the airport, and the next day we boarded our China Southern Airlines flight.  When we booked our flights on China Southern Airlines, it was with some trepidation.  Their flights were a few hundred dollars cheaper than other airlines, so represented significant savings, but we recalled from friends who lived in China in the 1990's that this airline was a bit dodgy, and on-line reviews were mixed.  But, China has come a long way since the 1990's, and after studying the on-line reviews, we decided it was worth a shot.  As it turned out, we had quite a good experience.  From Kuala Lumpur, we flew to Guangzhou, China (a 4-hour flight), and after a 4-hour layover, we continued on to Los Angeles (a 14-hour flight).  The planes were new, flights were on-time, service was fine, the food was surprisingly good, and it was as comfortable as one can expect in coach class on a 14-hour flight.  The flight from Guangzhou was on an Airbus A380, and it was the quietest airplane we'd ever flown on.  We also got Delta Airlines Skymiles credit for our flights - good deal!

Upon arrival in Los Angeles, we spent a few days with our friends Camille & John in Hermosa Beach.  We've stayed at Camille & John's place so often that it feels like our second home.  Our room is always waiting for us there, and the welcome is always warm - it's really wonderful to have such great friends!  After five days in Hermosa Beach, we flew cross-country to Miami, where Rich's brother Ron and our sister-in-law Kim live.  We visited with them for a week and while we were there, we bought a car - a 2013 Ford Focus - which would be our wheels for our summer road trip.



Our new car - a 2013 Ford Focus -
in a color Rich describes as "nail my ass red"

Our summer road trip was an epic journey.  Over the next 4  months, we drove over 12,000 miles and visited 25 states plus the District of Columbia.  We covered a good part of the East Coast from Miami to Boston and spent time in the heartland - Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.  After that, we hit the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and finally the Cascade Range on our way to Seattle.  From Seattle we drove south through Oregon and Northern California back to Los Angeles. 

Believe it or not, we had family and/or friends to visit in almost every place we stopped along our route - out of 153 days in the U.S., we spent only 9 nights in hotels.  Jan comes from a fairly large family, but most of them live in or near Cincinnati, Ohio.  Rich's family is much smaller, but none of them live in the town where he grew up (Carbondale, in southern Illinois).  His family is literally scattered from coast to coast and several places in between.  In addition to a few other friends who live in various places, our boating lifestyle has enriched our lives with friends all over the country.  Also, when we attended Rich's 50th high school reunion in June, a few of his classmates who came from out of town invited us to come visit them.  All told, we stayed at the homes of 27 different family members or friends (including 2 boats), and we were treated like royalty.  We ate wonderful meals and drank fabulous wines and micro-brewed beers.  About half-way through our five-month visit, our clothes were growing uncomfortably tight, and the scale was screaming at both of us (yes, even Rich!), and the situation only worsened by the time we reached the end of the trip. 

Although our primary focus on this trip to the USA was to visit with family and friends, we took advantage of a couple of sightseeing opportunities too.  Neither of us had ever been to the Everglades National Park in Florida, so while there, we did a morning tour with an airboat ride.  As we drove from Rich's high school reunion in Carbondale to Boston, we took a slight detour and stopped at Niagara Falls.  Both of us had been to the Falls when we were very young (like 4 and 5 years old), so our memories of the previous visits were vague.  On this visit, we had a couple of spectacular days with blue skies and sunshine, and the Falls were stunning.  As we drove from Utah to Seattle, our friend Kathy recommended stopping at Twin Falls, Idaho, which was not even on our radar screen, but we're so glad she recommended it.  At the end of our trip, when we were driving from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles, we could have taken I-5, which is the fastest route but not very pretty.  Instead, we chose to enjoy the spectacular scenery along the Big Sur Coastline.  We'd done that drive before, and we could do it again and again. 

During our time in the USA, we celebrated new life with the birth of our great-nephew Wyatt to Jan's niece Emily and husband Jason in June.  But, we also mourned the loss of several people who were very dear to us.  Jan's Aunt Teresa and Aunt Mary passed away within days of each other in July, and her Aunt Flo passed away shortly after we returned to Malaysia.  Sadly and unexpectedly, Jan's cousin Vicki lost her husband George just a week after Vicki lost her mother.  Also, the mother of Jan's friend Susie passed away - Jan had just visited Jackie in her nursing home about 10 days prior to her passing.  But the most shocking loss to us was our friend Theresa, who was the wife of Rich's best friend John Mills.  In early June, while attending Rich's high school reunion, we stayed with John and Theresa, and we've stayed with them on other occasions too.  We had an absolutely delightful visit with them in June and talked about future opportunities to spend time together.  A couple weeks later, when we were on the East Coast in Annapolis, we received a call that Theresa had passed away unexpectedly in her sleep.  With incredibly heavy hearts, we drove back to Carbondale and provided what little support we could to John as he laid his wife to rest. 

Photos are probably best way to tell the story of our summer in the USA, so here goes.  We didn't get photos of everyone or everything, so please pardon any omissions!

Hermosa Beach, California - with Catalina Island offshore
Hanging out at South Beach, Miami, with our sister-in-law
Kim and friends Heather & Jon (s.v. Evergreen)
who were in town visiting Heather's sister
View of from Ron & Kim's condo in downtown Miami


The two of us with Rich's brother Ron and our sister-in-law Kim
Baby Alligator in the Florida Everglades
Friends Annie & Russ (s.v. Mohini) at their home near Tampa, FL


Selfie with friends Jill & Mike Hammoor in Tampa, FL
Boating on the ICW in Daytona Beach with friends Mike & Susie


Hiking in Asheville, NC, with friends Tom & Kathy (s.v. Jumbie)
Tree-Hugging in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
in Robbinsville, NC
Chopping wood and building log benches in Murphy, NC,
with friends Barb & Rich


A visit with Mom & Dad


Our niece Emily just a couple weeks before Wyatt arrived. 
We brought him a souvenir from Singapore since
he would be born in the year of the monkey. 


Rich with his best buds from high school - Larry Dietz and John Mills
Carbondale Community High School Class of 1966 - 50th year reunion


Beautiful rainbow at Niagara Falls
It was really a stunning day when we visited
Getting up close and personal to the Falls at Cave of the Winds


View of Boston Harbor from niece Melissa's office
This was our first opportunity to meet our great-nephew
Nathan, who is the son of our niece Melissa and her
husband Andre.  Nathan was 19 months old at the time
of our visit, and we had lots of fun with him! 
Hiking at World's End Park in Hingham, Mass, with niece Melissa,
nephew Austin and great-nephew Nathan


Rich helping Ali & Richard (s.v. Vulcan Spirit) with a boat repair in Boston. 
Ali & Richard had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from South Africa
earlier in the year and were on their way home to the UK.  We were
super excited that our paths crossed with them in Boston. 
A fun reunion in Mystic, CT, with Caribbean sailing friends
Michael & Robin (s.v. Sea Biscuit) and Maggie (s.v. Sea Tryst)



Huge slices of delicious New York style pizza
 at Benny Tudino's in Hoboken, NJ
Rich with his cousin Jane, husband John and
kids Carter & Jack.  Jane used to dance with the
Rockettes and got tickets for all of us to opening night of
their new summer show - a fantastic evening!
Rich with his cousin Jane and niece Brittany in Brooklyn, NY
where Brittany is the Production Manager for Third Rail Projects,
which is an immersive theater company


Boating in Annapolis with Rich's sister Kathleen (on the right) and friends
When our friend Theresa passed away, we tried to find ways to lift
our spirits, and a trip to the Dairy Queen helped a little


Life-long friends Linda Powers Goeke and Jan
Jan's first opportunity to meet great-nephew Wyatt. 
He was born a few weeks early, so was tiny,
but he was healthy and is thriving
Jan and her sibs Joyce, Jeff and Judy at the
family river camp in Warsaw, Kentucky


Jan with her sisters at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. 
Anne Hudepohl (on the left) is one of their "adopted" sisters.
Judy's cat Lucy looking a bit put-out with us because
we won't turn the faucet on to give her a drink of water.
Jan's sister Joyce hosted a Schwab cousins' get-together
while Jan was in town - this is about half of the crew


Jan, Randy & Susie (the two on the right) were roommates in their 20's.   
Vic on the left was one of our partners-in-crime. 
The last time we were all together was at our wedding - 17 years ago!
Our friend Colin judging cars at a car show in Kentucky.
The car show was held at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport, KY,
and was a fundraiser for a cancer research charity. 
We did our part to help support the cause. 
Cheers to friends Kim & Colin! 


While we were in Annapolis visiting Rich's sister, she shared with us some
documents which listed the home address of Rich's Dad before he went into
the army in World War II.  Rich's parents are from Cincinnati (small world!),
so we went out one morning and found his Dad's home. 
Rich installing some under-cabinet LED lights for
Jan's sister Judy and husband Fred
Jan and her Uncle Francis, who is her Dad's oldest brother. 
Uncle "Franny" is now 88.  Jan's Dad would have been 87.



Rich with Terry & Carla Brooks in St. Louis. 
Terry was one of Rich's high school classmates. 
Rich with son Andrew and
granddaughter Peyton in Kansas City
Jan & Peyton's selfie


Rich and cousin Kurt on top of Pike's Peak in Colorado -
elevation 14,110 feet or 4,300 meters

Kurt's wife Amy, sons Kai & Berg and their "puppies"
Enjoying some locally brewed beers at the
Elevation Beer Company in Salida, Colorado with
Kerry & Andrew (s.v. Mariposa) who were visiting from New Zealand and
Bob & Annette (s.v. Tempest) who hosted all of us at their place in Salida. 
The timing for meeting up with them also worked out very well!


Driving through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado on the way to Utah
One of the things we loved about our car was that we got
 great gas mileage.  We averaged about 38 mpg on the
highways, but when we filled up in Leadville, Colorado and
then drove downhill for a few hours, at one point,
our mpg read over 60!
As we got closer to Utah, the landscape started changing


Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, Utah
Jan with cousins Keith & Lindsey
who recently moved from Indiana to Utah
Hiking in Park City with Keith & Lindsey, and the Simis Family
who lived nearby in Midway, UT. 


The crews of Slip Away & Love Song reunited.  We met and became friends
with Kathy & Allen in Ensenada, Mexico, in 2003. 
Celebrating Kathy's birthday with a bit of bubbly
Dear old Dallas - Kathy & Allen's dog - she was a puppy when
we first met her, and we're pretty sure she still remembered us!


Snake River Valley in Southern Idaho
Beautiful Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho
We shared the road with some big trucks as we drove through Utah & Idaho


We had a beautiful day for the drive over Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle
Rich and Chester (Erik & Chrissy's cat) are old buds
Ordering up some microbrews with Rich's son Erik & daughter-in-law Chrissy
at the Fremont Brewing Company in Seattle


View of Seattle from Gas Works Park
A walk in the park with Erik & Chrissy
We didn't drink only beer and wine - we had some great coffee at the
Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle


We know more people in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Vancouver areas)
than probably anywhere else (other than our hometowns, of course).  During
 our two weeks in Seattle, our dance card was filled with fun get-togethers,
such as this sailors' reunion with Tammy (s.v. Secret O'Life), 
Susan (s.v. Last Resort) and Brian & Marilyn (s.v. Icarian). 
Roger & Karen (s.v. Meridian) also attended but left before we took the photo. 
An afternoon with Dennis & Susan (s.v. Two Can Play)
At the Ballard Locks with Cheryl & Ralph (s.v. Fortuitous)



Lunch with Val & Stan (m.v. Buffalo Nickel)
Picnic in the park with Bob & Kay (s.v. Kay II)
We hadn't seen our friend Don Frueh in years - and were delighted to finally
meet his wife Carri and their kids Devlin, Kaysan & Lauren


We have this thing about donuts with our friends Tom & Sam.  We had our
first Krispy Kreme Donuts with them in Southern California.  They now live in
Portland, Oregon, and introduced us to Voodoo Donuts the last time we
were there.  This time, it was Blue Star Donuts. 
Changing leaves in the Pacific Northwest -
time to head south to California!
We stopped for just one night in Weed, CA, with
Mt. Shasta (14,179 feet or 4,320 meters) in the background. 
When the proprietor at our hotel here told us he was from Fiji,
we greeted him with "Bula", the greeting we learned in Fiji,
and the smile on his face lit up the room. 


There is always excellent food and drink, not to mention wonderful company,
at the Hansen household in El Sobrante, California.
And there are always kitties to snuggle with too. 
Bella steals Jan's heart because she looks like her Ali-cat. 
Hanging out with Patti and Hank in their backyard - such
a beautiful and relaxing spot. 
Their gardens provided us with some delicious home-grown tomatoes. 


Driving through some parched countryside on our way to Tracy, CA


Rich still looks like a scrawny kid next to his buddy
Jack Eicholz.  Rich says Jack used to poke him
in the ribs during catechism classes when they were
kids. We saw Jack at their high school reunion, and he
told us to stop by and see him in Tracy, so we did. 
Our friends Mac & Alan (s.v. Effie) also live in Tracy, and they cooked us a
delicious dinner, gave us a place to stay for the night and packed us a
lunch before we headed off on our drive the next day.  How nice is that?!


Big Sur Coastline - one of our favorite drives!

Good times hanging out with the Hempy's in Camarillo for a few days. 
Dan makes some delicious home-brewed beers,
and their home-grown avocadoes were to die for!


Ohio girls rock!  Camille, Mary, Karon & Jan - all of them were born in Ohio
but they all became California girls. 
We were thrilled that Rich's son Andrew and our
granddaughter Peyton could come spend some time
with us in Hermosa Beach. 
There was a lot of squealing and laughter and running in and out of the water
as Peyton got used to the waves hitting the beach.


Introducing Peyton to the underwater world at the Long Beach Aquarium
 - maybe some day we'll go scuba diving together!
Fun with Grandpa at the Redondo Beach Pier. 
Since we hadn't seen Peyton for a while and don't see
her very often, we had to get used to being called
Grandpa and Grandma. Peyton often had to call out to us
several times before we realized who she was talking to! 
Heading out of San Pedro on a whale watch tour.  We didn't see
any whales, but Peyton was quite happy with a few dolphins.

So that brings us to the end of the trip - what an awesome time!  When we arrived in Los Angeles, we had less than three weeks to get everything together for our return to Slip Away in Malaysia.  We saw a few friends, but missed a lot.  We made an effort to sell our car, but just didn't allow ourselves enough time to accomplish that task and decided that since it had been a good and reliable car, we would just keep it.  Rich liked the way the car handled, the seats were comfortable (we spent a lot of time in those seats!) and the gas mileage was good.  We shipped it back to Cincinnati, and it's being stored there so we'll have a car waiting for us when we make our next trip home. 

On the evening of October 3, we started our journey "home" to Slip Away in Malaysia.  We flew on China Southern Airlines (again, good flights) from LAX to Guangzhou, China, and from there on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where a van driver was waiting for us for the last leg to Lumut, Malaysia.  Our total travel time was 26 hours - tiring, but everything went smoothly.  If all goes as planned, the next time we fly home will be from the Caribbean, so it will be a much easier trip (or at least one would hope!). 

We'll be based in the Lumut / Pangkor area on the west coast of Malaysia for the next few months.  We'll be working on some boat projects and making sure that Slip Away (and her crew) are ready for the next chapter.  Our plans for 2017 include crossing the Indian Ocean to South Africa with stops in Cocos Keeling, Mauritius (the islands of Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion) and Madagascar along the way.

In closing, here are just a few more photos from our time in the USA this past summer.  When we're away for a long time, there's always some new stuff that catches our eye.  Several years ago, it was the "blue-tooth" revolution when we came home to find people walking around talking to themselves with something stuck in their ear.  Here are a couple of new-to-us things that caught our eye on this trip:

Tesla Charging Station in Twin Falls, Idaho
We saw this somewhere in New York state
and thought it was a great idea
OK, bags are packed, and we're ready to go - 250 pounds of luggage.  Fortunately, we only had to pay for one extra bag on this trip.