Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Secondary Fermentation

Neighborhood Vineyard 2008 Syrah ended its primary fermentation last week. Primary ends when the yeasts eat up all the available sugars and the must becomes "dry." Our consulting winemakers (Brent&Sarah) told me that its not the best practice when making Syrah to let the wine sit on the skins for too much longer than necessary as it makes the wine more tannic and can impart more bitter flavors. So Christophe used a collander and a potato masher to squash our mixture of fermented skins and juice into a steel keg. The wine is now, actual wine, very harsh and tart with a yeasty smell and taste from the recently completed fermentation. It also has a milky white color, reminiscent of a glacial river, which I imagine is dead yeast cells still in suspension.

Now that the wine has been pressed off into the keg, it will be allowed to sit for many months and the expended yeasts and any solids settle out to the bottom. This layer of sediment is known as the lees, and will not be disturbed when the wine is siphoned out of the keg and into bottles. The wine will now undergo secondary fermentation in the keg. Also known as malolactic fermentation, this process was jumpstarted by a second innoculation of a special bacteria which insure a quick start to the process. Malolactic fermentation is another biologcial/chemical process where malic acid is converted to lactic acid, which happens to be much easier on the palatte. Cheap wine is normally allowed so sit in large stainless steel tanks while it undergoes secondary fermentation, and often chips of oak wood are added to impart oak flavors to the wine. More expensive wine spends this part of its life in large oak barrels. Since out batch is so small, we've dispensed with the barrel and used some of Brent and Sarah's excess and experimental oak balls which should add a bit of the normal oak flavor. So now its time to wait and let the wine slowly mature and soften and become not just drinkable but enjoyable.

We started out with 150 lbs of grapes. Which made a must of approx 14 gallons. Now the wine is down to j. That comes out to about 25 bottles of wine. Which is roughly 3 grape vines per bottle of wine. At each step in the proces the wine becomes more of a mysterious and precious commodity. I'm now beginning to understand how a truly remarkable bottle of wine is the final step in a long laborious process that started years ago in the vineyard and could have met with disaster at almost any step of the way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Winemaking - Day 2

Sarah and Sarah watch the yeast come alive before innoculation.

The yeasts are set free into their playground.

Brent and Sarah Goedhart are my invaluable mentors, and have a well oiled operation producing a few hundred cases of their own Red Mountain Syrah. They have generously taken a few minutes from their busy crush schedules to assist our small science project. Day two in the life of a wine seems an important one. B+S measured the sugar content of our must on the morning of the second day and found that the Brix (sugar) was 26.3, which could result in a very high alcohol wine, and so we added 1.2gallons of water to aim for a final alcohol content somewhere around 14.1. The must is now up to 13.9 gallons. The SO2 that was added yesterday has mostly reacted with other compounds in the must and free SO2 levels (sulfur) are low. Fermentation is then restarted with a known yeast. The yeast comes in a powder and is mixed with warm water and grape juice to 'wake them up' and its amazing to see the yeast start to react and grow within about 10 minutes of hydration and the addition of sugar. The enlivened yeast mixture immediately takes on that pungent and distinctive sourdough smell and is dumped right on top of the must. Innoculation has occured and the must is off and running, as the colony of yeast grow and mulitply and hungrily feast on the bounty of sugars in the fermenter. Alcohol is their product. Amazing little buggers! I imagine that they also break down the structures of the grape skin and seeds a bit, hopefully those spiders as well, and shape the must into a new group of compounds that will one day be called wine. The only job now is to keep fruit flies off the must and three times a day "punchdown" the cap of skins that float to the surface. Primary Fermentation takes a few days and will run until the yeast have consumed most of the available sugar. We will then hand squeeze the must in cheezecloth bags and funnel the liquid into glass carboys where fermentation will continue more slowly as solids settle to the bottom of the carboy. Stay tuned for exciting details/disasters.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Making Wine

It has been a long time since my last post. Lots of life has happened, but nothing that seemed worthy of subjecting other people to. This summer been an unbelieveably fun episode of mostly hanging out, some traveling, a quick 35 day voyage around the Pacific, and a bit of tending to a small vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA in eastern WA. As far as vineyards go, its been a bad year. We decided we were in over our heads and ripped out a large portion of it. Now we have only a small fraction left, and its scenic and fun and definately not as back-breaking. Maybe someday a billionaire will buy it from us and put in a McMansion winery. If you know of anyone who might be interested, let them know. Yesterday, the weeds and bulldozers were put aside and Christophe and I hauled our buckets down each row to harvest what grapes we could. It was in the mid 80s and a perfect day to pick. Only a few of our plants are bearing fruit this year and we had about 150 lbs of total crop. Harvest is my favorite job during the year of a vineyard's life. Some of the clusters of grapes were dried up raisins, hard as pebbles for some reason, and others had been picked over by the birds. The majority of the clusters however were tight, and full and beautiful. Even with all the mistakes we had made piled on top of each other somehow mother nature prevailed in the end and produced a few thousand perfect berries. There is something about finding a perfect cluster of plump grapes hidden in the lush green vine that feels like finding a bunch of jewels after a long dramatic adventure. Romantic poems come to mind, and the work is pleasing. Classical music trills in your head, even amongst the reports of nearby propane bird guns, and there is an excitement to see what the next plant will yield.

Christophe and I hauled our 25 gallons of grapes to his sister's small winery in the basement where I painstakingly pulled each berry off the stem for a while before losing patience with that process and deciding to stomp them while in the bucket and then pull the loose stems out. We ended up with 12.7 gallons of deeply red must. With Brent's help we added a sulfite mixture that prevents oxidation and retards the growth of the natural yeasts found on the grape skins and in the air. We mixed the sulfur in well and left the must in the fermenter overnight. Our batch of must is about 30% whole berries and 70% crushed. This ratio affects the "fullness" of the wine. 100% whole berry fermentation is common in Beaujolais, and results in a lighter, fruiter wine, whereas crushed berry fermentation results in more of the compounds found in the grape skin entering the wine, tannins, the mythical Reversatrol, and who knows what else. While involved in detail oriented hand destemming I had the sense that I was capturing an entire ecosystem, not just one fruit. When crushing the grapes, everything that lives IN the cluster of grapes goes into the must as well. This idea was a little unpallatable at first, the idea that a nice bottle of wine might acuatlly contain 0.2% crushed spider and spider nests, but after digesting this revelation it merely adds to the mystery of how a bottle of wine, somehow becomes more than just a bottle of wine. Maybe it is those unmentionables and the entirety of a small world that gets captured which helps to produce something more than the sum of its parts.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Back in Seattle

Sula is sealed up tight, with all gear stowed below, sails removed, and tin foil over the portlights so as to keep out the harsh Sonoran sun. She is beached alongide row after row of similar cruising boats with shreaded sails and tarps flapping in the wind. One only hears the constant thonk of haliyards slapping against hollow masts. The San Carlos dry storage yard is where west coast cruising dreams go to die. Its also the best place to buy a crusing boat. The prices reflect the fact that the trip back to america exacts a harsh toll, and that these are boats whose crew, for whatever reason, have soured on the dream of voyaging. I hope that in October I can return to San Carlos and finish a few more projects while Sula is hauled out before turning south along the mexican coast and then the next big jump. The South Pacific or Central America? I'm not quite sure yet, but its going to be a big step and one I have to wrap my head around soon.

Seattle is calm. A weak sun emerges a few times a day, but its barely strong enough be felt at all. I have gone totally terrestrial. I bought a junky off road motorcycle, a new bicycle, and I've gone on two internet dates. The carburator of the junky dirt bike is what keeps me up at night now. In a few days I'll be packing up all my tools and heading east for a few weeks of farming. The vines need to be pruned and trained soon before they start growing too much. My dream is to try not to drink too much wine and explore the back roads of eastern WA.

End of the Road -- San Carlos Sonora

Sula is in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, which is on eastern coast of the Sea of Cortez. I'm definately not here for the nightlife! Man, its quiet. I'm here because there is a storage yard with good prices out of the normal path of the NE Pacific hurricanes. Unfortunately we made it to San Carlos a little too early and we missed cruising to some interesting islands and anchorages on the western side of the sea. Going upwind in the Sea is not very easy when a norther is blowing and so we made the break across when we had the chance. San Carlos is a great anchorage with lots of scenic hills around, including the iconic Tetas de Cabra. Jamie and I have seen every sight the town has to offer, and there's nothing left to do but listen to Jimmy Buffet in the Captain's Club and plot our escape from town. The town reminds me mostly of a quiet retirement community with a great view. We have made a few good friends here. Emilie and Sam were on a yachting voyage of their own, albeit in a 1988 Chevy Van, and were the only people our age we met in town. We also met a fun group of Gringos in their 60s who seem to be hanging out at all the same places we are. My new best friend is 79 and my neighbor in the anchorage. He's trying to prove that people in their 80s can still sail singlehanded. He's doing pretty well but I've been able to help him out with a few things. I've had a great time listening to his stories and drinking wine with him in his boat's large shaded cockpit. His stories are for the most part, almost too good to be true. I'm really not sure how much they are embellished, but if he's to be believed he is a former US government agent who sailed around the world with his supermodel wife while spying on the russians and exploring lost corners of the globe. I have a feeling the stories are half true, with some gloss added over the years.

The day after we left Gatos, we did some night motoring to make time and I witnessed the best bioluminescent display I've ever seen. Whole strips of sea were lit up without being disturbed, and when the bow wave would cross these plankton stips it would create a green light so bright it would light up the jib with an eerie green glow. Of course the dolphins came to play, right when things were brightest, after the moon had set and the water still glassy. Their forms beneath the water were perfectly lit and when the boat would scare off a school of small fish they would scatter and cause their own lighted trails. The dolphins would tear off after them and you could almost feel it when the dolphin would stirke and hit the fish. It was a memorable night.

Sula will be up on the dirt in storage here in San Carlos and I'll be headed up to Seattle to have a few land adventures and make some more money for the next leg. I'm already excited for the downwind sailing to start again, and to find a few more perfect spots and have a few more perfect days. That may start again in October. I may have a few terrestrial blog entries in the meantime. Thanks everyone who followed along. I've had nothing but support from so many and I appreciate it fully.

Jamie, it was a great trip. The smoothest voyage ever, not a single hitch. I can't think of a better co-captain to have along. Your taquitos will live in infamy. I can't wait for the next mango in the next far off isle. Cheers mate.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

La Paz to Puerto Los Gatos

When Jamie and I left La Paz the weather forecast called for diminishing winds and eventually calms, which was good news, as I would rather motor north in calm seas than bashing always into the prevailing wind. We anchored in two beautiful coves on Isla Espiritu Santo with associated hikes, and made short hops north each day. On the forth day out we found Puerto Los Gatos. The weather was perfect, and the water here was the clearest of the trip and we had the pristine cove to ourselves. There was a reef just off of the point with schools for fish, sting-rays, and corals, tunnels and deep caverns to snorkel through. We should have stayed in this perfect anchorage for a week. But our schedlue and Jamie's flight kept us moving. I'll remember this cove though, and hopefully find more like it on the way back south, a trip which may not come until next October.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Extra Videos and Pictures

Hey everybody.

There is a bug at blogger/google so I can't edit photos very well. when it clears I'll post/explain some more. the first photo above is our 5 man posse after returning to the trailhead. the second is one of the kids from Catarino's house hamming it up for me and jumping into the cage with the "cochis". These pigs were taken very young from their wild mother after Tigresa killed her during a hunt. They are the decendants of domesticaed pigs released into the wild by the spanish.

This is my favorite dog, Chirrin. She is spirtied, loving and loyal. She was always very friendly to me, but she would often challenge and fight full pit bulls who outweighed her by 30 lbs. Video isnt' working either. standby

ATTENTION! Again. CAUTION. I've added graphic pictures of the slaughter of the bull to the post from last week. If you mind lots of bloody meat, you may want to just have someone read it to you.

A week in Cabo Pulmo

I spent a week in Cabo Pulmo recovering from my trip the mountains. It was windy but there is something about this town that is hard to explain and easy to love. I spent quite a few days writing and thinking about my backpacking trip, writing the last blog entry and watching countless episodes of The Office with Bella. I can actually concieve of working in a office! Such is the power of the passion between Jim and Pam. It was hard to leave Cabo Pulmo, I kept meeting more and more great people. Its actually fun when there's only one restaurant open for dinner because you know where the action is. I met another great travelling partner, another great... guy! His name is Alfredo I had a great time hiking around with him and hearing his crazy philosophies. Alfredo's beautiful sister and niece also let me tag along with them for a while and I began to actually imagine that I could stay in the quietest village of all time for more than just a few days. But now I'm back at the boat, getting ready to shove off in a week when Jamie arrives. As we sail north I have a strategy in mind to trick the vicious north wind and allow us to island hop our way to Guaymas. Once again the "dock captains" say I'm crazy. "Go South!" they cry, and I understand, but the romance of the storage yard in San Carlos calls. Summer will arrive shortly and with it the hurricanes.

Guess which one of those two dogs above is the father of the other.

A Warning. I'm adding pitures to the previous post. They show the dead body of the bull and the remnants of its carcass after being slaughtered. To me they are beautiful and important pictures but they may be disturbing to some.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

La Tierra de Leche y Miel

After a quick foray to a hot spring in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna with two American tourists who I met while diving in Cabo Pulmo, I was dropped off at a dirt road junction above the town of Santiago, BCS. I began walking up the road that led to the mountains. It was a quiet, flat dirt road, with cows and goats roaming along each side, their bells tonking in the scrub thorn trees and cactus rangeland. The only cars that passed were headed down, and although it was 20 km to the trailhead I didn’t want to wait. I was excited to be finally walking with just my pack on my shoulders and no idea what was going to happen. I had walked about ten km and finally a car came up the hill. As is the case with most hitchhiking in Mexico, it stopped for me. The ex-pat Canadian had hiked the trail before and took me directly to the trailhead with a quick stop off to buy some mangos at a rancho. The woman selling mangos, Donna Luz, was very nice and told me I was crazy to go to the mountains alone, that I would probably meet her husband Catarino and son doing trail work in the mountains, and that I should stop back at her house for some home cooked food after I came down. The trail begins flat for a few miles following a scenic scrub arroyo. The river that flows down the granite boulder strewn valley is cold and pools often to provide a respite from the hot dusty trail. The oaks and wild fig trees get bigger and more dense as the trail slowly climbs higher. Then all at once it turns upwards, steeply up into the hills, under a canopy of various trees. The gallons of water in my pack and steep climbing slowed me down to a crawl. I made it to a small mountain stream by dark and took a quick bath, and then found refuge in my tent early to avoid mountain lions or whatever else might come out in the night. It was supposedly only a few more miles to La Laguna, which is a high prairie that was once a lake, but when the natural dam burst in the 1880s the lake poured out, drying the lagoon. The trail continued steeply up, following ridgelines and sometimes plunging down steeply into a drainage with palms and huge white spherical granite boulders on its bottom. The area was very dry but cool clean water still flowed in most valleys. Up and up the trail went into larger oaks and even cottonwood trees near water. On ridges there were beautiful views of the endless untouched mountains on all sides. I was absolutely alone now with not a sound or sight of humanity. My only companions were the many birds flittering amongst the dry leaves as well as the footprints of the mules and men who must be somewhere on up ahead. It began to get dark and I had still not reached any feature or signpost or crossroad. Then suddenly I had my first encounter with someone else. I heard footsteps of someone running and suddenly a person appeared running down the trail breathing hard. He was a young Mexican man with a pit bull, semi-automatic rifle and huge knife strapped to his leg. Was this some kind of bandito poacher who would just a soon gun me down as he would a deer? After nervously chatting with him for a few minutes he confirmed that he was part of the trail crew off hunting pigs for supper. I followed him back up and soon reached their high ridge camp. They numbered about 12 persons and looked quite at home living in these high mountains. They had mules, a small pack of dogs, a big pot of venison simmering over the fire, cowboy coffee, and each one a huge knife, walking staff, or rifle. It was as if I had stepped back 100 years into the old west. Traveling incognito with them was an intern of sorts, a gringo named, Nicolas, from Seattle. Since it was getting dark I decided to camp near them and share their fire and gain protection from the pumas that were often mentioned but never seen. They were very kind and from the beginning offered me everything they had. Camp life here is much as I imagine it may have been for generations in the past. The mules whinny and graze outside the camp. The men sit quietly around the fire, playing cards on rough cut wooden benches and tables. Usually a man is sharpening his knife or tools. The three dogs sleep on the outskirts of the camp. Each one sleeps apart from another standing guard all through the night. Each dog was a mutt with varying amounts of the local tiger striped pit bull ancestry. The dogs wear leather armor to protect their neck from the tusks of the wild pigs when they attack them during a hunt. Tigresa especially showed many scars from encounters with these animals. After nightfall a tea was made from the root bulb of a grass-like plant. The tea is said to alternatively aid in sleeping as well as hiking stamina, and although it contains its share of dirt, it is very good. The next morning I hiked on to the laguna and then back quickly to go down with the trail boss, Catarino, his son Catayo, Nicolas the other gringo, and right hand man Raphael. While I had been off, Catarino had taken his intern Nicolas to a tree not far from camp where honeycomb could be harvested. Catarino’s face and hands were swollen with bee stings, but he didn’t seem troubled a bit, and after squeezing the combs with a t-shirt almost four liters of honey were gathered. We hiked back down a few miles in our smaller group and stopped at a beautiful camp near a crystal clear stream with a deep blue pool. On the way up a few days before Catarino had come across a wild bull that had frequently tormented hikers in this high valley camp. Catarino as well as a trail boss, ranger of the high sierra, is also a farmer, and vaquero. He determined to capture the bull and bring him down to his ranch. I did not witness the capture but it seemed nearly impossible to conceive. The bull was chased into a steep canyon and surrounded by the dogs and men. The dogs tired the bull by chasing him back and forth and then they attacked and lunged at his neck, their pit bull nature coming into full effect as they sunk their teeth into the skin at the bull’s neck and refused to let go even as the huge mountain beast shook his head and horns violently. This is when Catarino, the slight, unassuming mountain man himself approached the bull from behind, grabbed his tail and gave it a stiff tug. The bull then shot out a hind leg to kick the antagonist. Catarino quickly slipped a rope around the bull’s outstretched leg and cinched it tight. The next step was to lasso the bull around his horns and tie the rope off to a tree. The bull was then left tied to the tree for two days. When we returned to the camp near the blue lagoon Catarino and Catayo went up to visit the bull and convince him to return with us to domestication. I was a little dubious about how we would guide this 800 lb monster back down a steep path for 8 miles, and when I asked he only replied with a grin, “with one gringo Nicolas each hanging onto a horn.” It was not to be however. Catarino returned to camp and said, “He didn’t want to walk.” Catarino demonstrated how he took knife and plunged it into the bull’s heart and then slit its jugular vein. He reported this with the same nonchalance that he might comment on the medicinal uses of a certain plant found along the trail. The bull had been killed not just to preserve the biosphere reserve from destructive species, but for his meat. There was much work to do. We five men in the posse walked up the small valley to where the bull lay. He was a sight to behold, jet-black, lean and powerfully muscled, a thick coat of hair, and two perfect horns angling forward. We managed to somehow move him a few feet down the dry riverbed where he had died to a sandy spot. We positioned him on his back and made ropes off to each uphill leg. Catarino took his same knife and began to methodically and completely skin the animal and harvest almost every piece of meat possible. The other Nicolas and I would sometimes point at a strange organ or muscle and Catarino would explain what it was as how it was eaten. Literally every part of the meat was taken. I was a little tentative at the start, but Catarino seemed so at ease, and so skillful, we knew we were watching a master at work. The process was fascinating and I felt not queasy in the slightest, but a sense of reverence for this magnificent animal and the man who ruled this mountain preserve. I soon found myself almost inside the cavity of the still warm beast pulling hard on its ribcage at the urging of Catarino as he swung his machete down hard, quickly separating each rib at the spine as blood and bone splattered over me. From this 800 lb animal we hauled probably 500 lbs of meat back down to the river camp. A small incident on the way back to camp stuck with me. With my sore muscles straining to bear the weight of the last hunks of bloody flesh down the steep mountainside I ran smack into a spiked plant. One of the very sharp spears of mountain palm stuck straight and deep into my bicep and a furious electric pain shot down my arm. I jumped back in surprise and a small geyser of blood shot out of the hole in my engorged bicep, deep red, silhouetted in stop action against the sky. It was the funniest thing to see my own blood in that instant. I laughed out loud for a moment, from nervous energy and exhilaration, as I continued down the trail, now with one hand grasping the hole in my arm to stop the flow of blood. After completely dismembering an animal much stronger than I, with one of his huge legs slung over my shoulder, to see my own blood seemed such a trifle. What normally might have caused me to faint now only seemed a joke. I felt I now had a bit of Catarino in me. And at the sight of my own blood maybe there was even a certain ecstasy to feel just how alive I was in that instant. Bleeding was just another way to pay reverence to this land.

That night as I went to sleep near the river with the cacophony of frogs all around and the palm framed clouds sliding by, I can remember feeling different. I was captivated by this trip back in time to a place where life is the connection to plants and animals and earth. I understood now why each man seemed to always be sharpening his knife. It was amazing to feel a part of it, to bathe and drink from the same cold, life-giving stream, and cook only over the hot fire. The modern world seemed far away. The world within sight was everything, provided everything, and there was not a need for anything more. It was a feeling of contentedness and timelessness that seemed strong and clear. In the end, we came back to the city anyway, the other gringo Nicolas and I, after a few more days with Catarino and his family. Nicolas returned to his organic farm in La Ribera where he’s working for a while, and I’m now back in Cabo Pulmo, but I still feel the sore spot in my arm where the palm plant went so deep into me, and I still feel that awe of watching a man and a people so in tune with their land.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Northern Interlude

I've just returned to La Paz, from an almost month long trip to the US. I remember joking several times that I was on a much needed vacation from my vacation, but that's exactly what it was. Sailing on the ocean, in my experience, requires so much mental vigilence and physical work that as a form of relaxation, it in fact tends toward the opposite. Flying north on a plane for two thousand miles was insanely easy. Sailing those same two thousand miles was insanely difficult, slow, and uncomfortable. But sailing does make for better stories.

My sister picked me up from the airport and I was in the middle of downtown seattle very quickly. Everything is easy in America. The cold air was penetrating, but it felt, real, comforting and clean. In the middle of downtown Seattle during rush hour, the air is much more clean than it ever is in a Mexican town. From that first night in Seattle life charged out of the gates. The miracle of the cell phone began to do its work, plans were made, chatting was done over glasses of wine, and life blurred by. On the first night I chatted with Gen and Avi at a small tapas/wine bar in Belltown for a while, then made my way down the hill to Pier 70 to find Christophe, drunk, screaming at a billionaire trucking magnate's entourage, with Channel 4 Anchor's Dan Lewis, and Kathy Goertsen, silently looking on. I told sea stories to vintners and trophy wine writers and trophy chicks, all riding the coattails to some insanely good and ridiculously expensive wine. (those two do sometimes go together) Some untouchable southern rhone miracle nearly bowled me over, and Christophe only urged us on, "its all subjective!" A plan was stolen to find a few cows and start an organic herbally infused creamery. Luxury Butter! Women were wooed, and women were lost. More nights passed in the city like this one, jumping from place to place, socializing at full bore, seeing as many people old and new as could be seen. Respite was had in the country, in Preston, Cle Elum, and Red Mountain. The snow was deeper in Cle Elum than I can remember seeing it, and it made for fun skiing, snowshoeing and... football? We tried anyway. A tromp through the snow was the perfect antidote for tropical brain rot. Maybe too perfect, for it became hard to be excited about returning to lonely La Paz, when I had this winter wonderland full of friends and activities. News Flash: I may be a dreamer. That's one conclusion I reached during this trip home. I may be the proverbial shark that can't sleep, always needing new water running past my gills. A circumnavigation is only 5% completed, and yet, my mind has already started moving on to the next, dryer challenge. My passion for the next leg of the trip may come, but it may fade even more, who knows. One difference is to be sure, there are not many people down here my age, or whom I can connect with, whereas Seattle is fuller every day. So,...maybe a sailing companion could be found to reignite my interest in going to the ends of the earth, or maybe I should just keep my boat here on the Mexican coast, for short trips when the Seattle rain drags on too long.

Back in Seattle I had an epiphany of sorts after waking up on Max and Sarah's couch. I thought back to when I was 20ish, and a newly minted 3rd Officer, travelling the world on merchant ships or in my turbocharged car. I had the best job in the world, and not one string kept me from going wherever I wanted. A thousand couches and beds across the globe I've laid my head on since then, and I can't imagine having more fun or another era in which I'd rather live. And when one is 20, it seems the thing to do, to roam, to ponder and to indulge all the delights of this green earth. Now that I'm 30, that's still happening. Most of my friends however, are finally settling down. Even Max has his first job, designing military/medical lazers. Christophe and Maggie are builing a dream house. My oldest friend Hailey in SF has been out of law school for four years! and is flourishing at a big crusty firm downtown. She'll be partner in a few more years, and my perpetual couch crashing chugs ever forward. Just think how out of sync it is to be a 40 year old... vagabond. Worse than a virgin.

This picture below is the view out of Hailey's window. I could stare for an hour at my bridge and not be bored at all.
My instant plan? Sail the boat to the South Pacific next winter hitting the Marquesas and Tahiti and those far off islands, then North along the chains toward Hawaii, and then into the North Pacific, curving in toward Seattle. In Seattle, sell the boat to the next dreamer and buy a run down house in an up and coming neighborhood. A place to put my backpack down and fix up into something real. A place to mention when on a date and someone asks "where do you live?" I think now I could only say, "Oh right now I still live with my parents,...... but they're really cool."

Well. Despite the horror of reality and getting "old", my month home was an amzing time. It was filled with what Alan Greenspan might call "irrational exuberance." I'm just glad the bubble hasn't burst yet. Thanks everyone for another amazing time. Tweet, Avi, Christophe, Billionaire, Sarah Munson, Kathy Goertsen, Dan Lewis, Jamie, Jamie's Mansion, Max, Sarah, Marika, Jennifer, Ashley, Ryan and Feasters, Cliff, Carrie, Caitlin, Margaret, Kevin, Ray, Bubba, Heather, Gertrude's Hearse, Mandy, Murray, David, Maggie, Julian, Mom, Dad, the entire Crosetto Clan, Laurence, Annkia, Meaghan, Hailey, Bob, and that woman at the ariport who nicely reschedulded my flight for free when I wasn't early enough.

To really see Irrational Exuberance there is only one way to do it, with these videos of Dave Murray playing air violin to tapes we discovered of 80s electronic music. Dave, you are my best friend, and the time we spend together each christmas carries me forward for the entire next year.

So for now, I'm in La Paz with a beautiful boat, perfect weather, my backpack, and three weeks to wait until my next crewmember joins for the trip north to the yard. I'm sure I'll find something to do. In the meantime..... email me! love, nic