Great American Western Road Trip: Summer 2018

4 weeks, 3 kids, 1 van, 16 different lodgings, 5400+ miles, 12+ National or State Parks and Monuments adds up to 1 Epic Adventure.

American Southwest Family Vacation 2017

We followed historic Route 66 on our way to see the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, plus much more in New Mexico and Arizona.

End of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Here are our stories from two and a half years of living in Saudi Arabia while exploring the region.

Excursions to Oman

On two different trips, we strolled Muscat, hiked Wadi Shab, and sailed a dhow through the fjords of Musandam.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Friday, April 26, 1996

SEA April 26: North of Cuba, sailing for the Dry Tortugas

Morning and mid-watch. Beautiful day and beautiful night. Saw Cuba today. In fact for a while I was steering right for some mountains on the coast. I was not very comfortable with that and was thankful when Dave decided to tack. The moon and stars were incredible tonight -- as usual. Andrew went over some important stars and constellations...

Everyone keeps saying how hard it will be to leave and, yes, it will be hard to leave here. This is a dream I've had forever -- at least somewhere in my mind. And now it has been realized ... Fitting the dream into reality is what will be difficult...

I will miss this ship. I will miss looking 360 degrees around the horizon and seeing nothing but sky kissing water. I will miss the sound of the wind passing around the mainsail. I will miss the sound of the winches. I will miss setting the Genoa. I will miss swimming in the Gulf Stream. I will miss the stars. I will miss the sextants. I will miss Dave's quirky smile...

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Wednesday, April 24, 1996

SEA April 24: Rounding the eastern edge of Cuba

Dawn watch was incredible. The whole night seemed eerie and on my second round at bow watch I saw a huge green light streak down the sky (shooting star, meteorite) on our starboard bow, sparkling pieces trailing behind it....

I was lucky that I had my eyes and ears peeled because a lone dolphin began playing in our bow wave. I heard it first as it surfaced for air and then trailed it with the green bio-luminescence as it danced from starboard to port, deftly zigzagging, body surfing and then surfacing for air...

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Monday, April 22, 1996

SEA April 22: Yucatan Straits

It is becoming painfully clear how little time we have left on the boat. Dave discusses turnaround, Andrew prepares us for anchor, our latitude is getting to be a larger number . We are rounding Cuba, our CPA was 6nm. I saw the lighthouse flashing when I went up at 2130. We are making the tum now, 045, full and by.

Since our departure from Grand Cayman we've been sailing downwind in this Force 5, now we'll be pounding the waves close-hauled . We'll be beating -- beating our way home. This turn marks it -- our journey is ending. I don't think I'll sleep the rest of the time, there's too much savoring to do.

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Sunday, April 21, 1996

SEA April 21: South of Cuba, heading into the Yucatan Straits

The swells are getting larger, announcing our path toward the Yucatan Straits. Steering downwind like this is difficult.

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Saturday, April 20, 1996

SEA April 20: Alongside in Grand Cayman

I'm really beginning to hate port stops. I guess that's okay, because there are no more.

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Friday, April 19, 1996

SEA April 19: Little Cayman to Grand Cayman

Sunset. Greasy warmth slithers in wafts from the galley hatches. Sextants and people, both stern and intense, mill around on the quarterdeck. Guitar chords and inaudible words travel over the Caribbean Sea...

After a month at sea, I rarely notice the salt in the moist evening breeze ... At noon today I had helped to maneuver this ship over 2088.8 nm -- through green, reef stained water, over 4112 mile deep blue ocean and even onto Cayman Brae twice.

I know her, this ship, She speaks in creaking rhythms, rocks me in enchanting caresses and holds air in her sails for me to breathe. But she has also tossed me from my bunk, burned my hands with her hemp and frightened me with her height. I know her, but I do not know all of her. She mocks my mistakes, but forgives easily. She harbors knowledge that is not easily won.

I have finally met the ocean. I hear her bubble against the hull-- singing a lullaby as I drift to sleep. To me she has meant freedom and confinement. She has buoyed me up and she has nearly drown me. I have longed for her on land, but cried to her for safe harbor. To me she has meant Beauty -- colors, smells, reflections, waves and, though rarely, I have hated her. But she forgives me.

I knew the shore, but I have now met the ocean...

First JWO today. We sailed out of Little Cayman under a single reefed main, mainstay sail, forestay sail and later the jib. We quickly struck the forestay sail and set the course. I called everything .... In Rum Cay I got to watch the process -- the sails going up, the boat turning, speed increasing and roll returning. this time I made it happen. It was, as it always is, beautiful...

I can only hope that when I go home people can be patient with me. I want to be able to explain the beauty of what we did today, the wonder of watching the stars cross the sky, the accomplishment of a great sun line, the excitement of a good furl or the simple happiness that a short dip in the ocean can give. I have been made a slave to beauty and wonder.

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Thursday, April 18, 1996

SEA April 18: At anchor, Little Cayman

Trying to find Cayman Brae was hard. We're not using the GPS so reliable fixes are often hard to calculate. We finally sent someone to the top of the mainmast to see if they could find land on the horizon. The shouts through the ship -- the relief at finding land -- the elation and accomplishment that we had done it celestially -- the feeling is inexplicable.

The sunset that night (April 16) was incredible. I finally got to see that green Flash (glow) everyone talks about. Just as the sun kissed the horizon Dave had me mark time and we worked out a celestial LOP based on 0 degree sight. I thought that was awesome ...

Yesterday was also eventful, but not in such a good way. At about 0900 we had general quarters to bring Westward alongside to clear customs ... It was apparent right away that the whole situation was sketchy ... A customs man boarded and sprayed below decks for some Venezuelan bug and to top it all off Westward hit bottom twice. The situation was really tense for about 15-20 min while immigration finished up. Rick had to keep his hands on the throttle while Kevin gave commands and everyone tended buoys ...

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Wednesday, April 10, 1996

SEA April 10: Hogsty Reef, Bahamas

Hogsty Reef...It's located between Acklin/Crooked Island and Great Inagua and it's the only volcanic atoll in the Atlantic. Two grounded ships mark the outer barriers. It was visible on the horizon at about 1400... I felt like I was in a movie-- the deserted island in the middle of nowhere.

We took the zodiac over and explored the island before snorkeling ... Conch were everywhere, I had two in less than 3 minutes of hunting. But as we were leaving the greatest excitement erupted—Shark! Gweneth saw a 4-6 ft black tipped reef shark. This sent everyone scurrying for the shore and the zodiac ...

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Saturday, April 06, 1996

SEA April 6: In port at Rum Cay, Bahamas

I can't even imagine right now getting off this boat. The rest of my life is so foreign to me...

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Wednesday, April 03, 1996

SEA April 3: Somewhere in northern Bahamian Waters

Dawn Watch. When I stood bow watch, the moon and the clouds were playing games -- making moon rays and shadows on the water. As I watched the light change from a cool gray-blue to an eerie yellow, I realized that I am on the greatest adventure of my life. I am experiencing the truly unique ...

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