January 15, 2007 GMT
Back To My Day Job Again

Monday:
Stuart: "What's wrong with this b****y outboard?"
Me: "It's a two-stroke."

Tuesday:
Stuart: "What's wrong with this b****y outboard?"
Me: "It's a two-stroke."

Wednesday:
Stuart: "What's wrong with this b****y outboard?"
Me: "It's a two-stroke."

.
.
.

Friday:
Stuart: "Wow aren't four-stroke aircooled outboards light and easy to start!"

All the work's been done. I've been up that 60-foot mast four times. Katya and Gustavas have made everything really tidy. The electrics and electronics all work more or less as they should (and it'll be my fault if they don't). All the leaks and broken bits have been fixed. Aransas is ready for anything.

You remember Santi, the Spanish chap who sorted me a bed for the night down south when I came back from Belize? Well, he was here in Canc¨n when we arrived, and came over to the island with his girlfriend for dinner with us. It was great to able to do a proper thank-you to someone who'd helped me out.

I'm not usually a great fish-eater, but I've been converted. First there was the stuffed flounder in Port Aransas, then the barbecued barracuda that Alan caught, then Santi came over on Saturday and took me for lunch - wonderful stuffed grouper on the beach.

So this morning "Aransas" sailed for Havana and I sailed to Canc¨n and got my new passport. And tomorrow I'm flying back to Port Aransas and The Old Dear. Santi's picking me up from the ferry to take me to the airport tomorrow lunchtime, Jeff is picking me up at Corpus Christi tomorrow evening, bless him, I'm getting my old room back at The Captain's Quarters, and Janie will be glad to get the space back in her lockup.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 10:09 PM GMT
January 18, 2007 GMT
World's Worst Airline

11:00 Isla Mujeres: Taxi to port.

12:15 Ferry to Canc˙n. 15 minutes late.

12:40 Arrive Gran Puerto.

13:20 Arrive airport and join check-in queue.

14:30 Check in and proceed directly to departure gate.

14:55 Surrender water bottle.

15:30 Take off 10 minutes late.

17:45 Arrive Houston. No food on plane. Airport has more defibrillators than loos.

Collect two checked bags, customs and immigration, surrender two bags for onward flight.

Have a bite to eat and buy more water.

Discover that I have to go through security again each time I want to go outside for a cig. This involves dumping toothpaste, water, and anything else remotely washkit-related. Remove shoes, fleece, laptop, phone . . .

16:45 Arrive at designated departure gate.

17:10 Discover flight now leaving from different departure gate several hundred yards away. No announcements or info, found out because a couple of other passengers were in same boat. Run.

17:20 Arrive new departure gate at scheduled take-off time. Flight delayed due to lack of captain and freezing rain.

21:20 Board plane.

Luckily sleeping bag in hand luggage as perishing cold. No water but get a glass. No food on plane.

00:00 Ring Jeff and tell him to go home. Continental at Corpus Christi tell him ETA 01:15, but he goes home anyway.

00:30 Captain arrives with paperwork.

01:00 Start taxiing around to join de-icing queue.

03:10 Leave de-icing queue because crew are out of working time under FAA rules.

03:30 Arrive at third departure gate, get off plane and get boarding pass for 07:30 flight.

All food/drink outlets closed until 06:00.

06:00 Coffee. Lots. Only food available is McDonalds or doughnuts. Not that hungry.

07:00 Board plane at fourth departure gate. Tool around airport for an hour to be de-iced.

08:35 Take off.

09:20 Arrive Corpus Christi. Hurrah.

One item of luggage missing, in common with around 10 other passengers. Can't imagine why, other than the four different departure gates involved at Houston. It's the tankbag, containing cameras, phone/iPod/camera chargers and sundry leads, bike docs, binoculars . . .

Jeff comes to the rescue and takes me for large plate of bacon, eggs and hash browns.

Noon Arrive at The Captain's Quarters to great welcome.

Take shower key back to harbourmaster (it's had a bit of a holiday).

Get missing bag back.

Get Shortied.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 10:12 PM GMT
January 28, 2007 GMT
The Truth is Out There

The temperature dipped down below 40F as I arrived yesterday, passing piles of snow at the side of the road. This morning the temperature dipped to 20F (that's -5C). So tomorrow on my way to Albuquerque I'll definitely be wearing the heated weskit. The usual winter climate in this region is described as mild. Yeah, right.
Pictures and maps are HERE.

There are strangenesses here. There is just one taxi in this moderate-sized town. There are no buses. There are alien eyes everywhere.

In fact, the longer I'm in the US the odder and more old-fashioned it seems. Apparently you have to pay extra to use text messaging on your mobile phone. I've had to buy my own Ethernet cable due to the scarcity of wifi and internet caffs. A brown sign at the side of the road says "Historical Marker" but without stopping you'll never find out to what it refers. Most bars only sell beer and wine. Campsites are miles from anywhere and have no loos or showers. Road number signs and speed limit signs are almost identical, causing occasional confusion. Having said that, speed limits are fairly liberal (so far - Texas and New Mexico) with 80mph on interstates and 70 on minor roads.

So I'm here finding out the Truth. Here is Roswell.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 10:14 PM GMT
January 31, 2007 GMT
Dodging Snow

After a not terribly interesting time in Roswell I went and stayed with Dan in Los Lunas, a few miles south of Albuquerque. It snowed. And New Mexico licensing laws are even more arcane than those of Texas.

On the way I passed Bingham, which consists of two emporia selling 'trinitite', which is a glassy substance to be found around ten miles to the south on the site of Trinity, where the first atomic bomb was detonated. It seemed fitting, as I'd passed through Hiroshima on my way here.

Today I passed the Very Large Array. This set of radio telescopes featured in the film 'Contact' and is involved in SETI - the search of extraterrestrial intelligence.

I was heading for Flagstaff, but after riding through the first of several snow flurries and stopping for a coffee at Quemado, the Sheriff advised me that a severe storm was on its way and to head south to Phoenix.

Before I'd even reached the Arizona state line the snow thickened. I turned back and made it to the motel in Quemado just before the snow started coming down heavily. Dunno how long I'll be here.

I didn't tell you about another character I met in Port Aransas. Ron lives on his boat there for six months every winter, and drives around town in his immaculate 1954 Bentley. It's gorgeous.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at 10:16 PM GMT
 
 

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