Sea Star 7

1998 Bayliner LeClercq


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2023 Epic Christmas

Where to begin this story?  Back in the spring, Pam and Mike put their Bellamar unit up for sale.  Its gorgeous.  At the time, Melissa told her brother Kelly about it, but he wasn’t ready to make a commitment, and the unit was contracted to be sold to Bill and Nikki who had been renting in a ground floor unit.  Then on October 22, Pam told us that the deal fell through.  Melissa messaged Kelly at 11:42am to let him know.  Two hours later he messaged back – he was interested!  As it happened, Melissa and Dave were having dinner with Pam and Mike that evening.  A last night out for Pam before she went in for extensive spinal surgery the next day.  Over dinner a deal was put together, and by 4pm the next day Melissa was able to send a message to the attorney writing up the deal on what the deal terms were to be.

In Mexico buying property can be a bit complex, and it took two months for the prior deal to get unwound so that Pam could sign a new buy / sell agreement with Kelly.  But ultimately, money was successfully placed in escrow on December 23.

The catch?  Kelly didn’t tell his wife or sons anything about it.  So the past two months have been spent in secret phone calls, emails, text messages to get the deal put together and then ultimately to concoct an elaborate scavenger hunt for Logan (Kelly’s son) and Nicole (his wife).

So when Kelly, Nicole, and Logan arrived last night there was a Christmas tree and a wrapped surf board for Logan.  Overnight, both disappeared and the only thing left was a grinch holding an envelope.  During the night, the Bellamar night watchman came in and moved Christmas to Pam's unit.  He was super excited to get to play the Grinch!

Here is what the note said:

That solves to (using a simple A=1 cypher):

Where a Grinch video sends us to “La Cabana” a local joint for breakfast where one of the staff brought us another envelope that contained:

This solves to “pool”.  And indeed, there was another clue in the pool back at Bellamar.  That's a dry bag attached to a dumbbell that Arturo had placed in the pool.

Logan’s giving us a bit of an eye roll at this point.

Logan got his swimsuit and hopped in.

The “dry bag” we had used didn’t stay dry.  And the clue was soaked and unreadable.  Fortunately, Melissa had made spare envelopes with each clue in case something along the way went sideways.  So the next puzzle was this:

Also in the envelope was this:

Nicole and Logan needed a few hints, but ultimately figured out the next clue must be with the Bellamar handyman, Irving (or, since it was a Sunday – in Irving’s “office” under the stairs).

That envelope contained this puzzle which solves to “CLOSET”.

Along with these two additional clues:

After running around looking in all the closets, Logan found the next envelope:

Nicole recognized this immediately – the logo for a beach surf board rental place.  Logan and Melissa headed down to see Ruby.  Yesterday, Melissa took their clue and gave it to Ruby’s husband, Zappo.  Melissa had briefed Ruby on the gane weeks ago.  But Zappo, not realizing the envelope was part of a game, opened it.  As we walked up Ruby was laughing, and it cracked us all up.

This envelope contained this puzzle.

Along with:

At this point we made a game day call to not allow them to phone Carson until they had solved the rest of the puzzles.

The picture clues ultimately lead to the unit.

And the stray numbers in red led to the lockbox code – minus one number.  Now its time to call Carson (Kelly’s second son).  When he answers, he gives a riddle “how big is the Grinche’s heart?”.  And the answer, if you know your Dr. Suess is “two sizes two small” which Nicole got right off the bat.  That gave us the key to the unit, and we made Nicole go in first.  In the video you can see that she is so stunned she is utterly without words.

A couple of bottles of pink champagne were chilling in the fridge and the champagne glasses were at the ready.

And, now, finally, Logan gets to open his surf board!

Nicole spent the next hour walking from room to room in a daze.  With us trailing along… yes all the furniture comes with it.  Yes, Kelly can afford it.  Yes, you can sleep here tonight if you want to.  All in all, an EPIC Christmas!

SS7 Gets a New Home

November 2

We are getting tired of the hassles of being at the marina in Portage Bay. It is a beautiful spot but we have had our car broken into, a window on the boat broken, a homeless person living on the beach, etc. After looking around, Dave reached out to BananaBelt Boats in Anacortes to see if they would be interested in storing our boat on the hard for the winter. Indeed, they are expanding and are happy to store the boat. 

This is a great option because the boat is more secure, cannot sink, gets checked on every Monday, is way cheaper and is in the middle of super good boat services. They will even fill the boat with fuel that is cheaper than on the water and way more convenient. So, we signed the contract and made plans to fly Dave up to Seattle to move Sea Star 7. 

November 4

Dave arrives on the boat. Does some provisioning the next day for departure on Monday. Our tent buddy seems to have abandoned his abode. 

November 6

Jim and Margaret came aboard to help Dave take SS7 through the locks. When arriving at the locks, they discovered that only the small locks were running because they were doing maintenance on the large locks. Then they discovered that the small locks had failed and nobody was going anywhere. So they tied up and waited. Seven hours later, they got it going and SS7 locked through. The delay spoiled any thought of going further, so they tied up at Shilshole for the night. Dinner was Jim’s famous burgers. 

November 7

Margaret had left the night before leaving the boys to take the boat up north. With the delay, Jim’s schedule is tight as they are leaving for Napa mid-week so making Anacortes is not in the cards. The winds are forecasted to be fairly strong on the way but they head out for Oak Harbor in glassy waters around 0700. 

The winds did pick up as they rounded Whidbey Island. They saw 30 knot gusts on the nose sending spray clean over the pilothouse on occasion. Arrival at Oak Harbor was a little tricky in the wind but they got her tied down around 1400. Margaret drove up and picked up Jim. It was windy at the dock. 

November 8

Dave departed Oak Harbor solo around 0930. The wind was perfect and blew him neatly off the dock. There were white caps again but not as windy as the day before. That was good because there were zillions of crab traps in the water requiring course deviations every minute or so. Seeing them in the waves the day before would have been super difficult. Headed up the Swinomish on a rising tide which always makes Dave feel better in those shallow waters. He arrived at BananaBelt’s dock around 1400 which turned out to be super narrow. It required three guys with fenders to help the boat in. It is so narrow that you cannot put out fenders on both sides.  


November 10

Getting ready to depart, Dave does laundry. He discovered the dryer had died. It probably is another casualty of the generator runaway this spring. So, the bridge turns into a drying room for the day. 


November 13

Dave flew home a couple days before. The boatyard moves and hauls the boat, putting her in her winter home. She will be there until June when we return from Italy. 




Wine and cheese fest that wasn't

We spent the weekend at Sagecliff resort, which used to be known as Cave B.  The winery Cave B is still here, but the resort was separated from the winery.  Years ago we visited here and loved it.  The view of the Gorge is like a painting.  This time we stayed in Cliffhouse 15 which is way off by itself.  Nice and quiet.  We came because of the wine and cheese festival they were advertising for the weekend.  We bought the $85/each tickets.  Then they sent an email saying if you wanted to be in on the activities on Friday it was going to be an additional $40/each.  Totally misleading.  We decided to skip the Friday night activities.  As it turns out, the $85 itself wasn’t well spent.  There was no cheese tasting, the food was mostly stuff we couldn’t eat, and we got about a glass and a half of wine each.  Watching the grape stomping did provide some entertainment.

Dinner at the Tendrils restaurant was good, and we did enjoy the wine tastings we did on the drive over from Montana.  Who knew that Quincy had such good wines at an inexpensive price?

Sunday, we drove back to the boat.  The whole trip seems somewhat surreal now that we are back.  We drove 4000 miles!  And the grill of the car has the bugs to prove it!

Missoula Yurt

We drove to Missoula MT and stayed in a Yurt.  Very cute.  We were on our own for dinner – so we made beef stroganoff and watched the new Top Gun movie.  Well, the first half anyway.  We’re getting old, and it seems we can only watch half a movie before falling asleep.


After breakfast with the ranch family, we headed off to Yellowstone.  We stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel – a historic hotel inside the park.  The drive across the whole of Yellowstone was interesting.  The whole eastern part of the park is burned up.  For miles all you can see is burned up trees.  It will be years till that part of the park recovers.  We saw some wildlife – a few buffalo and some Elk, but no bears.

In this area of the park, the earth bubbles up minerals that form a strange white thick crust.

There were lots of waterfalls.

And lots of geysers and bubbling mud pits.

Old faithful was a bit disappointing, though consistent with what we have heard about it being somewhat underwhelming.


We survived Lidia

We’ve been watching Lidia for days now, wondering where she will come ashore.  The staff has been madly prepping for the storm.  They rolled up the rugs, put towels under the sliding glass doors, and taped up the windows.

We lost power overnight, so we couldn’t watch the surf camera, nor communicate with the staff. The storm passed just South of us, a very narrow miss.  The hurricane came ashore as a Cat 4 storm, and Puerto Vallarta got hit hard.  But first thing this morning there were messages from the staff who got there early to inspect.  And we were lucky, only a few bits of minor damage.

Some missing roof tiles:

A few holes in the garage roof where the tiles went through:

A light fixture blown off the wall:

The staff busied themselves with cleanup and the place was ship shape in no time.

K3 Ranch

After picking up a new computer for Melissa on Amazon Prime Day, we headed for Cody WY.  We were supposed to visit the Buffalo Bill museum here.  But we were too worn out and decided to crash at the ranch we are staying at – K3 Ranch.  We are the last of the guests, they are locking up tomorrow for the winter.  So we had the whole building to ourselves, along with a great view of the mountains.  So we decided to just chill.  We went to 8th Street at the Ivy for dinner on the recommendation of the ranch owner.  They had gluten free pasta we can eat, so we ordered the meat sauce.  Yumo.

Melissa did go down to the barn to pet the goats.  They were all too happy to get some attention.

But the miniature horse was the real attention hog.  She insisted on being petted.  And if Melissa (god forbid!) visited with the other horse, she would butt in and nip and Melissa till she got more pets.

Mt. Rushmore

Today we visited Mt. Rushmore with Char and Dan.  Its impressive – the scale of it is so massive.  We wore our Mammoth Site sweatshirts.  We then departed for Buffalo WY where we had dinner with Daniel.  Being a Monday, almost all the restaurants were closed, so we ended up at a small Mexican joint.  We stayed at the Occidental Hotel.  Super cute place filled with antiques and history.


Today we toured all over South Decota. 

We had a picnic in the Custer State Park and drove all over looking at the wildlife.  They recently rounded up all 1500 of the park’s buffalo, so most of them were still in a group.

We went for a walk at Sylvan Lake.

We drove the Needles Highway, which has some incredible rock formations that are tall and skinny.

The highlight of the trip today was the Mammoth Site.  It was a big pit that the Mammoths fell into and drowned.  As a result, there are tons of Mammoth bones here.  They’ve preserved many of the bones in place and you can tour it.  It was surreal.  You felt like you were on a movie set and everything was made of plaster, but its still a working archeological site.

We were supposed to have dinner at Char’s favorite place, the Alpine Inn, but it was closed.  We went to the Ruby House instead.

Casper WY and Hill City SD

Yesterday we drove from Park City to Casper WY.  We had an early dinner at a steakhouse.  What else do you do in Wyoming.  Apparently, all they eat here is steak.  We stayed at the C’mon Inn.  Their claim to fame is a series of hot tubs and pools inside the hotel.  The hot tub was a disappointment.  You turn on the jets, and they stay on for 2 minutes, the you have to get back out and turn them on again.

We drove from Casper to Hill City, SD where Char and Dan live.  We finally got to see their new house.  Well, not exactly new since they have been here for two years.  Along the way Melissa got frustrated because there is no cell data, and in fact no cell coverage at all, except in cities.  Making it difficult to work.

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