Monday, November 30, 2015

Antipodes Adventure - The end of a journey!

What an amazing adventure!  The Sysol family have just returned to our home, San Diego, after a 2 year cruise on our mini-ship Antipodes.  Our adventure took us from mainland Mexico to Southeast Alaska and many beautiful places in between.  Both Adam and I have previously blogged about this trip but life and lack of internet got in the way and posts were few and far in between.  This will serve as the final, and long, post about our trip.

This is a picture heavy blog and you can see full size versions of any shot by clicking on them. Trust me, most of the photos are worth viewing full screen as the places we visited were just breathtaking while the animals encountered were amazing.

I've posted many pictures of our trip in prior blog posts as well as Facebook, I'll repeat many of my personal favorites from the last two years, I hope you enjoy.

Leg one - Mexico

The first year of our trip was, in hindsight, the most pure fun of the two years.  We made many friendships, cruised extensively with other boats with kids and generally had more play time during this leg of the trip.  Much of this was due to the warm waters, hot days and access to beaches, surf and sand.

Adam had many friends and days were filled with activities including hiking, swimming, water sports and fishing. We also visited many small Mexican towns and cities, traveled to remote islands and into Copper Canyon, which is a must see in our opinion.

Some of our favorites regarding mexico included:

Friends - we made many but most noteworthy were the crews of Sand Dollar, Appa and Sea Otter.

Fun - Lots of opportunities for play in Mexico!

Wildlife - Animals galore, especially in the Sea of Cortez.

Fishing - No problem keeping the family fed here.

Culture - Mexican culture, from markets to central squares to cathedrals made this a great place to visit.

People - Last but not least were the people of Mexico, friendly and kind, love kids and tolerated our poor Spanish skills!

We really wanted to return to Mexico for this current winter but decided that we should settle back into life for a while and get Adam back to his friends.

Leg two - The in-between

Our original plan was to cruise from Mexico to Central America, through the Panama Canal and up the East Coast in 2015 and finish up in the Caribbean.  These plans were dashed due to a couple of reasons, first, we were having too much fun in Mexico and missed our window to head south.  Hurricanes are a problem in Mexico and we did not want to put ourselves in peril.  Family issues also crept into the story and we decided to give up the plan to head south and, instead, headed north to San Francisco.  We spent the winter there and then headed up the rest of the Pacific Coast to the Pacific Northwest.

But what a detour!  We had the pleasure of visiting many fantastic places as we headed north including Catalina Island, the Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Alcatraz, Pinnacles National Park, Muir Woods, the Oregon Coast, Olympic National Park, Mount St. Helens as well as long stays in both the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

Some of my favorites were:

The Channel Islands - From Catalina to Santa Cruz, we have some pretty nice islands here in Southern California.  Great hiking, beautiful water and good fishing.

The Pacific Coast - From San Diego to Neah Bay, this is one long and scenic coast. We got to visit many old haunts in San Diego, fish for tuna with the old crew and visit some of the most iconic places along the coast.

The National Parks and Monuments - we visited 5 national parks and 2 national monuments over the 6 months we cruised this area.  Cannot even pick a favorite!

The San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands - peaceful beauty everywhere! Loved the wildlife, small towns and museums. Buschart Gardens remains one of our favorite spots!

The Seattle Area - we absolutely love Seattle and it didn't hurt that we also have some good friends there to visit.  We also took time out to attend Allie's college graduation!

Leg three - Alaska and Canada

Finally, the last leg of our trip took us from the Seattle area to Southeast Alaska and points in between.  As I mentioned, Mexico was the fun part of our two year trip, while we had plenty of fun on this leg, it was overshadowed by the spectacular beauty that we encountered along the way.

We were fortunate to hook up with another boat, Worknot, for this leg of the journey.  What started out as a convenience and safety choice to travel together turned into a great friendship with Gale and Mary Plummer.  We could not have imagined a more enjoyable cruise with these two good friends as well as my new favorite dog, Kela!  We were sorry to see them leave for their continued cruising, again to Mexico.  Wishing we could have followed.

Some of our favorites on this leg included the following:

Vistas - it's hard to put in words or show in pictures the vast expanses we saw on this leg.  Beauty everywhere and the rain forest views were appreciated coming from dry California.

Glaciers - We visited two different areas for glacier viewing, each was spectacular in their own way. Tracy Arm was a fiord that terminated at two different glaciers.  As this was our first experience with ice, we were rather cautious making our way through the bergies.  Glacier Bay was enormous and gave us a look into the life of a glacier valley.  The glaciers have been retreating since the mid 1700's and you can see how this impacts the world around them.  

However, all that said, the most impressive sights and sounds came when the glacier calved, or dropped ice into the water.  Just amazing!

If the sights were impressive, the wildlife was even more so.  Our favorites were the whales.  Mostly Humpbacks up here but we did see some Killer Whales as well, mainly in Canada.  Breeches were common and we captured many as they jumped around our boat.  Scary but impressive!

Oh, and the rest of the wild life was just as fantastic.  Bears, eagles, otters, dolphin, seals and more were literally everywhere we went.  

Once again, the fishing was excellent.  So good that we had to buy and install a new chest freezer on Antipodes.  We filled it nearly full with Salmon, Crab, Halibut, Lingcod and Rockfish.  Most delicious and nothing genetically altered!

As you may know, one of my favorite photography subjects are waterfalls.  Alaska and Canada had no shortages and we enjoyed many wet hikes to these places!

Oh the places we've seen!  We absolutely loved Alaska and Canada, in part due to the wonderful small towns we visited along the way.  Many interesting ports, free docks, tourist traps, fishing lodges and people met along the way.

Well, it's over.  We feel very fortunate that we had this opportunity to take time off from work, friends and land life to launch this adventure.  It was all we hoped it would be with doses of real life thrown in to make it interesting. 

Adam will be happy to be home, the past year was not as exciting for him.  However, we had many good adventures and his homeschooling was productive, we feel he has grown throughout this experience, not only in stature but in character.

Nancy and I will be looking forward to seeing our friends, getting back into shape and going back to work in 2016.

The next adventure awaits!

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