Can we live here, (Part Two)?

As Catherine and I run all over the world we look at some places as somewhere we could live.  I talked about that earlier this year in the blog entry called, Can we live here?  In that blog entry I was reflecting on our week we spent in ST. Kitts back in January.  Well, we are at it again as we head to Loreto, Mexico.

A very good friend of ours, Kim, is there now and has been there since she retired in June.  She refers to it as the land of misfit toys.  I felt many people that have relocated to Utila, Honduras were also like that.  We enjoyed our week in Utica but for so many reasons we could not live there.

We presently use Atlanta as our home base since Delta has their hub there and as far as I am concerned they are the best Airline.  We also like ATL as a city.  They have quality health care and the people are friendly with many looking just like me.

At the end of each year I look at if we could live there.  Each year the financials show that staying in Marriott’s makes more sense.  Especially, now staying at the Renaissance near the airport.  It is more expensive than the Marriott Courtyard West, we had being staying at, the last three years, but you get what you pay for.

As we walk in the door everyone treats us like family.  The have an executive lounge and right on the sky train line.  With that we can delay picking up a car by a day and in some cases we can even drop the car off a day before our flight.  It all adds up and with another Marriott across the street we can use their pool and laundry facilities. 

The convention center is also right across the street and Catherine likes to be able to walk their huge parking lot on her own to get in her 10,000 steps.  It is also right down the road from our storage unit, UPS mail box and the Camp Creek shopping center.

Many expats have now made Loreto their home and Kim says that many say you will either love it or hate the city.  It is located on the Baja Peninsula.  The best way to get there from ATL is to go to LA first and then Alaska Airline several times a week.  That is a negative but we will keep an open mind.  We have not made a list of things required for us to settle in one place.  We will probably ease into it over the next few years.

Maybe a month here and a month there with an occasional visit to our motorhome  The list of places we want to visit is getting shorter and shorter.  We run into people all the time asking if we have been here or there.  Some give us ideas of where we might like to go.  More are talking about places I have never heard of.  That is not my cup of tea unless is going there.

I hope I have not set my hopes too high.  One  person’s cup of tea is another person’s gallon of Flint water.  Kim makes it sound wonderful and I do know that I will get to do something I have always wanted to do and that is going deep-sea fishing.  The thought of catching some fish and having someone clean and cook it for me is on my life, (bucket), list.

After a week in Mexico, we are off to Hawaii for a 5 island cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line.  Catherine does not particularly like the big cruise ships but we will be with our running buddies with This will be our 9th trip with them and have written about them many times.  You can read about one of my blogs called, How not to go overboard on a cruise ship.

I have decided that I prefer to write to this blog as we travel.  A previous blog called, this is a first, I waited until the trip was over until I wrote about that trip.  On the downside, I found that thoughts about the trip bounced around in my head for the entire 38-day trip.  I hate when that happens.  I prefer to put those thoughts down on paper so I can move on and enjoy what I am currently experiencing.

It was a nice change of pace and might try again later but right now I am writing this as we fly to LA for an overnight prior to our trip to Mexico tomorrow.  That is another thing I like so much about ATL.  You can be just anywhere in the world nonstop.  My oldest son, Aaron does live in San Diego which is nonstop from Loreto but not sure if he will stay there after he gets married to Kelsey in February of 2020.

With my Daughter, Mariah, who lives in Athens Ga so that chalks up another plus for Atlanta.  Since we mostly stay there 3 or 4 days at a time the numbers just don’t add up for us to call ATL home.  Time will tell as we wind down this running all over the world gig.

Right now we are off to stop number 360 in 1360 days.  Still on the pace of moving on every 3.777 days.  With airfare being our largest expense if we slow down the change of location then maybe we can keep at this longer.  I hate to drive so we basically fly everywhere we go. 

My mother traveled a lot after she retired until age 80.  She would visit her three kids for a few months at a time.  Each time back to her Condo in NY then off to the next kid.  She also had relatives in Florida and NC so you would say the travel is in my blood.  My dad traveled way into his 90’s but not at the same pace as my mom.  Being a retired Airline pilot makes travel for me more of a way of life for me.

The flight from LA to Loreto was easy enough with Alaska Airlines which operates Sunday and Thursday during the off-season.  Their high season is from October to May.  Then they have flights Thursday through Sunday, one a day.  I must admit it was hot as hell in Loreto but the complex we were staying in had a nice pool and the AC worked great.

Catherine is training for the half Ironman in New Orleans the end of October so the pool came in handy.  There were a mile and half stretch along the beach which was perfect for running so we got some great workouts in while there.  Since she is much faster than me I had her run to the end of the walkway along the beach while I walked/ran and turn around at the end of the pavement and meet up with me and I would then turn around and let her take a walk break before she ran to the other end.

A couple of days I had her do some open water swims while I timed her.  They had a gym nearby with all the equipment needed but we were not able to get in a spin class in due to scheduling conflicts.  I am sure we will get in some saddle time while on the cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.

They have a very robust expat community in Loreto and many would gather at Augie’s on the waterfront for 2 for 1 happy hour and complimentary appetizers.  On Wednesday thru Saturday, they would also meet at The Shade for darts and live music.

It was festival time, the week we were there, in honor of the Virgin of Loreto.  She travels around Mexico and comes visits Loreto at the main church in the square.  Each night it got more festive as the entire city came out on Saturday for the final free concerts of the week including rides and games for the entire family.

Cat with their beach side garbage can

I was able to get my open water fishing on and it was everything I could ask for.  The drive was only 30 minutes to catch the boat and what I caught on the boat we later ate that night at the Shade.  I can now check that off my life list.  The beer was also very cold and the breakfast and lunch on board were both outstanding.

We stopped at a beautiful overlook area on the way back to town.  We did pass some outrageous resorts and golf courses along the way.  Not sure deep-sea fishing is in my future or was it a one-time thing.  Time will tell since we probably go back next year for a month or more.  The following week they were hosting a Baja type off-road racing event which sounded like fun.  

They also have an open water swim event where they take you out 1,2 or 4 miles and have competitors swim back to shore in November.  They have a half marathon the next day.  I would like to see what the town looks like during the high season.  The prices for everything were so cheap while we were there so expect it would be higher then.

Overall Catherine and I had a great time and look forward to our return.  Many expats leave during the summer months so I am sure it will much nicer when it cools down in the fall and winter.  Catherine would agree that Loreto has made it to the we can live here list right next to St. Kitts and Amsterdam.

Something unexpected happened when we joined up with our running cruise cohorts during the Hawaiian Cruise.  That being that I believe one or more of the Islands might have made it to the can we live here list.  Catherine and I have been to Maui before where we did a Marathon in  2011.  

I use to fly into Honolulu during my days at UPS and had several days layovers there.  Catherine and I also did a half marathon on the Island of Kauai in 2016.  We really enjoyed our time there and Catherine got some nice dresses while there since Delta lost our bags for a week.

In 2015 we went to Kona to watch the Ironman competition.  They also, have a half Ironman in June so maybe we will come back in 2020 for Catherine to do that event.

Prior to 5 island cruise we met up with the group for a 3 night per cruise on the Island of Honolulu.   We stayed on Waikiki Beach which is the surf board Mecca and since a tropical storm payed a visit the day before we arrived so the surf was up.  Since I am not and never will be a surfer the beer was cold and the variety was plentiful.

The first day was somewhat of a wash out because of the storm with the closing of Pearl Harbor but as I always say you can’t do and see it all.  We did get to still make the treck up to the top of Diamond Head.

Cat and Linda at the very top of Diamond Head

We also did some touring by bus to some of the famous spots like the Hawaii Supreme Court where Hawaii 5-0 was filmed, the Kamehameha Statue and the Lolani Palace which is the only Palace in the US.

Of course we went to a Luau, at the Aquarium and went snorkeling and some got to play with the dolphins, if you want to call it that.  We finished up the pre cruise with a 5 K fun run that included a guided tour.  About every mile there was someone to go over the highlights of the area.  We finished up with shaved ice in the park.  After a quick shower we were off to the Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America, our home for 185 of us for the next 7 days.

Where they filmed Hawaii 5-0

We all had name tags with our home towns listed and for Catherine and I it was ( Here, There and Everywhere).  That is the only ship that does the 5 island tour with two overnights in Maui and Kauai.  It was a bit strange to be on a cruise ship where everyone was American’s.  Somewhat refreshing.  There were plenty of familiar faces amongst the group so we had plenty of time to catch up.

Their signature cruises are Alaska and the Caribbean but we have also done two river cruises and two land base trips with the group in Italy.  They are also going to launch a land base trip to Iceland next year and working on a new trip for 2020.

While I was on the cruise I was thinking maybe we could add one or two of the Islands on the, can we live here list, so I payed  close attention to each during the cruise.  I would probably not do the cruise again only because there are so many places yet to visit but the thought of staying on an island for awhile intrigued me.  

Just like Mexico my phone worked great and data was included in my rate plan with Verizon which was a plus.  However, unlike Mexico prices can be pricey for just about everything.  That is not a deal breaker but the shear distance from our kids did make it questionable.

The ship itself was nice enough but I tried my best not to compare it to Windstar and concentrated on the group and all the fun events planned for the week.  Each staged race winners were selected depending on the race itself.

The first race was a 5 K on the Island of Maui.  In this race, the female and male winners were selected by who could come closest to their predicted time without wearing a watch.  I was about 15 seconds off whereas the male finisher crossed the finish line within a second of his predicted time.

We had the next day off in Maui, where many of us went for a very informative hike in the nearby rainforest and swim in the chilly water underneath a waterfall.  The swim right underneath the waterfall was also on my life list and it felt like a great deep tissue massage.  It was well worth the freezing temperatures and some even jumped off the edge of a smaller waterfall.  Our guide even showed us all the things we could eat along the way.

Some complained about the location of the port which I found amusing.  Catherine and I are more like, will we go left or right off the ship, no matter where it is, for a run or walk.  In Maui, a great park was nearby and a very nice strip mall located right across the street.  That is why there is chocolate, vanilla, tutti-frutti and rocky road ice cream.  Different strokes for different folks.

Our next stop was my least favorite stop was Hilo.  Turns out it is the wettest side of the Island with Kona on the other side.  There we had the Amazing Race.  Groups of two, many dressed up had to find different locations in order on our way to the farmers market.  The winners were the first ones with pictures of themselves in front of each in the correct order.

Catherine and I just ran/walked to and from the farmers market for 9 miles and had her put in another 30 minutes in the cruise ship pool.  The free day she also did 80 minutes on the ship’s stationary bike.  I think she is ready for the half Ironman on the 21st of October.  I will know for sure when she completes the half marathon tomorrow.

That is how many spots we found

Team Tall Tony, love Linda and Greg’s hair

One group went all out with the Gilligan Island theme, The blow up professor went missing.

We had the honor and were extremely privileged to run a half marathon on the Iron Man course in Kona.  I had Catherine do it by herself since she needed the confidence to be able to do it on her own.  She beat me by 18 minutes and in all that heat and humidity that was a great training race for her.

Our last event was a hash harrier hike along the breathtaking coast in Kauai.  The winner was completely random with everyone getting a players card at the finish and the two that got, one male and one female getting the ace of spades were the winners.  On each of the race each winner got the coveted yellow hat.

Catherine and I already have several so winning another one was not a big deal for us.  On the last day we once again had a free day where many of us took an Island tour of Kauai.  It was kind of funny since we simply revisited areas that we had seen before in 2016.  Other took surfing lessons, went tubing and scuba diving.

This included, the Kilauea Point Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge Lookout, Hanalei Valley Overlook, Opeaka’s Falls and Wailua River Overlook.  Also some wild boars.

The cruise ended with an awards event where John, “The Penguin” Bingham, and Jenny, “The Coach”, Hadfield, gave out yellow hats and water bottles to the special few they had selected.  The call them the Perspiration, Dedication, Celebration and Inspiration awards.  The crowning moment for me was when Jenny called up Catherine for the Inspiration award.  Everyone in the room stood and cheered Catherine for her inspiration to others as she struggles and at the same time embraces the hand she was dealt with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

We then went out to the deck as we cruised along the Kauai, Napali Coast with its very dramatic coastline.  The night ended after dinner with the long goodbyes on the back deck bar.  We all have our own fond memories of the trip and with for Catherine and I it was decided that the Islands of Kona and Maui made it to the short list of, can we live here.  Maybe two weeks at each.

Love that smile

Back to LA for a few days to visit with my eldest son, Aaron and his Fiancé, Kelsey.  Fun time was had by all as we toured the Santa Monica Pier, Korea Town and the Hollywood walk of fame where we saw every single star.

While we were there we might as well give LA some consideration for if we could live there and it was a resounding NO.  Too expensive, but nice place to visit and a nice jumping off spot for visiting the west coast, Hawaii or Mexico.  I could not imagine being there for more than a overnight or 3 days max.

All said and done we did find some nice places to consider on this 23 day trip but now it is back to ATL for three days then off to Portland Maine to run another half marathon.  This will be Catherine’s 50th state where she has run at least a half marathon but that is not good enough for her. 

She has done a marathon in 45 states plus DC and a marathon in all 50 was her original goal.  I thought I had her convinced that the last 5 could be half marathons since I really don’t like to do full marathons any more.   Now she has decided to finish up the last 5 as full marathons.  I will work on the schedule for next year for her to get them done.

I will try to find races that do a two loop and I will do the half while she does the second loop herself.  My goal is to get 65 marathons done by 65 so I might finish the last state with her and kill two birds with one stone since I am 63 now.

After Portland we go to Puerto Vallarta Mexico where we will meet up with Catherine’s daughter, son in law and three grand kids.  Back to ATL and off again to New Orleans where Catherine will compete in a half Iron Man competition.  That is a 1.2 mile open water swim, 58 mile bike and then 13.1 mile run.  We did our last one together 7 years ago so this will be the first one that she will be doing without me.

She has been training for this event while we continue to run all over the world the last three months.  As her coach it it has been very interesting since during that time we have been to Amsterdam, Athens Greece, cruised the Greek Isles, visited Crete, Copenhagen, cruised Norway, Scotland, visited Edinburgh, Loreto, LA, Honolulu, and cruised the Hawaiian Islands.  This does not include numerous states along the way.  Some might say, including Catherine, that this has been a truly International training plan.

I feel she is ready so all she has to do now is stay healthy and do it.  Better her than me.  I must admit I will be a nervous wreck but it will be well worth it.  I have learned over the last 18 years of long distance racing that no matter how prepared you are the important thing is how you handle the unexpected.

Well this 23 day trip has provided us with 3 places we could live or at least visit for a month or more so now it is just a matter of when we might slow our schedule down enough to actually stay in one place for that long.  Early on we stayed in Tahiti for a month and 3 weeks in Kauai but besides that and a occasional 2 week cruise we have been moving on every 3-4 days.

I made a comment to Aaron about slowing down and he laughed and said, “you have been on the road as long as I have known you.”  He has good a point.   Even though I was a pilot, I worked mostly in the office but every weekend we were off to some soccer field, basketball court, concert hall, across the country to watch the three of them compete at the highest level possible.

You often hear of people dropping dead after they retire.  That would probably be me If I ever stayed put.  That does not sound very appealing to me and 2019 is shaping up to be more of the same.  I do have a big trip to South Africa planned and with a cruise on AMA Waterways, the Cape Town and Patagonia races with Marathon Tours we will be out of the US for about 2 months.  That is a bit longer than usual so that will really take some planning.

Well it is time to close this one out, put some final touches and publish this blog entry.  I probably won’t write another one until after Catherine’s race on the 21st of October but with me you never know.  I keep thinking about hanging up my pen but then I run into someone that tells me how much they enjoy our adventures and how they live vicariously thru us so you never know.


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