Dear Avocet, We’re Coming For You!

Posted:  January 18, 2024
In:  Blog | Haul Out
👁 876   12
Hushaw Neely family

Our house

I sat on the living room floor, surrounded by green bins that contained my entire life. It felt strange, considering that just days earlier, we had hosted a housewarming party that doubled as a bon voyage party – a party that brought our family together to celebrate the strange but exciting dichotomy. We had only been living in our new home, nicknamed Runaground Ranch, for a month, so one might think it would be as simple as packing up and locking the doors until our return next hurricane season. But, of course, we had become more attached to the land than we had realized.

After a few days of packing, cleaning, and guiding our tenant (a good friend) through the ins and outs of our modest mountain home, we handed over the keys. Before we knew it, Runaground Ranch and the snow dusted Western Sierra faded into the rearview mirror of our rental car – we were finally Mexico bound.

Mi Tio, El Jefe

Contrary to popular belief, I can drive. However, I usually prefer the passenger seat, taking a cue from my grandpa’s playbook and living by the joking motto “why drive when you can be chauffeured?” I take my role as a passenger princess seriously, providing comedic relief, delivering horrible karaoke renditions of great songs, mapping out snack stops, and, of course, offering to drive even though I know I’ll be declined. So, knowing I would be the passenger for the long haul, I made myself comfortable.

Packing for Mexico

All of our stuff…

After 10 hours in the car with only two gas and pee stops, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. There, we unpacked our rental car and loaded everything into my Uncle Geoff’s Nissan Xterra where thankfully, everything (barely) fit. “It’s so good to see you!” he exclaimed as we drove out of Phoenix towards Chandler, where he lived. It had been nearly two decades since I had last visited his house, where my three cousins – Bre, Cole, and Matthew – were raised and about 13 years since we had all seen each other in general. Chris quickly learned how similar Geoff (whom we affectionately call Jefe, his surfing nickname) was to my dad, which is not surprising since Jefe is his big brother.

That night, we settled into Bre’s old room. Cleo was glad to be out of her carrier and cuddled up at the end of the bed without hesitation. She hadn’t uttered a single” meow” all day in the car, and we were very proud of her ability to travel so easily. Once unpacked for the night, we enjoyed delicious deep-dish pizza and visited with my cousin Cole and Jefe’s partner, Maria. We relished chatting about all the places in Mexico that we had visited, and it was heartening to discover that Jefe and Maria had been to some of those places too, fueling our excitement to return. After a long day of travel, we retired fairly early that night – after all, the real journey awaited us the following day.

Over the Border and Through the Desert to Puerto Penasco We Go

Uncle Jeff driving us to Mexico

Cleo snuggled up

“I got us some bagels this morning,” Jefe said, pointing to a box filled with different bagels alongside an array of spreads. With a cup of coffee in hand, I sat at the table and continued to chat with my Uncle while Chris efficiently packed our things back into the car. Matthew, my youngest cousin, woke up to say hello and to see us off. After some hugs and the promise not to let another 13 years slip by without a visit, we hit the road and headed south towards Lukeville, where we would cross the border.

In early December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that the port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona – the most convenient crossing point for Puerto Peñasco – would be closed indefinitely, with agents reassigned to process the influx of migrants. Lukeville and Sonoyta, the town on the other side, took the opportunity to repave the road, potentially prolonging the closure even if CBP reopened it. Fortunately, the Lukeville border had reopened just a few days before our arrival.

It was a two-hour car ride from Chandler, Arizona, to the border, a route Jefe knew well since he and Maria frequently drove to Puerto Peñasco for vacations and visits with Maria’s family. Chris and I were incredibly grateful that he was willing and able to drive us, making our transit less stressful. We chatted the whole drive about Jefe’s job as an addiction counselor, boat life, our plans, his plans, my cousins, and more. However, there wasn’t enough time in the world to cover all the things we had missed in each other’s lives over the past 13 years. Once we made it across the border without any issues, we once again promised not to let time slip by so easily.

Right on the other side of the wall, Peter was waiting for us with his big white sprinter van that we loaded all of our belongings into it. Although we still had another hour of driving before we would be reunited with Avocet, we already felt the weight of the world lift from our shoulders. The hard part was over, and once we were back on our boat we knew that the rest would fall into place, just like it always does. But more on that in the next blog 🙂

I missed you all. Thank you for being here. Sending love and fair winds!

Marissa (and Chris and Cleo)


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1 Comment

  1. Joe Miller

    Thinking of you all while we freeze here in the Bay Area!


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