Whirlwind: 6 Airports and 2 Countries in 3 Weeks

While Kirk stayed home aboard Due West in Barra, working on boat projects, holding down the fort, and feeding and playing with Tosh & Tikka… Heidi trekked to the US, first for a functional medicine conference and then to visit family. Packing for potential weather extremes ranging from 95° in Texas to freezing temperatures and snow in Utah, to everything in between, required the skills of a Tetris Queen. Luckily Heidi is one! LOL (With big THANKS to her step-dad Pete, who taught her how to pack cars).

Heidi’s functional medicine school was holding a conference/retreat outside of Austin, Texas in early April. So she took advantage of this trip to the US to also visit several family and friends while there, as well as stock up on boat parts and other much needed items that are hard or impossible to find in Mexico (like Trader Joe’s seasonings!) 

PVR crowded airport

She started the trek with a 4-hour drive from Barra to Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to much improved new pavement along the way, we were able to shave almost an hour off the drive. No more hidden pot-holes in the shade of a tree, or sections of one-lane gravel road. We’d never seen PVR (airport #1) THAT crowded—and even arriving three hours early, Heidi had to RUN to catch her flight to San Diego.

Heidi & Edit

At SAN (airport #2), Heidi was met by her functional medicine BFF/colleague, Edit (“Ah-deet”). So fun to finally meet in person, after two years of phone calls and Zooms. They are both on staff at the School of Applied Functional Medicine, and they would fly on to Austin and be roommates for their retreat in two days. While Edit had to work the next day, Heidi was able to grab healthy snacks at Sprouts (another thing we miss besides Trader Joe’s!) and visit with our cruising buddy Nicole, on s/v Maison de Sante. Click all small image

San Diego greeted Heidi with a very Seattle-like day, gray, rain, and on the chilly side for someone coming from Mexico! But Nicole’s smile warmed her heart. And thankfully Heidi still has her stash of warm winter clothing on board, just for visits to the US!

We have spent several years cruising Mexico (and being Covid quarantined with) Nicole and Keenan on Maison de Sante, and their dog Jack. They are now back in San Diego for a refit and we hope to see them back in Mexico again soon. Heidi had also planned to meet up with our dear friends John & Carol, but they were under the weather that day, and Heidi did not want to risk catching anything or spreading it to others. So sorry to have missed seeing them and their new condo this time. 

Edit and Heidi

From San Diego, Edit and Heidi flew on to Austin (airport #3, AUS), where they met up with several other colleagues/classmates for the bus trip to their Functional Medicine retreat/conference through the beautiful Texas Hill Country, bluebonnets in bloom! Heidi’s dad Verne would have loved to know she was in his old childhood stomping grounds. “Hook’em Horns!” 🤘🏼

Texas blue bonnets

Since the School of Applied Functional Medicine is a virtual school (including students from 57 countries around the globe), even though Heidi is on the staff, she had never met any of her colleagues in person, only via Zoom. What a treat to finally put human bodies to Zoom faces! “The Spring Gathering” retreat/conference was like summer camp for adults, with lectures and meals outdoors under the trees (and included 5 CMEs [continuing medical education] for the medical professionals too!) 

If you’re wondering “WHAT exactly is functional medicine?” Functional medicine is not health care, it is LIFE care. It looks upstream and downstream from any Dis-Ease in the body to help clients discover the true root causes of their wellness issues—using science, lab data, dietary and lifestyle modifications—and reverse their health concerns. Food IS Medicine. Sleep IS the cornerstone of all wellness (your body only repairs itself while you sleep). And EVERYONE needs to chew their food more. (Hint: it should be the consistency of baby food before you swallow.) Food for thought: Humans are the ONLY animal that doesn’t sleep when they are tired. Are your dogs or cats sleeping right now? Take a page out of their playbook… and take a nap!

Meeting online friends in person for the first time; lovely outdoor spaces and hikes with awesome quotes along the path; lots of treats in our registration swag bag; Edit, posing in our little cabin… and big thanks to SAFM colleagues for several of these photos!

The Spring Gathering started each day with meditation and yoga, then several hours of functional medicine lectures, followed by afternoon yoga, hiking, kayaking, water sports in the lake, or massages, then more functional medicine lectures. Each day was peppered with delicious healthy meals and evening fire circles, including functional medicine discussion topics and pop quizzes around the campfire… oh, and lots of dark chocolate being shared too! Most fun retreat/conference ever! Heidi definitely plans to go back again next year. 

Liz and Heidi

All too soon The Spring Gathering was over, and Heidi‘s BFF Liz was there to pick her up for a several-day visit. We first met Liz in Puerto Vallarta when she used to live there, and she, Heidi, and Kirk all became fast friends. But last year Liz returned to Texas, so it was a great opportunity to visit Liz and meet her new partner Jeremy. 

Heidi and Liz also spent an afternoon meeting up with our old Elliott Bay Marina dock neighbors from Seattle, Kathy & Terry, who randomly live in the same small Texas town as Liz! In 1996 when we set sail for Hawaii in the Vic Maui race, Kathy & Terry set sail from Seattle to Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and closed out their cruising days on the Gulf Coast of Texas. We have kept in touch ever since via social media but had not seen them since. Such a fun reunion and nice to introduce them to Liz too. 

Kathy, Liz, Heidi, Terry

As only a BFF would do, Liz graciously volunteered to drive Heidi 90-min to the San Antonio airport (SAT airport #4) at 5 AM, and Heidi headed north to Salt Lake City (SLC airport #5) and much colder temperatures. 

The trip to Salt Lake City included visits with Heidi’s brother David, her stepmom Willa, her cousins Erik & Nan, and their family… And she also helped her high school BFF Nancy with a few days of housesitting, and dog, and cat sitting, until Nancy and her family returned home from their spring break. A win-win! 

David and Heidi had a lot of family business to take care of after their dad Verne’s passing in November. One day they took Willa to the Red Butte Gardens’ special Bonsai Exhibit, which she really enjoyed. And they were also able to select Verne’s memorial bench and the bench site. 

Willa loved her chocolate milkshakes and really enjoyed the Bonsai Tree exhibit; High School BFFs Heidi & Nancy had a great time catching up. Watching Nancy (a world-class climber who climbed Everest in 2001) at the climbing gym was SO inspiring. Heidi & David on “Dad’s Bench” (Paul and Darcy you were missed!)

Heidi stayed a few more nights with her cousins Erik & Nan and family, which is always a barrel of laughs! Erik, a genetics professor at University of Utah, is like an older brother to Heidi, having lived with her family during the summers when they were growing up. And when Heidi was at the University of Washington, Erik was also there getting his postdoc in genetics, and Heidi, Nan & Erik all lived in the same apartment complex. Fun times! 

Hanging out with Erik & Nan and family, Heidi’s crazy-FUN cousins: Per (far left) & Inaki (far right), Lori & Soren, Heidi, Erik, and Pluto the dog.

Dinner conversations with this family are always uproariously funny, with sidesplitting aches, and tears streaming down faces. Even when the world seems upside down, these favorite cousins find humor in life! Such great lessons to live by. And Heidi was grateful for their hospitality.

After a week in Salt Lake and in the midst of a blizzard, it was time to fly to Tucson, (airport #6, TUS), for a short family visit. Flying is a great reminder the sun is ALWAYS shining above the clouds! Thankfully, Heidi was able to take a small suitcase and leave two big suitcases full of boat parts, vitamins, supplements, cat accouterments, and other miscellaneous items, at Nan & Erik’s house until her return a few days later. 

Lovely spring blooms at the Tucson botanical garden, and a super-cool bee hive sculpture.

Heidi had not seen her mom Jean for a year. And at almost 86 years old Jean looked fantastic! So Heidi and Jean spent one afternoon at the Tucson botanical gardens, and another day had a wonderful lunch at the Tucson Art Museum. Check out the vibrant, colorful, quirky paintings in the cafe! Heidi and Jean also lunched with another boating friend of ours, Pamela, who had been another dock neighbor in Seattle. Pamela had left the gray and rain of Seattle behind for the sunny southwest.

The few-day visit flew by so fast. And soon was time to head back to SLC for 24 hours before returning to PVR, Kirk, cats, and Due West. Thankfully, by the time Heidi returned to Salt Lake the snow had melted. She got in one last visit with Willa, another family business errand with David, and one more family dinner with Erik & Nan, and family, before Nan took her to the airport early the next morning. 

Meanwhile back at Hacienda Due West, Kirk was up to his armpits in alligators, including epoxying our jerry can boards, replacing a solar panel, and fixing a malfunctioning bilge pump/float switch that seemed like it was letting more water in than out for a minute there! The spaghetti mass of long wires are necessary because the bilge pump sits about 3′ below floor level. Kirk was hopeful the bilge pump project would wrap up in time for him to drive up and meet Heidi at the PVR airport… but sadly the bilge pump gods had other plans. It took him an extra day of re-wiring and rework… as boat projects oh-so-typically go! 

So grateful for our friends Judy and Paul in Puerto Vallarta, who met Heidi at the airport, and let her hang out at their condo until Kirk arrived the following day. Heidi arrived the day before Easter. Semana Santa week is the biggest holiday in Mexico each year, and it had basically been put on hold for the past two years due to Covid. So this year Mexicans were flocking to the beach in droves! Kirk arrived on Easter Sunday, and we stayed in PV for a couple of days to run errands (Easter Monday is a holiday in Mexico, as it is in many parts of the world). After breakfast at our friend Javier’s La Tostadaria we securred our marina reservations to return to Banderas Bay for hurricane season. 

After three weeks away Heidi was so excited to sleep in her own bed again, with her own pillow and dos Gatos Del Mar, Tosh & Tikka! All in all a fun-filled if whirlwind trip… Heidi’s batteries have been recharged by our family and friends. And our family and friends are really the only things we miss living in Mexico (oh, and Trader Joe’s and Sprouts!) We are also grateful to fellow cruisers Elinore & John on s/v Nakamal, Alex & Christina from s/v Blue Wind, and Maurisa and Josea from s/v Arrow for cat-sitting while we were away—it takes a village to pet-sit!

It’s often hard to get your work done when Tosh wants to fetch, he’s like an incessant dog with a stick, or he wants to be “helping” you with whatever you are working on! Tikka on the other hand is usually napping (see comment above on napping…) reminding us to do the same!

We’re looking forward to another summer in Puerto Vallarta, and re-connecting with friends there. And we hope to be more protected from any potential hurricanes—or better yet, hope for NO hurricanes this year. Though it’s only about a 24-hour sail between Barra and PV, we plan to go slow and spend a couple of weeks, gunk-holing (anchoring out in small bays and coves) and snorkeling our way up the Costalegre coast.

Our gunk-holing stops will be dictated by Wifi availability (cell towers), so Heidi can continue her work as a Functional Wellness Coach, and for the School of Applied Functional Medicine, where she leads three different student groups each week in round-table discussions on all things functional medicine related. She has also recently been doing some graphic design projects for them as well. 

But before we set sail, a few more projects need to get done first—like cleaning the Honda 2000i generator carburetor, replacing the outboard emergency kill switch, plus fixing the outboard carburetor leak (good thing Kirk is the “outboard whisperer” and knows just what to do!) We also just pumped 15 gallons of antifreeze out of the hydronic furnace system—it kept us very warm in the Pacific NorthWET, but thankfully we no longer need it here in Mexico—which took 150 lbs off the boat! And we still need to mount the fuel jug boards (seen above) to the stations and lash the spare fuel jugs to them, wash and re-stow the sunshade, test our cockpit shower, navigation systems, anchor windlass, autopilot, and a few other systems to be sure all is in working order.

Kirk used his trusty Makita drill as the power for a drill pump, and re-purposed our old garden hose, to pump the antifreeze out of our hydronic heater system; After one last trip to Manzanillo, our larders are full!

Oh, and we need to test how the cellular modem runs on inverter/solar panel energy rather than shore power… to ensure Heidi can get her work done! And then there is the last-minute stowing of everything inside the boat. So with all the commotion and parts of the boat torn up, Tosh and Tikka know something’s up. And Tikka has taken to hanging out in the aft cabin, buried under anything she can hide under. But Tosh is all about helping his dad with any project, big or small!

Stay tuned for more adventures from the Costalegre coast coming your way soon… on a mission to find the BEST paletas around (fresh fruit popsicles—these are coconut milk with fresh coconut chunks!)


  1. Robert - Sharon Jangaard on May 1, 2022 at 11:03 pm

    Heidi, What a great trip you took…functional medicine Yes yes yes Its the way to go.

    Kirk, you are look’n good.your life style is keep/n you limber.

    Spring is here…..gardening , hikes and golf…..love.n it

    much love and hugs, R & S

    • admin-heidi on May 1, 2022 at 11:54 pm

      Robert, you were really our first introduction to “Functional Medicine” at your Naturopathy clinic all those years ago! We are forever grateful for all of your wisdom and your and Sharon’s friendship over the years. xo

  2. Judy & Paul on May 2, 2022 at 12:48 am

    Loved reading the stories & seeing the pictures of Heidi’s whirlwind trip! So glad we caught you at the tail end of your journey for a few days! Have a great sail back!

  3. Devon on May 2, 2022 at 7:23 am

    Lookin’ good guys! Love and miss you!
    D xoxo

  4. Jackie on May 2, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Wow what a great adventure Heidi. Its always really great to touch bases with those you love. Sounds like a very productive working/visiting/vacationing time. Bet you Kirk and the kids were very happy to have you back home. As I’m sure you were too. Happy sailing and hope to see you guys again somewhere in Mexico.

  5. Lisa Diel on May 2, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Heidi and KIrk!!
    So nice to see all the fun you are having 🙂 I talked with John Ryan last night and he told me about Fabi. I would love to hear your experiences with that. It must have been good because you went back for a second round!!
    Lots of love to you both. I’m looking forward to seeing you when you are back in PV!

  6. Jim+Olney on May 2, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    I love following your news and adventures! Thanks you two! Jim

  7. Joan Wilson on January 1, 2023 at 4:00 am

    I love reading about all your adventures and many times wishing I could just wiggle my nose and be there. Where are you now? I am planning a trip to Puerta Vallarta and would absolutely love to visit you too. I will be there 2/18/23 for a week to 10 days. I would be so delighted to hear all about Heidi’s functional medicine Studies. That is so down my alley as I have IBS and constantly doing research to figure out new ways of eating etc.
    So…..let me know if it will be possible to see you where ever you are!! I will drive, walk, fly to make this happen.


    • admin-heidi on January 1, 2023 at 10:19 pm

      Wahoo!! Joanie we will look SO forward to seeing you when you arrive! xo

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