Friday, February 29, 2008

Routine Re-Established

After the dust storms and general travel through Mexico, our little home on wheels needed some attention! I sent Jim off on a variety of errands, put on a Dierks Bently CD and went to work. Several hours went by and I'd only cleaned from the front windshield about a third of the way back to the kitchen area. I'm deep cleaning, which really needed to be done. I took a break for an important phone conversation with my good friend, Karon. She's in Rockport, Texas, and I'm trying to talk her and her DH into firing up their home on wheels and heading out this way. We'll see.

Jim got home before all the vacuuming was done, so I still have some left to do. But I made great progress. Once he came home I switched gears and started on the pile of laundry. That's also going to be a 2-day job. I did get the comforter and quilt washed and dried, as well as a big load of towels and the dogs' bedding. But we still have about 4 loads of clothes to wash tomorrow.

Then it was time for a walk in the desert. Things are really getting green here, but we're not seeing much in the way of blooms yet. We're hoping to see some flowers while we're here.

Sandra and Gordon are across the golf course from us, and they'd invited us for dinner. We enjoyed a very good chicken, rice and broccoli meal with fruit for dessert. We had a great visit, getting caught up on the travel adventures in Mexico and all the important things full timers talk about, like how happy we are that we're retired!
On our desert walk, I got this picture of Jim near a tall Saguaro.
Behind our rig is a Saguro that is frequented by Gila Woodpeckers. This one was quite vocal when I stepped outside the rig today.

Here's a nice view of our site from the back of the clubhouse.

I hope tomorrow is about the same as today!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Tucson Once Again

This was a long travel day that started in Kino Bay RV Park, Bahia Kino, Mexico at 6:45 a.m. Eight hours later, we were set up back at Doc Justin's Diamond J RV Park in Tucson, Arizona.

We traveled alone today, since the others in our little group were heading back to the south to visit Alamos. The trip started just at sunrise, and of course, we were traveling directly east into the sun. With the narrow road, blowing dust and smoke in the air, it was a pretty interesting ride from Bahia Kino to the city of Hermosillo. As we approached Hermosillo, we caught a glimpse of a construction-type sign, indicating Nogales to the left. Since we'd gotten off track and confused by a detour through Hermosillo on the way to Bahia Kino, we were not 100% sure of how we would get around the detour on the way back.

Hermosillo is the capital of Sonora and it is a very busy city. There isn't a real bypass around it, but I thought I had it pretty well figured out what streets to take to get back to the main highway going north to Nogales and the border. However, when we saw that construction sign, we lost all logic and just turned left, even though it wasn't the street I'd planned for us to take.

I had Microsoft Streets & Trips running with the GPS receiver, even though the program doesn't provide any detail for Mexico, just location of cities and towns and main highways. But at least I knew the direction we were traveling, and could compare it to where we should be. I also had an internet signal, so I had Google Maps with Hermosillo pulled up. Not that any of that helped. We still got as lost as Bo Peep's Sheep! Uh, oh, this road is turning into a dirt cow path. Guess we'd better turn right. I don't recognize anything and can't find it on the map. All of a sudden we saw a street name where we were supposed to turn left. We traveled on that road for a long ways, until there was no city left. That's when we figured out we got on that street past where we were supposed to. Let's just keep going and see what happens. Here's where we put all our faith and trust in the GPS and tracking of Microsoft Streets and Trips. We kept following the road, and it eventually led us right over a little mountain and back to the main highway, of course, just a few yards shy of a toll booth where we had to fork over about $310 Pesos, or about $31.00 American.

What started out to be a real bad mistake turned into a lucky bypass almost completely around the city of Hermosillo and saved us at least 45 minutes of driving time. Just don't ask us exactly which streets we took, we'd never be able to repeat that one!

The road was kind of smooth for a little ways, and then the potholes started! Mile after mile of dodging potholes and driving over poorly maintained roads. Eventually we reached the first military checkpoint where we were stopped. The nice Federale asked us where we'd been and where we were going and told us to have a nice day. The road stayed bad all the way to the border though.

We waited in line for about 45 minutes at the US customs station just after crossing the border into the US. The gate attendant politely asked us to pull into a large area where another US Customs and Border Patrol employee came into the motor home and looked into our fridge and freezer to be sure we had no chicken, eggs or pork products. That little inspection took about 30 seconds and we were on the way.

Here's the line as we got close to the customs station.

We got set up with a "Golf View" site at Diamond J and paid for a week here. We then headed out to the grocery store to replenish our pantry. We didn't know for sure what would be prohibited when we crossed the border, so we got rid of nearly everything!

Here's the sunset from our window here at Diamond J.

And our view of Golden Gate Mountain from our other window.

We're now settled back in, and in a day or three, we might have our little house clean and the laundry done! Another great day in our life!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bahia Kino, Mexico

We hung out, walked a little, drove around a little, visited, and not a lot else today.

This is a view of cactus by Estrela Bay, which is one of the prettiest places in this area.

We found out that the bird's nests we saw yesterday are Osprey, and here's one at the nest.

The pier was damaged, probably by a hurricane, but is being rebuilt.

This little church sits up on a hill by itself, nothing else around it. This was taken from our window. That's a palm frond in the foreground.

Our group got together for dinner this evening. We went to a local place call El Pargo Rojo. I had scallops, Fred had chicken and everyone else had shrimp.

Here's everyone outside after dinner.

JoAnn baked her famous chocolate cream cheese pie and shared it with the group at the Wishnie's rig after dinner.

Today was our last day in Bahia Kino, and our last day of traveling with the Wishnies and Dubrouillets. They are heading towards Alamos tomorrow, while we are heading back to Tucson. We've enjoyed our time in Mexico, but need to get back to the states to be in contact with Jim's daughter. We will miss traveling with our group. However, we have established some great and lasting friendships! Safe Travels, guys! See you down the road.

So, tomorrow is moving day again. We are hoping for a smooth travel day back to the U.S.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bahia Kino - or "Little Colorado"

I should feel right at home here -- I've seen more Colorado license plates in one day here than I've seen since we left that state last summer. We spoke briefly with a woman from Durango this morning, she said there are a lot of people here who've migrated from Colorado.

Yesterday was not an especially relaxed or easy travel day from my perspective. We needed to drive north to the city of Hermosillo and then back southwest to get to Bahia Kino. The road was quite rough for much of the distance from San Carlos north. We had to navigate around Hermosillo to find the turn off to the road to Bahia Kino. Once again, Jim & I were in the lead position, only this time I didn't have the detailed, turn-by-turn instructions I had on the way down to San Carlos.

Luckily, I was able to establish an internet connection as we approached Hermosillo and found a website with some directions and a landmark I could use to find the correct road to turn onto. Then, to make things a little more exciting, we had a detour! We had a few tense moments when the detour seemed to end, but we had no idea where we were. Luckily, the detour took us right to the road we needed to be on, and all was well.

We stopped in the town of Miguel Alemon between Hermosillo and Bahia Kino to rest. We shopped at a grocery store across the street from the Pemex. Then, Jo decided it would be a good idea to get something to eat. We ended up at Pollo Feliz, which is a large Mexican chicken chain. We thought we ordered chicken sandwiches - ha! Fooled us. When we got back to our rigs and were eating, we discovered we'd actually ordered ham and cheese sandwiches. They were tasty, but not exactly what we'd expected!

This is the Pemex station where we stopped.

When we arrived in a dust storm in Bahia Kino, we wondered what in the world we'd gotten ourselves into. This certainly didn't look like a beautiful little town by the sea. We parked the rigs in the first area off the road that all three would fit. We unhooked the Saturn so Jo, JoAnn and I could go scout out the rv parks for a likely place. Jo had starred three parks to check out. These were a combination of recommendations from other people and the write-ups from the Mike and Terri Church book. The first one we looked at is in the older section of Bahia Kino. We didn't see 3 spaces near each other that we could fit into, so off we went to the second possibility, in the section known as Nuevo Kino. This one did have 3 spaces fairly close to each other. But, the 5th wheels would have been parked with a view of a cement wall, and it looked extremely tight to get the rigs in, with no place to park our vehicles. Off to the third choice, about 5 miles up the road, almost to the end of Nuevo Kino. There were plenty of spots available at the Kino Bay Trailer RV Park with 3 together in several different sections. We made the decision this would be it. By the time we got back to the rigs and drove back to the park with them, everyone was pretty tired.

We got our motor home into the small space without too much difficulty. It was a bit more challenging for the 5th wheels.

We're on the back row, so at least we didn't have to maneuver around other rigs, just those quaint covered patios!

A group of six tired and dusty travelers finally had a relaxing moment at Jorge's restaurant across the street from the rv park! We called it a night soon after dinner.

This morning dawned calm and sunny. We took the camera to get a few pictures when we walked over to pay for a two-day stay. Many people in the park appear to have settled in for good. They've fancied up the covered patios, painted murals and planted flowers. Can you see the rv in this picture?

Here's a view down one of the rows in the park.

We took a drive to explore the area. Jo and JoAnn brought us a little map of the area so we could find our way around. Here's a view of the rv park from the road behind it.

We also saw a couple of telephone poles with bird nests built right on top.

A view of the shore at Estela Bay which is kind of around the corner from us.

This view is from the main street of Nuevo Kino looking towards the end of the road, where our rv park is situated. At the base of the large hill in the lower center of the picture, you might be able to see some white dots. That's the area where we're staying. It's about 6 miles from one end of the town to the other, all along a single main road.

Here's a street view of the road. The garages and driveways face the street. The front of the houses face the shore, of course.

We noticed at the most attractive houses along this road, the cars in the driveways have American license plates - especially Colorado!

Jo mentioned this morning that someone told her there is a cafe in the older section of town that has phones where you can call anywhere in the US for 30 minutes for $5.00. We found it, Roberto's Cafe and Lucy's Kitchen, but the lines are down today, so no phone calls.

The wind started blowing pretty hard again around noon today, maybe tomorrow it will be calmer!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Last Day in San Carlos

Every day seems to include a little of this and a little of that. Some things are routine, some new and adventurous. I always walk the dogs. We always have coffee and (almost always) start the day slowly. Today we added a few things to get ready to move tomorrow. I vacuumed -- and Jim actually stayed around while I did. He worked on his "blue" jobs such as dumping our tanks, checking the oil and all that fun stuff. Most of my "pink" jobs will be done in the morning. Those include packing up all the "stuff" that accumulates while we're staying put, making sure the tv antenna and satellite dish are down, bars on the fridge shelves, things that are generally inside the rig.

I wanted to go geocaching. Since this was our last full day here, it needed to be today. The guys decided to stay home, so Jo, JoAnn and I set off with the necessary items to find the geocache I figured would be the easiest to get to. It's located on the ruins of the movie set where Catch 22 was filmed in 1969. The location is only about 3 miles from our RV park. This was the first time Jo and JoAnn have been geocaching. When my GPS indicated we were "there" Jo poked around in the pile of small pieces of cement and came up with the find! Inside the box we found a Travel Bug -- my first! Interestingly enough, it's called "Red Rooster" and it started it's journey on a chicken farm in Petaluma, California. I say that is interesting, because an aunt and uncle of mine once owned a chicken farm in Petaluma. I will take good care of the little Red Rooster and will find an appropriate cache for him to continue his travels.

For those who aren't familiar with Travel Bugs, sometimes these are placed in a cache with a particular objective in mind. They are actually a little metal tag, like a dog tag, with a tracking number. They can be attached to some other small item, such as in this instance, a little rooster. The objective for this particular Travel Bug is to keep traveling. Sometimes the objective could be to reach a particular destination, or a specific cache. There is a web page to log the journey of the Travel Bug, just as there is a web page to log finds of a geocache.

Jo, grabbing her first find!

Some of the ruins of the Catch 22 set.

Jo and JoAnn in front of some of the ruins.

I think Jo and JoAnn enjoyed the geocaching, and it was fun to poke around the movie set, although to me it just looked like an informal junk yard with some interesting stone walls.

We then visited Algodones Beach for a little while and watched many locals having a relaxing and fun Sunday. There were certainly a lot more people there today than a few days ago when Jim and I visited.

When we came back, Jo mentioned that she and Fred wanted to eat at La Palapa and asked if the rest of us wanted to go. Sure! So we all had an early dinner there. It was good to see Fred up and around. La Palapa is basically an outside restaurant located right on the beach. The setting is very nice, and the food is quite good. They serve primarily Greek foods, but have seafood and American selections as well.

Fred and Jo decide what they'd like.

JoAnn and Doug, enjoying the setting.

Looking out at the Sea of Cortez from our table. As we sat there, the bartender pointed out several whales nearly as far out as we could see. I watched the spouting for quite a long time. Unfortunately, we were way to far away to get pictures.

These sunset pictures were taken from our rig. This is the view we've had to put up with for a week. Oh, well, someone has to do this.

Tomorrow is moving day!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Day Trip to Guaymas

Both dogs look all neat and spiffy now, at least for a day or two. They will soon look scruffy and in need of cleaning up though, they are just like a couple of kids. Maybe that's one reason I like to keep them around. They seem to keep me on my toes and feeling young.

As I was finishing the grooming, our traveling companions stopped by and we chatted for awhile about our plans to go to Bahia Kino on Monday. Jo and Fred have not had much of a chance to get out and see the area around San Carlos because they've been battling the flu since we got here, yet they both said they're fine with heading out on Monday as planned. The talk turned to what shall we do today. It was decided to take a short day trip to Guaymas (pronounced Way-mous or Wy-mous), which is about 28 kilometers (approx. 13 miles) from here. JoAnn and Doug and Jim and I piled into the little Saturn and away we went. Jo and Fred opted for another day of rest here.
As we neared the town of Guaymas, we decided it was getting close to lunch time, meaning the first order of business would be to find a restaurant. JoAnn suggested Los Barcos in the central part of the town near the harbor because she heard it was good. And it was. Here is the outside of the place.
We sat at a table bordering the little outside garden area. Doug, JoAnn and Jim enjoy the chips and hot! salsa.

Looking out the front windows, we could see the harbor across the street. Doug and JoAnn enjoyed their lunch, as we did.

After lunch we walked a few blocks to find the Mercado Municipal (City Market). This is looking at the Mercado building across a busy intersection.

Inside the market we found tightly packed vendors with all kinds of wares. It reminded me a little bit of the Mesa Market that we visited in Mesa, Arizona last winter, only with a distinctly Mexican cultural feel.

Here JoAnn and Doug pass a fruit and cheese vendor.

We then set off down the street, in search of more interesting sights. This was an interesting building, I couldn't resist this picture. Turns out it is an old, closed, bank.

Another couple of blocks down the street we spotted the Iglesia de San Fernando (San Fernando Church). This little square is on the side of the church.

Across the street is another square, where we can see the front of the church. You might be able to see the dragon shapes in the light post. JoAnn, Doug and Jim are standing in the square in front of the church.

My Tres Amigos, JoAnn, Doug, and Jim

We found the Plaza Tres Presidentes. Three Mexican Presidents came from Guaymas. This plaza must be a popular place for rallies and such. It is big and very empty. I can just imagine thousands of people gathered here for speeches or celebrations, etc.

Back towards the harbor and our car, we found this interesting statue of a fisherman. Since I don't read Spanish, I'm not sure of the story, but it is a very interesting statue.

It was siesta time then, so we headed back to the car and piled in for the short drive back to San Carlos. Back at home, we settled in for some reading and relaxation.

Another beautiful day!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grooming Jasmine and A Walk To The Beach

Today's title describes pretty much the whole day. Jasmine was starting to look like something other than a miniature schnauzer, so it was her turn on the grooming table. It got pretty warm with the sun shining brightly on us. I didn't quite get her completely finished, but we'll work on it again tomorrow. A woman from the one of the neighboring rigs asked me if I'm a professional groomer. She has a little dog that she wants to learn how to groom. She asked me if I'd give her some pointers tomorrow. I said no problem, I'll be out finishing Jasmine anyway. I did explain that I am most definitely not a professional groomer, but that my dogs aren't professional dogs, so it all works out. Of course, looking at Mr. Bo Jangles, I see he already needs some trimming, so I started working on him a little bit too. It's unending!

Jim suggested we go have some lunch at La Palapa, a place another of our neighbors here told us about. When we got there, those neighbors were there, just finishing their lunch! They serve mostly Greek food, but have some American dishes too. I had crab cakes and spanikopita.

When we came back, we were relaxing, when Jo and BooBoo, Doug & JoAnn and Fillmore walked by. When we asked where they were headed, they said to the beach. I joined them, so 4 people and 4 dogs strolled over to the beach. I didn't take my camera, so today's pictures are some from yesterday and the day before. We were all ready for more relaxation when we got back.

This is a view of the mountain, Tetas de Cabras, that we see on our way back to the RV park from downtown San Carlos.

This is another view of the marina that we can see from our front window.

This is a little memorial shrine that has been built in the side of a hill at the beach. I sure wish I knew the story behind it. There are pictures and flowers inside, but the structure itself is nearly rusted away.

From the little shrine, turning just slightly left shows this view.

Ah, quiet, peace, and beauty. I could get used to this.