Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Sonora, Mexico ...

Since our insurance doesn't expire until mid-August, it intrigued us that we could actually go back into Mexico on our own. We heard a lot about Puerto Penasco on the Sea of Cortez but located in a different area. The safest way to go we were advised was to exit Mexico in Tecate like wew did and travel over US 8 to Gila Bend in Arizona, and go south from there. We arrived in Puerto Penasco Easter Sunday afternoon, end of spring break. Hallelujah! Thank God it was the end!

The town was packed with people. We were able to find a place to park in the Playa Miramar RV park for $17.60 per night down by the beach. If you have expectations you will be disappointed. We settled in and then decided to cruise the town, hehe. There is a one-way road/street that circles through the Old Port part of town (where all the action was) and nothing was moving. We followed a car that turned left out of that mess and we followed him/her out of there, actually found a street parking place, read the local advertisements re restaurants and picked the Costa Brava which was in plain sight. It was a lovely choice to eat, obviously caters to Americans (English speakers) which takes the adventure out of the experience, but, hey, it's okay at times.

Tiredness and common sense took over after that and we went back to the rig to settle down for the night. The night was looonnng ... kaboom, kaboom, kaboom BANG, (cherry bombs?) and fireworks all night long with the revelers going to day break. The town cleared out very fast by early Monday morning and the clean up crew went to work and did a very good job of digging out the trash and cleaning the streets. Marilyn talked to someone on her early morning walk who told her that the town had just gotten the street sweeper. Good timing.

Monday we became tourists and went back to the Malecon (the boardwalk area), saw the fish markets, the views and had lunch.

This is the view from the Malecon .... notice the parasailer in the distance. Marilyn did this in Cabo San Lucas. I did it 30 years ago in Acapulco, once was enough.

And another view ...

This man sells candied fruits and colorful items to eat ...

Walking a little further along, this statue is quite large, The Shrimpman ...

Rocky Point is so named (I'm guessing here) because of the rocky beach ...

We stepped into Lily's for lunch and I ordered this very attractively served chicken quesadilla ...

This is a restaurant built out over the water.

After a couple of hours in the fish market area and the Malecon, we drove 8 miles out to Sandy Beach ... where they are building a jillion highrise apartment/condos/whatevers ... welcome to Waikiki, you name it. It was swarming with families mainly, all seeming to have a good time swimming, water skiing, sunbathing and enjoying the various pools. No golf course, no nothin' ...

And the beach is sandy ... how'd you guess?

Marilyn gifted Brightwing with a wash job ... the price in Mexico is far superior than in the U.S. and with that we left this morning headed for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument just back over the border into Arizona.

Those pictures will show up on the next edition of this blog.

30 for today and g'nite.

Monday, March 28, 2005

AFTERGLOW ... RVW Baja 2005 Tour ...

Julie and I are looking for a way to make a CD of this trip. We will include all pictures and articles sent this way beforehand. This is being written on Sunday, April 17, 2005.

Meanwhile, Val Fitzsimmons sent in these pictures today for sharing.

This appears to be Happy, Portia and me sampling the clams on our first evening at Santispac Beach ...

I am fascinated by the play of the sunlight in this picture
of I don't know who swinging at the pinata at Catavina ...

Val is sharing these nice pictures of her taken at various places.
Sorry I don't know where they were snapped.

Hey, come on ... send me those favorites.
End of the RVW Baja 2005 Fantasy Tours trip for 20 rigs, 35 women and one token male

(Hey, he was a much needed tailgunner, and a good one, too). This blog for this fabulous trip is now completed, but there will be an afterglow for a looong time.

The relevant dates for blog reading are February 22 through March 28, 2005. As the days roll by the various blog entries are archived off to the right of the current page. I will publish here pictures that come to me via email and/or stories that are crying out to be written. So check back often to see what's posted.

For starters, JoAnn Goldsmith sent me a picture from the Monday, March 7th (Day 15) Back Country Day Trip in Los Barriles. In the middle of the day Ann, Val, Shar and Marilyn jumped into the hot springs ...

Rosalie sent an email today stating that she and Julie just arrived home in Benicia, California, "exhausted but safe and sound. Trip home uneventful, thankfully."
Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Sonora, Mexico ... hey, how did we get here?

The urge to check out this place on Mexico's west coast along the Sea of Cortez began to germinate shortly before our 34-day tour ended. Guess we didn't get enough of Mexico. No way, Jose. But before continuing on with this little adventure there are stories to tell and pictures to post.

Our Fantasy Tour spent our last two days (Day 33 and 34) at the Estero Beach RV Park near Ensenada culminating in our farewell dinner at their restaurant. My camera was having a bad hair day so the pictures are limited. Maybe that's a good thing.

Our wagonmasters presented each of us with our very own Easter basket filled with goodies and our tailgunners gave each of us a memento from Estero Beach.

I caught Burle and Happy as a last gasp ...

And squeezed out one more picture of Pat Vine celebrating her birthday. The cake was provided by the restaurant and it was one of the best cakes I ever tasted.
This one's a fake. They had the real deal all cut and ready to serve once the candles were out.

That's saying a lot more than for the food, which was probably the worst meal I had on the whole trip ... mainly because it seemed to be stale, prepared way ahead, the tacos were tough ... well, 'nuff said. We had already turned in our trip evaluations so this one got missed ... Fantasy, are you reading?

The next morning was busy getting ready to leave early at 7:00 amid the lingering goodbyes ... 34 days together through thick 'n thin creates some pretty tight bonds and longlasting friendships. Initially there were to be two exit strategies; one group crossing the border at San Diego and the other crossing 43 miles east of San Diego at Tecate. I don't know if there ever was a San Diego group but we were in the caravan heading for Tecate. We traveled for three hours through some of the most gorgeous farmland, gentle hills, vineyards and roadside flowers that I have EVER seen. It also was the Ruta de Vino, a wonderful wine making area of Mexico. What a surprise. Reminds me of what Napa Valley might have looked like fifty years ago.

Many folks seemed to be dreading the U.S. Customs crossing, but Marilyn and I did a little visualization and prayer beforehand and our crossing was swift, easy and uneventful. Hooray! Several of us headed out Highway 94 which would eventually put us onto I-8 to Yuma. Through the CB I heard continuous exclamations of joy and ecstasy over the increased size of the road, a steady single and/or double line and such happiness over being back stateside.

I found a pay phone at a small oasis to call Verizon to reinstate my cell phone which had been on vacation hold since February 22nd. The pay phone was attached to a small place advertising "Old Fashioned Hamburgers and Icecream." Tasted pretty good after such a long absence. Well, not the icecream.

So we continued on to Foothill Road about 14 miles east of Yuma and found a neat little RV park called Foothill Village. We slept pretty good ... it had been a long day and we lost an hour, going forward into Mountain Time. Didn't even put up the satellite. Joline must be sick. No, just tired. But the next morning we were all rested and hip to go to Puerto Penasco. We turned south at Gila Bend and stopped at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument ...

Marilyn snapped this one of me in a lovely setting out back of the ranger station.

Our intention is to spend one night in their campground on our way back to Tucson later this week.

My email brought this to me today and I am guided to share it with you.

Love and Ego

"We are not responding to this instant . . .
if we are judging any aspect of it.

The ego looks for what to criticize.

This always involves comparing with the past.

But love looks upon the world peacefully and accepts.

The ego searches for shortcomings and weaknesses.

Love watches for any sign of strength.

It sees how far each one has come and not how far he has to go.

How simple it is to love and exhausting it is always to find fault,
for every time we see fault we think something needs to be done about it.

Love knows that nothing is ever needed but more love.

It is what we all do with our hearts that affects others most deeply.

It is not the movements of our body or the words within our mind
that transmits love.

We love from heart to heart."

-- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bahia de Concepcion Playa de Santispac ... Sunday 3/20/2005
by Star Reporter Rosalie Woods ...

Julie and I spent a marvelous afternoon yesterday kayaking ...

... mostly observing a nearby small offshore volcanic island where the brown pelicans roost (as well as a colony of gulls). None of the birds were afraid of us, allowing us to float around and among them. We got closest to a pair of oyster catchers who ignored us and went about their business, making their little cries and poking their bright orange pointed bills into the water.

The pelicans roost in colonies. I suppose you could call it a pelican rookery. There were numerous birds in full breeding plumage with their bright yellow topknots and deep reddish orange bills. We even saw some with "fertile" plumage, which is bright red on both sides of the throat from ear to ear. The nests are rather haphazard with the birds taking full advantage of fallen cacti and the large sticks of vegetation. There was busy traffic in and out of what looked like communal areas of roosting from the top of the small mountain to the base where it met the water.

A blue heron ....

It was all very calming and hypnotic to watch. Some folks started worrying about us not knowing that I am a very strong paddler with over 20-years experience in kayaks.

Alas after almost 1½ hours we had to turn back. It was almost evening and the wind had come up with white caps cresting at the end of the island, blowing onto our faces.

Another very special Baja moment.

Not even 11 AM yet and another special moment.

After taking our binoculars out to observe a tri-colored heron fishing in front of our rig, we walked down the beach to a mangrove surrounded lagoon that empties into the bay. We were greeted by a white ibis patiently stalking her prey in the tiny waterbed. Gorgeous bird!

At the end of our stay at this beautiful, awesome beach, we rearranged the rocks from our campfire.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ensenada BCN, Estero Beach Hotel and RV Park ... Day 31, 32 and 33 ... Racing for the Border, or so it seems ... not unusual.

Day 31 began what is called the Baja Gas Gap ... a 220 mile stretch with no gas/diesel. That is not a problem with the big rigs, but it really stretches my pickup truck. However, if I can drive it fuel efficiently it's a piece of cake. I did that ... twice, going and coming.

The driving day was very pleasant, especially after we perfected our morning talk with our angels asking that the 18-wheelers only appear on straightaways and that the road be several feet wider ... it was purrrrfect every time. Whew, what a blessing.

More Cardom cactus ...

... and lovely views.

We spent the evening of Day 31 back at Santa Ynez RV Park in Catavina at 1754 feet elevation, which made the temperature rather chilly.

Van and Joy put together a Pinata which they hung in a tree and here's Happy swinging away.

We all shared in the results.

Talk began about crossing back into the U.S. border and what you can take, how much, and customs and all that. Judy said the max on liquor is one liter and she had more than that and did we want to open some bottles and share? Well ... sure. In the end Shar and Marsha also came over to our "house" and those were some bottles ... all prize winning Windsor wines (Merlot) from the Alexander Valley up home in California.

Judy and Diane ...

Shar and Marsha ...

Marilyn with the dead soldiers ...

And a few people slept pretty good all night.

The second half of the Baja Gas Gap was a long driving day, approximately seven hours. Our morning prayer and angel talk went well and the results were fabulous.
We listened for several hours to the Sirius satellite radio, which worked all the way to Cabo San Lucas and is still performing flawlessly. The scenery was breathtaking and my little ol' digital camera cannot capture the magnificence of the Baja in the sweeping panoramas. Here's my best ... not bad ... from a moving vehicle yet.

We arrived in Estero Beach near Ensenada early afternoon of Day 34, March 24th. A group tour of the famous Blow Hole happened this morning (I didn't go so no pictures) and our farewell dinner was tonight, Day 35, boohoo. Some are ready to head for the States, others are sad to go, me included. The farewell pictures will be posted over the weekend. It's a 7 a.m. call tomorrow, egads ... the last of those ... won't miss 'em, for those who know me know I don't move anywhere before noon. I've been a good girl, learned to eat a "rolling" breakfast and take sponge baths all before 7 a.m. and brush my teeth at the rest stop ... such barbarism.

It's been a great ride ... all the way down and all the way back.

That's 30 for today.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Note: If you read this entry earlier, some more has been added throughout and at the end.

Catavina BCN ... Rancho Santa Ynez RV Park ... Day 31 ... brr-r-r-r (54 degrees this morning inside the rig) the weather changed dramatically ... back into the winter clothes ... hmm-m-m-m. Memories of basking on the beach.

We had a lovely day driving north. The wildflowers are ablaze everywhere. Our Kodak moments came and went so fast we couldn't get the camera coordinated. Everything is green, green, green. It must have rained the entire time we were gone. It rained on us most of the morning.

So this is a good time to catch up. Lots to share. Going back to last Saturday night, Day 27, March 19th ... Santispac Beach ... early evening found many at Ray's Place, a restaurant not to be missed, according to the local lore ...

Ray's has a neat little bar ...

Shar, Linda and Val were enjoying the scene ...

As well as Kathy, Pam and Doris ...

Another table found Ann, JoAnn, Betsey and Marsha ...

Ray has a menu on a board and it is ALL fish, except the last entry, a New York steak. Since this kid eats little seafood because of the mercury contamination and my week's limit had been reached ... this is what I ordered. And was it good.

Yes, I checked out the Mexican beef and determined
it is fit to eat (healthy).

The sign over the bar reminded us of a house rule ...

They were out of rice pudding with Kahlua ... dratz ... so we went up the beach to Ana's ...

... to see what she had for dessert. A little chocolate cake topped with flan ... very popular in these parts. Hint: You can get it at Costco.

Day 28, Sunday morning at Santispac Beach, our last, boohoo.

Burle had been advertising for several days about his Pie Iron breakfast, you bring your own bacon, egg, and two slices of bread. So we did.

This is a group hunkered over the fire cooking their breakfast in a pie iron,
a cast iron contraption that has a top and a bottom and they clamp together, with a loooong handle.

Burle helping Pam ...

This is the finished product, yum. Cheese was added to your creation by Happy if you chose.

Cannot reveal who owns this shirt ...

After breakfast this was a day of diving for chocolate clams, kayaking way out with the birds, and Star Reporter Rosalie has a story for you with pictures.

In the afternoon a group gathered to practice for the video that Pam Byers wanted to make of "our" song, "A Little Cottage in the Woods," ... this is another one; song that is.

A little cottage in the woods [Make teepee overhead with hands]
A Little man by the window stood [Shade eyes and look afar]
Saw a rabbit hopping by [Cup hands like a kangaroo and bounce a little]
Knocking at my door. [Knock on door]

Help Me! Help Me! Help Me! he said [Raise arms in air 3 times]
Before the hunter shoots me dead [Shooting gesture from side to side]
Come inside, come inside [Scooping motion repeatedly]
Safely to abide.
[Petting up arm motion]

Here's the deal. You demonstrate and sing the words first time around. Second time the first line is in mime only, and you sing and demonstrate the rest of the words.

Third time around the first and second lines are in mime and the rest is aloud. Continue through until the last time is total silence with the mime motions. Also the 5th line Help Me is outloud each round. Before the end the participants are doubled over in fits of laughter and much stress is alleviated.

This is the second line: A little man by the window stood.

Now, wasn't that just the most fun?

At 4:00 was the Doggie Fashion Show.

Michele appeared with her one-man band and she let out the clarion call: Let the Dogs Begin.

There was a lot of fuss and staging.

This is Sydney ...

And the three Schnauzers Cody, Star and Peanut.
Cody and Peanut are the parents of Star.

Cody is doing a little showing off ...

And then Peanut got into the act.

Tinker was being a bit haughty ...

Kipper and Brew next appeared .... Brew trying to be incognito.

Jinx was showing off ...

Tootsie became a Mexican dog and had a time keeping her hat on ...

And you all remember Maizie?

There is another dog named Paulie, a border collie ... I didn't see him around in the fashion show, but here he is from another sneak shot earlier in the trip.

The show ended with judges awarding first prize to all the entrants. The judges were supposed to be all the folks who do not have dogs, but I don't think that's what happened. Anyhoo, a good time was had by all. I think the prizes were Hershey bars. For dogs? Oh, well.

Note: I tried really hard to show off all the dogs (the cats were all hiding under beds) and my apologies if any are missed. Please let me know.

We left very early the next morning headed for Santa Rosalia, a French Colonial mining town of old. The sun was just coming up.

And as we turned right on to Mexico 1, this sign was just ahead.

Santa Rosalia for Breakfast ....

We left so early we were in town by 8:06 a.m. Right across the street from where we parked is an old locomotive ...

Copper was mined in this area from 1870 to 1950. The homes in Santa Rosalia are mostly French Colonial and made of wood from the Pacific Northwest. Most of the streets are paved, unusual for Mexico

We walked down the main street to the church designed by Eiffel, as in Eiffel Tower, which was prefabbed in France and shipped over.

I stopped in for breakfast at the local hotel where they served in an outdoor dining room right on the street.

Marilyn went across the street for lobster tacos and joined Ann, Shar, Marsha ... and why are you hiding JoAnn?

After the two-hour stopover in Santa Rosalia, we headed for our visit to the town of San Ignacio ... this is the mission church built in 1728 with walls of lava rock four feet thick with a very high arched ceiling.

Trip trivia: To make a phone call in Mexico you find a booth like this on the street ...

... and with a prepaid phone card purchased at most places of business you make a call.

Marilyn and I had a little adventure with the rig while in town. Going in was a snap and going 3/4 of the way around the plaza was also. When we decided to leave the 4th side was totally blocked with policia and a huge tour bus and so we went straight up the street. Eventually (you guessed it) we ran out of street. Turning left or right (as in most situations like this) are narrow unpaved streets/roads and one must then make an important decision.

In our case there were two of us and Marilyn started walking ahead around a blind curve to see what's up. I stayed with the rig and kept smiling and nodding to the crowd that began to form ... after all, there is this huge behemoth idling in the middle of their small narrow street and this is a call to the neighborhood to come out and take a look. Typical.

Marilyn came back and announced that there was a place around the corner where we might "possibly" turn around. What the hey, there is no other place to go ... so she climbed in and we proceeded. The outcome of the story is good, we were able to turn around by backing into the front yard of the Police Station, with nobody paying one bit of attention to us.

So now it's time to head for the Rice and Beans RV Park where we will have dinner and spend the night.

While waiting for dinner on their delightful porch, I spied this old oven off the deck.

Doris ordered a guacamole with chips.

And Rosalie ordered a shrimp soup.

Oftentimes I get so busy doing something else that the pictures for the rest of the story don't quite get taken.

Here's Rosalie enjoying her dinner ...

... and the rest of us (Julie, Pam, Doris and me) are, too, we just didn't get photographed.

More trip trivia: Electricity in RV parks can be problematic. The local source seems to control the amount you get and it oftentimes is too high or too low ... in either case it can ruin your electrical systems ... computers and whatever else ... beyond repair ... egads. So it is important to travel with an inexpensive polarity checker and a volt meter and an expensive surge protector. The other part of this is to be able to step down electrical needs from 50 to 30 to 15 amps.