Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's a long, long way from Sabalos-Cerritos, where we're staying, to the public market downtown. Some days - like today - it's even longer.

Kristin had an appointment to have her hair done in La Zona Dorada at 9 o'clock this morning, and I said I would meet her there at 10:30 so we could go check out the market. Robin decided to come along, so the two of us left here just after 9:30 - lots of time. Well, really lots of time, as it turned out. There was some sort of glitch in the colouring process, so when we got to the salon, Kristin was still being basted and foiled. When we had run an errand and had a cup of coffee, she was still being cooked. We decided to go to Mega (supermarket) and do our shopping. Then R would go home in a taxi, and I would get off at the salon and meet Kristin. Great plan.

Except that the taxi driver who picked us up at Mega seemed really unsure about where we were going, and he took a route that went nowhere near the salon, and altogether I thought it would be best if I just stayed with the taxi (even a little Spanish can be important if your taxi driver is lost). So I did. I rode all the way back to Mar-a-Villas. We sent the driver on his way, and I went out to the road, where I caught a bus back to the Golden Zone. By this time, I had been gone nearly two hours.

I asked Christine, who owns the salon, if she knew where I could find my friend. "Oh, she left a long time ago!" Oy.

I looked around outside, saw no sign of Kris, and had to make a decision. Either she had gone home, or she had gone on to the market. As I had already invested the entire morning in this project, I decided to go on to the market. I located the correct bus, and off I went.I figured Kris would call me if she were really concerned. It turned out that she didn't have her cell with her, and the phone at the salon was not set up to call cell phones. Kris had actually just gone in somewhere to get something to eat.

So off I went to the market. I got about 2/3 of the way there when my phone rang. When I didn't appear (it seemed) Kris had gone home, and now she and TJ were both trying to hook up with me. Where could we meet? I had never even been to the market before.

The Canadians sitting behind me had been talking about going to a restaurant downtown, so I asked them for the name of the restaurant, which was supposedly across the street from the opera house. It was called El Tunel. I agreed to meet TJ and Kris there.

There was further confusion when El Tunel proved to be closed for renovations, but Tom and Rose (my bus neighbours from Calgary)and I settled in at a patio table in front of the restaurant next door, ordered a pizza, and waited for Kris and TJ, who did in fact find us, against all odds. We ordered a second pizza, had an enjoyable lunch, and then the two groups parted ways.

After that, things were much simpler. We went to the market, which was only three blocks away. I managed to find the vendor who sold extensibles - watchbands - and had Robin's broken band replaced. I also found Erin's cazuela. Hers is fancy-schmancy. It has decorations - and a lid.

We caught the Toreo bus home and got here just in time for sunset, but nobody had the energy to walk to the beach. The last I saw of them, TJ and Kris were heading home for a siesta in preparation for tonight's festivities.

Robin and I plan to celebrate the New Year in our traditional fashion - by sleeping through the midnight hour.

So. Happy New Year to all, and to all a Good Night.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm late. I'm late. Today got away from me.

Robin and I walked up to Mr. Lionso's, where Robin surprised me by ordering breakfast. What's happening here? Anyway, I made a point of telling the waiter that my husband wanted his poached eggs On Toast, and he appeared to understand. I ordered an omelette. When R's meal arrived, sure enough, his eggs were On Toast, and there was ham on his plate. He was very pleased. I was less than pleased with the fact that I got dry toast instead of tortillas with my omelette, but I hadn't specified, just assumed, and we all know....

R was halfway through his breakfast when I noticed something peculiar about his poached eggs. "Those eggs aren't poached, are they?" "No. Fried." Ah, well. Baby steps.

The plan was that we would all take a cab to a launderette and from there to Mega. Kris and TJ were busy with something else until nearly 2 o'clock this afternoon, and by then R had decided he would prefer not to go out, so the three of us went while Robin stayed home and played on the internets.

I walked out to the road and flagged down one of the open taxis with two benches in the back, so that we could slide all our laundry in. Once we were all on board, we rode to the Zona Dorada (the touristy area downtown), and our driver let us off in front of a laundry. TJ walked half a block and found another laundry that could have our clothes ready by 6 o'clock this evening, rather than tomorrow morning, so we lugged the clothes up there and left them.

TJ had been having a terrible time with his new cell phone, so he went off in search of someone to yell at, and Kristin and I went window shopping. We walked and walked and walked, finally realizing that we were a long way from the "right around here" where we had agreed to stay - so we walked back. We found TJ right across the street from where we had left him. He had seen a sign there advertising cell phones, so had gone in and had his problem solved lickety-split without having to yell at anybody. The place he went was also an internet cafe and a salon and a spa, so he had his hair cut while he was about it. There was a woman from Vancouver there, talking on the phone, and they struck up a conversation. It turned out that they have mutual friends, and she was supposed to be getting in touch with TJ while she was down here. She had his phone number, but hadn't gotten around to calling him yet.

When Kristin and I showed up, TJ told us of his adventure, and we all went to a local bar for a beer. Then we went back to the shop (Christine's), where Kristin and I had our eyebrows shaped. She made an appointment for tomorrow morning to have her hair highlighted, and I made one for Friday to have my hair cut. I find it a little strange that I've come all the way to Mexico to have my hair cut by an Englishwoman, but I'm eager to ask her how she comes to be here.

We still had time before the laundry would be finished, so we went to a restaurant on the beach, where we had tortilla soup and shrimp ceviche and guacamole and chips. From there it was less than a block to the laundry. We picked up our clothes, caught a bus that happened to be going by, and came home in the dark.

So now, TJ and Kris have gone to meet the woman from the salon for drinks, and Robin and I have settled in for the night. My feet hurt.

Monday, December 29, 2008

El Quelite, redux.

Well, it's crow for dinner - metaphorically speaking, of course, and for me only. Robin can have whatever he wants.

You may recall that we visited El Quelite two years ago. Our friend Ian, the Londoner we met in Mazatlan, drove us out there one day, and we took dozens of pictures of the very picturesque village, including some from a tower-cum-chapel way up on a hill. Then we walked around, bought coffee and muffins at a little sidewalk cafe, looked around some more, and ended up on the patio of El Meson de los Laureanos, a very popular restaurant.

There ensued an episode that left me fuming, snarling, and writing a very unflattering review in this journal (See February 9, 2007 - the easiest way to get there is by clicking on "El Quelite" on the Labels list over there--------------->) Today, we had an entirely different - and much more pleasant - experience.

We had fallen into the habit of hanging around in Mazatlan, and it wasn't until Kristin brought the matter up that I remembered our plan to go back to El Quelite with her and TJ. Watching Kris at work with her camera, I was sure she would love the place, and I really wanted to show it to her. So today was the day. We got off to a rather late start - close to noon- and we had to go to the Pemex station for gas (a couple of kilometres in the opposite direction from El Quelite, of course) before we could really get under way. I was curious to know how far away it really was. It seemed like a long drive, but I thought I remembered that it was really only 30 kilometres back up Hwy. 15 Libre. As it turned out, it's about 40 km - still not very far, but the road is not meant for fast travel, as the signs alongside kept reminding me.

We drove our RV, and Kris and TJ rode with us. We parked in a vacant lot near the edge of town, because I wasn't sure there would be room to turn around once we got in there. That was interesting. One of the local residents kindly watched me in, smiling and waving me forward until TJ, looking out the window, said "Whoa!" We were in some danger of taking out a power line, but we stopped in time, thanks to TJ's quick eyes.

We strolled up the high street and were immediately adopted by a thin but obviously cared-for German Shepherd, who was determined to act as our guide. Dogs know an easy mark when they see one.

TJ was quite hungry. Somebody had recommended a restaurant called Doc's, so we went looking for that. I pointed out El Meson de los Laureanos as we went by, and I said that I would be willing to give it another try if we didn't find the place we were looking for. This time, I knew we were arriving at the hour of the comida (2ish), the main meal in Mexico, and I was prepared to have my comida (When in Rome, and all that).

We soon gave up trying to find Doc's, as nobody in town had heard of it. Instead, we retraced our steps to the infamous El Meson de Los Laureanos.

Well. The place was bustling. Customers were plentiful and chatty, and there were plenty of servers, as well. Everybody was very cheerful, including the macaw that ran up and down the banister of the short flight of stairs to the next level. We sat down, ordered beer (and lemonade for the DD, me), and perused the menu. We ordered three plates of carne asada - and one of carnitas (cubed pork) for the odd woman out (me again). Our appetizers arrived, and we nibbled happily until, quite soon, our meals arrived. Each meal came with frijoles, guacamole, and nopalitos, and there was pudding after. There was too much for even me to finish, so we asked for a doggy bag.

The meal was delicious. The service was excellent. The owner was gracious. At first, I didn't think it was the same man - but he did look familiar - so maybe it was. I was seeing so red the last time, that I may simply have distorted his face in my memory.

Anyway, I can say without hesitation that El Meson de los Laureanos is well worth visiting, as long as you're prepared for a feast. I've gleaned a couple of links: (This is the menu.) (another glowing review)

The YouTube link shows the macaw.

Oh, and the German Shepherd got the contents of the doggy bag.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oh, joy. I discovered last night that Stuart McLean's "Vinyl Cafe" is available as a podcast, so I spent part of the evening listening to his Christmas show. It even included a Dave and Morley story that left me simultaneously crying and laughing. The man is a Canadian treasure. I've now subscribed to the podcast, and I hope that every Saturday's show will appear in my i-Tunes.

High wind and rough water greeted us on our walk this morning. There was a surfing competition going on at the top of the beach, where a red flag warned of danger out there, and the sea was giving the surfers plenty of challenge. We walked to Mr. Lionso's as usual, but today I wanted to hang around and watch the surfers - and besides, I hadn't had a restaurant meal since we got here - so I told the waiter I wanted something on the small side - not a huge breakfast. He assured me that the #1 breakfast was suitably small. I ordered the scrambled eggs with chorizo. When he saw that I was ordering breakfast, R asked for the #1 as well, but he wanted poached eggs on toast with ham. (Jam, really. That's what it says on the menu. I trusted they meant ham.) We both asked for our usual coffee.

Meanwhile, the big, round table beside us filled and filled. After a while, the growing group of boaters pulled yet another table up against the round one, and their group continued to grow. There was a great scurrying of staff, taking of orders, arrival of coffee and fruit juice (for us, too).

When we had almost given up hope, our meal arrived. Mine consisted of scrambled eggs with chorizo, frijoles, guacamole, an orange slice, and a couple of curls of bacon that seemed to serve as part of the garnish - and there was a basket of warm tortillas. It was all very tasty. Robin's breakfast consisted of poached eggs, but without toast, and without ham (or jam, for that matter) - but it did have the rest of the trimmings. I think there was some sort of salsa on top of his eggs. I told him that he should order something that a Mexican person could conceive of as Food, and then he'd have better luck. I gave him a taste of my scrambled egg with chorizo. He took 1/4 teaspoon of it, declared it "very Mexican". I am doomed to eat breakfast at home forever. ;>) It was fun, though, to watch the surfers.

The rest of the day has been very Sundayish. R and TJ have been sitting on the patio, chatting, for hours. Kristin came over and talked to me for a while, then went home for a siesta. I tried to have one as well, but before I lay down I started reading my discussion boards - then reading my Poem of the Day that turned into Four Poems of the Day. One of my online friends recommended this site: and I've become quite addicted to it. After that, I got involved in an online discussion of pastries, so by the time I finally lay down, I only lasted a few minutes before I had to get up and eat a croissant with a cup of tea.

By the way, this is what I wrote in my pastry post: "Speaking of things heavenly, here in Mazatlan I've found that the bakeries are full to bursting with croissants. It's not like there's a shelf full of them - they're everywhere. One of the supermarkets even has some pain au chocolat, but mostly regular croissants. Soriana, where I was yesterday, has a big self-service area with trays and tongs, and it's full of almost nothing but croissants, hundreds of them. "Take me. I'm yours!" I said, and put half a dozen on my tray."

I suppose I should go for a bike ride now, to work off that croissant. Sure was good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm writing to the sound of very loud music from the place next door. I'm half tempted to go look over the wall, to see whether there's a dance going on. The place is called D.I.F. It's run by the government, and seems to be a huge social services agency. Among other services, I believe D.I.F. brings people from all over the country for a holiday here - or that's what somebody told me two years ago. They have lots of parties on weekends, and since this is essentially New Year's weekend, I expect it will be pretty lively over there. I don't know how I would cope if D.I.F. weren't there. Whenever we catch a taxi, I ask the driver "Do you know where Mar-a-Villas RV Park is?" and he looks puzzled. "Cerritos beach? In the north end?" Nothing. "Near D.I.F." Oh, of course. Near D.I.F. - and we get home with no further difficulty. I suppose I could write the park's address down, but where's the fun in that?

Our walk to the wall this morning was strenuous. We were a little earlier than usual, and the tide was still quite high - so we had to walk on a hillside, and the sand was less firm than we're used to. By the time we got to the cafe, I was more than ready to sit down for a while. Yesterday we had coffee at Loony Bean, where they roast the beans right there on the spot, and I know the coffee should be better, but somehow I prefer the coffee at Mr. Lionso's Playa Bruja, though I like the cups at Loony Bean. (There. I finally got smart and googled the cafe's name!)

We went to Soriana (supermarket) a while ago, and when we got back, the barber who cut Robin's hair two years ago was wandering around the park, so Robin got a haircut out on the patio. He likes this barber. Short cut. No problem. I went over to Kris's and found her engrossed in her computer. She had discovered something called, where she can make free online scrapbooks. We may never see her again.

Just in case, here's a picture to remember her by. That's TJ with her, in his new hat.

I'm going to check out that scrapbooking site myself, because I don't spend enough hours at the computer already! I don't hold out much hope for my performance as a scrapbooker, but it looks like fun.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day.

My pedometer worked correctly this morning. We walked to the rock, then upstairs to the cafe - 3,160 steps. By the time we got home, the count was well over 5,000. Since then, I haven't walked a lot, but R and I did cycle up to Looney Bean this afternoon, and cycling apparently activates the meter as well, because I now read 8,239 steps. That's better. By the time I go to bed tonight, I should have a respectable number there - Oops - I just glanced at the clock. It's time for the sun to set. Back soon......

There. One more ritual. I seem to have the need for ritual in my life - not routine, necessarily, but ritual. When we walk up the beach in the morning, Robin likes to cut diagonally across the last bit to get to the cafe steps - but I have to walk all the way to the rock and lay my hand on it, under the painted "Playa Bruja" sign. Otherwise, I haven't actually walked all the way to the end. As for the sunset, we both seem to require that. It's strictly a Mazatlan ritual, so far - though I don't know why, as they have sunsets in most every place we go!

I took several pictures today, all of the orioles feasting on the orange half that R put out for them. Last I saw, they were right down to the inner skin, so I think it's time for a new orange. After I took the photos, I got Robin's laptop down. I know I can't use my laptop to get pictures from the camcorder, so I figured I would use his. Well, no. His didn't appear to have the required software either, so I downloaded the Kodak Easy-Share programme - but for some reason, it won't recognize the camera. Well, poop. For now, I give up. 25 degree temperatures, sunshine, and leisure just don't mix well with frustration and frequent swearing. If I have to choose between them, I'll take the warmth and leisure, thank you.

Meanwhile, I can provide a link to another bird photo. This fellow, a yellow-winged cacique (Cacicus melanicterus) has been coming to the orange daily, and he's quite impressive.

We plan a bus ride to Soriana tomorrow, but I'm hoping I can find out where the public market is and go there, too - though maybe Kris and I should do that together - now that I remember how much Robin enjoyed the Guaymas market! (not at all, if you'll recall)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad -
Funny Christmas. I feel oddly disconnected. This morning, first thing, I turned on the computer, to find that I had the dreaded "Little or No Connectivity", which always, always means "No Connectivity At All". Kristin reported the same problem. It was too early to call Cesar, the contact person, so I turned the computer off and checked back every fifteen minutes or so until 9:15, when suddenly I had some connectivity, but not a lot. In the course of the day, I've used Skype to call several people, and so has Robin. His call was better than any of mine, which is to say that Matt could hear some of what he said, sometimes. I had to leave a couple of machine messages, which probably sounded like dead air. To all those who know I will have been calling them today: please accept that blank message you got as my heartfelt "Merry Christmas!"

Robin had himself a proper sunstroke yesterday, so he decided to take a break from the sun today. So did I (hmmm. Not the sunstroke part - just the taking a break part!). I didn't get to sleep until 1:00 a.m., and we were up just after 7:00, so I've spent part of the day reading, part napping. We did, though, cycle up to the top of the beach, looking unsuccessfully for TJ and Kris, who saw us leave. They had been snorkeling one bay over from where we were looking. While we were there, we had our usual coffee and fruit at the Restaurant Whose Name Nobody Can Ever Remember. (Mr. Something) We were going to check out the Starbucks-like place a little farther up - Loony Bean, I think it's called - but it was closed for the holiday.

Now, Robin's good intentions seem to have evaporated. He disappeared to the beach about an hour ago. It's late enough in the day, though, that the sun isn't too strong. In half an hour or so, I'll follow him, so that we can watch the sunset together.

We did invite TJ and Kris to join us for Christmas dinner, but they had made other plans, so we'll just have to think of something else to celebrate with them some other night - not New Year's Eve. They have a lot of old friends here, and something tells me they already have a party in the works. Our movie night was fun. A River Runs Through It was slow but (and?) comforting. Robin surprised me by staying awake. I figured his sunstroke would have him nodding off during the first half hour. Maybe the cool evening breeze helped.

So once again, Merry Christmas to all those dear to us but not nearly near enough. We miss you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This post is in two parts: the first was posted first thing this morning, when I was overcome with guilt for not having posted yesterday. The second is what I'm about to post, near the end of the day.

First, guilty post:

Oops. I confess. I did have wi-fi yesterday. I just got busy, and then I was too pooped to post. We walked to the end of the beach in the morning, then went for coffee -but I really just wanted a nap. I think it was because there had been no breeze at all during the night, so neither of us had slept well. It wasn't all that hot - just muggy.

So anyway, I did take a nap, but not until I got home. Afterward, I made some fresh salsa, cooked a batch of beans, then took my Amy Tan book to the outdoor common room that overlooks the ocean and read for a while while Robin surfed the internet.

TJ and Kris came by and said they were going to go play bingo at Las Torres. Did we want to join them? I said I would check with R and maybe join them later. Well, he didn't have any interest, but I decided to go anyway. I walked and walked and walked, finally found the building and the bingo game, but no TJ and Kris. It turned out that they had missed their bus (Duh. I could have taken the bus) and ended up going somewhere else altogether. I came home, footsore but pleased that I had truly gotten enough exercise, for once. The four of us went out to the beach to watch the sun set, then came back here for the cocktail hour.

The only real excitement came when the police came looking for our landlord - a truck and a couple of flashing cars, complete with several gun-toting officers. Alfredo was still here last night, so I don't know what the police wanted with him, and I missed the whole episode. It must have happened during my nap.

As it's Christmas Eve, we're planning to have a movie party tonight. I have to make more salsa - and I promised Robin I'd go swimming with him today.

Second, more relaxed post:

I didn't go swimming, as it happened, but Robin did. He and JT and Kris all took turns on the kayak, and both the men snorkeled a bit. I stayed ankle-deep in the sea, using Kris's camera to take pictures of the three of them. She is going to send me copies of some of the photos (hers and mine) to post here. Wading seems to be enough for me, at the moment. It's just as well. Yesterday, Robin went out for an hour and a half, with no ill effects. Today, he wasn't in the water nearly as long, and he made himself sick - not to mention sunburned. I think JT and Kris may have experienced something similar, because they slept all afternoon, only surfacing a few minutes ago (after dark). I, on the other hand, had a bit of a nap this afternoon, then got up and went to Soriana, the closest of the big supermarkets.

My intention was to take a bus to the market, then taxi home. I got out to the street just in time to see a bus go by, so I strolled on down the street as far as the next big block of condos. I turned to look for a bus, and just then a woman came out. I think she works on the property. We had been chatting for a couple of minutes, and she had been advising me which bus to catch for Soriana, when a friend of hers drove out of the complex and offered her a ride. She told him where I was going, and he offered me a ride too. So I piled into the car with Veronica and Ernesto, and off we went. Veronica spoke no English at all, which was great. That meant that we could carry on our conversation in Spanish, and I couldn't cheat. It went quite well. Veronica got off at her house, and Ernesto took me the three or four blocks further, to Soriana. Nice people.

I did my shopping, then grabbed a taxi home, as planned. When we got to Mar-a-Villas, the front gate was closed, which was a little disturbing, but it turned out that Happy Hour was in progress on the upper level (It's another world up there. The RVs are huge).

So I got out of the cab, went to the next hole in the hedge, stepped over a chain, and sneaked into the park by the back door.

I brought home a roasted chicken, some potatoes, a pineapple upside-down cake, and a liter of ice cream. We are hoping that TJ and Kris will join us for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Meanwhile, the TV and VCR are set up outside, and there are totopos (tortilla chips) and guacamole out there, ready for Christmas Eve Movie Night in Mazatlan. I understand we're going to see A River Runs Through It. It's JT and Kris's movie. I hope they haven't seen it too often. Robin and I have never seen it at all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22, 2008

Tea and croissants. Norah Jones singing "Come Away With Me", courtesy of You Tube. This is just what I need.

Early this morning, I set my pedometer to zero, and R and I walked to the top end of the beach. I touched the rock under the Playa Bruja sign. My pedometer read 2,625 steps. Then we went to the cafe at the top of the stairs and had coffee. It came with a complimentary plate of fruit - a little each of pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, lime. Delicious. We retraced our steps, came back to the RV. My pedometer read just over 3,000 steps. Hey! I bin robbed! Either that, or the trip home really is shorter.

About noon, we took the Juarez bus (with TJ and Kris) to a new supermarket called Mega. It is all of that. I think I got in two days' worth of walking, just trying to find a roasted chicken. It turned out that there weren't any ready, and there wouldn't be any for two hours. So R and I got really brave and bought a slice of (cooked) stuffed pork to share. There were samples set out, and they tasted yummy - so there's dinner. We'll have that with a big salad. Robin decided I shouldn't cook, because it would heat up the rv. I did notice that in the fresh fish department, there was a sign indicating that if we bought a fish, they would fry it for us, for free. Maybe the next time we go shopping, we'll take advantage of that offer. The fish looked very good. But, but - what am I going to do with this bunch of fresh bay leaves I've bought, or the sample of mole I want to try with chicken?

I've now cleaned the fruit and vegetables, and I'm seriously considering a siesta. Robin has gone wading, or maybe swimming. Kris has borrowed my bike and gone for a ride. I'm on my own.

Well. That was about an hour and a half ago. R turned up at the door, wet and very pleased with his adventure. I became completely obsessed with making a "Female Vocalists" playlist on YouTube. I discovered a new singer for my Favourites list. Her name is Katie Melua, and she is apparently Huge in the UK, according to whoever posted her videos. I can understand it. Some of the videos are bizarre, but I love her voice.

So that's how we find ourselves saying Omigod where did the day go?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice! December 21, 2008

At last, at last, we are in Mazatlan, at Mar-a-Villas RV Park, and Cesar, the wi-fi provider, has just been here to set us up.

I'll just post what I wrote last night and earlier this evening, to catch you up.

December 20, 2008

Well, it wasn't positively the worst day's drive we've ever experienced, but it wasn't great. In the morning we went up the road in San Carlos to buy gasoline, then turned around and drove to the opposite edge of town, where we waited for TJ and Kris to meet us.

Somehow, I had got my wires crossed. I thought we would be going back to Totonaka to meet TJ, and I left without even saying good-bye to Colleen and Wade. Now I feel guilty. When we get wi-fi again, I must get in touch with Colleen, who is a sweetheart.

Just after 9 a.m., we left San Carlos and drove through Guaymas toward Los Mochis. I started the drive, so that Robin wouldn't have to be behind the wheel when we were in Guaymas. That was just as well. He nearly passed out, as it was, when somebody came screaming around us on the right and cut in front of us in the middle of a left turn. It's odd. I will do any amount of that kind of driving, and happily leave it to him to drive down the highway with no shoulder, buses passing and making our whole rig shudder – or worse, to drive mountain roads. No way. Give me a nice, chaotic city any day. Well, most days.

Anyway, we got through Guaymas without hitting anything, and we were on our way. The day went pretty well for a long time. The landscape grew greener and the temperature rose a little. Then came the trouble. We were 70 kilometers from Los Mochis when suddenly we were on a two-lane parking lot. We could see the line of vehicles stretched out in front of us – endlessly, it seemed – but we couldn't discern any reason for the holdup. Maybe an hour later, we went through an agricultural inspection station, but the inspectors weren't actually stopping anybody, so that wasn't it. We had had such high hopes, that when we emerged from the other side of the station, only to see the ribbon of vehicles still in front of us, still stopping, then moving a car length forward, then stopping.....we despaired. Soon, though, our speed increased to maybe 10 km. per hour, and after 4 kilometers and one and a half hours, we finally arrived at a military checkpoint where a couple of dozen soldiers stood chatting at the sides of the road, pulling a few people over, waving the rest of us on. Once past the soldiers, we started traveling at highway speed.

When we arrived in Los Mochis, we followed the directions in Mike and Terri Church's book, and we would have had no problem finding the only RV park, if only there hadn't been a bus parked right in front of the sign saying we had to go onto the service road – so we found a place to turn around, drove back to the highway, and followed our noses back to the park.

I'll note right now,so that I remember to post it to, that there are three Rvs here at Copper Canyon RV Park – ours (Canadian), TJ and Kris's (U.S.), and another unit that came from San Carlos today (U.S.). It was 22C (72F) when we arrived just before 5:00 p.m.

I should also note, in case anybody happens upon this blog and says “Gee, maybe we should check out Los Mochis as a holiday destination....”

Don't. It'll do for the night, but the RV park is right beside the highway, it's very noisy, and it's basically a parking lot with electrical outlets and faucets. We'll be booting it for Mazatlan first thing in the morning. I'm campaigning to stay at Mar-a-Villas again, as I thought it was completely charming, but Robin wants to try the place at the end of the road, that was just under construction when we were in Mazatlan last. That place would have the advantage of being very close to where the fishermen bring their catch to sell. We'll see.

December 21

We're in Mazatlan, after an eight-hour journey from Los Mochis.

That's enough of those eight-hour drives.

The RV park in Los Mochis was all it promised to be, and more. There were numerous sounds like gunshots during the evening, which we found out this morning were firecrackers. I guess throwing firecrackers from passing cars is a holiday tradition in Los Mochis.

I ignored the gunshots and turned the tv on. Oddly enough, we had reception, even though we had no cable or antenna. I was able to pull in four channels. I chose to watch “The Santa Clause” in Spanish. Then I hooked up the DVD player and watched “As Good As It Gets” in English. Then I was just exhausted, so I settled in to sleep.

Come midnight, the loveliest tenor started to sing. I'm not sure where he was. He was accompanied by a guitar, and he sang what sounded like traditional Mexican songs. Sometimes his voice was amplified, and sometimes it wasn't. Honestly, I would probably have enjoyed the concert if it hadn't taken place between midnight and 3 a.m., if I hadn't been sitting beside a freeway, assaulted by the sound of engine brakes and all the other noises that highways bring, and if I hadn't been totally exhausted and needing to be alert in the morning (for the coming eight-hour drive). However, as it was, I was not amused.

So, I did get to sleep eventually, and I woke up bright and early. That was because of the roosters. There were dozens of chickens wandering around, and some of them were of the Crowing to Bring in the Day variety. Again, under other circumstances, I would have been charmed.

Anyway, we headed out at 9 o'clock. I was driving. For the first time (and the last, I hope), I took a corner too sharply in my rush to get across four lanes of traffic and turn left toward Mazatlan, and I put the wheels over the curb of the median. Dishes flew out of the cupboard, and a couple of them broke. There goes my reputation.

I hoped we would be able to stop for a few minutes at El Quelite, so that I could show the village to Kris, but by the time we got that far (only 30 kilometers from Mazatlan), I had to agree with Robin that getting to the RV park sounded much better. We checked out the new park, the one that was being built when we were here last, but it didn't appeal – too parking lottish for me – so we came back to Mar-a-Villas, which is just as charming as it was before. I haven't seen Alfredo, the owner, yet, but presumably he'll notice us here some time soon and come to collect the rent. Meanwhile, Robin has cycled off to the corner store for some soda, and I'm supposed to be starting dinner. The man who lived in the upper part of the park and had wi-fi is no longer here, so I've had to call a number about getting officially hooked up. I hope that happens soon, as I feel dreadfully out of touch..

Meanwhile, though, I've opened the skylight so I can look up through the bamboo and the palm fronds at the night sky.

Friday, December 19, 2008


This is absolutely the most frustrating thing. I bought a cell phone from Telcel, then set about trying to find out how friends and family can reach me from Canada and the U.S. Well, it seems that they have to start with 011, then 52 (the country code for Mexico), then 1, which signifies that they're calling a cell phone, then the area code and phone number. Maybe.

Or maybe they have to dial 011, then 45, which apparently is the code for a Mexican cell phone, then the area code and phone number.

Or, since neither of those things seems to work, maybe they have to do something else entirely.

My poor daughter has been patiently trying to get through to me, to no avail. At the same time, my wi-fi connection is being a bit squirrely, so talking on Skype is not going all that well, either.

The one positive thing is that if we ever do manage to make a connection, it seems that as long as I'm on the receiving end of the call, I won't be charged 15 pesos a minute - won't be charged at all, actually. I don't think it will cost much for the callers, either, what with all those wonderful long-distance packages we have these days. In that respect, it's like my English cell phone. I wasn't charged for incoming calls there, either - but the cost of outgoing calls was much lower. How about that? I have something positive to say about the English phone system!

Well, it was at that point in the endless effort that I realized I had made a mistake. The last digit in my phone # is a 7, but here in Mexico the number 7 is crossed, and the sales clerk had written the number on a nearly transparent piece of masking tape, which she then affixed to the back of the phone - so when I read out the number at the beginning of the conversation, I read the 7 as a 9. Some guy in Mexico is now trying to figure out who the hell was calling him. Anyway, we finally worked it out. Here's the drill.

To call a Mexican cell phone (mine, anyway) from Canada or the U.S., you dial

011-52-1 followed by the ten-digit phone number

That's a relief. I was beginning to think I had bought the phone for nothing. I just checked my balance, and it looks as if receiving the call cost me 2 pesos 30 centavos, or else that's what it's costing me to keep going in and checking my balance. Not much, anyway - the equivalent of about 20 cents. I can live with that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Proud of myself!

I went into Guaymas today - just as far as Ley. Maria told me that the best place to buy a cell phone was at a little Telcel shop across from the Ley mall, so that's where I went. I bought a cell phone and some minutes (not enough, I fear. It sounds as if using the cell phone will be an expensive proposition, though not as expensive as using my Canadian phone here. Time will tell.)

Phone safely tucked in purse, I walked to the mall and down the hall to Keops, where I ordered a mocha and sat in a comfortable chair while I drank the mocha and programmed some numbers into the phone. The cafe has been redecorated since last year, and it's quite attractive.

After that, I did some window shopping, then went into Ley, where I bought a blouse and some groceries, chatting with several customers along the way. I caught the bus home, about 2 1/2 or 3 hours after I set out, and I hadn't spoken a word of English in the interim. I imagine that some of the Spanish I spoke was pretty comical, but I seldom resorted to sign language. I'm very pleased with that.

First thing this morning, I went over to Jeane and Charles's place for coffee and a chat. They'll be coming here for tea tomorrow. Jeane has been experimenting with new painting techniques this year, branching out into acrylics.

I was able to attend Maria's cooking class again - for a refresher course on salsas. She keeps introducing me to the new students as an expert, which is just hilarious. I keep going to the classes just because it's a chance to talk to Maria!

More good news: It seems that quite possibly we've got ourselves a convoy. Our neighbours to the left (Wade and Colleen) and to the right (T.J. and Kris) are pondering the idea of joining us on our trip south. I hope they decide to do that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Second Post of the Day!

This has turned into a real hang-around-the-house sort of day. It's been raining, off and on - never the way it rains in B.C. (torrentially), but hard enough to make a long walk on the beach less than attractive. I've been watching television, scrubbing the floor with as little water as possible, and waiting for the park's water to be turned on. The city turned the water off yesterday morning, and they were supposed to turn it on again at noon today. Hmmm. 4:15 p.m. and counting. We made sure our tank was full beforehand, and we bought an extra 5-gallon jug of drinking water, so we're good for a couple of days, if need be. I would like to see the water turned back on, though, so that I can relax. Robin has to shower on board now, as the park's showers are not working. I'm glad he installed the hand-held shower. It's proving its worth now.

This morning, before the rain, we did ride our bikes to the lagoon. We took our usual route, because it had dried out and was much more comfortable (R rode over there yesterday with Wade). This time, as we arrived at the beach, Robin's handlebars came loose. Of course, we hadn't got around to buying an Allen key yet. Fortunately, R remembered that there were some Canadians boondocking not far up the road, and he was able to ride that far. Sure enough, being boondockers, they had a full supply of tools, including an Allen key, so they tightened his handlebars and we went on our way. Robin rode up the street to the marina a while ago. I must ask him whether he bought an Allen key along the way.

Aha! Robin just came in to say that the water has been restored. First job: Fill the tank back up. You never know.

Dick and Mary, who were in the spot behind ours for the last couple of days, have headed south. Before they left, they gave us some tips respecting places to stay around Puerto Vallarta. I hope we meet them again.
Yesterday afternoon, when I would ordinarily have been sitting here, posting to my journal, I was at Ley, the supermarket at the edge of Guaymas. That was the last part of our outing. I decided it was high time that Robin visited downtown Guaymas and checked out the public market. We caught the bus - somehow we got the one with too many seats in it, and I slipped into a seat that had a hump under it. The upshot of that was that I rode into Guaymas with my knees right up against the metal back of the seat in front of mine. Ordinarily, I enjoy that careening trip, but this time all I could think about was what would happen to my knees if we were involved in an accident. However, we made it safely downtown. We went past the market to the Plaza of Three Presidents, and walked back from there via the Kiosko, the public square where hundreds of families were lined up to get a chance to talk to Santa Claus. The whole area around the Plaza was ripped up. Guaymas has started welcoming cruise ships, so the city is in a decorating frenzy. They are cleaning up the streets, planting flowers, generally getting spruced up. I'm sure it will be lovely when it's finished, but right now there's a sort of bomb crater look to the place.

We picked our way back to the market, where I bought Brendan's molcajete and then made my way to my favourite vendor. She was as sweet as ever, and I enjoyed talking to her for a couple of minutes. She teased Robin, telling him he was very serious. She was right. I was so pleased to be there, I hadn't noticed that Robin was not.impressed. I guess the market is a girl thing.

So we went to the bus stop where I always catch the bus back to San Carlos, and we sat there for about ten minutes. At that point, I began to suspect that the buses had changed their route since last year. Not a single bus came to the stop, although many buses passed going the other way, and we saw a San Carlos bus on a cross street. Accordingly, we flagged a taxi and rode to Ley.

I had planned to look for a cell phone, but there were several competing vendors and hundreds of options, so I decided to wait until I can ask advice of Silvano (in the Totonaka office) or Maria as to which would be the best way to proceed. I'll talk to Silvano today.

After we shopped, we went outside and saw the San Carlos bus pulling up to the bus stop - so we took off at a run, caught the bus, and rode home. It was the same bus we had taken to go to town. We sat on the bench seat at the back of the bus. It provided more leg room. Of course, it also made for a very bumpy ride.

What can I say? We were tired last night.

Now we are making plans for the next leg of our trip. We will leave Saturday for Puerto Vallarta via Mazatlan. If I remember correctly, we stopped for the night on the way to Mazatlan. I'll have to go through my journal from that year, to remind myself where we stayed.

At this point, I think we're going to be retreating from cold weather. There's a major storm warning out for southern Arizona, and that's bound to affect this area as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm glad I bought that beer yesterday, even though it was heavy to carry home. I've decided that a nice bottle of beer is just the thing to drink while I'm updating my journal.

The Yahoo weather panel said that Guaymas would have a high of 22C today. The thermometer on the outside of the rv reads 28, now that Victor has stopped splashing cold water on it, but it's in direct sunlight. The 22C prediction is probably spot on.

Victor showed up around 9:30 this morning (I set up the appointment when we checked in) and started hauling buckets of water up to the roof. He took an hour off for lunch, but otherwise he's been at it all day, scrubbing and rinsing and, now, waxing. Victor does a splendid job. I keep him supplied with coffee, which he drinks as he works. He won't sit down. I gather he would be in trouble with park management if he did.

A little while ago, I walked up the street to the bank (about twice as far as the grocery store – so I'm doing okay) to change my 1000 peso note. Not many vendors in these parts can handle a 1000 peso note, but when you buy pesos in Canada, you always seem to end up with them. I took care of that, then stopped outside the bank because Alejandro was there with his truck. I had met Alejandro before. We've bought vegetables and fruit from him in years past, always over at Condominios Pilar, the development right next to the lagoon. I was pleased to see him in town, and I bought some prawns from him. They were frozen, so I figured I could get them home safely, even on foot. Before I made the purchase, though, he and I had a long and pleasant chat. He told me I need to speak Spanish more often. I agree. We did most of our talking in Spanish, but sometimes I just couldn't manage, and he came to my rescue. I need to be stranded in a totally Spanish-speaking environment for a month or so.

By the way, I discovered yesterday that I could make a personalized Google map and mark our route on it, so I did that. It's at the top of my Links list over on the right.

I did plan to take the bus into town today, to visit the market, but that's because I had forgotten about Victor's coming. Tomorrow is the day that Maria teaches her Spanish class, so I'll stay home for the morning in order to see her. I'll go into town either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning, in search of Brendan's molcajete – and to visit my favourite lady at the market - oh, and to have fish tacos at the little place next to the tortilleria. Hmmm. A trip to town is sounding better and better.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Such an interesting day. We decided last night that we would cycle to the lagoon this morning, so away we went. Things were pretty much as we remembered, out on the highway - a new mini-mall going up, another building missing - but when we turned off to go down the dirt/gravel/mud/sand shortcut that we always take, we found that it was much more damp than usual; some of the sand traps had been spread out, so they were larger in area, if not as deep. There was a whole new lagoon off to our right. I guess the sea dug itself a new channel while we were away. Robin had a more difficult time than usual, threatened to wipe out a few times. I dismounted and walked my bike through the worst of it, as always.

As we arrived at the parking lot where we leave our bikes, I noticed that my brake levers were really high on the handlebars. It turned out that my handlebars were coming loose. I shrugged, figured I would deal with it when we got home. We spent a pleasant few minutes sitting on the stone wall at the top of the beach. I put my faux-crocs on and went for a walk in the surf. There were no dolphins today, unfortunately. In general, there have been fewer birds than we're used to seeing - and now no dolphins. Maybe all the wildlife around here is migratory, like us.

We decided to use the main road to come home. It's longer, but it's paved all the way. I got about the equivalent of two blocks along the road when my handlebars got really loose. They were turning forward and back - and slipping sideways as well. Riding was not an option. I managed to get hold of one of the brakes and brought myself to a stop without falling over. Robin offered to try to ride my bike, as he's more competent at it, but he couldn't hang on, either. He decided to ride his bike up to the highway and try to flag down somebody with a truck, while I continued walking with my bike. So that's what we did. I had nearly made it back to the highway when R appeared, waving to me from the bed of a pickup truck driven by a young man who had two small children in the cab. We piled my bike into the truck alongside Robin's, I climbed aboard, and we came bumpity-bumpity back to Totonaka, where Wade, our next door neighbour, tightened the handlebars with an Allen key (the one item not in our toolbox, of course). Anyway, all's well.

This led to my getting acquainted with Wade and his wife, Colleen, who live in Newfoundland. Lovely people.

Later, I decided that I needed a bit more exercise, so I donned my hat and backpack and set off for a walk. I walked to the store that carries oodles of lovely earrings, and I bought myself a pair (70 pesos). They are silver, dangly, shaped like flowers, with mother-of-pearl inlaid in the 'petals'. I met Robin along the way (he had cycled to the marina), and he suggested I pick up some eggs and lunch meat from the grocery store, so I stopped there on my way home. By that time, I was footsore (I really am out of shape!) and very warm, so before I left the store, I bought a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer. In bottles. It doesn't appear to come in cans. The upshot of that was that by the time I got home, I really, really needed a beer. So much for burning calories by walking! About a block from Totonaka, I noticed two vultures circling overhead. They must have been so disappointed when I turned in at the park and didn't actually expire at the side of the road.

Now, exercised and 'watered', I want a nap.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

San Carlos, Sonora

So I've spent so much time today catching up on my discussion boards, I've forgotten to post to my journal.

Fact is, we arrived in San Carlos last night at about 7:30, after a long day's driving. We left Ajo at about 9:00 in the morning, but what with a couple of errands to run, it was about 10:30 when we crossed the border. This was an odd border crossing. There was no wait, and nobody even asked us any questions or asked for our passports. When we got to the 23? km. checkpoint, we went in and got our six-month tourist visas. The officer noted that it had been about a year since we came to Mexico last, and he was pleased with that. He stamped our forms and our passports, told us to go next door to the "bank" (a single teller's window inside a big room devoted to something else - customs inspections?) to pay our $21 U.S. each. We did that and then drove up to the inspection point. The people there just waved us through. Sheesh.

One of the first things I noticed in Mexico were the starving dogs. I don't think I'll ever get used to that.

We drove and drove and drove. Eventually (after we got through Hermosillo, fortunately) the sun went down and we did the last 1 1/2 or 2 hours in the dark, but pursued by an absolutely enormous full moon. R was driving. I was watching the moon in his rearview mirror. I don't like traveling at night,in part because I can't see a damned thing - that's why I've told R that if he wants to travel at night, he's driving. Also, particularly in Mexico, there is the problem of livestock wandering out onto the road. It can be scary. This time, though, there were no cows or donkeys or horses in the way - there was a lot of traffic, so I imagine the animals were giving the road a wide berth. We pulled into the Totonaka lot, stopped to say hello to Henry, the night watchman, found a site, and within ten minutes we were settled in.

This morning, when the office opened, I walked in and was pleased to see Silvano's face light up. "Sandra! It's good to see you!" I'm so easy to please. I paid for a week (and an RV wash), because R wants to go south for a while. I'm going to check the price of flights from Hermosillo to Cancun, because we hear that the price of gas is now higher here in Mexico than in the U.S. We didn't need to fuel up yesterday (I think there was a teaspoon of gasoline in the tank when we arrived), so we don't know for sure. If the price of a flight to Cancun is even remotely comparable to the cost of driving down (including rv parks, food, fuel), then I'm going to lobby for leaving the rv here, where it would be perfectly safe, flying down to Cancun for a week or two, then coming back "home". That's probably wishful thinking, but I'm going to check it out, anyway.

After we checked in properly, we rode our bikes up the street to Tony's, bought vegetables and fruit - and a pile of fish. R rode home with that stuff while I went across the street to buy tortillas and other staples, then followed him home with my backpack full to bursting. I've now made a batch of beans, and tomorrow I'll make some pico de gallo to serve with them.

Oh, and we did the laundry. Finally. Tomorrow, we will ride our bikes to the lagoon, and we will not do any chores.

Life is good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ajo, Arizona

We arrived at La Siesta Motel yesterday, at four in the afternoon. Before we took our place in the park, we drove down to the IGA and bought the makings for dinner. Now we're settled in until tomorrow, when we will drive on to San Carlos. It was a pleasure to have Trent and Monica, whom we remember from last year and the year before, come up to greet us. If for some reason we could not go on to Mexico, I sometimes think we could happily spend the winter in Ajo. Maybe not, though. It's pleasant, but I'm afraid we would run out of things to do.

Robin braved the hot tub last night after dinner, but I just couldn't bring myself to walk two minutes in the cold in my bathing suit, just to jump into hot water, soak for a few minutes, then walk two minutes – wet – in the cold to get home. I am such a wimp. I steeled myself to do it this morning, after the sun was up and the temperature was a little more comfortable. Apparently, the heat in the hot tub is on a timer, because the water was warm, not hot. I settled in with my book, keeping it as dry as possible under the circumstances. After about fifteen minutes, I noticed that the water was considerably warmer than it had been. Come this afternoon, I'll bet the swimming pool will be just lovely.

Today, we have plenty to do. Robin has already taken a bicycle ride to the insurance agency, to buy our Mexican auto insurance – and I want to walk around downtown, video camera in hand, to make a little travelogue. So far, I've managed to make breakfast and clean up, try unsuccessfully to get the wi-fi to work, and have a cup of tea with Marjorie. I'll have to go over to the clubhouse to post this, I guess.

Oh, I did find time in my schedule to read the Copper Daily News, the local paper. It features a Sheriff's Log, which made me think it would be rather scary to live in a town this small. There were two little filler articles in the paper that interested me, both with a seasonal theme. One traced the words of The Twelve Days of Christmas to England in 1780 and the tune to France. The article concluded: "It has no religious significance but is thought by some to have been a game to help children improve their memories." The other snippet regarded the word "Yule". I'll quote it in full, as it's very short:

"The cry 'Yollen' was heard following the winter solstice. The happy cry was heard upon the discovery that they days were getting longer. The Yule log was brought into the home for heat and warmth and became a traditional part of English, French, German, and Slavic Christmas celebrations. It remained so until the 19th century."

Surely the log would have been more useful before the solstice than after, what with the long nights. It's a funny little snippet - just enough information to be intriguing, not enough to be enlightening, as it were.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"That's better!" exclaimed Robin as we escaped the dreary environs of Bakersfield and emerged into the California wilderness. As the morning progressed, the landscape became ever more beautiful. When we saw the Tejon Ranch near Tehachapi, both of us wondered how - and why - we had never come this way before. It was just stunning. I found a reference to it on Google - but we saw none of the development, just hills and valleys studded with trees. I was sorely tempted to get out of the motor home and start hiking. Not knowing, at the time, who owned the land, I thought better of it.

Their website is at

I laughed, though, when Robin said "How do you pronounce that word?"
"What word?"
"English people don't say words like Tehachapi!"

I refrained from reminding him that English people do say words like Mousehole (pr. MAUzle) and Worcestershire.

By the way, for the uninitiated, Tehachapi is Teh-HATCH-uh-pee.

The day got warmer and sunnier - topping out at just over twenty degrees. California went on and on and on, but in a much more pleasant fashion today. The wind was high at several points, which is probably why there were two huge wind farms along our route. I realized as I watched the turbines turn that they remind me of pinwheels. I would like to see just one wind farm where the "pinwheels" are painted red and blue and yellow.

We did hope to get to Arizona today, but that was not to be. We decided to stop in Blythe, CA, as it would have been eight hours from our departure. So we got to Blythe, only to discover that there are no RV parks here. A gas station attendant directed us five miles out of town to McIntyre's RV Park. When we finally got there, we found it to be a state park that wanted $35 for a spot with electricity and water. Presumably we had to find the spot on our own, in the dark, as there was nobody on duty at the booth. So we turned around, drove back to Blythe, and checked into a motel. Now, looking online, I see that McIntyre's is actually private. It just looked like a state park in the dark.

So here we are, all snug for the night. R is watching tv in the motel room while I blog. Tomorrow, we are determined to get to Ajo, AZ. As a matter of fact, I'm going to call them and make a reservation. Now that's positive thinking.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bakersfield, CA

California is big. Really, really big. R says it's as big as the UK, and I believe him. We started out in Corning this morning at 8:30, and we arrived here in Bakersfield at about 4:00. We've still got a whole lot of California to traverse tomorrow, but meanwhile we're nicely situated at something called the River Run RV Park. We saw the sign from Hwy. 99, but we had quite a time actually getting to the park. There was no sign at the side of the freeway reading "This Exit" or such - just the big lighted sign on the grounds. So we took the next exit, doubled back, turned in, and found ourselves in a maze of hotels - Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Red Lion Inn. It took about ten minutes to sort out which little road would actually bring us to the park, rather than leading us in circles around the various hotels. Never mind. We'll know next time. We like this place, and it's on our route. $28 gets us full service (except the wi-fi failed a few minutes ago. I told the computer to repair it, and all seems to be well now).

There's even a hot tub on the grounds - and a swimming pool, not that anybody would consider using it. It's cold here. I swear it's colder than Canada.

Anyway, when we were in Corning we had no wi-fi, so I wrote the following for later posting:


Corning, California

By the time you read this, we're no longer in Corning, but that's where we fetched up on Sunday. I'm sorry to say we drove right by the Olive Pit, looking for a suitable place to spend the night. We ended up at an RV park adjacent to the Rolling Hills Casino. It isn't actually affiliated with the casino, and it doesn't have much in the way of amenities, which is why I've written this entry without benefit of wi-fi. However, we had had enough driving for the day, the price was not bad, and a stroll to the casino sounded like a good idea. It wasn't, really, except that we got a little exercise. It was a chilly stroll, and we donated $17 to California's gambling industry.

When we arrived in Corning at around four in the afternoon, it was about 12 degrees out, and getting quickly foggy – quite a change from the sunshine we had experienced all day. By the time we prepared and ate dinner, cleaned up, and sauntered out, it was definitely fleecy vest weather. I'm very glad that the good weather held long enough for us to get over the mountain passes. They were easy-peasy this time.

The best part of the day was shortly after we came into California. Robin was driving. I managed to stay awake until we got over the border, but then I dozed off. When I woke up, Mt. Shasta was shining in the sunlight to my left. It was fabulous.


So that was Corning. Apart from our little park, Bakersfield is very ugly, as far as I can tell, so we won't be hanging around tomorrow. We'll head southeast in the morning. In all likelihood we'll end up somewhere near Phoenix tomorrow night, if we're lucky. I hope it's warmer there.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sutherlin, Oregon

We stopped here last year, when we had to go around all the mountains and down the coast due to snow. This time, we drove down from Port Townsend - eight hours - in dry weather. From the beginning of the drive, we could see sunny sky in the distance, and by the afternoon, we were lowering the visors and holding our hands up to protect our eyes from the blinding sun. I've checked the highway conditions at Grants Pass and the Siskyou, and all appears clear up ahead - barring a sudden change of weather overnight. Oh, well, if that should happen, at least we're on the right road to connect to Hwy. 101 again. I think we'll be okay, though. It's December - not January, like last time.

Our visit with AM and AS was great fun. They kindly took us out to dinner last night. Then, ingrate that I am, I beat them at UpWords (just so it's on the record). This morning, While Robin slept in, they served me eggs, grits, toast, and fruit salad. I'm thoroughly spoiled.

I'm also thoroughly beat. Good night, all.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Happily settled in now in Burnaby, playing with grandchildren, forgetting all about the Very Long Day we had. I wrote this on the ferry:

Here we are at last, on the 12:30 sailing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay. We arrived at the terminal at 9:30 this morning, in plenty of time for the 10:30 sailing, but when that boat arrived it had a leaky water pipe. BC Ferries engineers tried to fix it, but they became concerned that there might be contamination by black water, so they cancelled the sailing and we sat here in the line-up, waiting for the 12:30.

We had both been looking forward to brunch on the ferry, and we were quite hungry, so we went inside the new mini-mall. I think it's called Nanaimo Quay. Anyway, when we got inside we discovered that BC Ferries obviously hadn't expected many people to be hanging around in there. It was very crowded. Food opportunities consisted of Starbucks, a pizza-by-the-slice place, and Frankie's BBQ. We opted for hot dogs from Frankie's. After “brunch”, we returned to the Turtle and played rummy until it was time to board.

We got just a little snarly when the man directing traffic onto the boat stopped us and made us wait while all the cars loaded, including the ones that had arrived for the 12:30 sailing. However, we did get on, and I believe we're under way – though it's hard to tell from inside the motor home, on the lowest deck, up against an interior wall. There's lots of engine noise, for sure. I woke up at 4:15 this morning, so I'm really not feeling up to climbing all the stairs to the passenger deck. Maybe a nap first, then upstairs for a cup of tea.

Some time before noon, I called Jane to tell her my tale of woe, and she said “This, too, shall pass.” She was right.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Today, we bought our out-of-province medical insurance, the price of which seems to have skyrocketed. I asked the woman at BCAA how many days of U.S. travel we were allowed (I seemed to recall that we were allowed five days in each direction without having to pay the outrageous U.S. price for the whole policy - in this case, 4 months). She said the rules have changed, and now we get Whole World Coverage - which includes the U.S. That will explain the high cost. Why don't the rules ever change so that things get cheaper?

We pretty well finished loading the Turtle. I considered sleeping out there tonight, so that I could make sure I had everything I needed, but I've changed my mind. It's too far to walk, all the way to the front yard. Tired, I am.

Robin is properly sick now. I hope he's better by morning.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I went out and paid my bills ahead today, so that I don't have to worry about remembering to do it when it's 25 degrees outside and the sun is shining and the dolphins are swimming by as I sit basking at the estuary. Sigh.

I also went to Best Buy and bought my first memory stick - a 4 gig model about the size of a lipstick. I copied several stories from the Documents folder of my old laptop to the stick. When I want to print something, I can just plug the stick into Robin's laptop and print, as his laptop will be the one connected to the printer. Am I mistaken, or is there more memory in the stick than in the computer itself? I'll have to look that up. The 2 gig was $10, and the 4 gig was $12, so I threw economy to the wind and bought the 4. I think I could put a whole book on it. My little purse /computer case is getting full.

In between excursions, we started packing the Turtle in earnest. This is not my favourite part. Less playing house, more slogging.

But the very best thing is that YouTube now allows me to put a video bar in my blog . Very cool. I've tested it by putting up a few clips we took in Cornwall last year, but when we get underway on this trip, I'll start a new playlist called The Turtle and post our videos from the Mexican adventure there. It's over there------------------> and down a bit. You can't miss it. It seems to wander off my channel, then come back after a minute or so. When I have more videos to show, maybe it will stay with me.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I´ve still got my cold, and it´s bringing back memories of last year´s trip, when I really shouldn't have been traveling. This time, I'm not leaving until I feel well, period. That makes for much more efficient packing - and a more enjoyable journey. At least I don't have a fever this time.

Today I cleaned out the Turtle's medicine cabinet and the bathroom (linen) cupboard. Robin has installed a hand-held shower for me, which should save a lot of water. I spent a couple of minutes admiring that. I also made a foray into the dish cupboard. I see that several plates have wandered into the house, so tomorrow I'll make a more thorough inventory to make sure we take enough dishes. We've packed an enormous amount of curry powder and garam masala, so I guess our Indian food supply is a done deal.

My new laptop is so compact, I'm able to carry it in a soft purse, along with its accessories, and store it in the "electronic paraphernalia" cupboard. I went through the huge tangle of wires in there, and found that with a little judicious tossing, I could make the cupboard almost neat. I can get rid of the webcam, as I now have one built in.

There's shopping to do in the next few days - and I have an appointment tomorrow to have my hair cut - but I think the biggest job is to work out an arrangement for clothing storage. I still don't have a handle on that.

I like this period, the "three more sleeps" time. There's a certain amount of playing house involved, always.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some things do change. This year, we're heading to Mexico earlier than usual - a week from today, in fact. We'll be making a couple of stops early in the trip, to visit family and friends, but that will still put us in San Carlos by around the 15th of December, nearly a month early. We'll have our Winter Solstice in Mexico this time!

The Plan is to stop in San Carlos for a few days' rest, then head for the Yucatan. We've made that plan before, so I am not making any guarantees, but so far, weather and energy permitting, that's The Plan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We are at home now, having been about three days without wireless, then spending the last two days at home trying to catch up with ourselves.

The last night of the trip, we were in a place called Peppertree RV Park. It was adjacent to a hotel and motel by the same name, and it was somewhere south of Seattle. We were really, really tired, and we remembered that finding an RV park along the I-5 in Washington can be a thankless task, so when we saw this place, we just pulled in. It turned out to be pretty disreputable. It's the only time I can think of when I've felt truly uneasy in a park. We watched "The Neverending Story" on DVD. It wasn't very good, was it? Anyway, we were watching a movie because when Robin tried to hook up the cable outside, it kept sparking, and he decided it wasn't worth the risk. One of the neighbours, a lady with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, a beer in her hand, and a noticeable lack of teeth, came out to check out the excitement.

So we locked the door and settled in. It was dinnertime when we arrived, and I think we were asleep by ten. At 4:30 in the morning, we woke up and pulled out of the park. By 6:00 a.m. we were in the middle of Seattle's rush hour traffic. Does it never slow down there?

We crossed the border not long after 9:00 a.m. The crossing was fun. Robin handed the border guard our passports and said "We're a couple of snowbirds heading home."

"Where have you been?"
"How long have you been gone?"
"Two and a half months."
"Did you bring anything back?"
"Yes, about $100 worth of stuff."
"Any alcohol or tobacco?"
(smiling) "Any illegals back there?"
"Okay, welcome home."

We got to the Tsawwassen ferry in time for the 10:15 sailing, but we had forgotten that it was a holiday (Good Friday), and we had to wait (first in line) for the next sailing - at 12:45. It's lovely to have a motor home in those situations. You make a pot of tea, pour, pull out a deck of cards, and quietly await sailing time - no problem.

As I mentioned, we had been several days without access to the internet - the last night, it wasn't even mentioned. The two nights before, we were supposed to have it, but we couldn't use it. I blogged in Word, and I'll copy here what I wrote:

March 19 - We are at the Medford Oaks RV Park and Cabins, located on Hwy. 140 in Eagle Point, Oregon. That's about fourteen miles east of Medford, I think. After driving in lots of wind today, we fueled up at Klamath Falls (about an hour east of here) and then came over a 5,105 foot summit this evening. There was snow blowing around, and ice. As we approached the summit, some of the stuff started sticking to the road, as well as to the windshield. Fortunately, Robin was driving, and we made it safely over. We set Maggie to the screen that tells us our elevation and speed, and what time it is - a very handy screen, that. I gave Robin elevation updates as we went along, and we both heaved a great sigh of relief when we finally got to the summit. Then I got to give him much happier updates as we came down the other side.

Below 5,000. Still snowing.
Below 4,900. Still snowing - and sleeting.

Somewhere along the way downhill, the snow and sleet turned to rain. Then the road was dry...

Below 1,600. That is the lowest we've been in a long time - since Mexico, actually. Robin had it in mind to get all the way to Sutherlin, Oregon tonight, but that's another three hours or so up the road, and there's no way. We arrived here about 7:15 p.m. We're parked right near the office (and showers and laundry), but I still can't get the wi-fi to work. As soon as I finish my soup, I'm going to take the laptop to the laundry room and wait for our clothes to come out of the dryers. Maybe I can get a connection from there*. From what I can see on my strolls back and forth to the laundry room in the dark, this is a beautiful place. There's a fountain a few feet from us - one of those modern, minimalist slabs. I'll try to take a picture in the morning, weather permitting. I can hear frogs croaking. They're not in the fountain. I think maybe there's a lake behind the trees. There are lots of trees.

You will note we couldn't get a connection at the park in Hawthorne, Nevada, either. That's where we stayed last night. We were supposed to have wi-fi, but we couldn't solve its mysteries. We were at Whiskey Flats, the same place we stayed the last time we took that road. Hawthorne is an odd little place. To its north is a large lake studded with state parks. To the east and southeast the desert is riddled with large burrows, each one topped by a signal light. It seems it's an ammunition dump. There's also an underwater warfare training facility. In the desert.

Tomorrow we'll try to get to the Washington border, unless it snows. If that happens, I'll suggest we stay and enjoy the glories of southern Oregon for a day or so longer. The weather people on NPR said the temperature will be in the 50s for most places, so as long as we get over whatever passes remain during the daytime, we should be fine.

*No, I couldn't get through from the laundry room, either - and it's right next door to the office. I'll send this whenever and from wherever I can.

Did I mention I'd rather be in San Carlos? (Not that the wi-fi was any better!)

Back to the present. Robin just looked out the window and said, "Damn. It's snowing." I'm afraid to look.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sure enough, when we pulled out of the RV park this morning and drove toward the IGA to get some supplies, there was the Whitney rig coming toward us. We all pulled over, I gave Roger back his walkie-talkie, and we exchanged horror stories about yesterday's adventures. I think they were at Pizza Hut in Ajo while we were checking in at La Siesta Motel. They stayed at another park in town. Having reassured ourselves that we were all okay, we parted ways. I think they're headed directly north, to take Terry home to Idaho before they go home.

As for us, scratch Quartzite. We're in Kingman, AZ again, at the terribly expensive KOA campground. Tomorrow we'll go through Las Vegas and try to get to Beatty, NV. Yippee! I can stock up on the best honey I've ever tasted, and both Robin and I can have a dip in the mineral spring.

We gave Maggie her head today, by the way. We keyed in the address of the KOA, selected "shortest distance", and followed Maggie's instructions. She took us down some very interesting roads, but they were all good, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Robin was a little concerned at first, because some of the roads weren't on his map, but he did as he was told, and here we are. I remember that on the way down, Maggie got a little confused once we were south of Gila Bend, so we didn't actually set the co-ordinates until after that. Before next year's trip, I want to get the Mexico chip. I suspect that Maggie really thinks that Ajo is in Mexico, and that's why she gets lost there.
What can I say about yesterday? It certainly didn’t go according to plan, despite the fact that we managed to leave more or less on time. We pulled out of Totonaka just before seven o’clock in the morning – Roger, Chantal and Terry in their vehicle, we in ours. At various points during the day we met them again, including a fuel stop at Altar, where we commiserated about the horrible driving conditions on Hwy. 15, the main north-south highway. It has deteriorated markedly since last year. Driving it is a rattly-bangy experience at best, and there are potholes that are downright scary. We were very, very glad to get to Hwy. 2, which runs more or less east-west just below the American border.

As we traveled north, the weather deteriorated. We had rain, and even some hail, but then the sky cleared again, but it stayed cold. Eight hours after we left San Carlos, which is to say, at 3 p.m., we arrived at Sonoyta, the border town. Robin and I arrived first. It was quite a while before we saw Roger et al in our rear view mirror. They were in the other lane, about ten vehicles back. There was plenty of time to watch for them, as we weren’t going very fast. Robin and I try to switch drivers every hour, so we continued to do that in Sonoyta. During one of my one-hour stints, I traveled 2/10 of a mile. Roger would overtake us, then we would overtake him. In all, we spent five hours in the line-up for the border. That, in itself, was horrid. The experience was made worse by the fact that we were surrounded by drunken children. That was just depressing.

The idea had been to get out of Mexico before Semana Santa, when all the Mexican people get holidays and they all rush for the seashore. What we hadn’t figured on was that this was the end of Arizona’s Spring Break, so every kid in Arizona had spent the week in Mexico, presumably in the border towns, and now it was time for them to go home. They had a wonderful time hopping in and out of each other’s cars, drinking (including the drivers), wandering off and leaving their cars unattended, dancing in the street (that part was kind of cute), barreling up the wrong side of the road and then barging into the line ahead of people that had been waiting for hours, and generally being total pains in the ass.

One thing did rather fascinate me, and that was the baggy pants phenomenon. One guy, one of the street dancers, was wearing charcoal grey jockey shorts. They came up to about his belly button. On top of them he wore royal blue boxer shorts, maybe, or some kind of shorts. The waistband of those was at hip level – maybe six inches below the navel. Finally, he wore some sort of jeans with a wide, studded belt. The belt went around him just about at the bottom of his buttocks. The outfit defied gravity. I suspect it was all held together with Velcro, or Crazy Glue. The lowest of his crotches was at knee level. I was, and I remain, baffled.

I had a lot of time to ponder the fact that there is no legal drinking age in Mexico, and to wonder what happens to these kids when they get to the border. Surely somebody is going to notice – or maybe the border guards have more important things to worry about than thousands of kids DUI on Arizona roads.

Well, as all things do, this passed. We got to the border station and the border guard chatted with us for about twenty seconds. He decided we looked okay (or he knew there were still several thousand cars behind us), so he waved us on. Robin went into the office to have his passport stamped for insurance purposes. That took another five minutes or so. Then we were on our way to Ajo, where we have now spent the night. We came to La Siesta, our favourite stopover here. The price has gone up from $20 to $25, and they only had a space available in the back forty – where the wi-fi won’t work – but we didn’t care. We were tired. We did stop at a Quicky Mart or something in the town, where Robin bought a microwaveable soup. That was his dinner. I had ramen. Then we tried to get the sound of engines out of our ears, and we wondered what had become of Roger and Chantal and Terry. The last time we saw them, they were at the border crossing. They were in the second lane from the left. We were routed way over to the right, on the other side of a building, so we couldn’t see them any more. They were supposed to be coming here, but they didn't. Hmmm. They probably pulled in back at Why. (Why not? As JJ would say.

Today we'll just keep a lookout for them as we head toward Quartzite.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I was wrong. I thought we would be leaving Mexico today, but Robin actually had Sunday in mind, because the traffic should be slower on Sunday – so I paid another day’s rent, and we will be driving out at dawn – or thereabouts – tomorrow.

Yesterday, Chantal, Joyce, Carleen and I went to Guaymas. We visited both fabric stores, and I dragged everybody back to the Mercado so I could say good-bye to my favourite vendor. I bought some avocados and garlic to make guacamole for last night, and told her I would be leaving on Sunday. She gave me a hug.

The traffic going into Guaymas was much heavier than usual, and walking around downtown was a chore. Everybody from miles around was there, it seemed, and we were all jostling for position on the sidewalks. Poor Chantal found the mosquito screen she had been looking for, but she found it right away, so she had to carry nine meters of the stuff all over Guaymas for at least two hours. It was in a huge plastic bag, and as the day got warmer, Chantal got more uncomfortable. I think she was truly glad to get back on the bus to San Carlos.

We had invited Russell and Alicia over for barbecue. They couldn’t come until just after seven o’clock, so we planned on a late dinner. Roger barbecued the steaks; Chantal fried potatoes and made green salad. I had bought totopos in town, to go with the guacamole. I also made pico de gallo and a dried chile salsa. The dinner was a great success, even though we ate outside in the dark, joking about not being at all sure what we were eating. After dinner there was singing and guitar playing, our last hurrah.

During the singing, I went inside to put Russell’s e-mail address into my computer’s address book. I tested it by sending an e-mail to him. I had heard him wrong, so the e-mail came back. I tried three more times before I got it right (I can’t hear in the dark, it seems), but apparently the try-before-last was somebody’s real e-mail address, just not Russell’s, so some complete stranger now has my e-mail address and the link to this site. Hello, whoever you are, and sorry about that.

This morning, Robin and I took the bus to Ley (still a slow trip due to traffic, even though the Ley plaza is on the outskirts of Guaymas). Robin had his hair cut, I bought a couple of things at Ley, and we both went to Keops for Americanos. Since then, the day has been full of packing and cleaning and all that not-so-happy stuff. I think we’re in pretty good shape to pull out tomorrow morning.

So there we are. Another winter in Mexico, gone. Just like that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chantal's birthday dinner at La Fiesta was good, if on the rich side (everything seemed to have cream in it). My only real complaint was that I had my mouth all set for calamari, and it wasn't on the menu. That was a bit of surprise, as there are squid a few feet offshore that could eat us for dinner.

(I was talking to Joyce down on the beach this morning, and she reported having seen men standing on the rocks, reaching out with poles and pulling in enormous squid - no boat required. It made her think twice about swimming in this water.)

Robin and I shared a seafood platter. The crab was done in a cream sauce, and there was melted butter for the shrimp. I had spoken to the maitre d' before everybody else arrived, so after dinner, the staff appeared with flan for Chantal - complete with candle and song. Chantal doesn't actually like flan, so Roger and I shared it. We all walked to the restaurant and back, thus burning off one or two of the calories.

That was absolutely our last party before we leave. We are all partied out.

Speaking of calories, I watched a bit of Martha Stewart's show this morning. Her guest was a chef named Lala. Lala made Tres Leches Cake.

We ate some of that at Jeane's birthday party the other day. It was great. I missed the first part of Lala's presentation today, so I don't know how much cake flour she used - and I missed the sugar altogether, but I must assume there was some. She used a cup of butter in the cake. I do remember that. When the cake (9x13 sheet) was baked, she poked holes in it with a skewer, then poured a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and fat-free evaporated milk over it and spread that mixture out so that it soaked in through the holes. Then she spread whipped topping over the cake, giving Martha fits. What? Not real whipped cream? Finally, she topped each serving with pieces of fresh fruit. I think she said that 1/16 of the sheet cake would be a 400 calorie serving. That was the light version.

Robin, Roger, and Terry went on another dive trip today. I chickened out. They're watching videos of the trip right now. There were a few whales, I gather. Robin did manage to get a shot of one, but he's shown that bit three times now, and I've missed the whale every time. I keep wandering back to my computer screen. I guess it's just as well I didn't go on the trip. I would probably have been looking the wrong way (or throwing up over the side) and missed them all anyway, which would have been very frustrating.

Instead, what I did was take that walk I had promised myself, from here to the estuary and back. When you stand at the estuary and look back down the beach towards Totonaka, the route looks much shorter than the road we use to cycle over there. That impression disappears when you actually walk it. It was a long walk. When I got to the place where we usually leave our bikes, I walked up the path, dipped one toe in the estuary, then walked back to the beach and sat for a while. It was a great sit. Eventually I tore myself away and walked back home. I was going to put my sandals back on to come across the road, but that seemed like far too much trouble, so I just finished the trip with bare feet. I am footsore and pleasantly tired.

Along the way, I thought up a great soup recipe, and when I had recovered sufficiently from my walk, I made the soup. I made enough for two big bowls. It was so good, I ate it all, so I had to make it all over again for Robin's dinner. Again, I made enough for two big bowls - and this time, Robin ate it all. I didn't need dinner, having had such a late and large lunch, so I just ate some totopos (tortilla chips) and pico de gallo.

When I got back home from my walk, Chantal told me that Walt, our next-door neighbour (and grapefruit/orange supplier), had passed out, fallen, and bumped his head. He was taken by ambulance to see Dr. Canale, who sent him to Hermosillo for a CAT scan. Walt's wife is disabled, so this must be very scary for her.

When the men came home from their dive, they reported that Terry and Roger had gone down to 130 feet. They were very pleased with themselves.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's a boy!

I've been waiting for the e-mail announcing the birth of our grandson, and it just came through. There's a lot of being born that gets done on March 11, it seems. Last night we went to a birthday party for Jeane, over in Tecalai. Her actual birthday is today - as is Chantal's. We'll be going out to dinner at La Fiesta tonight to celebrate Chantal's birthday. Now we can raise a toast as well to Jasper, the newest Leigh.

Chantal celebrated her birthday by walking alone all the way to the estuary and back. She took her time, made several rest stops, and says she really enjoyed the walk. Sheesh. Now I have to do it! Maybe tomorrow. I can do a 10k walk, but I've never done one on the beach. Walking in sand is heavy work.

The last time we were all over at the estuary - night before last, I think - one of the vegetable men pulled up in his truck just as we were leaving. He was so charming, we couldn't resist buying stuff. I bought tortillas and a grapefruit - as our free grapefruit supply seems to have dried up - and cilantro and eggs. He threw in five big red bell peppers as a bonus. I guess he had an oversupply, because he gave five or six to Terry, as well. I roasted mine last night and put them in a jar with olive oil and garlic.

While Chantal was off on her jaunt, the men went for a dive/snorkel adventure. It seems Terry finally got to dive, as somebody found him a wetsuit that fit. I stayed here and dog-sat, which was an excuse to sit around and do not much at all except wonder when that e-mail would arrive.

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