Sunday, March 23, 2008
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
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.
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
The idea had been to get out of
I had a lot of time to ponder the fact that there is no legal drinking age in
Well, as all things do, this passed. We got to the border station and the border guard chatted with us for about twenty seconds.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I was wrong. I thought we would be leaving
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
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
Thursday, March 13, 2008
(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
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.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Thursday's Arizona Choir concert was a pleasant surprise in some ways, not so pleasant in others. There were four Ave Marias in a row to start - first a Gregorian version, then ones by Tomás Luis de Victoria, Igor Stravinsky, and Javier Busto. I liked that part of the programme. Suddenly there was Maria from The Sound of Music, followed by Maria from West Side Story. There were pieces by Handel, Hayden, Mendelssohn, Brahms, then Meredith Willson (The Music Man), Schmidt (The Fantasticks), and Bernstein (Candide). The programme ended with three spirituals.
My favourite piece came just before the spirituals. It was an art song composed by the pianist, John Nauman, and performed by him and one of the sopranos. Unfortunately, I can't remember her name, and the programme doesn't credit her. The piece was very beautiful, and the performance was exquisite. It brought me to tears.
The only thing I truly did not like about the concert was that before each piece or set, someone would come forward and introduce it. But the introductions were more like short homilies. I wanted to stand up and yell, "This is not a church!" I was very uncomfortable with it, and I'm glad Robin had decided not to attend. He might just have done it!
All in all, though, I did enjoy the concert - but I think I was the only one of the four of us who really did. Roger confessed he liked a couple of things - the spirituals, for sure - but that most of the programme did nothing for him. The soprano (Lynnel Joy Jenkins) who soloed on Wade in the Water was splendid, and I'm not surprised he liked that.
Robin and I met Jeane and Charles at the estuary in the morning. They had their newly-arrived houseguests with them, and we had a lovely chat. They are all supposed to come over today - after the Carne Asada Fiesta at the local school - to watch a bit of Robin's narrowboat footage from England.
We had tickets to the fish fry at Tecalai last night. $12 US each, all you can eat fish and cole slaw and beans. The cash bar ($1/drink) opened at 4 o'clock, dinner at 5:30. Robin and I decided to stay at home until 5 o'clock. Then we wandered over and joined Roger, Chantal and Terry. I knew right away that it was my turn to have a not-so-great evening. Too many people (I'm thinking maybe 70) were in too small a space, making w-a-a-y too much noise. I had a headache within five minutes. By the time dinner was ready, I was thoroughly disgruntled. Then there was dinner - battered, overcooked fish. The big pan of beans looked delicious, and smelled fine, but tasted like nothing. If possible, the cole slaw had less flavour than the beans. There were white dinner rolls, apparently imported from Tucson. There was a pretty good tartar sauce, which I used (surreptitiously, I hope) to liven up my cole slaw. The entire roomful of people seemed delighted with the fare, so obviously it was my problem. There wasn't a chile to be seen - and no cilantro, no tomatoes, no garlic - it reminded me of hospital food. I didn't know it was possible to produce such a bland meal in Mexico.
The one highlight was dessert. One woman had produced the dessert on her own. She had some lime marmalade that hadn't jelled, so instead of throwing it away or re-cooking it, she made crêpes (for seventy people!) and used the lime mixture as filling. Then she made a sauce from orange juice and poured that over each crêpe as she served it. Those crêpes were really good - I had seconds on dessert.
Well, the grumpy old woman (that would be me) sneaked out right after dinner and came home to watch Bones on television.
See? I told you. Robin interrupted me a few minutes ago to ask for help in opening the awning. I went out to do it, and I had forgotten something important, so there was a time there when Robin's side of the awning was up and ready, and mine was waving, flag-like, in the breeze. He had to come over and help me. I guess I really should do the drill more often.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
When we woke up this morning, the sun was shining and there was no wind. Robin went over to the beach and came back to report that the sea was flat calm. Well, poop. Not that a calm sea isn't a good thing, but here we had backed out of the boat trip for nothing.
I ventured outside eventually, and at 10:30 I stood outside Sharon's door. I could see cockroaches on the ground under her rv - all dead, and yes, they were pretty well two inches long. The word around the park is that they've all been coming up out of the sewer and dying. We figure somebody put some poison in there. I guess it worked. I hope the birds don't eat them.
So Sharon and I went to Guaymas and had a great time at the mercado. She bought three - or was it four? cazuelas as gifts, and I bought one little terra cotta cup to hold garlic. I think it cost five pesos (about fifty cents). We had cafe con leche at the little lunch counter, bought chiles and bananas from my favourite lady and tortillas from the tortilleria, and hit the pharmacy for some aspirin. By the time we got home, the wind was picking up. A few minutes ago, I had to abandon the computer and go back to the rv to help Robin roll the awning up, as the wind was starting to bend the braces. I guess the prediction of nine-foot waves was right on. I'm glad we aren't out on the water.
It was strange to walk around the market with Sharon, because for once I was with somebody whose Spanish is better than mine. Don't get me wrong. My Spanish is not great - but everybody else I know down here (except Maria, of course) speaks no Spanish at all - or virtually none. I automatically started acting as translator (which is laughable, actually), then discovered that she could manage just fine on her own, thank you. I really must get serious about taking some Spanish courses while I'm in Canada, so that I don't have to start from scratch every year.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
This morning, Robin and I cycled to the estuary. I had read something on one of my discussion boards that kept coming back to me during the cycle ride. A poster wrote about trying to expand/improve his meditation experience. He said he had become very adept at following his breath, but he wanted to hone his awareness of other things around him as well. I sympathized. There is so much going on when I'm sitting on the beach - the crash of waves on the shore; the rattle of pebbles shed by the retreating waves; the cries of gulls and pelicans; the sun shining on my eyelids; the mist hovering on the mountains; dolphins cavorting offshore; dogs frolicking in the sand; the strong, salty smell of the air. It's hard to take it all in. That's why I sit and follow my breath for a few minutes - so that I can come to all that splendour in a state of calm.
So as I cycled to the estuary this morning, I was thinking about all that, and it made for a lovely ride. That was just as well, because we didn't hang around at the beach very long. Suddenly, after all this relaxation, we have a very busy social calendar. Today, Russell was to come over and bring us some Dramamine - just in case. Tomorrow, the boat trip. Then, tomorrow evening, the U of A Chorus concert. Friday is the Fish Fry at Tecalai (the park next door). Saturday is the Carne Asada Fiesta at the local school, another Rotary Club fundraiser. Monday, I think, is the joint birthday party for Jeane and Chantal; and Tuesday is Chantal's actual birthday, when we will all go out to dinner. Four days after that, we head home. So little time.
Today, Russell did come over, but he came to tell us that those in the know were predicting nine-foot waves tomorrow. "I'm out," I said. Robin laughed. "Nobody's going!" So we have the day off, to rest up for the evening concert.
Meanwhile, somebody ran into one of the power/water columns here in the park (the ones to which we hook up our rvs) this afternoon, so our water supply has been shut off while repairs are effected (I hope). I'm glad we have a full tank of water. We don't know whether these events are connected or not, but suddenly there are cockroaches everywhere! They're all over the park. Somebody said they've come up from the sewer. Somebody else said some of them are two inches long. I haven't seen them, as I figured the inside of my rv was looking pretty good. Robin says maybe somebody poured something into the sewer that spooked them. We've shut off the grey and black water valves at the outside, lest some of the escapees decide to escape via our plumbing. Now I understand how "La Cucaracha" came to occupy such a prominent place in Mexican folk music.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
The guys have gone diving and kayaking again. I took the bus into Guaymas this morning - for the second time in two days. I get this way as our time here grows short. I want to do everything at once. I want to hang around at the market and listen to the Spanish and drink coffee and try some new treat (coyota, that's the treat of the week. It's a big tough pastry with a bit of molasses in the middle - bigger than an old-fashioned sugar cookie, but not nearly as sweet. I liked it).
I had planned to serve fish tonight, but while I was in town, the fish man came and went, so I decided we should do 2/1 night at Froggy's Pizza tonight. Chantal is up for it, and Joyce and Stan are planning to be there. Russell came by, looking for the menfolk, so I told him of my plans. He says his girlfriend, Alicia, has a class that lets out at 7 pm, so we'll meet at Froggy's just after 7 o'clock. I'll tell Robin and the other guys when they get home. I think we've got ourselves a party!
Sunday, March 02, 2008
While the guys were out on the dive, Chantal and I had a fairly quiet day. I took the bus to Ley first thing in the morning. While I was there, I stopped at the salon to have my eyebrows done. It made me wish (just for a moment) that my eyebrows grew faster, so I would have an excuse to have more spa mornings. I felt quite pampered. I did my shopping, then went back to Keops, this time with no illusions, and enjoyed a cup of Americano Caramelo while I tried to read a bit of the book I had bought, Isabel Allende's La Casa de los Espiritus in the original Spanish. I'll still be reading it when we come back next year, I think.
When I got back, I took Sadie for her walk and settled in for a relaxing afternoon. Somehow I never got around to suggesting the window shopping expedition I had thought of the day before. Just before four o'clock, the fog rolled in and it got quite chilly. Meanwhile, Joyce had come over with her craft kit, and the three of us had a great time sitting outside, sharing materials and glue gun, making mobiles to hang from our awnings. Part way through, Chantal and I both ducked inside our rvs to put on warmer clothes. The men came home just before we finished our project. We had been a little worried, because the fog was quite thick, but they were fine. The fog had arrived just as they beached the boat at the end of their trip.
That was Friday, which meant there wasn't a lot of sleep to be had that night. The disco was going at full throttle. I gave up trying to sleep, read my book, then got up altogether at about two o'clock in the morning and took my book over to the porch in front of the office. I dragged one of the big rocking chairs over to the Coke machine and used the machine's display as a reading lamp. Pretty Woman was blasting from the speakers across the street. It was a chilly night, so I was only able to stay there for about half an hour, reading and watching cars come and go. I came back in to warm up, read by flashlight under the covers until the batteries gave out, then brought my gooseneck lamp into my "tent" so I could keep reading. I woke up tired and with a sore shoulder from holding the lamp and flashlight up.
Yesterday's highlight was our trip to the estuary in the afternoon. We all piled into the truck - Roger drove; Chantal sat in front. Blitzen and I shared the back seat; Terry and Robin rode shotgun. Roger took the dirt road that Robin and I use every day for our bike ride. It's a fairly comfortable bike ride, but I gather it's not so comfortable if you're sitting in the cargo bed of a pickup truck. Heh. We walked to the far end of the beach and I sat for a long time while everyone else explored. It was idyllic. Then we wandered slowly back to the truck - I walked in the deliciously warm water. Chantal and I picked up pretty bits of stone from the beach. We took the paved road home, by popular demand. I had made curried chicken for dinner, so all I had to do was cook the rice, and dinner was a done deal.
Sleep was in short supply again, but I am pleased to say that it is Sunday. There will be steak on the barbie, and the disco won't be open tonight. All is well.
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