Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Had the internet gods smiled on me yesterday, I would have come here to tell you that Roger and Dick and Kate and I had hiked the canyon again on Monday. Have I mentioned Dick and Kate and their geriatric Labrador, Tom? They all lived in their Bambi next to Roger and Chantal until yesterday, when they had to move to make way for some Albertans with reservations. They moved to a spot two down from us, and they aren't happy about it. Neither am I. I miss having our little community all gathered around the central outdoor lounge we contrived.

Anyway, Dick and Kate and Roger and I (along with the two dogs) went back up to the pool where I had seen the remarkable reflections on the wall. They were no longer in evidence, of course. Tom had been munching on the vegetation as we climbed, so when we got to the pool, he promptly threw up. We chatted with a group of five people who had come up behind us. That group decided to climb up over the top to find the alternate path Roger had heard about. Our group came part of the way back, took a detour, and climbed to the "waterfall". Dick and Roger and I did, that is. Kate stayed behind with Tom, because she didn't think he would be able to manage the climb. She was right. I was glad that I was last in line, because Dick kept turning around and giving me a hand up over the trickier bits. When we finally reached our goal, we found that the rock walls were stained, as if water had flowed over them, but there wasn't actually any water. It was an interesting place, nonetheless, and I was glad we had made the effort.

When we got back to the parking lot, a couple from Arizona drove up and told us about the caravan of fourteen rigs with which they are traveling. Everything they said confirmed my prejudice against that kind of holiday.

While we were talking, the people who had gone over the top of the ridge arrived. One of them had nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. They all looked as if, as that old Wyoming saying goes, they had been rode hard and put away wet. However, they also seemed to have had a good time. Then again, they were young. I was just glad I hadn't gone that way, especially as I had stupidly worn shorts, forgetting about the possibility of encountering snakes.

So that was Monday. Then came yesterday.

Dick came home in the back of a pickup truck. He had taken Tom for a walk, and along the way, he had had a collision with a stationary object. He returned, as noted, in the back of somebody's pickup truck, sporting a cut on the bridge of his nose and another on his forehead. Dr. Canale fixed him up. Being kind and gentle people, we didn't give Dick too hard a time about his accident, although we had plenty of opportunities over dinner. That was the second accident our group had suffered in less than a week. Last time, it was Robin, who took a short cut across the desert on his bicycle, encountered a patch of wet clay, and wiped out. He came away with a bit of a sore shoulder and some very dirty clothes, but otherwise seemed to suffer no ill effects.

Last night´s dinner was another communal affair, this one featuring two cazuelas filled with prawn curry, a green salad, rice, and a really big cazuela of aloo gobi. I got the recipe from this website: It was a hit. There was so much food, we took a plate to Henry, the night watchman. He was very grateful, but I haven't spoken to him since he ate it. I've never seen an Indian restaurant here, and some of the spices are hard - nah, impossible - to find. I'll be interested to hear what he thought of the dinner.

Today, I'm so chuffed at being able to get on line, I'm still lounging in my pajamas at 11:00 a.m. Tsk, tsk. I think it's time to get moving!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sorry to disappear into the void like that. It seems the internet gods were not looking upon me with favour. I just haven't been able to get in here.


You know that saying about the best laid plans....well, it applies to women, too. At five minutes to eight on the appointed day, I went outside to meet Maria. I had been watching for her, but hadn't seen her come into the park. There was a man sitting in front of the office, trying to get his laptop to work, so I asked him whether he had seen Maria. Nope. I waited by the palapa, then wandered out to the street, in case she was hidden behind a cactus or something. Nope. I waited for just under an hour, then figured I must have misunderstood her. Maybe she had wanted me to take the bus into Guaymas and meet her at the big bus station there. I came back home and talked to Chantal, who said that Maria's car was parked behind the office - so I hunted for her again, just in case. No luck. Eventually, I wrote a note expressing my regret at having missed her and suggesting we do it another day.

Later in the day, Chantal and I took the bus to Guaymas and went to the fabric store - my consolation prize. We did find some lovely fabric I plan to buy. It will be perfect for the curtains that the rv sorely needs. I'm measuring and measuring, lest I mess this up. I'm not sure whether I can find drapery lining here, but if so, I'll buy that too. The prices at the fabric store are good.

Yesterday was fun. Roger and Chantal and Robin and I all went up to Santa Rosa, where Roger bought t-bone steaks. We got charcoal, potatoes for frying, salad makings. I bought a cake mix so I could make a pineapple upside down cake. We had a great communal barbecue. Dick and Kate, who are next to Roger and Chantal, came over as well, and brought some shrimp and vegetables. We enjoyed it so much, we plan to do it again next Sunday.

I hear my name being called - it's time to go hike the canyon. I just wanted to let you know I hadn't got lost in Hermosillo.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I walked to Santa Rosa (the Super T store up the road) to buy eggs this morning, and Maria was there (Maria my Mexican Cooking teacher, that is). We chatted for a few minutes. She told me that she plans to go to Hermosillo tomorrow by bus, and asked if I would like to go with her. Well, of course I would! We'll leave here at 8 a.m. and catch the bus from Guaymas at 8:30. Apparently it's about an hour and a half to Hermosillo, not the two hours I thought I remembered, and the bus fare from Guaymas is 90 pesos, about $9, each way. Maria knows a great place to have breakfast in Hermosillo. Then we'll go do whatever business she has there, I'll look for a few things I need (like sticky-backed garment hooks, which simply do not exist in Guaymas), we'll go see the church (THE church? I suspect she means there's a cathedral or some such) and the plaza, maybe catch a movie - hmmm, I wonder if The Kite Runner is playing in Hermosillo - and come back here late in the day. I will take the camera, so this journal should have some interesting photos in a couple of days. It's an exciting prospect to visit a city like Hermosillo, which is the capital of Sonora, with someone who knows the place and and its history and speaks the language.

Robin and Roger took Roger's little inflatable dinghy out for a float a while ago. Chantal and I both heard an ambulance go by about half an hour ago, and the next thing I knew, she was off to look over the wall at the water. I'm glad she did it, because I was a little nervous as well, but she couldn't see the guys. I don't know where they put the boat in, but it wasn't any place that was visible from this part of the beach. They arrived home a couple of minutes ago, safe and sound.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yesterday afternoon we had our chile class at the palapa beside the swimming pool. The class was huge - close to thirty people, in the same space where we had a class of seventeen last year. When the time came to tell Maria what kinds of salsas we would be making today, I said I wanted to do a fruit salsa. I finally settled on jicama/orange, though I was tempted to try one with nopales - I was the only one who decided on a fruit salsa. Everybody else was going to do some form of pico de gallo or a dried chile salsa.

This morning at 9:30 we met again and caught a bus (basically, the whole bus) to Guaymas, and Maria led us around the market. It was fun to do it all again. As I had already had the tour, I was able to sneak away, buy some nopales from a vendor across the street, stop for a cup of coffee, go to the hardware store to buy a comal - see (Mine is a little square one that just covers one burner. Because of space constraints, I have to cook my corn tortillas one at a time) - and still get back to the group in time to go to the tortilleria with them and buy a kilo of fresh masa, also for making tortillas.

Clarence will be pleased to know that his cazuela is now on board. (If you don't know what a cazuela is, you can look at last year's postings. There are pictures, even!)

In the afternoon, I made my salsa, using jicama, cucumber, orange, lime juice, red onion, what Maria calls "blond" chiles - (I have no idea what their real name is), cilantro, salt and pepper. Apart from the cucumber, which really wasn't a good idea, the salsa was pretty good, and it was very popular at the salsa tasting party at 3:30. By the time we finished tasting all the fresh and dried salsas, we were all pretty numb in the tongue.

Ginger has still been following me around, but I understand that there is a family at the opposite corner of the park also feeding him, so I'm trying to break our bond. I'm hoping that the family will adopt him. They have two kids, and I gather that when Ginger isn't following me, he's following them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yesterday was an interesting day - in the ancient curse sense. Sunday night I met a dog, a lovely little urchin whom I named Ginger. I decided that Ginger should live with us. I've been wanting for some time to have a dog with whom to travel and do agility work. This little fellow is a sweetheart, very gentle, but hungry and uncared-for.

So yesterday, when he showed up again, I put a makeshift collar on him (courtesy of one of the neighbours) and brought him back to our rig. He was a little confused by the collar, but he soon adapted to it. Chantal and I walked him over to the vet's office because not only would he need shots, but he had a gash on his leg that needed looking at. The vet wasn't in. It was siesta time, but apparently he had gone to Hermosillo and wouldn't be back until five o'clock. We brought Ginger back here and I set about trying to convince Robin that keeping him would be a good idea. No dice. It seems we will not be keeping him. So then I had to go back to the vet and beg him to find Ginger a home. He's a lovely little dog, and he should not be living on the street - or on the beach. I heard that the vet runs a rescue organization of some sort.

Meanwhile, Ginger spent the day with me. He loved the chicken I cooked for him, and he spent a lot of the afternoon contentedly snoozing out on the patio.

At five o'clock I walked Ginger back to the vet's office. We waited outside while the vet's nine dogs - including a St. Bernard and a dachshund - shouted their displeasure at our being there. After ten minutes or so, the vet drove up. His car had broken down, so he was delayed in getting home. Meanwhile, another woman had shown up, this one with a pug and a big black dog of some sort trailing her and a pug puppy with a (probably) broken leg resting against her chest. I told the vet to go ahead and take her first, and I sat in the waiting room with Ginger. I had had to carry him in - he obviously isn't used to being indoors, as he wouldn't come into the rv either), and as soon as I sat down he squeezed himself in under my chair and had to be pried out.

Anyway, when our turn came I told the vet about Ginger's problems and mine, and he told me that unfortunately there was nothing he could do about finding Ginger a home. All he could do was treat the cut on his leg. There you go. He muzzled Ginger, sprayed antiseptic on his wound, gave him a shot of antibiotic, and administered a dose of sympathy to both of us. "I'm sorry," he said. "There are just too many dogs in San Carlos."

There you go. I took Ginger's collar/leash off and let him go. Of course, he followed me home anyway. I went to the neighbour who had lent me the leash and explained the situation to her. Could she adopt Ginger? No, at least not now. Her husband doesn't want any more dogs either. We decided that we would continue to feed Ginger and try to find somebody to take him in. Wish us luck.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This morning, Robin and I rode the bus to Ley, the supermarket at the edge of Guaymas - mostly to look for some sort of Croc knock-off for him to wear down on the beach. We didn't find that, so he bought himself a pair of pink flip-flops with "Sayonara" printed on the upper soles. Very fetching. They were the only ones with really thick soles, I gather. We picked up a few more things and caught the bus home. Although last night was fairly cold, today has turned out to be lovely - dusty, but lovely.

When we got home, I set about making a batch of corn tortillas, which turned out rather thicker than the ones I can buy at the store, but tasty. I'll work on making them thinner, I guess, but even as they were they would have been very, very good with this filling that Maria apparently told the class this year (before I got here). Here we go - the first recipe of the season, hot off the presses. Chantal jotted the ingredients down for me.

The recipe had no name, or at least I didn't get one, so I shall name it Hamburguesa San Carlos. Furthermore, there are no cooking instructions or specific amounts, just a list of ingredients, so I'm going to make everything else up as I go along.

Hamburguesa San Carlos

1 pound of hamburger
1 medium potato, diced
one handful each of raisins and olives!
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced

Brown the meat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is transparent. Add the diced potato and cook until the potato is tender. Add the tomatoes, raisins and olives, and cook a further five minutes.

Use this mixture as a tostada or taco filling.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? I'm going to try it later this week - with another batch of homemade corn tortillas. I'm tempted to dice a chile of some description into the mix, but I'll try it first just as it came to me.

While we were talking, Chantal found another recipe. This came from Karen, whom Chantal met before we got here this year. I missed Karen, but apparently there's a good chance she and her husband will be going to the Yucatan next year with Robin and Roger and Chantal and me. I hope so. She seems to be a good cook. ;>) I'm not sure where she found the recipe, but she adapted it to make it Mexico-friendly.

This one is called Chiles Rellenos Casserole.

1 cup half and half
1/3 cup flour
1/2 lb. Jack cheese, grated
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 eggs
3 whole chiles, cut up

Beat half and half with eggs and flour until smooth. Split open chiles, rinse out seeds. Mix cheese, reserving 1/2 c. of cheese for topping. Make alternate layers of cheese, chiles and egg mixture in deep dish. Sprinkle with cheese and tomato sauce. Bake at 375F for one hour.

Karen used roasted and peeled poblano peppers, evaporated milk in place of half and half, and a pound of Chihuahua cheese. For a fluffier casserole, she says, whip the egg whites first, then fold in the egg yolks and cream/evaporated milk. She also suggests that a homemade chile rojo salsa would probably be better than tomato sauce. She's probably right.

The casserole seems to be a party dish - it's a little too rich, I think, for everyday, but it does sound good.

Now I have to go sort through the clothes that we brought down for the children in a nearby village (Robin and Roger visited there last year when they went on their fishing trip), because I think we're going to go see Russ today. He lived next door to us last season, but he has now bought a lot of his own and set up his trailer there. He will take the stuff out to the village for us.

Speaking of the village, I was delighted to hear that Roger and Chantal celebrated Christmas by buying a shopping cart full of food and sending it out to the village, where apparently the need is great.

Off I go, then.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yesterday I spent several hours on a fruitless garage sale quest. I decided I would really like to have a blender, so that I don't have to borrow Chantal's whenever I want to make dried chile salsa. The park next door was having a big multi-home garage sale, so I went over there at 8 o'clock in the morning. I couldn't find a blender, but somebody mentioned that Loma del Mar, where the San Carlos Trailer Club is, was having its garage sale as well, so I decided to check that out.

I waited until Robin and Roger were heading for the marina to go kayaking, and I hitched a ride with them as far as the supermarket. Then I headed up the cross street, looking for Loma del Mar. I did find it, but it was a long, long walk. Along the way, I stopped to buy a much-needed bottle of cold water at the gringo store (I don't remember the name of the store, but it's the one where you go if you need a fix of back-home food, presuming that you eat things like pork and beans back home.) When I finally found Loma del Mar, I spoke to a group of people standing by one of the trailers. They told me the sale was over. So I turned around and walked back to the main road, bought a chicken from the Santa Rosa (Saturday is chicken day!) and some vegetables from Tony. I had encouraged myself to keep walking by promising myself that I could take the bus back home from Tony's - but by the time I actually got there, I was feeling much better, so I walked home. Later in the day I even went for a walk on the beach with Roger and Chantal. I think my body is adapting to the routine.

By the way, I'm told that Roger and Chantal have given their family this web address, so that they can keep up with what's going on here - so hello to Roger and Chantal's family. As you will have noticed, we live a life of excitement and adventure!

Just to press home the point, I must tell you that today is Sunday, and Sunday is laundry day - or so I decided. So did everybody else in the park, except Chantal, who is smarter than the rest of us. She decided to wait until tomorrow. There are thirteen washing machines in the laundry room, of which maybe five work well. Three of them don't work at all. There are seven dryers, three of which will actually dry your clothes. A fourth will reduce your laundry to cinders if you're not careful. That's the dryer of choice. Really. My first washer load to be done was the one with the sheets and towels in it. As there were no dryers available at all, I brought the linens back here and hung them out. But first, Roger and I spent a few minutes reorganizing clotheslines so that we now have three good lines strung between his rv and ours, enough line for my load of linens with line to spare.

Four and a half hours later, there's only the stuff on the line left to finish drying. I got possession of the hotshot dryer and did everything else in that.

Since I came back from the laundry room, I've been fighting with the computer, which keeps swallowing my hard-written post. We're all going over to the estuary for a walk now, so I think I'll post this while I can.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I continue to be surprised at the speed with which days pass when you have nothing to do. This morning, I was planning to head for Guaymas at 9 a.m. with Chantal - but I woke up realizing that it was Friday already, and Friday is library day - so I put off the Guaymas trip for a few minutes and walked to the park next door. There is a woman who volunteers there - I haven't got her name yet - whose taste in books is pretty well identical to mine. I knew that, because I had heard her talking to someone last week. So I approached her today and said "I need your help. I read The Kite Runner last week, then tried to read The Devil Wears Prada, and I just couldn't do it. It was nothing but fluff. I need another life-changing book. She understood completely, and we had a great tour of the shelves. Have you read this? Yes. Have you read that? Yes. Have you read anything by Barbara Kingsolver? Oh, yes. "You're going to be a hard case, I can tell. You like all the same books I do." Heh.

After a few minutes, I came out of the library with William Styron's Sophie's Choice, which I've long wanted, but been afraid, to read, and books by Joyce Carol Oates and E.L. Doctorow. I returned the favour by recommending Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. I know my mentor will love it.

Then came the bus trip to Guaymas, the successful hunt for cazuelas, beans, chiles, cilantro and oregano, the fruitless search for sticky-backed hooks and raw shelled peanuts, and the thirsty trip home. I washed the cilantro, seasoned the cazuelas, ate a lunch of tortillas, beans, and pico de gallo, read a bit of Sophie's Choice, and took a nap. By then it was 2:30, time for a walk on the beach.

Pelicans. Half a dozen of them, splashing and diving and making lots of noise. They were being so raucous, I nearly missed the same number of dolphins appearing and disappearing, appearing and disappearing in the water behind them. I was so entertained by this dance that I walked farther than I had intended, but I'm very glad I was there to see it.

Back at the rv, I finally managed to get on line, and I was just about to post here when Chantal came to the door to ask if I would trim the back of her hair - of course. Then Robin turned up to ask if we were ready to play bocce, so once the haircut was done, we followed him and Roger to the other end of the park, where Robin and Chantal made short work of Roger and me.

Now it's time to cook dinner. How do I find time to go to work when I'm at home?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It’s Wednesday, and that means 3 pm cooking class – my first one of the season. I understand that the classes are the same as last year’s, so I don’t anticipate learning a whole lot this afternoon, but I look forward to seeing Maria and meeting the other students. With any luck, maybe this will be salsa day. I love the salsa class.

Roger and Chantal left this morning on an Hermosillo run. That is, they’ve driven to Hermosillo – about two hours, if I remember correctly - to visit Costco and Wal Mart, and maybe Home Depot as well. I gave them my wish list – which includes a mat and frame for the watercolour painting I bought at the art show the other day. Robin wants some cheese, and we need a couple of stick-on hooks. Other than those few items (and actually, there’s lots of cheese here – just not cheese that Robin likes), we are pretty well looked after right here in San Carlos. Earlier today I walked up to Tony’s outdoor market to buy fish (flounder) and scallops for tonight’s dinner. I bought extra so I can feed Roger and Chantal, in case they haven’t eaten dinner by the time they get back. I’ll saute the seafood with garlic, ginger and cilantro, top it with key lime juice, then serve it with salad and noodles. I bought raisins to put in the salad, and I’ll use oranges in place of tomatoes, just because I’ve got lots of oranges. I may use the spinach I bought today, as well.

While I was out, I stopped at the laundry and inquired about having my pants mended. The lady at the laundry has a friend in Guaymas who does mending, so she’ll look after me. I’ll take the pants up to her as soon as they are dry. Better to catch that rip now, while I still have a good pair of pants.

You may blame this “laundry list” posting on my sister Pam. She sent me an e-mail last night. She said I should post to my journal every day, and that I should not worry about having nothing interesting to write about. She said she loves to read about my boring days. I think she loves the idea of having nothing to do but lie around in the sunshine, reading and writing and knitting a bit. Come to think of it, I like that idea too.

So far, I haven’t ridden my bicycle at all. I’m feeling really underconfident about riding, maybe because I’m still snuffly, so I’m walking everywhere. I’m getting my exercise, for sure, but my range is limited. I haven’t gone to the estuary, for instance. Maybe that’s just as well. That can be next week’s –or next month’s! – adventure.

Did I mention 2 for 1 pizza night at Froggy’s? Yes, I did. Well, we went. I don’t think Robin’s heart was in it, but he went along. There were six of us from the park, including one lady I hadn’t met before. We had a good time, and the pizza was excellent. So much for my not eating cheese. I have a new rule: What you eat on Tuesdays doesn’t count. The crust on Froggy’s pizza is very thin, and they bake the pizzas in a brick oven over mesquite. I asked for a non-alcoholic drink, and the waiter mentioned pina colada (imagine the tilde, okay?) – so I ordered that, and it turned out to be the size of a hot tub. I think it added about 2000 calories to my already substantial dinner. After dinner, we all left together, and as we went out the door, two stray dogs came in. The black and white one left again, but the little ginger-coloured one went way to the back of the restaurant. One of the waiters brought her out again. He had put a belt around her neck as a makeshift collar/leash. When he got outside the door, he took the belt off, and like a little streak of lightning, Ginger was off again, in the door and headed for the back of the restaurant, waiter in hot pursuit. I liked that dog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I haven't written for the last few days because things have been very calm, peaceful, warm and sunny, and probably pretty boring to hear about (though not to experience) - but today I had a bit of an adventure.

There's a beautiful canyon outside town. It is called Nacapule. A stream flows through it, and palm trees grow along the stream. Today, Roger and Blitzen and I went for a hike to the pool at the top of the trail. Neither Robin nor Chantal wanted to go. We left the park at about 9:30 in the morning. Roger drove his Dodge truck up a road that I wouldn't even attempt to drive on because of its twists and turns, cactus right up against the road, and rocks the size of bricks, but pointed, poking up out of the surface. It must have been close to 10:00 when we parked at the foot of the trail and started hiking. There were level places and bumpy places and places where we had to grab hand-holds in the rock face and pull ourselves through tunnels. I got a couple of soakers while crossing over little pieces of the stream. Eventually, we found ourselves at the top of the trail. There we were beside the pool, surrounded by cliffs about thirty feet high. We counted three frogs in the pool.

After a few minutes' rest, Roger decided to explore a bit. He had heard that if we climbed up over those cliffs, we would come to a flat area and then be able to get back to the parking lot by another route. He left Blitzen with me. I sat on a beautifully positioned rock and gazed across the pool at the wall behind it. The sun was shining in on the pool and reflecting onto the rock face, making concentric circles with wavy edges that shimmered and formed and re-formed. It looked as if the vertical wall were under maybe six inches of water. It was simply beautiful. I tried to photograph the phenomenon, but I don't think it worked. You had to be there.

When Roger came back, he said that he had found the trail, but it was pretty rough - so we went back the way we had come. Our only casualty occurred when I caught my pants on a sharp bit of rock and tore them a bit. Why did I wear my expensive pants for a hike? Oh, yes. They're lightweight, and I figured that jeans would be too hot. Silly me.

So we came back home. We got to the park a bit after noon. I heated tortillas and beans for my lunch, then sat down and finished reading Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. What a fine book! Isabel Allende said about it, "It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read seemed bland." She's absolutely right. I've got The Devil Wears Prada to read next, and I can't bring myself to start it yet.

Not that I have time to read right now. It's Tuesday, and Tuesday is 2 for 1 pizza night at Froggy's - so it's gonna be a party. We're expecting the crowd to head out any minute now, to be sure to get a big table.

Friday, January 11, 2008

We’re here! We’re here! We pulled in last night at about 5:30 – or 5:30 to us, at any rate. It turned out that our clocks were an hour behind, but we’ve rectified that now. Unfortunately, our timing was bad in more ways than one. Yesterday morning the park was not full. The space right behind Roger and Chantal was available. Then, at 4:30 in the afternoon, a caravan of 17 rvs pulled in for a three-day visit. So we’ve become street people for the next couple of days. There are hookups along the sides of the road (inside the park), so we will be quite comfortable here while we wait for our space. We just can’t put the awning out yet.

We can, however – and have – bought a kilo of beautiful prawns from the vendor who comes to the park. We can do our laundry, when I finally get around to it. We have gone to the park next door, where the Friday library is open. I managed to snag a copy of “Kite Runner”, which I had intended to buy on the way down.

Last night’s supper was no problem. Chantal had tamales and rice and salad all ready, in anticipation of our arrival. What would Rachael Ray say? Yummmmm. We’re going to go out to lunch at JJ’s later (a new discovery by Roger and Chantal)and some time today I really must walk up to Tony's market and stock up on fruit and vegetables.

Somebody has been slurping up the internet connection so nobody else is able to get on. Joe is going to come around to each rv and personally put in the code so that nobody else actually knows it. In the meantime, we will be a little incommunicado, but we are okay. We are here. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ajo looks so good. It’s 20 degrees Celsius here, and the sun is shining. We arrived just in time to have lunch. Then Robin went to buy Mexican car insurance while I cleaned up and tried to get on line. I succeeded, but spottily. I seem to be good for anything from one minute to ten before the connection fails again, so I’m typing this entry into Word. I can copy it over to blogspot much faster than I can type it there.

Robin came back to the rv and urged me to go over to the pool, so I did – but I went into the hot tub. Now I just want to lie down and go to sleep! He’s still over there, catching up on the year’s news. There are several people here that we met last year and the year before.

First I’ll have to go into yesterday’s entry to put in the last line of the poopy coyote story. I was even more tired than I thought when I typed it. When the coyote gave us the sidelong glance and wandered off, Robin said “Now, that’s contempt!” Heh.

Done. Now maybe I’ll just lie down and rest my eyes. ;>)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

“What is that on the road?” asked Robin.

“A coyote,” I replied. “And he’s pooping.”

Robin kept driving.

“Really. He’s stopped, and he’s having a poop right in the middle of the road.”

Robin kept driving, but he leaned on the horn. Finally, the coyote looked at the oncoming behemoth, turned, and sauntered off the road, leaving a neat pile in his wake.

"Now that's contempt," said Robin, admiringly.

That was at about two o’clock this afternoon. We were just about to cross into San Bernardino County. The day had started quite early – just after 6:30 in the morning, when I turned off the propane, battened down the hatches, and drove away from what was billed as a rest stop about an hour out of Santa Rosa. We had driven there after Chuck's Brake and Wheel had finished repairing our sadly injured front end (the main problem was a pulverized bearing, but there was a whole lot more). There hadn’t been much rest for me, though Robin had gone to sleep before 9 pm and was still dozing. We had used the oven for heat, and all the heat had drifted right up to my little nest over the cab. I opened both my overhead vent and the window beside my head, but all that accomplished was to bring in the sound of a thousand passing trucks and the engines and generators of all the rigs around us at the rest stop. I considered driving on at about 3:30, but I figured I would disturb Robin, so I waited. At 5:30 I gave up trying to sleep. At 6:30 Robin turned over, and I seized the opportunity to say “I’m going to start driving, okay?” That was fine by him, so off we went.

Well, as I write, it is 8:15 pm, and we are in Yuma, Arizona at an RV park whose name escapes me. We started trying to stop at 4:30 this afternoon in Barstow, California. The place we found there was full. Then we found a park down the highway, but its washrooms were out of order. It looked a little seedy anyway, so we kept going. That was the way it went for the next three hours until we finally fetched up here. We’ve taken refuge in a spot we thought was available, but wasn’t. It belongs to the Albertan couple next door, who have kindly allowed us to stay here for the one night, as we are obviously too exhausted to keep driving around the park in search of a truly empty site.

The upside to this sad story is that we are only a day’s drive from Ajo, Arizona, where we like to stay at La Siesta Motel, and another day’s drive from San Carlos. All being well, we will arrive at Totonaka on time, in spite of the weather and mechanical difficulties. It’s hard to type with all my fingers crossed, so I’ll sign off. Meanwhile, though, here are those saved posts I mentioned yesterday.

January 5, 2008

Klamath, California

We considered staying on in Sutherlin, Oregon another night, but Robin couldn’t picture sitting still that long, so we left there at about 9:45 this morning, headed for the 101. Apparently there’s a lot of snow on the passes, so we thought it best to follow the coast, what with not having snow tires and all.

It was an interesting trip on highways 138 and 38, which lead out to the Oregon coast at Reedsport. The scenery heading west is lovely, very pastoral – but not as nice as Wiltshire, says Robin. (But then, he says that about all the scenery.)

About five miles from the coast, the rain hitting the windshield got pretty crunchy, and soon we were driving through slush. It was about six degrees Celsius outside, though, so we weren’t worried.

We bought green pepper and onion at the Safeway in Reedsport, so that I could do a chicken curry with the leftover chicken from last night. This supermarket excursion wasn’t nearly as painful as yesterday’s (and the curry turned out well).

The GPS guided us south to hook up with Hwy 101. That drive is absolutely spectacular, although it is somewhat unnerving. The road follows very close to the cliffs, from which the view of the Pacific is dizzying. I think I should never live beside the ocean, because I would never do anything except gaze into the waves, feeling their immense weight, breathing to their rhythm.

After a while, the road started to climb rather higher than we had expected, bringing about a feeling of dread and a shower of freezing rain. We were in the Redwood National Forest. Robin asked what our elevation was, so I looked at the GPS, but it wouldn’t tell me. It wouldn’t tell me anything, in fact. It ignored our progress, insisting that we were still 65 miles from Eureka, California - no matter how far we drove. The trees have strong spirits, I said, and they won’t allow any intrusions from newfangled satellite signals. Just up the road there was a tourist attraction called Trees of Mystery. (cue Twilight Zone theme)

Finally, the road tilted in the other direction. We hurtled down the hill and found ourselves right beside the ocean, but then we lost sight of the road as it bent inland. By then we were both tired and ready to stop for the day. At 4:30 this afternoon we turned in at Chinook RV Park and gratefully accepted shelter from the storm.

And what a storm! While I was doing dishes after dinner, there was a crack, the lights flickered, and then there was a roll of thunder that I thought would shake the dishes off the counter. That was too close. Since then there have been intermittent hailstorms. The cable tv is out. The wi-fi is out. Fortunately, we do have electricity, so we are warm and dry and safe for the night. We think we’ll be close to San Francisco by tomorrow night. Presumably, we’ll be out of the Redwood Mystery Forest by then and our satellites will be able to find us!

January 6, 2008

Santa Rosa, California

Well, that was a big presumption. We left Klamath at 9:00 this morning, headed south on the 101. We planned to go east on Hwy. 20 at around Ukiah, which would have brought us out to the I-5 somewhere in the Sacramento Valley. The day started out well. We passed beautiful groves of eucalyptus trees, and Robin spotted the first palm tree of the trip. Later, the eucalyptus groves were replaced by patches of arbutus – a touch of home. As we approached Ukiah, though, we noticed a disturbing reference on Maggie’s screen. (Maggie – short for Magellan - is the GPS. When she’s speaking to us, Maggie says helpful things like “At the first opportunity, make a LEGAL U-turn…” It seems only right that she should have a name.) At any rate, Maggie wasn’t saying much, but there was a reference on her screen to something called Upper Lake. That sounded like high elevation to us, so we changed our minds and kept going south.

Very shortly, we encountered a fork in the road that allowed us to choose between Highway 101 and Highway 1. We chose the latter, as it was closer to the coast and presumably (there’s that word again!) would involve less upping and downing and therefore less chance of encountering snow.

I was driving. I made an abrupt turn down Highway 1, whereupon there appeared three turkeys at the side of the road – and then three more, right in the middle of the road. No slouches, these turkeys, they quickly cleared a path for us and we set off on our slow, winding journey through the Forest Primeval. I was hooked. Six turkeys! That had to be a good sign. The road was narrow and it really did wind an awful lot. It also went up and down (and up and down, etc.). I drove twenty some-odd miles to the coast at a top speed of thirty miles an hour. In many places the curves were posted at 20, 15, and even 10 miles per hour. The forest was dense. There was a ravine on our left, with a rushing stream at its bottom. It was on the opposite side of the road, so we were in no danger of falling into it. I was having a wonderful time, tootling along in second gear, following the stream to the sea, enjoying the scenery, so it took me quite a while to realize that Robin was distinctly unhappy. It seems he truly does not like being in places where he can’t see more than 100 yards ahead, and we couldn’t see nearly that far for well over an hour. I was glad I was driving, because I think it would have been worse for him to have to drive through the forest, but I wished I could do something to make him feel better.

After what was apparently an intolerable length of time, we emerged on the coast above Fort Bragg. Robin breathed a huge sigh of relief and took the wheel. Then it was my turn to sit petrified while we hurtled along the coast road, our passenger side wheels (that’s MY side, now, you’ll note) barely clutching the edge of the shoulderless road, foam-crested waves beating against huge, sharp rocks at the bottom of our inevitable plunge. Robin said he was driving with extreme care, so as not to frighten me, and I’m sure he was. Nonetheless, my back teeth are ground to nubs and my stomach is still in a knot.

I forget when or where it was that we started talking about that disturbing noise we heard whenever we braked. The noise got louder and more disturbing as the day progressed, and of course it made those hairpin turns and cliffside dangles all the more interesting.

At around 2:00 we stopped for lunch, and then I drove again. Fortunately, we had turned inland a bit, so I didn’t have to deal with the cliffs. We began to notice that RV parks on Highway 1 were almost non-existent. Robin remembered having stayed once at a campground at Manchester Beach. If all else failed, we decided, we would just keep going to Manchester. All else failed.

Manchester failed, too. We got there at about 5:00. There was a KOA, but it had no electricity. As it turned out, pretty well the whole coast from there on had no electricity, but we didn’t realize that at the time. Robin took the wheel, and we kept driving. The light was fading fast. It was pouring. Then it was just plain dark – unusually dark. We passed many darkened houses and businesses. We checked the time. Either the folks in Sonoma County retired awfully early, or there was a blackout. We found a couple of RV parks, but they were showing no lights, their offices were closed, and they didn’t have signs posted with instructions for late check-ins. There was very little traffic on the road, and a lot of that consisted of hydro crews out trying to get the power up and running. There were fallen tree limbs everywhere along the road.

There was one light at the end of the tunnel, or so we hoped. If we persevered, we would eventually come to Santa Rosa, and if I remembered correctly, Santa Rosa was a town of considerable size. Surely there would be a place for us to stay. When we finally reached Santa Rosa – at 8:00 in the evening – we found that it had electricity. Hallelujah! What it didn’t seem to have was an RV park. I phoned Jane and Franco to assure them that we had made it through another day’s adventures and to ask them to look up an RV park on their computer. They did just that, and a few minutes later, with a little further assistance from Maggie, we were here. Right here, in unpretentious little Villa Trailer Park, where there’s light and heat and even cable TV, if we weren’t too tired to be bothered hooking it up. So - twelve hours after leaving “home” this morning, we were at home again, in a different town, sitting down to dinner. In the morning we will have the brakes fixed, and maybe I will find a place from which I can send this narrative off into cyberspace. There must be a Starbucks.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I am posting from the public library at Santa Rosa, California. There are journal entries waiting in my laptop, and when I have wi-fi I will post them, but in the meantime, here's the short version: We missed all the snowy mountain passes (at least I hope we did. We haven't got to Mexico yet!) by driving down the coast highways - 101 and 1. The roads were narrow and twisting and went up and down a lot, and it was raining heavily. All this was made more disturbing than usual by the grinding sound that we heard whenever we braked. After much driving through a blacked-out state (the wind has really done a job on these poor folks), we fetched up last night in Santa Rosa and found a place to stay, by virtue of a call home to friends Franco and Jane, who googled up Villa Trailer Park, and with the further help of our trusty GPS. The manager of the rv park told us to take the rv to Chuck's Brake and something-or-other today because they repair all the big trucks and motor homes. We did that and discovered that our main problem was a pulverized wheel bearing. While the good people at Chuck's work on the problem (at the going rate of $105 per hour), we are Discovering Santa Rosa. With any luck, Chuck et al will be able to finish the job today, and we will proceed to the I-5 for the rest of the journey. If not, we'll spend one more night here. At least the sun has come out. We were beginning to think that would never happen.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Warm and cozy, we sit here in the Turtle in a place called Sutherlin, Oregon. We decided to stay here because we had heard dire weather forecasts for the road ahead. When Robin registered at the Hi-Way Haven office, he heard that the pass just ahead had in fact been closed, so it's just as well we decided to stay here. We've put this park on our "favourites" list on our fancy new GPS device, so that we can be sure to find it again.

Last night we went to Duke Point to catch a ferry to Tsawwassen on the mainland. It was about 4:20 in the afternoon. The attendant told us that the 6:15 boat had been canceled due to high winds on the other side, and that the 8:15 might or might not go. However, she said, the 5:00 Departure Bay ferry to Horseshoe Bay was leaving on time, and it had room for overheight vehicles. Off we went, back into Nanaimo, and we got to the boat on time. The result of all this to-ing and fro-ing was that about the time we would have reached Tsawwassen if we had taken the 8:15 Duke Point (presuming it sailed), we were already across the border and making our way to Seattle.

The border crossing was just plain weird. There was no queue, and nobody inspected the vehicle. We gave up our orange peels and went on our way. I kept thinking we must have missed something, but there were no lights and sirens, so I guess not.

We (Robin) drove until 10 o'clock. We slept at a rest stop 20 miles north of Seattle, then got up at 5:30 this morning to beat the Seattle rush hour. Pfffft. Fat chance. Anyway, we tried to beat the rush hour, and we drove until 4:00 this afternoon, stopping along the way for a truck stop breakfast and fuel, and then to do some grocery shopping at a very pricey store called the Market of Choice. We did get a lovely chicken and salad makings for tonight's supper, along with some odds and ends, all for the bargain price of $67 and change. Okay, that did include a couple of hunks of cheese and a package of coffee, but somehow I think we found the local equivalent of Whole Foods, with comparable prices.

Then we fueled up again.

And here we are, snug in our little nest. Good-night.

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