Monday, December 29, 2008

Attempting To Finish The Mission

I'll use this blog entry as my final Mission post, and hopefully I'll get them all checked off by the time I leave. Today we rode the bus to Barra, well we sort of got on the wrong bus and rode, all around Melaque, and then we transferred to the bus to Barra. Transferring to the Barra bus meant we got off the Melaque bus and chased the Barra bus going the direction we just came. If it wasn’t for the big family loading up four blocks down the way, we would still be running after that clunker.

Once in Barra I fulfilled Mission #11, which was to photograph a sand castle. The sand structure is not the best, as it turns out we are experiencing some large tides today and there was not much sand construction go down. Every time a castle was build the waves devastated it and the children were sad.

I’m re- posting a picture of the ceviche that I ate as “You eating something you have never eaten before.” because I have never eaten sierra and certainly not sierra as ceviche.

Mission #5 was “You in a crowd of more than 20 people.” Linda got a shot of me with the children and parents in the plaza as the young ones painted ceramics.

Finally we got this picture of pigs, to fulfill Mission #10 “A live farm animal.” It was taken outside the market where we shop, and the pigs were not happy. Not happy to be there, they were ok with us taking the photo though.

Misión Número Seises

The idea of haveing a taco cart that caters to the karaoke crowd could only happen in Mexico. For 6 pesos you could karaoke and then for 8 pesos have a taco. The photo below shows the owner serving as his buddy sings. The guy singing was no Barry Manilow, that's for sure!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Mariachi Band In A Mariachi Van

One of the Missions Alex presented me with was to get a photo of a Mariachi band. The story behind the photo is far better than the photos them self, I’ll leave it up to Alex to accept everything as fulfilling the Mission.

As we ate dinner at one of the restaurants just off the plaza I heard the brief timbre of trumpets. Our eyes scanned the plaza searching for the source of the music. It was gone and we could not pinpoint where it originated. We finished our meal and paid la quenta. Again, we heard the sound of music, but this time the direction and source was clear. There was a Mariachi band in the church service. Immediately Linda said, “You can’t take pictures in the church service!”

We wandered into the plaza keeping out eye on the church. For desert tonight we both agreed on churros and we walked over to the churro cart on the corner. We ordered uno bosa each and spotted a bench in the park where we could sit, watch the crowds, and eat our sugary snacks.

Tonight the plaza was packed. Kids were playing with the new toys they had received for Christmas, young adults were dressed in their tightest new outfits, mothers and fathers were escorting grandparents; all is a whirlpool parade of color rotating around center plaza.

We watched it all from our cement park bench, each little event in the lives of the parade participants bringing smiles to our faces. Suddenly Linda’s attention turned to her left, directly over my shoulder. “MARIACHI” she exclaimed. I was caught off guard and was a bit confused. I scanned the plaza trying to figure out why there would be a Mariachi without the wonderfully exciting sound of the music they play? Linda punched me and told me to get my camera out.

Over my shoulder stood a van, and as I searched for my camera, low and behold a true Mariachi band was loading into the van. No pomp and circumstance, no music; just instruments, sombreros and traditionally dressed Mariachi.

I hesitated, then I tried to get the correct setting for my camera, and then the moment was gone and all I could do was hope that I caught some of the moment so I could fulfill my Mission. I submit these photos as fulfillment of Mission 9. (Note in one photo you can make out the gutar and stand up bass.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pescado En

This time I did everything right, for sure! Jerry picked us up at 6:30 AM and we drove over and picked up our fourth seat, Dave, who was staying at Laguna Del Tule. Don and Caroline had met Dave and his wife Cindy when they were out for breakfast the other day. Dave is a retired High School teacher who lives in Coquille, Oregon. We were on time and so was Dave! Packed to the gills in Jerry’s truck we drove to Barra and loaded the boat.

Today, Jerry had a plan. We ran out to about the 8 ½ mile point and then we rigged our lines. In fact Jerry placed the first line in the water and immediately we had our first fish. (Note in the photo of Dave and Caroline that there are no other lines in the water.) Dave landed the first fish and then the action continued. In all we landed six Dorado in the two hours that followed; four real nice ones and two small fish. The two smaller ones we kept, only because they were hooked so bad that they would not have lived. Even though they were small they still provided two real nice filets apiece.

After the first two hours of catching, we started fishing. We followed the trash line and tried to entice more fish out, but the bite was off. During the next several hours we saw sailfish, dolphins, and lots of kelp floating, but we had no other strikes the rest of the day.
Jerry kept tabs on the other boats out on the water and he said no one caught any Dorado, and there was only one sailfish reported caught. The one sailfish was caught 20 miles out, so we were not even close to that area.

At the end of the day we ran downwind back to port with our catch of six. Jerry filleted the fish and we took home six nice sides of fish. David took the rest of the filets and Jerry bagged the egg row. The count ended up three males and three females. It was the usual type of day with the best Captain in Barra.

The Mission:

8) You driving a boat.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Mission - #3, #4, #7

3. You drinking something you have never drank before.

I do not exactly know what this drink was, it had tequila in it and some pineapple. What make this drink so strange is that it was being passed out by a group of revelers in the plaza. They were advertising an up coming bull fight and were getting the crowd ready with loud music, dancing and booze.

4. A live bird other than a seagull.

7. Linda next to a fountain.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Welcome to Ricky's, I Am Ricky!

Crossing the threshold, we were immediately met by a dark skinned man with bright eyes and a bright smile. Flamboyant and poised, “Welcome to Ricky’s, I am Ricky!” he said. The restaurant was nicely decorated with colorful ceiling flags, strings of colored lights in artistic designs, and photo collages of pictures and newspaper clippings. We were asked where we wanted to sit; we chose the table closest to the door. It was not that we felt we needed to be able to leave fast; we just wanted to be farther away from the music speakers. A 50’s music mix flowed from the speakers on the small stage at the front of the room. Ricky sat us and in a flurry returned to his table of friends.

We had a very nice dinner, the men ate rib eye steak and the women ordered breast of chicken. It was served in a very nice presentation and was incredibly good. It was ladies night at Ricky’s and so their drinks and food were half off, this made the meal well worth dropping in this Christmas Eve.

As soon as we had our desert I got up from my seat and walked back to check out the collages of photos. The first two groups were shots from big parties at the restaurant. I skimmed over the photos, it was mostly Ricky and his friends, Ricky with women, couples, and a few shots of people dancing. I noticed Ricky up on stage and playing a guitar in several of the shots, but nothing said who “I am Ricky” was.

The next group of photos told more of the story. Before me were newspaper clips describing the air crash of a large Canadian commercial air lines. It included stories of how badly hurt Ricky was and how heroic he had been during the crash and rescue. There was a citation of bravery and photos of him in a wheelchair. As I looked over the photos Don, Caroline and Linda finished their dinners and the table was cleared.

I returned to my seat and within a second Ricky checked in on us and asked how our dinner had been. He sat and began to tell the Ricky story from beginning to end. He was interesting to listen to and boy that man can talk!

Ricky has dual citizenship in Canada and Costa Rica; he was born in the rainforests of that beautiful lush country and started singing when he was very young. As Ricky spoke we all listened intently, because we could not get a word in edgewise. We learned that he was in the largest Canadian airliner crash in their flying history, which he had survived but was very battered and was told he would never walk or sing again. Several times he alluded to the fact that Canadian pilots stop by his place and remember the crash as they eat dinner. “This is a very popular restaurant you know” he would say with a smile. He explained his injuries in detail and made comments about the surgery for burns and the replacement of his teeth. He repeated that he had only had plastic surgery around his eyes and that only when he was tired can you notice some clues that he had gone through such trauma and pain. The plane crash was 19 years ago and now he looks better than ever. I admit I would have never placed him at 69 years of age.

Ricky talked about his daughter and her grand kids, his ex-wife, his sister who died 12 years ago of cancer. We learned he has a girlfriend who was involved, as an innocent bystander, in a nationally publicized bank robbery. She was instrumental in guiding the SWAT team via cell phone to get the robbers. Ricky related stories of the parties where famous people had stopped by and played music at his restaurant. One of the stories was of Carlos Santana’s cousin, Mario Santana, who is “just as good as Carlos.” Mario played to a packed house at Ricky’s; it was the event of the year.

While Ricky talked he dropped hints about his performances on Ed Sullivan, he talked about how he had taken the aircraft that night and his band “The Travelers” had driven the equipment to their next gig, and thus his band evaded the disaster of the plane crash. He went into detail about his ethnic background and his heritage lines. Each time he mentioned an event at Ricky’s he emphasized how popular the place was and how his management ideas and style made fans of the establishment. We listened and he talked.

After about 45 minutes we had to excuse ourselves and leave. Ricky was very nice, a gentleman, an entertainer. As we walked back to our house, which was just around the corner, we laughed about Ricky and how he told us so much without any of us asking a single question. Linda had noticed that he kept saying how popular his place was, but we were his only guests of the evening. We had passed the place many times the past two years and there had never been more than a couple people in the restaurant.

At home I Goggled Ricky Campbell, Ricky Campbell and the Travelers, Canadian air crashes, and everything I could think of to find out more about Ricky, but I couldn’t find anything. I even Goggled Mario Santana, but only found a soccer star by that name.

The pictures on the wall tell the story. The news paper clippings are real and the citation of heroism was as authentic as anything I have seen. Christmas Eve in Melaque, at Ricky’s, eating and drinking with Ricky himself; could we have written a better chapter in a book? I don’t think so.

The Early Evening - Feliz Navidad

We walked to the cambio so that Don and Caroline could get some cash before the holidays broke upon us. As we strolled we noticed that another small shop had opened up. In Mexico, shops open and close at a blink of an eye. One night a shop will be there the next it is gone. Same thing happens with food carts and restaurants. They open for the tourist season or special holidays and close as soon as the potential customers are gone.

The new shop had some cool items. We liked a couple bracelets with hearts on them, and a blue wind sock type decoration caught my eye. I thought it would look good hanging outside our camper in the summer. Linda did her barter thing and the shop keeper knocked five bucks off the price, so we bought it. So far I have bought three items, all of them for our camper.
After the big purchase we went to the store and on the way back to the plaza we ran into a cart selling churros. As we watched the vendor squirt the batter into the hot oil, a very nice lady explained all about how good they were. The vendor gave us samples and, of course, we ended up purchasing a bag of the warm treats for each couple.

The plaza was teaming with excitement and loud music. A band and several people were advertizing an upcoming festival and bull fight. They played music as people danced and acted like bulls and matadors. We watched and took some shots as we ate our churros, then we walked to the doughnut man and made our nightly purchases.

From there we walked to a restaurant called Ricky’s that is located close to our house. Santa passed by in a sled on top of a truck and tossed us some candy. Our Christmas evening was in full swing, how could you beat, churros, bull fights, doughnuts and Santa?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Potpourri Post

I've got several photos that I have taken, but they don't fit into a post, so I am going to let you see them here.

We saw this group of fellas as we walked into dinner last night.
You can make your own caption! I'll start:
1) So the poker game is at Max's later tonight right?
2) Boy I hope the economy picks up, this place is dead!

I was thinking of using that as one of Alex's challenges. #6 Something you would not expect to see in Mexico. Dean and a cat cohabitating. Will it work?

How about Linda in the pool from the roof top.

Water skiing with the locals?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Work Out

I was so excited about our day of fishing that we had planned, that I even stayed home last night to get to bed early. I packed my day pack with camera, sun screen, pesos, and a couple things for lunch that didn't need to be in the refrigerator. Then I got all the items that I would wear ready and placed by the bed. I set my alarm for 5:30 AM; an hour should be enough time to finish packing the few items I would need.

Linda, Don and Caroline walked into town and picked up a few items from the market. I worked on the computer and talked with Alex a bit. When they all returned Linda surprised me with a couple tamales that she had purchased from a cart vendor. The vendor was known for her tamales and especially for the pineapple tamales that sold out every night. I ate the pork tamales as I worked on the computer, they were real good!

We turned in early and I actually slept very well. I have a hard time adjusting to the warm night air, so sleep sometimes evades me. Don was up a 5:00 AM and hearing him in the kitchen rousted me out of bed. I got dressed and drank some coffee. Don's coffee was a bit weaker that I prefer so I fixed a big mug of Dean's camping coffee and settled in to snack on a Mexican cookie. Geraldo was picking us up at 6:30 AM so I had some time before he arrived.

Geraldo had stopped by the evening prior and we had talked about fishing. He was a bit apologetic about the fishing conditions. He explained that the water was still a bit too warm for the fish to move down from the upper Pacific. The cooler currents had not arrived and so the fish had not appeared either. He was guessing the Dorado, tuna and sailfish were still north in cooler water, but were heading this way. Reports said that a couple Dorado had been caught and that the tuna were off shore, but not really hitting like they usually do. All this was his way of preparing us, so that when he suggested we fish for sierra and rooster fish, we would be more agreeable. Geraldo really does not know us very well, we are the type that love fishing no matter what we fish for. Sierra and rooster fish would be just great for us and catching was not the primary goal, being on the ocean fishing was our goal.

I finished my coffee and walked into the bathroom for my final constitutional before we left. It hit me so fast that there was nothing I could do. Within seconds I was wet in a cold sweat, dizzy, and feeling like I was about to vomit. That fast! I gave it my best shot and I really tried to get so I felt better but after three sessions, Geraldo arrived and Don and Caroline loaded up and I had to let them go. I walked to my bed and crashed for the next four hours.

When I awoke I felt much better. I stayed around the place and played cards with Linda. Don and Caroline did a four hour fishing trip instead of the usual six hour and caught 10 sierras. They surprised us by coming back so early, but they were happy with the length of time on the boat. I felt bad that I couldn't go, when they were out I kept looking out over the water and wishing I was out there. Linda kept reminding me that it was out of my circle of control and that I should let it go. I did and ended up beating her in cards, it now stands 5-3 in Bugs favor.

We got the call from next door to come on over and play volleyball. Linda, Caroline and I climbed the fence and joined the crowd in the pool for about an hour. Don was having a massage from a traveling heath guy, he calls himself "The Healing Man", and it's printed on his cards. As we jumped and splashed, Don got what he calls the best massage of his life. This was the first massage that Don had received by a male masseuse. This gave us some great chuckles at the dinner table as Don tried to play down that fact.

We all went down town to Sr. Froy's and had a great dinner. The talk of the town was once again how empty it has been. We've noticed a lack of tourists. I hope that this down turn in the economy doesn't make the people suffer down here, but then again maybe it will slow the pace of discovery down a bit.

Walking home we talked about friends, and experiences that we have in common. People that we met down in Mexico and places we all have been. The evening was warm and a bit muggy, not much breeze to speak of at all. We readied ourselves for bed and I added a few notes to the blog. I never wonder why we come here, I just know why.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last Night

It's early, 6:00 AM Cd'A time, about 8:00 AM Melaque time. Linda hit the road for a long run this morning. She was in crisis, her heart rate monitor died; I hope she can still run without it. I am a bit tired due to the big party last night. We didn't attend, we just listened, and I gave up trying to sleep until it ended at about 2:00PM.

When I was a kid and visiting my aunt's farm, I thought it was so cool to go to the stack of irrigation pipes and talk into them and hear the deep resonate echo that my voice produced. I would lower my voice an octave and talk like a radio announcer and the combination of the aluminum pipes and their length would make the greatest sounds.

In Mexico, the building material preference is concrete. The construction workers here are artists in this media and can construct almost anything out of this hard rock substance. If you have ever been in a cave or a concrete room, you will know where I am heading with this story. In a cave you talk and your voice resonates, echoes and bounces off the walls. It's much the same in a concrete house. Sounds are not amplified; they just seem to vibrate in your ears in many directions.

Four blocks from our house is the plaza for the city of Villa Obregon. It is a nice area used for special occasions and for public gatherings. The plaza is not the hub of local activity. Most people, including us, will walk to the plaza in Melaque and gather to watch each other. This plaza is the place to be each night and the hub of the village for the locals.

Last night in the Villa Obregon plaza there was a concert of sorts. At about 6:00 PM the deep throaty voice of an announcer blasted out of the PA system. Shortly thereafter the music began. It is hard to describe the musical style of this group. Sort of a combination of ranchera, interpreted by a band of mariachis and played in combination with Ska and Techno back beats. The band had a sick tuba player that could take the lead on any song they performed, which he did on a regular basis.

I believe that the mariachis would play the backbone of the song and the lead singer would perform the lyrics, all the while the tuba and the announcer would be improvising vigorous repetition of some techno/ska beats and rhythms. The songs were performed well, at times, and the vocals were clear and sometimes enjoyable. Each musical piece wound into the next. Each came together via a repetitive techno bridge or the booming voice of the announcer tying the previous song to the next. The drummer hammered out rhythms that never ended and sometimes didn't fit.

In our room, with all the concrete echoes, the crashing of the ocean waves and the party-ers on the beach, the music sounded exactly like a middle school band practice that would never end! We had ear plugs in and pillows over our heads but we could not muffle the sound enough to sleep. I gave up about midnight and laid on my back listening to the music, trying to figure out where the mariachis ended and the techno began. Siesta will be a big part of our day today.

Friday, December 19, 2008


If you follow our blog you read about the hassles we had flying down to Mexico. They were a bit nerve racking, but the results were for the best. Most of the problems we encountered were out of our circle of control. I try to look at happenings with an eye on how they fit into the circles of control that are in our lives. If the event is something we have no control over, I try not to let it get to me and cause me stress. The events during our flight down were not controllable, so why worry! (Yes I was stressed, how can you not!)

There were other events prior to our departure that were also out of our circle of control, that once they were put in place, proved to turn out very lucky. Linda purchased our plane tickets back in February. We made our final arrangement to stay at the house in Melaque, our friends Don and Caroline confirmed to join us and all the details fell together.

As the months past our travel agent checked on our tickets and found that the direct flight from Spokane to Los Angles had been canceled. Alaska was no longer offering a direct flight out of Spokane to LAX and we would have to fly to Seattle via Horizon Air. Our travel agent worked with the airlines and got things arranged but the only way we would be able to work it out was to take a flight that arrived late in Seattle and stay overnight there. This would be an inconvenience and because of this we were given a free room for the night at a hotel near the airport.

Then as our agent tried to book the flights we found that even though we had started the arrangement in February, when they canceled our tickets we were not given any sort of priority for booking flights through Seattle. The agent worked hard but found that the only guaranteed flights would be leaving two days earlier then when we were planning to leave. This meant that Linda had to get more days off work and that we would need one more night at our house in Melaque.

Again everyone went to work. I got my days off, Linda wrote a letter to the superintendant and was give the okay to take the days, and we contacted the owner of the house, Martha, and found that it was available for that time. In fact, when Linda told Martha the story about our ticket problems she did not charge us for that early night at the place. So if you are keeping track, which is one night at a hotel and one night at the house free!

As soon as we confirmed that we could leave early, our travel agent went ahead and started dealing with the airlines. She booked us on the early flights and in doing so was able to get us two complimentary round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies, all this because of the hassles we were put through. Add two round trip tickets worth an average of $600 each to the toke board.

Everything that went wrong was set right. We actually were not inconvenienced by the results and we received some very good paybacks. But wait, it does not stop there. If you have been following the weather in Coeur d'Alene you have noticed the horrible storm that moved into the area dropping up to 25 inches of snow on the ground. This storm closed schools, the college, roads, and yes the airport.

Our original tickets were booked for December 18, 2008. If those tickets were still good, we would not have been able to fly out that day, the airport was closed.

Linda and I have always believed in Karma of some type. We call it River Karma. If you do good while on the river, good will be returned to you. We're not sure where or when we did a good thing to get us down here, but we are grateful and will keep on the lookout for ways to "pay it forward."

Larry and the Gang

You could hear the clamor from all over the neighborhood. Larry and his gang were in the pool playing volleyball again. This is a daily ritual and they are obsessive about it. Linda and I jumped the fence and joined in the fun. Larry's pool is good for 4X4 teams, any more people and it gets a bit crowded. They play VB like you would think older folks would play. Carries, tosses, redo's on serves, this is not your Olympic caliber play. In fact if you set someone you better bounce it off their head over the net because that would work best.

Linda had a few problems to day. First off every time she jumped her swimsuit bottom would fall off. I can understand her side of it, but being that she was the only female in the pool, and a mighty fine looker at that, she should have used those cute little BAs as part of her strategy. That bit of distraction may have helped her team quite a bit. I know it would have helped build our standing in the VB community.

The second problem was that she wanted to play as a team. She would bump set to the middle, only to see the ball drop in front of one of the boys. I could tell she was a bit frustrated because normal VBers would have used the sets to their advantage. In this game I found out very quickly that the best way to play is every man or woman for them self. The ball comes your way; you send it back, ASAP. Don't rely on sets, because all they do is surprise the rest of your team.

The third problem was that she was on Arts side. Art is one of the regulars who live over at Larry's. He does not like to lose and he will do anything to win. He is nice enough about it, but you know the type. We played three games right off and Larry and my team won them all. Art was not happy, but controlled. Linda and I were going to leave but Art wanted to play some more. Then as we played on, our team lost a couple close ones. Art was a bit happier. In the final game we lost and Art was back to normal. I am glad for Linda they won and I am glad for everyone over there that Art won.

After volleyball we returned to the house to sun and relax. Pool volleyball can really take it out of you!

Casa Video

Mission #12 - A reptile.

A lizzard was lounging in the sun when we went to Barra d Navidad. It had located its self on the malecon leading to the site of my geocache. I snaped the picture and he slowly slithered into his hole.

Mission #1 - A fish other than a dorado, sailfish, or bonita.

Two young boys were fishing of the malecon in Barra. They had caught two Needlefish and were after more. They use a hook with some bate and a length of fishing line as their weapon. It looked like fishing was a bit slow, but they were very persistent.

Needlefish Info from the web:

Fish Identification Photos: Pacific Needlefish, Tylosurus pacificus: The Pacific Needlefish is characterized by a dark blue-green back which is green upon collection and quickly turns to dark blue, silver belly, and distinctly eponymous “needlelike” appearance. The Pacific Needlefish has a long slender beak, 17 percent of its body length, and short pectoral and pelvic fins, both less than 8 percent of itsbody length). The inside of the mouth is a distinctive green coloration.

The bottom lobe of the Pacific Needlefish's forked caudal fin is much longer than the top lobe. The Pacific Needlefish has a raised, prominent black keel at the tail base. The Pacific Needlefish is quite similar to and can be confused with the Giant Mexican Needlefish, Tylosurus crocodiles fodiator (short beak, less than 17 percent of body length, and long pectoral and pelvic fins greater than 8 percent of body length, a more robust body, and an off-white colored mouth).

The Pacific Needlefish is a member of a group of coastal and oceanic pelagic schooling fish that are normally found on the surface well off shore that belong to the Belonidae or Needlefish Family.

The Pacific Needlefish has a limited distribution, being found in Mexican waters south of Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula, in the lower one-third of the Sea of Cortez, and throughout the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico. It appears to be absent from around the oceanic islands. It reaches a maximum of 4 feet in length and is normally found in the first 25 feet of the water column. The Pacific Needlefish is viewed by locals as poor table fare and a “catch and release.” It feeds mainly on small schooling fish such as anchovies, herrings and mullets, and they are not known to attack larger reef fishes.

The Harris Effect

Every year Alex Harris presents me with a photo challenge for our trip down to Mexico. I believe the challenge has been developed to get old Deano out of his comfort zone, so when you see the challenge photo and think about me accomplishing the challenge, it might make you smile.

Here is this years list:

…should you choose to accept it:

Take a picture of:

  1. A fish other than a dorado, sailfish, or bonita.
  2. you eating something you have never eaten before.
  3. You drinking something you have never drank before.
  4. A live bird other than a seagull.
  5. You in a crowd of more than 20 people.
  6. Something you would not expect to see in Mexico.
  7. Linda next to a fountain.
  8. You driving a boat.
  9. A Mariachi band.
  10. A live farm animal.
  11. A sand castle.
  12. A reptile.

Good Luck.


Of course I accept!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Barra de Navidad, el Destinacion

We got up a bit earlier this morning and walked to Barra via the sandy playa. The walk hasn't changed much since we started visiting this area. It still is a warm trudge through thick foot sucking sand. At the end of the walk we were sweaty, thirsty, and ready to explore.

We ate desayuno at Mexico Lindo. It was a wonderful meal, much larger than we expected and very, very good. Linda had Huevos Revueltos with fresh fruta and I ordered chilaquiles con pollo and then we shared molletes azucar y canela. Way too much for the morning breakfast but we did walk the beach sands to get here so what the heck.

We walked out and took a picture of the area where my virtual geocache is located. It's been quite a few years since I established the cache, it gets hit quite a bit during the tourist season. Each time we are down visiting, it usually gets hit a couple times. Last year we had a beer with two cachers from Canada, after they found it, while we were in Mexico. It's considered a virtual cache, which means it has no hidden container to find. In the caching world it's old school and rather renegade. They won't let you post that type any longer. I guess you would have to establish it as a waymark, not a geocache.

We shopped a bit and Linda bartered for her usual friendship bracelets that she gives the kids in her class. I always want her to give the good kids bracelets and the three odd butt heads, give them some sand. Linda treats them all the same no matter how big of s#%* heads they are.

About the time when I was wearing out, Linda said she was ready to walk back to Melaque. Wait a minute, walk back? We split up and I headed to catch a bus with my 6 pesos Linda assured me would get me home, and Linda started walking the beach back to the homestead. I must have just missed my bus because I had to wait quite a while but eventually it rounded the corner and ground to a stop. I jumped on board and handed the driver my 6 big ones. He handed me 1 back and we were on our way. The bus system is very easy to use, not real comfortable, but it beats walking the beach in the hot sun. I arrived at the corner next to our house just seconds after Linda arrive via her beach route. If I had hit the bus at a better time and then got off when the bus made its turn south after four blocks on Reforma, I would have beat her by about 10 minutes or more. That little tidbit is good to know if you are ever trying to win pesos off the tourists by racing them home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tummy Full

We just returned from dinner at Ava a restaurant located about four blocks from here. It was Italian night there so Linda had fajitas and I had carne asada. Just couldn't have Italian on the second night in Mexico, it just didn't sound right. The meal was very good and we demolished every bit of it including two bowls of salsa. Salsa down here is an exciting adventure. Each eatery produces their own salsa and each batch has its own distinctive flavor. Tonight's was very fresh with bits of very hot peppers. The batch this afternoon at Bigote's, had more sweet onions and less bite. I have not met a salsa I didn't like down here.

Our day started late due to the fact that we were exhausted from yesterday. Linda worked out and I had coffee while posting on the blog. Once we got it all together and had breakfast, we headed to the market. Market day is always fun. You don't need to buy anything, it's just a kick to wander and look at all the people pawing through all the junk imported from China. Last year I posted some video from the market, so this year I figured I would give you a break. We bought a small ceramic lizard. We'll put it into the camper next to last year purchase of some Day of the Dead art.

We ran into Buzz, an old friend that we met the very first year we came down to Melaque. I always look for him and feel better knowing he is still doing well. Buzz has to be in his late 80's now, but he still can talk your leg off. If you stop to chat with Buzz, you better have most of the afternoon to do so. We chatted until someone else he knew stopped by and we used the distraction to slip away. I don't know how many years he will be around, but I will look for him each time we visit.

We walked down to the beach and had lunch at Bigote's. I had a couple beers and Linda drank a margarita. It is not crowded in town yet, from what we have heard it's been a very slow tourist season start. Old Buzz expressed how glad he was that the economy may not have closed the tourist season completely, but it has been very sparse.

Back at the house, both Linda and I laid down to read, but fell sound asleep. I slept for about two hours and only read about a page and a half.

It doesn't take long to get into the groove down here. I think we are doing fine. Let see; 85 degrees, sunshine, salsa, good food and absolutely no SNOW! Yep, I could do this for a while!

Lunch Break at the Beach

The second photo is for Beth. She'll remember the spot and the menu. Then all I can say is we had lunch and beverages.

OMG, Are We There Yet?

1:30 AM Tuesday, Dec. 16

When the radio started playing Linda was up in her usual manner. 1:30, 3:30; not much difference I guess, just another day for her. I heard the creak of the lock on the kennel and a few seconds later Kobi wiggled up to my side of the bed. When he approaches his entire body is shaking, but then he puts his nose under the covers and pushes his head against me and stands perfectly still; leaning, licking and loving me. He really wants me to get up now, but he also wants to have his head held and his ears scratched. I roll out of bed, jump into the hot shower and our vacation begins.

It's about 4 degrees outside and if the truck hadn't been plugged in, it probably would have been a bugger to start. We let it warm up as we load our bags, say good bye to Kobi and hit the road. We arrive at the airport at about 3:20 am. The place is empty. Well, there were about three other travelers, but they were sleeping. Within a few minutes things started to wake up, airline check-in followed by the TMA security. Our first foreshadowing of what was to follow came when we checked in and our agent mentioned that the flight we were booked on was delayed because the flight crew arrived in Spokane late the prior evening and they needed to sleep in so they were rested.

Travelers filtered in to the waiting area as pre dawn moved closer to sunrise. We waited, knowing that the longer we were delayed the more flights out of Seattle we would miss. As we sat there a familiar face came over to greet us. It was a gentleman we had met last year as we traveled down and back to Mexico. Traveling from Canada to Manzanillo he was with his wife and two kids. They were on all the same flights as us and they were also concerned about how late our take off had been pushed.

8:30 AM Tuesday, Dec. 16

The flight over was uneventful, once the crew arrived. We walked directly from our arrival gate to the gate from which we were to depart. The delay in Spokane had caused us to miss our original flight out of Seattle to LAX. The Horizon check in lady had booked us seats on the next available flight out of SeaTac, but had told us to check in and pick up our boarding passes when we arrived at the gate. Linda met the first agent and the panic started. The agents expressed concern about us making the departure when we arrived in LA. They said the Horizon employee should not have let us leave Spokane that late. It would be very close making our connection, almost too close! They said we had no margin for errors and could not have any delays or we would be out of luck. We got our boarding passes and gathered with our fellow travelers from Canada. They had been told the same thing and as we talked, the minutes passed and our flight grew later and later.

Eventually we were allowed to board, found out seats and settled in. Everything was loaded and the doors were shut when the flight attendants came back in and asked a man to leave the plane. We didn't know exactly why he had to leave, but it put us further behind on our departure schedule. Once that situation was behind us we were allowed to push out of the gate. As we moved slowly away the plane came to a stop. We sat there for several minutes and our pilot came over the intercom and explained that we had gotten stuck on ice and they were in the process of getting a pusher with chains on the tires to get us going again. Our hopes grew slim as we waited to get the plane free from the icy grip.

We were now 45 minutes behind schedule of our already 1 ½ hour delay and we were just getting off the ground in Seattle. The flight captain furthered our anxiety when he came over the cabin speakers and apologized for all the delays and said that we would have clear skies, but did not have a tail wind so we would not make up any time.

We sat back and waited. At 10:30 am our Canadian friend stopped by and grimly reminded us that we were supposed to be boarding right then. We crossed our fingers and smiled.

11:15 AM Tuesday, Dec. 16

We started our decent into LAX and our hopes of making the connection flight lowered as we lost altitude. We were holding on to a slim hope that was given to us by the Seattle check in crew. We were told that there were two flights scheduled for LA at about the same time. The other flight was delayed like ours was and that flight started to take off for the south but was turned back for some reason. The people traveling to Manzanillo on that flight were forced to join our flight. This brought the number of travelers that would miss the next flight to about fifteen. They said that we had better odds of our connecting flight being held because of this. All we could do was wait and see.

As we made our final approach the flight attendant came on the system and explained that the 30 people who were booked to travel to Loreto would be able to make their flight because they had held their plane. People traveling to Puerto Vallarta would have to hurry but they would make their flight. Then finally they said the people traveling to Manzanillo would have to see the booking agent because we were re-booked. Our hearts sank. We were over an hour late and they did not hold our plane. This meant that we may not be able to get out for several days.

Dragging our bags, we walked to the ticket agent to see what we needed to do. Our vacation plans might be taking a shift for the worst. Linda caught the agent's attention and asked what the folks that missed the flight to Manzanillo were to do. She looked up and said, "They are holding your plane and you need to run to Gate 37." We took off on a full sprint. When we hit the gate the attendant was in full smile mode. "Relax" he told us, we had made the flight.

We scurried on to the plane and found our seats. As we entered the cab people cheered. I guess they had been there for about an hour waiting for us. We were so thankful! Our Canadian friends entered shortly after that and they closed the plane's door. Wow what a trip! Mexico here we come!

The flight down was painless. Our seats were next to an older gentleman traveling to stay at his condo in Manzanillo. He said he had been traveling down to this area for about 30 years and was staying for five months. We smiled as he said that his Mexican girl friend was waiting for him at the airport with a taxi. His carry on bag consisted of three expensive bottles of whisky. "I'll be there five months you know!" he said as he proudly showed Linda his stash.

3:15 PM (Pacific Time) Tuesday, Dec. 16

We arrived, landed and deplaned with no problems. It was about 84 degrees as we worked our way through the maze of customs and security people. This year's transition from passenger to visitor was amazingly painless. We usually have stories about the customs people, or better yet, the stupid gringos that think they don't have to flow with the lines of people or are totally obnoxious the entire time we are in line. This year we had none of that and were out at the taxi area within about fifteen minutes.

In the blogs of the past you have always been treated to a description of our taxi ride from the airport to Melaque that I liken to driving in a NSACAR event. This year's drive was fast, but relatively calm. Calm on Mexico roads, would be like driving 50 miles and hour through the new construction that just took place on Prairie Avenue in northern Coeur d'Alene. Every slowdown is an opportunity to pass; every topa is another obstacle that tests their shocks. We were able to communicate "Numero un, Reforma" to the driver, and then figure out that it was San Patricio, not Melaque. That was our fault; we know that there are three small cities combined into the area we stay. From south to north they are San Patricio, Melaque, and Obregon. We arrived at the beach house at about 5:45 PM and were met by Leone and our next door neighbor Larry.

6:15 PM'ish (Mexico Time) Tuesday, Dec. 16

Leone showed us the new security system and explained some of the changes. Not many, but it's nice to have a refresher course on some of the house intricacies. We walked down town and had dinner at La Bueno Gusto where waiter Hildaguo remembered us from last year and was very excited to see us. After dinner we went and bought supplies and walked home. The bed shouted our names and we turned in by 9:00 PM Mexican time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Things come faster than you think.

It's Saturday morning and we are getting ready to start the weekend, it seems that the year is flying by. I look back at the blog and we were just at Thanksgiving and before that we were putting the camper away. That was just yesterday wasn't it?

Now it is time to get ready for our trip and we need to make sure everything is in order. We also must contact people before the holidays and exchange gifts, have dinners and do the pre vacation thing. Then, to top it all off, it is also that time of year when the stress of the season take its toll by wearing us down.

Three days ago my ear started to hurt, then within a day it became painful and now I am on meds to stop the infection that developed. Linda came home yesterday with a cold. No matter how hard we try to stay healthy when we are leaving for a trip, the stress catches up with us and we catch something. My ear thing is weird but manageable. I've taken some pills and it feels much better. Linda is holding on until we get down south where the sun can bake it cold out of her.

Our first duty was to make contact with Emily about her and big Jacks (her dog) taking care of our place and Kobi. Linda has met with her once already and given her a ten page document of Kobi care. She is used to the house and loves to stay because of the wireless access and that she is not at her place. She works at her job at the house via the computer and this location gives her lots of quiet, new places to run and a friend for Jacks to play with. We feel very good about leaving when the two of them are here.

Then we start the packing. We are trying to go light this year due to all the flight restrictions. One carry-on apiece and my "Darth Vader" with laptop, that's what we are trying for. It will be a challenge, but we need to try and make it work.

We fly out Tuesday morning and hop from Spokane to Seattle, to Los Angeles and then on to the Ctra Aereoputeo de Manzanillo north of Manzanillo, Mexico. The taxi ride from the airport always balances between a ride on "Timber Terror" and the final lap of the Daytona 500. I spend a lot of time watching Linda and laughing about how fast and crazy we are driving. On each ride I learn secrets on how to drive like a local in Mexico. Last year I observed that a set of topas, speed bumps, are great places to pass anything that is ahead of you, and the more you pass the more points you probably get. It is always like a computer driving game when you take the taxis of Mexico.

I'll be posting while we are in Melaque (the link will take you to our place, the small round pool is ours) again this year. We hope to visit Colima and Linda has plans to take the bus to a Saturday market in Cihuatlan. Don and Caroline, the friends that are sharing the house with us, have three fishing trips booked so we may have some fish pictures again this year. We cannot wait to get down there and in the warm weather. Like I said, I'll keep you all posted on our progress.

If you want to keep up with the weather down in Melaque, just check back here.

Click for Manzanillo Airport, Mexico Forecast

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

The Halbhuber clan hit Post Falls today for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad arrived at about 1:00 pm and then within fifteen minutes brother Jeff and his family filed in. We cooked a turkey with dressing, mashed potato's and gravy, beans with mushrooms and almonds, and a wonderful salad. We topped it all off with cherry pie and pumpkin pie and then we settled in to sleep and watch basketball. I tried to take a video of everyone but it didn't work quite right. I messed up some how and only caught the shots below.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Camper Project Winter Coming

This weekend we had a break in the weather and I had a chance to get the final touches on putting the camper to bed for the winter. Project one was to cover the solar pannels. Last year I worried every time we had snow. At one time we had almost two feet on top of the camper. I got up on top of our Snow River and measured the pannels. Then I was off to Home Depot.

The first guy that approached and asked if I needed help went the extra mile for me. He looked over my measurements and grabbed everything I needed. Then we walked back to the saws and he cut everything to size for me. What a great deal, all I had to do was stand there.

I drove home and assembled the covers. During the process I had to make a few cuts, but that made the project a bit funner. The final products were just what the doctor ordered.

I then spent an hour cleaning the bugs off the front of the camper. That wasn't to bad of a job and the surface looks great.

Finally I covered everything with a blue tarp to keep the worst of the weather off. By that time I was pooped and ready to come inside and rest my feet. We took Kobi to the Stinky park and played chuck-it and that was the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

51 in 08!

Sunday night I worked in the camper fixing the stereo system. Somehow the wires got messed up and we didn’t have sound coming out of one of the speakers. I worked to fix the problem by mending the wires I thought were the problem, but in the end I just cut all the wires and reconnected them following the diagram on the DVD unit. It worked out much better and I was able to finish the project with no real hassles.

By working in the camper it reminded me that we were done with our little home for the season. It is winterized and almost completely ready for the three months that we put it to bed. This weekend I will wash the exterior and cover it, of course that is only if the weather allows.

It’s sad to put the place away. I counted the nights that we used it this year and came up with about 51 nights last season. We stayed at some great places Heyburn State Park, Steamboat Rock State Park, Bell Bay, Priest Lake, Shoshone Creek, Coeur d’Alene River, Freeman Creek Campground on the Dworshak Reservoir, Grand Staircase-escalante National Monument and in the driveways of Linda’s parents and our home.

It was the year of the Dog you know. Linda and I talked about how we would not be able to do as much as years prior due to Kobi being added to our family. In fact we were only able to make one trip down on the Lower Salmon River this year; usually we get two or three in during the season. But we have enjoyed that little hound so much this summer that it was all worth it. Next year we will have no excuses for not getting out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fall Doldrums

We have entered the fall doldrums, a time where we have winterized our camper and are waiting for our annual trip to Mexico. What makes it so hard is that two of our good friends left for Mexico City today. We have always wanted to see that area of Mexico, but we will just have to wait.

In the doldrums, anyone who reads this blog will be forced to view blog entries that have very little to do with our travels. It will be much like the months leading to the nation's elections, I will post items that you probably don't want to see, like the political commercials.

Here is my first of such items. Friday was Halloween, I went running with my Hash group in Spokane. I looked like this:

Very Fitting wouldn't you say?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Last Hurrah!

It’s quiet right now; most of the camper folks are in their rigs doing whatever they do inside their mobile nests. We thought a lot about this weekend’s outing. It will probably be our last trip in the camper until spring break. We talked about going up to Priest Lake or up the Coeur d’Alene River. Both were good choices, but we felt that the cold weather may have taken hold of those areas and made them a bit too frigid. Steamboat Rock State Park has always been somewhat mild this time of year, the openness of the area lends to good sunshine if the clouds permit. We Googled the distance to Priest and then the distance to Steamboat Rock and found them to be almost the same drive. We checked the weather and it looked to be partly cloudy in both areas so we got on line and made our reservations.

The drive down was fun, Linda and I can travel together very well. We talk and make jokes, sometimes we talk about the future. It seems we have been talking about what we are going to do with our selves over the next two years quite a bit. Linda needs a change, and I will probably see a change when it comes to our jobs. So when we drive, we talk about the near future and we always talk about our retirement, today’s trip was no different.

When we hit the big town of Wilber, I needed a break, so we stopped at the grocery store. We bought a few items to munch on and I used the restroom. The store was quite busy and of course the checkout lady knew everyone. The campground was about 45 minutes down the road, through Grand Coulee and Electric City. We pulled in early and set up our camper, we had a great camp spot.

Once we got situated, I started a small little project on the camper. The light system for the back door gave us two options; the touch light, which stays on about fifteen seconds after you touch the pad, and a set of four lights that are controlled by a switch inside the camper. Both work great, but both have disadvantages. The touch pad doesn’t stay on long enough to let you do more than unlock the camper; the other system lights up the back like a 747 lights up the runway. When the second system is on it is actually lighting six bulbs. I feel that takes way too much power to leave it on very long. My solution was to buy a light that we could use on the back that was a compromise between the two. I went to Northwest RV and found a light called a Bunklight. It is a portable system that plugs into a special receptacle. My project today was to find a location and install the receptacle.

I took my time on the project. First I spent an hour looking over the camper trying to find a location for the receptacle where I could connect to power and be in a good location for the light. Once I found the perfect location, everything went very smoothly and within about an hour I had the job completed. While I worked Linda read and took a nap. Kobi chewed on a stick and played with his ball. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

We started a fire and I beat Linda in cribbage. It was dark by 6:30 pm and as it got dark the Mule Deer mover into the campground. Kobi did great with the animals moving about. He growled at them once and kept an eye on them all the time. As it got darker the deer moved in closer and at times they were within 25 feet of us. Kobi has developed a symbiotic relationship with them, they move closer, Kobi gets fresh deer poop to munch on. We have been kept busy telling Kobi that he should not eat the poop, he hasn’t got that yet.

Soup was on the menu for dinner so we tied up the dog and ate inside. I made heated up two types of soup. The chicken noodle from Costco was pre-made but it looked to be far too little for both of us. There was a bag of chicken tortilla soup that we had used down in Utah, so I mixed it up for me, hoping it would be good. Both soups were great! I ate the tortilla soup with corn tortillas heated on the stove. I could not believe the flavor. I’ll have to find more of the mix; it may be hard because we bought it in Utah. It’s called Bear Creek Chicken Tortilla Soup; if you see it, try it!

We cleaned up and took Kobi for his last walk. He went right into the crate and we went right to bed. The coyotes were out in force and they yipped several times during the night. It always makes me smile to hear them, they sound like they are enjoying the night.

Linda woke early and went out for a run, I got up and let Kobi out and put him on the rope. I made coffee and tea and watched the sunrise. At this early hour there are no clouds in the sky so I hope we get the warmth we were searching for.

Once Linda got back from her run she took Kobi for a walk. I made tea and took my coffee and Linda’s tea and joined the two of them. We walked for a bit and made our way into the direct sun light. It was warm and wonderful. Back at the camper I made breakfast and Linda took a shower. We got our gear together and headed out for our hike.

The destination was the top of Steamboat Rock, we have hiked it before but this time we are going to get to the eastern most points. There are about 600 acres at the top of the rock structure. The first time we hiked up we walked due north and looked down from that area. With the sun out and the 800 feet of elevation gain, we knew that we would be working up a sweat as we hiked.

Kobi lead the way and we tried real hard to keep him on the trail. As it turned out every time he left the trail he picked up a burr in his paw and had to get it taken out. He learned fast that the trail was the best place to walk. The trail is a wall worn path that starts steep and levels out, only to get steep two more times. Once on the top you get spectacular views of the coulee formed by glaciers and the floods of Lake Missoula. The cliffs are straight down, and every time we walked close both our stomachs turned. We put Kobi on the lead when we were walking along the big drops. I know he wouldn’t jump off, but he might trip, he runs like a water buffalo. I took a picture of a US Benchmark for Al Dee, eat your heart out.
The hike up was hard but rather fast, the hike down was slower and a bit harder due to our mature body parts. My knees took a bit of a beating and Linda was suffering from sore muscles that she had from weight lifting. All the way down it was little steps and grimaces. Kobi did fine, there were two spots where we had to show him the best way path down, but he never once complained.
We made it back to the camper and sat down to enjoy the warm sun. Linda worked on home work and read; I sat in the Lounge Lizard and immediately fell asleep. We stayed this way till about 5:00 pm and then we started moving again. We took a short walk and then I built the last fire of the season. We sat in the warmth of the fire, used all the wood and ate dinner. We didn’t want to go inside and end the summer’s firesides, but eventually we put the last stick on and were forced to turn in.