Friday, December 29, 2006

Alex's Mexico Scavenger Hunt

Alex sent us a list of pictures to take as a scavenger hunt; here are the results.

* Best Christmas Decoration.

Picture of a decorated apartment just off the town square in Melaque.

* Oldest person we can find.

Chewie beach host and caretaker at public campground, Tenacatita.

* A Dog.

Dog digging in the sands of Tenacatita.

* Any wildlife.

Crocs of La Manzanilla

* A Chef.

Head cook at Sr. Froy’s.

* Ryan in a Sombrero.

Ryan and Holly at Bigoties

* A Dolphin.

Saw many out fishing, but could not capture their picture. This will have to do.

* Someone Playing Futbal.

Big in Mexico, played on every beach. These kids ended up getting in a fist fight before it was all over, kid on the ground won. They take their futbal very seriously.

* Oddest T-Shirt.

Lots of shirts, this is the one I am giving to PPSBNP from the Hash.

* Something you would never expect in Mexico.

Christmas blowup decorations.

* Something you can’t find in Idaho.

Bonita! or

Ryan at a cliff side Bano (Big Cliff!)

* Dean with more than 10 people.

You have to trust me on this one; there are ten children and their mothers at this table. The photo angle makes it so I block out about seven little kids. It was probably the hardest picture to get because I am not good at walking into crowds and talking.
Or four fishermen and seven friends.!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hola, from Melaque

4:52 Am - Just checked through the airport security in Spokane. No problems really, the inspection guys checked my laptop and the CPaps but didn't have any problems. Everything we packed went through so Linda was relieved. Before we even sat down she was already figuring out how check through will be in LA. Our flight is on time, sky is clear and all systems are go; next stop will be LA and then on to Mexico.

As we sat at the airport in Spokane Kevin & Julie Kinchloe walked in to the same gate area. They were heading to La Paz for a week and were on the same flight into LA. We talked but it was obvious the Kinch was on a mission to get coffee and as I sat on the plane after loading, he arrived with cup in hand and a big smile on his face.

We sat next to a fellow from Canada all the way from Spokane to Manzanillo. He was very nice and became more talkative as he drank his Crown and waters. He was traveling with his wife and two kids but they were in the seats across the isle and we didn't have contact with them much. At LA I talked a bit to Kinch and we agreed that both couples are bound to become some form of snow birds. Whether it will be the ex patriot type or just the ones who head south, has not been determined, but our fate has been set by our dislike of the cold.

Back in the plane on the last leg of this journey our Canadian friend kept the conversation going. Now that we were out of LA the drinks started flowing faster and during the flight to Manzanillo he had about four C & Ws that we counted. He was very funny and had been down to his condo area many times establishing friendships with neighbors who travel down to the area from Guadalajara. Of course those friends were from very wealthy Mexican families so thus the funny stories of guns, big money and massive dinners.

We landed and were through the entire airport process is less then a half hour. It was 86 degrees and very little wind, but the airport is now air conditioned in side so we didn't notice the heat much. Beth was there waiting and she said we were the third folks through the stop lights ready to go. Taxi drivers were all over the place and ours was very eager to get going so off we went. The roads were very good between Maleque and the airport. I thought there would be massive construction but there were only about three detours and the rest of the road was smooth sailing. Smooth sailing at 140 kilometers per hour! The average speed was posted at 40 kph and the regular speed was about 100 kph, but I don't think that hold true for taxi drivers. He was fast and very smart in the way he passed. Every topa became a passing zone and we were able to pass up to five vehicles at each topa. The trip took little time and we arrived in Maleque to the beach house in one piece.

Leone was there to greet us and let us into our place. We talked for a while, unpacked our suitcases and then walked down the beach to Bigoties to eat dinner and have a drink. One margarita and the women folks were ready to start their vacation. The sunset was fabulous and as we drank and ate we quickly remembered why we love it down here.

After dinner we walked to the Supermarket and did some shopping. From there we wandered to the bank so Beth could get some cash to live on, and then we returned home. With the sunset, the breeze had died so the house was very warm. We talked and let the little breeze that was out there flow through moving some of the hot air out ant then we went to bed, all of us exhausted from our travels.

One book down and moving into my second. If I start writing in short, to the point, sentences it is because I am reading a Spencer novel by Robert B. Parker. I can get lost in his books real fast. Last night we went to Carlos and Charlie's for snacks and drinks as the sun set. We talked with the waiter and found out quite a bit about life in Melaque, why he is a waiter, where people go when they head to the US from this little town and that the restaurant in Seattle called Melaque's is owned by a family from, where else, Melaque. He was quite cute and really wanted to use his English as much as possible. I was impressed by everyone and how they were able to chat with out too much confusion.

After snacks we walked over to one of our favorite down town restaurants, El Buen Gusto. I had the pork tacos, Linda had the chicken tacos and Beth ordered a bowl of Pazoli. Total cost for the meal was just over ten dollars including tip, which makes the meal even better. We walked to a little store for supplies and then went and sat in the town square for about 45 minutes. It was real busy; everyone had come into church and after each mass the square fill with more people. We sat and talked about the different clothing choices, how the boy were trying to impress the girls, how the girls would hang on to each other and giggle at the boys, it was a very fun evening. There were tourists in amounts the locals, most of them older then us, a lot of them from Canada. You can generally tell visitors from long stay tourists by the way they dress. All in all there is a lot of people checking each other out, and little kids running everywhere, just another night in the town square.

Over the past several months Linda had been checking the internet message board and one of the topics was how they were improving the town square. If I remember right there used to be quite a few bushes a palm trees along the inner part of the block. They have opened the square up by taking out the bushes and a few palms and then added a fountain at the west end. We sat on the benches to that side of the park and watched the fountain and all the people who were drawn there. We did our nightly stop at the doughnut man cart and bought a breakfast snack. We then walked back to our house via a different route.

As we sauntered down the street we saw some kids playing a video game like Dance Dance Revolution. They were real good at it! A little lady came out and started talking to Beth and Linda about the kids dancing, bingo, and life in general. She was so enthusiastic and just wanted to talk. The gringas kept up with her pretty well, but several times I could tell they were having trouble catching up.

The night in this small town is filled with numerous strange sounds. Some are recognizable once you pinpoint the source, others remain a mystery and you just accept that they are harmless. Last night we heard a sound that was new, it sounded to me like an airboat, but not as loud as they can be. It fired up next to our place on the beach and then moved off in the distance. After about an hour it returned and went away. So I got up both times to try to identify the source, but couldn't. I'll just log that sound in with the cat fights, rooster crows and other bumps that we hear in the night.

An early cup of coffee, some cereal, and a bit of water for the morning readies us for our morning hike. We walked through the center of town to the north end, past the free RV camp to the malicon by the rocks. Four years ago they cleared this area and built the malicon, it's now falling apart and has been hit by several rock slides. It's a nice hike and always gives you some great views of the bay.

We stopped at Los Amigos and had some breakfast. It was ok, the service was shaky and the food was over done. It's Mexico and I guess you will run into that once in a while.
Last night we ate at the same location, but it was a different restaurant called Molcajetes. Last year it was called Alcatraz. The night eatery was way better then the morning eatery. So keep that in mind if you ever find your self standing on the main drag of Melaque and need a place to eat.

When we got home we all took our posts for the day. Two covered the front, one covered the inside, I was he inside guy. Today was the maid's day to clean windows and floors so we had to keep out of her way. About 2:30 PM Leone came in and said the neighbor was going to use our water to wash his camper. I followed her out because I wanted to talk to him because he has the same taste in campers, Northern Lites. His name was Jerry and he and his wife are from La Conner, Washington. They own the place across the street with five other folks. I talked campers and traveling for quite a while and then he washed the camper. When he finished he came in to turn off the water and got my attention. His gang plays volleyball everyday and asked if we wanted to join them in a game. Of course Linda and I were up for it so we talked Beth into coming over with us while we played. Competition was hot and the pool was cool. We played five games and Linda's team ended up winning the best of five series. Beth was coxed into being the auto ball return when the ball was hit out of the pool. They plied her with rum and coke. She sure got her workout in because about every third ball sailed out of the pool. These folks are really into their volleyball. They have nets set up to keep the ball close to the pool, boundaries made of pvc and about seven balls in a basket next to the pool. If one goes out, and Beth is drinking her rum, they just grab another ball until all seven are out on the grass. We had a real fun time and met some very nice people.

At about 5:00 PM we walked over to Leones' book exchange and traded the books we had finished. From her house we walked down town and got some thing to eat at the "7" restaurant. It was a light meal and so the siren songs of the doughnut man could be heard and we followed his beckoning over to the corner where we purchased two pastries each. The town square was slow, we watched a big Christmas party over at a local school for a while and then we went to the internet access shop and sent some emails.

Wednesday is market day in Melaque, but this year it had moved. We found out that we were two blocks away and all we had to do was walk up Reforma and we would hit it. We walked the five blocks of toys, pants, shirts, music and junk from china. The only things we bought were three music CDs, and some frendship bracelets for the kids in her class. Every market is the same and we never purchase anything, we just go to watch people and take in the culture. By the end of our adventure we were hungry so we walked to town and eat breakfast at Roosters. It hasn't changed much since last year. The food was real good and they have something over many of the other food operations, WiFi. I plan to take the laptop there and try to upload this blog in a couple days. Every time we walk into town we go to the market for comfort items and today were no exception. We picked up the vegetables we needed to make salsa and then walked home and created the best, fresh chip dip you could imagine. Snacks and siesta over, we walked the block to Sr. Froys and had another wonderful meal. Froy is such a great host and he always entertains his guests with jokes and small talk. His wife sells wrap around dresses that she makes, and Froy showed them all to the women, wrapping them around himself to the applause of the patrons.

We once again ended our evening with the donut man and watching the people stroll the plaza. Not much happening in this small town, but that's the way we like it.

We were up before the sun this morning, not a huge deal because the sun rises at 7:30 AM. Today is winter solstice day. That means that every day from here on out gets longer. So to celebrate that fact we walked to Barra to visit the market. We left the house and walked the streets until we got to Laguna De Tule where we started walking the beach. It took us about thirty minutes to trudge through the sand to the entry to Barra where we emptied out shoes of sand and caught out breath. First place we went was to the malicon to show Beth the tourist sights then we had breakfast at a little shop. After that the shopping began and I found a spot out side a surf shop where I could sit in the shade and look out of place. I spoke briefly to the owner and he assured me that I could get up on the break, but we would have to start in the lagoon and then move out to where the young kids surf. I said I was just biding my time while the ladies shopped and I guaranteed him that the last thing I needed to try was to hang ten in the Barra break. He laughed and I could tell that he was relieved that he didn't have to spend his time with this big old tourista, even though the money could be used.

I caught up with the ladies just as Linda spotted the house numbers she wanted but failed to buy last year. With no hesitation she went in a purchased them, filling the backpack to the brim. We walked up the street and caught the bus back to Melaque and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and snacking around the pool.

We started the evening at Bigoties for happy hour. We are starting to know more folks there and when we enter the greetings are about three levels below Cheers. Instead of the big "Norm", we now get a couple head nods and a slight wave. We will become more familiar as the days go by, in fact just after we ate dinner at Molcajetes, we met a couple from Bellingham and chatted with them for a bit. They are staying at La Paloma and had met Don and Caroline, our friends from Washington. It was good to know they had arrived OK and we would be seeing them soon. The talk on the street was of ice cream mixed with Mexico town name dropping. Everyone you run into has explored different areas and it is always a time to see if there is a better area to explore. The evening ended with a check of the email, a walk in the plaza and the stroll home.

Morning brought a trip to Roosters and we were able to connect to the web and upload the blog and update the Hash page. Beth is leaving today and we needed to be back so that she didn't miss the taxi. Everything went smooth for her departure, the place seems quiet and of course everyone is a bit sad. At about 2:00 PM Linda was talking to Leone and we heard the door bell. Much to our surprise it was Don and Caroline checking in. They are staying at La Paloma and have set up a fishing trip with Geraldo tomorrow. We talked for about an hour and then they had to go, so we sat back and relaxed waiting for our next visitors.

Holly and Ryan arrived much earlier then we had anticipated. Their flights were early and the transition from plane to taxi was a breeze. So the new friends settled in and we headed to Bigoties for drinks. The place was packed and it took quite some time to get our drinks. Don and Caroline stopped by to make sure we knew what time to be at their place for fishing and we talked for about an hour. From there we went to dinner at El Buen Gusto, the doughnut man and home. Ryan and I have to be up early, 6:00 AM, to go fishing.

We met Don, Caroline and Geraldo at La Paloma at the pre arranged time and drove to Barra in Geraldo's truck. It was dusk as we cruised across the bay heading northwest to an area where the waves were "less disturbed." The ocean has been very rough lately; Geraldo says it is because of a current off the coast that is coming from the northwest. We stayed close to the shore and fished the areas around rocks and the bays. Ryan was first to catch a fish, a Bonita. It is a bait fish shaped like a torpedo. On one pass of an area about four miles up the coast we hit a small Dorado. I reeled it in and we put it in the cooler. Then it was sit and wait for quite some time. We had two strikes in another spot one big Dorado and a smaller one but both shook loose. Geraldo headed out into the ocean in hopes of getting something out at about three miles. It was a little rough but no to bad. As soon as we got out there the wind picked up and we had to turn back.

The spray off the boat bow increased as we were cruising along, I was getting soaked, and with the wind a little chilled. Out of no where some big dolphins appeared surfing the rolling swells. They would get in from of us and race for a bit and peel off only to sweep around and charge us from another wave set. It was so cool, and they were having so much fun. About that time we heard the reel spin and stop then spin again. Geraldo said he thought it was a sailfish. Many times they will play with the bait before they take it, we waited for that third long pull. All we heard from that point on was the sound of the boat motor. Another missed opportunity that we could do nothing about.

In the distance we spotted a turtle munching at a driftwood snack bar. They look like they don't have a care in the world as they float on the surface enjoying the sun.
We angled back to the calm of the shoreline and had about three more hits, but the fish were smart and shot up out of the water and shook free. Every one said it wasn't our day and the fish out smarted us. The day was wonderful and the lack of catching fish didn't distract from that in the least. It would have been nice to catch more fish but we will see what we can do in a few days when we go out again. We returned to shore Geraldo filleted the fish, talked about next time and got the gear stowed.

We returned home and the women were down at Bigoties, so Ryan and I cleaned up and took a little nap. We walked into town and ate at Flora Moreno where we had dinner for four and it cost us $13. They have great tamales for .50 and the enchiladas are the best. The walk to the square was a short one and we settled in for our usual people watching before we went home and to bed.

Today we hiked to the malicon at the point with Ryan and Holly. It was a bright beautiful day and there were four sailboats resting in the safety of the harbor. As part of this hike we headed up the headwall to the top of the point where the deserted restaurant sits. We took pictures and checked out the view of the coastline north and the Bahia de la Navidad where Melaque and Barra lie. We followed the road back to the main highway and then into Melaque for lunch at Caesars and Charlies. The breeze was up and with the slight change in the weather that had occurred over the past day it was almost cool under the thatched palm roof.

Today should be called "Revenge of the Computer Geek!" Our next door neighbor, Larry, was talking to me the other day about his internet and how they were having trouble with their wireless router. So I volunteered to look it over and see if I could see anything. Well here is how it went. I looked at the router and then looked up the model on the internet. I read about how it was set up and noted that it was much like the ones I had worked on before. Then I looked at all the wires and read the notes that others had written when they tried to fix the problem. All the connections looked correct so I explored the various property settings of their computer. With a good secure knowledge of the set up, I then decided to reboot the system and see what was loading up automatically that might slow the computer down. So I went through the restart procedure, and "CRAP", the phone broadband box would not connect correctly. Panic set in, and for the next hour I tried in desperation to get it to reconnect but the green light on the front would come on and the turn red. I plugged and unplugged, unplugged and plugged, green to red, green to red. My worst nightmare had just happened and I really didn't do anything that the normal dope wouldn't do. Sweat formed on my brow and I may have turned a bit white. If I could not fix it I had just messed up internet access for six families, all of this over Christmas.

I did what any geek would do; I unhooked the entire broadband box, picked it up and looked at it quizzically. Then I plugged the power supply back in and much to my surprise the green light stayed green! I moved slowly as if I might frighten it to red, and plugged in the line from the phone. Still green, in fact more green! So plugged in the cable to the computer and yet another green light appeared plus the computer internet icon blinked that it had a signal. I sat back in the chair and smiled, and then I turned and ran. No, I called Larry and told him we were back to where I started three hours ago.

He came in to the office and smiled at me. We started talking about his broadband connection and he said they that had some trouble with it a while back and had to change some thing due to only using the service part of the year. Now while I was in panic mode about twenty minutes ago, I had started my computer up to read a help file I had dealing with networking. It was a shot in the dark but I had to do something to look like I knew what I was doing. When my computer fired up I noticed they had a strong signal from some wireless network close by. It would not let me access it but it was real strong. In my conversation with Larry he had said something about "LasPalmas", that was the name of the signal I picked up. I asked a few more questions and found out that they used LasPalmas as their login to the network a year ago but could not get it the next time because the company said that it was in use. So the wireless is trying to connect to LasPalmas, but in fact it doesn't exist on the network. So can I fix it? Maybe, but probably not, because I know nothing about their wireless card. End of story.

Most of the day on Christmas day was spent getting food for the dinner we were hosting at our house. Don and Caroline are coming over and I will barbeque the Dorado I caught when we went fishing. The meal consisted of fish, rice, bread, and watermelon. Don and Caroline brought over smoked salmon and some super shrimp they purchased in Barra. Everything went well and the meal was superb. We talked late into the evening covering everything from dog vomit to fishing off the coast of Washington.

We got up relatively early on the 26th and walked to Barra to show Ryan and Holly around. We took the usual pictures and walked through the numerous shops that sell the same thing. Lunch was good but nothing to write about so we came home and took naps.

Dinner was easy; we walked the half block to Sr. Froy's and let Froy take care of us. Ryan is in search of a BIMBO futbal jersey and Froy said we should try a place just off he square. We walked into town into the square and east on the street the runs in front of the church. The area was a little dark and there were not very many people around. The address Froy had given us was a paper products shop, but there were a couple soccer balls and volleyball up on the counters. Ryan asked about the jersey and the lady scurried out the back door and up some stairs. She was gone several minutes and when she returned she had a box of futbal jerseys in her arms. We dug through them but there were no BIMBO jerseys. Ryan tried on several but most were too tight. Once he had his left ear almost pulled off when Holly tugged the garment over his head. Sadly we gave up the quest and headed for the heart of the city. Tonight we discovered ice cream, good by doughnut man, hello stoic looking man and women at Bing ice cream. Bing ice cream is 100% dense, others use compressed air. Of course that is what the sign said. So we started a new chapter in our nightly book called, the ice cream stop.

At 9:30 AM the next morning we met Don and Caroline at "The Only Tours Costalegre" for a snorkel trip to Tenacatita. We used Ray, our guide, last year for a tour to Colima and really enjoyed his knowledge. For today's trip we drove north to Tenacatita, and snorkeled from about 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It was fun, but the water is just not a clear as Hawaii or the Yucatan side of Mexico. It was interesting to see the beach and the life style of the beach campers. They have a definite pecking order. Our beach host, Chewie, was and old Mexican who kept the beach area up. Anyone could stay there but you had to pay Chewie weekly to park your rig. I think it was about $20 a week for a spot. Chewie has built pit toilets and has place signs up around the area protecting the environment. Ray pays him 2 pesos per tourist he brings to the beach as part of the tour.
Ryan and I hiked up to the top of a nearby hill and took photos of the area, and then we all packed up and headed to our next fun spot.

Boca de Iguanas, is the boogie board capital of the Costalegre. The place was packed, but Ray found a parking spot pretty quickly and we took off for the surf. It looked pretty funny, Ray striding out ahead of his little ducklings. We all followed in a line and went exactly where he led. On the beach we were instructed on the fine are of boogie boarding. Ray and his ducklings all gathered around. "Shuffle your feet as you walk in the water! That way you won't step on a stingray." "Let the wave kiss you on the butt! That is the key to catching the wave at the right time, wait, wait, let it kiss your butt and go!" He was kind of intense but you could see he enjoyed being the focus of attention. Boogie boarding was a blast, and we did it for as long as we could. Just one more wave, and then after that one more. We wore ourselves out.

Our final stop of the tour was a quick visit to La Manzanilla to see the crocodiles. We have been there before but we thought Ryan and Holly might get a kick out of it. People were everywhere, and the crocs were keeping their distance. We saw a couple little guys but not many. Like I said it was a quick stop and we were there and gone in under a half hour. Ray drove us back and explained all the different sights we passed. We talked about traveling down to this area, which area he likes best, and how he would go about traveling. We got some good ideas and a lot of information that will help us make decisions if we want to try bringing our truck down.
Back home we ate at Molcajetes and then returned to the house to make lunches for our adventure the following day. But, before we walked home we had Bing ice cream and watched the crowds around the main street for a while.

Geraldo arrived right on time and the six of us loaded into his truck. We were on the water within about a half hour and so our day of fishing began at about 6:15 AM. The first strike came about 6:20 AM and Ryan reeled in our first Dorado. Fishing was good and by the end of the day we had boated five Dorado's and two Chula's. In all we had about 14 strikes and of that there was high potential to boat six of seven fish. I know of two that got away after a good fight. Back at the dock, Gerardo cleaned the fish and we took all that we thought we could give away. We returned to the place and cleaned up, took naps and got ready to go to dinner at Don and Caroline's.

At 5:30 PM we arrived at La Paloma and were greeted by Don and Caroline. They escorted us to their room and we sat and had drinks and snacks. The main course arrived right on time. They had asked the La Ploma breakfast cook to make them chili rellenos. Don loves this meal and they have it every time they stay at La Paloma. She makes two types, cheese and a wonderful meat and vegetable relleno. They are both fantastic and we each had one, but shared so that we could taste the two varieties. The meal could not be complete with out some Dorado cooked in garlic and butter, Caroline had made a bed of rice and all this together made a meal suited for a king. It was a wonderful night and we talked and laughed, our friends are such wonderful people. Holly, Ryan, Linda and I later walked to town and visited the BING ice cream place. By now the doughnut man must have given up on us. We will return tomorrow night and buy some treats for our flight out on Saturday.

Friday morning we all walked in to have breakfast a Roosters. I connected to the internet and uploaded some blog stuff, checked email and quickly ran out of battery. We did some shopping and purchased a few last minute gifts. Linda continued on shopping and Ryan, Holly and my self were walking home when I ran into Buzz. Buzz is a little old man, from Texas, who lives at the place that we stayed at the first time we visited Melaque. He is very nice and we always look for him when we come down. I watch the streets and we always walk by his home so that we increase the chances of running into him. He is very old, but he looked very healthy and he was still riding his bike. We talked for a while and introduced everyone. I found out news about our past landlord, Reni, and we both had a laugh at her expense. Reni is a book all her self and if I told you every thing I know this blog would go on for ever. Buzz had to get going and so we shook hands and said we would see each other next year. It felt real good to know that he is still here in Melaque, I would be sad if I didn't get these brief chances to visit with him.

Back at the casa Ryan and Holly prepared for departure, it's sad to see our friends go. Tomorrow we will be following them; tonight we hope to see Don and Caroline for the last time.

We walked the beach toward the sunset and started our last night at Bigoties with beers, margaritas and peanuts. It was crowded and we had to hunt for a table. The sun set and cast a wonderful red glow into the sky. We drank in the last sunset as we sippted our beverages. After about a half hour, Don and Caroline joined us. We toasted Melaque, our friendship and the wonderful wether; we were sad to say good bye. A traveling gutar player came to our table and sang a song to Caroline. He was very sweet, but we could only make out a few words that he spoke to us. Caroline was embarrased and turned a shade of red that would rivel the sunset.

We paid for our drinks and walked into the center of town. Don and Caroline went off to shop and we walked to the plaza to see the crowds. Our last night should be spent with old friends so we visited the doughnut man and purchased some items for our breakfast. Linda snuck away and bought some ice cream hoping that she didn't hurt doughnut man's feelings. It was very busy in town so we walked home and went to bed.

Our last morning was spent packing and getting ready to fly out. We ate breakfast at Roosters where I updated this blog. After that we went back to the casa and soaked up the final hours of sun. The trip to the airport with Leone was uneventfully slow. She is a very cautious driver and her van is very old. I had to laugh when she turned to Linda and commented about a beverage holder that had just broke saying, "I can't believe a vehicle won't last 18 years!" She was serous and all Linda could do was agree.

It is not necessary to comment much about the flight home except to say it went smoothly. We flew from LA to Spokane with the WSU basketball team. They had just beaten USC by 3 and lost to UCLA by 3. All the players were very nice.

It is hard to explain how Mexico affects us and why we keep going back. When we get more time to travel we will explore more and take more days to visit the small towns that we only stop at now. Our hopes are that it won't change too much, but we have to be realistic and know that it will. Every year Melaque grows, it's been discovered by the Mexican middle class not to mention Canada and the US, so change is inevatable. It will be ok though and we will return.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Where we are heading.

Once again we will be traveling to Mexico and staying in Melaque. Check out our 2005-06 trip if you want to explore before we post. Our house sitter, Emily Compton will be here today and Baca our dog is excited to get rid of mom and dad. Le veré en México. Visite nuestro sitio a menudo.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Rock and a big suprise.

I kept my secret till about 8:30 PM when Linda walked into the camper before I could stop her. I had set the computer up with the card from Diane and Aldee and it was right there when she entered. The card and a CD, of pictures, came in the mail today so I snuck it and the computer into our camper. I figured if we didn’t have power where we camped we would have enough battery that Linda could see the pictures of the kids, Mom and Dad. It worked well, and she was very surprised.

Our camp site is on Banks Lake in Steamboat Rock State Park Washington. The drive was about two hours and twenty minutes of clearing skies and pink sunset. We’ve never been over here in Washington camping and with it being the end of October; we decided to explore Eastern Washington’s sage lands. We chose a site with full hookups so water and power won’t be a problem. Within about fifteen minutes we were all set up and the fire was blazing. I cooked a bag of sweet and sour stir fry, and baked (burnt) some cookies. We enjoyed the meal, warm around the fire, with the sound of coyotes yipping of in the distance. By 9:00 PM we were ready for bed. Tomorrow we will wake up and be able to see the area around our campsite. I feel we are in for a treat!

At about 7:30 AM I heard the camper door open and Linda said “I’m leaving the dog here, and the radio too.” The next thing I was aware of was the opening of the truck door to let the dog out for the day. Linda had gotten up, run with the dog, put the dog away and ran the rest of her four miles and all the time I slept like a baby snug in warmth of the bed. I rolled out of the sack and put the water on to boil. It wasn’t long before I had coffee and Linda’s tea ready, a fire in the fire ring, a book in my hand and the dog by my side. The sun was peeking over the edge of the rim of the plateau to the south. Our campsite was about 50 yards from the shore of Banks Lake and to the North was the mesa they call Steamboat Rock. This state park is way cool! When you arrive at the park you drive out onto a peninsula where the camp sites, a boat ramp, day use areas and hiking trails lay on its southern shore. We were a quarter mile from Steamboat Rock so when the sun splashed upon the rock cliffs we got quite a show. We drank our hot beverages by the morning fire as I entered the coordinates for some nearby geocaches. Today’s plan was to hike up on to Steamboat Rock find a couple caches and then come back down for lunch.

The trail up to the mesa is steep and rocky. It follows a vertical gap up where several rock faces give way to the path. The first cache was very easy to find, but it turned out to be a multi cache and the new coordinates we found were somewhere on the top of the rock. So we climbed higher! At the top of the final pitch the land spread out before us and we were amazed how big this formation was. Our GPS pointed us northeast and we walked about a half mile where we found the second part of the cache. The cache was a rock cairn with the ammo box hidden under the stack. We signed in and decided to walk a little further to the north edge and look down on the lake. I took some pictures and we turned around and hiked our way back to the steep trail we came up on.

At this point I noted that another cache was within 250 feet so I hiked around trying to find it. I was having trouble because I was walking on a steep rock slope and right next to me was the cliff face that towered up 80 to 100 feet, but I was not getting any closer to the cache. So that told me the cache was up. Linda sat down and I hiked up to the top of another rock cliff area hoping to find the cache. I scrambled quickly up to where I thought I should be following a super steep well worn trail. But the GPS showed that I was way off. Breathing hard and sweating like a pig, I hiked back down towards the original trail Linda and I had first hiked up on. This time I watched the GPS closely. Sure enough, about ten yards off the trail I found the cache. When I found it I realized my first mistake, the cliff formed a V and the area I was first looking was 250 feet on the other side of these rocks. Man what a goof ball. I signed in and quickly got back to Linda and Baka, who were waiting patiently back at the main trail. We scrambled down, walked back to camp and had lunch. The sun was warm, there was no breeze and I fell asleep in my chair completely beat from the hike.

The sun moved along towards the west and we rotated our chairs along with it. If we got into the shade at all it was real cool, so about every fifteen minutes we would do a little shift dance. At about 3:30 PM I took my shower and as soon as I got back to camp Linda left to take hers. Dinner was my responsibility and I had been planning it for about a week. John Jensen and I had eaten at the Fort Ground Café recently and I had a bite of his Gorgonzola pasta dish and boy it was good. I purchased all the ingredients that I thought made up the sauce and now all that was left was to put it all together and see if it turned out. Cooking everything took about an hour and fifteen minutes, but when I got finished I was very surprised how good it turned out. Linda said it was good enough to serve to guests, her seal of approval. We ate and just after finishing the meal the weather changed, the wind came up and we headed into the camper for the night. Tomorrow’s weather report doesn’t look good. The barometer in the camper is falling and we will probably wakeup to rain, just like we did two weeks ago at Heyburn State Park. But today was truly one of the most gorgeous fall days we have ever had camping.
When morning broke for the Bennett’s it was apparent that we were suppose to get up and get going. First off I set off the gas sensor and the four beep alarm started chirping. This signals that we should exit the camper because there is a gas leak somewhere near. We had the sensor go off up in Canada when the folks next to us were idling their truck prior to driving into town. The exhaust set it off and it quit as soon as I closed the window. Now I am going to be as politically correct as I can with this, but I think I set the little screamer off with a series of morning flatulations that anyone would have been proud of. It’s a small area up there in the bed and that is exactly where the sensor is located. As soon as I opened the window and the 60 mile and hour, 41 degree wind cleared the air, the little thing shut up. The second thing that got us going was the change in the weather, yesterday we basked in the sun under blue skies. Today, wind and cold are the obvious predictions from the morning weather folks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hope this isn't the last!

Baka will not leave my side when I am packing the camper for a weekend trip. In fact he usually lays on the lawn and keeps his eye on the truck, hoping I will leave the door open to the back seat. Then when Linda arrives home all hell breaks out and he runs to her, then back to the truck about a million times. I had the day to mow the lawn and get the camper packed, we were on the road abut fifteen minutes after Linda got home from work. We drove south on I-95 to Plummer and the took a left towards St. Maries. We set up camp at Heyburn State Park. It's the first weekend of hunting season and our past experiences tell us that the state Park system is the way to go. Most other areas are like going to a big party where everyone is carrying a gun. Hunting, beer, guns and campfires always add up to noise and we tend to avoid those situations.

It was a easy set up and once we took a little walk we settled in around the fire for the evening. Linda a brought chicken and salad so we ate and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. We turned in about 8:30 PM and read till we fell asleep.

Next morning we built a fire and had coffee and coco as the sun warmed up the camp. We got our bikes ready and put Baka on the leash. The ride to Harrison was beautiful but it also was cold. In the shade our fingers froze but in the sun we were great. We were glad we wore the clothing we had, my only regret was not having gloves. In Harrison we hiked the bikes up into town and looked around. It looks like the burg is surviving, One Shot Charlies is still open and there is an art gallery above the place. We didn't add to the economy at all, but enjoyed the walk about. As we got ready to hit the trail back to Haybern, a group of riders pulled up. There was one familiar face in the bunch, Dan, of Vern and Dan, was riding the trail with a bunch of friends. It's a small world! We rode with him for about two miles but I could tell Linda wanted to pick up the pace so we said good by and pulled away. When Linda rides she rides consistently strong. I can just keep up when she is going at an easy pace. So the ride back was good but I got real tired. I stopped for a restroom break and took a picture of a deer, noticed my old NIC hat was missing and then plugged on back to camp. Baka was glad to see us when we arrived.

We took a break, I slept and Linda read. Then we took the dog to the Wildlife area across the bay and let him run. We cam back and I made a Dutch oven meal. We ate around the fire and were ready for bed by 8 PM. What an exciting group! We went to bed with the sky's clear and stars out and awoke during the middle of the night to rain falling on the camper top. Morning was cold and wet so we drank our morning drinks and packed up the wet items. We drove home hoping that we will be able to get out once again. This weekend can't be the last.