Monday, March 31, 2014

Shades of Gray

Woke up this morning to temperatures in the 30's, snow on the ground and an urge to drive south as fast as we can.
Frosty greets the Anderson's when they arrive in Beaver.
Yesterday evening we spent talking and laughing with the Anderson clan in their 30 RV.  The heaters have been turned on in every camper, trailer, motorhome, and land yacht parked in the KOA. You see doors open and then people scurry over to the bathrooms and disappear only to reappear in a few minutes scurrying back to their warm little homes.

Grammy and Gram pa provided dinner for the group of seven.  Linda tried to order pizza from Beaver's finest pizza delivery joint but they were closed. We pitched in some cut up vegetables and joined the banquet.

Today's plan is to drive to Moab and explore there for a couple days.  Hopefully the ice will be off the highway by the time we leave Beaver.

Our camper from the Anderson's RV.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

No More Flip Flops!

At 6:00 AM the sky was still dark but the temperatures were very comfortable so Linda and I climbed out of the camper in our flip flops and shorts and we headed up the road. The balmy 74 degrees that was displayed on the truck thermometer gave us no indication that the weather might be changing.

We drove Arizona Hwy 95 to Needles and turned north to Vegas via California Hwy 95. When we hit Vegas we text-ed Rayelle Anderson to see if they were there and everything was going OK.  She replied right away that all was well and that they would see us in Moab the next day.  We continued on Text-ing and driving.

As we moved further up the wind picked up and we could see a definite weather front looming far to the west.  We turned north east, this put the wind behind along with the approaching weather front.  It was very cool to be driving along with sun to our right and dark ominous clouds to our left.

We wound through the road construction around the Virgin River area and headed up over a pass.  When the front hit us, it hit us!  The temperature dropped from 61 degrees on the trucks thermometer to 31 degrees in less than ten minutes.   Snow moved in and we knew that we were no longer in Mexico, for sure!

Our camp site was at the Beaver KOA in Beaver Utah.  We pulled in and got set up.  Not 15 minutes later the Anderson's text-ed us and told us that they were heading our way.  They had cancled their spot in Cedar City and were coming to this KOA. They will arrive in about and hour and I'll probably post again after they get set up.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easy Going

The desert this morning was beautiful.  Linda said that the sky at sunrise was clear and the sun tossed rays of light over the harsh landscape.  She ran with the dog as I woke myself up by making coffee and tea for the two of us.

Packing was easy, we are in our traveling mode and it only takes a few minutes to ready the camper and get things put away.  Our departure time was 8:55 AM and we drove up to Lake Havasu State Park and ended the driving day at 3:00 PM.   We debated about going on but we made the right choice by staying.

The park was packed and when we pulled in there was a sign saying that the campground was full. I asked the ranger girl if she knew of other camping areas up the road and she told us about a couple that might be open.  Then she said that there was overflow camping in the old camp area that was now a parking lot.  She said we could give it a look and if we decide to stay, just come up and pay later.

We found a spot and made the decision to call it a day.  It wasn’t the most scenic spot, just a parking lot. At $20 it would do for the night.

There were showers and a bathroom nearby and this proved to make the spot worth the dollars paid.  We both took long hot showers and agreed that they were some of the best showers we had had since we left home.

We ate dinner, played cribbage, mapped out our drive tomorrow, played on the internet, checked Facebook talked to Larry and Maggie and then called it a night. Tomorrow we are continuing north and we should be in Beaver by early afternoon.  (Yes you can giggle that. I’ve been having fun with that name myself!)

Crossing Back

When we crossed the border in early December we had been kidding about Night Line doing a segment dealing with two educators from Idaho going to Mexico but only one returned.  It didn’t happen and we are back in the US, together and stronger than ever.
The camper caravan pulled out of Bahia de Kino at 6:37 AM and crossed the border into the US at 1:30 PM.  Pretty darned good if you ask me.  No wrong turns, no unexpected delays and only two bathroom stops; that was a great way to end the Mexico part of our adventure.

During the return to the border crossing we had three things that might have slowed us down.  First we had to travel through the outskirts of Hermosillo, which we did with no problems.  Then we had to stop at a very large complex in the middle of nowhere and turn in our vehicle travel permits. This was accomplished after some wrong way driving, as directed by the employee in charge.  I am sure the lady coming on the freeway south was a bit surprised to see two trucks going the opposite direction to get to the correct road for the sticker exchange. Finally we had to turn in our tourist cards at a stop on the opposite side of the highway.  We played Frogger and made our way across traffic, making the final exchange of paperwork with no slip-ups.

Crossing the border was another nonevent.  We stopped at the border guards station and he asked us where we were coming from, how long were we there and what did we bring back with us.  I answered the questions and he motioned us on through.  That’s it! No questions about Kobi. Nothing about food products. No inquiries about anything. I had no chance to say anything that would cause Linda to gasp, none at all!

We drove on to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where we hugged Larry and Maggie, said our good byes and thanked them for being such great guides.  Half our adventure was in Mexico and we have completed it!

Larry and Maggie drove on to Ajo and possibly beyond, Linda and I found a spot at the Twin Peaks Campground and settled in.  Linda said “It’s kind of like we have come full circle. We set off for our adventure from this exact campground and now we have returned.”  Our adventure is not yet over but we are leaving Mexico behind.  We both know it was time to leave that country but we will definitely return. Maybe not in the camper, but we will be back again later this year!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ahhhhh… Bahia de Kino!

I think that last time I posted was from the RV spot in at Mazatlán where we got up and went for breakfast at a beach front restaurant called Poncho’s. This place was recommended to us but we had to take a bus into Mazatlán to get there.  Busses for this little journey were lined up outside the RV place and all we had to do was walk out and one picked us up.

We jumped off the bus and walked about four blocks to Poncho’s where we got a nice table right overlooking the beach.  As we were ordering Larry’s eye caught site of a tent.  Out of the tent came four Mexican guys and a gringo girl with a banjo.  This site brought out quite a bit of conversation and as we watched the happenings, the girl walked over and started playing and singing in front of our table.  It was fun to watch the reactions of the waiters. They looked like the really didn't know what to do.

Beaches are free for the public so you can actually camp on most any beach.  In this case there was nothing the staff could do about the banjo serenade. Eventually Linda gave the girl a few pesos and she went away.  We finished our breakfast and decided that the experience was definitely a first in our book.
Our caravan left Mazatlán at about 11 AM and set our sights for Los Mochis and the Pemix that we stayed at on our way down.

This part of the trip is fast and straight.  You just set your cruise control on 60 (or 110) and drive.  Midway through the day Larry called and suggested that we try to make San Carlos before dark and avoid staying in the truck stop.  We all agreed and so we continued on.
Camp site in Ciudad Obregon.
The temperature in the Los Mochis area hovered around 99 degrees and we were more than happy to put that in our rear view mirrors. We drove on but the combination of toll stops and topas slowed our progress.  Just before sunset we drove into the outskirts of Ciudad Obregon where we found an RV stop named Motel Kali RV Park.  This location would act as our night’s stop but it was definitely more expensive then the truck stop and just a slight bit safer. We paid our 350 pesos and settled in on the dirt driveway.

The next morning we hit the road again and made our way to the Islandia RV Park at Bahia de Kino.  Once again we were greeted with smiles and welcome faces.  This spot has been our favorite of the trip in Mexico.  Everything is laid back and completely easy going.  We’ll stay here and watch the sun set our final two nights in Mexico. 

Linda checks us in 20 pesos, a sweet deal.

You would think it would be hard to find guests with a name like this!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hummmmm, Not Quite the Same

Sleeping within 20 yards of the ocean has it's pluses and some negatives.  The camper cools off real nice and you get to watch incredible sunsets from your kitchen table. You also have the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks just at your feet! For some this is a plus, for me I just can't sleep when there is this crashing just outside my door.  Linda loves it, I just put my ear plugs in and sleep.

I suggested that Linda get a job here. That went over big.
We got going by about 9 AM and followed the winding road north for about 60 kilometers. Then we connected with the cuota, toll highway, and continued on to Mazatlán. No problems were encountered and we even stopped at an Auto Zone and I replaced the trailer hitch ball that I messed up yesterday.

We ended our day early at an RV place called Palya Cerrito.  It is not much of a place if you ask me.  Rows of RVs on a flat gravel parking lot.  The full timers have built plapas and brick walls around their spots.  I guess if you don't mind being close and you can build a nest, then staying here would be OK.  The weather is clear and sunny and the temperature is in the high 80's. Very comfortable!

You can walk to the beach and climb down to walk in the sand.  The RV place has a pool overlooking the ocean. Linda found it within an hour of arrival and is taking in the sun there.

Here are a few pictures of the area.

From the pool looking South.
Looking at Linda. (North)
From pool looking North.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


There is an old adage that states events often times occurs in threes.  Many will say that bad luck happens in threes. In our case we had some bad luck but it could have been a lot worse!

After packing up the camper and trailer Linda and I moved from our lot to Las Palmas and set up our camper in the drive way.  Larry and Maggie were the sole survivors at the place and since we were following them up to the US we figured we all could help each other pack the final items and end our visit by having final dinners together.

On Saturday everything was packed and ready. We all agreed that it was time to get on the road.  Our volleyball friends had said their good byes and we exchanged emails, hugs and handshakes. We were sad but ready.

We left Melaque Sunday at 7:37 AM.  We retraced our path from our trip to Perula up Hwy 200.  We wound along the ocean and up into the low mountains ending back down in Puerto Vallarta. We had been to the big city twice before, both times over 20 years ago and never by truck.  We followed Larry through the old town section which led through two tunnels and dumped us into the heart of the hotel strip.  Traffic was busy but because it was Sunday, not too bad.

Just past the north end of PV and entering Bucerias I heard Larry come over two-way radio telling me that there were some flashing lights behind me.  I moved over to let them by and it became obvious that the police wanted us to pull over.  Linda told Larry and we all pulled to the side of the Highway.

Larry and I got out and heard a guy from a passing car say “Get your 200 pesos out!”  We didn’t laugh.  The officer talked to Larry in broken English and Spanish and Larry went to get his driver’s license. He then told me that I was driving in the left hand lane and that I was only allowed in the right lane. I said I had just passed a slow moving vehicle which got me nowhere with him. He then asked me about Idaho and what I did there.  All this was in very mixed up Spanish English so he could have been saying that I was going to be deported to a prison in Idaho for that matter.

Larry returned and the police asked him to get in the car and close the door.  They talked and soon Larry said “go get 250 pesos and we done.”  I did so and Larry and I each gave him the money.  Most people who travel in Mexico have had this game played with them; it’s what is called “Mordida” or little bite.  Cops stop you for no reason and take a bribe to not ticket you, we had just been bit.

Back on the road we made our way through Bucerias and up past Guayabitos. We drove down a winding rough road to a beach restaurant in ???? where we ate lunch.  We had just gotten out of the little town and Larry had just made his way onto the good pavement when I hit a bump and then heard a loud dragging noise.  Our trailer hitch ball had come off!  The nut had worked off by all the rough roads and topes; the one final bump dropped the trailer onto the ground.

We made our way to a pullout and I was able to use a spare ball I had brought to fix the problem and get everything back in working order.  Luck was with us on this one because we were in a very rough section of the road and we were moving very slowly.

At this point in our trip I have used almost every spare part I thought to bring.  Linda and I have been amazed at some of the things I tossed in to the trailer. I just smile and keep my fingers crossed.

We drove on heading for our resting point at an RV camp on a small bluff overlooking the ocean near San Blas, Nayarit.

Larry took a wrong turn in Ixtapa de la Concepción that led us to our final problem of the day.  The mistake took us down a very narrow street and I caught a low hanging electrical wire and broke it.  There was quite a loud crunching noise as I came to a stop. People came out on the street, hands waved; Linda and I didn’t know what to do. Finally a fellow spoke in broken English and we negotiated a repair fee of 100 pesos.  We apologized and paid up, jumped into the truck and got the hell out of there.
Later as we sat in camp at Playa Amour RV and Camping I checked for damage and found that I had only broken a running light. We all agreed that we were once again very lucky that the crunch only cost us less than $100 dollars.

The three events of the day took a lot out of us but the view of the sunset helped put this day behind us.  Tomorrow we head to Mazatlán and then the rest of the trip is on familiar freeways.   


Barry and Leigh invited Linda and I out for lunch and we took a bit of a road trip as well. Loaded into their car and took Hwy 200 North out of Melaque to a real cool little beach called Perula. The beach was a smaller version of the beach in Melaque except the sand was very flat and the waves were gentle.  We ate at a small beach restaurant and had great shrimp lunches. Once finished we drove back and were safe at home by 5 PM.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's Hard to Explain

It’s been a few days since the fire, smoke and mayhem of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Melaque. We have been busy getting our gear packed up for the journey back to the states.  We are ready to get on the road, so now I can take time and tell you a little bit about the event centered on St. Patrick’s Day.

The town of Melaque is one of three small towns all rolled into one larger one. Villa Obregon and San Patricio are the other two small bergs.  San Patricio is the strong connection point to St. Patrick, their name sake.  When March 17th comes around the people of this area celebrate that date by holding a celebration that lasts nine days.

Each day is welcomed by five large explosions around 5 AM in the morning.  Then in the afternoon a parade is announced by five more explosions.  Church comes next at about 6 PM and they set off five more explosions. Then as most of the town and gringos gather in the jardin at around 11 PM,  five more explosions take place followed by pure mayhem.

Linda and I went down to the center of town and watched this nightly event twice while we were here.  Each time was progressively bigger and more exciting. If you look the event up and read the numerous descriptions, each author will tell you that it is hard to explain exactly what happens and most people will tell you that pictures or video come nowhere near to showing you the pandemonium of the actual event.

Here is how the nights go.  Everyone gathers in the jardin in front of the church beginning around 9 PM.  There are booths and vendors everywhere. You can buy food, shirts, and toys; practically anything in this area.  On the Sunday night we were there I estimated the crowd to be around 2500.  Everyone mills around drinking and enjoying the evening.  As entertainment, bands are gathered about playing.  There were three different types of bands playing that night; one traditional mariachi band and two of the brass and drum oriented Mexican bands. All three were playing at the same time all within about 25 yards of each other.

The crowd grew until about 11 PM when five rockets were shot off right above the square.  Then everyone moved into their position of choice for the fireworks part of the celebration.  Each day a large Castillo is created and this becomes the center of the nightly event.  The Castillo is lit, one side after another, and the fireworks shoot off.  As this fire and smoke happens, kids dance and run under the sparks of the fireworks above.  Rockets shoot off in every direction, some go skyward but many shoot directly into the crowd of people gathered about the jardin. People scatter everywhere as these rockets rip into the crowd. The Castillo explodes in layers moving up toward the top or the corona.

The corona shoots off and soars into the sky. After it reaches its pinnacle, it loses power and plummets back to earth landing in the crowd below. The crowd goes nuts! Large fireworks explode above everyone as the people cheer.

At this point you would think that the evening’s excitement was over, but not yet. Out of an area next to the church charges a person, el toro, swinging a rope with the framework of at bull’s head tied on it. From this device and from somewhere on this person fireworks and rockets shoot into the crowd.  This person chases the crowd and everyone dodges the fire and sparks that are being flung in every direction.  It is so hard to explain this part of the evening that I just won’t.  People go everywhere, sparks and rockets follow. It is amazing that nobody is killed.

As I said we watched this event twice.  I took video of the two nights and put them together into the video below. Things to note:  As the Castillo goes off, watch for the rockets shooting into the crowd below.  Then note the children running below the fireworks.  Finally there is a shot of the corona landing in the crowd behind me; check that out.  I was not able to get video of the bull in the crowd because the first night I ran out of video space and the second night I was too far away for good video footage.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Skim Board Melaque

This weekend is the big skim board contest in Melaque.  We went down in the afternoon but the contest was post-phoned due to wind.  At about 4 PM the event started and we kind of figured it out.  They competed in groups of four and were given an allotted time to do their best tricks.  The only way you could tell that they were working the waves was they wore a colored shirt.  While they did their run, everyone else moved down the beach a bit and it was pure pandemonium in that area.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hey, Down In Front!

With nine, yes nine, days left here in Melaque we have gone beyond "when are you leaving?" to "is there anyone left to play volleyball today?"  Every day we hear of a group leaving for the North making it harder and harder to get two teams together to play.  Don't get me wrong, playing volleyball is secondary to the fact that we won't see these friends for nine or ten months and we will hope that they return safe to play next year. However it is just another indicator that our time is growing short and we need to enjoy our time left down here even more.

The best breakfast ever!
Yesterday Linda and I walked to Barra in the morning and had breakfast.  Then we roamed the town for a couple hours looking at the shops.  We ended the morning at the tiangui looking for nothing in particular. With our feet sore and nothing to show for it we climbed on a bus and rode home.  The bus was practically empty. I noticed that the driver had decorated his area with gestures of his faith. The picture didn't do the scene justice, but I thought it was kind of cool. His riders most likely felt better knowing they were in good hands.

If you're Catholic, you're safe!
Back at home Linda went to play Mexican Train, a domino game.  I took a ride on the bike and cruised around on the walk behind our lot.  The lagoon is about ten feet from our lot with a fence and the walking path separating us from the wild.  There, basking in the sun, was an 8 ft. Crocodile. I had heard that she had claimed the area behind us our lot, but hadn't been able to catch a glimpse of her until yesterday. She is big and I am glad that there is a large fence between our spot and hers.

She's looking for a Kobi snack.
After the lagoon watch I went into town and took some random pictures.  I arrived home at the same time as Linda and found Barry and Leigh at our door.  Linda and Leigh had to go to visit the dress maker so Barry and I sat at their house and talked.  Leigh gave us some DVDs to watch which we took home with us.

We ended the night watching Los Jegos Del Hambre, The Hunger Games. It was our first viewing of a true unauthorized copy of a movie purchased from a tiangui.  We had to laugh because there was someone sitting next to us that had a tickle in his throat, and ten minutes into the showing four shadows moved across the screen, finding seats down in the front.  It was fun watching and laughing along with the crowd in the camper. In the end we only have one question that needs to be answered.  Does the film end with Donald Sutherland in front of the camera? This one did.

Chelly's, our grocery store.
The bird poop on this truck is extreme!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

To Manzanillo for Supplies

It’s now three days into March and I have noticed a big change.  The talk amongst the folks down here has changed from “How long you staying?” to “When are you leaving?”  As it turns out the consensus is that we will be one of the few hold outs and most in our friend group will have hit the road a least a week before we continue our journey back.

Talk around the pool touched on some of the changes that everyone noticed last night.  Late in the middle of the night the ocean break grew and the waves crashing on the beach got very loud.  Morning brought currents of colder water on to the shoreline and I am interested to see if all the birds move to different waters.  We have had huge flocks of Pelicans and Frigates attacking the waters for the past few weeks, but with the cooler water this might change.

As it stands now we will probably leave around the 25th and make our way up north via highway 200 through Puerto Vallarta.  Once we hit PV then we will continue through to at least Tepic.  From there we will probably follow the same route we took on the way down.

It seems like all this is a long way off, but when you think about it time will fly by.  It feels like we just moved over to the laguna lot, and every day Linda and I talk about how lucky we are to be able to be involved in this adventure.  It still has a surreal feel to it. Every day we sit by the ocean and watch the sun set.  The nights are pleasantly cool and the days are hot, but not too hot.  We know we are very lucky people!
The port of Manzanillo.
Today we drove into Manzanillo and did some shopping and sightseeing.  Barry and Leigh were the leaders and we tagged along for the ride.

USS Coronado visiting the area.
Our first stop put us in the heart of old town Manzanillo, right in the area where the big ships come to unload.  We parked the car and Barry and I were immediately drawn to a huge ship flying the US flag.  We walked to the gate and Barry summoned one of the guards to come over and we had a nice chat about the ship, how long they were in port for and when they were heading home.  The young sailor was very polite and gave us very little information.

We did find out that the ship was very new and that there were only two of this type built and on the seas.  I ask him how fast the ship ran and he smiled and said very fast.  They were scheduled to leave port in two days and return to San Diego with in the week.  Putting the distance they needed to travel to get home into that schedule and you could see the ship was fast.  When we returned home I looked the ship up on the web and this is what I found.

No I didn't take this photo.
USS Coronado (LCS-4), a 418-foot warship built in Alabama, boasts a top speed in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four hours during builder trials. The high-speed trimaran hull and will be designed to defeat littoral threats and provide access in coastal waters for missions such as mine warfareanti-submarine warfare and surface warfare. There are two different LCS hull forms – the Independence-class aluminum trimaran, and the Freedom-class semiplaning monohull designed and built by Lockheed Martin. These seaframes will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly. Mission packages are supported by special detachments that will deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors.[1][2] Coronado is being built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. Total cost, 430 million.
Statues on the bay walk.

Fabric store, again.

While we were in the store this crash happened.
The classic Manzanillo Marlin photo.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Catching Up

We haven't been doing many adventures down here so I thought I would post some photos that showed friends, sunsets and creatures.
Emma, Jani and Chris's little one.

Linda's running partner, Jani.

Last night we went to a big taco feed at Frank's house provided by Bob, Ives, Joe and probably more of the volleyball players.  It was a great gathering with more tacos then you could wish for. I was in piglet heaven. Frank provided Ice Cream via the local Ice Cream Man.

Frank, "One more volleyball game, just one more!"

Barry, "Hey, I have a story, you gotta minute?"

Ice Cream!!!

A Texas joke? Guess you have to be from there.

Ted's face sums up the joke.  Now, what was the punch line?