Friday, March 21, 2008

Los Barriles to San Diego

Wednesday, March 12
Los Barriles to Laz Paz A short driving day. We are all wondering why we are spending two days in a city when we could be on a beach. Dorothy will try for a haircut, we will buy a few groceries and rest until we leave. Quite warm here, we turned on the ac for the first time. Also the first time we have had 30amp service. It was 92 at 6pm

Thursday, March 13
We spent the day doing laundry, shopping for groceries and chatting. We had a pool party and potluck dinner. We did not realize it but we needed a lay day.

Friday, March 14
La Paz to Cuidad Constitucion – A one night stop in an almost American style CG. Pull-thru’s, pool, and allegedly wi-fi. It also has roosters that crow!

How does Dorothy do it? At home or on the road, she fills a trash can every day. We don’t eat trash can full of food in a week, so how can there be so much trash?

What I have learned in Mexico. The people are one heck of a lot more friendly than American’s. They support and respect their families, communities, schools and their country. They are especially proud of and protective of their children. The children are very well mannered. There are no kids throwing tantrums here.

The roads are narrow in Baja, not so on the mainland I am told. You deal with a lot of dust, which comes from being in a desert and not having everything paved.

Saturday, March 15
Cuidad Constitucion to El Requeson Back on the beach - this time a sand spit between the coast and an island. The Sea of Cortez is stunning. The waters turn azure blue when the sun is high.

We drove on our own today, taking it easy. We left two hours before the group and arrived an hour before they did. This leg may be the most scenic of Mexico 1. Much of it is through a wide valley.

Sunday, March 16
After lazing around awhile, we put the yaks in and paddled around. When we got back ashore, five LD’s from a south bound caravan stopped by to see us. Then Norm and Jerri joined us for a few hours of catching up. We made loose plans to hook up with them at a rodeo in Idaho later in the year.

Tonight we are co-hosting a hot dog dinner, turkey dogs as that is all they sell in Mexico. We have not seen a turkey, so they may or may not contain turkey. The south central group is hosting margarita’s, on our last night on the beach.

It’s hard to believe we will be in San Diego in four days.

Monday, March 17
El Requeson to Guerrero Negro We left with the group. At the Pemex only one pump was open and it turned into a cluster f**k. We motored on solo to the next Pemex about two hours up the road. We drove slow and easy all day and got to the CG only 10 minutes ahead of the crowd. It was not a good day in the caravan judging that two rigs lost their steps on rocks.

There were lots of tents that mushroomed in El Requeson overnight and we saw muchas! southbound natives headed to the beaches for Easter. Easter is a big deal holiday here, a two week vacation. The southbound four wheels were traveling way over the speed limit and this section of Mex 1 seems more narrow than some other sections.

Tuesday, March 18
Guerrero Negro to Catavina Only a four drive and we did it solo. We like this CG more than most we have been in. Perhaps it’s only because it is a change of scenery? It’s in the low mountains and the landscape is covered with large boulders. At 2,100, it is higher enough to condense the Pacific moisture, so things are green. The RV’s are circled around the large trees and appetizers, drinks and dinner are in the middle of the circle.

Wednesday, March 19
Catavina to Ensenada The caravan was broken into two groups for the long ride today to save time at gas stops. The CG was nice to look at, tended flowers, on the water, nice building exteriors, etc. But the electric voltage was as usual, high. Good thing we have not needed electricity.

Thursday, March 20
Ensenada to Chula Vista We waited until 11:30 to leave as the wagon master experience was that mid-afternoon was the best time to cross. Perhaps it is, still we waited an hour and 20 minutes to cross the border. Four hours to drive 58 miles.

I put the step out for customs to step aboard. When he stepped out, I stayed inside and leaving the step extended, so Dorothy could rip it off as we exited the border.

For the first time since Cabo we have water pressure and just the right voltage. We both enjoyed taking soft water showers lathering up several times. The simple pleasures. The trip was good and it is equally good to be back in the US.

Friday, March 21
On our daughters birthday, we drove the Silver Strand and took the Coronado bridge across the bay to San Diego. This is one swell bridge - very high. In the last few years I have developed a phobia about high bridges and over-passes. The speed limit on the bridge is 55. No one observes it. Neither did I. I drove 40 white knuckling the steering wheel and not looking over the side of the bridge.

Tomorrow, we will do laundry and perhaps drive to Mission Bay for a lookie-lookie. Sunday, we move to near Los Angles so we can have the LD to the factory bright and early Monday morning. We will spend the week in motels and “do” some museums in LA. We expect to be there the whole week. I will update the blog when we get back on the adventure trail.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Cabo and now headed north

Tuesday, March 4
We drove the Jeep to San Javier, 30 km up a decent dirt road. The attraction was a good drive in the low mountains and to see the oldest mission in Baja. On the way back I drove the Jeep into a stream and gave it bath. When we got back to town, the car wash open, but the ice cream place was closed.

Wednesday, March 5
Loreto to La Paz This was a long day. Too long a drive for one day. We left early, 7:15 and arrived at 3:45. By getting there early, we were able to get a great campsite on the beach with some space from the main group. We had 3 other around us, but the sand dunes are so tall, you can’t see anything but the beach. The group left at 9 and arrived at 5. But they sped, 55-60, while we did not get over 48. We stopped at a real grocery store in Ciudad Constitution and bought $50 of food. We are on a beach called Playa Telcoyte - another great beach on the Sea of Cortez. As we drove through La Paz, it looked like any tourist town. I suppose Cabo will be worse.

Thursday, March 6
I was asleep by 8 last night. I drifted off to tunes on the MP3 player. I was dead tired and slept until 7 this morning.

The water is flat so we will put the yaks in later. Some of the group are taking a boat trip to a marine sanctuary, sea lions, sea caves, etc. Seen all that so, we are going to be lazy and enjoy the stunning beach and likely take a nap.

The wind came up, in a flash, at 8:30. That cancelled boating for the day. We took the Jeep over a 4WD drive road to a point for some pictures. Then I drove it on the beach and about got it stuck and the tide was coming in. Lunch and nap followed by slothfulness. Muchas! Delightful

It’s a treat to watch the brown pelicans dive for fish. Dorothy noticed dozens of them high overhead enjoying the breeze.

At 4PM, the air temperature is 76.

It’s difficult to tell if structures here are going up or falling down. Construction seems to take forever and buildings are abandoned in place. I don’t think we have seen a building that did not have rebar sticking out. Someone said it had something to do with taxes. Don’t know.

Friday, March 7

La Paz to Cabo A remarkable drive until we reached the cape. The final section was through the driest desert we have ever seen. Miles of plants with no leaves. We are in an almost American style RV park overlooking the water. Full hookups, except the voltage is 133v, so we are happy running on solar.

Saturday, March 8
We took the glass bottom boat tour. The fish were not much, but the scenery of the capes was magnificent. Not wanting to eat in touristy San Luca, we drove over to San Jose with Tom and Sherry and found a delightful restaurant. The road to San Jose has the Hilton, Westin, etc. and a Mercedes dealership. It is the westernized city of Baja.

Sunday, March 9
We got away early and put the yaks in water and paddled out to the same place we went in power-boats yesterday. We wanted to see the arches on our terms. After paddling around for awhile, we beached the boats. Well maybe beached is not the correct word. I paddled as fast as I could on a wave and was 30 feet short of the beach when the wave dove and I rolled over. The only loss was a pair of nail trimmers. Dorothy made it a lot further and was caught by a side wave. Two young men “saved us” and got us and our gear up on the beach. We spent an hour watching the waves and the people before heading back - mainly due to our forgetting to put on sun screen. The young men, who called Dorothy “Mama”, helped both of us by getting us beyond the crashing surf. Banditos my ass. Everyone we have met here has been most gracious. We really can’t say enough about the Mexican people. We will be back and won’t need a caravan as we feel extremely comfortable.

Just for fun, we went to three big box retailers, Wal-Mart, Costco and Home Depot. There is a Sam’s, but we don’t have a membership. At each store there were lots of shoppers with full baskets. Cabo is the only city in Baja we have seen with American big box stores.

The standard of living is lower in Mexico, no question about it. But, we see happy faces everywhere. As we contemplate traveling in an RV with $4-a-gallon gas looming, a global recession perhaps on the horizon, massive collective debt, and a psychological mood of retrenchment, perhaps half the country will need to scale back a notch or two — but from a level of existing privilege and affluence that is simply staggering. Happiness does not come from material things. Perhaps Americans could be happier with less?

Headed back north now

Monday, March 10
Cabo to Los Barriles A short driving day. We are halfway between Cabo and La Paz on the gulf side. There are boo-coo norte americano’s homes here. Mostly are hidden from the road and can be seen only from the water, unless you take a Jeep down a rutted road to a punta and look back. Access is by long dirt roads only.

The CG is one of the best we have been to in Baja. It is still be developed, by a Spaniard and his son. They have as much heavy equipment s most road construction crews, The electricity is only 130v, so we can use it. It just cuts off and on a lot, even in the middle of night.

Tuesday, March 11
Most of the group took ATV’s up an arroyo and swam in hot spring pools. Not a bad idea. We decided to drive the east cape road. Which was not so good an idea. While most of it was paved, too much of it was washboard. There are plenty of americano’s homes are off the road. No way we would consider such a place. There were precious few vistas to the beach and no beach access until we got to end. The attraction we were seeking was a national park, which turned out to a marine reserve, i.e. the water, but not the shore. The drive was saved by eating a delicious lunch “at the end of the road”.

Back at the CG, we had a pleasurable shower, Talipa with mango sauce for dinner, while the group goes into town to eat.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

San Diego to Loreto, Baja Sur

Sunday, February 17, 2008
San Diego! We have been headed this way for weeks, today we made the final jump from the mountains to the shore. We had very little traffic in the city, Sunday we guess.

We plan to go to the zoo and the USS Midway and drive up to La Jolla if we have time.

We leave for Baja Friday morning. No phone for a month. Internet from time-to-time. We will think of you.

Monday, February 18, 2008
Today we drove to LaJolla, doing the tourist thing. I even got a haircut, but it isn’t the best one that I have had.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
At long last (more than 40 years) we visited the San Diego Zoo. Dorothy was there when her father was a in the Navy and she was a little girl and Don was there when he was a young man in the Navy. As you can image, it has changed. We spent four hours walking around and looking at animals we did not know existed and probably saw about half of the zoo. There are some beautiful birds that we both enjoyed. Also we got to see two snow leopards that were having lunch, which was pretty exciting. The current main feature of the zoo is the baby panda that is just a couple of months old. There is a two year old panda that was very active. The baby sleeps 20 hours a day and mama sleeps 12 hours a day and eats bamboo the other 12. It was her naptime.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
We discovered that we did not understand the Baja schedule. We have orientation Friday and leave Saturday. We are somewhat disappointed because we are so ready to get to Baja. Tomorrow is another free day and hopefully we will do more sightseeing. When you travel as we do, then mundane chores are a must. Today was that day. We went to Wal-Mart, Costco and Albertson, came home and had lunch and then had four loads of laundry to do. Doesn’t that sound like fun! Don replaced some of the keys that were lost or mislaid in Florida.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
We parked the car for our Midway visit at a memorial to Bob Hope entertaining the troops. Also there was an extremely large statue of a WW II sailor kissing a nurse, called Total Surrender. It made me think of my parents. We spent the day touring the USS Midway. It was a real treat for us. The carrier is a generation older than the one I was on. I don’t recall ducking so much on the Connie, but after 43 years my memory is dim. I wanted Dorothy to experience how big a carrier really is. She finally “got” how difficult landing a plane really is when a naval aviator explained it to her on the flight deck.

Another carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan #76, was in port. I was especially excited about that. I don’t know if it was because I remember the Reagan years so well, because we had seen a special on the Reagan on TV or because a fellow Windmill sailor, Will Bransom, served on her or all three. As Don is taking pictures, a former America’s Cup boat sailed in front of the Regan. Totally great day!

Friday, February 22, 2008
This was orientation day. We endured a 2.5 hour talk about what to expect in Baja. We all went out to dinner together at a Chinese buffet, where the food was surprisingly good. Don went back four times and never touched the Chinese food.

Saturday, February 23, 2008
We got away at 9:30 and arrived in Ensenada at 12:15. At several places the view of the surf is as good as it gets. There are precious few turnouts and none big enough to accommodate 15 rigs. So we missed getting any good pictures. The price of traveling in a group.

After lunch and waiting around, we went to immigration office to get our papers and found that the office closed at 2. The guide says he has plan B.

We all went into town and all wound up in Hussan’s Bar. We did not like the margaritas, so we went next door to get some fish tacos. We then walked a few blocks and got back to the CG by 5, finding that most of the others were already back. The band at the Cantina across the street played until 4:30 am.

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Ensenda to San Quintin We have left the popular area and entered Baja. We camped on the beach. The beach is like Port St. Joe, FL, but a whole lot better. There is nothing but beach for miles. The dogs had a ball. We drove the Jeep five miles down the beach enjoying the square waves breaking. We picked up a few rocks. Back at the CG, we had a margarita party. It’s still a cool at night, but hopefully that will improve further south.

Monday, February 25, 2008
San Quintin to Catavina is an enjoyable drive from the coast through low mountains in a high desert environment. Peak elevation was 2,200. Catavina is about 1,800’ in area of big granite boulders. We have never seen so many types of cactus in one place. Puts Big Bend to third class. Tremendous saguaro, forests of boojum, four types of cholla.

Our CG is a former government camping facility. No hookups, but well laid out. After settling in, we went for a ride with fellow LDer’s, Ron & Mary Tribbett from CA, into the desert at places we had seen coming in. It was fantastic, cactus of all types, rocks, pools of water. Baja has had lots of rain this year so the cacti are gorgeous.

A word about our traveling companions – the group is about our age, only one couple not retired, a few older, educated, and a few travel as much as we do. They are quite enjoyable to be around. I guess because it’s a Lazy Daze group and all have dry camped before, we don’t have generators running all the time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Catavina to Bahia de los Angeles
The wagon masters say it will keep getting better and so far they are right. We crossed the low central mountains, 2,500 feet, to the Sea Of Cortez. Most of the drive was through unremarkable landscape like Arizona. We got to a valley filled with flowers, whites, yellows and purples. The wagon masters have been coming for six years and they have never seen the desert so green.

When we got near Bahia de los Angeles the view of he harbor had us slack jawed. Azul water. What a place to sail. And there is not a single yacht, power or sail, in the harbor.

We had some fine scallops and too much food for lunch, which is the main meal here. Then we had steak and too much food for dinner. Neither of us slept well from too much food.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The water was flat when we woke up at 6,so we had coffee, put the yaks in the water and paddled about two miles across the bahia to the lighthouse. Don walked the beach. Dorothy was chicken to get of the boat after nearly falling in the first time.

Remember the keys that we had to replace for the Jeep, for $182? Well, as I was getting dressed to go ‘yaking’ I felt something in my pocket – yep, it was the keys. Don’t know how they got there, but I didn’t do it and Don does wear my slacks!

We toured the “town” with Ron and Mary, took a nap, had a big lunch, went to the museum and watched a Nat Geo Imax movie, in DVD format, that was shot here. We then took another siesta.
Tomorrow we find out if we will be fined, jailed or what for not immigrating last Sunday.

I bought a small bottle “Vivo Villa” which is some kind of licor at 48 proof. Tastes pretty good from the bottle.

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Bahia de los Angeles to Guerreo Negro. An uneventful drive through unremarkable terrain, a la southern Arizona. Our purpose here is take a whale watch in the morning and then head south. As much as we have seen of the city, it did not inspire us to tour it. It looks much like a border town, trashy. Our RV park is a has been, over-priced, but full hookups. Almost no water pressure. Back on Mountain Time.

On the way down, we stopped at the village of Jesus Maria and dropped off some school and medical supplies.

We have been illegal since Tuesday, but we got legal today without any problems. How was it done? I don’t know. The wagon masters took our passports, went to the Migration station and then returned our passports. Interesting, here you can cross into Mexico without any questions and later declare you are a tourist. If you stay less than 72 hours, you don’t need to do anything.

We have been waved through three military checkpoints where all they might check for are guns and drugs. Importing drugs to Mexico from the north? Oh well. It’s hoot to see a manned and armed sand-bagged position before you get to each checkpoint. I guess it gives the young men something to do while in service.

There is a border crossing from north Baja to south Baja. They are inspecting and confiscating fruit and then for $2 (mandatory), they spray the underside of your vehicle for fruit bugs.

Friday, February 29, 2008
Guerreo Negro to St Ignacio This is an oasis the desert. The Jesuits planted date palms and built a swell mission for 1.5 million pesos that’s still being used after 300 years. We bought some delicious date bread. One of the couples, George and Betty, celebrated their 11th anniversary and 44 years of marriage by hosting a margarita party.

The town was celebrating the 14th anniversary of their elementary school. Maybe that does not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to them. All the kids were dressed in school uniforms, all the officials were on a long podium and the town folk and a few tourista’s were watching from the shade of the oak trees.

The presentation of the flag and singing of the national anthem was poignant. All saluted and all sang. I have seen nothing like it in the US for too long. Respect for country, community and school. BTW, the kids were not figiditing and no one looked bored.

St Ignacio is the home of the internationally acclaimed Rice and Beans Restaurant. The food is better back home. The CG, by the same owner, was not much either. The voltage was too high, 147 volts and the water pressure was about nil. In short, a rip-off. The Lakeside RV park looked good. No hookups, but a scenic CG.

Saturday, March 1, 2008
St Ignacio to Santispac back to the Sea Cortez. The color of the water is as good as any I have ever seen, in person or in pictures. We are on the beach, no hookups and no complaints. There are some Canadians next to us that came for one-day, and that was two months back. I am wondering why we don’t just stop here. La Paz is supposed to be good, but Cabo is supposed to suck, lots of tourists and maybe even cruise ships which keep prices high.

The water temperature is as warm as Frank’s pool gets in August. I took the yak out for a short paddle in the lagoon. The land breeze was a bit much, but it laid down before sunset. In case we haven’t mentioned it before, life is good!

Sunday, March 2, 2008
We paddled the yaks before breakfast and before the land breeze came in. In our lagoon, Bahia Conception, are several communities of ex-pats. We drove a few clicks south to El Coyote and found Jerry Pawson, an LDer we met in Oregon two years back. This is their fourth year here. Dorothy wants to come back. El Coyote is $150 a month with palapya, no hookups and a view to die for.

We had a cookout on the beach featuring the biggest prawns we have ever seen.

Monday, March 3, 2008
Santispac to Loreto. This is one of the oldest towns in Baja. It’s on the gulf side. It comes complete with a charming mission. Loreto also has some paved streets!

We had a good lunch of tacos, beans and guacamole at the CG restaurant. I think the first restaurant we have been to on Baja that was air-conditioned. Most of the wait staff and locals eating there were of Spanish decent, not Indian.

Keeping the vehicles half clean is a daily chore. Start with a desert, no pavement when you pull off the highway for gas or any other service, add strong winds and dust finds it’s way into the vehicles. This is not America. There is a saying here, bad roads bring good people, good roads bring bad people.

The prices for groceries are about the same, sometimes higher than the US. Liquor is higher. Gas is much lower and so is propane. The latter two are more efficient than the US products.

Tonight, most of the group went to a swell restaurant for Sonoran beef. We already had a cooked steak and elected to stay in camp, do laundry, shower and avoid mob dining.