Category Archives: Mexico


Cabo San Lucas, Mexico May 9, 2022

The next day was a day at sea. One event was an opportunity to hear from our captain, Captain Mark Rowden. Jeremy, the cruise director “interviewed” the captain who talked about his time during the pandemic, his employment path over the years, and some information about the operation of the ship itself. Very interesting and a nice man. 20220508_100340

Dinner that night was our last Gala Night and they FINALLY served filet mignon and lobster. I don’t like seafood so lucky Bill received two servings of lobster. We shared a table with a couple from upstate New York. He was complaining that his wife had booked an excursion tomorrow in Cabo San Lucas. The excursion included riding a CAMEL on the beach. He was even less happy when he found out during dinner the excursion began at 7:00 AM. The look on his face was priceless. He was actually a good sport and his wife, Bill and I had a lot of fun teasing him. We told him we were going to find him at dinner the next day to learn  if he and the camel survived. Unfortunately we never crossed paths with them again. 

Our last port, Cabo San Lucas, turned out to be our favorite of the cruise. They saved the best for last in our opinion. Cabo San Lucas is located at the tip of Mexico’s 1,000 mile long peninsula called Baja California. It is located at a beautiful bay where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.


Sunrise as we Arrive in Cabo San Lucas

Because of this meeting of the sea and the ocean, the water in this area is known to be rough. This port is also a tender port, meaning the water is too shallow for the ship to enter so the ship docks off shore and small boats, known as tender boats take you to the pier. 20220509_09074820220509_091037

I have read on numerous blogs that sometimes it can be tricky, even downright dangerous, to step from the ship onto the tender boats if the water is rough. Imagine trying to step from one boat to another as the boats rise and fall with the waves. And you have to do that going and coming back! I will admit I worried about it a lot. They have crew members to help you and the advice is to step only when they tell you to step, not when you want to step. Also I get seasick easily and I worried about the 20 minute ride over in the small tender boat. So what happened? It was fine both ways. We were blessed with relatively calm water that day. All that worrying for nothing. 20220509_09102120220509_12040520220509_09444720220509_09104220220509_094743PXL_20220509_155828595

It was a pretty boat ride to the pier. When we arrived we had a huge seal waiting to greet us. A couple hours later when we went to catch the tender boat back to the ship, he was gone. 20220509_094908image

Built as a beacon to welcome tourists, the 65 foot Tequila Lighthouse is very nicely decorated in front of the tequila distillery, with a large lighthouse tower above the building. We took these pictures outside. 20220509_101259PXL_20220509_161006478.MPPXL_20220509_16122152220220509_101140

We slowly walked along the marina enjoying the views. We had three  destinations planned. PXL_20220509_162150226.MP20220509_102318

First, Bill collects Hard Rock Café shirts from our travels and there was a Hard Rock Café in Cabo San Lucas. We easily found the shop. The hardest thing was trying to select which shirt he wanted. 20220509_11060420220509_104107

Second was to add to our hobby of finding geocaches (described as a global hide-and-seek game). This one was located in a coffee shop. Another easy find. We saw a bicycle taxi and a bus with destinations written on the windshield. PXL_20220509_172907866PXL_20220509_172916646

The third errand was to get my free charm at Diamonds International. Many Caribbean ports give you a free charm at their Diamond International stores. A clever way to get you in the store and hopefully buy something. The man working in the store asked if I had ever been given the charm bracelet to go with the charms. So he gave me a bracelet to go with the free charm! Nice man! PXL_20220509_160904807

We slowly walked back towards the ship and debated stopping to get a cold drink or wait until we got back to the ship. The line at the pier for the tender boat was short so we decided to go back. We got on the waiting boat and it was a quick ride back to the ship. Along the way we saw a fishing boat with a huge sea lion grabbing the back of the boat, hoping to be thrown some fish. It was hilarious to see but unfortunately it went by too fast to get a picture. Here is a picture provided by Holland America. 20220506_103905

And to my relief it was an easy exit from the tender boat onto the ship. 20220509_125912

We enjoyed our balcony for the afternoon, especially when we were leaving Cabo San Lucas and passed right by the famous stone arch, El Arco, that Cabo is known for. Our cruise director had told us there are two famous beaches there. One is named Lovers Beach, so named because of the calm waters on the Gulf of California, perfect for fabulous snorkeling. On the other side is Divorce Beach.  It is named Divorce Beach because of the jagged rocks and formidable waves from the Pacific Ocean, bringing forth images of lovers’ quarrels. 20220509_132049PXL_20220509_202058829

These are pictures taken as we travel north up the coast. 20220509_13315820220509_133203PXL_20220509_202722223

We loved Cabo San Lucas! 



The next day was a day at sea as we headed towards our final destination, San Diego. When we left Cabo San Lucas and entered the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, it was like someone had flipped a switch. It became cold, windy and the water rough. Up until this part of the cruise, the water had been calm. So calm I rarely needed Dramamine, and on cruises in the past I had to constantly take it. Only one morning did I not feel well at breakfast and took one Dramamine tablet which took care of it. Now it felt like the Arctic! We tried to still use our balcony, but it was just too cold. PXL_20220511_010106693PXL_20220508_201724469

May 11th was disembarkation day, our cruise was over. Holland America handled the customs in a new way. We were given a time to report to a room on the ship. Five customs agents had boarded the ship and each person went to an agent with their passport. No searching of suitcases, no asking what we bought or were bringing into the country, no filling out forms. In fact we were told to leave our suitcases in our cabin during this process. It was a quick and smooth disembarkation and re-entry into the country. 20220511_06271020220511_062330_2

We had booked and prepaid through Holland America bus transportation to the airport. Our bus filled quickly and our driver left the port and headed to the airport, a mere three miles. It became apparent fairly soon that our driver did not know where he was going. He missed the turn and went back around and made another wrong turn. This second wrong turn took him to a gate where the arm raises to get your parking ticket. I heard him saying, “Oh no, oh no”. To make matters worse if he made it through the gate, the bus was too large to continue on. The “No RVs or buses” made that clear. I was beginning to wonder if we would make our flight!! Fortunately a security guard came over and raised the arm and led him through an employee parking lot. Whew!! At this point a woman, thankfully sitting at the front of the bus and well acquainted with the San Diego Airport, directed him to passenger drop off. When we got off, the bus driver said he had never driven to this airport before!! Next time we will take a taxi! 

We had an uneventful flight home, flying from San Diego to Minneapolis to Orlando. We had just enough time to use the restroom in Minneapolis before boarding the second plane. In Orlando we sent a text to the place we had left the car, they came and picked us up and took us to retrieve our car. By this time it was after 11:00 PM so we had an easy drive home with little traffic. We had gotten up that morning at 5:30, so it was a long day. 

Many thanks for following along with us. Until the next adventure. 

Bill and Diane 


Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico May 4-7, 2022

On sea days there are a variety of activities. Bingo and the casino are not our thing. We always attend the cruise director’s talks on upcoming ports and excursions. One day, as we headed towards Mexico, there was a cooking presentation on Mexican cuisine called Ports to Table. Jeremy, our fabulous cruise director is on the right, a new hire from Mexico in the middle, and the head chef on the left. The chef prepared two dishes, Chile Rellenos and one with tortillas that I can’t remember the name of. original_a9acde05-d56f-4b87-9a58-851d6f6b76aa_PXL_20220502_194617612.MP

A couple nights ago they had crème brûlée as one of the dessert options in the dining room, Bill’s favorite. The dining room manager told him he could actually order it every night, even if not on the printed menu. One night he asked for one and received two! He was thrilled and took advantage of that offer for the rest of the cruise! 20220504_19240920220502_100330

Day Ten

Our first Mexican port was Puerto Chiapas, located at the very south tip of the Mexican Pacific coast, near the border between with Guatemala. We did not see any excursions that interested us and there really wasn’t anything of interest at the port terminal. It was one of those ports where you wonder why they bothered to stop here. However we were greeted with a warm welcome by some regional dancers. PXL_20220504_151352416.MP20220504_102118PXL_20220504_152118023original_06b9957f-8068-4935-b424-59fb96c8449f_PXL_20220504_162430407

It was such a hot day I wondered how they stood those costumes. We walked off the ship to check out the terminal. Just typical souvenir stores. We could have paid for a shuttle into the town of Tapachula, but we read there really wasn’t anything there worth going to see. We didn’t stay long at the terminal, went back to the ship and enjoyed the afternoon on our balcony. 

Day Eleven

Next day was the port of Huatulco. This was a very picturesque port, the kind of place it would be nice to spend a few months in the winter. It was clean and felt safe. Once again we didn’t see any excursions of interest. 20220505_095553 We took our time having breakfast and leaving the ship. We walked the mile into the town of La Crucecita, a leisurely walk along a nice wide sidewalk. Uphill going, downhill back but with no shade. We went to a large grocery store and bought some canned drinks to take back on the ship and a couple to drink on the way back. We were walking along and somehow I managed to trip and fall hard on the sidewalk, skinning my elbow and knee. While I was sitting there trying to catch my breath and regain my pride, a van pulled over and a man got out to see if we needed help. I assured him I was going to be okay. He obviously knew we were from the ship because he said when we get back to the ship be sure and ask for an ice pack. I was more upset about my canned drink I dropped and spilled than my injuries! 20220505_083023

We enjoyed a lovely sail away that evening from our balcony. PXL_20220505_221803337

Day Twelve – At Sea

Day Thirteen

Our next port was Puerto Vallarta, a port we had heard a lot about and looked forward to visiting. It is often portrayed as one of the most beautiful, cultured and luxurious vacation spots in all of Mexico. It was a sleepy, quiet town until Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton showed up for the filming of the movie, “Night of the Iguana” in the early 1960’s, and put the town on the map, so to speak. Elizabeth Taylor was not in the movie but accompanied Richard Burton to the set. They fell in love with the area and bought homes there. They were each married to other people at the time and lived in separate houses across the street from each other. They had a second story bridge built over the street connecting the two houses so they could go from one to the other without being seen. I was hoping to see the houses but it wasn’t on our tour or simply wasn’t pointed out by our guide. 

We had pre-booked an excursion here. Let me start by saying it was a disappointment. More shopping and eating than touring. And I don’t think we were the only ones disappointed.

Our first stop was the Malecon, or boardwalk, in downtown Puerto Vallarta overlooking Banderas Bay. Notice the cairns, rocks piled in groups, which people like to do when they come here. PXL_20220507_152129130PXL_20220507_152252322

The Boy on the Seahorse, sculpted in 1976, is one of the iconic symbols of the city. 20220507_10250220220507_102418~2

Another is Triton and the Mermaid. According to Greek mythology, Triton is the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon. Triton is reaching out to his wife, Amphitrite, goddess of the sea. 20220507_10231620220507_10281920220507_102757

Lluvia (Rain) symbolizes openness in which the man is receiving what the world offers him with eyes looking up into the rain and enjoying the water falling on him. It represents the people of Puerto Vallarta who welcome locals and visitors with open arms. 20220507_102000

A pirate boat sailing in the Banderas Bay offered tours of Puerto Vallarta that evidently included sound effects. It startled us as it fired a cannon as it passed by. 20220507_102203

Some young men dressed as Aztec warriors tried to entertain the crowd. Our guide said they were just there to perform for tourists and then ask for money. We avoided them. 20220507_102719PXL_20220507_204844389.MP

Our next stop was at The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located in the center of the town square. 20220507_102932

The church was built between 1930 and 1940 and has services on the weekends in both Spanish and English. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Mexico. 20220507_103738PXL_20220507_15392142320220507_10410120220507_104028PXL_20220507_154046559PXL_20220507_154146989original_4c0684fe-b7bd-4c76-8831-c6b021ebe737_PXL_20220507_154621002

After touring the church we took a short walk before stopping at a leather shop. Notice the city bus. In Mexico we they don’t have signs on the bus announcing the stops. They take soap and write the names of the stops. Notice Walmart is at the top of the list. PXL_20220507_155356191.MPoriginal_7f196126-77f4-4a85-bd4b-28c8871c0f51_PXL_20220507_154347370

Remember I told you the guides like to take you to shops hoping you will buy something. On this excursion it was a jewelry store followed by a leather shop. The owner talked about how they made shoes and other leather items, and then gave us plenty of time to shop. Shoes, jackets, purses, wallets…..we didn’t buy anything. Both stores offered free small drinks like margarita and beer. PXL_20220507_164057356.MPPXL_20220507_16170542320220507_115707PXL_20220507_16545692420220507_105927

Next up was a drive along the Banderas Bay. We stopped at an overlook where a man stood with a huge iguana. We were told you could hold the iguana, but only for a tip of course. I learned quickly the man wasn’t happy if you were interested in taking pictures only. PXL_20220507_172613891

This is Mismaloya Beach, Mexico. PXL_20220507_172852961

Across the street was a number of kudamundi, also known as a Mexican raccoon. 20220507_122555

From there I hoped we would continue along the scenic bay, but instead we were taken back into town to a Mexican restaurant. Lunch was not part of the excursion, and even though it was too early for lunch, we were all ushered inside to order lunch at our own expense. Rather annoying since we weren’t really hungry and the restaurant wasn’t cheap. 20220507_135734

After lunch we headed back to the ship. 20220507_10122220220507_10132220220507_101325

Another disappointing excursion and guide.  We noticed when we docked this morning that directly across the street was a Walmart Supercenter and a Sam’s Club. Since we had plenty of time before the ship left, we walked over to Walmart to get a few things. As we were rushing with a large group of people to cross the street before the light changed, I stumbled and fell once again. I skinned up the SAME knee as a couple days ago, my arm and even the knuckles on one hand. Bill and a man carrying a baby helped me up. I was too worried about possibly getting hit by a car to worry about my injuries or my pride. PXL_20220507_134142574

The rest of the afternoon we spent enjoying our balcony with ice on my battered knee. 

We managed to get some night pictures of Puerto Vallarta as we sailed away. 20220507_21214720220507_225323

Next up: Our last and favorite port of the cruise, beautiful Cabo San Lucas 


Palm Springs CA & Yuma AZ Nov 25, 2018

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we drove east to Palm Springs. We were anticipating heavy holiday traffic so we left earlier than usual. The traffic heading east wasn’t bad. But notice all the traffic heading west towards Los Angeles. It was backed up for many miles. We always know we are getting close to Palm Springs when we see lots of wind turbines and road signs with names like Gene Autry and Bob Hope. 20181125_11045220181125_11064920181125_11125020181125_112012

We loved our campground with the beautiful tall swaying palm trees. 20181125_132503

Everything was perfect until we saw the paper in our welcome packet warning us of rattlesnakes. Fortunately in the eight days we were there we didn’t see any. 20181125_123649

We really enjoyed Palm Springs even though it has lots of traffic.

On our first trip to Walmart a big roadrunner was wandering around the parking lot, oblivious to all the cars and people. IMG_20181203_143735

After spending three months in the spring and three months in the fall, or a total of half the year in California, on December 7 we left California and entered Arizona. We now pay about a dollar less for a gallon of gas and no longer need to pay can deposits. 20181127_161419

Our destination was Yuma, AZ where we will spend most of the winter. We have spent several winters in Yuma over the past six years so it feels very familiar to us. There is a very large snowbird population here in Yuma and it is a large sprawling city with three Walmarts, the usual large anchor stores found at malls and many restaurants. 

We pretty much picked up where we left off last winter with Bill rejoining the Yuma Amateur Radio group with their weekly breakfast meetups and monthly meetings. We went back to the Yuma Methodist Church where the pastor remembered us and we have some snowbird friends.

Our first week back we had our yearly physicals and blood-work. Always good to get that done. We drove the very short distance over the border to Los Algodones in Baja, Mexico where we rewarded ourselves with great tacos and nachos and of course big margaritas. They make their margaritas pretty strong! 20181207_123801

We are currently still in Yuma until mid January when we leave to spend three weeks in Quartzsite. We are signed up to enjoy Christmas dinner here in the RV park with other snowbirds. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.


February 4, 2015 Lake Havasu and Yuma, Arizona

We left the dazzling lights of Las Vegas and headed back towards Arizona. We decided to break up the trip by staying overnight in Quartzsite at the same spot we had previously stayed. On the way we decided to stop in Lake Havasu to see the London Bridge. Yes, a real London Bridge.

The old London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was built between 1176 and 1209. During its 600 years, over 30 severed heads of traitors were displayed on the bridge as was the custom of the time.IMG_3489IMG_3488IMG_3490

By the end of the eighteenth century the old London Bridge needed extensive repair and was too narrow for river traffic. The new bridge was begun in 1799 and completed in 1831. However as time passed the new bridge began sinking at a rate of an inch every eight years. By 1924 the east side of the bridge was three to four inches lower than the west side. The bridge simply had not been designed to withstand 20th century automobile traffic. In 1967 the city of London placed the bridge on the market.

On April 18, 1968, the winning bid went to entrepreneur and Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McCulloch for $2,460,000. Each block of the bridge was meticulously numbered before the bridge was disassembled and shipped overseas through the Panama Canal to California and then trucked from Long Beach to Arizona. The bridge was reconstructed in Lake Havasu City and finally dedicated on October 10, 1971. Including the expense for relocation and reassembly, the total cost of the bridge was $5.1 million.


Colorado River held up by Parker dam


Havasu Springs resort area

Lake Havasu City was incorporated in 1978 and became a legal municipality in 1987. It is quite a young city which makes the growth we saw pretty amazing. The city has shopping malls including a Dillards, as well as many box stores and restaurants. The motto of Lake Havasu is “Play Like You Mean It”. The city appears to be popular with snowbirds, though we did not see as many RV parks as other cities in Arizona.

As we continued on our way to Quartzsite we passed beautiful Lake Havasu Springs Resort. It certainly looked like a beautiful place to spend some time in the winter!

After a quick overnight stop in Quartzsite we continued on to Yuma where we stayed for a week. We drove over to Los Algodones, Mexico one day where Bill got a great deal on some sunglasses and had shrimp tacos for lunch. I got a great haircut, wash and blow dry for $10. The only downside to the day was the 90 minute wait to get through customs and walk back across the border. It seems every snowbird in Arizona was in Los Algodones that day making for very long lines. We spent the wait chatting with other snowbirds and watching all the vendors walk up and down the sidewalk trying to make that last sale before we crossed back over into the US.

While we were in Yuma the temperatures hovered in the upper 80’s. Life is tough!IMG_20150208_143436~2

March 3, 2014 Mexico/U.S.A

We had a wonderful time in San Felipe, with most of the reason being the wonderful time we had with Bob and Sharon.  Our last night there Sharon fixed clam chowder.  Bill enjoyed many of Sharon’s great meals of salmon, white fish, and clam chowder.  We don’t often have fish at home, so Sharon’s cooking was a real delight for him.  After dinner we watched a little of the Oscars and then played a spirited game of “Catch Phrase”.  Sharon and I really beat the guys!

We awoke early the next morning with anticipation of our trip across the border.  We were going out the Mexicali border crossing and we had been told that U.S. customs could be tough.  We didn’t have anything to be worried about them finding, we just didn’t want them pulling everything out and going through it.

After a very sad farewell to Bob and Sharon and the El Dorado Ranch, P1040649 we drove by Pemex to get a last fill up in Mexico.  It turned out that the gas in Mexico is a little cheaper than in the states.  We were glad that our RV uses gasoline because it can be purchased in Mexico. If you have a USA diesel engine made after 2007 then you can not buy low sulfur diesel fuel in Mexico and thus Mexico is missing out on more US visitors.

We had a quick military checkpoint stop at the junction of Mexico 3 and 5, just like when we entered San Felipe, except this time it was very short. They were probably worn out from the big herd of race fans that rushed to get back on Sunday.P1040651 We had to drive through downtown Mexicali which was one traffic light after another.  We had printed out directions to the border, but to our disappointment once we got close to the border checkpoint there were no signs directing us which was to go.  The lines of traffic was endless and it took us over two hours to get through the checkpoint. IMG_20140306_134416 Meanwhile there were Mexicans everywhere trying to wash our windshield and side mirrors and sell everything from water and drinks to windshield wiper blades and aprons.  It was a total mess.  The lanes on the Mexican side of the border were very narrow and we had to be careful not to scrape the side of the RV on a concrete barrier.

Once we reached the U.S. customs area we had to go through four checkpoints.  At the first checkpoint they checked our passports.  The second one was where they x-rayed the RV with what they called harmless x-rays.  The third checkpoint was where we had to get out and the inspector asked Bill to open all the bottom compartments on both sides.  He just glanced in one and did nothing else which was a relief to us because it would have been a mess to re-pack and delayed us if they had pulled everything out.  The inspector went inside but only briefly and never asked us if we had anything to declare or if we had any meat, fruit or vegetables.  I had cleaned the refrigerator out ahead of time expecting this to be done.  He put an orange tag on the RV and we proceeded to the 4th checkpoint where the tag was checked and we were sent on our way.  What a relief!  Though it had been frustrating with traffic and narrow lanes and lack of directions, we were thankful the rest of the trip through customs had gone smoothly.

We were very glad to see this sign, IMG_20140306_134239 and one of the first things we did was stop at a fast food restaurant and get us a big hamburger for lunch!  We really enjoyed our trip to Mexico.  The Mexican people are warm and friendly and eager to help.  They are very eager for tourist to visit.  We never felt the least bit afraid or threatened by anyone we met.  The only time we felt uneasy or unsafe was when we were traveling with narrow mountainous roads.  I don’t think I would be eager to travel to Baja again in an RV.  The food was an issue for me because I am a picky eater, but Bill enjoyed it very much.  We were surprised at how much the landscape looked like Arizona and California, except no billboards or hotels or restaurants.

We decided to push forward and drive all the way back to San Diego.  We were anxious to get back and get ready for the next adventure.  The traffic was thankfully light and the landscape interesting with windmillsP1040670 P1040663 and mountains of rocks IMG_20140303_160703 IMG_20140226_110909 P1040683 P1040678and several 4,000 foot mountains to pass over.

We drove into the San Diego KOA right at sunset feeling P1040689 a little like Dorothy…there is no place like home.

Many thanks to all of you for following our Mexican adventures.  After a little time in San Diego to rest, plan and prepare, we will be headed north.  Stay tuned!

February 28, 2014 San Felipe, Mexico Part 2

We were really fortunate that Bob and Sharon invited us to share their RV site at El Dorado Ranch.  It not only gave us a chance to spend more time with this wonderful couple, but all the campgrounds in San Felipe were full due to the Baja 250 which is an international off road 250 mile desert race involving motorcycles and all terrain vehicles of many classes. The top class is a “trophy truck” which has few rules.

Friday we went into town to see the parade of motorcycles and vehicles that were going to be in the race the next day. They had to go down the city center to be inspected by the SCORE race officials.IMG_20140228_215905 IMG_20140228_220143 IMG_20140301_094635 IMG_20140301_094959 IMG_20140301_095114 IMG_20140301_095652 IMG_20140301_100104 P1040635 It was amazing to see how they do parades in San Felipe.  The streets are not blocked off and people roam back and forth across the street during the parade. IMG_20140228_214608 While the parade vehicles were stopped, people were free to wander off and look at the vehicles and talk with the drivers who happened to be the mechanics.  One mechanic found a way to get lunch while waiting in the parade line!  IMG_20140228_205431IMG_20140228_215629 IMG_20140228_215308 IMG_20140228_215244 IMG_20140228_215818IMG_20140228_213950 IMG_20140228_213236 IMG_20140228_213203 IMG_20140228_203825 IMG_20140228_203102 IMG_20140228_203004 IMG_20140228_123619 IMG_20140228_111055 P1040641 P1040636 They were all headed to the inspection area where the vehicles were taken apart and inspected in depth to be sure they were within regulations.  IMG_20140228_215015 IMG_20140228_214646Bill and Bob had fun looking at all the vehicles and talked with the mechanic of #21 which later turned out to be the winner of his vehicle class. IMG_20140228_114303 P1040637 IMG_20140301_114334

Meanwhile during the parade people dragged chairs and coolers of beer through the streets to enjoy during the parade.  Only in Mexico could you bring your own coolers of beer on wheels.  We were amazed to see they charged $5 pesos (about 50 cents) to use port-a-potties. IMG_20140228_215703 Bill found a vendor who sold max trax which you put under your tires so you get un-stuck.  P1040644These would make the perfect gift for those of you who live in those cold snowy climates since they can be used on snow or sand! P1040642IMG_20140228_213900 IMG_20140228_205354 Some people had very inventive strollers that went with the theme of the race.

Saturday morning Bill and Bob were undecided about whether to attempt to watch the race.  The main problem is the race is held off road and it is extremely dusty and therefore rather unhealthy to breathe.  The drivers of the cars wear special oxygen masks due to the dirt.  Bill found the race on his amateur radio and discovered that the start of the race was being delayed for several hours.  The race course had to be altered due to snow on the summit part of the race.  Yes, snow.  It does snow in the mountains of Baja even though the sea level area is warm.  So the guys were content to listen to the race on the radio and we also spent part of the day at the golf club and of course the hot tub.  Sharon made a great pitcher of margaritas to take to the pool

February 26, 2014 San Felipe, Mexico Part 1

We packed up and waited for the Ensenada version of rush hour to pass since people drive crazy in Ensenada.  We stopped by a large supermarket on the way out of town to get some supplies for San Felipe.  They had a large display of pastries and sweets and since I had not eaten breakfast I decided to get something to eat on the way.  I looked for bags of some kind to put the pastries in and found nothing.  I knew they didn’t expect you to walk up to the checkout line with a handful of donuts, so I walked over to the bakery counter and asked where I could find a bag.  The man behind the counter did not speak English so I decided to try charades and pretend to put pastries in a bag.  All I got was a blank expression.  Bill got out his spanish dictionary and looked up the word for “bag” and I said bag in Spanish and pointed to the pastries, and again, a blank expression.  Suddenly a  lightbulb went off in his head and he pointed to some silver trays with rows of thongs and a lightbulb went off in our head and we realized we were supposed to put the pastries on the tray.  About that time another customer walked up with her tray of goodies for them to put in a bag and put a sticker on with the price to be used at checkout.  Moral of the story…when in Mexico do it the Mexican way, not the way you think it should be! When we were leaving we noticed a security guard with a big shotgun standing right inside the door because the ATM machine was being worked on.  I am used to security guards but not with shotguns! We had to cross yet another mountain with narrow, curvy roads with no shoulders.  Bill and I both commented how surprised we have been that Baja is so mountainous.  I will never get used to the roads here and I am always very nervous.  I don’t know how Bill drives an RV on these roads with tractor trailers flying past us! We passed one easy checkpoint where they only asked us where we were going.  When we arrived at the junction of Mexican HIghway 3 and Highway 5, we came to a very large, modern military checkpoint with multiple traffic lanes.  They said “inspection” which always means they want to come inside.  The soldier spent some time opening cabinets and drawers as well as the pantry and bathroom.  He then left and we were on the final leg of our journey to San Felipe.  We have read several articles recently that said all these military checkpoints in Baja are at the request of the U.S. government, and paid for by the U.S. government to stop drug traffic into the United States. Mexico Highway 5 which runs from the border at Mexicali to San Felipe was a wonderful 4 lane highway with wide lanes and a median down the middle.  What a wonderful surprise!  San Felipe is a popular tourist destination for Americans since it is such an easy 120 miles drive from the border. IMG_20140302_100210 We did read that many people speed on this road and get tickets.  We were warned that if you get a speeding ticket the police follow you to the nearest bank where you pay your fine before they let you go.  Needless to say, we watched our speed carefully, but normally stay under 55 MPH anyway! We arrived at the El Dorado Ranch where Sharon was waiting for us at the gate.  We received our passes and Sharon led the way to our campsite. IMG_20140302_100859 It was so good to see Bob and Sharon again and Bill and Bob quickly began setting up camp. P1040611 El Dorado Ranch is a gated community with private homes as well as private RV lots which is underdeveloped partly due to the downturn in the U.S. economy. IMG_20140306_134457 IMG_20140302_100815 We had access to a golf course where we could go to check our email and Bob and Sharon took some lessons and played a few rounds of golf. IMG_20140301_131132 We also had access to a beautiful swim club with swimming pools and a great large hot tub which we enjoyed during our stay in San Felipe. IMG_20140301_154447 IMG_20140301_165038

After we got set up, Bob drove us into San Felipe to get a feel for the town.  This is a pretty progressive town…they even have a bike hospital! IMG_20140228_202816 During the 5 days we were there they were having their version of Mardi Gras.  We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the carnival atmosphere.  P1040617 IMG_20140228_202922 20140302_154038 20140302_150737 IMG_20140228_130328 P1040646 IMG_20140228_220222 IMG_20140228_215956 IMG_20140228_203142 IMG_20140301_095411 IMG_20140228_213600IMG_20140228_215456 IMG_20140228_215347 IMG_20140228_213336 IMG_20140228_213828 IMG_20140228_213740 IMG_20140228_21304120140302_150720

We finished our first day in the hot tub with margaritas.  What a great day!  IMG_20140301_175053

Thursday we drove further south to more isolated areas and enjoyed seeing the beach areas.  P1040624 P1040625Just like Bahia De Los Angeles, San Felipe is on the Sea of Cortez.  It is interesting to see the shore at low tide, P1040614 and to see how they arrange their campgrounds.  Notice the third campsite picture with the large water bucket on top for taking showers.20140302_161227 P1040619 P1040633 We came to one very small town where we found a post office and a library. P1040628 Sharon and I peeked in the library and actually found some books in English!P1040631  We finished the day with another beautiful sunset and fun times.

February 24, 2014 Ensenada, Mexico

We loved our stay in San Quintin at Fidel’s campground.  It is not often that you get a beach all to yourself.  For most of the time the beach was deserted….no hotels, restaurants or people. The two RVs that appeared late Sunday were gone very early.  I find it so strange that so many people use San Quintin as a one night stopover.  It is such a shame they do not take time to enjoy the beauty and solitude of this wonderful place but instead rush on to their next destination.

We continued north for a two night stay in Estero Beach at the same campground where we had the Mexican Connection 8 rally.  The trip from San Quintin was fairly uneventful.  The four detours onto dirt roads were still there and the trip over the mountain was still unnerving. We came to our first military checkpoint where they asked us where we were going and if we were on vacation.  When we said yes they waved us on.  Our second military checkpoint was not as easy since one of the solders came inside and did a lengthy check of the bedroom and bathroom area.  This was the most extensive search done in all the military checkpoints and rather annoying but after a few minutes we were again on our way.

We arrived at the same campground and quickly settled in.  It felt somewhat like arriving home since we had spent a week there earlier, but also felt so strange to pull into the campground and not see it full of our friends and their RVs. It was nice to have internet once again to check email and work on the blogs.  Bill had planned on getting a cell phone in Mexico to use while we are here but it just wasn’t feasible or cost effective since the cell phone coverage where we were going was very sporadic.  It has been interesting spending a month in Mexico with no cell phone service and very limited internet.  In fact, it has been great!

Tuesday was spent doing laundry, catching up on a ton of emails, and working on the blog.  We had planned to go to San Felipe on Wednesday which would be our final stop before heading to the USA.  I emailed our friends Bob and Sharon to see if they were still in San Felipe since they had headed there when we went to south to Guerrero Negro.  She emailed me that they were still there and that all the campgrounds were full because the Baja 250 international race and annual carnival being held there this week.  She then generously offered to let us park our RV next to theirs since there was plenty of room.  We gratefully accepted.  We are really looking forward to seeing Bob and Sharon again and exploring San Felipe!

February 21, 2014 San Quintin, Mexico

Today we took a last look at beautiful Bahia De Los Angeles and headed north once again to San Quintin (pronounced San Canteen).  When heading south we stopped at Catavina, but we decided to get an early start and skip Catavina and push ourselves to drive to San Quintin in one day.

I was a little nervous about the military checkpoint I knew would come up since that is the one where they reprimanded me for taking pictures.  This time they asked where we were going and asked to come inside.  One very young soldier entered and stayed less than 2 minutes.  He was all smiles and very polite.  A piece of cake this time to our relief.  Once again the narrow mountainous roads with no shoulders was unnerving at times with all the tractor trailers passing on the other side.  There seemed to be a lot of truck traffic today.

A few observations.  Bill commented that there were very few billboards of any kind.  The towns are very small and few and far between, so the roadsides are not cluttered with billboards.  Airplanes of any kind have been nonexistent during our time in Baja.  The times we camped on the beaches we have seen very few boats and no ships.  In the 200 miles between San Quintin and Guerro Negro there is no place to buy gas so you have to really plan ahead.  There are no traffic lights the 200 miles from San Quintin to Guerro Negro.  The towns have tons of speed bumps and stop signs, but no traffic lights, unlike Escenada which has a traffic light on every corner and the traffic is bad.  Bathrooms and restaurants are nonexistent or few and far between.  You pass through agricultural areas with greenhouses and vineyards, but after passing through a couple mountain passes the area is desolate, barren desert.  P1040582

We decided to try a different campground in San Quintin, hopefully one with electricity and water.  The entrance to the campground was like driving on a washboard but we were rewarded with a site right on the beach and a beautiful view of the ocean.  Our Mexican camping book said this place had electricity and water, but I don’t know what made us think anything had changed in Mexico.  Again low voltage and low water pressure, but good water quality.  The low voltage is especially a problem for an RV of our size.   Regardless, we were happy with our campsite on the beach and settled in.  It is costing us $15 a night.  In the U.S. a camping spot right on the beach with a view like this would be more than $100.  P1040586 P1040587

We loved going to sleep each night and awaking each morning to the sound of waves crashing on the shore.  Saturday was very foggy and the mist blew by like smoke, but by late morning the skies cleared and the sky was sunny.  It has been such a long time since we have seen rain to amount to anything…probably not since Houston in November!  We had a relaxing and enjoyable day walking on the beach.   We were the only ones in the campground and the beach was deserted.  Very nice!

The owner of the campground, Fidel, gave us some firewood and Bill built a great fire on the beach.   Fidel sat with us around the campfire and talked for awhile.  He said before the 2008 economic down turn in the U.S., many Americans came to Baja and camped.  He showed us a photo album with pictures showing the campground full of campers.  Now, he said, only Canadians come to Baja.  Then in September, 2009, a typhoon hit Baja and his campground was wiped out.  Everything he had worked to build was swept away.  He showed us pictures of the nice campground he had before the typhoon.  We tried to explain to him that one big problem is that Mexico does not have the new highly filtered diesel fuel.  Since 2007, the US environmental protection regulations made it so that diesel engines could only use filtered diesel fuel (low sulfur).   Our Mexican Connection group was told that Mexico had the filtered fuel, but when we got down here, they did not.  There were several in our group who had planned on continuing south but could not because of Mexico not having the right fuel.  Luckily our RV takes gas instead of diesel, so it has not been a problem for us.  Until Mexico gets the filtered diesel, traveling to Mexico for some travelers will not be an option.  Fidel spoke and understood limited English and I don’t think we were able to get him to understand about the diesel, even with the help of a Spanish dictionary.

Sunday was another relaxing day on the beach and we took another walk.  We came across some amazing views of the sand dunes carved by wind and water.P1040605 P1040604 P1040603 P1040602 P1040601 Since it was Sunday there were more families enjoying the beach and fishing.  They drive their cars right down to the beach. P1040597 P1040595  It was nice sitting outside catching up on some reading and enjoying our own little Happy Hour.  P1040607

Later in the day two RVs rolled into the campground and we were so glad that Fidel had some more business for his fledgling campground.

Tomorrow we head back to Ensenada to the Estero Beach Hotel and Resort where we stayed when we first arrived in Baja.  They have laundry facilities and fairly good WIFI so we will have a chance to catch up on laundry and email.





February 20, 2014 Bahia De Los Angeles, Mexico

We said goodbye to the last of the Mexican Connection group members and headed alone back north toward the US border.  Everyone else was continuing further south and staying 6 weeks or longer.  Since we were 450 miles from the border, we decided it was time to turn around and head back to the U.S. to continue our plans to travel north up the coast of California to Canada.  If we waited too long we wouldn’t have time to get back south before cold weather in the fall.  Our first stop was at a Pemex to get gas. 16-IMG_20140212_205755 All gas in Mexico is sold by independently owned stations called Pemex and therefore they are all the same.  The price per gallon is about the same as in the U.S. but the gas is provided to all stations by the Mexican GOVT. They always have an attendant to pump the gas for you and we had been warned by the Mexican Connection wagonmaster to watch them carefully since they don’t always clear out the pump before starting and therefore you get charged too much. Next we passed a military checkpoint.  When we passed through traveling south they waved us through.  This time they made us stop and asked where we were going and asked to come in for an inspection.  They wanted to see our passports but the wagonmaster had warned us not to give them our passports but just show them our FMM’s (Visas).  They wrote down both our names and while Bill was taking care of that I opened the door so one of the solider could come in.  He came in carrying a screwdriver and opened doors, cabinets and drawers.  He knocked on the ceiling and walls of the RV.  Supposedly they are checking for concealed weapons and drugs.  I think a lot of it is curiosity and they are looking for something they might want to ask for.  Our wagonmaster said they once asked for a highlighter they had sitting on a table.  The solider made no comments and left.  I started thinking about all the border patrol we have encountered in the U.S. since leaving Texas and I realized that Mexicans visiting the U.S. must go through the same kind of thing with our own border patrols. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we entered the tiny town of Bahia De Los Angeles.  It was absolutely beautiful!  P1040526 P1040527 P1040528 We happened to have a military truck it front of  us while entering the town and I caught them in the picture.  P1040520 The town seemed almost deserted with very little traffic or people. P1040513 It did have a little roundabout P1040581  when entering the town and we stopped at a little restaurant for lunch.  Bill had fish tacos and I had a club sandwich and fries.  The sandwich was okay but the fries were horrible.  How I miss those Idaho potatoes.  It seems to us the prices in restaurants are about the same as those in Mexican restaurants in the U.S. which was surprising to us.  The difference is in Mexico the meals take longer and you get more for your money with the meal coming in several courses.  You usually get chips and salsa to begin, followed by some kind of soup.  They never ask what kind of soup you want, it is just whatever the cook has prepared for the day.  The main course usually includes the traditional rice and beans as well as several garnishments of fresh tomato, onion and cilantro and a bowl of fresh guacomole.  Meals take longer to be served since everything is prepared fresh. We pulled into our campground with a beautiful view of the Sea of Cortez.  Bahia De Los Angeles is on the Bay of California also known as the Sea of Cortez on the gulf side of Baja.  This is another dry camping site but staying here is well worth the view! P1040571 P1040569 P1040577 P1040580 P1040566 We have learned not to expect electricity and water while camping in Mexico because even if they advertise electricity the voltage is often too low to be of much use.  If we have water we only use it for showering and flushing the toilet and we use bottled water for everything else.  Many campgrounds on the beach in Mexico have thatched roof shelters called “ramadas” or “palapas” which are sometimes located at each campsite and sometimes spread out among the campground.  We have also noticed that picnic areas and rest areas with tables always have this shelter over the tables.   Even had a space set aside where you could clean your fish! P1040574 P1040578 Wednesday we got up early to watch the sunrise and spent the day relaxing and enjoying the view.  P1040534 P1040555 P1040556 P1040560 P1040563 P1040565 Thursday we rode our bikes the two miles into town.  We were getting low on propane and found a place where we could take the RV to get it filled.  We then biked further into town and found a small grocery store to buy peanut butter and oranges.  We walked next door to a little restaurant where no one spoke English.  We managed to order some chicken burritos for Bill which he said was very good.  The town again looked deserted and it seems their busy season is the summer which is surprising because it must be very hot then. The bike ride home was pretty challenging due to us pedaling against a really stiff wind.  We felt safe riding on the road because traffic was so light and only a couple cars passed us. Later in the day we drove the RV into town to get propane.  It was a family business with the wife speaking a little English but her husband did not.  While the tank was filling she introduced me to her 6 dogs and 5 cats.  She wanted to give me a cat but I used the excuse that I would never get it across the U.S. border.  We have noticed a large number of dogs running loose throughout the towns and campgrounds throughout Baja.  Most campgrounds have a welcoming committee of dogs but we have found that they leave us alone and do not hang around the campsite and beg for food. Tomorrow we head further north towards the border.