Monthly Archives: February 2014

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.

February 17, 2014 Guerrero Negro, Mexico Part 2

Today for my birthday Bill took me on a whale watching tour.  A van picked us up at the campground and drove us down to a huge lagoon called Laguana Ojo de Liebre off of the Pacific Ocean.  On the way we passed a salt mine which is the largest in the world. 20140217_P1040510 20140217_P1040512 They process and ship salt all over the world.  We boarded a small boat which held 15 people, 20140217_P1040423passed huge sand dunes and the view was beautiful. 20140217_P104050020140217_P1040424 We saw many gray whales since this is where they migrate to from February to April to give birth.  The whales came right up to the boat and we were able to touch them. 20140217_P1040482 20140217_P1040436 They were curious about the hum of the boat’s engine and went from one side of the boat to the other passing underneath.  The water was clear enough to see them swimming and they were very playful. 20140217_P1040486 20140217_P1040454 20140217_P1040449 20140217_P1040447 20140217_P1040444 20140217_P1040441 20140217_P1040440 They were close enough to see their eyes 20140217_P1040454  and blowholes…I never knew they had two blowholes, just like a human nose.  We were sprayed by the mist from their blowholes and a couple times I was drenched as they flipped in the water and splashed their huge tails.  They had many barnacles and not the prettiest creatures I have ever seen, but I was in awe of actually touching a whale!  I once in a lifetime experience!   20140217_P1040452 20140217_P1040446 20140217_P1040429 20140217_P104042720140217_P1040457Everywhere we looked there were whales swimming and jumping in the water.  We did not see as many baby whales as we thought we would, but there were plenty of other whales and our guide told us there were some pregnant whales in the water.  Unfortunately none of them decided to give birth while we were there!

After a box lunch of sandwiches and fruit provided by the tour company we started to return to shore.  Along the way we passed a large mooring where seals and sea lions were sunning themselves.  The seals barked at us as we passed by.  20140217_P1040505

Monday evening we had dinner at the campground at Mario’s restaurant. 20140217_075806 Bill had some great shrimp broiled in garlic sauce.  I ordered fried chicken and should have known better.  When my food came I thought it sure didn’t look like fried chicken.  I gingerly tasted it and the waitress who was also Mario’s wife, asked me how I like it.  She then told me it was fried scallops.  Not good news for someone who does not eat seafood.    I sent it back and declined their offer to fix something else when she said they didn’t have any chicken.  I thought it strange they would automatically substitute scallops for chicken without asking.  But, this is Mexico!  I am finding Mexico is a great place for me to lose weight.  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again for dinner.

February 15, 2014 Guerrero Negro, Mexico Part 1

Our group of 8 returned to the Catavina hotel restaurant this morning for breakfast before leaving for the 130 mile trip to Guerrero Negro.  The mileage doesn’t seem far, but with the Mexican Highway 1 roads through the mountains it took about 4 hours. 20140215_P1040409 We had one uneventful military checkpoint where they waved all of us in our caravan of 4 RVs through the checkpoint, and I took NO pictures!  Today there was a lot of tractor trailer traffic which does not make for easy travel on these roads.  We sure were glad we had the reflective tape on the driver’s mirror since some of the trucks came really close when passing.

As we traveled further south the terrain reminded us more and more of the desert in Arizona and we saw donkeys and horses along the sides of the road. 20140215_P1040414 20140215_P1040415 20140215_P1040418 It was not unusual to see cattle along the side of the road and there were many signs warning of cattle on the roadways. 15-IMG_20140212_205639 As we neared the outskirts of Guerrero Negro we left the state of Northern California Baja and entered the new state of California Baja Sur (south). 20140215_P1040422 We had to go through an agricultural inspection where they asked if we had oranges or potatoes.  We then had to pay 20 pesos (a little under $2.00) to have the bottom of our RV sprayed so we would not be bringing any insects into Southern Baja.

We arrived at Mario’s Campground in Guerrero Negro and tried to find a place to set up.  We found the electricity and water here is very limited.  One site had voltage too high and one too low.  We thought we found a good site but our surge protector cut the power off and on all night as the voltage fluctuated dramatically.  We also had no water pressure and they said the pump was off but they would turn it on.  As I took a shower that evening I found the water suddenly stopped and we had to use our water tank.  They seem to cut the water off and on at random and we had to go each morning and during the day and ask them to cut the pump on.  Well, it IS Mexico!!  We used their water, when we had it for showering and flushing the toilet and our good tank water for cooking and drinking.

When we left Catavina this morning the temperature was almost 90, but by the time we reached Guerrero Negro near the ocean, the temperature dropped to 70 with the ocean breezes.  The wind really picked up at sunset and it was windy throughout the night.


February 14, 2014 Catavina, Mexico

Today is a travel day and we are breaking up into even smaller groups as some are headed back to the border, some headed north and some further south.  We are in a group of 4 heading south.  We had a final pot luck breakfast before saying our sad goodbyes.  IMG_20140214_202657 IMG_20140214_202513

Our group of 4 headed out to Catavina where we would be staying overnight on our way to Guerrero Negro.  Once again the roads were very narrow with no shoulders, but today there was little traffic and there is basically nothing between San Quintin and Catavina.  It is very desolate and reminded us of parts of the desert of Arizona with lots of saguros and huge rocks.  IMG_20140214_P1040404 IMG_20140214_P1040395 IMG_20140214_P1040391

We crossed one military checkpoint and that is where I got in trouble.  I snapped a couple pictures of the military police with my camera from a distance.  I didn’t think they would see me but they did through the RV windshield.  They came over and I had to open the door and hand them my camera.  They were obviously upset with me.  I kept saying “lociento” (I am sorry).  One of them asked where we were going and went through the pictures on the camera.  He showed me which ones he wanted deleted and watched while I deleted them.  He then sternly said “No photos!” and walked again.  Whew!  We were on our way again.  A rather scary lesson learned.  I really thought they were going to confiscate the camera.

After crossing a really bad place in the road that had almost been washed out, we arrived at our destination.  It was very hot but quickly cooled off at sunset.  Our destination was a large dirt lot with no hookups.  We circled RVs like a wagon train and made camp.  After everyone was settled we all drove back about 2 miles to a beautiful hotel with a restaurant for a late lunch.  The hotel appeared to be deserted so I have no idea how they stay in business.  My lunch came with French fries and I learned Mexican potatoes are very different from Idaho potatoes back home.  I did not like them at all.  While they look like potatoes, there is no resemblance in taste!

When we arrived back  at the campsite we had a 3 hour Happy Hour with fresh pineapple, strawberries, margaritas, pina coladas and chips and salsa.  We enjoyed the warm breezes, watched the sunset, swapped RV travel stories, and did some stargazing under a beautiful full moon.  Later we could hear coyotes howling in the distance.

A Valentine’s Day like none other!


February 13, 2014 San Quintin, Mexico Part 2

A day to enjoy the beach! IMG_20140214_083842 IMG_20140214_083915 A little chilly with the breezes off of the Pacific, but a great day at the beach.  We noticed that the day here started off sunny and then around 9:00 a misty fog blew in and stayed until 11:00.  Just when you think the day is going to be cloudy, the mist blows out and the day is once again sunny and bright.  We love our beach campsite at El Pabellon!  IMG_20140214_083604

Bill began the day at 8:30 by meeting a few members of the group to go to an elementary school about a mile from the campground. IMG_20140214_P1040379 IMG_20140214_P1040376 One of the members of the group had a computer they no longer needed and we heard the school could use it.  Bill, the computer engineer, went along to set it up and get it working.  They took along some school supplies they had also saved for the school.  The school had 3 classrooms with grades 1 and 2 in one room, grades 3 and 4 in another room, and grades 5 and 6 in the last classroom.   School is compulsory through sixth grade in Mexico.  They had a little kindergarten/preschool in a separate building.

When Bill and the group returned we all drove into San Quintin to a restaurant recommended by those who had been there before. P1040372 We were told they served great cucarachas which is Spanish for roaches.  We knew that was really ham and cheese quesadillas.  The quesadillas were delicious and the chips and salsa very spicy.  We enjoyed great food and company.  On the way back home we noticed how they used sticks for fences around their homes and yards.  P1040373

We barely got home before it was time for Happy Hour.  During Happy Hour Bill was presented with a Mexican Connection 8 volunteer patch for his service to the school and a picture drawn by the children.  IMG_20140214_P1040593

Our friends Bob and Sharon invited us to their RV for dinner.  Bob grilled salmon he caught in Alaska and Sharon made a great Caesar salad.  Wine and margaritas were added to the meal…delicious!!  The evening passed too quickly and we had to wish them a very sad farewell.  Tomorrow they are headed north to San Felipe and we are heading further south in Baja.  I am sure we will meet up with them again somewhere, sometime.

February 12, 2014 San Quintin, Mexico Part 1

Of our original group of 87 people and 49 RVs, only 22 RVs continued south.  With the charity work done, the others decided to return home or head north to another destination.

With our smaller number, we still divided up into groups with a group leader and a tailgunner and stayed in touch by CB radio.  We had heard that the road from Ensenada to San Quintin which is Mexico Highway 1 was bad in places due to road construction.  This had no connection with the toll road collapse between Tijuana and Ensenada.  We knew the 122 miles from Ensenada to San Quintin would probably take four and half to five hours due to detours onto dirt roads.  18-P1040070

We did encounter 4 detours onto dirt roads with pot holes, but the trip was not as bad as expected.  In Baja there are many many “topes” which is Spanish for speed bumps.  The Mexicans love speed bumps and you can come across them very unexpectedly.  The most unnerving part of driving in Mexico are the narrow roads with no shoulders and big dropoffs.  The driver has to constantly be on guard and I did quite a bit of watching out my side window to be sure we were not over the white line on the shoulder side.  IMG_20140214_P1040383 01-P1040304

This area is largely agricultural and we saw asparagus and a type of prickly pear cactus growing.  We saw a lot of the cactus for sale in the grocery stores and were served it in restaurants.  They scrape the spines off the cactus before selling.  They can be sautéed or boiled and taste very much like green beans.  In this area they also grow peppers, onions, strawberries and tomatoes.  We saw many greenhouses and Baja’s largest tomato processing plant is in this area. 08-P1040332 06-P1040322 05-P1040321 04-P1040320 02-P1040305 We also saw many vineyards.  We stopped to take a break and there was a truck selling oranges and one person in our group walked over and bought some. 03-P1040315 As we got closer to San Quintin (pronounced San Canteen), we saw 5 inactive volcanoes of San Quintin Bay.  Due to haze we were not able to get a picture from the window of the RV.

About 5 miles outside of Ensenada we came to a military checkpoint.  Every RV in our group was inspected which meant a military policeman with a large rifle came inside to look around.  He asked us where we were going, if we had a dog, looked under the bed and then asked if we had a GPS.  When we said yes he asked where it was.  When we showed him he said okay and left.  It seems everyone in all the groups were asked if they had a GPS.  We had been warned in advance that sometimes they ask for Coke or candy and one man had his rib eye steaks “confiscated”, but we did not experience that happening.  We passed through one other military checkpoint but they just waved us through.

Everyone arrived safely at El Papellon RV Park and we pulled onto the beach for dry camping.  P1040356That means we are self sufficient and do not rely on electricity, water or sewer hookups.  Bill set up the solar panels he bought to recharge our batteries and we used fresh water from our RV water tank. P1040370 We all set up in time to continue our Happy Hour 4 P.M. tradition, except this time it was on the beach! 10-P1040337 During Happy Hour a man pulled up in a pick up truck loaded with fresh clams.  Several of the people in the group bought the fresh clams…..a dozen for 50 pesos which is about $4.00 in dollars and they were huge! 11-P1040341

Bill and Bob spent some time discussing engines and RV stuff. P1040367 P1040365 You can see the reflective tape on the driver’s side mirror.  We had been warned before leaving for Mexico to put reflective tape on our mirror so the truck drivers and buses could see the mirrors on the narrow Mexican roads and not knock them off.

We finished the evening by going next door to Bob and Sharon’s RV where we enjoyed a spirited game of Mexican Train dominoes.