Saturday, March 27, 2010

Canada Bound

Did we tell you how beautiful the gardens were at the Estero Beach resort in Ensenada?
Ah! The things you see when you have a camera!

Skeena (Corner) and her new bestest friend Cindy!

Yes, well obviously we were in the US of A!

A very cool statue in Soap Lake, Oregon

Skeena and Cindy on one of our frequent pee stops.

This is our 'Calypso'. Home is where we park our trailer.

The problem with all great adventures is they must eventually come to an end. So our trek back to Canada began on March 22. We picked up a hitch-hiker in Ensenada - just kidding. Our good friend Cindy Allan travelled with us from that fine Mexican city to Revelstoke. She was a delightful companion that kept us entertained and stole the affections of our dog by smothering her with love and attention. 

Coming across the border at Tecate was a wise move. It isn't nearly as congested nor complicated to get in and out of as Tijauna is. A minor stop in secondary inspection to rid ourselves of the forbidden dog food was a blessing because it was horrible stuff. Mental note to self - take plenty of your own dog food as the crap in Mexico is, well, crap. Towing a trailer through the rat maize of a border crossing is not for the faint of heart. From there it was on to an Indian casino where we stopped for our first good burger in months. Susie and JD can now say they've been to a casino, didn't play any slots though. For the most part driving through Nevada on the Great Basin Highway was a whole lot of miles and miles of miles and miles. We're sure there are some interesting areas there but not when it's at the start of your journey homeward. Our first night was spent in Searchlight, Nevada. Apparently if we'd have hung around for the next day we could have had tea with Sarah Palin who was on a campaign through the state. Uh, no thank you we'd rather go home.

We continued on through Lost Wages not even stopping to try the slots. Oh well, next time we will take in some shows and try the slot machines. None of us could get over how nice it was to drive on roads where you didn't have to dodge pot holes or topes along the route. Our second night was spent at Wells, Nevada in a casino parking lot that was obviously popular with the truckers which was packed by morning. That proved to be our coldest night with temperatures dipping to -8C. Didn't think we'd have to dig out the down duvet that soon but it sure was cozy.

The next day we did a pit stop at Sierra Trading Post in Boise, Idaho where we made some lunch and perused the store for some good deals. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the Blue Mountains were behind us and we descended into Pendleton, Oregon for the night. The KOA proved to be the most expensive campground experienced so far. Lovely people with neat and clean facilities but they sure aren't shy about charging top dollar.

Pendleton to Revelstoke was a very long day, not recomended but it can be done as we proved on our final day. Crossing the border into Canada was certainly a different experience than we expected. Instead of 12 foot high walls topped with razor wire, surveillence blimps/helicoptors, border guards by the hundreds, infra red scanning devices, and dozens of workers milling about like bees which was encountered at the US crossing. Canada had one lonely, frazzled dude who politely asked us to put our lettuce in the freezer out back. In the future Canada may have to build a wall and hire some guns and helicopters to keep the Americans out. Cindy and Susie broke into a rousing rendition of 'Oh Canada' as we drove down the road through Osooyoos. Don't kid yourself when you return to your own country it is a glorious feeling!

Coming back to Revelstoke leaves us with conflicting emotions. Reconnecting with family and good friends is certainly the highlight of our return. And where we go from here...well, you'll just have to stay tuned!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cousins From San Ignacio to Ensenada

Cousin Terry in San Ignacio
Desert flower

The Century plant - blooms once in its lifetime - then dies.

Who says cactus aren't beautiful?

Roadside flowers

Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez - Sunset on the Pacific

Our good friends Richard and Cindy from Ensenada

We left San Ignacio and bid farewell to our new found family with promises that we will reconnect in the future. We're sure we have many more stories and laughs to share. The drive from there was yet another in a study of contrasts between stark desert and lush countryside. The recent winter rains have left there mark with the abundant fields of beautiful flowers, lush roadside greenery and evidence of washed out bridges. Whole sections of bridges lay in the creek bottom reminding us of the power of Mother Nature. River beds that were bone dry when we headed south still have a flow of water in them now after the rainstorms of a month ago. Work is progressing everywhere repairing the damage. It is very impressive to note that although heavy machinery is used in some applications there is still a huge amount of work done with manual labour.

We took a side trip into Bahia  de Los Angeles. It was like our final farewell to the Sea of Cortez. The town just didn't have any real appeal to us but the area to and from was gorgeous as were the grand sweeping beaches and plenty of off shore islands. Discovering a gas station in the town was a thankful relief as the tank was near empty.

Our evening ended on an expansive beach in San Quintin where we were fortunate to meet up with some more friendly travellers, a couple from Los Angeles and another from Kamloops. They were both headed to Ensenada the next day as were we. So we all agreed to meet at the Estero Beach Resort which happens to be the nicest RV park we've stayed in on the Baja. It's also the most expensive @ $33/night US for full hook up. But it is so lovely and quiet situated on a spit of land away from the bussle and noise of the city. They claim there are over 600,000 people living in Ensenada which is easy to believe.

Susie went on an adventure the other day with Richard and Cindy to the orphanage her cousins Darrell and Maureen minister at in Uruapan just south of Ensenada. It was an eye opening experience leaving her wanting to participate more. It is a breathtakingly beautiful area where the mission is working through God's direction.

Tomorrow morning we leave for the US border the earlier the better as we were invaded by a 15 unit caravan that has the same plan of leaving in the morn. This is the largest caravan we've witnessed all winter down here and they are Canadian based out of Vancouver. There's even a couple from Revelstoke in it. Although our adventure will continue the focus will change as it is now a sprint for home.
Cousins Darrell and Maureen in Uruapan, just south of Ensenada

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Very Sad Day

Yesterday was a very sad day for us in Ensenada. We took Skeena to a vet and the news about her sore hip is not good. Her hip is dislocated and even if they could pop it back in there are no ligaments there to hold it in place. The x-rays also show that her right hip is in really poor shape too and it won’t be long before it fails as well. We’ve known since she was about 6 months old that her hips were going to be a problem. We just didn’t think it would happen so soon. She’s only 7 years old. The only thing we can do for her now is manage her pain. She is so incredibly stoic and has not once whimpered or been cranky with us even though she is in constant pain. Her facial expressions, as always reveal her heart. Just love me is all she seems to say. Many tears have been shed.

It was doubly sad because Cindy had to say farewell to her faithful Eli yesterday who has been failing for a while. He was a spirited little Pappillon/Poodle that captured the hearts of all who met him. He was 15 years old. We try not to become so attached to our four legged friends because it is so very hard to say good bye. But our lives are so incredibly enriched because of their presence in them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Desert Rambles

Standing on the foundation of a famous generals once beautiful home.

Mission San Ignacio with the oasis in behind.

These looked like perfect little watermelon but I wouldn't try eating them!

We told you everything has prickles in Mexico.

Palo Adan flower.

Pretty white flower

Pretty purple flowers

JD under the Joshua tree - pretty red flower!

We were off to an early start by Baja standards this morning. Well if you consider 9:30 early. We decided to finish the walk we had started yesterday but was interupted by the dog rescue. It was a short jaunt up and across the butte that stands above San Ignacio town. Due to the unseasonal rains of late the desert has come alive with blossoms of all different size and colour. We've slowly been identifying various trees and plants of the desert and are enjoying this almost as much as the bird watching. Is this a sign of age creeping up on us?

As we've stated before everything in the desert has a thorn or a bite. Susie found out the hard way that even some of the flowers have prickles.

The view from the butte over the oasis is yet another study in the contrasts of the Baja. The vista looks over the oasis of lush palm forest. It is a stark contrast to the arid desert you stand on at the top of the butte. But it is all so very beautiful and intriguing. We're heading north tomorrow, not sure how far we'll make it.

Rescuers Down Under

We walked into town following the old, very old, aqua duct first installed for the Jesuits use many years ago. It was a picturesque ramble through the palm forest where the trail hugs the base of the butte. The contrast is there yet again. On one side you've got frogs and water skeeters and on the other scorpions and geckos. Our walk was interupted by an unpleasant scene. A half grown, fluffy white pup was tangled up in a 10 foot hunk of barb wire. On first approach he appeared ferocious. As ferocious as a Pekicockashitzapoo can be. As it turns out the barb wire kept him anchored to the spot being wound around a tree and woven through his fur and skin. We realized it would take wire cutters to free him or else it wouldn't be long before he starved to death. So we trucked on into town and stopped at the only locals place we knew. Thankfully, Juanita gladly lent us a pair of side cutters and a pair of leather gloves to subdue the 12 lbs of white fluff ball with teeth.

Back at the scene of the hostage taking our little canine friend quickly submitted when he realized our intent was to help him. Susie donned the safety gear - leather gloves - and put the gleep on him while JD manned the wire cutters. Obviously the dog spoke Spanish and we don't but he seemed to understand the universal language of compassion. He licked us profusely as we were working on him. After being freed from his prison he pranced down the trail to town sticking close to our heels. Once we got to town he trucked off as if he knew where he was going with nary a backwards glance at us. We returned the gloves and side cutters to Juanita's doorstep but as it was siesta time didn't have a chance to speak with her. Then we walked home thinking that was the end of our rescue story.

Over a wonderful dinner later that day at Ignacio Springs Bed & Breakfast - did I mention that Terry is my cousin - we heard the rest of our rescue story. It seems that the dog showed up back on Jaunitas doorstep where guests of my cousin's B & B had gone to visit. They assumed the dog belonged there and let it into the courtyard. The last they saw of it Jaunita was escorting it to the shower and was delicately trimming the barb wire out of its hair and hide.

The next morning curiosity got the better of us and we stopped by Casa Leree, Jaunita's B & B, to check on our canine friend. He was enjoying the hospitality of Jaunitas lap as she continued the shearing of his now clean but matted coat. As soon as he heard our voices he leapt from her lap and whimpered and wiggled in recognition of his rescuers. He didn't calm down till Susie scooped him up in her arms wher he promptly tried to slather her with kisses. While we reonnected with our furry friend Jaunita's housekeeper phoned her friend who is more than willing to adopt him. Now isn't that just the best damn feel good story you've heard all day?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whale Watching

Before the whale expedition.

A not so lucky whale specimen

Mr. Grey spy hopping.

Momma whale and her calf spent quite a bit of time with the boat that had children in it.

Thar she blows!

Baby whale - 500 kilos or there abouts

At this point JD was wondering if it would take a fly. 

When in San Ignacio do as the San Ignacians do – go whale watching. Reconnecting with cousins Terry and Gary put smiles on all our faces. When Terry was able to fit us in with one of the groups at their bed and breakfast going whale watching we jumped at the chance. The ride to and from the Laguna San Ignacio is 1½ - 2 hours over a very, very rough gravel logging type road. However, the whole whale watching experience far out-shadowed the ride to get there. Although whale watching to some may seem rather cliché it was one of our highlights of this trip. After man has almost hunted these Grey whales to extinction twice it is hard to imagine these gentle giants of the sea are as curious of us as we are of them.

It was so incredibly unique to come along side the whales and have the mom’s push the calves up to the boats. It’s unnerving as you peer over the side of the boat to realize that with a quick flick of her tail the momma whale could toss you into Davey Jones locker. But she didn’t. It was especially interesting to watch the whales spy hop—stand on their tales with a third or more of their bodies exposed to the air. It was like a giant submarine periscope popping up to take a look around. One of the watching boats had two small children in it and we surmised that the momma whale knew there were children in there as her and her calf spent most of their time circling and observing that boat.

It is humorous to watch a bunch of grown adults behave like giddy school kids at recess when around the whales. One of the fellows in our boat actually got to stroke the calf under its chin, it came that close. All in all it was a very memorable experience and we would recommend it to anyone that is in the neighbourhood.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Would you trust this driver? Looks like he's auditioning for the Baja 1000.

Can I just stay here? The clams are plentiful and the scenery can't be beat.

This is where we parked our home for a while. Well, there's always next year!

What's for dinner? Certainly not anything with chompers like this I hope.

This is a 'puffer' fish somewhat the worse for wear. Don't step on these carcasses. They really hurt!

Punta Chivatos was unbelievably gorgeous! Yet another place we'll have to revisit.

Sea centipede anyone?

Another day just bumming around with our friends, doing some clamming.

What do you mean you want my house as a souvenir?

This is why we came to Mexico.

We thought we'd give you a glimpse of some of the beaches we have been fortunate to explore. The number of beaches in the Baja is unbelievable! Of course some of them you have to look hard for but others are right there waiting for your exploration. Every beach just like every community has it's own unique character. Some beaches are outstanding and others just don't shine the same. You run the gammit from sparkling white sand to rocky lava like pebbles to black silty almost mud like textures. As for the crowds, some are crowded - relatively speaking - and some are totally deserted except for us. If shells and flotsam are what you're after, again each beach has it's own collection of treasures. Some are richer than others. Sunsets and sunrises are stellar no matter what beach you happen to be on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Exploring Mulege

Love the architecture - circa 1910.

I love the boganvilla!

Awe! Come on dad give me your hat!

Chili cook-off in the Mulege plaza.

These junior firemen had the best tasting chili as far as we were concerned.

This one escaped the pot!

Of course the beer garden was poplular - just like back home!

Some of the friends we're clammed up when they arrived at the party but after a little steam they opened up and proved to be quite popular.

If you've been to Mulege you know what a picturesque setting it is. Being located on a river estuary it has plentiful palm trees and beauty or it did have before the rain of the last two hurricanes blazed a path to the ocean. Mulege today is not the same as it was say ten years ago. But it is the indomitable spirit of the people that live here that you have to admire whether Spanish or English speaking. Signs of rebuilding are all around and it is reclaiming its beauty. However the For Sale signs are plentiful too.

The sense of community surrounds you whether it's walking down the street kibitzing with the vendors trying to sell you T-shirts, blankets, pottery, etc. or roaming around the chili cook-off yakking with all the gringos. It continues to warm our hearts and we thoroughly enjoy how a bunch of like minded people can be thrown together in a foreign country and fall into such warm friendships. We are all united in our love of the Baja and the Mexican people. So, not only is Skeena collecting friends wherever she goes so are we. After our trip to the chili cook-off yesterday we took a spin to our favourite clamming beach and had a big enough hall of clams to host another impromtu dinner party Baja style. We both really like this style of informal entertaining!

Speaking of Skeena, she is still struggling along with a very pronounced limp. We're giving her glucosamine/condroitin and hoping this will help. She's eating normally and is still happy and perky so maybe it just needs time to heal. Meanwhile she's livin the dream along with us.

We're pulling up the anchor from Playa El Coyote tomorrow and spending a night in town at an RV resort - housekeeping things like flushing the tanks and doing laundry. you know what it's like when you live in your RV? Then we're headed to San Lucas Cove, north of Mulege, for a day or two to check out the fishing and beach combing there.