2006 - ??
Break National Parks Tour
England - Quebec
Wisconsin to Mexico
Washington and Wisconsin
Another great winter at Villas Onac.
Again .. not busy .. quite isolationist. No one (that means me) organized
even Xmas/NY Eve gatherings and no one mentioned it .. no one wanted to
cook. We shared a pleasant Christmas dinner with Clarence/Darlene,
John/Peggy followed by an omlette-in-a-bag brunch at John/Peggy’s villa.
Raphael and family came around Christmas morning and gave us all colorful
Villas Onac t-shirts. They will now become collectors items. Wahhhhh …. We
gave ours to Pam and Chris. They were too small for us .. and MUCH too big
We had just one bonfire, a few walked to La Tambora for the sand sculpture
event, but we again had nightly Happy Hours. A core group had Friday lunches
out. The Friends of Teacapan had 2 parties plus the sand sculpture event.
Main street in Teacapan was torn up all winter to install drainage ..
another 2 month project gone awry. When we left mid-April, they were part
way thru completion .. alternating strips of hand laid interlocking bricks
w/ mortared stone lanes. Very manual. The fish guy came every week from
November thru March, always with tamborillo and shrimp. We had almost no
rain all winter but chilly winds came up most afternoons, again a La Nina
winter, but not as cold as 2010. Lots of us had gardens. I love watching veg
grow there and harvesting our salads. Also lots of hummingbird feeders and
oranges for the orioles. Squash were prolific by April. I kept several
gardens watered after peeps left. It was fun harvesting and watering with
Jaime and Emily when they came for Easter week. The girls thought we might
We had another good week in Mazatlan w/ Mary, Carl, and visits w/ friend
Babe Scanlon. I thought we’d lost Babe, as her phone was disconnected when I
called and she does not reply to email messages, as she can’t see anymore.
We went to her neighborhood to see if we could find out anything .. and
behold .. she was still in her apartment. She just disconnects her phone
when she goes to the states. Friends Betty (Flentje) and Joel Schleifer from
Minneapolis came with Mary and Carl this year and enjoyed the week. They
came for a week in 2008 when we had a condo for a month at El Quixote. Larry
ate raw oysters the day before we went to Maz … and was sick for half the
week. He might not be doing that again. Chris Hall got sick too .. and Dr.
Rizo advises that he NEVER eat raw oysters again.
We didn’t have many bikers this winter, so around Christmas I got brave and
started riding 20 miles many days on my own. The road is narrow, no
shoulder, and everyone drives like idiots .. so I got a LOT of grief for
being out there. It’s a good way to spot birds and turtles, and to collect
roadkill peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos. Some of us went into Teacapan for
the Mardi Gras parade. We passed by a recent accident .. vehicle upside down
over the fence in the field. A woman was placed/came to rest in the brush,
facing heavenward, arms in RIP position. Very weird image. Two women killed.
Five days later a motorcycle hit a truck and the 4 passengers were all
killed. Yes .. 4 passengers. Yowza!! A man, his girlfriend, her 2 young
children. Both were from vehicles passing .. on a stretch of road that was
paved on just half .. and the oncoming vehicle hit the ditch. The road was
being repaired 2 years ago, when an election happened .. and funding for the
project was stopped. Within 2 weeks of the motorcycle accident, the road got
finished, pot holes got filled in the rest of the way to Teacapan, and the
lines repainted. Amazing!!! Sad.
Heidi, Jaime and Emily came Good Friday for 8 days. A Mexican family rents
all the villas for Easter week, so we all stayed right in the rig. It was
fun. We walked the beach, boogey boarded, swam in the pool, played lots of
Apples to Apples, had 2 bonfires/wienie roasts, tea parties, walked to La
Tambora, watched the International Space Station pass overhead amid the
wonderful star show, and had a birthday party for Emily’s 7th May birthday.
It is so fun watching Emily’s reading skills improve each time we see her.
She did a fabulous job with the adult Apples to Apples, really reading the
card explanations and choosing an often-winning card, despite not knowing
the people or ideas printed there. Jaime is tall and slender and can’t find
skinny bling jeans to fit her. We found some in Escuinapa and she is
pleased. The girls loved the array of bling clothes and sandles I had for
When we took them to the airport .. I detoured down the bumpy awful road to
Stone Isand to take in a short horse ride for the girls. You can drive the
washboard road to the village .. or turn and take a sand path thru the palm
tree plantation to another sand road to town. I missed a few .. then took
one .. and slowed down too much approaching the turn onto the sand road to
town. This one had a LOT of sand and I got stuck. Whoaaaaaaaaaa … All we had
was a few palm fronds to dig out. Larry started digging .. I walked up the
hill to a tractor/wagon for tourists deal. The guy came back, towed us out
via rope … and 400 pesos of thanks later and we were on the way again .. but
our front tow bar was bent. Larry is speaking to me again. And he was able
to straighten the bar. Made the 50p horse rides less of a bargain .. but an
added adventure. We took the washboard road out.
Days before the girls came, we found out that the Canos sold Villas Onac to
a condo development group from Mazatlan. Raphael said we must leave Friday
while the girls were with us. We planned to stay until later in April .. but
with this news .. Larry packed all week .. and we decided to move to
Mazatlan .. and head north soon after we got the girls back to the plane.
But lucky for us .. the new guys showed up Thursday and said we could stay.
We and all our Canadian friends were happy to find out the park will still
be open to us next winter, rates will stay the same, our RSVPs are safe …
and they wonder what they can do to improve the place. Yeahhhhhhhhh …. I’m
sure it will be all condos in the future .. when this Playa Espiritu deal
goes forward .. but for now we’re good.
We had another safe fun winter and can’t wait to come back.
The summer flew by quickly. We took
the girls to Niagara Falls and had them to ourselves for 2 weeks. They loved
the Badger Ferry ride to Michigan. We did a lot of biking and eating at
Horton’s. We LOVE Canadian $ Stores!!! We had a fun visit w/ friends Rob and Daph Breeze and puppy Opal.
Heidi picked up the girls at Muskegon MI and we investigated the west coast of
Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, then crossed the
Mackinac Bridge and
biked Mackinac Island. After dinner with my brother-in-law Donny and friend
Mary and nieces Chris Schiesl and Jody and Matt VanDuerzen in Eagle River,
we returned to Two Rivers and spent more time with Larry’s Mom. Deirdre came
for a week to visit Grandma and we had dinner with nephew Tom and Meg
Schiesl and Callie and Colin.
Mary and Carl Tighe took a cruise in Europe and asked us to housesit while
they were gone. They measured .. and the RV fits in their driveway … so we
moved in and took care of plants and pool and enjoyed living in a house for
2+ weeks. The grands came a few days and had a ball. They asked if we could
house again sometime.
During the house-sitting weeks, I had a few Dr. appointments and Saturday
diabetes classes. My mammogram called for a few extra views .. not unusual
.. but the radiologist saw a lump and sent me to a surgeon. A core needle
biopsy said cancer. I could have gone for a lumpectomy, but didn’t have time
for 7 weeks of radiation. I went for the full mutilation mastectomy
and reconstruction .. as
the silver lining will be to NEVER have another mammogram EVER again.
So I had a second mastectomy September 12. All edges and nodes are clear, so
no chemo required. The plastic surgeon is re-doing the left side as well .. so
I have expanders on both sides and getting weekly fill-ups til we leave
later in October. Next summer I’ll finish the fills, then get implants
the following summer, as the expanders are to 'cook' 4 months when filled.
Not the prescribed plan, but approved by my medical team. I started on a 5-year
schedule of Arimidex, which will lower by 19% my risk of having cancer
somewhere else in 10 years. That is if I can survive the horrendous list of
side effects that are possible. None so far.
We are sooooo ready to get back to
Teacapan. I had way too much time to
stock up for Mexico. This year for life as a diabetic. Every year is
different. Most of our friends will be there or be back. Sadly a few have
medical issues to stay away a winter, but they’ll be back. A few
bought new trucks that require sulphur-free diesel and it is only available
in a few spots in Mexico.
We made it back to Tucson in three
days. We shopped, got the RV and car maintained, just enjoyed civilization
again. We tried In and Out burgers again and didn’t like them. What the???
We moved to a campground outside
Grand Canyon and drove to Las Vegas and checked into
Sam’s Town casino. Deirdre, Heidi,
Jaime and Emily all flew in and we spent a week together visiting parks and
sleeping in the rig. All were happy to get home to their beds, but we had a
fun week. We enjoyed the casino pool and light show, a stop at the
Hoover Dam, the Canyon. A
tour of a slot canyon in Page AZ was a hit and a campsite overlooking Lake
Powell was beautiful.
We all enjoyed a day at Best Friends
Animal Sanctuary near Knaab UT. We had a great personal tour of the
horses, a Parelli
horse training demonstration and a tour of Dog Town and Cat World.
Zion National Park and Bryce
Canyon were fun days. Heidi and Jaime rode horses for 2 hours at Bryce.
I did a lot of Trip Advisor
research and all the restaurants worked well.
We continued our parks tour after the girls went back home, and enjoyed
Dead Horse Point
State Park. We drove over the mountains toward Denver and spent a few
days visiting Cindy and Jack Bruner and Carol, Rick and Masha Hagerbaumer. I
think I killed my liver in just 2 evenings.
Next we visited friends Ted and Mona Thieman in Nebraska. We hadn’t seen
them in a few years. Mona was just recuperating from a mastectomy and chemo
treatments and she looks great. We enjoyed a tour of their new-to-them
Fleetwood Pace Arrow class A rig. They sent us off with local ground beef,
honey from their own bees and free range eggs.
We had another great winter. There
were just a few of us at Onac for the winter. Even the rigs that passed thru
were different .. more foreigners and quaint little rigs doing big travels.
We had infrequent bonfires, a few walks to La Tambora, weekly Happy Hours.
The fish guy came every week from Christmas til April, always with
tamborillo and shrimp. We had NO rain all winter but chilly winds came up
Heidi and her workmate Connie came for a week of quiet R&R. We had a good
week in Mazatlan w/ Mary, Carl, Susie, Ruth w/ visits w/ friend Babe
Scanlon. Babe’s friend got us a big suite again at El Cid for our meager
Malta timeshare exchange. Babe was quite sick and has left Mexico for parts
unknown. She can barely see and does not reply to email messages. We will
miss her and her El Cid upgrades.
I took 3 mini-trips to Mazatlan, staying at La Siesta hotel down in the old
part of town, near the market and Plazuela Machado. The first was with
Marilyn Hill and Susie Hunter. The second with Heidi, Connie and Mary
Anderson. The third with Pam Hall, Millie LaRocque and Liz Millar. La Siesta
is right on the ocean and the second floor balcony was such a treat. We all
had great shopping and eating adventures.
Linda Taylor got a group from Minnesota to travel to Teacapan for a vision
clinic for residents from all around. They gave the people those glasses you
deposit in the bins at the Mall. Really!!! The Boston Stretch groups came
for their annual dental checkups for the school children. I volunteered for
both projects and it was good.
We had another safe fun winter and can’t wait to come back. People will
return next winter, as we were so safe.
We rested for one day, then set out
to look for a newer RV. There were a couple of RV sales places in Tucson. We
started by looking at the rigs outside Camping World, then drove across the
road to Beaudry’s RV .. a nice big place we thought too $$$ for us. A few
hours later we had bought a 32’ Class A 2007 Fleetwood Fiesta with 10k miles
… the first rig we looked at. Wow … it was so easy!! And we worried all
winter the what, where, how much, what to do with the old rig, how/where to
do the transfer. After we got the money together and closed the deal, we
moved into the transition row at Beaudry RV Park, side by side with the old
and the new .. and we camped there for free until the new rig was ready to
move and the old rig empty and ready to turn the keys in. They even brought
a ladder so Larry could remove the satellite dish and solar panel.
We moved to Phoenix where we had a professional do the install of the
MotoSat dish. We visited with cousin Sue Halbrook Bartel one evening. Dave
is going to mechanics school for repairing classic cars … a dream of his.
Sue was on edge, as their daughter Jennifer was due to deliver their first
grandson any day … and her mom Doris was very near death .. all back in
We headed right to Washington and DDs house to get the rig wired and ready
for prime time. We spent a few days in Lake Havasu and enjoyed a few In and
Out burgers and some beers and the Kentucky Derby at the Barley Brothers
Brewery next to the London Bridge. It was exciting driving the rig across
the Hoover Dam, on our way to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. We
loaded up on cheap alcohol in California, then spent a few days at Memaloose
State Park in Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge. Too many trees and no
internet, but we survived. A few more days at one of our membership parks ..
just to make use of our annual fee .. Maple Grove RV Park, between Mt.
Ranier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt Adams. A beautiful rest stop before the work
began .. for Larry.
We met DD at the Black Diamond Bakery for lunch .. then followed her home
and met new grandpup Kailey Mae … a little sweetheart of a pup .. and Acro
and Hatter .. two foster dogs she’d taken on .. and who found homes while we
were there. Acro was for Acrobat and is an escape artist .. leaped out
of her cage and the border fence.
Larry spent the next weeks fixing, enhancing, building, wiring in the rig.
Each night he came in looking worse .. his left hip hurting. We wrote to our
Dr. and made an appointment to see her in July to see if he might get a hip
replacement before the cold set in.
Mary and Carl Tighe visited from Janeville. We visited Seattle and toured
the Needle and Pike Market, took a tour boat to see orcas around the San
Juan islands, and visited Victoria, BC for a day. It was a busy fun week. In
January I told them if they came, we’d just sit on the deck and enjoy the
scenery .. I was done driving. By the time they arrived, we’d been sitting
in the cold rain damp for a month .. and I was ready to get out of the
I flew to Milwaukee and brought Jaime and Emily back to DDs house for 2
weeks. Heidi came and brought them home. DD had 11 foster kittens and the
girls had the time of their lives, with all the cats and dogs. We went to
the beach for a few days and both girls rode horses twice. We did an orca
watch trip with them too. Fun times.
We stayed with DD until July 5, and caught up with friend Rita Benish and
her sister Mary who were in Butte, MT for a national folk festival. We had
time to visit Mt. Rushmore before Larry’s Dr. appointment.
Dr. Ryan was suggesting PT and such .. but when she saw the x-ray, there was
no doubt that she would refer Larry to the surgeon. We took the first
appointment available. He agreed with the x-ray verdict and surgery was set
for September 1. He assured us that hip surgery is the safest most reliable
surgery they can offer .. it can hardly be improved upon .. and the hip
should last 30-40 years. That should be enough!!
So we had time to take the girls to Manitowoc twice .. biking, Bay Beach,
breakfast out every day .. lots of chocolate chip pancakes and hot
chocolate. We helped Larry’s Mom get to Green Bay for a cornea transplant
and some follow-up visits. Along the way we accumulated some props for
Larry’s recovery .. elastic shoe laces, the sock aid, the long handled shoe
horn, some crutches and a walker.
We moved to a KOA in DeForest for a month of recuperation. We were nervous
about the operation .. and recuperating in the RV .. but it all went great.
The hospital stay was a wonderful experience, Larry really WAS ready to
leave in just over 48 hours after surgery, and the RV was a great place to
recuperate. And Larry was a perfect patient. John and Colette Kreuser, Rita
Benish and Jenni Marquess took good care of us.
After the KOA month .. with 2 weeks to go before the final surgeon visit ..
DD came for a week and we enjoyed time with the girls and Heidi, soccer
games, pizza with cousin Tom Schiesl and family, time with Grandma, dinner
with old friends Jim Chadek, Dick Malek, Jeanie Crowe Miller and Don, lots
of burgers .. and time to stock the freezer with those coveted Konop’s
We took DD to the airport and headed back to Madison. I stocked the rig with
wine, popcorn, bagels, sausage, cheese, maple syrup .. all the wonderful
foods we’ll want in Mexico. Mary Ellen (Loberger) and Spoerke made us a
super adios dinner.
Oct 12 the surgeon said all is well, see you in a year. We spent the night
in Janesville with Mary and Carl, then drove long days to Elephant Butte
Lake near Truth or Consequences, NM to meet up with friends Phil and Linda
from Savary Island BC. We both stayed a week … the view there is so
wonderful. Phil and I biked 10-12 miles most days .. and we biked into
Elephant Butte the final day for beers. Larry and Linda drove in and brought
us back home. Nice hills .. great views. Fun. We played lots of Apples to
Apples. Linda made us chicken enchiladas with roasted peppers they got in
We planned to use the 2 free nights certificate from Beaudry’s RV Park, plus
spend the $35 coupon at the parts store, that we got with the RV in spring.
I called and called and finally got the message that all of Beaudry’s .. RV
park, sales, service .. closed October 11 .. under reorganization. We’re
lucky that’s all they owe us!!
So we spent a week at Justins Diamond J RV park, final stocking up for
Mexico and sitting tight til the election results are in. We have a favorite
99 cent store and love Big Lots. Friends Tony / Lynne and Art / Marlene from
BC are traveling around the southwest, as they won’t be coming to Villas
Onac for the winter. They spent a night at Justins with us. More Apples to
Apples. Most of our new Canadian friends aren’t coming back .. the bad news
reports have them frightened .. plus the Canadian government warns citizens
to avoid the border towns .. to fly in if they must visit Mexico.
We are nervous about it too. But we are always nervous driving in Mexico. We
think it will be OK. Even Deirdre and Heidi think we maybe shouldn’t go. But
that ocean draws us .. and we think it is worth a risk. It will be a quiet
winter .. only a dozen or so rigs are coming for pretty sure. None of my
biking buddies are coming, so Larry will have to bike to town with me for
supplies. We both got new bikes, so the bigger wheels should be easier on
the sand road and the bumpy asphalt.
So the election happened .. could have been worse. Sad for Russ Feingold,
Joe Sestak, Tarryl Clark, Allen Grayson, Susan DelBene, and Justin Coussoule.
California voters are smart. Happy the Senate is still blue-ish. Sad for
Wisconsin. Happy Patty Murray is still our senator. Most of our $$
contributions helped .. Patty, Barbara Boxer, Anthony Weiner and others.
Next time …
So we crossed the border November 4, overnighted at Hermosillo, Navojoa and
Celestino Gasga. We are happily and peacefully settled in Clarence /
Darlene’s spot, just for this winter, and have a garden growing in Darlene’s
lovely garden plot.
We’ll spend a week in Mazatlan at El Cid in January using one of our Malta
timeshare weeks. Mary, Carl, cousin Susie, and Ruth will be at Pueblo Bonito
for 5 of those days. Heidi and her workmate Connie fly in and come back to
Villas Onac for a quiet week of R&R and drinking. Brian doesn’t want the
girls to miss school, so we’ll spend Spring Break with them, visiting Zion,
Bryce, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Deirdre’s coming too. More fun.
This year we followed the Mississippi River south for a few days.
After we stopped at Baumgartner’s
in Monroe for Larry’s fix of braunschweiger and limburger, we spent nights
viewing the river from
Shady Creek Campground near Muscatine, IA and
Canton MO City Park. The Canton site was at a lock and it was fun
watching the barges come and go.
After a few days the weather turned and we just pushed on thru Oklahoma. We
might have gone thru Norman OK to take Jon Sedlacek to dinner, but he works
many hours, so we left him alone and pushed on. A fun night was at
Tucumcari, NM, as we could look up
the words and hum .. “5 more miles to Tucumcari, never more will I roam blah
blah blah.” Remember that song?? Well .. WE were THERE. Ya.
And it turned warm and dry again there.
The touristy event was Albuquerque. We dined at the
Chama River Brewing Company,
enjoying the Green Chili and Ale Fondue and the Truffle Dusted Bleu Cheese
Fries with some great Stout. Lucky for us we didn’t order entrees ..
as we couldn’t finish these 2 starters. We took 2 growlers of their fine
beers home with us, finally using 2 of the 3 growlers we keep carrying
around. Another Trip Advisor recommendation.
On the way to the Brewery, the car died, started again, then limped along
threatening to die somewhere on the Interstate. We took the
Sandia Peak Tramway to
overlook the valley, take a short hike and enjoy lunch and beers at the
Restaurant. We got a great hot air balloon whirligig to fly off
the back of the rig. The car really limped on the way back to the rig,
so we didn’t visit the old town, which
Trip Advisor makes sound interesting. We also might have gone to
some Road Food places for green chili.
We were headed to a quiet remote campsite on Elephant
Butte Lake, but to get the car fixed we needed to spend some time in
Consequences. Lucky for us there was a spot open for us at
Riverbend Hot Springs.
Our price included full use of the hot pools. Cool. We enjoyed
the pools overlooking the Rio Grande, late at night and after a huge
rainstorm, something we never would have done if we had to drive to them
from some other campground. There is no mention of camping on their
website, but I had researched them last year when we stayed there and friend
Rita Benish said we must have a spa. Then they were a Passport America
campground, but they no longer are. The $45 site fee is very pricey
but an indulgence with the spas which go for ~$15 per person per day.
The car just needed new spark plugs, so we were good to go after $200, with
time for a few stops at a BBQ place Trip Advisor readers enjoy. A fine
example of home town America. Yowza!! We could retire there when
we need to get around with our walkers.
Then we spent 5 days overlooking Elephant Butte Lake, getting ready for
Mexico, taking inventory, making lists. Most days I biked 5 miles out
and back, collecting beer cans to clean the roadway and collect tabs for
friend Marilyn toward a wheel chair for some Canadian. I
couldn’t keep up with the cans. Those people don’t love their state.
Next to Arizona and a few days in Wilcox for a visit to
Chiricahua National Monument.
Friends Rob and Daph camped there and love it and Barb Brown plans to
volunteer there. It is a beautiful drive. We didn’t hike up, as
Rob and Daph did when they camped there. Luckily we didn’t try to camp
there .. way too many trees so no internets. Can’t have that. We
enjoyed BBQ at
Big Tex BBQ in an old train car and I got the girls some Christmas
clothes gifts. A couple of Wackenhut bus drivers came into Big Tex.
One told a guy they were driving illegals .. we thought to the border, but
Linda Taylor in Teacapan said we fly them to Mexico City for release, so
they must take them to the airport. We saw LOTS of Wackenhut buses.
Google them .. scary security company who didn’t do so well running Texas,
New Mexico and other prisons.
We did the final stock up in Tucson and crossed the border Nov 8 and arrived
Villas Onac Nov 11 after stops in Hermosillo and Celestino. I made
a super dinner of turkey breast, creamy potatoes and bulgur stuffed peppers
and we caught up with Marilyn and Lloyd’s adventures since we parted ways.
Clarence and Darlene arrived the next day … and the winter was on.
We were fully stocked up and I didn’t want to leave the compound for weeks.
Then Marilyn got invited to a performance at the
Peralta Theater in Mazatlan. Lloyd wasn’t interested and was
willing to stay home with pooch Tessa, so she invited moi. Moi???
I said yes but we’d have to stay 2 nights and shop and party. It was
We stayed at the Hotel de Cima
across from the Malecon and joined John and Pat, who organized the event,
Phyllis and Ray, and Sandra and Roberto, all Teacapan winter residents.
After drinks poolside, we took an arriga to the
Plazuela Machado and had a
great dinner at
Il Mosto before the performance. Il Mosto is my favorite
restaurant in all of Mexico so far. Their Greek salad is good and El
Burro is a to-die-for garlicky tenderloin. The theater is wonderful and the
folkloric event colorful. Thanks John and Pat.
Marilyn and I had 2 days of shopping and we visited Stone Island to see if
the new white hotel would be ready for Spring Break when Heidi and the girls
are coming. That would be NO. We sat in the hotel café and ate
breakfast watching the Revolution Day parade of school youth of all ages,
celebrating the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
Saturday we got veg and liquor at Mega and Walmart and Bodega Aurrera and
started home. I felt the engine cut out and was able to pull off the
road. Long story short .. timing belt broke AGAIN. A wonderful
couple saved us from the ‘marijuana guys’ who tried to help us, and took us
to the mechanico Good Sam Roadside Assistance took the car to. Yes ..
Good Sam took care of us .. in MEXICO!! Luckily I signed up for the
Mexico plan on our Verizon cell phone.
Melquiades and Isabella dealt with the mechanico, loaded what we could into
their little car, got us settled in a hotel, came back 3 hours later and
took us back to the mechanic to learn when the car might be ready and the
cost, and gave us strict instructions to have esposo along to pick up the
car and to NOT pay over $1300 pesos. They needed to be in Culiacan, or
they’d be with us. They would take no money, booze, dinner for our
I phoned DD to email Larry to let him know the bad news. Lloyd and
Larry arrived early Sunday morning. Lloyd and Marilyn returned to Onac
and she stored all my wilting vegetables. Larry and I returned to
Hotel de Cima and played tourist for 3 days. I got hold of friend Babe
Scanlon just in time for her to come with us to pick up the car. All
of our translation needs were handled. We had a nice dinner with Babe
and returned to Teacapan the next day. The car runs a little rough,
but hope it survives til we get back to the old country.
By now Clarence was set up and he and Les were biking to Teacapan mornings
.. 15 miles return with the first 1.3 miles a sand road. I joined them
and biked all winter, varying from just Clarence and me to 9 riders. I
would buy fresh veg and fruit, eggs, bread, yogurt and not have to drive to
Escuinapa for groceries, to supplement all the provisions we packed into
Mexico. It was great, but I need a different bike next winter.
My little Bike Friday just doesn’t work in the sand. We also sampled
at the Chili/Chowder Cook Off, walked 4+ miles to La Tambora for lunch and
beers a few times, riding back in trucks, and walked again to the Sandcastle
event. Larry even did it the last time, some new herbals Shawn gave
him helping his hip that much.
We had fun Christmas Eve and Day gatherings, great food, and then I got a
cold that led to a sinus infection and I was down for 2 weeks. Finally
went to the Dr. and got great meds. Got 2 doses so Larry could recover
We spent a week in Mazatlan late January at the
El Cid, using a timeshare
week from that Malta buying mistake we made. Mary and Carl Tighe and
Susie Kelley were at the
Pueblo Bonito, so we basked poolside there most of the time. Babe
Scanlon has a friend working at the El Cid, and she got her to upgrade us to
a huge Jr suite on the 27th floor. We had a 2-bed and bath bedroom
plus the big kitchen, bath, bed/couch .. with balconies looking south over
the ocean, Valentino’s, the Malecon and beyond. We all spent 2
evenings at our place playing
Apples to Apples.
Lots of wine, shrimp cocktail, etc.
The night after we returned to Onac, we had the most howling thunder
rainstorm all night long!!! Wind, rain, lightning .. it was awesome.
Liz and Ken lost their awning. Raphael lost bushes around the pool.
Shawn and I left that morning for a 2-week Girl Trip south and inland to
along we heard tales of the Feb. 2 storm. Windows broke, rain poured
into doors, mudslides. We considered visiting the reserves east of
Moralia to see all the Monarch butterflies, but the reserves were closed
and the military was helping out the villages from mudslides where at least
15 people died.
We spent a few nights in Los Ayala to visit
Rincon de Guayabitos.
Peter and Mona and their daughters Joy and Lea and Lane and Marie were there
and we had Happy Hours and dinners together. I had a pedicure next to
a guy from Wisconsin and later he introduced his chiropractor father to
Shawn. We stayed an extra day so Dr. Kari could work miracles on
Shawn’s pain wracked body.
We enjoyed pancakes at
in Sayulita, then thru Puerto Vallarta and arrived at Boca Beach just as
Carol was leaving with friends for the transvestite show in Melaque. We’ll
meet you there, we say. Miles yet to Melaque .. how could they make a 5:00
show? Maybe it’s in Manzanilla?? We get to Melaque and the
Tul RV Park and Hotel just as Roy and Judy were driving to dinner.
Wow .. our timing?? They will try to meet us at
Siboney after dinner.
Del Tule bungalows were full, but we were lucky to get a 3 bedroom, 7 bed, 2
bath dump at La Frigata across the street for 350 pesos (about $30).
We moved in, freshened up, got a quick bite and a beer at Ava’s … and got to
Siboney in time for the 7pm show. Carol and friends were still there
enjoying the 5pm show. The 7pm show started at 9:30. By then Roy
and Judy joined us. The music was deafening, the show seemed stupid ..
but then got pretty good. The only charge was 25p for beers, $2+.
Be sure and see the pics. A bar maid came over about every 20 seconds,
shaking our beers, anxious to pop open the next one for us. I wanted
to slap her. I clung to mine and never allowed her to touch mine.
Sunday Roy and Judy picked us up and we met Carol and Ian at
breakfast. Then they took us to Barra de Navidad for the afternoon and
dinner at Concha Del Mar. Monday was Shawn’s birthday and Roy and Judy
were there with a peanut brittle gift for her. Awwwwwwwwwwww.
Marilyn said we’d enjoy
near Colima, but there were no signs and we missed it. The lure was
free botas / tapas with beer purchases on the square, and 11am would have
really been too early for that. So we pushed on all day and got to
Patzcuaro in the dark around 7pm. I said .. how busy can the squares
be on a Monday night? The answer is .. BUSY. We couldn’t find a
parking spot and traffic was heavy. Shawn started to panic. We were
just about to turn back and opt for the Best Western near the RV park, when
we took a quick left to Plaza Grande, found a parking spot in front of
Hotel Mision San Manuel. We booked in and loved the place.
It is an old monastery with huge high doors and ceilings. We froze,
but loved the place.
We trotted all around Patzcuaro, drove to
Santa Clara del Cobre, the copper town, then around
Patzcuaro. A big festival was set up down the main drag of
Tzintzuntzan and it took us forever to find a way out. We found the
place where Sue and Stu bought a great cast aluminum patio set and Shawn had
to decide if she could buy one .. 4 fancy captains chairs and table for
~$300. Eventually she had to decide no, as the weight would be bad for
the van. We shopped and walked and tried to adjust to the elevation
rise. We made the boat trip to
Isle Janitzio and it was
great. The aim is to climb 250 steps to the monument of Jose Morelos,
a Mexican independence hero. You climb another 150 steps up to Morelos’
wrist and the view from the lookout is great, though very tiny and crowded.
As you climb toward the monument, the Tarascan Indians, the Purepecha, sell
stuff. It’s great. I got the girls Barbie bunk beds for $3.50
each and little Princess treasure chests for $2. Shawn bought her
grand-niece a cute wool poncho. Sadly we did not see
Los Viejos .. the Old Men .. perform anywhere.
We left for
Tonala to catch the Sunday market everyone talks about. We had
high hopes of buying for very cheap everything we’d seen in any shop
anywhere. Didn’t happen. Stuff wasn’t cheap and all that stuff
wasn’t for sale there. We went to Tlaquepaque to see the wonderful
shops and have a great Italian dinner. It was imperative to wander
around Guadalajara for several hours and we did see one mural by
Jose Clemente Orozco
that is a must there.
Shawn wanted stone dinnerware .. a mission that took us all over Tonala back
and forth and back again. We got a name and an address from a
restaurant that had dishes she liked. We found that the house number
didn’t exist and no one on the street knew the name and only wanted to send
us toward this non-existent address. Comedy of errors .. en espanol.
We did stumble on a place and she got a set for a great price that she is
happy with. It was fun to have some specific stuff to shop for, as I
surely wasn’t interested in anything .. after the Barbie beds and a Barbie
table and chair that is, and a few headbands and such.
Shawn wanted another appointment with Dr. Kari, so a stop at
another body tune-up, and we returned to Onac. It was a great trip and
it was good to be back at the ocean. People were surprised that two
wimmen could survive such a trip alone, without a big strong man to protect
It was a great winter. The park was twice as busy as last year, but
there were only 15 rigs there much of the time last year. We let all
the folks around us use our internets .. and they are very grateful.
We got so many gifts from them this year: wine, tequila, Brandy Alexander,
much beer, brownies, Tim Horton coffee, hot chocolate, gift certificate,
smoked salmon, a Whitehorse Brewery cap, chocolates, banana cream pie, a
handmade painted Mexican key holder, knit dish cloths and a Star Choice
receiver for Canadian TV. Wow, right??
One couple, first trip to Mexico, got robbed on a bird watch stop.
They aren’t coming back. 7 cops were killed in Mazatlan, an Escuinapa
judge was killed in Mazatlan, Charlie and Pauline were in Mazatlan when some
guys tied up the security guard and tried to rob a rig from Calgary.
The guy jumped the robbers and got shot in the leg. Charlie and
Pauline aren’t coming back next year. Some rigs traveled thru Mazatlan
10 minutes after a car lot got blown up. The next morning they were at
a Celestino RV park when 9 people were executed on the toll road outside of
town. Some of them won’t be back. Others haven’t decided.
3 couples were hijacked and left in the ditch without truck and 5th wheel
south of Reynosa / Brownsville area. We’ll be there. Teacapan
friend Edgar says it’s only bad people being killed. We’ll be good.
Heidi, Jaime and Emily came to Mazatlan for Spring Break Easter Week.
They spent 2 nights at Pueblo Bonito and enjoyed the pools. We were at
San Bartolo RV Park a block away. Easter Sunday we all moved to a home
on Emerald Bay, past Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay. It was great fun.
We played lots of Sorry and Rummikub and the girls rode Ginger’s Bilingual
horses. Those girls are so smart. They LOVED the Barbie bunk
beds AND their own real bunk beds in their own bedroom in the house.
We have them yet to lure them to Washington in June. My back was out
all week but Babe got me some wonder drugs that cured me in 2 pills.
We got some for Larry and these Happy Pills are helping his hip too.
We didn’t get enough for all summer though, because we didn’t know if they
would help him.
A rest at Celestino and we were back to the US in a few days intact.
Phewwww … We’re headed to Washington to visit DD, looking for a Class
A RV on the way. How will that go?
Larry will have a lot of wiring to move to the new rig for TV and internets.
I fly to Milwaukee June 12 to see the girls play soccer, then take them back
to Washington for 2 weeks. Heidi will come get them for Larry’s
birthday. We all can’t wait to meet DDs new dog Kailey.
We hope to spend some time on Vancouver and Savary Islands again to visit
our winter friends. Later more friends around Vancouver and points farther
east in British Columbia and on to Wisconsin and back to Teacapan.
(Spoiler alert: we bought a Class A 2007 Fleetwood Fiesta 10k miles in
Tucson, first rig we looked at. Stay tuned.)
top of page
We spent our first day wandering around
... a beautiful European style walled city. We crossed the river as
passengers on the car ferry and rode the
Funicular up from
Lots of beautiful old stone buildings, lots of walking, a simple lunch with
a pitcher of beer and a nice tip cost 60$. We wouldn’t be doing much
of that. We had a lot of rainy windy days spent inside the RV .. and
rode the bike paths the few days it cleared. We were on the edge of
the satellite footprint and had spotty internet reception. We had NONE
ever after 5pm and none the many rainy days. We were like addicts when
we would see the blue lights on the modem all light up, never knowing how
long it would last. Luckily we had good DirecTV reception and Larry
set up his dish for Free To Air channels. It’s still better than biking
and sitting out the rain in a tent.
I asked our second RV park guy where the
would be for the Quebec
holiday for St. Jean the Baptist. He said Quebec City Tuesday night
and all day Wednesday. So we took the ferry over about 5pm
Tuesday and wandered and roamed, thinking we’d see buskers and street
musicians and food stalls and such. Nope ... just young folks
wandering, resting, drinking beers and toting many more. Later we went
back down to Old Quebec and had dinner and beers at
Spag-tini, a pleasant
patio restaurant you pass to get from the Funicular to the ferry.
Every half hour a horde of folks, mostly young with beers in hand and 24
more in a cooler trooped noisily by. Not so many folks going back on
the ferry … lots of empty cans on the ferry and the other side. We had
a beer at the St. Louis Pub on the Levis side and were the only patrons for
awhile. By now the line for the ferry wound down 2 flights of steps, out the
building to the street and curved along the street. We asked the
barkeep what the Fete was .. what was the attraction. We’d seen a
bandstand set up in a terrace area beyond the wall on St. Jean Street.
He said that was it … the music, drinking yourself sick, returning on the
ferry hours later drunk and sick. What a celebration!! We didn’t
go back for the Fete day.
It rained and howled wind most of the time we were there. We got in a
few bike rides on the bike path, but most of the stay was forgettable.
We did make it to
Montmorency Falls and the
St.Anne de Beaupry shrine.
My Mom asked me .. the two or three times we said we were going to Canada
back in the ‘90s .. if we were going to visit the shrine. Where’s this
shrine, I’d ask. I don’t know .. she’d reply .. are you going there?
No, I guess not this time. Had to do it this time .. as it was just
over there .. 20 miles or so from the Falls.
Eventually we continued on toward Montreal and had a brief visit with Josee
and Daniel, who we met on South Padre Island 3 years ago. Then on
into Ontario and a few days in Napanee with Rob and Daph Breeze, who we met
in Mexico a year ago and visited in Palacios, TX in March. A highlight
was a Buskers Festival in Kingston. Rob and Daph are trying to sell their
home and be fulltime RVers .. but sales are slow .. so they waiver back and
forth daily, hourly about should they or shouldn’t they?
We were sooo close .. so we took a day for our first visit to
and we loved it. You always hear that it’s better from the Canada side
.. and it’s so true. Rob and Daph said to visit
Niagara On the Lake as
well .. and we loved the cute little town and enjoyed lunch at a little
Irish Tea room. We could see spending a month or more there sometime .. and
I’m dreaming of taking the grandgirls there in the RV via the carferry from
Manitowoc to Ludington in some summer soon.
Back into the US .. and a week traveling from Port Huron, MI to the
Bridge and over it. One lane was blocked so traffic speed was slow ..
and the day was calm … so the trip across the bridge was pleasant. We
headed to Houghton and spent a few days at the Hancock Municipal Campground
and visited with Larry and Jane Gremaux and their 3 sons. We met Larry
and Jane on that same Cycle America bike trip back in ’94. They met each
other there too .. and got married 2 years later. We never got to
Indiana to visit them … so we made sure to see them in their new digs now
that they’ve moved to Houghton.
Next to Eagle River to see brother-in-law Donny Schiesl and Mary .. and to
celebrate the big 50 with niece Chris. Can you believe it?? We
had lunch with niece Jody and Matt in Crandon on our way south, then a few
days in Cecil and dinners with Jo Bertler Teaford. She is doing pretty
well as a new widow. Wahhhhhhhhhhh ….
Manitowoc .. and DD came for a few days. She and Heidi surprised us with a
40th Anniversary party at the Pizza Garden. The logistics were
amazing. They think us dolts to have fallen for the ruse.
My 45th class reunion .. the class of ’64 from Manitowoc Lincoln High .. was
fun but crowded. We had a nice group for dinner at the
Lighthouse Inn on
Friday night and more at the pre-party outside the
Inn on Maritime Bay
overlooking Lake Michigan and the Manitowoc River. We spent the next
week in Door County and enjoyed the best weather ever. Mary and Carl
and Sarah and Joe were in Ephraim Sunday til Tuesday and we ate and drank
our way around the county. We had the Aunt Peg and Cousins reunion at
Basil’s II on our way back south.
We had the girls 3 times .. at their house while DD was in town, again in
Two Rivers for Jaime’s 7th birthday, and in Madison for Labor Day weekend.
We had a fun day at Bay Beach amusement park in Green Bay, biked 11.3 miles
to lunch at Beernstens in Manitowoc, and a great day in Madison biking the
bike path, touring the Farmer’s Market, climbing around in the Capitol, and
ice cream at the Union on the Terrace. Fun. The girls are so
cute and maturing and fun and easier to travel with.
We rented a storage unit for a month to empty the bunk beds for them.
They loved sleeping and playing in the bunks again. We told them we
might have a different RV next year .. with a couch for their bed.
They said NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO … unless it has bunks .. which it won’t of course.
We had lots of beer gatherings in Madison, at the
Capital Brewery, the
House Asylum, and the Terrace of the Student Union .. and good turnouts at
all .. plus our
Lulu’s get-together. We appreciate our friends coming
to see us .. and they have a good time catching up with each other.
The weather was great the whole time we were in Wisconsin.
We spent our last days stocking up in Madison, then 2 fun days with Mary and
Carl in Janesville. We can all recommend a fun game ‘Apples To
Apples’. Carl really HATES organized games, but he enjoyed this one.
op of page
finally got out of Texas. Earlier we were headed to Eunice, LA
for the Crawfish Festival .. but that passed us by on the first breakdown. Nothing much was going on in Eunice and Easter was coming, so we pushed on
to Mexico Beach, FL for the holiday. We used our
membership to chart our course and save $$$. How fun it was to
discover the home of PA in Long Beach, MS. We stayed at Magic River,
the first Passport America campground. Now it and a campground in
Florida someplace are the headquarters of PA. This campground in
Mississippi and another in Holt, FL were so lovely we could have spent
longer in both places.
Our Mexico Beach campground was pretty full and we were lucky to find a spot
where we could find the satellite. We think it is funny that the
campsites we used to love and covet .. the shady ones with lots of trees ..
we now distain. Now we look for clear sites open to the SW so we can get the internet and
DirecTV. We enjoyed the beach and had a great sunny weekend. We
love the ocean.
Continuing on toward Canton, OH and Patrick Tighe’s wedding, we spent some
time in Myrtle Beach, SC and later on the Outer Banks at Hatteras, NC.
No …we didn’t start that fire in Myrtle Beach. It was all fine when we
left. We could have used more time in Hatteras too. Great beaches and
lots of wind surfers. We visited
Kitty Hawk and the spot where the
Wright Brothers made their flights. It was pretty darned cold and
windy the day we were there in April, so we could only imagine how awful it
must have been that cold windy December day in 1900 when they made those
historic 6 flights .. them and all equipment and support staff trucked over
from Ohio for the event.
It was a lot of retracing miles to get back off the Outer Banks. Along
the way, Larry kept saying that Mayberry must be around here someplace.
He remembers that Andy, Barnie, Opie and Aunt Bee used to go to Raleigh to
shop and they’d go to Mount Pilot to see folks. And here we were ..
Raleigh was over there and Pilot Mountain was coming up. So imagine
our delight when we checked our Road Food book for North Carolina and found
an entry for Snappy Lunch in Mount Airy … home of the pork chop sandwich …
and hometown of Andy Griffith and inspiration for TV’s Mayberry. We
HAD to go. The sandwich was totally missable but the town was cute.
Everyone knew about Snappys and there were always people waiting for a free
booth or counter seat. Road Food recommends you order the big fried
breaded pork chop sandwich ‘all the way, which means dressed with tomato,
chopped onion, mustard, meaty-sweet chili, and fine-cut cabbage slaw
speckled with green peppers and onions.’ As the book says, the
sandwich is served in wax paper and requires two hands to hoist and eat.
No side dishes are available other than a bag of potato chips. Iced
pre-sweetened tea is the beverage of choice. We followed their
recommendation. Y um ….
A few days later we found our way to Cutty’s Sunset RV in Louisville, OH.
Our books didn’t help us find a place close to Canton but a neighbor back
there in Mexico Beach was from Canton and told us about Cutty’s and about a
mobile home park in North Canton. Larry determined from Google earth
that at Cutty’s we would have a better chance for the satellite, even though
it was farther from the wedding activities.
We got acquainted with North Canton and found the church and the
Inn where we would stay and where the reception would be held. We’d been
ordering stuff on the internet and sent it to Sarah and Joe Piller’s house
in Bedford, Ohio .. so one day we drove up to pick it up and see their
darling Bedford home and meet their young grandson Braden.
Swine flu was spreading and we all had fears for the wedding. First
cases were reported in Ohio. Pat and Lindsie were booked to go to
Mazatlan for their honeymoon … so plans were changed to Disneyworld.
Weather looked threatening for the weekend. Bleak times. But the
flu held off, weather improved, and the wedding went on and was perfect.
These people thought of EVERYTHING.
The wedding reception was held at the Fieldcrest Inn, a former Hoover estate
.. the vacuum cleaner Hoovers. The reception was in the Lodge, with a
huge fairy tale tent erected in the adjacent clearing and set up to seat 500
people at tables of 10. The Inn is a B&B with 8 rooms. I wrote
to Mary months earlier and asked to be booked into the ‘fun’ hotel. We
were lucky to get one of the 8 rooms, so we were right there with Mary and
Carl and John and all the Kellys and friends. Lindsie had welcome bags
in our rooms full of snacks and pudding and bottled water. Snacks and
liquor were waiting in our communal kitchen. Carl and Mary provided
for an Hors D'oeuvres party Friday night.
The church wedding was beautiful. They had 8 sets of attendant plus 4 of Lindie’s little boy cousins as ring bearers. The girls had
cute strapless gowns in pastel colors. Mary had a beautiful seafoam
long chiffony dress with hand beading. She looked fabulous.
Photographers and videographers captured the event to the end of the night.
Later we gathered at the Lodge for the reception. There were several
drinks stations, cookies provided by friends and relatives in Lindsie’s
Italian tradition, a video of Patrick and Lindsie’s early years, an ice
sculpture with huge shrimp, and a huge ice sculpture where later peach
schnapps would be poured to flow through a long funnel tube and come out
chilled to the waiting glass. Wow!! Tulle and flowers were
strung through the chandeliers, flowers everywhere in colors to match the
girl’s gowns. The women’s restroom had baskets of flipflops in all
colors and sizes to encourage us to shed our heels and get comfortable and
able to walk on the grass to the tent for dinner. The women’t restroom
also had a basket of any need you might have .. bandaids, emery boards, spot
remover, feminine supplies, pins, etc.
Soon we were summoned to the tent for dinner. More flowers, red and
white wines at all tables, more drinks stations, and a bag hanging from each
chair to collect items we would find throughout the evening. A
beautiful cake with separated tiers topped with a hard shell top in the
pastel colors and topped by Lindsie and Patrick bobble-heads. The
large tables were covered in cloths with napkins in the pastel colors.
Japanese lantern lights were strung .. thel colors again. It was a
fairytale setting. The efficient crew got us all through the buffet
line in 40 minutes. Awesome prime rib. Later a man from Atlanta hand
rolled Cuban cigars for the willing. An awesome 9 piece show band had
everyone dancing all evening. It was quite a day.
Many in the Inn left early to head back to Wisconsin and some back to work.
We and Sarah and Joe stayed for the Sunday Brunch in the Lodge and later
helped load up the wedding presents. Patrick received a PhD in
Physical Therapy from Walsh University the week before the wedding. Lindsie got a job in
Nashville, so they will move there and Patrick will take the state boards
and find a job. They’ll need a big house for all the beautiful wedding
gifts and those from the several wedding showers they had.
We hugged Mary and Carl and Sarah and Joe farewell and headed back to the RV
and packed up. We made it to a Walmart in Buffalo, NY that night and
just past Rochester the next day. We met Abigail Sedlacek, Diane
Gerl’s daughter, for dinner in Rochester the next night. She is
working on her PhD in microbiology. We met in a beautiful area of
Rochester and a great Mediterranean dinner at
Alexandria’s. It was
good to hook up with Abi again. We’ll lose track of those kids now as
they wander away from Manitowoc. Jon graduated from Madison this year
and moved to Oklahoma to work toward his PhD in physics. Leah has
another year toward a teaching degree from Stevens Point. All 3
graduate a year early, in part thanks to many Advanced Placement and college
credits from high school, plus hard work.
A few days later we met up with John and Pat Barry in Hopewell Junction, NY
and had dinner at the Hyde Park Brewing Company near Poughkeepsie,
after a drive thru the Vassar campus. We met John back in 1994 when we
bicycled across Washington State with Cycle America. He has pretty
much retired his bike and now devotes his escapes to kayaking 12 miles in 2
hours on the Hudson River. We last saw him at our retirement party in
Madison in 2002. It was good to catch up and see their home.
Their 2 boys have fancy degrees in music and engineering. Michael is
getting married this fall. Luckily John mentioned that only cars are
allowed on the Tatonic Parkway or we might have followed Mapquest’s
directions that put us on it. New York sure is a beautiful state ..
the trees must be awesome in fall. It was a nightmare for us wanting a shot
to our satellite.
From NY thru CT and RI to Cape Cod. It was a lot of internet research
to figure out this bit. I got it in my craw to bring Emily to Cape Cod
for 2 weeks. She turned 4 with us and is registered for K-4 in fall,
so this is the second and last time we can take her away while Jaime is
still in school. We have timeshare weeks to use, so I booked a condo
on Cape Cod and booked flights for Em and me. I was able to use NW
Perks miles and fly from Boston Logan to Milwaukee and back in one day.
Now .. where to park the RV. There were state parks closer to Boston
and a ferry to the airport .. but not to get me there for a 7am flight.
Memorial Day was there in our plan dates and campgrounds I could see online
had no openings Memorial Day weekend.
I was able to find a Passport America campground not far from the condo that
would keep us for the holiday rate of $58 for the weekend and for PA rate of
$17 per day the other many days. The park has hundreds of sites, so we
were sure we could find an open site, getting there so early in May.
Wrong!!! Most of the sites have permanent dwellings on them, and we
had only a handful of open sites to choose from. Larry can figure
pretty closely, using his compass and some math, whether a site will work
for us. They assigned and we selected the only one that might work ..
and only if we parked right up near the road.
Two days later Larry dropped me at a bus stop up the road to catch a 3:20am
bus. Two hours to Logan Airport, flight to Milwaukee direct, hook up
with little Em, back through Detroit to Logan, found the bus stop and bus, 2
hours back to Barnstable and Peach … as the girls call Grandpa Larry since
last year when Jaime decided he smells like peaches.
It was so fun to have Em ..and she was so good. She loves playing
airplane and bus, driving the RV and instructing us to buckle up .. and
taking food and drinks orders. She does it all on the plane/bus ..
pilot/driver, flight attendant. I ordered a Wee Co-Pilot and shipped
it to Sarah and Joe’s in Ohio. It’s one of those bike attachments for
bikes for kids where they have a wheel, seat, handle bars, pedals. She
loved it. We biked 11 miles along the Cape Cod Canal and 13 on a bike trail
and lots around the campground. We had a great whale watch tour from
Provincetown (P-Town to those in the know) where there were heaps of
humpbacks all around the boat.
We didn’t locate that
Nantucket Secret Spice that Kathy Burke introduced us
to in Texas, even at the Atlantic Spice Compay. It really IS a secret.
So we took our bikes and ferried to Nantucket one day. I finally found
a store keeper who knew about it. She called the very lady who makes
the stuff and learned that this year’s batch isn’t ready yet. We’ll
have to get it on the internet after all. Nantucket is cute, but it was
pretty cold and we spent a long time just sitting on a park bench cuddling
sleeping Em, trying to keep her warm.
We ate a lot of pizza on Cape Cod and every pizza was delicious. Emily
loves sausage pizza and the sausage there was Portuguese sausage. It
looked like slices of a cooked sausage and she loved it. We also went
to the Keltic Kitchen three times. Larry went for a full Irish fry, I
loved the sweet potato cranberry candied walnut pancakes and Em loved the
chocolate chip pancakes. Yummmm .. Great pancake leftovers.
Em would tear up periodically, missing Jaime. She didn’t mention
missing Mom or Dad much, just Jaime. We didn’t find many friends for
her to play with in the 2 weeks with us, and she missed playing with Jaime.
I warned her that Jaime would be in school when she got home … that it would
be hours before she would be home, as our plane landed at 8:30am.
Heidi says they were fighting 10 minutes after Jaime got home .. and Em got
a bloody nose from a swing incident within 20 minutes. Bet Em wished
she was back with Nanna and Peach then!!
We continued north and spent rainy days in
Old Orchard Beach, ME and a
beautiful week in Bar Harbor. We biked in
Acadia National Park and
enjoyed awesome popovers and lobster stew overlooking Jordan Pond at the
Jordan House Restaurant. Tripadvisor readers recommended lobster
crepes at Maggies in Bar Harbor. It took a couple trips to locate
Maggies. When we finally parked and walked to it … it wasn’t open ..
for the season or ever again maybe. Darn.
One Friday the car died on me and our Good Sam Emergency membership had just
expired, but I found a tow and a guy who fixed it by noon the next day.
We were nervous, as we planned to cross the border Monday and had
reservations in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We biked back roads to
pick it up and got there just as it was ready. Another $650 save.
It was just a belt that broke, but it was buried under lots of things they
had to remove to replace it.
A few days in St. Andrews by the Sea and Larry’s first Tim Horton indulgence
of the trip. Of course we biked to Tim’s .. so it was OK..??
Then a few more stops toward Quebec City. We stayed for 3 weeks in
Levis, Quebec, across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City. We
by-passed the Maritimes this trip, worried about time and campground site
availability in the Quebec area, needlessly as it turned out … but who knew?
top of page
"We spent a few days at Camp Verde before we moved to
Horse Ranch State Park outside Cottonwood AZ. We visited
Montezuma’s Well, both from 1400AD, and did a reconnaissance of
enjoying lunch at the
Airport Restaurant and figuring out some of the red
rock formations, Snoopy and the Coffee Pot.
When Phil and Linda arrived, we visited
Tuzigoot, also from 1125 to 1400AD,
the historic copper mining city of
Jerome .. ‘America’s Most Vertical City’,
and Sedona with lunch at
Oaxaca Mexican Restaurant. We went in search of
feeling the ‘vortex’, but none of
us seemed to be open to that experience. We
parted ways to meet up again in a few weeks as Linda flew back to Calgary
for a quick visit with her little grandsons.
We spent a few days stocking up in Tucson and headed to Nogales and across
the border into Sonora mid-November. Phil and Linda caught up with us again
Celestino, north of Mazatlan. They introduced us to Vampiros in La Cruz
.. wonderful grilled marinated pork and beef, shredded and served on a
grilled tortilla, with lots of veg toppings. We caravanned to
Sinaloa, passing over the Rosario bridge within hours or days of 7 drug
peeps killing each other under the bridge .. and reportedly the chief of
police of Rosario stepping out from behind the bushes with a mistress in
We visited Phil and Linda at Teacapan last year for an afternoon, so we were
Villas Onac. We wondered as we approached if we might be able
to get a beachfront site. YES!! Phil and Linda stayed a week and we loved
the quiet so much, we decided to stay there for the winter. At the time, I
was working on flights for Heidi and the girls to visit us in January.
Should they fly to Puerto Vallarta and where would we stay and where would
the RV be? Or maybe Mazatlan and we could be on Stone Island and ride horses
again .. or maybe stay right here at Onac and rent a villa?? We went with
Mazatlan flights and rented a villa.
We had a wonderful 3 months in our beachfront site. It was a quiet winter
and often there were only 15 sites filled. Villas Onac is owned and run by a
quiet Mexican family, the Canos, who speak little Engish. There are NO
planned activities, just our kind of place. The empty beach runs for more
miles in both directions than I could walk or bike. Dolphins are spotted
most days and we can see the ocean from the rig and patio. Raphael cleans
the beautiful pool each morning. The nearest restaurant is 5 miles away.
Sometimes sea turtles return to the beach where they were born .. and lay
their own eggs. People tried to mark off areas where there was evidence of
turtle activity, but sometimes there would be ping pong looking turtle eggs
disturbed and scattered by high tides. Even two Blue Footed Booby birds
spent time on our beach.
Larry had lots of time to work with his kites and make a few new ones. He
was quite a hit .. a man with a sewing machine!!! .. and his ever changing
whirligigs twirling off the rear of the RV. He got lots of advice and praise
and Clarence brought him nice swivels from the hardware store in Teacapan.
Most RVers / campers who travel to Mexico use a campground guide book
written by Michael and Terri Church. Mike and Terri keep traveling full time
updating their books for all of Mexico and the Baja, Southwest US, Pacific
Northwest, Alaska and Europe. Their books are bibles to us travelers. One of
our Teacapan neighbors said they came into Mexico WITHOUT the bible but Mike
and Terri were pointed out to them camping at Las Glorias, and got a
personal copy from them. They said to watch for them in their truck camper
on a red truck .. the same as pictured on the Mexico book. One day they
arrived and I arranged a big Happy Hour and everyone came. It was great. And
Mike and Terri signed our book. We had celebrities in our midst. Most of the
other campers had already met Mike and Terri along their travels. We are
Marilyn Hill organized a fun Christmas Eve Happy Hour and Christmas Dinner
Potluck. Laura Hebert organized a Valentine’s Happy Hour and a farewell
potluck. There is an active
Friends of Teacapan organization that invited us
to a guitar concert and dinner, a pig roast, a sand sculpture contest and
lunch and more.
After the Valentine’s Day Happy Hour, we all gathered around a campfire and
we brought out some of our stash of
Konop’s Campfire Wieners and tortillas
for a weenie roast. Everyone .. especially the Canadians .. maybe they were
ALL Canadians besides us .. thought they were the BEST wieners they EVER
had. Millie even ate one and she hasn’t eaten meat for 15 years!!! We can’t
wait to report the news to Konops in Stangelville, Wisconsin.
We met Heidi, Jaime and Emily at the Mazatlan airport and were so happy to
see our little girls. We had ice cream, then headed to the car for the long
ride south. We stopped at a hotel in Rosario for dinner and the girls
enjoyed the fun swing set and colorful merry-go-round. They loved the villa
and playing with the remote control cars Grandpa brought over and charged up
.. the ones DD brought to Mazatlan for us all last winter.
I thought I arranged .. in my best Spanglish .. for a guy with a horse to
show up the day after the girls arrived, but no show. We drove to Palmito
del Verde to Restaurante Campestre where the sign advertises horse rides. I
asked in December how much rides are .. free .. and available Sundays. Well,
this day I think the lady said the guy who does it wasn’t there. She took us
around and showed us the horses and a pig and kept speaking Spanish at us
even though I told her ‘no hablo espanol’. We would had stayed for lunch if
the rides were available, but we had to feed the hundreds of Tortugas
/turtles stale tortillas in the pond, then head to El Pelicano Restaurant
where the waiter said horses would be between 3 and 4 on Sunday. Just as we
drove up, sure enough, 2 horses and riders came along. Both girls rode
horses and the guys led them up and down the beach. Both girls were happy
and enjoyed dinner there beachside as the sun set. We thought we arranged
for them to come to Onac Monday at 5 for another ride, but again no show.
Gilles told us Monday that a dead whale beached up on shore, down a ways. We
girls all hiked down and loved seeing a big old dead whale. It was a 2-mile
trek and we did it most days to watch the decay. Heidi did some internet
research and determined that it was a humpback. After they left, I went down
one more time and the skeleton lay separate from the body. Some ATVs were
going up and down as I walked further. When I went back, the skeleton was
gone. One of the ATVs carried it off as a souvenir.
We had fun playing in the sun and the pool and Jaime tried boogie boarding
the last day and loved it. We made it to Stone Island for a quick horse ride
before we had to take them back to the airport and say adios. Even Emily ..
age 3.5 rode a big horse all alone. Scary .. but fun. They can’t ride alone
in Wisconsin until age 9 I think it is .. then only with helmets and sturdy
shoes with heels.
Mary and Carl Tighe, Sarah and Joe Piller, Suzie Kelly Kampman and Ruth Kahl
came for their week at
Pueblo Bonito in Mazatlan and we went to visit one
day. Sarah and Joe invited us to stay the night in their extra bed, so we
did and got more visiting time and some shopping time. It was great fun.
I needed some blood tests done to be sure my cholesterol meds were working.
I also got a blood sugar test … and it all worked so easily. And only cost
450 pesos, just over $30 this winter with the good conversion rate.
Cholesterol working swell and blood sugar the same as Sept .. not great news
but better than the glucose meter I bought says.
Twice I drove into Mazatlan with Charlie and Pauline Hughes for supplies.
Alan told us how to get a whole beef tenderloin at Bodega Aurrera .. the
Mexican Walmart .. and it worked with some variation .. cut it into steaks
.. and they provided some great grilled meals for us. One day Shawn Woods
and I rode with Clarence and Darlene Zimmerman when they visited friends on
Stone Island for the day. We took the ferry over to the mainland and shopped
at the Market. I finally found the dried garlic I couldn’t find at any
groceries .. though I got the best bags of it at Gigante last winter. I was
Shawn needed more shopping time and adventure, so she and I spent 2 nights
in Mazatlan and hit Cheap Charlies and the Gold Zone and more. We had a
great dinner at
El Mosto on Plazuela Machado. We also drank way too much
wine the first night and suffered for it the next day. We brought Darlene
and Clarence a stone turtle .. and gave it to them just after she asked if
we’d seen any. We picked the right gift that time. We also got her a white
hat like the black one I got after Sarah, Mary and Susie found them at the
Market. Millie liked the one I got her too.
Phil and Linda and the critters returned in February and we had some more
fun with them .. and met their friends Mary and Dick from Colorado, Ana and
Eric also from Savary Island, and Erlinda and Dan from New Mexico. They
planned a surprise party for Linda’s 60th birthday. Linda asked for advice
from us over 60 .. not to include her toyboy Phil. Larry said to stick with
the younger man .. as it worked so well for Jean. I advised her to get her
stomach problems in control so she can drink more. The others had practical
advice like have fun, keep looking for challenges, keep learning blah blah.
I think our advice was best.
We left Teacapan March 1 .. sad to leave such a wonderland .. with a spot
reserved to come back in fall .. but we have that May wedding in Ohio ya
know. We waited for Phil and Linda at Celestino, but Phil got a severe case
of Montezuma’s Revenge and they never caught up to us. We made it out via
Nogales a few days later and spent 3 days stocking up on stuff we missed
from the good old USA.
We headed east toward Palacios, TX to link up with Daph and Rob Breeze, who
we met at Celestino last spring and with Howard and Lynne who we met in
Texas 2 years ago. We limped into Kingsbury, TX one day with no power and
loud engine sounds. Another new fuel filter got us going again and the guy
assured us we could address the noise problem later.
We had a fun week at
Serendipity RV in Palacios with our friends and some
new ones Rob and Daph acquired over the winter. Kathy and John Burke from
Michigan invited us to a fish fry and Kathy introduced us to Nantucket
Secret Spice, which she thinks is the greatest on fish. I said we could get
them some more when we visit Cape Cod. Yes .. you can get it online .. but
we’ll BE there.
We still had to deal with the noise problem. Larry found a burst hose under
the rig and spent more than a day replacing it. It was all quiet for about 8
miles on the way out of town, then the Pop Pop sound and we knew it
went again. We spent almost a week in Bay City getting $250 in repairs.
We made it 80 miles, outside of Houston and a long traffic delay . . then
Pop Pop again and we limped back to a campground we’d just passed.
located some repair shops for us and we made an appointment for the next
morning. The guy hopped in and drove us around a bit, then turned into a
muffler shop where he arranged for us to get a new catalytic converter the
next week. Our mishaps both happened on Thursdays and these shops are closed
on the weekend, so they strung out well into the next week. Good thing we
weren’t in a hurry to get any place. This fix cost us $700 and it worked.
One bonus was that we had time to drive to Galveston and see the Hurricane
Ike damage. We thought Galveston was gone, but it turns out it’s
Beach and the peninsula just north of Galveston Island. We traveled that
route in 2006 and spent Thanksgiving in Crystal Beach. It’s pretty cleaned
up now, but there are still trucks and trucks of debris being hauled out. So
much is missing and the beach is all rearranged. We’d have liked to drive
that way instead of going around Houston, but peeps seemed to think the road
was a mess and you might be driving in sand. But no .. it would have been
Continuing on and to that Ohio wedding and beyond. Stay tuned ….
top of page
spent 4 days in
National Park. It was a great place to purchase the
Senior Pass you can buy for $10 from age 62 that gets the carload of folks
into national parks and monuments and more .. for LIFE. Be sure and get
yours when you are eligible. Isn’t it a GREAT country!!!
We camped in the ather Campground in the park and drove the park and took
the shuttle bus. We saw the canyon from many wonderful sites and walked part
of the rim .. many great sunsets .. no sunrises as we were still snuggled in
bed til the day warmed. The canyon is beautiful and amazing. We saw the
Grand Canyon movie at the IMAX. The rafting looks awesome. How did the early
settlers do it???
We continued north and spent several days in the
Lake Powell area. After 2
nights at an RV park, we moved to
campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area where we could camp for $10 a night
with the new Senior Pass. Here we overlooked an area of the lake and dreamed
about renting a houseboat and traveling the lake with friends.
Next to Kanab, UT, home of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
that takes in homeless animals and finds them homes … or houses them for
life if they are not adoptable. Deirdre is a Friends supporter and has
gotten all of us involved in supporting them. Our Katrina contributions went
to the great team of Friends that spent an entire year rescuing pets left
behind in New Orleans. They have a special section for rehabilitation of
Michael Vic’s fight dogs .. dubbed the Victory dogs. Very special people
there. Sometime .. maybe Fall 2009 .. we and Deirdre will spend a week there
volunteering and giving TLC to the animals. They have 2 isolated RV spots
available to rent that might be fun for nocturnal visitors.
The next adventure was quick day tours of Zion National Park and
Canyon National Park. Both beautiful .. very different .. amazing terrain. We will spend more time in that area.
From there we booked it to Washington. The weather deteriorated as we
traveled. We should have stayed where it was warm. From Salt Lake City we
went west, then north to Boise, ID, thru a bit of Oregon and northwest into
Washington. What an amazing drive through the mountains. We were listening
to a Robin Cook sci-fi novel
Abduction. I love his medical novels but this
one is a weird one about life in middle earth. It was unnerving to listen to
it while driving this winding empty mountainous area in Oregon.
We spent 3 months in Washington. Deirdre was happy to get her life back in
August. Larry again rewired the RV and got some more equipment for
Air TV and learning about FTA satellites and such so we can have
entertainment in Mexico. We now have 3 satellite dishes. Larry attracts a
LOT of male attention at campsites. Everyone’s curious about what he’s doing
I flew to Milwaukee in June and brought 3-year old Emily back for a week and
Heidi brought the girls out in July and I returned them to Milwaukee. We
loved it. Emily loved it all .. Jaime still wants her Mommy most of the
time, but the neighbor horses and Deirdre’s foster kittens kept her
entertained. Both girls are great airplane travelers.
We made 3 trips to our ‘member’ KM campground on the ocean at Ocean City: first on our way to Vancouver Island, then with Deirdre and grandpup Murrey,
and later with Jaime and Emily. The park is
Ocean Mist .. and so aptly
named. Jaime loved collecting sand dollars and both enjoyed kite flying. But
Emily HATES sand on her feet .. so there was always drama.
We visited Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles, then
took the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Customs in Canada pulled us
over and two inspectors searched the RV .. fluffing each seat cushion
carefully and looking around the dining table a lot. Luckily they did not
take all the stuff out of the bunk beds or storage areas .. and after 20
minutes or so, we were cleared for takeoff.
It would have been great to park the RV at
RV, near our favorite Victoria brewpub
but it was full due to a Tall Ships event. So we camped up near Sidney and
drove to Spinnakers and Canoe
Brewpubs for dinner and beers and high tea and Irish
music at the Blethering Place. We spent a few days in Victoria in 1998 after
we biked the Olympic Peninsula from Bainbridge Island and on our way to
biking 2 of the San Juan Islands. We revisited Sidney twice and enjoyed
great food and pints at the Stonehouse Pub overlooking the harbor.
Next we traveled north on Vancouver Island and left the rig at Cape Lazo
while we took the car ferry to the B.C. mainland to Powell River. From there
we drove north 30 miles to Lund where we took a water taxi to
to visit new friends Phil and Linda who we met in Mexico last December. They
are retired college teachers who moved to the island about 10 years ago. They bought a cabin and land and have since built a lovely home next door. Guests stay in the cabin which now has running water and Phil is adding a
bathroom. There is no power to the island, so everyone uses solar and
generators. All supplies must be brought over on the water taxi and
non-burnable refuse carried to the mainland. A barge visits periodically to
bring any vehicles or building supplies or big stuff. It is a
wonderful place .. they have an especially lovely view.
We met some neighbors and celebrated Canada Day and July 4th holidays with a
deck Happy Hour event. We told Phil and Linda that they can run but they
can’t hide from the Klampetts.
We spent a few more days on Vancouver Island at
Salmon Point RV Park near Campbell
were right there on the waterfront and it was glorious. We loved the whole
trip so much we think we’ll spend a whole summer there soon. The car ferry
trip back to Deirdre’s from Sidney to Anacortes through the San Juan Island
area was beautiful.
Two days to regroup and we were off again back to Ocean Mist with Deirdre
and Murrey for a long weekend. It was still cold but getting better. Then 3
days more to organize a BBQ party with Deridre’s work friends and get ready
for Jaime and Emily’s arrival. The partying just continues.
A fun result of this party was that I learned about
Junie B Jones books,
especially Junie B Jones First Grader Toothless Wonder. This
perfectly describes Jaime, so friend Suzette sent 12 Junie B books over for
us to enjoy with Jaime. We both fell in love with Junie B .. and got
Jaime really into reading.
Heidi and her friend Natanya took right off from the airport for one of
their ‘Thelma and Louise’ trips. They like to hit as many
attractions as they can squeeze in. Jaime and Emily came with us to
Deirdre’s for the week. Deirdre had about 15 foster cats at the time .. and
Jaime was in love. Eight kittens were in the ‘kitty condo’ in the garage, so
we spent a lot of time out there. We’d let her take out 2 at a time and
chase them around endlessly .. then swap for 2 more. They were very well
socialized kittens by the time they went in for ‘snippies’ and adoption.
Heidi and Nat came back and we all went to dinner with Nat’s Seattle
friends. The next morning Heidi and Nat returned to Milwaukee and work ..
and we and the girls went to Ocean Mist for 5 days. We flew kites and
collected sand dollars and played on the playground equipment. Murrey would
have loved to go with us … but there are just too many feet when we’re all
in the RV and we’d all want ‘his chair’. I really wanted to let Jaime ride a
horse along the beach .. only $20 an hour .. but the age limit was 6 and she
was a month shy of 6 .. and I couldn’t introduce her to lying .. though I
really really wanted to.
I flew the girls home and we headed east a few days after my return. Larry
replaced the carpeting in the RV in those few days and it looks great.
Back in Wisconsin we spent a night with Norm and Jo Bertler Teaford in
Cecil, near Shawano, and had a great fish fry in Bonduel. Norm was looking
forward to turning 64 the next week. He was having some problems with a knee
and his golf thumb .. said if he’d a known he’d live so long he’d a taken
better care of himself. About a month later he died of a heart attack and we
returned to Cecil for a memorial service for Norm. Wahhhhhhhhhhhh ….
We lost another friend in August. Dear Ruth Chapman from Melbourne,
Australia died when her
myleodisplasia turned to leukemia. So she and Sid
won’t be joining us on any adventures. Coincidentally, Norman’s Mom had this
disease and Jo told me victims usually die in 5 years, as Norm’s Mom did. Ruth was diagnosed less than a year before she died. Sad.
We spent some time at the Village Inn and RV on Memorial Drive near Two
Rivers and loved it. We biked a lot to the Galley for breakfast, Phil Roher’s for lunch and raw fries, Kurtz’s, Port Sandy Bay,
Point Beach State
Park. The weather was glorious .. and hot for the area. We had a cousins
reunion at Krolls in Green Bay with Auntie Peg Kane, had dinner with Don and
Jeanie Crowe Miller, lots of lunches with Larry’s Mom, and met Sally Yindra
Brotski in Brillion for lunch.
We picked up Jaime and Emily after Jaime met her 1st grade teacher and
brought them to the RV. They loved the pool and mini-golf. We took them to
Bay Beach and the TR kite fly and toured the
Manitowoc submarine. It was
whirlwind and fun. More next year.
Dr appts and lots of beer gatherings in Madison, then took care of the girls
5 days while Brian and Heidi had a little R&R in Las Vegas. I took the girls
to Sears for photos so we have cute pics smiling at us from the cupboard
doors as I write this. We had another nice visit in Milwaukee with friend
Joy King, who Diane Gerl Sedlacek and I met at Women’s Week at Girl Scout
Camp about 25 years ago.
We hoped to head west earlier this year, but Larry needed an extra
appointment that put us 2 weeks behind .. so once again we hit the cold and
wind and near freezing temps on our way back to the warm. We filled the
larder with Konop’s wieners, Johnsonville summer sausage, Woodman’s extra
sharp white cheddar, Czechvar beer, Bagels forever bagels, and Delitalia
porta toppings for salad and headed west. I found Diane Osesek Reisweber
again this year .. not spotted since high school years .. and we spent a
great evening with them in their new home overlooking McGregor, Iowa and the
Mississippi River. She and Phil taught in Germantown and I thought of them
often when visiting Heidi. They bought an
antiques shop in Marquette, Iowa
20 years ago and now it is their retirement hobby. Their home is a
wonderfully decorated with antiques.
Ted and Mona Thieman were traveling in Nova Scotia, so we’ll miss them this
year. Instead we spent a few days further south in Nebraska at Wilber .. the
Czech Capital of the US. Kolaches and rye bread. Yummm. While there,
Keith Olbermann MSNBC showed a clip of Les Vilda
of Wilber, NE .. the
BEER party candidate.
Imagine our surprise!!
Destination .. Denver area to visit Carol Loberger Hagerbaumer and get our
election ballots Deirdre sent there .. and to meet Cindy and Jack Bruner. We
met Cindy’s brother Howard and partner Lynne in Texas 2 years ago and
Cindy’s been in touch ever since. We missed her last year, as they were in
Connecticut at Howard’s son’s wedding. This year we parked the RV in their
yard, just as Howard and Lynne do when they visit. Isn’t life great??
Cindy and Jack showed us a great time. We met lots of their friends, enjoyed
beers at their local brewpub and at friend Kenny’s neighborhood garage bar,
celebrated at an Octoberfest Dinner near Boulder, and enjoyed local Mexican food. Jack’s
chef son Corey made us a great dinner and we enjoyed pictures of Jack and
Cindy’s trips, especially to Chile and canal boat trips in France.
We spent a fun day with Carol after she returned from a trip to Wisconsin to celebrate
Mom Delores’s 87th birthday and we spent a long happy hour and wonderful
dinner with her and Rick and Masha.
We planned to watch the Obama 30 minute TV special in Colorado Springs with
Tracey and Roger Ellmers, but the alternator on the RV needed replacement
and it took hours. Our Good Sam Emergency Insurance came in handy, for the
first time. So we spent the next evening with Tracey and Roger and met their
friend Gail, who’s been following our travels these 6 years.
We traveled south to New Mexico, took a left at Albuquerque and headed to
Arizona. We settled in near Camp Verde to watch the election and to
celebrate the Obama-Biden victory. Hooooray!!!
We were there to meet up with Phil and Linda from Savary Island at
Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. We will explore Sedona, Tuzigoot
National Monument and more before we head to Mexico.
It was an easy drive to San
Carlos on a minor road whose numbers changed frequently and didn’t match
anything the books said. We checked into Totonaka RV Park right next to Phil
and Linda and 2 sites from Vicki and Gerry. All water was turned off in the
town for the day. Luckily we had our own. We wondered what the people who
came to stay in the little cabins did. The bathrooms and laundry were
We set up and spoke to a
Canadian couple who contacted us via our Datastorm site. We all want
reassurance and to share others’ experiences, so I wrote to tell them how it
went for us. They brought us extra horseradish to add to catsup for shrimp
cocktail sauce, so we were able to share with Phil and Linda.
Soon we all went across the street to Charly’s Rock for beers and a glorious
sunset. Phil and Linda took off the next morning and we didn’t see them
again until February when we did a day trip to visit them in Teacapan. Gerry
says Teacapan is so lovely he would have to kill us if he told us about it.
Vicki and I took a cooking class from Maria, the owner of the RV Park. She
lived most of her years in California and Chicago and understood what we’d
want to learn from her. She discussed dry and fresh chilies and showed us
pretty pictures as she went. She had us all select a salsa type we’d like to
make, then she told us what we’d need to make it .. and we reconvened at 9
the next morning to take the bus to the market at Guaymas. There she advised
our purchases and took us to a tortorilla where she bought dough for tamales
and chips for our afternoon salsa tasting. We all returned to our rigs and
met again in the afternoon to sample each others concoctions. There was a
variety of fresh and cooked salsas. She did not approve of the days’
tomatillos or mangos, so there were no green or fruit salsas that some
wanted to make. Surprisingly ... all of us who went to the first class were
free for the bus tour and next afternoon gathering.
I learned to make cooked salsa. It is rather like the red dipping sauce you
get with the complimentary chips at most Mexican restaurants. We will never
have to buy jars of salsa again. Yeahhhhh ….
Wanna know how to make cooked salsa?
Use a small saucepan .. about quart size. Wash 2-3 long dry red California
chilies and snip off the ends. Cut the chilies into several pieces and put
in saucepan. Wash and coarsely chop 4-5 plum tomatoes and about 2/3 of a
medium onion. You can vary all of these amounts to your taste on the next
batch. Remove the seeds for a milder salsa. Drop in several cloves of garlic
and some salt. Add cilantro if desired, though she didn’t.
Cover with water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer at medium 10 – 12
minutes. Turn off heat and let the mixture cool. Pour off most of the liquid
and reserve to use it later for rice or couscous or soup.
Blend the salsa. One of those hand held immersible varieties works slick.
Just rinse it with a drop of soap, dry and put it away. Store salsa in some
sort of container and it lasts several weeks. A 10-oz (maybe?) plastic
peanut butter jar gets filled up when I make it.
Try various dry chilies or add a chipotle pepper from a can before blending
for a different taste. Try white and yellow onions. Perhaps even red??
Vicki and Gerry let us ride with them to Guaymas for the Wednesday market.
There was a lot for sale in town .. bikes and games and clothes and such ..
much more than we ever saw in Costa Rica. We bought a pump for our big
5-gallon water jug and Gerry directed us to some wonderful carnitas … cooked
chopped seasoned beef … that came with salsa and tortillas. A kilo made us
happy for 2 meals, though we don’t like the corn tortillas nearly as well as
flour / harina. I got pretty Barbie dresses for Jaime and Emily.
After laundry and money and organizing and scoping everything out, we were
ready to move on to our timeshare week. We left the rig at the El Mirador RV
Park just up the road from the Premier Vacation Club for $8 per day. We
piled the car high with stuff and checked in. The guys brought a big gray
bin and we got everything up in one trip. Again .. a wonderful country.
We met some nice folks, enjoyed the erratic hot tub that was scalding hot
some afternoons but tepid at dusk when the air was chilly, had dinner twice
at La Manga … a little village past the end of the road that has no
electricity .. just propane and generators and solar and such. Vicki and
Gerry came the second time and we found a wonderful place up the hill
overlooking the bay ... El Mirador … and it felt just like Italy. Wonderful
garlic shrimp for $8. We brought our own beer. The weather was very cold
that week so it wasn’t our perfect first timeshare week .. but who cares? We
didn’t waste a week of work vacation getting here.
Vicki and Gerry travel with no TV, no computer, no cell phone .. but they
enjoy a Sirius radio. They email with one of the mail stations you connect
to a phone line. So we gave Vicki our 3rd computer to use for a few days and
got her started using her web mail site. You remember how hard it is to
learn to use a computer keyboard? Move the cursor, anchor the cursor, watch
what GIGO you’re typing, etc. She thought I was very patient .. and she was
doing quite well after a few days. That keyboard freezes up sometimes and
the QWERTY line letters don’t always work. There’s some quirky press the
right shift keys and it might come back. So add THAT to her learning and she
did so well. Gerry promises they’ll buy a computer soon .. after their South
Africa and Eastern Europe adventures if not before.
Here I learned to make Holy Guacamole:
It must be eaten fresh, doesn’t store well .. so this is a small serving
Larry and I can get outside of in one Happy Hour and sometimes skip dinner
One ripe avocado ... but not overripe. You’ll just have to learn .. should
mush up but not be black inside. If it is too hard, they told us you can
microwave it 1 min or boil 2 mins .. but I haven’t tried this yet. Avocados
are always just right in Mexico.
Some white onion and plum tomato finely chopped. Cilantro and garlic finely
chopped. Salt to taste. Some states squeeze some lime juice in. DD likes a
touch of cumin and some sour cream. Mash avocado and blend in the rest.
Enjoy with chips.
Phil and Linda wrote from Celestino RV Park, a new park about 50 miles north
of Mazatlan. People were saying that most places south were fully reserved
for the next months. So I tried to contact RV parks in Mazatlan. One was
full, one had Spanish voicemail, 2 emails were returned from postmaster. Mar
Rosa .. right on the beach and the one we’d prefer anyway .. had a few spots
left and were not taking reservations for them. First come first served.
So we checked out of the timeshare the Friday before Christmas and headed
toward Mazatlan. We spent Friday night at a tired old park in Los Mochis and
on the next day to Mazatlan. There were hoards of California and Arizona and
local Mexicans heading ‘home’ for Christmas. Cars and trucks were piled high
with luggage, bicycles, wheelchairs and more. Lots of vendors at every tope
and toll booth hawking their wares and collecting for charities or washing
windows with dirty water and oily rags. I think we chose the Libre road ..
at first to be cheap .. later because the turn to the Toll Road looked like
an old dusty trail. So we limped thru Culiacan .. making the correct turns
despite every sign missing the arrow bit that we needed. Just outside of
town, we were stopped for over 90 minutes as something overturned or ???
around the bend. Every little while .. ALL the cars queued would zoom past
us and somehow be able to continue. Even when traffic did restart, the truck
in front of us didn’t move until all traffic cleared .. which was OK as I
preferred them to be in front of us. Somewhere that day my rear blinky bike
Again it got dark on us and we got to Mazatlan after sunset. We backed into
a spot that turned out to be beside a couple from Minneapolis, set up .. and
caught a pulmonia / golf cart taxi to the driver’s favorite taco stand. The
owner ran out somewhere for beers when we inquired. Great tacos.
Our neighbors were all out for the evening and returned later in several
little trucks with bench seating along each side … arrigas .. same price as
a pulmonia usually, but hold more people. We once saw 13 local wimmen get
out of one. We learned the next day they were at a baseball game. Mazatlan
was a big winner in this years finals.
Signs announced a ‘group’ dinner Christmas day at 4pm. I bemoaned to Mrs.
Minneapolis that we hardly had time to organize a group .. so she caucused
with the Canadian wimmen and they deigned to let us join them. They were
cooking 3 turkeys they’d won in a golf tournament. We were assigned to bring
dinner rolls. Dinner rolls in Mexico??? Hmmmmm …
Sunday we got brave and drove the car to Gigante. We got lots of stuff for
escalloped corn, pasta salad, cheap vodka, but no dinner rolls. Off to
Walmart .. now we’re talking the day before Christmas eve and we are chicken
$h!t drivers in Mexico!!! Busy!!! They had big plastic containers of rolls
.. crescent type .. and I got lots. No creamed corn or cornbread mix, so I
improvised and turned out a heavy tasty escalloped corn that was hardly
touched. Likewise my awesome Greek pasta salad with many veg, goat cheese,
kalamate olives, basil, tarragon vinegar and oil. Yummm … But again we went
home with it. I gave a bowl to one of the Canadians ..who gave it in turn to
some newcomers. They liked their cucumber in vinegar, pierogies, cranberry
sauce .. but they did enjoy the Brandy Alexander liquors we brought. It had
been cold in the evenings, but the weather held nice for our dinner. I tried
to buy wine and Baileys at Walmart but was denied .. it was after 4pm on a
Young kids .. 8-12 or so .. or the elderly .. bag the groceries in markets
here. They do it for tips. Also there are men in some semblance of a uniform
with a whistle that assist you in the parking lot. They also ‘work’ for
After Christmas we moved the rig and tried to find the satellite for
internet. We ALMOST got it, so we moved to the second row from the beach
without trees overhead. Pricier, but we liked the neighborhood better and
we’d hear and see the ocean .. between the honking big class A’s in the
front row.. Didn’t get the satellite, so phoned MotoSat and spent hours of 2
days on the cell phone trying to switch to 117. It wasn’t looking good, but
by using the campground WiFi for $50 a month, we got advice from DataStorm
Users Group and succeeded. It added $160 or so to the phone bill that month.
Yipes!!! But SKYPE doesn’t allow you to ‘press 2 for Tech Support’ after you
connect, so it was the cell phone or nothing. And we DID enjoy the dish
internet. Found out you can’t ie. watch Craig Ferguson clips or download
Stephanie Miller podcasts from Mexico .. or perhaps anywhere outside the US.
Urngggggg? Happily we could with our dish. Some folks told us it takes them
sometimes 8 days to change satellites so they park in Salt Lake City until
they succeed. So our $160 was peanuts in a way.
Sheila from BC was staying for a month at the El Quijote Inn next door, so I
checked it out and found we could rent a Jr Suite for a month for the same
$$ I could get it on the internet for 2 weeks. Hmmmm …. So … I called and
emailed Joel Torres many times saying we had no contract, I did not have a
signed agreement that he said I needed and he’d send, yadda yadda and return
my money. No response, so I booked the suite for a month and invited Betty
and Joel Schliefer from Minneapolis area to come for a week, then Tracey and
Roger Ellmers from Colorado Springs the final week. All set for some fun
now!! I’m putting a bad word out on Joel everyplace I can .. TripAdvisor and
the like. Someone on trip advisor suggested a link to a Mexican site for
fraud, but since he is in the US, it didn’t cover. Will investigate Small
Claims Court when we’re in Washington. He did write 11pm Sunday before our
Wed date to tell me to call him to get directions to the Villa. He found
time to write to me 10 or more times the next days .. always saying no
refund, I knew the villa is waiting for me, HE has a signed contract, we are
good to go. No Joel … I phoned and wrote many many times since October. Did
they sound like I knew we were good to go? Why didn’t you find time to reply
We set about learning the city, buffing up our tans, enjoying the fresh
shrimp sold each day right next to the rig, visiting both ends of the
Cerritoes Juarez bus route … the Sunday flea market in the Juarez
neighborhood and Playa Bruja, a surfing beach with a lovely palapa
restaurant, at the other end in tiny Cerritoes .. and trying out
Later in January, the Tighes and Ruth Kahl arrived. We brought just enough
stuff to Pueblo Bonito for a party, then went back to the rig the next day
and drove some stuff over and took the girls food shopping. It was the first
time they’d stayed in Mazatlan for 2 weeks … and now they are hooked. We
signed up (quite forcefully) to visit the new Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay
Resort for ‘an update’. Mary and Carl wound up buying a biennial week there
when they promised to rent out their current week in town. By the end they
know they’ll use both weeks themselves.
Our guide Fred gave us numbers to call for his favorite restaurant Topolo’s,
and for a place to reserve to watch the Carnival Fireworks Saturday night.
We had to get right to the Fireworks place to pay and choose a table, so we
took the arriga, made the reservations and paid, enjoyed sunset from the
roof of the Hotel Freeman, then had a wonderful meal at Topolo’s .. with
live classical guitar, fine wine, fruit flambé for dessert. Hmmmm .. Thanks
We all took in a Fiesta at the Plaza Mazatlan in the Hotel Zone.. an evening
of dancing and singing and Mexican buffet plus all you wanted to drink .. in
a dinner theater setting. We dined at Casa Loma on the 27th anniversary of
Mary and Carl’s engagement. We took the bus out to Cerritoes for shrimp and
dancing entertainment. Shopping, the awesome 10:30 Carnival fireworks along
the Malecón and the bands and masks and merriment, dinner and a Carnival
Parade from the Hotel Hacienda platform, and more. We had fun and both Mary
and Ruth went home with a few new baubles from their favorite beach vendor
They got us tickets on the airport shuttle bus for a Stone Island tour, so
we scratched the cheapo route we’d investigated. For $20 each, an arriga
picked us up at the hotel at 9am, took us to the boat which took us out into
the ocean for a bit to see Bird Island and sealions .. then on to Stone
Island where a Mexican limousine .. a wagon and tractor .. showed us the
village and took us to our restaurant for the day. We had lunch, all we
could drink … plus a horse ride along the beach or a wagon and horse ride
for an extra $5. I hate horse riding, but I went with Carl and we enjoyed
the pace. We reversed the trip around 2:30. Another great day!!
I got the tickets for the parade from Babe Scanlon. She is a hoot and I
stayed in touch with her for awhile and we went to her house for a birthday
party she had for an 83 year old neighbor lady. I used to be Jean Scanlan,
so she felt like family.
She also had tickets to a Bull Fight! I thought they don’t do that in
Mazatlan, since 2002 or so. Just for Carnival she said. And a midget
bullfight in December where a troup of Mexican midgets frolic with baby
bulls, but don’t kill them. And recently we heard about an Easter one. Well
.. just a few. So we went, as the bull(s) would be killed with or without us
there .. and she said it was special because the toreadors rode dancing
horses. It was an intimate arena and heaps of locals enjoyed themselves.
Little children cheering when a bull went down. Awwww … I cheered for the
bull. In all, 4 bulls were ceremoniously killed .. I didn’t know. There were
a few protesters outside afterwards … bull fighting is neither art/culture
nor sport, they declared! We didn’t know .. what do you eat after a
bullfight?? We both pictured chicken places on the walk back, but no. We
were in time to watch the second fireworks and had a beer and hot dog on the
street before walking home with some Panama Bakery purchases to have with
coffee. What a day!!
Next we got ready for DD, Heidi, Jaime, Emily and Natanya’s arrival. We
scoped out more restaurants for kid food and vegetarian for Nat. I
investigated everything I could find about how they should come from the
airport, then recommended that they hail a taxi, pay $26US, and get
themselves to El Quijote, avoiding those that would give you a free ride in
return for visiting a timeshare presentation. I cleaned out the bottom bunk
for the girls .. not a mean feat .. and got their presents ready and the
horsie lights we bought at Camping World .. and lots of books. Heidi says
Jaime can READ!! And she can.
We had a fun week with them .. doing the Stone Island tour, Cerritoes which
had Dancing Horses on the beach at dusk on Saturday, sent Heidi and Nat to
climb the lighthouse path … the highest working lighthouse in the world,
Arnoldo told us on the Stone Island tour .. to the Market to see the pigs
heads and feet, and to the Juarez Flea Market. They had a ball. The girls
enjoyed the two camp cats that adopted our site as home .. a lovely calico
female named Poncha and a yellow male named Pancho. We were bushed
everynight and after they left.
DD stayed an extra week, missing Murrey Seamus O’Reilly and checking often
on his behavior at the Oh So Fun Dog Ranch Vacation Retreat. She got jealous
that he’d rest his head on herself’s lap in the afternoon when she took him
with her inside to do some office work. He also did some snapping at a dog
or two, so perhaps she won’t be traveling for two weeks again.
Jaime LOVES horses, so when she got to ride all by herself TWICE on Stone
Island .. she declared it the BEST DAY OF HER WHOLE LIFE!!!! She knows how
to tickle Grandma and Grandpa. On the last day she rode again on the beach
in front of El Quijote. We bought dresses, got their thread name bracelets
made, had lots of chicken nuggets .. but mostly lots of chips. The chocolate
milk was hit or miss .. often some thin icy concoction. When they left ..
Jaime said ‘Grandma .. you’re WONDERFUL!!’ Awwww … By calling the tour
company directly, we were able to get the same $20 tour deal that Carl got
on the hotel bus for our Stone Island trips.
One day we drove to Copala with DD. It is an old colonial town with the best
banana cream pie .. a few hours from Mazatlan and in the hills headed to
Durango. It turned out to be a windy little village with a wonderful old
church and the pie was good. Meant to go to El Quelite too, but DD preferred
to stay at the beach. Next time.
We had one day between DDs departure and the arrival of Betty and Joel, so
we drove several hours south and spent a few hours with Phil and Linda in
Teacapan. We went into town to a little unmarked bakery and selected items
by hand to carry on Linda’s pizza pan. We picked up their laundry at an
obscure little place as well and had a great lunch at a little palapa
restaurant on a cove, next to a little campground. If we knew, we’d have
seen the little class B rig of Rob and Daph Breeze that we met at Celestino
a few weeks later. They were in another little park to the right end of the
cove. There are heaps of pepper plants in the area and we saw stacks of
dried red serranos. Nice trip.
We had a nice visit with Betty and Joel and lots of great meals. We just
visited them in August, but since then son Jon’s wedding took place, so we
got all caught up. One evening we passed a FSIH building up the road and
there were a lot of nationals hanging about. They kept being there and one
day handed Joel a 2 page document declaring their plight at losing their
homes when the new dam is completed. Soon they had banners, a lane of
traffic blocked off, even a march to the Malecón. Then they were gone.
Wonder at the outcome?? Our Stone Island tour with Betty and Joel had lots
of spring break college students with us. The guys enjoyed the antics of the
Tracey and Roger didn’t heed my airport taxi advice ... suckered in by the
$150 cash, the restaurant voucher and the free taxi ride. The next morning
they visited the Mayan Resort and bought into a 4-week Vacation Package that
gives them 4 weeks a year at any of the Mayan Resorts, plus trade and travel
pkgs, etc. and again the promise to rent out some weeks or parts of the
suite for golf conventions. We spent a day at the Mayan and it was nice.
Last year Mary and Carl took us to a newer Mayan in Puerto Vallarta and it
was really nice!! Roger’s girls are now out of the house and they’ll enjoy
the time away alone together.
Easter and Semana Santa were coming. We were paid until Holy Thursday, but
we kept hearing about the hordes of nationals that throng the beach that
week, even setting up lots of tents in the RV park between the rows. Lots of
music and drinking and messy bathrooms. Most people had gone, so we traveled
north to Celestino, recommended and enjoyed by our new friends. It was weird
packing up and driving again after 3 months. We didn’t buy petrol for the
rig for 3 months!! It was a nice 50 mile trek on the Toll Road .. we’re only
going that way hence .. and interesting to become acquainted with the Toll
Road exits. Luckily the Churches told us to take the dirt path just before
the overhead. Wondering if we missed that feature on the way in from the
border, as we didn’t get off the Toll Road until Hermosillo.
We found our way to Celestino RV. There are several RV Parks along that
road. We fit in one of the spots closer to the ocean while the big rigs had
to stay back toward the road. It is a new park .. deep and narrow. It took
us awhile to adjust to the ‘nothing to do’ of it .. and stayed 2 weeks,
reluctant to leave. Rob and Daph Breeze, British immigrants to Ontario, were
our neighbors and we just love them. We all drove to Chonito’s in nearby
Dimas for lunch one day, then on to the El Mirador restaurant that Phil and
Linda wrote about. The dirt road road went on forever and nothing after the
first sign. We were sure it was wrong, but there were no other choices to
have wrongly chosen. Finally we got to a little town and after buzzing it,
tried a palapa on a hill that we saw from the other end of the tiny town.
What a find!! Beautiful view of the little village, a beautiful cove and a
lighthouse on the hill over there. Phil neglected to tell us they didn’t
serve cerveza .. an unexpected and unforgivable, really, oversight on his
part … so we just had a soda. A crew was putting up new fancy signs as we
turned back onto the dusty road. Wouldn’t ya know???
Another day we went north toward La Cruz and found the Turtle Sanctuary and
visited La Cruz for lunch and potluck supplies. The coast has 40km of turtle
hatching in the fall and January. Must come back for that sometime. They had
the shell of a laud turtle and it was as tall and wide as Larry with his
arms outstretched. They had a photo of its trail with a guy laying across it
and filling the width. They also had a turtle in a tiny aquarium where it
had to struggle constantly to keep its head out of the water to breathe. It
was very hard to turn around and leave it struggling, but our limited
Spanish didn’t provide for a recommended fix.
Vicki and Gerry told us how to do a Copper Canyon tour the cheap way, so we
headed to El Fuerte after the Easter holidays ended. We read that there
would be black flies .. and there were and they were nasty when we arrived.
Larry doesn’t usually get bites, but his calves are speckled with bites.
After a day buzzing El Fuerte and environs, we got picked up Monday morning
to be taken to the train. The primero train hadn’t arrived yet. We probably
spent a minute debating whether to take it when it arrived, but the throng
looked pretty likely to fill it up. Plus it is twice the price of the
secundo. 327 pesos cheap / double pricey. That’s $32.70 one way or double
The secundo arrived an hour after the primero. There were LOTS of nationals
getting on. We got on with a young British backpacker couple. She scouted
this way and that and all seats looked full. Then a train guy sent us
packing toward a front car. Mid-way another train guy sent us back again and
on to the last car. I was pretty sure we would spend the whole trip
trippsing back and forth with all our luggage banging everyone. But .. no .
the last car had lots of room and we settled in. People used to take the
train from Los Mochis, but as the terrain between Los Mochis and El Fuerte
isn’t awesome, people now leave from El Fuerte. We met several people on
personalized tours who flew into Los Mochis, then took a taxi 50 miles to El
Fuerte. What must that have cost?? They didn’t know .. it was built into
their pricey package.
The young couple got off at Posada Barraca. Soon the conductor said 15
minutes til Divisidero .. a spot where you get off for 15 minutes and choose
from a spectacular lookout over one of the canyons, buy stuff from the many
Tarahumara vendors .. or buy tacos from the many people cooking over oil
barrel stoves. Nine minutes later we determined that this WAS the stop and
everyone was off eating or viewing or buying. We dashed and caught the view
and I snatched 2 quick tacos on the way back. The train guy said we had to
eat in the Dining Car .. even though EVERYONE was eating at their seats the
entire trip. So I tripped back to tell Larry and we tripped forward several
cars to eat as directed .. with me again hitting everyone in the head with
The train goes from Los Mochis to Chihuahua. Creel is about halfway and the
best bit is between El Fuerte and Creel. So Vicki and Gerry said to get off
at Creel and find our way to Casa Margarita’s Hostel for our room. I knew it
was closeby, but it was dark and the hustlers shouted at us immediately.
They got us to a bus Margarita now provides. First they took some people to
Plaza Margarita, a more upscale habitation, then took us back to the Casa …
a short walk from the train station. We got an ensuite room for $35 total
per day, including breakfast and dinner. We got settled and went right down
for dinner as it was nearing the 8pm cutoff hour.
We sat with Sharon and Fred and Barbara and Walter. I’d chatted with Sharon
at the El Fuerte station that morning. They signed up for a shuttle tour of
an old church, a lake and some interesting rock formations the next day, but
we chose to just sit and rest as Larry’s back was acting up for a week now.
Some of the rocks are called Monk Rocks, but Maggie from Poland shared that
they look like penis’s and used to be called Penis Rocks, but it just didn’t
work with the gringos. Hmmmm …. So we rested and they saw the lake and
visited a Tarahumara village I think, but the chapel was locked and they
didn’t get to the Monks. A shame!!
The Tarahumara people live in the Copper Canyon area. They are an ancient
native tribe that live in a stick hut in the winter and in a cave in the
summer and live very primitively, cooking over wood fires, washing and
bathing in the river and such. They are very fast runners and are known to
run 100 miles in a day and carry on the next. I believe some are in the
Olympics. The women wear very colorful skirts and jackets … bright yellow,
orange, blue, reds .. with a bandana on their head and a shawl wrapped
around them. The skirts have many ruffles and decoration between each
ruffle. The jackets are very puffy and pleated and require lots of fabric.
They are wonderful!! They make a lot of woven belts and bracelets and
baskets and sell them to the gringos.
Many just sat around the town square or craft store all day. Some sewed, the
children just sat with them and ate oranges and such. We wondered about
their WC and determined that they used the underside of the bridge we saw
from our room .. the bridge leading to the clinic.
After a day of rest, we caught the 9:30am ‘chicken bus’ to Batopilas, as
directed by Vicki and Gerry. It was an old school bus painted white. It
wasn’t quite full, so sometimes Larry and I could have our own seats, as he
couldn’t fold himself up sufficiently to fit beside me. Barbara and Walter
went too and took the front seat from the door. It had to have been much
scarier and hairier from that viewpoint. A grandma from Vermont was on with
her son and daughter-in-law and their 7 and 9 year old kids from New Mexico,
where Mom and Dad teach high school and they live on an Indian reservation.
Dad was good at pointing things out to the kids, so I got his experience
The road goes down into one of the 6 Copper Canyons .. this one Batopilas.
The first hour and a half we descended mostly on a beautiful 2-lane paved
highway .. up and down and around .. past Tarahumara dwellings and lots of
desert. Then we turned right onto a narrow dirt road marked as the route to
Batopilas .. a narrow rocky terrain that is being widened extensively. We
got to use the baños … au natural for the men, a nasty two-seater for the
girls. Did I say nasty, messy … but not stinky, so there was that. The seat
was also about 12-16 inches from the floor, so I had to hang on to the bench
for proper placement, if you get my drift. Thank goodness for anti-bacterial
This road was the adventure. Down and down switchbacks .. you could see down
there the windy route we’d follow. It was something .. especially when we’d
meet or be passed by another vehicle. A busty national young woman with an
unusual cleavage displaying black top sat behind the driver and chatted him
up lustily the entire trip. We sure didn’t like it when he’d so often turn
around to chat to her. Walter didn’t even want to take the bus back up as he
felt it was dangerous .. but we think he had it under control. We arrived
anyway … 5 hours after departure. The area had lots of silver mines back in
the 1700s and forward. We had another baño stop at La Bufa, where there was
a big stack of copper colored tailings from the silver mine. The baño there
was a 3-sided affair with natural air conditioning and a great view into the
We arrived at the mile long village and the bus wound its way to the church.
Arturo led us to Senora Monse’s Casa where we were the only tourists to
select one of her $20 per night ensuite rooms, no meals included. It was
fine, bigger than our Casa Margarita room. Others went next door to
Juanita’s and enjoyed her $35 rooms with a view of the river. Senora Monse
is also on the river, I had read, but when I walked to the back I saw a cow
and a wall and not the bucolic scene I’d envisioned. Before I knew what hit
me, I agreed to a tour to the Cathedral the next morning at 9am with Arturo.
Senora Monse encouraged us to eat her chicken that evening .. for an added
price .. but we begged off saying we were meeting friends, but asked for
breakfast in the morning.
We rested a bit, then headed out and turned left. Batopilas has a huge
rectangular square a block away from the church, most unusual for a Mexican
square not to be across from the church directly. It is mostly empty with
wonderful castiron bench seating around the edges and a big bandstand in the
center. Our first stop was for beers at the Collegiate Bar and Restaurant ..
in a pleasant little courtyard where the locals were getting hammered and
the young girls could peek in at us and them and giggle. We saw a bridge
over a dry arroyo / river bed and all manner of vehicles and people traveled
it .. something that won’t be possible in the rains of July and August when
it pours, we were told.
We stopped after 2 Tecates and went in search of Barbara and Walter, who
said they would try to stay at the Copper Canyon Lodge with some new friends
they’d met on the train Monday. Arturo and some locals went back and forth a
bit, shaking their heads, then sent them off ‘beyond the church’. So we
wandered a few blocks past and in from the church and didn’t find it. So we
returned to sit in the square. Presently they came by with their new friends
Richard, Jim and MaryJo .. looking for a bar with margaritas. There is no
Copper Canyon Lodge and they were at Juanita’s. We went back to the
Collegiate for 2 more beers with them, until they were off for a reserved
dinner at Senor Donas I think. There are a few places where you make
reservations for the plata del dia, then sit and eat whatever the chef
decided to make that day. We stayed right at the Collegiate and had a great
steak, baked potato, salad … and 2 more beers. Not the brightest idea having
We staggered back to Senora Monse’s and slept the sleep of the hammered
dead. I had such a headache all the next day. Senora Monse asked … eggs or
cereal. We chose cereal and she charged us $5 each for a bit of creamed rice
gruel, a few slices of papaya and instant coffee that said DECAF!! An
outrageous sum for what we got. But … it was quick and Arturo was soon
He escorted us in his Mexican limousine .. two car/van seats between the cab
and the tailgate .. with a big spare tire inbetween. Luxury. All of our new
friends plus some from Seattle set out to walk the 4 miles to the cathedral.
We passed them close to the last curve where the cathedral became visible.
They were hot and tired, but pressed on. The outside of the cathedral must
have been recently restored and it was beautiful. The inside looked worse
for the years. I read that the Tarahumara celebrate Easter there. The men do
some sort of religious drugs and drink some awful alcohol and stumble around
for days in a frenetic religious stupor. Many many people drive the narrow
road Arturo took us on to witness the events .. then all try to get back to
Batopilas at the same time in the dark. And I daresay they’ve been doing
some imbibing too. Christianity has really screwed up the Taramuhara
The others completed their tour in the Best Western tour shuttle with Pepe,
who brought them down in cushy style from Creel the day before. Barbara and
Walter had to join our tour, as there was no room in the inn for them. Two
Tarahumara women and a small boy climbed into the truck with us. They are
supposed to have their own language and are not comfortable speaking to
outsiders, but Walter held the boy and tried to converse with the women in
Spanish. One acknowledged him unwittingly, but averted her gaze from his.
She was beautiful with clear shiny dark skin and beautiful white teeth.
Arturo took us to their winter shack .. a stick and thatch room with ‘patio’
about 8’ x 6’ total maybe. Then we visited the cave just over there where
they spend the summer, out of the blazing heat and rain. There was much
evidence of goat and cattle residue about .. lots of sharing here. Then we
walked a bit further to a neighborhood where 4 families live. An old man was
sitting on his haunches while 4 women took care of I think 7 small children.
They live communally but each family lives by itself. The others brought
gifts of big tins of sardines. I had some gum and candy for the kids. No
tire basura we said. All Mexicans throw litter wherever. Adults opened the
bus windows to toss soda cans and snack bags. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …. They
had a cool grinder attached to a pole in the ground .. for corn and flour
and what have you. Arturo pointed out a 2 month old baby asleep in a sling
hanging from the rafter of a dwelling. It was the cutest thing. They all had
cute puppies. There are lots of dogs in Mexico ... most not so cute .. most
females not neutered. Sad.
We rested and bought water and such .. didn’t attempt the mile walk with the
others around 4pm to the remains of the Shepard Mansion .. the owner of the
silver mines. As we sat in the square, we saw lots of comings and goings.
Our intention was to check out the bus that arrived that day, but we must
have missed it. A group of mountain bikers went by often and we chatted. We
saw them in Creel the day before as we headed to the bus. They got carted
along the good road in their van, then road the windy dirt road to Batopilas.
One of the guys told us that every other day they send a 9-passenger shuttle
down instead of the bus, so if you’re not there at 4:15 am for the 5am bus,
you may be out of luck. Happened to him once, so he had to return and crawl
back into bed and wait another day. Hmmmmm …
We debated and wondered. We didn’t want to get up so early and not be able
to go .. nor did we like being crammed in with 7 others side by side either.
But if it was full on Saturday too, we were there until Monday and we really
can’t tolerate that much peace and quiet.
I mentioned it to Senora Monse when we got back and she said she saw a big
bus that day. I’d earlier bought 3 bottles of agua from a lady in a food
stand parked near the church where the bus ends, so we approached her in our
not good Spanish to see if she noticed what bus came. Mas agua senora? No …
She sent us over to a nice gringa lady who runs a silver shop. She was
abashed at our new information and mused that everyone else knows what’s
going to happen but the people there. No .. a big bus did come in that day.
We put a pint on whether Walter and Barbara would show up in the morning. We
already knew the New Mexico peeps were going Saturday. Larry said yes, I
said no show.
They all had dinner reservations at Casa Carolinas. We tried another bar and
restaurant .. something like El Zagura just down the street next to the
church, towards the river. It had a lovely courtyard, reminiscent of Italy.
We enjoyed 2 beers and a lovely fried fish dinner. The electricity went off
just before dark and it added to the allure. It returned just in time for
our walk back to the Casa …
We packed and got to bed early. Up and out by 4:30. At 5am a big honking
newish tourist bus comes lumbering in .. barely able to back in and turn
around next to the church. AND .. there were 5 of us waiting for the bus ..
two local old guys and an old woman and us. The woman carried only a small
box from the grocery, tied with twine. We marveled at her pequeño Mexican
luggage. But she just handed it to the driver as freight .. and 4 of us got
on .. on this big 40+ passenger bus with real seats and headrests and
curtains and everything. I win a pint of Guinness as soon as we find one
across the border.
To our surprise there were several people already on the bus. How surprised
we would have been to find the 9-passenger shuttle already full or nearly by
our stop. We picked up another backpacker on the way out of town and another
later in the middle of nowhere up on the ridge. How this big bus squeezed
down the narrow village walls and onto the narrow bridges, some without any
sides at all .. is a wonder. I’d read that it is a 5 hour trip down to
Batopilas and 7 hours back up to Creel. Our buses made it in 5 hours each
way. An amazing ride for $18 each. The ‘chicken bus’. Try it .. you’ll like
We made it back in time to choose the primero train if we wished .. and we
thought we wished. But as the 11:30 arrival time approached and we saw all
the gringo riders, including an Elderhostel birding group … we just couldn’t
stand to ride with them 7 hours. So we returned to El Tungar .. the Hangover
Hospital .. and had some wonderful burritos and cokes like we’d enjoyed
Tuesday. Love the advice I find on TripAdvisor.
We caught the Segundo at 12:30 and I befriended a young Swiss woman
traveler. She had on a very short sundress with a red sweater. ALL the
national men loved looking at her, especially when she took the sweater off
later. She spoke very fluent Spanish and when she wasn’t hobnobbing
elsewhere, had 1 to 4 train guys chatting her up.
She was in Mexico for a wedding I guess. She took a bus from Chihuahua that
morning, then was on the train to Los Mochis. Her plan was to catch a night
bus to Tijuana (a 36 hour nonstop drive my haircut lady had told me), then
on to Los Angeles for a Monday flight home to Switzerland. Can you do all
that between Friday and Monday? Tight connections. Don’t know how she got
her information. I could find very little. Even the Chepe website for the
train gave a schedule that didn’t match reality on the return trip. I got
all kinds of prices and times for the chicken bus too. It sure seemed like
it only went down M, W, F and back up T, Th, Sat. Or it went down M, W, F
but back up every day and on to Chihuahua every other day. Huh .. how would
that work? We watched for the bus / van going down to Batopilas Friday but
never saw one. The old school bus was sitting where we caught it when we
arrived in Creel. Hmmm .. sure wondering what went down to bring Walter and
Barb and the 5 New Mexico people up on Saturday???
Our driver Senor Piñas was not at the train station to collect us, so we
piled into the nearest station wagon. The guy did not understand El Fuerte
RV Park and we were worried .. but we worked it out. He kept pulling over as
the car kept dying. Very happy to get ‘home’. Slept like babes. In the
morning we packed up and moved north to Alamos .. quickly before the biting
flies woke up.
We are all alone at our Dolisa Motel / Trailer Park. We had some problems
finding the satellite, and at one point the dish shut itself down in a weird
position and did some damage to itself. Larry with his bad but improving
back and wonky hip crawled up and did some masking tape and WD-40 repairs, a
few dish calibrations and got it back working. It found the satellite but
was waiting for hours to complete the tests and connection for it all to
When we arrived, we got water from the water plant here. Carl from Colorado
in the 4 Corners area chatted and gave us lots of info. Later we chose a
patio restaurant on the square in town and he found us again. Lots of chat
.. Barack Obama is a Muslim (OH NO HE ISN”T), he’ll get killed within months
if he gets elected, lots of naturopath and healing chat, all about his uncle
who had property in Los Mochis for decades, his son back from Afghanastan.
Larry had a great burger plate and I had a battered shrimp plate. Both had
good fries, I had rice and a salad.
Today we both have wonky stomachs and Larry has body hurts. What was it? The
food, the new water from here? Too much jostling on the bus and train and
crawling around on the roof on hand and knees? Whatever .. we didn’t do
laundry as we set up with herself, we didn’t get to the Sunday morning
market on the big empty gravel arroyo we turned onto last night .. following
another vehicle … then quickly turned back to a real street. We didn’t enjoy
the fish tacos Carl said are sold at the market. We missed the music on the
square and the Sunday night $1 taco stands that the gringos flock to. Maybe
we would have traveled out to La Aduana to see a great old church and enjoy
a gourmet meal at the hotel there .. only open Wed – Sun the Alamos website
tells me. We already missed the Saturday morning house and garden tour Linda
said not to miss. We’ll have to come back. Now we know what to do!! Alamos
is beautiful. It is now an historic city and Barbara said the government
gave money for all the facades to be fixed up, though many have nothing but
rubble behind them. Many expat Americans and Canadians call it home .. at
least for the winter months .. and have invested money in the town. We
didn’t even go back for photos.
Maybe another day or two here, a few days at El Mirador RV in San Carlos
readying the rig for the border crossing. We already lost 2 lovely apples to
the search team at the Sinaloa – Sonora state line crossing. We think we’ll
cross at Nogales, spending the night before at Magdelina or Santa Ana. Phil
and Linda only waited 45 minutes to cross there on a Monday morning. Rob and
Daph chose Naco and had an easy crossing. Hmmm .. decisions. Naco doesn’t
have a place to turn in the vehicle sticker from the car, so we’d still have
to go to Douglas to return the sticker, and that’s tricky. So many
A few days in Tucson for supplies
and such, then up to the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon and those parks we’ve
never seen .. and on up to DDs in Washington sometime in May. Heidi and the
girls will come for a week in July. We’ll go camping with DD and Murrey. He
loves the ocean but herds us like cattle and sticks close to DD when she’s
We hope Sid and Ruth from Melbourne, Australia are well enough to
travel and join us in Wisconsin after their 45+ year daughter’s Aug 8
wedding. We will try to visit Phil and Linda on Savary Island. Soon we’ll
all return to Mexico and do it again. We’ll go further south next year ..
Mazatlan was unseasonably cold this year. We like it here .. love that ocean
Heidi and the girls met us at the fairgrounds in Manitowoc where we were
camped. Heidi warned us that Emily was being bashful recently and it
took her until the end of a visit to hug the Mohs. So she had her face
snuggled into Mom’s neck when they came from the car .. until I stepped out
of the RV and handed her a big baggie of popcorn. Then I had her ..
and it was all over. She was all smiles and hugs and not a moment more
of bashfulness. She loves popcorn and especially having her OWN big
Jaime came in and looked around. I asked her if she remembered the RV?
Yes. Do you think you will sleep in it again this summer? Yes.
Without Mom?? Yes. Tonight??? YESSssssssss … Yippeeee
We went over to see Larry’s mom and visit awhile. Then we all went to
Late’s for burgers and on to a Kite Fly in Two Rivers. The weather was
wonderful .. warm and windy. Kites galore and Lake Michigan warm
enough for splashing. Later Heidi went home and we had a great night
with our granddaughters.
It was perfect for the new blue bear and red moose pajamas we brought them
from Alaska .. and they loved the silly furry bear and moose hats I couldn’t
resist for them. The next day we went to the Kite Fly again .. this
time wearing new Alaska t-shirts that came in handy. A repeat of the
weather and the fun. There were heaps of BIG kites hovering and lots
of flags and all. Fun fun fun.
We had to take them home that night. Jaime needed a day to recuperate
and get ready for her first day of kindergarten. We went to Tighe’s in
Janesville and enjoyed a great day with them in their pool and the sun.
Then a few days in Madison before we returned to Heidi’s for a few days.
Larry bought a new Olympus E-410 camera, we had our fix of Rocky Rococco’s
pizza and met Mary Ellen Spoerke, Rita Benish and Ken and Sooz Boldt at the
Ale Asylum Brewpub and later enjoyed Chinese at that Wong's Garden near the
Barrymore. Maggie Spoerke took time out from her college activities to
Brian joined UW fans in Las Vegas for a weekend of frolic. We asked if
we could stay with Emily so Heidi could go to work and she was only too
willing to save some vacation days. My nephew Tom Schiesl and family
live in Cedarburg and we had them over for dinner Friday night. We had
a nice visit with Tom and Meg and the girls loved playing with Callie and
Colin. We went to the Milwaukee Mots Kite Festival Saturday and Sunday at
Veteran’s Park on Lake Michigan. Again .. great weather but not as
windy .. so not so many big floaty kites. Their friend Madison was
with us Saturday and Heidi’s co-worker Elizabeth and husband and daughter
Grace were there Sunday. All the girls are good kite flyers.
After that fun, we returned to Madison for Dr. appointments. Larry
developed a pilonidal cyst, diagnosed by friends Mary and Susie in Puerto
Vallarta. It was pretty painful by this time and we anticipated some
surgery and recuperation time. But the Dr. didn’t see it as that bad
and prescribed a weeks antibiotic treatment, after which there is no pain
and the cyst is shrunken. It’s still there, so perhaps another time ..
Brian brought the girls to Madison on one of his UW football weekends.
We had fun at Ella’s Deli .. food and riding the carousel, eating and
watching planes at the Jet Room restaurant at Madison Aviation, and playing
in the new children’s area and carousel at the Madison Zoo. They love
eating at Culvers because a kid’s meal includes an ice cream sundae with any
toppings they choose. They were exhausted by the time we returned them
home on Sunday. We carried on for a Craig Ferguson performance at the
Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee. Craig is the host of the Late
Late Show on CBS following David Letterman. He has a delightful
Scottish accent and an impish humor, but at the Pabst he just looked like
any poorly dressed comedian jumping around onstage. He needs the nice
suit and the camera close-ups to be the Craig we love.
We drove to Manitowoc that same night so we could take Larry’s Mom to an eye
Dr appt the next day. Then we spent a few quiet days camped at Norman.
We drove around my old home from childhood around Cooperstown and Denmark,
had a Kroll’s hamburger in Green Bay, and stocked the freezer with sausages
from Konop’s Meats in Stangelsville. Somehow we missed knowing about
them until Mary Ellen Spoerke said she had a Konop’s wiener for lunch one
day. Well .. were we missing out on something great. Their
wieners are just smoky links of heaven .. and they have a zillion
interesting brat varieties. We chose Cajun and jalapeño. We got
a big bag of luscious for $26 and saved most of them for Mexico.
What next? Back to Madison for Mike Denu’s wedding .. youngest son of
Jim and Jo Schulze Denu .. at the Inn On the Park. That’s Schulzie .. from
college days. Then sheepshead with Kim Braatz and the guys at the
Union, beers at the Blue Moon and dinner with friends at Lulu’s, a trip to
the Madison Farmers Market and the Food for Thought Festival with Sooz Boldt,
beers with friends at Capital Brewery, beers at the Cannery in Sun Prairie
with Rita Benish and Ken Boldt .. and more.
In October there were 2 Saturday’s when UW football had away games, so we
were able to get Heidi and Brian to go away for a week so we could play
Grandma and Grandpa at home with the girls. But first they needed a
newly installed laminate floor to be redone, so we got to take Emily away
for 2 whole days. We headed to Manitowoc and planned to park at the
fairgrounds again, but water was already shut off for the season. So
we visited with Larry’s Mom briefly and made a Late’s run .. then headed to
Two Rivers to a little campground we didn’t know about on the west twin
river .. a Passport America savings.
Thursday we headed to Green Bay and met cousins and Aunt Peg at Kroll’s East
.. a tradition we started a couple of years back. Last year cousin
Bernadine Kane VandeYacht bought lunch .. and called it her funeral lunch.
At first we gasped .. then agreed what a fun idea. So this year we
bought lunch and called it brother Pat’s funeral lunch .. since there were
no public bereavement activities when he died in late August. It was
fun … Aunt Peg, Mary and Lynne Rasmussen, Doris and Amy Halbrook, Bernadine
Kane VandeYacht, Terry and Mary Kane and Kathy Kane Konop. The next
day we had another funeral lunch for Pat at Kroll’s West where
brother-in-law Donny and friend Mary came early from Eagle River in their
motorhome for the Packer-Bear football game. This time we dined with
Aunt Peg and Amy Kane, niece Jody Schiesl Vandeurzen, Terry and Mary Kane,
and Bill Kane. Emily was such a good traveler.
At night we picked up Larry’s Mom and met Kathy Woija at the Pizza Garden in
Manitowoc. When I called her to set it up a few nights earlier, Kathy
happened to be on the south beltline in Madison and we were just leaving the
Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb after dinner with Jo and Jim Denu. Kathy had
some time, so we met at the T.J.Whitney Brewpub on Whitney Way and caught up
on the year.
We brought Emily home Friday night so Heidi and Brian could spend time with
her before their trip. The next morning Diane Gerl Sedlacek came from
Manitowoc and we visited Joy King in Milwaukee. Joy is a dear senior
friend Diane and I met 25 years ago at Women’s Week at Girl Scout Camp at
Madison’s Camp Blackhawk outside Antigo. Joy and Herald traveled every
state and all provinces but Newfoundland. She is such a delightful
person and so happy and thrilled to hear about our adventures. We get
a chance to talk about us .. and we love that. She had a hip
replacement days after we visited her last year and recommends it. She
now lives in a brand new retirement complex near Columbia hospital.
She and Herald had just moved from Sycamore, IL to a wonderful apartment
building overlooking Veteran’s Park on Prospect Street 5 years ago just
before we retired. We visited them when I stayed with Heidi and Jaime
in the hospital when Heidi needed a skin graft from the burn she got during
Jaime’s C-section birth a few weeks earlier. Herald was very ill and
died within 2 months. I was diagnosed with hepatitis A about 9 days
after visiting them and bringing and serving food to her. I had to
call and advise her to get a gamaglobulin shot. Joy hesitated this
time when I
said we could go out for lunch, so we got some deli food and stuff from the
RV and brought in a picnic that she just loved and enjoyed the leftovers.
That afternoon we sent Heidi and Brian off to casino night at Brady Corp, an
honor for employees with 10+ years of service. The next day they flew to
Phoenix / Tempe for a week without kids. They considered going to
Toronto but feared it might be cold. Instead .. Tempe was 100 degrees
and the hotel pool was under repair. They don’t think they made a good
After the usual drama from Jaime we settled in for the week. Larry got
the dogs back OK when she opened the gate and they dashed out … she stopped
crying and pouting eventually. It was a busy week .. getting Jaime up
and out for the school bus and back home later, cooking, shopping and all.
I took Emily to get her picture taken at Sears and they turned out adorable.
The woman taking the pictures had absolutely no bedside manner and would
tell her how to pose and to stand in the middle of the rug etc .. and being
a 2.5 year child genius, she managed to pull it off. I thought I might
take them both in for a picture together, but never made that.
Cousin Mary Kay Halbrook Hudson lives near Heidi, so we arranged to meet her
and 3 year old daughter Helen at the neighborhood park one day. Cousin
Dorothy Kane VanPatten and Van also came with their granddaughter. We
all went over to Heidi’s for some lunch after the girls played. It was
fun. I hadn’t seen either cousin for lots of years and only ever saw
Mary Kay when she and DD were little .. well over 30 years ago.
We had Pom class and Mactober fest at Jaime’s Macarthur School. Loud
awful music but did the girls have fun. Jaime found a few classmates
and they chased each other all around the gym. Emily soon joined in
and had so much fun. Jaime’s teacher Mrs. Books had her kindergarten
daughter Savannah with her. I introduced Emily to Mrs. Books, she
introduced us to Savannah .. then Emily took a reluctant Savannah by the
hand, led her back into the gym and got her involved in the frolicking with
Jaime and her friends. It was such a neat thing for her to do.
They were so good we got ice cream later.
The next day we drove to Manitowoc and visited with Larry’s Mom and lunch at
Late’s, back home to feed the dogs, then south to the Racine area for a nice
dinner and evening with Brian’s sister and family and Brian’s mom and dad.
It was a long fun day and everyone slept in Sunday. Then it was
laundry, clean up because Heidi and Brian were coming home from Phoenix /
Brian called us Saturday night at Colleen’s. They had packed up their
bags, ready to fly Sunday, and gone out for the afternoon. When they
returned, their card key didn’t open the door. A guy had asked at the
front desk for a key to their room, some moron gave it to him no questions
asked, and he proceeded to take all of their belongings except for the
clothes they had out for return travel and their toiletries. They were
devastated and mad as he!! of course. The Day’s Inn staff were not
helpful, sympathetic, sorry .. nothing. They called the police and
spent 3 hours with them. Days Inn said file an insurance claim.
Today .. 2 months later .. no detective is working on it as a case and Brian
cannot make a phone connection with anyone at the hotel or the Days Inn
chain. The main losses were Heidi’s work computer, their digital
camera and gifts for the girls. Heidi had a bad cough and went to a Dr.
there. Her prescribed meds were even stolen. And Brian had his
car keys in his backpack, so I brought them their spares. Now they
have to figure out what to do next to get some justice, as Days Inn is not
cooperating in their mandate to ‘just file an insurance claim’.
We journeyed back to Madison and had a last meal with Rita Benish in Sun
Prairie. The next day we had the RV oil changed, etc. and bought our
last minute victuals .. Woodman’s super sharp cheddar cheese, Johnsonville
garlic summer sausage, Bagels Forever bagels, Rural Route 1 popcorn,
Delatalia Porta salad topping and dressing. A last night and meal with
the Tighe’s in Janesville .. and we headed west .. with a stop for limburger
cheese and braunschweiger sausage at Baumgartners in Monroe
We spent an evening with Ted and Mona Thieman and dog Snerzie in Petersburg,
Nebraska. We met them on South Padre Island last winter and had a
great fun New Year’s Eve and more with them. It was fun to see their
hometown, their home in town and their farm outside of town where they keep
their 5th wheel parked and have beef cattle grazing in the adjacent field.
They took us to their Albion Country Club for a nice dinner and the next
morning we had kolaches and coffee cake we brought from the Clarkson Bakery
where we’d spent the previous night and Ted recommended we make a stop.
They will spend November and December in a condo on South Padre Island and
travel to Haines, Alaska for 3 weeks late January to experience the snow and
cold and northern lights. What fun!!!!
We were hurrying to see the Haggerbaumers in Superior, CO. Mary
Ellen Spoerke, Carol’s sister, was visiting them from Madison and we all
needed a little bonding. Carol, Rick and Masha moved there this summer
from the Memphis area. If you look at last year’s log, you’ll see our
visit with them there last October. They can run but they can’t hide.
The Clampett’s will find them. We were able to park and level the rig
across the street without violating the neighborhood too much. Carol
is a super cook and just kept feeding us and we didn’t really complain.
We provided the sausage and cheese and lots of Trader Joe’s wine and they
didn’t complain either. Larry made his famous ham and egg sandwiches
for them and Rick added great hash browns. Carol and Mary Ellen
Loberger are friends since I started 1st grade with Carol in Cooperstown.
We woke Sunday to snow covering the ground. Brrrrrr … again it seems
we started too late. All we wanted to do was snuggle in and laze
around a real house. We should have met up with Jack at the Gordon
Biersch Brewery .. but were too lazy .. and bypassed the best chance we had
to meet him. We met Linda and Howard at the Riviera RV Resort in Texas
last year and Howard passed our website on to his sister Cindy Bruner in the
Denver area. She invited us for beers with her and husband Jack when
we were in the area. Unfortunately for us all, we picked the week she
and later Jack were flying to New Jersey for Howard’s son’s wedding.
By the time they returned we had ourselves ensconced outside Colorado
Springs and neither of us wanted to drive the distance on a weekday evening.
Next time… Jack is a beer connoisseur, says he, and has tales of lots of
tasting in England and we want to hear more about a canal boat trip they all
did in England using a timeshare exchange .. or some such.
Friend Tracey from Colorado Springs also left town that week .. so we found
a nice Passport America campground out in the desert to wait for her return.
I started to get what I thought was sinus / lung stuff from smoke from the
California fires .. but after weeks of hacking and snorting and Larry a week
behind, we determined it was just some damn bug. We rested, we enjoyed
the warm days, we shopped getting ready for Mexico travel, and Larry
designed redesigned reredesigned and finally bought the fittings to install
another battery to store the solar panel energy to help us dry camp in more
comfort. The project was a success.
We were noticing that the braking system on the Kia was acting up since we
got to Colorado. It just kept running and pumping all the time, so we
had to stop using it. A guy at Camping World said some systems have a
problem in higher altitudes. Larry got the serial number and such, the
guy called Roadmaster, a few more calls and they were sending a new one to
the campground with a paid label to return ours. Now that is excellent
When Tracey got back we had two luscious meals and pretty good beer with
them at the Phantom Canyon Brewery. The food was so good I wanted to
go back and try everything on the menu. It was great to finally meet
Roger and to catch up with Tracey. We last visited 12 years ago and
the first time 19 years ago. Tracey and I worked together at OSI in
Madison before that and she is such a hoot. We were both pretty
excited Mary Kay consultants for a couple years and had much fun at the July
seminars in Dallas .. and DD was a success there with us too.
By now it was Halloween. We still hadn’t decided on Mexico insurance
so we didn’t hurry. We got out the Road Food book and let it determine
our course into New Mexico. We made our way towards Sugars in Embudo
for brisket burritos. The route was most beautiful and it was a good
choice. And the burrito was so good we almost camped nearby so we
could come again. Instead we carried on as planned and stayed the
night outside Santa Fe so we could be nearby to San Marcos Café in Cerillos
for breakfast. It was a big rambling place with a feedmill and puppies
and turkeys and peacocks peering in the windows at us. The patrons
were very 60’s and nicely aged yuppies. The food was very nice, great
coffee and interesting cinnamon rolls. Good choice.
We holed up next for a few days at Lakeside RV in Elephant Butte, NM.
A lady at Mountaindale RV in CO Springs said it was another nice Passport
America campground. It was a good park, but no lake view.
Elephant Butte Lake is a reservoir formed behind a dam. A Ted
Turner ranch occupies the entire other side and the village side is all
state park. We moved to a remote state park campground for 5 nights
and it was so peaceful and wonderful. We heard coyotes one night and a
roadrunner was spotted. I finished up the Alaska report from there,
rested, and we decided to go with the most expensive comprehensive Mexico
insurance we found. We decided a few hundred $$ wouldn’t seem so
important if we didn’t have partial theft and plane tickets out in case of
emergency. Elephant Butte is next to Truth or Consequences, so we took
that in too and got great haircuts and some shopping. T or C, as the
locals call it, is a spa town and friend Rita recommended a soak, but it was
so bloody hot and lovely that we couldn’t fathom getting the bods into a hot
tub at the time.
Next we traveled thru Gila National Forest to visit the Gila Cliff
Dwellings. It was a lovely drive and the longest mountain passes we’ve
met yet. We dry camped at Forks Campground 2 nights and visited the
dwellings. It is a lovely 1 mile loop hike to the dwellings. We
got a nice tour from a volunteer woman from South Carolina.
Archeological evidence suggests that many different groups of people have
inhabited the area over thousands of years. The Mogollon peoples built
inside the caves between 1270 and 1300 .. determined by testing timbers used
in the structures. But there is evidence that earlier peoples used the
caves first. Weather was great and it was a nice visit. We drove
around, got the girls some treasures at the Trading Post, visited Gila Hot
Springs and drove to the lookout we didn’t want to stop at with the RV.
Nina and Richard from Fairbanks were at Forks packing up their Bike Fridays
when we returned to the RV. They said they were behind us on the way
in the day before and noticed our Bike Fridays. We invited them for
wine and starters and had an interesting visit.
We spent a few days in Silver City and enjoyed the Rose Valley Ranch RV
park. We enjoyed Mexican food, the college museum with more
information on the Mogollons and pottery, shopped, enjoyed Silver City
Brewery beer and pizza and toured Pinos Altos. I started to feel
better … Larry was peaking.
Our last days before Mexico we camped in Benson, AZ. We stayed there
earlier this year and liked the little town. We got good haircuts
there, but couldn’t hold out that long this time. We looked for a
Coast to Coast campground, but 5-6 campgrounds in the area left that
affiliation this year, since the book was printed. We are getting very
disgruntled with CtoC. So we chose yet another Passport America offering ..
Cochise Terrace RV Park. It was a ways out of town, but is a wonderful
park .. nice pool and hot tub … good choice we felt. We sure got our
Passport America membership value already.
We went into Tucson one day for Camping World, Big Lots and Trader Joe’s
stops. After much reading, we decided we would fill our holding tank
with Mexico water, add bleach, then put a filter on the kitchen faucet to
filter out the chlorine. When the new Brita filter is on the faucet, there
remains no clearance to rinse anything. So we needed a higher one.
It was hotter than all get out, but we did lots of shopping. We used
up all the refrigerator things so we could stock up on more Johnsonville
brats and get a ham and fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner sometime.
We ordered a volume control module for the TV that should handle the LOUD
commercials followed by the not as loud programming. Two day shipping
didn’t serve us well, so we postponed our Mexico entry until the day after
Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day we moved to Patagonia State Park so we
would be in spitting distance of Nogales and the border for our assault the
next morning. The park was full of families enjoying the school break.
It still amazes our Wisconsin sensibilities to think of camping at
Thanksgiving … instead of deer hunting and freezing. We drove into
Nogales hoping to get pesos and maps of Mexico, but found neither. We
did get more goodies at Big Lots … love their Bloody Mary mix.
The next morning we got up and out early, but after dumping and filling the
water tank and stopping for pesos and petrol, we still didn’t cross the
border until nearly 11am. I hit our first tope .. big honking speed
bump .. right at the border where we were funneled into a narrow lane and
there were signs everywhere so I was looking up and not down. Serious
growling from esposo. We were going slow, but it did toss a lot of
carefully stacked stuff around and send 12 packs of soda sliding and spilled
my oh-so-crowded closet. I knew about them .. you must STOP
completely, then ease each set of wheels over the bump gently. I
didn’t miss any more.
There was quite a queue at KM21 where you stop for visas and vehicle
permits. We were chatting with folks around us and the line wasn’t
moving. Some time later a guy found out they ran out of visa forms.
Here .. at immigration .. no visa forms??? No .. no .. say it isn’t so.
Soon a guy came by carrying a big box of forms. We all cheered and
clapped. It went pretty quickly and easily from there. They
whisked us thru, no worries. We had lots of copies of all our
important documents plus originals and the vehicle permits were easy too.
Best of all, no one stopped us to ask any questions about our vehicles or
contents and we were waved right on thru. Would that have been so if
we had brought a nice case of Trader Joe’s wine?
The toll road is OK but oh so narrow. Semis and buses whizzing past
all the time and a big 8-10” drop off to no shoulder. Scary stuff.
Three tolls later we drove around Hermosillo .. a pretty big city, lots of
traffic .. we went thru on a Friday rush hour. Everyone uses the book
Mexican Camping by Mike and Terri Church and they give great
directions for every turn.
We were headed to Bahia Kino, the first beach on the coast. It is 65
miles from Hermosillo to Kino and it was close to dusk when we hit the road
to Kino. The road was lovely … wide, shoulders. But we soon
figured out that the best thing to do is to drive way to the right .. in the
shoulder lane and a bit in the driving lane .. because everyone passes
whether traffic is coming at you or not. Gringos here say they call it
a 3-lane road because everyone acts as if the middle of the road is a
Soon the sun was blinding us, then sunset, then dusk, then dark .. but not
real black dark. You read often NEVER drive at night in Mexico.
Banditos, animals, vehicles without lights … We knew .. but carried on
carefully so we could make it to Kino. Phewww … we drove into Kino Bay
RV about 7pm … weary and thankful to arrive unscathed. This is another
Passport America campground. I was able to write a check for payment
the next morning. Imagine .. in Mexico!! We planned to stay the
2 nights allowed .. although I don’t think they realized there is a limit
here .. and look around and pick the best park for a longer stay.
We paid the next morning and on the way back to the RV we lingered at a most
attractive permanent site we’d admired the night before. Ivette from
Reno came out and took over. We toured her and Bob’s lovely winter
home, she told us all about the park, the people, the water and the town,
then we followed her to Club Deportivo for a tour. The Club is THE
social element of the town. The winter tourists and year round locals
are members and it offers golf, club dinners and breakfasts, dances,
parties, happy hours, book club, library, etc as well as a First Response
program for boaters and medical emergencies for the area. It looks
like a fun place and the members are very proud of it. We came out
with tickets to a steak fry that evening.
We biked and drove around checking out other RV parks. The one that
appealed to us … that had camping right on the beach .. has been bulldozed
and fenced. A new one on the beach looks like all permanent spots,
each with a big fancy roof. Another facing the beach looked like pretty
close quarters. Islandia in Old Kino looked full and not quite right.
We best liked a tired little park next to Sta Gemma hotel. Bruce from
BC had just arrived in his truck camper and we chatted. Larry had his
meter along to check the electric. The sewer fittings looked very
suspect. It is $15 a night. The beach is right there .. there’s
a Tacos Bar across the street … the rig is almost too long for the spots …
but we like it. Mañana we’ll move here.
The steak fry was much better than we expected. How they grill 140
steaks all at once and they turn out good is a credit to them. Each
meal has sponsors who contribute $150-200 for the meal. They might be
involved in the preparation and serving or they might not, as they choose.
Member volunteers do all the buying, cooking and serving. They hire a
few locals to clean up. The club has a local Mexican man running the
place. Moneys from ticket sales go toward running the club and to the
many community projects the club supports, especially holiday gifts and
parties for local school children. It was a fun and interesting
evening. Myron is a good friend of Ivette and Bob’s and was at our
table. He is an 86 year old farmer from Iowa who drives down here
every year with his motorhome and boat and goes fishing as often as he can.
Ivette says he has tales of his days in Normany in WWII.
The next morning we moved to Posada Sta Gemma RV Park. Ivette and Bob
were heading home to Reno for Christmas and we were sure hoping they’d be
gone early so we could slip out. But they were slower than we were, so
we had to acknowledge our departure. Bob warned us to ‘watch our
stuff’ over here.
We invited Bruce and a new couple Cynthia and Richard from Oregon to
Thanksgiving dinner that evening. We cooked up the ham, sweet
potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and rolls and had us a feast. Bruce
had been driving non-stop for a week and Cynthia and Richard had 2 Mexican
Thanksgiving dinners already … but the ham hit the spot for all of us.
Cynthia made a wonderful huge green salad which fit in perfectly. Only
we wished we had that case of Trader Joe’s wine to fill out the meal. Tecate beer did just fine.
We had two restful weeks there by the bay. Most days dolphins would
pass by grazing their way up and down the coast. Pelicans were plentiful and
we put up our hummingbird feeder for the first time and had a few takers
Vicki and Gerry Jacobs stopped by when they noticed our WA plates.
They are from Oregon and have been full timing 9 years with interludes of
backpacking trips to places like Laos, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Nicaragua,
Panama, Argentina and more. Next year they’ll backpack South Africa
and eastern Europe countries. Their first adventure after retirement
was to ship their Westfalia van to Germany and drive and camp Europe and
Turkey for over a year. What tales and information they have!!
Of course we invited them for beers. And a guy came by selling tamales
.. so I got a dozen and expanded the visit into happy hour. We got the
tamales twice, chili rellanos once and a kilo of big blue shrimp for $11.
What a great country!
Phil and Linda with pups Sage and Teddy moved in. They retired from
college teaching in Alberta to a home on Savary Island on the coast in
British Columbia. They must take a watertaxi to / from the mainland
for groceries and appointments and all and keep a truck on the mainland to
get to them. They set up shrimp and crab pots and enjoy the fruits of
the sea in the summer. They use solar power and heat with wood and
propane. We had lots of fun with them, happy hour sharings and all ..
and went to dinner with them and Vicki and Gerry one night. There are
a handful of restaurants in Neuvo Kino and each has a special one or more
evenings a week. We enjoyed a pork chop dinner with margarita for $6
at the Tacos Bar across the street, a Mexican plate with enchilada, tamale,
chili rellanos and fixings and margarita at Jorge’s for $7, and a fried
shrimp, oyster, scallop dinner for $7.50 at La Palapa another night.
Ivette and Bob told us the water there was not harmful but very salty.
They use it as is for all but drinking. So our filter idea wouldn’t
work here, as it would still be salty we thought. So we stored our
good AZ water in every container we could muster and lived off that for
awhile, then went to the store and bought a 5 gallon bottle.
We were parked next to a house. Dale came for a chat one day. He
is a Dr. from Colorado Springs and very friendly. We offered him the
use of our WiFI and he was appreciative. He and Liz had us in for
Happy Hour and we got to see their lovely winter home and learn more about
the area and the gringo Winter Mexicans.
We are going to miss Kino Bay. It is quiet and there is little to do
or buy .. but our spot right above the sand beach and the sea views will be
hard to find further south. This area and our next destination of San
Carlos are rare as they have both mountains and desert right by the sea.
It is a temptation to think about buying one of the few remaining empty
spots along the sea and build an RV pad or a little stucco home … but we
still have so much to see and do that we do just think about it.
Next we drive to Guaymas / San Carlos, spend a few days at Totonaka RV park
before we ‘go on vacation’ for our timeshare week at Sea of Cortez Premiere
Vacation Club in San Carlos. We’ll meet up with Vicki and Gerry and
Phil and Linda again for a quick visit before Phil and Linda continue south.
We must get to Mazatlan and figure out where the RV will be when we are at
Pueblo Bonito with Mary and Carl Tighe and Ruth Kahl .. and at Villa
Mazatlan at El Cid Resort with DD, Heidi, Jaime, Emily and friend Natanya.
We rented the Villa from Jole Torres, sent him the signed contract,
deposited $2k in a Wells Fargo account .. and haven’t heard from him since.
His last promise was to email and mail the signed contract. Stay tuned
to see if we enjoy the villa .. or if we are scammed and must go to the
We had one last breakfast with Deirdre and Murrey at our
Testy Chef restaurant, packed the last bits and took off a few days
before Memorial Day weekend. We stopped for the 3rd and final part for
our refrigerator, which should make it work on GAS setting at any
temperature … and not tick tick tick tick and start or quit. Next stop
Camping World for a protector bag
for the new tow bar on the back of the RV. Stopped for two nights at
one of our
K/M Resorts to drink up
our excess alcohol before crossing into Canada, as 2 liters is the limit ..
one per person. We biked around Blaine and enjoyed the pool.
We got advice from other campers on where to cross into Canada. We
hoped to avoid a search. We crossed at Lyndon and it was quick and
painless. We scooted around Vancouver and took Hy 99 to
Whistler. What a
beautiful drive and how lovely Whistler is. Vancouver is preparing for
the 2010 Winter Olympics, so
lots of work on Hy 99 to Whistler. It was nice to go slow and absorb
the beauty. Whistler is a lovely little town, like an Alp village ..
all new and brick. A few skiers were still riding up the tram and
mountain bikers as well. We might have stayed another day to bike
around, but the rain the next morning dampened our enthusiasm. We
enjoyed beers at a brewpub and dinner and music at an
We continued on to Prince George and to
Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the
Alaska Highway. For several days we’d see many of the same people each
night and at stops during the day. On thru Fort Nelson to Watson Lake
and into the Yukon. We saw about 10 black bears, a cinnamon bear or
two and a variety of sheep and bison along the way. The scenery was
always good, except perhaps before Dawson Creek. Fun stops were
Fraser Cove Campground
and Dawson Creek. Fun Yukon stops included
River Hot Springs, rhubarb pie at
Dawson’s Peak, the
Museum, and dinner, free camping and free boat ride at
Salmon Bake. There are plenty of services all along the way .. fuel,
restaurants, groceries. The
book starts at Dawson Creek and describes every mile of the way into and
around Alaska. Very helpful. We also used Mike and Terri Church’s book
Traveler’s Guide to Alaska Camping.
By June 4 we were in
Whitehorse and had a lovely dinner with Janice and Pierre Germaine and
son Cole at their home in the country. We met Janice and Pierre in Australia
in 2003 but only knew their first names and that they live in Whitehorse. We
had to stalk them down and found them thru the Whitehorse Tourism
Department, leading us to meet Jeanette Bringsli and Oliver from the
department. We enjoyed a lot of wings and pitchers of Chilkoot Lager from
the Yukon Brewing Company with
Oliver and his friends on the deck of the
High Country Inn, then saw a
wonderful local performance of Anne of Green Gables with Jeanette and her
daughter. It made Whitehorse the most memorable time of our Canadian
We next considered our route, and, on Janice’s recommendation, saved the Top
of the World Highway route for the return trip. We decided to go next
to Haines, as we wouldn’t be crossing Haines Junction again. Oliver
was excited about the
Kluane Bluegrass Festival coming up in Haines Junction over the weekend.
We considered it, but then were too cheap to pay a whole bunch of $$$, so we
headed to Haines. It is 150 miles from Haines Junction to Haines, with
no services. The road is beautiful, wide, lots of braided rivers and
mountains .. but no food, fuel, nothing but a couple of primitive camp
spots. We soon found ourselves in the snowcapped peaks we just saw
from back there. We pulled into Haines on fumes, we thought, but only
needed 30 gallons of fuel, so learned something about our gas tank that day.
Thanks to Mike and Terri’s book, we chose to park at
Oceanside RV, right on the waters
of Lynn Canal. Joyce the owner said they sometimes see humpback whales
right out there … but not on our watch. That was Thursday.
Saturday when we got in the car to tour, the brakes were mushy. We
drove carefully and visited two repair shops Monday. Either could
check it out on Thursday. We wound up spending two weeks at Oceanside
while brake replacement parts came from Juneau and Anchorage and were
to We enjoyed growlers of beer from the
Haines Brewing Company, which is located inside the set of the original
White Fang movie. We drove and biked to
State Park hoping to see bears and drove to
State Park to view Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers. We flew over
Glacier Bay with
Drake in a small
intimate plane and saw an energetic performance by The
Wilders from Kansas City on
their way to Anchorage from that bluegrass festival we passed up. We
loved every meal at the
Bakery, especially the special evening Thai meals. We enjoyed a
burger fry at the Legion and Father’s Day Brunch at the Elks Club. We
Battery Point Trail and enjoyed the many bald eagles around Haines and
Chilkat Bald Eagle
American Bald Eagle Museum
is a fun visit and is where we learned about cinnamon black bears and
realized that’s what we’d seen along the road, not grizzlies as we had
thought. There are 3000 eagles in the Chilkoot Valley between October
and January, they say, with a peak in mid-November. Campground owners
Joyce and Kerri had 2 crab leg pot lucks and cooked us up
fresh-from-the-ocean crab. Yummm … Paula and Rick Garrett from
Minnesota were parked next to us most of the two weeks and we followed each
other’s adventures in Alaska. We had a really fun night with a German
couple, Heidi and Sigfried somebody from British Columbia, who wanted us to
visit them on our trip down the Cassiar Highway, then we never heard from
them again. Almost every night from 8:30 until 10pm up to 5 big cruise
ships sailed across the canal from us, going from Skagway toward Juneau.
It was magic.
When we picked up the car $600 later, the key immediately got stuck in the
ignition and stayed there until a nice mechanic in Homer extricated it 2
weeks later. In the meantime we had to be very careful. Once I
left the lights on because the car always dinged from the key in the
ignition and I didn’t check. A lady in a gift store across the street
was watching for us and gave Larry the keys to her SUV so we could jump the KIA. Then we didn’t run it long enough after the jump and even though
we drove it to the harbor the next morning, it was dead again in the evening
when we returned from a glacier cruise. This problem turned out to be
the key. The keys given us when we bought the car were duplicates made
on the wrong key base. A nice locksmith in Anchorage fixed that for
us. There was a good key tucked in with the spare tire that he could
After Haines, we saw no sheep at
Mountain, enjoyed a night on beautiful
Kluane Lake, were
disappointed by the dearth of good souvenirs at
Yukon, and crossed back into Alaska. Everyone driving passes
Tok both in and out. We stopped for lunch at a big restaurant and
sat next to a couple from Australia traveling in a big 5th Wheeler they
bought on Ebay from a Michigan dealer, pulled by a truck they bought on the
internet from Georgia. They plan to ship both home after their tour.
What an adventure. Even signing up for a cell phone required
creativity, as they said Verizon tracks by social security number.
Halfway across the country they had to organize car insurance, as it comes
with vehicle registration in Australia and they never thought it would be
otherwise here. Luckily someone called to ask about it.
We headed to
Valdez, as we had a
great glacier tour from there in 1999. We had an adventure that night
at our campground at
Larry turned the circuit breaker off in the RV as he often does, then
plugged into the electric box. I stepped into the RV just then and
heard arcing and sparking and smelled burning. He pulled it back out
immediately. Turned out this was a new box and was wired wrong.
Luckily the surge protector saved us. Larry warned another couple in a
rental RV and they were grateful for it. It took some convincing and
some meter readings to convince management, but then they apologized,
returned our camping fee, and I weaseled breakfast out of them too.
They will pay for any repairs we may need to the surge protector.
The trip to Valdez is beautiful. We stopped at
Worthington Glacier and we ran into the Bob Tolly family from the
Madison area. I worked with Bob at SPC years ago and hadn’t seen him
since the Madison office closed in 1994. Isn’t that amazing? They were
on a quick one week Alaska tour. Soon we were driving alongside the
oil pipeline. Thomson Pass is beautiful.
On to Valdez and a great 9 hour boat tour with
Stan Stephens Cruises to
see the Mears and Colombia glaciers. We saw great glacier calving,
several humpback and orca whales, lots of seals, puffins, sea lions, sea
otters and a huge occupied grass bald eagle’s nest. A store in Valdez
shows continuous videos of the building of the oil pipeline and another of
the 1964 earthquake. Both are wonderful. Marcie and John who
Larry warned about the electricity at Kenney Lake parked next to us along
the shore. Marcie forgot they were leaving in a few days and bought
too many groceries. We benefited from her mistake and took lots of
milk, cereal, nuts, hot chocolate mix, lettuce, and best of all .. cans of
smoked oysters. Thanks Marcie. We hope to visit them in Santa Fe
On toward Anchorage along the Glenn Highway, with good views of the
Anchorage has way too few RV parks. We were lucky to get into a better
We met Wisconsin friend Lynne Snifka at the Snow Goose Restaurant above the
Sleeping Lady Brewpub and caught
up on events since we last saw her in 1999. Later we checked out some
souvenir shops and I got the girls little jammies … one blue with black
bears and one red with moose. Nice long sleeved tops and bottoms that
will keep them warm all winter. The
Alaska Scottish Highland
Games in Eagle River made us nostalgic for our days in Scotland.
After a few days we headed to the Kenai Peninsula. We thought heading
south on a Sunday would be good, but there was lots of traffic in both
directions. We free camped on Peterson Lake to and from Homer and saw
a small black bear one night. We reserved a spot in a pricey campground on
the Homer Spit
because we thought
July 4 week would be a busy one. Turned out there was lots of space in
the $15 dry camping city campgrounds. We enjoyed our $70 a night spot
right on the water, in walking distance of spit fishing and services, like
the Salty Dawg Saloon, and in
biking and driving distance of town with museums and shopping. Homer
calls itself the halibut fishing capital of the world.
Homer Brewery calls it a quaint little drinking village with a fishing
The newspapers advertised several activities for July 4th. We chose to
bike to a pig roast at the Down East Saloon, a rugged establishment south of
town where we imbibed in 1999 when we biked up a very steep hill nearby to
Brigitte’s Bavarian Bed and Breakfast. Imagine our surprise when a
sign on the door announced the roast as a pot luck. We hung out with
beers feeling stung, watching people eat for awhile. Then Larry asked
and the barmaid said .. just help yourself. It was a very local event
and locals knew to bring food. So we enjoyed, and the price?
Free. Yep … and we declined the horshoe competition following dinner.
Later we returned to ‘downtown’ for the parade. No bands, but lots of
floats, enthusiasm, candy, flags and a few horses.
We enjoyed visits to the
that we visited in 1999. They had a birdcam then where you could watch
nesting birds on a nearby island. Now they have a bearcam as well.
With National Geographic, they have two cameras at the
State Brown Bear Sanctuary mid-July til September when the bears are
fishing for chum salmon. When the museum is open there is often a
ranger operating the camera controls and zooming in on bear activity.
Off hours the cameras catch a wide zoomed view. They capture some
footage and you can view it year-round at the site.
Fun things we learned in Alaska concerned animal names. Brown bears
live in the interior and feed mostly on plants. Grizzlies are bigger brown
bears that feed on salmon near the coast. Kodiaks are even bigger
brown bears found on Kodiak Island. Reindeer are farmed / domesticated
caribou. Who knew?
Thanks to recommendations on
Advisor, we had a wonderful dinner at
Café Cups .. and enjoyed a few growlers from the Homer Brewery, once
with brats at their little brat stand. A nice guy gave us 3 packages
of frozen halibut one day, and acted like we did HIM a favor. Larry
marinated them in olive oil, garlic and onions, grilled them and we had 3
scrumptious meals with them. We drove up to Brigitte’s one evening and
were amazed at the steep distance we biked in 1999. Brigitte saw us
stop and we had a chat with her and Willie. She didn’t remember us,
but seemed happy that we took time to check them out again.
We dry camped in a waterfront city campground in
took a cruise. In 1999, the harbor was full of cute little sea otters
floating around on their backs with their cute little hands and feet
sticking out. We also saw our best whales on the Kenai Fiords National
Parks cruise. Now we saw one otter, one seal, no whales, and almost
didn’t get to see the Aialik Glacier as the seas were rough. A trip to
the Alaska SeaLife Center shows
a glimpse of the vast research being done to figure out why sealife
distribution is changing. The simple answer may be movement in the
food supply. The Center is a great place to see the sealife and get a
close view of the elusive puffins that dart about so quickly that they’re
hard to see and photograph from the boat cruise.
We drove to
Exit Glacier, but were too lazy to hike it again. Instead we drove
toward Whittier and took the
Glacier boat tour. Our tour guide was Cassie Bauer from Sheboygan.
She doesn’t know our Kampman friends from Sheboygan. We didn’t pay to
drive the new tunnel to Whittier, as the town was not much to visit in 1999
when we trained there from Anchorage to take the car ferry to Valdez, and
current descriptions don’t indicate much improvement.
After a brief stop in Anchorage to get safe working keys for the Kia on the
correct key base, we carried on to
Talkeetna. Were we
surprised to find it was the weekend for the
Moose Dropping Festival .. and the RV Park was full. Luckily they
were allowing free camping at the middle school nearby, convenient to the
pancake breakfasts and Moose Drop Dropping raffle at the VFW and to downtown
for the parade, music, booths and food. The event included an auction
of moose decorated by local artists for the Moose on Parade, much like the
cow or other animal decorating cities sponsor. For the VFW raffle,
shellacked and numbered moose poop is hauled up in the air in a net and then
dropped on a huge bullseye covering the VFW parking lot. Raffle numbers
correspond to numbers on moose poop. Winners include the closest and
farthest from the bullseye.
Some tourist in Valdez asked if we had the
Great Alaskan TourSaver 2 for 1
coupon book? You can get them at Safeway Food stores for $99 and they
contain a variety of coupons for tourist services all over Alaska. We
decided we didn’t need one, but when we started looking at prices for
flights to /over Denali, we decided it was time to get one. We hoped
to catch a flight in Talkeetna like we did in 1999 that lands on a glacier
/snow field with a base camp and mountain climbers. We found that
without a reservation, it would take up to a week to book the flight and
redeem our coupon. The one we wanted was only good on the 6pm flights
and bad weather kept reservations backed up for days. After one day of
the Moose Dropping Festival, with 2 pancake breakfasts under our widening
belt, we packed up and headed toward Denali.
We wanted to dry camp yet needed cell coverage so we could arrange our next
rendezvous with Lynne Snifka. There were several good possibilities
along the way at
Park sites where we might glimpse Denali if weather cleared, but no cell
coverage. The sky was cloudy and threatening and you could only
imagine where Denali would pop out. We had such great views of the
mountain in 1999 and sure hoped we’d be as lucky again. Only 20% of
visitors ever glimpse the great one, mostly because they flit in and out and
don’t have the luxury of waiting out the weather. Eventually we chose
a nice big roadside pullout without ‘No Camping’ signs, faced the rig toward
Denali and settled in. Around 11pm the mountain ‘came out’. It
is a magnificent sight with the two peaks rising so majestically.
Larry was in heaven and barely slept all night. With our charged
battery and inverter, he could shoot all kinds of pictures, then come back
to the waiting computer and delete and save. The next morning every
bus, RV and car that went by stopped to marvel at the view.
We had a day before our bus tour into
Denali National Park, so
we drove north, past Healy, and found another pullout that looked promising
for the satellite dish to find the satellite. We’d been in the shadow
of mountains and trees for days now and were getting internet withdrawal.
We decided to stay if there was cell coverage, else check internet and look
elsewhere. I checked the phone when we stopped and it indicated No
Service. Within minutes however, it rang and friend Betty Schleifer
from Minneapolis area called. We were so happy to hear from her and
even more to find out we did have cell coverage. It was amazing, we
were in such wilderness!! We stayed there again a few days later and
were witness to participants of the
Ultra Challenge Handcycle & Wheelchair Race, which has 30 disabled
international athletes head to Alaska to race hand powered cycles for 7 days
over 267 miles on roads connecting Fairbanks to Anchorage. Each rider
went by soundlessly, followed by a car or truck protecting the driver and
supporters shouting encouragement. We saw them again the next morning
from our bus in Denali Park. What courage and determination!
We reserved seats on a 12 hour green shuttle bus ride to Kantishna and back.
You bring your own food and water for the day. Luckily the bus was empty
enough that we didn’t all have to share seats. We could spread out
some which made it easier to jump up when someone spotted wildlife. It
sounds like a long day, but passed very quickly and pleasantly. There
are stops every little while for potty stops and a lunch stop and a souvenir
shop. Although the brochures offer two interpretive bus tour options:
the Tundra Wilderness Tour and the Denali Natural History Tour, both
offering a formally narrated tour experience by a certified interpretive
driver and lunch, our green shuttle bus driver was an excellent wildlife
spotter and identified everything he spotted. The fancy tourists ride
on old school buses just like we did but paid many more $$$. We
learned a lot that day and from my scribblings I can decipher that Denali
National Park covers 6 million acres and is larger than Israel. It is
home to 39 species of mammal and 168 bird varieties. From a distance, we saw a wolf, 4
grizzlies, dall sheep, ptarmigan, caribou, red fox, a golden eagle, and lots
of duck varieties. No moose, but we saw a cow and calf in a pond just
outside the park twice, but the road was too busy to stop for photos.
When we returned to the RV, Lynne and puppy Bailey were waiting for us.
We got Subway subs, poured drinks and caught up again. Bailey is a fun
funny Jack Russell terrier who needed a home and Lynne couldn’t resist.
He went crazy when I moved my big exercise ball to clear out Lynne’s bed.
We let him jump at it and he looked just like a seal bouncing it around on
his nose. The next morning Lynne and Bailey headed for Anchorage and
we visited the sled dogs in Denali. One female had 8 new pups, yet she
jumped and howled like the rest when they were choosing a team to
demonstrate a sled race.
We were able to use one of our tourist 2 for 1 coupons to book a flight over
Denali from Healy airport, 9 miles north of Denali Park. We woke the
next morning to pouring rain and gray gloomy weather. We packed up the
rig anyway and headed to Healy. After breakfast at
Rose’s Café, we called the
tour company, but the line was busy so we headed out there. The staff
was able to show us on the computer that the sky was clear looking at the
mountain from Talkeetna and reports were good, so they were taking us up.
This plane held 10 people and was not pressurized. It would not land
on the mountain but would fly us over it … using oxygen masks. Turns
out the snow was soft by this late in July and the climbers were off the
mountain. We’d landed the perfect flight for this time of year. We
flew thru rain and gray for 30 minutes, then emerged near the mountain and
flew around it many times so everyone on both sides of the plane could get
all the pictures they’d want, then we flew between the peaks. It was
quite exhilarating and beautiful.
Following the flight we toured the
Usibelli Coal Mine outside Healy and got a great free tour from a local
young college student summer intern whose dad and cousins and most of Healy
work in the mine. She was a great spokesperson for the mine and the
admirable restoration process she was a part of. It is not a go down
under the earth and dig out the coal mine .. it is a move the layers away,
get the coal, repeat, put the moved dirt back and put in plantings so you
could never tell there was a mine. We each got a goody bag and brought
them back to Madison for fellow sheepshead TDS retiree friend Dave Healy.
Next we spent a week in
and later at
River Edge RV Park.
We preferred the big concrete parking lot of touristy Pioneer Park because
we could find the satellite there. The quiet woody riverside park
didn’t provide this and their park WiFi rarely worked. It is funny that now
we don’t want trees and hills and mountains clouding our view to the south.
We bypass lots of parks we’d have loved just last year.
We took a 17-hour bus trip to the
and back, along the Dalton Highway made famous by the construction of the
Trans Alaska Pipeline.
Again it sounds like a bad idea .. but again the bus was empty enough to not
have to share seats and the bus stopped every hour or two and the day passed
quickly. Five of the riders were from Scotland and it sounded just
like we had Fiona Richie aboard. We stopped at the
Arctic Circle Trading Post
in Joy, Alaska up and back, ordered lunch and dinner from the
Yukon River Camp just across the mighty Yukon River, got to experience
up close the amazing arctic tundra and feel the veins of ice just beneath
the surface, and cross the Arctic Circle in ceremonious fashion to receive
an official Arctic Circle Adventure Certificate (misspelled of course).
Marcie and John from Santa Fe left their rented motorhome in Fairbanks,
rented a car and drove the Dalton all day to witness the midnight sun.
They wax eloquently on how wonderful it is and how happy they are they made
the trip requested by their son John. Next time …
Another day we used our tourist coupon to ride a paddlewheel boat along the
Tanana and Chena rivers. We passed
Susan Butcher’s dog sled headquarters and her husband spoke to us and
demonstrated a sled run. Later he autographed Susan’s book Granite at
the Athabascan Village we stopped at up river. Along the way we also
saw a log home being built for Madison attorney Jack McManus, to replace the
one that burned 7 weeks previously. A big sign proclaims “American
(Wisconsin) by birth: Alaskan by choice” or some such drivel.
Other adventures included a tour of the
University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North, including the garden
where they grow those enormous cabbages and flowers, dinner at the
Brewery, a salmon bake and lively “Golden Heart Revue” at the Palace
Theater in Pioneer Park highlighting the gold rush in Fairbanks, a visit to
the North Pole to order
letters from Santa for Jaime and Emily (shhhhhh ..), dinner of excellent
prime rib with Lynne at the
Club (Are YOU a Turtle???) followed by drinks at the
Howling Dog Saloon, where the
stage is covered with the very holy red carpet graced by Pope John Paul II
and President Reagan during their historic meeting in Fairbanks in 1984.
Lynne wanted us to stay for a nachos / margarita birthday fete a friend was
hosting for her .. but we declined and headed ‘out’.
We saw our best moose between Fairbanks and Tok and the road was quiet
enough to pull over for great pictures. We fueled up in Tok and continued on
to the Taylor Highway looking for a quiet pulloff to dry camp. Many
miles in, we came upon a sign advising us Prepare To Stop. A
ways on our lane was blocked by a state patrol car with flashing lights.
We couldn’t see beyond the curve ahead and no person was in sight.
What should I do, I asked Larry? Pull around the car, says he.
When I did, we were in view of a big tanker trunk rolled on its side into a
hill and a tow truck hooked to it, ready to pull it upright. A big
swarthy state patrolman swaggers towards the RV for minutes, reaches us, and
inquires ‘Is there any reason I shouldn’t give you a citation Mam?”
Uhmmm … I don’t know … what for? Didn’t you see that patrol car back
there? Yes. Didn’t you know it meant to stop behind it?
Nooooo. Glare glare. We could have unhooked and turned around.
Instead the tow truckers dropped the lines and they let traffic from both
sides pass. The other side had a patrolman stopping traffic.
The next morning we toured the tiny town of
Chicken, AK before crossing back
into the Yukon. I’d been asking my brother-in-law’s Donny’s friend
Mary how their ‘I Got Laid in Chicken’ tshirts were holding up as, as
we wouldn’t want to repeat any shoddy buying mistakes they made on their
Alaska trip in 2005. She finally replied that they wear them only when
they have sex .. so they’re still brand new. Tee hee naughty. We
thought about dumping at the RV park and taking on fresh water, but as they
charged $15 for the dump and $10 for water, we thought better about it.
We topped up the tank with the last cheap AK gas at $3.60 a gallon, crossed
the border and drove the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City. We
thought top of the world referred to how far north it is, but is is also
high in altitude and a beautiful gravel drive. You cross the Yukon
River back into the Yukon into
City on a small free car ferry.
We chose a big dry camping campground that only charged $10 per night with
water and dump. We were all alone there the entire stay. We
biked into town one day and visited the Information center. We used
one of our tourist 2 for 1 coupons to visit the
cabin, had a few beers at a battered watering hole Oliver told us about,
then biked back home to dry off from the rain and mud. Later we drove
with another tourist 2 for 1 coupon, had dinner and enjoyed Gertie’s Girls
Another day we drove along the Dempster Highway for 100 miles, as Janice and
Pierre recommended that we visit the
Mountains. Later on, the fields would be ablaze with fireweed, but
not yet at this time. It was a glorious drive and we kept going and
going as we just didn’t want to turn back. Another time we must drive
all the way to
We returned to Dawson City and found Antoinette’s, a new restaurant
recommended to us by our seatmates on the Valdez boat cruise. It is a
very small house converted to restaurant and though it took a long time, we
enjoyed the wine, great food and ambiance. When we returned to the
car, the rear driver’s tire was flat, so Larry lost most of the glow.
The next morning Larry got the tire fixed and we headed back toward
Whitehorse. Along a gravel patch, I pulled to the right a bit when a
big bus and rig approached. It felt draggy. Hmmm .. deeper
gravel? The draggy feeling continued, so we pulled over to discover
that the front car wheel was riding on the rim … all the rubber was gone.
Larry changed it and we were able to continue. It took some time to
find that size rim and 2 new tires in Whitehorse. Janice, Pierre and
Cole were out of town, but Jeannette and Oliver were free to join us for
We’d been writing to Rory and Jan in Juneau, fellow Bike Friday riders we
met on the south island of New Zealand in 2003. We planned to take a day
trip to Juneau from Skagway, have lunch with them, visit the Mendenhall
Glacier and return to Skagway. When we were all cleared for takeoff, I
called the boat tour people only to find they had one seat left the next
day, Tuesday, and not 2 seats until Friday. OK .. never mind .. wrote
to threaten Rory and Jan for ‘the next time’.
So we headed back south, dinner at Mukluk Annie’s again, overnight near
Watson Lake again, then headed toward the much acclaimed
Cassiar Highway. Jeff
Cousins who we met in Haines wrote that the road is awful and he would have
turned around many times. It started out not so bad. A stop at
Jade City saw a motorhome turn in with a rear wheel at 45 degrees out of
kilter. We drove and drove and found the bad stuff, gravel sprayed
with a sealant I’d have to look up that makes it slippery when wet.
The road was well manicured and all, just that much of the time it was
gravel, no markings, and a steep well manicured edge that hurled down a
slope to the land below. If you ever left the road, it would be
horrific. Once I pulled over a bit when we met a big rig and we both
felt the slide and lurch that could have taken us over the edge. Scary.
Uncharacteristically, we drove late into the night
and dark hoping for a good spot for the satellite. Between two
‘slippery wood bridges’, we passed a big A motorhome with a broken front
axel. We stopped to see what help we could be, but they had a tow
truck on the way. There is no cell coverage for us in Canada, little
if you have the correct Canada service, maybe satellite phones would work.
It’s not a good place to break down.
We did find a good spot and satellite coverage and
continued on to Stewart, BC and Hyder AK the next day, passing beautiful
blue Bear Glacier on the way in. A quick stop in Stewart, then decided on
Campground in Hyder so we would pass customs just once. We knew we
wouldn’t get satellite coverage in either town, but Run-A-Muck offered WiFI
Hyder is a cute little town with a few shops, a good pizza joint, and a few
bars. Enough for us!! We are here to see grizzlies. Down the road a piece is
Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site in the Tongrass National Forest.
You pay a fee to stand on a boardwalk between 6am and 10pm mid-July into
September and hope to see a grizzly or three. It’s up to a forest
ranger with a canister of bear spray to keep you safe if a grizzly decides
to chase a human instead of a salmon. We visited 3 times with our 3
day pass and saw a good many bears .. or the same few several times.
We saw a mom with 3 cubs briefly one evening when it was too dark to get
pictures. We slept in that morning instead of going to the bears and
missed the mom teaching the cubs to catch salmon. The boy caught one,
it flopped back in, he got it again, repeatedly until he figured out how to
hold on. Then Mom and the other 2 cubs took off up the river.
Sonny stood perplexed knowing he must follow yet unwilling to leave his new
catch behind. He started after them, turned back, repeatedly until he
just had to leave the salmon behind. A male grizzly came along too
soon and scared Mom and kids into the hills for safety when we were there.
We saw two young grizzlies courting and a comic ranger thought they might
have to charge us X-rated entry rates if it continued.
We drove the windy narrow bumpy road up to
Salmon Glacier for a
quick view as well, because it was there. You looked down on the glacier,
different from the many others we saw in Alaska. This one reminded us most
of our glacier hike at Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, as we could look
down on the deep blue crevices. That is our favorite day of this 5
year adventure so far. Now that I look at the pictures I don’t see it
at all .. but it felt that way there.
After that we just drove, heading ‘out’. We hoped to stop for a soak
Jasper hot springs, but the weather was rainy and awful and traffic was
just too heavy. We got our last satellite coverage outside Jasper, amazingly
found it between two mountain peaks. After that it was no more, all through
Saskatchewan and into North Dakota. I even called MotoSat to check if the
satellite fell out of the sky .. but we were just out of range.
We rested a few days at
Army Corps of
Engineers sites in North Dakota, then visited with friends Joel and
Betty Flentje Schleifer in Richfield, MN, near Minneapolis. We left
the rig down the road at
Town and Country RV in Savage, MN and slept in Betty’s guest bedroom.
We NEVER do that .. but there wasn’t much room for the Clampett’s Motorhome
at Betty’s. We had a great visit, met son David and saw his new condo,
got the details of son Jon’s impending nuptials, got as close as we could to
the I-35W bridge collapse, ate at the
Cheesecake Factory and
finished the stay with yummy French pastries at
Patrick’s French Bakery and Café.
Next, a quick visit with brother-in-law Donny and friend Mary in Eagle
River, WI, then another with Norman and Jo Bertler Teaford in Cecil.
We are up to Labor Day weekend and it is time to stop here. We are
back in Wisconsin, ready to grandparent and spoil the two darling little
granddaughters and visit friends and doctors. Will Jaime stay in the
RV with us without Mom? (Teaser … yes yes yes .. it’s so fun .. and we get
to try out the new bear and moose jammies very soon …)
We loved the Alaska trip and could do it again. There are lots of
services and groceries all along the way. Fuel prices ranged from
$.779 to $1.499 a liter in Canada and from $2.979 to $3.889 a gallon in
Alaska. We spent about $3500 on gas.
We were headed to Puerto Vallarta. We hoped to park in the Houston airport
parking and spend the night in the RV … and it worked!! We got up early,
showered, cleaned out the last bits from the fridge, called the shuttle and
were whisked off to our terminal. It was great!!
Puerto Vallarta is much more inviting than Progresso, the Mexican border
town where we did a day trip from Texas. Our first hotel,
Buenaventura Hotel & Beach Club , was in the city central, on the
ocean, and a few blocks walk from the Malecon .. a mile long promenade along
the ocean with the town square, the famous cathedral, the flea market and
more. The temperature had been in the 80’s since Christmas but dropped
to 60 just before we were to go, so our first days there were chilly and
cloudy. Not beach weather, so we walked the town and visited the
Our hotel offered all inclusive, but we chose to not include meals as we
wanted to sample what the city has to offer. Our best meals were at
Spiaggia, down the beach from the hotel. We wandered down there
the first time in our beachwear, hungering from the good smells of our
poolside BBQ. Spiaggia is an open air restaurant, fancy with white
tablecloths and all. We almost didn’t try it … but the menu was
reasonable and the staff welcomed us in. We shared a wonderful blue
cheese salad and a cheese fondue type dish with gooey creamy cheese, peppers
and onions heated over fire in a small lava pot, served with fresh
tortillas. Friday night we went there for dinner and it was magical.
Dark intimate seating with tiki torches, the waves crashing, hot and
wonderful with a jazz combo from 9pm. It was a 2 bottles of wine
We bussed to Walmart and carted back bottles and bottles of vodka, rum,
wine, coke, OJ and microwave popcorn to get our
Mayan Sea Garden party off
to a good start. Joe said not to forget the limes … so we needed a few
things to go with them. Saturday morning we packed it all into a taxi
and headed out to Nuevo Vallarta to the Mayan to wait for the Wisconsin /
Ohio contingent. Carl and Mary Zmeskal Tighe and cousin Susie Kelly
Kampman have time-shares in Maztalan and traded for a week farther south.
They were kind enough to share their digs with us, Ruth Kahl from Delevan
and Joe and Sarah Schmitz Piller from Ohio. Mary and Sarah are friends
of mine since 4th grade in Manitowoc, WI.
We had a grand time. The weather improved when they arrived and we
spent the week basking poolside and drinking happy hour bebidas. We
all had to have a free Sunday Champagne Brunch, tour the Mayan grounds and
be subjected to the time-share push. We resisted. Sarah and Joe
bussed into town one day, toured the city with the hordes of cruise ship
passengers, then humored one of the many time-share hawkers and were taken
south of the city to hear another time-share spiel. This time Joe
pretended to be less hostile and they came away with tickets for a whale
watching tour and a city tour. They really saw the sites and made out
like bandits. Very enjoyable. We all ventured to Spiaggia for our final
evening together and they loved the setting and great food as much as we
did. We celebrated Carl's birthday with many bottles of champagne.
After they all departed on Saturday morning, we headed to our new home in
the marina area,
Club Embarcadero. This time we chose the all inclusive and had
beautiful surroundings and great food. The reviews I read about the place
had us dreading what we’d find … as most hated everything about it.
But we had a spacious mini-suite with a beautiful pool view and free WiFI
from our patio and we loved the food. We were on the canal with yachts
coming and going. A walk across the road took us to the ocean and cool
breezes. It was wonderful, and we were content to just enjoy it,
having done the town already. We did go back to the Malecon for an art
walk describing the many sculptures along the walk and to buy lots more
clothes. Larry has a new wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts and I have shoes
and tank dresses. Jaime and Emily will get 3 new dresses. We had
one last lunch at Spiaggia’s and watched parasailers take off and land in
front of us every 6 minutes. Very entertaining.
Back in Houston the weather was grim and rainy. Our credit card
company called to check if we really bought $300 in groceries in Houston,
after the PV charges. Yup and thanks for checking.
We planned to avoid San Antonio and Austin, but Larry noticed that San
Antonio has a KOA
campground with bus service to downtown, so we decided to spend some time
there. When I called to make reservations, they were very full and we
got the last spot for 2 nights. Why so busy? The Rodeo!!! The
fairgrounds were down the road and around the corner … the guy said ½ mile
but it was a MUCH longer walk than that. We looked into taking it in,
and found that Willie Nelson was performing Monday night. I’d just
read an article about the rodeo on the inflight magazine on the plane.
They hired a consultant to design the rodeo so it would continue to attract
people who might not otherwise attend a rodeo, like us, then hired him on as
CEO or whatever to keep it going.
You pay an admission that gets you onto the grounds all day along with a
seat for the 7pm rodeo and entertainment that follows at 9pm. We were
cramped way high in the nosebleed section, but the rodeo was enjoyable and
we loved seeing Willie, as our theme song is ‘On the Road Again’. He
talks his songs now, more than singing them, but every now and then they
sounded like the CD. So we hiked to the grounds Monday morning, got
our tickets and visited the animals and booths, hiked back and soaked in the
hot tub. Later we hiked both ways again to the performance. Our
dogs were hurting by midnight. But it was great. Our first
Tuesday we took the bus to town, toured the
Alamo, walked the
Riverwalk, had a pint at
an Irish Pub, took a short boat tour of the Riverwalk, then took a couple of
bus loops to see more of the city. Again the hot tub felt grand.
We moved on to Fredericksburg for 2 nights and walked the town one day with
a couple of fine pints of porter at the
Fredericksburg Brewing Company.
In 1996 we did a week Cycle America bike tour with Fredericksburg as the
hub. We loved the quaint town then and it is even cuter now. We
looped thru Luckenbach on the
way out and it looks much as it did 11 years ago … cute and quaint. Larry
got a Luckenbach denim shirt and I got a new bandana.
It was time to head out of Texas, so we just kept driving west and the next
fun stop was the
Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The ticket is good for 3 days, so we did
the Natural Entrance and Big Room self-guided tours included with admission
and an additional tour of the King’s Palace, then returned later and did the
admission walks again. We loved the place. We’ve been in a
number of caves on 3 continents, but we like this best. There is such
a variety of decorations and the place is so immense … big and tall.
It was like a religious experience .. when the other moron visitors weren’t
chatting and explaining and clicking their annoying high heeled boots.
Shhhhhhhhhhhh Not to be missed.
It was powerful windy during our stay in Carlsbad. We stayed put one
day to avoid it. On our return to the caves, the wind ripped up our
properly stored TV antenna and blew it away. It could have killed
someone!! Luckily it was a side wind that must have landed it in a
field. We heard a big noise but didn't know the cause until Larry
checked the roof miles later in the parking lot.
We spent a night in the
Guadalupe Mountains National Park and did a 3 mile
hike. The area is so surreal we decided to make a quick visit to
the UFO Museum nearby in Roswell. There seems to be enough
different testimonials to suggest a cover-up of the 1949 reports of aliens
On thru Arizona, with stops in Tucson and Quartzite. We took a bus to
downtown Tucson and there were no shops to visit and very few people about.
The only activity centered around the courthouse and municipal buildings.
Very bazaar! A lady we met at White Sands National Monument said not
to miss the Desert Museum in Tucson, so we spent a half day there and it is
a wonderful desert landscape and zoo.
My laptop died in my lap and we had to take care of that. I was using
an unknown camper’s unsecured WiFi connection at the campground, so Larry
thinks I got zapped for usurping their waves. Best Buy said I must
send it in with the original receipt, which I couldn’t locate so hoped was
at DDs. We were headed to Covina, CA to have a honking big satellite
dish installed on our roof so we can get internet and DirecTV anywhere it
can see the southern sky. It was no time to be without a computer!!
So we had to quickly pick one out … no comparison shopping or checking every
venue on the internet. At this writing I have my tiny little Averatec
back with a replaced hard drive and the new HP will be Larry’s … now or if
his little HP goes down. Of course I had no backups, so lost it all.
The worst was pics of the cute grandbabes and the first 10 days of Puerto
We started talking ourselves into the satellite dish in Houston. At
first we were going for the cheaper tripod version that you have to set up
and find the satellite yourself. But it is big, must be stored
someplace, is hard to setup and takes 20-30+ minutes to locate the
satellite. I hated to think of Larry out there in the wet dark with
the bugs after he already has to set up the power and sewer and water when
we land. Worse yet … it might be me out there!! So, when we
learned it can be moved to our next rig if and when, we went for the big
roof top mount that takes just a touch of a button. You don’t just pick one
of these up at Wal-Mart. It looked like a place in
Virginia was a good
place to get one and they have a few installers around the country. We
were too late to get on the install list in Texas, so it would be California
or wait till we got to DD's house.
My brother-in-law Donny and his friend Mary wanted to meet up with us on
their trip to Phoenix and San Diego and parts between. So we chose the
Covina, CA site as we knew we’d be too busy at DD's to play with it and know
it was working before we head for Alaska. Then Mary and Donny
cancelled their trip, so we got our install thanks to their plans but didn’t
get to see them. We got to enjoy sunny California while they stayed in
the snow and cold in Eagle River. Pooor them!!!
We spent about a week around the one day installation. We stopped at
Quartzite, AZ on the way. When you read RV tales, Quartzite is frequently
mentioned for its boon docking / dry camping without hookups and for its huge
flea markets. But as we got closer I determined that November thru
February is the big flea market season. Things were pretty quiet when
we got there early March, so it looked like just another sad little desert
town. We zoomed by the zillion wind generators around Desert Hot
Springs and hovered in Covington, waiting for our equipment to arrive and
the install appointment. All went well, till I tried to redo our router
name the first night and ‘broke’ it. We had to call for help the first
morning, then call Linksys who had us cabling up to the modem and
downloading a firmware upgrade. Not for the faint hearted and not an
The desert air was warm and wonderful, so we backtracked our way to Salton
City, in the southeast corner of California, where Terri and Arvid Cummings
winter. They were camphosts at a county park near Stevens Point when
we biked from Madison to Shawano in 2001 on our pre-retirement practice run.
They retired from Burlington, WI and travel in a 5th wheel fulltime … or did
until they settled on winters in Salton City and now even bought a park home
there. The Salton Sea is a huge lake about the size of Lake Winnebago
in Wisconsin. It is more than 200 feet below sea level. It was a
canyon basin that got filled in accidentally when an irrigation canal from
the Colorado River broke in 1905. The valley has no exit, so
agricultural runoff continues to flow in with polluted water from rivers in
Mexico. The sea is beautiful but is very polluted and we saw no boats
on it. There is some fishing.
We had a nice week enjoying the sun and pool and campground activities.
There were lots of Canadians who would return home soon, so lots of
activities. We got in on a local singer event, a camp BBQ, a talent
show and some card playing. Terri and Arvid were busy with activities
and getting ready for a trip to Hawaii, but we did enjoy an evening with
them besides the camp activities and Arvid took us on a rail ride. A
big entertainment there is to ride sand dune buggy type vehicles in the sand
dunes and hills. It was an adventure!! Be sure to see the
pictures. We biked to a burger joint for my birthday, and a
picture on the wall said that the last episode of the season of the X-Files
was shot in Salton City. Didn’t say what year.
Our friend Rita Benish from Madison visited friends in LA and she and
Dorothy came to visit on their way to the Mojave Desert. It was good
to see Rita and to meet Dorothy. Rita tells us about their adventures
on a months long trip on container ships back in 1981. That’s
adventure!!! Morocco, Tunisia, Spain … I forget where.
I tracked down Karen Slater who worked at OSI and SPC with me back in the
day. I’d lost track of her in the last 5 years, so had to do some
internet sleuthing to find her. We had lunch with her near Sacramento.
She looks great and is a 5 year breast cancer survivor. Yeah …
The family is traveling to China in May with the Sacramento Ballet as Bob is
on the Board of Directors .
We thought we’d go right up I-5 to Oregon, but I noticed that there were a
number of our $8 campgrounds along the coast, where I-5 didn’t have them but
did have forecasts for freezing temps. We might have gone to Yosemite too,
but forecasts were for freezing nights. So we found a nice route to
the coast and loved the trip north. We spent one night under the
redwoods, where our dish couldn’t find the satellite .. too many trees … as
you might guess.
We spent 3 nights in Lincoln City, OR with Gordy and Kitty Kelly Bushman ..
another friend since grade school. They have a wonderful new 3-story
home with ocean views. We took their 3 golden retrievers to the beach,
enjoyed food and beers at
McMenamins Lighthouse Brewpub in Lincoln City and
the Rogue Bayfront Brewery in Newport, toured the wonderful
and drank lots of wine, catching up on family lives. Kitty is doing
well after hip surgery in November. We missed Bob and Marsha Steffen
by 2 days at their time-share in nearby Depoe Bay. Wahh …
After a night near Mt. St. Helens, we were only 100 miles on the scenic
route to DD’s house when we spotted some cute little cars at a Mom and Pop
used car lot in Ethel, WA. Who knows where that is??? We wound
up buying a great looking 2000 Kia Sportage 4wd SUV after DD checked Kelly
Blue Book and Car Fax and we got insurance for it. We drove to DD’s in 2
vehicles and are getting a tow bar to pull the Kia behind the RV. The
quick purchase surprised us, but we are so happy we found it so easily.
It saved heaps of hours looking and sharing DD’s car.
So now we’re getting ready for Alaska and beyond. We had a huge
overhaul on the RV and are getting the tow bar. We passed our first
emissions test on the RV so our tabs will renew in August. Larry is busy
building (and rebuilding) a secure home for the satellite gizmos and wiring
.. modem, router, DVR. He installed a new antenna for any places
the satellite can’t be found and a backup monitor to keep an eye on the Kia. He’s working on an inverter and battery system for places with no power.
And he’s thinking about a solar panel. The guy hardly sleeps anymore,
he’s thinking so hard. He installed a new radio in the truck and wired
it to the truck battery so it is not tied to the ignition. He’s just a
genius. Earlier he installed a buzzer if the lights are left on and he
made the turn signal clicks louder.
We hosted Easter dinner for DD’s friend Tara and her family, as they always
include DD in their family holiday celebrations and shower her with gifts. Spring has been warm and beautiful this year. We are here earlier than
ever yet the weather is nicer. I write this from a hospital room where
DD is having her tonsils, uvula and surrounding tissue removed …
uvulopalatopharyngeoplasty ... a plan to
help her sleep apnea .. hope hope. She has a 2 week recovery.
Then she may get another gum graft on her teeth for gingivitis. She’ll
be off the food for a month … the whole rest of our stay. We had some
luscious last meals these 2 weeks. Now Larry and I should get back to
our You On a Diet
You won’t know Larry … he’s lost his whole spare tire. I’m not doing
as well, as you wimmmen would understand.
So we’re looking forward to months in Alaska. We hope to find Janice
and Pierre who we met twice in Australia and had dinner with, but only have
first names and a picture of Janice on her recumbent. I placed a classified
on a Whitehorse site to see if we can locate them. Then we hope to
hook up with Lynne Snifka who worked with Larry in Madison. We last
saw her in 1999, first in Anchorage where she was recently diagnosed with
(non) Hodgkins lymphoma and later at her folks near Milwaukee where she was
recuperating from radiation and such. We lost touch with her too, but
Google found her at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where she is
(temporarily) a communications professor and will continue on another year
or two or more until she gets a masters degree or they decide she is
invaluable without one. She may be off to Ireland for holiday or
settling her apartment in Anchorage or just enjoying the summer .. but we’ll
share a beer with her someplace. And if we make it to Juneau we will
see Rory and Jan … our Bike Friday twins from New Zealand travels.
Then we’ll head for Wisconsin and see Heidi and family. Jaime will be
in kindergarten. Heidi and Brian will be celebrating their 10th
wedding anniversary. They should be ready to take off again and let us
spend time with Jaime and Emily. Can’t wait. I asked Larry’s Mom
if she’d like to come visit DD if I flew and got her. She’s never
flown, so it would have been an experience, but she is having sciatica and
carpal tunnel problems so says not now. We might have brought little
Emily back for a visit. Maybe. She kind of likes us … or did
last summer … where Jaime only likes Mom and Dad.
Dr. visits, see friends .. then head south again, thru Nebraska to visit Ted
and Mona and Colorado to see Tracey / Roger and Howard’s sister (we don’t
even know his last name) if it’s not too late and blustery. Maybe
winter in Mexico this year??? Til then …have fun. If we’re very
lucky, Sid and Ruth from Melbourne might join us along the way someplace.
Sid needs a colostomy reversal from his bladder cancer surgery last fall and
Ruth has to decide if she’ll retire from her cushy university career
We have a new way for you to track us if you are interested. Click on
Find Us on the Pubtopub Home Page. We are #4719. Our
location gets updated every time we put up the satellite dish.
We'll post our Alaska adventures by late September.
Update: DD recovered fine and could eat anything .. so lots more good
stuff. Larry installed a solar panel on the roof, we spent a fun
weekend on the coast so Murrey could run free in the water.
Brother-in-law Donny is having bypass surgery and niece Chris rolled her car
and is recovering. We found Janice and Pierre in Whitehorse and will
meet them and their new son.
The day before Bob Steffen’s 60th birthday parteeeee, we loaded up on
Wisconsin edibles: Bagels Forever bagels and bagel chips, Madison Sourdough
rye bread, Johnsonville summer sausage, Woodman’s sharp cheddar cheese,
Portabella salad topping and buttermilk dressing from Delitalia and some
salad stuff for it. After the party, we headed south and had breakfast the
next morning with the Tighes one more time. Farewells and we headed to
Monroe for a stop at
Baumgartner’s for some braunschweiger and limburger
Down into Illinois, avoiding toll roads and looking for the pretty bits of
Illinois. It was rainy and cold and nasty, so nothing looked too good. We
spent 2 nights at $8 RV resorts, then we got to the green bits on the map
and camped at Horseshoe Lake near Olive Branch, IL. It was a weird lake, all
scummy with 2 kinds of big trees growing in it. We went from wet and cold
back to mosquitoes. This isn’t going so well. A highlight was the Honey-B, a
little homey café with biscuits and gravy and meat and twos. Ahhh … we’re
getting close to the south, where you often choose an entrée and two or
The next day we stopped at
Fort Defiance State Park that friend Rita Benish
recommended as an interesting sight in Illinois. It is at the confluence of
the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and has a good vista of the two river areas.
There were camping spots there and we wished we had been there last night,
but then we wouldn’t have found the Honey-B.
We headed for one of our $8 resorts in Kentucky, Pirate’s Cove near Land
Between the Lakes. It was hot and calm and we basked in our camp chairs at
waters edge for several hours. The next day was rainy, but we still enjoyed
the ride through the Land Between the Lakes, a beautiful recreational
We made our way through Clarksville, TN but missed every $1.979 gas station,
darnnnnn …. Late afternoon we got to Nashville and headed for our RV park
near to Opryland. Gas here was back to $2.299.
We stopped for a quick lunch before we parked the rig, and the easiest spot
looked like a place called John A’s. We parked, dodged raindrops, and bopped
in. We were the only customers, they had just opened and no food until 4pm.
Well .. just a beer maybe .. since we’re here. Soon the chef came out and
chatted with the barmaid about what soup to make that day … it was chicken
and artichoke yesterday .. did she try it??? He asked how we were doing ..
and I said fine and we’d sure like some of that soup. So he heated us up 2
bowls and made us each 2 corn cakes .. lovely light cornmeal pancakes. Yum …
and never before had artichokes in our soup. The barmaid said there is a
band here most nights. Great. The best beer choice was Michelob Amber Bock …
not tooooo bad.
We drove around looking for the Opry Mills Mall so we could pick up our
Grand Ole Opry tickets, but we never did it right. We drove to the Two
Rivers RV Resort and parked the rig. We spent the night dual WiFi-ing and
listening to heavy rain.
The next morning we got ready and biked the 2+ miles to
Opryland and got our
tickets , then
wandered a bit at the big Opry Mills mall next door. We just happened to be
here the weekend of the 81st Anniversary of the Opry. We saw 2 great shows,
and stars like Little Jimmy Dickens, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, Earl
Scruggs, Mike Snider, Jean Shepard, Charlie Pride, Restless Heart, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, and LeAnn Rimes. Both nights they wheeled out a big
birthday cake and released lots of balloons. Saturday there were kid’s rides
and games and entertainment all day. Both nights we ended back at John A’s
and heard good bands and special drop-in guests we didn’t recognize.
Saturday we also stopped at Nashville Palace for a Highway 101 concert ..
but it was tooooo loud and the drinks awful.
We biked to the Mall and caught a bus to downtown Nashville 2 days, one to
walk around and one to visit the
Country Music Hall of Fame, a fabulous
museum tribute to country music . We enjoyed free live music
at Legends Corner and Tootsie’s Lounge. Waylen Jennings brother Tommy sang a
few at Legends. We enjoyed a few pilsners at the Big River Brewery.
You can tell that food and drink are big in our day. We got a book called
Road Food by Jane and Michael Stern, two serious foodies who detail their
favorite cafés and diners. They love Krolls in Green Bay, the Charcoal House
in Sheboygan, Beernstens in Manitowoc and Copps in Milwaukee, so we know
they have taste. They have been tracking down good eats since the ‘70s and
wrote a column for Gourmet Magazine. We tracked down a bakery in Whitefish
Bay near Milwaukee that they say has dynamite rye bread on Fridays, but that
was a bust. We’re hoping for better.
Nashville listed quite a few Road Food sites, but only 1 was downtown,
Satsuma Tea Room. It closes at 2pm, but we checked it out anyway .. only to
find it has been replaced by Union 417. We were too late for the daily plate
specials we’ve been craving, with the choice of sides, but we could order
salads and grill items. I had a double chicken salad and Larry a Reuben
Sandwich. Both were good and pretty, but nothing distinctive and wonderful
as we were hoping for.
On our way out of Nashville, we went far out of our way to try our forks at
the Loveless Café, near the Natchez Trace Parkway . It
is pretty touristy with outbuildings selling their country ham and artsy
gifts and such. We enjoyed BBQ pork and fried chicken and tried creamed
corn, macaroni and cheese, candied yams and hash brown casserole for sides,
all served with fluffy biscuits and 3 preserves. Yum .. yum. Stars frequent
the place, but we didn’t recognize anyone. It’s so far out of Nashville, but
maybe they live out there.
We had some time to kill before we headed to Memphis area to visit Rick and
Carol Loberger Hagerbaumer. Carol was back in Green Bay helping her Mom
recuperate from surgery. So we headed east to Cumberland Gap where Daniel
Boone crossed the Appalachians to the western frontier, then on to the Great
Smoky Mountains. The rolling hills of fall colors were glorious. We drove
around Ashville, NC, over the Smokys through Newfound Gap, thru Gatlinburg
and spent the night in Pigeon Forge and visited their brewery. We had a long
downhill thru the Smoky foothills and the brakes went out. Luckily Larry was
driving that day and handled it with cool. But it was scary. We were lucky
enough to find a repair business that took us in and bled the brakes. The
guy said the brakes just overheated, are OK. Phewwww …. They did the work
right away and only charged $45. Amazing. I knew a Manitowoc friend Roseanne
Neuser Pagels lives in a Carolina somewhere, so I found her on Switchboard
and gave her a call while we were in North Carolina. She and Tom live in
Charlotte, so I phoned from her state and had a nice catch-up chat since
1996 and I threatened to visit next time.
After a night in Georgia and one in Mississippi, we spent 4 days in
Collierville and had a fun visit. Carol is a domestic goddess and cooks
wonderful healthy food. And Rick made some awesome smoked salmon and we
loved his home brewed beers. He even sent 6 on the road with us when we
left. We had some BBQ and a night out in Memphis, with a long stop at
It was good to see Alex and Masha again too. Masha should have her driving
temps by now. Watch out!!
We had some BBQ at Abes in Clarksville MS. We stayed a few nights at the
Paragon Casino RV Park in Marksville, LA and asked folks where to find some
Cajun music. Following up on some leads, we booked into a campground near
Eunice, LA. The next morning we went to
Fred’s Lounge in Mamou for their
Saturday morning Cajun music radio show . Mamou is a tired little town,
Fred’s Lounge has seen better days, yet it is internationally known as the
place to be on Saturday mornings for fine Cajun music and fun. It was weird,
as there was little space to stand that was not on the dance floor or
blocking the view of the people in the few bench seats or too near the bar
or in a doorway or in front of the bathroom path. It was November 11 and
Armistice Day and a big long parade gave us a long chance to stand outside
yet hear the music from Fred’s. It was a long parade, veterans, kids,
horses, fire trucks, motorcycles and heaps of candy thrown from the floats.
About 40 motorcycles came to Fred’s after the parade, so we listened to the
last hour of music on the radio in the motor home. Later we returned to
Eunice, visited the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and attended a Steve Riley and
the Mamou Playboys concert at the
Liberty Theater in Eunice for $5 each .
Louisiana had a Main to Main program a few years back where they plowed
money into a few towns to revitalize the Main streets. This year they set up
a Remember November program where these Main Street towns had musical events
every weekend in November, I think to celebrate recovery from last year’s
hurricanes and to highlight the results of Main to Main renovations. So we
enjoyed the music of Steve Riley and returned the next week for
concerts. Attendees move up front and dance. We recognized a couple we used
to see at Norah’s II near Madison Cajun music dances more than 10 years ago.
We introduced ourselves and found that they are Jim and Bev Daubers who
moved to Lafayette, LA from Cedarburg, WI after retirement, just to enjoy
more Cajun music. We joined their ‘krew’ for dinner later. A krew is a team
that builds a Mardi Gras float together, if we got that right. We saw them
again the next night at Randalls in Lafayette for a TV taping of a
Beausoleil dance concert. We wouldn’t have known about it if we hadn’t met
the Daubers. Jim gave us free newspapers with events and info that helped us
plan the week.
Between the Eunice music events, we visited the
Acadian LaFitte Center to learn
more about the Acadians that came to Louisiana after the British drove them
out of Nova Scotia, fearing that they would support the French in war with
Britain. We had a Road Food lunch at Brenda’s in New Iberia, toured
the Tabasco factory on Avery Island
, sat out near tornadoes on a lovely lake in Morgan City, had a fabulous
catfish and crawfish etoufee dinner at Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge , and
drove the long bridge over the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin. After the Beausoleil
concert we found our way to a great shrimp platter at
D.I.s of Basile, somewhere
between Eunice and the Kinder Casino we were staying at. All of these and
more were from Road Food recommendations.
We thought we might travel to Texas along a narrow road along the Gulf
coast, but it was blown away by Hurricane Rita, so we had to go in on I-10.
We stopped first at a Visitors Center to pick up way too many of the
zillions of brochures they have for visitors, then got ourselves to the
coast as soon as roads were open past the destruction.
We spent Thanksgiving in a cute little RV park in
Crystal Beach, TX, on a
narrow peninsula just north of Galveston . We were facing the
Intercoastal Waterway and barges went up and down at intervals. We biked to
the gulf a mile away and basked and Larry flew kites. Weather was hot and
lovely and held til Thanksgiving Monday, when we moved 18 miles south and
took the ferry to Galveston. We didn’t know Galveston is on Galveston
Island. The downtown area looked historic and spiffed up and there are some
new stores where cruise boats dock, but the rest was not too exciting. There
are 6 mansions you can tour and some big domes and a tall ship for tourist
attractions. The seawall area is a long sandy wonderful access to the gulf.
Farther out are lots of raised condos that would be nice outside of
hurricane season. We might have stayed awhile, but the weather was grim, so
we pushed on and stayed a few days at a harbor RV park in Palacios. Beyond
Galveston Island was a huge area all full of oil and gas refineries.
A friendly neighbor lady Lee from Austin travels with 2 wimmmen friends,
each driving her own big rig with tow car and they have traveled like this
for 9 years. Lee has to be into her 80s and a lovely vibrant lady. What
fun!!! They even took this caravan to Alaska one summer. She says they are
too good of friends to be in the same rig. They like their independence.
We got great haircuts in Palacios for $22 plus tip for both. And I got a
pedicure for $22 plus tip. We had some wonderful shrimp at a seafood place
we almost avoided because to us a seafood restaurant sounds pricey and calls
for nice clothes. Not down here .. more like fast food joints here and we
felt OK in our biking attire.
We haven’t been staying in our $8 campgrounds much recently, especially in
Texas. Once we hit the coast we wanted to be on the gulf if we could, and
all of our sites are inland. We had hopes for one in Rockport, but it was on
the wrong side of a busy road and we couldn’t figure out what gulf access we
could have on bikes. So we continued on and stayed at
Pioneer RV Resort
outside Port Aransas, owned by the same company as the Palacios place . We took a free ferry
to Mustang Island and Port Aransas. There were lots of campgrounds, many
tired and crowded. Pioneer was lovely and spacious and a walk over the
boardwalk to the beach. Larry flew kites, we biked on the beach, we saw many
huge cabbage head jellyfish and we sat and WiFi’d
when the rain and wind kept us inside.
We bypassed Corpus Christi and Padre Island National Seashore and continued
south. We passed a week at Sea Breeze RV Park on Baffin Bay near Kingsville
and Riviera. It is a lovely county park with free WiFi. We biked a lot and
walked. Weather the whole week was wonderful.
Our Connecticutie neighbors Howard and Linda just retired and are starting
full-timing, part of a growing breed of 40-50+ year olds who give up the
work-a-day life, sell it all and take off to explore North America well
before they reach ‘retirement age’. We enjoyed hearing about their trips,
especially their canal boat trip in England. Howard sent our web address to
his sister Cindy in Colorado and she wrote to invite us to visit them and
try a few of their local pubs. Sure .. we’ll be there when we visit Tracey
and Roger in Colorado Springs.
We also enjoyed our 91 year old neighbors Al and Edith. In 1950 they drove
from Indiana to Anchorage with a 33’ trailer pulled by a truck followed by a
station wagon driven by them with their 2 young sons. Imagine the roads and
lack of services in 1950!! Al called Edith ‘Pioneer Woman’. They stayed for
18 years and homesteaded on 280 acres plus a separate lakefront piece of
property. They traveled in motor homes for many years after leaving Alaska,
now in a stationary trailer and have called the Sea Breeze home for 2 years.
Al still drives 18 miles into Kingsville for groceries. They are a hoot!
We booked 2 weeks in Destination RV Park on
South Padre Island over Christmas and New Years . We started our
trip there with a Mexican breakfast in Riviera and took away a pint of their
spicy salsa. Stops in Harlingen for a cell phone battery, bike computer
replacement and groceries. Trek will send a replacement for my new bike
computer that broke when I dropped it, but we will have to come back to the
bike store for it in a few days. I will order the cell phone battery online.
We bought a $22 spiral ham at H.E.B, the main grocery chain in Texas, and
got free a loaf of ciabatta bread, a big Velveeta-type cheese loaf, 12 cans
of H.E.B cola, a pound cake and a bag of frozen broccoli. What a deal!!
We’re ready for Christmas dinner.
We crossed the beautiful 2-mile long Queen Isabella Causeway that connects
Port Isabella and South Padre Island. We found our RV site after we took a
quick tour of the business end of the island. Buildings get thin after a few
miles, followed by miles of sand dunes. I guess you can go for 30 miles
before you hit a canal area separating South Padre from Padre Island and the
National Seashore. You can get a permit to drive along the beach. A barge
crashed into the Causeway Sept 15, 2001, just after 9/11. Five cars fell in
the water and 8 people died. It closed the only land link to the mainland
for 3 months. The whole nation was in mourning from 9/11. It must have been
even more dreadful for this little corner of the nation after this tragedy.
They brought in ferries to get people to and from the island until the
bridge reopened in December.
The next day we biked all over, checked out camping and beach at the big
Isla Blanca County Park next door, sampled all the brews at the Padre Island
Brewery and finished up with $2 all day Happy Hour margaritas at Boomerang
Billy’s Beach Bar. It was quite a day and took us 2 days to recover. The
weather turned and wind howled, so we stayed inside out of the bluster. We
had a view of the bay and it was a lovely campground. There were huge rigs
and lots of Winter Texans as in every RV park. We sat out tornadoes a few
days, one that killed a Texan in the north and that sent the Bush’s into
some armored vehicle for safety at their Crawford ranch.
There were lots of Christmas activities. We went to the Friday night social
hour and gift exchange where you BYOB and an appetizer to share and a $5
gift to exchange. Saturday morning was a $2 Mexican breakfast feed.
Christmas Day was pot luck but the Christmas Eve candle lighting was
postponed due to nasty weather. Karaoke social hour the next Friday and a
nice New Year’s Eve Karaoke gathering with wine and appetizers for $5 a
couple. Every day people gathered on the deck for sunset. Destination turned
over as a KOA park while we were there. Prices are higher and regulars might
not return there next year. Daily price is $35 where it was $24 last year.
We met Ted and Mona from Nebraska who introduced us to Joséé and Dan from
Quebec and Kay and Jerry from California. Joséé and Dan sold their house,
bought a little class B RV and quit their jobs to come to Texas for 6
months. They will return to else. Canadian socialized medicine plan provides
them with health coverage. Kay just lost 50 pounds on the Atkins diet after
she was told she was close to diabetes. She and Jerry walk up to 9 miles per
day, live in their little home and see if their employers will take them
back or if they’ll have to find something here. We went out for pizza one
night and had a fun New Year’s Eve dinner at Louie’s Backyard, an open air
restaurant where we enjoyed a beef and seafood buffet, followed by midnight
fireworks right out there in the bay. It was surprisingly warm and we didn’t
freeze our butts, as we might have.
We left the island on New Year’s Day, not waiting to join our new friends at
the Polar Bear dip at Boomerang Billy’s. Lots of families arrived for
Christmas week and were now leaving. We tried to stay one more day, but all
spots were booked. The rest of the Snowbirds were flocking in.
We drove south thru Brownsville and along the other Rio Grande Valley towns
to our new home at Mission Gardens RV Park, one of our Coast to Coast parks
where we stayed for $13. It was a tired little park but had a nice pool,
WiFi if you sat by the pool or in the clubhouse, lots of activities and
friendly people. We met Sandy from Minnesota who works there with her
husband Jerry as Workampers. They get a free camping site in exchange for
80 hours of work a month between them. They are mid-50’s and will return to
Minnesota to work for the summer. This is their first year spending 6 months
in the south. Their summer employment company covers their health insurance
year round and the RV is home here and in Minnesota.
We drove back to Harlingen for my bike computer and a refrigerator part we
ordered. My cell phone battery wandered around FedEx for 2 weeks and we
rescued it from the company in person just before it was to be returned to
Verizon. The packing slip didn’t include all the information I filled in the
form so the address was incomplete.
We joined the Bingo crowd that night in the RV Park clubhouse. Earlier,
checking in at the office, I heard a Workamper lady say it isn’t just Bingo
… there are more kinds of Bingo than you ever saw before. I wanted to see
this. You buy Bingo cards for a quarter each. Cute cards with slider doors
so you didn’t need the extra Bingo equipment and markers you see in stores.
Every other game was just Bingo or 4 corners, but in between they’d show a
pattern you had to aim for: a 4 or a kite shape or two squares in the upper
corners or full card etc. I won a game. Peeps at our table said ‘3 wins and
we throw you in the pool’. I won again. They said it again. One lady says
‘Don’t worry. I’ve been here 19 years and I never saw 3 wins’. Another lady
says she’s played 10 years and only won once. I win again. Oh oh .. I broke
a 19 year streak. I stayed dry but was asked if I needed an armed guard to
get me back to the rig. Each game had about $3+ and an extra, like a free
pizza or breakfast at Dennys or a line of bowling. We spent $2 on Bingo
cards and took in $8 plus a free ticket to the $2.50 sausage gravy and
biscuit breakfast the next morning and a ‘buy a bag of oranges get a bag of
grapefruit free’ coupon. Ever after people would ask me how I spent my
winnings .. their Bingo money.
Wed and Sat nights listed a Jam on the Activities roster. Wed night, 8 men
and 1 woman were onstage with instruments: a banjo, pedal guitar, fiddle,
steel string guitar and 4 lesser guitars. Sat were 13 men and 1 woman, same
mix plus another fiddle and more guitars. They went round robin and at their
turn they would announce a chord and start in with some Country tune, most
singing, with solos from the banjo, pedal guitar, steel string guitar and
sometimes the ancient fiddle player. Talents varied, but most enjoyable and
the solo instruments outstanding. They broke midway for cookies and coffee.
Bingo night we bought ice cream bars for $.50. They do have fun.
A highlight of the Winter Texan life is the big flea market between Donna
and Weslaco, lots of tacky booths of antiques, collectables, belt buckles,
RV awnings, clothes, bags, books, you name it. We took that in one rainy
morning and I bought lots of novels and a backpack. Another event that we
skipped is going to ROPA stores where new and used clothes are stacked floor
to ceiling and you climb a stack and start searching for bargains that cost
$.20-.50 per pound, varying by store. One lady is said to have found $2k+
jewelry in a child’s coat pocket. An actual lady at Mission Gardens … not
just SOME LADY!
Biking around Mission Gardens was not good and we could only stay a week on
our Coast to Coast membership. Heidi had an on again off again trip to
nearby McAllen in the works since December. Now it was off again, so where
should we go? Could be anywhere. We booked a week nearby at
Village RV Park, as it was next to Bensten State Park
and great bike paths plus free admission to the park. We moved in and had a
busy week … too busy for all the biking we dreamed of. A highlight of the
park is a really nice really hot tub we soaked in a few times and had good
chats with other guests. One couple used a beach towel from Valetta, Malta,
so we chatted about that. Another guy and his wife and 17 year old son were
down for a month from Saskatchewan and we enjoyed his Canada/US comparisons
and his wintry icy trip story coming down.
Monday we went to
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge for a nature
tram tour. Back during the cold wet inside days in Port Aransas, I was
looking at www.rv.net new entries and
followed a thread from a young Michigan couple wondering if they could
travel and work part time. One reply referenced
www.rv-dreams.net, the website of
Howard and Linda Payne from Kentucky. They are one of those growing breed
giving up the corporate life to lead a more relaxed self-directed life and
travel full-time in an RV. Howard and Linda are currently volunteer tram
drivers at Santa Ana and give nature tours 3 times a day twice a week and
canoe nature trips on the river another. In exchange they get a free
campsite, propane, landline phone, electricity and laundry facilities from
Dec thru April 15. We got a wonderful tour with lots of bird sightings and
good information. Later we shared some wine at their RV and learned more
about them, then took them to dinner in McAllen. It is fun to hear other
travel stories. Howard’s entries led us to places we might not have found on
our own: Pepe’s On the
River, The Riverside Club, the hand-operated
Ebanos Ferry to Mexico that was closed for maintenance the day we
. His site also has a Community Forum where we are learning more about a
purchase we are planning .. a satellite internet dish and subscription and
perhaps satellite TV connection.
Wednesday we drove to Progresso, TX, parked the rig for $5 and crossed the
bridge into Progresso, Mexico. No one told us you pay a quarter to go over
and $.30 to return. Of course all of our quarters are in the RV for laundry
money but luckily the change machine worked. I planned to get pesos from an
ATM to get us started in Puerto Vallarta, but at the last minute I couldn’t
let myself agree to a $3 fee for the withdrawal, so we just spent US$. We
didn’t know what to expect except lots of markets and dentists and
pharmacies and such luring you in. It was pretty awful and nothing but junk,
but you could fill all of your prescription needs here. Larry got a $5
haircut and I bought dresses for Jaime and Emily. Lunch and some beers and
we were back over the bridge. Larry got a bottle of Southern Comfort for
$13, then $1.25 tax added by US Customs. A one time trip we had to get out
of our systems. Not for us, but locals and Winter Texans do love the trip.
My haircut lady said they go often for things you can get cheaper there.
Such as? Well … liquor and cigarettes mainly. A Missouri neighbor bought 5
quarts of vanilla to take back home, mostly for their daughters and house
We did get in a good afternoon of biking in Bentsen State Park near the
campground. The park used to be a campground, so roads were wide and well
paved and marked. We hiked some of the trails but found that any wildlife
was at the bird feeding stations. We saw lots of Fox Squirrels, Green Jays,
Altimira Orioles, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and Chachalacas that Linda
pointed out to us. A javelina was lunching at one site and we watched it
from a bird hide. Later we saw 3 more at a watering station. Unfortunately
we didn’t have a camera along. We went back Saturday but the javelinas were
in hiding that day. We saw a road kill javelina when we were biking around
the Sea Breeze weeks ago, but called it a feral pig. Now we realize it was a
javelina, which is pig-like but not a true pig. We also saw a long indigo
snake in a field that day and it took Howard to give us a name to put to it.
Heidi’s business trip to the area was back on. She came in late Saturday via
Houston after her flight thru Dallas was cancelled by icy weather. We went
to Pepe’s for ribs and margaritas and she told us details of her and Brian’s
Germany trip last September when we stayed with the girls. We saw people on
inner tubes crossing the Rio Grande River, some shouting and commotion
followed by a Border Patrol boat racing up without lights. Lots of wetback
crossings we hear, especially with inner tubes, more now because they went
back to Mexico for the holidays and are now returning to the US.
Sunday Heidi took us to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, free admission
with her Milwaukee County Zoo pass reciprocity policy. It had good animals,
lots of Australian animals and good monkeys and chimps. Both the Brownsville
and Milwaukee County zoos had one of their two elephants die recently.
Milwaukee County was awarded the remaining Brownsville elephant because it
has construction plans to support a herd. We felt guilty every time we saw
an elephant symbol or reference.
The temps were near 80 for her stay .. until Monday when they dropped to 40s
and roads and schools and businesses were closed all around the state and
country. Bentsen Palms was full and we had to leave Monday. So we headed
north toward Houston, looking forward to our flight to Puerto Vallarta next
week. Heidi spent Monday at a Brady Corp. plant in Reynosa, Mexico and
returned home Tuesday with little delay. We headed north in rain and wind
and found a tired KOA campground west of Corpus Christi with free WiFi. We
nestled in and WiFi’d for 3 days, running the propane furnace and trying to
keep our feet warm. We need to use up everything in the refrigerator and
freezer so we can turn the fridge off when the rig is parked at the Houston
airport. Temperatures will be in the low 50’s when we leave with rain every
day til then. Yesterday we saw gas prices of $1.999, later one station with
$1.909. Wow … what’s happening??
We have fun listening to KBON Cajun music from Eunice, LA ,
Grand Ole Opry
archives from Nashville , Shamrock Radio from County Mayo Ireland,
Celtic archives from Cape
Breton, Prairie Home Companion archives and more. And you can even watch
Desperate Housewife shows on the computer. We love the Stephanie Miller Show
on morning Progressive radio. She does such wonderful Bush Bashing.
Disturbing really … We really miss it when a campground doesn’t have free or
cheap WiFi, or says they do and it barely works. So … after Mexico, we will
do more research and likely buy an internet satellite system. Then we can
camp anywhere with power. We have decided to also buy a used tow vehicle, so
we can see more sites without driving the rig each day.
All of this when we get back ‘home’ to Deirdre’s house ... before we head to
Alaska for the summer. After Mexico, we’ll head west thru Texas, spend some
time in Arizona and head back toward Washington. Check back mid-April to see
where we are and how much fun we had. We have 4 days before and 5 days after
we spend a condo week with Carl and Mary Zmeskal Tighe, Joe and Sarah
Schmitz Piller, Susie Kelly Kampman and Ruth Kahl. Temps are always right
around 80 in Puerto Vallarta, so we are excited. Texas has disappointing
temperatures this winter, though last year most days were near 90, one
Wisconsin guy told us. That El Nino!!! Whenever we’re having awful cold wet
windy weather, it’s always worse in the rest of the country, so we have to
stop whining. We met lots of people, many Canadians, passing right through
for a few months on Mexican beaches. That will be fun some year too!!! We
are hoping friends Sid and Ruth from Melbourne can join us this
year. Sid has one more operation and may be able to travel … the big
As we begin to head south for the winter, it is surely time to write about
our great summer. It is good to be back in the U.S. to see family and
friends and shop and eat our way around the country once again. We bought an
RV and are doing the North American tour. Our favorite road sign so far is
‘Honk if you miss Pluto”. We laugh at that one repeatedly.
Deirdre picked us up from the airport after our 5 months in Costa Rica and
we started the eating frenzy with chicken wings and beers. The next morning
she and grandpup Murrey drove us around to 5 or 6 RV dealers. Each one had
only one or no used RV of the short class C we were looking for. If a dealer
had one, it had just come in and was being cleaned as we checked it out and
would be sold soon. We settled on a 1991 24’ Fleetwood Jamboree with the bed
over the cab, bunk beds and sleeping in the dinette area. It has 7 seatbelts
so we can take Deirdre, Heidi, Jaime and Emily riding. And it had only 21k
miles and is in excellent condition. It is much smaller than most, but when
you’re coming up from a tent, a fixed bed, toilet, shower, oven, microwave,
fridge, and TV are exciting again. The bikes ride comfortably on a rack on
the back. They will still be our main transport until we join other RVers
and pull a ‘toad’ .. a towed car.
We still visited the RV show in Puyallup the following week and saw a couple
nice models we could upgrade to in a few years, but we were still happy with
our decision. We dropped into a Camping World store to check out what
goodies we’d need for the RV when it was ready for us to pick up. We
accepted a free chocolate chip cookie from a young group in the lobby who
offered us a $50 gas card if we accompanied one of them a mile up the road
to hear about an RV resort park membership. Naturally we bought a
membership. It was the $ensible thing to do. With it we can camp in the 8
Washington member parks free for 14 days at a time, but more important it
allows us membership in Resort Parks International and Coast to Coast so we
can pay $8 per night to camp for 7-14 days in other member parks all around
the country plus a few in Canada and Mexico. Deirdre thinks there is a big S
on our foreheads. Well .. maybe … There is that timeshare from Malta too ….
Three days after we got back, Deirdre found a house in Maple Valley to buy
and her offer was accepted. She gave up on her Doggy Daycare Dream because
it requires 5 acres and she wasn’t finding lots she could afford and
realtors were telling her it would take up to 2 years for paperwork to build
if she could. We worked hard all of May packing up what we could and working
on the many projects she’d started on her Kent house. We moved in Memorial
Day weekend, took a day off, then went back to Kent to finish up there. On
June 22 at 5pm the realtor took pictures and put the listing on the
internet. June 23 a realtor showed it to a couple and Deirdre’s realtor
found an offer for the asking price waiting at the house June 24. It was
accepted and the whole thing closed July 3. It is an amazing market out
there. The new house is great. It is a big manufactured house on 1.3 acres
of manicured islands of bushes and bamboo. It is in the country, same
distance from work and on a Private Road. The neighbors try to keep all
traffic to 8 mph and the former owners of Deirdre’s house monitored traffic
and yelled and raised fists when needed. They all hope she will continue.
Elk roam the road during apple season, one neighbor reports. She has fenced
the whole thing for Murrey and the cats.
In early June I flew to Milwaukee to help Heidi bring Jaime and Emily to
Seattle for a week. It was great to be in the new house for the visit. Jaime
slept in the RV with Grandma and PopPop 5 nights. We fed carrots to the
horses down the street and doggie treats to two dogs that the former owners
of Deirdre’s house always used to feed. At least 4 houses down the road have
horses. The lot on the corner has 3 cute brown goats with long floppy ears.
They like carrots and celery too. We visited the animals at Port Defiance
Zoo near Tacoma and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Mount Rainier. We
ordered tickets for an orca watching tour from San Juan Island, and then
missed the ferry to the island due to heavy traffic. We were lucky to be
able to charter a small plane to take us all for less than $200, so we
didn’t miss the nice lunch at the Friday Harbor Brew pub. The orcas put on a
good show for us. We had a really fun visit with the girls and were happy to
get to know Emily.
We tried out the motor home by attending an Adventure Cycling 30th
anniversary event where Willie Weir was the guest speaker. We parked at a
KOA campground in Kent and bought a membership there too, which has saved us
$$ several times since. Willie is a bicycle adventure writer for Adventure
Cycling magazine and works for public radio in Seattle. He writes great
tales of his travels in New Zealand, Turkey, Cuba, Thailand, Laos and
elsewhere. We had such fun we took a few more days and Murrey and visited
two of our new K/M RV resort parks on the Olympic Peninsula. Murrey was fun
to have along, but it showed us we aren’t ready for a pet again. We want to
bike and don’t want to have to walk a dog many times every day.
We hung around for a barbeque Deirdre had for friends and co-workers. It was
nice to meet and visit with her workmates and her friend Tara’s parents.
They enjoyed a hot sunny afternoon on her big back deck and in the shade of
her bamboo. Carl and Mary Zmeskal Tighe came to Portland just then for 2
weeks, so we took Amtrak down and spent a few days with them. Gordy and
Kitty Kelly Bushman joined us on Sunday and Kitty introduced us to pinot
noir from the Willamette Winery where their son-in-law works. Larry loved
it, so later Deirdre bought all she could find at Safeway and surprised us
with quite a few bottles to take east.
We told Mary and Carl again that we would be in Wisconsin by August 17, to
pick up Deirdre at the airport to see Grandma and attend Uncle Donny’s 70th
birthday party. A few days after we returned from Portland, the mail brought
an invitation to Mary and Carl’s 25th wedding anniversary party, to be
hosted by their friend Ruth Kahl in Delavan, WI. Why hadn’t they mentioned
anything? They didn’t want to pressure us to return early but we had no
idea, as the invitation was delayed by the address change. Naturally we are
not ones to miss a good party, so we determined to cross the country by the
party date, July 30.
Deirdre’s good friend Kadi Jo Miller insisted we stay and come to dinner
Friday. Her dad was in the nursing home following a stroke 2 years ago, and
Kadi is living in his beautiful Kirkland home with an amazing view of Lake
Washington. We are so happy we stayed. We had a wonderful visit and as her
dad died this month, she may not be living there next time we’re in
Washington. In the days between Portland and Kadi’s dinner, Larry installed
a ceiling fan and air conditioner in Deirdre’s bedroom and built Murrey a
covered shelter in his kennel. Larry is like the energizer bunny at times.
We set out to follow US HY 2 from Washington to Wisconsin. We spent the
first night at Soap Lake, a heavily mineralized lake that is considered
spa-like and easy to swim in. The area is beautiful but the water was too
muddy to get near. The area is known as Dry Falls and was carved 300k years
ago during the Ice Age. It is nearly empty of water now, but was a raging
river 3 times wider and deeper than Niagara Falls.
For the next 2 days we followed some of the route we bicycled with Cycle
America in 1994 when we crossed Washington, a bit of Idaho and Montana, into
Canada and Glacier Park Highway to the Sun. We couldn’t go to the sun this
trip as the vehicle limit is 20’. But we did revisit the route from Grand
Coulee thru an Indian Reservation to Newport, WA, Kootenai Falls and the
road along Lake Koocanusa to Eureka, MT. We are pretty amazed at the biking
we did then.
We continued across Montana and North Dakota, staying at our $8 campgrounds
when possible. We spent a night with Larry’s cousin John and Carole Rusch
near Gordon, WI and had a great visit and dinner with them. The next night
we visited Dave and Marilyn Holly Gigure near Siren, WI, friends from
Manitowoc who Larry worked with in Rhinelander eons ago. Again, good to
catch up after many years. This RVing is fun.
So we surprised Mary and Carl .. the night before the party actually, as we
didn’t want to miss any pre-party fun at their house with cousin Susie Kelly
Kampman and Minneapolis friends Joel and Betty Flentje Schleifer. There was
a request for no anniversary gifts, but we didn’t think it counted if we
gave them some Willamette wines we shared in Portland, some eraser tops for
their Sudoku pencils and some sand dollars from Washington.
We all had a good time at Donny Schiesl’s 70th birthday party in Eagle
River. The weather wasn’t great and the pontoon ride was brisk, but it was
fun to see all the Schiesls and my nieces and nephew and families. Jaime and
Emily had fun in the motel swimming pool and we had a great perch fry at a
northwoods bar. The next night we enjoyed pizza and beer at the Pizza Garden
in Manitowoc with Larry’s family and a great bunch of old friends. It was
fun to reconnect with Jim Chadek and Dick Malek, friends we had many a beer
with in the ‘60s but haven’t seen in decades. Too soon it was time for
Deirdre to return to Seattle.
The rest of the time we partied with friends and ate our way around
Wisconsin. We had burgers at Krolls in Green Bay several times, at Lates in
Manitowoc and even at Micky Lu’s in Marinette. We met up with friends at the
Memorial Union and Capital Brewery. We visited friends Gerry and Kenny
Meicher at their Muscoda trailer and land and enjoyed an ATV ride. We caught
up with Donna and Dan Winger in Marinette from my teaching days in 1969 and
Norm and Jo Bertler Teaford in Cecil. Lunch at Krolls with my Aunt Peg Kane
and some cousins. And a nice visit with Joy King in Milwaukee, a wonderful
woman Diane Gerl Sedlacek and I met at Women’s Week at Girl Scout Camp more
than 20 years ago. And lots of other great dinners and laughs with Madison
friends and the biking friends we met on that Washington ride in 1994.
Thanks to you all for your hospitality and for coming out to party with us.
We had a great warm colorful fall week in Door County .. a few days at an $8
campground, a few days at the Bailey’s Harbor Yacht Club with Tighes and a
few days with Barb and Greg Sheehy at their new Fish Creek condo with a
great dinner including my cousin Sue and Dave Bartel. We were glad we were
still around for Bob Steffen’s 60th birthday party and lots of Spring Harbor
A special time was the 10 days we spent at Heidi’s house staying with Jaime
and Emily and the dogs. Heidi was sent to Germany to certify a piece of
equipment for her job at Brady Corp., so she and Brian went early and
traveled in Europe for 10 days. We had a great time, loved every minute AND
were happy to see Brian return as we were just exhausted. I’d hoped to
connect with a bunch of people in Milwaukee, but we were just too tired to
even think of it. But it was fun and a great way to get to know the darling
grandchildren we choose to leave so often.
Medical appointments went well. I was worried about some bouts of double
vision I’d been having, but the Dr. said it was dry eyes. One dose of eye
drops and no problem. I thought I’d need some dental work, but the dentist
could see no problem. Change toothpaste and no problem. We hung around while
Larry recorded blood pressure readings and he may have been prescribed some
blood pressure meds, but his new Dr. called in sick 3 days running and we
didn’t stay around any longer in the cold and rain for her to return. We’ll
have to take care of it from the road.
So we’re off now .. following the sun .. at least looking for it right now.
Campgrounds are closing, snow is falling and we need to boogey. Our first
stop is in Nashville to hear some country music, visit the museum and attend
the 81st anniversary Grand Ole Opry shows. Later we’ll stop to see Rick and
Carol Loberger Hagerbaumer in the Memphis area. Rick came to Madison in
August for the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival and Carol’s sister
Mary Ellen Spoerke got tickets for us .. a special treat as tickets sell out
immediately. We all enjoyed many samplings and we look forward to tasting
Rick’s home brews. He has a website
www.bigfoamyhead.com you should check out if you love beer and want to
learn more and hear Rick’s podcast from this festival and others. Those boys
know beer. We’ll spend the winter in the south, on to Texas, New Mexico,
Arizona and beyond, staying at our $8 resorts along the way. We’ll meet Mary
and Carl Tighe, Joe and Sarah Schmitz Piller, Susie Kelly Kampman and Ruth
Kahl in Puerto Vallarta in January.
Let us know if you’ll be down south anytime and we’ll see if we can hook up.
We were hoping Sid and Ruth Chapman from Melbourne would visit us here, but
Sid recently had surgery for bladder cancer and he isn’t up to traveling
yet. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Next year maybe …….
We’ll mostly be laying seaside or poolside now .. in our dreams for sure, so
we’ll post an update quarterly for now. Check back in January for our winter
adventures. Meanwhile we’ll be dual PC WiFi-ing wherever it is offered. We
have a cell phone, so give us a call. Free minutes weekends 206-595-6687.