Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Happy Birthday Wishes!!

Just to confirm with everyone, YES, we are, indeed home!!

We have been looking after Gus & Jasper since Kathy & Josh left for a nice time away for four days so it has been pretty busy around their house. No time for posting, that's for sure. Lots of fun for sure!! I will keep you up to date once we are back at home on Thursday.

This post is to wish our amazing son, Josh, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We hope he and Kathy have an awesome time relaxing tomorrow!! Thanks for always keeping us on our toes, for all your support and for all your love.

You turned out pretty damn good.....if we must say so ourselves!!

Here's a Happy Birthday "thumbs-up" to you, with one of your two
favourite little guys!! (...Jasper just couldn't reach the stool!!)
We LOVE you!!
Peace everyone!!
Thought for the Day: It doesn’t matter where you are going, it’s who you have beside you.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Catch-up Time!

Okay, first of all, we are H-O-M-E!! Super happy to be here that's for sure. I left you with the proverbial "cliff-hanger", didn't I?

We left San Carlos on March 16th, just on time, early actually at 6:45 am. Pretty happy about that. We decided to cross a little west of Nogales AZ at Lukeville AZ. We have heard great things about how easy it is. Off we went........It takes about 4 hours to get to Santa Ana on the Mex15. At this point, the road splits in a "Y". One way goes to Nogales and the other way goes towards the Lukeville crossing. If you choose to go through Nogales, you will be at the US border in about 1 hour. If you go through Lukeville, it will take you about 3 hours. We had researched and found that we "thought" that we were to turn in our vehicle permit in San Emeterio. Well, that information was wrong. As we drove up the highway, we passed a lovely, huge new building that we assumed to be the new customs and immigration only building. We must have both missed any potential sign that said "vehicle permit" or Banjercito. This new building is near Pitiquito, which is south of Caborca. Anyway, the funny part (no, not really) was we continued to drive another 100+ kms up the road to San Emeterio. Got out and went across the highway to find the office where we turn in the permit. The gent told us that they had changed to the new building down by Pitiquito 2 years ago!! Yikes. No other option but to back track down the sometimes bumpy highway in 37C heat. We arrived back at that new customs and immigration building and turned in the vehicle permit. Then.......you got it, we headed BACK up that same highway to the Lukeville border. When we had arrived at San Emeterio, we were actually only about 20 kms from the US border so it was a huge bummer. Oh well, live and learn and learn we did indeed!! This error not only cost us about 240 kms but also about 3 hours of our time.

Much later (like the aforementioned 3 hours) we turned in our tourist visas and had our passports stamped out (......the only other thing left to do) on the Mexican side at Sonoyta. The Lukeville border was, indeed, very quiet and for the first time in our three years of doing this we did not have to go into the secondary inspection on the US side so we really liked that part. Would we take that route again? I am not sure. Not because of the mistake or the "episode" as I like to call it but because once I leave San Carlos, I like the fact that in about four hours we are at the US border with all permits, tourist visas returned and passports stamped out. Now, the wait at the Nogales AZ border is sometimes a bit lengthy. We have twice encountered at least 1+ hours in the hot sun waiting in the line-up to cross (and we do not have A/C) but, we are familiar with it. Going the new way, once you leave San Carlos, it takes about 6 hours to hit the border. Guess we will have to decompress the trip and figure out which way we prefer. This year we had figured out our US route homeward as going up through Gila Bend (straight up from Lukeville) so it was important that we went that way.  Also, sometimes if you make a mistake, like we did, you almost have to go back and finish it so it doesn't defeat you. Glad we did that. But, more fun was still to come......

After crossing into the US, we enjoyed the drive through Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Park, it was really pretty. I was driving through the little town of Ajo AZ when the battery light came on. I reported this immediately to the head mechanic who was relaxing in the passenger's seat. Needless to say, he nearly jumped out of that seat. We stopped at the gas station (the ONLY gas station we saw in town) for him to try and inspect anything obvious and he was pretty sure that it was the alternator starting to go. We had no choice but to carry on and "hope" that the van would get us to Gila Bend. Well, a hair-raising hour later it got us there to the little overnight campground. Phew.....what a day that was. Not only were we late due to our boo-boo on the permit episode but the down time at the gas station too. It was a dark drive in the desert that's for sure.....

In the morning by some miracle, the van still started up and we headed off to a repair shop in Gila Bend but they couldn't help us so it was off to Buckeye, 30 miles away.
What a great shop we ended up at..... "2 Amigos Llantera & Mecanico".....sounds like we are back in Mexico doesn't it?! Eric there was amazing and they even had the part in town so it was sent directly over to the garage and an hour and a half later, Eric had us on our way for $240 US. Pretty good price and we were very happy. Now, we were running about 4 hours behind schedule. We decided that we would try to get to our original second US stop in Coalinga CA, quite a ways up the I-5. It is about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. As luck would have it, it was rush hour when we hit the Los Angeles basin.....oh joy!
We did get to the Coalinga RV stop and the rest of the trip unfolded as planned. We were both glad that we pushed through to get ourselves re-aligned to our "planned" schedule. After this it was on to Myrtle Creek (about 70 miles north of Medford OR) and then home. Phew!!!

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more road pictures....... 

A load of plastic water tanks that sit on the
roof of nearly every Mexican home.

Somewhere on the road by Caborca/Pitiquito...

Tiny little building at the back of the huge new customs building
where the young gal takes your permit sticker off and records everything...
So simple when you know it's here!!!

Third time we had passed by this tanker truck that had caught on fire....

Ah, this is the hill coming down into San Emeterio. The immigration
and customs building is on the left. If you look closely you can see 
all the trucks waiting to go through inspection....two kms worth!!
 Anyway, DO NOT go here to return your vehicle permit!!

Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Park - Back in the USA!!
Thursday, March 17th...
If you run into car trouble near Buckeye AZ, this is where you can go!

Walking around while the van was being fixed we saw this store.
I'm not sure a Drive Thru smoke shop is a good idea?!!

...and just down the road! But this one a person has to actually
WALK into! Preposterous!!

Outskirts of Los Angeles rush hour traffic on the I-5.
This goes on for probably 75 miles through that L.A.basin.
Unbelievable to think people drive this everyday....

Going through the legendary (at least to those in the transportation industry)
Grapevine Hill. Pretty steep at 4,150 ft!! Still 121 MILES from
Coalinga and darkness is coming fast.
Friday, March 18th.
Heading north out of the Coalinga CA area....

Loads of orchards in and around the Tracy CA area. We enjoyed
this drive SO much better than Hwy 99 that runs through Bakersfield...

Heading up and into the Mt Shasta Nat'l Park area in northern California

Way up into the Mt Shasta area is this awesome stop. It has been
here since 1928. Same restaurant and fuel spot.
Loved it and wish we hadn't had lunch already!!!
Step back in time, won't you.....

Mt Shasta peaking through the trees....

...and from the back (north) side on the flats.
Quite impressive!!
Road snacks.....prepped by Doug!

Last stop in Myrtle Creek OR on March 18th.
Pretty typical highway RV stop.
Lots of permanent trailers here but nice enough facilities....

Great diner just a short walk down the road.
Excellent Mexican fare - imagine!!
Leaving Myrtle Creek OR on Saturday, March 19th.
Can home be much further??

Getting closer!!

More road appy's. Doug felt I was
trying to "one-up" his pretzel Goldfish snacks from yesterday!!


The beautiful Peace Arch border monument!

Welcome Home!!!!
Wow - that was quite the ride home, wasn't it? Hope you enjoyed it.......Sorry for the long post but believe it or not, I have actually left out a few details!! Imagine!!
That's it for now. We safely travelled 10,091 kms back to home. I will do my Mexico 2016 wrap up soon. Thanks to everyone for coming along with us!!
Thought for the Day: "There's no place like home".....Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  

Friday, 18 March 2016

Day Three in the USA

Can't post right now more than a few words. But, oh boy, do I have LOTS of fun stories to share with you!! We have had some challenges including hundreds of kms of backtracking due to missing the new building to turn in your vehicle permit  in Pitiquito (NOT SAN EMERTERIO) and the van needing a repair....just wait!

We are in our third US city. We are currently in a little town just north of Medford OR with, once again, no internet so I am posting this through my phone. We will be home in White Rock tomorrow and I promise, to catch you all up in the next few days......

Until then - one more day to go!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

San Carlos (Day 2)

Okay, so we lazed about today (yes, this is the theme of the entire winter retreat, isn't it?) but it is our last full day in this great country so we didn't want to rush about with anything!

We did, however, ride our bikes for a little ways to the bank and then discovered that I had a flat(ish) tire so we returned back. Of course, that then lead to "well, I think we should go to the restaurant next door and have a margarita to celebrate the fact that this is our last day here" so that is what we did.

I know, hopeless......

This is where it all began 2-1/2 months ago. I know, hard to believe!!
...and we weren't nearly so tanned either!! I would say
more of a ghastly white-ish hue....

Lovely beach with the most magnificent assortment of rocks.....

 San Carlos Bay-new header shot. Like it??

Just walking the beach is one of our favourite things to do.... 
Oh, and maybe pick up a few shells and things....
I don't know why. I think you can call it an obsession of mine.

And with this last note to you all (above), we are out of Mexico tomorrow morning. We will leave here about 7:00 am (....gasp). Oh, there will be plenty more to tell you about so don't worry. We have a three day journey home to BC so I am sure that will be filled with a few fun stories. Should be spending the evening in Gila Bend AZ tomorrow evening so until then........"Bye for Now" and love from Mexico!!
See you tomorrow in the U.S.A.!!!
Peace....go right to bed everyone!!
Thought for the Day: Home is not a place. It is a feeling....

Monday, 14 March 2016

Mazatlan to San Carlos (777 Kms)

One thing we learned from our Nova Scotia buddy, Jerry, is that always fuel up when you arrive AT a town. No matter how long you are stopped. That way, you have a full tank of gas and when it is time to leave early one morning, you can just GO!! (I know, sometimes the obvious just escapes a person.....) Anyway, thanks Jer!!

This was a L-O-N-G haul today. Many tool booths and many very bad road miles later, we are here in San Carlos. It is always our first point when we are heading down south and our last point when we are coming back home. Nice park but the town doesn't do it for me. Just okay for me but for no particular reason.

Road pictures. They aren't always the best but they do show some of the interesting things that crossed our line of vision today.....hang on!

Ahemm....Just for those who think we NEVER see a sunrise!
Here is what 5:50 a.m. in Mazatlan looks like!

When is it ever "too much" on a truck here??

Mr. Serious!!

Every once in a little while now there is just ONE palm tree on the side of the road.
Oh, and corn. Lots and lots of corn!!

Okay, time for comic relief.....

Costa Rica?? Who knew that it was THIS close!!??

Crops, crops and more crops....

Very well run and organized farms.
Tons of agricultural through here.

Part of the crop (whatever it is) covered....

Even the OXXO store has it's own rooster and chicken...

I don't know. I thought they were making a break
for it and were going to get in the van!

Ridiculous....Burger King AND McDonald's....of course!

Oh look, more corn!!

Cows on the side of the road....naturally.

Getting close to Navojoa now. More and more desert-like.

Everyone on our side of the divided road now as the southbound
side was being worked on
Just to be clear on the road situation. Coming north out of Mazatlan, the roads are lovely. Just what we like. Once you are further north, like north of Navojoa, they get somewhat worse. By the time you get to Cuidad Obregon and north, they are spectacularly terrible. We pretty much felt like we were in a pinball machine, darting this way and that, in an attempt to avoid the potholes and rough sections. Some of the ones that we hit seemed as though they would break the van and/or tires apart. Those type that make you wince when you slam into them!! Sheesh. Lots of the newer sections coming so hopefully next year it will be better. Sorry, I digress.......just needed to clarify!
Keep in mind that we are all going about 100 kms an hour at this point,
and the divided highway is still not fixed so the traffic is coming at us...
At the toll booth, one of the Green Angels.
These mechanics go up and down this main highway (and others too) and help out
motorists in need. They always speak some English and do whatever it takes
to get you mobile again...real life savers sometimes. Thus the "Angel" name....

Typical traffic going through these towns....

Not sure why you would plastic wrap wooden skids.....

South of Cuidad Obregon

Oh, just for a giggle. This is what it looks like
behind me EVERY DAY when we travel!!

Cuidad Obregon. A pretty fair sized town.
Can't have a big town without a Walmart...well, you can actually!

Again, right along the lousy truck route....

Mexico's very much touted bus system. Many, many great
companies like Primer Plus and Tufesa. First class buses everywhere.
Anyone from Greyhound listening out there????
The mountains get really very pretty on this part of the trip. It's a good
thing too because by this point you are pretty much ready to throw in the
towel due to the extremely terrible road conditions!

Notice the elevation on the GPS? It shows that we are actually
2 meters below sea level! Pretty funny. We are 78 kms south of
our destination, San Carlos, at this point and it is about 4:00 p.m.
You can see I am going well under the speed limit due to the crappy roads...
Nice spot for two sleeps.....

Totonaka RV Park.....

Alright, that was a long 10 hours, including stops (which weren't very long) but we made it. Absolutely terrible roads and we are hoping that they are better next year!!
Let's see what we get up to tomorrow....
Peace and goodnight, this Monday night from Mexico.
Thought for the Day: When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many more things that are still going right.