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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Left Arizona on to Las Cruces, NM

Thursday a.m.

Surprise Surprise! We are in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Decided about 9:30 yesterday morning that we didn’t want to spend another day in Arizona. So off we went.
Stopped for the evening in a KOA in Las Cruces, NM. Going to spend a couple of days here.
Except for a low tire we discovered in Lordsburg, NM it was a pretty uneventful drive. Stopped for gas at a Flying J and The Driver trumped the tires. One instead of going Thump Thump went Bummp Bummp – Not good. Ate lunch at Denny’s and checked the phone book – there was a truck tire place right down the road.
Yep he could fix it – turned out it was a bad valve stem. Took about 20 minutes to fix it. Then came the bill Dismount/mount $40 + valve stem $2 = $47 + tax- $3 = $50…….new math? Creative addition? Discussed total and paid $45 in the end.
Another change in the time for us – New Mexico has Daylight Savings Arizona didn’t. Got late quick.
Lots of California cars on the highway going east – like three out of every five! What do they know that others don’t?
Passing a boat on the road. It was a big one.
And some of the only pretty scenery. Mostly it was just plain flat desert.
We did cross the Continental Divide – does that mean were in the east?
For the first time in a long time saw signs of wild life along the highway. Unfortunately the first one was deceased – a bobcat. Then crossing the desert a coyote ran into the brush next to the road.
Staying here today and going to explore around here a little.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doing Nothing in the Desert

Wednesday a.m.

Yesterday was another do nothing day. We went to McDonalds for an early lunch. Been awhile since we’ve been to one. I see their prices have gone up too. Put some gas in the Jeep. It’s $3.559 a gallon here – glad we filled up Jennie in Mexico when we did. We’ll be able to get a few miles before another filling. Walked around the True Value Hardware store for a bit. We saw a squirrel proof bird feeder we liked – maybe we’ll be able to find a couple when we get home. The feeder is inside a big metal open ball shape that the squirrels can’t fit through. It is made by or distributed by Gardman
Several on-line places sell it. Probably not supposed to post a picture of it but it looks like a neat thing to use.
Made the mistake of taking a nap in the afternoon – So up until late – had no problem finishing a book before nodding off.
The weather here is so perfect – cool at night and in the low 80s during the day. At home there were snow showers again last night. And our house sitter says the yard is a mess from all the storms but the weather continues to be so bad he hasn’t been able to get anyone up there to clean it up. He also says at least some of our fishies (koi and goldfish) made it through the winter. He sees them swimming around when the sun is out. I never thought I's say this but I'm looking forward to be going up and down the stairs at home. Jennie is getting VERY VERY small and confining.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A little history in Tumacacori Arizona

Tuesday a.m.

Surprise! Surprise! We are still in Amado, Arizona. So much for our plans – we won’t be leaving here until Thursday. Why Thursday? Well we were looking at the weather reports and it is still SNOWING at home. No rush to get there. So lets stay another day – then realized we’d get a better rate if we were here a full week so okay – BUT WAIT – if we stay a full week not only do we get a better rate we get an extra day too. So that’s why Thursday.
Watched the NASCAR race Sunday of course – Kyle lead 151 of 200 laps but not the important one – the final one. Oh well.
Since we’ve been here I’ve been watching the little tree next to us. It barely had little buds when we got here. Yesterday the buds started opening and turning into pretty little leaves – Spring is here – in Arizona anyway.
Spring has sprung here in AZ
Yesterday morning we went out to breakfast – Yum and then to Wal*Mart for a couple of things we’d forgotten and a new razor for The Driver as his took a crap. After coming home (?) and putting things away we decided to go a little south on the I-19 to Tumacacori. There is an old mission there I wanted to check out.  And luckily it is a National Park so we could use our Golden Age or Senior Pass – whatever it is called now – so we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee.
The original church was founded by Jesuit Padre Eusebio Kino (he really got around) in early 1691. Kino founded the mission San Cayetano de Tumacacori on the banks of the Santa Cruz River. In 1767 the King of Spain banished the Jesuits from the area. The Franciscans eventually took over the area. They started to rebuild the church in 1800 – this is the church that stands here today.

The poverty of the area and the wars in Mexico and with the Indians eventually led to the missions abandonment in 1848. Soldiers abandoned the Presidio at Tubac and the last residents left Tumacacori. In 1853 with the Gasden Purchase the area became part of the US.
We were lucky to catch up with a tour that had just started. Looking in the church towards the altar with its domed ceiling.

Some of the original decorations on the walls.
There are 12 of these “frames” around the altar area. They are thought to have been portraits of the Apostles
A closer look at the ceiling.
Looking towards the front of the church. The roof is new. According to the priest who was conducting the tour the original roof was stripped away by the area ranchers and farmers who utilized the already cut and formed beams for their buildings. When the time came to restore the church the architects just went around to the neighboring ranches and measured the “borrowed” beams and framing to get accurate measurements to rebuild the present roof.

One of the side altars, there are four of them. This church never had the side aisles of most churches.
remains of a side altar
A rendering of what the church looked like in its glory

very colorful interior
The priest said that during the time the church was abandoned it was not necessarily unused. Many, many people used it as a convenient “Motel Six.” Many leaving graffiti behind. Including a faded signature from General Black Jack Pershing.
Behind the church is a small cemetery with a round building that was a Mortuary/Chapel. According to the priest the King of Spain decreed it should be built to house the dead before they were buried. A man before his times – this kept the bodies of those who had died of diseases such as measles and small pox isolated.

Then we visited the storage building.
The grounds were surrounded by a wall that had niches for the Stations of the Cross.
There is also living quarters on the grounds – called a convent.

One of the roofless rooms with a fireplace.
Just a look at the church through some of the winter sleeping bushes. Can’t you imagine it 200 years ago?
A bunch of poppies blooming in the garden
Very interesting visit. On the way back to the campground – what is this? A check point? Yep border patrol check point. Had to roll the back windows of the Jeep down so they could see in.
Today The Driver seems to have been bitten by a cleaning bug. He is going at it full force. Jennie really needs a thorough cleaning – so much sand and dust in here. But there is only so much we can do while still on the road. It'll take weeks to do a good job once we're home.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our last day in Arizona -

Sunday a.m.

Up early again so now I’ve got the whole day to do it in and nothing to do! Well actually I do have something to do later - watch the Cup race sometime around noon.
Go Kyle – good call in yesterday’s Nationwide race. Love to watch the number 18 win.
Just found out that there was a big wild fire in Big Pine, CA – my oldest son and wife live there. They had to evacuate but wind shifted and fire went around their place. Lots of their friends lost everything though. Every thing except the cars they got away in. 19 homes completely destroyed. With all the snow and rain the California Sierras have had this year you wouldn’t think there would be a wild fire this early in the season. Just never know when your whole life can change in a second.
Our friend/house sitter in Indiana called us yesterday – well his phone called us – but we ended up talking with him – says they were expecting three inches of snow last night. Come on weather – it’s supposed to be Spring already! Glad we’re still here in the south. Will really be watching the weather as we head across the states.
I want to mention the campground we’re staying in here in Amado, AZ. It is called the Mountain View RV. Full hook ups, WiFi, book and video exchange, laundry. We’ve stayed here either on our way down or back from Mexico for the last three years. Every year it gets nicer. The people who now own it have really been making improvements and they are such nice people. If you should come this way check it out.
Watched a soccer game between the US and Argentine national teams last night - it ended in a 1 - 1 tie. US is getting better and better.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Staying in Arizona until Monday

Saturday a.m.

We are still in Arizona – and don’t seem to be getting ready to get going this morning.
Yesterday we did the laundry. I got spoiled in Mexico – took the dirty clothes in and got them back all clean and folded.
Got my NASCAR fix yesterday watched most of the afternoon. Kyle wrecked his Cup car before he even made one lap around the track. But still managed to qualify 8 And Bill got to see a soccer game or two.
We still haven’t figured out how we are going home. Will start out on the I-10 at least as far as Deming, NM. Kind of would like to go to Roswell, NM – the weather there seems to be okay. But still terrible in Indiana – snow – rain and cold.
Well its noon now and we’ve decided to stay here until Monday. So went out to breakfast and then to Wal*Mart to get a few things we need.
Looking forward to watching the Nationwide race this afternoon – if the weather holds in California.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lazy Day in Amado, AZ

Friday a.m.

We may or may not leave here today. Are we lazy or anxious to get home? Maybe we’ll just wait until this next big storm going through the plains is over. Though if we take the 10 east we’ll be below it. Decisions!!! We are thinking about going as far as Deming, NM for the first leg of the trip across – but as always our plans are subject to change.
Haven’t done much since we’ve been here. Just grocery shopping and go out to eat. I like that part.
The restaurant just across the freeway, the Cow Palace, has the best food – breakfast, lunch and dinners. Went there for steak last night – delicious – first good steak we’ve had since we left here in the fall.
Went grocery shopping to Safeway yesterday afternoon. Bacon is $8 a package???? A little bit of sticker shock there. And Folger Coffee $12! What really caught our attention while in the store were the customers. We aren’t what I’d consider young (72 & 74) – but everyone else shopping there made us look like kids. I’ve never seen so many senior - senior citizens in one place in my life. But then there are lots and lots of retirement communities in this area south of Tucson. Not sure how I felt about the employees working there…..they were almost too helpful as if they were dealing with people who no longer had all the lights on.
We found some of The Driver’s favorite sugar – Bakers Sugar – it is extra fine and he likes it for his coffee – so we bought four or five boxes ‘cause we can’t find it anywhere near home.
Dug out all our US maps and camping books and put all the Mexico stuff away. We ended up with just a little over 600 Pesos when we crossed the border. About $50 – one more toll booth and we’d of been short. In a couple of days we’ll be putting our shorts and t-shirts away and dragging out the heavier clothes. It still get darn cold here in Arizona at night. Had the little electric heater running all night last night. Yesterday morning I turned the main heat on when I got up – it was only 50 in here! Warms up nice during the day though.
Saw on the news that there was a shooting in a school in a little town not to far from where we live – any people think Mexico is dangerous.
Enough for now – no pictures yesterday – my camera is probably in shock.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vehicle Permits, Tourist Cards and Potatoes -back in USofA

Thursday a.m..

We got up early yesterday and left Sonora RV in Hermosillo at 7:00 – first we had to go south to a retorno so we could get back on Mexico 15D to go north. No problem wasn’t too far and traffic was light. Before we got three miles we encountered the first of three toll booths to the border. 33 US dollars before we crossed the border. This section of the road they should have paid us to use. Either it was in pretty bad condition or under construction with all traffic in either the northbound or southbound lanes. By next year it should be fine.
About sixty miles further up the road was a Military Check point – mainly for trucks.

Usually the trucks all take the right lane and the cars and busses take the left lane and get right through. The truck back up is usually three to five kilometers long! As we approached the area the big trucks were in both lanes at a dead stop – crap.
He is coming over -notice double trailer
Slowly we inched forward. Smaller cars and pickups were pulling off the highway and going up the dirt center medium. Zipping past us. Finally we saw the problem – there was a truck stalled in the right lane and everyone had to go around him. Once past the trucks pulled back into there own lane and we were on our way again.
Just got asked where we were coming from and where we were going at the check point. About a 15 minute delay from first stop to getting through is all.
This section of the highway has lots more topes on it than other sections. So we had to be sure to watch for them. Especially around the little towns of Santa Ana and Magdalena. Made a stop for gas just before Santa Ana – another nice station – this one had a garden with a fountain and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
And at each tope there was something for sale – from food to copper pots and pans, furniture and even blankets.
the yellow sign is a TOPE warning
We had to turn in our Vehicle Permits and tourists cards before leaving Mexico. We knew where we were supposed to do it – right across the street from where we got them. But we weren’t sure how to do it. Saw the sign – Vehicle Permit Returns – pointing kind of to the right – Nope not there that is a mechanic. Slowly kept going forward – oh there.
In front and to the right of us we saw an official looking area. There were four lanes marked by lane dividers and two small guard type buildings each serving two lanes. Three of the lanes were blocked with barrels. So we took the only open lane – #1 - the narrowest and more difficult to go through as it curved around the little building. Could not see into the building because of the tinted windows. Pulled up to the door of the building. No one came out – nothing. Hum…..Maybe we’re supposed to go to the bigger building in front of us. So we pulled up there and stopped again. The Driver got out with the paper work just as a young female official came out of the little guard house behind us. Bill tried to give her the paper work. No No she couldn’t take it there we had to go back through the lane and stop at the guard house.
But we already did that.
Well you have to do it again I was on the phone the first time. AND you went through the wrong lane you should have gone through the one next to it. #2
But #2 is blocked by a barrel.
Well I’ll move the barrel!
Why didn’t you move it before when you saw me coming?
I was on the phone.
Talking to your boyfriend?
And it went downhill from there. But she won. We had to make a U-turn out onto the highway over the topes and go back through the other lane – she didn’t move the barrel until we were right up to it. At this point I was glad I couldn’t understand what was being said.
When Bill got back in Jennie he was grinding his teeth. Turns out she wouldn’t take the tourist cards only the vehicle paper work. To turn in the tourist cards he would have had to cross the highway (six lanes of traffic) and take them back to where we’d originally got them. Huh?
So anyway….On we went. Stopped and filled up with gas again – at US$ 2.84 a gallon still cheaper than the US.
Through the last Mexican check point.
Into no man’s land and in line for the US border.

Only took 35 minutes to get through. most of that time was spent waiting for the Agricultural Inspector. Thought we were okay this time. Nope he found something – potatoes – can’t bring them into the U.S. from Mexico. Jeezeeee. They were past their prime anyway.
While waiting for the inspector I was moving my camera around and a gentleman dressed all in black with a very big gun knocked on my window and told me I couldn’t take pictures in that area. No problem – I was just putting it away.
So up the road we went – Bill still steaming about the fiasco with the vehicle permit – me wondering what bugs potatoes have. Thirty miles further at about noon we were at Mountain View RV Park in Amado, AZ. They are pretty full with people spending the winter here and heading home.
After settling in we went to the Cow Palace for lunch then back for naps and TV watching.
I was reading and Bill came up to me and said “Yum, Bahia Kino and Huevos Rancheros.” I threw my book at him.
Today we’ll have to do some rearranging – find the US maps and camping books and get out our cold weather clothes as it was very cold in here when I got up. Then have to figure out which way we are going to go home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Last Night in Mexico

Tuesday p.m.

We left Huatabampito at 7:30 and got to Hermosillo at 1:00 – 240 miles and 33US dollars in toll. The highway the whole way was pretty straight and flat. Mostly 4-lane divided. Just before Hermosillo it was like driving on a washboard! – the rest of it was pretty good. Weather was nice, not too hot and not too windy.
The only real excitement were the cows munching grass right next to the road and one lone cow that was running across the other lane and center medium towards us. Cowboy chasing her. She crossed our lane behind us though. Kind of funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
Drove through Navojoa – right through town instead of taking the truck route. No problems but one difference in the town. The traffic signals are all gone replaced by stop signs. Wonder what that is about?
We’ve stopped at the Sonora RV park here in Hermosillo – haven’t even unhooked – just plugged in and put Stanley up. Working fine and we even have Direct TV working. Why did I think I missed TV?

Tomorrow we’ll be in Arizona – still a long ways home from there.

Heading north in a few minutes -

Tuesday very a.m.
As soon as we get everything ready we'll be on the road again. Our destination for today is Hermosillo - maybe. From there it is an easy drive to Arizona.
Yesterday we didn't do much. Drove around Yavaros and Huatabampo a little. Both towns were pretty quiet. Did see one old man walking down the street with a wheel barrel full of little manta rays. But didn't get the camera out in time.
And found the white pelicans that were missing from Lake Chapala - they are in Yavaros. Dozens of them.
The beach was crowded again yesterday. Lots and lots of family gatherings - kids playing in the sand and water. Music playing. Even a couple of people in the water in boats and seadoos.
There are now six RVs in here besides us. And the restaurant has been full for the last couple of days.
In fact we ate fish and chips [nuggets con pappas] there last night. Still haven't cook our chicken.
Time to get things buttoned down and hit the highway - until later

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why put Chili on everything? Market Day in Huatabampo

Monday a.m.

Happy first day of spring and Happy Birthday Benito Juarez! – Today is his birthday and a national holiday. All government offices are closed so we are expecting the beach to be busy again. Tomorrow morning early we will leave and head to Hermosillo about 240 more miles north – we say now.
Started using up our pork and chicken products yesterday – Bill fixed our last package of bacon for breakfast. I'll fix chicken for dinner tonight.
Here we are all by ourselves in El Mirador RV Park.
That is the net they put up to keep the blowing sand off us. And their restaurant in the background. Stanley isn’t up as we are using the parks WiFi. Its fast and doesn’t cut out in the afternoon like our HughesNet does. Very peaceful here.
Drove into town Huatabampito to go to the market yesterday late morning [had to get cookies for the seagulls] and saw these guys standing by the side of the road. No idea what it was about. But we would find out later.
As we got into town we discovered it was Farmer’s Market day – three or four blocks were set up with booths selling stuff – from apples to wheels and everything in between. So of course we had to stop and walk around. Pretty interesting. And crowded.
Several women had set up tables with delicious looking cakes for sale. You could buy a piece or the whole cake.
they looked good
As we walked around we saw more of the strangely costumed and masked people walking and dancing around. Bill asked a lady about them and she told us they are starting the celebration for Santa Semana – the last week of Lent and the week before Easter – getting an early start.
They had to be hot under those masks and costumes.
There were several carts selling mangos. They peel them cut into them to form petals like, put them on a stick and then sprinkle chili on them. Not for me.
Just one of the vendors spaces. Need a tool? a part?
This dapper gentleman is dressed up in his Sunday best. White hat, pressed black shirt and pants and white ostrich belt and boots.
Seemed like everyone from the town was here shopping. Even the very young.
Sometimes I’m glad I don’t understand Spanish. Bill overheard one young woman ask her husband why he brought her to the market place. They didn’t have any money to buy anything anyway. So it was just mean bringing her and the kids here.
Lots of junk food for sale – the always present cotton candy – the pink and blue stuff on the left.
And jicama – haven’t seen it served this way before. It’s cut into round slices, a stick is put in it – like a lilipop then it’s sprinkled with CHILI! Saw a little kid in a stroller happily eating one.

As I mentioned young and old were out shopping. This older couple stopped and looked at just about everything.
After checking everything out we got back in the car and went to the supermarket. While Bill was checking out I happened to notice this. You have to get your toilet paper before you go into the bathroom. Hummmmm
On the way back to the campground we passed a couple of roadside vendors. The hanging things are baskets of some sort. Some looked like they could be cradles.
The beach by the time we got back and late into the afternoon was very busy. People swimming, picnicking, riding all sorts of vehicles up and down the sand.
Sunset as is almost always the case here was beautiful.
A little boat heading home.
And this morning the dolphins were swimming way out.

Yesterday afternoon I watched the Leaderboard for the NASCAR race at Bristol – GO KYLE – he has won the last five races there – 1 truck, 2 Nationwide and 2 Cup races. And has led over 10,000 laps in the Nationwide series and he is only 25! I love to watch him race.
Other than that not much exciting going on. Lot of clouds in the sky today.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Change of Plans we're in Huatabampito again

Sunday a.m.

The crowded Las Jaibas RV park – 25 rig caravan came in and parked in the back with us. A shot of just a few of the rigs that I took as we were leaving Saturday morning.
Well plans are made to be changed aren’t they?. One thing we can depend on is any plans we make will almost always change.
We are in Huatabampito instead of Las Glorias. Neither of us are really fond of La Glorias – it is a long way off the highway, a nice enough place but just doesn’t appeal to us. So what did we do? We drove further north and a long way off the highway to get here. 356 miles from start to stop, USD$78 in tolls again and eight hours with time out for lunch. We stopped at a Pemex just before Los Mochis and found a great “truck stop” all the amenities – showers, atm, hotel, store, lots of parking and a good restaurant. As nice as or nicer than Flying Js we’ve stopped at.
Not much to say about the drive except it was long. No hills, few curves and mostly four-lane divided so no Kamikaze drivers trying to make unsafe passes. Lots of groups of tiny topes though or as they are called vibradores – a series of little tope. Good name for them as even your teeth are vibrating by the time you get through them.
Not even much in the way of scenery. Farm fields with corn, cane, tomatoes and winter wheat. And a couple of baggie farms – you know where they grow the plastic to make the baggies.
growing plastic
Everything else was just scrub. About half way through the trip the wind came up pretty strong. We were glad to get here.
So here we are at El Mirador RV Park again, and we are the only ones here except for a couple staying in one of the hotel rooms. There were lots of locals on the beach yesterday enjoying the water. One boy got stung by a small manta ray so they took him across the street to the Red Cross station. There are bunches of teeny tiny jelly fish in the water here too – so we stay clear of it.
After we parked the owner of the place had a couple of his guys put up a big black net to try to keep some of the blowing sand off of us. Seems to be working.
This is our hose about 20 minutes after The Driver put it out – no he didn’t bury it in the sand – that is from the wind!
And it is a lot warmer here than it was in Mazatlan. Oh my gosh, we don’t have any crackers to feed the seagulls and by darn I think they recognized the motorhome cause all of a sudden there were a bunch of them out front of us on the beach squawking. Guess we’ll have to make a run into town to the store first thing this morning. (Right now they are walking on the roof – making noise.)
As always the sunsets are beautiful here

Thought this was neat – reflected in Jennie’s window.
And the big full moon over the water – wish I could have gotten a better picture – it was very pretty

And of course sunrise this morning.
Discovered something interesting about my Nook. When we got here the parks WiFi had such a strong signal I didn’t put Stanley up. Thought with the wind and sand blowing why bother. Though The Driver was muttering about not using something we spent so much money on. Guess I should have listened. All during this trip I have been downloading new books from Barnes and Noble with no problem. So I bought, or thought I did, a book in the series I’m reading last night. When I tried to open it I got a message about something being wrong with the payment. What? When I went on line with the laptop this a.m. there was an e-mail from BN that a person can only buy/download new books if they are physically in the US. And if I have a problem with that I can call them. CRAP – The RV Parks system must show it is in Mexico where as our satellite system is registered as being US. And just as a tidbit – right now the parks WiFi isn’t working at all so will put Stanley up later when Bill gets up. So we’ll be using it anyway.
Don’t know how long we’ll be here but probably until Tuesday as Monday is Benito Juarez birthday and it is a holiday. All government offices, schools, businesses etc are closed and everyone celebrates….don’t think we want to be on the road then.
Don’t know if I mentioned it or not but I’ve decided I like mangos so day before yesterday when we went to the market I bought another one. Didn’t eat it that night – so guess what?! For the first time ever instead of getting waved through an Agriculture Inspection we got stopped. I rolled down my window and he pointed at the door and said, “Open!” Okay – got up and opened the door for him. He came in and said, “Frigrater. Open.” Okay. He poked around a little and asked, “Mango? Papaya?” He had his finger on my mango. I answered “Mango.” He shook his head and said “Problem.” Out of my mouth pops, “How can it be a problem we bought it at Mega.” He answered, “No English.” Great – “BILL tell him we bought it at Mega not a fruit stand.” Didn’t make any difference it was a problem we couldn’t take it with us but we could pull over and eat it right them. Well right then I wasn’t hungry for a mango so he got the mango and we continued on - mangoless. As we crossed into the state of Sonora there was another agriculture inspection.
When asked if we had any fruit The Driver told the inspector that they had got it all at the last one. Inspector just laughed and waved us on. So all this reminds me that I have to cook our bacon, chicken and sausage before we cross into the US. Or we’ll lose that too to the US border guards.