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We are traveling in Mexico again this winter of 2012
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Zooming up the Highway

This was another long day – 530 miles from Texarkana, TX to Franklin, KY – Bill thought I wanted to be home by Saturday so I could watch the races on TV – well dah – we have TV in Jennie – and besides found out Kyle isn’t going to race his truck Saturday anyway. So to be nice I cooked a good dinner tonight. Gnocchi and meatballs and sauce. Well I had to boil the water to cook the packaged gnocchi and heat up the frozen meatballs and frozen sauce that Bill made a while ago. I did the dishes too.
Saw a strange sign on the freeway today –“Construction zone - Turn off 2-way radios and cell phones.” Hum?? Will have to check that out.
Another small aggravation – the gas stations that only let you put $75 or $100 in the tank when using a credit card. We now have gas receipts coming out of our ears. Two for each fill up.
The further north we get the fewer trees we see blooming and with new leaves. Maybe we came home too early. A little late to be figuring that out isn’t it.
I’m reading an interesting book by Jeffery Deaver called “Roadside Crosses” very interesting – it’s got a lot about blogging in it. Worth the read.
I’m still trying to used to this new laptop. A couple of the keys are in different places and Windows 7 is a little strange. But so far no real big problems.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Half way home

Here we are again – We are currently in a KOA in Texarkana, TX – actually right at the state line. The Internet comes and goes as it pleases so will try to get this posted before it goes again.
Yesterday was a long drive and EXPENSIVE – yes expensive – getting around Houston on the Tollway was 13.50…..Shades of Mexico. But guess it was much better than trying to drive through town.
Last night we stayed about 40 miles north of Houston at a Thousand Trails campground – out in the middle of nowhere. They too had WiFi but so weak couldn’t do anything.
The drive was pretty lots of beautiful wildflowers in bloom along the highway. All colors: red, pink, yellow, white and lavender just to mention a few. And the trees are in bloom, I think they are redbuds. And there are actual mowing machines cutting the grass in the medium – not goats or horses. And no topes. But I’ll have to say one thing about Mexico the Pemex stations are much easier to get in and out of there then the stations here.
Last night it poured – at one time it even sounded like hail. Probably wasn’t but sure sounded like it. Today we decided to move on towards home. Kind of meandered up through eastern Texas. Lots of small towns, grass and trees. Even one really big lake.
The only problem was the wind – blew the whole darn day and really hard at times. Poor Jennie was getting knocked all over the place.
Probably will take off again tomorrow to???? But both Saturday and Sunday I want to watch the NASCAR races that take place around noon – so we’ll have to park early or stay in one place.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's not quite 7 a.m. and still completely dark out. We are hooked up and almost ready to leave McAllen. JUst waiting for daylight. Heading towards Houston but don't know if we'll get that far or not. We're heading towards a Thousand Trails park just north of there so it will make it a 400 mile drive - maybe just a little bit too long. Yesterday was the first day The Driver felt really good since his nasty cold. And glad we weren't traveling yesterday - the winds here were really rocking us. So far they haven't started up today but I did see in the forecast that there are thundershowers predicted for the Houston area today AND tomorrow. Why can't the weather always be nice?
Will post later if we get Internet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guanajuato continued

As we walked back towards the Cathedral we started to see whole families leaving with their babies beautifully dressed in their Baptismal outfits. As we turned into the courtyard again there were food tables set up – this one run by the nuns.

One baby in particular fascinated us. We asked the family if we could take his picture. Grandma was very happy to pose with him.

The outfits are unbelievable in their detail. Again I was thinking of the extravagant and expensive outfits the children get for Baptism, First Communion and the 15th birthday. Must cost a fortune and then if you have a girl there’s her wedding. Glad we lived in the states and had boys.
Surprisingly we did a lot of walking around the areas that we didn’t visit last year. I say surprisingly because at 6300 feet I usually get out of breath pretty fast. But didn’t seem to bother me – maybe because I was so enthralled with the sights again. The street right next to the church doesn’t look real – more like a stage setting with its brightly colored buildings with their iron balconies.

Across from the Cathedral there are several outdoor cafes – Different colored facades and umbrellas for each establishment. Most of the tables were full. Lots of voices and laughter and the occasional sounds of a guitar coming from them. As we continued walking the churro man passed us. His big tray piled high with golden delicious smelling churros balanced carefully on his head.

Passed more vendors – more paintings for sale with the artist sitting there painting a new one. Jewelry for sale – maybe she was just tired of walking.

And some scenes of the town, narrow alleys and looking in between buildings and looking up at the balconies with their flower pots.
Found another church this one was built in 1792 – there was a mass going on so didn’t go inside.

Finally we tired and left the wonderous city of Guanajuato and returned to the motorhome. We left the next morning for Queretaro.

New Laptop

Yesterday I was kept busy all day working – yes working! Made the mistake of going to Best Buy to buy a new battery for the camera – got that then went to look at computers. There was a Toshiba laptop on sale – 15.6” screen, 4g of RAM and a 320 hard drive for less than $400 – Looked at it – didn’t buy it – went back to campground. Thought about it and went back and got it. Then spent most of the rest of the day loading programs, starting to learn Windows 7 – swearing and hoping old programs would load. So far so good.
Weather here is very nice – cool at nights and beautiful during the day. Tomorrow we take to the road again – heading either towards San Antonio or Houston not sure which yet. And don’t know if we’ll have Internet or not – So today I’m going to finish Guanajuato and Queretaro and trip to here. Or so I say now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Plans - kind off.

Saturday in McAllen – the weather went to pot here. Cooler and wind and rain. Really rockin Jennie. Glad I got the laundry done before it started. Bill got up and dressed this a.m. so after the laundry was finished we went to Denny’s for breakfast – and had a good meal and good service.
Then watched the Nationwide NASCAR race. Come afternoon sky blackened and the wind picked up again. So checked the weather channel – guess we’ll be staying here longer as 12 inches of snow is forecast for Oklahoma and Arkansas – and bad weather for the southern routes too. I’m not in a big hurry to get on the road again.
Monday – Bill is feeling much better – just still snuffing a little. We will be staying here until Wednesday a.m. (cheaper to stay a week then six days) Then heading somewhere near Houston. (Maybe)
Have updated this a couple of times – just some things about León and Guanajuato so I’m almost caught up there. Will probably finish Guanajuato today – then there isn’t much to say about Queretaro this year…..
The citrus trees here in the park are blooming and they smell sooooooo good – I miss that from CA.
Our friend says we have hundreds of baby fish in the pond. And that the weeds are already coming up in the gardens – Oh well back to reality. Have also talked to our satellite installer back in Indiana – I wonder how the Alfa held up over the winter. NO mice I hope.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Return to Guanajuato

Just a little refresher on the Guanajuato. It was founded in 1554 and is located in one of the richest silver mining areas of Mexico. It was originally built over the river of the same name which flowed through tunnels underneath the city. After years of raising buildings to accommodate yearly flooding a dam was built and the river redirected into underground caverns. The tunnels were then lit and paved with cobblestones for automobile traffic, and this underground road network carries the majority of cars driving through the city today.

Actually I think that the old buildings we can see along the road

and the colorful houses built on the hills surrounding the center of town are the attraction. Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing them. Just like a postcard picture.
Off we went heading towards the parking lot right in the middle of town near the big theater. But somehow managed to take a wrong turn – actually that’s not too hard when going through the tunnels. We were heading up one of the hills. The road got narrower and rougher. The corners sharper.
Yes - I was hanging on to the "Oh S**T" bar.
So The Driver made sure we headed down hill. Soon we were back on the level and into the tunnels again. The houses built on the top of the tunnel walls fascinate me. Some are built out on stilts others flush with the walls.

What the heck? Great! we turned a corner and were behind a group of bicyclists on a Sunday ride. A motorcycle cop with his lights on kept the traffic behind them.

We were the first car behind the cop driving at five mps! And then missed the turn to tunnel leading to the parking lot. Crap. All we could do was keep going until we were out of the tunnel and the bikes pulled over.
We had a couple of choices straight ahead or to the right …. Hesitation. A young man came running over to us. Bill rolled down his window to ask directions – by now the horns behind us were honking and the cop was staring at us. In very good English the young man asked if we were looking for parking. “Yes, the one behind the theater.” “Okay, I’ll take you” he said as he jumped up on the VERY narrow running board and grabbed the roof rack. “Back up and go right. Keep going right.” Off we went with him hanging on and Bill being very careful not to scrape him up against a tunnel wall. Through the tunnels and through the streets back into the tunnels – always right, right. We made a big circle and finally came to the turn off. He took us right to the parking lot and even found us a space. Really neat guy.
Walked up to the plaza past one of the old churches – and this time noticed this old “door” with steps on the side of the building.
You can also see where there was a window at one time.
Always something different to see. Continued towards the plaza and saw these paintings – only US$20 with frame – yes we did. Just like the texture and colors.

Lots of families and vendors around.

The little plastic toys are all over - every kid has one.
Lots of great buildings with iron balconies and bright colors

and fountains around. Flowers hanging from the iron window boxes and balconies

And always the shoe shine men.
As we were walking towards one of the huge churches we passed this Priest and his altar boys.
This church was all covered with scaffolding last year when we were here – Didn’t realize it was so pretty and intricate.

The courtyard of the church was packed. Six or seven tables with blue plastic tarps over them were set up. Behind them were whole families, from the babies to grandmas selling everything from cakes to tacos and rosaries.

Inside the church a mass was going on and the choir was singing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just blah blah

Finished the post for Leon but wanted to keep up with what we’re doing also.
We drove from Queretaro to McAllen, TX in one marathon run. 570 miles took about 10 hours. The Driver says that’s like driving 1000 miles on US roads. It took US$115 for the toll roads. But the roads were very good. For that rice they better be. But as usual there were the goats, burros and cows wandering on the shoulders and center divider. Even a few topes near sharp curves. They sure get your attention.
This time no problems crossing the borders. Found the Pharr International Bridge just outside of Reynosa. Some bad traffic going through the outskirts of Reynosa – there was an accident – once past it it was smooth sailing. Turned in our vehicle permits – for some reason they didn’t take the tourist cards – I think that is an oops and maybe we’d better go turn them in in the next day or two. Then we had to pay a toll to cross the bridge.
Getting into the US was fine. Two different guys came in and checked the refrigerator. All they found was cooked bacon, Italian sausage and hard boiled eggs. We ate the last apple on the way there.
We are at the same RV park that we always stay at. Good Wi-Fi and a laundry that we have to make use of soon. Its nice to have electricity we can depend on. Got the Direct TV turned back on so now we can watch news (ugh) and NASCAR racing (yes)
Went out to dinner as soon as we were parked. Both of us wanted a good steak. We went to Applebee’s – The place was almost empty yet it took 20 minutes to get a waiter, another 15 minutes to get our drinks and an hour to get our food. Steak was good. But otherwise rather a disappointment as far as service was concerned.
Went to Wal*Mart the next day and got a bunch of books and a beading magazine Hooray! Then walked around a great mall here in town. Didn’t do much else as Bill has a bad cold. At least it waited until we were here. He is really under the weather.
We are both glad to be back in the USofA.
One thing I didn’t mention is the fact that there is a 16% tax on EVERYTHING – from groceries, restaurants, clothes and the tolls on the road just to mention a few things.
Gasoline and diesel went up three times while we were there. The campgrounds that have full facilities are about as expensive as in the US – US$ 25 to 30 a day.
For the time we spent in Mexico we averaged $64 a day for all expenses. Did not include the beads we bought in that amount. Jennie was fine – averaged about 7 mpg. Lots of high altitude driving. We had no problems of any kind with her.
We plan on taking our time going home, don’t know when we’ll leave here – but not until he is feeling really good.
Our time in Leon follows this. And still have to finish Guanajuato and Queretaro. Should keep me busy for awhile.

Leon- old meets modern

Going back to Mexico trying to catch up on what we did there.
We took another day trip out of Guanajuato to the city of León about 40 miles up the road we came in on. It’s the 5th largest city in Mexico. And it is one of the most modern looking (read – looks like being in the US) towns we’ve been to. León was founded in 1575 – but little remains of that time. We saw the many contrasts that exist in the city, beautiful colonial buildings next to modern architecture. Lots of wide boulevards. Coming into the town we were on a wide four-lane divided street full of US stores and restaurants. If some one just dropped you on the street you would have thought you were in the southwestern US somewhere.
As we continued towards the central older part of town we passed one of the biggest Cathedrals we’ve seen. And it is quite new and amazing looking. Its full name is the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Construction of this temple was begun in 1920 and has continued off and on and now is considered 80% complete.
Unfortunately we didn’t stop and tour it.
We reached the Centro Historic and parked in a lot – walking the couple of blocks to the main plaza. There were still buildings there from the 16th Century but right next to a very old building would be a modern one. Kind of jarring to see. One thing that impressed us about the main plaza were the trees. Most of them were shaped into boxes or cones.
From there we walked up the narrow pedestrian street to the Cathedral. On the way we passed a Burger King and a KFC and numerous small restaurants – including an Argentine one along with the small taco stands and the Chinese restaurants. Even a Victoria’s Secret! Also saw a stained glass store with this glass piece of a Pope.
And this older man walking around with his guitar on his back.
The Cathedral, was awe inspiring. It is called the Basilica Cathedral of Our Holy Mother of the Light. Construction began in 1746, but was halted when the Jesuit order was expelled from Mexico. A very wealthy family took over its construction and it was finally completed in 1866. It has a combination of architectural styles – Baroque and Neo Classic.
Just inside the arch in the courtyard is a statue of one of the Popes. The inside of the church is absolutely beautiful.

Lots of large very old paintings, lots of gold leaf columns and arches and stained glass windows. Arched ceilings and gold chandeliers. Hand painted decorations on the walls highlighted by gold leaf. It has a very peaceful feel to it. Spent quite a bit of time just looking around.
This building was across the street from the church

Walked around the block and took this picture of the church - new construction going on.

Back to the main plaza, called Martyrs Square. The shaped trees and ballons for sale.There was another smaller church here – again amazing inside – lots of hand painted decorations on the walls and ceiling.
On the same side as this church is the Municipal Palace.
At one time in the mid 1800s it was used as a military barracks. Don’t know why we didn’t go in but we didn’t. Around the buildings on one side of the plaza are arched walkways. And narrow alleys that are full of small stores. Over these “alleys” the buildings connect forming an enclosed bridge giving kind of a European feeling to the section.
While here we saw a strange, at least to us, happening. There were several people, one a women the rest men, who were conduction a “purifying” ceremony of some sort. And people were lined up to be cleansed. The woman and the older man were dressed Huichol type clothing. Her in her long white skirt and blouse with rose colored trim, a wide brimmed straw hat from which her long, curley black hair streamed down her back. The older man had on a typical Huichol outfit with the embroidered trim and bag. He had a full gray beard and long black hair. To me none of them looked Huichol – they looked more “new age hippy.” Anyway they had a big incense holder and would pass it over and around the person wishing to be purified. Don’t know if money exchanged hands or not.

But it was interesting to watch. And you could see and smell the smoke as soon as you entered the plaza.
As we were walking towards the car The Driver had an encounter with some teenage girls. They stopped him to talk to him. In both English and Spanish – I think there was a little flirting going on but he says No.
Back in the car we drove to the “Leather District.” Wow! Over 35 square blocks of manufactures, warehouses, outlets and stores. Huge square block sized stores of leather merchandise. Everything from little leather saddle key chains to leather coats – men’s and women’s – all sizes shapes and colors. Whole buildings full of purses. Have never seen so many sizes, shapes and colors of purses in my life. Others full of boots or belts. This was an oversized boot for advertising.
One small stand selling purses

I read that over 60% of the shoes produced in Mexico are made here in León.
As we were nearing leaving one of the stores we heard loud drum beats. As we got outside we saw: a man playing the drum, one guy with a cloth and leather bulls head over his head, a woman dressed as a witch, a guy dressed as the devil who was lashing out with a bull whip and another guy dressed in black. They were dancing in the street to the drum beat. No idea what that was all about. But it was fun to watch.After being leathered out we went to the grocery store that was right next to Costco and across from Home Depot.
One thing we noticed was the rapid transit system. The big busses have their own lanes with passenger boarding from the center of the street.
We just touched the tip of the city.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hidalgo, MX - back in the USA

We are now in McAllen, TX – and just remembered it is Saint Patrick’s Day – Will continue to write about Mexico until I’ve caught up.
We left Guadalajara at 8:45 and got in Guanajuato at 1:15 – 176 miles –US$62 for tolls. They are really adding up. But the road was very good all the way. Managed to get out of Guadalajara without getting lost. Actually got all the way here without incident.
The altitude here might be a problem over 6200 feet. But there is a great breeze
The campground, the only one in the area, is about US$12 a day. 15amp electricity – kind of and no sewer. The electric is so bad our air conditioner won’t stay on. And it takes almost three minutes to heat a small cup of coffee in the microwave. But the weather during the day is nice and there is usually a wind by late afternoon. Evenings it gets really cold still. But there is a dump and we do have water. There are about 7 other RVs here this time. Mostly Canadian 5th wheels. Basically we’re sitting in a big field with one lone tree. But this time the grass is green, last year it was dead.
Didn’t do much after getting here Wednesday – slowly getting used to altitude. First morning here it was COLD – in fact it almost looked like frost on the grass (probably just dew but I didn’t go out to check.) Looked at the outside temp and at 7:30 it was only 45!

We’ve been watching movies almost every night. One was the one Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for – enjoyed it. Think this is the first time in years I’ve seen any movie that won an Oscar. Also saw Last Chance Harvey and last night a Richard Geer movie about a dog – real tear jerker.
I’m spending time working on my web page for this year trying to get it caught up. Then when we get somewhere with Internet I’ll just have to upload it.
Our fourth day in Guanajuato, counting the day we got here and we hadn’t been into town yet! The first full day here we went to Hidalgo. The second to León and the 3rd we just stayed in the campground and caught our breath.
And we are starting to talk about getting home – actually looking for the shortest route and quickest into a lower altitude. We were going to another old Colonial town until we discovered it was 8200 feet high….maybe next time – we’ll start out there.
The trip to Hidalgo was over the mountains about 40 miles that takes about an hour in Willie. Get up to almost 9000 feet. It’s a pretty drive lots of trees and a couple of small villages. And the occasional lone house sitting high up on a ridge. The leaves on the trees are still orange and yellow and falling off – feels like fall instead of almost spring. Yet others have their bright new leaves already.
Parked right down on the main plaza in town. There are a lot of changes since we were here last year. They are really preparing for the big Independence Bicentennial in September. Hidalgo is where it all began. The Padre Hidalgo called to the peasants to over throw the Spanish and off they went.
This lady was standing outside the government building.
The building itself is from the 1600s – she didn’t look much younger.
The church where Hidalgo made delivered his call for revolution.
Last year they were working on cleaning the outside this year the inside is being fixed up. There are three altars in it. The main one and one on each side.
One side one is all carved wood.
Very intricate. The other is gold.

One of the things they are restoring is all the gold work. It is all gold leaf (we thought it was paint – nope.) Just one section of the wall that was being worked on –it was about half finished – took over 2000 packages of gold leaf. Very expensive restoration, but it is worth it.

All the exteriors of the buildings around the downtown district are being repaired and repainted. Looks very nice. Except there is an awful lot of pink and orange being used.
The streets just off the main plaza are being repaved – by hand! We watched them for awhile. At first we thought they were using half bricks – but in reality they are using stones – hand cut to size. Wet cement, from a wheel barrel, goes into a mold then the stones are put in one by one. Will look really nice, but be bumpy as heck to drive on.
The rocks - hand cut
Trimming a rock to fit
Placing the rocks (pavers) in cement
What it looks like finished

We stopped at the tile factory we bought the dishes at last year but got of there without buying anything this time. There were five people in the back painting various items. And the area they work in is so dark; don’t know how they manage it. Would you like a “Day of the Dead” bathroom sink? They have one available.

We stopped for lunch at a very nice restaurant

by the church and thought about buying some ice cream from the vendors after but didn’t. Some of the flavors were: tequila, whisky, chili, beer, corn, avocado, mole and of course the standards. Couldn’t decide what exotic flavor I wanted so didn’t get any. Lots of flavors.

Okay so I’m chicken.
Visited the dining room set we saw and fell in love with last year.

So gorgeous! Maybe enclose the back porch????
Walked through the Central Market and the only thing we bought were churros. Then back up to watch the guys doing the street.
On the way out of town we stopped at a manufacture of pottery and The Driver got some lizards for him to bead – This Winter When We Stay Home.
Walked out of there to get back in the car and jumped out of my skin when I got a BAA – right in my ear. A pickup with a couple of sheep in it was parked right by us. Never know what you’ll see here. That’s the fun of being here.
This laptop is really starting to give me problems. The “w” doesn’t always want to work, the “s” is worn off and now I discovered the battery isn’t any good. Says it’s 100% charged and when unplugged shuts off in less than 10 minutes “Out of Power.” CRAP!
So any way will continue this tomorrow - Still need to write about Leon and Guanajuato and trip home. Later.....