Travel with Tobey and Sue

Travel with Tobey and Sue
Our dog, Penny, loves traveling with us in the motorhome!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 91 - March 26, 2012 Puerto Penasco - Scottsdale, Arizona

Last night the wind blew and blew – so hard that I thought we would end up in Kansas! We didn’t, but the RV rocked and the windows  had a fine film of dust covering them!

We had planned to dump our holding tanks, but the water outlet at dump station didn’t work so we had to wait.  We finally got on the road about 8am this morning heading for the border. We stopped at the PEMEX and used the last of our pesos for gas. That made it official, we had to go home.

Halfway through the trip Tobey began telling folks that we were on the “all you can see of Mexico in 90 days trip.” Yesterday he said he was cheated because even though we are on Day 91, the first four days were in the US getting to our border crossing in Texas. I think he is laying the groundwork for the next trip.One of the disadvantages of staying at Puerto Penasco before crossing the border back to the US is that you must first drive north to Sonoyta, then drive south 26km to the Mexican immigration station to return your visa and vehicle paperwork. The drive wasn’t bad, but it took us 3-1/2 hours to clear immigration – all because of our “beloved” scooter!

We have never checked the VIN numbers on our vehicles against the titles. When we registered the scooter in Colorado, they made a typo error in the original paperwork, so they don’t match. The Mexicans wanted us to take the scooter back to Colorado, have the mistake corrected, then return to the border WITH the scooter, and present the correct paperwork. The Mexican government is adamant against you taking a vehicle to Mexico and selling it, so they want to verify that what you take into the country is what you take home with you. Finally, after several phone calls and talking to different people, they wrote up an “exception” to allow us to take the scooter home and give us our $400 deposit back.

Back to Sonoyta, we needed to fill the RV so we stopped at the first PEMEX station and they told us they took credit cards. Well, they do, IF their machine was working. We ended up paying in cash because their machine declined THREE of our credit cards. Geez. Phone calls to the credit card companies let us know that they never sent the charges through! By now it it 2pm, and we are both starving, so we needed to stop for lunch. We missed all of the taco stands and finally spotted a Subway. Not exactly our first choice for our last meal in Mexico, but stomachs prevailed, so we stopped.

On to the US customs and immigration stop at Lukeville, Arizona. We arrived and handed the border agent our passports and LONG itemized list of everything we purchased in Mexico. He glanced at it, said he didn’t see any illegal aliens listed, so we were free to go! No vehicle inspection, no food inspection, just “welcome home.” In Arizona we passed through Organ Pipe National Monument and headed north on AZ Hwy 85. It was strange to go through Ajo, Arizona and not have to stop for topes! North of Ajo, we entered the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Base area and watched as some planes were doing practice bombing runs in the desert. It was cool to see the rockets launch and then the smoke/dust rise when they hit the ground! A little further down the road we watched as soldiers were parachuting out of a plane.

We drove …. miles today and arrived back in Scottsdale about 5:30 pm. Our moms and our dog, Penny, met us at the park. It was a great trip, but it is good to be back among our family. Tomorrow we will try to summarize details and get a final wrap up.Day 91 Mexico Map

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 90 - March 25, 2012 Puerto Peñasco

Puerto Peñasco is a small fishing village situated on a rocky outcrop next to the Sea of Cortez. This is in the northwest region of the state of Sonora, Mexico. It is only about 62 miles south of the Arizona border. There are lots of “Norte-Americanos” living in Puerto Peñasco. There are several RV parks here and with all the sand dunes around this area, driving ATVs is a very popular activity.

The shortage of fresh water in this area kept permanent settlements at bay until the 1920s. Railroad construction that connected the Baja of California with the rest of Mexico led to a permanent town being developed. Prior to 1920, the bay was a safe harbor for wandering fisherman working the northern waters of the Sea of Cortez. Fishing and shrimping are two of the major industries of the area even today. Tourism also plays a major role in the local economy.Today we took a taxi to the malecon. This is all new since we were here eight years ago, and it was quite nice. We browsed the shops and fish markets. We were approached to visit a timeshare presentation, and because the weather was cool and windy, we decided to go. After the presentation we received 5kg of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, and ready to cook. Yummy, but certainly not a large gift. On the way back to town our driver was telling us that he takes his wife on vacation to other Mexican cities and they visit several time shares and come home with more money than they leave with!In town we saw this group of musicians with their homemade instruments entertaining a large crowd on the malecon. We have seen homemade drums before, but never a homemade tuba! Further down the street a group of  traditional musicians were performing for the people on the street. We returned to the RV and the fellows we hired to wash and wax it were finished. It was $430 pesos ($33.75USD) and they provided the wax! It looks great and we will be ready for our trip back to the States tomorrow.

We have had a great time and we are both glad we did the trip, however, we are missing family, friends, and our dog. Once we get back, we will do a final wrap up of expenses, and a map showing all of the overnight stops, so stay tuned. Tomorrow we will cross the border at Sonoyta/Lukeville and head up to Scottsdale.

GPS 31.31636°N, 113.55336°W

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 89 - March 24, 2012 Kino Bay - Puerto Peñasco

Today turned into one of those “surprise” days. Neither of us really looked at the map very well and for some reason we thought it was only about 225 mile drive. We kept driving, and driving, and driving! Color us surprised when I looked closer at the map and it turned out to be 355 miles from Kino Bay to Puerto Peñasco ! We wish we had left earlier than 9:00 this morning!

We drove through some diverse landscape today. On one side of the road we passed miles of desert and the other was irrigated fields. Table grapes and asparagus are just two of the crops we passed today. There were also pecan groves and citrus trees.We stopped in Hermosillo to pick up some medications. One of the prescriptions that is almost $100 USD at home was $597 pesos – or $46.45 USD here! The Soriana  pharmacy also had a 20% rebate promotion where we got $119 pesos ($9.25USD) in grocery credit because we had one of their frequent shopper cards. WOW – that was some discount!

We had two military inspection stops today and had to wait behind several large trucks at one of them. Fortunately, the trucks were moved to a separate lane when we got closer to the inspection point. It seems like it took forever, but it was about 30 minutes.truck lineupWe finally arrived in Puerto Peñasco at the Concha del Mar about 6:30 this evening. It is a “dry camping” place on the beach and we are paying $120 pesos ($9.50USD). We got parked just in time for a lovely sunset.

Day 89 Mexico MapGPS 31.31636°N, 113.55336°W

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 88 - March 23, 2012 Kino Bay

We took a nice walk on the beach today then back to the RV via the street. We saw an RV and car with Colorado license plates, so we stopped and introduced ourselves. Jean-Maurice and Sally are a delightful couple from Salida, Colorado, and we had a great time visiting with them. After leaving them, our new friends, Carolyn and Tom, and their cute little dog, Tessa, drove by to see how we were doing. We hopped in their car and we all went to the Seri Museum here in New Kino. It’s a small museum and admission was only $10 pesos per person (78¢ USD), but it had some nice displays and lots of old photographs of the Seri people. They are known for their basketry and ironwood carvings. We found out that you can arrange tours to their village, but we will have to save that for another trip.

We went to lunch and did a little driving tour with Tom and Carolyn trying to find the road that leads to the beaches north of here. We didn’t have any luck, but had a really fun time sharing stories and getting to know them better. We came back to the beach in town and took Tessa for a walk. She is the funniest little dog – she races along the shore and chases the waves as they come in. Tobey and I both laughed at her antics! The area is surround by cactus and many of them are in bloom. It was beautiful to see. Later this afternoon, we went back and visited with Jean-Maurice and Sally for a couple hours. It has been really fun here in Kino Bay with no set agenda so we could spend time getting to know folks. We both now see the advantage of coming and staying in a location for longer periods of time, but this trip is swiftly coming to an end. Tomorrow we leave for Puerto Penasco.

GPS  28.85967°N, 112.02715°W

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 87 - March 22, 2012 San Carlos - Kino Bay

Every day is an adventure, and Tobey wants you to remember that as you read today’s blog entry!

Have you ever had one of those days? Well, we certainly did today. According to the San Carlos website, “The Delfinario Sonora offers demonstrations with dolphins and sea lions, that include information about the biology and the evolution of these creatures. There are currently four Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin and two California Sea Lions in residence.” They also say they are open every day except Monday, so we thought we would go to the 11am show and check it out. Well, some of the information on the website may be true, however, it is only open to school groups Monday – Friday, so we missed that opportunity.Since we weren’t planning to stay in San Carlos until Saturday, we decided to go ahead and drive to Kino Bay. There are two roads to Kino Bay and we opted for the shorter road. Wrong. Shorter maybe in distance, but not in time! We turned off the toll road and soon discovered potholes and rough pavement. We had 45 miles of this mess which certainly took longer than 75 miles on a good road!Kino Bay was founded in 1920 as a fishing camp and is geographically divided into two parts: Kino Viejo, the old fishing village, and New Kino, where majority of the homes, hotels, and restaurants are located. We stopped in Kino Viejo for lunch and a walk out on the pier. We had a greeting committee who kept a close eye on the fishermen.After lunch we drove on to New Kino to look for a good spot to camp for the night since most of the area around Kino Viejo had little beach access. In New Kino, we met a lovely couple, Tom and Carolyn, from Arizona who have actually retired to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We spent the afternoon visiting. At 5pm we realized we needed to get a move on and find a spot for the night so we said our goodbyes and headed out.

You may be wondering what else could go wrong to make us think it was “one of those days.” The following is Tobey’s account of what happened.

So, what does it take to get a motorhome out of the sand? Well, we found out that the phone number listed for our Good Sam Emergency Road Service for Mexico doesn’t work! So, we tried letting air out of the tires, no luck there, either. Two nice Mexicans in a pickup truck tried to pull us out and we ended up even deeper in the sand. In desperation, we tried the Green Angels, a free Mexican roadside assistance,  but got no answer. We are getting closer to the border and earlier today I saw a sign that said, “911 works just like home.” I tried it and the operator spoke very little English, but I was able to convey our location and our plight. I “think” she said she would send help. Soon a Police truck came by and checked us out, it seemed like he just happened by. He had a tow strap and thought he could pull us out. We are much bigger than him, no dice! By now, 3 more locals are helping dig, push and whatever. Then a fellow from New Mexico who lives here happens by with his son and grandson. He speaks Spanish and has a chain. He acts as the coordinator as we try to figure out what to do. More spectators show up and this is becoming quite the scene. Along comes a bus and he watches for a while and decides he should have a go at it. Well, bus trumps a motorhome and we got out. We all had a good laugh and all I can say is you probably couldn’t get that much help in the States, especially the bus.

And, just so you don’t think we are total idiots, we were not driving on the beach. We pulled into one of the beach access pullouts where we had seen several trucks and cars parked earlier. We thought it would be a good overnight camping area and just happened to hit a soft spot. In all the excitement, Sue forgot to get the camera out and take pictures of our predicament! Just use your imagination to see an 11,500 pound RV up to its axels in sand, tailpipe buried, and tilting at a strange angle.

Okay, so the RV is out of the sand, the scooter is reloaded, and we are parked for the night. Today’s drive took us 139 miles. Day 87 Mexico Map

GPS 28.85967°N, 112.02715°W

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 86 - March 21, 2012 Bacum - San Carlos

We got an early start today after a bit of a noisy night in Bacum, heading for the beach at San Carlos. Tobey spotted some teenagers hitch-hiking to school, so we stopped to give them a ride. The three boys and one girl were very shy (I think they were surprised that we stopped), but we tried to converse best we could. They were in their last year of high school and only the girl was going on to college. Twenty kilometers later, we dropped them off and we continued on.

Arriving in San Carlos, we stopped for fish tacos then checked out several beach areas to find a camping spot. One of the things we discovered today is that it is difficult to find a place really near the beach. This first stop was in a nice bay and we watched as one hardy fellow was snorkeling. He was in a wetsuit and towing a float/net, so we think he might have been fishing. Camping would have been in a dirty parking lot, littered with garbage, so we ventured on.There are lots of expats living in this area and they must have money. There are several large homes and condos. The marina was large and this bay was filled with boats. There wasn’t a good way to get down to this beach area from the road because it had a private entrance. All beaches in Mexico are public, but access is often limited because of private land fronting the beach. If you can get to the beach on a public road, you can camp there. This beautiful harbor, combined with the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez and the tall, rugged mountains just inland combine to give this area a unique look very similar to the eastern part of Baja, California.We finally found a small beach area where we could park in the lot and still see the water. A good share of the beach, however, is rocky, and the walk to the end and back only took about ten minutes. It is again quite windy, but we are hoping tomorrow it will calm down. We drove 103 miles today, but about 15 of those were driving around San Carlos checking out the beaches. Day 86 Mexico Map

GPS  27.95086°N, 111.04932°W

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 85 - March 20, 2012 Huatabampito Beach - Bacum

Welcome to the first day of Spring! It was chilly here this morning – about 55°F, but sunny – so we decided to spend another day at Huatabampito Beach. We saw dolphins this morning and took a walk along the beach. Unfortunately, with the crowds here on Sunday and Monday, the beach was littered with trash. We walked more than a mile and the trash just went on and on. We talked with one Mexican fellow who told us that many Mexicans don’t care and think nothing of dumping their trash out. Tobey said that if he lived here, he would have to organize a group of volunteers to do beach cleanup after the weekends and provide trash and recycling barrels along the beach. We would have to start an education program in the schools, too!It warmed up today and the water was a beautiful blue. We sat outside for a little while, enjoying the sunshine. This afternoon, however, the wind really kicked up and we were getting sandblasted. We put chairs away, battened down the hatches, and moved inside to play cards. The wind never let up – even the seagulls were having a hard time flying and one bounced into the side of the RV! That was it. Even though it was almost 4pm, we made a decision to pack up and move inland. Driving was a struggle for Tobey because the wind was really strong. We often had sand and dust blowing across the road, and the air was brown for miles! When we finally got on the toll road we thought we would make better time, but we were wrong. There was quite a bit of road construction so lots of detours and only 2-way traffic, instead of 4-lane. The 90 mile drive took 3 hours!

We arrived in Bacum about 7pm just before dark and not breaking our no driving after dark rule, we stopped to get some dinner at Panchita’s. We were going to eat, then park on one of the side streets for the night. A policeman stopped in to eat while we were there, so we asked him if it was okay to park on the street. He was directing us to the Square, and said that was a good place. Well, the owner of the restaurant overheard us and said, “No.” She showed us a fenced yard behind her restaurant and told us that we could park here for free, it was much safer. Our dinner was very good and only $72 pesos ($5.75 USD). She has a night watchman and we are camped here for the night. She jokingly told us not to get out of the RV during the night or the dog might bite us! Day 85 Mexico MapGPS 27.55278°N, 110.08112°W

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 84 - March 19, 2012 Huatabampito

Today’s adventure turned into a day trip instead of an overnight stop. We left Huatabampito for Alamos this morning, originally planning to spend two nights.

In the late 1700s Alamos was the supply and cultural center for the surrounding mining area. Much of the wealth in the colonial town was spent on beautiful colonial casas (houses) and buildings. It has recently been designated as one of 14 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico and the colonial atmosphere is now protected by law. We parked the RV and walked into town because we had read that it was difficult to negotiate the streets. The first, and smaller of the two plazas in Alamos is Plaza Alameda. The public market is located there. The Plaza de Armas is the larger of the two. Today there was quite a bit of tourist activity going on everywhere because many of the schools in the area were on holiday. On one side of Plaza de Armas is La Parroquia de la Purisima Conception church. Opposite the church was the city tour train. Even though we had walked most of the city already we decided to take the $10 peso per person (80¢USD) 20 minute tour.

The Palacio now serves as the city hall building and museum, as well as a host to local concerts and programs. We went through the museum and looked at the displays. Unfortunately for us, there was no signage in English, so it didn’t take us too long!Several of the old casas have been converted into hotels and businesses. We found out too late that there are tours of some of the colonial houses, but only on Saturdays, so we enjoyed them from the outside. We went by the museum and birthplace of Maria Felix. Everyone on the tour was greatly impressed and cameras were snapping away. Those of us who have NO idea about Mexican films just thought it was fun that she was considered the Marilyn Monroe of Mexico.The building below is the Casa de Chocolate. Sounds delicious! We wish we could have toured it. It is a large historic home built in the 16th Century. There are ten fireplaces in the main house and three in the guest cottage, as well as three long covered courtyards. Sounds like a great place, but we could only see the outside!Our last stop before heading back to Huatabampito was the Panteon (cemetery). It was the custom of most wealthy families to bury their dead inside the church. In 1751 there was a huge outbreak of cholera in the region and the cemetery was not large enough to bury everyone that had died from the disease. This “new” cemetery was opened in 1794. Notice all of the above ground concrete crypts. It was huge.After all our walking we were tired and thirsty so we decided to try a “horchata de coco.”  It was a delicious sweet drink made with rice milk and coconut. If you ever get a chance, give them a try.

Because we had seen everything we wanted to at Alamos, we decided it wasn’t worth it to spend two nights there. We came back to Huatabampito for the night at our beach front parking spot and we will figure out what we are doing tomorrow in the morning! We drove 134 miles round trip.Day 84 Mexico Map

GPS 26.69439°N, 105.59395°W

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 83 - March 18, 2012 Huatabampito Beach

This morning started off quietly with us watching the dolphins offshore.There were several pods swimming in the area for almost an hour. It was awesome!

We bundled up against the wind and walked a couple miles before lunch. We shared a seafood platter at the El Mirador Restaurant not far from where we are camped. It was pretty good and let us sample shrimp and fish made in a variety of ways, as well as chilies rellenos. Lunch for two was a bit pricey, $225 pesos ($17.85USD), including drinks and a tip.

We were curious if we could find the house for sale that was listed on the internet so we ventured out again this afternoon. What a change on the beach! Everyone and their brother was here. They all drive – or race - their trucks, jeeps, ATVs, and motorcycles up and down the beach – and many of them get stuck in the sand. By the time we had walked down the beach and back on the road, we were really tired of the traffic. This was the scene we looked out at upon our return the the RV.Despite walking almost 4 miles round trip, we never did find the house, but we met four Americans from Texas who live here. They said the weather we are experiencing is unusually cold and cloudy. Great.

The traffic finally cleared out, but many of the folks thought it was the Indianapolis 500 as they left. Some of the diehards were still doing the beach drive in the dark! The sun has set and we hope the few left find their way home soon.

GPS 26.69439°N, 105.59395°W

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 82 - March 17, 2012 Las Glorias - Huatabampito Beach

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! No green beer for us, but we did pass through miles and miles of green fields - corn, wheat, and tomatoes. We saw lots of workers on their way to the fields, as well as men herding their cattle and sheep down the road. We arrived at Huatabampito Beach by 12:30. As we were driving along the beach looking for a good camping spot, Tobey looked out the window and spotted dolphins! He pulled over and we hopped out and quickly walked down to the beach. There were at least 15 dolphins  in the water. Some of them were breaching and splashing in the water, but most of them were just swimming along like the picture below. I was frustrated that my camera is slow and we couldn’t catch one while they were up in the air. It’s not at all like Sea World when they have a “routine” and you can anticipate their moves!! We watched them for at least 20 minutes before going back to the RV for lunch. Needless to say, we found our spot to camp!Huatabampito Beach spans almost 20km – over 12 miles! We covered two of them down and back this afternoon. (After 4 miles, our feet are tired!) Beautiful homes line the beach, many of them vacation properties for people from Huatabampo and Navojoa. Curious to see if many homes in the area were for sale, we drove down the road to check it out. We only saw one beach-front house for sale! We talked to one young man who was a caretaker for a property and he said not many were for sale, but there were lots available.My curiosity made me look online to see what the prices were like. We only found one house listed for $99,000 USD. I really liked this house – I wonder how much it would sell for.

One of the things we have loved about Mexico is the friendliness of the people. As we drive through the little towns and down the small country roads, people smile and wave. Most everyone seems eager to strike up a conversation, always curious about where we are from and how we have liked Mexico. We met a nice young couple, Luis and Janet, and their children here at the beach today. He gave Tobey a little screwdriver set as a gift, just because. We took out brownies to share and enjoyed watching their kids play.We set our lawn chairs up just outside the RV and enjoyed watching the water and people. It was much nicer today, mid-70s and sunshine. The water is too cold for us, but we had fun watching others going in. We are hopeful for more dolphin activity tomorrow.Day 82 Mexico MapWe drove 177 miles today, about 120 of them on the toll road, so it only took about four hours.

GPS 26.69439°N, 105.59395°W

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mexico 2012 RV Trip - Day 81 - March 16, 2012 Las Glorias

Today was overcast and cool. We took a walk on the beach this morning and wore our sweatshirts – and bug spray!  The mosquitos here are fierce. We noticed about fifteen of these structures along the beach. Any guesses as to what they are? (Answer at the bottom of post.)Several different groups of men were in the water and we went to check it out. They were bundled up in windbreakers, yet soaked to their waists in the chilly water. From a distance we thought they were fishing with nets, but it turned out they were harvesting mussels.  They used the shovel-like tool to dig in the sand which was scooped into the net. They drag that along the bottom as they go, filling the net and draining out the sand. When the net is full, they come back to shore and dump the shells into the huge orange crates. It looked like hard, back-breaking work.When the orange crates were full, they dumped part of the shells into the green basket. Two men then shook the basket and the empty shells and ones that were too small fell through the cracks.  There are piles of the broken shells all along the shoreline.We asked these men the Spanish word for mussels and the guy in green wrote it in the sand so we would be sure to get it right! In Spanish they are called “choro.”

This afternoon a couple of tractors were digging ditches on the beach from the water all the way to the buildings near the street. An American woman who lives here told us they are preparing for  Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week). This beach is a very popular Mexican tourist destination – especially during holidays. The ditches are to discourage people from driving on the beach. With hundreds of people here at that time, they hope to cut down on the number of people who are hit by cars! Many of the Mexicans still “drink and drive” here during the holidays. She also told us that the “dunes” we are parked by are man-made, also to make it more difficult for cars to get onto the beach. After Easter Week they will clear them out.Okay, did you figure out what the structure in the first picture was yet? We weren’t sure either and asked an older Mexican man about them. Are you ready? Did you guess hunting blinds? Wrong. How about turtle egg preserves? Wrong, again. They are actually banos (bathrooms)! There is nothing inside them, just a blind set up to give you a little privacy to do your thing! No prize if you guessed correctly, just tuck that tidbit of information away just in case you find yourself in need when you are here on the beach!

GPS 25.29303°N, 108.51808°W