Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to the U.S.A.

The return trip up to the border was uneventful, marred only by the seemingly interminable wait at the border. Did the border folk care whether we were terrorists? . . . or whether we were drug smugglers? . . . or whether we were contraband liquor importers? . . . What they asked us about was whether we were bringing in eggs or lunchmeat . . . oh, my . . . how dangerous . . .

We were too late to camp at Buckskin Mountain State Park on the Colorado River, as we had planned, so we went down the road a bit to Sandbar Resort . . . can you spell "P-a-r-k-i-n-g L-o-t?" Too tough? Well, how about "D-u-m-p?"

Anyway the scenery was great, but watch out that you don't hit your head on the nearby neighbor's slideout as you leave your camper . . .

By the way, the "flowers" on that agave are plastic . . . someone has a nice sense of humor . . .

On to Las Vegas the next day, and to . . . guess what? . . . a big dinner on Sunday . . . is it that all the folks we visit are extremely social? . . . or is it . . . US?

Impressions of San Felipe

I came away with two strong impressions from this visit to San Felipe – number one was the high level of social activity at the Flinn household.

In this first picture, you see the table set for dinner on Valentine's Day (our first day there) . . . or, is it for Sunday (our second day there) . . . or, maybe it's for Monday (our third day there) . . . hmmmm . . . besides the six house guests, there were usually four or five other friends in to dinner – and a good time was had by all!

On Wednesday, at lunch, it's traditional for a large group to meet at a local establishment – outside! (eat your hearts out, you folks in the NorthWest!) – for tacos or similar lunch and general camaraderie.

Impression number two is the work obsession of the male householder – he has to be busy every (daylight) minute, doing something on their place . . . bricking in walkways and patios, putting clamshells on the driveway, building little alcoves here and there – I'm worried about his health in the future . . . there's no room left on the lot for any more projects, so what will he do? . . . and will his health suffer for lack of activity? Here's a picture of their home from the front, a picture of the south sideyard, and a picture of an interesting "establishment" in the backyard. [Given that all water has to be trucked in at no trivial expense, this, of course, makes a lot of sense . . . as well as being quite a conversation piece . . . ]

Getting to Mexico

I know, this is quite late, but while in Mexico our on-line
activities were severely limited (no downloading or uploading beyond
basic e-mails and newspaper articles due to a 200 MB/day limit shared
by four laptops).

So, in this first picture we're arriving at the border, having driven
from Mojave, CA that morning. Then you can see somewhat typical
countryside as we go on down the road, finally arriving just at dark
at Bud and Dotty's place, where we were greeted with a campfire and a
glass of wine, and weather warm enough to sit outside. After wine
and appetizers, we went on over to the neighborhood cantina (which
was really jumping due to $5 spaghetti Friday night as well as just a
general desire to get together with friends.) While there, a young
(?) gentleman came over and introduced himself as a schoolmate of
both Clara's and Dotty's in Imperial, NE way back when. Actually, he
was just behind Dotty (by a year) so they hardly knew him, but they
did know his older sister, who was in Clara's graduating class. He
has also established permanent residence in the San Felipe area,
which, although there are no exact census figures, is reputedly home
to some forty or fifty THOUSAND ex-pats from the U.S. It is possible
for a couple to live down there on nothing more than their monthly
Social Security . . . so that would suggest somewhere upwards of
seventy or so MILLION dollars per MONTH going into the local
economy . . . too bad the little people hardly see it . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Nuff said!"

"Nuff said!"

Today was gorgeous and uneventful . . . we traveled from Orland, CA to Mojave, CA with nary a hint of snow and lots of blue sky and sunshine . . . tomorrow we hope/plan to arrive right close to the border and traipse on down to San Felipe on Saturday morning for the Valentine's Day festivities . . .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lessons to learn . . .

Today we learned two important lessons, so we'll share them with you. We got on the road early today, around 8, and buzzed along smoothly . . . up to a point where we were about 80 miles from the California border. At that point the large overhead electronic board flashed at us
"I-5 closed 70 miles ahead due to
blizzard conditions in California."

Completely taken aback, we puzzled over how to proceed – stop at the closure point and wait it out, or find an alternate route, or . . .

When we got a few more miles on down the road, at Grants Pass, OR, we stopped and made inquiries of a) the tourist information folks, b) the attendant at the gas station, c) the on-line traffic advisories from ODOT which carried dire warnings of the requirements of chains on all four wheels, d) the 511 reports on highways.

We finally decided to try the apparent alternate route, down Hwy 199 to the coast at Crescent City, CA thence on down the coast. After just a short distance (13 miles) down this route we came to another sign – WRECK AHEAD – after which we came upon a long line of stopped vehicles. Two boys walking up the road told us that a semi had hit a van, leaving the van in the ditch and the semi stretched across the road. After about an hour, a deputy sheriff came by and said that it would be at least an hour before things were cleared.

We decided to head back and go on down the original route, which to our great surprise and frustration (but not disappointment) was open, clear and totally unmarked by further signs of closure or chains or anything else. Look at the first picture below to see the awful conditions we faced.

Lesson #1: Your life gets messed up when you get bad information, and it's darn near impossible to tell whether the information you get is good or bad.

We're now in Orland, CA at the Old Orchard RV Park, quietly enjoying a wine (Clara) and a Scotch (me). The trip was uneventful, actually over the whole day, except for the misdirection of the bad information.

We did get to pass by Mt. Shasta and got a beautiful view of it, together with a couple nice pictures.

Lesson #2: The output from Photoshop is heavily influenced by the character of the surroundings left after you've cropped off a part of a picture. Armchair philosophers can rephrase this and really go to town, starting from "What you see is heavily influenced by the circumstances in which you confront it . . . "

Here you can see three photos, the second one cropped from the first -- but note that its coloration and its character have changed without any action other than cropping -- and the third cropped from the second.

On The Road Again . . .

Monday morning we woke up to . . . SNOW . . . yet again . . . it's b-a-a-a-c-k . . . so we got ready to leave . . .

Actually we were already planning to leave on Tuesday, but we hadn't planned to be so eager to leave! On Tuesday as we were heading south from Seattle, it was even worse -- snow and fog! But traffic moved along carefully and steadily (for the most part, with only an occasional spot of congestion.)

At the moment we are ensconced in the Salem Campground, just behind Home Depot in Salem, OR on the shore of Lake Detroit, which we cannot even see from our campsite . . .

Our plan is to head straight to Baja for a short while, then up to Vegas; later back down to Tucson -- all the while visiting friends along the way. We'll work in a visit to Death Valley while it's relatively cool there, and later get to some of the Parks in Utah -- Bryce, Zion, etc., with a due date back home of May 20ish.