Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back in the desert again!

January 8, 2014

We arrived in Quartzsite on January 2 to a warm welcome from the assembled desert dwellers. A hearty dinner and a roaring fire...lots of port! 

My Christmas present from Heather and Sue....codifies my 'New Philosophy'!!

The intervening week has flown by. Lots of catching up and 'Santa Chat'  A quick trip into Coachella to pick up the car and its new tires. (Long story about malfunctioning Brake Buddy to follow!)

Shopping at Trader Joe's, Fallas Paredes, Target, and a few other stops! Bought a new Ninja--left the old one with Carolyn so the curry Thursdays can continue unabated. Then we showed Heather how to make lasagne in it and I think they're now shopping for one!

Dinner on Friday and Saturday at the Black Rock Diner in Brenda (about 10 miles up I-10) Saturday's feature was prime rib and it might be the best prime rib we've ever had.

Sunday we bade goodbye to Bruce and Sue who are on their way down the Baja (envy, envy) followed by housekeeping and laundry and other fun stuff! 

We then took Buck and Heather up to the Desert Bar   and couldn't have picked a better day. Bright sunshine not too crowded, good band and a first class tri tip sandwich!

Believe it or not this is the view from the urinals in the men's room...err shack!

Spent most of Monday helping Buck install a new water pump, fan and shower head in Prince Reindeer.

Today it was CFS at Taco Mio and haircuts/beard six pounds lighter!

Upcoming: The tent is up and the big RV Lifestyles (that just means they can sell stuff not even remotely related to RVing!) opens on January 8.

Mojo has been having a great time with his 'harem'--all the other pups here are ladies! But he's covered in sand....imagine! So on Friday we drive to Yuma for a 'dip and clip' for him and a lunch and catchup with old friends from B&B days!

Continuing to enjoy the 70F days and the sunshine!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Finally on Vacation!

Berghold Vineyards, Lodi CA

Some of the stained glass work from Berghold Winery
Even though we left the Okanagan back in mid November it feels like today was our first day away!

We had six wonderful weeks in the lower mainland, parked in Surrey but driving almost daily into Richmond to visit with Carolyn and Emily and three days a week to Brentwood Mall/Oakridge to deliver/pick up Santa. The lead up to Christmas was very different than the previous several years...colder and wetter to be sure! Thankfully only one snowfall that only lasted a couple of days!

Vintage Santa meet Vintage Santa

After a wonderful Christmas we crossed the border on the 27th along with half the rest of the world it seems. It also appeared that the Homeland Security people had received coal in their stockings because they were in a terribly grumpy mood!

Finally on our way, four hours later than planned, we had a long wet slog through Seattle rush hour traffic to reach Centralia. Then next day on to Canyonville and a soak in their brilliant hot tub, fabulous buffet and some 'quality time' in the casino.....things were looking up!

After Canyonville on to Corning and the Rolling Hills Casino and RV park another great buffet and a good night in the casino for one of us! The Siskyou pass was bare and dry and Prince Reindeer took the hills with aplomb!

Today, December 30 we rolled into Lodi one of our favorite places! After getting the Prince parked and hooked up we were off to the Michael David Winery (just up the road) for lunch at the adjoining Phillips Farm Restaurant.

Buck and Heather had been there a few days ago and raved about the Tri-Tip ( a cut of meat  rarely seen outside of California) sandwich.

Tri-tip is usually smoked (barbecued) and served either sliced or 'pulled' as this was inside a yummy crusty French bun, with melted cheese and really tangy barbecue sauce. It came with a side of potato salad and I ordered a glass of the Earthquake Cab-Sauv....pure heaven! Ross had the turkey bacon club and a white blend which I assume was more than acceptable based on how fast it disappeared!

We then visited Berghold Winery--another fave--mostly to take in the arts, crafts and antiques they have on display. This time of year the featured items are vintage European Santas created by Mrs. Burghold that are only on display during the holiday season.  All the photos in this edition were taken there.

We had been to Berghold ( few years ago very much by accident and were blown away by the incredible collection. Every year since then we've been through Lodi too early or too late to see the collection which is only out from Thanksgiving to mid January.

Note the upside down Christmas Tree next to Santa
Some other lovely things at Berghold...

Berghold also has a selection of beautiful antique armoires that they have restored and converted into wine cellars and cigar humidors. One however has been turned into the most amazing giant music box we've ever seen!

After that we wandered down the road to Stockton and Trader Joe' fully stocked up on Morgado Port, Blue Cheese, Champagne and all kinds of other treats we're ready to see the new year in! 

Off tomorrow to the Orange Grove in Bakersfield. Tree ripened oranges and pistachios!!

2014's going to be ushered in in style!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Best-laid plans of Mice and Bears!!

Well here it is a month and two days AFTER Christmas, more than three months since we left the Okanagan and we haven’t written anything   on our blog!  There have been numerous daily missives on Facebook, so to those of you who do not trust Facebook or are like Betty White and think it is a giant waste of time, we apologize!

Let’s recap what’s been happening with us.

We made it to Fresno and were pleased to see so many of the faces we know from last year.  Biggest bummer was the fact even though we had been promised a store front for dressing room/staff lounge/supply cupboard, we were instead shown back into the “cave.” 

This cinder block building that has a metal roof about 20 feet in the air is unheated (no power), unplumbed (no water), and un”sewered” (no bathroom).  Needless to say Ross was not pleased, however someone had been in there from last year and organized all the blueprints in a neat arrangement and sorta cleaned the place up…a bit! 

The set manager, assistant manager, and one other crew were all back this year.  The other crew were trained up and we had a successful year.  The kids were great, the parents were something other than great in some cases.  Most kids wanted electronics (computers, game stations, remote controlled everything), some sort of doll or accoutrement (Barbie, Barbie’s dream house/car/clothes), bikes (two wheel with or without training wheels, three wheel, motorized, electric, remote controlled), and such. 

There were the “always trying to trip up Santa” requests for Santa, Mrs. Claus, one of my elves, one of my reindeer (principally Rudolf), a unicorn.  There were those that wanted a live animal – puppy, kitten, hamster, python (!!!). And those that wanted money, gift cards, clothes, car, etc.  Blessedly Santa had much fewer requests for ” a place to sleep”, “a house for my family”, or some such (hopefully that means a stronger economy is on its way).  Santa had a few requests for loved ones to return for Christmas, sometimes the loved one was just in another part of the country due to work, sometimes due to divorce/separation, however sometimes the loved one had passed away and the child wanted to them to reappear.  That’s when Santa put on his social worker hat and had a quick two minute counselling session!!!  All in all, the year was busy and productive.   

While Ross was being the jolly old elf, Ed was equally busy…….taking the dogs for their exercise, taking himself for exercise at the gym, making sure that Santa was well fed and watered, working the phone banks for the Obama campaign where he met a few interesting locals, and having fun being a secret shopper.  This is where he is hired by a company to go into a specific business, pretend to be a member of the public,  and shop.  It may be the store’s management assessing staff helpfulness, or to see that the shelves were stocked properly, or that the staff is wearing the correct uniform, or that service was provided in a competent, and timely fashion.  But he got to see inside some  establishments that he would not otherwise step into—and some he’d prefer to never go into again!

Sickness was rampant this year between Ed and Ross.  Ross had a cold that he couldn’t shake for the first two weeks of the season, then Ed had an extremely sore tooth that he had to have examined.  Ross was doing well until the first part of December when some little something passed along the Norwalk virus he was off his feet for three days (not fun trying to find another Santa to fill in for him).  Of course Ed was not to be outdone and he got it too………fun times in the motor home!!!  We were both OK after that until we hit Quartzsite……..but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Along with friends of ours, Buck and Heather Buchanan from Victoria, we had planned on traveling down to revisit Los Barriles a wonderful little town in Baja Mexico.  We discovered that enclave on last year’s caravan and we all were planning on getting another caravan down to the spot and camp there for a month or so.  But Heather had a health scare (it’s OK now) and they decided not to go. 

Since they weren’t going and after the Norwalk  scare we reassessed the situation and decided it was best to stay in the USA for this year.  Of course, our friends Bruce and Sue Ferrie also from Victoria, and Monica and Laurie Belliveau from Kaleden were going to go down with the caravan that we took last year. We were all going to meet up  in Los Barriles but it wasn’t to be! Anyway after all the long range travel planning and then un-planning we were at a bit of a loss!

We had always planned to meet up in the desert near Quartzsite AZ so after Christmas and a bit of recovery time we left Fresno for the Arizona desert. (regular readers can now skip to the next paragraph!) Quartzsite is a small town at the intersection of two major highways halfway between Lake Havasu City and Yuma.  Quartzsite  sits out in the middle of the desert and is a magnet for RVers.  Thousands of rigs from little pup tents, to massively large motor homes converge on this town for a few months in the winter for the mild climate, dry air, and various shows – rock and gem, RV, classic cars, and the largest flea market we have ever seen (many, many acres of tables, tents, lean-tos, trailers, displays, food courts, etc., etc.).  If you like to shop this is the place for you because if you want something and can’t find it in Quartzsite… probably don’t need it anyway!!!

Buck and Heather of course had stayed in Victoria, but Bruce and Sue were waiting for us with cold Martinis upon our arrival!  Also met a couple of their friends who were experiencing Quartzsite for the first time.  They are serious dog breeders and also were going to show their Pomeranian dogs at some rather prestigious shows while down here. 

Bruce and Sue had also brought their granddaughter with them and she was with them for a couple of weeks.  Always good to have new audiences to tell old jokes!!!!  Weather in Quartzsite (and everywhere else in North America) was cold and bleak.  We didn’t have snow but it got close to or below freezing many nights.  Thankfully the furnace works well and we were able to make it through those cold nights!!! 

Took in the rock and gem show and the RV show.  Rock and gem show is great for anyone thinking about, or actually creating, jewelry.  Any type of rock, in any form, in any size is available in hundreds of buildings, tents, or displays.  There are also any type, colour, size, quantity of equipment/accessories for jewelry.

The RV show takes place in a massive tent (about this size of two football fields put end to end) and around the perimeter outside.  Everything from the smallest nut or bolt needed in a RV through the complete RVs.  We saw one RV where they were asking $275,000.  Mind you it was nice and all, but that’s more than our house, car, motor home, and all the furnishings put together!!!!  Well, almost.  And the flea market – what can we say………..again if you can’t find it here, you don’t  really need it!!!  Camping goods, household goods, gee-gaws, flags, books (possibly from the naked book sellers –he’s not THAT good looking, but he is naked!), sculptures, used auto parts, guns, knitted goods, kitchen appliances, etc., etc.  Some of it great, some of it not worth stopping to look at it.  Then there’s the auction house (tent) where you can buy out of date food stuffs (or food stuffs that never have a “best before date”), tools, and all manner of other stuff from an auctioneer so desperate to sell his goods (we think he buys trailer loads of left over shipments for all over) he has been heard to say: “What am I bid for this?  10 dollars……..5 dollars……..2 dollars……..come on now, that’s cheaper than  broom straw”.  Auction hunters have nothing to worry about!!!!

During the three weeks in the AZ desert we were able to go to Yuma a few times (twice to visit with friends from the B&B) for groceries and cheap gas.  We made it to the Crossroads Café in Parker for our favourite dish……chicken fried steak…….YUMMM! 

Went to Lake Havasu City to see the hot air balloon festival but it was too windy and there were no hot air balloons to be seen…..bummer.  Found a VERY eclectic bar in the foothills, and an exceptional road side diner in a tiny town east of Quartzsite where their prime rib was the special of the night and wonderful……..even if it was too filling (the 8 oz. Classic portion looked like about 16 oz.!!).  We had campfires and great times, but isn’t that what vacations were meant to be???  Of course Bruce came down with a cold just before we left and has given it to Ed then Ross picked it up… issues…….again!!!

We have moved onto Fountain of Youth Mineral Springs and RV resort, just north of Niland, CA.  We have been here before and wanted to come back……possibly the only place we have re-visited with the exception of Quartzsite.  This RV park is terraced up  an incline and looks out over the Salton Sea and the mountains beyond.  The hot tubs (there are 4 of them are at differing temperatures) and the 2 pools are wonderful.  They have every imaginable game/sport that a retired person would want – pool, shuffleboard, bocce ball, horseshoes, tennis, water aerobics, Flintstone desert golf (yes, there is a semi golf course scratched out in the desert next to the RV park…..but don’t use your good clubs or they won’t be ‘good’ afterward!!) and everybody races around the place in golf carts!!!  Mind you, Ross (being the night owl that he is) is usually just going to bed when everyone else is getting up………..early to bed, early (WAYYY too early) to rise.  Ed has been enjoying the hot tubs while Ross is still not feeling well enough to soak, but maybe within the next few days!!! 

So there you have it…………a blog covering what we have been doing from late October, to mid-January……and all in 2 ½ pages!!!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Last Bit of the Journey Fresno to Westbank

February 27

We reluctantly leave Fresno and head north. It is the end of our journey for this year and we are more than a little anxious to get back to BC, the Okanagan, and home......if for nothing else but to see Ross’ physician. As Ross and Ed stop for gas near Stockton CA, we bid farewell to our dear friends Buck and Heather. 

 They have been incredible, as friends, as traveling companions, and a wonderful people. We have had lots of laughs, great food, interesting discussions about most everything, and we are proud to consider them our friends. Buck and Heather have booked into the Flags RV park in Lodi for a couple of nights. There are wineries that need to be explored, and wine to be drunk!!  

We head off to Corning to the casino and the Olive Pit!! We make our usual shop at Olive Pit vowing not to spend any more money than we absolutely have to......then end up spending 5X more than we expected because there are things we just HAVE to try!!! 

Corning casino has changed its RV parking system (we didn’t know this until we parked in somebody else’s spot.......and they let us know in no uncertain terms.........but we play dumb, apologize all over the place, and finally work it out.) We wander over to the casino where Ross loses most of the money he came in with ($20), but Ed wins a fairly large pot at the slot machines!!!! Then home to sleep and get an early start in the morning.......we have the Siskiyou pass to contend with . 

February 28 
Off early and on the highway. All reports say there is a huge storm front coming into this area and they are expecting to close the pass about 4PM. As we travel through this part of highway I-5 there is no snow, no rain, and not much traffic.........things are looking up. We run into a bit of rain as we come down the mountains in Oregon but even that is mild in comparison to what this area can get weather-wise. 

 We arrived in Canyonville – Seven Feathers RV park – early afternoon, get checked in (they actually remember us!), and we book in for two nights as we are told the storm is about to come into the area that night. A sit in the hot tub, some TV, feed/walk/water the dogs, and then off to the casino for dinner and a bit of fun at the slots. We neither lost too much nor won a huge amount but we did have fun. And then back to take the dogs for a the rain!!! 

February 29 
We get off to a late start but again have a soak in the hot tub while watching braver (or more stupid?) RVers drive off in the snow.......go for a walk with the a TV..........sit in the hot tub again..........and soon it is time to go back to the casino for dinner and some fun. Ross’ luck (or lack thereof) is holding and he is losing money............but Ed wins a minor jackpot. Bells are ringing, lights are flashing, the slot machine has told him to sit tight until an attendant get there........and sure enough as two attendants arrive he is given $650, congratulated, and then encouraged to keep playing!!! Well done big guy!!!!

Enough excitement for tonight and back to the motor home. 

March 1
We pack up the rig and take off to more northern climes. Just after we arrive in Centralia, Washington we got a phone call from Buck and Heather saying they had made a crazy trip from Lodi to Seven Feathers so we all could celebrate Buck’s birthday at the seafood buffet..and where were we?? Well, if we had known they were coming we would gladly have stayed put and had a great time with them.........maybe next year???? 

March 2 
We cross over into Canada. All our border crossings this trip have been quite pleasant and relatively quick. The weather is cold and wet.......welcome to the Pacific Coast in winter!! 

 After settling in we’re off to meet up with Carolyn and family. Of course we pig out on sushi for dinner and generally catch up on news. Emily has grown tremendously over the last 4 months and is now talking in complete sentences, no matter how rudimentary they are. And she is finding her own personality!!! Angie (Alex's daughter) has improved her English as well and she and Ross have a pretty good conversation. We make plans for the weekend and are planning on taking off home March 5.

March 3 
We pick up Carolyn and Emily and head over to a new playground just around the corner from them. As Ross is still feeling a bit under the weather we drive over there, which of course takes up more time than expected. 

The dogs enjoyed  having a bit of a stretch while Emily discovers swings, slide, and all manner of climbing places. Back to their place for Chinese food from just across the road. You have to love a place that has so many Asian restaurants in one place!!! Sushi one night, Chinese the next, then Thai, Korean, Mongolian, etc etc!! 

March 4 
Off to see the new and improved Vancouver Aquarium and wouldn't you know it, they are having their grand opening of their new wing that day....... lots of people! But the aquarium is well laid out and displays are nicely signed, well lit, and well maintained.

Ross is not feeling too well so he holds down a table in the food court while Ed, Carolyn, and Emily finish looking at all the things to see and do. We were going to have more Asian cuisine for dinner but Ross felt he had had enough for one day and we took off home. 

March 5 
Weather is not great (like what had been predicted) but we take off for home in the morning. Vancouver to Hope had rain, but when we leave Hope we realize both the Coquihalla and Hope-Princeton highways are closed so all traffic is being routed along the Fraser Canyon (Hwy #1).

By the time we reach Yale the snow is coming down in huge flakes. We find no way to turn around, and we don't want to just sit in Yale for the night, so we take our hearts and souls in hand and pray that we can make it to Kamloops. 

 After what seemed like years the snow finally stopped and turned to rain and was quite dry by the time we reached  Kamloops. From there it was a straight (dry) shot home where we were  greeted by the welcoming committee asking all kinds of questions while Ross is trying to guide Ed into the "parking lot" at our place. 

March 6 - 15 
Just a quick update about Ross' condition. After many more tests it is determined that he had a bacterial infection in his gut that appears to have been resolved.

When they did the CT scan of his abdomen in Chula Vista (San Diego) there was an mysterious  mass on his pancreas. He has since undergone another CT scan in Kelowna and the radiologist compared both scans. The mass is still there but has not grown or changed shape over the last 3 weeks so they say it PROBABLY will not be of any clinical problem!!

He is slated for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy at the end of the month just to check on his gut. Otherwise Ross is slowly but steadily improving each day. 

The day after we landed 9AM if you please.......Ed had his first  client and so tax season started. Ross has been busy answering phones, making appointments, and filling out forms, while Ed has been doing his "magic" and helping people keep as much money as they are allowed!! That’s pretty much it for this year’s adventures.

The whole trip has been great........yes, there have been some bad times, but all in all we have had a great time for the last 5 months on the road. 

Some of the highlights: 

  • Fresno Fashion Fair Santa set, manager, and crew 
  • Trader Joe's stores and the amazing food they carry 
  • Spending time in the Arizona desert with good friends 
  • Getting good deals on steaks in Fry's (Yuma) 
  • Whale watching off the shores of Guerrero Negro 
  • Camping on the beaches......especially Los Barriles 
  • Excellent food all over Mexico, Arizona, and California 
  • The amazing 'moving department store'  along the Mexican beaches where you can buy most anything - food, jewelery, clothing, and souvenirs 
  • The ancient churches - some in far away and remote places 
  • The roads in Mexico........they have to be experienced to be believed 
  • Visiting with friends in Cabo San Lucas and San Juan del Cabo
  • Tequila/Margaritas/Mexican beer 
  • The interaction of our two dogs with Kirby and RaRa (Buck and Heather's two canines).......they got along famously 

We hope you have enjoyed traveling along with us…we’ve enjoyed having you! Look for the 2012-2013 blog next year as we again head south for an extended adventure!

 Ross and Ed

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Los Barriles to San Diego

Feb 13

Laundry day! Found a most excellent lavanderia in Los Barriles and after dropping off our clothes we discovered a great store next door with all kinds of funny tee shirts and piñatas!  One of the piñatas, obviously left over from Christmas, was Santa!  Nothing would do but Buck and Ross had to have one each!  We also hit the grocery store, the chocolate shop and the guy selling fresh shrimp on the beach…Dinner!

Back to the beach.... we will be sad to leave Los Barriles…our favorite beach but we really want to get to Loreto to check out Carnival.

Feb 14

Happy Valentine’s Day and the flower sellers are out in force today

Back to La Paz and ready to explore some more of this fine city.  We are in a RV park near to the centre of the city so it’s not such a long drive.  Get settled into this park where we have another caravan of 4 rigs plus a couple of single rigs and we all got to the park at the same time!!!!  Then off to get some presents for Heather’s daughter and onto the pottery place. 

The woman at the pottery place explained that this is a family run operation and do they have beautiful  things!  We bought a couple of plates, a sun (imagine that!), a hot chocolate pot, and a couple of mugs.  Heather bought a few things while Buck slept on the husband bench.  Very excited young girls when they realized there were two Santas in the place, especially when one of the Santas offered them some candy canes!!! 

Our friends Larry and Gail in San Jose del Cabo have recommended an Italian restaurant to us: La Pazta just off the Malecon.  The food there was great….pasta, gnocchi, shrimp, and garlic.  We love all the Mexican favorites but it’s sure nice to have something different!

Had a little walk along the malecon (boardwalk) and watched while people scrambled to get their booths or rides up and running for the start of Carnival in a couple of days.  

A fast trip to Mega to pick up a few groceries.  Back to the RV and get ready to roll again tomorrow.  The RV park was right on the highway and we had +++ noise all night.  Not too conducive to good sleep.

Feb 15

Up early and hooked up……in fact we were one of the first rigs ready to go……..that is a first for this trip!!!  Off on Hwy 1 north and heading to Loreto.  Roads were for the main part straight with good shoulders………until we left Ciudad Constitucion.  Then the winding hills through the mountains started.  As we were coming into view of the Sea of Cortez we are on a steep, narrow, twisty road and as if we needed more adrenalin we hear on our CB that there is a VERY wide load coming up the hill and we should be looking for a place to pull over.  All well and fine most of the time but we are starting a series of hair pin turns at that moment.  However luck is our side and we find a wide spot in the road.  Sure as shooting not a couple of minutes had gone by when we see this behemoth of a transport tractor pulling a massive front end loader up the hill and as it passes our rig we have less than two feet  between us and IT!  Needless to say we took the next few miles carefully!

Finally arrive in Loreto, the original capital of Baja California when this area was being settled.  

The sculpted ficus in downtown Loreto

John, our intrepid leader has recommended a good restaurant – The Giggling Dolphin – for dinner.  The RV park is very small and we are jammed in like sardines.  There may be about 3 feet between some of our rigs.  Getting out will be twice as hard as we have had other people come into the park and it is now completely full.

Ross and Buck discovered this delightful little hotel right downtown off the main square.

We all pile into our car for a quick look at this very old town then decide to check out the Giggling Dolphin.  We had a great time.  The grill is placed under the hood of an old truck, the bar is the top half of a cabin cruiser (bar supplies are kept below decks), and there is a hatch door from the HMCS Yukon – a Canadian destroyer that was scuttled to be used as an artificial reef!  Buck is an old sea dog after serving 28 years in the Canadian navy so he is rightfully excited but this unusual find! 

Of course there are the inevitable Mariachis but these two are pretty good so (for a small fee) they perform ‘Coo coo, Roo Paloma’ a favorite and ‘La Cucaracha’ Heather’s new favorite!
The Mission at Loreto 

When we get back to the rig before we can settle in for the night we have visitors!  We never know how some of our parties start but we always have a great time……..and this is the same.  Before we knew it we were entertaining a few other couples…..and their dogs inside Prince Reindeer (it was too cold to sit outside.)

Feb 16

We are off to see the mission at San Javier.  It is a hour travel into the mountains on mostly paved twisty mountain roads except the last 10 miles which is washboard gravel/dirt road.

 The town may be old and now have only a few residents but the cobblestone streets are clean and the entrance is quite impressive.

Pillared gate posts leading onto a wide intersection – one way leads to the church, the other leads to the school. 

The church was built in the 1700s and is beautiful.  It is one of  the earliest mission church on the Baja – beautiful paintings, incredible woodwork, and gilt everything!  We are then invited to go on a tour of a local farm.  The weather had clouded over and the wind has picked up so Ross (in his t-shirt and shorts) decides to stay in Buck’s truck while everyone else goes off hiking. 

The working farm is quite amazing. Remnants of some of the work of the original Friars is still evident including a 300 year old olive tree that is still bearing!  Our guide, Guillermo, has lived on the farm all his 70 years…and he looks about 50!  Something to be said for the quiet lifestyle.

In addition to the 1000 olive trees there are grapes, radishes, peas, beans, squash, corn, fighting cocks, and his race horse! 

There is also an elaborate irrigation scheme which makes it all work.

We spotted this mother hummingbird sitting on her nest....look closely...

We spotted this classic example of Mexican wiring in the courtyard in front of the's flat on the ground...maybe it never rains there??

After the tour we had Machaca burritos made by Guillermo's family and got to meet Guillermo’s granddaughters….

On the drive home we stopped off to view some small native cave paintings that are quite old...

Back to the RV and off to dinner at Giggling Dolphin (again).  Ross started feeling unwell halfway through dinner with cramping and some nausea.  This continued throughout the evening, so when Ed went to bed that night Ross stayed up for a while.  Only when Ross decided to go to bed did he have an unusual problem…….blood in his stool……lots of old blood.  For those of you who may be squeamish suffice it to say we were both very upset but decided to leave it until the morning.  Ross stayed up the rest of the night.

Feb 17/18……it’s kinda a blur!!

Ross did not have a good night and by 7:00 he again had another bout of blood in his stool.  We talked to Buck and Heather, then phoned our caravan leaders.  John Smith came right over and Heather and Ross jumped into his truck for a fast trip to the hospital.  Needless to say, nothing goes according to plan.  We were all slated to hook up our rigs and head back over to the beach in Santispac.  That trip was held up a bit while Ross was still being seen in the new hospital of Loreto…….actually more like a glorified clinic - limited equipment, staff who were very new to medicine, and an ever increasingly frustrating problem with the language.

Long story cut short, Ross was not given any definitive diagnosis but was given a prescription for pain pills and Ranitidine.  By this time the rest of the caravan has gone on without us, but dear friends Buck and Heather have stayed behind to help in any way they can. 

After blood work at an outside laboratory (no blood can be analyzed by the hospital – no equipment), and a return trip to the hospital, we phone the insurance company back in Ottawa to update them on the file (we had let them know when we originally went to the hospital).  They were not happy that nothing had been clarified and demanded that Ross be sent to a larger community hospital. They were talking about flying him home with either Ed or Heather and sending someone to drive the RV and car back to Canada!

So later in the afternoon………after the hospital has found a driver and escort…….Ross was taken to the General Hospital in Ciudad Constitucion.  This facility is right out of the 1950s with corresponding equipment………for example the IV pole Ross was given was rusted on the bottom 1/3, the wheels did not roll (you had to lift the pole off the ground if you wanted to go anywhere), and it had to be leaning against a wall otherwise it fell over!!!!!!! 

Ed and Buck arrived and tried to get some understanding of what was going on ……..all to no avail………the docs at this hospital were as confused as the staff  in Loreto.  Ross was kept overnight and released in the morning with the orders to take the pain pills and Ranitidine and get home ASAP for a possible colonoscopy.  So Buck, Ed, and Ross headed back to Loreto to consider the options.  We tried to get a flight out of the area but there was nothing available for another week.  Ed rationalized that in the time we sat around waiting to fly out we could be back on USA soil………… we decide to head out and drive as fast as we can for the border.

Feb 19

Ross is not feeling too well but we head out to the beach at Santispac near Mulege and arrive in good time.  Ross went to bed while Ed, Buck, and Heather went over to the beach bar for mega-strong margaritas.  Heather had one………the others had more than that and came home in a convoluted manner giggling all the way!!  When they could be a little more serious (without devolving into gales of laughter each time they looked at each other) we came to the decision to press on without the group as quickly as we could. 

Feb 20

The traveling grocery store began early this morning with three or four sellers walking up and down the beach.  One such seller had his 10 year old son with him so we gave him the last batch of “goodies” we had brought down with us……….a very excited Dad and son!!

Feb 21

On the road early. Left with the group but they were only going to Guerrerro Negro and we wanted to get further ahead. John suggested that we could make El Pabellon (The Pavilion) at San Quintin, and we drove like mad  but only got to El Rosario before it got too dark to drive.  We found an RV park that had questionable power, water, and sewer.  There were no other amenities except a pot holed parking area……….but they had room for us that night and no cucarachas!  We (Buck and Ed – my saviours) drove about 250 miles over the most horrible roads you can imagine this day!

We bid goodbye to Baja California Sur

Feb 22

Strawberry fields forever!

Ross is feeling a bit better and everyone is more relaxed.  We are headed for the border—about a 200 mile drive a snap on good roads! As we get closer to the crossing from Mexico into the USA we also find more military checkpoints.  Some are cursory and we are waved through, and others want to see everything in our rig…..and our car.  Found a group of soldiers checking out the radio while others were searching the trunk.  One young man found the reindeer antlers that attach to the car windows  during Christmas……..he was trying to attach them to his head, then tried to make like one of them was an older model cell phone!!!!

We spotted these two fellows catching the action on the roof adjacent to one of the  many  army inspection sites in Ensenada
We crossed over to US soil about 3:30PM at Otay having to wait in the amazingly long lineup 
for 1.5hours (that is apparently quite a short wait).  We saw two vehicles collide into each other
while trying to maneuver through the line.  Thankfully the Otay police and the border crossing 
guards held the rest of the cars at bay while we swerved around the accident (the two drivers
were still arguing and refusing to move) and we were escorted through a side lane that led to a 
gigantic X-ray machine.  We cleared customs easily  with little questioning and were on our 
way to the KOA campground in Chula Vista (near San Diego).

Feb 23

Ed and Heather headed off  to Trader Joe’s leaving Ross and  Buck to their own devices.

When we returned loaded with TJ’s goodies we realized Ross was feeling lousy and was 
acting “strange”.  On their insistence Ed and Ross went to the Emergency room of Scripps 
Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista. 

The attending physician was great…….a mother earth type who not only looked like our 
wonderful GP back home but also had a similar name! Dr. Bruder ordered a slew of tests
including TWO CAT scans!  Ross was poked, prodded, X-rayed, and a myriad of other tests. 

After 12 hours in Emergency Ross is released at 2:30AM with reports and everything on a 
couple of CDs (good idea for other hospitals to adopt).  Everything came back 
normal……… looks like we are back to square one.

Ed was more than a little tired as he had been either with Ross or driving  back and forth from
the hospital (checking on the dogs, bringing Heather to see Ross, etc.).  We made it  back to
the RV at 0300 (3:00 AM) and collapsed. We will save the stories about the other patients in 
the ER for later!

Feb 24

A very late morning…not up til 9:00!

Bruce (a dear friend from Sooke and fellow Santa) and Buck had found the Family Pancake 
 House just up the road on our last visit before we left for Mexico.  Buck convinced us (not that 
difficult) to give it a try. 

What a find!  Delicious food, unbelievable portions and great servers (we saw one of them
carrying 5  plates down one arm and she had two more in the other hand!!!), and all for a great 

We had planned on leaving the campground today but with the visit to ER etc. we are all 
bagged so we all feel it is best to wait another day.  We rescued Ross’ Santa stuff he had left 
at the KOA and found places to store it in the motor home…….the beast is getting full!!!! 

We grilled steaks and had roasted potatoes with  asparagus/beans/onions in a teriyaki
sauce………..good old American/Canadian food for dinner and sat around with some of the 
other travelers who had crossed the border the day before.  They had spent about 3.5 hours in 
the line at the border and had arrived late that afternoon.  Good evening with lots of laughs.

Feb 25

We hitch up the wagons and are back on the road…….But wait……..the roads are wide, there 
are paved shoulders, and the signs are in English…..HMM, must be America!!  The trip to 
Fresno is pleasant with a few stops for fuel and potty breaks.  We park in our regular RV park 
(Fresno) and get settled in. 

Took Buck and Heather for a quick tour of Fresno our second ‘home’ and introduced them to 
Five Guys restaurant.  This place is one of the best places for hamburgers……..and that’s 
good because at Five Guys Hamburgers and fries are the only thing they serve!!  Walked 
around River Park mall for a bit, then home for a nightcap and sleep.

Feb 26

We (actually Ed) made Eggs Fresno for breakfast for Buck and Heather.  He uses Trader 
Joe’s multi-grain frozen waffles toasted, tops them with ham slices, a fried egg, and TJ’s 
Hollandaise sauce…….his version of Eggs Benedict.  Very good and we only have those on 
 special occasions, just in case my physician reads this missive!!

Took Buck and Heather around Fashion Fair mall (Ross’ “Santa” mall) where Heather did a bit 
of shopping, then out to Kearney Park. 

Kearney was a visionary who arrived in Fresno at the turn of the previous century and bought 
up about 5000 acres southwest of Fresno. His first task was to plant an avenue of palm trees 
fom the center of Fresno out to his property….about seven miles…most still survive.

He then built a large house to live in and run his farms. Ultimately this house would be the farm
superintendent’s home while Kearney planned a much grander ‘Chateau’ to be built nearby.

The estate produced  vegetables, fruit, cattle, and grapes that were sun dried into raisins.  
Unfortunately Kearney died before he could complete his grandiose plans. The property was 
 willed to the University of California who farmed it until about 1949 when it was transferred to 
the County of Fresno.

The house sat vacant until the mid-1960s when the county transferred responsibility for it to the
Historical Society.  

We took a tour of the house (about 4600 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms--2 of them with ensuites), and 
contains about 80% of the original furnishings.  The park is popular with families who picnic 
under the spreading old growth landscaping. There are other events as well..including an 
annual renaissance fair and a civil war re-enactment.

Stopped at Trader Joe’s for groceries and then home.  Dinner was appys and 
salad………..just what we needed after eating our faces off for the last month!!!!