Friday, October 31, 2014

Day of the Dead

It's the beginning of the 3 day celebration of the "Day of the Dead" here in Mexico.  It is very different than Halloween in the states.  It is more a remembrance of those relatives and friends that have passed.

The photos today are of three "Katrina's" that I have collected.  Over the years to come I will no doubt add to my collection of dead ladies.  They are made in all sizes, shapes and colors.  The one thing they have in common is they are all dead people.

Perhaps they look better in ghostly black and white.
Here is a short explanation of the holiday.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the triduum of Allhallowtide: All Hallows' Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls' Day.[1][2] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

We may go join this evening parade in El Centro.  We'll see if brother Dave and SIL Jamie are up for the adventure.  I'll shoot pictures and give a first hand report on our adventure as we partake in the Day of the Dead.

Life is Good..... on this side of the tombstone.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Life is Good in Mazatlan

Today I will take you on a quick tour of our home in Mazatlán.  But first I'll tell you the short version of how we got here. 

Portofino from across the Marina.
One day I mentioned to Terri that I wanted a bigger boat.  She laughed at me.  She announced that would not happen until she had a home in Mexico to retire to.  I knew there would be no new boat until I delivered on a place in sunny Mexico.  I became inspired to find the right place so that I could find the next boat.

That's how we ended up with our Mazatlán condo.  My dreams changed from a bigger boat to an RV and now we are both happy RV'ing and spending our Winters on the sixth floor over looking the boats at Marina Mazatlán. So here's the quick visual tour.

We're second from the left, up six floors.
Our view from the balcony overlooks the swimming pool and the Marina.
The Sea of Cortez (Pacific Ocean) is out at the horizon.
We decided not to go subtle..... bold Mexican colors.

I've enjoyed my slight addiction to collecting blown glass and art.
Looking back into the kitchen.
Here is a close-up of a painting by one of Mazatlán's best painters, Tikio.
Master bedroom.
My guitars.
A view out the bedroom bay windows.
And another piece of blown glass.
Here is strange cultural difference that you find in Mexican kitchens.  Because tortillas are cooked with every meal the gas stoves have a center grill that is made just for that purpose.  We have become good Mexicans and make tortillas all the time.

Not only do stoves have a center grill,
they have a fold down glass top... a really good idea.

I won't show you the other two bedrooms, you'll have to come visit to see them.  We love guests, so consider this an open invitation to come on down and see our town.  We have a room waiting for you.

Last but not least we have a nice big pool and lots of grass and flowers.  And the best part is I don't have to mow the lawn or clean the pool.

As I was finishing writing this blog I stopped to shoot one last photo.  Tonight's sunset over the Marina.

Life is very good.

Surfs Up Dude

It's been a good first 5 days here in Mazatlán.  The weather has cooled a few degrees or else I am adjusting to the heat and humidity. My brother and sister-in-law, Dave and Jamie, arrived in town on Monday so we have been enjoying time with them.  They will be here for a month and are the first of many family and friends that arrive in November.

The first of many beach walks.

The surf was perfect and there must have been 100 surfers enjoying their morning at Playa Bruja.

She may have been the best surfer this morning.
Eva is more interested in digging holes in the sand and meeting other dogs.  She has to relearn the fact that waves roll in and if she is not paying attention she gets soaked.  She is still learning and was soaking wet.

A new friend.
We were walking by the newest restaurant on the Marina the other morning when we saw a fisherman bringing in the morning catch.  We're going to have to try "Dock 7" because we now know they have very fresh fish.

The morning catch, fresh Dorado.
On Sunday Terri was busy leading the cheers that brought the Seahawks to victory.  The town is full of Seahawk fans.  Mostly I enjoyed the Nachos.

At Christy's for the game.
In the last blog I mentioned that we were having our air conditioning serviced and repaired.  The two technicians came out on Saturday and got us going but we had a bad condenser in the main Trane unit. So on Monday they returned and recharged the system and replaced the condenser. The cost for Freon, a condenser and two trips out for two technicians was 1,580 pesos.  In US dollars that is $116.92.  Have I mentioned that I love Mexico.

Life is good..... or cool in the air conditioned condo.

In my next blog I'll give you a tour of our condo, Portofino.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hotter Than Heck

We arrived safe and happy at 11:30am Friday in Mazatlán.  Just in time to have lunch in Cerritos before going the last two miles to our home.  We spent the afternoon unloading the car and setting up home for the next five months in the sun.  Speaking of just plain hot here, over 90 degrees today.

Friday evening we went with friends to listen to music in Olas Altas.  It was a proper kick off to a Fall and Winter of good music.  Good friends, good music and good food.

Tonights music is being provided by a 10 piece band that is playing for a large wedding party that is happening in front of us on the marina.  They spent the last two days setting up for the party so we could see that it was going to be a big bash.

Our view down onto the wedding party starting at sunset.
As I write this evening the party continues.  It's still in the mid 80's so it's to warm for me to want to be a wedding crasher.  I'm sure they are missing my fine dancing.

I am sure the party will continue until late into the night.  They don't quit early.
One of the things I love about living up high above the marina is the opportunity to be continually entertained by sitting on the balcony.  In the early morning it's the sports fishing fleet heading out, all day long it's yachts coming and going, in the evening it's live music and people watching.

We just finished our evening walk along the marina boardwalk.  We've added two more restaurants since we were here last.  There's a little of everything here now: Japanese, wood fired pizza. a wings place, a large sports bar, fresh seafood and even a Mexican restaurant.  Another restaurant is opening on November 1st.  We won't starve. 

The next blog I will tell you about having our air conditioners fixed and serviced today.  Two guys were out today (Saturday) within the hour of calling them.  We need to be ready for my brother and sister-in-law (Dave and Jamie) when they arrive on Monday.  The workers will be back on Monday to bring a new condenser and finish servicing the three units. Take a guess at what it will cost?  You will be surprised.  I love Mexico.

Our last sunset before leaving Tucson.
Life is good.......I hugged my cactus goobye before leaving the RV stored in Tucson.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ready to Go to Mexico

We're just about ready to head for Mazatlán, Mexico.  It will be a two day drive of just over 750 miles.  Having done the drive last year we now know the ropes and it will be a nice drive through an amazing amount of agricultural land with thousand of acres of greenhouses.  The next time your fruit or vegetables say grown in Mexico, they probably will have come from the farmlands of the state of Sonora.

One of the last things we do before entering Mexico is review and change our Verizon plan.  This year we will be keeping our two phones activated on an international plan that includes Mexico.  The cost is only an additional $15.00 per month.  We will reduce our data plan to a minimum and put our Jetpack and iPad service on hold for five months.  The cost to have Wi-Fi internet in our condo is much less than we pay for Verizon in the states.  All money saved will be spent on fresh shrimp.

So if you want to call us just use our regular phone numbers, we're right next door.

When we were at the Verizon store last night Terri upgraded her old cell phone to an Apple i5.  It was free with the trade-in of her old Razor phone, a very good deal. This will allow her to sync her iPad and iPod to her new phone.  The girl is now all Apple. 

I'm still stuck in Windows but at least I don't hate Bill Gates and Microsoft since the upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Terri took Eva for a spa day (haircut) while I cleaned all the carpets in the motorhome this morning.  We are cleaned, packed and ready to become Mexicans again.

A fine Tucson Cactus.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dancing Our Way From San Diego to Tucson

Thursday we continued our delayed childhoods by spending the day in Disneyland.  We both enjoyed the old Disneyland more than we did California Adventure.  I think it is an age thing, we like something from our generation better.

The Monorail, the Matterhorn, and a yellow submarine.  Old school Disney.
A Princess Castle......
For Princess Cheryl and Princess Terri.
Goofy Old Man.
We stayed late for the night time parade and were completely worn out after a full day of fun.  We postponed our departure from Cheryl's house until Saturday morning.  We needed a day of rest on Friday.  Being retired old people is hard work.

Another cute Disney girl from the parade.
We drove half way to Tucson and are spending the night in Yuma, Arizona.  It is a typical Fall day here in Arizona.... sunny and 89 degrees.  We're going square dancing tonight with Howard and Barb, friends from Washington who are snowbirds here in Yuma.  It should be warm and fun!

We'll be in Tucson by noon tomorrow spending 3 or 4 days getting ready to enter Mexico.

Last year we learned that there are a few things that are hard to find in Mexican stores so we will stock up and bring them with us.  Asian spices for cooking, high quality TP and paper towels, dishwasher soap packets, our brand of dog food are easier to bring than find in Mazatlán.

Yesterday I got our 180 day Mexican visas and purchased our Mexican auto insurance for our time there.  Our six month policy is less expensive than our US insurance which I will put on hold during our stay in Mazatlán.

Life is good..... I think a Princess winked at me...... that's my story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

San Diego

We arrived in San Diego on Sunday afternoon.  The drive out of Bakersfield through the Grapevine and down into Los Angles was easy on a Sunday morning.  The drive South to San Diego on I-5 is nice because it is a well maintained freeway that follows the coastline for good views.

We are staying in front of Cheryl and Oliver's home just West of downtown San Diego.  Cheryl is Terri's best friend from her high school days.  The two have stayed in close touch the past 40+ years and enjoy being together.

Cheryl has one Granddaughter with another on the way, so we have enjoyed getting to know Gwendolyn (Gwennie).  Her and Eva are now best friends.

Eva stretched out and enjoying a good belly rub.  The one year olds love each other.
Both are smiling.
Yesterday the four of us went to Disney's California Adventure.  That is the newer park right next to Disneyland.  The weather was perfect and the lines were small because it was a Tuesday.  Here are a few photo of us being kids (at heart).

From the movie "Cars". Gitterdun.
Toy Story
Monsters Inc.
Cute waitress in the new Cars Land.
Just like my red Miata.
Another cute Disney girl.
Buzz Lightyear.
We went on the big California Screamin' rollercoaster and it was our first time being upside down.  I can cross that off my bucket list. Once is enough.  We both loved the new "Radiator Springs Racers" ride in Cars Land.  It's a very fast car race through the mountains.  Very FAST.

We are going back to do Disneyland on Thursday.  We needed a days break between the two to recover.  Old people.

Life is good in the Happiest Place on Earth.  We're off to Tucson on Saturday.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Marina Mazatlan

Do you ever want to see what our neighborhood looks like in Mazatlán?  We spend Winters (Nov. thru March in our condo on the marina at Marina Mazatlán.  Have a look around.  There are several short videos embedded in this website.  Here is a link:

Click on the link and see the sites of Marina Mazatlán.

Sunset from our balcony.

Scenario Planning

More ramblings from the depths of my marginal brain.  Or "How do I plan for and think about bad things that could happen while traveling down the road."

15 months ago we started our traveling life style with only slight hesitations about what was ahead in the great unknown.  Being the planner I am, I had run hundreds of scenarios through my mind and had developed solutions for when "Crap Happened".

I had covered medical, dental, communications, financial, Mexican visas, foreign insurance, even vet care for Eva.  I had done my due diligence and planning.  I had worried the proper amount about our new life style.

The last couple of days gave us the chance to experience one of those fun little situations that life throws our way. Here's what happened.

As we drove uphill into Yosemite National Park I was hearing strange and unfamiliar sounds from the braking system on the motorhome.  This was not an immediate problem because we were going uphill, the problem would be going 100 miles back down hill.  We were camped for 3 nights so it gave me plenty of time to think about our situation.

Now back to my "Scenario Planning".  I had planned ahead.  I had an amazing tow insurance plan so I was covered there.  Next was something I call my "OH Crap Fund".  I had set aside a nice stack of money for when things went wrong.  I never wanted to be forced into making a poor decision because of finances.  It was time to use a little of that money to remedy our situation.

So instead of worrying or white knuckling my way down the mountain or being to proud and manly, I made the call.   Getting a tow to our location was not easy, there was a very active forest fire going on the highway we had traveled into the park. They had sadly lost a pilot and his fire fighting plane in their efforts to put out the fire, so traffic was a challenge.

We waited comfortable in our home on wheels all day until the tow truck arrived.  After hooking up, disconnecting the drive line on the motorhome, we were ready to follow the tow truck in our Honda.  3 hours and 97 miles down the mountains and we were in Fresno at the repair shop.  It only took 13 hours to get through the experience.

Because we had the "OH Crap Fund" I decided to have a complete rebuild of the brake system.  We had new pads, rotors and calipers on all 4 disc brakes.  It was probably overkill for the situation but I thought that with many years ahead of travel I might as well use the "Fund" and have peace of mind.  That's what it was there for.

Life is Good and it only cost $1,946.34.  Cool.

Eva didn't worry one bit.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yosemite National Park

Here was our invitation to enter Yosemite National Park.  If you can't drive thru that rock you might as well not go any further.  It doesn't get easier as you go.

Hold your breath and drive fast.... it will fit.
We've been out of touch this week as we have camped deep inside Yosemite.  We were at Crane Flat campground with no cell coverage.....or water or electricity or sewer.  If it wasn't for the full moon there wouldn't have been any outdoor light.

Bridalveil Falls
We drove and hiked for three days.  With an elevation of 8,000 feet the temperatures were great for morning hikes and warming to the 80's in the afternoon.  The lake at 8,500 feet was definitely not warm enough to swim in, at least by me.

Tenaya Lake
Eva liked the view, not the cold water.
Granite and more granite.
We drove most of the major roads through the park but Yosemite Valley loop road was the highlight.  Here are a bunch of photos from our drives.

Love those reflection photos.

In the early days of the park, stagecoaches
would pass through this stump.
Sequoia trees.
How big and how old?
100 feet around and over 3,000 years old.
Old people hiking 3 1/2 miles.  First half down hill, second half UPHILL.
Pacific Dogwood, changing colors in the Fall.
Lots of rock climbers, but not me.
Near the end.... another dead tree shot.
We are stopped for the day in Fresno to have some brake work done on the motorhome.  Because I write only positive and optimistic reports I will skip the story about our adventure being towed out of Yosemite.  I did the right thing and used the towing insurance as opposed to the manly "white knuckle drive down the mountains."   Smart move.  I'm learning in my old age.

It would have been a shame to not be able to share my final photo with you all.  Here is my artistic inspiration while eating pretzels the other evening.  It's almost as good as my rock stacking.

Our new salt and pepper shakers and my fine art.
Life is good....Love u.