Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Swirl of Color

November visitors' season is over.  The weather is beautiful here but for some reason everyone has gone home to the rain in Washington state.  It's hard to understand.

This years visiting family were: cousin Sandi, brother Dave and SIL Jamie, sister Sara and her kids Sam and Laura.  Friends Roy and Micky and their daughter Caprea and SIL Rob.  It's always fun having visitors in town during November.

Not alot to say today so I'll show you pictures.

Sam and Laura walking around in Centro.  Best garage door ever.
Pretty Mexican girl.
Dancing girls.
Just another sunset from our deck.
Fireworks through an open roof.
A happy Roy and Micki.
Brother Dave looking good.  Nice hat.
Sara and Terri at Kiwi's for lunch.  Sara's last Torta for the year.
Dinner at Aca los Charros.
The building exploded in fireworks to announce the sky full of fireworks.

Aca los Charros has an open roof for viewing the sky....or fireworks.

Life is a swirl of colors in Mexico.....life is good.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

All World Problems Solved.... Check

I've got you covered.  I've solved almost all the big political issues that have come up since the election.  While most of you are busy working and raising families, mowing the lawn or raking leaves, cooking and cleaning or attending to life, I have been thinking.

I'm not just a retired old guy doing nothing.  I spending my time thinking hard and solving the worlds problems.  It turns out that I'm good at it.

I could explain that I have already invented "Trumpocare" and in my own mind it will work perfectly.  It will combine the best of Obamacare and will address ALL the other concerns that face we Americans.  I can't go into details right now but once I get the go ahead from Donald I will let you all know my brilliant plan.

Also in my spare time I have solved the immigration problem so there will be no need for a wall.  It is a low cost solution that will leave us stronger and more unified as a country.  Again another brilliant solution from the retired old guy.

In my extra sleepless moments I've addressed the economy, military concerns, racial issues and how to help the Seahawks win the Superbowl.

I have been a busy man.

Now here is a simple truth from a guy that has backed both Republican and Democratic presidents.  After watching and listening through highs and lows, the world goes on.  No matter how much I fret or worry the sun rises each morning.  As I look around each morning I see more good people then bad people.  I see a reasonable possibility for optimism.  No matter what happens I am still in control of my own attitude.  Life is still good.

Now if an old guy can think-up solutions for the worlds problems in only 8 days since the election I am sure that there are others that are smarter than me working on each of these concerns.  I'll give them a few more days before I explain to them how things should be done.

So as I said, "I've got you  covered."  It will all work out just as it has for the last 65 years that I have been watching the world go round.

Remember: Life is good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dental Appointment in Mazatlan

On Monday I went for my annual dental check-up.  It has become a family affair each November which includes my brother, sister, sister-in-law and almost anyone else that is visiting us.  We have a great dentist that we have used for the last 6 or 7 years.  This year it was an even better financial bargain given the exchange rates right now.

My sister Sara and I both went for our annual cleaning and exam.  The cost is 500 pesos or $24.01 US dollars.  Sara had Dentisa Francisco Bouttier do her cleaning and exam.  I had a younger female Dentisa do my work which was my first time having her as my dentist.  She was great!

I knew that I had a tooth that had a crack in an old filling.  We agreed that it would be a good time to take care of this future problem.  I'm scheduled for three appointments to get a new crown during the next few weeks.  A crown will cost 5000 pesos, so the bill will be under $245.00.  That's about 20% of the cost of my last crown in the states.

My wife Terri and brother Dave have both had multiple crowns done by Dentista Bouttier and are happy with the results.

Life is good.... I'm smiling.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Everyones Talking

Well the election is the "Big Deal" and the topic of most discussions down here in Mazatlan, Mexico.  Americans, Canadians and Mexicans are all watching and waiting to see the effects on our little world of expats in a foreign country.

I can say that everyone we have talked with has been kind and considerate but the world that we live in is in a little shock.

US Dollar equals
20.42 Mexican Peso
Chart of exchange rate values over time

The status of the dollar to peso exchange rate is very real in our life.  It is probably even more important in the lives of the Mexicans we know.  The economy and trade in Mexico is more closely tied to the dollar than you might imagine.  Real estate is most often priced in US dollars so a drastic change in the exchange rate can seriously devalue a home here.

On a day to day basis we exchange our US dollars into pesos.  I'll be going to the banks this morning to do so.  The good or bad news is that I will receive more pesos for my dollar than I have ever received.  20.42 is a record low for the peso.

Compared to previous years when the Peso was in the 12 to 13 range, today's rate will be 60% higher than what I would consider a normal level.  In the short run that happens to be good for me personally but I worry about what it does to the typical hard working Mexicans we live with every day.

I think it is good for us all to know that our American politics are not just a local matter.  They have real effects on real people all over the world.

This all being said I would hope that as we finish out this political season that we would all remember that we are just a very tiny fraction of the big picture.  I think all we can really do is be kind and caring people in our small corner of this universe.

I say at the end of each post the phrase "Life is Good".  One of my goals this year is to be more generous, kind and giving to others.  I might not be able to change the world but I should be doing something in my small corner of it.

Life is good.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Do Tell About the "No Tell Motel"

So it is time to tell the tale of the "No Tell Motel".  I will do my best to stick to the truth and not embellish my account with my normal Ranger storytelling tendencies.

Our story begins as we were traveling down the toll road toward Mazatlan on our yearly trek to being snowbirds. This is our fourth winter making the trip so we are easily familiar with the routine.  Our normal halfway stopping spot on the 2 day drive is the city of Navojoa which is about 400 miles south of the border.

As we entered town we stopped at the Fiesta Hotel that we had stayed at last year.  Unfortunately the front desk clerk told us they were full for the night.  Upon further inquiry we were told that all hotels would be full because there was a teachers convention in town.

We tried two more hotels and received the same response.  We were out of luck.

We were traveling along with another couple and I told them we had two choices. One plan was to drive another 1 1/2 hours to the next town.  It was getting dark so that was a bad plan.  I told our friends that I had a back-up plan and that they should follow me.

As we drove to the outskirts of town I could see option two in the distance.  The "No Tell Motel".

Have you ever heard of a Mexican "No Tell Motel"?  I had read and heard of such a thing but had no personal experience in this cultural phenomena.  That was about to change.

We made the right hand turn into a hidden driveway inside a walled compound.  Obviously privacy was the main concern of this establishment.  As we drove in we noticed that each hotel room had a private garage.  Some of the garage doors were open and others the garage door was closed.  We choose an open door and drove in.  The door to the room is on the inside of the garage.  I was beginning to understand the privacy issues involved in a "No Tell Motel'.

As we stood in the garage we faced the ultimate challenge, opening the door to see what was inside.  I have to say that my expectations were pretty low.  We laughed a little and then turned the door knob.  We stepped inside and were shocked.  It was one of the nicest hotel room we had been in during our travels around the world this last year.

Unfortunately there were no mirrors on the ceiling.  But there was a very large mirror over the headboard.

Now you may ask for more details?  I'm about to explain my understanding of why a "No Tell Motel" exists.  When a couple wants a private place for a romantic rendezvous the typically small Mexican home full of family and children is not the place to be.  Thus the need for a "rent by the hour" motel.

I am not sure but I have heard that perhaps these rendezvous could involve a girlfriend or another companion. This is only wild speculation on my part.

Back to my account of our actual experience.  Payment for the room is made through a private passage turnstile into which you can place your 300 pesos.  Keeping privacy continues to be the main concern.  So how much is 300 pesos you may ask?  $21.04 US dollars for our night.

The room was spotlessly clean, the linens were all beautifully monogrammed, the bathroom and shower (two person size) were tiled in the nicest and classiest way and the room had a 50" flat screen color TV.  Now I must say that your mother may not approve of several of the TV programs offered but at least they had a few nice music channels.

Classy shower.
The king size bed was comfortable, the air conditioning was quiet and cool.  What more could a tired traveler ask for?  I can say that the room service menu had several offerings that are not available at your typical hotel.

Mr. Adventure - World Traveler
So to wrap up here I can say that I am still uncertain whether we will ever stay at a "No Tell Motel" in our future travels.  All I know is that it was much better than driving in the dark.

The best part of this whole experience is the story I can tell you.  Well worth the $21.04.

Life is good..... from the "No Tell Motel".

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Normal Winter Life in Mazatlan

From the Day of the Dead celebration last night.
We are back to our normal Winter life as we begin our fourth year as snowbirds here in Mazatlan.  New folks are arriving every day and soon there will be 25,000 Americans and Canadians calling our town their home for the Winter.

This means a great life of music, dining with friends, beach walks with Eva and time for me to paint.  We've already done a little of each in our first week home.

Painted-up for the evening out.
We had a good Mexican dinner last night in the Machado before the parade began.  The weather has been warm all week (87,88 or 89) so it was pleasant when it was in the low 80's for the festivities last night.  Brother Dave and SIL Jamie along with friends Marie and Don enjoyed our evening out on the town.  It was a fun Day of the Dead.

Sunset at the beach during music on Thursday.

Enchiladas for dinner one night. 
It's feeling good to be home after a busy Spring and Summer.  I am working on my "Nap" abilities and should have it back in order soon.  I will then work on "Lazy" until I get that down pat.  The only hindrance is we are busy having fun.

When I get brave I will tell the story of our stay at the "NoTell Motel" on our drive down to Mazatlan.  I am working on the story in my mind and can  assure you that it will contain mostly the truth with a few imagined features like the mirrors on the ceiling.  A true Mexican adventure.

Life is good from up on our deck.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On the Road to Mazatlan

"Time to go Mil."  "O.K. Bill."  That was how it went with my parents.  Once my Dad was ready to go he would say those words and my Mom always responded the same way.  They traveled well together.  Dad would drive and Mom would ride.  They were happy when they were traveling.

The other day we were heading down the road toward another state park in New Mexico.  It was going to be a short drive that day.  As we turned onto the country highway something happened.  I became my Dad.  I turned toward Terri and said, "It's time to go Terri."  She said, "O.K. Russ."

Both our minds were made up.  It was time to go to Mexico.

When we got to the next intersection we turned right.  We travel well together, just like my Mom and Dad.

We're here in Tucson getting ready to cross the border on Thursday morning.  We're almost finished with the official paperwork, the final Costco and Target run, the last purchases of art supplies at Michael's and our final chance to eat at Los Nopales (the best Mexican food in the world).

Life is good.

Heading toward home.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

City of Rocks State Park - New Mexico

We're at one of our favorite State Parks in the country.  We were at City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico 3 years ago and we are happy to be back.  It is an amazing place because in the middle of a desert there are a whole city of boulders standing on end.  It looks like aliens came down and stacked rocks in a pattern with streets and paths between the house sized rounded boulders.

In our camping spot among the City of Rocks.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon which is the worst time to arrive at a state park.  We were lucky, spot #2 was the last open space.  Our Karma must be good.

We are now moving West toward Tucson.  As we have moved South the weather has gotten warmer and warmer.  Most days are in the mid 80's but evening drop to just above freezing by early morning.

The Arizona border is less than 100 miles away.  We should be in Arizona in a few days, we are still on a flexible schedule.  Life is good.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Gila Cliff Dwellings

We are staying at the Gila Hot Springs Ranch.  It's about 4 miles from the dwellings, so it was a quick drive this morning.  We were the second people to show-up for the mile hike into the site.  Most of the hike was along a beautiful stream until we needed to gain height up to the dwellings.  When we arrived there were three Rangers waiting.  We talked for a while and then began our Ranger led personal tour.

We spent a couple hours wandering from cave to cave.  These dwellings were less formal than the others we have visited.  The drive into the site keeps many away.  Yesterday it took us nearly 4 hours to cover the 96 miles.  Many of those miles were traveled at 10-15 and 20 miles per hour.  It seemed like 100's of hairpin turns and switch backs.

Here is a photo of what we see from our window where we are camping.

Each evening the ranch lets the horse wander the area.  There is almost no traffic on the road into the dwellings so the horses are safe to walk about the canyon.  Here they are visiting us last night.

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

It was our first time attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  We stayed on the grounds for all nine days with about another 1000 RV'ers.  There would be about 700,000 people attending and 545 balloons flying.  Most days the sight was overwhelming.

The morning glow.
Sunrise and the balloons inflate.
And they are off.  Soon to be followed by 100's more.
Even pigs fly at Fiesta.

Things are heating up.
Loading up and ready  to go.
If the day time activities are great, the night times are even better.  I could not imagine a field full of balloons lit up and showing off their colors in the dark.  Each time the pilot hit the propane burners the balloons would glow.  Beautiful!!!

It was an amazing 9 days.  It was a bucket-list item that we were fortunate to see.

We have been visiting Elephant Butte State Park which is near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  New Mexico has great state parks.  We are going to be staying at four of them as we move West.  Here is a photo of tonight's sunset from the New Mexico desert at Caballo Lake.

Tonight's sunset.

We will be entering the Gila Cliff Dwelling area for the next many days.  We'll be so far out that we expect no communications from up in the mountains.

We will be out of touch from the Presidential campaign.  Lucky us.  Life is good from nowhere.