Sunday, March 30, 2014

Los Barriles - week 4, March 22 -30

A yummy wrap with mango sauce

Seriously?! I cannot even believe we have already been here for four weeks and in Mexico for almost two months, wow! This has been a very busy week, indeed...we started off last Saturday with a trip into San Jose del Cabo to visit the Mercado Organico - it was fabulous. Not only did they have a fantastic assortment of beautiful, organic fruits and vegetables, but wonderful artisan wares and food that we could eat! I scored a cool bracelet out of some recycled leather and a yummy salsa, in addition to many bags of vegies.
COSTCO bathroom sign:
First time in 2 months we've been told to do this!!

We drove into Cabo for a Costco run and Bill wanted to get a drink on the beach and see the action. We found free valet parking at The Office so that's where we went. We started off with their special house margaritas - and I must say, they were the best I've ever had. We ordered a meal to share and then Bill spied our favorite tequila in their liquor cabinet - this was our first sighting of the Clas Azul that we found in Palm Desert several years ago and love.

if you look to the back all that light blue is the ocean and the tables are on the sand

When we ordered the Clas Azul shots (on the left, below) - it was brought out with the Sangrita (2nd from left) - this is called a Mexican margarita, which we learned about from our Austin hasher friend Smeg - truly delicious, and they make their own Sangrita here.

Bill's own special place!

Love these ladies...actually I love all of the color in Mexico, one of my favorite things!

And of course, that was just Saturday! Sunday we had plans to drive to Pescadero - no more trying to do this shit in just one day. I had purchased a pair of yoga pants at an event here in Los Barriles that needed exchanging, and the girl who sells them is in Pescadero, and has a booth at the Sunday farmers market at Baja Beans. I have been wanting to go to Baja Beans since my friend, Pat moved here and wrote about it - and boy is Sunday the happening day here! Quite a few of the merchants from the San Jose mercado were here plus a bunch more - not as much fruit and vegies, but definitely adequate. The sky was breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see from this pic. Pat showed us around and introduced us to a lot of her friends - it was really lovely and the coffee was excellent!

We then went to the Hortaliza Hierbabuena for lunch. Just around the corner from Baja Beans, this is an amazing organic restaurant in the back of a huge garden, which is used to prepare your meal. There is some meat served here, but there were vegan options, or you can just request to have something made up for you. We met more of Pat's friends here, including Dave & Janet, from Portland, who are building a house close by, and Burt and Susan, of the Gypsy Carpenter's, who we've heard a lot about. The food was spectacular, although the Chard Enchilada sin queso came out with pollo sin queso that I didn't even realize until Bill ate the 2nd half!

Bill must have made another witty comment!
And look at this table, beautiful iron work underneath and the top is fabulous!

And this was all just on Sunday!! Monday we invited our friend, Jim, from San Rafael, over for dinner. Bill made his grilled poblanos stuffed with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and some fabulous roasted vegies in a chipotle enchilada sauce - can I just say MOUTHGASM?!!! We had fun sitting out on the tiki bar and it brought back fond memories for Jim who stayed here long, long ago. He has owned his house in Los Barriles for twenty years and goes back and forth frequently. He is an avid kite-boarder and is super fun to hang out with!
Bill's first selfie!

Jim's casa with a beautiful view of the Sea of Cortez

Tuesday night the three of us went to the movie night at the East Cape RV park - it's a monthly fundraiser to support the East Cape Recycling Center, here in the cape. This is definitely something I am going to get involved with. We saw the Dallas Buyers Club under the stars - excellent movie. Wednesday night we hit up open-mic night again at the Roadrunner cafe, with Jim in tow - and ended up at Vagos bar, playing pool again. Thursday Jim left and we chilled... Bill snapped these pics of Jim and his house before he left. I am happily to report that I was at yoga - I FINALLY found the beautiful Sukhasana studio at the Healing Winds Holistic Center and am happy as a clam! I actually went three times this week, once to the last Kundalini yoga class of the season - this was super special.

Friday Bill, ONCE AGAIN, outdid himself and made these vegan jalapeño poppers, stuffed with - you guessed it - roasted garlic mashed potatoes - for the weekly Bocce Ball tourney and they were gone in an instant!

Saturday found us at the last city market day in Los Barriles - not really a farmer's market, not really much of anything but I wanted Bill to see it - we did finally get to the Raw Goddess cafe and had a super yummy breakfast.

And after all of that we wandered over to an open house....maybe a very big mistake, but we'll keep you posted!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

traveling thoughts...

I am so very well suited to this lifestyle that we lead. It's actually been quite a surprise to me. We originally started on this venture because Bill was ready to retire, but still had 2 more years left to work before he could get social security. This was a way to change things up a bit - and because the work we do is all on the computer, it was an easy transition. Everyone we meet on the road does things a bit differently. Some love boondocking all of the time, with nothing but nature around you and not a soul in sight. Some love being in the middle of cities and being able to hit all the hot spots while stealth street camping. We love to be in small towns where we can ride our bikes around and get to know the place and the people quickly. We do love to boondock, but the fact that we are sorely lacking in solar power makes this a limited venture and a bit painful because we have to run our generator, which I really hate doing. I don't mind being in a campground at all - I like to have some space to spread out and I appreciate considerate neighbors, but I really like waking up in the morning and hearing the campground buzz and come to life. I like to look out and see what our neighbors are up to; and I really like the amenities a campground can provide.  We looked upon this venture as a place to find that one destination we'd like to "settle down" in - plant some roots, and more importantly, a garden. But every time I think I've found that spot I think about all of the other places I enjoy traveling to; how nice it is to move around with the seasons, to see friends we've met or re-kindled a friendship with, all over the country.

I think I have been conditioned to believe that we must have a particular "place" to call home, to own property; just like I was taught that your life included marriage and a family. I never thought the latter was for me, but around 25 years old that's all I could think about, and eventually married a man that I thought would "fit" into my family and live the life with me that my parents had. Boy oh boy, did I get just that!! Silly me, I really had no desire to "fit" anywhere and if there was anything I didn't want, it was the life my parents had, especially their type of relationship. It took twenty years of living in misery and a whole lot of therapy to get where I am today. To try and be the me that I want to be and live the life that feels good and right to me. My parents are thrilled to see me so happy, but they don't really understand what we're doing. And you know what? I am ok with that.

With that said, we are off to go to an open house down the street and we're seriously looking at the Pescadero area as well - who knows what we'll do or where we'll end up, what I do know is that we'll have fun getting there, that's for sure!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Los Barriles...week 3

How the time does fly....this was a big week, starting with my daughter's sentencing. We had been waiting for this day since last July and there have been enough trial dates and meetings between the DA and Lauryn's attorney to know what was going to happen, but actually knowing that she was going to jail on that day made it as real as it can get. I spoke to her on the phone before she went to court and she sounded very strong and ready to accept her punishment. She still had to plead guilty to many felony counts and have that on her record, but with the six+ months she's been in rehab and the time she served last July the judge sentenced her to serve half of her remaining sentence of three months in the county jail, as opposed to a year or more in prison. There is a chance that this sentence could also be shortened, but we won't know that until May. I am hoping she will have access to AA meetings and keep herself strong with her reading and meditation, but I know it will be a challenge. She was able to sign up for "school" and attends a drug abuse class from 8-11, Monday through Friday. For every 15 hours she is in school she can earn a day off of her sentence. Her dad has been by her side throughout all of this and continues to call, visit and show up in every possible way. I think this support over the last 6 months has helped her "recover" more than anything else. We are all just praying she can maintain where she is at with her rehab, and continue to mature and grow. Part of the reason I chose to be in Baja during this time was so that I could remove myself somewhat from the situation. Lauryn and I are extremely close and although it is killing me to not be in touch with her by phone right now, I think it's best for her growth and my sanity. I have tried for weeks now to figure out a way to get her collect calls from jail, but the internet is just too slow down here to make anything work. My ex bought me an ATT "Go" phone that my friend, Laurie, is going to bring down here the first week in April and I am hoping that I can forward the google voice call to that phone and the cell service on the phone will work better than just through the internet, but that all remains to be seen. I have sent letters to her through emails to my mom and whenever someone leaves Baja for the US I send mail with them too. I was also able to send her stuff through But a huge part of my day has been involved with this.

We started the day with a green rum smoothie!

In the meantime it was also St. Patrick's Day and who knew, but down here in Los Barriles it's kind of a big deal! The little bar down the block from us - Smokeys, had two bands starting mid-afternoon and going all night. They set up a flat-bed truck in the street (taking up one of the two lanes) and  by the time the sun went down there was dancing in the street and anywhere there was room.

Before it got all crazy....the next time you see Bill he may be wearing a big-ass cowboy hat like the dude in the band!
And the best thing that happened that night was that we met Jim! Yes, another Jim, this one hails from San Rafael. He sat next to us at the bar and we've been enjoying each other's company ever since. Sadly, he leaves on Thursday but he's owned a house here for 20 years, is retired and flies back and forth all winter, so we're sure to see him again.

Wednesday was open-mic night at the Roadrunner Cafe and we finally made it over there. A lot of the guys who played in the bands on St. Patty's day showed up, with a scattering of others - it was a fun night, made especially so when we headed over to the Vagos Bar, after the music, for some pool-playing and dancing. Bill has been fixing up the pool cues that were in poor shape, bringing a couple home at a time, replacing the tips, sanding them down and fixing whatever else was needed. The owner keeps asking what he can do for Bill - we've been invited for lunch, now...we'll see if there is anything we can eat.

At the end of the week Bill and I finally broke down and got ourselves a $35, hour long massage and boy was it worth every penny, and then some. I think next week we'll try some of the other spas in town just to see who we like best! And then the week ended with another campground Bocce Ball tournament...we're having fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Los Barriles - 2nd week

Well Señor Montezuma finally caught up with was at that lovely spot on our last blog post where we had some great fish tacos at a little roadside stand. I looked at the lettuce before I put it on the taco and said, "hmmm...wonder if I should be doing this..." the answer was NO, you should not! The next day we had plans to rent atv's with new friends, Jim and Julie - half way into it, I was not feeling so good and had Bill drop me off at our campground. I ended up getting the chills and feeling really awful, by the time Bill got home a few hours later, he wasn't feeling so good either. Here are a few pics from the day
Jim and Julie

This is the aquifer where all the water for Los Barriles comes from.

Girls were taking a turn at the wheel

So we were "down for the count" for a few days - I recovered a bit quicker than Bill and I actually got quite a bit of work done that week. Friday we decided to join the campground Bocce Ball game - everyone brings appetizers and hangs out for about an hour before we pick sides by choosing from a deck of cards - reds on one team, blacks on the other, there must have been at least 20-30 of us. They have amassed quite a few bocce balls and the only rule is that you must hold your drink while playing! We had a great time and met lots of people.

On Saturday we made the trek down to San Jose del Cabo to check out the only rv supply store in Baja Sur, maybe in all of Baja, I don't know. We were hoping to see if they had either some rv batteries or a water pump. We've been having problems with both, but they had nothing there. At this point I think we're just going to wait until we get back to the states and go to Yuma where we originally bought the batteries and get a credit. And who knows what is going on with our water pump... We stopped at a cute place in Cabo for lunch that was similar to a Chipotle, but once you picked out everything you wanted they grilled it all up fresh for you - it was super yummy! Then we traveled all the way around the cape and up to Pescadero and Todos Santos. We found Pat's rv park and surprised her with a quick visit on our way to the health food store in Todos Santos.

and look what we stumbled upon in Todos Santos!

It was a long day of driving all the way around the cape but I'm so glad we got over to see Pat. We did decide to stay put in Los Barriles until our friends, Daniel and Laurie, get here at the beginning of April.

We made plans with Jim and Julie to go to the Bayview Restaurant at the Las Palmas de Cortez Hotel the night before they were leaving. We had eaten lunch there the week before and loved it and they hadn't seen the beautiful hotel. We met for drinks first at the tiki bar at our campground and watched the whales playing in the surf and the rays jumping. We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends, but know we will see them on the road again, somewhere!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Los Barriles

I think we were both prepared to not like it here, from what everyone had been telling us on the way down, but we came down to get our deposit back and stay two days to see what's what. Then we stayed another two days and I'll go in this morning and extend to a week. First off, the weather is glorious, we have a little bit of wind, but nothing that bad, and the campground is great and full of friendly people. We've met two from South Lake Tahoe and a fellow burner as well. And as luck would have it we also got to meet fellow full-timers and blog readers, Jim and Julie, from an Imperfect Destiny. Jim contacted me through my blog and we met up for beers the other night at the beautiful casa they are renting here. They left their "home" at his mother's house as he wasn't sure about driving it down here. I think he has been following our blog with real interest about our "drive." They are spending two and a half months traveling around Baja and are at the end of their journey and will head home in a week or so. We are planning to get together again today to rent some atvs and go check out the aquifer that our neighbor told us about.

Yesterday we went to the hot springs just past the town of Santiago - a really cute Mexican village. It was a half hour drive on the highway to the town and then another half hour drive to go eight miles in on washboard dirt roads; but it was absolutely beautiful. Because of all of the water in the area it was lush with green trees, bushes and lots of cacti starting to bloom.
The Entrance to Santiago

Santiago Town Square
Some funky art on the way to the hot springs

Beautiful Cordon Cactus in Bloom
As we were getting ready to leave for the hot springs yesterday, Dave approached us and asked if we were actually from Shingle Springs (where we purchased our Subie), and we told him that we were full-timers now but we used to live in Tahoe...and so it goes. He left Tahoe and moved to Hood River, where he lives about seven months of the year, four months here in the campground, and about another month traveling. Sounds like a plan I'd like to follow!! He asked about our interests, and told us about the Friday hiking club here. He also gave us some valuable information about the hot springs, most importantly, that there are quite a few of them. He also told us about hiking up to the aquifer that we're going to check out today.

We finally made it to the hot springs, which really weren't that hot, but they were a wonderful temperature, with water leaking out of the veins in the rock everywhere. We were told that if we kept hiking through some very large boulders about half an hour away was another pool and a waterfall. We must come back when we're suitably attired. In the meantime we set up our chairs, snacks and books, and had a lazy couple of hours. The water was swarming with little fish, and when you were in the water they came up and nibbled on you everywhere, tons of them - it was quite a feeling, very ticklish! We were the first ones there that day and it seems that everyone that arrived after us, had never been there before either, so it was fun to watch them freak out when the fish started attacking!  
I'm sitting on the bottom here - at it's deepest it was about 4 feet.

There are two towers for the internet here, but they only work if you are right by them. One is at the office, which is pretty far from us, and one is at the hotel, close to the beach and pretty close to us. The hotel tower was down for a few days when we arrived, but now we get a little bit from that. Bill put our big antenna up today and with my phone in the booster, attached to the antenna, we're getting a little bit more, but not much. To send an email I have to click on send about four times and writing this blog is becoming very, very frustrating. But, with that said, we just paid up through Saturday. I had hoped we could stay another week, but I just can't make it with the internet, and I have a March 15th tax deadline coming up. So the plan, today, is to drive over to Pescadero on Saturday and go look at the two rv parks, one there and one in Todos Santos. Hopefully at that point we can stay put for a month or so!

In addition to the people friends we've made, Bill, as usual, has been adopted by our neighbor's dog, Rider. He's a cutie and waits for Bill at the doorstep in the morning - he seems to know exactly when Bill is up and moving around!

Our neighbors have a nice set up with two fishing rod holders in each of their kayaks.
We stopped at a little roadside stand for beers and super spicy tomatilla salsa!
And indulged in some fish tacos, a la plancha (grilled)!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cuidad Constitution to La Paz

from Bill...

After scoring our Burning Man tickets on Wednesday, we headed out the next morning for our trip around the cape with stops in La Paz and Los Barriles. Cuidad Constitucion was a midway point on our trip to La Paz, and we decided to stop there to keep the driving tolerable. The road out of the beach along the Bahia de Concepcion was a bit curvy and hilly, but the views were awesome. After getting through the hills and passing through Loreto, the road straightened out and it was easy cruising into CC. We stayed at a little campground on the south side of town run by an Englishman and his Mexican wife. They have a couple of kids, and the youngest one wasted no time inviting himself to come in and inspect our rig. He was climbing on top of the bed when Debby had to put her foot down and end the tour.

While setting up the leveling blocks, I noticed that one of the tires appeared to be a bit low, so I checked the pressure and sure enough it was about 5 psi below the others. I chatted with Mike, the owner of the park, about where to go to get it filled and he pointed me to a Llantero (tire) shop that he uses that can handle large rigs. It was only about a mile away, so I took the car and scouted the route before taking Bebe in. It worked out perfectly with a little broken Spanish, and the help of our dry erase notepad outside the front door to tell them what pressure I wanted. Fortunately, they understood English measures (psi) versus metric and in a few minutes we were on our way to La Paz.

From our Baja rving bible "Camping Mexico's Baja" there was only one rv park in La Paz, on the outskirts of town and some free camping on the beach south of La Paz. Debby noticed that there were updates to the book online and when she went to check that they had posted that an rv park that had closed down a few years ago was open again and right in town on the beach - lucky for us they had a few sites open.

All went well getting into town until we were approaching the entrance to the park. You have to go down a short stretch of dirt road to get to the entrance, which is not really visible until you’re right there. I was focused on the road and looking for the entrance, and didn't notice a low-hanging phone line that crossed the road. I still had my CB antenna attached, which made the RV about a foot higher than without it, and sure enough, the antenna caught the wire and pulled in down, making a bit of a racket, along with the neighbors who were waving their hands and yelling. I got out of the RV, pulled out the ladder, untangled the wire from the top of the RV, apologized to the neighbors and moved on to the park, feeling pretty badly about the whole thing. Once at the park, I told Roger, the manager, what had happened, and he said he’d go talk with the neighbors and take care of things. The next day, Telmex came out and fixed the wire, wrapping it over a higher one to increase the clearance. For my part, I took down the CB antenna, since we weren't using it any more.
This was on our way out, after they hung the wire back up.
After we got settled in (with some difficulty, as the park is very tight and a challenge for bigger rigs) Debby and I went across the dirt road to a small palapa restaurant that Roger recommended and got a couple of margaritas, which came with chips and salsa of course. The drinks were excellent; made with fresh squeezed lime juice and blended with a little ice. A float of Cointreau would have been perfect. Our dinner there was awesome, although not exactly vegan, and we went home stuffed and happy. When we got back to the RV, we discovered that a van had parked next to us and three young Australian men (more like boys in their behavior) had pitched tents on their site. They were very nice folks, played some enjoyable music, and bantered about quite a bit in their Aussie accents. We got to meet them and discovered they were from the Sydney area, had been to Burning Man the year before and were traveling to Peru with the goal of having fun and surfing until their money ran out. They left to go downtown for Carnavale about 11-ish so we had no problem getting to sleep. Unfortunately, Debby and I both woke up around 2:30 for no apparent reason and both had a hard time getting back to sleep. Just before 5:00 am, as we were finally drifting off, one of the “boys” came home rip-roaring drunk and proceeded to sing and howl and carry on for about an hour--that about did it for our sleep that night.

The next morning we debated whether to leave or move, as we knew we couldn’t handle another night like that. Several people had checked out that morning and I found a nice site a little farther away from the boys that seemed to be okay, so I talked to Roger about it and got his okay to move. His mother-in-law, the owner, mentioned that she, too, had been awakened by them that morning, so while Debby and I were doing our morning computing and thinking about packing for the move, Roger talked to the boys, who subsequently apologized to us through the window in a way that was both sincere and funny. We decided to give them another chance, as we would rather not have to move.
Sean, Sammy and Danny
During the day we got to know each other better and reconfirmed that age is just a number and that we had a lot in common. That night, after I pulled out the laser pointer and taught them a few things about the stars, they asked to see the RV, so we invited them in and partied a bit until it was time for them to head out for Carnavale again. I think Debby and I would have joined them, but we were just too tired. They promised to be quiet when they got home, and had I not already been awake at 5:00 am, I don’t think I’d have heard them. Thanks guys!

We spent a few hours on the beach just outside of our rv park and watched a group of local school kids having pictures taken for Carnavale - it was cute to observe that kids are the same, everywhere.

La Paz, being a city of 250,000, has lots of amenities, including a Walmart. I was hoping they would have 6-volt batteries to replace our dying house batteries, but alas they did not. Tried the Auto Zone next door, where only Spanish is spoken, but nada. We’re hoping for better luck at the RV store in San Jose del Cabo when we get there. We took a drive down the La Paz Malecón to see if we’d want to come back for Carnavale that night or maybe just go for a walk in the afternoon. The traffic was awful and it just looked like a street full of vendors selling stuff we didn’t want, so we opted out. But we heard at night that it was music and fun for hours.  

On Sunday, we bid farewell to our new Aussie friends, with whom we shared recipes, beers, etc., (I especially liked the etc.) and headed out to Los Barriles. Unfortunately, on the way out the gate, I was a little too concerned with the big drop off in front of me at the end of the driveway, and not paying enough attention to the back of the rig, and I scrapped the gate on the way out. Damn. That was our first ding in four years. It put a bit of a damper on the drive, but the fact that it was Sunday, meant no trucks on the road, which was really nice on the section of road going into Los Barriles that is very steep, narrow, and curvy through the Sierra de Laguna mountains. We found our way to the Martin Verduga Beach Resort with no problem and got set up in a great spot. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

From Los Barriles to Todos Santos or Pescadero??

La Paz blog coming soon but right now, I'm very torn...originally we were supposed to spend a month here in Los Barriles and a month in the Todos Santos/Pescadero area. Nope, scratch that - ORIGINALLY we were going to spend two months in Todos Santos or El Pescadero. Then I remembered all the rave reviews from our Tahoe neighbors about Los Barriles, when we were having our many garage sales, before we moved into our rv. So then we thought we'd spend a month in each area. THEN, people we've met down here started warning us about the wind and we got a little concerned because I am not a fan - it totally wreaks havoc with my allergies. We really aren't wind-surfers or kite-boarders and that's kind of what this whole area is about, but the allure of a small, old time Mexican town was strong. I found an awesome rv park that boasted 50 amp hook-ups (almost unheard of in Baja), a heated pool and jacuzzi, and fabulous reviews. I contacted them immediately and booked a month, and gave them a deposit of $100 to secure my spot, which was the last one they had. A week ago I received an email from the woman I had been dealing with at the rv park and she informed me that space was no longer available as one of the current tenants didn't want to leave, but if I wanted to come to Los Barriles and pick up my $100, she would be happy to return it! Well, I wasn't too upset about this because I had already been having second thoughts and there were a few other rv parks there that had pretty good reviews - one in particular was recommended to us over beers at Jungla Jims in Mulegé. So after some fun in La Paz, we came to Los Barriles and found a great spot at Martín Verdugo's Beach Resort, right on the beach. It was almost half the price as East Cape and had a really funky ambiance that we preferred. We paid for two days and we're definitely staying at least another day or two. We have a beer date with a blog reader that we're really looking forward to and we're going to try to find the hot springs that are nearby. We also found a small natural foods grocery here - The Blue Wave, and they're getting a big shipment today so we want to be around for that!

Cows, goats and horses mill about town - there are "grates" and cow-paddies everywhere.
Here is a calf nursing!

All kinds of toys ridden around town here.

At the beautiful Palmas de Cortez Hotel

So the dilemma now is where to go from here. We have two good choices, and I just can't decide. Pescadero is where my friend Pat lives. There is a little rv park that is very inexpensive, but the site is small and only has 15 amps electricity. Pescadero has a lot of charm, yoga and a great community vibe. I think it might have better beach access, but I don't know this for sure. Todos Santos has been described to me as an artsy town, much like Carmel. Well, I love artsy towns, but not too fond of the "vibe" of Carmel, if you know what I mean. But this rv park sounds really awesome - it has 30 amp hook-ups (which means we can use at least one air conditioner), a pool, a site that just may include a palapa, outdoor kitchen and bathroom. It's a small park that is comprised of mostly permanent, individually owned sites. I believe they may have a hotel and restaurant there, as well, and it is walking distance to town. Todos Santos also has yoga, a vegetarian restaurant and health food store, along with a myriad of other stores and galleries. So I'm torn. I do not have a deposit down at either place but have spoken extensively to both owners over the last few months, more so to the Todos Santos owner, though, who originally promised me the site, then wrote and told me it wasn't available unless I could arrive later. So it's now later and I'm trying to decide what to do...stay posted, or share your thoughts!