Baja!

Baja!
Baja!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Building at warp speed

This is all pretty darn exciting, and being here beats Bill Face-timing me with video to see what progress was being made - although that was pretty awesome, considering he was down here in Mexico and I was in the states! Every day we are at the lot, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day and there are ALWAYS questions for us and decisions for us to make....again, mostly in a foreign language!!

East side of the Casita - "the front"

The roof!

West side of the Casita - "the back"

Most of January the casita roof was drying with supports inside holding it all up. The electrical was being done in the casita and the palapa, but the majority of work was happening in the palapa. We had to finalize where we wanted all of the appliances and counters. I was super nervous about the measurements for the appliances which we had purchased back in November, as once the concrete is poured it's quite a mess to change things. Mexico has adopted the U.S. Black Friday sales to bolster their economy and luckily we found out about it in the nick of time. Bill frequents a little shop in town called Fayla's - he's quite friendly with the owner Estolfo and stops in for a sample of his latest tequila every now and then and to chat it up a bit. I guess Bill was telling him about the house and he told us that the very next day the big, once a year, sales weekend was starting all over Mexico - it's called "El Buen Fin." I told our friends Cathy and Mike about it, since they are also building, and the four of us took a drive into Cabo to hit up Home Depot and see what was what. Boy did we get lucky! We saved a ton of money and bought our refrigerator and stove at Home Depot. At Costco we bought a washing machine and a couple of rocker/recliners for our office area. The Home Depot delivery fee was $95 but we found out we could split it with our friends since they would be delivering to our storage units which were right next to each other. Cathy and Mike had secured a storage unit in town to have a place to store things they were buying for the house. We followed suit and it's been great having a place to put things when we find a good deal. We've been frequenting the consignment stores in Cabo as well, and purchased a fun couch and coffee table for the palapa area.

I was a little concerned that our Home Depot stuff would actually make it to us in Los Barriles. Delivery was supposed to take place in about 10 days but 3 days later I received a call that the truck was on it's way and should be there around 3:30. I had an appointment but let everyone know and Cathy, Mike and Bill headed up to the storage unit to await the delivery. After about 2 hours of waiting and no truck, I called again and found out they were indeed on their way. One of the little problems, though, was that this storage unit, like many things in Mexico, was difficult to find. I told them it was across the street from the Pemex station (gas station) on the left, and after the 2nd tope (speed bump) you turn right, just before the Baja Cactus taco stand...go down a little alley and we would meet them there. Again, this is in broken English and Spanish. The gang went up to wait at the restaurant to get refreshments and waited, and waited, and waited. At dusk they finally went home. Once it was pitch black around 6:45 I got a call in Spanish that the truck was in town, at the bank, and they couldn't find the storage unit. Cathy and Bill zoomed up to meet them on the quad - at the bank and directed them to the storage unit, and guess what? All our stuff was on the truck, woo hoo!!

A field trip was scheduled with Pilar (our builder) and Leo, the artisan who was heading up all the work in the palapa, to go up to the storage unit and take some good measurements. Phew - that was a relief for me as I didn't want to be the one responsible for screwing that up!

Sink is on the right and there will be a cabinet under the counter on the left

The open area is where the washing machine will go - YES, in the kitchen!

Space on the right is for the oven/stove

The masters Leo & Martine!

We were originally told the house would be built in 3 months - neither of us believed this, 
but these guys are working 6 days a week and it just may happen!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Building on the fly....

When one normally builds a home there is an architect involved and plans are drawn up and worked and reworked, but we are anything but normal! We were looking to build a tiny house for the least amount of money possible so this does entail a bit more creativity, so to speak. Pilar took my pencil drawings to an engineer in La Paz, the capital of Baja Sur, and we got a set of engineer's drawings with which to obtain a permit, also done in La Paz. This can also be done in Los Barriles, but it’s cheaper to go right to the source. Pilar requested permits for the casita, the palapa and the wall that will go around the house on the street sides. Wayne recommended we go with Benjamin to build our palapa, he is the brother of Cheppie, one of the primo palapa builders in town. He made us a great deal with the Polynesian weave that is wrapped – Bill’s choice! Before the permits were received they started working on the rebar, which forms the foundation of the casita and Benjamin started bringing supplies over for the palapa.

Rebar for the foundation

Laying the foundation - everything dug by hand

Wayne and Bill with the palapa support poles



It was about this time that I left for 3 weeks to go to L.A. to await the arrival of my first grandchild. Bill was left in charge and because we had no real formal plans there were many decisions to be made on a daily basis. Where the electrical outlets would be, the actual design of the bathroom, the closet, if we wanted 1 or 2 tv’s and 1 or 2 split a/c units. We enlarged the bathroom window and added another window to the front of the house for air flow. And because of the language barrier there were many times when he wasn’t quite sure that everyone really understood each other, which is kind of important when building a house.

Building a cement roof in Mexico takes on the same significance as a barn raising, I guess, and Wayne let Bill know that the next day he should come with a cooler of beer (soda and snacks for the crew) and a chair to experience it. Unfortunately by the time Bill got organized and got over there the roof had been poured! This crew we have is amazing! They are there early, they stay late, and they work weekends! Several people mentioned to me that although everything looked like it was moving fast I should prepare myself for the 2-4 weeks of holiday time that all Mexican’s take in December. Well, not our crew, they were working December 24th until it was dark! They did take that weekend off, but were right back to work on the following Monday.

The palapa was complete before I came home and from the pics I thought it looked great, although a bit smaller than I expected. Bill wasn’t thrilled with the workmanship – but everyone who has seen it likes it. The stain on the support poles is a little darker than we thought it would be, but it looks really good.



Already providing some nice shade for one of the worker's cars.



By the time I got home on December 23rd the roof had been poured and the palapa was done!

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's been awhile........

I’m baaaack! Summer did NOT go as planned, but we did spend it in Tahoe. And thanks to our good friend Daniel, we had a roof over our heads in quite a nice little spot. The workamping gig did not pan out as they could not give us our regular days to work…we just weren’t up for working weekend nights. But we did get to spend some time with my son and his cute dog, Piper, and with our friends, hashing, making music and getting to some concerts too. We went to Florida in August for Bill’s mom, Doano’s 90th. His daughter, Madeleine, came in from London, and his son Will made the trek up from Key West. All three of Doano’s sons were there and a few cousins joined in the festivities. A super chill afternoon was just what the matriarch wanted and what she got!
The "brothers" in order of birth, Kurt, Bill and Scott 

Quite the family!

The birthday girl!

The first week in October found us back in Los Barriles. We were happy to be home again as we were gypsies for about 5 weeks – luckily we have great friends who hosted us along our way. October was pretty darn hot down here but the water temps were fabulous and I spent a lot of time in it. Bill got an early start on his garden and anxiously awaited the return of his volleyball buddies. I started playing a little pickleball, which is a super fun game, kind of like tennis, played on a smaller court, with paddles and a whiffle ball. Our new yoga teacher, Tehroma, had been teaching all summer so I was happy to get back to the beautiful Healing Winds Studio and onto my mat, which I had neglected for far too long.

Last spring while out on the water paddling with friends, June and Don, of Baja SUP, Don mentioned that Gustavo, owner of his “RV park,” was going to expand on some land he owned a block in from the sea. I loved the little Buenos Aires Park where Don lived and was most interested. RV parks are very popular down here – and not only for the RVers, which there are many. I have written about them before, but for the uninitiated, many of them have little casitas and palapas built onto them with outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas. The owners have to maintain a certain percentage of the park for RVs in order to get a preferred tax status. In our little town alone there are about 7 that I know of – Martin Verdugo’s (where we spent our first couple of months), Costa Brava (the original place we were looking to buy in spring 2014), East Cape RV (the place that took our deposit money and at the last minute reneged on a spot for us), Juanita’s Garden, Playa Norte, Buenos Aires and the newest one, Baja Sunrise. There are a lot of advantages to RV park living, and disadvantages, as well. The biggest disadvantage is the lack of privacy. In most of these parks you are living right on top of each other and because most have an outdoor living area this can be quite an issue….especially if you are us, we like to play our music loudly and have been known to run around in less than “proper” attire. The advantages are that there is a greater sense of security – there is always someone around and, especially in the summer months, with hurricanes it can be really nice knowing someone is there looking out for your place. Also, one doesn’t have to deal with all of the ownership laws and the FideiComiso issues. It’s a bit like a condo arrangement, where you pay a monthly fee and your water and trash is included. Usually there are community bathrooms, showers and a laundry room. And you have community – this is big for me, not so much for Bill, who is more social and finds that everywhere. I have admired the Buenos Aires RV park because I LOVE the location – just about a mile out of town and all of the noise, it’s an easy walk to the beach, it’s small and the sites seem a bit more private than the other parks. I’ve also heard really great things about the owner, Gustavo. After our paddle Don took me over and showed me the area where Gustavo was going to build.  
Once we were settled back into Casita Namaste, in October, I emailed Don and asked if Gustavo had made any progress on his new rv park and he said that I should come over and look as he had started subdividing the lots. He had 4 lots that were 60’x45’ and one corner lot which they thought was 60’x50’ and all 5 would rent for $400/month. I was very interested in the corner lot and came to find out that so were 2 people over at the old park. We quickly signed a lease to begin January 1st and the lot was officially measured at 60’x58’!! Now what do we do?! I had never built a house, Bill had, many years ago, but we were not familiar with Mexican building, nor were we very fluent in the language.

Gustavo mentioned that his friend, Pilar Flores, who had built the bathrooms and laundry room for his other rv park, and was the main electrician in town, was also building homes and he thought we should speak to him. Around this same time our friends Mike and Cathy were in the middle of getting plans approved for their new casa they were building in town. Mike has built many homes and loves the planning and designing process and encouraged us to use some of his designs to work from. I am old and wise enough to know what I don’t know, and follow the old adage of not reinventing the wheel, so I was totally hip to using whatever anyone was throwing my way – be that plans, or contractors or whatever. And that’s just what happened – people here, Mexican and gringo, have been incredibly kind, helping us with everything. The last 6 weeks have been exciting, to say the least, and I will bring you up to date with our very untraditional build next.

From pencil sketch to chalk...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Howdy!

Well it certainly has been a very long time since I've posted anything! But we've been on a merry-go-round down here in the baja and I'm finally having some much needed chill time to get a bunch of things taken care of that have been on my "to do" list for far too long. About half of our town has cleared out to go back home, most of the people down here are snowbirds, arriving in December and leaving in April. May just happens to have the best weather down here and I am thrilled that we're able to stay and experience it. Highs are in the low 80's and the lows are in the low 70's - perfecto! We've also had a lot less wind making for some awesome paddle days on the sea. Our days are filled with cooking, exercising, gardening and chilling...and the evenings seem to be filled with goodbye dinners and get-togethers with friends who are staying. Of course, there's a bit of hanging out at the tiki bar, steps from our house, as well...

During Semana Santa - the week before Easter, all of the Mexicans flood to the beach where they camp out, up and down the Baja - even in Los Barriles people came out to set up camp. Bill really wanted to share in their experience and when our friend Darlene mentioned she was interested too we decided, on the spot, to go get our camping stuff and set up camp, right on our beach in front of our house and the tiki bar...kind of like kids camping in their backyard! I had found a pic of a great firepit online the week before and Bill decided he needed to make one and started digging. Fortunately a younger Mexican guy came and asked what he was doing, Bill showed him the pic and he asked if he could help! During the day we had a couple of others come out and help and it ended up being pretty epic! We didn't sleep in the tent but all of our waking hours for 3-4 days were spent right there on the beach. Our neighbors to the right of us made us a fabulous breakfast one morning and it was just an amazing experience!!
Lalo - who was from San Jose del Cabo, created the beautiful driftwood fire sculpture in the middle!

photo thanks to Darlene!

We've participated in a bunch of fundraisers down here...the gringos spend a lot of time and energy raising funds for the local Mexicans. From paying for scholarships for the kids to go to jr and sr high school to repairing their dorms, giving quad rides to the kids from the orphanages and just a slew of activities. Twice a year is the Baja Hahaha golf tournament - held in the arroyo, in the sand...on your quad - instead of a golf cart, what fun!

photo thanks to Peace Blossom
It's been 6 1/2 months since we arrived, back in October, and we've fallen even more in love with Los Barriles. Our little casita suits us so well, that we've committed to rent it for the next year and will be able to leave some of our stuff here when we escape the summer heat for a couple of months. Figuring out what to leave and what to take will be difficult, but being back in the U.S.A. it will be easy to pick up anything we really need.

Last month we started a Spanish class twice a week with 10 others. The class was taught by an English speaking woman and a Mexican woman, who works in the town library and does not speak English. They have been teaching this class together for 13 years. It is really wonderful to be able to hear the local Mexican dialect and slang. The class was taught in a completely different manner than any other language class I have taken. The method is known as teaching the 6 Power Verbs. It's really fantastic and we've progressed rather quickly to the speaking stage. It's a very different way to learn a language. Instead of trying to translate what you want to say, you figure out what you know in Spanish and how to use those words to express what you want to say...it's a subtle difference but it really works. Our class ended last week but Bill and I are meeting with the teacher weekly for lunch and Spanish conversation to try and keep our skills up. Hope we don't lose too much when we leave.

Figuring out when to leave has been in a constant state of flux. We originally figured that our 6 month visa starting mid-October would cause us to have to leave by mid-April, but after being here awhile we noticed that people fly to the US, mid-winter to renew their visas, setting a new 6 month clock. Bill flew out to see his mom in Florida in January, so he doesn't have to be back in the states until the end of July and I flew to California to celebrate my dad's birthday the end of February, so I don't have to come back until the end of August. This gives us so much more flexibility that we decided to stay down here as long as we could handle the weather - thinking mid July. But then I heard that the Tahoe campground where we've workamped the last few years was expecting us back in a couple of weeks! Whaaaaaaaat?! Seems the manager is not quite as on top of things as he'd expected to be and is terribly short-handed, so since we were planning to visit Tahoe anyway, we thought we'd go up and help them out. We're paying rent down here at the casita during the summer, so our minimum wage job, a couple of days a week, will help out with some of our summer expenses in the U.S. Then there is the fact that we no longer have an RV to live in! We've still got to figure all of that out, but we have friends who love us and are willing to help us out for a bit...stay tuned to see how that all works out!
Mama turtle burying her eggs.
One of the things I really love is the wildlife around here. We live in a zoo! The cows, horses, goats, dogs, and mules all roam free and are frequently sited...the birds are active right now and creating a riot of tweets, so many different sounds and colors! We have snakes (1 rattler), scorpions, cockroaches (not too many), geckos and even iguanas. The critters all keep Bill very active with his catch and release program.



Bill's enjoying a little break from his daily volley ball game, rather I should say, his shoulder is enjoying the break. Great group of people - here's a pic of some of the cast of characters.


And now for the big news! I am going to become a grandma! Yes, my first-born, Lauryn, is pregnant and due in December. She just turned 31, May 1st, and is in love with Jon, a great guy she met in LA. I got to meet him and spend some time getting to know him when I was in southern California in February. They've just had their second ultrasound and everything seems to be going according to plan. There are some pretty serious medical issues to deal with, but the odds are in her favor for a healthy bambino. I've been in contact with Jon's mom, Theresa - they live in New York and seem like really good people. It's been quite the year for Lauryn - I'm super proud of where she is today and all she's accomplished. She'll be a wonderful mother and has always loved being around children.

Bill's mom turns 90 in August, so we have plans for a little family reunion in the Tampa area and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again. Madeleine, Bill's daughter who lives in London, will be there and his son, Will, who lives in Key West will be driving in too. Bill's brothers are coming and maybe some cousins as well.

I love our life here in Los Barriles and am already feeling a little sad to leave, but the gypsy in me can't wait to get on the road again to go visiting and especially get back to Tahoe, my other favorite spot in the world. Life between Baja and Tahoe ain't bad....ain't bad at all...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

GARLIC!!!!

ANNOUNCEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT ANOOOUNCEMENT- my husband, Bill Kasson, is BAD ASS!! Last spring I found this amazing vegan jalapeno garlic spread called Majestic Garlic at Clark's Nutrition in Palm Desert and fell in love; deep, deep, everlasting kind of love. We bought about 6 of them and brought them up to Tahoe for the summer. All summer long we looked for it - wrote to the company, called stores, went to just about every Whole Foods...at one of them the clerk whispered that she had heard of it from people in the southern Ca stores, but that they didn't have it.

I tried to make it in our Vitamix and broke the sauce :(  On our travels down to Mexico this fall we stocked up and practiced freezing a few of them, which worked pretty good but we had limited space. Last week we finished the last tub and it was very sad and quiet when we each took our last bite of bagel dripping with sauce, spinach, tomato & salt & pepper. Bill mentioned that maybe he would try to make it, so I went right to the computer and found this site where there are video instructions to make TOOM.

On my way home from yoga yesterday I picked up a ton of fresh garlic (unfortunately we only have the purple variety down here which they talk about being a bit too strong for this). Today on my way home I picked up fresh baked bagels from Joe's Deli and then Bill, equipped only with a mini KitchenAid food processor went to town....and he brought home the big one folks! That sauce making class at LTCC paid off and of course, just his amazingness in the kitchen!!

YUM!


There will be updates and improvements...adding some other flavors, but the basics are there and we are happy dripping in our oilicky, garlic stench. 
We may have to keep our distance from others today!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Crossing the border...

Hola! We crossed the border at Tecate - and so quickly that we didn't even get our tourist visas (FMM) stamped! They just waved us through, so we went! After a block or so we realized we had definitely passed the place to get it stamped, so we turned and went back to the border and I got out and walked over to find out where to get this done. There is really no easy place to park and accomplish this before crossing, but we'll have to look closer next time. It was a super easy and fast crossing spot! Before we knew it we were on Highway 3 towards Ensenada through the "Ruta del Vino de Baja" - wine country! All of a sudden we realized we were passing wineries, and we needed to use los servicios (the bathrooms), how auspicious. Bill did something very out of character and instead of just stopping on the side of the road to pee, he pulled into a winery! One of the things that really bothered me during our four years of rv-ing was the fact that we never stopped at "attractions" along the highway. I would notice something and there was no way we could stop fast enough and most of the time impossible to turn around. Driving our truck has made this much, much easier, and even though it's not in Bill's nature to do this he knows it's something I enjoy and is making an effort!

We got a very late start leaving the U.S. as we were waiting to see if our new license plates for Bessie (our truck) had arrived at my parent's house. Once we heard they had not, off we went, as we were not going to wait another day. We had our old license plates, from the Subie, and just put those on the truck once we crossed the border so we wouldn't attract attention to ourselves at the numerous "check points" along our route. We crossed about 2pm and immediately turned our clocks back as daylight savings time occurs a week earlier in Baja. We realized pretty quickly that if we tried to make it to San Quintin we'd be driving in the dark - breaking the #1 rule of driving in Mexico. Yeah, so we'll just take care of breaking the rules right from the start!

I still had my old unlocked ATT iPhone 4s with the Mexican sim card I used last winter. I had gone online and loaded it with minutes and 3gigs of data before we left so when I turned it on after we crossed the border I was in business. Bill's new (to us) ATT iPhone5, that we had bought unlocked on Craigslist a few weeks earlier, did not work at all and we got a "sim card error" notice. We were pretty upset, thinking that maybe we had been ripped off and that it wasn't truly unlocked, but after spending a couple of frustrating hours searching the internet for an answer I finally sent AT&T an unlock request. The next morning I had a response confirming that it was unlocked and the steps to get the phone up and running - PHEW!

We stopped for the night at Hotel Jardines Baja, where we had gone with Sini and Bob last year to celebrate my birthday. The grounds are beautiful and the hotel is very nice, clean, about $45/night and most importantly safe for Bessie as she was loaded with our kayaks, bikes and just about everything we own.

Getting to this lovely spot was quite the challenge, though. The last time we were here, Bob had driven his cool Jimmy with the top down and we were only vaguely aware of where we were. The only directions I could find online were that it was 3 miles south of Lazaro Cardenas. Now if you were driving during the daylight you might actually see the sign for the restaurant. We actually did see it in the dark, because we were creeping along looking for it, the problem was that the sign was at the former entrance from Hwy 1, which has since been closed! A temporary (dirt) entrance had been improvised by the owner a couple hundred yards north of the entry road and the sign making it extremely difficult to get onto in less than 3 u-turns! Luckily Bill had seen someone turn off the road, ahead of us, and had an idea of where to go. The two other cars ahead of us that had pulled off to the side looking for a way to get to the road 10 feet below the highway weren't so lucky. Wow - that was difficult, but oh so possible in Bessie!

Our drive the next day brought back a sea of good memories from our last trip when we left the Escapees travel group and headed south on our own with Sini and Bob. Everything was incredibly green after all of the summer storms and Bill was really enjoying driving Bessie around the windy roads. We got an early start and drove about 8 hours, the second day. We were hoping to make it to Mulege or Playa Santispac before dark but Bill had driven all day and was ready to stop for the night in Santa Rosalia at Las Casitas hotel It had gotten good reviews on TripAdvisor - it was a little more pricey than the night before, but safe parking and a really beautiful little spot on the Sea of Cortez.

We had a two hour drive to get to Santispac where we were originally going to spend a couple of days but we both were getting very anxious to get to our destination, unpack and stop traveling! It seems as if we had been working hard all summer just to get to this point which was finally within reach. We did stop at Santispac to see what ravage hurricane Odile had spent there and to check in with Carlos at Anna's restaurant and John who had his 5th wheel trailer parked a few feet from the water's edge. Carlos had gifted us each t-shirts when we were there last February and we had brought him one from Burning Man. They had lost the palapa over the restaurant and were in the process of rebuilding. John's rv had been moved back about 15" from where it had been by the winds, but his palapa was intact and hadn't really had much other damage, amazingly enough! John was the super cool guy who had loaned us his kayaks to take out while we were there for 10 days, last February.

We got back on the road about an hour later and had a pretty easy drive all the way into Los Barriles where we arrived to a dark town around 6:30 p.m. It seems they had lost power about an hour before so we were greeted by Tessa in the dark to view the place that was to become our home for the next six months. The bed was made up and we had easy access to food so we got situated and then went up to Tessa's balcony to get acquainted. She is a lovely person and our personalities and lifestyles are well matched. She is WFRV - whole foods, raw vegan and has a large organic garden. She knits for a living and sells her stuff online and at the weekly organic farmers market in San Jose del Cabo. She has also offered to bring us back weekly fruits and veggies from there!

We spent the last week unpacking and getting settled in. Yesterday felt like the first day of really living here. We finally made it out to the sea for a paddle - me on my SUP and Bill in his angler's kayak where he hooked two and caught one, and although nothing came home with him it's the most success he's had fishing in a long time!  Later I had a continuing education class online for a couple of hours, amd then a teleconference with a client, while Bill made us a yummy vegetable soup. We ended up going over to the Lazy Daze bar where a big birthday party was going on and met a bunch of people, found out one of the cakes was vegan and got invited to join a group going over to the Las Palmas hotel today to hang out at the swim up bar. And this afternoon we received in invite to a neighborhood party - so we're settling in quite nicely and are really loving our life. It feels so good to both of us to have a nice big kitchen to cook in and to just sit for awhile.






Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catching up!

Hmmm....I wonder how many times I've used this blog title! To catch you up to speed - we had a wonderful visit with my daughter, Lauryn. She did my hair and we went to an AA meeting with her to celebrate her 1 year sober birthday. She spoke at the meeting - actually led the entire meeting and spoke for 25 minutes. She was eloquent, thoughtful, funny, emotional and I was (and AM) so very, very proud of her. The support in that room was overwhelming. Afterwards people shared - some about what she spoke about and some about themselves and their journey. One younger girl said "I want what you've got." And it struck me that I remember Lauryn saying the same thing early on in her recovery. She's in a good place, has a great job, is working on a second career as a personal trainer and has surrounded herself with really good people. PHEW!



My sister, Joanne, my mom and my nephew's girlfriend.
After L.A. we drove down to Dulzura, very, very southeast San Diego, just a hop, skip and jump from the Mexican border at Tecate, where our friends Jeanette and Dennis were hanging out. We had a much needed few days of R&R and Dennis helped me figure out a few things with my computer. We cooked together, sat around the campfire, got some work in, did some laundry and had the master suite to indulge in after all of our tent camping adventures. It just wasn't long enough, but my sister and her family, from Nome, Alaska, were visiting my parents and my brother had planned a family dinner - so off we went to join in. There was no room to stay at my mom and dad's house with my sister's family there so we went to stay close by at my Uncle's house, which was empty. 
With my brother, Richard, a great chef, who made
us a yummy vegan meal!



We went to Living Waters Spa to celebrate our 5th anniversary and spent the night there, for the first time. We indulged in one of their signature couples massages and just lounged around - taking a break from the October 15th tax deadline I was working against. We went back to Palm Desert for about a week and then set out to camp for a few days in Joshua Tree. My parents have had a home in Palm Desert for 25-30 years and even before that, they rented down there every winter and not once had I ever been to Joshua Tree - it was time!
Our wedding, 5 years ago on top of Round Hill, Stateline, Nevada
We scored a great campsite (good to go mid-week) at the Jumbo Rocks campground and did a couple of long hikes. The weather was perfect and we ended up meeting a great couple on our way out. 





About a week prior to this I woke up one morning with a start, realizing that we couldn't just go down to Mexico whenever we wanted, if we wanted to stay until the end of April - on a tourist visa you are limited to 180 days. Add into that the 4-5 days travel time to get up and down the peninsula and we only have 170 days! Time to reschedule and extend our leave date! By this time we had moved into my parents home and quickly realized we could not stay there another week. Bill was doing some searching on the internet for rentals and other options in the area while he was also playing around on Facebook. All of a sudden he noticed an ad for the Armed Forces Vacation Club - don't you just love how they know EVERYTHING you're doing?! Usually those things totally creep me out, but this time, we scored! Got a great condo, in a super area for $299 for the week. So off we went, moving, once again. We got a lot done in those three weeks in Palm Desert - I finished off tax season and got a couple of other work related things out of the way so that by the time we left I was done with work for a couple of months.
One of the two tent sites at Fiddler's Cove in Coronado.

We left Palm Desert and headed south to San Diego where we camped for 4 nights on Coronado in the newest  military campground. On the way there Bill asked me to check in with Glenn at the RV Connection to see if we'd had any interest in our RV. It had been almost a month since it had gone up on his website and we hadn't heard a thing. Well, guess what?! That was a timely email as they were just getting ready to take it for a test drive with a very serious buyer. Glenn only lets you test drive his vehicles if he knows that's the last step in the buying process - no lookee-loos for him! So we've got a deal in the works, we extended our stay in San Diego a couple of days to get the paperwork all signed. Timing is everything! Had we already left for Mexico this would have been a very difficult process. Today he is wiring the money to our bank to pay off the loan and Friday I believe we will be officially homeless, for one day, as our rent on our little casita starts Saturday, November 1st!