Friday, November 25, 2016

Last leg of the 2016 Summer Travels - Homeward Bound

We crossed the border in Tecate, like we always do, but this time we were pulled over to be searched - first time for us and we were packed to the gills.  At first I let Bill handle it, but after about 10 minutes I got out of the car to see what was going on. They had started pulling stuff out of the cab and I had to jump in as I knew where everything was and wanted to get out of this quickly without too much unpacking. I would unpack a few things for him to look futher into the bowels and he'd say, a little I'd unpack a few more things and this went on for another 10 minutes and he finally gave up. Didn't take us too long to pack it all back up again and we were on our way. One of the things that continues to get us into trouble is the giving of TOO MUCH INFORMATION...don't say you're moving down here, just say "I'm on vacation" - that's it!

We left San Diego early so were able to push to El Rosario and stay at Baja Cactus...dinner at Mama Espinoza's and an early night as we had a very long day ahead of us. In the middle of the "gas gap" we ended up looking for a baño in Cataviña. We've passed this spot many times and have always wanted to stop...Bill thought he'd get a breakfast beer and ask to use the baño when we were asked if we'd like a cold coconut. Why, si, por favor! Wow - did that taste good! And once we were finished he took them back and scraped up the meat, add some lime to the coconut and mix it all up, with some tajin seasoning and the water and I swear it tasted like sashimi - soooo good! I look forward to more stops like this along the way. On our first trip down the peninsula we did some of this but since then we've just been making a bee line from home to the border as fast as we that we're "settled" it's time to focus on discovering this country.

Coconut Sashimi!

We had a super long day and made it all the way to Loreto, which set us up for a much easier drive home, especially considering all of the horrible road work being done between there and La Paz. Stayed in a new place - the Hotel Santa Fe, pretty nice and included a kitchen and a pool. It was a nice walk to Restorante Mi Loreto, that our friends, Cathy and Miguel, had told us about. 

We were so excited to get home! We arrived on what we were told was the hottest day all summer and it didn't let up until November. But we didn't care one little bit. Our casita was in perfect shape. Wayne's "guy" cleaned up our place so well that we were in shock, after seeing those crazy pictures. Wayne had plugged in our fridge, turned the a/c on and we were ecstatic!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Final week in Palm Desert, or so we thought...

"Man plans, and god laughs" - my favorite saying of my mom's...
We did pretty good with all of our "plans" this summer until the last one. We were going to meet up with Wayne and his daughter and another friend to caravan down the peninsula a couple of days after Bill got down to the desert. But I had a little "incident" with our truck cab window and my mother's garage. I had the window popped up as I was backing up the truck onto the driveway to get it close to the garage so it would be more convenient and in the shade to pack, when I heard a little crunching sound. The good part was that I was moving slowly, but in the end it didn't really matter. The window got overextended and the frame bent...what a mess. It was a Lehr cab which is a big company in northern California, but no one in southern CA, south of Orange County, keeps them in stock because there are so many different sizes. I got quoted 2-4 weeks by everyone I spoke to. Finally I asked Bill to help and he found a place in San Diego that thought they could get it in a week, but it wasn't 100%. Bill did not want to travel through Mexico with an unlocked window to our cab that was packed with a lot of stuff we didn't want to lose. Plus, getting it fixed down there could be impossible, who knows. So we were stuck. As I stood there contemplating all of the crap we had unloaded into my parent's garage, so we wouldn't have to drive around town with all of that weight, I just couldn't imagine all of it fitting into the truck. We had driven all of the stuff down from our storage unit in Tahoe with the truck and the u-Haul with my parent's antiques in it, so I really had no clue what would actually fit. But I've packed that truck quite a few times, and even with my expert packing skills I was not confident it would fit.

During our summer travels I had started inquiring with a San Diego shipping company, that I knew shipped down to our area, about rates for shipping used goods. I knew that for anything new they charge 36%, duty plus their fee, but found out that for used goods they charge by the weight and dimensions. How we were going to get everything to San Diego that wouldn't all fit in the truck was going to be an issue. But now that we had all of this extra time, with nothing much to do, I proposed that we just make a day trip down to San Diego and deliver a bunch of stuff to ship down so we didn't have to stress with the packing. Bill came up with the great idea to pack up the bins/boxes with our lightest weight stuff, which was mostly our clothing and drive the heavy stuff down. And what a great idea that turned out to be. We ended up shipping 8 rather large bins and an end table down. They delivered it to our home a couple of days after we arrived and the total cost was $240!! Best money we ever spent! And we got to meet up with Bill's buddies Scott and Jean for lunch too.

Lunch at Native Foods, Bill's favorite!
During this time our friend, Wayne, made it back to Los Barriles and sent us pictures of our home so we could see what happened during the summer! Oy Vey!

When we left at the end of July the only thing green on our property was the sissoo (sp?) plants growing on the fence. And the plant in that one brown pot above. All of that stuff in the planters and everywhere else, NONE of that was there, it was all just plain old sand...and dirt in the garden beds. Oh WOW!!! What a mess!! Wayne asked if we wanted his "guy" to clean it up and unwrap the house for us, meaning to uncover everything we had covered up, turn on the a/c and the fridge. We said a resounding YES, PLEASE!!!

We stayed a few more days in Palm Desert, in the miserable heat, and finally packed up the truck and drove to San Diego. Luckily the day before we left we heard from the company that our window was on the truck heading south! It was October 10th, our 7th wedding anniversary and we went to one of our favorite plant-based restaurants, The Gratitude Cafe - and we had a lot to be grateful for! We stayed in an AirBnB with a couple of nice guys, got our pesos from Costco, did one final shop at a natural foods store, and were ready to begin the very last leg of our journey home!

Back to Nevada City...

I had about 10 days total in Nevada City, just enough time to catch my breath! We discovered the local hash kennel, "Cougar H3," was hosting a hash while we were there and friends Becca and Jules, aka PoopaTrooper & BATT (Bad Ass Tongue Tricks), drove from Sacramento and Reno, respectively,  to come hash with us. OMG, this was a kennel of REAL R*NNERS!! Not only was this an urban trail, set in the city, but in the that coupled with us being super out of shape spending the summer on our asses in the truck, made for us being really far behind - so far that there wasn't any beer left for us at the beer check...quite an offence, if truth be told....but we all met back up at the brewery, where they weren't going to sing any songs. The 4 of us visitors were not going to have any of that! This was a newer group and we were a bunch of seasoned veterans, who showed them what's what, even if they did leave us in the dust!

The Visitors, aka Troublemakers!
And upbeknownst to each other we all brought our Iguana's Happi Coats!
I left Nevada City before Bill and flew to L.A. to be with my daughter, Lauryn, to celebrate her 3rd clean and sober birthday with her. This is a day I am thrilled to celebrate, every single year!

Right after the birthday celebration at Beit T'shuvah we all piled into the van I rented and traveled to Palm Desert where we were going to spend the weekend at my parents. Bill left a couple of days later from Nevada City to meet me down there for the final family visit before we crossed the border. If you're exhausted reading these last couple of posts, you can just imagine how we felt! We figured at this point we had driven 9000 miles in 9 weeks, with another 1000 ahead of us...

The Spirit of '76, JFK 40th Reunion, Sacramento

WOW - it's been 40 years since I graduated high school?! Bizarre concept, but I actually have travelled far in those 40 years, and I don't mean in actual mileage. My youth was not carefree, hell, the first 50 years of my life were not carefree, but the great thing is that our mind protects us and blocks out a lot of our memory. I had been tempted to go to the last reunion by a FaceBook friend, but I just wasn't ready to revisit that period in my life, this time, I was kind of surprised by my reaction - I was curious! There was a FaceBook page and a website that people could post things about themseves and you could include a website. So I jumped on there and even posted a link to my blog. And I started getting a bunch of emails from people that wanted to reconnect or just say hi - it was kind of fun and got me a little excited about seeing people. Most of the people I was hearing from, and wanted to see were people that I had known since grammar school, especially my swim team friends. One woman was from my Brownie Troop - Brownies, really, OMG, I remember absolutely nothing from back then! Swim team is hard to forget, you spend hours and hours every single day with these people, I remember the people, but I don't really remember much more than that.

After confirming that a few people I knew were attending I bit the bullet and sent in my money and they even came up with a vegan meal for me! I drove in from Nevada City and got a hotel room walking distance from the Embassy Suites in Old Sac, fortified myself and started to walk over. Half-way there I started getting chicken and called Bill for some moral support....what am I doing, OMG, I don't even know these people! He talked me down off the bridge and I made it in. People started coming up to me and even after reminding me who they were, I drew a blank... names sounded familiar but nothing more than that. I remember saying more than once, "I think we were friends, I mean, good friends!" But more than that I didn't have. Fellow medley-relayers, Patty Leiferman and Karen Lutz told me to look at the pictures on everyone's name tag and that did help a little. But then I saw a friend I was really close with, and I got totally excited, maybe a little too much so and exclaimed, "Oh you're the one person I was really hoping to see!" I think it kind of freaked him out, and his wife, as they quickly disappeared! Back to the bar for me, and maybe a trip outside too, haha. Eventually he came and found me and we had a really super conversation, actually several of them throughout the night. He thanked me for saving his ass, more than once, and my friend Patty, who has a memory that does not quit, reminded me that I was late to a French final once because..."I had to pick up Peter!" There was Kenny, the guy I was making out with when my mom came home early and found about 6 couples in various stages of entanglement throughout our house! Several people had been reading my blog and were fascinated with my lifestyle.

The music was fantastic, same band from our high school days! I had a great time and then I was done...ok, you can only make so much chit chat and I happen to really suck at it. Friends gave me a ride back to the hotel, I had a good night sleep and I don't have to do that again, well, maybe in another 40 years!

Kathy Koretsky, Kenny Whitaker, moi, Patty Leiferman and Jane Fricke - all friends I've known for 50+ years.

Front - me, Mona Gonzales, Nancy Lena (the person I most wanted to be like), Kathy Koretsky (one of my besties)
Back - Kenny Whitaker, Nina Dacanay, Patty Leiferman swimteam), Karen Travis, Karen Lutz (swimteam) and Tony Vaughn, major hunk

Traveling west...

The original plan, post South Dakota, was to camp in Yellowstone, this was before we saw the 30 degree low temps and after checking the internet there were no reasonably priced accommodations anywhere...who'd a thunk it, we thought September would be easy, peasy! Friends, Wayne and Sharon, from Baja, were hanging in Steamboat Springs for the summer so we headed there because, well, a free bed! And to check out the town as I'd never been there before. Oh yes, it was super cute and I could see why they were enjoying it so much. We got some exercise in, went and checked out some property with Wayne and Sharon, then we shopped for cowboy boots! I have been wanting to buy Bill a pair of cowboy boots for-EVER, and what better opportunity! We were directed to an awesome boot store, F.M. Light & Sons, and spent quite a bit of time finding the perfect boot. Seems Bill's feet, like mine, love Luchese's! Check them out!

 We had fun walking around town...

and I got to kiss a frog!
Sharon captured this pic of a beautiful fox.

It was nice to rest up and be in one place for a couple of nights, and the accommodations were first class! From here we stopped to see our friend, Donna, at her place in Park City. She's got a sweet little condo here in a great neighborhood. It's fun to see our Baja friends all over the place during the summer, very different for us, but they've become our family. From here we drove to Reno where we got a fabulous room with a view for $40 - I've been trying to keep our lodging under $50/night, which is tough, and we've stayed in some quirky places, but pretty decent ones too. We did splurge on an AirBnB one night on our way to Reno, which was awesome as I could do some cooking and make us a few meals for a couple of days. 

We stocked up on provisions in Reno and went to spend the night at Sierra Hot Springs, one of our very favorite places. Lucky for us, our friend, Daniel, drove over from South Lake Tahoe to spend the day. We made pizza together in the community kitchen and created a yummy masterpiece!

Of course, one sin mushrooms for Mr. Bill...
And from here we were back to Nevada City for about 3 weeks to pet sit for Baja friends, Chris and Christina, again - this time they were traveling to Scotland! We were sooooo very, very happy to be in one place for awhile, but for me that lasted all of about 24 hours as I was headed to Sacramento. The previous month I found out, through FaceBook, that my 40th high school reunion was taking place while we were going to be in Nevada City, the second time. I've only been to one reunion, my 10 year, and stayed for about an hour - I have had absolutely no desire to go to another one, until now. I am not sure why the change in heart, but someone mentioned that it just might just be because I was in a good place in my life right now and I think that was it. I had been in limited touch, through FB with one or two friends and was kind of curious....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

California to South Dakota

I couldn't get in the truck fast enough to escape the August heat of Palm Desert, we got a late start around 2pm and stopped for the night in Mesquite, 2nd stop was in Idaho Falls and we were ever so close to our friend Blas, and did connect by phone but too far for a body hug.

We found a brewery with vegan food walking distance from our dumpy little motel so we got to get out and explore a little bit. The next day we had a very long drive to C'oeur d'Alene but we were going to be stationary for 5 nights with good friends so it was worth it!

Good friends, Derrel and Pam, Texans have managed to meet us at some of our favorite places while traveling so I've really been able to call them my friends, as well. Cora and Mike were traveling this summer in their new rv from South Carolina. And Raz and Cathy we've visited both in C'oeur d'Alene but also in Depoe Bay. All of them had been in the Philippines together and shared many infamous memories. They were a super fun group and I just knew we'd have a great weekend. And we did!
Willie and Raz

I found this in the local liquor store
and it became the weekend drink!

We got there first and scored the cute little cabin with a spectacular view

Last time we were here we were still living in our big motorhome and couldn't make it all the way down to the lake. It was also in the 90's - Raz put in a 50amp hookup for us so we could plug in up the hill by his "shop" aka MAN CAVE, so we were set, but it was much more fun being where the action was down by the lake.

We were soon joined by the  remaining cast of characters and a fun time was had by all!
Thanks, Raz and Cathy, for hosting!!

From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump up to Hope, ID, where our friends from Baja - Ed, Elissa, and Kelly summered. Elissa owns the floating restaurant at the Marina and I've really wanted to get up there and check out the area. Elissa heard we were going to be in the area, only an hour away, and invited us up to join them. What a great town! We just spent a day, and a night - dinner at the restaurant was awesome, and she went out of her way to make sure we had some vegan options, and we just had to play pool in Ed's "man cave" with Kelly, or we couldn't even call it a visit! 

We left early the next day to begin the arduous drive to Rapid City, South Dakota. We recently changed our state of residency to South Dakota, and not only for tax purposes, although that was a huge part of it. We have not actually LIVED in the state of California since 2010, but have been paying taxes to that state as if we have. South Dakota is one of three states that are advantageous for nomads to live in. Not only does it have to do with the fact that they have no state taxes, but they have very good policies regarding jury duty, vehicle registration and sales tax rates make it super easy for us, as do Florida and Texas. The reason why we chose South Dakota is because the mail service we use in Mexico uses the mail-forwarding service, My Dakota Address in South Dakota, so we already had a South Dakota address and the service there was super helpful in registering our truck and to vote. We also had a lot of help from them figuring out all of the documents we needed to get our driver's licenses. That was the one thing we had to actually go there for. And we had to spend one night in the state - providing the DMV with a receipt from the motel. The DMV is quite used to us nomads and it only took about 10 minutes and 20 pieces of documentation and we walked out of there with our actual licenses!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Mom's birthday celebration

We had an uneventful journey down the state and delivered all of the antiques back to my parents. The next day I packed up my mom and with my angel of a husband watching my dad for two days, we set off for Los Angeles. My mom was born in LA and she still has a large majority of her family there, to say her favorite thing in the world is hanging with her family would be a large understatement. We spent two nights in Beverly Hills with good friends, Don and Anita; we spent lots of time with Justice and Lauryn, and I even think I was able to babysit for a couple of hours.

Mom and her cousin, Carl, one of her favorite people!!

Baby Justice looking like such a big boy at the table!

The little family

Mom's favorite, coconut cake.
The birthday girl!
Mom had a great time, and I'm just sorry I didn't get pictures of everyone who joined us - Cher, Don and Anita and Judy, Carl's wife. We left the next morning and while we traveled south, Bill was busy packing up the truck as we wanted to join in the Labor Day festivities being planned in C'ouer d'Alene by our friend Raz...Derrel and Pam, from Texas were joining us as well as Cora and Mike from South Carolina. Idaho is kind of on the way to South Dakota, right??!! Another one of our great ideas (NOT!) was to drive to South Dakota to get our driver's licenses. We had recently changed our residency to South Dakota, for tax reasons. Earlier in the year we had registered our truck there and now it was necessary for us to be licensed drivers in the state as well. Just why we thought it would be better to DRIVE there I cannot tell you...something about, oh, we'll go camp in Yellowstone, or some such nonsense....once we looked at the temps in the 30's that wasn't happening! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The best laid plans...

My mom's favorite saying to me as a kid, "man plans and god laughs," I've always been a planner - must give me some small feeling of being in control and I really worked hard to make sure we didn't have a summer like last summer, where we were on the road, crashing at friend's homes here and there, but even the best laid plans...

Not sure if I had mentioned it here or not, but last fall, right around this time, I found a great AirBnB in the Crestline Area (close to Lake Arrowhead in southern California). We wanted to be close to my daughter and grandson, in LA, but not be in LA...preferably something within an hour and a half so that I could drive down for the day, once a week, and help out my daughter with some babysitting. We had booked the place for 4 months and asked if they would put wifi in for us as the internet in the area totally sucks. They happily agreed since we were doing a long-term rental, we exchanged a few emails and I paid them the first months rent, plus fees - 10 months before we were to rent in June. Once we decided to build our little casita we realized we didn't want to be gone for so long and I asked them if I could change the rental to 3 months, starting July 1st. They agreed but asked if we could start it July 6th so they could rent it out over the holiday - not a problem, we were all good. Then in early June I got a message from AirBnB telling me that my reservation was cancelled, the reason being that the owners didn't want to put in the wifi. Well, our rental was not conditional on that fact and now, right before the summer, and less than a month before we were to leave, all of the rentals were twice as much, and guess, what, so was their place. They must have realized they could get a lot more for their rental at this point, so cancelled us. I couldn't find anything in the area we could afford so we started working on Plan B. We had a few friends reach out to us, through Facebook, offering places to stay, mostly short-term, but late in the game a friend actually had a connection to a very reasonable place in SoCal for a couple of months, but by this time we had made all kinds of other plans. Not sure that we wanted to start all over again with the planning, we basically found ourselves in the same position as last year. 2 nights here, 2 nights there, 2 weeks here, on the road...traveling, traveling...something we're very used to after living in our motorhome for 4+ years, but this time around, all we had was our truck, Bessie.

Bill and I really wanted to throw in the towel and just stay home, we felt it was important to be home that first summer after building to see what happened to our place during the rainy season. But we needed to get up to Tahoe and empty our storage unit. When we moved into our motorhome in 2010, from our 2800 sq ft home, we sold and donated most everything we owned, except for my parents antiques and a few other pieces of furniture and other items we felt we could not part with. I mean we had no idea if we were going to be rv-ing 6 months or 6 years. But alas, it was now 2016, 6 years of paying storage fees that we needed to stop. It wasn't a fortune at $500 per year, but we also wanted our stuff in one place. So we stuck to the ridiculous plan I hatched up and off we went, albeit with great trepidation...

We made it up to Tahoe and the lovely Suzanne provided us with a fabulous place to nest while we traveled up and down Kingsbury Grade daily dealing with our storage unit in Minden, Nevada.
My work set up at Suzanne's
Daniel threw us a great welcome home happy hour and all our Tahoe folks stayed well into the wee hours, just like they always do, 
and got to see my son a couple of times.
One of several visits to Sidellis Brewery

Pool with Jacob at The Cue...
Our best buds Maria and Brian, made it up the hill to hang out for awhile, there were beach get-togethers, concerts, dinners, and brewery visits. 
Poopa traveled to both Tahoe and Nevada City for beaching and hashing!

Our friend Brown offered us her garage and yard when we decided we just had tooooo much good stuff and must have a garage sale - she lives in our old neighborhood in Tahoe, which is an awesome location for this. We did great and had very little left to give away. 
Daniel and Tuesday joined in the garage sale fun

And Flea stopped by to entertain us!
We sold a few pieces of furniture to one buyer on Craigslist, who picked it all up from our storage unit - everything went swimmingly well! And we were WIPED OUT!!!!!!! But we had a schedule to keep! We had to get down to Palm Desert to deliver all of the antiques to my parents and for me to take my mom to LA for a birthday celebration weekend! AM I FREAKING CRAAAAZY?!! Oh and then we were supposed to be in Coeur d'Alene for Labor Day Weekend....we were leaving Tahoe on August 25th!! be continued

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hurricane Prep

One of the things we do have to deal with down in the Baja is the real threat of hurricanes. While we were building our casita the number one issue that Bill wanted addressed at every part of the build was "where will the water flow?" In our palapa this was especially important as we didn't want the floor to be completely level, but to gently slope out. We were lucky that we had a little storm come through as we were building the additional palapa connecting the main palapa to our house, and saw that, not only were there leaks around that addition, but there was standing water in front of the kitchen sink. We had them tear out that portion of concrete and redo it so the water would flow. Now that we've had our first big storm of the summer we are anxious to hear/see how it fared. Our friend, Monze, is keeping an eye on our place while we're gone and I have an email out to her to get a report.

Our hurricane preparations included sinking a portable water storage (tinaca or pila) into the ground and hooking it up to the city water and our house. It has a pump and will refill automatically; we can get water for our entire home as usual if the city water is shut off, albeit with some major conservation as it's only 1100 liters (~300 gallons). In addition to this we purchased a 7000 watt generator and installed a direct hook-up to our home so we can run our whole house, including one air conditioner if we do not have electricity. We also purchased several gas cans and filled them up with an additive for fuel storage. Unfortunately we realized a little late in the game that it would have been wiser to purchase a dual propane/gas generator instead of just gas, but eventually we will switch this out. For now we've tested everything and it seems to work just fine.

Top right corner you can see the pipe for the water that is flowing into the pila.

In addition to the above we had covers made for all of our appliances in the palapa. Eduardo who has a little open-air shop down the street from us came over and measured, several times, and made us fabulous water proof covers for our fridge, stove, washing machine, island and sofa - which, was too large to get through the door of our casita to store.

Fridge cover complete with a zipper down the middle so we
can get inside if we're there during a storm.

Washing machine

Cabinet - he did a great job on this - the corners are gathered to fit tighter and
he made a flap that goes over the wall, which we have tied down
to a cinder block to prevent "flapping"

You can see the sofa and island covers here. He made gathers to go around the feet of the island and Wayne
told us to put it and the sofa up on cinder blocks. The sofa also has a large piece that comes
from the back and goes underneath and velcros completely around the front and sides.
We covered everything we could with tarps and sand bags.
And last, but certainly not least, we had wooden shutters made to go on all of the windows, except our sliding glass door which has permanent metal bifold doors that can lock from the inside or outside, in case we are there during a storm.

Our friends, Mandy & Jasper, had similar shutters made and we admired them so much we
had Sr. Gabriel make us one too! Eventually we'd like to have these on all of our windows. 

Michael made these shutters for our windows, they are a blank slate for some murals, me thinks!

We were advised the importance of "being there" our first summer to see exactly what happens with our property during a big storm, but we had to get up here and clean out our storage unit and spend some time with my grandson, which took precedence. Next summer we will stay at home and are really looking forward to it.

This year we stayed until the end of July, which is the latest we have ever stayed. Last year we left the first week in June. The town really empties out and just has this peaceful buzz to it that we loved. It got hot, for sure, but we'd find ourselves at the beach most afternoons and it was delightful.

Sarah and I at the violins for kids fundraiser

Hanging on the beach with Suzanne

Blas always "makes a good picture"

The gang all hanging out at the beach - Sasha, Monze, Suzanne, Sarah, Bill and moi