Puerto Penasco, Mexico

This is the last of three installments chronicling our 2016-2017 travels.  Once again we returned to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, in mid-February where we spent 10 warm, sunny days with old and new friends.

After leaving our 3-month stint in Death Valley, followed by about 10 days or so in the Las Vegas/Laughlin area, we headed down to Dateland, Arizona for a 3 day visit with our good friends, John and Betty Gallagher. We always have a great time with them, and they are very generous in allowing us to stash our bikes and other ‘stuff’ that we won’t be using while in Mexico.  BTW, Dateland is best know for it’s great date milkshakes; click for more information.


Entering Mexico at the Lukeville, AZ/Sonoyta, MX border crossing. Crossing this year was much slower than usual. The Mexican Border Agents were very courteous and friendly when they boarded us.  It took over an hour to get all 35 coaches across.


The guy on the right was in our Winnebago Puerto Penasco group. His dog went with him everywhere, including on his custom-designed Harley rear trunk. The helmet matched the bike color; the goggles (yep, really) were not shown.


Happy hour every day at 4 PM, in the Playa Bonita Beach Bar. Drinks were cheap and copious…


One of the tourist-trap shops at “The Dirt Mall,” so named because the road through there used to be dirt and was not paved until about 2 years ago. You can get anything you want here…well, almost…


We met up with some old friends and made some new ones in Puerto Penasco. This pic shows us, Matt and Gloria (old), Sharon and John (new) and MonaLiza and Steve (old) at the El Capitan Restaurant.  What a terrific view – highest point in town.  And if you ate before 4 PM, you ordered off their 50% discount menu…so we went there twice during our visit.


Dee Dee met a younger man in Mexico. We lost track of her for 4 days.


The girlz in front of the Shrimper’s Memorial Statue – Gloria, Sharon, MonaLiza and Dee Dee.


Dee Dee with the boys at Mr. Fish on the Malacon. Great place, very fresh seafood and they are all very friendly. We ended up bringing back 10 lbs. of monster shrimp and 5 lbs. of red snapper.


We took an all-day guided jeep trip to a very remote beach about 65 miles south of Puerto Penasco. We stopped just before the beach dunes so that everybody could ‘air down’ to about 20 lbs. tire pressure, for driving in soft sand.

Millions (really…) of these shells covered acres and acres adjacent to the sandy road we used to access the beach.

Headed up a hill just off the beach. It’s much steeper than it looks…took 2 trys to get to the top.

Charlie found a sucker in Steve. Once you throw him the ball, he owns you…

Pacifico’s on the beach with our good friends Steve and MonaLiza.

Dee Dee and Steve doing weird hand tricks on the beach.

MonaLiza with a sea cucumber that she found floating in the surf.


Beers with our buddies at the JJ’s Cantina out in Cholla Bay. Funky place on the beach, and probably the most expensive beer in all of Mexico. We only had one and then left.


Steve and Bob installing a Magnashade magnetic sun screen on our coach.  Very simple ingenious method to block sun and ensure a degree of privacy, while still being able to see outside.  Click here for more information on this product.


We met this lady on the beach one day. Turns out that she is from Canada and her family owns a popular restaurant in town called Frenchy’s. Which it turns out, is the name of their dog.  Click here for more information about Frenchy’s


Charlie taking a break from chasing a tennis ball and playing with every single little kid on the beach.


Back to one of our most favorite restaurants, Peggy Sues, not too far from Barstow, CA on I-15.


Dee Dee picking oranges near Bakersfield, CA.


We stopped for the night at Yreka, CA. Actually had to. I-5 from there to the other side of the Siskiyous Summit had a chains required/4WD restriction. But 10 AM the next morning the road was clear enough to safely pass.

At the top of the Siskiyous Summit, on the way down the steep hill into Ashland, Oregon.

Yreka Dog Butt.


We had a wonderful visit in Modesto with lots of old, old and very good, friends. What a great evening. Thanks to Derek Waring (on the far left) for setting this up. What a treat it was for us!


Remnant of Kubrik’s classic film, “2001 – A Space Odyssey.”


This trip was not without it’s problems, that essentially started as we were departing Mexico.  One of our slides got stuck open (for the 2nd time in 7 months), delaying us for about an hour while we did temporary repairs to get it back in, with the help of a bunch of good friends who were their with knowledge and tools.  We got back across the border into the US with no problems or issues – it was a very easy crossing, despite what we had garnered from others who preceded us.  (Since Trump took office, ICE has become very aggressive at the border.  Things have changed for US citizens travelling in and out of Mexico…and not necessarily for the better.  But, once we were in Mexico, it was all good.  The Mexican people are friendly, tolerant and welcoming.  It’s a wonderful country.)

The 2nd night back in the US, at Newberry Springs, CA, another slide failed, but we managed to nurse that one in.  For the remaining 6 days of our trip back north, we only had one functioning slide.  The coach was livable, but cramped.  Several months previously we made an appointment at the Winnebago West Coast Repair Facility in Junction City, Oregon, so we were able to take the coach directly to them on the way home (they are located about 4 hours south of us.)

So, as I write this, our RV is almost completed; it has been there for over 3 weeks.  We went back down there about a week ago to inspect what they had done so far and it all looked great…just one or two other minor repairs to be completed.  I am headed back down in a few days (March 24th) to pick it up.  Because of all the issues we have experienced over the past year, Winnebago has agreed to give us another year on the factory warranty, as well as having the Plant Manager and the West Coast Sales Manager present when we pick it up.  They have been very cooperative (albeit after a bit of ‘nudging’ from us), so we are generally pleased with them.

That’s it for now.  We are home for a bit, but have several small trips planned over the next months.  Then, probably in October sometime, we are off again for another extended (4-5 month) trip, probably to south Texas, New Orleans (again), Mississippi and the Florida Pan Handle, near our favorite place in Carrabelle.

Stay tuned…

 

Wandering (Wondering?) Our Way to South Dakota

So, I bet you are all wondering, “What the hell happened to that Gauvreau blog thing?”  Good question.  Let’s just say that the intensity of posting most of last year got to me and I needed a vacation.

Or something…

Anyhow, for what ever reason for being gone, it’s back again.  Big yip, huh?

So, we are starting off by going w-a-y back to last September, when we began our next big adventure, heading off to South Dakota and the goal of seeing Mt. Rushmore.  So, here we go…

IMG_3585

We left our home in Silver Lake, Washington, on September 13, 2016, kicking off a 4-week trip to South Dakota. Our first stop was in Walla Walla, Washington, probably best known for the large herds of (now-extinct) Walla Walla’s that roamed the surrounding hills, eons ago. Today it is best known for over-rated $14 martini’s at a local bar, and an RV park run by an insane woman. Oh, and the chickens there are mighty big, too…


After leaving Walla Walla, we stopped in Spokane where we visited our little niece and nephew, Kim and Selby. We always have a great time with these two characters. We closed down the bar in the Elks Lodge one night; the 2nd night we headed out for dinner to a great place on the river, where Selby managed to eat something that disagreed with him – a lot. Enough so to cause them to miss our planned 3 days of camping with them in Montana. Even so, they did manage to drive over to see us for a few hours.


We ran across this odd truck on Highway 84, on the way to Walla Walla. I talked to the driver, who told me that is was a prototype design for Freightliner that he was testing. The complex graphic is actually make up of a peel-and-stick (no kidding…) material design to mask the lines of the truck. I guess…at least that’s what he told me.


With our (really) old buddies, Steve and Linda McCullough – from high school and college times. They took us ATVing up in the hills above Townsend, Montana. We spent a great 2 daze with them – such good friends and wonderful hosts. Charlie greatly appreciated their charming hospitality, at least the 2 lbs. of raw roasts that he swiped off their kitchen counter and ate all in one sitting. Oh, and Steve makes a MEAN martini.


With Steve and Linda, at an old cabin about 15 miles back in the hills. We had a great trip back there and it capped a super-fun day…only to be bested by Steve’s martini’s once we returned to their house; they have a full bar in the garage, and in the kitchen, and in the den, and in the living room and on the deck. You don’t need to walk for a drink when you visit.


Life would not be complete without a stop in Butte, Montana, where we had a great visit with our old Modesto friends and neighbors, Ed and Betty Banderob. Butte is the consummate mining town, and Ed is a veritable font of information about the entire area, since both he and Betty grew up there, and their families go back generations. We were really lucky to have Ed drive us around town in his old, but mint condition, Cadillac. What a treat! Such great hosts!


A tunnel under an open-pit mine access road, Butte, Montana. It led from a visitor information center to a viewpoint.


One of many abandoned mining ‘gallows’ in Butte. This one is fairly contemporary; many are decades old. All are part of the colorful history of the town.


Dee Dee just after we arrived at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming. A cold, nasty day…we had this magnificent view all to ourselves.


Another view of Devil’s Tower the next day, complete with buffalo and a Texas Longhorn.


We hiked up and around Devil’s Tower. This is a view from the base of the Tower, looking back towards our campground. Close as a crow flies, but several miles by car. Did you ever see the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” Portions of it really were filmed at Devil’s Tower. The production company was based at this campground.


And yet still another view of Devil’s Tower, taken from the trail around the base. You can’t see them here, but there were about a dozen or so climbers up there.


On the way down from our 3.5 mile hike around Devil’s Tower. There was a beer waiting just outside the frame…


After about two weeks of traveling, with many stops, we finally made it Hill City, South Dakota, our base camp for a week while we explored the area: Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Sturgis, Deadwood, and surrounding towns. This campground was a great central location; it had only 6 spaces, and 2 of them were occupied by work-campers who maintained the grounds and took care of several cabins on the grounds. It was a perfect location and the guy who runs the place is a total delight.


After almost 2 weeks on the road, Dee Dee and the Boyz are taking a much-needed break.


Dee Dee’s scratched one off her Bucket List when we arrived at Mt. Rushmore! This was the goal of the trip, and we made it. By the way, if you have seen the iconic Hitchcock movie, “North by North West,” part of it was filmed here…but don’t expect to see anything remaining from that time, except for the mountain. No longer can you drive right up to a viewpoint. You are now required to park ($11, no discounts) in a seven-story parking garage and walk about 1/2 mile to the viewpoint. The National Park Service has done a good job in developing the area. You do pay to park (no choice), but entry to the Monument is still free.


After Mt. Rushmore, we visited the privately (tribal) operated Crazy Horse Monument. This is a bigger-than-life-size mock-up sculpture located in the expansive visitor’s center. Work on this monument is largely funded by private resources and donations. It’s been going on for 2 generations and it is anticipated that it will not be completed for several more. In other words, your kid’s kid’s kid’s kid’s may be lucky to see the final product. it is really unbelievable what is going into the development of this area…not just the Monument, but also an expansive regional educational center. Has to be seen to be believed.


Us at Crazy Horse Monument. You can see they have a l-o-n-g way to go before it is completed.


One of the many breweries and wineries in the Hill City area. No shortage of beer here. Lucky for us, we were here at the tail-end of the tourist season. Many businesses were literally within a few days of closing down for the winter. Things really start to taper off after October 15th.


We made it to Sturgis! Not much going on, but at least we have the picture of the Harley Dealership to prove we made it. And yes, we did get t-shirts.

There is a magnificent motorcycle museum in Sturgis. Totally supported by private funds and donations. If you are into bikes, and in the area, this place is not to be missed.

This is one of the many great exhibits in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. They had a whole series of Honda’s from 50cc circa 1964 scooters to contemporary Gold Wings. I owned a Honda 305 Super Hawk just like this one, in 1968. It was a great bike. Still miss it.


A portion of a Big Round Thing, on display in Leadville. It was part of a very important project, related more to nuclear science that mining. It just forget what it was part of… The diameter was over 15 feet.


Fall colors in a magnificent canyon between Deadwood and Sturgis. We were there at absolutely prime time.


“Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the ANTELOPE play…” This was taken near a small town in Wyoming. Dee Dee and I were sitting in a local bar having a beer and we told a guy sitting next to us about this herd. “No way,” says he. “Antelopes (sic) have been extinct for over 200 years.” So much for local knowledge.


Storage silos, near Wall, South Dakota. We stopped at the famous Wall Drug (immediately behind where I was standing to take this pic.) It was OK. Great for kids. It’s still a monster tourist trap.


A herd of mountain sheep, blocking the road on the way to Badlands National Park, in Wyoming, about a 125 mile drive from our base camp in Hill City and about 100 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota. No, they (the sheep) are not as yet extinct, but then again, we did not inquire with the locals to be sure…


Entering Badlands National Park, just like the sign says…


Badlands National Park is a small, but immensely spectacular place. The geological formations were amazing. You could spend days here wandering around, exploring. You can actually meander through the entire park in about 2 hours, it’s that small. We were lucky, again, to be here in early October: good weather and few other visitors. It was a great time to be there.


More Badlands…


And even more Badlands…


…and here we leave you with a magnificent view of a portion of Badlands National Park. You have the bench all to yourself. Badlands National Park was the end of our long journey eastward, from our home in Washington to South Dakota.


The way home was not as enjoyable as the trip out. The end of good fall weather was upon us, and winter was rapidly setting in. We encountered nothing but wind and rain all the way back home. Many visitor places, such as RV parks and other campgrounds were closing down or were already closed, on the route home (South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.)

But we made it just fine, and our RV managed to survive the trip with no major problems or breakdowns. (We did have it service by a Freightliner dealer in Rapid City, South Dakota, while we were there.) We arrived home about mid-October, got unpacked, did some work around the place, and then took off again about 10 days later, headed for a 3-month gig as campground hosts at Death Valley National Park, and then some travels in Nevada and Arizona, capped by 10 days in delightful Puerto Penasco, Mexico.

But that’s the next installment of the Blog…stay tuned…

Boudin And Cracklins

Sunday, January, 18, 2015

Good day to y’all from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Vintage McDonalds, New Orleans, LA

Vintage McDonalds, New Orleans, LA

Our last installment ended as we were departing Galveston, Texas, headed for Lafayette, Louisiana.  As we were leaving, the weather seemed to be breaking – we had actually seen the sun peek through on occasion.  Not much, but it gave us some degree of hope…

Almost all of the roads we travelled in Texas were pretty good.  (Certainly better than the I-5 through California, Oregon and Washington, which, in many places, is in dire need of maintenance.)   However, once you cross over into Louisiana, the freeways, at least the I-10, deteriorated somewhat.  It seemed that truck traffic, for whatever reason, increased markedly, and the lanes and shoulders were narrower.  You have to be on your toes all the time when driving.  Also, the pavement was generally poured concrete slabs, so you got this constant ‘wumpa-wumpa-wumpa’ feeling.  When you get off the freeway, the roads really turn to crap.  Skinny, with lots of potholes and uneven pavement…and almost no shoulders.

Entrance to the Bayou Wilderness RV Resort (of sorts), Lafayette, LA

Entrance to the Bayou Wilderness RV Resort (of sorts), Lafayette, LA

Cypress tree and moss, Lafayette, LA

Cypress tree and moss, Lafayette, LA

Baby cypress trees, Bayou Wilderness RV Resort, Lafayette, LA

Baby cypress shoots, Bayou Wilderness RV Resort, Lafayette, LA

Baby cypress trees, Lafayette, LA

Cypress trees and shoots, Lafayette, LA

Spanish moss on cypress tree, Bayou Wilderness RV Resort, Lafayette, LA

Moss on cypress tree, Bayou Wilderness RV Resort, Lafayette, LA

But, we survived and ended up at this place called ‘Bayou Wilderness RV Park,’ about 10 miles or so off the freeway, and it really was in bayou country.  When we checked in we asked about alligators.  They said there were none there (at least that they knew of), except for one, about 4 feet long, that mysteriously appeared in the swamp there several years previously…but he has since departed.  Anyhow, this place was OK; a bit pricey for what you got, and it looked a little tired and worn out.   But, it was quiet and the folks there were friendly.  So, no real complaints.

We ended up in Lafayette on the advice of our primary care doc back home in Toledo, Washington, who was from there (Lafayette).  She told us that if we wanted some of the best Cajun food in Louisiana, then Lafayette is the place to go.  And she was spot on!  It seems the whole area is nothing by eateries, with the main fare being boudin (pronounced ‘bo-deen’) and cracklins – fried pork rinds.  Boudin comes in two forms: primary is a pork and rice sausage.  In Southeast Louisiana, folks take boudin, remove it from its casing, and form it into balls that are then breaded and deep-fried.  Both are excellent, but are an acquired taste.

Entrance to Prejean's Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Entrance to Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Yum yum!  Fried green tomatoes with shrimp sauce, Prelean's Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Yum yum! Fried green tomatoes with shrimp sauce, Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Fried catfish with shrimp sauce, dirty rice and smoked corn, Prelean's Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Fried catfish with shrimp sauce, dirty rice and smoked corn, Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA

Dee Dee and 'Big Al' the Gator, Prelean's Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA.

Dee Dee and ‘Big Al’ the 18′ Gator, Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant, Lafayette, LA.

We ate at a couple of places that were highly recommended by the locals: Prejeans (pronounced ‘prey-johns’) and Don’s (pronounced ‘don’s’) Meats.  Twice we had fried green tomatoes smothered in a shrimp sauce, also fried catfish (the best I have ever had!), also covered in the same shrimp sauce, boudin balls, and shrimp wraps.  Gads…the food was soooo good.  And, if you ate out a couple of times a week, for a week, you most likely would suffer from cardiac arrest:  everything seemed to be fried and covered with some sort of shrimp sauce.  Oh well, you only live once…and then that’s it for y’all.

T-shirt from Cajun Harley Davidson, Scott, LA

T-shirt from Cajun Harley Davidson, Scott (Lafayette), LA

We stopped in at Cajun Harley Davidson in Scott, not too far from Lafayette.  Bought some over-price clothing and also talked with a really cool biker salesman, Sean, who turned us on to the best eateries in the area.  We also talked a lot about Harley Trikes.  This is the largest Harley Dealership we have ever been in…they must have had 100+ new bikes on the floor, and who knows how many more were in their warehouse.  “Get’n stocked for tax season,’ Sean told us.

Don's Boudin and Cracklins Cajun Resturant, Scott, LA.  Damn good food!

Don’s Boudin and Cracklins Cajun Resturant, Scott, LA. Damn good food!

Totasco Visitors Center, Avery Island, LA

Totasco Visitors Center, Avery Island, LA

On a whim, we took off down to Avery Island (about 25 miles south of Lafayette) and visited the Tobasco  manufacturing facility.  They do a pretty good tour: you learn the history of Avery Island (which sits atop a mountain of 97.5% pure salt that is purportedly as deep as Mt. Everest is tall.)  The Tobasco brand is wholly owned by the McIlhenny family; the creation and manufacturing facility is huge, and still uses several of the original buildings.  Anyhow, once you finish the tour (they give you several mini-bottles of their sauce), you can visit their on-site store which features lots and lots of free samples.  Basically, you take a pretzel stick and dip it into your sauce of choice (no ‘double-dipping’…remember George in a Seinfeld episode?) and take a taste.  The first one I tried was called ‘Family Reserve’; it was being re-released in limited quantities.  I put ONE drop (ONE!) on the end of the pretzel.  Two seconds later they had to call the paramedics and sew up the whole it burned in my tongue.  (OK, I exaggerate slightly, but not much.)   It was incredibly HOT.  Dee Dee was most attracted to the tobacsco/cherry and jalapeño ice creams.

Dee Dee at the Tobasco manufacturing facility, Avery Island, LA

Dee Dee at the Tobasco manufacturing facility, Avery Island, LA

Thinking about getting some new "aggressive" tires for the truck, Commercial Tire Store, Scott, LA

Thinking about getting some new “aggressive” tires for the truck, Commercial Tire Store, Scott, LA

Getting the truck washed at a really funky, but functional, hand car wash, Lafayette, LS

Getting the truck washed at a really funky, but functional, hand car wash, Lafayette, LS.  The Boys at the Commercial Tire place told us they would ‘treat us good,’ and then did.

Our last day in the Lafayette area we partook of more of the local cuisine and then sought out a place to have the tires on the truck rotated.  The first place we checked wanted $15 PER TIRE.  We passed on him and found this commercial tire place that told us (over the phone) that they charged $20 for the whole job (pretty much a normal price.)  We headed on over and, yes, it was really a commercial tire place.  I think the smallest tire we saw in their yard was about 5 feet tall (see attached picture of Dee Dee to illustrate this.)  They got us right in; the guy in the office turned us over to a couple of good ol’ boys out in the shop who really know their stuff, and also how to have a good time.  As they were removing and moving the tires around, one of them found this GIANT thorn we had picked up (probably in Corpus Christi, Texas) on the edge of a sidewall.  He told us that technically it was right on the edge of (legally) being repaired, and he was not supposed to fix it (it had poked all the way through), but he went ahead and did it anyway.  These guys were so good and so happy.  I slipped him a ten spot for his courtesy.  When I went back into the office to pay, the manager told me not to worry about it and just be on my way.  So, our already high opinion of the friendly people in the South was elevated another notch or two!  And it was not just these folks…EVERYONE met and talked with was so polite and gracious.

On our way back to the park where we were staying, I managed to miss the last turn, about a mile away from our destination.  ‘No problem,’ says I.  ‘We can keep going strait and still get there.’  (Dee Dee jast sat there and shook here head…she had ‘been here’ before with me.)  Wahl….about 30 minutes later we were still not there, actually about 25 miles away (go figure)…and it took us another 40 minutes to find our way back (using the GPS Guy.)  It was not a totally wasted trip, however, as we got to see a lot of the bayou country surrounding us.  It seems as if most of the newer houses we saw were built of brick.  We surmised that brick houses are harder to blow down in hurricanes and that brick must be cheap in this part of the country.

We departed Lafayette on Saturday morning (January 17) and headed off to New Orleans, where we are now.  The roads continue to suck, and once you hit New Orleans they REALLY, REALLY suck.  Most of the drive here from Lafayette was on causeways through more bayou country swamps.  Despite the roads, it was beautiful drive.

The view from our site, Lake Ponchartrain RV Park, New Orleans, LA

The view from our site, Lake Ponchartrain RV Park, New Orleans, LA  Life is good, the weather is great, there is a good bar on-site and the neighbors are friendly.

So here we are, in exciting and historic New Orleans, Louisiana.  Oh, and one more little thing…THE SEAHAWKS ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!

Stay tuned for the next installment – NEW ORLEANS.