Maravilloso, encantador, amable Puerto Penasco, Mexico!

Maravilloso, encantador, amable Puerto Penasco!

(Translation: Wonderful, delightful, friendly Puerto Penasco, Mexico!)

Un saludo a nuestros lectores dle blog! Esperamos que disfrute de esta ultima (#7) la publicacion de los viajes de este ano…

(Translation: Greetins to our blog readers!  We hope you enjoy this last (#7) posting of this year’s travels.)

Dinosaurs

Wild dinosaurs still roam the desert near Gila Bend, Arizona. We were fortunate to find these fine species near the Shell Station as we were filling Das Boot with gas.

Playa Bonita Entrance

Entrance to the Play Bonita RV Resort in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We spent 10 delightful days here and plan to return again, this time for a month, in February, 2017,

As you many have read in our last Blog installment, our travel plans changed whilst we were staying in Benson, Arizona.  As it turns out, this may have been one of the VERY BEST travel adjustment we have ever made!

Charlie Howling

The first day of our arrival in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Charlie bolted for the beach and sat there, howling in delight! It took about 5 days for his stitches (see last blog installment) to heal. He finally got to enjoy a few days running in the waves. Wahoo!

To make a long story short (well, sorta short), we ended up with this Winnebago-sponsored group of travelers on a caravan to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. We all (36 coaches of various sizes and shapes, almost all Winnebago) met in early February, in Gila Bend, Arizona, for a dinner and orientation.  We met a lot of wonderful people there, many of whom, as the 10-day trip progressed, became some new and very good friends.  (We learned once again not to rely on first impressions.  Many of those changed as we got to know people better.)

Winnie Pano

Our site in the Play Bonita RV Resort was about 75 feet from the beach. There were 36 coaches in our group. All very cool folks.

Anyhow’s, we traveled as a well-healed ‘pack’ and all got across the border (Lukeville, AZ/Sonoyta, Mexico) with minimal hassles by the kind and friendly Mexican Border Guards. Another 65 miles south of the Border, we landed in our very nice, almost-beach-front site at the Playa Bonita RV Park, which is conveniently attached to a nice hotel and beach-front BAR (an important factor for about 95% of this crew.)

Sue and Jerry

Our 2 most excellent trip leaders – Jerry and Sue, along with their neat aussie, Cooper. He and Charlie became best buds. Our 2 assistant leaders (not pictured) were Paul and Kathy. Also the very best!

Our professional hosts handled all the important marshalling details, border crossings, some meals and entertainment, RV Park arrangements, parking, etc. It was all a total piece of cake, thanks to all 4 of these fine folks.  And if you have heard that Mexico is dangerous and not a good place to be, forget it.  Our TOTAL experience was filled with friendly, helpful, smiling people.  We felt welcome and respected.  (And the drinks were cheap, too!)  Better yet, Puerto Penasco – although only 65 miles south of the Border, FEELS like Mexico – border and almost-border towns like Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate, etc. all pale by comparison.

Within 4 hours of our arrival, Dee Dee and I had already committed to return next February for a month…this place is THAT GOOD. We made a deposit and then headed for the bar.  And once again, we beat all 65 of the others to Happy Hour.  We always strive for excellence!

Dee Dee and Sand Dollar Pickers

Dee Dee looking for sand dollars on the beach near Cholla Bay. A magnificent day to be out (but weren’t they all…?) Dee Dee scored several great finds.

The 10 days there found us with many beach walks (Charlie’s most favorite thing), a sunset cruise, sand-dollar picking about 10 miles up the beach at Cholla Bay, walking around the Malecon (Old Port) Plaza, shopping and bargaining with the locals – in the many shops off- and on-the beach, eating at several fine restaurants, playing golf at a magnificent Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course near the Mayan Palace development about 25 miles south of town, etc. Did I mention drinking?  Pardon my exclusion…

Pacifico Can

One of the GREATEST discoveries we made in Mexico was Pacifico in CANS. Never have seen that before. Before we left, there were no more to be found…anywhere. Really.

This ‘tour’ was actually a non-tour. Our hosts got us there and got us back to the States safely and trouble-free.  There were very few scheduled activities except for a daily Happy Hour and six SUPERB meals.  Other than that, you did what you wanted, when you wanted to do it.  Trips, tours etc. were done almost on-the-fly, and you could participate if you were interested.  If you wanted to sit on the beach all day long and suck down Pacifico’s, you could.

Bloody Mary's

Every day started, and most certainly ended, like this. Times like this are what stick and get you coming back…

We met some amazing, incredible, (generally) friendly folks. Many became fast future friends.  Many were from the Mid-West; being the compassionate people we are, we forgave them for that – Republicans or not.  (The ‘Bernie’ sticker on our RV was a point of much discussion.)

So, here we are back in California, on our way north to home in Silver Lake, Washington, wishing we were back in lovely Puerto Penasco. We will be counting the daze until next February 6, when we will be there again.

As usual, and assuming you even bothered to read the above (we have found most of our readers to be visual learners), following are some pics and captions.

Adios y mejores deseos, amigos!

Drink Bill

Our first bar tab – 3 jumbo (double) margarita’s for 180 pesos…$12. No wonder we drink…

 

Us with Steve and Mona Liza

With our new and very good friends, Steve and Mona Liza. We had some great times with them…a couple of characters, just like us.

Randy and Karen

Some more good buddies we made – Randy and Karen – really fun people. We liked them, even though they like Ted Cruz. We all can’t be perfect…

Dee Dee and Hats

Dee Dee doing her favorite thing in life – trying on hats. We bought a lot of stuff from local vendors on the beach in front of our campground. Everyone was soooo friendly, smiling all the time.

Beach Hat People

Portrait of all the ‘Hat People.’ So friendly, and so shy.

Matt and Gloria

This is Matt and Gloria, from Edmonton, Alberta. Matt was a total hoot and so much fun to be around. Gloria was his antithesis, but clearly the one in charge. You always knew when Matt was in the area…believe me!

Shy Taco Guy

The cook at Cabo Taco, an excellent tacos-only place we found. No one spoke English and the menu’s were only in Spanish. Amazing fare, ‘really real,’ and inexpensive. This fellow was extremely shy and would not look up for the picture. A fine young man, indeed.

Dirt Mall Wall Detail

Entering a local place called ‘The Dirt Mall’ (because the road running through it used to be dirt.) Lots of really good shops here – mainly tourist stuff, but if you looked hard you could find some treasures.

Dirt Mall Pots 2

Pots at the Dirt Mall.

Dirt Mall shop guys

Shop owner and employee at this very cool place we found at The Dirt Mall. Super friendly and we think they gave us a good deal…”For you, Senior, very cheap – almost free!”

Wood Carver Guy

An excellent woodworker we met on the beach in front of the Playa Bonita Bar. Extremely skilled (45 years a woodworker) and very shy. We bought this excellent carved ironwood pelican from him. We feel honored to own his work.

Whalebone Spine

Whale spine detail at the Land And Sea Center a bit south of town. En excellent endeavor to sustain the local flora and fauna.

Ugly Fish at CEDO

A species of fish on the endangered species list. Sorry, but I forgot the name. Found at The Land And Sea Center.

Roman the Condo Guy

This is Roman, a cool guy we met at the ‘free’ parking lot near the Malecon. Roman was selling condos at the Mayan Palace, which is located about 25 miles south of town. A neat guy, low pressure and friendly. Cool dude.

Dee Dee and Mr. Fish

Dee Dee and ‘Mr. Fish,’ who ran a fish stand on the Malecon. Extremely friendly – lots of people we met got stuff from him. We ended up with 6 pounds of jumbo shrimp and 3 pounds of scallops. All very fresh.

Harbor Dredge Pipe

The harbor in Puerto Penasco requires constant dredging. This tailings pipe ran from the harbor, around a point and back about 500 feet above the high tide line. It was about 16 inches in diameter.

Kites

Extreme kite flying on (as you can see) and extreme weather day. On the beach in front of our camp site.

Brian at Rey Sol Resturant

One morning we stopped for breakfast at the Rey Sol restaurant, on the way out to the Malecon. We always chat it up with waiters to find out their name and what they know about the area. Usually we encounter people with names like Jose, Roberto, Juan, Pablo, Jamie, Jesus, Estaban, etc. Meet Brian.

Boat Guy and Dee Dee

Dee Dee and the boat captain on the sunset cruise we took. (Seen one, seen them all…) Neat guy, crappy margaritas. No buzzzzz….

Beach T-Shirt Guy

The t-shirt guy, on the beach in front of our camp site. We bought two. Got really good deal, “For you Senior, very cheap…almost free…”

Dirt Mall Frogs

Frog pots at The Dirt Mall.

Beach Mobile Guy

The Mobile Guy, on the beach in front of our camp site.

Beach Table Guy

This guy made some beautiful hand-painted snack tables. We bought one. (Hell, we ended up buying A LOT of stuff on the beach.) All of it ‘A very good deal. Very cheap…almost free…”

Beach Scene

Late evening clouds and beach, in front of our camp site.

Steve and Monkey

Our new friend, Steve, with his latest beach-purchase. Never buy anything when you have been drinking…

Playa Bonita Resturant Head

You guessed it…then men’s restroom in the Playa Bonita bar…

Nick and Karen

More new friends, Nick and Karen, from Morro Bay. Funny and fun.

Gol Guys

My great golfing buddies when we all played the superb Jack Nicklaus course about 25 miles south of town – Terry, me, Doug and Dave…very cool guys.

Dirt Mall Pots 1

More stuff found at The Dirt Mall.

Us with Bev and Marilyn

Once we got back to Yuma, we met up with some long-time RV friends, Marilyn and Bev. We ALWAYS have such a fun time with these folks. We manage to cross paths every year, or so.

Big Ass Pipe in Gila Bend

I just could not leave out the photograph of this GIANT pipe I discovered in the Shell gas station parking lot in Gila Bend. It just looked very cool.

Moonrise ofver Beach

And finally, what a way to end this Blog but with a ‘Moon Rise Over The Beach and Ocean, Puerto Penasco, Mexico.” El Solongo, mis amigos…

Bio-Diesel, Food Poisoning, Etc…

 

Mo's Restaurant in Florence

Mo’s Restaurant in Florence

Red if Fred's illegitimate son

Red is Fred’s illegitimate son

The beginning of installment #2 of documenting our travels to Florida (and back…) finds us in Florence, Oregon.  After getting settled into our campground, about 7 miles north of town, we headed in to fuel our truck and us.  First stop was Mo’s – a restaurant that sits right on the Siuslaw River and near the beginning of the expansive Oregon Dunes area.  We had been here a couple of times before so pretty much knew what to expect.  We did take a bit of a risk; the last time we ate here the food sucked (clam fritters that were more filler than clam.)  But, this time dinner was actually pretty good.  Seating is essentially a bunch of picnic tables and (hard) wooden benches.  Dinner was pretty good – and the clam chowder was excellent.  The fish tacos were pretty good, at least by Oregon/Mexican food standards.  Not exactly like traditional fish tacos, but close enough.

Leave detail

Leaf detail

Tree detail

Tree detail

Next, we headed off to the Safeway gas station to top off our tank and use our Rewards Points to get a 20-cent-per-gallon discount.  As I was BS-ing with the gas-pumper-guy, he asked me if I REALLY wanted to use bio-diesel which, according to him, was regular diesel cut with 15% used restaurant cooking oil – the discards of the stuff used to make things like French fry’s.  He said that they had received numerous customer complaints about loss of power, diminished mileage and clogged fuel filters (which in our truck cost about $100 to replace – parts and labor.)  He actually suggested we go down the road to Fred Meyer and get some ‘real’ dieseI – for 2 cents less per gallon (before our discount.) But, we took a risk and had him top off the tank to the tune of adding only about 10 gallons.

Turns out his observations seemed to be correct.  The next day as we headed back inland to Seven Feather, near Canyonville, I noticed a slight decrease in pulling power up hills, as well as about a 10-15% decrease in mileage.  So, we learned something…no more bio-diesel for us.  In the future, we will be careful to use only ULSD (ultra low sulfur diesel).  As a footnote, after we filled up again at Seven Feathers, things seem to return to normal.  Lesson learned.

Not the same as the movie...except for the 'gluttony' part...

Not the same as the movie…except for the ‘gluttony’ part…

Dee Dee getting The Bird, or is The Bird getting Dee Dee

Dee Dee getting The Bird, or is The Bird getting Dee Dee

Tree and fence, Seven Feathers

Tree and fence, Seven Feathers

We decided to have dinner at the Seven Feathers Casino (I made enough at the tables earlier to pay for it.)  Everything seemed OK – until about 1 AM when I awoke from a very weird dream with severe stomach cramps.  I spent most of the remainder of the night/early morning in the head.  (Dee Dee was fine, probably because she had a different dinner than I did.)

Topping the Siskiyou Summit

Topping the Siskiyou Summit

Next stop was about 260 miles down The Five freeway to Corning, CA, to the Rolling Hills Casino.  On the way there we crested the Siskiyou Summit and battled high cross-winds from Yreka to Weed.  Made for some tense driving.  Friends had told up about the campground there (at Rolling Hills) and said it was a pretty good deal.  Turned out to be excellent advice.  Friendly staff, inexpensive ($28) and well maintained.  Only issue happened that evening – after dark – when I was out walking Charlie on the perimeter of the park, where there was a lot of open space.  It was raining, and he was running off-leash.  This woman who was walking down the road (let’s call her ‘The Dog Nazi’) started giving me a load of crap.  “That dog is supposed to be on a leash!”  I restrained myself and did not say everything I felt like saying, but still got my point across to her regarding what I felt about her remarks.  She walked away mumbling.  At first I thought she was a campground employee, but it turns out she was just a nosey, busy-body who was just staying the night.

At the Oasis Grill, just north of Woodland, one of the best breakfast places we have ever been to

At the Oasis Grill, just north of Woodland, one of the best breakfast places we have ever been to

We are now in Modesto, after surviving the ‘highway construction gauntlet’ between North Stockton and Modesto – what a mess, and fairly stressful when you are pulling a 5th-wheel, competing with big-ass semi-trucks for road space.  We are lucky to have Al and Linda Cover as good friends; we are staying at their place in the country…we call it ‘Big Al’s Sheep Ranch and Campground.’

Steve, Big Al, Bob and Bud, long-time golf partners

Steve, Big Al, Bob and Bud, long-time golf partners (We all missed you, Bill, and wish you a swift and full recovery.)

Dennis, one of my very best Modesto friends

Dennis, one of my very best Modesto friends

Having a great time visiting many old friends, playing golf and reminiscing about ‘the good old days.’  I really was disappointed not being able to see my really good buddy, Bill, who has been quite ill as of late.

It has been pretty much non-stop stuff-to-do since we got here, and a lot of fun.  We really miss living in this great, friendly, community.   It’s amazing how Modesto has grown – from under 55,000 when we moved here in 1974 to over 203,000 today.  The sprawl is incredible.  And the College (MJC) has also experienced explosive growth, with many new facilities since I left in 2002.  The West Campus in particular has grown by leaps and bounds.  Dee Dee has really enjoyed seeing the several folks she worked with at the Frito Lay plant, and hanging out with her buddy, Dorlene.

(There are a few more things to relate about Modesto, but I will include those in the next installment, as this one is starting to get pretty wordy.)

We are here for a couple of more days, then we will be heading off to Bakersfield, Dagget (where there is a free catch-and-release pond in the campground) and then Las Vegas, where we will be for 4 days, over Thanksgiving, staying near Fremont Street – our favorite Las Vegas place-to-be.

But that’s the next installment…

And Away We Go…

And Away We Go…

DCIM100GOPRO

Finally.  We are on the road to Florida, with many stops planned before we get there in February.

We got the house closed up (well, except for leaving Bert and Ernie, our loyal pit bulls, on the premises…) and departed Silver Lake at 9 AM in 27 degree F, clear and sunny weather.  As usual, we hit the first major obstacle, getting out of our driveway, within the first 20 seconds of the trip.  We made it up the first try, which sometimes does not happen.  Dylan and Charlie were settled into the back seat and ready for their next big adventure.  We just had to be careful not to say ‘beach’ or ‘ball’ in front of Charlie.

jet crop comp

We took The 5 thru Portland and eventually connected with Highway 18, which we followed all the way into Lincoln City.   As a side note, as we were cruising down 18 just SW of McMinnville, we were startled (I mean STARTLED!) to see a Boeing 747 parked in the middle of a plowed field.  Closer inspection revealed it was ‘parked’ in front of the Evergreen Air Museum, a large and impressive place.  If you are an aircraft aficionado, then this place would be like dying and going to heaven.  IT’S HUGE.  And believe me, that 747, along with another one sitting on the roof of one of several museum buildings, will definitely get your attention.

deedee sign

deedee comp

After a brief stop, we continued on to the Logan Road RV Park in Lincoln City.  This place is affiliated with the Chinook Winds Casino, owned by the Confederate Tribes of Siletz Indians.  The RV park advertises itself as being ‘adjacent’ to the Casino.  (As Dee Dee says, ‘adjacent’ is the operative word.)  As soon as we pulled into the place, I knew it was not going to be (anything) like we had envisioned.  All concrete, narrow spaces.  But, clean and a HUMONGO dog run that pleased Charlie to no ‘end.’  And, Norman, the campground host was one of the friendliest guys you would want to meet.  The Wi-Fi in the parked was pretty much non-existent as the many long-term renters all seemed to be streaming movies from Netflix all at one time.  We just gave up on it. They do have a free shuttle that will take you back and forth.  We tried it once and it was actually pretty good.  They will also take you out to the Tribe-operated golf course for free…but Bob skipped it…too COLD to play.

casino mirror comp

bob casino comp

The Chinook Winds Casino is huge and not too bad.  Very nice bar overlooking the ocean, with decent food.  (If you want to sit near the windows, you have to order food with your drink.  Even though there were 20+ window tables and only 2 were occupied.  And, the drinks are watered…so if you want any kind a buzz, order a double.  Our first waitress (we ate lunch there 2 times) was pretty snarky, but the 2nd time our new waitress was great.  The Casino is 19 years old and beginning to show its age, but it’s still in pretty good shape.   And, they do bring in some big name entertainment (Willie Nelson and Foreigner, for example) at very reasonable ticket prices.  If you are into slots (we’re not), there are only about a billion machines there.  As well as an ample supply of blackjack and crap tables.  I had a blackjack dealer who was ranked as one of America’s Biggest Jerks – total butt-head.  Even so, I walked away relatively unscathed after only about 45 minutes of play.  Dee Dee’s favorite thing was the free Pepsi and chocolate cake.

charlie beach

crab comp

Charlie ran his ass off on the beach…we took him down 3 times and at the end of each session his tongue was dragging on the ground.  That dog will chase a tennis ball until he has a coronary.

We explored Lincoln City a bit; Dee Dee picked up an ‘authentic’ glass Japanese fishing ball.  BTW, Lincoln City has a cool tourist thing going where they deposit – above the high-tide line – glass balls, and other artifacts, made by local artists.  We did not see any.  Sigh…

Lincoln City, along with most other towns on the northern Oregon Coast, is an incredible compression of humanity and traffic congestion.  If you are looking for not-too-many-people-and-no-traffic, head further south, at least past Newport.

Florence Beach comp

After 2 days, we continued south on Highway 101 to Florence, Oregon, a delightful down, far less-congested than Lincoln City (which we will skip – with no regret – the next trip.)  There are many, many Oregon State Parks on the way to Florence from Lincoln City.  Next time we will do more careful checking and try to stay at one, or more, of them.

So here we now sit, at the Hecata Beach RV Park, as I type.  This is a wonderful place; friendly office staff, lots of trees, very quiet, and only about .2 of a mile from beach access – and it’s a very nice, very dog friendly, beach.  Charlie met several new friends…or should I say they met him.  He was pretty much fixated on his tennis ball.

I will mention again that the Wi-Fi at the Logan Road RV Park more than sucked.  Not the case here in Florence.  Good, strong signal.  (Hence the 3-day delay in our first blog installment.)

Tomorrow we turn away from the Oregon Coast had head overland for The 5, and then south to Canyonville to the Seven Feathers RV Park, one of our favorite places.  Nice casino, too.  After that, off to someplace in Northern California, with maybe a brief stop in Ashland, Oregon, to see an old friend.

Stay tuned…

(As a side note:  our posts to this Blog depend on our ability to connect to the Internet.  Crappy WiFi = No Communication.  So, we may go a few days between posts, either because there was not that much to report, or we could not get online to make a post.  So, please be patient.)