Monday, January 29, 2007


Las Jaibas RV park, where we are staying, is on the far northern end of Mazatlan. A beautiful walking beach is a block away, and the park has added an excellent new outdoor restaurant this year, so it is easy to hang around here or nearby, but we spend a good part of each day exploring.

The bus that stops right in front of the park travels from here, the far north, to the cruise ship and ferry terminals at the far southern end of Mazatlan. We travel south through our fairly quiet beachfront area, swing around the big marina, through the bustling, tourist filled “Golden Zone”, and along several miles of the oceanside Malecon before the bus turns east into the heart of “Centro” to the big central mercado.

Today we hopped off just past the mercado, and took the short walk into Mazatlan Viejo, the lovely old Mazatlan.

Here is Odel on a cobbled sidewalk that started at street level, then sloped high and higher until we were way up high.

I took this photo of Odel in the lobby of one of the old hotels along the waterfront (I love the worn leather rockers).

The streets here are narrow and the sidewalks high, crowded by the elegant facades of the old buildings. The neighborhood is a mix of residences and business - restaurants with open-air dining, interesting galleries and shops, bakeries, cafes… a great place to roam around.


Yesterday we took off in the jeep to explore an RV park about 40 miles north of here. We’ve been curious about it since our visit to Mazatlan last year when, following directions we got off the internet, we saw what was supposed to be the turn to the town of Celestino.

Imagine yourself driving a big bus down a four lane highway at 60 miles per hour. Now picture that highway raised, on top of a three foot high levee with sloping shoulders. Get ready, here comes your turn… 90 degrees to the right, down the sloping shoulder, onto a bumpy dirt road. Maximum recommended speed of about 5 miles per hour??? WE sure didn’t try that turn!

So we went back in the Jeep. The RV park was very pleasant and very remote. This is what the last three or four miles of the road looked like! It was nice to visit in the Jeep, and nice that we feel no desire to visit in Scoopy.


We had a beautiful day for walking the Malecon recently. This is one of the little palapa seafood restaurants near the launch site of the small fishing boats. We walked all along the curving bay from the far tip; 75 degrees with a slight breeze off the ocean. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Yesterday (Friday) we had lunch with a “virtual” friend. I have corresponded sporadically with Lee Jacobs for a year, and have followed her life and whereabouts on the Escapees chat forums and on her website . Lee has a casita here in Mazatlan, and we met for lunch at a seafood restaurant she recommended to us last year, El Memin. Ceviche tostadas (crab and shrimp) and Odel’s favorite, camarones empanazada (butterflied, lightly breaded, fried shrimp). Eat, eat, eat… with walks in between.

During lunch, Odel mentioned his search for a splitter, another step in his ongoing attempt to hook us up to satellite TV in time for the Super Bowl. We had our Jeep; Lee had the expert “local” knowledge, so after lunch we set off to find an electronics store.

The search took us right into the heart of the “centro”, the crowded, busy, narrow streets of “downtown”. Yikes!

We found the store and got the splitter but of more interest was the big store across the street - a ranch supply. I took these photos there - I had never seen a display of machetes like this. On sale, too.


I think this is Mexico's idea of the Gringo tourist's fantasy. This building is on the southern end of the "Golden Zone", the area of Mazatlan where tourist packages are booked. From here, you can walk at least a mile south along the Malecon, the wide boulevard and sidewalk adjacent to the beach... and into the heard of Mexican Mazatlan.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Slowing, slowing, slowing doooowwwwnnnnn...

We are well established in the land of Manana now, so I am not quite as current with the blog as I have been in the past. Well, that and the fact that I still have not worked out the Wi-Fi problem, so the entire process is a little more complicated.

This is what our little RV park looked like early in the morning of our first sunny day. I am facing the lane out to the street and down to the beach. Hints of a great day to come, no?

Odel played golf today with a group from a different RV park where we visited friends the other day, while I took the bus to learn the route, got kicked off at the end, got lost, found my way and practiced quite a bit of Spanish. :)

We are looking forward to the arrival of my great friend Becky in a week, and our friends Jeanie and Ray for a day in February. Don't have any fun winter vacation planned? Come on down!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


It dawned cool and cloudy in Mazatlan this morning - cool meaning that it was 68 degrees inside Scoopy without turning on the heat - with our bedroom windows open. YAY! But, to not rub it in too much, it IS cloudy, windy and in the 60's today. Anyone here on vacation looking to go home with a tan... not gonna' happen.

We took the 8 peso bus downtown to the mercado first thing in the morning. One of our neighbors here at Las Jaibas was heading to the "Shrimp Lady Street" to stock up on a couple kilos of shrimp before he heads back to the US at the end of the week, so we went along to browse. BIG shrimp for $90 pesos per kilo (around $9 US). We'll be back.

After we checked out the B&B where my friend Becky will be staying, Casa de Leyendas, we strolled through Mazatlan Viejo (the old, original Mazatlan) until we found a promising restaurant for lunch. Here Odel and I tasted the BEST mole I have ever had... the mole of legend, the mole that shows why it is so revered. It was indescribable. It was on Odel's Enchiladas de Mole, which is what I want for lunch from now on.

I could go on and on about food, of course (about the HUGE pineapple we bought, for instance), but I'll save that for later.

Instead, here is one more quintessentially Mexican image. In the office, where I am working on my computer, is the "general use" computer where we can all check our email. Somehow, the image on the terminal turned sideways (how this happened, I don't know). So, they picked up the terminal and turned it on it's side! Everyone just uses it that way, as though it is completely normal. I love it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


This is me, during a walk on the beach this afternoon.

This is the photo my cousin Rosanna sent me this morning of our usual "site" on her ranch south of Benson, Arizona. That is why I am smiling in the other picture!


Check out the size of this camarone (shrimp). We bought a kilo for $170 pesos this morning - just over two pounds for under $17.00. The next size smaller is around $6 per pound. We haven't tried the giant size yet; we plan to butterfly them and cook 'em on the grill.


Wow, did we have a thunderstorm last night! If we have experienced heavier rain before, I don't remember it. In the far distance, we could hear thunder, but mostly the sound of the deluge drowned out everything else. We woke up this morning to beautiful sunshine and bright, freshly washed colors. And the wonderful, fresh, smell!

The main street through San Carlos was full of puddles when I took an early walk to the beach for this shot, looking towards San Carlos, stretching along the shore.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Totonaka RV Park is not the nicest RV park we have seen in Mexico, but it is better than many. Still, you can't compare it to U.S. standards. Because of this, one of the many entertainments here is to watch the afternoon arrivals.

This is the main entrance to Totonaka. Everyone pulls in next to the office, gets a map of the park, then heads out to find which of the empty sites will work for them. As did we, newcomers wander the park looking for a space large enough and flat enough to accommodate their rig... and then check out the utilities.

This is a photo of our utility box. It doesn't inspire much confidence, does it??

When we arrived, after hooking up our electric and water, Odel hooked up the cable to what appeared to be an extra line. Immediately (it was a Saturday and football was on), guys poured out of their rigs...! Oopsy, guess that wasn't a free line afterall.

In no time, the "neighborhood" had it worked out and everyone, including us, had a "picture" of one sort or another. All of our US network stations have a ghostly overlay of whatever is on CNN, so anytime the action is slow and poignant, we can read the ghost letters of, for instance, the latest CNN celebrity gossip on the faces of the Grey's Anatomy interns. Pretty funny!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


We come to Mexico for the adventure, for the relatively warmer winter temperatures, and... FOR THE FOOD. Last time we visited San Carlos, our favorite taco stand was "J.J.'s Why Not?"... which seemed to be the ONLY taco stand in town (a disappointment after the GREAT street food in Alamos). This year, JJ has opened another stand, "J.J.'s Fish Tacos", right along our walking route through town.

We stopped there for a snack today, and you can see by his grin that Odel was happily awaiting his order. Check out his lunch: shrimp tacos with fresh salsa, cabbage, chilis and fresh lime. Ummmm.

Paper or plastic? Instead of paper plates, J.J. slips a normal plate into a plastic bag. Slide it off when the diner leaves... no washing required.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Yesterday was our shopping day, and we began by visiting the big Ley Supermercado on the north edge of Guaymas, the nearest city. Ley is similar to a super Walmart or super Target - they sell groceries along with household goods, cosmetics, books, stationery, etc. It is a huge store, and this particular Ley is in a major shopping mall, so there is much to see.

The parking lot was crowded and cars go in all directions. Older men in uniform jackets are stationed around; they smile encouragingly when you select a space and pull in, and hover in the area to provide assistance when you return. Our “attendant” remembered our car, held our cart as Odel unloaded and, after accepting a tiny tip (a couple pesos, under fifty cents), directed Odel as he backed out of the space. Another of the many, many ways Mexicans make a little job out of nothing.

I love the produce section of the Ley. At least 15 feet of the display case is filled with fresh chilis of all kinds. Fresh hominy is displayed in plastic bags. Most things I recognize, but many I don’t… check out these bins of beautifully colored whatevers.

In another corner of the store, the tortilleria counter has a long line. Fresh tortillas, corn or flour, come off long conveyer belts to be stacked on scales and sold hot by the kilo. Nearby are deli cases of innumerable chorizos and white Mexican cheeses in all shapes and sizes. Great browsing!


There were are few things on our list that we didn’t find at the Ley so, when we got back to San Carlos, we visited Tony, another entrepreneur who saw a need and filled it.

Tony brings his selection of foods to a covered, outdoor site in San Carlos each weekday and does a VERY brisk business. He speaks English, a big draw for the snowbirds, and brings a beautiful, handpicked selection, everything fresh: vegetables, fruits, juices, breads (banana bread, too), filleted fish, salsa, a bit of meat… His prices are much steeper than Ley or the tiny market in town, but his quaint setup, astute selection, and efficient service attract us gringos who find his prices lower than we would pay at home.


Here is one more example of the ingenuity of the Mexican entrepreneur: as we unloaded our groceries, the newspaper vendor came around on his motorcycle.

The two bags on the back are full of the current USA Today. Amazing! He sells them for $2.00, for a $.75 paper. We bought one, and we weren’t the only ones.

By the way, if you click on this photo (or any other), you can see it enlarged... this guy is a hoot!

Another vendor comes to the park to sell fresh fish and shrimp - we’ll buy that, too, when we see him.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


If the weather forecast is right, we have 3 or 4 days of cold weather coming down from the north - so we made sure to take advantage of this fine day. Here I am on the beachfront walkway. Our RV park is across the street to my left.


We’re here! We arrived at Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos at 2 pm on Saturday; we made GREAT time since we didn’t need to stop at KM 21 to handle any paperwork. If you don’t have your visas and the hologram for your vehicles before crossing the border, KM 21 (21 kilometers south of the border) is where you stop to handle the paperwork.

As we passed by, the ENTIRE parking lot was jammed with rigs - motor homes towing cars, trucks towing 5th wheels, truck campers, trucks and trailers, cars - including the caravan we had seen parked near the Walmart in Nogales. The line of people was a long serpentine, and we know from experience that each person or couple takes 15 or 20 minutes to process. We were SO glad we had done the paperwork in Naco, where it took all of 10 minutes. After a 2 minute inspection by the customs agent, we breezed on through.


This is a typical stretch of Mex 15, the major highway from Nogales to Mazatlan. It is paved, two lanes in both directions… a little narrower than the standard US freeway lane and, as you can see, virtually NO shoulder. Still, it is 100% better than the average Mexican road, and it is great to have two lanes in our direction. Often, the road runs on a raised levee, very dangerous if you stray off the non-existent shoulder. We saw one semi trailer upside down on the side of the highway, with the tractor still upright - the serious consequence of the rear tires leaving the roadway.

Some of the time, Mex 15 is a toll road, and we will pay about $300 US in tolls over the course of our trip. Though we could travel around the toll booths on the free roads, which go through villages, towns, and cities, we pay the toll for two reasons: there is WAY less traffic on the toll section, so less chance of an accident involving another vehicle; and we feel the smoother toll road saves us more than the $300 fees in wear and tear on our heavy motorhome. The topes (horrendous speed bumps) and potholes on the free roads can inflict serious damage.


Check this out! Coming north, all traffic has to stop at a checkpoint… commercial traffic in the left lane, everyone else (including RV’s) in the right. This is the line of truck traffic waiting to be searched… it extends about 3 miles! It was like this last year when we passed, and we were grateful on the return that we get to use the right lane.


The Fisher-Bakers and the Gruelles will recognize this place… It is the Pemex station where we all spent our first night in Mexico when we traveled south together last year (photo far right).


It was a smooth and easy drive from our lunch stop to San Carlos, and by 2 pm we arrived at Totonaka RV Park. Arrival and setup at Totonaka RV Park is not a quick process, as it takes awhile to scout out the available sites to find one long and level enough for Scoopy, with a working electrical hookup and a reasonably intact cable hookup (yes, we get cable here - 3 networks from Tucson plus CNN).

By 3:15 we hit the beach. YAY! These pelicans were fishing at water’s edge.

Today’s driving stats:
Mileage: 260
Moving average speed: 50 mph - WOW, that is great for Mexican roads!
Total moving time: 5:11 hours.
3 Tolls: $329 pesos (around $32 US)

Saturday, January 13, 2007


It's a few minutes after 7:00 am and half of the "neighbors" have left, including our closest pair, one of which was a 5th wheel pulled by a diesel pickup truck, the noisest vehicle made. So we are definitely AWAKE and UP. We'll be off by 8 am, happy that we have all our paperwork completed so we have no need to make the stop as we cross the border. It's a cool, cloudy day, calm day, perfect for driving.

Friday, January 12, 2007


We're back in the same "site" at the Nogales, AZ, Walmart that we had last year prior to our trip into Mexico. This year we are missing our friends... drycamping in the WalMart parking lot is not nearly as exciting without them

We do have drycamping "neighbors" here, ranging from a 40' motorhome to a Class B camper van. One of them (not parked too close to us, fortunately) has an 8' tall wooden cross with a wheel on the bottom end, and the inscription "Jesus Loves You", leaning against it. Guess they aren't good candidates for a Happy Hour get-together.

A last-minute shopping trip in the Nogales Walmart is a perfect warm-up for Mexico. While customers all around us were conversing in Spanish, we bought avocados 3 for $1. Our clerk spoke to us in English, while an excited group of Spanish-speaking clerks tried to solve a problem for a Spanish-speaking customer, with our clerk tossing in a few Spanish words every so often. I was thrilled to realize I knew some of the words. :)

Here is the best thing about spending the night in the parking lot of this Walmart: We have 5 bars on our Verizon aircard, and are connected to Broadband. Whoosh, I am working at lightning speed.

We will cross the border tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and plan to be at Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos by the end of the day Saturday. If their WiFi is working, we'll be in touch. Adios!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Today was our last day at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, and we spent most of it checking our separate and joint "To Do" lists. Just about everything is done to prepare for our trip to Mexico, though our final grocery list continues to grow as we panic over favorite foods we suddenly feel we can't live without. We keep reminding each other that there ARE grocery stores in Mexico.

I took a break from the final preparations as twilight approached, and walked out into the desert to take this shot of Golden Gate Pass from Tucson Mountain Park. Another beautiful end to a day in Tucson.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Day Across the Border

From the left: Odel, Frank, Ray, me (Laurie), Sydney, Ron, Carol and Rosanna

To get in the mood for our upcoming trip to Mexico, we went with friends and family across the border south of Douglas, AZ, to Agua Prieta. We have a favorite seafood restaurant there, La Palapa - and it gave us a chance to change some dollars to pesos in a Mexican bank.

Our question? Why can you get delicious, fresh fish and shrimp a 15 minute walk across the Mexico border for a very reasonable price... and NO similarly reasonably priced, fresh seafood in Bisbee, Naco or any of the other border towns on the Arizona side of the border??


To get in the mood for our trip to Mexico, we went with friends and family across the border to Agua Prieta. We have a favorite seafood restaurant there, La Palapa - and it gave us a chance to change some dollars to pesos.

Our question? Why can you get delicious, fresh fish and shrimp a 15 minute walk across the Mexico border for a very reasonable price... and NO similarly reasonably priced, fresh seafood in Bisbee, Naco or any of the other border towns on the Arizona side of the border??

Monday, January 8, 2007

We All Worked Hard

Everyone had a job to do on Sunday.

Odel put the finishing touches on the cleaning of Scoopy; all signs of our windy week at Sidewinder are gone.

Luna loaded her coat up with Tucson dust, for deposit indoors.

And I spent hours poking at our blog, trying to figure out why I can't add "Comments", so you would be able to communicate with us on the blog. I am at a loss. I began a NEW blog and had no trouble with the comments feature, but I reluctantly will give up on activating this. You'll just have to email me!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Let's talk FOOD.

It's Sunday, and I am not expecting any excitement today. This gives me a chance to write about one of my favorite topics - FOOD!

Carol Schneider is a real inspiration to anyone who likes to cook (and eat). I have incorporated her recipe for Roasted Olives into my "Frequent Favorites" file of recipes, and she showed us another delicious little tidbit for Laura's birthday potluck. If you have wondered how to use fennel (one of the oddball bulbs in the produce section), here is her simple preparation:

Slice the fennel bulb crosswise in thin (no more than 1/4 inch) slices. Separate them and drizzle with good olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt (maybe an exotic sea salt you got in your Christmas stocking). That's it! Simple, delicious, and interesting.

Here is my other favorite new recipe, from the back of the Trader Joe's 1 pound bag of washed, torn, mixed greens... the very simplest way to buy a good mix of healthy (don't let that word scare you away) greens.

Trader Joe's Simple Greens - Serves 4 as a side dish

1 lb. Trader Joe's Southern Greens Blend
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 T. olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup tomato juice
salt, pepper, and marjoram to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil in a pot large enough to hold greens. Add vegetable broth and tomato juice. Bring to a boil.

Add greens and seasonings. Cover and cook over low heat for 35 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

FYI, here are the changes I made, some inadvertent:

- I don't keep green onions on hand, so I omitted them.

- Instead of tomato juice, I used TJ's Garden Patch, which I keep around to drink, so it was handy.

- Oops, I didn't read the recipe very well... I forgot the marjoram.

- Also, my usual method for cooking greens is a little different and, since I wasn't reading the recipe very well, I used my "known" method: saute the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the greens, a couple big handfuls at a time, stirring until they shrink way down. Add more greens, and stir until they shrink (I am sure there is a more suitable culinary term for the fact that greens collapse to a tiny fraction of their raw size when cooked). Keep this up until all the greens are sauteed (and therefore fit in your pan!). After that, I added the liquids and brought it all to a simmer.

When I made this while boondocking, to keep the pans to be washed at a minimum, I put four boneless smoked pork chops on top of the greens in the pan after the broth was simmering. They warmed up and imparted a nice smoky flavor to the greens. My Memphis-born husband, Odel, couldn't get enough. This dish would be great with cornbread.

Okay, now I am hungry...

Saturday, January 6, 2007

A Cold Saturday in Tucson

We awoke to a frosty Saturday morning, with a clear blue sky. As I drank my morning coffee, two hot-air balloons appeared over the desert, slowly heading our way.
As they got closer, we all hurried out of our rigs, some people still in pajamas. I tossed on some clothes and followed Odel outside in time to see this balloon "park" nearby.
Once the ground crew arrived, the balloon was deflated. It reminded me of Gulliver, tied to the ground.
Here it looks more like a Chinese dragon, with the people on the outside instead of the inside. It's the deflated balloon, being packed into its protective bag.
Odel joined the group for the final packing. The man in the red jacket is the boss/owner of Fleur de Tucson, the balloon company; they attend the Albuquerque Balloon Festival each year. Since we hope to attend for our first time this year, we struck up a conversation... he said they will be looking for a few extra "crew".

Excitement over, we headed off for our round of Saturday errands.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Back to Desert Trails

It was raining when we awoke in Gila Bend. Odel immediately ran outside to soap up the sides of Scoopy so the rain could rinse off the suds and dirt. The rain stopped just before we packed up and hit the road.

Many RV'ers are familiar with this view, heading east on I-8 towards Casa Grande. The dryer weather was short lived... we hit rain again at Eloy and chased it into Tucson.

The rain had turned to sprinkles when we arrived at Desert Trails RV Park, our favorite commercial desert RV park. We stayed here for a month in our first year of travel, and come back for a week or so a couple times each year. The owners, Pericles and Kyoko, are a big draw, but we really come back for the beautiful location and great hiking.

After the rain quit, we took a walk out out front door into the desert, where the trails adjoin Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park West. You can hike for miles, with great views in all directions!

Our best sunset photos ALL come from Desert Trails.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Cleanup Today, Tucson Tomorrow

We left our Boomer gathering on Sidewinder Road this morning around 9:15 am, to keep our appointment in Yuma for a front end alignment on Scoopy. We were carrying around 20 pounds of dust.

The alignment was done by 11 am (Dick, you were right... we were way out of alignment and need new front shocks within the year). One more stop, for propane, and we were on our way east.

Boomers, if you are reading this, cover your eyes. We landed in a lovely, long, wide, FHU site at Augie's Quail Trail RV park in Gila Bend around 2 pm. While I vacuumed all the dust out of Scoopy, Odel took several loads of laundry to the washers and thoroughly washed and vacuumed the Jeep. I took a LONG, HOT shower, gallons and gallons of water.... Oh, it felt so, so, good!

Boondocking with our friends is fun, and the feeling of self sufficiency is rewarding. AND, it makes full hookups feel SO luxurious!

If the wind is calm tomorrow, we plan to give the exterior of Scoopy a good scrubbing before we head to Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson. See you next year, Boomerville.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

What the New Year Blew In

After a perfectly windless midnight celebration, the new year blew in with a blast! Our New Year's Day potluck was cancelled; smaller gatherings took place in front of the televised football games - INSIDE.

We turn our catalytic heater on when we go to bed - which means we crack a couple windows open to replace the oxygen consumed by the heater. The date above is written in the dust on the windowsill. Oops, guess I should have cracked a downwind window!

Our travel log was on the dining table. Everything within 6 feet of the window looked about like this after a night of strong wind, which hasn't let up. We're all getting cabin fever, beginning to check maps and calendars. We have plans through tomorrow night, but will be leaving Thursday morning for Tucson.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Parting Shots

Awaiting the New Year

Fireworks* by Barry Kessler.

(*No rigs were damaged during these festivities.)