30 November ‘09 No sooner had I gotten a make-shift cover on our refrigerator vent when the rain started. Some in the park said that we had over 4 inches of rain falling last night and this morning. I’ll say one thing, it did come down pretty hard late this morning. I put the canopy out this morning so that we could go out onto the patio and it also gave me a dry area to watch through the outside panel to the refrigerator. I was hoping that it would be dry inside, but after awhile it did start to drip and get the base flooring for the refrigerator wet. It didn’t pour in, but it did get wet. I knew we still had a problem up there. There is a raised portion all around the vent that is set up to stop the rain from crossing the roof and dropping into the flooring, but that small retaining wall was broken off at one of the 4 corners at the time the tree did the damage. Now in order to stop the water I went back up on the roof with one of my socks filled with sand…a regular sand bag. Well it did the trick (that is for now anyway). I’ve got additional work up there ahead for me, but for the next couple of days…let it rain. We spent most of the day hid out in Sol and Carol’s 5th wheel playing dominos. Louise and I had never played dominos before and we all had a good time. Carol ended up winning by 2 points over Sol. Louise and I came in far behind…what a bummer.
_29 November ‘09
Driving into Mazatlan we encountered trees lining each side of the two lanes on our side of the medium. Unfortunately the lanes were narrow and the tree branches were low… Well guess what? Yesterday I found one end of our awning needed tightening, but once on the ladder I found that we had lost the roof vent cap for our refrigerator. That meant we had a large hole on the roof. Without that vent cap we would have the possibility of birds camping out in the flue and we could have a magnate to draw the rain in and flood us out below. Well it wasn’t that I didn’t have anything else to do today, but I did have to try and fix it. First thing this morning I went over to see Sol and beg him to give me a lift to Home Depot. I was hoping that I could find something there that might work for the lost cover. Louise and Carol thought that was a good time for them to visit the grocery store, so we were able to kill a couple of birds with one stone. The vent cover was about 28 inches long, 6 inches high and 8 inches wide. Now to find something to work… I walked the aisles of Home Depot at least twice with no luck and then I wondered out into the garden department. Sitting on one of the shelves was a plastic planter…22X9X7. Well that wasn’t the dimensions I was looking for but I thought it might have merit. I did need at least 28 inches in length so that meant that I would have to get two and marry them together. The rest of the dimensions I could make work (I thought…). Getting everything back to the coach, I took a hacksaw and cut one of the ends off of each planter and then caulked and screwed them back together. I also had to drill some additional holes in the sides of the new vent cover to allow the gas fumes to exit from the refrigerator (although there was already some holes in the bottom of the planters to allow water out..) and then I had to drill 4 additional holes for mounting to the roof. Well it’s up there, not completely done, but it’s up there… It was hot and humid the whole time I was working, and the rest of the crew were sitting by the POOL and enjoying a cool one as well… I’ll finish this project later, all I really have to do now is figure a way to screw it down to the roof brackets. One of the guests here told us of a great rib place for our dinner tonight so we gathered up our pesos and headed up there. This was a great place to enjoy the bones, and the price was right…$170 pesos ($12 US) a couple and that included a cerveza for each of us too. Both Carol and Louise had a box to carry home with them.
_28 November ‘09
Our Google Earth position still is: 23.25996N, 106.45864W which is the San Fernando RV Park in the middle of the "Gold Zona", Mazatlan, Mexico.
Yesterday morning I waited around for two fellows to come and see if they could finally fix our “cab air-conditioning system while Louise and Carol headed off for the beach. The guys were about half an hour late, but understanding Mexican time, they were right on time. After attaching all the proper gauges and applying air pressure, they found what they thought was the leak…the same one that had been welded before !!! So with an estimate in my hand and a time frame when it would be fixed, they began. It just so happened that their estimate was exactly the same price that I had paid before in Santa Ana. With pipe in hand, they took it to the welder. About 45 minutes later they were back and installing it. Now the true test…more air-pressure and listen. What, a leak ???? “Señor, we’ve got a leak !!!,
_we’ll be back in the morning and I promise, IT WILL NOT LEAK !” Well what can you do, you go with the flow, “we’ll see you in the mañana”. Mean while the girls are having a good time at the beach. Now as far a Sol, he was out looking for someone to change the oil on his truck. Sol arrived back without having the oil changed and me without the air-conditioning working…you would think this was _ _ _ _ _. Girls back just in time for all of us to head for the beach…Happy Hour !!! I had heard about this one particular place that some of the others here at the campground were going to be at so we were off to find them. Now if I knew that we would have that much trouble, we would have found our own Happy Hour. After walking about a mile down the beach we did find our own place for a margarita but still no sign of the others. We knew that we had most likely passed them so we started back up the beach. Just as we were passing the El Cid Hotel, we noticed a large crowd gathered around this one fellow who was talking into a microphone. I didn’t pay too much attention to what he was saying as I wanted to find the Happy Hour place. Now for Louise, she started understanding what was being said and what was about to happen. Grabbing Carol, she said “put your hand out, they’re going to put a baby turtle in it !!!”.
_Sure as heck, they had no sooner put out their hand and they each had a newly hatched sea turtle. The plan was to stand in back of the line in the sand and when the young man with the mic gave the word, you were to lay the turtle down in the sand aimed towards the incoming waves. Sure as heck, the word came and about 150-250 new baby turtles made their way to the surf. This is Lou's turtle "el Fuente" making the big splunge:
_It was pretty magical to say the least. OK, now what was it we were doing???...OH Ya, Happy Hour.
_We were lucky, the place we were looking for just happened to be right next door. “Last Call” call was called just as we walked in. That’s OK, we already had what we were lucky enough to fall into, and anyway, now we were treated to a great sunset. Horseback riders,
_sailboats moving into the last rays of the sun, and the best of all…being able to share this with friends. Well this morning we were all going out to Deer Island and so some snorkeling, that was until I found myself not feeling so goooooddd. I have no idea as to way, but it was a slightly unpleasant stomach pain. Well Sol and Carol did go but found that when the wind picked up, it got too cold to get out of the water, but they stuck it out. Louise stuck around with me and did go to the pool for a short while but was back in no time. The crew did come back with the newly welded pipe,
_tested it, filled the system with Freon, and tested it to make sure it got cold as hell coming into the cab. Well, let’s hope that today was a short lived unpleasantness and no one else catches it. You know, I don't know if I should be showing Sol's face so much, he just may be on "the lamb"....who knows?
_26 November ‘09
_We just got back from enjoying a true Thanksgiving meal. Turkey with all the trimmings (although we did start out the true Mexican way…cheeps, salsa, and margaritas). This will make a special meal no matter where you are. We started the day out with a Mexican breakfast on the beach.
_Taking our shoes off, we took a walk in the surf splashing the Sea of Cortez all around us. Making it back to the campground, we prepared for our laundry to be picked up and then jumped into our bathing suits. The surf was strong this afternoon with waves strong enough to knock you flat on your back if you weren’t prepared. Water temperature was close to 80 degrees, and the day cloudy and humid. We still enjoyed the beach, no matter what the weather man would sent our way. After getting back to the coach we found our neighbors looking up into a lime tree across from us…sitting high on the top branches sat two Iguanas soaking up the rays. Now that is living high !!!
_25 November ‘09 Our Google Earth position is: 23.25996N, 106.45864W which is the San Fernando RV Park in the middle of the "Gold Zona", Mazatlan, Mexico.
We arrived here this afternoon after staying a night in Los Mochis. Sol was looking for a place to change the oil in his CHEVROLET and I was going to have the air conditioning system looked at again in Los Mochis, but we decided to push on to Mazatlan and get it done there. We traveled the toll roads all the way down to Mazatlan, primarily to save time and wear on the vehicles. The unfortunate side of that decision is what the tolls cost… This is just a guess, but for Louise and me, we had at least 7 toll plazas and the average cost per toll for us was $100+ pesos, or about $60 US. For Sol and Carol, who have a HUGE 5th wheel trailer and a HUGE 4x4 CHEVY pickup, it must have cost close to $100US. I’ve emphasized the fact that Sol drives a CHEVROLET because apparently I wrote “once” that it was a GMC (God forbid…). Anyway, we arrived in Mazatlan about 2 and fortunately the traffic wasn’t too bad as we were having a heck of a time trying to figure out where and how to get to our campground. It was supposed to be across the street from the beach and across the street from another campground that is on the beach. Well we drove by it and I was told (by Louise) that I should make a “U-Turn” and drive back the one block to get into the park…Well, I missed the place (the ONLY PLACE) that we and Sol could make a U-Turn, so we continued for EVER trying to find another spot to turn. Finally I gave up on the U-Turn and made the decision that we would just go around the block…BAD IDEA !!! When I made the turn (followed by Sol and that CHEVROLET pulling a 35’ 5th wheel) I started getting a bad feeling in my stomach. The pavement turned to inlaid stone and we passed under an arch with a name carved across the arch. We were now entering into a private neighborhood and the streets went from narrow to impossible. I guess it wasn’t completely impossible because Sol continued to follow me deeper and deeper into trouble. Finally we arrived at “THE” spot…a small fountain in the center of this stone pathway. No way was there a chance for Sol to take his rig around this fountain, through it, yes, but we really didn’t come to town to sit in jail. Well it came down to this, we’ve got to turn around. Impossible, yes, but we’ve got to get it done. Fortunately we had another corner sitting beside us but it went to a dead end 50 yards away and it was just as narrow as the one that we’re on. Talking it over together, we turned up into this new 50 yard long path. Now all we had to do was back it down and around the corner and head back the same way we came in…(you should have been there). First the sidewalk was about 10 to 12” high, second, there was a wall beside one of the sidewalks that was about 4’ away from the curb. Now on the other side we had a telephone pole that sat directly on the corner and wouldn’t give an inch.
_Fortunately we only had 10 to 12 cars and vans coming through constantly (or at least it seemed like it) and the neighbors didn’t come out to take bets on our not making it, and we didn’t see or hear anyone screaming profanities at us. Now we haven’t known Sol and Carol very long, and I had no idea as to how he would handle such a predicament, but he did it with grace and with a good attitude. I don’t know if I could have done the same… One thing’s for sure, once we got parked at the park we got together and hit the bottle (well maybe just one cerveza…).
_22 November ‘09 Sorry, I guess I slipped up and forgot to put this in a couple of days ago, so here we go....
Backpacks all re-packed, breakfast enjoyed, and we’re off for another morning of “touring” before climbing aboard the train to head back to El Fuerte. We’ll be driving the rim of the canyons to Divisadero. At that point we’ll be looking directly into the Copper Canyon and all the different canyons that lead from it.
_During our drive to Divisadero we found ourselves going through some beautiful hills and valleys while taking hairpin turns all the way. At a couple of points, we came upon large areas of icy roadways where we had to carefully make our way through. Finally at Divisadero we stopped at a large view point and received our instructions for our walk back and to the train station. The walk was just over a half mile and it took us all along the high cliffs of the canyon.
_All along the walk, we had Tarahumara displays of their craft, looking for those of us that hadn’t spent their last peso. The view changed constantly as we moved from one point to the next over the canyon. At one point we had a “swing bridge” to cross. Now most of the time we are thinking that OSHA would die if they saw how lax everything was, but on this swing bridge…you had a wire hatched frame work that completely encased the walkway. Arriving at the train station we found about 10 different little kitchens waiting for us to stop by and have lunch before catching the train, and of course, more Tarahumara goods for the last minute shopper. Now Louise found that she was one of those “last minute shoppers”. Finally just as the train was pulling up, she found her last items….all is good now. Also standing and waiting for the train was this wonderful lady with her baby. I sure hope she gets a big discount on the price of the train ride.
_We had originally planned to take the First Class accommodations (a little newer car and seats, and a MUCH more expensive lounge car) but found out that the only option we had for a Sunday travel was first class. Oh yes, and it’s three times the cost of our trip up…Sunday returns are more expensive. Now get this…if we would have stayed at the hotel one more night and caught the early Economy train back, we would have more than paid for the train, hotel, AND the cost of our campsite in El Fuerte…and most likely the cost of two or three margaritas as well !!! Well we ended up pulling up to El Fuerte at 6:30, taking the cab back to the campground, and heading into the fair… The fair was now in town
_and it seemed like the whole county came out for it. Now I’m not sure, but I think we just happened to “sneak” in without paying. When we pulled up in Sol’s truck, we just walked across the drive and walked under and through a rope that was holding up a large tarp. The reason that I think we snuck in was no one else followed us. In front of the tarp was a large audience that was listening to this pitchman. He was talking so fast and loud (especially since it was amplified the Mexican way…) trying to sell Mexican blankets. We didn’t see anyone buying anything, but they sure liked to watch and listen. Meanwhile, we were hungry and were on the lookout for the largest crowd around the tables and taco stands. Finally we found just what we were looking for, a large group of hungry eaters and the smell of something truly amazing. Sol and I each had 4 and the girls 2 each, and then it was onto finding the churros. Now there we made the wrong choice…the grease was so burnt that the churros tasted like the fat looked…we had to toss and find another churros stand. Walking around and watching the people we came up to a large group that had their eyes trained to the sky. Up on top of this large and very tall pole were 5 men. One was standing up-right with a drum and flute, and the other 4 were tied to the center pole with a long rope. Soon the 4 leaned over and started circling their way back to the ground as the rope turned away from the pole and lowered them to a safe landing. On another stage we watched 4 or 5 groups dancing Mexican traditional dances.
_Overall, we had a great time…except the first churros which taught us a very important lession...check the color of the oil !!!
_21 November ‘09 This morning, Sol, Carol, Louise and I loaded into a large 4x4 van and took off with our guide Rodrigo, for a day of visiting the Tarahumara
_and the valley and canyons where they live. We weren’t going into the deep depths of the Copper Canyon, but another very interesting area. Our first stop was along the banks of the Largo Arareko, a 100 acre reservoir.
_It sits in a woodland of tall Pine and smaller brush. Scattered throughout the water you can see pinnacles of granite standing high. There is no doubt, Lou and I wanted to immediately paddle out into this wonderful water area…it is spectacular. We were immediately met by the Tarahumara children who were holding their wares for us to purchase
_while their mothers were sitting just within sight while knitting or weaving more items to be soon sold.
_This wasn’t a “hard sell” from the little ones, but you could hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes…”Please buy this from me…”. We knew we had to pace ourselves and carefully make the right decisions as to what we were going to purchase, but to purchase was a given… Our next stop was at the end of a drive that was made only by 4 wheel drive vehicles. Once we drove off the pavement and onto the dirt roadway, we were holding on. While swaying from side to side and bouncing almost high enough to bump your head on the top of the van, we weaved ourselves through the large rocks and small creeks. Finally coming to a stop, we walk another quarter of a mile to find Cascada de Cusarare. On the way, we came across a couple of Tarahumara women washing their clothes in a small river while their children watched and played close by.
_These falls weren’t as large as they can be during the rainy season, but they were still beautiful.
_After stopping at a number of locations around the top of the falls, Louise and I descended the 276 stairs to the rocks below the falls.
_Now all we had to do was get back up those 276 stairs… Actually we did it like did it every day at this altitude (7,600 ft.)…no problema… Then we went deeper into the canyon to see the “Mushroom Rocks”
_and visit a Tarahumara village “Ville de los Hugos (mushrooms). Again we drove off the pavement and onto a dirt roadway? that took us deep into the Tarahumara. As we passed those walking, working on their crafts, or washing clothes in a small stream we seemed to be invisible to them. They are very private and rather we weren’t there. In the center of their land of rock and hills,
_we found a mission that dates back to around 1510. It’s the mission St. Ignacio.
_The doors were locked but we could look through a small crack in the door to see that it was very sparsely appointed. It’s a case were the men are dominant and attend the service, standing at the front, and the women stand along the sides or the back with the children staying home. At one time, the Tarahumara lived in caves (or most often, a large crack in the side of a large rock wall).
_We only saw one cave home that was still being used in its full capacity, but we did come across another were the kitchen of the cave was still in use. Sebastion was a leader that had a large plat of land and lived in a cave of a size that lent it to be of more than 5 rooms (divided by boards and branches). His wife and his extended family of his daughter, husband, and 4 children still use the kitchen in the cave.
_Small bedroom buildings and a couple of other wooden buildings make up the rest that sit on this property. We really enjoyed watching the kids run through the tall grass of the fields and off to a cave across the way. They were like kids with no fear or wants, just having a great time running and chasing around.
_Back at the top and settling down for our last dinner at the hotel/hostel. In the morning we will have another tour and then back on the train for our return to…
_20 November ‘09 Our GPS Google Map Lat/Long for Creel, Mexico and the Copper Canyon is: 27.7523N, 107.6346W
A taxi arrived for us at 8 this morning to pick the 4 of us up. We were heading for the train, Barrancas del Cobre that would take us up to Creel and the Copper Canyon. This will be the first time that we have left our little Minnie Winnie behind and it was kind of hard. I guess we could have taken a different route into Mexico from the states and driven to Creel from the area of Cuauhtemoc, but that meant that we were going to spend a lot of time traveling a lot of mountain roads and in the state of Chihuahua, which isn’t one of the most safe states to be in right now. We also opted to take the “Economy” train,
_that way we would be more with the “local people” and it would also cost us half of what the “First Class” train would run, besides, we could then take the first class train back and be there quicker. The truth of it was, once we got up there and ready to come back, they were only running the first class train and the prices for the Sunday run was just about triple of the costs going up…surprise, surprise, surprise. All that aside, we had a great time in Creel and the surrounding areas of the Copper Canyon. The train ride up was very comfortable and had everything we needed. We started at sea-level and topped off at over 7,600 feet. Our train route would take us around and over canyons
_and twice over the same tracks we had traveled earlier but several hundred feet below us.
_The restrooms were spotless, and the prices in the diner were as expected, but we were ready with all the treats and water we needed…well we thought so anyway. We did end up purchasing lunch. We opted for a micro-waved ham and cheese and a dish of “cheeps”. The sandwich was as expected, but the cheeps…it was a dish of corn chips covered with queso fresco cheese (a soft crumbly cheese), and hidden below the first level, a soup of cheese/brownish stuff. It must have been good because we finished it all…with a spoon. The views from the doorways at the end of each rail car were stunning.
_We were able to take a lot of photos from there as we hung out the top half of the door. We didn’t have to “fight” for position, but we did have to hold it. It also gave us an opportunity to do a little shopping when we pulled up to one of the smaller stops along the way.
_While I was taking the pictures of these two ladies, Louise was buying a bag of fresh made cookies and empanana's (filled with sweet jam)... they were good!!! We did have great window seats for the views but for photos it was best not to have to shot through the windows. One difference from the “First Class” train vs. the economy was all the short stops along the way. We stopped to let one person off to a dozen, and some of those stops were out in “no-man’s land”. Then of course, we stopped at 8 or 9 other villages that clung to the tracks along the way to Creel. Arriving at Creel
_kind of reminded me of arriving at the airport in Cabo San Lucas many years ago. As soon as the doors of the train opened for us to disembark, we were pounced upon by hawkers. It just so happened that all of them seemed to have been working for the same hotel and that hotel was the one that we already had decided to stay at. All worked out fine, the couple of guys that stayed and fought the hardest to get our attention got their commission, the others will have to work harder next time.
_We paid $350 pesos a night for 2 and that included breakfast and dinner. The room was nice, clean, and had a great heater that we found was really needed.
_We had traveled from sea-level to over 7,600 ft. and a temperature difference of mid 80’s to Creels high of 60. The low for the night left ice on the windows and I really didn’t care to ask how cold it might have been. Fortunately the sun was out beautifully the whole time.
_19 November ‘09 Tonight’s position of our camp site in El Fuerte, Mexico can be found by going to Google Earth at: 26.41020N, 108.62613W
This is going to be a little short because all we’re really going to do for now is head into El Fuerte central and do a quick look before heading back for a quick nights rest. We arrived here in El Fuerte fairly early so that we could set up in our campground and prepare for tomorrow. Unfortunately it wasn’t all that simple…we’re in Mexico… Our guide book told us of this nice campground that most RV’rs used while taking the train up to Creel and the Copper Canyon. In following the detailed directions we found the sign indicating “RV Camping” and an arrow pointing down this narrow dirt road. Trees hung over it quite low and bushes made it even more narrow than it was originally. This looked a little strange and made us tell Sol and Carol to hang back while we drove deeper into this road of unknown. Fortunately we didn’t have our Endeavor, it wouldn’t have even come close to getting in. We finally arrived at the end of the road and found ourselves in someone’s personal driveway (still dirt). Well we’ve got to make a turnaround and head back out, but now we’ve encountered some low hanging wires and branches of some pretty good sized trees. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time that an RV’r had come down this lane and found themselves in this yard because it didn’t take long and we had the “man of the house” outside and helping with directing and watching as we negotiated through the maze of leaves, branches, and wires all within a wire fenced yard. Fortunately we left all the wires behind, but I’m sure that the senior will soon be out at the main road and re-painting that RV Campground sign to a large red circle with RV-Camping in the center. It turned out that the campground had closed up a couple of years ago but just a quarter of a mile and around the corner was a hotel that allowed camping…we’re saved. Now we’re all checked in, set up,
_and making our drive in Sol and Carol’s truck to town. El Fuerte has been accepted as a “Magical Town”, or as we might say…Historical town by UNSCO. It’s also the home of Zorro… I must say, it’s kind of fun riding in the back seat of Sol’s truck as he takes this “behemoth” down and through some of these busy narrow streets with cars, trucks, and buses parked on both sides. Then there are the tight corners that he navigates so well as all the pedestrians stand to watch. After finding a parking place long enough for this 4 door dually to fit, we all climb out and head for this wonderful machine that spits pesos out at us at demand. Then it’s off for a walk through town, window shopping and looking for the best restaurant or stand for our nights nourishment. Prior to finding our choice of taste, we happened upon the town museum. It sits high on the hill
_overlooking the town, the surrounding neighborhoods and hills, and the river that snakes its way outlining El Fuertes central district. It’s always surprising to all the information that you can get from these museums, with the understanding of the language or not. Down below us we heard a marching band practicing for the next day’s Revolution Parade…the sounds of the drums (not quite in sync.) and the trumpets (not in sync and off tune…) making their way around and around the town square,
_how many times I’m not sure, but let’s just say it lasted most of the time we were in town. The museum was set into the walls of a garrison that surrounded the town water supply. As you walked the walls of the garrison it felt like we were walking the walls of one of the many castles of Europe (maybe not quite, but you get the idea…). Now it was time to find our dinner… in the central part of town is the location where all the busses arrive with those coming and going from a day of working, shopping or even school. As always, this is found to be one of the best locations to find a great taco con carne… It is amazing, you can have one and you can have two or three, but you never tire of them, ever….
_17 November ‘09 Look to Google Earth at 26.59364N, 109.58949W to find us today at El Mirador RV Resort on the shores of the Sea of Cortez and the beach community of Huatabampito, Sonora, Mx.
Out of the mountains and back to the Sea of Cortez. Huatabampito is a hidden beach area that is just about straight west of Navojoa. It only took us just over 2 hours to get here from Alamos, but the difference is staggering. All there is here is a white sandy beach with Aqua Blue water washing up to the door of our motor home. We are but 2 of the 5 RV’s here and we all have beach front standing. Unfortunately the economy and the US press running the “drug wars” scare has set back business for those that have opened their doors to the RV community over the past years.
_Louise and I have been the only RV in some parks and it still continues as we head south. This afternoon Sol, Carol, Louise and I drove out to a small fishing village about 5 miles down the coast. We were looking for a good deal on large shrimp. Well, we found them and we found more… we purchased totally 3 kilos of jumbo shrimp for $100 pesos a kilo or about $7.50 for over 2 lbs. We also purchased 10 Pacific Spinney Lobster for the same price of $100 a kilo. With lobster being on the menu for our evening BBQ, we went to bed a little later feeling like “Extra” Happy Campers… One pretty big negative that we’ve been experiencing since our camping just north of Los Angles, California and all the way down here is, mosquitoes and “no-see-ums”…it’s about ready to drive us nuts.