A Week in Mexico

San Carlos, Mexico

Thursday I will have been in Mexico for a week. Yes, I finally took a deep breath and crossed the southern border of the United States.

The hardest part was crossing the border. I have been across the border before but I have EmmyLou with me this time. I have my home with me. I have to make sure I can take care of her.

It was good to be with others who have done this before. Out of the nine of us, four have been doing this for years. I am thankful for Mary, Mike, Sky, and Bobbi. With their guidance, we made it through the process of entering a different country. I don’t mind a little hand-holding and guidance. First, we crossed over. About twenty-one miles south of the border we stopped to get our Visitor’s Visa and Temporary Import Permit for EmmyLou. It was a process, not quick. Once again I remembered to breathe and be patient. And when it was done I was in Mexico.

We have been staying on the beach along a bay near San Carlos on the Sea of Cortez. This is mainland Mexico. It has been a week of relaxation and fun and community. There is a lagoon nearby so I have had some great kayaking and birding adventures. I am very thankful for my kayaking experience. I was able to go off alone and feel comfortable on the water. Yes, I did have all my safety gear with me. When one travels alone one needs to be prepared.

In the afternoons we have been having fun with art. I have been painting rocks and shells. It is fun to allow my artistic side to come forward. It has been many years since this side of me has come out to play. It is fun to paint with little expectation of the outcome. This is called folk art.

Brown Footed Boobie

The sunrises have been amazing and the sunsets breathtaking. It is not unusual to see pods of dolphins swim by, close to shore. The birding has been good. There is this island approximately two miles off the shoreline, Isla de Pastel (Cake Island). On a glassy, quiet day on the water, I kayaked to the island to see the birds. It was not disappointing. There were cormorants, pelicans, all types of gulls, and the Brown-Footed Boobie.

The island was interesting as well. There was one cave I could kayak into. The water was spectacularly clear. It was quiet in the cave as sunlight dappled the walls. There were smaller rock outcroppings to explore. I ended up circling the island twice. There was so much to see.

The people I am traveling with are delightful. Currently, there are nine of us. There are three couples and three are solo. We get along well. This is a very fluid group. People come together to visit and talk. Then some will go off to do something they are interested in. There is little pressure to join in if solo time is what one needs, yet the door remains open if one wants to join in on an adventure or sit on the beach and chat.

Slowing down and relaxing have been good for me. I needed this quiet and peaceful time in my life. I have not been to town. The wilderness and sea have called to me more than exploring town. Tomorrow that will change. Saying farewell to the coast is hard. We are heading to Alamos. I have read about Alamos and have heard much about it from Mary Z. It will be another type of experience. For a while, I will need to say goodbye to the Pacific and the coastline and head inland to experience another side of Mexico.

You are most welcome to come along on this journey with me as I delve deeper into Mexico.

Today I am thankful for a relaxing and peaceful time in my life. Today I am thankful for this beautiful Mexican land and sea. Today I am thankful for those who surround me now. I am thankful for new experiences that open me up and give me the opportunity to continue to grow and explore.

Adventures Heading South

Sunset in San Diego

Every year in November I return to San Diego to get my annual medical and dental appointments done. I come south to visit friends and escape winter. I usually don’t travel directly to the city. I meander my way from wherever I have been.

I find it hard to be in large cities. Since I bought my Roadtrek and went full-time RV’ing, I have embraced rural and small-town living. I like the slower pace. I like the quick access to the outdoors. I would rather walk, kayak, or cycle than take too much time to get to my starting point. I like the sense of community that small towns and the rural countryside offers. People look out for each other. We help each other out. I don’t have to be alone unless I choose that option.

I have to prepare myself for the entrance into the city. This year after I left The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, White Pocket and southern Utah I headed south to Phoenix. If I want to practice being in a larger metropolitan area this city is a good one to approach. Phoenix is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States. I have two good friends that live in towns on either side of Phoenix.

Superstition Mts. from my Campsite

Apache Junction and Mary are on the east side of Phoenix. The Superstition Mountains and the Lower Salt River are within twenty minutes of Mary’s doorstep. I camped at the Lost Dutchman State Park. This park sits at the foot of Flat Iron Peak. It is a popular hike for the locals.

At Mary’s suggestion, one morning I launched my Oru Kayak on the Lower Salt River and paddled downriver. Since I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go, Mary and Roxie, her dog, would meet me at each pullout or launching site to see how I was doing. Happily, I made it the full ten miles. It was a beautiful and scenic ride down the river. The next time I am taking Mary with me.

I paddled by wild horses feasting on the eelgrass in the river. The Salt River wild horses roam the lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. According to historical records, the horses have been living on the Salt River reservation before the National Forest was created in the early 1900s. The wild horses are watched over by the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. They are protected and number approximately five hundred.

After three days of catching up with Mary and her animal menagerie, I drove to Goodyear to visit Yvonne. Goodyear is on the west side of Phoenix. Yvonne lives in a 55 and up community. This stay was more community-minded as Yvonne is very involved with the community where she lives. While I was there we went to a block party, a beer-tasting event, and more. The best part of visiting Yvonne is sitting in her hot tub every morning talking and planning the day. It is a good way to start the day.

After Phoenix, I decided I need to go rural for a few days before I arrived in San Diego. I spent two nights on the lower Colorado River, kayaking on Squaw Lake and the mighty river. It is quiet out in the desert right now. The Snowbirds are just starting to arrive. There were a handful of campers at the campsite. There were at least three Roadtreks there. After a day of kayaking, it was nice to sit outside with my neighbors and watch the sunset over the lake.

Currently, I am in San Diego. I have already been to a few appointments and visited with friends. It is nice to be back on familiar terrain. I am able to see what has changed in the last nine months. I know where to find my favorite Coffeehouses. The one thing I like about San Diego is camping on Mission Bay. Even though I am in a large city, I still have easy access to biking trails and the boat launch is only a short distance from my campsite. Well, that is convenient.

My winter plans are taking shape. I always know to expect the unexpected. I remember to breathe my way through my appointments and wait to find out the results of tests. There is a part of me that feels I have to wait to make plans until all the medical and dental appointments are complete and the results are in. Sometimes I get thrown a curve. I wait.

Today I am thankful for so many wonderful friends. Today I am thankful for my soft adventures. Today I am thankful for my health. I am truly thankful for a good first dental appointment. Today I am thankful for rain-it is raining in San Diego. (not a frequent occurence)

Today I am thankful.

Those Magic Moments

My husband, Jim and I always looked for interesting and different adventures when we went off exploring. One year we climbed an old-growth Douglas Fir and camped two hundred and fifty feet off the ground. (Did you know that there are no mosquitos after one reaches twenty-five feet above the ground?) We rode horseback to camp in the high Rockies of Colorado and attempt to fish. Another horseback riding adventure took us into Canyon del Muerto (a branch of the Canyon de Chelly complex in eastern Arizona) to camp on Native land and explore the cliff-dwelling ruins and hike. Oh my, so many magic moments.

I have continued to explore the unique and unusual in my travels. It keeps me alive and fascinated by life. It often brings the wonder of a little girl to the surface.

Last night at 10 pm, I went kayaking with a small group thanks to Whidbey Island Kayaking. We were on an adventure to see the bioluminescence.

Bioluminescence occurs when a chemical reaction in an organism emits light. Humans typically see bioluminescence that’s triggered by a disturbance, like waves or a boat moving through the water. Organisms can also emit light responding to an attack or to attract a mate. Although bioluminescence is found in many marine animals, one of the most common causes is from plankton being disturbed at the water’s surface. This was what we kayaked to see.

What I discovered last night is that often this bioluminescent light is subtle. As it became darker the light in the water became stronger. When I would swirl my hands in the water, sparkles of light bounced off my hand. It was like seeing the night sky in the water.

As we started to kayak back to the marina, one of the guides told us to kayak closer to shore. There was a gray whale coming toward the marina. What???? There has been an adolescent gray whale that has been staying near the ferry. He comes over to the marina at Langley to feed on ghost shrimp. We did not see it but heard his sound as he blew. This sound encounter with this gray whale upped the magic factor of this trip. How could this experience be any better? Yes, a whale made this evening truly magical. It was too dark to see it but we could hear its blow and it was close. It was soooooo…..cool.

This evening reminded me that we are not alone out there in the world. We are part of one larger system. The whale blow, the bioluminescence, and a quiet night on the water reminded me immediately of the wonder of nature and the magic I experience when I discover that for a brief moment I am in the center of this universe.

This is an experience I will remember for a long time. I love magic. I love being in the center of magic.

I am thankful for taking this moment out of my life to breathe and experience the magic.

Finally, Into the Desert

What to do between dental appointments. There are so many choices. I guess I could have stayed in San Diego yet I am a traveler and a nomad.

How can a desert lover resist the pull of the desert? I chose to go to Salinas and the Monterey area in February when I would usually be out in the desert for the winter. It was time to change it up. I swear I could hear the desert questioning why I wasn’t there. It lures you in and the hold is strong.

Last Friday early, I climbed into my rig and headed to eastern California to kayak in the desert. Yep, you heard me right, kayak in the desert. It is a strange thing to think of water in a desolate and dry land and yet there it is.

The Colorado River begins high in the Rocky Mountains. It meanders its way southwest, through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and then rides along the border of California and Arizona before it would empty into the Sea of Cortez. It is the lifeblood of the west. Water is like gold. It is fought over and protected in a land that is often dry and forbidding.

Since it supplies water to such areas as Phoenix and Southern California the Colorado water is managed. Dams have created a playground in Southern California and Arizona right in the heart of the desert. Where one would not expect lakes, they are plentiful.

I met a friend of mine, Cori, at Squaw Lake, and on a perfectly sunny, not too warm day we took off to explore the lake and a small section of the Colorado River, where the currents can be surprisingly strong and sneaky. We kayaked for close to 4 hours in this unique land. Cori and I talked and weaved our way through “The Nile” and eventually made it to the river. It was a perfect day, perfect company, and a perfect kayak.

Swinging in the Salton Sea

We have both moved north to the Salton Sea, a dead accidental sea in the middle of the southern California desert. Not much lives in it as it is extremely salty. On the east side of the Salton Sea, there are hot springs. The Fountain of Youth RV Resort & Spa is a winter attraction for those who live in the northern United States and Canada. It is warm and pleasant in the winter. The days warm into the 80’s Fahrenheit and down to the ’40s at night.

I have friends from Michigan and New Mexico staying here for the winter. After a Covid year off it is good to meet up with everyone again. We all own Roadtreks. Owning one of these RVs has certainly added to my life in my ways. I have met and become friends with so many good people.

I have been walking and soaking in the pools and hot springs. This morning I went to Yoga. I spend much of my time alone so it is nice to visit with such good and dear friends. After almost two Covid years I have to practice being social again.

I am here for another week and a half before the dentist once again lures me back to San Diego. Sigh. The good news is I am almost done with the dentist.

What’s Next? I have no idea. Plans will take shape as spring emerges. Meanwhile, I am enjoying my brief time in the desert this year. I am enjoying my friends.

Today I am thankful, for the desert, for tried and true friends, and that I can take my kayak almost anywhere and find water to launch it.

My Bounce Around Month-The Challenges of Personal Growth

Sunset on Squaw Lake

After spending two weeks in the desert I once again have returned to San Diego. No, wait, I am in Santa Barbara. I call this month my bounce-around month. I am moving about the southern California area to finish this visit for the year.

Why am I bouncing around.

  • I really wanted some time in the desert and two weeks was all I could find this year to venture to the east.
  • I received my second Pfizer vaccine on March 1 in San Diego. I am doing well.
  • My rig, EmmyLou is getting things done. First, she had the outside fixed. Now we are working on the inside.  RV’s need check-ups. Today we are in Santa Barbara to meet up with Dan Neely. He is one of the Roadtrek Gurus, traveling up and down California to make it easier for his customers to meet up with him.
  • I have to return to San Diego as I have a few more tests to finish up my first post-year thyroid check-up. (I had thyroid cancer a little over a year ago) Oh and I am getting old, I have to have my left eye checked for a cataract. But I don’t feel old!

Rope Canyon & Peggy

Ladder Canyon & yours truly

My trip to the desert was grand. I camped and hiked and biked and kayaked. Although most of my friends were not in the desert this winter, a few were. Peggy and Roger have managed to figure out how to be in the desert and social distance this year. Peggy took a few nights to come and camp with me. It was good to meet up with her. We did some amazing hikes-ones that challenged me. The most rigorous one was when we took an early wrong turn in the Mecca Hills and ended in Rope Canyon instead of Ladder Canyon. After we tackled the first rope in this beautiful slot canyon we decided we were in the wrong canyon and hiked back out. Then we decided to tackle Ladder Canyon. It was a challenge but after Rope Canyon it was definitely easier. It is a beautiful place in the desert.

Squaw Lake Kayak

I met up with Cori another Roadtreker at Squaw Lake, a dammed lake on the lower Colorado River. There are several lakes just north of Yuma that is part of the Imperial Dam Water District. This is a great place for boaters, fishermen, and other watersports lovers. The lakes are gentle and easy to navigate. We also kayaked to the River and went up river first so we could float back down to the lake entrance. It was a fun adventure with Cori. We hiked and kayaked for two days before I needed to return to San Diego.

My adventures in the desert were not always fun. Friendships can be hard as well as rewarding. I sometimes wonder if I know how to communicate as well with others now that I have been on my own for so long. I tend towards introversion (yes, really) and since I have been staying away from people I wonder if I need to break into the world of others more carefully and slowly.

I have learned a valuable lesson on my desert trip this year. Being respected is important to me. I try hard to respect others and I have grown enough, now to count on others to appreciate me. When that doesn’t happen then it is time to leave and regroup. I also need time to remind myself that I am a good and worthy human being and worthy of being appreciated.

Argh! Growing is hard and challenging. I have a friend who turns 90 this year who told me once that I will still be growing when I reach 80. When growth is easy, it is fun and exciting. When growth is not so easy, it is challenging and hard. It is often the challenging steps that are the most rewarding.

A Santa Barbara Sunset

I will be in the lovely town of Santa Barbara for two more nights and then will head south. I am staying in an Airbnb in a quaint section of the city. I am one block from the beach and it is quite beautiful. This morning I dropped my rig off and then bicycled the 13 miles back to my residence. This afternoon I will repeat the process to pick her back up.

The adventure of life continues. I am grateful for the challenges that come my way. I am grateful for my friends who love and respect me. I sometimes grudgingly appreciate those who challenge me and help me grow. I am thankful for the mechanics and others who help my tiny home of wheels stay in tip-top shape. I am really thankful for my tiny home. Today I am thankful for a blue sky, classic sunny southern CA day.

 

Finally!! The Desert!!

Tonight I was texting my sister and I realized I have not blogged in a while. I also realized that very few people know where I am or what I am up to.

After a month at the RV facelift hospital-my rig is minus some major dents and bumps and is back where she belongs, with me. It was a good time to get some of this work done as I had a place to stay (thank you Cynthia and Ward). EmmyLou is home and looking spiffy.

I usually spend every winter wandering the desert southwest. If it is too cold in one spot I move to the next. It is a good way to spend the winter. I usually find interesting and unique places to visit and meet interesting people.

This winter was a bit different with the RV in the hospital getting a makeover. I had to stay a bit more stationary, sheltering in place during this Covid time. My annual medical and dental appointments seemed to stretch out more than usual.

Peggy Hiking Into a Slot

I really wanted to get to the desert, even if the time was limited. A week ago I departed for the closest desert I could find. Here I am in the California Desert. I started in Anza Borrego State Park near Borrego Springs. Most of my friends did not come to the desert this year due to Covid. Two of them did. I met up with Peggy and Roger who have been safely distanced camping in the parking lot of a church. It was fun to see them. Masks up and all. Peggy came and joined me for a few nights. Two little rigs parked together at a boondocking campground. We had some girl time and did pretty cool hikes. It is exciting to see people.

Now I have left the State Park and have moved on to the Salton Sea. It is rather a unique and unusual place. I come here because of birds. I love birds. I love to take photos of them and watch them. The Salton Sea is a major migratory stop and wintering ground for over 400 species of shorebirds and other birds. Today the Snow Geese were the stars of the birding experience. At one point there were so many coming in for a landing on the water, you could hear their wings. It was so cool.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am here for a few days and then will move on to the Squaw Lake, part of the Colorado River, to get a little bit of Kayaking in before I have to return to San Diego.

I will be returning to San Diego on February eighth to get my second vaccine. After a few recovery days, I am off to Santa Barbara to get some interior work done on my rig.

Dan Neeley the owner of Dan Neeley RV Service specializes in Roadtreks. He travels from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He is really good at what he does and I am thankful he comes far enough south that I can reach him. Now that EmmyLou has had an outside job, it is time for the RV part of her to be checked. Once that is done I bet you think I will be hitting the road.

Not so. I have to return to San Diego for a little over a week so that the final part of my post thyroid cancer screening can be completed. So far everything looks good and I expect that these tests will look good as well. I still get nervous and wait anxiously for the results. After these results come back I can take a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling, and be ready for another year of adventure.

I think that covers it. I have been learning to rest and relax. I am thankful each day for wonderful friends who continue to love and support me in whatever way they can. I am thankful each day that I can venture off for a hike, see delightful and awesome birds, and catch a good sunrise or sunset along the way.

 

Did you know that if you click on any picture it will enlarge?

Did you know that if you click on the different colored words that are underlined, it will take you to the web site?

Dollhouses, Kayaks, Moving Forward

An Example of a Queen Ann Style Dollhouse

Years ago, more than I can remember, Jim (my husband) and I decided to build a dollhouse. A good friend of mine had mentioned that she would love to have a Queen Ann style dollhouse. Sharon is someone we both loved. She wanted a dollhouse and so we built her a dollhouse. This was not just a wee dollhouse, it was at least 2-3 feet tall. We shingled, wallpapered, carpeted, painted it and more. It was an adventure we enjoyed together. I don’t remember how long it took us to build. It was months by the time we finished it. It was a labor of love. Every moment we worked on was rewarded by Sharon’s reaction when we presented the finished product to her

Building the first one was so much fun that we decided to build a second one for Jim’s niece. This second house was just as much fun as the first. After it was completed it went home to Chris.

Once the second dollhouse was complete we decided to move onto a much larger adventure. Jim and I had been planning to buy kayaks for some time. It was Jim’s suggestion that we try to build our own. After much research, we narrowed our search to two companies, Pygmy Boats, and Chesapeake Light Craft. Chesapeake Light Craft became our company of choice. Did we want to use their blueprints or build from a kit? What was the difference between the two? The blueprint meant we would have to find the wood, cut it into the shapes we needed and find all the components that were needed to put it together. The kit came with all the wood pieces cut into the shapes we needed. All the screws, nails, rolls of fiberglass, epoxy glue and more were included. We decided on the kit.

We were both working full time. The kayak building was done on weekends and nights. We were busy. Jim was certainly the lead on the building, I was a very active second in command. In approximately six months the first boat was complete. We painted her red and named her Whistling Woman. I was reading a book titled A Whistling Woman is Up to No Good. This book showed women of the ’90s how to express their wildness, describing how they can get in touch with their true natures and express themselves in a sometimes-disapproving society. The first kayak was mine.

It took us six more months to finish the second kayak. We had learned a bit from the first kayak so the second one was easier to put together. It was five pounds lighter. When it was complete it was painted forest green and named Ronin, after one of Jim’s favorite movies. The second one was Jim’s.

After launching them successfully on Mission Bay, in San Diego, our kayaking adventures started. We took classes through Aqua Adventures and an independent boating store. We learned how to capsize our boats, turn them over and re-enter them. Learning to come in through the waves on the ocean was a challenge. It was fun to get wet. Kayaking into a strong wind also presented us with new challenges.

The kayaks were frequently out on the water. Early, Sunday mornings often found us back on Mission Bay. We would kayak until the other boat traffic would get heavy, then retire to a coffee house to enjoy the rest of the morning. As we became more proficient with kayaking, the learning curve is quick, we ventured further afield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took them camping on the lower Colorado River, on the back bay at Newport Beach. When we finally felt brave enough we went camping and kayaking throughout California, making sure to spend time on the lakes and bays. It was fun to combine our love of camping with the joy of kayaking.

After Jim died I continued to kayak. My tactics changed. First I had to figure out how to get my kayak on the roof of the Subaru Outback. Then I had to figure out how to get it off the roof. I got very good at asking others for help. Kayakers are a nice group of people and I never had to search far for assistance.

Three years ago I started my nomadic full-time existence in my Roadtrek RV. I sold my house in Southern California, moved what I wanted to keep into storage, including the kayaks and began my full-time traveling adventure.

I have been thinking of the kayaks often over the past year. I have held onto them for emotional reasons. Jim and I built them. They were a precious reminder of our life together. They were a reminder of this very loving and unique man I married. Over the past year, I decided these kayaks needed to find a loving home, where they would be used and cared for. Keeping kayaks in storage is not the best use for any boat.

October 2019, I decided that I was OK with selling them. I had a few requirements.

  • They need to go to a loving home.
  • They need to be used.
  • I need pictures of them once in a while so I can see they will be enjoyed and loved.
  • They are not to return to a storage unit.

With Elsie’the Cat’s disappearance the kayaks, once again were put on the back burner. Trying to find Elsie was the number one priority. Unfortunately, Elsie is still missing.

Early in March, I decided to proceed with the selling of the kayaks. I spiffed them up, took pictures and after advertising them to friends, I put them up for sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace. The offers started coming in. How was I going to choose? Just as I was preparing to sit down and sort out all the offers, a friend contacted me. He wanted to buy both kayaks and I would get visiting privileges. That, is a sweet deal. They will be going to someone I know. I have no doubt they will be loved and taken care of. Any time I want, I can ask Jon how they are doing. Maybe I will get an occasional picture. And…I have visiting privileges.

On a blustery afternoon in San Diego county, three of us loaded them on the top of Jon’s truck and off they went to their new home. It was hard to see them go, yet I know that it was the right thing to do. They weigh in at 40-45 pounds. I no longer have a car to haul them. They are 16 feet long, making them to long to fit in or on the back of my RV. The bottom line, I want them to be used and not just sitting and waiting to be used. It is the best way to honor them and to honor Jim.

I am content. I can look at this as a sad farewell or another step forward in my life. Maybe I can find a smaller kayak that will fit my needs better (12 feet sounds right to me). Maybe I can manage without one at all. Or maybe I will just decide to build myself another boat. the opportunities are endless as my life moves forward, one step at a time.