2009 1st Qtr Travels

07/06/11

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1st Quarter

 

January...

The New Year is here and it is difficult as always to realize it is 2009.  Where does the time go?

Our planned travel for 2009 is on it's own page that you can see on the sidebar.  There are a lot of holes and we will fill them in.

We started out January in Parker TX in the driveway of good friends and former neighbors.  While there we went to hear a little jazz played by another good friend, Mark Harper and the Mark Harper Project.  Mark also plays and tours with the band Tower of Power. 

We left Parker and headed south, stopping for a week in Fredericksburg TX at the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal park.  One day we went with a friend to climb Enchanted Rock, a very large piece of granite with its own state park.  Great 360 views from the top.

Here we start. Don & Billie

Back toward where we started

Don taking a rest

Yes, that is Don up there

We all made it to the top

Time to go back down

For the remainder of January we went further south, first to the area around Garner state park for a week then to Big Bend National Park for a couple more weeks.  Here's a couple of the locals we happened across...

 

On our way to BBNP we stopped for a night in Seminole Canyon SP.  What great campsites this place has.  This is a favorite spot for us to stop as we always see wonderful sunsets and sunrises.

  

The first thing we did when we got to BBNP was to check out any new geocaches in the area.  We found several we had not located the last time we were there and so headed out.  This first one was brand new and we were the first to find it.  It wasn't easy.  This was the easy part of the road to get there  .  But man, the views are worth any of the difficulty...

The remainder of our days we loafed a lot, but did a bit of hiking and off road exploration of the area.  Most days were warm and spring was definitely on us at Big Bend.  The cactus weren't blooming yet, but blue bonnets and other early spring flowers were blooming everywhere in late January.  Here's a sample....

We go back to Big Bend often as we love the area and find the desert and mountains there some of the most beautiful in the world.  And the Rio Grande looks so very different, depending on the viewing place.  Our off road exploration has brought us to some of the most unique and lovely special places.  A sampling of some from this trip below and you will see why we are so enamored with this place.

Our last day in the park we stopped at the hot springs on the Rio Grande.  The water is 104 degrees, always.  There are always a dozen or more people in the water and this day was no exception.  The air temperature was in the 80s.  

 

 

February...

First into New Mexico and then to Douglas AZ.  In Douglas we wait the group we will join to travel do Guaymas MX.  As we drove down state highway 80 toward Douglas, just some shots out the front windshield...man, beautiful country.

   

Douglas is an interesting, small border town on the US side where Agua Prieta is a growing border town across the fence in Sonora.  NAFTA has made many jobs in Agua Prieta and less jobs in Douglas.  The Douglas city was most gracious and took us on many tours of both the Douglas city and of Agua Prieta.  When going over to do our walking tour of AP the police stopped traffic for us just so we could cross the street.  They were very anxious we feel we were "safe" in their city.  They made us feel like royalty. 

This is a picture of the entire group at a dinner in the Gasden Hotel in Douglas, AZ.  We are standing on marble stairs that are chipped from where Pancho Villa rode his horse up them, so the story goes....  You can see Don about in the middle of all the people.

Here we are in Agua Prieta

Here is one of our police escorts

One of the street scenes in AP

Going into the city auditorium where they treated us to a talent show that included school groups, adult talent singing and dancing.

Here we are second in the line up for our small travel group of six to get ready  to head for Nogales, then into Mexico. 

Within 10 miles or so south of the border, it became apparent that it is spring in Mexico.  The mesquite trees are beginning to leaf as are the palo verdes and some cactus are blooming.

We did have an unpleasant experience with customs as we crossed the border.  We were carrying a large amount of wine and planned to declare it and pay duty.  Because we were following our group leader, we ended up in the wrong line (the one with nothing to declare) and when we tried to declare our wine, expecting to pay duty, they were quite put out with us as we were in the wrong place and felt we were trying to pull one over on them.  There was no explaining the issue, so we kept smiling while they confiscated all but 12 bottles of our wine AND we had to pay a fine for the pleasure.  After only 2+ hours we were on our merry way.

On to Benjamin Hill, the smallest city in Sonora.  It is our overnight stop between Douglas and Guaymas (say why-mas).  Here is the mayor, his wife and some other locals meeting us at the soccer field where we are parked.    Then the  entire town had a fiesta to celebrate our visit.  Before the celebration we visited one of the local churches and talked with the local priest and a helper to determine how we could "share the wealth" and make some things easier for some of his projects in feeding the poor.

Local church

Dining room where they serve 60 to 100 poor with meals each day

The priest and his helper/translator

 

At the fiesta they honored us in a way we will all remember for many years to come.  The first honor was when a very old may came to provide "surprise" for us.  He began to play his harmonica and we soon realized he was playing our National Anthem.  We jumped to our feet and most had a tear in their eye. 

Next was a most delightful 6~ year old who did a wonderful rendition of an Aztec "deer dance"  There are 2 clips.  At the end of the first his shoe broke and he quickly collapsed into tears. Once his mother removed his shoes and convinced him to continue with bare feet, he immediately was back in the moment.  He was absolutely great.

Here is Deer Dance 1, and Deer Dance 2 [NOTE: that these are 3 and 5 meg files respectively, so be prepared]

They continued with singers, dancers and ended with a rock band.  There was quite a bit of talent in a little town and they all made us feel so special.

We left early in the AM to continue our way south to Guaymas.  Here's one of the streets coming into Guaymas and here we have just parked at the RV park .  This afternoon we had a party and a bonfire on the beach.  Tomorrow Carnival!! (for those not sure, that is Mardi Gras in Mexico)

February 26th thru 28th -- Wow, the party is over and the time flew by.  We found that we avoided the Carnival for the most part as it was very loud and you moved as the crowd moved, so we let them celebrate and we went elsewhere.  Afterward we did get a chance to see downtown Guaymas.

City Hall    A man feeding birds in the plaza 

 

Before leaving the area, we found a great little canyon just 5km north of San Carlos.  The canyon is Nacapule and there are 2 small oases within a half mile or so.  Lovely ponds teeming with life surrounded by palm and other trees.  It was a great spot to discover and when we were at the first oasis, we were treated to what we first thought were monkeys, but on close inspection saw they were coatimundis which are related to the raccoon.  They were busy eating fruit from a tree there and let us photo them to our hearts content.  Pictures from Canyon de Nacapule below.

The hikers-Sheri, Darryl, Donna, Don

Headed to the canyon entry

Great rock formations

A family of coatimundi. This one just kept posing

Can you find all 5 in this picture?

 

March...

On Monday, March 2 we moved about 150 miles to Bahia Kino (Kino Bay).  We came here because we heard the beaches were wonderful.  They are.  The RV Park we came to stay in was full so we ended up at the Saro Hotel which has only 4 apartments and an old, old RV park across the street.  We joined with our friends and rented one of the apartments that had a great patio on the beach.  They let us park our motor homes across the street.  We stayed in the RV, but used the condo for beach access.  Plan to be here about a week.

Sitting in front of the condo we rented

Looking north along the beach

Sunset the first night.

While in the area one of the group found a most interesting fledgling restaurante on the outskirts of town.    There were 2 signs on the fence. One said "What Pizza" and the other said "Pizza Paradiso".  The owners, Ken & Kristina   he's from the US, she's from Uruguay, say they hope to name it Deja Vu.  Kristina continued to wow us with a variety of dishes and breads, all cooked outdoors, some in clay ovens that Ken built, while Ken entertained us including singing after dinner.  Here is the group that ate dinner and we also came back for wonderous bread a couple of days later. 

March 7th -- On the 8th we traveled about 180 miles north On the way we stopped at Edgar and Anna's Punta Vista RV Park in Santa Ana, SON, MX.  This is Anna talking to Sheri & Don.  A great place for an overnight stop.  At their suggestion we had dinner at one of the many Carne Asada places in Santa Ana.  It was one of the best eating spots we have been to in Mexico. 

 

8th thru 18th -- On the 8th we moved about 180 miles west to Puerto Penasco, stopping at The Reef RV Park.    We spent the first 5 nights on the beach, but will be facing the sand dunes, and the beach beyond the park for the remaining nights.  We love this place.  Just vegging on the beach is good enough for most days.    We are eating local shrimp often and local tamales when we can get them.  We have been entertained with the antics of sea birds, passing sea lions and the dolphin family in the area.  The sunsets are breath-taking most nights.    Campfires on the beach.    Life can't get much better.

 

Our plans are to stop at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument when we leave here and then a couple of weeks in the Benson, AZ area.

18th thru 22nd -- We finally left The Reef in Puerto Penasco on the 18th and just drove about 70 miles to stop in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ.  It is only 5-6 miles north of the MX border.  In the 4 days we were here we did make 2 more trips into MX to return our visas and jeep hologram and to locate to geocaches.  Both trips we managed to picke up more beer :). 

We've passed by Organ Pipe before, but never stopped.  This will change as we have become very enamored with Organ Pipe, somewhat in the same way we like Big Bend NP.  A difference of note is that Organ Pipe is in the Sonoran desert where BBNP is in the Chichuahuan desert.  The Sonoran desert gets more rain than other deserts so is more lush with plant life.

The campground at Organ Pipe is a lovely spot just for you in the desert. Each campsite is carved out where you are surrounded by desert plants and animals.  Daily we saw quail, rabbits and lizards.  At night we could hear the coyotes yipping.

There are several drives thru the area and several hikes

The local mountains were impressive rock formations

There was a forest of saguaro and organ pipe cactus

As always we love the sunsets.

The bloom is mostly over for the yellow flowers

Beautiful but sticky

Many of the cactus and other local plants were in bloom while we were here.  So beautiful and so different.

22nd thru end of March -- On the 22nd we drove to Benson AZ.  We are staying at the SKP Saguaro RV Park here for 2 weeks.  Outside of a planned trip into Tucson to pick up wine, beer and visit a Sam's or Costco, we plan to sightsee the area, cache and visit with some friends that are here too. 

 

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   This site was last updated 06/03/10