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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Our Summer Plans

Rick Morgan

OK.... Grounded might be a little extreme. But our RV Adventures will be on somewhat of a sabbatical for most of the summer and fall.

Starting May 23rd our Broomfield bricks and sticks home will be undergoing a major foundation repair. It is a long story (3 years) but basically our home has been shifting causing some cracks in the walls, ceiling and foundation. After ongoing measurements and core sample evaluation our builder has determined that new micropiles and/or helical piers will be drilled and the entire foundation will be re-stabilized. At best, it will be a 4 month process plus a week toward the end of the year for interior repair.

As you can imagine there will be lots of jackhammering, drilling and pounding. In order to escape that craziness we will be parking our RV at the KOA in Walsenburg, CO about an hour away from our home. Our plan stay in the RV during  the disruptive and noisy periods.

During the construction it will be necessary for us to be available. So, we will not be taking off in July for 4-5 months as we have done in the past several years. We will however, still take our annual RV trip with two of our grandchildren.  This year we are heading to Abiquiu and Santa Fe in mid June.

Depending on how the construction goes, we may also try to get up into the mountains in August or September.

I know what many of you are thinking...Why do you even have a permanent home? Good question and there are lots of answers. The most important ones are family and friends.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Buenos Dias - Our Mexican Adventure #2

Rick Morgan

This is a second post in a series on our Mexican Adventure. The first one is here.

When on the beach there is no better way to start the day off than with breakfast burritos from Ricardo. Every morning he came by with a selection of homemade burritos, tamales, tortillas and the like. Yum.

Speaking of vendors…We found that one of the charms of being on the beach were the many vendors who walked the beach selling everything from handmade tables and blankets to offering pedicures and massages. 

While the beaches in Mexico are public the RV park was private and that meant that only a select few pre-approved vendors could come into the RV Park. Besides Ricardo, there was a RV wash and wax crew, a mobile RV repair guy, and Carlos Hernandez’s body repair and paint crew.

I know Carlos because I had him repair and paint the front of our Honda Fit. Some of you will remember that a couple of years ago a piece of wood flew off a truck on Hwy 10 outside of Palm Springs and damaged the front drivers side quarter panel. Also, the front was pretty pitted from being towed on dirt roads. To make a long story short we received a check from our insurance company for $1,200 but decided not to get stuff fixed until we were done towing the Honda. But for $150… yes $150 I couldn’t not get it repaired and painted – It is now as good as new.

But my story is nothing compared to our new friends John and Barb Ely who had their whole bus painted for less than ½ of what it would cost in the U.S. Another Escapee had received an insurance check for $7500 for damage to the front of their RV. Carlos saved them enough in Mexico for a trip to Europe.

Why so “cheap?” Well, instead of completely replacing parts with minor damage they fix the damage the old fashioned way – hand sanding and using special “putty like stuff” that works with plastic and fiberglass. Lots of labor but very little spent on replacement parts. Also, no insurance and no brick and mortar overhead (they painted gel coat and all right in the park). 

BTW – a wash was $1.00 per foot and $1.50 for wash and wax! Both our RV and Fit looked much better leaving the Reef RV park than when we arrived.

Getting new glasses was another great deal we took advantage of. We had previously gotten glasses in Los Algodones. While that experience was totally fine… This was even better. Optica Turati is a small independent shop. The advice and service were great. Like in Algodones you can bring your own prescription or get a free eye exam. Prices seem to be less than half of what they would be in the U.S. We both love our new glasses.

On the first full day at The Reef many signed up and went on a city tour. Another large group went on ATV/Jeep 4-wheeling adventure in the surrounding hills and desert.

We decided to take off on our own and explore around town. The Mercado (market) is where many of the restaurants and shops are as well as the plaza. JoAnne loves to bargain – a holdover from her Real Estate days. 

The Point one of our favorite restaurants is also is this area.

While shopping we got a $3.00, by hand car wash.

 We also drove up to the Lighthouse and walked out on the deck of the El Capitan restaurant to get a great view of the Puerto Penasco and the beautiful Sea of Cortez.

A few miles out of town we went on a quest to find oyster farms. Success! 

On the way we also stopped at Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO).

I mentioned that The Point was one of our favorite restaurants. Bedsides eating lunch here on this tour of town a few days later we met RV friends MonaLiza and John Lowe here for lunch as well. By sheer coincidence they arrived in Puerto Penasco 3 days after we did with a caravan organized by Winnebago Outdoor Adventures and were staying just down the road from us at Playa Bonita RV park. MonaLiza is great with a camera and keyboard and you can catch her blog on Puerto Penasco here.

A stop at the Tequila Factory was also a must. If you want to know everything there is to know about Tequila this is the place to go. We have been to plenty of wine tastings – this was our first tequila tasting. Of course we secured our legal limit to take back to the U.S. with us.

A gathering with friends to share the day’s experiences and enjoy the ocean breeze and watch the sun set over the Sea of Cortez was the custom.

 We also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at Chef Mickey’s. This was another very good restaurant. Happy Anniversary to us.

So, what else is there to do in Puerto Penasco…lots! Some of the highlights included a whale watching cruise, (and yes, we did see plenty of whales), 

and a group caravan to El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve. Thank heaven Woody and Sharon let us ride along with them in their jeep. I don’t think we would have made it in our little Honda Fit.

 Along with walking the beach and hunting for shells, fishing, golf and sea kayaking are also popular activities.

 There were also several fun Rally events. The highlight of which was the Mardi Gras party complete with a clown, king cupcakes, Sonoran Hotdogs, $1.00 Margaritas (proceeds went to charity) and lots of beads. 

The final night party at Mare Blu along with the Mariachi Band was also great fun.

 Charity is one of the core objectives for the Escapee Mexican Connection Chapter 8 when traveling in Mexico. Prior to the trip we were encouraged to bring a laundry list of items that could be donated to local charitable groups in Puerto Penasco. The group brought enough stuff to fill a small trailer. But that was only the beginning. One of the big events we were all encouraged to participate in was the Charity Auction. Basically, members of the rally donated crafts or other items they no longer wanted or needed. They were then raffled off with all the proceeds going to charity. For example, a bottle of Crown Royal was donated and auctioned off. The winning bid was $65. But the winner re-donated the Crown Royal and it was sold again for $65. And again it was re-donated and sold. Very Cool. When it was all said and done the Escapees had raised $7000 for local charities, $1,000 for CARE Center in Livingston, and $1000 seed money for next year’s Charity Auction. Wow!

 Early on Feb 16 we headed out on our own for the trip back to the U.S. Again, we had a quick and easy border crossing.

Some miscellaneous items. Google Maps worked great and helped us navigate around town with ease. We also used the Google Translate App and Convert App to help us with the language and peso conversion.

Gus the manager/owner of The Reef was amazing. No issue or request went unattended. Even “dumb gringo” questions were answered with patience. The park itself would be my choice out of the parks we have seen in the area. The sites are larger than other parks and both 30 and 50amp service is available.

The beach and park from our whale watching cruise
In my first post I talked about this rally being entirely organized and lead by volunteers. Orene Brown and her team did an amazing job. The organization was impressive. 

All of us “first timers” were warmly welcomed and encouraged to become involved in the many events.

A special thanks to Ron & Janet, Woody & Sharon, and John and Barb for your friendship.

We had a great time and are planning to return for a month next October.