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The best breakfast. no wait, and lunch, and dinner? Where do I start? Baja of course!

What better way to start your day than sitting down next to a few Storm Troopers or Darth Vader, wait, that was just a picture;) Huevo Republic is the place to start. Located right on the road from Ensenada to San Antonio de La Minas this treasure will bring a smile to your face and you will leave rubbing a happy tummy providing you can find a seat! Weekends are packed, weekdays a bit easier!

The whimsy and wonderful sense of sci-fi humour along with the attentive service will keep you coming back! I think I need to try every dish, this could take a few months;) Love their bathroom doors! Now for some lunch…How about real thin crust wood fired pizza? Casa Don René- Calle Tercera, Av. Gral. Lázaro Cárdenas y, Chapultepec walking distance from Estero Beach Hotel.

On Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday all day you can choose from their delicious menu of Italian and Mexican thin crust pizzas cooked in their amazing wood fired oven. Pizza al Pastor was to die for, pepperoni hit the spot, all served in a beautiful natural setting that is a succulent and cactus garden center during the week.

This family run business is all smiles and wonderful service. Their breakfast special was outstanding, the coffee, made a non coffee drinker want to order one, that aroma! Frijoles de olla cooked over wood, their birria de borrego for three could feed an army, we ate it all and Saturday we stopped by to find a pig roasting over manzanita wood…we stayed for breakfast and took home a kilo of cochito (wood roasted pig) for dinner! Did I mention their breakfasts?

Machaca de Sonora….sigh…. The Mexican cattle industry is in the hot and dry northwestern corner of the country. In the days before refrigeration, ranchers in the Sonoran Desert would cut their beef into thin slices and hang it to dry into jerky, a fast process when it’s 110 degrees with no humidity. The result was carne seca (“dried meat”) that would later be shredded and/or re-hydrated to make machaca. Combine that with onions, peppers and scrambled eggs…heaven…It was my favourite dish as a child:) Comfort food for me. I was lucky to get pictures the forks were digging in so fast;) Now for lunch somewhere…

Tacos de pescado El Johnny...I felt like we were cheating on Lupita’s but we had to try this spot close to the mailboxes:) Mike tried the taco Gobernador, grilled shrimp, cheese and smoked marlin in a slightly crispy taco, a squeeze of lime did it. I tried the fish, and the shrimp tacos, light batter, maybe with some baking powder in it I think, and he made a shrimp taco out of just grilled shrimp as well that was out of this world! so much food, so little time. Dinner is going to have to wait! Time for a nap like this hummingbird! Stay tuned amigos and we’ll do dinner soon! Promise!!!

Nap time! I can’t eat another bite!
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Can you ever actually eat too many tacos? Ha!

This blog may not suitable for vegans and vegetarians 😉

I can’t believe I ate all those tacos!

Rocket and Mike say no, never enough, as long as you can fit a siesta between them all;) I may have to agree. The street food in Ensenada and the Valle de la Guadalupe is an never ending buffet of fabulous tacos, fish, al pastor and carne asada as well as birrias from beef to borrego, sheep that is. For those of you familiar with nothing more than the sad excuse of a hard shell taco often offered across the border we have a primer for you: Tacos, most of the time here in Mexico are served on a soft corn tortilla, not flour, you will show your gingo-ness by asking for flour unless you want a quesadilla:) Here we go:

Al Pastor/Adobada: (these are not carnitas, that is something completely different) Al pastor (from Spanish, “shepherd style”) is a taco made with spit-grilled or propane fired pork. Based on the lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, al pastor features a flavor palate that combines traditional Middle Eastern spices with those indigenous to central Mexico. Often basted in achiote with a pineapple affixed to the top of a shawarma type vertical grill that lets the juice of the pineapple sweeten the pork. They are often served on small sized tortillas de maiz, which means you can eat even more!

Pescado/Camarón: Fish/Shrimp tacos originated in Baja California, where they consist of deep fried fish/ and or shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo (cut up tomato, onion, serrano peppers, lime and cilantro) and a sour cream or citrus/mayonnaise sauce, all placed on top of a corn or flour tortilla with an assortment of other salsas. You can sometimes get grilled fish if you are watching your fat intake, they are pricier as you get more fish, less fried coating, and of course deep fried shrimp. Try them with the pickled onions at Lupita’s in Maneadero! And her caldos, or soups of seafood and shrimp are to die for, actually, everything they make…try it!

Carne Asada: In Spanish, carne literally means “flesh/meat/beef” and asada means “grilled meat.” Best grilled on wood/carbon but can be done on a large grill, sometimes a griddle but then it steams more than roasts. You will be asked “con todo?” this means the meat, salsa (sometimes quite hot), beans and guacamole or you can customize what you want:) Often served with radishes and lots of lime slices:)

Birria: is a dish from the state of Jalisco I have read…you can correct me if I am wrong:) The dish is a spicy stew, traditionally made from goat meat or lamb, but most often in Baja from beef. Birrias de borrego-is lamb-birria de cabra is goat. It is often much softer, and very juicy. You can get a cup of the broth on the side, so delicious:)

and this is just the start. At many taco stands they specialize in one or two types of tacos, at many-all kinds! This is one of our “go-to” places in Chapultepec-the best “adobada” also known as “al pastor”, They have a large variety of things Mike has tried, that I have not;)

Tortas are sandwiches of carne asada or al pastor, or mixto, the two, on puffy white buns (that are usually grilled) or bolillos in the supermarket. Quesataco, means-taco with cheese, same for the tortas-Quesotorta-quesadillas, tortillas with cheese- Cabeza: (lit. ‘head’) is the meat from a roasted head of an animal, usually a cow here in Baja. Typically, the whole head is placed on a steamer or grill, and customers may ask for particular parts of the body meats they favor such as Cachete, which is cheek. Buche: refers to the stomach of the pig. When stewed for several hours with a variety of spices and chilies, the meat breaks down to a tender, somewhat chewy texture -and Tripa: are the small intestines of farm animals that have been cleaned, boiled and grilled. Chicharón are fried pork rinds that are soft, not crispy, after being simmered in salsa verde for a spicy, somewhat chewy (but in a good way) combination. Sesos: are beef or calf brains (I do draw the line at brains). There is something for everyone! So far no liver tacos but I am sure they exist somewhere, all washed down with a fine glass of chianti;) In downtown Ensenada you can get grilled or fried grasshoppers, called chapulines. They are toasted on a comal (broad flat cast iron frying pan) with garlic, lime juice, chili and salt lending a sour-spicy-salty taste to the finished product. We have only touched the tip of the taco iceberg. There are actually many vegetarian and vegan tacos, just that I have not got around to trying everything when al pastor and asada, are just so damn good! Bad me;)

And don’t forget to skip the sodas and wash down anything with an agua fresca-agua de jamaica which translates as “hibiscus water”is a delicious bright red/purple drink made by steeping hibiscus flowers, called flor de jamaica to produce a concentrate which you dilute with water and sweeten with sugar. Extremely high in vitamin C!
My favourite is “horchata”(pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is a drink made with rice and is flavored with cinnamon and sweetened with sugar. The rice, sometimes along with some nuts or seeds, is ground and mixed with water to make a milky looking drink. It tastes like a milkshake! YUM!

So many tacos…so little room in my stomach! Time for a brisk walk around the estuary so we can start again tomorrow;) Saludos amigos! Provecho! Enjoy! Stay tuned for the best breakfasts, Mexican wood fired pizza, pig on a spit, seafood galore and some fine dining thrown in for good measure!

A little piece of paradise…

It means different things to different people. It has to do with a mindset sometimes. Perhaps just the ability to appreciate the smallest joys in life give us the greatest rewards:) Those wonderful little bits of nature hidden in the city and some kind souls as well. We call this the “zombie apocalypse block, without the zombies”…there is Myrtle, our 5th wheel at the end of the block, on the left, in a space that once probably held a trailer, that then had a house built over it, that was then torn down. There are many empty spaces here now that once held trailers with houses built around them, a few still exist, some have been replaced with actual small houses, beautifully kept, adorned with colourful Mexican tiles and no trailer, but the ones that are still here are very cool. Travel trailers from the 50’s and 60’s with porthole windows and curbed ends, throwbacks to a more artistic, rather than, “how cheap can we make them” time.

Now about the zombie thing, we are perhaps 95% of the time here on our own, not a soul on the block other than the security guard who rides his bike down the road a few times a day and an occasional group of walkers out for their morning constitutional chatting away as they pass us by….ah…I like that peace:) This is the low rent district, this street, of the Estero Beach “permanentes” where they have so graciously allowed us to back up our trailer and stay for months at a time…and only a short walk away…

…at the other end of the street, is the estuary. At high tide the small sand beach can be covered in hundreds of Marbled Godwits (who invented that name?) and Willets, often joined by a huge flock of Pacific Skimmers. At low tide you can walk for miles and mingle with the Egrets and Herons fishing in the tide pools with the curlews and sandpipers, so much nature, so close. At sunset the colours reflect off the water sitting in the pools, it is magic.

At the edge of the estuary the Kestrels nest with a Kingfisher close by, Terns fly over fishing in the shallow pools and the Ospreys are busy gathering nesting material. The Red Tail Hawks have been circling, you can hear their “kee,kee,kee” call from afar. It is a magic cacophony of bird calls filling the air on any given day, during the week mixed with the roar of the Mexican military “Texanos” planes, North American T-6’s that the Mexican military use here for training, they land and take off all day, buzzing about, man made birds.

The trees and bushes along the paths and between the rows of the houses are full of life. The “LBB’s”, little brown birds, better than “LBJ’s” Mike pointed out, could be taken out of context…dirty minds;) House Sparrows and Finches mix with the Doves, Kingbirds, Flycatchers and the ever chatty Mockingbirds.

Feathered life that is, although the other night a rather large skunk ambled across the small brick road here going from one house to another…oh, and those hummingbirds! We had Mr. Anna’s, and finally the ladies have shown up this week. A surprise visitor was an Allen’s perched in the trees a few days ago. A beauty. Waiting for the Costa’s to make an appearance before we head North now!

An array of dogs and cats share this space, mostly loose, they come by and visit. Some from the town, a mother followed by her pups ambling across the tidal flats. The small white dog down the road has made friends with Rocket, Gamora is still intent on killing him;) Benito, the local orange cat is a bit wary now after he tried to attack Gamora, both Mike and Groot put the run on him and he only slinks around a night, as well as a large black cat who makes his rounds. Nina the blue eyed super model cat lives down the road as well, she comes out to say hello when I have wandered by her abode. Our furry guys do love the beach, a giant Kitty Litter…should we warn the small children playing there;)…nah! All a a part of life!

Well, I’ve gone on long enough…I will be running into TLDR group soon…too long didn’t read….for the short attention span theater out there;) I did my rant a few days ago so, no more about that, I may have offended a few…ha! Hope you enjoyed the small slice of life here:)

Saludos amigos-stay tuned for some Baja food, let’s get ready to drool!!!

♫♪♫ Fly me to the moon Let me play among the stars Let me see what spring is like On a-Jupiter and Mars ♪♫♪

January is gone, what a night to say farewell and move into February…We had a great group of local Estero Beach residents that showed up for some stunning views just after sunset and got to take away their own cell phone shots of this lovely orb. Is it not amazing what a small cell phone camera can capture, but I am spoiled with the views through Mike’s 18″ Dobsonian Starstructure telescope with it’s amazing Carl Zambuto mirror.

Conditions were favourable, which means: The atmosphere is in continual motion with changing temperatures, air currents, weather fronts and dust particles. These factors cause the star images to twinkle. If the stars are twinkling considerably we have “poor” seeing conditions and when the star images are steady we have “good” seeing conditions…which in turn gives us steady, non blurry views of the objects we are looking at, especially as we raise the magnification…geeky astronomer talk, so now you know what these guys are talking about in the dark;)

Usually I get Mike to put in the 21 mm Ethos eyepiece which allows me to capture the entire moon in one image, as the seeing conditions improve the magnification can be increased, last night we went to the 13 mm Ethos, then finally to the 8 mm Ethos eyepiece…absolutely stunning views of this beautiful moon.

So we will be out again tonight, if you are nearby please do not hesitate to stop in for an amazing view of our February moon;) Best part about showing people this view is the unsolicted comments, best from last night was “Holy shit! That is amazing!” attached please find a link to our good friend Attilla Danko’s Expletive Scale (Not suitable for kids) of astronomical observations.

Saludos amigos! Stay tuned for bird and sunset shots from this little piece of paradise here in Baja.

Just before first quarter-in colour

Hello 2020

As we jump into a new decade, fraught with the perils of other people’s choices, war and hate, great human loss and grief for so many I realize just how lucky we are to breath in the air we do, have clean water to drink, look at the magnificent wildlife we share our lives with and the good friends that make every day a wonder. It could all disappear so quickly…

How is it as a species we managed to visit this amazing moon so many decades ago and the joint efforts of so many nations helping each other. How has greed consumed so many, entitlement and the fact so many are felt owed something? Where did it all go so wrong? As a child the border crossing into Nogales said “Welcome to Mexico” and on the way back “Welcome to the USA”…no gate, no guards, what happened? Can we go back? Where did all the fear come from? “Be safe” seems to be the new “See you later”, or “Have a wonderful trip”. Do we spend our lives avoiding mega stores, schools and churches, all public open air gatherings for fear that some lunatic with an assault weapon is mad and/or deranged and is going to have their revenge on the unknowing public? I don’t know and I’m not sure there is an answer as so many things are so deeply rooted. The fear, the racism, the disappointment, the anger, yes, so much anger…it breaks my heart.

I turn to the natural world for solace and answers sometimes, which so many seemed divorced from. The trend towards urban living has left so many people out of the loop of nature. It can teach us so much, and it also is a wake up call. After all our enlightening renaissances and so called civilization we are ultimately, mammals. We are territorial, we fight, we kill, sadly not just to eat anymore but for pleasure it seems, we do not seem to have learned much, the same mistakes and wars seem to happen over and over again. As a Sci-fi fan I often hope for some alien intervention to remove all weapons/banish hate before we do completely destroy this beautiful planet and the other amazing and wonderful non human inhabitants, plants and trees we share it with. I long for hope, but often feel dismay, so much dismay that reading the news becomes a herculean task. I have to resort to the Far Side on a daily basis before I wade through the ridicule that is politicians and celebrities;)…sigh…audible sigh…only time will tell if we are able to react as a species to save what is our pale blue dot…the only earth we know.

January 5th moon

We try to share this view when seeing and conditions let us and it has been a good week of sharing. Maybe some spark will form in the mind of a youngster that will allow us to move beyond our current mindset and embrace tolerance worldwide…just maybe, it is possible.

Saludos y abrazos amigos! Live, love, nurture….

Oh, Mexico

♫♪♫ Oh, Mexico,
It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low
The moon’s so bright like to light up the night
Make everything all right ♫♪♫

~James Taylor~

El Poco Cielo-La Misión

Border crossings are always fun…not! But we have the system down fairly well, far right lane with the buses in San Ysidro, wait for the lovely customs ladies, they take a passport and the truck and trailer registrations while we proceed to the gigantic X Ray. Put the cats, all of them, whew, they are getting heavy, in the carrier and hide behind the kryptonite wall so we are not damaged by any errant rayos and then back into the truck when the “all clear” word is given and then we wait…usually after 10 minutes of exploring their x-rays they return our papers and off we go…not this time. The girl came back with a perplexed look and said they found something, no dead bodies;) but, my sinister looking cordless drill and the box of drill bits…guns and ammunition certainly…not! We opened the slidespart way enough to open the 2nd kitchen drawer and remove the scary looking drill and bits and then, Mike, what an amazing driver, had to back up back onto the ramp of the gigantic x-ray machine for a 2nd pass…all clear…and eventually we were on our way to the toll road. Note to self, next time, store drill, and bits, with the other tools in the pass through!

We decided to check out the Clam Beach RV Resort South of La Mision for a few days, always checking out new spots, beach here has always looked nice so we stopped in. A few trailers, fewer people, real 50 amp service, water and sewer and friendly owners. Wifi did not work in the campground but the owners assured it was available in the club house but we did not try. A few sites back onto the beach but we chose a bit longer one a few spots down. Lot’s of work going into this place but a bit too much concrete for us. Beach was lovely, lot’s of wading birds but too much traffic noise from the Mexico 1, the wall helps but we need a bit more wild, and cat cover;) they are not savannah cats they keep telling us, they want jungle! trees! but a modern spot for those looking to sit on the beach, or surf it seems, we are still discussing what makes an “RV park” a “resort” but we have come away with no answer to that one;)

Mike was not going to cook for a few days he declared and wanted tacos, and huevos rancheros and margaritas, and more tacos, not necessarily in that order! We found some tacos in La Mision for dinner and breakfast at La Fonda in the morning and margaritas at Poco Cielo the next night…ah, Mexico:) Passed by La Casa Gótica for a few shots of the amazing and somewhat bizarre and chaotic artwork, dubbed the Satan house by some Bible toting folks it is a wild and crazy mishmash of cultures and ideas, Gods and Goddesses, sea creatures, angels and gargoyles, something for EVERYONE and absolutely fabulous!

There were quite a few beach and wading birds, a flycatcher in the scrubby bushes, Plovers nimbly running from one small dune to the next. I’ll need to brush up on my ID skills for all these wading birds! The sound of the surf was a welcome change to the fighter jets and massive helicopters that had been the massive sound pollution in Santee the last few days. Sigh, it was nice, even with the quintessential sound of the Mexican trucker’s jake brake every 2nd truck;) Good to be back in Baja!

Groot was indeed quite happy to be back at Estero Beach, his old stomping grounds:) We backed in perfectly to our spot at the end and Groot delighted in sniffing about and having a hissing spat with Benito, the local orange Tomcat, “How rude!” said Groot, Gamora was ready to take him and Rocket didn’t back down as well. Poor Benito snuck off, not having impressed anyone;) He patrols the back wall and looks in our big window most nights;)

We’ve missed this view:)

The sound of surf and birds:) Wonderful. It is amazingly quiet here for being in the city, yet you can walk to the corner store for groceries, and tacos of all kinds and cocteles de camarón, ceviche;) and yes, we will be eating copious quantities of tacos Mike has proclaimed!

The feasting has begun;) and the birding. The estuary is home to thousands of birds. Both permanent residents, as well as migrating ones:) It is a delight to follow the tides and patterns of these many inhabitants on the shore and inland!

At high tide the Willets circle in the hundreds looking for places to land. The Egrets fly from shore to shore, chasing each other away from the prime fishing spots. The Snowy gets chased off by the Reddish Egret, who in turn gets chased away by the Great Egret who in turn gets chased away by the Great Blue Heron! So much drama;) And the Tri-coloured and Black Crowned Night Herons have yet to make an appearance! Heronville;)

…and that is just the Egrets and Herons. We’ll save something for next week, we will need a bit of walking to burn off that turkey and coconut cream pie that was requested;) Solstice has come and gone, the days are now getting longer, slowly but surely and we won’t feel like it is 10 pm when it is 5, more time to poke about the shoreline and beyond.

It has been a bit of a tough year, well, really tough. Hard to say Goodbye to my father, he is missed, by so many. I am so thankful for the wonderful family and friends we do have, we are so fortunate to count them in our lives, and our little and big four footed ones. From angels to little devils they are what bring us so many smiles every day. I’ll leave you with a little devil, sleeping…he came to us when I really needed some joy in my life, and I am so grateful to what sent him, his energy, his photons to interact with ours. From our trailer to you, wherever you are, we wish you peace and happiness and remember it comes with all the little things in our lives, things money can’t buy:)

Felices fiestas para ti:) whatever your religion or beliefs maybe! May Peace be with you.

Saludos amigos and see you next year! ha!

Sweet dreams little Rocket

Holiday Survival guide…join the birds;)

We left Tucson, planned an overnight stop in Yuma, well, Winterhaven West of Yuma exactly, land of the aged, if you don’t have a walker or a cane at the RV park we stopped at your are regarded with great suspicion…”Just WHAT are we doing here?”…people walked by without even acknowledging you were there…geez, maybe we weren’t? maybe we were in a parallel universe and just thought we were there;) Maybe it WAS 1935…and this car was new;)

No wonder no one wanted to look at us, people from the future…we certainly would be dressed oddly;) As we dieseled up at the very busy Corner gas, Circle K, possibly the slowest diesel pump we have ever encountered, 20 minutes to fill the tank…some patient and not so patient people were coming and going in a very chaotic way. The diesel pump had a TV on it blaring out various commercials. I had a flash of “Blade Runner” and the talking billboards….as we sat there for 20 minutes…”Where have we brought ourselves to?” I asked Mike…1935 to 2019….OMG, that is the year Blade Runner was set in! Ha! Knew it! We hightailed it first thing in the morning before the people from Cocoon showed up;)

I had to include a smattering of billboards from the I 8 as we headed into Yuma;) Wait for the California ones;)

Sunday traffic, coming back…never again on a Thanksgiving weekend will we do this. This could be my movie quote blog maybe but it looked like a cleaned up version of “Mad Max” as at every on and off ramp muddy toy haulers and trailers, A classes and cabovers, from shabby to multimillion dollar rigs, it felt like a dystopian world was getting onto the Interstate 8 at every turn, all headed West, some unaware of how to merge;)…After getting to the 4th summit and into San Diego county having passed dozens of these vehicles, I was feeling perplexed by the number of trailers and trucks, driven by one man, no family, no friends, just one guy, and his toys…crawling along at 35mph on the grades up into Devils Canyon, ascending 3000′ in 11 miles of almost bumper to bumper Mad Max traffic!

It was with a sigh of relief we hit the last summit and started our downwards descent into El Cajon. I wish everyone towing a trailer, or a bike would stop and take a moment to check their tire speed rating, obviously many are not aware they are rated at 55 mph…and try to pass you at 85 with the entire rig fishtailing around the road…Darwin awards are in order…

California Billboards…hahahahaha!

We settled into a familiar spot at Santee Lakes Campground and were a bit perplexed by how empty it was, not something we are used to seeing here in December. All the nicer:) Was hoping for some beach weather but the rain clouds came and gave us a soaking, one morning I went clothed in shorts and a T-Shirt with an old yellow wet weather gear top and proceeded to scrub Myrtle, the trailer from top-to bottom:) If the weather Gods give you rain..well…Use It! We now have clean windows, Yeah, and a rather respectable looking rig I must say…some other wives may have been muttering to their husbands “No way sweet cheeks, not doing that” as several husbands could be seen the following day cleaning theirs;) One afternoon the sun came out I got out and around the lakes to look at my bird friends:)

The regulars were about. Hordes of Northern Shoveler pairs are swimming in tiny little circles around each other in a strange mating ritual it seems. The Ring Necked and Rudy ducks have arrived, but no Wood Ducks or Widgeons yet. A great deal of Mallards as usual and the resident Egrets and Herons. I even caught the Greenie in the reeds after a Snowy chased him away from a favourite fishing spot no doubt!

This is my refuge, these beautiful feathered creatures. Made the mistake of shopping late in the day and forgot what this time of year is about, cranky, humourless people in a hurry…I even put my big ole Grinch boots on for a bit until I saw this quote by Edward Abbey-”  I am not an atheist but an earthiest. Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. To die alone, on rock under sun at the brink of the unknown, like a wolf, like a great bird, seems to me very good fortune indeed.”

You did notice he said “good bread”…hard to find here;) As an Earthiest. I really don’t celebrate Christmas, it would be hypocritical of me, maybe a solstice drink instead;) All this rush, and fuss, and glaring lights, people stressing about money and gifts, really bad elevator Christmas music and a life size Santa at a family members house broke my mood and made me howl with laughter, that would scare the shit out of you if you got up to pee in the middle of the night…I wonder how many have been shot at! You could pick up a pair, Mr. and Mrs. they are on sale for $749.99, reduced from $999.00…Welcome to America, the land that takes everything, and commercializes it until has no meaning anymore…

It was way too much fun googling life size Santas…I couldn’t find any Indian or Muslim Santas, nor Chinese or even Star trek ones;) A few drinking wine with rosy cheeks and a wicked looking pot smoking one! ha! To each their own this year for me. If it brings you joy do it, it just does nothing for me. In the spirit would be stopping for a pedestrian, instead of nearly running them over, holding a door, saying please and thank you. Instead of buying and wrapping a gift, plant a tree for someone, or a few hundred;) we are going to need them Greta says!

Now some more about those birds….they keep me coming back!

The joy of coming to this West coast city is not really the city itself or it’s millions of people but a just few special ones that are our clan:) I’m the favorite niece, usually said with a grin as I always remind my uncle I am his only niece;), my fabulous rabbit loving cousin, check out Bronle’s amazing work, Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit and her jaw dropping art at: https://bronlecrosby.com/ and my wonderful brother and family. When he is not booked solid for months working on some multi million dollar yacht…http://offshoreoutfitters.com/ he always makes time and comes to the rescue for all my silly electrical and otherwise questions! These people are my heroes!

But time to go, a rest has been had, now it is time to head South, home, to Baja. It always feels that way. You should visit, turn off your Fox news and talk radio and just go, smile and that smile will be returned…it is a wonderful feeling having a simple communication that states “I honour your presence as another human being!”

Saludos amigos!

Hello Arizona

I could have stayed at City Of Rocks and explored for a lot longer than we did, but it was a bit of a scouting trip, we’ll be back. The area is so full of history but we had reservations in Tucson. Our go to place when we can get in (it is fully booked for February and March) is the Desert Trails RV park. The sites are quirky, the park close to miles of walking and biking paths and the overall vibe friendly, not quite so old as some spots, they call themselves an over”40″ park;)

It sits where an old amusement park used to be, complete with slides;) Quirky but fun, and the people who run it are very kind. The sites out at the edges provide the best views for wildlife. Bunnies and quails frolic, as well as the occasional coyote in broad daylight. The laundry and gym are wonderful and hey, food trucks come in twice a week! The minuses are there is a gun/skeet range close by and on the weekends the boom of gunfire in the distance can be a drag:(

As we were pulling into the RV park arriving from New Mexico the Progressive insurance car was following us in:) We have dealt with Brett before and has always been a very kind and fair to deal with, unlike some people’s insurance woe tales. He hopped up on the roof and started taking notes of the damages and was wrapped up in no time flat. He saw damage I didn’t! We’d done some homework on where we might want to take Myrtle for repairs but with the unsettled weather we will have to wait for February and a sunny week as they are going to replace the entire TPO roof which had several tears from a rogue oak going into Del Rio, Texas on a suburban street:( In the meantime, a caulking gun has helped seal the roof tears as well as some duct tape on the smashed skylights and roof vents:) Over all the repairs will take a week we were told so we have also started scouting for cat friendly places to take the kids;)

Other area bonuses-well the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is down the road:) you can not go wrong with a visit to this beautiful living museum. Their Raptor Free flight over the winter is such a beautiful sight! Stay for both the 10am and 2pm flights as the birds are different. Skip the restaurants and cafes though…not very good from our experience unless mediocre Mexican tacos, weird taco salad bowls (yuc), pita bread pizza and sad soggy burgers are your go to foods;)

Best time of year-late Spring when everything is blooming and the hummingbirds are migrating but it is a treat anytime of year:) We got to watch a beautiful barn owl as well as the stunning Gray Hawks and finally the Harris Hawk family-giving polyandry a good name;)

The peregrine falcon was so fast I didn’t even get a shot off…too slow;) The rest of these beautiful birds co-operated with perfect spots from where I was standing to both watch and photograph them:) Ended the visit with a trip to the Hummingbird aviary after a walk through cat canyon:)

The Broad Billed and Rufous were very busy but I didn’t see a Costas or Anna’s, maybe later in the year. A beautiful Queen Butterfly put on quite a show in the pollinators garden.

You didn’t have to go to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum to see birds. A pair of Gila Woodpeckers drove the cats nuts as they sat on the wooden fence behind the trailer. Cactus Wrens and Curve Billed Thrashers scurried about in the cholla cactus. Rocket learned about prickly stuff on his walks!

I put our feeders out and we had all kinds of visitors over the week. An Anna’s hummingbirds immediately took over ownership of the feeder stuck to the window, and another to one hanging off the ladder.

Our Thanksgiving surprise came in the form of a messenger message from fellow DRV owners Debby and Garth whom we met in New Mexico at a Harvest Hosts Winery, this same time last year! A pair of lovely fellow Canadians! She saw our Astrogypies wifi when they stopped and hooked up to the Desert Trails internet and said! “HEY! We know them!” Three trailers down!! We enjoyed several wonderful conversations and a few bottles of wine, as well as a fabulous Thanksgiving Potluck meal with many of our fellow RV and trailer neighbours! What a treat to catch up and hear their adventures and mishaps and new places to go! Look forward to seeing them in Tombstone on our way back where they are spending the Winter!

I sometimes have to remember to take more pictures of the trailer and where we are at, instead I wander off in search of birds, plants, bugs and sunsets, not a bad thing but I often think, wow, I should have taken a picture of where the trailer is, and around the different parks so mental note to self…vary the photography;) Stay tuned as we head further South, survive the cocoon zombies, minus the alien fountain, in Yuma and the Thanksgiving weekend traffic returning to San Diego! Saludos amigos!

Our neighbours were on their roof navigating around solar panels with his tripod photographing the sunset, I was not quite that ambitious;) Ha!

Sunset in the desert

Hello! New Mexico-home of the “THING”…0_0

Ah, nice to have a change in billboards;) You know you are in New Mexico when “the Thing” billboards start to show up several hundred miles before the actual “thing”. We must have stopped here 10 years ago to poke about the moccasins and trinkets that look like they came from Mexico but are made in China and the dusty displays of the odd and curious. According to Wikipedia:

The exhibit—which used to cost one dollar for adults and seventy-five cents for children to enter—used to lead to three prefabricated corrugated steel sheds with overhead fluorescent track lighting. Inside are a variety of exhibits, including odd wood carvings of tortured souls by famous wood carver Ralph Gallagher, the “Wooden Fantasy” of painted driftwood purchased from an Alamogordo, New Mexico collector, framed 1880s to early 1900s lithographs, historic engraved saddles, guns and rifles of historic Western significance, a Conestoga wagon from Oklahoma! (Southern Pacific 1673, also appearing in Oklahoma!, is located at the Tucson, Arizona, train station), a buggy without a horse, and a vintage American automobile from the 1930s. Most of the exhibits are dusty but historically significant, and worthy of restoration. A sign by a 1937 Rolls-Royce mentions that it may have been used by Adolf Hitler, a supposition reiterated by the originator of the exhibit. Winding corridors and exhibit halls with painted monster footprints on the floors eventually lead to the “Thing”, a mummified, likely female “Mother” of possibly Chinese or Native American descent (note the facial features and the addition of the Chinese worker hat and clothes) who died or likely was killed in the 1880s to early 1900s, and a mummified “Child” age and descent unknown but inferred to be the son or daughter of the “Mother”. They are presented in separate but closely linked displays, coffin, and small coffin, bedding, and scratched plexiglass covering. One story as to the origin of the “Thing” are that the “Mother” and “Child” were illegal border crossers who were found and slaughtered by unknown cowboy bandits during a shootout and found decades later as mummified bodies by a rancher in the area who sold them to the owner/originator of the “Thing”. But in this story, the harshness of the truth will never be uncovered, and the “Thing” will remain a mystery.

In August 2018, the Bowlin Travel Centers unveiled a brand new modern museum building and other updates to house, in some order or theme, most of the items formerly ‘stored’ in the three sheds. The new owners have also added a new Alien & Dinosaur theme that visitors first encounter upon entering the museum. In addition to the upgrades, the cost of admission has also increased to $5 per person or $10 per family. It is worth a stop if you never have;)

Our first night we spent at a lovely Harvest Hosts-Sombra Antigua Winery near Anthony, New Mexico. They have electric available for a $12 charge and as the temperatures were headed South we decided to plug in, keep old Beezil’s fireplace going;) The next day dawned clear and cool as we left for City of Rocks State Park. We only managed to get a reservation for one night, only two of the electric sites are reservable at all but hoped we’d get one of the first come/first serve sites. The clouds and wind started to roll in as we headed North at Deming, the park is about 30 miles off the 10. We were treated to the most spectacular rainbow we have ever seen, the colours were so vivid! Rain and sun, rain and sun until the turn off to the park, past a hot springs resort called Faywood and on to this small 640 acre park.

“City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations found here. The park encompasses a one square mile area in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns, or pinnacles, rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns seen today, creating a stunning, otherworldly landscape.” Thanks Parks New Mexico!

We had site #8 reserved for the night but #6, a first come first serve site was also available so we took that! Yeah! at least two nights here! We wandered down to the beautiful visitor center and told the ranger we had switched sites, no charge, and paid for an additional day. There is a total of 9 W/E sites here with 30 and or 50 amp hookups but no sewer, or dump station except at the Valero gas station in Demning. The cats were waiting at the door. They missed their walk at Sombra Antigua Winery due to the old, but large loose German Shepard on the property, they were chomping on the bit to get out! It was a 5 paw stop they said after their walk, the highest rating there is;) Excellent paths, rocks to climb on, bunnies and birds…heaven:)

We had a few showers and by morning the rabbits and hares were huddled under the bushes, a few house finches had found the feeder but it was cold and windy. A Raven came and wandered about the site. We crossed our fingers for it to clear for the upcoming meteor shower:)

We contemplated going for a soak at the Faywood Hot Springs next door but the thought of getting in the truck and going anywhere kept us walking and exploring instead. next visit, as there will certainly be one on the way back!

It did eventually clear but the wind was howling and it was cold and sadly…we only saw four or five meteors in several hours of watching. There was a pair of Great Horned Owls hooting back and forth at each other! Magical! I did take advantage of the dark sky to do a short star trail, I headed in after 57 minutes! Getting too cold! I should have had my Canadian parka and long underwear! The trailer who had a light on that I was cursing actually lit up the rocks a bit for the shot so I forgave them;) Who in their right mind leaves their outdoor lights on in such a beautiful dark sky!

Sad about the meteor shower but you never know with these things! The sky was sensational! They have regular star parties here so hopefully we can meet up with some fellow sky gazers in the future!

I have to admit to wanting to stay longer but with our reservation made in Tucson it was time to pack up and go. Progressive Insurance was also scheduled for a visit to look at the branch damage done we think, going into Del Rio, Texas. Our bathroom skylight was torn open, bathroom vents flung to the ditches and the Digital TV antenna swiped off and everything scratched and scraped on top including some roof tears…but that will be another story;) Saludos amigos and stay tuned for Tucson!

To tuck, or not to tuck, we’ll get into this later, but first…how can they proclaim this to be God’s Country or did word come from above?

How does one proclaim they are God’s country? Self proclamation no doubt! Maybe Kanye West told them…Ha! The 90 runs across Texas East to West slightly South of the Interstate and we wanted off of that! Enough freeways, these State Roads are often in better shape than the interstates and always far more interesting as you pass through the many small towns. Those billboards, guns for sale, try before you buy and more God. They seem to go hand in hand down here in Texas. We were on our way to Del Rio, Texas to an small RV park with laundry, yes it was laundry time:)

The town looked quaint, lots of little antique stores downtown in the narrow one way road through the main section then we veered into a residential area before arriving at the RV park. It wasn’t until the next day we discovered we’d found a low hanging branch that removed the digital TV antenna, the bathroom skylight and several of the caps for the vents..sigh…always something. Rocket enjoyed walking on the fence where a fabulous cicada skeleton was left after it molted. Friendly folk and and a great laundry/lounge as well but an RV park. We did a shopping run to the local H.E.B. grocery chain, hey they had potato chips made of REAL potatoes! Is it just me or is this an oxymoron? or have we the public become seen as such idiots they feel they must spell these out…I am offended;) Ha!

We taped up the damage to the roof and skylight with some duct tape and left for the Davis Mountains following the 90 along the Rio Grande and the Mexico/US border, past the migra stops and NW. This looks like old cowboy country you have seen in dozens of western movies, wide open spaces and cattle company signs dotting the barb wire fences on the range;) It is dry here, like Baja, the driest time of the year, just before the Winter storms start.

Davis Mountains State Park is one of our go-to places in this part of the world! Several sites along the hill-22, 24 and 26 are full hook up and so private, looking up the hill, the Mule Deer wander by every morning and Javelinas root about in the evening:) We had two nights reserved and when we got there, we added two more because they were available! Time for a 4 night break!

Davis Mountains campground map-#22-24 and 26 are very private pull throughs with lots of nature. They are full hook up as well!

We also wanted to visit the McDonald Observatory again, Mike needed some additions to his wardrobe, astronomy related T-Shirts-his once a year shopping spree! Ha! We decided to do a tour! Great tour guide, very informative about the two telescopes we saw but the Texans with their tucked in pant legs and powder blue boots stole the show. They arrived on a very fancy tour bus and had one of the astronomers as a guide…wealthy donors to the University perhaps? I had to google this pants tucked in thing! According to one gentleman Texan:

“If you stuff yer Wranglers, or Levi’s for that matter, inside yer boots you ain’t coming in my house. Standing in your stocking feet, you want the denim to touch the floor at your heel to insure they’ll break on the front of the boot. If a gal wants to see the stove pipes she’ll have to take her chances”

OK…that was one opinion, a strong one at that. Another:

“Don’t go up to the Panhandle of Texas and tell some of those cowboys that they are fruity. Good Lord, we have people all over Dallas with purple, pink, and green hair, with metal jewelry imbedded all over their face. And wearing boots with your pants tucked in isn’t proper??? Wear them the way you want to, last time I checked, this was still America.”

“Never tuck the jeans into the boots unless you’re doing actual work on horseback that requires it.” according to the Art of Manliness’s guide to cowboy boots;)

All very interesting reads. It seems the Texas rangers tucked, and cowboys out on the range riding through brush might tuck, but these tuckers with powder blue boots, well, not my style, and no, I don’t tuck unless I’m wearing my English Dressage boots;) Maybe it’s an older vs younger generation, seems like the young’uns…are horrified by tucking! Ha! Texas!

On our two and a half hour tour we had a remote solar telescope viewing from the visitor center (nothing going on sadly, no flares or prominences) and a look at the Harlan J. Smith telescope and even got to rotate the dome and move the telescope up and down, big kid stuff! 😉 Also the Hobby-Eberly telescope in it’s fascinating clam shell opening like dome! This telescope is studying Dark Energy and looking for earth like planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way. It was a bargain at only 13.5 million dollars;) Over all a very interesting tour we would recommend and a great guide!

Back at the park the Acorn Woodpeckers were busy at their usual spots on the electrical poles, stuffing them with acorns they gather. If you sit and watch they go back and forwards, busy busy birds! Here the deer wander across the grass in front of you. A doe with her two youngsters and by the looks of it last years as well decided Rocket got a bit too close while we were walking and stamped her foot at him and started to come towards him! Like a good survivalist he decided to tuck his tail between his legs and make for the trailer! The woodpeckers also came to drink water from our dripping water line:)

Davis Mountains State Park also has two wonderful bird blinds you can sit and watch the wildlife come and go. We met several lovely people, chatting about photography and other places to visit. A wonderful Canadian couple from Toronto who took off 89 days ago I think is what they said and we exchanged hints and State Parks to stay at going along the gulf and East Coast one afternoon! Have to love people who love our State and National Parks!

There are wonderful hiking paths around the park as well. Both North and South. The bird life was quiet, more life near the water features in the park bird blinds than up on the dry hills. The views are beautiful-especially a trip along the Skyline Drive after sunset. It is open until 10pm and gives you a spectacular view South of the Milky Way and surrounding skies!

So that is why we come back here each year it seems, even though it is slightly off a direct route to Baja, it is an enchanting place! The towns of Fort Davis, Marfa and Alpine are steeped in history and wonderful weirdness, as well as strange lights, we’ll be coming back in the Spring to camp right at the Marfa lights…we want to believe! The towns all have interesting shops from reptiles to trinkets and old Fort Davis has a wealth of Western History as well as yes, please come into my shop armed and open carry…sigh…restaurants and food trucks as well. Sadly our favourites, The Food Shark in Marfa, and the Cow Dog were closed early in the week, we tried another spot in Alpine but came away disappointed, soggy fried chicken and cold fries as well as someone passed out at the table behind us didn’t work for us but it was interesting people watching! Lots of tuckers and non tuckers;)

In downtown Fort Davis in front of a closed Cantina there is a wonderful Osage Orange tree, new to me! The Osage orange has a long and interesting history of use by both Native Americans and early pioneers. Its wood was once in demand for making hubs and wheel rims for horse drawn wagons, mine support timbers, posts and many other uses where decay resistance was important. Osage orange was first cultivated in the south in the early 1800’s. It was brought north by Professor Jonathan Turner, a biology teacher at Illinois College, and promoted as a living fence by John Wright, editor of The Prairie Farmer. By 1847 Turner was convinced that Osage orange was the best fencing material available. He described it as “horse high, bull strong and pig tight” and it functioned as a “hedge” fence long before the invention of barbed wire. By the 1850’s Osage orange hedges made the fencing of entire farms possible. The French found the Osage Indians making bows from the wood and called it Bois d’Arc (meaning wood of the bow)….and you can’t really eat it! Ha!

Beautiful sunset from the SkyLine Drive-Venus, Jupiter and Saturn all visible!

To be honest-I could spend weeks at this park! Maybe on our way back! Next stop is a Harvest Hosts Winery near Anthony, New Mexico, then a new State Park for us! Stay tuned for City of Rocks State Park!! Saludos amigos! Keep watching the skies! The Unicorn Meteor Shower is coming up!

Winter Milky Way-Davis Mountains State Park-Texas

Watching Nature-Palmetto State Park-Texas

Watching nature;) I do it for pleasure and photography, not quite sure what Rocket and Groot were thinking when they decided to go deer stalking, tried to tell them about the “small” and “far away” differences but they cared not a whit;)

This young doe was quite tame, I walked by talking to her but she decided Groot did look quite fearsome and slowly moved off into the bush, Groot wanted to give chase but we told him was a state park and everything was protected…ahhhh…just one deer please! Nope…Rocket watched for awhile on his walk and then decided perhaps walking along the fence looked like more fun, they were after all, awfully large;)

This is a lovely park. I had a daft moment as we pulled in Sunday, went to the trailer camping area only to find our reserved site occupied..sigh…brain fart…it was Monday our reservation. We drove back out to the park headquarters and were told that no, there were no other spaces available but just down the road the Elks ran a small RV park as well, so off we went. It was within walking distance. We found a site, one of two trailers there so not a problem, and not a soul to be seen. Honour system up at the front, not too tough. There was no water due to a line break ( that may explain the empty park) but 50 amp service and lovely trees and dozens of monarchs flitting about! Paradise as far as I’m concerned;) and a bit of weak sunshine trying to make its way through the clouds.