Spring…please…

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Those first daffodils and sweet peas send shivers up and down my spine, Spring-please…the latest bit of rain will let life explode as the temperatures warm during the day and the hummingbirds will be wild. So much bad news in our world, guns, death…I think I’ll simply try to focus on what is right with our world. Not that these guys are exactly peace mongers, they fight quite viciously for their territories and ladies.

 

…at least it is hand to hand, er, I mean beak to beak…so far I have not seen any gun-toting hummingbirds, that’s a relief;) I often wonder what is wrong with a society that feels the need to arm itself to the teeth, and does not think twice about taking lives over pocessions or material things. It’s all just stuff and these weird things we call beliefs, that we are somehow better than some other human being because of our race, or religion, or who the hell knows what…the current trend in Christianity seems to not exactly be following its own rules about brotherly love…or any of its sacred commandments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Christian, I don’t believe in any organized religion, if that is your thing, I respect that, but the only thing I can worship is this amazing world we live on…our pale blue dot…that amazing planet called Earth.

 

I saw a great cartoon last week, can’t find it now, of Darwinist’s going door to door, preaching evolution, at least it made me smile:) not much in our current world that does but I hope that the next generation gets to marvel at the same things we have…the animals, the wild, the moon and planets…

 

The fact we flew to the moon…gives me hope, not that we want to run away from this amazing planet we live on, just that we may find some hope in exploration, not wars, not greed, not in bipartisan politics but in curiosity and a longing for knowledge…a thirst that can be something bigger than us…there is still hope:) I hope:(

Saludos amigos, a bientot! We did go here:)

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Blue Moon, Red Moon, Super Moon, enough hype, let’s just all look at OUR moon:)

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Total Eclipse, January 31 2018-yes, the moon here is actually a reddish colour;)

So, we were all bombarded with the media hype about the eclipse, the blue moon, the red moon, the friggin’ super moon, geez, enough of all the hype and crap! Are we as a populous so blasé and laissez-faire that we need to ignore this event and not go out and look at one of Mother Natures amazing sights  ( it’s free, no charge, how often does that happen)…and if that is the case, wow, humanity, you are doomed…wake up folks! It is about our WORLD, an astounding place that so many people do not stop and even think about as they go about their daily lives, replenished by the air we breathe and the fresh water we drink, the less than healthy”comida chattara” or fast food you eat…are so many so asleep. I dare not even try to answer that question…

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Moonrise in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir-breath in that air!

So, a few rules here, if you have not watched Neil de Grasse Tyson rant about this, I’ll cover it again…Super Moon…if you have two pizzas on a table, one is 16″ and one is 17″, do you call the 17″ pizza a SUPER pizza, or is it just a slightly larger pizza, correct answer, it is just a slightly larger pizza, you would not be able to tell the difference in the sky between the two if your life depended on it, especially if I am having to explain this to you…read, be informed:) This particular full moon is closer to the Earth in its orbit, known as perigee. Since the lunar orbit around the Earth is elliptical there are times when full moon coincides with its nearest position to Earth….science 101…

Blue Moon, enough, leave that to Billie Holiday to sing about in her stupendous way, it IS NOT blue for the millionth time;) It is simply the 2nd full moon that happens in the same month. Since the 2nd of January was a full moon and the next was the 31st of January, the 2nd full moon of any month is known as the ‘Blue moon’. It’s nothing to do with Blue color…OK, got it!

Red Moon-Ok, here we do have a red moon, or blood moon, are we still cavemen? The reason why the “Blood Moon” takes on a reddish colour during totality of an eclipse is due to a phenomenon called “Rayleigh” scattering. The Blood Moon turns red because of the way the moon is illuminated by sunlight which has been filtered and refracted by the earth’s atmosphere as it lines up during a total lunar eclipse…OK, that is settled…

So, did you actually get your lazy ass up out of bed and go watch it? I’m sure some of you have circumstances in your life that did not allow you to get up and look out a window, maybe you were in prison, or trapped in a well, where is Lassie when we need her, or maybe it was cloudy, or not visible from where you are located, I’m truly sorry if that was the case for you, then disregard my rant.)  We live in a world dominated by our little devices, some relied on the pictures they saw there but they did not “experience” it, the darkening of the sky, the drop in temperature, the light slowly fading as a red hue overtook the moon, that is what it is all about, experiencing it, not just reading about it…

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These guys are up early:)

Next eclipse in North America…check out the link and try to experience this amazing phenomenon:) we only live once and it is a fleeting amount of time:)

Saludos amigos-get out there and try to breathe in some fresh night air and enjoy a sunrise or two:)

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Sunrise Ensenada-Baja California

“What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?

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Birds, it all started with my fascination with the hundreds of hummingbirds that passed in migration at the ranch in Baja, many stayed all year, in the snow and cold ( yes, it snows in Baja, our ranch was at an elevation of 5000′) it was fascinating to watch them, both the visitors and the residents. From that grew a love to just sit and watch these beautiful creatures and also a study of their everyday life, some are comical, some are quite serious, all have something to offer, be it a song, a dance, or as a clean up crew.

The Reddish Egret is the king of the dancers here at Estero Estuary. Watching it leap and prance, twist and twirl after a fish is remarkable, the agility is astounding and the comic relief, well, priceless:) Sometimes I can watch from the stone seawall, other times I don the reef shoes and venture out into the mud and sand flats where the Egrets are fishing. As the tide goes out schools of fish caught in the pools are easy prey.

I have a soft spot for the Egrets and Herons, they are so large some of them, perhaps easier to photograph than the tiny lbb’s, or lgb’s…little brown birds, or little grey birds;) They tend not to be too flighty, if you walk slowly and stop and just sit and watch they seem to stick about. Sometimes I bring my tripod along but mostly I just shoot handheld, could explain why my shoulder hurts here;) at over 5.5 lbs for the lens and Canon 6D it is heavy…I should use perhaps a monopod, I need to get into the practice of that. I have discovered I need to back away from the 400, it is soft, at 350, I get a sharper image with my older 100-400 L IS, one day I’ll spring for the newest lens,  a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens…sigh…pricey or an alternative are the Sigma or Tamron 150-600MM…you can lighten your pocket-book very quickly with all these amazing lens and cameras! Anyone want to buy me a new one? Just checking:) In the mean time, I make do with what I have, I’m still learning daily things I can change!

I’ve learned I can speed up, or decelerate the autofocus, the tracking sensitivity, will probably drive myself mad doing this as every time I change it I’m not sure if it really helps or not;) Especially useful when trying to focus on the hummingbirds:) They still are my favourites. I have only seen the Anna’s here at the estuary but I’m sure Allen’s and Rufous come through in the late Fall and early Spring.

Photographing birds and walking cats does not always go together but can produce some interesting results;) They are usually on the leash but here we can let them go to run in the sand and play, supervised. Gamora stalked the Great Blue Heron a few days ago but as she got closer realized just HOW big it was and sat and just watched. They are very quick to see what is flying overhead as well. The Long Billed Curlew puts up quite the squawk at a 100 feet away and the cats just watch. I do worry about the Northern Harrier female, she took a look at them the other day as she flew over…

Most people point out the Vermilion Flycatcher as they walk by. Such a colourful bird. They always want to know what it is:) There are several pairs about here and they are constantly landing very close on signs and the seawall. There are the regular cast of House Finches and White Crowned Finches as well as a few Warblers and Phoebes catching flies by the edge of the sand. I should spend more time walking inland, I’m sure I would see some new residents, it is just there is so much to see in the water!

Every year the estuary changes, last year it was full of deeper tide pools with anemones, more storms, more turbulence, this year all the deeper pools are gone, flatter shallow ones have taken over. The residents are still here, Long Billed Curlews and Whimbrels, I can finally tell the difference, that eye stripe! The flocks of Willets and Dowitchers and Sandpipers, Plovers and Killdeers. I still have trouble with all the yellow legged guys, keeping them separate;)

So, as you can see, there are a few birds here:) The question I get asked the most..is it safe. Over and over again. I have to tell you, I feel safer here in Ensenada than in San Diego so birders…be brave…drive South a few hours and experience this amazing place, not only is there a great restaurant here at Estero Beach, beautiful rooms, and many things for SOB’s (Spouses of birders) to do:) including a museum!

Did I mention the flocks? not of sunburned tourists but these;)

There is such an amazing variety of life here. Yes, over a few seasons, mostly we are here in December and January, but have spent parts of March here as well as a few weeks over the summer. Migration is always interesting as well as breeding season.

and…did I mention tacos? Mariscos? wonderful wine country, am I sounding like I work for the Ensenada tourism board? I should:) Are there dangerous creatures…why of course, if you are a fish for example;) or a small to medium-sized plump bird…

You might be in trouble if, lets say if you are mixed up with the drug trade…then these guys are here to clean up;)

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Vulture humour;) It’s not 85 degrees here I might add. The Pacific keeps the temperatures moderate, if you want heat you can go inland to wine country…salud…or stay out at the somewhat cooler coast. Either way you are in for a treat, friendly people, bring your phrase book, it never hurts to try, amazing food and wine and birds…lots and lots of birds, so you birders try something new…if you’re still apprehensive and want information on insurance, roads, hotels etc, send me an email…astrogypsies@gmail.com and I can help you with questions you might have…Happy New Year 2018 friends, let’s make it an adventurous one! Viva Baja!

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FYI, all these bird and landscape shots were taken here at Estero Beach Hotel and RV Park-Ensenada-Baja California Norte:)

Good Bye 2017

Where did it go, it just seems like a few months ago we were here, 2016…

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Now we look upon another challenge, writing 2018 instead of 2017, less and less of a challenge as we are increasingly digital,we don’t have to ask anyone what the date is anymore, let alone the year;) Is it a time to reflect? make goals? I’m not really sure. I don’t spend a lot of time looking back, yes I have wonderful memories, maybe I’d like to keep them stashed until I have to make a withdrawal, right now, I’m still busy filling the memory bank:)

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Whadya mean the year is almost over???

We consider ourselves to be so very very lucky, healthy, except for the current stomach flu that has Mike layed up, first time either of us have been sick this year.  Able to travel and see the world from our trailer, our mobile home on wheels:) We love this lifestyle of change and new exploration. Do we long for home? That faraway mythical place you feel for, long for, sentimentalize. The German word, Sehnsucht (German pronunciation: [ˈzeːnˌzʊxt]) is a German noun translated as “longing”, “pining”, “yearning”, or “craving”, or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing” something. That is the thing or feeling, usually when we end up somewhere we find not unlivable, but just not right, for us. Does that happen a lot? No, we pick and choose our spots as carefully as we can, we know what brings us peace, no traffic, no noise, just the sound of the wind in the trees and dark skies, those are our favourite places, all over North America. wonderful to have the choice of so many.

And here we are in a city, Ensenada, vibrant and jostling with life, that is wonderful too. It takes so many places to make an experience come to life. Here, it is on the street, food, juggling, life, lots and lots of life. Not shut away in shopping malls or everyone in their cars hurrying to one place or another, that has such an empty feeling of disconnect for us.

Here the feeling is one of a slower more deliberate pace, I like that. Food gets prepared in front of you, you watch, and wait, and it is OK to wait, we don’t need everything NOW NOW NOW…that is trap. Maybe that is what I need to take away from 2017, a feeling of slowing down…it is wondrous thing. Play with your cats, kids, dogs…smile at strangers, sit still, smell the air, close your eyes, breathe…

Be amazed…at anything and everything….at anyone…

Marvel at our universe and try to feel very very small…it truly puts everything into perspective:)

We raise a glass of cheer to you at the end of this year and share here, tidbits of our lives, what we have learned, looked at and loved. We hope 2018 will bring very much more of the same. We hope you have enjoyed our journey and continue to do so, we are thankful for so many friends, new and from the past… and the kindness of strangers:)2017-12-28 042AS

Feliz Año Nuevo amigos and here is to more adventures under the sun and moon:)

The challenge of full-time Rving-Part 2 of….?

My first thought when I asked my husband Mike what he found challenging about RVing was he might just say, “Well, you”…he has a wonderful dark sense of humour…I think;) Ha! We get along very well, never yell at each other when we are backing into hideous sardine like RV spots, or when branches nearly wipe out our AC units on the roof, or well, anytime, we’re not yellers;) He gave me some of what he considers challenges in Rving.

#1-Being led astray by your GPS, I think he was referring to one state park in particular in Missouri that we were led down what could only be called an extremely narrow and branch covered small road that DID not lead to the State Park, we were not certain we would be able to turn around let alone back all the way out! Luckily a small what I would call dirt path swung around and we manged to get going back the direction in which we came…I’m still buffing scratches out of the paint. “Yeah”, the lady at the park entrance said” it happens all the time”…”Could you not put A BETTER SIGN UP AS$%LE” was going through my mind as I checked in…so, double-check your routes and use google earth and other maps to check on where you are going, makes life easier especially after a long day driving…drivers get cranky;) Check out the many blogs as well as RV park review sites…it might save your marriage;)

#2-Rough roads with multiple dips that have you feel like you’re on a bronco ride for real, in a 9,500 lb truck pulling the 18,500 lb. trailer, once it gets going it can be scary, especially if there are no dip signs to warn you that you are about to be bounced about, the 405 through LA is like that…OMG, will never do that freeway again and parts of 52 in San Diego that were built on top of a garbage dump…crazy once that rig gets a bouncing, Hang on cowgirl!! YIKES!

…or roads so narrow your husband accuses you of trying to kill him, he doesn’t like heights or drop-offs, but hey, I’m a photographer…hahahahahahahaha! I like a view!

If you can’t guess by now, Mike does most of the driving:) yup, I navigate, mostly quite well but I do occasionally get him off on a road we should not be on..oops…we are used to really bad roads after living in Baja for 8 years but man, some states, Indiana and Illinois fix your toll roads, I have to pay for that crap and lose my fillings to boot!

Our fix for these sometimes small and at times wonderful little roads that take you to amazing places is scouting. We’ll find a place nearby and do a day trip out to see if can we get in, is the ground too soft, can we actually get over that dip…and frequently all of the above, hauling a 37′ trailer about makes you think twice sometimes about where to go but it can take you to magical places where your jaw drops and a perma smile comes over your face:) That is Playa Santispac above in Southern Baja…:)PR D

#3-Driving on windy days…don’t do it, as they say here in Baja-No vale la pena-not worth the pain… If you can’t stand against it, you shouldn’t drive in it:) and try to park parallel to it if you can, geez, and I didn’t think a trailer could move about like a boat, I was wrong:) Do they have spring lines for trailers?;)

#4-Unpalatable neighbours selling crystal meth and pit bull puppies right next door…yes, it does happen from time to time. Especially those county parks. I don’t have pictures of them;) The staff do their best to keep these places well stocked with friendly neighbours and honestly I have much admiration for the camp hosts that have to help the police chase people about in their parks…not something I am quite willing to do yet;)

So that was all the significant other could come up with, he scratched his head for quite a while. He has a wealth of experience backing hay wagons up into small barn mows and into riding arenas so I think he was in pretraining for years for this, as well as parking large horse trailers in lots with very inexperienced folk learning how to do the same:) Isn’t life an adventure:) There have been a couple of times we have wanted to go over and offer to park a couples trailer but the mood surrounding their disastrous parking attempts made it feel quite dangerous;) Ah…the challenges of RV living:)

What makes you crazy in the rving world my friends? I’d love to hear!

Saludos amigos and stay tuned, perhaps time for the positive sides of RV living:) Here is one:) The ever changing view out our back window:)

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The view out the back window:)

The challenge of full-time Rving-Part 1 of….?

It was a great question. I just joined a group on Facebook called Full Time Freedom, it looked interesting and we’ve had so many helpful hints I thought we might be able to add a few things after doing this for almost two and a half years now, hard to believe we left from here in August 2015 on our maiden trip on Myrtle 1. Seems like such a distant memory. So what can be challenging….these views, nah….but….

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Borders.We love our voyages across North America but the border crossings can be a challenge, getting there, and figuring out how to get back without waiting in line for most of your day…getting into Mexico, always a relief, but heading back across and dealing with the Stazi at the US border..always intimidating, even when you have nothing to hide, or maybe, that extra bottle of mezcal…sigh…the cats FYI have never been an issue except at State Parks in New York where you have to fork over a copy of their rabies certificate or leave…at least you can eat well waiting at the Tijuana border:) It can be a challenge to negotiate the various food carts and umbrellas with a large trailer, we once wiped out a stop sign at the pedestrian cross walk in TJ just before the US stalls…oops, we go Tecate now on our way back;)

Moving too fast and too often, it is a waste of money and effort, there are often sizable reductions in weekly/monthly fees compared to a few nights. So, slow down, hopefully it will all be there tomorrow, well, you might want to visit Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monument in Utah first, who know what the nasty orange mop will do next, what’s a few million acres less to see…

Finding people who think like you, feel like you and are passionate about some of the same things. We run into them in Canada and Baja more frequently but they are out there everywhere, somewhat more adventurous, less fearful and viewing the world with an open mind. We tend to avoid all talk of politics until we know if we will be lynched or not…”All RVers are Republican” an older gentleman told me last week…no….sorry Jim, they are not, the challenge can be finding them…we often feel like teenagers at many of the SW parks in winter, yeah, we’re just not quite that old yet and golf is not on our daily to do list.

Eating well…yes, a challenge we ran into running the midwest gauntlet of discount grocery stores that were entirely filled with frozen food aisles…0_0….

We love farmers markets and taco stands, small local grocers and bakeries and free range eggs, preferably from the farm. It takes an effort in many places to find these spots but it is extremely worthwhile. We love the Latin, Lebanese and Asian markets, the prices are right and so much less packaging, and you can learn how to cook that weird-looking green you picked up at Ranch 99:)

Letting go of all that stuff…now that is a hard one as we still have a 20′ x 8′ shipping containers at my brothers, we have been paring it down each visit, deciding what we really don’t need and why did I pack that and keep it? You may always want that storage unit, who knows, just saying, you don’t have to let everything go right away, or maybe never:) but, for those hoarders out there…well…you will be limited to post card and stamp collections perhaps;)

So that’s a start, challenge wise, I’m sure I will come up with a few more as we go and I’ll add-on in part 2, but for now, I need to go eat a shrimp coktel…oh dear…it can be a challenge for Vegans as well…

Stay tuned Amigos, that will be another story to share from our house to yours, whether it be large, small, on wheels or in the water. Saludos amigos!2016-12-24 131Asign

Where has the month gone? Back to Baja

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Mrs. and Mr. Wood duck watch us from their tree

What happened to November? Leaving Tucson we spent a night along the highway in Yuma at the Rivers Edge RV resort then the jump to San Diego. Now we are halfway through December and the time has flown. Our week in San Diego stretched a bit more as we scrambled to get a few things done. So much driving, the day is spent on the freeways and us “country mice” find that exhausting. We spent the first few days at a lakeshore spot in Santee Lakes, gorgeous area under a very low oak, nearly took out the front AC unit but got stopped in time, climbed up the ladder and verified that yes, we had to move over an additional 5 feet, good thing spot #44 was very wide:) We could watch the ducks and geese through the back window, the hummingbirds found our feeder and the cats sat open-mouthed, I think Mike told them something about duck a l’orange;) The oak tree was dropping its acorns and the patter on the roof kept the cats wondering what was up there. A flock of Mallards flew up there to eat them:) The trailer was in need of a serious cleaning after that spot, duck poops galore and no rain in sight:)

We were tired, all that travelling was beginning to catch up with us and we just wanted to rest. The lake shore spots are quite popular and as the weekend approached we had to move, the spot we were in was pre-booked for the weekend, the Santee Shuffle they call it, every Friday…we found the last spot available further towards the back of the park #119. A sketchy camper with some pit bulls and what looked like a meth head made it a bit uncomfortable but they left the next day. We usually found more of that up at Lake Jennings County Park but we are in the city. Such is life. It takes all kinds, just hate barking dogs. The campgrounds do have rules but not everyone feels they have to follow them, dogs tied outside that lunge at you as you walk by and barking all day in the trailers and A-classes can be common enough. The weekends bring in the kids and motorized toys, they aren’t a friendly lot I have to admit. If you meet their eye they either look away, or pretend you don’t exist, that is really weird;) The weekend campers are not very amicable here. Cities…necesary evils for us:) At least there are ducks!

I’d hoped to get my sticky 100-400 lens in for repair but Kurt’s Camera was backed up from Thanksgiving so I opted to deal with it until we get back, I think I might go through a bad withdrawal without it;) I do enjoy this campground, its six lakes attract an amazing variety of waterfowl from pelicans to ducks and birds of prey.  It seems like a quiet spot to be in the city, but if you need to go to the coast it is a long haul there and back, but we always seem to end up here. We had a wonderful lunch with my cousin in Pacific Beach…Sushi Ota we love you, and my brother at a lovely Thai place down by his office. We made a trip out during the week to La Jolla shores to walk on the beach, the coastal fog was in and it was gloomy but a beautiful walk just the same, love to see the shore birds there and watching the surfers is always amusing….wipe out!!!;)

One afternoon another DRV rolled in, the very first one we had seen actually, back near Mount Shasta, it seems like eons ago, September 2015. Jim and his wife Patti were so nice to give us a tour back then and their words stuck with us, if you want to full-time, this is the 5th wheel to get! Couldn’t agree more, from that time on we started skimming the ads looking for something we could afford. We watched the full moon rise one night with them and Mike’s big binoculars. The weather had not been clear enough to get the telescope out, high clouds were lingering here.

My brother got down for a visit with my niece and we cleared up why the invertor was not happy with the Honda Generator and wasn’t even recognizing it as it has an open ground. I had made up a pigtail with the neutral and ground tied together to fix that, but it had not worked, as I’d wired it wrong, can’t tell I come from a family of electricians;) Problem solved! Our generator now can charge our batteries:) I think I’d best stick to plumbing:)

We made a few grocery runs for the odd and weird that are hard to find in Baja and Monday morning headed South to San Ysidro and Tijuana. It’s our go to border crossing area. We have to stick to the far right lane where the buses go and get scanned by their gigantic x-ray machine, we get out with the cats in their carrier and are behind a protective wall, then we get back in, pull forward and wait for a go, or no go from the Aduana (Customs) oddly enough this trip they did not even ask for our passports, just the vehicle and trailer registration, that is a first:)

We breathe a sigh of relief as we cross over into querido México:) We followed the Toll Road South and off to Ensenada, and finally Chapultepec where Estero Beach is located. When I’d called in November they’d informed me the RV park was closed, but when we arrived and were greeted by one of the friendly faces we know so well she said, no, we are open until the end of the year, Mike and I were doing the Snoopy-Charlie Brown Happ24a4b167abcc6963fdc0fdf96bacd441--the-peanuts-snoopy-peanutsy Dance!!!♪♫♪♪♫♪♫ Happy Happy Happy!!!! We were so excited to be back in our spot at the end! It’s hard to explain what a delightful place this is, no bad views, a beach for kittens to run on, great Margaritas and friendly wonderful staff! So here we are, all by ourselves, who could ask for a better Christmas present than to spend the month here!

We have a few repairs to do as well. We had the trailer cleaned and waxed, a yearly ritual here, it was in dire need, I still have some sap from the Ontario pines to scape off. We need to get some touch up paint for a nasty mesquite branch in Tucson and for a few other scrapes and small scratches. On the DRV forum a man suggested removing a door, the water door for us, that is the right colour and take it to an Auto repair/painting facility and have them match the paint, great idea! Our water pump is dying so a new one is ordered and we await that and paperwork, lots of paperwork to complete the ranch sale:)

Groot and Gamora are truly in heaven. Twice a day they get to go out, on the leash at first then down to the beach for a run along the tide line and to look for crabs under the rocks, a favorite game of Groot’s. Every morning they beg to go out, sheesh…spoiled kids are they! But when you see them running and leaping, jumping and frolicking it brings joy to your heart, even Beezil the 17-year-old has a small trot about:) We’ve had to watch the air quality, first few days were howling Santa Ana winds with smoke from fires North of Ensenada and the dirt being blown down the the roads to the East made for truly horrible air quality.

Hard to believe a week has passed, all Mike has wanted to do is eat:) Tacos, coctels de pulpo y camaron, more tacos, ceviche, tostados, fresh fish from El Garo, fresh bread from Hogaza Hogaza, free range chicken from El Roble…I’m just convincing him to start cooking again:) There will be many food photos to follow, he is eating too quickly for me to take shots;)

I’ve had a chance to wander the estuary a bit, between walking the cats and running about it is on my list for this week. I did get a chance to catch the Reddish Egret in his own happy dance, or the Monty Python Silly Walk as interpreted by the Reddish Egret;) A friend from the ranch days, Jere stopped by over the weekend as well for a visit and a lovely Sunday brunch at the hotel, she is an adventurous wonderful woman, famous for having driven her Prius to our ranch on the 6 km 4×4 only road…we stood in awe and admiration at her determination, and still do!

and the sunrises…..

and the sunsets!!!!!2017-12-10 011AS

Last night took my, and another couples breath away. Two camper trailers hauling utility trailers pulled in to this view last night…Mother Nature was throwing her best at us:)

So here we will be, rough life right? yeah…I know, currently it is snowing and will be -18° celcius at Otty Lake in Ontario. I think I may have to open another window, getting too warm in here;)2017-12-09 066_stitchAaS

Love you my Canadian friends, you should come down and visit;) SOON!

But that will be another story…Stay tuned and saludos amigos!

Tucson-How do you know it’s autumn in Tucson, license plate colours begin to change;)

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How does the saying go” how do you know it’s autumn in Tucson, license plate colours begin to change” as the droves from the North and East arrive. I’m not a fan of RV parks, you already may know that, the sardine feeling of being packed in with dozens, sometimes hundreds of other trailers can be smothering. Desert Trails in SW Tucson is a bit different, it is crowded, and close at times but how could you not love an RV park that used to be water theme park from the 70’s it looks like and has food trucks every Sunday, Jozarelli’s amazing pizza and Wednesday, Guerro Loco’s Bubba-Que🙂 and it’s backs up onto Tucson Mountains State Park and Saguaro National Park trails. Plus, good laundry facilities:) We’re not quite old enough to be here, but it is a good stopping spot to get some shopping done ( Total Wine, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven ) Down the road on the 86 was El Carniceria El Herradero…real tacos, caso fresca, arrachera and a wonderful friendly staff, nice to be speaking Spanish again, especially after a sad conversation with a woman in the laundry room at the RV park, saying she liked the National Parks, except for the foreigners…so because I am another somewhat white female she felt at ease to voice her racism…I always am astounded when someone says something like, Mike saved me, came in and started speaking Spanish to me;) There are just too many old white people in these places for us ever to feel that we fit in….

We also had to find a mobile RV service to look at the furnace that quit working. We called several mobile RV services, only one got back. Ray’s…would reccomend him to anyone. Knowledgable, quick and friendly. The board in the furnace was shot, he replaced it and half an hour later everything was up and running with a smile:) Why would we need our furnace in Tucson my Canadian friends might want to know, those chilly 40° nights are really cold…don’t hate us;)

Then there is the magnificent Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. We’d always missed the Raptor Free Flight Program, being too early or too late in the year for it, it runs November to March and we always were arriving at the wrong time:)…not this year! What an amazing sight to see these birds free flying, a Great Horned Owl, Chihuahua Ravens and my favourite new bird, the Crested Caracara. There is also a Ferruginous Hawk, but on windy days, and it was windy, it seems she just takes off for a while to explore…so they did not let her fly.

Did I mention the Hummingbird aviary:) yup, best stop of all, in the shade and surrounded by hummingbirds. Met a couple of delightful photographers, Larry and Tom and we wandered about together before I had to feed Mike, not to the Mountain Lion though;) Cruz was superb, those paws! One big kitty, but he seemed uneasy, pacing and panting. With the heat the bobcats were sleeping as well as the foxes and we decided to call it a day for a lunch break.

I could spend an entire day here wandering about! The heat was keeping us inside for great parts of the day, Groot was not happy but had his late afternoon walks. Gamora is now content to sit still and watch the birds. She is still very wary outside, maybe as she was a street urchin she is more cautious, or just her young age. So, we sit at the picnic bench, and watch the doves and try to avoid the cacti, she’s learning, already had a cholla jump out at her;) and attack, pulled it off with the pliers:(

Caught a beautiful earth shine and sunrise the day before we left on the paths behind the RV park, hadn’t realized how cooped up we had been, from cold to heat, the dry was new and we both felt like we were fighting a bug so taking it easy was just what the Doctor ordered for a few days. We cleaned the rest of the pine sap off of the truck roof, the trailer is next, perhaps when we hit a cooler California:)

but that, is another story…so I’ll leave you with butterflies in November, how glorious is that? Saludos amigos and stay tuned! California here we come:)

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Painted Lady

Bosque del Apache and West

Cranes, Sandhill Cranes…that is what the festival week at Bosque del Apache is all about:)…and not just cranes, Snow Geese and dozens of varieties of ducks call this spot home for the winter as well as wandering clans (rafters they are called in groups, I have googled it) of Wild Turkeys:)

 

We were lucky enough to meet up with Erv and Sandra who have studied the Cranes and followed them on their migration all over the United States. They were kind enough to let us sit in on their very informative talk, so much to learn about these beautiful birds! But I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the Snow Geese, just to listen to them is like music to my ears. The family interaction and squabbles. Ma and Pa keeping the kids in line;)

 

We drove around the North Loop of the reserve taking it all in. We’ll be back next year and camped somewhat closer! So many workshops for photography…green with envy I was so hope to be able to do the whole week next year!

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The New Mexico blues, mountains and sky and Fall colours near the Rio Grande

It was about an hour drive back to Elephant Butte Reservoir. One more night of calling quails and doves before we headed West to Kartchner Caverns, a favourite stop of ours.

 

It was a bit longer hop than our usual three hours, a bit over 270 miles but mostly all Interstate, not my favourite but that was the way to go. We did get to drive through Hatch, New Mexico and that looked like a spot to come back to, all those chilis, or is that Chillies?

 

The Kartchner Caverns are living caves, water is still dripping from the ceilings and formations are still being made, albeit it slowly;) There is no photography allowed in the caverns so I can’t show you what it looks like, you’ll have to go for yourselves! It has been extremely dry here for the last month, noticeably different from our last visit which was in March. It is so wonderful to back in the South West, not only for the warmer temperatures but the life, the birds, the songs as you go outside!

 

Even with the dry, there is life everywhere, we had a small hitchhiker we had to take care of down in the pass through by Mike’s telescopes…sorry Mr. Mouse:(

Groot and Gamora had to learn about prickly things and thorns again…always an adventure. Gamora is getting better on the leash, still quite frightened by cars, not a bad thing, and people, but she will eventually get used to all the commotion in the outside world:)

We had a nice site with a view of Apache Peak out the back window. I was glad I’d made the reservation as the park filled up while we were there. Sites 11 and 12 actually have sewer connections that they don’t advertise.

 

We did the Big Room tour the day before we left, other than having to dodge a very flatulent older man in front of us and some old ass in the group that kept hollering out biblical exclamations…really? “God’s work” and “that’s what Noah did”…put a lid on it…I don’t shout out my religious convictions…wait..hah! I don’t have any;) we had a great guide, lots of information. I had no idea lint was a cave problem…

Next stop Tucson, but that, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum are another story. Stay tuned amigos and Happy Turkey Day to all of you celebrating, we’ll be forgoing the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and Jello salad here at the RV park and just relaxing!

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I’ll take my Turkey walking this Thursday Nov 23d 😉

Roswell, New Mexico and West

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The sign says it all doesn’t it. How can you not like a town that embraces its aliens so wonderfully! We bypassed the sardine like RV parks close to town and headed out towards Bottomless Lakes State Park, 8 miles South of the 380. Here a series of cenotes, lakes, were formed when the limestone was worn away from an ancient reef that now are the high banks of the Pecos River. We were lucky, we arrived really early, noon, check in time is supposed to be 4 pm…really late! And there was only two spots available. We watched as others arrived much later and left as it was full. The campground is right on Lea Lake, the largest of the cenotes. It had an abandoned feel this late in the year, most of it was closed up but it sure beat being side by side in the city, hate that!

Mike was raring to go as soon as we hooked up, Roswell…the place of alien dreams! We stopped for lunch at Big D’s Downtown Dive, looked like a favourite with locals, delicious green chile burger before wandering about and hitting the grocery stores.

The museum was a wealth of information. Several people told us there were alien tours, think we might do one of those next trip back through. Would love to see the actual landing site 70 miles to the North.

We were glad we stayed out-of-town at Bottomless Lakes State Park. We took a look at some of the other sink holes/lakes/cenotes, really beautiful in the late day light. This is New Mexico’s oldest state park, it takes it name from nine small deep lakes that formed along the Pecos River Valley escarpment. The caves formed within the limestone, and as the Pecos River eroded the escarpment, the caves eventually collapsed, leaving behind several deep, almost circular lakes known as cenotes, very similar to Carlsbad Caverns further South of here.

They range in size and depth, some have very steep sides, others, like Lea Lake at the campground have a sandy beach and are open to swimming, not a soul in sight at the beach. There is also a small nature trail through the marshes to the West, they were quite dry, but are filled by the spring in Lea Lake. A few ducks, but mostly quiet until almost dark you could hear the cranes coming in to roost. I was ready to go out at dawn to try some photography but the level of gunfire around us made me think twice, hunting season must be open, the last cenote, to the South is privately owned, a hunting camp of some sorts, I decided I’d rather not be bagged as a duck looking for birds in the predawn light:)

I talked Mike into driving me up to Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge the next afternoon, we had to diesel up anyway for our trip West so it was a good excuse to go have a look. Wildlife “refuge” is a bit of a misnomer, no refuge here from Sept.1st to Feb.15th for the birds, it is open to hunting:( Many of the ponds were full of geese, and in several areas hundreds of cranes were arriving to roost for the night. It was beautiful to see hundreds of cranes and geese in flight, the miracle of migration!

We had a straight run on the 380 the next day headed West. We had no idea we were going up in elevation to over 6600 feet. The High plains turned into Cypress and Juniper shrubland and then to Piñon Pines. The 380 turned into a Baja road, no shoulders at all for about 35 miles after the spit at the US 70. Not too hairy but narrow and up we went along the Salado Creek. The trees were in full Fall colour along the creek bed. We passed the State Park where Smokey the bear originated, you learn something new every day, past the small historic towns, Lincoln and Capitan before slowly starting our descent after Valley of Fires State Park. Here you cross over the Malpais lava flow. 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin, over 44 miles with molten rock up to 160 feet thick. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest flows in the U.S. Most definitely a place we will be coming back to explore! From a small pullout on the road we got out and stretched our feet amazed at the immensity of the lava flow!

From the high plains here we started to descend towards the Rio Grande. We picked up the US 25 South and headed towards Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences. Yes, a town named after a game show, as if Roswell wasn’t odd enough;)

We checked into Elephant Butte State Park and I knew immediately I’d gotten it wrong, it felt more like a sardine city RV resort than a state park. We awoke at 7am to “Estas son las mañanitas” and later in the day were serenaded, well, I don’t quite think I can call it singing by a woman and man doing bad covers of late 50’s early 60’s songs you might here at a bad Vegas piano bar, but it was karaoke…very very bad karaoke…lordy lordy lordy help me now 0_0. I’d tried to make reservations at a campground to the North, more secluded on a bluff overlooking the Elephant Butte Reservoir but here we were…the view was not bad, quite lovely, it just had a rather sad feel to it. The Walmart was a bit frightening…I have nothing against anyone, really, but there is a subset that shops at Walmart that is quite scary, here it is the old oxygen packing electric shopping cart driving wrinkled from too much sun tanning population that would run over you in the aisle, then give you a dirty look for not leaping out of their way…whew…it was an obstacle course, the only smile came from the Christmas sweater rack we walked by, yes, I guess they do buy them, or they wouldn’t be here;) at least we had a good OMG smile;)

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What a strange country we are crossing. There is good and bad in every corner and everyone has an opinion, which they tend to voice, without you asking;) Elephant Butte seems to cater to the water sports crowd, sorry, we always have a giggle when we hear water sports. Judging from the number of boat and RV storage businesses this looks like a winter retreat for those from the North and cold climates. It seemed quiet, perhaps the crowds have not arrived, but the beaches were too barren for me. Sand and garbage.

Better the view within the state park, the bunnies and quail were the best amusement to be had. Groot and Gamora watched fascinated from the back window at all the edible action out there;) we were treated to magnificent skies and warm temperatures as well. Hard to complain after the below freezing weather we’ve been running from.

We’ll explore Bosque del Apache in our next leg of the journey, but that, is another adventure.

Stay tuned and saludos amigos!

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Where did those bunnies go?

I bearly made it through the week, and other bad bear puns;)

Groot had quite the surprise yesterday morning, a new visitor to the trailer, not the usual Golden Lab, Lucas, that Regan and Sheila have but…a black one…wait a minute, Groot was pretty sure this was not one of those evil dog things but something completely different so he let us know…meow….!!!

Groot and bear

That is NOT a dog!

Come and take a look! He was jumping from window to window. Mike said “Bear”…I said, “yeah, right”, I’m not getting up before sunrise…”NO REALLY! BEAR!!!” that did get me up! Holy guacamole….a bear indeed.

 

He was feasting on the sunflower seeds in the “squirrel” but not bear proof bird feeder. I sent the feeder manufacturer a shot as well, they had a chuckle and hoped my feeder survived, it did! We watched him for 15 minutes as he picked the seeds out of the feeder, finally shaking them out before licking them up off of the ground. He eventually wandered off to the other cottages along the lake, I’m sure he has his routine:)

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I think I will sit and eat

Another day at Otty Lake, life is an adventure isn’t it! So wonderful to be able to experience nature this close and marvel at the wonder of it.

So until next week amigos. We’re off to do some fishing from the canoe, perfect day. I’ll see if I can contain myself bearly 🙂  I’ll need to get my bearings, oops, after we bearicade the door, or yes, these puns are unbearable;)

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Wonderful day