Boating with Marcos in Bahia

Marcos, who runs the motorboat tours, lives just next door to the campground.  Antonio introduced us and we decided to go boating with Marcos in Bahia on the last day of our stay so we could spend one more day on the water.

Marcos’ boat is called the Mahal – Ko. The boat holds six passengers, and four others joined us on the tour. Marcos towed his boat with all of us riding in it for the short ride to the launch in the town center.

Surprisingly, he backed the trailer into the water and launched the boat with all of us still in it. Then he parked the truck and joined us. We headed out to La Ventana (The Win dow), where we’d kayaked a few days earlier.

Along the way, we found sea lions floating belly up in the water. They were regulating their body temps by holding their fins up in the air.

We had never seen this before. Very interesting.

We continued to Coronado Island. and beached the boat for a light hike up and around. The other side of the island revealed several coves and more crystal clear waters. Some spectacular spots for a swim in warmer waters.

One more hop to another pretty beach and Marcos asked if we would like to dig for clams. One of the others answered a very enthusiastic yes and we stopped. In this beach, all you have to do is stick your hand into the sand and move it across until you hit something hard, which seems to always be a clam.

I got hooked on finding clams while Hector took some photographs. I found enough clams for dinner, and Hector steamed them with wine and garlic later that evening. Yum!

On our way back Marcos drove the boat to the back side of La Ventana, where the mystery of the name revealed itself. There is a triangular rock with a large “window” in the middle. We had just missed seeing it on our kayak expedition because we had not made the turn around this corner of the island.

Next, Marcos took us to a beach with an old boat that looked like it had been beached for a long while. Someone had written S.S.Minnow on it.  We all had a good laugh because we too we on a “three hour tour”.

There was a beautiful lush green area with trees towards the back of the beach. Turns out that the beach floods and water collects in a low area and keeps the ground cover and trees happy. We hiked around a bit then got back in the boat.

We didn’t see much marine life, as it wasn’t the right season, but we still had a wonderful experience.

The next day we hooked up the car and continued South to more adventures.

 

Breathtaking Bahia de Los Angeles

Our side trip to Bahia de los Angeles began with a lovely drive through more desert gardens. Thankfully, the road was in very good condition and a bit wider than the Peninsular Highway.

As you approach the Bay, there is a moment when the Sea of Cortez and its surrounding islands appear before you, it is stunning!

We were relieved to see that the gas station in town was open as it closes if the gas delivery doesn’t come.  Our rig didn’t have enough diesel to make it both across the gas gap and also do the extra hundred miles or so for this side trip.  For cars that run low, there are a couple of pickups with “barrel gas” at the Bahia turn.  Folks do tend to find a way.

Water is scarce here (no campgrounds offer water hookups or water for filling your tanks), so we filled our tanks in Cataviña.  We checked out Daggett’s campground and used the dump there (only one in town). While Hector handled the stinky slinky I checked out Campo Archelon next door.

Daggett’s was nice enough but Campo Archelon had one spot left by a large palapa right by the water and that became our spot!

Campo Archelon has a fascinating history.  Betty and her husband Antonio arrived in 1979 to set up a sea turtle research station.  At that time, the turtle population was diminishing but they were still being hunted for food. Their research ultimately help prove that the turtles needed protection and new laws were finally instituted in 1990 to protect them across the Mexican shores, a critical habitat for the global turtle population.  The research center is no longer there, but the cabanas and the palapas still in place for the RV park had been set up originally to house volunteers and for educational meetings.

There is still a feeling that something good happened here. Antonio senior passed away a few years ago and Betty now runs the place with her industrious son Antonio. Check out our review of this lovely campground here.

We set up in our huge palapa and were able to place our barbecue and outdoor stove on the large table provided by the campground. Instant covered outdoor kitchen!

That night we were graced with the first beautiful sunset of the week. What a spectacular place!


Bahia de los Angeles is known for occasional high winds from the north (Nortes) which were blowing on our first day there. So we drove over to the little town. We found some interesting murals and a few small businesses but not much else of interest except for a lovely little museum.

The Museo de Naturaleza y Cultura is a museum that was founded by an American lady, Carolina Shepard, who has lived 40+ years and raised her family in Bahia de los Angeles. The museum has many examples of marinelife and shell species, indigenous artifacts, exhibitions representing the history and ecology of the region, mining and ranching artifacts and more. It is clearly a labor of love. Surprisingly, we found Betty from the campground overseeing the museum. Carolina humbly gives much of the credit for the museum to all of the people who have given their time to it and Betty is apparently one of those people.  We were fortunate to meet these two pillars of the community,

We returned to our beautiful campsite and took a walk on the beach where we found many lovely shells and watched another stunning sunset.  By the end of the week we had amassed quite the haul.

The sunsets were great.  But the sunrises were even more intense.

An interesting thing about the town is that most of the residents have to get non-potable water from a nearby well, and potable water from a nearby spring. We saw Antonio head out several times in his truck to acquire water. The campground uses a system to capture seawater to flush the toilets and for two little sinks outside the toilets (clearly marked as salt water). They use the good water for the showers and for a faucet located outside the shower building.  Moving water is hard work!

At dusk every day, when the tide was low, shorebirds, wading birds, pelicans and gulls gathered on the rocks to catch their dinner. There were oystercatchers, great egrets, great blue heron, different types of seagulls, pelicans, reddish egrets, greater yellowlegs, and more.

That was our evening entertainment prior to the magnificent sunsets. The sunsets had different colors and patterns each day. A magical place.Antonio the younger has ambitious plans for the place. A new restaurant is under construction and he was continuously working on the garden, the buildings, and helping the guests with advice and assistance.

Campo Archelon was magical.  Our visit to Bahia de Los Angeles was all we dreamt of.  Next up our kayaking adventures while we were in this beautiful place.

Hector and Brenda

The Surprising Beach at San Quintin

South of Ensenada the road goes through an agricultural area and the towns get smaller and further apart.  We try to make our driving days short and  San Quintin is just before the central desert and the longest “gas gap” in Baja where there are >200 miles between gas stations so we planned to overnight there.

With no particular expectations other than we knew it was on the beach we stopped to camp at Fidel’s El Pabellon RV campground.  Check out our review of the campground here. To our delight the beach was incredible.  Wide, beautiful and completely empty. Except of course for the zillion sand dollars that were everywhere and lots of birds.

Fidel was very nice and was busy constructing a new waterfront restaurant focused on local seafood which he hopes will be open in March.  He gave me a tour of the work in progress, looks like it will be quite the addition to the limited local restaurant scene in a spectacular location.

A walk on the beach and a gorgeous sunset. In the morning, we awoke to dolphins out on the water. And a few fishermen returning from early fishing trips. Fidel used to be a lobster fisherman so it sounds like that will be a highlight of his menu.An unexpected treat for sure.

Groucho Marx clams

We were tempted to stay longer but decided to pull ourselves away to get further south.
Off to the central desert we go.

Hector and Brenda

Ensenada

After crossing the border with no meat or produce on board our first order of business was to stock the rig for our trip down the 1000 miles of the peninsula.  Ensenada is a good sized city and the biggest until we reach La Paz, our planned turnaround point.

From Tecate to Ensenada you travel down Mex Hwy 3 through La Ruta del Vino, a beautiful wine region of Mexico.

We might spend a night or two on the way back and sample some wines.  But for now we are headed south.

We camped about 40 minutes south of central Ensenada near an interesting little tourist trap.  A blowhole called “La Bufadora” where the ocean swells create a big whoosh thru a feature in the rocks. But the real reason we camped there was the views.

Campo #5 is set high on a cliff with killer pacific views, a perfect way to get in the Baja mood while taking care of business.

No facilities here, just dry camping in an awesome spot for very little moola. Check out our review here.

Ensenada has a nice waterfront Malecon and all the resources one might need.  That and some great seafood for good measure.We visited here briefly a few years ago with our dear friends Michael and Gloria who live in San Diego and had a wonderful time so we were happy to be back.  We went back to the amazing seafood market where there are some serious overachievers in displaying the shrimp for sale.  Some came home with us.

We enjoyed our walk along the malecon and then went to eat our first of what will surely be many fish tacos at the famous and long established Tacos Fenix taco stand, around since 1970 and recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain (sigh). Yummy and cheap, perfecto!

Then a big grocery shopping outing at the modern supermarket next to the Costco.  

The central section of Baja is VERY remote with limited supplies so careful shopping at this last town of significance for a long while is important.

Shopping complete we had worked up a thirst and we went for a margarita at an Ensenada institution, Hussong’s Cantina, established as a stage coach stop in 1892, it is one of several establishments that lay claim to having been the inventor of the popular tequila drink, the Margarita.

As this version of the story goes, in 1941 the German Ambassador to Mexico’s daughter came in just the barman was experimenting with a new mix of tequila, lime and Damiana liquor.  The drink was a big hit, the ambassador’s daughter was named Margarita Henkel, and the rest is history.

The Margaritas were strong and good, the peanut shells go on the floor where the occasional pigeon comes by to sample them and the bar has old photos and lots of patina.

The next day as we headed out of town we did one more bit of shopping.

One of the offshoots of a wine region is often the production of olives which are sold at roadside stands along with local honey and olive oil.  Of course we needed some for martinis …

South we go … next stop, San Quintin!

Hector and Brenda

We’re off to Baja California!

Hi everyone!  We are back out on the road for a couple of months.

Ever since sometime in the 90’s, we dreamt about visiting Baja California. The peninsula is 1000 miles long, with remote deserts, lonely beaches, Pacific views, Sea of Cortez kayaking in crystal clear waters, whales, and more.

We planned to go around a business trip Hector had to San Diego while we lived in Miami but something came up and that trip never happened. 

So when we started fulltime RVing in 2012, I tried to add a trip to Baja California to our plans, but Hector did not want to drive our Class A motorhome down there. It turns out he was right, more on that later.

After selling Island Girl two years ago, we bought a nice Winnebago View on a Sprinter chassis from some friends of a friend. One key selling point was that it was “Baja ready” and could take the “dirty” diesel that is still sold in parts of Mexico which more modern diesel engines cannot.

In fact, this rig had already been down to Baja and to other parts of Mexico.  She is also a “skinny Winnie”, the nickname referring to this class C RV being narrower than most which would prove helpful on the narrow Baja roads.

We named her Island Time.

We went on some long and fun shakedown cruises which we did not blog about and then we planned our trip to Baja,  Now we were finally ready.

And we were off!

Our route plan was pretty simple, first an overnight boon docking stop in the Agua Caliente BLM area outside Phoenix, enjoying the always entertaining desert SW and Route 66 stuff along the way. Check out our review of the BLM area here.

And then down to Tecate, California to cross the border into Mexico.  It is a bit out of the way down a pretty windy road which makes it one of least busy crossing points. It is also a convenient place to take care of getting our tourist visas.

When you fly to Mexico your fee is included in the airfare and you fill out the little immigration paper on the plane. If you drive in, you need to go inside the immigration office at the border to fill out the FMM form and pay a small fee ($32pp).  Parking is very limited at the border crossing and doing this transaction in an RV can be complicated. So we camped on the US side, drove our car to the border and parked on the US side, walked across, got our papers in order and walked back that afternoon.   The US border agent asked how long we had been in Mexico, answer = about 6 minutes :-).

We had a fun dinner that night with friends who live in the mountains outside San Diego close to Tecate and stayed at Potrero County Park which is just a few miles from the border.  Check out our review of the park here. One last systems check and dropping off of produce with the park ranger the next morning and …

With our paperwork in order, crossing the border was pretty easy. We had one other RV in front of us, which the border patrol officer waved on. This made me think that they would stop the next one (us), and I was right. She boarded Island Time briefly, looked in a couple of cabinets and asked where we were going and where we came from. Then she poked around in the car and asked what was in our five gallon jug – water. That was it. She then waved us on.

My first experience in Mexico was some friendly construction workers waving and smiling at me.

And just like that we are back in Mexico and off on our next adventure!

Stay tuned.

Hector and Brenda

Life Marches On

Hi folks, Hector here … it has been just over a year since our sweet Angel passed away and we fell off the wagon of posting on this blog.  We still miss her every day.

Sorry to just stop cold like that but life marches on and we’ve been busy with new projects that we’ll post about soon.  We are doing well and sure do appreciate the “where the heck are you” inquiries we’ve received!

Strange to say that it has been two years since the end of our extraordinary “walkabout”.  We planned and saved for it for five years.  It was supposed to be a three year trip and we stretched it to almost four before we decided to settle into the next Casa Lopez.  Even two years on, we still marvel at the experiences we had and the people we met.  Many of whom we are still happy and fortunate to call our friends.  Here are just some of the treasured friends we made along the way.

A quick recap of our adventures of the recent past.  In July of 2016 (time flies!) we bought a little adobe house in Corrales, NM. A beautiful little village adjacent to Albuquerque with a rural feel.  There are lots of horses, chickens, organic farms, wineries and a quiet pace that we love. To say nothing of the coyotes and road runners … beep beep!  It is a big change for us as we’ve usually been in-town types.

Last year we sold our beloved Island Girl to a young couple with three cute kids from Phoenix.  As comfortable as she was for full-time RVing, she was simply too big for occasional use.  It was bittersweet to see her go.  SO many special memories were made in that RV!  But she went to a good home and we’ve enjoyed the occasional updates the new owners have shared.

We’ve since purchased a 2009 Winnebago View 24J that we’ve taken on a few outings so far.  We’ve christened her “Island Time” and are loving the simplicity and versatility of the smaller rig.  More on those adventures in “Island Time” in future posts.

Brenda has returned to the travel business and is a Travel Advisor affiliated with one of the largest travel agencies in ABQ, All World Travel.  I’ve been developing my photography business and am STILL digesting the zillion images we captured while on our epic road trip.  Our future posts will touch on these endeavors as well.

So that’s the high level update on whats cooking at Casa Lopez of late.  The interactions we had with our readers of this blog meant a lot to us and frankly we’ve missed it.  So we have no idea where this will ultimately go but we do intend to bring this blog back to life.

Thanks again to all for your participation in our walkabout.  Writing this blog and your comments and feedback were a big part of what made it so great.  More to come!

Hector and Brenda

 

 

Driving Miss Angel


Her name is Angel … “Of course it is”. A response we heard more than once from the many people across North America when introduced to our wonderful dog Angel. Her sweet face and mellow disposition would draw them in. Especially the kids. So fluffy.

Today Angel is gone.  She crossed the Rainbow Bridge, her last journey in a well travelled life. We are beyond heartbroken. Many readers of this blog know she made it through some serious scrapes over the years but in the end, at the age of 15, she simply and quietly let us know it was time.She came into our lives in the spring of 2009 at the age of 7 along with her “brother” Rags.  Two wonderful furballs to enrich our lives.  We dreamt of our walkabout including them both but sadly Rags passed away too soon.  But Angel accompanied us faithfully all across North America for almost four years.

Angel made it to the four corners of the continent. When hiking with her in the touristy areas, especially in Canada, several different Asian groups asked if they could take a photo with her. We joked that she had become a sensation throughout Asia.

Dad, can i drive?

On the beach at St George Island

Boating in Everglades National Park

Being serenaded in Key West. “Angel, sweet Angel” was the refrain of the song

The Vermont farm animals were very interesting.  Her first piglets!

First mate on a whale watching boat off the north coast of Nova Scotia.

Chasing fallen leaves on the Buffalo River

She loved the car.

At the beach in San Diego

Autumn leaves in Portland

Hiking outside of Sedona

Its raining!

Trying on hats in Mexico

High in the Canadian Rockies

On the Alaska Highway

Hiking in the Yukon

Visiting her Husky cousins in Alaska

Deep in Denali National Park

Only sled dogs allowed here. Denali in the background.

Latitude 66.33  The Arctic Circle

Photographer’s assistant

At home in New Mexico

She was fierce until the very end.

We love you Angel, rest in peace.

 

Island Girl Seeks A New Home

Update: Island Girl found a new home with a young couple with three little boys!

No not THAT Island Girl, Brenda continues to put up with me. We are selling our beloved Island Girl the RV! We still plan on RVing part time but have decided that a smaller rig would be a better fit. So our thoroughly proven and reliable 2004 National Tropical T396 RV, “Island Girl” seeks a new home.

Since settling into our new home here in New Mexico, Island Girl has been meticulously cleaned and serviced from end to end. Every detail has been taken care of. Other than a few minor cosmetic beauty marks she is in much better condition today than the day we bought her in 2011.

Numerous upgrades, a thorough interior remodel, new roof, new tires (this week) mechanically perfect and drives great. She has just over 73k miles on her Freightliner XC chassis / Caterpillar engine / Allison transmission. We are asking $68K. Someone is going to get one great RV for not much moola.Below are detailed shots of Island Girl and her features as well as some of our favorite shots of her in action. Of course this entire blog is about her in action. We sincerely hope that her next owners are inspired by our Walkabout and have as much fun as we had.
In 2011 and 12 we completely remodeled and reupholstered the interior using Tommy Bahama fabrics, ultra-leather for the Captain’s chairs and stone for the backsplashes. We installed two new flat screen TVs, a Flexsteel sleeper (Queen mattress), a recliner, 25 LED bulbs/tubes and built a custom computer workstation. 

Solid cherry dinette table top

No RV should be without a Tiki Bar!

She has a spacious kitchen with a huge pantry cabinet (all cabinets are maple) and deep drawers. And a new GE Profile convection microwave, a 3-burner cooktop, and a Dometic side by side fridge with a new cooling unit and brain.

And a comfy custom built office with space for books, files, and a printer drawer.

A compact but functional bath. And a second sink in the bedroom. We replaced the plastic sinks with residential porcelain ones and installed new faucets, an Oxigenic shower head and a new toilet.

A spacious bedroom with a walk around standard size queen bed (new Sealy Posturepedic mattress in 2016), all new ceiling and sconce fixtures, vanity sink, laundry hamper, washer/ dryer combo unit, a large storage cabinet behind a new flat screen TV with a safe, and Elfa shelving in the closet.

She is very comfortable to drive and handles great.


Her exterior fiberglass is in great shape and has been regularly waxed. She has a Winegard satellite dish and an HD “Jack” TV antenna. There is some fading on the decals and a beauty mark or two but she is still quite shiny and good looking.  


 

After a hailstorm in 2013 we replaced the roof (not just the shell, but the underlayment too). It is sheet fiberglass not rubber. She also got a new 140W solar panel, a new skylight and new slide toppers.

She has tons of storage underneath as well.  Pass through central bays.

External SeeLevel II tank sensors that actually work!

New water pump

 

And large holding tanks for comfy boon docking.  95 gallons fresh water, 60 gallon grey tank and 40 gallon black tank and new SeeLevel tank sensors. A 100 gallon diesel fuel tank runs both the engine and the 7.5Kw Onan Quiet Diesel generator.

So that’s it.  A great coach in great shape at a great price.

But her most important feature is karma. Such wonderful memories of our amazing 3+ year walkabout. She delivered us safely and comfortably to many of the wonderful destinations across the continent.

Contact us through this link or a comment on this post if you’d like to discuss making her yours. She is ready for new adventures.

Hector