Friday, September 28, 2012

Around Loreto

A few more photos from around Loreto. (click to view more)


Luckily we got out snorkelling with the sea lions before the weather socked in. (hurricane / tropical storm off the west coast) And we were lucky enough to see the dolphins - always a big treat. They haven't had rain here for three years, so I'm sure they're glad of it, but for us it meant a day hanging out around the hotel. And the drive from Loreto to La Paz today was a little scary with many sections of road flooded (Shelley should be posting some photos). We're hoping to get out snorkelling and kayaking tomorrow, but it'll depend on the weather. There's now a tropical storm in the Sea of Cortez (to the east of us). We knew it was the rainy / hurricane season, but hopefully it clears up soon!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baja Photos

A few photos from our drive down through Baja, Mexico. (click on the photo to see more)



When I went to close the curtains in our room last night, something ran across the wall. At first I thought it was a spider, but it had large claws or pincers so I figured it was probably a scorpion, although I didn't think of them as climbers. It was big for a spider, but its body was only about 1/2 inch. I attempted to catch it under a glass but it was too fast for me. We pondered what to do and decided we didn't really want a scorpion loose in our room. So I put down the glass and picked up a paperback book. It was over my head on the wall so I was a little nervous that it would fall on me and I'd get stung. I shouldn't have worried, again it was too fast for me and disappeared into a crack between the ceiling and wall. I guess we're sharing our room with a scorpion.

Today I did some research on the web and I think it's probably a bark scorpion since they are the only scorpions that climb. They're called bark scorpions because they hide under bark on trees. They are also supposed to be fast moving, which matches my experience. Unfortunately, they also have a very nasty sting - they are the most venomous scorpion in North America and the sting can cause severe pain for up to 72 hours. The joys of tropical climates. Nothing a little snow wouldn't fix :-) Hopefully it'll stay up in it's crack near the ceiling!

Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets

Arizona bark scorpion (Wikipedia)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Into Baja Mexico

After a short stretch on the dreaded interstate it was another small winding mountain road to the border crossing to Tecate. It was easy going into Mexico - we just drove across. No one looked at our passports, no one asked us any questions.

It was busy getting through Tecate, but it's much smaller than Tijuana and soon we were headed south on the Mexico 3 highway that leads through wine country to Ensenada.

Being a law abiding Canadian, I found the lack of speed limit signs unsettling. And the few signs that were to be found, didn't make any sense. All of a sudden there'd be a 60 km/hr sign in the middle of nowhere, or a 90 km/hr sign right before the speed bumps. Shelley took it more in stride - go with the flow, she told me.

Mid morning we reached the wine country of the Guadelupe Valley. We passed the huge Domecq and L.A. Cietta wineries that (at least at one time) together account for 80% of the wine produced in Mexico. We preferred to visit smaller wineries but we weren't sure where to start. Then we passed Endémico - a very cool winery and hotel where the rooms are in separate cubes scattered across the hillside. I'd come across it when I was looking on the internet for places to stay, but it didn't have any vacancies. We figured we might as well drive up and have a closer look and see if we could at least taste some wine. The lobby building was very modern and open, with great views of the vineyards and valley below. We asked the guy hanging around the bar area if we could taste some wine. He said yes, so we sat down. He gave us sample of several wines. At first I thought he wasn't very talkative, but when I started asking questions I realized his English wasn't that good (but probably better than my Spanish). It turns out Endémico has only been open three months. And the wines he was giving us weren't theirs. I don't think they were really open for wine tasting, but when two gringos walked in and asked to taste wine, what do you do.

As we were leaving we decided it wouldn't hurt to ask if they had any vacancies, after all, someone might have cancelled. It turns out they weren't full. (Not sure why the internet said they were.) Of course, it was expensive, so that put us on the spot to decide whether or not to splurge. We decided to. We'd camped all the way down, so what the heck. How often did we get to stay in a cube on a hillside! The cube was very nice, and to make it even better, there was a pool and bar just up the hill.

We went into town for lunch and visited the Emevé winery. We tried a Chardonay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Malbec, and Los Nietos (a blend). Their wines have been regular award winners.

We spent the rest of the afternoon back at the cubes, in and around the pool. Originally, we'd planned to go back into town for supper, but it was too nice where we were so we just had a light supper by the pool watching the sun go down. Hard to beat.

In the morning we had breakfast by the pool and then hit the road. It was slow going through Ensenada, which seemed to go on forever. We resisted the urge to stop at the several Starbucks we passed on the way through.

It was a long 10 hour day of solid driving to Guerrero Negro. A beautiful drive though. I was excited to see the Boojum Trees (the name is taken from Lewis Carroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark). I'd read about them but never seen them in person. They are very bizarre looking. I was excited when the first few appeared, but we ended up driving by countless more for the next couple of hours, along with Saguaro cactus, Joshua trees, agaves, and another tree that I can't remember the name of, that look a little like baobob trees. Some of the Joshua trees and agaves were flowering.

We also saw a couple of roadrunners running across the road. I've been wanting to see them since we started coming to the Southwest but this was our first sighting. Didn't get a very good look at them, but the outline seems distinctive. (Trivia - a group of roadrunners is known as a "marathon") We also saw rabbits, a coyote, and various hawks and other birds.

Overall, the highway was in good shape. A few rough spots and a few construction zones, but that's the same anywhere. However, the road is very narrow with absolutely no shoulder, and a sharp drop off the pavement. Big trucks going in the opposite direction were a little close for comfort. Thankfully there wasn't a lot of traffic.

We had to stop at several military checkpoints but all they did is ask where we were from and where we were going. I think the security is heavier going North.

We made it to Guerrero Negro just as it was getting dark and pulled into the first hotel we came to - the Halfway Inn. I think it was previously the Desert Inn. It was nothing fancy but it seemed ok, and they had a restaurant (and the courtyard had huge flowering hibiscus bushes with hummingbirds feeding on them) We were glad just to stop driving. No air conditioning, but it's cooler here by the Pacific ocean. And even more shockingly, no internet!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Miles

From Rock Springs we drove down Flaming Gorge. Stopped at Sheep Creek to see if the Kokanee salmon were running (imported into the reservoir years ago). Unfortunately, the only sign of them was one dead salmon. Not sure if we're too early or too late.

Had a quick supper in Price and then continued on to a KOA in Green River for the night.

The next day (yesterday) we drove on to Moab for breakfast. Picked up a latte for the road from Wicked Brew. Lots of bike shops in Moab!

Great scenery driving south. Went through Monument Valley. Made it to Flagstaff for afternoon coffee. Then the scenic drive to Sedona and across to Prescott. A slow winding road, but an interesting drive. Jerome looked like a place to visit - an old mining town turned artist/tourist hangout perched on a steep hillside.

We arrived in Prescott with daylight left to find a campsite and somewhere decent for supper. Found Watson lake campground and set up our tent in a nice spot, only to discover, when we went to pay, that the campground wasn't open weekdays. I guess we should have clued in from the lack of other campers. By the time we re-packed and found another campground it was dark. We settled for pizza at the nearby mall for supper. On the positive side it was really good pizza.

Today we drove from Prescott to La Centro near the border, ready to cross at Tecate tomorrow. The temperature hit 42c and we were mighty thankful for air conditioning in the car. It was too hot even to camp so we checked into a hotel for the first time this trip. We even made it there early enough to relax, except Shelley decided to hit the fitness center, and of course, I had to join her. Actually, it felt good to get some exercise after sitting in the car for five days. I would rather have been out hiking in the mountains, but not in this heat! After our workout we had a refreshing dip in the pool to cool off.

It was nice to reach the desert today and see the Saguaro, cholla, and ocotillo cactus and the Joshua trees. I like the bizarre vegetation of the desert.

Not a whole lot of good choices for supper. We ended up at Cicinelli's, an Italian place. Nothing fancy, but good food and quiet (no TV's!)

Reading a book about the wines of Baja, I came across a place to stay called Adobe Guadalupe connected to a winery. I emailed them and they emailed back saying they had one room left. I responded right away saying we'd take it. I didn't hear back but I assumed we were booked. Later I received an email saying we didn't give them a credit card in time so they gave the room to someone else. Except, they never asked us for credit card information. If they had, I would have given it to them. Very annoying. Oh well, their loss. I'm sure we'll find something else.

(click on photo to see more)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Java Peddler

We're having coffee at the Java Peddler in Rock Springs, Wyoming. It's a combination bike shop and espresso bar :-)

We had a nice drive through Yellowstone and Teton National Parks. Stopped for a hike and to watch Old Faithful erupt. It's slower going through the parks, but beautiful.

Had supper in Jackson at Trio Bistro - a nice little place. It was busy for a Monday night so we sat at the bar and watched the kitchen at work. Not much vegetarian, but they happily accommodated us. Had a nice glass of Oregon Pinot Noir (Castle Rock). Shelley tried to refuse the dessert menu, but I interrupted and said it couldn't hurt to at least look! We managed to squeeze in a very tasty Raspberry Sorbet.

Spent another frosty night at the KOA just south of Jackson. Nice tent sites down by the river, although arriving after dark we didn't see too much.

Scenic drive out of the mountains this morning and onto the sagebrush flatlands. We've seen a fair amount of wildlife - wild turkeys, deer, buffalo, hundreds of pronghorn. I think we were in the pronghorn migration area.

We're taking a more easterly route than the last few times when we've been headed to Las Vegas to climb at Red Rocks. Which means staying well away from Salt Lake City since you tend to get sucked into the Interstates and into the city. I hate the Interstates and their fast food, convenience stores, and chain hotels. Yuck. We're going to head for Moab since we've never been through there. And then work our way south-west to the Mexican border. So far the weather has been great - clear and sunny.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Shelley and I are headed down to Baja Mexico, driving. Got out of town mid-morning. Sadly both Urban Ground in Swift Current and the book store coffee shop in Val Marie were closed. No problems getting across the border, other than the border guard wanted to know how we were supporting ourselves.

By Lewistown we'd had enough driving. Planned to have supper at the Main Street Bistro but it was also closed (Sunday). Ate at El Rancho Alegre - Mexican is usually a good bet for something vegetarian.

Tented overnight. More of an RV place, but at least it had showers. It was a coolish night in our summer sleeping bags - frost on the car in the morning.

Now we're at the Tumbleweed Bookstore in Gardiner for an early lunch and to catch up on internet. Last time we came this way it was too early in the spring and the roads through Yellowstone Park were still closed. Hopefully this time we'll be able to drive through the park. It's a beautiful sunny day and we're hoping to get out for a hike as well.

Sunday, September 09, 2012