Getting in the Spirit

Last night we took up the offer from our friend Heidy to come on down to her home at Green Valley. We met Heidy a few years ago when we and she were both members of the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 Mexican Connection trip.

Since Heidy’s kitchen is kind of torn apart for new paint and countertops, we all had supper at one of her favorite local family-owned restaurants and then drove on up to Tucson to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens for their holiday light display.

The weather was perfect, in the 50’s and the hour or so we spent there walking through the gardens was beautiful. The gardens opened at 6 pm and admittance was by prepaid tickets at specific times. This way large groups came in at staggered times as the previous group(s) left. I’d say they let in about 300-400 visitors at a time.

Here’s a gallery of pictures and videos. We talked with one of the employees and he told us that many of the larger trees take weeks to install all the lights and they have to remove them every year so as not to grow into the bark.

Many of the lights changed color as you walked through and many others were timed to coincide with the music that played throughout the gardens. It was a great way to enjoy the holiday and reminisce about how we’ve spent Christmas pasts.

Right now we’re all up and showered enjoying our morning coffee and a little later this morning were going to head over to the Country Fair White Elephant, a local resale shop to see what kind of goodies they might have that would work either in our new rig in Arizona or the house back in Ohio. Now that we’ve decided to keep the house for our summer home, we will be more comfortable with spending some on furnishings and decorating.

I was too awe struck to think about taking any pictures of the White Elephant resale shop in Green Valley, Arizona south of Tucson. It’s a huge building where they must have at least 40 volunteers on duty every day of the week. The parking lot was packed, probably a hundred or so cars and this was on a TUESDAY! Heidy told us it’s like this every day.

All of the “merchandise” is sorted/grouped by type; furniture, rugs, tools, shoes, sports equipment, etc. If you find an item you like, just flag down one of the roaming clerks (who are very friendly and helpful by the way) and they’ll write up the item, lead you to the check out counter where you pay for the item(s), and then one of their “pickers” moves your purchases to the loading dock where you’ll have them loaded for your trip home.

Heidy found a great little solid walnut drop-leaf table. It’s got a drop leaf on each side so when it’s folded it’ll go in her hallway and only take up a space about 1 foot by 3 feet. The spindle legs are lathe-turned and fold out to support the table on all four sides. It looks like something that was made in the ’30’s or ’40’s. Once Heidy gets it cleaned up, it’ll be a wonderful addition to her home there in Green Valley.

Heidy's table is similar to this one except that hers has rectangular leafs

Heidy’s table looks similar to this one I grabbed off Google Images except that hers has rectangular leafs instead of half-round. That way her table is square when it’s opened instead of round.

The special thing about this store is that all of the items are donated and the $1,500,000 plus annual sales are donated to local charities and food banks. It’s quite an operation and it’s fun to see how everyone there (buyers and volunteers alike) are having such a good time.

Here’s the link to their “About” page on their web site

Since we only took the Lexus down to her place, once we fit the table in the trunk there wasn’t a whole lot of room left, but we did manage to push in a cute little lamp we bought for $10

along with a western style hat for Kathy ($6) that’ll fit her just fine for our upcoming “Western Days” here at the park along with a pretty large wall hanging ($25) that’ll be a nice accent to the living room area rug and loveseat that are in our home back in Mt Gilead.

As we drove away I joked (maybe not) to the girls that if/when we come back next year I’ll rent a U-haul!

Christmas in Mexico

We left our winter home at Rovers Roost on Saturday December 18th and met up with our friend Heidy at her home in Green Valley AZ for the night.

Sunday morning bright and early (still dark) we left her place about 6:30 and headed down I-10 and I-19 to the border crossing at Nogales.

Once we crossed the border onto MX15 we still had an inspection station, an immagration station, and 3 tolls booths to get through.

We stayed on MX15 (a four lane divided highway) down to Hermosillo where we then headed west about 60 more miles on MX100 to Bahia de Kino (Kino Bay) where we then pulled in to Islandia Marina and RV Park.

Our host Martita greeted us with a smile and pointed out two possible sites for us. We chose the one nestled under a big tree overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

We have a large site with plenty of shade over the coach, 1000′ of sandy beach, sun and water out our front window

The nights are cool, in the 40’s and 50’s and the days are breezy and in the low 80’s with lots of sunshine.

Our first full day found us keeping busy going about 20 minutes east to San Miguel Aleman to exchange our dollars for pesos, to pick up a few groceries, and to a local Telcel agent to get a 30 day MX sim card for my phone.

Just to give you an idea of how money works here, $100 American is about 2000 MX pesos.

Our groceries at a super market cost us $8.90, my 30 day unlimited talk and text (4.5gb data) sim card cost me $11.50, and our 30 amp full hookup site overlooking the beach at the Sea of Cortez costs $15/night.

While last night we cooked brats on the grill at our home by the beach, tonight we ate at Pulpo Loco (Crazy Octopus) in town. We got 3 combo plates of fried fish, bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp, salad, fries, and fried shrimp. All 3 meals along with two bottles of Coke and a huge bottled water was 520 pesos (about $26)

Our first day here at Islandia RV Park we had the pleasure of meeting Julio, one of the regulars whose been spending winters here since 2007. A retired NYC firefighter, he’s quite a character. Although he doesn’t own or even manage the park, he loves to play host and invited us to join the gang at his place anytime we see anyone there.

Julio and others invited us down for Ray’s 89th birthday party complete with pizza and birthday cake

Thursday morning came too soon and it was time to say goodbye to our host Martita and head further south about 120 miles to Totonaka RV Park at San Carlos, also on the east side of the Sea of Cortez.

Saying goodbye to our host Martita at Islandia RV Park (Bahia de Kino, Sonora, MX)

San Carlos is a much larger town that Kino Bay and is more a tourist area loaded with restaurants and curio shops.

The park is very nice with over 140 FHU RV sites and about 25 motel rooms. Heidy is in one of their rooms and we are in the coach. They have a pool, hot tub, pickleball courts and they run a clean tight ship here, they’re always cleaning, raking, and checking the property. At this park our FHU site cost $26/nite (tourist area pricing).

Map of our route ending at San Carlos, Guaymas Sonora, MX

The day after Christmas, there is the annual lighted boat parade right off the beach and we walked down to watch as about twenty five or thirty large vessels dressed in hundreds of Christmas lights paraded by. It was a fun (and free) evening.

I’m sorry the pictures are blurry, it was dark and the camera had a hard time focusing.

Now the weather turned cool. Gray skies after Christmas and temps in the 50’s and 60’s so no beach time for now. But there ARE still PLENTY of places to eat that many of our neighbors here at Totonaka have told us that we need to check out.

The girls went shopping today, they were gone about 4 hours and came back all excited about what they stumbled across … a place where Heidy and/or Kathy and I could rent an RV spot either monthly or year-round and at a very attractive price!

We talked at some length about the possibilities and decided that all three of us would make a 2nd visit tomorrow. In the meantime … what else? It’s dinner time!

We went back to Daniel’s place the day after Christmas to “scope it out” a little more. He has four covered RV spots that are 60+ feet deep and about 30′ wide with an add’l 12’x60′ concrete patio. All sites are Full Hook-Up (water, electric, and sewer). The property is fenced and gated and Daniel and his wife live full-time on the property. He made Heidy a really sweet deal ($250/month) to park her rig there year round and stay in it full-time or for a few months at a time. Two of the four sites are occupied by folks who live there year-round. NOTE: Take a look at the supports for the roof. These are NOT trees but actually they are BRANCHES from giant eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus is a very dense and heavy wood and makes for an excellent building material in this dry climate.

While visiting Daniel he drew a map for us to check out the “lookout” and one of the high-end new home developments on the bay.

To round out the afternoon (and our last day in Mexico) we decided to …. what else? Try out another restaurant of course!

The restaurant celebrates the “Day of the Dead” which is a Mexican holiday on November 1st and 2nd. It celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died over the last year.

From Google: “Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life. Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from death. This cycle is often associated with the cyclical nature of agriculture, whereby crops grow from the ground where the last crop lies buried.”

All in all, we had a great time visiting Mexico and making new friends. In a nutshell we have to say that;

  1. The Mexican people are gracious, friendly, accommodating, and thankful that we were there spending our money in their communities.
  2. The food cost is about one-half of what a meal (restaurant or grocery store) would cost in the states.
  3. Fuel is about the same cost or even a little more than here in the states,
  4. and the roads are generally terrible. Certainly not everywhere, but there are plenty of areas where you have to wonder if the RV is just going to shake apart right there on the spot.
  5. And the poverty is nearly everywhere, at least it’s not at all hard to find. We say plenty of people living in tin and cardboard shacks with no electricity and no running water. It’s sad to see such distress.

We drove our last day straight through from San Carlos to Casa Grande AZ (395 miles) and we have to say it’s “good to be back”.

Until next time, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year. We hope it’s a safe and healthy one for all of us.

Herb and Kathy