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

Campground Review – Cabela’s Sidney Nebraska

After spending two wonderful cool fall days and nights at Historic Fort Robinson State Park we made our way down U.S. 385 to our next stop at Sidney Nebraska.

This location is the World Headquarters for Cabela’s and has two very large multi-story office buildings behind the store, loads of customer parking out front and lots of free truck and RV parking along with free dump station and fresh water fill for the RV’ers. Thank you Cabela’s!

This Cabela’s also has a full hook-up campground (for a fee of course) but if you can get by with out needing hook-ups and you can sleep to the constant hum of diesel truck engines and their refrigerator trailers running all night … well then – free is good!

We arrived mid-afternoon, the four of us grocery shopped across the street at Walmart, ate dinner at a nice little Mexican joint just down the street, and then settled in for the night. We really were not bothered by the trucks and we have ample fresh water/waste water capacity along with plenty of solar and batteries to run the TV in the evening and the furnace in the morning to take off the chill.

We did just fine, but it is fall and the temp got down to 49 degrees last night so all our windows were closed and the hum of the motors was dampened somewhat. If it was summer, the noise might be too loud.

As always, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

In the morning we went on into Cabela’s and did a little shopping (mostly looking). They have SO MUCH STUFF! It’s fun to look at all their offerings from knives, to tents, clothing, shoes/boots, camping supplies, guns, and more. It’s always great to look at their wild game displays too.

After Cabela’s we decided it was time for a late breakfast and Kathy found this great little place that serves breakfast until 10am, then closes until they open for dinner at 5pm. It’s family owned and operated by the same family since the beginning. We enjoyed great atmosphere, super service and outstandingly tasty food!

Workampers Northwest Michigan Road Trip

One of the nice advantages of the workamping lifestyle is that we work (at the RV park) part time in exchange for our site and utilities.  “Part Time” is key for two reasons.  First, we’ve worked full-time for forty years or so and don’t want to do that any longer … after all, we are “retired” in that we quit working full time, started collecting our Social Security and pensions earlier than most (at a reduced rate) so that we could change our lifestyle and explore this great country of ours.

Secondly, working part time allows us a few days a week to hit the road and explore what’s around us.  If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen; the beach and state park at Ludington, the Pere Marquette River, the Village of Idlewild, Bitely, and more.

This week we headed out Thursday morning for a three day trip along the “baby finger” of Michigan bordering Lake Michigan where we enjoyed towns and villages like Manistee, Glen Arbor, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Cross Village, Mackinac City and finally back down through Kalkaska and Cadillac.  The map of our three day trip is below.

If you’d like an interactive link to the map so you can zoom and pan on any specific area, here’s the link.

Day 1 – Manistee to Charlevoix

Our first stop was at Manistee.  We didn’t walk the town, but we did head to the beach and on the way back through town, we stopped to admire the Ramsdell Theatre.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside to see, but got a couple of outside pix.  I wouldn’t have stopped there, but was curious about the large brick windowless tower poking up out the back of the building.  Once we stopped and found that it was a theater, the tower to the rear made sense.

Pigs really DO Fly (at the Ramsdell Theatre sidewalk in front of the box office)

Coming attractions at the Ramsdell Theatre

Ramsdell Theater, Manistee, MI – On the National Register of Historic Places

The Ramsdell streetside .. Note the high tower at the rear where they pull up the curtains and backdrops

The public beach along Lake Michigan at Manistee, MI

Our selfie at Manistee Public Beach Park

This is a decommissioned rail car ferry. It’s hard to see, but it has train tracks inside for the cars to ride on

The stern of the ferry opens wide to allow the train cars to be rolled on to the deck

Relaxing along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Orchard Beach State Park just north of Manistee

Historical marker at Onekema on the east side of Portage Lake

The park at Onekema overlooking Portage Lake

We continued north along M-22, often catching glimpses of the mighty Lake Michigan

Selfie at Inspiration Point (Arcadia Dunes Beach at Arcadia)

The Kindness Rocks Project at Arcadia Beach

It was a beautiful drive up M-22 along the lake.  Since it was a weekday, very little traffic and almost nobody else on the beaches we stopped to check out.

We continued up M-22 out of Arcadia, through Watervale and Alberta and on into Frankfort where we were able to pull in to the public park at the marina, break out our cooler and have a light lunch of tuna salad on crackers along with some cottage cheese and washed it all down with a few gulps of ice cold lemonade while watching the boats bobbing in the water and the sea gulls dive for their lunch (in the harbor, not at our picnic table!).

Leaving Frankfort, we headed on up through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore across Glen Lake into and out of Glen Arbor and into Leland where we knew from previous visits we would find the historic “Fishtown“.  It’s mostly just a tourist trap now with lots of shops filled with collectibles and souvenirs, along with a few cafes but also is an active harbor for pleasure vessels and charter fishing operations as well.  You can easily spend a lot of money in Leland.

Years ago we had continued north on M-22 all the way to the Grand Traverse Light adjacent to the Lelanau State Park at the tip of the baby finger.  It’s a nice trip up with a wonderful little museum in the lighthouse and I’d recommend this to anyone visiting the area.

Now, I KNEW that Leland was a tourist spot, but we thought maybe we’d get a room there for the night and be able to walk the sidewalks and rub elbows with those further up the economic ladder from us.  NOT!  We found a motel online and our smartphone said that they had only one room left, so we darted up the street to get there and check in.  The nice young lady behind the desk told us the rate was $391 (per night!) and NO, that did NOT include a few rounds of golf!

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Soooooo, we headed out of Leland, through Sutton’s Bay and on to Charlevoix where we hoped to find a room for the night.

We found the Maple Leaf Motel (only 10 rooms) on the south end of town where our host Cindy welcomed us to the last room available, and as promised we found the room to be clean.  I asked Cindy where we should have dinner tonight and she recommended the new “Cantina” restaurant located in an alley off the beaten track.  She also told us about the 80th annual Venetian Festival going on in downtown this week.  We decided that all sounded like a great night so off we went …

The harbor at Charlevoix, getting ready for the band at the Venetian Festival

The Venetian Festival at Charlevoix

Dinner menu from the Cantina restaurant where we had dinner

Cantina “Street Corn” grilled, rolled in Chipotle Mayo, then rolled in cheese – Yummy!

Kathy’s Chicken and Shrimp Tacos

My beef and bean burrito

Mural on Rexall Drugs downtown Charlevoix

A man and his dog on the paddle board in the harbor

A 2 hour cruise out into Lake Michigan on a catamaran

Some shots of folks enjoying the festival food at the harbor and listening to the live band in the amphitheater

This ferry coming in from Beaver Island (watch the video below)


Kathy wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel.  But she also wanted ME to GO ALONG!

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m “skeered of heights”.  I can’t even climb up on top of the motor home.  I can handle a six foot ladder, but that’s about all.

It might not look it, but I’m shakin’ in my shoes

A shot from atop the wheel (Skeered)

A street performer downtown Charlevoix during the Venetian Festival

The video below shows a group of kids having a ball on the hill.  It would be a really tough climb with a sled in the snow.

We got the last room in town, $85 / nite. Not a lot of fluff, but a clean room

Resting back in the room after dinner and the festival downtown

That’s it for now, the next post will be from Charlevoix through Petoskey, Cross Village and the Tunnel of Trees and then up across the bridge (and back) and then down to Kalkaska.