Hello again from the road!
Pour yourself your favorite bevvie and relax because this is
going to be a long one folks. First off, Merry Xmas to all. Sorry I wasn’t able
to call or email but we were on the road in Baja most of the 24th
& 25th and didn’t see one single internet café. I hope everyone
had fun, Santa was good to you, and you didn’t eat too, too much turkey.
ClubFred celebrated the holiday on a quiet beach on Bahia
de Los Angeles in Baja,
Mexico. But more on that
later; let’s back up a little first…
Our visit to the Benedetti’s seemed to coincide with a
series of small disasters, including a flat tire in the mud and ending with the
shut down of the water system to the house – they were probably breathing a
sigh a relief as we pulled out of the driveway on our way to Twenty-Nine Palms.
So unwashed, yet happy, we trekked across the desert to visit the one and only
It may have been that we had the best tour guide in town but
29 Palms is a little desert gem and well worth the trip. The desert may seem
like a bunch of nothing at first glance but look closely and you’ll see an
abundance of life. Liz’s family goes back to the beginnings of this city and
has played an important role in its growth and development. We saw photos from
a time when 29 Palms was little more than a handful of wooden buildings in the
middle of nowhere; today there is a thriving community.
The Prez and I have been having a blast playing “tourist” on
this trip, breaking out our camera every five minutes or so. Liz kept that
camera busy as she showed us all the beautiful murals painted throughout the
town. Drawing inspiration from the murals of Chemainous,
BC, the murals of 29 Palms depict much of
the town’s history as well as its natural wonders. Perhaps the funniest moment
was when we came upon a mural in progress; the artist was in the first stages
of painting (the outlining phase) and was obviously pretty pooped. When we
pulled up he was sound asleep on his scaffold (wait, it gets better!) and a
huge bull was sauntering by right underneath him! Too wild, we snapped off some
great shots which I’ll attach.
As for the natural wonders, 29 Palms is a gateway to Joshua
Tree National Park, a haven for rock climbers, hikers and lovers of nature.
Those who’ve driven down the Baja peninsula will understand what I mean when I
say that the park is very similar to Catavina but for those of you who haven’t
picture gianormous rocks stacked up like Bedrock
City and Dr.Seuss-like trees as far
as the eye can see. Liz drove us up to an incredible viewpoint where we looked
out over Palm Springs, the San Andreas fault and the Salton Sea – she says on a
good day you can see all the way to Baja (hey, Liz, we’re waving right now, can
you see us? Hello!).
I could go on and on about how much we loved 29 Palms, the
lovely and historic Roughly Manor, the desert glass that turns purple in the
sun, etc., but the real reason, the most important reason we traveled out to
the middle of the desert was to see our friend Liz. Many of you know her
already, those who do not would love her, I’m certain of that. It has been less
than a year since she lost her beloved husband (and our very great friend)
Dave. I can’t imagine how painful these last nine months have been for her
(thankfully she has two very troublemaking dogs, which require constant
attention, to keep her busy!) As much as we loved the sightseeing, we would
have traveled twice as far just to finally give her a hug and tell her how very
sorry we are. Even though it was our first visit, I expected to feel a sense of
emptiness without Dave there but, oddly, I felt very much like Dave was there – especially while watching a
stunning desert sunrise with Liz, a display of colours and light that puts any
painting to shame. Liz – thank you and we love you.
From there the trip takes another crazy turn. The Prez
decided he wanted to try his hand at a real Vegas Texas Hold ‘Em Poker
tournament, so we pointed the wagon north and headed across the Mojave
Desert to the city of sin. Prez wins the find of the trip thus far
for spotting (I have no idea how he did it) a tarantula crossing the highway.
Luckily the highway is pretty darn quiet and so we were able to U-turn and go
back for photos (yes, the camera is always ready).
Let me just pause to state that Las Vegas
is not a pet friendly city. Honestly, my cat makes less of a mess than most
children I know! Thank you Super 8 Motel.
We hit the strip for a Texas Hold ‘Em Junket armed with a
schedule of tournaments at various casinos. First up was the Mandalay
Bay; Prez made it to the final
table! Next, Circus Circus (ugh I hate that casino) which had a crappy game but
I scored several stuffed animals on the midway so it was worth it. Final
tourney for the evening was at the oh-so-smokey Sahara.
Here the Prez suggested that maybe I should enter instead of just hanging
around waiting for him, and so I did, a little nervously, making it almost to
the final table! Early the next morning we headed to the Flamingo where yours
truly out-played, out-witted and outlasted twenty-seven other players for third
place and $280.00 cash!! I’d like to tell you it got better from there but it
really didn’t and we decided to hit the highway the next day…after one or two
December 23rd was spent in a fog – literally. The California
coast was socked in with fog and our night camping in the Carlsbad
State Park was warm but damp.
Xmas eve morning we rose early and made a run for the
border. Our crossing was easy. No, let me say that again…our crossing was easy.
Our crossing has never, ever, ever been easy. It was almost creepy. It is nice
to see that Tijuana is still just
as quaint and charming as ever (uh huh). The Prez struck gold in El Rosario,
the type of gold that has a fuse and explodes. He was grinning so wide at the
sight of all those fireworks that I thought his lower jaw was going to break
off (yes, Prez, there really is a
Santa Claus!). We have one particular piece of explosive that is so huge I plan
to be at least a mile away when it is set off.
Our original plan was to camp out along the Pacific coast
but the fog was so thick everywhere we looked, we decided to head inland to the
winery area of Santo Tomas. There is a really cute little RV park called El
Palomar that we have always wanted to stop at…and so we did…and had the entire
place to ourselves! Nestled in an olive grove, we spent a cozy Xmas Eve beside
a mesquite fire eating tuna and bean tacos.
Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad! Who knew that Xmas day is
the absolute best day to drive through Baja? Everyone is sleeping off the
previous evening’s fiesta (believe me, we heard the locals fiesta-ing until
four or five am!) and so Mex 1 is quiet, quiet, quiet. After some discussion,
we decided to shoot for Bahia de Los
Angeles on the Sea
of Cortez side. The road has
recently been paved and so, as long as we had enough gas, it looked doable.
Gas. Gas is always a factor in Baja where stations are known to just shut down
leaving you staring desperately at your gas gauge, willing it to stay above E
until your reach the next station. We passed several functioning Pemex’s but
decided to wait and fill in Catavina as it would be the last station before the
Bay of L.A.
turn off. Of course the Catavina station was closed – thank goodness for
roadside petrol entrepreneurs! (Turns out the Bay
of L.A. has a functioning station
now, but that could
have easily been
Well folks, we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful spot to
spend Xmas. The Bay is surrounded by islands, the weather has been hot and
calm, and Emily is thrilled to be back in the world’s largest litter pan.
I should take a quick moment to say that Emily was
definitely the happiest of all of us as she has been confined to guest rooms,
motel rooms and the truck since we left. She spent the evening hunting mice and
found a cave to hide in all day. She is a very Mexican cat.
Today is Boxing Day and we did all the traditional Boxing
Day things – fishing, digging for clams, eating chips and salsa while drinking
Dos XXX beer. Prez found a beached squid of all things today and he rescued it.
Then we looked down the beach and saw several dead squid, but you know, the way
I see it is, if we can save just one
squid then it’s all worth it (?!). Tomorrow we are making the final leg of the
journey to Posada, Mulege, and dinner at Mom’s (oh, by the way Ruth-Ann, we’ll
be there for dinner tomorrow, although, technically, it is “today” as I will be
sending this tomorrow which will then be today). Anyway, if your bum is half as
sore as mine right now then you’re probably hoping I’ll wrap up pretty darn
soon…and so I will.
Happy Holidays everyone and until next week, and next year,
I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!