Tuesday, April 26, 2011

View through the Windows

Seven days is just way too long to spend in a car, even if you are very fond of your travelling companions.

We left Mazatlan bright and early on Saturday, April 16, and started the long trek once again. This was the 6th time we have made the drive and I'm going to be honest here, it doesn't get any easier! We have established routines and, like most of us, are creatures of habit. We stay at the same puppy friendly motels and regularly stop at the same grocery stores for our dinner provisions. We also often fill up at the same gas stations! That part has become routine; it's just the length of the trip that is so trying. It takes us 6 days to drive to Mazatlan and 7 return to Winnipeg. We take longer on the drive home, perhaps because we are so sad to leave the hot sunny days of Mexico for the much cooler Spring weather in Manitoba!

However, for all my whining and complaining, the drive was fairly uneventful and we had no problems along the way.

The weather was lovely when we left and the fields were filled with new crops.

The flowers at the Best Western in Navajoa were as lovely as ever, and once again, I couldn't resist pulling out the camera.

The scenery was not quite as interesting on the drive north from Navajoa to Nogales and the line up for the border crossing was a bit intimidating.

However, it only took 2 hours to clear and we were entertained during the wait by the dozens of vendors attempting to convince us to make one final purchase before leaving the country. We resisted, especially the cotton candy!

After Navajoa we headed to Albeguerque, more pictures along the way. It's amazing what you can manage through the front windshield of the car. Side windows, I have discovered, are next to impossible - I've deleted a lot of blurs since we've arrived home.

We did make a stop in Texas Canyon, which we refer to as "Boulder Alley". I love the rock formations, especially the one that I swear is a very large, fosilized Inguana.

Hatch, New Mexico is another favourite spot. I would love to buy a string of chilis to bring home, but somehow doubt I could get them across the border. Hatch has billed itself as the Chili Capital of the World and they do deserve the title as there are chilis for sale everywhere.

Things were starting to get a little dull ....

and Abi was apparently getting a little hungry.

We were running out of things to watch from the windows, other than the few other cars on the road so the wind turbines were a welcome addition to the landscape. We see hundreds of these on the drive and I love them.

By the end of day 4, we were anxious to arrive at the hotel in Belleville, Kansas, as the sky was getting very dark and blustery looking to the west, and we all know what happened to Dorothy and Toto.

Abi was happy to arrive as well, as she was obviously still craving dinner.

Kansas really is a pretty state, and it was a pleasure to see green trees again.

However, we were travelling north and as expected, the weather did change and get a bit nasty. Has anyone read the book, 'The Road', by Cormac McCarthy, or seen the movie? I was starting to relate. It was getting cooler, wetter and grayer, and we travelled for miles without seeing anything other than empty fields and so it was a relief to finally see a farm - something different!! No people, but at least it was a hint that there was still someone around. At this point there was some serious discussion regarding turning the car around and heading back south.

By the time we reached northern Nebraska it was colder, wetter, grayer. And then, we saw snow, which did not amuse us in the slightest. The plan was never to see snow, ever again. At least we didn't have to touch it. The change in direction was discussed in more depth.

And then the weather hit. It had poured rain for part of the afternoon as we drew closer to Watertown, South Dakota, our last stop, and we were dreading making the final day's drive with the windshield wipers going full tilt. Instead of rain we awoke to pea soup fog. The discussion re change in directions was becoming quite serious at this point.

It was slow going, but did make for an interesting ride. It's a good thing we've driven this route before, because if not I would have no idea what this part of South Dakota looks like!

After the fog cleared somewhere in North Dakota we were greeted with this not so lovely mess.

The floods through the Dakotas have been dreadful and the highway has been closed more than once. We were lucky and were able to make it across the border at Emerson into Manitoba before being detoured around the town of Morris. We have heard that the highway has since been closed again. I shouldn't use the word lucky here - the damage is devastating and Morris is completely marooned, as are many more towns and villages throughout the province.

However, after a slow drive, we finally arrived home, on Friday afternoon. It was cool and grey, but we were home! And, it was not raining.

The weather has improved somewhat since we arrived on Friday. The last few days have been bright and sunny, the temperature has been hovering near 20C (60F for you southerners!) and I've spotted a few signs of Spring.

As much as I dislike the endless hours spent in the car, and at times envy those who fly home and are here in 4 1/2 hours, the trip does give us time to readjust to our other lives. We have made plans for the summer months in Canada (Mike is on the golf course as I type this) and the time will go quickly. Before we know it, we'll be packing and getting organized once again.

In the meantime, I'm off to rediscover my other hometown, Winnipeg.

The Faces of Mazatlan

I've had queries from several people, asking why I rarely post pictures showing the faces of friends in Mazatlan.

I think it's sort of a privacy thing. I really don't like to have my picture taken and would find it particularly upsetting if what I perceived was an unflattering shot was posted for all to see! I do have some lovely images, but just don't feel comfortable about showing them.

That is also why I am at times somewhat vague about names.

However, because it was noted, I will share this charming shot, taken at La Rosa de las Barras on our last visit. We visited Gail Blackburn's wonderful beach compound in Barras de Piaxtla with a group of 16 for a 2 night visit shortly before we left Mazatlan but I, foolishly, left my bag, with the camera, on the kitchen table at the Casita. This was definitely not one of my brighter moves!! Everyone was very kind and sent me the pictures they took while we were there, but I've decided to just share one this time.

It was taken after the discussion regarding faces and names as I just couldn't resist.

Oh, and Gail said it perfectly ok if I mentioned her! Next time, I'll take her picture!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Watching the World Go By

Well, it happened again.

We are running out of days, so decided to make the most of a perfect one, and once again headed to Stone Island. It's still chilly at home, and we're trying to soak up some heat and sunshine before we leave. I knew that I recently missed the opportunity to get the 'perfect' panga photo and so I was prepared this time. I remembered the camera, even remembered to charge up the batteries. What I forgot to do was take a panga photo!

Perhaps it was because there were so many other images to capture.

The surf was pounding when we arrived and the tide was higher than we have seen it in months. It did make swimming a bit tricky and the yellow flag was finally raised around the noon hour, but to be honest, the ocean is still chilly and we didn't feel like spending a great amount of time in the water anyway. The waves were awe inspiring and the pounding sound of the surf was soothing background noise all day.

We were not the only ones on the beach lulled by the sound!

The vendors are struggling this year. We have spent so much time at Lety's we are now often recognised and although we are approached on a regular basis, we are never harrased. We usually try to make a point of purchasing something on each visit just to do our bit to 'support the local economy'. I will be honest here, I love beach vendors and left to my own devices would have us in the poor house in no time at all! They are so enterprising and they just have the most interesting merchandise. Of course, as we don't need a lot of 'stuff', we do need to be a bit dicriminating. The funny straw masks just have to stay on the beach, as do the bathing suit wraps. The masks I don't care for, and a woman only needs so many wraps! I try not to look too closely at the black cases, the ones filled with silver!!

We didn't buy anything, but I did have a necklace I purchased several weeks ago 'converted' into a bracelet - he remembered me, remembered the fact that he had altered the necklace to make it a bit shorter when I purchased it originally, and was more than happy to convert it yet again, changing it to a bracelet. I felt a bit guilty about not paying him but he said not to worry, he would use the leftover beads to make earrings and then sell them for more than the necklace cost!

It was a perfect kite flying day and obviously we were not the only ones who noticed, because just as we finishing our lunch, the beach was filled with dozens of school children, all with wonderfully inventive home made (perhaps 'school' made) kites. The sky was filled with kites, and, over the sound of the pounding surf, the air was filled with the sound of children's laughter.

I forgot to take a picture of a panga, but did it matter? Not a darned bit!

What could be better than a day at the beach, watching the world go by. Especially since it is such an interesting world.