Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm finally entering stuff into the blog. Lela set it up for me 6 weeks ago but I'm a slacker and am just now getting to it. Look for stuff intermittently.

Kino Bay 2008

Kino Bay, March 2008.

Adventure to Kino Bay, Sonora, Mexico. (Bahia Kino, Mayheeco) Brandon Henderson, Aaron Brewster, Mary Lynne, Lela, Linda and I, otherwise known as the Flagstaff Six (F6), left Flagstaff on Friday the 14 of March. The adventure started earlier than we thought it would. It should have been an uneventful beginning. We were to pick up Mary Lynne’s car from a shop in Phoenix where an engine was being installed. We picked it up and the four youngest of the group set out to see their friend Erika. They got about ¼ of a block away at a stop light at which point the ride died. Oh, it ran well enough, as it should have with the new engine. But all it would do is run; it wouldn’t move. Transmission was dead. We pushed it back to the shop where a transmission is being installed. The shop owners said it would be ready by the time we returned from Kino. Good thing it was before we left for Kino so I haven’t spent all the money! Linda and I dropped the kids off at Erika’s house where they spent the night. We went to Mom’s in Apache Junction.

Saturday morning Erika brought the group all the way out to AJ where we loaded up, slid Mom into the van and headed south. We left early so as to be in Oro Valley by 8 a.m. Yes I said 8 a.m. That means we left AJ by 6 a.m. Why in the heck would we need to be in Oro Valley by 8? If Stan is involved then wheels must be involved also. And indeed wheels are involved. Only two though. Motorcycle parts.

Yup, the disease has returned. Motorcycles are like arthritis. Once you’ve got it, it stays with you. Sometimes dormant but when it flares up you gotta deal with it. A friend gave me a 1980 Honda CB900. The thing is in pretty good shape but has been sitting for a bit. Some parts have seized up kinda like me when I’ve been sitting for awhile. Hard to get moving until some massaging is done. The massaging needing done is to items like brake calipers and master cylinders. The parts I got in Oro Valley include those parts plus others. Ellyn Davis came over with her van to meet us and pick up the parts. She’ll store them until we go back through Tucson on our way home.

The F6+1 met Holley, Wally, Sarah and Sarah’s friend Maggie, in Tucson where they joined us for the rest of the adventure. We wandered off in search of Mexico and beaches. Mostly beaches. And rest and relaxation for me. The gang is excited about the beaches but I’m not allowed out on the sand in a bathing suit. There are 37 states and 13 countries where it’s against the law for me to be seen in a suit. Unfortunately Mexico is one of those countries. In fact I think Mexico was the country that started the whole reciprocity thing when they saw me on the beaches of Rocky Point some 25 years ago. This NAFTA free trade thing has its drawbacks. Well, maybe it isn’t a drawback from the perspective of those who would have to be blinded by the white legs.

We headed south, thinking that would be the easiest way to find sand. We were right. After 41 hours, $3,671.00 in tolls, 434 checkpoints, and one bathroom stop we arrived in Kino. There was grumbling about the cleanliness of the facilities at the bathroom. I say you haven’t learned about bathroom quality until you’ve seen the hole, literally a hole, which serves as the toilet at the train station in Turin, Italy. No complaints from my perspective. A minor wait at Gray and Debra Jan’s, the property managers, got us the keys to a wonderful set of bungalows. One main house and two smaller houses. The main house is serving as our meeting point but when folk want privacy they can wander off to their respective areas.

Sunday. Today is a bit windy and cool but that hasn’t stopped the shopping and eating. For some the shopping is important but for me, it’s mostly the eating. Too much of everything. I didn’t have breakfast so that was my excuse to eat a loaf of Linda’s bread, fresh from the oven and an entire can of refries into which I put some chopped onion and some salsa casera. Great stuff. I’m not going to mention the M&M peanuts, Little Debbie snacks and myriad of other things. Hunger isn’t going to be a problem. As I write this, Wally has shrimp on the barbie which are a prelude to the enchilada casserole and fruit salad which Linda and Holly are preparing.

Monday. Cool again today. Nice day though. Most of us are sitting around eating and playing cards. Wally, Mom, Lela and I went to Hermosillo this afternoon. Wandered right to the Wal-Mart. Fate. Interesting to see the same general store layout but everything in Spanish. Mostly everything that you would find in a Stateside Wal-Mart but some different things. Right next to the office supplies was a section with tires. Not a great selection but still tires right in with the books and pens. The loudspeaker kept blaring announcements. Specials, lost children and asking for a manager. All in Espanol, of course, but that’s ok because they played it LOUD so the Americans could understand it. After we spent all the money we could in Wal-Mart we went next door to get some genuine authentic Mexican food at McDonalds. We ordered Mexican soft drinks and Mexican French fries y un hamburguesa. While we were waiting, the Mission Mormonaries walked in. Lela bought them dinner. Nice thing to do for guys away from home. Early to bed tonight. Not because we have a big day tomorrow, I’m just lazy.

Tuesday. Back home from a big adventure. Not a planned adventure, but an adventure none the less. We woke to a plugged drain in the shower. We called Gray the property manager. He said he would be right down. He came and warned us of the impending arrival of a pumper truck. Not a water pumper truck but a truck that pumps stuff that smells worse than water. We decided that an adventure to Old Kino was in order. We didn’t want to be around when the pumper truck was around. The whole group of us got into both cars and went to Kino Viejo. We did a little shopping but mostly looking and wandering the beach. After finding the store that has the great fruit popsicles we decided to go waaaaay over on the point to look for more shells. Mom and I remembered a restaurant and pier where we could find lots of shells.

We drove for what seemed like miles and miles on a great Mexican highway. Well, it was really a horrible dirt road but pretty good by certain standards. We found the beach but not the restaurant. Instead, there was this neat little stand where fish tacos were the advertised specialty. There was nothing else around, just beach and taco stand. I mean NOTHING else around. No houses, Pemex stations, phone booths, nothing! That wouldn’t have been a problem but….. The group of us set off down the beach in different directions. We were finding lots of great shells and really enjoying the search. After a bit Lela found Linda and got the keys to the van so that she could get in out of the breeze. (Gotta toughen that girl up; she’s always cold.) A little later Sarah and Maggie decided that they were cold and talked Lela and Aaron into taking them back to the bungalow. No problem, the four of them took the Rande’s car and left. Ooops, no problem he says? Wrong.

Linda and I were walking the beach, finding some swell shells. As I bent down to pick up a shell Linda says “Oh no.” I thought maybe I had split my pants or something. But no, it was worse than that. Linda continued: “I wonder if Lela left the keys in the van.” Well, we left the rest of the shells on the beach and hustled back to the van to search furiously for the keys. No luck. Lela had left with them in her pocket. We began to ponder our options. As we pondered, I wondered if I couldn’t take the steering column apart to bypass the column lock. Brandon helped me and we took enough apart to realize that yes, I could bypass the lock and make the car crank. Cranking is a good thing. Starting is even better. However, the car won’t start if you don’t have the electronic key. Good to know that it is hard for a thief, but we really needed that car to start.

As we were deciding that bypassing the lock wouldn’t work, low and behold a knight on a silver steed came riding up. Ok, it was a tourist from Agua Prieta driving a silver Honda SUV. After some difficult explanations from Linda to the knight who didn’t speak English any better than she speaks Spanish, it was understood that we needed a ride to go get our keys. The gentleman graciously agreed to take Linda the long distance to Kino Nuevo to retrieve them. As they were going down the road, they spied Lela and Aaron returning. Seems that Lela had gotten all the way back to the bungalow before discovering the faux paux. She and Aaron jumped back into the car and quickly returned. All anxiety vanished as we started the van and began the journey home. Of course on the way home we had to stop several times to go through the garbage dumps to check for shells. Actually it was quite interesting; there were three places along the dirt road where there were lots of conch and clam shells just dumped. There were some really pretty ones, and certainly bigger than the ones we had found on the beach. We gathered some and then headed for Old Kino and the bakery shop. Great bread and pastries. Now the youngest of the group are making dinner. BTW, the shower drain is working. I don’t smell any residual from the pumper.

Wednesday. Awakened early this morning by the staccato sound of rapid fire Spanish. Two Mexican men were outside the gate of the neighboring house having a friendly but loud conversation. Why they needed to do so at 4:30 a.m. I’ll forever question. I mean come on, it’s dark and unless you’re going fishing there’s no reason to be awake at that hour when you’re on vacation.

Nothing eventful today except for the huge water leak in the bathroom which we thought was fixed yesterday but was even worse today. We sopped up water and called the property managers, who called Roberto, the handy man. A couple of hours later, Gray, the property manager came by to see how the plumbing had turned out. We told him Roberto hadn’t been here yet so he set off in search of the missing hombre. A couple of hours later, Gray, the property manager came by to see how the plumbing had turned out. We told him Roberto hadn’t been here yet…. and you know the rest. Eventually Roberto did show up and fix the leak. Then Gray, the property manager came by. This time we could report that all was well.

One of the things listed on the website of available things to do was renting jet skis and quads. Wally and I set off in search of the office listed on the site. It turned out to be just a door or two down from Gray and Debra Jan’s. The gate was unlocked so we opened it and went inside. I glanced over to the side and saw a large rope and a large water dish for what I assumed was an even larger dog. I let Wally lead as we wandered the compound. I neglected to mention the rope and water dish to him. No reason for both of us to have fear and trepidation. We knocked on the office door which was locked. I kept glancing around for the dog to come bounding around the corner or from out behind one of the myriad of vehicles in various states of repair. No people answered the knock and no dog came bounding. The former was bad but the latter was good.

As we were leaving the compound some large Dodge trucks pulled up. The occupants said to wait, that “they” were coming. Wally, being the trusting type, decided to wait. I’m thinking “they” were probably the Federales coming to arrest us for being in the compound when we shouldn’t have been. Again I neglected to mention this to Wally as I didn’t want him to have to think what he would tell Holly from the phone in the jail. Turned out “they” were the owners of the place and they were only a couple of minutes behind the folk in the Dodge.

Upon inquiring about our business in their compound, they informed us that they no longer rented jet skis or quads. It seems that the local Capitan wants to change the nature of the beach area by designating only certain areas for jet skis, other areas for swimming and other areas for other things. Due to that, jet ski rental was taken off of the list of allowed businesses. I never did figure why quads weren’t allowed. Liability maybe.

For dinner we decided to try the taco stand just two doors down from our bungalow. Gray the property manager had recommended it to us. We went down to a place between the buildings where it was just sand and dirt. In the middle was a tarp covered area with several plastic tables and a cart with a propane fired hot pan. The proprietors are a man in his fifties and his younger looking wife. We ordered tacos all around. The guy took one look at the male members of the group and asked how many for each of us. Two was the general consensus. He set to work making tacos. He has what appears to be pork of some iteration skewered between two pineapple ends. He makes small slices, cutting small portions from the pork and then puts it on the hot pan. In just a short time the pork is hot and he has warmed fresh corn tortillas. His wife has put out several types of condiments and things to put in the tacos. Cucumber was my favorite. We had a great time talking to him. We told him how good the tacos were and he made a big deal of telling us they were the best in all Mexico. In Spanish of course, but we got the joke and we all had a great laugh. They really were good and Brandon, Wally and Aaron thought maybe they should have had at least one more. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday. Last full day here in Kino. We leave early tomorrow morning for home. We need to be in Phoenix in time to pick up Mary Lynne’s car from the shop. Didn’t we go through this already? I hope it’s done this time. Plus we need to stop in Tucson to pick up the cycle parts. It has been a great time here in Kino. Today was a laid back day. We made one jaunt over to Old Kino to do some final shopping but we didn’t spend much time there. We stopped at the market to get me a pineapple fruit popsicle but they were out. Instead Lela bought forty pieces of a particular type of candy she wants to share with some friends. She started out by asking for twenty, then thirty and ended up with forty. They just sold her an entire box.

This afternoon a boat went by dragging a banana behind it. Well, it was a large inflated thing that looked like a banana. It even had Chiquita on it. Linda talked most of the group into riding it with her. Holley, Mom and I were the only sane ones. The boat pulls the banana along at a pretty good clip so they got quite a ride. They came back smiling so I guess it was good. I prefer to stay dry. Unless I’m naked, and the laws against that are even stricter than the bathing suit laws. Not something that most even want to think about.

The afore mentioned taco stand was called upon to provide afternoon snacks but we spent the evening and early night time trying to furiously consume much of the too much food we had brought with us. We were unsuccessful in our endeavors so we will take much of what is left to Mom’s friend, Carmen. Carmen is the lady who used to run the Caluma bungalows where Mom had stayed on several occasions. On Monday Mom tracked Carmen down and they had a great time catching up on old times. Wednesday, Carmen and her daughter came down, spent quite a bit of time with Mom and left us with really good tortillas.

Friday. I put shoes on for the first time since last Saturday. Seems really odd. Plus the fact that for some reason my legs are longer now and it’s harder to reach my feet with my socks. I’ll have Linda check the cause of that phenomenon in one of her medical books. Maybe there’s a cure.

We didn’t sleep all that well last night. Seems that Easter weekend is a big doings in Kino Bay and the place filled up with lots of Mexicans. The Mexican people are a very generous people. They will share money, food and many other things. If only one person can afford a stereo it’s not a problem because that person will play their stereo at full volume so that everyone can share. And if you have several affluent Mexicans then you have several stereos at full volume. And if you have lots of affluent Mexicans, you have lots of stereos at full volume. Like I said; a very generous people. It would be nice though, if they would not share past 10 p.m. It was after midnight before the folk next door shut it down to a volume which allowed sleep. Ah, but then somewhere around 3:30 a.m. the neighbor on the other side of us decided to serenade us with some song that I didn’t recognize. I think he was saying something about momma, trains and being in prison. Oh wait, that’s a Johnny Paycheck song. Well whatever he was singing about was at full volume, just like the stereos. Again, a generous people.

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. Time to finish packing and head for the border and Taco Bell. Actually Taco Bell will be hard to take after the great food we’ve had the last few days. I think my favorite was the refried beans Carmen brought us. How the heck does she build them? Oops, this isn’t supposed to be about food. I was going to write about the trip back to AJ. The two cars full of folk left Kino a little after 6 a.m. I decided that I would drive half way home and give Linda a break. I figured Hermosillo would be about half way. Actually, by the time we got to Hermosillo my knee had decided to scream at me. We stopped at Mexican Mac’s for a quick break and to let Linda drive the other half way home. Once again I had an occasion to be proud of my girls. This time it was because they weren’t the Ugly American types which we saw there. They realized that they were the visitors in the country and asked for help instead of demanding it. Lela showed patience with the people behind the counter who in turn granted her patience. All was accomplished with no anger and a few laughs. I really like my kids.

The rest of the trip to the border was relatively uneventful. We stopped once to look at the beautiful copper pots being displayed by the side of the road. Mom ended up buying a nice one to put in the treasure for tomorrow’s hunt. We got to Nogales ready to spend at least an hour and probably more waiting in the customs line. We sailed through in around a half an hour. Not bad at all. I’m glad we left Friday and not Saturday or Sunday. I understand it can be absolutely horrible on those days. Sometimes three hours or more.

The cell phone service into the States started before we actually crossed the border. As soon as service was available cell phones started flying. Lela, Aaron, Brandon and Mary Lynne started making and receiving calls furiously. I waited until we were several miles across before I started making my calls. Gotta show some decorum you know.

We drove to Tucson and picked up the motorcycle parts from Ellyn. Howard was there. It was good to see him. I hope he appreciates that I appreciate the bike. Yes, it will cost us some money but I think the fun factor and the diminished fuel costs will be worth it. Especially the fun factor. I’m at the stage in my life where I’m thinking about the years I have left and I want them to be enjoyable. Cycles and droptops will help with that.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. My phone calls were unsuccessful though. The place where we left Mary Lynne’s car doesn’t have it ready, Northland Motorsports hasn’t worked on the Honda and Luke doesn’t have my Lincoln fixed yet. Maybe it was a mistake to let folk know I would be out of town for a week. I thought it would give them plenty of time to get stuff done. Instead it seems to have given them time to put stuff off. Oh well, can’t accomplish anything by being angry about it. We will cope.

All in all a great trip. We all had fun in various ways and at various times. Not everybody all the time but each of us in our own way and in our own time. The only real disappointments were that we didn’t get to rent the watercraft and Wally didn’t get to go fishing. We can do the jet skis over on the Colorado River and Wally and I will go to San Diego to go fishing. It’ll all work out. Thanks to Linda for putting it together for us and thanks to all for being pleasant.

As a side note and relating to each of us having fun in our own way: On Thursday night after all of us had gone to bed, Sarah and Maggie decided that they would go out on the town. Maybe they were just going to ask the partiers to lessen the volume of the music. They went out the front gate where Lela saw them. Unbeknownst to the party girls she and Aaron were on their way out to lock the front gate because we had most of our stuff loaded in the cars and the trailer. Lela innocently enough went and asked Holly if she knew how long the girls would be out so that she could lock the gate when they returned. Not only did Holly not know when they would return, she didn’t know they had left. Uh oh, stuff hit the fan. Holly asked Mary Lynne to lock the door to the room she shared with the girls so that they would have to knock in order to get back in. When they did knock Holly heard them. I’ll let the reader conjecture what transpired from there. When you’re sixteen and seventeen you are invincible. At least I was. Even though there was great potential for harm, no one got hurt and I think there was potential for a lesson being learned.