Baja California coming to an end!

February 2nd – A short ride got us back to the main road in Baja California – Route 1. We made it to Catavina and stopped at Rancho Santa Inez for one night of dry camping. There is a big wash along side the ranch and Lorne was very nice to let me use his quad. I had a blast.

February 3rd – We are camping in a very nice scenic spot called Lazaro Cardenas. It was a very busy place but fun. It is on the coast and there was this cool wreck.

February 4th – This is our last day in Mexico. And we spent it in the wine region of Baja. We dropped off all the RVs at Rancho Sordo Mudo, a campground run by a school for deaf children. Then we went to LA Cetto Vineyards for a tour and wine tasting.

February 5th – We started early to get to Tecate and cross the border before the lines got too long. It was one of the rare rainy days of the trip but we had a rainbow once we crossed into the US… so not bad.

Josie and Lorne were wonderful wagon masters and did everthing they could to make this trip enjoyable. It was our first time camping in Mexico and our first time in a caravan. We had a great experience.

October Challenge to myself

October 7 prompt is “Fancy” and what is fancier than a champagne toast?

October 8 prompt got me stumped! I could not figure out what to draw representing the word “Teeth”. Meanwhile, I received my order of watercolor pencils and really, really, wanted to try them. So, here they are! Much more fun than drawing teeth, or dentures, or dentist…

October 9 is “Throw”. Throw pillows are great to draw but I don’t have that many around the house.

October 10 is “Hope”. Sunrise always bring hope of a new and better day.

October 11 – Disgusting. Pickup after your dog. Put the bag in the trash. NOT under a tree or a bush, that’s even more disgusting!

Baja California Caravan- Part 3

January 23 – We made it to our turnaround point – i.e. Los Barriles. We are staying in this little town on the Sea of Cortez for 3 nights. Josie took us in a tour of the town with the “best” spots for food and shopping.

Bill and I decided to go to explore and took Route 1 to San Jose Del Cabo. We made a quick stop at the Tropic of Cancer.

San Jose del Cabo is a pretty big town with a beautiful center, including city hall, shops and a cathedral.

We stopped in Baja Brewing Co before heading to Los Barriles on the coast road. What took us an hour and a half on Route 1 took 3 hours on the coastal dirt road but the views were worth it!

Day 2 of exploration was following Lorne’s suggestion: Santiago’s waterfall. We found it after driving on a dirt road for a while. When we asked for direction to the waterfall, the guard sent his dog to guide us. After a dip in the cold water of the falls, we found the hot springs. Bill got a free fish pedicure!

Cascada Sol Del Mayo, Santiago

January 26 – We drove back to La Paz for a couple of nights. We are now on the way back North. We took a day to visit Todos Santos, a small town on the Pacific Coast. We walked on Tortugueros Las Playitas, a beach that has a turtle nursery where they release hatchling through March. The waves were incredible! They were breaking in big rolls and we saw some sting rays riding the waves like underwater surfers. We looked in Hotel California before heading back to La Paz.

January 28 – We drove to Mulege and stayed at the Hotel Serenidad RV Park. It was a beautiful small hotel with rv sites. I recently learned that the airstrip next to the hotel was built by the owner to facilitate visits from Hollywood celebrities when the hotel first opened. After a little walk around the area, we enjoyed a couple of Margarita Grande and enjoyed the peaceful gardens of the hotel.

The hotel had this small chapel in the middle of the garden.

As a group, we went to visit Mission of Santa Rosalia de Mulege. It had an amazing view of the Mulege river.

January 30 – We had a one night stop in Guerrero Negro. This time, we stayed at Mario’s RV Park. Besides a restaurant specialized in scallops, there is nothing around. The ground of the RV sites is covered with broken shells and we found mounds of shells. We picked some up to use at home.

January 31 – Bahia de Los Angeles is a little beach town on the Sea of Cortez. We camped right on the beach again. Besides the beach, its claim to fame is an onyx chapel and a small museum that we visited.

October challenge to myself

Following the Inktober prompt:

Though I now live in Southern California, I still have a couple of winter coats. Each time I pull one out to go camping, I think they are so big and cumbersome. Perfect for today’s prompt: Bulky.

On our last cross-country trip, we stumbled upon VLA or Very Large Array in New Mexico. It is one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories.┬áIt consists of 27 antennas arranged in a huge Y pattern up to 36km (22 miles) across, in the desert of New Mexico. Today’s prompt is “radio”.

Opinel pocket knives were very popular when I was in the Girl scouts. We would play silly games with them, among other uses. I used my new brown ink for the first time. Today’s prompt is “blade”.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Speedy Gonzalez are all rodents from Disney’s cartoons. But I thought that this prairie dog keeping guard was more interesting. It also allowed me to play with my new pen and brown ink. Today’s prompt is “Rodent”.

Baja California Caravan – Part 2

January 12 – After a wonderful time on Guerrero Negro Lagoon, we drove to our next destination: San Ignacio. This is a date tree oasis in the middle of Baja and it has an old town square. We visited the church built in the late 1700’s. The church is still in use nowadays.

January 13 – Our next stop was one of my favorite: Playa Santispac. We stayed there for 2 nights and we camped right on the beach! Josie and Lorne, our wagon masters, pulled out their kayaks and let us use them. We had a great time going around the islands and checking out the pelicans and other wild life.

I tried fishing without success. A good thing that the fisherman and the baker came every day to sell their products to all the “gringos” camping at the beach. We got enough shrimp for 2 dinners.

Playa Santispac – Beach camping with beautiful views.

January 15 – After a relaxing time on the beach, we are moving on to Loreto. The trip had beautiful scenery and was uneventful until we got close to our campground. We hit a very nasty, very high curb! The trailer took it hard and the slam down bent the axle. Thank goodness, it did not flip on its side AND we were close to the campground! We were the last ones tin the campground and I swear; everyone in the place watched me maneuver the trailer in place! I gave them a good show as I backed in our site on a wobbly wheel on the first try. Very proud of myself! It helped that Bill and I are a good team in those situation. The campground owner called a mechanic. Within an hour, we agreed that we needed a new axle, the mechanic could make it and got the trailer on jacks. Bill and I went for a walk around town to release some tension.

Every town in Mexico have these colorful signs. In Loreto, it was on the Malecon.

Our mechanic came back with a built-from-scratch stronger axle for “The Professor”. After a quick test drive, all was good and we could continue our adventures with the caravan.

We relaxed, took care of grocery, laundry and other small stuff, including a walk along the harbor and the “malecon”.

January 18 – We spent a couple of night in La Paz and went to explore the town on our own.

Then we took a ride along the coast and ended up at Playa Balandra, which was amazing, and close to our next stop, Playa Tecolote. We dry camped on that beach for 2 days. Bill and I parked as close as we safely could to the water (my dream and request) while the caravan parked as a U nearby. In retrospect, maybe we should have parked with them.

I went for a walk along the beach and found some interesting shells.

January 21 – On our way South to Los Barilles, we stopped for lunch in El Triumpho for a walk along this former mining town. It has a nice little museum which we visited but the best part was a wonderful cafe/bakery with one of the best country breads I’ve ever had.

Baja California Caravan – Part 1

In 2019, we booked a 28-day RV caravan with Baja Amigos. With all the negative publicity about traveling in Mexico, we thought that going as a group would be a good option. The starting point and end point of the trip was at Tecate border crossing, so close to San Diego. We would travel 2,000 miles, down to Cabo San Lucas and back.

January 6th – We picked up the trailer from storage in the morning. After topping up the propane tank, we headed to Potrero Regional Park in Potrero, CA, our meeting point. It is conveniently located very close to the Tecate border crossing.

The campground is nestled in old oak trees grove with very spacious spots.

January 7th – We met our Wagon Masters Lorne and Josie and some members of our caravan. We went to get our Tourist Card at the border with Lorne, in preparation for our actual crossing the next morning.

January 8th – The adventure starts in earnest! Each member of the caravan was assigned a position that we would keep any time we were on the road. We were Number 4.

After crossing the border, we drove through the town of Tecate and hooked up with Route 1 to Ensenada. It is nice to be in the middle of the caravan – the rig in the back (for ever known as #6) was good at warning us about passing traffic and Josie let us know what was incoming. The first day was a relatively short drive and we made it to the campground by mid-afternoon. We all piled up in a public bus to the Bufadora where we had dinner.

We were handed radio #4, in the middle of the pack.

January 9th – That day was a longer drive with 210 kms through small towns, agricultural plains and hills. It was a beautiful scenery, much greener than I expected. We had some delay en route because of construction and a military checkpoint. We’ll go through a few of those during our trip. The guard wanted to know where we came from and where we were going, then wanted to check inside the trailer. He seemed curious about it. It helped that I babble a little Spanish. We followed Route 1 to San Quintin and our campground “El Pabellon” was right on the beach! After setting up, Bill and I went for a walk on the beach and met a group playing music and dancing. I joined them for a little while before heading back to our group for dinner.

January 10 – We left the green landscapes of northern Baja and drove through the desert to our next stop in Catavina. The scenery changed quickly from cacti and trees of the desert to a field of boulders as far as we could see. We camped at the Mission Hotel & RV Park. After setting up camp, we took a quick ride to the petroglyphs park nearby.

January 11th – Next stop was Guerrero Negro at Malarrimo RV Park and Hotel. This is a more developed campground and we did have all our hookups. We had some free time after setting up so we went to explore the little town. Guerrero Negro is on a lagoon with a large salt mine. There were a lot of ospreys all around town.

January 12th – We had booked a tour to go whale watching, from the hotel, which is what the town is known for in addition to salt production. We all boarded a little bus that took us on the salt mine property to the loading area. We then boarded small open boats and headed out to the lagoon. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! We spent 3 hours chasing any spouts we could see and there were a lot of them! On the way back, we stop by the huge salt barge and checked out the seals hanging out there. A great day!

October challenge to myself

There are many challenges out there. July is Watercolor month. October is Ink month. I have done the July challenge and this year, decided on the October challenge. The idea is to do a drawing a day for 31 days, using a word as inspiration. There are several lists out there.

So here is my sketchbook for Inktober 2020.

Oops! I realized after I was done that October has 31 days – easy fix.

October 1st: Fish

In Olympic National Park, we saw salmons swimming upstream through rapids to get to their spawning territory.

October 2nd: wisp

That got me stumped for a while until I remembered that candles have wisps of smoke. It didn’t read too well in black and white. So I added some colors with watercolor pencils.

These sketches are quick, about 5 to 10 minutes and are fun to do.

A day at the beach…

Last Thursday, we took Alex and Mary to the beach at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach. We brought our fishing rods and sand buckets and sand shovels.

As the tide was going out, they played in the tide pools, ran around the beach and built a sand castle with Grandad. Meanwhile, I did this little sketch. I started with a light outline in pencils, then quickly added watercolor.

I am happy with the way it turned out…

Shop and sketch challenge #2

I have always considered handbags to be a pain, particularly when I travel. One always has to be aware of what one does with it, where to put it, grab it whenever one gets in and out of a car, etc. I really did not like that! But no pockets are big enough for a sketchbook…., and brushes…. and a palette…, especially in women’s clothing! As I wanted to sketch on location more often, particularly during trips, I had to make some changes and decided to get handbag that would fit a sketchbook.

Finding the right one was hard. It had to be big enough but not too big. I wanted it to be easy to carry around, without slipping off my shoulder or getting me off balance. Oh! Did I mention I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it?

Finally, I found this wonderful leather backpack, small enough to use as a handbag, but big enough to hold my sketchbook and everything I need to paint while out and about, with enough room to have my camera, reading glasses, etc.

I’ve used it on our last trip and this bag holds a lot more than I expected. I don’t carry a wallet (too easy to be snatched by pickpockets). The bag has several inside zipped pockets that I use instead. I can fit a 8.5×5.5″ sketchbook, my 12 half-pan palette, 1 or 2 brushes, my camera, a water bottle, my camera, my phone, my reading glass and – if necessary – a small jacket. I got it at Marshalls for $25. PERFECT!