Sunday, December 6, 2009

Memories of Mexico. Trip with the kids

She was sobbing.

"you cant make me do this"

I said, Oh my Dear, we certainly can. We are in Mexico and here the parents tell the children what to do. She relented as we strapped her in. We gave the signal and the boat took off with our oldest daughter in tow. Para sailing.

It began as an idea. A good one we thought, but that's what we get for thinking.

Keith and I loved Mexico so much that we wanted to share it with everyone, especially our daughters.

They were 11 and 14 at the time. A critical age, not so much crucial, but meaning they were very critical about everything.

We thought (here we go with the thinking again) that they would have more fun and make wonderful memories of a trip to Mexico if they both brought a friend along with them.

We chose Ixtapa, GRO as our destination. The Krystal Resort. Several pools, Oceanside, swim up bars...all the trappings of a National Lampoons "Vacation" movie.

The girls anguished over the choosing of the friends that would go. Our youngest invited a girl that she had known for most of her 11 years. Our oldest chose a recent friend and at the last minute the girl got into typical teenage trouble and her parents forbid her to travel. A new girl was chosen and a girl was close to the family. A nice quiet girl. A good fit.

Everything was going so well. Passports, vaccination, Report cards.

So, I should have been careful of the undertow.

Getting from Juneau, Alaska to Zihuatanejo Mexico takes 2 days. One from JNU to LAX, then from LAX to ZIH. So, We had to overnight in L.A.

We took at very expensive taxi ride into Beverly Hills to a nice Sushi Bar. Then to a Mall for shopping. Shopping does not happen in Juneau unless you consider outdoor wear as shopping.

Once back at the Hotel, we settled all 4 girls in for the night in our adjoining rooms. Only a few minutes passed before one of them were crying. Our youngest daughter could not find her back pack.

Tragedy struck and it set the tone for the rest of the trip. We think Kally left her back pack in one of the cabs. Why she took a back pack full of school books and 11 year old knickknacks is beyond me, but to her, she had just lost the Holy Grail.

Morning did arrive as scheduled and all went well at the airports. These Alaskan kids are well trained in travel. No roads lead to Juneau, so when we leave, we do it by air or sea. None of these kids however had ever stepped off a plane and into a hot humid environment.

Sunblock. To kids living in a temperate rain forest, you never ever want to block the sun. My constant job was monitoring their levels of protection. The oldest girls wanted that " Hawaiian Tropic" look and sunkissed hair highlights, so they were focused on maximum exposure. The younger girls were obsessed with water activities and the swim up hamburger bar. Keeping block on them was nearly impossible. All the kids were burned after the first day regardless of my best efforts.

I don't know when or why it happened, but Keith and I became the enemy. Our 2 girls were not talking to us and were in total defiance mode. The other 2 were angels. We took them to nice dinners, we let them shop at the tacky tourist markets. We took them out to feed the crocodiles, Jet skiing and snorkeling. They all got to drive the golf carts around Ixtapa. That brought a few smiles, but it was short lived.

Keith and Breehia had chicken for dinner one night. There is a saying that common crisis builds strong bonds. Well, the crisis was extreme diarrhea and only 1 bathroom. It did not build a strong bond, it just added more pain to the process. They both spent the next day in bed as well. We still had 5 days to go.

Our youngest was still getting burned, although I had here covered in one of her dads tee shirts and a hat, she was still burning. And she began retaining fluids and her face was swelling like a pumpkin. I took her too see the resort physician who was very sweet and brought out that lovely smile that she had secreted away since losing the back pack.

Kally had sun poisoning. He gave her some meds to shed to fluid and said she would be fine in a few days. We saw him again that night at the Resort Fiesta Night and he again was able to get her to smile.

The next night was her 12th birthday and we celebrated with an oceanside dinner in Zihuatanejo. A lovely sunset and a 3 piece band with guitars and a wooded xylophone played Happy Birthday and my favorite, Girl from Ipanema. We all had a great meal and a good experience. We loaded back into 2 cabs and headed back to Ixtapa. That's when the itching started. We were all covered in sand flea bites. Bactine swabs for everyone. Bites on top of sun burn is especially unforgettable.

I was new to this Step-Mom thing. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done about 100 things differently. I was expecting that the kids to enjoy a vacation the way we do. But having no experience in vacationing, how could they? I thought we were giving them this awesome precious gift and they would be grateful and gushing in love and laughter. We generally got sneers, rolling eyes and sassy back talk in return. Did I mention I would do things differently now.

If we had been more travelled in Mexico, there would have been over 100 places that we should have taken them rather than Ixtapa.

On the cab ride back to the airport, I asked the driver where he takes his family when they vacations.

Without any hesitation he said "Troncones".

Once again in L.A. for our overnight stay, I sought out a book store and scoured the travel section for any book that mentioned Troncones. Only one did in brief, and it wet my appetite for more information. But that would have to wait.

Note, the kids are all now adults and it is fascinating to talk to them about this trip. Our oldest chose Ixtapa as her first real grown-up trip with her then boyfriend, now husband. Our youngest has travelled all over the world.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The building of a wall.

I built a Prayer Wall in our back yard.

I have been thinking about it for some time and now that I am not working, I really wanted to get it done.

We had all of the stones on site just laying around in piles. I spent all yesterday morning carrying each one by hand to the area. Keith had to help me move the big foundation stones.

The wall helps me have a more fulfilling prayer life. As I am praying, I write down the prayer then fold up the paper and shove it in between the stones. I don't think for one minute that God needs to read these, as He already knows my prayers. I do this as an exercise of my Faith. Plus it looks kinda nice in the massive back yard. I might build on to it if I happen to be given access to more stone.

The first prayer note contained the names of those that I knew needed prayer.

The second one was a selfish prayer asking God to give us the wisdom and provision to make our move to Mexico. With an added request to super naturally improve my Spanish and to get us there sooner rather than later.

If you would like me to hand deliver a prayer for you to the wall, please just comment here or email me at:

I would love nothing more than to have to increase the size of the wall because I need more prayer space.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Viva Veterans Day! Ode to my Daddy

So, I wrote in an earlier post how I got a new Daddy. )

Well, besides being a very good father, he is very good at many things that I am proud about.

Today I just want to bring your attention to his service to the U.S. Air Force.

My Dad is a perfectionist. Not in a controlling bad way, he is perfect in all he does.

It does not surprise me that he was an awesome crew chief. He is so handsome in this photo. ( that is him shirtless, talking to the fighter pilot) I did not see this photo until last year when he posted it on Class Mates. After I commented on it, I received 2 framed copies along with his dog tags.

Immediate crocodile tears.

I had to hug him and rush out with the photos clutched to my chest. Tears now.

I don't suppose many girls get the honor of praising their Vietnam Daddy's. Most of the Vietnam Vet Daddy's are either dead or worse.

I consider myself Blessed to have this Daddy, let alone one that I can be so proud of.

For this any many other reasons.

Happy Veteran's Day Daddy. I love you sooo much!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's been a while

I wish I could tell you something interesting as to why I have been in a Blog drought, but I am not that interesting of a person.
Since my last post in September, I have began my unemployment status and have enjoyed the 2 weeks with our youngest daughter in a quest to find a new truck suitable for her puppy and take it back to Juneau, AK.

I have also acquired a new Panasonic Lumix Z51 camera. It's a love hate relationship. She is way smarter than I am patient, so I just leave her in the bag for days hoping she will learn her lesson and just take a stupid photo without making me think about all the settings. Oh, don't get me started on her hooity tooity software that would make any FBI or CIA photoshop software look like child's play. Needless to say, I have been humbled by this small devise.

OK, so I also wanted to tell you all that Keith and I have started a new 12 step program. Well, not really it is only a 1 step program. We are no longer purchasing anything that we wont be willing to move to Mexico. I have started giving stuff away as well.

I was able to choose a few items from an award program and along with a propane patio heater (that will be great in Mexico on the cooler winter nights) I also chose a toaster that poaches eggs. Am I a total freak for loving this thing or what? I do love it. So simple and actually does something for me. Not like this stinking camera...

Here are some photos from our short trip in SE Arizona, my magical toaster and last nights sunset from our back yard.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flag Waving.

I have misplaced my Mexican flag. I am sure I have flown it in Arizona, but maybe not. I bought it years ago in Mexico and it hung in our garage in Juneau. I am sure that is not proper flag etiquette, but it was meant more as a reminder to me than an allegiance to the Nation. I would not be offended if I spotted Ol' Glory in a Mexican garage, as long as it was in good shape and being treated honorably.

There is a flag store that is kinda on my way home today. I have email the Flagman, and he has several sizes of Mexican Flags, so I will go and get another flag.

I look up the Mexican Flag on

Here is the National Anthem. Is it me, or does the music, not the language or lyrics sound Russian.

There is some very interesting information on there. The Oath to the Flag and the Salute to the Flag are lovely pieces of poetry.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blame my Orange Aura.

So, as boredom seemed to encroach and eat away at my brain like a game of Ms. Pacman. I took one of those Facebook quizzes. In part here is what it had to say about my "Orange Aura".

"Orange personalities are the creative adventurers in the color spectrum. They have an inner urge to be creative, active and enjoy life to its fullest. They enjoy the challenge and excitement of forming and shaping physical reality. Orange personalities love to imagine and plan strategies for their next adventure or project and then put those plans into action. They are always busy building, organizing and shaping their projects and physical reality. An Orange personality's motivation in life is based on how much pleasure and satisfaction they get out of their own adventures, challenges and creative projects. They want to be adventurous, creative and live out their own ideas."

So given the above scientific and proven results, it stands to reason that Keith and I can spend hours pouring over Websites that have only to do with Mexico.

I just started keeping track of the books I check out of the library. Since March 2009 I have read 24 books. All on Mexico. As my reading schedule usually does not vary much, I can use simple math and figure that over the last 10-12 years, I have probably read somewhere around 480 + - books all concerning Mexico in one way or another.

This does not make me an expert.
It does however make me a weirdo.
I almost feel that I need to hide this from people. Like I am some sort of a stalker.

Fortunately I have stopped buying books. I hate to think what I have spent on books and acrylic nails. At least the books provided some sort of education. The nails just costs money and I never learned one word of Vietnamese.

We have a huge map of Mexico. It is so large, the only place it fits is in our Laundry room. I have had some people give me that look as if to say "what the heck? Mexico in the utility room, she has truly lost it"

Keith can locate me there often. If I find an unfamiliar named town on a website and I cannot find it in my Guia Roji Travel Atlas, then I scurry off the the laundry room and start searching with a magnifying glass. I usually start prattling away to myself and the cats just gaze up to me in worry.

I have marked up the map with yellow highlighter all the roads we have travelled by car or bus.
We only have the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas to go and we have travelled the entire Pacific Coast.

So, writing this blog on Mexico, reading books on Mexico, constant lurking on websites on Mexico and actual travelling in Mexico are all the fault of my Orange Aura.
It's not just a phase I am going through.
Much to my parents discomfort.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Latitudes and altitudes

I am back home in Juneau this week.

Although we reside in Arizona, we consider Alaska and Mexico to be home. The 2 are not that much different from each other. Really.

Maybe that is why I am so comfortable with Mexico. I already know how to deal with lack and abundance.

Both places have an abundance of tourist and natural beauty. Both lack faith in the Government. When Alaskans want/need something done, we do it ourselves. Usually Government comes in at the last minute and claims the credit for itself.

It's the rainy season here as well as Mexico. Actually it is the rainy season in Juneau all parts of the year. When it's not snowing. There is still snow on the Mountains, I can see some from this couch I am on. Some one call Vice President Gore and ask him about the warming thing.

Well, today I am going to go down to the cruise ship dock and sell tours along side my youngest daughter. It is aways fun to talk to the tourist. Most consider to Alaska to be a once and a lifetime adventure and their wide eyed expressions are priceless. Along with the comments like; " WOW, how beautiful, what is the altitude here?" umm, you are on a dock, just off a ship that is in the ocean...

It reminds me of listening to tourist on our way to Mexico. I have actually heard people say that they would love Mexico more if it wasn't so filled with Mexicans.

Obviously, Jimmy Buffet missed the point when he sang about changes in latitude, changes in attitudes. The attitudes of most tourist change not regardless of the latitude or altitude.

A pity.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My second time in Mexico, Part 3 of 3

The underwater scream was terrifying. It could have only been Keith; we were the only ones in the bay that early morning.

I came to the surface and looked back. Swimming towards me, he splits the snorkel out and shouts for me to swim to shore.

I didn’t question him, I swam. Fast. With swim fins, you can really move when you need too.

Something had taken a silver dollar size bite out of his lower back. Near his hip pocket. The pocket contained a soggy packet of crackers. Keith was trailing food like a human chum bucket. Snorkeling adventure over. Keith was fine and taking a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail says…”it’s just a flesh wound”

I don’t know how we found this beach to start with; it was not on the beaten path. In fact there was no path at all. We parked the car in the desert and bushwhack our way down the steep incline. We didn’t take any provisions like water or food. We had thought there would be palapa bars and restaurants.

Hiking down also means a struggle up. I have a friend who calls flip flops “Go-aheads” because you cannot go backwards in them. You cannot go up a sandy hill with them either.

The sand was blistering hot. The flip flops provided no protection or traction. I was better off putting them on my hands. So that’s what I did. I have never been so hot, tired, dirty, salty, thirsty and hungry in all my life. I just wanted to get back to the car and away from “Biting Fish Bay”

Like refugees fleeing a war zone, we stopped at the first place we find. It was approaching noon. The small hotel/restaurant was out in the middle of nowhere. It was quiet and had a cool breeze coming off the water.

No Boom Boom music. No whistling activities directors yelling “Beach Bally Ball”. No waiters with stiff white outfits. No swim up bar. No margarita machine.

It was perfect. It probably has long since been torn down and replaced by something cheesy and American.

It was there that we fell in love. With Mexico. All that she is and all that she isn’t. Sounds similar to the deal that Keith is in for with me.

So much had taken place on this 7 day trip and little had anything to do with observing the culture, or enjoying the slow pace that Mexico can offer. It’s Cabo for crying out loud! How does one fall in love with Mexico based upon Cabo? It would be like falling in love with America having spent a few days in Disney Land.

When the ratty van took us the back to the airport, I was much more aware of my surroundings than I had been on the trip in.

Tire repair shops everywhere. Why is there such a need for that?

Grilled chicken joints, Farmicia’s and Muffler shops. It was all so jumbled up.

I was drawn into the lovely disorder of it all. It makes my life seem more organized and balanced.

I considered not getting on the flight. After all, I was legally single; I had some money that had just been freed up from the divorce. I could quit my job, send for my cat, kayak and Bronco II and live in Mexico. Plus it was my birthday the next day and what a better way to prove that you have lost you mind than to spontaneously move to Mexico?

The airport chair was fiberglass, orange and as comfortable as a church pew, but I preferred it to the First Class seat awaiting my boarding.

Alaska Airlines was getting ready to shut the door. I was getting ready to shut one as well.

If table dance night hadn’t screwed things up enough, this should do it for sure.

Through snotty sobbing and primitive sign language I was able to communicate to Keith the many fears I had concerning our future together and the overwhelming desire to stay in Mexico. I wanted him stay here with me, but how would that be possible? He had 2 little girls in Alaska. Jeez, that adds to my paralysis… I am soon to be a step Mom.

He hugged me tight and made promises about our future including Mexico. He told me that we would return soon and that if I still wanted to live in Mexico, than one day we would.

We were the last passengers to board the flight. As the plane pushed back I saw something that I had never seen before or since. The ground crew stood at attention in a salute to our pilots.

A salute is appropriate for beginnings and endings, for advancement and dismissal. I find it appropriate that during my 7 days in Mexico that I have ended a marriage and began the path towards another. I have dismissed my past and have advanced into my future.

I blow Mexico a kiss and finished the 2nd chapter in my memory book of Mexico.

(Note, although we have yet to live in Mexico, we have come very close. We purchased ocean front property near Zihuatanejo but sold it a few years later. We continue our search for somewhere we will enjoy putting down roots and putting up a palapa!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Second time in Mexico. Part 2 of 3

He must love me. Why else would he have quietly turned and walked away just because I told him to leave me alone?

Because he is a nice man and he had made a promise.

I had never put much stock in promises. From my experience they were just a concept. Just like mañana is a concept, although it means tomorrow in Spanish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that next day. It just means, not today.

Just yesterday, I had broken a promise to one man and on this night I came close to breaking another. To my supposed to be husband.

Alcohol induced arguments laced with flammable emotions complicated by exhaustion and impromptu table dancing leads to more than a disagreement. It leads to an all out snarling fight.

Keith was about to be caught up in the Perfect Storm and there was little he could have done to prevent it. Although he tried.

Booze was the most powerful storm approaching very slowly but with gale force winds expected.

Fatigue had sat down in the area for a number of hours. Although not as fierce at Booze, it left the area weak and exposed.

Fear had been lingering just off the area for years. It was waiting for the added force of Booze and Fatigue to wreak its havoc.

The three systems came crashing together after a long day of fishing, with little to eat and too much to drink. Me, not Keith.

Petulant fit. I did not recognize myself. Was that really me dancing on a table? In a bar? I threw my shoes at Keith in the hallway of a ritzy hotel. I spat venomous words and locked him out of the room.

Than I sat. And waited. And waited.

I gathered up my stupid self and went in search of my supposed to be husband. He was on the beach, weathering the storm.

No apologies offered. I was too prideful for that. He was to kind to demand any. He must love me.

We walk silently down the echoing hallway. Two strappy sandals lie haphazardly on the marble floor, just where the lunatic owner had thrown them.

In a fluid, yet deliberate motion, Keith bends over of scoops them up. He stashes them under one arm and puts the other arm around my waste.

We promise to talk about it mañana. And we do.

Promises. They are no longer a concept for me.

(Note; I cannot believe what an idiot I was. I would like to think that I had a bad reaction to the food, but I didnt have any. A rookie mistake. Keith tried to prevent this. But I was having none of his “control measures”. That’s what started the fight. I guess he didn’t think the public table dance was a good idea. I hope to redeem myself in the 3rd and final installment of this story)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Second time around. Memories of my 2nd trip to Mexico and more. Part 1 of 3

We had decided to marry and spend our honeymoon in Mexico. The year was 1993 and Keith and I had met just 2 months prior on New Years Eve. It was a blind date.

Not sure of what we wanted in a marriage, we definitely knew what we didn’t want.

8 months would give us plenty of time to plan a trip, a wedding and get to know each other. I had read books on Mexico, not marriage. I studied the maps on Mexico, not the road to a happy marriage. I asked everyone I knew that had been to Mexico all of the questions, about Mexico, not marriage.

I tried to recall my High School Spanish. My teacher, Mrs. Josie Esau, graduate of Rice University, had little command of the Spanish language and less control over the class. She spoke Spanish with a heavy Texan accent. They can’t help it - Texans. We mostly cooked tacos and listened to Mexican music in Josie’s class.

I prepared little for the trip and even less so for a marriage. I was perfect in my oversight of the obvious. I would not allow prudent thinking stand in my way. Keith was such a nice guy. And I really needed a nice guy.

We finally arrive in San Jose del Cabo. It is our 4th airport of the day. I am in a sassy short dress and high heals. I broadcast “American Tourist” like a Vegas billboard. I am 31 years old. I had (past tense) a great body and an underdeveloped sense of self awareness. I was the original Deadliest Catch.

Pollo Loco. Hey! I can read Spanish!!! “Crazy Chicken” Keith! That sign says Crazy Chicken… I am so smart… I can rule this Nation. I can live here and speak this simple language and remain tanned indefinitely. I also noticed to smell of burning trash and the ratty condition of the van that we had just piled into with a bunch of drunken idiots going to the same resort as us.

It’s the typical ritzy resort. Swim up bar, billowing white gauze cabanas and English speaking wait staff. It was as far from being in Mexico is it could be. Except for the smell of burning trash, it always seemed to linger.

I experienced many firsts in Cabo San Lucas.

1. Ceviche- I loved it. Where had it been all my life?
2. Jet Skiing – wet and wild!!
3. Catching and releasing a huge Sail Fish.
4. Divorce

One of the details that I overlooked in my planning was the ability to legally marry Keith.

The paperwork dissolving my “practice” marriage had been filed for 11 months. The Judge went on sabbatical without assigning the case to another Judge. In July I am informed that this dissolution hearing is scheduled for the same date that Keith and I had planned to be wed. The honeymoon already paid for.

So, we didn't get to start our marriage that September in Mexico but I ended one there.

At a prearranged time I phoned the Kenai Court System to affirm that I did indeed still agree to dissolve the marriage. It was more difficult to arrange the international call than it was disarrange a marriage.

I sit on the edge of the bed with a stunning view of the shore. A warm ocean breeze blows in and leaves the floor tile as well as the drink in my hand weeping from the humidity. I am still in my wet bikini. Keith sits out on the balcony. He tries to be two places at the same time. Near me, yet not part of the proceedings. Finally the call is connected; I answer all the questions then hang up and take the hand of my supposed to be husband.

He leads me down to the swanky swim up bar and again, there is the ever present smell of burning trash. But this time it’s the smoldering garbage of my life past.

Burning trash has never smelled so sweet.

(Note; Keith and I married a few months later on New Years Eve a year to the date that we had first met. There is more to this story in Cabo that I will post in the future.We have traveled in Mexico over 30 times, long since passing up ritzy hotels and swim up bars)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Torture. This is what my first memories of Mexico were based upon. Well, torture and sea shells. I was 7 years old.

My parents, sister and I were living in Northern California at the time. They (the adults) thought that seeing the Baja 1000 would be a fun time. That race had just had its first run in October 1967.

Ensenada in 1969 was not a tourist town. I not sure if it was much of a town at all. Nevertheless, it was my first time in Mexico. We flew from Sacramento to San Diego and rented a car. It seems that we drove half the day, but it could have only been 2 hours. Maybe more as my father had probably had a few shots of tequila and had gotten us lost.

The booze improved his driving skills but did little to improve his personality or scruples.

Anyway, I have only flashes of memories. Cool Ocean breezes, a dead Sea Lion on the beach, my Mother trying to get her silk pillow case back from the non English speaking house keepers and an old gringo that was the first ex-pat that I had ever met. He was a stranger, yet my mom let me and my sister sit with him for hours (it was probably 20 minutes, see above where I thought we drove for ½ a day) while he showed us all about sea shells and how to clean the critters out. I don’t think I had ever spent that much time with a stranger before then.

The torture part comes in from my 17 year old uncle. My mothers kid brother. My parents brought my uncle on the trip to watch my sister and me while the adults went out doing adult things in Mexico and for him to experience Mexico. My uncle had different ideas of what those experiences should be. He teased me by keeping a ball away from me, had me leaping in the air to grab my toys and even went as far as putting me in those Mexican finger cuffs; behind my back. He had also gotten a bull whip at the market and a big sombrero. He chased me around with that stuff too. I know it all sounds innocent, but I was very upset at the time, and probably a bit nervous about being away from home to start with, and to have an angry uncle in charge really did scare me. My mother tells me that it could not have been so bad.

Fast forward 40 years. January 2009 found me back in Mexico again with that same uncle. All I said was “Hey, the last time we were in Mexico together was 40 years ago” and you know what he said? “Chrissy, I regret all those mean and terrible things I did and said on that trip”. So, my memory is not perfect, but my feelings were.

Of course I had long since forgiven him and it was interesting to hear his perspective on the whole thing. Come to find out, he had thought that he was brought on the trip more as a play date for my dad, not a “Manny”. A 17 year old red blooded American boy in Mexico could “experience” a lot. But his sister (my Mom) obviously had more boundaries than he had ideas. He took out is resentment on me.

We shared some excellent times and made new delightful memories in Guayabitos that January and lest you might think this was our first reunion in 40 years, it was not. We have been in each others lives and homes many, many times. It’s odd that this never came up until we were back together in Mexico.

Now the only torture I face concerning memories of Mexico is leaving her.
(Note; I got a new Daddy and he is the best ever!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Desert to Dockside

I have been occupied with the visit from our 2 oldest Grand children and with Keith's absence while he took them back up to Juneau. I was left in charge of the house and animals. I have nothing witty to say in this blog, but I just wanted to share a few photos. This one above is a self shot of me on the salt river. It was an excellent trip. We got on the 2nd bus so there were only a few people ahead of us.

Korrianna, our 13 year old Granddaughter. She had a blast, worked on her tan and learned how the hydraulics of a river work.

Chase, our 11 year old Grandson. He was a bit reluctant to do this. Chased wanted us to all be lashed together. By then end of the trip his confidence had grown so much that he was floating on his tummy and taking on the small rapids by himself.

Keith in Juneau with the 2 youngest grandkiddos. Tyrel 5 and Tell 6 weeks old. They are standing in Fireweed.

Halibut. It is a lot of work to bring these guys up off the bottom. They are usually around 300 feet and if there is any size to them at all, it is like pulling a mattress up from the deep.

Keith with our daughters Breehia (Mom of Tyrel and Tell. And Step Mom to Korrianna and Chase) and Kally, the one with the stunning blue eyes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I accidentally set off my home alarm last night at about 11:30 PM. An ear piercing siren and strobe lights sent the cats flying under the bed and had my parrot not already been in his snuggy, he would have crashed to the bottom of his cage. It took me about 30 seconds to gather my wits, find my glasses and race to the other end of the house to disarm the stupid thing. Just as I was getting my hearing back and trying to lower my heart rate, the phone rang. CRAP! who could that be at 11:30 at night, it's got to be BAD!!!! CRAP!!! Oh, it was the security monitoring people. I had forgotten that I had that service.

You see, I haven't set the house alarm for years. But last night I was glad to have it. Keith and the grand kiddos left yesterday at 4AM for Alaska. On our way to the airport we thought we would stop at Dunkin Donuts. They were not open yet, so we drove right to the freeway. Unknown to us at the time, a woman, dead from a gun wound lay just off the side of the road just a block from our home. I drove by twice and didn't see a thing. It was only around noon yesterday that someone walking bye was able to spot her. It was determined that the body had been dumped there, but it still creeps me out to thing this would happen in my neighborhood.

One of the first things to crossed my mind was that it would never occur to me to have an alarm system in Mexico. Thats what dogs and window bars are for right? Colima Dog will protect me. Good boy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


We anxiously wait the arrival of our 2 oldest Grandchildren this Friday. A 13 year old girl and 11 year old boy. Bringing youngsters from Alaska to the Desert Southwest in the summer seems to be cruel and unusual punishment. These kids are not accustom to going more than a day or two without wearing Xtratuf rubber boots and layers of fleece.
Their usual summer generally has them doing everything in the rain and 55 degrees. Juneau summers are a lot like a nasty spring. Soggy softball, muddy soccer and the occasional 70 degree day with no rain and the entire population of Juneau scurries to find something to do outdoors while the weather holds.
The kiddos have been spending the last 3 weeks at their other Grandparents home in New Mexico. They have spent their days helping run the Ranchito. The week with us will be an urban assault on their small town psyche’s.
Papa and I have a long list of activities that should keep us busy and introduce them to a few things rarely available in Alaska.
Shopping, what 13 year old girl would not want to shop in Scottsdale for her next years school clothes?
Shooting a machine gun at our Gun Club- What 11 year old boy hasn’t dreamed of that?
Wet-n-Wild water park- Actually getting wet for the fun of it? The kids are use to being constantly damp and cold. This experience will be new.
Imax Theater. We might re think this one; both kids get motion sickness pretty easy.
Putt putt golf (after the sun goes down)
Watching TV from our pool
Lots of playing in the pool

Floating the Salt River. This is a shallow, slow moving river. The water is so clear you can count the beer bottles and cans as you slowing glide over. You might spot the occasional scuba diver, a volunteer picking up the trash that the idiot humans have left behind. It really is a unique experience floating down a lazy river under the towering 200+ year old saguaro cactus and sweeping Mesquite canopies.

All too soon, Keith will be taking them back up to Alaska. This may be their last summer visit in Arizona. We are hoping that the next trip for them will bring them into a different Country. How many kids can say that they spent their summer vacation in Mexico? I am hoping many would, but especially these two.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eggplant Recipe. In Spanish, Berenjena

I have been asked a few times for this recipe, so I thought I would post it. I love the color of eggplant and I love to eat it as well. I just hate working with it. To do it right, you must get as much moisture out of the plant before you prepare it. That usually takes time and patience. 2 things I lack. This time was the first time I have tried salting the sliced eggplant rather than pressing it. I like the salt technique it worked well but took longer. It left the slices less discolored than pressing, but it did add a bit more salty flavor than I care for. It was fine for Keith.

Above I have cut the plant lengthwise and have salted and left in a colander for several hours to sweat. Occasionally I would dab at them to take of moisture, but for the most part, they just sat there and dripped. Then I sprinkled a little rosemary and garlic on one side and sauteed for about 90 seconds on each side, then transferred to a paper towel.

below I placed a slice of Gorgonzola cheese at one end. If you use a milder cheese you could add more, the cheese was super strong.

Then I rolled them up and skewered them with tooth picks. If you chill these off, you can remove the picks. Mine rarely make it to the cooler before being eaten.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A tisket, a tasket, I need a bigger basket.

$70.00 worth of groceries looks like a small amount. UNTIL...

(scroll down from here, I don't know why this isn't formatting right)

I try to load it on my Yamaha V-Star 650. I did get a few looks in the parking lot while I was trying to overload my bike. I certainly got more looks on the freeway.

See, this is reason 43 why I belong in Mexico. People don't give you a second glance when you overload a vehicle. Its a common practice and Mexicans seem uniquely qualified in it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Osprey or Sea Hawk?

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I call these birds Sea Hawks. This lovely raptor makes her living in the Port of Guaymas. They can have about a 6 foot wingspan and are found on all continents except Antarctica. This day she had caught a small orange fish and was very shy about eating it until we left her alone.

Here is a sampling of the fishing fleet. Port of Guaymas has a long interesting history. It not only serves to support 70% of the states sea food catch, it is also a Naval Base, Industrial Port and Ferry Terminal. There have been battles won and lost in this port that include but are not limited to American occupation from October 1847 until July 1848. Also, a French chap Marquis of Pindray takes over the port in 1851 and travels deep into the State of Sonora to the town of Rayon, where a welcome wagon bestows him with a bullet to his head. The English and Germans also found their way to the port.
The below shot is probably the work dock. Many of the ships looked they need some serious TLC.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keeping it simple

For as complex as Mexico is in it's history and culture, their ability to simplify the ordinary is remarkable. We love the blinking traffic signals that warn you of the impending doom that is just about to t-bone you if you don't either speed up or slow down to stop (then be hit from the rear). Another nice feature is this cross walk sign. It not only counts down the seconds you have, but has a little man in motion. As the seconds diminish, he walks fast and faster and breaks into full blown trot before the red man of doom flashes and horns start honking.

Reason 32 that we will live in Mexico. Simplicity in the ordinary. I guess it makes up for all the complexity of the necessary.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kindle book device-price lowered.

Just and FYI for all my fellow book worms out there.

NEW YORK - Inc. cut the price of its Kindle electronic reading device to $299 on Wednesday in an effort to attract more bookworms and make the gadget a mainstream hit.
The new price is $60 below the tag the Kindle has had since May 2008. The product originally debuted at $399 in 2007.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our 4th of July in Guaymas

We stayed at the Armida Hotel in Guaymas this trip. It is a small place mostly visited by Nationals. The 2nd day there we noticed a large number of 20ish year old men with there young wives and children all having a great time in and around the pool. We saw an older man popping out of his room and pointing to his watch every 10 minutes or so. Before to long, all the young men were gone and only the women and children remained. Then that's when we figured it out, the men started walking by in their uniforms. I worked up the courage to approach the group of young women to ask about the game. Using my poor Spanish, I was answered in perfect English. They were the professional team from Ensenada, the Marineros. They were in town to play the Guaymas Ostioneros.

The game stated at 8PM, so the temperature was not bad, what was bad is the smell. The stadium is located just off the lagoon area that holds the Guaymas fishing fleet.
Because it was ley seca, there was no booze served at the game. I suspect that was the reason for the low turn out, but it did make for an enjoyable time.
We were 2 of about 12 fans cheering for Ensenada. We left after the 4th inning as Guaymas had not scored and Ensenada was ahead by 4.
Other than the language and the smell at the stadium, you would not really notice the difference between American ball and Mexican ball. There were hot dogs (although split and fried on a grill) paraphernalia, Coca Cola, snow cones, popcorn, all the things you could want at a game. What I thought was great is when Ensenada got up to bat, or if they had an error, the sound effects were corny and insulting. Like a baby laughing or Loony Tunes just your basic "nanny, nanny boo boo" stuff. We had a great time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The San Carlos connection

From the left. Me, Bruce (Keith says Bruce is doing is Lucha Libre pose here), Jan, Captain and Bliss.
This impromptu meeting was the icing on the cake to our latest journey into Mexico. Jan and I had been writing for about a month now and we are connected in may ways. One being that we are both Army brats, so experienced some of the same things growing up. We are fast friends and it was very hard to say good bye on Saturday. We are both planning the next visit.
Bliss and the Captain are very interesting people as well. Keith hung on every word that Captain had to say about sailing. Keith loves boats and has always wanted to learn to sail. He knows very well how to operate big power boats (40-50 footers) but the idea of being under sail has him mesmerized. Bliss is a singer and artist and I find that intimidating and lovely at the same time.
Blogging is an odd way to make friends. But it is an effective way. We all have very common interest and the act of writing and reading must reach a very intimate place in our being. Jan and I both have this feeling of knowing each other for years, yet we have only known each other for days. Weird. Odd. Beautiful.

Favorite Taco Stand

We always stop at this stand just North of Magdalena de Kino whenever we are travelling Mex 15. It is on the north end of town on the Free Road. We usually have something new every time and are always very impressed with all of it. There are always many people here, both locals and Arizonans like us. This time we enjoyed Bistec Encebollados y chiles. It was a wonderful burritos filled with steak, onions and mild chiles. Keith inhaled his in just a few bites, then set his gaze upon my lingering last few bites. As we were in a hurry to get to San Carlos and meet the other bloggers, I sacrificed my burro for time. Otherwise, I could tell that he had ideas of spending the day at this taco stand.
The man sitting at the bar was from Tucson, but visiting family in Hermosillo. He stops here going to and from all the time. It had rained the night before, so the parking lot was muddy. While we were there, a DHL truck came bye and the driver placed 6 orders to go. I have no idea if that was part of his delivery service, or if he just really liked the food here. Oh well. Reason 51 that we will live in Mexico. The road side stands are soooo good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Were outa here!

In less than 24 hours we will be in San Carlos/Guaymas. It is just a short road trip for us. 6 hours one way. I have google earthed the route (actually we have driven it several times) and I think I have found a route that skirts Hermosillo to the west and then connects back up to Highway 15. Maybe someone out there has taken that Westerly route on 15D south to 16 West, then hooks back up to 15?
Anywho, we are very excited to be going back to Mexico and to get a chance to meet up with my new BB (Blogger Buddy) We have a favorite restaurant there in Guaymas that serves 2 of my favorite dishes. Octopus with butter & garlic and Charro beans. I really need to right down the name of the place and this time I will. But it is next to the giant Palapa restaurant when you just start to enter town before the turn off that takes you down to the old Cortez hotel.
Keith and I have ritual road/boat food. It includes, but is not limited to beef jerky, chicharrones,Gater-aide and some salty chips.
We should be going through most of the areas pretty early, and we usually stop in Magdalene de Kino for roadside breakfast tacos, but I think we will be too early.
I am taking the lap top and I will try to post from the road. We will see how that works, or doesn't.
We love to drive. In Juneau, we only had 41 miles of road. So this distance thing is a thrill for us. Keith used to get tired after just driving for 35 miles, now he is good for 15 hours or more.
i know it sounds weird, but we look forward to the smell of burning trash and the humidity in the air. Reason 85 we will live in Mexico.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chile Cheater

Yes, I cheat when I am making my Pork Green Chile Stew. I cannot resist the roasted chiles at my local Hispanic grocery store. Each Saturday morning, they roast whole chiles out in the parking lot in large rotating barrel roasters. They bag them and charge 3 dollars for 2 pounds. Weird price point. All I have to do is wash the charred skins off and remove most of the seeds. Then I just through them in the food processor and bag up portions that I can use later and freeze.

This latest batch I am processing are 2 different types. Poblano and Green Chiles.

For those of you who cook, this will be an easy recipe to follow, for those that don’t I am sorry about the short cuts.

I have made small batches for just my husband and me and I have made enough to take to church pot lucks.

1-2 pounds of pork stew meat or cut up bite size pieces off a Pork Butt shoulder roast.
Seasoned flour (salt, pepper what ever else you like)
2 or more cups of chicken broth.
2-4 cups of fresh roasted chiles whacked up small or processed to almost a puree.

Dust the stew meat in flour and brown in small batches in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. You don’t have to cook the meat through, just get the flour bonded to the meat. The stewing process will cook and tenderize the meat. If you do over cook it at this point, it has the tendency to get tough.
Once all the meat is browned, add it all back into the pot and throw in any remaining flour and work into the meat to get it to bond. Add chiles and stir until well distributed, then cover with 2 cups of chicken broth. You might need more or less broth depending how juicy your chiles are.
Cover and let simmer for a few hours or until you cannot stand it any longer. I like to cook mine the day before and just warm up the next.
We serve ours in a large bowl over a crisp tostada, beans, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream and a fried egg on top. Don’t forget the dash of Valentina’s at the end.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sonora, Cattle Country.

Well, this is a photo taken just outside Tubac, Arizona. It is a cheesy roadside joint, but we just could not pass up the photo opportunity. But it does bring me to the topic of this Blog. Mexican Beef.

Caborca, Sonora July 4, 2008. This is Keith with a mound of beef and tortillas. He had just finished up getting some dental work done in Nogales and we decided to spend a couple of days visiting this area. I had read about Caborca and we had seen the signs for many years, so we took off for a town that is not well known for much more than its agriculture. However, we came to learn about the newest thing in town. The Narcos. They have started building beautiful mansions near "The Conception of our Lady of Caborca" A stunning Church commissioned in 1692 by Father Francisco Kino. (Here is where Mexico Bob corrected me.) "Regarding the Church and Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino...he was a Jesuit and he founded the original chapel which was about a half mile east of the present church. The present church was actually built by Franciscan priests who replaced the Jesuits in 1767 when the Jesuits were kicked out of New Spain by the Spanish crown."

Long before the Spanish Conquistadors, a well known land baron "El Jefe Soba" united and commanded around 4000 Indians who lived in and around NW Sonora.
April 1, 1895 (Notice April fools day) The American Henry Alexander Crabb waged a 6 day invasion in Caborca. The locals executed him. In April 1948, Resolution #89 changed the name of Caborca to Heroic Caborca.
The area exports raisins,dates,olives and asparagus. It produces cattle for beef and leather works.
The area is not well known for its 75 miles of ocean shoreline along the gulf of California. I suspect it wont be long and these sleepy little places will be on the radar. Puerto Lobos, Desenborque, Estro Las Tanques, Santo Tomas, Las Salinas, San Jorge Bay and a few others.