Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tabor Canyon and Tiramisu

We've been so busy with our visiting family; it's hard to sit and write. Saturday was Beau's birthday. We celebrated by hiking Tabor Canyon. (The first photo is of he and Karly.)Not for the feint of heart, this hike requires scrambling over huge boulders and scaling ridges strewn with crumbling rock. Earlier this spring Robert and I took it to the top--a thousand feet I believe. It took us six hours round-trip with a break for lunch. At the higher elevations there are beautiful views to the ocean across Puerto Escondido. It is one of the more memorable experiences a visitor to this area could have. The rain from the hurricane in October has left the region wet and green. There are pools of water where there was none earlier this year.

This time we had children and other families along, so we didn't get past the first "chimney." I'm calling it that because I heard someone else call this enormous rock obstacle by that name. It requires that you walk through a pool of water and enter the crevice at the bottom of a pile of boulders and pull yourself up to the next elevation. It proved to be too much a challenge this time with kids in tow. So this trip was only about two and a half hours long.

After our hiking excursion we had a special birthday dinner at a new restaurant in Loreto: La Mision. It is at the new hotel on the Malecon. Though the hotel is not yet finished, the restaurant is recently opened. We visited with the chef, Rodrigo, the day before about making our evening a special event. He was to prepare a special menu for us. What we got was unexpected. It was fabulous. We had course after course of wonderful appetizers and entrees. Crab cakes, shrimp, scallops, lamb, duck, tiramisu cake. Rodrigo kept it coming and it was muy rico. The wine list wasn't half bad for Loreto. We had Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley--something you'll not find anywhere in these parts. Dinner was so good we talked about all the next day comparing it to other wonderful dining experiences we've had elsewhere. It ranks high we decided.

Overall, it was one of the best days we've had here as a family.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What I got for Christmas

Allie waits in the open window for her brothers to arrive for Christmas dinner. Robert carves a turkey in the kitchen eating as he goes. It was a really big turkey when I roasted it, but it dwindled before it reached the table. I managed corn bread stuffing, canned yams, mashed potatoes, caramelized onions and two pumpkin pies I purchased from Dali's. I had to do without seasonings I'm accustomed to back home, like sage. The variety of vegetables in Loreto has always been limited. If you're hoping for green peas, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts --ha!--think again. You'd better love peppers and calabacitas (Mexican squash) or the occasional cucumber because that's about all the green you can count on here at the mercados. Many folks drive to Constitution or La Paz for better variety and selection. We didn't have the time or interest in that this year.

We feel lucky to be all together for Christmas. With all the weather-related problems with Alaska Air and the travel advisories in the Midwest it was fortunate Allie's brothers got here at all. Many folks headed this way were delayed for days as the airlines worked out their problems. Our sons had a close call on the connection in L.A. when Alaska Air twice changed it's departure time.

Our boys are staying in another house which works out better for all our comfort. Plus, our older brought his fiancee. They just got engaged last week. She thought he was gifting her with a laptop when he asked her to close her eyes and hold out her hands. She stood there palms up while he slyly slipped a ring on her finger. (I hope they don't get annoyed I just told you all that little detail.) They are young, but sure. We're happy for them and, of course, we adore her and feel honored she wants to be part of our family. She may be thinking only of our son, but I know the bigger picture. She's taking on all of us. She's going to be part of us. I think about this every time I look at her across the dinner table. This is a young girl that somebody else lovingly cared for and raised who one December day finds herself at dinner with another family announcing she'll be joining them --indefinitely.

I ruminate on every possible variation of this theme all evening long. That she loves our son is no mystery to me. That she's joining with us, adding to us, enhancing us--all willingly--is what mesmerizes me. How can she know the full extent of her choice? I certainly didn't at her age. I didn't put thought into what import I had to Robert's family. I didn't spend time considering how I impacted them; I was caught up in myself and Robert. Only now, years later, am I seeing the view from the other side. It keeps feeling like an honor. Beau has a found a lovely girl. Maybe they think it's all about them, but somehow I feel like I've been given a beautiful gift.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Sprucing

It is a particularly beautiful day here in Nopolo with sunny skies and warm temps. Sorry, all you States-stuck folks back home. We are hoping those of you scheduled to fly down this week will finally get through. With the weather-related problems in Seattle, all the Alaska Air flights are grounded, which means even though my sons could get to LAX no problem, the AA plane they need to catch may not be there. Their flights are for Thursday, Christmas Day, so hopefully things may turn for the better by then.

In the meantime, I'm still "sprucing" my house for their arrival. We finally hired landscapers to finish our terrace. Today they brought in large potted ficus trees to set on the southwest side of the patio where we get a lot of afternoon sun. Later, they'll bring bougainvillea and set up trellises for them to climb creating a nice shade barrier. EcoScapes is no longer in business, so it is now Vivero that we deal with. At least I think that is the name.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I've been working to get our house in a holiday spirit. I would have loved some evergreen, but that is impossible to find here. So, I improvised. I snipped a few branches from a soft bark tree by the arroyo and Robert helped me bend and tie into a wreath form. Then I added large seed pods (Catalpa, I think) and some sprigs from the enormous ficus tree out front our house.

Robert, with the help of Roch, who was visiting, hoisted the wooden bench over the terrace wall and I pulled some pots down. Finally, some color to our otherwise plain white wall.

Now, what to do about the view from the door to the alley?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poco a poco

I made an effort to wake early today. It is true that Loreto is most beautiful in the morning. The early sunlight washes slowly over the mountains warming each range one by one. It is a study in contrast. By mid-day the sunlight fuses everything together into more bland hues.

This first photo is the view from my tower across the Paseo to the northwest. The following are shots of the Paseo under construction. The lane that leads to the Inn is currently being prepared for asphalt. It is certainly encouraging to see the progress take shape. I don't have any information on the schedule or plans for each aspect of the community, but there is an apparent sense of order that seemed lacking previously. I did inquire about the landscaping in progress in Founder's Neighborhood and learned that each cluster is being done or redone to higher standards starting closest to the Inn and working north. Lucky for us, they have started working in our alley planting giant palms. They will get done as much as they can before breaking at December 22. In January they will come back and re-do our paver pathways.

The weather has turned a little cool and overcast. I thought it would rain today, but no. That there is no wind is an asset as it would certainly be whipping up the dirt in the raw street.
I've been here previous winters where the wind mixed with the construction made for miserable times. We've been here one week already and it has been so pleasant. Poco a poco, little by little, Loreto Bay moves forward.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hello, neighbor

With the house now in order we venture out to see the progress in the neighborhood. The Paseo is torn up in preparation for a new and improved major boulevard. Landscaping and hardscaping in the clusters closest to the Inn are impressive. The road to the back entrance looks best. Rock paver sidewalks meander alongside palms directing your eye to the beautiful mountainside. The hurricane season left the terrain lush and greener than we have ever seen.

Robert's bike had a flat so we went on search for a tire pump, not a hard item to find since everyone here seems to own a bicycle. Our friend, John Ford was glad to oblige not only with the pump but with a double-shot iced coffee. He has a commercial grade coffee maker as well as a roaster and treats everyone to what has to be Loreto Bay's freshest, most delicious coffee. Did I mention he and his family hail from Seattle? Another interesting fact: Because this is Baja climate and not the rainy northwest, John and his kids prefer to sleep under a tent on the terrace every night--just because they can.

While visiting John, our other good friend, Doug Brown showed up on his bike and we had an impromptu alley chat. All of us have young children very close in age. Like us, the Brown's and Ford's are living here for an indefinite period of time. We all have businesses or professions that allow us to work and play outside of the U.S. Having just one or two other families like ourselves makes such a difference in our happiness here in LB. I imagine our experiences are similar to a small community in the 1950's U.S., where neighbors had to rely on each other. We came to town honoring a few requests for provisions like garden hoses and baking goods. In return, we are showered with neighborly gestures of invites for dinner and recreation. The kids ride their bikes all through the neighborhood exploring and we know they are safe. I like that so much.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Still Cleaning

I can't enjoy Loreto living until my house is in order. And everyone must help. Robert has already hung, drilled, cleaned, moved, repaired from a list longer than his tired arm. SO, that's why you see me power washing his golf clubs. His idea to bring the power washer was a brilliant act of spousal manipulation. He had to know I'd seize it like an addict and let loose my latent OCD tendencies toward grime. I love stripping dirt from my stuff. Water conservation be dammed--I will have the cleanest terrace in Loreto Bay.

I started at the top--the tower and worked down. Walls, furniture, and all. Really though, the power washer probably uses less water than a hose. It is certainly efficient on stucco and cement.

My other favorite tool is the vacuum. I brought a new one down here. Previously, I believed I didn't need one since all our floors are tile. But, I was wrong. It's the attachments--those things that hang on your vacuum that you may never use--that are a bonus here. With the vacuum hose I went over every plaster baseboard and window-sill, under every bed, over every window shade.

So if I would recommend any two tools that one might overlook in the necessities of Loreto Living the power-washer and the vacuum are definite contenders.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting our house in order

Our casa has been unoccupied (except for a couple of family/friends visits) for six months. So if it seems I'm overly focused on cleaning, well, I am.
In my estimate, all the bedding and towels needed laundering and every surface of the house wiped and sanitized, or vinegarized as it seems we had some moisture built up downstairs. An irrigation sprayer to the courtyard was broken and throwing water under the door to the bathroom closet inside. (We have a huge closet instead of a bathtub--an option I don't know exists anymore with the casa chicas.) Why property management overlooked this little dysfunction puzzled us greatly and increasingly infuriated me as I took to the task of emptying every item in the closet and either wiping, soaking or washing it with vinegar. Later, I realized that property management did not have a key to our closet, so how would they know the problem--UNLESS THEY SMELLED IT! The secret to being satisfied with property management is to actually live here! Now that we're here, any request we have is met with immediate response. Within one day we had our leaky kitchen faucet and downstairs toilet repaired. Road Nine showed up in minutes to repair the Internet wiring. It's hard to stay mad when they try so hard.

Well, now that that task is behind me I am over it. On to other stuff. Our larger bedding can't fit into our washing machine so we had to locate a laundromat in Loreto. We found one just by driving up and down streets till we came across this rather promising one on Calle Independencia. ( If traveling north on Jaurez take a left at the four way stop which is Independencia and go down a few blocks; it's on the right) We dropped off a king bedspread, blanket and dust ruffle. The manager charged us 360 pesos. No bargain, but we got clean bedding folded and wrapped.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back to our Other Life

Okay, finally back on the road after all these months back home in the states. This is Robert's fourth time (my second) driving the long Transpeninsular Highway 600 miles to the sleepy Baja town of Loreto--more accurately, to Nopolo, home to the Loreto Bay development. This time we pulled a 12-foot long cargo trailer stuffed with supplies. We brought a new, more comfortable sofa and leather chair, another television, kitchen appliances, etc. etc. I even tossed in a frozen turkey. On our first haul back in 2005, I remember being terrified at crossing the border. I had all our paperwork in order and worried over getting busted for bringing over perishable foods. We breezed right through never having to stop for inspection only to learn later that we needed to check in with immigration in Loreto to get our tourist visas.

The essence of familiarity is ease, in so each consequent trip down we grow nonchalant, even cavalier, over the border crossing event. Once again, this episode was uneventful. We crossed the border at Tijuana at 7:30 am on Sunday morning without any wait whatsoever and incredibly, if not foolishly, drove the entire trip in one day arriving in Loreto Bay at 1:00 am. We would never recommend anyone to do that, but we, or Robert rather, felt up to the challenge. I think after the long preparations and delays we were very anxious to return to our other life--to Loreto.

We fell into our beds and slept till noon the following day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Current status

Any souls checking in here must know that I have been MIA. I tired a little of narrating our lives' adventures and took a long break. We left Loreto Bay in May. After spending the summer back home reacquainting with friends, business, and family, we are geared to head back to LB in mid- November for another go-around, probably till next June.

Sometime around then I'll pick up where I left off. If anyone cares to follow, great. If not, I don't mind talking to myself. :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Just your normal day in Loreto

If I start writing about Loreto Bay now as we are about to leave I know I'll disappoint any one bothering to read. However, it is hard not to post when every day something unusual or interesting (to me) happens.

I did put together a little video of a day boating on the Sea of Cortez where we encountered a lot of dolphins. There's nothing more fun than being chased, and chasing, a group of frolicking porpoises.

The video is under "my videos from the road" in the sidebar.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm not too far gone, yet

I thought I'd check back in for just a bit. I notice that people still check in on me. Sorry to disappoint. We spent a few months at home regrouping. Robert had some tests and is back on track. His health is good. We are currently in our second home in Loreto Bay enjoying the great weather. I've been here over two months and feel like I should have been writing about it, but I'm afraid to get started blogging about travel and living in Loreto if we are soon to end it by going home.

However, we aren't so sure we will end it. We still want to travel. We talk daily about what places we'd like to visit. We're saying crazy things like, "I wonder what it's like to live in Croatia?" and, "Do you think Buenos Aires is still a bargain?" "Wonder if we could ship the Airstream overseas?"

IF we do something crazy you know I'll be back blogging about it. I hate to ask anyone to stay tuned---but you never know.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Time to say goodbye

I won't be posting for awhile. In fact, I think this blog has found it's end. It's been two years of writing about living in Loreto and then some time on the road in the U.S., but plans have changed and I'm not sure anymore where we'll be and the blog has lost its intended purpose of sharing insights about new places and people. Maybe another time in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along. I hope you found inspiration, or at least some entertainment along the way.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where have I been?

I don't think I'll be posting for awhile. Our travel plans are at a standstill while Robert takes care of health issues (his heart.) He's pursuing a treatment that may keep us stationary for several weeks, maybe two months, so trolling around in our Airstream will have to wait. And travel to our house in Loreto Bay is out as well. So, my blog theme of travel has hit a bump in the road. Maybe I need to shift the theme to heart care issues.

We'll see. But for now I can't focus too well on much else. Check back with me sometime later. And wish Robert good luck. If you remember it was his heart attack in 2005 that prompted all this travel. I don't think he's lost the desire for it, but for now it has to wait.