Thursday, October 20, 2011

In case you're interested....

Obviously, I have ceased posting on this blog. Our travel adventures are not as grand now that our daughter is in middle school and loathe to leave the stability of her "normal" life. I too, am busy at work, running our office, while Robert oversees the general operations. Both our sons work in the business as well, so it is quite wonderful to me to have us all together. We get to Loreto only at Christmas these days, and our Airstream adventures are limited to summers. We actually pulled straight into New York City on Independence Day, parked our Airstream in a lot at Liberty Harbor, and watched fireworks from the Hudson River with a couple that invited us on their boat. That's a great story. I should have written about it, but I don't know how to pick back up on blogging now that I've abandoned it.

I have a new venture now that I am planted here in the midwest again. For the past two years I have studied photography--even spending a summer in Montana at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. I'm concentrating on portraiture, though I love all types of photography.

My business is named, "YES Photography. You can see my work at
Someday I will pick back up on writing, for now I'll just capture life as I see it here at home.

thanks to all who have followed me.
see some of you in Loreto.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What I do all day

We're leaving for home tomorrow. This was a shorter stay for us than usual; two months for Allison and I, three for Robert. Overall, it was a pleasant time. Nothing too unusual happened, in fact; I am becoming jaded about our life here. The unusual seems normal to me anymore. I haven't felt inclined to write about every little thing. Loreto Bay is becoming our other home, one we are growing more familiar and comfortable with each passing year. I'll never recapture the wonder and astonishment I felt in the early days here. I tell people how things were just five years ago and I surprise myself at how primitive and pioneering I make it sound. You know, remember those days when we couldn't find the simplest items like brown sugar, or half-n-half, or an extension cord? We truly felt like we were living in a state of forced deprivation. Each year more is available in Loreto. I imagine in five years we'll feel like we live in a resort--well, relatively speaking. Loreto Bay has such a long way to progress, but we'll always remember the good old days.

Just when I think I've had enough of the dirt, the dust, and the deprivations, we get a string of incredible pink and orange-hued sunsets. I don't doubt half my neighborhood heard my excited shrieks to my own family to,"Get out here, you have to see this, hurry!" If I embarrassed myself it was worth the alarm to others to get outside. How could you let anyone miss something so beautiful? When I think about it there are dozens of remarkable images inside of a day here: whether it's a hummingbird nest in a neighbor's tree, a shark-whale in Puerto Escondido, an acacia tree in full bloom, a spatter of raindrops that lasts ninety seconds. Maybe because life here is so slow and modern-day distractions so few that we all have to look more closely at the show nature puts on.

Someone asked me recently, "What do you do here all day?" Some days not much at all, I answer sheepishly. I always feel guilty for my abundance of leisure time because: #1. I'm too young to be retired. And #2. I always think I should be filling my days with philanthropic works to counterbalance my abundant leisure time, but I never do because I'm basically private and somewhat non-social.

Besides schooling and supervising our daughter, I guess you could say I spend most of my time here just watching things. When I get tired of reading or surfing the internet I find myself outside with no purpose in mind but to wander. I like to ride my bike through Nopolo or take my camera out scouting for things to photograph. I might catch a glimpse of a pack of desert dogs hiding in the brush. Quail and an occasional roadrunner will nervously scramble across my path. I might encounter a stray burro or find someone's horse tied to a tree. I'll hear the tinkering bell of a goat on the hill beside the Carretera or the hum of a swarm of bees as I pass under a mesquite tree. Along the estuary I'll see fish leap from the water or pelicans dive-bombing. In Agua Viva I'll notice a house has been painted thus marking progress for the homeowners there. Avocado green, papaya, mango, tomato, one by one the palette is beginning to fill out.

The highlight of my day is the hour-long walk Robert and I take at sunset. We have a route we created that takes us along the length of the golf course and around the estuaries. Often-times, we start so late that we see both the sunset and the dark blanket of stars before we arrive home. It always seems that Orion's belt is right above our house when we reach the front door. I've never been so intimate with the stars than I have here in Loreto. They practically scream at you to look above. I now think I understand the ancients who studied them. In dark skies the stars and planets are a presence not to be ignored. Here our vision is captivated by the beautiful sunset against the mountain range only to be further entranced by the night sky that follows. We feel one with nature, or maybe we feel insignificant against nature for a few contemplative moments before turning inside only to spoil the effect by plopping down for few hours of mind-numbing cable television.

So my time here vacillates between meaningful contemplations and mindless distractions. Just like back home. And that's what I do with my time. Maybe my life, too.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

La Paz get-away

I'm way behind on my posting. I'll start with the trip to La Paz we took around the third week of April. The intent was to meet our friends, the Browns, after their sailing jaunt that took them from mainland Mexico to the La Paz marina. They had been on the Sea of Cortez for a couple of months and were in La Paz to prepare for the sail back to Loreto. The plan was for Robert and Allison to climb on-board while Ann and I drove their car back to Loreto. The crew would island hop up the gulf ending at Puerto Escondido four days later. A nice introduction to sailing for beginners.

The Browns recently purchased their boat with plans to spend the next year sailing throughout the gulf. It's an experience they want to enjoy as a family, island hopping, living minimally, freely. It's also an exercise in space management: it's a 35-ft boat, not much room to roam. Our Airstream is smaller than that, but we have the option of stepping onto land when we get the urge--and there's no sea-sickness. Also, being on the water requires full-time attention: once we're parked and set up we're done. I think part of the appeal for them is that team effort that is necessary to keep a boat afloat. Their children are gaining skills and confidence being part of the crew. Everybody has a task to perform.

While in La Paz we stayed at the El Moro on the Malecon; not a bad spot and very close to the Marina. We had two great meals at local restaurants, one the name I never got, but the other called, Caprichos, right off the square where the cathedral stands. The most memorable meal, however, was the deep-fried hot dog from Sam's Club. Yes, what's a trip to La Paz without a Sam's run? I forgot to mention that we caught a ride to La Paz with our good friends and neighbors, the McCormicks. We spent a day following them around on their shopping adventures. We spent practically a whole afternoon in Home Depot lounging at one point around a patio setting in the outdoor section. I actually forgot I was in Mexico until we stepped outside again.

On a side note: The Browns drove us to a magical spot south of La Paz called, Gran Sueno. We were surprised at the luxury of this hidden resort in the middle of nowhere. It was essentially a mini-kingdom built by a real estate magnate from San Diego. Gorgeous grounds, a grand playroom with a miniature train running under the ceiling, an immaculate horse stable with a handful of well-groomed horses, tennis courts, a golf course, a chapel, and a swimming pool with a rock slide were just a few of the amenities. The place was created by someone with family fun in mind--definitely a person who values kids and playfulness. We spent the whole day there lunching, lounging, exploring. It is definitely a place I would like to re-visit. The next day Ann and I saw the crew off and headed back towards Loreto.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baja is for the Birds

I've recruited our new friend, Tom, to share his expertise in birds with Allison and add something of interest to her schoolwork. God knows, I'm not a good teacher, but I can sure scout out talent in others. Once I discovered Tom's passion for birdwatching, I was after him to share it with her. First, I arranged for she and one of her friends to follow him on a nature walk around the lake of the golf course. We followed a week later with trip to the Las Garzas estuary in Loreto. This time Robert and a neighbor joined us as Tom led us through the damp mudflats pointing out royal terns and reddish egrets, semi-palmated plovers and yellow-crowned night herons. I couldn't remember the names of any of them, and I'm not sure anyone else could; it takes practice I think. Tom has a website that comes in handy for identifying Baja's fowl:

I believe this little guy is a snowy egret, but then I could be wrong. Tom will let me know, I'm sure.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's raining, I think

Look closely. Yes, those are raindrops. Very rare for Loreto. Unless there is a hurricane rain falls sparse and rare. I think it rained for 30 seconds.

You don't see it from the sky; the only proof is the faint, almost imperceptible wet drops it leaves on the sidewalk or, in this case, the saltillo tiles.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Loreto Bay Masters

Robert and friends put together a golf tournament they called, "The Loreto Bay Masters," inspired by the real thing they watched this past week. They made it a fundraiser for the community center and in the four days they (we, since I got recruited to help too) had to organize it, it turned out very well. Small, but successful, I think. We had five teams and a handful of sponsors to raise enough money to buy bookshelves for the clubhouse. With some planning and more time next year's "Masters" will be huge.The day was absolutely beautiful. Allison and I took a cart and followed everyone so I could get pictures. For the most part we followed Robert's team. One of the members is an avid birdwatcher so all the way he was pointing out birds for Allison to view through his binoculars. While the guys were trying for "birdies" she was searching out the Vermillion Flycatchers and Magnificent Frigates. In some sense she was still "at school." Two other kids who are always "at school" are the Fager boys. They helped out on their parents beverage cart. Evan and Julie operate a tiny general store in the village called, Baja Onsite. Still just pre-schoolers, they spend most of their days underfoot at the store. They will probably grow up to be tycoons in commerce with all the hands-on experience they're already getting.

Robert's team won the event and the green "Masters" jackets, which in this case were Mexican ponchos. I teased him that it was like giving a party and winning your own door prize. However, I don't imagine these men will ever wear these ponchos in public again. Whatever--the day was a lot of fun and we did raise a nice sum for the community center.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter in Loreto Bay

When is the last time you saw kids hunting easter eggs among palms and bougainvillea? It's something the Mexicans never see; the don't celebrate Easter the way we do, not with baskets full of candies and a stuffed bunny. This was the third time we've been here during Easter, thus our third time hosting an egg hunt. I have to pack several dozen plastic eggs whenever we come because you'd never find them in Loreto. Knowing we would be hosting the party at our new community center I brought an entire suitcase full of Easter paraphernalia. I wanted to dress the place up and create an event. There may not be a lot of children here, but at least to those that are, we'd offer something fun and familiar. If we corrupt a few Mexican children with our candy-laden, secular, consumer-driven traditions, oh well. Our experience has shown that they love it. The same participants keep showing up. I'm afraid they'll expect it from now on. One Mexican couple shared their difficulty explaining to their three little sons exactly what is an easter egg hunt. "Are the eggs big or little?" one boy asked. " Are they hidden in nests?" They had no conception whatsoever of plastic eggs. Stuffed with candy. And money. Hidden like treasure in the landscaping. Once properly explained, they were all for !Feliz Pascua!, American-style!

We held an Easter social at the new community center (#306.) Homeowners and invited guests brought baked goods and socialized for awhile before heading to the big egg hunt at the community pool. It wasn't a huge gathering, but we did have over a dozen children show up.

Robert slipped out early to hide the eggs at the pool. The rest of us paraded the kids over around 2:30 (about the same time the big earthquake hit the upper Baja, but we didn't feel or notice a thing.) The pool area was completely full of neighbors who did not seem to mind our intrusion. The kids just scrambled in and around the occupied chaise lounges in frantic search for their loot. Somewhere in the bushes lie an egg with a folded $100 bill. It's a tradition Robert has followed since he became the Easter Bunny in our clan and one that boosts attendance. This year the lucky discoverer was Evan and Julie's son, Bubbie. We don't think he even knows what $100 dollars is, but we're sure he'll be at next year's party.

For a look at the Loreto Bay 2010 Easter Party go to my Flickr page:

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Finally, it's here.

Finally, a community center! This was something I've desired since the beginning phase of Loreto Bay: A place to meet and hold events. Thanks to homeowner Camille Kelly, we actually have a center in which to hold events. She convinced our HOA administrator to include it in the budget. Then she gathered donations for furnishings, found an employee to man the facility, organized a schedule, and has been serving as acting general manager until new administration takes over. She and her husband, Boyd, have taken on a lot of responsibility for the rest of us. I believe as people discover it they will share my excitement.

The space is in the commercial portion of Alta #306 on west side of the Paseo. It can be used in so many ways for so many interests. With the HOA budget and homeowner donations Camille has furnished it with a nice conversation area with bookshelves and upholstered sofas. A generous homeowner donated a large flat screen television. There are numerous folding tables that can be used for card games, parties or dining. Another homeowner donated numerous hard back books, mostly classics, that can be lent. She also has given several high-quality Persian rugs on long-term loan. Donors gave paperbacks, games, screens, plants. There is more needed, but we are off to a great start. In time the center will have a website. There people can go for information and schedules. Camille is working to acknowledge the donors and create ways to raise funds to further the center's growth and needs. In the meantime those of us here can enjoy what it does offer: a social space to host events or meetings, a comfy spot to read a great book, or listen to music or watch a little television.

My annual goats-on-the-golf-course posting

Another common sight: goats on the golf course.

Apparently, they serve a purpose, even if it is just keeping the sand traps clear of vegetation.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

My annual road-kill posting

Not an entirely uncommon sight on the highway near Loreto. I've always heard that in Mexico if you hit livestock you are responsible to pay its owner. Don't know if that's true, but it might explain these "hit-and-runs."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dolphins in training

We took our friends and neighbors, the Marsings, on a boat outing today. We headed to Puerto Escondido for gas and then over to Honeymoon Bay on Danzante Island where there were a lot of mother dolphins and calves. I think they like the protected and calm area around Danzante where they can teach their young. We tried to get photos, but I found it difficult to catch one in flight. I got a lot of shots of tails mostly. They are all so young and not yet as robust and acrobatic as the mature dolphins you see further out. As they mature they get more playful around a speeding boat where they will ride the bow and leap high into the air.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In a neighborhood such as Loreto Bay giving directions to one's house is difficult. Although the alleys are named, no one seems to remember or know what the are. In fact I don't even know what ours is called. There is probably a plaque on the opposite end on some side of another house.

Our general description is that we are on the Paseo alongside the commercial spaces, a few blocks down from Evan and Julie's general store toward the hotel in the white house with all the bicycles out front and beside probably the biggest monster ficus tree on the boulevard. "Oh, that tree!" The tree threatens to overtake our home; it grows by bounds every year and to my knowledge hasn't been groomed since the LB development began. It's also the gathering place of the neighborhood's feathered creatures. We are awakened by the riot of what sounds like a thousand chattering birds each morning.

At least we have landscaping. Overall our home and surrounding environs are in a finished state and that feels nice after the first few years of perpetual construction and dust. Now all we complain about is the barren state of the Paseo hoping that it will be paved someday soon. We met a family last week that just took possession of their home in Agua Viva. They were so elated even if they were living through major construction all around them. That's kinda the way it has to be in the beginning years here, but little by little it's coming together. I sense things growing more solid regardless of the development being stymied by ownership issues. Homeowners I know appear relaxed and reassuring about the future of this village.

Loreto has noticeably improved over the five years we've owned our home. The streets and parts of the highway are improved. The stores are stocking more items we desire. The newly opened terminal at the airport is impressive and functional. Closer to home, Evan and Julie's store is a godsend. How nice it is to walk a few blocks for a half gallon of milk or a bag of ice. They even have Grey Poupon! The Community Center is open and running, thanks in great part to Camille Kelly. There is a committee working to organize its functions. It's open for various activities like Zumba and bridge games and anything else homeowners would like to see happen. Its a good start.

By the way, my husband and I are hosting an Easter social this Sunday at 1:00pm. Just a casual occasion to stop in, eat a cookie, say hello to a neighbor and if you have little ones--join in on an easter egg hunt. If you're coming bring two dozen of something sweet to share.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whale watching

We took the boat out on a search for whales yesterday. Between Coronado and Carmen Island we encountered a pod of what I believe was fin whales. There may have been five or more; it's hard to get a correct count when they don't all emerge together! I'm sure they weren't blue whales which are much larger and thicker. These whales didn't seem to mind our presence, though they weren't the least bit interested in us like gray whales can be.
The one photograph I captured of a whale's head was overexposed, so I've converted it to b/w to see better. Maybe someone who's certain about the identification can confirm or correct my guess of fin whale.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The view from here

Loreto again! After many months home in the States, we find ourselves back in the warm sun and under the perpetual blue skies of Baja California. No decompression time needed--we were straight to the swimming pool, our ghostly white bodies attracting every UV ray in the vicinity.

Getting here was no piece of cake. We couldn't find available seats on Alaska Airlines so we took the back door in to Baja via American Airlines from Kansas City through Dallas to San Jose Del Cabo where we would spend the night before boarding a 12-passenger plane on AeroCalafia to Loreto the next day. We stayed the night at the lovely and quaint Tropicana in San Jose Del Cabo. In the morning the front desk phoned promptly at 7:45 a.m. to announce the arrival of our driver. He loaded us up and off we went to the airport. However; I did not realize that there are actually two airports in Cabo. Our taxi dropped us off at the larger airport in San Jose Del Cabo. AeroCalafia flies out of a smaller airport in Cabo San Lucas. Now we had only one hour to get there. Off we raced in a taxi that kept stalling at stop lights requiring us to transfer midway into another one. Our new driver, genuinely concerned with delivering us on time, raced through back streets avoiding construction zones and street lights, but I never felt anxious. This is Mexico--everything is an adventure. I mentally began imagining Plan B which consisted of another night in Cabo, this time closer to the little airport. Allie's faith in Mexico insisted on the positive: "Mom, we're going to make it." Once I saw our driver making the sign of the cross which made me grin big for his determination. Now I wanted us to make it for his sake alone.

We made the airport five minutes before the plane was to take off. And the amazing and wonderfully Mexican thing is: they waited for us. Somehow we, our five pieces of overweight luggage (for which we were charged $187USD extra), and our tousled little dog managed to get on-board. The plane, a Cessna Caravan (I think it's called) was actually a nice, comfortable ride. I had fretted a bit about being a passenger in a Mexican operated airline. In all things Mexican, I'm wary regarding safety standards. The night I booked the flight I actually spent an hour or more pouring over YouTube videos on "How to land a small plane in an emergency"as if I could prepare myself for the worst. But once in the air, after some observations that the rivets in the wing looked firm and the the wheels in the landing gear weren't flat and the six other passengers were complacent and nodding off to sleep, I relaxed. Our pilot seemed competent enough (he was always adjusting or moving some lever which made him appear alert enough to me.)

We flew at a fairly low altitude which allowed me study the terrain below, a welcome distraction. I examined the shapes and characteristics of the peninsula wondering what formed the mesas and coastal mountains I was seeing. Was it plate tectonics? Volcanic? Was it all underwater and rise? Or did most of it sink into the sea leaving just this narrow boney finger of landmass? Where was Google when I needed it? At one narrow point along the peninsula I could see both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. One big Pacific wave could certainly reach the other shore, couldn't it? What a strange barren land. Is there anything alive out there? And then suddenly, we were above familiar territory. There is life ahead: the islands Monserrat and Danzante on the right and the jagged peaks of the Sierra La Giganta on the left, the boats in Puerto Escondido and suddenly the green spread of Loreto Bay, a little dot of emerald in the dried-mud pallet. Hurray. Home.

Really? I'm cheering for this, my second home, my adopted home most unlike my first in every way. It exists for my pleasure and survives my neglect. How did I ever find it in this weird spiny backbone of earth? Odd as it seems I claim it as belonging to me. I know I have some ownership of it, but that's an arbitrary claim. I've staked it, but it's too wild to be tamed. I see that from here in the air. From up here its obvious. My home is in a precarious state of vulnerability. We can build walls and roofs and swimming pools and the appearance of containment, but we are living in a remote and barren piece of earth. All the real living is at its edge--in the sea. Without the sea it might as well be Mars.

But now we're landing and the focus changes. The elements of the living fill my scope and snap me out of this trance. Palm trees and an airport terminal. A couple of Mexican soldiers on the tarmac. Security personnel and baggage checks. Order and processes. A green lawn and streetlights. A refrigerator and a half gallon of cow's milk. That's the view of home from down here. We're home. We're safe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Putting it to rest

Now that we are settled back home I will not be posting for awhile. I can't see why anyone would be too interested in our day-to-day activities now that we are not Airstreaming nor hanging our in Loreto. As far as living in Baja California, we are not planning any more long stays. Allison is enrolled in school here in our home town. It's time to settle down a bit after four years "on the road."

We are planning another foray on the road next summer. We would like to take our Airstream on an eastern route, maybe through the Appalachian mountains and up the eastern coast into Canada. I'll want to journal our travels so I expect I'll start blogging again. But till, then I'm going underground. I'm happy to be home among old friends and my grown sons.