Friday, March 4, 2011

Why - Mexico and Almond Tequila

My back was much better on Saturday morning when we pulled out of Indian Skies RV and set off for southernmost Arizona. We decided on the area around Ajo and Why, both tiny dots on the map, because they looked like they were outside the storm zone that was supposed to be approaching, packing high winds and lots of rain.

Ajo turned out to be a mining town with a huge open pit mine right on it’s doorstep so we went a little further down the road to, Why. Don’t ask. It’s nothing but a couple of gas stations and an RV park. The whole thing is on native land so, naturally, there’s a one-room casino attached to our RV park that we never did look inside.

The wind had picked up by the time we got set up so we decided to drive down the road to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It was so windy and cold when we got there that I never even got out to take a picture of the famed Organ Pipe Cacti. They’re cool though. Big, with lots of arms. The US has put aside 33,000 acres to protect the unique ecosphere there and the Mexicans have protected an equal amount of land on their side of the border. Because there are so many different kinds and shapes of cacti in the area, it kind of delivers the sensation of driving along the ocean floor.

Pictured are the Little Ajo Mountains on the road to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

The wind and heavy rain buffeted the trailer well into the night but, by morning, the sky was cloudless once more.

On Sunday we took Interstate 8, moslty through scrubby desert, stopping in Dateland for lunch. Right after we got back on the road a rogue wind came out of nowhere and jolted the truck and trailer halfway into the other lane. The unit jack-knifed a little too, and then it was over. We've driven three-quarters of the continent, through some big wind storms, but we hadn't experienced anyhting like that. I pulled over because I thought we had blown a tire or something. Nothing. It was just the wind.

We ended up at the Desert Holiday RV Park in Yuma but it doesn't have wireless internet or any TV reception so we went scouting around for someplace we might be able to stay for a week or so.

Yuma is very dry and warm and has grown a lot in the thirteen years since we’ve been here.

One thing that hasn't changed though are the fighter jets practicing overhead. There’s a huge Air Force base just north of Yuma and the Marines Air Training Ground is just on the other side of the commercial airport here, not far from us. Some repairs were being made to one of those new 787 commercial monster jets the other day and we got to see it lumbering into the sky with a fighter jet on it’s tail, presumably looking to make sure everything was in order. Memorable.

Janice’s brother, Gordon, sent us a picture of about a foot of new snow in North Van today. Ouch.

On Monday we found a better spot at Mesa Verde RV Resort, just up the road, and booked in for a week. It’s a good thing too because, I have no idea why, but I put my back out again, this time on the other side. Mesa Verde has two pools and two hot-tubs, all in one area and all maintained at different temperatures. It’s perfect for loosening up the muscles.

Pictured are clouds over Mesa Verde RV Park.

We had just set up camp and put the awning out when another of those rogue, split-second winds lifted our awning out of it’s arms and whipped it over the trailer. This often results in a $1,000, or more, incident for RV owners. We were lucky. It ripped the bolts out of their brackets instead of ripping the awning material itself. Our neighbours from Comox, Ed and Monika, helped us with some temporary repairs and then we sat and had cocktails with them as the sun went down.

There are a lot of Canadians in the park. We met one couple from Kamloops and, reportedly, there are a couple more.

The next morning we went and got some new bolts for the awning - one size larger - and some wood glue. I covered toothpicks in wood glue and then shoved five of them into each bolt hole before putting in the newer, larger bolts. There will be a lot of stress on them but I’m hoping that the fix will work.

Later, we took a bike ride around old Yuma and along the Canal Trail before going for lunch at The Mad Chef Restaurant where we bantered with a bunch of other Canadians and chowed down on huge meals. Sirloin Tips and Noodles for me, with Salad, and A Rueben with Fries for Janice. As soon as we saw the portions, we kicked ourselves for not splitting something instead.

Pictured are: The bike trail on the Colorada River in Yuma and the mission that overlooks the historical Yuma Territorial Prison.

At dinner time, still full from lunch, we just had some salad.

Yuma is right on the Arizona/California border. Seven miles into California is a crossing into Algadonez, Mexico, which is famed for quality, inexpensive dentistry. Patients pay roughly a quarter of what you might pay in Canada or the U.S. There are many, many dental offices as well as pharmacies and optical places. Thousands of Canadians and Americans flock over the border every day, (you can walk in from a massive parking lot owned by the natives) for cheap eyeglasses, prescriptions, dentures and dental work.

We had a couple of hours to kill before my dentist appointment so we strolled the shops, fending off aggressive but humorous shop owners and other commissioned salespeople. Now that Janice speaks Spanish well enough to converse with them, it was fun. Janice bought a light jacket that started out at $35 and she got for $16 while I got a ball cap with hair on top for $5 - they wanted $12. You never know when when you might need that kind of thing for playing the Cajon.

We went to the Pacifico Plaza for breakfast and then to the dentist where she used a drill to shave off the top of the tooth that was bothering me. It took about 10 minutes and she charged me $25.00. The waiter talked us into coming back for a Marguerita after the dentist so we watched the Mexican hustlers taking advantage of Marguerita-swilling tourists.

Pictured is the Pacifico Plaza in Algadonez where we went for breakfast before the dentist appointment and then for a Marguerita after.

Back at the park, we hung around the pools for a bit and then imbibed in the Almond Tequila that we had picked up south of the border - $7 for a Twenty-Sixer. We hadn't had the stuff since we were in Algodonez years ago and had forgotten just how tasty it was.

The neighbours had brought a few people for happy hour and asked us to join them.

We sat for an hour or so before splitting for dinner. Later, Janice and I lit a small fire and, the same neighbour's, Ed and Monika O'Farrel, from Comox joined us. We discovered that Ed and I had both attended St. Edmunds Catholic School in North Van, two years apart. I'm two years older but he had a sister my age. We never did get to the Sixth Degree, (maybe too much Almond Tequila) but I'm sure we will.

As I send this I'm feeling slightly fuzzy...


  1. Once again, I read every word. What memories you are building! Happy Trails are still ahead.
    We are planning Auntie Julia's 100th on Apr 09! ljc

  2. Hey guys - just wanted to say hi. We will have to have a pool party on your return and you can regale us with all types of stories of your travels. Peace