Musings and Info about life on the road

Settling in……

We are now settled in pretty well here at Club Roca Azul outside of Jocotepec. The traumas of the trip down have faded and have been replaced by minor day to day issues in the process of acclimated to a new local….. much less a foreign country. Our biggest new adventure was our first trip to Guadalajara and its 4 million inhabitants.

Again the driving was, shall we say. hectic. As our new neighbor Steve told us, you have to consider traffic signs, lanes, signals, and stop signs not as hard and fast rules but as suggestions.  Steve has lived around this area for years and is a wealth of knowledge. He gave us the grand tour the other day of all the nearby lakeside towns, and their secrets. It was a fun day.

Here are some pictures of Club Roca Azul:

The scary clown sliding board:

The Pool:

Our neighbor:

An old lighthouse that is part of Roca Azul with Lake Chapala in the background:

Lake Chapala looking towards Ajijic:

Here are some shots of the town square in Jocotepec:

Templo Del Señor Del Monte:

We’re not in Kansas anymore!!!


Self Exiled and Moving to México…….Part 3

Let’s see. Where were we?…….

The next morning in Matehuala we got up early intending to have another early start on our exodus to Jocotepec. Circumstance had a different plan for us. There were no more signs of a gas leak, although I  didn’t know the cause of leak yet, only that it had stopped. We got ready for the road and as we closed the room slide it came in crookedly. Hmmmm…..not good. Went to reopen the slide and it wouldn’t budge……REALLY.  NOT.  GOOD.  After mucho head-scratching and more, I crawled underneath to see what was going on. It wasn’t difficult. One of the gears on slide shaft had become disconnected, probably rattled apart, and I was able get it tightened and reconnected. Slide came in…..we were on our way!

The rest the day was a repeat of the previous day. Hot…. shake, rattle and roll, …… take the toll roads whenever possible. We stopped at an Oxo convenience store in late afternoon outside of Guadalajara. Jocotepec was an hour away. The original plan was to stop for the night in this area, but we decided to press on. I fired up the coach to leave only to find out that the automatic transmission wouldn’t engage when I took it out of park, or so I thought because the gear indicator wouldn’t move. It was good we don’t have a gun……for at that point of the trip, I’d have used it on myself.

Kay wrote up a brief description of what was the matter into her phone translator and went into the store to try to explain why we were parked there, and find help. She came back in a few minutes with a young man who happened to hear her story and he offered to see if he could help. It turned out that he worked as a mechanic for Cummings and spoke English. He made a few calls and found out that the transmission was okay. It was just the indicator that was broken, and by counting the clicks the shifter made you could still drive. We thanked him profusely and offered to pay him. He told Kay that he had a grandmother and hoped that someone would do the same for her someday. So, we tried to pull ourselves together and pressed on. We had already disconnected the car from the coach while at the Oxo so Kay and the dogs followed my lead with the car.

Lake Chapala soon came into view as we arrived in the lakeside town of Ajijic. Jocotepec and the Club Roca Azul  where we were to stay for at least a month was about 20 kilometers and two dozen topes away. It was Friday night and there was mucho traffic. On we went. We got to Jocotepec around 6:30 p.m.. I missed a sign for a truck route around Jocotepec and was sucked into the center of town. The narrow road became a very narrow street. By that I mean that mean a street that was a two opposing narrow lanes with parking on one side. To top it off the power lines were just inches above the rig’s roof and the poles were right on the curb edge.

The street seemed endless. I was concentrating on staying clear of oncoming traffic, topes, and power/phone lines when I brushed into a phone pole, ripping off the side rearview mirror, and large pieces of the awning.

😱  About that gun?

People in the neighborhood and from nearby businesses came running to help us pick up the pieces and put them in the car. Luckily the phone pole was still standing and no wires were down although Kay said they did wave about and bounce up and down on our roof when I hit the pole.

Fortunately we were the only one damaged, and as there were no sirens audible we drove on to our new home at Roca Azul a few miles away without any further incidents. Our slide came out, and the next day I found and fixed the propane issue. The awning however was trashed.

A few days later after the dust settled and we stopped twitching……

Nuestra Nueva Casa (with West Highland Chihuahuas! 😉)

It has been two weeks since we arrived here and we are finally pretty well decompressed.  ¡Mañana!






Self Exiled and Moving to México…….Part 2

After we were finished with our winter employment at Organ Pipe Cactus National Mnument, we slowly wended our way to Laredo, TX via Huachuca City AZ, Deming NM, and Artesia NM (where we put our rig in storage and made a side trip in the car to South Dakota to renew our drivers licenses returning to Artesia by way of Grand Junction, CO) then on we went to Amistad Reservoir TX, and finally Laredo;

The trip to Laredo was almost as exhausting as that last sentence. We visited with our friends Bill and Pat while we were in Artesia, and gave the old Bounder (not Bill) a new coat of rubberized roof sealant at Amistad.

Having reached Laredo, whose motto should be: “Only if you have no other option”, we spent time resting up, and getting all of the crossing the international border permits, visas, moneys, and insurance. When we completed those details we were set to go for departure to Jocotepec and the Lake Chapala area in the Republic of México on Thursday, May 18th.

Here is a map of our journey

We took the grey part of the route from Saltillo so we could overnight in Matehuala.

We got on the way a bit before day break to fill up on propane. All gassed up we then drove to the Columbia border crossing on the Rio Grande to the northwest of Laredo as the crossings in Laredo are supposedly nightmares. Arriving at Columbia we had a 45 minute delay for some reason unknown, but we were the only travelers at that time.

Everything went smoothly. We had a drug sniffing dog check us out, our papers were in order, and I got to drive the rig into a huge X-ray machine and stood behind a very large lead shield. We passed the checkout. I think the customs people were bored and need some amusement. And as further proof of that, while a drug sniffing German Shepard was doing what he does, one of the other custom’s men asked Kay for our dog’s leashes and walked them around our rig and had them sniff for drugs too. Other customs folks came out and took pictures of the drug sniffing Westies. Funny stuff indeed. The only thing amusing that happened for the next two days.

We tried, wherever possible, to take the toll roads for a variety of reasons. They are relatively new with four lanes and shoulders as opposed to the two lane free roads and shoulders that are non existent…. the shoulder having been replaced by a drop-off of say a couple of inches to what looked like a foot. The road surfaces varied from rough to abysmal. It reminded me of driving into Chaco Canyon except that these weren’t dirt roads.

So on the first day we went shaking and rattling in 90 degree temps from Laredo, to Monterrey, to Saltillo and finally Matehuala. We stayed at a roadside motel in Matehuala that has spots for Motorhomes. We ate diner at the motel’s restaurant and when we got back to the rig we could smell and hear propane leaking, luckily, from the outside of the coach. I shut the tank down and we went to bed. The best was yet to come on the morrow.

To be continued…….


Self Exiled and Moving to México ………Part 1

What’s happening….?

Well, it’s been over a year since I have posted anything to this blog. Life became had become a bit repetitious and routine working in places like these:

We had been looking for a change of scenery but we lacked the motivation to do so. Then came the election of El Loco Naranja! Suddenly we had motivation and a destination…..Mexico. Kay had been researching living in Mexico for a long while and had been looking at the Lake Chapala area outside of Guadalajara in the mountains. We left our last volunteer spot which was again at Organ Pipe Cactus N.M. in Arizona at the beginning of April, and two months later with a detour to South Dakota and about 6,000 miles of driving later we are living in Jocotepec, the State of Jalisco, México . It was quite a journey that went very smoothly for the most part. The last leg of the odyssey, from Loredo, TX to Jocotepec was something else.   To be continued ……..


Random Desertness…..

We departed the Huachuca area two weeks ago and headed west by south to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where, by a stroke of good fortune, Kay and I were offered maintenance positions with the Monument until the end of this month when we have to start heading toward Jackson, WY for the summer. Today the desert looked like this:
And this:


Not very deserty looking. But when the sun comes out…..Shazam!






We are in the desert indeed, and loving it. Especially this year,…. since we are now officially Desert Rangers!


Happy Springtime to All…..

Spring is here, finally, and we are on the outskirts of Huachuca City, AZ enjoying the nice, warm, 80 degree days. We have been here for over a week now having successfully towed our Subaru from Las Cruzes. The towing package we had put on works great.

We have mostly been just hanging out, touring, and birding. This past Saturday went to Patagonia Lake State Park,


which is near Nogales, for a birding boat trip that is conducted by friends of ours and co-Bosque Del Apache volunteers John and Betty Olson.


That’s John to the left and Betty to the right.  They guide a wonderful birding tour for the park. All of us on the boat were more than a little impressed.

Patagonia Lake is home to the Elegant Trogon which we saw after the tour was over:


We also gained some life birds – the Gray Hawk, the Zoned-tailed Hawk, and the Black-crowned Night Heron. Here is the Grey Hawk:

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We saw 30 species at Patagonia…..Quite a place! Here are some Common Mergansers just for the fun of it. They were having an exceptionally good hair day.


We left Patagonia around noon and drove north to Tubac, a shopping mecca, for lunch and a look around.



After we left Tubac we headed back home the way we came. Not a lot of roads in these parts. Outside of the Town of Patagonia we came upon this roadside shrine and stopped to take a peek.


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The shrine was built by a family during WWII and is still cared for. Their sons were in the military. Nice.

So, that was Saturday’s adventure….a good one. Mañana we are crossing the border at Nogales for some real shopping fun while we still can…. DONALD!


Already Gone…..

We have finished up our season at the Bosque Del Apache and are now hanging out in Las Cruces, NM waiting to have car towing gear put on our motor home. With that accomplished tomorrow, we hope, Kay and I and the dogs will be able to travel together in the same vehicle. Kay got her first experience driving the Bounder last Friday when we left the Bosque and did quite well. Quite a difference between Subaru and a 32 ft. motorhome to say the least.

We had a good season at the Bosque being with old and new friends and acquaintances. Kay and I survived the extra security measures that were put on us during the Malheur Occupation in Oregon. Soon after the siege was over…. it was time for us to leave. The Cranes and Snow Geese departed


as the trees and willows began to bud out and show some green. The weather warmed up into the 70’s, touching 80 once or twice. With the warmth came a sure sign spring at Bosque….turtles in the canals

IMG_0680and  Flamingoes!


Just kidding. We saw them at the Albuquerque Zoo a few weeks earlier along with these critters:






We will be leaving Las Cruces on Thursday for Arizona and we will be Fort Huachuca area for a while. Then it’s on to Organ Pipe Cactus NM, and Mexico before we have to report for work at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, WY in May. Adios! 


On a Mission to the Missions…..

Two weekends ago on a bright and sunny, but very windy New Mexico Sunday we went on a visit to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in an area around Mountainair, NM. Mountainair is about 80 miles or so northeast of the Bosque. The missions, of which there are three, were built by early 17th.Century Spanish Franciscan Missionaries who were interested in souls and salt. They lasted until the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when the natives here drove the Spanish back into Mexico for 12 years. The revolt’s causes were many, but mainly it was due exploitation of  Pueblo labor, the Franciscan establishment of theocracies in the Pueblo villages, and a bit of the Inquisition thrown in for good measure. And as you know, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!


The first ruin we stopped at is/was called Abó, and it is beautifully located on top of a hill on a high mesa.


All of the missions are quite large in scale, but somewhat rundown. Reconstructed ruins in fact. At this sight we could step aboard the T.A.R.D.I.S and see some artist’s reconstruction of the church and its happy inhabitants.


A rather glamorized and optimistic reconstruction I imagine.

We then drove on to Quarai the next mission on our tour. A different pueblo and mission but the story remains the same.


These ruins are quite large. To give some idea of the scale I occasionally had Kay strike a pose:


She’s hiding in the shadows in this pic:


By the time we got to the third mission, Gran Quivira the winter’s short day was getting late so we didn’t do any exploration there. It was a nice weekend’s jaunt and we arrived safely home to a Bosque sunset.


You can read more about the missions at this link: Salinas Missions


Where Are The Birds….???

Things have been pretty quiet here at the ol’ Bosque since the advent of the new year. We had a decent snow a while back and the weather has gotten colder…below freezing most nights. Here’s proof in pictures taken over a few days during our Snowmageddon:



The ducks in the above photo were hunkered down in the only open water on a 12 degree morning. Brrrrr. The buildings in the center of the picture are the refuge buildings. We live in the motorhome on the right. That same day I espied these two Bald Eagles with their faithful raven companion.


At our camp site, in addition to the multitudes of Crows, Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds, we have had Pine Siskins visiting us for the first time since seeing them at our feeders in Colorado:


And here is a Red-tailed Hawk on a lovely, late afternoon on the Bosque:


One of the most frequently asked questions by visitors here at the Refuge is “Where are the Birds? –  which usually is in reference to the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese whose numbers are down from previous years. It has proven to be a tough question to answer. The birds do what they want to do it seems.

Last weekend Kay, the dogs, and your’s truly drove down to Willcox, AZ on a four day escapade to the Wings Over Willcox birding festival to see the Sandhill Cranes that are supposed to winter over in that part of Arizona by the tens of thousands. And they do indeed! They were everywhere there were farm fields:


along with a javelina friend:


The festival was a good time with a lot of activities. Here are some more pics of the birdies that were about…a Great Egret:


An Acorn Woodpecker:


and a Loggerhead Shrike:


It was a fun weekend and a good break from the daily routine.


Merry Christmas…..

We are wishing each and everyone of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! I came across this poem a while ago and it seemed to be very appropriate for our winter home this year. The poem is by the poet Anne Stevenson: 


“A Carol of Birds”

Feet that could be clawed but are not …
Arms that might have flown but did not …
No one said “Let there be angels!” but the birds

Whose choirs fling alleluias over the sea,
Herring gulls, black backs carolling raucously
While cormorants dry their wings on a rocky stable.

Plovers that stoop to sanctify the land
And scoop small, roundy mangers in the sand,
Swaddle a saviour each in a speckled shell.

A chaffinchy fife unreeling in the marsh
Accompanies the tune a solo thrush
Half sings, half talks in riffs of wordless words,

As hymns flare up from tiny muscled throats,
Robins and hidden wrens whose shiny notes
Tinsel the precincts of the winter sun.

What loftier organ than these pipes of beech,
Pillars resounding with the jackdaws’ speech,
And poplars swayed with light like shaken bells?

Wings that could be hands, but are not …
Cries that might be pleas but cannot
Question or disinvent the stalker’s gun,

Be your own hammerbeam angels of the air
Before, in the maze of space, you disappear,
Stilled by our dazzling anthrocentric mills.

Our Christmas has been a good, if somewhat bittersweet, spent with our friends here at the Bosque. This is the first Christmas since our daughter Emily died, and the feeling of loss became acutely aware to us at this time of year. Also, our friend of many years, Carl Hyde, who we spent many a Christmas with, passed away a short while back and he too is missed.

Turn, Turn, Turn.

We hope you all are in good health, as we are, and again…..MERRY CHRISTMAS!


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