Monday, December 28, 2015

Mesa, Julian, and Mexico!

      Our next chapter of the adventure takes us from Utah to Mexico.  We departed Zion NP and traveled east to the Lee's Ferry Campground on the Colorado River.  We traveled US 89A which is quite scenic, but be advised because the change in elevation can fool you.  What looks like a forested ridge actually rises to 7986' and when not in summer can be frosty.  Lee's Ferry is the large "take out" or "put in" on the river depending on where you are coming or going.   This is a very nice 54 space campground with a dump station and potable water (except in winter).  We did backtrack 5 miles into Marble Canyon where the Chevron gas station was very generous letting us fill our RV water tank for free.  The groceries we did pick up made up for the cost savings, but that's life.  Cost here for Seniors?  Damned near free ($8).  Picnic tables, fire pits, and shaded shelters (for summer) overlooking the river amongst a beautiful red canyon.  Cell signal is amazingly fair to good.  A nice spot. 
       Leaving Lee's Ferry to the east you cross the Navajo Bridge.  The older, original bridge still stands for historical value, but you can walk across if you'd like.  Me?  NO!  It's 470' above the Colorado River.  Barb said it was a spectacular view.  The next 2 days we stayed at Rancho Sedona RV Park ($$) in Sedona, AZ.  We had planned to boondock SW of town and explore the area, but  I came down with a nasty stomach flu and spent the entire stopover in bed.  Have to come back here one day.   
      We spent 5 days in Mesa, AZ at Usery Mountain Regional Park, about 3 miles north of my cousin's house. This is one of several Maricopa County Regional Parks that provide a myriad of recreational opportunities.  We have camped here before, enjoying the beautiful desert scenery at the base of the mountains.  Camp sites are very nice and provide firepits, electricity, water, and easy walking distance to one of several bathroom/shower buildings.  There is a central dump station on the way out.  There is also an archery range and 29 miles of hiking trails.  The scenery and proximity to town are worth the $30 per night tag.  It is here that we got the necessary USDA paperwork and health certificates to transport Roux and Bones into Mexico next week.   We were thrilled to discover $1.69 unleaded gas and only $2.09 for my beloved diesel; the lowest prices of the trip! 
      Departing Mesa we headed SW to Yuma, AZ for an overnight boondock at WalMart then on to our next destination of Julian, CA.  There are 7 BLM camping areas in the Yuma area, but a quick water up at a Love's Truck Stop and then on to Wal Mart for some 'Barb Shopping' was determined to be the order of the day.  The truck stop was FULL of nearly 100 semi trucks and a quick check of diesel prices revealed the answer.  Diesel is a full 40 cents cheaper per gallon in Arizona than just 3 miles west in California. 
      Marcee Wheaton is another treasured classmate of mine from Tumwater High.  Finding and keeping in touch with these folks has been for me perhaps the best part of Facebook.  Marcee recently retired from a career with the San Diego County Court system and is quite the accomplished artist as well.  She lives in the community of Julian, CA., a beautiful location sitting high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of San Diego.  This community is rich in gold mining and other cultural history. The drive up the 'Sunrise Highway' is incredibly beautiful and a bit wider with less switchbacks than highway 79.  We had originally planned to moochdock at her place, but the drive and trees were so narrow that it prohibited this idea so we stayed at the Pinezanita RV Park just outside of town. Very nice park and fairly reasonable at $34/night.  

      Marcee showed us the town and area as well as an enjoyable lunch.   I did thoroughly enjoy surprising Marcee by cooking Cajun Shrimp n Grits for her and Barb on our day off.  It was a fun evening.  The next morning I was a bit surprised at the "Check Engine" light on my truck display.  We just had our 50,000 mile checkup 2 months ago as well as some major work last April.  It was nothing I was expecting.  I took it to the local auto repairman who did check it out with his 
computer scanner and discovering that it was a computer gliche and reset it for me at no charge.  A BIG SHOUT OUT TO PETE'S AUTO REPAIR in Julian, CA.  2 hours later we set up camp in El Centro, CA waiting for our departure into Mexico the next day. 
      My old high school,  Mike Hayes, met us in El Centro during the midst of his shopping extravaganza and escorted us back across the border and 120 miles south to San Felipe on the eastern shores of Baja California on the Sea of Cortez.   It is a pretty easy 2.5 hour drive on a very good Mexico Hwy 5.  Mike has a beautiful hacienda in the Eldorado Ranch area of San Felipe.  It is a solar home so I was very interested in all the tech-no-geek aspects of that. 

      Since we both run off solar, power was sympatico.  Mike filled my water tank off his 2000 gallon sistern tank and he even had a dump for waste water when we departed.  We just settled in and enjoyed perhaps the finest RV setting ever. 
      San Felipe is a fishing village on the east coast of Baja California.  The area thrives on it's shrimp harvest.  It is at the end of one of the countries major highways.  This is a major commercial and sport fishing area, but unfortunately the country has put a moratorium on the commercial fishing industry for the next 3 years resulting in a pretty extreme hardship on the local economy.  Still they depend heavily on the 3,000 Americans (out of the 20,000 total population) as the sole cornerstone on any and all income. 



        We ate out several times as it is SO INEXPENSIVE.  The average meal for four of us totaled $23.  This includes some very good Mexican food with beverages. I really loved their fish tacos!  Barb loved any Mexican meal with tacos, tamales, or nachos as they always use real beef slices either from brisket or steak.  Hamburger is never used.  Our last night the four of us went out to 'party' a bit.  We drank beer and mixed drinks for several hours as well as a large plate of nachos for us for $37.  This includes live music!  We made sure to tip the staff as well as the band. 

      We really enjoyed Mexico.  From the border thru the duration of our entire Christmas week and our return we found the people to be incredibly friendly.  Yes, we are tourists, but their warmth is noteworthy and very genuine.   It also helps tremendously to have friends who know their way all over town as well.  Mike and Connie are my oldest friends, having known both of them since grade school, about 50 years.  We had a big wind/dust storm the day before we left and no matter how much you try the RV now has dust EVERYWHERE!  I swear it comes in thru the walls.  We departed San Felipe and crossed the border back into Arizona (without any help this time) for an overnight stay.  The next morning we arrived once again back in Mesa, AZ to restock, do laundry, clean the RV, and get the truck serviced.  After the dust storm that pesky 'check engine' light came on again.  The truck is still running fine, but who the hell knows?   A big THANK YOU to Mike & Connie Hayes as well as all the fine people of Baja California.  We'll be seeing you again one day....

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