Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Couple Of Quick Pics - West Texas

These pictures represent the things that make me happy in terms of rving and being outdoors.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I Learned A Lot On This Trip - Laredo

We spent the night at the Texas Tourist Center just north of Laredo.  Great evening although we were parked on the east side of the parking area.  The semi lanes were very busy and the constant, psst, psst, psst, of the air whatever drove me nuts.   After went to HEB we parked on the visitor's side.  There were very few if any visitors who came after dark.  We parked laterally over the parking spaces which may be considered a no-no.  As I said, no one came.  It was a pretty quiet night.  Parked just 100 feet from the railroad tracks, the trains never blew their whistle.   We actually slept quite well not to mention the use of the internet for free.

Up early at 6 a.m., we made coffee, shaved and prettied up before heading out.   Still a bit dark, we crossed the number II bridge which ends the I-35 highway.   As I drove to the Mexican side, we took the "nada para declarar" lane.  As I entered, an agent on the other side began flashing his light at us and yelling, "para allá".   I waited and asked him, "por donde vamos".  The area has changed in the last year.  Now you cross the bridge, and if you are not going to Immigration, you turn right before the lanes with the stoplights.   It says, "SAT" and you pull into their patio.  There, they check your paperwork.  Very nice guys and they checked our pedimento or importation papers on line via a handheld device.   He opened the trailer door, looked inside and said we were good to go.  Funny, the first guy with the flashlight, although a bit irritated at first, as he directed us over to SAT, he said, "allí con mis compañeros, los huevones", over there with my lazy coworkers.   We all laughed and knew he was joking.

We took Donaldo Colosio which takes you around to the Holiday Inn Express and the Nuevo Laredo golf course.   Off we went for Monterrey, passing right through the center of the city following the truck route passing transitos and local police without a hitch.   We had debated taking Hwy 40 around to Reynosa and down through Cadereyta but it wasn't worth the time, effort or expense.  

Got to the house at 11:30 a.m., pulled the trailer in on the first try and unhitched.   A well-deserved lunch and a nap.  Time for family visits this weekend.  Only brothers and sisters.  We are having a raffle to see which family will come on what date so that we can accommodate all 120 family members over the summer.  :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Back To Laredo And Then . . .

Yesterday was a fun day visiting Del Rio.   You’re probably wondering what you do in Del Rio but we visited a couple of stores and other areas of Lake Amistad as well.

Last night was very quiet.  Easter festivities ended early and all the picnickers went home.   After six p.m. it was us and the deer.   We watched a movie we had seen before called, The Colony.   It is the story of the military coup in Chile and a flight attendant who is mixed up with a foreigner fighting against the Chilean government.  Based on a true story, it was worth seeing again.  We spent the first part of the evening sitting outside watching the deer approach as but cautiously.

I also made a delicious stove top pizza for dinner.  We don't have an oven but I would gladly trade our microwave for one. 

This morning I visited for a while with the Natl Park ranger who came around to check on things.  A very interesting guy who is a veteran married to a Mexican.   He is bilingual believe it or not.  Meeting him you would never think.   They travel to Mexico quite a bit visiting family in Tepic and Mazatlan.  He used to work for Alcoa in Cuidad Acuña crossing back and forth every day.

We took off around 10:30 and headed here to Laredo.   I wanted to stay in a park with good wifi because Juan likes to post on Facebook with lots of pictures.   We found the park at the crossing of Hwy 83 and 255, Vaquero Rv Park.   Forget it, $40 a night and there is no wifi.   We are risking the noise of semis as well as the trains that pass by with frequency.   We found a good spot I hope we don’t get kicked out of.  Maybe a picture tomorrow and some may criticize but, oh well. 

We checked with the visitor’s center and they said all was good to stay the night so we took a quick 45-minute nap and went into Laredo to buy vitamins and gas up at the HEB.   Gas around here is as high as $3.59 a gallon on Hwy 83 and at HEB it was $2.39.  Worth the 12 mile drive.

We will head home in the morning crossing at the main Laredo bridge off of the I-35.  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Back At Amistad

We had a great time in Alpine Saturday night.   We went out for Mexican food, had a beer here and a beer there.  It's always great meeting up with friends and sharing experiences.   Did you know that the Amtrak stops in Alpine and you can take it to California?  What an adventure that would be.  Rv through West Texas, drop the rv and take the train for a California vacation.

I like the concept of Redbox movies.  You can pick one up and take it with you dropping it off the next day while you are on the road.   $1.89 per movie and they always give you another for only $.75.  What a deal!  We watched, "The Mule" with Clint Eastwood.  Very good.  

On Saturday we drove up to Fort Davis, both the town and the park and did our hike from the fort over to the state park.  We also drove up to the MacDonald Observatory, although we've been to both places it was good to go back.  We spent time in the observatory museum and read about how it was built and the new telescope being built in Chile. 

So we left Alpine yesterday and drove to Amistad.  That was our longest day of driving.   I have two doctor's appointments before we go to Patzcuaro for six weeks.   We arrived to Amistad at 4:30 and the first thing was a nap.   All of the holiday tourists from Del Rio had celebrated and taken off by 6 p.m.  They were pretty good as they left the place 90% free of litter.   It was packed too, lots of fishermen, boaters, and bbqers!  

The nights here are quiet with a slight breeze.  The day trip was hot and close to 90F.  Lots of birds and the deer were out again last night. 

Right now we are in Del Rio at the McDonald's using the wifi and having a senior coffee.   A quick stop by Home Depot to see if we can purchase a new metal shed for the pool filter room.  The other one is 20 years old and shot.   Looks great from the outside but the doors are rusted and no longer work.   Estimates for building a shed run about 14,000 pesos and we can buy this 6 X 8 ft shed, just like the one we have for $269 U.S.   No mess and I won't be putting it together.  

We will spend another night here in Amistad and work our way to Laredo and then head home on Wednesday or Thursday.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Yesterday Alpine, Today Fort Davis Hike

We are in Alpine parked at the Lost Alaska Rv Park.   We got a good deal on the last site.   All the parks are full because of the holiday weekend.  We wanted to do some cleaning, empty the tanks and fill up with water for the trip back across Texas since we will be boondocking.

Yesterday afternoon was spent in Marfa taking in the sights.  Lots to see and do If you like art.  We visited several galleries walked the town but were disappointed that Marfa Burritos was closed.  That was one of our reasons for spending the night there.

The lights were great as usual.  Mike came out and we had a few drinks and watched people watch the lights.  The binoculars would have worked much better if I had remembered to pack them before leaving home. 

Last night we treated ourselves to martinis at the famous Holland Hotel.   It was fun sitting there chatting it up with people around us.  A lively crowd of people, some local and some from faraway places.  The hotel is beautiful and I will post some pictures of that too this weekend.

Gotta run as we are off for a day trip to Fort Davis to do some hiking.  I leave you with some Texas flowers we have seen along the way.   Now to find out more about them and their names. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Marathon - Alpine - Marfa

We spent the night in Marathon parked in front of the library.  The librarian, Darrah, is very friendly and offered us the spot.  Only thing was we had to wait until after the library closed at 6 p.m.  In the meantime, we went to Angie's Snack Shack and split an order of nachos.   Angie's is a wonderful place with very friendly people and we recommend the place.  Like everything in the U.S., it seems expensive to us.  They had a dinner special that was chicken fried steak, potatoes, corn, green beans, cherry pie for dessert and your choice of drink.  A lot of food and I am sure we could have split that. 

The night was super quiet and the moon lit up the streets.  We watch a video, read for a while and hit the hay,.  Slept most of the night until around three a.m. when I heard noises outside.  Probably a do walking around the trailer and his paws hitting the gravel.   I fell asleep and woke up at 7 a.m.  We bought a new French press and it works really well.  

There is a county park in Marathon that is five miles off the highway.  Good paved road and the park has lots of tall shade trees and a river runs through it.  It is a birding spot, fishing is allowed and also swimming at your own risk.   There were only a couple of birders there and a guy fishing with his pup.  The sign on the main drag in Marathon says, County Park, No Camping.  When we got to the park it said camping by permission from the county with a phone number.  We may try it on our way home.  We saw wild turkeys showing off their colors on the road to the park.  Another possible overnight spot.

We headed out to Alpine this morning and we met up with Mike (Wandering).  We chatted for a few and then headed out for lunch at La Casita.  Very good Tex Mex and the conversation was great.  Mike then gave us a tour of Alpine including the golf course, his rv park where he lives and he has a great fifth wheel.  It's obvious he is enjoying his time in Alpine.  We will most likely return to Alpine for a day or two.

We are now in Marfa parked in front of the library.  Excellent wifi signal and pictures are uploading easily.  We've been to the Marfa Lights and have boondocked out there but have yet to come to town until today.  Pretty impressive and there seem to be quite a few touristy places to visit.  We will spend the night out at the lights and then come back into town before heading back to Alpine if that is the plan.

I need to post a blog with all of the wildflowers, cactus, and wildlife.  The Canon is working out well and we are learning more and more as we use it on our trips. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lake Amistad - Langtry - Marathon

Took off yesterday from the casino and headed to Del Rio, Texas.   We picked up a cable in Walmart for the camera and had some lunch before filling up with gas at $2.39 a gallon.  Off we went for Lake Amistad.   We had a great happy hour sitting outside watching the birds, rabbits, and deer.  It was a late night because we watched a good movie, Bird Box.   

This morning I did my hour walking and visited with some rvers before taking off.  It's a great place to relax and enjoy peace and quiet.  

Sunset over Lake Amistad from our campsite.

We're in Langtry right now and heading to Marathon, I think.  We stopped at this one look out to see the canyon as the train was coming through.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Carrizo Springs - Lake Amistad

No pictures yet but I will post some tomorrow.  We spent the first night after crossing the border in Carrizo Springs.  We spent yesterday hanging around the town.   It's dead, the main street only has a couple of businesses open, the rest are shuttered.  We ventured into what is supposed to be an antique store.   It was creeping.   We walked in and it looked like a hoarder's house.  The ceiling is falling in and the insulation hanging down.  As we opened the door, you could see the open ceiling and hear crickets that are up in there.   Then, an old lady came out from behind the counter, scary looking.  She probably thought we were scary too.

Took off and headed to Eagle Pass and stayed at the Kickapoo casino.  They have an rv park and it cost $15 a night and no wifi.  Nope, not for us.   We asked if we could park in the back and check out the casino.  You can't park in the visitor parking lot because they have a barrier over the top that only has a height of 8'5".   The shuttle driver took us around back and said that since it was a Monday there were very few visitors and we could stay for free.  Great!

We went in and signed up for our $10 and gambled off and on during the day.   Broke even but we had a blast.  If you're on Facebook, in the next day or two you'll see some crazy pictures.  Funny place though.  It was a payday so there were quite a few people in the evening.  People on disability and moving around in walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen masks, just kind of strange.  

Checking out the prices of food at the six restaurants and they have a buffet for $9.99,  It was pretty much crap.  It would be worth $3.99 to us.  Everything else was ridiculously expensive.  When you've been to Las Vegas, you understand that the low-priced food is the lure.  

We were parked about 40 meters from the waters of the Rio Grande.  They warned us to be careful even though they have chain-link fencing with barbed wire on top.   Of course, security and border agents were constantly circling around us because of our Mexican plates.  The shuttle lady said, "I don't understand why you'd want to live in Mexico".  Rude.

Got up this morning and got in 8 km of walking before having a nice fruit smoothy.  Slept great.  It's very cool out here at night.   We are at a McDonald's right now having a senior moment, I mean a senior coffee and using the wifi.   In a few, we will take off for Lake Amistad which is about an hour and a half.  We are enjoying the scenery and not worried about making any destination.  That said, Wandering Mike is in Alpine and we'd like to meet up for a meal.  Elephant Mountain WMA is about 45 minutes from there and it looks like a good place to spend a day or two.  You have to have a permit, cost is $12 per person.  We'll never use it again so not sure about that. 

Looking forward to the Marfa lights.   

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Tomorrow - The Long Wait - Laredo

Tomorrow we head out on our two-week trip to West Texas.   Thanks to the U.S. president, wait times at most of the bridges are up to three hours as of today.  Take into account, if you're a foreigner, apart from waiting to cross the bridge, you still have to obtain a permit which can take an additional three hours.  

With the rv in tow, I will have to wait along the side of the offices until Juan gets his permit and we can move on.  There is no privilege, no exceptions including the infamous Ready and Sentry lanes.  They are suffering the same long waits.

Crossing at Colombia will make it a bit easier and less stress as we won´t be driving through Nuevo Laredo.   Even though we are now living the non-neoliberal life in Mexico and the laws of anti-corruption via osmosis have been enacted, I have no confidence or faith.  I only wish I had a dash cam to record any possible extorsion that might take place.   As rvers, it is a rare occasion having U.S. or Canadian plates.   Having Mexican plates changes the whole situation.  Especially now, our wonderful state department of motor vehicles, made the decision two years ago to eliminate the little sticker that has the current year on it.  Trust me, we are prepared.  I was smart enough to get three brochures that state we no longer have the sticker and it has to be recognized by other states under federal law.  You know, sometimes you just want to test the system.

Anyway,  we will update late tomorrow on the length of our wait at the border and any other details that may come our way.   Not sure yet if we are staying at the Laredo Tourist Center north of Laredo or heading through Catarina, Tx where Croft received his speeding ticket on the infamous curve.

I think I may be changing my header on the blog as a memorial to Little Bit, at least for a year.  That famous line from the Shirley Booth movie, Come Back Little Sheba, stays with me.

"She ain't comin' back, is she Doc?"

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mexican Fuel - Pemex Is Dying

I've always said, the government has no business in business.  Pemex is a case study in itself.  It was nationalized in 1938 and the only thing that made it viable in its heyday was the fact that oil prices are higher than they are now.   Pemex has been the country`s "caja chica" or petty cash and we could draw from it whenever we wanted.

I was here in 1984 when the major collapse happened, Lopez Portillo had run the country into the ground, Pemex was dead then and is dead now.  What has changed since then to make it such a white elephant?

We recently discovered that the Mexican general who had been assigned to Pemex to maintain the security of its pipelines had himself become a "huachicolero", or someone who steals fuel from Pemex pipelines.  Oh, he had everyone involved and they were forced to take orders.  He made millions off of "ordeñando" or milking the pipelines.

The white elephant, unionized, abused, robbed and left to rot at the expense of those, such as Deschamps, who still runs the company and recently refurbished a home in Acapulco at a cost of $12 million dollars, have been robbing the company blind and this goes all the way back to the 1940s.  Cases as recent as the 80s, 90s, and into the 21st century show that crude, gasoline and other byproducts had been sold to Texan oil companies and many of those owners have since gone to jail.

Let me add a new twist to the situation.  As of yesterday, it was announced that Pemex had been lacing the Magna and Premium fuels with butane and sending these highly evaporative fuels to the northern states.  Doesn't make sense does it considering that the extreme heat in the north leads to evaporative conditions?  It has been reported that the recent, last 12 months, the spike in air pollution over the Monterrey Metropolitan area has been caused by this poor quality fuel.  BTW, we pay the highest average cost for fuel so that would mean that Pemex and the government since they are owners, were really sticking it to us.

Unbelievable.  As you all know, I am a staunch supporter of this wonderful country but have had just about enough of its socialist approach and that approach is slowly beginning to spread again with the new president.  Financial advisors have begun to warn us to put 30% of our savings in foreign banks.  When that happens, only after 130 days of office, it is a warning and not a scare tactic. 

At this point, it is buyer beware if you are interested in buying a home in Mexico unless of course, you are willing to take the risk and lose the investment.  

Our local station has now changed brands and no longer carries Mobil gas.  Not sure if anyone noticed that during our fuel crisis in December when our illustrious president decided to shut down pipelines leading to the explosion and deaths of 135 huachicoleros, foreign stations remained open until they had run out of fuel or were replenished by their own brand tankers.  Mobil, like others,  imports fuel from their own refineries in the U.S.

So why the butane additive in the northern states?  Mexico cannot keep up with its own demand for fuel.  The five Mexican refineries are running at 68% capacity or less and all the money the president wishes to throw at it will not save Pemex.  Why is he so adimant to do so?  He is from one of the largest oil producing states in Mexico, Tabasco and believes he owes it to "his people".   Well Mister Presidente, no hecha la casa por la ventana, or, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Bon Voyage Party and A Memory

A lot has happened since I posted last.  We threw a party for some good friends who are being transferred to the U.S. for work.  Mario and Brenda work for a Mexican company with subsidiaries in the state of Ohio.   Mario is an engineer and they have three children.  We invited around 35 people including kids.  The dinner was catered so we didn't have to do much of anything and the best part was that there was no use of disposables.  

Norma's passing has had us all a bit sad and I wanted to post this wonderful picture.  Money can't buy you everything and good friends are hard to come by.   We have made so many good friends over the years and these guys are some of them.  Thanks for the memories.