Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Journey through fear to Rocky Point, Mexico

Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco, Mexico) beach area

You drive thru Organ Pipe N.M. to get to the border crossing
You would think that after traveling alone for 8.5 years throughout North America and making a trip alone to India while on crutches, that traveling 60 miles south of the US border by myself would be no big deal, but in my mind it was.  Traveling south of the border always conjures up images of banditos with big guns wanting pay offs, drug shoot outs, theft and run down dirty towns with people on every street corner wanting to make me a deal on something I don’t want. As you can tell, my exposure to Mexico has basically been in border towns.  Having spent 6 winters along the Tex/Mex border I found out that unlike Vegas, much of ‘what goes on along the border, stays along the border’ and is never reported.  

Good signage all the way down
Over the last fews years I have met more & more people in my travels that just love Mexico and several of who spend  5 - 6 months every year down in Rocky Point.  Their stories of beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and gorgeous sunsets certainly peaked my interest.    I just had two problems.   The first being location.  Puerto Penasco (aka Rocky Point) is not only located 6o miles south of the border, it is 40 miles south of the town of Ajo,  which is over a 100 miles from either Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma and not necessarily on the way to anywhere unless you are going/coming from Tucson and Southern California which I happened to be doing last spring.  When I got to Ajo last spring, problem #2 kicked in.  Problem #2 was fear.   Fear of driving 60 miles into Mexico by myself.  The visions of being stopped by armed banditos and never being heard from again won out over my desire to go see this place for myself and I went on to Tucson without visiting Rocky Point this past March.

Fast forward to this fall and I am again in Tucson and headed to Southern California.  This time I have friends in Tucson that I convince to take the foray into Mexico with me, so I feel much safer.  Ultimately the timing did not work out & they could not come with me.   When I left Tucson, after spending the evening before reading the Phoenix Sun articles about violence in Mexico and the downturn of tourists going to Rocky Point I was resolved to skip it once again.  I was yet again succumbing to the fear of the 'what ifs'.

Beach in front of Playa Bonita RV
RV Park - Playa Bonita
 As I pulled into the Shadow Mountain RV park, I asked the woman camp host, about the safety of going to Rocky Point alone.  She assures me that I would be fine but confesses she has only traveled with her husband down there recently.  I ask if I could borrow him for a day and luckily she laughed.  As I check in, I asked the manager,  about Rocky Point and she too assured me that I would be fine, gave me a map and outlined places for me to go.  She explains that Rocky Point is the beach playground for Arizonians and that most of the folks traveling the road will be from the US.  This began to quell some of the fear demons wreaking havoc in my mind and I resolve to just go for it & whatever happens will just happen.  Once I made the decision and decided I was going with or without fear, I got excited.   I wasn't just excited about discovering Rocky Point, but because I had freedom from a fear that kept me from doing something that I wanted to do.   I haven’t traveled much out of North America.  One reason is finances, another is fear of traveling alone in a non-english speaking country.  Now that I was taking this small step to tackle the ‘traveling alone’ fear .. who knows what new journey’s await!
Looking at from "Rocky Point" the Fish Market area

Rocky Point Fish Market area
Side street - all sand
So, I went to Rocky Point.  I had no problems on the road.  I was stopped at a Mexican checkpoint by men with big guns but apparently they were good guys and I had no problems.   The water was a beautiful blue and a perfect temperature.  The beach was fabulous and I enjoyed the fish market area at the point.  The beach RV park I visited was a parking lot of sand, had unreliable internet and was in my view overpriced.  Away from the beach and Market area the town pretty much looked like a poor border town.  I loved the beach but didn’t care much at all for the surroundings.   If I lived in Arizona and wanted to get away to the beach, I would definitely return and spend some time in the water here.   Not being from Arizona and living on wheels, I much prefer the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast areas which have much more amazing beaches and nice towns to go with them.
They had big guns!

All and all, I had a great trip .. the one through Mexico and the one through fear. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lower Calf Creek Falls

What a great hike!!   I had been wanting to do this hike for a few years and finally got to it on one gorgeous September day with the temps in the upper 70’s.

Lower Calf Creek campground and trailhead are located along Utah’s Scenic Highway 12, about 13 miles north of the town of Escalante.  This is a little over a 6 mile round trip hike.   There is some rocky terrain but a lot of it is very sandy, which can be a little bit more of a challenge for some than the rocks.   The elevation changes are pretty insignificant.  There is a map with descriptions of what you are looking at for 15 points along the route.   Some of the descriptions are kind of lame but it is helpful in being able to spot petroglyphs across the canyon and a few other spots of interest.
View down the canyon at the beginning of the hike

If you look hard you can see the petroglyphs over there!

The greenery from Calf Creek against the high red canyon walls were just awesome.  The creek is not huge but I did see some pretty big fish in it.   The trail takes you very close to the creek at several points.  Of course, the highlight of this trek is the falls and they did not disappoint!   I met one couple coming back from the falls that said the falls were the ‘highlight of there two week trip’ in Southern Utah.    I would have trouble picking a highlight in this area as there are so many beautiful sights to see, but the falls are pretty cool, both figuratively and literally!    As you get close to the falls and the little oasis area that they form, the cool mist and change in air temperature is a welcome change since most of the hike is in full sun.

There are fish in there!
When I reached the falls, I was surprised that there were about 10 other folks there as well.   Half of those cleared out pretty quickly.  One guy was taking a dip in the pool below the falls and the rest just hanging out on the outskirts so everyone could get pictures.   I had left the trailhead at 11 am and arrived about 12:10 pm.   There was a shadow already starting to creep across the top of the falls.  By the time I left only part of the falls were in the sun.   I am glad I didn’t start any later than I did!  

1st Glimpse!
When I got back to the parking lot I checked out the campground, as I had hoped to camp here but was told by the BLM office that it wasn’t recommended for rigs over 25’.   I found at least 2 sites that would hold a 35’ rig, however, as I walking from the parking area to the trailhead I followed a Class A motorhome probably around 28’ trying to get to the campground.   The guy was tearing up the top of his motorhome on the all the overhanging tree limbs .. which there were many!   The road through the campground is tight, has dips and a water crossing, has lots of untrimmed trees and just is not big rig friendly.   I stayed at an  Escalante RV park and am glad I did!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Moab: Meteors, Mesa Arch, Bridges and more

Mesa Arch at sunrise , Canyonlands National Park, Utah

The Perseid Meteor shower seemed like a perfect excuse to pack up Dog and the car at 6 o'clock on a Friday evening and make a 3 hour trek through a rainstorm to Moab.  The plan?  Hmmm ... there is something about 'the best laid plans' going awry so I skipped that part and just drove till I found a nice dark spot on the Islands in the Sky plateau near Canyonlands National Park and stopped.    I had hoped to find the BLM place where RVers stay and 'camp' near them but after adventuring down a few dark, bumpy roads with no signs of life, I just picked a pull off down a dark gravel road and called it our spot.   Since I sold my tent (see my last tenting experience here), this camping trip was just Dog & I and a sleeping bag in the Tracker.  Luckily for me, I forgot my sleeping pad and the bed of the car was way too hard to sleep, so that gave me lots of hours that I should have been sleeping to watch for meteors!  The night sky was fabulous, the milky way so bright that it almost seemed light out.  I had hoped to see several meteors per minute but I saw about 20 - 25 meteors total ... the best laid plans....  I have to say that I didn't see many meteors but the ones that I did see were spectacular, very long and bright.

My 30 new BFF's at Mesa Arch
After trying several different sleeping scenarios and annoying the dog who didn't mind the hard surface, I did catch a couple hours sleep.  By 5:30 am (a miracle) I was headed down the road into Canyonlands to catch the sunrise through Mesa arch.  To my surprise, there were already a half dozen folks with tripod's set up waiting for the sun to rise as well!  By 6 am there were at least 30 people there all lined up in front of the arch with huge cameras!   Armed with my point and shoot and Phone camera I clicked away with the rest of them and then headed out to find a less crowded adventure.

Part of Schaffer Canyon Rd
I did a quick venture down the 4 x 4 Schafer Canyon trial just to see if I could do it in my vehicle.  Satisfied that I could and with the sun rising rapidly and heating the day I turned back to head to Moab for some breakfast. A dirt road off the main road, however, caught my eye and I had to investigate.  It was marked as a 4 wheel drive road but didn't saying anything about high clearance so off we went.    It took us to the Gemini Natural Bridges and then wound its way through a nice red rock canyon, along a rim and then back down to the highway outside of Moab.  It was a great ride with a few places that were a little touch and go for the Tracker's clearance.  Dog had a fabulous time chasing lizards along the way.  The bridges weren't want I expected but interesting as well.

Gemini Bridges

By the time we made it back to the highway, it was way past breakfast time and over 95 degrees.  I took the scenic byway along the Colorado river till I found a nice place for Dog to take a swim and get cooled off then decided to start on the trek back to Colorado via the southern route around the La Sals.   By late afternoon, we were back amongst the aspen on the Uncompaghre Plateau and I was happy to see my bed!    Do it again??  You bet!
Gemini Bridges Road .. lots of unstable hanging around but nice views

Tall Canyon walls along the Colorado river

Golda the Adventure Dog taking a dip in the Colorado river

Back to the aspens!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Turning over a new leaf!

So I have been on a bit of a hiatus!   An understatement I know.   I have always tried to blog my adventures in order & in so doing I got behind & felt like I should wait till I wrote about the last place before writing down something really cool that just happened.  The result being I didn't write anything.  I had wanted to be able to print one of those blog books at some point and felt it should be in order...  but the hell with order!  ... I am turning over a new leaf and will just write what I feel like, when I feel like.  As a result, going forward I will be blogging new & old adventures as I feel inspired to put it down .. no order.  I hope to write more this way & hope to inspire just one folk to get out & see some of the awesome things this world has to offer.

Recently, I have been hanging out in the San Juan mountains, which are in the west central/south part of Colorado.   I have spent a lot of time in this area & believe it is the prettiest part of the state.  This is jeeping country with hundreds of miles of trials and though I haven't been able to jeep as much as I would like I have had a chance or two to get out & enjoy some of the views.

Here are a few recent pics..

The Red Mountains on a clear blue sky day 

Weird white flowers .. no idea what they are

Lots of paintbrush still in bloom .. pics don't do them justice

Little cascade at 12,000' with some flowers still in bloom
Sunset at the Campground

Saturday, February 25, 2012

10 Great iPhone Apps for RV'ers

Thousands of apps available and more being added every day but here are 10 of my favorite RVing apps for the iPhone.

  • AllStays Camp & RV - $5.99    Hands down the best app for RVers that I have found to date.  Many options on the filters, includes dump stations and BLM land though not complete on BLM land yet.  If you just get one app for RVing get this one.
  • Woodall's - Free  Some nice features, plus the Woodall ratings and easy to use.   I thought the  Woodall's app was much more user friendly than the Trailer Life RV Park Finder app.
  • Passport America - Free  Helpful and easy to use if you prefer Passport parks like I do.  Gives you all of the Passport information plus rates.
  • Road Ahead - Free  As long as you know your exit number this app is great.  You can select the categories of what you are looking for at an exit or search for the Merchant you want to find such as Flying J, Wendy's or whatever.  It tells you the prices on some gas stations plus gives you the phone number to call but it doesn't have a filter for Big Rig Friendly which would be nice.
  • Oh Ranger! Park Finder - Free  Love this app for finding what there is to do around where I am.  You can search by what you like to do ie, hiking, birding, biking, etc and the app gives you the information on the closest places to go for the activity that you want with details and directions.   Great app!
  • Park Maps (National Geographic) - $3.99   Contains the Park Maps for several of the Major National Parks.  Clicking on the search icon in the top right takes you to trail and road information that includes length, difficulty and other items of interest.  You can download an HD version as well.
  • RA Camping - Free  Reserve America's app has more state and federal campgrounds than private which make it more useful for tenters and smaller rigs but the cool thing about this app is that you can use the filter for campsites for your rig size.   This doesn't automatically populate campgrounds as you move around.  It only shows within a set distance and you have to go back & change the city to explore another area which is kind of a pain.   It does take you to the reservation screen and check availability for you, so it gets a thumbs up for that.
  • - Free   This shows some parks that the others don't because it shows mobile home parks as well as RV parks.  The Park Details feature is nice but there are no filters to allow you to view parks with amenities you are looking for like wifi, pet friendly or whatever.  It is just a basic search for a particular city or area.
  • Blue Beacon - Free  - I like to be able to get my rig cleaned before I am gonna land for a while.  This app replaces my little paper Blue Beacon finder.  :-)

If I had to pick just a three I would chose the Allstays Camp & RV, the Road Ahead and the Oh Ranger! app.  The great thing about apps is new ones become available everyday and the ones that are already out will hopefully continue to improve.  Another bonus to making the move from paper books and maps to apps is that it lightens my rig and with gas prices on the rise every ounce counts!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...