Monday, April 20, 2009

Our Trip To The Copper Canyon in Mexico

Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve been on the road, maybe I shouldn’t say that because we did travel to and from our winter home in Alamo Texas and have been gone for about 5 months. We did enjoy some time on the road with our friends Robert and Lonna on our way home this spring in the Hill Country of Texas and Marksville La. Looking at the mileage on my truck, I’m just short of 100,000 miles and it’s a 2003. It’s just broken in! Anyway this posting is about our incredible trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico. Although we were on the road, I did not have to drive. It was a fantastic tour bus trip from our park in Alamo with 17 other couples from our park and another couple from another park to the interior of Mexico. Some asked if we were afraid to go because of all the press about violence. Yes there are some problems at the border towns but after that it’s no problem. The press tends to go overboard. Our tour guide Andy Guerrero was absolutely amazing about the history and ancient cultures of Mexico. He is truly a walking encyclopedia. He is also good natured and a prize winning history writer. It made the trip much more exciting. His knowledge exceeded the boundaries of Mexico. Our two drivers were outstanding, maneuvering the bus through the narrow streets of each city and the windy roads from Durango to Mazatlan. Getting on to the trip, we started our 9 day trip on March 5th at the border in Reynosa. After crossing the border and clearing customs it was a relaxing drive to Monterrey on a divided highway with mountains on each side. We had lunch in Monterrey then continued on to Parras for an overnight stop. The motel was a former hacienda with a very nice courtyard.

Happy hour with friends in the courtyard included a bottle of wine we bought at a winery we toured along the way then dinner.

Day 2 we continued on to Durango. Had fun at John Wayne’s favorite scenic Mexican Movie Studios where “Big Jake” and “Chism” were filmed. They put on a little western skit for us that included some of our group as actors.

Also visited the main plaza and a impressive cathedral built in 1695. Durango was very clean, not what I would expect in Mexico.
On the third day we continued our scenic drive across the continental divide. Then stopped for a picnic lunch with an incredible view!

We later arrived in Mazatlan for two nights at the beachside Playa Mazatlan Hotel. Relaxing on the beach front, touring the city, shopping, enjoying the pool and an evening dinner show were welcome after the long drive.

The forth day was the city tour. This is truly a beautiful tropical city.
The fifth day it was on to Los Mochis where we passed through the agricultural area of Culiacan the Tomato Capital of Mexico also lots of corn and pecan plantations. This was a full day of driving for an overnight stay in Los Mochis to catch the train to the top of the Copper Canyon. It was an early wakeup call at 4:30 so we could be on the train by 6:00. The train called the Chepe runs from Los Mochis to Chihuahua. This was the highlight of the trip. It took us 9 hours.
We go as far as the Divisadero-Creel area which is at the top of the canyon some 8,000 feet. It’s a slow climbing, winding ride through 86 tunnels and many airborne bridges spanning deep gorges. The ride brings breathtaking views along the way. Taking pictures is a challenge as many of the best shots disappear into darkness as we go through tunnels. Sadly the train is going to be replaced by a 4 lane highway in the near future and used for freight only. We arrive at the hotel Cabanas Divisadero located on the rim of the Canyon. It was very cloudy that evening and somewhat disappointing as we could not see the canyon. The next morning, seventh day, was a different story as the clouds lifted giving us a spectacular view of the canyon. Brigitte stepped out the front door of our hotel and its 5 steps to the edge. We were about in the middle. She stood long enough for a picture then promptly came back in. She is afraid of heights. Later we enjoyed the view, taking many pictures during a 3 mile walk along the canyon. A van was offered for those who did not want to walk. Brigitte did the van, I the walk. Then we met the colorful Tarahumara Indians selling their handicrafts along the way.
Many woven baskets and hand made jewelry were bought. They also showed off some of their dances and games they play. This tribe was just recently discovered. About mid-afternoon we boarded the bus to continue the trip to Chihuahua passing through the rich farmlands and orchards of Mennonites that migrated to Cuauhtemoc from Canada. It’s another story that I will not go into. We did visit the Mennonite farm of Abraham, who is a friend of Andy’s and welcomes visitors with their questions. Then it was on to the Hotel San Francisco in Chihauahua.

The eighth day was sightseeing in Chihuahua that included a tour of Pancho Villa’s house, now a museum. Then on to the main plaza, a cathedral and an aqueduct that was built by the Spaniards in 1754 and is still in use. Then back on the bus and on to Torreon for an overnight stay at the Hotel Camino Real.

Day nine was a visit to another cathedral, main plaza and the Governor’s Palace. Then on to Saltillo to see where sarapes are woven. Then on to Monterrey for lunch. We arrived back in the Rio Grande Valley about 8:00pm. We learned so much about the Mexican culture, its people, government, schooling, industry and agriculture. We have a totally different outlook of this country on the rise. By the way the word “Gringo” was derived from the Mexican-American War in which the American army wore green coats and there was no word for green coats in their vocabulary so they invented one called “Gringo” like as the Gringos are coming!
Hope you enjoyed this posting, Dick and Brigitte……

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chelsea's Homecoming

The only way I can tie this in with being on the road is that I maintain Chelsea’s car, a 98 purple Neon nicknamed the Barney Mobile, keeping it on the road. Regular oil changes, wiper blades, muffler, and recently a brake job. I’ve tried to teach her some basic maintenance like checking the oil on the dip stick, she said where’s the dip stick, I said I’m looking at it ( looking straight at her). Anyway I said leave the maintenance to me.

Yes, it's ready for winter! And summer, this was taken last year when she turned 16.

This posting isn’t about maintaining a car but to write about our other granddaughter Chelsea. Being our first granddaughter she has always been special to us. We have built a lot of memories with her on the road in years past with vacations to Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Hershey PA, Disney World and others. I wrote enough about Lindsey and she is also special, she has the biggest heart and is very near and dear to us. Getting back to Chels, she stopped in Saturday before a night on the town for homecoming. Of course we had to have a Kodak moment. So here are a few pictures. We sure felt out of place, dress wise. I felt like I should go out and rent a tux! She has turned into a beautiful, attractive young woman.

Now for the not so good pics......

She is a senior at Bedford High and is also taking college courses to get a jump on her college education. She is doing very well in maintaining her grades. She said she can’t believe she is a senior already. We said “how do you think we feel”! Time has gone by so fast. She also works at a local restaurant to pay for her car and spending money, and of course, saving some. She doesn’t have a career picked out yet but leaning toward the medical field, like X-ray tech. My personal pick would be a model! I think most of you would agree after seeing the following pictures.

We are truly proud of her, love her a lot and wish the best of everything especially when she crosses that big bridge at graduation next spring. Best of luck and God Bless Chels….

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dick and Rick on Lake Michigan


As most of you know I like to fish. Missing the traditional 2nd week in August salmon trip to Ludington Michigan this year, I decided to book a morning charter. Something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years. I’ve been following a boat named CATCHIN for many years and the Captain, Myron Gilbert is the best. You don’t want to follow directly behind him because there won’t be any fish left. I stay off to one side when I’m up there fishing with my boat, wondering what bait did he catch that last fish on when he nets another fish and I’m not catching any. He charters for walleye out of our local marina where I have my boat til mid July then takes his boat to Ludington for salmon. Son Rick, Walt my neighbor and a friend of Rick’s Robbie and I headed up to Ludington on Wed. afternoon. After a restless night’s sleep (lots of anticipation) we were awakened at 4 am by the alarm. (I have no use for alarms anymore except for fishing). After getting our coffee mugs filled we headed down to the dock where Myron was setting his poles out. There was a little lighting in the southern sky but all looked well in the north. We headed out about 5:15, cleared the Ludington pier heads and north we went for a half hour run up to Point Sable. With the wind from the north, a very light drizzle, waves about 2 to 3 feet, we went about a mile beyond the point then tuned south to set lines with the wind. The CATCHIN is a 36 foot Sea Ray with a 10 foot wide beam capable of running 14 fishing poles (8 is my max). Myron set the auto pilot then it was to the back of the boat to set lines and give us a few instructions. He has no first mate and does everything himself. He is all over the back of the boat and you don’t want to get in his way. He had the first line set and told Rick to set the second one out. Rick asked him if he ever had caught a fish before the line was all the way out and he said yes all the time. About that time, WHAM Rick had the first fish on and it was total mayhem after that. I started setting lines and another fish hit, Robbie (a rookie at salmon fishing) was up next and it was a non-stop Chinese Fire Drill for 2 ½ hours. We had our first fish before 6:00 and it was still dark. It’s very difficult to net a fish in the dark. Walt was up next and he lost 2 fish before landing one (living up to his reputation, we call him stone hands). A lot of the times we had 2 fish on at once. We had 5 or 6 fish before day break. This was one of those trips you always dream of. Everything was fast and furious, non-stop action. Myron was from one side of the boat to the other trying to keep everything in an orderly fashion but it was a lost cause. There were a few lulls in the action, enough time to repair some tackle and repair a downrigger line. I don’t want to brag but I caught the biggest one at 20 pounds (it looks like a 23 pounder though). At times I had to just hold the pole with both hands and hold on. The fish came out of the water 2 or 3 times doing cartwheels. At the back of the boat it saw the net and came totally out of the water again before being netted. At this time the cooler was so full we had to sit on it to keep the lid down. We ended up with a limit in about 2 ½ hours on a 6 hour charter. So it was a nice boat ride back to the dock with a lot to talk about and an experience not to be forgotten. My crew has a lot of new information on how to catch more fish next year. Cabela’s, here I come! Anyway, we headed home to put some fresh salmon fillets on the grill. I may just have to book another charter next year.
Hope you enjoyed this adventure, take care and God Bless, Dick………

Sorry about the peewee but that one belongs to the Captain

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back Home

This is the end of our fascinating, fantastic trip, as you can see we did not let the grass grow under us traveling 4,800 miles in 3 weeks and did not even scratch the surface. A "special thanks" to Lonna for her 2 pages of "MUST SEE" information saving us a ton of time going through all the other info we obtained. The Nova Scotia Doers and Dreamers booklet is a must. Sometimes it was overwhelming. And yes Larry and Emma there are Motels and a ton of B&B's all over. Till next time Love and God Bless....Dick, Brigitte and Lindsey........

This is Sunday and we got back home yesterday afternoon. Got everything back in one piece, (thank you Lord) and all of your prayers. Funny thing though on the last leg when we slowed we could smell something strong but could not figure out. Well, when I went to move the truck today it wouldn't start and the battery light stayed on. Checked it out and one of the 2 batteries blew up. It spit acid all over. Now I know what that smell was. I guess 6 years on a battery is enough.

Getting back to the last few days I did write about Mahoney Bay and Lunenberg. We also stopped in Saint John and saw the reversing falls and did a 2 hour bus tour of the town. Of course we checked out the water front and found a farmers market in the middle of town. Here are a few pictures.

Note the water flowing from right to left on the Saint John River. This was high tide at 10:22 in the morning. The other is more dramatic at low tide when the water drops 28 feet. Eighty miles down stream it drops 50 feet but we did not have time to go down there. Note the jet boat in the rapids. Looks like fun to me. He spun that boat around on it's nose. What a pleasure it was to have Lindsey along. She had the best time and I'm sure learned a lot, especially how big the country is. She spent a lot of time listening to music on her MP3 player and watching movies on her portable DVD player while on the road. Every night she would torment us with her love before turning in for the night. But all good things must come to an end until the next time. Hope you all enjoyed the blog and I do plan on keeping it open for awhile.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Maximum Fun day near Halifax

This is Friday the 15th and I have updated some of what we have done as we have a little time on our way home. We are currently about 6 hours from home and I will finish up with our tour around the Halifax and Saint John area later.

Peggy's Cove

Sunday we were on the road to Halifax arriving early afternoon, did I mention it rained. When we got here it quit. We had a very nice secluded site with trees around so we kicked back enjoyed a campfire, Lindsey went swimming and we made s’mores.
Monday the 11th was a truly maximum fun filled day. We started out by visiting Peggy’s Cove. Just before getting there we stopped at the memorial for Swiss Air Flight 111 along side of the road where 229 passenger and crew went down about 5 miles out on 9/2/1998. Peggy’s Cove was one of my favorite places to see as I like little fishing villages and water. We took a lot of pictures also had a local take a picture of us with the lighthouse in the background and had postcards made. We left there and continued on the coastal route to Mahoney Bay, a quaint little village with 5 churches that stand out just before you arrive. Walked around the shops a bit and took more pictures the continued on. The next stop was Lunenburg. A picture perfect little seaport village with tall ships and yachts and every thing else that goes along with them. The town is built on a steep rocky hillside about 8 blocks long and 8 blocks wide. We enjoyed walking around and taking pictures watching people, shopping and just enjoying the sunny day. We topped off the day in down town Halifax on the waterfront with a fabulous seafood dinner. We walked it off on the waterfront wharf where there was a lot going on including entertainment, music,
food vendors, gift shops and some weird people. You know the ones with the different colored hair, leather, tattoos, tons of makeup and all. Anyway a good time was had by all.
Today we left Halifax and are now in Saint John NB. Did I mention it rained all day. So we parked it and called it a day. Tomorrow we plan on seeing the reversing falls. More on that tomorrow.

The memorial

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse which is acually the US Post Office

Finally a picture of the three of us.

The shore line of Peggy's Cove

Puffin Trip

Today is Saturday and it was another busy day for us. Rained again last night and the ground is more then soggy now. A 5th wheel just came in and made about an 8 in deep rut along side of our trailer. We will be moving on again tomorrow, providing I can stay on solid land, to Halifax a little over 200 miles. GG did laundry this morning then after that we went on the boat trip. It was out of English Town north of Baddeck as Baddeck is on an inland lake. Lindsey said this is one of her favorite places. We went on Donelda’s Puffin Boat Tours to Bird Island. We saw lots of Bald Eagles, I would say over 20, hundreds of Puffins, Black Guillemots, Gulls, Great Black Backed Gulls, Cormorants, a lot of those, Great Blue Herons, Northern Gannets, Idler ducks and seals. The seals were in the water and would poke there heads up once in awhile along side of the boat only a couple were up on the rocks. We did not see any whales but they said occasional they do on the north side of the island. It was too rough to go on that side and the boat is rather small, 40 passengers at most. Half way around the Cabot Trail there is a village called Pleasant Cove that has whale watch tours. If you don’t see any you get your money back. But the trip we took was a 1st class trip well put together by a local couple. She gave us a lot of information about the area and the birds we saw on the way out and on the way back, a lot of information about lobster trapping. They are also lobster trappers. Starting at 4 in the morning and also running 3 puffin trips. Lobsters have to be 1 pound and it takes 5 years to grow that big, they also molt once a year and the season ended on July 15th. Lobsters can be kept for a year in pounds, individual shoe box size wire cages, where they are kept in hibernation form. Cool water is run over them along with cool air. So there you have it a short lesson on lobsters. She said there is no cod fishing here and that when the cod fishing is bad, lobster fishing is good also the reverse is true and it runs in cycles. Night is falling now and campfires are going, dogs being walked, and it’s not raining. Lindsey and GG are playing games so I guess I’ll call it a night for now.

There was a pair of eagles after fish.

There are some puffins up there somewhere

Loads of birds of all kinds
There are a few seals out there