Ginger’s Last Adventure – Carnival Cozumel

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

I have loved every minute of my glamping adventures and I’m so grateful that my humans “convinced” me to come along.  I really didn’t want to leave all my creature comforts behind to hit the road in a tiny tin can (ok, a tiny aluminum can).  How did they expect me to just give up my life as I knew it?  I had cool tile floors to lounge on, my own pool, a private yard, three dog beds scattered around the house, a basket full of toys, walks at the top of the cove, all my besties… did I mention square footage?

But it turned out to be the best thing I ever did.  I got to run with the buffaloes, live on a Caribbean beach, chase crabs, go fishing, eat lobster, ride in boats, see dolphins, whale watch, climb mountains, chase off bears, swim in glacier lakes, hang with the seals, go surfing, well at least I watched the surfers.  But I did go kayaking.

A woman asked the Dalai Lama what is the meaning of life and he replied right away “that’s an easy question… happiness. But how to achieve it, that is the hard question”.   For me it was through travel.

Traveling made it easy to learn that less is more.  It encourages a decluttering of your life and hence your mind.  Because possessions really do hold you back – they’re actually heavy.  I learned that when you let go of “things” it’s easy to let go of other things, like expectations.  And when you let go of expectations then your worries disappear and when the worrying stops you experience… happiness in the moment.  Happiness cannot be found in the future, or in the past, it can only be found in enjoying the here and now.

I was lucky to love and be loved.  A big shout out to all my homies and to my boy, who I love more than anything.  To my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins who I love and who I know love me.  And love and kisses to my crazy humans (the mommy and the daddy) who took me on the greatest adventure of my life.

And now for the good part, the pictures!  When you see my how I spent my last days on this glorious earth you’ll understand why for me… life’s a carnival.  Oh, and life is a beach too!

“One day your life will flash in front of your eyes.  Make sure it’s worth watching.” -Unknown

And remember, BE HERE NOW!

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

And course the best one of all, me as the queen of the Sol Sisters float!

Our great friends, Kent and Lynn, arranged this spectacular experience for me!  And love to Dierck and Vera for always being there for us!

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

© 2014 Richard Broadwell

Ginger died peacefully on March 7, 2014 after returning from Carnival Cozumel.  She was  fourteen and a half years old and was the most amazing dog that ever lived (at least to us, her humans).

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Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Glamping, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

The Road To Paradise

Happy New Year everybody!

As you know I’m on the Riviera Maya in Mexico once again.  I am a lucky dog!  And boy have I been living large, lots of tacos Al Pastor and fun on the beach.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Looks yummy, right?

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

But in case you think all I do is lounge on the beach and east tacos all day I wanted to share our stops along the route south so that anybody who wants to go… knows how to get to paradise.

We crossed the border at Laredo, TX using the Columbia Bridge.  We personally think this is the easiest and safest crossing, but another option would be Nogales, which is just south of Tucson, AZ.

Choosing between these two crossings is often a matter of where you’re going and where you’re coming from.  If you’re heading to the West Coast of Mexico from the Southwest US you should cross at Nogales and then go south on the 15D south.  If you are coming from the East Coast of the US you can take the Laredo crossing for either the Yucatan Peninsula or the West Coast of Mexico.  We take toll roads all the way (or cuotas as they are called in Mexico and are designated with the letter D after the highway number).  The money is worth it for the condition of the roads and safety (please visit my earlier posts “South of the Border part 1 and 2″ for more details about driving in Mexico and other stops along the these two routes).

After crossing the border in Laredo you take the 85D to the 40D (the bypass around Monterrey) then you head south on the 57D to Matehuela.  This is a one day drive from Laredo and gets you way south and away from any border issues.  The Las Palmas Hotel and RV Park in Matehuela is a popular overnight spot for most travelers heading south.  From there it is an easy drive to San Miguel de Allende in the mountains where we stayed for a few days to break up the trip.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Two art schools were established in San Miguel in the 1940′s, changing the future of this beautiful colonial town.  After World War Two, US veterans were allowed to study abroad on the G.I. Bill and the Instituto AllendeEscuela and the de Bellas Artes in SMA attracted many.  Artists and writers started flocking here and many of the veterans who studied came back to retire.  San Miguel is now a world famous cultural center with an ex-pat population hovering around 10%.

The La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel is the neo-Gothic church that dominates the skyline.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The cobblestone streets in the historic center are fun to explore.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

From San Miguel we continued south on the 57 D and exited onto the Arco Norte, which is a fabulous bypass road north of and around Mexico City.  When it ends you hang a left onto the 150D to Puebla, arriving in just one day from SMA.  Puebla is one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

_DSC9048Like San Miguel it’s a World Heritage Site with tons of historical and cultural value. I will spare you the details but the food, the art, and the culture are all fabulous (you can Google it).  The markets are also fun to explore!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Puebla and it’s suburb of Cholula sit in the valley of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt with beautiful views of the nearby volcanoes.  The only RV park in the area, Trailer Park Las Americas, is located in Cholula.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Within walking distance of Las Americas is the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary which sits atop the Great Pyramid.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Though it looks like a hill, underneath is the largest pyramid base in the Americas, four times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza.  It has been overgrown for centuries but the south side has been somewhat excavated so you can wander through some tunnels.  From the top you can see four different volcanoes.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The town of Cholula.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

And some local entertainers.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

From Puebla we took the 150D east, a road that winds through the mountains and plummets some 8000 ft to the balmy Gulf Coast region of Mexico.  Do not leave Puebla before 8am because you don’t want to get caught in the fog on this crazy but well engineered road that seems to descend from the heavens.  Once at sea level you hang a right on the 145D.

The 145D is not my favorite cuota, though they work on it all the time, half is usually good and half is covered in huge pot holes.  After Acayucan we take the 180D towards Villahermosa to overnight in the “Balneario” RV Park which means water park (real name Recreativo El Gordo y San Pancho, but the sign says Balneario) at around K 158.  Unfortunately there was too much construction this year to do the necessary retorno so we stayed at a Pemex gas station #9107.  Staying at a Pemex is SOP in Mexico as there aren’t always RV parks nearby.  There is usually a guard that you tip to keep an eye out but this particular Pemex was a bonafide trailer park for all the truckers.  They charged us 100 pesos and gave us a nice spot complete with grass right out our door.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

If you were heading straight to the Riviera Maya you would turn on the 186 outside Villahermosa heading towards Escarcega (you can stop in Palenque to see my favorite Mayan ruins).  In Escargeca you stay on the 186 heading towards Chetumal.  Just outside of Chetumal you go north on the 307 to either Tulum, Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.  Or you could go north from Escarcega to see Campeche, and Merida before heading east to Cancun.  It takes 5 days to arrive in Playa Del Carmen from the border if you only overnight along the way.

But we decided to take a side trip north from Villahermosa to see Isla Aquada, a tiny fishing village on the Gulf Coast.  We stayed at the Freedom Shores RV park and had a great view.  Excited about having more stone crab claws, which they served in the park’s restaurant, we scoured the local fish stores in the area but couldn’t find a single one.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We were going to head north to Merida to visit all the wonderful Mayan ruins in the vicinity but circumstances with the cuota (teacher’s strike demonstration) and the heat (best to explore the Yucatan in the winter) convinced us to head straight for the Riviera Maya and its cool ocean breezes.

And then we arrived in Paradise…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Glamping, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

California Here We Come….

Before I get to my California summer adventures, how do you like my new sunglasses?

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Since I was hoping to go back to the Caribbean beaches of the Riviera Maya I just couldn’t bear to wear the same glasses from last year.  I needed to CHANGE IT UP,  you know… be fresh.  Besides, I knew that my fans and the beach paparazzi would expect more from me.  So I started shopping around.

I considered the Louis Vuitton Evasions ($1200) and I really loved the Chrome Hearts Kuffannaws ($1350).  I checked out the Moss Lipows ($3800),  but I thought the Bentley Platinums were ridiculously overpriced!

$45,276.

Bentley Platinum $45,276.

But when my humans saw the price tags they told me in no uncertain terms, “if you want new glasses, you’re going to have to pay for them”.

What? I have no income!  But being the resourceful glamper that I am, I searched the internet and found the perfect job!  Camp hosting at the Little Bear RV Park in Blairsden, CA.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

It was an easy job for me, all I had to do was greet the guests when they arrived.  But my opposable thumb slaves had to do all the real work.  Haha, I think I got my humans good!

_DSC8959Little Bear is a gem of a RV Park, lovingly cared for by its owner Todd, and located just an hour north of Lake Tahoe in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The Lakes Basin Recreation Area nearby has 30 gorgeous alpine lakes within a 10 mile radius.

Our first weekend camping trip was almost a disaster.  We decided to check out Lower Bucks Lake.  The entrance sign said “self contained RV’s only” so we thought it was safe to go in without a pre-check.  Classic mistake!  We inched out way down the narrow road and every site was taken by a tent camper.  It wasn’t until the end of the road that we realized there was not going to be room to turn around.  Backing all the way out was not an option.  AHHHH!

My humans debated and debated but it was me who finally came up with the best plan.  We backed the trailer up a hillside at a 90 degree angle, then unhooked the truck and brought it around to the other side, re-hooked and managed to squeeze ourselves out of there!  Pheww! Crisis averted.

Safely back on the main road we drove a bit further to the next campground, Sundew.  There was plenty of room and we got the best site there.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

I loved just chilling and looking at the view.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

A few weeks later though we did stay at Lower Bucks Lake, this time pre-scouting and finding the very first spot open, which once we backed in, was an easy pullout a few days later.

Our view at Lower Bucks Lake!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

In the Lakes Basin Area our favorite spot was Lower Sardine Lake

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The fishing was wonderful!  Our friends, Rob and Peri, caught more than they could keep.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The town of Graeagle was only 2 miles away, and boy do they take their July 4th festivities very seriously!  There were barn dances, and parades, and fireworks.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The Mill Pond in town was my favorite hangout.

_DSC8767And I liked to visit Chief Graeagle.

_DSC8768I never saw a bear but I did make some other friends.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Another favorite, Upper Sardine Lake.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We took a trip north through Lassen Volcanic National Park to Mount Shasta

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Because the fishing was so good my human eventually forgave me for making him work so hard all summer.

_DSC8914And we loved the Plumas County Barn Quilt Trail.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Here are some of our favorite guests at Little Bear, The Trailerettes!

retrorigsBut the best part of the summer was getting to hang out with my fellow Airstreamer and homie, Sparky and his humans!  We had so much fun together, you can check out his blog at Tranquillatime.blogspot.com.  Very soon he’ll be sailing to the West Coast of Mexico from California and you can follow his aquatic adventures at Sveltiburon.blogspot.com

539442_4465801125816_1123987803_nBy the end of the summer I realized I didn’t really need a fancy designer pair of sunglasses.  So I went to Pet Smart and bought a practical pair of K9 Sunglasses, you could say they were custom made just for me.  See the straps?

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Now when I get up to greet my fans on the beach, they don’t fall off!  Looking good, huh?

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

It’s our third year wintering south of the border in Mexico so please stayed tuned for some new adventures.  Oh, and I’m going to learn Spanish this year!

Coming up Next:  The Colonial Towns of San Miguel Allende, Puebla and Cholula

Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Glamping, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

South Of The Border – Part 2

After tearing ourselves away from the Riviera Maya we headed south to the Costa Maya coast of Mexico.  This area is very undeveloped with just two towns, Majahual and Xcalac.  There was no electricity until just a few years ago when a cruise ship dock was built.

In 2007 the area was devastated by a hurricane, but since that time it has been rebuilt and the sleepy little fishing village is now a small town.  When the cruise ships are in it’s busy  with lots of tourist shopping along a very nice promenade.  We saw nary a ship and it was lovely!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We stayed at the beautiful Blue Bay Resort in Majahual where the owner and staff were very accommodating.  The usual RV parking is behind the bungalows but we got to park right by the restaurant since it was off season.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The beach was great!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Xcalac to the south is much sleepier and feels more like Belize, complete with a mangrove shoreline.  Ambregris Key in Belize is only 4 miles south by boat.

There is a nice paved road slightly inland From Majahual south to Xcalac and a very bumpy dirt one that parallels the waterfront.  Adventurers beware… even though the maps show the dirt road connecting the two towns, that is no longer the case.

We did a pre-scout to Xcalac without the trailer, thank goodness.  Since I was manning the GPS I calmly pointed out that half way down (15 long bumpy miles) the dirt road veers into the ocean.  But since the GPS is frequently wrong in Mexico (even with the latest maps loaded), my humans didn’t listen to me!  So off we go and sure enough, after an hour and a half of brain numbing jostling there was no more road.  And even worse… no way to turn around.  But as usual they figured it out and got us back south, where we took the paved road home in silence.  By the request of my humans the pictures I took of them “negotiating” their predicament will not be published.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

It was finally time to leave the coast and head inland to the beautiful Mayan Ruins at Palenque.  These ruins are unique because of their jungle setting and much smaller crowds since it’s a full day drive from the tourist areas.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

They have just built a new international airport in Palenque that is due to open at any time but nonetheless there were plenty of tourists even in May.  We met a lovely group of RV’ers from the Netherlands at the very nice Mayabell Campground right by the ruins.  They were on a Pan American tour, having already traveled most of South America, then shipping their European rigs across the Darien gap, and caravanning all the way north through Central America to Mexico.  Their final destination, Alaska.  Now these retirees are the real adventurers!  A big shout out to our buddies Willemijn and Cornelis wherever you are!

But back to the ruins! We loved our guide who was very knowledgeable and spoke perfect English having lived in the States only to return to his Mayan roots.  In its heyday this ancient city encompassed almost 50 sq miles.  We were there during the burning season which he explained to us is signaled to start by the Spring equinox.  The temples are positioned so that the seasonal solstices and equinoxes line up exactly and shine through the tops.  The fields were burned, planted and harvested accordingly.  The local farmers still follow the same tradition.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The museum was fascinating with lots of interesting artifacts!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

After a day at the ruins a dip in the nearby Aqua Azul Falls was a real treat.  The light blue water was a cool but comfortable temperature, perfect for my aching knees after climbing up and down all those temples.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Oops, somebody forgot my glasses… here’s a better shot without my mug in it.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

After yet another days drive we arrived at the volcanic town of Catemaco, just off the Gulf of Mexico, on a beautiful lake at 1000 ft elevation where it’s cooler (relatively) than the flatlands.  This is where they shot the movies “Medicine Man” and “Apocalypto”.

The area is also known for it’s brujos or male witches.  You can easily consult with one and buy herbs or charms but I decided I didn’t need to since I’m already the luckiest dog on earth!  We stayed at the wonderful campground, Villas Tepetepan and RV Park, which isn’t on the lake but instead overlooks the Rio Grande De Catemaco.  You might recognize these falls, Cascada Salto de Eyipantia, from the movies.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We were re-tracing our steps home now, the 45D to the 50D, then back on the Arco Norte which rings Mexico City WAY on the outskirts.  Our destination, the third largest pyramid in the world!  The largest pyramid is actually in the nearby Puebla suburb of Cholula, which was just a few miles back on the 50D.  It was raining too hard on the way down to visit and now we were on a tight schedule to get home to see my boy, Sece, before he left for Spain.

Anyway… Teotihuacan!!!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell – Pyramid of the Sun

Can you see my humans on the very top, they’re waving at me!

This culture was born, grew and fell between 200BC and 700 AD.  Nobody knows their real name but the Aztecs who discovered it 600 years after its decline were so impressed they gave it the name Teotihuacan, which means City of Gods.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell – Pyramid of the Sun taken from Pyramid of the Moon

The size of this ancient Mesoamerican complex is mind blowing!  Only 3- 5% has been excavated and Avenue of the Dead, the main thoroughfare to the pyramids, is 2.5 miles long.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell – Pyramid of the Moon

While there you must stay at the Teotihuacan Trailer Park in Centro San Juan.  It’s a lovely spot and the town has lots of shops and restaurants.  Here’s one of our neighbors.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We saw these Expedition vehicles everywhere we went in Mexico.  These babies will go anywhere, even across the Sahara desert.  They will run on anything including cooking oil and some even have their own water purification systems.  It’s not as glamorous as our Airstream and a lot more expensive but I sure would like to have one!

In yet another day’s drive we were in Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, at rush hour!  But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  We found our way to the San Jose Del Tajo Trailer Park, which has literally been there forever.  Well, at least a really long time.  Being off season it was pretty empty but we met some great people, including Juan our neighbor who had us over for cocktails and some lively conversation.  There are lots of permanents here but instead of palapas they have real brick and mortar houses surrounding their trailers.  Over 25,000 Americans and Canadians live in this area including Lake Chapala, making it an ex-pat haven.

In order to break up our 4000 mile trip home we had decided to stay on the West Coast for a few days, landing in yet another ex-pat hangout, Sayulita.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

It’s a bit like Disney Land but we loved it, and the Sayulita Trailer Park and Bungalows were fantastic and right on the water.  It’s a bit difficult to find a spot here in the winter but luckily because it was off season we got a site just off this gorgeous beach.  Another shout out to the owner, Thies!  A fascinating German who has lived in Mexico for decades.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The restaurants were great!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

As were sunsets on the beach!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

And great people watching!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

After a lovely visit it was finally time to head north towards home.  Getting back to the 15D took us a little longer than we thought due to this accident.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Nobody was hurt but we had to wait a few minutes for them to pull this truck out of the ditch.  We were always amazed by how fast the Mexicans clear accidents and get traffic flowing again.  On our rainy drive down I mentioned some accidents.  Most we saw would have closed down a US highway for hours yet we were never delayed more than 30-45 minutes.  The ambulances would come, depart, and the road would be quickly cleared of all debris.  Then we were on our way.

Over 20 million Americans travel safely to Mexico every year but the rule of thumb for RVers in Mexico is never to drive at night for various reasons.  The main one being debris in the road, you just can’t see it in the dark.  In Baja that would include livestock as it is free range.  Another reason, it increases your chances of getting lost as the signage can be hard enough to see in the daylight.  And because sometimes bad people come out at night, just like anywhere in the world.  And of course you don’t want to have mechanical issues in the dark, so just don’t do it.

It would take us two more days from Sayulita to reach the border just south of Tucson AZ.  The first night we stayed at the Villas Tortugas RV Park in Celestino Gasca.  It was a great spot with just 8 sites behind their villas on the Pacific Ocean.  We loved the easy access to the 15D.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Our final stop in Mexico was the Totonaka RV Park in the town of San Carlos.  An easy days drive from Arizona, this seaside town gets a ton of RV business.  It looks just like Arizona on the water, right?

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The tropics were long gone, sadly!  We had an easy uneventful border crossing and before you knew it, we were back in the US of A.

Coming up next:  California Here We Come, Right Back Where We Started From…

Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

South Of The Border – Part 1a

Here are a few more reasons why I didn’t want to leave the Riviera Maya!

Beach clubs…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Sunsets…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Coco Locos…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Beach walks…

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@ 2013 Richard Broadwell

Beach walks

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Shady hangouts…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Fine dining…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Crab hunting…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwel

The warm water…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Sea gazing…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Souvenir shopping…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Kite surfing…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Fishing fishing fishing…

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Stay tuned for Part 2 of South Of The Border!

Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

South Of The Border

Ahhhh, Mexico! I’ve missed you so much since our wonderful visit to Baja last year.  What a jewel of a country.  But before I get to the good stuff here’s a brief summation of our  route to the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean coast.  We used Bill Bell’s “On the Road in Mexico” comprehensive guides and I highly recommend them.  Also their Facebook Group is a wealth of information!

It took us 3 days to reach our chosen border crossing at Laredo, Texas from Southern CA.  We crossed the border early on New Year’s Day when everybody was still sleeping then traveled south on the 57D bypassing Monterrey and Saltillo on toll roads, what the Mexicans call cuota roads.  They can be a little pricey but worth every cent.

We stopped the first night in Matehuala and stayed at the La Palmas Midway Inn and RV Park, a well known respite for all travelers driving south.  Because of rain we did not detour to San Miguel de Allende as planned instead continuing onto the beautiful Arco Norte cuota bypassing Mexico City and stopped in the beautiful city of Puebla the second night.  The roads were good but because of rain we did encounter quite a few accidents.

From Puebla we headed east on the 50D, catching the 45D south and overnighted at a Pemex station just outside Acayucan.  This is SOP for RV travelers when there are no RV parks nearby. Pemex is the Mexican state owned petroleum company and their gas stations are considered public property.  Most have guards and are usually very safe.

We pushed on to Escarcega where we camped at the Campestre Restaurant in the jungle overlooking a beautiful lake.  For the price of a good but cheap meal you are welcomed to park overnight.  I loved the peacocks and though it was still raining at least it was finally warm!

peacock

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

On our fifth day in Mexico we arrived at our destination just south of Playa Del Carmen  having traveled some 3000 miles.  It was time for some serious decompression!

Ginger beer

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

There are only a few RV parks along this beautiful coast, the most popular being Paa Mul RV Park just south of Playa Del Carmen.  It’s located right on the water with a nice open air restaurant and a seaside swimming pool.  There are around a 100 full hook up sites, though the waterfront spots are occupied by annual renters who have built elaborate palapas over and around their RV’s.

Since my humans have flown to the eco chic town of Tulum for years they knew the area  well and opted to stay in a secret location.  I would tell you where but then I would have to kill you.  And I don’t want to do that!

I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

beach

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Okay… I’ll say a few words.  Bliss bliss bliss!

My human loves to hunt bonefish.  Though not edible they are very fiesty; it’s like catching a trout on steroids!

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Rb-bone

I quickly settled into the beach life like a pro, making lots of Mexican friends and soaking up the local culture.  Here are some of my homies.  Together we perfected the art of… just chilling!

Blondie

Blondie

Leika

Lieka

Yoko

Yoko

Diego

Diego

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Our secret little spot!

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Oh, and I made some other friends too.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Even stormy days were beautiful.

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Even though the beach in Tulum has no electricity there are scores of little palapa-style hotels and restaurants run by solar and wind power.  It’s grown tremendously in the last 5 years but hasn’t lost it’s charm, for me at least.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

The Mayan ruins right on the Caribbean in Tulum are spectacular.

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

We spent a weekend in a beautiful but very rustic palapa in Tulum and boy was it fantastic!

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

I could get used to living here!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

Here are some interesting infrared pictures of the same spot from a previous visit to Tulum during a tropical storm.

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

© 2008 Richard Broadwell

Playa Del Carmen used to be a sleepy little fishing village, but no more.  There’s been rapid development in the last few years but the building restrictions limit structures to no more than 4 stories.  Well, since it’s Mexico… maybe 5 stories.  It’s a very popular international tourist destination with tons of boutique shops, chi chi hotels and fabulous restaurants. It’s here that you can catch the ferry to Cozumel.

This mermaid sculpture in “Playa” is a great example of the fabulous public art throughout Mexico.

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© 2013 Richard Broadwell

No!  I don’t want to leave here, ever!!

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

© 2013 Richard Broadwell

I did NOT want to leave, but after 4 months it was time to explore more of this beautiful country.

Stay tuned for Part II of “South Of The Border” where we visit the village of Majahual just a few miles from Belize, the best (IMO) Mayan Ruins in Palenque, the great pyramids of Teotihuacan, some aqua waterfalls, and the charming bohemian town of Sayulita.

Before I sign off I want to address the safety concerns about Mexico.  We traveled some 5000 miles in the interior of the country and did not have one negative experience.  That is not to say others haven’t been so lucky.  You can certainly be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like anywhere.  But on the whole I found it to be a lot safer than Los Angeles where I lived for years.

Hasta Luego!!

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The Long Winding Road Home

It seems enquiring minds want to know why the Canadian Maritimes look so green in January… well, it’s because I’m way behind in my postings.  But I have a good excuse.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

I had a few nips and tucks, nothing serious, so no worries.  I’m already back on the road and wintering near lovely Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.  But before we get to my latest adventures in Mexico I must finish up the final chapter of our summer/fall 2012 East Coast expedition.  Every red pin was a stop along the way.

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Have you ever tried chasing the fall foliage in search of the perfect display?  That was our quest as we headed back south from Canada.

First stop was Squam Lake in Holderness, NH where they filmed the movie “On Golden Pond” with Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.  And Golden it was!

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Our good buddies, Wanda and Rick, have the cutest summer cottage right on Little Squam Lake.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And what fabulous hosts they were!  We were treated to a boat trip where we hung out with the loons.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

(Now this is the perfect way to commute to your lake house!)

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We took country drives, stopping to shop for cheese and the perfect ginger ice cream (named after me of course) at the tiny Sandwich Creamery.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We drove the Sandwich Notch Road through the White Mountain National Forest which is essentially unchanged since the 18th century when it was the main trade route from the sea to the north.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But alas, no peak display yet.  Checking online it looked like Vermont’s leaves were ripening faster than New Hampshire’s so we sadly moved on in search of the so far elusive fall fireworks.  Unfortunately the weatherman was doing us no favors.

Vermont’s Route 100 is one of National Geographic’s “World’s Most Scenic Drives” so our goal was to drive the entire length from north to south.  We started in Eden Mills, VT where we stayed at the Lakeview Camping Area.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

A little soft focus on the right patch of leaves works wonders.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

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As you travel south on Route 100 you pass the famous Stowe ski area. The narrow two-lane road weaves in and out of beautiful canyons as the Green Mountain State Forest rises up on your right.  Ski resorts abound as you pass through Warren and Hancock.  We pushed south past Ludlow and lovely Weston, through the Wardsboros and all the way to Wilmington.  We covered a lot of ground in one day as the sun was out for the first time in days and it wasn’t going to stay that way.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But the further south we got, the greener the leaves so we headed north again, this time to Lake Placid, NY where the higher elevations would surely yield the most spectacular colors.  But it was cold and raining cats and dogs.  Trying to dodge the weather yet find the best fall foliage was proving very difficult.  Camping in the cold rain is just no fun.  So after almost 3 weeks of waiting and searching we sadly gave up and headed back south to Gettyburg, PA.

The battle at Gettyburg had the largest number of casualties in the Civil War and is often described as the war’s turning point ending Lee’s invasion of the North.

It was haunting in the rain and mist.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

But the sun was out in Washington DC!  I went to the White House looking for Bo, but he didn’t seem to be home at the time.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

A beautiful day at the United States Capitol.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And a visit to the Museum of Natural History.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Elephants sure are big!  Of course he’s the biggest one on display anywhere in the world.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We meandered through Virginia, to West Virginia (all in the rain).  The nice thing about off season camping is you can have an entire campground to yourself.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We arrived at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, OH for 2 days of necessary repairs and then made our way to Lexington and Mount Sterling, KY where my human’s peeps hail from.

We stayed at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground outside of Lexington, a working horse farm and an educational theme park.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

And we enjoyed a lovely dinner with beloved family; Uncle Bob and Susan, Joe and Jeff.

bob dinner

And a wonderful brunch at Aunt Mary Lynn’s before we drove to the small but famous town (in our family) of Mount Sterling, KY.  Though the population is a mere 6,000 we arrived on Court Day when around 150,000 visitors descend to buy, sell and trade at the giant town-wide flea market.  The tradition began in the 18th century when Mount Sterling was the trade center of eastern KY and continues to this day on the 3rd Monday of October.

We had a fabulous lunch with Betty and Jack and visited various family historic sights including the Mount Sterling/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce where my Super-Awesome Papa Stew is in the Hall of Fame.

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And of course we had to visit the famous Ruth Hunt Candy factory.  Ruth used to serve her homemade candies to her bridge club and in 1921 decided to open her own store.  Her  cream candies have been a tradition in my family for generations!

photoRuth-Hunt

Next up… Nashville, TN to spend some quality time with my brilliant singer, songwriter and recording artist cousin Joe Turley and his lovely wife Marie and their son James (check out Joe’s music at http://www.joeturley.com).  They took us to see the “Doyle and Debbie Show”,  described as  “…a gloriously tacky send-up of a washed-up country duo.” according to The New York Times.  And boy were they right, my face actually hurt from laughing so hard!  I wasn’t even offended when they sang “Fat Women in Trailers” cause I knew they most certainly were not referring to me.

We had to pry ourselves away from our Kentucky family to finally head west on US 40, the old route 66.  But before we crossed the Mississippi River we made a quick pit stop in Memphis, TN to visit with my brotha from anotha motha, the amazing and talented Corey Parker.  And I got to meet his beautiful wife Angela and their wonderful son Baker over some amazing BBQ!

And before you knew it we were back out west, in Santa Fe, NM (well, a 1000 miles later).

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

While staying at the lovely Trailer Ranch right in town I was actually recognized by a fan of my blog.  “Is that Ginger? From Ginger Goes Glamping?”  I humbly replied I was indeed the famous Ginger.  And I didn’t even have my glasses on at the time!

I had a wonderful homemade dinner at my Uncle Lenny’s house and another marvelous evening at my buddy Inca’s beautiful Tesuque compound.

After filling our bellies we headed north to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa where they have a basic campground with hookups.  We watched the cottonwoods shimmer as we soaked in the hot arsenic pool.  Don’t worry, it’s good for you.  Ojo is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral water including lithia, iron, soda and arsenic.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We continued north to Heron Lake State Park at an elevation of 7,186 ft but it was cold cold cold…

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

so we headed west again on US 40, where we stopped at the world’s best preserved meteor impact site near Winslow, AZ – before standing on the corner…

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

Soon we were surrounded by the Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ where you must do the Pink Jeep Tour.  We stayed at the lovely Dead Horse Ranch State Park in nearby Cottonwood, AZ.

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

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© 2012 Richard Broadwell

© 2012 Richard Broadwell

We stopped for a yet another superb dinner at Aunt Kathy’s in Phoenix before crossing the border into California.  I was in such a hurry to see my BOY and we arrived just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with him.

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We certainly had so much to be thankful for.  The last 18 months and 50,000 miles on the road has been the most amazing journey!  We couldn’t wait to spend the holidays with our wonderful friends and with our special, loving and supportive family without whom this incredible experience would not be possible!

Coming up next:  South of the Border!

Posted in Airstream, Camping, Dogs, Travel, Travel photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments