Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for November 22, 2016

Hola Amigos!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  We do celebrate here in Mexico; it is obviously not a Mexican holiday (they have plenty of their own!) but there are enough Gringos here that the stores have turkeys for sale, and we can even find cranberries!  Apple pie?  Pumpkin pie?  Sure, why not?  We've got the goods, so we can have it.  I think I'll make a lemon meringue pie to have with our dinner.  There will be 8 of us here to try to make a dent in our 20 lb Butterball turkey that Ben has brining right now.  He plans on smoking it Thanksgiving day.  Yum!  
Last Sunday was November 20, which is a very popular Mexican holiday, dia de Revolucion.  Los Barriles always has a parade, and the day of the week makes no difference.  Ben drove the 1929 Model A Ford pickup, since the queen usually rides in it.  We didn't take the 1928 Woody, because Ryan and I were in church running the sound and playing the piano the same time the parade was happening.  Ben did take the camera and got some good pictures, though!

It is a very colorful occasion!  Dances, concerts, bike races, horse races, baseball game, soccer.... something for everyone (there are most likely cock fights somewhere, too).  

We had a nice clear view of the Super Moon here in Baja Sur when it appeared.  

This next weekend is the first car show of the season in La Paz.  Ben will take his '29 pickup for the parade on Saturday afternoon, and the car show on Sunday.  I'll join him after church by taking the bus up.  The bus station is right across the street from the car show, so it is a very convenient way to get there to join him.  

You may have heard that the peso is not doing too well against the US dollar.  Right now it is at about $20 pesos to $1.  We get our cash by using ATMs, and it works well for us (and everyone else!)  Now that the peso is so low, it is very difficult to get out our $500 US limit with one transaction.  We have to ask for $7000 pesos or more, and some ATMs refuse to give that much (the error messages don't help either to figure out why you can't get your money out!)  Our little town has had various ATMs, some OK, some notoriously bad.  The one bank in Los Barriles did some remodeling this summer and vastly improved their ATM area with a wide expance of glass to brighten the ATM lobby and added machines.  However, when people started using the ATMs this fall (who didn't have an account at the bank), they could only get a maximum of $2000 pesos at a time (with an ATM transaction fee of over $80 pesos).  Bah, humbug!  I think this person may have reached the limit of their patience with the bank's lack of helpfulness!  The manager kept saying it was a glitch, and would be fixed "soon"  (same as manaña!)  We get all our pesos on our trips to La Paz or San Jose.  We can find banks with low transaction fees, and high limits. (Not my picture, but we saw it right after it happened). 

I found this moth on our veranda  a few days ago... loved the patterns on him.

Weather is moderating, finally.  We have very pleasant 80+ degree days, and a few windy days interspersed with the calm ones.   We usually have clouds building up in the afternoons, and often here thunder and see lightening, but haven't had any rain for a while.

I've got a few more pictures in our November 2016 Google album.  Enjoy!

Sending our Thanksgiving greetings from Beautiful Baja,

Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for November 8, 2016

Hola Amigos,

I'd say "Happy Election Day", but somehow, that doesn't seem appropriate this year.  Instead, I'll just say "hang on, it will be over soon"!  

We are finally getting some cooler days and nights here.  We've had a few windy days, and that has brought some comfort to us all.  Our friends said it cooled down because they got their new AC installed that day!!   The windsurfing and kite-boarding crowds are arriving, and we watched some of them as we had our breakfast at La Playa Restaurant a few days ago. Exotikite kite school is located there, and there were some people getting ready for lessons.  It isn't my cup of tea, but some folks just love it.  At least the water is warm right now!!

I prefer to sit and sip my coffee and eat my breakfast under the palapa and watch the wind blow!

We've been eating most meals on our north facing veranda.  We see all kinds of birds in our yard and bird feeder, but the other day, we had an interesting visitor to the feeder...a pretty green iguana.  I was able to get fairly close so got some nice shots of him.  I don't think he was eating any of the bird-seed, maybe just looking for insects.  At least he was safe from our dogs!  

The hummingbirds are back!  I have three feeders set up out there that they and the Orioles and Gila Woodpeckers frequent.  Of course with the hummers, they spend as much time fighting over the feeders as eating at them.  Silly birds.  The one below is a Costa Hummingbird with the brilliant purple crown.

I have started a November 2016 Google album that has a few more pictures.  Most of the pics are captioned, and they'll either show up when you go through the individual pictures, or you can click on the "i" in the top right corner for info. I have even included some great photos of the Grandkids that Rebecca shared with us.  :-) 

Zoey is doing about the same.  She can get around, she will attempt to chase lizards and cats (she can move fast!) but it is tough for her to walk straight on a slick tile floor!  We keep seeing little bits of improvement, so we hope that she gains more mobility in time.  

So far this season, we're all healthy, so that's something to celebrate!  We probably eat too well, with all this fresh seafood and fruits and vegetables, but we love to suffer.  Here we are after a breakfast with our friends Katie and Mel (from Sisters, dry camping at Los Frailes for about 5 months) the other day.  We've got another expedition planned with them tomorrow to Cabo San Lucas, to visit more friends from the Bend, Oregon area. (And of course, a trip to Costco is in order, too!)

Hope you are all well!

Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for October 25, 2016

Hola, Amigos!

We have been back home for almost 3 weeks now, and it has been our hottest October ever!  Temps have been in the 90's every day but a couple, and that's what the weather forecast is looking like for the foreseeable future.  Ryan says it's hotter now than it was all summer!  Crazy.  We are very much appreciating the AC in our bedroom at night so we can sleep!

I was so anxious to tell you about our trip home last time that I neglected to tell you about our final camping trip with our friends George and Carolyn.  They hadn't been to Hart Mountain yet this summer, and they asked if we'd like to go along.  Well, sure!!  Even though we'd get back just a day or two before we needed to pack up and head south, we don't pass up opportunities to go to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.  We even managed to sneak in a dinner at Cowboy Dinner Tree near Silver Lake, since they'd never been there before.  There was a cancellation, so we were lucky to get in. (The plan was to get enough food here so we didn't have to cook for several days!!  It worked!)

We camped with our trailers just across the street and had freezing temps that night.  Unfortunately, G & C's furnace wasn't working!  But with a little ingenuity, and the correct part at Ace Hardware in Lakeview, George was able to get the furnace to turn on; he just had to do it manually, so he still had to get up several times every night to turn it on and off.  

We camped at the bottom of the mountain for two nights and did some exploring down at the base, including the petroglyphs and the glass house that Ben & I visited last year.  The road out to these "attractions" is very rough (it included some serious mud puddles this year due to some heavy rains a few days before), so although it is a short distance (6.5 miles, mas o menos) it takes quite a while to get there and back!  The house is built up on the peak of a hill, and it is all plexiglass!  Really!  Roof and all.  It is abandoned now, and the property is probably owned by BLM, but it is fun to go check this out, and imagine trying to live here!  The original builder had an elaborate water system and a generator to run his electrical.  I imagine solar would be a good idea if you were going to live here now.  But golly, it sure is a long, hard drive to the grocery store for bread and milk!

Here is a good sample of the petroglyph art.  This critter (antelope?  goat?) has a little baby attached!

Ben and Carolyn spent a day back at Spectrum Sunstone mine, and this time they did it the "easy" way.  They spent an hour on a moving belt, pulling the pretty sunstones out.  They probably got as many in one hour as Ben and I did working it with the shovel and screen for 8 hours!  Live and learn!

 Here they are dividing the spoils.  What fun!

Of course, Hart Mountain is an Antelope refuge, so we did take a drive to check out how many antelope we could see.  Numbers seemed to be down, at least where we were looking, but we did see about 40 or 50 on our 20 mile drive.  And yes, that is patches of snow on that mountain peak!  It had snowed up to 6" on the mountain tops a few days before we got there.  

  OK.... back in Baja.  Ben has been busy as usual helping other folks get their houses in order.  Our friend Ruby is back for the first time in 4 years, and found her rental house in pretty bad shape due to various reasons.  Ben has helped her seal a leaky sink, look for batteries for her ATV, taken a termite ridden chair to the garbage (first to a carpenter to see if it could be repaired), arranged for a gardener to come clean her yard.  She is very appreciative!  Then our friend Mary also had a dead battery in her car, so he was her chauffeur for a day as she had commitments here and there the day she needed her car to be running.  I've been enjoying the quiet here in our casa, although they are building yet another new garage in Vista del Mar right in front of our casa.  This is the view from our roof.  At least these buildings don't obstruct our view of the ocean.  Ryan thinks we should "rent the roofs" to put solar panels on for our house!  If they wouldn't glare back in our eyes, it might not be a bad plan!  


We are happy to report that our newest "favorite" breakfast restaurant is open again for the season, and they will be serving dinner, too, starting on Friday.  This is La Playa, with great food and a wonderful view of the beach.

 My latest crochet project is this little beanie, which I made for our church's Christmas Shoebox gifts for the poor kids in the community.  The pattern is called "Brain Waves", and it's a good way to get rid of bits and pieces of yarn!  I hope to make a few more before the deadline.  

Had dinner at Tio's with friends last night, and they are ready for Halloween.  Look at this spider they have hanging in there!  It's not quite as big as the one I killed in our bedroom the other day (just kidding...but ours was big....and fast!!)

You may have noticed that I haven't directed you to any albums lately.  Since Picasa went away, all our photos have been migrated to Google Photos.  I've tried several various online photo sites, and it seems that Google is the obvious place to go.  I'm still working out some bugs, but I do have an October album if you want to check it out.  Just click on this link: 
October 2016 Purkey Photos.

If you want to see the captions, click on the individual picture, then click on the "i" on the top right (info).  The caption will then show up on the right.  You can also scroll through the pictures from that point with the arrow on the photo's right or left side.  (Move your mouse cursor over in that area if you don't see it.)

If you're a real glutton for photos, I also have a September 2016 album.

OK!  That's it for several more weeks.  We hope you're thinking seriously about coming to visit.  We may have guests for a week in mid December, but everything else is quite open.  And if you like HOT weather, the time to visit is NOW.  (If you've voted, you might as well check out Mexico!)

Hasta la proxima vez,
Tus amigos de Baja,
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for October 11, 2016

Hola Amigos!

We're home!  Hooray!!   We had a busy summer; fortunately, not too many things needed fixing on the truck or travel trailer.

We took our trailer to Tygh Valley on September 30th and put it away for the winter, then got our truck all packed up on Saturday, October 1st at about 3pm, and Ben said "Let's go to Lakeview".  So we did!  We got into Lakeview at about 7pm, and had dinner at our favorite restaurant there, Mario's.  Delicious!   The next day, we drove to Bishop, California, through the Sierra Nevada's.   Beautiful as usual, with lovely fall colors and sunny skies with some clouds to the west.  (There was a pretty stiff wind blowing, but we weren't hauling any trailers, so no problems.)  Turns out there was snow in those clouds!  Friends at Lake Tahoe reported snow that day!

The next day, we went from Bishop, all the way to Ensenada, Baja California!  We got to San Diego where we usually spend the night, and it was only about 2pm, so Ben said "let's cross the border and go to Ensenada".  So we did!  No issues crossing the border....we drove right through in the "Nothing to Declare" line.  We had another lovely meal that night at a French restaurant across the street from our hotel.  I know, I know...we were in Mexico, but that food was delicious!  The woman who started the restaurant in 1947 actually was born and raised in the mining town of El Triunfo, near our home, and went to Cordon Bleu school in France.  Here' a happy Ben with his seafood dinner.  (Not showing the piece of Swordtail fish that came with it)!  

The next day was a short one.  I actually got Ben to stop at about 1pm and stay at the hotel in Catavina.  The hotel has been upgraded from previous stops, and has electricity all day.  (They must keep the generator running all the time).  We had siestas and caught up on needed rest from our long driving days.  The next morning, it was rather foggy, which they get from time to time in that area.  Actually, it was kind of nice having the fog instead of having the sun shining in our eyes that early in the morning!  (That isn't raindrops on the windshield...Ben had just sprayed the window washer to clean up the bug spots a bit).

The Baja Peninsula is narrow enough we can get weather from either ocean, the Pacific or the Sea of Cortez.  I think the fog is usually from the Pacific side.

That night we made it to Loreto.  Ben had looked up a hotel recommendation the night before, and we were determined to find it.  We drove into the center or Loreto, and we drove north, and east, and west, and south, and asked various people "donde esta este hotel La Damiana?" and for the most part got blank looks.  Several people did give directions, told us the color, and we drove right by it at least 2 times before we finally found it. (There are big trees on the curb that hide it).   Turns out it is just a block past the intersection at the traffic light and grocery store, on a street to the right, and down just a few buildings.  It is an old, old Mexican house that an American lady has fixed up very nice.  Lovely gardens, and room for us to squeeze our truck in behind the gate to park at night.  

Our very large room was just to the left of the front doors, which was convenient for me and my two dogs!  Those two signs above the vacancy sign were awards for best hotel the previous two years.  It is definitely a place we'd like to visit again (especially when the Uruguayan restaurant on the corner is open for dinner!)

We made it home on Thursday afternoon at 3pm, after shopping for groceries in La Paz and getting some pesos.  It looks SO good here.  The temps this past few days since we returned has been in the high 80's and low 90's, but according to the weather forecast, it's going to be warmer this week.  Thankfully, we have AC in our bedroom at night, so it feels really good!  Ryan survived the summer (it wasn't too hot, according to him) and kept the place neat and tidy (by calling the gardener and house cleaner when needed!)  The dogs are happy to be here, we're happy to be here, and we're ready for your visit!  

The trees in our entry garden are getting big!
Add caption
 Our flowering tree is blooming (don't know it's name).

And Zoey is waiting for your arrival.  (We padded the dog door in the screen so she doesn't scrape her hind legs going over).  She is walking wobbly, and I took the dogs down to the beach yesterday.  She was exhausted when we got back, so it may have been a bit much, but she was anxious to go again today! Maybe mañana!

We hope that you are thinking about coming to see us.  Just give us a call (541-854-5303) or send an e-mail.  The guest room is ready and waiting!  

Tus amigos de Baja
Harriet, Ben, Ryan, Sam & Zoey

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pic-of-the-Week for September 13, 2016

We're back!  

It has been a crazy summer in many ways.  Like I said last time, we make plans, and something comes along to change them.  I guess it's a good thing that we are pretty flexible.

I'll finish up on our "cross country" trip news.  I left off with us in Montana at our friends' cabin near St. Regis.  We left there and headed for Missoula, MT and the Lolo Pass.  FYI, that is the pass that Lewis and Clark used when they were headed west.  It's a beautiful area with a lovely creek beside the road and lots of fishermen.  Further down the road in Idaho, we went through a town (Riggins, I think) along side the Salmon River that reminded us of Maupin, Oregon, which is a very popular rafting destination on the Deschutes River.  Riggins is also a jump off point for rafting tours in Hell's Canyon on the Snake River.  

It was a long day, but we finally got to Zim's Hot Springs near New Meadows, Idaho.  The hot springs were perfect, the facilities were fine for one night, and we woke up to a lovely foggy sunrise...and the fog burned right off.

It looks like the Hot Springs are contributing to the foggy conditions a bit!

That day we wanted to get to Frenchglen, Oregon, so we took off and compared diesel prices as we went...mostly high.  So we got about a quarter tank in New Meadow.  We were planning on filling up in Ontario, but somehow, Ontario got passed us, and we were on Hwy 20 heading to Burns.  We saw a sign that said "next fuel 63 miles", and said to ourselves "sure hope they have diesel!"  Well, by the time that 63 miles had gone by, our fuel alarm was going off and we were running on fumes!  We don't get very good mileage when we're pulling that trailer.  Ugh.  We rolled into the little whistle stop of Buchanan, and hallelujah, they had diesel!  We were willing to spend any price to get enough fuel to get us into Burns.  We filled up the tank in Burns (20 miles away),  and replenished our groceries, then headed out to Frenchglen.  

We spent a couple days at the RV park near Frenchglen, and did a "half" tour of the Steens Mountain Loop road; we just drove to the top and returned the same way.  As usual, the views are stunning, the wildflowers abundant, and the birds soaring!  We also drove to the big town of Diamond (population 3) to the Diamond Hotel for breakfast.  


 A couple signs I saw in the hotel gift shop at Diamond.  

Continental breakfast at Diamond.

Then it was on to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, where it is dry camping all the way...except for the hot springs!  There is no electricity, only a few spots near the headquarters where you can get spotty cell service, and obviously, no wifi!  We managed, however, and did see a lot of Antelope (actually Pronghorn).  We didn't see many on our normal loop drive, because they all seem to be hanging around the headquarters area.  We did see deer and a lone coyote, though.

After a couple days at Hart Mountain, we loaded up and went to Oregon's Sunstone area, about 20 miles north of Plush.  There we paid $200 to go through a little less than a yard of rock to search for those sparkly gems.  Phew!  It was HOT.  We did manage to find a good amount, and a few really pretty ones.  Ben says next time, he'll be sure to take more than a gallon of gas for our generator.  The trailer was cooking that night, and we could have used some AC!

Anyhow, we'd put a shovel full at a time on the screen, wet it down, and paw through for the sunstones.  

The photo below shows all the ones we found.  

This is the sunset the night we mined for sunstones.  The color was from a fire very near Paisley, Oregon.  It made for a beautiful sunset!  

We got back to Bend in time for the annual Purkey reunion, and did at least one trip with the family to the Metolious River.  I can't believe I don't have a picture of the entire family!  This is at the fish hatchery near the Metolious, where we had a picnic.

This is a falls, about 2 miles from the hatchery.  Ben and I drove around and took the shorter 1/2 mile hike to the falls so we could pick up the other folks who did the longer hike.  The water just comes gushing out of the hill.  It is an amazing spot.  The river is fast and deep and clear, and this just adds to the overall beauty.  

After that, it was a few more medical appointments and changed plans due to Ben's Moh's surgery for Basal Cell cancer on his face.  We finally did get to visit most of the folks we promised we'd visit, including our friends Debi and Sandy who have a neat place near Cathlamet, WA.  In the photo below, Ben is teaching Debi how to fillet a tuna (which we bought in Astoria).  Delicious!  

We even manged to spend about 4 days in Salem (first time this summer) to visit friends.  Sorry we missed so many of you.  We'll try to do better next summer.  

That's it... you're caught up with us.  This weekend we will be going to the Pendleton Roundup, and hopefully next week we will do some more camping with our friends George and Carolyn.  Then it will be time to pack up, put the trailer away, and head south!  It is getting COLD here in Bend.  

Don't forget to plan your Baja vacation!  We'd love to see you on the other side of the wall!

Zoey is still recovering, although still wobbly.  Gotta love her!

Your friends who are starting to get cold!
Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey