When we joined the Western Horizon Park
System, we had to choose a
"home park". Just why that is I have no clue and the rules and
regulations relating to park usage and home park usage is too
confusing to recount here! Suffice it to say that Elsie
understands all this minutia and I don't have to! But, we choose
Casa Grande because it is a smaller city that is just starting to grow
with snowbirds. Indio and Yuma have already undergone the
transformation to LARGE. In Indio, it takes over 30 minutes just
to drive to a Safeway and Yuma is little better. In Casa Grande
the traffic is almost no problem and all facilities are easy to get
to. In the next ten years, all this will change and Casa Grande
too will swell to become unwieldy. But, for the next few years
we can enjoy.
The idea here is that we spend two weeks, for free, in a Western Horizon Park (WHP) and one week out in another system (we have 5 other systems to choose from). Now this does not count if you are going into your home park or Kino Bay Mexico. Again why??? who knows!!!! We decided to spend two weeks in Casa Grande and then head south to Kino Bay. Now at Kino Bay you can spend up to six weeks, for free, and then "buy" your week out for $105.00 US, and then spend another 6 weeks for free. Are you confused yet???? Also, if you choose to do work at Kino Bay you can stay as long as you wish. Now, you are really confused!!! On top of that, everyone seems to have paid a different amount to join WHP. Conversations on this topic in the hot tubs of all WHP go on for hours and hours. No one really understands. All we can figure is that we paid a little less than most of the others and more than a few lucky ones. Given that Elsie was doing the negotiations, is anyone surprised that we got a good deal?????
Casa Grande park Desert Shadows is a neat place. It has a really busy activity schedule stretching from cards to exercise to all sorts of crafts etc. Or, you can do as we mostly do, simply read and choose only those activities that interest us. One of the best activities is the dinners and lunches they provide. Five nights a week they lay on a dinner for up to $6.00 and three days a week they lay on lunch for $3.00. When you consider that we are not paying a daily rate to stay in the park, the cost of travel is getting manageable. (I know that Elsie will be upset here so I had better mention that you do have to pay $1.00 per day because the electricity is so expensive down here ... so there is a daily fee ... but for a buck ... hardly worth mentioning eh?
We pull into Desert Shadows and park beside another rig from BC. Now this is where it gets scary.... follow carefully now .... While in Pilot Knob we met a couple Frank and Ruth who were full timing it in a Teton Home 5th wheel. They had just bought a huge tractor to pull their rig and were having problems with the quality control. It was good to have them as neigbours and we ran into them again in Desert Shadows. We also met in Pilot Knob the Rory and Kathleen O'Sullivans who were from North Van. In fact their sons had both gone to Argyle and Kathleen was the Head Secretary in Balmoral. We had a great time sharing names and experiences of colleagues. To our surprise, not only were Frank and Ruth in the same street as we were but so were Rory and Kathleen. Now, back to the rig beside us. Pay attention ... there will be a test on all this at the end!!!! Our neighbours turned out to be also from North Van . We have all heard about 6 degrees of separation but this was really strange. Their names are Ron and Diane Worth. On chatting with them, it turned out that their son is Colin Worth who was the first RCMP liaison officer for Argyle and he married one of the Argyle staff. Now it doesn't stop here ... it turned out that Ron worked for IBM and remembered meeting Elsie at the WCB in the late 60's. Elsie was one of the first women in the computing field so Ron remembered meeting her. Now this is peculiar ... right???? Hold on ... it gets even more strange. Diane was a teacher in Delta and worked with Elsie's brother's wife's step sister and her husband. By the time we had sussed all this out, it was Happy Hour which was a good thing because my brain was hurting. Thank God for Happy Hour!!!
Needless to say, we had a good time in Desert Shadows. It became a combination of rest and relaxation and wandering the local area. One day we drove out to Gila Bend (the G is pronounced H) to see the petroglyphs. It was just over an hour drive back on the highway and then 15 miles into the desert. If you remember, I set up Elsie's Christmas gift ... the GPS ... so she had the damn thing with her in the car. Off we go in the Honda, with the computer safely nestled on Elsie's lap. I haven't mentioned much about this gizmo but for Elsie it is a dream come true. Once she locks onto a satellite she knows with several feet just where we are on the earth's surface. She knows the altitude and speed and can see for miles on either side of our path any road, big or small, that exists. As you all know, Elsie hates sitting in the car running down the Interstate. She would rather be on a side road where she says the views are more exciting. I wouldn't know of course as driving on some of these tiny roads requires so much attention that I rarely see much outside the vehicle. Today was no exception ....
The roads were paved all the way to the petroglyphs. We got there with no problems and found that it was really quite neat to see graffiti from over 5000 years. I can just picture the parents of the guys who drew these pictures complaining much like we do about our "taggers" today. I guess it only takes several thousand years of existence to change something from being a disgrace and ugly to being an historical site. I have included a bunch of pictures of these figures ... it is interesting to see. It was time to head back and I should have been more alert ... As we drove, Elsie is staring at the damn GPS. Motoring down this nicely paved side road was not acceptable to my intrepid navigator. "Turn left" she suddenly said. Not thinking, I comply and found ourselves on a dirt road running parallel to an irrigation ditch running through some farmer's fields. Remember that this is in the high desert where the ground is sand when dry and goop when it is wet. Do you remember that there has been more rain down here than they have had for years? Well, as you can imagine we were in for an interesting ride. "No problem", she says. "This road cuts off a couple of miles off the other road". You remember ... the nicely paved one?
Well, the first part of the road looked OK. It was sand but reasonably graded. In for a penny in for a pound ... I figured OK lets try it. We were great for several miles and then the road turned wet. When this stuff gets wet, you have no clue about how deep the puddles are, but you do know that if you stop, you will need a tow truck to get out. Just keep going and hope like hell you don't have to stop or that there is now bottom to the puddle. The mud is splashing up the sides of the Honda and even over the roof. The windshield became translucent. The washers would not be able to move the glue that was forming. I glance over at Elsie and there she was .... holding on for dear life, a huge grin plastered all over her face, her eyes not really in focus and screaming "WhaHoooooo". She does terrify me at times.
To make a long story short, we did get to Gila Bend and a gas station to get the windows clean enough to see the way home to Casa Grande. On arrival home we went immediately to a car wash that had high pressure hoses. Six dollars and twenty minutes later we could identify the Honda again. The colour of the mud was the same shade as the Honda so as we washed, the only thing to really change was the weight of the vehicle. I'll bet there was over 100 pounds of muck on, over and under the car. So much for the GPS making my life easier .....
Yet another day, there was the Cactus Fly-In in Casa Grande. The municipal airport hosted a vintage plane fly in one weekend. It was really fun to stand on the runway watching all the little planes taking off and landing. They had some really old 1920's examples and some of the more modern ones. We had a really great morning there, and for the afternoon we went to the chile cookoff and car show. This was a busy day and Happy Hour could not come soon enough!!
During the weeks there, we were talking to Ron and Diane Worth who had just returned from Kino Bay. They gave us detailed maps on how to get to the campsite and really peaked our interest about this park. There was nothing else to do but to book two weeks in Mexico to see how we liked it.
Getting into Mexico is a chore! Not only do you have to cross the border into the country, usually not a problem, but you have to go through the tourist card visa center about 20 km's into Mexico. Because we were not sure about driving times, we picked a campsite just a little north of Nogales for one night. This was one of those lucky choices you sometimes make. It used to be a dog race track in the '80's and now has been converted into a camp ground with lots of neat things to do in this area. The town next to it is Tubac Az famous for its crafts and stores... Just a little north is Green Valley a huge retirement village. Lots to see and do here so we will have to return next year for a little longer visit.
Now Mexico ... what to say ... Car insurance first I guess. Our Canadian Insurance is not valid here so you must buy Mexican Insurance. It costs $62.50 per day to insure Harvey so we insured him only for the day drive into Kino Bay and the day drive home. We insured the Honda for the 15 days and it cost around $170.00. So if you go for a short time it tends to be a bit spendy to come down here. Paradoxically, it only costs very little more to insure for 6 months so next time we will come down for longer than 2 weeks.
Documents ... You have to have copies of driver's license, passports, car registration to give them about 21 km's into Mexico. You have to pull over and get into a line to get your tourist card ($21.00). Then you get into another line and find out that you have to give them a copy of the tourist card you just got. No problem they say ... there are people just outside the door who will make copies for you for 25 cents a copy. Minimum cost is 2.50. As we had made our copies at home, we only had to have copies of the tourist card. Not 50 cents ... no ... 2.50 minimum. What a rip!!! Then you had to fill in form after form as you stand in line with others waiting ... after that you got into another line if you were going south of Sonora Province where you paid more and got another card and windshield decal. It can take several hours to complete all this while standing in the hot sun. All this from a poor country that really needs tourist dollars .... GO FIGURE .....
The roads down here to Hermosillo are not bad. They are toll roads (about 36.00 US ) and are four lanes so we encountered no real problems. One thing did happen as we were rolling along at 60 mph .... all of a sudden it sounded like someone was throwing rocks at our windshield. It sounded like a machine gun and suddenly we could barely see out the window. We had run into a swarm of bees and had several thousand of the little buggers committing suicide on each side of the wind screen. The wipers would have little impact on the carcasses so we continued albeit a little slower. After Hermosillo the road switches to two lanes and then it gets fun. Trucks heading straight towards you at 60 mph and giving no quarter on their side of the road. The lane is just over 8 feet wide ,... as is Harvey ... and also the trucks are over 8 feet wide. Add to this that most of the road sides have broken down and potholes abound and the drive was a little scary. But we made it to Old Kino and on to New Kino and to the road out to the Park.
The road to the campsite is only 10 miles long but is all gravel, mostly wash boardy and full of potholes. With any vehicle on airbags, like most A Class RV's, washboard is HELL. That 10 mile road takes over one and a half hours to cover. But you do make it and what do you find???? PARADISE!!!!!!!!!!!
Now this place is great!!! There are probably 50 sites or so all on a bluff over looking the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) All sites are level with a cement pad with a picnic table. There is 30 amp power to each site and a sewer connection for only the grey water. Fresh water is metered at each site and goes for 10 cents a gallon. The views from the sites are out of this world. The temperatures vary during the day from 75 to over 90 degrees with usually a breeze to make sure that it is comfortable. The sky is usually deep blue which contrasts with the lighter blue of the water.
Does this sound like paradise???? It will do for us until something better comes along!!!!!
Every RV Park we have been to in the past has usually been friendly. The RVers tend to be a social group who seem to enjoy similar kinds of things. Of course, there has always been the odd "exclusive" type who can be ignored but they are in the minority. Here, there is only "inclusive" people. We had just arrived, set up and were cooking dinner when a knock came on the door. A women was standing there and invited us the next day to go back into town for a crab tostitto (sp?) lunch. We agreed, of course, and next day we jumped into a pickup and roared back into Old Kino to the Oyster Farm. Here was where the oyster boats brought in their catch and was typically Mexican ... flies everywhere under a roof covering a bunch of picnic tables. I won't bore you with much more detail, but for a buck you got a Tostito about the size of a saucer that was covered to a height of 2 inches with fresh crab. Three of these suckers and you were full. So, for 3.00 plus .80 for a pop, you got a crab meal that was fit for a king. Or.... you could have raw oysters ... or shrimp for the same price. WOW was I a happy camper!!!
The next day we were invited to go to Shell Beach to hunt for sea shells. This beach once covered a lot more land and as the land rose, the shells at the bottom became the shore of the present beach. All you had to do is knock them out of the sand. just what Elsie is going to do with the resulting bucket of shells is anyone's guess. To get to the beach, you have to drive through a Seri Indian Village. The Seri Indian make these world famous baskets that if you are into Indian crafts you would die for. The vary in cost from 20.00 for a small one to over 1200.00 US for one about 2 feet in diameter and 3 feet high. Nice to look at, but not our "cup of tea"!
The next day we were back in Old Kino for a good bye dinner for some people who had been there since the American Thanksgiving. I had garlic prawns, Elsie had a special prawn dish, and we both had a huge Margarita. Each plate had 10 or 12 large prawns ... just how close is heaven???? The total bill for both of us was $27.00. The Marlin is famous for its good deals.
The Campsite has a swimming pool and hot tub that seem to stretch over onto the beach. We have been trying to swim each day but there is so much going on it is hard to fit in everything. If you decide to just sit outside and read, it won't take but a second and someone wanders over, sits down and begins to talk. I thought that I was a good talker, but some of these guys could talk the bark off a stump!! The first day, one fellow, Maurice from Ontario, wandered by and I mentioned that our satellite dish did not get a signal. Well ... that was sufficient! The next thing I know he is off like a hare and when he returns it is with his spare external dish and begins hooking it up for us. But, Harvey, having the roof mounted dish, means that to hook up another dish, you have to get behind the satellite receiver inside and disconnect the roof and connect the external. This did not sit well with Maurice and off he goes to get an "A B switch" which he proceeds to install. Now, if I want the roof dish I choose "A" and the outside one I choose "B". It seems that this kind of thing is his hobby!
Well, I won't go on too much more. Except I must mention last night's dinner in yet another restaurant in Old Kino. Almost the entire group was there at Comedor Vickies where for 6.00 we were served a full course Mexican meal complete with pop and desert. Today, we are back to the oyster farm for more crab. Thursday March 17th there is a big St Paddies Day meal here at the camp grounds .... it just continues .... and continues .... and continues .... I think we know where we will spend next winter!!!!!! We leave here on March 22nd and head to Nevada for Easter.
I have to get this off this morning as right now I am piggy backing off the neighbours satellite dish. He is leaving today so I will have to get this done.
So, all is well here, and we hope that all is well with you ........ It seems that there has been a lot of sickies at home and too many people having to resort to the medical community while we are away. We will catch up with you on our return April 3rd. Why in early April you ask???????
Joe, Elsie, and Hops who is learning to bark in Mexican ..