San Felipe: RV Repairs, Off Road Races, and I Was Right About the Dead Mouse

Travis flew off to New York City to play a gig at Carnegie Hall; I stayed in San Felipe, hit the beach as much as possible and am handling our RV repairs, plus get to experience the San Felipe 250 road race.

San Felipe 250

The road race was Saturday and about what I expected: tons of spectators and vendors down at the Malec贸n, tons of dust flying through the air, and lots of people dicking around on the sand dunes next door to our RV park. We watched the trophy trucks at the starting line (fun, but a 30mph speed zone) then followed their path to the end of the speed zone where they really start ripping through the dust. Fun! But after 4 or 5 go by, I definitely got the idea and went back to camp to cool down because it was a hot motherfucker of a day.

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Behold the massive dust cloud in the background!

To be honest I didn’t follow much of the coverage; though two spectators did die, sadly. They were hit by a trophy truck driven by Ed Herbst; there’s actually very little information regarding the circumstances. It’s unclear if the spectators were standing too close or if the truck lost control on the straightaway, or perhaps both. The race was broadcast live on YouTube, what little coverage I saw wasn’t extremely engaging. The few spots where I did see trucks crossing at the roads or under bridges was pretty cool, though. Those trucks are BANANAS.

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VROOOOOOOOM

We went to a group dinner at a nearby restaurant (by nearby I am talking a 4-minute drive) and due to the insane post-race traffic it took us 25 minutes of sitting on a tiny stretch of road while police did their best to direct traffic. Imagine two lanes each direction, creating two lanes out of your single lane, meanwhile anyone with an ORV or all-wheel drive simply drove onto the shoulder and cut ahead at the front of the line. Face palm. But totally worth it to be the only people in the restaurant the entire evening.

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Dinner at La Galeria!

After dropping a friend off at a nearby restaurant with live music on the Malec贸n, (and maybe after a tequila shot or two), we walked back from the madness to the relative peace of the RV park. The craziness had died down, the race crowd was turning in. I discovered I had no running water because some crazy woman drove over the water pipe with her ATV earlier in the day and broke the (overground!) PVC water pipe that our rig is connected to. 馃檮

RV Repair Update

As far as the RV repairs go, the process of getting repairs done took a bit longer than one who lives in the U.S. might expect. Showing up at an appointed time isn’t the norm here; running late isn’t a big deal.

That being said, it’s also been a good lesson in my least present virtue: patience. My only concern has been that the work is completed by April 16th, because once we leave here we go to visit my brother in Australia and ain’t nothin’ gonna screw up that plan, come hell or high water. I don’t necessarily mind tardiness, what I do mind is when someone says they’ll be back in two hours and never shows up.

Originally, the contractor and carpenter were going to remove the fiberglass front cap of the RV to assess the damage (we had some water damage, if you’ll recall), buy the proper materials, and fix it up. I was more than nervous about how they would put the damn thing back together. “Shouldn’t a seasoned RV professional do that kinda thing,” my brain asked, pointedly. “Maybe RVs just aren’t as complicated as a seasoned RV professional would lead you to believe,” my brain shot back, also pointedly.

The carpenter showed up on Wednesday of last week and promptly stated that they would do all the work from inside, without removing the front end, much to my relief. I was grateful they were honest about thinking that it wasn’t a good idea for them to take it off, because they weren’t sure they’d be able to get it back on properly.

By Friday at 6:30, they had ripped out and replaced our closet and did a great job to boot. I am impressed that four dudes were able to get it done in a relatively tight space in two days. They replaced a good amount of the wood framing, added extra support, put in all new insulation, and added brand spanking new walls and lovely edging. And sure enough I was right about there being a dead mouse in there. I suspect it wiggled up there when we were parked in West Virginia for a month without moving. Poor little guy. Glad he’s outta there now, though.

After that, the contractor added reinforced tape and plastic mesh for structure underneath a layers of waterproof sealant on our roof. All of that was then topped with 3 layers of another sealant.

The good news? We save a ton of money by getting repairs done here. The bad news? The repairs done on the roof ultimately were not the proper repairs we needed and did not stay sealed as the contractor swore up and down it would. They basically fixed the problem by covering the entire problem with more stuff, rather than fixing the underlying issue first.

Truth be told I knew it wasn’t the right fix, but I lost the steam to try to communicate why what they were doing was wrong, and I felt the contractor assumed that because I was a woman, I probably was overconcerned and didn’t know what I was talking about. Trust me when I say I’m not happy about being right; just disappointed I didn’t trust my own instincts more.

Other Stuff

We’ve enjoyed many a meal, margarita, beer, and adventure with lots of great people here.

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John and Blair!

Thanks to the restaurant manager here, Victoria, I got to ride an ATV again! We rode through town, through the hills, to a private rocky beach at sundown then stopped for ice cream on the way back. YAS.

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ATV is the life for me

I also ventured to San Felipe Brewery with the kids from Away We Winnebago and a few other pals, ate many a shrimp taco at Adriana’s taco stand on the Malec贸n (thanks for showing us the way, Uncle Blair!), and got to experience the hot springs that bubble up through the sand at uber low tide around the rocky point at the end of the Malec贸n. Thank you to Victor, Jr. and Victoria for taking me there!

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This is me sitting in a pool of thermal water in the sand.

Travis made it back from New York, but not before losing his wallet on his last night there. He thought it had been stolen; turns out kid dropped it on the streets of Manhattan and an extremely kind person found it, looked him up on Facebook, and sent him a message to return it.

Travis, not being a Facebook checker, never saw the message. After flying from NYC to San Diego, running to the post office to send in our taxes (that’s right), making the bus to the border with minutes to spare, taking a second bus from the border to San Felipe, and settling in the following day, this kind soul looked ME up on Facebook and sent a message saying he had found the wallet and hopefully I would see the message.

The wallet contained all the cards and cash it originally did and this amazing human sent it back to us.

Also just to make things a little more complicated before leaving I found what seemed to be a lost or abandoned cat in the RV park the day before we left. As a person who loves kitties, I gave her food and tried to find her a place to go in the hours before heading to a birthday celebration for the RV parks owner, Victor and his family. Long story short, I found someone who would take care of her, thanks to Facebook. So two points for Facebook this week.

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Little lady is safe.

Wednesday morning we packed up and hit the road again after 5 weeks of sitting still. We said goodbyes to our RV park friends and sat at the border crossing for two hours, but made it none worse for the wear.

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We will miss you, San Felipe!

Next stop: Vista, CA and Sydney, Australia! 馃榾

 

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San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

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Yessss, we made it! Travis nailed the parking job, too!

We have posted up in the small beach town of San Felipe in Baja, Mexico for a about a month now! My apologies for being awful about posting; the internet here isn’t the best so I have been reserving it for work.

We originally planned on staying here for 3 weeks, but 3 has turned into 5. You’ll have to keep reading if you want to know why.

San Felipe is the first beach town you’ll get to if you take the Federal Highway 5 south from Mexicali on the Gulf coast side.

We’re staying at Victor’s RV Park & Seaside Hotel on the southern end of town. I called ahead of time and spoke my best Spanish to ask about sites, amenities, and other details. After connecting with Lili, the park’s manager, via email we were offered a site closest to the office for the best wi-fi connection. This site was closer to the road than the beach though, so we opted for a spot just behind a trailer-turned-bungalow on the beach.

Figuring out which spot we would reserve is tricky, because we were getting emails that said “If your RV fits here, you can have this spot.” While they were super helpful in sending lots of photos of each site, I did my best to explain that we needed them to tell us if the RV would fit because I had no way to know that ahead of time. We ended up parking crooked in our site (#22) but I actually think it turned out better that way.

The only downside is that the sewer connection is pretty high off the ground, so emptying the tanks involves a lot of hose wrangling. But we can see the gulf outside our side window and are positioned to get a lovely moving breeze of the water when it warms up, which we definitely wouldn’t get if we were positioned straight in the site.

The park has a really nice beach front palapa (a traditional Mexican shelter roofed with palm leaves or branches) in front of a dining room/bar/salon that keeps odd hours. Though they were open for all of Semana Santa (spring break) and the San Felipe 250 off road race.

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Sunrises here are always in beast mode.

Sunrises are hands down the most stunning thing about this place. I’ve seen more sunrises in the last couple weeks than I have in my entire life (not a morning person) and each one is colorful and amazing to watch.

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Morning view from the Palapa.

The beach view is outstanding and the bay is shallow and has a sandy bottom. When the tide is out you can walk quite far into the tidal flats and find a shell here and there. The smell of sulfur is quite strong when the tide goes out, too.

When the tide is in, you can see tons of little fish jumping out of the water, dolphins, and sea lions will also swim by. The sand is pale and dry and lovely, but I won’t lie: there’s definitely dog poop and broken glass in the sand here. The beachfront in front of Victor’s is always clean, but as you walk in either direction, you gotta watch where you step.

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This hammock = prime siesta real estate.

As I mentioned, the internet here isn’t the best, unfortunately. This park has a main router in the office with 3 extenders, none of which work that well. I’ve found it works really well super early in the morning and as the day goes on (presumably as more people use it), it gets worse and worse. I am able to get my work done, eventually, but it’s a little like working in a tub of molasses. And do note that I’m not using video streaming or anything fancy, just regular old apps in my internet browser(s).

Perhaps not surprisingly there are a lot of Americans here. Perhaps even less surprising is that there are a lot of Americans who spend a LOT of time here and speak zero Spanish. I’ve loved being able to speak Spanish every day; I’ve gone into nearly every tchotchke shop just to strike up a conversation with whoever works there. The people here are very warm and friendly and willing to talk to you in Spanish if you try. Most will greet you initially with the phrase “Good price, good price.” I can’t imagine living somewhere for half or the full year and not even trying to learn the language. Face palm.

That being said we’ve met a lot of great folks staying here in the RV park. We’re posted up across from Away We Winnebago, who have been more than generous with their martini and pi帽a colada supply. Thanks guys! We’ve met Blair aka “Bozo” from Canada, Jon from Alabama via Los Angeles, and Ron & Sharon who live in the house we’re behind – Chicagoans who spend half the year here to escape the winter. Ron and Sharon have been coming to San Felipe for 9 or 10 years and are basically the Den Mothers for anyone who comes to stay here.

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This is a typical afternoon for us. 馃檪

Our days here basically see us up by 6 am to start working East coast hours; at 2:30 I wrap up and talk a walk down to the Malec贸n and back to get my legs working again. If it’s hot enough I’ll hop into the water; but mostly we read or hang out with our RV park pals and make or go out to dinner. While I’m said I can’t crush through the latest season of Love on Netflix, I am truly grateful to not have the option to watch anything. Instead I’m crushing through John Irving’s 800-page tome, Until I Find You聽that I snapped up at the massive book swap at Club de Pesca’s Tienda Lim贸n next door.

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A rare shot of the San Felipe sign without anyone hanging on it.

Puertecitos Day Trip

IMG_2694There’s not a whole lot nearby in either direction – desert, mostly….! We took a Saturday day trip to nearby Puertecitos to check out the Hot Springs there. You have to time it with the tide as the springs themselves, located within a bunch of rock formations, are covered at high tide.

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No sea water means TOO HOT to get in!

Pro tip: The best time to get there is when high tide just starts to recede, because you can start by hopping in the springs near the top. As the tide goes out, the water level goes down, and the cold water eventually drains from the source. As the springs get hotter, you move down into each pool below that still contains a good mix of hot and cold water.

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Baby bear’s pool is just right!

We had to pay $15 to get in; Puertecitos is a very small, seemingly barren place but there’s someone who will collect the fee once you turn left to head toward the water. We got there when the tide was already pretty low, but found the Goldilocks spot near the bottom where the water temperature was just right and soaked ourselves for a couple of hours before heading back to San Felipe.

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Can’t beat this view.

Originally our plan was to leave San Felipe on April 1, just before the huge San Felipe 250 off road race that happens here every year and draws in thousands of people (mostly Americans) and kicks up a whole shitload of dust.

But we decided to get our roof and closet repaired while we were down here. It’s hot and dry (perfect kind of weather) and costs are much less than what they would be in the U.S., particularly California, which is the next state we’ll be spending time in.

Up next (natch): the San Felipe 250 and an update on our RV repairs!

 

 

 

Tampa, FL and Nosara, Costa Rica

Sorry I’ve been off the blog wagon as of late. I take holiday time seriously – time off means time off, and for me that meant time off of the computer, too.

We landed in Tampa, FL on November 20th. My dad lives there, so we came to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with him and send Benjamin Franklin into the shop to get a good once over and some maintenance. Turns out the closet stench is from wood rot. I’m amazed that rotting wood can smell as foul as to convince us it was actually a dead animal of some sort.

Thanksgiving was lovely – Ramos Gin Fizzes and turkey were had, as well as lots of QT with family. Travis’s grandparents live in nearby Plant City so we were able to have them over for Thanksgiving dinner and see both his mom and aunt who were in town.

To be honest, we didn’t do a whole lot that was exciting these two weeks as we were mainly interested in some R&R and little to no running around. My dad lives in a non-puny living space, unlike what we had in Brooklyn and at present, so Monkey the cat didn’t quite know what to do with so much space. It’s no mansion, but I don’t think she’s ever had so much space to explore and attempt to dominate.

My dad was kind enough to cat sit for the two weeks that we’re off on a Costa Rica adventure. Some of the best nicknames for her that have come out of his mouth (so far) are: Captain Bellyflop, Pesky Nematode, and Miss Pussner.

At present we’re in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica on a聽Robly retreat. Six of us are staying in a beautiful home with a pool, near the beach. It is breathtaking. Getting here was a haul – we flew Tampa > Miami, had a 4.5 hour layover, then 2.5 hour flight into Liberia, plus a 3-hour drive from the airport to where we are. But sweet jesus, was it worth it.

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Hola.

It’s hot, humid, and the ocean is perfect. You can jump in at 6 am or 6pm and the water feels perfect. The house has several nooks that are perfect for working.

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Werk.

We’re taking surf lessons every morning, working during the day, going to the beach for sunsets, and going to bed by 9pm. Pura vida, ‘fo sho. We’ve had a couple of power outages, though. So far only one has impacted our work day – today there was a planned outage (we didn’t know until our surf instructor told us first thing this morning, apparently they are monkey-proofing some of the power lines) until noon so we had to truck down to a local hotel that had a generator and WiFi to get on the work stick. Hopefully there aren’t too many of those on the books for the time frame we’re here – it’s a bit pathetic how little we can get done without internet OR cell service (the towers went out, too).

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Playa.

There are also lots of fun bugs and critters here. Lizards, iguanas, giant grasshoppers (locusts?), birds, millipedes, moths…

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Greg the Grasshopper. Or is Greg a Locust?

I have to admit I’ve been pretty lazy with the camera for once. I’ve been too interested in doing The Things rather than making sure I capture them on camera, but in the next two weeks I should be able to catch some decent snaps with ye olde GoPro. Maybe. No promises, though.

We Did It!

We left our home in Red Hook, Brooklyn today.

The last few weeks have absolutely flown by. Thank you to all our loved ones who spent time with us these last several weeks – we have some damn fine friends in our lives!

As we 聽took our final pass up Van Brunt Street, I asked Travis how he felt. He was sad, I was in an in-between state of disbelief and excitement. Monkey, champ that she is, yowled as we carried her down the stairs and into the truck, but once she was deposited into her back seat screen box, she settled down and has been sleeping and chattering as per usual. I’m writing this blog post in the truck, we currently just passed Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland.

The mysterious case of the disappearing suitcase

The weirdest thing happened before we left – we didn鈥檛 have much to pack up this morning. The mattress, one bag of fridge stuff, our laundry bin the cat, and our bags. My carry on suitcase was one of them. I didn鈥檛 put much in there, just some clothes and my bath kit/toiletries. I remember zipping it up this morning. I literally don鈥檛 remember carrying it down or putting it in the truck or the RV. I don鈥檛 know what made Travis mention it about a half an hour after we had left, but as everything we had left was put into the RV in two trips, I figured it had to be in there.

The more I thought about it, the more I had no recollection of moving it beyond seeing it this morning.

I made Travis stop so I could check; sure enough, it wasn鈥檛 in the RV. I called our landlord who was kind enough to check our apartment and the curb – this was probably 45 minutes after we left – then called our friend upstairs and he walked down the entire street back to where our RV was parked and didn鈥檛 see it.

I鈥檓 completely stumped. The only thing I can think is that I left it on the sidewalk while placing other things, forgot to throw it in the truck bed that first run, then someone nicked it. It was 6:30 am on a Saturday morning so even that seems unlikely.

In any case, we鈥檝e both gone over and over what could have happened – fortunately nothing irreplaceable was in there. I鈥檝e already replaced the important bits on Amazon and was able to find the dress I was sad to lose on eBay for $25. Hot damn I love the internet.

Okay anyway, I鈥檒l let you know if we ever solve the mystery but I鈥檓 not holding my breath – and I hope whoever finds my bag enjoys the motley selection of crappy tank tops, old underwear, and travel size toiletries. Score for you!

Here’s our plan so far:

Today we鈥檙e making our way to West Virginia. It鈥檚 probably about a 10 hour drive, but we鈥檙e breaking it up so our first voyage can be slow and relaxed鈥nd so kitty can have breaks.

Once there we will put our boxes in storage with Travis’s mom and stepdad, who live on a lovely little hilltop in rural West Virginia, and we鈥檝e decided to stay there for a month. It鈥檚 scenic, has beautiful sunsets, lots of fireflies, and all the peace and quiet you can handle. AKA a great place to decompress from NYC!

Originally we thought we might spend the last two weeks of August in Virginia鈥檚 ShenandoahValley, but prices for RV parks the last couple of weeks or the month are relatively out of control, so we鈥檙e going to stay put until Labor Day weekend, when we鈥檒l head to the D.C. area for my dear friends Tanya and Scott鈥檚 wedding in Alexandria, VA.

From there we鈥檒l head north and probably make our way toward Maine. We鈥檇 like to traipse around in Maine and Vermont through September and October, then make our way south as the temperature goes down.

My dad lives in Tampa, FL so our goal is to make it there by Thanksgiving. Maybe we鈥檒l do Christmas in Key West.

After that we鈥檒l make our way west. 馃寘

But Which Shoes Should I Bring?

The packing process has started.

The nice thing about moving into an RV is that I know I won’t need most of my stuff. That means getting rid of or storing non-necessities is a no-brainer. But ugh, what about shoes, you guys? And I don’t mean this in an “OMG you guys I just canNOT live without ALL MY SHOES” way but in a “How the heck do I know what is practical and necessary for the next year” way.

I have a couple weddings to go to over the next year, which means at least one pair has to be wedding-worthy.

Hiking shoes/boots and flip flops are mandatory, of course. And sneakers. That’s already four pairs, but not so terrible.

I’m adding at least one pair of leather ankle boots and some cold weather boots. Okay that’s six.

What about rain boots? Will I need those? I’d love to NOT bring them because they’re bulky, but can’t imagine we won’t get stuck in rain at some point and I don’t wanna get stuck inside because I don’t have footwear that can slosh through puddles.

What about Toms? Great, easy slip ons for outdoors. Croc Mary Janes? Lightweight, also great for anything involving water. Slip on Vans that I wear all the time? One sensible pair of flats for anything potentially work-trip related? That’s at least 11 contenders and feels like far too many for RV living. I dug my 10-year-old Tevas out of a bag yesterday, too. Do I need those?!

Help me, internet. What are your tips for a well-curated shoe selection when it comes to RV Life?