Happy Holidays (The Walti Extreme Edition)

image_pdf

Overnight in Taos meant lots of snow, zero degree temperature, and a malfunctioning furnace in Thor.

 

After escaping from the hospital, KR, Bogart, Squirt and I took our RV south to Puerto Vallarta for much of December. Just before New Year’s, we took the RV north through central Mexico to Santa Fe and Taos. In Vallarta, we had perfect weather, Mexican-style luxury in Corona Adobe, and friends.  On the road, picture spending a week in a pretty small RV with two dogs, in snow, with temperatures way south of freezing, and luxury being defined as a working furnace.  Throw in wandering on some back roads in central Mexico and that’s the speed reading version of our holidays.

I know some of you reading this think of Mexico as a dangerous place, full of migrants-to-be, terrorists in transit, all controlled by drug cartels.  I think of Puerto Vallarta as home.  We have a house that we love, a really friendly neighborhood and a support system that can help us fix/get/do anything we want with a phone call.  Vallarta is a city that is big enough to have a Costco, yet small enough to still feel like an old Mexican village, weather that is near perfect, and the cost of living is 60% less than in the US.  Finally, there are few things finer in life than seeing KR covered in dirt from a full day of gardening in her four floors of flowers and plants.

There are downsides of going to Vallarta as well.  There are so many things to get done that there is precious little down time.  Because the Corona Adobe is a working B&B when we’re not there, upgrading and upkeep seems like a never-ending job.  Traffic is getting worse, but there is less risk as most everyone is driving vehicles that are something less than pristine.  Finally, Mexico is inhabited by….Mexicans, who have a unique philosophy of getting things done on a less than predictable schedule.

Going north to Taos and Santa Fe in the heart of winter, in an RV, may at first seem masochistic, certainly ill-advised.  Bordering on stupid seems about right. Chalk it up to not thinking things through a whole lot beyond “wouldn’t it be nice to have a house there, so let’s go check it out on the way back”.  This is where the non-functioning furnace, two people and two dogs stuffed in a 50 sq ft. vehicle, and the most snow Taos has seen in years come into the picture.  As I write this, its about zero degrees outside and I’m sitting in the drivers seat to get as close to the truck’s heat vents as possible.  Memorable would be one way of describing this part of the trip:)

It’s been a tough trip for Thor.  Let’s see, the “automatic” stairs are no longer automatic or stairs.  Batteries don’t last more than a couple of hours necessitating running the generator most of the time.  Thor took a rock to the face, causing a crack to run the windshield’s full length.  The aforementioned furnace stopped working on the coldest night we’ve ever spent in a vehicle of any kind.  The heat pump didn’t work either.  And did I mention almost ripping the m/c rack off because I got wedged between a light pole (don’t ask) in Hidalgo del Parral.  The upside is that Thor is starting to look like a real adventure-mobile…

Bogart and Squirt have been been through some pretty memorable times as well.  Do dogs have memories? If they do, Bogart and Squirt probably won’t forgive us for a while.  Going from living in an 800 sq. ft. loft in LA to running around a 5000 sq. ft. house in Mexico with lots of balconies to watch from and bark at anything/everything that moves can only be described as canine bliss.  Being dumped out of the RV into snow to take a leak clearly lies on the other end of bliss.  Squirt no longer even comes close to the door when we open it.  Both of them slept under the covers last night…

This is what our holiday season looked like.

The view from the 4th floor of Corona on any given afternoon.

The Iron Duke in front of KR’s favorite store — the nursery. We made close to a half dozen trips to this family-run nursery to freshen up all of Corona’s planters. The Iron Duke, looking better than ever (not),  got a new radio and the air conditioning fixed. 163,000 miles and going strong

Karen gets some help in the garden as Bogart provides a bit of strategic oversight.

Just one of the terraces at Corona before Karen’s replanting

You’re looking at $5000 worth of Mexican pool glass. We had to rebuild the infinity pool with what was looking like an infinite amount of money.  Now we need to work on making the solar hot water heater actually produce hot water.

It’s not all work and no play. Lots of get togethers, dinners and mini parties.

This is the reason that the Dos Diablos are spoiled rotten. Cute, fatally cute. They loved being at Corona.

We arrived in Vallarta on Day Two of the twelve days of the Feast of Our Lady Guadalupe. Streets were closed and each school/neighborhood/group participates in parades and the festival. Not quite the Rose Bowl Parade, it still brings out thousands and thousands of Varratans for twelve straight nights.

Early evening on Calle Corona, right across from our house.  Within a 100 feet of this shot are two bodegas, a hotel, a restaurant and a mini drug mart.

Neighborhood corner Peruvian restaurant.   Picture taken from Gwen’s balcony, which is a couple of blocks from our house.

Thor parked on a street in Durango in central Mexico. This was the first time we “wild camped” in Mexico off our beaten path. It felt a bit scary at first; strange city, strange street, dark, etc.  Pretty soon, it was just another home site for us. We went out for dinner and sights that evening, returning to this ferocious watch dog.

Durango was pretty hopping the evening we were there. We liked the city a lot. It’s pretty with some remarkably beautiful colonial era buildings.

Mexican version of Starbucks. More interesting decorations for sure, but there’s nothing like a Tall Blonde…

Instead of taking the dual highway Toll Road north (MX 45), we decided to take a back road.  This was both good and bad.  The bad part was it was so narrow and twisty (despite this pic), we only went 200 miles that day vs. our normal 500+.  The good part is below:

We came across a tiny town with lots of action, including this Mariachi band warming up.  The town was celebrating

the Quinceañera of this young lady.  Basically, the Quinceánera is a coming out party for young women.

While we watch the celebration, KR wandered off exploring old Adobe ruins.  She took a hundred photos of old walls like this…

A big part of the celebration was the town’s young men, dressed in their finest cowboy outfits, escorting the above wagon to church.  These horses were brought in from all over the area in tiny horse trailers pulled by old pickups and SUVs.

You can see the ceremonial buggy in the back ground.  I offered to take KR for a ride like this, but she politely declined.  Heck, if I can tame a motorcycle, I can tame a horse…

With the exception of the Westie in the window, Thor is beginning to look like an Adventure Mobile.

I don’t know why, but I like driving for hours at a time.  Thor drives like a Cady and handles about the same.

Second night of wild camping in Mexico, this time in a town called Hidalgo del Parral.  We arrived later at night, so we parked off the beaten path.  When we awoke,

we realized we were next to this gigantic statue.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one as big.  Turns out to be a pretty controversial statue of Pancho Villa, awaiting its final destination.  Villa was assassinated in this town. The statue is in this neighborhood park despite lots of protests because they tore down a historic building to make room.   Typical Mexican story.

This is mid-crisis during one of my stupider moves.  Next morning, we were trying to find our way out of town (more difficult than it would seem as these are winding, narrow streets, etc.)  Anyway,  I went down the wrong direction on a  one-way street.  I started backing up and a police car quickly materialized with lights flashing,  Out jumps an Officer (seen above looking on) and he begins giving me directions to back up…right into a street light pole.  I’m not making this up.  Through astute driving, I had not only backed into this pole, but hooked my spare tire rack around it, necessitating a mid-street surgical operation.

We were then escorted out of town by said police officer.  This was a first for us.  Naturally, he escorted us to the wrong route and we had to back track 25 miles!  I’m not kidding.

We crossed the border just west of El Paso late one evening.  This was the only RV park available in Las Cruces . We could have been in a “Breaking Bad” episode as it was a meth-head run establishment.  This is what down and out looks like.

A day or so later we were on our way to Santa Fe and Taos, to check out potential second home sites.  Note to self- pay attention to weather forecasts when traveling to new places.

Before you can say “Its F__King Cold!” we were in the worst snow storm Taos has gotten in years.  It’s been a very long time since I drove in snow.   Temperatures ranged from a HIGH of 27 to a low of -2.

At first, Bogart refused to go outside. “What, you think I just fell off the turnip truck? ” he’s thinking.

New Years 2019 was spent in Thor, in Santa Fe with temperatures around 8 degrees.  Karen decorated Thor and the

party began!  Strobe lights with changing colors, cocktails, and Anderson Cooper at Times Square on CNN.  Very memorable News Year’s 🙂

No rest for the Inn Keeper.  Next morning KR attends to business.

We went to Walmart and bought Bogart and Squirt matching sweaters.  We couldn’t find earmuffs or boots…

KR walking the Dos Diablos in zero temperature weather in Taos.  Bogart got into walking in snow, Squirt was more like

“F__k This!”, I’m staying here!

Ever vigilant Westie guard dog.  This is on a Taos street.   Taos is in a high altitude valley surrounded by mountains.  It’s a really pretty place when covered in snow.  Town is a bit small.

After a night when the temperature hit zero and our furnace went out, we were pretty much at the “Let’s go home now!” mode.  It took us 2 1/2 days to get home.  On the last day, our water system thawed out, the toilet became workable, and our batteries started to come back to life — what more could a guy want?

It’s been a memorable 30 days.  We hope you had a wonderful holiday and here’s hoping that 2019 will be great for all of us.

 

fw

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

2 Responses to “Happy Holidays (The Walti Extreme Edition)”

  1. Hi!!!!! Happy New Year to you two from us. Crazy little adventure you had. We got hit with the same storm – but we were in Flagstaff AZ. The good thing, I had installed Scheelmann seats with internal bum and back heaters in the Avalanche. Toasty………

    Helpful hint – when your windshield washer fluid freezes – do NOT use hot coffee to try and clear the windshield. Ask me how I know………..

    It’s been too long – we need to catch up.

    All the Best,

    Billy and Michelle

  2. HI Fred..Didn’t we teach you haw to wild-camp in Mexico. Great photos.
    Gary