We left Gila Bend early in the morning with 35 other Winnebago's of all lengths and styles and drove to the border town of Lukeville, Arizona where we took a half hour break so everyone could use the facilities and let those with pets walk them. We used the CB to stay in touch with the caravan. It took over and hour for all of us to cross the border. When the Mexican border patrol ask to board our coach Josie told him she had just cleaned it yesterday for him. He took a tour of the coach but did not open any cabinets. While he was inside another agent used mirror to look under the RV. As the agent left the coach he told Josie we had one of the cleanest coaches he had ever boarded. The only problem with the crossing were the rumble strips on the road. Rumble strips and speed bumps are an RVer's worst nightmare. They really shake us up. Six miles south of the crossing we all gathered again for the rest of the drive to Puerto Penasco. (Rocky Point). We are staying at the Playa Bonita (Pretty Beach) Resort, right on the beach of the Sea of Cortez.
The first morning our leaders took us on a driving tour of the city to show us where all the shopping areas were. We stopped into Bodega Aurrera (Wal-Mart) and bought a few groceries and a tamale steamer to use as a shrimp steamer. Puerto Penasco is the shrimp capital of Mexico and Armondo comes by everyday selling a variety of different sized, fresh, peeled, and deveined shrimp. For our group shrimp boil, Josie made a Chocolate Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce. She got the recipe from our Idaho friend Karin, who had made it for our Christmas dinner. It was a huge success and she had many requests to share the recipe, and needless to say we did not have any left to take home. Every evening we have a Happy Hour on the deck of the resort restaurant, with the best and least expensive margaritas. Some evenings we also have a group dinner inside the restaurant with great entertainment each evening. One evening we were treated to tequila fire coffee, very interesting preparation and very tasty.
I walked the beach almost every morning there is a low tide to take bird pictures and I often see this man poking under the rocks for octopuses. As best as I could understand he was catching them for his own use and not selling them. One morning we drove out to Pelican Point when the tide was out and searched for sand dollars, and shells. We do not need any shells as we don't have a place to put them but we did keep a few sand dollars. I went out to the same area a few days later and took a lot of pictures of the birds feeding on the tidal flats. When the tide is out and the fishermen want to take their boats in and out' they use these buggies they have created that have the engine and driver's seat about ten feet over the wheels so they can drive into deep enough water to launch their boats. One of the fun things our leaders gave us an opportunity to do was kite flying. They had all sort of kites for us to use and many of the folks who had come on this trip before had brought their own. We teamed up with our new friends from Chicago, Jim and Darleen and launched our kites. Later that evening the four of us had dinner at Combo Taco. 4 shrimp and bacon tacos with all the condiments you could every put on a taco and two cokes for $7.50. We then drove to the Reef bar on the beach nearby and watched the sun go down while drinking Dos XX's and margaritas. The next day we went out with Jim and Darleen again for a Valentine's Day Dinner at a restaurant on top of the hill overlooking the old port section of the city.
One day we went with 17 other Jeeps and 4 wheel drives and drove over 40 miles up the beach, quite an exciting time. Beautiful, wide beaches with no one on them at all. We had great shelling and bird watching. We stopped first and let all but 15 pounds of pressure in our tires so as better to traverse the deep sand. We stopped at an old lighthouse for lunch break and shell hunting. I was one of three Jeeps that got stuck in deep sand. I lost all momentum when the Jeep in front of me stopped and I could not recover and had to be winched out. Later our leaders took their Jeeps and drove up a high dune. It took them a few tries but they did eventually make it to the top. What a great adventure.
The day after the Jeep trip I took a boat trip out to the Bird Islands, 23 miles off the coast. I swore off taking pelagic birding trips since I tend to always get sea sick, but gave it a shot anyway and did just fine. I think the fresh fish tacos the first mate made on the way out helped. The island was loaded with great birds and more sea lions than I have ever seen in one place. It is breeding season so all the bull males were defending their harem, so it was very noisy.
On another day 4 of us from the Winnebago group played the Jack Nickolas golf course south of Puerto Penasco. A beautiful layout with 6 holes right on the ocean.
Last night was our final evening with the group from Winnebago. The first group left early this morning and the leaders will bring a second group down for 10 day next week. We are staying over with 6 other couples and will go back with the second group on March 4th. We have had a great time and last night was no exception. The staff of the restaurant here at the park had us dancing and then taking swings at a large pinata. Josie was asked to dance and then give the pinata a few whacks. We look forward to exploring more of the City for the next two weeks.
We have spent the last week based in Gila Bend, Arizona. It is a small town on Interstate 8 between Tucson, Arizona and San Diego, California. We were here to meet up with our group from Winnebago Outdoor Adventures and then caravan with them down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. The sign at the edge of town here in Gila Bend says all you need to know about the town.
One of the nation's largest solar power plants is located just to the west of town. It supplies over 70,000 homes with power. We drove by it on our way to Painted Rock Petroglyph Park. The site has the largest group of petroglyphs we have ever seen. Gila Bend was founded as one of the stops on the Butterfield Stage Line because the Gila River made a bend here and there was ample water for the horses and people on the stage. The town was awarded a piece of the World Trade Center and they have it displayed in a park on Main Street. While visiting the beam, we were visited by one of the local Roadrunners.
One day we drove 70 miles south and visited Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is one of the most remote National Parks in the Continental USA. The park is on the Mexican border so there are warnings to be alert. We had many views of the border wall in the distance. The 22 mile scenic drive lived up to its billing. Josie was able to use her Southwestern guide book that the Loomis's gave her to identify a new cactus for us, the Chain Fruit Cactus. On our way back north, we had to pass through two Border Patrol checkpoints. They are very nice and Josie also thinks all the agents are chosen because they are so handsome. They may ask you where you have been or where you are going and always if you are a citizen of the USA. Tomorrow we head for the border with 30 other Winnebago's for 25 days in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.