Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A week in Paradise

One of our adventures in May was to leave the RV in Albuquerque and got to Cabo San Lucas for a week with friends. They have a timeshare in Cabo and have gone for the last 4 years, we have a timeshare in Breckenridge, but have never really intended on using it, rather intended to use it for the amenities and to turn into Interval International and exchange it for other locations, in effect forcing us to take higher quality vacations. This is the first such vacation, and we had to use it or lose it by the end of May, and our friends (Mike and Melissa Timmerman) go every May.. humm, we saw a plan developing and jumped at it.

This is Mike's first trip outside of the United States except a couple of work trips many years back, and the first time he had a passport. We stayed at a beautiful resort (Hacienda Encantada) about 6 kilometers from Mike & Melissa's slightly nicer resort. Plus they had a One Bedroom, with living/dining/kitchen, and ours was (mistakenly) a studio, nice room but no kitchenette. So we decided to spend most of out time or home basing at their room in Grand Solmar.

Our Condo : Rancho Encantada

View from our balcony

Melissa surrounded by Mikes

Cabo at night

Grand Solmar : Timmerman's condo
Because of my status with United, we were able to fly 3 of the 4 legs first class! Yay! The first afternoon, taking a shuttle for $20 for the 2 of us round trip to Timmerman's place, and being confined to the shuttle schedule AND the fact that the shuttle dropped us off still a 30 minute walk from their place... well that convinced us to rent a car for the week. We had a fun event planned every day.

Sunday over breakfast we had our timeshare presentation as all good timeshare owners must do... But we met a salesman (Von) who was quite an asset to our trip. He was Swiss. His wife, Christina, also a kindred spirit, was from Minnesota. They have lived in Mexico for 20 years or so. They are in the process of converting a VW Van for them to travel around in for 4 months a year. They own a Mango ranch in the little town an hour north of Cabo called Todo Santos. We were already planning to go to Todos Santos the next day, so he sent us the directions and invited us to go visit.

 On the Mango ranch (in the countryside of the "real Baja" as Von put it) there was a Big House, two guest houses, and a tree house. They had also built a sunken grass surfaced, tennis court, pool, and of course the Mango grove... lots of other fruit too. All this walking distance from the beach. This property is available on What a treat to tour it on our day in town. Then we headed into town for lunch at a fantastic, although tourist trap, restaurant in Todos Santos called the Tequila's Sunrise. The proprietor, Manuel, was a showman and known for his fantastic Margaritas. Melissa and I shared one, and I'm sure glad we did... Still had to walk it off. That was fine, because we were on a mission to walk around the artsy crafty town and do a little shopping. I found a number of Mexican Opal necklaces that I just loved, and managed to talk the salesman (ok 4-5 different salesman) down from the highest price ($1100) to the price I ended up paying of $225. Probably still too much but that last guy really worked for it as he saw us heading back to our car and ran out to make us a new offer, and in the end, stopped us in the intersection, took our credit card and completed the sale all while we were in the middle of traffic.. OK it was Todos Santos traffic, but none the less, amusing. We grabbed a geocache in Todos Santos before heading back to Cabo to pass out for the evening!

One of the cabanas with the kitchen outside.

Melissa heading up to the bed in the treehouse

And More Mangos

The "big House Kitchen

In front of the "Casa Grande"

Swimming and a sunken tennis court

The Hotel California in Todos Santos

Tequila Sunrise Restaurant.. Fantastic food, not so good price... But Margaritas!!!!  Whoa!
I'm sure glad I shared one with Melissa!
The Propriator - Miguel

Tuesday found us out early to give Mike and Melissa a ride to the golf course, then Mike and I tried our hand at Snorkeling. Turns out my second set of snorkel equipment which I brought for Mike leaked. Also he felt as if he needed a life jacket... I float so well the thought that he might want one never occurred to me, after all he is a much better swimmer than I, but between the lack of life jacket and malfunctioning equipment, we didn't feel safe to go out very far, and although we saw some fish, it wasn't that good. Instead we headed back to relax by the pool. That evening M&M took us out to one of their favorite restaurants in town. The two Mikes each got an order of Lasagna which could have fed the whole table!

Wednesday morning Melissa and I visited the spa for a massage, then completed it with a fish pedicure! This was fantastic! The fish are the Garrarufa fish shipped from Turkey. The spa scrubs up your feet then you put your feet into the fish tank with these little fish that nibble on the dead skin on your feet. we left with incredibly soft feet. I don't know why this is not offered in the US, I was scheming to think of someone that I knew that might want to do this business.  Keeping them in the RV has it's obvious drawbacks!  If I had it available I would do that weekly!

(Sorry the video is Sideways)

Have to recommend the
hotdogs at "Doggy Style"
Everything homemade, even the Dogs 

Wednesday evening we took a sailboat out for a sunset cruise.  Melissa had never been on a sailboat before, and this boat carried 22 of up out into the bay a long way, served the open bar, and appetizer tray, then sailed for about 45 minutes, before returning at sunset.  It was really a nice time.  This is the season for Manta Ray.  I never knew Manta Ray jump about 3 feet out of the water and splash down.  The were EVERYWHERE, watch the video to get a clue.  It was fascinating.  The guides said they do it to attract a mate, and also to clean off parasites.

Our Hostess on the sailboat

Thursday found Mike T & Melissa on the golf course again and Mike M and I relaxing in the room.  That afternoon I wanted to walk the beach to the south end (very short distance) and then climb over the rocks to the famous Divorce Beach on the Pacific side and Lover's Beach on the Sea of Cortez side.  The others decided to take a relaxing afternoon by the pool.  I was a little nervous about climbing over the rocks, but the resort staff keep a fairly close eye on the guests and just as i was about to give up on it, one guy showed up and assisted me to the top.  I scrambled down the other side and walked across the beach, and was somewhat nervous about how to get back down when I came back.  The beach was beautiful, but the sun was relentless, so I didn't want to stay too long, and about 45 minutes later when I climbed back to the top, the guy was waiting for me!!  BUT, just as I scrambled over the pennicle, my phone slide out of my pocket and slide down into the boulders.  This happened just as the resort guy got called away, so he suddenly disappeared. (Was he just my imagination?)  I was trying to find and get to my phone.. I thought I could see it but wasn't sure, when a young Mexican man came up the path.  He started crawling around trying to find it.  Then a lifeguard came up the path, he had a phone he could use as a flashlight, so the three of us were looking.  Finally I had the bright idea to call my phone from the lifeguards phone, and finally the phone was found.  Those two guys got into places... I'm not sure how they did it!  But disaster averted they then helped me down the rocks, and walked me back to the resort where Mike rewarded them with a generous tip.  And I had an adventure to tell!

Friday morning Von hooked us up with a private yacht cruise.  The 4 of us got the boat for 4 hours, complete with 2 crew to drive, and regale us with the stories from the sights.  We drove up the pacific side past many famous and remote houses owned by the likes of Tiger Woods, Sammy Hagar, John Travolta, etc, and then back around the tip to a popular snorkeling cove.  This time we had working equipment and life jackets for those who wanted it and we all, including Melissa who can't swim well, enjoyed the snorkeling.  We had a fabulous morning.  In the afternoon we finished shopping, returned the car, and enjoyed a quiet evening back at the room playing cards, and visiting one last time.

What a great week!  Mike complains that the prices were too high, but he loved the trip too.  And while we might go back once because there were things we didn't do (parasailing, jet skiing, hobi-cats, and staying at the mango ranch).. We are likely to want to experience new places too, and with the deal Von set us up in, we now will have more flexibility to try out more places.  I was so happy to have a success for our first vacation of this kind and look forward to many more to come.  But in the meantime, the glow will just have to last a while, as with anybody's vacation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

April showers brings May travels...? Isn't that how it goes?

Well, if I recall it was actually April snowfall, not rain this year in Fairplay, and definitely no time to smell the flowers in May.  It seems I have not been so inspired to write much about my travels with IBM lately. My thoughts have been more on the RV, and moving into it, which worked out well as I didn't travel at all in the first quarter of the year.  In March I took a two week trip to Toronto, which felt like a repeat from last year... nothing new to report. And then took a three day trip to Montreal.  Montreal was a new city for me, but the client is Air Canada, so I stayed at a hotel at the airport, and had meetings at the Air Canada headquarters at the airport, and so only got into town for one day.  I saw the big cathedral there, and walked around old town, did a little geocaching and walked through the newer part of town to china town... so got the relative lay of the land, but frankly did not fall in love with Montreal.

When I asked my Canadian colleagues what I was special in Montreal, the most consistent answer I got was the food.  Unfortunately I have been on a very strict dietary program since mid-January (and lost 45 pound BTW) and during this phase of the program it is VERY difficult to eat out.  Rather than blow it all, I decided to prepare for success.  I cooked, portioned, sealed, and froze all the food I would be eating for the week and took it with me.  It was difficult, but in the end SO worth it.  I didn't have to make choices about food while I was gone, and I had lots of evening time to myself that I would normally have spent finding food.. I might just adopt this  always.  I did have another trip scheduled to Toronto, and sadly the most interesting thing was that my last night in Toronto I found a game store that had a game night (meetup) once a week.  I was looking forward to going to that on the next trip, but that trip was cancelled.  Sad to miss out on the game night but glad to be home for the last 2 weeks before we moved into the RV.

Our home in May
May first found us in the RV park (Coronado Village) in Albuquerque.  I had planned to stay "home" the month of May..  Mostly because it was our first month and wanted to settle in, but also because my folks and my kids are there, and that seemed great.  Also and we needed to get storage somewhere, might as will be in Albuquerque, where we know people that can help care for it.  But best laid plans... Suddenly I had to travel a lot. I did manage to be in Albuquerque for one week, but my parent just happened to go to Europe the day we got to town (passed them in our driveway actually).

Mike on the new Recliner/Love-seat
San Antonio Riverwalk
Then I spent 2 separate weeks in San Antonio, coming home on the weekend for the square dance festivals I was attending the first two weekends in May, and having a final Garage Sale at my vacant parents house.  Mike and I went on a vacation to Cabo San Lucas for one week (blog post to follow), and I spent a week in Chicago.  That doesn't leave much time to "hang out" with anyone!

Managed an evening at the Alamo with colleagues

As mentioned we did have a final Garage Sale, and sold everything down to our last box full of stuff.  Felt pretty accomplished about that!  We also had an Open House on Memorial Day with the attempt to see a few Albuquerque friends that we have been missing that last many years.  The Party was very fun, although many seemed to have conflicts for their time and we didn't have the attendance we hoped.  SO, I guess we are ALL busy these days!

Logan and I "escaped" the office for a few minutes for Chicago Pizza at the lake.

Fish Lake

While I was in Chicago, Mike moved the RV and spent a week at Fish Lake in Southern Utah.  Then I came home to spend another weekend in Albuquerque before heading off for 2 weeks working in Las Vegas.

On the weekend between my two weeks, I flew "home" to Salt Lake where we joined Mike's sister for a relaxing weekend camping up by Park City.  Mike and his brother in law went fishing/golfing/ and general running around.  I just enjoyed my first uninterrupted time in the RV.  One project I had been pushing for months was to put up the vinyl tile in the kitchen.  I decided to spend one day while the boys were out putting the tile up, and I'm thrilled by the results.  That and the solitude was just what the Dr. ordered.  I guess Mike's sister needed the solitude as much as I did.  She spent her days relaxing in her trailer too.  Felt funny.. but good, to be so anti-social!

Before the tile
After the tile

Wasatch Mountain State Park, Utah

 After Vegas, Mike moved from Park City down to Ogden, but I was only home for 3 days before I had to leave for Austria.  He will stay in Ogden, Utah, where his parents, sisters, two of his kids, and 5 of our grandkids are, while I'm gone overseas.  I will get home just in time for a family party at his sister's for 4th of July, then we are off to Wyoming, at this time it's looking like I might be joining him ;-).  Hopefully Mike will get plenty of grandkid time in while he is in Utah.