December 25, 2011 GMT
Baja, Mexico 2011

We have just found paradise in the Baja, Mexico and we must describe this place to you!

About a 1/3rd of the way down Baja we were driving along the coastal mountain roads when we looked down to see this big horseshoe bay with small islands and yachts anchored just offshore. We couldn't resist it...100metre wide beach stretching for 2 km. Getting closer we noticed a tropical restaurant at one end and a couple of RVs parked next to palm sun shelters just above the high tide mark and facing a waveless shore line.

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Santispac Beach

The few people that are here are all Canadians and are so relaxed and friendly and help with any questions we had. The regulars say there are better spots only a few km's down the road, but we are finding it hard to weigh anchor!

Walking around the headlands we have never seen such an abundance of colourful and multi shaped sea shells. While having our morning coffee in our arm chairs we watch countless birdlife, like pelicans and ospreys dive bombing for fish. Egrets, sandpipers and herons strolling the beach, while vultures spiral the updrafts.

Each morning the local Mexicans come around selling fresh fish, fruit, vegies, bakery and handicafts. The American who runs the restaurant and collects parking fees charges $5.50 per night. The climate here is so mild with the days hitting 25 deg C and down to 15C at night.

The downside is no telephone, internet, TV and electricity.

Today we took our bicycles to explore the beach villages down the coast. At our first gringo style village a lady came out to chat, next thing we found ourselves having tea on her patio when her husband roared up in his fishing boat, yelling for us all to get in to see the 200-300 dolphin pod in the next bay.

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It was an unbelievable site and the dolphins were attracted to us by curiosity and to the sound of our outboard motor. They swam just under the boat and surfaced an arm span off the bow and Belinda could nearly touch them as they surfaced. After half an hour we headed back to the cottage for a beer and barracuda tacos that Bob had just caught. We eventually had to force ourselves to leave as there was a live band playing at our beach restaurant and we had to shower up for the party that followed. What great serendipity! All of the gringos living here are so friendly to open up their home to strangers.

Next morning we rented 2 kayaks to venture to the gringo village in the opposite direction. Only to find equally inviting residents there. Such a relaxed atmosphere. On this adventure we spotted frigate birds, oyster catchers and many hummingbirds, as well as all the others we mentioned before.

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For a change of scenery we decided to change beaches to a free camping sand spit beach, some 20km down the road to meet up with some new friends. We only made it 2 km to the next picturesque beach as we just couldnt drive past it.

Next morning ....off to the spit. We only made it another 2km to the next postcard beach. Tomorrow..off to the spit..we hope!

Each beach we kayak out to circle the islands. Some beaches have kayaks for rent, at some the neighbours lend us theirs. The whale sharks are in the area, so we soon hope to paddle amongst them.

Last night we were invited to a pot luck dinner on the beach put on by some of the other RVers. Some return each winter since the 90's. A few had guitars, so the entertainment started shortly after dinner and finished about 9pm, which they call Baja Midnight!

This morning we must leave, but it is already 2pm and we are having trouble getting the energy to move the RV! Our biggest concern is how to keep the beach sand out of the RV!

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Ths Spit...with 360deg views...eventually!

Posted by Patrick Peck at 04:54 AM GMT
December 13, 2011 GMT
USA report

We entered USA near Vancouver mid September 2011 with the aim of going down the Rockies to Mexico and then coming back up the West coast in Feb 2012 as far as the weather will allow us. Our RV partners John and Jerry will then have a holiday in her, drive her back to Edmonton and we will fly back to Cairns via Vancouver early March 2012.

One of the best buys in the USA is a year long National Parks pass for $80. When its $20 per entry, thats a great deal! So that was our plan National Parks here we come. Now we don't need cities and hotels we can wake up in the middle of national parks, watch sunrises and sunsets, do some great hikes and bicycle rides...not to mention the stars at night...awesome!

The first state we travelled in was Washington and our goal was small country roads, away from big cities, so we followed stunning route 20 to Sandpoint in Idaho. We wanted to do Waterton National Park- Highway to the Sun Scenic Road, but it was closed for the season already...we had to get moving! So we headed more SE along highway 200, 90 and 191 to Yellowstone National Park. We were late in the season, lots of campgrounds had closed, but the weather was perfect! With an RV you have to watch freezing temperatures and snow as your pipes can freeze and crack...picture the sewerage pipe doing that??

We heard about a great motorcycle road called Bear tooth pass, so we did that at sunset...awesome and ended up in Cody, home of Buffalow Bill. While travelling we don't do any homework, just wing it...we never know what to expect and whats around the corner! We ended up in a gun fight in the main street with prostitutes and drunk men everywhere...it was all a show..hilarious!

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Then back to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. By now it was definately end of summer tourist season, early Oct, and all the sales were on! We bought hiking boots, Chaco sandals, warm jackets, all for around 60% off!

We then headed West on route 20 towards Craters of the Moon and Sawtooth National Park. We stopped for lunch at Sun Valley and were still there 2 days later! Sun Valley is a gorgeous, upmarket ski resort town where the rich and famous ski. While we were there the weather was gorgeous, so we parked right in the centre of town and cycled everywhere. Pat gets Belinda to knock on the door of the house we are parked outside of and asks if its OK to park there the night...they are all so friendly, one lady even offered to do our clothes washing!! We found a great thrift shop that had lots of jackets, warm boots, waterproof jackets, thermal underwear, all for bargain prices..heaven! There was a great wholefoods supermarket and the library had wireless internet...its a wonder we ever left!!

A big storm was coming so we decided to try to outrun it and head East towards Salt Lake City heading along route 80 past the salt plain. Mistake! Never try to outrun a storm...you would think we had worked that out by now! Well, we thought we were going to beat it, cruising along the Salt Lake when a mini tornado (that we didnt see coming) blindsided us and ripped our awning to threads..it was old and rotten anyway! It was the scariest 5 seconds (felt like 5 minutes) of our lives and Pat heroically kept the RV out of the salt lake and out of the way of oncoming traffic til we could get to the Salt Lake City Library where we camped for the night with free wifi internet and a stiff rum! Next day saw us headed up to the gorgeous ski resort town of Park City, then highway 40 east towards Dinosaur National Monument.

Our goal was to get to Boulder, Colorado to see Chris and Erin Ratay before Chris went on a rafting trip. We got there on time and Chris asked Pat to go on this BOYS only trip, so off they went! Erin and I stayed home waiting patiently for their return!! NOT..we painted the town RED! Boulder is a gorgeous University town with bike paths, coffee shops, gyms and great outdoor shops!After about 10 days...completely breaking our 3 day guest rule, we reluctantly left our very comfortable American home base and headed for Aspen via gorgeous Independence Pass. We camped (in the RV) in the front of a vacant house in downtown Aspen, a holiday home of some rich and famous person and rode our bicycles all over town, even did a guided historical society tour by bicycle! We loved it, the Aspen leaves were changing colour (amazing rainbow of colours) but it was getting cold -6deg C in our RV at night and we didnt want any frozen pipes!

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South we continued to gorgeous Crested Butte, Black Canyon National Park, through Silverton to stunning Durango, Colorado. Colorado really is stunning and if you like hiking, biking or just driving...it doesn't get must better than this! Scenery to rival Belinda's favourite country Switzerland.

West we headed towards amazing Mesa Verde National Park, back up the mountains to Telluride (another gorgeous ski town) and down before it snowed to Moab, Utah. Snow was on our tail and keeping us moving! Moving is expensive when your RV runs at 4km/litre!

Utah has got to be USA's best kept secret with Arches and Canyonlands National Park, camping alongside the Colorado River, cycling around Natural Bridges National Park and driving down through Monument Valley! Our eyes and camera were working overtime!

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The grand finale was the Big Daddy Grand Canyon! We saw it from the north and the south rim. They closed the north rim for the season the day after we left due to snow...we had to keep moving..damn snow!

Zion National Park was stunning on a gorgeous sunny day. The next day a huge storm came with lots of snow and we couldn't get up to Bryce Canyon National Park...time to head south towards Las Vegas. We stayed at Circuscircus resort from Mon- Thurs for $33/night, cheaper than the RV park at $45/night and free camped at Walmart during the weekend when the price went up! Vegas is an amazing place with lots of deals and not so FREE shows! We loved it and checked it all out!

Chris and Dale Bartlett, long term friends currently living in Muscat, Oman had arranged holidays before their conference in Vegas, so we picked them up in our RV and raced them off to Red Rock Canyon to cycle the scenic loop. They travelled with us for about a week and we visited Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park. We even got up to Lake Tahoe and dropped them off at the airport at Reno. It was great seeing them again and we loved having them for every kilometre of the 2,000km we did together.

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Chris and Dale in Yosemite, California.


We then came down scenic 395 back to Death Valley before another huge snow and wind storm closed route 395. We arrived at Tecopa Hot Springs RV park 5 minutes before a huge windstorm that lasted 2 days. We had died and gone to heaven. There were 2 indoor private 2 person spas, a communal hall, a huge DVD swap collection and THE friendliest people we have met yet! They are all snowbirds, have been coming to this place for years and we were the new (and young) kids to arrive! They made us feel so welcome, with happy hour at 4pm, early morning coffee together, music jam sessions, Date Farm tours...unbelievable! We didnt really care about the 80km/ hour winds outside! But...we had to keep moving!!

Still heading south in California we went through the Mojave Desert, then along the famous route 66 to the Colorado River, then to Joshua Tree National Park, Palm springs, Borrego Springs and finally to the famous"Fountain of Youth Resort and RV Park" near Salton Sea. Its a mini city with amazing activities and facilities and more friendly people with lots of time on their hands! We could have stayed there for a week, but we only had a few days left on Belinda's 3 month visa so had to keep moving...we will be back!

Yesterday we crossed the Mexican/ Californian border at Tecate and will finally slow down and spend the next 2 months in Baja, Mexico. We have put on 25,000km since Edmonton (6 months) and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment and have never felt so free in our lives! Retirement has just become a reality for us and we intend on making the most of every day that we are blessed with together.

As usual its the people you meet that make a trip and a life and we have the good fortune to have met some great people, but then you make things happen don't you.


Posted by Patrick Peck at 12:25 AM GMT
December 12, 2011 GMT
Canada+Alaska

Wow, what an awesome 6 months its been!

We arrived in Edmonton, Canada early June 2011 to see our new purchase, a 30 foot Winnebago motorhome (fondly named "Miss Adventure VI") that we had just purchased sight unseen from www.craigslist.com. Pat was born in Canada, so knew that cold wet rainy weather is always in the forecast. As we have developed into fairweather riders an RV was a great alternative to a motorcycle.

We have many friends and family who checked out Miss A for us. Thanks heaps to Doug Temple, Kathy Jones (Pat's sister) and Bert Walker! The sellers, Gwen and Gerry were extremely helpful and patient and John and Jerry Burden (Pats friends from University days) decided to share the purchase and use of the motorhome with us. The main stumbling block was insuring the motorhome with an Australian drivers license... so Pat got a Canadian license, we got insurance, registration and we were off!

First priority was to bury Pats Moms ashes in Fairview, Northern Alberta. All of Colleens 4 children and 2 daughter in laws were at the burial and then we had a wake in our RV....she would have enjoyed the party!

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Colleens family: Kathy, Pat, Loraine, Bernie, Jocelyn and Belinda at the burial.

Alaska was our next goal! It was a long drive from Edmonton to Anchorage, but we did it in a week (600km days) and met good friends Nevione and Don Crawford who were finishing a cruise there. Anchorage is a wonderful place and we free camped on the city streets from 6pm-9am when the meters were not working!

Fairbanks, Alaska was our most northern point, as the road further north is a rough, dirt road- no good for an RV! Valdez was a highlight in Alaska..watching the seals, sea otters and brown bears all catching the poor salmon trying to get upstream to mate.

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Alaskan dogs love to run!

We got a big fright while camping at the end of Homer Spit one night. A Police car had it's sirens blaring and announcing to all that a tsunami was on its way and that everyone must evacuate immediately! The only road in or out was instantly blocked and no vehicles (except motorcycles) could move. We could only sit and wait our fate. It took an hour to make the 2km journey and once we reached the safety of the mainland it was announced that it was a false alarm!!

At Haines we caught a ferry (with the RV) to Prince Rupert via Juneau. It was very expensive due to the size of our RV, but we heard it was a beautiful stretch of water with amazing scenery. Usually we are lucky when it comes to weather...this time we were not, a strong storm followed the ferry for the whole 2 days and we didnt get to see much scenery..oh well! Another time!

Back in Canada, the same storm followed us all the way to Jasper and by then we realised that we had made the right decision to leave our motorbike at home.

Pat lived in Jasper for 10 years (Kate was born there) and has many awesome friends there, so we had a great time. Duncan (Pat's nephew) and Suraya got engaged, so we went back to Edmonton to help them celebrate. We went to Lorraine's (Pat's sister) lake cabin and Doug + Barbs cabin to celebrate Bernie's (Pat's brother) birthday hooning around on Doug's ATV's.

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Barb, Doug, Jocelyn, Bernie and Pat on Doug's toys!

Back to Jasper, along the top of the Rockies (gorgeous drive) to Banff. We spent the next 2 months cruising around Calgary, Sparwood, Nelson, Kamloops, Mara, Kelowna, Whistler, Vancouver Island, Vancouver catching up with friends, (I wont mention everyone's name) some Pat hadn't seen in over 30 years!

British Columbia is really picturesque, very lush, green and mountainous, we will be back! Our Cairns neighbour, Caleb travelled with us for a fun filled week and we attended our first HU meeting in Nakusp where we finally met Grant and Susan Johnson. Good friends from Cairns, Skip and Rach were there as well and John and Jerry camped on our couch! We had 5 sleeping in our RV one night (all 3 men snoring and over 6 feet tall!!)- people were amazed how many big bodies piled out of the RV in the morning!! hehe

We crossed into USA mid Sept 2011. Pat is travelling on his Canadian passport, no problem can stay 6 months. Belinda with Australian passport only 3 months! Oh well, lets see as much as we can, then Mexico for Christmas! Next installment...our USA adventures..our goal..to see as many National Parks as we can with our yearly pass.

Posted by Patrick Peck at 07:05 PM GMT
Canada+USA

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Our route through Alaska, Canada and USA from June-Dec 2011.

We are now in Baja, Mexico heading south to La Paz, Mexico over the next 2 months. It would be great to catch up with any other travellers in the area.

Posted by Patrick Peck at 04:15 AM GMT
December 07, 2011 GMT
Motorhome photos

We have just celebrated 6 months travelling around Canada, Alaska and USA in our wonderful 30 foot RV! Next destination: Baja, Mexico for 2 months and then back into USA early Feb and Vancouver early March...to fly home to Cairns, Australia for a few months.

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Belinda, (HU members) John and Jerry Burden and Pat...new joint owners of "Miss Adventure VI" in Canada, USA and Mexico!

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Pat, John, Jerry and Belinda at our RV warming party!

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PatandBin and our wonderful RV in Death Valley, California.

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Moving party with Pat, Caleb (our neighbour from Cairns), Linda, Con and Belinda in Nelson, B.C, Canada...always moving and always a party..hehe!!

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Skip, Lorraine, Kevin, Pat, Caleb, Rachel and Belinda at HU meeting at Nakusp, BC, Canada in August 2011. Awesome to catch up and get together, plus learn heaps about motorcycle travelling. Skip and Rach are also Cairns HU members and great friends.

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Bin and Chris Ratay in his toy car in Boulder, Colorado! We had a great time with Chris and Erin and thoroughly love Colorado!

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Our rear end sticker collection of cheaky stickers... lots of people comment and take photos!

Posted by Patrick Peck at 03:48 AM GMT
 


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