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A Bite Of Entertainment

To brighten up this day I thought I’d post a long overdue bite of entertainment.

Exuma is a district in the Bahamas consisting of more than a year’s worth of cays (islands) if you visited a different one each day.  The most known cay besides Great Exuma might be Staniel Cay, a favorite of boaters and yachters due to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  Just a mile away from Staniel Cay is Big Majors Spot, an uninhabited strip of land with two beautiful beaches on the Exuma Banks side facing a supremely beautiful anchorage area. On busy holidays there might be a hundred boats bobbing “on the hook”.

As nice as all this is, the main attraction on Big Majors Spot are several wild pigs that aggressively swim out near shore for scrap food brought by in boaters. They will even try to hop in the boat if they think you are holding back from them. They are wild, and can bite. It might not be the smartest idea to get in the water with them…

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We’ll Be Right Back

What happened?  How has 2012 come down to this?  Just ten days to catch up, hurry up, wrap up, and measure up.  And what happened to our blogging?  We all but left our remaining readers empty-handed.  After six + months is this thing still on?  Hello out there…

In the past several weeks we’ve reminisced about Lake Anna, Urbanna Oyster Festival, Thanksgiving at the Whitelocks, and Christmas At Derbyshire.  At the same time we continue to get out and make new memories in the west.  I call it replacement therapy.

L & I have decided to check out for the rest of the year.  Unplug, turn off, and leave behind everything we didn’t get done in 2012.  At daybreak tomorrow morning we’re taking a cargo plane to a two square mile patch of carbonate.  24° 10.185 N   76° 26.874 W   And we promise to spend a little time pondering course corrections.

On our discussion list for 2013 are vows to linger for more conversations, take more pictures, share more stories, remember more names, and maybe even make a few more blog posts.

Merry Christmas.  We’ll hit it hard next year.

J

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Lately…

We’ve been buying up the road lately.  Yet, for some reason blogging is still on the back burner.  Here are a few pictures to tide you over until I figure out something to say!

We may not be “Overlanding” but we are certainly off the beaten path!

Our “camp” at Overland Expo 2012  Photo by Brent Haywood

Does anyone recognize the flag we’re flying at Overland Expo 2012?

A rock star from New Jersey left this at our house several years ago. We decided to see if it could be used for stove fuel.

For those of you who have heard about my container house dream… here’s one we found in Flagstaff, AZ. Check it out at www.containerhouseflagstaff.com

We stopped in here for a quick lunch while passing through Williams AZ. That “quick lunch” turned into a two and a half hour lesson on life!  Photo by Chad Walker

Kevin and Kathi have thrown away conventional wisdom and started a new venture that Kevin has always dreamed about. Kathi is a former business and life coach. For some reason she focused at least an hour of clarifying questions at the man in the plain blue shirt.  Photo by Chad Walker

Thanks Kevin & Kathi for a jumpstart into figuring out what my second half century will be!         Photo by Chad Walker

Memorial Day on Mission Bay, San Diego, CA Photo by Brent Haywood

Memorial Day on Mission Bay, San Diego, CA Photo by Brent Haywood

J

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Recent PAV Porn

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An Up Close Look At The Crippling Mexican Drug Trade

Somewhere in time between the sale of The View and the adoption of The PAV, I heard about HarvestHosts.com.  Although RV-less at the time I signed up right away in support of an amazing idea.  After visiting 70 countries (48 by vehicle) Kim and Don Greene came up with the idea of a membership organization arranging overnight RV parking at vineyards and farms.

Our hosts Don & Kim Greene

For 2012 Harvest Hosts is adding guided wine tours.  This past week was the first one, a “Wine and Whales” tour to Mexico!  Isn’t Mexico very dangerous? I mean doesn’t the news media call Mexico a war zone and tells everyone to stay away? Aren’t we going to get robbed, raped, and beheaded?  Is it safe to drive a Pleasure Assault Vehicle in Mexico?  We don’t know a thing about Mexican wines.  We’re scared to death to drive and travel to Mexico.  But we’re close by so why not?

We don’t follow popular advice!  We did some research, called folks in the know, found out the risks where the tour was planned were minimal, and decided to sign up.

Last Sunday we met our hosts and four other vehicles just inside the USA border for a meet & greet happy hour and overnight.  Monday morning we packed up and headed out caravan style for the Mexican hill country.

Line 'em Up, Move 'em Out - "What we have here is a convoy" L

Currently there are 60 wineries in the Guadalupe Valley of the Mexico state of Baja California (Baja North).  In fact, Mexico has named a Ruta Del Vino – Valle de Guadalupe to promote tourism.

See, big signs that we are welcome here!

Monday we visited three wineries in the Guadalupe Valley: Casa Pedro Domecq, Casa de Dona Lupe, and overnighted at L.A. Cetto.

First stop, Casa Pedro Domecq

Not quite classroom, more like immersion

Tiny 12,500 liter barrels

Aged bottles in Domecq's underground cave

Told you it was a cave

L.A. Cetto

Live music by campfire at L.A. Cetto!

Thanks Jane & Boris! (They drove from South Carolina to join the tour!)

How's this for an early morning view from The PAV?

Tuesday we traveled to Ensenada for a whale watching tour and overnighted just south at the Estero Beach RV Park

Two tourists on a whale watch (more like whale search since we didn't see any)

Wednesday we traveled about 20 miles south to visit La Bufadora and then northeast for tasting, dinner, and overnight at Bodegas San Rafael.  Ludwig Hussong is not only a winemaker, but master chef.  Plus, he’s the grandson of Juan Hussong who owned Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada where the Margarita was invented.  Underachiever.  (We’re not supposed to pick favorites but we liked his wine and food the best!)

La Bufadora (notice the empty parking lot)

La Bufadora

Slightly different model year

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Bodegas San Rafael

Thursday we traveled back to Ensenada for lunch at the fish market and then north to overnight at Adobe Guadalupe.  What an amazing place Donald and Tru Miller have built here!  Check out chef Rick Bayless’ experience here to see more and get a glimpse of the kitchen where we were served breakfast Friday morning.

Ensenada Fish Market

What the fuss was about

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Adobe Guadalupe

Friday is was back to the USA border, the experience of crossing back into our home country, and the feeling that USA citizens aren’t as welcomed returning home as in the past.

The main evidence of the drug wars and the resulting media coverage are: 1) many, many, many closed shops and deserted businesses 2) nearly a ghost town feel to many spots  3) the complete disappearance of United States tourists.  Are the problems real?  Yes.  Has there been violence?  Yes.  We were not in the most dangerous areas and the wonderful people in the beautiful countryside of Baja California, MX could really use our support, tourism dollars, and smiling faces.

Would we go again?  YOU BET!  In fact, we’re going to plan for it!

Hard evidence of Mexico's crippling drug trade

J

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Invitation To A New Year’s Eve Party

Directions:

Interstate to state road
State road east climbing into the mountains
Turn off state road onto smaller state road 
Drop down 3,496 feet in the last 9 miles
Find small traffic circle in center of town (population 2,500)
Head directly north out-of-town  
Once the pavement ends continue on sand wash through desert
      (Re-set your odometer when you start off the pavement!) 
Continue straight at all path choices 
      (Basically stay where most of the tire tracks have been).  
Cross the first water crossing (dry)
Cross an unmarked water crossing (where some of the first stream has diverted) 
Continue exactly 2 miles past where your AT&T iPhone cellular signal dies
At 4.5 miles on the dirt, 
      shortly past the three rocks technical obstacle, 
      and shortly before the second water crossing,
      we'll be on the left. 
Can't miss us!

Oh, bring food, snacks, beverages, chairs, and any survival gear (if you have it).

J

Sunrise #1 '12 in Coyote Canyon Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Tagged in the middle of nowhere!

We missed some friends while out on a hike

Two tourists

Dinner is almost ready

Bring your notepads - we're going to make some 2012 goals

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Merry Christmas

20111225-101638.jpg

Perhaps our new island friends say it best, even without using words.

J & L

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Toys For Tots Overland Overnighter

L & I spent last night on base at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base for a Toys For Tots rally.

This was the raffle drawing. Prizes for toys donated were donated by various overlanding vendors. Look at the boxes and boxes of toys! Great turnout!

L spent way too much time looking at the teardrop trailers. Is she looking for a doghouse for me?

I especially like the pizza oven bottom left. Now that's glamping!

The highlight of the event for us was hearing that Mark and Heidi had started a blog… and blame us!

Mark & Heidi's first blog post is about us!

http://www.trumpoverland.com/2011/11/12/getting-started

Once again we met some great new overlanding friends as well as spent time with some of those we met at the Hollister rally.  We hope to be back for Toys For Tots 2012!

J

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How I Spent My Allowance

I don’t know why we went all the way to Portland, OR last month to find food trucks.  I found nine of them just two miles away from the house today.  I thought about not visiting as L, The Food Truck Connoisseur, could not be here to enjoy it with me. That thought lasted, oh, maybe five seconds (if I double it).   So, off I went.

Hey! That's Trainer Dave pointing the way!

First stop: The Grilled Cheese Truck

The Fully Loaded:  House Smoked BBQ Pork, Caramelized Onions, Sharp Cheddar Cheese & Macaroni, on Grilled Bread

Second stop: The Lobsta Truck

Lobster Roll (maine) with drawn butter of course

J

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Is This A Dare, A Challenge, Or Great Advice?

Don Greene ended his email today responding to my questions about their Harvest Hosts 2012 Baja Wine Tour with the following sentence

Never stop daydreaming, but remember, we only regret the things in life that we don’t do.

That’s it. We’re going!

J

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