I Need a Copilot

It may be that Baja is just another day at the office for people who grew up here. But it’s something new and different and exciting to me because I didn’t grow up here.

I love to stop and take pictures using my iPhone. Frequently there really isn’t any place to actually stop and take the picture.

So I’m bypassing what to me seems like thousands of really neat statues and other public art exhibits that I can’t take get captures of.

Clearly, what I need is a copilot. Either somebody to watch the car while I am wandering around taking pictures or somebody to take the shots. But, having them use the iPhone would take all the fun out of it for me.


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I Love having ADD

At desk, decide to make a cup of coffee
Go into kitchen
Wash last night’s cup, saucer and small plate, a few pieces of silverware.
Put debris into trash
Wipe down counters
Curse at tiny sugar ants
Tidy kitchen and cutting block
Put dishes away
Walk back to desk

Return to kitchen to make cup of coffee
Put away some kitchen tools neglected the first time
Get coffee cup
Add water
Add half and half
Add coffee crystals
Add artificial sweetener – stir – leave spoon in spoon tray
Put in mug microwave
Go back to desk

Go back into kitchen to turn ON microwave
Take out trash
Come back and sit at desk

Go back to kitchen and get lukewarm coffee out of microwave – stir
Put spoon in sink
Finally sit at desk with coffee

Dunkin’ Donuts, where are you when I need you?
Oh, back in Massachusetts. Darn.

At least the kitchen is clean
I think
Go check kitchen

Coffee is cold now
Consider warming it up, then decide to drink it as it is

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The Little Chapel in the North Wing

At the signing of the lease for the house my landlady inquired of her husband as to whether I’d been told of the history of the house. I had not, so she proceeded to provide a short history.

The original owner was a very religiously devoted man and he added onto the home by creating a chapel devoted to The Virgin. It was quite a big deal with a procession lead by a priest and an official consecration of the chapel. The wing with the small second bedroom, dressing room and ¾ bath with a walk-in shower is where the chapel was.

On the outside of the building, facing the little dirt road of Calle Padre, is a window inset IMG_3162into the wall (it is a protrusion into the dressing room) which has a statue of The Virgin Mary with a dove hanging from a wire and containing various offerings. From time to time people still drop by to make offerings, I’m told.

It might be a bit more difficult to get to these days what with the large flowering plant in front of it.

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Carnival at the Border

Okay, so it is not like Carnival in The Big Easy, but for about a mile before arriving at the US border at Tijuana, it is a great deal like the sideshow of a big US fair. No matter what you might want – bathroom, water, food, soda, mementos of Mexico – it is there.

There are wooden walls built up about two stories high painted in the bright colors expected in Mexico. Vendors of everything from food to carved crosses, water pots with mugs, and even women dressed up in nursing uniforms with their hair rolled back in styles harking back to the nurses of the 1950’s all looking to make some money. Several lanes are shut down to accommodate the carts of vendors.

I wanted to take some photos, but I figured there would be a charge for it. So I didn’t. Well, I took one, but it wasn’t much to look at.

Some of the same people came by more than once, which either means they don’t take “No thanks.” for an answer or they can’t remember what cars they’ve been by. Probably the latter since it is unlikely they want to waste time trying to draw water from a dry well.

I mostly watched from the corners of my eyes. And because I was doing my best to look disinterested I found myself in a fit of yawning that lasted a good half an hour.

These are hard-working people. They’re the American entrepreneurs of yesteryear. They’re hawking whatever sells – serapes, shaved ice drinks, pottery, statutes, carved wood, cheesy necklaces that look like they came from Carnival.  And then, there is the occasional beggar – a person missing an arm or in a wheelchair – not many, though.

The ladies in white uniforms are pristine and remain that way. The men and women selling goods are dogged in their determination to get someone to buy – and I can only imagine people like Horace Greeley applauding from the wings.  The crowd dies down around the area where the US takes over the landscape.

I wonder when the vendors come to work; when do they fold up for the night?


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Casa Grande Ruins

IMG_2950Once upon a time – in a galaxy far, far away – or in this case about 5,500 BCE Native Americans moved into what is now the Sonora Desert and set up housekeeping and crop raising.

These ruins are the remains of the culture, which petered out before the European invasion ever reached the area.

Preservation work includes construction of a freestanding roof and installation of drainage pipes to protect the ruin from the corrosive action of rain.

Various outbuildings accompany this four story tall abode made from the earth of the area.IMG_2965 Whether these were for storage or for other purposes such as ceremony can only be conjectured. This particular ruin appears to have a lot of cross-beam holes in it suggesting it was another multi-story unit and perhaps for housing.

Although the builders lived in the area for thousands of years, it was only about 300 CE that they began planting crops. Due to climate change they ended up watering using irrigation. As with all things, sooner or later, civilizations end.

IMG_2963Below are photos of some other built up areas. Many of the partial walls are well over my head.








The following are photos of the main structure which has been been best preserved.IMG_2958IMG_2959















If you are ever in the Casa Grande, Arizona area this is a fascinating place. Then again, I’m an ancient history fan.

Dog friendly outside as long as Rover is on a leash.

No dogs allowed in the information building except service dogs.

See what happens when I stop to smell the roses?  Besides bringing rain with me, that is?

For more information: National Park Service Ancient Sonoran People  Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was the first cultural and prehistoric site to be protected by the United States government. It was set aside in 1892 by President Benjamin Harrison.

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Texas Canyon



This canyon is off interstate 10 in Arizona. It’s in between two mountain ranges. One is called Little Dragoon Mountains and the other is Dragoon Mountains.

The big granite boulders are actually protected by law. Apparently from the sign there this used to be the stagecoach route of the Butterfield Overland Mail.

This is also the place where Cochise made his last stand.

Pretty neat place!

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New Mexico to Arizona

Dictated notes from today:

The really nice thing about rest areas off I-10 is that each of the picnic tables and IMG_2850 benches are enclosed in an attractive adobe style enclosure – in New Mexico – and a just as effective, but less attractive one in Arizona.  It can be hotter than hell outside; when you walk into the cool shade the temperature difference is amazing.IMG_2852

We have now added scorpion warnings to the dog exercise areas of the rest stops. O.O Since the wee little doggie has no idea what a scorpion is I’m doing double-time on lookout patrol.

I just crossed the Continental Divide at about 4,500 feet in elevation. I looked around and can’t figure out where the divide is. The Rocky Mountains I remember from Montana and Idaho must peter out before Arizona.

I burst out laughing when I passed a concrete Sioux Indian style teepee next to the road. Not useful in the heat of an Arizona summer.

Many of the areas I am passing through now have warnings of dust storms with instructions to pull off the road and onto the shoulder if visibility becomes zero.

Stopped near Arizona City, Arizona. Need to get the tires rotated. Got the car serviced this morning in Deming, New Mexico. May stay a day or two here in the very budget friendly Motel 6 so the wee little doggie and I can gear up for the last leg of the trip down into Baja.  After a few days on the road a couple days of rest seems to help.  I have another few things to attend to as well – including Mexican car insurance.


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After the blur is over

So much of this road trip has been a blur. I suppose it is unavoidable given time constraints and mileage.

Today is different. I set the iPhone on record and this is what I said:

Driving through west Texas. For the first time since I’ve left Massachusetts I feel like I can breathe again.

I know that this isn’t what anybody on the East Coast or in the Deep South would consider beautiful. But, when I see oil pumps like I remember from when I was a child in North Dakota; and when I see miles and miles of miles and miles my heart leaps in my chest.

There are old, broken down mobile homes with rust streaks down the sides, old cars either broken down or sitting in the sun waiting for a driver. Long trains wind down tracks near the road. There are signs over gates announcing ranches; beyond it all I see the horizon. I see the vault of the heavens.

Instead of being blocked in on all sides by cars and people and trees I can see wide-open spaces. I’m not feeling as if I’m locked in a small space with no way to get out.

I’m back in the West. My heart is home. IMG_2849

I’m reminded of my childhood in North Dakota with the burning coal mines, the Badlands, and the gently rolling hills. I’m reminded of Idaho and the wide-open spaces full of sagebrush and rattlesnakes. I’m reminded of the vast spaces of the place I love most on this Earth – Alaska. Open. Wild. Free.

I am not a City Slicker. I never have been. I’ve learned to endure. Thank all that is holy that I don’t have to endure any longer.

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Lake Lure part 2

Here are photos of a lovely little walking trail near the marina and welcome center.

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Lake Lure, North Carolina

Lake Lure is one of the jewels on my trip. It is where my brother and his wonderful wife reside. Blaine and I tend to have the same sort of commentary that spills from our mouths – it is a Cox family thing – and Veryle Lynn is a saint. One of their daughters was there and noted that the only difference between my brother and me is gender. 😀 That’s Cox commentary, folks.

I’m always impressed with their home built into the side of a steep embankment. It clings there with many external staircases that go from floor to floor and then down to the boat dock, zigging and zagging down. Usually Blaine takes me out for a boat ride, but it rained every single day so no ride this time.  Although others were out on the lake with their roofed pontoon boats – good for them.

My sister-in-law is a highly skilled artist. Another thing that strikes me whenever I visit is that it is like going to an art gallery inside a house. I have no idea quite how she manages to put all those colors and textures together and make it all work, but she does. It is really quite amazing. I wish I had that sort of talent.  I used to teach One Stroke painting.  Not the same, believe me.

My sister-in-law got involved with the Flowering Bridge project and helped with various plantings in old chairs. By the way, there is only one other flowering bridge in the US.

Here are some photos of the Flowering Bridge.

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