Tijuana in December

South bound again to visit friends that moved to Tijuana to volunteer were the need is greater. They are such an awesome couple. We had a great time!

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Sunset at the beach

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Playa del Carmen Primero Dia

We arrive last night and walked 5th Avenue. All the people that had crowded on the beaches that day were now rubbing shoulders on the store lined road. There are no autos allowed on 5th, which is a good thing since they could not maneuver thru the crowds of people.

On the first night Bryon’s debit card wasn’t working. We tried several ATMs thinking it might be just the bank we tried.

Bryon called the bank and was on hold for at least thirty minutes. He found out they had put a hold on his debit card. We were so busy before the trip we had forgotten to let our bank know we were going to be in Mexico. “Ok no problem”, they said, “it should work fine now”. So we went off to dinner, but ended up paying with the credit card anyway.

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Now our first full day was packed with unexpected “adventures”.

We woke up with the light so decided we would go to the English meeting at 10am. I was dressed first and headed a block away to get cash. I tried 2 ATMs that both stated they could not complete transaction. Great! And I left my debit card at home. We had almost no cash and we needed a cab to get to meeting. ;-(

We were thinking maybe the card wouldn’t work until Monday. Strange but we wanted to check out the area on foot so we didn’t worry about it.

Then we got really hungry so we went to the beach restaurant across the street from our hotel. They had the best fish dishes! But guess what we forgot to ask! Yep at the end of lunch we found out they didn’t take credit cards. No signs anywhere. The waiter brought over a menu and pointed to really small type at the bottom that said cash only. Seriously! So we told the waiter were we were staying; he knew the owner. Bryon left something with him and we went back to the room to call the bank.

So this time the bank tells Bryon that when he called yesterday the reported his card stolen. Say what? So the guy on the phone fixes it but Bryon makes him stay on the phone until he gets to an ATM and can pull out cash. Yeah we have money! However, two of the transactions we tried to make at a small ATM stand went through even though it did not dispense us cash! If we open a dispute they will shut down his ATM card. Ay yay yay!

With crisis one complete we decided to take a walk to Walmart. It was the closest super mercado that would have soya for my coffee. 🙂

While stepping off Walmart’s entrance escalator I slipped and my right toe jammed into some jagged cement. So I’m missing some skin on the tip now. It was fairly bloody! So I found a nearby chair and waited about 6-7 minutes for a first aid kit to arrive. I would have fixed it up myself but non of the products looked the same. A manager guy pulls out some orange thready looking stuff and dabs some on my toe. He does this all without gloves, just a thin piece of gauze between my blood and his fingers. I so wanted to council him for not using gloves. I refrained. We then proceeded to get the soya and about $10 usd worth of first aid supplies.

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Now we are starving again. So we make our way down the avenue and pick out an open air restaurant called 100% Natural Restaurant. Within 3 minutes of being seated it starts to rain. There wasn’t enough covered area to seat everyone, so we left. We walked in the rain toward our apartment until it was pouring so hard that we ducked into a covered restaurant just to get dry. So there we ate. The food was ok. Staying dry during dinner was fabulous!! Plus they had cool swings as bar chairs.

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Ok I’m ready to go to bed! We had booked an early tour bus ride to Xel-ha for snorkeling and water activities. So we headed to our apartment. To our surprise we found a construction crew banging and drilling over our balcony! At this point it’s about 9pm, so we ask them how late they will be working. “A que hora finito” I ask in my limit Spanish. “Dos” is his reply. So ok, dos hours?. “No”, he replies, “dos mañana”. So Bryon texts Lucy, the lady who rented the apartment to us. She comes right away and tries to get the construction workers to agree on a decent hour. But they wouldn’t budge! So she takes us to sleep at another apartment that is open for the night. We grab just what we need and walk with her about 15 minutes. The new place was cute but the cleaning lady had not finished sine the last renters left. So I was a bit grossed out, even though it wasn’t really that dirty. So finally got to sleep at midnight.

What a day!

Death Valley Titus Canyon and Leadfield Ghost Town

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After a short swim and shower we headed back out to Titus Canyon for a true 4wd adventure! To take the tour through Titus Canyon you need four wheel drive! Its somewhat of a long drive on a bumpy road that has some steep ascents with severe cliffs.
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We were able to pull over a few times before arriving at the actual canyon; which is very narrow. About two thirds the way there is an old ghost town called Leadfield. This would make the most awesome location for a photo shoot!!!
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We also pulled over to capture these desert blossoms which starkly stood out against the desert rocks and sand.
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The canyon is so awe inspiring! We were all hanging out the car wishing we had a sunroof!
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I used my DSLR with my fisheye so I will add my images once I can process them. Here are a couple Michielle took with her phone. Bryon also took some GoPro video that I’m hoping will show the spectacular views even better than the photos.
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After we finished the canyon tour we rushed off to Mesquite Dunes to capture some sunset images. Once again my best shots are on the DSLR but here are some Michielle took.
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Death Valley Artist Drive and Devils Golf Course

Michielle made bacon for breakfast!!! Yummmmm!

We planned a lot for today, so we will create two post. One post for morning and one for afternoon.
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First stop Artist Drive. It’s a beautiful one way gently curved drive that takes you to Artist’s Palette. Here you find mountains made of purple, pink and blue hues. 20130421-171849.jpg
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Hike down and around and you will find a variety of shapes in the landscapes. Please keep all comments rated G!
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Stop two was Devil’s Golf course. Where we found a small hole with salt water. Be careful if you venture out as the course is made of sharp dirty salt!
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Race Track and Scotty’s Castle

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The sunrise happens early in the desert. But strangely I wasn’t that tired when we started coffee around 6:30. Keith took some fun images of Bryon hiking around the hill tops near our campsite.

First stop Scotty’s Castle built near natural springs around 1925-31. It is a gorgeous Spanish style castle with mote and all! Beautifully landscaped with palm trees and a little bit of grass! We took so many images it was difficult to decide which images to post.
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Next stop The Race Track.
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The bouncing and jittering for a out an hour was all worth it once we found some picture worthy rock trails. I think the park could make tons of money on helicopter tours to the race track! Especially because the best time to take pictures at the race track would be early morning or an hour or so before sunset. However, we arrived midday so we had to play with our settings and flash to get the shadowy effects we wanted. Here is a phone shot, slr images will be posted later.
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One tip – when traveling to Death Valley is don’t wear black! Not because of the heat but because light khaki and beige hide the dust better. And you will get dusty, very dusty!
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We arrived back to Furnace Creek in time to enjoy a swim and shower before making dinner. Now we just need to bathe the car!20130421-174349.jpg

Up at the Crack of Dawn

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5am and our alarm is going off. Time to hit the road for Death Valley.

Loading the car this morning was like packing a wagon for the trail. We had been a bit quick in our packing adding too much to the pile. So we had to consolidate bags to make it all fit. Ditching the extra pot, a couple gallons of water, and lots of odds and ends.

2 hours later… We got underway in a completely jam packed Chevy Traverse rental.

After leaving Bay Area traffic behind we headed toward Tehachapi where we ate lunch at Red House BBQ. Good stuff!

Continuing on the road to Death Valley we stopped briefly at some rock formations near Red Rock Canyon Park. Where we captured some of our favorite shots of the day.