Monthly Archives: March 2015

Reunions, Regulations, and Repairs

After 500 days south of the border, we're baaack!

After 500 days south of the border, we’re baaack!

Our last morning in Mexico dawned cold and wet, with heavy, chilly rain pounding the roof and turning the campsite into mud. As you can imagine, all I wanted to do was huddle under the covers and wait for the sun. Victoria and Jason, however, were eager to get our last border crossing handled, so out of the camper we popped. The rain was coming down so hard that even Maya wanted nothing to do with it. Jason scrambled to get us broken down and ready to go, and soon we were back in the truck and on the road towards the border.

The rain cut out, and after a quick stop to handle some paperwork, we rolled to a halt in a line of cars heading for the United States. Talk about boring! There was nothing to look at but a big ugly wall, and nothing to do but sit while we inched forward for the next hour and a half. Finally it was our turn at the border. I knew My Family was a bit nervous, after hearing some horror stories from friends who had crossed back into the US before us. The border agent took one look at me and broke out into a big smile. They didn’t have any problem with Maya coming home with us, and only seemed to be concerned about fruit. Five minutes later we were across the border, and back in our home country!

Other than crossing through a giant wall, I didn’t notice much of a difference right away. Jason and Victoria were beside themselves, however. Jason couldn’t get used to the speed limit signs being in miles instead of kilometers, and Victoria griped that we couldn’t just pick any old spot for a pee stop. We made our way out of the unincorporated country east of San Diego, and soon found ourselves surrounded by brand names and mini-malls. A few twists and turns later, we pulled onto a cozy, quiet street filled with homes. Where was our campsite?

Goodbye sand and grass.  Hello pavement...

Goodbye sand and grass. Hello pavement…

A moment later I understood: Jason’s family lived here! I thought my tail would wag right off when I got to say hello to Lilly, Rosie Pants, Jason’s sister Samantha, her daughter Abby, and Jason’s parents Gail and Elliott. I hadn’t seen them in FOREVER, and I had never met little Rosie Pants before. What a reunion! Everyone was so excited to meet Maya and to hear about all of our adventures, and Abby wanted to hang out in our camper as much as possible.

Lots of room for running around in Jason's family's house!

Lots of room for running around in Jason’s family’s house!

We spent more than a week with Jason’s family, and it was super cool to have a house to run around in, a yard and a patio for lounging, and nice people who love to snuggle up. But I couldn’t believe all the rules here! I guess I’d been out of the United States so long that I had forgotten. The part of Oceanside we stayed in isn’t actually ocean-side, rather it was full of houses, people, and dogs. Not only is there no sand, but us dogs have to be on leash pretty much everywhere! There are even signs about it, and you have to pay money if you break the rules! We even heard that dogs can’t even go on the beaches here, let alone run off leash! I got a little bit sad, wondering if Maya and my days of freedom were gone forever. I did enjoy all the great humans who were around, and it’s pretty cool that most of them like dogs and aren’t scared of us. The other dogs don’t seem quite as happy. The traveler and camp dogs we had met during the Big Adventure smiled so much, and spent their days running around in happy little packs. Most dogs around here spend their days on leashes or behind fences, which seems to make them grumpy and want to bark at other dogs all the time. I noticed that even I started barking more at these dogs, a habit I had really tried to break while we were traveling. I guess it’ll take some getting used to.

Even the 'green spaces' are full of concrete :(

Even the ‘green spaces’ are full of concrete :(

Rules schmules. We don't need no stink in' rules!

Rules schmules. We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!

We ignored the rules one day for some much needed off-leash time

We ignored the rules one day for some much needed off-leash time!

We ran so hard, even Maya got tired out!

We ran so hard, even Maya got tired out!

What won’t be so hard to get used to is the food. Oh my gosh! So many choices! Victoria was giddy that whole first week. She couldn’t believe how many options we now had, and she and Jason sure took advantage. I was getting tasty bites of delicious cheeses and meats I hadn’t seen in over a year. And the dog food? Que fancy! We finished our Mexican kibble and found ourselves treated to what felt like super food. Maya was sure happy about this new development. Jason loved the crazy fast internet that made working so easy, and gushed about the selection of good beer, and the fact that you could find it almost anywhere. I guess San Diego is a big beer place, because the humans here talk about it all the time. It was so good that Victoria’s parents treated Vic and Jason to a night out on the town so they could sample some of what this area had to offer. Don’t worry, just as when we were south, Maya and I were left behind in the camper…

Holy choices, Batman!  A dog could get used to this!

Holy choices, Batman! A dog could get used to this!

We spent a ton of time with Jason’s family, which was quite alright with me. Elliott absolutely loves dogs, and Lilly and Rosie Pants showed us the best methods for getting treats out of him. It wasn’t that tough. Abby really loved us dogs too, and spent a lot of time running around with Maya and me. She even gave Maya a new toy, which was super nice of her. One night, Abby joined us for a sleepover in the camper. After all this time, she was our first sleepover guest! It was pretty fun snuggling up with her on the couch, though I did make sure to get safely back to my spot under the covers with My Family once she was ready for bed. We also had a games night, and My Family broke out the UNO deck that had been so well-used during our time in the Costa Rica house. Who doesn’t love UNO? I jumped from lap to lap, trying to help out, but I wasn’t as much of a good luck charm this time around. C’mon, people. You can’t blame the dog!

Jason and Me.  Turns out I am a good luck charm when it comes to UNO, Jason won!

Jason and Me. Turns out I am a good luck charm when it comes to UNO, Jason won!

It was all super fun, but there were some hiccups. Remember what I said about all those rules? Well, it’s not just for dogs. There are rules for cars too, and apparently the big truck wasn’t yet following those rules. Jason spent a lot of time at some place called the Dee Em Vee, and then we spent two entire days driving around from repair shop to repair shop, panting in the heat while humans stood around scratching their heads and talking about fuses, computers, wires and smog checks. In the end, we had to leave our truck and camper overnight to get fixed! It was weird being away from it, even though we had a cozy home to stay in thanks to Jason’s family. Luckily they were able to get everything taken care of, and soon we were back in our comfy home, finally “street legal,” as Jason said.

Abby's got treats, you say?

Abby’s got treats, you say?

Once we had the truck back, it was time to pack up and hit the road. No, there were no more borders to cross, but My Family said the adventure was going to continue. We were headed back to Venice! We were going to spend time with Beverly and Wickets, and their humans, Mike, Katie and little Marley, who was like two weeks old when we left on the Big Adventure. I was super excited to see our old home again, but a little bit anxious about what was to come. I knew Jason had to go back to work again, and we were going to spend some real time back in Los Angeles. Would we still all be together? Would it be fun? How would Maya cope with city life? There were so many questions swirling around my little head, I thought my eyes would pop out. I felt lucky that we were able to stay with Jason’s family and have a safe place to start our journey back into the United States, but where would we go from here?

PS: To see My Family’s photos from our time in Oceanside, click here!

20
Mar 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

California, USA

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Bye Bye to the Baja (and Mexico!)

Some days are lazy days. I am totally okay with that.

Some days are lazy days. I am totally okay with that.

The last time I wrote to you guys, we were beating a hasty retreat from the beaches of Bahia de Los Angeles. Beautiful to be sure, but seriously lacking in the internet services that Jason needed to get through the week. So after a nice run on the beach, Maya and I were packed back into the car and off we drove, down a twisty turny highway and headed south. Our final time driving south on the Big Adventure!

We left Baja California behind and entered Baja Sur, passing the gigantic Mexican flag and the town of Guerro Negro. We pulled into a hotel on the highway and settled in. Kadekaman was a nice little place, with enough room for a couple of campers, a bunch of orange trees, and a sweet dirt lot for Maya and I to run around in. Other than that, I don’t have much to report about our time there. Victoria and Jason went out for a couple of delicious meals, but we didn’t get to come along. The highlight of my week was bath time, so that pretty much sums it up. Not so adventurous. Not so much fun.

Behind our parking lot campsite were all these orange trees! It smelled awesome.

Behind our parking lot campsite were all these orange trees! It smelled awesome.

I was more than happy when My Family packed us down to head back out to the beach. Jason was done with work for the week, so we were off to greener pastures. We got up super early and left the highway behind, for a long drive through the desert. As we drove, a dense bank of fog descended over the road, and all of a sudden there was nothing but white out the windows. I’d never seen a foggy desert before! Although there wasn’t much to see for the next hour, the smells were amazing. The fog finally rose, and we saw the blue of the ocean ahead. This was the tiny fishing town of Bahia Asuncion, and Campo Sirena.

My view out the front window from my perch on Vic's lap. Creepy.

My view out the front window from my perch on Vic’s lap. Creepy.

Thankfully, Campo Sirena was a HUGE improvement. A big sandy lot, sprinkled with nice campers and super friendly dogs. My Family had a ton of fun hanging out with the other travelers, while Maya and I got to know Fuss, Princess, Bonz, Luna and Rosie the Puppy. After several days of sitting next to the car, locked to our leashes and staring at a boring building, this was heaven. The beach was just down a cliff, and we spent most of our days frolicking around with our new doggie friends. Luna started following My Family around, and one day we dashed around the beach together while the humans collected shells. Maya likes collecting shells too, but Victoria won’t let her chew on them. I guess that’s pretty good advice, even though they smell delicious.

The campground was covered in these sparkly flowers. They are S U P E R sticky on your paws if you walk on them.

The campground was covered in these sparkly flowers. They are S U P E R sticky on your paws if you walk on them.

Rosie the Puppy. Maya was afraid of her. Typical.

Rosie the Puppy. Maya was afraid of her. Typical.

Luna begging to come into the camper. I don't think so, chica!

Luna begging to come into the camper. I don’t think so, chica!

At Campo Sirena, we also had maybe the best meal of my entire life. My Family went out for tacos one night, and met a nice man who offered to sell them fish. Apparently, the fisherhumans in this town weren’t allowed to sell their fish right off the beach like in other places, but had to ship them out of town. So one night, Jason’s new friend snuck him over some fish. Actually, A LOT of fish. Jason’s not the best negotiator in the world, so instead of buying one fish like he thought, he ended up buying TEN! Well, his mistake was our gain. The whole campground got together for a big barbecue! All the new human and dog friends cooked up the fish, with rice, french fries, and all the fixings. There was so much food that I got more fish tastes than I think I’d ever had in my entire life. It was awesome!! Even better, the next day was my birthday. I turned five years old, so yeah, I’m a grownup. I got some extra delicious treats, including a big serving of bacon that Jason cooked up fresh. Baja Sur was pretty rad.

Maya and me running on the beach! It's our happy place.

Maya and me running on the beach! It’s our happy place.

Doggie heaven.

Doggie heaven.

We finally had to leave, so we said goodbye to all of our new friends and headed back up that foggy road. I was pretty bummed when we pulled back into Hotel Kadekaman. I knew My Family liked it, because the humans there were nice, and the bathrooms had hot water, but to me it was snoozeville. Luckily, we only stayed for one night. We spent the next morning doing chores, and then headed for a place called Ojo de Liebre.

It was only a quick trip up the highway, but the road from there took a LONG TIME. It turned to dirt pretty quickly, and then wound through all these salt flats. My Family thought it was pretty awesome, so I was nervous we were going to camp there. All that salt on my paws? No thanks! Luckily we kept going, and came to a stop at a massive campground at the edge of an inlet. There were other campers here, but it was a wide open space, and we got a palapa all to ourselves. There was TONS of room for Maya and I to run around, and we weren’t the only creatures there. My Family said there were whales in the water. I’d never seen a whale, but I could smell them, great big things that blew saltwater into the air as they breathed. I couldn’t believe there were animals that actually wanted to swim in the water, but I guess whales like it. To each their own. I was perfectly content to chase Maya around the sand dunes and lay out in the shade of the palapa. That night My Family had a fire, which scared the heck out of the puppy dog. I told her we were totally safe inside the camper, so finally she relaxed and we called it a night.

Looking down on our campsite from up the hill. So. Much. Room (for running)!

Looking down on our campsite from up the hill. So. Much. Room (for running)!

Turns out palapa roofs are perfect for chewing on!

Turns out palapa roofs are perfect for chewing on!

My rad pink hoodie smelled like campfire for days after this.

My rad pink hoodie smelled like campfire for days after this.

The next day wasn’t nearly as fun. My Family went off to go hang out with those whales, and Maya and I were left behind. Super duper boring. Thankfully, things improved from there. Maya and I got to run around like crazy, and My Family was bursting with stories about the momma and baby whale they had played with. That afternoon we met Bill and Sanda, a super nice couple from Oregon who were traveling in a truck camper like ours, but a much bigger one. They shared their delicious Eye-Pee-Yay beer with Victoria and Jason (which made Jason SUPER happy), and the humans traded laughs and stories well into the night.

Our new friends Sanda and Bill!

Our new friends Sanda and Bill!

I was pretty sad when we packed up the next day, but there were big rain clouds in the sky, so I guess there wouldn’t have been much more running around anyway. My Family had done the math, and it appeared we were heading north again. We didn’t spend that many days in Baja Sur this time around, but we had a ton of fun, and our time in Mexico was soon coming to an end. So we got back on the highway and headed for the desert. There’s a huge open space in the middle of Baja with almost nothing but desert in it, and Victoria really wanted to stay there for the night. However, it poured rain on us for almost the entire drive, and nobody wanted to camp out in the desert in the rain. By the way, what’s up with these deserts? Fog and rain? I thought the desert was supposed to be dry?

Anyway, our quick drive turned into a LONG drive, as we kept heading north to try and get away from the dark skies. We finally pulled into the campground behind the hotel Cielito Lindo. This was actually the second place we camped in Mexico during our way south, more than a year ago! We met a nice camper there, a human who had ridden his bicycle all the way from New York! Other than that, nothing much to report. Victoria and Jason had a nice dinner for a human holiday called Valentine’s Day. Not sure about that one. Who’s this Valentine person, and why does he have a holiday? All I know is, dogs were not invited, so I grumbled to Maya about the unfairness of my existence until My Family finally came home and put us all to bed.

Super friendly camp dog at Cielito Lindo. She wanted to hang out with us all the time!

Super friendly camp dog at Cielito Lindo. She wanted to hang out with us all the time!

The next day we got on the road again, driving north to a town called San Quintin, and an RV park called Don Eddie’s. It didn’t look like much to me, but as soon as we pulled in I smelled friends. Sure enough, Rufus was there, with his family, Krista and Paul! They only stayed for one day, but we had a blast hanging out with them, and us dogs got to run around together off leash at our camp site. Pretty cool.

We stayed at Don Eddie’s for a few more days, and it was so boring I literally have nothing to say. Jason worked, Victoria took care of the chores, and Maya and I wrestled around on four feet of leash. Yeah, not much of a Big Adventure around these parts. Maya had a bit of fun, walking with Jason to the store one day, but I didn’t get to go. So yeah, this is the sound of one paw with no thumb clapping.

Even Maya was bored at Don Eddie's...

Even Maya was bored at Don Eddie’s…

I practically did a dance when we packed up camp to hit the road. Whatever was ahead, it couldn’t be worse than the yawnfest I just had. We had another pretty quick drive up the highway, then down a bouncy dirt track that hugged the coast, to the parking lot outside of Coyote Cal’s Hostel. What a view! We were hugging the edge of a cliff, staring out at the beautiful ocean. It was so nice being there with the breeze and the delicious smells. We were stuck on our leashes again, but I didn’t mind so much. Things got even better after My Family made some new friends, two nice humans named Nate and Noah. Noah had spent the afternoon collecting mussels, and he shared that deliciousness with My Family. All of a sudden the camper was full of the smell of the ocean and its creatures, exactly what I love to roll around in on the beach. Even better? Us dogs were given ‘the beards’ and ‘the feet’ to nom on. A M A Z I N G !

This is more like it!

This is more like it!

We only spent one night there, packing up yet again to head to Ensenada, a big city in northern Baja. We were super close to the border now! The plan was to go out to the Bufadora, a cool little slip of land south of Ensenada where we had spent our first night in Mexico. We spent hours driving from campsite to campsite, and even attempted to camp at one place that had literally no place flat to park on. We were all getting super tired, and Victoria was laughing so much I thought she needed licks on the nose, so Jason decided to give up on Bufadora and head into Ensendada. Jason had a work week coming, which meant camping with a little less effort was required. My Family decided to stop at the Estero Beach Resort, a massive place just outside of Ensenada. As our friend Sarah would say “que fancy!”. There was a huge grassy field behind our camper, with trees to sniff and plenty of sticks for Maya to carry around. We had a bit of off leash time (don’t tell anyone, I think it was against the rules!), and a couple of nice walks along the estuary that lined the edge of the resort. Although it was comfortable enough, I could tell Victoria and Jason weren’t that happy. They seemed really on edge about everything, and even Maya’s big sloppy kisses weren’t helping out. I guess everyone was getting a little bit sad about leaving Mexico behind. I thought it was pretty silly to get upset about something that wasn’t happening in the moment. After all, anything can happen between now and five minutes from now, you know? Humans don’t think the same way as us dogs, though.

Maya was excited for the big grassy field to run around on!

Maya was excited for the big grassy field to run around on!

I'm still pretty cute, right?

I’m still pretty cute, right?

After Jason got done working, we packed up and headed away from the city, down a long, bumpy dirt road and across a bunch of rivers. The place we ended up was called Rancho San Carlos, which was recommended to Victoria and Jason by our friends at Coyote Cal’s. What a pretty place! There were all these hot pools that were pretty stinky, but Victoria and Jason seemed to like floating around in them very much. Even when they left us in the camper we were pretty content. There was one creepy moment, when all the camp dogs ran up to the big truck and started barking and snarling at us. Victoria did everything she could to try and get Maya and I to be quiet, but I wasn’t about to let them shout at my home! They eventually went away, and we had a great night under a ton of stars.

One of the pools. Luckily, Victoria didn't even try to make me go swimming. Winning!

One of the pools. Luckily, Victoria didn’t even try to make me go swimming. Winning!

When we left Rancho San Carlos the next day, My Family was in much better spirits. We took our time packing up, and drove away from Ensenada into the wine region. Wine is a liquid like water, but much darker, and humans always smile when they drink it. We didn’t get tastes of anything, as Victoria and Jason hauled us from one vineyard to the next, leaving us behind in the car as they enjoyed their day. So lame! I think sometimes they forget this is “Neli’s Big Adventure”, not “Victoria & Jason’s Big Adventure.” What did they think, we’d greet them with kisses after being left in the car all day? Sheesh! When they finally were done with their shenanigans, we ended up at a boring campsite on the edge of the highway. No people or dogs to hang out with, and only a few minutes of running around before it got dark. When we woke up the next day, it was pouring rain! Instead of staying snuggled up under the covers like a smart dog would, Victoria and Jason dragged us into the car, wet and grumpy. Again, the humans wandered around having fun, visiting vineyards, eating delicious foods and drinking that stupid wine stuff, and AGAIN we were left behind in the car. What the heck is going on here?! When we finally drove north to the next campsite, I was pretty fed up with My Family. These past few days were just stupid, and they didn’t even seem to care!

One of the rare moments when we were let out of the car. Grey skies, closed food trucks, no treats. Snore.

One of the rare moments when we were let out of the car. Grey skies, closed food trucks, no treats. Snore.

My life is one big snoozefest lately. What happened to MY Big Adventure?!

My life is one big snoozefest lately. What happened to MY Big Adventure?!

We camped at Rancho Ojai, a very nice campground pretty near the border. I overheard that this was going to be our last night in Mexico. I couldn’t believe it. The Big Adventure was almost over! We stuck close to the camper that night, but Victoria and Jason pretty much ignored us. They were sharing stories about the trip, something they called ‘reminiscing’. Something else that’s pretty pointless if you ask me. I just sat and watched them do it, though. I guess at some point you have to let humans do what they want to do. They’re not as resilient as us dogs, after all, and it takes a lot more to make them happy when they get sad. I mean, if Maya’s sad I can roll over and bite her face and she’s wagging her tail again. That doesn’t work on Jason. We had spent an awful long time in Mexico (almost six months in human time!), and I guess it had to come to an end sometime. Hopefully that doesn’t mean the adventure’s over, though!

PS: To see the photos My Family took during this time on the Baja click HERE and HERE.  They had a MUCH better time than I did!

08
Mar 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Baja, Mexico

DISCUSSION 1 Comment