Saturday, March 16, 2019

New camper saga for the retired lifestyle

Thursday, March 14th - Pi day!

Having sold my touring motorcycle two weeks ago, I started hunting in earnest for a reasonably well equipped pop up tent camper.  After dealing with Craigslist stupidity and non-responsive sellers, I found a nice unit in Richmond, Indiana at the Camping World store.  I tossed a deposit on it and headed south in the Transit Connect.

It's a 2003 Coleman Grand Tour Carmel.  Needs a bit of love, but highly rescue-able.  A few parts, some cleaning and resealing of the canvas, etc.  All normal maintenance items!  I'll replace the deep cycle battery, the tires and some small broken bits.  The TC needs to be rewired for a 7 pin round plug to use the electric brakes on the trailer.

The camper came with awnings front and rear, a screen room for the front, two stoves (inside and outside), a three way fridge, furnace, a 12v electrical system and 110v shore power.  It also has a 10 gallon clean water tank under the floor.

The trip home was via all secondary roads from Richmond.  I got ~20 mpg with the TC hauling the camper at 60 mph!  12 hours and 550 miles round trip in one day.  I slept well.  😅

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Escaping the Polar Vortex February 2019

Thursday, Jan 31st

Up and unmoving this morning after a late night at work.  Wife is dropping me at Metro Airport on her way to work in Detroit about 7AM.  First priority is a hot cuppa coffee to knock the aches back a bit.  Catching up on the local news and weather to see how cold it got.  The furnace heat got kicked up a few notches to keep the chill out!  -12* with wind chill somewhere around-35* ain’t no joke.


The flight was uneventful and arrived 30 minutes early.  My arrangements for rental car pickup were perfect and the drive south to Playa del Carmen were nearly uneventful till reaching town.  An accident was blocking all of one lane and most of the other causing a large traffic backup.  The hotel is gorgeous, but as with all Mexican towns, a bit noisy even in the night.

My room for the next four days!

Remnants of the snow at Detroit Metro Airport

Dropped below the cloud layer on approach to Cancun International Airport

Climb out from Metro

Waiting on the shuttle to arrive for my car

Dinner last night was over at Jarritos y Cazuelas, a small, open Mexican restaurant on Avenida Constituyentes three blocks from the hotel.  I found a parking spot near the hotel for the car and walked over after checking in.  The food was delicious and cheap.  A huge burrito with a combination of sausage, steak and barbecued meat delivered with a cold can of Coke.  It hit the spot.  :)  

It cooled off nicely later in the evening, negating the need for anything but the ceiling fan.

Friday, 1 Feb

Today is walk around town and get some exercise day!  Breakfast starts at 8am in the lobby.  I'll go check on the car and then head down to the massive tourist area on the beaches.  Updates this evening of the fun had.  lol

First things first, a run to Walmart for supplies!  Bottled water, Cokes and some other necessities.  I drove over, but I should have walked.  Ended up parking in the paid parking afterwards due to no street parking available.  There goes $10 for the day.  Off to the souvenir shops now!

I'm ba-ack!  Lots of footsteps laid down.  It's a mile to the embarcadero and some of the tourist stuff I wanted to visit.  No words, just photos now.

Breakfast and coffee complete.  Ready to adventure!

The Portal Maya

My kitty bud.  He's adopted me.

Lunch on Avenida 5

Siesta time in my hammock

Turtles in Fundadores Park

The tourist maze.  It stretches for a mile on two walking streets

The Sugar VW

Honest fish tacos and refritos.  $150 pesos/$7.50 US

Walking the beach back to the hotel

Sitting area in the hotel center

Neat street art outside the hotel

A must do for me.  Each town has their name set up like this.

Tomorrow is supposed to have some rain showers, but I think it's over to the island of Cozumel for more walking and sightseeing.  Dinner will be much later or not at all.  The hotel provides cold cut sandwiches and cold drinks about 8 PM and it's included!

Did I mention 83* and sun today?  Yeah, toss them rocks my way.

Saturday, Feb 2 (Sammy mutt's birthday!)

Up at the crack of dawn,  Got a couple cups of coffee in the lobby and headed off on foot to the Cozumel ferry.  I'm glad I went early.  The crowd coming off as I was queued up to come back was insanely huge.  Arriving at 8AM on the island, the streets were lightly populated.  First destination was the town center's park for some photos.

At the ferry dock, this beach was huge in 2016 when we were here last.  Storms.  :(

Coming off the ferry, the first glimpse of town

This arched sculpture of two scuba divers on Avenida Raphael Melgar is a tribute to Cozumel's loviest natural asset:  the coral reefs.

This was also not here in 2016.  Someone's once beautiful sailboat was washed ashore and destroyed during the last hurricane.

Various statues along the shore headed south towards the south pier.

Got a selfie with the Playa sign today.

Feeling Froggy at Señor Frog's restaurant and bar.

More Señor Frog decorations

Vintage dune buggy for rent!

A fellow traveler was kind enough to take this shot for me at the upscale mall south of town.

From the town park, another selfie!  Yeah, I'm already burnt.  :)

Walked back to the hotel via Subway.  I needed my daily dose of veggies and I kinda trust them for safe food here.  It's just about siesta time.  The late afternoon will be staying shaded near the pool.

Sunday, Feb 3rd

Do nothing day.  Extremely hot and very muggy made even walking a chore.  That didn't stop me from doing the 5th Avenue stroll twice.  Once in the morning, once in the afternoon between reading a book in a hammock.

Monday, Feb 4th

Checked out early this morning, loaded up the car and off to Tulum for a tour of the Mayan ruins there.  Gas stop to add enough gas to get there, Coba and all the way over to Pistè for tomorrow's adventures.

Tulum ruins were spectacular.  The best part of the entire visit is the town backs up to the Atlantic Ocean and the sun was shining bright.  Pictures are uploading from the phone now.

Obligatory selfie.  I still ain't cute.  :)

All along the watchtower....

The setting is breathtaking

Long walk in!

It's good to get there early!  This was as I was leaving.

Up the steps and into the amazing

Everywhere you walk, there are more structures to be recovered and preserved

From Tulum, the tourism continues to Coba, NW of Tulum about 40km.  This is a very lightly visited site and it really shouldn't be.  Damn awesome ruins.  Glad I used the DSLR for those pictures.  They'll be uploaded shortly and added here.  After walking all the way into the far end of the site, I managed to twist my ankle enough to get my attention.  Thankfully, the site has many bicycle shuttles to and from various areas of the park.  I bit the bullet, opened the wallet and rode out in style.  😋  The only suckage is I didn't get to climb their publicly accessible pyramid to the summit.

From Coba, the travels ended at Pistè for the next couple days.  Checked into my new hotel, getting ready for that household chore of doing some laundry and then flop by the pool with a cold mojito.  Hotel Chichen Itza upgraded my room from regular to superior - letting me overlook the pool area instead of the main road.  Pictures for this place will come soon too.

Siesta time in the hammocks

Room overlooking the pool!

Laundry last night.  No laundry facilities available, so hand washed in the tub.  lol

Tuesday, Feb 5th

Chichen Itza this morning!  They open the preserve at 8AM.  I walked in at 8:10 to the start of the large crowds.  It's best to be in and gone by 10 due to the popularity of the site and I was just into this time frame.

Ran out of enthusiasm for walking today.  I did the picture updates above and went to my favorite hammock for a rest and recovery.  My feet told me "enough"!  😊  After a couple hours of lounging and reading, a solid lunch was needed.  The hotel restaurant was close, convenient and as it turns out, damn good!  Asked for a recommendation from my waiter and went with it.  Had no idea what I ordered, but hey, it's food.  Turns out I got a combination shish kebab with beef, pork and shrimp and all the veggies I really wanted.  I could get used to this.

The last hour or so has been gathering up my stuff and reorganizing my back pack for the drive to Cancun tomorrow.  It's been a good time, but it would have been better with the spousal unit along.  Heck, I probably spent 6-7 hours texting with her anyways.

Double checked, not a live parrot

Will Lowes hire me down here?

Outside the restaurant, next to the pool.

The stone tourist

All the way down on the left is me!

Wednesday, February 6th

Early start this morning to run back over to Cancun for my last night in Mexico.  After coming west via the "free" roads, the route back will be on the toll road.  First things first, a stop to add fuel for high speed run.  $400 pesos got me from less than a quarter tank to just over a half.  North out of Pisté to Mexico 180D eastbound.  Get on the highway after paying a $78MX toll and put the "hammer" down.  With a 1 liter four cylinder, the hammer more resembles a tack hammer.  :)

GPS shows 180 kilometers to the hotel thru downtown Cancun.  2.5 hours and a few more grey hairs, it's true!

Not how to see Mexico!

Pisté was CST, so an hour lost going east.  I got to the hotel about 10:30am, parked the car and asked the desk clerk if it was ok to leave it there till I checked in at 3.  Sure!  Directly across from the new hotel was the ferry to Isla Mujeres, also a new town to visit.  Fare is a mere $20 round trip.  I queued up, got a ticket and sat down to wait for the 11:45am departure.  Tick, tick, tick......  Staff gets everybody lined up at 11:30, so far, so good.  11:55, still no sign of the ferry......

About then, I realized I needed food badly.  The tickets are good all day and the next ferry was 1PM.  I knew this area, so I headed over to a restaurant I knew.

Three tacos el pastor and a coke later, my head is clearer and the food is gone.  Back over to the embarcadero.

The ferry was late again.  We finally got across the ocean and docked about 1:45.

Walking off the ferry

To the right, the Mexican Naval Base

Lots of scooters for rent

Umm, ok?

The ocean side of the island - the good side.  Trust me on this.
The ferry landing side is a cess pool of tourist hungry vendors

We had considered visiting this island as a vacation destination.  After walking around for a couple hours, I wouldn't send the Venezuelan army to invade.  A true third world shit hole.

I hopped the next ferry back to the mainland and won't be back.  Got checked in to the new hotel, unpacked and realized I was out of clean stuff.  Previous experience to the rescue.  I know where the laundromat to use is!  Down the main hotel drag about 2 km and yup, it's still there.  

Dinner, pack up my stuff to come home and bed.

Thursday, February 7th

The day of doom.  Back to the arctic Michigan weather.  Since the backpack was already full, I had time for a good breakfast.  Not so much.  I walked into the hotel restaurant, sat down and watched two waitresses studiously ignore the entire clientele patiently waiting for them to take orders.  I sat there for 15 minutes, got up and made a very loud ruckus, then left for the airport figuring to eat there.  I forgot - Mexico.  The stuff available was less than edible.  Starbucks, donut and a table ended up being my breakfast.

Terminal 3

My little roller skate transportation!

On the way to the airport, I grabbed the Cancun sign at sunrise!

Guy Fieri is every*damn*where.

We loaded up the airplane at 1:15, in the air by 1:40 and home at 5:30.  Baggage was delayed by a technicality - the luggage carousel broke down.  My youngest son met me at 6PM, drove over to the departures terminal and dropped him off to go to Boston for a job interview.  The drive home was fog, people who can't drive and traffic.