Tomorrow morning Kathy and I will be leaving Mexico. We will also be leaving Winnie, our well loved RV, and Kahlo, our beloved dog. We have really enjoyed our year and a half of RV life. We visited 22 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. We found and fell in love with Kahlo, met lots of wonderful people and have so seen much beauty.
However Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, has been calling our names and we’ve decided to return for a year. Winnie will remain here in the safe keeping of the Mona Lisa RV Park.
Kahlo will also remain here for the year. We believe she will be happier here than in an apartment in Thailand. She has a best friend, Lucky, and Lucky’s owner, Javier, will take good care of her while we are gone.
We will miss her very much and probably miss RV life too. However this is the life we have chosen to live…a life of “home-free” travel, and sometimes sad good byes.
Yesterday BOLT had lots of fun being Ensenada tourists for a day. While Kathy and I are enjoying the simple life here at the Mona Lisa RV Park, there is not much excitement. So, along with our neighbor we set out to have some fun. We caught the mini-bus just outside our gate and within thirty minutes we were in the center of town. From there we had a great day! Let me show you in pictures. Our first stop was lunch. We ha a delicious and inexpensive meal at Antojitos Lula. Three meals, including soup, appetizers and beverages was 300 pesos ($15) total! Definitely a place where we will return. We worked off our lunch by strolling through the busy streets of downtown Ensenada, window shopping and just taking in the sights, sounds and colors. We visited this really cool museum. The Museo Histórico Regionalis a small museum set on the site of a former prison. You can visit the former cells and there are exhibits about early life in Baja. I especially enjoyed practicing my Spanish with one of the curators. We both agreed that: “En todo el mundo la mayoria de los prisioners son inocentes.” That most are imprisoned for lack of money. Our walk continued to the cruise ship harbor. A big ship was in port so there were lots of vendors out. We are savy enough to know not to buy anything, it was all overpriced but fun to see. Our last stop was the beautiful Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y Historia. This is a fairly large museum and we didn’t have time to explore it all. The part we visited replicated a cave and had anthropological finds exhibited throughout. Another place we will definitely return to. We most definitely had the perfect day of tourism and we were happy to return to our peaceful Mona Lisa home.
This is our second visit in the RV to Ensenada and probably our fifth or sixth between cruises and car trips. We never spent more than a day, usually just a few hours. This time we’ve been here a few weeks and find ourselves loving it. What’s different? I think mostly it was our willingness to explore the city more deeply, to look beyond the smoggy, crowded big city feel or the cheesy touristy vibe near the cruise ship docks. Here are some of the reasons (razones) why.
Nuestro Barrio (Our Neighborhood)
We are staying well outside of the main city in the Chapultepec district. It has a very rural feeling with small tiendas (shops) and businesses that supply everything we need at very affordable prices.
!El Océano! (Theocean!)
What more can I say? This is what we see, less than 40 feet from our RV door. We are loving the sounds of waves crashing and seeing schools of dolphins swimming by.
Paradas Continuas (Continuous Stops)
These little mini busses are great! For 13 pesos (around 50 cents) they take you all around Ensenada and the surrounding areas. We’ve had lots of fun riding them up and down the hilly, small communities that surround the Big city. Soon we plan to take one into city central where we can visit the museums.
La Marcoplaza(Grand Plaza)
Just a short bus ride away is this really cool spot with all the conveniences of any modern mall. There always seems to be some sort of entertainment happening. There’s a Walmart, Home Depot and a really beautiful movie theater. We actually spent our first night in the parking lot here and were undisturbed. Now it’s a fun little day trip for us.
Persona Amable (Kind People)
Not just Ensenada but everywhere we have traveled we have been so blessed to meet kind and helpful people. It really does make a difference. We feel safe and welcomed here in Ensenada and look forward to exploring more of the area. If you have any experience here we’d love to hear your suggestions.
Gichigami is the Anishinaabe name for the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has been given the name Lake Superior by the United States and Canada. The Anishinaabe are the First Nations Peoples who are from the areas surrounding this great lake. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa or Chippewa. I vaguely remember hearing Longfellow’s 1855 poem about this lake and more clearly remember a racist I Love Lucy sketch. It saddens me that I didn’t know, until 62 years of age, that this is a real place and with real people.
We have had a lovely 2 weeks driving and staying along this amazing lake. Our Gichigami drive started in Minnesota, continued in Ontario, Canada and concluded in Michigan. We’ve only driven about 2/3s of the lake!
We stayed at wonderful campgrounds with winding trails that led to the lake.
Along the way we got to learn a little Anishinaabe history. They were integral to the vibrant fur trading industry of the 1800s.
In Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Canada there is a beautiful trail called Bimose Kinoomagewnan (Walk of Teachings) trail. Along it you can read and learn of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from Anishinaabe elders and enjoy art work, representing the teachings, from the younger generation. The teachings are love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth,humility and bravery.
In Sault Saint Marie, Michigan we saw the locks which enable ships to travel from Gichigami to the lower great lakes.
We are now on Anishinaabe land, staying at the Kewadin RV Park and Casino. It’s a beautiful and restful place. We are looking forward to attending a pow wow on Saturday. I’m really humbled by how little I know about this area and First Nations Peoples. I’m really grateful for any opportunity to learn even a little bit more!
There are many different types of recreational vehicles and probably almost as many articles written about them. It took me awhile to learn the difference between a class C motor home (like the Minnie Winnie we have) and a behemoth class A (like the one in the hilarious movie RV) and then there are all the trailers.
There are 3 basic types of motor homes and they come in all sizes. Class As are the ones that resemble buses. They are built on a chassis and have large front and rear windows. They often have slide outs and can be quite large and luxurious.
Class Bs are also called campervans. They are easy to park and drive and are great for weekend trips. Not so good for full-time RVers like us.
Our Minnie Winnie is an older class C. The way I can identify class Cs are by their cab over design. They come in many sizes, with and without slide outs.
Then there are all types of pull behind trailers like cute little teardrops.
In Minnesota we have seen several of these ice fishing trailers. They drive them right onto the ice in the winter!
There are pull behinds that pop up into tents and pull behinds that are long and luxurious inside. I really love the retro ones!
Fifth wheel trailers are another option. Instead of being towed the coupling is actually in the bed of the truck.
I had fun taking most of these pictures here at at Lake Bemidji State Park. Kathy and I are always exclaiming over fancy new ones and really cute older ones. You can get lots of information on line or by visiting an RV dealership. We are really happy to answer answer any questions you may have.
Kathy and I have been traveling for eight months now. We’ve been extremely blessed with drama free experiences, good travel health and very few problems. We’ve learned a lot about what works for us, what we love and what we prefer to avoid.
Economy Class Train Travel
While traveling through Indonesia we missed a connection to the “first class” train we had reservations for. An economy class train was leaving the station soon. Rather than wait a whole day for the next first class train we decided to hop on this really low priced train. I remember thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad. Economy trains make more stops so the anticipated 4 hour ride turned into 8. The seats were uncushioned, hard benches. We had to sit 3 across where even 2 people would have been uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning. I was pretty miserable for most of the trip. The upside was we were sitting with very kind and helpful local people. Locals travel this way all the time, it is not for me for long trips. The experience helped me see how privileged we are and also what I’m willing to pay more for. This Uh Oh! was a great learning experience.
Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
When we first got off the boat, landing in Singapore, we moved pretty quickly. We spent a day and a night in Singapore, 4 days in Kualu Lumpur and 5 days in Georgetown. Neither of us were crazy about Georgetown. We had yet to learn the value of slower travel, longer stays. I’m really glad we made a decision to visit Georgetown again. Exploring this lovely island town a second time, for a whole month was a wonderful experience. Now Georgetown is one of our favorite places, it’s even on our short list for a permanent retirement home.
Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We visited the Tiger Kingdom on our first visit to Chiang Mai on a whim. We did no research. We just hopped into the cab of a friendly driver for what I thought would be a pleasant adventure. Had we done more investigation we would have easily seen that there is a lot of controversy about this place. Mistreated, drugged tigers are kept in small cages. Tourists (including Kathy and I) lie on, pet and take lots of pictures with these beautiful animals. I wanted to believe what the keepers say: that the cats are not drugged, that they grew up with people and are thus friendly. But I left with the nagging feelings that those things are not true. I have decided to never again visit attractions involving animals without first making sure the animals are being treated humanely.
Home free, serendipitous travel has great opportunities to find out more about oneself. I’ve learned that I like a certain level of comfort and am willing to pay for it; that staying long enough to get to know a place is best and that thorough research is a valuable tool in deciding where to visit.
What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains? Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!
Travel is scary. It can be expensive. Simply planning a trip can be daunting. It can be uncomfortable once you set out and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. But for Marci and I that is the point. We want to be in spaces that challenge and stretch us. Not because we are saints or masochists but because we have been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative comfort most of our lives. When we travel we often comment on how uncomfortable we are. But the truth becomes obvious once you set out to places different from our home. Most of the world lives in situations that are uncomfortable for sixty year old women. They may carry their water from a well, for example. I hate doing that. They plant and harvest their own food. I hate that too. They may go to the bathroom outside of their homes. I really hate that.
But for us it is not the hate we remember. Even now writing this I can’t remember all the things I hate about visiting villages and doing what the women there do. But the love is carried with us. We love visiting women in their homes. We love accompanying them to their work spaces. We love helping to prepare a meal. We are dismal at it all. And most of it is smelly and hard. But it is in these spaces where we find our truest love.
Our love of women of color. Women of means when it looks as if they have no means. Women of resource who look as if they are in poverty. These snaggle-toothed, smiling women who laugh at our feeble attempts to do one fifth of the work they accomplish daily are our truest and deepest loves. It is to them that we travel. For with them we too have an unseen value. A value that is not calculated in how well we cook or how many buckets of water we carry. Our value is multiplied by their patience with our well-intentioned ineptitude as verified by their simple words of “Welcome”. Whether it be in Tagalog – maligayang pagdating or Swahili -karibu or Wolof – dalal ak diam. Or a myriad of other ways, we are better for the experience.
We make no allusions as to our benefit to them. We recognize that when we arrive (most of the time unannounced because of how difficult it can be to communicate with small villages in developing nations) we are an extra expense at best and a downright hardship most of the time. Yet they smile, nod and share their food and homes with us. So although we may hate sleeping on dusty mattresses, we recognize we have the best beds around because someone else is sleeping on the floor. When we complain about having to go to the bathroom outside, we recognize that before the toilet was dug these people went outside for real. It is there where we smile and realize in a very tangible way how blessed we are to have this life and to have the opportunity to travel.
Welcome to BOLT. Our wish for you is that you will travel in spite of the difficulty. Maybe this site will inspire you. Thank you for reading.