Saturday, December 28, 2019


Mexico City International Airport is big.  Very big.  We followed our fellow passengers down one hallway then another, eventually ending up in the bowels of the complex.  After taking the passage labeled "Foreigners" we faced the scrutiny of the immigration officer, handing over our passports and visa applications.  Boom! Stamped - Good for 90 days!

Then off to the baggage carousel and a short wait for our one big checked bag. Finding the exit from baggage we escalated to the main level and found ourselves in the main concourse of terminal one.  There we bought some pesos and started walking, walking, walking, watching for the symbol for a bus, occasionally asking someone, "Autobus?"  About 2/3rds of the way down the monster concourse we saw a right hand turn with the bus symbol, went up and over and found an area with six different bus kiosks.  Our friend Jimi had told us to find the ADO bus ticket counter and there it was!  Jimi is one of Connie's old Obrador friends and after living in Mexico off and on for thirty years, he's been a wealth of information.

You can't buy Havana Club in the U.S.
After buying the tickets we got directions to go back out into the terminal and find door #4. Sure enough, there were exit doors labeled with numbers 1 through 10.  After another long hike we found door #4 and outside of that an overhead walkway that arched over the taxi drop off zone and towards the Camino Royal Hotel.  We followed the little sign that said ADO/OCC and amazingly found ourselves at the bus waiting room with an hour to spare to catch our 14:30 bus to Tepoztlán. Then we watched a spider man movie in Spanish.


Note: The bus from Mexico City Airport to Tepoztlán runs four times daily:
07:00, 09:15, 14:15, and 17:00 and costs 200 Pesos.

200 Pesos = about $11 dollars         50 Pesos = about $2.60 dollars


Approaching the bus, the driver motioned for me to put the accordion bag under the bus with the baggage.  "No, Senior, fragile accordion."  He motioned that it was too fat to fit in the overhead. Against his objections I boarded with the bag and sure enough, it did not fit in the overhead.  Connie took her seat and shoved it in between her legs. The bus took more than an hour to get out of the city with stop and go traffic and rough roads.  The second hour we traveled up and over the mountains and down into the valley to the outskirts of Tepoztlán where we disembarked, found our big bag under the bus, and did a high five to celebrate our successful arrival.

The taxi driver replied "50 Pesos" when we asked about a ride to our hotel.  I said, "No.... forty pesos." and he nodded his head "OK,"  Jimi had said the ride was 40 pesos.  I was glad to have remembered.  Arriving a few minutes later at our lodgings at Meson Amanda, I gave him a 50, he gave me a 10 in change. I reached into my pocket for a tip, finding none, I gave him back the 10 peso coin and we both laughed.  You can see above, just how inexpensive a 50 peso ride is.

Connie rang the ball, and we met Ernesto who showed us to our room, through a courtyard and up a spiral staircase to the second floor.  Jimi popped his head in to greet us and all was well.  Welcome to Magico Tepoztlán!

From Wikipedia.....Tepoztlán was named a "Pueblo Mágico" in 2002 but its title was removed in 2009 for failure to maintain the requirements. (They didn't keep the town clean enough)  In 2010 Tepoztlán addressed these problems (painted the curbs and put trash cans on the sidewalks) and recovered the Pueblo Mágico title. This title is granted by the Ministry of Tourism of Mexico, recognizing those who inhabit these cities and the work they develop daily to protect and save the cultural wealth.

 Meson Amanda is on one, one block from the main avenue 5th de Mayo. Walk down 5th de Mayo about 3 blocks and you come to Revolucion de 1910 and the huge local market.  Jimi walked us to a booth, Ruth's Puesto, to introduce us to their huge vegetarian taco/quesadilla at 55 pesos.  Going to bed early ( exhausted ) we lay on the hard bed listening to the dogs barking and the taxis tooting their horns.
Our Little Room

 Over the next few days, Jimi showed us around town.  He's been in and out of Tepoztlán for almost 30 years so he knows all the good and cheap places.  We're lucky to have his guidance.  There is a restaurant adjacent to the market called Naty's that Jimi frequents of often that they have a special priced plate just for him and his friends:  Plato Jimi - 55 pesos plus a 15 peso tip.  Fried nopales cactus, rice with a fried egg on top, refried beans, chips, and fresh corn tortillas.

Tepoztlán's main source of income is from tourism and most of the guests to the town come in from nearby Mexico City on the weekends.  During the week, the town is a little bit sleepy but the main center with the market always has some action.  On the weekend, streets are shut down, booths go up and the invasion begins.  By noon the streets are full of people strolling along with big Micheladas in hand.  ( Beer, lime, spices, and tomato juice)
View to the north from our room

Our little place is upstairs of a courtyard.  It's a simple small room with an adjoining bathroom.  The water pressure is somewhere between a dribble and a drop and there is a slight odor of sewer that we solve by putting a rug over the shower drain.  The occasional roach or scorpion visits the bathroom.

The walls on the property are painted bright blue, aquamarine, and adobe.  Plants everywhere in abundance.  We climb a slender spiral staircase to our upper level porch that we share with our friend Jimi who lives next door.  Down in the courtyard is a sitting area and an outdoor covered kitchen area.  When we first arrived there was nothing in the kitchen except a refrigerator. No sink or stove.  Ernesto (the proprietor) told us the kitchen would be ready tomorrow.   Actually, he used the word,manána. True to Mexico form, we had a working kitchen a week later.

Sometimes the water stops and you have to go find the pump switch and turn it on for a while until the rooftop cistern fills.  After a few nights of bad sleep, I asked Ernesto if we could have a little foam topper for the hard bed.  We got that installed in a shorter manana than before.  Thank you sir!  Meson Amanda is a nice little place, right in town, a little loud at times but very convenient.

We go on walks through the town every day and do all our shopping and eating at the local market where the prices are wonderfully cheap.  A nice breakfast out might be 100 pesos.  A plate of tacos will be 50 pesos.  Vegetables cost next to nothing and we've found cheap wine at 60 pesos a bottle.  Booking a room at Meson Amanda on Airbnb for just a night or two is about $30 USD/night.  But you always get a super discount booking by the month.  We're paying about $11 USD/night.
Fresh tortillas - Always

The main road through town climbs up to the face of the mountain, getting narrower and narrower until it becomes a cobbled footpath. All the roads in town are cobblestone.  Flanked on each side are booths selling trinkets, tacos, bottled water, and micheladas.

The trail to the top that kicked my butt

In two miles the elevation gain is 1200 feet.  The path starts with endless stone stairs then becomes more difficult and steep.  Near the top you climb a steel tower through a steep ravine then pop out on top where you pay 45 pesos to access the archaeological site. Tepoztlan is at 5180 feet so the hike will really have you puffing.  I took frequent rests to catch my breath and felt really out of shape.

On top we were inundated by a group of school kids who clambered up the Aztec pyramid, El Tepozteco, yelling and cutting up... and posing.  It is interesting that tourists are not only allowed to scramble up the 500 year old temple but can sit up top, spill their colas, and take selfies.

The pyramid was built in 1502 A.D to honor Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec god of the alcoholic beverage pulque.  And yes, you can buy pulque in town. It's a white, sour tasting liquid made from the sap of the agave plant.

From the studies of Daniel Ruzo, " Many people perceive a strange energy or magnetism in Tepoztlán and its “Sacred Valley” is one of the places in the world with the highest frequency of UFO sightings and other unexplained phenomena."  Because of this energy, the Tepoztlán valley is home to many spiritual people and and has spas and retreats for meditation and body work.

Jimi took us up towards Santo Domingo Ocotitlan for a circle meditation on a beautiful tract of land right up next to the mountains.  His job was to tune the large bowls that when played together produces a resonant vibration.  A circle had been created under the shade of a large tree and decorated with flowers, candles, offerings, and incense.  People arranged their blankets and mats outside that circle and sat or lay in meditative poses.  Six crystal bowls were set out and Jimi poured the the right amount of water into each to produce a wonderful sound when the rim was rubbed with a wooden and rubber mallet.   Once all six bowls got going they produced a wonderful sound.  A shaman led everyone in a Chakra color meditation and it was a joyful occasion.

Jamie Dean Hudson

Back in town, we went to a musical celebration where the local artists gathered to celebrate the solstice.  Good music (we danced!) and rum spiked punch and shots of Mezcal.  On Saturday we went to Jimi's Jam at the market to hear his jazz combo and another afternoon we heard our friend Jamie play at Cafe Libelula.  So nice to be in a place with live music.  The other afternoon we heard a brass band blaring up the street.  Connie and I ran outside to follow the sound.  We located the marching band and followed them up the hill until they turned into a gated yard.  It was a 15 year old's coming of age party, complete with brass band, fireworks, decorations, and barbecue.

Nopales are everywhere and quite tasty

The weekend ahead of Christmas saw huge crowds here in Tepoztlán and this Christmas week has been pretty crazy.  The Catholic church is very active... two blocks away.  They have three loud bells that ring throughout the day and night along with a loudspeaker that plays holiday songs.  Last night, Christmas eve, the bombs (loud fireworks) went all night long.  Today, I'm sleep deprived and am looking forward to a nap later.  It seems like the bombs are going off less frequently right now.  Maybe 1:00 pm is siesta time?

We are in Tepoztlán from December 15 until January 14.  Then we'll make our way to Barra de Navidad and get on a sailboat for a week.  Following that, we've found three little towns to visit in central Mexico before we get on a plane in Guadalajara bound for San Antonio. As events transpire, this blog will continue. 
View of Tepoztlan from El Tepozteco.  Note the ever present haze, spilled over from Mexico City.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mess with Texas


Swooping down into El Paso from southern New Mexico, we were thinking about Beto O'Rourke and his work, energizing Texas minorities, standing up for migrants rights and pushing for gun control.
Testing the charge from solar panels at Harbor Freight

 At Harbor Freight the Hispanic clerk beamed when I said we came to El Paso to see Beto. We were there to swap out a failed solar panel controller, which they did, no questions asked.  Then we were off to refuel the cooler, finding both a Whole Foods and a Sprouts nearby.  Coronado high school students packed the Whole Foods at the noon hour for pizza slices and Kombucha.  After testing the solar controller in the parking lot, we headed east on I-10 towards Fort Davis and the state park there.  At 5000 feet elevation,we were in for a chilly night..
Davis Mountain State Park

Note on Texas state parks:   Many, but not all, Texas state parks charge a $6/person/day entry fee plus a separate charge for camping.  Buying a $70 Texas state park entry pass gets you into the park and gives you a half price discount on your second camping night stayed.  We bought the pass as it will pay for itself in about 5 camping days for the two of us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Trouble on the Border

Our view from our free BLM campsite in Ajo Arizona
Bumping down the Ajo highway 86 through the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation and met up with Tina and Shane at their house on the outskirts of town.  They directed us to an area in the Bureau of Land Management land a stone's throw from their house and we set up camp.  I gathered some wood and made a fire and we sat outside watching the moon rise.  How nice to be free camping in the desert on a warm(ish) winter night.

It was in Ajo where we gathered more information on the migrant situation on our southern border.  We'd heard about the Trump wall being built and saw protest signs all over Ajo saying "No Wall."  Our friends have been crossing the border and helping out at the camps in Mexico and there are a lot of volunteers who come to the Ajo area to help the unfortunate asylum seekers who are mistreated by the coyotes who take their money to smuggle them across the border then abandon them in the hot desert where they try to hide from the US border patrols.

Building in Ajo where volunteers gather to load water and plan forays into the desert.

Many of them die in the effort.  Groups in these border communities like Ajo send out volunteers to find the bodies.  They leave water in the desert to try to help the migrants. The story is that the border patrols empty those water containers when they find them.  Looking at the harsh land, I know we could not possibly make those long secretive treks and survive.  I feel shame about what our government is doing at the border.
Plaza in Ajo Arizona

After free camping at Ajo, our battery on the camper was pretty much depleted so it was clear we had to come up with a better way to charge the battery.  The unit came with a single solar panel but evidently that was not going to cut it for our power needs  We drove back to Tucson and got some advice from the Intestate battery guy, then headed off in search of some BIG solar panels and a 12 volt plug in charger.  That night we landed back at at Kartchner Caverns and stayed at the park there so we could plug in our new heavy duty charger to restore the battery.

Former church, now museum.

Then we plugged in the camper power so we'd have some heat for when the temperature dropped below freezing overnight.  We were seeing the temperatures swing 40 degrees between night and day.  While the heat source on the camper is propane, the fan that pushes that heat into the rig draws a fair amount of electricity.  Being a 1980's model camper, I'm betting it is not very efficient.

Our distributed camping site on Cave Creek

Batteries topped off, we headed off to the Arizona-New Mexico border through the small town of Portal where we found "distributed" camping next to a small stream up in Cave Creek Canyon.  Again we found a fire pit, and again we had a wonderful night poking the fire and sipping red wine. We spent two night there and loved it.  Evidently this forest is a favorite of birds and the birders who follow them.   A lovely place, and one we'll revisit on our journey home.

Chiricahua Mountains

In New Mexico we found highway 9 that runs just north of the Mexico border.  All along this parched corridor we saw roaming border patrols.  Some of the units had portable listening devices and they'd park overlooking the vast desert trying to spot migrants coming across.  After traveling hours down the road we pulled over to pee and right away, a helicopter arrived and circled.  I stood and stared. They circled.  Finally I just said "the hell with this" and proceeded with my "business".  Connie did the same, then they flew off to the west.

Later that day we saw a section of wall being built and it looked pretty silly.  Here we had vast tracts of border with a little quarter mile section being built.  From the sheer distances involved, there is no way that wall will ever be built from California to Texas.  I sure don't want my tax dollars wasted on the effort.  As it is, the border patrol has their electronic surveillance methods that are doing the job quite well.  Down the road we saw a blimp floating high in the sky.  Later we were told that the blimp's job was to locate low flying drug smuggling aircraft. What a crazy place!

We found the Pancho Villa State Park right at the crossing at Columbus New Mexico where I rushed off to fill the propane tank so we would not freeze that night.   A strange history there.  Pancho Villa raided the town and US army encampment in Columbus in 1916 and the US Army retaliated, chasing the famous Mexican hero deep into Mexico... and never catching him.

Our new solar panels were cranking out the energy but the $20 controller failed so we headed east towards El Paso to find a Harbor Freight to exchange the unit.  It's been almost thirty years since I was last in Texas.  With trepidation, we crossed the border into the lone star state.

Monday, December 9, 2019

It's Tucson Time

A warm welcome to Tucson, so nice to be welcomed by friends.  A good meal, a bottle of wine, and a soft bed.  We settled in at Richelle and Leo's and started planning our next moves.  Connie got to practice her music while I jumped online to research places to stay on airbnb,, and state and federal parks.

We started to knit together a journey by land that would take us all the way to San Antonio.  Leo made us a giant frittata each morning, we'd do some hiking in the desert in the afternoon, then have a fantastic dinner at home. I started learning the different cactus species and began to appreciate the variety of the desert landscape.  We saw a squadron of javelinas (peccary) one evening on our way back from the hot tub, then the next day saw a wild bobcat at the Sweetwater Wetlands. Richelle had a few bird feeders on the back porch for the doves, humming birds, wrens, quail, and finches.

Leo, Richelle, and Scott at the Wildlife Rescue Center
Fish Hook Cactus

On a two night road trip to Bisbee we toured the Queen Mine and walked the scenic old town, stopping one evening at the Copper Queen Hotel where we found an ad hoc group of local musicians rocking the bar.  Connie helped out on vocals on Sloop John B, I think.   It rained like crazy and our little airbnb house sprung a leak in Leo's bedroom.

We spelunked the Kartchner Caverns and walked the muddy paths at the Whitewater Wash birding area. In the desert, where the road and paths are dirt, a hard rain turns those byways into an impassable morass until the sun dries them out. We came back from the Wash with big pancakes of mud on our boots and the vehicle covered in grey mud.  Taking the long way back through the historic community of Tubac, we completed our circuit back to Tucson.
Touring the Queen Mine

I jumped on Craigslist and started combing through the ads for pop up tent trailers, learning as I went just what features we might need and the specifications of the various models. I found that an older, small trailer would match up with the weight and horsepower of our little Ford Ranger.  However, the older models often did not have a working refrigerator or heater.  We narrowed the search down to three ads that looked good then made the 100 mile trek to Phoenix to go see them. I'm sorry to say that many people who are selling on craigslist are just plain lame.  Does the refrigerator work?  I think so.. not sure... haven't used it in five years.  We drove up here to see your rig.  When can we come by?  Oh, you are busy.  That's too bad.  Do you know how to light the stove? No?  Is it in good shape?  Yes... then how about this tear in the canvas.. and why doesn't the sink pump work?

In Phoenix, we found one person who actually put effort into selling his little rig.  He met us when he said he would, showed us everything right and wrong with the thing, then he fixed what was not working.  We bartered a bit, I asked for the 10% senior discount, we made the deal, and drove off with our new/used pop up tent trailer. $2250, can't beat that! The camper is a 2000 Coleman Fleetwood Tacoma and weighs 1918 pounds empty.  Because it had been sitting for a while, the deep cycle battery would not hold a charge but other than that, everything was in working order.  While the bumper hitch on the Ranger would handle the load, a safer, long term, option was to get a frame mounted hitch which we did along with a new battery.  Next on Connie's agenda was to do a deep clean, taking things apart and scrubbing every square inch of the rig.  Now we were ready to roll.  For Thanksgiving we had a fantastic turkey mole as a sendoff from Leo and Richelle, then we spent the next day packing.

Our stay in Tucson was everything we wanted and needed.  The plan came together there as we had plenty of time to do our research, plenty of time for Connie to do her music, and plenty of time to just enjoy our friends' company and the refreshing climate of southern Arizona in the winter.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Escape from Oly Town

Scheme gets hatched in moment of clarity

250 posts ago we started this blog to document our sailing adventures. Click on the picture title below to go to our first post in March of 2010.  We're still sailing, but mostly in the summer running charters.  Our travel adventures now seem to be mostly land based. We've finally got some free time to do some writing, so the focus of the Traveler at Sea blog will be more like Travelers on Land.  My apologizes to our sailing friends who care naught for the land, but that's the direction we are taking for now......

Our paths in life seem to lurch in one direction for a while then they barrel off in another direction until we come to yet another crossroad.  We make a choice, trying to do so carefully, but in the end we go with whatever feels right at the time.  Connie and I threw caution to the wind seven years ago, sold everything, quit our jobs and sailed south to Mexico.  In 2016 we changed course and pointed the bow to the west, sailing across the Pacific to Hawaii, then turning north towards Alaska and eventually south into the Salish Sea and our new home port, Olympia Washington.

We thought.... after many years living and traveling on the boat, it is now a time to get more serious in life.  Time to put down a few roots, put some irons in the fire, make a few commitments.  And also.. get some money coming in.  Thus came the Mystic Journeys sailboat charter business and eventually the little house at 1910 Giles.  After a few years of hard work we're mostly caught up with that long task list we dreamed up shortly after hitting the dock at Swantown Marina.  It took us a year to remodel the back of the house into a little mother-in-law space.  We rented out the main house and moved into the little "casita".  And now, after staying put in Olympia for three winters, we've had enough of the cold and drizzle and started making plans for a winter escape. Where is it warm? Where does the sun shine?

It's a funny thing, making plans.  You make a plan, list the steps, start with step one, then eventually you find yourself at the end of the list and Voila! you are at your goal.  Things really started to come together as we communicated to our friends our plans to travel south.  Our friends Richelle and Leo, who are traveling the world trying to decide where to retire, offered us a bed in Tucson for a month in an AirBnB they were renting in November.  Friends in Ajo Arizona said, "Come on by."  Connie's old friend and Obrador drummer, Jimi Doney said, "Come down to Tepoztlan Mexico.  I'll find you a cheap place to live for a while."   Connie's sister said, "I've got an old friend in Patzcuaro Mexico who will probably put you up."  Our Mexico boating friends, Virginia and Robert, stopped by in Olympia for lunch and invited us to come visit them in Barra de Navidad in January.  The clouds opened up and travel opportunities fell from the sky! 

Connie, Tesla, and Ezrah

To connect these far flung opportunities we needed to figure out how to get from point A to point B without spending a fortune on hotel rooms.  I fondly remembered our old Toyota Dolphin, that old beat up jalopy mini-RV.  How nice it was to be able to just pull up somewhere, cook up some dinner and fall asleep... on the side of the road, at a campground, in the Walmart parking lot, or in a friend's driveway.  How can we replicate the Dolphin without, you know, buying another old beat up Dolphin?  Full blown RV... to expensive, Sprinter Van... same. Maybe a pop-up camper trailer.

Craiglist Seattle had four or five for sale.  Craig'slist Phoenix had twenty five.  Clearly the south, the sunny, the hot places, have a surplus of RVs. And the prices... what was selling in Seattle for 4k was selling in Phoenix for 2.5k, or that's how it seemed to me.  OK, here's a plan.  We bolt south through cold Washington and Oregon and Nevada and pop out into sunny Arizona where cute little pop-up trailers fall like fruit from the trees.  We set a departure date.  
The Three Sisters, Oregon Cascade Range
It is 1502 miles from Olympia Washington to Tucson Arizona.  We cannot stand more than about 6 hours a day driving so we did the math and came up with about 375 miles per day to get us into Tucson in four days.

Dick and Mary Jane Tobiason
Who do we know about six hours south of Olympia?  Our good friend Scott Tobiason's parents live in Bend Oregon, about 5 hours away.  Can we stay there?  "Sure," says Dick and Mary Jane.  And so our first leg of the journey was determined and south we drove on November 9. After a couple of years staying put, the feeling of escape as we headed down the road was wonderful.  Down the coast and over the Cascades we found Bend Oregon and the peaceful home of the Tobiasons.  A nice, no stress, evening and a soft bed prepared us for the long slog south through the wastelands of Nevada.  

Flat, flat, flat.  Highway 20 to 70 to 95, two lane roads mostly devoid of traffic. Our past trips south were down the endless I-5 corridor through Oregon and California.  There is something about driving the freeway that is taxing on both driver and passenger.  All these cars and trucks are zooming by at breakneck speed and your attention is always focused on avoiding all this metal flying down the road.  On secondary roads I can just enjoy the scenery.  In the high desert country of Oregon the roads go off into the distance in a straight line as far as the eye can see. 

It's hard to figure how folks make a living in the hardscrabble outback of the high desert.  100 acres per cow with feed being brought in half of the year seems like a difficult way to make a living.   Hour after hour we hummed down the road, occasionally seeing a cow lying in the shade of a creosote bush. Looking for a break and maybe a cold drink we passed through a small oasis town and pulled up to the one little store.  Big sign on the front of the building said "Trump 2020."  Well that just took the joy out of our thirst.  We drove on and found a little rest area down the road to take a break.  I wondered if the proprietor realized that he/she was driving off snowbird customers with that silly blue and white sign.  Hmmm.   Why aren't more folks stopping in for a cold soda?  It's 50 miles between stops here in southeastern Oregon.  Must be some kind of conspiracy.

Soon we are in Nevada and by nightfall we pulled into Battle Mountain and the famous Big Chief Motel, by all means, the best hotel in town.  Most folks stay 50 miles north in Winnemucca when trying to transit the vast emptiness of Nevada.  With 30 hotels, Winnemucca is clearly the main stop on the line but we pushed on to the much smaller Battle Mountain to experience a little bit more of rural Nevada America.  After checking into the "best hotel in town" we walked to the "best restaurant in town", El Aguila Real (The Royal Eagle).  Very large Caucasian ranchers rubbed elbows with Mexican Americans consuming large plates of meat, cheese, and beans.  Walking home through a small town of empty storefronts and bare lots, it seemed like Battle Mountain had see better days.
Chile Relleno and Chicken Mole

After stealing ice from the Big Chief to refresh our cooler we rocketed south through the endless flats and headed up into the scenic mining town of Austin Nevada at 6600 ft. We climbed up Route 50 to the Austin Summit at 7490 ft to descend into more flat shrub land flanked out in the distance to either side by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. 
Climbing above the endless flat lands

We fueled up in the scenic and parched mining town of Tonopah, home of the famous Clown Motel then continued south in warming temperatures down the west side of the massive area 51.  The northern route around this area is dubbed the extraterrestrial highway. We saw very few aliens.

At nightfall the road had widened from two lanes to four to six to eight.  Our cell phones started working and we found our exit and eventually found our Airbnb in a gated community of row houses. We used the self check in where you use a code to open a box that holds the key to the house.  We knocked on the door then let our selves in, thinking we were going to be staying in the guest bedroom of a home with a mother and young child.  Inside the house it became apparent that no one was calling this place home.  The walls were mostly bare. The only furniture was one couch sitting in the middle of the room.  No kitchen or dining room table.  The two bedrooms had nothing in them but a bed and a chest of drawers. No side tables, no pictures, no curtains. Sterile. Cold.  Switching on the overhead light in the kitchen, we startled a myriad of roaches happily cruising for crumbs.  

Los Vegas - Not really our kind of place.
I pulled up the Airbnb description again and saw how the words made it sound like it was a family place but never actually said the mother and child were living there.  We'd been scammed.  I texted the host, Karolyna, and asked about the roaches and the deserted house and her reply was something along the line of "If you are not happy with the room, then you can leave and I'll refund your money."  By this time we were exhausted and the last thing we wanted to do was go out into the night looking for another room.  So we tiptoed around the roaches, stashed our food in the refrigerator, climbed into bed, and waited until dawn.  

Area 51 Alien Center
After a few days driving in the vastness of the high desert, the cacophony or Los Vegas was a shock to the system.  We battled our way through the freeway system stopping for breakfast in Boulder City and fueling up for the 77 mile run down to Kingman Arizona. We'd made our escape from the north and found ourselves sleep deprived but happily in short sleeves and we entered the land of the sun.