A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wildlife

Moving West and first camping experiences

sunny 30 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

As we were having technical issues to access the internet for the first couple of days, we simply used a good old map (thanks Janis!) and still got along fine. Even though the scale is not enormous, it shows enough for us to find the interesting places. And as not all campgrounds are shown in the map, but all state and national parks are, this is where we went. Already our very first experience in Sangchris Lake State Park had been excellent. And while at Meramac Caves we accidentally ended up in a private campground vs. the State Park a couple of miles further on, we also liked that location in a small valley directly next to a river very much.
So no wonder that Sam picked another State Park for our first night in Oklahoma. The Map read ‘Honey C. S.P.’ next to Grove, OK and that’s where we wanted to go. As we had left fairly late from our previous campsite, it was already quite late, everyone was hungry (and who knows me, knows that I’m then usually not in my best mood). So after a couple of unsuccessful tries in locating the state park, we eventually decided to go back to one of the two RV parks we had seen along the way.
Eagles’ Landing RV Park was located next to a large lake and seemed very nice at first sight. Unfortunately, the nice location had a hefty price tag of 45$ (vs. 20$ which we’d most likely have paid at the state park). In addition, the pool turned out to be a pool table only and the playground was located far away from the water in the section of the 40’ RVs. What turned out to be strangest of all were the bathrooms though: They featured a sign ‘bathrooms open now – new and remodeled’ and in fact they tiles used were quite classy. But as it seems in the refurbishment it was forgotten put in bathroom doors – very strange!
The extremely windy and cloudy weather did not help either to make up for the other topics, so despite the nice location more than 300’ away from all other campers directly at the water we were happy to leave the next morning.
Sam got to drive the part when it was pouring rain to Tulsa and I got the sunshiny bit to Oklahoma City. That’s where we took a lunch break at a park with a huge playground. Max loved it – especially the climbing wall and the slides. He easily made friends with a younger boy and it would have been very hard to eventually get him to leave if he wouldn’t have been stung by a bee into the foot. Some cooling and five gummi-bears later he was happy again. But he was afraid his foot would hurt too much and therefore did not want to go back to the playground.
So we headed off to our next destination, the Red Rock Canyon State Park a bit west of Oklahoma City. It had sounded nice on the map and in fact it turned out to be very nice. The canyon was maybe a mile long, the weather was bright sunny, there were hardly any other campers and we found a spot directly nest to a playground. Perfect!

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So after four days of driving it was time to make a break and stay for longer than just one night.
We enjoyed a full day taking it easy and exploring the canyon. And in the evening we finally cracked the internet issues and stayed up late to upload another blog entry. The pictures were not ready yet, but never mind, at least one entry was live again…
Our next destination was Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Even though most people never heard of that canyon, it is in fact the second largest canyon in the US after Grand Canyon. We had heard about it once before in a picture documentary of the Rotenburg songwriter Shiregreen at the Hünfeld Stadtcafe. So we knew that we definitively wanted to go there. And it was definitively worth the detour from Amarillo.
The first night we already realized that all around our campsites were holes in the earth – the home of some hamster like creatures (we’re not really sure what animal it was). On the next morning we were welcomed by a group of turkeys – one male with four hens following him.

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From our campsite we took a great outing along the river ‘Paseo der Rio’ and then went part of the way to the Palo Duro landmark rock formation ‘Lighthouse’. Max was doing the full way with his little bike. Soon after starting the Lighthouse trail, he attempted a detour and fell into a cactus – but after removing all of the spikes, was ready to start over right away. It was a very fun outing with great sights along the way – the red colors of the rock contrasted really nicely with the blue sky.

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The next morning, we were greeted at our campsite by some deer. Not shy at all, they were grazing directly next to the tents and RVs. Really nice!

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We then headed off towards New Mexico and were amazed by the wealth of information that we were given at the welcome information center directly at the border. Based on that information we defined our plan for today and the next days. We wanted to head into Santa Fe and then head north west from there.
So that’s what we did: after a long day of driving with more than 320 miles, we arrived at our campground in the Santa Fe National Forest. We were lucky to still get a site, as it was already quite late on a Friday afternoon.
And contrary to Palo Duro, we were allowed to make a campfire. Max enjoyed sausages, we enjoyed some steak – excellent!
That evening we also met a couple of German travelers – easily recognizable by the German license plate on their van. They had started their journey in Buenos Aires in November, were going down to Patagonia and all the way up along the Panamericana. They will be travelling until July when they’ll head back to Germany. They gave us a couple of tips on where to go and we returned them the favor by telling about the places we stayed in lately. It’s always great to meet others who are sharing the same passion in regards to travelling.
Saturday morning, we headed into Santa Fe and were surprised by free parking due to the Community Day which took place at the central plaza. What an excellent coincidence. This was the perfect opportunity to see lots of locals and children in action, to see what the local clubs and community programs are like and to admire the fire engine No 1 and the Mustang police car.

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But independently from that special event, we had an excellent impression of Santa Fe. It looks like a really sympathetic place to be. The local style of architecture and the good food certainly help…

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 22:17 Archived in USA Tagged wildlife canyon camping texas newmexico oklahoma Comments (0)

Returning to our favourite spots – Loreto and Conception Bay

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 36 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

Los Barriles was clearly one of the highlights of our journey so far. Still it was fairly easy to head onwards from there, as we knew already where we wanted to go next: Loreto and then the Bahia Concepcion.
This also meant one long day of driving to get to Loreto, almost 300 miles / 500 km. Given that the drive was really nice, we did not mind too much. The first bit was through nice mountains and from La Paz on we knew the way already. And we already knew about the 10 km stretch of highway construction work going on this time. Eventually we stopped for lunch and had excellent burritos.

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Our next stop was in Ciudad Constitucion. This way we got to actually turn off the highway and thus to break the more than 50 miles / 80 km stretch of absolutely straight and boring road. The main plaza did not feature a playground as we had hoped. But at least we got icecream and Max was getting the ‘usual’ compliments about the colour of his eyes and his hair.
Towards Loreto the road became nicer again winding through the mountains with lots of cacti on both sides. And we were lucky to avoid the cows on the road, but probably the car which was trying to pass us exactly there was more shocked than we were.

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And then it felt like coming home to the Loreto Shores campground. We were clear that we’d stay for a minimum of two nights, which eventually became three.
We started off with one of those relaxing days where we did not move around a lot. Even the tamales we had for lunch were delivered directly to our place by a street vendor. And the pool was not far away, so we spent lots of time there. Rody (10) and Gaby (12) were still there and like last time they were diving, jumping into the water and making rolls underwater forward and backward. Max tried to copy them as well as he could - armed with flippers and his paddleboard.
While Max was playing baseball in the street with the local kids, Sam suddenly got all hectic over dinner. He quickly got his camera to take pictures of the whale he believed to have seen jumping in the bay. Zooming in onto the whale, he realized that in fact he had seen a small fishing boat turning over. The poor guy was quite far out and seemed to move towards the shore terribly slowly. So Sam asked Shelley and her family if he could take one of their kayaks to go out and make sure the fisherman is fine. And so he did. He then also realized why the fisherman was not moving forward very quickly: he had tied his upturned boat with a rope to himself and was trying to pull it out. So eventually Sam pulled out not only the guy, but also the boat in return for lots of ‘gracias’. And Shelley was greeting him back with a bottle of Gatorade in her hands to make sure all invested energy is replenished again. What a quote: two people rescued from the water within less than a week!

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The next day we went into town. As we knew already where to head, we had good lunch followed by the best icecream we had found on our trip so far.

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The remainder of the day was dedicated to Max’ swimming lessons in the pool. While the day before he was still quite dependent on his flippers to get around, today he realized that he can do it also without. He’s a quick learner and the amount of time we’ve spent in the water lately certainly helps as well!
We had managed a lot in a single morning: breakfast, a swim in the pool, getting the van ready to head off, shopping at the supermarket, a fisherman’s supply store, and an alterations place. So we had really earned our fried chicken for lunch at an enormous playground.
But eventually it was time to leave Loreto and to head towards Conception Bay. This time the military checkpoint north of Loreto did not just let us pass after a couple of questions. For a change they now wanted to search the car. A couple of minutes later (and some smiles upon noticing the DosEquis XX beer cans together with the rest of our shopping in the back of the car), we were allowed to head on.

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Initially we had planned to just go back to Playa Santispak, which we had been our first place to stay on the Baja California. But given that all of the four palapas there were full, we were quite happy to retrace our path for 3 miles south to Playa Cocos. The beach was at least as nice as in Santispak and we soon realized that it was cheaper at 100 pesos / night to stay there.

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What initially seemed to be a very quiet and calm night with just another family camping all the way down at the other end of the beach, soon took a different dimension with a Mexican family or rather group of friends taking the palapa hut right next to ours. It remains open why they chose to stay so close – after all there are about 20 palapas on that long beach with only 2 being taken. But fine…
We were treated to lots of Mexican music (loud) and eventually the group decided that they needed more space, so they moved into the palapa on the other side or ours as well. That meant a bit of traffic in front and the back of our hut.
They had lots of fun, spent most of their time in the warm water and every few minutes an empty beer can was thrown out of the water onto the beach next to us. Hmmmm… We took it as cultural immersion and had fun observing and commenting what was going on.
After playing a round of Rummikub in our palapa, eventually we took our chairs out to look at the starry night – observing the milky way and counting shooting stars. What a great night sky!
The only thing bothering us a bit was the large fire entertained by our neighbors next door. It took us a while to realize that every couple of minutes when their fire got lower, they just ripped off some of the palm leaves covering the side of their palapa and kept the fire going that way. Once we had realized what was going on and a bit of decision making on what to do, we headed over to them telling them that we did not think it was a good idea to take apart the hut just to keep a nice little fire. Admittedly they were very fast in giving an explanation: they told us that given that the palm leaves on the hut were already very old, they were replacing them with new ones and that in fact all palapas along the beach will be redone by them in the next couple of days. We thanked them for that explanation and even though we were uncertain if to believe them, there was nothing we could do. And anyhow to our surprise, after we had told them off they did not rip off again a single leaf and let the fire die.
We watched a bit more for shooting stars and by the time we went to bed at 11:30pm, the group was still in the water drinking beer and the music was still going full blast.
The next morning the beach next to us was quite a sight - so many beer cans were lying on the beach… Around noon, the owner of the place came along and stopped at our cabin. I was already heading off to get the money to stay for another night, but actually he just asked if the people next door had been there already last night and if we knew if they had been destroying the wall of the palapa. So we told him our story and he went off with a very frustrated look in the face to get the police.
Just before the group next door was ready to leave, eventually the police came with two cars. We did not intervene in any way, but were happy to hear from the owner of the place, that he did / will get compensation for the damage done. He thanked us extensively for our intervention and let us stay for free for that night. What a nice gesture!
In the afternoon, Sam and Max got some exercise and walked along the beach to the lagoon.

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They stopped at the family with the jet-ski and Sam had long conversations with the owner about the 2-cylinder Rotax engine Bombardier is using and its Austrian origins. After a bit more of talking, Sam and Max got to go out on the jet ski. You can imagine their excitement. Max got to push the throttle and thanks to a passing motor boat they even got to jump over some waves – carefully such that Max would not fall down. It is really a pleasure to see how nice and friendly people are around here. And how much they adore Max with his blond hair and blue eyes. They took dozens of pictures of him - and given his great adventure on the jet ski Max was more willing to let them do that vs. normally being scared of a situation like that.

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That evening we were the only people camping on the beach. So this time, we could enjoy the quiet and dark when watching the nightly sky. And we were joking to each other that somehow we’re missing the music.

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After each of us saw at least three shooting stars it was time to go to bed. Being the only people on the beach we did look forward to a very quiet night without disturbances. Reality was different: at 1:30 am in the morning Sam and I woke up to the sound of a car and a voice asking in Spanish if he can have water for his car. At first we did not get it, what was going on and Sam already suspected some kind of scam scheme. It turned out that the guy really just needed water for his cooler – at least he had the hood open and as soon as Sam handed him a gallon of water, he put it in, thanked us a couple of times and excused for the disturbance and headed off again to the highway and direction south towards Loreto. What a strange thing to happen! It took us a while to go to sleep afterwards and we could not resist to discuss on why our mind is triggered to always first expect the worst – is that just a good thing helping us to survive in unknown environments or is it prejudices hidden somewhere in the unknown areas of our minds that make us dread bad things to happen.
The next morning, we were clearly lacking some sleep, but our blond alarm clock worked very well by demanding to get some milk and a story ready – as usual around 8am.
We took our time before leaving and spent some time in the inlet to the saltwater lagoon with its mangroves. This was not only a nice spot for us, but also for lots of fish enjoying the slight stream of water flowing into the lagoon. But eventually it was time to say good-bye to the Sea of Cortez and to head north. And sometimes the good-bye is just a bit harder than usual…

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 00:14 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach jetski cocos loto Comments (0)

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