Monthly Archives: July 2016

As July Comes To A Close

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As July Comes To A Close

It’s the end of July and the end of my first week here in Leavenworth. Temperatures have soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s a dry heat unlike the high humidity I left behind in Mazatlan. It cools off overnight and was only 58 degrees this morning. I’ve done a fair amount of writing this week along with meeting new people, sightseeing and exploring. I also started a part-time job this week.  

A job? Yes. Those of you who know me personally know my background……………businesswoman, counselor, motivational consultant, teacher and writer. What I’m doing now in no way, shape or form resembles any of these. A friend here owns a construction company and has hired me to help out. For the time being it’s painting, but he has aspirations of other things in mind for the future. I did remind him that knives are not a great idea, lol. I believe I may have the world record for cutting my toe with a butter knife, but that was decades ago in another lifetime. Take a peak at my first painting job.

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Now isn’t that the prettiest flower box you’ve ever seen? And the flowers remained purple and the leaves stayed green. I just may be on to a new career here.

Now we come to the sightseeing and exploring part. Leavenworth is primarily a tourist town, Bavarian style. When you walk along the streets in the downtown are it does not feel like you are in the USA at all. The buildings are so quaint, and there is an abundance of flowers everywhere.

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The building pictured above is where I painted the flower boxes. This is a German restaurant owned by a man from Manitoba, my home province in Canada.

Here are a few other shots of the downtown area:

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And this is only one section of a street. There is also a small park with a kiosk where live music is featured on the weekends. An art show also happens on the weekends. But I will leave that for a future post.

Yesterday we checked out the Farmers Market. It’s a small one featuring some fresh produce, handicrafts and a couple of food stands.

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It was a great place to people watch and I just had to share this photo. What a sweetie!

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Wenatchee is a town about twenty minutes away. This is where the WalMart, East Wenatchee Mall, Costco and all the shopping are located. There are also a variety of restaurants. The downtown area has the courthouse and i intend to spend a day walking around that area in the near future. The drive to Wenatchee from Leavenworth is beautiful.  Have a look at these photos:

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Today I went to a Rotary Club meeting here in Leavenworth. The speaker was excellent and gave a presentation on the wine industry here in Washington. I had no idea that Washington is second only to California in the production of wine in the USA. Now I can’t wait to check out a winery or two while I’m here.  

The weekend is upon us and more adventures lie ahead. That also means more blog posts are coming up.

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Do You Like S’Mores?

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Do You Like S’Mores?

There’s nothing better than getting together with a great group of people and visiting around a fire in the evening before the sun goes down. My friends who are in Mexico and are reading this will really be envious of this fact…………..there are NO mosquitos here in Washington! There are no carnivorous insects at all and it’s possible to sit outside and commune with the beauty of nature and not be bothered by any annoying parasites.

When we were at church on Sunday, one of the events mentioned in the bulletin was an evening of fellowship around a fire. Just bring your own lawn chairs. And the setting for this event? A beautiful area surrounded by orchards of pears and steps away from the river. Every time I think the scenery here can’t get any more spectacular I am proved wrong.

We took the North Road off of Highway 2 and began our drive. A hidden bridge was our landmark to turn off the main road. This narrow trail of a bridge afforded a view of the train tracks below. I enjoyed walking across the wooden planks in order to snap these photos.

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We then drove for several more minutes on a narrow winding road through orchards laden with luscious pears. We finally reached a clearing where we spotted a number of vehicles and eagerly walked down a small trail to find a number of people gathered around a fire pit.

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Being the one outsider, everyone is sure to recall my name although theirs will all be a blur to me until I get to know everyone a little better. One of the first people I talked to was a retired doctor who is also a writer. I met people who had retired to Leavenworth from Seattle. I met younger people and enjoyed watching the children play. People were eager to share their life stories with me and to fill me in on life in Leavenworth. They were intrigued that I was from Canada and that I lived in Mexico.

Of course one of the highlights of this event was toasting marshmallows around the fire pit.

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They were then placed on graham crackers along with chocolate to form this delicious treat. Do you like s’mores?

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The First 48

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The First 48

Saturday July 23rd arrived quickly. Before I knew it Wanda and I were sitting at a bar in the airport sipping a Pacifico before It was time for me to go through security. I arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare. I settled into a seat and decided to pass the time playing games on my iphone.

But it turned out that I had quite a bit of time to pass. My flight left Mazatlan 90 minutes late. So my two hour layover in Phoenix never happened. By the time we arrived at the gate and deplaned, I had a mere 41 minutes to go through Customs and Immigration, collect my bag and recheck it, dash up 4 levels to security, and then make my way to the farthest gate in the A terminal. No small feat when my knee replacements always trigger the alarm in security and there is always a lineup for the body scanner. I arrived at the gate about a minute before the scheduled departure and literally sat down, buckled up and we were pushing away from the gate.

Of course I was exhausted and also hungry. Other than that beer at the airport and a ginger ale on the previous flight, I hadn’t eaten all day. Neither the pastrami sandwich or the Pringles potato chips appealed. So I sipped another ginger ale and nibbled on a small pack of pretzels. I had anticipated a leisurely lunch in Phoenix. This is the last time I will ever book connecting flights with only a two hour layover. Somehow killing five or six hours has now become an attractive option.

I must admit that the aircraft used by American Airlines are quite comfortable and the seats have lots of leg room. Of course I’m only 4’11”! But it was definitely more comfortable than Westjet that I use to commute to Canada from Mexico. And the view as we approached Seattle was incredible.

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Upon arrival in Seattle, once again I found myself at the farthest gate from the baggage area. But I needn’t have rushed. Not all the carousels were in use and it was a full forty-five minutes before the bags from our flight began their descent down the chute. Actually, mine was one of the first to show up. By some miracle Steve found me in that madhouse. The Wifi at the airport may be free, but my iphone was being stubborn.

We then began the long trek through the airport in search of the elevators to the parking area. We arrived at the level and then walked several minutes before finally spotting Steve’s Explorer. Once there, we popped open a couple of beer and finally relaxed for a few minutes before heading out on the highway to Leavenworth.

The traffic in Seattle is ridiculous. Once we were out of the city, it was considerably lighter. We drove for about a half hour and then headed into a small town in search of food. The first place we came across was McDonalds, and that hamburger was amazing! I must admit that in the last few years the only time I ever went to McDonalds was in search of coffee or a summertime smoothee. It’s not my favorite place at all, but that night it was delicious! We sat by the fireplace and it was most enjoyable.

Back on the road again, the highway was full of treacherous twists and dangerous curves in the darkness. But Steve knows these roads well and we arrived in Leavenworth just after midnight. After a quick tour of the town we arrived at Steve’s home. I immediately hooked up to the Wifi and posted a message on Facebook that I had arrived safe and sound. A couple of What’s App messages later and I collapsed into bed.  

The next morning we went to church where I met several people and chatted with the pastor. There was a special service that morning as the children had just completed a Vacation Bible Camp. Two visiting missionaries also spoke. I felt completely at home here and it reminded me so much of Church of The Rock back in Winnipeg, down to the backdrop.

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After church we headed downtown to the Icicle Brewing Company for a cold one and a platter of cheese, crackers, meat and fruit. We chatted with several tourists and did a lot of people-watching. Leavenworth is a quaint Bavarian style town and attracts hoards of tourists, especially on weekends. You really feel like you’re in Germany rather than in the USA.

We then went for a long drive along the river and up to the Enchantments. The scenery and the views were absolutely spectacular! This is truly God’s country, and I have never been in such an amazing place in my life. We passed people rafting and swimming. I’ll post just a few shots of the scenery although I took dozens more.

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We came back home and rested for awhile. After a delicious dinner of barbecued chicken and vegetables, we headed out to Safeway to do some grocery shopping. The last time I was in an American grocery store was in Texas two years ago, and I was totally overwhelmed by the selection of foods. Mexico is not the ideal haven for shopping for groceries.

Well, Monday morning has dawned with clear, sunny skies and I will leave you for now with the view of the 17th hole from the deck.

View of 17th hole from the deck

Last Post From Mazatlan

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Last Post From Mazatlan

This will be my last post from Mazatlan for a while. This Saturday I am off to a small town in Washington state for approximately three months. I am looking forward to getting away from the heat and humidity of Mazatlan in the summer. When I lived in Guadalajara I never really understood why people came there or to Lake Chapala or to Ajijic for the summer. I moved to Mazatlan last summer and saw the majority of snowbirds heading back up north. To me Mazatlan is paradise, and I will miss the beach and the beautiful sunsets. But I do intend to return and spend next winter here.

I will be staying with a friend I met here in Mazatlan last summer. Although it will be a vacation from teaching, it will also be a working vacation for me. I am currently writing my next book, a work of fiction. My characters all live in Smalltown, USA. I will now have the opportunity to immerse myself into that type of culture which will greatly enhance my ability to portray their lives as they really are, and not just in the way I imagine them to be.

I will also be working part-time and you will have to read my future blog posts if you want to find out exactly what I’ll be doing. The only clue I will give you is that it will be something completely different from teaching English or writing. I haven’t even told my own children what I will be doing.

Now I must return to the tedious task of organizing my belongings and packing. It’s quite amazing what I have accumulated in the past fourteen months. A friend has graciously offered me space to store a suitcase so that I need not take everything with me. That is indeed a blessing.

Farewell for now from Mazatlan, and I will write again when I’m settled in Washington.

Cheerios I Love Cheerios

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Cheerios I Love Cheerios

My favorite cereal is Cheerios. Back in Canada I bought boxes regularly when my kids were small. They loved them and so did our dog. But here in Mexico it is very difficult to find just plain Cheerios. Mexicans love their sugar, so chocolate, banana, honey nut, apple and multigrain line the shelves. And yes, the multigrain are full of sugar as are all the flavored ones. Occasionally I find plain Cheerios at WalMart at the Marina, and it’s always an exciting day.

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There is no real grocery shopping available anywhere near where I live. I live in a gated community on Bicentenario Juarez. Next to our condos is another gated community. Just past that one is a huge intersection with a Pemex and an Oxxo as the major landmarks.

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Once you cross Del Delfin, the intersection pictured above, the chicken wars begin. Chickens are grilled or rotisseried and signs advertise 2 whole chickens for 120 or 130 pesos. They are accompanied by tortillas and salsa and I cannot buy them and cook them at home for that price.

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There are no zoning bylaws here and there is such an amazing conglomeration of varieties of businesses that line the street. Of course the Oxxo features prominently, an amazing convenience store where you can pay utility bills, purchase computer accessories, buy groceries and anything else you can think of.

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Next to the Oxxo os a small taqueria and a small pizza restaurant. Directly beside that is a hardware store.

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The next business lends money at a ridiculously high interest rate.

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Then there is a children’s party salon.

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And of course there is one of the many obligatory beer stores right next door.

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Next we have a small cocina. In this photo they are grilling vegetables.

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And I could have walked farther down to find a variety of interesting shops but the 36 degree Celsius temperature and the 85% humidity found me heading for home to seek refuge in the pool. Perhaps in the fall I will venture further down the street on foot but for now this little snapshot into my neighborhood will have to suffice. I shall have to be content viewing the remainder of the street from the window of a car or a bus.

Vecinos Con Carinos Fourth of July Party

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Vecinos Con Carinos Fourth of July Party

Vecinos Con Carinos is an organization that supports schools and people who live in a poor area in Teacapan, about two hours drive south of Mazatlan. I am a member of this club and we held a fundraiser at Villa Loman, a beautiful home a few minutes north of Teacapan. Our hosts were Helen and Jerry Loman, also members of the group. Their home is spacious and the grounds are huge. And it is only a five minute walk down to the beach. Here are photos of the home and the view from the terrace.

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Some of us stayed overnight in guest apartments, while others came out only for the day. Kathy and David Francone graciously gave me a ride down there in their new Winnebago which made it all the more enjoyable.

Upon our arrival at Villa Loman, Dave Parker had been busy barbecuing hot dogs for us. His wife Sue did an amazing job of organizing this fundraiser attended by some 23 people. Sue is very creative in terms of planning everything from activities to obtaining door prizes. She even designed trophies for the game winners. And what fun games they were!

A bean bag toss was the first game, followed by a potato race. There was also a putting green on the grounds for those who braved the broiling sun. A trivia quiz followed, Bingo games and then the raffle for the door prizes took place.

Helen Loman is a remarkable woman. At the tender age of 87, she provided and cooked all the food for our sumptuous dinner that evening. The menu included ribs, chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread. Helen lamented that she had forgotten to serve the baked beans she had lovingly prepared, so care packages were provided. The table was set beautifully with china and silver. Dessert followed with delicious homemade ice cream.

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After dinner we sat around on the terrace and then some of us participated in a sing-along. Others began their drive home to Mazatlan. We were all exhausted by eleven and retired to our apartments.

The next morning we were treated to a wonderful breakfast of quiche, potatoes, fruit and the lightest and fluffiest biscuits I’ve ever tasted. Most of us were still full from the meal the night before and were overwhelmed by yet another feast.

All too soon, we said our good-byes and departed Villa Loman. On the way back to Mazatlan, we took a detour through the pueblo of Teacapan and explored the Malecon.

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It was a fabulous way to celebrate the fourth of July. And the fundraiser itself was a huge success, raising approximately $8200 Mexican. It was indeed a Happy Fourth of July!