Mazatlan – Day 6

I should have mentioned yesterday that after Linda’s surgery on Wednesday, she recognized Tom right away. There was a danger that she wouldn’t. We’re very happy for her and know that Tom is, too. I’m sure there are some days where she would be OK not admitting Tom is hers, but recognizing him is good.

So, “what’s that all about?” you ask, and rightly so because this surgery had nothing to do with Linda’s head, but her liver. Both Tom and Linda explained how the surgery could possibly cause memory loss, and it made a bit of sense at the time. However, the complicated nature of the surgery and possible side affects were well outside the scope of my understanding so the explanation never made it into long term memory. I was able to keep it long enough to nod once in a while, indicating that I understood, when in fact I didn’t. My main concern focused on the effect on these two lovely people, not the cause. So, as did they, we put our trust into the hands of God and prayed that he would guide the surgeon’s hand. A lot of people were doing that, and it worked. So, there’s something for the heathen’s amongst us to think about.

Last night, before retiring, Diane was feely frisky so challenged me to a game of cribbage, which I won. She then challenged me again, and I won that one, too. We played a third game which she won handily, ending the need for challenges. Throughout the games we laughed like little kids in a manner we haven’t enjoyed in years. It was fun, something we don’t seem to have time for at home and it makes us wonder why. We don’t really have to go all the way to Mexico to recapture that part of ourselves. No sir. We could do that by just going to, say, Fort Stevens, or even the county park by the Scappoose airport. Or maybe we could just go out in the driveway and sit in one of the old Winnebagos and play cards there. I think the point my brain is trying to make is that we don’t have to leave home, really, to experience the fun times. It’s simply that ‘Home’ seems to have replaced the term ‘Work’ in our vocabulary, and work isn’t legally a place to have fun. So we don’t.

I’m going to change that upon our return home. I’m going to have fun every day, whether or not Diane gives me permission to do so. I’ll have fun chipping paint, removing paint from bricks that was placed there by the previous owners who weren’t too concerned about being sloppy. I’ll have fun mowing the grass … no, I do that already … I’ll have fun cutting down more blackberry vines, ripping out bushes that grow in places I don’t want them to grow, painting walls that have never been painted before, finishing Diane’s laundry room, adding fake walls to cover things we don’t want to see, refinishing the wood work around the remaining 12 windows in the house (I’ve already done 4 of them) … gotta stop this, now. My head is starting to hurt and Mexico is looking a lot better with each word …

The birds are back this morning … the gaviotas. There are also a few vultures here and there that soar over us, looking for something dead to clean up. One of the warnings given to us, which I failed to mention, is that at every public place, someone must keep guard and warn if a vulture is coming near. If so, the guard warns everyone so they can start moving around to make sure the vultures know there’s nothing there for them, and they sail away. For some folks, the vultures serve as timers, because they come around on a rigid schedule, causing people to at least turn over so they can crisp up their other tender areas in the hot sun. Kinda like turning a marshmellow at just the right speed over a bed of coals so it turns toasty brown and instead of catching on fire.

Now it’s time to venture outside and take a walk on the beach.

The walk is over and it’s 1450. The sun is hot, but seems to be more tolerable each day. We may move here.

I’m saddened by the fact that I will be unable to watch the Ducks game this afternoon because the sports channels we’ve found are all soccer related. Not actually ‘related’, but specifically soccer, the only true football according to Lydia’s soccer coach. No, to him soccer is the only ‘real’ sport. Lydia found that out when he asked her what position she played and she told him pitcher and 2nd base. Obviously not soccer.

Back to the Ducks – I’ll be doing some searching in a little while to see if I can remedy the problem. I’ve GOT to see that game! My entire vacation will be absolutely ruined if I can’t. Maybe I’ll be able to watch it live on ESPN via the internet. They won’t mind if I spend a few hours in the deli to do that, I’m sure. Might even buy something this time.

Diane’s been poisening me with lactose free leche the entire time we’ve been here. I thought there was something different about how it felt on my tongue, but didn’t question it until I had to go buy some more because we drank what we had. I’m sure I’ll survive, but I feel deceived.

It is now 1717 and we have spent the past 3 hours sitting at a table outside the deli talking with an ex-pat from Ohio who lives on the north shore of Lake Chapala which is south of Guadalhara. Though we heard her entire life story, there’s no way I could remember enough to make it worth sharing. Oh, Carolina’s son, Brian, went to nuclear power school in the Navy, spent six years on active duty, then went to Texas A&M to be a mechanical engineer, joined the Air Force, and is currently the physical ed teacher at the Air Force academy in Colorado Springs. Oh, and her Dad grew up in Western Nebraska, same as mine. Go figure. Another one of those small world ‘things’.

We ate our chili for lunch today so we’re technically out of hot food. We still have bread, peanut butter, and jelly, so we won’t starve, in case you’re concerned. I suggested that we could have toasted PB&J’s for a change, which I’ve had before and found to be quite good. I love crunchy things.

Not much else left for today. Talking with Carol all that time kinda wore me out, and changed the direction of my thought patterns, which happens to me all the time so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Here’s Diane checking her email and Facebook ‘stuff’.

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Linda sent good news that she’s home and doing well. Her memory is fine so far and she can’t even forget some of the things, and people, who she would like to forget. So, there was a downside to the operation, after all. Seriously, we’re so happy she’s doing OK. Now that she’s back home Tom won’t have to cook any more.

Mazatlan – Day 5

The TVs provided for our use are rather small for the size of the room. They are flat panel units with little tinny speakers and they are enclosed in a unit that makes the sound echo a bit. So, for old ears, it’s a challenge. Last night, while we were watching “Elementary”, Diane asked, “Do you think the sound is bad because the picture is smaller?” I couldn’t immediately answer because that thought was running around in my head and it made sense, causing me concern. Then I committed a grave error, and laughed, because it was funny. Thankfully, she laughed, too, so it was OK. Forever more I will equate sound quality to the size of the picture.

This morning Jack woke me up by arguing with me about how to take apart some kind of apparatus we needed to take apart for some obscure reason. He had a hammer and attempted to take a swing at it to do the job, but I was able to stop him by turning the apparatus over to show him the bolt I had inserted so the halves of it wouldn’t fall apart. Then he tried to swing the hammer at the bolt. All this time he was being semi-restrained by two people I’ve never seen before, but not restrained enough to keep him from being pretty scary with the hammer. When stopped from hitting the bolt with the hammer, he got out a very sharp knife with the intent of using it to separate the halves. It was obvious that he was intent on completing the job, but I disagreed with his methods, which is unusual because it is I who normally relies on Jack to provide the necessary methods for getting pretty much anything done.

When he came up with the knife I’m afraid I yelled at him and said some pretty terrible things because it woke me up and cause Diane enough concern that she extricated herself from my vicinity to the relative safety of the living room. I as aware of her departure, though I was not completely awake, then I lay there for another 10-15 minutes in a twilight kind of sleep trying to reconcile what had just happened. Unable to do that, I finally got up and crept into the living room, sneaking up behind Diane, who knew I was there the entire time. And, she wasn’t mad at me. So, the day begins on a positive not after all. It was 0742.

Diane had a couple of the windows open to let the fresh air in because the is very little humidity this morning. I opened the other five and we are enjoying the sound of waves crashing violently on the beach. The tide is obviously high because the water is rolling all the way up to the grass berm which is about six feet above the water level. We’re located on a very wide cove and the waves start rolling in at an angle, on the southern end, where we are, and continue north, sweeping up the steep beach at a very fast pace toward the resorts north of us. I suspect we can see about 4-5 miles of beach from our windows, so it’s quite a show. Very peaceful, and serene.

This early in the morning is the time maintenance crews get busy with pool cleaning and ensuring chemical levels are correct. One of the young men who do this carries bottles of “something” in the cargo pockets of his shorts and they make a distinct clanking sound as he walks. Diane has dubbed him the ‘man with the noisy pants.’ It’s a good description. You always know when he’s around.

Yesterday afternoon Diane and I went to the deli, for their free wi-fi, so I could submit my entry to the world, and check our respective email accounts. I worked very hard to add some pictures for your viewing enjoyment, then published the entry, and it just disappeared. It appeared that I was going to have to recreate the entire narrative, a depressing prospect since I cannot recreate anything like that. It would be totally different, I know it would. Thankfully, however, I worried about it long enough for Diane’s email to refresh and there it was in her email, nice and complete. That was a relief for sure.

Then Diane headed off to the adult pool while there was still a little daylight remaining. I stayed a bit longer to check my email, and to see if the government had figured out some way of stopping my pay check. They hadn’t so I closed up and followed after a short time.

As I was going down to the infinity pool, I noticed a few birds floating on the incoming sea breeze, and my gaze was drawn higher, and higher, to an entire herd composed of hundreds of birds. No one in the vicinity knew what kind they were, but the way they soared reminded me of hawks and eagles. They obviously weren’t hawks or eagles, but they flew like them, rising on the currents, then circling around behind he pack, and working back to the front, always floating on the air a few hundred feet up, facing the setting sun. Looking at them made me think they were gathered, and circling, waiting for something to die so they could rush in a devour it. Or, perhaps they were just gathered, as were we land based humans, to watch another ho-hum Mexican Riviera Sunset.

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After joining Diane in the adult pool, where she was the only occupant until my arrival, we watched the birds for a long time. They are fascinating to watch. Finally, another couple came to the pool and I asked if they knew what kind of birds they were. Turns out the ‘new’ folks are natives and very friendly. The gentleman explained that they call the birds scissor gaviotas. I’m pretty sure that’s the term he used. The scissor part refers to their tail which just out like a pair of open scissors and they can move them in a scissors fashion to control parts of their flight. Turns out they are related to seagulls in some way, but they are black. We were told there are also white gaviotas, too.

We watched a bit of news before retiring, to see if members of congress have decided to start making smart choices instead of promoting their own agendas. We saw the bit about the Connecticut lady who tried to ram the White House barrier, then sped away and was finally caught and shot, though she didn’t have a weapon. Interesting, and sad. Then there was a clip of Representative “Nuem-somethingorother” who was berating a park ranger about not letting people into one of the national parks which had been closed because THE GOVERNMENT IS SHUT DOWN, YOU DOLT! He was telling her she should be ashamed to be a park ranger for not letting people in. This guy is obviously an idiot and it concerns me that our government seems to be made up of more people like that than is healthy for us. Scary, huh?

Now it’s 0915 and time to get busy with another relaxing day. Diane wants to go to the deli to get a $7 loaf of bread so we can have toast tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday, as well as another imported tuna sandwich, and perhaps an imported PB&J, somewhere along the way. I think when we get home next week we’re going to have a hard time getting back into the habit of eating a hot meal once in a while. We feel really good just nibbling our way through the day.

Before I forget, Diane discovered another thing that makes this resort really special. How many places have you stayed in your life where they include a bra dryer? Not many, I’ll bet. Well, we have one here …
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I suspect all the other rooms have them, too. Pretty cool, huh?

You’ve probably already figured out that I’m going to be in deep dark trouble for that one, but just couldn’t pass it up.

We’re currently sitting in the deli, plugged in, checking email, etc. We have our home phone through Comcast so were able to listen to all of our voice mails, too. Just can’t (won’t) respond to them until we get home. Someone else just left a message while I was sitting here. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Time to get some lunch, now. Eating a real meal yesterday kinda ruined us, making us feel like it’s actually necessary to eat larger amounts more often. So, guess we’ll go see what’s cooking at the Sunset Grill.

Mazatlan – Day 1

It’s currently about 0705 this wonderful Monday morning, and we are high in the air somewhere over Oregon, heading south to LA.
The morning began awfully early, mainly because the evening ended far later than we had planned, but it all worked out. I opted to leave my CPAP in the other bag, in the vehicle, because it’s been a long time since I’ve snored all night long, and Diane was missing it. So, I was able to adequately keep both of us awake for a good portion of the night.

When we arrived at the hotel I conferred with Diane as to whether or not we should have a wake up call and she thought 0330 would be a good time to ensure we made the 0400 shuttle to the airport for our 0530 flight. Once in the room, however, she had a change of heart after rediscovering that our flight didn’t leave until 0640. With this new information in hand we agreed that we could push our wake up call all the way out to 0430 for the 0500 shuttle. I called the front desk and made the necessary changes.

It turns out that not all of the people who work at the hotel are on speaking terms because because we received a wake up call at 0330 and again at 0430. The second one was unnecessary because we stayed up after the first one. Consequently, we were more than ready to leave.

The guy behind us on the shuttle who’s accent pegged him as someone from Boston, New York, or New Jersey area, apparently spends his time flying from golf course to golf course, and he hasn’t had time to expand his vocabulary to deliver descriptive narrative without the use of some pretty base vulgarities. It was an educational trip.

At the airport we participated in two different lines that, combined, represented a very large portion of the greater Portland/Vancouver area. The first line was to check our food bag. It weighed in at 52.8 pounds which qualified it for a larger fee than the $20 Diane had already paid for. I was prepared to toss out a few cans of soup, but the attendant said, “that’s OK, I’ll let it go.” I think she allowed it because I didn’t argue with her. Sweet.

The second line was for security, a much larger line, but it moved quickly, which pleasantly surprised both of us. After getting all our clothing back on we went directly to the Starbucks which was directly ahead of us. Neither of us had had our morning coffee so we were in dire need.

Diane went to secure us a table while I inserted myself in the Starbucks line. Directly in front of me was a very attractive, well endowed young lady who was not the least bit afraid of displaying the talents God had provided for her. Over her shoulder hung a large pink bag attached to which was a very large, sparkly pin that spelled out “Victoria’s Secrets”. Since I was breathing, and blood coursed through my not yet constricted arteries, I was obviously interested in her story. So, I asked her if the bag indicated a vocation, or if it was simply a really neat bag. She flashed me a brilliant smile and said, “no, I just came home to get my ‘rain fix’, and I’m heading back to San Diego.” She’s from Vancouver and is attending the University of San Diego. Nice girl. I didn’t get a chance to ask her what she intended to be when she grew up, but it just didn’t seem necessary to ask at the time.

For coffee, I got my normal Venti WCMNW and Diane got a Venti CM. The attendant mistook the NW addendum to include both drinks, but that’s OK because you always get a little bit more that way. I also got a banana nut muffin which we shared. It was all very good.

We proceeded to gate C-4 and took a seat until almost everyone had boarded. We were destined for seats 9-A & B. A young man named Colin was sitting in seat C, the isle seat. He was reading a real book, not an electronic one, which initially got my interest, then he put the book away and started drawing very detailed depictions of those sitting around him. His choice of medium was a ballpoint pen and a lined steno pad. It was totally incredible so I, of course, commented, suggesting that he must have many of those filled notebooks stashed in storage someplace. He conceded this was true, and we struck up a conversation. Turns our he’s a graphic artist who works for Nike and he designs logos for T-Shirts. As sure as I’m sitting here, I’m willing to bet that many of you, who wear Nike products, have something he designed. Interesting. I told him that Phil should have sprung for First Class for him and his other workers and he said, “he does for international flights.” This time they were just going to various cities around the US to visit clients. A really nice guy.

Now, here’s the ‘small world’ part of this story. Turns out that Colin used to work for puppet maker name Michael Curry when his business was located in … wait for it … St. Helens, Oregon! Go Figure. Colin opted for a new job when Michael moved his business to Scappoose, 8 miles closer to Portland, and landed with Nike. One of his friends at Nike is the young lady who dreamed up the wings you see on the Oregon Ducks uniforms and logo shirts. He didn’t have any samples, so I had to leave that relationship shirtless. Still, it was a very nice visit.

In LA, Diane and I stopped at Ruby’s Cafe for a bite to eat, then on to gate 68-A to await our connecting flight to Mazatlan. Again, we waited until the line whittled down a ways before standing to join the crowd.

For traveling, I wore the T-shirt Diane got me that says “I’m Retired and this is as dressed up as I get”. It always seems to be a topic of conversation, a good icebreaker. While boarding the plane, the plane Captain and XO were standing by to greet folks and the CO commented about how he couldn’t wait until he could wear a shirt like mine. I offered to trade him shirts, but he declined stating that I wouldn’t want his because it was 4-days old. I told him that wasn’t a problem, but he still wouldn’t go for it. For just the briefest of moments I had visions of flying the plane.

On this leg we had seats 15-C&D which are both isle seats. We planned to sit there and hold hands across the isle for the entire flight, going to the bathroom when we pleased, without having to stumble over another passenger. That didn’t work out, however, because the older (than me) gentleman sitting in seat E, next to Diane, offered to trade me seats so we could sit together. How could we refuse? So, I wound up in seat D, and Diane moved to E. As fortune would have it, when they closed the door to the plane, a clear indication that no one else was going to be allowed aboard, seat F was still empty. So, I moved to F, the window seat. I hardly ever get the window seat, so I was thrilled.

That left seat D empty. After a bit of coaxing, the lady in row 14, seat D, convinced her friend to move up from the back and sit behind her. When she arrived she said that she hoped we didn’t mind if she joined us. I requested a vote, but was denied, so told her I didn’t mind as long as she and her friend didn’t talk all the way to Mexico. She said, “no chance. We’re just a couple of jabber boxes.” Turns our, however, that she’s a nice lady from Santa Barbara who also lives in Mazatlan. Her name is Romi and she owns the El Roots Cafe in our destination city. I learned all of this before we took off.

We were pushed away from the terminal on time, and headed for our place in line for takeoff. It was a bumpy ride to the end of the runway, but by the time we got there all the checks and balances had been performed so we were good to go. We turned on to the runway and immediately accelerated for takeoff. There was no delay, whatsoever. Just turn, and go.

Down the runway we raced, going faster and faster, and I could tell the nose wheel was almost ready to leave the runway. I believe this is called the ‘rotate’ point. Instead of doing that, however, the engines were reversed, and the brakes were tested to their fullest, giving every one on board a real exciting time, wondering what the heck had happened. We never came to a full stop, but slowed enough to get off the main runway, then the CO explained what happened. He said that about a 10 feet into our takeoff run he saw this goose in the middle of the runway and yearned for it to move. When it did, however, it took flight and made a suicidal run through our left engine which caused the pilot a great deal of concern. I’m sure the air controllers got a little excited, too. Probably woke a couple of them up. I suspect the “Check Engine” light probably came on in the cockpit, too.

We went back to the terminal and sat there for an hour while various people checked the engines and could find nothing wrong with either of them. There was a rumor from the back of the plane that the goose made a last minute dodge, missing the engine, but hitting the wing. He was found laying, entirely whole, on the runway. We were not allowed to leave until appropriate services were made and next of kin notified. It was sad, but a much better mental picture than one of shredded goose all over the place. Romi’s El Roots cafe serves sushi dishes so I asked her, if the goose had gone through the engine, could it be classified as Canadian Sushi. She agreed that it was probably appropriate.

Now we’re nearing the bottom end of The Gulf of California, and I an tell we’re losing altitude slowly. So, before the waitress yells at me again, I’m going to terminate this and be a good boy. I’ll add more, of course, once we get to our room at the resort.

The landing, though an hour later than planned, was uneventful. Even so, everyone on the play clapped and cheered, just as they did when we successfully departed the runway in LA. It was a cheerful bunch on that plane. Then we had to transit through customs and, as luck would have it, with Mexico’s random selection process, activated by pushing a large red button, Diane got the red light meaning we both had to participate in a strip search of everything we had. I as OK with it because I don’t mind if strangers touch me. Wherever they want to. Actually, they only wanted to dig through the luggage, which they did, then sent us on our merry way.

Thankfully, the resort shuttle driver knew about the delay and didn’t strand us. That would have been bad because there were 12 of us needing the ride. That trip, too, was uneventful, and we arrived just fine. Checked into our room, and removed all the sweaty clothes and had a PB&J sandwich.

Now we’re just cruising around looking at stuff.