Pasta con sarde

When I first met with a naturopathic doctor she told me that if I wanted my kids to thrive I have to give them 3 things: omega 3s, coconut oil and probiotics. I had no reason not to belive her since I as a kid remember eating these things in one form or another. Every day before school I had to drink my tablespoon of fish oil. It was not a pleasant experience but well, if it is healthy you do it. My diet was rich in sourkrout and other fermented veggies which are nothing less then probiotics. Coconut oil was unknown….probably because palm trees are not a common view in Poland.
In this article I would like to focus on omega 3s which are mostly found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackrel.
Wild cought are much better then farmed because they have higher content of the good fatty acids and are fed natural diet. Farmed fish, on a contrary are fed corn and soy.
Unfortunately wild cought fish is hard to find and expensive. The cheapest way to get a load of omega 3s from food is eating sardines. We eat sardines very often usually just the way they come in a can with a piece of multigrain bread. Try mixing them with cream cheese and use as a spread on a piece of toast, put them on a cracker or make the following recipe.

This recipe serves family of 4

2 cans of sardines in olive oil- if it tastes too fishy try 1 can
1 box of short multigrain pasta
1 can of diced tomatoes or 4 fresh , diced, tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 of diced, large onion
2 cups of baby spinach
1 tbs of olive oil
olives if you like
capers if you like
parmezan cheese if you like

Cook pasta acording to the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.
In a frying pan heat up the oil and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Add sardines with the oil and break them up with a wooden spatula. Add tomatoes and cook for few minutes. In the end put spinach, olives and/ or capers in. Mix pasta with the sauce and dinner is ready. There is everything your body needs in this dish. Lots of protein (every can is 13%) to counterpart those carbs and lots of fibre. It is a great pantry dinner and „budget saver because all the ingredients are under $10. Bon apetit!

Portlandia, where people ride naked

We visited Portland for just one afternoon, but like with the visit to Yosemite, we were lucky enough to see just the exact things that make this place World famous…

We stayed with  Małgosia’s old friends, who live in Vancouver, WA. Warned that the city tend to be crowded and parking lots expensive, we left the car at the Columbia river banks and took a train downtown. Nadia and Alex loved that ride!

After a quick lunch in Chinatown, we stumbled upon a Saturday market area, which spreads along the river. Even though we’ve expected fruits and vegetables, we only found lots of tourists, arts and crafts vendors, homeless people taking baths in the fountains, gay couples, transvestites, naked people riding bicycles, fathers with their babies petitioning to legalize cannabis, etc… The usual stuff you come to expect to see on this side of the Rockies.

Later, while staying with another friends, we’ve learned about Portlandia, a TV series portraying this interesting city in just so slightly distorted mirror.

All in all, we liked the city full of gay people and transvestites dancing in the streets and homeless people giving free hugs, smiles and kisses…

How to make recycled kids party favor boxes

Living for 6 months in Mexico I religiously collected toilet paper rolls. They really are a great medium for all kinds of projects. We made flower pots, binoculars, all kinds of animals you name it we have done it but this project is a little more practical. This time we made colorful boxes to fill with chocolates and give out to all the classmates on the last day of school in San Miguel.

Material needed:

  • toilet paper rolls,
  • scrapbooking paper
  • decorations
  • scissors
  • glue
  • imagination

Cut the scrapbooking paper in strips as wide as the paper roll. Glue it on the roll and let dry well. Decorate with whatever you have on hand, stickers, paper, in contrasting colors, sequins, buttons…whatever you like. Bend on each side of the roll to close it well. Fill with nuts, chocolates, dried fruit, candy and it is ready! What I like the most about it is that it is small which makes a great serving size of sweets even for the youngest:-)

 

Memorial Day Weekend

I wrote my last report sitting at a Starbucks in Fresno. I was sipping coffee, watching people and waited for the car repair bill. What I didn’t cover was the reason why I got 20 minutes late to the service garage. At the time we were staying at the Millerton Lake near Fresno and I had an appointment at the service garage at 7.30 in the morning. Since it’s a 30 minutes drive, I left 10 to 7.00 AM, just in case… Good thing I did!

If I left only 2 minutes earlier, I would have definietly make it on time to the mechanic, but I would miss quite a spectacle. Obviously from time to time, every one of us meets a cow or two in the middle of the road. But what about 300 cows led by and  followed by 5 cowboys and their smart collie…? The cattle were being driven from one pasture to the next, few miles dwon the road. A truly wild west experience…

From Fresno, we headed back to the cold Sierra, this time to visit Yosemite. As Agnieszka already reported, we didn’t stay there long, mainly because of the crowds of people, in their large SUV’s and enormous RV’s, with their expensive cameras, filling up the valley all week long. We managed to find one camping spot, 25 miles north from the most scenic rocks and waterfalls, far from other people. Yes, we were lucky to spot a bear and a mountain lion, both within 6 minutes, half mile from one another,  but we failed to find another camping spot for the upcoming weekend. Gosh, I hate weekends!

We spent the next two days in Turlock Lake, a small park near Modesto. As all California state parks, this one was a no frills, expensive ($30/night) and in dire need of upgrades. Unlike others, this one was also infested by blood thirsty mosquitos, beer thirsty rednecks and fiestive Mexicans. We managed to survive the dreaded weeekend and Sunday afternoon moved to another park near Valley Springs. This one is being administer by the US Army Corps of Engineers and despite surface similarities is indeed much different. At only $16 per night it’s not only significantly less expensive, but also has clean, modern facilities and overall seems to be much better managed. Although Valley Springs is just a small town and offers no tourist attractions, we welcomed the change and decided to stay for the whole week. That gave us an opportunity to catch up on the homeschooling program, visit local libraries and just hang out on the lake. On Friday, when the “weekenders” started to arrive, we packed our van, left the quitet refuge and headed for the city…

Sacramento, California’s capital is not as big as some of the better known cities on the west coast. It retains it’s small town atmosphere, while providing all the services and attaractions of a much larger metropoly. We stayed there for almost a week. On the weekend, we visited our old friends, who moved here from Hornell 6 years ago. They live in downtown, which gave us a chance to see the heart of the city first hand. We went to a concert, to a zoo and to museum of rail transportation, enjoyed a pacific rim fair and walked the streets of a western-like historic district. Of course we also spent countless hours talking about the “good old times” while drying out a few bottles of wine. On Sunday, we moved to the outskirts and stayed with a wonderful couple we met few weeks earlier at Zion and in the Death Valley. Patti and Del not only hosted us for four days, sharing their travel and family stories, but also took us cayaking and showed us Folsom and Orangevale on the bikes. Nadia and Alex loved the pool, we couldn’t get enough of Del’s barbecued ribs. But on Thursday it was time move on…

Last weekend was Memorial Day, which means… we’re screwed. Instead of San Francisco, we landed in Sonoma valley on a campground far from the bay area. But it turned out to be great. We have spent four days hiking, visiting local library and… wine tasting. After all this is the Sonoma Valley!

Visit at Yosemite

After freezing experience at Sequoya and Kings Canyon National Park we chased the hot weather to Millerton Lake State Park near Fresno, CA. It did not disappoint, it was very nice. Warm enough to sleep in t-shirts and shorts again:-) After doing pretty much nothing for few days, we headed to Yosemite National Park.

We have seen so many beautiful movies filmed in this gorgeous park… It is very extensive, full of breathtaking waterfalls, granite mountains, pristine forests and wildlife.

Prepared to freeze our butts off again we decided to compromise and stay for one night and later decide if we want to stay longer. We entered the park, but it was still a long drive before we got to any kind of camp ground or visitor’s center. Long, winding road in front of us made me very sick immediately. I have a terrible motion sickness disease, so as much as I love the mountains driving there is not my favorite activity.

We get to the Valley and it is as busy as Time Square on a week day. The traffic is annoying, parking lots are full and hungry crowds with professional cameras shooting every squirrel, every bird, every inch of the park.

We went to the reservation office just in time to find out that all the campgrounds in the Valley were full and have a mile long waiting list. The only option left for us was a spot for one night on a campground located on the west side of the park, 45 min drive from all the action. What could we do , we took it. Whoo hoo, more driving… 🙁

On our way there we found ourselves accepting the fact that our visit was going to be very short. Robert, who’s high hopes for some serious hiking vanished immediately had the hardest time accepting.

The regrets were still showing on our faces while setting up the camp. The toughest part was that the decision was not made by us but the thousands of people from all over the world who decided to show up at the same time and spoil our idyllic sabbatical. What happened to the economical crisis in Europe?! The park is full of people from France and Germany…

After all was in place, we decided to head to Hatch Hatchy, a nearby reservoir – much less visited location in Yosemite. While driving, it was obvious that it is not so popular amongst tourists, the road was ours – no cars around. Moving forward, while the sun was slowly going down, I look to the side of the road to find a… BEAR trying to cross to the other side. Yes, a BEAR!!! We have never seen a bear out in the wild before. Our van is coming to life. Everyone is screaming with excitement looking at the beautiful animal moving slowly to the other side. I could not believe it! We even managed to take some photos since the camera, thanks to Robert is always ready and in the same spot:-) That was it, it changed our mood completely, thankful for what we just experienced.

Taking another curve, still discussing the bear we were surprised AGAIN, because crossing the road the other way around was a… MOUNTAIN LION!! This unbelievably gorgeous animal, very secretive in fact, decided to make an appearance right in front of us. It was completely unexpected, even for the lion since he tripped on the side of the road, very unusual for this graciously moving cat. He quickly went up seeking space, but then he stopped, turned and posed for us from a safe distance. I almost had to climb the car’s roof to take that photo, but it was surely worth all the acrobatics. I could have left Yosemite then, with no regrets. Looking in the eyes of those animals, seeing them in their natural habitat was one of a kind, unusual experience.

The next day we managed to go for a short, crowded hike and we also did some sightseeing but to me, the encounter with those rare animals will always be the best experience of Yosemite:-)

Grand Canyon to Fresno

It’s early Wednesday morning in Fresno. I’m sitting outdoors at a Starbucks Coffee table, watching people drive by, talking on their cell phones, texting, listening to the silly morning shows and the ever scarier news. They’re grabbing their bucket-sized coffee mugs without even getting off their cars – efficiency, I guess… I’m sitting alone, sipping my coffee and munching on an overpriced piece of preprocessed carbs (leaning the lingo from the hyper-wife). The place is busy, most young people getting in and out in a hurry, some retirees lingering indoors for hours – talking, reading newspapers or just sitting quietly, enjoying the drink.

It’s only 8.00 AM and the temperature is already in the upper 80’s. I move inside, looking for the air-conditioned breeze. Soft jazz tunes flowing from the hidden speakers are topping up the cacophony of noises: steaming coffee machines, people’s chatter, baristas calling orders, doors opening and closing, chairs scratching the floor… Slowly, I work my way up to the comfy armchair in the corner. It takes persistence and time, but just like the retirees, I have plenty of it. The car is left at a local repair shop and I rode the bike to this chain, characterless coffee shop to write this little update.

The brakes needed tune-up to bust my confidence level. Couple of days ago, we came down from the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in Sierra Nevada. Fortunately we entered the magical, giant forest from the south, which means we had to climb the steep, curvy roads in a 7,000 feet ascend. Getting down to Fresno, the road was of a much lesser incline with only a few winding bends. Next stops are going to be Yosemite and Lake Tahoe before visiting Sacramento. Good brakes will be essential, while traversing the Sierra back and forth.

The barista yells another order: Grande Iced Skinny Caramel Orange Mango Machiato! What, the heck is that? All I understand in “grande”, which in the Starbucks units of measurement is a medium size. Still, that’s 16 oz of liquid… Anyway, it reminds me that I’ve written the last trek update in Grand Canyon and in the meantime, we’ve moved a few states to the “left”.

In the Grand Canyon we had an opportunity to see elks, mule deers and plenty of other wild- (and yet surprisingly domesticated) life passing through our campsite. That of course to top the wonderful views down the world’s most famous hole in the ground. We even found the strength and courage to hike down the canyon. Not to it’s very bottom, just to the Cedar Ridge, but we joined the club of only 5% of visitors, who dare to set foot below the rim densely spotted with shops, lodges and restaurants.

The weather was very cooperative with chill nights and pleasant, sunny days. Considering that just a week before, there’s been snow on the ground, I think we got very lucky. Unfortunately, our luck left us upon leaving the park. Headed to the Zion National Park, we decided to stay for the night near Page, Arizona at the Colorado river dam at the southern end  of the Glenn Canyon. The place in known for it’s uncommon views that attracted lots of science fiction movie makers looking for the Moon or Mars-like views. It also draws a lot of photographers, who seek the perfect light down at the Antelope, one of the few slot canyons around here. When we set up the tent, the wind started blowing, black clouds rolling in from the west. The weather forecast for the next day called for rain, a lot of rain… As one of the fellow campers put it, we were lucky to experience such weather in this otherwise very hot and dry place. Well, I guess everything depends on your point of view…

We decided to fold our camp before it gets wet and headed west. Passing the campground gate I turned the windshield wipers on. The timing couldn’t be better… For the next few hours we drove in heavy downpour. Our moods were gloomy, but the car got washed off of the dirt it accumulated on the different deserts.

Approaching Zion, the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds, when we entered the park, it cleared off almost completely, giving us truly unspoiled views of the most unusual and colorful rock formations we have ever seen. Dominated by reds and deep browns, the park is a mecca for all sorts of outdoors enthusiasts. Even though there is a winding road going through the park, large of it’s portions are only accessible by foot. The free shuttle delivers thousands of amateur photographs, hikers, climbers, bikers and boaters to the heart of the valley, from where they have to carry their gear to all the breathtaking places you see on the postcards. None of them complain. Not even the campers, who are offered only the basic of amenities: picnic tables, toilets and cold water. There are no showers, no laundry, no coffee, no Internet, nada… Fortunately, in the adjacent village of Springdale there is plenty of entrepreneurial folks, who know how to take advantage of this situation and offer those services at such astronomically high prices that are only matched by the cosmic views of the valley.

Refusing to pay $5 for shower or an hour of decent Internet access, I decided to develop a few days worth of a body odor, and visited the local library to maintain connection with the rest of the World through their flimsy wi-fi. My wife and kids decided against my better judgment and allowed the local shower-moguls grow prosperously, while our travel fund (read retirement savings) was melting quickly. In the result, even the snakes we’ve met on the less traveled trails were giving us right of way… Despite of the shortcomings of the campground infrastructure, we did fell for the enchanting beauty of the canyon and decided to visit more of them. The plan was to do a little loop, following highway 12, one of the most scenic in the US to Bryce Canyon, then to Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches, except… we felt it was bit too early to visit most of those higher altitude places, where temperatures at night were falling to the upper 30’s. At the time we thought it was cold, so we decided to work on our trek’s itinerary and allow for a second touch down in Utah on our way back east. This time in the midst of summer.

In the meantime, it was time to wash off the dirt, refresh and warm-up our frozen limbs (and other body parts). What better place to do that then… Vegas! We remembered the city from our previous visit. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement. We remembered the city from the pictures we have taken (or were taken of us) during our previous visit. We were much younger then, childless and worry free. We enjoyed the ambiance of the city much more. At that time we were spending the afternoons at the hotel pool, partied at night and slept during the days. Just like any other tourists there.

But the times and our view on pleasures changed (I think that’s a better way then saying that we got older). Walking down the Strip at noon we sweat in the scorching heat, even more trying to answer some of our kids questions. At lunch time it is much easier to find a buzz happy hour then a decent food stand. Seeking refuge from the heat and looking for kids friendly attractions, all we could find were huge shopping malls with their “famous” aquariums…

At least the hotels are inexpensive and plentiful. I managed to wash off the canyons dirt, but after a few days in Vegas I acquired a much more difficult to get rid off distaste for the city. For some people cheap drinks, expensive shopping, glamor and gambling might be the dream vacations. For us, it’s like visiting a different planet. In fact, the streets are filled with extra-terrestrial creatures and living zombies that crawl up at night. Unlike the last time, we’ve spent the three days in Las Vegas visiting local library, cooling off at the pool (whole day, not only afternoons) and sleeping at night.

Twelve years ago, I planned to visit Death Valley. Unfortunately, at that time we were traveling in a rusted, well beaten up Oldsmobile, which among other things lacked one essential feature – working air conditioning. Getting ready for the passage, sitting at a parking lot, waiting for the steering wheel to cool off enough to be able to touch it, I made the mistake of letting Agnieszka read the chapter dedicated to Death Valley in our guide book. Fortunately, it was a cheap book and not very thick. Therefore it didn’t hurt that much when she smacked me on the head with it…

This time, I made sure the air conditioning works well, we have enough gas, ice and water before we set off. Since the temperatures in the spring are still rather moderate, we even decided to risk an overnight stay at the bottom of the valley, 200 feet below the sea level. With very strong winds, it was like sleeping in a tumbling dryer. I had to get up few times at night and affix the tent poles, which were about ready to take off. Still, it was much more appealing experience than the city we just left behind…

On the other side of Death Valley is a mountain range, called Sierra Nevada. It raises steep from the desert – dramatic shift in the landscape – preventing easy access to Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite parks from the east. We’ve decided to circle it from the south and approach the Giant Sequoia National Forest from Lake Isabella. Granted, it wasn’t the easiest of drives – a twisted, narrow road climbing up the hills, causing some of the passengers to develop motion sickness. But the views were breathtaking!

Looking for a place to overnight, we found ourselves going up on a lone road, which 15 miles of narrow curves later ended up in… dead end. Tired, hungry and a bit annoyed, we decided to get back to Lake Isabella, were we pitched our tent on the river’s edge. We weren’t alone. It was Friday night, opening to the Cinquo de Mayo weekend… Fortunately, the mountain steam with it’s constant humming was louder then the drunken neighbor’s midnight attempts at “We Are the Champions”. Despite of lack of basic amenities at the primitive campground, in the morning I had to admit that the setting was actually quite nice. Moreover, since we didn’t pay for it, I simply had to include it on my list of best places we stayed at…

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks span over many square miles of mountains and offer quite a few accommodations. Spoiled by temperatures at foothills, we chose a family friendly, showers equipped campground at Lodgepole, almost 7,000 feet above the sea level. Going uphill, I watched the temperature drop about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of elevation increase. The upper 70’s quickly became 50’s during the day and barely 30 at night (my wife is convinced it was even less than that). We stayed for couple of nights, did a few hikes, never met a bear. Nadia was relieved, Alex disappointed…

The car is ready, all brake pads replaced, rotors machined, studs fixed, nuts replaced, even some other small repairs I didn’t know were needed were performed. Tomorrow we leave sunny and warm Fresno, leaving it’s economy supported by a substantial donation from our travel budget. We are ready for the next adventures, vehicle safe and sound, bracing ourselves for cold nights and scenic roads. Warm cloths aboard, I must not forget the brown paper bags…

Whole Foods or… Whole Paycheck?

We recently visited Phoenix, AZ. I will remember it forever, not because its beauty, but dry heat frying you from dusk to dawn and a visit to local Whole Foods store. It was the first time for me. I heard a lot about them, but since they are mostly on the West Coast and in the central states, I had no chance of ever visiting their stores.

For someone that likes real food as much as me, it was like going to Disneyland for a kid – excitement all the way. I knew that I was going to find everything that I needed, all those things that drew a blank on peoples faces in most regular grocery stores.

I could not wait to get out of the car, we were not even in a full stop yet… not a good example for the kids. Anyway, I rushed inside like it was going to close in five minutes. Passing all the studs that were checking themselves out in the windows I was finally in the fruit and veg aisle. Wow, I thought, fresh young coconuts, what a treat! I walked further to find that almost ALL was organic and locally grown. Now, the prices were a little high. Lets not judge yet, I thought and moved to the seafood section. Sooooo much variety! Wild caught, natural diet, clear water, omega 3 the tags read… but the one particular fish that I was interested in lacked price/ lb information. Well, that is very important info for most of us, right? I looked at other packages, some had it some did not. I walked away since I want to be able to compare prices before I make my decision and a “package” is not a sufficient unit of measure for me:-)

Next I headed to the dairy isle hoping to find kefir for my kids. They prefer it to regular milk, unless we have access to raw, whole fat milk. Anyways, I almost fainted when I saw the prices… $5 for a quart bottle of lifeway kefir?!?!?!?At Wegmans I used to pay just little over $3 or $2.99 when on sale! I walked away again.

Passing by the meat section I noticed a ½ lbs bags of sauerkraut for $3.99 a package. Let’s analyze it little further. In order to make sourkrout you need to shred the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt and beat it until it releases its juices. Put it all in a dish and weigh it down… in few days its is ready. Pretty simple process, don’t you think? As far as organic goes, cabbage is very minimally sprayed with pesticides, so you do not really have to buy it organic. That is the most expensive sauerkraut that I have seen in my life!!!! In this case I will agree with my husband, it was a rip-off.

In quest of a good sourdough bread I wonder to the bakery isle. I am sure it varies from one store to another, but their bakery was very small and had hardly any freshly baked breads available. The ones that were there would probably feed only my kids for breakfast at a price of $4.99 per small loaf. I will not even mention the Ezekiel bread for $5.50 a loaf!!!

I ended up getting few things like coconut oil, olive oil, some fruits and vegetables, icecream… most were their store brand called „365”.

Walking out I realized that there is nothing to be jealous of, we have Wegmans with the same selection of products with much better prices:-)

I never thought I would say this because I hardly ever shop at WalMart (for various reasons), however now being on the road, I have to. WalMart saved my butt so many times on that trip – it is everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere and even thou their organic section is very limited, you can pretty much always find organic eggs, hormone/antibiotic free harvestland chicken, organic carrots, spinach, apples. organic peanut butter and vegetable stock. I can live with that, that is a survival kit that allows me to prepare a nutritious meal for my family.

Having said that I once more realized how I miss Bonnie’s milk, Olde Silo Farm, Seven Bridges Farm and Wegmans of course… Whole Foods has nothing on us!:-)

Mobil- a great gift for every little girls room

Wednesday night our friends decided to thow us a farewell dinner at their new house. One last time we had an opportunity to admire the views of San Miguel together, sipping a margarita on their roof top. Of course we had a great time! Great food, great space and the most important- awesome company.

I decided to thank them for their generous gesture by making a mobil from recycled materials for their daughter Helena.

Materials used:

  • a small branch
  • toilet paper tubes
  • spray paint
  • glue
  • string
  • ribbon
  • pencil
  • ruler

 

The most labour intensive part is to make the flowers. You need to flatten all the tubes and mark 1 cm increments. Cut where you marked, you should get 7 or 8 petals from each roll. Glue them together, each flower takes about 6 petals to make.

Once they are all ready and dry, you can spray paint them on both sides. You could also use brush but it is going to take much longer. Spray paint your branch also and let dry.

The assembly:

Cut your string however you like it, I cut mine different lenghts because I like it to be slightly assymetrical.

Make holes in the opposite petals of the flowers and attch the strings. Once you have desired number of flowers on strings tie them to your painted branch.

Now all that needs to be done is attaching the ribbon on the opposite ends of the branch and hanging up on the ceiling. It is so light that it turnes with the slightest air movement:-) Happy mobil making!

 

Trek Updates

We haven’t had many chances to update our whereabouts lately.

I wrote about San Blas and Celestino, but those places are long forgotten. We had another two stops in Mexico. One in Las Glorias, near Los Mochis, where we had an opportunity for a three days camping experience, almost right on the beach in a real nice Mexican resort (Mr. Moro). The price was right, the amenities solid, the sunsets beautiful, the only one problem were… motorists on the beach. In Mexico, the new rich get their pick-ups, ATV’s and other loud nonsense vehicles and race along the coast. You’ve got to be real careful, as the traffic resembles that of Livonia’s peak hours on the Big Tree Road – i.e. a vehicle every few seconds, which is not enough to call it a jam, but enough to make you look twice before crossing the street. Mexicans enjoy much greater personal freedom and liberties than people in the United States or other “first world” countries, but some don’t seem to realize the responsibilities that come with it. In Celestino, the ATV owners turned the beach into a race track, oblivious to the fact that it is a habitat of many creatures, including the endangered sea turtles. Not to mention, pissing the home owners off big time. Their properties value doesn’t appreciate as fast as if it would, if the amateur races weren’t that popular.

The other place we visited along the coast was San Carlos, near Guaymas, a little south from Hermosillo. Nice town, but has long lost it’s Mexican feel. It’s an All American Pacific resort town, where all signs are in English. Everything is twice as expensive as in Central Mexico, but the relative closeness to the US border attracts a lot of snow birds from Canada and US southern states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Apparently for people living closer to the border, the US travel warnings are not as scary…

The next stop should have been the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, but when we crossed the border in Lukeville, we were very disappointed to find out that the border region is lacking the basic amenities and food supplies we were in need for. The park is right past the border, so is the campground. However, any sensible stores are only 40 miles north. We had to rethink that idea. Do we really want to stay at a very remote park in the middle of the dessert to enjoy amazing star gazing, and… add 80 miles to our trek or we continue on to Phoenix. We chose the later…

We arrived in Phoenix late at night and stayed one night at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, south of town and then moved to Lake Pleasant, in it’s north part. The views were wonderful, but the temperatures were killing us. From 8.00 AM to sunset, the heat pouring from the sky made us feel like living on a frying pan. Unbearable, we thought, pack our gear and moved on.

On Saturday night we arrived in Grand Canyon and that’s were we spent the last few days. Pictures aren’t ready yet (not uploaded), therefore you’ll have to wait a bit for us to truly catch up on our updates.

The next stops will be Bryce and Zion, then we’ll continue west towards Las Vegas, Death Valley and Yosemite.

In the Desert the Beasts Come Out at Night

They say you learn something new every day…..or night in this case. We were woken up in the middle of the night by noise coming from the grabage containers. Rackoons, we thought who else… in rare cases bears, coyotes or maybe bobcats… We were quite astonished to clearly distinguish the sound of hooves on the pavement. Puzzled we looked outside to find donkeys passing by our tent. Yes, in Arizona there are hords of wild DONKEYS roaming through the trash:-0 And there was a big pile of poop to prove it in the morning:-)