Sunday, July 16, 2017

Road trips, dinosaurs and lenses

So we are going on a two week road trip through the western USA, starting next week. We are visiting Santa Fe, the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping in Mendocino, staying in a Victorian Inn in Ferndale, CA., visiting friends in Willow Creek, CA, then driving up into Idaho to visit Ketchum where Hemingway spent the last two years of his life, where he killed himself and is buried. From there, well drive through Salt Lake City, and stop to see the lake, then drive over the Royal Gorge Bridge and then down to Taos for a couple days on the way home. That's almost 80 hours of driving with a few days here and there to catch up with ourselves and rest in very cool places.
I had never heard of the Taos hum until an Australia friend asked about it (Thanks Stace Irving), but I guess we'll have to check that out.


I didn't know all my lenses for my new EOS 80D when I went to Mexico, so I played around with them a little tonight to get ready for this road trip.  First, I bought some dinosaurs to take some fun pictures with. Can you imagine them at the Grand Canyon?  And they are poseable!!!

So I am experimenting with all my lenses and my dinosaurs to know how to use my camera better on this trip. Here are my results:

Regular lens all the way in


Regular lens zoomed all the way out


Regular lens with telephoto in


Regular lens with telephoto zoomed out


Zoom lens all the way zoomed out



Zoom lens all the way in

Regular lens with wide angle zoomed out


Regular lens with wide angle zoomed in



So what do you think? I think we are going to have FUN and come back with awesome photos and videos!!





Saturday, July 8, 2017

Beautiful Sisal

One of our goals for our trip to the Yucatan last month was to explore the beach towns. The map below shows the stretch of beach from Sisal to Telchac. You can drive along the beach to Telchac but you have to go through Merida to get to Sisal.


We stayed in Progreso, on the Malecon.  The picture below is of the two mile pier where the cruise ships dock.  Our hotel was a couple blocks from there.


We drove east to Telchac and West to Sisal. Telchac is nice. We are considering it, but we REALLY love Sisal. It's a long way out there....through a village. But then you get to Sisal and it's what we'd been looking for since we'd arrived in Mexico.


We drove through the town. It was clean and cute.  We found a cute beach restaurant and had ceviche and Sols.




Then we found the road that led past the beach homes and out onto the beautiful beach.


The houses were beautiful and even the second row was nice The palm trees are tall, which indicates they don't have bad hurricanes there.  The palms are taller there than any other beach town we saw.


The day was really windy. I'd like to see the ocean on a calmer day. People were in the water near the restaurant and the pier, but I thought it looked pretty scary out in the water down where we were. But the beach was beautiful. And deserted. Such white sand and so deserted. Just us.


We are really fascinated with Sisal. When we first move down, we will rent for six months at least, and we plan to rent in Merida. But we're going to be seeing a whole lot more of Sisal during that time and we just may end up living there.

I found this great drone video of Sisal that I'll share with you, too....  Dreams are made of this!!






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Where we are right now on our journey to Mexico

We returned from our trip to Mexico just a little over two weeks ago, and we sat down this weekend to talk about that trip and where we feel we are right now.

Actually, we're pretty excited about our plans. We just don't know yet if we want to end up at the beach or in Merida.  Merida is exciting and the beach is....OMG it's the beach. And so beautiful.

As I process the pictures (about a thousand) that I took down there, we'll make some videos and write some blogs about each place we visited and what we think about them. That'll be coming up soon.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Container Mindset: What will we take to Mexico?

Every time we buy something, we ask ourselves and each other, "Will this go to Mexico?"  We often look at something we already own and ask the same question. Recently, for some reason, I've acquired some nude decorative pieces. They just called to me. And yes, they are going to Mexico. I think they will fit into our home there.

 

But we have so many decisions to make. We've done a "big move" once before. Well twice. To Australia and back. Of course, we knew that was only temporary. And we kept a storage shed here for those two years. So we had a backup for things that didn't fit in. This time is not temporary. And we are not planning for a backup storage shed.

But the big point of a container is that you make up your mind what size you are going to get and then, whatever fits inside that all costs the same amount. So you have decided on a price and you fill it up as strategically as you can.


This was our container moving back from Australia. One thing we learned is that the movers make all the difference. When we moved before, we had no choice but to let the movers pack because Australia is very picky about what goes in and out, and for them to be able to certify the contents, they had to pack it. The movers who moved us from Tulsa were awful. The movers who moved us back were awesome. Too bad OSS does not move from the U.S. to Mexico.


The problem with Tulsa is, it turns out, even if you get quotes and choose one company over another, they all contract out to the same movers. That's going to be a problem because we are moving from Tulsa again. At least this time we know enough to get in writing exactly WHO will be loading the container. Not sure we'll have a choice, though. We'll have to see about that.


But once you have a company selected and know what size you are going to use, it's all about the packing. It all costs the same amount. So how much can you get in there and what choices are you going to make? What items are valuable and delicate and need to be crated, like televisions and art? Those do cost a little more to prepare. 

OSS did a much better job for us. They got in a sofa that we didn't think would fit at all, and it's the one we're bringing to Mexico, actually.


I'm not sure if we'll have the option to do some of our own packing, coming to Mexico or not. I hope so, because I have already started. This picture is of our home in Australia, but after last Christmas, I packed all our Christmas things for the move. And I'm not unpacking it until we get there, either.  We saved a lot of our OSS boxes. They are awesome strong and durable. We need to find out more about how packing works between the US and Mexico.

But the point is, I guess, when I ask on the expat boards about some items we are thinking about bringing, some people always pipe up, "We only brought two suitcases. It costs too much to bring your stuff and you can buy everything here." The same thing happened when we moved to Australia. I guess it depends on your stuff. And if you are a nest builder or are perfectly happy with plastic chairs from Walmart or Target or what. 

We have picked out our "stuff" carefully. Some is valuable, Some is not. But we like it. When our kids visited us in Australia, there was a comfort factor. It was still Mom and Dad's house on the other side of the world. We also felt comfortable with our stuff. Lots of it has history and stories. It makes us happy.

So our latest take it or leave it conversation was about tools. We were surprised how strong the opinions were to take them. Probably not a lawn mover or weed eater. Yard help is extremely reasonably priced and your employees will probably have their own tools...maybe machetes...but yes to hand tools, ladders, wheel barrows, and generators. Oh yes, and shop vacs. Those things are not cheap down there and they are often not high quality. You are better off taking your own. Pack tools in a drawer or something. Don't waste space and it won't cost you anything to take them. A generator will take space, but it sounds like it's well worth it. Ladders won't take much room if you have good, strategic packers.

So the adventure continues.  





Saturday, July 1, 2017

Not waiting until Mexico to get healthy: Keto biscuits

On an expat board, I asked how expats' lives changed when they moved to Mexico. We don't see ours changing that much. I mean, we lived much the same in Australia as we do now in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One soon-to-be expat explained that she saw their lives changing a lot. For one thing, they are looking forward to a healthier lifestyle.

To some extent, we too are looking forward to a healthier lifestyle, but we aren't waiting until we get to Mexico to make changes. In fact, we've been trying to live healthy for many years now.  For one thing, we eat very healthy food. I have high blood sugar, and don't want to take medication for it, so we eat a very low-carb diet. It doesn't keep me skinny, but I'm not fat either.

We eat very few processed foods and NO fast food. Most of our meals are cooked at home. This summer we have a great crop of tomatoes, peppers and basil. We also have apricot and an peach trees.

This Saturday morning, the first day of a four-day 4th of July holiday weekend, I am trying a new recipe for low-carb biscuits. We're going to have it with some homemade apricot jam (spoiler-it's not really keto because it's fruit, but it's sweetened with Swerve, so much better than anything we could buy.)

Here's the link to the recipe: https://snapguide.com/guides/make-low-carb-biscuits/

I didn't have sour cream, so I used a softened package of cream cheese. That made them a little firmer, but I put them in muffin pans anyway.  Also, since I wanted them for jam, I added a pinch of Slap Yo Mamma seasoning instead of the salt and garlic powder. You couldn't really taste it, but I guess it gave them just a little spicy edge. I also used mozzarella cheese. Cheese is optional in the recipe.

I cooked them in the toaster oven, and left them in just a tad too long. Maybe 400 that the recipe calls for might be a little hot. I'll probably try 375 or 350 next time.  The recipe made twelve muffins.

They were a success. Nice texture and tasty Great with my apricot jam.  I think this recipe is a keeper.







Thursday, June 29, 2017

Our Mexican Adventure: A Trip to the Yucatan

"I think that was the most interesting vacation I've ever taken," exclaimed my husband.


Well, yes. We didn't sit on our butts around a pool or on the beach ordering margaritas in an all-exclusive. We didn't even visit museums or tourist attractions.  We didn't ride buses to where tour guides wanted us to go.

Years ago, we'd been told that it was dangerous to get out on our own in the Yucatan.  Hogwash. We rented a car and took off through villages and to beaches we'd always wanted to see. We drove down country roads. We ate in tiny Mexican cafes. We roamed the streets of Merida. We met the people who live there and we saw a little bit of Mexico. And we are in love.


One of our missions was to visit all the places we've read about. The city of Merida in the center of it all and I will talk about this fantastic colonial city in another post. The rest of the places that interest us are beach towns.

Progeso is the largest beach town. It's where the cruise ships dock. It has the longest pier in the world, I think. It's two miles long because of the shelf off the Yucatan. They had to go out that far to get deep enough for the ships to dock. It's about 30 miles from Progreso. That's where we stayed for four nights while we explored east and west.

West of Progreso are the small fishing villages of Chelem and Churburna. Many expats live there. Then much farther out is Sisal. Ah, Sisal....

East of Progreso is the fishing village of Chexalub, then much farther out is Telchac.

So that was our range, this trip. We visited all of those places. We don't think Progreso or the "3 C's" are for us. They were a bit shabby and dirty, but beach towns everywhere are. The ocean and the elements take a toll on the buildings. But they just didn't feel right to us. Unfortunately, they probably have the best internet and the best medical facilities.  We need the internet to work and we aren't getting any younger. Progreso also has good grocery stores and some decent restaurants. The Malecon is pretty cool.
Image may contain: sky and outdoor


The towns we liked best were the ones way out to the east and the west: Telchac and Sisal. But they have very few if any medical facilities and we are extremely uncertain about the quality and reliability of the internet connectivity.  We get mixed reports. 

Telchac:


Telchac is a clean, cute little town and the beaches are much better than the villages nearer the pier. It has a lot of beach houses. That is one of its biggest advantages. It seems to have more houses than Sisal, and may be a little less expensive. Also, it has pretty good roads to Merida.  But the trip between both Sisal and Telchac and Merida is a little over an hour. 

And then there is Sisal. We love Sisal. It was the prettiest place we visited in our whole trip.  Its as cute as a bug and the beach just takes your breath away. The day we were there, the wind was high and I would NOT have gone out into that ocean, but I'm sure it's very nice on less windy days.  The palm trees are very tall and beautiful, indicating that it doesn't get many hurricanes.



We also loved Merida, and were privileged to visit several home there. It has very modern stores and malls, but also totally charming colonial squares and cathedrals and homes and barios. We were charmed. We stayed in some very nice hotels there. We won't discuss where we stayed in Progreso in this post. But we will in another. Not so great. 





So, what we learned from this trip is that we might end up in Telchac or Sisal, but we are going to start out in Merida. We plan to move down next spring, and rent for about six months and explore further while we are there. At this point, we'll get serious about making decisions.  

In the meantime, we need to get our house in Tulsa ready to sell. We have lots and lots to do. We hope to make another trip later this year, and we need to really work on our Spanish!

So our Mexican Adventure continues.  

Follow us here and on 
and on 

And soon we'll also have a website to pull it all together.

So....I have a lot to do!










Monday, June 5, 2017

Mexico here we come!

We can't just pack up and take off permanently to Mexico quite yet.  We hope to make that big move next spring.  






BUT WE ARE GOING DOWN TO EXPLORE NEXT WEEK!  

We leave Friday morning and fly to Merida, where we are going to meet new friends and explore the city and all of the beach towns. We don't know exactly where we want to live yet, the beach or the city.



The Beach:

We've always wanted to live at the beach. I want to watch the moods of the ocean every day. I NEED to look out on the ocean.  The cons, however are the fact that the ocean takes its tolls on your home and everything in it. Rebar rusts, foundations crumble, books mold, art flakes away. Wild dogs roam the beach and anyone can party or camp our in front on your house. No one owns the beach...a good and bad thing.  We could also roam the beach on foot on in the ATM we hope to buy.  Whee!


Coleman Outfitter 500 - 500cc 4WD Utility Vehicle





The City (Merida):

The cultural capital of the Yucatán peninsula, Mérida is a compact city rich in colonial history, with a cosmopolitan flair. It has the region’s broadest span of dining options, from market stalls and mobile kiosks to glamorous dining in lavish haciendas.  
  • Centro is full of colonial patio homes with tall ceilings and pasta tile floors.  
  • The North has modern homes. 
We plan to check out both locations next week. NEXT WEEK. I can't wait!!

Well, I have a new camera, ready for photos and video on my trip.  I am trying to learn to use all its many accessories and thousands of features!!  So much fun. The ultimate VLOG camera.


Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera Bundle with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens + Tamron Zoom Telephoto AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Macro Autofocus Lens + 2 PC 16 GB Memory Card + Camera Case



So to follow our adventures, either check here or our FB page:  



Actually, the FB page will be updated more quickly than the blog. It's just so easy..... But if you want to follow our adventures in exploring, preparing to move to and actually moving to and living in Mexico, this is your place.

Oh yes....and we will be learning Spanish.....

hasta más tarde......