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.