Álamos has a lovely plaza. In most large cities and even smaller ones, the church is along one side of the plaza, and the municipal building, the palacio municipal, is across from the church on the other side.


Plaza and the church

Not so in Álamos. The church sits proudly on the south side of the plaza, sprawling an entire square block, but the palacio municipal sits a block down the street from the church. A gracious hotel sits to the west, offices to the east, and on the north there is a long low building with a portico across the entire front, graceful arches and all. In fact, Álamos is knows as La Ciudad de los Portales, the City of the Arched Walkways.




Shops are behind those arches, but take a look at the alternative transportation!

The plaza has the requisite bandshell along with palm trees, bougainvillea of many colors, and numerous green benches. On cool sunny mornings, old men sit in the sun, talking and smoking. On warm afternoons, mothers, small children, and grandmothers fill the benches. Evenings find people of all ages throughout the plaza.



This is a true Mexican town. A number of gringos have moved in, but they represent only about five percent of the 13,000 people who live here. Therefore, when in Álamos, you are in real México. It is nothing like visiting a typical Mexican tourist area – except there are tourists because Álamos is close to the US and is so very beautiful.


The alleyway is for walking, but some streets aren’t much wider than this.

There are fine hotels and restaurants, a great café or two, wonderful street food, and even an old mercado downtown.


Mercado entrance


Carneceria, or meat market, in the mercado


Fresh veggies in the mercado

A true mercado is getting harder and harder to find in México with the rush to building Walmarts, mega grocery stores, and mini malls, but Álamos has lovingly held onto its old market. It helps the town hold her history, her character. I love heading there for groceries or other supplies, to get some fresh tortillas – they will even sell me just one – or to grab a meal at one of the little restaurantes.


I’m waiting for my ceviche, a seafood cocktail.

Álamos is a designated pueblo mágico, a magic town. The Mexican government began designating towns as magic in 2001. To receive the designation, the town or city must be historically or culturally significant and offer natural beauty. Álamos wins on all three counts. It was established in 1685, it has a rich culture, and its setting is beautiful.


View from the hills to the east


Today there are one hundred eleven pueblos mágicos throughout México.


I headed down to Bahia Kino on November second, Día de los Muertos in Mexico. Day of the Dead.

I went that day because my dear friend Roberto’s daughter, Lupita, had recently died, and I wanted to be there to go to the cemetery with him and his family.


I made it, settled in quickly, and barely noticed the kiss. The kiss of a mosquito.

I’d planned to spend a few relaxing weeks because October had been rough. While walking my dog, she lunged and managed to launch me right off my feet. I’d landed face down in the middle of the street. Bruised and sore, I’d limped home with her and eventually discovered nerve damage in my knee. Unfortunately it still remains.


She looks guilty, doesn’t she?

The following week my partner of two-and-a-half years and I split up (we remain friends). It was time.

So it was I went to Kino to walk, to reflect. To attempt to strengthen my knee and stimulate the nerve so it would relax and quit bothering me. To consider what my life was going to be now that I was single.



I spent the first week settling in, cleaning, repairing electrical problems and dealing with a few other issues. This, after my evening in the cemetery with Roberto and family.

The following Monday I felt a bit off. Within a few hours I feared I had the flu. But I never get the flu, at least not since about 1977 or 1978. That night I knew it was worse than flu, and blood tests eventually proved me right: dengue fever. That mosquito kiss the afternoon I’d arrived.


The Aedes aegypti mosquito – unfortunately it’s in the States, too.

I have never been so sick, so sick I briefly thought I was going to die. Fever, and I have no idea how high, but sweat ran off my body as though I were in the shower. Headache and pain behind my eyes that was unimaginable. Dizziness. Unable to do a thing.

I eventually left Kino when the fever broke and I could once again stand without fear of falling over. I took the longer, flatter way home. That route has a wide lane I could pull off on should the dizziness return. Better and safer than the twisty, narrow mountain road I usually take.

When I spoke to my trailer partners after I got home, both indicated they would like to sell the trailer and I agreed. It wasn’t so much due to the dengue, though of course that factored in. There were many reasons. Again, it was time.

So. Wham! Falling on my face, leaving me with nerve damage. Wham! My partner and I breaking up. Wham! Dengue. And then wham! Deciding to sell the trailer, the place that has been a second home for me for several years, in Kino, which was my second home for years before that.


Then wham-wham! Someone bought the trailer almost immediately!

I feel not like doors are opening and closing but as though I am in a revolving door that keeps revolving into new and different places, different challenges. A continual door, but each time I go around, everything changes.

So I returned to Kino. The cold weather had killed the mosquitos, though I am now immune to dengue. That kind, anyway (there are three other kinds). Note: I recently found out the immunity is only for about four months.

I was packing up. Settling up. Moving out.

But I took the opportunity to walk the beach many times, attempting to slowly build up some of the energy and endurance and muscle tone I had lost in the last two months. I only hope I can manage to do so. I took my walking stick for the beach. For walking in town, the cane I had to buy when the dizziness was so awful I feared falling without it.


Yep. My cane’s purple.

It is incredibly hard to leave this place, to leave this trailer, to leave Roberto and his family who have thoroughly adopted me. To leave Virginia and Bucho, another Mexican family that adopted me. To leave my friends here in the park. Leave the sea.


And the estuary.



And the turtle tagging expeditions.


But again, it is time.

Now that we will no longer have the trailer, I am more free to do other things. For years I have always gone to Kino (five or six times each winter for up to three weeks at a time) because I figure I’m paying for it so ought to use it. Now I can go elsewhere. Where? I don’t know yet. But go I will.


Dawn, from inside the trailer.

It was countdown to departure. I hopped in my car to drive over and visit with Roberto, and wham! A physical wham. Someone backed into my car, destroying the front left side, destroying the headlighs, ripping out the tank for window washer fluid.

In short, my car was not drivable.


Thankfully, the man immediately acknowledged his culpability and he even knew the man who had the body shop – he’d just had the back end of his car pained two days previously.

He held the loose parts of my car so I could get it out of the park driveway (yep, hadn’t made it more than 100 feet from my trailer). Then he and a friend went to get Denver, the auto body man.

Denver shook his head when he saw the mess. But the perp, as I’ll call him, had plenty of cash, thankfully, and Denver has repaired the car. The good news, I guess, is I was stuck in Kino for a few extra days. I am leaving in a beautiful car.

But now it’s time for goodbyes.

Goodbye good knee, I will miss you. Goodbye partner, I will miss you too. Goodbye Kino. I will miss so very much. Dengue aftermath? Good riddance!

Yachats to Gold Beach

We left Yachats, noodling slowly south. But before I go on, one noteworthy thing about Yachats that I neglected to mention: public wifi.

The town provides free wifi in many of the public areas including shops, the library, and who knows where else. No passwords (and no protection) but it’s available for anyone to use. More towns need to do this. It’s sometimes hard to find wifi when on the road, so this was a bonus.

Our plan was to drive a whopping seventy-five miles this day to Coos Bay where we would meet up with a friend. And yes, it took all day to get there.

First stop after leaving town was Neptune State Park and Neptune Beach.

Neptune State Park, S. of Yachats - see how blown back the trees are!

Neptune State Park, S. of Yachats – see how blown back the trees are!

Then the Muriel O. Ponsler State Park.

Loved the ripples in the sand at Muriel O. Ponsler Park.

Loved the ripples in the sand at Muriel O. Ponsler Park.



And of course, a few stops for lighthouses.

Hecta Head Lighthouse.

Hecta Head Lighthouse.

Umpqua Lighthouse. I love lighthouses.

Umpqua Lighthouse. I love lighthouses.

We lunched in Winchester Bay, a nice bay with about a thousand RVs parked around it. It was a bit overwhelming. Its saving grace was the sweet little bay where we found a houseboat-turned-restaurant and split a lunch of fish and chips followed by local ice cream.

Lunch on a floating restaurant in Winchester Bay.

Lunch on a floating restaurant in Winchester Bay.



And we met another little harbor seal.

Sweet little harbor seal.

Sweet little harbor seal.

Once we got to Coos Bay, we took a somewhat raggedy motel north of town in North Bend – the only place we could find that was affordable.

The bridge into Coos Bay area.

The bridge into Coos Bay area.

We checked in and left right away to meet up with friend Louise, whom we’d met a year ago in Bahia Kino. She’s a full-time RVer traveling with her two dogs. Before her traveling days, she had lived quite awhile in the Coos Bay area, so we knew we’d get a good tour.

After a pleasant but brief time with Louise (she had to get to her book group), we toured the coastal area a bit and the John Topits Park and Lakes then settled in for the night. We’d be up early to meet Louise and do some walking and roaming.


Old pier, Coos Bay.

Old pier, Coos Bay.


Morning came and with it came rain. Thankfully I had a rain suit (thanks, Christina!) so I was prepared. I knew I’d be fine in mist or drizzle but wasn’t sure I really wanted to be out in a serious rain. So what did we get? Serious rain. Perfect excuse for a breakfast of blueberry waffles (me) and biscuits and gravy (both Cinda and Louise). And by the time we’d finished, the rain was down to a heavy drizzle and we headed out.

We went west of town to Cape Arago, and wow! A drizzly walk through the trees to some lovely viewpoints, then back through the trees again.

Starting the trail during a drizzle.

Starting the trail during a drizzle.

The muddy trail at Cape Arago.

The muddy trail at Cape Arago.

Rough trail at times!

Rough trail at times!

IMG_2195 IMG_2203 IMG_2211

The trees were killed by cormorant guano.

The trees were killed by cormorant guano.

We made another stop on the way out of the area and saw hundreds of harbor seals and sea lions.


Cinda said they were like writhing maggots.

Cinda said they were like writhing maggots.

Then Cinda and I figured we’d better be on our way if we wanted to meet our goal of about seventy-five miles a day, so we said goodbye to Louise and headed south.


Bandon was our next stop for walking around. There we encountered a small community radio station that is totally operated via the internet.

South of town we stopped for more beautiful beach views including a view of Face Rock which has a long story, a Native American legend. The story is too long for here but is worth looking up.

Just south of Bandon, Oregon.

Just south of Bandon, Oregon.


Face Rock, Bandon, Oregon.

Face Rock, Bandon, Oregon.

After walking the kinks out, we continued to Gold Beach.

North of Gold Beach

North of Gold Beach



Gold Beach.

Gold Beach.


We awoke in Yachats to a gray, gray day. Amazingly, it was our first overcast day in the trip so far.

Undeterred, we had breakfast: fish tacos. Hey, why not? We then set out to roam the town.

Yachats, with only just over 700 people, has a sweet little community garden.

           Yachats, with only just over 700 people, has a sweet little community garden.

First up was hitting the beach.



Then we roamed the trails around town. Yachats trails are interesting in that there are a number of them that wander through town. They are (fairly) well marked and go up and down the hills as well as through the town’s streets.

On one of the Yachats trails.

                                                On one of the Yachats trails.


We did the hills first. Up, and up, and up some more! These trails started on the streets and then cut up the hillside between houses. Some of one trail we followed was simply a trail while other parts had been laid out as steps. Some people along the trail took great care to make the area welcoming and beautiful.

Yachats hiling trail - a welcoming place to sit awhile.

Yachats hiking trail – a welcoming place to sit awhile. 

Another welcoming place to sit.

Another welcoming place to sit.

We then went down, down, down into the town. Have you noticed that everything along the coast is up and down? Even our second floor room!

In town we popped into the local library and also found a small wetlands area.

Yachats wetlands.

Yachats wetlands.

By this time the gray day had turned into a light drizzle, but we kept on.

We visited the Devil’s Churn and a covered bridge.

The Devil's Churn in Yachats.

The Devil’s Churn in Yachats.



Another octapus tree?

Another octapus tree?

Notice the water in the blowhole on the left!

Notice the water in the blowhole on the left!

Eventually, we wore out and got chilly and a bit too damp, so we headed back to our sweet room and watched late afternoon turn to evening and sunset.

The next morning, south again!

Yachats dawn, last day.

Yachats dawn, last day.

Yachats hotel yard from our balcony.

Yachats hotel yard from our balcony.

Heading South

We left Sekiu and began the more leisurely part of our trip. The four-hour drive to Astoria, Oregon, took us around nine hours due to several stops and wanders.

But wait. Could it be? Could this be the very monkey tree that attacked our friend Lori?


Look familiar, Lori?

La Push, on the Quileute Nation, was our first stop.

La Push

                                                        The harbor at La Push.

First Beach, La Push

                       First Beach, La Push, where I saw my first big stacks (big rocks in the sea).

We saw a most beautiful sign there:

“Generation upon Generation the Salmon have returned to our waters offering themselves

That the Quileute people might live.

There was a time once not long ago salmon were many. Now they are few.

Generation upon Generation

The Salmon have helped the Quileute People.

Now the Quileute People must help The Salmon.”


A salmon even decorates the bus stop in La Push.

As we headed south again, Cinda noticed a sign that simply said “Big Cedar Tree” and of course we had to turn. Four miles later, we met the Grand Dame of the forest, an ancient cedar.


She is a Western Red Cedar and is 178 feet tall and nearly twenty feet in diameter.

Though she is a wonder, the visit left me a bit down. How is it all the rest of these ancient beauties were cut down? She is surrounded by forty-year-old trees that are not even a foot in diameter. How old could the Grand Dame be?


The remains of an ancient cedar.

Then on to Ruby Beach. Another beautiful spot!




But there is a little bad news.


We stopped in South Bend, Washington, which proclaims itself the oyster capital of the world. Big claim, but we did see a number of boats and cages used for oystering, and there were a few processing plants.


Finally, Astoria, where we checked into our motel then dashed out to do laundry. Ooh! Clean clothes!


The beautiful bridge into Astoria from the north. 

In the morning we each had an absolutely delicious breakfast panini at Coffee Girl, located in an old cannery building on Pier 39. The building on the pier is from the 1880s. The Coffee Girl breakfast worth the stop, and the cafe has the best view in town.



We also visited the cannery museum located there.

There was a gift shop, too. The oddest I’ve ever seen. Each item had a suggested donation rather than a price, and there was a can near the door in which to drop the donations. No staff. No closed door. Basic trust in human decency.

But the highlight of this stop – other than the fabulous panini – was the incredible sea lion viewing. There were sea lions everywhere! We must have seen at least a hundred, right by Coffee Girl.



We then attempted to visit the Astoria Column, a 125-foot tower commemorating those who settled the area. However, the Column was closed for a three-day minor restoration. We couldn’t even get close because there was roadwork happening, too, and the road up there was closed.


Had to settle for lovely places like this since we couldn’t see the Astoria Column.

So we headed south. We visited Cannon Beach and Seaside, both sweet little beach towns.






We stopped at many an outlook and wandered several beaches, including one that simply pointed to an arch.




We visited a lighthouse and an octopus tree.



We saw harbor seals.




We poked around in tidepools.

The whole trip was under 160 miles, but we managed to be “on the way” for about ten hours. Almost wagon train speed.


We got to our room in Yachats (pronounced YAH hahts), tossed a few things inside, and headed to The Adobe, a lodge/resort with a restaurant on the sea. Perfect ending to a wonderfully wandery day.



We left Port Townsend headed for Sekiu (SEE q) via Lake Crescent.

toward Lake Crescent


It was a day of beauty and wonder, yet there were several disappointments. Our first big stop was a ninety-foot waterfall. However, the road to the area was closed because the bridge was out, and we weren’t allowed to park and walk to the trail.


Mossy tree on the way to the waterfall we didn’t see.


Elwha River, on the way to the same elusive waterfall.


Our second big stop was another waterfall near Lake Crescent but the lady ranger said it was pretty much just a trickle this year. Not enough rain.

So we enjoyed one of the lake’s beaches and loved the beautiful drive.





We saw a lot of these signs along the way.

We stopped, too, in the campground at the west end of the lake and saw huge maple trees. Some towered above their conifer friends. I’d never seen such large maples.

On, then, to Sekiu with a few pauses for wandering and photos.



Cinda loves to skip stones, especially in the ocean. Gotta brag for her here: last year she was in Scotland and won the International Stone Skimming contest! I travel with winners.

When we got to our friends’ cabin in Sekiu, they whisked us away to Cape Flattery. It is the westernmost point in the continental US.

It was a brisk fifteen-minute walk through rainforest to the Cape. Down, down, down. And down.



At the Cape we were treated to the views and also to a special view: a gray (we think) whale was right near water’s edge feeding on some wonderful whale dinner treat.


The place was magical.

But there was another disappointment: my camera battery died. I got one shot and then had to use my phone camera which has a crappy zoom, hence the distant shots of the whale.





Then it was time to head up, up, up. And up.


Cinda found a slug.


And tried to hide.

Soon we were heading back to the cabin.


One of the many totem poles and paintings we saw

But on the way, another treat – a herd of elk!


Then a delicious dinner, lively conversation, and a great night’s sleep.

The next morning, beach time and a wonderful sunrise. More great conversation and it was time to head south.





What a lovely sunrise to send us on our way!


Days Four and Five: Port Townsend

Days Four and Five

We left Orcas Island reluctantly. There is such beauty there and many trails and coves to explore. But we took the ferry back to Anacortes and visited briefly in the town, then on to Whidbey Island via Deception Pass.

Leaving Orcas Island 

Deception Pass is a small channel separating Whidbey from Fidalgo Islands.


It is quite narrow, less than a quarter mile, so when tides are moving in or out, the water can be quite rapid, resulting in whirlpools and standing waves, both of which can be extremely dangerous to swimmers and kayakers.

What names up here! Skull Island. Victim Island. Deception Pass. History in names.

We headed south down Whidbey Island and were shocked by the noise of fighter jets repeatedly flying above us. Once we passed the naval air station at the north end of the island, the jets and noise disappeared. But following the absolute silence on Orcas, the jet noise had been especially disgusting.

South through Oak Harbor to Coupeville where we took time to wander the streets


A little food cart in Coupsville

and drop in on the local community radio station, an on-line only station.



Then we moved west to catch the ferry to Port Townsend. When we got there we found we could be delayed because two morning ferries had been cancelled due to fog, but we were able to board just about on time because we had a reservation. Some of those who hadn’t reserved were left behind.


Arriving at Port Townsend

The friends we were staying with met us at the terminal and guided us to their wonderful home with views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


All the mailboxes for the whole community are in one place.

After settling in, we headed immediately for the Wooden Boat Festival. All I can say is, WOW! Port Townsend is all about boats. Well, boats and beach. And more boats. There are several boat building companies and many people build their own boats. There is also a major boat repair and restoration company.


We downed some yummy clam chowder then began roaming the many docks, each one full of boats.




I think this little one was my favorite

Our host, Rod, built his own boat with a friend this past year, and it, too, was at the Festival.


We settled in for the night then spent part of the following morning strolling downtown.




Great street music!


Coffee, coffee, coffee – it’s everywhere!

Port Townsend has an extremely vibrant downtown, full of shops, restaurants, pubs, and museums. All were bustling. I absolutely loved the town. Beautiful historical buildings, a waterfront and friendly people.

After roaming the town we headed to the beach and two marine museums.




This beauty was in a tank in the marine museum.

Back to the house for fresh salmon and a beautiful sunset.


The next day we headed to Sekiu in search of Lori’s infamous monkey tree.


Goodbye, Port Townsend