Jumping Back into the United States

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After a long day, we have left the United States of Mexico (the actual official name being Estados Unidos Mexicanos) and are now back in the United States of America, ready to resume our Park Hoppers adventure of visiting national parks. We had a marvelous five months exploring the Baja peninsula and cannot wait to return to Mexico and visit the Yucatan peninsula for several months starting in May.

The border crossing at Tijuana went smoothly, and it really paid off to stay in Tijuana the night before (we were very impressed by the Palacio Azteca), cross on a weekend (no work-week commuter traffic), and get an early start (we left our hotel room at 4:40 AM). From here we will spend three weeks taking in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree National Parks. Before we get into camping mode though, we’ve decided to spend the night in Bakersfield, California (where exhaustion set in) and are making good use of the enormous pool here at the budget-friendly Days Inn.

It will certainly take us a little while to adjust to being back in the States (we’ve gotten some strange looks for automatically saying “Que le vaya bien” to the cashier as we left the grocery store), but we can’t wait to pitch our tent and spend some quality time outdoors. After living in the desert for so long, we can’t even begin to imagine how massive the sequoia trees will be tomorrow. But, in the end, we firmly believe jumping right in is the only way to go.

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Our Love of Dry Bags

Our time visiting the Baja Peninsula is quickly coming to a close and today we spent the day loading up the Mazda5 for our return to the United States. As we rounded up everyone’s possessions and negotiated about unnecessary baggage (how many shells, rocks, and sticks do we really need to take back with us?) we were reminded of how much we love dry bags.

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Our love affair with these wonderfully adaptable, completely packable, waterproof bags started way back when Five of Hearts was a baby. We were looking for a bag to store dirty cloth diapers in when we went camping or traveling, and didn’t have immediate access to laundry facilities. Using a dry bag became the perfect solution as it kept both the wetness and odor completely sealed inside until we could run the diapers through a washing machine.

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When we starting traveling full time and were in need of extra space in our overcrowded minivan we turned to dry bags again to store items on the back of our hitch platform. The dry bags easily clip to the supports of the hitch platform and keep everything bone dry, even after driving miles in rainstorms. At about the same time we realized that a mini dry bag was the perfect solution to keeping our cooler from becoming a watery mess. We just put the ice right inside the dry bag and when it melts the water stays in the bag instead of drenching our food.

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Another one of our favorite uses for dry bags is as food storage containers. When camping and traveling we load all of our food into dry bags. They work great to protect food from wet conditions while camping. You can put the bags down on the soggy ground and not worry about ending up with damp or dirty bags. Dry bags also keep our food safe from insects, many of which we have encountered here in Mexico, but have never made it into our food thanks to the tight seal and impenetrable plastic of dry bags.

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We could honestly go on for paragraphs about all the ways that we use dry bags. They are great for transporting wet bathing suits and sand toys as well as cameras, tablets, and wallets while at the beach or out in a boat. The best part is that a decent dry bag doesn’t have to break the bank. There are some really fancy versions out there with straps and extra features. However, we usually pay no more than $20 for a large bag and they last a really long time, just be careful not to drag them over rough surfaces as it will puncture the material. You can find dry bags at almost any sporting gear store or large box store. So, if you are in need of a great waterproof storage bag for any reason the Fives definitely recommend checking out dry bags and hopefully you will fall in love just like we did.

Pancake (and Pelican) Picnic

Note: We apologize about the recent string of picture posts (and post titles alliterating with the letter “p”— likely one-too-many times viewing Mr. Popper’s Penguins). Our internet connection has been tenuous at best these last few weeks, and we are trying to catch up on work. While this post may not be chock full of words, if you look at things from a different picture perfect perspective, it really has thousands.

Tide Pool Picture Party

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A hermit crab dragging a shell across a dry stretch of rock.

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A colony of snails just above the low tide mark.

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Five Ball and High Five “going fishing” with some long strands of seaweed.

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A green anemone

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An anemone out of the water and buried in shells and sand to keep it from drying out.

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Trying to get to the bottom of string of bubbles in a sandy tide pool.

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Watching large crabs poke their heads out of “Crab Cave.”

La Bufadora

One of our favorite activities in Bahia Asuncion, our home for the month of March, has been watching gray whales from our porch. We could spend hours staring out over the ocean looking for the tell-tale spray as the whales surface to breath. However, we have been equally charmed by the town’s permanent blowhole, La Bufadora. In our travels we have visited many coastal “blowholes”, but the one in Bahia Asuncion is the most impressive so far. True to its name, it is a genuine blowhole; the water rushes under a rocky outcropping and shoots out a small hole on top as the pressure builds. We very much enjoyed climbing the rocks around and above La Bufadora, where we could watch (and feel) the spray from every conceivable angle. We’re glad we wore our rain coats!