I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I didn't have to return the rental car until 3:30 this afternoon so, once I had partaken of the free breakfast - which is surprisingly good and has saved me so much money - I headed down to Bed Bath and Beyond. It's just down the road a-ways and I wanted to get some of the vacuum bags to pack my clothes in. These bags don't require a vacuum; you just seal and then roll and all of the air is expelled through a one-way vent at the bottom. I figure I need them to fit everything back in my bags including the dress and swim suit I bought the other day. Plus I don't want to wear the same travel clothes I wore down here and they take up more room in the bag than the dress I plan to wear instead. I hope they work.

That done, I headed back on Highway 8 going west. I had seen some sand dunes on the horizon during my travels yesterday and I wanted to check them out. I had tried to take a photo of them but that was one of the instances where the bright sunshine and haze on the horizon obliterated what I was trying to photograph.

I love the way there is no traffic to speak of here. It gives me back the joy of driving. I plug my iPhone into the stereo, load my 'Driving Music' playlist, and turn on the cruise control. Fabulous.

It isn't long before I see the dunes and pull off of the highway. There are dunes on both sides of the highway and a sign about two miles back had warned of 'drifting sands'. The exit loops around and back over the highway and leads to a parking lot on the right and the dunes on the left. There's only one other vehicle here and it's parked at the base of the dunes so I pull in along side of it.

It's scorching hot when I get out of the car. I walk to the dune and look up. It's a big smooth hill looming over a hundred feet high. As I walk forward, the hard packed sand of the flat area gives way to soft sand and my feet dig in as I begin to ascend. My flip flops are hampering my ability to get a good footing and I keep slipping backwards, so I take them off and am surprised that it's not hotter underfoot.

Not sure why a lot of these pictures came out with pink sand. The sand was definitely the color of the other pictures.

When I get to the top, the dune drops drastically in front of me, along with one on each side and one ahead to form a deep bowl. The dunes roll on from there ahead and in either direction. It's like being in a movie. I bet they film all the Sahara desert shots out here for all sorts of movies.

It's quite windy and the sand blows from the peaks of some of the dunes. I turn to look back from where I came and it's a long way down. The view from up here is amazing.

A young family has climbed up the dune and, as I try to take a photo of myself with my iPhone (my camera's battery was dead, as I discovered when I arrived - thank goodness I had the phone!) the dad of the family offers to take my photo. Turns out they are from Edmonton on their way to San Diego and came upon the dunes unexpectedly. They just had to stop to see them up close.

As I make my way back down the dune to my car, my footprints from coming up are almost covered over from the sand shifting in the wind. And half way down I hear the most amazing sound - it's the soft scream of the dunes as sand is blown over sand by the wind.

My footprints back down the dune

I love Arizona. (although, actually, these dunes are in California).

You see these trucks everywhere. The government must pay a fortune to keep Mexicans out.

On my way back I decide to go back over the border to Los Algodones, and park my car in the lot run by the reservation right at the crossing. I read online awhile back that the charge to park there is $20 but those people must have had RV's because it's only $5 for a car.

I walk over the border, again just as if I am walking down the street, no border guard or checkpoint, and am at once bombarded by guys trying to get me to buy from their pharmacies, other guys begging me to stop and look in their store or to make an offer on a piece of jewelry, and yet more guys asking me if I need cheap dental work. The streets have more hawkers on them than pedestrians. The thing about it is, if they'd just leave me alone, I would probably have stopped long enough to admire some jewelry and maybe buy a piece or two for my girls as gifts. But if I even hesitate or glance for more than a split second at something, they're all over me and so I just wave my hand and say I am not interested and pick up speed. I hate being hassled by sales people whether it's here or at home. If I need help, I will ask for it. Otherwise, leave me alone. But here, that just isn't a concept anyone would grasp, I am sure.

The guy on the left already has his eye on me and, sure enough, held out that arm full of gold chains and begged me to stop and try one on.

The office of the dentist I was originally booked in to see. I was very tempted to go in and give them a piece of my mind but decided not to just incase it got nasty and no one ever heard from me again.

I make my way to my dentists office and when I get there, he is sitting at the reception desk; there's no patient in at the moment which is great because I have a bunch of questions about tomorrow. I am to arrive at 8:30 when he will put in all the crowns and bridges. I find out that I will be all frozen up again - which is better than being in pain but it means I will probably swell right back up. That's not a pleasant thought, plus I will be traveling straight from there for the following 24 hours. I hope the flight has lots of ice and doesn't mind giving me some of it.

He writes me a prescription, to fill before I leave Mexico today, for a mouthwash that will help my gums heal. They're still a bit sore and will be all inflamed tomorrow and for about four more days as they settle in around the crowns. He tells me he will also give me a prescription tomorrow for some more pain killers. And a pass to the front of the line at the border again. He assures me that I will be all done by noon, 1:00 at the very latest, and that is good because I don't want to be on pins about missing my flight at 5:40.

All my questions answered, I leave with a cheery 'see you tomorrow', and make my way to the border. I am tempted to stop and buy a fish taco at a stand, they smell and look delicious, but I really don't have an appetite; other than a bowl of soup the day after I had the dental work done, I have eaten only breakfast and a bit of snack food in a week. I hear a couple behind me say they are going to stop and have a margarita somewhere, and that sounds tempting but then I remember how sick I got after having one in Playa del Carmen when I left the resort to explore the town for an afternoon and I sure don't need that tomorrow.

So I just line up at the border and get in the car, drive it back to Yuma, and return it to the rental agency.

I am really glad I decided to rent a car. I had so much fun exploring the area and, when I come back in January, I will rent a 4x4 so I can get all the way out to Picacho Mountain.

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