Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back in the U.S.A.

After 2 months in Mexico, crossing back into the U.S.A. can feel like you’re suddenly living an episode of Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Ursula must have felt the same way as she popped open a bottle of champagne to celebrate our return to the land of excess and abundance, and our successful completion of 2,000 miles on the infamous Baja Highway 1.


Even places we would have normally considered “less upscale” in our pre-Mexico days (like El Centro, California and its Wal-Mart parking lot), sure felt pretty posh by our new standards!


As much as I missed the serenity, warmth, and simplicity of Mexico life, I had to admit that a bit of decadence felt pretty good again.   20 kinds of toothpaste!  12 different restaurant cuisines..some even with Drive-thrus!!! Big box stores each selling more wares than can be found in entire Mexican towns!

I was happy to turn on my Verizon hotspot again (with its unlimited LTE data plan), and thrilled to resume all the joyous little indulgences of my Amazon Prime subscription.

Best of all, I was happy to again drive on nice wide highways with 2 big lanes and broad shoulders!


Hans, Ursula, and I made our way over to Yuma, AZ for a couple weeks to acclimate back to American life, do all those errands and household chores that we’d been putting off, and to get some annual dental work done in Los Algodones.

Our base camp was the laid-back, family-run McCoy’s Mobile Home & RV Park, conveniently located between downtown Yuma and Algodones.  Not a fancy-pants corporate-run RV resort, but if one could overlook a few old, dumpy mobile homes mixed in with the snowbird RVs, it had most of the same amenities as the bigger parks, at nearly 1/2 the cost.


Our Views also got a bit of indulgence from one of Yuma’s many mobile RV wash & wax vendors.  So nice to have sparkling clean, dust-free Winnies again!


When Dr. Eva Ureña’s office (my Algodones dentist from last year) was unresponsive to requests for an appointment, I decided to try another well-regarded dentist-- Dr. Yilka Gomez, owner of HealthySmile.mx.  Like Dr. Ureña, she was not the cheapest dentist in town, but seemed to have great reviews from fellow RVers and snowbirds.

I really ended up liking Dr. Gomez, and she seemed to like that we shared the same middle name!  Her English was excellent and chairside manner was friendly and caring.   She painlessly performed a tooth extraction and an implant for me at less than half the cost of a U.S. dentist.  So far, so good!

In between dental visits, Hans, Ursula, and I enjoyed some of the festivities of downtown Yuma.  One night, we attended the town’s Mardi Gras festival.  Lots of music, food vendors, and wacky costumes!



Another morning, we attended Yuma’s Rodeo Parade, which seemed to feature a bit of everything from horses, cowgirls, and clowns, to Shriners and marching bands.


We also spent a unusual afternoon at the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park.  While it gave a glimpse of doing time in the wild, wild Old West, it seemed to glamorize the prisoners a bit and feed our cultural fascination with notorious outlaws.  But, an interesting afternoon for sure.


I also got to visit 2 very special ladies during my stay in Yuma. 

One was my dear friend Terry from Seattle (the organizer of countless T@B trailer rallies during the last 10 years) whom I first met back in 2007 at the International T@B Rally in Minden, Nebraska, and have met up with every couple of years since. 


Terry winters in Yuma, and it was great to see her again, share some laughs, and compare notes on our RV addictions (I’m still way behind Terry in number of RVs owned, but hmm, if we’d have to judge it by # of RVs per years lived, yikes! We might be fairly even at this point!).

One other morning, I made the journey up to Imperial NWR to meet Judy Bell (whose blog, Travels With Emma, I’ve followed for the past few years).  Judy took me on one of her renowned bird tours and answered lots of my questions about volunteering at National Wildlife Refuges.  While we didn’t spot any new rare, exotic birds to add to Judy’s life list, I got to see my first Gambel’s Quail, as well as a pretty pair of Redhead ducks.


Judy recently completed an amazing 7,000 hours of volunteer service with US Fish & Wildlife!   A true inspiration not only us fellow NWR volunteers (new and old), but to anyone wishing to give back to their communities, and wanting to help wildlife and their habitats thrive.  Thank you for the fun and educational morning, Judy—so glad we finally got to meet!

The time in Yuma seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.  Before I knew it, Hans and Ursula were pulling out to start their journey back to Colorado, while Millie and I now prepared to head east to my first volunteer assignment at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico.



  1. Sad to part ways with dear friends - so glad you had the time together. Interested to hear about your volunteer work in NM. Eagerly awaiting your next update!

  2. I remember that parade from my childhood. The rodeo and parade were huge events when Yuma was just a small farm town back in the 50s and 60s. I rode a 4-H float in junior high. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    1. oh how fun! The kids in this parade were having a great time, and you'll be happy to know that the 4-H float was still part of it (as well as every conceivable public vehicle in the county from fire trucks to some street sweeper trucks at the very end!). Yuma has certainly grown, but still has quite a bit of its small town charm if you can ignore the hoards of visiting snowbirds!

  3. You have seen and done more in Yuma that I ever will. That looks like a nice RV park, will keep that in mind for the future. Happy to see that you are catching up to real time in your posts.

    1. McCoy's isn't fancy (more like a nice Mexican RV park than a concrete, pristine, USA snowbird resort). But at least they have palm trees and they're away from I-8 enough to not hear the traffic!

  4. Thanks for sharing your blog I've particularly enjoyed finding out how safe Baja is and hopefully your sharing will do the trick to convince #2 in the crew to go there. We have only just started exploring US, as Australians, and now want to map our first 5 months, I notice you have mapped where you have stayed. Do you have any tips on doing this or adding more that 10 places that google restricts us to.

    1. Thanks Ann. If you start feeling too overwhelmed by Americans and want a more international mix, and/or need some time with sailors, divers, and other water-lovers, southern Baja is the place! As for the mapping solution, Google only has the 10 segment limit for their driving directions, but if you look at the dropdown on Google Maps' search box, below your recently searched locations is now an option called "My Maps." Click that and Create a New Map. My Maps will let you add many more location points. If you want to go really wild and use a more techie solution that offers more customization, you might like this post from Nina at Wheeling It about the new open source solution she's using: http://www.wheelingit.us/2015/01/18/mapping-alternatives-for-bloggers-and-new-wheelingit-maps/

  5. An update to my dental work done by Dr. Yilka Gomez in Algodones-- I can no longer recommend her for implants!!!

    I thought since I was in Chicago for the summer, I’d get a crown here for the implant Dra. Gomez placed last February. I contacted her office & got the size and name of the implant, and as it was a U.S. company, my U.S. dentist was able to order the abutment for the crown ahead of my appointment.

    But once she saw my mouth & took an x-ray, that’s when the fun began! Dra. Gomez used an implant from a small company that uses an outdated method for implantation. Most implants in the U.S. today are installed flush at the gum line and then a “healing cap” sits slightly above the gum. After a few months of healing, this cap is easily removed so that the final crown abutment can be placed.

    But the implant company Dra Gomez used recommended installing the implant BELOW the gum line WITHOUT a healing cap. I was never informed of this at the time I got the implant– I was simply told to come back in a few months for the crown. Well, the problem is that after a few months, not only does the gum heal and completely cover the implant, but so does a new thin layer of bone!

    I had to pay nearly $1000 for a periodontist to re-expose the base of the implant and install a proper healing cap. I now also need to wait a month for this to heal before I can get a crown. Needless to say, this implant will end up costing me way more than what I would have paid in the U.S.!!!

    I still think Mexican dentists are great for simple stuff and basic crowns, but I will be VERY hesitant to get an implant in Mexico ever again!

    FYI– when my US dentist wanted to discuss this with Dra. Gomez, suddenly, no one would return our calls or emails. Avoid Dr. Yilka Gomez at HealthySmiles for any implants!


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