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"Sail fast and live slow"
Copper Canyon-Creel
Connie cold, cold, cold
11/21/2011, Creel is high in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain range

Copper Canyon-Creel
When we left Oso Ranch we got back on the train and continued on to the town of Creel. It is quite high in altitude at over 8000 ft. and is near the continental divide. Most of the rivers in the Copper Canyon area flow to the Pacific, but there are others nearby that flow to the Atlantic. It was much colder than we expected, with a freezing cold wind blowing. When we walked to dinner the first night I layered most of my clothes and was still freezing cold (jeans, tank top, tee shirt, light fleece, light sweatshirt, and windbreaker). The next day we took a tour and it was a little warmer with the sun shining (I only needed 3 layers instead of 5!) There are many Tarahumara Indian communities in the Copper Canyon area, and we were shown some of their villages and homes. Some of them live in caves, and we got to see an Indian cave home. They use rocks to make a half wall across the front opening, then inside, the kitchen had a rock wall, and the bedroom had a wood wall, but the middle area was open to let the smoke out. It was very primitive, but did give them protection from the weather. Most of the Indians now live in simple homes they build themselves. When a grown child marries, they build another house next to the parents house, so there are often 3 or 4 generations living in several houses close together. Most of their homes do not have electricity and they cook over wood fires inside their homes. The women weave baskets from pine needles and grasses to sell to the tourists, and the men work in the mines or logging industry and often they have a small vegetable gardens and animals like chickens and goats. One valley we went to was called the Valley of the Mushrooms because it had rock formations that looked like mushrooms with one rock balanced on top of a smaller rock due to erosion. There were other rock formations that looked like a frog and an elephant. There was an Indian village in this valley and also an old church that we visited. The women dress in bright colorful clothes and many of the Indians were coming into town when we were there because it was Sunday and they have a town meeting on Sundays. When we left the Indians, our guide took us to see a beautiful waterfall. It is 100 ft. tall and surrounded by a forest of pines and oaks. We had to drive offroad a few miles to get to it over a very rough dirt road that sometimes didn't even look like a road and ford the river twice, then parked and hiked the rest of the way. The river was lower than usual because there's been a drought for awhile, but it was still a beautiful waterfall. The trail brought us to the top of the waterfall with dramatic views down to the bottom of it. The top was quite wide and because it had many boulders, rocks, and sandbars we could walk across the top to the other side. That was very exciting to be able to stand on top of a waterfall!! I've never done that before. We continued on the trail to the bottom of the waterfall, where there were huge boulders that created many small pools. We had fun climbing all over the boulders and getting close to the waterfall. There were 2 Indian children that were our self appointed "guides" and led us down the path to the waterfall and back up again and stayed with us while we played on the boulders. I took their picture, they were very sweet. All in all, it was a great day, we saw and did many interesting things. Tomorrow we would be getting back on the train and going to another destination and another adventure.

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Copper Canyon-Oso Ranch
Connie, sunny and clear, 70's daytime, 50's nighttime
11/20/2011

Copper Canyon-Oso Ranch
Our first stop was a little town of Bauchivo where we were picked up and driven to the ranch over a rough and bumpy dirt road. The full name of the ranch is Paraiso del Oso Ranch (Paradise of the Bear Ranch). It is so named because just above the ranch are some rocky bluffs that look like a side view of Yogi Bear (cartoon character). We went on our first horseback ride that afternoon and it was very interesting. The whole area is very rocky from baseball size to big boulders and large flat sheets of solid rock. These horses are used to this and had no trouble carrying us over the rocks. We followed a stream, crossing it several times, and went up into the hills. The stream was full of grapefruit size rocks and the horses picked their way through them. Then we got into bigger boulders going up the hill. My horse came to a stop in front of a boulder that was as high as his knee or higher, looked at it, then just jumped up on it carrying me with him, then picked his way through the rocks up the hill! After getting up the hill, we had to come back down and some of it was very steep and we were told to lean back to help the horse! This was the roughest, rockiest trail ride I've ever been on, but also very interesting and fun. The second day we went on another ride, just as rocky and hilly, but ended up at a cave with some interesting history. We were told that, during the Mexican Revolution, when Pancho Villa came through towns with his army, he took all the men and boys from each town, and if they refused to go with him he would kill them. So, when the small towns in the area heard that Pancho Villa was heading their way, all the men and boys left town and lived in this cave until the coast was clear. There was still evidence of this- the ceiling was black from the smoke of fires, there were indentations in the rocks from grinding corn, there were still bones from the dead, and there were white crosses painted on the back of the cave-one for every person who died there. The next day, Doug, the owner of the ranch, drove us to a lookout over the canyon and then down to the bottom of the canyon where the small town of Urique lies along the river. The drive from the ranch was over miles of dirt roads-not just dirt, but so rocky, holey, and bumpy that we couldn't go faster than 20 miles per hour! But when we got to the lookout, we decided that the drive was worth it. It is over 6,000 feet from the top to the bottom and the lookout had spectacular views of the canyon. We could see the town of Urique at the bottom next to the river that looked like a ribbon. Then the drive from the lookout down to the bottom was even worse!! There was a sign on the road that said it was a high risk road- it was narrow, single lane, and zig zagged down the steep canyon walls with sharp switchbacks and often with a long drop off on one side. But the road and the views were spectacular! We had a nice lunch in Urique and explored the town and area for a while before going back up the road to the ranch. This road is the only way in and out of Urique, and we couldn't imagine big trucks using it to bring groceries and supplies to the town, but they do!
The Copper Canyon area is actually made up of 7 different canyons. It is said that this system of canyons is longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon, however the Grand Canyon is more extensive than any of the individual canyons. This area was formed by volcanic activity, then erosion by wind and rain deepened the river valleys to form the canyons as they are today.

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Copper Canyon Trip
11/12/2011, El Fuerte-where we catch the train to Copper Canyon

We left Mazatlan, with our friends Larry and Karen Nelson, and took the bus to Los Mochis. It was a 5 hr. ride, but was very comfortable with reclining seats and a t.v. for every seat. In Los Mochis we found a taxi to take us to El Fuerte. It was a 1 1/2 to 2 hr. ride. In El Fuerte we stayed at Posado del Hidalgo, which is a very nice old Spanish Hacienda style hotel. They claim that Zorro was born in a house behind the hotel and so every night someone dresses up as Zorro and walks around visiting with the guests. What fun! El Fuerte is an old colonial town with a pretty park and town plaza, and was founded in 1564. The fort, after which the town was named, was built in 1610 and was used to guard the river and town. The river is large enough for the Spanish to bring supplies from the coast (about 100 km. away) up to the town. We were told that the river shrimp is so good that people come from all over to eat it. So we had the Langostinis for dinner at the hotel and they were excellent. You can see in the picture what it looks like. The next morning we got on the train headed for our first stop in Copper Canyon. The train was very comfortable, and we split our time between the dining car with large picture windows (and good food), and the regular seats which had 4 seats facing each other so the 4 of us could visit while we watched the beautiful scenery go by our windows. We could also go between the cars and lean out to take pictures. The views got more beautiful as we continued to climb up in the mountains, following rivers and canyons. This train route goes through the Western Sierra Madre Mountain Range and was a challenge to build (finished in 1961) with canyons, cliffs, mountains, forests, and ravines to go through. It has 86 tunnels and 39 bridges and spectacular scenery! It hasn't rained in this area for 2 years, so the rivers were just small streams and the lake was very low.

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Leaving Santa Rosalia for Mazatlan
Connie, hot and mostly calm
10/29/2011

We left Santa Rosalia heading for Isla Carmen and when we arrived at Bahia Salinas the bay was empty. It was wonderful to be the only boat there. It was very hot there so we jumped in the water to cool off. The water was 85 degrees--just perfect!! We were anchored in 15' of clear turquoise water. The wind was blowing 12-15 knots, and we thought that would help keep us cool, but it was a hot wind like from a blast furnace. The wind was from the north and Bahia Salinas was on the south side of the island. The wind blew across the low part of the island gaining heat from the land and that was why it was so hot! The next day we put the dinghy in the water so we could go ashore and explore the salt ponds and abandoned salt mining buildings, but the outboard wouldn't cooperate. It seems that it didn't like 6 mo. old gas, even though Ed had put a preservative in it. So, we had to detour to Puerto Escondido the next day to get some new gas. After Escondido, we stopped in Bahia Candeleros, which has a new resort that we wanted to check out. We anchored in 12' of clear, turquoise water again, so clear we could see the ridges on the sand below us. We went ashore and explored the resort. Everyone was very friendly and we enjoyed using their pool and having dinner there with our friends on s/v Hotel California, who were also anchored in the bay. My brother owns a time share in this resort and I tried dropping his name to see if I could get special treatment, but it didn't work!! Sorry, Bob.
We left the next day and went down the coast to a beautiful anchorage called Los Gatos. It has cliffs of smooth sandstone with varying shades of reds and pinks swirled around and reminds me of salt water taffy. A local fisherman came by in a panga and asked if we needed anything. Ed said that we didn't but maybe some lobster would be nice. So he said he'd get us some and be right back. He anchored his panga on the reef and dove over the side. A short while later we had 3 nice big lobsters. We had a great lobster dinner that night and lobster omelettes in the morning. The next day there were high clouds all day which gave us a break from the intense sun. It even sprinkled lightly after we arrived at one of our favorite anchorages on Isla San Francisco. After a calm night there, the quiet was only disturbed by a chartered power boat who must have thought it was his job to entertain the whole harbor with loud dance music, we headed for La Paz to get some more fuel. After getting fuel, we got a slip in Costa Baja Marina for the night. We had to get more fuel, because unfortunately there has been very little wind and we've had to motor much of the way from Santa Rosalia. We found that our dear friends, Steve and Pam, from s/v Barramundi, were there also. We really surprised them as they had no idea where we were. So we had dinner together and also got together with 2 other couples whom we had met previously in other marinas along the way (s/v Blue Rodeo and s/v Bright Angel). All in all La Paz ended up being a wonderful stop for the night. Oh, I almost forgot, Ed caught a nice Dorado on our way into La Paz. We were so excited as it was our first Dorado. Before this Ed only caught Bonito, which aren't good to eat, and we threw them back. We're going to bar-b-que Dorado tonight!!
4:00 p.m.: Here we are, anchored in 15' of clear turquoise water (this is getting repetitious, isn't it?) in Bahia de los Muertos (bay of the Dead). We dove in the water to cool off (88.4 degrees here) and stayed in so long my fingers were wrinkled like prunes. I love swimming in this warm water! Also, one of the things we love about cruising Baja is the crystal clear water in many of the anchorages, as opposed to the mainland, where the water is not clear. The weather is still very warm and it doesn't cool off much at night. After dinner, about 8:00, it was 89 degrees in the boat and 52% humidity. We had the fans on just to stay comfortable while we watched a movie. In the morning, we'll leave for Mazatlan. It's 190 miles and should take us around 33 hours. The weather is predicted to be very calm, but I hope we don't have to motor all the way.

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Back in Santa Rosalia
Connie
10/13/2011, Santa Rosalia

Here we are, back in Santa Rosalia again. We left the boat here in the marina for the summer and went home where it was much cooler. We came down about once a month to check on the boat, and boy was it miserably hot and humid! We're getting the boat ready to head south towards La Paz. We also met up with many friends and went out to dinner every night with different friends. This is a stopping place for boats from the north who are heading south, as it is the only town for a long stretch along this coast. Santa Rosalia has an interesting history. It is a mining town that got started back in the 1860's when copper was discovered. Two men had a number of claims between them and they formed the Boleo mining co. In the 1880's a French mining co. bought it from them. They built a harbor for the ships to come in and pick up the copper. The harbor breakwater is built from the slag from the mines and it's as wide as a 2 lane road on top. The ships took the copper back to France by way of Cape Horn and on their return trip they went north to Washington and Oregon and picked up lumber and brought it back to use in the mines and build the town with. All the homes and buildings are made of wood, which is different than most Mexican buildings which are made of cement. The bakery is in a building that used to be the company store. The main downtown area is old original buildings from the 1800's. The mines had a poor reputation for having a lot of deaths. Working conditions were very poor and dangerous. Frequent explosions, lung disease, cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and typhoid took the lives of 100's of miners. Also fresh water was in short supply and a poor sewer system spread disease. The early miners only wore a hat and shorts, no shoes. They worked barefoot with no protective clothing. In 1954 the French co. closed the mines because it was running out of copper. There are remnants of the smelting buildings and other mining buildings on the edge of town. The Hotel Frances is a restored French style wood hotel on a hill overlooking the Sea of Cortes. The church in town was designed by Gustave Eiffel, creator of Paris' Eiffel Tower. The steel church was built in Brussels, then bought by the French mining co. who disassembled it and shipped it to Santa Rosalia and reassembled it here in 1897. It's still in use today and is a very pretty church. The town has been in decline in recent years and was a quiet, sleepy town until a few months ago, when a Canadian mining co. bought the mines and are in the process of opening the mines again. The town is bustling with activity and more stores and restaurants have opened. Hundreds of locals have been hired and this will be great for the local economy. One of the men that used to manage the marina here got a job in the finance dept. of the mines and has been sent to Mexico City for training. We've seen a big change in the town in just the 4 months that we've had our boat here.

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Playa Santispac, Bahia Concepcion
Connie, windy-20 knots when we arrived and the next day also.
06/05/2011, Santispac beach in Concepcion Bay

When we left San Juanico early at 7 a.m. we had wind-15 knots from the west-so we had a nice sail up the coast. Then about 1/2 way to Concepcion Bay, the wind switched almost opposite, and came from the northeast, so we continued reaching up the coast on the other tack! We've found that the winds in the Sea are not consistant like on our Pacific coast of Calif. By the time we were close to Concepcion Point the wind was blowing 20 knots and the seas had built up to 5-6' and the waves were very close together. These short, steep waves (that are common in the Sea) make for an uncomfortable ride. But fortunately we were only 5 miles from the point. After rounding the point we had 8 miles of very fast downwind sailing to the first anchorage called Santispac Beach. Concepcion Bay is about 20 miles long and 3-4 miles wide, and has many anchorages within it. Santispac is well-protected with hills all around and is only open to the south, so it was nice to get into this calm anchorage after our rough and windy ride. It has a nice beach and a palapa restaurant on the beach. Our friends, Bill and Kat, on Island Bound arrived shortlly after us and anchored next to us, having also come from San Juanico. We also found our good friends, Leif and Lisa, on Honcho anchored in the next bay. All 6 of us had dinner together in Anna's palapa restaurant. Honcho had met an American, Jerry, who has a house here and invited him and his daughter to join us for dinner. He was very nice and offered to take us and Bill and Kat, to Mulege to get supplies. We were lucky, as there were no stores in Santispac and Mulege was about 14 miles away. He showed us around Mulege and invited us to his house the next day. His house was on the hill above the bay and had fantastic views. His house, like many of the homes here, is made out of the rock that is found locally. It is rustic, but very comfortable and nice. Check out the pictures of it. Leif and Lisa had told us that the whale sharks were in the bay and we were so excited to hear that because one of the things that I wanted to do on this trip was to see and swim with the whale sharks. So the next morning we got up early and the water was glassy and we could see several whale sharks swimming around the bay. We jumped into our swimsuits and grabbed our snorkel gear and got in the dinghy (before even having a cup of coffee!) and went out to see them up close. They were lazily swimming on the surface with their mouths open sucking in the plankton and other small sea creatures. They didn't seem to mind people being around them. They were several dinghys and kayaks following them. They would swim right next to, and under, the dinghys sometimes with their tails rubbing on the dinghy. I jumped in the water to swim with one, he was about 3 times as long as I was and didn't care that I was there in the water with him. Most of them were juveniles and were about 15' long, however there was one that must have been 40' long because he swam by our boat and was almost as long as it. His dorsal fin was chewed up as if he got run over by a propeller. It was an amazing experience to see these magnificent creatures up close. There were 5 of them in the bay with us for the 5 days that we were there.

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06/07/2011 | Michele & Steve
Great pictures, keep them coming!

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