Darrel and I have been on the road since Tuesday -- on our return road trip to Mexico.
Our largest challenge was to find a weather window to allow us to get out of Bend and on our way. Tuesday morning there was still enough ice on the roads to make driving a challenge. But a freezing rain was racing toward Bend -- and an even larger storm was aimed at the Siskiyous; right in our path.
I would like to say we braved the ice to avoid worse weather. But "brave" is hardly the word. Only the first 50 miles of our trip was on ice -- and Darrel drove them. After that, it was clear sailing.
You will not be surprised to hear that I do not have a lot of photographs to illustrate our adventures during the past four days. That is just as well because the internet connection at the motel where we are spending the night is anything but broadband.
And I do not have many photographs. Darrel and I are more likely to comment on the immediate beauty of a view rather than to stop and take a photograph. What I do have are a handful of shots through the window of my SUV driving at speeds designed to escape the Earth's gravitational pull.
To say that Mount Shasta is stunning is a cliché. But it is. It nestles against one of my favorite stretches of I-5. As long as the road is free of snow.
I am almost equally impressed with the golden hills -- more golden than usual, thanks to the state's drought -- of central California with their hedonic interplay of light and shadow. The Impressionist in me wants to pull out a paint box every time I see them. They also remind me of one of my favorite years (1973) that I spent at Castle Air Force Base.
Shasta and whispering hills had to take a back seat, though, to my favorite event in California. My brother insisted we stop at Dorris -- barely across the border -- where he introduced me to the "best burritos" he had ever eaten.
He was correct. El Ranchito is operated by a man and his wife who know their burritos. I had tongue. It mixed perfectly with a home-made salsa that blended the beans and rice together.
The place was filled with Mexican-born truck drivers. I could just as easily have been outside of Guadalajara. And I had an opportunity to put my Spanish lessons to work.
Because we got a late start, we spent the night at a Motel 6 in Santa Nella not as far south as we would have liked. We made up for lost time on Wednesday by skirting Los Angeles through the Mojave desert -- dropping us onto I-10 just in time to witness the manhunt for the shooters in San Bernadino.
We were so close to Phoenix that I could not pass up the opportunity to see my friend Leo. He took off a full day from work to squire us around Scottsdale. It was nice to spend the time at "his resort" -- as he so accurately calls it. Both of us needed the break.
Our border crossing this morning at Lukeville was a bit slow. The customs people wanted us to unload a portion of my household goods and to try to estimate a value. We were then stopped at two other customs stations along the way, and asked the same thing.
The good news is that all of my stuff is now in Mexico -- and we are headed back to Barra de Navidad.
Tonight we are in Navojoa Usually, I would try to drive through all the way to Barra de Navidad from here. I doubt we will do that. Darrel is still suffering from residual cold symptoms, and my right ankle infection is not fully resolved.
We will take our time. Maybe with an overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta.
That is the nice thing about these trips. We can do what we want to do, when we want to do it.
And that is another reason I love Mexico.