Adios Amigos?

by Bob Sparrow

Here’s us relaxing on our Mexican cruise

Last week the wife says, “Hey, Bob, wanna go . . . .”, and before she could finish the sentence, I say, “Sure”.  And then ask, where are we going and with whom?  “Mexico, with no one else” she replies.  Then I wondered, ‘Is she just sending me to Mexico with a one-way ticket’?”  She says, “It’s a cruise and we’re both going and it leaves on Monday!”

So, I say, “Let me get this straight, you’ve booked us on a cruise ship, which for the last year-and-a-half has been a germ-infested, floating petri dish and we’re going to a country that is rated ‘HIGH’ in terms of risk level for COVID-19.  Is that correct?”  “Yes, she replies, “but it’s not rated ‘VERY HIGH’ and I got a great deal!”

For Linda, nothing trumps a good deal, apparently not even death.

I Googled ‘Is it safe to travel to Cabo San Lucas?’ and found:

“Because of the current situation in Mexico, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”

Not a good start!  I then found a site that gave me the risk levels of the various aspects of traveling to Cabo.  Regarding the ‘risk level’, I suspect that those who are doing the rating may have received a few pesos to make the levels look better than they actually are, so I took the liberty of moving all the levels ‘up a notch’, however the comments remain unedited.

Cabo San Lucas -a beautiful final resting place!

Transportation: (HIGH) there have been reports of people being robbed by the unlicensed taxis. Also, taxis are not metered, so always negotiate the price before the ride.  The public transport is not safe since theft on buses is common and buses have also been hijacked in conflict areas.

Pickpocket: (HIGH+) There is a high risk of pickpocketing in Cabo San Lucas. The risk is especially high for foreigners because thieves usually target them regarding the fact that they have either money or expensive items with them.

Mugging: (HIGH+) Virtual kidnapping is very common, so it is advisable not to share any personal information while in Cabo San Lucas. Also, criminals tend to kidnap people who wear expensive jewelry or watches and who show off with their latest gadgets.

Terrorism: (MEDIUM) Although Mexico does not report recent attacks, you should always be watchful.

Scams: (HIGH) Be watchful of people who offer you help, since they might ask for money for that.

Women Traveler Risk: (MEDIUM) There have been reports of sexual harassment in bars and nightclubs and assaults when traveling on public transport. Females should take precaution, even in areas close to hotels, especially after dark.

Drug-related violence: (MEDIUM) Drug-related violence is occurring less in Cabo San Lucas as the Mexican government makes a lot of effort to stop the crime and protect major tourist destinations from thieves and other criminals.

Natural disasters: (MEDIUM) hurricanes between July and September, earthquakes and volcanoes.  There are some areas, like Land’s End, the tip of the peninsula, where the beaches are not safe for swimming due to the currents.

So, not only am I going to a country that doesn’t really have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, I’m captive on a boat with a gang of partying, non-social-distancing drunks.  Sounds like a relaxing get-away to me!!!  But “Look at the beautiful ship”, says Linda.

Grand Princess

So, while you’re reading this blog in the comforts of your own home, having a nice cup of coffee or a shot of tequila – whatever gets you started in the morning – I may be in the Cabo San Lucas hospital, jail, morgue or quarantined, albeit on a beautiful ship, for the next two weeks.  And, wouldn’t you know it, my last hope of missing this cruise was lost when I tested ‘Negative’ for Covid!

If this is my last blog, I’d like to thank all you subscribers for your loyalty over the last ten years, especially those who take the time to respond frequently.  Sister, Suzanne, it’s been a great pleasure to be part of this ‘homage to our father’ with you. I suppose it’s only right that I should succumb to the ‘travel bug’?

Hasta Luego?

THE LONGER ROAD HOME

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Before I begin my tale about the second half of our visit to Sun Valley, I have to acknowledge our sharp-eyed subscriber (and childhood neighbor), John Thomas, for pointing out that in my description of our drive up to Sun Valley I said we traveled on Highway 95.  I don’t’ know why I was confused, we’ve made that trek at least 20 times.  Anyway, it was Highway 93 that took us through the lovely town of Ely, Nevada.  93, 95…I never was any good at math.

Marilyn at the North Fork

When I left off last time the snow had begun to fall in Idaho, dusting the mountain tops and causing the trees to begin turning luscious shades of gold and orange.  We decided to venture a bit north, up to Redfish Lake, which is always a serene place in which to observe nature.  Redfish is 60 miles north of Sun Valley and you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful drive in the United States.    The first landmark one encounters is less than 10 miles north of town – the North Fork Store.  That may not sound too exciting, until you learn it is where Marilyn Monroe filmed “Bus Stop” in 1956.  It is still a going concern, with a café and gas station, and remains popular with film aficionados.

             Galena Overlook

Half-way through our journey north is another spectacular spot, Galena Summit.  If you stop at the overlook turn-out you can see views of the Sawtooth range to the northwest and the headwaters of the Salmon River.  At a whopping height of 8,701 feet, the view is simply unbeatable.  The Sawtooth Valley below is approximately 15 miles wide and 30 miles long…and you can see all of it from the overlook.  It’s hard to imagine as you spot the headwaters of the Salmon that after the river leaves the Sawtooth Valley it will then travel 900 miles to reach the Pacific Ocean.

             Redfish Lake

Finally, we reach our destination, Redfish Lake, and it does not disappoint.  Somehow all our ridiculous little problems melt away in the presence of such spectacular scenery.  We were surprised by how many people were there, although given how crowded Sun Valley had been we should have expected it.  There is a lodge and small restaurant, along with an outdoor grill and they all seemed to be at capacity.  Still…as we walked the trail that wends around the lake we were reminded of why we keep coming back every year.  I love Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes in California, but there is nothing like the serenity that comes from viewing Redfish.

                 Downtown Kanab

After our visit to Redfish we ventured back to Sun Valley for a few more days before heading home.  We decided to drive the interstates most of the way.  That was my bright idea and as much as I hate to admit it, I was wrong.  It wasn’t a drive home, it was a death march.  First, we drove down to Twin Falls, Idaho, just 90 minutes from Sun Valley, to get a jump start on the long stretch ahead of us the following day.  That required an additional night in a hotel, with all the joys that go along with uncomfortable pillows and people banging doors at midnight.  What was I thinking?  The next day we drove from Twin Falls, through Salt Lake City, down to Kanab, Utah.  Kanab is a beautiful little town, but after TEN hours in a car, I couldn’t really appreciate anything except terra firma.  Finally, on the third day of our trek home, Dash the Wonder Dog decided to make life interesting by getting sick.  We took him to the vet when we got home and turns out he picked up a bacterial infection, plus the vet said that she sees some dogs get very stressed out from very long car rides.

Mom, please don’t make me get back in that car

Well, guess what?  I also get stressed out from long car rides.  I told my husband when we arrived home that he could not use the words “car” or “ride”, especially if they were in the same sentence.  I’ve already started looking for places to visit next year that are less than five hours from home.  So we may have seen Sun Valley for the last time, but who knows what next year will bring.  One thing I’ve learned from the COVID pandemic – don’t plan too far ahead.

 

Water, Water Everywhere, But . . .

by Bob Sparrow

I take you back to the world-wide ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis in 1894’.  Yes, the proliferation of horse manure and the inability to remove it from the streets was considered the greatest obstacle to urban development at the turn of the century.  An article in the London Times stated,

“In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.”

 Having the luxury of hindsight, we now know that technology, in the form of the proliferation of the automobile, solved this problem.

Why, you ask, I am writing about horseshit?

It seems to me that we have a similar problem today.  Not with horseshit, but with water. Particularly in California where we are experiencing severe drought conditions and devastating fires.  It occurred to me, on my flight to Hawaii last month, that there is a hell of a lot of water in the Pacific Ocean, and if my geography serves me, California has over 800 miles of coastline that abuts to this salty water supply.  I know I’m not breaking news here and there have been attempts at ‘desalination’, but for my money, and I pay a healthy amount of taxes in this state next to the Pacific, we’re literally doing nothing serious to prevent the horseshit from piling up.

Several of today’s solutions seem to be akin to how people were looking at the horseshit problem in 1894.  They are:

Desalination process

Desalination – costly, increases fossil fuel dependence, increases greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbates climate change, threatens marine life, blah, blah, blah.  Change the process!

Pipelines – We get oil to California from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Africa (not by pipelines, but by ship – I’m simply making the point that if we really want something we’ll go anywhere in the world to get it); today we import most of our oil from Canada and over 90% of that oil comes via a pipeline.  So why isn’t there a ‘pipeline’ sending some of the excess water we get in Washington and Oregon, to California?  The simple answer is that today, water does not have the same economic panache as oil.  Oil keeps most of our vehicles and industries moving, water only keep us moving.

Seed the clouds – expensive, requires the use of potentially harmful chemicals, could create other weather problems, depends on atmospheric conditions, unknown long-term effect.  Stop wasting your time!

Making water – it’s just two elements, right? Hydrogen and oxygen, which are both plentiful in our atmosphere.  So why not just ‘make water’?    Because just mixing hydrogen and oxygen together doesn’t make water – to join them together you need energy – lots of it.  So, if we solve the energy problem have we’ve solved the water problem?

To be sure, this is not just a California problem, it’s worldwide, in fact we already have a horseshitesque quote from another country that is surrounded on three sides by water:

“There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today”   

Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Aarhus University, Denmark                                                             

So you’re telling me that we can put people on the moon, create driverless cars, get stuff we ordered from Amazon delivered the next day, but we can’t find a way to effectively use a resource that covers two-thirds of our earth?!!!

Horseshit!!!

And speaking of horseshit, if we only used a small percentage of the money our government wastes on really stupid stuff (possibly my next blog rant) to solve our ‘water problem’, we’d have it fixed by Christmas.