You can see the complete slideshow of the trip (some 300+ photos) by clicking here. Otherwise, have a look at some of the highlights below:
And how better to sum it up than with Sharon's poem?!
Fiesta Mexicana –2014
Deep in polar vortex,
yearning for the sun,
Six planes and pilots, passengers,
head south for mucho fun.
Flying in from east and west,
south and northern states,
mechanical and weather woes,
we worried we'd be late.
Old and new friends gathered,
Sierra Vista views,
Ramsey Canyon, Bisbee,
and that scary spy balloon!
Yellow briefing sheets in hand,
flying weather's fine.
Ten gringos crossed the border;
Ed and Laura left behind.
Sea of Cortez sparkles,
we are dazzled and amazed.
Landing in Loreto,
met by smiling guard,
Three hours later, fees, green lights,
Ed's entry's not THAT hard.
Hotel La Mision,
with ocean views and pools,
explore the Mission, toast our flight,
this Parkwest deal's so cool!
Tuesday, off to see the whales,
huge grays with babes and spray,
we beamed and cheered and pet them,
Marisa's kisses made her day!
Next seafood lunch and on the bus,
Loreto soon to shop,
Till photographer Sharon, asks the driver,
“Please sir, can we stop?”
Bulldozers and boulders,
dust and traffic jam'a,
An unplanned stop of Parkwest,
the next round is on Anna!!
Hours later, back in town,
cerveza, shopping, rugs,
It's briefing time at 7 a.m.
On to Tepic...and bugs!! (Paul kills huge spider in shower!)
Set to leave Loreto,
Marisa's seeing red.
All her Spanish charms no match,
guard searches her instead.
Lunch with missionary friends,
buffet and serenade (“don't encourage them, Sharon” said Stan)
Laguna Santa Maria,
we enjoy her sun and shade.
Biking, boating, kayaking
drinks on the lanai,
dinner with our flying friends,
iguana's acting shy!
More paper work, and then
Hotel Mansion de Cupatitzio
The Park, the trout, volcan'!
Collin leads a nine-block hike
to find an ATM.
Tattoos, Corona, clown cars,
can we do that again?
Avocado soup, macadamia trout,
stories, laughter, fun.
It's what Parkwest is all about,
adventure's just begun.
4-wheel drivers pick us up
In Marisa, now, we trust!
Buried temple, village folks,
then Sharon bites the dust!
Paul, Marisa, Collin, Ed,
a brave and burly bunch,
they scale, descend the volcan',
while the rest of us have lunch!
Laura raids the apples,
glad horses chomp away.
The Mexican dogs will miss her,
another memorable day!!
A short hop to Morelia,
the tower, guards were ready.
Terrain, terrain, TERRAIN ahead!
Someone please disable Betty!!
Casa Grande our final stop,
Deborah Lopez our guide
We see the city, cathedral sights,
our eyes, our hearts, grow wide!
Dinner with cathedral views,
then up at dawn, Michoaca'n,
monarchs await us there!
Another scenic bus ride,
then hop up on a horse.
Another bumpy transport,
we appreciate, of course.
10,000 feet elevation,
we only see a few.
But climbing more and quieter,
we're rewarded with a view....
Of thousands...millions monarchs,
Ginny's bucket wish comes true!
Butterflies on Barbara's hat,
Stan's, Mike's, and Marilyn's, too!
A stop for lunch in mining town,
tortillas, mole, rice.
Cerveza, Coke, and flying friends,
This Parkwest stuff is nice!
Long bus ride back, Morelia,
tell sweet Deborah adios.
One last quick shop with artisans,
Then sleep in ancient house!
Ah Casa Grande, lovely,
with cathedral, plaza views!
Nespresso, tall adobe walls,
We will revisit you!
Feb 25, how time has flown,
in each our time machines!
From ancient ruins to bustling towns,
we'll revisit in our dreams.
So gracias, Marisa,
and Collin, Parkwest Air,
you empower and enable us,
to go and fly and DARE!
Now IFR to Brownsville,
with what we can't declare…
whales, lava, churches, monarchs,
these memories we share.
Until the next itinerary,
when old and new devise,
to reminisce, experience,
and fly those Parkwest skies!!!
Feb 25, 2014
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal, or what we imagine of it.” C. Pavese
We departed our luxurious hotel Casa Grande for a day in the central Mexican highlands, "hunting" butterflies. Mexico's Monarch butterfly preserve straddles the border between the provinces of Michoacan and Mexico. There are only three areas open to public access, and we went to the biggest area, El Rosario, some 2.5 bus hours away. The oyamel forest they like is up at 10,000' elevation, so the best way to access their winter habitat is by horseback, so 14 of us did just that. Our eco-guide, Orlando, led us through the forest and watched, amused, as we stopped to photograph a lone Monarch on the trail. He smiled: just wait! A few more turns in the trail and we were in the midst of tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Monarchs. They posed for us, they landed on us, they covered the ground (so you had to tread carefully), they mated on Ed's pant leg, they suckled nectar from the wildflowers, they convened on trees by the thousands, and well, they basically just dazzled us with their magic, their plight, their mysterious migration, the sound of their gentle wing flaps, their beauty. Another day in Mexican paradise!
1. Avocado trees as far as they eye can see.
2. Gray whales that flirt with you one minute, and reject you the next.
3. Deborah Lopez, a passionate, moreliana tour guide.
4. Exquisite food at reasonable prices.
5. Strolling through 16th century convents.
6. Plazas filled with people hanging out, for the purpose of hanging out.
7. Folk art.
8. Fish tacos.
9. The thrills and banes of flaky internet service.
10. Parkwest pilots having fun navigating new terrain.
It came too soon--my wrap up of our time in Uruapan, Michoacan. The Fiesta Mexicana gang had a great day in the Central Highlands, climbing the Volcano Paricutin, visiting the buried church of San Juan, the new church of San Juan, and many interesting stops in between. We felt pretty macho and special in four 4 x 4 vehicles traversing the lava fields and volcanic hills of the area. We safely traversed miiles of avocado orchards, bumpy roads, and unique landscapes under the safe care of Hector, Hector, Miguel y Miguel.
We've made it to Day 7 of this Fiesta Mexicana, and all is well in Uruapan! It's a beautiful, friendly, subtropical city where avocado and macadamia nuts dominate the menu! After a walk through the National Park and a lively stroll through the plaza central, we enjoyed avocado-tequila gazpacho, followed by macadamia-nut encrusted trout, caught fresh locally. Today we are off for a day of sightseeing: Paricutin Volcano and the Templo San Juan Parangaricutiro. (Try saying THAT word after a bowl full of avocado-tequila soup!)
Update on our marathon reader Mike: he DID finish reading his book on our day of leisure at Laguna Santa Maria del Oro.
Cat Herder keeps adding photos, then taking them down. This web-log delivery method does not do justice to the many photos we've taken to capture this diverse tour through Mexico.
Laguna Santa Maria del Oro has given us great food and lodging, a water taxi ride across a volcanic crater lake with Sergio, and many fruitless attempts to capture a good picture of the resident (and h-u-g-e!) iguanas. Today was one of those rare "forced" days of relaxation for everyone. Mike ALMOST finished an entire book, Ginny sent out her laundry for a whopping $3 fee, Laura and Ed kayaked the lake, and some of us laughed and cursed the uncomfortable bicycle ride through these cobble-stoned streets (jack hammer on wheels?)
The "gang of twelve" enjoyed another starry night of cerveza Pacifico, regional food like chicarron de pescado, good company, and much laughter.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” James Michener
Yesterday dawned beautiful over the Sea of Cortez. A delicious breakfast at Hotel la Mision and a detailed flight briefing prepared us for a 75-nm overwater flight, then down along the coastal mainland to Tepic, Nayarit. Good friends and local missionaries Jasson and Cliff met our gang at the airport, escorted us to a fresh seafood buffet (shrimp, octopus and oyster prepared every way imaginable), then on to our destination at Laguna Santa Maria del Oro in Huichol country. This is a remote resort that caters to Mexicans from big cities, and this is their slow season. So our pack of Parkwest gringos have taken over the beautiful lodge on the shores of Mexico's Crater Lake. I wonder if I'll meet another gringo who's ever been to this place?!
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” G.K. Chesterton
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” M. Twain
Cat Herder (aka Marisa) has been guiding pilot tours in the American West for over a sixteen years. Keep tabs on your Parkwest pilot friends, National Park news and other tidbits here!