Tag Archives: Accomodation

Misty Mornings in Harris Beach State Park, Oregon


I knew about the fog but I didn’t really KNOW about the fog.  Being an English person I pride myself and my nation on our national past time of talking about the weather.  In England the weather is generally damp and Heathrow grey with a splattering of sunshine at odd times of the year that excites the nation into a skin baring frenzy.  Occasionally we have fog too, but nothing beats the fog I witnessed over the 4 days spent at Harris Beach State Park. You always knew it was on it’s way even when the sky was a bold and cloudless blue.

Harris Beach

Harris Beach

And when it came it was just splendid, rearranging the view before your eyes, erasing some of the green rocky islands and creating a blinding whiteness and movement in the sky that was just dazzling, swirling around the handful of people brave enough to be in the water and making the crashing waves rising up the beach appear to be coming out of the void.

And then 20 minutes later the huge rocks jutting out the misty landscape start to re-appear again sometimes slowly and sometimes fast.  These small islands are home of all sorts of life including harbor seals who hang out on the rocks placing bets on how long it will take the fog to hurry away to the next beach.  There are other beachs too, drive about 4 miles up the road there are some really deserted beaches full of driftwood where you can roam to your hearts desire jumping from one beach to the next.

Harris Beach View

Harris Beach View

The campground here is great too.  We just about squeezed in with a booking on July 4th so it was max’ed out, but the sites were all roomy with hot showers and even an iceman delivering ice each evening.  There are also lots of trails, albeit short to keep you entertained and the hard packed sand on the beach proved a great running track.

The Oregon coast is a place that I shall come back too as I know I have just tasted a little of the wildness that is on offer and no doubt coming back at different times of the year would bring an altogether different experience.

How to Get There

2 miles north of Brookings of highway 101

Where to Stay

You can’t beat Harris Beach Campground

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San Sebastian de Oeste, Jalisco, Mexico


We arrived in San Sebastian de Oeste on a Sunday after a holiday weekend so apart from a few stragglers hanging out in the town square the streets were deserted. So deserted that a couple of the local kids took advantage of the empty streets on this beautiful sunny winter evening and galloped bareback along the cobbled stoned streets on a couple of horses. Getting to San Sebastian was intriguing, it’s off the main highway down a 7km dirt track giving you no indication of what lies at the end of the road. Having gone there by recommendation with no prior research my expectations were not particulary high but at the end of the bumpy ride I was very excited to find myself in a magical old silver mining town.

Town Square

The town is beautifully preserved and sits high in the rugged hills of the Sierra Madre mountains. In the evening the air was crisp and heavy with the scent of the beautiful pine forests surrounding the village. Time seems to have stood still here, most of the buildings are at least 250 years old and everyone of them white-washed with some of the roofs dating back 16th century. Original stone pavements, plastered mud-brick walls, archways, attics, wooden and tile roofs; all constitute the town’s distinctive traits. The newer buildings are all built to blend into this UNESCO world heritage site. The town just screams to be explored and around each order you are greeted with beautiful stonewalled pathways leading to avocado orchards nestled in amongst mining haciendas and casas along the rivers around the edges of the town.

If you are lucky you might even get accompanied by a local guide. He is not very tall and pretty stocky looking with a mouth that goes from ear to ear but he is friendly enough. Just stroll past his doorway and he will accompany you over the old bridge along to the end of the town where you can get on some wonderful hikes. The guide doesn’t say much and lets you set your own pace and upon returning back through the town wags his tail and settles back down on the porch for a snooze.

Tour Guide San Sebastian Veins of silver were discovered by the conquistadors in these mountains in 1605, and by the mid-1700s it was a large colonial town of 20,000 with wealthy hacienda owners running the thirty silver mines. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 brought an end to the hacienda system with the last of the mines closed in 1921 and leaving the town to oblivion. The Hotel El Pabellón, on the plaza, used to be a fortress where silver shipments were stored while awaiting transport with turrets on all corners top guard the precious metals. One surviving turret is now a cozy nook in a popular bar. The banditos were such a problem a tunnel was constructed from a mine to the garrison to transport the silver so it could not be stolen enroute. As mining operations wound down, the structure was used to store grain.

Today the people living in these mountains support their families by running coffee and agave plantations, raising livestock and providing services for the tourists trickling in by bus, car and plane. The La Quinta organic coffee farm is run by Rafael and his wife Rosa who are the fifth generation carrying on with the tradition of planting, sowing, drying and roasting organic coffee. The store is right at the entrance to San Sebastian.

IMG 6578

GETTING THERE

For driving from Puerto Vallarta follow the highway towards Mascota, 15 minutes of which are made up of seven kilometers of dirt track through mountainous terrain. Shortly before arriving at the town there is an airstrip receiving excursionists who prefer to get there by air. Alternatively you can get the bus or tour with Vallarta Adventure .

Approximate distance from San Sebastián to:
Mascota 54 km 34 miles
Talpa de Allende 78 km 49 miles
Puerto Vallarta 64 km 40 miles
Guadalajara 265 km 165 miles

WHERE TO STAY

My top pick is Hotel del Puente, a 400 year old house managed by 19 year old Sergio Trujillo which has been in the family forever. It has a courtyard and 9 rooms of different sizes. Beautiful hotel and one of the cheapest in town for about $100 peso’s/ person with bathroom. To get there, heading east from the plaza, toward the lower bridge you will see the hotel. Other places include the Casita Alicia or some of the other hotels in town.

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Lo De Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico


It’s always the way that on your journey to get to one place you find a little piece of paradise along the way, the trick is to recognise it before you continue on your quest to find the right place. I was looking for somewhere to be still, somewhere I could call home for just a short while. Baja is a stunning place to stay but my itchy feet were too curious about mainland Mexico to be still so on Dec 29th we took the ferry leaving Baja behind for now. After a uneventful but expensive ferry trip from La Paz, Baja to Topolabampo we drove south towards Puerto Vallarta heading for Sayulita in Nayarit for a quick stop with a plan to drive onto Barra De Navidad. I won’t bore you with the details of getting the ferry tickets but the three key points you should take note of; 1) you can’t buy a ferry ticket unless you have your vehicle documents for the mainland, 2) you can’t get your vehicle registered if you don’t have your vehicles at the Banjercito which is at the port in La Paz 3) you will have to back your vehicle onto the ferry which gets tricky in a large RV. Tickets are expensive for truck and trailer combo ($800 for 8 metres length plus $70 per person). Good news is that the ferry is new and only a 6 hour crossing. The ferry will get you in at around 10pm so head for the nearest town which is Los Mochis, but be warned there are no RV parks open here as we had to just park up in the street with our trailer.

So we arrived in the once sleepy fishing village of Sayulita and felt crowded out. It is packed with eager surfers enjoying the surfing paradise and of course partying plus those that like to hang out in a cool town. You can get custom surf boards made by dingbatz for the same cost for one bought off the peg or you can buy your little bit of property in Mexico at a high price. Real estates agents are two a penny alongside bars and restaurants and you would have no problem finding an apartment to rent out in this funky little Mexican town. There was no room at the RV park when we arrived on New Years Eve so we were forced to check out the next town 16km north of Sayulita, the truly sleepy town of Lo De Marcos with a beach to die for and the kind of laid back ambience that Sayulita must have had when the hippes discovered it in the sixties.

Lo De Marcos Beach

Lo De Marcos, a town of 3,000 is going through continual transition to accommodate the increasing visitors feels positively Mexican. The town is frequented by Mexican families during the major holidays and weekends with some long stay RV’ers campers here. Most of the streets are cobble-stoned with dogs lying camouflaged into the dusty grey cobbles with their dirty creamy curly coats, spread eagled and relaxed. On the rare occasion I need to drive the truck I have to be careful to skirt around the dogs and keep a keen eye on the children playing on the corners, some aged as young as 3 or 4 never wandering far from a small radius in front of their houses, laughing and chasing the dogs who also seem to have an unmarked territory from which they explore and guard. Altars sparkle outside houses. Our Lady of Guadalupe always the centerpiece with her gold beams and ribbons lit by the xmas lights. Old people sit outside their houses which look like shops. I find myself peering into open doorways expecting to see items for sale and then once closer look away quickly realizing that I am peering into someones home. Shops which look like houses are equally confusing selling a handful of items outside their front door. Men play dominoes outside the plaza wearing shirts and cowboy hats whilst cowboys trot pass on their horses. In the mornings all manner of people are selling their wares, the bin men ringing their bells, the gas man tooting his ice cream van style horn with interspersed with cry of “calour, calour”. Street stands sell taco’s and churros, mariachi CD’s and jewelry and like everywhere in Mexico there are always the internet cafes around to make those cheap calls home (thank god for Skype ).

The beach is sandy and wide with , the waves crash in and wallop onto the beach providing a constant background noise. Mexican families adorn the beach in groups sitting under beach umbrellas with picnics but between the major holiday seasons the beach mostly empty. Mornings bring out the mostly Canadian golden brigade who are out for their morning constitutionals walking, jogging, strolling with rarely a car to be seen. When the tide conditions are right a handful of surfers and boogie boarders race out to the rocks on the western edge of the beach bobbing on the waves waiting to catch the big waves. The local fishermen compete with the pelicans for catching the fish out by the rocks in the late afternoons with the heavily laden shrimp boats hanging out in the water resting from the nights fishing. The cicadas break into their singing in the evenings with a variety of sounds that rush at your ears all wanting to be heard. The referee whistle reaching out over the rest of the sounds as regular as a heartbeat.

Vampire Bats

The small pond along the road behind the beach houses egrets sitting alongside the turtles taking a break from the slow creeping around the waters. Iguanas race across the road to get to the pond in a rush of luminous green that disappears into the undergrowth. Hummingbirds fill the air like fighter jets swooping and collating mid air in a fight to the death over the feeders hung from the houses. The birdlife is intense every day bringing a new and wonderful specimen to wonder at. Huge butterflies gorge on the feast of bouganvillias that are bursting out everywhere, vampire bats rest during the day in the roofs of buildings. Lo De Marcos is the place to be right now because in effect the two smaller beaches frequented by the Mexican holiday makers have been bought, well the access roads have been bought (always a work-around in Mexico) and the plan is for the Japanese developers to put up the hotel and the bungalows. The sleepy charm will soon be lost but for the locals there will be more job opportunities.  While I was there I saw more estate agents opening their doors and Lo De Marcos is for sale in terms of property and houses.  The price is going up substantially each year.

If you want to get involved with the local community there is a non for profit organisation La Casa De Los Ninos that is always looking for help.

GETTING THERE The closest airport is Puerto Vallarta; either take a taxi (45 minutes) or hire a car.

WHEN TO GO It is surrounded by jungle and receives 345 days of sunshine per year with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 C) during the summer, along with high humidity, but at night, the onshore breeze. The rainy season is June through September, however, August and September are considered the two “rainy” months. December and January, the peak tourist season, are generally warm, sunny and dry, with comfortable, balmy nights.

WHERE TO STAY There are plenty of places whether RV camping, renting houses or bungalows.

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