Cruising  the Mexican Riviera

November 2004

Arco rocks, Cabo
Lands End, Cabo San Lucas

San Francisco

Our trip started and ended in SF. We decided to spend a couple of extra days here at the beginning because I lived in the city once and wanted to wander around and see some of the old sights and renew memories.

We spent the first afternoon meeting with my sister and her husband; Lynette & Eric Chapa.  We had a great get together and ultimately had dinner at Kuleto's on Powell Street.  Originally, they were going to join us on this cruise but had to bow out because of other commitments.

The next morning Marsha and I started out by grabbing a Muni bus and heading to the Exploratorium.  We spent several hours here going though all their science based displays.  We both love this place.  If I still lived in San Francisco, I would be a volunteer at this facility.  It was started many years ago by Frank Oppenheimer who was the brother of Robert Oppenheimer. Robert ran the Manhattan Project.  This place is a great tribute to science and I'm sure contributed to more than a few young people choosing a science career.  A few display scenes and sites around San Francisco can be viewed here:

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Cloud Chamber
Famous high energy particle tracking device that was originally used in the Berkeley Labs.  The concept has now been superseded by modern devices.  Exploratorium.
Argon Candle
A system used to study gas plasmas.  This particular one uses Argon gas to show how it responds to different pressures and concentrations.... I always wanted to build one of these things.......  Maybe when I finish my Tesla Coil?  Exploratorium.
Under the GG bridge
We pulled out of the Golden Gate at night so photography was a challenge.  People on the bridge were waving and of course we returned the favor.
In the afternoon we headed for Green's which is a respected vegetarian restaurant in the Marina district.  A nice setting on Ft. Mason.  Marsha enjoys many of the dishes  from India.

Sapphire Princess off AvalonOn the third day we boarded the Sapphire Princess at pier 35 for our 10 day journey to the Mexican Riviera and back.  I'm not including allot of pictures of the ship because its nearly identical to my previous adventure in the South Pacific.  The Star Princess and Sapphire Princess are sister ships.   The Sapphire is 6 months old while the Star is about three years.

There is some good news and bad news about San Francisco.  Although parts of the city have been  improved such as the Embarcadero and South of Market,  others seem neglected and on the road to more decay.  The North and West side of the city are well maintained.

Santa Catalina

Our first stop from sea was Avalon on Santa Catalina Isl.  Neil & BillPreviously, I'd made contact with an old college friend; Bill Russell and his wife Ann.  Since they live in Santa Barbra, we agreed to meet in Avalon the day of our arrival.  Bill and I use to pull a number of college pranks together while in school and we hadn't seen each other in nearly 40 years.  It was great fun telling our wives how much mischief we got into.  Those were the days.  We only had a few hours but we made good use of it. 
Ann & Bill Russell
Hopefully, we won't wait so long to see each other again.  Maybe we can get Bill & Ann up to the Northwest soon?

Puerto Vallarta

PV was our first Mexican port and we arrived on a pleasant sunny morning. Neil & Marsha in PV We decided to free lance it and just explore on our own......  which usually means  shopping.  We found it more tropical than expected.  Its about 19°N latitude so it's South of the Tropic of Cancer.  I guess we weren't thinking lush and green since most of the Baja is dry and desert.  We're told that it can be very hot and humid here but we lucked out.  The city is built in several sections with steep hills only a short distance from the sea.  Many homes are built on the side of them.  PV even has a WALMART.  I think we gringo's should be ashamed of ourselves for populating the world with the likes of our McDonald's, etc.  The Policia were very evident with automatic weapons.  Saw some nice German Shepards as part of the terrorist prevention plan.  Apollo would fit in well as a police dog.

Marsha and I enjoyed our visit and found the city to be an interesting blend of old and new.   Many of the streets are narrow and picturesque which is why it attracts the movie stars.

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Art along the waterfront
Modern art with a Star Wars influence
One of the most photographed places in PV
More Art

Sand Sculpture
PV is famous for its Iguana's

Marsha & Flowers

Cobblestone Street
Typical of PV streets, particularly in old town
Local Music

Señor Frog's
The sign says it all
The bay
Overlooking Banderas Bay
El Cheapo
I'm always looking for a bargain
Policia & Hooter's
More American icons
Rio Cuale
Small river passing through town
Little girl's
Marsha always find them
Little girl
Mini shop owner in training


Our next stop provided our planned Kayaking trip.  We were looking forward to a warm weather boating adventure  since most involve the cold waters of the PNW.  This was the second time we've been here...... the first was about 30 years ago when Ryan was very little.  We drove down in our new Chevy van at the time.

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Deer Island
Protected island just off the coast from Mazatlan
Sit-on-tops which were easy to use but steering was a challenge
Big strong guys
Sebastian at work
Have to give lots of attention to the young ladies
Marsha & Rachael
Rachael was tour guide and a real joy to be with.  She and her crew made the day!  A very happy go lucky bunch.
Wild Life
Some sea life on the way back to the ship... return annually from SF bay
Gang plank
Back to the ship after a wonderful day

Cabo San Lucas

Our intent was to Kayak here, too, but the arrangements fell through so we ended up exploring on our own.  Marsha was really looking forward to Kayaking as her friend use to talk about this location.  Cabo is a more expensive place to live and stay. It boasts some of the best beaches in the world and I believe it!  This is a "sun worshipers"  paradise with a pure desert climate.   Clearly, allot of money has reached this area plus it has one of the best shopping malls in Latin America.  Marlin fishing is another important activity.

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Folkloric Dancing
Entertainers came aboard ship to entertain us.  Excellent performance something like Linda Ronstad would do.
Puerto Paraiso
Super shopping mall
El Squid Roe
A popular restaurant chain
Goofing off
Marsha having fun
A fishing trip this boy will remember for a long time.  Family from Eugene with 128 lb fish
Passing "Lands End"
From the Sun deck
Mexican Chickens
Well, not really
Lunch time
Lobster, Taco & Beer restaurant.  An unusual &  colorful place.

San Diego

Our last marine stop was San Diego.  Since we've been to their famous zoo and have seen wildlife parks in Oregon, we decided to explore on our own.  Marsha studied the old California coastal missions as a child and was interested in seeing the first one established.  After asking around, we found that they have a trolly that goes within a few blocks of the location and it was very inexpensive.  This turned out to be a pleasant experience and we got to see a little of San Diego from the comfort of their rail system.  The price of real estate will blow your mind away.  Take a look at the photo below.

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Introductry signage of mission
Historical plaque
Front of Mission
Classical view
Made with adobe bricks.. wouldn't work in wetter climates
Condo prices
Real Estate prices in San Diego.  This isn't even waterfront or water view.  Just when you think they can't go any higher.


We got back to San Francisco in fine shape.  I enjoyed making some IRLP radio contacts from the ship.

We had a good time but the ship still had a few bugs to be worked out.  We had a power outage and they made a couple of billing mistakes.  Also, lost some luggage on the way home but it was recovered.

Since Marsha tends to pack everything but the kitchen sink most times, she had two small maglites when the power went out on board.  She went into the halls helping seniors be comfortable while the crew was scurrying around wondering where the engineer was.  She said I was off the hook for her birthday that occured during the cruise.  So, she experienced the spa and personal trainer day after day after day.  She said, "It was a good thing!".  We both enjoyed the onboard  library and technical workshops and craft events while at sea.  Never a dull moment, unless that was what you were after on the cruise?  Marsh went up to the putting green daily.  I never knew where she was.  But we left notes and did catch up for updates on activities.  The ships company even will rent you FRS radio's so you can keep track of your other half if you need to.  There were movies and theatrical productions to be enjoyed.  We were both impressed with the lighting and energy put into each performance.  A comedian was aboard for laughs about relationships.  True observations that were handled with humor and sincerity.  A good time was had by all.
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IRLP contacts
Bringing a hand held along at sea was much fun.  Most of my contacts were made on UHF to coastal stations.  This picture was taken south of San Francisco where the temperature was cooler
Lifeboat Drill
Required within 24 hours of sailing
Crew members
Some fun young crew members
Food Prep
Tour of the Galley
Neil & Marsha
Ships photograph
Marsha at the 24 hour buffet
Miniature Golf
Marsha only did it once that I knew of
They also had a jogging track which we used almost daily
Marsha's friends invited her back on board when they dock in Victoria next spring
Food carving
Demo on food prep
Lazy afternoon at sea
I remember these well from my S. Pacific trip
Never participated...  didn't want to think on this trip!

Revised: 11/27/04