You’re invited

Dear Friends and Family,

As you know this coming Monday is a very important day to all of us. This time each year we all pay homage to something very special. We thank god for that peculiar, large bluish, spiky broad pointed leaved plant and its magnificent underground heart. It is a time to say thank you to our friends to the south that harvest that underground heart. We rejoice and praise those artisans that use those hearts to produce the nectar we all love and enjoy.

So for Monday, come help me celebrate this most important day. I invite all my friends and family to come to my house for this special day. I have the glasses all lined up for our toasts. I have the frozen concoction maker all warmed up. Let’s celebrate National Margarita Day.


Rise and shine campers… it’s Ground-hog-Day.

I know you were probably expecting another post about the “quickie” today, but a far more important event in my life has happened today. Punxsutawney Phil has prognosticated the coming of spring.

groundhog-day-bill-murrayFor most of this long, cold winter, I’ve been hunkered down avoiding the frigid sub-80 temperatures here in the Southwestern Frozen Tundra. Last night it was even below freezing… around 31 degrees. Burrrrrr. Really… it was 31 degrees when I went out this morning and I had to scrape ice off the windshield. Double burrrrrrr!

Just the same, Punxsutawney Phil put a smile on my face this morning. It’s reported that he did not see his shadow and as everyone knows, that means an early spring. It wasn’t only Punxsutawney Phil that made this prediction… similar rodents all over North America have made the same prediction. According to sources, Wiarton Willie (Canada), General Beau Lee (Atlanta), Jimmy the Groundhog (Wisconsin) and Staten Island Chuck (New York) have all made the same prediction.

I hear you… you are scoffing at any predictions groundhogs, woodchucks, and whistlepigs make. But not so fast. According to the Washington Post and wikepedia (my bible), the furry fellows have been quite accurate in their forecasts. One source reports that they have been 75% – 90% accurate. Ok… that source was the Groundhog Day Organizers, but they wouldn’t lie… would they?

If the organizers might seam biased to you, the Washington Post adds that AccuWeather reports the rodents have an 80% accuracy rate. Even though official sources may vary… I’m going with the furry fellows… an early spring YEA!!!!!


NEWS FLASH – Al Roker, NBC’s legendary meteorologist (only surpassed by KNBC’s Fritz Coleman), has “called out” Punxsutawney Phil. According to Roker on this morning’s Today Show, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky over Gobblers Knob. An investigation into a rodent conspiracy has begun. Is it possible that woodchucks from all over can be in cahoots together to give us false hope?

Investigators into this are quick to point out that a law suit was brought against Punxsutawney Phil by an Ohio attorney a couple of years ago. The attorney claimed Punxsutawney Phil misrepresented an early spring, and was seeking the death penalty for the rodent. The case was thrown out of court as Ohio has no jurisdiction over Pennsylvania groundhogs. (Source: Washington Post)

Another source reports it was the Groundhog Committee that decided to report an early spring without consulting the intrepid Punxsutawney Phil. Was it a conspiracy… or was it just that the committee in the moments before sunrise was too rushed to check the forecast. Had they already made their decision to deceive the American people… or was it caused by all the commotion and noise of all the hoopla as Punxsutawney Phil emerged.

Or… did they simply misunderstand the utterances of the woodchuck. After all, there was a new woodchuck translator for this year’s festivities. Also, it is reoprted that the translator may have been distracted because he was trying to find out how much wood Punxsutawney Phil had chucked in the past 12 months.

Follow the on-going investigation on your local news channel at 10.

As for me, I’m truly hoping for an early spring. This year my plan is to make my trek to the Northernmost Caribbean (AKA Fort Walton Beach, Fl.) in time for all the Spring Break festivities. Those of you following me for the last few years know that my journey to the Emerald Coast has been later and later in the year. This year I’m trying to return there at the beginning of the rolling Spring Break weeks. I just can’t wait for those luscious white mounds.

Mounds of sand of course… what were you thinking about.



Hola desde bonita Ensenada… Hi from beautiful Ensenada. I’m starting this post from the Starbucks within walking distance from the ship. You may be getting the idea that I would rather have a good cup of coffee than a frozen concoction to help me hang on. Usually you would be correct. But… today my quest is to find a place to buy Rancho Escondido tequila. Well, that is, after I have a decent cup of coffee.

 You see, I visited Cabo on a cruise about a year ago. I should have gone there again this year too, because it’s fifteen or twenty degrees warmer farther south. Anyway, in Cabo I went to a place called “The Happy Ending”. They had a special: two shots and two beers for five bucks. That price seemed to be too good to be true. I figured it would be a very small glass of beer and a thimble size shot of tequila. But no… these were full size shots and two regular bottles of beer.

I didn’t drink the beer, but the guy I was with said it was good. (Bloody Mary stayed back on the boat for this one.) Added to this, I had never done shots before. So that was a first for me:

Ariba – Abajo – Al Centro – Al Dentro… that’s sort of the Mexican version of “Over the lips and past the gums… look out stomach, here it comes”. First, limes were prepared as was a little salt on the back of my hand. I licked the salt… and then it was “down the hatch”. I fully expected to wretch and gag with some foul, burning stuff going down my throat. Instead, the tequila went nicely. A quick suck on the lime and I let out an aaaaahhhhhhhhh.

Yeah, there was a bit of burn, but it was OK. My friend and fellow piano bar enthusiast Laura has the motto, “I’ll try anything twice… once to see if I like it. And a second time to confirm my opinion.” Since the first shot seemed pretty good, I needed to confirm my opinion.

After the second shot, my opinion was confirmed… this was pretty good stuff. On the day, a number of other shots went down. I have since been told that before making it back to the ship, there were some bikini clad twenty-somethings involved. I plead complete innocence. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now the point of telling you about that cruise, is my quest today is to find some of that Tequila. Before I staggered out of “The Happy Ending” we found out that the brand of tequila they used for the shots is “Rancho Escondido”. Ok… I didn’t remember that, but the guy I was with took a picture of the bottle on his phone.

It turns out that you can’t buy Rancho Escondido in the U.S. Hence today’s quest. I’ve finished my coffee, so it’s time to get to it. More later…

OK… it’s later.

Before I tell you where I found the Rancho Escondido, I need to mention, that I really don’t like Ensenada. The first time I came here, also on a cruise, I decided I really didn’t ever want to go back. Well, this is my fourth cruise back here. And I still don’t like it. But since I like cruising, this just happens to be where the ship goes. So the only reason I got off the ship today was for the Tequila.

You can walk to the “downtown” area (and the Starbucks) from the ship. It’s about 3/4 of a mile from the ship’s gang-plank to Starbucks and a couple of short blocks from there to the “downtown” area. I put the “downtown” area in quotes, because the area I’m talking about is really just a Grande Tourista Trap-o. I suspect it’s what the locals think the Gringo del Norte’s are looking for… barkers from every store trying to pull you in to make a great deal on the junk they have. “Come in… look around… I make you a good deal my Amigo.”

There are lots of pharmacias in the area. I think these are mostly for the Gringos Del Norte too. There are huge signs for Viagra, Cialis and the like. In case you can’t read, there’s a superman like character with a big “V” on his chest… ViagraMan. ViagraMan has a large bulge in his pants.

Viagra Man -  Standing proud

Viagra Man – Standing proud

I thought it quite amusing that the “Be Happy Pharmacy” only had mention of Viagra and Cialis on their great big sign… with a maternity cloths store right next door.

Buy Viagra, Cialis and then go next door to buy maternity clothes.

Buy Viagra, Cialis and then go next door to buy maternity clothes.

All along the way there are street vendors trying to sell you a grain of rice, or a little bracelet with your name on them. A variety of beggars are there to greet you as you pass by. They say nothing… just holding out their tin cup and rattling a few pesos they have in it. You’ll also find old ladies supervising little children… maybe four to six year old children. The children are instructed to go to each Gringo passerby to hold up their box and offer “chickleys?” I don’t know if they think this is what Gringos expect or what. But I guess I’m a sucker. If I have any pesos as change, I always give it to someone on my way back to the ship. I just hope that at the end of the day they don’t go around the corner, get in their new Mercedes and drive home.

Get away from this area and I suspect the rest of Ensenada is quite different. I know there’s a Walmart, McDonalds, Home Depot, Ashley Furnature and an Applebees Neighborhood grill and bar. I’m not making any of that up… it’s all in an area where I suspect there’s normal life. That area is about 3.5 miles south of the cruise port.

But for the tourists, there’s “downtown.” It’s interesting to go there the first time, but after that… well, if I wasn’t looking for the tequila I would never go “downtown”. From past trips I knew that there were tons of liquor stores “downtown”… and I went into most of them. But, no Rancho Escondido. They all wanted to “make me a deal” on some expensive tequilas, but none had what I wanted.

I was about to give up, but something told me to try something else. I was out to the edge of the Grande Tourista Trap-o and spotted a grocery store. I went in, wandered around a little bit and found a section where they had wine and…. ta-daaaaahhhhhh, Rancho Escondido. I looked at the price… did a quick conversion… let’s see… 68 pesos at about 6 cents to a peso… or is it six pesos to a dollar or…

Well, it didn’t seem to bad so I grabbed three bottles. When I got to the check-out they translated it into dollars for me… not quite $12.00. In my best Spanish I asked, “?Cada Uno?” The reply came back, “No… por los tres”. No, for all three. I should have brought a bigger back-pack.

Rancho Escondido - mmmmmm-mmmmm good

Rancho Escondido – mmmmmm-mmmmm good

With that I merrily headed back to the ship… passing back through “downtown”. No, I don’t want any women… no, I don’t want any dope… or anything else you’re trying to sell.

When I got back to the ship, my backpack with all the tequila in it went through the scanner. The security guy told me I had to check my booze in at the table and I could pick it up at the end of the cruise. I did check it in… both bottles.

Adios, Ensenada