Wednesday, February 27, 2008


We are in El Centro, California, just about 15 miles from the Mexican border.

When we arrived yesterday, we had our sights set on what the GPS told us was an Albertson's grocery store. We were pretty much completely out of supplies, with all the fresh meat and produce gone, and nothing left to eat but a few nuclear-winter-ration canned goods. We'd have just stayed in the desert and eaten those, too, had we not also been completely out of wine.

In any case, we rolled up to the target location, only to find that the Albertson's is long gone, and the store is being renovated into a Von's which is not yet open. No problem -- just a couple blocks away is the brand-spanking new Wal-Mart SuperCenter (map), which has groceries aplenty, and was probably where we were going to spend the night anyway, and so that's what we did. I can now report that it costs $175 to spend the night at Wal-Mart -- and that doesn't count the stuff we went back in to buy today because we forgot it yesterday.

To be fair, that wasn't all groceries. We needed a new floor mat, and a pair of new deck chairs, since the last pair deteriorated in the sun and weather up on the deck (where they live permanently, strapped down for travel when not in use). They sort of looked OK, but one of our friends and I dropped right through them at Death Valley, while sitting around the campfire. We also needed our favorite el-cheapo box wine (Peter Vella Merlot, or the backup choice, Peter Vella Burgundy), but, to our horror, they had had a run on Peter Vella, and all that was left was white Zin. And plenty of Franzia, which we dislike. We did pick up four bottles of, umm, less cheap wine of various sorts, for when we entertain (we don't make our guests drink the box stuff -- that's just déclassé).

There's an Applebees a block away, and we walked over for a nice dinner -- Applebees turns out to have a fairly decent menu, with several entrée salads that appeal to us. Across the street from Applebees is a Target, and we had read in one of our favorite blogs that Target has some pretty interesting 3-liter box wine, and so we ended up with a Shiraz "wine cube" that is actually pretty good. Target also had just the right half-gallon pitcher that we needed but could not find at Wal-Mart, so it was worth the walk.

Walking back to the new Wal-Mart from Target involved walking right past the old Wal-Mart. The store is dark and empty, but the parking lot is not roped or fenced off, and we noticed several rigs were spending the night there. Not wishing to overstay our welcome at the new store, and also wishing for a little less light and fewer gawkers, this is where we moved (map) this afternoon. Regular readers will know that we have stayed at defunct big-box stores more than once. This time, we had plenty of company -- I've counted one Airstream trailer, three fifth-wheels, five class-A motorhomes, three class-C's, and two truck campers (including the ratty-looking homemade one), plus us. That's fifteen rigs, in contrast to the four or five we saw in the new store's lot last night.

Several of the rigs appear to have been here for quite some time, and we are keeping it in our minds as an option to just stay here for a couple of days if we need more time in El Centro before moving on.

That being said, I think we are very close to being ready to cross the border. We have an appointment at a local vet tomorrow to have Opal's blood work done, and also to update the cats' vaccinations (the ones required for Mexico are already current -- these are for our own peace of mind). Today I purchased our Mexican liability insurance, commencing Thursday morning and good for a full year. And we've given up on getting our K-1's and 1099's in the mail before we leave -- we're going to head down to San Felipe (Baja), then swing back up through the US in a couple of weeks before heading back down the other side of the gulf onto the mainland. We'll grab our mail someplace stateside in the process.

If all goes well at the vet tomorrow, we will probably head to the Desert Trails RV Park at the south end of town. These sorts of resort parks are not usually our style, especially at forty bucks a night, but we really can use a full-service park for one night before we cross the border. That will give Louise an opportunity to do a few loads of laundry conveniently, while I drain, sanitize, and refill our fresh water and separate drinking water systems from a clean state-side source. Also, we can top our batteries up completely, dump our tanks, and refill our propane, which turned out to be empty on Sunday when I fired up the grill (no sweat -- I carry a couple of small disposable bottles for the torch, and they get pressed into service to run the grill if the main supply turns up empty). Who knows, we might even try out the pool and hot tub.

This afternoon we walked over to Costco, right next door to the abandoned Wal-Mart, and stocked up on fresh meat (some nice New Zealand lamb, a couple of T-bones, and a pork loin), berries, more wine (do you detect a trend here?), and nuts. They also had a nice hot roasted chicken which we picked up for dinner, sparing us a second straight night at Applebees.

With a little bit of luck and a (relatively) clean canine blood test, we should be in Mexico by Thursday.

1 comment:

  1. We've stayed in that same general area - but always at Lowe's as we boycott Walmart - and I SO know the Target/Costco runs. Good to see you guys are on the move again! When you get to San Felipe, stop by Kiki's and talk to George (usually ocean-front). Semana Santa is coming early this year so you probably don't want to be in town for that as every conceivable space will be occupied by someone in a tent.


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