Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Each time we go we learn a bit more about the process, and it's fun to share the experience with our fellow campers. We blogged about it last year when we visited so I didn't take as many pictures since information and pictures can be found at this link.
During our visit this year we learned more and of course we purchased more mezcal. Last year we were told by Don Jesus, the patron of the operation, that he can tell if the mezcal is just right by looking at the bubbles. This year he demonstrated how that's done. Long evergreen needles found in the area are bent in a loop, similar to a whisk. A portion of the freshly distilled mezcal is poured into a small bowl that looks like a coconut shell and is whisked briskly. If there are no bubbles, the mezcal is ready. If there are many bubbles or small bubbles adjustments are made. As near as we could tell it mostly has to do with the temperature of the fermented mash being cooked.
The mash is cooked for about 12 hours and then another batch is started. All of this is constantly tended 24 hours a day, taking about two weeks from start to finish. Approximately 500 liters of mezcal are produced each time, beginning with cooking the pinas in a deep, rock-lined pit....
Some of the above information is a bit different than our previous post in January 2012 as we have learned more and clarified a few things. There may be even more changes next time we visit.
There are some fellow RVers here at Hacienda Contreras that went to the still with us and have their own stories to tell about our visit. Unlike me, they blog on a regular basis and have some very impressive blogs with more to share about their travels in Mexico and other parts of the world.
Check them out at:
And some more links from Brian with info about mezcal and tequila-
Another beverage similar to mezcal and tequila is sotol, which is produced only in the state of Chihuahua from a wild plant
One of the websites with a simple basic explanation of mezcal was added to the following website by a guy who has a mezcal distillery in Oaxaca. He's an American who also has an RV park for small RVs, but you must make a reservation and stay a long time.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
We are now at Hacienda Contreras in Valle de Juarez, our destination for the holidays. The park is looking great and has quite a few rigs with more to come. We are seeing some old friends as well as making new friends, some of whom we have known via the internet but are just now meeting in person. Fun for us!
|Overview of our route to Hacienda Contreras in Valle de Juarez|
|Laredo to Matehuala|
|Matehuala to San Miguel de Allende|
|San Miguel de Allende to Roca Azul (Jocotopec)|
|Roca Azul to Hacienda Contreras (Valle de Juarez)|
Sunday, November 18, 2012
We arrived back in Fountain Hills at the beginning of October this year, a bit early for us but we had some medical appointments scheduled for that time period.
We usually stay here for a month or two in the spring and a month or two in the fall. It's a time for us to stop for a bit and get caught up. Tilly loves having a yard and enjoys having a routine. We start each day with a walk around the fountain that gave Fountain Hills its name.
Fountain Park is in a beautiful setting and a brisk walk is a great way to begin the day. We have seen coyotes and javelinas as well as a large variety of birds and waterfowl. One of our favorites is the hooded merganser which has some unusual coloring.
We get some striking sunset views from our patio.
We store the Bus at an RV park on theFort McDowell Reservation, which is about 5 miles from the house. Very convenient. We have a nice view of the Four Peaks rising above the desert when we drive over to get the Bus.
Most of our time is spent on projects and maintenance on the Bus, maintenance on ourselves, and catching up with friends. We're only ten minutes away from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and feel fortunate to be part of their excellent health care system.
At this point we seem to be almost caught up and are preparing for our winter in Mexico. We will host Thanksgiving at our place this year. We will be joined by our friends Judy and Jim who we visited in Washington state this summer and who winter in this area, and our friends Kathy and Dan will be flying in from San Francisco. Should be fun!
We plan to leave Fountain Hills shortly after Thanksgiving and work our way across New Mexico and Texas to the Columbia Crossing north of Laredo. After stops in San Miguel de Allende and the Chapala area we hope to be at Hacienda Contreras once again for the holidays.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
We love returning to this area and always seem to have some new adventures. Santa Rosa was a new stop for us and we liked it a lot. We were centrally located in our spot at the Sonoma Country Fairgrounds. Among other things we toured some of the many wineries in the area. Most of them were dog-friendly but Tilly wasn't impressed.
Our next stop was Petaluma which is about 35 miles north of San Francisco. From there we were able to take the car into SF. Our friends Kathy and Dan moved there from Santa Barbara and are leasing a condo in the North Beach area. It's a great location within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero, Washington Square and many other interesting areas. And they have off-street parking for us which is a huge plus!
It only took a minute to walk to this view that included Alcatraz and the Golden Gate, so it was easy to bring along some refreshment. It was really fun to have our own personal tour guides while there.
Friday, September 21, 2012
It would be a bit of an understatement to write that we had an amazing experience today. It was one of those magical moments that just seem to happen when everything falls into place.
For the past few weeks much of the news in the L.A. area has focused on the final journey of the Space Shuttle Endeavor to its new home at the California Science Center. Of course we thought it would be pretty cool to see the shuttle on its journey, but never really thought about actually being able to see it. Yesterday we realized that we were in the area that it would pass over and we started to do some research. The news said that one of the flight paths of the shuttle would include a low flyover at Vandenberg AFB which is about 30 miles from Lake Cachuma, where we are currently parked. A little more research turned up a suggestion for a good place to watch the shuttle. The clue was to find the corner of Stardust and Moonglow in Vandenberg Village. I don't know who figured it out, but it turned out to be the perfect spot!
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
We had a pretty interesting trip down the coast from Oregon to northern California and came across some totally unexpected things. The coast is beautiful with the steep cliffs, uplifted rocks and pounding surf.
I picked up a tourist guide which listed different things to see along Highway 101. One of them was the 'dolly dock' in Port Orford which is one of only two 'dolly docks' in the U.S. (the other one is in Los Angeles) - and only six in the world - where gigantic hoists lift the vessels in and out of the water each day. The harbor area is too shallow for safe mooring. When not on the ocean, the boats are parked in rows on the dock and cradled in custom-made trailers that are easily pulled around by pickup trucks. We didn't really think we would have an opportunity to see this process in action, but as we were driving through Port Orford we saw a road with the words 'Ocean View' printed on it and of course had to check it out. We were in luck as they were pulling a commercial fishing boat out a few minutes after we pulled in. Pretty amazing and very efficient.
We wanted to spend some time exploring the different parts of Redwood National Park, which also encompasses some of California's State Parks. We weren't sure what the best spot was to have as our home base, but decided on Klamath, California since it seemed to be more or less central to what we wanted to see. Good choice as it turned out. The redwoods were everything we expected and once again we were so happy to see another one of our treasured natural resources being protected.
The redwood trees are the world's tallest living trees. They grow from seeds the size of a tomato seed, weigh up to 500 tons and stand taller than the Statue of Liberty.
One of noteworthy natural features of Redwood National Park is its herd of Roosevelt Elk. They exist in significant numbers now but the Roosevelt Elk approached extinction at one point. In the early 20th century no more than a few dozen, maybe as few as 1 or 2, still existed in California. The only remaining herd made its stand in the area encompassed by Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and is now thriving. Herds of elk were visible in meadows, and some were even napping in one of the picnic areas. This guy had a pretty good rack on him and seemed to be enjoying snoozing in the sun.
The other great part about being in Klamath was the Salmon Festival. We just happened to be there at the right time and totally enjoyed it. The festival is sponsored by the Yurok tribe, which is California's largest Indian tribe. The festival was a celebration of their culture.
The parade was pretty unique, beginning with the flag-bearers who represented a varied group.
They were followed by the Humboldt State University Lumberjack Band, also known as the 'Banned.' According to their website the main requirement to being a member of the band is that you must be breathing, and if this is a problem there is help available. In addition, any 'marchable instrument' is allowed. They were great.
The parade also include several floats, entries from the classic car show, and the ever popular Roller Derby gals from Eureka. Sorry but I didn't get a picture.
The festival celebrated many native traditions including native dresses which were made by tribal members. Some of them have been passed from generation to generation. The woven hats were something we had never seen before as were the beading and natural materials used in the dresses.
We were able to watch a traditional game called the Stick Game. It was played on a large sandy field and began with the youngest kids playing the game first. This was followed by progressively increased age groups playing. The game was described to us as similar to Lacrosse. The game began with pairs of kids using their sticks (3 pairs), which had hook-like curves on the end, to try to move a pair of stringed balls down the court.
A twist in the game seemed to be that it was desirable to be able to tackle and wrestle one's opponent to keep them from gaining access to the stringed balls. Sounds crazy and hard to describe but it was definitely entertaining. I was really impressed by the sportsmanship and caring that all of the kids exhibited. The shirtless kids pictured are the players while the ones in shirts are their "mentors" who make sure they don't seriously hurt each other whilc coaching each player.
All in all, very informative and lots of fun.