Quest for dog parks

All dogs, especially camping dogs, need a place to run
All dogs, especially camping dogs, need a place to run

If your dog is your frequent traveling companion, finding an off-leash dog park in any destination city is probably high on your list. The same holds true for us. In our quest for dog parks in Anchorage, Alaska, we searched bring fido dot com and other local city and county resources, and found the off-leash area at Russian Jack Springs Park most favorable. The huge open meadow off Pine Street provided ample room for our large, energetic dog to run. Another park our dog appreciated was at Jewel Lake, just north of West Dimond Blvd. (yes, Dimond is the correct spelling) and west of West 88th Avenue. The lake was not excessively cold in summer. This was a hit with our dog who loves to swim and retrieve.

When we read about other dog parks in Anchorage, we found Far North Bicentennial Park mentioned, along with the park adjacent to University Lake near the University of Alaska campus off Elmore Road. We were never able to locate the off-leash area at Far North Bicentennial Park, and we heard from another dog owner that during their visit, the beavers at University Lake had been aggressive toward dogs. We prefer to steer away from wildlife when they are pesky, so we stuck with Russian Jack.

Big fish advantages for writing your own tours

Small boats in the bay at San Carlos
Small boats in the bay at San Carlos

As independent travelers who write our own tours, we often arrange for excursions. First, when we visit a destination, we research what’s available. Then, we search out a local guide and negotiate schedules and prices. Almost invariably, what we arrange costs less than posted prices. And, by doing the research on foot in town, we meet people and they get to know us.

In San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, we found a boat captain who had finished his morning work and was willing to take us out for a bay cruise. On a different occasion, a fishing excursion also in San Carlos, we (that’s the marital ‘we,’ meaning my husband) caught a marlin that the boat captain asked if he could have. We were delighted to provide the fish so he could have it smoked to serve for his niece’s Quinceanara party. The family was waiting for us ashore to receive the gift, and the 15-year-old girl was especially gracious and pleased to receive the fish that would feed a crowd.

Photo by Bob Schultz. If you enjoy this post, please let us know. Leave a comment. Or, email to info[at]

First, the municipal laundry and bath

Laundry day in Guatemala
Laundry day in Guatemala

At every new town and city we visit in Mexico and Central America, laundry is the chore that usually takes longest. So we look for a laundry first. Laundries commonly charge by weight, and require you to leave your clothing and return for it later, sometimes after a day or so. We make a point of determining the cost in advance.

Clothes for our trips are mostly casual and durable. The most dressed up occasions, such as a visit to a cathedral or a theatre, call for men to wear khaki slacks and a shirt, and for women to wear a skirt and a blouse.

After a lengthy adventure, clothes tend to take on a uniform gray undertone. This could be from soap residue, or from turbidity in the water, or from being washed against river rocks many, many times.

The above is an excerpt from an article published by RVers Online, who noted: Mary Schultz, a freelance copywriter specializing in direct response advertising, has contributed travel articles to Trailer Life and Clubmex. She and her photographer husband Bob share a love of fishing and a fascination with Latin cultures, ancient and contemporary, two interests that blend seamlessly with the RV lifestyle. They travel often and extensively throughout Mexico, and have camped through Central America to the Panama Canal. We welcome her as a contributing author to RVers Online.

Sunset means celebration in Mazatlán

Sunset is reason enough to bring everyone to the Malecón, the seaside walkway that runs along the seafront in the area near Olas Altas or Old Town. The name Olas Altas means “high waves.” The Malecón is an area where late in the day, especially on Sunday evenings, families stroll. Each evening when the sun dips toward the horizon, the Malecón springs to life. Vendors sell treats to eat, jewelry, pottery and all kinds of other handicrafts.

Sunset along the Malecon  in Mazatlan
Sunset along the Malecon in Mazatlan

Mazatlán also boasts an attraction similar to a popular event in Acapulco. On a pedestrian overlook in this same part of town is a high-divers’ tower where you can watch cliff divers, known as clavadistas, dive into the ocean from their high perch. They miss the rocky cliffs to the amazement of onlookers. While the spectacle isn’t as routinely scheduled as the divers of Acapulco, it is nonetheless a display of bravery and skill.

Mazatlán is a city that treasures its public art, and along the Malecón are a number of exceptionally beautiful monuments. One is the Monumento a la Continuidad de la Vida.

Public fountain, Mazatlan, Monument to the Continuity of Life
Public fountain, Mazatlan, Monument to the Continuity of Life

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The unexpected on Easter Island

Visiting Easter Island, known by its native people as Rapa Nui, for the Autumnal Equinox (Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere) and for Easter was rewarding. The light and shadow events on several ahu (altars) revealed something about the visual astronomy of the ancient islanders.

What I didn’t expect was the haunting music and the easy-going warmth and hospitality of the people. In the intervening years, yet more theories have been proposed about how the giant statues, the moai, were moved into place.

Statue, or Moai, on Easter Island
Statue, or Moai, on Easter Island

Copper Canyon, a top of the world-spectacular train trip

Copper Canyon train adventure
Copper Canyon train adventure

From our Central America RV odyssey, jump ahead a couple of decades. For our part, we found that taking in the splendor of Mexico’s Copper Canyon via the Chihuahua-Pacifico as independent travelers was easier than we imagined. We chose to be nimble and comfortable. We arrived in our own transportation, our small, high-clearance SUV. We arranged our own lodging, meals and tours along the way because this suited our self-directed schedule. We spent a little and saw a lot. We are not fluent in Spanish, but we are familiar with phrase books, road signs, and a few common verbs in the present tense.

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The free floating traveler

Some folks like unscripted travel and prefer to write their own tours. We are those folks.

The advantages of self-directed travel for us are

  • an open-ended schedule
  • infinite opportunity for surprises
  • unfamiliar rhythms and getting to know the pace of a new place

Over decades, we have used all of kinds of conveyances: RV, car, chartered boat, our own boat, commercial flight, train and more.

Yes, we have taken organized tours. And, yes, we’ve gone completely solo.

In recent times, we’re revisiting the small footprint of tent camping.

In coming posts, we’ll be talking about what travel and destinations were like then, what has happened along the way, and what our traveling life is like now.

The events are presented in hop-scotch order. We’ll jump right into the middle.

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Zempoala ruins in Mexico
Zempoala ruins in Mexico


We traveled through Mexico to the Panama Canal via RV (travel trailer) in the early 1990s. At the ruins of Zempoala in Mexico, we were able to pull RV rigs right on to the park grounds. As much as there was for us to see, for locals we were like the circus coming to town. Curious children and adults wanted to know all about us and our unit. These visits were a great opportunity to practice language skills.