Subject: Weekend Trips
Hello fellow Ziners,

It seems that the majority of our discussions relate to those long two-week plus vacations that involve a lot of planning. But I'm sure most of us feed our travel addiction with an occasional weekend or three-day trip to destinations much closer to home. For example, those of us who live close to a border often make quick jaunts into our neighboring countries for a little rest and relaxation. I know that Paolo in Trieste occasionally heads into Slovenia or Croatia for some much needed decompression. Likewise, we head into the austere beauty of the Baja California landscape for our quick escape. Some of you might hop on a flight for a weekend in a nearby metropolis. We occasionally head up to San Francisco for a weekend of dining hedonism. So what about it Ziners where are some of your favorite quick getaways? I'm sure it'll be interesting to see the variety of ways we feed our travel habit. Plus, these just might serve to enlighten a fellow Ziner about some great possibilities when they visit your part of the world.

I'll start things off with a three-day trip we took last weekend to San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.

As dog owners who travel frequently we suffer some guilt about leaving our pets at home while we gallivant around the globe (although they are well taken care of by a housesitter who has worked for us for many years). Even so, in an effort to make ourselves feel better we try to take the dogs camping several times a year. In the U.S. campgrounds have gotten more crowded over the years (especially in the summer) and restrictions on dogs have become more severe. But not in Mexico. And, boy oh boy, do our dogs love Mexico. So much so, you cannot utter the word (Mexico) in front of them without eliciting a chorus of barks and a an enthusiastic display of tail-wagging. And one of their favorite destinations in Mexico is San Felipe.

San Felipe is about a four-and-a-half hour drive to the southeast of San Diego. It is a small fishing town caught between the harsh desert of Baja and the teeming waters of the northern Sea of Cortez. Americans flock here for a variety of reasons; sunbathing and relaxing on the warm sands, partying in the various cantinas, or four-wheeling on the desert back roads. We like to head down in early April or late October as a means of stretching our summer a few extra weeks. During those months we're guaranteed sunny blue skies with air temperatures in the 80F and sea temperatures in the 70F ranges.

As I've been doing for close to 30 years, we camp in a semi-developed campground about 4 miles north of town. The campsites sit on the edge of a bluff overlooking the wide beach and azure waters of the Sea of Cortez. The campsites have a palm-thatched palapa for shade and hanging one's hammock. Bathrooms with flush toilets, showers, and water are part of the campground's amenities. We provide the tent, camping gear, firewood, food, beach toys and reading material.

The typical San Felipe trip involves shell-collecting during the vast low tide (up to a half-mile of seabed is uncovered during low tide), throwing the ball for the dogs, sleeping on the beach, reading on the beach, throwing the Frisbee for the dogs, taking long walks on the literally miles of uninterrupted beach, throwing a stick for the dogs, playing backgammon on the beach, shooing the dogs away from beached stingrays, watching the pelicans diving for fish, more throwing the ball for the dogs, buying fresh shrimp from the fisherman who beach their pangas (large skiffs) on the shore right before you, swimming with the dogs, watching the ospreys fly overhead with whole fish in their talons, and late in the afternoon rounding up the dogs gathering beach toys and climbing up the short bluff to the campsite.

Then it's time for evening activities; margaritas, eating fresh guacamole, charbroiled steaks and large fresh shrimp steaming hot from the barbecue, building a fire, more backgammon, roasting marshmallows for s'mores (a traditional American camping dessert consisting of roasting a marshmallow and pressing it and a chunk of chocolate between two graham crackers), make a wish on the first star to appear, watch for satellites and falling stars, identify the constellations, using the binoculars try and find one of the observable galaxies, snuggle as the fire burns low, retire to the tent where the exhausted dogs have headed several hours before.

Then up early the next morning to watch the spectacular sunrise over the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez. And then repeat the above list until departure day rolls around, pack things up and head home refreshed and ready to start planning the next trip.

What about you? What are some of you favorite quick getaways?

John in San Diego planning a mountain camping trip in the crisp air of November