Sunday, April 11, 2010

Loreto Trifecta!

My transition this year into a more full time work life has come at a price, and that price has been the little time left for enjoyment of some of the lifestyle aspects of living here in Loreto Bay. This week I have made an effort to remedy this situation and “smell the roses”.

I took two days off this week, Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday I went to town and did some banking, shopping and other errands, that evening I went to a community-wide open house, hosted by Mark and Lavonna who have just completed their beautiful custom home. This was the biggest house party I have attended here in Loreto Bay, and, it follows, it was held in one of the biggest custom homes that have been completed so far.

Perhaps, for those of you not familiar with the Loreto Bay development, I should explain a little about the types of homes being built here. The first phase of Loreto Bay, called the Founders Neighbourhood, consists of just over 400 completed “Village” homes. These homes are one of the six standard design floor plans that were originally offered by the developer. On the perimeter of these Village homes, bordering the Golf Course and several lots deep on the beachfront are larger lots which were designated for “one-off” Custom homes.

Due to the custom design of these homes and their unique features there is a considerably longer development and construction phase involved. The first custom homes were completed a couple of years ago and this winter many more of them are under construction, with several more beening completed. As more of these custom homes are finished, they will become signature properties within the development and will be among the finest homes in the Loreto area.

So the opportunity to be welcomed into one of these beautiful homes and meet the Owners was something most of the current residents enthusiastically took advantage of. Mark and Lavonna were wonderful hosts – greeting everyone as they arrived and making sure all signed their Guest Book and had name badges so we could get to know each other during the evening. Delicious finger food was catered and we all enjoyed the guitar music that Herzon, one of the finest musicians in Loreto, provided from his place next to the courtyard pool. Our Hosts had opened all the rooms of their home and many of the Guests enjoyed seeing the furnishings and decorations that complimented the beautifully finished casa.

During the course of the evening I was able to visit with many of the guests that I knew, but didn’t see regularly, including Charles, with whom I have played golf in the past. When I found out that he and his wife Helen were returning to Canada in a week and that Charles wanted to get in a couple of more rounds of golf before they left, I suggested we play together the next morning.

One of the luxuries of playing golf here this winter is the fact that it is never necessary to book tee times. Because so few people are playing it is usually possible to walk on to the course at almost any time and play a round, often without seeing any other golfers ahead or behind. For many of you who are used to the 8 – 12 minute “sausage line” start times of most northern courses, the idea of playing golf with no one else in sight, is an experience that must be experienced to be appreciated.

Charles and I enjoyed our relaxed round (he showed great patience with my rusty skills) and the day was perfect, a thin layer of high clouds to cut the sun, a light breeze to keep things comfortable and no one within a hole or two in front or behind us – perfection! The ninth hole is 20 yards from my front door, so after we completed the front nine, we stopped to pick up a couple of cold beer to sustain us for the back nine.

After completing the round, I invited Charles back to my place for a “golfers lunch” of hot dogs, chips and beer – and I was careful to point out that I had AMERICAN hot dogs, a rare imported delicacy down here (available only at Dali Deli – the specialty food store in town). This proved a strong inducement and so he joined me back at my casa. Over lunch, we watched coverage of the first round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, headlined by the reappearance of “His Tigerness”, and watched with suitable awe and respect as most of the world’s best golfers proceeded to demonstrate how different a game it is when you have a reasonably good idea as to where the ball is going to go when you hit it!

After Charles left, following our lunch, I indulged myself by spending the rest of the afternoon watching the entire first round of the tournament. Before any of you start to feel jealous about my description of this idyllic way to spend a day, bear in mind that I was watching via “Slingbox” (my TV signal over internet system) that I described previously in the Blog about watching the Olympics down here. Well, suffice to say, trying to watch a 1” diameter white ball travelling at 120 miles an hour across blue skies and in front of green trees is somewhat beyond the definition capabilities of my current video system, due to insufficient available bandwidth. In short, the picture sucked! But, that is a small price to pay in the overall scheme of things, I guess.

The next day, Friday, I was back at work and looking forward to the trifecta of my week, my invitation from friends of mine who are Homeowners here, to join them and some other friends for a day out on their boat. I was excited because this would be my first boat-trip of this winter and, in my experience, the only thing better than living here in Loreto Bay, is to get out onto the beautiful water that surrounds our bay. The Sea of Cortez, punctuated by the offshore islands of Coronado, Carmen, and further south, Danzante, is a marine wonderland, constantly changing from day to day, season to season. Different sport fish come into, and go out of season, another friend caught a 42 lb Yellowtail this past week and similar stories about bountiful catches circulate among the fishers in and around the community.

But our plans for the day did not include fishing – it was going to be simply a relaxing day of boating out towards the islands, with a packed lunch and plans to eat it at some point during the day. Robert and Kelli and their daughter Allie and her friend, had invited Dee and Janice and I to join them on their outing. We met at 9:30 at Robert’s boat, each of us carrying bags with our supplies and “toys” for the day, and were quickly loaded into the boat, which held the 7 of us comfortably with some room to spare.

Robert guided us out through the estuary, past the golf course and around Punta Nopolo (the rocky outcrop that gave it’s name to this area) and out onto the open water of the Sea. The choice of the day for our trip had been the object of some significant negotiation, including weather predictions, because we have been experiencing some very windy days recently. However, as we moved away from the shore into open water it became apparent that we had lucked in to one of the finest days to be on the water in recent weeks. The wind was calm, so the water was like a benign lake, and the sun, as usual, shone out of an almost clear blue sky with a few patches of unstructured high wispy clouds, and the air temperature on the water was refreshingly cool.

We had only been travelling about half an hour in the general direction of the north end of Carmen, the much larger island directly across from Loreto Bay, when Yours Truly (not usually being known for particularly acute vision) spotted one, then another, spume on the horizon, about a mile or so abeam of us. We changed course and headed to where I had seen the whale spouts and, now with everyone keeping a sharp eye out, we continued to see more activity in the distance, including a breach where the apparently Fin whale knifed it’s huge head, with it’s distinctive white “underjaw” colouring, right out of the water before diving to unknown depths. One thing about whale display you understand quickly, when you are in the presence of these massive creatures, is that they are constantly moving and can travel great distances in almost any direction, between the rare glimpses of tiny percentages of their bodies. So with seven sets of eyes scanning the horizon we continued to see more backs and many tails, while Robert kept his boat at a respectful distance.

After about half an hour, when we realized this fortunate display was over, we changed course again and headed to Coronado, and a favourite sandy beach, where we would stop for lunch. On the way into this beach we and another Homeowner’s boat, that was just leaving our destination, were surrounded by a pod of several dozen dolphins fishing as a pack for their lunch.

After relaxing for a while, in the now much hotter sun on the beach, we visited as we ate our sandwiches and passed around chips and cookies, while the two girls played in the water near shore. However, Allie did make one fairly extensive excursion out through the shallows about 200 feet from shore to retrieve an errant inflatable tube, but that was about the extent of the hydro therapy. While we were there, the beach received an infrequent visit from the Marine Park officials, checking for the wristbands that are sold for about 20 pesos ($1.50 US) at the Marina in town. Our Skipper had the situation well in hand and after passing over a handful of bands he had on board, exchanged well-wishes with the officials who carried on with their business and shortly were on their way.

The bees arrived about the same time we all felt we had had enough sun and so we packed up the boat quickly and were on our way back home to Loreto Bay when we had one last fleeting sighting of another whale, this time quite close to shore, almost on the approach path to the Airport runway. The trip home took half to three quarters of an hour and we were back at the dock about 3:30 or 4:00 after a perfect enjoyable day on the beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez.

First of all I want to thank Robert and Kelli for the chance to reconnect with the best part of living here – the water. The day, the company, the weather and the co-operative marine mammals all added up to a memorable day in Loreto Bay. So, this was a week that held a house-warming party in a beautiful new home, a relaxed and enjoyable round of golf with a good friend, and a perfect day on one of the most perfect bodies of water in the world – all in all, an excellent example of some of the very best parts of “Living Loreto”!