Friday/ Bitte ein Bit (a Bit, please)

The one-a-day beer is in the cans, the as-much-as-you-like beer (no alcohol) in the bottles. I like them both.

My fridge was empty, and I set out to refill it today with eggs, milk, yogurt and beer. The store where I usually get my German beer, and my McCann’s Irish oatmeal, was out of both. 

Well darn it, I thought. And: You’re too persnickety with your tastes.  The Amazon-owned grocery store called Whole Foods Market came to the rescue, though.

Thursday/ souvenirs and coins

I had no problem getting an Uber driver at 3 am this morning. There is a new, designated spot in the Seattle airport’s parking garage, and Abdulqadir (my driver) showed up in his Toyota Prius in 7 minutes.   As always, it was nice to unpack my little souvenirs from Mexico, from my bags today!

I bought the little Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) beaded skull at the Plaza Machado (Mazatlán town square), and the porcelain mini-birds at Micheal’s gift shop.
The front and back of a ten pesos coin. The front of the coin has the national shield and says ‘Estados Unidos Mexicanos’: the United States of Mexico. Mexico has 31 states, and then there is Mexico City which is in a special district or state – much like Washington DC in the United States. The back of the coin shows the sun stone from Aztec mythology, with the sun god Tonatiuh.

Wednesday/ halfway there

This charming little guy at the airport shop, is hugging Orendain tequila, made in Jalisco state. Orendain’s reposado is 100% agave and aged for up to a year in oak.

My wonderful time in Mazatlán came to an end today – alas!  Off to the aeropuerto it was, at noon.

My layover is again at Los Angeles (LAX), and I will catch a red-eye flight out to Seattle in another 3 hours or so.

I will try to summon an Uber car in the wee hours of Thursday morning, to take me home.   If I don’t succeed, I can always stay over in a cheapie Seattle airport hotel until later in the morning.

My boarding shot of the Alaska bird (Boeing 737-700) on the tarmac at Mazatlán airport, that took us to Los Angeles.


Tuesday/ Estero del Yugo

Estero del Yugo is an estuary in the far northern outskirts of the city of Mazatlán.  There is a trail around it that we traversed today. The foliage around the estuary is dry this time of year, and the water level was low.

Even so, we spotted herons, ibises, pelicans and a beautiful pileated woodpecker with its red-crested head.  A single deer across the water made an appearance as well, but we did not see it again, even after we had made it to the other side.

This is a green heron that we spotted today at the estuary – a small heron found in North America and Central America.
This is an American white ibis, found from Virginia via the Gulf Coast of the United States south through most of the coastal New World tropics. Behind the ibis is a black-necked stilt.
Here’s what a large part of the trail around the estuary looks like. That’s a young Mexican giant cardon (elephant cactus) on the right.
A beautiful tree flower that we found on the ground. It may be a from a tree called ‘palo cruz’, but I’m not sure.

Monday/ taking the Mazatlán bus

We took the bus today to Juarez in the north of the city of Mazatlan. It’s complicated for a visitor, since the bus stops are not marked with route numbers.

One has to look for the destination that’s written onto the bus (and even then the bus does not always go to the same place in that destination).  A good thing I had a little help from my friends here!

I took this picture a few days ago. This bus goes between Plaza Sendero and Central Mercado (the central market) and the ferry terminal.
Inside our bus today.  The fare is 8.5 pesos (46 cents US). Some buses are fancier with airconditioning and nicer seating, and then the fare is 11 pesos (60 cents US).
This church is in Juarez where the bus dropped us off. The giant head and face is that of Miguel Hidalgo (1753-1811), a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and a leader of the Mexican War of Independence (1810 -1821).

Sunday/ El Recodo, Villa Unión

The drive to El Recodo is to the northwest is under two hours. Villa Union is just off Highway 15 on the way back.

On Sunday, we drove out to the town of El Recodo and made a stop at Villa Unión for lunch at a famous seafood restaurant.

We were very lucky to run into a tour guide in El Recodo to show us around.  He also phoned ahead to the very popular restaurant in Villa Unión, which allowed us to get in almost right away.

The church off the main street in El Recodo was built in 1855. The bell was made of all kinds of metal that were collected from residents. That’s Samuel, our impromptu tour guide of the church and the town at large. He seems to know everyone there!
This is a beautiful Mexican giant cardon or elephant cactus, native to the area.
This picture is from inside a little museum dedicated to the famous ‘Banda El Recodo’ band and its founder Cruz Lizarraga (now deceased). It’s the centenary of Cruz’s birthday in 1918.
Just an old building with Spanish roof tiles that I liked very much -on a side street in El Recodo.
Here’s the Parroquia San Juan Bautista (Parish of San Juan Bautista) in Villa Unión, located on the main town square.

Saturday/ Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra)

We went out to the beach at Stone Island today (look for Isla de la Piedra on Friday’s map). From where we are, we needed to cross the waterway north of the harbor to get there.

The boat ride across the waterway just north of the harbor to Stone Island takes just 5 minutes. 30 pesos ($1.62) are good for a trip there and back.
Main picture: Stone Island is technically not an island. It has a beautiful, tranquil beach that offers a lot of activities. Left to right: We had frozen cocos (‘Cocos Helados’) at Lety’s. These drinks are served in coconuts. Lots of vendors sell food and souvenirs on the beach. Don’t step on the pufferfish! (Not sure how it got on the beach. It might have been caught by a fisherman and thrown back). Horses and all-terrain vehicles are also available for rides right there on the beach.

Friday/ El Mirador, Mazatlán

We walked up the hill to the observation deck called El Mirador (‘The Lookout’) tonight for a beer at the new restaurant there, and for the great views of the harbor and the lighthouse called El Faro.

Clockwise from top left: El Mirador overlooks the Mazatlán harbor towards the south-west | artwork from a neighborhood wall nearby | one of three British cannons used to defend Mazatlán against invaders at Fort 31 in the late 1800s| the Baja Ferry on the left runs overnight across the Gulf of California to La Paz; deep sea fishing boats in the harbor; the hill with El Faro (‘The Lighthouse’) on top, is on the right

Thursday/ Mazatlán churches

I walked to two beautiful churches here in the city so that I could take a closer look.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the main religious building in Mazatlan and is located in the historical center. The original building was completed in 1899.
This is the inside of the church, looking forward towards the altar.
Here is the Parroquia Cristo Rey (Parish of Christ the King). Its style is unusual and I could not immediately find more information about it online.
The main entrance to Parroquia Cristo Rey (Parish of Christ the King). Those pesky telephone cables interfere with my picture!

Wednesday/ Mazatlán Malecón

The Mazatlán Malecón is a 13-mi. (20 km) promenade that is lined with street vendors, shops and restaurants, and Pacific ocean views.

Viva Mexico! This enormous flagpole and Mexican flag is just south of the central Mazatlán district. It makes the humans down below look like ants. (The flag is not always up; today was President Benito Juárez’s birthday). The green umbrella below is part of a coconut stand. The Malecón was quiet today, but will fill up with people as soon as the weekend starts.
This is the view of the Malecón from the rooftop of the Hotel Posada Freeman where we had a beer at sunset, looking towards the north. The gray paving is brand new.  The hill up ahead with the radio towers, is Icebox Hill, home to limestone caves once used to store ice imported from San Francisco during the mid-1800s. Mazatlán families used this ice to preserve their seafood and other perishables before the days of household refrigerators.
Here’s a view of Icebox Hill looking east from the Malecón. Inset:  An entrance to the old limestone caves, now off limits to the public. ‘Cueva del Diablo’, Cave of the Devil, says the lettering.

Tuesday/ Mexico’s Day of the Dead /Día de Muertos

We went to see Disney’s animated movie Coco (2017)* in a local arts theater here.  The movie revolves around a Mexican boy Miguel, and the annual Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos celebration.  Before the movie started, Mazatlán resident Laura Medina explained the Day of the Dead to us.  ‘Life and death is a duality, and cannot be completely separated’. Day of the Dead is about gatherings of family and friends, to pray for, and remember, friends and family who have died – and help support their spiritual journey.

*To quote IMDb: a touching, massively heartwarming story of the strongest familial variety.

Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos characters for sale at a local art store here in Mazatlan.

Monday/ arrival in Mazatlán

I made it into Mazatlán on Monday.  My Uber driver showed up in just a few minutes after I had summoned him, even though this was 3 am in the morning!  (to make my frightfully early departure out of Seattle airport at 5 am).
I arrived in Mazatlán on a national holiday, Benito Juarez’s Birthday. Juárez was a national hero and president of Mexico (1858-1872).

Top: Alaska Airlines, at the gate at LAX after our arrival at 7.30 am. Bottom: Shortly after our arrival at Mazatlan airport. The airport is really small – only one other jet was there at our arrival. There may be only as many as 4 or 5 jets on the gates at the airport at any one time.

This is near the beach, on the edge of the historic old town center.  The beautiful mosaic of the Mazatlán municipality is in the foreground. Mazatlán’s population is a little over 400,000 people.
The beachfront across from the old town center.  It has a beautiful new promenade and street. Late afternoon it fills up with joggers, tourists, and families hanging out, waiting for sunset to come before they disperse. This is a rocky stretch of beach, but there are plenty of sandy areas as well.

Sunday/ going to Mazatlán

My bags are packed .. for a trip to Mazatlán, Mexico, to visit my friends Bryan and Dale there. I will take Alaska Air: two 2 ½ -hr flights, with a stop at LAX.  I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta, to Nogales (border city south of Tucson, Arizona), and to Cancun, but not to Mazatlan.

Mazatlan is on the Pacific just across the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, and in Sinaloa province.

Saturday/ St Patrick’s Day

Left: The finish line of the St Patrick’s Day Dash. | Right:The Monorail and the new Hyatt House hotel with its vanishing edge. The Space Needle’s $100 million restoration and glass floor installation should be complete some time this summer. | Bottom: The Seattle Public Library’s Book Sale in an exhibition hall at the Seattle Center. | Inset: Four-leaf clover Waterford crystal paperweight, that I had bought in Dublin in 2013.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!  Here in Seattle we had the annual 1K and 5K St Patrick’s Day Dash, ending at the Seattle Center.  My mission for Saturday was to dash down to the Seattle Public Library’s Book Sale which was right there, as well.

I did pick up a few books at the huge book sale ($1 and $2 a book! Yay!) : a thick Archie Comics cartoon book; travel guides for Washington DC and Switzerland, and a few others.

Friday/ the snow in the North Cascades

Washington State Dept of Traffic recently tweeted a picture of State Route 20 at the Early Winter Spires. The road is closed for winter, but they will evaluate next week what needs to be done to start clearing the road.  I compared their picture with mine, which I took on a road trip last year.

Left: Picture from WSDOT, from an airplane. Right: My picture from Sept last year, from a viewpoint from across the Early Winter Spires.
The big asterisk * marks the location of the pictures. It looks as if 19% more snow than normal, had fallen there this 2017/18 winter season. [Prepared by USDA/ NRCS]

Thursday/ trouble at Toys-R-Us

Menacing Sasquatches at Toys-R-Us. (Winter Sasquatch and Summer Sasquatch, I suppose). Sasquatch is the Pacific Northwest’s abominable snowman from folklore.

The nationwide toy store franchise Toys-R-Us is in trouble and is said to be closing or selling all of its stores soon.  (Aw. I like Toys-R-Us). The company just has too much debt, and this dates back to before competition from Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart all took their toll.

So I made a run to the store here in the area today, and bought a giant box of special Only-at-Toys-R-Us Lego bricks, for myself, of course.(‘Age 5-99’ said the box, and I fall in that age range, see?).

3.14 Pi Day/ celebrate Tau, not Pi

These are ‘exhibits’ from Michael Hartl’s Tau manifesto, making the case that Tau is a better constant than Pi. Bottom: One full rotation is one Tau radians (right circle) and 2 Pi radians (left circle)-so Tau is simpler to use. Top Left: Euler’s identity is written more elegantly with Tau (the bottom equation). Top Right: If Tau is used for circular area, the formula looks the same as several other expressions used in physics.

March 14 is Pi* Day, celebrated by math geeks.  But Michael Hartl says we should celebrate ‘Tau Day’ instead, in his Tau manifesto. Tau is an alternative circle constant referred to by the Greek letter τ that equals 2π, or approximately 6.28. (So Tau Day would be June 28).

*Pi is the Greek letter used in math for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter the size of the circle, this is always the same value (approx. 3.14): a mathematical constant.

One big thing that Tau fixes, is radian angles (see diagram).  It also makes sine and cosine functions simpler, and higher math like integrals in polar coordinates, the Fourier transform, and Cauchy’s integral, simpler.

Postscript: I found this great cartoon tribute to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking that had passed away on Mar 14.

He once said ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge’.


Tuesday/ the ‘Rexit’, finally

Headline from ‘Tillerson, a career oilman from blunt-spoken Texas, had come to the State Department with significant overseas business experience but was still very much a novice in the ways of international diplomacy’, writes Susan Glasser. Tillerson leaves the State Department understaffed and demoralized. There is a lot of work to be done to repair the damage.

Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is out, fired via Trump tweet.  (Tillerson got a heads-up on Friday that ‘something is up’, from Chief of Staff Kelley). Trump and Tillerson never got along, and Tillerson was fired almost immediately after contradicting the official White House line on the murder of a Russian double agent in London, though. Coincidence, or the last straw? (Tillerson called Trump an ‘f** moron’ last July).

Also: Trump’s personal aide (‘body man’) Johnny McEntee is also out over ‘serious financial crimes’ and security issues, escorted out of the White House today, not allowed to retrieve even his jacket or any personal stuff.

Finally: It looks like the Democrat will win the Special Election for House Representative in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, held today. This is a district that Trump carried by 20%. Trump, Don Trump Jr and VP Mike Pence were all there to campaign for the Republican.   So the loss is not a good sign for the Republicans for the mid-term elections* in November this year.

*Representatives of the House have two-year terms, and Senators have six-year terms.

Monday/ Van Riebeeck’s three ships

My 1975 South African ten rand note that I had bought on Ebay, arrived in the mail today. I wanted one – correction: had to have one – for my bank note collection. I have fond memories of the note.  When I was very young, I saw it as a lot of money, almost a fortune.  I still remember my mom pulling out two of these green notes from her wallet, to pay for a semi-automatic knitting machine that she had bought at a store. Whoah! How cool, I thought.

This R10 note (R for Rand) was part of the Second Series of notes of the Republic of South Africa and was in use from 1966 through 1978.  Front: Dutch navigator and colonial administrator Jan van Riebeeck; Union Buildings in Pretoria that form the official seat of the South African Government; Springbok, national animal of South Africa and mascot for many national sport teams.  Back: Table Bay and Table Mountain with Van Riebeeck’s three ships at his arrival on April 6, 1652: the Dromedaris; the Reijger and the Goede Hoop. [Picture: Ebay]

Sunday/ ferry to Bremerton

The Seattle-Bremerton ferry is about 60 minutes one way.

It was a beautiful sunny, blue-sky day (61° F/ 16°C), and I hopped onto the Bremerton ferry, to go check out the marina there, and the Navy Museum. Bremerton is home to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap.

This is Pier 50 on the Seattle waterfront, and I am on the Bremerton-bound ferry called Chimacum (this vessel started service in 2017, 1500 passengers, 144 vehicles). The ferry in the picture is the Wenatchee (launched 1998, 2500 passengers, 202 vehicles). It is just pushing back from the terminal as well, going to Bainbridge Island. The sharp-looking, swank new building with the triangular faces, in the skyline, is the F5 Tower, also known as The Mark.
This is outside the Naval Museum, the ‘sail’ of the Sturgeon-class attack submarine, the USS Parche (SSN-683). Commissioned in 1974 and decommissioned 2004, she is said to be ‘the most highly decorated vessel in U.S. history’. The letters and striping stand for awards such as Battle Efficiency, Navigation Excellence and Communication Excellence. Inset: USS Parche returns to port for the last time at Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor, WA on Sept 20, 2004. [Picture: WIkipedia]
We had the ferry called Kaleetan on the way back from Bremerton to Seattle. She can hold 144 vehicles, and 1868 passengers; has been in service since 1968 and will be replaced in a few years.