02/18/2012  to 02/20/12 Last days in Mexico, back to the States
Saturday the 18th was the big business meeting of the Mexican Connection.  I had been suckered (margarita-ed) into accepting a nomination for
Membership Chairman, and they voted to accept this nomination.  Here we all are at the induction ceremony for new officers, with our ceremonial
torches.  I've been trying to get Richard to call me Madam Chairman, but he just won't do it.  
When the meeting was over, we jumped on our
bikes and rode down to the park with another
couple to watch the parade.  They were
celebrating Carnaval and so there were marching
bands, zumba girls, and floats.  It was a bit weird,
some floats were boring (one was a "green
house" made of recycled stuff, no one on it...)
some were typical, with young ladies in ball
gowns and sashes, but some were racy.  Very
scantily dressed adults AND children shaking
their booties.  Of course, we forgot our camera.  
After the parade, we headed back down to the beach to watch our last sun set.  Problem
is, there is a bar on the beach, so one margarita later, I had missed the sunset.  Sunday
the 19th, we got up early to go running.  Richard went out a mile and back, then I cruised
around for 5 more miles.  I should have gone farther, but we were running out of days in
Mexico, and we wanted to go see El Pinacate.  It is a biological preserve about 30 miles
north of the park.  There are 400 cinder cones, lava, flowers, etc.  Off we went, stopping
first at the visitors center for the educational video and the lava flows.  We learned there
are two types of lava flows, Aa and Pahoehoe.  I can't remember which one is which, but
basically there is smooth lava and chunky lava.  I'm standing on the smooth lava.  
Then we headed out on the long drive through the  
preserve to see El Elegante crater.  Although I was
expecting to see a crater left over from an old
volcano, but this one was never a volcano.  This is a
Maar crater, which is an explosion from water getting
too hot way down under the land, and blowing it all
out.  If the sign hadn't told me all this, I wouldn't have
noticed a difference.  It doesn't look very deep in any
of these pictures, but it is 459' deep.  
It doesn't look nearly as
precarious in this picture
as it really is, but my 5
year old husband is
really standing on that
little rock hanging out
over the crater.  A few
feet further on down the
path we saw a cross set
up as a memorial to a girl
who had climbed to close
to the edge and fallen in.  
They should put that
cross before this nice
photo op rock!  

Way down in the center
of the crater the ground
is stained white because
it used to be a lake a
whole bunch of years
ago.  The little tiny green
spots are huge saguaro
One of the reasons we wanted
to come to El Pinacate is
because other Mexican
Connection members had
visited it and commented on all
the flowers.  Typically the place
is one of the driest places on
earth.  (Part of the preserve is
North America's largest sand
dunes.)  But, they had recent
rain, so we heard about all the
flowers,  You can see the wild
flowers, and the bush thing
behind me is an ocotillo.  They
are normally ugly dry stick
things, but when they get rain
they leaf out and get purdy red
flowers on top.    

The hike took us about half way
around the crater.  At the end
of the hike we took one last
shot to try to show the depth of
the crater before heading back
to the truck.  
Back in the truck we were hustling to get through the park
and get back for the Mexican Connection board meeting
(Madam Chairman) but we had to stop and take a pic of a
jack rabbit.  I think they are so cool.  Why don't people have
jack rabbits as pets?  Anyway, he wouldn't hold still for me to
take his picture, and he blends in surprisingly well with all the
colorful flowers.  Do you see him?
After the board meeting, we had the final dinner of the Mexican Connection rally.  We had joined the group to gain confidence about driving into
Mexico.  Mission accomplished.  We also met some fun friends, and now have big plans for more trips into Mexico, as soon as we get all our other
plans done...  

Monday morning folks were up early pulling out of the park.  By the time we started rolling around 11:30, the park was half empty.  On the short
drive back to the border, we saw a huge caravan of RVs heading towards Puerto Peñasco.  It would be too much of a coincidence to think they
were heading to Playa de Oro RV park, but we did anyway.  We crossed the border with no hassles, then stopped at Organ Pipe park again.  We
had wanted to check out the visitor center when we were there before Mexico, but had ran out of time.  On our way into the visitors center, we ran
into a couple who had been on our rally, but we had NEVER met.  They recognized us because I had stood up in front of the group to get inducted
(Madam Chairman - remember) but through 11 days of fun and activities we had never actually met.  Crazy huh?  After a quick visit with them, and
an even quicker visit of the visitors center, we headed on to Phoenix where we had left guns and house plants in the capable hands of one of
Richard's army buddies.  Mike brought the goods to us at our place in the Walmart parking lot, and the boys told war stories until bedtime.