Blog Post #11---Southern Spain

Southern Spain is warm and wonderful weather especially from an Alaskan’s point of view. I just called my good friend Ben in Alaska and he said it is snowing sideways there. I can say without any reservations that we are very glad to not be spending this winter in Alaska. It is way past time for us to have a warm winter.

After leaving our good friend Gary's home we spent a couple of days at the Camping Mar Azul in Balerma Spain (province Almeria Andalusia). Telephone 0034-950.937.637 GPS-- 36 deg 43’ 20” N 02 deg. 52’ 40” W It is a very nice place to camp…we highly recommends it. It is the cleanest campground that we have ever been to. The bathrooms are spotless; including the showers and the toilets (toilets are called the bano or WC for water closet). It is very quiet with hardly any traffic noise. The cost was 16 Euros which included electricity to charge your equipment and free Wi-Fi…..which was fast enough to live stream a YouTube video. Don’t laugh…it is not always possible to find an internet connection that is that fast!! It is a two minute walk to the beach on the Mediterranean Sea. The beach is very nice, a great place to sun bath.

The area is surrounded by greenhouses. In fact the greenhouses of Almeria cover a staggering 64,250 acres (26,000 hectares, or for our rancher friends reading this, about 100 sections). Think about that……100 square miles under plastic roofs. It is the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. They produce over half of all the fruit and vegetables consumed in Europe….with $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Photo credit: Edward Burtynsky

This is a Google Earth view of the greenhouses from 38 miles above the earth. Everything that is white are the greenhouses!!! It is the only man made object on Earth that can be seen from the International Space Station

For many years we have wondered why this is not done in Alaska. Alaska has several trillion cubic feet of natural gas setting in the ground and the state government can’t seem to find a market for it. Well here is a market…..heat green houses with it. And rather than the state government trying to make as much money as they can from natural gas royalties, make the gas cheap enough that people can do this!!! Give Alaska residents a tax incentive to build commercial green houses. The trickle down and up economy from a massive greenhouse operation, designed to feed all of Alaska, and export to the Pacific Rim via air cargo, would have a tremendous positive impact on the Alaska economy.

Get the natural gas to the growers at a reasonable price and Alaska can be completely self sufficient in food. We would never have to rely on the lower 48 for groceries.

And do not even try to convenience me that it can’t be done because of the cold weather or any other lame excuse!!! They are raising all manner of fruit and vegetable in natural gas heated greenhouses in Russia, so I know it can be done in Alaska.

If we could get our truly pathetic state government officials to do something productive and constructive rather than continually expanding their bureaucratic empire, spending money they don’t have, making more rules, regulations and laws that we all have to fall under to justify their pathetic lives, padding their own pockets, being part of “the good ol’ boys club”, and just being general pain in the butt, spend it like its water, narcissistic corrupt dirt bags….we could do this. Imagine not having to rely on grocery shipments from outside. What a concept!!!!!

Whewwwwwwww!!! I go that off my chest!!!!

We took a ride into the Sierra da Gadar Mountains…..and it was good to get off the pavement and onto the gravel again. Riding on the gravel back roads is much more relaxing for me. The pace is slower and there is hardly any traffic to contend with. It gives us a chance to look around, stop where we want and take in the scenery….smell things in nature instead of car and truck exhaust!!

We saw some interesting things. A shepherd walked by with his sheep following along behind him. He had a couple of dogs to help out. In the very back end of the little band were three goats bringing up the rear and not following along very well at that…..running to catch up. (There are several parables that come to mind here!!!)

By the time Lana was able to get the camera out of her tank bag the shepherd was almost out of sight (on far right)

We saw some old ruins…fallen down stone houses and what was left of the olive orchard. .Some were still growing and some had died. And in the distance we could see a microwave repeater tower. What a contrast…out with the old and in with the new!!!! Kind of sad in a way.

We saw another band of sheep up on the hills in the trees. We took a very rocky narrow “road” in the direction, hoping to get some photos of the sheep and the shepherd. It was worn to bedrock from many eons of use and not maintained at all. I was in the lead and we were riding directly into a low setting sun making it hard to see what was ahead of us. I was in the lead bouncing over some pretty rough stuff. Lana said (in our SENA comms units) “The glare is so bad from the dust on my sunglasses I can’t see anything at all, I can just barely see you”. As I bounced over some real bad rocks that the skid plate almost drug on I said “That’s probably a good thing”. Somehow she keeps putting up with me!!!

On the way back out to the main road...the worst part was over

"I made it!!!"

Our oldest daughter told me that I was not including enough pictures in our blog posts. So here are a few other random shots. Thank you for the advice Josie!! I Love You!!!

Lana cooking supper on our MSR single burner stove, using a head lamp

A Spanish Windless. Notice the cable wrapped around the lower portion? The cable is unwound and hooked onto the boat out in the water. A long pole is stuck through the hole in the top and one or two people walk in a circle winching the boat up onto the beach.

On the way back to the campground we were riding down a very narrow and deep draw (canyon). I had stopped to take some photos and Lana went on ahead to wait for me. I heard this terrible buzzing noise and looked down the draw to see this very small object flying around at an unimaginable speed and doing extremely low level, high “G” maneuvers that would tear the wings completely off an airplane. Wondering what was going on and if Lana was in some kind of a bad situation, I got on my bike and took off to see what was going on. I found two guys flying drones that had four rotor heads, using what I would call virtual reality goggles to fly them with. One of the guys showed me what they saw in the goggles when his buddy was flying his drone. When they put the goggles on they could see nothing but the live feed video image to fly the drone by. They would be looking only in one direction, only able to see the live video feed on a screen in the goggles, while the drone flew everywhere. It was spectacular to see!!! These guys were flying under tree branches within 12 to 24 inches of the tree trunk and the branches at an alarming speed. The narrow draw (canyon), which we were in the very bottom of, was narrow enough that I could have tossed a rock underhand from one side to the other with very little effort at all. The maneuvers that they were doing at that speed, in that confined of an area, was truly remarkable. There was a big language barrier but we were able to communicate well enough to ask him to show Lana what they saw in their goggles…..I wondered how many they had wrecked before they got that good.

Looking to see what the drone pilot sees. Notice how narrow the canyon is here. They were flying right on the deck!

We rode back to camp

Speaking of camping….We found out that it is illegal to, what they call, “wild camp” (camp outside of a pay as you go private camp ground) anywhere in Spain. The woods are patrolled by the government looking for such heinous blood thirsty bad guys that have the unmitigated gall to go camping in the woods. The fines are very large and you are told to pack up…even in the middle of the night. And no we did NOT find out the hard way!!! I can’t imagine living somewhere that you can’t go camping in the woods (or bush as we call it in Alaska). Camping is a way of life in Alaska!!

We took off for another camp site while we waited for some battery chargers to arrive via FedEx. [Believe it or not we could not find USB (for 12 volt) Nikon camera battery chargers in Europe so we had it sent from the USA]. We take a lot for granted in the USA!!!

We rode through about 75 kilometers of serious twisties in the Sierra Tonga Mountains to our next camp ground. LOTS of sport bike riders went past us, (going both ways!!) dragging their knee puck!! It looked like a lot of fun!!!

We went through a small town named Setenil De Las Bodegas…..and we messed up with our navigating….no…..we really screwed it up!!! How do I describe this??!! We went right when we should have gone left???

We missed our turn to get through town to the next campground. We made a right turn down a narrow street…and I do mean narrow! There were buildings on both side, no sidewalks. The buildings were the edge of the street. When we did find a car parked on the street it was a challenge to get past it. At one point a guy had his car door open a little and there was no way to pass until he shut his door. People would have to get into a doorway so we could pass by.

Then it got even narrower. In many places we would have had to take the bikes apart to turn them around!! I do not know what we would have done if we had met another vehicle!! And we were going downhill…the steepest paved street I have ever seen.

After we played the video back we saw our mistake and why the street got even narrower and we never met another vehicle. This was not a street…… it was a sidewalk!!! We missed the blue arrow that said we had to turn left. At one point we came around a very narrow corner to find ourselves in the middle of a sidewalk café!!! Talk about some startled people and strange looks!!! Fortunately some people thought it was all quite hilarious!!!

In a few places we had to go up hill. There were several places that we had to stop at a stop sign while going uphill…..with the bikes loaded with all that we have. The street was paved with bricks and when we stopped I would try to hold it on the hill with the front brake but the front tire would just slide backwards. The front tire would not hold the bike there in the dry bricks. It was a challenge to get going again.

Many of the houses were built right into the cliffs, with the overhang of the cliff acting as the roof of the house.

We stayed at Camping Pueblo Blanco near Olvera, Spain with a wonderful view and fairly inexpensive restaurant.

Customs denied entrance of our package because it had some Vitamin C, Vitamin B Complex and Iodine, along with some homemade cookies for D & N and their girls, and (gasp) Dr. Bonners Peppermint Soap!!! The Spain Customs would not allow us to take the battery chargers out—which were legal--- and send the rest back. Everything had to go back!!! Who comes up with these laws anyway??? Doesn’t anyone think about what they are doing anymore??? I remember some lame brain in the USA said that Congress had to pass the law before they could read it. I guess the same idiotic policy goes for other countries as well.

In another campground in Capobino we met Doug from the UK, who was going to Gibraltar to go shopping. He invited us along. Doug rides a Honda sport bike, and off we went. What a cool place Gibraltar is. After we checked through customs we rode or bikes across the main international airport runway (and yes it is legal to do and we were NOT lost!!!) to get onto the island.

We were able to find a 12 volt charger for Lana’s little camera and I bought two more (four total) Nikon EN-EL 15 batteries for my Nikon along with a ­­­­multi power battery pack (grip) that will take AA batteries or the Nikon battery.

This is an English speaking country, it is crowded, but it is beautiful place. The next time that someone says that something is as “Solid As The Rock of Gibraltar”, let it take on a whole new meaning for you!! Here is a photo from the internet:

Below are some photos that Lana took in Gibraltar

The next evening we were in Morocco!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#SouthernSpain #AlmeriaGreenhouses #KLR650 #MediterraneanSea #Gibraltar

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