Monday, November 24, 2008

Changes in Founders

I just came back from a very quick 4 day trip to Loreto to follow up on some small home maintenance items and was very pleasantly surprised with the progress going on in the development. The most obvious of which was the landscaping of the courtyards throughout Founders Village. Most of the cobblestone walkways are complete or very near completion (even right up to the beach) and the plantings are well underway. I've created a slideshow of photos taken on my discovery walks throughout the Village during my stay (for larger format pictures, just click on the slideshow for a separate window). The landscaping has given the village a whole new life. The neighborhood is vibrant with color. There are places to congregate in your own little clusters vs. just the inside of your home or at the hotel. All of the courtyards are different and I must say that the plantings are very unique and complement each particular home. Some homes have walkways lined with uniformed plantings, some have a mix of trees, palms, groundcover, succulents, bouganvilla and other vibrant baja plant life. The exterior of my home is starting to blend with the interior of my home, the gardens seemed to flow into and out of each other. There is finally a unity to it all.

I spoke with Doug Brown who is a homeowner contact for a Permachink vendor in town. He and his family have spent the last year living full time in Loreto. He admitted to me that he thought their adventure living full time in the baja was just about over and it was ready to start something else new and exciting but once they got back to Loreto after a brief hiatus this summer, something was different. The changes in the development, the true spirit of community that is starting to emerge made them fall in love with Loreto all over again. I think they will be sticking around for a while. ;o)

Speaking of permachink, which has been a hot topic for all existing homeowners. Should we or shouldn't we? Is it really necessary? Our home is only a year old, etc. These are all questions we have asked ourselves. I wondered myself but when I was in Loreto in August, three of my neighbors had the permachinking done to their pergolas and I definately noticed a difference. The wood of my pergola was starting to look faded and dried out, so I decided to do some investigating. I did find out that certain clusters window and door makers did not use permachink as a finish. Instead they used a shellac finish which does not last in the baja. It was a product gentle to the environment and therefore met the sustainability requirements for window and door vendors, but it has not stood up to the harsh weather conditions of the baja. Later clusters did include the permachink finish and are weathering a bit better. In the states, the permachink finish would last anywhere from 5-7 years before a resealant was needed, here in the baja we can count on 2 years. I have included a slideshow of homes that have just received permachinking and others that are just about a year old, that show signs of aging and should probably be preserved. I realize that it is difficult these days to get to Loreto to keep on eye on all of the things that need our attention, so hopefully these photos will give you an idea how quickly things can age in the hot Mexican sun.

I have also gathered a list of permachink vendors that can be hired to wash, stain and seal your pergolas, doors and windows. I also believe that TCC is doing something very similar on their site as well.

Doug Brown (FV 489)for Jose Luis Avila

West Coast Woodworks
Bryan Evans

Artesanias del Sol
Owner: Gustavo Flores Cardenas
Email: artesdelsol (at)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back and forth to Mexico....

It's been a busy few weeks for me. I just returned from Mazatlan, doing a site inspection of the condo's interior furnishings install. I thought it was going to be so seamless and a lot less work for me by hiring a local NW designer who has had experience in Mexico. But boy was I wrong. I was very disappointed to say the least. I will have to redo most of it. I spent the last 3 days shopping in Mazatlan for new furniture pieces, hiring a seamstress to finish the window treatments (she hung raw pieces of fabric to clips on a drapery rod) and took as many photos as I could that would make the unit seem rent-ready. I should have just done the whole thing myself. I enjoy that kind of thing, but I was in a rush and had very little time available. Oh and learn, right? The condo unit should be ready in a few weeks, (see new photos on the La Perla del Mar blog, listed in the right column). I'll have furniture delivered, new artwork hung and we should be good to go. Whew! I got spoiled with Joel and Luis......I hope all of you Loreto Bay homeowners appreciate their commitment to customer service and the quality of their furniture. They stand behind their commitments 100%. I will always refer new homeowners to Casa Mesquite. They are what a "preferred vendor" is all about.

Speaking of Loreto......I will be leaving for Loreto on Thursday. It will be some nice R & R just for myself. I have some odd jobs to take care of around the house, such as sealing all of the countertop and bathroom tile grout, hanging the artwork, sconces, etc and inspecting the pergola treatment that Doug Brown and Jose Luis Avila are doing for me this week. I have come to rely on Doug and Ann Brown. They have been living in Loreto for the past year and really have kept in touch with what needs to be done for home maintenance as well as provide resources for additional upgrades, ie. additional wrought iron towel bars and hooks, a small water softener unit for the homes (this is being tested right currently with a few homeowners) and now Doug has teamed up with a Loretano who's son attends school with his son to provide an additional vendor for the pergola treatments. Their prices are very reasonable and I love the fact that I am helping a local launch a new business for themselves. That is what community is all about.

I am also very anxious to see the additional changes that are taking place within the common areas of the village. I know that this has been a priority item for RePlay as well as the paseo redesign. The cobblestone walkways had been installed around my home when we were there last August but the landscaping of plants and trees was still left to be done. TCC had some links to new photos in their November 08 newsletter posted on their site and they are making great progress. The pool across from the hotel is all plastered and almost ready for sealing, tiling and then filling it up! I'm sure the homeowners in that area will be thrilled to have that additional amenity for use as well as it will add appeal and value to their homes.

I will post as many new photos for you as possible when I return for those homeowners that don't get to Loreto as often as some of us can.

Until then........Adios!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A season for change.....

Fall is a beautiful season in the Pacific Northwest, and this one in particular. The summer has been mild and clear and the fall crisp but not too cold at night. All of those things combined have formed the perfect conditions for the magical color transformation of all the dense foliage everywhere. This morning I was sitting at my kitchen table watching the golden maple leaves fluttering down from the trees, with a clear blue sky as a background. The green grass was being carpeted ever so slowly with the gold color from above. I had to snap this photo before the leaves would be gone until next year and the vivid colors along with them.

I'm preparing for multiple trips to Mexico within the next few months. The Mazatlan condo has been furnished and a friend and I will be traveling there in the next few weeks to do the final sign-off on the interior install and sign it up for the rental pool. It's an absolutely beautiful location, see the blog to the right labeled, La Perla Del Mar for more details. I'll be loading some additional interior photos upon return of my trip.

The week after that I'm heading to beautiful Loreto for a weekend to myself. I've got lots of small details to attend to with the house and I also hope to meet up with several new friends that I have met who will also be visiting their homes for the Thanksgiving holidays. I'm anxious to see the progress on the paseo and all the landscaping taking place in the common areas of Founders Village. They were also starting construction on a few more custom homes right in front of my home that will line the beach when we were visiting in August. Hopefully our magnificent view will not be obstructed.

I will also be present for the Homeowners event in December as well. The goal is to meet more homeowners, share information that we have acquired whether it be car storage, transporting household goods, a new contractor for a new service, etc. It's a true community coming together and supporting each other's dreams of living in Mexico and being able to experience all that the untamed baja has to offer.

I've met some wonderful people over the last few years, some relationships lasting, some fleeting but all have had an impact and my world as I know it has started to expand and actually change direction because of it. As I said above, it is a season for change.........I'm just going to make sure that I am receptive to all the options that will present themselves and see where my life takes me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hurricane Norbert

Hurricane Norbert has made it's way across the baja penisula over the weekend and has weakened significantly after hitting the mainland. The eye of the hurricane was just 60 miles south of Loreto as it came over the Sierra La Gigante mountains. As with Tropical Storm Julio, there was 4-6 inches of rain, flooding in low spots and some wind. The damage was minimal to the Loreto area vs where the hurricane hit land at Puerto San Carlos on the pacific side of the Baja. The mountains do act as a protective perimeter to the Loreto area and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have chosen to have our home here.

In contrast, homes and buildings in Puerto San Carlos were damaged, roofs torn off, palm trees uprooted and the entire area had significant flooding. This is very concerning as this is the town located on the Bahia de Magdalena where the whales migrate to have their calves. The bay is very protected and they stay the winter until the calves are old enough and strong enough to make the trek to the pacific northwest. Tourism is essential for the survival of this area and they have such a short time period to rebuild and recover for the 2008-2009 whale migration season which is from December through the end of March each year. Its been a very active hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific region, but it's almost over.........and then we can enjoy the very mild and pleasant winters of the Baja.

On a more positive note, this weekend is a planned Homeowners event in Loreto Bay. However due to limited airline flights the event will be much smaller than originally anticipated. Loreto Bay has thus planned another event for December 4-7th. Its a great opportunity for homeowners to get caught up on the progress of their home construction, speak with vendors for landscaping, furniture, electronics as well as socialize with their new neighbors. I am planning on attending the December event to follow up on some minor items with my home and take advantage of the time to get to know my neighbors better myself. Owners in Loreto Bay come from all over, WA, OR, UT, CA, AZ, CO, TX, the midwest and Canada as well. We all have varied backgrounds, some are self employed, others nearing retirement, and others with families, but what we all share in common is realizing the peace and beauty of Loreto.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don't get caught up in the emotional turmoil.........

Wow! What a week! There has been a lot of blog posting on the status of the Loreto Bay development........and I think it's mostly spurred by our curiosity and the lack of updates or information about the development as well as the current turmoil of the financial fitness of our world economy. I also think that we are all starting to see a true village emerging these last few months and are anxious to having our own slice of heaven in Loreto. When the dream becomes threatened, we all tend to become a bit unreasonable, anxious and perhaps a bit neurotic. I would just like to remind everyone of your reasons for purchasing your homes in Loreto Bay. Most were impressed with the commitment to sustainability by the original developers, then once you visited the site, you became enamored with the town, it's people, as well as the beauty and serenity of the area. For most of us, we envisioned ourselves living here in our retirement years or at the very least, taking advantage of residing here part time. All of those reasons are still legitimate and very real. The return on investment is also still very real as well. The Villa Group has just broke ground on their development as well as the former Whales Inn site being endorsed and managed by JW Marriott Residence development. This is great news! We have major name recognition with these two resort areas that will bring potential buyers and investors to our area. These are two very different developments from what is emerging in our own resort, yet all are embracing the beauty of the Sea of Cortez which only endorses our own vision. How much better does it get?

I for one am going to stay focused on the absolute enjoyment that I experience each and every time I visit Loreto and stay in my home. I see only potential for the development and if in the end the resort ends its growth with just Founders Village and Agua Viva complete, I will still be very pleased with my choice to invest in my "own slice of paradise". The peaceful feeling that I get the minute that I step off that plane is worth every cent that I have invested. I wanted a place to "get away from it all", to leave the the stress of my every day life behind and just enjoy the beauty of the baja, the majesty of the Sierra La Gigante mountains and the quiet serenity of the Sea of Cortez. I truly believe that I have it all! I come home relaxed, recharged and full of a renewed focus for my day to day challenges. I am working toward my goal of living most of the year in Loreto. I am still very committed to this development, the RePlay management team and to every member of Loreto Bay Company that has contributed over the years to its growth and success. I am also committed to helping each of my neighbors realize their vision of owning their "slice of heaven" and will share all of the knowledge that has been shared with me over the years. We all share the same desire........let's help make it happen! Repeating the words of the original developers and marketing message........Live fully, tread lightly.........
JW Marriott Loreto link

ps. I love the new logo!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our August trip to Loreto........

I took the kids to Loreto in August as a last chance summer getaway before they started school. We spent hours in the sun. The kids had their skim boards out everyday and would skim for hours. I loved watching them master their technique while sneaking in a few chapters of the latest fictional novel. We also went kayaking around the big rock and through the estuaries and took Jacob under the very low foot bridge that Aubri and I had ventured under the last time we came to Loreto with Miki and her family. However this time the water level was higher and the foot bridge much closer to the surface of the water. In order to go under, we had to paddle like mad and lean all the way back to a prone position in the kayak to avoid scraping our faces on the underside. It was an adrenalin rush to say the least! ;o) The kids are great paddlers and we enjoyed being out on the water and looking back at the village. It's amazing how things have changed.

We also decided to take the snorkeling trip out to Coronado island since I've heard such great things about it and have seen all the beautiful pictures of the beach and water on various websites. I promised the kids a day of sun, snorkeling and a picnic lunch, so we hired a panga to take us out bright and early Sunday morning. The sky was a bit overcast, but that's not real unusual at this time of the year. The clouds either burn off or we have a bit of a shower in the afternoon. No big deal. The panga boat ride takes about 30-40 minutes to get to Coronado Island from the hotel beach and as we neared the southern end of the island, I could hear the sqawks of the seal lions before actually seeing them visually. But more amazing to me, was the rock formations on that side of the island. Rather than being just rock, dirt and desertscape, the rock was large looming lava formations. It was amazing! The patterns were varied and flowing and even circular in spots just as if it were bubbling up from inside. The lava formations on that side of the island were beautiful. The lava had created layer upon layer of black shiny rock that were too detailed to truly capture it on film. I was still looking over my shoulder at the rocks in awe when we came around the north side of the island and the water become clear, turquoise, with a broad white sandy beach. It was paradise!

We beached the panga, laid out our towels and jumped into the water. Because it was August, the water was about 85 degrees and felt like we were paddling around in a swimming pool. Fish were swimming up around our feet, in about a foot of water, just like little curious domesticated pets. We saw several little pufferfish and they were very docile and not at all aggressive as I might have imagined after seeing their spiny covered bodies. After about two hours of swimming and walking the beach line, the skies started to darken and the clouds were moving in from the west at an alarming rate. And then.......the skies exploded and rain started pelting us from a 45 degree angle. It was raining so hard, we could barely see out to the edge of the bay. The skies were black by then and fishing pangas were coming in to beach and weather out the storm. There are only two palapa shelters on the beach and all of us: tourists, panga captains and fisherman were standing shoulder to shoulder waiting out the worst of the storm. After approximately 45 minutes, the rain lightened up and the captains started bailing out the boats to ready them for the rough bumpy ride back to the marina and the hotel beach. We were soaked by the time we beached the boat safely back at Loreto Bay and took a miserably short walk back to the house. It was at that time, that we noticed the Tropical Storm Julio warning posted on our door for the next 24 hours.

We made a quick trip into town for groceries and water and had just made it back to the house before the rain started again. Jacob and I worked like crazy bringing in the cushions from the outdoor furniture and making sure that all outdoor items were "storm secure". It rained steadily throughout the evening, but nothing dramatic, so we hunkered down to videos and dinner at home.

The eye of the storm went through Loreto at approximately 1:30am Monday morning. I awoke with a start to a loud boom of thunder and the sky lighting up with a network of lightning strands. The rain was heavy at times and the thunder and lighting was fierce , but there was very little wind as the eye of the storm passed over us. We were awake through most of the storm, reading and doing crossword puzzles because the thunder was so incredibly loud. Around 3:30, the storm had moved far enough north that we were able to settle down and go back to sleep. Although the sky was still grey with the remnant storm clouds the next morning, the town and development was still very accessible and other than a few small leaks in the plaster and pools of water in the low spots on the walkways and roadways throughout the village, the area was pretty much untouched.

I thought it was a great trip! We enjoyed the beach, sun and water for days and just when we were getting ready for a change, the baja offered up Tropical Storm Julio. The desert certainly is full of surprises!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Putting on the finishing touches.....

Now comes the fun part! I've spent the last 6 months furnishing our new home. Luis and Joel with Casa Mesquite were wonderful! I had wanted some variations to the stock furniture pieces as well as some custom measurements for the pieces as well. I have studied our floor plan and spent months shopping for linens, accessories as well as art work. I've shared a few photos of the interiors so far. They are still a few details that need to be dealt with but I'm confident that anyone spending time in our home would be comfortable and find anything they could possibly desire.

I've also enjoyed working on the garden spaces as well. While most homeowners added small pools or spas to their larger garden areas, I added a nice conversation area with an outdoor firepit. Firepit, you ask? What was I thinking? What you might not realize is that the nights do cool down during the late fall through early spring, so a cozy fireplace lighting up the night sky with the stars glittering above after spending all day playing on the beach and the sea is just a natural way of enjoying all day outdoors. There are two towering palm trees, tall grasses, banana and citrus trees as well as vines and flowers that attract the ever present hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. I hope that each visitor will enjoy each separate experience that I have tried to create for them.

The development is emerging into a vibrant mexican seaside village. The pathways are being completed with the flagstone and the center courtyards are being landscaped as well. There are still a few homes in the latter stages of completion but I think for the most part, homeowners in Founders Village are excited to be nearing the completion phase.

We enjoy spending our time in Loreto and getting to know more homeowners as well as Loreto business owners. The town is changing each month and more and more businesses and services are becoming available. I hope the growth doesn't escalate too quickly as it really is the quaint charm of the town as it is now that attracts so many and makes them feel immediately "at home".