Contributor: Naomi Black
More than 27 years ago (1994), we sat at Playa de Oro RV Park in Puerto Peñasco watching the sunset and contemplating life. We had a nine year old son, Ben; a six year old daughter, Bethany and a baby boy, Braden. We loved this beach. How could we make our trips to the beach a tax write-off? That was the question. Somehow, an idea sprang into one of our heads. We would bring RVs to the beach…what a brainstorm! At the time we thought this to be a novel idea.
However, upon researching the RV life, we soon realized that RV-ers travel in “caravans”. There were many professional companies in operation offering caravans to Alaska, South America, many destinations in the USA and, of course, Mexico. I requested brochures from every company and studied them in detail; it didn’t seem like any offered trips to Puerto Peñasco since it was only an hour across the border. So, we titled our caravan trip “Introduction to Mexico” and we set up a five day itinerary.
We named our company Peñasco RV Club and started on a six year adventure. We had previously bought a 1946 Spartan trailer for $500. It was a silver trailer with the faded lettering NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHIC UNIT on the door. We had since gutted and remodeled it. It was stored at the RV Park and would be perfect for our business. So, we had a name, a trailer and a plan! Soon we owned a 5 acre property in Ajo and moved closer to the border. The property would serve as a “dry-dock”
RV launch point for our trips to Mexico.
Our first trip consisted of just two retired couples. No trip was ever cancelled because not enough people signed up. Sometimes, our trips had a few couples and sometimes we had a dozen or more RVs traveling in the caravan. Our largest trip was for a private club and consisted of about 70 people! On each trip, we prepared and served a meet-and-greet cowboy dinner, a continental breakfast on the morning of departure and a sunset happy hour at the beach on our first evening.
Our clients seemed to enjoy our family approach as the kids were often temporary “grandchildren replacements” to homesick grandparents! Ben and Bethany learned a few traditional Folklorico dances and I made them costumes. They were also junior tour guides as they became familiar with museums, aquariums and other points of interest. Braden was just a baby when we started and about six when we closed the business. So he was just plain cute most of the time; and the other times, we would quietly
disappear from the group and head for the beach!
Soon our clients were asking us to introduce new trips. We worked one summer to get the old ‘46 Spartan roadworthy again! Often as we took off, we would joke that only the chassis frame would come along, leaving the trailer on the road behind us. We were traveling to Kino Bay, San Carlos and Guaymas. We even introduced our “Mexico Autentico” trip which included back roads and out of the way towns.
One of the things we are known for is the ability to build a trip around the needs of a particular group. One group was called the “Freightliners” ; all of the Rvs in this group had a chassis made by Freightliner. They asked
us to create a unique trip where they as a group could see and be part of and give back to otherwise overlooked communities. We started in Ajo then to Penasco for a few days, then we travelled to a small fishing village called Desemboque where we parked in a row along the road in the town and set up tables with tons of stuff the Rvers had collected and wanted to give away.
I remember the little kids’ excitement over the soap bubbles and tennis balls that were brought, and the older people getting new shoes that had been collected by the group. Then onto Caborca where we stayed overnight in the city square outside of the church! Hermosillo at the time had no RV parks, we met with a young man who was in charge of a water park and learning center that had a huge parking area. He granted us permission to use the lot whenever we wanted to so we overnighted there a few times.
Then we discovered the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show each snowbird season and we became vendors. Each February found us talking until we literally went hoarse to thousands of RV-ers, hocking our caravan trips. And each year, I would wander around the show looking at what the
competition had to offer in their glossy full-color brochures (especially the Copper Canyon trips). Then, one year as we sat at our booth, a couple came up to us and asked if we offered a trip to the Copper Canyon. We looked at each other and Russ said “aahh…yes”. We told them it would be about a certain amount, about a certain number of days and generally in the month of October. The man said, “Write that on a piece of paper and we will give you a deposit.” Wow! We sold our first Copper Canyon trip just like that!
That spring we developed an itinerary and promoted the trip to our clients. In August we mapped out every mile of the road on a crazy fast trip to Los Mochis. We found our way through the city of Los Mochis to the train station. Got ourselves on the train and soon met up with Carlos and Isaac, our tour guides for the Copper Canyon area. And two months later, we returned with a full caravan of RV-ers and the trip was a great success as we all fell in love with the Copper Canyon area on what we termed “the trip of a lifetime”!
Those six years of travel in Mexico taught our family so many things. The kids developed unbelievable patience and “people skills”. We learned to be organized. Not to panic when things went wrong (things did go wrong sometimes), but to be flexible and adapt quickly. We learned about cultures and peoples and histories which could never fully be appreciated simply by reading a textbook. Yet even more than that was the majestic beauty that we discovered in Mexico and the love of Travel and of Mexico that continues to haunt each of us!
Fast forward a few years. After a few years (a decade or more) in the business world in the USA, we decided to move to Mexico full time. This decision came true when we bought our house in 2002 and moved in full-time in 2007.
The little travel company we started all those years ago is now a Mexican Corporation. Peñasco Recreation Sa de Cv. It is very active in the RV community, bringing hundreds of individuals each year to Puerto Peñasco, most for their first time.
We hope to continue this life course for many more years. This life, part on the road and part fixed has been great for us. Enjoying Mexico with newcomers is fresh air for us. We love working with the communities that provide us with so much both the RV community and our communities in Mexico,
Thank you Mexico