Archive for February, 2016

Puerto Vallarta 2016!

My friend Susie and I usually take a trip together at least once a year. We both love going to Mexico and have both been to Puerto Vallarta on separate trips so we decided to take our annual vacation there this year.  We were so glad we did!

The Condo!

I found the wonderful condo Girasol Sur on TripAdvisor. It was so reasonable and after checking out reviews and pictures we decided this was a good place to stay!  The units are mostly studios with a couple of floors with larger apartments.  The complex came complete with a bar, restaurant, mini mart, laundry room, rec room, pool, private seating areas, I could go on and on. It was perfect!

We stayed in a studio on the 11th floor overlooking the entire bay.  What a gorgeous view!  The water was so clear we could watch the fish and stingray swimming, and Susie even saw a turtle!   It was perfect for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking.  I’ll definitely bring my snorkel gear next time!  We also saw fireworks almost every night from the veranda!

Girasol Sur from the road side

Girasol Sur from the road side

Susie and I on our veranda overlooking the beach

Susie and I on our veranda overlooking the beach

I loved watching the pelicans flying right past our veranda :-)

I loved watching the pelicans flying right past our veranda 🙂

The pool!

The pool!

The Bars & Restaurants!

For a mere 8 pesos (about 40 cents) we took the 20 minute bus ride into town. I absolutely love the open air restaurants in PV.

We celebrated Susies birthday at Munchies 3rd Base Sports Bar.  Several of her friends from Wenatchee frequent the place when they come to PV.  It’s a small but really friendly bar where lots of Americans come and hang out.

We celebrated Susies birthday at Munchies 3rd Base Sports Bar. Several of her friends from Wenatchee frequent the place when they come to PV. It’s a small but really friendly bar where lots of Americans come and hang out.

Burros Bar right on the beach

Burros Bar right on the beach

Waiter preparing fresh salsa and guacamole right at the table at MargaritaGrill

Waiter preparing fresh salsa and guacamole right at the table at MargaritaGrill

 Enjoying our coconut and banana margaritas and chips with the freshly made guacamole and salsa at MargaritaGrill

Enjoying our coconut and banana margaritas and chips with the freshly made guacamole and salsa at MargaritaGrill

Sipping bloody mary’s while watching the iguanas at River Café

Sipping bloody mary’s while watching the iguanas at River Café

One of the many iguanas climbing around on the trees surrounding the River Café.

One of the many iguanas climbing around on the trees surrounding the River Café.

Waiter serving an assortment of freshly made pastries to enjoy with our breakfast at Vitea Café on the Malecon.

Waiter serving an assortment of freshly made pastries to enjoy with our breakfast at Vitea Café on the Malecon.

Our own wonderful restaurant at the condo.  Our waiter offered us tequila, we said "No Gracias!"

Our own wonderful restaurant at the condo. Our waiter offered us tequila, we said “No Gracias!”

Delicious dessert our waiters served us for Susies birthday.

Delicious dessert our waiters served us for Susies birthday.

Old Farmers Market!

Every Saturday vendors sell only locally made, baked or grown products at this market. There is an assortment of organic vegetables and coffees, delicious fresh pressed juices and baked goods (the line for the bagels wound clear down the lane.  One lady in line explained it was well worth the wait, the bagels were so delicious), homemade tamales, burritos and much more.  Local artisans sell jewelry, soaps, pottery, etc.

One booth called New Beginnings sold jewelry made by women from an extremely impoverished community near the Puerto Vallarta garbage dump. The women previously worked as recyclers at the dump and now make a much-needed better income making beautiful jewelry and learning a craft.

 Chantel, a friend of Susies who moved to Puerto Vallarta 15 years ago sells jewelry from reclaimed silverware

Chantel, a friend of Susies who moved to Puerto Vallarta 15 years ago sells jewelry from reclaimed silverware

Music at the Farmers Market

Music at the Farmers Market

I fell in love with this cute sculpture at Lazaro Carenas Park where the Farmers Market is held

I fell in love with this cute sculpture at Lazaro Carenas Park where the Farmers Market is held

Botanical Gardens! Who knew?

A 20 peso, 30 minute bus ride down the coast and up into the mountains and we arrived at the Vallarta Botanical Garden. What an absolute surprise!  We took a short, but very informative tour with our guide Rosie.  Besides the lovely flowers, shrubs and trees, the restaurant was a lovely surprise.  There were little sections all throughout the open air building to relax on a lounge or couch, have a refreshment, watch the birds, enjoy the breeze and look at the beautiful surroundings.

Several signs warned us to be sure and use insect spray with good reason. I’m very susceptible to bug bites and I got my share while I was there.  It was well worth it though!

 One of the many places to relax and enjoy the surroundings at the Botanical Gardens

One of the many places to relax and enjoy the surroundings at the Botanical Gardens

Watching the colorful birds at the Botanical Gardens

Watching the colorful birds at the Botanical Gardens

All sorts of exotic plants at the Botanical Gardens

All sorts of exotic plants at the Botanical Gardens

The Beaches!

We were so fortunate to have two beautiful beaches right at our doorstep. We went down the elevator, walked down the path and there we were!

Gemelas Beach just to the left of our condo

Gemelas Beach just to the left of our condo

The beach to the right of our condo

The beach to the right of our condo

We also took the bus 5 minutes down the coast to Mismaloya to enjoy their beach. This is where the movie The Night of the Iguana was filmed and there are some parts of the set still standing.  It’s a much busier beach with back to back cafes and lots of vendors.  You can rent a jet ski, fishing excursion, get a massage, you name it!

Small and VERY busy Mismaloya Beach

Small and VERY busy Mismaloya Beach

Fun in the sun!

Fun in the sun!

Carnival!

We happened to be in PV during Fat Tuesday, the day they celebrate Carnival. What a crazy and fun night that was!

A few of the MANY men in drag

A few of the MANY men in drag

A fun float

A fun float

The crowds!

The crowds!

Cool costumes!

Cool costumes!

What a great time we had (as usual)! We’ll definitely be returning next year!

 Cheers!

Cheers!

 

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February 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

One fiery night of devastation turns into seven months of anguish

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My son and daughter-in-law Ben and Wendy Baker were married in 1993 and a year later went to work for Farwell Products in Wenatchee, WA, a company that had been in existence for more than 50 years. Farwell Products manufactures Doc Farwell’s Grafting Seal, Tree Paint and Seal & Heal.  These are pliable, thick coatings to apply to trees and vines for grafting, tree protection and tree surgery.  The small business is a two man operation, Ben in production and Wendy in the office.

In 2003 Ben & Wendy bought the business from Wendy’s father and began to increase sales, selling to distributors all across the United States and Canada. Life was good, and business was good.  So good in fact that in 2014 they made the decision to build a bigger, more modern facility in East Wenatchee to house their business so they would be able to increase production even more.

The construction of the new building has started!

The construction of the new building has started!

Ben & Wendy excited about the new warehouse

Ben & Wendy excited about the new warehouse

In the fall of 2014 they broke ground on the new building. After months of red tape, permit issues, inspection considerations, faulty equipment deliveries and all the other headaches associated with the erection of their new building, in the summer of 2015 it was near completion.

In the meantime, Ben & Wendy ordered the new lightnin mixer in anticipation of the completion of the new building. This mixer would enable more flexibility and precision to the mixing process. A brand new fork lift was delivered.  And after a 6 month wait, the new air mixer was delivered.  Ben had started to pack up materials and product in preparation for the move.

Flames surrounding Wenatchee

Flames surrounding Wenatchee

The summer of 2015 was a hot, dry one. There had been a drought and the hillsides surrounding Wenatchee were tinder dry.  On June 28th a wildfire erupted just north of Wenatchee coined the “Sleepy Hollow” fire.  Within hours the fire was out of control.  It was the hottest, fastest fire anyone had ever seen.

The huge, not embers blowing towards town

The huge, not embers blowing towards town

By that evening the wind was carrying the enormous, flaming hot embers everywhere, making its way to the commercial district in the northern part of town.

A 006

Flames shooting out of Farwell Products

Flames shooting out of Farwell Products

Propane and chemicals stored in the area began exploding, spreading the fire to several surrounding warehouses.

Farwell Products left in ashes

Farwell Products left in ashes

Nothing left...

Nothing left…

The next morning showed the devastation. Thousands of acres were burned, 28 homes on the outskirts of Wenatchee were destroyed and several warehouses in the commercial part of town were left in ashes.  Farwell Products was one of them.

The brand new forklift was destroyed

The brand new forklift was destroyed

Immediately Ben went to the warehouse to assess the damages. Everything was a total loss.  All of the equipment and the entire inventory he had on hand were gone.

The clay mixer pulled from the wreckage

The clay mixer pulled from the wreckage

He managed to pull out the clay mixer. Because it is made of carbon steel, it could withstand more heat.  It was warped and twisted but Ben knew it was crucial to try to salvage it since it was needed for the manufacturing of the product they produced.  He loaded it on a trailer and sent what was left of the charred mess to a fabricator to see what they could do.  The days and weeks that followed were a blur.  They dealt with insurance companies, well-wishers sent their condolences, and they waited for the final phase of the new warehouse to be complete.

Orders were coming in. Wendy was dealing with the daily phone calls explaining to everyone that the warehouse had been burned to the ground and that they were re-building as fast as they could to get operations back up and running.  Some were very understanding, others not so much.  “But can’t you just send us a couple of gallons?”, “Sorry, our entire inventory of product was destroyed and we don’t have any way to produce any more.  How can you not understand that?”  It was a very frustrating and stressful time.

The pump (the most important element to the new production process was ordered in August.

The beautiful but empty new warehouse

The beautiful but empty new warehouse

By the middle of September, all inspections were satisfied and the new building was ready to be occupied. Over the next couple of months the new raw materials were ordered and delivered.  The new mixer and tanks and machinery were ordered and slowly but surely started coming into the warehouse.  A new fork lift was delivered.  The clay mixer was salvaged and straightened and rebuilt and delivered at the end of August.  The clay was delivered in September (unfortunately the pallets had shifted during transport and the entire load had to be unloaded by hand and restacked, but it was finally here).  And the pump?  Well, it was on back order.  So they waited…

The rebuilt clay mixer

The rebuilt clay mixer

More orders came in along with more unhappy customers in need of their product.

The product is being mixed one, slow batch at a time.

The product is being mixed one, slow batch at a time.

By the middle of October all the raw materials had been delivered and all of the machinery except for the pump had been delivered. Anxiety finally overcame Ben and he decided he had to do something, so he started mixing the materials the way it was done in the very beginning, without the pump.  It was a tedious and slow process.   He tried this way and that until he finally got a product he was satisfied with.

By the 1st of December he was back in production trying to satisfy some of the orders that had been pouring in.  One slow batch at a time.  And then in the middle of December it happened!  The pump finally arrived… And it was broken! After months and months of trying to salvage the company, this was a heavy blow to Ben and Wendy.

The second pump arrives...finally!

The second pump arrives…finally!

 

On the 18th of January, four and a half months after placing the order, the second pump arrived.  It has been installed and I’m happy to say that on the 30th of January, 2016 Farwell Products is finally back in full production in their beautiful, new warehouse.

Ben & Wendy. Finally back to full production!

Ben & Wendy. Finally back to full production!

Filling orders!

Filling orders!

So many people forget the lasting effects a disaster has on the many people who lost their homes and businesses on that devastating night of June 28th, 2015.  I just wanted to tell the story of one incident…one family…one business… that took 7 months to recover, and is still recovering from that night.  I believe the key force that has gotten Ben & Wendy through this ordeal is their positive attitude, their belief in the product they produce, and their strong love and bond they have for each other.  Together they are a team.  They never lost hope.  Farwell Products, the company that was founded so many years ago, is lucky to have Ben & Wendy as the Keeper of its product.

 

February 13, 2016 at 2:20 am Leave a comment