to mexico, for the children

at auction
A few weekends ago, I attended a charity ball in which the proceeds went to help kids who’ve been the victims of sexual abuse.  There was a band, a live auction, an open bar, a silent auction, good food, and an open bar.  It was my first such event (or, at least, my first time to actually participate in the silent auction component of such an event).  At one point, the large screen behind the band showed items that had yet to receive any bids, so I picked a few I thought might be fun to win, and I bid.  Two such items included trips.  A trip to a place in Mexico had a challenger within the last 30 seconds before the auction closed, but I would not be defeated.  I went higher, and I won.

I thought airfare was included.  It wasn’t.


I won all of them.  Oops.

A couple weeks later, we were on a plane for San Diego.  I got bumped to first class, and since my bride has never flown first class, I decided not to leave her in coach like I’ve done in the past, and I used 30,000 Delta sky miles to bring her up with me.  She liked the hot towels and breakfast food.

I’d always wanted to go inside the bar where Goose plays “Great Balls of Fire” for his wife, Maverick, and Charlie.  We went.

top gun sign

We had the bbq there.  It sucked. My bride had stomach issues for the 2 days that followed.


I did bang on the keys Goose played in that memorable scene featuring his singing with his family, though.  I’d hoped to see Miramar, but “Top Gun” left the facility in 1996 and moved to Nevada, so I saw little point.

That night, we met my Dadcentric friends Andy and Seth for some drinks at a place deemed The First Gay Brewery in the World.  It was awesome.  Add “making beers” to the list of things gay men do better than straight men.

andy and d

Then we hit a karaoke joint but were too late in the evening to get called up to sing.

The next morning, we were off to Mexico.  I was surprised how easy it was to drive across the border.  No one looked at our passport.  No one stopped us.  No one gave a damn.

We checked into the Rosarito Beach Hotel on the Baja peninsula in Mexico.


See that short, wide building full of older, shittier rooms in front of the tower of new rooms behind them?  That’s where they put the folks who won their rooms at a charity auction that raises funds for kids who’ve been victimized by sexual predators.

The bedroom was in the front of the suite, so it was right by the door to the outside (and had a window that faced the sidewalk leading to all the other doors).  It was quite loud at night.

We did have a nice view out of the den window, however, of the water and pier.

The weather was rather cool, so we didn’t actually get in the water or spend any time on the beach.  Instead, we opted to do a wine tour–something neither of us had ever done (in Napa or anywhere else).  I thought we’d board a tour bus for said wine tour, but instead, we climbed into the back seat of some Mexican dude’s personal vehicle.  I tried to image what the demanded ransom would be when we were dropped off at the drug cartel’s headquarters as we sped toward the mountains.

with driver

I got a picture with the son of a bitch, just in case he sold us, so I could email it to a reporter I know.

Our first stop was a brand new winery with a big old vineyard behind it and a cool basement with delicious wines to try for pretty reasonable prices.  They even had a wine club you could join.  It was fancy.

first tasting



The second place was a little shop where we were given cheese and several wines to taste, but there was no vineyard attached.  It got the grapes from elsewhere and then blended them.  I believe it was called “Midnight Sun” if my translation was right.

2nd pour

It was good, too, and we met a lady from southern California who liked to give us unsolicited advice about wines.  She also suggested we go to another place just down the street, so we went.  It was Mexico’s largest winery.



Here, we learned things like red wine and white wine ferment in different sized/shaped vats and for different amounts of time.

We had a bit of time left, so we went down a bumpy dirty road to a tiki bar of sorts that allowed tasting of liqueurs.  Each shot tasted like melted ice cream, and since I really like ice cream for dessert, I had about 15 of them and even bought a few bottles!

d tasting

tasting last

Next, we climbed a mountain (in the back seat of our driver’s car) to eat at a restaurant in Puerto Nuevo, and it was awesome. I think it translated to the “fisherman’s house.”


We sat outside.

view from dinner

And heard some live music.

play guitar

Then the driver took us back to the hotel, and I walked across the street to the only open business now that it was dark outside, and I talked to the artist who was painting there, and we left with 2 oil paintings on canvas.  The artist seemed starved for company, so he hollered outside to his “wine guy” who magically appeared with a full bottle and 3 glasses from the darkness outside.  We talked about trips to Spain, his childhood in Mexico, and differences in American and Mexican pop culture and music while the bottle of wine disappeared.  Eventually, I staggered back to the hotel with my 2 rolled up canvases.


We had “fast passes” to get across the border in the special lane reserved for medical personnel and people with fast passes, but I didn’t realize these lanes were one in the same, so we sat with the plebes for around an hour waiting to cross the border.  We made it, however, and then flew home in time to be here to smoke and fry 2 turkeys at Thanksgiving 2 days later.  And, I made the artist guy my Facebook friend.

All considered, it was a good trip.  I give Mexico 4/5 stars, since no one kidnapped us.  However, given that it was the “off season,” it would have been nice to have been given a room in the nicer, newer tower at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, like where Robert Redford had just stayed to shoot “All is Lost.”  If we go back, I’ll go when it’s warmer and try to surf.  Also, I’ll get a better room (where the doors lead to an interior hallway instead of the loud outside).

Thanks for sending us to Mexico, charity organization that helps sexually abused children!

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  1. Pretty Bride

    And thanks for not leaving me in coach! You know, again.

  2. It was great to see you in San Diego, and I’m glad you didn’t get kidnapped! I’m also glad you made it to Puerto Nuevo–I forgot to suggest that. Sorry the karaoke was a bust. Next time we’ll just have to go a couple hours earlier.

  3. Sounds like it was worth the $$. I work just under the flight path of Miramar AFB. Conference calls are a treat with them “buzzing the tower”. I have a buddy driving several hundred miles south of the San Diego area to surf over the Christmas break. I need to rethink my abstinence of Mexico, since my only education was from my father who said, “You’ve never heard of Montezuma’s Revenge?” I guess he drank the tap water on one trip.

    • You work there? That’s awesome! My understanding is that there is still a military (Marines) base there, but it’s no longer Fighter Weapons School for the Navy (aka “Top Gun”).

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