While on the way to Baja for a trip in December of 2001, someone (perhaps Albert Wang) described a trip to Black Canyon. This is a section of the Colorado River just downstream from the Hoover Dam. It is famous for numerous hot springs and a cave known as "Sauna Cave". I contacted Albert and we arranged to "co-lead" a BASK trip there between December 26th and 31st. Then Konstantin Gortinsky told me about his plans to visit his son and in-laws in Yelapa during this same time period. Konstantin invited me to come down and join him kayaking the coastline of mainland Mexico near Puerto Vallarta. The Black Canyon trip began to look like a zoo to me. Over 20 people from BASK showed interest in going on this trip. We were planning to paddle upstream from Willow Creek instead of the normal access from the Hoover Dam. At Hoover Dam the rangers charge an entrance fee and control the number of people who camp on the Colorado River. I began to fear that the rangers would "sell" 30 "tickets" to the campground and then we would arrive with 20 more people. Although these include many of my favorite BASK friends, I suspected it would be overcrowded.
I watched the ticket prices of trips to Puerto Vallarta on the Internet . This was sort of like watching the price of gold futures on the stock market. The price fluctuated between a low of $450 to a high of $700. I figured if the price got much above $700 I would give up and go to Black Canyon. When I finally decided to go to Yelapa the lowest ticket price had risen to $550. However, it turned out that MOST of the low airfares on www.Orbitz.com were teasers. They were United Airlines flights that did not issue e-tickets and therefore could not be purchased without several weeks notice to mail the ticket to me! With less than 3 days notice, each of these airfares disappeared when I clicked on the BUY button. A box popped up that recommended I contact United directly. I tried United Airline’s WEB site and they had nothing for under $1200. I tried contacting United by phone and they claimed to have no seats on any flight to Puerto Vallarta until sometime in January. When I quoted the flight numbers and connecting Mexican airlines, they told me that those flights did not appear on their computers and that United did not have a relationship with that Mexican airline. I suspect Orbitz may have been playing games with the schedules, quoting the combined cost of a United flight to LA plus the cost of a Mexican flight from LA to Puerto Vallarta.
I went back to the Orbitz.com site and clicked on the lowest cost flight with Alaskan Airlines and this worked. Alaska flies directly to Puerto Vallarta from San Francisco (saving me 4 hours of travel time – worth the extra money), they would issue an e-ticket over the Internet, and the price was still within my acceptable range.