1 February, 2010 Polo Acosta RV Park (Alamos, Sonora, Mexico )
I did pre-leavings things today since it was the 'day before leaving'. I might have had a last breakfast of “Heuvos con Nopales” but then again maybe not – I'll know tomorrow morning.
I then washed my car and trailer; not a great job but 'good enough' – the Bulgarian way.
Then for my lunch/dinner I went to Las Palmeras for their green corn tamales again – I don't know when I'll find them once more.
I also checked out the Dolisa Park again and there were 4 big rigs remaining. There are only 4 of us left here also; the big fifth wheel on my side of the street left early with the Airstream from across the street leaving soon after noon.
2 February 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I was up at 6:00 today and even after driving around looking for a parking place near Dona Lola I still got there before they opened. They opened up for me and I got “Napoles” once more. I think it was the owner that took my order this morning and she asked me if I wanted anything else scrambled with them so I added chorizo. This seemed to please her very much; she was very complimentary of my choice!
I also told her that I wanted bean and meat burritos to go: one very large or two regular sized ones. When I opened the bag at 4:00 what I found was 8 all meat burritos; they were small but 4 of them were enough for dinner.
It was cloudy as I left Alamos and they got lower and blacker as I drove south. By the time I got near Culiacan I was in scattered showers with heavy rain to the east in the mountains. I then got a steady rain all the way to the RV Resort which was on a very slick muddy road. I had planned on staying here a week or two but with more rain tonight and/or tomorrow I may be here for the two weeks even if I don't want to. My most pressing worry is getting out for food.
The total drive today was 324 miles; a little more than I now want to do in a day. It took me about 8 hours to do it and that was traveling on the MX15D Toll Road. The 'free' road would have saved me 514 pesos but would have been closer to 12 hours and more wear and tear on car and trailer.
I think I have read somewhere that Mexico's toll roads are the most expensive in the world and I went through 6 tolls stations today. There were federal police at one of them doing a 'strip search' on the cab of a big rig truck. Fortunately, I was asked a question in Spanish that I did not understand and when I gave a blank dumb look as a reply I was waved on.
3 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I got up to a very soggy landscape; at 3:00 I heard it still rain so this was not a surprise. The space next to me had become lake front property with a large one in the middle of the Park road.
I had the other 4 burritos for my breakfast and then walked up to the office where WIFI is available. The RV Park, and some of the other lots, have beach frontage but it is only 200-250' wide and maybe ¼ mile from the entrance to the beach.
My campsite in Celestino RV Resort.
The office is near the entrance and my space is near the bathrooms and maybe 200 yards from the beach. There are young coconut palms, some with coconuts, planted along both sides of this long Park. The lot to the south is undeveloped and has a good thick stand of brush to provide a windbreak. The north side lot has been cleared but not developed.
While I was updating my web site I was talking to 3-4 people about my food access situation. From that conversation I found that there is a restaurant about a mile north at another Cabana & RV Park. Therefore, after computer work was done I took a walk along a very muddy road to find it.
My boots caked up with mud so bad that I was flinging gobs of it off with every step for the first ½ mile. From there on the soil become much more sandy a much more pleasant walk. I made a second trip in the afternoon to get dinner, and tomorrows breakfast, for a total of 4.47 miles.
The road north was much drier in the afternoon but the road to the south that I drove in on is still a mess and I can not get out that way. The RV Park owner says that is the best way to get out so I need it to dry out more – maybe tomorrow afternoon? One of the other campers got stuck trying to go south this morning in a Class B and the Park owner had to go pull him out.
The problems of yesterday were then compounded last night with a big lightning storm that started at 7:00 northwest of the Park. This was followed by a VERY strong wind storm and more rain at the campground. The good news, if there is any, was that the rain totaled about ¼ inch rather than over an 1” yesterday!
I had feruled my umbrella for the night and had folded up my chair and placed it between the umbrella pole and the trailer. I heard the wind blow it out of that position and had some difficulty getting back to sleep because of worry that it had done some damage – more good news, it didn't!
4 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I had picked up 4 green corn tamales yesterday when I had dinner and ate two of them for breakfast this morning. Then it was web site update time and exchanged damage reports with the other campers. There was awning damage at a few sites and a lot of chairs blown around but that seems to be it.
The owner here keeps touting the south road exit as the best way in and out of the Park. I would say that it stays virtually impassable during the rainy season and is a mess for 2-3 days after winter rains. The owner blames this on what the Mexicans have done to the road but it looks to me that he has created the problem by damming the natural drainage of the road with 'topes' (speed bumps).
I walked the north road exit this afternoon and I could have driven it while the to the south is still a series of 'hog wallows'. This walk north took me into the village of Celestino Gasca where I had an early dinner or late lunch at an open-air shanty. You can see oyster fishermen diving just off the coast near the Park so I had to have some.
They are quite small but I got a half plate of fried oysters with rice, sliced tomatoes & cucumbers plus a stack of tortilla that I didn't finish. They were very good and everything was about half the price of the fish fillet that I had yesterday at the other RV Park restaurant.
I stopped at that restaurant again on my way back with the intent of picking up something for later or breakfast. The regular cook was still in Culiacan and the young girl that cooked for me yesterday did not come to work today – kitchen closed!
I'm hoping that we have no more rain and I'll drive out the north exit tomorrow and explore the towns of La Cruz to the north and Dimas to the south.
5 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I'm trying to establish a routine for this campground; I do the same things at everyone of them but the timing is always different. I'm relying on restaurants for all my meals so their operating hours dictate somewhat the routine.
I walked into Celestino Gasco this morning for breakfast and stopped at the closest one to me, it is was 3.95 miles round trip. Yesterday, I had stopped and asked them if they served breakfast and at what time. Today, I arrived at 7:30, the time they said they would open, and the door was still locked to the seating area and the son was still asleep on a cot there.
We then 'talked' about what I wanted and the cook showed me an egg and some ham during the discussion. I said I wanted eggs & chorizo with rice & beans; the cook was all smiles and very agreeable to this. What I got was eggs & ham with rice & beans. In addition, all they had was instant Nescafe coffee which I do not like.
For my lunch/dinner I drove out on the north road to La Cruz and Dimas. I only drove through La Cruz to get my bearings in town and to locate a bank. I then went to Dimas where I ate at what appears to be the most popular place in town.
I got fried oysters again but this time they were not breaded, just fried with some onions. They were OK that way and I guess I'm lucky that they cooked them – everyone else was eating them raw.
The remainder of the day was spent on the computer or reading. That will probably be my routine while here but I need to arrive later for breakfast. Timing is everything!
6 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I took a walk on the south road this morning and could not stay in the road because of 2 large water/mud holes. The round trip to MX15D was 3.11 miles which is shorter than the north road. However it is only .4 miles less to pavement and that is not enough that I would want to drive through the mud.
The owner keeps telling me how fast it drys out yet the north was passable in 2 days and I still would not go out the south. I no longer think I would get stuck going south but I would get my rig much muddier. The only reason that I can see for the owner to continually tout the south road is it keeps potential campers from driving past the other three RV parks.
I then drove north to the village and had breakfast at the restaurant where I had the oysters. My timing was somewhat better; they were sweeping the place out in preparation for setting out tables and chairs.
I told them what I wanted and the whole family snapped to. One of the smaller girls went to the 'store' for chorizo and flour tortillas (they probably had corn tortillas on hand, they are more popular here.) The oldest girl stopped her sweeping and got my table set up. The man of the house built up a wood fire in the outdoor stove to toast the tortillas. He then left in a car but soon returned with the regular cook, the woman of the house had started the preparation.
All I am offered here is Nescafe instant so I'm off coffee until I get back north where they brew real coffee!
I tried another restaurant in Dimas for dinner that was a little more up-scale than the most popular one. The prices where also a little higher (about the same as the higher priced restaurant in Alamos) but I got the best 'Fillet de la Veracruz' that I have had since Ricardo's at Rice & Beans.
7 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I walked into the village to the same restaurant as yesterday (4.29 miles round trip) for breakfast again. When I left yesterday I told them I would be back between 8-8:30 and wanted a ham omelett with rice and beans.
When I showed up they were in about the same state of readiness as yesterday. However, they got me a table a chair and began cooking without a word said. I did need to tell the oldest girl once again that I wanted orange juice. Then the youngest girl served me as she did before.
It wasn't an omelett but it was close and it did have a lot of ham in it. I also stopped at the Hotel & Restaurant near the MX15D exit to Celestino Gasca to see what they might have and found that the restaurant is closed. If you have not figured it out yet I want to make it perfectly clear that Celestino Gasca is NOT a tourist stop!
I had dinner at the same restaurant in Dimas as yesterday and they had two large groups plus 4-5 tables of 2-6. They were doing a big business; the two waitresses and the waiter plus the cook and bar tender had it well under control. I'll get the name of this restaurant written down on my next visit – I can't remember what it is unless it is in print in front of me.
I think I will stay here one more week. There is more rain forecast for Tue night and/or Wen but I know what I have to do here, I don't know what I will have to deal with at my next long camp. This would be a good place for an extended stay in a Class C but it does present some challenges to me with my Teardrop and only emergency cooking capability.
8 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I skipped my walk this morning and drove into La Cruz at about 7:30. On 5 Feb I drove through La Cruz to get an idea of the town and found a Banco de Norte by accident.
Today I could not find it again when I was looking for it with a purpose; I was all around it but was so concerned with which streets were one-way that I never saw it. However, unlike the stereotypical male I stopped and asked directions after about my third try to find it. LOL
After buying some more pesos which may be my last purchase; I went to a very nice 'mercado' (it had all kinds of stuff, kind of like a Super Wal*Mart) where I got a liter of water and a bottle of tequila. The cashier pointed at the tequila and rattled off a stream of Spanish, not of word of it understandable to this 'gringo'. The manager then came over and told me that I could not buy it until after 9:00 am.
Therefore, I drove around another couple of blocks and found a restaurant where I got a cup of REAL coffee. Then after breakfast I was back to the 'mercado' for the tequila, cheese and jalapeños to go with some green corn tamales that I was told I could buy from a vendor in the parking lot. Alas, the parking lot vendor had none; he said that they were being made and would be ready in the afternoon.
An aside here about my Spanish speaking abilities – they are very, very poor but I am surviving and making some progress. Way back when in Alamos when I first asked for green corn tamales I said “tamal de maiz verde” or literal translation “tamales of corn green”. This was understood but I have learned that I should ask for “tamal de elote” or the literal “tamales of tender corncob”. If you were to see that on the menu and do the literal translation it may not sound very inviting.
My dinner was at the open-air restaurant in Dimas (near the radio tower) that I went to on 5 Feb. Today I had shrimp in garlic butter that was quite good and the same price as yesterdays fish fillet.
My exercise for the day was to was the mud off of my whitewalls and rims. “Mi coche' (My car) is looking good once again!
9 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I'm still working on the timing issue. This morning I tried getting up just a little earlier and doing my 3.87 mile round trip walk to where the pavement begins on the west side of Celestino Gasca.
That got me back to camp a little after 8 and I was back to the same restaurant in La Cruz as yesterday by 8:30. If I had wanted anything at the 'mercado' it was after 9:00 by the time I finished breakfast. This also has the advantage of my doing my computer work a little later and the gnats are not as bad.
The woman I met in Alamos has a web site blog that has a wonderful discussion about 'gnat rags'. A 'gnat rag' is a colorful handkerchief that is used to fan away the gnats in Alamos during wet season (Jun – Aug). Her advice is to find that just right song to play in your head that will give you the perfect gnat fanning rhythm.
The first few days here after the rains last week had me wishing for a 'gnat rag' and that perfect song tempo. LOL
There is more rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon – bad news. Good news – only a 40% chance of rain and if it does we will get less than ½ inch.
I went back into La Cruz for gas at Pemex for my car and the same restaurant again for my dinner. When I left this morning I asked the owner if she had 'fish Veracruz style' and she said she did; I then told her I would be back at 3 or 4 this afternoon.
When I got there at about 3:30 the owner was not there but there were two women in the kitchen. One of them came out and spread a table cloth for me and then went back in the kitchen where both women were stirring around.
In about 10 minutes the owner came back and asked me what I wanted to drink. I told her and asked for 'fish Veracruz style'. She then rattled of a bunch of Spanish that I guess was probably something like this: “What do you think my two cooks are doing in the kitchen? I told them to make you 'fish Veracruz style' when they saw you walk in!”
I'm sorry to say the fish was not very good.
10 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I continued my routine of getting up around 6:00 and doing my walk. Today I went south to check the road conditions again and also to see if I would reach Playa Las Labradas. It is a few miles south of Celestino Gasca where there are many lava rocks with petroglyphs.
A large cardon along the road to the south of my RV Park. The flowers seem to only last one day, there was a cluster of flowers yesterday were you now see fruit.
I don't know how far a few miles south might be to the Guide Book writers but my 3.43 mile round trip did not get me to them. I did reach a long sandy beach about a mile south of camp and walked some of the sand and some of the wrack left by the last hurricane but saw no lava rocks.
That put me on schedule to arrive at Restaurant Campestre de Mariscas in Dimas at 8:30 where I had breakfast. This is the restaurant that is more up-scale in Dimas; it is the first place you come to when you exit MX15D for Dimas going north or south. Arriving at 8:30 is still early however by local standards and they were just setting up tables.
I got a huge breakfast with orange juice, only Nescafe available, for less than I have paid in Celestino Gasca. The waiter served me this morning so I have now been served by the entire wait staff and they are all great. I believe the owner came in for his breakfast also while I was there and said a pleasant good-by to be when he left.
Another aside: since my first long camp was in San Ignacio, Baja Sur I find it interesting that this last long camp is also in San Ignacio. Let me explain how that can be; you see Dimas (and I assume Celestino Gasca) are in San Ignacio County, Sinaloa (maybe it is not a county as in our political divisions but only a region?).
11 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
The only thing that was worthy writing about yesterday and I forgot to do so.
I went to the Dimas open-air restaurant again and had Ranchero Shrimp that was excellent; either place in Dimas is the place to get fish or shrimp. While I was there a young (in their twenties) couple came in but before sitting down the senorita took a picture of my car with her cell phone. She then turned to me and asked if it was mine, I answered in the affirmative and she gave me a big smile and a thumbs up.
This Old Graybeard has not had a thumbs up from a young senorita in many, many a year. I didn't know what, nor how, to say anything so I just basked in the compliment. LOL
We had only a few sprinkles yesterday during the day but did get a light rain during the night. When I got up today it looked like there would be sun through the high clouds. Therefore, I changed my routine and did laundry rather than walk.
I forgot to pack my clothes line and have not needed it until at this campground but found that the barbed wire fence at the back of my site worked just fine. There was a steadily increasing wind all day and that plus the sun had everything dry by noon.
I did my normal breakfast and dinner runs and another stop at the 'mercado' in La Cruz. This time there was a woman at the vendors spot and I got lots of Spanish spoken to me when I asked for 'tamal de elote'. The only thing I picked up on from her long discourse was “10 minutes”.
So I went in the 'mercado' to buy some cheese to snack on. There is a refrigerated case with perhaps 30 different cheeses in it. I wanted the dry crumbly kind that is somewhat like Feta or Bulgarian White Cheese (the country of 'good enough' – two kinds of cheese, White and Yellow).
Therefore, I asked for dry cheese in Spanish and the clerk got a brick of it from the case. I then told her, in Spanish, that I wanted 300 grams and she sliced it off and gave it to me. A crowning moment in my efforts to speak Spanish! Note: My fellow Peace Corps readers will understand this after listening to my attempts to speak Bulgarian. LOL
It then took me about 15 minutes to get through the checkout line – they changed clerks and had to count the money in the register. That did give the vendor his 10 minutes to show up but that did not happen. Once again I went away without any 'tamal de elote'.
12 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
The wind kept building in strength through out the day and by late afternoon was blowing hard. If you sat in direct sun it was too hot and with the wind it was too cool in the shade. No rain and only mare's tails streaming across the sky. Not perfect weather but much better than snow and ice.
There was a big Class A from Saskatchewan come into the park about 4 days ago and took a space near the entrance. Then 2 days ago the moved to the space to the right of me; this is the space that when it rains becomes lake front property.
While I was on the computer today the man of the Class A took a chair next to me and asked “Were you in the Cocopah Casino parking lot at the beginning of January?” I told him that I had been and he said that he and his wife had been parked in the regular RV lot and remembered my rig.
They have been further south in Mexico, along the coast, and are now on their way back north with an intended stop in TX. I told him that I was going that way also by way of Durango and he said that he wanted to go that way but his Class A, with 'toad', was too long for that road. I advised him to take MX16 across from Hermosillo and cross into TX at Persidio.
The rest of the day was routine, however I skipped the walk – lazy and the same route becomes boring, that is why I have had at least 7 routes in Reno.
I have been meaning to write about the crops that I have seen since leaving Alamos and leaving the desert, today seems like a good time.
Starting about half way between Navajoa and Los Mochis I started seeing corn on both sides of MX15D. This has continued all the way south to Dimas with corn planted as far as I could see at times. Then starting a little north of Culiacan there would be a field of sugar cane here and there.
If you will look closely at the license plates of a vehicle from Sinaloa you will see in the center a very red tomato with a green stem. That seems to be the big cash crop of Sinaloa or maybe they are just proud of their tomatoes.
They have a lot of them; starting just north of Culiacan there a large fields of staked tomato plants. There are also many greenhouses that are covered with cloth rather than the plastic used in Baja. From Culiacan to Dimas the tomatoes are almost as prevalent as the corn.
La Cruz is an agriculture town of about 10,000 with many services for the farmers. The small restaurant that I have gone to there has Dow & Sumitomo Chemical framed advertising posters on the wall as decorative art.
Only a couple of Km south of La Cruz there is a group of greenhouses that I estimate to be one Km wide (north to south) and 2 Km long (west to east). This complex must provide employment for many people in La Cruz.
There is a smaller group just north of Celestino Gasca that offers employment for some of the people of the village. I have mentioned the oyster fishermen in the area. There are also 'laboratories' that grow shrimp from the egg and then sell them to shrimp farms that continue their growth.
13 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
As I near my departure from Celestino Gasca I have less and less to say about the area. However, for things to do at this time of the year there was a shuttle van that went into Mazatlan last night for Carnival. I did not go (the scheduled return time was 1:00 am) but I'm sure I'll hear some reports tomorrow from those that did.
I have read, or heard, that Mazatlan Carnival is the third largest in the world behind New Orleans Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
I do have some more to say about the books that I brought with me. It took me forever to read the Iliad but I have now finished the first volume of The Outline of History by H. G. Wells. The 1961 publication that I'm reading has been revised and brought up tp date by Raymond Postgate. I'm now just starting volume two but wanted to pass on a couple of quotes that I have found so far that are thought provoking.
For, indeed, what are a man's political activities but the expression in action of his ideas of the past?
If that quote holds any truth, I believe it does, then what have President Obama's actions told us about his ideas of the past? I will not create a firestorm by telling you what I think but only present the quote and my question for you to ponder over.
The lawgiver, of all beings, most owes the law allegiance. He of all men should behave as though the law compelled him. But it is the universal weakness of mankind that what we are given to administer we presently imagine we own.
This quote applies to ALL of our elected officials as well as ALL of our beurocrats at every level of government, business or any other organization. It is probably one of the strongest statements that I have read to justify term limits for elected office and a serious modification of our Civil Service policies.
14 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
The only thing that I did outside of my routine today was wash my trailer. That was step one in my preperation to leave Celestino Gasca on Tueday 2/16.
Tomorrow I will fill up with gas in La Cruz and buy a couple of things at the 'mercado'. I'll then wash the xB after that trip and see how much dust I collect when I do my dinner run to Dimas - those are step two. The final preperation step will be to hook-up the trailer when I get back from dinner.
I'll post this update tomorrow but do not expect 2/15 – 2/18 to be posted daily. I'll be traveling to Durango, Hidalgo de Parral and Cuahtemoc and will not have much time nor WIFI access. If to do have the time and WIFI it will surprise me.
I might be able to catch up on my postings while in Cuahtemoc but do not know if WIFI is available – I might use an Internet Cafe.
If everything goes as I have planned I'll cross the US/Mexico border on 2/26 and re-establish my Verizon Air Card service. Therefore, if I'm way late in my daily postings look for me to catch up in March.
15 February, 2010 Celestino RV Resort (Celestino Gasca, Sinaloa, Mexico )
I did computer work until 10:00 this morning . The first reason for taking so long was to get everything caught up to date. The second reason, I was waiting for the 'fruit and vegetable' vendor to come.
He usually comes on Mon & Fri so I asked him last Fri to bring me some 'tamal de elote'. Today is Mon – he did not come!
I then drove into La Cruz for gas and a couple of things at the 'mercado'. The vendor table there had a different woman at it but she had the same answer to my request for 'tamal de elote' – “he is coming with them”.
While I was in La Cruz I also picked up a Mr. Rin Rin Pizza which is next door to the 'mercado' - this was my late breakfast or early lunch.
I ordered a large Italian Salami but after about 10 minutes they told me they didn't have any Salami. What is this propensity I have for selecting things to eat that are not available?
My second choice was as good as Lil Caesar's and I have kept a lot of it for breakfast and lunch tomorrow while on the road.
Then it was back to camp and wash the xB. The first couple of buckets of water just made mud which I then pushed around. I can usually wash it with two buckets of water but today took five. The cleaning did bring to light a new scratch in the front fender that I probably got while parked at the 'mercado' on one of my trips.
I had my final dinner at Restaurant Campestre de Mariscos which is voted best place to eat in the area. I liked their 'pescado Veracruzano' (fish Veracruz style) very much and wanted it one more time. I'm now voting it the best that I have had on this trip; however, Rice & Beans serve theirs with a baked potato. OH, what a decision it would be if both restaurants were in the same town.
I have had oysters, fish or shrimp for dinner every day that I have been here and they have all been great with one exception (it was not bad, just not as good). The negative to that is I have gone through a tank of gas getting to the restaurants.
This would be a great place to stop in a self contained RV if you wanted good sea food and can drive into La Cruz once a week to stock up. It is on my 'keeper list' for the future; however, I would watch the weather forecasts closely for anticipated hard rains!
16 February 2010 PEMEX #8635 (San Juan del Rio, Durango, Mexico )
This was a long day, about 9 ½ hours (with only two short stops) to cover only 298 miles.
Some pictures of the Sierra Madre Occidental from the Devil's Backbone.
I have driven steep and twisty roads but nothing to compare with The Devil's Backbone'. This is the 200 miles of MX40 from the junction with MX15, near Mazatlan, to Durango. I have talked about roads that you have to drive (that is use the clutch, brake & accelerator – no kicking back with cruise control) - those are twisty roads. This was one of those roads that make good drivers better and made poor drivers a statistic.
I had read so much about 'The Devil's Backbone' that I had to drive it before they complete the Toll Road that will change its character. The Toll Road will replace a lot of the traffic that makes it a road that is a whole level beyond a road that you have to drive. Currently the Toll Road is complete from the MX15 junction to Concordia on the west end and from Durango to El Salto on the east. I drove the old MX40!
On some of the curves a big rig with single trailer will have the cab in one curve and the trailer still in the last one. For them to get through many of the curves they must take the entire road. The challenge is to look as far ahead on the road as you can to anticipate meeting such a truck and curve combination.
There is only about 100 miles that is this intense with most of it on the western side of the mountains where you climb from sea level to over 6,000 feet. The eastern side does not drop back down that much and the road is much straighter as you near Durango.
However, with about 20 miles remaining until Durango and you think that you have made it when suddenly the road drops off the edge of the earth once again into a deep canyon and then you climb back out.
I went through two military checkpoints today; one near the Durango/Sinaloa border and the second just before the MX40 bypass around Durango.
The first one asked me a question in Spanish and I told him I did not understand – he then just waved me on. The second one wanted to see inside the trailer, in fact they all wanted to see inside the trailer; I had 6 'inspectors' all take a look.
One guy spoke a little English and he wanted to know what my xB cost. We had a good laugh over his understanding $15,000 NOT $50,000.
After I turned onto MX45, heading north, I started looking for a PEMEX (Mexican gas station) where I could stay the night. I saw one in Donato Guerra but I didn't see anything near by where I could get food. I continued on to San Juan del Rio which was not much better. My parking place was near the main road into town and near the entrance to the station.
The section of MX45 from Durango to Hidalgo del Parral is part of the Pan American Highway. I was not very impressed bu it, it is about the same as MX40 but not as steep or twisty and the road surface is worse.
I don't know how close to full my tanks were after the last two fill-ups. Assuming that they were close to the same level I got 35.5 MPG today with over 100 miles of it in 2nd and 3rd gear – not much in 5th gear and very little cruise control.
February 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
As I have done many times I changed my plans again today; plans for me are only a general guideline and I stay flexible.
Yesterday it was my plan to stay in a PEMEX on the north side of Durango but I ended up about 110 Km north. When I left this morning I was going to go to a RV Park north of Cuahtemoc. Around noon I stopped to check my map, determine where I would need to stop for gas and what my alternatives were.
The Cuahtemoc Park is 13 Km north of town with no services at the Park and I would have to fill up with gas somewhere before getting there. My alternative was a Park 14 Km west of Chihuahua that is behind a PEMEX station with a mini-market, ATM & 24 hour restaurant. I could also reach it without an additional fill-up.
I have been told that they have WIFI here but I need a password which has not been given to me yet; the manager needs to give permission and he is not around. I have also checked and the signal does not reach the campsite so I'm not sure where I'll need to go when/if I get a password.
I am now a day ahead of my schedule, which is also always flexible, so I think I will stop at the Cuahtemoc Park for one day after my week here.
The scenery today was like I was driving through some of northern New Mexico or northeastern Arizona or parts of southern Utah. A lot of bare mountains, desert and canyons with the occasional river – no more tropical vegetation; more like home.
The road surface was bad almost all day with only a few miles of good road thrown in as an exception to get my hopes up. Both MX45 and MX24 pass through a lot of very small villages that are not on my map. Each one of them has 2-8 'topes' (speed bumps) and/or the village streets are as bad as the 'topes'.
I complained about the cost of the Toll Roads but this is what all the free roads are like – very hard on car and trailer.
It is much cooler here than anyplace I have been since entering Mexico some two months ago. There is very bright sunshine but I need a windbreaker because of the cold wind. I assume that I'll probably get a week of wind here and in Cuahtemoc and just need to accept the fact that I'm moving back toward winter.
18 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
The military checkpoints have become so common an occurrence that I forgot to include the one that I went through yesterday. It was a little south of the Durango/Chihuahua border at crossroad with MX24 and the guard only wanted to look in my xB. He only looked around in the back seat where I have two bags of clothes, a chuck box, boots, dirty laundry and 'stuff'. In all the checkpoints that I have stopped at never has a bag been opened nor the chuck box lid lifted.
My first surprise of today came when I tried to drive out of the RV Park at 7:30 am. The gate was locked! There are bathrooms by the swimming pool in the Park but the showers have been shut down for the winter. The other bathrooms are in the min-market, restaurant and gas station complex (it is somewhat like a Flying J truck stop).
I had intended to drive over to the restaurant each morning and walk in the afternoons but it looks like the driving part may not be possible. I was told later in the day that most of the time the lock is only in place and not locked so I can open the gate if I want but sometimes the night watchman will lock it. LOL
My second surprise was not knowing what time of the day it was. The map I have indicates that when I crossed into the State of Durango I crossed into the Central Time Zone. I verified that my watch was correct in San Juan del Rio and it was, they were on central Time.
Today I saw a clock in the restaurant and it had Pacific Time or one hour behind my watch. I asked Francisco (my English speaking contact in the Park) about this and he said they were on Chihuahua Time – I'm not sure what that is all about.
Most of my day was spent at my campsite typing up the notes for 2/25 through 2/27 and then posting to my web page.
I copied the typed notes to a floppy disk and then took the floppy to Francisco's 'office' (an area under a flight of stairs). There I tried to read my disk on his computer but his floppy drive must be bad so I used my external drive connected to his USB port and was able to copy the notes to his computer.
Then the real fun began. His computer has some version of Windows in Spanish and I have become very comfortable with my Ubuntu and have forgot where a lot of the Windows menu item are placed. In addition, his keyboard was different than any I have ever used with Spanish abbreviations on some of the keys. It took me a long time to find Home and End of Page, I never did discover how to type the @ symbol.
I did manage to get current on my web page. This included all my blog days, an update to the place map with markers, an updated Mexico States Visited Map and corrections to some ongoing errors in February.
After my lunch/dinner at either 3 or 4 this afternoon (depending on what time it was) I was writing up these notes when a man and his son stopped and asked me if he could look at my Teardrop. We held this conversation in English, his was much better than my Spanish. He said that he has been looking at Teardrops on the Internet and wants to build one. He comes here everyday to feed his horses that are boarded in pens and fields adjoining the Park.
There was a lot of rain in the mountains to the west and southwest late in the day. The only thing that we got out of the storm was some strong wind that died down by the time I went to sleep.
It was a better nights sleep also, Francisco was willing to leave almost all the Park lights turned off last night. I am the only camper in the Park so he is very willing to do anything, within reason, to make my stay as comfortable as possible. However, no WIFI password yet!
19 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
After the strong winds in the early evening yesterday they calmed down with sundown. However, they seemed to come back up with the sun also.
I went to a table by the pool where the wind was blocked to type up the notes of yesterday. While doing so Francisco came by and told me there was now a WIFI connection from the restaurant (he did not know it had been installed now for about a week) that did not require a password. I could not get a signal from the pool location so I went to the restaurant and YES, I have WIFI!
I think my normal routine will be to go to the table at the pool to type up my notes and then connect to the restaurant WIFI from the parking lot if I'm not eating.
The staff gave me the impression that they were going to keep interrupting me all the time I am there unless I'm eating – that is what they did today, even though I told them later.
Francisco says that he is the electrician here so I gave him my trailer fan and asked him if he could re-attach the wires to the motor. He will look at it and see – I'll wait!
I got some neighbors, from NM, this afternoon in a big Class A with a 'toad'. Francisco knew them and said that they stop here quite often and they had family members come and visit them in the late afternoon.
While I was at my lunch/dinner he joined me at my table and we talked while we ate. He lived in AZ for about 25 years, some of it illegal, after graduating from a Mexican university and then going to ASU in Phoenix for his Masters.
He has come down a long ways in his lifestyle from those days to how he lives now but he seems happy enough with his current situation. I'm not sure if he likes my company or that he enjoys some conversation in English. LOL
20 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
There were strong winds today starting before sunup and continuing through the night. It was too cold to sit outside during the morning hours and unpleasant the rest of the time. It continued to blow very hard after sundown, which is a little unusual, and then through most of the night.
My neighbors were coming into breakfast as I was leaving and the man of the couple saw my computer and asked about WIFI (the woman never spoke a word). I told him that it had been available for a week now and that I was the first customer to use it. He then said that on his last trip they had told him it was going to be installed.
I did not notice their Class A in the parking lot but when I got back to my site I saw that they had pulled out so they must have then left after their breakfast. I have the Park to myself once again.
I noticed that the WIFI signal in the restaurant was only at 55% strength this morning and wonder why that might be? I subsequently found out that it is using the same broadband as the gas stations data transmission system, they have just added another user name. Therefore, even if I am the only other user there will be much less than 100% available to use.
I also got an answer to my Time Zone question by looking up the Zones for Mexico on the Internet. Durango is on Central Time but if the line were drown straight it would be in Mountain Time as is Chihuahua. The Zone lines have been drawn around state borders and this has misplaced Durango.
21 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
The wind was still against me this morning before sunup. It was not a strong as yesterday but it blew all day again. It kept me trailer bound for a good part of the day as it did yesterday.
I have seen the Copper Canyon Train (Chihuahua to Los Mochis) 2-3 times since I have been here. It comes past the Park around 6:30 am going west.
I have considered driving to Creel or taking the train but thought I would put it off until another trip at a warmer time of the year. It is below freezing at night in Creel.
I'm also not doing this trip as a tourist but rather to determine what it would be like to live on the road at the various places that I have passed through or stayed at. I did nothing while I was living in Reno that you could call recreation/entertainment so why should I do it on the road?
In Reno I couldn't because of cost, if I find that I have the money while living on the road then I'll be adding that category of expenditure. The very best answer that I have read to the question “How much money does it take to be a Fulltimer?” has been “All that you have.”
This is true where ever you live, Your expenditures increase until the money is gone each month; I include monthly savings as an expenditure of your monthly income.
There has been a unoccupied Class C sitting in the Park since I got here. Last night a car drove up to it after dark and the RV lights were on for about and hour and then the car left again – strange.
22 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
The winds had moderated during the night and this sunup was calm. That did not last through the morning however and it was much colder today. The past three days have been almost cloud free so I do not associate all the winds with a storm – maybe it always blows here?
The side effect of these windy days has been my finishing volume two of The outline of History by H. G. Wells. He tends to interject a considerable amount of his own opinion as he does this outline but it is interesting reading.
I have found another wonderful quote from the book.
...had previously been a prominent student and teacher of constitutional law and the political sciences generally. He had held various professional chairs, … We are dealing here with an able and successful professor of political science, who did not fully realize what he owed his contemporaries and the literary and political atmosphere he had breathed throughout his life; and who passed very rapidly, after his re-election as President, from the mental attitudes of a political leader to those of a Messiah.
Mark Twain said that the past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
Are we now living through a rhyme in history? Two Presidents, almost 100 years apart, that thought of themselves, or were described by others, as a Messiah.
The President that H. G. Wells was describing imposed the IRS and Federal Reserve on us. I'm not sure what the second Messiah will manage to do but I'm convinced he will attempt to force us to sacrifice our freedom, interest and desires for the sake of the “common good”.
I got my trailer fan fixed! Francisco had it fixed yesterday and we got it re-wired and soldered to the trailer wiring today. Now all I have to do is remember that I must tighten the nut that holds it to the shelving everyday. There is a plastic bolt and nut that hold the fan and the trailer vibration loosens it very quickly.
To pay him for his efforts I took him to lunch/dinner and we both had the 'fish Vercruz style'; it was good fish but it was NOT 'Pescado a la Vercruzano'.
23 February, 2010 Gasolinera del Fresno Park (Km 14 west of Chihuahua, Chihuahua , Mexico )
There was no wind to start the day – good news. There was light rain to take its place and it was very cold – bad news. The wind came up again in mid-morning and surprisingly it was blowing from the east; the last three days it has come from the west.
It did clear up in the afternoon and the wind died down with the sun. There had been only enough rain to dampen the ground and make my trailer and car ugly.
I work up at 11:00 last night and the condensation from my breath was frozen on the inside of the roof vent of my trailer. I crawled into my heavier sleeping bag knowing that I was going to wake up to a cold morning.
I was back inside for most of the day but I did get hitched up and ready to travel tomorrow. It will be a short driving day so I will not be in too much of a hurry. I'll try to get this update posted while I'm at breakfast.
I'm still undecided what route to take after tomorrow especially with the storm that brought the rain this morning. I'll make the final decision when I get up on the morning of the 25th I guess. LOL
24 February 2010 Loewen's RV Park (Cuahtemoc, Chihuaha, Mexico )
It is a good thing that I didn't want an early start or that I only had a short drive today.
First, the watchman had the RV Park gate locked again. I saw him a little before 7:00 and asked him to open it; it took him until 7:30 to get around to it.
Second, there was no hot water for a shower (the gas line to the water heater had frozen). I took a quick shower (sort of) in the VERY cold water. When I was about half way to Cuahtemoc I remembered that I had left my soap and shampoo in the shower.
Third, I got a little lost in Cuahtemoc. I took the 'libre' (free road) which put me into the center of town and I couldn't find the highway designation I was looking for. My Guide Book gives an address of 14 Km north of Cuahtemoc on Mexican highway 65. The map I have shows a road north from town as being CHI28. The signs in Cuahtemoc list the road as being CHI5.
I did finally get on the correct road to Alvaro Obregon still not knowing for sure what the highway number was. Note: I will discuss highway signs and how they should be read and or used in a later post.
Fourth, The RV Park is very poorly marked; only a sign on the front of a building that is about 100 yards back from the road. I drove past it to Km 15 and turned around then saw it as I was going south. I turned around once again and almost went past the entrance as I was going back north. It had trucks and CAT equipment for sale in front of the building with the sign on it and looks like a sales lot, the RV Park is behind the building and a home with barns.
Therefore, I got here and set up (cranked the tongue jack down) about 11:00. If I had been trying to go my preferred 250 miles today I would have been arriving late in the day.
It was -8 C or 18F in Chihuahua this morning when I checked the weather on the Internet. That was about 5-6 degrees colder than the Bisbee-Douglas Airport. I said a few days ago that I needed to get adjusted to winter again, well I got my chance this morning.
It was very pleasant here in Cuahtemoc at noon; not a cloud in the sky and the best thing of all is there is NO wind. The wind did pick up some in the afternoon but it was still windbreaker weather rather than wool coat, cap and gloves.
A medium sized fifth wheel from British Colombia came in around 4:00 with two women as the campers. As is quite normal for fifth wheelers and Class A's they did not come over to say hello.
I got lucky with regard to a place to eat. There were three restaurants within a short walk (less than ½ mile). I went to the County Steak house which does serve some steak but also a lot more.
The waitress there, a young girl that might have been Mennonite (there is a large community of Mennonite in the area), spoke excellent English with no Mexican accent. She told me she had lived in TX for three years from the time she was 6 years old. She said that she likes English much better than Spanish and hopes that she does not loose the ability. Francisco had told me that he also likes English much better and that when he was in school he almost did not pass Spanish.
On the way back to camp I stopped at the Pizzeria Los Arches to get a pizza to go for breakfast and 'road food' tomorrow.
25 February 2010 Sonora RV Park (Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico )
Today was one of those days that I put in my 'glad I did it bag'. That means I'm glad I don't have to do it again.
It took me almost 11 hours to cover the 366 miles that I did today. The route from Cuahtemoc to Hermosillo is truly a driving road but the worse thing about it is the road surface.
Most of it is bad, some of it is VERY bad and about 30 miles of it are horrid. There are huge, deep pot holes that are so numerous that it is impossible to make forward progress without driving through some of them.
The scenery is spectacular when you can take your eyes off the road for a second. I like this route for its scenery and 'The Devil's Backbone' for its challenge. MX16 crosses canyon after canyon and range after range of the Sierra Madre. There was one place where I could see 4-5 ranges where I had been and another 4-5 ranges still in front of me.
I had two checkpoints today. The first was just after Yecora where the inspector actually looked in the car and trailer for fruits and vegetables (I think he wanted to see the inside of the trailer). The second one, about 25 miles west of Yecora, was the military and they checked the car and trailer also.
I just had time to unhitch, run to a restaurant for dinner and get back before dark. I then found that I had lost the retaining clip to the pin that holds my hitch in the receiver on the xB. I got a couple of pieces of coat hanger to take the place of the clip and think I'll be fine – just something else to enliven the trip.
My next door neighbor in a fifth wheel from CA had started up an conversation that I had cut rather short. I went back and knocked on her door to apologize for my abruptness and explain my hitch problem that I need to fix before dark. We then had a long talk about my Teardrop and trips that I had taken. She is full timing and had been down to Mazatlan for a while and was going to stay here for some time also.
26 February 2010 Bisbee Queen Mine RV Park (Bisbee, AZ )
I got a good start on the day and everything was moving along just fine until the military checkpoint about midway between Hermosillo and Santa Ana. I saw this checkpoint when I was going south; no checkpoint in the south bound lanes.
Today the semi-trucks were backed up for at least 10 Km in the right lane. Luckily the left lane was still open and moving and there were three lanes to be checked. The bus lane had 40 buses in it and I had one car in front of me in the car lane. It was only a bad scare!
The guard looked inside the trailer and opened the box on the tongue and sent me on my way. The only remaining check was at the US border. There the agent wanted to see inside the trailer and he poked around, taped on the floor, sides and the top. Said “Welcome Home” and gave me a good to go!
The longest process of the day was to find the Banjersito office in Cananea to get my Car permit cleared. If you do not clear it upon exiting Mexico you will not be allowed to bring another vehicle in Mexico in the future. This is important!
This office is virtually unmarked and there certainly are no signs pointing to it from the main road through town MX2. You need to know where it is to find it! It took me longer to find it and then clear my Permit than it did to get it upon entry.
I then stopped in Naco, AZ and said hello to the couple that I had met in San Quinton on my first day in Mexico; I thought it appropriate that they be the first people that I visit upon entry to the USA.
Naco is a great place to cross back into the USA; I had one car in front of me and had to wait less than one minute.
I had planned on staying at the Shady Grove RV Park (it has a number of vintage trailers that you can rent for the night) but they have filled their lot with long term renters and had no space available.
I then had a little trouble getting into the Bisbee Queen Mine; I could see it but could not find the entrance. I went up through historic Bisbee to the Miner Statue by Bisbee High School and turned around and found the entrance as I was going east.
I got the last space available in the Park! I then set up, showered and walked down to Brewery Gulch to a Mexican restaurant where I had a celebratory dinner of 'tamal de elote'. LOL
I'm still a couple of weeks away from getting back to Reno but the double transit of the Sierra Madre in Mexico has been completed. I have also satisfied myself that I still want to get the Class C and continue the full time life style.
27 February 2010 Grandmother's Homestead (Near Double Adobe, AZ )
I got up in time to finish my laundry chore before going to a restaurant that I had found yesterday that opened for breakfast at 8:00.
When I got back to my campsite I called Verizon and reactivated my Air Card; I had placed my account on suspension while I was in Mexico. It took a long time on telephone hold but a representative did finally answer the phone.
She said that my account would be active once again within a minute from the time that we hunk up the phone, She was true to her word, by the time I walked up to a table by the office and got my laptop set up I had a signal and the Internet.
It took me almost two hours to finish the typing of my last 3 days of notes, add them to my blog and add map markers.
I have a 'cousin reunion' at my Grandmother's Homestead scheduled for this weekend and told Peggy (my contact) that I would be there at noon. I arrived almost at noon on the dot after missing the turn off from the main road – places as well as people are different after 50 years. LOL
It is a VERY long story to tell how we got in contact once more. The short story is I moved away after graduating from High School and did not remain in contact with this family of cousins for 45-55 years.
The afternoon and evening was devoted to visiting! Today it was just Peggy and myself for most of the time. We were joined for a short time later in the day by Wilford and Cam (his wife) and then Ben (Peggy's son).
Tomorrow there will be a lot more names and faces to put together at a pot luck that may have five more cousins, spouses and others. A LOT of visiting is on the agenda!
28 February, 2010 Grandmother's Homestead (Near Double Adobe, AZ )
I made a note the other day that I would write about using Mexico Highway signs. Today is probably a good time to do it.
The signs usually have a Highway designation and then some city/town name. The confusing thing about that is the city/town may not be on the Highway Number shown.
For example: in Hidalgo del Parral at a traffic circle Chihuahua was shown with the designation of MX24. You can get to Chihuahua via MX24 & MX16 but it is MX16 that goes into the city.
You could also get to Chihuahua via MX45 but you need to know that highway goes into the city and look for the Highway Number plus the name of some city/town that is south of Chihuahua. There are no signs at the circle that show MX45 Chihuahua.
Sometimes the signs may show a Highway Number and a city/town that is not on that Highway as in the example for Chihuahua being on MX16.
The one that really confused me was a sign, in La Junta, pointing to Creel which I knew turned off of MX16 however I did not remember where nor did I see the Highway Number.
The Number was MX16 so I should have gone that way, later I would have come upon another sign that would have been labeled CHI35 where I would have turned off to Creel if I had wanted to go there.
A good map, the more detailed the better, is a real necessity unless you are just following the major toll roads. A good navigator can also be a big help but a bad navigator is worse than not having one and may break up what was a perfectly good relationship.
Today was a 'family' reunion for me. The only living relatives that I have are cousins and today I saw 5 of them for the first time since 1952 through 1960.
We had a great pot luck lunch, all home cooked, and a LOT of stories, questions, answers and some good laughs.
The names mean nothing to most of my readers but I need to record them for my own memory. There was Peggy, Wilferd & wife Cam, Bernice, Marjie and Paul & wife Beth.
Also two of Marjie's daughters and one girl that I think was Bernice's daughter (never did get the relationships straightened out in my mind). They were all my 2nd cousins , I think, and this was the first time that I had met them.