Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 5 Mazatlan - Rincon de Guayabitos

Our day in Mazatlan was great. We went downtown to do a little shopping and on a whim we popped into a local ReMax office. We’ve had our eye on real estate in Mazatlan for quite a while and we’ve often wondered if the reality of a home would live up to its image and description on the internet. With this in mind Rosi hoped to take a look at house we’ve had our eye on for a while. Low and behold, it was a listing of the ReMax office!
We spent the afternoon getting some sun and well deserved cerveca around the pool and then, at 4:00, the Realtor picked us up to go look at the house. It’s a 1,000 sq ft rancher in a very nice neighbourhood and it’s as cute as a bugs ear - and it has incredible potential. It was every bit as good as it appeared and it was a great experience to be able to talk to the two different realtors and get actual numbers for taxes, legal fees, offsite management etc.
We ended the day with a really nice spaghetti dinner at a sidewalk café right on the square. Dinner, four drinks, two glasses of wine, a beautiful salad for two, coffee and two after dinner liquors all for $50! Muy Bueno!
Today, day 5, however, was officially gruelling. It was a long, hard, hot, tope ridden 390 klm, that took a full eight hours and Rosi REALLY earned her stripes. She’s been a real trooper and after today, she can hold her head up with the best of them from Horizons Unlimited or Adventure Rider.
The day got off to a good start. We decided to hold back and have a full breakfast again. Even if we get away a little later it carries us through most of the day and means we don’t have to look for a place later on. We hit the road around 8:30 and immediately ran up against “leaving a Mexican city syndrome. What should have been a 10 minute straight run turned into a series of wrong turns and weaving our way through various neighbourhoods desperately looking for a way out of the maze.
Imagine trying to get from Richmond to Abbotsford in rush hour, with no signage, no map, only the vaguest idea of which direction was right and no one to ask that speaks English. Well, forget that part. You’d have that problem anyway.
We eventually hit the freeway south (free is a wholly inaccurate description however) and it was smooth sailing for almost three hours. The Autopista south of Mazatlan is very expensive but well worth it. The road is a very well maintained divided highway and we made great time. We stopped for a break at a toll booth and had the first problem of the trip. Not a problem really, just a PIA, and all my fault.
I use a small dry bag as a duffle bag to hold our rain gear and the cover for the bike. It’s bulky but not heavy so I bungee it to the lid of my top box. It’s now on the side of the autopista somewhere between Mazatlan and the first or second toll booth because my bungee cords didn’t hold. Oh well, hopefully the Mexican that finds it needs it more than us. I can replace the cover at the first Walmart we pass and I can probably pick up some cheap rain pants in Mazatlan before we head too far north and hit the cold again. We can get by without the jackets until we get home [ Dad, I may ask you to take us back to the motorcycle gear store you took us to last year. The prices are MUCH better than Canada]
Where things fell off the rails is our decision to leave the Autopista early and detour through San Blas on the way to Guayabitos. At first things went smoothly. Or at least as smoothly as you can get between topes that alternate between aggravating and Oh, my God! I really put my “skid plate” to the test a few times! The road was as winding as anything the four of us experienced in Mexico last year - and as we made progress towards the coast the heat, and humidity climbed. Then, after an hour of this, and literally five minutes from San Blas - and just as my gas gauge started flashing empty - we came around the corner and hit stopped cars due to a construction crew. They had a crane parked cross ways and all traffic was blocked both ways. We had to wait for an hour before they let cars through again. We could have turned around and taken a different route but our gas situation wouldn’t allow it.
We eventually made it through, gassed up and stopped for a coke but then - as the heat and humidity took it’s toll and yes, we had a “moment” or two - we couldn’t leave town. You laugh, but it’s true. Between a maze of conflicting signs, one-way streets heading the wrong way and road construction everywhere, we were TRAPPED! It took us another half hour and the decision to ignore one-way signs and simply buck traffic, before we were on the road again but then we hit the construction again! This time though, we jumped the line and when we got to the front there was JUST enough room for me to squeeze past the corner of the crane. The foreman said I could try so Rosi got off and walked and I gingerly made way around and past the truck. We both loaded back up and we got back under way, except now it was two hours of very secondary roads and tope hell until we eventually hooked back up with Hwy 200 leading to Guayabitos.
We arrived around 4:30, hot, tired, and a little frazzled. The good news though, is five years from now all the uneventful days will be faded memories but we’ll remember this one for quite a while.
And don’t even ASK how Rosi likes traffic on the secondary roads. We had a few “words” about the relative merits of passing Mexican five-ton trucks and about the best time to do so………OK, so an intercom wasn’t necessarily my best decision.
All is well now though. We're settled in a nice hotel, fed and watered and tomorrow will be a beach and/or pool day. Adios mi Amigos, Amigas Y Familia

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I think I've done this correctly. If you double click in the "slideshow" that's to the right it should take you to the web album I've set up. I've downloaded our pictures to Picassa and you can view them all or one at a time. This seems to work better than trying to download individual pictures to this blog.

Brad, please give this a test and let me know if it works.

Day 3 - Los Mochis - Mazatlan / Day 4 Mazatlan

It's actually day 4 now - I was too tired to make the effort yesterday. Not to imply that yesterday was some kind of gruelling adventure- it wasn't - it's just that after 3 days and 1,500 klm you get worn down. My bike is great but it's not a Goldwing and it's not necessarily the best for three straight days of freeway cruising.

But.....we did great nonetheless. We knew that our final push to Mazatlan was a little shorter so we didn't have to rush. We got up a little later and had a nice breakfast in the restauarant right in the hotel. First though, I had to back the bike out of the vestuble we had it tucked away in, and roll it through the lobby and out onto the street. But even that went smoothly, although there were more than a few raised eyebrows from the other business-class customers. After breakfast we loaded the bike -again, something that goes more smoothly each time we do it - and hit the road around 8:45.

When we planned this trip Rosi made me promise we'd stay at a hotel at the outskirts of town so we could avoid the heavy and often chaotic traffic in a typical Mexican city. Well, we didn't. We stayed right downtown. And it wasn't an issue. I'm not sure if it's because I'm more comfortable on a bike than in a car in traffic, (as ironic as that sounds) if it's because we're more acclimatized to the traffic or if Mexican traffic is just getting better - or a combination of the above or all of the above, but no matter the reason, we had no problems making our way right downtown and finding the hotel.

Getting out of town went just as smooth - with only one u-turn!

The drive from Los Mochis is just about all on very good Autopista's. It's a little pricey - I think we paid > $40 in tolls - but it's worth it. It turns an eight or nine hour drive through tope Hell into a 5 hour drive on super highway with very little traffic. We made great time and rolled through another 460 klm in great time. We stopped at Pemex stations along the way and again, struck up conversations and made some great connections.

It was very interesting do retrace the same route the four of us took last year. This this I had a full tank of gas, it was a beautiful sunny day and I could enjoy the ride without any of the pucker factor. It's also interesting to note that there's a big sign as you leave Culiacan - "no gas for 176 klm" - something we obviously missed by detouring into El Dorrado.

We cruised along nicely at 130 - 140 kph, but the Suzuki speedo is notorious for being out by 8% so it was really closer to 115kph - 125kph. Still plenty fast for a 650 Vstrom but not crazy fast and not difficult on a two-lane divided highway that puts our freeways to shame. The best part was the weather. It was around 15 when we left Mochis and we could forgo a few layers. As we continued south it warmed up even more and by noon we could finally shuck our liners and finally ride in just our mesh gear. We even changed our gloves for the warm weather gloves we just bought. Muy Bueno!

We arrived into Mazatlan around 2:00ish and, again, had no problems coming into downtown to find our hotel. Just one wrong turn and a u-turn to go back before realizing it was one way but we were now going against traffic. Oh well, it was only a minute to get back to the right corner. We unpacked, showered, and were ensconced in the poolside cafe by 3:00. Lunch and a few beers later it was nap time. Later last night, we went out for a walk but called it a really early evening.

It's now Thursday morning and I'm typing this from my kingsize bed. The curtains are open leading to our deck overlooking the pool and the view to the ocean. It's a beautiful clear day and the forecast is for sunshine and 29 degrees. We have nothing planned but a leisurely lunch at a sidewalk cafe on the main square and I have to clean and lube my chain.

One final note - the news has all kinds of stories about the drug wars and escalating violence down here. Ignorance may be bliss but we haven't really noticed much change at all. There are some really long lines of trucks being checked out at check points heading north but nothing that's effected us at all.

Viva Mexico

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Advice Needed

I'm not having any luck uploading pictures using a wirelesss connection. It may be nothing but one thought is the file size of the pictures may be too large. If anyone knows how to "re-size" pictures to make them easier to upload please send me an e-mail to

Day 2 - Sanata Ana - Los Mochis

What is love? It’s a very hard question to answer but an easy one to define by example. I love my wife; with a depth that can only come from the passage of time and a journey travelled together. I love my son Brad, not the same way of course, but certainly no less. To a lesser degree - or rather, a poor choice of the word, I love riding my motorcycle, sunrises, and Mexico. So, at 8:30 this morning, as we were riding south through the Sonora desert highlands, I had one of “those” moments; the moment that sometimes defines a vacation. Or at the very least, will be something to focus on later on when I’m back at work or shovelling snow. I was cruising along at an easy 130kph, no traffic on a divided highway in Mexico, great conditions, a beautiful sunrise well under way, with Rosi on my bike with me and Brad’s band, The Garyoaksmen, blasting from the intercom.

It just doesn’t get any better than this……..well actually it does. Dexter could have been along for the ride and it might have been an improvement if it wasn’t absolutely FREAK’N FREEZING!
Oh well, 5 out 7 isn’t bad at all.

I wish I could now pass on stories of an arduous trip through the Mexican border states, plagued by banditos and an out of control drug war - but I can’t lie. It was a fantastic ride but not too much to write about - although uneventful is definitely better than the alternative.
We changed it up slightly this morning because of wanting to wait until full daylight before leaving. So, instead, we went for an early breakfast at a spotlessly clean restaurant right next to the hotel. It was fairly quiet at 6:00 but there were a few businessmen and a couple of families travelling - but no banditos or drug lords to be seen. We hit the road around 7:30 with our first stop at a gas station and convenience store in Hermosillo for the obligatory coffee and donuts. The one thing we noticed right away is the bike and our gear is a calling card for friendly chat and inquiries. We didn’t get a lot of this last year and Kevan hit it on the head when he said it was because we were in a group. People may not have wanted to impose themselves if we were already talking amongst ourselves etc. or we were too intimidating. Not so this time. We had a great chat with what we assumed was a rep for Pemex. He was definitely white colour and may have been a salesman etc and we talked about the bike and where we were from. He has a sister in Vancouver and he absolutely loves Canada and Canadians. Not to be outdone, we also had a chat with a salesman from the local Chevy dealer. He gave us some good advice and gave us his card and made us promise that we’d call him on his cell if we had any problems - anywhere at all in Mexico.

From there it was another long push to Navajoa - and it finally started to warm up. You’ll see we’re in our rain gear in a lot of the pictures. It wasn’t because of rain it was to add layers. It was only 3 degrees when we left the hotel!

In Novajoa we stopped at yes, another Pemex, for a sandwich and coffee. This time it was a friendly gentlemen in his 60’s (?) that started up a conversation. We soon learned that he; owns the Pemex, has 18 grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren and two grandsons currently studying English in Canada. Did I mention he loves Canada? Or that I have flags plastered everywhere? We wanted to get going but he just HAD to take me next door and give me a tour of his Briggs and Straten shop. He sells engines and water pumps and has three mechanics to fix them. It started to get a little embarrassing though, when he took me out back to meet the crew and his son had a WTF look on his face. He put on a smile though and told me it was one of his sons in Toronto currently studying.

We finally got geared up and hit the road again. It was only 2:00 and, even though we’d done a good day, it was too early to stop. Plus, by pushing on today we’ll get into Mazatlan tomorrow around 1:00. The last two hours were nothing, if not routine. The toll highways aren’t busy and my bike absolutely purrs along at 125-130 kph. We arrived here in Los Mochis at 4:00 and , surprisingly, we didn’t have too many problems with traffic. Rosi is starting to relax and is a great and welcome second set of eyes. We eventually made our way to the Hotel Fenix. It’s where we stayed a few years ago when we did the Copper Canyon.

It’s a nice Mexican business class hotel - but one problem, no off street parking. Problem you think, no problemo! Viva Mexico! Throw open both doors, weave through the cars angle parked out front, jump the curb and voila! Lobby parking! I had to take off the panniers though, to get it through the hall to the spot they picked by the lobby pay phones :-)

It was a long 650 klm today and we’re tired - but it’s the good tired of the fight well fought and a job well done. Tomorrow, Mazatlan!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Santa Anna Mexico

Day 1
Today was great!
The drive down to Spokane was uneventful and nowhere near as crappy as my drive down last year. We had good weather and had a nice brunch and dropped off Dexter at the doggy daycare at 11:00 and arrived in Spokane around 3:30. There's a nice restaurant in the hotel so we stayed in, had an early dinner and and made it an early night.

The flight to Phoenix was fine - arrived on time with no issues - and all our luggage etc made it too. Sorry, no wild story's to relate, just the way it should be. Dad and Carol picked us up at the airport and we went out for a very nice lunch on the way to their place. I spent the afternoon getting our gear sorted out out and last night we all went out for dinner with Mick and Sharon and Bonnie and Ward. A good time was had by all.
This morning we got off to a late start but it's not unexpected. It always takes a while to get into the groove and we took a while to get everything loaded etc etc, plus it doesn't get light here until close to 7:30. But, sharply at the crack of 7:45ish we rolled out the gate. It was a bit of a wobbly start though, and I'm guessing the bon voyage group were wondering what the hell? In my defense, I haven't ridden in over three months and the bike weighs a ton! After a few miles though, things started to fall into place and we headed south! We went south to Florence and then did a dogleg west to I10 so we could pick up the interstate before going through Tuscon, that way we avoided city traffic by staying on the freeway right through the city. We stopped a couple of times for coffee/gas/breaks etc and finally made it to Nogales. But.....between Tuscon and Nogales the wind REALLY picked up. From the side at first and then head-on. It made the trip after that really fatiguing. We crossed the border without incident but it still took an hour. Actually, it only took 10 minutes but I had to stand in line for 45 minutes before I could get to the window to pay for my visa.

Nogales on the Mexican side is a HUGE shock to the senses, and REALLY different than the US side. Hard to believe they're only across an invisible line from each other. Diesel fumes, sewer gas, roast chicken and all the rest that we've come to love -'s definitly not for everyone.

From Nogales south, the road is fantastic. 21 klm down the road you hit the road-side check point where you get your Visa etc, and we stopped at a small VERY Mexican road-side cafe to join the locals for some hot soup and quesadilla's. Did I mention it's cold? It was really cold first thing but as the day wore on it warmed up to just cool but still not warm enough to shed very many layers. We're wearing long-johns, vests, our mesh gear and rain gear to cut the wind. In another day or too it should be in the high 20's so we'll be shedding a lot of layers the further south we get.

We arrived in Santa Anna around 3:30, which is approx 400klm today. We stopped for gas, which took us to 3:45 and we decided to call it a day. It's another hour and a half to Hermosillo, where we hoped to stop but the wind didn't let up all afternoon and we're beat. Plus, we don't want to push it too much on Rosi's first day. She's done GREAT by the way. A great co-pilot!

So, we're in Santa Anna. We're going to go out for a nice dinner in a little bit and hope to get an early start tomorrow. We need to put on at least 500klm tomorrow if we're going to make it to Mazatlan in just three days.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Diploma

I received my diploma today from VCC, just in time for the trip. I submitted my practicum back in Dec and was hoping to find out one way or the other before we left so the timing is perfect. I now have the BC Provincial Instructors Diploma (honours) and I'm qualified to teach in any community college in BC.
Now the hard part - I've worked for this for close to four years but now that I have it what do I do with it? My dream has been to retire early from banking and try to start a new part-time teaching and training consulting business. But........with the economy in absolute meltdown, is now the time? On the other hand, with layoff's and corporate downsizing, there may be excellent opportunities in adult education as people look to increase their education and/or need retraining in new fields. Hmmmmmm......lots to think about as we're eating up the miles on the trip.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Only a few more sleeps

Well, there are only a few more sleeps until we hit the road to Mexico.
Two, if you only count here at home.
Three, if you include Spokane before we fly out on Sunday to Phoenix
Four, if you count Sunday night at Dad's before we head to Mexico - but it's unlikely I'll sleep much that night so it hardly counts.

There's very little to do now except wait. I've gone over all the gear lists ad infinitum, and anything that can be done, has been done. Poor Dad and Carol. Every time I tell them that the last shipment is on it's way I have to call back and beg them to accept something else. Ah, the joys of obsession. So far they've taken receipt of tools, extra levers, a jacket, and now gloves. And the only reason I know for sure there won't be anything else is because there's no longer time for anything to arrive before leave. Hmmmmm...... I wonder if there's time for expedited overnight shipping? Dale! Let it go!

So, all the insurance, registration and temporary import doc's are copied and put away. I have two international drivers licences just in case one is confiscated at a checkpoint or bogus road block and our Mexican insurance is bought and paid for.

The only thing to do now is check the weather and road report for Spokane and cross our fingers that it's better than when I drove down last year.


Not to be outdone.

I couldn't allow Rosi to be the only one with new gloves that match her riding gear. It's only fair that I look just as cool - or like a dork, depending on your

These two pairs of gloves should be delivered to Phoenix right about the time we arrive.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rosi's new gear

A while back we bought Rosi a complete set of Firstgear mesh gear for summer along with Firstgear all season pants for spring and fall. A the same time I ordered a Firstgear Kilimanjaro waterproof touring jacket for cold weather riding but since then we had to cancel. Our order was placed right as the 08's were being sold out and the 09's coming out and we couldn't get her size colour combo anywhere. She wanted red and I just couldn't convince her that dayglow Hi-Vis yellow matched her eyes. we lucked out and I found a sell-off with one jacket in her size left. It's not red, but it's not Hi-Vis either. And, at more than $250 less than this years model it's a steal.

So, thanks to Dad and Carol allowing me to have things shipped to their place, her new jacket should be waiting for us in AJ when we arrive. We won't take it with us though. It would be OK for the first three days but after that it's just too heavy for hot weather riding. For this trip we'll stick to mesh hot-weather gear, even if it'll be a little cool for the first day or two. And speaking of mesh gear, I also bought her matching Joe Rocket red mesh gloves to match her jacket. She's going to be soooooo styling when we hit the road!

I just pray to the motorcycle gods she doesn't hate it or I've spent waaaaay to much money. Oh well, she still looks hot in the new gear! Grrrrr!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Safe and Sound

My bike arrived safe and sound in Apache Junction after a very fast two and a half day drive from Osoyoos to Arizona. Thanks again Ward and Bonnie.

And Dad and Carol, thanks very much for storing her for the few weeks until we get there, and for making sure she's covered and locked up.

When I see the bright blue sky and sunny weather in your pictures I can't wait to get started. This morning it was minus 18 here with another four inches of snow in the last few days.