Saturday, February 14, 2009

Last Post ( About this trip, anyway)

Now that I'm back in Summerland I thought I'd address a couple of questions that just about everyone asks at one point or another;

Did I feel safe?
Yes! All the news reports aside, we didn't notice any more safety concerns than any time in the past. Right now in Vancouver the news reports a drug war or gang-related shooting every day - that doesn't mean all of Canada isn't safe. Likewise in Mexico. Yes, there are areas and unsavery characters to avoid, but my experience is no more than here, and in some respects a lot less. We've had no problems what-so-ever, in this trip or any of the others, and I'd recommend travel in the country without hesitation.

Was it safe to drive?
Yes! Ironically, in many ways I felt safer driving in Mexico that back here, or in the US when I crossed the border. For the most part the drivers in Mexico are better, more courteous and MUCH more aware than the zonered out, Ipod listening, cell phone talking drivers up here. On the freeways drivers stay in the right lane except to pass and in the cities all it takes is a look and a point to get traffic to open up to make room for you to move into a lane. Yes, in the cites it can sometimes look like chaos and anarchy, but it works for them and I'd suggest they're better drivers for it.

Were the hotels safe/clean/easy to find?
Yes, yes and sometimes.
Hotels are plentiful, clean, safe and inexpensive by our standards (but prices range greatly closer to the tourist hot spots) While every hotel we stayed at was spotlessly clean though, bed quality can differ greatly. For <$50 there's not a pillow top mattress to be found! As for easy to find, in some ways the guide book was a hindrance rather than a help. By this I mean we often found a hotel in our Lonely Planet and then spent time and energy trying to find it. If we didn't have the book we probably would just have grabbed the first decent looking place and had less hassle. One tip for riders; especially if you're looking for a specific hotel - follow a cab. When we arrived into Zihuatanejo we had a reservation that was going to allow us to check in at 9:00am and we were REALLY pressed for time because Rosi had to get to the airport. Nerves were frayed and we hit the town at rush hour and we didn't have any luck finding our place. On the contrary, all we did was get lost and ended up in the market area with narrow roads and LOT's of people. Rosi came to the rescue - she flagged over a cab and asked for directions to the hotel we were looking for. Half way through his Spanish directions she just held up her hand to stop him and said for him to lead and we'd follow. He took us right there in less than 10 minutes. Total cab fare; $2.00 Can - WELL worth it and food for thought for next time. I hope some of this helps. Anyway, thanks for following along. This'll be it for a month or so. My bike is now in Phoenix and Ward will be bringing it back at the end of April. I haven't entirely ruled out flying down and riding it back though, but I won't decide for quite a while yet. I'm hoping to get the Goldwing out of storage towards the end of March and we'd like to do a ride to Wenatchee in late March or early April to give it a good run. Rosi really likes riding and does well - and we need to replace our lost rain gear so a US trip will be in the cards fairly early in the year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Safe and Sound in Apache Junction

I left Navajoa this morning at 7:15 at a chilly 4 degree's. I made VERY good time ( no speed limit on the Autopista!) and I was at the border around 3:00. Clearing out of Mexico was quick and painless and the line up to get into the US wasn't too bad either so it was only 4:00 when I pulled into Nogales US and I figured what, the heck, I might as well go all the way.

I eventually pulled into Apache Junction just after full dark, right around 7:00. So, 11 1/2 hours and 900 klm later I'm here. Almost 3,000 Mexican kilometers in four days - not too shabby.

I'll make arrangements to store the bike tomorrow and book my flight and I should be home in Summerland by Thursday night.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I couldn't sleep so I left Tepic at 5:30 and made it here (Navojoa) at 3:30; 10 hours / 865 klm = not a bad day. I could have gone on but the next city is an hour away and is larger than here, which may mean a harder time finding a hotel in city traffic. Navojoa is easy to get around and there was a good hotel right on the main highway so discretion played the better part of valour this time around.

When I hit the road this morning there was still an hour of full darkness and I discovered that my low-beam doesn't work - although it worked fine on Friday morning and I'm too tired and lazy to start looking at replacement lights etc., this close to home. The truckers will just have to live with it tomorrow.

Based on mileage it's time to clean and lube my chain again (hard to believe it's been >1,500 klm in two days) but I did it well in Cuyautlan and it's been clean highway riding so I'm going to leave it until Phoenix. Likewise, the tension probably needs adjustment too. It's not horrendously out of whack, just looser than when I started, but it can wait a day. The other maintenance issue is the front tire. I had the bike completely checked over before I left and the tire easily had another 5,000 - 6,000 klm left but the sustained speeds I'm keeping have accelerated the wear. Again, I'm sure it'll last but it wouldn't want to trust it on rough or wet roads.

If I push it hard again I think I can make it back to Apache Junction tomorrow. It' close to 900 klm but I did almost that much today. The two variables are the number of army checkpoints , which are increasing, and the time to cross the US border. I'll go to Nogalas on the US side for sure, but if it's any tine after 3:00 when I get there I may call it a day and go the rest of the way on Wed.

I'm making great time and all things being equal the bike is holding up remarkably well. Any of the crowd that my be reading this and still maintain that the 650 VStrom isn't a capable sport-touring bike, can kiss my .............................Suzuki

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I'm pushig hard and made it to Tepic today and think I can reach Culiacan or Los Mochis tomorrow. That may put me back at Phoenix by Tue or Wed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 12 & 13

The ride to Zihuatanejo and 400 long hard klm to Cuyuatlan

Yesterday was almost surreal. We were in such a lovely spot and Playa Azul was starting to grow on us. The day at the beach was great and the room and hotel were very nice. But, it wasn’t meant to be.

We both had a very poor night because of all the things running through our minds. Rosi was terribly sad and incredibly lonely because she couldn’t be with her family when she so desperately needed to be. She felt the frustration of being literally thousands of kilometres from home and there was nothing she could do.

I felt the weight of not being able to just pick up a phone and make things right. I so very much wanted to be able to give her everything she needed but no magic wand was going to make the phones work or the airport closer. But, with LOT’s of help from Brad we were able to make the necessary arrangements and all there was left to do on Thursday night was wait.

Neither of us got more than 30 minutes sleep at a time and we were up before the alarm had a chance to ring at 5:15. We debated leaving on Thursday but we needed to stay put while we made flight arrangements etc but then, on Friday we had to hustle in order to make it to Zihuatanejo for Rosi’s flight. We were up packed and out the door by 6:00. The problem of course, is in this part of Mexico it doesn’t become daylight until 7:00. And the iron clad rule of don’t drive at night means just as much at dawn as it does in the middle of the night.

It made for a VERY interesting ride. Interesting in a holy crap, this is REALLY scary kind of way. It was PITCH black as we took the back road to Lazaras Cardenus and from there we dodged the morning buses full of commuters, still in the dark, until we finally hooked back up with Hwy 200 South heading to Zihuatanejo. All the time watching the seconds count down as we desperately tried to make our way south in time to find our hotel so Rosi could shower and reshuffle/repack all her gear for the flight. We made it but nerves were more than a little frayed and it was significantly less than the Norman Rockwell farewell at the airport moment one would hope for under the circumstances.

All ended well though. Rosi cleared security and disappeared from view at 11:00 to catch her 12:00 flight. I talked to her at Dads around 8:00 and she and all her luggage made it just fine. As I type this she’s on the second leg of her journey and she should arrive into Kelowna 5:30 local time. I can only hope and pray that it’s on time.

Now it gets weird. My entries are no longer “we“, it’s now “I“ Not something either of us wanted and definitely not something I like.

I‘m a big believer in “whatever floats your boat..” It’s a big wonderful world and it takes all kinds to make it go around but I’m afraid I just don’t see the appeal to solo travel. Maybe it speaks more to me. Am I so shallow I can’t be by myself? I don’t know the answer but I do know that I’m a social animal. After 25 + years of being joined at the hip I desperately missed Rosi only ten minutes into her being gone. I’m such a suck! And, as the day wore on, rather than exploring the various sights and sounds that Zihuatanejo had to offer I found that all the bars, restaurants and people having fun just drove home the point that I was alone.

I did meet two very cool guys at the bar around the corner from the Hotel. Ramon, from Mexico and Rod, an ex-pat American, both time-share salesman. We had a great conversation about bikes (what else?)and the economy and it was good to connect with someone.

I’m now sitting in the sidewalk café/restaurant of the Hotel Fenix in the very quaint town of Cuyuatlan. It was long hot hard 400 klm/eight hour day to get here but now that I’m here it’s lovely. It’s like a smaller, slightly more laid back version of Barra. There’s a small brown German Shepherd that may belong here or may be a stray, but he’s asleep at my feet, next to the cat on the chair beside me. I've already chatted up a Mexican father/son team about my bike, their bikes and the relative merits of a Suzuki vs a BMW. I SO like it here!

Rosi - you would love it. It’s definitely a “stay awhile” kind of place. The beach runs a very close second to Playa Azul but the town is cute, comfortable and welcoming. Very un-Playa Azul like.

Cat - if you’re reading this I owe you an apology. When you talked about this place before, I confused it with Ciuatlan. A dusty little commerce centre south of Barra - completely different than here.

I left Zihuat at 8:00 this morning and, despite having walked all over the day before, and having a good idea of the lay of the land, I still succumbed to a little of can’t get out of town, syndrome. Not much, but a little. Two wrong turns and u-turns later though I was winging my way northward.

And I mean winging. On my own I’m at least 250 pounds lighter. This ISN’T however, an indication of Rosi’s weight! She’s SIGNIFICANTLY less. But, you take her, all her riding gear, including boots and helmet, all her luggage, plus all the extra stuff I now know I don’t need that I sent home with her, and the bike is WAY lighter. Before, we were a strategic bomber, winging our way south in a sedate flight pattern while we carried a full load to be delivered with precision at each subsequent target. Now, I’m Red Flight Leader, in a sleek fighter jet, speeding north with flair and élan.’

Hey, it’s my fantasy. If you don’t like the analogy, write your own blog.

There is a definite difference though. I had to back off on the pre-load because I was so high I couldn’t steady the bike well enough. I could have left it but this is a good compromise and I now clear 99% of the Topes, as opposed to 90% before.

About an hour into the ride I had a bit of a moment. My speedo has three odometer settings. The first is just the regular odometer (which is really racking up the klm’s) The other two settings are for recording trip mileage. I use one to record each day and the other I’ve left to accumulate the trip so I can keep track of when the chain needs to be cleaned and lubed. This morning, as I was cycling between the three it hit me; I’m 3,000 kilometres into southern Mexico, alone and a LONG way from home. Just when Rosi needs me the absolute most I’m so very far away and I can’t do anything about it. Then, it hit me. Up until now, each early morning ride, the sun’s been right in our eyes. Especially the further south we came because we were heading East as much as South. It makes the first couple of hours tough and is just one more of the “adventures” in adventure travel. This morning though, I was heading west for the first time. The rising sun was over my shoulder. Instead of holding me back it was a familiar friend with a gentle hand pushing me onward. It whispered; go on, she’s waiting and she needs you at home; go on.

Right about then I must have gotten a bug or sand under my face shield because my eyes started to water. Apparently, tears, suntan lotion and blind corners do NOT mix.

I’m on my way, Sweetie, I’m on my way.

You know how sometimes you’ll drive a route the first time and think it’s long or hard but the next time it seems so much easier? Not this time. The first 50 or so klm north of Zihuat are fine but the next 200 are brutal. After enough sweeping vista’s it’s just another blind corner and just another sheer drop-off to the rocks below. And so on, ad infinitum….without end. No shoulder, no view points or look outs, not even the hint of a passing lane and a humidex to put Hades to shame.

Could I make good time? Maybe, but noooooo, this time I simply HAD to try the helmet cam and video camera I’ve drug all the way from home. It would have been SO cool! By mounting a lipstick cam on my helmet I could have recorded, not just the road, but all the views; you’d see what I see; the incredible coastline, the thousands of emerald green acres planted in banana tree‘s and the young soldiers at the check point that waived me through with high-fives and a thumbs up! But….I tested the set up when I bought the camera, I tested it before I came down, I even tested it in my room last night. But apparently, I didn’t test the freak’n 12V/110 inverter I bought from Canadian Tire!

The remote camera itself needs an independent AC power source so I bought an inverter to plug into the 12V outlet I have on the bike. No such luck. It doesn’t work! And I know it’s not the power outlet because I tested it with my 12V pump and it works fine. Tabernac!


I jury-rigged a setup by bungee cording my camera to the tank bag but it’s not the same. OK, but a fairly narrow field of view.

The other thing I remembered through this exercise is why I didn’t tape much last year, despite all the good intentions. It’s a HUGE PIA. Between messing around with all the gear and wires to set up and then break down the helmet cam - and then mess around with the bungee’s etc - plus stops along the way to check things out - I lost at least an hour and a half. I was determined though, and I think I got some great shots.

I did my best to take breaks to drink lots of water but it’s a difficult stretch to do this (right Sweetie?) so by 2:00 I HAD to stop for a while. I pulled into a hotel restaurant in San Juan and had a great Ceviche cocktail overlooking the ocean. The service was glacial but the view was to die for. I seriously considered calling it a day right then and there but I pushed on.

I hit the road at 3:00 and was SO looking forward to ending the nightmare that the ride had become. By now even my Monkey Butt had Monkey Butt! Hot Hot Hot and a never ending string of tight switchbacks and elevation changes. Followed by the even more sweltering, Colima coastal lowlands. Great for banana plantations but definitely where you want to be pool-side before 3:00!

Oh, how my tune has changed!

And then, as I approached Tecoman I heard it…..the name that needs no introduction….the name that is itself the siren song for Mexican riders….. can you hear it?

Oh, sweet mother of all things good! Oh, glorious Autopista! A black ribbon of loveliness that enfolds you in her arms and carries you onward; faster, safer, and ever closer to home.

I’m on my way Sweetie, I’m on my way…..


Vikki and Wayne; I didn’t get a reply so I’m not sure if you got my e-mail. I’d love to see a familiar face and I’d really like to stop in to see you both. Are you going to be around? . Please send me an e-mail with the name of you complex again and the best way to get there. I’ll check my e-mail one more time tonight.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 11 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

First the good;

Playa Azul, looks MUCH better after a good nights sleep. Yes, it’s still a VERY small and somewhat rundown and dishevelled little town but it has a certain charm in an almost Caribbean poverty stricken kind of way. But, oh my God, the beach! Yes, the beach is incredible. It’s really just an extension of the fantastic Michoacán beach we saw on the way down and here, in Play Azul, it‘s a 200 meter wide swath of fine white sand that goes on in both directions to the horizon. It’s HUGE! And, because it’s such a shallow slope, the waves break way out and then gently roll into shore in knee deep shallow water. It’s warm, clean, and fantastic for swimming - and taylor made for frolicking (if I was to do such a thing) Today we spent several hours swimming, soaking up the rays and drinking a few cerveca before heading back to the hotel for a cool off dip in the pool and a nap. And this evening we look like lobsters.

But…..that leads us to the bad…..
I fired up my e-mail just to check messages before my swim and nap and we received some bad news. We have a family emergency back home and we need to get back ASAP. With Brad’s help I was able to book Rosi a one-way flight out of Zihuatanejo tomorrow. We’ll head south out of here as early as possible, maybe even 30 minutes or so before full light, so that we can grab a room there and she can shower and re-organize our luggage off the bike before she flies out at 12:00. She’ll overnight in Phoenix and should be in Kelowna by 5:00 on Saturday.

The ugly….is me carrying on sans my co-pilot. We always wanted this trip to be our inaugural run two-up to test the waters so to speak. So far Rosi has been a real trooper. She’s been a great second set of eyes and has suffered the odd missed tope taken too fast with gritted teeth and a great attitude.

We were already making our map and timing plans to leave here in the morning and head inland to visit Uruapan. It’s only 2 ½ hours from here via the autopista and is supposed to be a beautiful colonial city. After that we were considering Lake Chapala and then dog legging back down to PV to visit family already staying there.

But it’s not to be - this time anyway. I’ll stay in Zihuatanejo for at least a day because by the time I see Rosi off it’ll be too late to hit the road + we’ll have checked into a hotel overnight. I’ll get some rest and stay out of the sun and start my way back north on Sunday.

It’s been approx six full days and two half days of riding to get here and I should be able to cut that down a little flying solo. My major decision will revolve around which route. Take the inland autopista route, which may be quicker and is patrolled by the Green Angels or backtrack up the coast on a route I’m familiar with and which has the greater chance of finding English spoken in each major centre? Hmmmmmm? Between now and 6:30 on Sunday I’ll have to decide.

Day 10 - Ride to Playa Azul

Yesterday, day 10, was another very tough day. Tough from the perspective of a long hard ride but a good day - a very good day - nonetheless. It was only 340 klm but on a twisty Mexican road, with more topes than you can count, it took us seven long hot hours.

Fist, we had a great night in the hotel in Colima. It’s surprising how a king size bed, colour cable TV, unlimited hot water and attentive staff that speak English will rejuvenate you when you need it. Rosi’s back, no thanks to the masseuse that received her training from the Marquis de Sade, (another story, that won’t get repeated here) is doing much better and we got away right around 8:00. Because the hotel staff speak fluent English we were able to get excellent and specific directions out of town and we had no problems.

Likewise the first 50 or so klm are on the Autopista to the coast and we made great time. But, apparently, the “can’t get out of a Mexican city” syndrome isn’t restricted to just the city you spend the night in. We took a wrong turn in the first city of size down the coast and ended up on a lovely scenic but pretty remote, secondary road heading out of town the wrong way. After 10 minutes or so I clued in it just wasn’t busy enough to be Hwy 200, the VERY friendly herd of goats notwithstanding, and the cute cow that came right up the fence to check out the lost Gringo’s. We turned around and went back into town and stopped for coffee and donuts (yes, again) and got several sets of conflicting directions until we settled on the two or three that matched the closest and headed out of town in the right direction.

The next 100 klm or so were great. Good roads, not much traffic and just enough topes to keep you on your toes. The only thing of note that happened on this stretch was when we crossed the Chiapas state line. We hit out first army road block. A full on, fairly serious affair. They directed us to the side, recorded our names, passport numbers and the bike registration on a form and asked us to remove all our luggage from the bike so they could inspect it. Rosi was convinced it was so they could go through our stuff and steal something (based on anther incident from a few years ago) so a bit of a Mexican stand off ensured. She refused to open more than one bag at a time and insisted on watching the process each time. It got a little funny, especially when the kid with the biggest tude couldn’t figure out how to open the roll top dry bags we use for some of our gear. We eventually got everything inspected and loaded back on the bike and headed south. This set us back easily a half hour though.

We then we hit the stretch that I remembered from last year. It’s 100+ klm of VERY tight turns, quick changes in elevation and never ending switchbacks and S turns. Last year - except for the truck that almost killed Kevan on a blind corner (which isn’t saying much because they’re ALL blind corners) - we were all grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s a riders dream. This year however, my bike weighed 300 pounds more and I was responsible for someone else so it added a whole new dimension.

But….very soon after you start this section the road hugs the Michoacan coast, which is some of the most beautiful coastline in Mexico. This is where Mexico meets the Mar de Sur - the southern ocean. Instead of facing due west like PV it now faces more south than west. It’s not quite the Caribbean but it’s definitely different. Without exaggerating, and trying not to be too cliché’, it’s fantastic. Literally hundreds of kilometres of untouched beach, turquoise blue ocean, crashing waves and rocky outcroppings, and all under a crystal clear blue sky.

If this is the price for several hours of hard riding it’s a fantastic bargain and well worth the price of admission!

This stretch comes to an end after a couple hours and settles into a final routine of go fast, go slow, scream because you didn’t see the tope until too late, and start again. Exhausting.

We arrived into Playa Azul around 3:00, soaking wet and literally wrung out. The temp and humidity in this area are both high and the exertion of this type of riding takes a toll. But….that’s no excuse for what happened next. We rolled up to the curb to get off the bike to check our guide book and I didn’t have it set up well enough on the side stand. If the road angle is just right it sometimes puts the bike at an angle that’s too upright for the side-stand to properly hold the bike. That’s what happened this time but I didn’t notice. I was halfway off when the bike fell away from me towards the low side.

OK, you say, this sometimes happens and bikes fall from time to time. Except, ROSI WAS STILL ON BOARD! Yikes!, my life flashed before my eyes. In nano-seconds I considered all the ramifications. Will she be hurt? Will she want to stop riding? But the one question I already knew the answer to - She’s going to be soooo pissed! She was.

All’s well that ends well though. Between the panniers both front and back that held the bike away from the road when it was on it’s side, her forethought to not try to jump away from the bike and instead hug it to protect her legs, and our motto of ATGATT, (all the gear all the time) she was fine. Pissed, but fine. The Mexicans that witnessed this little fiasco, including me having to pretend that 600 pounds of bike and gear isn’t too heavy to pick up in 38 degree’s, are still laughing their sombrero’s off.

She’s a trooper though and doesn't hold a grudge. She quickly shrugged it off and we got back on and headed off to find accommodation.

We're checked into a lovely hotel with a great pool, wifi, and a few channels of Englais on the TV. The town though, is Muy interesting. All the guidebooks describe an idyllic seaside village. I guess that’s accurate. In a scary, deserted, Stephen King could write a book here, kind of way. It’s a dusty, very quiet little place but you can see it must be rock’n on the week-ends when the large crowds of Mexican families arrive. So far we’ve seen maybe five other tourists but there are restaurants on the beach that might seat 100+ but are completely empty. Great for getting a table but a little spooky and surreal once the sun goes down.

Anyway, this morning is a new day. Sun, surf and cerveca while we decide what to do next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 9 Colima

As I write this I’m sitting by the roof-top pool in the Best Western Hotel in very quaint Mexican city of Colima.

We got away around 8:00 this morning and it’s approx a 2 ½ hour run to Colima - 3 hours for us with a coffee, donut/gas stop to stretch our legs. We had no problems whatsoever and it was a beautiful day. Hot and sunny and divided highway for most of the way. I didn’t record the mileage before I parked but I think it was right around 175 klm from Barra to here.
We had no problems following the signs right into Centro and made our way easily to the Best Western. It’s a step up from where we usually stay when we’re on the road but Rosi deserves a pillow-top mattress and some luxury to break up the regular budget hotel routine. This place is amazing. In many respects it’s like a very upscale business class hotel anywhere but even in Vancouver, I can’t remember the last time the concierge came by with a silver tray while I was checking in and offered me freshly squeezed OJ and a chilled towel to wipe my brow. It’s approx 150 years old and it’s very colonial with high ceilings, centre courtyards and lot’s of great architectural detail. Steve/Brad/Kevan, it’s on the main square where we had dinner and where there was a stage set up and you guys stayed and watched for a while.

One thing that’s kind of neat is we noticed a lot of smoke in the air coming into the valley and here on the roof-top there’s some ash in the air. It’s from the Volcano just outside of town! No lava but you can definitely see the top is venting smoke and ash.

Anyway, not much else to report today. We may hit a museum once the heat of the day is past or we may catch a cab out to Wally World to see if we can replace the rain pants and cover I lost. From there it’ll be same ol same ol…..cerveca at a sidewalk café, a few hands of rummy, maybe a siesta and then dinner at a different side-walk café. Yes, the life of adventure motorcycle is a rough one but we manage!

Adios mi amigos Y mi familia

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 8 - Barra de Navidad

Greetings from hot, sunny and oh, so laid back, Barra de Navidad!

Just a short note while I wait for Rosi to return from her massage. Ironically, we don't think it's the riding that's given her a sore back - although it probably doesn't hurt. It's more likely some of the beds we've slept on. We're staying in some very nice middle-class Mexican hotels but.....clean and well run doesn't necessarily equate to a Seally Postutepediac pillow-top mattress. Everything has been spotless but some of the mattresses belong in Bedrock more than a hotel. In one case in particular it brought new meaning to firm. Rosi has had a sore back for the last two mornings so we booked her a massage and we've picked up some liniment and muscle relaxants to see if she can shake it.

Barra is just as nice as we remember it. It's a very laid back small touristy beach town with a good cross-section of clientele that ranges from over the hill hippies to ex-pat's building very nice second homes and everything in between, including middle-class Mexican families hitting the beach. And the weather is just this side of perfect. The temp right now is 28 with 56% humidity, which makes it feel like 34. There's not a cloud in the sky and the forecast is for a lot more of the same.

(Memo to self - no matter HOW good it smells do NOT partake of the famous Barra de Navidad bus depot Taco's!)

I've gone through my notes and have tallied our mileage
Day 1 - AJ to Santa Ana - 379
Day 2 - SA to Los Mochis - 667 (Yikes!)
Day 3 - LM to Mazatlan - 481
Day 4 - Nada
Day 5 - Maz to Rincon - 412
Day 6 - Nada
Day 7 - Rincon - Barra - 270 (Felt like much more!)
Day 8 - Nada
Total so far = 2,209 klm - just about time to clean and lube the chain again.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 6 and 7 Ricon de Guayabitos and the drive to Barra

NOTE - new pictures uploaded to Picassa. Click on the link and scoll to the end to see the latest additions

Day 6 and 7
Yesterday, day 6, was a great day to chill out, get some rest and generally play tourist. We started out with coffee in bed ( we travel with our own percolator and a pound of Starbucks) and then a late breakfast at an old favourite restaurant from our previous trips. From there we went for a long walk along the beach with just about every Mexican family within a 300 klm radius. Beachside resort towns are VERY popular with Mexican families on week-ends. And why not, after all it’s their country. This can make for a very loud and very crowed couple of days though, so after our walk we sat and had a few cerveca's but then left the beach to the million or so families that were having a great time. Instead, we had to make a huge sacrifice and hang out by the hotel pool, drinking beer, lounging in a recliner and taking a dip every half hour or so to cool off. It was rough, but someone has to do it.

Yesterday evening we finished off with another walk around town and a very nice pizza and beer dinner at a local tourist haunt. Muy Bueno.

Today was a great riding day and for the first time the heat reared it head as a factor in how long/far you can go. We got up early and forwent breakfast to get on the road by 7:00ish and then stopped at a roadside OXXO store (very much like our 7/11) for a coffee and donut. Approx 45 minutes later we pulled into Bucarious (sp?) and had a great full breakfast at a lovely restaurant right on the water. We pulled out right around 10:00 but shortly thereafter we lost an hour due to the time zone change just north of PV.

Speaking of which, there HAS to be a way to bypass downtown and head south. If there is though, we missed it. The road is great coming into town - a four lane divided highway - and as you near the centre it’s still good, just busier as you enter the old hotel zone. Then, BAM, it spits you right onto a cobblestone (AKA rocks) street in downtown. We followed the Malecon right into old town, over the bridges, into Centro and through the other side until we missed a turn, backtracked to correct, and hit the hill out of town heading south. The whole process of getting through PV had to take at least an hour. Don’t get me wrong - in the big scheme of things we did remarkably well. And here’s where I have to give my Sweety a big plug. She’s turned out to be a great passenger. Yes, we’ve both had our moments but overall she’s been WAY more of a help than not. She zigs when I do and is a great second set of eyes. And she’s been a real trooper on some of the long stretches.

Vicki and Wayne - when we come back we’ll send you an e-mail and try to get specific instructions. We saw several signs for Nuevo but once we turn off the main drag it’ll be easy to get lost.

So, we eventually got spit out south of town and continued on coastal highway 200. It’s a very good road, roughly equivalent to Hwy 97, just more twisty and a LOT more remote in some stretches. Again, speaking of which, we’ve both agreed to take more breaks. What happens is you look at a distance marker and equate it to travel times back home. IE, you see a sign that says the next town is 38 klm. You might be tired and ready for a break but you say to yourself, what the heck, I’ll wait, it’s only anther 25 or 30 minutes. But then you run into twists, a cattle truck, five small pueblo’s with five tope’s each and the next thing you know it’s an hour later and you’re still not there. We fell into that trap today (not just me for those of you now saying poor Rosi - I suggested we stop but more often than not she said keep going) and we did a couple of too long stretches. Because of course, then what happens is you say OK now we HAVE to stop and there’s no safe place to pull over and/or no gas station etc to get a cold drink.

Anyway, we had a good day. It was just under 300 klm in total and we arrived into Barra right around 3:00ish local time and we were drinking beer by the pool by 3:30. I even bought a round for the only other couple in the pool, a young Mexican couple, and we struck up a great conversation for a half hour or so. Rosi is now taking a well deserved nap and I’m catching up on downloading pictures etc. She took some great shots from the back of the bike which you can see by clicking on the Picassa Web Album. We also have some great video clips from the back of the bike but they’ll have to wait until I can make a video when we’re home. It's just too cumbersome with a slow wireless connection.

Tomorrow is a down day here in Barra. It’s been a few years since we were here and we want to see how the old haunts are holding up.

So far it's been a full week on the road. Five days riding and two down days; Mazatlan and yesterday in Ricon. It sounds like a lot but we were resigned to three straight days from Phoenix just because there's not much to see. We're now following a schedule of one day riding and one day off which is very reasonable. We've covered 2,060 in total and, as long as Rosi holds up as well as she has and enjoys it when we're done, I think SA next year may be on the horizon.