2005 WINTER TRIP
December 21, 2004 Tuesday We left Salem on December 21, 2004 Tuesday about 11 am. It took about 3 hours to winterize the house and get the food, water, etc. that could freeze into the F-350. We stopped and got something to eat at Mitchell. The wind was about 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph so it sucked a lot of diesel even though I only went about 55 mph. We had to fill at Murdo. The mileage was a bit below 6 mph which is about as bad as it gets. It could be a little better as the previous fill may not have been good. After this the wind went down and the mileage into RC was much, much better. We got in just as it was getting dark and Jack helped us unload.
December 22-25 In RC. We got a lot of projects done and had a great time for Christmas with Jack and Gunner
December 26, 2004, Sunday
We got loaded and on the way before 8 am. We got diesel at the place close to Jack. We found a truck stop by Hermosa that did have it cheaper so that is something to remember in the future. We got ahold of Lois and Roger on the Hot Springs repeater and tied in getting to Maverick Jct. We had breakfast together, took pictures and had a great visit. We then followed them on Hwy 71 to there place and we saw their place from the road. It was about 11:30 am when we left so we spent about 2.5 hours there. The time really flew by. We then headed south on Hwy 71 and Roger talked with us Simplex until the ridge south of Crawford, NE. There is a Buffalo Jump and Toadstool Rocks in the area. South farther is the Agate Rock Fossil site. Then at Scotts Bluff is the bluff and to the east Chimney Rock which was a landmark on the Oregon Trail. The North Platte River goes through town. There is a Super Wal-Mart there and also a CG along Hwy 71 as we by-passed around the west side of town. The Bluff is a National Monument. There is also a Wal-Mart in Chadron.
We should of got diesel at Kimball as it was 10 cents higher by Interstate. Edith miscalculated the distance to Brush, CO so we got real low and almost had to stop and use some diesel we carry. I put in 36 gallons in the 38 gallon tank. I discovered a headlight was giving me trouble. I moved the wires and it lite up but tonight I noticed it was poor again so will have to mess some more and maybe get a new one. It got dark south of Brush so the extra time with Roger and Lois was going to make us late for our night stop at a free boondock at a fishing lake east of Ordway. We got to the spot abut 7:15 pm only to find it was closed for the winter. We went into Ordway and stopped at a gas station and found out they had an RV park in behind. It is pretty run down but we got in for $10 with no hook ups and there is water so we will fill up in the morning. Quite a chore getting everything out of the F-350 and packed away in its proper spot in the 5th. We pretty much got things where they belong and can do some re-arranging in AZ. We talked with Jack K7DZE at Sierra Vista and he is going to look for a CG for us. He is going to check on one he looked at tonight that says $15 a night or $76 a week. It may work out to stay a week as we want to go up to Phoenix as well as see Jack and Tom. We will have to see what we hear from Bruce and Eunice as he goes to the doctor tomorrow. It was a shock to get the e-mail from them when we were in RC that Bruce has cancer of the Kidneys and they may do surgery so their going with us to Mexico is on hold. Our prayers are with them and we are believing for a miracle.
December 27, 2004 Monday. We made about 470 miles today leaving about 8 am and getting here about 6 pm. That is 10 hours and we stopped about 45 minutes for noon and got the water working so we can use the toilet and have hot water if we want. Eight hours of driving would be better so that means about 300 to 350 miles a day. Especially in the winter so you don't have to drive in the dark. It was about 26 degrees this morning so filled the tank with water before we left. We got diesel at Raton at 1.88, no snow on the pass, dry roads. There is a Wal-Mart at Trinadad on the side of Interstate about Exit 11, coming from the south on would need to get off when you might not be able to see the sign. You are getting toward the top of the hill. We got off the Interstate just past Las Vegas, NM and went south over I-40 down to Hwy 54. Hwy 54 was busier but not bad and people seemed to get around us fine. Diesel is high priced so only got $20 worth. It is 1.99 here at Alamogordo so back to the more standard price but still to expensive. We decided to stay at Wal-Mart here as there are a few others parked and it is a super Wal-Mart and we need bread, milk and several other items. We talked with Doug WA6 YYY tonight on .339 and he relayed to Jack. We also got a phone call from Jack confirming he has a RV park found, sounds real reasonable, about $10 A day with hook ups if we reserve it for a week which should work out OK. We were able to get our e-mail OK, I need to work on the 30 meter tap contact as it is poor and need to check out a headlight connection and get a better GPS antenna signal for the ARPS information for Winlink.
December 28, 2004 Tuesday-We got fuel in Alamogordo and paid at the pump with a credit card but it did not print a reciept. It said if you wanted a receipt to check with the cashier so since we had it written down in our mileage book and AC0M was on the radio I decided to not worry about it. We took off but could not make the turn as it was a divided highway so went to the north on a side street to turn around in a vacant lot we could see. We were in the lot and a lady drove up and waved at us to stop and came over to talk to us. She said the pump machine did not take our credit card and the gas was not paid for. It sure was fortunate she ran us down, so we went back and paid for it. THE LESSON here is if you don't get a receipt always go inside and get one so you are sure the credit card authorization worked so it is paid for and you don't get in trouble with a drive off. Apparently she turned the pump on for us and was expecting me to come in so I guess it was not all my fault but I don't blame her either. The point is to always get a receipt so you know it is paid for. We headed for Sierra Vista and used the route feature in the new GPS and it worked pretty well and got some more things figured out with it. It does somethings my old one does not do but other things the old one does that it does not so if one could combine the two it would be great so I may try and figure out how I can use both for trips.
Diesel was expensive but we made it all the way to Sierra Vista where it is $2.03 which is the best we have seen in AZ. We had noon lunch just into AZ. Traffic was not bad. About 340 miles today and we got in about 2 pm. Jack K7DZE was waiting for us at the north edge of town and led us to the CG he had lined up. He took off to try and meet his grand daughter and we went to get parked. We had trouble backing up and discovered the shackle holding our back leaf spring on the 5th was broke. We were able to go ahead and managed to get into a slot, crooked and the fellow next to us came out and was willing to help us find a shop. We called but the places did not have workers during the week being on holiday. We drove around and found a welder but he did not have a portable unit but did finally find ARC WORKS and he had a portable unit and could get at it by tomorrow afternoon otherwise we were likely looking at next Monday. We got back and I paid for a week at $76.95 total and went to the 5th and got set up and called Jack K7DZE and found he had some blocks. He said he would bring them over. We got it jacked up part way and Jack showed up with the blocks and we visited and it got dark so we decided to go out and eat. We will tackle it again in the morning. I checked out IRLP and it is working fine but no one was around.
December 29, 2004 Wednesday. We got up shortly after 7 am and started working to get things ready for the Arc Works welder Steve. We decided to hook up with the F-350 again as the wind was blowing hard and there were rain showers. We then blocked toward the rear of the frame and used the front jacks so they carried the weight on the back. We then with a lot of trial and error got the tires off and got the tension off the springs and was able to take the center equalizer off so the shackled could be repaired as it was cracked and bent. It bent it back straight and also come up with a rope and lever arm to see if I could get things in alignment to put things back together and I could. Steve showed up and had a portable welder, 220 VAC welder, grinder and cut off saw and some metal and welded things back together and then re-inforced with the plate he brought and then boxed the hangers in on the end. He had 1 2/3 hours of labor so it cost $92 total so we were very blessed. It also we a blessing that it broke here and not out on the road. Most of the break was old as it was rusty. The last bolt stripped so I had to go to Home Depot and get a bolt. I also worked on the headlight problem today so went to PEP BOYS and get a new bulb and also JB weld as I broke the plastic tab on the headlight socket. Hopefully that will fix it. Jack stopped by a couple of times and tonight he came over for supper and we had a great visit and he looked at our Africa pictures. We contacted Harold and Joyce today where they are wintering at Mesa.
December 30, 2004 Thursday The rain quit during the night and we had a sunny day. Started in the mid 40's but soon was in the 50's and got to nearly 70 degrees. I talked to a fellow in the CG who stays the year around and he says it is a decent year around climate, not real hot in the winter but decent since the elevation is fairly high here and sometimes gets to 100 degrees in the summer but it is a dry heat and is not to bad and cools off at night because of the elevation. The town of Sierra Vista has grown a lot but still a middle size town atmosphere with a Wal-Mart, shopping mall and Home Depot and Tucson is not far away. Some people winter here. I got the GPS outside antenna re-installed and it now works so must of been water in the connector at the panel so I rubber taped it and put black tape over the rubber tape. I now get great GPS reception in the 5th wheel and have the Garmin 12XL hooked to the computer and have Winlink set up to up load my GPS location each time I connect with Pactor to get my E-mail. I worked on the headlight and got it a lot better but the connector just seems to have to much corosion so I think the solution is to go to Ford and get a new connector and ring piece to hold it in the socket. I will need to get a new bulb that fits the socket. We leveled the 5th a bit and made a mark where the bubble should be for level. We checked the slide where it leaked last night and did not find anything. I will have to check again as there might be a spot under the metal lip where the water is getting in. It is sloping slightly away now on the slide so probably won't give trouble. The 30 meters tap was off a bit on the bug catcher so go it so the SWR is flat. I spoke with Ole N0ABE and Curt K7BI on IRLP today. Jack and I went out to the MARS station on Fort Huachuca Army base seen where he is camped. We had a nice visit back at the 5th and he showed me some scenic roads in the NW. I got Curt's stuff loaded for the trip to Phoenix when he calls with what there schedule is. I charged my batteries since I have AC. We have the electric water heater on so we have hot water all the time.
December 31, 2004 Friday Got a plug for the headlight and replaced the old one. I used some glue to make it solid since most of the tabs on the retaining ring are broken off. I have a good fix but may have some difficulty changing it out in the future but can deal with that when it happens as I now understand how it all goes together. I got the BugCatcher to resonate better on 40 meters. I talked to Curt and they were going to be free so we headed to Phoenix.
January 1 -January 2nd Saturday and Sunday we spent in Phoenix with Curt and family and Tom came up on Sunday so we had a good visit and got some projects done.
January 3, 2005 Monday We visted Janet and Odean Dickerson at Meas and had dinner and then with Harold and Joyce Crock in Apache Jct. We then headed south on Hwy 79 down to Tucson and got into Sierra Vista about 6:30 pm and had supper at Denny's with Jack K7DZE and then he and I went out to the Radio Club. We had the wrong time so ended up being late but still seen a lot of it and had a nice visit. They have a great ham club and station. It rained a lot during the day, about 3/4 of an inch which is a lot for the desert. Edith talked to the Bennetts and found they should know by Wednesday night if they are going to be able to go to Mexico with us. It appears that Bruce is going to have to have some surgery it just is whether they want to put it off or not?
January 4, 2005 Tuesday It was a windy, rainy night but we had sun and wind until after dinner and then it started raining. We did some shopping and I got some anti-freeze for the diesel engine in the F-350. I spoke to N0ABE on IRLP and they are getting about a foot of snow tonight. Later I talked with Floyd WB0MZB and it had already started snowing there. Jack came over and we visited and worked on his HF Screwdriver antenna and apparently the slider is not making contact with the coil. I worked on the dual bander as it was shutting of when you touched it. It appears to be the remote control head contacts as after some working on them things some to be solid again. We had to fix a hot water drip by the hot water heater, put a radio on the local repeater, and worked on the computer.
January 5, 2005 Wednesday It was the coldest night yet down in the upper 20's. We are using our electric heater but used the propane furnace after we got up to get it warmer and as the sun warmed things it was fine with the electric heater. I called the dentist and found out I would have to go to a pharmacy and have them call her to get the Pen Vee 500 I needed for the abcess on my gum. I went to Wal-Mart and got that taken care of and she also set it up so I can get one refill. A lesson to remember that my plan of always having Pen Vee 500 on hand from home is a good one as I also get it cheaper with the co-pay. Fortunately this was not very expensive but in the future I will have it on hand and a written prescription with 2 X refills if possible or for surn 1X refill. I got backup batteries for the pocket computer, mailed letters and got diesel. I got money at Bank America and found that I can get a BA credit card and have it paid for automatically out of our Salem Bank Account. My present card does not have Internet access to check on the transactions but this one would so that would be a lot better. I did some work on the computer and had to go back to Wal-Mart to pick up the Pen Vee 500. It was just mind boggling how many pills were going out of there. They had three pharmacists filling prescriptions as fast as they could work. This afternoon I got the loading coil working on the base of the Bug Catcher and reset the taps for 40 meters and now have low SWR on 40 for Winlink and also up the band for SSB so that is good. On 20 meters it is best not to use the loading tap, on 30 meters it makes no difference and on 40 it works much better to use it. I got it so I can leave the jumper on the same star mount position and just move it between the three taps. I did write it all down so I have a reference. I talked to Floyd-WB0MZB and he said they had about 14 inches of snow and it was about zero. They are talking like there could be more on Friday. I talked to Tom on the telephone and he may be coming down to Sierra Vista next Wednesday. Jack K7DZE took us to Pizza Hut for supper and we had a great visit. Tonight we should find out from Eunice and Bruce if they will be able to meet us or not! Later on we heard from them and they won't be able to make it as he has to have surgery in the next 3 weeks. They have it lined up so we can get together with their friends at Rincon De Gaybolis and it sounds like there is room in the RV park so we can park there and he will take us fishing. It is to bad as we had a great time last year traveling with them and Harold and Joyce in our sub-group between spots.
January 7, 2005 Thursday It was the coldest morning yet in Sierra Vista. Our hose froze but we were able to use the pump. We ran the heater and furnace last night. With the electric heater the furnace did not run that much. We packed up and I worked with my new GPS some and have it pretty well figured out. When we get to a warm place I will have to see about mounting both of them. We said good bye to Jack K7DZE and had a nice visit back home with Ole and got the weather report, minus zero and plenty of snow. The lady for the CG came in at noon and gave us a free night so that was nice and we were on our way. It seems like the 200 miles from Sierra Vista to Tucson and then west on hwy 86 is a long ways but we finally got there a little before 4 pm. Rather than go down and have to mess around finding a place on the BLM land south of town we just went to the dry camp grounds called Coyote. It was $8.50 but we can get water and dump in the morning. They had breakfast at the community room this morning and will have a music jam tonight so we will go to that. I found out my jumper on the bug catcher came off so I had to use a new one which is a different length so I had to reset all the taps so that turned into about a hour job. I will need to do the 17 meter tap as that could be a good band to use. I tried the IRLP station at Ajo but could not access it. Floyd tells me it is working so apparently I don't have a good enough location as Ajo is 10 or 12 miles away. They have pull through sites so they are easy to get into. I will try IRLP tomorrow on the way through.
Why, AZ is a special place that seems to draw you by it's smallness, remoteness and guinuiness. Many people have come her for 20 years from all walks of life to get away from the cold during those long winter nights. They come from Canada and all over the USA. There is a community building in Why that is the hub of activity with people coming from several rv parks and from the blm desert south of town. The have a community breakfast on Thursday morning, a music jam on Thursday night, a Friday night dance and a gospel music night on Sunday night. They have other activities from time to time. Most dry camp at Coyote CG or the Dessert or some at a couple of other parks that have hook ups.
Everyone seems to know everyone, the music is good, not bad not fantastic but the sincerity of it and the good time had bad all and the appreciation everyone has for the others efforts brings a swell of pride in your heart. If there every was a place in our travels, now nearly 4 years in all the states, all the provinces of Canada and nearly all of Mexico, that is truely America this comes as close as we have seen any place. When you first get here it does not look so special but as you hang around even just a few hours it starts to grow on you. Truely to us this typifies what is so great about this country. Our media does not have a clue but come here and you will understand what the backbone of America is!
January 7, 2005 Friday-We had no success accessing IRLP at Ajo. We got diesel resonable in Gila Bend and some ice cream. We then went north to I-10, it looks like in another year the road will be 4 lane. West on I-10 we stopped at a rest area for dinner. At Quartzite we got fuel and seen a lot of people and heard some ham radio activity. The amount of people around there seemed a bit down from other times but there were certainly a lot of people. The cold weather may of been keeping the crowd down.
We arrived a Joshua Tree NP late afternoon and got into the CG. They had pull alongs and as usual we found them hard to get into so from now on when possible we are going to use a back in as they are two hard to get into and are not long enough. It was cold and windy.
January 8, 2005 Saturday We got up and it was foggy so we went to the ranger station and watched a video on the park and headed north and soon drove out of the fog. The best part of the park is on a loop from 29 palms over the the west entrance. We went over to the west entrance and came back. There are lots of great rock formations and Joshua Trees. We then went back to the 5th and spent the afternoon. I took a hike to an old gold mine and to Cottonwood Springs. It was less windy and not as cold.
January 9, 2005 Sunday We had to go farther west as the road was closed due to the rain. We were in the Imperial Valley and then down along the east side of the Salton Sea. There are some state parks along the sea and a few private ones. We seen one with complete hook ups for $14 and would be a decent place to winter at least for temperature. Many of them were not very crowed so one could find one with some space. East of Niland on the east side of the Salton Sea we drove east on main street about 3 miles and found Slab City where many RV'ers park for free. It is an old military site where there was a run way and slabs that buildings set on. There isa decorated hill at the entrance with a religious theme. We seen lots of people parked, some seem permanet but the vast majority are not. There is a free dump in town at the chamber of commerce. I suspect it is now BLM land but I will have to find out. I have heard reports that there is some stealing that goes on here but that may be way over blown. It certainly looks OK to us to stay awhile here. Anyway it is famous among full time Rvers so we have been there. We got into Calexico about noon and had dinner and found we had cable and could watch the Vikings so we decided to hurry to the border and get our Visa's and vehicle permit. We had a lot of running around and then had things completed and found we had to include the Jayco as a trailer so we had to cancel the permit and re-issue another. Coming back we had about a 20 minute wait in a traffic line to get back into the USA. On the TV at the office on the border we seen the Vikings were ahead. We got back a bit after the half and were pleased to see the Vikings win. We got some groceries and wine for the people we will see at Rincon. We will take in the 5th tomorrow and get my ham license and then go to San Felipe.
January 10, 2005 Monday-We got packed up, got propane for under $14.00 and dumped and filled with water. The border crossing was a piece of cake! He glanced around the cab through the window and then wanted to look in the 5th . I opened the door and he asked if we had any guns or ammo, walked in a few steps, opened one cupboard door, asked where we were going and that was it. Ten seconds tops in the 5th and we were on our way, he never even looked in the refriderator or anyplace else. Our maps for Mexicali were good and we were doing great but then found a street blocked we needed to go on so we had to go on by. We could not make the turn for the returno so we went across the street and around a large block and then got on the same street going the other way where we had entrance to the street that was blocked from the other side. We got parked on a side street near the SCT office to get my amateur radio license. There were quite a few places to park. One could of also parked east of the SCT office. I got my paper work and walked to to bank which was not to far and paid for my amateur license and also go peso's for Edith and I. I then went back to the SCT license and the printed out my temporary license and receipt. Eventually they will send me the actual license but meanwhile this is perfectly legal and all I need. It is good for the length of my tourist permit which is six months. We then got on the street going south which took us right into highway #5 for San Felipe. It took about 2 hours to get the amateur license and we left about 11:30 am. It was very smokey in the area. About 30 miles south of Mexicali it started to clear up. The traffic was not bad. The country is very barren with mountains to the west. For noon we stopped by our first mountains and there were lots of sand dunes. I sent and received e-mail on 30 meters. It seems like a long drive to San Felipe. The road is OK but not great and about half the time no shoulder so you have to pay attention but it is reasonable wide. We seen quite a few California vehicles and eventually several Canadian, Washington and Idaho cars. About 15 miles north of San Felipe is congestion and a lot of development. El Dorado is a company selling homes and RV spaces and bring down caravans out of the Desert Trails RV park we stayed in last night. It is located about 10 miles north of town. There are lots of RV parks in town but a lot of them are closed. We can of took a stab and decided to try the Vista de Mar. It is on a hill side but it it all paved with bricks and the sites are flat being terraced up the hill. The top site on the left is the only big site but the next one # 19 was decent to get into but after backing in we found we could not get the slide out but the manager just let us pull out into the spot until the slide cleared our palapa and we were level sideways so only needed to raise the front end quite a bit to be level. We were greeted by a Canadian couple, a couple from Washington and right along side of us in a long 37 foot triple slide was a couple from ID. They are going to stay 3 weeks and the other two couples came in November and are here for the winter. It is their second year here. The gave us lots of info on the town. The local economy is tough so there is some stealing that goes on so we were warned not to leave things laying around. We were going to check in and got invited to a steak fajita supper which was great and had a good visit with the people. It is $15 a night or $100 a week or even cheaper by the month. From what we find out it is one of the better places in town. It has been for sale for 8 years as the owner wants to sell out and do some traveling. He is 75 years old and drives a Hummer. The manager and his wife are very nice a speak a bit of English. We have decided to stay two nights so we can look around tomorrow, I will try to see a dentist the Canadian couple recommends. She speaks English. We will also try to go to the market and get some produce. On Wednesday we will drive over to Hwy #1 and start down the Baja, traveling about 225 miles. On Thursday we will go to where the whales are at and stay two nights so we can see them. In La Paz we should be able to schedule the ferry for late in the week of January 17th or early in the week of January 24th.
January 11, 2005 Tuesday We got up on time and found the camp manager was fillet a small shark. I got a map from our Canadian friends to his dentist and we headed for there on foot. We looked over downtown on foot and found the dentist. I have an appointment for 9 am in the morning. We then went to where a fruit and vegetable market is on Tuesday but nothing was there. We walked back down town and I got $100 changed into Peso's and we went back to the CG. About then the fog rolled in from the ocean. We visited some of the people in the CG and waited for the fog to lift. By mid-afternoon the fog lifted and we looked at RV parks along the ocean north but they are to crowded for us. We went to the shrine of Lady Guadalupe which looks over the city. The tide was now in where it was out in the morning. We drove around and looked at 3 downtown RV parks where one could get parked but not easily. The security is not very good being right of the beach. I believe there are a couple to the south along the ocean. We got diesel and found a fruit and vegetable stand and got some fresh produce. We got 50 pounds of oranges for $6 . I got e-mail again and listened to the .339 schedule.
January 12, 2005 Wednesday I went to Ester de Rodgers the dentist and she said the filling in the tooth that had the abcess was cracked. She took out the filling and found it already had a root canal so she cleaned it out, put in some anti-biotics in the root canal and closed it up and gave me a prescription for more anti-biotics and an anti-inflammatory that I can get refills on. She said if she was going to put in a permanent filling she would have to wait until next week for the swelling to go down. She suggested we go ahead and it would be OK. If we get someplace where there is a good dentist down the road here in Mexico I may go ahead and get it filled and capped. She only charged my $40 and the medicine was about half price of home so I will try and have it taken care of down here.
We were ready to pull out and found we had a low tire on the 5th. We took it off and I took it to a tire shop. It had a nail and cost $5 so things are definitely cheaper. Diesel is $1.60 a gallon. We said goodbye to our snowbird friends in the park and headed out. It is worth noting the dishnetwork, direct TV and Bellvue Express from Canada all come in at San Felipe. We took Hwy# 5 north to Hwy # 3 west to Ensenanda. It turned into mountain valleys there had lots of agriculture and irrigation. Before long we seen they had lots of rain so the CA rain had hit here also. The road got windy and up and down as we went through the mountains. We had a good contact with AC0M and also K0HW Jim called in. WX is still cold and snowy in SD but is going to warm up. Ensenada is a big place, very hilly and mountains all around but is right on the ocean. As typical in Mexico Hwy # 3 goes into town and nothing is marked . We followed the main road which I believe was a by-pass, looked at the GPS where at Hwy # 1 used to be and drove right to it. The entrance onto # 1 looked like we might end up going the wrong way but turned out OK. We talked to Roger in RC mobile and Bob N6RL south of Encenada with good success. We passed Sao Thome and next was San Vincente which I thought had two RV parks. Well it turned out the RV parks were about another 100 km down the road at another San Vincente so we were in a jam. We found one RV park about 12 miles off Hwy # 1 on the ocean so we headed for it as the sun was going down. The road was full of potholes so we made terrible time and got to the ocean just at dark. Well the road to the RV park was terrible looking and we went a bit and the river was going across the road from all the rain. Cars were going through but it did not look good to me; especially since the sign said another 3 miles and we were not sure it was open. We parked but it certainly was not a secure area so I hiked back up the road where we had seen a police car but when I got there he was gone as it was a roadside store and he had just stopped there. I talked to the senora running it but she did not know about the RV park or where we could park for the night. Fortunately another lady drove up and she could understand my Spanish and she knew a little English. She ran a motel on through town and we could park there for the night. She said she would be at the motel in 20 minutes. The road through town was mud and slop and terribly rough but did have a solid bottom but it took a long time to get here. We are on cement, rocks and I talked to someone here and explained we had talked to the senora. He seemed agreeable to it so we are set up and have sent e-mail. So far the senora has not shown up but I am sure she will as it is just 7 pm. We can hear the ocean as it is close by. It ended up late for taking my pills but the tooth seems to be doing fine and I will shorten up the time for taking the next two pills. We had a lot of "ROAD RASH" from the bumps and the worst was coming across on Hwy # 3 we did not see our first tope on time and hit it way harder than one would like to. I suppose about 35 mph and 20 mph would of been plenty fast. Fortunately it was a longer, rolling type or it could of wrecked some things.
In the morning we have a couple of miles of rough, sloppy road to get back to the hard surface, then about 5 good miles and then about 7 miles of bad pot holes to get back to Hwy # 1. In hind sight we probably should of went ahead on Hwy # 1 to San Vincente and hopefully found a PEMEX and asked to park there or got permission to park someplace but anyway that is water over the dam.
January 13, 2005 Thursday We got up early, found a worker to pay for the night and took off. It was slow going and tough getting out of the gate. Later we noticed the right rail of the F-350 box got bent some and it may of happened in getting out of the gate. As least it is the same rail the got bent in 2001 in Alaska. This bend is about a foot from the tail gate and more noticeable. The tail gate opens and closes fine so other than looks everything is OK. One hates when this happens but when you travel in all the tough places we have some things are going to happen from time to time. We got back to the road before 8 am which was doing good and we were careful so nothing was damaged other than we may of done the box damage pulling out or it might of happen on a terrible road out of a PEMEX station. The road was still quite up and down and then we went through a lot of towns and topes but we seen them all today. The road then went along the coast and was much better going. At SAN ROSILARO it was important to fill with diesel as there were no more PEMEX for about 230 miles. We headed east across the Baja into the mountains and got trapped in with a caravan for awhile and listened to them on CB
To me they traveled way to close together which made it very hard for people to get by. We finally got a chance to pass and easily left them behind. The desert and mountains were beautifel with huge cactus of many types. It was the most impressive we have seen any where. We then went into an area the had lots of rocks strewn around a lot like Joshua tree but more and higher and lots of Cactus. We seen a few of what certainly appeared to by Joshua Trees. As we went east and started to head south there were huge mountains off to the east and they were very colorful. The more we went south the more plain the desert became but for about 150 miles it is very scenic desert. At Negro Guerrero we stopped at Mario's and got lined up for the whale tour in the morning for 4 hours and we can also dry camp here for free so we will stay tonight and tomorrow night. I got diesel. An Adventure Caravan staff 5th wheel and pickup had a really bad crunch on both rails of the box with lots of damage to the 5th as wheel. It was a three wheel 5th and the middle wheel was off on one side so it had lots of problems. It made our small dent look pretty minor. It is going to take at least two days to get to La Paz Hopefully we can find a secure CG and park the 5th, get the ferry lined up and then just take the F-350 on the loop down to Cablo San Luis and back. The Baja has a lot of CG but many are closed so one has to have alternatives lined up and be sure you have time to get to the alternatives before dark. If you do get in a jamb stay on the main road and find a motel or Pemex and get permission to park there for the night even if you have to pay $10.
January 14, 2005 Thursday We went on the whale tour. They had an English speaking guide who told us about the area. The big industry is the salt flats which is the biggest in the world for this type of mining. The flood large areas to a depth of about 3 feet and let the sea water evaporate over about 2 or 3 years. When the water is gone there is a nice layer of salt which they load with pay loaders and truck to a central site where it can be barged out to ships where it can be shipped for processing. Some of the salf they process themselves and had a factory where they make salt packets. It is the big employer in town and they have a special company store and also housing so these are sought after jobs.
They have a lot of birds here, many for the winter season. We seen a lot of whales. In about a month, say mid February is the best time as the curious young born whales come up the boats and you can touch them. Back at the RV park we got to know John and Pat Gilday who are tail gunners for Adventure Caravans and they know Dick and Becky Ward and even better Denny and Donna Martensen. John is KC9GLZ so we talked ham radio and they showed us things to check out in the Baja and CG they liked. I took him down town to get a tire and some propane. The workers were there fixing his trailer and the suspension holding the equalizers were bent from there accident. They hope to have work done on the pickup in Cablo as well as the 5th. The caravan should arrive tomorrow.
We are having trouble with the dome light and outside cab light on our pickup staying on. The computer control is not working well and also the door ajar light stays on but of course that is not serious. We went north of town and Edith got some shells. The people staying in the CG are nice and we visited with all them. I showed John about e-mail using Winlink and we talked about HF radios and antenna's I charged all my camera batteries. We ran the generator today so Edith could chop up our Oranges. We don't use the generator much as the batteries work so well. We looked at where we want to camp tomorrow. We also got some good info from John on the ferry from La Paz to Los Mochis.
January 15, 2005 Saturday We said good bye to Pat and John, Pat had some fresh oatmeal cookies for us and they thanked us for our help and promised to greet Donna and Denny Martensen of Adventure Caravans for us. We had a bit of boring, nothing desert east of Negro Guerrero but soon it was lots of cactus. We stopped at San Ignacio which has a town square and a very old chuch. On can get in and out but it is tight.. We had an interesting vist with a store owner who wanted to learn more English and I wanted to learn more Spanish so that was fun. It is a date palm oasis and sometimes they have dates or date bread for sale. We went on to Santa Rosalia. The hill down into there is steep and curvy but not nearly as bad as we were told. We have been on much, much worse. We put it is low gear and did not have to use the brakes much at all. In town you can park along the side of the road by the ocean about 2-3 blocks distance, pas the ferry entrance for aways. If you are pulling anything or are a motor home you need to park here and walk in. The famous bakery is on the street where the cars go into town., ie the right hand one. It is where the sign points and there is a bit of a zocalo here or at least you would call it an open palm tree area. We got some good bakery items and looked around a bit. The old church I believe is farther north than this so we did not want to walk that far as there was a mountain between us so we would of had to go back to the highway, then north and then back west into town. We found a church but not the old one.
We then went south to Muleje which is another Date Palm Oasis and south of there at KM 115 is Playa Senispac which is 70 peso's so abot $6 a night. We drove to the north, then along the north side of the bay and then before a big hill we went north again and there is a beach here that only had on camper on and so we parked. There are all kinds of shells, it is the first warm place we have been and lots of Canadians stay here for six months. It is the best winter spot we have found so far. There is supposed to be a dump and water someplace and solar panels would be needed or run a generator with a battery charger to charge your batteries. Fuel is available just a few miles back north on the south side of Muleje. John gave us a good tip as this is a great place. It is right off Hwy #1 and you can not miss it if you are watching for KM # 115.
January 16, 2005 Sunday- It was a nice morning on the sea of cortez, a nice spot. We left about 8:30 am, there is a RV Dump here and showers so I assume water. There are several RV parks along the ocean to the south. The road goes along the ocean for 20 miles or so and it slow driving. It then climbs out, over the mountains and gets into a valley where one can travel faster on into Loreto. The Rivera Del Mar was full of caravan people but they told me the Loreto Shores was open. Our guide said it was closed but it is open. They had a caravan coming in but we could park in the south part. This morning we noticed the left rear tire was wearing badly on the inside and the right rear tire is wearing a bit on the outside so we changed them around. We duped and filled with water and coming in we hit some trees and broke the bug catcher so we took it off and glued it back together. We also mounted the other bug catcher on the front of the F-350 and I caulked where the holder for the coax is on the front over hang and then glued it so hopefully it will hold. The electricity checked OK and we have good voltage so we are plugged in. We then went downtown and seen some of the historical buildings as Loreto was the first capital of the Baja. We walked along the beach by the park and I checked for the fellows on 20 meters but did not hear them so assume they were tied up with football. This is a nice roomy park. I discovered a problem with low voltage from the battery bank when I drew power. The voltage seemed to hold right at the batteries but away from the batteries it dropped badly which seemed to indicate a bad connection on the hot wire or a bad ground or sulfated batteries but given the voltage stayed up at the batteries it seemed it would not be sulfated batteries. I tightened everything on the hot leads but that did not seem to help. I noted the the alternator for the pickup batteries showed 14.3 volts but I did not have that at the battery bank from the alternator for the battery bank. It was dark so I called it a day.
January 17, 2005 Monday-I got up and checked to make sure I did not have loose wires going to the alternator. I tried the switch under the hood and in the battery box to change the wiring to the original configuration and I had 14.5 volts at the knife switch so it appears the alternator is working for the battery bank. We hooked up and took of and were on the road for La Paz before 8 am. It is windy along the coast and then heads up over the mountains. It is quite a climb and windy. Over the top it levels out and the road is not bad the rest of the way to La Paz. At Ciudad Insurgencies and Constitucion there is irrigation and we even seen some corn. We got diesel at Ciudad Contitucion, there was a huge line for gas but none for diesel so I was glad to have diesel. It was prepay so gave here 500 pesos and asked if I could get change in Spanish and she said I could which it turned out I needed to as I could only put in 400 pesos. We got into La Paz a little before 1 pm and found Casa Blanca RV park and got parked and paid for it and talked to some locals and found the tourist office was closed. We headed for town and the streets were so poorly marked we could not find the ferry office. We asked several times and kept getting closer. Finally a young lady at a school said just follow me and she led us about 8 blocks to it. It was the ferry for Marztlan and she coujld not speak English but my Spanish was good enough I found out I could get tickets at the ferry port, measure there and found it cost 9750 pesos for the rig and I was included and then adding on for Edith made the total 9750. It left today, Wednesday and Friday and on the weekend. We then headed for the ferry and found that Baja Ferries was there as well so I talked to them and found for $6750 total we could go to Los Mochis so that is the best deal as it is 2200 pesos less and it will not cost that much for toll roads and diesel so we should save at least $100 and it is only a one day drive. We then went to the other ticket office at the ferry as I forgot to ask about VISA and measurement which we can do. We then went to Tocalate Beach which is right or east from the ferry on an oil road. There were a good number of RV there. We talked to some people from Alberta and found it was free. There is a problem sometime with local people coming by and stealing things so we will have to keep things locked up and watch each others things and not answer a knock on the door.
We got back to the RV park and told our BC friends and they are going out. I talked to Tom who is a W7 ham who has been here for 5 weeks. I then began to work on the low voltage situation. I checked the Specific Gravity and that confirmed what I thought that the batteries were pretty well charged. I loosened and tightened the nut on the ground and then decided to check in the area of the fuses on the ground side and noted under load I that 12.62 volts on the battery side of the fuses but on the other side of the fuses I only had a little over 10 volts. I then discovered a loose connection on the wire going to the frame ground. I decided to tear the fuses out and ground direct since in 3.5 years I have never blown one of these fuses so it should not be necessary to have them. When I get home I can decide if I want them or not. I can see the more connections the more chance for problems. One ground wire would not reach so I had use a jumper splice. Anyway once I re-did the ground I could run the amplifier and it just barely dropped below 12 Volts and I suspect that has always been true when running 500 watts. With the bad chasis ground the alternator did not have a good return ground so I will have to check tomorrow but I bet I now show 14.3 or so charging volts. I need to get under the F-350 and rubber tape and black tape the sense wire protective rubber hose. At home it would be a good idea to add a second chasis ground. I will need to get the bug catcher hooked up and get my e-mail. I could put up the dipole when we would be around.
January 18, 2005 Tuesday The Baja and Back caravan that was at Loreto Shores showed up late and it was a mess as it really got crowed. I finally parked by our new friend Bill who had a small Class C so I could get in along side him. I worked on my Spanish. We got up about 7:30 am as the caravan people were quiet and did not get up very early. They had a free day on their own so that meant it was going to be tight getting out. Bill showed me places to park on the Baja. We managed to get out but it was tight. The BC people said they would come out to Playa Tecolate later on. We made it to the ferry and got measured but found we could not buy a ticket for Friday until Friday. We were 14.5 meters long so well with in the 17 meter maximum. I am included in the price and Edith is another passenger. It comes out to about $650.00 total and I can use the credit card. We need to be there by 2 pm but we will get there earlier and we leave at 4 pm. It is supposed to take 5 hours so we will be there in the dark. Hopefully we can pull off the ferry and spend the night there and then head for Mazatlan. We got out to Playa Tecolate and made friends with those around us. Several will be around tomorrow to watch things while we do the loop to Cabo San Lucas which is about 250 miles. I did some more checking on the battery bank and confirmed the alternator is now putting out about 14.20 volts to the battery bank. I repaired the connection for the computer power in the F-350 and retaped things under the F-350 on wires from the alternator. I worked on a shelf support under the sink and then worked on E mail and sent out the first travelogue. I made the .339 sked and had good success talking to everyone. Winlink and e-mail is working good here! We sent e-mails to Bill and Sue Moore who we hope to see at Rincon de guayabitos and to Bruce and Eunice. We will be able to spend the day here on Thursday relaxing and enjoying the weather and view. It has been in the low 80's to upper 70's in the day time and low 60's to upper 50's at night. There is wind here on the beach. They have had a little trouble with theft by some locals and one has to be sure to stay away from the beach and on the rocks were you don't get stuck in the sand. Thursday I will have to change oil and filter and probably start the generator and charge the coach battery for the ferry trip and also charge the batteries for the DeWalt flashlight.
January 19, 2005 Wednesday- We got up before 7 am and was on the road by 7:40 am for our day trip to Cabo San Lucas. We decide to take the windy Hwy # 1 which was a good decision. You go through lots of mountains and it is very up and down and lots of curves. It would be a tough one with the 5th wheel on the brakes. Even with just the F-350 I shifted down a lot. Eventually you get to the Pacific coast for about 15 miles and this is a nice area and it appears some Canadians and Americans stay here. The airport for Cabo is a long ways north of town and there is a cuota road from there to Cabo. We took the 4 lane libre and other than a lot of stop lights was good and the traffic was not bad. You got through a big hotel zone and then pretty much go out of it to mountains and desert and then arrive at Cabo San Lucas. It really is not real large in the tourist and hotel area but does go east quite away's where the locals live. We found the marina parking lot which is on the southwest side of the harbor and you can walk right down to the harbor front. It is a large lot and was a great place to park. We found a glass bottom boat tour to lovers beach and El Arco ( the Arch) and got some nice pictures. The cost was 150 peso's each. Also pick up a free copy of the Gringo Gazette it is great reading. It is bi-weekly. Also there are hump back whales and Gray Whales in the area. Apparently the baby gray whales are older here as the people who went with us on the glass bottom boat tour said they went on the whale tour yesterday and we able to touch the whales so if you are two early at Negro Guererro to touch the Gray Whales you may be able to do so here. We have been to many tourist places like this we did not shop but there is plenty of that to do and plenty of eating places. There is certainly plenty to do here. I would say we liked Acapulco better but I think I like Cabo better than Cancun as it is more Mexican. The Mexican town of Cancun of the hotel zona is OK. This combines both, close together. We then headed out and should of stayed on the waterfront but thought we could go away from the harbor and intersect the road, well it did not work and we wandered around Cabo in some poor neighborhoods and could not find Hwy # 19 to La Paz. We finally went farther back in the direction we had come as the road on the GPS was not correct. It turned out to be much farther back in the direction we had come. Edith spotted a big power line headed north and we have noted they often parallel the highway so we headed for it and there was the highway. Definitely the biggest problem in Mexico are getting around in the town as the highways stop at the edge of town and even if you have a good city map only about 20% of the streets have signs so it is a tough go. The GPS helps but sometimes the road had been moved or it just is not calibrated correctly. The GPS does help in giving you the correct direction. The road back on #19 is much better and definitely the way to go with a RV rather than the other way. There was a large place where you can rent 4 wheelers and we seen a lot out riding. This was about 10 miles north of town. It is a nice drive along the coast on the Pacific side. It looks like you could park about 10 to 15 miles south of Todas Sandos for free on the beach but we did not have time to check it out. You can see it from the road. Todas Sandos is a nice town and would be a nice place to spend a day or two. Lots of Canadian and American artists live here and have made it home. We bought some datil (dates) here and they are delicious. The trip back is about 2.5 hours where going down was 4.5 hours. We followed the GPS mapping and got through La Paz faster; although we headed for the waterfront and went right across our street we take along the waterfront as it we out far enough it was two lane there and we did not recognize it. Nothing hurt as we were down to the water and knew we missed it so just went back about 4 blocks and found it. Backl at Playa Tecolote things were find and visited with John and Kathy behind us. The other people from BC already took off. I had a great sked on .339 except I could not hear Roger. Jack was weak but I could hear him. Jack starts his test tomorrow. John and Kathy came over and we had a great visit. They have traveled for years. I did e-mail and all the travelogues went out OK so it is working great down here.
January 20, 2005 Thursday We got up later and had a good breakfast and then I changed to oil and filter on F-350. With the tarp we don't spill a drop on the ground and I used the wood ramps we use to level the RV to get the F-350 up off the ground a bit more which helps get under it. We then walked about a mile up the beach looking for shells and Edith got some nice big ones with lots of color inside. I got e-mail and we had an answer from Phil and Sue Moore with directions to their RV park at Rincon De Guaybitos. We had heard Eunice say Bill but we mis-understood and it is Phil. We also have the GPS coordinates. We also got a message from Eunice and Bruce that he will have his operation for his kidney tumor on January 31st. Edith did some reading, we checked out the RV parks at Rincon. Phil and Sue said right now there is a space in their park and one in the park next to them. We should be able to make it down to them in a couple of days from Topolobampo where the ferry lands. I worked on my Spanish, had a great schedule on 20 meters with Chris-AC0M. I have to charge my 6 volt battery for the computer in the 5th. We were invited over to Jon and Kathy and the friends from Alberta came also and we had a great visit. Pam and her husband have been to N.Z. and OZ twice so I made lots of great notes on suggestions they had.
January 21, 2005 Friday- We had a nice final visit with Jon and Cathy VanSIckle #314 506 Grafton St. Victoria B C V9A7P8 email@example.com Our friends from Alberta took off. There is free beach parkiing at Las Seritos. It south of Todas Sandos then to Pescadero and about 3 km south off of Hwy # 19 probably KM 64 but it might be KM 69 and 67. There is a Mexican campground but it is being closed, in the past it was $3 to $5 for the sewer dump and garbage. But south a bit of it is free parking on the beach. You should be able to drive from the old Mexican campground down along the ocean. There is some spread out camping like Quartsite. The is also a surf camp here and one of the best surf's in the Baja and it is run by americans. It costs $10 a day and they will also help with surfing transportation,et. That probably is KM 67. I did see a sign coming north from cabo san lucas about the surf camp. We left a little before 11 am and got to the ferry about 11 am. We got our tickets, needed the sheet our vehicle sticker came of of. The needed a copy of my drivers license or I am sure our passport would of worked. It was 6800 pesos for the pickup and 5th ie between 9-17 meters and we were 14.5 meters and that included me. It was another 650 pesos for Edith for a total of 7450 pesos and they took Visa or Mastercard. I used my VISA. With Baja Ferries it works good to go to their office with and entrance outside the fence. It is about 1/4 mile north of the Tecolote Playa turnoff. On can go by the building, turn left into their lot and go out the north gate and come back to the street and then park parallel in front or beyond the front of the building. They will not let you get your ticket until the day you are going. They can measure you on the street. Each ticket holder gets supper soon after getting on the ferry. You will see the line, don't wait to long as the main line shuts down say 6 pm. You just show your ferry ticket. You need a vehicle permit that includes your pulled trailer on it and be sure the VIN # are correct as they check them very carefully. They looked inside but really amounted to nothing. Don't go in the lanes as that is where the trucks go. Go toward the ocean from the two inside ferry offices and there is a place to back in maybe 15 spots or so. The other company Sematur has an office inside the fence. The best is to park outside and talk to a guard and walk in. They have an office in town but only speak Spanish. At this office sometimes is a man who speaks perfect English. Sematur goes to Mazatlan. Both companies go about 3 times a week and once on the week end. Check there web sites for the latest schedules. It is about $260 more to go to Mazatlan. It takes about 16 hours so it is a long time on the deck where the other is just 6 hours and it is a snap to sit a sorts of places or lay down. On Sematur you do not get a meal but both are decent deals. There is a ferry from Santa Rosalia to the north but it is smaller and is quite spendy, plus you have to drive quite aways back north. You can park on the beach at Tecolote just be sure to watch each others things for locals stealing. They had had a problem but we had absolutely no problems when we were there and made some super friends. The ferry left at 4 pm right on time. I would suggest being there about 3 or 4 hours ahead as they start loading about 1 ½ hours before departure. You may have to pull on and then back but when you go out you have room to turn on the deck. You can stay at the ferry yard in Topolobampo. It takes a couple of hours until about midnight to clear out. They told us it was fine to park there. You leave the yard and go right or north and is signed for Los Mochis. It is about 25 km and when you get to bienvenidos sign sart watching for the big over head highway sign. Straight ahead is Centro Los Mochis, to the right is Mexico Hwy 15 D libremiento. Take it for a few miles and watch for railroad tracks and on the left a PEMEX # 4006, turn left here and take the road along the canal past the PEMEX. It is a good place to fuel up. It is 5 miles to Hwy #15 and you can go south toward Culiacan or north depending on where you want to go. I assume you could go through Los Mochis Centro and hit Hwy # 15 and go north. For south I would definitely recommend what I described and for that matter for going north it makes good sense to me to take this by pass.
We had about $60 in diesel fuel to get to Mazatlan. It went up from 4.95 for liter in the Baja to 5.17 peso's here. We had a bit less than $40 in Cuota fees and the road was good. The first part is 4 lane libre from Los Mochis to past Gustasve. We got into Mazatlan about 3 pm. We stayed at Playa Escendido which is under new management starting last year. It was almost empty in early 2002. It is now very full and we had a hard time finding a spot. The hookups are still in terrible shape but they are helping people and hopefully, eventually there will be some improvements. Mostly Canadians and lots from BC. VE7DO is still here. There are a lot of Star Choice dishes and they are working good. People with a big dish are getting Direct TV.
We sent and got e-mail and got the antennas back on from taking them off for the ferry.
We had a great visit with Blake VE7DO Blake Tweddle@canada.com 9102 Husband Road Cold Stream Canada V1B129 suburb of Vernon.
He mentioned skype.com for making phone calls via the computer.
OZ Info His daughter is at Newcastle about 150 km north of Sydney. Very active ham club Graham VK2FA has an IRLP machine.#6775 They are 1 day -6 hours best time for him is mid morning to early afternoon.
146.975 and 146.775 VK2EO is IRLP system op
Vk2yp@yahoo.co.uk Gather at club every Saturday afternoon, they have 4 acres.
Get ham license in Sydney for $35 in person.
RV rental place in Sydney
Fiji Is. Blue Lagoon 3 day cruise really liked
Went on Quicksilver cataraman from Cairns
Batteryminder vdcelectronics.com is another one you can buy
There sked is 21.302 at 11:30 am on SundayVE7KDX MT is 10:30 Pacific
7.294 at 8:30 mountain time everyday Tabasco net
9550 CUBA Arnie Coro Tuesday 4:30 MST
January 23, 2005 Sunday We got up around 7 am and Blake VE7DO was over and gave me more info on Shortwave and that Arnie Coro was on Saturday night at 2230 local on 9550. We were ready to head out and discovered our left tail light on the 5th did not work. It was a bulb problem. We were low on diesel but made it to Mazatlan all OK. On the exit north of town for the Mazatlan Playa's we found coming north you can not get off here but only coming south. If going north you need to take the Libre to be able to go west to the Mazatlan Playa. There are a lot of lights going through Mazatlan and we seemed to have to stop for about 80% of them. There is a two land toll road south with good shoulders for about 30 miles. There is no toll road for about 120 miles from there to just outside of Tepic where there is about a 10 mile toll road. The tolls from Los Mochis to Mazatlan were $51 (555 pesos) and it was 133 pesos and then 81 pesos by Tepic so that would be a total of $71.00. Going north we would have some from Los Mochis north so probably $100. There is a good PEMEX on the west side just before you leave the toll road by Culiacan that Phil and Sue stay at and they have not had trouble with diesel noise. It was a steep down hill with lots of curves on Hwy # 200 coming from Tepic. The San Blas way has lots of Tope's and low branches. We use 2nd and low a lot with the transmisssion. It would of been nice to have had a Jake Brake. We missed a turn in Rincon for the Paraiso de Pescadar so had to turn around but then drove to it. We parked on the street and found Phil and Sue and they found our spot they had the park save for us and it was tight but we were able to pull in the gate, then left, then right and got backed in. We have about 130 VAC, sewer and water with low pressure. It is crowed but it is clean and it is a great park for fishing as they have a gate and ramp right out to the ocean. We went out to supper with Phil and Sue. The best news was the park has Wi-Fi for free so I can be on the internet all the time. I can download my e-mail every minute just like at home but for sending have to use web mail. ICQ works fine. This is good as I won't have to use the radio much here in the park where it is noisy. I had a bunch of e-mail but got it all downloaded and taken care of.
January 24, 2005 Monday I got up before 6:30 am and seen them launch two boats. Phil was sick with a terrible cold so he was not around. I met a lot of people, we got the awning up and I finished up the e-mail and talked to Chris on the radio briefly. I paid for about 23 days at $18 a day and if we stay 30 days I will get a refund of 50 cents a day. It is mostly Canadians here and they are nice and there seems to be lots to do around here. It does not rain much here but it did last night but it did not last long. It also is not windy here. I walked the beach to the north and back and visited with Jerry-K2EUR who is in the park and he said it would be no problem putting up an antenna. We got to know our neighbors and Wally told me about a 21 km hike on Wednesday.
January 25, 2004 Tuesday We put up a 20 meter wire dipole and got it up about 30 feet in the center and it has the legs out a long ways hooked to the rock wall behind us that is about 8 feet hight so works out good and does not show up much. I think with most people having satellite TV we should be OK. Also for the 5 pm .339 sked most people go to the evening social gathering. Edith washed some clothes and hung them out on a clothes line we put up. I walked the down town section and walked to beach to the northeast to the rock wall which is about 5 km round trip. Actually I went by it some and helped some fellows get their boat out of the water and over into another lagoon. We learned about somethings to the south of Puerto Vallarta from Lloyd and Mary Jane before a bunch left to go golfing.
January 26, 2004 Wednesday Wally and I left about 7:30 to go hiking. We got a ride from the gate of the park across the street and rode to a little town west of here. There was quite a group. It is a rugged 21 km plus hike, up and down, some level and quite a lot on the beach. There are some beautiful views and I had my camel back for water. I did good until we got toward the end and there are two big hills. The last fellows had to wait for me while I rested. I just ran out of energy. I finally made it to the top and it was not bad going down. When we got to the level it was still quite aways and it was hot so I got tired out again but nothing like going up the two hills. We had some refreshments and some ate. I was to tired to be hungry. We got a ride back in a pickup. I took about a 3 hour nap and felt much more rested. I got on the .339 gathering and was able to tell Jack how happy we were about his clean bill of health. We visited with Wally and Brenda for awhile about the hike. Our other neighbors Dan and Cheryl are gone for 10 days traveling around Mexico. I listened to short wave some to identify frequencies and time for some new broadcasts. At around 9 am we are supposed to go with Phil to the open market.
January 27, 2005 Thursday Phil took us to the market at La Penita and we stocked up as we were out of fruit and fresh vegetables. Things were reasonable. We got 50 pounds of oranges for juice at $5.50. Edith worked on those and I hiked to La Penita RV park which is about 6 miles round trip. Some sites are right over the ocean and others back. It is $425 per month or if 4 months a 10 per cent discount. DSL wireless internet is 250 pesos a month. They have lots of activities and have Spanish lessons and you pay by tip. One can get in for the next year but likely would have to sign up for two months. They have more room than where we are and you can park by your rig. On the way back I stopped at a dentist and got an appointment for us at 5 pm. We returned and he prepared my tooth that was abcessed on the way down and will put the cap on the tooth on Tuesday. The total cost will be 1200 peso's. Edith has one that is going to need a post and then cap which will be 1700 peso's so about 1/3 the cost of at home. He did a nice job.
January 28, 2005 Friday-We took a day trip to San Blas. It was very tropical with lots of bananas, pineapple, coconut, etc. At San Blas we had a hard time finding the jungle tour. It turns out the most popular place is back south at malcatan just past the beer distributor, huge white building. We left from the bridge over the river just before the road turns to Mazatlan. We ended up with a great guide Pancho who could speak good English and showed us lots of birds, animals, plants and drove very slow. He took us to the crocodile farm and also the swimming area. We gave him a $20 tip. The trip was 3 ½ hours so he really treated us well and deserved the tip. We normally do not give big tips but he did such a great job! It took about 1 ½ hours each way. We stopped at the stands on the way back and got a pineapple for 10 pesos but they had no dates. We should of bought more on the Baja. Hopefully we can get some south of Puerto Vallarta.
January 29, 2005-Saturday I walked over to La Penita to where Martin worked at a bike shop and found that a used bike cost about 900 peso and a new one about 2000 pesos. Wally saw one down the street and it is offered for 1000 pesos but the front wheel is bent a bit, it wobbles. I will think about it and likely just walk and get the bike I want when I get home that Tim has. The rest of the day I studied Spanish and walked the beach. We visited Luz and Joan in the park across the street about their NZ and OZ trip. They showed us pictures and we got lots on good notes. They told about there travels in southeast Asia, Russia, Mongolia and China. They liked Thailand the best but of course there is a lot of damage there. We have been listening to Radio Canada for news on 9810 at 6 pm local
January 30, 2005 Sunday We had a park pancake breakfast, walked the beach a couple of times to the rock wall where I found using the GPS that is just over 3 miles round trip. I did some trip planning and we paid our 10 peso's each for the Superbowl Party. It did more research on the computer the WiFi is great. We are talking about going to Sam's and Wal-Mart tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta for some supplies.
January 31, 2005 Monday We left for PV before 8 am. It goes good until you get behind a truck as the road is such that you can not pass very many places with the hills and curves. PV is a busy place but the reading we had did paid off as it is not terribly huge so things made sense. We seen Wal-Mart and SAMS right together after the airport and around the Marina. It is away from the ocean side or left side coming in from the north, going south. We continued on down and seen the turn off for Hwy 200 south which goes away from the ocean and goes through some tunnels. We took the right hand fork of the Y and followed along the ocean and when we hit the cobblestone street we were in old PV. You could see houses up on the hill side looking down on the town and ocean. There were lots of tourists, one way streets which are narrow so not an easy place to get around in with a big pickup. Toward the south end we followed signs that took us away from the ocean and eventually signs back north for the airport. To make a turn you go on the access road and then at a light you can turn across the main road and either go on the other lane direction or the access road on the other side. I did this to got back to vist a tourist info center by a bank. It was hard to find a parking place and to get into it with the pickup with everything being set up for little cars. I got some info on a boat ride to Yelapa and a down town tour. We then went on north and got to SAMS and WAL-MART and did our shopping. These places are always busy in Mexico We seen lots of Americans and Canadians. We could not find any pudding but found pretty much everything else We did get some fresh bread very cheap in SAMS. Most things were more expensive than in the USA other than soft drinks, water, sports drinks, candy bars and bread. We got back to the RV park about 3:30 pm and had something to eat. It started to sprinkle but did walk the beach on the 3 mile round walk to the rock wall and soon after I got back it really rained. I listened to the .339 group and finally heard Bob and Doug good but everyone else was weak. They were up and down.
February 1, 2005 Tuesday- We kept waiting on some word from Eunice on Bruces surgery. At 7 am I sent an e-mail to her and fortunately she got it before taking off to see Bruce so we got as good a report as they could expect. The tumor was removed and he kept his kidney. Now the question will be if the lab tests show it is cancer or not? They is supposed to take about a week so we are believing for good news. I studied Spanish and walked the beach. Edith washed clothes by the bungalows as they have sinks and washboards there. She went shopping with Sue. I tried to help Phil with his computer but it is a Mac and I don't know anything about Mac's. It appears he has several issues so it will be difficult as something is not allowing it to load and use the browser. We went to the dentist and found he was delayed coming back from Tepic. We did have a nice visit with people from Kenai in Alaska, He works at Prudue Bay where the pipe line starts. He said that in late August, early September a lot of the tourist leave and Alaskans are thinking about hunting and it is not nearly so crowed to fish for Silver Salmon. It got late and my crown did not come in but he worked on Ediths tooth putting in a pin. While we were there a call came in from Alaska and I helped some trying to translate. The people in Alaska had a reference for a person who had visited here. They were amazed at the prices. We got back and met Phil and Sue and apologized for being late due to the dentist appointment being real late from what we were scheduled. We went south to San Francisco to eat. This is the place Bruce and Eunice had told us about. I had the coconut shrimp which were large shrimp with coconut all over them and an sauce to dip them in. It was good. After we got back we worked on our trip plans after we get the dental work done. Our neighbors are going to Mazatlan for a couple of weeks and also going to check out a new park north of town and then go to Alamos for a few days and then San Carlos. Earlier a lady in the park got our emergency information and I found she knows the most Spanish of anyone in the park and they have been here for a long time.
February 2, 2005 Wednesday It is hiking day so I had pancakes with honey for breakfast. I took my
GPS and had 2.4 liters of Gatorade in the camelbak. I went slower and stayed toward the back of the group but a couple were behind me a lot of the way. We did not rest like the first time. One the high hill side road looking out over the valley we rested maybe 1 minute and it got out my Snickers Bars and ate a half one. The rest I had to finish while hiking. I did my best to drink Gatorade on a regular basis and mark waypoints. Again after the long beach walk we did not rest. We finally got to the last two big hills and stopped maybe 3 minutes and I downed part of my honey sandwich and had to finish the rest while walking. The first hill went way, way better than last week. They there is a level area. The second hill went much, much better but it would of been nice to have had a short rest about 3/4 of the way up. One of the fellows was always pushing as he want to get to the café in time to eat before the rides came. Anyway I learned some Spanish words and after the top, going down is a lot easier other than it is quite steep so it is hard on the knees. My right foot on the ball was sore. We had to go around the RV park as they were complaining about us walking through which is a joke but anyway it was easy to do so no problem. The first group it took 3 hours and 20 minutes, the second cluster 3 hours and 40 -45 minutes and we were the last group at 4 hours and 5 minutes. Much better than the 4 hours and 40 minutest last time. I sure did feel a whole lot better. I drank a coke which really did not help my thirst. It seemed I needed more water and did not get enough Gatorade down and was a bit dehydrated. Given it was cloudy most of the way if it is hot I will have to drink more. It is hard to do when we are walking so fast all the time. It was nice to have Martin on the hike again as he brought up the rear and knows English and of course Spanish is his first language. He could hike much faster but makes sure no one gets lost so he brings up the rear. I rode back in the cab as I was still soaking wet on my tee shirt so I did not want to get cold. I sat in the chair, ate a little bit and worked with the GPS. It came out to be 10.31 miles so given the hills and the GPS cutting off the corners it probably is close to 11 miles or some less maybe 10.5 miles. It seems farther than that but it is tough hiking in the sand on the beaches and there are steep hills to go up and to go down. I guess that means we averaged about 2.5 miles a hour. It started sprinkling toward dark. I got a chance to talk to Dennis who is next to use about Mazatlan, Alamos and San Carlos. I visited with Wally about Zacatecas.
February 3, 2005 Thursday Today we got fruits and vegetables at the market and got a tool to squeeze oranges for juice for $2.80. You can get ones with a handle that makes it easier but then it takes more room to store. It was rainy but did walk the beach before it rained much. It seems like it does not rain in the morning even though it looks like it could but in the afternoon and evening it is much more likely to rain. This is unusual but happens once in a while, some years not at all as it is the dry season. I worked on the computer on the website for this trip and worked on my Spanish fruit and vegetable words. It got windy at night and our neighbors Wally and Barbara had to put up their awning as the wind was really coming down the road from the north. We also put ours up.
I got a lot of the work done on the web page.
February 4, 2005 Friday It was rainy again. We went to the dentist at 10 am and I got my crown and Edith got her post put in. We had to wait awhile, this was the busiest we had seen it. I did not walk the beach as it rained all day. I got the web page finished up so it is complete to this part of the trip and sent out an e-mail notifying everyone. I made the .339 schedule and also found a good time for Voice of America and Armed Forces Radio on Shortwave so we now have plenty of sources of news. I also found weather for PV which is just 39 miles south of here, less by air and also radar and it looks like one more day of showers and by Sunday sunshine. I loaned Wally my battery charger. That is the nice thing here, if you don't have something you can find someone who has it.
If Edith's crown comes in from Tepic and she gets finished up on Thursday we will start our approximately 10 day trip on Friday morning. Late in the evening we got bad news from Eunice that Bruce has cancer in his kidney and it is an aggresive type so they are facing some decisions. We will continue to remember them in our prayers. I typed it out and brought it over to Phil and Sue.
February 5, 2005 Saturday- Still rainy and windy. We put up the awning. It did brighten up a bit and turned to sprinkles so we went to check out the flea market. It was very small due to all the rain where last year it had been huge. There were 3 from our park selling. Edith has been washing clothes by hand either here or over at the bungalow washing area. Everybody is getting bored with the rain and wind as many have small rigs and need to be outside. It cleared up toward evening and Dan and Sheryl our neighbors who have been gone from 10 days got back and several of us helped them unload. Dennis and Hazel and Hugh and Brenda left for Mazatlan. Dennis had trouble with having no dash lights. We could not trace were the feed wire came from so they left without fixing it. It rained hard after dark, Phil said we are going fishing tomorrow.
February 6, 2005 Sunday-It was not raining and partly cloudy but the waves were pretty high. I expected Phil to call it of be we went and Butch went. The rest that had planned on it did not. It was rough and we only got out about 16 miles and then headed east rather than north but it still was rough and I was soaked. I did catch a chula which is not a good eating fish that is in the Tuna family. It weighed about 8 pounds. Phil puts out 6 lines. He has two on outriggers which are the two I watched. Then two on the sides by Phil and two out of the back. When something is on we get all the lines in and then started getting the fish in. I got to rough and wet for Phil so we went toward the shore and it was better and the we changed lures and went to two lines and towed back to our bay and called it a day. Butch continued out farther and they got 3 El Dorado and 1 Wahoo. He had called Phil on the radio but we did not hear him. It did calm down some.
Phil has and arrangement where the boat can come off the front of his trailer so they roll it down the hill and it shoots into the water and if you hit the wave right it lifts right off the trailer which pretty much is what happened. We oared hard for a bit and got out far enough to stay out. Coming in he beached it and then they have a winch, which is a drum which they put on several turns of rope so they can hold it and as it pulls end they put the end coming of the pulley into a plastic garbage tub. The make a right angle with a stand in the center of the drive way putting a post into a hole with two brace legs and hook a pully to it and run the rope through it. The can use this to help pull the boat on the trailer along with the winch on the trailer. Once the boat is on the trailer they can use the rope and winch to pull the trailer off the beach and up through the gate. Everything needs to be washed off because of all the salt and the motor flushed from the hose of fresh water. They have a good fish cleaning table here. Phil has GPS with locations where they have had success marked and can use to navigate to them and navigate back. They have marine radio in a number of the motor homes and of course between boats. They annouce when they are coming in and they ring the bell can people come out to help people bring the boats back in and of course people are up in the morning to help people launch.
After we got back in I walked the beach. Unfortunately I now have a couple of blishers on my left foot which before had none and I have a chaff area on my right leg I think the salt aggravated it. Anyway my plan for toughing up my feet walking on the sand was working but now there are blisters so I will have to use duct tape on Wednesday. Hopefully I can get them healed up some before them. The right foot area of the blister seems to be healing, at least it is not as sore. I went to visit Eugene who hiked with us, he is in El Dorado and had a good visit with him. I got back about 4:15 pm and started watching the Super Bowl at Gorden's. There was a nice turn out and it was a good time. They ran out of food at half time but at least I got some. I have had way more to eat lately than I should so no problem.
February 7, 2005 Monday-We discussed our plans and decided I should see about getting a bridge for my missing front tooth. I drove down to the dentist and found he had one person in the chair when I looked into his room and he seen me so I waited as there was no one else waiting . When he got done he came out and seen me and we went into the office and I explained what I wanted. He took a look at me and told me it would cost 3600 peso's which was 600 more than Roger had said but then that was in the past. I also have an under bite so it is harder to get things correct. Anyway I asked him when and he said 12 noon today and I probably would have the bridge back from Tepic on possibly Thursday when Edith has her appointment or otherwise Friday. That sounded good as that would only put our trip back one day or if it would go to Monday that would be 3 days and if I needed any adjustment on the bridge it would give me time after we got back. We have now decided to leave on March 1st as it is going to get hot here. We will work our way north, check out a new campground a bit north of Mazatlan and see what the temperature is there. I suspect it will be warm there also unless a cool front comes through. If so we will go on north to Alamos and spend a few days. We then can go to San Carlos as it is not as warm there and check the weather at Moab, Utah and get into AZ around the middle of March and start working our way toward Moab, Utah. We like it in the upper 60's to mid-70's and if it cools down at night that is fine. The dental appointment went fine, I walked down and he was free so we started 10 minutes early. He deadened the area and it hurt very little as he did it so he is good. I was done by about 12:30 but sure did have the typical deadening symptoms. I walked home and my right foot really hurt. The duct tape I put on did its job for the blisters but I have a bruised area on my right foot just in front of the ball so I have been soaking it and I am just going to have to stay off it until it heals up so I may not be able to hike on Wednesday as it is sore to the touch, let alone pressure. The deadening was pretty well gone at 1:30pm but I did get a headache. With my sore foot I am just going to have to stay off it for awhile. We had a decent turn out at the evening social hour. It seems like we always learn some things about what is going on in the area or where things are at. I found out today there is a different way to La Penita where you take a swinging bridge across the river. We will have to check it out, maybe by driving until my foot gets better. I worked on my Spanish some and did some things on the computer in regards to the trip north.
February 8, 2005 Tuesday It was another nice day! I spent most of the morning trying to arrange going on a bus trip to Guadalajara. Wally and Barbara told us they were going but they took off on a bike ride so I asked around and found out who was organizing it in another park. I found where they lived and indeed they were the ones to talk to but they were gone so I left a note. About noon I checked back and they were home and indeed there was room left so I told them I had to get Edith's dental appointment changed. I drove down to the dentist and it was OK to move the appointment for Thursday to Friday so I went back and paid for the tour to Guadalajara. We leave at 7 am and go to a hotel, we are on our own on Wednesday and then Thursday the bus will take us to Tonala the world famous shopping market and then home about 8 or 9 pm. I walked the beach, went to the social hour and as always we find out some things.
February 9, 2005 Wednesday We left at 7 am on the bus and had a good trip to Guadalajara. The toll road cut off to Guadalajara part way to Tepic on Hwy 200 was a new road for us. It goes through some real mountains. It was definitely nice to be riding the bus into town. He really had some tough corners and narrow streets to get to the hotel. It was a so, so hotel, looked like about $50 for a double. We found out good news that we were close to the main down town area so we could walk. Edith and I took off and looked over some things and found the theatre was closed for remodeling. I used my Spanish and found out what building had for famous art in. We went there and found a tourist information booth and a lady who has been in Mexico for 31 years but was from Los Angeles. She gave us a map and some information and then told us at 2:30 pm she would give a tour if there were a few people. That was just a few minutes away so we waited but the others did not show but she was willing to do it for 200 peso's each which is a little high but we decided to do it. She soon picked up a couple of Canadian guys and that dropped the price to 150 peso's. She did a great job and it was over 2 hours long and we seen a lot of art, learned a lot of history about Mexico and seen lots of statues and plaza'a and zocolo's and the liberstad shopping area. After the tour we went through the shopping area and then walked around town and had supper at the Sirlon Stockade and then back to the hotel. It was a good day. We stayed at the Hotel Universio.
February 10. 2005 Thursday. We got up for a buffet breakfast at the hotel which was very good and had a nice visit with Wally and Barbara and some of the others on the trip. As far as I know all the rest were Canadians and a couple of Mexican couples. We headed off for Tonala and had 5 hours to shop. We got a little idea of the lay our from a couple of ladies and from Wally and Barbara who had been there before. We looked over most of it and ended up buy a frog, three vases, some glasses, and two baskets and some some glass pieces. The bus finally showed up and we found where it was parked so it was a mad dash from about l:30 pm on getting our stuff we had spotted bought and hauled to the bus. The three vases were the toughest as we had to go a long, long ways and my had went to sleep for carrying it. We took off a little before 3 pm and eventually went on the libre to Tequila and went to the factory so people who wanted could buy some. Even though the last tour was at 4 pm and it was about 4:45 they decided they would do a tour for us which all but 4 who had been on it before took. It was very interesting. The plant takes 8 or 9 years to mature and is a huge pineapple shaped plant after the leaves are cut off and it is taken out of the ground. They bring them in that way, ferment them and soak them using various chemicals to get the sugar out. They distill the sugar twice to get it clear and then age them in various tanks. The long aging is done in wooden tanks. The white has little aging, the red about 3 months and the aged up to one year. They also have a grade they use with Tequila mix to make Margararita's. We could sample the various types if we wanted. They then stopped down town for those that did not want to buy at the factory and we then headed for Rincon. It got dark on us but the driver was very careful. It took us 3 trips to haul Wally and Barbara and our stuff from the bus to our 5th wheel. It was real humid out and there is some sort of holdiday as the town was full of people.
February 11, 2005 Friday We got things put away from the Guadalajara trip and finished getting things ready for our circle trip south and east. I walked to the swinging bridge to La Penita and then over to the beach and back to our RV park. We went to our dentist appointment and found out Edith's crown and my bridge had not arrived from Tepic as they were behind in their work. In Spanish I managed to tell them we wanted to take this trip and got an appointment for when we will be back and we can have them fitted. If there are problems with the fitting we will just have to stay longer to get it finished up. We will likely get back early so if that happens I will likely go down and see if it is possible to move the appointment up or at least confirm that the crown and bridge are there. We then came back and loaded up the F-350 and then parked it in the other lot by the bungalows so in the morning all we have to do is carry a few things over there and we can be on our way. The plan is to sight see and make it to Melaque for the night and stay at a small hotel recommended by Vic here in the park. We could spend another day there if needed or head toward Ixtapa. We did all the shopping we need to do at Tonala so this trip is to see what the scenery is like so as far as tours, etc. we don't plan to do much other than the Monarch Butterfly Preserve.
February 12 2005 Saturday-We left the things for Wally and Barbara with Dan and hauled our remaining items to the F-350 and were off about 7:10 am. As usual on gets behind some slow trucks on the way to Puerta Vallarta but the 4 lane starts out quite aways so that really helped. Because of our previous trip to PV it was a snap driving through. The old part of PV with the homes on the side hill, looking out over the bay is toward the south end and is my favorite area. The hotel zone is on the north end of the bay and on the flat. South of PV the road is on the cliff and things are on a steep hillside above and below the road looking out over the ocean. The traffic was very light but we did spot a lot of Canadians. It seems like half of British Columbia is in Mexico. There are some petty rock formations in the Pacific. We then turned inland over the mountains and we left the tropical green to being drier and not as lush foliage. It was more cattle and eventually we got in a valley with both farming and cattle. This is on Hwy 200. We eventually got to the turn off to the Red Snapper RV which is at Playa Purula. Next was KM marker 64 at Chamela where you follow a coblestone road and go by the town and end up at a gate with a cable across and you can stay here for 30 peso's for a day and night but there are no facilities other than toilet, no water. You could get an Rv in here. All we seen were tents. I think the cost is the same and is for two persons. If it is longer than one night I think it might be cheaper. There is no English here but it is a beautiful spot and beach, not real large but being it is private there is lots of room. There are steps up to a palapa high above the ocean. The water is a wonderful blue and there are some rocks out in the ocean so it is very scenic and protected so the waves are not bad.
Next was Tenacafita where Lloyd and Mary Jane stayed. It is a decent beach, nice scenery out in the bay and not to big of waves. Down the beach appeared to be a hotel that they talked about. As you come in we went right at the ocean front. To get to the hotel you would need to go left. Lots of Cafes along the beach.
Next was Boca De Iguana. It is a nice long beach and there are two RV parks. They want 180 pesos a night and looked to have hookups but I am sure not great. For a month it is 3300 pesos so that would be reasonable. There is shade but it is hot here as you are parked a block or so from the ocean but nothing between you and the ocean other than a few low palapa.'s but I will say the parks were not real crowed. The problem is you are still about 20 miles from Melaque for supplies.
Next was La Manzanilla, a small beach town. A block before the ocean and right about a block are the biggest crocodiles I have seen, except there may of been some this big in Chobe NP in Botswana. There is a nice beach here and an RV park. It was 30 peso's for a tent and probably more for an RV. Someone comes around in the morning and collects. There did not appear to be any hookups. People probably run there gray water into the sand and hopefully not the blackwater. We skipped some Playa's because they road was not as good to them, they are not mentioned in the guide books much and don't have RV spots.
Next was Melaque.. If you take the first turn off into town coming from the north and get in say 1/4 mile watch to the right for a bridge going across a creek. There is a blue color building on the right side by the turn. Just across the creek take a left and follow the road basically straight ahead which will bring you to an RV park which is $1.00 a day but has no hookups. I think people dump into the sand which is not a good deal. There is a downtown RV park also but I think both are very full. There are also RV places in Barre De Navidad so hopefully one could pay for a night so one could dump about every two weeks if you could find room to get in and then be able to get back into the $1 a day area as it was full! Malaque has a great beach and is a nice quiet town. It is nice and safe here and food is very reasonable.
Barre De Navidad is more upscale and has some spendy hotels. It has big waves on the beach and it is steep so I would not call it a real great beach for being in the water. :Here is where the Spanish built ships to conquer the Philipines. They built them on the sand bars. Lots of people for both of these towns fly into Manzanillo and then take the bus or taxi up here and stay varying lengths of time. Some English is spoken here.
Back to Melaque, I spotted the Hotel Bahia near the ocean front about 1 block before the RV Park but as I mentioned earlier you go to the RV park the way I said as you can not get to it if you are on the left hand side of the creek other than by walking. The fellow their spoke perfect English. All he had left was a huge room on the ground floor with kitchen. There are top rooms that are smaller but have a great view of the ocean but everybody has access to an area on top ond can look out across the bay toward Barre De Navidad. You can enjoy a cold drink up there, or rest in a hamock or visit. We did not want the kitchen as it was 500 peso's but without using the kitchen he gave it to use for 300 peso's. It is called Hotel Bajia. I think for a week or month one could get a room like this with kitchen for about 300 peso's. Our friend Vic said there is a nice place for about this same money across from the downtown RV park on the ocean. To get there go to the second turn off coming from the north. It is a boulevard and after a few blocks you go by the zocolo on the left and when you get up to the ocean you can see it is a dead end ahead and you can see the RV Park.
We met several Canadians at our hotel and from nearby. We had a great visit with them and of course they all were from BC Canada. They fly down. One is leaving tomorrow and the other
couple in 11 days. One was from White Rock right across the border from Blaine so we have been by their town on the way to Vancouver Is. We enjoyed exchanging information on there and our travels. There is a toll road from here to Guadalajara so that would be the way to come here with an RV. The downside is that on holiday week ends it gets very crowded on the beach and in the hotels. Actually as I look at the map I think the toll road is on south and then through Colima. This road here I need more information if it would be OK for the RV or not. It still would be better than taking Hwy 200 all the way down the coast from north of PV. I will have to ask some more people and report later.
February 13, 2005 Sunday-First of all camping things we forgot a electric cheater to change 3 prong to 2 prong. A small outlet strip to plug things in. Should have a longer extension cord for some times. Lamp for cooking which means another extension cord to get it to the table and a light to hang in the tent. We do have the inverter as a backup to electricity. Smaller frying pan with a lid. We need a second lid and small dust pan and broomW
With being on central time it starts getting light about 7:30 am and we were on the road about 8 AM. Traffic was light in Manzanillo and we got some good pictures. We made a wrong turn because of poor signing. If you don't want to see the town use the cuota which by passes town. We wanted to see town so follow the signs on through town for centro and when you get quite aways north there is a navy camp ahead and a boat like statue and a sign toward Colima which you need too take to the left assuming you are headed in a southerly direction. Keep following the signs for the libre for Colima. The town on Hwy 200 Chamela, to the south also starts to be listed, watch out so you don't try and take the CUOTA back to Manzanillo. Just keep on toward Colima and finally there will be a sign saying Hwy 200 ti Chamela. When we got to Tecoman we missed the turn for Playa Azul and went to Playa Real. I think we missed it right when we came into town. Anyway one has to be very careful as it has to be tricky to see as we were watching hard. If you are veering to the right as you leave town you are on the wrong road. Hwy 200 widens out and is well identified right out of town so if you do not see this you are on the wrong road. South of here we met a pickup and all of the sudden his plastic bed liner came up out of the box and was about 30 feet in the air. I dodged to the right to avoid it but fortunately the wind took it away from me and into the ditch on his side. WOW! That could of done some damage. He noticed it as he came to a stop and way backing up.
Hwy 200 narrows at the Michocan border and that was our last state in Mexico. It is also very tropical like Colima. Lots of mountains and the coast line is a lot like the Oregon coast line with the rocks out in the Pacific and beautiful blue and tourquoise. It as a windy, hilly road, sometime on a cliff right over the ocean and many times one has to head back inland along side of a river valley, get up the canyon a long ways so you can cross and then head back toward the ocean. It is slow going and about 4 hours to Playa Azul. There is not much traffic and at about KM 199 is the last PEMEX for quite aways, maybe 150 miles, for sure a 100. There are no RV parks although one could probably pull into on of the small towns and park along the street. We met about 30 RV.s that were all spread out but were a caravan. They had a 10 inch square sign on the back with blue letters. I will have to see if I can figure out who they were. Vagabondos is a possibility. About 50 miles from Playa Azul the road straightens out a lot and eventually gets a bit wider. Going around Cardoza Cardines is slow as there are so many topes and you have to go away from the coast to cross the river and a dam and then head back to the coast. Now as you go south is a cuota up to Uruapan so we don't have to go back to Playa Azul like I thought so it will only be a total of 80 miles to go up to Ixtapa and Zihautaneto and back and the road is a lot better and not so many topes. We got to Ixtapa about 5pm and drove out to Club Med and then on the way back got some great pictures of the hotels, there is a huge golf course and of course tennis and a huge marina with many private boats. We also went to the beach which is wide and long so of the tourist towns in Mexico it is the longest beach. It is not on a busy street like CANCUN AND has just a fraction of the traffic as Cancun.
We went to the RV CAMP GROUND :Los Cabana which is in the Church's Mexican Camping book. It is only for vans, pickup campers and tents and only holds about six so not for 5th wheels or travel trailers AT ALL. We had to wait for about 45 minutes for the owner to show up. It is $5 per person so it will cost us $10. It has electric, bathrooms with flush toilets and seats and showers. We were able to borrow a cheater and outlet strip for tonight but are going to have to buy those items for the rest of this camping trip and also a lamp of some type. We have the fan along to keep cool as it is plenty hot here for sleeping. The bad part is by the time he came it was getting dark so there are a couple of lights but it still is hard to see setting up and we used the flashlight a lot. It sure is a lot nicer setting up in the daylight. Check out is 2 pm so we will go downtown, look around, see about buying a cheater for sure. Fortunately it is less than 200 miles to Uruapan and being mostly Cuota we should be able to make it in 5 hours. If we can get on the road by 11 am that would put us in at 4 pm and give us 3 hours to find the CG and get set up. I want to try and make the radio sked with CHRIS in the morning.
February 14, 2005 MONDAY Wa got up early and before 7 am as it is just getting light. We walked down to the beach It is a nice, long, wide beach and there are lots of places to stay and restaurants. We then packed up, made the 8 am radio schedule with Chris to be sure everything was ok. We then drove downtown to the melican and it is smaller and not as nice as the other beach but has the Plaza. We got directions to a Panaderia and got some rolls and learned a bit of Spanish. We also got a camera battery for Edith,s camera. In regards to the tourist spots we liked the looks of Ixtapa and one could go to Zihautanejo and I think get the most Mexican experience nearby to one of the resort towns. Zihautanejo has the tourist influence but it is is decent. One could just go there and stay for a fraction of the cost of Ixtapa. We left and got a great view and picture of Ixtapa. It is getting very hot and humid here, it would be better in January. We made good time to the new Cuota road to Morelia; actually it was not done for aways and there was no cost until we got up toward Uruapan and then was about $7.00 to get to the turn of for Patzcuaro. The lake with the Island and the town is quite noticeable so we took pictures. We got into the Poca Roza CG about 1 pm and got set up and headed for Santa Clara the copper place. In my opinion if you are looking for copper things this is the best place in the world. It is reasonable, we bought a good size bell for about $8. The melt down scrap copper and pound it out into everything. Some splicing with tin or bronze. Some items are painted, and protected with lacquer and polyurethane. We missed a turn and got into el centro Patzcauro which was not a good thing. There was the Dance of the Old being preformed at the main zocolo so the traffic was all jammed up. The street got narrower and we asked direction and were told staight ahead which was basically correct but you had to make a couple of small jogs and we did not catch them so asked more direction when we got to a dead end and had to turn around on a very narrow street, then into a dead end at a hotel lot but eventually found the highway. At Santa Clara we shopped at a hardward store and with my Spanish and some drawing got two cheaters and an extension cord. and found out where the copper shops were at Going back was easier but we did turn around once and then got our bearings. Back at camp the Advanture Caravan people were back. The people from Oregon next to us warned us about the Mosquitos which were bad. The told us how to get to the butterfly place and just how to do it as they just had been there. Absolutely fantastic info and also filled us in on the craft place to the north and things in Patzcuaro so we are set and will just operate out of this CG for two or three days. We have a picnic table and good room, only bad thing is the mosquitoes but there are worse at night.
February 15, 2005 Tuesday We decided to go to the Monarch Butterfly site near Angangueo today. Based on the great info we got from our Oregon friends we took off about 7:30 am and made the schedule with Chris AC0M mobile going down the road. Since I left a cable I have to have to get e mail with the radio I had him go to the Winlink site and check our e-mail and everything was OK. We missed the pedifedico at Morelia and going through centro we could not find the sign we needed. I notice the GPS and it appeared to show the cuota going north so we turned around and got on the divided street and made it fine. We then took the Cuota toward Mexico City and at Maravita we took the exit. You follow the signs for Ciudad Hidalgo but at one spot there is no signs, we asked and they said straight ahead and at the next corner there was a sign. Eventually you get to a sign for Angangueo and when you get there don't go to central but go ahead and on by town and keep going north on the oil probably another 15 miles. When you get to an arch over the road you turn to the left before that on a dirt road and there are some buildings ahead. You just follow the road about 5 miles and you will come to a parking area with buildings around, vehicles and likely some horses. This is the trail head. You have to pay but you can walk and you don't have to have a guide but you have to pay for the park. I would advise taking the horses. They are 100 peso's for round trip per person so it is well worth it. Eventually you have to leave the horse and walk but it is not that bad. They typically take you to an area that has a large bunches of Monarch's hanging. Today about 5 trees were just solid butterflies and then there were several other partially covered. Try and not arrive before afternoon so it is warmer and hope for a sunny, warm day as then they fly. We did not do bad as quite a few did fly when the sun came out from behind the cloud for awhile. It is quite a site. There were maybe 15 people there and we spent about an hour. We could of spent longer but the sun went behind the clouds and it looked like it was going to be covered for a long time and it was getting late enough we needed to go. We continued north to the Mexico cuota but that definitely was a mistake as it took it toward Mexico City and the road was bad so don't come this way unless you are coming from Mexico City and then I would be very difficult to find your way as it is poorly signed. We should of returned the way we came. It is definitely worthwhile taking Mexico Cuota and coming in from the north rather than libre and coming in from the south. Our friends took 6 ½ hours that way and 3 ½ hours the way we went. Be sure and do your best to take the pedifidico around Morelia. From Patzcuaro if you are at the El Pozo RV park take hwy 14 left out of the park rather than going south to the cuota. It is free and much shorter and takes you in not far south of Morelia.
If Sierra Chincua is closed then you can go to El Rosalia (SPELLING). I don't know how to do it so you would have to go downtown and get as guide or you can do it from Ocampo(SPELLING) which might be better. We got back at 6:05 pm. Our Oregon friends are still here much to our surprise but of course the Adventure Caravan is gone!
February 16. 2005 Wednesday I had a great scheddule with Chris AC0M, he got up to S-9+ 20
He chedked my E-mail and everything is fine. I just took the bug catcher off and left it in one piece and can put it on quickly in the morning. We le ft for the island Janitizo which is famous for its Day of the Dead which is celebrated the first few days of November. People come from all over the world. We got a b oat out of the town of Mulue(spelling) right next to the lake. Near the island 4 boats with fisherman use big nets to show how they catch fish so you can photography and then of course they want Peso's. At the island you can follow the steps to the top of the island to the statue of Father Morelos who is famous for his part in the Mexican revolution. You pay some peso's I believe it was 5 peso's each and you can climb to the tope of the statue. We then shopped at all the stores along the walk on the way down. We spent 2 hours on the island and I would say that is an absolute minimun. A half day would be about right. There is a tremendous selection of items from all over Mexico and reasonably priced. The island is in Lake Patzcuaro and you can see the small island with steep sides and white houses all the way around on the cliffs and of course the tall statue on top and it is usually lighted at ni8ght. They get water out of the lake which is very dirty and clean it for use on the island but of course not drinking.
Back on shore we went toward historical central and parked a few blocks away and walked in. We spent about 5 hours walking around. We tried to take the trolley tour but there were notl enough people and then at 5 pm when there was enough they said they had mechanical problems so we gave up because by this time we had walked the town. There are lots of spanish arches and buildings, several very old churches, two nice plaza's, many, many, many shops of every type and many, many artists selling their work. We would rank Patzcuaro and San Miguel De Allende as the two nicest towns we have seen in Mexico. From what we have been told by many people Oxaca (spelling) ranks right in there as well as Guanahuato (spelling). This would be a good town to spend 5-7 days here or get and apartment or if you have an RV stay in El Roso and spend a month of the winter here. One could stay on the west coast until it gets hot and humid and then come here for another month before heading north as it is cool here because of the high elevation. Here even in February it gets down to about 44 degrees at night but does warm up to the 70's during the day. If the sun is out it feels hot in the sun but if you get in the shade it is nice. The buildings have lots of rock and brick or adobe in them so they cool off at night and it does not get hot in them at all. There are scores and scores of beautiful courtyards. The thing about this town is there are not many tourists so it is very Mexican, much more so than San Miguel De Allende or Guanahauto! I can not speak for Oxaca as we have not been there BTW to the west of the big square is a slightly smaller and not quite as nice a square and to the north, northwest of it is a huge market with all sorts of things in it. It was Wednesday and part of it may only be a weekly market but I am sure muchy of it is open nearly everyday. It is great to order a cool drink or have a noon or evening meal on the main square with all the arches. We ate outside and it is wonderful!!! The prices are very reasonable about $5.50 per meal. Also watch for Panaderia's where wonderful rolls are one peso each or for about 90 cents you can b
buy 10 rolls, unbelieveable. The only downside is toward evening this time of the year the mosquitoes are bad. They are OK during the day and in the morning but at night they are bad. I don't know if this is true all winter or not. We met our neighbors and their friends from BC who just came last night to the RV park. We met a couple from NM where we ate at the Plaza and she knows Spanish so she helped me with a few words which was very nice. They agreed that Patzcuaro, San Miguel DE Allende and Oxaco are the three nicest towns in Mexico followed by Guanahauto so they see it the same as we do. Maybe we can fly to Mexico City and take the bus to Oxaco and San Christablo(spelling) which is not to far away. You can get very reasonable hotels and bus fares in Mexico. My old laptop accidently fell out of my bag and dropped about 2 feet. It hit the corner. Now it has about an 1/8' wide, white line from the top to the bottom of the sceen about 2 inches from the right side. It is a bit distracting but I can live with it as it is primarily my backup laptop.
February 16, 2005 Thursday.We said good bye to our friends from Oregon. I had a good, loud signal from Chris. His signal is always great, he checked my e-mail and no problems so things are good. We were on the road about 8:15 am and went north along the west side of Lake Patzcuaro and the towns there have lots of pottery and wood products. Many are very well pointed. We took Hwy 15 in a west and southwest direction. It is windy but well signed and a good tar mat. Even through the towns if you pay attention they are marked. At Zamora there is a pedifedico road before town that takes you around the southwest side of town and saves you a bunch of time. It is shown as a small yellow road on the Mexico atlas and is just before the road splits for El Centro andf Hwy 15 splits off. In one town the sign was badly faded and we had to drive to it and could just barely see it so we had to turn around but other than that we did well. The cuota going south to Colima and Manzanillo is good and we made great time. We took the cuota by pass for Manzanillo and it saves a bunch of time. We ended up back at Melaque about 5 pm so it was time to call it a day so we decide to stay at the same place. We stopped and got out and there was Gustav the manager of Paraiso which is east of the trailer park clear in the west end of town. It is by Hotel Bahia but is separate. Go through the gate on the west side and ask for Gustav. He speaks excellent English. We got the same room and since we were not using the kitchen we got it for 300 peso's again. The water is hot, lots of room and you can use the upstairs as I mentioned before. We had a great visit with our Canadian friends we met last time. They recommended AVA's for a steak It is run by a Canadian and it was the best steak I have had in Mexico. Back at our bungalow I walked over to the RV park and found it is 30 PESO'S a night or for nearly all they stay by the month for 700 peso's. They will dig a hole for the black water and will haul water for you. It is boondocking so one could get by with solar or in our case our battery bank or running the generator during the day. It actually is clay here so it should not leach to bad. It looks like a much better situation than I thought it was. Security is not a problem so it would be a good place to stay. The only problem is getting in as it is reallly full in Jan and past the middle of Feb as it starts to get hot and humid. There was nothing available last Saturday but now on Thursday there are three slots available and beach access iis right by you. Some early birds park just off the beach and those coming later end up a block or so away but not bad! The café prices are good and as I mentioned to conserve water you could take showers and use the toilets for a small fee very close by at the restaurants as they are set up so people can wash the salt off or come off the beach and use the bathrooms. Since you pay to use them they are decently clean. We have about 5 hours from here and likely an hour at SAM'S to get a few supplies. Btw apparently Wal-mart is trying to put in a store at Patzcaruo but as is typical there is some resistance. I see no problem with it as long as they stay away from the4 historical district which they would have to so they would have parking. We had another good visit with our Canadian friends. We have the fan and it is real decent in here but you can sure tell we left the high mountains and are on the sea coast. WOW! The shower felt good as it has been a couple of days and nothing much to unpack since we ate out and have a room. I got the antenna on for the morning schedule with Chris so that will be easy and some place up the road we can pull over and take it off so it is not bouncing around or hitting trees.
February 18, 2005 Friday We got up about 6:30 am and were on the road about 7 am and it was light but the sun was not up. We made a wrong turn coming out of town and had to come back as the road was signed Guadalajara which faked us out rather the Puerta Vallarta. Down the road a mile or so then there was a sign for Puerta Vallarta. We made good time, had a good schedule with AC0M and again good news as he checked our e-mail and no problems. Since we were not stopping and looking all the time like on the way down we made good time. The last 20 miles into PV is very hilly and lots of curves. We made it to SAM's Club just a bit after 11 am but when we cross over into Nayarit it will be an hour earlier. We helped some people out from SK as they had no SAM'S card so we paid for their items and they paid us back. We found out that at SAM's or WAL-Mart they do not change money but will let you pay with USA dollars and give you the change in PESO's but they will not take $100 bills. In the future we need to bring some Travelers Checks which require a passport to cash and bring $50 bills to get around the $100 bill thing. Apparently they are concerned about conterfeiting but if they only accepted the new bills I don't see what the problem would be. We then went to Wal-Mart and got a few things and headed north. We stopped at the bank in Buceries and got a 10.92 rate so in hindsight I should of done more money in Guadalajara but it is hard to know out ahead that far how much you will need. We are not sure when we will go to Mexico again so we don't want to end up with a lot extra but likely could get it converted back to dollars somewhere along the border.
I think the other answer is more money in Bank America who has banks in several countries where there is no charge to use the ATM at those banks. This is going to be important when we go to NZ and OZ; although it will really help their being able to use the credit card where here in Mexico one can virtually never use the credit card other than in the fly in tourist towns.
The first 20 miles north of PV is very hilly and lots of curves and there always seems to be some very slow trucks so it is a problem area.
We got into town about 1 pm and stopped by the dentist to let him know we were back and he was willing to do my bridge and Edith's crown right on the spot so we had it done. They are working out great. The total bill was $590.00 for a crown and a bridge of three teeth and Edith had a post put in and a crown. The crown was 1200 peso's, the crown and post was 1700 and the bridge was 3600. That is about 20% of USA prices. We got everything unloaded and had visits with the neighbors about the trip. The first thing we did was let Chris know we were back and our boys, etc. I could not do it right away as the wireless internet would not work. I asked around and found it had been encrypted and found the owners son who has put the system in. He was leaving in 6 hours so I was fortunate to get the encryption password in before he left. I found out he is putting in more routers and antenna's so the coverage will be better in a couple of weeks but we will be headed north by then. Wally and Barbara showed up from a bicycle ride and we had a great visit in regards to their extended Guadalajara trip and found the went to Chapala and vicinity and our trip. We put the rain fly of our tent out to dry, checked my Mom's account on the Internet and checked ours and got confused on the password and got locked out so that was disgusting. Passwords are sure neccessary but it sure can be tough keeping them all straight as different sites have different requirements and your notes are very cryptic to maintain the security so it just is a problem. I need to work on cleaning this up when I get home.
I checked and found the cable I forgot for Winlink E Mail on the road and just as I thought I checked but made a mistake and checked the wrong end and thought I had the correct one but did not. It was not to hot here today so hopefully that will continue. There is a potluck supper on Monday night so that will be nice. It looks like some others will be leaving the first part of March. Now that I have Internet going I need to get the web site up to the current time frame and work on my list of Spanish words and walk a lot to get ready for next Wednesdays hike when I hopefully can get some good pictures. There was a big rain here the next night after we left.
February 19, 2005 Saturday I helped Edna and Otto with their Copper Canyon planning and printed some things off the Internet. We had a family move in to camp next to us with a tent. They are from Guadalajara and needed help with getting air into their two air matresses as they did not bring the right attachment for their air pump. It was very hot so we convinced them to sit under our awning for awhile and we had a nice visit. Between his English and our Spanish. We also let them use our fan and extension cord as it was terribly hot in their tent. Eventually it cooled down and they all went to the beach or swimmng. Fortunately it cooled down so they had decent sleepng. The corner lot where they are at is a hot place as the sun hits it as there is no shade and no breeze. The next morning they brought some shrimp. In the evening we gathered at Clearance and Darlene with the computer and showed them, Otto and Edna and Wally and Barbara our Copper Canyon pictures off our website and then pictures from Guadalajara, our recent trip to the south and then the Grand Canyon hiking pictures. I walked the beach in the afternoon and had a good visit with Eugene at El Dorado and visited about our trip and found out about a free parking place at San Carlos. As you go in along the boulevard at the first retorno you go back and take the road toward the ocean and a hotel and there is a lot by the hotel on the beach where people park and all they want it for people to eat at the hotel from time to time.
February 20, 2005 Sunday-I tried to send Blake VE7DO an e-mail but I did not have the address correct. I worked on my Spanish and Felipe our neighbor from Guadalajara brought some camarones and fish over. We brought our small picnic table over for their breakfast so that worked good for them. I tried to contact Blake on the 11 a.m. schedule but I did not hear them. I was working on my Spanish outside and heard someone on the frequency mention Blake so I went in and sure enough another Canadian was talking to him so I broke in and managed to get his correct e-mail. I needed to add his first name. I sent him an e-mail seeing if they will still be at Mazatlan and if there is any room in the park. Edith walked the beach earlier and then I walked it and met Filipe and set it up to eat at about 3 pm. I got back and we got some vegetables and then they arrived and they showed us how to do a Mexican soup and how to make haucamoli. It was a good time and I learned to better understand Spanish, they and the kids are very, very nice. We looked at a few of our pictures from home and also our Africa pictures. Earlier in the day I visited with Otto and Edna about computers, digital camera's and printers. It was hot this morning but as the day went along it cooled down. Tomorrow night we have a pot luck supper in the park. Our friends from Guadalajara will be leaving Tuesday morning.
February 21, 2005 Monday-Today I brought the web page up to date and now will send out the third travelogue. I will probably do two more, one for the rest of Mexico and one for the trip in AZ and Utah. I can finish up the web page in Utah and have it ready to load when I get home and can send out the last travelogue from Utah so basically it will take no time at all when I get home. I helped Phil load his boat, it is on a trailer and is then raised and he can drive his car under it and pull the trailer behind his RV. Some of the people are getting their RV's painted so they are bringing them out of the park and then are going to leave. A lot of people are leaving March 2-5. Edith worked on getting things for the potluck tonight for Presidents Day and got the orange juice out of the oranges we had. We split them with Wally and Barbara. I had a good visit with Luz and his wife on the beach walking today, they are leaving for the Hot Springs on March 3rd by Guadalajara. Our friends from Guadalajara eat about mid-afternoon so I found talked to them and had them come over and get the food from yesterday so they would have something to eat. I got an e-mail from Blake VE7DO that the park was thinning out and that they would be there until April 3rd so we will go there for a few days and then on to Alamos and then San Carlos and then into the USA early on Easter Week. We had a nice potluck supper and sat with Wally and Barbara and found out they do sailing on a lake by there cabin. They also do some sking. The live at Vernon which is the same place Blake VE7DO lives. Starting tomorrow some of the people start to leave. Glen leaves and Otto and Edna pull out to have their rig painted and Phil and Sue do the same on Wednesday.
February 22, 2005 Tuesday-It was a quiet day. Otto and Edna left to have their rig painted so they came back with their tote and we visited with them and Clarence and Darlene. We went out once to see how the painting was going. Edith and I walked the beach and met a lot of people from our park and others I knew from hiking. Philipe and his family from Guadalajara all said good bye to us, they sure are nice people. We had a small but nice gathering on the waterfront. I sent out the third travelogue and notice the web page had been updated.
February 23, 2005 Wednesday-Today was hiking day. Claude who just moved into the park went with Wally and I. We had a good sized group. I stayed with the front group, Rick took it easy today and did some side hikes. I eventually feel behind the front group but they were still in sight. The second group feel a long ways back. It is definitely a challenging hike and it was hot today so we were all soaking wet from sweat. I fell back a ways for the final big hill. When I got to the resting spot on the the group was just leaving. I had to rest some going up the big hill. It took me 3 hours and 50 minutes assuming we left at 7:50 which is our normal starting time. It took the front group about 3 hours and 30 minutes so I ended up about 20 minutes behind them. The second group came in about 20 minutes after me and Claude and the last 4 came in just as we were leaving. One of the ladies was pretty shakey from exhaustion. As I said it is a tough hike. Back at the 5th Edith had been shopping and got some nice clothes. I rested and then visited with Clarence and went up to the waterfront for the social hour. There will be a park breakfast in the morning and we should go to the market and get a few things and I should get my tee shirts in the morning.
February 24, 2005 Thursday-We had a nice park breakfast and then went to the market in La Penita and got some vegetables and fruit. Back at the RV we walked downtown and I got 5 tee shirts for $3.25 each and got a cap with W0SD and Ed in embrodiary for about $9.00. I walked the beach farther to La Penita, went to the market street then found the swinging bridge back south and back to the beach so it was at least 4 miles. The rest of the day I studied Spanish and relaxed. We had a big gathering at 5 pm as 3 couples are leaving the park tomorrow. A bunch more will leave between March 1st and 8th. We will leave on March 2nd. I will miss the full time internet connection but it will soon be getting hot here but so far it has been partly cloudy during a lot of the day and cools down at night.
February 25, 2005 Friday Three people pulled their rigs out today and two left. Phil and Sue had their rig painted on the street and are leaving in the morning. I hiked up to the cross on the hill to the southeast and got some good pictures of the town. I then added my last pictures to the web site. I then worked on typing the daily Africa travelogue from the digital recorder and got it all done. I never dreamed I could do it in a big half day. It is all uploaded and a done deal. I visited with Clarence and Darlene about her web site. They came over this evening and we discussed it and had some cake and hot chocolate. It is raining but the forescast looks ok coming up. Tomorrow I will work on my Spanish as I am caught up on the Internet projects. Phil and Sue leave in the morning.
February 26, 2005 Saturday We got up early to say good bye to Phil and Sue. I noticed Phil did not have the electric cable for the trailer plugged in and it would of dragged on the ground plus not having lights and signals. I don't know if he has an indicator light if it is hooked up or not. Certainly a good case for checking brake lights and signal lights each day before traveling. We have been doing this for a long time now and it has caught a problem several times. We have a green light on the controller that indicates we are plugged in but does mean the lights or signals are working. I think used Darlenes bike and road over to La Penita with Clarence. We stopped at his neighbor in the Oasis park and discovered it was Pat who hikes with us. I found out they are spending some time at San Carlos at the free spot on the beach on the way out. We went to La Penita via the swinging bridge. Clarence got a Spanish/English Dictionary and Pat got money and some food items. On the way back Pat's chain came off and wedged so we went to Martin's Bike shop and he got it fixed so we had a nice visit with him. They is going to be a big bike ride tomorrow. It started to rain and we went back on the highway and go soaked and dirty as the back wheel of the bike had no fender. I had to take a shower. I then discovered that Wally had gotten air tennis shoes last year for $30. We went downtown but they did not have any. Toward evening we took the F-350 to La Penita and there were three shoe places but they did not have what I want and only one had sizes above 10. Wally uses a size 10 so his chances were better. I should of been looking in Guadalajara where there were all kinds of shoe stores. Again a lesson learned that one needs to be thinking ahead of what you want to get done in Mexico that is a good deal. I will try in Mazatlan or other towns as we head north. It was cool but a decent turn out for the social hour. I visited with Butch and Dixie about their NZ/OZ trip. It turned out to be an RV Caravan trip which lasted 2 months. The did ride in the ocean and up a river in a bus. They had smaller RV's with diesel motors. They said it is tricky driving on the left side of the road and you really have to pay attention. They flew to the outback and got a different RV there. I spent some time looking at the NZ and OZ map on the computer and worked on my Spanish.
February 27, 2005 Sunday It was a beautiful Sunny day. I got the information from Clarence for his bicycle carrier on the front of the 5th wheel. We visited with Felipe who works at the park about updates to the park for next year. Supposedly new sewer, electric and water. I studied my Spanish and checked if Eugene was home in the El Dorado park but he was gone. I walked the beach and decided to check the cross out up close on the rock wall and in the process slipped on a washed out place up on top and instantly fell and scratched up the side of my right leg by me knee and my elbow. I cleaned it up when I got home and put on antibiotics and it is coming along well. I checked on some things on the Internet for Clarence. Late in the day Eugene was home so I had a good visit with him and his wife and said good bye. Coming back in I found out from Ralph that Butch wondered if I wanted to go fishing tomorrow which I immediately said yet to. That is very nice of them to invite me, I really appreciate it. I will pay for the gas and they have the fishing gear so this is just great. The weather looks fine for tomorrow so it will be neat to go out to where they normally fish as Phil and I only got out a little ways and the fishing just is not good in the bay here. When we get back in it will just take me a little time to get ready to go on Tuesday or if need be we will go back to the original plan and get out by checkout time and stay at Pemex. We had a good time visiting at the social hour. We always seem to learn several things there about the area, the various RV parks, fishing, where people have been and much more.
February 28, 2005 Monday We have been here 5 weeks and one day so that would be 36 days and in Mexico since January 10th or 50 days so far. It looks like it will be about 70 days again this year in Mexico like last year. It was mentioned tonight that the Easter celebration starts the preceding week end which I had forgotten so that means we should be out of San Carlos on Friday morning, March 18th. That will be fine as that will give us more time to tour the things we want to see in AZ and Utah and go over to the Great Basin National Park and spend time around Moab, UT. It is running in the upper 50's in Moab now so give it another 21 days and it should be getting into the upper 60's and get into the mid 30's at night so we should be OK. This should give us a good 2 weeks around Moab so that should be adequate.
I got up about 5:30 am to go fishing. I got out about 6:10 am and we were off by 6:20. It was plenty rough but not as bad as it was with Phil and I think this boat handles the rough water a bit better at least side to side. We went out the about 20 miles and fished hard, changing lures and going where the birds were picking up bait fish as often the big fish are driving the bait fish up and the birds see them. Finally about 11:30 am we had a hit. It was on the rod right by me so I got a chance to bring it in. It was not long and I seen it, a Dorado, which was a bright green color. I got it up to the boat but it made another run and got it up again and Butch netted it. As with Phil we seen some bottles marking some palm branches below the water. The Mexicans do this to attract fish. We seen a couple of flashes by the birds and bait fish but no more hits. We got in about 2 pm and got some nice pictures. I helped clean things up as the salt needs to be washed off everything and the motor rinsed out. Butch cleaned the fish and Butch asked if I would give some to the fellows that had went with Kudo before and caught nothing so at least they could have a good fish meal. They appreciated it and I sure was happy to do it. It sure was very, very nice of Butch and Ralph to ask me to go fishing! I really appreciated it a lot. It was a great experience to go way out and see how they do it! It was great catching such a nice fish as well, about 16 pounds. Clarence and Pat got a tire fixed and propane today so they got us some as well. We walked the beach with Clarence and Darlene and got a address card from Barbara and Wally and gave them ours! We had a nice social hour. It was interesting yesterday to hear about if an area does not vote for the Presidential candidate that wins then they don't get much money from the government for the next 6 years. We talked to the people about moving their vehicles about 8:30 am so we can pull out in the morning.
March 1, 2005 Tuesday We got up and packed up to go, that went smoothly and by 8 am we were ready and everybody had moved their vehicles. I made a trip around the park and said goodbye to everybody. We won't be back next year for sure as we hope to make a big trip to NZ/OZ. We met a lot of nice people but because we were close together we got to know
Barbara and Wally really well and we hiked together. They were sure fun people. The same goes for Clarence and Darlene and Otto and Edna who left over a week ago to go to the Copper Canyon. Hopefully we will see Clarence and Darlene at San Carlos. We certainly got to know a number of others well and really appreciated what Phil and Sue did for us, taking me fishing, going out to supper a couple of times and lots of other information. Also to Butch and Ralph for taking me fishing. Everybody in the park were very nice to us and very helpful. We are most appreciative of all of them! The had some nice park gatherings also. Maybe in a couple of years we can come back; although it is getting full and tough to get in without a reservation a year ahead of time. We pulled out easily enough as we had lots of people watching. We got out to the corner and I seen Eugene's Class C by the mechanico shop so I stopped as it looked like he must be having trouble. Well he had knocked the mirror off coming out the gate and they were going to be able to put it back on. They were glad we stopped. They are coming to Marzatlan and then Yuma. We might bump into them here but there are down town and we are out north. We decided to go via San Blas even though there are lots of topes. When we got to the second turn for TEPIC just east of San Blas I realized based on what Eugene said we should be taking it rather than going to the edge of San Blas and going north. Either way will work but the road is not nearly as good Eugene said. We headed east and it was the correct road but I was looking at the GPS and turned north and should of keep going east to Hwy 15. It was not out of the way but the road was not as good. Anyway nothing hurt and we have it well marked on the map. There are lots of topes this way to San Blas and I think with a self leveling Class A it could be aggrevating. With our 5th wheel it was not a problem. Some are not well marked but we spotted them all. The advantage is the traffic is very, very light. There was hardly ever anyone behind me. It does have some chuck holes and is narrow but certainly not all that bad for Mexico. The other big advantage is there are not nearly the curves and hills like taking Hwy 200 to Tepic. There you are going to get behind some trucks just crawling along and/or you are going to have a huge line up behind you. For my taste I would go the San Blas route but to each his own. Even coming in down the hill it is tough on breaks, we helped it a lot by shifting down to low a lot. We also got behind some slow trucks for a long ways.
Hwy 15 has a lot of chuck holes for quite aways. There is an inspection for fruit going into Sinaloa so beware of that or you will lose it. Not being a week end the traffic seemed a lot less than coming down and we never got cars stacked behind us for very long. We pulled off and had dinner and checked our E-mail and sent our location. We took the toll as we wanted to get into Mazatlan early in the afternoon and I was getting tired of all the chuck holes. It was 133 pesos so it was expensive as it is only about 60 miles of toll road and it is just two lanes but big shoulders and a good road and virtually no traffic so it was worth it. We took the libre in 2002 and it is not bad but you have one town that is long and the streets very narrow and that takes a lot of time. The rest you move along pretty good. We got through Mazatlan in fine shape and had to take the libre north rather than the Cuota to get to the road to the Playa Escondido RV park without driving through a lot of Mazatlan which works good for us. We talked to some Canadian and found a site someone just pulled out of this morning so we know the hook ups are good and there are a lot that do not work in this park. It is $15 a night if you stay a week so that is what we are going to do. I got our e-mail with the radio and sent our location. Blake VE7DO showed up and he explained there is some fellows that do body work and painting in the park and if the dents are bigger you have to take it to the body shop but they do the painting here. I talked to them and they are going to take a look at it in the morning at 9 am. Blake had some work done and was satisfied. I made the .339 gathering and talked to Doug and Bob with good signals. They said Jack is home and everybody is doing fine.
March 2, 2005 Wednesday-It was a cool night in the 60's. It rained and sprinkled on and off most of the day but did got to partly cloudy about 4 pm. At 9 am I brought the F-350 over to the paint and body shop and found out I was going to have to take it to Juan's dads body shop which is over on the east side of town. He sent a worker with me to guide me. His dad could speak some English. Anyway he bid the 3 dents separately. The front fender which had the most noticeable dent happened in Maine when backing in I hit a tree. It was 900 peso's to fix it. The dent on the back from Florida and a sign at Carmichels was 600 pesos. It is by the bumper on the right rear fender. The third on is the box side on top which happened in Alaska and the big one about 1.5 feet from the tail gate happened on the way down. Both are from the 5th wheel hitting the box. They will have to take the plastic off, straighten it and paint it as the paint is cracked and then put the plastic back on. I don't know if they will straighten the one from Alaska or not and if they will try and fix the plastic that protects the top of the box side. If they don't then I will use epoxy on it and sand it down and paint it and it should look pretty decent. This was 1300 peso's so the total was 2800 pesos which comes out to $255.00 which is a great deal and they do a good job of matching the color according everybody in the park. I left it and he took us to the main street and my guide got us on the bus and we went back to the RV park. I went and talked to his son to be sure he would give me a ride down on Friday so I can pick it up as it is supposed to be done by 5 pm on Friday. I did some walking in the park and e-mail. Blake and his wife Lori was gone most of the day. They got home around 4 pm so I went over with my list of questions and got great answers. They have been here for about 10 years so they know the town well. He gave me a map with the bus routes and he has a Mazatlan city map with stores on as to where to buy things. He confirmed that the water here needs filtering as it has a lot of clay in it and it will get in your tank so I need to look at getting a filter.
March 3, 2005 Thursday Last night I talked with Bruce KD7RHG who was a wagon master for Adventure Caravans. He got Dick Ward and Denny Martinsen into amateur radio. He was in the back part of the park where the Caravans have spots. I talked to Chris AC0M this morning, he was the only signal on the band. I got e-mails from Lynn on the water filter and also Chris so it appears around $35 is a good price. We heard from Wally and Barbara which was nice and they asked which way we went, via San Blas or Hwy 200 to Tepic so I gave them information on the San Blas route which we took.
Blake stopped by and proposed we go to the Internet places and try hooking up his computer and then he would take me to the water filter place and to get the F-350. I need to find out when the body shop closes from young Juan here in the park. They are going to Stone Island today. We caught the bus and spent most of the day in Mazatlan. First in old Mazatlan and the mercado, then hunting for tennis shoes with air. Edith got a great pair for $20 but they did not have sizes over 10 so with 11 ½ I did not find any cheap ones. A few sports stores had my size but they cost as much or more as the USA at $90 to $100 plus. We took a different bus route and got to the Grand Plaza and then SAMS in good shape. We then walked up to the malacon and had ice cream at McDonalds and then walked north to find a place to change money. The best was 10.88 so the dollar is a bit weaker. Again we found SAMS will not take $100 bills but would take $50 bills which we don't have any so next time we travel we will only take $20 and $50 bills. We then caught the bus back to the park. We bought the stuff for haucamoli so Edith made some and it turned out great. We had our back packs for groceries and that worked out great. We now are set for food and when we get to Sonora we will get more fruit and vegetables. We got an e-mail from Curt, sit outside and enjoyed a much better day than yesterday but it still is cool, in the low 70's. I had young Juan come over from his shop in the park and look at the damage we got last year in Mexico on the slide side. He will fix it for 300 peso's or about $27 so I told him to go ahead. I think they will be over tomorrow to do it. I also found out his dad's shop closes at 6 pm tomorrow so if we are a bit late for 5 pm they still will be open. There is a Pemex station to the east from McDonalds. We also seen the 3 RV parks in the downtown area so we are familiar with them. Two of them are just east of McDonalds and one is north on the Melacon. I spent some time studying Spanish. I had a good chat with the fellows on .339 tonight so the bands are much better than yesterday.
March 4, 2005 Friday- I had a bit of an upset stomach during the night, maybe to much haucamoli. Anyway not to bad. I checked some things on the computer in regards to using LAN in preparation to helping Blake. I went over and seen his telephone connection programs and found out he uses Windows 2000 which I use on one computer. We took a walk on the beach and Edith got some fruit and Vegetables from a truck that came through the park. I worked on my Spanish and did e-mail and had dinner. At 2 pm Blake and I headed down town. At the first internet place we found out it cost 2.2 times as much if you are using a phone program because of the wider bandwith. At the next place the charge was the same but we keep getting a message we were not connected to the internet but the browser seemed to be working. We left and a few blocks down the street I told Blake we should of tried some other sites as the ones we seen may of just been in his history and were from the computer and not the internet. We decided to go to another place he wanted to check out that was cheaper. Sure enough I tried my website and could not connect so we really were not on the internet. The owner showed up and he could not get the LAN working as he was doing the same stuff I was trying. I told Blake I deleted my dial up icons but did not know if that was necessary. Anyway in visiting with him, mainly in Spanish we decided to delete the dial up connections and then run the internet wizard connection wizard again and then my site came up and then Blake made some calls with his phone programs, some to Canada, USA and one to his daughter in Australia. He can go computer to computer or go from computer, Internet to their phone.
Next we went to the plumbing shop and got a water filter and necessary fittings to filter the clay out of the water here at the park. It was a busy place and they seemed terribly unorganized but eventurally I got the stuff. I ended up paying about $7 more than I wanted. Anyway I don't thing I paid more than I would in the USA so it is OK. We then went to the body shop and my pickup was done and looked great. They got all three problem areas fixed and the paint job was great. I have some cracked plastic on the top of the edge of the box when the worst dent was made so I will have to see what a new one costs when I get home. If it is to expensive I will try and epoy the cracks, sand the epoxy and paint it. Anyway it was a great saving over what it would of cost me, at $255 much less than my deductible and does not go on my insurance as a claim so that is very good. I got diesel and drove careful as I sure don't want a dent. Back at the 5th we got the water filter going. They did not have fitting so I may change things around when we get near a big store in the USA. Anyway now we can fill our tank without getting clay into it. I will have to decide what filters to get for future use.
Blake asked my to come over and get their dial up connection going after supper. They did not know what the username and password were so I was stuck and it was wiped off the computer. I tried calling but they were closed. Then I noticed it on the back of the business card and got it going but got and error message they said they get a lot and they had the secondary number but not the primary so tomorrow we will need to get the primary number and see if it will work. It sure sounds like it is connecting. Now to figure out how to switch from using LAN to dial up easily for them. Tomorrow I have to see when they are coming to work on the scratch on the 5th wheel.
March 5, 2005 Saturday It was a nice day in the 70's. There are more bugs and we got some bites last evening and itched some during the night. I think they are either sand fleas or no see ums. Blake had the same problem. I talked to young Juan and reminded him he needed to get our RV fixed as we would be leaving. They got to it this afternoon. It is not as good a job as the pickup but for $27.00 it is a whole lot better than it was. Actually if you don't know where to look you would not notice it. They reduced the size of the decal and it looks OK. I helped Blake with his computer and got the dial up going again. His computer later on did not want to boot up. It seemed to be stuck in standby. I finally got it shut off as there seemed to be a master switch. Anyway I finally got it to boot up and IE did not want to load so some files must of gotten corrupted on the shortcut link. Anyway found the program exe file and it loaded. Blacke and I walked north about 3 miles round trip. We went downtown to the internet café for broadband to talk to his daughter with the phone program and it worked great. It found the LAN all on its own, automatically so that is good as his dial up setting stayed intact. Hopefully the IE problem will not get worse. I also put up the 20 meter dipole at about 35 feet, that went well. Tonight signals were good on the .339 schedule. I sent our son Curt and e-mail to his cell phone to look for me on .339 and got a reply and talked to him tonight. We will try again tomorrow night. At the Internet café I hooked my newer laptop to the LAN and it went right on the Internet automatically and I downloaded 152 messages in less than a minute. I was glad that worked as I can do that in the future and should be able to do that in NZ/OZ. I had a few messages from people who did not realixe they need to use winlink when we travel. We found out our neighbor Roger Reif died after a simple operation but don't know why but would suspect a blood clot. He was only 67 years old. Edith made bread today and it turned out real well. Edith is going to walk the beach tomorrow and I will go over to Blake for his schedule back home and work on my Spanish. Talked to Jack from ON who just parked near by and learned the frame on the front of his 5th wheel broke and he told me about the symptoms of that so I have made good metal notes about that. Basically if things start to shift where the king pin is beware!
We have the things we want done so we will be ready to take of early Tuesday morning for Alamos. We will get some potatoes on Monday. Once we get into Sonara we can get more fruits and vegetables. Blakes son and another fellow we talked with today have had problems with not turning in their vehicle permit which shows again the importance of getting a reciept when you leave that you can carry with you if you return to Mexico to prove you did in fact turn in the permit and took the vehicle back out of Mexico.
March 6, 2005 Sunday I ran and Blake rode his bicycle for a couple of miles. I was pleased with my condition. I checked the oil on the F-350 and did e-mail. At 11:30 am I went over to Blackes and listened to his schedule back to BC. Mel VE7STR was on who got me Blakes e-mail address a couple of weeks ago. At 2 pm we went down the to Internet café and found out that Blake had the wrong prefix in SKYPE so we corrected those and made calls to the USA and Canada so the program works all over. That is good as it is the cheapest at 2.8 cents a minute. We also downloaded firefox so he has a second browser on his computer. Something is messed up on the desktop icon link to IE. If you go to Windows Explorer and IE there it works. It was a nice day in the high 70's and nice and sunny. In the shade it even seems a bit cool. More people are packed up to pull out in the morning. We will get ready ourselves tomorrow as we have 370 miles to get to Alamos so it will be a long day but most of it will be toll road so we can make a lot better time as we can go faster, it is safer and mainly we get rid of slowing up for towns and for topes. A bicycle was stolen two nights ago in the park so of all the places we have been in Mexico this has the biggest theft problem. You definitely can not leave items like this out unless they are securely chained with a big chain. Smaller items like chairs, tables, etc. they don't bother. Bicycles seem to be the main target.
March 7, 2005 Monday I walked about 1.5 miles down the beach and then back. We got some vegetables and fruit for a fellow going through the park. Several left early this morning but about the same amount came in from the south today. Blake had a bad headache today. I did some work on the computer, charged batteries and that sort of thing. I talked to AC0M this morning with loud signals. This afternoon I walked about 4 miles. Blake was feeling better so we had a visit. We got things packed up and ready to leave in the morning so all we will have to do is start up and pull out so we should not disturb people much. I got a picture of Blake and his antenna. He invited us to Vernon if we get that way. Tomorrow we head for Alamos.
March 8, 2005 Tuesday We were off at exactly 6 am. We made good time, The toll roads; expecially the Maxi-Pista north of Mazatlan is expensive. The first toll was 180 peso's and the second was 213 peso's. They are less after that but still form 60 to 108 peso's. Last year I could often figure out from the sign what it was going to be, but this year I can not. We had no troubles and only once did we get stopped and the looked in the trailer. One tricky one was in Sinaloa they stopped us and checked for fruit and it was not the border. I suspect is was between a region so when you are in Sinaloa you always run the risk of having your fruit taken away. It don't think they will bother it if you have it juiced or ground up and frozen.
We got into Navojoa about 1 pm and got some oranges and headed east. The road is supposed to be redone but that has not happened yet. There are a bunch of bad potholes in it so one has to go slow and try and dodge them. The traffic was very light. We got into the trailer park a little after 2 pm. It had Adventure Caravan down below and up top there were two places left. So it is good we got here early. Others came later and they pu t them in an over-flow area with no hook ups. Edith processed the oranges and we are now set with orange juice. After supper we walked down town and it was far, far better than I expected. Definitely colonial and it looks like restoration work is continuing. Lots of arches, a old church, two nice plaza's. We will go back tomorrow and get some pictures and look around in detail. There also appears to be a lookout. I have line noise here so e-mail is going to be difficult.
March 9, 2005 Wednesday
Alamos which means Cottonwood Trees has to rank high on a list of places to see in Mexico. Earlier we gave a strong recommendation for Patzcuaro and I will have to say that Alamos is much more colonial than Patzcuaro. In fact you can make a strong case that it is the most colonial town in Mexico. I believe we have seen them all. San Miguel De Allende is more popular as it is larger and has several beautiful churches. We have also seen Guataujato, El Fuerte and Zacatecas Let us tell you about Alamos. In 1946 a fellow from Pennsylvania visited Alamos and then others, artists and prospectors came and the word slowly got out about a lost Colonial Mining town in the foot hills of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains called Alamos.
Coronado visited here in 1531 but it remained a sleepy Indian town until 1683 when Silver was discovered. By 1731 the town had reached a population of 30,000. By the mid 1800's it became the capital of Occidental which was a new state created by Spain which covered most of Northwest Mexico. It was the wealthiest city in Sonora and attracted immigrants from all over the world but especially the Pacific with many from China and Japan coming here to work in the mines and set up other businesses. In 1916 they were expelled as part of the revolution because they had to much economic power. Many fled to the mountains and eventually returned and have married and are of course mestizos (mixed blood).
There were 46 silver mines in the area and some gold was found as well. From 1910-20 revolutions by Indian mine workers, the revolution in Mexico and the fact that the silver was mined out the town suddenly declined rapidly in population and the wealthy people left. There are many stories of the wealth and the size of the Hacienda's. One of the more interesting is that the family west of the church had silver bars laid down so they could walk to church on a silver walk way for a day.
Today about 150 families from the USA have homes here and about 50 Canadians. Some Canadians have bought a lot of the old silver mines but until silver becomes worth more activity has stopped. The population was about 6000 but is now closer to 10,000. Alamos like San Miguel De Allende has building committees that have to approve all construction so it is restored as original and some sites such as the church are historical and have to be left as is other than things to preserve it. The reason the town is so colonial is because of the influence of the USA and Canadians. Although most only live here 2 - 4 months in the winter but the difference here is that they want it to remain like it was. Most of them learn Spanish and support all sorts of local activities. It is through this outside money that so much has been restored here and it is still going on in a big way. You can buy a property for $20,000 that might cover a 1/2 of a square block but it may cost you $200,000 to restore. Still by standards in most places in the USA this seems like a good deal to me. One drawback is property rights of foreigners or for that matter Mexicans is always a bit up in the air. Bing Crosey, Archie Bunkers(can't think of his real name) Mickey Mantel and other famous people have owned homes and lived here. The president of Hersey Candy has a beautiful place here. One restored probably will by $250.000 to $500,000.
There are two plaza's or zocolo's here. The one is more of a working one and the other is by the church and is social in nature. Every Sunday morning there is an open air market. On Sunday evening the band plays in the center in a gazebo and there is a prominade. The boys go one way and the girls go the other way. There is church all the time but on Sunday the custom is for man, women, boys and girls to sit in certain rows, of course everyone is Catholic.
The best Taco stand according to locals is one the north side of the working plaza and is the last one to the west. This could of course change. A secret is to just stand back awhile and observe which one the locals are going to and how they seem to be on cleaning up. They are not going to be wearing plastic gloves but it things are hot, and the hygiene looks decent you should be OK. We had no problems but then we have been in Mexico for a long time so I suppose we have some immunity built up. As a first timer I would recommend beef! Goat, etc. takes a bit of getting used to. BTW they have all kinds of topping to put on the Taco's. East of this plaza is the market where you can buy most anything. We did look at some eggs in a carton and in opening the carton cockroaches came running out, racing for cover. Don't get me wrong the market was clean, the meat markets were the best I have seen and the streets are as clean here as anyplace we have been but termites and cockroaches in the mild climate are a problem. It does get cool here at night during the winter and even in the hot summer, it rains in the afternoon and is cool at night.
I walked to the mirador, overlooking town and got some nice pictures. You can drive there. I hike down a path which you can also hike up. It starts from the river bed a bit north of the lookout. Follow the signs for the restaurante, Los Sabinos and right by the left side is a small trail heading up the side of the hill and will take you to the top. If you can't find it, hike to the top via the road and come down this way. It is a fantastic view and shows you how colonial the town is. Another proof of how colonial it is can be found by seeing old pictures from the 1800's in the Museum which is open Wednesday through Sunday.
We would recommend going to the Plaza De Armas and on the west side look for a sign that says Tourist Information and ask for Candy Joe(Jose Trinidar). He really is famous as a guide, good English and very funny, seller of Mexican Jumping beans which he mainly sells to Europe and he does some real estate work as well. The main source of income is sesame seeds, then Jumping Beans, tourists and other things are agriculture, mainly cattle, Calcium mining and some pottery. You can arrange for a walking tour and you get to go into some of the homes. This is what is really special about colonial style and here more than anywhere we have been there are huge court yards surround by the wall and living area. The court yards has all sorts of trees, flowers, plants, pools, fountains, etc. Under the balconies are long porch like areas to sit, dine, they have many painting and other things of interest. These places are amazingly cool when it is blazing hot out. On Saturday there are tours of some restored homes. It would be well worth doing this if you are here on Saturday. In fact if you could time your visit for say Friday, Saturday and Sunday that would be ideal. There are several RV parks. The close one is Dolisa where you can easily walk downtown. However all the rest would be fine as you can easily drive into town and park. The books tend to say you can't but you can as there do not seem to be any crime here so you can park on the street, well actually that is the only place to park in Alamos. There is also a park on the other side of town. You go to the downtown PEMEX, go around the circulation monument and head across a large street watching for traffic and head north to the river bed and there is a wide, good gravel road going east. You can follow the directions of Church's Mexican Camping book or the Camping Guide that is on the Internet.
Back to the jumping beans, if you want to see the trees that produce them they are next to the mirador railing on the northwest corner along the west side. They produce beans in October-November. The beans get a worm in them that stays alive for about 6 months and its movement causes the beans to quite actively move around, hence the name Mexican Jumping Bean. They are only found in a 400 square mile area around Alamos and are a source of income for the locals. Candy Joe is one of the leaders in this export business. Locals often put the beans in a circle and bet on which bean is going to be the first one out of the circle.
Just west of the northwest corner of the Plaza De Armas is a one way street coming to the plaza. Just a few doors down on the south side is an Internet place. This is the fastest connection I have ever used outside the USA bar none. It was just blazing fast!!! It was 10 peso's per hour.
El Carcel is the jail and is interesting to tour. Ask Candy Joe for directions on the street to hike up the jail. This was the best view in town before the Mirador was completed. The road to the Mirador that you turn of off goes to El Fuerte but be sure to check on its condition in respect to recent rains. IT IS ONLY FOR 4 x 4 and people with experience and equipment to tackle bad roads. Two vehicles with winches would be idea but Candy Joe said I would have no trouble with my F-350 4 x 4. A tougher road goes on by the airport and eventually goes to Bahuichivo which is on the Copper Canyon Railroad. This would be a great adventure! BTW Candy Joe has that nickname because he always carries candy and gives it to kids, pets and of course eats some himself. He speaks excellent English and spent 5 years after high school in the Phoenix area going to school taking English courses and working.
Joe will take you to where the best mines sites were and also to a place where they make pottery. The pottery place is signed west of town and you can go on your own. The mine slag pile you can see on your own as it is about 6 miles west at Mina Nuevo. There is a crafts market by the church, lots of good eating places, lots of nice hotels, a couple of bed and breakfasts, leather and saddle shops, cell phones for Mexico work, two new PEMEX stations west of town. The road from Navojoa is full of pot holes. It takes a hour plus to get here from Navojoa. It is supposed to be rebuild but Candy Joe said this is Mexico, don't count on it. There is a nearby town with a nice church I am told but we did not see it. There is the story of a vision that is told that happened at this site. There is a bank and it will change dollars to Peso's and they have an ATM machine. We had no trouble here but it is wise to not have $100 bills, have $50 and $20 bills. Many places in Mexico will not take $100 bills because of fear of counterfeiting. I think given the new bills this is unfounded by it is true. Walmart and Sam's, Costco and many banks will not take $100 bills. In Sinaloa and Sanora and I belive Chihuahua the toll road booths will take $20 bills or less. You will get the change in Peso's but they give a good, fair rate of exchange.
This town is very Spanish and as I said earlier most Americans and Canadians that live here speak Spanish so the locals speak Spanish so don't expect English. However you can get by fine with gestures, having them write the price of things down or show the price on a calculator. It is laid back, perfectly safe to walk down town and back in the evening and it is fun to see the social life around the plaza. Most of the stores close up around dark or shortly there after so for shopping you should do it in the day time. Typically things don't get moving in Mexico until 9 or 10 am and that is true here as well. Most stores do stay open in the afternoon and do not close say from 2-4 pm.
March 10, 2005 Thursday We were on the road before 8 am and had a good day of travel. The road from Alamos to Navojoa had many potholes so we went about 40 mph, tops. Highway 15 going north is pretty much all toll. South of Obregon we went through a farmers field for 10 + 5 peso's. It was pretty rough but problably saved 100 peso's. There is a Walmart in Obregon right by the road. You can take the libre and possible miss a lot of the town but it had nice wide streets so was no problem. We went through Guymas which really is pretty easy as long as you watch the signs. East of town the road did have a lot of potholes. We should miss the toll booth north of town and is a shorter route to San Carlos but may take more time. As you are going west you hit the boulevard and if you watch on the left, south side should be a sign for Pilar Condominiums. Watch for the returno which is not far and take it. As you head back east, the way you came take the first right and follow the road south. It is probably a couple of miles down to Pilar. Previously people were parking on their lot north of the complex and all they wanted was for people to eat sometimes in their café. Now there is construction so people are parked north of there. It is a dirt road with lots of little side roads and people just pick on. There is not many with a good view of the ocean but we found one by a small gulley that is sometimes wet at high tide. Another place where it appears you can park is go on into town and when you see the housing development on the north you can turn of on the left hand side and go pretty much west ona hard packed dirt road and get on a slight ridge overlooking the ocean. You are only a block or two from the dome shaped hotel/condominium. Given these places are full at Easter and Christmas with people camping I suspect it is OK. If you need hook ups there are several camps in town. We have two others from BC that pulled in about an hour after us and were going to stay the night but one of the fellows got stung by a sting ray when he went into the ocean so they ran him into town to the doctor. All they can do is give pain killer. It is not serious but is terribly painful. I got e-mail and got the 5 day temperature outlook for Moab, UT. So we are going to have to decide if we want to stay here for awhile or move on. It is between 55-70 most days in Moab but a couple days are cooler with a storm front moving through. The nights are in the 30's so still a bit cool. We need about a week to get to Moab, UT to see the Petrified Forest NP, Window Rock and Canyon De Chelly before going on north to Moab.
March 11, 2005 Friday It was a relaxing day. I had a great, loud schedule with Chris AC0M. I spent the day working on the trip north as to where to stay and what roads to take. Edith spent the day getting shells and sun bathing on the beach. It was hazy here all day so did not get real hot, actually very nice in the low 80's I was getting ready to take a walk and up walked Wally and Barbara our neighbors from Ricon. They came in from a Pemex somewhere between here and Mazatlan. They had spent some time in Mazatlan and met some people they knew and in fact are traveling with them. They spotted our antenna pole so they said that must be us and it was. It was great to see them and we had a nice visit. They said the Libre north of Mazatlan was fine, signed good for Los Mochis and had some shoulder and was smooth. That saves a lot of money over the Autopista which is reportedly the most expensive road in Mexico. In talking with the fellows on .339 Roger W7LFB mentioned again there is nothing to see on 191 until you get to Alpine other than trees so he suggested going north of Globe. Our son Tom said the road is really hilly and has lots of curves and the guide book says the same, listing some 460 curves so we have changed our route and will now go in at Nogales rather than Douglas. It is closer and also our neighbors here on the beach said they came in at Douglas and that the truck traffic was horrible and the going really slow. There is mining truck traffic and also trucks for the Baja so given all this the reasonable thing is to go in at Nogales. There is nothing special to see on the road to Douglas and the road to Nogales will definitely be safer. We should be able to make it to around Tucson for the night unless it is really early then we could go on to Globe but given some time crossing he border, Tucson will very likely be it. We tore down the antenna and put things away and got hooked up so we can leave in about 5 minutes in the morning before 7 am.
March 12, 2005 Saturday We were on the road by 7 am. We did in fact miss the toll north of Guymas by going via the libre. It took about 2.5 hours to get to Hermosillo. We followed the signs for non automobiles and trucks and was on Hwy 15. There is no libre sign. When you getn to the north end of town you need to turn toward a town quite away to the east and after going not to far east, go north and then come back to the cuota by a Pemex station. These roads are small yellow ones on the Roja map. We marked it on our map. It was 109 peso's and it took us all the way to Magalina and there we got around the toll by going through town which is not bad. At the end by Nogales there is a 89 peso charge. I guess you could miss this one by going through Negales but I doubt if that is worth it as this crossing has more room and moves things right along. We had about a 15 minute wait is all. Earlier about 15 miles out we turned in our car permit and got a receipt and walked across the street and turned in or FMT, tourist permits at the immigration office. Most people were there getting permits rather than turning them in. We had to wait in line about 10 minutes. It was 1:30 pm when we got into the USA so it took us 6.5 hours from San Carlos. There is a nice rest area about 30 miles north of Nogales on the right hand side which is a good place to get something to eat and we sent an e-mail that we were safely back in the USA. Right south of Tucson is a casino and there were RV staying on the edge of the lot so it gave every appearance you could park here free so it would be a good place to stay going or coming from Mexico via Nogales. Since it was early we decided to go on past Tucson to Globe. The road north of Oracle into Globe followed the Pecos River and we were at about 2000 feet elevation and it is a nice green valley with lots of mining and some irrigation and agriculture. One town had an RV park so given the lower elevation it should be a decent place to spend a couple of weeks in the winter as it would be warmer than in the high country. The downside is that there are just small towns and it is a mining area and things looked a bit worn and shabby.
We planned to stay at the Casino east of Globe but for dry camping it is $5.00 and it was very full. I talked to a couple and they said there was a pretty new Walmart on Hwy 60 past Globe near Miami. We decided to try that. It was a good decision as RV's are parked here. We got oil for the F-350 so I can change the oil in about 1300 miles and I don't know when we will be by a Walmart after this as going north to Moab it is only small towns. We got groceries and eat out which was a nice change. It is ironic but at Walmart we just about always have all kinds of room out at the edge of the lot. We put our slide out side next to the curb so we can safely run them out. It is very typically more quiet than and RV park. We can stay hooked up so setting up and leaving just takes a couple of minutes as all we basically have to do is hook up the battery bank. I also have great success getting and sending e-mail from the lot which was again true here. We put on 418 miles and got into the lot here about 5:30 pm. We were at the Casino about 5 pm. so about 11 hours to there and 11.5 hours to Walmart so a long day. It is a blessing to be back safely with no accidents and insurance hassels in Mexico and no mechanical problesm so praise the Lord! Tonight we enjoy ice cream and probably tomrrow night have some steak someplace. The big shock is that we paid $1.79 for diesel in Mexico and we finally found a place right next to where we are parked for $2.26 which is the cheapest we have seen. I hope as we get out of AZ that is gets better. The last few tanks in Mexico the mileage pulling has been great. I got 300 miles on a tank, admittedly very full but I have never gotten 300 miles pulling and on the present tank I am over 250 miles.
The total miles in Mexico was 5200 miles and we were in Mexico for 62 days on this trip.
March 13, 2005 Sunday We got up a little before 7 am and I checked out the station across the street as to where the diesel pumps are and seen how to pull in. We packed up and got diesel. It is $2.26 which is the cheapest we have found but it sure counts up as it took $75.00 to fill which is the most I ever remember. We head north for Show Low and Holbrook. We went though the Salt River Canyon which is quite a hole in the ground. We shifted down to low for quite aways. We pulled up the other side and I though I might of smelled something but nothing for sure. We stopped about 4 times to take pictures and did not see anything wrong. One up the other side we got ready to go down some and I sifted down. I noticed a definite smoke smell and checked the mirrors and seen lots of smoke. I asked Edith if she seen smoke and she said she did so I slowed down and was figuring what to do and there was a big pull off so off we went and I shut things down and discovered it was transmission fluid coming out of the transmission that caused the smoke. Last year in Acapulco in backing up we got the transmission hot and the seal leaked out a bunch of oil. We left it over night and the next day started it and it did not leak so we bought some transmission oil and filled it and it has been working fine. When we got home we talked to the boys at the Ford garage and they could see no point in changing it. In hind sight I think I should of. Anyway we let it cool down and put in some oil. I started it and lots of oil came out the seal so I immediately shut it off and decided it was going to have to be towed in. I then remembered I had Roadside assistance on both the F-350 and 5th wheel so I looked up the policy numbers, figured out where we were at and hooked up the outside antenna on the cell phone. I got the answering recording to wait for a real person. The coverage was scratchy but held up and I got a real person and they got the numbers from me and we started working on a tow. They contacted Tow Saving Service in Show Low and they were supposed to be out in an hour. I sent a message to Curts cell phone and a message to the boys and Chris and Ole. They showed up at about 11:15 so only about 1.25 hours. Meanwhile I had walked up the road and found it started leaking at the down hill sign about ½ mile back. They did not have quite the right hook up but they got it hooked up, disconnected the drive shaft and was towing us in with the 5th still hooked to the F 350. About 2 miles down the road the tow truck had a throttle problem with only very high RPM. We thought it was the linkage but it turned out to be something else we could not fix, likely in the fuel pump. So they tried to call for another truck but we were now at a lower elevation and the cell phone coverage was very, very poor. We could not stay connected long enough to communicate. We finally used my phone and got some one started our way. They showed up with a flatbed truck and loaded the F-350 and then were going to come back in get the 5th wheel and the stalled wrecker. Edith went in with the F-350 and I stayed with Bob who I found out was a ham KD7YXZ so we had lots to talk about. There was a bad accident 1 mile back of use between where we had the trouble and were the tow truck broke down. Anyway our towing company sent out two flat beds and a big wrecker. The one fellow did not have a lot of experience and went to the wrong location and the other truck was waiting for him for about 15 minutes. Anyway they had to get the two cars off the road as it was a safety situation and use the big wrecker to tow in the broken down wrecker. Our 5th had to be towed with the one flat bed where they could mount so we had to wait for it to go back to town, drop of the pickup, put on the th wheel hitch and come back. Bob and I decided he better stay as it was going to be dark when they got back so he needed to drive behind as there would be no tail lights on the 5th wheel. He got back a little after 7 pm, pitch dark and we got things hooked up. We got in about about 8:30 pm and the found a vacant lot across the street from the transmission place. It was the old post office. I started the generator to charge our batteries. It takes a long time to start when it is not used for awhile but eventually much to my relief it fired up. I sent out an e-mail to the boys and Ole and Chris that we were in the 5th wheel at Show Low and the F-350 is at the transmission shop. Curt called on the cell phone and we had a nice visit. It will likely drop to about 28 degrees here so it will be chilly in the morning.
Southwest Transmission will open at 8 am so we will begin chapter II in the morning.
March 14, 2005 Monday I called Bob KD7YXZ who towed us in but he did not answer. The repeater was off in the morning due to a power outage we later found out. I then called Don N7ENS and he said there was no IRLP but then Bob WA6WDC who is at Sun Valley by Holbrook called in and he has IRLP. The node is #3940 on 147.54 with no tone. It is simplex with a ringo ranger. He thinks he lives right south of the trailer court so we should be able to use it all OK.
I went to Southwest Transmission about 7:45 and they were open. He said they would get right on it at 8 am when the help showed up and to stop back in an hour. At 9 am I stopped back and he said there was no indication of a transmission problem but the front seal needed replacing but he wanted to check out the torque converter. He also said it vented once which often happens when it gets hot when backing up so that likely happened at Acapulco. When I stopped back later he showed me the torque converter. It had gotten hot as it had been slipping. Also where the converter fits into the front seal it was rough so a new seal would not hold. He is going to get a heavy duty converter. Also the control for the pump is called PMS which I believe was partial mist spray. Which means it is intermitent. He said they have had trouble with this so he will replace it with and update that is either on or off and it cools things a lot better. He had to order the parts and they should be in here early morning and they will put them in and we should be on the road again by early afternoon. The estimate was $700-$800 so all in all the insurance paid for the towing and this is reasonable as I truely believe I caused the problem in Acapulco backing up and getting it hot. I now know to put it in 4 Low range since I have the 4 wheel drive gear box. This will be more heavy duty and by being careful backing up it should last a long time.
KD7YXZ got busy and we could not get together for coffee, hopefully tomorrow morning. There was a fair amount of activity on the repeater. They can get a lot of them linked up; especially over into NM. It started snowing when it was about 52 degrees. I have never seen that. Eventually it cooled down to about 38 degrees and the ground got white b ut the streets are OK yet as it is above freezing. It has snowed to the north but it should be OK by noon tomorrow. I notified everyone about the IRLP possibility for tomorrow and Wednesday as we will have to stay at the RV park ROOT 66 in Sunset Valley by Holbrook for two nights as we will get in to late tomorrow to see the Petrified Forest National Park. It will give us a chance to dump our tanks and fil with fresh water as well as we will likely be dry camping for quite awhile. We will have to find a dump and water fill by Moab about once a week or maybe by using the toilets at the campsite we can stretch it out to a couple of weeks.
March 15, 2005 Tuesday-It was a cold night but we had plenty of blankets but ran the stove at a low thermostat setting until about 3 am so water would not freeze. After that I shut off the stove to conserve the batteries. At a little past 7 am I started the generator. It took a little cranking to start but not real bad considering it was cold out. It was 38 degrees in the 5th and about 28 degrees outside. Fortunately the water was not froze. About 9 am I went to the Southwest Transmission and found out the parts were coming UPS at 10 am but given the weather might be delayed. I checked at 11 am and Russel had went to UPS to see if he could get them. He was back with them before to long. Some parts had not come but fortunately ours did. Bob KD7YXZ stopped by and we went to dinner. Unfortunately N7ENS Don could not join us. The .76 is on Porter Mt. and the 449.350 is on Green Peak. The .61 is there main machine but it is down. I don't remember where it is but I believe farther south. Back at the 5th I went down and found out they were not done and were gone to dinner. Before to long they were back so I left again and returned. They were finishing up so I waited and went with Russ for a test drive. He answered a lot of questions I had. Apparently in Acapulco the transmission vented when it got hot which means it blows oil out through the vent in the torque converter. He doubted very much if it went by the seal. He explain about the heavy duty torque converter that it had more surface area for the clutch to ride on and it was made of a better material. Inside is a ball bearing rather than a race to ride on and it is made with a good fiber material rather than a paper material. They also replaced some gears that were roughed up because of the rough surface where it road in the seal. He did not recommend a chip, the main thing is to be very careful in reverse. He suggested an exhaust brake would be the best for the F-350 They put in a new filter. He said a temperature guage put where it should be would be expensive. It came out to be $1038.00 with the labor being $278.00 I had hoped for $800.00 but given the extra parts it ran more. I then picked up Edith as we had the 5th ready to go, having got the snow and ice off the slide earlier. We went out to the Super Walmart south of town and got some groceries and then came back. We checked for leaks at each stop. We then hooked up and was able to turn in the lot OK. It was an easy pull to Holbrook and Sun Valley a bit to the east on I 40 at exit 294. I could not get ahold of WA6WDC Bob. Later I found he was taking a nap. We got to the Root 66 RV park a little before 5 pm and got checked in and decided to dump. After dumping I went to start the F-350 and the starter would not turn over. The dash indicators lighted up. I suspected it was something not right from the transmission work. It was after 5 pm but I called Southwest at Show Low and left a message on the recorder. I then tried the 800 number and got someone. They promised to have Russ call me back. We tried some things in regards to Park and Neutral but it did not work. I crawled underneath and notice a bolt had not been tighted and it appeared a couple of nuts had not been put on and the wiring harness was just laying there. I told Russ about that. He has a worker who lives here and he is going to send him out in the morning before he heads down for Show Low. I called the Ford garage here. We got that info and a towing place info from the RV park people which was very helpful. The guy at the Ford garage after a long hold said we would have to have it towed in. He suggested checking fuses which we did but they were all fine. Russ said they just had an office here, no shop or tow truck. I then had a call from Bob KD7YXZ and he said we could tow it a few 100 feet in neutral, slowly. More than that it needs the drive shaft unhooked or the hind wheels up on a dolly or off the ground. Anyway the owner had a Ranger and it had 4 x 4 so we used my heavy tow rope and he pulled us into a spot so we had hookups for the RV and we were getting low on gas and we did not want to do the generator thing as there are lots of others parked here so it would be to much noise and we were a long ways from a plug in. We are set now with the RV and have radio communication, IRLP and a local repeater for Edith and I to keep in communication if I have to take it to the Ford garage. I talked to Curt on IRLP but no answer from Floyd. The plan is to see if the fellow from Southwest Transmission shows up. I have the pickup unhooked from the 5th and setting in a dry place. It is wet here with lots of water setting around. I talked to Bob WA6WDC several times and he was very helpful but can not get out due to the water and mud. He said he had the same deal once and it was a plug not plugged into the transmission that was the problem for the safety feature that it has to be in Park or Neutral to start. If the Southwest guy does not get us going I will call our road side assistance and get it towed to the Ford garage and hopefully they can get it going. Edith and I can use the local repeater for communications. We tested it out with BOB and he heard us fine from in the RV where Edith will be with the HT. I got the frequencies in all the memories and all the batteries charged. It looks like we will be here 3 nights rather than 2 nights but that is OK since we have IRLP here. I had noise on HF tonight but thing it is the Inverter from the trailer next door. Hopefully it is just an over nighter and will move on. If not I can live with it since I have IRLP here.
March 16, 2005 Wednesday I got up about 7 am and got organized to call for roadside assistance. I decided to jack up the front of the F-350 so I could get underneath to look things over. I called Southwest to confirm they were sending someone out. I moved the cable going into the transmission and what do you know it would then crank over and started. I waited for the Southwest fellow for a long time and finally called again and they said he was close and about 10 am he drove in. He showed me that the wires actually went into a plug and he pulled on it and it came out which meant it was not latched. He pushed it in hard and it latched so it will not come back out. He then put the nuts on and lashed down the wiring harness but the lose bolt was messed up so I ended up following him downtown to there shop and he cut it out and put in a new one and checked everything over one more time. He lives at Pinetop and drives up each day and manages the shop here. After I got back I checked e-mail and cleaned things up. Bob WA6WDC was going to swing by but it got to late as we headed out for Petrified Forest NP and found it very nice. The trees are toward the south end. Just out of the park on the south end are two stores and they both offer free RV overnight parking. They are across the road from each other and have lots of room. We then went back to Holbrook and came into town from the south, got diesel along I-40, it actually was a cent cheaper down town. Back at the 5th we looked at rocks they had for sale here and I checked on repeaters that I might use as we head north. I asked Bob WA6WDC about repeaters to the north but he was not familiar with them. There is a remote site to the north of here but that won't do us any good. Curt was on IRLP tonight. Bob KD7YXZ called about the license number for the 5th wheel. His telephone number is 928 205 8451.
March 17, 2005 Thursday Day 67 It was a good day. I got ahold of Bob KD7YXZ and gave him the 5th wheel license plate so they could get their money for towing the 5th in. We talked to Don N7ENS and he suggested 442.000 Window Rock which can be linked with 448.000 Yates Pt. which is on a high mesa west of Canyon De Chelly. We got ahold of Herb N7HG and he filled us in on the above information. We had a nice tour of the Hubbel Trading post at Ganado. It was very interesting and is Nation Park Service Historical Site and is the oldest, longest continuously operating trading post. After the tour we got permission to leave the 5th wheel and drove over to Window Rock to see the window rock. Herb again gave us some good information. The have a radio special events station their to commemorate the Navajo code talkers. It is a very scenic site, there is a park below the window rock and it is all free. Edith got some great Navajo jewelry for a very reasonable price at a local flea market and we had some ice cream at McDonalds and headed back to the 5th wheel. It turned cloudy and the wind picked up but no rain. We the pulled up to Chinle and Canyon De Chelly and the 448.000 N7HG repeater is strong but so far low activity. We parked in the NP CG called Cottonwood which is free. It is on an old flood plain and has lots of cottonwood trees. They have most of it closed off this time of the year. They have a dump station and water. There are a few water hydrants around that are on in the winter. They do have fire grates. There is nice distance between sites so it is a nice CG. With the F-350 and our battery bank we are back in business so we can run the furnace as much as we want as we have plenty of power available. We went to the visitors center and seen the film and looked at the exhibits. It is a free park. We will do the rim tours tomorrow and walk the one trail. We will see about the weather and hiring a Navajo guide to go into the canyon on Saturday. There is a possibility of rain on Saturday and in fact the next 10 days looks cloudy and rainy and in the 50's during the day and 40's and a few 30's at night. We got e-mail and are having our license plate tags sent to Moab, UT. General delivery. We had good contacts on .339. For I-40 east on Hwy 191 going north Herb said 448.000 had spotty coverage and there is a repeater in Gallop, NM. It looks like 449.350 tone 162.2 would be good from there west for quite aways and then there are local repeaters and the Mt. Ord has worked good before.
March 18, 2005 Friday We got up about 6:30 am as the propane tank was empty. We switched over to the other but could not get the furnace going. I messed around quite awhile and thing the fitting on the second tank was not tight as I could smell propane. Anyway we got the furnance going. We had some breakfast and at 8 am went to the Thunderbird Inn to check on tours. They were expensive so we went to the visitors center to check on a guide that would go with us in our pickup. The have to be approved and charge $15 and hour with a minimum of 3 hours. You have to get a park permit but it is free. He said we would not get stuck. It was pretty amazing. We just headed up the shallow river right in the water. It would seem like there would be soft sand or holes but he told me where to drive and some places we drove on the sand but at first a lot of the time was in the water. We got to where the canyon splits for Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto. We took the Canyon Del Muerto as the other has some crossing that are not passable. We seen pictographs and petrographs, then first Ruins, Junction Ruin where the canyons split, Ledge Ruin, Antelope House Ruin. We seen the best pictographs and petrographs I have ever seen. The ones at Antelope House were old for the Anasazi and more recent Navajo around 1800. We also seen some Hopi structures. Next was Mummy Cave ruins where two mummies were found. We got back after a 4.5 hour trip. There are about 60 families that have land in the canyons but not all of them live there in the summer time. No one lives there in the winter time but there are some cattle and horses there and they visit from time to time and some sell jewelry on the bottom. The road was very bad the last few miles to Mummy Cave. If you use your high clearance 4x4 I would suggest only going to Antelope house as you drive a long ways just to see Mummy Cave and you can see it OK from the rim but of course not as close. You can not go into any of the sites, they are fenced off back 100 feet to 200 yards. It is amazing driving down a the stream toward the end for a long ways. Check the web site for pictures. It cost us $68.00 so it was a bunch cheaper. In the summer the river dries up so then taking your own 4x4 would definitely be the way to go if you don't mind some adventure.
We then came back and got some lunch and then headed to Hwy 191 to get our empty propane tank filled. The gas place was broke down for filling but Mustang Gas Station to the west had propane. It was only $13.08 fill the 30 lb. cylinder so that was the cheapest I have gotten propane for in a long time. We then did the south canyon rim drive. It is the best of the two for seeing the canyon and ruin sites. The Spider Rock is a high point and if you like hiking the walk down to White House and back is another high point. The north rim drive is not as nice. There are not many places to drive in but you do see Antelope House and Mummy Cave and one up close but is small and not much left, it is called Yucca Cave Ruins. We got back about 6 pm so we had a long full day. I would recommend going into the canyon. The ½ day Thunderbird tour for about $45 each is probably the best deal if you don't have or don't want to take your 4x4 in. We were not able to go up Canyon De Chelly and see the window into the canyon as the river crossing were not possible to go that far. Most tours going up this canyon turn around at White House. You can get a pretty good idea of things from the south rim and you can hike down into the canyon and across to White House so I would take the tour to Antelope House instead. If one could go to the window for a reasonable price that would be nice; however I don't think you see the quality pictorgraphs and petrographs here but am not sure so you would need to ask.
March 19, 2005 Saturday Everybody was slow in moving at Cottonwood CG. We home made a funnel to put us for pouring water into our freshwater tank since we will be dry camping for the next couple of weeks so we need all the water we can get. It took 11 gallons to fill the tank. We filled all our water jars and dumped the all our tanks so we are as set as we can be. On the way out N7HG called to check if we were doing OK which was very nice. We filled with diesel and also the generator tank with gas. We headed north on Hwy 191 and had a couple of nice chats with Herb. They have a remote base at each site. The Window Rock one is west of town on the ridge at about 8000 feet. The Yale Point is a bit lower. They can use either remote to link the 448 and 442 up and the other remote to link to another repeater. The coverage from Yale Point is solid to Hwy 160 to the north so between 442 and 448 you have coverage from I-40 north on 191 to Hwy 160. There is some beyond, either way but it is high topping. North of there we worked the VHF on Rooftop Mesa which is in Northeastern AZ and is linked back into NM. The UHF there is not working well.
The 447.100 by Monticello is loud there but I was very poor into it so it out transmits. As you go north you can get `46.61, it think it is more even on transmit and receive. The 447.100 and 449.100 by Moab are linked to the Grand Mesa Repeater Association system. Hopefully they can link me in to the IRLP node 3710. WA4HN Eldon is out of town this week end so that is why I have not gotten an e mail back from him about using IRLP. We got parked at Windwhistle BLM CG for $10.00. In three months with the Golden Age Passport it will be half price. We have a nice spot but have a big rock butte to the south but can get 449.100 and 146.76 OK by Moab so we are set. I was shocked to see we also have cell phone coverage here but being at 6000 feet elevation according to the GPS helps. We went to the Canyon Land Needles overlook on BLM land. It is an oil road and very impressive. It would be better in the morning with the sun behind you. We then took a good gravel road to Anticline and seen more of the canyon. We also seen the salt and Potash mining and evaportion ponds along the Colorado River. Off to the east we seen lots of people boondocking in tents, campers and Class A and C and 5th wheels. A lot of them had 4 wheelers. There were to the west down be the Colorado River. We made some cell phone calls since it was the week end and we had coverage. The good news was everybody is doing OK. They are talking snow about 7500 feet so hopefully only rain moving in from CA. It is going to be colder, rain and cloudy this next week. Hopefully it will be OK to go to Canyon Land if there is not fog. We got e mail and sent our gps location.
March 20, 2005 Sunday It rained during the night and the forecast is for snow above 7000 feet. We headed off for the Needles district of Canyonland NP. We saw Newspaper Rock with a host of petrographs. Canyonland Needles district is a long drive and it was over cast and some low clouds but at times the sun tried to peak through. We took Elephant Hill road, partially gravel to finally get a good view of the Needles. We got some good photos of some of the rock formations. We then headed back and it started to snow hard and out of the park above 6000 feet the road was covered with snow but it was above freezing so no really slippery. As we got back to Hwy 191 and back to around 6000 feet we lost the snow and it was just rain. Back at the RV about 11 am we packed up and headed for Moab. We got here about 12 and into Ken's Lake BLM CG south of town. After eating and checking e mail again we went into town to the Moab Tourist Information Center which is open 8-8 7 days a week. We watched their movie and got information on where we could camp on BLM land for free. I will detail this more in a few days after we look at all of them. We are going to park at some site along the road out to Canyon Lands Island in the Sky District. Again more on this in a few days. We went to the overlook at Dead Horse CG and then came back to Moab and got groceries and then spent the evening studying the information we got. I talked to the fellows on .339 and also had a good talk with Roger W7LFB on 40 meters.
March 21, 2005 Monday We got up a little after 7 am and packed up to move to the BLM Big Mesa Primative Free camping area along Hwy 313 going from Hwy 191 to Canyon Lands NP and Dead Horse State Park. It is about 11 miles from 191 and is signed. It on the north side of the road. We stopped in Moab for groceries and got there club card and find thay they also likely honor Fry's. Anyway if we need to get more things we can run into Moab as the prices are a whole lot better with the card. These cards are a nuisance but anyway we now have Fry's, Safeway, Kroger and something else so
we hopefully that will help. We stopped at the Moab tourist center and I got a map of backroads. The lade said BLM is going to put in a big CG up this way and probably the primitive ones would go away and they might use Big Mesa for a group site. I hate to see this happening but it is a trend all over to charge. In three months with the Golden Age Passport it will be half price so that gets it down to $5.00 for BLM and $7.00 or less for NPS and $5.00 or less of NFS so I guess for us it won't be a problem as you can camp at those prices for a long time and not cost much money. I like these type of CG a bunch over commercial ones as there are a bunch more space between sites and they are a very quiet. We got on top of Big Mesa all OK. It had dried up a lot from yesterday. I put it in 4 x 4 just in case. I talked to Roger W7LFB on 40 meters and we set up a 4:45 pm schedule starting tomorrow night before the .339 on. The WX looks good through Tuesday and then it looks like it is going to cloud up and could rain some on Wed. Thurs. and Friday. It will cool off some to. After that it should be nice again for a few days but we will have to see what the extended looks like in a few days.
I put up the 20 meter wire dipole and also the 40 meter wire dipole and have the bug catcher on 30 meters for Winlink so we are really set to keep in touch. I talked to WA4HND Al on the Grand Mesa Repeater System who is there IRLP fellow and he said IRLP node #3710 would come into me. If I want to make a call on IRLP since I am not a member I would have to have a control operator do it for me. If one spent a lot of time here it would pay to be a member. I have just a trace of noise on my signal. These repeaters really out transmit the receive for the average mobile. Anyway it is a perfect case as to why I need to carry a 440 and 144 yagi so when I am at a place for a couple of days or more I can aim it at the station. It is also a good case to be able to run 100 watts on 2 meters and as much as possible on 440. I may need to look at using a brick on 440.
We went to Canyon Land NP and went to the south end to Grand View and did the 2 mile round trip cliff walk. It is very nice. On the way out we looked at Shafer Canyon road and overlook which is a switchback road coming up from the White Rim. There is the White Rim road which pretty well goes all the way around the Island in the Sky huge table top area. It is about 1000 feet down to it and it is quite wide before dropping off into more canyons. To the south you can see the Needles section and the over looks we had been to when we were south. We could also see west out into the maze section. The snow covered Henry Mts. Are west and the snow covered La Sal are east. We have a beautiful view from here. There are a few others camped up here and some of the jeep, motor cycle and 4 wheel people come up here during the day and leave at night. One group is staying to the north but no one is very close.
March 22, 2005 Well the weather forecast is not good with rain the next 4 days, Wednesday - Saturday and cooler. A possiblity of a little snow one night, I believe Friday night. Then on Sunday back in the 60's and Monday and Tuesday 65 -75 degrees. The worse is the road will get muddy going in and out of here and we won't be able to hike in Arches so may just have to sit tight until Sunday. We headed for Canyon Land NP Island in the Sky and hiked to Meas Arch, nothing special and then went to the upheaval Dome and hike to the first and second outlook. I decided to go farther which was not a good choice as it was tough hiking and I could not get up on the big rock I wanted to as it was to steep sided. With the altitude I was tired when I got back. We then headed down Shafer Canyon which is a narrow switchback road. We met lots of bicycles going up and some 4 x 4. We then were at the white rim and then on down to the Colorado River. A lot of loose rocks and rocks sticking out on the road and bumpy so it took a long time but other than that we got along fine. Lots of 4 x 4, motor cycles and 4 wheelers down there. We looked up at Dead Horse Point and eventually got to the Potash plant. We also seen Anticline Overlook from the bottom. Lots of recreation vehicles on the Potash company property along the road. We drove right next to the Colorado River quite aways before the Potash company property. They also produce a lot of salt. The have a couple of deep shafts that they flood and absorb the salt and potash and then pump it into holding ponds and evaporate off the water and collect the Potash and salt. We then hit the oil road and went to Moab, and got our license plate tags which the McCook County Treasure sent us General Delivery. You have a month to claim the general delivery mail. This worked great as we need them starting April 1st. We then went down the other side of the Colorado and seen the turn off to Moab Rim Drive which looked to steep for pickups and needed to be jeeps, 4 wheels or possibly motorcyles. There were sure a lot of them and it looked steep and very much sloping down hill. We went on the where the road heads up Cane Creek. We seen this road down below from the Anticline Overlook and given it was getting late and there was no free camping listed but rather $5.00 we turned around and went back to Moab and got some groceries and I got diesel which has went up to $2.39. We are still amazed at how many are here for the 39th Easter Jeep Safari!!! The discount card worked great so that really paid out. We got some chicken and had fried chicken tonight which was the first time since we left in December so it sure tasted good. We found some coke for 75 cents each at the fuel station. That is by far the best so far in the USA. Pop was cheap in Mexico. I talked to Roger W7LFB on 40 with great signals so it was definitely worth putting it up. He has spent a lot of time here and in Utah so he is a valuable resource. We moved to 20 and had great results. VE7DO checked in from Mazatlan with a nice signal. Al K7IEY is going to try IRLP in a few days. I got e-mail, sent some and worked on the travelogue. There are getting to be a few more up on the mesa all the time, maybe due to the Easter Holiday and people taking time off or snowbirds moving north. I am not sure if they are aware of the weather moving in or not? I talked to W0HYQ Marv on 40 meters before talking to Roger. Marv lived down the street from me when we lived in Rapid City and still lives in the same house. His phone number is 605 342 5427.
March 23, 2005 Wednesday Day 88 on the road. We expected a rainy night and day. It was windy but no rain during the night. We decided to head out and go up the Colorado River to the north of Moab on Hwy 128. It is a nice drive. Any of the free CG for BLM are up river 20 miles for Hwy 191. We turned of and seen Castle Rock and it started raining so it did not seem wise to try the La Sal Mt. loop. Back in the valley it stopped raining so we went to Arches, watcheds the film at the visitors center. They are building a new center. The special hike for the firery furnace is $10 and I decided after seeing it that it did not interest me enough to pay $8.00. We looked at all the arches and did all the walks other then Devils Garden which hopefully we can do tomorrow if the weather continues to cooperate. It sounds like it was going to be terrible today but other than the wind it was not bad, got to about 53 degrees for a high. Edith did all the hikes but Delicate Arch so that is doing something. It is hard to choose a favorite. I think the hike to Delicate Arch and seeing it was one of the best today. They are all nice and not one of them was not worth while making the hike. Back at the 5th we changed oil which was tricky with all the wind but we parked on the lee ward side of the 5th and put a canvas under the F-350 and it did not go bad thanks to Ediths help. I had good skeds with Roger on 40 meters, he was mobile but with the good antenna here and location and 500 watts it was good. 20 meters went well also. I got an e mail from Floyd WB0MZB the Paul W0GWL was a silent key so I called W0HYQ so he could put it out on the over the hill gang net. I also got a nice e-mail with a SDSU Jackrabbit basketball update from Jack Duxbury which was really nice. A couple of hams who are here for the Jeep Safari noticed our antenna pole and stopped by for a visit.
March 24, 2005 Thursday Day 89 on the road. I had a great visit with Chris and Lynn on 20 meters. We headed out for Arches as the weather was fine and walked the Devils Garden trai. Edith did great and walked all the way to Double O arch and back with me. I missed Private Arch accidently so I am sure it is nothing much different than we seen someplace else here. Other than that we seen all the arches other than this one and 2 or 3 that are farther north and can only be accessed by dirt road. It will give us something to do if we ever come back. I would say the nicest arch today was Landscape Arch and second would be Double O however all the rest were worth walking to. If you are really short of time I would walk to Delicate Arch and if you have more time just go to Landscape and come back. The north and south Window arches don't take long to see; however it is worth the time to go on the east side of them where you can see both of them at once. Also as you come in or go out of the park there is a pull off where you can see both of them looking east. They are probably 2 miles away.
We got back here about 2 pm and had a late lunch and I sent Chris an E mail so we could contact on 17 meters where he needs zone 3. It worked as about 3:30 pm he called me and we had a nice chat. After talking to Roger on 40 and the gang on .339 with fantastic signals we tore down the antennas so it won't take us long to be underway in the morning. Again the weather forecast does not sound good for tomorrow but we should be able to get on the oil road early on and then it does not matter if it rains some.
March 25, 2005 Friday Day 90 on the road. We got up about 6 am and it had rained a little during the night and was lightly raining and foggy. We finished packing up and pulled out. It was wet but not really muddy so we got out to the oil without messing things up with mud. We got diesel in Green River Utah, One place was 2.59, we got it at 2.38 and seen some others at that price. The last station in town on the west end near I-70 was 2.32 so we could of done better. We headed south at exit 149 on Hwy 24. We took the turn for the Goblin Valley Utah State Park and suddenly there were 5 vehicles behind us. We went west and then when the road turned southerly toward the park we pulled off at a sign board. They all passed us and heading on an oil road going into the mountains. I decided to go down and check it out and we seen lots of people parked. It is mainly a trail area for Off Highway Vehicles (OHV). There was a parking area for them to unload and head out. We asked some people and they said it was fine to stay over night. They had done so last night. We parked and then decided to take a drive. This is a great area to boondock in. You can park off the road going to the park before you get to the park boundary. You can go east from the above corner or you can go ahead on the oil which soon runs out and park many, many places. There are maps posted on the sign boards and basically in a huge area as long as it is BLM land and you stay on and existing road you can camp unless it is posted no camping. There are many, many places to stay. I suppose this is about 25 miles from I-70. This area can also be accessed from the north off of I-70. On could contact the BLM office in Price, UT for a map and information. There has been some weather moving through and today was the worst with rain and some snow and it barely got over 50 degrees for a little while around noon and then clouded over and it got colder and then snowed. There was not enough moisture to get things very muddy but the streams below us ran pretty good for awhile. I had a noisy signal from the IRLP repeater on 449.100 so I put up my gain vertical on the flag pole and then a piece of fiber glass so it is about 30 feet high at the base. I also put up the 20 meter dipole. I can now get into 449.100 OK. I have some multi-path distortion but it will work. I need to get it so I can run 100 watts on UHF and VHF and have beams for both bands and also have better coax. I have voltage drop to the radio when I key so I need to run bigger wire to get rid of that. IRLP is definitely worth the effort to be able to use!
I found a repeater to the north that I can work on Bruin Mt and got information on repeaters going north. There is IRLP at Castle Dale and Roosevelt going north. Our next door neighbor Mark is going to give me some info on the area. He and his wife wrote a book on the area. That will be interesting. He teaches ATV safety courses. Only Roger was on .339 and we are to close so no success there. E-mail works good from here. We have went through a bottle of propane in about 8 days. It is one from Mexico so it might of been butane rather than propane. It is chilly with the damp air and the furnace seems to be running a lot more than normal. It is likely to get below freezing tonight but starting tomorrow no rain in the immediate future and it is supposed to get warmer and eventually make it to 70 degrees. It will be nice to have it dry and warmer. I am trying to get the forecast to decide if I want to hike into Horseshoe Canyon tomorrow or the next day. We have decide to stay here until Monday since it is free and they have good pit toilets here. We found that Goblin Valley State Park CG was full so it is possible with the Easter weekend that Capital Reef CG could also be full so we will wait until after the week end to move. It is $14 a night at Goblin Valley State Park so this BLM area will save us $28.
March 26, 2005 Day 91 on the road. Yesterday afternoon and evening were chilly in the 5th. It was no problem staying warm in bed as we had lots of blankets so we kept the furnace turned down to about 55 degrees but it still ran a lot so should of turned it all the way down or shut it off since it did not freeze but came close. There was a fair amount of wind. We slept in this morning and did not get up until about 7:15 am. We turned the furnace up a little but not much as the sun was shining brightly and it was a clear blue sky. The Henry Mt. to the south were beautiful with the rising sun shining on them. This is a great camping spot, quiet as it is to cold for the ATV and Motor Cycle people to go riding until it warms up. They take off on trails so really not much noise here as we are clear at the east end of the fenced area they call the bull pen. You could feel the solar heat coming through the windows, it was great and the forecast is to get in the low 50's today and in the 60's tomorrow. I changed my mind and decided to hike the Horse Shoe Canyon unit of Canyon Land NP as the sun was bright for pictures and there was not much wind. There is more wind forecast for tomorrow and lots of wind for Monday. I headed out and found the turn for Horse Shoe immediately south of the Goblin State Park turn off that I came back to U 24. It is not signed for Horse Shoe Canyon but it is the correct road. It lists Park Ranger, maze district and a couple of others. If you follow the signs and have the brochure for this unit you should be OK. If there is a road that is not signed just stay on the mainly traveled one and you will be fine. We got to the trail head at 10:10 AM and headed down. We soon passed a bunch of people and had the trail to ourselves. It goes right down into the canyon. There were a couple of park ranger vehicles parked in the lot that I noticed as I headed down. Actually this use to be a road in 1920 for an oil company and they drove it but I really don't know how. Apparently the sand and dirt has washed out between the rocks as you sure could not drive it now. The canyon used to be called barrier canyon. The road, now trail goes up the other side. Once in the canyon bottom you head in a southerly direction which appears to be up stream but it is basically flat and easy hiking. You follow the rock markers, cairns, and come to the site on the left called High Panel and there a sign explains this site and shows the other three coming up. The other three are on the right hand side. The next one Shelter house is not far. You can get right up close and the art work is old, very old and very big and considered to be some of the best in North America and well preserved. I only seen a bit of vandelism and it was from 1904 and 1920 so since then people have been good! The third site is back in under a cliff and well protected and again lots of big figures. It seems like a long 3.5 miles but finally you get to Great Gallery. I was blessed as a volunteer ranger was there with 3 other people and they invited me to come across the fence and climb up the trail so we were right by the art. I guess there is a guided tour on Saturday and Sunday leaving the trail head at 9 am and then I think the ranger stays awhile for others coming down. Anyway normally you would have to stay down below and it would still be great you can see a lot more up close which is allowed if there is a ranger with you. Check my web site for some of the pictures. There are both pictographs and petroglyphs They are very old from 2000 BC to 500 AD and are what are known as the Barrier Style with life size figures with no arms and also of animals and plants. They may be burial clothing of there chiefs but no one knows and there seems to be no tradition back this far among the American Indian that has come to light in regards to this rock art. It appears to be people who traveled through this area once a year and were hunters, not farmers. You can read more about it by doing a search on the Internet for Barrier Canyon rock art or look for Horse shoe canyon canyon land rock art The famous outlaw Butch Cassidy hid out in this canyon to the southwest especially in the area called Robbins Roost. It is a lot like Canyon De Cheny where it is pretty flat and you really do not know there is a canyon there and suddenly there is the huge hole in the ground. You can not camp in the area at night, it is a day use area. It took me 3.25 hours round trip including a longer than normal stay at the Great Panel because of the ranger guided talk. Because it is around 5500 feet it is a little tougher and of course if it were hot in the summer time you would have to go early, go much slower and take lots of water. It would be a good idea to take a small pair of binoculars for the Great Panel if you are not sure a ranger will be there which likely there will not be unless it is during season and on the week end. Be sure and ask, btw there is no cell phone coverage so if you are going to ask you need to do it long before you get in this area. You can camp on the rim or on BLM land coming in but if you have an RV I'd suggest where we stayed and drive as it is only about a 45 minute trip. It is a dirt road so beware of rain or snow. Back at the 5th I had a rest and then got the book our neighbor Mark wrote which is great, with color pictures and maps of the area. There are lots of rock art sites in the area and lots of scenery and mining history of the early days and again in the 50's for Uranium. It is a well done book and a must for people who want to explore the area. It is especially suited for ATV and 4 x 4 travel. UTAHS SCENIC SAN RAFAEL 2001 BY Mark H Williams Box 382, Castle Dale, UTAH 84513. It is an easy read and has some good humor in it as well. The directions are excellent going by odometer readings from specific points. No luck on .339 tonight as there was the WPX CQ contest I believe with lots of strong signals. I heard WA6YYY call Roger but I am to close to both and I don't thing Doug had any success. I heard no one else so went back to reading my book. Ole N0ABE called on IRLP but I was mobile on my canyon trip and he could not hear me but he said he would call again tonight. We had fried chicken tonight to we got a few days ago in Moab, the second time now since last December so it tasted good. KB0SW from Grand Jct. area was going to make a short trip to Moab for the big Saturday jeep day.
I will have to visit with Mark tomorrow. They have a machine for making ice cream on their ATV's. Edith had a good visit with them this morning and had some and said it is good. They came back quite soon from riding this morning because it was to cold but it soon warmed up. It was great in the 5th this afternoon when I got back about 2:30 pm with the sun shining through the south windows. It is the warmest I have felt since being a fair amount south in Mexico.
March 27, 2005 Sunday Day 92 on the road. I bought the book from Mark our Neighbor and he also got us a BLM map of the area. We visited about some things to see and places to camp by Castle Dale. He gave us his telephone number and both he and his wife said if we get to the area to call them. We probably will come through there on the way home and there is supposed to be two IRLP stations there and it appears free BLM camping. That area is not to high so we should be able to stay out of the snow. We took a road toward the north side of Temple Mt. but there was a rough rocky spot I did not want to try. We found some good rock art close by and some miners old rock houses and went down into Chute Canyon which was very scenic.
We watched Mark and his wife load their 4 wheelers into their RV travel trailer. One with the back tail gate that serves as a ramp. They ran them in one after another like train cars and there are rings in the floor to anchor them. The things fold up inside to make room such as the table. They sleep up above and they still can get at the bathroom with the 4 wheelers inside. They make longer ones so you have more area that is not disturbed. They are very popular and I can see why with the tremendous boom in recreational vehicles. For use the trouble is we like our nice living space and it is not practical to pull a trailer behind so it is not real feasible for us and our part of SD does not have 4 wheeler trails so you have to ride on the road, ditch or fields. If we lived close to a good 4 wheeler trail area like here it sure would make sense to have them. In our case we could pull a trailer behind that short ways and could haul the gas, etc. OK.
We had a nice warm day, worked on trip plans, worked on the computer, talked to N0ABE at Sioux Falls and talked to Roger on 40 meters for about an hour as he really likes Utah and this would be a new area for him. Tomorrow I try to talk to Chris and Lynn on 20 meters and then pack up and head for Capital Reef NP stopping in Hanksville, UT for propane and diesel.
March 28, 2005 Day 93 on the road
No propane at Hanksville but we were told there is some at Torrey west of the park. Diesel was $2.56 so I did not get any. This is getting out of hand. We got into the CG here, nice and pleasant along the Fremont River. Capital Reef NP is under rated. It is beautiful. We got set up and went to the visitors center and then did the scenic drive to the south. Don't miss the Grand Wash and Cassidy Arch named after Butch Cassidy who reportedly hide out near here sometimes. Also go down Capital Reef Gorge and then hike, this was the road used until 1962 but now is blocked off part way down. We then went east from the visitors center and seen the Petroglyphs and walked to Hickmans Natural Bridge. A great walk and then we went west to Torrey and got propane and had to pay $2.48.0 for diesel the most I have ever paid in my life. It is definitely getting out of hand. Fortunately in another 3 months we can camp for half price with the Golden Age Passport so we should be able to stay for $5-$7 a lot of places along with some Wal-Marts and Passport America can at least get the camping fees down to pay for the higher fuel cost. WE ABSOLUTELY HATE COMMERICAL CG. THEY PACK YOU IN LIKE SARDINES AND THEY ARW NOISY AND MANY ARE RUDE AND SEEM TO ONLY WANT YOUR MONEY AND HAVE TWO PAGES OF REGULATIONS! WE HATE THEM! At NFS, NPS, BLM, State Parks(not cheap anymore) you get quiet, meet nice people, a minimum of regulations and best of all LOTS OF ROOM. It was a nice day with lots of sun but it cools of fast when the sun goes down. Supper was from Subway at Torrey, UT.
March 29, 2005 Tuesday Day 94 on the road.
This was adventure day. We went to the east side of the park and headed south, soon on Striker Valley road which was a good dirt road. Two wheel drive would be fine as long as it is not wet. Not always signed real well but follow the main road and be sure you are going south. At the Burr Trail turn off, marked head up over the reef. This and the main highway along the Fremont River are the only two crossing for a long ways. You look ahead and you would swear the road can not go up the reef but it does. There are at least 6 switch backs and I think it is at least 2000 feet up. What a ride, we put it in 4 x 4 low range but did not lock in the hubs. You could make it with a two wheel drive and clearance is no problem. Again all this is if it is dry. Up on top what a view, we then went to the Upper Mulley Canyon turn off, which is past the Lower Mulley Canyon Turn off. Although not signed as such this is the turn off for the trail to Striker Overlook. You can not go very far and you need a high clearance vehicle and there is a small parking area. I would recommend stopping here unless you have lots of rough, rock trail 4 x 4 experience as there are some bad, rocky spots. The hike down the road is about 2.5 miles. You can cut across the corners of the stream bed where the road is in a lot of places. You get to a place where it says no vehicles beyond here and there is a sign pointing to Stricker Overlook. It is fairly obvious as it is the first place you see an opening toward the east. BTW there is a window when you start and toward the end and arch and then a double arch. The view is great, just follow the trail and on the rocks the stone cairn markers. You can see the uplift and folds to the north and south and the so called water pocket. The web page has pictures. From there we head west and into the Escalante Staircase NM which is great and went across a deep red rock barrier canyon. It is all very scenic. We got to Hwy 12 at Boulder which was a very isolated town for a long time. From there to Bryce NP it is a fabulous scenic highway. I would say the most scenic non park highway we have ever been on. Be sure and check out the grocery store and associated store at Tropic, UT below Bryce NP. Things are priced very reasonable and is family run. The return trip looking the other way was just as good. At Boulder we went north into the Dixe NFS and got up to nearly 10,000 feet in lots of snow, lots of trees and great scenic overlooks out to the east over the great Utah desert scenery and the Henry Mt. covered with snow. Just outstanding scenery and history. Be sure and read the signs along the way.
March 30. 2005 Wednesday Day 95 on the road. We got started about 8 am as the forecast sounded OK. As we headed west we picked up some snow on the road but there was a track 99% of the time. We then took Hwy 72 up over the mountains through Fish NFS which was a mistake. We met the plows and it was not to bad but as we got higher is elevation it was completely covered and going up a steep hill I could not pull the 5th so we had to stop and put it in 4 x 4 high range and fortunately we had no problem going up the hills then. Toward the top it was just under 9000 feet and drifting and poor visibility. It was fortunate the plows had been through as already it had drifted in some. We did OK coming down in 4 x 4 and shifted to 2nd and once to low just to be extra safe and had no trouble holding things. Things really were a mess with dirt and snow and ice all over everything. That is the worst snow be far we have pulled in. It is nice to no if you go to 4 x 4 and go slow you can pull and control things going down hill. We went about 20 mph for a lot of the way. No one passed us and we met about 3 or 4 vehicles after we met the plows. Down below 7000 feet it was dry. We found the Rochester Panel of Indian Rock Art. It is a very good site and is a petroglyph. It is about 3/8 of a mile walk one way. It is well preserved and very little vandalism. We got into Castle Dale about 1 pm and parked the 5th on a hill top along Oil Dome Road out east of town. We then drove to what is called the Wedge which looks down about 1000 feet to the San Rafeal River and at the San Rafeal Swell. It is spectacular. Coming and going we noted spots that were in Mark Willams book. It was a very helpful book for the Roechester Panel as well. We went into town and toured the museum which is very, very nice and then got diesel. I talked to Jim KJ7S who was helpful about IRLP and then the owner of 448.550 repeater which has IRLP Node # 3280 so we are set with IRLP as it is a local, stand alone repeater not linked so we can talk as long as we want as it is not used that much. The repeater is east of town on Cedar Point. We seen the towers when we drove east to the Wedge Look Out I made contact with Cliff KD7HIX and Clayton KD7STR who are twin brothers to find out about road conditions north of Vernal going over Indian Pass about 8000 feet. Cliff is going to check with a friend who plows snow for the state tonight and let me know. The weather forecast is better each day through Sunday so we need to move on north probably Friday or Saturday. I got e-mail and checked out IRLP. It is supposed to get cold tonight and still be windy. That is the down side of this good radio location.
March 31, 2005 Thursday Day 96 on the road. I talked to AC0M a heard about his lightning problems. Lynn WB0WOE left toward Iowa yesterday.
We got some water and lunch ready and headed into Castle Dale to pick up Mark Williams who I called last night and he said he would go touring with us. He has been retired since January so about 3 months. We got some groceries in Castle Dale and they were reasonable, Edith got some film yesterday for a good price. We headed out and went along side of what is called Cedar Mt. and seen pectroglphs called silent sentinal, 45 degree rock with Kokopelli a legend medicine man, railroad log(modern times 1880's), a dinosaur track, Matt Warner signature who was an outlaw with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid., Buckhorn Wash Pictograph, We also seen a single pectroglyph that Mark had on his cap, it is a nice on and is going into Buckhorn Wash Draw on the road to the swinging bridge. We seen the swinging bridge and Window blind Butte the largest monolith in the world. We then went up on Cedar Mt. and seen out to the east to Abajo, La Sal by Moab and likely Grand Mesa in CO. of course the Henry Mt. and off to the south Fish Lake Forest Mt. the way went over in the snow yesterday. In the southeast were the mountains by Blanding, UT. We had a nice picnic up on top. We then looked at some round rocks by Cleavland and then by Mark's we seen his neighbors Zebra,s and another had Waseci Cattle from Africa that have very big large, long horns. Mark told us about the coal mines, power plants, Castle Dale was supposed to be Castleville, the mountain bike trails, the ATV jamboree's, follow link at AtVutah.com, other petroglypyhs, calf canyon, cow canyon and little cedar Mt. and that the dinasaur quarry was likely where dinasaurs caught in a flood washed together in one place due to a blockage of some sort. All in all it was a great day and I have Mark's e-mail in his book as well as telephone number. We got the F-350 washed as it was covered with salt and red mud. It looks a lot better and is good to get the salt washed off. The forecast looks good so we will head north in the morning and if things go as planned be home on Monday April 4th which will be exactly 100 days on the road.
April 1, 2005 Friday Day 97 on the road.(actually day 101 corrected for when we left home not Rapid City. We were on the road at 6:38 am and had great roads all the way. There is a big pull our of Price, around 9000 feet and out of vernal lots of switch backs and it goes to about 8700 feet. Just past Vernal on Hwy 191/40 at Mile Marker 121 a store on the south side, can of convience type offers free overnight parking for RV's and Trucks. We marked it in our Atlas. I was surprised how high it is at the Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River. We had a good climb again and it is very, very high going up to I-80 on Hwy 191. There is more to see the other way on the west side if it was summer, but now everything is closed. At Rock Springs we got the cheapest diesel since Mexico at $2.24.9. We ate and since it was just 1 pm we decided to head east on I-80 since there was a Flying J at Rawlins and Cheyenne WY. I called on several repeaters but no response.
As most Flying J's it takes some time but we got fueled up for a new low $2.17 a gallon. I suspect it may be higher in NE and SD because of more tax but we hope not. We got parked at a pretty good spot but it seems the truckers always have to run their trucks, I suppose they get cold but I though a lot of them had propane or other type of heater for the sleeper rather than running the motor. I got and sent E-mail and tried IRLP and it works great. I will try Flying J's wireless internet in a bit. We will have a short trip to Scottsbluff tomorrow.
April 2, 2005 Saturaday Day 102 on the road- The wireless connection worked good and I talked to N0ABE last night and got a good weather report for heading home and another good one from Floyd WB0MZB this morning. The IRLP works good here in Cheyenne. It was noisy from the trucks so used ear plugs and that helped a lot. We slept good until about 4 am and then just a few sort naps. We got up about 6:30 and were ready to go in short order. It was in the low 40's so the warmest morning we have seen I think since leaving Mexico. We checked out Sierra Trading Post at exit 264 but the did not open until 9 am. We got south of Scotts Bluff and went east to Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock and then came back northwest along the North Platte and stopped at the visitors center for Chimney Rock. We should of shown our NPS pass as it cost us $3 each, oh well it goes to a good cause. We read all the history signs along the road. This is the site of the Oregon Trail, Morman Trail, Pony Express and trails leading north to the Black Hills so there is a lot of history here. We went the the Scotts Bluff NM and seen a good slide show, looked over their museum and then hiked to the top of the bluff about 2 miles one way. It is and interesting hike going up the side on a switch back path, taking a tunnel through the hill and then switch backs up to a flat area on the south side and then more switchbacks to get clear up on top. A well engineered path. You can drive up and the highway goes though 3 tunnels and you can walk the the same area we were and also another to the south. Back down we went northwest of the visitors center though Mitchell Pass where the Oregon Trail went through for a number of years. There is also a path around the most of not all the monument for hiking. I don't know about bicycles but I think so. No bikes on the trial to the top but you can take your dog on a leash. We then got diesel and then came to Wal-Mart and did some shopping, got permission to park and check .339 but could not hear anyone and got our e-mail and checked IRLP from here and it is working great. Tomorrow we will go to the Agate Fossil NM, they are supposed to open at 8 am so we will be there by then or shortly after. We should be right on our plan to be in Salem on Monday.
April 3, 2005 Sunday Day 103 on the road. We got a good start out of Scotts Bluff. We went over to Mitchell, NE and then north to Agate Fossil Bed NM. This is the only place where this many fossil have been found in the USA of this age. There was also a lot of Indian Artifacts from Mr. Cook who owned Agate Ranch near by and first found the fossels and were friends with Red Cloud and received lots gifts as they trusted him. He let them do their ceremonies on his land where they had done so for centuries and he also gave them beef to eat. We then had a good trip back to Platteand stayed at Delmer and Ruth's. We need to do some things for my Mom tomorrow.
April 4, 2005 Monday Day 104 on the road. We took care of things in Platte and got groceries in Mitchell and go home a little after dinner.