Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Freedom Shores – Isla Aquada

See Map 4
After a very nice week at Villas Tepetapen in Catemaco we hit the road at 6:30 AM for Isla Aquada. There were two bridge detours on the way to Acayucan but other than a few bad places it was a good drive.

View from our RV at Freedom Shores RV Park
When we got on the Cuota we noticed that no traffic was going West back toward Vera Cruz. They said the road was closed for a while, no reason given.

We went East but the cuota was in bad shape so it was slow. I thought it would be really bad near Agua Dulce as that road washes out in the storms every year but the have put down some nice new pavement in that area. There were many bumpy stretches along the way to Villahermosa where we turned to go North.

Isla Aquada Taxi

For the first time they did not look in my refrigerator for Pork, Chicken, Eggs and Citrus Fruit at the Campeche border. They asked, and I said I had none, so they waved me on.
The numerous Topes before Ciudad Del Carmen were bad and it took almost 9 hours to complete our 330 mi journey. There was one military stop but they just asked for Passports, no search. 
We are now at Freedom Trails Campground for two nights. Price is still a high $300p per night, but nice sites on the water with good electricity. We are in the same site we have had every time we have come here. I love the little motorbike taxis they use in the little town. It was a hot day with temperature near 90oF, but no rain. We have not had any rain on the trip so far other than a few rain drops last Friday night. But last night we got a good hard rain and today, Wednesday, it is very windy. There is one other RV in the campground and they are from Mexico.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Last Day At Catemaco

My Thanksgiving Dinner

Friday was a little cooler and we hung around camp until dinner time when we walked to town with Marilyn & Bob from Austrailia. They bought a used Class-C RV in TX and are going to Panama and then back to the USA for a year. We had a nice dinner over the water at Jorge & Pepe's. Our new friends left early Saturday morning.

On Saturday I thought it would be good to bike over to a campground called La Jungla, on the other end of the lake. After a couple up good hills 5-1/2 mi later I got there only to find they would not let me in as they were getting ready to film a French movie all next month. This is the same area that they filmed Apocalypto. I think they filmed Medicine Man there also. Must be a nice jungle setting on the large lake.

Sunday we walked to town to buy a new pair on sunglasses for Peggy. She cannot find her clip-ons that she had on when we entered Mexico.

Monday John & Elsie left for Cancun, Two other campers also left. But a huge bus camper arrived. They are on their way to Paamul. I biked around some more and did some shopping at the new Bodega Aurrera, owned by Wal-Mart.

We plan to leave about 7 AM on Tuesday after a really nice week at Villas Tepetapan & RV Park and drive  to Isla Aquada which is on the coast in the State of Campeche.

See Map 4

Friday, November 26, 2010

Catemaco Bike Ride

When you walk along the Malecon in Catemaco you will see dozens of launches and boat captains trying to sell you a ride to see the monkeys on the small island in the lake. I had paddled my kayak there before, so we passed on a boat ride, We checked out the shops and restaurants instead.
I found this artist rendering of the Catemaco-Tuxtla area, I loved the detail and it gave me the idea to take a bike ride along the canal that comes out of the lake right past our campground.

The ride was good idea after the big turkey dinner last night. Most everyone one in camp and in the Casitas attended, so there was lots to eat.

The road down to the canal is a little bumpy but the path is not too steep. Peggy was able to peddle back up it  without a problem. The path along the canal has several dips and Vados but was a nice ride with some good views looking back toward San Andres. 
After about 2-1/2 mi the canal ends in a small lake where the water then plunges through a huge pipe to the power station below. We started down the hill but realized that it goes down a long way and we were not going to take that long a ride in this hot weather. So, we turned around and peddled back to camp to have a nice lunch. It would be a nice walk for those that don’t have bikes along.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catemaco–Tepetapen RV Park

See Map 3
It’s only a 200 mi drive from the Emerald Coast to Catemaco but it takes 6 hours. So we left Neptuno campground at 6:15 AM to allow us plenty of time for grocery shopping and bad roads. The roads south of the campground have improved a little and they are currently paving a section which slowed us a little. The two overpasses they have been working on for the past two years on the Vera Cruz bypass are still being worked on and getting though the intersection and on to the correct road to the Tuxtlas is still a problem.
We always stop at the Soriana in San Andres Tuxtla, it’s a really good mega-store supermarket. While shopping who pops up but Sunny & Kurt who have  Casitas at Villas Tepetapen. They hopped in our RV and saved them a bus ride back to camp. I kayaked here with Sunny last year and it was a surprise to meet her here.
When we got to the RV park we found John & Elsie there to greet us. We will be staying with them near Cancun before and after we fly back home for the Christmas holidays, like we did the past two years.
Finally more RV’s then we have seen for the entire trip so far. Catemaco is a nice destination and the campground owner is friendly and keeps the campground in great shape. Here is Gene cleaning the pool in the morning.
We probably will stay here for a week, especially after Gene confirmed that the big Thanksgiving Turkey dinner is on again this year. He improved the Wi-Fi and signal is strong, fast and free.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On the Emerald Coast, North of Vera Cruz

See Map 2
We stayed at La Pesca until Sunday morning.As usual the owner was great and made us feel very welcome, especially since we were the first RV of the season. He hopes more campers or cabin renters come or he may have to close it up, and it is a very nice place close to the town and the beach.
We pulled out at 6 AM under a bright full moon since it is a 9-1/2 hr, 380mi drive to the Costa Esmeralda. Right after Altamira, a few miles before the Tampico bypass, we saw the Transito police where they stopped us last year. So we were going slow and staying in the right lane, but they stopped us for a second anyway and said keep going slow in the right lane, no attempt at a bribe. On the bypass where you go over the highway overpass to start heading back North, another Transito stopped us for no apparent reason asked for my drivers license, he handed it back and said adios. Maybe it was a seat-belt check, who knows. Maybe it was the big stickers on my RV that says in Spanish. “Stop feeding the corruption, no bite” We never saw any military stops southbound at all.
The bypass was as bad as ever but the roads south of Tampico were much better, very few road craters. There was about 5 mi of construction south of Soto de la Marina but it did not hold us up. Traffic was light, we took our time and stopped for some oranges south of Alamo and got to Neptuno campground before 3:30 PM. No other campers, he said a few days ago there were two RV’s. Guess what? No cell service to try my new 3G stick and no Wi-Fi anywhere nearby.
We will stay at Neptuno for two nights, I looked next door at Trailer Park de Alba and it looked open but no one was there, we usually stay there but someone told us it was closed. On Tuesday morning we will head to Catemaco and Tepetepan campground. We like the friendly people there and hope that they will again have their annual Thanksgiving pot-luck dinner with the campground owner cooking up the turkeys.
I checked again and now I can connect my computer to the internet with my new card, Yea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

La Pesca - Perfect Weather for Bicycling

On Thursday it got really windy and cool in the morning, so we waited until the wind died down in the afternoon and took a bike ride to the beach. It’s only 1-1/2mi away by nice paved road and since it dead-ends on the beach there is not much traffic.

It didn’t look like the hurricane did much damage as all the palapas were still standing awaiting some tent campers.

I found out that they still have a little internet place in town about a mile away, I can’t use my new 3G card since there is no cell service in this sleepy little town.

On Friday the temperatures warmed back up to the 80’s and the wind died. So our morning ride to the beach was very easy with perfect temperatures and sunny skies. We took a nice beach walk as well. After lunch I did some writing and Peggy read her book and I biked back to town to post this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drive to La Pesca, MX

See Map 1
We awoke early and headed over to a nearby McDonalds to use their free Wi-Fi and then headed to the border crossing at Los Indios, it’s only a 20 min ride so we got there about 7AM. I think the crossing opens at 6AM but the place where you can get your FMM visa’s doesn’t open until 8AM and if you need a car permit or want to pay for your FMM that doesn’t open until 9AM. We left a few minutes after 8AM, but did not pay the visa fee, you can pay at any time during the trip at any bank in MX.

We drove to Valle Hermosa and got there to buy a Telcel 3G card for my computer so we can get internet access when within cell phone range. Too early again! The Coppel store doesn’t open until 10 AM and we got here at 9 AM. However the Bancomer bank across the street opens at 9 AM so I decided to pay for my FMM and exchange some dollars for pesos. We did a little shopping and I was first in-line at the Telcel booth. They were very helpful in buying the computer 3G stick and signing up for the service but it took an hour to do it. The stick cost about $50 and 30 days of service cost $40.

It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to La Pesca on very good roads with very light traffic. Of course there were two military stops and one customs stop along the way which went very quickly. We saw a lot of military in vehicles along the way also.

We got to La Pesca a little before 3pm and temperatures were in the high 80’s. We found that the Tropicana Campground had weathered the Hurricane that passed right over it this summer well, it looked the same as last year and the USA owner was happy to see his first RV of the season. He is very troubled that his tourism business has dried up but of course it is still very  early in the season.

The campground has full hookups for one site and if he fixes the electrical has water and electric for about 4 more sites along with 4 nice cabins. It is right on the river and about 1-1/2 mi to the free ocean beach camp sites.

We awoke to a very windy morning and temperature about 70oF, there is no cell service here so I had to bike into town to post this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Entering Mexico Wednesday Morning

We spent 4 nights with the Priem’s in Houston. Rich & Tracey and their three sons, Cade, Dane & Finn really entertained us. We took a couple of short bike rides. Rob Hammond drove all the way down from Austin to be with us for a Sunday evening Mexican dinner with an entertaining singer. Tracey’s parents stopped over for a great Salmon dinner on Monday.  We left around 9:15AM on Tuesday morning to drive to San Benito, TX a few miles south of Harlingen to have a early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Longhorn Bar-B-Q . We got there around 3:15PM which left Peggy plenty of time to shop at the Mall in Harlingen before retiring for the night in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot with several other campers also heading to Mexico. I‘m posting this from a nearby McDonalds early in the morning. We will cross at Los Indios.

Wednesday’s plan is to stop in Valle Hermosa to see if I can get a 3G phone card for my computer from Telcel, get some pesos from an ATM machine and head to the little town on the coast called La Pesca.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Extra Day on The Road

Since we got started on our trip a day early we decided to visit Sabine National Forest in Texas on the border of Louisiana.  Its on Toledo Bend Reservoir, the fifth largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

At this time of year the beautiful campground was virtually empty. Big wooded sites for $4 per night. It's supposed to be one of the best Bass fishing lakes around. We could see why since the lake was down about 4', probably a winter drawdown, all you could see were trees in the lake.

We got to Houston after lunch to spend a few days with my cousin Rich Priem and his family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Road Again

As Willy Nelson sings we are "On the Road Again". We got packed up and took a look at the forecast for beautiful warm sunny weather heading to Houston, so we left at 6:15AM Wednesday morning. We got to our favorite Wal-Mart--Sam's club overnight stop in Jackson, TN on I-40.. They even have free Wi-Fi this year. We got here about 4:30 PM and had a burger at Steak & Shake.
We should arrive late Thursday in Houston, everything is running well and traffic was not too heavy. We will visit Rich & Tracey Priem and family for a few days before heading to the border city of Harlingen, TX, another Wal-Mart stop.

Here are some family pictures I took at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We leave Cleveland in one week.

Getting the RV cleaned up and checked out.
Found out that black water tank valve automatic actuator was intermittent, I ordered a new actuator from Phoenix, got it in a day at amost half the price of local RV dealer. I'll put in on in warmer weather when I need to dump.

My computer crashed this morning, Dell said that my warranty had just expired and it could cost as much as a new computer to repair it. So, I ordered a new laptop computer.
Then I renewed my warranty since I could still do that. Got a better help person who says maybe your memory needs to be pulled out and reinserted. Tried that and it worked like a charm, too bad there was no error message to that effect.

But now my computer works just fine and I can play with and configure my new laptop at my leisure. It is supposed to arrive by next Tuesday.

We hope to get on the road to Houston, TX early on Thursday the 11th.
I'll start posting more regularly now.

When we get to Mexico I'm going to try to see if I can get a Telcel Internet 3G stick for the computer. Last year my friends at Xpu-Ha all had one and they said the internet service was faster than the slow campground Wi-Fi. It costs about $40/month but it may give me better internet coverage. You can signup by the month, no long term contract.