Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back Home

After our short visit to my cousin in Houston, we hit the road early on Sunday morning. We watch the weather forecast along the way and try not to drive in snow or rain storms. We like to be back home after the snow is gone and the temperatures are going to be above freezing.

We decided to take an extra day to drive home. We took it nice and slow up the Natchez Trace from Jackson, MS to Nashville, TN. Temperatures were still in high 70's and dry. After spending the night south of Nashville things cooled to the 40's and rain was forecast to be following us North.

We had a little rain here and there and when we stopped in Louisville for the night, temperatures were still in the 40's. We got another early start and we beat the rain back to Cleveland. Temperatures were still in the 40's and we found some snow on the ground at home.

By Wednesday it warmed to 50's with rain so that all the snow disappeared. On St. Patrick's Day it warmed to 68oF and sunny. We got the RV cleaned up and ready to store.

This will be our last blog until next year when we are thinking of heading back to Mexico again. We drove over 7000 mi this year, so fuel and vehicle depreciation was by far our biggest expense.

View a Slide Show of the 2010-11 Trip

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Back in the USA

See Map 8

We left Neptuno Campground around 6:30 AM on Tuesday. Our plans were to make it beyond Tampico. Well, when we got to Alamo, a nice bypass of Tuxpan, we found that they are rebuilding the toll bridge. This backed up the North bound traffic for 2 miles and it was just parked. We sat there for an hour before it even moved one car. Lots of traffic was moving southbound. Finally after an hour and a half we made it. The roads to Tampico were rough but no big chuckholes. We decided to chance driving straight through Tampico instead of the bypass. We figured if anyone stopped us we would say we were going to or from the airport which is on that route.
We made it all the way to where the bypass comes back into MX-180. We overshot a crosswalk stopping for a red light but stopped well before the intersection. Just as the light turned green again a motorcycle cop rolls up and pulls us over. He says we were blocking the crosswalk and he needed to give me a ticket. He asked me to come back by his bike and kept saying I could pay him directly, I told him no, give me a ticket. He finally gave me my license back and said go. NEVER PAY A BRIBE, that’s all they want. He did ask if we drove through town, I said only to the airport and he said OK.
Even with these two stops we passed our first possible camp spot, Country Road Inn, at 2PM. Too early to stop ,so we drove to Soto la Marina where we had camped before at a Pemex. The road gets better each year and was fast with no traffic, It was now 4:15PM but the temperature was in the 90’s, so we said lets drive another hour to the big Pemex we camped at last year at the intersection of MX-101/MX-180. Not a soul around, everything was closed. Was the drug violence the problem? We found several more Pemex’s closed past this one.
We were beginning to wonder where we could stop, finally at the MX-97/MX-180 intersection there is another 24 hr Pemex, a big restaurant and a nice hotel. Not many people around, we got there at 6PM and the restaurant closed at 7PM. Turned out to be a nice quiet stop and only an easy 2 hr drive to the border.
On Wednesday, after our border crossing we went to the Trojan Battery Distributer in Harlingen, TX and purchased two new batteries for the RV. My 3 yr old batteries were shot. We then headed to the Donna Flea Market to have the place we bought our patio mat fix the bad job they did installing the grommets. The mat itself was great, as it lets the water drain through and keeps the sand out of the RV. They fixed it free while we shopped.
On Thursday we head up to Houston to see my cousin Rich and his wife Tracey and their three boys.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back to the Emerald Coast - Neptuno

See Map 8b
The Pemex station was a little noisy but we still had a good sleep. We wake up early so after a good breakfast we were on the road at 6AM. We wanted an early start since we were going to cover about 450 mi. I estimated it would take 10-1/2 hours.
We were stopped by only one Military and no police stops. The roads were pretty good until North of Vera Cruz. But the last 50 mi miles was slow and bumpy. We made good time all day as the traffic was light and there was no tie ups in Villahermosa.
We pulled into Neptuno Campground North of Casitas at 4PM. There is only one other couple here. Things were slow at the Northern campgrounds this winter. They had nice hot water in their showers to get rid of all our travel dirt.
Neptuno Campground Pool
Peggy put together a great one dish meal of chicken, problamo peppers, onion and tomatoes in a pasta with herb sauce. No cocktail hour, we left our friends at Xpu-Ha.
If we get a good sleep we will try to make it to Soto La Marina. But there is no rush so we get where we get. Hopefully we can avoid the crooked police in Tampico.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Overnight at the big Pemex near the Palenque turn.

See Map 8a
We woke up to a lot of rain so we hung around until about 8:30AM when the rain stopped. Then we attempted our exit from the campground with the narrow gate while going over a big hill.
The first thing I did was to knock over one of his concrete campsite markers. I couldn’t see it, the owner was waiting at the gate and Peggy was looking elsewhere. I’ll have a little fiberglass repair now when we get home, but it’s minor underneath the passenger side running board.
The second thing was, it is so steep and my wheelbase is so long, that my generator muffler hanger dug into the concrete but it didn’t seem to hurt anything.
So we got out OK, and unless he does some work on his electrical outlets and narrow gate, that’s the last time for us. We saw another hotel on Calle 39, Eco-Hotel Green River, on the way out of town that had a wider gate but I’m not sure what the camping arrangements are.
The traffic was light all day, the roads were dry and in good condition. One military inspection stop, more curiosity than inspection.
We got here at 4:15PM and hope to leave by 6:00AM on Monday morning headed  to North of Vera Cruz.

Heading West to Valladolid and Izamal

See Map 7
We got a nice early start on Saturday pulling out at 6:45AM with the help of Dierck who waved us up and on to the highway. It is a steep hill out the driveway with no visibility onto a high speed divided highway.
We took the fairly new road out of Tulum through Coba. It was smooth, wide and had no traffic all the way to Valladolid, it took us about two hours. We skipped stopping at the Cenote Suytun Campground and headed through Valladolid right to the prison. They make the most beautiful hammocks that we have seen anywhere. They are expensive, about $55. You could fit the whole family in there.

We were planning of spending the day in Valladolid but maybe we are getting anxious to get back to the USA. We pushed on since it was only a 2 hr drive to Izamal. Ralph & Patti, two campers we met at Xpu-Ha, told us that there is a new campground a few blocks from town at an old Hacienda called Hotel Santo Domingo. He did say the turn in their gate was tight for large rigs. But I figured my small rig could make it. It was unbelievably tight up a large bump, after much maneuvering we made it in with no more that a inch to spare. The camp is small in a goat pasture. The electricity is only 10 amp with no ground.

After setting up we walked to the Magical town. It’s one of 38 towns in MX proclaimed to have a special ambience. It’s a pretty little town with the large church built on an old Mayan pyramid in the 1500’s. The bishop there destroyed all the Mayan books but years later repented and tried to rewrite them as he remembered them.
Pope John Paul actually came here on his Mexico trip to make amends for the churches actions.

The Convent is next to a large Zocalo with awaiting tourist carriages. A second Pyramid can be seen a few blocks away.
We walked part way up in the 90oF heat but didn’t think it would be a very good idea to attempt to climb to the very top.
So we walked back to view the church with its large gold altar and the convent museum.
Couldn’t resist taking this picture of a cute little boy running by all by himself with no one in pursuit.
We sort of got lost walking back to camp so we  probably walked a mile out of our way before finding Calle 31 which took us back to camp. In this heat I estimated we must have walked 5 mi all around the pretty little yellow city. Either they got a really good buy on this paint color or it’s a popular paint color, as all the buildings near the town are painted with the same color.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eating out on our last two nights at Xpu-Ha


Peggy, Claude, Mags and I headed into Playa on Thursday for haircuts, shopping and a dinner at a highly rated Mexican restaurant called El Fogon. Turns out they have three locations all along 30th street, we picked the one near Wal-Mart since that’s where we were.

The open kitchen and the menu was almost identical to the place we had visited a few times before, Los Amigos, which is also on 30th. We decided we liked Los Amigos a little better but both were very good and reasonably priced.
Alambre with Chicken & Problamo Peppers

On Friday we headed back to Chemuyil for our last dinner with the whole gang at Pizza Leos. Tough saying goodbye after 3 months of good times. Everyone wants to come back again next year. Saturday morning we leave early morning for Valladolid and Izamal.