Wednesday, March 19, 2014

3 more days and we are back to the cold weather

We left Kincaid Lake on Sunday and headed for Natchez. I like the Natchez Trace National Park for a very relaxing drive North. It is a limited access parkway with no commercial traffic and no stop signs or cross roads for 444 miles from Natchez, MS to near Nashville, TN. There are three free campgrounds along the way, no power or showers. There is also full service state parks.

The trace was pre civil war trail that started out as a mail route. There are parts of the old trace that you can hike on. The parkway is 2 lane road with no soft shoulders and has a 50 mph speed limit but very light traffic at this time of year. It’s actually 60 mi. shorter taking the Trace vs. taking interstates but without any stress, trucks or traffic.


Peggy taking a hike on the old trace near Rocky Springs Campground.

We were planning on camping on Monday night at Meriwether Lewis, another free campground. But when I got on the internet at the visitor center in Tupelo I saw the weather up North would be rainy on Wednesday, so we decide to try to get home late Tuesday. We passed our camp and cut across to I-65 through Columbia, TN. We made it up to Bowling Green, KY and stopped to overnight at Camping World’s parking lot. We even found an electrical hookup.

Tuesday was cool but bright and sunny all day. It was a fast drive back home to Westlake, OH. There was still a little snow on the ground in my driveway that had been there since early January. It was sure better weather in Mexico than it was near Cleveland this past winter. Today is the first stay of Spring and they are predicting another week of cold weather.

This will be my last blog for a while, I hope you enjoyed reading about our fun in Mexico. Also remember my post about the Corona Commercial they were filming in late January? They just released the commercial.

9_GetKickin   Click the picture to see my blog about making the commercial on our beach. 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

First Week Back in the USA

We left Harlingen, TX on Saturday afternoon after filling our Propane tank and Peggy filling her shopping fantasy. We were headed to Houston to visit my cousin Rich’s family for a few days. But when it got dark we stopped about an hour short and got there the next morning after the time change for DST.

Had a nice visit, a couple of bike rides and we left Houston on Thursday morning to go to the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana and their class A campground on Kincaid Lake. We were pleasantly surprised. It had water & 30 amp power and cost only $7.50/night with our Golden Eagle Pass.


It was a little early for swimming but they have great hiking trails along the lake.


The fisherman are fishing for Bass.


Turtles are watching out for alligators.


This is the swimming area but it does not open until May.


But they opened the day-use area on Saturday and had all sorts of free activities for the local people. Kayaking, Stand-On-Top Paddling, Mountain Biking, Yoga, Science displays and ranger guided hikes to see the big Bald Eagle nest, where we caught sight of one of the eagles sitting next to the nest.


We even spotted a friendly bear.


One thing I saw, but I had no idea that they were this far North was Leaf Cutter Ants. They were walking hundreds of feet and up a tree that was just budding out near our camper. Millions of ants were heading up the tall tree and bringing back leaves and blossoms that they took underground to ferment so that they could eventually feed their young from the fungus that grows on the fermented leaves.


We ended up enjoying the park and using one of the other campers wireless signals to post this blog and get our e-mails. If you are heading toward the Natchez Trace which runs from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN this park is right on your way. It’s 150 miles NE of Houston and 90 miles west of Natchez.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Three Long Days

Heading back to the states and eventually back home.

We decided to go with our Coastal Trip Plan A. Everyone says not to go that way, but we have always gone that way, it's shorter and I have not heard of any problems this year. I like the Los Indios crossing as there is almost never a line of cars at USA customs.

So I'll give a summary of our long days and a little bit about road conditions. There was plenty of traffic, police and military on all sections of these highways and I never felt that anyone would ever attempt to hijack or bother us in any way. I would not feel any different even driving alone.

Day 1 - We left our campground at Xpu-Ha at 6 AM followed by our friends Claude & Mags from Ontario. We decided that to be able to make it back to TX in three days we needed to drive from sunrise to sunset. We made our planned stop on the West side of Villahermosa at a campground and Balneario (swimming park). We got there at 5:30PM, with plenty of daylight. It's a little ways off the highway to it was very quiet. Cost was 250 pesos, which included 15 amp electric but no ground. I always bring a copper ground stake so we could get power to run fans, but no A/C or microwave.

Day 2 - Another 6 AM start, but it was dark since we had travelled west. Traffic was light and most of the day our drive was on quotas (Turnpikes), so we made pretty good time. The roads were rough near Alamo which goes through the orange growing region where there were lots of big trucks. We made it to our goal Condado Auto Hotel near Cerro Azul. We arrived at 5:30 PM. It is a no-tell motel on one side and a small grassy campground on the opposite side. They had a couple of 15 amp outlets with 139 volts, too high for my rig. Camp fee was only 150 pesos. It was a little close to the road but I slept soundly.


At Christmas I got a dashboard camera for the RV. I’ve been recording parts of the trip and trying out its features. It records a HD 1920 x 1080 picture and looks great. It records onto a micro SD card and writes a  movie file every 3 minutes. It takes still pictures when you press a button. Here is what the campground at Cerro Azul looked like. It also has a GPS so that it records vehicle speed and location. It fills a 32GB card in about 4 hours, then rewrites old files with new. I’ll try to put together a little sample of Mexico roads and traffic when I get time.

Day 3 - Another 6 AM start but now it was really dark. I had to go slowly until it got light so that I wouldn't hit the tope's (speed bumps) or large chuck holes, it was a bad stretch of highway. After we fueled up, the sun rose and the day went well until Tampico. I always go right through town and have never been stopped, Claude has always taken the long, bumpy truck bypass. I told him to follow me and about 10 blocks into the city the police pulled us both over. I tell my story to one cop. I told him that I'm taking Peggy to the airport which is in the city and Claude doesn't know the way so he is following me. He says OK and I pull forward but the other cop is talking to Claude and he is more persistent, and doesn't want to let Claude go without a bribe. A Hispanic women from Canada stops and offered to talk to the police after I told her my story. She tells the police to let Claude go, so they relent without getting their bite and we drive on our way, we only lost about 10 minutes. We decided to take MX180 through Soto la Marina, but we found 18 miles of highway construction so we lost another 30 minutes. The next time I would take the new freeway MX80 all the way to North of Ciudad Victoria and then take MX101 back to Los Indios. It is about 20 miles longer but a much better road. If they ever finish MX180 it would then be the best way to go but they have been widening it for the past 10 years, a few miles at a time. But even with all the stops we got to the USA border at 4:00 PM. Our RV had to be X-rayed this year but Claude’s did not. That is because he lost almost an hour at the Mexican customs, returning his vehicle permits, and by the time he got there the x-ray machine was busy and he looked like a nice guy, which he is. So they waved him through.

We stopped at my favorite Bar-B-Que place for dinner and got to the Wal-Mart, for shopping and overnight camping right at dark.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Bags are Packed, We are Ready to Go

I haven’t blogged for a while since how many doing nothing and how many hanging out on the beach pictures can you take? There is one interesting thing. There is a couple from Playa del Carmen that drive down to Xpu-Ha, a couple of days per week and make these wonderful sand sculptures, right in front of our camp.


Above is a Dragon. Below is a Scorpion.


We have seen grasshoppers, Iguanas, Corona Beer bottle, Palm Tree and lots of other cool pieces of art that last for only a day or so.

This is the only art that Peggy & I produce.


A few nights ago we went out to eat and a real nice restaurant right on the highway called Oscar & Lalo’s. We met the daughter of the owners, who may be retired by now.







Swiss Military Vehicle

A young guy from Switzerland showed up in this 35 year old troop carrier that he converted into a camper. He is planning on driving it to Panama. His sister did the art work on the sides.

It’s 6 wheel drive 80 HP diesel, I think he can camp anywhere with out getting stuck.

Last sunrise.

Our last  sunrise, we leave tomorrow morning. 3/5 at 6 AM. Here are our trip plans back to the border; Trip Plan 8