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.

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