Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Journey Begins

Getting underway on Sunday was definitely not a piece of cake. We thought we were in good shape as far as the motor home, but as we installed the Pressure Pro sensors, we discovered a problem. The valve extender for the left rear outside tire was not correctly installed after the tires were rotated, resulting in a flat tire. We called our emergency road service, Good Sam, and they sent someone out to help us get the valve stem extender fixed. We got the tire aired up and ready to go.

This is looking towards the Tucson Mountains from the back of our site at Diamond J RV Park in Tucson.

JoAnn and Doug had to make a last minute run to WalMart to replace their walking sticks that met an untimely end when they fell off the truck somehow. Laurie and Odel stopped by to say goodbye while JoAnn and Doug were gone, and when we relayed to them the tale of the walking sticks, Odel said there were two walking sticks lying on the ground, "just over there", indicating a site a couple down from where they'd fallen off the truck. That was two of the 4 walking sticks they have. They will try to unbend the others that were damaged in the fall off the truck. With all the little problems taken care of, at the crack of 2:00 p.m. the two rigs left Diamond J and started south on I-19.

Getting close to the exit to go to the Mariposa border crossing. This is south I-19 in Nogales, AZ.

The Wishnies met us at the Shell Station parking lot for an overnight boondocking before hitting the road at 7 a.m. Monday morning. We had a pot luck meal that included salads, burgers, veggie burgers and sausages. JoAnn provided yummy brownies. We discussed last minute details and decided that the Meachams will lead the caravan to San Carlos. We parted company to get some sleep in hopes of being fresh for the journey.

I think we were all awake quite early, I'm not sure how much I slept. It was very cold this morning, so the dog walk was not very comfortable. We pulled out of the parking lot just before 7 and crossed the border.

Here we are approaching the first toll station.

Our first stop was at the location known as Km 21, where we were to obtain our visitor and vehicle permits. We trouped in with stacks of paperwork, including our vehicle titles, registrations, permission letters from our lenders, etc. First was the personal permit. There wasn't anyone else in line, so we didn't have a wait there. The gentleman behind the counter, however, was not all that proficient in English. He also didn't seem to care whether we had any passports or other identification. In spite of that, we got the personal permits, and asked about the vehicle permits. Since we were only going to places in the state of Sonora, he said we didn't need vehicle permits. I think I asked him at least 3 times to be sure. No, he assured us we didn't need vehicle permits. Well, ok, then. We could go to the bank there and pay for our permits, or go on to San Carlos and pay there. We decided to go to the bank there. We walked the half block to the bank and waited for the 2 clerks to finish with the people they were helping, while standing there shivering in the cold. Hey, I thought we were going to be warmer in Mexico! We finally got to pay for the permits. We asked again about vehicle permits because everything we read indicated we had to have at least a "Only Sonora" permit. The people in the bank also assured us we didn't need the vehicle permits.

Jim & I walked back to the motor home while we waited for the others to finish. Jo came back and said they questioned again and they were told to get a vehicle permit. With that said, Jim & I once again gathered the stack of papers and headed back over to the bank, which also issues permits. Once again, we were told we didn't need a permit. They indicated it was because we have a motor home with a car in tow and the other couples should get a permit because they have a trailer in tow. Oh, whatever.

Finally, with two couples getting vehicle permits and one not, we headed out once again. We went through a total of 3 toll booths on the trip down. Each one cost us around $10 - $12 American dollars. We stopped once at a Pemex station which is the only "brand" of gasoline in Mexico. The stations are all numbered, and many of them have huge areas for truckers and others to park. When we stopped at the Pemex, it was just to rest and get a bite to eat. We traveled on Mexico 15, directly south of Tucson and Nogales. The journey to San Carlos was about 250 miles. The road is 4 lanes most of the way, and is generally in pretty good shape. However, the lanes are not very wide, and there are no shoulders! Not only are there no shoulders, most of the time there is a very sharp drop off. It's deceiving, because if you are just looking out at the scenery, it looks fairly flat. But the road is built several feet higher than the surrounding landscape. We saw two rollovers that had just occurred. We also saw the remains of at least two other mishaps along the road.

One of the most challenging aspects of the drive was getting through the city of Hermosillo. There is no bypass all the way around the city. We did have pretty detailed instructions from the Camping in Mexico book by Mike and Terri Church. This book gives very good directions! We only had one close call when we realized we were in the wrong lane and had to move over two lanes in pretty heavy traffic. But we got over and made it through. I wanted to take pictures while we were going through Hermosillo, but since I was the "official" navigator, Jim thought it best I just watch the road!

We stopped one more time to discuss directions to the El Mirador RV Park in San Carlos and stretch our legs. We arrived at the RV park around 4:00. Our sites are together, with the Wishnies across the road from the Meachams and Dubrouillets. Not everything went perfectly with our arrival though. Fred was not able to get his truck disconnected from the 5th wheel, and Doug is having issues with his electrical power. We are not able to get our satellite tv to work. When I put in our coordinates, I get an error message saying the coordinates are invalid. Since we don't have phone service I can't just call DirecTV so, I've sent an email to them. Jo Wishnie has set us up on her interenet, so we at least have that.

This last picture is the road leading in to San Carlos. I'm sure we will have some great pictures, this is a very pretty area!

When we got set up, we walked over to the restaurant here, El Oasis. I thought the food was fairly good. We paid for 1 week here at El Mirador and then will probably do a little traveling, possibly to Bahia Kino. We don't have any specific plans, but I'm sure we'll come up with some. First on the agenda, though, is to get rested up!

1 comment:

Donna McNicol said...

What an adventure....all those little gotcha's make for a good story, after the fact. I know they can be stressful when they happen. Have a blast!!