Nov 17, 2019

A busy day

We did take it slow today but did need to set up our dust screen.  It was an overcast and humid day with scattered rain showers which meant we got no dust as the sand road is damp.  I can tell you that we have Shaw TV, only 80%yellow.  No one has green.  We also set up our water connections and the sewer.  Despite being cooler at 83F, the 68%humidity wears you out.

We got the inside of the RV cleaned ( vacuumed and dusted ) last night before dinner.  Today I put a few things away.  It is going to take time.

It is a long weekend here and the beach has been full all day and the waves are huge.  Likely there is storm out there somewhere.

I really did intend to complete the travel portion of our trip but I am too weary to deal with editing photos and dealing with the correct facts.  So I am going to do what many of you suggested in the comments and take it easy 😀


Nov 16, 2019

The proper post for Friday, November 15th

This is what I should have published last night but it took me over 2.5 hours to write it today.  Impossible to have done this last night.  This is post is about driving from the Fletcha fuel station ( Guaymas/San Carlos area ) to Pemex 3970 at KM 75 which is 74 kms north of Culiacan.

We slept very well at the Fletcha fuel station, most of the trucks shut off their engines. At 7am it was 68F inside.   We did not want to leave until later because we only wanted to arrive as the sun was setting due to the heat.  Colin picked me up a coffee from the now open Oxxo.  Even though I react to too much caffeine I needed a treat. We were driving at 9:20am.  By the way, you save 20 miles each way by not driving to the Totonaka RV Park where the electricity is very iffy.  We never ever plug in there.

The only military vehicle we have seen while in Mexico as we drove to the Isla.

The way out was the way we should have come in the night before. The Fletcha is at km140 and the station is on the left. Stay in the right lane and take the returno. That will take you under the overpass directly to the Fletcha. We went over the overpass heading to Guaymas.  FYI there are no signs at this point mentioning San Carlos. We just kept going in the dark until we found a returno that had us going back towards the Fletcha. We turned into the gated lot and the guard after signing us in asked for a propina. I only had a twenty peso note but that was not enough. I found a further 20 pesos in change and we were in for the night.

To leave this morning ( yesterday, Friday ) we went to that returno and turned left putting us back on 15 heading south.  Very easy to figure it out during daylight.  The only toll booths in Sonora that are collecting are the very first one before Mexican customs and the two bypasses. All of the toll booths remain manned by staff who appear to be punching in the amount that should have been collected.  I wondered if the locals who have taken over the booths go home at night.  Perhaps tolls are collected then.

A local is standing at each booth with a container to collect donations. I suggest having a lot of small change to drop in.  Sometimes l only gave 6 pesos but no more than 10 pesos.  At km 58 – 59 @ Estacion Oroz locals have set up a fake tope and were collecting donations.

The roads at Vicam are in extremely poor shape. There was no large blockade today but I read that there had been a semi being used to block the way a few days prior. They only were looking for a donation.  Better to give a few pesos and move on quickly. Go slow through here as there are a few marked large topes but some are not marked.

Locals blocking the road to collect donations.

At the large Yaqui statue at about km 13 locals have created quite the blockage.  There are a lot of people and they’re actually using barrels as blockades. I gave 10 pesos as I was running out of cambio. Not more than 300 meters further there was a semi blocking the road and I had to pay again.  Pay attention as the next right turn is the beginning of the C Obregón bypass also known as the Navajoa cuota. This toll is based on the number of axels and we paid 318 pesos. This bypass replaces two tolls that take you through the city. Based on the last time we took those two tolls we paid 454 pesos so the bypass is a good deal. However having said that,  because no one is officially collecting those tolls you can save money but not time by going through C Obregón.

They are very serious at this blockade.

Two things to note, is that if you use this bypass the next fuel station is in Navajoa. So be certain that you have enough fuel. The second thing is that there is a new stop sign at the entrance to the highway.  There is no merge so be very careful.

Good thing that they could not see how much money we donated.  Just after here is the right turn to the bypass.

The Green Angels are patrolling Hwy 15. If you have a breakdown you can call them by dialing 078. There is a large unmarked tope not far from Pemex 1262. We only noticed it because someone was standing next to it selling stuff. For those who stay at the Pemex at km 75 it is only another 186 kilometres to go from Navajoa.  Last year we filled at the truck stop in Navajoa and where disappointed to see that the fuel there was more expensive than at the km 75 Pemex. This year it is the reverse, diesel at Navajoa is 21.87 and at km 75 it is 22.29.

A huge bug splat.

Our dash air conditioning was not blowing cool and by the time we drove through Navajoa it was blowing warm. So much for the repaired dash air conditioner that we had done in Lake Havasu.   It was repaired exactly one week ago and we only used it for two days.  My worst nightmare is driving in Mexico without A/C. We don’t  even have the generator so that we could not run the roof  air conditioners which we have done in the past.  This is a first. We had two large class A’s behind us, one from BC and the other from Alberta.  Not even so much as a wave as they blew by us. Colin is sticking to 55 mph today, his normal speed.

Keep your eyes open after Navajoa. There are new signs for new larger topes and there are some smaller unmarked topes.  There are several smaller bridges along here and as you drive scan ahead to see the signs of others having repeatedly bottomed out.  That is a good sign to slowdown over that particular bridge. We were airborne a few times until Colin figured it out and slowed when he saw all the black marks on the bridge.   The road is okay after the toll booth.  Around km 94 there is a tope followed by an unmarked tope.  I did not record every time this happened but those I mentioned were noteable.

This is why it is not wise to drive at night here in Mexico.  To be honest there was someone nearby to keep an eye on the cattle.

The rough roads we experienced last year before Sinaloa are gone although there are a few bad spots. Go through the car lane at the Fitosanitorio Inspection Station.  They will move the barrel and wave you through. The roads in Sinaloa have been repaired and are good to Los Mochis.

Quite the ride.  El Jefe means that he is the boss.

At 2pm I noticed a bee crawling on the carpet towards me. I used a Kleenex to pick it up and sent it out the window, just the insect, not the Kleenex. At least I thought that I had released it outside.  Not five minutes later Colin got stung on the chest. He picked it off and threw it down and stomped on it.

Colin is applying a cold can of coke to his chest.

Very hot inside at 92F in the back and much hotter in the front where we were sitting in a sauna with the sun shining through all that  glass. Of course we had our driving windows open and despite the bees we also opened the screens for better air flow.   All of the other windows are flip up and you can’t drive with them open. I did have the Fantastic fans running in the kitchen and the bedroom.  With the sun on the solar panels we were able to do this.

This is how I kept cool, by rolling a cold wine bottle over my shoulders, chest and back. I then changed out that bottle  for a cold one once it warmed.  I also had one cold gel pack in the freezer that I was able to use.

The toll booths were extra slow here in Sinaloa and while in line I was able to quickly assemble tuna salad ( pre made ) sandwiches while waiting to go through the toll just before Los Mochis.  As we drove on I found it difficult at times to know where we were.  There is a lack of mile/kilometre markers plus so many of the Pemex’s have been taken over by other fuel companies that my road log is of no help – no Pemex numbers.

At least all those bottles were empty.

As we drove through Guasave Colin commented that we might need new airbags. My heart sank as we just replaced the back ones a few years ago. He said that ever since entering Mexico he heard a hiss of expelled air with each tope we crossed.  Later he sent an email to our contact at Freightliner back in Kelowna. Surprisingly we got a quick reply at 6:30pm saying that the new piece they put into the airbag back in the Phoenix area was likely causing the hiss and that it was normal.

Glad that those are not our tires.

The roads before km 75 have been repaired and patched but we still had some slow going 35 mph sections. Perfect timing as we arrived at Pemex 3970 @ km 75 with the free wifi about 5:10 pm just as the sun was setting.  Filled up with diesel and parked and opened all the windows. Still 92F inside and we were wrung out from the heat. I found another bee crawling near my driving window. He is no longer in this world. No idea where they’re coming from as our screens are closed unless we needed the air as we have been, driving the past few days in the extreme heat.

The sunset from the Pemex at KM 75.

Still 81F inside at 7:30pm.  Time for cold showers.  We didn’t have much of an appetite nor did I have the energy for the meal I had planned so for the second night in a row we had cheese quesadillas.  I did a short post which was my last blog post and we were in bed by 10pm.

Red, white and blue.  So very many trucks last night but they were quiet for the most part.

Just to let you know that we arrived back here on the Isla at 2.25 PM today, Saturday.  This was after Erik removed our generator.  Very hot and humid here. We are well, it has taken me until 7:30PM to cool down.  I think that my blood must have been close to boiling.  The que pasas of today will be my post tomorrow.  Thanks for sticking with me thus far.

Our first Isla sunset. So very humid at 61% and 82F at 8PM. So grateful for the air conditioning that we are paying for.


Nov 15, 2019

Well we thought it would be a good day

However by 11AM we had no dash air. It was only seven days ago that we had the dash air redone in Lake Havasu.  Obviously it did not work.

The temps in the back of the RV were 92F.  I refused to measure the heat in front with the sun coming though the big windshield.  My side of the coach was in full sun all day.  We did make it to our overnight destination at Pemex 3970 @ KM 75 which is 74KM north of Culiacan.  However we are both totally drained.

All I can say for today is to watch for unmarked topes, and there were many and to drive the speed limit and no more due to the road conditions.

We are up early and driving at 6:30AM re a rendezvous because of a mechanical issue.  I will be sure to do a full update re today with details by midday tomorrow.

I feel bad for those who are coming behind me tomorrow but I have to look after my heath issues first.

Thank you for following along.  It has finally cooled to 80F inside and I need to sleep.


Nov 14, 2019

We finally made it to Mexico

Woke up at 6:30AM to 50.5F. Brr.  We were backing into the shop bay by 7:45 AM.  Hector, the mechanic who worked on the RV all day yesterday started rechecking what he did yesterday and retightened all the bolts, rechecked the hoses and then ran the engine for a while.  He even layed under the engine and radiator to check for leaks.  We were then moved out of the bay and the engine was power washed to clean all the oil off of it.

The bill was paid and we hooked up.  Accu – Trac went above and beyond.  They communicated with us every minute of the day.  We always knew the que pasa of it all.  The final bill including the cost of the radiator was $2053.31USD.  A very fair price and wonderful people.  Nice to have someone in the US who can do our work.  They can be reached at 520 574 8012.  David is the owner and Art is the manager.
We were driving at 9:40 and returned to Accu – Trac five minutes later.  An engine light came on that we had never seen before. Art checked it online on the Spartan website and it came up about water in the fuel.  After much discussion it turned out that the power washing was the likely culprit.  The sensor is in the fuel filter which is at the back of the engine which was the area that the engine had been power washed. Diving again at 10:00AM and all was well.

Such cute bus stops in Tucson.  The purple arm on the right looks like the cactus on the left.

Picked up our final fuel at the Pilot, exit 12 off of I19.  Cash is cheaper than credit but if you use the car pumps it is another .06cents less.  However we would not fit. Driving again at 11:30AM.  Everything seemed to be taking so much time.
We crossed the border at 11:40AM.  There were three border guards standing at the crossing for RVs as per the “More Golden Years” blog post but they totally ignored us even as we came to an almost stop, so we carried on.

Narrow road at the Mexican Customs just after the first toll, but if we can do it anyone can.

For the first time ever were not asked for our passports at the Mexican customs stop.  She only wanted the registration for both the RV and the Jeep.  She came into the RV and walked as far as the bedroom, turned around quickly and asked where we were traveling.  I almost blurted Mazatlan.  Always, always say San Carlos, which is not a lie as that is likely your first stop. I think as it is in the free zone, less questions are asked.  We were not questioned about alcohol nor did she ask to check our VIN number, yet another first. She did ask Colin to open the trunk of the Jeep and looked inside only a moment.  Were there less barely five minutes.

Silver bullets  as I call the round silver mini vibradores and then a large tope just at the end times 2 sets just before KM 21 and again three sets  just after KM 21.

VERY sharp drop-off to KM 21, if go turn in to the left closer to this sign, it is not as bad.

Steep drop off coming out of KM 21.  Colin was concerned about this one, but take it very slowly and at an angle and you will be fine.

We arrived at KM 21 t 12:10 and found huge line up.. Only one agent working.  There were 2 RV’s here.  One from Vancouver Island and another from Utah who happen to also be traveling to Tres Amigos RV Park.  Sadly neither of them were prepared in my opinion for what was ahead.  No knowledge of lack of RV Parks, the bypasses, Sim cards and more.  We were on a time line and I just could not stop and help. Finally driving again at 1:15PM.  Stopped for 10 minutes to get my Telcel working at the second Pemex and on we went. It was here that the brake buddy would beeped and then would not rest so Colin just disconnected it so that we could proceed.

First time in 22 years have we seen a line up like this.  But then we usually go through about 7:30AM.

I made egg salad sandwiches as we drove.  I had already calculated that we were likely to be arriving in the dark and we wanted to avoid that.  We normally drive about 55MPH but Colin speeded between 60 -63 MPH.  We can’t go faster than 65MPH towing the Jeep. However we did not want to arrive in the dark so we pushed it just a bit. Just before Hermosillo I became ill and as we drove I seemed to go into shock.  I was numb and rubbery all at the same time.  I really think that my body was reacting to the last few weeks of mishaps and breakdowns.  Now that I was back in Mexico I let go and my body reacted.
The Hermosillo bypass is very well marked and if you see the video and take a few notes you are good to go. There are some new huge brown signs telling you which way to go.  Very easy to navigate. You get back onto HWY 15 at KM 237.  Sadly our dash A/C was not very cold but it did help.  Perhaps we have a leak.  We will get Erik to check that.  We only have two more hot days to go?. The bypass toll is based on the number of axles you have so four was 250 pesos.  Worth every penny in our estimation.

The sun set behind the mountains about 5:30PM and then it got darker by the minute.

We were aiming for the Fletcha fuel station ( formerly Pemex ) at KM 140, the exit to San Carlos.  By the way, there was no signage for San Carlos.  The Fletcha  station was to the left and we should have taken the returno exit once we saw the station. Instead we carried on towards San Carlos before we could turn around.  By now it was 6:05PM and it was dark.  Not fun at all.  Finally got to the Fletcha ( thank goodness for Colins wonderful driving and faith in another returno).  We saw the RV form Utah fly past us on the way to C. Oregon, hope they are alright. This fuel station is gated and has a guard wearing trousers and a white shirt.  You have to write your name on the form, telephone number and email address and then he asked for a propina ( tip ).  Colin asked how much and he threw his arms in the air so we gave him 20 pesos ( the only bill that I had that wasn’t 100 pesos ) and he said more/mas.  So I found 20 pesos in change and he was happy.  We feel very safe here.

Parked for the night next to this happy driver.

Here we are for the night surrounded by semis but it isn’t so very loud.  So happy to be stopped and here in Mexico.
 It is 9:40PM and by working on this post I have relaxed and feel more like myself.  It has finally begun to cool down and is only 78F inside.  I think that we will sleep well. Guess what I’m making for dinner?  Cheese quesadillas of course 😀


Nov 13, 2019

Sadly we are still here in Tucson

I have a small update from the Isla, the noseeums are very bad so be sure to bring “a lot of the good stuff” referring to bug spray.  I brought enough Vitamin B6, 100 mg, to take one per day to help stave off the mosquitoes and the noseeums. Something new.  Hopefully it will work.

Another chilly morning here in Tucson @ 53F.  We were driving separately at 7:20AM and arrived at Accu-Trac on the dot of 7:30AM as they opened.  The owner was just behind us and took Colin into the office and checked him in.  By 7:50AM we were backing into the shop.  They did some fiddling removing the vent, etc in order to get closer to the radiator.

Lady, the company mascot. She is five and ever so friendly.

However a semi came in and everyone rushed over to do what needed to be done.  He was soon gone.  At 9:25 they started a combustion test to check that the engine does not have a crack where combustion gases can go into the water jacket. A double check on what Cummins had done November 4th, only this time the engine was running.

The test result shows that our engine is good.  If the water was yellow it would have been bad news.

Not a lot of space to work with.

A fellow worked non stop from then until noon when he took an hour for lunch. Colin headed out to Walmart to buy noseeum protection. The shaking and pulling started again at 1PM.  It seems like the radiator did not want to come out. He pulled and rocked the RV over and over.  Finally two other guys came over and at 2:10PM the radiator was expelled.  I felt like I had given birth.

Taken out with the radiator in the case.

The old radiator.

It does take a lot of space.

The new radiator before being placed in the case. By 3:30PM it was back inside but there was still a lot of attaching of hoses and connections plus a reinstall of the charge air cooler.

Meanwhile Hector arrived a few hours late but he did show up.  I had been concerned about the hot sun beating on the window all morning but he worked under a small filter of some sort.

Turns out it was a UV filter that stopped the sun’s rays from hampering the process.

He never stopped talking for one minute.  He was explaining to Colin about the new Hermosillo bypass and what signs to watch for and said that it was tricky. He talked about Mexico, family and lifestyles, etc.  He was born in the US and only spoke Spanish for the first six years of his life.  A very personable fellow who knows his trade.

That round black thing on the left was a UV light.  Look at those eyebrows.

Hector did a great job for $75.00  It truly appears that he does have that magical touch.  Hector is the manager for Tony’s Auto Glass here in Tucson, 520 889 2422 and his personal cell is 520 444 8870.  As he left he mentioned that he might be able to get a windshield here in one day.  Wish he had mentioned that on Monday 😕  Perhaps it’s because he and Colin bonded.

As did Lady with Colin.  She loved to have that ball pulled from her mouth and thrown, over and over and over.

By 3:10 the new rad was being put into the old case.  I was starting to droop as it was 88F inside the RV.  We are mostly out of the bay and in full sun.  I am beginning to feel like a blob.  I haven’t even moved 1000 steps today. I need to get walking on that beach.

I caught my first Arizona stink bug here in the RV. They are about half the size of what ours are back home.

So here we sit at 3:45 waiting. They are not certain that they can finish tonight. It took much longer than anticipated to get the radiator out. They close at 4:30PM. Meanwhile at least we have wifi.

They worked until 5:15PM bolting it all together and the mechanics went home. We pulled out of the bay about 5:40.  Had to wait for a tow truck to drop off a truck. We were locked in the yard by the owner.  I asked for the code to the gate in case of emergency.  Colin already had the tow hitch and tow shield on the car. There was no point in taking that all off just to go for dinner.  I had been dreaming all day of driving to the Desert Diamond Casino and parking there for the night.  We would have each signed up for their rewards cards and received $10.00 to play the slots and $10.00 towards dinner. Truly I saw this as my reward for the last two weeks of stress.  Twas not to be.

Putting it together so that we could move the bus out of the bay.  The fellow on the right is the one who worked all day on our radiator.  He kept sneezing.  I really hope that it is only allergies.

The owner was surprised when I asked for a 15AMP cord.  Turns out that they run off a generator and inverter.  He could not believe that we had no generator nor batteries.  Actually neither can I.  It is going to be a long night.  Oh, I asked him to please leave the internet turned on.  Good thing I did as he usually shuts it off.  We are living with the slides in due to not enough power and are using one low voltage bulb put into our regular overhead socket. It did feel a bit lonely after the owner left at 6:10PM.  There aren’t even any yard lights on.

Anyway they need another 60 -90 minutes in the morning to do tests and such which is an excellent idea.  We don’t want to drive an untested radiator.  Especially not with our track record.

So here we sit listening to two howling dogs in the distance. Time for brie, cranberry crackers and wine.  Dinner won’t be so elegant but I will come up with something.  We do have a fridge full of food 😉

Beautiful from what I could see from here. Time to publish before we run out of power.

Mexico update by Ferne regarding Pemex 4925 in Los Mochis which is fenced for security.

I am so mad I could spit!!! Last year when I overnited at the common to us spot in Los Mochis. Someone CUT both of my bikes off and stole them!!!! It had to be a truck driver , the only people who would carry such equipment. In my generosity, I hoped someone else needed them more than I.

So this year, I had replaced both bikes, one an electric, one a pedal bike, new bike rack, new non cutable cables etc., you couldn’t get them off. The night before last I was in the same place in Los Mochis….supposed to be secure with a chicken wire fence and a SECURITY GUARD……… the bikes are there, but someone STOLE the 2 SEATS from the bikes. Both seats were not stock, new ones, costing 50 bucks each…..   GONE………. Most of us who come that way, think we are secure in the lot, we are not.

Had to be stolen by the truck drivers     so beware !!!!!    





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