Thursday, November 29, 2012


The first thing we had to do our second day in Mexico was to get gas. We were pretty much riding on fumes when we arrived into Santa Ana. Not one of our better moments. Not having picked up pesos and not driving through many towns meant that we didn't get gas along the way. Something to do much differently next time.

Anyway, getting gas is no big deal - usually - but in Mexico at the Pemex stations we had been warned about the possibility of the station attendant finding a way to make a bit of extra cash. They MIGHT do this by either not zeroing the pump or claiming you didn't give them the amount of pesos that you did. 

The trouble for us is that Derek is easily distracted - VERY EASILY distracted. A PERFECT target. So, we decided that our plan would be for both of us to get out - lock our doors of course - and both stand watch at the pump. 

I know, it sounds like a bit of an ordeal - right?! Well, the first time went just fine and so have the times since. In the end it was all about getting over the hurdle of the FIRST Pemex station visit. 

Nothing special about a Pemex station they are everywhere down here - this just happened to be the first one we visited on this here our first trip to Mexico.

Of course we were thrilled with the price of gas! 82 cents a litre! That's about $3.10 a gallon.

The plan for our second day in Mexico was continuing our trek south. At Santa Ana we got on the number 15 south - a toll highway. Our destination was San Carlos - approximately 310 kms (193 miles).

Much of this stretch is under construction making the roads at times fairly dicey and VERY narrow. Hard to see - so I added lines for you - but for about 100 kms Derek had to make very sure that he didn't go to far to the right - the drop offs were HUGE!

We went through our second toll booth just north of Hermosillo - the cost for us - thankfully treated as an automobile, was 65 pesos, so about $5.00.

Sorry! Only one picture going through Hermosillo. 

Since this was our first large city to drive through we were holding our breaths a bit. I didn't take many pictures as I was navigating. Thankfully we also have the Bell's West Coast Road Log from On the Road in Mexico - it gives step by step directions on how to get around the city. 

The only problem was ME - I'll tell you that before Derek does. At one point I had my head so far into the road log and not reading the signs that I almost sent us right into the downtown!!! Thankfully Derek was still reading the signs and expertly maneuvered us into the lane we needed.

Note to Self: Look UP once in a while!

We did it!!! Now south of Hermosillo continuing towards Guaymas and San Carlos.

A crash course on driving on narrow roads.  Not much room to spare! 
And everyone says that Baja roads are narrow!

Now it's our turn to pass.

Just before Guaymas we turned off at the 133 km marker heading west. 

We had decided to spend the night at the Totonaka RV Park. It seems to be THE place to overnight on the way south. Thankfully the Church's Mexican Camping book also provides directions to the RV parks listed in their book.

Sorry - I forgot to take a picture of the entrance!

We were parked towards the back....

..... and right beside the washrooms and SHOWERS! yaaaaa for showers!

The park was still fairly quiet but quite a few large rigs. Funny - we are small but fairly intimidated driving through Mexico. But you drive into an RV Park such as this and see all the LARGE rigs and you wonder what are WE worried about!

It was a fairly overcast day but warm. Our site at Totonaka was 300 pesos - about $24.00. A bit steep but we knew that going in, at least it was only for one night. 

It didn't take us long to get to the beach! Our first beach walk since last January in Texas. 

Unfortunately the beach is fairly rocky and the flies were the worst!

Cassia still managed to have some beach fun.

Obviously I have to work on my picture taking. I realize now that I missed some stuff. We decided to go out for dinner that night at the restaurant beside the park. The words - free margaritas - MAY have had something to do with that. We enjoyed a nice dinner listening to music - three fellows singing and playing their instruments. Derek had marlin tostadas and I had the chile rellenos. 

It was a good day - we were starting to settle in a bit on the roads and were again happy with ourselves and each other that we had managed to reach our destination once again. 

Totonaka RV Park is located before San Carlos, which we didn't actually visit. After the long drive we were happy to be parked and the next morning we headed straight back to the toll road. I suppose we should have toured a bit but in the end we didn't. Itchy feet I guess.

Hasta luego!


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: We don't have a house nor can we collect stuff, but that doesn't mean I don't like to look! For all you home bodies at there and those that LOVE to look at super cool stuff - Brit + Co is for you! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Sunday morning - no, not last Sunday morning - the Sunday before that .....we were up bright and early.

I'm not really sure that Derek and I slept all that much, it was a big day for us. We've been thinking about traveling in Mexico for a few years now so it was still hard to believe that we were actually doing it. Plus - with all the paper work that had to be done during our first day we were a bit nervous.

By 8 a.m. we were ready to go. As mentioned in the previous post, to get to the border we just had to drive around the corner.

The view going into the border.....

and, looking back at it. It was a green light for us!
Just to the left is the location of the immigration office. We found it the second time!


Gracias! Thanks! 

Our first stop was the Migracion office just inside the border to pick up our tourist cards (FMT), and I mean JUST inside. We ended up driving right past it and had to turn back around when we realized we had gone to far. A nice BIG sign would have been helpful - but asking one of the locals worked just as well.

It didn't take to long to get our cards however the fellow behind the desk wasn't really moving all that fast. When we arrived at the office we were the only ones there, by the time we left there was a family headed to San Carlos for the week and a couple from Boise, Idaho headed to the San Blas area for the winter. (Funny - that Boise couple is going to show up in our future - stay tuned!)

The thriving metropolis of Sonyata - a bit hard to take it all in. Plus we are trying to keep our eyes peeled for direction signs.

Santa Ana! That's our turn. Today we were taking the #2 through Caborca and on to Santa Ana - 260 kms (162 miles).

And confirmation that we really are going the right way.


All of the trucks lined up on the side of the road!

For miles......

and miles ......

and miles ......

and miles ......

and miles ......

and miles .....

No kidding and no exaggeration. The line up must have been a few hundred semi trucks - easy. And just to show how wet behind the ears WE are - when we can upon the trucks we stopped in behind them. Since we figured we were in for a wait Derek got out for a smoke. Just as he did that I saw a few cars drive by AND then I saw the driver from the truck behind coming up to the van.

We figured out pretty quickly what he was trying to tell us - so Derek jumped back in and we were off. Thank goodness that we didn't have to wait behind the trucks. Our first lesson for driving in Mexico.

The scenery is quite nice to Carborca - the desert with lots of Organ Pipe Cactus.

On the south side of Carborca we knew that we needed to stop at the Banjercito to get our temporary vehicle import permit. Since we came down a hill just before it, it was quite easy to pick out. Being a new, large, white building helped as well.

The building is very formal and again there was nobody else there. The 3 of us walked up the staircase to be greeted by a security guard who directed us to the office. Again, a very easy process. We paid for our FMTs, $22 each and vehicle permit at $49.95. 
Thankfully we are an RV so we didn't have to leave a deposit. 

Upon leaving the Banjercito office we went through our third check point - the red light, green light kind. The previous two had been green but this one was red. Perhaps it was because he was on his cell phone, but the fellow just asked to see our paperwork and where we were going and left it at that.

Another few hours and we arrived at Santa Ana. We were surprised just west of the city by a toll booth - nothing I had read mentioned a toll booth. Derek and I were nervous at first because we hadn't yet picked up pesos. Not a good idea - next time we will for sure stop in Sonoyta for some. Thankfully this toll booth accepts American.

I had read about the Punta Vista RV Park in Mexican Camping and on line. Everyone seems to know Ana and Edgar and stop as they go through. 


We were relieved to have made it through our first day of Mexico. It was a bit challenging but we were happy with ourselves that we had figured everything out. We found our first day to be a bit of a culture shock - particularly for Derek who has never been to Mexico before - except for border towns that is.

We were the first rig there but were quickly followed by two more - one from BC and the other from Alberta. It was nice to chat with others going south - Derek and I have lots to learn.....

The view from our site overlooking downtown Santa Ana. $10 per night with full hook ups.

Our hosts Ana and Edgar. We had a wonderful time talking with this couple they are lots of fun. We highly recommend their RV park as a stop and look forward to overnighting there again on our way north. Edgar even took me downtown to the bank and Derek to pick up some smokes. Now is that service or what!?

Driving in Mexico sure is an interesting experience........


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Hmmmmm, this seems like an interesting site. I stumbled upon it from another link -- Southwest Compass. It appears to be a good resource for southwest USA travel, which we LOVE to do. It'll come in handy once we head north again in the spring and for future travels.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


While in Gila Bend, we were putting the finishing touches on our plan for entry into Mexico. It isn't difficult but you need to have things ready to go. Paper work in place and at the ready, stocked up on some items and more importantly, vehicle insurance to be secured. The closer you get to the border the less opportunity you have to get what you need. As we were crossing into Mexico at Lukeville/Sonyata we knew that Ajo was our last chance stop.

We headed there on a Saturday afternoon. Entering Mexico on the Monday or Tuesday was the original plan until Kevin of Travel with Kevin and Ruth wrote that Sunday was a good day to cross the border. Since we were ready to roll that was all the motivation we needed.

From Gila Bend it is a quick trip down the 85 to Ajo. 

The drive is fairly scenic especially at one point. The problem is that we have done this route so many times I take it for granted - and forgot to take pictures. Plus it was a pretty grey day.

I guess I was also thinking about the next few days to come. We were a bit nervous about what was in store for us just getting into Mexico.

Entering into Ajo.

I also didn't take any pictures as we drove through Ajo. Poor Ajo - it seems to look worse each time we come through. It's a sad looking town with businesses closing and such, I just didn't have the heart to post pictures.

Three things had to happen in Ajo. Gas, groceries and vehicle insurance. We decided to get the insurance done first. Now - I KNOW that most everyone buys there Mexico vehicle insurance on line. But that takes a credit card - right?! So - we had the plan to stop and get ours near the border. My first thought was to get it further north - perhaps in Buckeye. But while doing my research Mexico Mike recommended one of the insurance offices in Ajo. So we decided to go with that and stopped in. 

Unfortunately we stumbled upon a MAJOR problem there. Because our van is more than 15 years old they could only sell us insurance that would cover liability on the van. YIKES! Very strange - I could purchase full coverage on line by myself but the insurance broker could not. In the end, they lent us their computer, I filled out the paperwork - used a credit card number of someone I know (Thanks MOM!), printed it out and we were on our way. 

WoW! Close one.

So, I too recommend the Ajo Insurance Center if you are headed to Mexico - and if your vehicle is newer than 15 years of course. They were very friendly and helpful - letting us use their computer was a real life saver for sure!

Right next door was the gas and the door after that the grocery store. Boy, the groceries at Ajo are expensive - I knew that from previous years. So we just purchased a few things - had some lunch in the parking lot and continued our trek south.

We had a few options to overnight. The plan was to get a very early start Sunday morning. We could have stayed at an RV park in Ajo but it is 37 miles to the border from there. We could have stayed at the Organ Pipe National Monument campground - it is fairly close to the border - but a bit steep at $20 for no hook ups. 

In the end we chose the campground in Lukeville. Gringo Pass is listed in the Church's Mexican Camping book. It was a bit of a gamble because it said that it was behind a closed hotel plus I couldn't find any info on it on line. But we decided to chance it anyway.

There was NO WAY that we were staying in that park - it doesn't even look like it is open anymore. Oh I know it doesn't look so bad in the picture and it even looks like someone else is parked there. But it totally gave us the heeby jeebies.

Instead we chose this crazy parking spot just outside of the park. We figured it was a bit of a no man's land. Stealth camping at it's finest. You can't even tell that we are just around the corner from the border. A border patrol fellow did stop to talk to us but being from Minnesota he was more happy to talk to fellow northerners then about where we were parked. He said he didn't blame us about not wanting to park in the RV park and wished us a good evening.

The good news was that when we woke up and were ready to go Sunday morning, we were about 5 seconds from the border!


And so starts our Mexican adventure.

Coming along?


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: Do you follow Nomadic Matt? Now might be the time to check him out - he's headed to Africa for the first time! Should be interesting to see how he makes out!


If you can believe.....

One of our favourite places EVER to camp is at a gas station.

I know, I know.......

But it has everything we need - a free dump, free water, free wifi, free parking and ice cream - not free.


Dinosaurs this year! The snakes and horse are out and the dinosaurs are in - just in time for Cassia's dinosaur phase. She's been glued to The Land before Time lately.

And yes, we also stopped here last spring.

Very well done dinosaurs - Cassia wouldn't even go close.


Lots of Mexican art for sale.

And look - you too can take a dinosaur home with you. For the front lawn perhaps?

We really do come just for the twisty cones!

Cassia anyway - and yes -  she DID finish it all by herself. Sharing doesn't extend to her ice cream cone.

New this year - or at least we THINK they are new - are the washrooms and showers. Ahhhh - a shower for each of us - right?! Wrong! $7 per shower. Nope - don't need a shower THAT bad - ok - I DO but not at that price!

Again we were going to spend a few days at Holt's Shell Gas Station at Gila Bend but at the last minute we decided to head into Mexico early, so we only spent two nights there. That's ok - we'll be back in the spring on our way back up.


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: I am seriously out of touch with links at the moment - I guess 5 days of no internet will do that to you. So - I'm going to give one of our true blues a shout out! You may have seen the name BlackSheep attached to many many comments on our blog - well he has a blog of his own - head over to read about the stealth camping/boondocking adventures of Voyager54.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Once our propane issues were behind us, we spent a night at the Lowe's before heading out to Buckeye Hills Recreation Area or Regional Park. If you are looking for this place the name changes depending on where you are looking - the map says Rec Area the sign on the highway says Reg Park. 

Whatever it is called it is one of our favourite camping spots - we call it up-scale boondocking.

The park is dry camping but it is free. The road is good and pretty close to the highway but far enough away to be very quite. And ..... there is hardly anyone here - even better. MAYBE two cars pass by each day.

Do you think this guy in the Lowe's parking lot was trying to tell us something - nope - I didn't think so either. Sheesh - can you get a little closer buddy!

The Buckeye Hills Rec Area is just south of the city of Buckeye - not hard to find at all. We found this spot last spring and I posted about it here and here.  I also took more pics last spring so if you are interested check out those two posts.

We had big plans of staying at Buckeye Hills for a week or even two but with the winds during the day and the very aggressive flies and bees we could only do three days. 

Our site - one place over from last spring.

Derek volunteering on glass pick up duty.

Beautiful warm evenings here at Buckeye Hills and not bad sunsets.

Let's play spot the van!

Lots of walking at Buckeye.

There are fire pits here and we do enjoy a nightly fire. A bit of a problem when we show up without firewood. Someone was nice enough to leave us some and there was also some at another site that we went to fetch. We decided against it pretty quickly when Derek turned over the wood to find this guy. Nope - we don't need wood THAT badly!

Yup - took a picture of Cassia here last spring in the exact same t shirt! 

Ahhhh - father and daughter!

A barrel cactus. 

A quick picture of our site as we were leaving. See you next time!

And so we headed back to Buckeye to restock and do our laundry before heading south to Gila Bend - another of our favourite places.


TODAY'S INTERESTING LINK: So - my BIG secret of the day is that although I am writing about Buckeye we have already been in Mexico a week. Wifi has been hard to find here but we have it now and I am on the fast track to get caught up. We have made some friends that we are traveling with - and guess what! they have a blog. So if you want a sneak peak check out the last few days with The Golden Years.

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