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Old 01-05-2014, 02:15 AM   #1
PhillipsMetal OP
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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico

(Note - I made this trip last June and my excitement over my next trip finally got me motivated to post this ride.)


Its a familiar story. A guy needs an adventure to pick him up and a visit to see his high school buddy was the excuse.

So, 6 months ago I bought a motorcycle and rode it home from Sottsdale, Arizona. I browsed the forum, spent the day with dwg-Donnie in Mississippi, who was a wealth of information and I quizzed some of the veteran travelers.

May 31,2013

Finally got on the road about noon. Everything was off to a good start until I got to Louisiana and tried to enter the address for the Duck Dynasty folks into the GPS. Nothing comes up except the major roads.





I ended up in Longview, TX and spent too much time fooling around with the GPS trying to figure out where the routes were. I bought the Zuma 550 from a local rider who had ridden all over the states, so I new the maps were there and something had become corrupted. I had a SD card for Mexico, but wasn't sure if the GPS would work with it now.


June 1, 2013



Finally for rolling about mid-morning and made it to Pecos, TX. This entire area is going through an oil boom and rooms are tough to find. The Motel 6 had one room left for more than $100 and the place looked shady. Finally a found a cheap room downtown for $80 cash.



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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:39 AM   #2
Tsotsie
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This, like the last ride you did, has the potential of being entertaining too!
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:34 AM   #3
PhillipsMetal OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsotsie View Post
This, like the last ride you did, has the potential of being entertaining too!
Many thanks! The most surprising part of this trip were the preconceived ideas that were busted.
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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:32 AM   #4
PhillipsMetal OP
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June 2, 2013

I rolled out of the backside of Pecos a little after 8. Today got interesting after a couple of days of numbing straightness. The flat lands turned into a pleasant ride with some curves, trees and hills. Marfa, TX had some nice architecture and almost seemed out of place after a couple of days on the interstate.









My new GPS is a dry erase marker on the wind screen!



Made it to the border at Presidio about 1PM. Took about an hour to get through the customs process. The customs people were puzzled that I would ride all the way from Alabama to hang out in Chihuahua, but they were very nice and helpful. One of them walked me through the process, which was much easier than I had imagined it to be. After they looked through all of my stuff, the agent who could speak English helped me repack and offered to help with the other agencies if I needed help with the language. It was just like everyone described, but easier. First I checked myself into Mexico in the main lobby. Gave my passport to a guy who knocked out some paperwork. Then I went around the corner to check in my motorcycle and leave my vehicle deposit.


It is kind of amusing that there is a separate office with a young girl and nothing but a copy machine to make copies for the vehicle paperwork. At first I thought of the bureaucratic inefficiency , but then I remembered the hours of problems I had in the Montgomery, AL post office trying to get a passport with a broken copy machine in the lobby and an indifferent staff.







OJ was a typical small border town with lots of bright buildings and tons of junk for sale. Lots of hustle and bustle. There was a small money exchange right across the border and I stopped in and got some pesos. I rode down a few of the dirt side streets just to get a feel for the place, then headed south.


Another bit of good news. I inserted the Mexico SD card into the Garmin and it works! I have maps, which will be very handy since my Mexico map book did not arrive before I left and I have no other directions.








Once I left town the scenery opened up into a vast expanse of desert. A couple of tiny towns on the way out were all of the population that I saw until I got close to Chihuahua. The first mountain pass that I rode through was amazing. The ascent was windy and steep with lots of twists and turns. There were several memorials on the way up that were very elaborate. Most of them were small chapels with intricate paint and designs but one memorial was a room created in a small cave about 15 feet about the road with an ornate entrance and poured concrete steps with an iron railing. It was especially amazing considering the road is so narrow I could not turn around to get a picture.
























The ride across the desert reveals what a brutal life it is down here. The road curves around every little rise in the landscape and is a constant flow with the rolling ride interrupted several times to cross the mountain ranges. As I neared Chihuahua, the road intersected with the toll road and straightened out and was much nicer. The temperature stayed in the low 100’s for most of the day. This first leg was very remote. I spent a lot of time in the Arizona desert and this place is much harsher and more removed from civilization.

Once I topped the hill by the huge lion sculpture on the way into Chihuahua, the dark sky to the north turned brown and a good sized dust storm blew through. The traffic was already getting congested and the storm made it worse. About the time the sand settled down, the rain started.



The streets immediately got slick as glass. I was trying to follow MX-16 through the city, but there is no direct route to the highway on both sides of the city and meager signage in between. The streets are laid out so haphazardly that the GPS cannot keep up with the street changes so I am lost.



In the middle of a long stretch of road there is a red light that is there for no real apparent reason, but it turns red so I ease to a stop and try to get footing on the pavement and not slip down. The SUV in the lane to my left tries to stop, but it is too slick. I can hear him sliding up behind me and I am glued to my mirror trying to figure out an escape path when he (or she)) slides through the red light.



About the same time cross traffic is coming out of a hidden little alley and has to stop for the SUV. The SUV panics, hits the gas and does a huge power slide across 4 lanes right into a bridge abutment and thuds to a sudden stop I wanted to stop and check on them, but there is nowhere to pull over and traffic just gets worse with one lane blocked.


Traffic laws seem to be a subtle suggestion and personal space on the road is non-existent. Traffic flow seems chaotic. Passing on the shoulder, blowing through stop signs and speeding are just the norm. People seem like friendly drivers, just not real keen on following the rules. I saw several drivers throwiing back some cool ones on the road. Its Sunday so I am guessing that a lot of these people were out of the city enjoying the weekend.



Once I figured out that I was not going to find my way through town without help and was probably going to get killed in the rain, I back tracked to a filling station that had a Mexican Atlas and bought it and a local map to figure out a route. After the rain stopped and I had an idea of where to go, I set out and followed the GPS, while making some key turns that it could not react quick enough to get me there.



I finally made it out of the city and headed for Creel. Saw what looked to be a real nice motel, so I stopped right down the road and ate at a truck stop and headed back to the motel in the dark. When I went to check in, the clerk said they were not renting rooms, even though the place was absolutely vacant. My lack of language and fatigue kept me from figuring out that this was a rent by the hour place – lol. Since it looked like I was heading out into the boon docks and driving at night is my big no-no for this trip, the clerk got someone who spoke English on the speaker phone and I ended up renting a room. It was a nice place but the people working there gave me a strange vibe. All I could think of was Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:22 PM   #5
gwedo
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following along , rememder G4IT and have fun for us arm chair folk.
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:28 PM   #6
GSAragazzi
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I'm in!
Mainly bc you ride the best color on the GSA -brilliant minds think alike-.

Also
Like the idea of the dry marker on the windshield.
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:38 PM   #7
Bear Creek West
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Great start!

Subscribed!
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:31 PM   #8
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Subscribed!
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:31 AM   #9
dwj - Donnie
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Hi John!

I will be following! If you are close to Tapachula on your next trip, send me a message, maybe we can ride together.

Donnie
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:35 PM   #10
PhillipsMetal OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwedo View Post
following along , rememder G4IT and have fun for us arm chair folk.
Thanks everybody for checking it out. I felt like I was just dipping my toe in the water on this trip, but it was a blast. I met some nice folks and saw some amazing sights.

The G4IT tag was on the bike when I rode it back from Arizona, so I kept it alive.

GSAragazzi - I agree! I like the color scheme. The only thing I like better is look of some of the HP2's. The dry eraser works good even with the GPS. Its easier for me to check out a general direction at speed. A local rider who runs enduros told my about that trick.

dwj - Donnie I will certainly make the trip down to see you. I don't know if I will get that far south this time, but my next trip is going to Central America and a visit with you will be a destination. Thanks again for your help in getting here and I hope you are rolling again soon after your spill.
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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:59 PM   #11
PhillipsMetal OP
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June 3, 2013

Day 4 – I was happy to awaken alive at the strange hotel and did not sleep very well. It was a little disturbing sleeping in an abandoned hotel /motel and when I checked in there was a fellow lurking around behind the clerk who kept eye balling me. Just a strange vibe but I still felt safer there than I would have riding in the dark.



After I managed to turn the simple task of replacing a headlight bulb into an hour long ordeal, it was a really nice day. The ride to Creel was more wide open desert with some hilly parts.








Once I turned off of MX 16 at La Junta, the scenery took on more of a mountainous look with pine trees lining the hilly roads. Lots of smooth curves and some neat little towns on the way.













We were working on a job back in Alabama and a fellow from Mexico was setting some handrails and I noticed he was dipping the concrete with his bare hands. I was amazed that it wasn't destroying his hands, but he told me he roofed houses in Mexico with concrete and this job was a walk in the park.














I ended up climbing to 8,000 feet a couple of times and ended up in Creel which is close to 8,000 feet of elevation. The temperature ranged from the high 70’s to the mid 80’s most of the ride.
Creel turned out to be a fun little town with a bustling city central and town square. The center street is lined with small shops for 8 or 10 blocks and the sidewalks are filled with kids playing, dogs lying around and folks coming and going. It was a real enjoyable afternoon just hanging out.






I checked into Hotel Villa Mexicana which was a collection of cool little cabins just south of the square. The weather here is incredible. At 4 o’clock its 85 degrees. I slept with the door and the windows open until about 2 a.m. when I got cold and had to close them.











After yesterdays supper of chicken tacos at the truck stop I was ready for a real meal and the La Cabana did not disappoint. I started with some garlic mushrooms and worked my way up to some kind of chicken florentine stuffed with spinach over pasta. Everything was delicious!









I talked with the guy from The 3 Amigos (he loaded me up with so much information that I forgot his name…) and he told me of the road conditions and some alternate routes. Very nice and knowledgeable guy. His company runs tours through the canyon and I thought hard about just letting one of his guys drive me on one of the 4 wheelers – lol. Seriously, his tours look real interesting for those going to the canyon that don’t want to ride in – www.Amigos3.com


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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:15 PM   #12
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June 4, 2013

Today was the day I was heading to the canyon. My ambitious goal was to ride down into the canyon, spend the night, then ride out and head toward the west coast to see my friend. I wasn’t on a tight schedule (or any real schedule) but I do have a business to run and have to make an appearance at some point. Also the focus of my trip was to see my friend so I was already feeling a little rushed.


The main road into the canyon was only open at unknown intervals. I could risk the road down and if it was closed where the construction was going on there was a medical office there that would allow me to spend the night. With no sleeping bag, it might be a long night.
There is another option. Take a dirt road past San Rafael to Bahuichivo, then to Cerocanul and spend the night with the Munos brothers at a home on the rim, then ride down into the canyon to Urique. From there head west. Three Amigos and BoulderGuy both recommended this route. The home on the rim is the Cabanas San Isidro Lodge and is basically staying with a typical local family from what I could gather. http://coppercanyonamigos.com/


There is only one catch. There is a high road and a low road that connect San Rafael with Bahuichivo. Both stressed taking the low road, which is a tiny dirt road that turns off the highway, is not marked and easy to miss. BoulderGuy was even kind enough to send me some great and drawn maps with GPS coordinates for the turn off.



Can’t really screw this one up, can I? So I load all my stuff and head out.

The ride is a beautiful spanking new highway through some of the most wonderful scenery imaginable. I detour down one dirt road to see some attraction, get bored and head out.



And the Canyon is amazing!








I get to San Rafael and decide to grab a bite to eat.












This is one of those times when learning the language would have been a real bonus. I look over the menu and point to a picture of something that looks good. The lady smiles, nods her head and disappears in the back.



A few minutes later she reappears with a giant pack of what I guess is seasoning and starts asking me questions about it. Since the only thing I know less about than speaking Spanish is cooking, I am at a complete loss. She heads into the back and brings out a skillet of something they are cooking that looks like corned beef hash and I nod my head. So one item at a time, at 5 minute intervals, they bring a plate, tortillas, the stuff in a pan, some sauces, some other stuff. After 30 minutes I am waving my arms in surrender and they are still rounding up stuff to bring me. The table is covered. By the way, don’t pour on the green sauce – whoa, that stuff is not for the amateur.



The food is good, except for the green sauce, and I try to pay but have no idea how much. So I hold out a wad of bills and they pick through them and get paid and I threw in a generous tip and headed out.


I am still wondering what happened.





I cruise the highway keeping an eye out for the Low Road and end up at a giant road construction site that is obviously the beginning of the High Road. So I back track and finally find the Low Road, which kind of blends into the scenery.









I head down the Low Road for quite a few miles. It’s a nice ride, little bumpy with some washed out parts but nothing terrible. I come up on a truck in the road with some folks standing around, so I stop and ask “Bahuichivo?” just to make sure I am on the right road. Everybody in the group shakes their head and directs me back to the main highway and to the High Road where the construction is. They indicate it is passable on the motorcycle and better than this Low Road. Now I am wondering if I should follow the advice of the motorcycle community or the locals. One of the guys in the group is heading that way and wants me to follow him in his 4 wheel drive truck. Still unsure, I follow him to the High Road.









The road starts out really wet from the water trucks trying to keep the dust down in the construction area and it is slick. Really slick. All of the vehicles on the road are 4 wheel drive pickups and larger 4 wheel drive trucks and everybody is hauling ass. I am keeping up fine until we run into the dusty sections and then the road really starts winding up and down through the mountains. The ups and downs are kind of fun, but the curves are not. They obviously filled them in with deep layers of sand to smooth them out and while the trucks are blasting through the turns, coming and going, to maintain momentum, I am reduced to chugging along so I don’t end up as a fancy grill guard on one of these trucks. After about 8 miles the bike temp is creeping up and this route is just not working out for me, so I begrudgingly turn around and head back out.
By the time I get back to the Low Road I am worried about making it to the house on the rim before night fall, so I resign myself to heading back to Creel and saving the Canyon for another trip. I was way too optimistic on my time. The next trip to the Canyon will get a well deserved 4 or 5 days.
I am kind of bummed, but the scenery is so incredible that I enjoy the ride back to Creel, even if it was in temporary defeat.












In San Rafael I stop at a castle I saw on the way in and it is a gorgeous hotel. The owner gives me a tour and tells me how she and her brother built the place 26 years ago. I am going to have to stay here on my next trip to the Canyon. Hotel Mansion Tarahumara. http://www.hotelmansiontarahumara.com.mx/english/













I stopped at what I think was either Divisadero or Areponapuchi at a great overlook for the Canyon. The Tarahumara Indians were there selling their baskets and goods and before I could get off my bike, this tiny little girl had crossed the road and was selling her wares. I bought some stuff and checked out the incredible view. Up the hill was a complex of outdoor booths and I wandered up and had a late lunch. Another great meal.
This dog was trying its best to steal this little girl’s meal and she was equally as determined to keep it. Wish I had it on video.













Lots of Army guys out today and on the move. All of them waved and smiled.









Back to Creel and my old cabin. Check out the OSHA approved saw mill – lol.














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No bribes or bandits - My initiation to Mexico: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=945109
Back Roads To Bama ride: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=842228
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:03 PM   #13
DominusFL
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Fantastic report, really enjoyed reading it!
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:44 PM   #14
dwj - Donnie
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Check out this free Spanish Language site.

http://www.duolingo.com

It has other languages as well.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:09 PM   #15
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