2012 Trekking Baja, Copper Canyon

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SoosCreek, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    Day 0; Prologue

    This Ride Report (RR) chronicles my (SoosCreek) spring 2012 trip from the US Northwest to the Southwest and Mexico and back. This is my second RR as I did one last year when I took my Honda ST1300 on a trip around the US West. The link is below in my signature block.

    This trip I will be taking my 2006 BMW 1200GS and starting down the west coast again but then heading to Baja and Cooper Canyon, Mexico. There are no firm route plans and I do not have a specific timeline.

    This year I was able to coordinate a trip via Advrider with a couple of other Inmates who were interested in doing something similar for the Mexico portion of the trip. Iowa started a thread in the Trip Planning here:
    http://advrider.com/forums/search.php?searchid=15102376 and we met on April 5th in Calexico, California right across from Mexicali.

    Who Are We?

    • SoosCreek, Steve, 54, Auburn Washington, 2006 1200GS (Center)
    • Iowa, Zack, 31, Ames, Iowa, 2007 1200GSA (Left)
    • Fosdick, Matt, 40, Denver, Colorado, 2011 KLR (Right)

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    What Are We Each Doing?

    • SoosCreek started March 19th and is riding down the US West Coast and into Baja Mexico, over to Copper Canyon and around the Southwest
    • Iowa started April 1st and flew to San Jose where his GSA was stored and rode down to Calexico then into Baja, Copper Canyon and back to Iowa.
    • Fosdick started April 4th in Colorado, hitched a ride in a truck for his bike to Calexico, then rode around Baja and then rode to San Diego and trucked it back to Colorado.

    When Am I/We Going?

    2-6 weeks in April 2012
    #1
  2. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    Day 1, March 19th – 436 miles, Auburn, Washington to Bandon, Oregon

    Started out with a straight run down Interstate 5 to get as far south as I could in 1 day. I had planned to cut over to the coast right from Olympia, Washington but it was raining in the Coast Mountains and snowing in the Cascade Mountains. In between in the “valleys” it was my best chance for keeping dry and covering some distance.
    Well it probably was the “driest” route but I did incur Rain, Sleet, Snow, Hail and yes, a little sunshine. And it was COLD out there. Thank God for heated gear!

    Day 2, March 20th – 325 miles, Bandon, Oregon to Fort Bragg, California

    I have done this route before and it still very beautiful and scenic. Redwoods, ocean, etc. Weather was only so-so as it was cold and a little wet. No traffic. Stayed at the same hotel and crashed early.

    Day 3, March 21th – 250 miles, Fort Bragg, California to Gilroy, California

    Headed down Highway 1 all the way to Bodega Bay. I had not done the last section from Mendocino to Bodega before and it was extraordinary. Very curvy in and out of the canyons But there was some traffic and I was amazed at how fast the “soccer moms” in the SUVs were traveling. I even had to use some of the turnouts to get them off my ass. Had lunch in Bodega Bay and decided to go around San Francisco this time and head south. Tired of the foggy coastal weather.

    Day 4, March 22th – 435 miles, Gilroy, California to La Quinta, California

    Decided to just slab it and get down to the desert for some dinner with the in-laws. Will spend 2 weeks with the in-laws and playing golf and such. Nice to be in the warm weather. Ordered a new mesh motorcycle jacket. Shipped a bunch of stuff home.

    Day 5, April 5th – 100 miles, La Quinta, California to Calexico, California

    Ride was pretty short, but interesting. There was lots of wind along the Salton Sea blowing in from the right. Oh, and it was over 90.

    Met up with Zack (Iowa), Matt (fosdick) and Kevin (Kevin_) at the John Jay Best Western in Calexico, California. We walked over to Applebee’s for a beer and dinner, the only restaurant within walking distance. Keven_ and his wife are on a KLR but have a plan to start out later spend a couple of days in San Felipe. We might meet up in Mulege.
    #2
  3. CalgaryKLR

    CalgaryKLR Been here awhile

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    I'm in, keep it coming.....:evil
    #3
  4. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    We started the day in Calexico at 7:00 doing some last minute tasks. We got some Pesos from a money exchange station along the way just before the border and used our debit cards. It was easy and gave us some initial money to cover the next few days.

    Border crossing was very simple. They just green lighted us into Mexico without any problems and we then went to get our tourist visas as the office just inside the border on the left. No parking, busy street, but straight forward process. We were unable to pay for anything since it was Good Friday and the banks were closed. They told us just to do it on Monday and we plan on doing it in La Paz.

    So that also means we were not able to import our bikes on Friday in Mexicali as we had planned. Zach and I are going over on the ferry from La Paz so we will have to get it done there.

    We rode thru Mexicali pretty quickly and only got lost once or twice as they had the main road closed for either construction or a parade. I could not tell which. It was after all Semana Santa.

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    We rode the 120+ miles from Mexicali to San Felipe where we found complete chaos. Seems the holiday packs them in and the town was full of cars and people. We could not even get down to the Malecon to see what was what. So we decided to just get some fish tacos at a roadside stand and continue on to Gonzaga Bay. Road was pretty good and paved all the way except the last 12-14 miles.

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    We went to Alphonsina’s for dinner and a few beers. We did not plan on staying at the “hotel” but it was full anyway. It seemed like one large extended family filled the place.

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    We decided to camp on the beach and but after some trying to get thru the soft sand we camped back off the beach where the road was and the ground was solid. Piece of cake.

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    #4
  5. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    This day's ride takes off from Gonzaga Bay, passes by Coco's Corner and end in a Yurt in San Ignacio.

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    Pictures from the road between Gonzaga Bay and Mex 1.

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    Tire repair by Matt just a couple of miles from Coco’s Corner.

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    Stopped at Cocos Corner

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    After Cocos to Mex 1

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    Lunch stop!

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    San Ignacio. We stayed in the Yurts at the Bed and Breakfast operated by Gary and Terry. Great place to stay! Breakfast was wonderful! Highly recommended.

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    #5
  6. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

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    This was a rest day. Easter Sunday.

    Zack went down to kiss whales in the bay.

    Steve watched the Masters golf tournament on the big screen.

    Matt fussed with a new problem, a missing frame bolt.

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    Since it was Sunday, nothing open in town, so we will try in the morning (Monday) to find a replacement.
    #6
  7. Just Paul

    Just Paul Pro Cat Herder

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    in !
    #7
  8. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

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    Ok. I see where you are now, Los Mochis. We must have cross paths. I left Cabo on Easter Sunday, then left La Paz on Monday, the 9th.
    dc
    #8
  9. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    This was essentially a day off from riding. Zack wanted to go down to the Bay of XXX to do some whale watching and I wanted to watch the final day of the Masters Golf tournament.

    So Terry set Zack up with a tour boat that took him and a Mexican family out on a boat to the whales. It was about an hour drive from San Ignacio. Might have a photo or two later.

    And I watched the Master’s on Gary’s big screen TV in high definition.

    Matt tried to find a solution for his missing bolt and cruised around town.

    We walked over and had dinner at Rice and Beans and it was Ok. Things were much quieter since the holidays were about over.

    Some of Matt's photos of the area:

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    #9
  10. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    This day we decided to move on down the peninsula to a new location. Matt called a parts store in El Vizcanio that they would have a metric bolt that would fit. He decided to head back to El Vizcanio, about an hour away back, to get the bolt and not take a chance on Santa Rosalia.

    Zack and I packed up and headed down toward Mulege where we had made plans to meet up with Matt later in the day. We got to Mulege, toured the town, waited for Matt for a couple of hours but he did not show. So we decided to head down to one of the beaches to camp for the night. We figured Matt could meet us there.

    We chose the first major beach, it costs 80 pesos to get a Palapa for the night. The beach was still mostly full, but there was one space available. Supposedly it was 3-4 cars deep on the beach for the last week and they even had a carnival.

    Zach and I set up camp, walked in the water, etc. then went to the restaurant on the beach for dinner. The restaurant was interesting. Group of Americans and Canadians get together for a poker game. About 8 of them, not sure how often, but probably all sharks by my read. We ordered dinner and guess who shows up? Matt. He had secured his bolt and wondered down the coast to meet up with us.

    It appears he was able to find a hardened bolt to his liking and had it cut to meet the length. So all was go on that front. He then cruised to Mulege and hung out with some interesting Vietnam Vets at some establishment before coming down to meet up with us. He has to tell that story…

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    #10
  11. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    We headed out with a plan to go to La Paz, stopped to have breakfast in Loreto on the Malecon. Rode the almost 300 miles thru Cuidad Constitucion , etc.

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    Got to La Paz and stopped in the Wal Mart parking lot to try and figure out where to stay. I had a Lonely Planet guide and Zach had both notes and GPS. We decided to find the Baja B&B, made lots of loops thru town, got lost a couple of times, lost Zach, etc. Normal big city stuff. Finally Matt and I found the location, but no one was home. Looked good but maybe no parking. Zach showed up and we moved on to our second choice.

    We found the Hotel Mediterrane a few blocks away and just up a half block from the Malecon. $70 a night, including breakfast. Rooms were ok, service good, excellent secure parking and close to everything.

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    We headed out to tour La Paz and get some dinner. A few photos:

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    #11
  12. jerdog53

    jerdog53 Crop Dusting Everywhere

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    Alright...:lurk
    #12
  13. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in

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    niiice...:lurk
    #13
  14. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    Seattle Ish
    We went out about 5 p.m. along the Malecon to the Bismark Restaurant for dinner. It was about an 8 block walk from the hotel and was recommended. Dinner was good and the margaritas were both tasty and very strong. After dinner we started our walk back to the hotel and were doing some sightseeing, etc. Stopped at another bar for another drink, talked to some street vendors, etc.

    Around 9 or 10 we were within a block of our hotel and Matt decided he wanted to go back and look at some necklaces again by a street vendor. Zack and I continued up the street and back to the hotel. It was only 9 or 10 p.m.

    The following is based on information told to me by Matt (Fosdick) the morning of April 11th and has been provided with his permission:

    Matt was walking back to the vendor when he was motioned over to the street curb by a female Policia. She asked him some questions and for some reason got on her radio to call other Policia. 3-4 of them showed up in a Policia truck vehicle, had him put his hands on the truck, asked more questions, decided to handcuff him and then put him in the truck.

    They drove out of town a mile or two into the desert and started interrogating him and going thru his wallet, cell phone, hotel key and anything else in his pockets. All of this in Spanish of course and Matt did not know what were asking. They took all of his money, gave him back his wallet and his cell phone. He had a numeric password lock on his cell phone so they could not get into it and decided it was useless to them. He is handcuffed in the truck the whole time.

    They then proceeded to take him back into town and drop him off somewhere in the city. He did not know where he was or have any money. He eventually finds a Taxi, has the driver take him to the Hotel. He then tries to wake either me or Zack to get some money for the Taxi. We are sound asleep and he tries to tell the Taxi driver that he will pay him tomorrow. The Taxi guy just leaves. Matt unlocks the gate and get into his room.

    In the morning when I show up for breakfast Matt is there and visibly shaken. He tells me this story and is concerned that they know where we are staying since the room key had the hotel name on it. He is unsure if there is anything he should do or if it should be reported. He decides not to do anything and goes back to his room to get more sleep as he has been running on Adrenalin all night…

    Yes, we had been drinking after a long riding day, but it was only 9 or 10, we were only a block or maybe 2 from the hotel on a well lighted main boulevard. Yes, we had seen both La Paz Policia and Tourista Policia around town all day and assumed things were safe. There were other Snow Birds and tourists around town.

    And that's the story told to me by Matt the morning after. So be safe, never split up and don't trust anyone.
    #14
  15. hajime

    hajime Been here awhile

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    Wow. That's a bummer. I hope Matt is feeling okay about this. It must make you guys want to re-evaluate your plans. I thought La Paz was one of the safest palces to visit in Mexico. Be careful.
    #15
  16. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

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    Matt is/was Ok. Only out some cash and the mental trauma. He headed back up Baja by himself to Loreto and such on his way to San Diego.
    #16
  17. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    Seattle Ish
    This was a down riding day. After what happened to Matt we decided to cancel our ride of the Cabo loop.

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    Zack and I went over to the Baja Ferries terminal in Pechilingque. We paid for our tourist visa with the immigration officer and then got the TVIP at the bank right there in the terminal. It was a very simple process and the lady was very kind. All was needed was passport, registration and a copy of the tourist visa.

    We also bought our ferry tickets right there in the terminal, 1698 Pesos for bike and rider. Opted for a Cabana since we wanted some quiet and a place to store our gear while on the boat. At least the gear that we would not leave on the bikes. Cabana 770 Pesos.

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    Dinner was a burger at Applebee’s since it was close and we were tired of the Mexican food. Turned in early and had a quiet night. Doing some ride report, office work and watching TV.

    Matt took off for the afternoon and went scouting the various beaches south of La Paz but before San Jose. He is headed back north to Loreto or there abouts on his way to San Diego to see his grandparents and load his bike back on the truck to go back to Colorado. He took these photos:

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    #17
  18. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    In the morning we packed up and parted ways with Matt. Then Zack and I headed down around 10 to get some gas, go to the ATM, etc. and head toward the ferry knowing we had to show up around 12:30.

    Not 2 blocks from the hotel Zack’s GSA dies and goes completed dead along the boardwalk at a stop. I saw him stop and circled back a couple of blocks to see what was what. Bike completed dead electrically. Nada.

    So Zach pulls off the seat to check the battery and it turns out he had installed the seat incorrectly the day before and the cross bar was sitting on the battery cables. Well it wore thru the cables and shorted out the whole battery.

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    We were uncertain if there was any permanent damage, but decided for him to go to a Suzuki store we saw when we filled up at the Pemex to see about a battery. So we took out the old battery, put it in my top case and he took off on my bike.

    Well the Suzuki dealer did not have it but he sent Zack up the road to an auto parts store that did have a battery that would fit. But it is dry and it would take an hour to fill it and charge it. It worked and we were back on the road around 12:30 and headed toward the ferry. Got there around 1:00 and went thru customs and got in line behind the cars.

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    About 10-15 minutes later the line started moving as they loaded the ferry with passenger vehicles. We were directed to the 2nd level and did what we could to secure the bikes. There was nothing to tie the bike down to in this level, but we decided they should be OK.

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    On the ferry we met a couple of experienced Copper Canyon riders (Chris and Larry) and had a couple of beers while they discussed possible routes with Zack. He has all the maps, Inmate notes and GPS routes.

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    Got to Topo and offloaded at the end of the line. Our compatriots led us to the Marina Hotel just off the ferry a little ways and we secured 2 rooms for 500 Pesos a night. Place was OK and it was 11 pm so I was happy to be down for the night.

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    #18
  19. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    My General Approach

    I never ever had a plan to do Copper Canyon, at least not like what we actually did. I had never met any of these guys, was unsure of who was really going to do what, etc. I figured I would go along as far as I liked and felt good about the situation. I knew I was not going to do Copper Canyon by myself, no matter what.

    I assumed there was a high probability that I would just do Baja or at the most I would take the “easy” approach to Copper Canyon. The canyon is so huge that most of it does not have any roads, including dirt. For example, I took the road from San Juanito after Creel to Bachurichic and it was along the canyon, high elevation, absolutely no traffic. It connected to Mex 16 which I swear I drove at least 4-5 hours never getting up to 4th gear it was so windy.

    My preparation was limited. My technical dirt skills are limited. I am 54 and I cannot pick up the bike by myself… But after travelling with Zach, who was prepared and had the skill, I figured I would go along and just back out if it got too hard. Such a plan!

    The general Route Plan

    I was following along with Zach. He had a somewhat of a plan and a variety of GPS maps and routes. Which was:

    Day 1 – Los Mochis to Tubarse (where there is no lodging)
    Day 2 – Tubarse to Ctown (was supposed to be short and most technical)
    Day 3 – Ctown to Urique to Batipolis (via the “new” road without GPS tracks)
    Day 4 – Batipolis to Creel and beyond

    My Bike and the Crashes

    Given my general lack of a clear plan on what I was doing, my bike was not as prepared as it should have been. I did not have crash bars and I was running Metzler Tourance tires and I had the Vario panniers. All of these “bad” choices would come into play as we did the road from Urique to Batipolis.

    I had a number of lay downs or crashes with the bike during these 4 days. The bike had never been down before in over 16,000 miles. A couple were the fault of the installed equipment, a couple were the lack of rider skill and at least one was unexpected bike failure. I will number each of the crashes for reference and will describe within each day’s report.

    The 4 days will be remembered for the rest of my life. I thank Zach for dragging me along on this adventure and helping me get the bike back upright each time.


    Yes, this can be seen as long winded excuse for my lack of skill!


    Also, can I get my "Adventure Rider" patch now that I have done Copper Canyon? I want to put it right next to the "Stupid Dumbshit " patch I also earned.
    #19
  20. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

    Joined:
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    Zack wanted to get going early and he seemed to have a better idea of the time commitments for each day. So we were up and out of the Marina hotel before 7 am. Secure parking at the Marina even if you have to go down and up the handicap ramp. Photos from the Hotel Marina are below.

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    Tracking map of where we went this day….

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    We traveled from Los Mochis to El Fuerte to Choix. Stopped for gas and headed down the road toward Tubares. Turned into new pavement and we thought we were on the right road, but we got stopped at a reservoir. Backed up a ways, took another road and were down a couple of miles when we were stopped by a man and his two sons. We asked if this was the way to Tubares and he said emphatically “No Tubares, No Tubares”. So we back tracked the cow track we were on and passed a dark window SUV heading down the road. Maybe the emphatic response from the man was to make sure we did not stumble upon something we shouldn’t? I think so!

    Crash #1 – “Alluring Rock”

    So my first “spill” was actually a pretty major crash. I was going down this dual track for lack of a better definition and the road turned to the left with a sloped corner. There was a football size rock in the middle of the road and I tried to go up the bank to go around it, but my front wheel turned and I hit the rock head on, dropped the bike and launched over the bars. Bike ended up pointed downhill on its side. Seems I hurt my ankle a little, jammed a finger and did something to my chest. A week later I self-diagnosed this as bruised ribs as it still hurt to take a large breath or cough

    My subsequent self-analysis of the situation is that I was too focused on the rock and did not look forward to where I wanted the bike to go. I also give some blame to the front tire not holding on the smooth rock that was to the right of the “Alluring Rock”. But I should have done better, bottom line. Damage to the bike was the left hand cover and a few scratches. No picture of the crash as I was mad as hell. Zach picked up the bike.

    Pictures along the wrong way…

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    We eventually found the “correct” road to Tubares and started to make some tracks….The road starts pretty easy, but then has a few medium type sections, but nothing really hard. But it was hot, and dusty. It was a full day by the time we pulled into Tubares at the “Restauranti” . Which is really just someone’s house with a little supply store.

    Zach walked in and asked the owner/lady who was rocking a baby (grandchild) in the living room if we could get something to eat. She did not seem very enthusiastic to say the least, but said “Si”. So we each drank a bottle of water, Tecate and then had 3 tacos or something. My first, but not last, experience with people making a living by opening their homes for business.

    So we sat in the “living room” having our dinner, in our gear, in the dust, while the family just goes about their business. The daughter (mother of baby?) came by a few times, ignored us, dressed in designer jeans, et al, but they she did have to feed the pig before she went out. Her “boyfriend or husband or whatever”, came by to get her and had a large caliber pistol in his back waistband. We later learned his name was Juan and he was very friendly, just as long as we were not in his “girlfriend’s” house!

    Zach asked about hotel or lodging, the lady said she would make up a couple of rooms if we wanted, but we declined. We assumed that meant someone in the family was going to sleep who know where!

    BTW, as we sat after our dinner, the PIG walked over from his/her pen and wondered around the kitchen looking for scraps. And a dirty pig it was…I wanted a picture for you all but thought it might be rude if the lady caught us!

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    Since we “declined” on the lodging, we had to come up with something else. Zach suggested sleeping under or near the bridge as recommended by the guys on the ferry. I recommended we ask someone before we took the liberty. Zach went up to the ranch above the bridge and as a man who was clearly the “Boss” of the place. He had the beautiful wife and the big hat! He said it was fine.

    So we drove down to the river, under the bridge and cooled our feet. Juan came by and stopped to talk. It seems he has a ranch down the way for which his road is under the bridge along the river rocks. He came by again and shows us the big onions he grows. Seems the river is a busy place on a Friday night. Both with the cows and the people. Pictures from the “campsite”

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    #20