Copper Canyon Crazies

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by yamafitter, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. motonazar

    motonazar Adventurer

    Joined:
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    No money passed hands but there was a hint of bringing donuts next time. Rarely do we find people who are not willing to help us find solutions. We simply appealed to them for help and they came through. Speaking the language and even more important, applying the right psychology in this realm where those with the rubber stamps rule, helps. Thanks for sharing Bill!
    #21
  2. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    We were up early and took a walk through town just before breakfast...

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    The school kids were waiting on the bus...

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    Some of the local Indians were waiting on the local bus...

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    The old man in the doorway is one of the most sussessful businessmen in town and is the ex-mayor...

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    At breakfast, our guide Ivan told us a great story about the ex-mayor that I will try to relate here.
    One day a couple of strangers came up to the man and said,
    "You're a successful businessman and we want you to run for mayor".
    The man said,
    "There's no money in politics and I'm not interested"
    The strangers said,
    "Well there is all these weeds growing in the area at only cost a few pesos to harvest here but will sell for hundreds in the United States and as the mayor you would get to regulate the harvest and make lots of money"
    The man says,
    "This cannot be legal"
    The stangers say,
    "But as the mayor you make the law"
    So the man agrees and becomes the mayor. As a successful busiinessman soon there is weed everywhere including the flowerpots in the town square.
    One day an American traveller comes to town and takes photos of all of this. The traveller leaves and then the President of Mexico gets a visit from the US ambassador who presents the President with the photos and demands that the President do something about this. The President asks where the photos were taken and is told Batopilas and the President of Mexico asks, "Where?".
    The ambassador leaves and the President calls in one of his generals and tells him to go to some place called Batopilas and straighten things out to calm down the Americans.
    The general comes to Batopilas and goes to see the mayor. They ask the mayor about the weed and the mayor tells them that it is a good business. It only costs a few pesos to harvest and the Americans pay hundreds. The military tells him that this is illegal. The mayor tells the general, "But I am the law and I think it is OK".
    The general slaps the cuffs on the mayor and hauls him off to jail where the mayor gets 15 years.
    The mayor is sad but he watches what goes on in the jail and soon finds out that items are very expensive in jail. He feels he can start a business charging lower prices, pays off a few guards and soon has a thriving business. The mayor is happy.
    In the meantime it takes the sons of the mayor three years but after selling off some the the mayor's prized cows and some other items they raise enough money as a "gift" for the judge and explain to the judge that their father was badly mislead by the strangers. The judge agrees to interview the father to see if he is sufficently remorseful and will make some arrangements.
    The sons go to see their father to tell him the good news but the father is horrified to find that the sons sold his prized cows plus he is perfectly happy in jail since he has a good business going. The judge comes to see the father and the father tells the judge that he wants to stay in jail. The judge then tells the sons that their father is crazy and to take him home. The father is now mad at the judge and his sons for ruining his business.

    When he gets back to Batopilas the father is not feeling well so his daughters take him to Chihauhau to see a doctor. The doctor runs a bunch of tests and it is all very expensive. This makes the father sad. The doctor then tells him that he needs to walk more and sends him home. Now the father is mad at the daughters for sending his money just to be told he needs to walk more.
    As punishment, the father has the daughters make bread every morning. The father would then walk through town and sell the bread. On the way back the father found aluminmum cans which he picked up and then sold for recycling. Soon he had a thriving business and he was happy and agreed with the doctor that walking was indeed good for him.

    But I digress.. back to the ride.

    We started from the hotel and had to go back through town to the gas station to fill the bikes before heading out. Here is a link to a short video of the ride to the gas pump...

    Ride through Batopilas

    When Scott filled the 530 KTM and parked the bike we noticed fuel spilling from the back of the tank. I thoght the screws holding the petcock were loose but Scott knew exactly what the problem was...

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    He had previously developed a crack in the tank and thought he had it repaired but the the repair had failed and was now worse than before. It took Scott, Russ and the rest of the group about 90 minutes to get the leak down to a small enough of a dribble to be able to ride the bike.

    We finally left town and were on our way...

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    We finally stopped to gather up the group at an intersection...

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    Our lead guide let Scott & Chris ride up ahead towards Mesa San Jose. When Ivan showed up with the support truck he unfortunately pointed out that we were supposed to go the other way. I was then assigned to chase Scott & Chris down and send them back. Fortunately they had only gone a few kilometers when they came to another gate and had stopped to wait.

    Now everyone was going in the proper direction and the next challange was six water crossings of the Urique River...

    Crossing #1

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    ...to be continued...
    #22
  3. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    I put the camera down and went to help Phil get the bike out of the river. Fortunately Phil had the presence of mind to kill the engine before he dunked and the bike immediately started once we got the bike to dry land.
    The rest of the group took the water crossing very cautiously...

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    Our Toronto Italian, Paolo tried to keep his tennis shoes dry...

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    It was then time for our female staff rider, Shelly to show the boys how to do it with style...

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    The next two crossings went by without issues but the fourth crossing was by far the deepest of those that we had attempted. I was out front and safely made it across. I was just getting the Nikon out of my backpack when Scott started across with a more agressive approach, clipped a submerged rock that completely submerged the 530 KTM. Scott immediately discovered that water is a poor substitute for air & gasoline as the piston return spring was not able to overcome the non-compressible properties of H2O. Again I put down the camera even before I had a chance to document this fiasco to assist fishing the thumper out of the water. Silly Scott hit the starter button and the starter made a noise that sounded like you got to the kidding. It was time to push the big pumpkin out of the water and start the de-watering process. While Scott was dealing with that I was pointing out the shallower line the the rest of the group and went back to my photojournalism. Here is our lead guide, Alphonso showing Don & Joe the correct line...

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    Shelly needed a little assist but got across with the bike still running...

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    With everyone over it was decided to find some shade and have lunch while Scott, Russ & Barack attempted to get the KTM running. It took almost 2 hours and they were able to get the motor running but even with the oil we had in the support truck, the oil still looked like a watered down white chocolate milk shake. In the end it was decided to load the bike into the support truck and shamefully finish the day on the hook.
    We were supposed to be heading for Urique but it was already afternoon and we were not even halfway and it was becoming obvious we would be riding in the dark. A command decision was made to change the destination to San Isidro since dropping into Urique Canyon in the dark would have been just too dangerous.
    After a few more river crossings we came to an intersection and then came to the gate of the Sauzal open pit gold mine. There had been a pre-arranged agreement to let us ride through the mine property but it still took a little time for the M16 toting guards to get hold of the correct person on the radio to unlock the gate and allow us to proceed. We were supplied a lead truck to follow through the mine property to ensure no one got crushed by one of the huge ore moving trucks that were running all over the mine.
    Once safety through the mine the roads improved dramatically as the road was now the main supply road from town to the mine. We then came to a main intersection on the gravel and our lead guide, Alphonso took the turn toward Tubares which ended up being incorrect. We went quite a ways and got all the way to the bridge before Alphonso realized his error and turned the group around. Unfortunately, Ivan with Scott in the co-pilot seat took the correct turn and now the support truck was in front of the bikes.
    Ivan would ask along the way if anyone had seen the bikes but no one had.
    At the exit of the mine property, Ivan & Alponso had agreed to meet in Mesa de Arturo if the group got separated so Ivan continued on. We were now on the correct route climbing up and then dropping down the canyons and valleys. We came upon a major construction site and had a slight delay. The road crew had just dropped fresh sand and gravel up a fairly steep switchback and nothing had been compacted. It took some technique and a lot of momentum to make it through but I just stayed in the track of the backhoe and found I could get enough traction not to sink in.
    Chris was not so lucky with the 990 KTM and the heaviest bike in the group buried itself in the gravel. It took a few folks to get the bike rolling again to make it out. In the meantime I had worked up way up a few more switchbacks and stopped to enjoy the surrounding vista and watch the sunset.
    I was now following Russ and as we went around another switchback, Russ' KLR stopped and I saw him look at the petcock. Out of gas. Russ flipped onto reserve and the bike started up but without knowing how far we had left to go Russ had to idle the bike to get as much distance as possible and dropped to the back.
    It got dark. It got cold.
    I was following Alphonso and was completely focused on the rear taillight of Alphonso's bike. In the dark all I saw was a faint red haze in the dust and a little bit of the road being lit by the headlight of my WR. After what seemed a very long time we came to pavement and the streetlights on San Pedro. Alphonso stopped at a small store to ask directions and asked me where everyone else was. I had no idea. We went back to the intersection and waited. Still no bikes. I had not seen any turns off the road but afterwards had found out that there were some and the rest of the group were not sure which way we had gone and had to wait for traffic coming the other way to ask if they had seen motorcycles and finally manged to find their way.
    In the meantime Alphonso sent me on to Mesa de Arturo since I had a GPS on my bike to find Ivan and send the truck back to help find the others. Alphonso then went a little ways along the road where he could see some of the approaching road that the bikes should be on. Finally the bikes arrived but made the wrong turn and also went into San Pedro. They went a little further into town and Barak stopped to ask a driver in a white truck for directions. Unfortunately this was all witnessed by a military patrol that had a report that there were strangers in town with weapons. The next thing that Barak, Phil and Chris knew they were surrounded by solders pointing automatic weapons at them and yelling at them to surrender. Phil is deaf in one ear and does not speak Spanish so Barak told Phil to get his hands up and get on the ground. Chris had his hands up but had not got off the bike and the soldiers were poking him with their rifle butts and almost knocked him off the bike. The three were then forced face down onto the ground while Barak was trying to explain to the commander who we were.
    About this time Alphonso arrived on the scene and was finally able to make the soldiers understand that we were not the people the military were looking for. Everyone was released with the sincere apologies of the commander but it is not an experience anyone will soon forget.
    In he meantime I was having my own little adventure trying to find Mesa de Arturo in the dark on a mountain dirt road in a land where I do not speak the language. I flagged down a bus and askd, "Mesa de Arturo?" pointing ahead. The driver then spoke to me in Spanish but I was clueless but through sign language and gestures I understood to say on the main road.
    The GPS was almost useless since the brecha (gravel road) shown on the GPS was no where close to the track the GPS was showing. By nothing more than sheer luck I finally came upon the truck just before Mesa de Arturo. I was never so happy to see a pickup truck in my life.
    I grabbed m jacket out of my bag in the back of the truck and jumped in the cab to warm up. I then had a decision to make. Do I follow the truck back and help find the others or do I stay put while the truck goes back. I was very low on fuel so I opted to stay put. As the truck left it suddenly got very dark and very quiet. All I had for light was the GPS display and the stars shining through the trees. I started hearing all the animals in the woods. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I focused on other things and after about 20 minutes I heard the bikes and then saw the headlights approaching.
    In less than 30 minutes we were at the motel just outside San Isidro drinking Tequila & Mezcal shooters while the motel staff prepared some hot soup. After some comparision of stories and a few more shooters it was getting late and everyone sleep soundly in their cabins to see what the next day would bring.

    Nest Post - Day 3
    #23
  4. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    I forgot to add the stats from Day 2...

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    #24
  5. DocAxeYarYar

    DocAxeYarYar RideDualSport.com

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    Excellent ride report! Glad you all had the huevos to do Copper Canyon! More probs with the military than anyone else! Thanks for taking us along, looking forward to more.

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    #25
  6. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    mmmmmmm... Donuts!!!!

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    #26
  7. rickcorwn

    rickcorwn Been here awhile

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    Watch it, you don't know where those donut holes have been :gerg
    #27
  8. bbolesaz

    bbolesaz AZ Airhead GS'er

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    Yamafitter, some questions on this day from the guy sitting at work following the spot track all day long.

    Did you guys do a river cross in Batopillas, the tracks looked like you did. Sort of looked like river cross practice.

    Why so late out of Bato?

    Don posted a pix of a cable car. Is that how you got the Spot track in the mountains south of Bato?

    Did the truck / trailer follow the bikes over the Urique river crosses?

    The google earth overhead image where you had the military encounter has a lot of "crops" growing around it and a rather large dirt airstrip, which I believe you rode down the next morning. Wrong place at the wrong time, eh?

    Is the motel San Isidro near any town? From overhead, it looks like a large place out on it's own.

    Inquiring minds want to know.
    #28
  9. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    We crossed a bridge coming into town at the end of the first day. we rode along the river for a piece (see video at start of Day 2 post) when backtracking to the gas pump. Due to resolution of the SPOT it may have looked like we crossed the river but did not.

    We had to fix the leak in the gas tank of Scott's 530 KTM as reported at the start of the Day 2 post. We lost maybe 90 minutes. We were also late finishing breakfast and getting gear loaded on the truck.

    The SPOT was on my bike the entire trip. I have a second generation SPOT that has a much stronger transmitter to get a signal out than the Gen 1. Just like my Gen 2 FJR is far superior to a Gen 1 :rofl

    The truck went everywhere we did which was amazing. Especially down the decent into Chinipas.

    The military had been informed there were strangers in town and they don't come any stranger than Don.

    The motel was very close to Mesa de Arturo, maybe 15 minutes.

    Hope this clears some things up for you.
    #29
  10. rushes

    rushes token hillbilly

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    Ain't that the truth....

    :)
    #30
  11. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    In the morning there was enough light to see some of the mural work that the local artists had put into our cabin. My roomie Pat took this photo...

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    The first stop was in San Pedro, the scene of the previous night's adventure to get fuel for all the bikes...

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    Scott had done some work on the 530 KTM but we didn't have enough oil to get all the water out so Scott had to put the 530 back on the truck for the day. It was then back into the mountains for some more switchbacks, climbs and decents on the dirt roads of Mexico. We stopped at an overlook to check out the vistas and gather the group back together...

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    Chris' 990 KTM rear brake pedal was going soft the previous day and now the rear brake was completely gone. My suspicions were that the rear brake got boiled from trying to haul down such a big bike on the long decents we were doing...

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    Here's Paolo smiling for the camera...

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    One of the switchbacks with a great view of the valley below...

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    It was time to stop for lunch and for our mascot, Dolly the Wonder Pup to take a bio-break...

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    The last of the group rolling into lunch...

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    It was mid-afternoon when we reached the end of the road and waited for the ferry to take the bikes and support truck over to the far shore of Lake Huites...

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    We managed to load all the bikes, the support truck and a truck load of goats in one go...

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    Barak took the above photo and this photo of your truly enjoying the cruise across the lake...

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    Once over the the other side there was a great view of the lake from the road...

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    As we rolled into the Lake Huites Lodge, the staff greeted us with a tray of margaritas to wash the trail dust down...

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    Lake Huites is well known for its Black Bass fishing and dinner that night featured a great fish feed. We finished the night off with margaritas on the patio watching the sunset...

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    Here are the stats on the day...

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    #31
  12. azredline

    azredline Wobbly Adventurer

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    This is great! Good to see Don taking that beemer for a swim!
    :lurk
    #32
  13. DocAxeYarYar

    DocAxeYarYar RideDualSport.com

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    Most excellent, loving the excellent pics. I also like that your taking pics of every day people you encounter on your trip. Your ride report is very inspiring to me, and I hope others, who worry about conditions down there. Thanks for sharing with us!

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    #33
  14. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    I don't know how I forgot this but I believe it was just before lunch I was following Chris on his 990 KTM on a narrow mountain road around a blind sharp bend when I saw Chris shoot to the outside of the turn. I then saw the pickup coming towards us. I took to the inside and flatten myself & the WR against the side of the mountain. The pickup was not going that fast but he didn't stop either and clipped the back of the luggage rack on Chris' KTM knocking him over. The driver looked back, laughed and drove off. Thank you!!
    Given that Chris was having problems with the rear brake, been put on the ground by the military the night before and now this, he was not in the best of moods. Chris was all set to chase the clown down and open an economy sized can of whoop ass on the boy but we manged to calm Chris down. After all the bike was fine, Chris was not hurt and Ivan had promised that there would be margaritas waiting for us at the end of the day.
    #34
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Livin' life to the fullest... and enjoying your ride vicariously :thumb

    Thanks for the detailed updates and pics :lurk
    #35
  16. rickcorwn

    rickcorwn Been here awhile

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    I feel your pain close calls can be many and much closer than that. See my reference to "I saw God in the grill of an F150" in this post http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12315687&postcount=56

    If your bike didn't wind up under the truck it wasn't really all that close :huh
    #36
  17. BikerGeek99

    BikerGeek99 Horizon Chaser

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    Ah, man... This is good stuff!
    #37
  18. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Great ride. We rode down to Batopilas from Samachique 3 years ago. I've always wanted to go back on smaller bikes and ride the tougher roads out the other side and if I was lucky, over to Baja copying Paochow's route. Loving this report. Great job!!!!
    #38
  19. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    We were awake early enough to catch the sunrise over the mountain behind the lodge lighting up the mountains on the other side of the lake...

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    Since this would be a rest day some of us took the opportunity to rinse some of the Mexican dust off our riding gear while our mascot, Dolly the Wonder Pup looked on...

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    After breakfast it was time to do a little maintenance on the bikes. First we had to rinse off all the dust to find the bike...

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    Then it was time to change air filters and clean, adjust and lube the chain. Scott had more work to do on the 530 KTM. He wirked on making a more permenent repair to the gas tank and do a few more oil changes to get all the water out of the crankcase of his thumper...

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    Chris worked on the other KTM in the group trying to bleed the rear brake and put some back end stopping power back into the big KTM.
    A group of us having completed our chores took the opportunity to go with Ivan into the town of Choix. Barak, Paolo and Pat rode their bikes but I had just finished washing my riding gear and didn't have a thing to wear. Plus I wanted to ride in the truck and listen to Ivan tell us about the area. Don, Joe, Phil & Ken also piled into the truck and off to town we went to gather supplies, more oil for Scott and brake fluid for Chris.
    On the way into town we passed by a cemetary. Since the Day of the Dead had just past most of the headstone were still decorated by families honouring the dead...

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    The roads as we got closer to Choix were improving over those we had ridden the day before...

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    The photo was taken through the windshield of the truck and is a little washed out but hopefully you get the idea.
    First stop was to pick up some cervesas and since it was getting close to noon, Ivan took us to a hot springs he knew for a relaxing soak before heading into town...

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    Barak has underwater footage of Don's beer belly. Very distrubing stuff not rated for general audiences...

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    I took a short hike down towards the river to check out one of the longest train trestles in Mexico...

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    We also spotted one of the locals' home near the river...

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    While walking back up towards the hot springs the local cattle were making their way down to the river...

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    The donkies on the other hand were making whoopie :evil ...

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    I gave the donkies a wide birth since I had no desire to get any closer.

    As Paolo left the hot springs heading to town he had to negotiate under the volleyball net. This reminded me of an earlier time when we used to play road hockey and had to move the nets off the road to let the cars by...

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    Here is another home in the village...

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    As we drove towards the dam, we past a field of blue agave used in the making of tequila...

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    When riding or driving the roads of Mexico, one must be always aware of all the animals that wander the roads...

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    We then came to the reason that Lake Huites exists, a fairly new hydro electric dam just outside of the town of Choix...

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    In Ontario, Canada we refer to the distribution power lines coming from the dam as "hydro lines". Russ the hillbilly in the group (he is from Arkansas) couldn't understand this since he didn't think there was any water flowing in the lines. What a Goober.

    We parked the truck in the main square in town since this would make it easy for everyone to find the truck later...

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    I found the town's ATM machine and used my card to get some more pesos. Others in the group were carrying US cash and went into the bank to change it into pesos. Unfortunately the bank would not accept US cash due to the rampant money laundering issues. Some of the smaller shops were willing to accept US dollars but as a rule the exchange rate was poor and the larger institutions would only change very small amounts if they did it at all.
    The lesson in this is carry minimal cash, have an ATM card on hand and you will be OK. I spent at most 100 pesos on gas a day and less than 100 pesos on lunch. The bar tab was also pretty cheap by Toronto standards.
    Since this is supposed to be a ride report I thought I should take a few photos of two wheeled transport in town...

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    We were looking for a pharmacy to pick up a few pills for some of the boys that were feeling slightly off and I snapped a photo of some locals...

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    Ivan took us to a local restaurant in town for lunch. We walked by the town clocktower on the way...

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    Barak climbed the tower to get some photos and while at the top dropped his polerizing filter for his Canon DSLR. It landed in the flowerbed and survived without a scratch. Canon makes good gear but I still like my Nikon D300 DSLR.

    Lunch was slow due to a tiny kitchen but I'm retired so I have the time and was in no rush. The food was worth the wait. It was getting time to head back to the lodge and as we passed out of town a few of the locals were at the local car wash...

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    When we turned off the main highway we came around a turn on the dirt road and was confronted with a burned out hulk of a pickup that had not been there when we came into town. I will post photos of it the next morning in my next post. It's too bad I don't have a before and after shot.
    As soon as you leave the larger towns the proverty of the area is very apparent...

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    Though sometimes you will see a sattilite dish hanging from the side of a home like this.

    When we got back Chris had the brakes working again on the 990 Adventure and after flushing the crankcase with diesel fuel and a few oil changes, Scott had the 530 ready to go. Maybe the "K" in KTM doesn't stand for "Krap" afterall.

    Next Post - We head for the coast.
    #39
  20. yamafitter

    yamafitter Old Cranky Guy

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    For some reason that escapes me I woke up in the middle of the night. Since I was up I thought it would be good to try and capture the night sky at Lake Huites...

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    The star gazing was amazing...

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    I then went back to bed to rest up for the longest ride of the trip.
    After breakfast and the usual riders' briefing the first challange was to get out of the driveway. The driveway was steep with deep ruts and some loose sandy spots. Chris didn't have quite enough momentum and toppled the 990 KTM. It was pretty funny.
    I made it without any issues and then waited... and waited ... finally some of the others finally made it up and onto the road. Scott of course had no issues and started off down the road without the others. I should mention that Scott was our ADD poster child on this trip.
    Near the end of the dirt road we came upon the burnt out pickup that we had seen the afternoon before. The locals had also found it and were in the process of helping themselves to the good bits. Scott thought he should supervise...

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    We then continued onto the town of Choix to gas up and then headed down the pavement to El Fuerte. We stopped at the old fort and when exploring while Sheely went to exchange some money and Ivan went to buy some box lunches for later on...

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    When we stopped I could smell something burning and then I saw smoke coming from under the seat of my Yamaha. At first I thought I had an electrical short and was in a panic to get the seat off but then I realized I could smell antifreeze and after a closer look I found that the overflow line from the rad to the coolent tank had touched the exhaust and had burnt through and antifreeze was leaking onto the exhaust. Not a big deal. A little tape and a zip-ty fixed the problem and we went to explore the fort...

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    The view of the town from the top of the walls of the fort...

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    The fort also had a commanding view of the river...

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    The gardens in the fort were nicely maintained...

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    There were also some displays as part of the fort...

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    Don & Ken had found a shady spot and were resting up...

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    In the meantime this hard working Mexican was hauling sand up to the fort for some work that was going on...

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    Scott being ever so unrestful took a few loads up to help out.
    It was time to get back on the bikes and head back onto the gravel / dirt roads heading towards the coast. About halfway across we found a nice shady tree and stopped for lunch...

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    Shelly took the opportunity to teach Dolly the Wonder Pup to drink out of a bottle...

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    Next step - cervesa!!!
    Note the trials tire on Shelly's bike.
    Soon we were back on pavement and shortly there after we pulled into the bar at Huatabampito. MotoDiscovery had booked a couple of beach houses and while the staff was getting those squared away a couple of us took the bikes out on the beach and played. Here is a link to a video of Scott mucking about...

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    The shrimp that night at dinner were huge...

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    The entire meal was excellent. After the meal the rest of the group retired back to the beach houses to drink MY cervesa. Ivan and I stayed at the bar and watched the Manny Pacquiao / "Tijuana Tornado" Antonio Margarito title fight on TV from the Jerry Jones Palace in Dallas TX.
    At first TV reception was not good so the owner climbed up on the roof and using his cellphone called down to Ivan on his cellphone and manually turned the antenna until we got a better signal. Remember - This is Mexico afterall.
    After the fight (Pacquiao dominated the fight with tremendous hand speed) it was after mid-night and when I went to get into the house and found myself locked out. Not only did they drink my cervesa, they also locked me out. Not a very friendly group!!! After banging on the door and then climbing through a barb wire fence to get onto the beach I was able to get into the back entrance and climb into bed.

    Here are the stats on the day...

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    Next Post - Alamos
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