Mexico by Geezer

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Just a note regarding formatting. With the change over to the new format of the forum, all sorts of bad things happened to older threads such as this ride report. The pictures have come back but you will notice all sorts of superfluous smileys and code. This apparently is the result of me composing in Microsoft Word and copying the text here. Now, the code is visable. The powers that be at ADVRIDER tell me they will eventually find a fix for it. So, patience.

    (I’m already in Mexico as I post this. I will try to do my best to get it caught up ASAP)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    An extended trip to Mexico on a bike – sounded like a pretty good way to start a retirement to me. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I was bit by the bug to see places from the seat of a motorcycle a few years ago riding my Harley around the US and parts of Canada. Always looking for new roads to ride and new places to see, I naturally started to think about mixing in a little off pavement riding along with wandering around places outside of Canada and the US.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    So, last year I decided to ride my Harley down to a small town north of Puerto Vallarta where we have vacationed a few times before. My wife flew down and we spent a couple of weeks basking in the sun, drinking margaritas and took a little two up side trip. I really enjoyed travelling around Mexico and experiencing the country and the people and wanted to experience more.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    This year having the added benefit of a bit more time available and with my wife’s blessing I decided to allocate 3 months+ to a winter trip in Mexico. In a nutshell, the plan was to ride my bike to Sacramento in November (Since I’m not fussy about riding on our snow covered roads in January), put the bike in storage and fly back down in January, pick it up and then head south as far as Oaxaca and then back home again by mid-April. While in the Oaxaca area, my wife will join me for about three weeks to explore the Oaxaca area and then head down to the beaches for some proper tourist lounging.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    While the Harley did fine last year, I’m thinking a little more off pavement bike may be more appropriate and would allow me access to areas I would never take a Harley. After a lot of thought, I decided to add a BMW 800GS to the garage that would become my Mexican steed.<o:p></o:p>
    #1
  2. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    So, get my bike down to Sacramento before snow becomes an issue, visit my Dad while I’m there and then head out to visit one of our daughters and her family. Predictions of snow before I was planning to leave encouraged me to move my start date up a couple of days. Still had a bit of snow on the ground that morning.

    [​IMG]

    So, waited a couple of hours for it to soften up and headed for the border. At the border I had to pick up a couple of last minute items that I had ordered and carried on to Omak for the night.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Checked the weather the next morning to find it was -11C (12F) – man, I hate the cold! By about 10 OÇlock it was up to a balmy -4C and, much relieved, I headed out. It was such a beautiful sunny day and my gear was keeping me warm so I should be able to get in a full day. To stay out of the higher elevations I firstly wanted to avoid Blewett Pass near Ellensburg, so I headed east to Soap Lake and from there I can either head back to Hwy 97 or head south to Kennewick – I knew staying along the Columbia River would at least keep me at the lowest altitude. It looked like I wouldn’t have a problem on the small pass south of Yakima so headed over to Hwy 97 and continued to The Dalles, OR for the night.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The next morning I woke to -3C (27F) and a big storm on the horizon. Crap! So much for my theory of staying away from snow along the Columbia. As the roads were wet, I wasn’t keen on heading out until it had warmed up a bit and I was hoping the storm might warm things up a bit when it arrived – but it didn’t - started snowing instead. Well, either suck it up and get out of here or hunker down for the winter. Man, first frickin cold and now snow! Have I ever expressed my opinion about winter weather? Anyhow, this stuff just stuck to the visor – visibility was worse than rain. Took about 45 minutes travelling towards Portland for the snow to turn to rain. Was actually happy to see rain. Rode the rest of the day in the rain to Springfield next to Eugene. Had dinner at a local Brew Pub, Hop Valley Brewing which has an outstanding IPA.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The rest of the trip to Sacramento was pretty uneventful. I’ve done this route so many times now, I think I could do it in my sleep but I always seem to find the odd new road to make it interesting.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Did have one great lunch stop – the Samoa Cookhouse. The little town of Samoa is an old logging town next to Eureka, CA.

    [​IMG]

    Over a hundred years ago, the loggers were fed in the cookhouse which has been now been resurrected as a restaurant that still serves in the same manner as they used to feed the loggers. Apparently they could look after as many as 500 loggers for 3 meals a day.

    [​IMG]
    You still walk in to long tables all set up.

    Lady comes around and starts going through a long list of food, pauses and asks “would you like that?” Um, OK. A mixing bowl of soup is the first thing to come out and you ladle out however much you want. Then a couple of salads, then beans, vegetables, barbeque pork, potatoes and cake . . . this is lunch. At this point I’m concerned if my bike’s suspension will accommodate my now much larger ass. Then the lady comes back and asks if I want seconds. Uh, no thank you. Cool old place and great experience. Good food to boot.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Arrived in Sacramento visited my Dad, visited my son, put the bike away for two months and headed to Australia to visit one of my daughters and her family. Whew!<o:p></o:p>
    #2
  3. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    My plans for the morning were going to get a bunch of things done and get out of town at a decent hour. The plan was: I had some stuff I wanted to leave behind and needed to run it over to my Dad’s storage locker, have my rental car back by 9, get my bike loaded and out of town by 10 or so. Of course, those are plans. So, arrive at the storage locker and can’t find my access code and of course the office doesn’t open for an hour and a half. OK, plan B – take the car back, load up bike, get the access code from my son, ride over to the locker and then head out . . . about an hour late.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Once I got going had a terrific ride down Hwy 49 – particularly the lower part where it is great twisty roads, great scenery and no traffic. Found a couple of other roads off of 49 that were almost as enjoyable. Last year when I came down the same way, they had obviously had some snow as there was a lot of sand on the road. This year, clean and dry.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Was going to take some back roads to Bakersfield but was running a bit late to pull that off in the daylight. Headed down to Fresno and some boring freeway riding. Snooped around Fresno looking for a BarBQue place that was recommended (find good food first then a nearby motel) – of course when I finally found it, it was closed. OK, let’s just find a room. Did and from the desk clerk’s restaurant recommendations, Famous Dave’s stood out as I had BarBQue on the brain. It was mediocre. <o:p></o:p>
    #3
  4. jnorton1

    jnorton1 Been here awhile

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    Sounds like youve had a buys few months even leading up to the trip. Hope its going well.
    #4
  5. GoinPostal

    GoinPostal Been here awhile

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    ok there........don't forget, lots of pictures
    #5
  6. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Yah, it was busy leading up to it. Some gear had to come down with the bike and some didn't come until I flew down. Of course, I'm know to be able to take a simple task and make it complicated.

    Thanks - the trip has been great so far.
    #6
  7. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Pictures has been one of my downfalls. Many times when I'm really into a ride, I don't think of stopping for a pic. Other times I look up at a spectacular view and either don't have a place to stop or am well past it before even thinking of stopping. Trying to stop more frequently. Still have a long ways to go but I'll try to work on it. Sorting through a bunch of pics today and shot about 3 hours of video . . . we'll see how well I can get all that edited.
    #7
  8. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

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    Sounds like how I ride. But you just have to do it. Even if you pass up a spectacular view, turn around and grab a pic. It doesn't take much time, and you will be glad you did later.

    Ride safe!

    #8
  9. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Right you are.

    Thanks for that.
    #9
  10. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Good start in the morning as I wanted to get to Palm Springs by dinner time and cover some nice mountain roads on the way. As is unfolding with this trip, plans are, well, just plans. Just before Bakersfield I noticed temps getting cooler, quickly find that the heated liner isn&#8217;t working. You may recall my previous comment that I hate the cold . . . anyhow the controller has stopped working Wasted time looking for Gerbings dealers in the San Juaquin Valley . . .
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Now I&#8217;m behind, have to cut out the mountain roads to Palm Springs and put up with southern Calif freeways and traffic. Hmmm, still, the weather sure beats what is going on at home.

    <o:p>Arrive at my good friends, Dave and Joan&#8217;s.<o:p></o:p>
    </o:p>
    #10
  11. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Spent the morning putting my new tires on (Heidenau K60 on the back and TKC on the front) – went well for the second time I have changed tires on this bike but that Heidy is one bitch of a tire to mount.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Finally got gas and left town about 2:30 headed to Pine Valley to be near the border for an early morning crossing. Beautiful roads and scenery. As I gained altitude, temps dropped. Decided to practice riding in cooler temps without the crutch of heated gear. Worked fine (duh) – arrived at Pine Valley Motel at 5 pm and 8 deg C (46F). Had dinner at the Diner – good hamburger.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Forcast for the morning is for 47 to 49 deg F but locals claim it has been down to low 20’s every morning. If it’s that cold, I’ll be hanging around for a late start.<o:p></o:p>
    #11
  12. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Woke up to some pretty heavy rain. But, it was in mid-40’s. Low 20’s? I wonder if the locals are playing with that wacky tabacky? Checked the forcast to see if it would be worth waiting and leaving later. 100% chance all day until 4 pm. Load up and leave. Stopped at Campo Diner for breakfast. Decided on French Toast and waitress smiles and says “oh, your going to like that” – and I did.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
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    Sloshed my way down to Tecate border crossing. Waved through – none of this do you have something to declare BS. Headed straight out of town for Ensenada. Started to get a lot of fog in the moutains which made seeing much scenery problematic – still drizzleing. Got to Ensenada and found the well marked Migracion office and got my Tourista paper work done. I already had the TVIP for my bike so it went pretty fast.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    A quick comment about the TVIP – do the online routine. Last year it took about an hour to get it at the border. Online was a snap – document arrived in about 3 days by courier, email the base documents back to them and get a nice email back thanking me for the documents. All from the comfort of your home. It’s really important though to double check your VIN not only for the TVIP but check the actual VIN on the bike to your registration. If you get checked, they will compare the VIN on the TVIP to the VIN on your bike. It is possible for VINs to be entered incorrectily when a bike is bought.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was tired of the rain and could have stopped in Ensenada but really didn’t want to hang around this town for a night. Decided to head to San Felipe on the chance the bad weather would stay to the west of the mountains.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Great roads leaving Ensenada but crappy rain continued for the first 50 km or so then finally, came over a hill and saw broken clouds and sunshine in a pretty little valley and . . . dry roads. What a delightfull rest of the day. Amazing how a little nice weather can perk one right up. Picked up some pretty good cross winds but I’ll take those over rain anytime. Cooled off as I gained altitude but then warmed up nicely as I approached the coast.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Army checkpoint at the junction of the road I was on with the Mexicali San Felipe road had them do a cursory check of my side bags. Usually I just get waved through once they figure out I’m just an old guy on a trip.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Arrived in San Felipe just at sunset – seem to do that a lot. The town is really stretched out with at least 20km of developments along the approach to town – all sand and beach. Designed for Gringos. Many were set well back from the water and were higher end stuff with guards at the gates, etc. Still looked kind of desolate, just houses sitting out in the open on sand. Guess I’m just too used to houses surrounded by trees.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Wandered around town for awhile and finally settled on El Capitán motel. . . bit pricy 480p but it looked like there were only 3 guests there. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Went for a walk looking for dinner. Town is nice but quite spread out. Seems nice but very quiet – I’m thinking the lack of tourists has to be devastating to towns like this. Finally found the restaurant / bar area and stopped at Chuy Place had a good Mexican meal. The best part was the garlic clams they brought out as an appy. Mmmm.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    About midnight some Mexican dirt bikers / quads arrived and partied for a couple of hours in the motel parking lot. Grrrr, I woke me up and, I didn’t invite me. Then the motel apparently gave one of them a key to my room and this guy comes busting in just as I was dozing off again. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    #12
  13. HH

    HH Hurricane Harry

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    Hola Rex, :wave nice meeting you, looking foward to the rest of your adventure.
    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Hey Double H it was indeed a pleasure meeting you and your buddie s. Sounds like you were having a blast on some of those gnarly Baja roads. I really enjoyed listening to all the stories. :freaky

    I can even see me and the back end of my bike in your pic.
    #14
  15. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Was thinking about taking an extra day in San Felipe but was grumpy from lack of sleep and decided to carry on. Glad I did. Didn&#8217;t know what to expect since I knew there was supposed to be a couple hundred km of gravel road so, loaded up on water and snacks and headed south. Got gas first and the Pemex girl tried to stiff me for 10 p &#8211; beats the 100 p one guy tried to stiff me last year. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    When I first left San Felipe, I kept seeing these roads in the sand running parallel to the paved road. Thought it looked cool and I sould try riding it &#8211; looked pretty solid. Guess just quads had been on it &#8211; it was soft and deep and my bike sank down like the Titanic and here I am wiggling all over the place like that snake the Honey Badger just caught. Quickly got back on the road &#8211; didn&#8217;t dump it though!
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Turns out the government is slowly paving this road and they now have about 140km of paved and with still 80km not pavedl. Eventually the brand new highway pavement ran out . . . no sign &#8211; just humping a long at 120k and realize the road disappears &#8211; start to slow and then can see that it not only disappears but turns to dirt, drops down and turns left. Jeebus! Good brakes!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Road from then on was combination of gravel, rock, sand (geez I hate sand) and a combination thereof, oh, and washboard. Like putting the bike on a paint shaker.

    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Came across three riders heading my direction. Stopped and chatted with them at the store about half way along. Two of them were a couple from Brittan doing a two year round the world ride. The other fellow was a friend of theirs from San Felipe. Nice people. Paul & Angie www.twobikesrunning.co.uk

    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Stopped at Coco&#8217;s corner. What a hoot. I see why everybody talks about Coco. Coco had a good time getting his pic taken with Angie . . . and she added to his collection.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    You can rent a room at Cocos
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Or, you might want to sit under the stars and watch TV
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>Paul, a guy from the Learning to Drive a Land Rover group, Angie, Paul, another LDLR and RexBuck.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Left Coco&#8217;s headed for Bahia de Los Angeles. Thought I would have to use my spare gas. Decided to see how far I could get. Made it with 0.2 liter left and didn&#8217;t have to touch the spare.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Riding down the only road in town checking out the 4 or 5 motels and the owner of one is standing out front waving me in. Go back, nice place, well looked after, good parking back from the road and the owner, Victoria has this huge dog Scooby that I don&#8217;t think any ladrón would want to mess with. I&#8217;m the only one here - guess it will be a slow night in the restaurant. Within 2 hours there are about 13 dirt bikes here &#8211; 3 groups &#8211; rooms are packed &#8211; restaurant and the bar will be going for a while. Victoria is smiling.

    My bike sitting out by itself ready to lure a bunch of dirtbikes in (See Double H's pic above)
    [​IMG]

    Victoria and Scooby
    [​IMG]

    <o:p></o:p>
    #15
  16. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    By the way, the name of this motel is Costa del Sol. Had breakfast and settled up with Victoria about $60 for room, dinner, breakfast and a bunch of beers. Didn’t worry about the bike with Scooby around. I think she hustles pretty hard and is a good businessman – it looks like she is building a second building with a bunch of additional rooms – it looks like she has figured out how to cater to the dirt bike crowd. As soon as these guys pulled in she was there greeting them, assigning rooms and taking their drink orders. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Considered taking the road south of Bahia de LA but after talking to some of the dirt bikers it sounded like it would be 200k of pretty rough conditions and a lot of work. When a dirt biker tells me a road “should be doable with that bike”, I interpret that as “you’re an idiot to take that pig on that road.” So, decided to stick to pavement today. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Some of the hills coming out of Bahia de LA. The scraggly stick on the right with short little branches is predominate at a bit lower altitude.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Generally a pretty mundane ride with a lot of really straight road interspersed with some short but really bitchin twisties. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Stopped in Guerro Negro for gas and come across Paul and Angie in front of a hotel. Stopped and chatted with them – sounds like they wanted to do some whale watching and they were figuring out if they could make the logistics work. It is many times a worry to park your bike somewhere strange with a bunch of gear piled on it. Hope they got out in a boat and were able to see some of those big fish. Of course, they could just wait until they are further down the mainland coast and check out the beaches in front of the resorts – lots of ballenas laying on the beaches.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Whale skeleton at the entrance to Guerro Negro. This happens to be located on Army land and the Army guard across the street wasn’t too happy that I stopped there but, he let me take the picture anyhow.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I gassed up and carried on and did a quick rest stop at San Ignacio. Cool little town. After looking at hundreds of kilometers of endless sand and cactus, the drive in to San Ignacio was a nice change – an oasis with tons of palm trees and the road even crosses a small pond. Cool old church on an immaculate town square. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> [​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Came across this bridge across an area I assume is susceptible to flooding it'll be a lake when it is flooded. I guess their budget must have run out before they finished the last chunk closest to me. Flooding and flash floods seems to be a predominate concern in most of the flat areas. Many water crossings (virtually all now dry) that must make life interesting in the wet season.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    On the ride to Santa Rosalia spotted what was obviously a volcano in the distance – turned out to be Las Tres Virgins. Cursory research shows a lot of volcanic activity in the area and Santa Rosalia sits in the middle of a caldera.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Heading for Santa Rosalia to find a place for the night. Well, talk about reality differing from what I thought I would see. The town appeared significantly bigger than I thought. Secondly, as you drive in, pass a dozen or more of large industrial plants that have obviously stopped operating years ago. The downtown is kind of different for a Mexican town – almost has décor that you would expect in Wyoming or Montana – looked kind of old western style. Turns out the town was the processing center for a large copper mine in the area that ceased operations in the 1950’s. It was established by a French mining company in the late 19<SUP>th</SUP> century which leads to the distinctively different appearance of the town.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The hotels I came across seemed to range from ratty to rattier. I checked on one and it probably would have been ok but no wifi – already had in my head that I should go to Mulege so, I did.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Nice ride to Mulege (That is pronounced Moo-Lay-Hay) but it was now after 5 and that’s about when the sun goes down. Oh yah, changed time zones. So now the sun goes down a bit before 6. This was more what I had in mind. A little more vibrant. Wandered around, settled on the Mulege Hotel 400p (about U$31) – good room. The only single beer the tienda across the street would sell me was a quart . . . <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    #16
  17. stickman1432

    stickman1432 Crusty Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Nice report so far...........keep up the good writing and photos are always a must since inmates love the pictures since they tell a better story for the reading impaired :lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3. Take that 800GS off road !!! you should have taken the road from Bay of LA to San Fransquito and then to Visciano. It is a easy road that is very doable with the tires you have on the bike. Continue to have fin and keep us up to date.............:wink:
    #17
  18. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Thanks for following along Stickman and thanks for the compliments. Probably should have done that road but that morning, just didn't feel like it. More to come.
    #18
  19. gasandasphalt

    gasandasphalt Been here awhile

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    Really nice report, enjoy it a lot... Ride safe, watch the 'twisties',,,, I got 'hit' on one last year, pickup on my side of the road....
    #19
  20. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Thanks for that Gas and thanks for following along. Yes, Mexican driving style is certainly less "constrained" than we see in North America. It is sure hard not give it on some of these roads though. Hope your "hit"wasn't serious.
    #20