Travelin' Light - Riding 2up through the Americas

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by csustewy, May 5, 2011.

  1. potski

    potski Wiley Wanderer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    572
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    In the mountains
    Hi csustewy,
    Looks like you are both enjoying the trip, some great photos, thanks for taking us all along. :clap
    Like you I came from bigger bikes, Guzi Californias/Z1000 Kawasakis, generally road bikes, so the little dual purpose Transalp was a strange but extremely pleasant experience. Bad news regarding your swinging arm/frame. My bikes are not moonstone they are "winterlake blue" in reality they look silver/grey; I think the white/blue like yours is one of the best.
    Just out for a day trip myself now..:wink:
    Ride safe both and Keep it coming.

    Cheers
    Potski :freaky
    #41
  2. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    551
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    back in Denver
    We ended up driving through the industrial part of Phoenix for a majority of our morning, then found a Greek restaurant in downtown Tempe. From there we drove towards Tucson hoping to find some camping in the national parks surrounding the city. We could see the mountain where we thought we would be able to camp, but every road seemed to lead to more Tucson sprawl. We couldn't figure out how to find these huge parks in the GPS either and the people we asked at the gas station were of very little help, so we just drove around for awhile hoping to magically find a place to camp. Eventually we got to Saguaro National Park, but there was no camping there, and they were closing the park because it was getting dark. The first park ranger we saw recommended a couple of pay parks that may or may not be closed for the night and do not allow people to come in after hours. The other recommended place was about 30 minutes in the direction we had just come from and we didn't really want to backtrack. We were standing around trying to figure out what to do when another park ranger arrived and told us there was free camping about 15 minutes from there.

    We found a place just off the road and as we set up (in the complete dark by this point) we noticed that a lot of cars were coming up and down the mountain even though we were on a gravel road seemingly as in the middle of nowhere as possible in Tucson. We got all set up and cooked some dinner with just our headlamps as light and were getting ready to head to the tent when 2 cars pulled into our pulloff where we had set up. They were the law enforcement for the park service. They said they had been watching us get set up and had been laughing at our lack of lights. They ended up being really nice guys and were very interested in our trip. They also told us that our camping area was very popular among high school and college students and this weekend was graduation so a lot of kids were coming up to party. We missed out on the parties but did get some of the noise. Here is a look at the site.

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    In the morning we got loaded up and headed back to the road. It looked like the sand on the way up a steep incline back to the road was pretty solid, but we ended up stuck pretty good and had a nice, gentle fall, although Mike's back hasn't felt the same since. The rear wheel dug in some, with a slippery rock in front of it, but some light pushing and throttle got us out no problem.

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    Our goal for the day was to buy a cooler (temperature-wise) motorcycle jacket for Jill and to get to Brisbee, AZ to couchsurf. We ended up running errands all over Tucson until about 3:00. The good news is that Jill ended up with a screaming deal on a cooler jacket. The bad news is that she mailed the coat home and forgot to clean out the front top pockets, which had the spare keys, thus creating another round of errands to try to make copies of the keys. During our marathon errand running session we also found some cooler motorcross socks for super cheap, so that was a plus.

    We are enjoying Hermosillo, MX now, and will get some more ride report updates soon...
    #42
  3. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    back in Denver
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." -Hunter S. Thompson as requoted by Karl, couchsurfing extraordinaire

    We really didn't expect a whole lot out of Bisbee, AZ. We only decided to go there because it was close to the border and had a person on couchsurfing with a place to stay. Bisbee ended up being a definite highlight of our trip thus far. The drive to Bisbee is beautiful because despite being desert, it is green and has different kinds of trees than in the desert. This is because the elevation is about the same as in Denver (approximately 5300 feet). Tombstone is not far away so we stopped in to take a look. They have preserved the town well, but it is quite the tourist trap, with hired actors dressed as old West characters.

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    This is the courthouse. It closed at 5 and we got there at 10 'til. As soon as we walked in the door the person selling tickets told us they were closed and was pretty serious about us not looking around too much.

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    Driving into Bisbee, you see a lot of houses built into a mountain. The town was established in the 1880s and a lot of the original buildings still exist.

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    Our couchsurfing host, Karl, lives in an awesome old house, moved over from Tombstone in 1906, that he has been pretty much rebuilding for the past 8 years. He was a very cool guy with lots of amazing experience, like hitchhiking through Africa, and a lot of great knowledge about the area. He took us for a driving tour of the town and cooked us dinner, then we hit up a few bars to check out the local scene. Bisbee has a very different feel than most towns and it collects a variety of odd characters. There are even cave dwellers that still live just outside of town.

    The following day, Karl took us on a hike outside of town along the San Pedro river. (Who would've expected a riparian area in the middle of southern AZ?) It is known for its birds and we saw lots of really cool bird, highlights included the elegant great blue heron and the small bright red vermillion flycatchers. The hike also took us to the ruins of a town called Charleston, "The Town too Mean to Live" (in contrast to Tombstone's slogan "The Town too Tough to Die"). Charleston was run by the Clantons, rivals of the Earps in Tombstone, that led up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. Apparently the town was really too mean to live and was eventually abandoned after a flood in the late 1800's. The US government practiced bombing it during WWII but several walls still remain of the structures.

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    Not far from the ghost town there were several petroglyphs made by the Native Americans who lived there. It is estimated that some of the glyphs were from 2-3000 years ago.

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    After the hike, closer to Old Bisbee we passed one of the old copper mines that surround the area. The mines are not currently active, but the area will definitely feel the effects of the mine for a long time to come.

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    All in all, we had a wonderful time in Bisbee. Karl was a great host and we really enjoyed hanging out with him for 2 days.

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    In the morning we headed for the Douglas/Agua Prieta border and got across in 1 hour. We made it to Hermosillo, Mexico with absolutely no problems and stayed with a couchsurfing connection there. We are about to head to Bahia de Kino to go to the beach and will post more about our wonderful experiences in Mexico soon.
    #43
  4. clyderiver77

    clyderiver77 n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
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    Northshore - East Coast - Massachusetts
    Loving following this..... and I LOVE the bike! I have a Vstrom and would love to do something like this someday.... so for now, while trapped in the working world, I am enjoying the escape of following you two! Enjoy and ride safe!
    #44
  5. hogdoc

    hogdoc Been here awhile

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    Id Ho
    Have a great trip, looks like your off to a good start!
    #45
  6. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
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    Location:
    back in Denver
    We thought about crossing the border in Naco, AZ but from a short internet search we discovered that the Banjército was permanently closed, so we decided to go through Douglas, AZ / Aqua Prieta, SON instead. After all the negative publicity about the border region of Mexico, we half expected to get robbed or gunned down the second we crossed. In reality, we crossed the border with no problems whatsoever. We were able to get the tourist visa in the same building as the Banjercito and the entire process took about an hour mostly due to being in line behind one other person. We were a little nervous about getting the temporary vehicle import permit needed to bring the bike into the country because Mike had forgotten to turn in his permit last time he was in Mexico and we had heard horror stories that we could possibly have to pay up to $50 US per day that the permit was not turned in (the permit was from 2007 so it would have been really expensive) or potentially pay a bribe of a couple hundred dollars US to clear up the situation. Luckily, Mike had gotten a new passport and a different bike (new VIN) in the meantime and received no hassle at all. Overall, the process was very easy, efficient and quick.


    After we received our visas and the permit for the bike we walked to the bank to get smaller bills than the 500 pesos we got at an exchange in Douglas. When we walked in it was just us, the bank teller and a guy we had seen at the border crossing itself. As soon as we walked in, the teller asked the man if he knew English because she wanted to find out what we needed and she didn´t speak English. The man said something like, "He speaks Spanish very well." Then Mike jumped in with his "mas o menos" and everybody thought the whole encounter was hilarious.


    We were able to find our way through town pretty easily and took highway 2 through some nice mountains until we hit the toll highway 15. We chose to take the toll highway because google said the other way to Hermosillo took about 2 hours longer and Jill was nervous about getting away from the border. The toll highway ended up being very windy with lots of big trucks and cost about $6. If we had it to do over, both of us would have chosen the slower, curvier mountain road over the toll road. But either way, it was nice to get to Hermosillo!
    #46
  7. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    We arrived in Hermosillo in the late afternoon and met up with our couchsurfer host, Marco. He lives in a beautiful house in a nice part of town. Overall impressions of Hermosillo were that the town was quite modern and had a very welcoming feel.

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    This is the governor´s office. It was stunning with murals throughout.

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    The new plaza.

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    Main cathedral.

    One of the reasons we found Hermosillo so welcoming could have been because Marco was such a great host. He welcomed us into his house with open arms and we really enjoyed our conversations with him. His English was impeccable and he was a really funny guy. He is also very spiritual and is a Reiki master. We were able to benefit from both something called alphabiotics and from Reiki and both of us felt sincerely more calm and centered afterwards. He also introduced us to some great food. Taco fish was one of our favorites.

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    Us with Jesus (left) and Marco. Jesus was Marco´s friend and business partner. Also a great, hilarious guy that we were very happy to have met.

    We also tried burros which is basically a huge burrito filled with meat, the best hot dogs in town and apparently ranked in the top 50 foods in the world, and a very strong local liquor, Bacanora, that tastes and smells pretty much like rubbing alcohol (Mike´s reaction was not quite as harsh as that, but yeah, moonshine comes to mind...). Oh, that and the best pan dulce in town at el Gran Milagro.

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    We very much enjoyed our 2 days in Hermosillo and it was hard to leave, both figuratively and literally. Literally because once we were all loaded up on the bike, and went to start it, she was only running on the front cylinder with no tachometer reading. That´s a common issue on the older Transalp´s - the CDI decided to die. Luckily, we were still in Marco´s front yard (shaded!) and Mike had brought an extra. It was a pretty quick and easy fix and we were able to get it changed out within a half hour.

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    #47
  8. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    551
    Location:
    back in Denver
    After the needed repairs to the TA, we headed west to get to Bahía de Kino for some relaxing beach time. The drive was direct, windy, and hot - we have this amazing ability to drive at the hottest time of day, and today was no exception. But that just made our arrival at the beach town that much more perfect! Not knowing where to go, we toured around Kino Viejo, but couldn´t find the restaurant that Jesus had recommended, so headed over to Kino Nuevo, where we stopped for some fresh mariscos.

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    We asked all over town, but had little luck finding a cheap hotel room so went back over to Kino Viejo where we found a sweet hacienda hotel that was all ours. It ate up most of our daily budget, but was very close to the beach, had a pool, and was very comfortable. We walked up and down the beach that afternoon, passing the fishermen cleaning their catch.

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    The next morning we went back out to the beach to walk and enjoy the water. Entertainment was provided by flocks of birds doing some fishing, some for themselves by grabbing fish out of the water, others by grabbing fish secondarily from other birds.

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    It was a relaxing, but short lived, time at the beach. Intending to get plenty of beach time as we travel further south, we decided to head due east towards Creel and the Copper Canyon, managing once again to leave just before noon...
    #48
  9. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    On the macro Mexico AAA road map, the road looks rather straight towards Creel. In the micro reality (or zoomed in GPS map), that road is an amazingly twisty path that keeps your average speed down below 50 kph (30 mph). It was gorgeous! It took an hour or so to get out of the industrial flats just east of Hermosillo, but then we climbed our way up the hills, transitioning from low lying desert to high altitude forested mountains.

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    We ended up pulling into Yecora, Sonora at dusk, after 5 hours of mountainous riding. We were ready for a rest!

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    The hotel we found was nice, with large rooms, and conveniently located immediately next to a taco stand and across from a Tecate shop - both served an important role in our recovery. A long night´s rest prepared us for more of the same the following day.

    Our goal was to see Basaseachi Falls, and perhaps camp there depending on timing, weather, hiking, etc. It took another few hours of intense mountain roads before making it to the National Park. For any of you interested in riding through this part of Mexico, we would highly recommend this route. There wasn´t too much truck traffic, the roads were all in good shape (even brand new on Mexico 22/23/110 (depending on which stretch) from Basaseachi to San Juanito, just north of Creel), and the ride itself was exhilirating!

    We took a short walk down a path to view la Cascada de Basaseachi.

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    Once there, we saw that the falls were just a trickle - best to view them in June, July, Aug - but the views from on top were outstanding.

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    We decided to not camp there, but rather head on over to Creel where we would stay for 2 nights, allowing us one full day of relaxation before heading down into the Copper Canyon, which we´re both excited to see.

    We are currently at a backpacker´s hostel (la Posada) in Creel, which turned out to be a screaming deal. We were quoted a bed in a shared room at 100 pesos/person, private room without bath at 150/ppn, and private room with bath at 200/ppn. We sprung for the private room no bath, thinking our total for 2 nights would be 600 pesos. Due in part to a key that wouldn´t open the door to our first room, and in part to the state of inebriation of the inn keeper, we were bumped up to a private room with bath at a total cost of 400 pesos for both of us, both nights. This room is definitely worth $17 a night.

    We´ll see what we find in Batopilas tomorrow, may stay there for a night or two, or may head towards Guachochic and on towards Hidalgo del Parral. A ver...
    #49
  10. C-Stain

    C-Stain Accredited Nincompoop

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    Wow!

    I don't know how I missed this one...

    Subscribed..
    #50
  11. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

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    Pnw
    :lurk
    #51
  12. hansi

    hansi Teurer Abenteurer

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    :lurk Awesome, I'm in!
    #52
  13. clyderiver77

    clyderiver77 n00b

    Joined:
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    Northshore - East Coast - Massachusetts
    I too subscribed..... next time you are snapping pics, can you take a new one of the TransAlp?

    Thanks!
    #53
  14. McBike

    McBike Been here awhile

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    May 18, 2008
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    Durango/Ft. Worth for work
    Great report you two. I am in for the duration. Good luck!
    #54
  15. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    C-Stain, manshoon, hansi, clyderiver77, & McBike -

    Jill and I are glad that you´re following along with us! And we´ll do our best to get some more Transalp porn posted soon. She just got some fresh fluids this morning, so she´s ready to be shown off.

    More to follow...
    #55
  16. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    We ended up staying in Creel for 3 nights and La Posada ended up being a great spot to be. We would recommend it if you are passing through. The owner, Mario, is a really nice guy, it is free to use the computer and internet, free coffee, and lots of free beer if you hang out with him and his friends. Plus the place was really quiet because it is the slow season and there were very few other guests.

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    The first day we arrived, we were pretty spent from the previous two long days (long for us, at least)of curvy riding on Highway 16. So, once we checked in we took it pretty easy. They were having a fair during the time we were there, so we checked it out a couple of times. The food was really good. They also had live music one night and traditional dancing another.

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    We saw people walking around with a flat pizza looking thing and we had to find some. Come to find out, they were called chimichangas and they actually tasted like waffle cones. They spread a mayonaise like substance on the waffle bread and put lettuce, carrots, meat, cheese and other goodness on top all for about $1.

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    Here are some other sights from our stay in Creel.

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    On our second evening, we met a lawyer who works for an organization helping to protect the rights of the Tarahumara, one of the few indigenous tribes to never be conquered. He had learned so much from them, and shared a few fascinating stories about their way of life and some of their current struggles. We offered to promote his organization in the sidebar at the right of our blog with a direct paypal link for those that would like to donate, but that didn´t pan out, mostly because of differences in technology. With it being such a small operation, the website for their organization is constantly in progress (so much so that he was hesitant to share it), and paypal was a strange concept. We´ll continue to see if the donate button idea could work for local organizations along the way, but the first couple of attempts have been less successful than hoped.

    That night, we ended up hanging out with the group of locals that frequent la Posada every night. We had a really good time talking to everybody and ended up going to the bars with them, which the owner of la Posada also ran. Needless to say, we were out way too late and were way too "tired" to get up early and drive to Batopilas through Copper Canyon. So, we relaxed another day and caught up on some reading and relaxing.
    #56
  17. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

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    back in Denver
    Emotions included excitement, enthusiasm, fear, anxiety, wonder, and awe as we set off from Creel towards Batopilas at the bottom of Copper Canyon. Mike was very much looking forward to showing off his unrealized dual sport riding skills, Jill was excited to see the small town and surrounding scenery, and we had both heard some warnings about the state of Batopilas - apparently everybody in town is somehow connected to drugs. But the more we asked people, the more specific they were. Not much happens in Batopilas itself. Which makes sense because that place is so far out of the way from anywhere.

    Riding from Creel south to the Copper Canyon turnoff was stunning and fairly quick.

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    Pavement continued after the turnoff for a little while, but it was a well-maintained (new?) road with lots of turns and not much traffic. One military checkpoint slowed us down, but as usual they waved us through after a few simple questions.

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    [​IMG]The fun began once the road turned to dirt. Mike has never been much of a dirt bike rider (save the very first time he ever rode a motocycle, which was on a friend´s (thanks Joe B!) 400cc 2-stroke set up for motocross racing so the clutch wouldn´t even fully disengage out in a Iowan cornfield with dry husks covering the rowed dirt...it was exciting to say the least, but apparently not enough dirt experience...), has never had a dual sport bike until preparing for this trip, and somehow convinced Jill that all of this was perfectly okay and that the ride down Copper Canyon would be great. Well, it kinda was... The first section of the road is packed dirt, with tight hairpin turns, and steep drops on the downhill side.



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    We had a letter from Rogelio, a friend we met at La Posada in Creel, to be delivered to his wife Sherry, an American who runs la Vista de Puente Bed and Breakfast in la Bufa, about 27 km short of Batopilas. It was kind of a fun mission for us, as we didn´t have an address or a name of the B&B, but rather a simple (and very Latin American) description of how to deliver this letter. And sure enough it worked out. Sherry wasn´t at the B&B, but was at the store 1 km further down the road, just as Rogelio explained. She was very nice and enjoyed living there, having commited full time a few years ago. Her B&B was beautiful, overlooking the river, but we continued on to our goal of Batopilas. We can´t vouch for it, but if anyone´s headed that way it could be a relaxing place to stay. She mentioned a price of 350 pesos per person (almost US$30) for room and board (another driving factor for us to continue onto our goal of Batopilas).

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    As we continued on down the canyon, the road had some rockier sections. Worst of all, and unexpectedly, it had some sandier sections too. We were rounding a right hand turn in the middle of the 2-track to avoid the washboard. About 3/4 of the way through the turn, we were on top of an ankle-deep mound of sand that had formed between the tire ruts. We didn´t stay on top of that mound for long. We were leaning slightly to the right, moving around 20 mph when the front wheel just disappeared down the mound to the left side. We both hit the ground before we knew it, Jill was thankful that her full face helmet caught the rocks instead of her chin. Mike was glad to be wearing the riding boots as his leg was still under the right saddlebag, resulting in a tweaked ankle. At least not too much damage was done. Except for our right side engine guard bag was now hanging on by a thread. Velcro straps to the rescue! It got held back on well enough to make Batopilas, we drank some water and headed on down... more cautiously and without further incident.

    [no image available, but please wait for Part II...]

    That afternoon we walked out to the mission church of San Miguel de Satevo (built circa 1600) further downriver. It turned out to be a very hot hour and 20 minute walk one way. We left around 3 in the afternoon hoping the canyon walls would offer some shade, but not until the way back did that happen. At least we could buy water in Satevo.

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    A shower and a meal, plus about 3 liters of water each, were welcomed that night. We stayed at Juanita´s near the far end of town, just off the corner of the plaza. She was very nice, allowed us to pull our bike into the courtyard, and the room was very clean. Not bad for 300 pesos, especially how safe it felt given our concern what Batopilas may be like at night.

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    Surprisingly, the town felt even safer and more comfortable in the early evening until around 9pm than during the daytime. There were more people out, including young children, families and teens, and much less of an edge. We didn´t go looking for drugs, and wouldn´t recommend anyone else do that there based on what we heard, but we really had no trouble at all.


    Our computer time is running short, so please stay tuned for Part II. We are currently in Durango, heading for the coast tomorrow!
    #57
  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    $8 just to go in the visitor center? Holy cow. I was sort of out that way a couple weeks ago and had hoped to visit Hoover Dam. I ended up not making it that far, but now I'm kind of glad I didn't. I don't think I could pay $30.

    Really happy to read your report. You're clearly not in a hurry, a refreshing change from reading other reports.

    And I wish I were as successful at couchsurfing as you. Are you sending out couch requests many days in advance? Admittedly, with the way I travel most of my couch requests are same-day, and not surprisingly most of them are declined. I wish I were more organized as to set up a route beforehand. Couchsurfing has always been a great experience.

    Jamie
    #58
  19. Oldfart123

    Oldfart123 Adventurer

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    Guys, I'm enjoying reading about your trip but can't help but think Jill is the one writing dutifully while Mike is concentrating on driving, eating, and drinking!
    Well, maybe not in that order! By the way, did you guys replace the electronic unit that crapped out earlier in the trip?
    Atlanta Eric
    #59
  20. Lunatic

    Lunatic Dan Keyhoety

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    DOWN ON THE BORDER , LAS CRUCES, NUEVO MEHICO
    Subscribed !!:clap:clap:clap
    #60