El largo camino a Florida

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScotsFire, Mar 12, 2021.

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  1. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    My GF and I were discussing possible trips last fall, largely as a way to obscure the fact that she hasn't visited her mother on the east coast for almost two years. Apparently COVID is not a good enough excuse anymore. As her mom lives in Florida in the winter, I coyly suggested, not expecting to get any traction, that Mexico is RIGHT THERE from Florida. I mean you could practically swim to the Yucatan I say. Next thing I know, I've been instructed to explore renting bikes in Cancun.

    As it turns out, there are at least a couple of motorcycle rental outlets in Cancun, but the only ones I could get any decent info on either rented Harleys or scooters. And the cruisers were a couple hundred dollars a day. "It'd be WAY less expensive," says I, "for me to ride my bike to Cancun and meet you in Florida to meet your mom. Then we both fly back to Cancun and at least one bike will already be paid for." Amazingly, she bought that line. Yeah. I'm lucky, I know.

    Therefore, the plan is as follows:
    • Haul the bike to Tucson in the pickup.
    • Ride to Cancun
    • Fly to Tampa for a weekend, then back to Cancun. (First time buying a round trip ticket TO the USA. It still seems a little weird, but very cool!)
    • Ride mostly two up to Oaxaca, where @NotaYinzer will fly home. We will attempt to find a rental for her for a couple of days. She wasn't real comfortable riding in or out of any larger cities, but we have a couple of options in the states of Chiapas or Oaxaca.
    • Then I'll have to find something to occupy myself while I meander back to the truck. Gosh. Guatemala is RIGHT THERE!
    @Drybones graciously offered to allow me to store my truck at his place. And in a recent turn of events, HIS new GF is interested in riding in MX for a few days. So I'll ride one day with them to get them settled in and headed into the Copper Canyon. I will attempt to browbeat John into doing a report, or at least adding pics and info about his trip in this thread (BONUS CONTENT!)

    Here is a link to my 2019 MX ride report.
    #1
  2. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 11 & 12, 2021: Not a short drive, but not too bad

    But first, a little back story. We live in Kellogg ID. This is an epic riding area, but you know... snow.
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    We certainly were aware of this phenomenon prior to moving here. Counting on it actually.
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    So we've been as active outdoors this time of year as in the North Idaho riding season. But a funny thing happened to me. Having a season pass and being three minutes from the gondola has meant that there has been a plethora of opportunities to play in the snow. A couple of weeks ago we got a half foot of fresh powder and I was like... "Meh." too much of a good thing apparently.

    Also, I finally bit the bullet to upgrade the front forks on my F800GSA.

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    I did the rear shock a couple of years ago, and it was easily the best motorcycle money I've ever spent. The rear was due for a service, so I sent both forks and shock to Tim Porter's Beemerworks (where I had purchased the rear). They did their magic, but UPS kind of messed up my timeline a bit. Normally it's two or three days from Idaho to the Bay Area. With my kit, it took eight days down, and five north. Also, the fork cartridge kits got delayed by the arctic blast a couple weeks ago.
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    End result was I didn't get the bike back together till Wednesday the 10th, when I'd planned on leaving Kellogg on the 5th. Not a whole lot later, but it will restrict some things I had wanted to see on the way south.

    And when I say back together on Wednesday, it wasn't till later in the evening. Which meant that I was a lot later leaving Thursday morning as I still had some collecting and packing to complete. Also the battery was dead. It's real hard to push a GS up the ramps into the truck. Blah, blah, weak ass excuses, blah. I finally hit the road just after lunch time.

    The drive south was pretty uneventful and I was able to catch up on my Dubioza Kolektiv on Spotify. (If you start listening to something while you have cell service, it will continue to play through the buffering when you lose the coverage. At least a good 45 minutes worth I'd guess.)
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    I made pretty good time till I left Interstate 15 in southern Utah. From there to a good forty miles south of Flagstaff, it was sunny, snowing heavily, or both.
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    It did make for some breathtaking scenery.
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    All of which I've seen before, but never with the snow.

    The sun on the wet pavement created a strange fog effect, but only on the roadway itself.
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    Once dropping a few thousand feet elevation, the snow quit though there were still a handful of rain squalls. This of course made the agony of driving in the Phoenix metro area just that much more special.

    I met John and Cyndi at her place, and after unloading the bike and cleaning up we had supper there. Tacos. At least I wasn't the one that brought up at the table that perhaps there will be an opportunity for tacos in the near future on the south side of the border. (But I was thinking it!) Nonetheless, they were tasty and filling. And just to remind me that southern Arizona is not like a lot of other places in the US, we had a parade.
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    A dozen or so javelinas just walked through the yard as John and I were standing ten feet away.

    The plan tomorrow is to cross, take care of the paperwork, then ride to Banamichi. I'll part with John and Cyndi there, as my flight to Tampa is on the 26th, and that seems awfully soon.

    Tonight though, I am enjoying John's home while getting this report booted up. BTW...
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    You're out of Kilt Lifter @Drybones
    #2
  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    And another thing, or really THE big thing now. COVID.

    I'm going to say what consideration and thought process I had in dealing with this issue, solely in the interest of sharing my trip preparation process. The moderators don't tolerate any political opinions or such in the ride reports, so we will all very much NOT GO THERE IN THIS THREAD! Thank you.

    I have taken the risks of the disease seriously, and did so from the first. I was in Mexico last winter, and came back to the US when the State Department threatened to do a hard closure that would keep US Nationals from returning home. Obviously that didn't happen, but that was the scuttlebutt last March. Beyond that, I had real concerns about being a source of contagion. I was riding in small towns and villages, several in a day, usually the only "outsider" in town. If I unknowingly had it without being sick yet...

    So, a year later we know more about the virus, and we also know that I've had it already (thankfully relatively mild symptoms). I've also been fortunate enough to have gotten the vaccine. Studies show that with those factors of protection:
    a) It is very unlikely that I could catch it again, and almost assured that I won't get very sick from it if I did catch it.
    b) It is also nearly a zero risk that I could catch it again and be able to spread it to others.

    Given that many communities in Mexico are eagerly welcoming back tourism (while some are locking all non-residents out) and that I will take precautions including wearing masks when appropriate, I feel that it is pretty safe for me to ride there, as well as safe for the communities I visit.
    #3
  4. NotaYinzer

    NotaYinzer Adventurer

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    You make it sound as if I have been duped. Just so we're on the same page, I wasn't duped. You're just that lucky.
    #4
  5. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Being as Mexico is my favourite place to ride. I shall peddle along with you. Thinking I’ll use the DRZ (440) as it should be a good weapon for Mexico. Well that what I wish I was doing. Do enjoy !!!
    #5
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  6. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    :lol2 :lol2 :lol2

    Awesome @ScotsFire! You know, in addition to getting your suspension done, you should have looked into the water-paddle tire option for the Beemer. Sure, she's a bit heavier than that 2T, but you could have saved on round trip flights...lol.

    water-bike.jpg

    Seriously, and I mean seriously, look forward to following along on this adventure. What a great mix of visiting family, hanging out with other inmates, and getting the hell out of the cold and snow of the PNW (think you qualify for that nomenclature even living in ID?) for some Mexican sun.

    Knobby side down man, stay safe and enjoy the adventure.
    #6
  7. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 13, 2021: Sonoran border

    Having mostly loaded the bike the previous night, I started to pull the bike out and complete the packing in the morning so I could hit the grocery before breakfast at Cyndi's house.

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    It's a little hard to see in the picture, but yes that is snow. In Tucson. It cleared up pretty quickly and didn't make us late to get started. But it did give southern Arizona a different look.
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    After breakfast, it had mostly stopped raining with only some occasional sprinkles. It was still wet on the road surface, but not bad. Everything started swimmingly, except for John's loadout.
    (Video 55 seconds)

    We adjusted the bag straps and it worked fine after that. You should be more careful @Drybones.

    With no other issues, we crossed the border at Nogales. Traffic was the normal chaos, if more friendly to pedestrians than I've seen in some Mexican cities. After a stop at a bank to hit the ATM we headed south on MX15. There were lines to enter the bank lobby, and a short wait to get to one of the cash machines but not bad. Everyone was wearing masks.

    Once to the Aduana/Banjercito complex 12 miles south of the border, the wait was much longer. Only one person was processing the tourist permits, with a Saturday tourism workload. The wait to get inside (only those actually being helped were allowed in) was almost two hours. There were security guards to allow people in, as well as to make a token effort of social distancing in the line. The FMM person seemed to appreciate that I'd completed and paid for my permit online from home, as she completed my paperwork immediately while those filling out the forms by hand were being helped in steps and had to wait. Once to the counter, it only took the normal five minutes to process me though. There were four attendants for the TVIP station.

    Standing in line outside was chilly. There was a cover over the waiting courtyard so despite the clearing skies we had to stand in the shade. Once back on the bikes though, the sun made the low forties temperatures (f) bearable in spite of the highway speeds.

    Hanging a left at Magdalena de Kino, we rode the length of Sonora HW 54. The residences quickly thinned out to an occasional rancho. There were more shrines at first than houses.
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    The Sonoran Desert was starting to green up. It must have rained recently as the ocotillo were covered in leaves, and a handful of them were blooming.
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    The road had good pavement, few potholes, with only two areas of road work, seemingly to replace bridges. The detours around the work areas were rough dirt paths alongside the right of way, but were pretty firm. I would bet they'd be ankle deep sand if it were dryer. The large majority of the route was good road, with some twisties interspersed in short straight stretches.
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    It was too hilly for it to be the long boring straight-a-ways found in other parts of the desert.
    John and Cyndi seemed to enjoy it too.
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    They didn't mind when I stopped for pictures.
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    This was by far the longest Cyndi had ridden in a day. She did awesome.

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    I came across this dirt track walking back to grab one of the above pics.
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    Tempting, but probably just a driveway. Plus it was behind a closed gate. Probably not where John wants to ride his NC700 two up either.

    We arrived in Banamichi around five, fueled up then checked into the Hotel Los Arcos de Sonora. This is a beautiful place owned by Tom, @Turkeycreek on ADV. We had a couple of nice conversations with him, but had to hit the Oxxo before six. Alcohol is not to be sold after this time.
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    Here too occupancy was limited, to four customers at a time. Most people were in and out so the line moved quickly.

    Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a fire as it got dark, followed by a fine meal.
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    Tom stopped by to chat again. He said that his manager is on him to limit interactions with the guests, but he said that he can't stay away from riders when they are in. He had a lot of interesting stories on helping other bikers, suggestions on places to stop and road conditions, and how COVID played out locally.

    We were all dragging pretty early so tucked in before too long. Full Belly Syndrome probably was a contributing factor.

    222 total miles for the day, and while SON54 won't make anyone's "must ride" lists, it was a really pleasant first day ride.
    #7
  8. advrockrider

    advrockrider Long timer

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    Off to a good start. How did you find that band? I think I kind'a like them....
    #8
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  9. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    It was great having you here and putting faces with names. Enjoy the rest of your ride. Bien viaje.
    #9
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  10. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    Yes, yes he is!

    Imu
    #10
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  11. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Dubioza Kolektiv was one of the bands listed in an article about different music groups making on line shows duri g the lockdown last spring. I really dig them.

    This is from one of these shows.
    #11
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  12. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    @ScotsFire Next time mind your own effing brake light. Did you learn your lesson, Son!
    #12
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  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    I think it was Drybones shadow. I know you understand the gravitational pull of shadows.
    #13
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  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Awesome @ScotsFire, what a great way to have the first day in MX go (though what happened with the tip at the stop sign...foot planted in a hole or something...lol)?

    Really cool to stay at @Turkeycreek's hotel and hook up for some intel. I believe JamieZ was also that way at some point during his ride and have seen TC's name on several reports - food for thought for future rides as I've never ridden the mainland before.

    Look forward to what come next man, knobby side down and keep 'em coming.
    #14
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  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 14, 2021: Ruta de la Sierras

    Woke pretty early despite sleeping well, at least after the screeching child in the courtyard was seemingly smothered with a pillow promptly at 10 pm. Walked out on the balcony to take a couple pictures of the hotel (since it's really pretty and all.)
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    I then jumped back into bed since it was still below 40 degrees. The sun was misleading.

    After it warmed up a bit (and I put pants on) I went for a walk. Banamichi is pretty clean, if some sidewalk construction seems to be going on. The park/square is pretty nice.
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    Right across the street from the main church.
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    The Templa de Nuestra Senora de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies Mission) looked like it was preparing for Sunday Mass as the doors were open. In fact, it was just like the Johnny Cash song Sunday Morning Coming Down.

    Except I wasn't hung over, had a clean shirt on, eggs and beans for breakfast, and no one was baking pie.
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    Really, there weren't many people out at all.
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    Though the streets weren't technically deserted.
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    There were another couple dogs in the pack I didn't catch in this picture.

    By the time I got back to Hotel Los Arcos, Tom and John were about. Here's @Drybones checking out @Turkeycreek 's sweet Tiger Sidecar.
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    This would be a fun ride.
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    It was warming up nicely, with perfect blue skies.
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    It was so nice, that I ended up chatting with the boys and Cyndi for quite a while. I had planned on making a big ride out of the day, but the conversation and company was too enjoyable to cut short.

    There was no lack of riding though, it just didn't start till 11 or so.
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    The Rio Sonora passes through this valley, and where there's water in Mexico (and some flat-ish land) there will be agriculture.

    The skyline captured my attention approaching Baviacora.
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    Templo de la Purisma Concepcion
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    Mk. I and II.
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    It appears that the original temple was destroyed, and a new one built right next to the old one.
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    There is a date of 1979 on one of the arches in the "new" one. Also prepping for services. With some restrictions.
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    The ride south through the Rio Sonora valley was pretty, but it required a lot of slowing and accelerating due to the population density. Lots of villages, which result in lots of topes and traffic. Once I took the turn off SON89 onto SON17 though, people disappeared.
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    This route is called the Ruta de las Sierras (Route of the Mountains).
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    It certainly delivered, if not on the scale of the upcoming Copper Canyon.

    Lots of interesting (to me anyway) geology.
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    Basalt formations to ride around.
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    And just enjoy.
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    One thing less than enjoyable was the garbage.
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    These cartons still had eggs in them when dumped, and there was still a pretty potent odor. Disappointing, but really no different than in the US.

    I had lunch at Moctezuma, against my better judgement at a local version of Panda Express.
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    The taco stand next door was closed, and the steady stream of locals led me to trust it would be fine. Nothing to brag about, but I didn't get sick anyway.

    Turning south on SON14 started out mostly on another river plain, if not as green as the Sonora River's.
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    This SO reminded me of southern Arizona's portion of the Sonora Desert, westward from Tucson.

    Before long, the road got very fun.
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    The Rio Moctezuma had a surprising flow.
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    Blue heron working the river.
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    The road follows a tributary off the Rio Moctezuma. Much smaller, but still makes things real green.
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    This smaller river is dammed upstream and the reservoir helped explain the green fields nearby.
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    It was around here that the road surface got sketch. At first the plethora of potholes were filled with cold patch. This was done very recently so there was asphalt "gravel" all over the roadway. I was thinking to myself that I'd rather have the potholes. I was wrong. After a few miles of patches, the next ten or so was very badly potholed and really slowed me down.

    Fortunately, I was about to turn off the 14.
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    I was hoping the route was going up that face.

    Jackpot!
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    Looking back the way I'd come. First dirt roads of the trip.

    Not that these roads were all that challenging. Wide, firm gravel mostly.
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    Still, it was nice getting some dust on the boots.

    The geology stayed neat.
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    On one pass, there was this shrine. Inside the cut for the road.
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    It always surprises me how these are visited often and maintained. Some of the candles were still lit.
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    Even on this back road, shrines are common. I saw a small one carved into the basalt with a metal grate on it, that I didn't stop for a pic.

    Not that I wasn't stopping often for photos.
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    I get the most juvenile giggles every time I see one of these signs.
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    WATCH OUT FOR JUMPING CARS!!

    After several hours, I arrived at Yecora.
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    Coming in the back way so to speak.

    I had a blast riding the 240 miles for the day. The roads, excepting that last stretch of pavement, were in great shape and had no lack of hills and twisties. Yes the occasional straight stretch crossing a valley or such, but what a fun and scenic route.

    I have been taking a lot of video (went through three GoPro batteries just on this day) but it takes so much time to process it that other than snippets here and there, will probably have to wait till post trip to get it uploaded. Just getting these pictures up was a challenge on the Hotel King's wifi. I ended up using my cellular data to upload and post.
    #15
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  16. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Having just said I won't be working on video yet...
    It was 24 degrees in Yecora when I woke up, so a little more time than planned to mess around. I tried some different mounts than my normal, with less than optimal success.
    (Video 1:55 - no music)
    #16
  17. Claddaghman

    Claddaghman Been here awhile

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    Enjoying your ride report as reminds me of how much I loved riding in Mexico 2019/2020 winter with run down to Copper Canyon and Baja. Fingers crossed I’ll be heading down again fall of 2021.
    Hoping you might post some GPX tracks or at least a couple of maps showing your route.
    Enjoy your good fortune!
    #17
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  18. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

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    I really enjoyed your previous Baja/Copper Canyon RR, and I am following this RR with particular interest since I am halfway planning to venture down to Batopilas via Banamichi in just a few days. I say "halfway planning" because I've been debating whether to go now since the weather looks ideal, or to put it off until autumn (or even next spring) when Covid is hopefully a more distant memory. Like you, I've received the vaccine, and I've taken all precautions from the start of this mess. Of course, the residents of the communities in the canyons don't have any way of knowing this, so I'll be interested to read how you are received in those places.

    I like the photos of the roadside shrines; I also frequently stop to inspect those and I marvel at the ongoing care and attention that people give them.

    Eagerly awaiting the next update...
    #18
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  19. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

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    Same thoughts.
    #19
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  20. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Got to Creel today, and Batopilas tomorrow. So far there hasn't been anything making me think I shouldn't have taken this trip right now. @Jamie Z and others reported certain closures and even chains across the entry to towns, but nothing like that in Sonora and (so far) Chihuahua. Creel has way more people around today than when I was here last year. I'll touch more on COVID related observations, but my recommendation (pending arriving in Batopilas) is you should go now. The biggest hurdle I've had so far is the ATM here in Creel isn't working.

    Also recommend you go again in the fall, but that's another issue all together.
    #20