Oasis in the Desert

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chaper I: Epilogue to the winter journey 2008-2009

Settled in on the Taneycomo Lake at Branson Lakeside RV Park
Stormy and the HHR resting after a long journey

One-half mile from our RV site is the historical town of Branson

We have finally arrived at our summer destination

“I have not told half of what I saw” were the last words of Marco Polo on his death bed when asked if there was anything else he could share about his adventures of the Far East. I will copy his words. The trek across Mexico was a splendid adventure. One of the best! And I have only told half of what I saw and experienced. We will have to be very creative to top this trip on our next winter adventure. Back to Mexico, perhaps a trip to China, or who knows – we have six months to formulate our plans.

We are looking forward to a pleasant and rewarding experience this summer in Branson, MO. We enjoy our work with Camping World as Goodwill Ambassadors as we will call on many of the campgrounds in the area. We will take in the many shows and events, cruise Tabletop Lake, boat on the White River (perhaps catch a few trout), and meet many new faces as we tour the Ozarks. Of course, we have already purchased a season pass to Silver Dollar City and look forward to the festivals they are presenting this summer and fall.

The economy – well, when you are served lemons, make lemonade. Savor what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have. Our success is not measured by the dollars we make, but by the quality of life we are able to achieve.

So ends this blog… "Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased," wrote John Steinbeck, who also wrote "We do not take a trip, a trip takes us." Lynne, please send me notice of your blog and future journeys. And thanks to Charlotte, Shanon, Dana, Kathy, Walt and Rosy, Homer, and Brother Tom for riding along with us.

Problems along the way

Weird clouds overhead -- all bark, no bite

In addition to the Windy Tale story, we did have a few minor incidents – nothing really happened to endanger ourselves or our rig. There were a few bumps along the way that I could share with you.

After we crossed the border into Mexico, we took the Libre (free) road to Matamoras by mistake – the road was in very bad repair and full of pot holes. I thought that if this was a sample of road conditions along the Gulf Coast, I might rethink the trip. After leaving Matamoras, the roads did improve but the RV was given a through bump test. Other roads along the way gave us some cause to consider, making for a long day’s journey. We only averaged 30 miles/hour in our RV on most of the Mexican roads (I average about 50 miles/hour in the states). Topes and numerous small pueblos added delays. By my count, there were 1,745 topes along our route (if you haven’t already guessed, I made up that number -- but it is a close estimate). I advise that you take a Cuota (toll road) whenever possible.

I sideswiped a bridge lamp post in Poza Rica with my passenger side mirror. Good-Bye mirror. Replaced it in Catemaco with a school bus mirror, but lost that one on the way to Acapulco. The roads were very narrow in a few locations and although my RV body measures 8’-0”, it measures 10’-0” across with the mirrors. In my own defense, I noted most of the highway signs posted close to the highway had all been hit at one time or another. I was lucky, I only hit the passenger mirror less than 10 times with overhanging limbs and various road signs. Bought a new mirror in Acapulco and at present, it is still intact.

The brakes overheated on the way to Catemaco, but we were able to stop before it became too dangerous to drive. As mentioned earlier, we did replace the back brake pads in Catemaco. I did not tow the car down the Cuota from San Cristobal to Tuxtla Gutierrez (an altitude drop from 7000’ to 2000’). I was concerned about the brakes and transmission. I also did not tow the car along sections of the highway along the Pacific Coast. All went well to Tuxtla Gutierrez, but our brakes did overheat twice while towing the HHR over the mountains,

Getting lost – at least a dozen times, but we managed eventually to get back on track (I do that here in the states). We read the news about the problems at the border. We had a safe trip, no incidents, however, we did not travel at night, we did not visit border towns, we did not go to questionable areas of a strange city, we stayed at campgrounds or a Pemex station at night, and we are not in the drug business.

All in all, we had a good trip and a great adventure!

Run for the Border

Monterrey next stop
Still running for the border

Sandwiched between two beach bunnies

The Cuotas were great, but expensive

Active volcano near Colima
During our visit in Cuyutlan, we learned that the Camping World manager wanted us to start our seasonal job as Goodwill Ambassadors in Branson, MO immediately. Thus, we decided to conclude our Mexico tour and head for the border. We camped for two nights in the Chimulco campground (a hot springs spa) in Villa Corona (west of Guadalajara). From there we began our forced march to the border. We drove through Guadalajara to San Luis Potosi and spent the night in a very nice Pemex complex (complete with restaurants and convenience store).

Early the next morning found us on the road to Monterrey. We drove through Monterrey and stayed at a motel about half way between Monterrey and Laredo, TX. The following day we arrived at the border check-in at the Columbia crossing (a good crossing in that you bypass the crowded Nuevo Laredo and Laredo crossing).

We drove by the stand where we were required to turn in the holograms for our motor home and auto (required if you ever want to apply for another in the future). So after going through U.S. customs, we had to return to the Mexico side and let the Mexico staff remove the holograms. Back through U.S. customs, we were waved on and voila we were home again.

Back in the “Good ol’ USA” we drove north till we be arrived in Kyle, TX. (I am going to quit complaining about our Interstate System, it is great compared to what we experienced in Mexico, with the exception of the expensive toll roads or cuotas.) A good night’s sleep in a road-side RV Park we traveled on to Thackerville, OK and dry camped for the next night. “On the Road Again” we stopped just north of Claremore, OK and camped at the Will Rogers Downs RV Park. (US campgrounds for the most part have great electricity and water – yeah for 50 amp service and correct polarity). Finally, on the 8th of March, we arrived at Branson, MO at our new home at Branson Lakeside RV Park. We were EXAUSTED!

Cuyutlan, Colima, Mexico

As the Band plays away
Celebration time -- all were having a good time

More floats -- the winner will receive $5,000 Pesos

More Floats

Competition of the floats were furious

Most of the population was present on main street

Band playing at the Carnival

Beachside Restaurant

Carnival Time

Charlotte, Cindy, and what's his name

Cuyutlan, Colima, Mexico – a Pueblo on the Pacific Coast about twenty miles south of Manzanillo. We arrived at Carnival (Mardi Gras) time. Cuyutlan is a beach resort catered by weekend visitors from Guadalajara and neighboring cities. Once a busy resort serviced by passenger trains from Guadalajara, today the Pueblo is relatively quiet and peaceful (except for some of the Mexican holidays).

Here we stopped for a week to visit with Cindy’s sister, Charlotte. Charlotte is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. An expatriate whose travels have taken her around the world to all seven continents, Charlotte attended Oklahoma University as a nursing student, upon graduation she joined the armed services and was a flight nurse serving overseas during the Korean War. She completed her master’s degree in San Francisco, and her PhD at O.U. Dean of Nursing at a Texas university, and after accepting a Fulbright scholarship, she took two three year assignments at Universities in Malawi and Botswana, Africa. Returning to the U.S. she worked at the State of Oklahoma Board of Nursing . Again she accepted an invitation to leave the country and served as a professor of nursing in Mexico in Monterrey and Mexico City. She owns two homes in Mexico, Cuyutlan, on the coast, and Ajijic, on Lake Chapala in the high country south of Guadalajara. She lives comfortably and with ease in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.