I was driving along lost in thought when I came across a wizened old man carrying large burlap bag over one shoulder. He had a long walk to the bus stop and I just couldn’t resist stopping and giving him a ride. First, I had to know what was in the bag. It was dark green and leafy, could it be pot? He smiled and shook is head. He opened the bag and the aroma of oregano filled the cab of my rig. He was taking it to market and I’d saved him about $4 in bus fare. He offered to give me some oregano for payment, but there is no way I could have used it. We chatted and the time passed more quickly.
I dropped him off at El Carrizo and turned north for the border. There are three vehicle inspection stations a few mile north from this point. The first one is a drug checkpoint. They usually board your rig and leave quickly. The last is where you are checked southbound for your vehicle permit. The middle one is an agricultural inspection for restricted produce. I remember back in 2004 when I came through here. The guy got on and headed for the fridge. I had an illegal orange, he said that was OK. I had an illegal avocado, again he said OK. And some illegal tomatoes, nope they were OK too. The eggs were illegal, yep that was OK. I was puzzled and closed the fridge. Why bother? He looked at me wistfully and asked "Could I have one of your chocolate bars?" I stifled a chuckle and solemnly handed him a Hershey’s Krackle bar. He flashed a big smile, got out of the trailer, and waved me through.
The only bribe I’ve ever had to pay while in Mexico!
Writing this has made me realize I need another couple of Mexico blogs. I have a wealth of funny little encounters, each too small for a full post. Lumping them together would make a fine series of short stories.
The drive from El Fuerte to the border is two days. I overnighted in Guaymas, again at the Playa De Cortez. I’ve lost pictures of the place and I’ve got to find and post a few.
The next day was a long, long drive from Guaymas to Lukeville, Arizona. I always leave through Sonoyita and Lukeville for one simple reason. Lukeville is a very quiet crossing except on Sunday afternoon. That is when the college kids from Tucson and Phoenix take themselves and their hangovers back to the US. The crossing at Nogales can be extremely busy, waits can sometimes be hours.
While driving north on Mex 15 simply turn west on highway 2 at Santa Ana. This used to be two lane, but a new 4 lane maxipista has been constructed from Santa Ana to Caborca. It is by far the nicest road I’ve ever driven in Mexico. Except for the signs in Spanish, you could easily think you are on Interstate 8 in southern Arizona. It was so new that the old signs hadn’t been replaced in Caborca. Very confusing. I managed to find my way and off across the two lane to the border. (RVers, if any are reading. The customs station for turning in your vehicle permits was set up very poorly. Ask someone before you go through!).
The US customs official gave me the most severe inspection I have ever incurred. He told me forcefully to "STAND RIGHT THERE (and pointed) and DON’T MOVE!" I did just exactly that. He went into my trailer and rummaged for about 3 minutes. He then stepped out and said brusquely, "OK, you’re free to go". I closed the door, got in my rig, and hauled ass. I drove to the fuel station across the border…
I got out, walked behind my trailer, and shot this picture. THEN, I opened my trailer and inspected to make sure every door was closed and drawer was latched. The inspector had done a great job, I could hardly tell he had been in there. I wouldn’t have known how thorough he had been except for all the noise and shaking of my trailer.
You can see it was getting late. I was headed for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which is only a few miles north of the border.
Next day I was off to Yuma. Yuma is crowded with snowbirds and I only spent three nights there. I had to replace the alternator on the truck and do a little shopping at the Mexican border town of Algondones. I also bought a TV. I wanted this to check the weather when I left Las Vegas. I needed one anyway. I now use it in my house, but it is mainly for the RV.
North to Las Vegas and three nights at Circus Circus RV park. It is very expensive, but it was nice to be right on the strip. They have double-decker buses nowadays, called "the deuce". $5 per day and I enjoyed riding up and down the strip at night, enjoying the sights. I also got lucky and won a pretty penny at the casino at Circus Circus. Not enough to cover my stay, but it sure helped.
Leaving Las Vegas in the winter for Washington is always stressful. I have to time the storms right or I might get caught out in the middle of nowhere and get stuck. I saw a two day window of opportunity on the second night and prepared to leave the morning after the third night. The weather held, so I took off at 6:00am.
12 hours later I was in Mountain Home, Idaho. I made four stops; Alamos, Nevada for fuel, Ely, Nevada for a couple of McStomachpucks that I ate in the cab, Wells, Nevada for fuel, and Bliss, Idaho for fuel. I found a very nice RV park on the east side of Mountain Home and here’s a plug because of their hospitality. The Mountatin Home RV Park. No ice or snow on the road except for a little black ice south of Jackpot, Nevada.
I hooked up the TV and checked the weather report. Not good the following afternoon at home. I left at 5:00am the following morning and pushed it hard. A stop in Payette, Idaho for fuel, a stop in Milton-Freewater Oregon for a sandwich on the go, and a stop in Dayton, Washington for fuel. The road were bare and dry all the way, and I got home at 2:30pm with snow starting to fall. By dusk there was two inches of snow on the ground. I couldn’t have come down the grade to my house safely if I’d waited another two hours.
A whirlwind trip home, but I’m talking mainly about the vacation, not the work and boredom involved with driving. I’ve got one or two more posts for Mexico, then on to other projects. I’m going to write about our spring fish tagging season at Lower Granite dam. Later on, the fish tagging trip to Idaho and later yet, a trip to the Philippines. But for now…