This fall, we were in communication with fellow Paamullians, Joe & Marilyn (we traveled up to the US with them last spring), who were leaving their motor home back in Texas, and bringing down a truck and trailer. When we got to their place in Hondo Texas, and saw the old Ford truck, Joe admitted that it that had been in storage for seven years and wasn’t running too well. “From time to time, it just stops, but then it goes again...” So we started out with Joe in the lead, in case of “just stopping”, then us (fingers crossed), then Marilyn following with their mini van.
FELIZ VIAJE -- HAPPY TRIP
We had a lot of kilometers ahead, and even though Mexican roads are getting better all the time, breakdowns are not uncommon. Mostly it is trailers like ours, which were not built for the many rough miles we have taken it. For the record, this is the fifth trip we have made with this Cardinal from Canada to Mexico, we have now made only one complete round trip (north last spring and south this fall) without any incident. Over the years we have had to replace two broken springs, and several tires. We also discovered cracks in the frame and both sides and had them re-enforced with welding in additional plates of steel.
After the second broken spring, we added an extra leaf to each spring, and then installed a Trail-Aire system for added suspension and another air bag on the hitch. As full-timers, we travel pretty heavily loaded, but it now seems to be rolling along quite well. Even so, I feel every crack in the pavement and wonder if something will break again. And it is not just Mexican roads, with their famous topes (speed bumps) and pot holes that frighten me. Memorable (in the negative sense) Canadian highways include a long stretch of #1 from Swift Current, Sask, to near Regina and some brutal stretches around Montreal. Even the big freeways in the US can rattle your teeth, with mile after mile of those breaks between the concrete sections.
Actually we did have one freakish incident this trip. We were traveling on a busy freeway coming through Kentucky, when just ahead of us I saw some “sticks” bouncing around ahead of us. My immediate thought was that they were probably some tree prunings, and with no way to avoid them we headed on through. Then “bang”, a sound as loud as a gunshot, shook the truck, and I guessed that they were more than sticks. We rolled to a stop, amidst several other cars that had pulled over and checked out the vehicles. What I can guess was pieces of heavy steel cable had escaped on to the hiway, and one of them bounced off our bumper, under a front tire and whacked up on the passenger door. It left quite a dent, but fortunately, their was no apparent damage to tires or running gear under the truck and trailer. Like the fickle finger of fate just knocked me on my knoggin.
So Joe’s truck: First day out, I heard over our walkie talkie, “Its stalling, no... there it goes again..” and from then on, other than generously leaving a trail of black smoke got us all the way.
Crossing the border, etc.--
As everyone has heard, there a the “drug war” going on along the Northern border states. Some, like us, are traveling in small groups for that reason. I personally think it is vastly overblown, as to the danger to tourist travelers. However, as our timings concurred, and we enjoy the company of Joe & Marilyn, we chose to travel with them.
The drive down was smooth as ever. In fact, we all thought that the police, both, the local and federales, as well as the army security stops, were exceptionally friendly this trip. We were speculating, that the word had gone out that tourists are to be treated well.
Our only blip was a "security check" by some local cops about 1/2 hour from the border. They saw us with our walkie talkies and our cameras, and had an animated discussion between them. As always, we were patient and cooperative, and after a few minutes, one fellow returned to my window giving me a (face saving) scolding for our “infraction” which I didn’t understand, but could have been about a real or imaginary yield sign, sent us on our way. Some might say, “old Mexican habits...”
Strawberries and cream --
Along Hwy. 57, just before the turnoff to Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel, there is a section where there are about 30 or 40 “Fresas con Crema” stands. A very refreshing and tasty stop along the way.