On The Road

On The Road
Dutch Star and Subaru ready to go

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Well.. we're back across the border at Laredo. .. but not without a few scrapes and damages.
We left Heaven's gate park on Friday afternoon and ran into our first problem almost immediately. There's a 90 degree turn just out of the park entrance where there's a concrete telephone pole and where several vehicles were parked. I tried to make the corner without success and have a few scrapes complements of the concrete pole.

We stayed Friday night at the Pemex just north of La Penita and met Jeremy and Jane our travel companions Saturday morning. The traffic going up the mountains from the coast wasn't too bad however there was a pretty strong wind storm blowing dirt, leaves and other things around. Our drive to and around Guadalajara was uneventful and we saw vendors getting things set up for Sunday's market in Tonala.

From Guadalajara to Aguascalientes everything went well until we got on the ring road around the city. The road was very rough with lots of traffic and every couple of blocks you came to a traffic light. We were leading and got through one light however when Jeremy started across the intersection, the light turned red. Unfortunately there was a local transit police there and pulled Jeremy over. The result.... he had to pay 3,000 pesos.

We spent the night at a Pemex station past Aguascalientes where there was supposed to be secure parking however Jeremy heard noise at the back of his motorhome about 3:00am and went out and found one of his hitch pins to his truck part way out. He thinks someone wanted to steal his truck.

The road from Aguascalientes to Zacatecas was uneventful and we got on highway 40 road heading to Monterry and planning on exiting on the Monterry bypass, highway 100. We messed up here and at one of the toll booths we missed the exit to the bypass and continued on highway 40 into Monterry where we hoped to find highway 85 taking us to Laredo.

Driving around Monterry, a city of several million in a big motorhome towing a car behind while trying to find a particular street is not fun. Street signage is not prominent in the city and although we found one indicating highway 85, at the next intersection we came to, I missed the turn while Jeremy didn't. At that point we became separated and we called Jeremy and Jane on the walkie talkie telling them to go ahead and we'd try to catch up to them when we found our way back to the highway.
We wandered around the city for a while longer and at one traffic light we were beside a bus and I motioned to the driver to open his door and asked him where highway 85 was. He just shrugged his shoulders. However when we started to drive off, I heard beeping beside us. There was a couple in a car that heard us talking to the bus driver and pointed us to where we wanted to go.
When finally on the highway out of town it was getting dark but was able to just hear Jeremy and Jane on the walkie talkies. They were ahead of us a couple of miles but we were able to catch up to them.
We were again on a toll road and the first Pemex station we saw was about 70 miles from Laredo. Because we had driven over 400 miles that day plus the tour of Monterry, we asked if we could park there over night. There was also a very nice restaurant at the Pemex where we treated ourselves.

We started out in the morning heading to Laredo and the border following directions to bridge # 2 that I copied from one of the members of RV Net forum. We turned off the highway where indicated and ran into a major set of topes (speed bumps) where I hit one pretty hard. When we got up to the border area, the directions we were following said the road would have three lanes and to stay in the right hand one. However the road split into several lanes not just three. Naturally we got into the wrong one and had to backtrack and do a returno.

At this point I noticed a major oil leak coming from under my engine of the motorhome. The tope I hit must have damaged something.

We decided we had to continue on and after we got turned around we stopped at the Mexican booth to turn in our vehicle permits. We didn't see where we could turn in our tourist visas and still have them.

The traffic going over the bridge and up to the U.S. border was heavy and it was about an hour creeping up to the U.S. Immigration booth in about 10 lanes of traffic. Jeremy was leading and the Immigration people told both of us to pull over for inspections and an x-ray of our coaches. We had to give up our potatoes, tangerines and apples. Diane and the dogs had to get out of the motorhome while I drove it slowly through the x-ray machine. Then we had to wait while they inspected the results from the machine. All the time I was dripping oil all over the place.
Several minutes later, several agents came running out of the building and I was told to open up the basement doors of the motorhome because the x-ray indicated there was a large tank of some sort in the motorhome and they must have thought I was smuggling something. They were a little embarrassed when I showed them the big propane tank.

When we got across the border, we headed for Casa Blanca State Park in Laredo where we've stayed before. I was still dripping oil and looked up diesel repair facilities in Laredo. However everyone I called said they only work on big trucks and not motorhomes.  I asked one of the service guys I talked to and described what happened with the tope and asked if they thought I could drive to Livingston if I stopped and checked the oil and topped off every 100 miles or so. He thought if we do that, we should be ok. I then called Cummins service in Houston and asked the same question and got the same answer although was told it was my decision. And finally, I called a small diesel repair service close to our park in Livingston and the mechanic there told me I shouldn't have any trouble as long as I kept checking it on the way home.

So.. we're going to stay at Case Blanca park in Laredo for another day and head out on Wednesday morning. I drove to Walmart and bought six gallons of oil which should last us although we usually stop at Warton, west of Houston for the night in a Walmart parking lot and will be able to buy more oil there if needed.

Unless something goes wrong, we should be home Thursday.