San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico (II)

January 29th, 2019

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After a few days at the RV park we had walked down to the main beachfront area of town a few times. We also made a trip to Calimex to stock up on groceries, beer and tequila. Food is comparable to prices in California, alcohol is a lot cheaper. You can’t survive on beer alone though (maybe beer and tacos would work).

Jane’s birthday is on the 29th so we had dinner at the resort where the owners wife does the cooking. Bill and Sue joined us for a great seafood dinner with margaritas. They brought out a muffin with candles for Jane at the end. The guy in the background of the picture is the tourism representative for San Felipe who we were chatting with after dinner. It was cool in the evening but only the locals need toques and winter vests at this time of year. Canadians are out swimming instead.

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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico

January 28th,

The Xscapers arranged a 10-day convergence in San Felipe and we signed up to go. We had wanted to try Mexico with the RV and this allowed us to go the first time as part of an organized group.

There were 54 rigs headed down and on the Sunday night we all staged at Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro so that we could be ready to go first thing Monday morning. Prior to this we had already done the FMM and vehicle insurance paperwork needed to enter and drive in Mexico.

 

Monday morning, January 28th, we all lined up to head to the border as a single group. Each RV had been assigned a number that would be our position in line so that when we arrived at the RV park in San Felipe the parking of rigs would be easier. The trip had initially sold out in 10 hours of being announced back in late summer so we had waitlisted for a dry camping spot and got in that way.

The border crossing went well. The first 10 RV’s were inspected and checked and after that pretty much all of us were waved through after having the FMM visitor paperwork stamped. The mayor of Mexicali was there to welcome us to Mexico as well as the media. We grouped up after crossing by parking beside “The Wall” (a lovely steel thing 🙂 ) and waited for the police. There was a police escort all the way through Mexicali and we didn’t have to stop at any traffic lights as they blocked all the intersections.

 

Mexicali is nothing fancy and there were many run down buildings and houses that were pretty rough looking. This was mixed in with nice brand new construction of offices, retail and commercial buildings.

 

Once outside of the city we had about 2.5hrs drive to San Felipe. There was a military checkpoint about 30miles out of our destination but they waved us through after checking the first few rigs.

 

Upon arriving in San Felipe we were again met by the local police and politicians and escorted through town to the RV park on the gulf.

 

After getting lined up on the road we then were moved into the dry camping or full hookups sections. A half an hour later and we were hanging out on the beach and relaxing 🙂

American Girl Mine

January 27th, 2019

We left Imperial Dam and headed over to American Girl Mine Road on January 22nd. It was very windy during the drive. Driving through Yuma on I-8 it was a crosswind that pushed us around pretty good. We setup off the south side of the road and positioned to get the best solar charging. Bill & Sue were with us at Imperial Dam and stayed behind when we left there. A couple of days later they messaged and said they’d come over to AGM as the cell service was non-existant where they were.

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Jane and I hiked from the trailer to Vitrefax Hill. The round trip was about 6.5 miles round trip. There’s a mine shaft up and to the left of the old ore chute structure but I din’t venture into it past the opening. I climbed to the top of the hill to check out what the excavation near the top was mining. After climbing straight up the side I found that there was a rough roadway that was on the other side. I used that on the way down but the climb up was more fun. The cut near the top had exposed some white rock that was easy to break up by hand but I don’t know what it is. I looked for some Kyanite which is supposed to be in the area. I did find some rocks with bits of blue in them but not sure if that’s it. You can see the huge mine tailings pile in one of the pictures. There is an open pit mine on the other side of it.

Here’s a panoramic picture taken at the top of Vitrefax Hill.

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The next day we did a bike ride up towards the Cargo Muchacho mountains. There’s a processing plant up near the end of the road. Not sure what it’s producing but it wasn’t busy and nobody was around although there was something running. I rode up to where I could see the end of the road and then we looped back around to another mine. There are a few large open pits in the area. This ride was just over 10 miles by the time we were back to the trailer. The open desert is great to ride through as it’s flat and you can ride straight through the small washes on a mountain bike.

The old Tumco town and mine site is north of where we were staying so we went for a drive up Ogilby Road and then into the parking area for the site. It’s a walking tour and there are a few numbered metal stakes at various places but there were no information plaques as to what was what and I couldn’t find anything on the Internet. There is a large plaque at the start and a couple within the town site that have pictures of the town as it was during its heyday.

There are various foundations scattered around the site. Some are reduced to holes in the ground or scattered piles of stones. A few still have a portion of a wall or foundation in place. The two wall sections were part of a hospital.

The ocotillo are quite green with the recents rains and some of them have flowers.

There were lots of spots with discarded tin cans from where the townspeople dumped their trash. It wouldn’t be the SW desert if there wasn’t a piece of steel with bullet holes in it.

We hiked out of the townsite to the north and up into a mountain where the was a large vertical mine shaft. It was secured with a large steel covering to prevent people from falling in. A stone dropped through the covering fell quite a distance before it hit anything. I was too busy dropping stones to remember to take a picture of it. A smaller horizontal shaft below it was also blocked off.

The large steel tanks were used to hold cyanide for processing the gold bearing ore. Now they are full of sand and slowly rusting away.

There is a small cemetery within the town site.

Just outside of the Tumco townsite is the Hedges Cemetery. Some of the graves looked to be children judging by the size of the stone pile.

Bill and Sue came over to American Girl Mine from Imperial Dam for the last few days we were there and I drove us back into the mountains to a large open pit mine and associated tailings pile. There was water in the bottom but no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t throw a stone far enough to hit it. We went as far as we could before the roadway got too rough for a 1ton diesel pickup. 🙂

Bill had brought so firewood with him so we had enough to have a fire one evening. Sue had the color chemicals to shake in so at one point it was also a colorful fire.

…and the stay at AGM ends with another sunset.

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Imperial Dam

January 22nd, 2019

We stopped at Imperial Dam LTVA after leaving Lake Havasu. With the government shutdown there was nobody on site to take fee payments and a couple of the dumpsters were overflowing. We dumped our tanks and filled the fresh tank upon entry. There was space down by the lake so we headed down and setup there.

We had planned to stay here until we needed to be in El Centro but the cell service was bad to non-existant. Also the lake level (controlled) dropped and the shoreline moved away from us. After 2 nights we decided to head into California and stay at the American Girl Mine area.

Lake Havasu & the Xscapers Bash

January 20th, 2019

We left Quartzsite on the 12th for the short drive up to Lake Havasu City where we were booked in for the Xscapers Annual Bash 2019. It was held at the rodeo grounds and RV’s were grouped into section in the parking lots depending on where you wanted to be (Solar, Family, Solo, Party & General). We parked in the General section with friends Bill & Sue. This allows the running of a generator. Although we didn’t bring the generator this year Bill supplements his solar as he has no inverter installed. RV’s were parked quite tight but we were there for the activities, events and meeting others so no big deal.

The weather was mostly good for the week although we did have one full day of rain which made for a bit of a mess in some area where the water was running down the hills in the rodeo grounds. After two days of no sun the batteries were getting low but it only took one day to get back to fully charged.

Jane and I went on a hike from the rodeo grounds to the Colorado River. The trail we took going out went through a slot canyon (SARA Crack Trail). Luckily we did it the day before the rain as after the rain had come the slot full of water and couldn’t be hiked. The trail back was above the slot canyon along the side of the mountain.

The first part of the trail out followed a wash.

Then into the slot portion.

Out the other side we were back into a wide wash.

Which then took us down to the river.

During the course of the week there were various presentations on such topics as solar, travelling to Alaska, boondocking, etc. During the day there was also activities (ultimate frisbee, kickball, Bloody Mary Throwdown, Margarita Contest). Most nights there was live music and a few times we had potlucks. The Party section kept going until the wee hours of the mornings and we could hear them all the way up where we were camped.

Near the rodea grounds was the local RC park where members flew their aircraft and raced their trucks. Some interesting planes there when I rode over to check it out. A few had jets powered by enclosed ducted fans and one guy was flying a large scale plane that looked like it had a pretty large engine and about am 8ft wingspan.

We left Lake Havasu on the 20th and headed south to Imperial Dam for a few days.

Quartzsite stopover

January 12, 2019

We left Benson and headed to Plomosa Rd north of Quartzsite on January 7th. The plan was to stopover here for the week and then head to Lake Havasu City for the Xscapers Annual Bash.

Spotted this military vehicle being transported somewhere. Built by Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, it’s a JLTV.

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Our friends, Bill and Sue, from Windsor arrived the day after us and we relocated our trailer to make a better setup for both rigs.

We pretty much just relaxed for the week we were there. Jane and I like hiking there and can just head put in any direction for a few miles of walking/exercise. The four of us piled in my truck on one of the days and headed over to Bouse. We stopped into where the Womens RTR had just wrapped up and they obviously had a complete setup there as there were still outhouses stationed around the area. Bouse was no different than it was in past trips and we again went through the junk/thrift/whatever you want to call the store that is there. I did pickup a Camaro patch for $0.50 but the cast iron cookware was way overpriced.

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Somehow my camera tripod had got left at home. Luckily the Annual Bash had a mail drop setup for the week after so I ordered another one off Amazon. I also took the opportunity to order the Anova sous vide cooker than Jane was getting as a late Christmas present. We’ll need to wait until we are somewhere with full hookups as running it for a few hours on the inverter would require a fair bit of solar usage.

The standard southwestern desert sunset 🙂

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I did put on my macro lens and get out to take some pictures. There was also a guy flying an RC plane nearby so I took a few pictures. He looked to be very good at it as he was doing aerobatic maneuvers. The plane was large with almost a 4ft wingspan.

We left Plomosa Rd on January 12th and dropped down to the PitStop in Quartzsite where we dumped and filled in preparation for the week in Lake Havasu at the Rodeo Grounds where we would be dry camping.

On the road again….

January 3, 2019

We left home early on the 28th of December. Initially the plan was for the 26th but with the cold temperatures we decided to wait and have an extra day of prep and load.

It was 7C when we left @ 7:05AM heading for Windsor and the border crossing. It took 2 hours to get through the border. We were directed down through the truck lanes and got there just as it seemed all the agents were rotaing off shift. After sittin in a lane for a bit the red light went on and the agent left so we switched lanes. Then we were directed to another lane where we got an agent with an agenda. He took issue with us changing lanes, then he had an issue with us being retired it seems (yeah, I wouldn’t want to be his age and sitting in a box for hours either LOL). So, off we went for a drive around the buildings and inside where they wanted to count how much cash we were bringing in. They just kept telling us we should be using a debit card and not paying cash when travelling. The first agent we spoke to had no idea what was what and called another, then we spoke to another. The last agent was the most reasonable and sent us on our way after verifying the cash amount we had declared out at the truck lane.

We made it to Franklin, OH where we did our end of day fillup and parked for the night at the Pilot. Ony made 514mi with the border delay but this was the same stop as last year. We had strong headwinds through Ontario which became crosswinds that pushed us around and resulted in 9.1mpg for the day.

On the road at 5:30AM we headed south towards Nashville for the turn west. Traffic was fine with no slowdowns and we ended up in Texarkana, AR at the same FlyingJ we had used last year. Weather was fine with temperatures as high as 10C. We did 787mi @ 10.8mpg this day.

We were up and on the road just after 6AM and planning to cover Texas. We drove for 12 hours and arrived at the FlyingJ in Sparks (just before El Paso) after 812mi (9.8mpg).

Driving through the Permian Basin area by Odessa you could see that there was a lot of business activity. New hotels were under construction, “Now Hiring” signs everywhere and lots of active drill rigs. It was also the highest diesel prices we had seen so far in the trip with prices as high as 3.35$/g right across the road from a refinery.

We were again on the road at 6AM and headed toward Benson, AZ with the plan of staying at the SKP Saguaro again for New Years. During the trip we hadn’t bothered to roam either of our phones as we didn’t need to use them. After getting onto I10 in NM (we did the El Paso bypass again) we called the park to see about availability. When they weren’t open we realized that the truck clock was on manual and hadn’t been getting the time changes from the Nav GPS. All the time we had been driving on EST and not switched to CST and then MST. Pretty much explained why the sun came up so late and traffic around El Paso was so light (it was 4AM). After a good laugh we just kept on going and arrive in Benson at 9:30 where we booked in for a week. That allows us time to get some shopping done, clean the truck and trailer and rest a bit after the driving.

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We did get some decidely unwanted weather after the start of the year.