8-16-2009: We got a late start. Our property sold,good to know just before we leave. We drove across the Colorado Desert to it was over 100' F. from Blythe to a late arrival at Piccacho State park just outside of Tuscon. The air conditioning was worth the bucks, Paco's engine didn't think so. Up those hills we had to turn off the AC.
8-17; We enter the US boarder town of Douglas after driving through Tombstone, AZ. I bought some last minute parts at the auto store, and we purchased liability auto Insurance. We stopped at the boarder to get our turista pass and were good to go. We then passed through the Mex. Boarder town of Agua Priete and headed south east across the high desert plateau. Surprizingly the summer monsoons have cooled and greened up the whole area, it was beautiful. At almost 5000 ft the drive to Nuevo Casa Grande was in the mid 80's. We found the campground in Casa Grande and paid only 100 pesos.
8-18-2009: Woke early with a good nights sleep, finally we are doing this trip. Karla wanted to see the Indian ruins of Paquime. These were ancient pottery makers that were closely connected to the Pueblo cultures of our South West. Macaw Parrots held some special significance and were the held in esteem. Back on the road again toward Chihuahua city. We pulled off the main highway 10, drove 23 miles on a dirt road to camp at Cumbre de Majalca national park, just north of Chihuahua. At almost 7000 feet we enjoyed the oak pine forest.
8-19-2009: We drove the Libre(free/but slow) highway 45, through Chihuahua, Parral, and to Durango. It was cool enough that we actually never did turn on the air conditioning that day. Elevation was from 5000 ft to at times 7000 ft. The land was green and prosperous with field of crops in various states of growth. Irrigation was possible and many of the rivers and streams had water from the Monsoons. This is not the picture we had of this region of Mexico. The Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Zacatecas were all important to Pancho Villa and the revolution of 1910-05. Pancho has a colorful history and helped to give more rights to the compesinos (poor farmers) of Mexico. This night we camp in a free park just outside of Durango. 8-20-2009: This is one of the longest days of driving, we drove over 400 miles from Durango to a Pemex Station in Santa Maria Del Rio. We had lunch in Zacatecas city with its beautiful cathedral and almost 400 year old buildings and streets. Paco could just barely get through some of them. It is amiazing how old these cities are. Some of these cities we pass through are nearly twice as old as our country. As we are driving through San Luis Potosi two of the three fan belts popped off. With a little ingenuity and luck we got the power steering one back on. We tried to find another National park along the way but found that it was a marsh land and really no camping. This was a long day and we broke our not driving at night rule, these toll roads are beautiful and not difficult at all at night. But we won't do this again.
8-21-2009: We are now taking the toll roads to make better time so we can spend some time in Oaxaca where we hope that John and Sharon will catch up with us.. We decide to drive to San Miguel Allende to view the sight where Mexican independence was declared in 1810. This is another old colonial city with narrow streets and an interestingly designed Cathedral. After a nice lunch on the streets, mm mm We headed to circumnavigate Mexico City. We found a toll route around the city so we thought we were avoiding the strict driving rules of the city. After paying the regular tolls and the police bribes to allow us to drive through the State of Mexico, we appreciate more than you will know a new meaning for Toll. We were horribly embezzled by the Police. We were driven to the outside of the state. If I ever go to that state again it will be too soon. We easily found the campground Las Americas in Cholula. It is a small city just outside of Puebla and very close to an active volcano, Popocatepetl. The cathedral in Cholula was built on the top of an ancient pyramid that from its base would be the largest in the world. Camp was nice and peaceful and good for us to try to regenerate our faith in man kind.
8-22-2009: We woke still sour from our misfortune with the Police. But I am really excited that Paco is now getting 19.5 miles per gallon. Even if we are eeeking up those 10000 ft passes at 35 mph. This day we drive all day on the Autopista cuota (toll roads). We made it to Oaxaca before the sun sat We drove over 430 miles that day the most we have done. While eating lunch on the road at about 8000 ft. I helped a fella with a flat tire , hoping to reassert that there are good men on earth. We arrived in the city of Oaxaca, in the late afternoon and found the site San Felipe Campground with little problem. San Felipe Campground overlooks the city and we had to get a site with a view... you know Karla. Of course we were the only ones in the facility which always makes it difficult to decide where to camp. With a nice glass of wine overlooking the city, life couldn't be better. Did we have a problem in Mexico city? Ok maybe another glass of wine.
8-23/24-2009: In the San Felipe campground, taking small side trips. Sunday we went to an Indian market in Tlacolula. We ate again on the streets, mmmmm. Their isn't anything better than home made tortillas and beans and meat... From there we drove to bird a 9300 ft cloud forest. We arrived to late and found hardly any birds. We were looking for the Dwarf Jay. We did see the Garnet-throated Hummingbird. What beautiful bird. Drove on a dirt road over ten miles through this thick pine/oak cloud forest. We had to break out our winter jackets. In the low 50's. Today we are in camp all day checking communications and catching up with this diary.