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Western USA and Mexico Trip Journal from Sept. 19 to Oct 25, 2004

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Duration: Sept. 19 to Oct. 25, 2004 - 5 Weeks
Ruby's Motorcycle: 2004 BMW R1200GS (purchased June 10, 2004)
Mike's Motorcycle: 2005 BMW R1200GS (purchased July 05, 2004)
Distance Traveled: 15,400 km (9,570 miles)
Motorcycle Maintenance prior to leaving:
- New front and rear Michelin Anakee tires on both bikes
- Ruby's BMW had 10,000km (6,000 miles) Service

Motorcycle Maintenance during the trip:
- Mike's BMW had 10,000km (6,000 miles) Service in San Diego, California
- Ruby's BMW had oil change in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico
- Mike's BMW had oil change in Acapulco, Mexico
- New rear Metzler Tourance tires for both bikes in Acapulco, Mexico
- Ruby's BMW had 22,500km (14,000 miles) Service and rear hub flange replaced in Tucson, Arizona
- Ruby's BMW received a complete new rear drive in Denver, Colorado
Camped: 16 nights
Hotel: 21 nights
Average Accommodation cost: $32.00CDN
Gas Stops: 51
Military Stops: 25
Total Trip Cost: $6,400.00CDN including bike maintenance, ferry and Mexican insurance.
Mexican Insurance:  $714.00CDN ($357.00CDN each bike for 6 month duration)
Tourist Visa: $53.20CDN
Motorcycle Importation: $78.90CDN
Accommodation: $1,184.00CDN
Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan: $387.00CDN
Motorcycle Service during the trip: $1,438.00CDN
Fuel: $1,546.00CDN
Food & Drinks: $1,000.00CDN

What a year it has been.  I received the new 2004 BMWR1200GS on June 10, 2004 and Mike received his 2005 BMWR1200GS on July 05, 2004 (his came from Florida and all US models are 2005).  Being a new design Touratech and Wunderlich were all behind in getting the accessories out on the market.  I didn't receive my Touratech aluminum panniers until late August.  Work had slowed down and we took the opportunity to take off for five (5) weeks.  We decided to coincide this trip with the Horizon Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Copper Canyon, Mexico in October. One always forgets how much prep work prior to the trip has to be done.  We purchased six (6) month Mexican Motorcycle insurance over the internet a few days before leaving, had our international driver licenses done, purchased several Mexico maps and went grocery shopping for the trip.  We took along all dry food, which worked out great.  Examples are Lipton Noodles, sauces and soups which only need the addition of water and/or powered milk, dry noodles and oil.  In the 37 days on the road we only ate out for supper four (4) times.  Which also reduced the risk of getting sick from the local food.  Breakfast was a different story, we enjoyed the huevos mexicana or huevos chorizo with torillas on a daily basis until we got sick and lived on chocolate ship cookies for a couple  days.   Did I mention how cheap breakfast was, most of the time $7.00US would get you a "healthy" breakfast.  So with the prep work done the journey started Sept. 19, 2004 at 7am local time in Calgary, Alberta, temperature -2Deg.C. 

Sept. 19, 2004. Sunday Week 1. Left Calgary excited, bright, shivering and early.  Headed down boring straight Hwy 22 to the border and crossed at Chief Mountain into Montana, United States.  We took the south Hwy 2 around Glacier Park, through Whitefish, and then south on Hwy 35/93 to Missoula.  Clouds were building and as we hit one of our favorite roads, Hwy 12, at Lolo Pass it started to rain and then snow.  In good spirit be pushed on to Grangeville, Idaho and decided to keep on riding to Riggins, were we had camped before.  We had put in a good days riding at 1055km. 

Sept. 20, 2004. Another early start, temperatures were now in the teens as we turned south west at New Meadow.  Passed into Oregon at Ontario and west on Hwy 20.  As luck would have it, we were stopped twice by the cops in Oregon.  First time we were pulled over for passing a Sheriff on a double solid line ($237US each) and only 30 minutes later the highway patrol cop clocked us speeding in a corner.  Yeah, he was nice enough to let us off with a warning.  All I could think was "let's get the heck out of Oregon".  We decided to take Hwy 395 south, entered California at the north eastern portion of the state.  It was getting late and as we gained elevation the temperatures dropped.  So again we pushed on to Reno, Nevada and got a hotel room. Another day of 1017km. 

Sept. 21, 2004.  Well rested, with the temperature at +6Deg.C we re-entered California on Hwy 395.  Since we had made some good time/distance we detoured into Yosemite National Park.  The road climbed to an impressive 9,945 ft (3,031m) at the Tioga Pass.  Next destination was Death Valley National Park.  Holly Molly, straight road, that is probably the longest dead straight road we have ever seen.  Temperatures finally started to warm up to a comfortable +25Deg.C.  Death Valley National Park had just been reopened two weeks prior.  In August a huge flash flood hit the Valley and destroyed 90% of the roads.  The views are incredible and yes there are a couple of twisties.  Another picture opportunity at the Sand Dunes and we set up camp at the Furnace Creek Campground (620km). 

Sept. 22, 2004.  After a visit to the museum we rode to the Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point in America at 85.5m below the sea level.  The saltwater flats stretched out for miles and Mike couldn't resist tasting the white stuff, to make sure that it is salt.  The road was closed beyond this point due to the floods.  Backtracking, we went down this gravel road to the Natural Bridge, but only got 1km into it and had two close calls in dropping the bikes.  The weight of the bikes and deep sandy gravel does not work well together.  Instead we took a walk along Golden Canyon.  It was time to head south again to make San Diego at night fall.  Rolled into San Diego late and pitched a tent in a local RV park for free (620km). 

Sept. 23, 2004.  Prior to leaving on the trip, we had booked Mike's 10,000km (6,000miles) service with Brattin Motosports, a BMW Dealer in San Diego.  We dropped of the BMW at 8am for service, ended up buying a new Arai XD Helmet and sending back, via mail, the Suomy Helmet.  Brattin BMW gave Mike a courtesy BMW 650 (Belt Drive) and we scooted over to a nearby lake and waited for the service to be completed.  We were a bit surprised that it took them all day to do an oil change and inspection.  Finally on the road, we made our way out of San Diego on Hwy 94 which twists south east to the border crossing at Tecate.  We spent the night at the Potrero Regional Park Campground which was located only 5 minutes from the Tecate Border Crossing. 

Sept. 24, 2004.  We were at the Tecate border crossing at 8:30am, parked the bikes and started the lengthy process of getting the appropriate paper work.  Which went something like this:  First required is the Tourist Visa.  One is greeted by a non-smiling, grumpy, non-English speaking Mexican official, who places a pen and form to fill out in front of you.  Then he sends you to another building to pay your $20.00US per person, you return and get back into line and your visa gets stamped (valid for 180 days).  From there to another building to import the motorcycles which came to $29.70US per bike.  The whole process was actually really speedy and took us only 1 1/2hr.  At the actual crossing, we weren't even stopped.  Yeah, we made it to Baja California, Mexico.  The contrast from the States to Mexico was apparent immediately. We headed south on Mex. 3 to Ensenada.  Road conditions were excellent as we took the sweeping corners on almost new pavement.  Breakfast in Ensenada and our first experience of getting lost in a Mexican town.  Signage is always poor we discovered, but eventually one finds the road out.  Our destination was Mike's Sky Ranch.  Following Mex. 3 east, we turned just after Trinadad on the Baja 1000 course.  Again we felt like little kids at Christmas.  Unaware of the of the road conditions ahead, we went on our merry way.  Approx. 17km into the desert mountain range, I had a few close calls of crashing and disappearing in the scrub, and then I actually did bite the dust.  The dirt road turned into deep sand and before I knew it I was down.  No harm done, except for my confidence.  From there it was a major struggle to keep the bike upright.  A lot of frustrated tears were shed, but with Mike's help we made it almost to the Ranch.  After the deep sand the road become twisty and very rocky.  Stopped at the bottom of a steep hill and only 500m away from the Ranch, we met a bunch of "quaders", followed by a support Van.  In the hurry to get out of the Van's way, we clipped the right side BMW bags of Mike's bike and tore them off.  Tie-wraps come in handy.  After a fun water crossing we made it to the ranch.  Greeted by another guy on a BMW1150GS (who actually had crashed 3 times), two guys on KTM520's and of course the "quaders".  Staying at the ranch was $50.00US per night per person and includes, steak dinner and a large Mexican breakfast.  We deserved a little comfort after the struggle.  We spent the evening relaxing at the pool and laughing at the close calls we had.   

Sept. 25, 2004.  The 30km trip out of Mike's Sky Ranch took us 3 hrs, mainly due to me being scared of dropping the bike.  Back on the pavement we back tracked to Ensenada and then turned south on Mex. 1.  Finding a campground was more difficult then we anticipated.  There were no signs ever.  Luckily Mike had printed off some Campgrounds from the Internet which included the GPS coordinates, even with that information it took us most days a couple of hours finding a campground.  We made it to San Quintin and set up camp at the La Pinta Campground (100 Peso's). 

Sept. 26, 2004. Sunday Week 2.  At El Rosario we fueled up and were advised that there was no gas for 344km, which meant staying at 120km/hr to get the range on the tank.  Breakfast was at the famous Mama's Espinosas Restaurant, known as a Baja Racing stop and excellent Lobster Dinner. From here it was inland, vast land of sand, cactus' and soaring temperatures.  Every stop was brutally hot.  We had planned to stop just before the border crossing from North to South Baja California, but once we reached the "so called campground", we just couldn't get ourselves to put up a tent on the hard packed sandy desert RV Park with no protection from the sun or hot furnace wind.  We decided to push on.  At the crossing from North to South Baja California we had to show our tourist visa.  In search for a campground we entered Guerro Negro on the Pacific Coast, but the town itself had no appeal to us and we returned to Mex. 1, heading east.  By now it was getting late, at a gas stop we talked to an American who advised us to push on to San Ignaco.  Just before sun set we reached San Ignaco and were pleasantly surprised by its' oasis look.  After riding for a couple of days in the desert, the lush green Palm trees and rivers were unexpected.  We were the only campers at the campground with partially completed washrooms ($10.00US/night). The campground dog decided to be our guard dog for the night.  The campground was infested by mosquitoes. 

Sept. 27, 2004. Before heading out of town, we returned to the town square and a visit to the local Mission San Ignacia.  Only an hour east of San Ignaco we got our first view of the Sea of Cortez.  Temperatures stayed in the high 30Deg.C as we rode along the sea.  As we reached the Bay of Conception we were in awe of the magnificent view.  We decided to stay for a couple of days and enjoy paradise.  For $20US a night we got a primitive hut on the beach at Buenaventura.  Due to its remoteness, water has to be trucked in and the only power available was by generator.  Once again, we and another American couple were the only ones to stay at this white beach.  The sea was calm, clear and warm and made for some great swimming and sea life viewing.  Mid afternoon a dozen American dirtbikers took over the bar/restaurant and cleaned them out of all the beer, which meant that we had to content ourselves with Lime Margaritas, the hard life.  It was the dirtbikers annual ritual to ride the Baja 1000 course from Tecate to Cabo San Lucas.  In the evening the owner invited us over to sit around the fire on the beach, eat fresh Clams and watch the full moon rise.  Why we had a fire was beyond me, since the temperature never dropped below 33Deg.C during the night.  We reached 37Deg.C in the shade every day.    

Sept. 28, 2004.  A day of relaxation.  After breakfast at the restaurant we rented a couple of sea kayaks for the day ($20.00US each).  We started kayaking along the shoreline and reached a deserted white beach.  I know I will never forget that day, and it is hard to put into words how unbelievably amazing it was.  We spend a few hours out on the water and started to get nicely burnt.  The night before we slept little due to the heat and mosquitoes, there had been no breeze.  Therefore the next night we decided to take the sleeping bag and sleep outside on the porch.  By 6am, we had been eaten alive by the mosquitoes and realized that there is never a breeze.   

Sept. 29, 2004.  On the road again. At Loreto we started climbing the mountain range inlet.  Heading east on Mex. 1 we spent three (3) hours on the straightest road in Baja California.  We arrived in La Paz and stopped at the Tourist Office to get directions for the Ferry Ticket Office.  Since we knew that the Ferry does not take vehicles every day, we decided to book early.  The Ferry Office is just one block south/east of the town square church (5 o Mayo Street).  The timing worked out great.  We were booked to leave La Paz to Mazatlan for 3pm Oct. 1, 2004. Cost $396.00CDN for two people and two bikes.  We set up camp for two (2) days.  Casa Blanca RV Park was located just as you entered La Paz and came with a swimming pool, tennis court, hot showers and locked premises for only $120.00 Peso's/night.  In the evening we took a stroll into town center along the shoreline and enjoyed some local ice cream. 

Sept. 30, 2004.  Leaving all our gear at the camp site, we set off on our journey south Hwy 1/9.  We stopped for breakfast at the famous Hotel California in Todos Santos, from there we followed the coastline of endless beaches to Cabo San Lucas.  Lost and frustrated in Cabo San Lucas, we almost headed out of the town, but then finally found access to the beach.  For only $20.00US we had a personal glass bottom boat take us out to the famous arch, drop us of at the lovers/ divorce beach and pick us up a couple of hours later.  This had worked out quite well.  We had made it to the tip of Baja California.  From there we took the scenic east road back to La Paz.  After Los Barriles the vegetation is very green as you climb through the mountain range. At El Triunto we stopped for a church picture.     

Oct. 01, 2004. It was time to say good-bye to La Paz.  My bike was overdue for an oil change, since we had left Canada we had put on 6500km. We found a local Honda dealer, who were excited to have us in there shop.  We did our own oil change, but we were allowed the use of their shop.  We had purchased a BMW R1200GS oil filter in Canada prior to leaving.  The total bill for the oil came to $24.00US (and yes it was factory Honda oil).  The Ferry Terminal Pichiligue is about 16km north of La Paz and they recommended being at the Terminal 1hr prior to departure.  Of course we were there 2 hrs prior.  The freight consisted mainly of Semi-Trucks.  We were loaded last, reminder to self to always bring tie-downs, which we didn't here.  Sitting on deck we watched La Paz and Baja California disappear.  The Ferry took 19hrs to Mazatlan.  We slept on the benches outside. 

Oct. 02, 2004.High Humidity hit us as we arrived in Mazatlan at 10am.  Even though the temperatures were only in the 30Deg.C it seemed unbearable.  Added to that, we had the bright idea of trying to find a motorcycle dealer in Mazatlan to pre-order new tires.  It was apparent that we would only get maximum another 3000km out of the Michelin Anakees.  The dealer we found, didn't seem very competent and we didn't have much confidence of actually getting a Michelin or Metzler tire.  As we had predicted once on mainland the road conditions did deteriorate.  Staying off the Autopista meant making less kms a day, but we were always rewarded at seeing incredible things.  Heading south from Mazatlan, we passed through Tepic and winded our way through a lush green mountain range to Puerto Vallarta.  In search of a campground we got very familiar with the cobblestone roads of downtown Puerto Vallarta.  After a couple of frustrating hours we took a hotel room for $410 Peso's, which was our most expensive room in Mexico. It was only a block from the beach and had air conditioning and a swimming pool. 

Oct. 03, 2004. Sunday Week 3. We had enough of struggling to find a campground and visited the nearest internet café.  We spent a couple of hours researching campground locations for the route we had chosen south.  After a visit to the local church, we left Puerto Vallarta behind.  Still acclimatizing to the high humidity and temperatures we only did 200km and set up camp in San Patricio Melaque.  Even though we knew from our research the GPS coordinates of the campground location, it still took us a good 1/2 hr to find it.  Another nice spot at $12.00US/night right on the beach, which we were the only occupants.  As the sun was still up, we played in the ocean waves and ended the day sitting at the beach, watching the waves break in the moon light. 

Oct. 04, 2004. We left the camp at sun rise 7:30am, since we planned for a long day of riding (750km).  From San Patricio Melaque we stayed on Hwy 200, which winds along the coast all the way from Puerto Vallarta to the Guatamalan border.  Our goal was to get as close as possible to Acapulco.  After breakfast in La Placita, we rode along the rocky, steep, mountainous and green coast for three (3) hours.  This stretch of coastline covers one of Mexico's most beautiful and deserted beaches.  We met a couple of vehicles on the way, but otherwise had to concentrate on the twisty and sometimes gravely road.  At San Luis San Pedro we decided to push on to Acapulco, which hadn't been a good decision.  The sun set at about 7:30pm and we rode in the dark for a couple of hours.  All travel books advise not to ride/drive in the dark.  Once dark, it is pitch black, our highbeam switches failed, the closer we got to Acapulco, the more traffic and little towns.  We have lost count of the number of "Topes" (Speed bumps) we had to slow down for.  Unfortunately some are not marked, which has caused us to lock the front breaks (Thank BMW for ABS) on occasions and once actually hit it at 120km/hr.  Which snapped the tie-wraps on Mike's BMW bags and caused them to fall off.  Upon entering Acapulco the sky opened up and we were drenched by a huge thunderstorm, to add to the misery we got lost and ended up in the scary side of town.  Needless to say that we were both tired, mad at each other and finally at 10:30am found our way back to the nice part of Acapulco and a hotel only a block away from the beach.  By now the roads had become rivers and all I remember of Acapulco is thousands of Beetle Taxis cutting in and out of traffic.  The Hotel was $397.00 Peso's.   

Oct. 05, 2004. Our rear tires were wearing fast.  We had the front desk lady at our hotel call around different motorcycle shops in Acapulco to see if we could order some tires.  We got lucky with the Yamaha Acapulco Dealer on Av Universidad No. 80.  The owner of the hotel drove us in her mini van to the shop, were we with broken Spanish ordered two (2) Metzler Tourance Tires ($4500.00 Peso's).  It would take a couple days until they would be in from Mexico City.  This worked out great with our schedule.  We booked the tire change for Oct. 09, 2004.  Satisfied that the maintenance on the bike was taken care off, we headed out of Acapulco, but first bought a map of Acapulco to avoid getting lost again.  By noon we were back on Hwy 200, stopped for breakfast in San Marco, were we made the acquaintance of two military men.  A military check stop was set up by the restaurant.  We spent about 1/2 hour talking to them, which gave me an excellent picture opportunity as well.  After 240km and four (4) hours later, it was time to get a hotel.  For $200.00 Peso's we stayed in Pinotepa Nacional.   

Oct. 06, 2004.  Our goal was to make it to Oaxaca today.  With sun rise we were on the road heading south on Hwy 200 to Puerto Escondido.  Mike's stomach felt queasy and opted to skip the usual Mexican breakfast and instead live on chocolate chip cookies.  At Puerto Escondido we turned inland on Hwy OAX 131. It took us 1 1/2 hours for the first 40km, road condition deteriorated, potholes, gravel, and very twisty.   We had been on the road for about six (6) hours as we came upon a mountain village at about 6400ft elevation.  I was not sure of the name of the village, but knew we were somewhere between Lachao and San Pedro Juchatengo, maybe it was the turn-off to Hwy 178.  Aware that at least another five (5) hours of twisty mountain road lay ahead of us, we were faced with our first Mexcian Stand-off.  Looking back now, I am not sure if I handled the situation correctly, but it makes for a good story when telling to friends.  The road entering the small village was blocked by a chain.  The blockade on the other side consisted of a large wooden log.  We parked our motorcycles in front of the chain.  It is hard to believe that this is the only half descent road connecting Oaxaca to the coast, therefore after four (4) hours of waiting we actually had a good 10 vehicles parked behind us, blocking anyone from leaving the village. Luckily we had met up with a Canadian from Montreal and his Mexican Girlfriend.  Being our translator she found out that the villagers had an issue with the local politician and that they would not open the blockade until the politician would show up.  How the politician knew about the stand-off, we couldn't figure out, since there was no phone available.  Maybe they sent down a donkey.  Meanwhile as we wait the clouds are building and it became apparent that we might not get through that day.  Village meetings were held on a regular bases and our informant told us that they would open the road at 1am in the morning when the politician would show up.  Yeah right. A few hours later a van from the village needed to get out, so we seized our opportunity.  We communicated to them that we would not move our motorcycles unless they would let us through.  Seemed fair to me.  After 1/2 hour of back and force they finally agreed to go for the deal.  Leathered up, they lift the chain, the van moves through and the chain gets dropped onto Mike's bike.  Now I was upset, off the bike I jump on the hood of the van and hold on to the windshield wipers.  This is where pretty much everything goes out of control.  A couple of guys with big sticks started to threaten me and they called for the machete guys.  There I was, back protector, leathers, helmet, questioning how much it would hurt. As they try pulling me off the van, I was bending the windshield wipers.  And then they were going to beat up my bike.  Desperate I run to the chain, lifted over my head and screamed at Mike to make a run for it.  But I was overtaken by the villagers.  After a lot of shouting and pushing suddenly they told us that we were allowed to get through.  Not asking any questions and not looking back we entered the village and went around the wooden log.  Only 30km later did we stop and talk.  It started to rain on and off and we stayed in Zimatlan approx. one (1) hour from Monte Alban.  The hotel was $150.00 Peso's. 

Oct. 07, 2004.  At the top of the world. That is how we felt as we reached the ruins of Monte Alban.  As usual there was no signage for Monte Alban, as we made our way through Oaxaca.  A single lane road twists up the side of the mountain to an impressive 8,200ft, and here Monte Alban spreads itself out over three (3) football fields.  Early morning is the best time to visit the ruins, with the clouds in the valley and less tourists.  We walked in awe around the premises for three (3) hours.  We got into a conversation with a local corn farmer from a village below and ended up buying some artifacts of him, which he had found when plowing his field.  In a way, this was a sad day for us, as we knew that we had to turn around, 2 1/2 weeks had passed and it was time for the return journey.  Mike experienced clutch slippage, and we feared that the clutch was gone.  We made our way north, Mike tried not using the clutch and we turned onto OAX 125, which is 250km of twisty mountain road.  We were averaging about 40 to 50 km/hr.  Between stops at missions and the twisty road we made it to Zacatepec before nightfall and stayed in the only hotel for $250.00 Peso's.  This was the only hotel where we had to get the sleeping bag out, because we didn't trust the bedding.  The clutch problem fixed itself and after our return home to Canada, we actually found out that it is a BMW problem. 

Oct. 08, 2004. It took us another two (2) hours to get back to the coast.  We entered Hwy 200 just north of Pinotepa Nacional and arrived in Acapulco in good time.  We treated ourselves to McDonald's that evening and watched the thunderstorm move in on the beach. The room was $397 Peso's. 

Oct. 09, 2004. At 9am we rode our bikes into the Yamaha Acapulco Motorcycle Dealership for some new tires and Mike's oil change.  We had four (4) mechanics working on the bikes, and it seemed a big event for them to see us roll through town.  So at 8,800km we replaced the rear tires, by 10:30am and only $1000.00 Peso's later it was good-bye Acapulco.  During our wait for the bike maintenance I took our laundry to the dry cleaner and within the hour we had fresh laundry for $43.00 Peso's.  That night we stayed in a campground in Zihuatanyo beside Ixtapa for $100.00Peso's/night.  As we walked along the beach we encountered crocodiles, a monkey, baby turtles and two (2) huge Iguanas.   

Oct. 10, 2004. Sunday Week 4.  Backtracking on Hwy 200 along the coast, we started out from Ixtapa, over to Tecoman and got onto the Autopista at Colima.  The Autopista has almost no traffic and is quite expensive.  We had four days to make it to Copper Canyon to the Horizon Unlimited meeting and figured to make time the Autopista was the only way.  We probably did about 700km of Autopista in Mexico and it cost us $250CDN in tolls.  The road from Colima to Guadalajana is quite amazing and has some huge bridges.  We stayed in an Auto Motel in Cuidad Guzman for $295.00 Peso's .   

Oct. 11, 2004.  Back on the Autopista from Cuidad Guzman through Guadaljara to Mazatlan.  In Guadalajara we pulled into a  7/11 for breakfast.  As we arrived Mike walks into the store and heads straight for the food, whereas when I enter I notice that no one seemed to move and a guy with a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition across his chest is frantically talking into his walky-talky.  Not moving, I try getting Mike's attention, who is oblivious to what is going on around him and is still walking up and down between the isles.  My first thought was robbery, but then I noticed that it seemed to be a money pick-up (in Canada we call them the Brinks guys).  All seemed okay.  We get four (4) hot dogs with all the trimmings and walk outside to the bikes and are under surveillance by a cop car.  We made a pretty funny picture, since our hands were loaded with hot dogs.  The cop must a figured we weren't here to hurt anyone and drove off.  From there we went to Ixtlan del Rio on the Autopista.  Walked around the ruins of Ixtlan del Rio.  From Tepic to Mazatlan the Autopista is almost non-existent.  We took an ice cream break just before Mazatlan and sitting on some empty fruit & vegetable cartons we meet Joaquin and Annie on a 2001 BMW 1150GS.  Both are Mexicans from Pueblo, but Joaquin spoke perfect English.  We ended up going for dinner and smoked Marlin with them.  They were also on the way to Copper Canyon to the HU meeting.  We stayed on the waterfront in Mazatlan ($250.0 Peso's). 

Oct. 12, 2004. From Mazatlan on the Autopista along the coast through Culicean to Los Mochis.  We stopped at the train station in Topolobampos to check out if we could load the bikes on the train to Creel in Copper Canyon.  Joaquin did all the talking.  The deal was that we had to drain the fuel, disconnect the batteries and leave the bikes over night and they would load them.  This was to shaky for us since we had no guarantee that the bikes wouldn't get damaged.  We decided to take the paved hwy to Copper Canyon.  We stayed the night in Los Mochis in a hotel ($250.00 Peso's) and had supper at the La Espana c/w wine and excellent food for only $300.00 Pesco's.  The first time we treated ourselves to a meal out. 

Oct. 13, 2004. The four (4) of us set off north again on the Autopista through Cuidad Obregion and turned inland at Esperanza through Santa Rosa.  The road became nice and twisty, but unpredictable for surface condition.  At San Nicolas we turned on to hwy 16.  The next 100km was very twisty.  Just before sunset me decided to stay in Yecora at the King Hotel for $200.00 Peso's.  Joaquin, Mike and I got into discussion about the perfect bike and what our future plans are.  At this point we knew that we had met a friend for life in Joaquin. 

Oct. 14, 2004.  In the morning we hooked up with Jerry (the beemer buster) on a new KTM950 in Yecora.  Hwy 16 has awesome scenery, twisty road and excellent pavement.  We stopped for breakfast in Basaseachic.  Here is where Jerry got his name as "beemer buster", his KTM fell over and took out my beemer.  We decided to take a detour to the Basaseachic Falls, which is the third largest waterfall in the world dropping over 800ft vertically.  Mike and I decided to take the 2km hike down to the base of the falls.  Definitely worth the extra sweat.  From there it was directly to Creel.  A lot of riders had already arrived.  It is hard to get anything accomplished when constantly talking to all the HU members (and I never shut up).  We set up the camp at the Hotel Villa Mexicana RV Park for three (3) nights for a total of $30.00US.  Altitude at Creel is 7200ft. The temperature dropped fast after the sun disappeared.

Oct. 15, 2004.  We decided to take my bike only down to Batopilas.  The first 75km are newly paved and beautifully twisty, but you still have to watch out for dogs, cows, people, donkeys and cars/trucks crossing over the centerline.  At the turn off to the dirt/gravel road to Batopilas we met up with Jim Hyde and Chuck Brown.  Two-up, we took four (4) hrs for the 65km trip to the bottom of the canyon.  It was incredible, and at the same time scary. I don't know how many times I told Mike that I would like to get off the bike and just walk down/up a hill.  The first 20kms are very loose gravel,  then the road descends into the canyon by numerous switch back which reminded me of the Stiflers Joch Pass in Italy.  We stopped in La Bufa and bribed a local girl to pose with the bike.  Time really stands still in this remote area.  In Batopilas we realized that it was too late to return to Creel and took a hotel room for $200.00 Peso's.  We met three (3) more guys who stayed with us at the hotel (Jim-KLR650, Wes-KLR650 and Byron-80's Honda Nighthawk).  Temperature in Batopilas was hot and a big change to Creel.  In the evening we wandered the streets of Batopilas. 

Oct. 16, 2004.  Up early and ready to venture back through the Canyon,  we noticed that my rear tire had picked up a nail and was flat.  Wes on his KLR650 had an electric air compressor.  We decided to pump up the tire and try to get back to Creel for the tire fix.  Wes stayed with us and it took us only three (3) hrs back to the pavement, with one air stop halfway.  Upon our return to Creel, there was a row of bikes, which were getting work done.  The guys showed me how to fix my tire, which was a lot of fun.  It is quit simple and seems to hold well.  As the bike was on the center stand we noticed 1/4" of play in the rear wheel.  We phoned Ironhorse BMW Dealer in Tucson and booked it in for service.  Al Jesse of Jesse Luggage Systems had a look at the rear drive and confirmed that BMW is aware of the problem.  He told me that I could ride to Tucson at a slow speed.  Slow is not really in my vocabulary, but I tried.  In the evening we attended Al Jesse's Seminar of his world travels. 

Oct. 17, 2004. Sunday Week 5.Woke up to frost –3Deg.C.  Two-up we took the 42km paved road to El Divisadero, which has a great look out onto where three (3) canyon's meet.  With Mike on the back I noticed that his front brake discs were warped. We had breakfast at the hotel overlooking the Canyon.  Back at the campsite we packed up everything and hit the road.  From Creel it was back to hwy 16, north at La Juita, through Cuidad Guerrero, where we got lost.  We spent the night in Buenaventura in a hotel for $250.00 Peso's. 

Oct. 18, 2004. We took hwy 10 to Janos and then hwy 2 to Agua Prieta.  Here we got the help of three (3) cops on bicycles to find the Vehicle Importation Building.  How you would find it without their help I don't know.  It took about 1/2 hr to cancel our importation papers.  A guy actually walked outside to confirm that we are taking the bikes out of Mexico.  Back in the States it was weird to follow road rules again.  On our way to Tucson we rode through some neat towns, like Bisbee and Tombstone located on hwy 80.  In Tucson we stayed at a Super 8 with a pool close to the Ironhorse BMW Dealer.  

Oct. 19, 2004.  Pretty quite day.  We dropped of my beemer at Ironhorse BMW Dealer.  They ordered the new parts and serviced the bike for its 14,000 miles service. We returned to the hotel and hung out at the pool. 

Oct. 20, 2004.  The part arrives, but it seems that it slides to easy on to the rear hub.  It is supposed to be a heat fit.  Ironhorse Mechanic John figures that the hub was machined to small at the factory and assumes that this will be only a quick fix and the rear drive will have to be replaced once in Canada.  The light bulb in my running light was also replaced and they noted that the switch for the high beam will have to be replaced.  While they replaced the parts we head to an internet café to check the weather north of Tucson and realize that snow storm warnings were in effect for northern Arizona, Utah and Idaho.  Talking to my bro Rusty in Canada the previous day confirmed that Calgary had gotten 15cm of snow and was sitting at a high of –6Deg.C.  We decided to change our route home.  The new route was to head into New Mexico, north to Colorado, through Wyoming and Montana into Canada and try to stay ahead of the snow.  We were on the road again by 2pm.  The service cost me around $256.00US and I picked up a book for traveling South America and a tire repair kit.  From Tucson we headed east on I10 and turned at Lordsburg onto hwy 90 to Silver City in New Mexico.  We stayed the night at a Hotel with a hot tub.

Oct. 21, 2004.  On the road again we rode through the  Black Range Mimres Mountain on hwy 152.  It was a pleasant surprise to have twisty roads.  The tree's had changed color and made for some awesome pictures.  We joined the interstate 25 at Truth or Consequences and headed north and off the interstate at Santa Fe.  North on hwy 285, 69 and 522.  A small detour to the Rio Grande Gorge and we noticed that the rear wheel on my BMW had a 1/4" play again.  We maybe had ridden 1000km since the replacement of the hub.  We called BMW Ironhorse in Tucson, who recommended Foothills BMW Dealer in Lakewood, Colorado.  We rode in the dark to Fort Garland, Colorado and took a Motel room.

Oct. 22, 2004.  We wake up to light snow. We followed a snow plow from Fort Garland over the 8,200ft Pass to Walsenburg on hwy 160. Back on interstate 25 north we passed through Colorado Spring in white out conditions and made it to Foothills BMW Dealership in Lakewood by noon.  My bike went into the shop and was diagnosed for a complete new rear drive and new rear shock.  We were lucky that the first rear drive for the new BMW 1200GS had just arrived in New York this morning, otherwise it would have been ordered from Germany and we definitely would have been hooped for getting back to Canada on time.  We already were thinking of alternative ways to get the bike back to Canada.  They got the new rear drive couriered over Friday night to Saturday to the shop.  As it was confirmed that we should be on the road again by the next day we took a hotel room close by.

Oct. 23, 2004.As promised the rear drive arrives and is installed immediately.  A new rear shock did not make it. Within 24 hrs of rolling into the dealership we are cruising again north on hwy 25 and cross into Wyoming.  The BMW service has been great.  In total we were delayed by one (1) day and of course had the hassle of dealing with the problem.  BMW roadside assistance did reimburse the hotel stay in Arizona and Colorado while the warranty service was completed.  Back in Canada the bike spent three (3) weeks at the shop for a rear shock.  Unfortunately the service at Blackfoot Motorsports in Calgary is very poor or non existing. Due to all this delay we just headed north the straightest way possible. We stayed at in Sherdian in a Hotel.  During the night we had a huge snowstorm.

Oct. 24, 2004. Sunday Week 6.  The roads were shear ice and we had to wait for a couple hours for the sun to melt the ice away. We rode interstate 90 to Billings, Montana and turned north on hwy 3 to Great Falls.  We were lucky and always were at the edge of a snow storm.  We made it to Conrad as the sun started to set.

Oct. 25, 2004. Everything was in the deep freeze as we woke up. Started to head north on hwy 15.  Temperature was -7Deg.C and at 120km/hr probably -30Deg.C we were pretty much frozen to the bikes.  The Canadian border crossing took all of 5 seconds, and we were back on home ground.  About 100km from Calgary we sneak up on a ghost car going 140km/hr and of course get pulled over.  We looked a sight, fully loaded, bundled in 10 layers of clothing and duck tape holding on the signal lights etc., I think he felt sorry for us and let us off on a warning.  Arriving in Calgary we pull up to the house and the yard had a good 10cm of snow. Welcome home. We weren't happy to be home, we would have loved to keep on going south, but that is coming in the future.  Another great trip to remember.

 

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