Thinking about our 2010-2011 Winter Trip

Had a hot summer in Cleveland this year.
I got in lots of WW kayaking in WV
Peggy’s only sister Bobbie passed away on July 5th after a long bout with Cancer.
Not much else going on here. Golf, Cut the grass, Kayak – repeat.
Planning a mystery play, train ride, dinner in the mountains of WV with friends this September.

Reading all about the drug wars in Mexico but the fact that all our previous trips to Mexico were so much fun, the weather so good, that we most likely will go again, leaving in mid November.

Peggy really enjoyed the Yucatan over the past two years so we will likely plan a trip similar to last year’s.
We will start with La Pesca, head south to the Emerald Coast.
Stay at Catemaco and then maybe head back to Xcalak before heading north to Xpu-Ha.

If we hear from any of the friends we met over the past few years we could change our minds. We usually alter our plans as we travel and talk to others.

When I start getting some specific dates and routes I will post here and on our Mexico web pages.

We leave Cleveland in one week.

Getting the RV cleaned up and checked out.
Found out that black water tank valve automatic actuator was intermittent, I ordered a new actuator from Phoenix, got it in a day at amost half the price of local RV dealer. I’ll put in on in warmer weather when I need to dump.

My computer crashed this morning, Dell said that my warranty had just expired and it could cost as much as a new computer to repair it. So, I ordered a new laptop computer.
Then I renewed my warranty since I could still do that. Got a better help person who says maybe your memory needs to be pulled out and reinserted. Tried that and it worked like a charm, too bad there was no error message to that effect.

But now my computer works just fine and I can play with and configure my new laptop at my leisure. It is supposed to arrive by next Tuesday.

We hope to get on the road to Houston, TX early on Thursday the 11th.
I’ll start posting more regularly now.

When we get to Mexico I’m going to try to see if I can get a Telcel Internet 3G stick for the computer. Last year my friends at Xpu-Ha all had one and they said the internet service was faster than the slow campground Wi-Fi. It costs about $40/month but it may give me better internet coverage. You can signup by the month, no long term contract.

On the Road Again – 2010 – 2011 Mexico Trip

As Willy Nelson sings we are “On the Road Again”. We got packed up and took a look at the forecast for beautiful warm sunny weather heading to Houston, so we left at 6:15AM Wednesday morning. We got to our favorite Wal-Mart–Sam’s club overnight stop in Jackson, TN on I-40.. They even have free Wi-Fi this year. We got here about 4:30 PM and had a burger at Steak & Shake.
We should arrive late Thursday in Houston, everything is running well and traffic was not too heavy. We will visit Rich & Tracey Priem and family for a few days before heading to the border city of Harlingen, TX, another Wal-Mart stop.

Here are some family pictures I took at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Extra Day on The Road

Since we got started on our trip a day early we decided to visit Sabine National Forest in Texas on the border of Louisiana.  Its on Toledo Bend Reservoir, the fifth largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

At this time of year the beautiful campground was virtually empty. Big wooded sites for $4 per night. It’s supposed to be one of the best Bass fishing lakes around. We could see why since the lake was down about 4′, probably a winter drawdown, all you could see were trees in the lake.

We got to Houston after lunch to spend a few days with my cousin Rich Priem and his family.

Entering Mexico Wednesday Morning

We spent 4 nights with the Priem’s in Houston. Rich & Tracey and their three sons, Cade, Dane & Finn really entertained us. We took a couple of short bike rides. Rob Hammond drove all the way down from Austin to be with us for a Sunday evening Mexican dinner with an entertaining singer. Tracey’s parents stopped over for a great Salmon dinner on Monday.  We left around 9:15AM on Tuesday morning to drive to San Benito, TX a few miles south of Harlingen to have a early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Longhorn Bar-B-Q . We got there around 3:15PM which left Peggy plenty of time to shop at the Mall in Harlingen before retiring for the night in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot with several other campers also heading to Mexico. I‘m posting this from a nearby McDonalds early in the morning. We will cross at Los Indios.

Wednesday’s plan is to stop in Valle Hermosa to see if I can get a 3G phone card for my computer from Telcel, get some pesos from an ATM machine and head to the little town on the coast called La Pesca.

Drive to La Pesca, MX

See Map 1
We awoke early and headed over to a nearby McDonalds to use their free Wi-Fi and then headed to the border crossing at Los Indios, it’s only a 20 min ride so we got there about 7AM. I think the crossing opens at 6AM but the place where you can get your FMM visa’s doesn’t open until 8AM and if you need a car permit or want to pay for your FMM that doesn’t open until 9AM. We left a few minutes after 8AM, but did not pay the visa fee, you can pay at any time during the trip at any bank in MX.

We drove to Valle Hermosa and got there to buy a Telcel 3G card for my computer so we can get internet access when within cell phone range. Too early again! The Coppel store doesn’t open until 10 AM and we got here at 9 AM. However the Bancomer bank across the street opens at 9 AM so I decided to pay for my FMM and exchange some dollars for pesos. We did a little shopping and I was first in-line at the Telcel booth. They were very helpful in buying the computer 3G stick and signing up for the service but it took an hour to do it. The stick cost about $50 and 30 days of service cost $40.

It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to La Pesca on very good roads with very light traffic. Of course there were two military stops and one customs stop along the way which went very quickly. We saw a lot of military in vehicles along the way also.

We got to La Pesca a little before 3pm and temperatures were in the high 80’s. We found that the Tropicana Campground had weathered the Hurricane that passed right over it this summer well, it looked the same as last year and the USA owner was happy to see his first RV of the season. He is very troubled that his tourism business has dried up but of course it is still very  early in the season.

The campground has full hookups for one site and if he fixes the electrical has water and electric for about 4 more sites along with 4 nice cabins. It is right on the river and about 1-1/2 mi to the free ocean beach camp sites.

We awoke to a very windy morning and temperature about 70oF, there is no cell service here so I had to bike into town to post this.

La Pesca – Perfect Weather for Bicycling

On Thursday it got really windy and cool in the morning, so we waited until the wind died down in the afternoon and took a bike ride to the beach. It’s only 1-1/2mi away by nice paved road and since it dead-ends on the beach there is not much traffic.

It didn’t look like the hurricane did much damage as all the palapas were still standing awaiting some tent campers.

I found out that they still have a little internet place in town about a mile away, I can’t use my new 3G card since there is no cell service in this sleepy little town.

On Friday the temperatures warmed back up to the 80’s and the wind died. So our morning ride to the beach was very easy with perfect temperatures and sunny skies. We took a nice beach walk as well. After lunch I did some writing and Peggy read her book and I biked back to town to post this.

On the Emerald Coast, North of Vera Cruz

See Map 2
We stayed at La Pesca until Sunday morning.As usual the owner was great and made us feel very welcome, especially since we were the first RV of the season. He hopes more campers or cabin renters come or he may have to close it up, and it is a very nice place close to the town and the beach.
We pulled out at 6 AM under a bright full moon since it is a 9-1/2 hr, 380mi drive to the Costa Esmeralda. Right after Altamira, a few miles before the Tampico bypass, we saw the Transito police where they stopped us last year. So we were going slow and staying in the right lane, but they stopped us for a second anyway and said keep going slow in the right lane, no attempt at a bribe. On the bypass where you go over the highway overpass to start heading back North, another Transito stopped us for no apparent reason asked for my drivers license, he handed it back and said adios. Maybe it was a seat-belt check, who knows. Maybe it was the big stickers on my RV that says in Spanish. “Stop feeding the corruption, no bite” We never saw any military stops southbound at all.

The bypass was as bad as ever but the roads south of Tampico were much better, very few road craters. There was about 5 mi of construction south of Soto de la Marina but it did not hold us up. Traffic was light, we took our time and stopped for some oranges south of Alamo and got to Neptuno campground before 3:30 PM. No other campers, he said a few days ago there were two RV’s. Guess what? No cell service to try my new 3G stick and no Wi-Fi anywhere nearby.
We will stay at Neptuno for two nights, I looked next door at Trailer Park de Alba and it looked open but no one was there, we usually stay there but someone told us it was closed. On Tuesday morning we will head to Catemaco and Tepetepan campground. We like the friendly people there and hope that they will again have their annual Thanksgiving pot-luck dinner with the campground owner cooking up the turkeys.
I checked again and now I can connect my computer to the internet with my new card, Yea.

Catemaco–Tepetapen RV Park

See Map 3

See Map 3
It’s only a 200 mi drive from the Emerald Coast to Catemaco but it takes 6 hours. So we left Neptuno campground at 6:15 AM to allow us plenty of time for grocery shopping and bad roads. The roads south of the campground have improved a little and they are currently paving a section which slowed us a little. The two overpasses they have been working on for the past two years on the Vera Cruz bypass are still being worked on and getting though the intersection and on to the correct road to the Tuxtlas is still a problem.
We always stop at the Soriana in San Andres Tuxtla, it’s a really good mega-store supermarket. While shopping who pops up but Sunny & Kurt who have  Casitas at Villas Tepetapen. They hopped in our RV and saved them a bus ride back to camp. I kayaked here with Sunny last year and it was a surprise to meet her here. <

When we got to the RV park we found John & Elsie there to greet us. We will be staying with them near Cancun before and after we fly back home for the Christmas holidays, like we did the past two years.
Finally more RV’s then we have seen for the entire trip so far. Catemaco is a nice destination and the campground owner is friendly and keeps the campground in great shape. Here is Gene cleaning the pool in the morning.
We probably will stay here for a week, especially after Gene confirmed that the big Thanksgiving Turkey dinner is on again this year. He improved the Wi-Fi and signal is strong, fast and free.