We left San Carlos on March 16th, just on time, early actually at 6:45 am. Pretty happy about that. We decided to cross a little west of Nogales AZ at Lukeville AZ. We have heard great things about how easy it is. Off we went........It takes about 4 hours to get to Santa Ana on the Mex15. At this point, the road splits in a "Y". One way goes to Nogales and the other way goes towards the Lukeville crossing. If you choose to go through Nogales, you will be at the US border in about 1 hour. If you go through Lukeville, it will take you about 3 hours. We had researched and found that we "thought" that we were to turn in our vehicle permit in San Emeterio. Well, that information was wrong. As we drove up the highway, we passed a lovely, huge new building that we assumed to be the new customs and immigration only building. We must have both missed any potential sign that said "vehicle permit" or Banjercito. This new building is near Pitiquito, which is south of Caborca. Anyway, the funny part (no, not really) was we continued to drive another 100+ kms up the road to San Emeterio. Got out and went across the highway to find the office where we turn in the permit. The gent told us that they had changed to the new building down by Pitiquito 2 years ago!! Yikes. No other option but to back track down the sometimes bumpy highway in 37C heat. We arrived back at that new customs and immigration building and turned in the vehicle permit. Then.......you got it, we headed BACK up that same highway to the Lukeville border. When we had arrived at San Emeterio, we were actually only about 20 kms from the US border so it was a huge bummer. Oh well, live and learn and learn we did indeed!! This error not only cost us about 240 kms but also about 3 hours of our time.
Much later (like the aforementioned 3 hours) we turned in our tourist visas and had our passports stamped out (......the only other thing left to do) on the Mexican side at Sonoyta. The Lukeville border was, indeed, very quiet and for the first time in our three years of doing this we did not have to go into the secondary inspection on the US side so we really liked that part. Would we take that route again? I am not sure. Not because of the mistake or the "episode" as I like to call it but because once I leave San Carlos, I like the fact that in about four hours we are at the US border with all permits, tourist visas returned and passports stamped out. Now, the wait at the Nogales AZ border is sometimes a bit lengthy. We have twice encountered at least 1+ hours in the hot sun waiting in the line-up to cross (and we do not have A/C) but, we are familiar with it. Going the new way, once you leave San Carlos, it takes about 6 hours to hit the border. Guess we will have to decompress the trip and figure out which way we prefer. This year we had figured out our US route homeward as going up through Gila Bend (straight up from Lukeville) so it was important that we went that way. Also, sometimes if you make a mistake, like we did, you almost have to go back and finish it so it doesn't defeat you. Glad we did that. But, more fun was still to come......
After crossing into the US, we enjoyed the drive through Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Park, it was really pretty. I was driving through the little town of Ajo AZ when the battery light came on. I reported this immediately to the head mechanic who was relaxing in the passenger's seat. Needless to say, he nearly jumped out of that seat. We stopped at the gas station (the ONLY gas station we saw in town) for him to try and inspect anything obvious and he was pretty sure that it was the alternator starting to go. We had no choice but to carry on and "hope" that the van would get us to Gila Bend. Well, a hair-raising hour later it got us there to the little overnight campground. Phew.....what a day that was. Not only were we late due to our boo-boo on the permit episode but the down time at the gas station too. It was a dark drive in the desert that's for sure.....
In the morning by some miracle, the van still started up and we headed off to a repair shop in Gila Bend but they couldn't help us so it was off to Buckeye, 30 miles away.
What a great shop we ended up at..... "2 Amigos Llantera & Mecanico".....sounds like we are back in Mexico doesn't it?! Eric there was amazing and they even had the part in town so it was sent directly over to the garage and an hour and a half later, Eric had us on our way for $240 US. Pretty good price and we were very happy. Now, we were running about 4 hours behind schedule. We decided that we would try to get to our original second US stop in Coalinga CA, quite a ways up the I-5. It is about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. As luck would have it, it was rush hour when we hit the Los Angeles basin.....oh joy!
We did get to the Coalinga RV stop and the rest of the trip unfolded as planned. We were both glad that we pushed through to get ourselves re-aligned to our "planned" schedule. After this it was on to Myrtle Creek (about 70 miles north of Medford OR) and then home. Phew!!!
For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more road pictures.......
A load of plastic water tanks that sit on the
roof of nearly every Mexican home.
Somewhere on the road by Caborca/Pitiquito...
Tiny little building at the back of the huge new customs building
where the young gal takes your permit sticker off and records everything...
So simple when you know it's here!!!
Third time we had passed by this tanker truck that had caught on fire....
Ah, this is the hill coming down into San Emeterio. The immigration
and customs building is on the left. If you look closely you can see
all the trucks waiting to go through inspection....two kms worth!!
Anyway, DO NOT go here to return your vehicle permit!!
Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Park - Back in the USA!!
Thursday, March 17th...
If you run into car trouble near Buckeye AZ, this is where you can go!
Walking around while the van was being fixed we saw this store.
I'm not sure a Drive Thru smoke shop is a good idea?!!
...and just down the road! But this one a person has to actually
WALK into! Preposterous!!
Outskirts of Los Angeles rush hour traffic on the I-5.
This goes on for probably 75 miles through that L.A.basin.
Unbelievable to think people drive this everyday....
Going through the legendary (at least to those in the transportation industry)
Grapevine Hill. Pretty steep at 4,150 ft!! Still 121 MILES from
Coalinga and darkness is coming fast.
Friday, March 18th.
Heading north out of the Coalinga CA area....
Loads of orchards in and around the Tracy CA area. We enjoyed
this drive SO much better than Hwy 99 that runs through Bakersfield...
Heading up and into the Mt Shasta Nat'l Park area in northern California
Way up into the Mt Shasta area is this awesome stop. It has been
here since 1928. Same restaurant and fuel spot.
Loved it and wish we hadn't had lunch already!!!
Step back in time, won't you.....
Mt Shasta peaking through the trees....
...and from the back (north) side on the flats.
Road snacks.....prepped by Doug!
Last stop in Myrtle Creek OR on March 18th.
Pretty typical highway RV stop.
Lots of permanent trailers here but nice enough facilities....
Great diner just a short walk down the road.
Excellent Mexican fare - imagine!!
Leaving Myrtle Creek OR on Saturday, March 19th.
Can home be much further??
More road appy's. Doug felt I was
trying to "one-up" his pretzel Goldfish snacks from yesterday!!
The beautiful Peace Arch border monument!
Wow - that was quite the ride home, wasn't it? Hope you enjoyed it.......Sorry for the long post but believe it or not, I have actually left out a few details!! Imagine!!
That's it for now. We safely travelled 10,091 kms back to home. I will do my Mexico 2016 wrap up soon. Thanks to everyone for coming along with us!!
Thought for the Day: "There's no place like home".....Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.