Friday, January 12, 2007
What a day it was today! Two weeks on the road, one day after payday! No tragedies, no major triumphs, but lots to report. We started the day in southern California, near the Tecate border crossing.
We were through the mexican customs before 8 in the morning. Unlike last year, when all vehicles entering at Mexicali were waved thrug without even stopping, this time in Tecate, there was a 'normal'border crossing with the guards standing around with wool over their faces to stay warm in the early morning 5 degree chill!
And unlike last year when I spent days in San Felipe trying to complete the 'tourist card' transaction, they have changed the procedure and I was able to get it right at the border. Because there was no traffic, parking was not a problem.
Of course, if you read my 'lost & found' report it will note that the tourist card I had already paid for through the Vagabudos travel club, is missing somewhere - presumably in the camper. Harley's brush and my favourite pen have been removed from the list as they have re-surfaced!
Then I had to stop in Ensenada and find a bank to get some cash and complete the tourist card transaction. Other than the 'normal' city parking woes, this went off without a hitch,including getting cash on the FIRST try at the ATM, unlike last year.
The south edge of Ensenada is really booming and a huge new mall complex is nearing completion. It includes a WalMart Supercentre, and a Home Depot. Also saw a Costco, Burger King, ScotiaBank, and several McDonalds (I even tried one).
Inspite of the roads sometimes being narrow and challenging, they have some innovative ideas down here that would merit wider adoption. In a three-lane section of highway in Tecate, there were THREE speed limits. One for each lane! The curb lane was 40km/hr, the centre lane was 50 and the fast lane was 60; the signs all placed on a convenien overpass!
Also managed to get through the border areas without having to chat with the local Federales - like last year!
Also saw a really neat new device. A self-loading dump truck! It has this huge bucket, as wide as the truck, anchored back along the sides. When down, it would be somewhat akin to a snow-plow out in front of the truck. When loaded, they must be able to lift it up, right over the cab and dump the contents in the box? I'll see if I can get some photos later for y'all.
Which reminds me. When I was chatting with the immigration officer to get my tourist card, you have to give your occpation. The guy was having difficlty figuring out what I did, so I showed him my badge. He laughed and pulled out his - which was about 1/3 the size!
Since I now had cash, I filled up with Magna Sin (regular grade) gasoline at 6.47 pesos/litre. At roughly 10 pesos to the dollar (to be confirmed), that would make the price about 65cents/l, cheaper than Canada.
Found a hot wi-fi site in one of the towns along the way, so did a quick e-mail (and home weather) check. I was advised by text message this morning, and confirmed by the weather report - that it was minus 30 at home last nite and a forecast high of only -16. Brrr. Downloaded a pic of snow in Vancouver, and checked the nice sunny pic on my home web cam.
While I was looking at the normally still pic, I saw a car pull in my driveway. It was my house-sitter and I was soon exchanging e-mails to see how things were going. I also used the Vonage phone on my laptop to phone home and chat. Ah, love that technology. Home phone is also a Vonage. Wonder if they will advertise phone, phone equipment, and internet phones on the blog now!!
Didn't want to get caught looking for a camp spot in the dark, so soon after 4 and south of San Quintin, I tracked down the same campground on the coast (Gypsies) (N30 24.424 W115 55.915). When I got close, I encountered an RV from Sylvan Lake which was slightly more 'location challenged' than I.
So I took them in tow to the campground on the shore. Likely a half mile of beach beore the water starts, though. Found a truck camper there from the Okanagan in B.C., and another RV from New Brunswick. Turns out they own land on the same island as my brother and his wife - in NB. So, as of last light, everyone staying here is Canadian!
Took advantage of the early stop and had the satellite dish up and the generator humming in no time. Harley was soon out meeting the neighbors and showing off his flashing red strobe light - so I can keep an eye on him in the dark.
Watched the Calary news (and weather!)
Okay, the weird thing is, when I sign on to update my blog from down here, ALL the instructions are in Spanish!