Wednesday, March 19, 2008
We were finally back on the road with everything working well, but the gas guage was not really as high as it should have been, fr crossing the no-gas zone.
Since the new fuel pump included a new float to record the fuel level, perhaps this was just a bit different than I was used to?
Where could the fuel have gone? Were the headwinds that bad?
Then I started to recall the driving around town, the test drives with the foot to the floor, and the revving to ensure good RPM, the fuel that had been spilled, and the full out passing of a couple of slow semi trucks. With roads as narrow as they are, you don't want to be alongside any longer than necessary.
I started to do the mental calculations of distance and remaining fuel, and I could see that it was going to be a close one. About half way, I decided that it was unlikely that I would make it all the way. I knew that I had a full gallon can for the generator, and I could dump the best part of a gallon out of the little Honda if I had to, ... but it was still going to be tough.
I started to watch out for fellow travellers with boats or quads, as I knew it was likely they would have lots of spare gas in convenient containers that they could loan me.
I pulled in to Catavina just at dusk, and noted that the Pemex station - was still 'under construction'. But there was an American guy who was in the process of giving his own truck a drink of gas from a can he had with him.
Just then I noticed a little trailer by the roadside with 20 or 30 old military style gas cans and a few gas drums as well. I pulled up alongside, and the owner of the gas came running up and was only to glad to siphon gallons into my truck for the outrageous price of $15, which was higher than the Mexican price, but still cheaper than gas in Canada! He was doing a fine business with similarly gas-challenged motorists. Harley and I breathed another big sigh of relief, and trundled off into the desert to find a camp spot.
Much to my surprise, it rained on and off most of the night, and was cool and damp in the morning. At least it got the worst of the accumulated dust splashed off the truck. Travelling that day alternated between showers, rain, and sunshine. Going through one small town, part of the highway was actually flooded!
Maybe it was just coincidence, but the army checkpoints seemed less rigorous when it was cool or raining! Most were content to pull down their balaclavas to chat with Harley and let us go without even looking in the back.
We pulled off the highway for some lunch near where I had camped on the way down. Sure enough, before long I heard a horn honking, and there was Fidel, the campground operator who had traded a night's stay for my ball cap. I'm not sure if he recognized the rig, or whether he just approaches all potential customers with a sales pitch for his campground. Since it was just lunch time, I just said Hello and carried on.
Just south of Ensenada we did a detour into a place called La Bufadora, which is a scenic little tourist area on a point of land into the Pacific ocean.
In Ensenada, some big and important looking building?
I had a feeling that arriving at the Tecate border crossing late on a Sunday afternoon was about the worst possible time to do so, but if I was going to kill time, it might as well be in the line-up.
Sure enough, the line was longer than I had ever seen it, but what better time to get on the laptop and start putting some words into the blog! Of the hudreds of cars in the lineup, I'm sure I was about the only one who turned off the engine regularly (hear that, Alex?).
And I had thought California and Californians were leading the charge to save the environment. Sure all the cars were smog-tested, but they were emitting more than mine when it was turned off.
As the line approaches, then goes along the border wall, you can see the US Border Patrol trucks parked on the hillside on the US side, and as darkness falls, the huge floodlights come on, turning night into day.
The double line of cars follows right along the wall for about half a mile, while the vendors try to sell you the chicklets you always wanted. But it also gave me time to consume the illegal carrots, kiwi fruit, and meat slices that I had in the fridge. Lots of folks just hanging around down here, and sure enough, in full view of two or three hundred cars in line, we watched 5 young males and a female climb over the wall and disappear on the US side.
When I finally reached the Customs agents after a mere 1.5 hours in line, the guy told me the group had already been caught. Maybe it is just me, but I don't think I would try to sneak across the border under big floodlights a mere 200 yards from the vehicle crossing? But, as I approached the booth, a few pedestrians cut in front of me. One guy must not have impressed the agent, as he was frisked, arrested, and walked into the main building, leaving me sitting there waiting at the untended booth. Because of the camper, I get an automatic free pass into a 'secondary' inspection, but in a marked departure from some past experiences, all the officers I talked to were very polite, friendly, and completely non-confrontational.
While looking for a suitable camp spot close to the border on the US side, I stumbled right into a very nice little campground, the Potrero Regional Park, in the county of San Diego. For $20, there was electricity, water, and hot showers that didn't wait for you to put in coins. It was a very nicely maintained and scenic spot, but at an elevation of 2300 feet, it was brutally cold at night, almost causing me to mutter the 'F' word. You know - frost! Yikes, we don't need that, C'mon Harley, lets get our butts somewhere warm.
In case you think that Mexico does not recycle much, you may be surprised to see that they are now indeed picking up and hauling away lots of scrap metal laying around. I played tag with this truck on the road one day, hoping a bicycle or washing machine didn't fall off on the road in front of me!Remember, you can click on any photo for a larger version. Be sure to check out some of the advertisers on the page. Google pays me when you do!
And if you are really bored, you can add comments at the link at the bottom of the post, or send e-mail from the link where it says "EMAIL ME HERE" (see it now, Garry?)