Wednesday, October 26th 2022: It was another early morning waking up for me at Peggy Sue’s Diner in Yermo CA, it is going to be another warm cloudless day as we head further east today, our destination today is Needles CA, and we will get there by travelling east on I-40. We are hoping to depart around the ten o’clock area, and should have us arrive shortly after lunch, we are hoping to stay at another Elks Lodge, with full hook ups, before boondocking for nearly a week. But breakfast this morning will be at Peggy Sue’s as a thank you for a spot to stay. There was some road noise from I-15 but nothing that was a concern, the garbage around the lot was vary saddening but seems to be common in this area of California.
So breakfast at Peggy Sue’s as, OK, I ordered “The Blob”, which consisted of buttermilk biscuits, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, and sausage, smothered in breakfast gravy. And no I was not able to finish it, but it did fill my craving for some biscuits and gravy. And we now have settled into the coach again after breakfast, I have published a couple of blogs and decided to get started on this weeks blog, this could be a bit of a strange week as we should be settled in the Yuma area soon, and by the sounds of it there is no real plan or schedule in place before this caravan comes together, it sounds as it could possibly be like herding cats.
So let’s start off with a little recap of what we have been up to, we have been on the road since September the 28th, we have driven over 2000 miles (3200 kilometers), this should be our last night in California, we are expecting to be in Yuma on October the 28th exactly one month since our journey started. The rest of October will be spent in the Yuma area, as we meet up with the rest of the Mexico caravan group, and allow us time to do the final preparations for Mexico. The weather has been astonishing for the season and time of year, and has provided us with remarkable views and memories that will last us a lifetime, the Elks Lodges have been a godsend allowing us safe places to stay, in areas that would be very expensive and difficult to stay at. The coach is running well, and in the last few days our mileage has increased from 7.5 mpg to 7.7 mpg, an unexpected surprise but a very nice surprise. I will continue to write our blog while we travel in Mexico but publishing may be an issue as we will not have a data plan there, so I will be relying on campground internet and our friends.
The journey today was eastbound on I-40, and was uneventful, and I was able to keep the cruise on for most of it. And we made it to the Elks Lodge in Needles CA, just before one o’clock, this will be our last full hookup stop before Mexico, so with 50 amp connection it is a great spot for some laundry, and a final opportunity to enjoy some of the perks of full hookups. Miss Laurie made pizza in the Ninja for dinner, and we spent the evening just watching the television, we have a view of the mountain ranges surrounding us as we have dropped down to the Colorado River valley, and I’m thinking I can now officially switch over to just shorts for the next couple months.
I just snapped the photo of the coach, looking back into the sunshine, but it is actually an amazing untouched photo of the blue skies, our spot has oleanders planted on either side, another clean well maintained Elks Lodge RV park.
Thursday, October 27th, 2022: And we woke to a blustery day, high winds are very common along the Colorado River valley and this morning there are wind warnings on both Lake Havasu and Lake Mojave, and along with the wind in the desert comes the dust, that is one thing you have to accept if spending much time in the desert. Our departure from Needles will be around 11:00, as we are only going south to the Quartzsite area today, fried eggs and toast for breakfast, and after adding some water to the fresh water tank and we are on the road.
Today we are heading south on US-95 from Needles, then east on California 62 to the Arizona state line at Parker, where the highway turns into Arizona 95, and then south to Quartzsite, where we will top off the onboard propane tank. And as crazy at it sounds we again pick up US-95, as we move south toward Yuma, but in actual fact we have decided to stay a few nights at the BLM land at the Roadrunner location it is 14 day free dispersed camping area, it will be quiet at this time of year and I can position Thunder to get the best solar harvest. Now I know that you might be wondering why not go to Yuma, well there are a lot of reasons, and we will move on to Yuma shortly, but we know this area, and it is a beautiful area, sunsets and sunrises are epic, the mountain views are stunning. The closest 14 day BLM land to Yuma is at the VFH but is on a major rail line and trains run past all night long, it seems pointless to spend $40 for the LTVA land at either Imperial Dam or Pilot Knob which are the actual closest spots. So we are settled in here for a day or two, I have been watching the chat page for this Baja adventure, and I think I’m better of a few miles away, don’t want to start annoying people already.
After pulling on to Roadrunner BLM land shortly after one o’clock, we settled in to have some lunch, we opened most of the windows to enjoy the gentle breeze and 75°F (24°C) of nothing but sunshine, everyone just seemed to go ahhh, as if we realized that we will enjoy a few very quiet days. I snapped some photos this afternoon of the views around us, there is a group a few hundred yards away, but the afternoon has been great. And of course I’m hoping Mother Nature will put on a show this evening. Dinner tonight was some precooked burgers, as it was quick and easy, a perfect end to the day.
Well the sunset show was as beautiful as a clear sky sunset can be, and just after the sunset we had some man made light show. We have no idea what we were seeing but it was quite a show, as usual photos just do not do it justice. And we now know that it was actually a SpaceX rocket that was launched last evening that gave us the light show, Thanks Chief Twit!
Friday, October 28th, 2022: And it was a very dark, very quiet peaceful night, I’m up at 5:30 but that seems to be pretty standard by now, and by six o’clock I can see the outline of the mountains through the windshield and a couple of small lamps from La Paz valley, Mister Sam is sitting on the dash and seem quite intrigued by something, but I can’t tell what. I love dawn, I always have, it is the prettiest part of the day, and it’s not just the view of the sun rising, it’s more about how the morning light colours everything around us, and here in the desert it’s all about how it paints the mountains with light. Yea I think we have made it back to our happy place.
Breakfast this morning was eggs and toast, we have to use up the eggs before crossing the border into Mexico, there are a number of items that we can not cross the border with so our menu for the next few days will be all about conforming to our upcoming border crossing. Now as the sun climbs in the sky so does the numbers on our solar panels, we had pulled our battery bank to the 65% level before the start of the replenish, I’m hoping not to have to tilt panels and still get back to 100%, it is 10:20 and we have climbed back to 70%.
Well we did not get to 100% but we did have a solar harvest of 291 amp/hours which for not having to getting on the roof to clean panels or tilting any panels seemed more than satisfactory to me, we have more than enough power with out any generator time, and we do not really change our life style much whether on or off grid, we don’t reduce our television time, it may change Laurie’s cooking method but really a not a lot of adjustments.
Miss Laurie thought I should pause of “Maple WiFi” hub while we are in Mexico, something I was not planning on doing, but I agreed to so I sent an email to ask for the pause while travelling in Mexico. We then watched our regular television before turning in for the evening. after a very peaceful day and a couple of adult beverages.
Saturday October 29th, 2022: It is another early morning, along with another beautiful sunrise, we had originally planned to move on to Yuma today. As I do every morning I checked my email, and was surprised to see a responce from “Maple WiFi” already, so I opened the email and to my surprise I was told pausing was no issue but that the hub should work fine in the Mexican Baja area. This was an unexpected but pleasant surprise so now we should have coverage, or at least as good as the cellular coverage as we move through. I’m going to have to up date my review of “Maple WiFi” as I’m learning so much more about their system as we use it. And we have decided just to stay here for another day, Roadrunner for the win!
There has not been a lot to report today, we have just sat around to enjoy another day of sunshine, Mister Sam has gotten some outdoor time, in between his naps, Miss Laurie has gotten some sunshine in the antigravity chair, and I have been listening to an audio book to pass the time, I actually never picked up the Blog for almost two days, I can only imagine catching up, I need to get back into my routine or Tuesday will be ugly.
Miss Laurie entered the coach, and pulled out her iPad to catch up on the group chat, and check Facebook, a few moments later she said the group that were parked in front of us here at Roadrunner, had just posted that they were a group of full timers and were enjoying a beautiful desert day in Quartzsite. That would normally not be anything special, but the post indicated that they were Canadian, so we decided to walk over to introduce ourselves and have a little chat. It turned out that they were from all across Canada and varied from 16 months to 27 years of full timing, and as a bonus they were all heading to Mexico over the next few weeks, some have been doing this trek for over a dozen years. So we sat and had a beverage with them before heading back to the coach.
Again today we never got to 100% but we pulled in another 284 amp/hours which got us back to within the ninety percentile area on the battery bank, again for not being tilted or cleaned recently I’m very pleased. It was another evening of catching up on the news and then television before heading to bed shortly after nine o’clock, not a real exciting day, but a great day to just prepare for the craziness which I’m sure is on the way.
Sunday, October 30th, 2022: I rolled out of bed just before five this morning, we need an early start today, but we didn’t need to start this early. This is an exciting day, we are moving to Yuma today, I’m topping off the fuel tank of Thunder in preparation for our Mexico adventure. We are planning on some dry camping at a casino parking lot in Winterhaven CA, yea we will be back in California before our meeting at Los Algodones at 11:00. Our stay at Roadrunner BLM land was been a needed break, maybe even more than we realized, and has taken silence to a whole new level, but we can’t put off the inevitable any longer.
We we pulling out of Roadrunner at 7:45, and are heading south on US-95 to Yuma a trek of just over an hour. I planning on a fuel stop in Yuma at another “Open Roads” station, this one is only around 50¢/gallon savings, but will make for our first fuel at under $5.00/gallon! And another 50 gallons of diesel later and we jumped on I-8 westbound approximately ten miles more to the casino parking lot. It will be noisy but this is also the meeting point for the caravan on Tuesday morning. The last time we stayed here it was free, now it is $10 per night, and there is nothing provided other than possibly some security.
Well so far, today has rolled out pretty much as planned, and by 10:15 we are parked in the casino lot and the toad is unhooked to make the short drive to Los Algodones and our first meeting of “The Group”, there will be seven couples in total taking on this adventure. And other that the organizers we do not know any of them other than by name, so today we were able to start to put faces and personalities with the names. We meet in at the parking lot to Los Algedones, and we walked across the border into Mexico, as simply as you would walk down any street, the only difference is that you are directed through a large turning steel gate, there is a similar gate on out exit along with US border control. Once in Los Algedones anyone with the proper dates on their FMM was able to get them stamped, the rest of us will have to wait until the crossing on November 1st. The next item was some people needed Mexican Pesos so they went to an ATM just over the border. Next was lunch and Margaritas in a open air restaurant, and a chance to sit and talk, and actually meet some of the people for the first time.
The above photo was our first real documentation that “The Group” even existed, and it was an opportunity to get a feel of what the next couple of months will be like. Paul & Lorena (the organizers) the first couple on the right side of the table, took the opportunity to brief us on what we can expect as we trek through Mexico. they spoke of tipping, and set some expectations, they spoke of manners, and a number of common sense items, there was talk around fueling seven RV’s, highway passing procedures, the use of walkie talkies to communicate from the front to the rear of the caravan, as on the highway we could be spread out over a couple of miles. I think the experience was a positive one, and the blending of fourteen personalities will take some time.
There will be lots of time to introduce the players as time moves on, and after we have had a chance to spend some time with them, but for now we have only had quick introductions, and after Paul & Lorena there are three Canadian couples and three American couples. We looked at getting sim cards for our phones but this did not seem like the place to accomplish that task, so we will look at that in San Filipe on November 1st. Miss Laurie picked up a bottle of 100 Amoxicillin tablets in a drug store for $10, we had purchases a bottle five years ago while in Algedones, this little border town is known for Dental, Glasses, and Prescription Drugs. And is popular with Americans and Canadians for inexpensive dental work, eye glasses, and a place where you can purchase prescription drugs over the counter, for cheap.
We reentered the United States, said our good byes, and headed back to the coach at the casino, to just mellow out for the rest of the day, some dinner, the news, 60 minuets, a couple of YouTube videos and it was off to bed by 9:30.
Monday, October 31st, 2022: And today will be a busy day for us, we need supplies so a Walmart run will be required, I has to clean the toad, it is carrying over 2000 miles of road grim, I also need to top off the fuel in the toad, and I was able to get regular gasoline for under $4/gallon, well it was $3.999 a gallon, so barely under the $4 mark. We left for Yuma shortly after ten and made it back to the coach shortly after after noon. It is warm today, 85°F (30°C), there is a breeze and the humidity is only 12% so a warm dry day. Rig wise we are as ready to go as possible, after all we just had a 2000 mile warm up, I will connect the toad tomorrow morning as we wait for the other five rigs to roll in, the last time I heard was nine o’clock, and will plan accordingly.
So this is the time when many people will be getting those butterflies in the stomach about travel, and for five of the seven couples Mexico will be a new experience, I occasionally get that feeling when we are going to move for the first time in a while, a little worry, a little excitement, lot’s of anticipation of the unknown. But this is what makes travelling so wonderful, and crossing borders has been part of what we do so we have no fear, answer the question truthfully, and if the find something you shouldn’t have, they will take it, you should have researched the rules! And remember the rules do change, as things like the bird flu happen so you have to check before crossing, just do your homework.
Tuesday, November 1st, 2022: Welcome to “Crazy Day”, today is the day that the cat herding starts, this morning at 9:30 the other five rigs will roll into the parking lot here at the casino. And the time of departure is set for 10:00
This is the kind of detail the Paul & Lorena have put together for us, with maps, distances, to hopefully provide enough information to allow everyone to plan accordingly, how it works out still remains to be seen, wish us luck.
Nov. 1, 2022
Day 1: Yuma, AZ to San Felipe, Baja California (286km)
This will be your first experience in a Baja Mexico town.
Don’t judge the rest of Baja based on San Felipe! Just saying! Lol
San Felipe does have a great grocery store and this will be an opportunity to stock up on fresh veggies and fruit.
It’s before nine o’clock and the first of the group has arrived, obviously not much excitement there, at this point, I’m still drinking coffee, I’m not hooked up yet, I guess I need to get my butt in gear. By 9:30 everyone, well no that’s true, the first five have rolled into the parking lot to join us, so now we are a group of six. We will pick up the seventh at the border, then as a group we will cross into Mexico, and get our FMM’s stamped and clear Mexican customs.
We pulled out of the casino parking lot at ten o’clock, jumped onto I-8 and headed west and made our way to California highway 7 and headed south to Mexicali our crossing point. This part of the drive was uneventful, we all had a chance to test out the two way radios (walkie-talkie), as this will be our way of communicating as we roll down the road. We pick up our seventh just north of the border and we proceed to cross as a group, we all pull into an inspection lane where we are processed by Mexican immigration and border control, many regular questions and we are free to continue.
Now imagine six motor coaches most towing toads, and one truck camper, working our way through Mexicali through stop signs, traffic lights, and even a roundabout or two and trying to stay close to connected, well it worked out surprisingly well as we kept heading for MEX-5 our highway south toward San Felipe. We we doing a “slow roll” as the leader waited for the tail coach to catch up to the caravan.
Now southward on MEX-5, as we roll through the country side, the highway was as good as most highways in the States, traffic was light and only two small construction areas. As we pulled into San Felipe the traffic picked up and the streets narrowed, every intersection was a four way stop, and we weaved our way through the town just playing follow the leader. Our first stop was for fuel, the basic rule of thumb, one fuels up, we all fuel up. The basic infer structure is ok but one never knows that it will be ok at the next stop, so everyone topped off their tanks.
Once you get past the initial numbers on the pump, the actual numbers are not as alarming as they appear. Our Canadian family will recognize the 89 litres, for our American family that is 23.5 gallons 2086 Mexican pesos is equal to is $144 Canadian or $105 American. Leading to an actual fuel price of $162/liter Canadian or $4.46/gallon American. Next we are on to our campground for the evening, the campground in reality offered nothing, just dry camping for 500 Mexican pesos for the night ($25.40 American or $34.65 Canadian) but this was the view from our windshield!
Our next task was to pick up some groceries, just the basics that we could not bring across the border, fresh peppers, onions, eggs, and a pineapple, from there we found a cellular shop where I purchased a new SIM for my phone, unlimited call and text with 4gb of data for 350 Mexican pesos ($24.25 Canadian or $17.78 American) for a month. We all regrouped back at camp before walking down the beach to the “boardwalk” an area of downtown San Felipe filled with restaurants and bars, where we found a spot for a cold beverage and a bite to eat. Then we wondered back to the campground where we lite a fire and mellowed out for the evening before turning in for the night near ten o’clock. Day One in the books!
Adventure here we come!