My Mexican non-adventure.... adventure.... or something like that
With big plans of exploring Northeast Mexico, I set out on my well equipped 1997 Honda XR650L.
First off, you've got to say goodbye to the family.
Then the boring roads...
... And being bored
Welcome to Texas. Where the roads are friendly, and people drive on the shoulder of the road for you to pass them.
Good food and good people.
Problem number one.
I knew I smelt something burning...... Well... i did a bad packing job. I used my bike cover as a backrest... well, when it became uncomfortable... i flipped it up.... and onto the exhaust. I reckon it sat on the pipe for 2 hours...:doh: I'm just glad it didnt catch fire.
Thanks to Tourmeister for hosting the TWTex BBQ. I'm glad I got to meet the folks that I did.
After leaving Scott's house I continued west, aiming for Lake Corpus Christi for another TWTexan's house to spend the night. "I'll leave the bottom floor unlocked for you." :trust:
Well, soon after leaving Huntsville, its like someone told the big boss man up stairs to paint a different landscape. I went from pineywoods to scrubby, desert-ier, terrain full of cattle and my first cactuses. What I didnt notice, while enjoying the landscape was the piece of paneling in the road.... that the car in front of me kicked up.
Kicked up, meaning, I drove through a 4ft x8ft x 1/4" piece of brown wall paneling that was standing on its side.... I didnt know what the freak that was..... I thought I might need to check my shorts after that, but I just pissed myself.:-P I didnt get a picture of this event, unfortunately.... but a couple miles down the road, i tried to use my HWY pegs. turns out i picked up a hitch-hiker... a 1ft square-ish piece I kicked it off and watched it land square across the hood the the car tailgating me... they backed off.
Then, after seeing several pieces of paneling on the road, I caught up to the source.
I passed through a few little towns that seemed pretty cool. Round Top and a little town called La Grange.... did ZZ name the song after this town?
And, there must be a bunch of Checks? cheqs? chex? Czechs? In this town... I saw all sorts of Czech items for sale and vendors on the sides of the road...
Now... the funishly SUCKY part. The next 200 miles of rain.
By the way... the first rain shot where I am wearing the bandana... It works great until saturated, where then it becomes a Highspeed death trap torture device.... You cant breath through wet cloth! I almost panicked because I had the bottom going under the chin strap....
In the last shot above, I stopped at a gas station hoping the rain would slack....... nope. I musterd up, left the store clerk a $1 tip to have to mop up after me.... and hit the road again.
I was blessed with a big rays of sunshine after the rain stopped.
I grew closer to Mike's place on Lake Corpus Christi. But, because I didnt have detailed maps of the area in the GPS, I had to search for it like a geocache. After being unsucessful and the sun going down, I stopped in Sandia, Texas, to ask a sheriff where I needed to go. Him--"Down the road, the first pavement to your right, take a right at the quickstop." Me---"Thanks, take it easy, write the next guy a ticket!" Him---"You be careful on that thing" Me "Yes-sir, trying to get off the road before the road rats (deer) get out!"
So, just incase you were wondering. I was still looking for a geocache'd house. Geo-referencing and encoding has a problem with addresses. It takes a lot of math to try and get an address transferred into a nice healthy lat/long waypoint.... well, mine was off by about a mile. I had the address but no phone number. I think i find it so I go to knock on the door. Sure enough there is a dual sport bike tire on a trailer out front, and a KLR under the carport. Must be the right place. Hmmmm downstairs, lets go see if the door's unlocked. Yep. Hmmm more bikes!
Host and Hostess. Thanks again guys! Mike and his wife let me borrow their bottom floor. I joined them at a friend's house for BBQ later that evening, giving my clothes time to dry out after the evening's time in the rain.
The next morning, I woke up to an ominous sky.... soon to be rain. Late start.
We ate breakfast, my first time to have breakfast tacos. Very nice. Saddled up, said my thank-yous and good-byes, headed south. The road away from my hosts' house was nice and curvey for a change.... until I got to Hwy 281 which is a whole lot of nothingness for and flatness for 150 miles or so.
But, the mesquite trees divided the hwys and cacti lined the ditches.
My list of mistakes......
So, what not to do. Don't forget to do your paper work. Don't listen to the guys that wave you through. Don't drive into Mexico without insurance. Don't forget to go to a casa de cambio to get your pesos. Dont trust Mexicans in Reynosa. DONT get off the main streets. Dont pull over for a federale unless he's pointing a gun at you.... DONT do the speed limit if the traffic is going faster than you. Don't pull out a wad of money infront of a bunch of poor people....
So here's my story about Mexico. While I was going through Edinburg and into Pharr, I noticed the bike making the clunking noise. I pulled over to check it out... chain was loose. Ok, tighten her up. Get going again.... this time, I'm actually pulling into the border. Well.... I get to the gate that you drive through... I get a bell and there is a guy to the side that waves me through... ummmm ok.... I get to the check station and the guys are eating lunch.... they wave me through. I get to the Military check point.... they wave me through... wait, wasnt I supposed to do some sort of paperwork???? Where was I supposed do this? I had heard somewhere that there was another place to do paperwork several miles at the official checkpoint outside of the border zone... was this what I was supposed to do? NOPE! Where the first guy was waving me through, was where I was supposed to park and go do the paperwork.
So, if you cross at Pharr, when you get to the border gate, go to the nice new building to your right. Park and go in to do the paperwork.
After I was waived through the border.... I exclaimed "I'm in Mexico! Whoo hoo!" A couple miles later, while on Hwy 2 going to Hwy 40, my whoo hoo definately turned to "Oh no." The clunking became incredibly worse but I noticed it didnt clunk at speed. I continued to Hwy 40 but after several stop lights, I noticed the clunking becoming steadily worse until I stopped at a PeMex to check it out... couldnt see anything. I didnt know what to check and I didnt know what to do besides turn back.
I had 6 delimas. 1) I had not properly immigrated 2)I had not purchased Mex insurance since it was sunday and no offices that I passed were open. 3) I had no Pesos. 4) I was almost out of gas. Gas is cheaper in Mex, and I had timed it to fill up on hwy 40. 5) My bike's clunking was getting continually worse. 6) I had no cell service to try and call anyone to see what to check.
I turned back. Driving through the heart of Reynosa, following signs for el Puente Internacional. I eventually didnt make a turn... and went through a bad-ish neighbor/shanty town..... I didnt see any more signs.... So I stopped and asked a federale. He pointed me back to my missed turn and then tried to stop me... im guessing for a tip.... wanting some spare change or something. I have no idea... but I didnt stop. He followed me a few blocks, with his lights on, maybe he was making sure I got going the right way? Eventually he turned around and I'm now at the border again.
So, now my mexico pictures....
Notice that I am on the Mexican side of the line? and looking at the US side of the Rio Grande. My only proof that I was in Mexico besides my GPX tracks and SPOT tracks.
Don't Mess With Texas! :D
I'm going to hang around and see what happens next.
:lurk Rain sucks.
The "No-tell" motels.
I'm sure some of you have heard of these.... any of you who have traveled to Mexico/Latin America know of these.
But, I finally got to see one for myself. Unfortunately, I was avoiding nails in the road and keeping ahead of the dodge cars to get a picture.
Well, these hotels are setup so that you can drive into them and then drive into a carport and close the door, hiding your car. You are then able to discretely pay for, as I saw at one of these, 6 hours or less, or more at a time.
And I hear people say Mexicans aren't smart. Not the best idea, but a smart one for the use.
I wouldnt stay at one of these hotels for fear of catching something by sleeping on the bed....
I thought the ingenuity was interesting.
Since I turned back... I had to go through the border.... well, the line was long.... and after sitting there for 30 minutes or so, one of the illegal vendors selling stuffed horses told me that he rides a moto and that he cuts the line when he crosses... OK, cool... so I wait till the line clears and then start weaving in and out... then get stuck..... The guy comes back up to me and gets my attention then steps out infront of a car to make them stop and he let me go and then directed me kind of on a shoulder wide enough for me to get close to the front of the line. I went about 3 times as far in 3 minutes as it took me to go in 30 minutes!
So, I get to the guy that asks you questions. He asked me how long I had been in Mexico.... "about an hour". Him--"You're packed awefully heavy for an hour's ride in Mexico...." me-- "yeah I'm having bike trouble and I dont think I crossed correctly..." Him-- as he motioned for the drug dog to come over.... "Let me see your credentials. So what was the problem?" Me-- "well, when I crossed at Pharr they pretty muched waived me through... I knew I was supposed to do my papework, but I didnt know where to go... and I heard that there was a checkpoint later where you do your paperwork, but had a feeling that wasnt so."
He then went on to explain where I was supposed to go and basically made me feel stoooopid. I agreed with him and he said vaya con dios, hombre.
After I crossed back over, I headed towards the bike shop that the border agent gave me directions to... After forgetting the directions, I stopped and asked a McAllen cop. He gave me directions and then asked me what I was up to. I told him my story. He asked me if I was afraid to go into Mexico by myself..... well, I admitted that Hwy 2 from Pharr to Hwy 40 in Reynosa scared the mess out of me. He told me the gang signs there, which I remembered seeing a couple that he described. One of the gangs are called the "Zetas" a large, multi-colored ZZZs. He said these are the guys that stop you and take your stuff.... OK, well, I'll try to avoid them.
I found the Honda dealership... but its still Sunday. They open at 9:00 on Monday morning. Time to find a hotel room... its about to rain again. I get checked in and unload. I try to figure out whats wrong with the bike. Still didnt know.
So, there's my way of getting the rear wheel off the ground. Side stand, pull it over and lean against the pole..... it worked. I lubed my chain while I was at it.
loosening the pack and tightening things back up... oh and drying them out again.
This is why I got a hotel room....
So I beat the folks to the dealer there on Monday morning. I go inside to ask for a mechanic and they soon had me and the bike out of the rain checking things out. Of course, we couldnt get the symptoms to show up.... so they put the bike on a stand.
We'll they went through a bunch of ideas and finally figured out it was the wheel bearing.
So, this is what it looks like...
Thats what caused all the fuss.
After leaving the shop... I was headed back to the hwy when I spied a Shipleys donuts. I shook off outside to get the rain off of me, then went inside. I got the cricket noise as I walked in... EVERYONE in the shop stopped and looked at me. :lol2: I dont blame them. A wet guy on a motorcycle.
After eating, a guy sitting next to me started a conversation... this is an older fella, 73, a vietnam veteran, ex policeman, 2 of his 3 wives have been murdered and he always carry's 2 guns and lots of ammo. He said he's been across the country on an _________ bike. 225cc's worth of pure American 1950's moto muscle. He shared several stories about the war, about Mexicans, about how a woman ran him over while riding his motorcycle. Very odd man.... something was wrong with him.... and he wouldnt shut up until I stood up saying the rain had slacked off a little.
Heading east out of McAllen, I got Harlingen and headed north aiming for Corpus Christi. It rained until just south of CC. A new method for keeping the rain off my nose was using a paper dust mask under the helmet. Worked wonders.
Speaking of rain, since there was plenty going around..... it was raining so hard that a lot of cars got off the hwy.... this posed a major problem for them. The frontage roads were flooded. I saw probably 50 cars that day stranded in the water. At one point the hwy was flooded, forcing cars to go into the left lane, shallower than the right, and the cars were going really slow. I took the opportunity to take the deeper side and passed another 100 cars or so.
As I headed north, I noticed the hwy being covered with rocks. Before too long, the rocks began jumping around. "Oh.... its frogs" I thought to myself.
My earplug came unglued from inside my ear and began making my ear hurt, so I stopped under an overpass to fix it. Here I realized the frogs were not frogs, but toads. I quickly recognized which brand they were... spade foot toads. These little guys come out during spring rains... before then, they stay buried underground.
I began dodging toads. Gave me some relief to the inches of rain that was falling.
On down the road... just shy of Corpus Christi, I kept getting something in my eye. So I had to stop. Yep. Thats an eyeball in there!
My wife was clever enough to see how pruney my fingers were. I had been riding half the day in the rain!
I managed to skirt the storms fo most of the rest of the day. I made it to Corpus Christi and Padre Island. I wanted to check out the coastal towns because my wife has been wanting to go to the beach for a while. Padre and Mustang Islands are nice. I'm thinking Port Aransas will be the vacation spot. (No pictures from there) I had to catch the ferry before it stormed again...
Mustang Island NP. Notice the vehicle in the distance on the right.... its stuck.
And then.... an oasis in the middle of FLATNESS....
Galveston in a bit.
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