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chabon 03-27-2012 10:30 AM

Copper Canyon Mexico or Will I come back alive?
Planning and Preparation

I had been wanting to do a trip to Copper Canyon Mexico for a while. My mode of transportation will be my '97 F650 Classic. My opportunity arose when I attended the Horizons Unlimited ( meeting in Cambria California last October. I met Burt in Cambria and mentioned my intentions. He spoke up and said ď How does March 2012 sound?Ē. Turns out Burt is quite the seasoned traveller, rides around 20-30,000 miles a year, and had been to Copper Canyon about 12 times. Well, over the next four months I would read all the ride reports on Copper Canyon I could find, get a few supplies I would need, and peruse maps and GPS tracks of Mexico. I highly recommend the Horizons Unlimited meeting to be held in Cambria again this year. Tons of good information for those interested in dual sport adventure travel.
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting in Cambria. by elainegarvey, on Flickr
(Had to borrow this off Flickr as I can't find my Cambria photos)

Our plan is to conquer three of the seven canyons that comprise Copper Canyon (four times larger than the Grand Canyon in area). This essentially means dropping into one canyon, then climbing back out the other side and cross the intervening mesa before dropping into the next canyon. The roads can be challenging and I think it would be difficult to traverse with a 4 wheel drive in areas.. Having never ridden with the other guys there is always the question as to how our riding abilities differ and if our personalities will mesh. I knew I would be the rookie rider of the bunch and hoped not to be a hindrance the group.

As the date got closer I acquired my Temporary Vehicle Import paper (, $200 deposit, refundable on exit from Mexico), Mexico Liabilty Insurance (1 yr insurance on my drivers license about $89), Medivac Insurance, $89/yr), prepared a tactical wallet (expired license and credit cards, etc), ordered up some Wolfman Expedition soft panniers (turned out to be a great purchase), hard bags would not survive this kind of trip and would be a danger for leg entrapment. Downloaded a Copper Canyon map for the Garmin, loaded all my music on my smartphone and linked the GPS and phone to a Sena SMH10 headset. Music was good for passing time on the long freeway stretches. Got a international calling card, put a new Tourance on the rear and kept my Shinko 705 up front. Packed and repacked a couple of times, eliminating items each time until I got down to a minimum. Got rid of all cotton clothes and went with synthetics which are lightweight and easily hand washed on the road.

Essentials fit in the tankbag, clothing, shoes, and toiletries in the left pannier, extras in the right pannier (first aid kit, water filter, survival knife, sleeping bag liner, tubes) and a toolbag on the tailrack.

Monday, the day before departure. Went to work, didnít feel to good and left early with a fever. Get in to see the doctor and he confirms virus and lingering bronchitis. :waysad Loads me up with inhalers, Cipro (for travellers diarrhea), and wishes me luck!

pluric 03-27-2012 02:32 PM

One of my favorite trips. Between Baja and Copper Canyon I've never had an incident of
any type where I needed the false documents or expired credit cards. Once away from
the border towns it was fantastic. People are great and the riding so memorable.

I'm jealous. Have a safe ride.

GB 03-27-2012 04:03 PM

Thanks for the intro... sounds like a great adventure ahead.. Good luck :thumb

GoinPostal 03-27-2012 04:26 PM


Originally Posted by GB (Post 18318538)
Thanks for the intro... sounds like a great adventure ahead.. Good luck :thumb

I'll second that. Looking forward to this...

chabon 03-27-2012 04:32 PM

D-Day (?)
D-Day. I canít get out of bed, eyes look like red coals, fever, coughing. This is not good. Nothing to do but stay in bed and hope for a quick recovery.

I was planning on taking the long way to Yuma, our meeting place, and take two days to get there. Now if I feel better tomorrow I will have to do it in one shot, 400 miles. Not bad if you feel okay, not sure how this will go in my condition....
I can give you a little background about my bike. It is a Ď97 F650 Classic, 52000 miles. I bought it with 21000 miles on it. Removed the lowering links and got it back to stock height.

Pretty much stock with some farkles such as:
7.7 gallon Acerbis fuel tank
Happy Trails pannier racks
Wolfman expedition panniers
Heated grips (Oxford)
Giant Loop tankbag
Bill Mayer seat
Bi-Xenon headlamp
LED running lights
Garmin 2820 Streetpilot GPS
SPOT Satellite Tracker
Ducati mirrors

Sorry, ride report is getting off to a slow start. Hope to have some miles down tomorrow, your going to have to wait and see.

hansi 03-27-2012 04:34 PM


GoinPostal 03-27-2012 07:24 PM

Stay in Bed
You won't do anyone, especially yourself, riding if you're sick. I've met and ridden with lots of ADV'rs and they are good people. I'm sure they'll hold off for one day so you have a chance to recover. If not, meet up with them on the road, Take care of yourself

RAM 03-27-2012 07:48 PM

The start is tough, but we look forward to a good ending. Are you from Hollywood?:clap

calimusjohn 03-27-2012 09:06 PM

Riding Sick?
Riding Sick is the absolute pits. Take whatever time it takes and then ride well. Copper Canyon will still be there. Riders in Mexico are treated like royalty now that the State Department has scared off most of the touristas in cars and Motorhomes. I have totally enjoyed my last two months wandering in Baja and on the mainland.

chabon 03-27-2012 09:31 PM

Wow, thanks for all the well wishes. I will have to play it by ear and see how I am in the morning.

Not Hollywood, Not even a writer. First ride report, Who knows, maybe it will be on the Lifetime Channel someday

Bgunn 03-28-2012 12:34 AM

Chuck Norris approved
Always fun south of the border ! Like a gypsy with a crystal ball, this should be a adventure...:lurk

chabon 03-28-2012 05:52 PM

Carpinteria to Yuma
Pre-stage, Carpinteria to Yuma, 400 Miles
D-Day +1. Things not looking good this morning. Still have fever. Stay in bed until 1000 and decide this is it, I have to leave now or scratch the trip. Scratching was not an option. Call Burt and let him know I am going to try and get there in one day. If not, worst case we might have to delay by one day. Pack the last remaining items, go to fill up at gas station and while paying notice the 5-Hour Energy Drinks. Never tried one, could sure use some energy, if one is good, two is better, right? Turn on the tunes and hit the road. Needed a motivational song to get me going...

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Just kind of put myself in the zone and went into autopilot. First stop is at Salton City, 275 miles, ate a Payday candy bar, my first ‘real’ food in a couple days.
Saw this sign for a beach. Is there actually a beach at the Salton Sea? Might have to check this out some other day.

I pondered one of the hot dogs on that little cooker that just keeps rolling them round and round, you’ve seen ‘em. Closer examination and a brief moment of mental clarity allowed me to get a good look at the little rancid rolling dogs and I had a change of heart.

You think there is an expiration date on hot dogs, i doubt it?

Here’s a stock image of the Golf Pro Shop in Salton City. Looks like the tweekers got to it! Can't imagine a golf course here, I saw no grass.
In fact this whole area seems like the spot where the soul got sucked out of the earth, or perhaps a war that was never
on the news???

Filled up at the AM/PM and push the last 125 miles to Yuma. Couple of strange drugged out dudes in the parking lot. Don't really want to take my eyes off the bike so fill up run in and pay and get out of Dodge.

Got to Burt's place 20 minutes after dark, not bad. I think I am running on adrenaline (or is that the 5-hour drink) and anticipation of the trip. Burt and I chat for a little while, I down 5 or 6 glasses of water and off to bed for me. Burt has a trailer on his property for guests. Many ‘famous’ travellers have slept here, you know who you are. Fever is still hovering at 102, as soon as I laid down my eyes were wide open and I was gritting my jaw (I was actually laying there composing a letter to the 5-Hour Energy company in my mind, I never put pen to paper). I think the 5-hour thing is an estimate, its now 10 hours and I feel like a ping pong ball. Has anyone ever done a research paper on the colon cleaning properties of 5-Hour Energy drink? Very effective, probably enhanced by the fact I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days.

A lot of freeway and desert today. Hard to get good photos of the desert while riding, just doesn’t do it justice. You guys in the southwest know what it's like, the open expanses, the pale blue sky, the quiet. Guess I should have tried to get some shots for people that don’t get a chance to ride in the desert, but hell, I was lucky to be getting down the mileage as it was.

Tomorrow we enter Mexico
Except we are going the other direction! :nod

chabon 03-29-2012 06:26 PM

Stage 1, The point of no return.
Stage 1 - Yuma, Arizona to Santa Ana, Mexico. 307 miles.
Dead Bodies-0, Kidnapping attempts-0 Link to google map of todays route.

Oh boy, this is it.

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What’s this? An earthquake! This can’t be happening. Oh wait, it’s just Burt shaking the sh*& out of the trailer. Look at my watch and its 0600. Then realize I am in different time zone, 0700, time to get going. Burt had whipped up some scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee. First thing I notice is the eggs have a different taste. Figure Burt must have some secret recipe. Turns out he accidentally used the French vanilla flavored cream instead of milk in the eggs. Didn’t matter, we ate them all. The rest of the gang assembled around 0900.

The Team:
Burt (Mi Vale Madre on advrider) Yamaha WR250
Mike (Shortcutsmc on advrider) ‘93 KLR650
Myself (Chabon on advrider and f650) ‘97 BMW F650
Brad (BGunn on advrider and f650, Burt’s son) Yamaha WR250
IMGP0894 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr
IMGP0898 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Ages ranged from 51 to 80, yes 80! The cumulative age is 259 years, that's 1813 dog years! (Did you know that in the year 1813 Captain John Lawrence utters the Navy motto "Don't give up the ship". I think this a sign or an omen, this will be my mantra for the trip.....”Don’t give up the ship!”). The above roster would turn out to be our riding order for most of the trip. We have an uneventful ride to the border crossing at San Luis Rio Colorado. Went past a big prison on the way to the border, and no, I didn’t pick up any hitchhikers.

Everybody else has all their papers, I just need my tourist paper, takes 15 minutes and $22. Go to the Bank and get some pesos ($30 bank fee, thanks B of A) and we’re off and headed east along the border on Mex Highway 2. We have entered the land of pointy boots! Not sure how to pack a pair if I find some my size, but I got to at least try a pair on.

Interesting to see the border, border patrol, lookout towers, barriers and fences, helicopters, your tax dollars at work. There’s miles and miles of barrier like this to prevent people from just driving off Highway to directly into Arizona. I think a dualsport would be the way to go!

There is a line of truck of trucks waiting to go north through a checkpoint. The line was miles long, I suspect it might take a couple days to get to the front of the line. (The people they be partyin' they tradin' wives n' Cadillacs n' diamonds they drinkin' booze n' havin' all sorts of party fun - these lyrics were playin’ on the headset as we cruised along - Jamie Brockett and the Titanic song). Vendors were selling food (and what ever) to the drivers.

Looked something like this...

The other guys have a range of about 150 miles, I can make 300 so only need to fill up every other stop. I get my first Mexican gas (Magna at Pemex).

About $3/gallon and without all the California additives. As I am passing the nozzle back to the attendant it rotates and pinches my finger right at the edge of the fingernail, ouch, this will become a nuisance in the days to come.

You get the idea.

They don’t put warning signs on things in Mexico. Your responsible for your own safety!!

Stop to eat in Sonoyta. Mikes wife Kay had made some great burritos! The hot sauce really put the finishing touch on them. Thanks Mike and Kay. Brads not in the photo because he is inside Subway, having his last vegetables(?) or so he says (think he had ham and bacon, but in Spain and Argentina those are considered vegetables). We ponder whether or not this will be our exit point on the way home. Smaller border crossing and a little different route.
IMGP0905 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Mike and Burt brought new tires with them. Figured their old knobbies would be due for a change in Creel.
IMGP0899 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Nice new highway.
IMGP0900 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Don’t recall anything to memorable about this part of the drive, nice roads (better condition than California highways), nice desert scenery,a checkpoint or two, no problems, maybe a toll road and time to reflect on things to come.

Made Santa Ana by late afternoon and get our hotel room. I think it cost about $12 each as we shared rooms. This is the Hotel Villa Santana. A little construction along the sidewalk, putting in new fiber optic inter-duct. I don’t think they have anything like OSHA here, remember, you are responsible!
IMGP0907 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

A little adult beverage for the boys and story telling.
IMGP0912 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

The place filled up later this evening.
IMGP0910 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

The bartender at the ‘vintage’ lavatory or shall we say 'laboratory'? At least he used DIET coke so it was more healthy :D
IMGP0915 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Mike has a tip for packing light, bring a bottle of grain alcohol, it has a high alcohol to volume ratio, packs a punch, can be used medicinally, strips paint, and I suspect you could use it s starting fluid if you needed to! I was thinking about sticking my sore finger in it, but figured Mike might notice.

Took me a couple minutes to figure this out, there was a small red rubber mat over the floor drains in the bathroom.
IMGP1208 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr
Once I removed them to take a shower I realized that they were there to keep the sewer gas at bay. I guess this is a substitute for a ‘P’ trap. Hmm, looked cleaner in person, I guess the flash shows thing a little better, no problema. And they use SLICK tile for the floors, again, your responsible for your own safety. I know it looks like flagstone shower floor, but its tiles.

Walked up to the corner and had our first meal in Mexico, pollo asado. This is before they cook it, I think the refrigerator was plugged in, not sure though.
IMGP0916 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr
IMGP0918 by DDMcGinnis, on Flickr

Hotel was fine, desk clerk turned on the hot water heater for us and gave us remote for the TV. Our TV didn’t work, no problem. Burt and Brad’s worked, Brad said he was watching FOX news, I think he was probably watching spanish soap operas. Title of show is a bit omanious, don't you think???

Oh, I plan to keep a tally of dead bodies and kidnap attempts. Hoping the numbers stay low, but we will see. So far so good. Day one and I am stoked! Can't wait for tomorrow to come. Still have the pesky fever, I wrap my finger in a bandaid and need to get to bed... it's only 8:30.

eakins 03-29-2012 06:38 PM

let me guess complete noobs to mexico?
have fun and no you will not die.
that's only for people who watch fox news.

chabon 03-29-2012 06:50 PM


Originally Posted by eakins (Post 18336366)
let me guess complete noobs to mexico?
have fun and no you will not die.
that's only for people who watch fox news.

I'm the noob! Other guys have spent time in Mexico. They assure me I will not die, at least not at the hands of others. A weekend ride for Burt is a quick trip to Mazatlan and back to Yuma......

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