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Old 11-23-2012, 07:50 AM   #3
nailit2em OP
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Joined: Jan 2007
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Copper Canyon!

The next morning I got up around 7. It was nice to sleep in after the last two early days on this trip. I stepped out to see frost on our bikes. I was hoping to not have any more cold mornings on this trip. I was in Mexico after all and everybody knows it’s hot in Mexico. I looked over towards Julio and Luisa’s room and did not see any lights on so I made my way up the street towards the Centro where the restaurants were that we had eaten at the day before. It was a crisp morning and all of the school kids were walking the opposite direction as me to school. They were all dressed in their matching uniforms, maroon pants and white polo shirts. Just like back home some looked happy about going to school and others didn’t. I also got a little different feeling from the people in this town while I was walking around. They were not rude at all but they were not as friendly as many of the other towns and cities I had visited in Mexico. They rarely made eye contact with me or smiled. I also noticed this with many of the store owners and clerks during my visit. I continued up the street and took a few pictures and then made my way to the restaurant we had eaten lunch at the day before. I had checked the other restaurant but I did not see Julio there. I thought Julio said that if he was not in his room he would be eating where we had lunch but I wanted to check both places before I went in. A few minutes after I sat down Julio joined me for breakfast and said he had looked for me at the other restaurant. I guess great minds think alike. He said that he liked the other place better for breakfast but this place was good too. We talked about many more things and discussed the plans for the day. Julio is a very generous man and would not let me pay for any of my meals the first day. This is a common theme with Julio so when he got up to use the restroom I quickly got up and went into the kitchen to find the waitress so I could pay the bill. I almost had it paid by the time he came back. He tried to pay for it but it was too late! I had already given her the money! We walked back to the hotel after breakfast and took our time getting around too let it warm up a little before we left. Luisa stayed behind for the day to get some things done and relax. Our first stop was at the Pemex just outside of town. At least once on all of my motorcycle trips I will overfill or splash fuel all over my tank. This was that time! After gassing up Julio told me to lead the way and if I wanted to stop and take some pictures he would just pull in behind me since he had spent a lot of time in this area and had already taken several pictures. We were now ready to head off towards Barrancas Del Cobre! The road out of town was just as scenic and fun to ride as the road I took into town. I now had an unloaded bike that I could really enjoy taking corners on. The road was good but I quickly realized that the GS handles the Mexican roads much better. It wasn’t that the Harley was any less fun but it did not absorb the “small” flaws in the road as well as the GS. On one of the corners I even laid the bike over far enough to scrape the pipes on the pavement. I made it a few miles out of town before I stopped to take my first pictures. The view of the canyon was amazing! Julio told me that he was going to take me to the “small” canyon first so that I would enjoy it and not be spoiled after seeing the big one. I thought what I was looking at was the big one! Man was I wrong! I also told Julio that I forgot to warn him about following me. It’s kind of loud behind my Harley. In his RR he mentioned that there was something different about this visit to Copper Canyon but he couldn’t figure out. I think I figured it out. It was probably him following me and listening to my loud f’ing pipes that changed it. Haha. After taking a few picture at this stop we continued on down the road a short distance. I had to pull over again as we started to go down into a small canyon to take some more pictures. I also removed my GPS from the Ram mount on my handle bars and replaced it with my digital camera so that I could take pictures on the fly as well as video of the road. Once we were back on the road it wasn’t far before Julio took a side road that led to the “small” canyon. He warned me ahead of time that it was not paved. He even asked me if I would have to wash my bike right after since it was a Harley. He likes giving me a hard time about riding a Harley when I have a perfectly good GS in my garage! I told him I am not a typical Harley rider. My bike gets dirty and it goes off road. Come to think of it I’ve been home now for over two weeks and it still hasn’t been washed! Now that we were off the pavement now I did have to pay a little more attention to the rocks on the road leading to the canyon. I was also following Julio at this point and he kicked up a good amount of dust. I really didn’t pay much attention to the surroundings only what was directly in front of me. Once we got to the edge of the canyon I was immediately blown away by how large it was! I thought to myself, this is the small one! We parked a little ways from the edge and as we walked closer it just kept getting bigger and even more amazing. I took several pictures but none of them came close to truly depicting the depth and size of this canyon. While we were there Julio said that the road we rode in on was actually an illegal air strip used by the cartels at one time. The military came in and put large rocks all along the runway to prevent planes from landing anymore. He also said this area was known for strange rock formations. I remembered this in his ride report and asked him about a few pictures that I remembered. He said our next stop was going to be at one of those strange formations near the railroad. On the way back out to the highway I paid a little more attention to the road/airstrip and the surroundings. It would have been one hell of a landing or takeoff even without the big rocks in the way! Once we were back on the main highway we continued a short distance and stopped near a train crossing. We had crossed the tracks several times so far but this one in particular had a very large distinctive looking rock formation. Let’s just say Viagra could use it in their commercials. At the rail crossing there were several native Indians selling their wares. The train stops here a couple of times a day so that people on the train can take pictures of the rock formations. The Indians try to sell their stuff to those people when the train stops. I believe Julio said they were the Tarahumara Indians. They are nomadic and move throughout the canyons depending on the time of year to avoid the heat. They are also known as very fast long distance runners. I did a little research when I got home and found one documentary that said the Tarahumara routinely run over 100 miles at a time and the longest recorded run was 435 miles in just over 48 hours! They also do this without shoes or makeshift sandals! It always amazes me how much Julio knows about the cultures and history of the places he visits. After our short stop along the train tracks I continued to lead the way through the twisting mountainous road. As I was riding along I took some more pictures and videos of the route. I was really wishing I had a GoPro at this point because it was an amazing ride! I came around a corner and saw some buildings and a train depot off to my left and thought that it looked like a place we would stop but Julio never passed me so I kept going. After I made it around the corner where the turn off was to the train depot I checked in my mirror and Julio was not behind me. My first thought was something had happened to him. I made a quick U-turn and saw him waiting for me at the turn to go to where the buildings and train depot was. As it turned out this was our main destination for the day, Barrancas Del Cobre! We went a short distance to a toll booth to get into the park. We then continued on a little ways further and turned onto another gravel road that led further into the park. We rode past several places along this gravel/sand road that looked amazing and thought we would be stopping. When we stopped at another small checkpoint to show another guy our passes Julio said we would stop at some of the places we rode past on the way back. We then followed a single lane paved trail a little further. When we reached the end of the paved trail I saw several huts with more of the native Indians selling more stuff. There were not many people around when we got off our bikes but a short walk later I realized that this was “the place”. Julio was right about the “small” canyon we stopped at earlier. It had nothing on what I was now looking at! The view of this enormous canyon was like nothing I had ever seen before. I have seen the Grand Canyon and was/ still very impressed with it but this was on a whole other scale! It was almost hard to gauge how large the canyon was by just standing there. No amount of pictures could come close to portraying the view and beauty of this canyon! We were the only tourist there at that time. We did see a few more people later but no more than ten other people total. Julio asked me how this compared to the Grand Canyon. I told him I was much more impressed not only with the view but the fact we could simply enjoy it without all the people around. As we walked further along the railing in the “tourist” area looking over the sheer cliffs we made our way towards a brand new looking gondola or teleferico. Julio said that this new gondola cost millions to build. It was very impressive but there was no one around to use it. It may have been the slow season or just the fact it was a week day I don’t know but I saw nothing to indicate that the tourism in this area could support such a massive cable system in this area. I had the feeling that it was like a classic movie filmed in Iowa…If you build it they will come. According to a quick search about this project it cost 29.4 million USD to complete. This gondola is the highest areal ropeway system in the world. The cabins on the cable are 1475 feet (450 meters) above the ground at the highest point! We did not ride the gondola but maybe on a return visit I’ll have to do it. We also saw a zip line that led along the canyon rim. Again it looked like fun but we did not do it. After walking around I also soon realized that I was over dressed! The temperature had risen to the mid to upper 60’s F and it was turning out to be a very nice day. Julio said that there were several more places to stop on the way out so we rode back a little ways and stopped at a hiking trail that was barricaded so we could not take the bikes past the trail entrance. We took a short hike and ended up back on the canyon edge. The edge had no rails or sidewalks giving it a natural feel of how it has been viewed for thousands of years! This view was just as impressive and unique as the last! We could see an Indian home down in the canyon with a goat and a small corn field next to it. There was also an area not too far from the home with thick green trees and vegetation. It was clear there was much more water in that are because the other areas were brown and dry looking. It made sense that the Indians would build near water. Much like many parts of the US last year this area was in bad need of rain. Many of the native Indians died because of the drought. We enjoyed the view for a while and I tried to absorb as much of the beauty as I could. It was very tranquil and surreal! We then made our way back to the bikes. We kind of got a little disoriented going through the pine trees but we were able to find our way back to the bikes. We then made another stop where Julio had to show the second man our tickets. At this stop there was a platform that went out over the edge about 20-30 feet with mesh steel on the floor so you could look down to the bottom of the canyon. Julio and I had no problems with going out onto it and looking at the views but while we were there an older couple arrived and the woman DID NOT want to go out onto the platform. She was finally convinced to go out on it by her husband. They tried to take a picture of themselves with the canyon in the background when Julio offered to take their picture. Julio and the gentleman had a good conversation and he also noticed my license plate and asked me where I was from. A few minutes later a young couple in their early 20’s walked to the platform. Again the young lady wanted nothing to do with the platform. This time she was just pushed and forced out onto the platform in a playful manner by her boyfriend. Once she was out there she had a good time and was laughing about it and taking pictures. We then made our way back out to the main gravel road. Well at least I thought it was a road. We drove to the end and took some more pictures of the canyon and Julio told me that the gravel road was the airport! Yeah the runway ended at the canyon drop off! I’m not sure that I would want to fly into that airport. Our last stop was at the hotel that Julio and Luisa stayed at on their way north. It had an amazing view of the canyon and was very nice. Very expensive as well! At this point Julio and I were both getting a little hungry and it was about 30 miles back to Creel so we decided to head back and grab some lunch. Julio led the way back this time. I think he was tired of listening to my loud ass pipes! Haha. It did give me a chance to get some pictures and video of Julio riding on the twisting mountain road though.

Once we were back at the Hotel we saw several bikes parked outside the main office of the Best Western with Jalisco, Mexico license plates on them. There were three GS’s like the ones Julio and I have, a couple of new 800 GS bikes and a Honda ST. They were all much cleaner than our bikes and had all of the expensive gear on them! After we gave the bikes the once over we went to our rooms but our keys would not work so we went to the office to get the keys fixed. When we got to the office we saw Luisa there talking with the guys on the bikes. Her key quit working as well. Julio had a good conversation with the guys and asked them about getting tires for his bike. The tires he had on his bike were ones that I had suggested to him but did not work out as well on his trip as they did on my trip last year. I really hate it when I try to help friends by giving them my opinion/advice on something and it does not work out. This was definitely one of those times! He had put some Heidenau K-76’s on after I recommended them to him. He had only put about 5,000 miles on them and they were looking pretty worn out. I used the same model of tire the year before and got almost 9,000 miles out of them before I took them off. The tires I had used looked better than the ones on his bike after putting 9,000 miles on them. Makes you wonder about tire companies and the materials they use when making their tires. The guys from Jilasco could only suggest a Honda place in Chihuahua for tires but that was in the wrong direction for Julio. After we got our keys fixed we then headed back to the same place we had lunch at the day before. This time I ordered something different and Julio and Luisa ordered what we had the day before. This time it worked out a little better for all of our appetites. It was another great meal and conversation with Julio and Luisa. It’s hard to really put my finger on what I enjoyed the most about talking with Julio and Luisa. They are both very generous people and love sharing their experiences with others. They are very knowledgeable about life in general and have a unique perspective on how to approach this game we call life. One of the big things that made talking with them enjoyable was our different backgrounds and where we have been in our lives. You can’t get much more different than an Iowa farm boy who now lives in the “big city” of Kansas City and an Austrian/Guatemalan couple who live in Central America. This unique combination gives a different perspective on things that I take for granted every day. Luisa also has a thirst for knowledge that is very refreshing. She had questions about everything from the minor details of an English sentence structure, like I’m the one who should be giving lessons on that but anyway, to asking questions about my job as a police officer and comparing it to what she has seen on TV. We even talked Politics since Election Day was the next day. I’m not one to talk politics but talking with Julio and Luisa also gave me some insight to how our political agenda in the U.S. affects people outside of our country. After we ate we walked around and did some shopping along the main street our hotel was on. We stopped into an art studio/tourist information/moped rental shop that had some pictures of the area hanging on the wall. Julio showed me a picture of the road he had ridden down to the bottom of Copper Canyon the first time they were here. I really wanted to ride that road but one I’m not sure how long it would have taken on the Harley. The Harley would have made it…I’m just crazy enough to have done it! But the road was closed because they were paving it. This was a disappointment because it is one of the more challenging roads to ride in this region. So I’ve been told. I asked Julio to compare it to riding the White Rim road in Moab since we had both ridden that road. I did the White Rim road in 2010 two up my wife on the GS. He said the road in Copper Canyon was much more difficult. We had a nice talk with a guy at the studio, well I listened anyway. Again that 2 year old Spanish level kind of hinders my communication abilities. We then went back to the room. Julio caught up on his ride report and pictures. I gave him the pictures and videos that I had taken that day to add to his collection. I then walked back to one of the shops I had stopped at earlier and got a few souvenirs for the family while Julio was getting the computer stuff done. It was then time for a little afternoon siesta. A few hours later the three of us walked back up to the other restaurant we had eaten at the night before for dinner. Another great meal and I think we were just a few minute away from being asked to leave because we had sat there so long talking. After a short walk back to the room it was time to pack things up for the next day. We were heading to Hidalgo Del Parral then next morning.
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