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Old 03-26-2007, 06:35 PM   #16
Commuter Boy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remarksman

We ate lunch in Ascension at El Dorado. Our first taste of authentic Mexican cuisine on the trip, and Tony would claim that they had the best salsa of any meal for the whole trip.
Isn't Tony a vegetarian? I'm hoping he got more than salsa on this trip
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:48 PM   #17
Remarksman
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Juan Mata Ortiz

We still had several hours of daylight after we had unloaded the bikes, so we headed over to the small town of Juan Mata Ortiz. This otherwise unremarkable little village has become famous for its pottery. The locals emulate the designs of the indians that inhabited the area long ago, and the pottery arts have become highly refined here.

("DEMOSTRATION" is a big word, and difficult to spell correctly )

Apparently, one of the local residents discovered a cave which contained several whole pots as a teenager 40 or 50 years ago. Before then, only pottery shards had been found. Inspired by his discovery, the young man began experimenting with clay and firing to try to emulate the pots he discovered. However, no-one in the village knew what the actual method of clay mixing details and firing, so it took him many years to finally make pots that held together. Eventually he discovered the formula, and he began making better and better pots. He taught his sons and some other people in the village, and eventually the village has become famous for its pots.

After admiring the pots, Gustavo decided the old train station was a piece of art itself, and he was determined to get a picture of the bikes in front of the station. Because of the late afternoon light, we had to ride the bikes up onto the platform to get the picture.

I think we surprised a few people by riding up there, but the train station was a cool color
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Old 03-26-2007, 07:02 PM   #18
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Time to get on the road!

Unloaded, parked the truck, got all the gear sorted and repacked again...

Here I'd like to note that much to Tony's lament, my V-Strom which had been sitting under that carport since the first week in January started as soon as I hit the starter button for the first time , unlike his trailer queen...


Ready to go:



The adventure starts here:



Brian and Tony enjoying NM sun:



This sign is pretty scary. I mean, who knows what happens once you leave the US of A and enter the Outer Darkness. Kinda makes you want to turn around and cancel the whole trip. OK, not really.




They don't look scared, do they?


There was nobody at the immigration line and only one unfinished ITV permit Brian had to wait for (Tony didn't even have to wait). I don't think we spent 20 minutes total there and we were in Mexico.

Unfortunately, we were in northern Mexico. That means long stretches of straight roads that would fit right in in the Lonely Highway thread. Hwy 2 along the Mexico-US border is one fine example of a lonely road.

Highway 2 to Janos:



Tony starting to get a feel for Mexican roads:



We stopped in Ascencion for lunch. After a couple of aborted attempts we found a place that could accommodate our vegetarian adventurer ("What do you mean he doesn't eat meat? What's wrong with him? Beans don't have meat" No, but often they are refried with lard... ).

Tony said this place made the best salsa we had in the two week in Mexico (he even looks happy, and that is before the food arrived ):



The ride to Nuevo Casas Grandes was almost uneventful. Almost, because not long after we passed Janos (and it's Pemex) I realized the 950 had gone into reserve. Great. I trade bikes with Tony and I am going to run his bike dry.

Luckily, we were prepared. Just before the customs inspection we pulled over, got the siphon hoses out and transferred some gas from Brian's Wee-Strom to the 950. It didn't take much to get the reserve light/counter to stop flashing. We went through the inspection (where they actually checked the paperwork against our names and bike's VIN) and continued on our way to Nuevo Casas Grandes.

We stayed at Hotel Piñon in NCG:



The idea was to make the first destination an easy ride and then use the remaining time to explore around Nuevo Casas Grandes. I had not been to Mata Ortiz where some of Mexico's finest pottery is made, so that was the destination for the afternoon. Mata Ortiz is supposed to be at the end of a dusty, bumpy dirt road.

As Tony and Brian observed, this has to be the best dirt road they had ever ridden:



Yup, you guessed it. I wasn't lost, it's no longer dirt. %&$#@! progress! Pretty soon you will be dodging blue hairs on what used to be adventure bike territory throughout Mexico.

Tony and his orange beast:



The town of Mata Ortiz is still fairly undeveloped, the galleries have beautiful hand crafted pottery and it all looks really appealing until you realize the prices are listed in US$ not Mexican Pesos...





Local in Mata Ortiz:



Mata Ortiz' train station:



OK, so the road to Mata Ortiz is no longer dirt, we needed to find some dirt. Any dirt. We headed out of Mata Ortiz to Cueva de la Olla, where the original pottery that revived the Paquime style in Mata Ortiz was found by Juan Quezada.

Tony on the road to Cueva de la Olla:






The road is actually very easy on a decent (or semi-decent like the V-Strom ) adventure bike. Unfortunately, we didn't make it all the way to the cave, we were running out of daylight, and it was time to turn around about 10 kms short of the cave.




We rode back to Nuevo Casas Grandes, getting into town just as it was getting dark. Found an ATM (I have been "financing" the trip so far, since Brian and Tony didn't have a chance to get any pesos, we needed to put an end to this freeloading... ) and went back to the hotel. After several attempts to find dinner, we settled in at Constantino's for dinner (we should have gone there first, it's close to the hotel and looked like a simple but nice place to have dinner, but we walked a bit around town anyway)

Constantino:


And that was it for our first day in Mexico.

Gustavo

Gustavo screwed with this post 03-27-2007 at 10:57 AM
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Old 03-26-2007, 07:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Commuter Boy
Isn't Tony a vegetarian? I'm hoping he got more than salsa on this trip
He is. It wasn't always trivial to find him food options that weren't quesadillas or chips and salsa. I think we did OK most of the time.

Gustavo
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Old 03-26-2007, 07:50 PM   #20
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Road to Cueva del la Olla

As Gustavo mentioned, on the way back from Mata Ortiz, we tried to go up and see the cave where the boy discovered the pots long ago. The road has a clear sign from the highway, but no indication of how far it is.
We blasted over the flat part of the valley, then started to climb up into the hills.


After a couple miles, we found this shrine beside the road.


I was surprised to find a candle burning in the shrine, since we had seen no sign of traffic, and this is pretty remote.
The road continues to climb out of the valley, and offers some great views.

And some fun dirt road riding

Eventually we started running out of light, and we didn't want to be riding back down this thing in the dark. A truck with some ranchers came by and told us it was still 5 miles or so to the cave, and we were already 14 miles into this road. We turned around.
We were riding in the shade, but the sun was still up on the other side of the valley.

We made it back to Nuevo Casas Grandes just before dark.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:58 PM   #21
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Flat Tires

We got up and started getting ready and discovered that Gustavo's rear tire was flat. He said he thought it felt funny last night after we stopped at the ATM, but he thought maybe he was just sliding on gravel. So we planned that we would just pump his tire up and go find a tire repair shop. I rolled my bike to make more room for Gustavo to set up his mini air compressor. Funny, my bike is really hard to roll... Hey, my rear tire is almost flat, too! Great, a brand new set of Anakees with only 200 miles on them, and a flat already.
I get a chance to test my new Slime mini compressor -- it works great, what a nice gift that was from my family!
So, here we are parked at the local tire shop with 2 V-Stroms having their rear wheel repaired:

The bike rims didn't fit on the tire changing machine, but the guys at the shop had plenty of experience. With the wheel on the floor and a 2 foot tire iron and a 3 foot (!) crowbar, one bead of the tire was removed in a jiffy, and the two inch nail removed from my tire. Tire patch installed, and bead put back on, their Snap-On compressor set the beads in an instant -- much quicker than the couple of tries it took me to set the bead when I changed the tires. All for $5/tire.

Tires fixed, we returned to the hotel to wash up and finish packing up. Then we waved to the tire guys on the way out of town. I think they heard Tony's bike coming
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:18 PM   #22
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Onward to Basaseachi

We'd planned to get an early start, but the tire repairs set us back about 2 hours. We rode some more high desert roads. Today the wind was up a bit, generally coming from the west as we headed south.
We did have some fun going up and over a small mountain range on this road:


We attracted some attention from the locals in Ignacio Zaragoza where we stopped to get gas. There are lots of 125 and 250cc bikes in the towns, where they are used to deliver pizza and for commuting, but you don't see many "big bikes" out on the highways, and many people wondered what we were up to. Several people were surprised when we said we were on vacation -- surprised as in "Why would you ever come to this place on vacation?" Well, it's on the way to somewhere else

We had a big breakfast at the hotel, so we just had some snacks for lunch from an "Abarrotes" (mini-grocery) in Ignacio Allende. Two 1.5 liter water bottles, a couple of sodas, some cookies and chips, all for $4.40 -- try getting that deal at a Seven-11 in the States!


Looking south from the Abarrotes, things look a bit desolate:

Note the tope in the road -- at least there is a sign marking this one.
Note to self: do not attempt to drive a sportscar in Mexico. We saw some topes later that day that our car would probably balance perfectly on.

We crossed over another small range:


Finally we got down to Mexico 16 west of Cuauhtemoc, and headed west toward Basaseachi. This road was really fun as it wound up and down over ridges, first following one river or stream, then another. No pics of this part as we were starting to run low on daylight, and weren't sure how much longer the ride would take. We all really enjoyed this part of the ride, as the pavement is in excellent condition. The only down-side is that it is a major truck route, so we got a lot of practice passing slow-moving trucks.
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:44 PM   #23
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Rancho San Lorenzo

We arrived at Rancho San Lorenzo, near the Basaseachi Falls park, after 5, and the sun was setting by the time we'd settled in and had a chance to snap a picture. Our cabin is the far half of this "duplex":

Tony is still changing shoes and socks:


Several of the other cabins were occupied by a base-jumping club who were there to jump off the 3000 foot cliff in the nearby canyon. Here's the helicopter they use to get up to the top, with more cabins in the background:


As we walked up to the main lodge, Tony made a new friend:



We had a great dinner and conversation with Don Fernando, the owner of Rancho San Lorenzo and another set of cabins near Aguatechi. He is a real character. The food was great and the beers were cool (not refrigerated because their only power is solar or generator).
At 6,500 feet elevation, it cooled off quickly after dark. We had thought to bring flashlights, so made it back to the cabin with the only stumbling being because the stars looked so fantastic.
The Rancho staff had started a fire going in our fireplace while we ate, so the cabin was not too cold (yet). It did get truly cold later that night. I got up and managed to get the coals of the fire going again and added a couple more logs. It was pretty toasty right in front of the fireplace, but a drafty rock building with no insulation on the roof just doesn't get warm.
Fortunately the 3 beds each had 4 blankets.
We were awakened at 6AM by the base jumpers taking off in their helicopter. The massive draft sort of re-invigorated the fire in the fireplace, but we also finally figured out how to get the little gas heater going.


Outside there was frost on the bikes.


But the view from the front porch helped make up for the chill.


Back to the main lodge for some breakfast. Tony claims, believe it or not, to be happy this morning.

At least the view beyond his happy face is pleasant.
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:27 PM   #24
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Viva las maldivas

Who's in charge of the chronology of this thread. Fire him
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:29 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remarksman
Tony claims, believe it or not, to be happy this morning.
Alas you don't have a picture of what I looked like after 10 more days of being woken up by the 6am shower-man.
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:32 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazybrit
Alas you don't have a picture of what I looked like after 10 more days of being woken up by the 6am shower-man.
6 AM? I was trying to let you guys sleep in. I usually wake up at 5:30...


Gustavo
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:38 PM   #27
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavo
Last December I rode my bike to Valle de Bravo, Mexico, to meet my MotoAventuras buddies and celebrate the New Year with them. My plan was to leave the bike in NM and fly back in March to pick it up. March was chosen because at that time, MotoAventuras would have it's second annual meeting, this time in Creel. I figured I could fly in to El Paso, pick the V-Strom up, ride to Creel, spend the weekend there and then ride back to Oregon in somewhat nicer weather than I was looking at in January.

I had been asking Brian and Tony to join me on one of these trips to Mexico for a while, but it never worked out. But, it seemed like the stars were aligned for this trip, and they (Tony and Brian, not the stars) were making "I'm really going. No, really" sounds as the dates drew near.

We had a "planning" meeting at my place sometime in February. Planning loosely defined as me suggesting some destinations I thought we could reasonably make in the available time and Tony saying "yeah, whatever, I'll go anywhere as long as you keep the roads and destinations interesting" If only he really was that easy to please...

Tony was yet to pick up his new KTM 950 from San Diego, but I was hopeful that it will get here in time to do the first service and leave on the trip as planned. If everything worked out we'd lave on March 3rd.

It didn't. The carrier that was supposed to pick up the 950 in San Diego screwed up and didn't. Tony had to fly there a week later to ride the bike up. OK, maybe we can leave a week later?

So why trailer queens? I have never trailered my street bike when going on a trip. I always liked riding there, even if it implied riding from/to Portland in November, December or January. But, given the limited time we had, it seemed to make sense to truck the bikes, so that we could get to NM and back regardless of weather or make up for any delays by driving later at night.

So finally, on March 10th we had the trailer queens loaded and ready to go.



Gustavo
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:43 PM   #28
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:54 PM   #29
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Cascada de Basaseachi

After breakfast we hiked up the road about half a mile to the Cascada de Basaseachi National Park.


There is an overlook very close to the parking lot, and while we were there, the base jumper's helicopter came up out of the canyon. It made it clear just how big this canyon is. (click here for full-size pic)


The falls are 246 meters high, about 750 feet. We all wished there was an easy way to see the 1000 meter cliff that the base jumpers were using.

We hiked a ways down into the canyon to get a different view of the falls.


On the way back, we saw this to remind us that it is springtime:
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:57 PM   #30
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Nuevo Casas Grandes to Basaseachic

Like Brian mentioned, on Tuesday (the 13th ) I had a flat tire. It turned out that so did he (it's not a bad luck day for nothing, and you guys thought you had to worry about Friday the 13th... ). Well, if we had to have a flat tire on this trip, finding out you have one in Nuevo Casas Grandes is actually a good thing. It took less than 10 minutes to locate a volcnizadora that would fix both tires.

Tony helping Brian with his tire:



Here is mine:



This is why you need a center stand:



After that short delay, we were back on the road, headed to Buenaventura:



The hills SE of Buenaventura provide some entertainment:



The scenery becomes more and more interesting:



We got gas at Ignacio Zaragoza (no premium for the KTM). While we were taking a break several locals approached and started chatting with us. There was one guy that said he works in Phoenix 6 months a year, another that worked for Human Rights - he said there was a lot of work to be done in the area...). We continued on to Ignacio Allende, where we stopped to buy more water and some snacks. Tony was amazed at the prices, and especially that the store owner didn't see the need to give us the "special" tourist pricing.

Abarrotes Mora:



Once you get past La Concha, the road to La Junta runs in these high planes near Temosachic:



Temosachic is one of the coldest places in Mexico, it's also where Arturo and Eloisa spent the first years of their teaching careers:



Tony was complaining that the roads were not particularly interesting so far. At Ciudad Guerrero we turned south, took the shortcut to MEX-16 and turned west towards Basaseachic.

He wasn't complaining much after this:



Taking a well deserved break from MEX-16:



We found Rancho San Lorenzo easily, and got a cabin at the edge of the property:



Ranch San Lorenzo has a volleyball court that is strewn with softball sized rocks. I wouldn't dive to save a point on this court...



Tony made a new friend:




The main room/dinning room at Rancho San Lorenzo:



The cabins are pretty rustic, but very comfortable:





Gustavo
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