Days 13-End: wrapping up

Regarding Montezuma’s Revenge – it did continue through the rest of the trip, but was fairly mild (no fever). It finally subsided 6 days after arriving home, lasting nearly two weeks, which means it was either dysentery, or I was repeatedly exposed to e.coli or norwalk. *shrug* Update: apparently I’m confused. e.coli can cause dysentery – a generic term. I read something that implied it was its own thing.. whatever :) Anyway, I did the final trip from Creel to the US border in one day, taking small remote roads all the way up. That reminds me, you can see the exact route I took, here: http://www.findmespot.com/spotadventures/index.php/view_adventure?tripid=323331 And download the gpx file: here.

Here is a preview  :)

mexico-trip-overview-map

As you can see, I didn’t take the most direct route home, when I entered the US. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

What I wanted to start off saying, was, “I’m sure going to miss these signs:”

I re-entered via Douglas, AZ after negotiating the confusing roads to the US border. It was damn hot, 106˚ in that area. Apparently, I didn’t get enough heat though. I buzzed up to Tuscon and stayed the night at a hotel.

It was there, I opened my top case and found an empty water bottle next to my laptop bag. I thought “WTF, I thought this was full… ohshit.” The thin walled recycled plastic water bottle had cracked on the bottom, emptying the contents of the bottle into my case. At first, I thought I was safe, and that a paperback book soaked up all the water, sparing my laptop. Sure enough, the laptop felt dry. I turned it on, and it worked! For 15 minutes, anyway. Then was a faint “pop” and the smell of burning electronics, as it turned itself off. I called the SF Apple store and made an appointment for Sunday, as I’d be home by Saturday. (fast-forward: they replaced the motherboard and I/O board, and it’s back to normal now :)

Anyway, having acclimated myself thoroughly to desert conditions, I decided I may as well take the scenic route home. I headed North to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon the next day.

At the main visitor center, there was a tasty looking cow elk grazing near the parking lot. I was apparently the only person to notice, as everyone else was just driving by focused on getting to the canyon.

I saw the canyon:

My bike seemed apathetic about the whole experience:

So we headed East and North, around the canyon, heading toward Utah:

It was warm:

But, pretty!

With abundant twisties and endless skies:

I made it to Fredonia, AZ and stopped for the night, at a family-run hotel, right at the turnoff to head West on HWY 389. It was tended by an old couple, and the office was their living room. They had 100+ cats running around, and the unmistakable odor of cat piss/spray was present even before entering the building. Gladly, the smell was limited to their space, and the cabin was actually quite clean and nice.

Side note: did you know the US was originally referred to as Fredonia? We were Fredonians, before we were Americans.

I ended up going North into Utah, before heading West through the middle of Nevada on routes 375/6. If you want a desolate ride.. there were signs indicating “no services, next 150 miles,” and they weren’t joking. The Extraterrestrial Highway, bordering a large greyed out area on the map (government access only), and area 51 among others, is the least populated area I think I’ve ever seen. I did see some fighter jets having fun in the sky, though.

I made it to a town called Lee Vining and stayed for the night, because I’d already ridden nearly 500 miles, and a thunderstorm was brewing. The road approaching Yosemite (and Lee Vining) from the East, however, is amazing. HWY 120. It’s full of twisties and one 5+ mile stretch with huge dips in the road. Don’t underestimate the fun level of large dips.

Around 6:30am I headed into Yosemite, stopped for many pictures, and finally made my way home around 3pm.

Yosemite:

And here, I stopped to add oil (first time I’ve seen the oil level warning light come on!). I used 2/3 of a quart topping off, on the entire 4900 mile trip. At nearly 18K miles on this bike, I think it should stop using so much oil.. any time now..

A lot more pictures are here: http://pictures.schluting.com/MotoRides/Mexico-2013/

My final parting thoughts are simply: I must do this again. Great country, great people, great food.. but two weeks is not nearly enough to scratch the surface of Mexico. Next time, I’m thinking I’ll head down Baja and catch the ferry over to Mazatlan, heading South from there.

Days 10, 11, 12: we have a better canyon, but we’re not telling you about it.. (lots of pictures!)

After leaving Zacatecas, I made it up to Hidalgo Del Parral (or, Parral) – the “most European looking town in colonial Mexico,” I read somewhere.

On the way, was this weird thing:

And this cute little village:

And by the way, there are plenty of prayer station along the road, in case you’re feeling sketchy about the traffic, road conditions, or your own soul:

I was feeling much better, and was able to happily walk around town (twice, in fact). I ate (smaller amounts of) street food, including churros and gorditas. By the way, gorditas, in Mexico, don’t resemble Taco Bell’s adaptation. They are basically really thick corn tortilla discs, with a pocket cut in the middle and stuffed with various goodies (think: taco fillings). Quite good.

Anyway, it turned out to be a wonderful day for pictures in Parral, with lots of altocumulus clouds creating a great sky backdrop:

In case you didn’t know.. Coke has won Latin America – it’s very rare to see anything but Coke and Fanta:

Now, on to the cute little city.

Pretty town, right?

Unfortunately, the palace was under construction out front, and closed inside.

The surrounding areas (to tourist spots) were kept in great shape, compared to the rest of the city:

The next day, I headed toward Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico (yay!).

Turns out, there’s a system of canyons (6, I believe), called Copper Canyon – which is deeper and wider than the Arizona Grand Canyon in many spots.

To get to Creel, I headed Southwest out of town, looking for highway 20. At a military checkpoint, my GPS was really confused, and didn’t tell me to turn. The soldiers told me I should turn, but the signs said it was route 25. Quite confusing. So I went straight, and then turned around after 10 miles. They were laughing when I returned, and turned the correct direction they had previously indicated. Oh well.

That road, however, winding up toward Creel, is marvelous. Smooth, twisty, and scenic. What a great ride! It’s also a beautiful transition to higher-altitude pine forest.

I rolled into Creel around 4pm, and 1 mile out the thunderstorms opened up. This was the first and only time I’d get rained on, the entire trip :)

I found a lovely hotel for $20/night, and walked around downtown in search of food and sights.

I like my shadow in this image :)

The next morning, I head out of town, South, for a day trip to the Copper Canyon viewpoint.

On the way, I kept seeing little dirt roads leading to villages, historic sights, and swimming spots. So I took one…

It was a lovely road, more sand than dirt:

Which led me to some lovely rural settings. I’d love to live like this:

Near the end of the 12K road, it got really steep and rough. Rough, because they combat the steepness of the road, and inevitable slippiness, by pouring concrete and setting in stones. This is a lot rougher than the image depicts, and quite difficult on a motorcycle:

I turned around and finally made it to Copper Canyon around 9am, which unfortunately meant the sun was shining directly at me for all photos. But here’s a few..

Another reason I like it better than the Grand Canyon, is that it’s not completely barren desert. Trees!

I headed back to Creel, and saw some ass:

I couldn’t resist stopping for a picture of this, either:

And this:

Once back in Creel, I wandered around the town square:

…and a museum:

…and then decided I should hike to the top of this, for a better view:

…which, I definitely found:

along with some weird, red trees:

This guy kept following me, hoping for food:

Ok, one more scenery picture:

And finally, there was this disturbed Native American lady sitting in the street, blocking traffic:

The next day, I headed North toward the US…