Posts for January, 2013


The Sierra Gigante (Ciudad Constitucion,, Mexico)

Journal entry for Tuesday 1st Jan, 2013 (day 181, miles 18332)

A happy new year to you all from Nina and Rob. We were excited this morning to think that this is the year we plan to travel across the Eurasian continent. We have been saying 'next year' for so long that it has become a reflex. Right on the heels of that thought was the realization that based on our tentative plan we will actually ship the truck out of US west coast in 11 weeks. Yiks; thats not far off; and boy do we have a lot to do between now and then. Nina immediately started making a list. These thoughts have irretrievably turned our mind towards preparation for Russia and the things we have to do after Mexico.

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A travel day - nothing to report (La Paz, Mexico)

Journal entry for Wednesday 2nd Jan, 2013 (day 182, miles 18465)

Sorry - I added this entry simply to have the camping and location details.

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Other overlanders and a car wash (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

Journal entry for Thursday 3rd Jan, 2013 (day 183, miles 18577)

This morning we spent some time talking to a group (of two vehicles each with two people) from Swiztland. We had a pleasant hour or so comparing notes about vehicles, talking about our respective past travels. It was interesting to Nina and I that one of the couples had recently completed a crossing of Russia and Mongolia.

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Cabo, cousins and some time at the beach (Los Barriles, Mexico)

Journal entry for Friday 4th Jan, 2013 (day 184, miles 18656)

We had arranged to meet a cousin of Nina's this afternoon so we had time for a relaxed morning. We started the day with a drive through downtown Cabo which required some careful maneuvering through narrow streets and under low hanging trees, before heading west towards San Jose del Cabo. Along the way we stopped at Chileno beach for an hour or so to catch some sun. The beach was well looked after, the area was clean and tidy and well maintained restrooms were provided. There was a policeman in the parking lot presumably to ensure that things stayed orderly.

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Boomers in paradise (La Ventana, Mexico)

Journal entry for Sunday 6th Jan, 2013 (day 186, miles 18697)

A short drive up the coast from Los Barriles brought us to the wind surfing and kite boarding mecca of La Ventana, a modest and dispersed settlement on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. As we approached the place mostly white buildings could be seen scattered along the shore and hundreds of big kites could be seen pulling boarders across the surface of the blue sea. It was quite a spectacular sight, and also a bit of a surprise. Our guide books description had led us to expect that the place would be undeveloped, with no facilities and with a small population of hardy wind surfer types.

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Air trouble (Ciudad Constitucion, Mexico)

Journal entry for Monday 7th Jan, 2013 (day 187, miles 18868)

From La Ventana is was only 35 miles to the city of La Paz up over a modest mountain range. In La Paz we resupplied in the very extensive Walmart store, and a Pemex gas station before undertaking the relatively uninteresting drive to Ciudad Constitucion. Throughout the day the wind strengthened and blowing dust became more wide spread so that by the time we got to Constitucion we selected a campground that we hoped would give us some shelter from the wind and dust.

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Sand, sun and other Aussies (El Requeson, Mexico)

Journal entry for Wednesday 9th Jan, 2013 (day 189, miles 19020)

We had a few hiccups and repairs before hitting the road this morning. In preparation for getting under way I checked the trucks tires for correct pressure. In the process one of the valves stuck open and released a good quantity of air before resealing itself. In addition all tires were a little low so I broke out the air hose. When I inserted the hose-end connector into the connector on the air tank the internals of the tank connector dislodged and released all the air in the tank. With the air tank empty and the connector stuck open the truck could not build any air pressure and hence we were not going anywhere until I could fix it. Thankfully after ratting around in my mess of spare parts I found a new connector. With that installed and the tires re-inflated we were on our way. Or at least on our way to the local Ley supermarket.

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Snow in Mexico (Calexico, California)

Journal entry for Saturday 12th Jan, 2013 (day 192, miles 19795)

Three longish days of driving have carried us from Ciudad Constitucion in mid Baja to Calexico, California and while long driving days usually mean "nothing to say" that is not entirely the case here. If nothing else we managed to capture some photos on each of these days that are shared below, had conversations with every military checkpoint on the Baja and at the end of this period an interesting day along the US-Mexico border.

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Leaving Mexico - again (Yuma, Arizona)

Journal entry for Sunday 13th Jan, 2013 (day 192, miles 19879)

The main event and/or interest feature of today was relinquishing our Mexican Tourist cards and returning the vehicle temporary import papers to the Mexican Banjercito.

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Tires rotated in freezing weather (Sentinel Rest Area, Arizona)

Journal entry for Monday 14th Jan, 2013 (day 195, miles 19977)

Before leaving Yuma this morning we stopped by a local tire shop and had them rotate the tires/wheels on the truck. I had also wanted them to reverse the tires on the two front wheels (that is take the tire off the rim turn it over and remount it) but the manager was not prepared to do that. He pointed out that to do as I asked he would have to disassemble the wheels (the truck has two-piece wheels and the two halves are sealed together with rubber O-rings) and without new O-rings (which he did not have) the reassembled wheel might leak. So we settled for a simply rotation. I stood in the workshop area for about an hour and a half rugged up like the workers while a freezing wind whistled past.

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An evening with friends near Tucson (Tucson, Arizona)

Journal entry for Tuesday 15th Jan, 2013 (day 195, miles 19977)

Today was simply a driving day. We were on our way to Tucson to spend an evening with some friends from Gig Harbor who were escaping the wet weather of Washington and getting in a bit of golf. Though with the current cold snap in Arizona the golf appears to have been put on hold.

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A visit to Quartzsite - amazing!! (Quartzsite, Arizona)

Journal entry for Tuesday 22nd Jan, 2013 (day 202, miles 20391)

From Tucson we spent 3 nights with our son and fiancé in Phoenix and then headed west along Hwy 10 towards the town of Quartzsite. We have heard from many people over the years about the RV "get-together" that happens in Quartzsite every winter but have never really understood what it was. Sometimes the description sounds like an RV Show other times it sounds like 300,000 people "dry camping" with their RVs in the desert. So we decided to drop in to that town and have a look for ourselves.

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The last leg (John Wilke Rest Area, California)

Journal entry for Wednesday 23rd Jan, 2013 (day 200, miles 20554)

The last leg - on our way back to Gig Harbor. During our stay in Phoenix and Quartzsite we worked on our applications for Russian Visas with the assistance of a visa agency. We finalized the paper work this morning and so our first stop today was the little town of Blythe, CA where we hoped to Fedex/UPS the paper work to that agency. Blythe turned into a bit of a mad-cap affair. On the door of the UPS office was a sign saying they are only open 2 hours a day - 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. We found a Fedex agent but their collection had already happened for the day. Finally at ACE Hardware (who it seems do small items only) we got the days UPS pickup.

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Death Valley in the rain (Death Valley, California)

Journal entry for Thursday 24th Jan, 2013 (day 204, miles 20760)

Grey sky and light rain greeted us this morning as we set out north to cross the Mojave on our way to Death Valley Junction. It felt strange to see this part of the country in the rain. Fresh mud, pools of standing water and evidence of water running over the roadway was a constant sight. There was even water running beside the road as we descended to our nights camp at Furnace Creek near the Death Valley visitors center.

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Bad Water - below the sea (Death Valley, California)

Journal entry for Friday 25th Jan, 2013 (day 205, miles 20869)

Our day started with the almost obligatory trip to the visitors center and the orientation film; which we would both classify as one of the better ones we have seen. Bad Water - the lowest point in the valley at -260 ft was next on the agenda and where, with a smattering of other visitors, we walked out a short way onto the vast salt pan. We were somewhat surprised by the texture of the surface of the pan as we expected it to be smooth perhaps with small ridges around where water had pooled. But it was actually a chaotic pattern of small salt uplifts (protrusions less than 1 foot high) mixed with mud.

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Scotty's Castle? (Hawthorne, Nevada)

Journal entry for Saturday 26th Jan, 2013 (day 206, miles 21081)

The weather was improved this morning so we decided to do a little more exploring before leaving the valley. First on our agenda was the Race Track, a dried mud pan where large boulders move across the surface of the pan under the influence of some force that is not understood. However this objective was abandoned when we realized that it would require 50 miles of very rough road. We consoled ourselves with a visit to the Ubehebe Crater (formed about 2000 years ago by a steam explosion resulting from hot magma interacting with ground water) before heading onto Scotty's Castle.

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Casino Dinner! (Reno, Nevada)

Journal entry for Sunday 27th Jan, 2013 (day 207, miles 21233)

The weather was clear but cold as we left Hawthorne and traveled beside Walker Lake this morning but before long we were again driving through snow covered country side and as we entered Fallon snow started to fall. On into Reno the snow persisted and we started to worry about road condition in the mountains and our chances of getting over to I-5.

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Lassen Forest - Playing in the snow (Yreka, Oregon)

Journal entry for Monday 28th Jan, 2013 (day 208, miles 21489)

Today was simply over the mountains to I-5. As it turned out the weather was good, with no new snow and hence no problems with chains and closed roads. The trip was through the beautiful Ponderosas of Lassen National Forest. Along the way we took the opportunity to play a bit in the snow to see whether we could get the truck bogged. I am glad to report we did not. Maybe we simply did not try hard enough.

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A travel day (Portland, Oregon)

Journal entry for Tuesday 29th Jan, 2013 (day 209, miles 21827)

Nothing exciting happened today. We simply traveled along I-5 with the goal of making Portland before the day ended.

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Vehicle Service - all day (Portland, Oregon)

Journal entry for Wednesday 30th Jan, 2013 (day 210, miles 21827)

We were up this morning at 5:30 am in order to get to McCoy Freightliner by 6:00am in order to have the truck serviced in advance of shipping to Russia. When we called McCoy about a week ago we were told that they don't take bookings, it is first come first served and we are open from 6:00am until 11:00 pm. Since we wanted to get finished in a day we decided to try and be first. That worked out as we were indeed the first customers of the day. The bit of the story we had not anticipated was that while the office is open from 6:00am the mechanics/technicians don't arrive until 7:00am (or later). Anyway about that time activity started on the yellow truck.

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Repairs in a parking lot (Chehalis, Washington)

Journal entry for Thursday 31st Jan, 2013 (day 211, miles 20554)

So what to do with the day, that was our big question this morning, given that we were a day a head of schedule. The answer turned out to be spend almost the entire day in a Home Depot parking lot doing some repairs to the camper cabinets. Over the last week or so we have been like the walking wounded so today seemed like an opportune day to fix some things.

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