1ST June


Denise feeling much better after a good night’s sleep.  JC still a bit groggy but got better as the day went on.  He’s had no beer for two days – can you believe that??  I’m sure he will make up for it somewhere along the way.  Heading for Zacatecas today only 318kms – so hopefully an easy ride.  We had to leave Geoff and Jenny with the Alpha behind today.  Their clutch had gone and it’s Sunday.  They should catch us up along the way. 


A long straight road with lots of farming until we reached Aguacalientes (hot water???) when industry took over and there was a massive Nissan factory which went on for miles and miles.  No Toyota spare parts here then?


Further North it felt like we were heading into cowboy country with high ridges and cactus.  I was expecting Butch Cassidy to appear at any moment. 





See any cowboys...............................



The great road today meant we got to the hotel by 1pm.  What a fantastic place which has been built around an old bull ring.  The rooms were not ready so we had some lunch and I found my own private little office in the bowels of the bull ring and updated our site then had a bit of a wander around the town.  Not a lot to see but a pretty fountain that was working to music near to the hotel where lots of locals were spending a sunny Sunday afternoon.




The remnants of a wedding in hotel..     My office in the bowels of the bull ring   The musical fountain....




More of the fountain..............................................


Got back to the hotel to find that Roger and Julian, the Aston guys, had lost the bag which had their passports etc in!  Because of the delay in getting to rooms, we had all left our luggage in various spots around the lobby.  As we were all lunching, a large party of people had left and after checking with all of the rally people Roger could only assume that his bag had disappeared with someone who had left!  What a nightmare.   Our documents never leave us but it just reminded us of how important it is to keep them by us all of the time.


Dinner tonight with Stephen and Joyce – the Lotus owners – they insisted on paying as a thank you for carrying their spares and helping them out along the way.  How nice – much appreciated.


2nd June.


Good news this morning.  The lost passports were finally found.  Roger and Julian were at the police station at almost midnight making statements, when there was a call from the hotel.  One of the guests that had left was a professional footballer – Roger’s bag had an UEFA logo on it and the bell boy had assumed it belonged  to the footballer.  The bag will be sent on today by courier.  Thank goodness.  Early start for us at 0645 for a long drive to Mazatlan or Matalan as JC keeps calling it.  We were first to leave the hotel but had only gone 61 kms before the cars passed us and we crossed over the Tropic of Cancer. We actually passed over the Tropic of Cancer three times on this trip – just shows how we are winding up and down the country!  It’s definitely cowboy country today.  We pass the Sierra de los Organos where John Wayne films have been made and through a town named Nombre de Dios (Name of God – I think) which looked like God had forgotten it altogether. 




We keep passing this sign....               Definitely not the long winding road..      Sierra de los Organos..




Sierra de los Organos......                     Nombre de Dios...                                Lovely view......


Today it was the turn of Robin and Charlottes Aston to break down just outside of Zacatesec and they were off the road for about 4 hours.  We were well ahead so carried on and left Paul and Nikki to sort things out.  A planned trip to a film set for lunch was cancelled because it was closed so we headed on through Durango and climbed, climbed and climbed up into breathtaking alpine scenery.  Difficult to capture on the camera but had a go.




  Alps...?                                              He had to have a kip on the way...       They were still building this road...




The road.......                                    Can you see it in the distance??            Toilets on the cliff side......



Crash barriers....



For over 150 kms we twisted and climbed over this road which is called The Devils’s Backbone rising to above 3000 metres – looks like it would  be a late night for us.  JC estimated 12 hours to reach our hotel.  On most bends on this road there were small crosses and shrines where there had been accidents in the past.  Good job we’ve both got our St Christopher’s with us thanks to Graham and Caroline! 


Finally reached hotel Pueblo Bonito.  A large tourist resort on the Pacific coast.  It was Joyce’s birthday so Stephen treated us all to some bubbly and nibbles.  One of the other guests from the hotel tried to muscle in but we Brits all stick together you know and he got short shrift from a couple of the ladies!  Everyone was very tired from the long and difficult drive today and the hotel was average, our room felt damp and the sheets felt damp to.  Its only redeeming feature was its position on the beach and the large open restaurant overlooking the ocean.


3rd June


We are heading for El Fuerte today to take the train to Copper Canyon – two days of not driving!  North of Mazatlan we drive through 1000s of acres of maize and see them combining.  JC wondering how Ken Petch will get on without him and taking loads of farming photos!  It was a fast road with not many stopping places for lunch so we did it 4 x 4 style with Nikki and Paul.  Pulled off the road into a field, backed the vehicles together, opened up the awning and had a pic nic.




Especially for CMC....................................................                                   This is how 4x4 group do lunch....




More for you CMC...............................................



Back on the road its farming and maize all the way but here is a special photograph for Shifty from Chocolate:




This is how you load re-bar....


Found the hotel in El Fuerte easily – even without a Garmin.  Quirky little place – we have a room on the street with double doors, one wooden and one metal.  Bit like having our own little house.  Two birthdays in the group today, so more wine, margeritas and nibbles!  I could get used to this.  It will be strange when we are travelling alone.




Our little house in El Fuerte..


4 June


At breakfast this morning, there were two distinct groups – the rally team and a bunch of elderly, blue rinsed Americans.  I’m afraid we were perhaps a bit unkind to them with one of our group calling them “the living dead” and the race was on to get the best seats on the train.  We had been warned that the train’s schedule was a bit erratic.  We were at the station for 0835 and it finally arrived at 0920 – even worse than British Rail!  The group took over the bar which was air conditioned.  Despite all being in the bar, we all behaved very well, some slept, some read and Nikki and Denise did a re- run of YMCA whilst sharing one Ipod.




A train just like ours........                    Taking in the scenery...............            The view from her window......




The entertainment...................            The audience...........................................................


The journey took five hours over long bridges and through tunnels – apparently the line took 90 years to construct, before we reached our station and took a short bus ride to our hotel which was on the rim of the Copper Canyon.  What a view!  Every room looked out onto the canyon and the scenery was spectacular.  The silence is tangible and the weather is so much cooler.  We sat on the balcony for a while just taking it all in and fell asleep!




The gang arrives......................................................................                   First sight of Copper Canyon...




More.....................                             At sunset.................


At night the sky was full of twinkling stars.  For the first night we were able to sleep with the window open and no air conditioning, with a cool breeze coming in, the silence was wonderful.  Learnt later that Nikki and Paul had moved their mattress out onto the balcony and slept under the stars.


5 June


Slept late – it must be the canyon air.  Wandered around a bit outside of the hotel where local Indians were plying their wares to the tourists, whilst their children played on the steps around them.


The journey back by train seemed to be even longer today and most people slept for most of the time, especially young Dave who was not very well at all, until we got back into El Fuerte at around 7pm.  No birthdays today so we escaped into town with Nikki and Paul and had a late supper together.







Dundee on the rim.......                        Arrow marks our room.........                 Like the shorts???




The path down.................                  Local children playing                          Joyce and Stephen - not us!




On the way down.............................................................................            Station buffet?




6 June


Another early start plus we are carrying young Dave or “the nipper” with us today.  As we pass over the state line (Mexico is huge) into Sonora, a crop sprayer was coming straight towards us – it looked like he was going to land on the highway right in front of us.  A huge queue of trucks waiting to cross took JCs attention as usual.  We must have more truck photos on our website than anyone else in the world except maybe for Scania!!




Coming in to land?.............                Not even a border... just state line...


As we stopped for coffee we had a call for assistance from Paul and Jo in the Mercedes. Sadly the problem looked serious and JC and Paul went off to find a tow truck to get them to Hermosillo, our stop tonight.  Just as they left a tow truck pulled in to fill up!  How lucky was that, and after much discussion in stitled Spanish, waving of arms and telephone calls to his boss the Mercedes, Paul and Jo disappeared off up the road.  About 2kms further on we spotted them parked up at the owner’s yard.  The driver, who had confirmed he could take them NOW had in fact run out of hours!  Despite the obvious language barriers JC quickly worked out that the boss was suggesting putting a different name on the card and sending him anyway!  Takes an old haulier to recognize the tricks of the trade regardless of the language.




Getting the Merc away................................


Big farming area again today with huge corn silos.  JC sends this photo of corn trucks for Andy Newton.




This morning we had left Colin and Barbara (the E Type) behind to get an oil change and Chris and Jill in the Corvette stayed with them.  We assumed that whilst we were all sorting out Paul, they had passed us.  Not so, we had a call that Colin had broken down and that Chris was towing him!  The first time that we were not at the back to support.  Chris had to tow for over 100kms.  We waited for them at a garage with the tow truck and were relieved to see them coming over the hill.  They were all very pleased to see us.  Colin went off to find out the news on his car and the rest of us headed on to the hotel.  Later, safely in the bar at the hotel, Chris ‘s story of the day got bigger and better with every beer he had.  First they towed him, then they had to change a wheel because the tow rope got caught up around it and then finally Chris ran out of petrol!  No wonder they were relived to see us. 




The hero of the day - The Corvette......  Taking front of stage whilst jag gets loaded....


7 June


Despite the problems yesterday, everyone is on the road this morning and we are heading for the border with the US.  It has taken us 19 days to get through Mexico which has been JCs favourite place so far.  It seems like ages ago that we were all moaning about crossing borders – now everyone seems to be pleased to get on this morning.  Both a little sad to leave Mexico but know that we will be back again in a few months!  With no passenger today as “the nipper” is feeling better, we stick to the back of the group, checking every garage for our cars,  just in case we have a re-run of yesterday!


At the Mexican border, we had a police escort.  He even waived us through 3 red lights.  How important are we – we won’t get this treatment when we come back down.  Its Saturday and as we queue to get through the people on the streets are all laughing, waving and asking questions about the cars.  Everywhere they are taking photos on their mobile phones – not of us of course!  Beginning to get an inferiority complex. 


On the US side, things run fairly smoothly for us, although some people had to wait when the cashier closed for lunch.  As we were being fingerprinted a call came through on the officer’s radio that we needed to move our vehicle or we would be towed!  When Denise got down stairs to it, it was surrounded by a bunch of Homeland Security guards, who stopped the traffic whilst she reversed out and into safer parking.  One of the officers was very interested in out trip and spent a while chatting. He even gave us two patch badges  One from the Customs and one from Immigration – can you imagine that in the UK. 


Heading to Tucson for our first stop in the USA, we visit Pima Air Base or the ‘boneyard’ where over 4000 aircraft of all types are stored in the dry desert air.  Fantastic Museum – even pretended to be The First Lady on airforce one.







Its very very hot but the Hilton hotel is wonderful – we got straight there and know that we have left Central America behind.  For the first time in the whole trip the plug fits the sink!  2 more fridge magnets for Faye today!

The Nipper leaves us tomorrow so we all meet up for a drink and then join him and his parents for dinner –their treat for looking after him.  Fantastic food, great salads and vegetables – no more re-fried beans.  Sorry to see Dave go he’s been great company but he is off to Rwanda for 3 months as a volunteer and must get on the way.


8 June


Great breakfast as you would imagine.  Still no computer so checked emails to find that Dave and Anne in Calgary have been successful in getting the filters that John needs for the rest of the trip.  We will pick them up on the way through Bannf.  Thanks a lot you two!!  Looking forward to seeing you soon.


Whilst waiting for a computer shop to open, we visited a supermarket to stock up on toiletries and stuff for the fridge.  What a place – so much choice, we must have looked like a couple of kids in a candy store wandering around with our mouths open at the hundreds of varieties of everything!  Looking forward to crispy rolls, cheese and tomato for lunch!  No luck with the computer – limited choice so will wait until further North and struggle on as best we can.  The cars are way ahead of us today so we spend an easy day on a beautiful road, through the desert and visit a huge open copper mine where Tavis, who works their, took some time to explain it all to us.





Sandsfield and Bird's have nothing on this place..................                            Wheel from the equipment they use!!


Eventually we left the desert behind and headed through the Tonto National Forest – no sign of Kemo Sabby!  More of a cactus forest than trees.  We had lunch at the side of Roosevelt lake – a stunning blue lake which is 87 square kilometers! 

The water looked very tempting but we are still along way behind the group – they are probably in Sedona by now.




View around the lake.......................................................................................



As we headed further North we finally left desert behind and climbed to a cooler more alpine region – they call it Rim Country because of the high plateaus and ridges.  The roads are long sweeping – great for bikers and we see lots of hogs with no helmets, t shirts, shades and bandanas.  Most of them are about the same age as JC and he and John Mac would have a great time together here. 


Running into Sedona we are in Red Rock County . You can see why from the photographhs – the colours are stunning especially in this late afternoon/early evening light. 




Coming in to Sedona................................


It would be great to camp here tonight but we head on to L’Auberge Sedona our home for the next two nights.  Hopefully, I can get my hair done and thankfully, I have been able to get the website up to date.  Keep reading!