I’ve got to be crazy – I’m leaving Seattle to move to Mexico City so my husband can be with his 10 year old daughter. Okay, so it’s just the next adventure in the series of bizarre things I’ve done in my life. This might be the craziest, though, I mean, moving to an entirely different country? Where a policeman has already robbed me ?! Sounds crazy to me…

I was telling my dentist last night (Hi, Barry) about the cop in Toluca that accosted us when we broke the PREMIER RULE about driving in Mexico (NEVER NEVER NEVER drive at night) and after thinking something like Holy Shit but saying something much more discreet, he said something like, You need to keep us posted on your adventures.

Well, it was about the thousandth time I’d heard that, so I decided to join the ranks of bloggers – because, frankly, I tell these stories to many different people, I forget who I’ve told what to, and I hate repeating myself (I may be crazy, but I am definitely not senile, so this repeating myself thing is getting old).

I’m starting with this short post and will get back to you with the full story about the robber cop and, if the film comes out good, the photo of his evil sidekick that my husband snuck out and took while I was arguing with the first cop . . . god I’m shaking just remembering again, will that ever not happen? Well, anyway, complete coverage and photos to follow . . .

                                                                               ~~O~~

July 2006 – RV to Mexico

Well, we made it to Mexico with lots of great adventures and only minor difficulties. The US part of our trip was a real preparation for Mexico. And the people we were fortunate enough to meet personally both north and south of the border were all charming and helpful.

We only had two unpleasant experiences, really. In Utah one of the workers at the oil change shop stole our iPod (fortunately the boss sent another worker on a search and he found it in the group’s clean uniform closet). Be sure, if you ever come to Mexico, to remember that the cardinal rule of “NEVER drive at night” is written in stone for a reason. The real thieves there carry pistols, nightsticks and badges – I´ll leave it at that. 

We had a great time in Idaho with Becky and John at their ranchito on the river with its own private hot springs. John took Miguel fishing and later helped him fix some perforated plumbing in the motorhome (caused by a careless carpet layer who assured us he had carpeted many an RV). Becky and I hung out reminiscing and cooking. It was a great start to the trip.

On our night drive into Utah, Miguel saw a big comet fall into the Wasatch mountains, but the trip was otherwise uneventful. We spent a wonderful day with Charlie and Cody and Liam in West Jordan. We spent the morning lazing in their sunny back yard. Then they took us hiking around a lake in the mountains just west of Salt Lake City. We ended the evening by putting on temporary dragonfly tatoos and posing for pictures (which I’ll post here as soon as I find the discs).

The biggest adventure came after a lovely late afternoon rest in Hanksville, Utah, heading into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on Highway 96. We were on the way to Natural Bridges and the waitress assured us that it was only about 90 minutes away and, surely, there would be gas stations there. I should have recalled that earlier she’d told me that she and her husband had only lived in Hanksville just over a year. In any event, off we drove, low on gas but with enough to easily drive 90 minutes.

The canyon scenery was amazing and spellbinding, but three hours later in the pitch black of night we had to stop in the middle of nowhere because we were so low on gas I didn’t want to run out in the middle of the night with no chance for passing traffic assistance. We stopped about 10p and settled in to sleep. Shortly after we laid down, one big vehicle whooshed by and no one else passed to disturb our sleep until morning.

About 8a we started up again and within 15 minutes we were in sight of a beautifully built ranch-style motel, adobe finish on the walls, rockers on the porch beside each wooden door – with gas pumps in the parking lot!!

You can imagine the sensation in my stomach as we pulled up to find the driveway blocked by a chain and a little sign that said “Closed – No Trespassing.” But there was a door open in the middle of the building, so I got out and hollered several loud Hellowww!s, but no one answered. Thoughts of our gas needle sitting on top of the big red E pushed me to cross the chain and no sooner had I taken three steps than a woman appeared at the door carrying a wicker laundry basket.

She was reserved at first. Sorry, the hotel is closed. No, there is no gas to sell. Our pathetic questions about how far to the next gas station and muttered calculations about how many gallons we have past Empty and miles per gallon softened her up. 

“Well, there is some gas in that old rusted tank, but it’s at least three years old and will ruin your fuel pump. How little can you get by with?” We settled on seven gallons, with the promise that we would fill the tank with high octane to clean out the fuel injectors at the first gas station we came to. 

Then we started chatting. Gwen was the long-time caretaker of this impeccably kept little motel. The motel was closed because there wasn’t enough water to support it – the area had been in a drought cycle for about six years and the hotel had been closed for three. She lived there with her cats and opened the little store during the daytime for passing traffic, which was sparse. She sent us on our way with good wishes and instructions to head straight down the highway to Blanding and the closest gas station. 

On the road again, we dutifully followed instructions until we saw a sign “Blanding 25, Mexican Hat 27.” A glance at our Microsoft Streets & Trips generated map confirmed that our route was through Mexican Hat and the road to Blanding branched far to the east. It was only two miles more. We had enough gas for two extra miles.

Soon enough, we were far from the split to Blanding and on our way, secure in our planned route to Monument Valley in the Navajo Reservation. We laughed about the road sign that said “Moki Dugway.” What a funny name? Ha, ha, ha.

Then the pavement changed to gravel and I began to wonder. Then the road began to descend and I would have been worried but the gravel was well graded and the road appeared to be well maintained. Then it got narrower. And steeper. Much steeper. With switchbacks. Many of them. With the bottom in sight, my brakes were getting mushy and I could smell them, but I was so intent on the curves and not nicking the overhangs with the motorhome that I forgot to use a lower gear. When we reached the end and the road flattened out, I immediately pulled over and smoke billowed out from the front of the vehicle. Thank goodness it was just the breeze carrying the smoke from the brakes and nothing awry in the engine compartment. We spent an hour in the shade of the RV, warning several other motorhomes and motorcycles on their way up the canyon.

It turns out that Moki Dugway is a 10% grade road from the mesa top to the bottom of the canyon. Imagine us being almost out of gas, in an overloaded 24´ motorhome and go to this page to see the dirt road of Moki Dugway   http://3dparks.wr.usgs.gov/2005/naturalbridges/html/md073.htm
By comparison, Mexican roads were a breeze! 

Arizona was the worst part of the trip by far. The hours spent on blacktop were like passing through Hell´s Oven. Mexico, even on the hottest days, was never so unbearable and anger inspiring as the drive from Flagstaff to Tucson – 123 degrees in the shade! One day it was so suffocating we just stopped and went to the movies just to get out of the heat.

Fortunately, it looks like our big move will be in late September, early October. Yep, the house sold and is under contract. The closing date is July 31, so as soon as I fly in on the 26th I have to go sign all the paperwork and then arrange to get everything moved into storage!  It will be a whirlwind. We´ll wait to do the move until after I finish my contract time at Frazier on September 20. That will give Miguel enough time to find us a small house to rent in Mexico and make for a more tranquil move.