Monday, March 09, 2009

the journey south -- part uno

The spirit of William Tecumseh Sherman stalks through my library. His 1865 tour of southern state capitals could not have been more thoroughly planned than my little jaunt to the almost-as-blazing playas of the Costalegre.

On Saturday, Larry Lambert of Mazatlan left a comment following my announcement that I have stuffed my FM3 in my oversized Dockers. He sagely offered this advice: "It doesn't matter that the body is still in Oregon. You're on the road. You're starting to think about what you'll see on the drive south. About the different food you'll encounter after crossing the border. I'll just bet the professor has seen a certain spring in your step."

I doubted I was ready to start thinking about the details of the trip. But here I am already planning the drive south. And the drive is going to be more of an adventure than I had originally planned.

My father was involved with trucking his entire life. He considered being on the road as nothing more than the utilitarian mode of getting from point A to point B. As a result, our vacations in the car involved sights that you could see from the highway. I had the same view of America that an amoeba would have touring a human circulatory system.

This trip is going to be different. And it is going to be a very special trip. My brother has volunteered to accompany me. Our relationship is close, but we have never taken a vacation together. Never. At least not since our last family vacation in 1963.

I had already planned on a leaisurely-paced trip. Professor Jiggs is too old to put up with 16-hour days of driving. I also planned on stopping to see friends in Reno and Las Vegas. This was not going to be a rushed trip. Now I can slow down a bit more and enjoy some sights with my brother.

For posting purposes, I am going to split the trip at the Mexican border -- for no other reason than it seems to be the logical dividing point.

Here is my tentative plan. My friends in Reno will not be home while we are on the road. That means that we can drive directly to Phoenix from Salem -- or as directly as the interstate system will allow. That pretty capital L in the Google map at the top is the direct route.

We will leave Salem around 15 April (only because it seems to be appropriate to leave the country on one of my least favorite days of the year), and head south on I-5 -- always looking for side adventures. Maybe we will stop at Crater Lake or the House of Mystery. Or absolutely anewhere that strikes our fancy. We simply need to be in Melaque during the last week or so of April.

I have driven the route to Los Angeles enough that I will consciously need to find new places to visit. Especially at the first major junction in Pasadena (where little old ladies are still a dime a dozen) when we join up with I-10 to head over to Phoenix.

That will be about 1300 miles of driving. As my father's son, I could easily do it two days. But there is too much to enjoy along the way to slip into the mania of interstate trucking schedules.

We will then visit for however long it suits us with two friends from college. And take a look around Phoenix. I think the last time I was there, I was in the process of not marrying a woman from Tuscon.

Several people have suggested that I should avoid the crossing at Nogales, and cross, instead, at Lukeville. It is a smaller crossing and far less confusing than the major commercial crossing of Nogales.

I may do that for an additional reason. Lukeville sits in the middle of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is only a three-hour drive from Phoenix to the border at Lukeville. if we start very early in the morning, we should be able to make good daylight travel time after we cross the border into Mexico.

Any suggestion will be gladly accepted. I say that advisably knowing, from message boards, that travel routes create stronger partisan splits than fraternal lodge memberships.

Larry has been very helpful in passing hints along to me. But he has been dead wrong on one point -- "I'll just bet the professor has seen a certain spring in your step."

Professor Jiggs has no spring in his step about this move. In fact, he is quite miffed that I am paying far more attention to maps and travel documents than I am to him. But once he is there, the beach will be his oyster.


ken kushnir said...

Be careful on not popular roads,at least for your maiden voyage.
There's something to be said to having traffic in front and in back of you!
We have tried alternate routes and still prefer Nogales.
Returning is another story, but may not be worth the detour.

glorv1 said...

Wow, almost there. I wonder where you will sleep with Jiggs I mean. Are there hotels, motels that allow dogs? I mean...he can't sleep in the car by himself and in strange territory. Why he would go bananas. Please pay attention to Jiggs, because he needs you now more than ever. I know you do pay attention to him, but he is also worried about just what the heck is going on. Remember dogs can sense the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm happy for you. Kind of seems unreal though. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Larry meant that Jiggs sees a spring in your step...if I am not mistaken...actually, I would bet you are fairly bouncing off the walls and Jiggs can't even keep his eye on you....might be a little like watching a tennis match.

Enjoy that will be even more incredible to share it with your brother. Kathe

Steve said...

Ken -- I have not driven long distances in Mexico since 1972. For that reason alone, I am going be very cautious where and when I drive. Not having a tight schedule should also ease up the usual driving tension of -- GETTING THERE.

Gloria -- I have some suggestions for motels that will take dogs in Mexico. But that will be later this week. As far as the States go, most good motels allow pets. The market is having its effect.

Kathe -- My blog may not reflect it, but I have not been dwelling on the retirement and move south. I have enough activity going on in my life on a regular basis, that thinking about moving will just have to wait.

Anonymous said...

looks like Adrian's (Eddie Willer's) site is down....doesn't look good for his transfer to Canada. Do you know anything 'bout that?


Steve said...

Charley -- I do not know what is happening in Adrian's life. I am sorry to hear about the site, but maybe it means he will give a shot at living in another part of Mexico. Canada simply did not seem to be a good fit for the Libertarian Kid.

Cynthia Johnson and Mike Nickell said...

I had an email from Adrian on Sunday morning and there was no indication he was taking down his blog or leaving Canada.

Steve said...

Cynthia -- I checked the Canada site. It is still there, but the journal posts are gone. Hmmm. Maybe you could ask him what is up.

Larry Lambert, Mazatlan said...

Steve - It's good road all the way from Lukeville to Santa Ana, with traffic coming and going. In fact, the last leg into Santa Ana is popular enough to be toll road.


Steve said...

Larry -- Lukeville is looking better and better.

Thomas Hellyer said...

Steve, I've been following your blog for quite some time and can't believe that the time has actually come!

We moved down last year, I drove from Washington to Lake Chapala twice last year, crossing at Nogales both times. The truck route border crossing is awesome and shoots you right onto the highway towards Hermosillo. We took the cuotas all the way.

As far as which route to take once you get to Tepic, I have driven the PV to Barra road often and it is just fine. I would highly recommend that you do NOT go to Guadalajara in order to take the cuotas...the traffic there is horrific especially during vacation time. We went to Barra last weekend (3 day weekend, Benito Juarez day...) and it took us an extra 1.5 hours and we turned off towards Chapala well before Guadalajara. What a mess!

Cheers and best of luck, Thomas

Steve said...

Thomas -- Thank you for the update. Because this is a road trip, my brother and i are going to have a bit more flexibility than on most trips. Your information will help a great deal.