Monthly Archives: July 2013

Day 34 – Pole Dancers

Day 34 – Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We spent the night at El Tejin, MX in order to get into the archeological site when they opened at 9:00 AM. It is an amazing site built between 300 AD and 1200 AD. We took a lot of pictures and I will post some here to tell the story. Julie notes “________(because she was speechless and in awe!)

The pole dancers. What did you think this post was about? Julie notes “I am sensing some reader disappointment in the male 15 to 115 target audience.”

We then drove on to the beach town of Tecolutla, MX about an hour away. It is a neat little Mexican town on a point with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Tecolutla River on the other.

We toured the town in the afternoon and stopped for cervezas and the biggest, freshest shrimp cocktails you can imagine.

The group enjoying some cold beer and shrimp. Sooooo GOOD, especially with temperatures of 35C and high humidity. Julie notes “Yes they even convinced to drink la cerveza. No margueritas available here for the senora. But I’m starting to understand the attraction on a hot day. Siestas make more sense too.”

A great day.

Julie notes “Yes a great day despite the fact; that we purposely drove the wrong way down a one way street, with the locals yelling and pointing, that WE were the target of police attention and were questioned twice, and our lack of Spanish may have helped us on our way, that all radios died except ours when we reached our destination town and ‘follow the leader’ turned into ‘where’s Wally Wally Bang Bang and his entourage’. And more giant topes! It’s amazing what a cold beverage forgives and forgets.”


that’s all for today folks, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Day 33 – Topes or not Topes – That is the Question

Day 33 – Monday, July 29, 2013

Alternate Title: A good day in Tampico; Didn’t get pulled over by the police and didn’t get hit by our crew. Julie notes “Which is more than we can say for the rest of our crew.”

Today we left the church campsite at 6:30 AM sharp. We headed to El Tajin. The site of ancient ruins. We had to travel though the large city of Tampico. We arrived into the chaos of Tampico traffic around 8:00 AM during rush hour. No one got lost but the larger fifth wheel traveling with us was pulled over for the second time to check papers. We were holding up traffic on a busy 4-lane major highway until they decided he was OK to go. Julie notes “I forgot to mention yesterday that the Rambos, the owners of the 5th wheel, were awarded the ‘first to be pulled over by the police’ award. They also claimed ‘2nd and 3rd‘ in that category today. The big 5th wheel with a utility looking truck seems to catch the eye of the law. But once they see the little pelirrojo (red haired) navigator, Wally Wally Bing bang, they seem assuaged.”

Sunrise this morning as we approached Tampico.

Driving in Tampico. At one stop light, the leader Norm thought he put his vehicle in park to open the passenger side window while the light was red. His vehicle however was in reverse and moved backwards right into Victor’s van. No serious damage but a little embarrassment and harassment from the group. Julie notes “As the today’s title indicates we’ve encountered mucho, mucho topes since we’ve entered Mexico. Who knows what they are?”

We crossed a very large bridge and because of some lane construction we were able to pull over on the bridge for an incredible view of the river and city below.

We stopped for a break at an abandoned Pemex station and had a chance to take in the views.

Rhett, the son of Justin and Alyssa, traveling with us as far as Panama.


Julie notes “And below is the ‘cute’ former peliorrojo that I get to spend every minute of the day with for the next 118 days. Please submit your vote on which one you think is the cutest.”

Only a short trip down the highway we stopped again to buy some fresh cheese in a region full of dairy farms. Julie notes “Everyone look at the camera and say ‘queso!’. This was a string type cheese with lots of salt. Kind of reminded me of white squeaky curds but in a big string stretchy string ball.”

It was some good I must say and I think Julie enjoyed it as well as you can see. Julie notes “Someone forgot to say ‘queso’ for the camera. I think she might be saying ‘back off this is nacho cheese’!”


After the dairy farms we were into the city of Naranjos. The orange growing centre of Mexico. Full of orange groves and statues celebrating their crop. Julie notes “Conveniently for us trying to grasp some Spanish as we travel along, Naranjos means ‘orange trees’. And ‘peligrosa curva’ means ‘dangerous curves’. Brad’s all too familiar with those. Wink wink.”

In the next major town we passed, the traffic was quite congested at one of the major intersections. The kid on the bus was so close, he could have reached out and grabbed the RV. Julie notes “Not the first or last time I gasped ‘OMG!’. I think I understand better now why they’re such a devout people.”

Our campsite for the night in the El Tajin parking area. We will tour the site tomorrow morning, hopefully while it is cool. Julie notes “We have redefined in our heads what constitutes ‘cool’. It’s based on sweat production and beer consumption. Clothing is just something to wipe your sweat out of your eyes. Good thing my shirts are long. Or that could also increase beer consumption.”

…carry on folks, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Brad and I both had a ‘Jim dad’ moment at the same time today as we were driving through a town. The song ‘The Crystal Chandelier’ was playing on itunes and a swarthy older shirtless man was stretching on his balcony. At the same time we said ‘Hey, that reminds me of dad/Jim. The song for Brad and the man, who I was pretty sure was about to give a Jim style Tarzan call, was my trigger. Miss you dad.”

Day 32 – 1 Day Down, 119 To Go

Day 32 – Sunday, July 28, 2013

Well today was the first day of our 120 day trek with Adventuretours. The first few days are big travel days through the northeastern part of Mexico. We traveled 501 km today. The first part of the day is not very scenic and not the safest area of Mexico but we made it to Aldama, MX. We are now camped in a locked Baptist Church yard with lime trees and a large lawn around us. It is the site of an old Sauza Tequila distillery.

The day started in Mission, TX with a 6:30 AM departure time. We crossed the border without any issues, had our camper briefly inspected at the first check point, and later passed through a military checkpoint. Julie notes “Yes, believe it or not, I was up, washed fed and in the truck before Brad drove off, much to his dismay. I hit play on the iPod and what shuffled out as the very first song on our real first day of this South American tour was ‘Pueblo Joven’ from a selection of South American, Children of the Inca album we have. Now next to the alien thing in Roswell, it is right up there in the WTF? (Way Too Freaky) zone. Also later ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ and a Chris Isaac song called ‘Waiting for My Lucky Day’ about leaving Texas. (Small letter ‘wtf’s?’)

The sun was rising as we drove into Mexico. Julie notes “This was nice but not as nice as awarding ‘first wrong turn’ and ‘first traffic infraction’ honours to our leader Norm about a mile out as we were leaving our camp. Made for a few early morning chuckles over the radio bands. And Norm may up his caffeine intake tomorrow.”

This was in the first major town we passed through; Matamoros, MX. What is it? A martini glass? A large bird bath? Julie notes “Well if it is a salted marguerite glass, I will have to up my aforementioned daily fitness routine quite a bit before I will be able to chug this baby back.”

We took a break every two hours. This one at the state run Pemex fuel station. These are the four travellers.

We passed through an area of Joshua trees. The only spot we will see these on the trip. Julie notes “Since we’re talking nature I noticed amongst the birdlife an abundance of terns, hence I believe the origin of the saying ‘one good tern deserves another’.

The driving in Mexico takes a bit of getting used to. There are really three lanes. You pull over and let people pass by straddling the line. The oncoming traffic moves to the opposite shoulder. Scary at first, but somehow it works. Julie notes “Dotted lines? Solid lines? Big signs that have the symbol for ‘Do Not Pass’. These mean nothing. Below is a picture of car passing our friend Victor on a solid line, the “Do Not Pass” sign is just out of the shot and there is a semi bearing down at them. I don’t know about them but I had to change my underwear a few times today!!”

Our little posse from our view as the rear end, tail gunner, clean up crew….

We crossed the tropic of cancer today. (An imaginary line around the globe – We are not IN the tropic of cancer as Julie may want you to believe – see earlier post regarding the Arctic Circle for background information) It is marked only by a yellow ball with no real roadside stop. Julie notes “Hey if anyone knows about the Tropic of Cancer it is me and although we WERE in it for a while, I am hoping we have moved out of it now. P.S. Most people agreed with me in regards to the whole Arctic Circle thing. Just saying.”

We did not make it to our intended destination today so the leader, Norm, chose a truck parking lot next to a Pemex station as a safe haven for the night. After some disgruntled comments from the group, and further scouting by Norm, we ended up in the much nicer church property. Julie notes

The first location. Julie notes “Grrrrrrrrrrr…, disgruntledly.”

Our final campsite. Julie notes “Yay! undisgruntedly.”

The lawnmower.

The church and some of the young Sunday evening participants. We doled out some candies and made some instant friends.

…over and out from Mexico, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “It’s 1030 pm, temp 28 C, humidity 83%, no air conditioning and there is some squeally noise outside they are telling us is a cicada but none like any I’ve ever heard. But the muleskinner has been running around, sweating three times the buckets as me, bbqing steak and stuffed portabello mushrooms, driving, setting up things, hauling heavy stuff, and doing his best to keep his sidekick in the camping lifestyle she is accustomed to. So if I wasn’t stuck with sweat to this table and bench and if he wasn’t sawing very large logs in the sauna/bedroom, I’d give him a hug. On second thought maybe I’ll save that for a ‘shower’ day.”


Day 31 – A chicken with its head cut off

Day 31 – Saturday, July 27, 2013

Today was spent finalizing all of our preparations. D & D Wheel Alignment had kept our vehicle overnight to finish the repairs I had requested. We got it back about 11:00 AM. Then I had to have a complete oil change and servicing done at a quick lube place. Not so quick. I think I was there until about 1:30 PM.

Julie spent the day doing all the laundry, dishes, and “house” cleaning. She also packed up all the children’s clothes that Alison, our daughter-in-law, and her friends provided us for gifts in the countries we will visit. Julie and I supplemented that with colouring books, crayons, pencils, books, and a few more children’s clothes. I packed the RV and vehicle with all the clothes, gifts, and spare vehicle parts we will carry.

We had our drivers meeting at 5:00 PM to review tomorrow’s 6:30 AM departure into Mexico. We reviewed the border crossing process and routes we will take. The first day will be a long day of about 300 miles.

While we were doing all of our organizing and preparations the temperature reached its highest point since we arrived – 39.4C. Julie notes “Yes things were a bit steamy and not in the good way.”

For supper, we ate the chicken with its head cut off that we purchased while doing a final stocking up on groceries. Julie notes “Brad is hoping we are not driving around Mexico tomorrow like this chicken with its head cut off. Our leader kept emphasizing ‘you must turn here, must stay right, etc.’ With me at the navigational post what could possibly go wrong? Especially since I was maybe paying a little bit too much attention to Wally Wally Bing Bang’s stories about his geckos and perhaps not enough to the leader’s instructions. Bonus though…There is an award for the ‘first to get lost’. Something to aim for?”

…on to Mexico tomorrow, stay tuned for our first travel day post, the muleskinner and his sidekick.

PS: The first travel day post, and future posts, may be delayed until we reach a wifi location. We aren’t really sure how readily available wifi will be as we travel along.

Julie notes “As always, thoughts are with our family across the country.”


Day 30 – Rendezvous and Inspection Day

Day 30 – Friday, July 26, 2013

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have quite a bit going on in our final few days here in Mission, TX. We spent this morning with the tour leader reviewing the log book for the “Trek of the Americas”. This was rendezvous day. We met the other family in the group that arrived today. Justin, Alyssa, and their son Rhett from Colorado. They were born and raised in New Orleans and are making a permanent move to Panama. They are traveling with a fifth wheel trailer as far as Panama. Julie notes “Rhett is 3 years old and prefers to be called Wally, Wally Bing Bang and calls me Julie Julie Bing Bang. He has 2 tiny plastic geckos that both enjoy a nice smoothie in this hot weather. He has put on so many miles on his little 2 wheeler since he arrived that if he was going in the right direction, he’d be in Panama by now. Not sure if you can tell but I am very happy to meet this nice polite young man. Wally, Wally also has a husband just like me, but his husband’s name is Dustin and he’s 35. We’ll introduce you to the 4 other members of Rhett’s real family some other day. Pictures will be the best way to do that.”

Victor is our other trek traveler. He is traveling with his dog Mindy. He is a retired longshoreman from California but was born and raised in Hawaii. He is traveling in a van and tent with 7 surf boards strapped to the roof. He is also making a move to Panama and will drop off the trek at that point. Julie notes “Victor has offered to teach us surfing when the occasion arises. He has a great soft board that is practically fool proof for beginners. Hmmm I think I see funniest home video clips in the making.”

The tour leader, Norm, is traveling in an older Class C motorhome.

Norm’s son, John, conducted a thorough vehicle inspection of each rig after we finished a review of the log books, traveling practices and expectations. He noted a few minor items on our vehicle. We decided to have them repaired here so made arrangements with D & D Wheel Alignment to fix the items as a preventative measure.

We dropped the vehicle off at 3:00 PM after a long day of last minute preparations and shopping for various supplies.

John and Norm conducting the vehicle inspection. Julie notes “No family resemblance there eh?”

One of the “preparations” was a mother-in-law Vera inspired container with small miscellaneous items stored inside for quick and easy retrieval. Pens, markers, scissors, crazy glue, elastics, etc. Genius! Julie notes “Even the 2 permanent markers came from mom’s bottomless supply in her craft drawer and the little scissors are from dad’s collection. Brad even put the ‘Stop Itch’ stick in there because he’s pretty sure mom used to keep hers in the pencil can on the kitchen table.”

Julie and I walked out of the RV park and across the street for supper at La Fogata. It was quite a nice place. A little more upscale than we had anticipated. I had the house special steak cooked on cast iron, with a baked potato and grilled onions. It was dripping with delicious butter and was extremely tender. Really good but not quite Alberta beef good. Julie tried the tilapia recommended by our waiter. She wasn’t overly thrilled with her fish but it was good, not great. “Julie notes “ehnnn too much celery and it came wrapped in foil, sort of a camping dish, but the fish and shrimp were nice and firm. And I did not leave any on my plate so what does that tell you?”

The kitchen was viewable through a large glass window. They had hardwood burning on a large open “BBQ” with goat, chicken, and other meat cooking away. Pretty neat. Julie notes “We are guessing that is what we were looking at based on the menu items. Things look different there than at the petting zoo.”

Julie notes “I spent the better part of the afternoon cataloguing our large first aid kit that we have carried faithfully since our first kayaking trip back in 2005. It is a requirement in some of the countries we will be travelling to, to have a kit or you’ll be fined. The lab tech in me noted a lot of overdue expiry dates but oh well. We just won’t wear our glasses if we need to take any of the meds. Hopefully we have meds to counteract any issues from the old meds. And if we ever have an emergency where many 2×2 sterile gauze patches are required, we’re prepared; multiple bee stings, an avalanche involving tiny rocks, someone attacking us with a sewing needle, any other ideas? I also found some cinnamon flavoured dental sticks in the kit. Now that one makes sense, nothing worse than something stuck in your teeth in the wilderness.”

…over and out, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Day 29 – Real Men Get Pedicures

Day 29 – Thursday, July 25, 2013

We are still sitting in Twin Lakes RV Park in Mission, TX getting our final preparations completed. Today we drove to the border at Nuevo Progresso, MX and processed our temporary Mexico vehicle import permit and had our passports stamped. I also purchased all the spare automotive parts we will take with us on the trip.

We started the day off with coffee and pastries we had purchased from Poncho’s the night before; 1 strawberry (fresa), 1 pumpkin(calabaza). They were a little dry. Not our favourite breakfast. Julie notes “But we ate them anyway. Cha-ching on the old calorie-ometer.”

I decided to go into Mexico without Julie but she wasn’t too far behind. Julie notes “Hey Cam, your hat has made its way back home. Thanks for leaving it behind in Bucerias. I hope it enjoys this little trip.”

My first pedicure. Now I won’t have to wear socks in my sandals. J Aunt Doreen, It’s OK if you want to wear your socks in your sandals. J Julie notes “These gals were great and were very good at keeping the shocked look off of their faces upon seeing Brad’s virginal Canadian sandal toes. There was some excited chatter in Spanish and laughing regarding ‘el hombre’ and ‘rosa esmalte de unas’ (pink polish). I tried to learn some more words from a Spanish ‘Jerry Springer’ type show that was intermittently playing on the TV and the most I could gather was that something went wrong a 15th birthday party and much crying and yelling ensued. I can now yell incoherently at Brad in two languages.”

The contest for today is to correctly identify which foot belongs to which person. HINT; Mine are the good looking manly feet. Julie notes “HINT#2, Brad’s are the least hairy of the two. And coincidence or not … someone else in the travel group has the very same ‘turquesa’ colour of nails. Name tags may be required.”

…over and out, the smooth footed muleskinner and his foot-in-her-mouth sidekick

Julie notes “Brad forgot to mention that he was in ‘huge cranium’ heaven. He found a hat shop in Mexico with hats that were actually TOO big for his giant melon. He had to down size a few notches from the biggest size. There must be some ‘winter Texans’ with some muy grandes cabezas. At first the shop owner misunderstood our grammatically incorrect ‘mucho grande’ attempts at describing what we wanted and was bringing out the giant sombreros that you can dance around. But he quickly surmised, after a glance way up at the melon in question, and had Brad outfitted in no time. Brad credits the new hat for the smiles and nods from the local senoritas but I think they were all just glad his hooves had been trimmed.”

Day 28 – Give me a “Brake”

Day 28 – Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We are still sitting in Twin Lakes RV Park in Mission, TX. Today we had an appointment for a brake job and suspension and drive train inspection at D & D Wheel Alignment. They were recommended to us by the RV park owner. It was a good recommendation. We met the owners, DJ and Sonja, and DJ’s father, Dan. Dan originally started the business over 30 years ago and named it D & D for him and his only son. What a great business to deal with and a great family.

They installed a new front left hub bearing for me and replaced all the brake pads, which I requested, even though there were a few miles left in the old ones. We made need those brakes through some of the high passes in Central & South America. Julie notes “honkchewwww, honkchewwww (our granddaughter’s pretend snoring noises) because that made me fall asleep. But I guess I would be pretty wide awake if our brakes failed as we were teetering over Machu Pichu. Although that sounds like a great plot for a National Lampoon Vacation movie! Admit it. Now you are humming the ‘Holiday Road’ tune.”

I must say the people and businesses here have been very helpful and friendly and customer service oriented. Julie notes “Agreed! We must be really good at looking like we are in need of help because people all over have offered assistance whether it be at the grocery store staring up at the aisle signs or trying to find a campsite at the busiest time of the day and year, and letting us ‘squeeze’ into their lane of traffic because we’ve made a little navigational error, to just pointing out some local highlights and good businesses.”

I purchased a set of used reflective triangles, which is a requirement in some SA countries, and a commercial to consumer propane transfer nozzle that will also be required when we need to refill our propane tanks. I purchased these from Norm of Adventuretours RV Tours. Julie notes “Ok this is like the filler that sports people have to ramble on about in between golf shots and Olympic events. Bear with us. I promise things will get more exciting again soon. In the meantime, imagine my thoughts when the first thing our tour guide hands us is this ‘interestingly’ shaped device! Hmmm….”

We did some shopping, after we got our truck back. We picked up a few needed items at Academy Sports & Outdoors store. We also purchased some gifts at Walmart to take with us. Julie notes “Norm encourages interaction and giving back to the people that we will meet on the way. He is a paramedic and has taught his skills across Mexico, Central and South America as well as held blood pressure and blood sugar clinics during these tours. At his suggestion, we have some donated clothing, treats, school supplies, some books, etc. And what we learn as we go will be immeasurable.”

For supper we tried a local Mexican restaurant called Poncho’s. They have a 5 person mariachi band but we only got to hear them tuning. Julie ordered the $4.00 margarita. J Julie notes “Having a few of these on a daily basis will definitely build my upper body strength. My body building goal is to go from ‘two hands for one drink’ to ‘one drink in each hand’. P.S. This is also the face I made when Norm handed me that phallic shaped object above!”

…that’s all for today, stay tuned to for the lastest breaking stories, the mulskinner and his sidekick

Julie notes “Tomorrow we head to Mexico to get some papers arranged. Norm has suggested a pedicure (after seeing Brad’s sandal toes) and a haircut (not sure which of us prompted that suggestion). Since my main gal Jessica won’t make the trip down here to Texas as I requested to give me a trim, Karen Schoeppe, maybe you can suggest a Mexican hair dresser for me? Bwahahaha! (If we had it we would post Karen’s Mexican hairdo from last February. Very fluffy, but actually a great cut after things settled down.) Watch for pictures of our ‘new Mexico’ stylish looks. And maybe guess what colour Brad will get his nails done.”


Day 27 – Radio Install

Day 27 – Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today we had arranged to have a radio installed in the truck for communications with the small group as we travel. We are using a 2m radio transceiver (VHF) mainly on the 148.850 MHz frequency. It is a Kenwood. The range should be about 50km depending on conditions and terrain.

The install was done by Mobile Relay in McAllen, TX. Good service and a reasonable price.

It was hot again today. We really appreciate our air conditioning. It reached 38C. Julie notes “While Brad was off having his tech time, I was in the non-air conditioned park laundry room, ensuring that we all had fresh undies, etc. for the road. This will be happening more and more often if we follow Vickie’s advice and hang a pair of undies on those hooks at each campsite to find our way home! (Not the correct answer to the hook question by the way. How long should we keep you ‘hanging’…so to speak?) I am a bit of a laundry mat aficionado having visited many on our trips across country. This one was reasonably priced and did the job in good time but required a good wipe down first as the dusty breeze is the cooling mechanism and previous users left a lot of their personal dirt and soap piles behind. Ewww. I also chased away a few spiders that were mad I was disturbing their morning web building.”

We reheated some tasty BBQ’d beef ribs and added some baked potatoes and beans for a late supper. We used the RV park kitchen so we wouldn’t heat up the camper with our stove. We invited Norm, our guide, to join us. More trip discussion ensued. Julie notes “Norm commented ‘Real Texas ribs!’ so that made the Smokin’ Pit, Pit Master proud.’

…carry on, the muleskinner and his sidekick

Oh yeah, I just wanted to clarify that in spite of comments to the contrary, I have never worn socks in my sandals! J

Julie notes “Things I know after 2 weeks on the road…

  • I am not getting any smaller and this camper bathroom is not getting any bigger. However it is nice to be able to rest your forehead on the wall sometimes.
  • Palm trees don’t always make places exotic. And they don’t provide a lot of shade. They do make a lot of noise in the wind though. Kind of like a wild Texan animal getting riled up before his hunt. Not that my imagination is getting a bit riled up.
  • If a guy thinks you are talking to him at McDonalds while you are gesturing to your husband right behind him you get to count that as him making a pass at you. (At my age anyway I am taking it as a pickup attempt. Luckily the men in question worked it out amicably and no punches or French fries were thrown to defend my honour.)
  • Our travel iTunes song shuffle has played us around 800 plus songs so far. Some have made me cry, some tap and sing along (not always the right words, so Brad usually turns the volume up to help me better learn the words, I think), some make me wistful, some that used to make me wistful now make laugh thanks to my sister Susan’s recent interpretations, some seem to fit the moment we are experiencing perfectly (e.g. ‘Hey Mr. Postman’ played and reminded me I needed to mail my postcards just as a post office appeared out of no-where up in a tiny mountain community of Ophir) AND some just make me say WTF?? What’s This FUNK? And why is it on my iTunes?
  • Do not yell out ‘Hey that must be the lone star of Texas!’ when that first star comes out. More stars will follow and others may think you a bit daft.
  • Two weeks flies by quickly when there is so much to see. But we are always thinking of the folks back home in Grande Prairie and Ontario. Miss you and love you! Wish you could all follow the underwear trail and join us!
  • And finally, people are really interested in the campground hooks so we will end the mystery. They are to tie your llama or emu to, depending on which mode of transport you prefer. But really they are for hanging a camping lantern. Of course! Right?!”


Day 26 – Hot, Hot, McAllen, TX

Day 26, Monday, July 22, 2013

For any new subscribers who want to start at the beginning, here is a link to the Day 1 post on March 27, 2013. There are navigation links on the bottom of each post to move through the days.

We have arrived in McAllen, TX (actually Mission, TX). This was our destination for this phase of the trip. We left Falcon Lake State Park this morning and headed into McAllen. Julie notes “As has been the trend, there was a fire ban in effect at the park so instead we watched the fireflies flit about and again a lightening storm was on the horizon. Thanks again Mother Nature.”

We spoke with the park warden about the posts and hooks and we have the answer. None of the answers we have received so far are correct but have kept us amused. Do you want to know what they are used for? (see yesterday’s post if you don’t know what we’re talking about.) Julie notes “The park ranger also helped us identify the 6 or 7 little bear shaped creatures that trotted across the road about a quarter of a mile from where we were registering. They were a family of havalinas or peccary. And not a gang of little juvenile delinquent bears sneaking up on tiptoe to commit some nefarious activities in the park, as was my theory. Google them for a good look.”

Before we left the park we spotted the elusive roadrunner again, up in a tree. And the “wile e coyote” was chasing him with a camera. Julie notes “Both are cute and quirky in their own special way. I wish Brad would do his hair that way though. Speaking of cool hairdos the park ranger also helped us identify the Caracara and Turkey Vulture (previously known as ‘Slickbacked Hair Vulture Guy’and ‘Hawklike wings Raven bird’. They keep updating these names I guess.”

We unloaded the camper, in the 37C heat of the day, once we arrived at the Twin Lakes RV Park so that we can have a few things done to the vehicle before we leave. This week will be spent making our final preparations before heading south. It looks a little lonely sitting in the camper parking area. This is an older RV park that appears to cater to a lot of Winter Texans who spend the colder months in the South. There are a few locals milling around but the park is pretty deserted. Julie notes “We are trying to learn a few Spanish words from billboards and signs. Things like ‘frutas y vegetales’ were fairly obvious. Brad seemed to be having a hard time figuring out what ‘augumento la busto’ meant though as he practically ran off the road staring at the picture on the sign.”

We “hit” a bank for some US cash and made some appointments for the truck. We also met our trek guide, Norm Yelland, in the park. He drove right up to us a few minutes after arriving. We had a few discussions about the trip and started some of the required documentation and paperwork. There is another person here, from Hawaii, that is going on the trek as far as Panama. He is just traveling in his car. We haven’t had the chance to meet him yet.

Below is a map of our route from Grande Prairie, AB to McAllen, TX. It looks much different than my planner route once my navigator got her own map book. J

…not much else to report, take care all, the muleskinner and his sidekick.

Julie notes “Hmmmm not much else to report eh? I smell something funny about that statement. Oh wait! It’s a skunk I smell as guess who got skunked on our first road trip crib game. Give up? His name starts with B. If you know the answer to that, leave us a comment.”



Day 25 – A Train Runs Through It – Julie notes “Starring Brad’s Pitts and AnJulieNa not-so Jolly”

Day 25 Sunday, July 21, 2013

We left you for the night in Sanderson, TX Canyon RV Park. We were soon to discover that a railway line runs right beside the park. And because of a nearby crossing, the whistle is blown right at the campground. Can you say L-O-U-D! Thankfully, there were not too many trains during the night.

We headed south east following the US-Mexican border to Falcon Lake State Park, TX. We are about 100km from McAllen. We crossed the very scenic Pecos River. There is a very large presence of the Border Patrol agency along this stretch of highway. We were stopped at one Immigration Control point on the highway where our passports were checked. Julie Notes “Do we have any relatives down this way as the very nice border guard reminded us of cousin Matt. He was impressed with the size of Brad’s ‘unit’. I’m trying to get used to all the attention that Brad’s unit seems to draw. Women gasp and admire from afar, children point and men just come right up and touch it, walk around it, ask questions and then give me that knowing nod while Brad smiles proudly.”

A gravel trail parallels the highway and numerous 4X4 vehicles patrol back and forth. We were sometimes less than 1/2km from the US-Mexican border.

Squinting in the bright sun… Julie notes “This was the last time we got to say we were the coolest couple ‘west of the Pecos’ because this is the Pecos River we are crossing. Now we are of course the coolest couple east or maybe south of the Pecos. Luckily we are naturally cool as the temperatures were NOT! We met a nice young couple on this bridge from McAllen, Texas. They were excited and upbeat about their town and gave us ‘must see’ and ‘must eat at’ ideas.”

Border Patrol vehicle and gravel trail.

Soon to be replaced with a torrential downpour.

We stopped for a late lunch at Danny’s in Eagle Pass, TX. A Mexican franchise restaurant. It was busy with locals having brunch in their Sunday finest. Pretty good for a franchise and the portions were “healthy”. Julie notes “It soon became apparent that my grasp of the Spanish language was limited. The waitress did not want to know that ‘The turtle eats an apple.’ I promise you Alison, our daughter in law, and a Spanish teacher, that we will get serious about learning some more phrases. Melodie our granddaughter is more fluent at 2 years old ”

In Laredo, TX we passed by the very large World Trade Bridge. Julie notes “On the road we also passed ‘Harrison Ranch’ for our nephew Harrison. And we went through a little speck of a place called Dryden. And we gave a shout out to my Mom’s family who hail from Dryden, Ontario”

I stopped for fuel in Laredo. The temperature was 38C. I said to the clerk that it was pretty warm. She said “You’re not from around here, are you?” To which, I replied “No, we’re from Canada.” She said “Welcome to Hell!”. J

Our site in Falcon Lake State Park.

And finally, can someone tell us what these poles with a hanging arm are used for. We have seen variations of these in Colorado parks and now in Texas. There is one per site. We are stumped. Let us know what you think.


Julie notes “BEEP, BEEP, VAROOOOOOM! Look what we spotted and chased in the campground! The Greater Roadrunner. Kind of an uppity name for such a little guy and they apparently are not fond of the Canadian paparazzi. To add to our list of birds we have seen are the Common Hawk Feathered Ravenlike bird, the Kooky Cuckoo (not to be confused with my own domesticated Crazy as a Kuckoo for Cocoa Puffs husband) and a variety of the Invisible Bush Singing Bird. It may be a big year Alison!”

…carry on folks, the muleskinner and his sidekick “Beep, Beep!! Varoooooom!”