Jan 23 Saturday
Up early, getting everything stowed, so we could leave as soon as the road service tech was finished. Oh, that's right, I haven't posted for a few days so everyone is behind on the news. We left Quartzsite on Wednesday afternoon because the weather reports were indicating a really big storm was on its way. Spent the next two nights at Augie's Quail RV Park in Gila Bend where we experienced wind driven rain that was actually leaking in the coach around the windows on the wind side. Highest gust we recorded was 55.1 mph. Sustained winds were 44.8. Also the campground power was out for most of Thursday night.
Yesterday we drove down to drove down Ajo to pick up our Mexico liability insurance policies and spend the night before heading out this morning. While I was setting up after arrival I heard an unusual noise which I traced to this.
We hadn't intended to add anything to the coach, but somewhere in the last few miles we had picked up this bolt. In a conspiracy of road, bolt and tire, it was laying in the perfect direction, the groove of the tire manged to hit it dead center and it was the exact length to rotate upwards and puncture the tire. It wasn't a devastating puncture leading to huge blowout, instead it was a slow leak. All in all it was a bad news, good news situation. The bad news was the flat, the good news was we were in a RV Park instead of out along the road in a location where we couldn't pull off to the side of the highway.
Given that it was a front tire, we opted to have a new tire installed and the old one repaired to use as a spare during our Alaskan trip this summer. It's one of those: we could have tried to find a tire, driven to Yuma or Phoenix to pick it up and then had the road service install it situations. We decided that we would just let them do it all and look at the cost as one of those things that seem to happen at least once every year. Coach-Net pays for the road service call, we pay for the new tire and mounting.
We've passed by trucks alongside the road having a tire changed, but this was our first experience with the larger tires. One thing that became quickly clear, you need the right tools to do the job.
The entire dismounting of the old tire and mounting of the new tire was done without use of power tools other than the air wrench for the lug nuts. It was also very apparent this was something the fellow changing the tire had more than just a little experience at doing.
The offending metallic piece shown in Linda's hand. A half inch shorter or a half inch to the right or left from where it was laying in the road and it would have been either thrown out or knocked aside with no tire damage. I believe this falls within the category of "the vicissitudes of daily life".
In all it took about 75 minutes from the time he arrived until we were ready to hookup the Explorer and leave. The road south of Ajo is not the best, and it was a little worse than usual this day. The torrential rains we had experienced up in Gila Bend had obviously been felt down here also. As we drove along, we would see evidence that the dry washes had filled with water and water had flowed across the road. This was just in a few places and you could tell it hadn't been very bad, since there were no washouts of the dirt alongside the road, and it looked merely like some muddy water had stood on the road for a while.
We stopped in Lukeville as we usually do, and walked down to the grocery store, hoping to buy a few last minute things before crossing the border. We were surprised to see a closed sign on the door, but since what we might have bought wouldn't have been absolutely needed anyway, it wasn't a big deal.
We tested the CB radios, then headed out to cross the border.
It wasn't the same as the other times we crossed as you can tell from the activity going on. It seems the torrential rains had done a real number south of the border, starting right at the border crossing itself. That wasn't all that was different, because for the first time ever we were told to pull over for a closer look by the Mexican Border agents. The young agent, after telling us in very broken English that she didn't speak much English, took a look from the front of the coach into the inside, then went outside, where we ended up opening up every compartment. In the end we were waved on with no problem, but it was certainly different than any of our previous crossings.
John and Judy must have looked a lot more honest than we did, because their experience was a quick look inside the coach by the agent, a comment on how nice their coach looked, and a wave to pass us by while we continued to open doors. Once we were on the road, we took the lead from John, who had pulled over to wait just past the crossing. It wasn't long before we were seeing more signs of flooding, as this photo suggests.
Once through the towns near the border and out on the open road, the extent of the flooding became even more apparent. In some places the damage was quite extensive, with the road covered with nearly a foot or more of mud, as was the case here.
Often only one lane was open and flaggers were stationed to control traffic. There was one stretch where the asphalt berm of the road had been swept away, but nowhere did we see the travel lanes themselves having been damaged other than covered with mud or other debris. There were stretches where the road had already been plowed, as in mud plowed, and they were busy pushing it further away from the travel lanes.
It took several hours, partly because of the road conditions, and partly because the highest speed limit on the road is only 90 km/hr, but at last we were in Puerto Penasco, and then at Playa Bonita RV Park which will be our home for the next month.
To the accompaniment of a fabulous sunset, we walked up to the nearby restaurant for our first meal on foreign soil since we left England in July. We had thought that the buffet we have enjoyed in the past would be open, but thinking back to just how few RVs there are in the park, it stood to reason that it wasn't, and indeed, it wasn't. Maybe next week when the first of the post Quartzsite caravans arrive it will be. It really didn't matter because the two dollar margaritas helped overcome any pain the lack of a buffet may have inflicted.
To top it all off, we each enjoyed some very good flan for desert.
Then to even further top it off, while John and Linda had coffee, Judy and I each had a Mexican coffee, which is a show in itself. Think crystallized sugar around the rim of a heated glass, pieces of orange peel, flaming Kahlua and Tequila, sparklers from cinnamon, ice cream, chocolate bits and coffee topped with cherries. Put it all together with a master bit of showmanship, and it is dessert drink worth waiting for.
The day may not have started out the best, what with a bolt in the tire, but it sure ended on a good note, what with a bolt of fire poured into a glass. Life's twists and turns, better to enjoy them than sit on the sidelines. Meaning that we are glad we pay no attention to those who tell us that we shouldn't go to Mexico. Manana.