The Dniester River with Moldova on the left and Transnistria on the right. Photo taken December 10, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

You take the toll road, and I'll take the free road

Or something like that. Or is it the high road and the low road? Anyhow, they both get you to the same place.

Some people suggest that you always travel on the toll roads while in Mexico. But we've learned that's often not the best idea. I guess people have some kind of misguided notion that the toll roads are somehow "safer", although we don't really subscribe to that.

We've always found that the free road offers a little better scenery, although we sometimes take the toll road if it gets us around a city, or past an area where the price of the toll outweighs the quality of the free road.

And very often, the free road actually has a better quality road surface than the toll road. In Mexico, just because it's a toll road, doesn't mean that it's in good condition.

And of course, if you take the toll road you also have to pay.

The one benefit of the toll road is that you will get to your destination faster. But for us, it's about the journey, not the destination. So we're not in a rush. We like to see the scenery and sights and small towns along the way.

Some of the caravan group came out at 8:00am to say goodbye. What a fun group of people!

We left Lo de Marcos at 8:00am sharp. And then shortly after that, we crossed into the Pacific time zone, so we gained an hour. Now, it's like we left at 7:00am!

There is only one logical two lane highway option for getting out of the Puerto Vallarta area heading north. There's been talk of building a toll road from there to highway 15, and I think  it's in the works, but it's going to be several years before it's ready.

Some nice views heading up into the mountains from the coast.

You can see the road we came up on. Twisty, windy, and fairly busy.

And, you do encounter the occasional slow moving obstacle.

Or two. Quite a few passing opportunities though.

Stopped for gas along the way. Price was 13.16 pesos per litre (about $1.01 CAD per litre, or $3.00 USD per gallon). Filled it right up, for 2,220 pesos ($173 CAD) and paid with my Visa card. Most gas stations in Mexico now accept credit cards. We've only been turned down once this season and otherwise have always paid with credit card.

Once you reach the city of Tepic, you have the option of taking a free road or a toll road heading north towards Mazatan. We had done part of this route in December of 2014, so we knew that the free road is in pretty good shape.

The free road between Tepic and Mazatlan.

The free road occasionally crosses back and forth over the toll road.

Heading north, we enter the state of Sinaloa.

After we entered the state of Sinaloa, there was an agricultural inspection station. They pulled us over and the guy came inside to have a look in our fridge. He was going to confiscate an apple and two grapefruits. The apple was going soft anyhow...he could have it. But the grapefruits were fine, so Ruth asked if we could pull off to the side and eat them! No problem, he said... and so that's what we did. She put the rinds in a bag and walked over and handed them the bag when we were done. Too funny

At the town of Esquinapa, we had to head towards the coast. We almost hesitated in coming down here to Teacapan because you have to backtrack a little bit south. 40 kms (25 miles) each way. But we had never been here before, so we wanted to check it out. There are several RV Parking options along here.

Yesterday's drive, 340 kms (211 miles). 
Dont ask me why the map says 363! It's wrong.

The entire drive took 7 hours, but then we did take our time and stopped a couple of times along the way. By taking the free roads, we saved 520 pesos ($40.50 CAD) in toll fees. Of course if you're in a car, the fees are much less. But Sherman gets charged the same price as a full size bus.

We pulled in at the Color Marino Hotel and RV Park.

2 kms off the main road.

The first km is a rough dirt road.

But the second km is this! 
Better have a good look and make sure nobody is coming the other way before you begin!

Sherman, parked up at Color Marino, with a beachfront view. GPS 22.61243, -105.79139

At the end of that trail is a nice hotel compound with 62 full hookup RV sites. And nobody else in them. We're the only ones here! Great free wifi. 

You can walk for miles on the beach.

The hotel has a beautiful pool for the RV guests to use.

Sherman, enjoying the sunset last night.

We're going to stay for one more night, and go for a bike ride into town today. There are a couple of other RV options in town that we want to have a look at for future possibilities.

Then, Monday will be another driving day heading north.

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21 comments:

  1. What a great view. If you don't mind me asking what kind of price is it per night there?

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    Replies
    1. LOL...I don't know yet! The manager was out all afternoon, so we just parked up. We went back again later, and he still wasn't there. We'll check in again this morning. I would guess with full services about 250 pesos ($19.50 CAD), but we're not hooked up so it should be cheaper. If it's too much, we'll be driving out pretty quick. There are other options.

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    2. Yes, 250 pesos per night with full hookups.

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  2. What a nice spot! I just downloaded the "Good Sam" app, should be good.

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    Replies
    1. It has been a lovely spot and very, very quite and lots of birdife and some sealife. We don't have the Good Sam app, hope you find it helpful.

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  3. Beautiful area, and what a great pool for you to use.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a lovely area. We were going to use the pool yesterday but when we got back from our walk our feet didn't even want to take us over there. :-(

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  4. We took both roads the toll and the free roads. Which are much more scenic. Nice campsite.

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    Replies
    1. Free road is definitely our go to route.

      This campground is going to be getting a sprucing up over the summer and should be even nicer looking next year.

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  5. Gorgeous header photo.
    What a nice send off. Beautiful spot to enjoy the wonderful weather.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Paul and Marsha!

      Yes, it was a nice send off, it is nice to be loved. :-)

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  6. Looking forward to returning there after 10 years. Question: back then it was common to by pass Tepic by staying on the coast on 16/76 and joining 200 north of Tepic. Is that out of favor now?

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    1. We did the 16/76 route last year and the road surface was in terrible condition. Driving by the entrace at Las Varas this year, they were definitely doing repair work at that point but of course no idea how much of it they were doing. I simply decided not to risk it.

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  7. Nice spot! Has everyone already left for the season or is the place just deserted?
    You seem to be alone in many of the places you go...

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    Replies
    1. Yes, towards the end of March places are starting to empty out. Yes, many of the places we have stayed have not been busy when we've been there, however some have said they had a good season. The inland places are certainly not as busy as some of the beach places. We're glad about that!

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  8. I'd sure be inclined to stay a long time in that beautiful waterfront site with the great sunsets. I agree with you on all points about toll and free roads. I never take them unless I have to. Try the Pennsylvania Turnpike if anyone thinks a toll road is "better" or faster.

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    Replies
    1. It is a pretty area and it would be nice to stay a little longer but we have to getting moving. Maybe next time! :-)

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  9. This RV park looks wonderful!!! Rather be there than here in Cali!! Cold and cloudy today in L.A. 😁

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    1. It is quite nice but it needs some improvement and it sounds like it will be getting that over the summer.

      I hope the weather improves by the end of next week when we will be in that area!

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  10. Beautiful beach pictures. We need to get over to that side of the country for a few months.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris, it is a pretty area but we still have a problem with the bugs here and have lots of bites on us from noseeums or sand fleas not sure which!

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