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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And in Canada...eight blue ray DVD movies, for $4 a piece...