Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hiking in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A few glitches along the way!

Yesterday was a travel day for us. In fact, it was our first travel day with our motorhome Sherman in over two years! And we were pretty excited.

I was a little concerned about Sherman's engine battery though. I had a feeling it needs to be replaced.

But, I have one of those portable rechargeable booster packs so I figured we would be okay even if we had battery problems.

We learned a long time ago that when we travel with the motorhome, we always have a plan that says we can be parked up at our next location by 2:00pm at the latest. That way, if you do end up having problems, you have a few hours time to fix those problems. Also, we don't like travel days any longer than 200 kms (124 miles) or so. You'd figure that would only take two or three hours on the highway, but this is Mexico. You can't get anywhere fast in Mexico, especially driving a motorhome.

It was 9:00am by the time we pulled out and got on the road. Sure enough, Sherman needed the booster pack to get going. We stopped just down the road at Hacienda Contreras to do a favor for a friend, and I should not have shut off the engine. Five minutes later, he needed the booster pack again.

We had 1/4 tank of fuel, but it made sense to stop for more and there's an easy station to get in and out of only about 10 kms away. We pulled in there and the pumps were closed. We never asked, but they probably ran out. The only other option nearby was in the town of Mazamitla itself. We knew we could get the motorhome in there, but it's at a pretty busy intersection. We decided to do it.

It wasn't actually that busy, and we pulled right in. We put in 1,000 pesos ($88.00) worth of fuel, at 12.5 pesos per litre ($1.10 per litre, or $4.00 per gallon).

Went to start Sherman to drive away from the pumps, and sure enough I needed the booster pack again.

Now, this little booster pack had already started Sherman twice this morning and it was getting weak too! There was simply not enough juice left to turn over that big 454 engine.

So now, we're blocking a pump at a busy gas station and we need a boost! I walked over to a nearby garage and borrowed a cheap set of homemade booster cables. I honestly didn't think they were going to work because they looked so flimsy! But I hooked them up, and asked a guy next to me at the pumps if he would give us a boost. "No problem", he said, and we hooked things up and Sherman fired right up.

Finally, on the road! By now, it was 10:00am, and we had driven a total of 10 kms (6 miles)!

The funny things you see in Mexico. This is actually a pedestrian bridge built for employees of a greenhouse that has operations on both sides of the highway. Not sure how the truck got up there.

Coming down the hill towards Lake Chapala.

Lots of fruit greenhouses in this area.

We decided on a different route to avoid a very congested town on the shore of Lake Chapala. We took a road that we had checked out with the little blue car when we had it here at the end of 2012.

We knew that this detour wasn't in the best of shape, but while it had been okay with the little blue car, it was actually quite slow going with the motorhome. But, we made it through okay and it was 11:30am by the time we pulled onto the toll highway leading north towards Guadalajara.

Happy to be on the road again!

The toll highway is in great condition.

Even had the cruise control on for most of it!

We knew that we would have to pay a toll, and Mexican toll highways can be pretty expensive. Still, it was only a 40 km (25 mile) distance so we didn't think it would be too bad.

We were wrong.

The toll for that short distance was 184 pesos ($16.20).

It was certainly the easiest part of our drive, but not worth that kind of money! So, lesson learned. Next time, we will go the same congested route through that little town on the lower shore of Lake Chapala!

We stopped in the town of Tala where there is a Bodega Aurrera (owned by Wal-mart) store. It was on the opposite side of a divided main street going through town, and not easy to get in to. So I pulled over on our side of the road and we walked across to stock up on things.

At the same time, I hooked up our booster battery pack to the solar charging system to give it a quick charge while we were in the store. Still, it took a while and wasn't charged enough by the time we were finished. We sat and waited another half hour, and then got Sherman fired up again.

You're not really in Mexico unless there's a dog barking, a rooster crowing, or somebody is burning something!

The rest of the drive was uneventful, but it was still 3:00pm by the time we pulled into Delia's Trailer Park in Etzatlan.

We had been here for a week in November of 2011 and really enjoyed ourselves. Our host Bonnie came out to greet us, but she was on her way to work so it was just a quick chat. We're looking forward to catching up with her over the next week that we're here.

There are four friendly dogs here on the property, so we'll get a good dog fix while we're here too!

Sherman, parked up at Delia's Trailer Park in Etzatlan.

Yesterday's drive, 213 kms (132 miles).


  1. Only once (knock on wood) did I have have that moment when the motorhome wouldn't start when I turned the key. Turns out the battery was fine, but the "nut at the wheel" hadn't tightened the terminals as much as was needed. Silly bunt.
    Sorted that out, and she fired right up. That was one time when we were underway, but I would sometimes have issues in the springtime after sitting all winter, but I remember one time it was the connection at the starter. A bit of corrosion. Such fun to crawl around under there. Not.
    Glad you weren't stranded anywhere. Gotta have those back up systems in place for every eventuality.

    1. Kevin thought that it might have been a loose terminal as well but it looks like it wasn't. The battery is getting pretty old so I think that it has just worn itself out. Other than at the gas station it really wasn't a problem but at the gas station we felt like we were in the way, which we were but nobody seemed to mind. :-)

  2. Don't you have a switch that ties your house batteries to your chassis battery to start the engine? Every motor home I owned had one of these booster switches.

    1. The switch is still there, but for whatever reason, it was disconnected before I owned it. I never bothered searching to see what the problem is with it, and really have never needed it until now. New battery coming up!

  3. That was close! Hope the battery prices in Mexico are good.

    1. I guess we will find out in the next few days, you can be guaranteed that Kevin will find the best price that he can though!

  4. Kevin, you look good driving Sherman again. Ruth, I imagine that the co-pilot seat felt pretty comfy and cozy too!!

    1. Yes, Doug and Nancy we were both nice and comfy, didn't really feel like we were away as long as we were. I think Sherman was happy to get out on the road too!

  5. You will be able to get batteries in PV for the same cost as in Canada. You do look good in that drivers seat.

    1. Thanks Contessa, but I think we are going to need a battery before we get to Puerto Vallarta. Kevin does look good there doesn't he?!

  6. I've had the occasions to use the booster switch 3 or 4 times. They are easy to get working and can save a lot of grief. Surely do enjoy your blog site. I read it every day. We are fulltimers , our blog is called Rolling Earthquake. Hope we can cross paths somewhere down the road.

    1. Hi Charlie and Heather, thanks for taking the time to comment. Kevin will have a look at that booster switch over the next few days to see if he can get it working but it won't be an easy job.

      Thanks for the link and hopefully we can cross paths down the road in the future.

  7. Wow you have the patience of Job. I guess you'll know how to get a battery in Mexico since you've been there so often and so long. Congrats on getting to your destination given the situation. :-)

    1. Getting a battery in Mexico is as easy as getting a battery in the USA or Canada. It helps if you can speak a little Spanish but I am sure even if you couldn't you could still buy one without any major issues. It's funny how Kevin can have the patience for some things but not for others.

  8. Sure is nice to be on the road again, get that new battery and you will be good to go.

    1. Wow, we are so enjoying traveling in Sherman again, too bad it is only for a month or so!


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