A calm morning on Lago Avandaro near Valle de Bravo, Mexico, Mexico.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Valle de Bravo, Mexico, Mexico.

Where are they going next? Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year in Review, and 2020 Preview

Wow, what a year we had!

We were on 21 different airplanes and we were in 7 different countries... bringing our total countries visited to 38.

We began 2019 in Mexico leading an RV Caravan group. We were with them for the months of January, February, and March.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Whiskey's tree, and Mazamitla for lunch

Yesterday was a bit of a cool, overcast day with a high of only 17C (63F). Things look back to normal today though with sunshine and 22C (72F) in the forecast.

In the morning, a bunch of us walked over to the old Hacienda Contreras campground. It's only just down the road from where we are staying now. We spent a lot of time there between our first visit in March of 2009, and our last stay there in March 2016.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Market day in Valle de Juarez

Saturday is market day here in Valle de Juarez, so around 9:00am yesterday we all headed into town. We were still early enough that some stalls weren't yet finished setting up... but they were quite happy to sell to you anyhow. Besides, we wanted the best selection of fruits and veggies, which is why we were going in the first place.

I've mentioned this before... market stalls in Canada and the U.S. tend to be overpriced artsy fartsy "organic" events. But here in Mexico, the local weekly market is where you go to get the best produce, and at the best prices.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

We were due for some exercise!

Absolutely perfect day for a hike yesterday. Lots of blue sky and sunshine, with a high temperature of about 22C (72F).

On the other side of the small lake here at Valle de Juarez there is a hill with a cross on the top. The locals call it "Picachu". Ruth and I have been to the top two or three times in the past, but we had always gone with the group from Hacienda Contreras when it was open, and every time we had got a drive about half way up and hiked from there.

This time, we decided to hike from the campground, a one way distance of about 8.5 kms (5.3 miles).

Friday, December 27, 2019

Shrimp tacos and a view

We can't seem to get enough of the shrimp taco place near here. Yesterday was another lunch visit... our third time since we arrived here 5 days ago! And I just know that we will be going again. Yesterday, I tried their shrimp and cheese empanada... and I found it even better than the shrimp tacos!

Mona and Roger have two of their kids visiting, so they have taken off to another town for a few days to do some exploring on their own. So our group is down to 12, however friends Heinz and Uli are spending some time with us so we are usually back up to 14 anyhow!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Perfect Christmas Day weather...

We had a nice relaxing Christmas Day. And the weather was perfect... highs of around 22C (72F). The day started off sunny with cloudy periods, but by mid afternoon, it had changed to cloudy with sunny periods. Still, it was perfect Christmas Day weather in our opinion.

The group planned a Christmas Day brunch starting at 11:00am. That gave everybody some time to do their own thing for the morning.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas from Mexico!

We had a great Christmas Eve yesterday!

It started off with a stop at the shrimp taco place again where everybody enjoyed an early lunch. Then we did a long walk through the town of Mazamitla to the waterfall. Ruth and I have been there five or six times before, but it's always fun to show it off to new people.

Then in the evening, we had a party!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Off to the dentist!

We haven't been to a dentist in Canada for over 12 years. We've had a fair bit of work done in Mexico though... and have saved thousands of dollars as a result. We found one dentist that we're really happy with, and she is located here in the farming town of Valle de Juarez.

And because her English is quite good, we recommended her to our caravan group. So a few months ago I made appointments for most of us.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day- Etzatlan to Valle de Juarez

We got an early start on Sunday and left Delia's Trailer Park in Etzatlan at 8:00am. We only had to drive 210 kms (130 miles), but we know how long it takes to get anywhere in Mexico, and especially when we would be taking the back roads the whole way.

And, we wanted to arrive before 2:00pm. Our friends Barb and Sal had told us that the church was doing a fundraiser and there would be a fiesta going on with lots of inexpensive homemade local food.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas in Etzatlan

 Saturday was a dull day with a few showers. Most of the group went into town, but Ruth was doing some baking so we stayed behind to look after the fort. I managed to get the balance of the Texas grime washed off of Sherman.

When we had arrived in Texas in November, Sherman had been sitting since April. It's amazing the accumulation of dirt on the exterior. I had got the windows and the passenger side done early on, but had never got to doing the driver side and the back end.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Afternoon entertainment, followed by steaks for dinner

Friday started off overcast, and we had a few light showers throughout the day. So we didn't plan anything other than going into town to the butcher. Everybody wanted to cook steaks over the fire, so we put in a big order at the local butcher and a few of us walked over to pick it up.

Most of us wanted rib eye. It's not normal in Mexico to cut them thick... thin is much more common here. So if you want them thick, you pretty much have to specifically ask for that.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Saw some interesting things yesterday!

We took the group for a hike up to the big cross overlooking the town of Etzatlan yesterday.

We were up there last March when we were here, but back then we hiked past the cross another couple of kilometers. This time, some of us decided to go further than that. Then, we came back to town and met up with the rest of the group for lunch.

We saw some interesting things along the way!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tequila!

We are located only 45 kms (28 miles) from the town of Tequila... made famous by the drink of the same name. But the town of Tequila is a bit touristy and most of the distilleries there charge a hefty fee for their tours. We prefer the group to see something a little more authentic.

There is a long bike path on the other side of the highway from the RV Park. Many of the group have bicycles with them, so we hopped on the bikes and rode the 10 kms (6 miles) or so over to the Destiladora Agave Azul Tequila Distillery.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Tepic to Etzatlan

On Tuesday, we did the drive from Tepic to Etzatlan.

We planned to leave Los Pinos RV Park in Tepic right at 9:00am, but before we could do that we had to pay the bill. Normally, we pay when we arrive. But at that time, there was only a cleaning lady there and she said she had called the manager. But he never arrived, only the maintenance caretaker guy. He had come over and gave us the wifi password, but he never asked us to pay, and I didn't think he was the guy we were supposed to pay.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The city Of Tepic, Nayarit... and a minor repair job!

Yesterday was a day off for the group. We are here in the city of Tepic (pop around 500,000). The city itself is nothing special, but we are just taking a rest day on our way to Etzatlan.

Most gringos don't visit Tepic, even though it's the capital of the state of Nayarit. Located only 170 kms (105 miles) or so from the popular beach areas at and around Puerto Vallarta, most tourists from Canada and the U.S. head directly there.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Mazatlan to Tepic

We had an 8:30am start from Isla de la Piedra near Mazatlan yesterday. It was about a 300 km (182 mile) drive, and we planned to take the free road the entire way.

Mexico has a toll highway system, but where there is a toll highway, there is almost always a corresponding free route. Most of the toll highways are very expensive, but they usually save you driving time. The toll highway fees also include break down assistance should you have any trouble.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I think we need to change our plans

We crossed the border into Mexico 4 weeks ago today.

Time is going by far too quickly! I think we need to change our plans. Maybe we should extend the trip by a month or so!? If we do one of these trips again, we need to make it six months! Especially when we are fortunate enough to have such a great group of people. It's difficult to get 14 people together who all get along without any apparent personality clashes, but it seems that is what we have this year.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

November Expenses

I know, this is a little late! I usually try to post our expenses right after the end of the month but we had bought quite a few things from Amazon before we left Texas and I never got around to converting them to $CAD until now.

November was quite expensive, partly due to travel costs, and partly due to stocking up for four and a half months in Mexico. Of course that will all come out in the wash over that period of time.

We spent $4,152 CAD ($3,150 USD) in November...

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Mexiquillo to Mazatlan. The Devil's Backbone highway

In 2014, they opened a new toll highway through the mountains from Durango to Mazatlan. We have done that highway before. But the old narrow curvy road that was built around 1960 is still there. And we have done that one twice before.

We decided to take the group on the old curvy road. It's much slower going than the new road, but the new toll road is very expensive. They both have spectacular views.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Last day in the mountains

Just a relax day for the group yesterday, but "relax" doesn't necessarily mean "do nothing"! And so most of the group got out to get some fresh air and exercise.

Ruth and I set off at just after 10:00am to do some exploring. This place has so much natural beauty, and so many different trails to explore that we could spend a week here.

How You Could Travel With $1000 a Day For Life?

The world is a big and beautiful place. The problem is, most of us cannot afford to visit all the places we would like to. Some people are born into money, but most aren’t.

When you have the freedom of money, you can arrange for your life to travel with you. Technology can transfer everything to where you are. This is true for your perfect measurements for alterations measurements, to your prescriptions and your education transcripts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The light at the end of the tunnel

Another perfect day yesterday. Sunshine, clear blue sky, and a high of about 15C (60F). We are at 8400' altitude, so that's why it's not warmer. But, it's perfect weather for getting out and being active.

So we planned a morning bike ride. Not everybody in the group has bicycles with them, but we still managed to get 6 of us out there on the trail.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Durango to Mexiquillo

We planned on a 9:00am start, but Garth (rig #4) has been having a problem with his automatic park brake. It was decided that he would disconnect the system, which is actually a fairly simple thing to do and we were on the road by 9:30am or so.

We took the periferico (ring road) north of Durango City and avoided any traffic issues. We were soon headed up into the mountains on the free road towards Mazatlan and the western coast.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A good day in the city of Durango, Mexico

On Sunday, we took the group into the city of Durango (pop 700,000).

Our host Eduardo here at the Balneario San Juan (24.054335, 104.545167) has been really helpful, bending over backwards to make sure that we have everything we need. He organized a 14 passenger van to take us into the city and back for 1,000 pesos ($69 CAD, $52 USD). Divided by 14 people, that's a good deal for the convenience alone.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A productive day, followed by a soak in the hot pool

We were all due for a day off to do our own thing and we think that everybody enjoyed doing just that!

We have full access to the pools here at Balneario San Juan so quite a few people took advantage of that throughout the day. I saw quite a few of our group getting laundry done at 20 pesos ($1.40 CAD, $1.05 USD) per load to use the washing machine here. Stuff dries so quickly in the sun that you don't need a clothes dryer.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Long travel day with a few encounters with the police

Yesterday was one of the longer travel days on our route... from Canutillo to Durango city, a distance of 342 kms (212 miles) with some road construction. We left Canutillo just after 8:00am, and arrived at Balneario San Juan on the outskirts of the city of Durango at just after 3:00pm.

A long day, but we took a few breaks along the way. A couple of our breaks were forced on us by police and military checks.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Parral to Canutillo

We planned a late start at 10:00am because it was only an 80 km (50 mile) or so drive on relatively straight roads. Everybody in this group is always ready to go ahead of schedule and it seems like it's Ruth and I who are the last ones ready, even though we are also on time!

We were already at the south east corner of Parral, so we didn't have to drive through the city to get out. We were quickly on a nicely paved road heading south towards Durango.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Touring Parral, Chihuahua

On Wednesday, with clear sunny skies and a forecast high of 25C (77F), we walked from the hotel parking lot to the center of Parral, a distance of about 4 kms (2.7 miles) one way. Mostly downhill.

The city of Parral is known best for two things... a silver mine that was discovered in 1630, and the famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Guachochi to Parral

On Tuesday, we did another driving day. We originally had two nights penciled in for Guachochi, but we're trying to get back on schedule due to the rain we had in Creel last week. However, if we do this trip again, we need to schedule more time at both Copper Canyon and Guachochi. There is a lot to see there, including another section of the canyon at Guachochi that not many people visit.

We set off at 9:00am, once again under clear blue skies.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Mexico RV Caravan Travel Day - Creel to Guachochi

Ruth and I are kind of recreating a route that we did in January of 2015... but in reverse. So while it's all new for the group, it's kind of new for us as well because we're seeing it in the opposite direction!

Monday's route we knew would be special. Hardly anybody goes this way... for whatever reason. But especially not tourists from Canada and the United States. The odd thing is that the route includes amazing scenery. As one of the group said at a rest stop... "you have really outdone yourselves this time!"

Perfect day for a hike in the Copper Canyon

If we do another one of these Mexico trips, we will need to spend a week just at the Copper Canyon. Everyone totally enjoyed it, and of course it makes it all the better when there is perfect weather.

Sunday we took advantage of the perfect weather to do a 10 km (6 mile) hike into the canyon. But we also had to walk to the trail head, and back from the return gondola to the motorhomes. I think in total we probably did 15 kms (9.5 miles).

Sunday, December 1, 2019

How many times can you say "Wow"!?

We used that word a lot yesterday. "Wow"! Not only did we use it, we heard it from the rest of the group too!

Five years ago, Ruth and I did the world's longest zipline here at the Copper Canyon. We've got a pretty adventurous group with us, so we figured some of them might want to try it too! Turns out that eight of our group of fourteen signed their life away and took the plunge!