13th century Cahir Castle in Cahir, Ireland.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Dublin, Ireland.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Stamullen, Ireland!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The day started off great... and went downhill from there!

What a day we had... one that we don't want to repeat.

It started off great. We left at 9:00am and had an easy drive up the toll road leading up from Valle de Bravo to the next toll highway that bypasses the north part of the city of Toluca. Lots of great scenery and blue skies. There isn't much traffic on the toll road until you get close to the city itself.

We drove for about an hour and then stopped at a gas station for a break.

Beautiful scenery, and great weather.

Hardly anybody on the toll road.

Looking in Ruth's side mirror, here comes the gang.

Toluca Volcano.

Here comes the gang.

As I said, we stopped at a big Pemex gas station and a couple of people filled up. We always try to time our stops to break up the driving day, and Tuesday's plan was to stop for gas about a third of the way through, then stop again at Zempoala National Park for lunch, then drive the last third through the busy city of Cuernavaca to arrive at the RV Park around 2:30pm.

But the plan was not going to come together.

There's always lots of stuff for sale at the side of the road.

Wooden furniture.

A farm animal market.

Huge bags of carrots for sale.

Sheepskin clothing.

It was around this point that we had our first mishap of the day. The last rig in our group is Roger and Mona. They had thankfully volunteered for the position because really, nobody wants to be last but of course somebody has to be! It makes sense in this case, because Mona's Spanish is quite good. 

Anyhow, we had made an oddball right hand turn that wasn't well marked and Mona and Roger had dropped back a bit and missed the turn. They made the necessary U turn to come back and make the turn from the other side, and made their way onto the proper route. 

A few minutes on, we heard on the radio that they were being pulled over by a motorcycle cop. 

Long story short, the cop said that they had made an incorrect turn, which was probably true. But Mona argued that they are tourists new to the area and there was no sign advising against making the turn the way they did. The cop said they were subject to a fine, which Mona agreed to pay. She said they were happy to follow him to the police station to pay the fine.

The cop said... "but, you can simply pay me the fine and I will pay it for you", or something to that effect and of course we all know what that means. Mona asked if he had some kind of receipt book, and he said no. So Mona once again asked to follow him to the police station.

The cop gave up and said "well, I guess it was an accident and I will let you go this time".

They handled the incident exactly the way they should have. Pleasant, and friendly, and playing by the rules.

Meanwhile, the group had nowhere to pull over and wait, as you can see by how narrow the road is in the following photo...

Scenery along the way.

We drove slowly to let Mona and Roger catch up a bit. The next stretch of driving took us up into the mountains between Mexico City, Toluca, and Cuernavaca to Zempoala National Park. Ruth and I did this route in February of 2012 in the reverse direction and we knew that it was steep. The road goes from 7,000' to 10,000' in a very short distance.

This route is known to have some problems. It's hard to get specific information, but suffice to say there are lots of "bad guys" around. Our friend Paco had told us that we were okay to do the drive, but not to stop anywhere along the way, and do not stay overnight at the national park... which we had done for two nights back in 2012.

We were probably near the top and about 10 kms (6 miles) from the National Park when we heard Garth on his radio... "I've lost engine power and I'm stopping the rig".

Of course that's not good... especially on a narrow twisty windy mountain road. I managed to find a spot a couple of kms ahead where the rest of the group could pull over into some grass. Aron and Owenita stayed parked up behind Garth with their flashers on.

As we were figuring out what to do, a small vehicle pulled up beside and I got out to talk to the guy. He was saying that he saw the rig with the problem and it was pretty easy to see he was part of our group. He volunteered to drive me back down to Garth and I took him up on it.

The first thing he said was that this is not a safe area. "Muchos problemas" he said.

I made it down to Garth's rig where Aron already had his code reader out checking what the engine codes were. P1518 it said... a problem with the Throttle Control Module.

We got the code reset and fired it up... only to drive a few hundred meters and have the rig shut down into low power mode again.

We ended up pulling over in a better area where he was at least a little bit off the road. We were outside figuring our options when we heard a voice from the hills. I couldn't understand what the guy was saying, because he was quite far away. But he came running down, with something in his hand. I had a quick thought that it might be a gun.

The guy approached us... a young guy, but a little sketchy looking. I noticed that it was not a gun he had (although he may have had one anyhow), but a two way radio. I explained the situation, and he told me there was a space another hundred meters or so where Garth would be totally off the road.

I could tell that this was one of the "bad guys". But he and I got along fine and we shared some small talk. I ended up shaking his hand, and at the end of it I pointed at his radio and asked with a bit of a grin if he was the security here. He replied with a smirk... "no, the opposite".

Now, what do the "bad guys" do up in these hills? No idea, but if I had to guess it's probably illegal logging and he was a lookout.

Anyhow, I explained that we were going to leave the rig because we really had no choice, and we were going to get a tow truck to pick it up later. I honestly believed the guy when he said he would watch it for us.

Garth hopped in with Aron and Owenita and we led the group to Zempoala National Park.

At the entrance, there were a bunch of military guys there. Turned to out be the Mexican National Guard. They waved us into the park entrance and we got parked up inside.

Parked up at Zempoala National Park.

Now the problem of course, is what to do with Garth's rig.

Bob and I walked up to the entrance to talk to the National Guard guys. The guy who was the boss had spent some time playing football (yes, American football) in the U.S. and spoke a bit of English.... about as good as my Spanish! He said they were there for our security and would help any way they could. In fact, they sent a truck load of guys off right away to guard the rig! Machine guns and all!

Then, a couple of state police guys drove us to the rangers office where the National Guard were stationed. We spoke to the head guy for the state police there and he got right on his radio and called a tow truck... said he would be there in half an hour from Cuernavaca.

Sure enough, the tow truck showed up and we hopped in Jim's rig to lead the tow truck back to Garth's rig.

The tow truck backing in to hook up.

The guy was all business and got the job done. 
It is not easy to hook up to a motorhome and not do any damage.

State Police watching over us.

National Guard guys watching over us too!

Of course the young bad guy was nowhere to be seen. Obviously he was up in the hills watching, but he was not about to make an appearance now!

Can't say enough good things about the National Guard guys and the Morelos State Police. They were great.

The tow truck driver said he knew of a mechanic shop, and we trusted his judgement. We didn't have any other option. Jim and I left Garth with the tow truck as they were finishing getting it hooked up, and we hurried back to the National Park. By this point, it was after 4:00pm and it starts getting dark around 6:00pm.

Stay tuned for part two of this story... the fun isn't over yet!

Valle de Bravo to Zempoala National Park

Nice price drop on the popular Amazon Fire TV Stick

And in Canada...


  1. Very eventful and exciting. Were you worried about leaving Ruth in the MH by her self?

    1. No, not at all because the rest of the group were parked right there with her.

  2. Oh man! What a day indeed. Poor Garth seems to be having a bit of bad luck with his rig on this trip. Hope this is the last of it and it gets all fixed in no time. Thank goodness for all the security afforded to you! Buena suerte el resto del viaje amigos!

    1. Garth is definitely a bit frustrated with his unit at the moment, he was just about ready to sell it to the first person that made him an offer yesterday.

      It was really nice that the National Guard and police were around to give us a hand in getting a tow truck and watching over Garth's rig when none of us were around to keep an eye on it. They were wonderful guys, very friendly and helpful. :-)

  3. Happy to hear how helpful the National Guard and Police were for you.That is a bummer for Garths MH but these things happen and it appears all went well. All part of the adventure and something to laugh about at some random campfire in the future.

    1. We can't say enough good things about them, it was nice to have them around. :-)

      Garth is definitely very frustrated with his unit at the moment but hopefully that will be the end of his issues with it and then hopefully he can relax and enjoy the rest of his trip.

      I know that we will definitely be reminiscing about this day for a long time to come. And yes, we will be laughing and joking about it.

  4. Whew! Hoping for a happy ending to this part of the story.

    1. I don't know that I would say a "happy" end to the story but it did all work out and after we got to the campground and got all of us settled into our spots and had something to eat, we did enjoy a very late happy hour. :-)

  5. From Roger and Mona, to the shady guy coming down from the hillside, to Garth's rig, all in all everything worked out. Thank goodness!!! The Angels are watching out for all of you, could have been a much worse. Only smooth sailing forward.... Nice you had so many kind, helpful people.

    1. Yes, it did all work out but definitely not so much for Garth, he really did have a lousy spot for his rig to be dropped off by the mechanics shop right beside a very busy and noisy road. We are so glad that we seem to have the problem fixed now, so with fingers crossed we are hoping for problem free days ahead. :-)

      We can't say enough about all the people that have helped us through these last couple of days, even the "bad guy" was a good guy! :-)

  6. Kevin I hope I'm wrong on this part. but if you think back on automotive starters 101 where did they get their power and how they work The mechanic it doesn't sound logical
    I would be more interested to look at your present altitude and your. Clean air intake / sensors
    Also you might want to think (read )back when Al from the Bayfield bunch we're going through the Arizona Higher elevation mountain had the same issue as your buddy Which was his clear air intake sensor It was a seven dollar fix
    Some of those sensors don't like high-altitude lack of air
    That's just my two cents worth

    1. Yes, we also thought about the altitude causing the problem, however it seems that what the mechanic did has fixed it. I never would have though it would be that simple, but electronics and computers and sensors can go whacky due to a basic electrical problem.


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