Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Road Less Traveled


1. Zacatecas 2.Marty coming into Mazatlan 3.and 4 In the mountains east of El Salto 5.Fritz on the Devil’s Spine 6. Other Ferry at La Paz. 7 Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez

It is Thanksgiving Day and Marty and I are in Zacatecas. Zacatecas? Yeah- Zacatecas. It is somewhat difficult to explain, but we ended up here on a whim, and it turned out to be a good decision.

Our week started last Sunday when we boarded the Chihuahua Star in La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. It is a giant ferry and dwarfed the one we had taken the previous Monday. The big decision of the day was whether we spent 760 pesos for a cabin, or tried to sleep in the general section. The cost of a room translated to about $60. What a great decision. I would recommend the ferry to any traveler. It was a 16 hr trip to Mazatlan and we were very comfortable.

When we arrived in Mazatlan we had a tentative plan to ride to Durango. Why? Because we have some time and it was an interesting destination. As we were reading the Lonely Planet tour book we noted a sentence in the very end of the explanation about Durango. What it said was that about100 km west of Durango there was a portion of highway 40 called “ Devils Spine”. We figured that we would pull into Durango about 4 and find a room. So when we arrived at the sign that said “Durango Libre” or “Durango Corte” we took the libre. Mexico has free roads and toll roads. The corte was the short route. We took the free route. As we rode into the Sierra Madre Mountains I commented to Marty about how big they looked from our sea level vantage point.

The Devils Spine started about 10 km up the road. For the next 6 hrs we drove on the continual curves. During the first hour I thought this would be a great place to bring a group. By the 4th hour I decided that was a bad idea as the tension of negotiating terrifying curves mounted. Did I tell you about the animals and semis on the road as well? By the 6th hour I was just happy that the road started to flatten out. I would never bring a group on the road. The scenery was spectacular as we rode along the shear cliffs and the 4000 ft straight drop. We would have taken pictures except there was no shoulder, just the shear drop, and turn outs were dangerously rock strewn as well.

We made only 100 km (65 miles that day) we spent the night in El Salto, 100 km from Durango. The countryside could have passed for the Black Hills of South Dakota. El Salto was high and cold. So we had come from the tropics to 7200 ft and a freezing night in one day..

On Tuesday we pulled into Durango about noon. It is a real city of 500,000 people, but not much to do. So we rested and decided to come to Zacatecas. Zacatecas is the most un-Mexican place we have visited. It is a cross between Salzburg Austria and Andalusia in Spain. There are so many parks and plazas with high end shops. I found our hotel by way of a reference from another adventure motorcyclist on a web site. So as I type this I am sitting next to the motorcycles parked in the hotel lobby. The hotel owner has his bike parked here as well. So they are not out of place at all. Great Hotel- Hotel Ruiz, Ave Juarez 222, Centro Zacatecas. 200 pesos per night per person about $35 for 2 persons.

Marty and I have resolved to lighten our load. The grind of putting all our camping gear on the bikes each morning and unloading each afternoon is getting to us. We have not used the gear once. In fact, I am now trying to figure out what clothing I can also do without. So when we get to Guadalajara next week we plan to find the UPS store and send home about 20 lbs of gear.


The Henry Zoo said...

We're loving your updates and keep checking in to find out what the adventuring Sampsons are up to.

Lightening your load sounds like a good idea -- sounds like graceful simplicity in practice.

Abrazos de lejos!

Jordan said...

Marty, I remember doing the same thing on the Appalachian Trail...sending all my motorcycle gear home :)

Ha ha...hope all is well. Keep enjoying the experience.