Friday the 13th
The furnace felt really good this morning. It was flat chilly when I got up at around 7:00. Had it nice and toasty by the time Lulu got up at around 8:00. The park attendant from the school came around to collect our voluntary fees around 8:30 or so. I think he might have just been out hanging around until he sees someone up and about because he had already collected from the big Class A motorhome and they left at least an hour before I stepped outside. But, I was no sooner outside than he drove up. Very pleasant guy. We talked a bit (his English was excellent). I ended up giving him $150 pesos. Seemed fair to me. We paid $160 in Guerrero Negro with all the hookups including weak wifi, and $150 in El Rosario with the same. So, $150 was actually generous, considering, but, since the proceeds went to the school for the deaf, it seemed fair. I suspect I gave him less than he got from the other two campers as they were heading south and didn’t have any experience with Mexican RV park prices to compare to. Or maybe they’re just not as miserly as I am. Ah well, they said in their handout to pay what we thought was fair based on our experience with RV parks in Mexico. And I did.
The drive to the border was absolutely beautiful. The countryside is rocky and desolate but it was also very pretty. The road climbed way up and then dropped way down. But it was good road all the way. No checkpoints and no construction. We stopped partway along the way to fill the auxiliary tank with gas. No gauge on it so I was guessing but I was pretty sure it wasn’t down much. Sure enough, the attendant only managed to get a little over 7 gallons in it. Speaking of the attendant, the Pemex gas pumpers seem to have a new thing they do. First in El Rosario, and then in Ensenada as well as wherever this place was that we stopped today, the attendant made a point of showing me that the pump read all zeroes before he started pumping gas. Apparently one of the ploys that dishonest pumpers used to pull was to start pumping before the driver got a chance to see the pump. Often, it hadn’t been zeroed so he’d get to pay for a bunch of gas that he didn’t get. Drivers are advised to have locking gas caps and to unlock them themselves to alleviate this practice. We have and we do. I don’t know whether Pemex sent down a directive or if some of the more honest guys were getting tired of being accused of cheating. Whichever, it’s a good practice.
Once in Tecate, we had to ignore Dora as she kept trying to send us to Tijuana to cross the border. Weird chick! We found the crossing ourselves, with the help of some signs, and got in line at 10:40 AM. It took us until about 11:25 to get to the Customs window. I was expecting to be treated brusquely and somewhat rudely as I had been on previous crossings. You know, treated like a criminal. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Customs agent was a young woman of hispanic descent. She could not have been nicer. We chatted a bit about Baja and we urged her to go see La Paz sometime. She asked if we had any fruits or vegetables and we ‘fessed up that, yes, we did have a mango, some limons, some grapes, a couple bananas, some celery and an onion. She said that the mango was forbidden and maybe the limons. She called the secondary inspection guy and told him to expect us. She stressed to him that we had voluntarily declared the fruit. We drove around the back and parked and waited. There were maybe 5 rigs back there. There were a couple of Customs guys but it wasn’t evident that they were actually doing anything. One or the other would hang out in their little guard shed while we all just sat and waited. Once they both went over and talked to a guy in a Ford Ranger pickup. There was lots of arm-waving and directional gesturing but once they were done, the guy continued to sit there and they retired to their shack again. Another agent approached us from behind. Looking at Flipper, he said, I almost bought one of these a couple of times. I said he should have and he said the price and condition of the ones he’d looked at always put him off. I told him to quit looking in southern California and to look in Oregon and Washington instead. He took our mango, deemed our limons too old to be a problem and gave them back and then disappeared for a few minutes. When he returned, he gave us a form that told us what was allowed to be brought into the US from Mexico, wished us safe travels and sent us on our way. The guy in the Ranger was still sitting there and the other two agents were still in their shack. Our border crossing, from the time we got into the line until we were out on the road was right at one hour. About what I expected.
We decided to head over to I-5 and then take 5 up to 99 and stay on 99 until we got past the San Francisco Bay Area, when we would head over to 101 and on up to Oregon. The drive from the border to the interstate complex was very pretty. Saw some little unincorporated towns that I had no idea even existed. Very pretty. But then we hit the freeways. OMG! I can’t believe that anyone who lives and works in the LA-San Diego area and has to drive on these freeways everyday lives past the age of 45 without either killing themselves or someone else or just blowing a gasket and dying. It’s horrible! When I’m away from these freeways for awhile I forget and tell myself that “it can’t really be that bad.” WRONG! It’s worse!! Speed up, slow down, come to a stop, crawl along, speed up, come to a stop, start again, slow down, speed up, crawl along. Cars whizzing past when they can, forcing themselves into impossibly small spaces between other cars (actually, you have to do that if you’re ever going to change lanes – like nature abhorring a vacuum, so it is with southern California drivers and an empty half-car length between cars). It’s all incredibly stressful. I just picked my lane, usually the second one in from the right, and stayed there as much as I could while still getting where I was going. It became very evident that there was no way we would make it anywhere close to Bakersfield, or even get through the greater LA sprawl before dark. So, we opted for an RV park in Anaheim. All the amenities except that the showers/bathrooms are closed from 9:00 PM until 8:00 AM and there’s no wifi. And all for the budget price of ~$45 (including tax). Let’s see, that would be, HOLY CRAP! That would be $571 pesos. Damn, I should have given the deaf school more money.
But, we’re hunkered in for the night and so glad to be off the freeway. I’m hoping that, tomorrow being Saturday, I-5 will be less intense. Anyway, we’re only going as far as Bakersfield tomorrow so it should be an easy day. I think we’re going to sleep in on Sunday morning and hit the brunch at the Buck Owens Crystal Palace before heading on to Stockton. But that’s a story for another day.
PS: no photos because I’m writing this as a text document that I’ll paste into WordPress when we get a decent wifi connection.