5/22/2014 – Back in the USA

Santa Ana, Sonora, MX to Ajo, AZ: 202 miles, about 5 hours

total mileage since San Carlos: 395

Got a nice early start today.  Left Santa Ana at 7:20.  Of course I got up at 5:15.  Skipped breakfast other than some pineapple, mango juice and coffee.  yesterday evening I kicked around several options for today’s trip.  Finally settled on one and ended up in a different place anyway.

I had debated whether to cross the border at Nogales or Sonoyta.  But, in the end, Organ Pipe National Monument seemed like the best place to stop today so, Sonoyta it was.  The trip to Sonoyta went very smoothly.  No cops.  Listened to podcasts of This American Life, Stuff You Should Know, and Freakonomics Radio to pass the time.  The landscape between Santa Ana and Sonoyta is not really all that interesting.  Once I got to Sonoyta, I pulled over and shot Lulu an e-mail because, as soon as I cross the border my Telcel Banda Ancha hookup won’t work anymore and there’s no wifi at Organ Pipe.

Then it was on to Customs.  Looked really good going in.  There were 2 lines open with three cars (including me) in each line.  Took me only a couple of minutes to get to the booth but then things slowed down.  Why is it that so many Customs officers feel it is their job to make law-abiding US citizens feel like criminals for trying to come back into our own country?  It’s degrading.  And it’s hard to pin down any one thing.  The tiny little girl with the big gun asked me the usual, “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “How long were you in Mexico?” “Do you have anything to declare?”  But then she expanded with things like “How long have you owned this vehicle?” “Have you had any work done on it?” “What is your occupation?” “What was your occupation before you retired?” “Why did you choose to come across the border at Sonoyta instead of Nogales?”  All these questions are asked in a way that make me feel like she’s trying to trip me up about something.  Anyway, I answered all her questions, they did a walk-around inspection and then directed me to the search area.

She takes her sweet time coming all the way over from her booth to the search area and then proceeds to say things like, “I’m going to ask you again, is this your vehicle?”  Huh?  Like she knows something and is giving me a chance to confess.  She asked again about anything to declare.  I told her that I had 2 unopened bottles of tequila from Mexico and an open bottle of rum that I bought in the States.  Also I have one onion, a couple jalapeños, and some limes.  She said she’d have to confiscate the limes but the rest was OK.  Now, I KNOW they let us bring limes in when we crossed a couple weeks ago when I took Lulu to the Tucson airport.  But this time they were verboten.  Cripes!  I bought those limes to make limonada.  Squeezed a few this morning to make a batch.  Guess I should have squeezed them all.  So, I open the rig, she takes my keys and then directs me inside into a holding area, I guess.  That may be too harsh but what would you call it when the little office you’re waiting in is locked to keep anyone from entering or leaving w/o a Customs person making it OK?  So she’s out searching my rig while I’m locked in this “office”.  This was a first.  At Nogales and Tecate, and everywhere we’ve been in Mexico, we were allowed to stand outside the vehicle during the search.  I suspect Sonoyta might be acting tough so it doesn’t get a reputation for being an easy border crossing.  certainly wouldn’t want that!

But, that’s all behind me now and I’m on the road north.  I’d pretty much decided it was way too early to quit since it’s too hot to do much hiking at Organ Pipe and there’s really nothing else to do.  So, I figured I’d press on to Quatrzite.  Pulled off at the Organ Pipe Visitor’s Center so I could reset Dora.  But, when I did, I found that Quartzite was another 3 hours away, or something like that.  And that 3 hours was probably based on Arizona’s interstate highway speed limit of 75 mph.  So, it was likely to take me closer to 4-5 hours.  No way.  I’ll go to the RV park in Gila Bend that we stopped in on our way down.  That’s only an hour and a half or so.

Back on the road.  I’m tooling along at my normal 55-60 mph even though the speed limit is 65.  There’s a BMW behind me who, once he sees a clear shot, pulls out to pass.  WOW! I don’t know what he’s got under the hood but as soon as he pulled out, it sounded like a pack of Harleys!  He sped on by me and then I noticed that the sound didn’t go away with him.  Crap, I’M the pack of Harleys!  Bet it scared the crap out of the BMW!

When we were in Idaho last summer, I had Flipper’s exhaust system redone since pretty much everything aft of the catalytic converter was rusted out.  They did a nice job of running a new tailpipe and installing a new muffler.  However, the other day I noticed that the tailpipe seemed to be hanging a bit low.  Looked underneath and found that the aft pipe hanger had broken where it was welded to the pipe.  Figured I’d get it fixed soon but, in the meantime, I wired the pipe back up.  Today, when I finally found a safe place to pull over and crawl under the truck to peek, I found that the intermediate hanger had also broken leaving the exhaust pipe laying on top of the rear axle.  Followed the noise and found that, with both hangers gone, it was just too much strain on the joint where the pipe leaves the header, right under my seat, and it had broken there as well.  Well, nothing to do but get it fixed.

The next town down the line was Ajo, about 20 miles or so away.  Had a very loud trip but the truck ran just fine.  At the north end of Ajo is a Napa store associated with an auto repair shop.  I pulled in there and told him what I needed.  he asked if I lived there or was just passing through.  I told him and he said they could try to get it done today but they’d have to move everyone else back an hour or so.  I told him not to do that, how does tomorrow look?  There was an RV Park right next door and I said I’d just stay there and bring the rig in tomorrow.  He told me he’d have absolutely no trouble getting me in tomorrow morning. Turns out, the Napa store also runs the Belly Acres RV park.  Pretty convenient for me, and for them.

So here I am in Ajo, a nice looking little town.  Not sure where I’ll be tomorrow because it kind of depends on when I actually hit the road.

In spite of the unfriendliness of the US Customs and Border Protection, there are still a lot of things I really like about the US.  And I found a good many of them at Olsen’s IGA across the street from the RV Park.  It’s also nice to be able to communicate effectively again.

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About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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7 Responses to 5/22/2014 – Back in the USA

  1. jamesdane says:

    Sounds like a case of GWB (gringo with beard) from Oregon profiling. Your camper must have all of negative 500 pounds load carrying capacity when all the tanks are empty. Next time put a chicken in the crock pot a couple hours before hitting the boarder. The drug dogs are done for the day if they get close to the rig and you have your lunch/dinner ready as soon as you get cleared across the border.

    • sryoder says:

      Either that or GWSIM (gringo with small inexpensive motorhome). Wonder if the folks in the Monarchs get the same treatment. Of course, cops are all about power and control so they probably treat everyone with pretty much the same amount of disdain. Although they probably save their really good stuff for US citizens of Hispanic descent. I didn’t see any dogs. Of course, I was locked up in the “office” during the search. That’s the thing that really pisses me off. They could have easily “found” something if they’d wanted to with me nowhere near to dispute it. Of course, first they’d have to find a space somewhere to stash something. Good luck with that as Lulu and I have managed to fill every conceivable space, and a few inconceivable ones.

  2. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    If LuLu were traveling with you, probably no problems alone either time you were stopped. Traveling alone, male, beard, etc. all questionable. Love, Mom

  3. sailmama says:

    Keith left a reply here but didn’t know he needed to “log in”. So here is a “reconstruction”:

    Theory:
    Single guy, full beard (you daggone hippie!), smelly exhaust – must be transporting SOMETHING illegal!

    Solution:
    Never cross the boarder without Lulu!!

  4. Pingback: 11/12/2014 – Ajo, Arizona | yodersafloat

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