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Author Topic: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)  (Read 2966 times)

US 41

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Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« on: November 22, 2015, 10:33:03 AM »

Well I left Terre Haute Sunday morning on 11/15. I drove down 70 and 44 until I got to Exit 4 on I-44 in Missouri. I took MO 43 south to US 60 and then took OK 66 to Edmond to avoid paying $8 in tolls. Nothing spectacular really happened on the first day of my trip except for getting my kicks on Oklahoma's Route 66. I stayed the night in El Reno.

The second day of my trip I continued west on I-40 all the way west to Santa Rosa, NM. From there I went southwest on US 54 until I got to US 60. I took US 60 all the way west to Springerville, AZ. That was the first time I had ever been to Arizona. What surprised me the most was when I ran into a snowstorm in the mountains of western New Mexico. Snow was about the last thing I expected on my trip. Springerville was as far west as I would go. I drove southeast from there on US 180 to Silver City where I slept for a few hours. When I woke up I was on the road again. Entering Las Cruces, NM, going eastbound on I-10 is pretty cool. You go over a hill and boom, you can literally see the whole city without warning. I noticed several Chihuahua plated vehicles on I-10 eastbound. I continued driving southeast to El Paso, Texas. El Paso is by far the neatest city to drive through at night. Apparently El Paso is at a higher elevation than Ciudad Juarez. You can see the whole city of Juarez lit up at night which is very cool. This was also the first time I had "seen" Mexico. I ended up staying at Ft. Hancock for the night.

On the third day I continued driving on I-10. I saw a Speed Limit 80 sign and I drove every bit that fast. I can only think of how painful it must have been to drive 55 mph on I-10 back in the national 55 days. I encountered my first US Customs Interior checkpoint. He asked me if I was a US Citizen which I replied yes to of course. With that he said have a nice day. When I got to US 90 I headed southeast until I got to Marfa. I drove south on US 67 to Presidio. I decided against driving to Cd. Chihuahua and decided to go east from Presidio on TX FM 170 and go to the Big Bend Nat'l Park. Going to the Big Bend was honestly the better choice. It only costs $25 to get in and the pass is good for a week. I didn't realize how neat the park was. By the way TX FM 170 is a drive I would recommend to everyone on here. And a warning for Presidio is that almost everyone there speaks Spanish and knows little to no English. I wasn't expecting that at all. While I was in the park that day I went to the Boquillas Canyon, Tuff Canyon, and Santa Teresa Canyon. The Santa Teresa Canyon is the real deal when it comes to canyons. Unfortunately the Boquillas Crossing was closed that day. It is only open Wednesday through Sunday, 8-6. I stayed the night in the park that night.

On the fourth day (Wednesday) I went to the Hot Springs. The gravel roads in the park are not the best. If you plan on going to the Big Bend Nat'l Park I would recommend taking your truck or anything with high clearance so you don't drag the bottom of your car on the rocks. I parked my car on the side of the road and walked about a mile to the Hot Springs so I didn't have to drive my car down the road.

I decided to make this a separate paragraph. After the Hot Springs I drove to the Boquillas Crossing again. It was open this time. A ranger checks your luggage before you go across. I was easy to check. All I took was my passport (required), wallet, camera, and car keys. After that you walk down a path to the Rio Grande River. A Mexican will pick you up in a boat and will take you across the river. It costs $5 for a round trip to cross the river. They give you a ticket you have to give them to cross the river again, so don't lose it. Anyways you can then choose to walk to the village (for free) or pay $3 USD to ride a horse/burro to the village. (FYI There is no need to exchange money before you go to Boquillas. Everything there is priced in US Dollars. I took both because I wasn't sure. If I ever go back I will only take dollars.) I decided to walk. I did decide to have a guide that walked with me and showed me around the village for about an hour. There's no definite cost for a guide. I gave him 200 pesos to start out with. The customs station is located in the town itself in a trailer that is fenced in. There you give the customs agent your passport. For some reason they had me fill out a tourist card (it is free however). When I gave it back I said "I hope I filled this out right." He replied saying "It doesn't really matter." I took a picture of it and realized later that for Date of Birth I wrote 18/11/2015. :clap: IF they really want to know by DOB I guess they have the infor when they scanned by passport. FYI you actually fill out two tourist cards. One you give back right then and the other you keep until you leave. Once your done filling out the card he stamps both the card and your passport, and then he gives both the tourist card and passport to you. After that I ate 3 tacos and drank two bottles of ice cold Mexican Coca Cola at a restaurant. It was pretty good. After that the guide showed me his house, the hospital, the local school, kindergarten, and the local bar. I bought a bag that has a horse sewn into it and says Boquillas for $10 USD. The town doesn't really have T-Shirts or sombreros for sale unfortunately. After that I returned to the customs agent and gave him my passport and the tourist card. He stamped my passport again saying that I had left. My guide then took me to the Hot Springs on the Mexican side which is about a 10 minute walk from the village. The hot spring on the Mexican side is way better than the one on the American side. The water in it is beautiful. I ended up giving my guide 400 more pesos (600 total). He was very thankful. I figured he probably needed the money more than me. With that we walked back to the Rio Grande I gave the guy at the table my ticket and they took me back to the US side of the river. I only spent $25 in the village, not counting the 600 pesos I gave to my guide. $5-$10 is more than sufficient to give to your guide, if you choose to have one. I would definitely recommend one if you have never been before. When you go back to the US Side the ranger checks you and then you go to a computer screen and talk to customs on the phone. Customs at this crossing is pretty relaxed. There are no waits at this crossing either. FYI you are told before you go to Mexico that you are not allowed to bring back tobacco and/or alcohol to the United States. The ranger at the crossing is very nice and respectful. So don't feel intimidated. Boquillas is also very safe. I never felt unsafe once.

Once I was back in the US I filled up in Panther Jct. and left the park. There was an interior checkpoint on US 385 just before you get to Marathon. I showed the guy my passport. He started flipping pages and I told him I went to Boquillas just to save him time. Then he asked if I had bought anything there. I showed him my bag. He then asked if I brought marijuana to the US from Boquillas. When I said no, he replied with "Good". Then I proceeded on my way. I drove all the way east to San Antonio. There was another checkpoint east of Del Rio on US 90. This checkpoint even had a drug dog. When I showed him my passport he looked at my picture and then at me and said "Thank you [insert my name], have a nice day." I know that some people are totally against these checkpoints. I personally think they are not too bad of an idea.

The fifth day of my trip I went to the Alamo and a Texas State football game. San Antonio has really bad traffic. Loop 1604 is really bad. I-410 was bad, but it was still better than 1604.

On the sixth day (Friday) I drove east past Houston and to the beach. From there I took I-10 east to US 167. I took that northeast to US 82, which I would take across the River. (That suspension bridge should definitely be used for I-69.) I roughly followed the future I-69 routing up to Evansville, taking naps as needed, until I arrived in Terre Haute at 2 p.m on Saturday. I then watched my Sycamores beat the Youngstown State Penguins 27-24 on Senior Day.

I had a great trip and I will definitely be going back to southwestern Texas and Mexico again. I plan on going back in February. I also talked to someone in the park that has drove all over the northern part of Mexico, including to the Peguis Canyon 5 times, and he told me he has never had any problems driving in Mexico.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 11:15:07 PM by US 41 »
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Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

corco

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2015, 04:53:17 PM »

What caused you to change your mind on driving into Mexico?

Quote
Once I was back in the US I filled up in Panther Jct. and left the park. There was an interior checkpoint on US 385 just before you get to Marathon. I showed the guy my passport. He started flipping pages and I told him I went to Boquillas just to save him time. Then he asked if I had bought anything there. I showed him my bag. He then asked if I brought marijuana to the US from Boquillas. When I said no, he replied with "Good". Then I proceeded on my way. I drove all the way east to San Antonio. There was another checkpoint east of Del Rio on US 90. This checkpoint even had a drug dog. When I showed him my passport he looked at my picture and then at me and said "Thank you [insert my name], have a nice day." I know that some people are totally against these checkpoints. I personally think they are not too bad of an idea.

Interesting - I've never shown my passport at an interior crossing. In fact, I think I've only even had my passport on me once or twice when traversing an interior crossing.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 05:37:53 PM by corco »
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US 41

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2015, 11:28:56 PM »

What caused you to change your mind on driving into Mexico?

The place where you get Mexican insurance was closed the day I went through for some reason. I also had no way of ordering it online.

I am going back in February however, so I wasn't too worried about it. I plan on entering in either Ciudad Acuna or Piedras Negras and exiting in either Ojinaga or Puerto Palomas in February.
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USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

kphoger

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2015, 10:15:10 PM »

Even though you decided against the jaunt to Chihuahua, I say bravo for deciding to do FM-170 to Big Bend. Though I've been to the park several times, I've never been west of Santa Elena canyon. Having seen time-lapse video of FM-170, I'm envious of your having driven it. By the way, if ever you return with more time, some of the hikes there are quite worth it, especially The Window (long) and Santa Elena canyon (short).

My, how that border has changed! I haven't been there since before 9/11, i.e. before they closed it down (and subsequently reopened it). Back then, there were no border agents or passport stamping to be found, just a guy with a rowboat and the same choice of walking, horse ride, or pickup truck ride. Do you happen to know if there's an official crossing at Santa Elena now, or is that just gone for good?

I'm also amazed you showed your passport at the US inland checkpoints. Why would one need to do that? I've never even shown a driver's license at them.

Can't wait to see pictures!
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Rothman

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2015, 07:52:49 AM »

My parents volunteered at Big Bend for a while just after the border re-opened.  They loved Boquillas.

Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most scenic places I've ever visited.
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US 41

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2015, 09:13:20 AM »

Even though you decided against the jaunt to Chihuahua, I say bravo for deciding to do FM-170 to Big Bend. Though I've been to the park several times, I've never been west of Santa Elena canyon. Having seen time-lapse video of FM-170, I'm envious of your having driven it. By the way, if ever you return with more time, some of the hikes there are quite worth it, especially The Window (long) and Santa Elena canyon (short).

My, how that border has changed! I haven't been there since before 9/11, i.e. before they closed it down (and subsequently reopened it). Back then, there were no border agents or passport stamping to be found, just a guy with a rowboat and the same choice of walking, horse ride, or pickup truck ride. Do you happen to know if there's an official crossing at Santa Elena now, or is that just gone for good?

I'm also amazed you showed your passport at the US inland checkpoints. Why would one need to do that? I've never even shown a driver's license at them.

Can't wait to see pictures!

FM 170 was a very cool drive. I almost didn't drive on it however. When I found out the insurance place was closed I headed north out of town and remembered it at the very last second.

I actually did do the hike into the Santa Elena Canyon. Very cool as well.

I think the Santa Elena Crossing is gone for good. The only legal border crossing in the park is at Boquillas. I'm a little surprised that there isn't a legal crossing at Santa Elena and/or at Lajitas.

I read online about the interior checkpoints before I left on my trip. Everyone said they ask you if your a US Citizen. I had never encountered one before I went on this trip. I figured showing them my US Passport would answer the US Citizen question itself. All the agents at the interior checkpoints were very respectful (including the one that asked me if I brought marijuana back from Boquillas). It probably also helps that I treat them with respect as well.

I will post pics ASAP.
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Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

US 41

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2015, 10:25:07 AM »

Trip Photos. Note: Some of these are slightly out of order. I have a picture of me in Boquillas, but chose not to post it. The hot spring is the only picture I posted of Boquillas. Don't worry, around February I should have lots of pictures of Mexican Highways. Unfortunately I didn't get to drive on any this time around.

I-40 in Texas





US 54 in New Mexico between Santa Rosa and Vaughn





Arizona State Line Sign



Snow on US 60 Westbound in the mountains of New Mexico



I-40 I think in New Mexico (could be Texas)



TX FM 170 southeast of Presidio





Chihuahua, Mexico (taken from FM 170)



Santa Teresa Canyon







Tunnel in the Park on the way to Boquillas



Crossing the Rio Grande



Hot Spring southwest of Boquillas (about a 5-10 minute walk)



Pecos River Canyon on US 90



San Antonio





Gulf of Mexico



Lake St. Charles I-210 Bridge

« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 10:31:34 AM by US 41 »
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Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

Rothman

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2015, 01:37:50 PM »

Heh.  When the Rio Grande is even lower, people regularly cross it freely at the mouth of Santa Elena.  My parents had to go around telling them they were crossing the border illegally if they witnessed it, though. :D
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kphoger

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2015, 08:57:49 PM »

I've waded across the Río Grande just downriver of Santa Elena canyon, where the trail is still across open ground.

I'm totally digging the first Santa Teresa canyon picture, makes me miss that part of the country. And, may I say, them's some empty highways!

Not to say I told you so, but allow me to reiterate that you can very easily purchase your Mexican insurance policy online and print it out yourself at home. In fact, I've never personally bought insurance or pesos at the border; I always do that ahead of time.

Congratulations on a still-successful road trip!
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US 41

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2015, 09:41:52 PM »

I've waded across the Río Grande just downriver of Santa Elena canyon, where the trail is still across open ground.

I'm totally digging the first Santa Teresa canyon picture, makes me miss that part of the country. And, may I say, them's some empty highways!

Not to say I told you so, but allow me to reiterate that you can very easily purchase your Mexican insurance policy online and print it out yourself at home. In fact, I've never personally bought insurance or pesos at the border; I always do that ahead of time.

Congratulations on a still-successful road trip!

I don't have a credit card (yet), so that is why I didn't buy insurance online. Unfortunately it cost me this time around. I should probably get one if I'm going to be doing long road trips, especially international ones. Lesson learned, but hey I'm going back in February, so it's not really that big of a deal. My plans always seem to change, but here is my current plan (enter at Ojinaga, exit west of Reynosa). https://goo.gl/maps/xPd2CX2TV2D2
-------------------------------------------------
Addition 11/30/15:

If I had really been thinking I should have just gotten insurance in El Paso and drove south on MX 45 to Ciudad Chihuahua and returned east on MX 16 to Presidio.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 07:40:22 PM by US 41 »
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Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

J N Winkler

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2015, 10:01:40 PM »

I did Big Bend NP and the FM 170 scenic drive just before I drove into Mexico for the first time, in late December 2002.  There is a steep hill on FM 170 about midway between Presidio and Terlingua (17% grade?) that is one of the few places where I felt I needed to downshift all the way to first gear to control my speed.

I haven't pulled out my passport to show at Border Patrol checkpoints, but I always carry it when I am in a border state (even if I do not plan to cross the border) because it is a way of ensuring that questions about citizenship status do not arise if something goes pear-shaped at a Border Patrol checkpoint or I unwittingly graze a border crossing.

Texas has permanent Border Patrol checkpoints that consist of a paved pulloff, a shed, and an office for the inspectors.  Approach signing is uniform statewide (per TxDOT standard plan sheet) and includes lights that flash when the checkpoint is active.  In Arizona and New Mexico checkpoints are much more haphazard (permanent installations are often not signed, and until recently the Border Patrol was not allowed to operate any permanent checkpoints in the Tucson area) and tend to be run in ways that elevate the likelihood of traffic accidents.  All of my troubles with checkpoints have been in those two states.  I have had no difficulty in Texas and I have never run into a checkpoint in California.
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US 41

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Re: Post roadtrip report (11/15 -11/21)
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2015, 09:00:02 AM »

I did Big Bend NP and the FM 170 scenic drive just before I drove into Mexico for the first time, in late December 2002.  There is a steep hill on FM 170 about midway between Presidio and Terlingua (17% grade?) that is one of the few places where I felt I needed to downshift all the way to first gear to control my speed.

I haven't pulled out my passport to show at Border Patrol checkpoints, but I always carry it when I am in a border state (even if I do not plan to cross the border) because it is a way of ensuring that questions about citizenship status do not arise if something goes pear-shaped at a Border Patrol checkpoint or I unwittingly graze a border crossing.

Texas has permanent Border Patrol checkpoints that consist of a paved pulloff, a shed, and an office for the inspectors.  Approach signing is uniform statewide (per TxDOT standard plan sheet) and includes lights that flash when the checkpoint is active.  In Arizona and New Mexico checkpoints are much more haphazard (permanent installations are often not signed, and until recently the Border Patrol was not allowed to operate any permanent checkpoints in the Tucson area) and tend to be run in ways that elevate the likelihood of traffic accidents.  All of my troubles with checkpoints have been in those two states.  I have had no difficulty in Texas and I have never run into a checkpoint in California.

I remember that hill. I put my car into 2nd gear and it controlled my speed perfectly. I can't wait to go back to the Big Bend in 2 months.
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Places I've drove in North America

USA (36)= AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WV, WI
Canada (5)= NB, NS, ON, PE, QC
Mexico (6)= CH, CO, DG, NL, SI, TM

 


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