Posts Tagged ‘discovery 2’

Mazatlan -We finally made it to the coast!

Posted: August 2, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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We had made good time getting into Mazatlan, so we were confident we would be able to find our campsite before dark. As we drove up the highway, things began to take on the big city feel again. 3 lanes of steady traffic met us about 10 KM before we actually got to town. The traffic was slowing due to a military checkpoint. We had to laugh at the apparent cutbacks the military there were experiencing (check out his skateboard!).

Scary Military man

Mazatlan is a very busy town. It is tourist oriented so the streets are packed with people. As we drove in we were in bumper to bumper traffic 3 lanes wide. We were looking for the shortest route to Stone Island or isla de las Piedras, to be accurate. This was supposed to be a small rural island just off of town. It took nearly an hour and a half to make it to the other side. At one point there were 4 wheelers riding in traffic, one with 3 people hanging off of it with no helmets. Vendors jockeyed their way through the lines trying to sell their products. Taxis were cutting people off, zipping in and out of lanes as if they owned the road. All the while we were travelling along side the ocean. It was a beautiful view, the sun gleaming off the water. The beaches were equally over populated. The water looked like a shipwreck with heads bobbing everywhere.

Not the floating heads, but close…

We could not get through that area quickly enough. It was getting late and we just wanted to get set up on our campsite and relax after that long days drive. We asked directions to get to the island. After a few missed turns and stopping to ask yet another person for directions, we finally found our way heading down the road toward Stone island. After about two miles along the paved road, we passed an exclusive golf course community. Almost immediately the road turned to gravel. It was dry and dusty, and gravel stuck in our tires to be catapulted a minute later into the air. We were following Bernard as the night began to close in. Here we were again, driving to a destination unknown, in the dark. It seemed like we were driving for miles, as we could only do about 20 MPH due to the relentless chatter bumps. We were passing mango and coconut orchards, and occasionally seeing a tractor. On and on we drove, no indication where the end was.

All of a sudden, from nowhere, I saw Bernard turn his lights on high beam and hit his brakes. Coming straight at us was a herd of what appeared to be horses running right down the middle of the road. They did not appear to care that we were there. It was a sure collision if they did not give. Bernard had the stout ARB bull bar on the front of his Landcruiser, but surely it would not take the repeated blows of a frenzied horse stampede! Then from the back of the pack a cowboy on a horse divided the stampede by riding into the middle of them. This caused them to just barely miss us running by on both sides of our vehicles. I could feel the earth rumble as their hoofs pounded the dirt road. I thought I could hear the air pass through their nostrils in heavy breaths as they passed, but soon realized that it was mine that I heard. As the cowboy approached us, we waved and he tipped his hat and continued on. Did that just really happen? Are we getting so tired that we were all seeing the same mirages? No, it did happen, the dust was still thick in our headlights to prove it.

Stampede!

It was all but dark as we pulled into what appeared to be a deserted rural town, also known as Stone Island. All of the streets were sand or dirt, and the businesses had coconut branches as roofs. We stopped at a campground right on the beach along the main street where we had entered. The gate was closed and locked. There was only one lone light on in the corner of the property with an RV sitting for sale under it inside the fence. It must be another casualty of travelling during the off-season we speculated. Just about then a frail little old man walked up to us to see what we wanted. We explained we needed a campsite for camping with tents. He informed us this was a camper site, not intended for tents, but that there was another one just around the corner in the coco field.

We followed his directions but did not find any resemblance of a campground, the dark starless sky not helping any. Bernard hopped out at the only thing still lively in town, a bar, with loud mexican music blaring into the night sky, echoing off the ocean waves. He was given more directions, “You passed it. Turn by the big tree, and go toward the speed bump, but don’t go over the bump”, the local drunk said. We headed back the way we came and still did not see anywhere to camp.

Of course, tired and frustrated again about trying to locate and set up in the dark, Bernard tried one last resort. He walked up to a hotel that had their lights on and decided to ask  if they knew where the campground was. A minute later, Bernard rounded the corner laughing and talking with a muscular built seemingly, American. He said, “I know right where it is. I will take you to the lady that owns it.” He said, “follow me on my ATV”. A minute later he was back and said he could not locate the key. Bernard offered his passenger seat and we were off! Back past “the big tree” turning onto another sand road. At the end, next to the bar where we just were, we drove out onto the beach. Bernard and the hotel owner, Gary, jumped out of the truck looking for the lady to allow us to camp. A few minutes later they were back. They had not found her. Gary, said, “I will let you camp on my beach in front of the hotel.” This was welcome news, we were finally getting somewhere. Even though it seemed really late, because it was so dark and the town seemed to be asleep, it was only 8:30, due to a two-hour time difference from home.

On the very short drive back to the hotel, Gary and Bernard talked of the fact that Gary had been in the army some 20 years ago and when he got out, decided he wanted a quieter, simpler life. He married a local Mexican girl, and together they have built a beautiful hotel and bought a restaurant beside the hotel on the beach. He said he loves his job now living on the premises. The name of his hotel, is Stone Island Gardens, and the restaurant is Carmelita’s. We highly recommend both as they are so friendly and helpful. Bernard showed Gary his license plate “Desert Storm Veteran”. They became immediate friends!

As we pulled up to the entrance of the hotel, Gary said, “or I can give you both rooms for the night for a really great price”. We were definitely interested, since it was dark and it was still quite humid. He allowed us to park in the hotel parking area, a nice parking garage, that we just barely cleared with our roof top tents.The Discovery 2 was really close, with its high roofline, but we made it. He guided us into the spaces and asked if we were hungry. A resounding yes, since we had not eaten all day. We met his wife and they told us there were some nice restaurants around, but the locals go to the place back up the street, good food and cheap prices. We were shown our rooms. Yeah! They had A/C! We were excited, since it was so humid and hot still.

Beautiful ocean views at Stone Island Gardens

After settling in, we walked down to the small restaurant that was recommended to us, and sat down under a roof structure outdoors. It was open air, but the ceiling fans made it more comfortable, along with the fact that we had cool rooms waiting for us back at the hotel. Angela and I ate for $3.50 total! Bernard’s was nearly $6.00, because he ordered two full meals, since he was so hungry. We had been pointed in the right direction. I love these prices! We both had gorditas, salad and a coke, Bernard had two Cheeseburger dinners. As we sat there for a few minutes, all of a sudden people started coming out of the woodwork. The place was filled with what appeared to be local people, excitedly chattering in Spanish, largely oblivious to the fact that we were there, though they all smiled, and said, “Hola”, or “Buenas Noches”.

Filled from eating a great authentic meal, we headed to bed to sleep off the long day we had just finished, and marvel again at the seemingly chance meetings with people who went out of their ways to accommodate us and make us feel welcome. We were beginning to see a pattern here….

After waking up early the next morning refreshed, we met down at Carmelita’s for coffee and enjoyed the beautiful day and the ocean view from our chairs in the restaurant. “Man, this the life” we thought. Can it be any better? Coffee, the waves lapping in, vendors setting up for the day. This was my idea of paradise! We ordered breakfast, and hooked up our laptops to get online to let our families know we were ok.

Bernard having coffee at Carmelita’s

Headed to work

We explored the island, and walked on the beach. It was very clean with a gradual approach, so walking was easy. You could stand at the edge of the water and wait for a wave to come in. You could feel the sand erode out from under your feet like a mini foot massage. It was glorious, albeit hot! It was so nice being on the island away from the general population of Mazatlan. It was a small community feel. Though there were small boats to bring tourist over, it was nothing like the mainland. I don’t know at what point we began to look at “tourist” as “those people” as if we were local, but I think it was somewhere right around here. We began to really feel like part of Mexico and its beauty instead of just visiting for a few days.

Angela “testing the water”

Scott in the “surf”- Bernard in the background

We decided to stay a couple more days while we waited for my brake light switch to come in at Autozone. We got up in the mornings and ran on the beach early before the heat set in, began to get friendly waves from people recognizing us after being there a while. Even the guy pedaling horse rides was in a jovial mood. I guess you just stay in a good mood when you live in paradise everyday. We found lots to do and see, even driving the trucks out onto a rock barrier reef watching workers try to salvage equipment from a sinking ship.

The “Happy Horseman”

Siesta, while watching work in progress

The rock barrier reef

“On the rocks”

We took a boat ride to the mainland to visit Autozone and the bank. We needed to get more pesos as there were no ATM machines on the island. On the small ferry-boat, we met DJ, a “local” Canadian that had been there for two years already. She had rented a house and had made it her new home. She told us of her travels and asked us about ours. She had worked on several sailing vessels as a deck hand and made her way down to Mexico. She was definitely a free spirit and friendly to talk to, claiming to speak her own version of “Spanglish”. After arriving on the mainland, being so early, there was only one golf cart style taxi. Dj made her way there first. As we passed to find another, she said, “Where you going”? We told her, and she said, “hop in, its right on the way”.

We were dropped off at the Autozone and then we walked around to do our other errands. By this time we were getting very tired from the heat and walking. We stopped at a McDonalds trying to get internet access and an ice cream. We were only able to get one, the ice cream. The internet was down. If we had to choose only one, my choice is ice cream every time! So we waved down a taxi and headed back to the boat ramp to go back to the island.

We stayed in the hotel for 3 days. The fourth day, Gary’s wife Anna, said she had a group of tourist that had booked the hotel, so we wouldn’t be able to stay that night. We went to breakfast at “Lety’s” on the beach, meeting the owners son there. He told us we could camp on the beach in front of the restaurant/hotel for no charge and use their bathrooms and showers. Man, finally we got to pop the tents, ON the beach! We popped the ARB tent and Ironman tent with little effort. As you can imagine, we were quite the spectacle setting up our site. People stopped to look and see what it was that we were doing. We pulled out the Ironman awning for shade and set up the lounge chairs watching the waves roll in under the sunset. Just before dark, we noticed a couple of sand crabs popping out of their holes to see if all the people were gone. We watched them for a while before moving, of course which prompted them to shoot back to the protection of their holes in the sand.

Beach side accommodations!

Campsite on the beach

The next day, we made the repair, organized our vehicles, said good-bye to our new-found friends and we were off headed towards Teacapan, a little town on the beach that promised several campsites on the beach. Gary told us we could drive 6-1/2 km up the beach and avoid driving on the chatter bump road again. What? Drive nearly 5 miles down the beach? You didn’t have to tell us twice. We had a blast dodging high tide and keeping momentum to plow through the soft sandy beach all the way to the golf course. What an amazing place to find, away from the usual tourist oriented areas.

Driving along the beach!

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We had a run in with the law in Durango!

Posted: July 28, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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**Note** I do not have many pictures in this post. Due to the situation outlined below, you will see we were much too busy to take pictures. If you have to have pictures, please read another one of our posts. Thanks!

At Some time during the afternoon, we decided to head out to a campsite that promised hot water spas. It was approximately 30 miles to the first site or 65 to the second. We figured we could not lose. If we couldn’t find the first, then we had the second as back up. We left Durango going south-east down a small hwy 23. I use highway lightly as this is more like a secondary back road we might find in the states. Not in a hurry, we enjoyed the sights and navigated the topes, in the few towns that we came to. The towns equated to some houses and a few businesses selling tacos and empanadas.

As we left the last town in our rearview mirror, the roads became increasingly winding. Fewer people were around and only an occasional taxi or motorbike would pass us. Ahead we saw the mountainous skyline looming. Our GPS, not having Mexico maps installed, only showed that the road was going to snake through the mountain like the plastic straw you might give a kid to sip their juice from. The road, winding back on its self with each turn, almost heading back in the opposite direction before sharply maneuvering in the other direction.

We managed to make it through this s-curve debauchery without incident, except a little car sickness. Out the other side we began looking for the first hot springs location. Trying to decipher each sign, making out each word that we could, piecing it together to see if it was ‘the one”. We drove a ways farther and soon realized that we should have already found it. There had been no apparent sign indicating camping or hot springs.

Fortunately we had a back up plan. We would continue on in before dark and make it to the next location. It was at the end of hwy 23, actually a dead-end. There was no way we could miss this one right?

As we were coming into the area of town where we expected to find the campground, we noticed a utility worker tending to a down power line on the side of the road. We didn’t think much of it until, we noticed people sitting outside their houses and businesses. Apparently, the main line had been damaged in a storm earlier that day. The whole town was without power. Undaunted, we trudged on further out-of-town to find our campsite. The road began to narrow sharply. There was barely enough room for one car to pass through. It was a two-way street, but you had to pull over to let anyone through from the opposite direction. The houses were literally feet from the street. It was a little unsettling as there was no cross streets for “escape” if need be. People were watching us drive by, as if we were the grand marshalls in a parade. It appeared that there may have been a festival in progress before the power outage. Many people lined the side of the streets.

We pulled out the other side of town and noticed on the GPS, that we were at the end. Right about then, we saw where a large rock slide had fallen and covered the road. Debris, mud, and gravel still littered the road as we traversed the piles of rubble. Larger piles on the side of the road indicated they had made an attempt to clear it. The road became clearer as we passed the site, but we soon realized we had not found our campsite again. We opted to turn back toward Durango to try to get a room for the night before pitch darkness fell. As we were pulling back into town on the narrow street, a new Chevy truck with four younger men in it pulled up to Bernard in the lead, and said “What are you doing out here”, as he shined a flashlight in his face. I said out loud to myself and Angela, “Aww Bernard, do not stop”! We did not need any problems. Fortunately, Bernard told them we were looking to camp. He was told there was no camping around there. We gladly started back toward Durango. We headed back through the mountains, and small towns, and desolate areas. It seemed to take longer, especially since we were all tired and irritable, so there were no conversations.

As we finally pulled into Durango, it was getting dark and we could see police lights ahead. “Great, just what we need, another checkpoint stop.” No, this time it was a road block. The road was completely impassable, due to a large fair that was going on that evening. Cars were u turning to go another direction. Of course there were no detour signs to follow, so we decided to follow the cars. Around the fairgrounds we went. So far, so good. The couple of cars that were in front of us were taxis. Surely they would know their way around this road block. That is exactly what Bernard was thinking when he followed them into the fairground field, through the parking area, into a super swamp mud hole and out the other side of the field.

We exited the gate and immediately realized we were not in Kansas any more. The road was more of a two-track rutted trail. I have been to off-road parks with fewer obstacles than this! We were on a greasy, pot hole, rutted, wet trail that passed by small houses just outside the fair gates. Ok, it must be a small subdivision that we must pass through to get back to the main road. All of a sudden the taxis gained momentum and began criss crossing in different directions. We latched onto one and followed. We passed homes with people standing outside, almost as if we were the main event for the fair tonight. We were doing water crossings that would make any overlander proud. I looked at my floor boards several times expecting to see filthy brown water/ sludge come streaming in. We didn’t drive through the mud puddles, we drove into them and back out the other side. All the while we were on what appeared to be streets in a neighborhood. Somewhere in there we also came across a fire burning. I do not know if a house was on fire or if the locals were roasting marshmallows, laughing at us gringos trying to find our way out of the maze.

After what seemed like hours, we circled around for probably the 5th time, and finally found a paved road. Bernard took the road and then, to my chagrin, he whipped a u turn and headed back into the neighborhood. Now, I know Bernard like to play off-road, but this was ridiculous, without radio communication, all I could do was follow. All of a sudden we were back in the grassy field of the fair grounds. Bernard pulled over, threw up his hands and said, “I don’t know, I’m lost”!

I decided to lead and try my hand at getting us back out in the direction that we came from (back by the road block). Maybe by now they had cleared it and we could go the direction we knew. As we pulled up to the intersection, it was clear that was not the case. Red and blue lights pierced the dark sky warning of the detour. I pulled up to the intersection behind another officer directing traffic to see if he might offer directions. Bernard pulled in behind me.

I turned off my headlights, leaving on only the parking lights, so as not to blind him. He cautiously approached the passenger side, so Angela rolled down her window. I asked “Se Habla English”? No, he said. Great! I began in mixed Spanish and English trying to ask for directions, but it was not working. He spoke into his radio and indicated someone was on their way that knew English.

A couple of minutes later, another officer showed up with his lights flashing as well. We were starting to make quite a spectacle of ourselves sitting on the edge of the road with two police cars and lights, while all of the people exiting the fairgrounds drove by. The second officer spoke some English. He spoke enough that we could tell him where we were trying to go, and get directions. He finally said, “Follow other officer, he take you”.

We hopped in our trucks, started them up, and then grabbed for the gear shifter. It would not budge. I pressed the brake even harder trying to release the lever. Still, nothing. I turned the ignition off, restarted and attempted to shift. No luck. Meanwhile the officer is sitting in the street waiting for me to follow. I tried everything I knew. Unfortunately, it seemed as if maybe a fuse was blown or something not electrically releasing the gear selector. I got out of my truck and let Bernard know what was going on.

The officer was waving his hand to follow him. I waved back and said, “it wont go”. Both officers drove back to where we were. I tried to explain it to the English-speaking officer who said “ Oh, I know”. He proceeded to jump into the front seat and press the brake pedal. As he did that, he aggressively pulled on the handle. He tried again, each time increasing the grip on the lever, as if he man handled it, maybe it would magically work.

What happened next was a similar situation, only now we were joined by two additional officers. At this time, I am sure all of the passer-byers thought they had encountered a huge drug bust. There were police cars, lights blazing all around us. Traffic was being diverted, by yet another one. It was quite a scene. Each time a new officer approached, the English-speaking officer would tell them the problem. Each one of them jumping into the front seat to try to “muscle” the lever into gear.

Lights everywhere!

After this went on a while, one of the officers began canvassing the traffic looking for a bilingual attendee. Finally, they approached with a girl in her early 30’s. She said, “They asked me to translate for them. What is the problem”? I explained about the detour and the new problem with the gear selector. She relayed the info, and informed us that they had called a mechanic and tow truck. I was not very interested in having a mechanic work on the vehicle on the side of the road, not knowing their credentials. All we needed was a hack job that would lead to more problems. She informed us that the tow truck driver was the mechanic also.

When the truck arrived, the officers filled him in to the situation. We spoke to the girl who was translating and she told us of a good hotel, and of the officers plans to get us there. We also, amazingly, learned she was from Gainesville Georgia, only here visiting relatives. Boy was she a God send! All the way from our home state of Georgia just to translate for us! She wished us well and left, knowing the truck was there and all was well.

I tried my best to communicate with the tow truck driver. He was all over my truck. Under the hood, under the frame, under the dash. He was just under everything! I grabbed the book and went to the fuse page, trying to locate which fuse might operate the release. Finally, I showed it to him, and he went under the dash to try to locate any burned fuse. We worked together in silence, a little grunt or groan here or there, checking each one, until we determined they were all good. He then decided he would tow it where we needed it. I told the officer, it could not be towed with the type of tow truck he brought. It was the style that only picked up two wheels. I either needed a flatbed, which still would be difficult with it stuck in park, or would have to remove one of the driveshafts.

The scene

The driver quickly dove under the truck, and began working. I thought he was pulling the driveshaft. As it turns out, he removed the shift cable from the selector so we could manually place it into drive. He borrowed a 13 mm wrench from me, and within minutes we were ready to go. I asked him what was the charge and he held up his hand, jumped into his truck and was gone! Talk about service. He just did what it took to get me going, never charging or trying to make a buck towing me. I stood there perplexed. Where are all of the bad people of Mexico?

We were finally ready to follow the officer to the hotel. He motioned for us to follow him. He left his lights on and we were off! He professionally navigated back streets avoiding traffic snarls, and turning many times throughout our nearly 20 minute convoy through Durango. We pulled up to the hotel, and the officer walked us inside. He spoke with the clerk, apparently letting him know we needed a room. After checking the computer, we were told, they did not have one available. The officer did not miss a beat, he motioned us to follow him. We turned up the street and over a few more blocks to another hotel. He again jumped out of his truck, ran inside and spoke to the clerk. This time we had a room! Knowing we could take it from there, he walked over to me, held out his hand into a big hearty handshake, one you would get from an old friend. He smiled largely, and then was out to the curb to say good-bye to Bernard and Angela. This man went above and beyond the call of duty. Not only for his position, but for mankind. Here we were three foreigners, that didn’t speak his language, broke down, and yet he stayed with us until we were safe in a hotel.  I’m beginning to believe God has placed these people in our paths. I Love America, but would not necessarily expect the same selfless acts as the tow truck driver and officers showed us that night!

It turns out the next day after a little research on the internet, that my brake light switch, which also controls the safety release on the gear lever was bad. I went to Auto Zone (yes they have them in Mexico), to try to get one. Unfortunately, they did not stock it, but we were told they could get it in 3 days. We would be in Mazatlan in three days, so, they made arrangements to have it sent to the store there. I was equally impressed at the service of this store. The person helping us followed up by email later making sure we were able to get the part. We did and it is back in the truck working great now, though I did have to manufacture a part to hold the shift cable to the shift lever. Thanks to Auto Zone they had a part I could modify. I couldn’t ask for a better situation being 2000 miles from home in another country!

And we are off!

Posted: July 11, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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It has been a trying past couple of weeks. You know from following our progress, all of the things we were trying to pack in with the trip preparations. The good news, we have completed everything that is going to get done. It seems, every turn there were three more things popping up that needed to be handled before going. At the last-minute, Bernard called me and said “I have some good news and some bad news”. Nothing much ever good starts with those words. So, he says, ” I got a discount on my tires, however, they will not be in until Monday,midday.” Yes, the Monday we were scheduled to leave on! One thing I have learned on scheduling a big trip, even life changing event, is flexibility. The flexibility to roll with the punches and even appreciate the delay offering more preparation time. So we took full advantage of the “extra day” as it turns out we needed it… My brother, Chad and his wife Ginny, printed our slogan and website on vinyl that we put on the vehicles.

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It is a reminder to slow down and enjoy life, not rush it along.
Last minute packing was going well. I even naively, imagined I had room to spare. Boy was I in for a surprise!

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Some how after staying up past 1 am, getting up at 6 am, a stop at the bank and the office, we were off! We met Bernard at the Pilot gas station in Augusta at 9 am. Only one hour after our intended departure.

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We took off rolling down I-20 toward Atlanta to a nice sunny day, around 80 degrees. In light of my new-found desire to take it slow and easy, we settled in at about 65 mph to test things out. About 30 miles down the road in Thomson, Ga., Angela and I decided we wanted breakfast and a coffee. So we pulled into McDonald’s where my Aunt Gloria works. I decided we would get out and tell her “good-bye”. Well contrary to her telling me that they work her from sun up, she was not there!
We continued on again, putting our backs to the wind. When all of a sudden, we noticed a Toyota Tundra pulling a mid 90’s Mercedes on a UHAUL tow dolly. The reason we noticed it first, because having owned a UHAUL dealership recently, we tend to notice these things. But more importantly, we noticed it because the car on the dolly was whipping like a tail on a wood Pekkah, or at least that was the first thing that I blurted out when seeing it. Angela laughed at my analogy, and then turned her concerns to the car that was being tossed side to side behind the truck. We quickly passed it hoping Bernard would make it by before it let loose. Disaster diverted….at least for us. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, as I was busy driving defensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy didn’t make the news tonight.
Traveling on I was determined to enjoy the journey, forget about time lines, and just relax. I noticed the blue skies, the fluffy white clouds. They were almost 3D in appearance.

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The trip was going great! We somehow found ourselves in the middle of a military convoy of Hummers on semi trucks. Of course we felt right at home driving our big rigs, even giving that knowing wave that only the military and big rigs share, like “yeah, it’s just us against the other four wheelers out here on the highway”.

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Somewhere around 290 miles, in Montgomery Alabama, we needed to stop for fuel. I was very apprehensive about checking my fuel mileage. First of all, Land Rovers are not known for good gas mileage. Secondly, I had added so many modifications, weight and wind resistance, that I felt like I would be lucky to get 10 miles to the gallon. And to top it off, it requires premium gas. Well, to my surprise, we actually managed to get 13.5 miles to the gallon. I know this sounds terrible, but I was even a little excited. I packed every square inch of the vehicle and performed all of the modifications, so I know what is in there. So to get 13.5 mpg, I was happy!

All of a sudden, the skies turned gray and the opposite traffic began showing up with their headlights on. Not a good sign. Then the bottom fell out. It began torrentially pouring rain. It was so heavy, the semi truck disappeared in front of me. It is an eery feeling not knowing if someone has panicked and stopped right in front of you, or not. I slowed to a safer speed and continued forward progress. Checking my rear view mirror, I noticed Bernard had also disappeared. I searched with little success, just to see the white lines on the road. Everything was a gray fog and sheets of rain.

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It was also with the first rain drops that I regretted not replacing my windshield wipers! It was more of a smear than a clear. Eventually it let up enough that I could see cars again. In checking my mirror again, I saw that Bernard was definitely not in my range of site. We pulled off to the side of the road and waited a few minutes. Fortunately, he came along and flashed his lights that all was ok. A few more miles ahead and we pulled into a rest area to compare stories and take a much-needed bathroom break.

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After getting back on the highway, I began to feel a little hungry. I knew I had packed some chocolate covered almonds within my reach. So one hand on the wheel, I reached for the spot the can of almonds was. I felt it and began to pick it up from behind the seat. As I raised it up, it became wedged between the seat and the storage box I had built for the back of the vehicle. I pulled and tugged and twisted, to no avail. I tried again. No luck. I wanted those almonds! I wouldn’t let go until I had them up front. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I was no smarter than the monkey, when given a handful of peanuts through a hole, will actually trap himself by making a fist to grip the peanuts. And he will not un ball his fist to set himself free, because he wants those peanuts. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for not letting the almonds go….

We arrived in Mobile Alabama around 4:30 pm to overcast skys, but no rain. We were determined to get wiper blades from the Land Rover dealership, as it required a special kind.
We first went to our hosts home. Bernard had been in contact with a host from http://www.couchsurfing.com This is an online community of people willing to share their “couch” or other accommodations with like-minded travelers. Genevieve, offered to let us park our vehicles in her yard and pop up the tents. As we were turning into the driveway, another couch surfing host, named Robyn that Bernard had been in contact with called and said “Hey! Where are you guys at?” She decided to stop in to meet us and chat awhile. This is a testament to the remarkable online couch surfing community. They are all friendly and enjoy meeting new people. After meeting our host, Angela and I excused ourselves to try to make it to the dealership, for wiper blades, before they closed. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. Ken, came out to look at the blades. He said “well here’s your problem, there is no rubber left on the blade”. They installed them for free, reduced the price even lower than they quoted on the phone, and gave me a large roll of paper towels free, just because. Now that is customer service. I highly recommend if you are ever in the Mobile Alabama area, and need help with your vehicle stop in and see Ken in the parts department.

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I am lying here in our roof top tent typing all of this on my android phone. So please disregard any typos or incorrect grammar. I need to make use of the internet that was also graciously provided by our host here in Mobile. Wow! What a first day on the road!
Bernard’s in his tent, we are in ours, and our host went to pick someone up at the airport. She promised coffee in the am, and then we will be off to explore Mobile, before heading to Lafayette Louisiana. If every day of our trip consist of the roller coaster of today, we are in for a treat!