2014 Copper Canyon, Mexico
On my trusty BMW R100GSPD in Mexico, to explore the Copper Canyon & surrounding High Country...
Route to Mexico & Back 01/2014
Route taken was South East from Sacramento CA across the Sierra Nevada, through Death Valley and down to Mexico across the South Western US high desert region
After crossing into Mexico I met up with a fellow traveler in Hermosillo, where we rode into the high country and explored to Copper Canyon, before returning to the coast at Mazatlán, After which I rode North back home in just 3 days...
approximately 4,200 miles (6,760 Km's) round trip

Sacramento CA to Death Valley CA...
It's cold and I'm getting a late start...
Art & Allen Visit
Let's back it up a little, while I was in Canada I met many travelers, among them were Allen from Stockton CA (Left) & Art from Canada (Right), Art had taken my offer of a place to stay on his ride from Canada to Argentina & Allen drove up to catch up with Art before he continued his travels...

During Art's visit, a tentative plan was hatched of "maybe I'll catch up with you in Mexico before you get too far south", shortly after Art's departure a few phone & skype calls were exchanged and it evolved into a definite plan to spend some time exploring the more remote parts of Northern Mexico together for a couple of weeks...

Daggett Summit
Early January arrived, and hasty preparations are made, I decide to cross the Sierra Nevada and travel down through to high desert as we are in the middle of a record drought leaving the roads clear of snow & rain with milder than normal temperatures for this time of year. 7,334 feet (2,234m) in mid-winter where's all the snow?

Snow in the Sierras
Not to say it isn't cold or there is no snow, but these mountains & fields would normally be covered at this time of year...

Death Valley at Night
Because I got away later than planned, plus winter daylight hours being shorter with temperatures dropping lower than anticipated, I decide to find a place to camp in Death Valley, I make it to Emigrant Campground a tent only free campsite at 2,100' (640m) not far from Stovepipe Wells...

Death Valley Camping
The Desert night was unbelievably clear and with a little experimentation with my camera I was able to catch some of it's atmosphere.

DAY TWO : Death Valley CA to Tucson AZ
High Desert & High Miles
Good Morning
The next morning a woke to a beautiful clear day, with virtually no traffic passing by and the empty campground, it felt like I had the whole valley to myself...

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
At Stovepipe Wells I noticed that the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes were perfectly lit by the early morning sun and stopped to take a few photos before pushing on and down the road literally...

Furnace Creek
At Furnace Creek I was down about as far as one can go in California, interesting to contemplate that just over 200 miles (320km) to west as the crow flies, is the Pacific Ocean where people are surfing 190 feet (58m) above my head!?

With 520 miles (835km) to go to Tucson I had to put the hammer down, I did it in just under 9 hours including a couple of gas stops, 2 meal breaks and an appropriate number of toilet stops...

DAY THREE : Tucson AZ to Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
With a little help from a friend...
Glenn Hamberger
In Tucson I got another eMail from Glenn through The HUBB (Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board), I had put a blast out asking for local knowledge regarding cheap &/or free camping among other things, Glenn had responded with some tips and info, but he followed up with this eMail asking, How's your Spanish? what are you riding? Have you traveled much in Mexico? To which I replied Nada, R100GSPD, Never.
Glenn said he would meet me on the way to the Boarder at Nogales and accompany me across and part way into Mexico to show me the ropes and help with the formalities of Travel Visa & Temporary Vehicle Import before returning Stateside, At the very least I had to buy him a meal for his trouble...

Mexican Bar-B-Que
Which was tasty, fresh and beautifully prepared by this Gentleman in the little crossroad town of Imuris, where the Highway 15 & 2 intersect, I can honestly say at this point, it was the best meal I'd ever had in Mexico.

The Kino, Hermosillo
I continued on to the south on my own, Just after Santa Ana the Highway turned into a Toll Road and became very straight and boring, but I was able to get to Hermosillo just as the sun was setting, I found a Starbucks so was able use their WiFi to retrieve Art's messages and get my bearings, after another 40 minutes riding around in a new city at night I found Art, after which we rode around a bit more and found the Hotel Kino

The Kino, Hermosillo
A bit of Haggling to get an acceptable room rate and settled in for the night, the place was a bit like a museum inside, Art had some groceries with him so we ended up having Tuna Sandwiches and Banana for diner...

Hermosillo to Yécora
We head off into the mountains to the East
The Kino, Hermosillo
Saying goodbye to the Kino...

Heading Out, Hermosillo
We repack and inspect the bikes...

Heading Out, Hermosillo
Everything checks out so we depart.

On the way out of town we stop for Gas, In Mexico the Gas is pumped for you, money taken & change made by the Pump Jockeys, so I was shocked when the loud mouthed, boisterous attendant blatantly short changed me by 150 Pesos ($11 US) after I asking for the rest of my change and the attendant was slowly peeling out notes hoping I would get confused or frustrated before the correct tally was achieved, I hear yelling from the other side of the pumps, they had done the same thing to Art to a lesser degree and he was totally Pissed Off, I got my money and pulled away thinking to myself 'Cheeky Buggars' and 'I wonder how often they get away with it', but Art was furious, however he did say it had never happened before and thankfully it never happened again on this trip...

Coffee Stop
We headed East out into the dry scrub land, intitially the road was mostly straight and flat as the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental slowly crept toward us, at La Colorada we stopped for coffee and a bite to eat, typical roadside fare...

North Bend Lumber Yard
Art asked where the toilet was and was told around back, which literally meant absolutely anywhere behind their little roadside cafe...

Netune State Scenic Lookout
With 50 miles (80km) of our stop at La Colorada we had started to climb into the mountains, the roads were in good condition making riding a delight, stopping to just to catch a glimpse of the terrain that would otherwise pass by in a blur, because 100% concentration was require to safely traverse these roads...

We discovered a trail of greenery wiggling it's way up and over the roadside retaining wall, which was conveyed by some fierce looking ruddy brown Ants.

Military Checkpoint
We encounter our first Military Checkpoint at the Intersection of 16 & 12 between La Colorada & Yécora, no problems once we worked out all they wanted to know was where we came from that day...

Hotel Michel, Yécora
As the daylight drew to an end and temperatures rapidly dropping, we rolled into Yécora and settled on the Hotel Michel after a quick ride through town presented no better alternative, the Hotel was still in the process of being built, but what had been completed was nicer than expected, with a sort of Swiss Chalet meets the wilds of Mexico theme...

Best Veggie Pizza
Across the parking lot from the Hotel they had a small Restaurant, with a limited menu and kitsch decore...

Chille Colorado
We'll have Chille Colorado Plate please...

DAY FIVE : Yécora, Sonora to San Jaunito, Chihuahua
Higher & Colder
Main strret Pizza
We don't need no stinkin' daycare, the propritors little girl wanders free while all employed there keep a tentitive eye on her from a distance as they go about their daily routines...

Swine Transport
This guy was driving Pigs to Chihuahua, I'm glad we were ahead of him as the odor eminating from his cargo was not as appealing as the smell of cooking bacon...

Climbing back up into the mountains I couldn't help thinking that this so similar to much of the South West & that it could easily be mistaken for the US

Until you round a corner and see something like this...

Not exactly the best surface to paint on, I'm guessing their bushes got worn down to nubs...

Bush Walk to the Sounds
& they must have had some really tall ladders.

Winding through the mountains, we cross into Chihuahua, the roads so far have had very little traffic, mostly Trucks & Buses, the Truck drivers have been incredible at letting us get around them and toot & wave as we encounter one another multiple times during the typical pass / stop / re-pass, that occurs as we pull over to take photos along the ride.

Lisandro Inspects the BMW
Pull outs are few & far between, so we tend to take advantage of them, it doesn't hurt when the scenery is like this either.

Snoqualmie Falls
As we climb the weather seems to close in, the sky turns from azul to leaden, it's starting to get cold so we stop at Hotel De La Sierra in Cahuisori, they have one parking lot for motorized vehicles and another parking lot for grass fed transportation.

WA breakfast all day
Turning South off the 16 just before the town of Las Estrellas, we climb even higher over the mountains until we got too cold and have to pull over the layer-up, glad to not be stopping here for the night...

Cold riding in Chihuahua
As we were high enough in altitude to have experienced snow & ice, thankfully most of it wasn't on the roads,
though it's hard to tell from this photo as we stopped on an exposed area but the sides of the road that fell in shadow had a lot more snow and occasionally ice across the road, which fortunately for us was soft enough that it gave our tyres some purchase as we rolled over it ...

WA Apple Country
We arrived in San Juanito as the sun was setting, the town itself gives off a very unfavourable impression, but we found a place to stay and met a Traveling Tools Salesman there that spoke Excellent English who assured us we had definitely stumbled onto one of the best places to stay in town...

Little Stove of Happiness
The inside of the little forecourt lobby & restaurant was heated by a wood burning stove, that we took advantage of, Art would have kissed it if it wasn't for fear of burning his lips, a nice meal was prepared for us and the young man that helps run the Hotel & Sweet Factory next door strikes up a conversation with us in Broken English, which is great entertainment with a soft center of language barrier frustration...

DAY SIX : San Jaunito to Guachochi
Riding high in the Sierra Madre Occidental
The sun was out, so now we get to really see what San Juanito looks like in daylight...

The view from the parking lot didn't look promising, it seems the impression from the night before may have been justified...

Local Shorthaul Vehicle
Needless to say daylight had not reveled any hidden beauty in this town, but rather a threadbare working town,
with a dusty, smokey, weather beaten patina, however the people we encountered here were warm and pleasant...

Road to Batopilas
Happily putting San Jaunito in our mirrors he head for Creel.

Welcome To Creel
Welcome to Creel, famous as a get away for Mexican Tourists that ride the train up into the wild mountains wanting to escape the blazing summer heat...

Hangover Hospital
For the morning after the night before...

Local color
Tarahumara Indians wander the streets of Creel, they are famous for their long distance high altitude running...

Some of the local women wore very colourful outfits

BC roads Closed
& they tended to be...

Very Short
Very short compared to the women wearing typical western clothing.

Boots & Buckles
Every towns seems to have one & Creel is no exception, they love their boots & buckles here in Mexico...

south of Creel
We were riding a fine line between the Western Sierra Madre Occidental & the Altiplanicie Mexicana...

This seemed like we were looking at the ragged edge on the High Plain that stretched off to where it would encounter the other side of the Sierra Madre Occidental several hundred miles to the East

The road ran down between spectacular shear rock formations...

Looking down the valley
as we worked our way down this huge forested valley...

Burrito Road
The excellently surfaced roads seemed to wind on forever with only concern being what possible road hazard could be around the next blind corner, an example would be these terribly indifferent Burrows...

DAY SIX : Guachochi to Batopilas
Extreme roads, spectacular scenery....
Overnight parking
Having arrived in Guachochi after dark, we checked into Hotel Santa Eugenia, it was 200 pasos ($16 US) for the room and 40 pasos ($3 US) for a heater, the woman that checked us in spoke absolutely no English and somehow figured if she spoke really fast without pauses and repeated herself enough times we would magically understand her, I finally worked out that she was telling us "Don't go to sleep with the propain heater running or you will die"

We found a Barbeque joint for dinner, it was a local hot spot and we became the entertainment by just being there, the food was good, but at this point I was pretty over meat and was craving fruit and veggies...

Hotel Santa Eugenia
In Mexico it seems that everyone is sensitive to the fact we want a secure place to park our bikes, often it will be a place down the road from the estabishment you're staying at, nevertheless there always seems to be somewhere for the bikes if you ask...
We find a really nice breakfast spot and have a relaxing meal, then it's a matter of finding fuel, oil and provisions before getting out of town, after getting turned around we spot a Police blockade and Art confirms we're heading in the right direction, Copper Canyon here we come...

Now we're in the country
Leaving the sealed roads behind we drift onto some nice dirt roads,

small farming village
not realizing that this is about as good as it gets,

Sharing the road
we saw no other motorcycles or any cars, only full size pick-ups and trucks travelling on these roads...

shear drop both sides
Shear drop on both sides...

Stopping at a vista spot to survey the vastness of the wilderness, the thought that this road does not appear on Google Maps, in fact barely registers on all but the most detailed maps of the area it puts things into perspective...

Mini Cathedral
No wonder the grandest shrine I saw was on this stretch of road...

Craig Watercrossing 1
One of the many time we had to ford water on the road,

Craig Watercrossing 2
I wouldn't want to do this during the rainy season though...

Craig Watercrossing 2
Yeah! not lost, we discovered some of the worst roads have the best signs and vise versa...

Dry & Happy
We stop to ask how far to Batopilas and are told "Una Hora" (1 Hour), we soon realized that dealing with these roads that roughly translates into 4 hours (cuatro horas) we also discovered that in Mexico people don't point when they give directions, rather they wave their arms in the general direction in grand sweeping motions and talk as fast as they can, not so good if your Spanish is weak and you're at a Y in the road?!

Dry & Happy
An hour down the road and the Canyon starts to appear with no sign of civilization except the narrow dirt ribbon that we're following as it snakes through the wilderness.
Getting down for the Photo Op it is almost impossible for the camera to capture the scale...

But I'll try.

long way down
from my perch on the edge of a shear drop above this gully.

Main Road
Whenever a decent pull out spot presented itself we tended to take advantage.

steeper than it looks
As the road typically didn't offer much reprieve and tended to be much steeper than it looks in photos.

steeper than it looks
A patch of flat road, with a pull out and another shrine.

all downhill from here
I discovered going downhill was way more work & infinitely more treacherous for me, than going uphill.

catch your breath
Some shade and another shrine.

Curious little cow
Half way into the Canyon we stop for a snack, this curious little cow trotted down the road to check us and the bikes out, she was totally enthralled with Art's DR650.

Gentle Bend
Typical curve in the road, but looking the other way...

Devils Peak?
revealed views like this.

Reaching the bottom of the Canyon we followed the river downstream to Batopilas, following the road through town looking for a place to stay, we ended up in what we thought was a traffic jam only to discover that it was a dead end street where people parked their vehicles and the road actually turned to the left, sitting on our bikes confused as to why the traffic wasn't moving a gentleman leaning against the doorway of a Yellow & Blue building asked us if we liked Peanuts? holding out a brown paper bag full of them, "We're actually looking for a Hotel" he looked at us curiously and responded, "This is a Hotel !?" then assured us that Senor Martin will be back soon and He can check us in, so Hotel Real De Minas Room #1 became our habitación while in Batopilas.

Civilized end to the day
By the time all the formalities of check in, securing the bikes which ended up not surprisingly locked up a few doors down and across the road, we could finally relax and enjoy the courtyard that our room faced onto.

Nice room in Batopilas
Wandering through town, it seemed the place was warming up to a party, the town square was lit up and music music blaring, people slowly started drifting in...

Nice room in Batopilas
Looks like there was going to be dancing...

Glacier NP Bus
But we were too tired to hang around to see if it really evolved into anything.

We did find a place that sold stickers, I picked this one as it felt appropriate "I Survived The Road"

DAY SEVEN : Return to Batopilas
Drowned Bikes and Wrong Turns....
Glacier Upper Waterfall
Hotel Real De Minas was very quaint and comfortable, if only it had the Internet it would have been perfect says the tech addict.

Glacier NP Apline Flowers
The courtyard as a beautiful sanctuary during the day,

Motorcycle Parking Glacier NP
The family alter replete with nativity scene

and guest lounge, there was also a library cum museum that we only found out about by chance...

Vehicles parked at the end of the street that we mistook for a Traffic Jam.

Glacier NP Lower Waterfall
A few steps above the street was a small plaza with 2 of the better restaurants in town.

Looking back Glacier NP
With large shady trees and little artistic touches adding character the plaza...

Powering Up Evergreen MT
Right down to the trash cans of this immaculately kept space.

A few yards beyond the plaza you are reminded that you are not in the most hospitable of terrains

Lolo Fire Damage
& dwelling across the river show that not everyone in town lives the charmed life.

Wandering back through the town square past the bandstand...

Lolo 99 Miles to go
I couldn't help noticing the ornate detail of this structure that seems to be used daily, or should I say nightly,
Batopilas was the most festive place we stayed on the trip, there was load music and groups of people hanging out talking, drinking and generally having a good time every evening we were there.

Youths went unsupervised, but I was under the impression that if any of them steps out of line, that any adjacent adult would swiftly take care of any disciplinary action deemed appropriate.

395 lookig North OR
I couldn't help taking this photo, it reminded me of the leaning cowboy silhouette that you see on ranch gates in West Texas

"By A Smile"

"Presidencia Municipal" from what I gathered a Municipal President would be equivalent to something between a Mayor & a County Executive, and this building akin to something between a Town Hall & County Offices.

Cobbled streets and very steep terrain.

What caught my eye was, in the middle of Mexico and this building is decorated with Anchors?

Then I noticed the ornate railing detail.

me and my shadow
I'm not sure who this door on the side of the Church was built for as it was only about 4 1/2 feet (162cm) tall ?

All the windows were stained glass of simplistic design...

But the Madonna was very nicely done.

Time to hit the road, I inspect the only map I can find, pinned up on the entry hall wall of our Guest-house, I also took a photo of it for posterity...

Leaving Batopilas with the intention of climbing out of the Copper Canyon toward the West, back to the Gulf of California, we are soon back on dusty dirt roads, following the river we round the corner to see this, a 400 year old Jesuit Mission Satevó. known as the “Lost Cathedral of Satevó", because over the course of time all records of it were lost by the Catholic Church.

The travel further and seem to leave all traces of civilization behind as road conditions slowly deteriorate

The first sizable river crossing, I decide to wade across to the other side to survey the depth, not totally confident that I could make it but feeling committed I offered to go first...

Well I got over 2/3's of the way across before the bike lost forward momentum and the back wheel dug itself a trench to rest in, displacing the loose river rocks and submerging the upstream cylinder, leaving me trying to push it out of the hole.

Shit, shit, shit...

10 miles per Hour
Fortunately my side-stand was able to support the bike, while I surveyed the situation...

I decided to lighten the load and proceeded to carry anything that could be romoved to shore, before I was able to extract my drowned bike, Art's turn next, he made it half way across and fell in, however he was able to right the bike restart it and ride out... good thing we don't have to cross this river again!

Grand vista
After my bike dried out enough to run properly we set of out of the Valley...

Looking back at where we crossed the river, I was glad we were moving far from it.

After a couple of hours, we hadn't seen any of the things we expected to, according to directions & description of the route conveyed to us before our departure, we stumbled into a grove with 3 buildings, there was a greasy mechanic working on some heavy equipment as a few others watched.
Our arrival yielded a reaction of surprise followed by consternation once we established where we were trying to get to, Crap we have to go back the way we came as we missed the turn off just out of Batopilas.

alpine Canyon
Nooo! we had to do the river crossing again, this is what remains of the bridge that would have made life so much easier had it not been washed away...

This time I strip down to my underwear, put on my river-shoes and wade across with all my riding gear, luggage and anything else I can remove from the bike, The bike makes it 2/3's the way across (again) this time both cylinders get drowned and I end up chugging the bike out of the river on the starter motor alone, which turns out easier that trying to run the engine and slip the clutch as I did before... Art crosses without having to stop, carrying more speed he splashes through bouncing off the submerged river rocks with little grace, what it lacked in style was more than made up for by getting across without stalling or having to push the bike...

The Second Attempt to Leave Batopilas
Armed with better directions and an early start we head off for coast, what could go wrong?

We take on fuel at one of the local Casas De La Gasolina in Batopilas, syphoned from a jerry can and volume dispensed roughly estimated, it's pretty crude even by Mexican standards but when Pemex hasn't built a Gas Station for miles it's the only option.
I joke around with them "¿Es Premium?" (It's Premium?) "¿Que? No, No es superior" (What? No, it's not Premium)
This has them laughing when they realize I was pulling their legs...

We rapidly climb out of the West side of the Valley, looking back a Batopilas I think to myself 'I'm going to miss this little town, but I'm glad I'm not coming back down this road' as this stretch of road is extremely steep with a loose surface and no run-off.

The country side was spectacular, but the road remained a challenge, Art had just fallen after an awkward stall mid corner, where this Arroyo (Gully Stream) crossed the road in the and had played havoc with the surface.
We took a break ,so I wander up it thinking how this would totally destroy the road in full flow during the Rainy Season

The Arroyo looking back up into the mountain.

Again we passed through a country side that seemed untouched by man except for the tiny ribbon of exposed dirt,
occasionally interrupted by minute Villages that could have been from a bygone era if it wasn't for the brand new Pick-ups in the dirt driveways and Satellite Dishes on the roofs of the Adobe shacks...
We arrived at the Village of San Juan de Dios which had some Grade Villas with high walls and a section of concrete roadway running past them, we stopped to confirm that we were on the right track, the only people in the vicinity were young men many of them had pistols or automatic rifles visibly in their possession, it never occurred to me at the time that they were probably employed by the local Drug Cartel, but as we must not have registered any type of threat to the local enterprise little attention was paid to our presence.
With confirmation we were heading in the right direction we continued down the road...

But at Rio Urique we were thwarted again...

With the experience from the day before and knowing there was a least one more bridge on this route that may or may not be there, we headed back to San Juan de Dios and after talking to the locals that had failed to tell us about the bridge being out, they were now saying the water was this high, pointing to a spot on my bike higher than the intake to my Air-box and that only 4x4's have been getting through.
However there was no real way of knowing if what they were telling us was actually true and there seemed to be no interest in helping us find a 4x4 to convey us and our bikes across the watercourse, so we decided to return to Batopilas yet again...

The tinge of defeat can bring on a false sense of fatigue, so I decided I was going to try and enjoy the unique sections of the road that we glossed over in our hast trying to leave the Canyon, like this stretch of road that ran along the bed of a stream
Also Art had lost one of his Crocs along the route and I was optimistic we would find on the return decorated with at least one tyre track, we did and it had the predicted tyre tread embossing, finding it did lift our spirits as we rode back down into Valley.

Though we were in Cartel country, the only time I felt concern was the Trucks & Pick-ups who's paths we crossed, all smelt of Marijuana and had a Squads worth of armed men in the back, that wasn't so much the issue, the fact they made absolutely no effort to slow down, move over or give way meant that we had anticipate their arrival and be out of their way for our own safety, if that wasn't scary enough one particular Pick-up we encountered in both direction had a loud-mouth youngster that thought it was funny to aim his Assault rifle at us yelling and making mock gun sounds, all I could think is one day he'll accidentally shoot an innocent because he's such an idiot.
Ironically he looked like he was the youngest and smallest of the group, trying way too hard to impress his comrades, while the rest of team flashed us the "we're sorry about him" look as they passed us in a whirlwind of dusty red...

The Third Attempt to Leave Batopilas
Success & Disaster, we made it out at a price?

"Today we're going to make it out of here" we told each other over breakfast, we had come to the conclusion the only road we knew for sure would let us leave was the one we ventured in on.
Looking back into the Canyon as we climb out...

We stop and survey the roads we rode the previous days, ahead of my finger you can see a faint scar on the mountain where had climbed out of the other-side of the Valley just the previous day...

The ride was going well, we knew exactly where were going and how long it was going to take for the first time since we left the sealed road days before, with this knowledge I started to relax and enjoy the road, but I must have let my guard down just a little too far, about an hour from the asphalt I realized as I came into a corner, thinking I should be in first not second, before I could shift down the bike caught the edge of a Truck tyre track and did a gentle 10mph high-side, catching my foot between the ground and the pannier wrenching it around, I heard a crack and thought "Oh Shit" I jumped up and to my surprise even though it hurt it was able to stand and walk on it.
I took off my Boot, no bone sticking out, but the ankle looked a bit weird, so Art put a compression bandage on it, Boot went back on, checked the bike and we rode off.

After my little scrape I was so glad to see the back of this sign "Termina Pavimento" (Pavement Finishes)...

Plus my dutiful GS was showing signs of abuse and though it is designed to be capable of traveling almost any type of road, it is definitely happier on good sealed surfaces.

The dusk seem to hang for over an hour as we drifted across the Altiplanice Mexicana (Central Plateau of Mexico),
we pushed on till after dark and agreed that the next sizable town we come to lets find accommodation and a hot meal, The town we arrived at seemed to be having an event, there were Police parked at each end of the town on the main road scrutinizing the traffic as it approached the crowded pavilion, after a pass through we hadn't found a Hotel so Art rides up to the Balaclava wearing officers sitting in their Pick-up and convinces them to escort us to the best Hotel in town, A short ride following the speeding Police truck with it's lights flashing and skidding to halt outside a newly constructed building meant we had arrived.
I noticed there was a restaurant next door and was relieved as it meant it didn't have to walk too far for a meal, after checking in we head to the restaurant to find it closed, Crap..!? The Hotel proprietor notices and whistles across the parking lot at a woman getting into her car, an abrupt exchange between the two and the woman returns to restaurant and opens it up just for us.
We are a little embarrassed but relieved that this happened, so we made the effort to order as much food as we could possible stuff in to compensate for the special re-opening.

Balleza Municipality, Chihuahua to Rodeo, Durango
Taking it easy and hopping along...

Art was quite taken by the ladies that ran the restaurant and was keen to dine there the next morning...

He went so far as to appoint himself unofficial waiter for our table and buzzed in out of the Kitchen which was clearly marked "Personal Solamente" (Staff Only) but surprisingly he never got shooed out of there and even managed to get them to pose for a photo.

Tito, who spoke perfect English, had assured us the night before that the ladies didn't mind re-opening for us when he realized that we were a little uncomfortable with what had transpired, considering we hadn't asked for it to happen.
He joined us for Breakfast and we discovered he had lived in Colorado for 10 years, but was happy to be back in Chihuahua where he supervised the construction of schools in remote villages, "When I lived in the States every time I looked at my watch I was late for something" he told us, "You have no time there." He went on to explain that he is able to live his life now that he has returned home, he still works hard to get the job done but once the goals are met the rest of the time is his, in the states, the harder you work the more you're expected to work and personal time just disappears, so you find yourself feeling like you're always late for take care of others business.

Between Art's fascination with ladies of Restaurant Huvana, a great conversation with Tito and my inability to move to quickly, we ended up leaving Belleza closer to Lunchtime than Breakfast.

We arrived at the outskirts of Parral in the early afternoon and couldn't work out the route to take through town, Art spotted a young guy riding an 80's Honda Goldwing with a Motorcycle Club Insignia painted on the back of it, and asked for directions, we got escorted through town all the way to the last intersection before the route turned back into the Main Highway South, Handshakes and Well-wishing and we were off following the road through the sunburnt plains.

We crossed into to Durango State, deciding we weren't going to make as far as we hoped, the consensus was get as far as we can before dark and reassess, by dusk we got as far the town Abasolo, it was a distance from the main Highway and what we could see of it from there plus the comings and goings, we didn't hold out much hope of it having any descent Hotels or Restaurants, so we pushed on to Rodeo.
Arriving in Rodeo after dark meant nearly everything was closed, plus every Hotel was a dump, finally on the south end of town we found a halfway descent place at a modest price and checked it.
Food was another matter, all the restaurants, including the one attached to the Hotel, were closed.
We were told that there are places by the side of the road that will still be open, so rode back up the highway and spotted a Taco stand and pulled in.
The food looked good and fresh and the crowd happy, we ordered Tacos and Hamburguesa, which turned out to be one of the best Hamburger's I've ever had and the Tacos were excellent too.
Seeing that the table next to us was drinking Beer we order Cerveza as well, only to be told "No Hay Cerveza" we discovered that it was B.Y.O. the table next to us offered us one each of theirs, so we got into another one of those Crap Spanish / Broken English conversions that entitled us to another free Cerveza each once we drained the first, plus a big adiós and wave from those patrons as we rode off after the meal.

Rodeo, Durango to Mazatlán, Sinaloa
Amazing ride nowhere to stop and take photos...

The next morning we ate a hardy breakfast in the restaurant attached to the Hotel.
Then leaving Rodeo fairly early continuing South, the roads were good, lightly trafficked and only interrupted by well managed roadworks that barely impeded our progress, reaching the outskirts of the city of Durango we used the ring road to connect to the Main Highway to Mazatlán, initially it is quite straight as it undulates across rolling hills, low on gas and hungry we pull off and re-fuel both man and machine, I also find some painkillers, which makes the rest of the days ride even better.
At El Salto the road turns into a spectacular ride out of the Sierra Madre, around beautiful sweeping bends, passing through 100's of tunnels and over almost as many bridges, but it comes at a price we have to pay 256 Paso's ($20 US) in tolls, we catch sight of the Old "Libre" (Free) Highway on occasion that is supposed to be a fantastic ride too, but it is many miles longer, with many more twists and takes nearly twice as long to traverse.
Unfortunately on the Toll road there was nowhere to pull over to take photos, even though I didn't want to interrupt such a fantastic ride it would have been nice to have a record of the spectacular visas as we glided down either side of these massive canyons.
We had dropped from 6,500+ feet (2,000+m) to Sea Level and arrive a Mazatlán and to what feels like a heatwave to us.
But not before Art asks for directions from a couple in a Ford Explorer as we wait at a set of traffic lights, once again we end up being escorted to our destination, the venerable Hotel Belmar, a favourite with the overland traveler crowd, because it's cheap and a great location even if it's a bit rough around edges...

We had inadvertently timed our arrival to witness Mazatlan's legendary Sunset, which these teen girls seemed indifferent to, I can only imagine they are texting each other about stuff and things ...

After haggling a room rate, we ride through the lobby and park the bikes in a courtyard of an unused section of the Hotel, Up to the room, spruce up bit and go off to find a meal, I end up having Smoked Marlin Quesadillas & Beer, good stuff, unfortunately food here is tourist prices which is to be expected but stings a little after having traveled through rural Mexico up till now.

Exploring Mazatlán
An enjoyable day hobbling around Mazatlán...

Art dutifully got up and sourced Coffee as he had done the entire trip, while I rested with my feet up.
He had been told that one attraction in town worth checking out was the Mercado Central (Central Market) that has been in operation since 1895, We caught one of the White Open-air Fiberglass bodied VW powered Taxis to the Market whizzing down some delightful avenues on the way.

This stall was selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables, many dried, or battered & fried or dusted with powered sugar, I liked the old hand painted sign and the 50 Años De Dulce Tradición (50 years of sweet tradition) says it all.

Of course no Mercado would be complete without the smelly section, Meat in every conceivable cut and preparation, definitely not for the squeamish.

Feeling hungry I scoped out a few of the Food stalls, Art suggested one that had plenty of seating available and I flatly refused, as I had spotted one that was packed with patrons and sat down at the first available seat to Art's consternation the seats either side of me were already taken, I point at the only other empty seat and he grabs it.
Turns out as I suspect there was a reason this place was popular with the locals, the food was good, service prompt, portions large & prices reasonable, Art made it clear he also enjoyed it as he reordered (I think) twice more and really made a meal of it. I got up from counter and bought a Hochata (tastes like a rice pudding milkshake) from a stall opposite which was the best I'd ever had...

On our way out of the Mercado I see this Hat Stall and wonder sarcastically to my self, "guaranteed to be the genuine article", well at least they seemed to have got all the spelling right unlike some the knock-off's I'd seen on my travels in Asia.

I told Art, if we can take it slow I wanted to walk back rather than Taxi, so I could explore and get some photos, first stop was the Cathedral that I had seen on the ride to the Mercado

The plaza across from the Cathedral had a pleasant atmosphere, what caught my eye was the flock of circling pigeons, they passed over like clockwork in a great sweeping circle.

This little girl was getting up close, I was a little concerned she might be attacked as she wandered amongst them with bird feed in her hands.

Walking back to the Hotel I was struck by how many cafe lined plazas there where, and how pleasant it made the town feel...

I was also struck by the colours of the buildings, it added to the depth of he place and nicely contrasted with the deep blue sky...

Street art was abundant too, adding even more character, this piece in particular caught my eye,

as it had for a professional photographer too, later that day I spotted this photo-shoot in progress.

This Kitchen-hand caught me photographing him, as he took a break from his duties, looking inside the Kitchen and Restaurant I would say this establishment would be right up there with with some of the best, but the Chef & Maitre d' didn't look like they appreciated the intrusion so I refrained from photography.

Any building that appeared abandoned it seemed fell victim to the Graff Artists, taking an eyesore and transforming them into art, many of the murals look like they had been 'up' for awhile...

Even the Tagging was cute...

Of course there was the more traditional artistic displays.

Art it seems is a big part of this community, I was told that next time I visit Mazatlán I should make sure I have a nice outfit to wear & it coincides with one of the First Friday Artwalks.
The reason is, that many of the Grand Homes open up to public to allow art lovers to see their extensive collections, but if you're not presentably attired forget about getting through the door.

Colour is a big deal in Mazatlán if this business like this are anything indication...

I love this treatment of the Mazatlán Crest...

Arriving at the Beach, I have to walk a little further up the coast to get a photo of this monument to Pedro Infante....

Which looks over the beach where we are staying.

I love this sign, it must work as I didn't see a single dog turd.

Returning to the Hotel which in itself deserves exploring, many parts of this once grand building are in a shocking state.

But it seems there is hope for this old Hotel as right outside our room repairs are underway.

I watch the Laundry maid working, the ancient washing machine looks like a concrete mixer and drying is courtesy of the sub-tropical sun.

Our room is comfortable and clean, the only problem was a lack of hot water, I ran it for fifteen minutes at the insistence of the front desk to yield no more than skin temperature, oh well at least it wasn't cold...

Each floor had it's common area wish was a nice touch.

I loved all the tile patterns, not that there seemed to be any consistent theme as there were so many different patterns used throughout the complex....

Here's just a sample of the colours and designs.

We had been invited to join the Ex-Pat residents on the roof for the sunset, arriving just in time to watch the light-show as the swirling clouds lit up like flames...

Slowly fading as the sun descended below the horizon.

I hear church bells and look back toward the town we had explored earlier that day to see that chimes are coming from the Cathedral.
We are invited into one of the residencies for a glass of wine and conversation by a couple from Canada, They rent their apartment annually but only reside there 6 month a year, it still works out to cheap by US/Canadian standards.

Walking back through one of the disused parts of the Hotel that separate the residencies from the regular Hotel we pass roosting Swallows that have made this their nightly abode using any crack, or hanging debris for a perch.

DAY THIRTEEN - FOURTEEN - FIFTEEN : Mazatlán to Sacramento
A three day blast back home from Mazatlán...

Feeling a bit drained by the trip and being in some discomfort from the twisted ankle, I wasn't sure how the 1,700 mile (2,735km) ride home would go...

Anyway I got up earlyish the first day and was ready to ride out of Mazatlán just before 8am, saying goodbye to Art at the Door of our room I waddled down to the bike, started it up and rode through the lobby out onto the Road, following the foreshore up the coast until I was confident that if turned inland I could make my may to the Toll Highway North, before I know it I have crossed the Tropic of Cancer as I push on North.
The ride went without incident and by the time daylight was fading I had reached the outskirts of Guaymas, I decided to turn off and follow the road into town, the town itself looked interesting and was on the coast of the Gulf of California but my mood didn't lend itself to exploration and I ended up riding to the other end of town without discovering a place to stay or even stop and have a meal that caught my imagination, instead I ended up parked outside a Tyre Shop putting on extra layers as the temperature had dipped now that the sun had been down for an hour.
With the caution of "Whatever You Do, Don't Ride At Night" swimming in the back of my consciousness I headed for Hermosillo and familiar ground.
90 MILES (140km) later I rolled into Hermosillo and headed for Hotel Kino, They remembered me and gave me a discount, I had a quick shower and wandered off to find diner, I found a small neighborhood Taqueria and had one of those encounters with the locals where they enjoy the lighthearted challenge of dealing with the idiot that came to Mexico and only knows a few words and phases in Spanish...

The second homeward bound day, started out with another early start, an easy 170 mile (275km) ride to the
US-Mexico Border, stopping only for tolls, a meal and to have my Bike inspected as I hand in my Vehicle Importation paperwork for a refund, I managed to get to the actual Border in 4 hours only to be lined up and waiting to clear Immigration for 2 more hours... Back on US soil I put the hammer down and was West of Phoenix AZ as the sun was setting, I stopped for a meal and decided I needed some Pain Medication for my Ankle, it had been 3 days since I last took anything for it and I figured if I was going to push on I shouldn't have to deal with aches and pains on top of it all.
I turned North off the 10 at Quartzsite AZ onto the 95, by the time I got to Parker AZ I was getting cold and tired, I checked my iPhone for Motels, they were all priced $75 and up !? OK what's the next town? Needles CA. What are the Motel prices there? $35 and up... Guess I'm riding through to Needles, which would put me at just over
580 miles (935km) for the day.
The first place I came to was an America's Best Value Inn, I wake the Manager who is asleep in his chair behind the counter, the conversation went like this "Do You Have a Single Room?" "Yes, it's 50", "Why does my Phone say $35", "OK you win 35 plus tax", "How much is the Tax? don't tell me $15", "I don't make the rules", "Here's $40 OK?", "OK" It turned out to be a fantastic room and came with a very basic breakfast which will probably save me $10 over having to stop and buy something.

On the last leg home, after my breakfast of Grape Jelly on Wonder-bread Toast & Instant Coffee, I pack up and head West on the 40 toward Barstow CA feeling relieved that I only have 550 miles (885km) left to get home.
The ride was uneventful except for a Trucker I passed flashed his lights, blasted his horn and waved as I passed,
I could tell it was friendly and noted that his Rig was from a company called Heartland Express, Half an hour later I pulled off to stretch and took the Photo above, when I hear distant Air Horns, looking back up the Freeway I see that same truck coming down the Hill lights flashing & driver waving, the same happens again when I re-pass him, this went on all the way to Mojave CA where I finally lost him as I climbed over Tehachapi Pass.
After that it was just a slog home North on 99 only stopping briefly for fuel and food, with the thought of soon seeing my girls driving me through the fatigue...

In Conclusion
The Good & The Bad...

Well I have to say that the trip was an experience that I'm glad I had, it was tough in spots with long days in the saddle including several days of some of the hardest dirt road riding I've ever done.
The language barrier was an issue at times, but somehow we managed with a combination of our weak Spanish and their Broken English, to order meals, find places to stay, get directions, and on occasion even get a smile and have a laugh with the locals...

However, 2 weeks after I returned home it became apparent that my "Sprained Ankle" didn't seem to be improving,

I eMailed my Doctor with a photo of my Swollen Ankle and he set an X-Ray Appointment for me, this is what it revealed, I had indeed broken the Fibula, and surgery was scheduled for the next morning...

I woke up with a cast on, and was told it the operation was a success...

I now have Metal in both the Femur & Fibular of my Right Leg...

& scars to prove it.