Anyone who understands my travel habits knows how I hate to take the same route twice, even when returning from a particular destination. So, why would our return trip from Mexico be any different. If you read my post, Snowbirds Who Drove to Mexico, you got to see how it really is possible to drive there, and see some cool stuff along the way.
They say, what goes up must come down. But in our case we did it in reverse, driving back home from Mexico and taking a completely different route to get there. After six days of 8 to 10 hour drives on the way down, we slowed things down a bit on the way home, taking 7 days instead. Daily stopovers were chosen in advance for peace of mind.
To prep the Silver Bullet for the trip home I attended the local outdoor car wash for an in and out. I had them check the air filter, top up my fluids, and repair a sticky hood latch. All for the scandalous price of $12 Canadian.
From out winter home in Melaque, on the Pacific coast. we chose the town of Tonala as our first stop. It’s kind of a suburb, southeast of Guadaljara. We chose this stop as a place to shop, hearing that it is the place to go in Mexico for wholesale and bargain prices on everything from furniture to artwork. Our car was already quite full, but we managed to stuff in a large mirror, tin sunburst for our patio, and a set of handblown glasses, all for a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else.
We spent the next night in Saltillo, an automotive town just south of Monterrey. For safety-sake we never travelled at night and mostly stayed on the larger toll roads or highways. The drive was fairly uneventful until we hit a large rock and blew a tire, in the middle of nowhere. No problem, we thought, we had full coverage Mexican car insurance that included flat tires.
While I checked the damage, Cathryn called the emergency numbers for roadside assistance. No answer at one and a message from the other stating to call back during normal business hours. Another call to the Green Angles (roadside help) also went unanswered. Seems nobody was working on Saturday. I had the trunk empty by the time she got off the phone and found the spare tire.
Thankful that I took auto mechanics in high school, I was able to figure out the newfangled jack and how to change the blown tire. Problem #1 solved. Our GPS found a Goodyear about a half our away but they closed for their 3 hour siesta around the same time. Problem #2. Driving above the recommended speed limit on the ‘donut’ spare, we made it just in time.
After some discussion with the garage manager, with both of us faking each other’s language, he agreed to the repair. He and the tire jockey had their own discussion about working overtime to take care of us. With the new tire is was easy sailing to the U.S. border, until we got stopped for speeding about 15 miles shy of America. 117 in a 60. Shit!
Now, you have to understand that we never encountered a speed trap anywhere in Mexico the whole three months in country, and for the most part I didn’t think police could afford radar guns. I’d heard stories of them using hair dryers to extort money from gringos, but I’ve seen my share of radar guns and got to see the digital readout for myself.
Add another 200 bucks to the cost of travel. There are few posted signs in the area, where it seems the cops prey mostly on the heavy truck traffic heading for the border. Perhaps the Silver bullet set a new land speed record. I never saw a 60k sign, I swear. They call that racing here at home. The border was a welcome site and we headed for New Orleans.
Our first stop in the U.S. was in Sugarland, just south of Houston, where we found a hotel near a Rudy’s Smokehouse. We’d stopped at one near Austin on the way down and had to do a repeat for some Texas Barbeque. No more tacos! Highway signs in Louisiana for Boudin and Crackling got the best of us and we stopped to check out the local snack food. The latter being something like pork rinds with some meat still attached, and sprinkled with cajon spice.
From there we were able to get into New Orleans early the next afternoon, where we found the coolest Airbnb in Algiers Point, across the Mississippi River from downtown NOLA. Only a 5 minute ferry ride from Canal Street, we were blown away by our quaint little neighborhood, with it’s colorfully painted shotgun style houses and eclectic cafes and restaurants. Our Airbnb was actually an old gas station at one time.
I’d been to NOLA once before but Cathryn hadn’t so we started with a trolley tour along Canal Street, then through the Garden District to ogle the fine mansions. We got off in the French Quarter and took in touristy things like beignets at Café du Monde, the waterfront, and Bourbon Street. We chowed down on Willie’s Fried Chicken while listening to live music on Frenchman Street.
The best meal we had was back across the river at the Dry Dock Cafe, where we sampled Alligator sausage, seafood gumbo, a turkey Po Boy, and bread pudding. Our best breakfast was also in Algiers Point at the Tout de Suite Cafe, where we also scored a cool piece of stained glass art. They say NOLA is all about music and food. We ate our share and Cathryn gave her leftovers to hungry street people.
Our last night was spent along the Interstate, somewhere, less than a day’s drive from home. Most of the Covid bullshit was over by the time we hit Canada, and only had to produce our passports. With our side trips in Mexico we did a total of about 10,000 kilometers or 6,000 miles. Cheers to the Silver Bullet.