Ride – Eat – Sleep – Ride

Not a bad way to spend the winter upon retrospect. I suppose we were both getting a little restless with our long stays and decided to get some more riding in. It seems like some of the best motorcycle roads in Mexico travel between the mountains and the ocean. So, our destination after the mountain town of Taxco was Zihuatanejo, still in the state of Guerrero.

Google maps initally suggested a longer but faster route but I changed it to ride down a remote two lane road MEX51 and then MEX134 to the ocean. The time? Almost nine hours?? No way… maybe.

Soon we were riding east on MEX51 climbing higher into the remote mountains. The road narrowed and started making fun tight turns around every hill.

There were plenty of views through breaks in the trees as we climbed towards 6,000 feet.

Then, from time to time, usually when approaching a small village there would be hand made topes (speed bumps) in the road warning us to slow down. As we got closer to the first one we saw guys standing around with guns and masks. Clearly, these wern’t the municiple police, the state police, the national guard or the army. We had seen plenty of those guys around and were very familiar with their various uniforms. A guy on my right side with a rifle with a long clip waved for me to stop. This was unusual because we usually just get flagged by. He was a stocky guy dressed like a rancher with a big cowboy hat. It was one of those snap judgement calls, stop or…. punch it, fly over the speed bumps and haul it out of there. Something told me I would probably be ok stopping.

I noticed some of his amigos on the left had a plastic bucket like they were collecting donations. Hmmm, donations? Charity? Some type of imformal toll? When I stopped the hombre didn’t look especially harmful and he wasn’t pointing whe weapon at us so I wasn’t too nervious. He asked where we were going and I replied in my best Spanish that we were going to the mar. Either he didn’t understand what I was saying which is highly probable, or, by the look on his face he didn’t believe us because it was a long, long way to ride on a motorcycle. He looked us over and thought about it for a second and then just waved us on while shaking his head.

I stopped at the guy with the bucket and reached for my toll road coins I have accessible in a top pocket and threw in a few for good measure. Couldn’t hurt.

I decided it wasn’t probably a good idea to be messing with my helmet camera around these dudes. Even at the military/police stops I usually have my camera off. The next day I did happen to have my camera recording when we came to a similar stop. I grabbed a video frame and zoomed a little so you get the idea.

After that first encounter we came to about a dozen more exactly like that as we rode on the remote mountain road in the state of Guerrero. Without exception they waved us through, sometimes I contributed to the bucket but not always. Once when I decided to not pay someone yelled after us, didn’t hear what he said.

Another time we stopped just past one of the checkpoints to remove a layer because the temperature was rising as we dropped towards the ocean. They kept a casual eye on us and I was watching their operation. Not everyone dropped a coin in their bucket and I couldn’t detect a reason for donating or not.

We really did have a great ride and became used to the occasional stop by masked men brandishing weapons. Later that night at the hotel I was talking with a local and I asked about the informal toll collectors. He didn’t seem concerned and explained that the were probably a group of locals who were monitoring the road into and out of their villages. The donations were to support their effort. In my mind I could imagine a dozen other reasons but decided to go with the explanation given.

As usual we had excitement entering Zihuatanejo getting lost on the narrow, steep streets looking for Hotel Irma. Funny thing about booking.com, they have a button on the app that says “directions.” I pushed that on my phone and followed the instructions and it took us to a totally different hotel… geesh. We eventually got it sorted out and had a nice stay for one night. It seemed like it might be a nice place to visit for a few days. We had a nice sunset and a good nights sleep.

The next stop Acapulco. Ha, normally I would have skipped the big tourist town but a warning light on my motorcycle was telling me I needed to change the oil. Really? Yes, we have already ridden over 6,000 miles so I suppose that made sense. I called ahead and found there was a BMW motorcycle dealer on the main street next to the beach so we booked two nights at the Hotel Fiesta Americana. Not really our type of place but it was right on the beach and almost directly across from the BMW dealer.

It was a really nice ride along the coast. We saw this guy heading to the big city, probably had a gig in town.

Stopped at a nice little roadside space for lunch.

Soon we were checked in and out for a walk on the beach.

We stopped at a little beachside bar for a drink and to listen to some live music. These guys were pretty good and we stayed for their whole set. They sang a mix of latin, jazz and clasic rock songs. Most in english.

Interesting because when I went to talk to them after their set they mostly only spoke Spanish. Still, my Spanish skill must be improving because we had a good talk about music. I told them we would be back the next night. When we did return the bass player insisted I jump on stage to play! I left my phone with Deby and joined in a raucous version of a ZZ Top song. I couldn’t believe how many people in the audience jumped up to take my picture… what did they think I was one of the ZZ Top guys?? Oh, everyone was taking pictures except Deby… so no photographic evidence!

The rest of the time in Acacupulco was spent taking care of the motorcycles, which became a longer ordeal than I expected, and exploring the area around the hotel. Honestly, the city was not what I expected – at all. I, um, sort of… Liked it! No, really. It was a really cool vibe, busy but not too busy. The beach was excellent, there were endless really good restaurants along the main street. The people seemed to go out of their way to be friendly. The people hawking things were nice about it and left when you said no. We hardly saw any gringos, maybe none. I asked about that at the bar with music and was told they mostly just get Canadians because their news media hasn’t scared them off like the news in the US does.

There were dozens of really good Al Pastor taco places, this was just one.

So here’s another sunset picture….. who would have thought how much we ended up liking Acapulco…

Now with fresh oil in both bikes we were on a mission. Time was getting short to the start date of our ride with our friend GPS Kevin. We had been planning on meeting Kevin for his Mexico tour since it was announced back in summer. The meeting spot was just on the outskirts of Mexico City and we only had a few more days to get there. We wanted to get back to Oaxaca to explore the city some more and try the delicious mole sauce the city is famous for. It was too far for a one day ride so we decided to stay along the coast and visit the city of Puerto Escondido.

There is only one way to go, south on the famous MEX200. That road follows most of the coast from north to south. Once south of Acapulco the road became more remote as it followed the curvy coast line. There were more than a few narrow places where the grasses threatened to overtake the highway.

Once again we stopped for lunch at a roadside stand. Deby took this picture of their kitchen.

We arrived in Puerto Escondido and checked into the Hotel Acroiris. The city was recommended to us and a nice stop and we were surprised. As usual, it’s on a beautiful beach with plenty of beachside restaurants but what was not expected was the lack of big resort style hotels. Our hotel was modest and across from the beach. When we went for our evening walk we were surprised to see what appeared to be the young backpacking crowd. Clearly the city was on the bus route for backpackers and probably was known as an inexpensive beach stay. No worries. It wasn’t crowded at all and we had a nice stay.

We ate at a restaurant that had a sofa pulled up to a beautiful natural wood table under a covering with green LED lighting. This picture only sort of shows it but the green really set off the beautiful sunset.

I ordered some type of dish that was mostly a pile of cooked bananas. I asked about it and was told it’s a Puerto Rician dish.

Funny how the green light didn’t really make it look very flattering, but it tasted great.

Deby ordered what was apparently an olive salad.

We did have one of the better sunsets…. I’m including these for my friends in the US who are having to put up with some bad weather.

Ha, so just now as I’m typing this the power just went out at the hotel. Hmmm, all normal. But since the battery on my laptop isn’t that great I think now will be a good time to stop. Next we head up into the mountains looking for mole and and then onto another GPS Kevin adventure. Read more about it here: https://www.gpskevinadventurerides.com/upcoming-rides/mixteco-double-knot-22

Thanks for following!

Donn and Deby

Let’s Ride! Into the mountains.

The destination for the day was the town of Patzquaro, Michoacan. Not far from Santa Clara de Cobre but we, of course took the long way around. Literally, we wanted to make the trip around Lake Patzquaro to see the famous artisans around the lake. We stopped at a few places but mostly just enjoyed the nice two lane route with scenic views as we made our way to Patzquaro. We arrived early enough to explore the town a little but were getting restless and spent some more time planning our next adventure.

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The Search for Copper Artesians

Time to leave PV, the sun, the beach and all the tourists. We were on a mission to visit the very non-touristy Puebla of Santa Clara de Cobre in Michoacan, Mexico. We loaded up our neglected motorcycles that had been sitting for 10 days and were almost ready to leave when during my routine tire pressure check Deby’s relatively new rear tire measured exactly Zero PSI. The stiff sidewalls of the MotoZ GPS tire held up the bike so I thought my gauge was faulty. I checked her front tire and it was fine…. hmmm. Yup there was no air in the back tire. How did that happen???

A careful inspection found this…

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This will be a little different post. I keep reminding myself the is a motorcycle blog, far too many other bloggers write travel blogs and they are much better than this. But this time I wanted to include something about Zacatacas. Yes, we did ride our motorcycles there, it took us about 4 hours to ride the 180 miles from Durango to Zacatacas. We were on mostly two lane highway through farmland as we gradually gained elevation until we were over 7,000 feet at our destination.

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Espinazo del Diablo

The Devil’s Backbone. Click on the link to read about it on DangerousRoads.org. Why is it that we keep seeking out “dangerous roads?” I’ve lost track of how many of the routes touted on that website we’ve ridden. Well, here goes another one. Actually, Deby and I have ridden this road before…. three times! And we keep coming back. Our compadre, Richard said he had never heard of it and wasn’t sure where we were taking him. The night before we were to ride it he found the Dangerous Roads website. At breakfast he expressed concern about our plan.

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Copper Canyon

The road from Yecora to Creel is a top notch motorcycle road. It is full of endless curves at high elevations with bountiful scenic views.

My new motorcycle was loving the road almost as much as I was. The morning air was cool as we rode at elevations from 5,000 feet at our starting point of Yecora to nearly 9,000 feet before dropping down to 7,700 feet in Creel.

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Bisbee, Part 2

We had one more day in Bisbee and decided to spend it going for a ride and hike. We heard about the Chiricahua National Monument, “A wonderland of Rocks.” According to the National Parks Service website. After a night at the Grand Saloon going for a hike seemed like a good idea. We started the day having coffee with Destiny, a motorcycle friend, who recently moved to Bisbee from the Seattle area. It was fun to take time to hang out and hear her take on living in Bisbee.

On our way back to the hotel Destiny suggested we try the breakfast burritos at a small restaurant on our way. We had noticed the place but it was only open Thursday – Sunday. The burrito was great and good fuel for the day.

The 73 mile ride to the National Monument was pretty but uneventful. Like a lot of the riding in the area there were long stretches of two lane road with little traffic. With no reason to go slow we made it there in record time.

We had a short briefing by the park ranger and headed out with our packs on a 4 mile loop.

The trail wound through a huge section of rock formations called hoodoos.

It’s tricky riding with all our gear and then having to change into hiking attire. We’re trying out leaving everything with the bikes and covering the bikes with our lightweight covers so nobody can see what is there. Not sure how that will work in Mexico but it seemed to work ok in Arizona.

It was awesome walking around and through the rock formations.

We hiked through an awesome slot canyon.

What’s this? Rocks on the trail?

I’m not very good at selfies…

According to my Gaia app, we hiked an astounding 3.6 miles in 2 and a half hours and gained 520 feet in elevation. It was a nice day and easy walk.

We decided to take the long way home to check out a place a couple of people recommended, Rattlesnake Ranch in Dragoon, AZ. The following is in Roadside America:

This appears to be someone’s home rather than an official attraction. Metal statues of dinosaurs line the driveway (arrived 2019). Outdoor displays of helmets and meat grinders. Be careful where you walk; remember what this place is named.

Yes it is someone’s home. There is a huge welcome sign by the gate so we rode in and parked near the house. A couple of big dogs barked a threatening greeting as we dismounted the bikes. Soon an older gentleman came out to call off the dogs and looked at us warily. He seemed nice enough after talking for a bit but I was cautious after noticing all the “Premises Protected by Smith and Wesson” signs.

We noticed the metal sculptures along the driveway and asked about them. He looked at us for a minute before continuing that he purchased them for his wife who he “lost to Alzheimer’s recently and had to put her in a home.” Amazing. A truly humble double wide in the middle of nowhere down a long dirt road and he acquired this huge collection of metal art for his wife.

It was a nice stop, not a typical tourist trap but interesting. The sculptures were very well done and fun to check out.

As we rode back to Bisbee the breakfast burritos were long since digested and we were wondering we would find any food. The Mexican restaurant was closed, the place with breakfast burritos was only open for breakfast, the pizza place never did open as far as we could tell. Hungry, we walked from the hotel once again towards the downtown section. We heard there was a dive bar that had one item, bratwurst. Hmm, we both did grow up in Wisconsin so that might work but Deby wasn’t too convinced.

We walked pas the scene of the crime the previous night, the Grand Saloon. I seemed to remember they had a kitchen but didn’t see anyone eating. I saw this sign in the window.

Then this next one….

Huh? We looked in and saw a table with what looked like the same crowd from the night before. Getting ready to make crafts? It seemed weird but normal in a Bisbee sort of way. We kept walking. Finally we came to Bisbee’s Table, online it says “comfort food and old school character.” Ok, burgers, we could do that. Yes, we could get a table if we could wait 45 minutes. Whatever, we waited for about 20 minutes and the squeezed us in for a rather decent meal. We splurged for some nice wine to really live it up.

We overheard the couple in the table next to us say they were from Wisconsin, geesh, they’re everywhere! We didn’t say anything but on the way out we ran into them outside the restaurant and struck up a conversation. It turns out we both graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering although he graduated some years earlier. We laughed about engineering and Milwaukee when he suddenly looked very serious and said, “It’s our 55th wedding anniversary and we need to get to the hotel!” The grin on his face told us what I didn’t want to suspect. Cheeseheads!

Ok, just one more stop before Mexico!

Friday morning we had another breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club before detouring north to Silver City, New Mexico. Our memories of quirky Bisbee would be with us for awhile. Our tourist visas and motorcycle import permits wouldn’t valid until Monday so we needed to kill a few more days. We wanted to stop and visit a gallery in Silver City run by some friends of friends, Anamalia Gallery. We had been collecting some the art from the proprietors, Todd and Karen and wanted to pick up a couple more things to ship home. We had a great visit and it was nice to finally meet them in person.

We spent the weekend hanging out and took a day to ride up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The dwellings were cool but the road to get there was awesome. According to the NPS website:

You need time to drive to the Monument. The 44-mile trip from Silver City will take at least 1-1/2 hours and up to 2 hours due to the mountainous and winding nature of the road.

Perfect, we left early and had almost no traffic and made it there in an hour! The road twisted and turned with elevations between 6,000 and 7,000 feet and spectacular views.

Not the type of environment we expected in New Mexico.

I had never visited any of the cliff dwellings in the US before, it was pretty cool.

The approved trail took us inside some of the dwellings.

Soon we were heading back to Silver City making good time on the mountain road. Deby and I both had to remember to keep out toes lifted up on the pegs to keep them from scraping on the blacktop.

Our accommodations were at the Bear Mountain Lodge on the edge of town. We learned that the lodge was involved with a project called One Million Bones. Click HERE to learn more.

On June 8, 2013, approximately 2,500 volunteers from across the United States gathered on the National Mall to lay out 1,018,260 handcrafted bones as a visible petition against on-going genocide and mass atrocities. The installation of the bones was the highlight of a three-day event that included speakers from across the anti-genocide movement, a candlelight vigil, educational activities and an advocacy day.

The project is continuing on the property of the lodge. The bones were shipped to the property in boxes and now people are encouraged to take a bone and hike up a hill to place them in patterns in a designated open area.

We grabbed a couple of bones and started the hike up the hillside.

The path was lined with bones and was a sobering reminder of the project. We passed a couple walking a dog and it occurred to me that a dog might get rather excited being around so many bones. Nope, the owners told us that with just one sniff the dog knew they were ceramic and lost all interest. Probably a good thing.

At the top of the hill there was a HUGE area full of bone patterns. A million bones is really a lot. We made our small contribution of three bones by arranging them under a tree on a rock. Simple.

That’s it. We spent the next few days hiking and exploring a place called “The big ditch.” Hopefully the next post will be from Mexico! If they let us in….

Thanks for following,

Donn and Deby