The Road North


From San Miguel it was time for us to head north, back to the States. It was three 200 mile days to the border, which is way at the extreme for us. In Mexico, even with toll highways, we only average thirty miles an hour including stops. The first two days were all up at elevation, 7,500 plus feet, and on day three it was all downhill back to just about sea level, and the corresponding heat.

These are just random shots taken out the window as we made our way out of the country.

When we got to Laredo it was ridiculous—107 degrees in the shade, and I don’t even want to know what it was on the bridge to cross the border. We were literally the only vehicle on the bridge without air conditioning, which made us very popular with all of the vendors who loved actually being able to talk to someone instead of just holding stuff up in front of tinted windows. They also loved the fact that we had a handful of pesos in our pockets that wouldn’t do us any good back in the States.

As we sat here on the hot tarmac something rather disgusting happened. Disgusting, but not very unusual when you live in Mexico. Small cockroaches started coming out of nowhere around the truck. Like really small fingernail-sized roaches. It was gross, but given the situation at the time it was really just an annoyance more than anything. The heat was killing us, not the roaches.

So anyway, we finally get to the front of the line and we joke with the kids that if the officer asks if we’ve got any pets do not tell him about our little cucarachas. We get our typical shake down from the U.S. side—how long have you been in Mexico, don’t you work, where is your home, what are you bringing back with you? We must appear to be the most suspicious gringos. They figure that we figure if we drive through in an absurd vehicle, and throw a couple sweaty blond kids in, they won’t suspect us of packing the seats with bails of marijuana.

So, he’s finally going to let us through, when Ouest screams from the backseat. He peeks his head back around the window, with passports in his hand, and says “What’s going on?”

Ouest, who was just swatting a cockroach off of her leg, zips her lips up tight, eyes darting from the officer, to Ali, to me. Then we all start laughing, and fill him in on our hilarious cockroach story. He doesn’t laugh. He probably wishes he didn’t have to let us into his country. Hands back our passports and waves us through.

But wait. I see you’ve got 18 cans of beer back there. You have to pay for those. That’ll be three dollars and fifty cents.

Welcome back to the United States—smugglers.


29 Comments on “The Road North”

  1. Yep, you are the suspicious looking one..shabby beard, frayed hat, needing a hair cut..uhmm smuggler for sure..:)

  2. Wish you’d comment sometimes on the spots you stay with your Airstream along the road to/from the US. Could help some future RV travelers to Mexico. Thanks and have a safe & fun time in the US. A little surprised you’re back so soon!

    1. Back so soon?! Pat and the truck get 6 months stay, that is up Aug 10. Lowe can stay forever, he is Mexican. Ouest and I traveled back to MN a few times for ortho appointments. And we never checked Crabby in. We are lucky the US of A let us pass through…And as far as where we stay, we just follow everybody else and google it. 🙂

      1. Ah yes, temporarily forgot about the six month tourist visa restriction, but didn’t realize it had been even that long. Time flies when you’re in Mexico!

    1. No plans to head north from Austin (where we currently are). East, east, east. After a quick trip (by airplane) to MN for a family visit.

  3. Love your International Harvester. My dad was in the International Harvester business in Ballinger, Texas in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. He would kill for a Carryall like that. I really enjoy your posts on your travels. Living the dream.

    1. We’ve met a few International Harvester salesmen the last year. They love seeing ours on the road. And yes, living the dream without a/c in Texas in August. 😉

  4. The black barrels on top of the houses make a fascinating picture. Do you know what they are used for? My guess would be water, but it’s just a guess.

        1. No, not solar water heaters. They are making them in beige now as well. They might warm the water a little. The water in some parts of Mexico only runs a few days a week. Usually there is a large cistern storage and an electric pump to fill the roof top water storage tanks when there is no city water. We do have solar water heaters, but they are a series of tubes on an angle to catch the suns rays.

  5. Ai!! YiYiYi!!
    Pat is the Gringo Bandido,
    Give him some tacos and he’ll be your friend,
    The Gringo Bandido you should not offend…


    It is cooler on the ocean. I am lounging around on Schooner Bill of Rights today; my last summer training class of Naval Sea Cadets graduated yesterday.

    We did four week long training courses of alternating sea voyages to Catalina Island and boatbuilding classes in Chula Vista.

    I may have a 6 week gig working for food as a schooner crewman in the Sea of Cortez doing oceanographic research. Also, I have been invited to crew aboard Schooner Atyla out of Bilbao, Spain.

    I am greatly enjoying being retired; it is hard to believe it will have been 4 good years on 31 AUG 2017.

    If you want to borrow my cruising routes guide again, let me know…



    1. Yes, it sounds like retirement is going okay, Rodger. Happy to hear it. No need to borrow your guide again, we’ve got our own copy now…hmmm.

  6. Ah, CBP, my favorite. I deal with them at the airport on a weekly basis. Same crap every time. I am the Captain of the friggin airplane and they still treat me like a criminal at times. Can’t believe he charged you the $3.50 for the beer. They usually don’t want to deal with the hassle of the $2 in duty they would get from me for the 3-4 bottles of wine I bring home sometimes. Glad you got through with little hassle!

  7. Brett Anderson,

    Things we’d like to see:

    CBP officers ataour airports assigned to the new “Federal Anti-Terrorism Airport Security Service” (FATASS) hustling around the airports with the acronym FATASS emblazoned proudly upon their jackets.


    “But that’s in animal make believe land.”

    In the meantime, my new passport awaits being stamped…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *