Home / Journal / Northbound and around

 

North to Durango! We leave Mazatlán bright and early, heading towards the twisty, curvy Espinazo del Diablo (which was the old highway between the two cities before the new one was built).

Taking in the scenery

Ditto

Winding our way around tight corners (trying not to let our eyes linger too long on the steep drop-offs), we eventually reach the intersection we seek. Taking a detour to the new cuota highway, we want to ride over the Baluarte Bridge (the highest bridge in North America, suspended 1,320 feet above the Baluarte River). We find our bridge (straddling the borders of Sinaloa and Durango states) and stop in the middle of its extended span to get off the bikes and take it all in.

Stopped in the middle of the bridge

What lovely suspension cables

“Is there any traffic coming?”

After our sightseeing escapade (generally you’re not supposed to stop in the middle of a road lane, but traffic was nonexistent), we continued on to Durango along the cuota highway. Just before getting to town, we were treated to a beautiful little canyon/valley ride.

The road snakes around, crossing a river before climbing the other side

Ehren watching Gary make his way up the road

It’s a wild Shrek!

Once we got into Durango, Ehren went to work tearing apart Gary’s KLR which had decided to spring a coolant leak en route. Turns out it was a failing mechanical seal for the water pump. Ehren RTV’d it back into place and we all hoped for the best in the morning, letting the seal dry overnight.

I didn’t get any photos of the KLR being worked on.. but you can get an idea from this photo, one of the many shots I have of my bike in varying stages of undress.

The hotel we stayed at that night happened to be next to an American-style shopping mall (circa the mid-90s). Two floors packed with people and no vacancies! There was even a little choo-choo train that drove kids around while their parents shopped. The three of us wandered around for a while before grabbing a bite to eat in the food court (a taquito place) and treating ourselves to some ice cream. A family stopped us on the way back to our hotel to ask if they could get a photo of Ehren.

In the morning we ran over to the Walmart to grab some coolant for Gary so he could fill his bike and have some left over in the case of more leaks. We also picked up a new USB charge cable for our phone as the ones we had only worked sporadically (luckily, the new one worked perfectly).

Then it was time to hit the road. Zacatecas was our next destination, and when we arrived it seemed just like any other town in Mexico. But after riding through the outlying areas and making our way to our hotel in the historic center, our expectations were exceeded by incalculable amounts.

Bikes in their hotel garage home for the night

The detailed facade of the Zacatecas Cathedral

Street strollin’

Taking a break

Ehren getting arty with the camera

I see this and hear a beautiful song

Ehren and the Angel of Independence

Mini-parade! First came the dancers…

…then it was this group hauling a shrine…

…and finished off with some drum and trumpet

Wow! Super glad we didn’t research the crap outta this place (or research at all, for that matter). What a lovely surprise awaited us there. From the intricately-carved façade of the Zacatecas cathedral to the well-kept colonial buildings, cobblestone streets and general European feel to the city, our eyes just couldn’t get enough! We walked Zacatecas for hours, day and night (elegant lighting highlights the buildings and streets once the sun goes down), stopping long enough to fit in a meal at a restaurant just north of our hotel.

I loved their plates!

The door to the bathroom

Dining room decor

In the morning, we walked down the street and grabbed a simple breakfast at a nearby café. Ehren wasn’t feeling well, so he opted out of breakfast (his favorite even—chilaquiles!). Knowing the ride ahead was going to be miserable for him, Gary gave him some special powder from Thailand that is supposed to help with gut trouble. Ehren was dubious, stirring it up with some water, but was willing to try it; we also walked down to a pharmacy to pick up some other anti-diarrhea medication after attempts to purchase Cipro proved fruitless. Not that Ehren’s malady was bad enough to warrant the Cipro, but we would have been without it had his condition worsened.

Foiled by the pharmacy man!

Alright, time to hit the road. It was one of our longer riding days, unfortunately for Ehren, logging in just over 200 miles. We got into our hotel in Guadalajara just after the sun set, after battling beastly traffic in the city center. Ehren made a beeline for the bathroom when we entered the room, where he would alternate between lying on the bed and sitting on the toilet for the next 36 hours.

At a quick roadside stop about an hour out from Guadalajara. Ehren has just been given something he described as “salty Alka-Selzter” by the shop owner after we explained he wasn’t feeling well. It did make him feel better, holding him over until we could get to our hotel.

Needless to say, we never left our hotel during our two-night stay in Guadalajara. I did, however, get a bunch of work done on our computer—updating the website, sorting and filing photos, and finishing projects for a client. Gary ran into town to get his KLR worked on at a Kawasaki dealer (it never did leak again after Durango) and to walk the streets for some local flavor (he is a people-person extraordinaire!).

The morning we left we met up with Oscar, a local Guadalajaran who found our Facebook page after his friend showed him (knowing he is a big fan of motorcycle travel) a photo he took of our bikes in Mariposa, California, while we were stopped at the Sugar Pine Café for some delicious biscuits and gravy. He reached out to us via message and asked if we could meet up if we ever made it to Guadalajara. We suggested breakfast, so we rode to his place in the northern part of the city and he treated us to a great breakfast at a local hole-in-the-wall. We chatted a bit more, gave him our thanks and said farewell as we hit the road north.

It was nice to have met you, Oscar… thank you for breakfast!

Gary had split off from us that day as he wanted to head south to check out Lake Chapala before heading to Guanajuato that afternoon, where we both planned to meet up again at the same hotel. We wanted to explore Tepatitlan de Morelos, a town where a few of our friends (and my former coworkers) grew up. Taking the tollway to get there, we stopped off and rode to the center of Tepatitlan. We got a couple of Cokes from a little tienda on the main square and, observing from a park bench, soaked up the goings-on of town. Preparations for Dia de Muertos were underway as stages were being constructed and statues of costumed skeletons were being put into place.

Posing with Tepatitlán

The cathedral in the main square… and some familiar bikes!

After an hour or so, we made our way out of town and continued north. Skirting the edge of Leon, we were noticing an abundance of motorcyclists zipping around. We later found out from Gary that there was a big bike festival going on that week in Leon. As we were paying our last toll on our way into Guanajuato, another biker snuck past the tollgate when they raised it to let Ehren through. Furious, the toll lady demanded of me, “Are they with you!?” I said no, but it took the other toll attendant to reassure her that the toll-dodger wasn’t with us (obvious to everyone except the toll clerk, I guess).

When we arrived at our lodgings for the night, we discovered we had only got in about 15-20 minutes after Gary, who was just finishing unpacking his bike when we showed up. After we got settled, we took an Uber into town to see what Guanajuato was all about. Turns out it was the last week of Cervantino, which someone had explained to us as the Mexican Burning Man. A celebration of art and music; where costumed revelers outnumber the normally-clad onlookers.

Predator looking for his next victim

The Batman and Death, deep in conversation

Ehren in costume as a member of the policía, complete with decked out Spyder

Square trees! Where have we landed!?

After gawking at things for a while, we started feeling a bit peckish and ducked into an interesting-looking place billed as a fusion restaurant. There was a special running just for Cervantino: buy a pizza, get a free pitcher of beer. We ordered a Hawaiian pizza and a pitcher of Modelo (Ehren got a Coke). Gary and I split the pitcher and the three of us devoured the pizza and the bruschetta platter we got as an appetizer. After dinner, Gary pulled his senior card and got us some cheap Cipro at the pharmacy next door. Med kit complete!

More on that Uber ride: apparently half the roadways in Guanajuato are underground tunnels, leftover remnants of old silver mining activity in the area. Our driver took us through a labyrinthine network of tunnels before plopping us into the action downtown. On our initial route through town upon arrival (and again on our subsequent taxi ride back to our hotel), we didn’t encounter any tunnels. Nor did we encounter any on our way out of town the next day. It was almost as if the tunnels acted as a portal to some fantasy land that we couldn’t return to once we left. There was a bit of a ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ vibe going on, except it was more like ‘The Uber, the Squatch and the Mysterious Tunnel’.

How do we get back!?

 
 

8 Comments

  1. Very good update, thanks. Pictures help a lot.

     
  2. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. Very interesting for me and wish I could have had a trip like that when I was younger.

     
  3. Grandma Dolly says:

    Brittany and Ehren, what awesome memories you are making. The towns you’re exploring, the people you are meeting, and all of that beautiful scenery you are experiencing are absolutely fantastic. I can hardly wait until the next “chapter”. I love the storytelling, Brittany! The photos are taking us right there with you. Ehren, I hope you are feeling better. You both take care of yourselves and stay safe.

     
  4. This time, a bit envious of the labyrinth of tunnels, but much more envious of that suspension bridge visit! Should I go back?

     
  5. Thanks so much for the updates. Very well done It is a beautiful country. Be safe and have fun!! Bob Solheim (back in cold Bemidhi!)

     
  6. You guys are so cool!

     
  7. Hi, where are you guys now?

     
  8. Just reading this some some pictures on Adv Ridder . I’m jealous you guys look like you are enjoying it . If you ever make an east coast us run I’ll give you a Pine Barrens tour . It would be nice to see more Elefants

     

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