August 27th, 2013 - Mexico to Vegas
After blasting through Central America it felt great to be back in Mexico. Rich with history and culture, filled with warm, inviting people and undeniably having THE BEST food, Mexico is a fantastic country to travel. It had been roughly a year and a half since we were last in Mexico and like most places the cost of living had gone up. The most noticeable increase for us was the cost of gasoline which had gone up a significant 16 cents per liter (60 cents per gallon). To add to the increase in overall costs Erin and I were now traveling through the tourist hot spots along the east coast of Mexico during high season as opposed to our previous travels through the unknown along the west coast. Although the warm spirit of Mexico remained the same throughout the country the east coast was a completely different experience from our previous memories of Mexico. On the west coast we managed to find hotels anywhere from $12 and up but now on the east coast even the most questionable of run down hotels went for at least $20! Despite the higher costs Erin and I loved our time in Mexico and our frequent visits to the supermarket’s for all our favourite Mexican foods and fresh produce. Even amongst the crowds of tourists and expensive accommodations we always seem to locate a cheap little piece of paradise for ourselves.
After enjoying the beautiful Caribbean waters we headed northwest towards the Gulf of Mexico purposely avoiding the head ache called Cancun. One thing that was becoming increasingly more difficult was avoiding highway tolls. The roads in Mexico for the most part are in great condition but unfortunately that comes with a price. The free highways are often poorly marked so after one wrong turn we found ourselves on a tolled highway with no turn around or escape. After about 150 km’s (90miles) we came to the toll booth… it cost us $20! I asked the lady if that covered us for the rest of this section of highway and she said no, there was another toll booth that would cost us $10. That’s insane! A 300km (180miles) distance costs a car or two motorcycles $30… We were finally able to exit the highway before the next toll booth and found our way to the free highway. From then on we made an even bigger effort to avoid the tolls but every day we were forced to pay some stupid toll for a bridge or something. The smallest toll was 20 cents per bike… Why bother stopping us?
After many long days of riding we took a few days off in the city of Veracruz which is where our last video update came from. It was a ridiculously hot time of year to be in Mexico and combined with a 100% humidity level it was almost unbearable to be out of our air conditioned room. Trapped in our cold comfortable room we were able to call my dad in Texas. After talking with my dad and finding out he was returning to work sooner than we expected we decided we should head north quickly so we would have time to spend with all my family in Amarillo, Texas. We continued along the Gulf of Mexico to Matamoros, a city on the Mexico border with the Texas town of Brownsville. Over the years we have received numerous warnings concerning the dangers of the USA-Mexico border and in certain areas those warnings shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, Matamoros appeared quiet, safe and modern with a large police and military presence. We stayed the night in Matamoros and crossed into the United States the next morning with ease.
Back in the United States of America and what’s the first we do? Wal-Mart of course. Ever since crossing back into the US our luggage seems to be getting bigger and bigger as we pile more and more stuff on the back of the bikes. Seeing as how we will only be camping throughout the states and we will be stopping at home before going overseas we figure we can drop off any extra gear at home. So this means that we get a collapsible cooler and camping chair’s to “live it up” a little on our way back to Canada. I haven’t had a camping chair in the last 100,000 km’s of our travels so why start now? Well… because it only cost $4.97. Thanks Wal-Mart.
While in Amarillo my dad and I planned on re-roofing his house. Now roofing is one thing but roofing in the Texas summer heat, that’s something else. I don’t think either myself or my dad realised how the heat would affect our ability to work. We would start most mornings around 7am and if we were lucky we could work till 11am before the heat literally started melting our shoes on the roof. The rest of the day was spent hiding in the air conditioning until it cooled down enough to go back up on the roof in the evening, unfortunately we rarely got back up on the roof. Too many important things got in the way, like drinking beer. One of our favourite things to do together with my dad is go bowling and I must say we played very well. Dad even started one game off with 3 strikes in a row! Unfortunately inflation hadn’t only hit Mexico… our $1 Monday night bowling special was now a $1.50 Monday night bowling special. Damn you inflation!
With the roof taking much longer than expected my dad called a halt on construction so we could spend our last few days together doing something we enjoyed rather than working. I felt bad leaving him with an unfinished roof but really appreciated his effort to spend some quality time together. With us heading west for Las Vegas my dad and sister decided to join us for a weekend of camping in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was an awesome weekend and the state campground above Santa Fe was a refreshing break from the Texas heat.
On our own once again Erin and I continued west towards Las Vegas simply enjoying being back in the United States. It’s amazing how much ground you can cover with the American Interstate highway system, not necessarily being the most scenic route but you sure can move. It wasn’t long before we pulled into Las Vegas, Nevada and I must say it’s much smaller than I had pictured. Las Vegas has been an icon in movies and television for a long time and they make it look so big but as we rode in on our motorcycles the Vegas skyline is actually pretty small. This was our first time in Las Vegas and we had a blast! We stayed 3 nights at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino and despite the somewhat poor reviews we had read, we thought the hotel was great. Our room was massive and had a huge comfortable king size bed, a fridge and a super toilet that scared me every time I flushed it. (It was like an airplane toilet) After walking the strip and visiting other casinos we actually preferred our casino because it wasn’t super crowed like the rest of them. We played the slots everyday and in the end we walked away with $40 profit… not much but it’s better than losing money. People say Las Vegas is expensive but it’s all in how you live. Erin and I did what we wanted and ate what we wanted and in the end for all our food, alcohol and hotel we only spent $70 a day. Just so people know there are a couple of Wal-Mart’s in Las Vegas and yes they have cheap food and BEER! Oh and if you’re in Las Vegas check out the Pinball Hall of Fame it’s cool.
From here we are heading up the mid-west of the United States on our way back to Canada. We look forward to meeting up with our good friend Karl in the state of Montana and riding back into Canada together. This will be Karl’s 4th time joining us on our travels, let’s hope he keeps it up when we go overseas.