Archive for the ‘My Trips’ Category

Driving Through Mexico Can Cost You…AKA “Toll Booths”

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Do your homework. Finding the best roads usually means having to pay tolls…many of them. Just be aware that the booth workers are not always the most honest people and some of them will try to over charge you or short change you so the more you know before you go the better. Charges vary, depending on the route, and how long the stretch of road is to the next major town or turn off. Tolls are best paid with cash, – some booths are starting to accept credit and debit cards, but not all – so make sure you have pesos with you when you travel by car on toll roads to ensure you don’t get caught out. Some will take USD but will be very inconsistent with the exchange rate. Information about toll roads , distance and costs between any two points in the country can be found (in spanish) at Traza Tu Ruta.

Make sure you keep the receipt you get at each toll booth. This is your “insurance certificate”. If you are involved in an accident you will need this receipt or you may be liable to for road repair and maintenance charges.

Routes which have toll roads connecting the destinations, also have a free alternative road. When you’re driving in Mexico, watch the signs and follow the route for the road type you want to use. Here is a list of the key words to look out for:

LIBRE = Free Road. Free roads are less well maintained, single carriageways that will take you longer to travel across. However, to see some of the ‘off the beaten track’ places, you’ll need to avoid Toll Roads, as they often double as “by-passes” (see term below). It’s recommended that you don’t take the free roads after dark.

CUOTA = Toll Road. Follow this sign if you want to take the toll road to the destination you are traveling to. Note that the highway numbers are often the same, so you can be on the right highway number, heading in the right direction, but on a free (slower) road than you’d like to be. For toll roads, follow the signs that read “CUOTA”.

LIBRAMIENTO = Bypass. Sometimes, major free roads that connect big towns and cities will give you an option to take the “Libramiento” route. This is like a toll road (and sometimes it’s part of the toll road) which, for a fee, will enable you to by-pass the smaller town city if you don’t want to go there, saving you time, and perhaps the hassle of getting lost. Libramientos work in the same way as toll roads.

Driving your car into Mexico?

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

If you plan on taking your car into Mexico you will need to get a permit to temporarily import your vehicle into Mexico. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can do it at the border when crossing, you can go to select Mexican consulates, or you can do it online at the Banjercito web site.

Some of the documentation they require (must bring the original and a set of copies):

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • certificate of vehicle ownership (if financed, notorized approval to temporarily export the vehicle to Mexico)
  • auto insurance for the dates you will be in Mexico
  • current vehicle registration
  • photo ID
  • A credit card (IE Visa,MC) or up to $400 USD cash deposit
  • and of course there is a fee $29 to $59 USD (each method has a different price)

After all this is done you will get a permit with a sticker that you attach to your windshield while in Mexico. Before you leave Mexico you are obligated to present your vehicle to the Banjercito office at the border crossing to get your deposit back.

Laughlin Trip Pictures

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

The Drive Went Well

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

We departed right on time for our off roading weekend adventure. There wasn’t much traffic to speak of. We stopped for 1 stretch break and that was about it. We didn’t even stop for gas. That’s where we almost blew it….for about the last 40 miles of the trip we were stressing out about running out of gas. When we were at about a quarter tank of gas I calculated the amount of gas we had left versus the number of miles left based on Todd’s input. I was on a mission, I wanted to make it on a single tank of gas. at first it semed like we had room to spare. I kept asking Todd how many miles to get to Laughlin. He kept saying 20 miles more….20 more…Well we were sweatin hard becaue there were no gas stations anywhere.

We went down a road without anything for miles. It was getting dark, and we were miles from civilization. It wasn’t looking good but we made it…barely. After putting $100 in gas we went straight to the hotel to check in and get a few minutes rest.

Friday March 21st 2008

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Today we drive.

Our scheduled departure time is 2pm. We want to avoid traffic. My truck is all gassed up & ready to go. I also did all my safety checks like checking all my fluids, checking my tires, and I also cleaned out any extra junk that was taking space in my cab. Since Bronson couldn’t make it, I’m just waiting for Frankie to show up so we can put his bike in my truck. Laughlin….here we come.

Planning A Weekend Run To Laughlin

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

We’re going to laughlin! Todd (aka Reddog) is in charge of planning this trip since he is familiar with the area. We’ll see how this goes. 

New Trip In The Planning Stages

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Hello all. I just wanted to let you know that I’m in the planning stages of my next trip. This trip will be to Jalisco Mexico. This will be a road trip so for the next few months I will be detailing all the preperation needed to make this journey. Since this site is all about family travel, I will definately include all the extra steps involved for a family of four. I have two small children ages 3 and 6 and none of us have ever attempted such a long drive. I have talked to someone that has experience driving to the state of Jalisco Mexico and they usually make it in 2 days which includes stopping for the night at about the half way point.

some of the things I will be covering in upcoming installments include route planning, getting passports, vehicle maintenance/preperation, lodging, itenirary, and of course back up plans for anything that can go wrong.

 If you have any suggestions please leave comments. If you have a story you would like to share, please email it to me at and I will post it on the site so we can all learn from your experiences.

Baja 1000 pictures

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I’ve posted the pictures from the Baja1000 trip. There are over 600 pictures for your enjoyment. To view all the photos go to the Baja1000 trip photo gallery.

Below is a small sample of the images.


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Day 2…The conclusion

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

The clearing overlooking the cove was an awsome spot to stop and take a break. We took a bunch of photos of the crew & really cool shots of the landscape. All around us was hills & cliffs, towards the ocean was the cove. It was about 2pm and you could see the dark clouds rolling in. We knew it was going to rain just weren’t sure how long we had.  After about an hour of hanging out at the cove we decided to move on. We were on a mission, we wanted to find the trail we planned on riding. That’s when it started to get more interesting…

I was in the red buggy and we endud up taking the lead up the steep trail. Behind us were the 2 bikes and the black buggy held up the rear. We got to the top and drove about 50 yards until we reached a fork in the road so we decided to wait for the rest of the vehicles. After a  minute, Frankie passed us to take the lead so we decided to wait at the fork so the other 2 vehicles wouldn’t get lost. After a couple of minutes we started to wonder if  something was wrong since we still hadn’t seen the other bike & buggy. I guess by that time Frankie realized something was wrong because he came rolling back at that time as well. Just when he was going to head back and check, the other 2 caught up to us. We could tell something was wrong with Bronson. When he pulled up he stopped his bike and just sat there for a minute. We asked if he was ok and he said he was fine but we knew better. He was struggling trying to get his bike started up again. That’s when team Takahara told us that Bronson almost flew off the cliff and injured his leg in the process. The way they described it was that as he was going up the hill he hit a rock which launched him to the edge of the road. Luckily, he managed to regain control enough to keep him on the road instead of flying off the cliff. Basically he was bounced back and forth like a pinball. During all this manuevering he planted his foot hard which caused him to hurt to his hip. Immediately after hearing the story we offered to ride his bike back so he can sit in the buggy and we could head back home for him to assess the damage and/or recover. He jumped in the buggy but said he was fine to continue the ride so we continued on our mission. The next 15-20 minutes of the ride was down a well graded road so it was rather uneventful until we stopped for a quick break. Where we stopped there happened to be a side trail with a hill climb. The hill looked rather steep so it started off with a challange to the buggy drivers. Most were hesitant but frankie insisted it could be done so team Takahara took the challenge. After a couple minutes of deliberating we decided how it should be executed…balls out with a hard right at the top. Daniel hit the gas and went for it. He wanted to use the downhill momentum to build up enough speed to make it up the hill. There were some bad bumps along the way which affected the run but he still made pretty high up the hill. He came back and immediately gave it another try. This time was worse.  He made it to the lip of the hill but got stuck in loose dirt. When rolled back down the hill he ended up backing into a small bush and got stuck in the bush. The more he tried to drive forward the more of a hole he dug with the spinning tires. We ran over to help but he was snagged on the dried up bush. The buggy has a winch but we had nothing to attach it to so we decided to use the other buggy as an anchor. This didn’t work. The buggy was so stuck that all the winch would do is pull the anchor buggy. If we couldn’t get it out we were going to have to go get one of our trucks to pull it out so we tried brute force. We commenced to rocking the buggy by driving back & forth and we were physically rocking it from side to side. I was surprised but this actually worked so we were back at attacking this hill. By this time Todd finally decided to give it a try. His buggy seems to have a bit more horsepower so we figured he would have a better chance of making it. He tried a couple of times but couldn’t make it either. We had almost given up but then it happened…team Takahara made it. they found the right line. After a bit of encouagement from us (aka name calling), Todd was so determined that he made it up the hill in one shot from a cold start half way up the hill. This hill was conquered! They both went up it a couple more times just to be sure. We spent a few minutes at the top of the hill celebrating when it finally started to sprinkle. None of us wanted to get stuck in a down pour so we decided to head back home. Although we never really found the trail Frankie wanted and Bronson got hurt, we all still had a blast.

Day 2…part 1

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

It’s day 2 in Ensenada. First on the list of to-do’s is to go for a ride but before we could go out we had to eat something. Since we had nothing else, we had some ranchera steak for breakfast.

Frankie had been here before so he wanted to take us on a trail that followed the mountain tops along the coastline and ends at a stretch of beach. We took the road to La Bufadora but somehow missed the turn.

We stopped for a few minutes to give Frankie a chance to scope out the terrain in an effort to find the trail. That’s when we had our movie moment. You know, the scene in the movies when the Americans are approaced by the local children.  While sitting there in the buggy we were approached by a local kid wielding a gun (a plastic bb gun with laser sight). He was playing around telling us to put our hands up and thimgs like that. I was too distracted to pay attention to him so after a few minutes he stepped away but not before he asked for money. He then went to the other buggy and did the same thing. Once he figured out team Takahara didn’t speak any spanish he went to Bronson who had got out of the buggy to do some filming with the camcorder. Bronson chased him away. After a few minutes Frankie & Bronson had a plan so it was time to hit the road. I didn’t see it when it happened but Bronson was shot on the way out. Yup, the punk kid shot him with a BB as we pulled away. I don’t think it caused any damage but he did feel it.

We drove back on the same road we came in on and found a road next to some houses and decided to give it a try.

It was a 15-20 min ride over a hill to a small cove where the fisherman keep their boats. It was a great place to stop and enjoy the view.