Day 2 of our “Tioga George Trail” (taking us from the beaches of Mexico’s west coast to the central highlands) began with more hill climbing. The area between Tepic and Guadalajara is where the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains meet the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt that runs east-west across the country (roughly between Guadalajara and Mexico City).
We weren’t far enough into the range to see any big volcanoes, but we did see lush green valleys (a result of the rich, volcanic soil). Just beautiful! I look forward to exploring the southern half of Mexico in future years.
As MsWinnie climbed even higher, we began to see pine trees as we crossed the border into our 5th Mexican state of Jalisco. I would have taken pictures, but the road had one curva peligrosa (dangerous curve) after another and needed my full attention!
The valleys coming down the eastern side of the range were much more arid. Perfect conditions for blue agave to grow, and this was, indeed, their capital region. The town of Tequila was just north of the highway and had I not just done a tequila plant tour, I would have made a stop here. Another place to add to the “Next Time” list!
Perhaps the reason why I didn’t wish to meander on this Monday morning was due to being laser-focused (and honestly, stressed out) to make it through Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, in one piece!
I’ve read a few horror stories about RVers missing turns and ending up in parts of town absolutely impossible to navigate. Even Contessa and Colin once ended up smack dab in the center of downtown Guadalajara with their 40-foot motorhome with car in tow! So, as I got closer and closer to the city, I kept my eyes continuously jumping between the road ahead and my Google Maps navigation screen to be absolutely sure I made the right turn. I kept hearing Contessa’s voice repeating: “Perifico, Perifico, PERIFICO!”.
Well, all I can say is, thank God for Google Maps and my Nexus 7 LTE tablet!!! There were a couple signs that prepared you for the “Perifico Sur” exit, but absolutely no clear sign once you actually reached the exit! If not for the real-time GPS dot on my Google Maps screen showing that I was, indeed, at the exit, I may have continued straight into downtown to become yet another RVer horror story!
MsGoogle did a fine job leading me along the 6-lane Perifico Sur around the city once she “recalculated” to no longer take me downtown (sure wish there were an “RV/Truck” routing option for Google Maps rather than it always assuming you’re always driving a car—trucks and any dual rear-axle vehicles are prohibited in Guadalajara’s Centro).
The Perfico was sure not the scenic route, though! I’ve heard that Guadalajara has some very nice and pretty areas, but I sure did not see them on this day’s drive! There was also an enormous layer of smog over the city that made it difficult to breathe and impossible to look at. “Get me the hell out of here, MsGoogle!!!”
But, there was some humor to be found here too. As I was stopped on a lateral waiting to get onto the last section of highway to exit the city, I had to laugh at the various modes of transportation crossing the intersection….don’t think I would have seen this in Chicago!
Finally, the sign I’d been longing to see for the past hour: “thank you for visiting Guadalajara”!
We traveled northeast from Guadalajara and began climbing onto the vast “Altiplano” that covers much of central Mexico between the two Sierra Madre mountain ranges to the east and west. These arid plains are dominated by livestock ranches, and dotted with a few fields of agave as well.
Within a couple hours, we turned east to cross into our 6th Mexican state of Guanajuato. (The sign says “Pride and Commitment of All--- Welcome!”)
The toll roads nicely skirted us around the state’s largest city of León and it’s big automotive production town of Silao. If anyone wonders where all those good-paying middle-class auto factory jobs in the U.S. went a few decades ago, take a look here. Lots of well-educated, middle-class workers in this part of Mexico employed by the big GM and VW factories. There are also a host of other US multi-national brands vying for their pesos here as well, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Auto Zone, Holiday Inn Express, and Applebee’s.
Finally, one more little 14 kilometer toll road brought to our destination, Guanajuato. Our total tolls for the day’s 250-mile travels racked up to a whopping 1827 pesos (US$140). It sure will be nice to not have to drive another cuota (toll) road for the next couple of weeks!
We pulled into our second “Tioga George stayed here” night camp, Bugamville RV Park, and were greeted by it’s friendly, English-speaking owner, Carlos and his family. Carlos has been renovating the park for the past couple of years (since the park’s previous owner, his father, died) and now has full hookups for each of the 2 dozen sites. The only thing still left to do is get the Internet installed (Carlos promised that it’s coming within the next couple of months). No worries, though, the Telcel internet hotspot-sharing on my Nexus tablet worked just fine for me.
There were only 4 other rigs in the park, so everyone had plenty of space and I enjoyed the wide-open vista of the hills and fields behind my site. I can’t believe I failed to take any pictures of the place (as all the ones I’ve seen on the Internet are of the older, pre-renovated park)! I guess I must have been too busy taking thousands of pictures of the beautiful city of Guanajuato. I’ll share those in my next few posts, but here’s a small taste!