Friday, December 2, 2016

Off to Mexico via Colorado & Texas

On the morning I was to leave Bryce at the end of September, I did my usual inspection of the RV to make sure it was road-worthy after being parked for a few months.  Engine fluid levels good? check!  Tire pressure good? check!  No critter nests or chewed wires anywhere? check!  Under-chassis looks normal? uh, not quite!  Why is half of my transmission pan wet with drippy transmission fluid?  YIKES!

As it was Sunday, I decided to postpone my departure until I could contact the 2 Mercedes Sprinter dealers in Utah first thing Monday morning.  After phone calls  to the dealership, and some brainstorming with fellow View owners, it was determined that the leak was likely just from the rubber gasket around the top of the transmission pan and that as long as I was headed to lower elevations (and not stressing the transmission with any mountain climbing), I should be fine to drive it a few hours to get to the dealer.  I decided to head to the one in St. George, UT as they were slightly closer than Salt Lake City (and downhill all the way).

I arrived Monday afternoon without incident and the service tech was quick to inspect my RV while I waited in the posh waiting area (love Mercedes dealerships!).  As expected, the transmission pan gasket was indeed the culprit, and he recommended a full transmission fluid change to be on the safe side as well.  Fine with me!  I had wanted a good transmission inspection anyway.  Sprinter RV transmissions can start failing as early as 60,000 miles, and I'd be getting close to that mileage when returning from Mexico.  I wanted to feel confident that my tranny would make the trip!

But one other thing the service tech discovered-- both front and rear brakes were getting perilously thin and needing replacement soon.  Probably wise to replace them now before driving across the Rockies to my next stop in Colorado!  So, I headed off to a comfy St. George hotel room for the night, while my RV camped out in the Mercedes service bay awaiting it's parts.

By noontime the next day, the Tracker was hitched up again and I was on my way.  The transmission service was well worth it-- the service tech said my tranny was still in great shape and no metal shavings were found in the old fluid.

My drive through Utah, sticking to the boring Interstates, was uneventful.  It sure was comforting to have a fresh set of new brakes as I headed downhill through the San Rafael Swell!

I spent the night boondocking at a quiet "Camp Wally" in Rifle, CO--

The following morning, I began to see lots of gorgeous fall colors, especially through beautiful Glenwood Canyon along I-70--

The colors got even more spectacular as I rolled into the valley near my brother's house in Edwards.  No wonder my brother considers autumn in the Rockies his favorite season!

By late afternoon, I finally arrived to the Boulder County Fairgrounds RV park in Longmont, CO.  I'd stay there the first half of October while visiting friends & family, and shopping to stock up for my upcoming travels to Mexico with fellow View pals Hans & Ursula.

The Winnie got serviced a bit more with a trip to the Boulder Mercedes dealer.  I had asked for just an oil change and new fuel filter, but the service tech discovered a potentially very dangerous leak with my fuel tank (another old gasket needing replacement-- I guess it's now to be expected with a 10-year-old RV).

With that work finished, I drove the Winnie over to her final service appointment of the year-- to get new front and rear shocks and a front wheel alignment at Stan's Alignment in Aurora, CO.  The guys at Stan's did great work and were reasonably priced.

Finally, by mid-October, Winnie was now driving like a dream and ready for her mega roadtrip caravanning with our friends Hans & Ursula.  After 2 RVing trips to Baja, this would be our 3rd trip together (and their 1st visit to the Mexico mainland).

The goal of leaving for Mexico so early was to experience the colorful November Mexican holiday celebrations of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Mexican Revolution Day.

We had a long, fairly uneventful drive down to Texas from Colorado, staying at Wal-Marts a few nights--

And then a few RV parks like this City Park in quant little Ballinger, TX along the banks of Elm Creek--

and Lake Casa Blanca International State Park near the Mexican border in Laredo, TX--

As with previous travels, we used walkie talkies to communicate and tell jokes to each other along the way.  Always helpful when pulling over for pit stops in the middle of nowhere--

Finally, on the weekend of October 22, we drove across the Rio Grande at the Columbia Bridge crossing to head into Mexico.  The border crossing was practically deserted and within about 30 minutes, we had all of our vehicle permits and visas finished and were ready to roll.

The 2-day trip down to San Miguel de Allende was pleasant and mostly easy highway driving.  I'd driven this route before in 2014, and even knew where to stop for the night (the Pemex San Pedro halfway between Saltillo and Matahuela).

At one stop along the way, we happened to see some unusual large birds in the field behind the gas station-- had to get out my long telephoto lens to take some pics of my first Crested Caracara!

We rolled into the lovely RV park at Hotel San Ramón on the northern edge of San Miguel on Sunday afternoon and were now able to park the RVs again for the coming weeks of festivities.  I'd stayed here in 2014, and it was still just as lovely and still quite a bargain! -- only USD $10/night (solo RVer) for full hookups and fast WiFi (thanks to the incredible exchange rate this year for pesos per USD).  It felt like I'd come home again!



  1. My sisters lives in Rifle/Silt, and seeing their Walmart in your post was fun! Glenwood Canyon is amazing, sometimes the always present road work can be a drag.

    1. How fun! Rifle sure is growing. Glenwood is quite an engineering feat isn't it? I know it really screws up traffic whenever it gets shut down!

  2. Lynne isn't that a few extra miles to go to Mexico? :) My transmission looked like that a few months ago, but received the same treatment - new gasket and fluids ... whew! Looking forward to the rest of your Mexican adventure

    1. The El Paso/Ciadad Juarez crossing would have been more direct, but the route is rarely traveled by RVers and has few known overnight options (no RV parks). So we decided to do the route thru Laredo that is much more traveled by RVers.

  3. Love reading your blog. You always take the time to explain things, step by step. Mexico is sure pretty, maybe someday I'll make it down there.


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