Crossing the Border at Douglas/Agua Prieta

  We prefer smaller borders like Douglas/Agua Prieta because the lines are shorter.  This particular border is fairly easy to deal with: lanes are well marked and this time only one car was ahead of us in line. We were stopped by U.S. Customs on the gringo side and enjoyed the usual interrogation from a suspicious customs agent with textbook level attention to grooming and uniform. He peered into our packed ’87 Dodge van with apparent incomprehension. I wasn’t sure […]

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Road Food: Redhouse BBQ

editor’s note: One of the best things about Mexico is the preponderance of quality food. In a country not entirely subsumed by chains, it’s so much easier to find a decent meal right off the highway. As we travel to and through this culinary Valhalla, we will detail our triumphs and pratfalls.  Interstate 5 through central California has got to be one of the most godawful drives on the planet. We thought we’d stop for lunch somewhere, but realized that […]

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The Frank Holton Memorial Road Trip

Preparing to leave home for two months is a logistical nightmare, especially if you happen to be the caretaker of particularly cranky and and idiosyncratic animals, water system, and vehicles. The last season has been fraught with vehicle and cat sitter and financial and travel companion drama that has nettled me into a few black moments. More than once I became entirely convinced that the trip south would not happen at all and that we’d be stuck in Oregon for […]

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From the Stacks: Mexico in Your Own Car, 1935

An old Mexico travel brochure with ttitle "Mexico in your own Car" and picture of church with agave.

When I moved into the house my sainted parents built in the late 70s, I inherited their vast and dusty collection of Mexico books, magazines, maps, and pamphlets. Some of the collection consists of history and anthropology classics (not to mention an entire shelf devoted to various editions of The People’s Guide to Mexico), but lately I’ve ben leafing through the ephemera: deteriorating maps decorated with señoritas in sombreros, hefty Sanborn’s guides riddled with my Dad’s scrawling notes and dribbled […]

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Policia and Driving Laws Update

Mexican cops eating ice cream

The PFP Federal High Patrolmen are pretty straight-laced these days. If you get stopped and ticketed, you can go online and see how much your ticket is going to cost. I keep in mind the highway patrol has “instant on” radar and they know how to use it. Seat belt use is now mandatory on every federal highway in México. Federal Highway patrolmen are frequently stationed just after a cuota toll booth, so buckle up or get nailed. The […]

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Toll Costs for Cuota System!

My dad was a notorious cheapskate, but even Steve lapsed into poetry when he encountered his first cuota, which bypassed one of our least favorite stretches of highway, the spine-chilling Barranca de los Muertos (Canyon of the Dead). For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of driving in Mexico, a cuota is a toll road. They began appearing in the 80s and have spread across Mexico, so that now most major routes have two options: libre […]

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Me, Chuey, and John Bonham

“Don’t forget the thing about the window,” Rich tells me as we say goodbye at the Minneapolis airport. “It’s really hard to get the window back up again if it slides down. Right now there’s cardboard jammed down in there to keep it up.” “Oh yeah, the window…” I say unenthusiastically. Rich just got our van running again after several fallow years in the yard; when I land in Portland and pick the van up, it’ll be my first time […]

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Ruminations on the Beast

A cat behind the steering wheel of a Ford van

Well Chuey is up and running again, thanks to Rich. This is the latest excitement in a saga that has had its disheartening moments. Just before our wedding four years ago, the van’s transmission went out. Rich and his groomsmen were stranded in Portland. Due to financial stress, the van project was put on the back burner and Chuey languished for two years. Eventually we paid up the nose to have the transmission rebuilt  and decided to drive to Seattle […]

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