____ The cycle touring gang disbanded at Austin; some going onto Florida with Rick while some returned to Manitoba and it’s winter. The SAG wagon retraced its way back across Texas using Interstate 10; refueling at Pilot/Flying J Truck stops in Junction, Fort Stockton and Van Horn before finally entering New Mexico on the western side of El Paso. Just a 180 miles more of Interstate 10 and we were in Arizona. By-passing New Mexico’s sites of interest in a quest to reach Casa Grande before Christmas. Cheryl’s sister and her husband have a winter retreat between Tucson and Phoenix; we had an invitation to visit for the festivities. We parked in their yard, alongside their motorhome and the partying began.
____ Casa Grande was big enough to have a selection of places selling truck tyres and I took the opportunity to get some quotes for a new set of drives. The old ones were starting to “cup” badly to the extent that you could hear it when driving with the windows open. The tread was still legal but I feared that the tyres were well past their use-by date. It turned out that they were 18 years old and the TA at Casa Grande couldn’t give me anything for the old casings. They did, however, give me a good discount on four new Roadmaster 11R22.5 tyres. It was a big hit to take half way through the trip but it was something that I knew would soon have to done and it good to the peace of mind that you are unlikely to get a blow-out. Once again it was nice to go to a place that was enthusiastic about the Mack; I felt they did a lot of effort into doing the best possible job for the lowest possible price.
____ Christmas over, new tyres installed and it was time to say Goodbye to Milo and Gail as we headed south on the next part of our winter adventure; Mexico. Our holiday hosts has been across the border on many occasions, on motor-cycles and in motorhomes, so armed with a wealth of helpful instructions, we pointed the Mack at a hole in Trump’s Wall and wondered what they would make of it. A few guidelines for travelers in vehicles going into Mexico: get vehicle insurance on-line before you go, [ the Mack was $125 for 6 months.] Plan on how far you are going to travel into Mexico, [there is no need for a Temporary Import Permit if you just intend to visit the Baja California peninsula.] Also, fill up with fuel before you cross as it is cheaper in the US and make sure you cross early enough in the day so you can reach your first night’s destination before dark, [night-time driving not recommended in Mexico.]
____ We reached the Arizona town called “Why” in early afternoon, about an hour North of the Lukeville crossing. I felt an affinity with the people of Why having once lived in the Hertfordshire town of Ware; it doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a fuel station called “Why-Not.” We spent the night on some BLM land, just south of the town. Bureau of Land Management has vast tracts of desert under it’s control in the USA and allows free-camping on a lot of it. Maximum stay is 14 days and the usual rules about leaving no trace apply. The Gunsite Wash area near Why was a huge area of scrubland with about half-a-dozen RVs scattered around on a network of criss-crossing dusty tracks. Our nearest neighbours trekked over to investigate the Mack and say “Hi.” They were from Canada and on their way to Mexico.
|Nearly a thousand miles for a Christmas dinner.|
|The Mack parked beside our host's Coachman Motorhome at their place in Casa Grande, Arizona.|
|The badly cupped 18 year-old drive tyres on the Mack.|