Monthly Archives: January 2011

Boot Hill

Oddly enough, I did enjoy Boot Hill. The cemetary had been in disrepair, but has been resurrected by volunteers, who researched the burial records and replaced the missing grave markers. “Unknown” shows up on many of the markers, due to missing archives. There is no admission, but a donation is accepted to maintain the graveyard. Upon arrival, one is reminded that this is a cemetary, and to please show respect for the dead.


I drove along the border from New Mexico into Arizona, then went north through Bisbee and into Tombstone. I guess one just has to stop at Tombstone, although Bisbee was a lot more fun.
For the most part, I wasn’t impressed with Tombstone; it reminded me of Skagway. The main drag has been closed off to traffic and is corrupted by the tour companies. I’m holding out some hope that at least some of the businesses are locally owned, but that’s crazy, naive talk. Like Skagway, the historic buildings still stand, but they are now home to trinket shops, a few restaurants, and Bank of America. Walking down the boardwalk, I looked into a bookstore window and saw the biography of Soapy Smith proudly displayed. I would not be a bit surprised if they had info on Princess Cruise trips to Alaska inside.
I did not venture into the OK Corral, because I did not want to pay the admission. I just wasn’t feeling the capitalism that afternoon.

Pancho Villa State Park & Museum

Columbus, NM

After crossing back into the States, one of my camps was in Columbus, NM at Pancho Villa State Park. It’s a cool, little park in its own right, with a cactus garden and some interesting long-term tenants… but it was the history tied to Pancho Villa that caused me to stop here over other parks.
I received an extremely enthusiastic greeting upon arrival by a passionate museum volunteer. I parked The Rover in the primative area, which happened to be by the very first grease pit used by the U.S. Army, then explored the museum that is at the entrance to the park.
The museum was great, with an even-handed viewpoint of the Columbus Raid, and exhibits were in both English & Spanish. The museum staff was phenominal in their knowledge & attitude.

9 March 1916 Pancho Villa’s troops raided Columbus, New Mexico. The reason’s for the raid, and why Columbus was chosen, are still being debated, but the acquisition of supplies was certainly a goal. The battle lasted for an hour and a half. 75 raiders, 10 American civilians, and 8 U.S. soldiers were killed. Several buildings in Columbus were burned to the ground. It is doubtful that Pancho Villa ever entered the town.
The park museum has exhibits from both the Villa raid, and the Punitive Expedition that General Pershing led into Mexico from Columbus. It features a Curtiss “Jenny” bi-plane, a Dodge staff car from the Pershing era, a Jeffrey Quad armored vehicle (precurser to the tank), and a Dodge convertible that was riddled with bullet holes as its occupants fled Columbus and Villa’s men.
(Would it be a good time to mention that I saw SUV’s in Mexico with similiar inflictions? Of course, those had been torched, as well as shot.)
My favorite vehicle, however, was the FWD truck built by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. out of Wisconsin.

Texas Wildlife


I’m going to disappoint a lot of people with this one.
For the past several days, I have been redesigning the trip. I’ve been thinking that this is going to have to be a prelude to Tierra del Fuego.
The Rover has been running fine, but there are things that I have to do to it so that I can maximize the chances of this being successful, as well as maximizing my enjoyment of the trek.
One issue is my range: the gas tank is just too small for this type of run. The jerry cans are suppose to be there for an emergency, but I’m relying on them as if they were an extension of the tank. Twice, someone has tried to steal the fuel cans from the roof. If I lose them when I really need them, I’ll be in trouble. I knew this was an issue before I set out, but I didn’t see the jerry cans as something someone would try to steal. I only locked the frame because I happened to have an extra padlock that matched the one on the fuel cap.
The second issue that I want to improve is the GPS. I’ve read all these tales from other trekkers who grow to call their navigation system The GPS God or other such high ranking names of affection. Unfortunately, I’m down here with the Boo Radley of GPS mapping. “World Maps” by Garmin is simply horrible. My unit has basically become a high tech speedometer for kilometers. It gives Bad Information, which in my opinion is worse than No Information. Driving the Old Rover solo while trying to look at a paper map is just not the best proposition. For once in my life, I’m actually in favor of adding some technology to it. I didn’t plan this out well, mainly because I’ve never used a GPS in my car, so I didn’t know what to expect. Garmin should be utterly ashamed to be marketing this product, it really is that bad.
I also really want to take some time to do some things to The Rover to make adjustments for the heat. My Rover was brought into Canada originally, so it has always been geared for colder weather. Driving in 90+ degrees for eight hours at a time is just new for both of us. I can see now that I can make some improvements to make us both more comfortable.
In the end though, it does boil down to money, and I think I am going to come up short here. I left Alaska much later than I had planned, mainly due to work on The Rover. The roads are going to dictate speeds less than even I had planned on with a slow Rover. I’m not in the position that I can miss this summer’s construction season. I honestly expected to be in better shape here than I am, due to a couple of unforeseen, non-trip related expenses. It happens, it’s life.
When I did get the late start from Alaska, I thought about delaying the trip until September 2011, but I was impatient and just wanted to be on the road. I’m extremely happy that was the decision I came to, even if it wasn’t based on any type of logic. This has been a great drive in its own right, with close to 9000 miles driven. Without this drive, I wouldn’t have the information I have now to improve the trip. I needed a test run… an extended test run, in my 109.
I want this trip to be successful, for that to happen I have a few more things to do.
So. The decision has been made. I’ll work on The Rover, add some things, convert some things, pack more spare parts, improve my Spanglish, budget for the corrupt officers and try to recruit a co-pilot for a September 2011 take off.
Be patient with us. We’ll get there, wherever “there” happens to be.


“A Prayer for the Traveller” – by Edward Abbey
“May your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poet’s towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes, and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

Muchas Gracias GG

Costa Esmeralda

My home for a few days as I explored The Emerald Coast, Papantla and Tajin. The family here that run Mar Esmeralda were simply wonderful. This is the place to stop along this little run of beach. Even their kids got into the act asking about the different flags on the window, and the little boy was intrigued by the plug hanging out of The Rover’s grill. Try explaining having to plug in your car to an 8 year old kid using broken Spanglish…
Well worth the effort.

El Tajin Pics

El Tajin

I left Costa Esmeralda fairly early to head back north to see El Tajin. I was told that Tajin is the Totonac’s word for Thunder & Lightning, and this place is quite the homage to the Thunder & Rain God.
The picture above is of the “Ball Field” one of 17 courts found here at Tajin. I’ll post the picture in another post of the relief carving depicting the sacrificial act carried out after the game. It shows three players: One is about to plunge a knife into the chest of a second, while the third holds the arms of the victim. It’s still incredibly clear after all of the centuries. At first they thought a losing player was sacrificed, but they now believe that it may have been the winning captain, which would make a much better sacrifice to the gods. Talk about incentive…

I was here for several hours. Admission was free the day I went, which was nice on one hand, but it did make the place packed by 1pm, and I had to escape the crowds by 2 or so.

The museum is well worth the look, and the voladores rite, carried out on a 100 foot tall pole is pretty cool as well. Just beware… they will come around for a donation, the act is not free.