South by West- camping from Alaska to Nicaragua

Travel time: January 2003 - January 2008  |  by Jerry Bazant

7- Road of 1000 curves


Camping in National Park; Garbage and outhouses; Dead battery; Army check point; Mud holes and Detours; Lost campground; Tour guide; Copper Canyon;     
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We managed to travel the "Road of Thousand Curves" without incident to the Basaseachi Falls National Park.  Well, we almost made it to the park that evening but not knowing where the campground was we stopped at a Pemex station. The manager let us park there overnight and refused any money.
       
This Mexican National Park was certainly different than any National Park in Canada. We followed "Cascada de Basaseachi Parque Nacional" signs to a parking lot. Nearby were few houses with food stalls, a couple of cabins for rent and souvenir shops but no park office to pay for camping. I asked for directions to the campground. "It is just over there"  and I looked with horror in the direction he was pointing: rocks, boulders and deep ruts the truck had to drive over. 

...Camping in Basaseachi Park with Brokenose and his friend...

...Camping in Basaseachi Park with Brokenose and his friend...

There were no facilities except of a few outhouses. These varied from simple clapped up wooden structure to modern fiberglass coupé. They were really shithouses because people at some point started to shit on and around them. The weather took its toll and the outhouses were in various state of deterioration.

...Deluxe outhouse but who wants to go inside?...

...Deluxe outhouse but who wants to go inside?...

The campground had many garbage bins with signs "No tira basura -don't throw garbage". But bins were empty and pop bottles, candy wraps, toilet paper littered the ground. Maybe the campground was so dirty because it was out of season and nobody was collecting garbage. We were camping alone.

...Tippy outhouse- use at your own risk...

...Tippy outhouse- use at your own risk...

...The best outhouse- clean, airy and the door will close...

...The best outhouse- clean, airy and the door will close...

The Basasaechi Waterfall is almost 300 m high, the second highest and the most beautiful in Mexico. A hiking trail went from the campground to the top of the waterfall and another rough trail continued to the bottom of the waterfall. Half way down was La Ventana -the Window with the first view of the waterfall. In the winter there was just a little water going down so I took few pictures and went back. However, the next day it started to rain and it rained whole day and night.I went back to see the waterfall and the gentle spray had become a roaring cascade. 

...Basaseachi Waterfall in the winter. Just trickle of water...

...Basaseachi Waterfall in the winter. Just trickle of water...

Few dogs came to our camp to investigate and one decided to adopt us.  He slept by our truck and we named him Brokenose because of a big hump on his nose. On the rainy day Sue was using the laptop when the converter started to beep. Low battery? But we have a solar panel charging the battery! Both batteries were dead, truck would not start. I went to the parking lot to look for a boost but there were no cars. I spoke to the guy at the food stall. "No problema", he brought out a car battery and carried it to the truck. Dammit, his battery was dead too. "No problema, my amigo has a car" he said. Half an hour later he came back with a Bronco and gave us a jump start. I gave him 200 pesos.

...but a thundering cascade after two days of rain...

...but a thundering cascade after two days of rain...

From the Basaseachi we drove to Creel, the starting point for the Copper Canyon. On the road was an Army checkpoint, ten soldiers carrying rifles. They were clean, boots polished, businesslike but friendly. They spoke only Spanish.  One asked to open the camper and climbed inside. "Do you have drogas?" he asked. "Si, Tequila and Aspirin" I joked, not realizing that drogas means narcotics. I asked how far it was to Creel. About three hours. "That means five hours for me" I said "because Mexican drivers are loco [crazy]". " Si, si -yes", they laughed.

...the end of the Road of 1000 Curves...

...the end of the Road of 1000 Curves...

We continued on the "Road of Thousand Curves" winding through mountain ranges, pine forests and sandstone cliffs Suddenly, after cresting a hill there was a vast valley maybe 20 miles wide, with huge grain farms and apple orchards. And the road run STRAIGHT!!! Not one curve, for maybe 30km!!!

Next town was San Juanito, a lumber town that could be in Northern BC, full of pick up trucks . But the four lane concrete  road leading into town abruptly ended and we were driving on gravel road full of excavations, trenches and mud holes.

Not just mud holes but MUD HOLES!! 4"-10" deep, everywhere, no way to go around them. Even the Mexican pick ups slowed to a crawl. Following a detour sign we made U turn and we were driving on another mud holed street,in the opposite direction . Than another detour and another. It took maybe 1/2 hour to crawl 4 km through the town. It looked like somebody decided two years ago to tear up the road to install sewers and never finished the work [ And this is what happened, town run out of money, we found out later ].

...Creel town if pick up trucks, tourists and Indians...

...Creel town if pick up trucks, tourists and Indians...

 
Creel was another lumber town famous as a destination for tourist taking the train to the Copper Canyon. We arrived in the evening and saw a KOA sign pointing down the street. A half an hour later we were still driving up and down streets, looking in vain for the campground. Where was it? It was still there. The campground had changed hands recently, the new owner took down the KOA sign but didn't put up his new sign. There was only one other camper beside us. Big RV rigs wouldn't make it through mud holes of San Juanito. Creel was cold last night , minus 5C.....   

...Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico- the train through Copper Canyon...

...Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico- the train through Copper Canyon...

We hired a "tour guide" to take us to El Divisadero for a view of the Copper canyon. It was absolutely breathtaking. The Grand Canyon could easily fit inside.  El Divisadero is also a train stop where the tourists pile out of the train for quick look and to buy souvenirs. The Tarahumara Indian women weave baskets and sell all sorts of hand woven shawls and blankets. Their work is very impressive. Some live in caves down in the canyon. 

...Balancing Rock: take a picture at your own peril...

...Balancing Rock: take a picture at your own peril...

We met our tour guide Gilberto at the campground where he was the night security guard. During the day he was the chief of local police and a tour guide. At least that's what he told us. He was 'sympatico', helpful and very knowledgeable of local area. He promised to take us to the Baranca de Cobre, the famous Copper Canyon.... 

...Tarahumara Indians have lived in cave dwellings for thousand year. Basic and comfortable...

...Tarahumara Indians have lived in cave dwellings for thousand year. Basic and comfortable...

© Jerry Bazant, 2009
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The trip
 
Description:
This journey in our pick up truck camper took us West from Ontario to British Columbia and Alaska, then South to Nicaragua. Later we trailered a sailboat and cruised the coast of BC, Alaska and Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
Details:
Start of journey: January 2003
Duration: 5 years
End of journey: January 2008
Travelled countries: United States
Mexico
Guatemala
Belize
The Author
 
Jerry Bazant is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 12 years.
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