Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Turning Back!

Morning comes quickly on the days that we're not quite ready for and this morning was no exception.  We'd done all that we could to prepare for pulling out in the early  morning hours the night before so there was nothing left to do but pull in our sliders and get in line with the rest of the "F" Troop.  The irony was that even though we were the "F" Troop with a later scheduled time to head out, we got switched with the "B" Troop and an earlier start.  This could only happen to a group that had more than one "sleepyhead" on board.  

This was going to be a day of interesting challenges as we faced trying to drive as a part of a convoy, using a CB radio for "convoy communications" and crossing an international border.  We had no idea of just how challenging this was going to be.  It might seem easy to play "follow the leader", but it gets complicated real fast in morning traffic with a variety of rigs ranging from Class "A"s down to Class "C's and travel trailers.  DannyLee had a real struggle trying to maintain a fuel-efficient speed with the ups and downs of hilly roads and the capriciousness of our traveling companions.  Our truck's transmission was getting a real workout. 

Adding to the challenge was our inexperience with our new CB radio.  DannyLee was schooled in the "lip-to-mike" technique of his "taxi-driver" days while I struggled with basic "mike shyness".  After a few minutes of watching DannyLee wander all over his lane while trying to fuss with the CB, my shyness dissipated and I took over the radio.  Problems with using the CB's to communicate from rig to rig plagued us throughout the trip and we were happy to turn it off after arriving in Benjamin Hill, Sonora.  

Our group leaders, Jim and Cynthia Ponder were experienced at traveling in Mexico and tried to share various roadside interests as we traveled along.  One idea that they thought we would enjoy was a brief respite from the toll road to travel through the small town of Magdelena.  Our jaunt coincided with the after school rush of parents and children trying to make their way home and quickly became more of an ordeal for us in our larger size and inexperience.  Traffic lights and markings are somewhat hard to see and inconsistent and small towns are rife with the dreaded "topes".  (More about those later)

We were exhausted after our first day of traveling in Mexico.  When we arrived in Benjamin Hill to stop for the night, both of us just crawled into bed and crashed.  The locals had arranged a meal and entertainment for our entourage, but neither of us could muster the strength to face anything more that day.  We figured with all the people that our absence wouldn't be noticed by anyone anyway.  Sleep claimed us and that night I had a very strange dream.  

I dreamed that I woke up in the morning and our rig was sitting all alone in the midst of a vast empty parking lot.  There was a moment of fear and I woke up and hurried to look out of the window.  We don't use any kind of alarm clock and it's never really mattered as many RV'ers wake up early to hit the road and we generally "hear them off".  As I looked out the window, I was startled to see that the first couple of rows of rigs had already hit the road that morning and we were only one row away from leaving ourselves.  I "shouted out" DannyLee and we hopped in our clothes to get ready to go.  Just in time! 

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