The day the world shrank part 2June 06, 2020
As the whole world has been watching and reacting to Covid 19 pandemic with international borders shutting down and governments calling their citizens home immediately, it was clear that the last couple of months of inconveniences turned into a much bigger problem all over the world. Cities, towns and villages were closed to outsiders with roadblocks and military presence. Supplies and fuel were getting harder to find, and the friendly people around us started to be scared and a little angry at us for being the carrier of the disease. We knew it was time to get home. So after saying goodbye to the lovely family who sheltered us on their campground and willingly let us stay as long as we needed to. We paid them an extra couple of months of camping fees to thank them for their outstanding hospitality.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain”
Locked down acess to Towns and cities
We are following A fuel truck convoy
Early morning repairs at a truck stop
Day 1 April 24, 2020 Valladolid to Veracruz
On April 24, 2020, we left Valladolid, Mexico, after stocking up with some groceries and diesel. The city just issued curfews and very limited grocery shopping. We left as the city was sealed off by military blocks, and masks were mandatory. As soon as we reached the highway, the roads were empty other than military vehicles, Police and semi-trucks. Many small and large towns have been ordered to seal off by now, including Mérida and Campeche. Other than fuel, you are not to stop. It was a beautiful drive along the Caribbean Sea. Not a soul on the road. As we headed to the state of Tabasco, there was a heavy increase of military and police visible and it was apparent that there was absolutely no stopping at any time. After a long drive just outside of Veracruz, we stopped at a Pemex fuel station for the night. We got turned away by two other fuel stations before we found this one. We had a peaceful night sharing the parking lot with many truckers, also banned from cities and towns.
Day 2 April 25 Veracruz to Tihuatlan
We got up at 6 am the following morning and had an early start. The highway was full of truck convoys, especially fuel trucks, up to 20 vehicles long, followed by the military. We also saw many accidents and lots of people with guns. The road continuously got worse with potholes and washed-out roads. It was white-knuckle driving and lots of cursing. The LuvShk also started to show problems with a hot transmission, and the overdrive was not working. We did finally make it to Tihuatan at 8:30 pm at a massive gas station and truck stop. But it felt safe. At midnight a gigantic thunderstorm hit for about 2 hours, and we finally got some rain which cooled down the sticky hot air. None of us slept much that night.
April 26 day 3 Tihuatlan to Victoria
At six o’clock in the morning, Cliff did some repairs. There was a hot breakfast available at the truck stop, which we enjoyed with many truckers stranded. By nine o’clock, we were ready to go. The main highway went through the city of Tihuatlan. The military blocked the entrance, and we and all trucks ahead and behind us got turned away and had to backtrack through more rough country roads. So much about our plan to stay on toll roads through a Cartel run part of Mexico. All towns and cities were sealed off and not accessible. We started to convoy with trucks through the backcountry. Even though there was great danger of ambush and robbery but it worked well. As this was slow going, we were planning to cross the border the following day as we were still 300km away from Brownsville, and just in case we would get turned away at the USA border, we would have some daylight to regroup.
A long road trough Texas
“Road trips require a couple of things: a well balanced diet of caffeine, salt and sugar, and an excellent set of tunes – oh, and directions.”
April 27 day4 Victoria MX- Brownsville TX
After driving 300 km on somewhat good roads, we finally made it to the border. We missed the entrance for the trucks and bus border crossing and ended up at the border crossing is for small cars. The LuvShk barely squeezed through the tide corners to the gate as the US border guard smiled at us and shook his head. The whole process took 45 minutes. The US border guard did not know our BC plate code but was super friendly in solving the code issue. He said, “you know I have to inspect you.” Our answer was “no problem! “We waited with the dogs outside a designated area while the inspection took place. After 5 minutes, they returned with fresh chicken, eggs and vegetables from our fridge and wished us well. Super easy! We then found a DQ for a burger and had to walk through the drive-thru to order our food. Later we learned about the curve side pick up which we had never have heard of. Later we found Love’s truck and travel stop and had an amazing hot shower for US$12. After recharging we took a drive to South Beach. The public beaches on South Beach Padre island were open. We helped pull out a truck stuck in sand dunes. The beaches were only open until 6 pm, and no Camping was allowed as per Covid restrictions. So we slept at a Walmart parking lot with no problem. We finally enjoyed a beer after six weeks of not being able to purchase any!
April 28 day5 Brownsville TX- San Antonio TX
We are driving north to San Antonio, TX, a big US City. It took us most of the day to go around the city on a massive highway system. At the same time, there were tornado warnings issued throughout this area. The skies were dark, stormy, a very scary. We also remembered how expensive everything was after living in Mexico and Central America for the past year. As we are heading north, Texas is relaxing all of the mask and restaurant protocols. Fast-food and full-serve restaurants, opening up for walk-in and take-out orders. And most people do not wear masks; the only restriction in place is the 6 ft distancing. We slept in comfort at a busy truck stop which was hard to find a parking spot.
April 29 day6 San Antonio TX- Childress TX
We were driving on highway 83 straight north, with less and less evidence of Covid 19 in Texas. The weather warnings are still in effect, and we are trying to drive around the storms in front of us. After another long drive, we stopped today at 4 pm. The last six days caught up with us. We spend the night at Childress, TX, at a Walmart parking lot for the night.
Texas State Line
On the way to San Antonio TX
Severe weather warning
Long empty roads
Staying at a Walmart for the night
views of prairies, mountains and home sweet home
“Road trips are the equivalent of human wings. Ask me to go on one, any one. We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history and the stories, feel the ground, and capture the spirit.
Then we’ll turn it into our own story, that will live inside our history to carry with us. Always.
Because stories are more important than things.”
April 30 day7 Childress TX- McCook Nebraska
Today we crossed into the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.Lots of prairies and a lot of wind. We continued on Highway 83. The roads were empty, long and following into the horizon. It has been a challenge to find places to stay overnight; even boondocking has been getting harder. Nothing is available other than Walmart’s and fuel stations, so we finally found a Walmart at McCook tonight.
May 1 day8 McCook Nebraska- Rapid City South Dacota
Today we encountered the first health check in the White clay community and Pine ridge reservation in South Dacota. The community is under lockdown for visitors because of Covid concerns, but they made an exemption for us if we promised to drive through without stopping of any kind.
We continued driving to Rapid City and had a quick photo opp at Mount Rushmore and crazy horse. The National Memorial was open, and surprisingly quite a lot of tourists were taking in the scene. It felt nice for just a couple of hours seeing people enjoying themself. We slept at Cabelas parking lot at Rapid City and had a fantastic doughnut burger for Cliff and a fried egg burger for me. The takeout took over an hour because of the Covid safety issues, but it was so worth it.
May 2 day9 Rapid City South Dacota-Kalispell MT
Today we crossed into Wyoming and Montana and hoping to arrive home tomorrow. Roads are good and empty. After a long nine days of driving, we felt exhausted and pushed for the Canadian Border. Montana had opened many restaurants and campgrounds, but only with proof of a 14-day quarantine first. For us, this meant that we could only overnight on truck stops and Walmart’s. Tonight’s choice of sleep, a Pilot truck stop, and we also had a well-deserved hot shower for US$10.00.
May 3 day 10 Kalispell MT- Cranbrook BC, Canada
Our last leg today through the Canadian Border at RosevilleMT. We downloaded the Arriv Canada app, added our token number to enter Canada. As we arrived at the Border, there was no traffic, and it looked abandoned as land borders are only open for essential travel, which we qualified as we were returning home.
The border guard was kind of glad that he had something to do. After asking us the usual questions, we talked about Central America, our trip and Covid 19. The whole crossing took 5 minutes in total. Once we were in Canada, there was a health check. The nurse took our temperature, and we had to register with BC for 14 days quarantine. On our cellphone, we called family and told them that we are in Canada. This triggered lots of excitement on both sides of the phone. After the short drive, we pulled into Cliff’s parent’s yard, parked and shut off the engine. The family prepared for our quarantine with groceries, power outlets, and many social distance greetings and happy faces. That is it! After 5900km and ten long exhausting, and also amazing days, we are finally home!
So glad you are able to find time and energy to document this journey, Franziska! Such great reporting! ❤️