Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 20

Although a long drive by any standard, the rest of the drive to Morelia was uneventful. We entered the excellent freeway system just north of Toluca and it took us all the way to Morelia. This is also the main freeway that runs from Mexico City to Guadalajara and it is very well constructed and maintained.

Some of the sections of the freeway were long downhill grades. Not especially steep but really stretched out. Something that I found interesting and scary at the same time were the emergency stop lanes. Not pull overs but stop lanes. They were always located on the far right, or the mountain side of the road. There were signs everywhere telling motorists to yield to honking horns and to get out of the way of anybody trying to get over to this lane. These lanes are red and are designed to stop a vehicle if ones brakes give out. At the bottom of the downhill grade, the lane stops being pavement and turns to deep, loose sand, then tar, then sand again. This then leads steeply back uphill as soon as possible. Hopefully any vehicle that had to use this lane was able to stop before reaching the end of it. If not, they would just keep going and, like a ski ramp, go shooting off into whatever valley and destiny awaited them. It was incredulous how many deep tire tracks there were in the sand. Most be a lot of trucks that loose their brakes. I was really glad we did not encounter any.

Before we made the short southern drop down to Morelia, we started to see this huge lake off to our right. I kept expecting it to disappear but it just went on and on and on. We could look down and see long fishing boats, similar to pongos but with smaller sides and a large flat area in the front. We could see fishermen laying prone on these flat areas and pushing/pulling themselves along with the aid of a long stick. Sometimes there would be a line running between a bunch of poles placed in the water. If so, they would grab this line and pull themselves along. I have since learned that this lake is very shallow, as lakes go. This lake is so large that it even has its' own set of currents. They looked like large roads crisscrossing the lake.

Here's a picture from GoogleEarth of Lago Cuitzeo, or Lake Cuitzeo.

There is a yellow line in the middle of the lake that drops south. This is the road we took down to Morelia. When I later researched this lake on Wikipedia, I discovered that it is Mexico's second largest fresh water lake. Any guesses as to which lake is #1?

Whenever we had to cross a speed bump, it was the typical vendor situation. People use the opportunity given to them to make a quick sale as cars slow down to cross over them. Today's speciality was straw baskets and jicama. Every region has their own speciality. We also started seeing more and more men sporting cowboy hats and boots. I was really looking forward to getting into Mexico's cowboy country, and it looked like we were starting to enter it here.

(Mexico's largest fresh water lake is Lake Chapala)


John W said...

I first saw those truck escape ramps in the downgrades leading from California's Sierra Nevada toward Sacramento. Once I saw a truck that had been stopped by one. The rig sat there, buried in gravel halfway to the hubs. Those escape ramps would be complete if they included spare pants for the drivers...

wayne said...

LOL John! I thought they should also have a little booth dispensing oxygen masks too!

Brenda said...

Are you not updating this site anymore or have you just been too busy? I miss reading it.