Panama to Alaska 2008 travel blog

Hotel in a Bull Ring

Repairing the brakes

Mountain roads

Tropic of Cancer

Drink stop


We left our beautiful hotel before 7a.m. for the longest day of driving yet – which included a substantial distance through the mountains on what was known to be a slow road. Some had decided to skip the 6.15 breakfast in order to get off early. However our planning to get well on the way early was soon to be thwarted as the front brakes locked on as we left a motorway toll booth and we moved rapidly to the side of the road with smoke coming from both wheels. To cut a long story short, three hours later, with the help of Paul our mechanic, everything had been bled and the servo (which turned out to be the culprit) had been by-passed. The car goes very well, one just has to push harder on the brake pedal. A new servo has been ordered and will be joining us in Tucson. The one that has died was installed only 9 months ago!

With 250km of mountain driving ahead, losing the brake servo now was not the best moment. However we enjoyed the rest of the drive enormously. Firstly we drove across a high plain with beautiful conifers which might have been spruces. Cattle and horses were grazing and there were some signs of agriculture, although settlements were few and small. Then we passed a John Wayne film set through canyons. Later again we reached the mountains and climbed and then descended repeatedly as we passed from one mountain to another across necks with vertiginous drops on each side. At the end of the day we descended 2000m to the sea round hairpin after hairpin. During all this time, we stopped for a yoghurt drink at a petrol station and a banana milkshake (which came with tacos, salsa and beans) in a small town. We were glad of the three small buns taken from breakfast in case of an emergency and were starving when we reached our hotel right on the Pacific shore, tired but exhilarated.

It was Joyce’s birthday and we just managed to arrive in time to toast her at a party in the bar. The hotel set a table for Stephen and Joyce on their own by the sea- very romantic. We had dinner next to the beach with Charles and Jane Patchett and, when they arrived eventually, with Paul and Nikki Marsh. They had, of course, been held up with us and the 4-wheel drives can’t travel as fast as we can. We had spent some time in Mazatlan finding suitable brake fluid to replenish supplies but they were still some time behind us. We all felt better after something to eat and drink.

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