Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened to Me On the Way to the Dentist

Several weeks have passed since I last posted and we have been quite busy during that time. We spent 4 weeks over Christmas/New Years driving back to Florida for the holidays and visiting with family and friends in Alabama and Georgia as well. The holidays went well except for the fact that Joan was diagnosed with bronchitis the weekend after New Years. She felt a little better on the following Monday so we elected to start our return trip to Lake Mead. The medicine she was taking didn't quite make her feel as well as she would have liked and she spent most of the 4 day drive back to Nevada coughing or sleeping from the cough medicine. We normally stop in Yuma to visit with friends, but she just didn't feel up to it as well as not wanting to possibly pass along her cough/cold. Thank goodness I managed to avoid catching anything.

Even though Joan was feeling better as her coughing diminished she really began to notice an uncomfortable, almost painful toothache; especially when that tooth came into contact with any hot or cold food or drink. Really concerned about her toothache, we decided to try and make it into a win-win situation. She needed to make an appointment to have her teeth cleaned anyway, so why not drive down to Yuma, visit our friends we missed on our return trip and make a quick trip into Mexico to have her dental situation checked out.
Barb & Jim
If you are not aware, just a short 20-minute drive from Yuma is a Mexican border town called Los Algodones; which boasts a population of several hundred dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, cosmetic dental surgeons, pharmacies, optometrists and eye glass stores. Joan has read numerous blogs of fellow RV'ers who have frequented Algodones for these medical needs with very positive results including large savings on the costs. Our friends Jim & Barb recently had occasion to visit Algodones where Jim got 2 crowns, a filling and x-rays for $420 as well as 6 months of BP medication for $4.....hard to beat that. 

So Joan began to research dentists and made an appointment. She called on Friday and got a Wednesday morning appt. We worked a short day on Tuesday and drove down to our friends Don & Donna in Yuma that afternoon. Wednesday morning we left a little early and arrived at the US/Mexican border shortly before 8am. Now this is where it gets tricky....the road into Algodones is about 6 miles inside California from Arizona off of I-8. Arizona time was 9am, California time was 8am. We weren't sure what the correct time was in Algodones. There is a large secure parking lot on the US side which costs $6 to park. Then you walk about 100 yards from the parking lot, through a turnstile and you are an international traveler; officially in Mexico. We walked 2 blocks in along 2nd St. to Ave B, turned right, walked 2 blocks to 4th St and we were there. We checked in with the receptionists thinking we were really early, but he informed us that Algodones observes Arizona time so we were actually there about 15 minutes before Joan's appointment. She went in early, got her cleaning and x-rays and then talked with the dentist who informed her that a root canal was needed. An appointment was made with her associate located next door for 11am, which meant we had about 90 minutes to wait. By this time Joan was really starting to get nervous. Even though her experience at the dentist was positive, she was really worried that the root canal could result in her having to have a bridge redone as well. Rather than just sit and wait, I suggested we walk around town and look at the wares for sale. We took the walk, but Joan just couldn't relax. We arrived back at the office and had to wait another 30 minutes before she was called in. After about an hour I could overhear Joan and the dentist talking through the waiting room door. And when she came out she was smiling. The root canal had gone well and it appeared the bridge would not need to be replaced. Happy Place, Happy Place! On our way back to the border crossing and customs we stopped in one of the pharmacies and picked up some items, saving quite a bit of money compared to the costs back in the US. It was now about 2pm and the line through US Customs was about a 45 minute wait. We passed through with no issue and were on our way back to Yuma by 3. 

Henry & Terry

Lots of RV'ers winter in the southwest and we knew several of our friends were in Yuma. We stopped and visited with Henry & Terry whom we met working at Crazy Horse last year. Wednesday night went out to eat and played cards with our hosts. Thursday morning we drove about 20 miles east of Yuma and met up with Mel & Teri and Jean & Larry whom we worked with in Oregon in 2012. 

About noon we headed back to Algodones for a follow up appt to permanently seal the root canal. That trip into town went well also with a similar wait to get back into the US through customs. But there is always a back story to these things. Sometimes funny, sometimes not so much. Sometimes you do stupid things and get very, very lucky. That was me this time. Mexico has very strict laws about weapons and border crossings.....DON'T DO IT! Living the lifestyle we do and with the amount of time we spend out in the middle of nowhere we have personal protection that we carry. All legal, registered and permitted. And I was very careful to make sure none of that crossed the border on Wednesday. But Thursday was a little more harried and I wasn't paying attention like I should. As we walked up to the turnstiles going out of the US I remembered my pocket knife was still in my pocket. I took it and put it into my backpack. I couldn't imagine this being a big deal. Our dental visit over, we picked up a couple items at the pharmacy and made it through US customs no problem. When we got back into the car, Joan asked where her cell phone was and I told her it was in the backpack. When she reached in, she asked if I had put all our gear back into the backpack when we got back to the car. No I had not. "Do you know what you left in the backpack and carried across the border?" she asked as the blood drained from her expression. Oh Crap! Our other piece of personal protection....I had forgot to empty the backpack Thursday morning. Like I said, sometimes you make stupid mistakes and get very lucky. This was my turn for some luck.

Don & Donna

Jerry & Phyllis

The rest of Thursday was a piece of cake...pot luck with Don, Donna, Phyllis & Jerry (all fellow workampers from Oregon) and then cards & Qwirkle later that night. 

Dave & Maxine
Friday morning we left Yuma headed home via Quartzite. We strolled through Quartzite until noon when we met Dave & Maxine for lunch. After catching up with them we made a phone call before leaving. We had received a phone call just before we left work Tuesday about a potential workamping position. We wanted to follow up that call by speaking with some of the workampers that are currently working with the company. The follow up call went great and we're hoping to hear back from the company soon. We are very excited about this opportunity which could lead to a recurring position that would allow us to enjoy our off-roading desire and keep us moving to different locations throughout the western US. 'll let you know more about that when it happens....just don't want to get our cart before the horse if you know what I mean.

Shout out to my little baby sister Vickie...Happy 60th Birthday! Gee, you're almost as old as me!

And to my youngest son Chris.....Happy 32 buddy!

That's it for Now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.


  1. they kinda like tall Harley Dudes in those Mexican prisons buddy, glad you didn't get caught. :-)

  2. Great story, glad it all went well for Joan. Ever seen the show "Locked up Abroad"? Those Mexican prison stories never end well!

  3. Good to know you are safely back at Lake Mead and Joan is feeling better:)

  4. Glad to hear everything went well, with both the dental visits and the border crossing. You two just look like honest, law abiding citizens! Happy to see Henry and Terri's smiling faces! Good luck with your potential job offer!