Canada to Mexico in a Vintage Van: Will We Make It?

Welcome to our 2023 Adventure!

Slow Sally & Crew are once again escaping winter in Canada by driving to sunny Mexico in our vintage 1994 Roadtrek Van. For those of you who are new around here, we’re Nat & Marc – 2 Canadians exploring the Americas with Walter, our Adventure Mutt. You can learn all about our eclectic little crew here.

Really? After What Happened Last Year…?

In 2022, our van (Sally) suffered a catastrophic transmission failure in a remote part of southern Baja, Mexico. It took us one full month, lots of cash, and a tremendous amount of effort to get her back on the road. And although she did ultimately get us home safely, the whole saga traumatized us. In the final blog post from last year’s adventure, we left things like this:

After the infamous transmission failure ordeal, will we be back on the road with Sally next winter? Will our Crew trust her to take us to the epic, far-flung destinations we love? Will Mexico let us back into their country even though we never officially stamped out (that’s another story)?

A Travel-Weary Nat

So, will we be back on the road with Sally this winter? As you likely guessed from the title of this post, the answer is… YES! Time has caused the most traumatic moments of the saga to fade and Canada’s terrible start to winter weather (cold… snow… thaw… rain… freeze… repeat – gag) has reminded us of why we pile into the van and head south each year.

Have we regained our trust in Sally? Not entirely. For now, she is on strict probation. We’re still a little nervous after breaking down 3 times last year (yep… the transmission failure was just 1 of 3). It doesn’t help to have learned that our friends and fellow Roadtrekkers Justin and Christina have been plagued by mechanical problems on their recent trip from Montreal to Florida.

Will Mexico let us back into their country, even though we were never officially stamped out? Who knows?! I guess we’ll find out soon… stay tuned.

Sally’s 2022 Transmission Failure

Our 2023 Mission – The Patzcuaro Loop

Patzcuaro, a little town in Central Mexico, will be our southernmost destination this year. If the name Patzcuaro means nothing to you, you’re not alone. It’s not one of Mexico’s more famous destinations and we’ve only just discovered it. But based on intel from friends and a little research, we think we’re going to love it. It has all the things we seek out when we travel: colonial architecture, cute restaurants and cafes, hiking trails, cool high-elevation temperatures, a lake, and a couple of promising-looking campgrounds. Inevitably there will be lots of barking dogs, crowing roosters, and wandering chickens… it wouldn’t be a Mexican town without them. As a bonus, it’s very close to the beautiful colonial city of Morelia and the world-famous Monarch Butterfly Reserve. Our epic loop will also bring us to other destinations we can’t wait to discover and rediscover, including:

  • New Orleans (Louisiana, USA) to admire the French and Creole architecture and savour some Creole cuisine.
  • El Potrero Chico (North East Mexico) to send some (easy 😉) routes in a world-class rock climbing destination.
  • Copper Canyon (North West, Mexico), to explore the “Grand Canyon of Mexico”, its hiking trails, and a spectacular-looking waterfall.
  • Utah (USA), for all things outdoors. It’s the destination we set our hearts on last year but barely scratched the surface due to the time lost fixing Sally’s transmission.
  • Badlands National Park (South Dakota, USA), to ogle some bison!
Planned Route

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you may have noticed that our route through Mazatlan and the Copper Canyon takes us through the area recently plagued by cartel violence. Don’t fret, that portion of our trip is months away and by that time, the violence associated with the recent arrest of a prominent cartel member will likely be over. We’ll be sure to keep informed as the situation evolves and only travel to places deemed safe.

We’re leaving ourselves lots of flexibility to adapt and change routes/destinations so who knows if we’ll stick to this travel plan… if history is any indication, we won’t! But in the meant time, if any of you have destination recommendations that are roughly along this route, let us know in the comments. Just keep in mind that for us, destinations/activities need to be dog friendly.

Follow Our Journey

For those of you interested in following our adventure, we’ll be blogging and posting on social media on a regular basis. We’ll also be tracking our progress on the Polar Steps app, which provides detailed data about our location and route (perfect for any of you map nerds!) – just check out this link.

14 thoughts on “Canada to Mexico in a Vintage Van: Will We Make It?

  1. Yay! I’m looking forward to reading about this year’s adventures and hoping that Sally holds up for you. We are planning a three-week trek to Florida the end of February and beginning of March, the first time we’ve gone there since 2015. I guess we won’t be crossing paths with you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey guys great see that you are back on the road again. We leave Thursday 19 for FunNSun RvResort near San Benito TX. Sadly we had to leave our 89 D road trek buried in the snow and we will fly down. Please stop in and spend a few days with us and have a taste of old trekers live style. Send us a an email a day or two ahead and I will let the gate keeper know that you are coming. There is enough space to park and connect on to ore power. Safe travels

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great to hear that you guys are going to make it to San Benito. We’d love to drop in! We’ll give you a shout when we’re getting close. I imagine it will be the end of the month.


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