Merced County Times Newspaper
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The Great Road Race: Mexico To Morton, IL.

John Derby Headshot
Times Publisher John Derby

They said it was a crazy idea, and they were probably correct.

How could anyone drive from Bahia Conception, three quarters the way down the Baja peninsula, and within a couple days, be at the birthday of my sister in Nevada, and then be at the birthplace of my great grandson three days later in Morton, Illinois?

It remind me of the time I hitchhiked across the United States in five days. Crazy.

Still, I was ready to try it, and left at 1 a.m. on March 19 for the border at Mexicali. It meant driving through the night, something I promised I would not do. However, at this time of night there are few cars and trucks on the road.

I drove all night and only took naps at the side of the road when I got tired. I was alone with the exception of my dog Sport to keep me company. I invited other people but had no takers.

The road to Mexicali is new and fast and I covered many miles. I was on the road for 19 hours that first day, not including the naps and the stop for lunch which I had made ahead of time. I finished half the egg salad and the dog cleaned up the rest.

I was worried as I was driving a trailer with Kathy’s red Volkswagen convertible on it back to the states. It had not been in the states for 12 years and I worried about taking it across the border.

There were questions as I got to the border but when I told the border guard that I was having the engine changed by my grandson and replaced with an electric one, he laughed and waved me through.

I slept an uneasy sleep at El Centro and was on the road at 5 a.m. the next morning hoping to make it to my sisters for her birthday on March 23. I had not seen her in two years because she was in an assisted living home and not allowed visits ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Her family arrived early and so did I. We celebrated her birthday for two days in Boulder City, Nevada. While her birthday was March 23, everyone had to get back to work and left on March 21, so I left too.

It turned out that this was a jump start that I would need later as I put in another long day stopping in Phoenix to see family and then finished in Gallup, New Mexico.

My son Sean and his wife Emily were supposed to have their baby boy on March 26, but word had come, that she might be early and I had better hurry.

It was March 23 when I set out hoping to reach Morton that day. However nothing went right. Twenty hours later I limped into Morton after getting lost. If it had not been for the help of my daughter Laura and husband Bart, I would never have found the hotel they booked for me.

It was past 8 p.m. and they invited me over to their house, but I said I would probably just fall asleep on their couch. I begged off until the next day.

Before I went to sleep that night, I found that I was now a great grandfather for the first time. My great grandson had arrived at 4:30 that day. His name is Mack Morrow Tumilty, keeping my middle and family name.

He arrived two days early and I was there to greet him. Virtually of course.

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