The Journey

La Paz

Thank you Will (known as The Viking by the local senoritas) for your hospitality, your company and your friendship. You are the kind of friend that I know I will always see again.

With the clock ticking, time running out and a storm rolling in, I decided to skip pedaling the 225 miles from Loreto to La Paz. After all, it’s nothing but desert and twisty, shoulderless mountain roads.

I chose to take a bus from Loreto. In my stereotyping mind, I imagined the Baja buses to be run down with chickens and small goats on board. I was definitely wrong! The buses that run up and down the Baja penninsula are very nice and comfortable with no sign of chickens or goats anywhere.

An inner battle I experienced was to pedal or not to pedal. Would I be cheating? Shouldn’t I be fighting the wind, the rain, the hot, the cold and the inclines? Shouldn’t I throw caution to the wind and move my rearview mirror so I can’t see the rigs, buses and RV’s coming up behind me while I take up room in their lane? But then it came to me that there are no rules, that it’s ok to take the bus, that it would probably be foolish of me not to. There is no medal waiting for me in Cabo or California. The reward would be getting back safely and every experience is an opportunity to embrace change… which will occur with or without my consent.

When I started this journey, I sought change. I didn’t want to travel as I always had – which is to fly somewhere, rent a car and stay in a hotel. Isolation at its finest. I’ve accomplished making this change. I’ve reduced my needs to minimal space and weight. I’ve discovered how little I need to enjoy my surroundings, to discover the unique beauty, talents and attributes of the people I’ve come in contact with. I’ve experienced the beauty of seeing moose on the side of the road, bald eagles flying overhead and trees growing from rock crevices.

When I look at my many, many photos and I see pictures like the tree above, I think about the perseverance of nature. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if each of us had 1% of that perseverance?

Any which way, from the front seat vantage point of the bus, I enjoyed the view with my shoes kicked off, a bag of snacks at my feet and cell service most of the way allowing me to play scrabble games with friends as I rolled across the Mexican desert. It was quite luxurious after pedaling for days and battling a rash on my bottom from bicycle seat irritation. I must add that baby wipes are a must between showers! The things we never discuss…

On another note, I always appreciate the concern of others when they hear I am traveling alone and I typically laugh it off saying it’s okay, I have life insurance. There’s a bit of truth to that. It is okay and I do have life insurance. I feel fortunate that I can wander around another country where I can’t speak the language, but I’ve always found a way to communicate enough to get the message across. As far as life insurance, I have peace of mind knowing my loved ones will be provided for if anything happened. Like the carcasses I’ve seen alongside the road while pedaling, we all have an expiration date and having died before, I tend to look at every day as bonus time. So all in all, being dirty, sweaty and stinky sometimes while I pedal – is truly a gift to be embraced… until my terrible sense of smell let’s me know I’ve pushed humanitarian boundaries.

Having made it to La Paz before the storm, I decided to find a hostel to meet fellow travelers like I did in Alaska and Canada. I viewed my choices and chose the Peace Hostel. It’s a wonderful environment and I had the pleasure of spending last evening with two gentlemen from Germany and a couple from Switzerland – all backpacking. It was a fun evening of cooking together, discussing food, wine, places we’ve been, places we’ve yet to go, politics, perspectives, fears, life, death, prodigies, challenges, love and all that really doesn’t matter. A wonderful evening enhanced with Chilean wine and talk of the differences between tourists and travelers.

I like this town. I think I’ll explore for a few days and wait out the coming storm. Thank you for following me! If you’re new, click on the FOLLOW ME link in the menu and enter your email address to receive my coming blogs. Have a Great Day!

Happy New Year!

As I sit at a wooden table made from a large wire spool, the wind blowing the palm trees near me, the sky cloudy and grey, my hand-washed laundry drying on a rope stretched between two poles and church bells ringing in the distance, I am embracing the new year.

I have been here in Loreto, visiting my friend Will. Just a little over a year ago I was here and met the bike riders that inspired me to do this bike trek. It has definitely been an adventure. I have experienced all weather conditions, pedaled many miles, saw many beautiful things, met many wonderful people, thought many thoughts and discovered what I am capable of.

Tomorrow I’m heading to La Paz, where the weather isn’t much better than here, but it is closer to my final destination – San Jose del Cabo, where I will be catching a flight back to Southern California. If I hadn’t purchased a ticket already, I would probably head back sooner. This cooler weather isn’t what I expected. It’s all good though. It’s part of the journey.

While pedaling the other day, I came to realize that this bike ride is just like life itself. Sometimes we are faced with a mountain we must climb. There is no avoiding this obstacle, this time consuming challenge. After we muster up the strength to take it on, the road becomes steeper, the wind is blowing against us, the heat is making it harder, and the odds against us start to feel overwhelming, that thought of giving up crosses our mind. Right about then we are magically offered a short, strong gust of wind from behind that gives us temporary relief, hope and renewed faith that we can make it to the top. Sometimes that gust of wind/encouragement is a passing motorist who waves, honks, offers a peace sign, a thumbs up or a fist of strength. Sometimes it’s the thought of proving something to ourselves. Sometimes it’s the fire or stubbornness within us, and sometimes it’s someone in our life who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Whatever the case may be, if we keep pushing forward we will crest that mountainous challenge. We are stronger than we think. I was told that by a very wise woman one time, but I continued to doubt myself and my capabilities.

Approaching the end of this journey, I’ve discovered that I can let go of past resentments, disappointments and heartbreaks. I can understand that we are all on our own journeys and all I can do is offer love and a helping hand to those who need it and are willing to receive it.

Well, I’d better do my part and flip over my laundry so mother nature can dry everything as she will – in her time, not mine.

Thank you for following me! Below are some photos for your viewing pleasure. Please comment below. Have a Great Day!

Baja 1000

From Puertecitos we continued down torn up roads along Highway 5, the road that runs along the eastern side of Baja. Looking ahead, I could see we were riding into a storm. I did feel some raindrops, but nothing substantial. Having left Puertecitos first, I stopped along the highway and spoke to a passerby. I asked about the little village I could see not far off the highway. He told me that it was a fishing village and the people would be hospitable. Once Giuseppe and Yvan arrived, we discussed it and Yvan wanted to keep pushing forward into the storm. I, on the otherhand, wanted to call it a day and wait out the storm. After a while, he agreed and then we pushed our bikes down a sandy riverbed to ask about staying there.

This is where we met Nacho, the owner of the land, otherwise known as El Huerfanito. We had to wait a little while because he was out fishing. When he brought in his boat, he showed us his catch and let us know where we could camp. After we set up camp, Giuseppe and I went back to ask him if he wanted to sell any of his fresh fish, and he did. We bought 3 fish for $5 and grilled them over the fire. As expected, they were delicious.

The storm ended up going around us. Had we gone further south, we would have been drenched. The storm also went north and hit hard. Through the night, the wind howled and blew up to 50 mph. By this morning, the sky was clear and perfect for pedaling. The first thing I did was take sunrise shots of the beautiful bay.

The plan was to stop at Gonzaga Bay, which we did, but once again Yvan wanted to keep pushing forward once he gathered what he wanted from the little store. My personal journey is to enjoy the journey, not try to set a record or do it just to say I did. Giuseppe wanted to stay, but for some reason, he then wanted to ride into the desert knowing it would be 2-3 days of nothing. Frustrated, I decided to hit the road and consider my options. I had already been thinking of parting ways with the guys and enjoying this bike touring experience, so the time had arrived. I guess three is a crowd since I wasn’t interested in Brokeback Mountain Biking. I pedaled about 10 miles into the desert until the paved road ended. It didn’t turn into a short section of gravel, but a full blown dirt and rock road that had never seen gravel or pavement. This was definitely not the bike touring I signed up for! My Scott mountain bike would be much more appropriate.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I’m not a bike touring purist. Since this journey began, my bike(s) and I have been on planes, trains, ships and rental cars, but today was a first. I had the opportunity to experience what it would be like to be in the Baja 1000. Not long after I started down the dirt road, a truck came up behind me pulling a flatbed trailer set up for carrying dirt toys and I asked how far it was to the next town. The lady passenger said a couple of hours by car, which meant a few days by bike. I was hoping for a better answer, but the truth is the truth. I asked if I could get a ride, that I would gladly hang on the trailer. They agreed and so I loaded my bike, laid it on its side and hung on to the tie down straps as Sergio and Lupe blasted down the desert road. We ended up stopping a Coco’s Corner, a well known middle of nowhere place where people can camp, get water and beer. Coco is an amputee from diabetes and well known through the off road community for his well decorated little hole in the wall so I had to take a picture with him.

Before hitting the dirt road, I was passed by 4 Razor type dune buggies who waved at me. As it turned out, Sergio was driving their chase truck in case something happened to one of their vehicles. I did’t get his name, but the guy who seemed to be in charge said that I should stay on the trailer and instructed Sergio to take me to Hwy 1. Even better, they took me south to the junction for Bahia de Los Angeles, another place to explore someday. I ended up camping behind a little Mexican restaurant, happy as can be considering I won’t be spending the next 3 or 4 days distroying my bike on that dirt road. I think Giuseppe and Yvan will be a little surprised to see what they were rushing toward. Me, I’m going to head south to the beautiful beaches and enjoy my journey.

This morning I hit the road after the fog cleared. Seeing the cactus in the fog illuminated by the rising sun was an unexpcted treat.

I saw something this morning that wasn’t what I thought it was. Living in Southern California artists leave their mark everywhere such as the steel dinosaurs in the desert south of Palm Springs and the steel horses along the road south of Temecula. As I pedaled south, I saw these great replicas of large birds with open wings placed on top of giant Saguaro Cacti. There were about 10 of them. Then I thought, “Wait a minute! Why would some artist do this way out here in the middle of nowhere? I need a closer look.” So I parked my bike and walked toward the figures and Surprise! Surprise! They were live Turkey Vultures holding their wings open. According to Google, they were sunbathing! That was a first for me!

After pedaling some hills, one being the steepest hill I’ve ever climbed, I ended the day in Rosarito Sur Baja California – Meaning Rosarito in the southern part of Baja. Considering rain was in the forcast, and it’s raining as I type, I found a room with WiFi for only $20! After unpacking, I went to take a shower and understood why I received such a deal on the room. Showerheads are overrated anyway. After showering, I decided to shave (since it had been a week since the last bout with a razor) and was a little annoyed that the water would not get hot. Having a curious nature about me, I had to look under the sink. Creative plumbing! No wonder it wouldn’t get hot! I think they spent their plumbing budget on their new extrior paint!

Thank you for following me on this journey. Please make comments below and if you’re new here, click on the Follow Me link and enter your email address to receive my upcoming posts. Also, if you click on the pics I post, you can see the whole photo. Have a Great Day!

Chris

A Baja Christmas

Today was an interesting day. It was Christmas Eve and we rolled out of San Felipe. Everyone we spoke to said the roads south were torn up from the hurricane in October, but Hans from Germany and Daniel from Switzerland both made it through this section as well as the many other riders I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting, so it is passable. The first 30 miles were the typical torn up Mexican roads and then it got worse. As I pedaled down the road, I saw a cone in the middle of the lane. It was ther for good reason. There was a pothole that was 3’ wide, 6’ long and about 3’ deep. That could definitely do some damage to a car!

 


Somewhere along the bumpy road, Giuseppe lost his tent. It slipped out of the bungie cord tie down. While I sit here typing, Giuseppe is riding his bike back a few miles to see if he can find it. Hopefully he does, but if he doesn’t, the lady who owns the campground has one for sale.
We’ve been told that the road ahead is worse than the the road we’ve traveled on so far. I’m definitely going to secure everything more so! I’ve already checked all of the nuts and bolts on my bikes to make sure nothing has loosened up so far.
Even though the hurricane has done damage to the roads, it has watered the ladscape and created beautiful colors. I’m seeing sand dunes covered in purple, yellow, red and new growth green. Absolutely amazing!

 


On the way to Puertecitos we passed the Valle de los Gigantes, a valley full of giant cacti. I’ve never seen cactus so big!
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I have to mention some of the people I’ve met along the way. Let’s start with Bob. Bob was our next door neighbor in San Felipe. He is 79 years old and still out exploring. He is a kayaker. His plan for his 80th birthday is to paddle 200 mile down the Columbia River to the coast and then back 200 mile to his home. I told him that I want to be like him when I grow up!

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Here in Puertecitos, we met up with a couple that were camping near us in San Felipe as well. To me, Miles and Meagan are a perfect couple. I see them at peace with each other. Last night between Scrabble moves, I saw Miles reading a book and Meagan flossing her teeth. Call me strange, but as the warm wind blew across the bay, I saw them in perfect harmony with each other on Christmas Eve. I cant forget to mention Moss, their 7 month old little boy. After staging some Christmas morning photos, I decorated the post of their Palapa for little Moss. Everyone deserves a picture of their first Christmas in front of a Christmas Tree. Considering everything is repurposed in Mexico, we can’t forget that even that post was a pine tree at one time, so technically, I’d say that counts as a true Christmas tree!


Thank you for following me on this adventure! Last year, I had no idea I would be spending Christmas on a beautiful beach in Mexico with no cell service, surrounded by new friends and natural hot tubs. Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure…

San Flipe at Last

As the sun was sinking behind the mountains to my right last evening, I continued to pedal forward knowing a hotel room wasn’t too far ahead. It was a long day, and other than a rash on my bottom from pedaling 78 miles, I was determined to move forward. Giuseppe and Yvan stopped to camp about 25 miles behind me. I started off before them yesterday, expecting them to catch up somewhere on the road, but they never did.

After checking in to a little place, I quickly headed for the shower and was welcomed by trickling water from the showerhead. Nice. Okay, get dressed, go to the office to get another room, move all my gear to the next room and then I basked in the warm water that showered away the sweat and road grime. Ahhh.
Afterwards, I walked to the little restaurant next door looking forward to a cold beer and a hot meal, only to find they don’t sell beer there. Wait a minute! This is Mexico! Oh well, I opted for a cold Coca Cola. I do not drink Coke in the states because the ingredient label has too many chemicals I can`t pronounce. Here in Mexico, they still use pure cane sugar. I keep telling people the food is healthier down here because they do not have the money to add chemicals, preservatives and hormones to their food. Organic living?

The garlic butter fish was delicious and only $6.00! What a deal!

By 8:30pm I could barely keep my eyes open and crawled into bed. The only thing that awoke me was the sound of a couple talking in the next room around 2:30am. Though I can’t understand Spanish fluently, I was able to understand that the talking must have been seductive because words led to moans and “Aye, aye, ayes” which led me to believe that their story had a happy ending. Lol.

So as I sit here typing away, waiting for the guys to catch up, I’m enjoying a cup of coffee and the company of the Frogster who always seems to be meditating. No wonder he`s always smiling. That, or he’s thinking about the sounds of last night.

Thank you for following me! 340 miles so far and about 800 to go! Yeah, I question myself too. lol. Have a Great Weekend!

Birthday Surprises

Yesterday was an interesting birthday for me. In the past, I’ve done various things such as snowboarding, motorcycling or spending time with family or friends. Yes, yesterday was different… I pedaled 27 miles from Ensenada toward San Felipe, and most of those miles were uphill. A butt kicking kind of day.

As I was pedaling away, many thoughts crossed my mind. Thoughts of people from the past, people from the present, dreams, goals and things to be done to create the future I’m manifesting. The question that came to me somewhere near the first kilometer mark was why I was doing this. While my legs were burning and I was questioning my place in this world, my thoughts turned to gratitude. At 56 years old, I am able to pedal mountains through little one-horse towns in other countries to challenge myself. How could I not be grateful for this ability?

Somewhere near the 20th mile, I saw something unusual for late December… a Monarch butterfly fluttering around me, making its presence known. I see these butterflies regularly – well, since my mom passed away. I tend to think it was her letting me know that I would crest that mountain road and not to worry about the vultures circling above. I know I was smelling fresh, but I didn’t think it was that bad! Good thing I have a terrible sense of smell!

As I came around one bend, I saw a street sign that got me very excited! It was a sign indicating a major decline ahead. I couldn’t help but think that it was all downhill from there and I would catch up with Giuseppe and Yvan. It was a wonderful period of time, feeling the cool wind blow over my sweaty body while clocking 34 mph on my bike speedometer…

until I approached another sign. It looked like the same sign, but as I rolled closer, I saw the differences… it was a Universal symbol for an incline ahead and there was a painting of the Virgin Mary praying on a rock right behind the sign. How should that spiritual sign be taken? Mary is praying I’ll make it to the top without having a heart attack? Or maybe it was just the sick humor of an artist who thought it would be fun to mess with the bicycle riders who are foolish enough to ride on these steep, shoulderless mountain roads?

All in all, I will go with the Virgin’s prayers as I did make it to the top and down the other side… without having a heart attack on my birthday! Speaking of my birthday, I was lucky enough to have Giuseppe and Yvan present me with a cupcake that had a fountain type firework on top and a picture of the unicorn I always knew existed. What more could I ask for?

Last night we stayed in a campground in Ojos Negros, translated as Black Eyes. We had no cell service and it was pretty damn cold, but we survived. Somewhere between the neighborhood dogs barking late into the night and the roosters signalling a new day long before the sun rose, I was able to get some sleep thanks to my Ipod.

After packing up, I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a couple of tacos for breakfast at a little restaurant that has Wi-Fi. A great way to start another wonderful day!

The day resulted in another 55 miles pedaled toward San Felipe. The last few miles were a pleasurable downhill run into Lazaro Cardenas. Giuseppe and Yvan opted to camp on a nearby ranch that overlooks the valley, but being the not-so-purist of a bicycle tourist, I opted for a room at a little hotel. I definitely needed a shower after two days of hill climbing. With my riding clothes smelling extremely ripe, I asked the maid if they wash clothing. They do – for $4. What a deal! Tomorrow, I won’t be offending everyone I come in contact with! How wonderful is that! But I did have to pull out my stove to have an all carb dinner for energy tomorrow.

Thank you all for following me. I guess we are all adventurers at heart, sometimes excited about the unknown and sometimes afraid of the unknown. Have a great day!

Rosarito to Ensenada without my road bike

After a day of rest at Billy’s and enjoying Giuseppe’ Pesto Lasagna, it was time to hit the road again. I’ve ridden the Rosarito to Ensenada 50 mile bike ride 5 times now, but all except for the first ride, those rides were on my road bike which is extremely light and wasn’t loaded down with full gear. This trip was different. I wasn’t going to break any records. Bike touring is slower. It’s taking pictures, stopping to talk to locals, enjoying the scenery, listening to favorite songs and trying to not think about how much weight I’m schlepping.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve seen many things while on my bike that I’ve never seen before while driving down the same roads in a vehicle. Such as this shipwreck that has been on the Baja coast for who knows how long. A beautiful sight along the pristine coast.

When arriving in Ensenada, we had to stop at the fish market for some ceviche and a cold beer before going to a Warm Shower home where Tomas was our host. The decorations in his courtyard were perfect for the many cyclists that roll through here.

Today, we will celebrate my birthday by climbing 4500 km into the mountains as we head toward San Felipe. It should take a few days to get there and I look forward to the star filled skies as we camp between rocks and giant cacti in the Mexican desert of Baja.

I’d like to introduce you to “The Frogster” our meditating mascot…

Again, thank you for following me on this adventure. I look forward to capturing the beauty along the road to share with you! Have a Great Day!