Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thoughts, memories and dreams are like clouds that drift through the mind. If you don’t take snapshots of them by writing them down, they drift off past the horizon soon to be forgotten. Very few things live beyond one’s lifetime. The wonderful thing about the written word is that it has the power to transcend time and space.

Blogs are a valuable way to capture the clouds of thought that drift through one’s mind (although the term blog does sound a bit like a rude contraction of barf and flog). Unlike travel stories and pictures sent home in the form of letters and postcards from far off lands, it is now much easier to send these digital postcards for others to read at their leisure anywhere in the world.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Our culture has taught us that new things are good and used things are bad. There are very few places in our throw away society where beauty is found in patina and well worn surfaces. Of course there are exceptions. It is always sad to see the look on the faces of people on “The Antique Roadshow” on PBS when they learn that because they stripped and refinished their antique pre-revolutionary war armoire it is now worth $50,000 dollars less than if it had the original patina.

The lack of appreciation towards well worn things tends to cross over into American attitudes towards old people as well. This is all well and good when you are young in the U.S. After the age of 60 you are probably better off in a foreign country where old age is appreciated and treated with respect. Perhaps it is because I am getting older, but I must admit that I now appreciate the look of a kind, well worn face in a third world country more than I used to:

Typing “meditation” into wikipedia you will find that one definition is:

“…effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well being while engaging in any life activity.”

Riding a motorcycle through a foreign land for hours on end can be a meditation. The more challenging the riding conditions, the more one is forced to focus on the task at hand until most extraneous thoughts are eliminated. You can become so absorbed in riding fast along a twisty mountain road on a sunny day that you may not realize that you are smiling until the road straightens out many miles later. Sort of like a moto nirvana.

Monday, January 19, 2015

This video that came out over the weekend made me smile. It's my new theme song while I still have a licence and can drive:

The police are just people like you and me. Not an easy job answering domestic abuse calls, pulling over drunks and speeders. Someone’s gotta do it. Just wish they hadn’t pulled me over in Texas in October. Ah well such is life.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Took a trip down to Baja over the holidays. My sister hadn’t been so we loaded some food and camping supplies in her truck and headed south from Arizona. The last time I rode down was maybe 8 or 10 years ago when the road was potholed pavement south of San Felipe to Puertocitos before it turned to rough washboard and light sand down past Cocos through the mountains and over to Mex 1.

I had heard of the 100 miles of smooth pavement south of San Felipe. It is like a super highway compared to days gone past:

You can still see the rough old road down below a lookout if you squint:

imagine my surprise at the gas station at the turnoff to Gonzaga Bay:

12.8 miles south of Gonzaga Bay just past a new bridge over a dry wash the pavement ends abruptly:

Finally the road that I remembered. It is vanishing like a dream you can’t quite remember when you wake:

There are only 25 miles of unpaved road remaining. Down past Coco’s corner, through the mountains over to the main highway.

Coco’s corner is still there. Stopped by to buy a couple cokes and give Coco a tip. He had one leg when I last saw him. Both legs are gone now, but he is still the same old Coco. I told him he is famoso en el internet con mis amigos de moto en ADV. He smiled. Like he cares. He is in good spirits and healthy which is all I was wondering. Sitting in the corner he looked like a Baja Budha (if you can imagine the ladies underwear still stapled to the ceiling are Tibetan prayer flags) :

Whenever life seems rough all I have to do is remember Coco hanging tough down in the desert and all my troubles seem insignificant. He is still the same irascible, can-do kind of guy with a twinkle in his eye.

Best to all for the New Year! Tio Juanito

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On a recent trip over the holidays to Baja I found this book to be helpful:

Travel Guide to Camping Mexico’s Baja by Mike and Terry Church. I normally don’t travel with guide books like Lonely Planet since they are oriented towards budget backpackers and don’t have much info on camping, secure motorcycle parking or wifi availability.

Motels have gotten quite expensive in Baja in the last 10 years so camping is your best bet if you have limited funds. Because I was traveling with my sister who had never been to Baja I found this book extremely useful for finding a campground with GPS waypoints, a shower, wifi and tent camping. We were traveling in her truck this trip and I brought my tent while she is an avid car camper, so it was nice to see which places had the stuff she would find useful like a toilet and shower.

If you have read my ride reports you know I am basically a hobo and will camp anywhere. But I was glad she brought this book along so we could find something a little more to her liking. It is up to date and it allowed us to find a nice place with wifi just south of Ensenada a few miles at sunset called the Estero Beach hotel and camping. Gated luxury camping is not really my style but when you are winter camping in Baja there are 13 hours of darkness and I can only sleep for 6 hours it means a lot of time to kill in my tent. This place had hot showers, was huge with a nice grassy malecon and wifi in my tent that allowed streaming netflix movies with Spanish subtitles (your netflix home account is now available throughout Mexico, Central and South America as of last year).

The guide also has free beaches to camp at and which places have cell phone service for people who care about that kind of thing. With all the paid ads and SEO driven websites these days on Google search it is more dificult to do a search and find useful info. Especially at night as you are driving into someplace like San Ignacio or San Felipe. This book made finding a place to camp for the night mucho easier without having to stop at an internet café and doing a search which is what I normally do.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I checked in with the county bond officer in Cleburne Texas. I don’t have any travel restrictions while I am awaiting a trial date to be set for my drunk driving arrest. Trial probably won’t be for a couple months so I loaded my truck with some camping supplies and put my new-to-me KLX 250s motorcycle that I bought this summer in Texas on the receiver hitch carrier and headed off to visit my sister in Arizona for the holidays. Why not spend some time in sunny Arizona while I wait?

I had to finish grouting the tile in the bedrooms and bathroom where I was working at Larry’s house before I left Texas. It took longer than I expected. I finally finished at midnight, loaded up the truck and left at 2 AM. Finally on the road again. I remember smiling as I listened to classic rock on the radio driving through the night in scattered thunderstorms near San Angelo Texas. Music can take you back in time. The places you went and the people you were with when first hearing a song seem to be indelibly etched into your being, only to come back years later as distant memories. A song can trigger the memory of the perfume of an old girlfriend I haven’t thought of in years. Until the beeping of the interlock device on the truck ignition startled me from my reveries. It is like an authority figure. I must blow into it every 40 or 50 miles on this 1000 mile journey to make sure I don’t have alcohol on my breath. I had heard of these devices before but never knew how they worked before having one installed in my truck in October so I could continue driving. I thought you had to blow into it once in order to start your car. But no. Drunks are clever I guess. And to keep them from gaming the system the device continually needs to be blown into every 30 minutes or so to make sure you didn’t stop at the liquor store somewhere. Although annoying, it is a small price to pay to be able to drive through the night.

I stopped for an hour at a rest stop just before sunrise for a short hour long catnap. The wind was howling and ocassionally blowing tumbleweeds and plastic bags across the highway as I started out again at dawn. It was still raining hard as I took the entrance ramp onto interstate 10 heading west. The north wind was blowing so hard that the spray from the trucks was heading straight south across the passing lane practically blinding me even with fast wipers as I passed them. Climbing into the west Texas hills just north of Big Bend the rain turned to horizontal snow. I slowed down and followed the truck tire tracks through the slush for 100 miles or so before dropping down to El Paso. The highway was backed up with Christmas shoppers madly blocking the exit ramps to the malls in El Paso. The lines of exiting cars were streaming out onto the freeway and totally blocking traffic.

I have made a concerted effort to avoid giving or recieving birthday or Christmas presents for the past couple of decades. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my friends and relatives. I just don’t like making people feel obligated to send me a gift. The way to avoid this is to stop sending them holiday and birthday gifts. You might have to take some heat in the beginning, but believe me you are doing them a favor by letting them cross a name off their list. I feel sorry for these people who are stuck on the hampster wheel of holiday gift giving in El Paso. Christmas is for children.

After another 10 hours of driving I arrived at my sister’s house in Arizona. She had never been to Baja, so it seemed like a good idea to load up her truck with camping gear and spend Christmas in Baja. It’s changed a lot in the last 8 or 10 years since I last rode my motorcycle down to the tip. I’ll tell you all about it in the next update.