Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Just for Fun, a Few Random Photos That Brent Took of Me

Here's a handful of photos that Brent took throughout the Baja Divide.


That dreadful rock section




Look! No hands!


Can you say sandy road?

Just one of the many river crossings



Feb 20 and 21--Goodbye Baja, a Four Part Journey


Our driver came through this morning, and drove us to the airport in his van. Brent, Sarah, and I sat on the floor in the back with the bikes and bags. It was only a 5 minute ride, but oh so much easier than schlepping our stuff out to Mex 1 to catch a bus. We gave him a bunch of pesos, and muchas gracias(ed) him profusely.

Nothing was open when we arrived, but the little market opened after 30 minutes or so. We were able to get some snacks.

The United counter finally opened. Now came the test. Would they accept our bikes as a regular piece of luggage? We thought Sarah should go first, as her bike was the closest to being 62 linear inches (Brent and I knew our bikes were more like 80 linear inches). We figured if they let Sarah's bike through, they would think ours were the same. Well, we ended up at different ticket agents. I put my bike on the scale. It was just under 30 lbs. I said, "Woo Hoo, less than 30 lbs!" The agent smiled, and put it near the baggage belt. Didn't even really look at the dimensions. He did the same with Brent's bike, then asked if it was a wheelchair. I was tempted to say yes, but instead said no, it was a bike. We were charged $135 for four pieces of luggage (the bikes and shopping bags). That means we were not charged extra for the bikes!

Sarah and Tom were at the counter next to us. The agent there was pulling out a tape measure...uh oh. Sarah's bike measured 64 linear inches, but they let it go. Tom had packaged his bike a little differently. It was longer. The lady made him repack it. Fortunately, we had brought the roll of cling wrap with us. He took the bike outside, and we repacked it to make it shorter. They accepted it. Okay, step one accomplished. We did find out that, because we are overnight in the Houston airport, we have to retrieve our bags and bikes, and keep them with us overnight. We also might have to pay baggage fees again, which sucks.

At security, they took the rocks Brent had collected. They said shells were no problem. So, Brent carried those rocks for nothing. Bummer.

This airport has, not one, but two Subway restaurants! Not that I needed to, because I've already checked a Mexico Subway off my list, but we still had sandwiches. Now we're just waiting to board...

Part Dos--It's Like the Movie "Terminal"

We arrived in Houston.

Most importantly, our bikes seemed to arrive unscathed. We did the Passport Control dance, and picked up our bags. We tried to recheck them for our flight tomorrow, but because our layover is more than 13 hours, we couldn't do it. The lady said we could check the bags at 10:00pm. So, we were stuck in airport limbo land where the only food was Starbucks. First, since we couldn't take the carts on the train to the main terminal, we decided to go in shifts to the other terminals; two of us watching the stuff, while two went to eat. Unfortunately, Sarah and Tom weren't able to find anyplace. So much for that idea. I got some yogurt and a bagel from Starbucks.

After awhile, Sarah decided to go upstairs and see if we could check our bags, and bikes. Amazingly, we could! Even more good news, we didn't have to pay again for the baggage (the e-ticket receipt had said we would have to pay twice for our bags).

Once we were free of our bags and bikes, we were able to go back through security to airport restrauntlandia. I wasn't terribly hungry, so I just got a salad.

Now we have hunkered down at gate E-1, as it seems pretty quiet. We've pulled out mats and sleeping bags. Only 11 hours and 45 minutes until our next flight...

Part Tres--A Less Than Restful Night

We maybe could have picked a quieter place to try to sleep. There was a late night flight to San Antonio that boarded at 11:00 or so. Just after they closed the doors, a guy comes running up. They wouldn't let him on, but about 3 hours later, everyone on the plane had to get off because there was some mechanical malfunction. The flight was now going to depart at 9:35am (they put everyone up in a hotel--too bad we couldn't have tagged on to that one!). So, the guy who missed the flight really didn't miss it, but maybe got on another flight, and therefore made it to San Antonio before his scheduled flight!

Anyway, there was that commotion from 1:00-2:00am. Not much sleeping happening then. I didn't really feel like I slept until about 4:00am. Then we were up about 5:45. I really wonder how long a person could stay in the airport before employees noticed. In a large airport, probably a long time.

Now we are waiting at the gate for our final flight...

Part quattro--So Much for our Tidy Wrap Job

As we boarded the flight, we caught a glimpse of the bikes being loaded. Holy crap! The shrink wrap on both Tom and Sarah's bikes was a mess! Mine and Brent's fared a little better. We think it was because Tom and Sarah had included their frame bags and seat bags in the bike package. Needless to say, we were a bit nervous when we got to baggage claim in Portland. Sarah's bike in particular might as well of not had any wrap at all! We don't understand why they didn't just cling wrap it again (we know they have the stuff). Anyway, we won't know if there is damage to any of the bikes until we reassemble them (that won't happen today).

DA and his wife drove the Swallow's cool van (a Mercedes Sprinter type van--I could live in it!) to the airport. We loaded everything up and headed for Olympia. It's weird to be back in winter weather. I keep thinking it should be later than February.

We said a final goodbye to Tom and Sarah after getting them to autograph the cover of the latest Adventure Cyclist Magazine of which they are the cover story (about their Trans America Trail ride). See? I said they were famous! I miss them already!!!
To Tom and Sarah, thanks again for the great times! The days from San Everisto to Olympia would not have been the same without you two! The family will have to ride again together!!!

Linda came and picked up Brent, and I finally took a shower and put on clothes I haven't worn in the last 54 days!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feb 19--The Final Countdown!

We moved to the Cactus Inn which is closer to the airport, although we're still not sure how we are getting to the airport.

Sarah routed us to the hotel on dirt roads, so we didn't have to ride on Mex 1 hardly at all.
The part of San Jose Del Cabo that most gringos never see.

Once we got checked in, we started the process of packing up the bikes. I took off most of the bags, then we rode to a restaurant that had birria, which a a soup with shredded beef that you add veggies to, and tortillas. I can't believe I waited until the last day to have birria! That was a mistake. Guess I'll have to come back!

When we got back to the hotel we buckled down and got to taking the bikes apart. I thought about how Tilmann goes in his case, and used that to pack Mama Cass. Of course, she's a little bigger, but I think I did a good job.

I wrote my name and phone number, and added, "Please handle with care so this cocoon and become a beautiful bikerfly."

Here's the guys getting their bikes ready.

Once the bike was packed, I packed the Chinese Shopping bag. I'll carry on one pannier with my sleeping bag, pad, and pillow, and my little backpack with my iPad, camera, etc.

For dinner, we walked down to a hot dog stand that had more than hot dogs. I had a final torta (gonna miss those), and some juice. 

Final dinner

We were just now sitting outside talking with Liza and Tyson when a white panel van pulled in. I told Tom that van would be perfect to take us to the airport. The guy checked in, then parked his van. Tom went over and asked the guy if he could give us a ride tomorrow morning. He said yes! This is Mexico! People are amazing! We're not sure if he said 6:00, 6:30, or 7:00. We'll be ready at 6:00.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Feb 18--Adventures in Bus Riding!

Indeed, we did stay in San Jose Del Cabo. We needed to gather packing supplies for the bikes, and wanted to look around more. The weather forecast, however, was not great. At around 10:00, I knocked on Tom and Sarah's door to see if they were ready to go on the hunt for packing supplies, as it wasn't raining yet. Brent was out talking to a couple we met yesterday. They offered to take us to Walmart, and drop us off on their way out of town.

Walmart didn't really have what we were looking for, so we went across the street to Fed Ex, and a mailbox store. Neither had what we were looking for. We decided to take a bus to Costco. We got on the first bus that came by that was going by Costco. It cost 32 pesos. Soon we were racing along Mex 1 toward Cabo San Lucas, and I mean racing! The bus was flying at a tremendous speed. The windows were open, and the blue curtains were flapping. Then we pulled off the highway, and the driver pulled over. He got out, and opened up the hood. Uh oh, that's not good. But, he got back on, and we took off. Pretty soon we could smell something, and the engine was smoking. Again, the driver pulled over and opened up the hood. At this point, we were stopped in front of a Home Depot. Perfect! We got off and went to Home Depot. We found exactly what we were looking for (a big roll of shrink wrap, and packing tape). When we came back out, the bus was still sitting there. We played Frogger (1990's video game) to get across the highway so we could catch another bus back. A much nicer bus pulled up (cost 37 pesos this time), and we rode back to town. As we were walking back to our hotel, we saw some discarded cardboard. We gathered it up, and kept walking.

We dropped our supplies back at the hotel, and headed to Baja Brewing for some lunch (and beer for those who like it). On the way, it started to rain. The pub wasn't too far, so we didn't get too wet. The place was packed, but we finally got a table indoors. I had a great pulled pork sandwich, and homemade root beer. Then it really started to pour down rain, and the wind was blowing too. We just sat in the pub for a bit longer. When it eased up we went out, and decided to go peruse the shops. Because we must have dessert after every meal, we opted for the OXXO station (like 7-11, only more prevalent). Then the rain came down in buckets! We made a run for the hotel the moment the rain let up.

For dinner, we went to a place the couple had recommended. It's called, in English, The Hangman. The food was good. Sarah finally got to eat a lingua taco (tongue). I don't think she was impressed. Two other riders, Liza and Tyson, joined us. A guitar player came and played for us. It was fun, and the food was good.

On our way back to the hotel, Tom and I went for churros one more time. They weren't as fresh as last night, but still good.

Once again, I seem unable to add photos. That's okay, though, I didn't take many today anyway.

I feel like this was our last night in Mexico, even though we still have one more night. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of hard work getting the bikes packed, and ready to go.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Feb 17--We Made It to San Jose Del Cabo, and Only One Pig Pile


Well, we've done it! We have completed our version of the Baja Divide! We packed up, and shoved our bikes through the sand for our last day of riding.
Last morning on the beach
The Coast road was really not bad. We were told there was only private property, but that was not true. There were several public places to access the beach, mostly surf spots. Sadly, we did not see a turtle sanctuary. We found out the turtles aren't really around until March. We did, however, see several humpbacks slapping their fins on the water--too far away for photos, but cool to see.

About midway through the ride, we came across a fancy hotel. It had a restaurant, so we stopped and had some food. Sarah wasn't feeling great, so it was a good break, and a chance to get some fluids (especially Coke), and food.

The Coast road is a lot of up and down. The ups are not too difficult, and neither are the downs.
Dylan

Brent with Sarah in the distance
Usually, at the bottom of a hill, there was some deeper sand. I had no problems rolling through it. There was one downhill though...it was curvy. Brent went around the corner, closely followed by Tom. I was a respectable distance behind them, but not too far. As I came around the corner, all I could see was a pile of bikes, and Tom. At first I couldn't even see Brent under the bikes! I stopped before running into them. First thing Tom says is, "Well, we got that out of the way!" Fortunately, neither of the bodies, or the bikes, were badly hurt, just a few scrapes. Apparently, Brent came around the corner, and hit a soft spot in the road. His front wheel went sideways, and he went down. Tom, being fairly close behind Brent, hit Brent's bike, and flew over the bikes and Brent. Brent's bike was completely upside down. I took a couple of photos.
The pig pile



We came upon a sign saying San Jose Del Cabo 25km to the right. We thought we would be following the dirt road all the way into town, but apparently not. The final 25km was paved, and included a rather long climb. It looked bad from a distance, but wasn't really too bad once we were going up. I listened to my music.

Once we hit town, Dylan navigated us to the Hotel Posada Terranova, where Nick is staying. It is right in the middle of the old town for a very reasonable price of 960 pesos/night.

We showered (yep, it was the BEST SHOWER EVER!!!), and dropped our laundry off at the lavanderia around the corner (I may have to relearn how to do my own laundry when I get home). We'll pick it up tomorrow. Then we got more pesos, and headed to the center of Old Town (the Misíon area) to catch a bus to the free Jazz Festival. The busses are old school busses. There are specific stops, but you can also just flag them down. It costs 12 pesos. When you want to get off, you just walk up to the front of the bus, and the driver stops and lets you off.

The jazz festival was okay. There were various vendors there selling paintings, and a variety of other crafts and food. I had a shrimp empanada that was tasty. We also ate at a food truck. I had a Cameron y pancetta burger and papas frites. It was delicious. Then we had gelato. Also delicious!
Music

The food truck

We got back on the bus, and got off back in the Misíon area. We walked around a bit, and found a churro cart. I was stuffed, but managed to choke down a couple of churros. We even saw how they make them (not like it was a super big mystery, but fun to watch nonetheless).
Making churros!

Since we could hold no more food in our bellies, we walked back to the hotel. Tomorrow we have to get stuff to pack up the bikes, then we will move to a hotel closer to the airport...or maybe we will stay here another night???
Balloon guy



Feb 16--Stars on the Sand, and in the Water

It's hard to believe this is our last night camping on the Baja Divide, but what a day we've had!

Because this is now the snorkel tour, we of course started our day with a snorkel session. We saw some different fish, and some of the same fish we've seen before, but not at Arbolita.


Since some of us were a little short on food, we opted to go back to Cabo Pulmo and eat lunch at Pepe's again, then get a bit more food from the aberrotes. Yesterday, there wasn't much selection. Today they had restocked and there were more options. It was a good choice to go back. Besides, we were only going to Los Frailes, a short 9km from Cabo Pulmo.

Brent and I took off a bit before the others. We were looking for a road off the main road to the beach. Every road we saw said private property. Finally, we saw a road that had no sign. We waited for the others to catch up...and waited, and waited. Finally, we decided to ride back because, clearly, they weren't coming. As we were riding back, we could see some palapas (the umbrella things) on the beach. I figured the others must be there. Sure enough, as we were pushing the bikes through the sand, we could see Tom walking toward us. Part of the beach is the end of Cabo Pulmo National Park, the other part is a fish camp.

The water looked pretty calm, so we got our snorkel stuff out and headed for the water. Well, once we got to where we wanted to get in, we found the surf to be rather rough, and the chance of being thrown onto the rocks pretty high, so we made the prudent decision to NOT go snorkeling.

Back at the palapas, Tom decided to go see if he could score some fish from the fishermen. They had marlin they were willing to sell. He bought a huge piece, 1 kilo (the smallest amount they would sell) for 120 pesos (remember, that's about $7.00--$7.00 for 2 lbs of marlin!). The fishermen said it was best raw. The others ate it that way first (I declined--my stomach has done well so far), then made some ceviche. Later, he grilled some over the fire on the license plate. I did eat some of that, and it was very good.

While we were eating, Justin and Koby rode up. We last saw Justin in La Paz. He took the bus to San Jose Del Cabo to meet up with his girlfriend, Koby, to do the Cape Loop (she is from Australia). They made the same mistake Brent and I did, but they rode even farther.

While we were sitting around the fire, we could hear some people down the beach (they came in by boat to some tents that were already set up). We decided to go see what they were doing. Tom and Sarah were ahead of me, and they were yelling at me to come see, and turn off my headlamp. As I got to the water, I could immediately see what they were looking at. It was bioluminescence! If you don't know what it is, you'll have to google it because it was impossible to photo. It was incredible! It was like looking at a sky full of stars, except it was on the beach, and in the water. We could sweep our feet across and send a spray of bioluminescence over the sand. We walked down to the end of the beach where the bioluminescence was even more prevalent because the water is more stirred up. It was so cool! Tom, Sarah, and Dylan were wanting to go swimming, but, in the end, didn't (smart idea I think).

So, we didn't get to snorkel at this beach, but we were rewarded with amazing bioluminescence! What a fantastic way to spend our last night camping! Tomorrow, we make the push to San Jose Del Cabo. Then, it will be crazy trying to sort out the bikes to fly home.

Feb 15--This is Not a Bike tour, This is a Snorkel Tour!


I think it's possible that we snorkeled longer today than we biked. First, this morning, Tom tried to swim out to the whales we saw passing by. He was making good progress, but then there were too many jellyfish, so he had to abort his mission. Besides, the whales were going faster than he was swimming anyway. At one point we could tell there were 4 distinct whales surfacing. We are pretty sure they were humpbacks because they are common in the Sea of Cortez at this time of year.

We left the beach, and rode into the town of Cabo Pulmo, which is about halfway into the National Park. It was a sweet little town--seemingly more gringos than Mexicans, but it is a tourist spot. We had second breakfast at Pepe's--pan frances made with homemade bread, YUM!

There was an aberrotes that had minimal stock, but we were able to get water. Apparently, there is no other resupply between here and San Jose Del Cabo. So, once again, I'm carrying the baby seal (that's what the dromedary bag looks like when it's full).

The rest of our ride was all of 3 miles to Los Arbolitos, a great snorkeling and camping beach. It cost 50 pesos each, but totally worth it (of course, that's like $2.50). This beach has the same umbrella things as the last one. We each took one, and set up our tents.

The snorkeling is great! All kinds of fish. Brent even saw a small octopus (pulpo en español). I got lots of photos.



Later, I went back in the water, but to the other side of the cove. I was swimming along when I heard the others yelling my name. I looked up, and they were gesturing to get out of the water. Not knowing why, I swam as quickly as I could back to the beach. They said they had seen something out in the water, and thought maybe it was a shark...even though it is not shark season. Then they thought maybe it was a turtle. Anyway, a guy on the beach said I swam pretty fast. Well, sure...if a whole group of people were yelling at you to get out of the water, you'd swim fast too!

After awhile, we all went back in the water. It's so much fun to see all the different fish, and to spot ones you haven't seen before. I saw an orange one with lighter colored stripes, and just a stubby tale. That was a new one. Tomorrow morning we are going to go out further because Sarah said she saw bigger fish out there. It would also be cool to see a turtle.

Sarah and I also went for a walk on the rocks (not necessarily princess shoe or flip flop appropriate). There were some pools where we saw sea urchins, snails, sea slugs, and tons of crab scuttling around the rocks. Then, we climbed up to a trail we could see on the bluff. Good photo ops there!


There's no wood for a beach fire here, so Tom lit a candle. A good alternative for light, but not so great for cooking.

We rode a whopping 13 miles today. Tomorrow we will see how far we will ride. There is another snorkel spot not far. If there is a restaurant in the next town, we'll probably camp another night. If not, we'll probably book it to San Jose Del Cabo. Sarah and I were remarking how much fun it's been since we started riding together in San Everisto. This has really seemed like a fun vacation with great friends!