Saturday, April 11, 2020

California - June 24th, 2019

Los Angeles to Los Gatos - Pre Mexico shakedown

“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ships's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself....A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Mt. Pinos

The Airline Highway near Priest Valley

California - July 4th, 2019

Independence Day

For weeks it had been an enthralling game, a meditation, and at times and obsession, wondering what to pack and where to pack it. The major departments were Food, Clothing, Bed, Tools, First Aid, Documents, Cameras and Fuel. The Kitchen was pretty much established in one of the side boxes. I had a neat Optimus petrol stove in its own aluminum saucepan; a non stick frying pan with a folding handle; a pair of nesting stainless-steel mugs; some ill-assorted containers for salt, pepper, sugar, tea, coffee and so on…..and an impeccable white linen jacket reserved for garden parties on the lawns of tropical embassies…..As well as various antibiotics and other drugs and salves, I had bandages of every description, dressings suitable for amputations and third degree burns, tweezers for extracting bullets and disposable scalpels for performing my own appendectomies. In screw top bottles I was given some horrendous white stuff for body lice, and a strange mixture of cod-liver oil and glucose, which, they said, was an old naval remedy for tropical sores.  
-Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels

A visit to Valdi's Motozone for new tires.

Mexico - July 6th, 2019

Los Angeles to Arcosanti, Az - via Joshua Tree, Blythe, Salome, and Prescott (438 miles)

Mexico July 7th, 2019

Arcosanti, Az to Bisbee, Az (274 miles)

Awoke in a guest room at Arcosanti, ate a late breakfast as the day began to get hot.  Rode the freeway down to Tucson. Too hot!  Too crowded! Get me out of here!  A cloud burst outside of Tombstone cooled me and the engine a bit, and washed off some of the dust.  Made it to The Copper Queen in Bisbee in time for a cold beer and the Variety Show.  

Mexico - July 8th, 2019

Bisbee, Az to Banámichi, Mx (142 miles)

The town of Bisbee in the morning, just gutting hot, and everyone still sleeping off the night before.

The border fence at Naco,  newly decorated with shiny concertina wire.

Looking towards Mexico, everything changes.

“Ruta la Sonora” heading towards Banamichi. The “Vados” were mostly dry, though a few still had a little water in them.

When a river crosses the road it becomes a park. The algae growing in the hot sun is super slippery! (Just ask “turkeycreek”) Not much traffic so kids use the road as a slip-and-slide. Nice spot to sit in the shade on a hot day.

And arrival at the beautiful Hotel Los Arcos in Banámichi.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Mexico - July 9th & 10th, 2019

Banámichi to Navojoa (309 miles) 
Navojoa to Mazatlan (351 miles)

It’s hard to leave a comfortable bed, good food, and pleasant conversation, but I must continue south. Pleasant winding roads through mountains and country side until Hermosillo where I mount the long straight ribbon of concrete that will take me to Navojoa and then on to Mazatlan. The drone of the engine, and the search for a shady place to stop and drink some water or juice, is constant. In Los Angeles it seems the world is paved, with patches of honest dirt here and there. In Mexico only a thin ribbon of road conveys me through endless expanses of dust, mud, and burning fields. Strong smells of smoke, cattle, and roadside carrion are ever present. Off the ribbon things change suddenly and often treacherously.

Mexico - July 11th, 2019

Mazatlan in the mid-day heat

The heat forces tranquility on the town. Mid-day the buildings no longer cast shadows on the narrow streets. Everyone has gone indoors, to be still by whirling fans in open windows. In the morning the cafes are full, no one leaving the tables, staying as still as possible until it’s too hot to bear. By noon everyone is gone, the cafes are empty. After sunset, the Malecon is packed and the cafes revive, hardly a table to be found. Everyone has come out to live, and be loud, and see who’s there.

The Hotel Belmar

Mexico - July 12th, 2019

Mazatlan to Tepic (173 miles)

Turned inland to escape the heat. The evening breeze is cool, rain clouds are filling the sky, it’s not raining yet. Plaza Principal is full of old and young. The vibe is good.

Mexico - July 13th, 2019

Tepic to Ajijic (157 miles)

Endless fields of Agave as I pass the town of Tequila. The road winds up into the mountains, the trucks crawl along in the right lane, and on one curve I pass thousands of bottles of Victoria beer shattered all over the road. Near Jocotepec the sky finally opens up on me for the first time, and it pours rain.

The best place to meet other bikers is cowering from the cloudburst under a Pemex roof.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Mexico - July 14th, 2019


Reina del Lago de Chapala, La Virgen de Zapopan

Church bells, a brass band, The Virgin, sacred hymns, insistent and never ceasing drums, ecstatic dancing, for hours through the mid-day heat.

Catholicism, indigenous culture remembered. Something between the sacred and profane.