Friday, November 19, 2010

Welcome To Mexico

We officially entered the third leg of our trip... Into Latin America. With continuous media coverage and issues from the Canadian Government of non-essential travel being bad in Mexico, it was a little nerve racking to cross the border. However, the border crossing of course went off with out a hitch. We collected out tourist visas as well as our import papers for the van and no one seemed to be looking at us like we were crazy for crossing into their country. That being said we didn't stop and hang out out with the locals in Tijuana, but rather just continued on our way to get as far south as we could.
It was clear from the get go, that there was something exciting going on in the Baja, and we had been told by friends about the Baja 1000. The longest non-stop off road race in the world! Obviously something that needed to be checked out. However we had a couple days to go to get to San Juanico where we had some aquaintences from Canmore and we were planning to watch the race.

Andrew getting the new boards on the roof with the new roof racks! Wahoo!

Enjoying the Mexico heat... oh wait... I am wearing a sweater because it is COLD at night! 

Massive Cacti everywhere. As if thats not one of the coolest things you have ever seen!

Welcome To Baja

Ill let you think for yourselves how these tracks got here... But let me give you a hint... It wasn't fun. And lasted for three hours

Watching some crazy driving. Just a regular day on the main highway in the Baja... the trucks are so close you can almost touch them as they drive by.

Finally getting into the Mexican life. On Bahia Concepcion

Our first campground that we have had to pay for in the three months on the road... I guess it is an okay spot to fork over 4 bucks.

Enjoying the moonlight

Bahia Conception on the Gulf is a popular spot for gringos escaping winter... You can see why!

El Pelicano!

On our way to San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) we took the race course route for the Baja 1000... this is a pretty easy section... 

We finally made it to San Juanico after a few days and traversing the peninsula on the Race Track... It was an experience! What takes the racers about 40 minutes took us almost 4 hours!
We arrived to the welcoming casa of Barb Hertell and her husband Christo, fellow Canmorons. It was great to see some local faces and they showed us all the ropes of thier new found home in which they spend most of the year. We had a day of surfing! Wahoo... where we were reminded how humbling the sport can be. It was something else to see a bunch of ex-pats slicing through the waves while we got a lesson in humility. But it was great fun none the less and are determined to be as good at the old guys here by the time we are done.
But on to the race. The Race consists of about 300 entries with everything from motor bikes to huge trophy trucks (the stars of the show) to dune buggies, to anything else you can imagine suping up and driving gnarly roads. The first bikes came through at about 7pm and it is now 3pm the next day and there are still racers trickling through. Many do it in teams although there are a few nut jobs out there who do it solo which takes approximately 32 hours of driving. And not only are they just driving... but they are driving on public roads... and they are driving at speed of up to 100 MILES an hour and the roads are open to anyone! Its complete bananas! Anyways, it was a total riot and we met loads of people who were all out witnessing this crazy bizzare show of machoism!

Bike in the Honda Pit Stop. Total Gong Show.

Trophy truck blasting through the dust

All in all it has been a killer experience. We have met Mexicans and Gringos alike and all have been incredibly friendly. We are crossing our fingers that this trend will continue as we head down the coast in a few days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Extreme Sight Seeing

The last few days since Las Vegas have been pretty full on. We have tried to see as many sights in the southwest as possible all the while dreaming of getting out on some surfboards. From Vegas we hit up the Hoover Dam. 

 From there we drove to the grand canyon which was a bit of a let down as we ended up driving for miles only to find out the place we went to charged FIFTY dollars just to go out and look at it... so we poached a glance down a side road that ended up on the local runway and kind of had to get out of there pretty quick! Never the less we saw the canyon but the pictures were not so good. The picture below was some of the stunning scenery that surrounds the canyon.

We travelled for a while on the infamous Route 66 and tried to imagine what it was like to travel on the first paved road that crossed America from Chicago to Los Angeles!

We visited the Hollywood walk of fame and ran into Mickey, as well as Andrews cousins (Terri and Mark) who just recently moved to LA and specifically HOLLYWOOD. How glamourous! We stayed the night with Terri and Mark to have a little taste of what it was like living the American Dream. However we were very quickly overwhelmed by the traffic and the people and felt like we needed to get on our way again!

We stopped by in Santa Monica to check out the famous pier and the end of Route 66.

We are currently in San Clemente, a town between LA and San Diego... although it seems the houses never stopped from leaving LA. We drove 170km to get here from Hollywood and seemingly never left the city. However now we are organizing our lives to start surfing, and that is keeping our minds occupied and allowing us to bear the crazyness of southern California!

Looking out to the San Clemente Beach

Watching the surfers and reminding ourselves how to do this sport.

Sun setting over the Pacific

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Vegas Blog

We woke up on Friday morning with visions of neon lights and slot machines dancing before our eyes. We slept just outside the tiny town of Tecopa and awoke in the morning to a brilliant sunrise from the east. We could only assume that the firey yellows and reds were a direct result of the pollution coming from the major gambling town to the east. Some of you may have heard of it. Its a small place in the middle of the desert that is the home of sin and seduction. How could we not go? Andrew had never been before, and although I have been twice... this was the first time since being "over 21".
So you ask... what did we see? What did we do? What was it like? Did we party? Did we 'sin'? Did we dance? Well... I hate being cliche... but for this time it has to be said...

 What happens in Vegas... Stays in Vegas

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hot Springs and DEATH... Valley that is.

 We left Anna, Marco and their wicked hospitality with a new mission. Marco had kindly given us the book "Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest". If any of you know Andrew you know that he loves hot springs and the Whiteswan hot springs near Invermere BC is one of his favorite spots on the planet. So this book was like a godsend to him. Lucky for us, heading south from Reno on the 395 was like hitting the motherlode of hot springs.  The first night we went to Buckeye hotsprings. A tough place to find in the dark, but we managed and spent an incredible night laying in the hot pools beside the river staring at the overwhelmingly clear sky and searching for shooting stars and contemplating how amazing our lives are.

The next day after we went back to Buckeye for a morning soak we headed to the Travertine Hot Springs. A little more effort was put into the creation of the pools and created a stunning effect with the water creating its own 'tufa ridges' made from the mineral 'Travertine'. There were four pools together from one travertine ridge each a slightly different temperatures as well as an upper and lower pool all spread out by 100 meters or so.

The next night we stayed at the "Hot Pool" Hot spring after getting treated to dinner in Mammoth Lakes by Gunther a german we met at Mono Lake. Hot Pool was situated with an amazing view of the sierras and we proceeded to have another amazing night of star gazing and shooting star searching. 

Mono Lake

The following day we had a serious day of Hot Springing. We went to three different hot springs. The last was a hot river that had multiple pools of varying temperatures. 

After we felt we had really made a serious effort and had good success with the hot springs we headed into Death Valley National Park. I think we have managed to hit some of the perfect times for travelling and driving through Death Valley in November was no exception. The weather was plenty hot and the amount of tourists was down significantly from the summer season. We had a great day of checking out canyons, jumping off sand dunes and of course going to the lowest point in North America. It had to be done after staring at Denali just a month and a half ago!